Saturday, 11 February 2017

Back ‘home’ to a hurricane!

Back ‘home’ to a hurricane! September 2016.

Leaving the UK in the throes of an ‘Indian summer’ we are back to Grenada and a week of hard work ready to go afloat or splash as the Americans like to say.

Really, with the gentle care the boatyard took of hauling us out and the equal care we expect in returning to the water I expect there will be hardly a ripple as we majestically glide back in.

Our old and new windlass gypsy - note the wear on the old!
Still we have some serious work to do. Seacocks need servicing, the bottom needs painting and the anodes replaced. We have to plumb in our new propane gas bottles and while we are doing all this the yard will fit a new stern gland and we will engage some help to polish the hull. Yes the never ending saga of the leaking stern gland. We are finally going back to an old fashioned stuffing box, sure it will probably drip a little, but it is adjustable and easily fixed. The modern dripless gland seals never worked and dripped! (We couldn’t get a Volvo one to fit the stern tube and shaft combination).
Grenada at the end of September is hot and humid with a fair chance of rain. We are booked to launch on the 28th of September, we arrived on the 22nd  at 15.15 local time so we have 5 days to be ready (nothing like being under pressure!).

Another new fruit - Golden apple, slightly tart when green. I grated it and added carrots and fresh ginger to make coleslaw. Very nice.Love the wierd seed.When ripe it is mostly crushed for juice which is good too.

We have booked to stay at Sydneys Apartments as living in the boatyard is not much fun and we don’t need any more run ins with mosquitos! It is a brisk 10 minute walk from the boatyard but we enjoy the exercise and all the houses and gardens as we walk by. It is quite rural, so there are goats, sheep and chickens wandering around, some tethered some not. The gardens are interesting mixed crops – pumpkin’s, callaloo, okra, bananas, pigeon peas and citrus fruit trees and the ubiquitous bananas and coconuts. We do enjoy the air conditioning and hot showers when we get back in the evenings.
We engage a team of locals to prep paint and polish. Of course we provide all the materials. At one point we have a team of four working on the boat, all the skipper has to do is ensure that the boatyard provide the staging for the polishers and move the stands for the painters, oh and of course make sure that the guys do what they are supposed to do! Managing projects in the Caribbean is not like the UK, you cannot just ask the yard and expect it all to be done, active hands on management is required. Still we manage to get it all done in the time, dodging a few showers along the way while carefully monitoring the progress of hurricane Matthew making its way towards the eastern Caribbean.
Well we may be ready to launch but ‘Matthew’ has other ideas. The forecast is not good and we prepare for 60kt winds on Tuesday night. The canvas we have put back (sprayhood and bimini) comes off again and we remove the summer cover from the cockpit. Everything is lashed down and we retire to our apartment with torches, bottled water, cold food, matches and three cases of beer!
I can hear people asking why so much beer? Well dear readers, beer is the one commodity that is always in short supply after a tropical storm so like good scouts we will be prepared!

Our hurricane hole - Sydneys apartments with a panoramic view down to the boatyard and out to sea so we will be able to watch the weather coming in.

Wednesday dawns with Grenada having declared a ‘state of emergency’, schools are closed and buses are not running, only essential travel is being recommended. What a beautiful day, light winds, fluffy clouds and no rain. The local children are having the time of their lives with a day off school in the middle of the week! Much to their parents’ annoyance.

Hurricane day +1 wet n windy! At times we could not see as far as the ocean.

Matthew fortunately has passed between St Lucia and Martinique. A lot of heavy rain and winds up there but not too much for us. Unfortunately our wind and rain came a day later causing traffic chaos, landslides but fortunately no loss of life unlike other parts of the Caribbean that suffered terribly.
With the bad weather a day later than predicted and the wind and swell now blowing directly into our previously a protected harbour no boats were being launched. We spent the day in the safety of the apartment watching the chaos unfold via the TV. We were really pleased that we were not in the direct line of the hurricane.

Launched at last!

Launch day was postponed until Saturday with the yard working all weekend to catch up on the backlog.

Testing the Danbuoy. It floated happily all day long so now it is back in place ready for anything!
Finally back in the water we can begin to put the sails on and return Galene to a cruising yacht again.

Enjoying the Hog island beach party with Marie from Mai Tai and Heather and Don from Assiance.

We soon moved from Clarkes Court Bay to Mount Hartman bay.

An evening race into the sunset

 Partly because it was rolly in Clarkes Court but also because there had been a number of robberies. Mount Hartman was perceived to be safer but still a bit rolly. There was plenty of entertainment when a charter catamaran ran up on the reef outside the harbour entrance. Nothing could pull him off until the tide did it the next morning! Pity there was a lot of damage to the rudders but the charter party seemed unfazed!

Cat on a reef! The barge is trying to pull it off.

We also install our new weapon against growth on our bottom, our new ultrasonic antifoul system.
Work continues apace including a few major shopping trips to restock Galene, water aerobics for Rowena and Tuesday evenings ‘Jammin’ at Secret harbour. The Skipper has got into a Rock n Roll lifestyle. Tuesday is jam night; Friday afternoon is music practice with the lads!

Jus jammin mon!

 Eventually all the jobs are done and we are off. After a couple of nights in St Georges the plan is to visit the sculpture park and then north to Carriacou to meet up with friends there.

Our pretty but rolly anchorage in Grand Mal Bay.
We spend one night at Moliniere Point. It is very rolly when we arrive but the wardens who collects our XC$26.70 mooring fee says it will drop later so we decide to stay. Bad decision!
 We go round the point in the dinghy to snorkel on the sculptures but the swell has made the vis terrible.

Rowena found this a bit creepy!

We manage to find a few murky sculptures which look like dead bodies lying on the bottom and the further out we go the darker it gets so we turn back to the shallows. We see a few fish, snapper and parrot fish, nothing very interesting and a few sponges and the odd sea fan. All in all very disappointing. Almost back at the dinghy we find a huge bait ball swirling round, quite dramatic and then excitement! A new fish!! A Flying Gurnard, the first one we have seen out here. It totally ignores us and we can follow it for a while as it sniffs along the bottom and digs in the sand with its pectoral fins which are almost like hands.

A flying Gurnard about 15cm long.
Back on board it is as rolly as ever as we watch a big tuna boat come right into the cove, a marine protected area, and throw out nets obviously after all the bait fish for his longlines! Where are the wardens now? We debate whether to stay or go back to St Georges but decide to tough it out. After a nice green flash it calms a bit but we go to bed early as it is more comfortable lying down than being thrown around the cockpit!

Dawn breaks and we decide to go. We are off at 0730 and sadly watch yet another boat netting for baitfish in the park. No wonder there are not many corals or sponges on the bottom here. Compared with the marine parks in Carriacou and Guadaloupe this is a desert.

We have to motor north until we are clear of Grenada, then the wind fills in from south of east and off we go! With moderate seas and a F4 we make Carriacou by 12.30 with a door to door average of 6.6Kts. I wish it was always this easy.

Carriacou in sight - we can't wait to get back to lovely calm Tyrell Bay.

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