Logbook: Caribbean Sailing; Winter 2008/9
This is our third winter of sailing in the Caribbean. So obviously we like it! Our original plan of spending a few years and then returning the boat to Vancouver Island is now on hold as we so enjoy the winter sailing in the warm Caribbean seas. The logbook this year is being split into three main sections. Please click on the bold title below to select the section:
Trip Log. During this past season Harmony has been sending out regular emails to the family when we arrived at a each new anchorage.
Sailing experiences: Some of the more interesting sailing experiences are highlighted here.
Boat equipment and Maintenance: Our experiences in maintaining a boat in the tropics.
1) Trip Log
27th November to 6th December 2008; Grenada
John returned to Grenada on 27th November and spent a few days preparing the boat for the season. When Harmony arrived on 2nd December we launched Ocean Harmony and motored around to the marina at Le Phare Bleu where we completed commissioning. We were in a hurry to start our trip north as we had volunteered to perform finish line duties for the 2008 ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) beginning on December 10th at Rodney Bay St Lucia. We sailed from Prickly Bay on 6th December.
Saturday 6 December 2008; Chatham Bay, Union Island; 12 36.22N 61 27.0W A very long and tiring day today but we made it to Union Island. After clearing out of Grenada at Prickly Bay yesterday we went for an explore to the head of the bay, had lunch at De Big Fish, a bit of shopping at Bosuns and checked out the boat yard at Spice Island Marine as we are looking at other options as to where to leave the boat next hurricane season. Dinner at Rhodes at the Calabash Resort, very good but still not as good as Jumby Bay. They did have a great steel band playing though. We left at 0730 this morning and actually had to motor sail the first bit as the winds were so light! It did build in but was never over 20kts except when on the outskirts of a squall over the mountains of Grenada. Unfortunately it was a NE wind the whole way so we had to tack our way up as it was right on the nose. We did motor sail again past Kick 'Em Jenny, an underwater volcano, just to make the course. It took us so long to get up here that we realised we had missed customs in Clifton. So we decided to anchor at about 1630 in Chatham Bay on the west coast of Union. We intend to sail the approx 30nm to Bequia tomorrow. Fried eggs, fried green tomato and ham for supper tonight. The i pod is playing and we are having a glass of wine so it's not that bad, also a lot cooler. Sunday 7 December 2008; Wallilabou Bay, St. Vincent. 13 14.80N 6116.34W We never did go to Bequia as it was too far off course and to windward; decided to go the extra 14nm to Wallilabou which was directly on the course we could sail. Chatham Bay last night wasn't bad but the wind did gust down off the hills. We left a bit later this morning at 0800 and put one reef in the mainsail. We didn't have to do any tacking but were close hauled the whole way up, moderate seas with NE winds no stronger than 22 kts. At 1230 when we were still south of St. Vincent the winds died completely and then went to very light westerlies. We motor sailed up to here and of course were met by the usual lot of people all wanting to help and sell you things. David helped with the lines onto the mooring buoy, I bought necklaces made from seeds (just like in “Durbs”) from Smiley, fruit from Garfield and more necklaces and a bracelet made from the seed of the rosewood tree in the Botanical Gardens. The young man assured me he had made them himself so I hope it is true. Monday 8 December 2008; Rodney Bay, St. Lucia. 14 04.52N 60 57.51W We have finally arrived at Rodney Bay! Dropped the anchor at 1620 having left Wallilabou Bay at 0630 this morning. It was a very swelly anchorage and in hindsight we should have put up a sternline but it did did make leaving this morning a lot easier. We had breakfast while we motored up the coast of St Vincent. The first half of the crossing was delightful with a NE wind not over 15kts and with lots of flying fish which are always amazing to watch. The wind then decreased and we had to motorsail the rest of the way to St Lucia. The wind then turned more northerly and strengthened so we had to motor into it. We eventually had to drop all the sails but did manage to have a one hour sail before arriving in Rodney Bay. We were too late to clear in so we will do that early tomorrow morning and then go to the ARC office to see when they have scheduled us to be on the finish line. There is a catameran there at the moment. Will let you know. Supper of peri peri chicken tonight. A green tinge to the sunset tonight but no green flash as there were clouds on the horizon. Tuesday 16 December 2008; Anchored off Pigeon Island Rodney Bay, St. Lucia. We had a very busy day on the finish line last Saturday. Luckily there was a one hour gap when Sue arrived so John was able to fetch her in the dinghy. John and I did not get any sleep until about 0400 when there was a break and we managed to sleep for two hours. Luckily we didn't miss any boats coming in ! It was so busy that the photographer, Tim, who took photos of the boats as they arrived and crossed the finish line slept on board and we woke him up when he was needed. On Sunday morning we just re-anchored in Rodney Bay, slept and took it easy before going into the marina in the evening to look at the boats and have dinner at Scuttlebutts. We decided to stay anchored out as the next morning we sailed down to the Pitons and then went north again to Marigot Bay where we picked up a mooring buoy. Enjoyed a fantastic gourmet dinner at the Rainforest Hideaway, a beautiful little restaurant built on stilts in the mangroves. This morning we went ashore so Sue could get wi fi to do her work and then left at 1100 and motored up the coast. This is a lovely anchorage just off the Sandals Resort. We are back on duty at the finish line at 1000 tomorrow morning. 179 boats have crossed the finish line so far and it is not as busy.
