07/04/2012, Prickly Bay
Well we have now been in the Caribbean for over three months and still waiting to get somewhere. For those of you who have not been here the sailing is grand, the water is blue, the weather is pretty good, the fishing is lousy, the coral is non-existent (I think we have been spoiled), the sailing folk are very sociable, our friends are lots of fun, anchoring is a challenge at times and everything is relatively expensive although compared to Oz it is still cheaper.
We had our Code Zero sail delivered this morning but the sailmaker had had a car accident so it will be awhile before it gets fully and finally fitted. Cannot wait to fly it for a good sail but I guess that will have to wait till we get ready to leave. The sailmaker did turn up at lunch and we fitted the sail and took off through the anchorage for a downwind and beam reach test. Mag-bloody-nificent to be precise. We now are an all weather capable craft again or will be when it is fully complete.
Currently down to last things before we sail for the ABC Islands. Gill and Keely have had haircuts (Gill had a least 2 hairs trimmed) and Jo had her hair styled this morning.
We need to fuel up, do some last minute laundry, buy a few bits of tucker for the cupboards, fill the gas bottles and wait for some reasonable weather after Keely's teeth have been the rounds with the dental specialists. Here the wind always comes from the ENE to ESE with the Trades being very dominant and our course is west so unless a low hurricane comes in two weeks we will have no issues sailing the entire way.
Our trip away to the Tobago Cays with Avatar and Shiloh has been our highlight here and we are looking forward to returning next year after we have done the rounds of West Indies via Yukatan Penninsular.
The image above is of our projected passage for the next 12 months if it interests anyone enough to visit. We may leave the boat in Santa Marta and head for Peru for a flying visit and again in Florida or even Cheasapeake while we visit the delightful wonders of Disneyland and Maccas (on every corner) We plan to stay at the tropical paradise of San Blas for Christmas so hopefully Santa has a good read and a good look at the map. All this adds another 18 months to the timeframe so we will make a decision soon.
We have decided to invest in a new anchor but there is nothing big enough here and most of the marine stores are not getting anymore stock in for a few months so it will have to wait for Curacao where there are apparently bargains to be had. There are a few Auzzies here but we are badly outnumbered by the Sud Afrikans, French, British, Canadian and of course the ever present Americans. Today is Independence Day so good luck to them on their special day.
The port dunny plumbing has been leaking and every now and then a little sewage odour brightens our day but all pipes have been cleaned out and reset this morning. Mind you, I am the only one aboard that will dive down the dunnies, clean pipes and reset seals and clear blockages. No cuddles for Dad during and after this job I am afraid. Strange night last night with calms and violent storms resulting in very little sleep so I was a very happy chappy this morning up to my armpits in poo poo paper.
It is kind of strangely lonely at the moment with our mates on Avatar having left yesterday for Trinidad so they can go back to South Africa for a few weeks and Gill's mate Kieren went with them. Actually they offered to take Gill with them and we offered to take Kieren with us. They have trouble getting visas so that is a job for Cape Town. Our other buddies on Shilo have gone back to Tobago Cays with family and the poor buggers are coping a hiding in the weather and bad luck stakes.
Jo, Gill and I all started facebook pages so we can keep in touch with our friends so if you have nothing else better to do have a look. There is a video of CH sailing with Grenada in the background that is pretty good to look at.
Hi. Sitting at anchor outside of St Georges, the main harbour for Grenada and its time to think about the last few days.
We arrived back in Grenada Island last weekend with all intentions to stock up on food and fuels and head for the eastern islands of the Netherlands Antilles of Curacao, Bonaire and Aruba; but as usual it pays to be flexible and take life as it comes.
Jo took Keels to the dentist after much angst on Keely's part and it appears we may have to stay a bit longer as we do the tours of orthodontists. This may sound an expensive exercise for those of you in Oz but it is relatively cheap here with good quality services available to all. Keely is not too keen on this as are most kids (and me) who are allergic to dentists. We now think we will be here at least another month.
