We left Tyrrel Bay and motor sailed around to Petite Martinique, to try and get a better sailing angle to head out to Tobago. Topped of the water and a couple of gallons of diesel. I then headed to the store as I'd been told that the rum was a lot cheaper here in this island. And I then topped off with rum.
We had to motor sail that night as the wind was out of the SE. In the morning, at about 0500, the wind backed into the east and we managed to put up all the sail and had a great sail into Charlotteville. We lost a small Mahi Mahi on the way. The anchorage is about 40 ft in the shallower parts, which means I had to put out a minimum of 200 ft of chain. And that's all I have, as my main anchor. It set well. We headed ashore, checked it, and then went for a snorkel along the rocky ledges. It was ok, but I think that the locals have cleaned out most of the sea life. There are loads of skiffs that head out each morning to catch tuna etc, and I think that it is taking its toll on the fish.
We had a great couple of days there and then headed west to Englishman's Bay for the week end. It's a very pretty little bay, and we only had one other boat there with us. We returned to Charlotteville as I needed to fill up the boat with diesel. There was none to be had, and there hadn't been for the last three weeks. The next thing to do was to clear out and ead down to Scarborough. We had a good sail around the north side of the island, where Daniel got his first Mahi Mahi. All very happy.
The anchorage in Scarborough is horrific, to say the least as it is in amongst the fishing boats and coast guard vessels. I then dinghied ashore to check in once again. As there are no marine services to be had here, I asked a local fisherman how I could get diesel for the boat. He, very kindly, offered to take me, and all my Jerry cans, and a 20 gallon drum of his, to the gas station. I have since been informed that we are not allowed to fill up with diesel in Tobago as its heavily subsidized. But at US$0.23 per liter?
After filling up there, we motored around to Store Bay where we, once again, caught up with Gert on Lycaon. And on Saturday, one of the local fisherman offered to take us snorkeling out on the reefs and dive for conch. It was spectacular! I have never seen so many French Anglefish in one area. The wind turned and came out of the NE and made the anchorage very choppy and uncomfortable. We didn't get off the boat for 2 days.
All being said, we have enjoyed Tobago. Would I go back there? Definitely!
As I write this, we are about 10 miles off Grenada, heading to Prickly Bay.
Back to "civilization".
I headed off, out of Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou, in the company of Out of Africa, Sealacious and Moon Rebel. We rounded the corner, heading S'ly and made our way into the tiny anchorage at Saline Island. Very tight but quite cool. We did some snorkeling and then I trolled around in the dinghy, catching Yellowtail Snapper and a Jack. We had a bbq aboard Out of Africa that night. The next morning we were off to Rhonda Island and anchored just off the reef. Great snorkeling and with a conch that Bob dived, Janice, on Sealacious made conch fritters. Yum!
The next day we sailing down to St. George's in Grenada. I motor sailed most of the way, hoping to catch a decent fish. And I got skunked! Again! The averages are going down on Golightly.
Daniel, my youngest son was flying out from Australia to join me for four weeks and I was to pick him up there. He flew out Thursday evening, our time, and only arrived in Grenada on Monday evening. Poor bugger! His flight was cancelled in Barbados and stayed there for one and a half days.
Luckily, we got to see the last day of Carnival in Grenada. Lots of fun, color and gyrating people. All very entertaining. We filled up with water, went to the supermarket etc on Wednesday and then headed back up to Rhonda on Thursday morning. The wind was on the nose! Again! In Rhonda, Daniel and I went fishing in the dinghy and he caught a very nice Horse eyed Jack. Dinner! The anchorage, with that swell, was one of the most rolly I'd ever been in. No sleep!
The next morning we sailed up to Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou. We've had a great week end here, catching up with Richard and Lavinia, on Partners, and going to Miss Lucky's for her Saturday night BBQ. Yesterday, Sunday, we headed up north to Tobago Cays. We anchored shallow and quite close to the turtle protection area. We dived there and saw a lot of turtles. Daniel managed to swim with them and get pulled along by the bigger ones.
We then went to the outer reef where we saw loads of lobsters, sharks, different rays and many fish species. It was one of the nicest snorkeling sessions I've had here in the Caribbean. When we awoke the weather had turned and I decided that we should head back. The plan was to head to Petite Martinique, where we were going to load up with bulk rum. But that was not to be. We had a great sail back to Tyrrel Bay and will clear out of here tomorrow, heading across to Tobago proper. On the way here, this afternoon, Daniel caught a good size barracuda and then filleted it. It's day is only going to get worse. I say this as I light the BBQ.
Sherman, from Fair Winds, and I, caught a local bus over the island, to Clifton Bay, to clear out of Immigration and Customs. Then back to the boats and we sailed out of the bay and down to Hillsborough, Carriacou.