Saturday 31 January 2009; St Pierre, Martinique. 14 44.44N 6110.68W It was sad to leave Rodney Bay but we had been there long enough and the weather conditions were finally good. A great sail today, a broad reach all the way across from St Lucia to Martinique. We had approx 20kts of wind and were roaring along at 8 kts. Weighed anchor at 0730 and arrived at St Pierre at 1400. Once we were in the lee of Martinique the wind became more southerly and then dropped so we ended up motor sailing part of the way. We have not gone ashore but spent the lovely sunny afternoon swimming and doing the odd jobs of maintenance. There are barnacles on the propeller and John is having a hard time removing them. Lovely pink sunset this evening but no green flash. Then, after it was dark, some “know-it-all” twit came and anchored right in amongst all of us. The German boat gave him !*#! and told him to let more rode out. It all settled down again and we went to bed early. Weighed anchor at 0730 and motor sailed to the north end of Martinique. The wind set in from the east and hovered around 20kts for the whole way across. We had no reefs in and averaged 8kts for the 26nm crossing. It was a brilliant three hour passage and a total contrast to last year when we had huge squalls and wind gusts over 40kts. We overtook a French boat, noticed that they were trawling a line and then a huge yellow fin tuna jumped out of the water behind their boat. It must have jumped out of the water three times and been at least six feet in length. We think it got away but saw them slow down later so they must have hooked something else. We are now on a mooring buoy just south of Roseau off the Anchorage Hotel. We took the dinghy in to the customs dock by the ferry terminal this afternoon and cleared in with some very friendly customs people. Dominica has this wonderful system where you can clear in and out for a period of two weeks. We had a drink at the Anchorage Hotel and John is cooking eggs, bacon, tomatoes and baked beans for supper. Thursday 5 February 2009; Portsmouth, Dominica. 15 34.82N 61 27.77W We enjoyed our time in Roseau, the first day we just relaxed and recovered from two days of sailing. Some fellow Canadians on "Sea Mist", an Oyster 56 invited us over for drinks in the evening which was very pleasant. They have sold up most of their worldly goods to sail around the world for seven years and live full time on their boat. On Tuesday the crew from Sea Mist and another Canadian boat, all took a tour with Octavius, aka Sea Cat, the water taxi operator and an Official Tour Guide. He took us up into the mountains. Dominica is basically a volcano rising up from the sea, and up there in the cool mountain air we swam in a fresh water pool which led through a tunnel and cave to a waterfall. It was a truly magical place which we had to ourselves before the crowds from the cruise boats arrived. We enjoyed a wonderful Caribbean fish lunch and then went to see the Trafalgar Falls and a boiling sulphur hot spring. It was a very enjoyable day. This morning we sailed and motor sailed the 20nm up to Portsmouth. We had winds from 3 to 30kts so it was a bit tricky. Watched the first day of first test between WI and England on the internet via wifi. The broadband strength wasn't always good but improved towards the end. We will go ashore tomorrow to do a bit more provisioning and maybe watch some of the cricket. We would like to do some other tours from here but have yet to arrange that. Probably staying here for three to four days and will then sail to The Saints.
Friday 6 February 2009; Illes des Saintes. 15 52.04N 61 35.18W
Fantastic sail up yesterday morning in company with the Canadians on Sea Mist, an Oyster 56. We had a little race going for a while there until the wind built to +20kts and they started pulling away. We also had one reef in the mainsail and we reckon that at under 20kts and if we had had the full mainsail up we could probably have passed them. It definitely is not as fast a boat as this one. Anyway it was a fun sail and we took photos of each other and we made a movie of them sailing. The anchorage at Illes des Saintes is always crowded and we were forced to anchor quite far out in deep water. It is also very swelly. Had a quick bite of lunch and then had to go ashore to clear customs. It is a slow process here as one has to wait for an hour while they fax the form to Guadeloupe and receive a reply. There were seven Canadians at dinner last night, us, John, Cheryl and their son Ian off Sea Mist and Howard and Kelly off Rapture 1. The last couple have been sailing around the world having left their home in Deep Cove, Vancouver nine years ago!