The second biggest lie for yachty folk is to say you have never dragged. Well CH has dragged on several occassions but on Monday we did it in a big way. Our anchoring methodology is well practised and we sometimes reset a few times just in case and this anchorage was no different with a coral rubble and weed bottom but we eventually got a good set. On Sunday a fellow anchored in front of us and dragged. We think now that he may have dragged and lifted our anchor out of the rubble below as on Monday I took Jo and the kids ashore to go to the Dr Giggi when a large wet season storm struck with all the ferocity we enjoyed in Darwin. Winds to 50knots, driving rain, thunder and steep short seas.
By the time I could dink back to CH she had dragged back 80m and was just about to go ontop of a large monohull from Norway. Luckily they had fenders out and were prepared for their boarder to arrive. Engines on immediately (thankyou Yanmar) and anchor raised with the help of Mark (Avatar) and John (Shiloh) saw us avert disaster and begin the search for a better spot to anchor in the wind and rain. Jo, Gill and Keely were comletely unaware and were suprised to see we had moved a mile to a better anchorage without them when they returned. It is a better anchorage and last nights storm did not move us a bit.
We are now closer to the beach but further from the main port. Luckily the supermarkets and marine stores have dingy docks so it is not too far to walk.
Last night we dingied over to Grand Anse beach and had a meal at a beach restaurant called Umbrellas. They make the best milk shakes and hamburglars in Grenada and it was a great way to end the day with dinner on a truly beautiful beach. Fiona had kneeboarded to the beach and Mark kneeboarded back to their cat. It looked great fun so we followed them back to "Avatar" and all had a try even me with dodgy knees and back. It was fantastic fun and we will have to invest. Gill and Jo got into the action and they both even did some slides and wake jumps. Our dink will handle the tow with its new 15hp engine so I guess we should have one to play with today to disturb the anchorage with.
Everyone is fine, happy and well here in Grenada as we hope you all are.
06/15/2012, Tobago Cays
Sorry for the large gap in writing but we have been busy exploring Grenada and the Grenadine Island Group to the north with two other catamarans, "AVATAR" with Mark, Fiona and their son Kieren and "SHILOH" with John and Holli. We are currently at Tobago Cays which is a part of the country of St Vincent. Very beautiful but few fish, dead coral though heaps of turtles to swim with.
Last night we celebrated Fiona's birthday on a small beach with champagne at sunset. Gill and Kieren mucked around on the beach and checked out the iguanas while Keely swam in the surf. A very nice ending to a great day. We sailed originally to Petit Tabac which is where some of the movie Pirates of the Caribbean was shot. (The part where Cap'n Sparrow is abandoned on a beach with a large rum stash) It was blowing a bit and the anchorage was untenable so we will get to go and search for the rum another day. There are also some old Soyuz rocket parts washed up there from a misfire at French Guyana.
Since going back into the water in Grenada we have spent a few weeks at a place called Hog Island. It is a nice sheltered little anchorage with a great beach bar and we stayed till we could wait no longer for the Code Zero sail and will pick it up in a couple of weeks on our way south. We moved north about 50 miles to Carriacou which is the second main island of Grenada and spent a few days there at Sandy Island which has great clear water but once again no coral and very little sea life. I think they have been learning from the Indonesians here!
Then the big 10nm jump to St Vincent in a blustery 30 knot head wind and the beautiful Chatham Bay. Lots of turtles, beach bars and a nice reef to the north. Nothing we have seen compares to Cocos Island or anything in the Indian Ocean so we now regret leaving there so soon. Tobago Cays is a few more miles to the east and is a reef anchorage and is a bit like the Whitsundays but with more boats. It is the "off-season" here with the Hurricane Season in full swing but is still busier than anywhere we have sailed. Full of Americans, Canadians and various Europeans on sailing holidays so every second sailbag has Sunsail or Moorings printed on it. Bit disconcerting when the wind picks up in an anchorage and they start to move around a bit.
Last night we had a Tropical Wave come through and it blasted the reef with strong winds and showers but thankfully no-one dragged. It caught everyone unawares as it was forecast for the day before but decided to make landfall last night instead.
We ran the reef on the way up but caught nothing on the lines and the new lures we have made. I think it is time to go back to the drawing board on fishing lures as we are all waiting to sink the teeth into a freshly BBQ'd mackeral.