This Island is part of Grenada and the Grenadines, so we dropped anchor off the government dock and dinghyed in to clear in. We happened to arrive there behind a large church group clearing out to go to Union Island.
This was a lengthy process so we chilled in the shade for an hour or 2. It's a Caribbean thing. Liming.
Back to the boats, when we were done and motored around to Tyrrel Bay. It's a great anchorage with quite a few boats here. There is also a metal fabricator and a boat yard here with good reputations.
I'm considering putting on another solar panel and might have it done here.
Dominique, the fabricator, came over to my boat and we discussed the building of an arch over the transom. This would have been to hang the dinghy off as well as mount another solar panel on to.
In the end, I have decided not to do that as I would have to sacrifice my stern seats, in the pushpit. So I have been strengthening the bimini to take the extra solar panel.
There is a lot to do here. Snorkeling, fishing, swimming etc. And the evenings ashore have been great too. Local BBQs, Oil downs, which is a type of coconut,chicken, dumpling stew thing. The deal is that the food is free,
if you buy the beer from the lady, Kendra. No problem at all. And as with anything free, it is well supported by the cruising community.
This weekend, has been the start of the Carriacou Regatta. Lots of parties and festivities have been going on. Great fun. On Sunday, we went over to Hillsborough, to watch the Carriacou Sloops and the working boats sail against each other.
It was a colorful scene as they beach themselves right in front the spectators. They also do a "push start" from the beach.
It's been a great few weeks chilling here, making new friends and catching up with old ones.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, a few of us are heading a little south to Saline Island, where I hope to do so fishing and snorkeling. Scoping the place for when Daniel, my youngest son, joins me on Sunday. He's flying in for 4 weeks.
So I'll be off to Prickly Bay, in Grenada, on Thursday, to do some stocking up in the grocery department.
Bequia, pronounced Bek-way, was a great place to be, and all the cruisers made it a lot of fun.Lots of mangoes, bananas etc. An active crowd, they were. Really a great bunch of cruisers.
Organizing walks all over the island, games evenings,very happy hours and, of course, there being a bunch of South Africans, a couple of braais on the beach. (BBQ in your language, Pasqual!).
And then dinners aboard Banjo were a treat.We did quite a bit of snorkeling and it's always good to see a lot of juvenile grouper around. Some of the species which I'd never seen before.
Exquisite colors.It bodes well for the future.
I'm very particular about what I put into my fuel tank. About what I put into me? Not so much. Rum, Gin etc. I radioed the water barge to come out and I topped up with water before I left. Not diesel here. It's the dirty stuff, from Venezuela, I'm told.
Those of you who know me, know that I love to cook, and catch fish.I'm becoming pretty self sufficient with regard to catching my own food. Fish and crustaceans. So I'm always baking, cooking etc.
Prepared food out here is pretty expensive, as most of it is imported from the USA.
So I buy the raw ingredients and do it myself. Chicken and pork are affordable out here. I therefore BBQ quite often. And I also enjoy rice and beans. So it's quite easy to put a meal together.
I think that I would have provisioned quite differently in the states, knowing what I know now. Although, in saying that, I have to be aware of how old things are getting.. They might have a shelf life of years, but they eventually start tasting like the packaging they are in.
I'm still searching for real Caribbean cuisine. Jerk Chicken or pork? Maybe. But it's not very exciting. I'm being honest here. I like spicy foods.
I upped anchor and headed off to Mustique., along with Fair Winds and Banjo. It was only a three hour passage, but I only got to actually sail for about an hour or so.
I got back winded between the islands, so the motor was running quite a bit. Caught a very nice small tuna, which I seared tonight, and took across to Fair Winds as an appetizer. Judy did a very nice curry too.
This is one of the most beautiful islands I have ever been to. It is manicured. No garbage, litter etc. Lots of tortoises too. Very cool. Home of the rich and famous. Mike Jagger, Tommy Hilfiger, and for a short while, me.
There's good snorkeling here. It's a no take zone. So only look and see. We had three nice nights here but the last night was very rolly. A swell came in and if you were inclined to get seasick, this would have done it for you.
By now, we all had made a bunch of new friends, fellow cruisers, and we are all heading in the same direction. The third morning saw us heading out of the bay, and aim for Mayreau.
It was meant to be a four hour sail but with the currents etc, it took us six. And I caught another tuna on the way. All Good. Some of the "flotilla" went on the leeward side of Canoua, And the rest of us went on the windward side.