Sunday 8 February 2009; Pigeon Island, Guadeloupe. 16 10.38N 61 46.81W Lovely evening yesterday. All seven Canadians met up at the dinghy dock and went for a walk to the eastern, windward side of the island. There was a great sandy beach but the sea was very wild and dangerous, no swimming was allowed. Walked back to the other side and had dinner in a restaurant overlooking the fishing boats. The meal was excellent and the French chef who owns the place came over and spoke to us afterwards. He has been a chef at some of the main restaurants in London and for Prince Charles. It was a fun time but we were a bit late returning to the boat as we had to wait for a torrential downpour of rain to end. This morning was still cloudy and showery but we weighed anchor at 0915 and set sail for Guadeloupe. Sea Mist came along too and took a video of us sailing. (This video is now on our website.) We are going over to their boat later to view it. We had far too much sail up as we had no reefs in and eventually put in two reefs as the wind was gusting up to 30kts in the crossing. Of course once we were in the lee of Guadeloupe, the wind gusted over the mountains, then turned westerly and died. We have had a few showers this afternoon but they never last for very long. It will be a 50nm trip to English Harbour in Antigua tomorrow so we hope to make an early start. Monday 9 February 2009; Nelson's Dockyard, English Harbour, Antigua. 17 00.48N 61 45.85W We are here! A very early start this morning, we weighed anchor at 0620 and motored up the lee shore of Guadeloupe. There was very little wind even when we had left the island. There was a big black cloud to the east of us and once that had passed us by, dumping a pile of rain as it went over, the wind picked up and we averaged 15 to 20kts for the crossing. The sun came out and the wind was on the beam so it was another good sail. We reached the entrance to English Harbour at 1330 and were finally stern berthed to the dock by 1400. It then took us a while to clear in and sort out the boat. We will be here until the weekend as Hugh, Al and Dev arrive on Thursday and the cricket starts on Friday. The people from Sea Mist are sailing up to Antigua tomorrow so there will be another reunion. Very tired so going to have a light snack on board. Wednesday 18 February 2009; Jumby Bay, Antigua. 17 09.35N 61 45.78W It is now Wednesday morning so should really let you know what we have been up to, it has been fun! As you all know the cricket test between England and West Indies on Friday 13th, was abandoned due to an unplayable outfield. It looked like a beach and some of the cynics bragged that it was Antigua's 366th beach on the island. A reference to the tourist broacher's that claim a different beach for every day of the year. It was all very sad and the locals were very upset. We came back to the boat, had lunch at the Galley Bar and spent the afternoon at the beach near Galleons Resort. Dev had a great time skim-boarding. Dinner at Catherine's, the French restaurant, very good indeed. Saturday was cloudy with some scattered showers, but we did the hike from the battery at the entrance to English Harbour across Middle Ground to Pigeon Beach at the entrance to Falmouth Harbour. We saw lots of goats or mpuzi as Hugh calls them along the way. After lunch we walked along the docks at Falmouth oggling the Maltese Falcon and other huge boats. Dinner at Abracadabra, our favourite Italian restaurant. Sunday of course was cricket at the ARG in St Johns. It is a great old ground and why the ICC did not let it be upgraded instead of building a new monster stadium in the boonies is unforgivable. The Barkers left early for the beach and we met them later up at Shirley Heights for the steel pan band and barbecue. Great sail on Monday morning west down Goats Head Channel and then up the west coast to Deep Bay. Another afternoon at the lovely beach there. We decided to go for dinner ashore at the Andes, which is built jutting out over the sea, despite the northerly swell. Poor Hugh got wet arriving and leaving because of the shore break and the steeply sloping beach. The meal wasn't very good but we did see Freddie Flintoff and his family leaving the restaurant so the English team were obviously staying there. The wind dropped completely in the evening so we had lots of mozzies overnight. The wind stayed that way on Tuesday. We motored up the west coast and east down Boon Channel to Jumby Bay. In the afternoon the wind turned to a light westerly which is very unusual for Antigua. Spent a lovely afternoon at the beach walking out along the spit, swimming and collecting shells. We even managed to have a barbecue yesterday evening because the wind was so light. Wednesday 18 February 2009; Green Island, Antigua. 