08/Dec/2011, 49M to Grenada: 2,153M from Cape Verdes
A beautiful moonlit night as we approach Grenada. Almost a full moon and an ethereal bluey white glow on board and out to the horizon on all sides. The wind arrived in the middle of the night and we are reaching (wind from the side) in a warm 12 knot breeze with full mainsail and genoa, gently surging us across small wavelets, riding on the backs of larger ocean swell, towards our destination at around 6 knots.
A relaxing motion for our last few hours at sea before the hustle bustle of shore-side interactions re-commence. First thoughts are to re-fuel and to clear into Grenada. Customs and Immigration can both be quickly dealt with at Prickly Bay while we are alongside the nearby fuelling jetty. Then to find a spot to anchor. Our friends aboard Ocean Lady arrived yesterday and our first social engagement, an inviation of dinner with them this evening; the joys of SSB radio communication.
Hope you have enjoyed following our trans-Atlantic crossing. Although bandwidth has not enabled us to upload photographs on this trip we'll get some photos added to both the blog reports and the blog gallery as soon as we get internet connection in Grenada.
PS. Ocean Lady managed to catch a Blue Fin Tuna on their final approach to Grenada, we'll try our luck this morning as the stocks of Mahi-Mahi are running low in the fridge:-)
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08/Dec/2011, 110M to Grenada: 2,092M from Cape Verdes
It is looking good to reach Grenada by tomorrow afternoon. The wind has not lived up to expectations, more motor-sailing than sailing. The wind did pipe up to 20 knots for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon, ahead of a thunderstorm. Apart from about 10 hours properly under sail the engine has been rumbling away in the bowels of Spruce.
Another visitor today, a Barn Swallow (North American variety) hitching a ride. It seems to have found its way around as it flies occasional circuits. Sometimes entering by the fore-hatch other time the aft hatch or main companionway. Just hope we don't find too many little packages lying about when it departs. If it plays its cards right and stays in the shade maybe it will survive to fly off once we reach Grenada.
Some yachts passed across our track in the night heading from Barbados and in the direction of Surinam, the glow of lights illuminating clouds to the NNW gave confidence that Barbados was indeed only 50 miles away; further reinforced by calls on VHF Channel 16 during the morning between Barbados Signal Tower and unheard vessels entering the harbour at Bridgetown. Only two years ago that we entered that same harbour after our first Atlantic crossing.
Friends aboard Ocean lady (Alan, Stuart, Laura) should arrive at Grenada this afternoon and we'll meet up for a beer tomorrow, all being well and our fuel holding out. Our husbanding efforts seem to have paid off and although only making slow progress the fuel consumption has been kept low, an additional fraction of a knot from a bit of sail-power assistance seems little but over many hours has added to giving us a 30 mile buffer in the tanks... we think??? We hear the decent trade winds in the Caribbean may not re-establish until 18th December, compliments of the Coconut Telegraph SSB Radio Net this morning. Also, Grenada seems to be dark, cloudy and humid with much rain. It all sounds like we should be looking forwards to a typically British Christmas then:-)
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07/Dec/2011, 242M to Grenada: 1,960M from Cape Verdes
Just noticed that yesterday's blog had the wrong date & Position, should have been 6th Dec. and at 17:10utc pos 12 33.4'N:55 52.3'W.
Another two days and we should arrive in Grenada, if we can't make Prickly Bay before sunset on Friday we'll most likely slow down and time it to arrive at dawn on Saturday. The winds have continued to be light and we need an average speed of 4.6 knots to be there by dusk. Our fuel levels are marginal whether we could motor the whole way so we are combining a bit of sailing in the more substantial breezes with motor-sailing and plain motoring in the lulls.
As the passage draws to a close we have many memories of the trip so far. Most favourable. The celestial sphere, at times, has been remarkable. The moon is now waxing and rises early in the evening, gibbous with a brilliant glow illuminating the horizon and distant cloud formations. As the moon sets in the early hours a glorious silver light skitters across the wave tops, sparkling dazzlingly. Jupiter shines brightly above and sets shortly behind the moon. As always, some of the sunsets and sunrises have been spectacular. A cauldron of fire bubbling amongst the tall cumulus billowing tall. Reds and pinks and purples leaping across the heavens as the glowing orb sinks into the sea. A pleasure to sit and be a spectator to nature's awe each evening with a cold beer in hand, the humid atmosphere rapidly beading dripping condensation on the glass.