Salt Whistle bay is a beautiful little anchorage. Small, but typical Caribbean. Golden palms, powder beaches. Late in the afternoon, familiar boats arrived. Veritas and the trawler, Partners, with Richard and Lavinia aboard,
who I'd met in St. Kitts. Needless to say, there were drinks ashore, with the old and new gang. We all dinghyed into the beach and it was great to catch up.
This morning I did a bit of work on the boat, then we all, 8 boats, upped anchor, and motored across to Tobago Cays. It's very special here. If you are reading this, have a look at Google images of this place. Exquisite, it is.
Beautiful Caribbean Islands is the only way to describe this little group. It's where Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed. I feel very, very fortunate to be here. Who would have thought? John and Joanne, on Out of Africa,
once again, organised a beach BBQ on on of the little islands.
Watching weather reports is a part of daily life out here. Especially this time of the year, with it being hurricane season and all. A tropical Storm, called Chantel, was moving into our area.
They travel across the Atlantic, from West Africa, and tear through the Caribbean, often turning into hurricanes. So once again, we all upped and headed across to Union Island, southern most of the Grenadines.
We are anchored in Chatham Bay and have had a great time here. Games evenings ashore, dinners etc. We took a walk over the island today and it nearly killed me. It's steep! Made it though and that's a good thing.
Two of our crowd, Capice and Moon Rebel, left this morning, for a bay around the island, and Fair Winds and I are sailing for Carriacou tomorrow.
Challenges Single Handing.
It's interesting sailing by oneself. I get asked, quite often, "What are the most difficult tasks that I have to do?"
I think that the most difficult thing is that I HAVE TO do everything! From making a cup of tea, to wipe up,or down, after water has got into the saloon, fix the bilge pump, navigate, anchor, moor the boat, trim the sail, service the engine, maintenance etc. etc.
The way I deal with it is to try and think way ahead, long before it's time to execute. For example, before arriving in a marina, I'll have all the lines out, and attached, ready to be thrown. I also radio ahead to ask which side I'll be tying up to, to have fenders out on the appropriate side.
I prepare meals ahead of time, before I set sail. I usually cook twice the amount of what I'm eating a day or two before, and then freeze it.
Preparing to put to sea takes me at least a day. This is a house/home, so it's not like arriving at the marina, with your cooler box, taking off the sail cover and going for a sail.
I have the outboard to remove from the dinghy and secure it. Then there is the dinghy itself. On short trips,I might tow it. Otherwise I deflate it
and I lash it down on the fore deck. Then there is down below. Everything needs to be secured. From the galley to the saloon, head etc.
Coffee cups, pots pans, laptop, booze bottles, and on and on. Otherwise it WILL end up broken on the cabin sole. There is also the passage planning to contend with. This is usually done twice. The first time, an evening or 2 before I leave, while having a rum or 2. So it's best to check what I've done in the sober light of day.
On this last passage, the diesel was getting a bit lower than I like it to be. I was facing a 2.5 knot current. And when you are sailing at 5 knots,
it doubles your sailing time. So I was using the motor to assist my progress. I decided to put 2 X 5 gallon Jerry cans of diesel into the tank.
But before doing this, I play "the dance" out in my head first. I had to get the Baja filter out, from down below. This is a large funnel with a filter.
The diesel has to be super clean and there was spray flying around. Then get the key to open the diesel cap, which is on the fore deck
about half way along the length of the boat. So I get it all ready, including a few pieces of kitchen paper towel as I'm sure there will be a splash or 2.
All set. I then connect a tether from the harness I always wear while sailing, to the jack line.
This is one continuous nylon strap that runs from stem to stern, in case I do fall overboard. I'll still be attached to the boat and hopefully get back onto the stern platform.
As luck would have it I'm on a port tack, meaning that it's on the windward side. Otherwise I would have had to tack. Turn the boat around, Peter!
The filler cap is there, and the leeward, downwind side rail, is underwater.
The Jerry cans are lashed to boards on the port side rails. So I first creep up the deck, with one hand always for myself. Thanks Capt. Alan.
I then undo the lashings on the cans. There are 5 of them, on deck, and they now all decided to start sliding around! I retie the others. I open the diesel cap, jam the funnel in, open the can and start pouring.
The 30 knot wind takes the first half gallon. All over my left leg, and the deck. Lifting about 50 lb (25 kg) with one hand, and pouring, is just about impossible, so I wedge myself in.
Everything is now covered in a film of diesel and slippery as all heck. I get most of it into the tank. Then the second one. Done! Close up and I'm back to the cockpit.
And I give my auto pilot a little pat and say "Thanks Buddy!". Without him, I'd be stuffed!
I wipe out the funnel and then start with the cleaning up.
The best way I have found is to spray dish washing liquid all over the area and let the sea take care of it. So I thought.
