12 January 2018 | Clarke’s Court marina, Grenada
14 May 2017 | Grand Mal Bay, Grenada
05 May 2017 | Saline Bay, Mayreau
20 April 2017 | Marie Galante
24 March 2017 | Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda
08 March 2017 | Jolly Harbour Marina
15 February 2017 | Jolly Harbour, Antigua
08 February 2017 | The Saints (Iles de Saintes)
04 February 2017 | St.Pierre
02 January 2017 | Rodney Bay Marina again
25 December 2016 | Rodney Bay Marina
14 December 2016 | Customs Dock
11 December 2016 | So near
10 December 2016 | Somewhere in the mid Atlantic but a bit nearer than last time
07 December 2016 | Somewhere in the mid Atlantic
03 December 2016 | Over half way
01 December 2016 | 1534 miles to go
27 November 2016 | Near 20/30
Ashore in Clarke’s Court, Grenada
12 January 2018 | Clarke’s Court marina, Grenada
We arrived Ok and having declared our £200 worth of spares by going down the red channel were waved through with no charges. Perhaps they took pity on us as two bumbling old fogies!
We checked into a marina apartment for two nights, this enabled us to find the boat after it had been moved, and clear enough space to live aboard. She was nice and clean inside as per the fortnightly boat check and the important jobs had been done, now it was down to us to complete the pre and post launch jobs list tha5 just keeps getting longer.
We had one panic moment when both anchors that we had left on a pallet with all the chain and rode down, but still attached to the boat, had disappeared. However after a trek round the yard with one of the very helpful office staff, they were tracked down and delivered today.
We hope to launch on Monday 15th and make sure everything is working and then having provisioned up, and assuming the incessant rain and squalls have passed we hope to leave for Cuba where we may arrive in time to meet up with Inga who arrived there today.
Grenada at last
14 May 2017 | Grand Mal Bay, Grenada
Our prime mistake when going for a meal at Saline Bay was not to ask the cost. We were collected in the water taxi and were the only people eating in a sort of lean to on the beach. The meal was edible from two very nice young chaps but the bill including the taxi was a little hard to swallow. However we adhere to the philosophy of supporting the local community so we accepted it, and even went so far as to get collected the next morning for a walk round the island, which involved climbing up a steep road to see the church at the top, and the school, plus the views across to Tobago Cays. We managed some basic shopping and had a beer at our "guides"uncle's bar before returning to the boat. The following day we motored around the north of Mayreau and went across to Tobago Cays, as we wanted to be close to the turtle sanctuary we were helped to pick up a buoy and enticed to another beach barbecue the next day. We didnt really want to go but at least we asked the price. The cays are stunning, even with 15-20 knot winds and an overcast sky, conditions which have now dogged us since Guadaloupe. We saw plenty of turtles and got some good pics, even if it was the same two turtles doing the rounds. The next day our boat boy came to collect us an hour early, we settled for half an hour and then he took us over to the cooking area on one of the islands. While waiting we saw box fish and rays in the shallows waiting for offcuts from the cooks. The meal arrived and was markedly better than on Mayreau but a tip was expected and no sooner than we had finished eating than he wanted to take us back as he was moving to another island.. Again we were left with that ripped off feeling. The next day we were off after the mandatory heavy morning rain, taking the southern passage through the reefs on our way to Union Island. Here we had decided to stop in Chatham Bay, and get a taxi tour including a trip to customs in the capital Clifton to clear out of the Grenadines.The anchorage in Clifton is behind a reef so quite like Tobago Cays, i.e. windy and we needed a respite from that. The guy mentioned in the pilot was the third boat boy to visit and he offered a beach barbecue. We said we have had enough barbecues but he then said it didnt have to be a barbecue, so we relented as he was doing the taxi thing, asked the price and went over in the evening in the dinghy where we had barbecued chicken for the third time, although this was the best of the lot , and the cheapest. While we ate Seckie and his wife Vanessa chilled smoking Ganga and quizzed us on whether they could come and work for us in the UK. The next day we went for the tour, the old 4x4 bounced up what looked to me to be an impassable track of rocks and stones that led from the beach to the road at the top of the ridge., but we made it and then round to Clifton on the concrete roads. Once there we cleared out, revisited the dock we backed onto in the flotilla we joined in 2005 where G slipped off the stern just as we approached the quay. Luckily she came to no harm other than soaked clothes and pride. We did a little shopping then had a beer with Seckie before he had to rush us back to pick up another fare for Clifton, another rushed visit. At least we went back a different route and determined there is not that much to see in Union Island. The anchorage in Chatham Bay was not crowded but was gusty, however all was well as the holding was good in sand and the next day we set off for Carriacou. We had a nice gentle sail under headsail for the 11 miles down to Tyrrel Bay where we anchored on sand in 5.5 metres along with lots of other cruisers in this popular anchorage. We cleared into Grenada here and after a couple of nights where the main jobs were toilet repairs we motored the 3 miles round to Sandy Island where we picked up a buoy and after lunch went ashore. This is a small sand spit which was where I proposed to G back in 2005 when we visited with the flotilla. It was nice to revisit although it had changed since our last visit in 2010 when all the vegetation had been blown away. Now it has been replanted and has waving palm trees on the shore. We stayed overnight there and waited for the early morning squalls to pass before setting off at last for the Grenada. We had an enjoyable sail down, missing Kick 'em Jenny, the underwater volcano by 2.5 miles and picked up a buoy in Grand Mal Bay, just a few miles North of Georgetown the capital.