17 04.60N 61 40.32W Still a light westerly wind when we woke up this morning but it soon changed to a NE averaging about 18kts. We tried to sail west to go through the passage by Great Bird Island but were freaked out by the low depths so we turned round and headed back to Prickly Pear Island. From a predetermined waypoint adjacent the island, we turned north and passed safely through the gap in Horseshoe Reef. We had a great sail outside the reefs along the north coast of Antigua, before entering the anchorage behind Green Island on the NE corner of Antigua. The winds picked up just after we arrived and are probably blowing over 20kts. We are anchored behind a reef so have some protection. The forecast is for the winds to ease and back to NW- we shall see. At the moment it is still honking. Pasta and Caribbean bananas on board for dinner tonight. We will sail the 9nm back to English Harbour tomorrow morning. Sue arrives at 1600 and Hugh, Al and Dev leave at 1700 on the Air Canada plane that Sue flies in on. Sunday 1 March 2009; Louis Mouth, Barbuda. 17 38.59N 61 51.34W We stayed in Nelson's Dockyard for longer than we intended as we had originally planned to leave on Saturday. It was very windy over the weekend so we took it easy on Saturday as Sue was still tired and jet lagged. On Sunday we did the hike over Middle Ground again to Pigeon Beach and Falmouth Harbour. We were so hot when we returned to the boat that we went for a quick swim at the beach near Galleon's Reach before going up to Shirley Heights for the steel pan band and barbecue. Came back to the boat intending to have an early night but the Norwegians and Scots couple on-board Hebe next to us were having drinks and invited us over. Too much fun was had by all so we didn't feel like leaving on Monday either. We finally left on Tuesday and spent two nights at Deep Bay swimming and hiking up to Fort Barrington on Goat Hill (or Mpuzi Point as Hughie renamed it). A very short sail on Thursday down to Jolly Harbour where we picked up a mooring buoy and spent two days watching cricket at the sports bar, doing laundry and reprovisioning. Sue also looked at some time share property at Jolly Beach Vacations but decided not to take the plunge. Saturday morning we sailed north and then tacked east down Boon Channel to Jumby Bay. The Jumby Bay Resort on Long Island is under renovation so the Verandah restaurant is closed and the whole area is a construction site. Great sail this morning west to Prickly Pear Island and north through the gap in Horseshoe Reef and on to Barbuda. We are now anchored just south of Lighthouse Bay Resort (they have a website) off Louis Mouth. We hope to spend a few days here visiting the frigate bird sanctuary again and exploring the island. Barbuda is a fascinating island as nobody can own any land here, only rent it. The little houses in Codrington all have fences around them to keep out the animals, horses, donkeys, goats etc. which roam freely around the island. Thursday 5 March 2009; Jolly Harbour, Antigua. 17 04.25N 61 53.17W We are back on a mooring buoy in Jolly Harbour after three great days in Barbuda. Wonderful sail down to here this morning with no reefs in the mainsail and approx 15kts of wind on the beam. Monday we lazed around on the boat and took the dinghy ashore for a walk on the beautiful, pink beach collecting shells along the way. Decided to have a drink at the new Lighthouse Bay Resort but they charged US$10.00 for a rum punch and US$6.00 for a small 250ml Wadadli beer!! Needless to say we only had one! We had arranged with George Jeffreys, call sign Garden on Eden, to take us on a tour of the frigate bird colony on Tuesday. You can only do this with a guide and they only allow one tour group at a time. He picked us up on the lagoon side of Louis Mouth and then north up the lagoon to the colony. George is a lovely older man with a great knowledge of the island, the sea and all the flora and fauna of Barbuda. Frigate birds are absolutely amazing and must be one of the best fliers. They have a wingspan of six feet but weigh only three pounds! The chicks were adorable, only one per nest and ranged in age from the babies covered in fluffy white down to the teenagers exercising their wings in the nest. The female birds are black with a white breast while the males are all black. During mating season the males sit in the mangroves, inflate their red pouches and drum on it with their beaks to attract a female. After our visit George took us to the local restaurant where Sue and I enjoyed grilled lobster, the local delicacy. We joined up with another group of Canadians and did a taxi tour out to the NE corner of the island. We scrambled up a hill to some amazing caves where the Arawack Indians used to live. It was quite the scramble there and back but it was worth it. George took us back to Louis Mouth and we then had to negotiate the dinghy to get back to the boat. We thought we had chosen a calm patch but as I was sitting in the dinghy, John holding it and Sue waiting to climb in a big shorebreak wave came in and broke over me, the dinghy and knocked John over. I think we need your help Ken with landing and leaving on the dinghy! We had no sooner returned to the boat when Jason from Yalo, a big catamaran, came over on his dinghy and invited us over for drinks and snacks. We had to bring our own contribution of course. Fellow Canadians from Montreal were there too so it was a lot of fun. We just hung out on the boat on Wednesday, Jason came round in the morning to chat about sailing. Another barbecue dinner onboard. We will restock tomorrow, mainly salads and veg and hopefully watch some cricket. Not sure where we are going from here as north winds and swells are forecast.