With only a week to go to Mid-Winter (mid-summer here) things are hotting up on the home front with the 30th reunion of my first Casey 82 Antarctic Expedition. The emails are flying thick and fast between the old crew as they prepare for a 3 day "jolly" on a cruise ship out of Sydney. It would be nice to join them but circumstances do not allow it. Hard to believe it has been 30 years since I was there with all those wonderful people. We will celebrate it here on a tropical beach and think of the dark and cold of an Antarctic winter.
Our plans continuously change and we may now go to Bonaire around July, San Blas for Christmas and up the Yukatan Peninnsular, Cuba then the eastern seaboard of the states to check out how the other half live before heading for the Pacific. At least that is todays plan. Will post some photos when we get access to internet in a few days or so.
Hope you are all in good health and happiness as we are.
Tizer the HOP you ask ! He was renamed the HOP (Hidgeous old Pollywobble) after his wilder tendencies have made themselves apparent and his destruction techniques had been fully honed.
Then there were 4..........................
Greetings from Hog Island. Strange name but nice beach. We have not left Grenada yet as we are waiting for the new sonar to arrive from the good ole USA. It should be here Tuesday and we will pick it up, install it and then maybe head for the Grenadines.
Hog Island has one of the last beach bars in the Caribbean. (See picture) It is right on the only beach here and opens every night after the beer is chilled by the ice. The yachties here all seem to have been here awhile and with the bar who can blame them.
We have been up to our armpits in maintenance. The fridge pooped itself and it was a voltage drop problem so the wiring needed to be replaced. Hard job going through untold small spaces but all OK at the moment. I wont mention the heads pipes exploding.....Enough said..... It happens when you have been out of the water and they dry out. It is hard work scrubbing poop from engines .........
Gill is growing and needed his own transport so we have purchased another kayak. This makes us a family of four with four boats now. Soon to be 5 as we will need another small dink and outboard when we leave for the San Blas Islands soon.
First stop will be Santa Marta where we will leave CH while we go look at the USA and Disneyland. It is easier to fly to the USA than visit on a boat with less restrictions. Hard to believe but its the truth and probably cheaper as they do not tend to like anchored boats either and marinas charge like wounded bulls.
Will post again when we leave for the Grenadines, hopefully next week.
Chaotic Harmony is back in the water. (Picture of how the other half cruise)
We splashed yesterday just after lunch and the first question they ask is "Are you sinking?"
Well we were not sinking and made a better exit than we did entry out of the Travelift slip. It is 7.4m wide and we are 7.1m. Had to deflate the fenders to get in and out but all is well with no scratches.
Today is a public holiday so we will chill for the day. Buy fuel tomorrow and head for the Grenadines.
The new prodder is functional and makes CH look even more menacing. CH was a bit of a hit in the boatyard as she celebrated her 21st there and all her plastic, steel, timber and aluminium friends came along and complimented her on her gracious looks.
Will write a better story shortly.
Why are Boatyards like Hospitals?
(View from the hotel balcony)
If you stay in them too long something always goes wrong that you were not expecting.......................
Removed the forestay today and found a large crack in the aluminium bracket loosley called the Martingale. This bracket sits on the fore cross member and holds the forestay from the mast and this was a bad crack. All the way through the bracket to the eye. It was good to see it as it would have gone when we were at sea and we would have lost the entire rig.
Anyway this was cut off this morning and a new one built and it should be welded on tomorrow. Gill and I dropped the genoa and while we folded it noticed rotten stitching at the head so this is also being repaired.
It is good to actually make sure you are seaworthy but this was out of the blue and we have cancelled our scheduled splash on Wednesday till probably Friday or next Monday. Pity really as we all miss being aboard CH and Tizer who is esconsed in "Dolores Home for Wandering Hellcats".
So. Once again we are delayed but at least once again we will go back to sea with a better boat. The rot has been removed from the aft heads and new fiberglassed bases and backings installed and gelcoated. The crack in the stbd aft sugarscoop repaired, new antifouling, a good polish, new cluthches and teak bases and a multitude of other jobs that are part and parcel of boating. The davits are now fully supported and strengthened. The Indian Ocean took a lot out of CH and it is all coming back together.
Pulled apart the crash bulkheads forward to get into the space to mount backing plates for the padeyes to support the prodder for the Code Zero sail being made. This is not a good job if you are over 1 meter tall. The new sail is too big to be made here and Doyles of Barbados are making it. Should be ready in a few weeks.