It's on the "high side". So when the spray and waves get it, it washes it all around the boat, to the lower side, where it runs out of the scupper and down the side of the hull.
When I saw the boat this morning, there are brown diesel marks down the side of the cream colored hull. Everywhere! So it's time to start cleaning.
And while I'm doing all of this, there is no one else to call, help etc. That's when you realize you are very alone out there, in a very big sea.
But it's what I signed up for, and I love it. The sense of achievement is great.
Another challenge is when I'm sailing in high winds and they then increase.. The boat then becomes overpowered and I have to reduce sail.
Everything is under a tremendous load. The running and standing rigging, the sails and the piece of equipment I'm also very dependent upon. The autopilot.
To put an extra reef in the main isn't a problem. I head up until the pressure is off the mainsail then drop the halyard and winch in the reef line.
When I'm sailing alone I always have a reef in to start with. The foresail, jib, on the other hand, is a different beast. It's a furling jib.
So that means when I take the pressure off the sheets( side ropes, Greg ), It starts to flog itself.
I then have to heave in on the furling line which rolls the sail up around the forestay. And at the same time, pay out on the sheets.
Trying to do this at a 30 degree angle, balancing on one knee, with only 2 hands is quite a challenge, as the blisters on my hands are testament to.
The sleep deprivation is another challenge. The major downside is that I might not be on top of my game. And then mistakes can be made.
I'm very careful and aware of this.
Sometimes also I think that I've fallen off my perch. I've heard music playing this whole past passage. From Neil Diamond, Gordon Lightfoot
and the Bee Gees to Bon Jovi and ZZ Top too.
News broadcasts and sport commentaries too! I recognize them distinctly, but can't quite hear what they are saying.
I've checked. There isn't a radio on, on the boat. It's my mind. But then I do enjoy the company!
Putting things in their place. I now know where everything is! I put things back in the place they are meant to be. And there is nobody to move them! It's great. Although,I still can't find 4 cans of Chipotle Peppers and a box of Pizza Base mix I bought in Florida 8 months ago though.
And the boat is only 37 ft long!
But I love this boat, and it is my home. Folks ask "So where do you live?". And I point to the boat.
A happy man!
In saying all of this, I do miss company. I've made many friends out here. It's a very giving and share community.
But I think I would like to have someone aboard to share the experience. And the experiences are many.
It's Friday 21 June and we have a weather window of a couple of days, to head down to Bequia, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines
I've been in Bassa Terre, St. Kitts for a little over 3 weeks, and enjoyed it here, waiting with Judy and Sherman Sunden, on Fair Winds, while they have had a new engine installed. While here, I've been fortunate to meet some interesting folks. Most moving south, like I am, for the hurricane season.
Richard and Lavinia on a trawler, Partners,come to mind. He is an ex Master Mariner and commanded VLCC's for P&O Shipping.
We had a great dinner aboard Fair Winds and it was a very entertaining evening. One of many aboard Fair Winds. Thank you. Needless to say, we had drinks and/or dinner together nearly every night.
Then there was Yvonne and Paul, and they had recently bought a grand old lady in Tortola, BVI's. A 61' Ketch, from the early 60's.
They are planning on having it shipped back to Sydney, Australia. And it was being captained by a South African.
Fair Winds and Golightly, my boat, if you weren't pay attention earlier, sailed out of Port Zante Marina at 1300.
At about 3 miles out, I caught a small Mahi Mahi.I filleted it, and into the fridge it went. Fresh fish for arrival!
The plan was to sail the 290 miles together. It's a 2 day, 2 night affair, which can be a bit taxing on the old body. More about that in a seperate blog.
Fair Winds is a performance cruiser, and quite a bit faster than my boat.
As I'm writing this, sailing past the island of St. Lucia, I can see Fair Winds about 2 miles off my starboard bow.
I think Sherman and Judy have had to rein her in quite a bit so that I could keep pace with them.
Yesterday, Saturday, I had a huge pod of a very small specie of dolphin around the boat. A few stayed with me for some minutes, and then they were gone.
The sailing, this passage, has been lively, to say the least. During the night, I took a wave over the cockpit. I got quite a fright, but should have been expecting it to happen. We had winds of up to 38 knots last night, and the seas to match. I had the second reef in the mainsail and a small jib out. Both mornings I found dead flying fish in the cockpit.
I'm now sailing down the west coast of St. Vincent at about 7 kts. It looks very lush with small towns dotting the coast line. I'll have to come back to visit next season.
We've now arrived safely and are anchored in Princess Margaret Bay, Bequia. It's a pretty anchorage with beach bars along the beach.
This will suit me just fine!