Monday 9 March 2009; Morris Bay, Antigua. 17 00.89N 61 50.72W
We were very lucky to pick up a mooring buoy last Thursday as the wind honked out of the north all weekend and there was a big northerly swell running. On Friday night a weather trough with a lot of rain moved through and it was cooler after that. We spent our time hanging out at the sports bar watching cricket, Eng vs WI and catching up on emails. In the afternoons we went to Jolly Beach. The wind seemed to have dropped a bit this morning although it was still gusty so we motor sailed to the south side of the island and anchored off the Curtain Bluff Resort ( they have a website). We won't go ashore for dinner as it is a very upscale resort that requires the men to wear jackets to dinner. John does not have one onboard nor has he worn socks since he arrived in the Caribbean. It looks a pretty nice place. Wednesday 12 March 2009; Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua. 17 00.48N 61 45.85W Back to where we started! We had a good time in Morris Bay, the water was very clear there. Decided to try out Carlisle Bay the next morning so we just motored east one bay over. The water wasn't as clear there but there was a lot of fishes and birds. Sue went snorkelling and saw a huge stingray with a large silver fish swimming beneath it as well as a lot of reef fish. We took the dinghy ashore for a walk on the beach in front of the resort, lovely spot with lots of little ones about Ned's age having fun in the water and sand. John decided to treat us to a drink which was great except for the price, US$7 for a beer and 10 for a rum punch! John swam back to the boat while Sue and I took the dinghy back, watching the pelicans diving for fish and a pair of frigate birds wheeling around and fishing. We managed to have a barbecue on both nights so that was a treat. A bottle of KWV sparkling wine and a full moon to make it even more special. We have a leak in the Clarke pump of the watermaker so a guy has come to hopefully fix it. We plan on going out for dinner tonight. Tomorrow we will go with Sue to the airport and have lunch before seeing her off, very sad. We won't see her again till May when she comes to London for Ned's third birthday. Not sure when we will leave here, it all depends on how the repairs go. The rigging guys are coming again tomorrow morning too.
Thursday 23 April 2009. Pigeon Island, Guadeloupe. 16 10.39N 61 46.82W
I had a wonderful time in London looking after Ned and John thoroughly enjoyed sailing on Sea Mist with five other men. (See description under Sailing experiences) I arrived back in time last Saturday to go to the Awards dinner with everybody at the St James club where Sea Mist picked up a couple of prizes. John enjoyed the sailing experience but says that he would never buy an Oyster. We would have left Jolly Harbour earlier but had problems with the watermaker which we were able to fix ourselves. Finally left yesterday and motored south to Carlisle Bay where we anchored overnight. Left at 0600 this morning with very little wind at all but it soon filled in from ENE to just under 20kts so we enjoyed a great broad reach sail. About two hours away from Guadeloupe the winds picked up again so we put in two reefs in the mainsail. We had no sooner got ourselves settled again with John sitting by the starboard stern cushion and me under the dodger also on the starboard side when we were hit by this huge wave. Neither of us had time to do anything but John was drenched and we had lost the cushion and lifebuoy overboard. The water also went through the little interior cockpit porthole and wet the starboard bed below. We got such a fright but were both ok. We could see the cushion and lifebuoy floating on the waves so we dropped the sails and went back to retrieve them. It took us a while to get the cushion as there is nothing on the cushion to grab or hook. We eventually let it drift down onto the bow and as it came aft I pulled it towards the boat with the mooring pole and John grabbed it at the stern. It took us a couple of tries before we got it. The yellow lifebuoy was a lot easier to retrieve as it has a cord around it that we were able to hook. We certainly had our man overboard practice today! After all that excitement we kept on sailing with just the jib as the wind was blowing up to 30kts by this time. There were lots of clouds over Guadeloupe so we had a couple of rain showers while coming down the coast. We are now anchored in a bay opposite Pigeon Island which is a Jaques Cousteau National marine park and enjoying a well earned drink. Plan to head down to The Saintes tomorrow.