Now closer to avian visitors are more numerous. Today the usual types: Brown Boobies and Petrels. Additionally a Red Footed Booby, with white rear end, a Magnificent Frigate Bird and two tiny swallows seeking a perch for a rest. Not sure if they are migrating through or just blown off course by the recent tropical disturbance to the north.
It is quite frustrating to have such light weather for the final few miles, perhaps we should have filled those empty deck cans with diesel after all. Even with the fickle winds we should be there by Saturday morning at the latest.
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05/Dec/2011, 348M to Grenada: 1,853M from Cape Verdes
Still motoring with less than 5 knots of wind. A large hole in the wind indeed. There is the promise of wind from tomorrow onwards,although not the 18-20 knots that pushed us most of the way across the Atlantic. If the weather gurus prove correct there should be an Easterly 14 knots pick up in the morning reducing to 11 knots for Thursday and then back up to 13 for Friday. Not fast sailing but hopefully a chance to dispense with the engine and still reach Grenada before the customs and immigration offices close at 4pm. The last of our fuel was decanted into the main tank this morning and careful reading of the tank gauge should help us determine how many litres per hour we are consuming in this sort of swell. Probably we have insufficient to motor the rest of the way so our faith is in the forecasters/weather-models being correct.
Sue was off in slumber land last night when a Stormy Petrel managed to find its way below and landed on her head. The shouts from below were raucous to say the least. The small chap was non the worse for his frightening experience and was rapidly assisted to be airborne once more.
The fishing line was streamed this morning and just before lunch time a loud twang signaled the lure had been taken. Sue's gleeful shouting was a rude awakening for Andy, this time. Only a 2 feet long Mahi-Mahi but what a fight to pull her in. This was the one that didn't get away and with smooth seas we will be Barbequing tonight.
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05/Dec/2011, 468M to Grenada: 1,735M from Cape Verdes
Lots of engine time as we press on to make progress with very light easterlies. If we want to arrive during office hours for clearing in at Prickly bay, Grenada, on Friday we need to average 5 knots speed. Next useful wind looks like being during daylight hours on Wednesday, but that is largely due to a low pressure area scheduled to pass over us. Probably will involve fickle strength and direction of wind coupled with inordinate amounts of rain. While the motor is running we ran the water maker for a couple of hours and topped the tanks off. If still motoring tomorrow we'll make more water and get the washing done and dried in the morning; less chores upon arrival.
Clear and sunny today so great for a bronzy tan if we weren't hiding from the harsh tropical sun. The lack of air moving is working our fans overtime and making the humidity all the more uncomfortable. Fishing line is being trailed astern but no willing takers yet. Our fresh meat is now finished. A Mahi-Mahi just like the one that got away would nicely feed us for the rest of the passage. Fingers crossed!
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04/Dec/2011, 576M to Grenada: 1,624M from Cape Verdes
A fantastic night's progress with a fair current and 6.5 to 7.0 knots of boat speed. It all added up to good miles under the keel until about midnight. Then the convection caught up with us; hot moist air rising rapidly from the sea. Forty degree wind-shifts and winds between 8 knots and 30 knots. At first light the poles came down and we went to course close reaching on port tack in light airs, not too bad with speeds of up to 5 knots. During the morning the main convection mass arrived and we were reduced to motoring in gusty and fickle conditions, sometimes the wind from dead ahead, others from astern and wind strength from nothing to 20 knots. Quite tiring doing frequent changes in sail plan hence the motor until things settled down. And settled down they did to winds back in the east but only 5-8 knots and a foul current to boot. We now continue to motor at economical engine revs waiting for better conditions to prevail while we avoid slopping around aimlessly in the residual swell and waves from a variety of directions.
The positive aspects, and yes there are some. A chance for a thoroughly good shower for the Sprucettes. Tropical downpours come fast and furious, sit out with soap and shampoo and enjoy a short period without constant perspiration. When the rain came the scuppers ran coloured with the dust from the Cape Verdes. The rigging, the sails, ropes, everything covered in a red dust blown from the dry islands during the windy month spent in those waters; until this morning.
As we continue plodding slowly on our way another brooding grey air mass lies to the south. We'll probably be making its acquaintance later this evening for another good soaking.
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