Friday 24 April 2009. Iles des Saintes. 15 52.05N 61 35.16W
The anchorage last night at Pigeon Island wasn't that great, quite a lot of swells and we turned in every direction. It didn't matter though as we were so tired that we were asleep by nine. Left at 0800 with hardly any wind so motored down the coast until the wind filled in as we came to the point. We somehow managed to pick up a piece of floating fishing line which we noticed trailing behind us but luckily managed to get rid of it easily. We could see a huge rain cell sitting over the Saintes and sure enough the wind turned to SE and increased as we were making the crossing. When the rain and wind hit us we dropped the sails and motored towards the Saintes. It was a pretty torrential downpour which lasted till just before we arrived. The Saintes are lovely but the anchorage is a nightmare, very deep and very busy. We anchored in 12m with 40m of rode out. Had lunch, collapsed for a while then went ashore to clear in. We will stay here tomorrow, have a rest day and leave for Dominica on Sunday.
Sunday 26 April 2009. Roseau, Dominica. 15 16.85N 61 22.55W
We enjoyed our time in The Saintes, bought a case of French wine and ate out for dinner on Friday and lunch yesterday. There were numerous squalls throughout the day yesterday but when they stopped in the evening the wind dropped and the swells were bad. We decided to eat onboard so we could get everything done, dinghy hoisted etc, for and early start today. We weighed anchor just before 0700 and headed south. Hoisted the sails and left two reefs in the mainsail with only 2/3 of the jib out. We had a good crossing with ENE winds averaging about 23kts and not too big seas. However just as we were about an hour out from Dominica we were hit by a squall with winds of 35kts. We eventually dropped the mainsail and re hoisted it once the system had passed. We had winds from all directions and strengths going down the leeward side of Dominica. Gusts up to 30kts off Portsmouth, then it died, then a westerly for a while and finally a gusting easterly which at times stayed over 30kts. We did eventually drop the mainsail again and came in the last hour under jib alone. We were a long way out when a local guy in his fishing boat came to meet us. We agreed to go onto one of his mooring buoys. He had been out fishing and had caught an amazing number of tunas. We bought a four pounder off Harrison which we will have for dinner. The plan is to sail and anchor off Martinique tomorrow and hopefully sail to Rodney Bay, St Lucia on Tuesday.
Monday 27 April 2009. Grande Anse D'Arlet, Martinique. 14 29.99N 61 05.21W
It was a three reef day! We slipped the lines on the mooring buoy at 0630, hoisted the mainsail still with two reefs in and headed south. The winds were really gusting over the mountains at the south tip of Dominica, reaching over 30kts at times. Once we had left the island and were in clear seas the wind settled in at the high 20's so we decided to put in a third reef. We were glad we did as the winds were strong the whole crossing and stayed that way with strong gusts as we sailed down the coast of Martinique. Finally arrived at this bay just south of Fort de France at 1415 and dropped the anchor.
Tuesday 28 April 2009. Rodney Bay, St Lucia. 14 04.66N 60 57.54W
What a difference a day makes! We awoke this morning to much calmer conditions. After weighing anchor just before 0700 we set off at first with two reefs in the mainsail. But as we were heading past Diamond Rock towards the south end of Martinique the wind filled in. It was a great, easy sail across with the winds from the east between 15 and 20 kts and not too big swells. We anchored at about 1130 and after sorting everything out we took the dinghy into the marina to have lunch and clear in. We will spend at least two nights here as we need to do laundry, pick up the immersion heater for the hot water tank and do some provisioning.
Thursday 30 April 2009. Admiralty Bay, Bequia. 13 00.50N 61 14.29W
We enjoyed our time in Rodney Bay despite the customs officer being such a mean grump. The officials there are usually so friendly so it was a bit of a shock. He didn't like the fact that our last port of call was The Saintes and that we'd anchored off Dominica and Martinique without clearing in and out. We think that we are totally within our rights but didn't argue with him. Our favourite pub Scuttlebutts was closed as apparently it has been bought out; but hopefully will reopen. The forecast was for lots of rain squalls on Friday so we decided to clear out and headed down to Marigot Bay for Wednesday night. Went to one of our favourite restaurants, Rainforest Hideaway, which is built among the mangroves. Thursday morning we left just after 0530 and while John motored down the coast of St Lucia I went below to make breakfast and lunch. The wind filled in off the Pitons and we had easterly winds in the high teens for most of the way across. Approaching St Vincent the wind was very strong and gusty as it usually is, but it then died once we were in the lee of the island, went west for 20 minutes and then settled into a light easterly. The sail across from St Vincent to Bequia was easier than we thought it would be. We were close hauled for most of the way but the E wind averaged 15kts and the sea wasn't bad. We arrived in Bequia at 1515 and tied up to a mooring buoy owned by a guy with a boat called Phat Shag! Stayed aboard last night, we were so tired, and just had scrambled eggs and tinned kippers for supper. We went ashore this morning and cleared customs into St Vincent, took a walk around and bought some T shirts.
Saturday 2 May 2009. Britannia Bay, Mustique. 12 52.74N 61 11.33W
After our little explore of Port Elizabeth yesterday morning we got back to the boat in time for lunch. We had no sooner finished when the heavens opened and it started bucketing down with rain. It poured for most of the afternoon and then gradually cleared by evening. Everything was wet, we had to put the cockpit cushions down below and the boom dripped for hours there was so much water trapped in the mainsail bag. We did manage to go ashore for dinner at Frangipani which was very good. It poured again at 0300 this morning and it has taken till this afternoon for everything to dry out. There was no wind this morning so we seized the opportunity and motored the 14nm SE to Mustique. We have always wanted to come here but never made it either because of winds or lack of time. We are on a mooring buoy which had a beautiful cormorant sitting on it when we arrived. Had lunch onboard and watched the frigate birds fishing. We are able to stay here for three nights, US$75 for one night and two nights free- we will see how we go. Plan to go ashore this evening and have drinks and dinner at Basil's Bar. Will also find out about renting a golf cart tomorrow so we can explore the island.
Tuesday 5 May 2009. Tobago Cays Marine Park, Grenadines . 12 37.96N 61 21.39W
We enjoyed our time in Mustique despite not seeing any celebrities. Dinner on Saturday night at Basil's Bar which was good but not fantastic. Sunday morning we went for a walk down to the south end of the island around the mangroves and lagoon. On Monday morning we went for a taxi tour round the island. Saw Tommy Hilfinger's(?sp) house which is enormous and Mick Jagger's and Brian Adams in the distance. Apparently Shania Twain has a house there too. It is all a bit bizarre with these enormous houses, a little village where the locals live and then a mooring field for the yachties. There are also a few very expensive shops. We had a good three hour sail down to Tobago Cays this morning and are now on a mooring buoy off Baradel Island and the turtle area. John swam to the turtle area but didn't see any, only a huge manta ray along the way. We might try again early tomorrow morning when there are less people around. Being here feels very exposed as there is only a reef between us, the Atlantic and Africa. A bit like the anchorage off Green Island in Antigua. Thankfully the wind is only blowing between 15-20kts. It is a very special place. There are a lot of charter boats around. One more week to go for me and two for John. Union Island tomorrow.
Wednesday 6 May 2009. Clifton, Union Island . 12 35.72N 61 24.72W
Not much news today. It was quite windy last night with a few rain showers too so not the best sleep. It is also very humid now, the temperature is about the same but it is getting more humid the further south we go. We left at about 0930 this morning and motor sailed down the 5nm with just the jib up. Tied up to one of the local's mooring buoys. John did dive on it later just to make sure it was secure. Went ashore, cleared out very easily and had a light lunch. The weather looks ok for tomorrow with maybe some squalls so we will probably head off early.
Thursday 7 May 2009. Prickly Bay, Grenada. 11 59.93N 61 45.62W
The end of the trip! Thank goodness we had a decent sail down so we can go back with happy memories. We slipped the mooring lines at 0550 this morning and were sailing by 0600 with one reef in the mainsail. The wind was from the east at 15-20kts so we had a pleasant broad reach past Carriacou and Kick 'em Jenny before getting into the lee of Grenada at about 1000. The winds were either very light or gusting sailing down the leeward side of Grenada so we sailed and motor sailed and made water along the way. When we reached the southern tip of Grenada we turned east into the wind and waves. We eventually dropped the mainsail and just motored into it. Dropped the anchor in Prickly Bay at 1300 having done 50nm so not bad. We saw Hebe, the Norwegian boat at the fuel dock as we came in. They have re anchored in front of us. We went ashore after lunch to clear in and the customs guy told us that we had to go to St George's as there was only one port of entry now because of the swine flu. This was the first we had heard of this and he eventually relented and let us clear in. We stopped by Hebe on the way back and Jon and Marit are going to come over for drinks this evening. Will go to Spice Island Marine tomorrow and sort out when the boat is going to be hauled. I fly to London on Tuesday 12 May and John on 19th. Last of the log emails from the boat.
2) Sailing experiences
This section TBD
3) Boat equipment and Maintenance
The windlass: Lewmar Concept 2
The windlass had given 6 years of reliable service. We had noticed a strange noise the previous season and so I decided to check and clean the windlass. In pulling the windlass apart, I could not pull the last ring off the shaft. When finally I borrowed a puller from a neighboring yacht and was finally able to extract the shaft from the motor end, I found that the clip that actually takes the tension on the friction pads had snapped in half. I also found that the spiral clip that holds the key in place was damaged. Both of these clips were damaged by me in the process of extracting the shaft. I was able to replace the clips and re assemble the windlass. The key lesson learned is that one must have the correct equipment and must understand how the windlass is disassembled. The manual was decidedly lacking in this regard. It is also worth mentioning that the base of the windlass that attaches to the deck was severely corroded with salt deposits in evidence. Fortunately a spare was available at the chandler and was replaced. I suspect that the noise we had noted was caused by the corroded base because the sound has now disappeared.
The anchor chain
After 6 years of service the galvanized anchor chain was showing corrosion and several sailors had advised me to reverse the chain so that the corroded end would be attached to the bitter end and the unused end would be attached to the anchor itself. Accordingly, the chain was run out onto the dock and the ends reversed. When this was completed, John took the boat out into the bay to anchor there. But when he attempted to run the anchor out, the chain somehow jammed in the windlass and the spiral pin that had just been replaced, failed resulting in the key falling into the anchor locker. The anchor could no longer be brought in and was only being stopped from running out to the bitter end by the jam in the windlass. By this time the boat began drifting across the bay with about 20 meters of chain hanging vertically in about the same depth of water. With considerable anxiety John now hauled out the second anchor from the stern locker and attached 30 metres of rope before throwing the anchor over the side and making the bitter end fast to the cleat. It did not hold in the freshening 20 knot wind and so a second 30 metre line was joined to the first and 60 metres of rode was run out and finally the anchor held. The chain was recovered by using the primary winch and a length of line attached to the chain which was then hauled up bit by bit and laid out on the deck. After about an hour, the chain was recovered on the deck and the secondary anchor recovered. Back into Rodney Bay Marina for further repairs. The cause of this problem was that the chain had actually become twisted during the process of switching ends and this twisting caused the chain to bunch up and then finally jam itself in the hausepipe. The problem was easily solved by running the chain out and then returning it to the chain locker using the windlass and ensuring that there was no twist in the chain at the beginning. Of course the windlass had to be taken apart again and a new spiral clip installed.
Spectra Water Maker
We have a Spectra MPC 3000 watermaker that was installed by Sweden Yachts. After 6 years of very reliable service, we noticed a small drip from the Clark Pump ( an hydraulic pump). In Antigua we called the Spectra agent who was very helpful and in a few hours pulled the pump apart where we discovered a broken O Ring seal. I had the Off Shore spare parts kit so we replaced all the O Rings and reinstalled the Pump. No more leaks. However, just a few weeks later we suddenly found that we could not do the freshwater flush. After several hours of sweating in the forward locker, where our watermaker is installed, I found that the remote operated valve had failed closed. I removed the elctronically operated valve and replaced it with a manual valve and so we were able to get through to the end of the season. A new valve will be purchased in the summer.
Isotherm Hot water tank
We had noticed previous season that the hot water tank would not heat when the boat was plugged into shore supply. We were not unduly worried because we could use the engine waste heat or a separate diesel Espar heater through the second coil in the hot water tank. However, during the season we noticed that the fresh water pump was running on from time to time, a sure indication that there is a leak somewhere in the fresh water supply, and so we began to search. It turned out to be at the joint where the heating element enters the hot water tank. I removed the element which is screwed in with a 22mm socket. We could not find a new element and so decided to weld the plug and reinstall without the element on a temporary basis. This we did but were disappointed to find that we still had a slow leak from the water heater, but this time from the safety relief valve which was no longer reseting itself completely. Once again no replacement could be found so I installed normal ball valve downstream of the safety relief valve. Since we no longer have an element this is a safe installation because the tank cannot be over pressured. A new element and safety valve are being ordered in the off season. I suspect that both these problems originate from a failed thermostat (replaced in Canary Islands before the ARC in 2008) which had allowed the water to overheat in the tank.