Down to the Grenadines
05 May 2017 | Saline Bay, Mayreau
We intended to hire a scooter to explore Marie Gallant, but all scooter rental outlets that were open didnt rent scooters, so we were advised to check one of the other outlets who would most certainly be open in the morning. When dawn broke it looked like it was going to rain all day, so we ducked out and motor sailed the 17 miles to the Isles de Saintes, the second time we had been there but this time there were several buoys available so we picked one up and waited till the morning to go ashore. The next day it bucketed down all day, requiring the skipper to visit the stern to siphon the water out of the dinghy. After two siphonings I gave up and dropped the dinghy , which meant it could rain as hard as it liked for as long as it liked. So the following day after emptying the dinghy(method is to lift the bow on a halliard and tip the water out over the stern) we went ashore, had lunch, checked the place out etc. We did the same the following day, passing on walking up the hill to the fort due to our extreme age. I had to change the generator fan belt which had done very well at about 55 hours, usually they need changing at about 10! On Wed 26th April we left the Saintes to sail down to Dominica, and had decided to break up the passages into more manageable chunks of about 35 miles, which meant heading to Roseau further down the coast than Portsmaouth at the N end of Dominica. Some rally friends said they had picked up moorings their OK. We had a good sail down to Dominica on a close/beam reach, but then had to motor most of the way from there to Roseau. Met quite a way out by boat boy Brian who said he had a mooring for us. He blasted off to show us where to go and nearer in another Boat boy approached called Marcus, who was mentioned in the Pilot. He said Brian didnt have any moorings and we should come to one of his, but we played the white man (can you say that) and stuck with Brian. The pilot is full of tales of dodgy and unmaintained moorings so its a bit of a worry but Brian had found some where the buoy had sunk below the surface, and once he recovered it the rope beneath looked like it would hold a supertanker, so we felt justified. Overnight more heavy rain requiring more siphoning and the resulting dinghy drop.The following day we set off for St.Pierre on Martinique, it was very bumpy and windy off the south of Dominica but gradually eased allowing us to sail on a close/beam reach down to St.Pierre where we anchored for the night. The next day was the passage to the south of Martinique to St Anne. A combination of sailing and motorsailing as we were in the lee of the island. However once at the south end you have to turn due East for 15 miles to get to the large anchorage at St.Anne. Traversing this bottom corner near Diamond rock, referred to in previous blogs, the sea were subject to wind over tide giving a very short and large sea, just like the Alderney Race,but it went on for longer. Its at times like these you start wondering if the fuel will block up or the engine will fail for any number of reasons, but all was well and we eventually arrived and anchored in 6.5 metres. We have now had cloudy and showery weather for a couple of weeks now which probably explains why many cruisers have packed up and gone home. In fact the OCC net has now finished as there were so few calling in or able to run it, and there is a distinct end of season air around. After a couple of days in St.Anne we sailed off the 22 miles to Rodney Bay in St.Lucia. Once anchored up we dinghied in to the supermarket, (you can leave the dinghy a couple of hundred yards from the supermarket) and stocked up on essentials. Next day we planned to go to the south of St. Lucia, to Laborie, where we had been before with Paul, as it shortened the sail on to Bequia, missing St.Vincent out due to security worries, although I suspect it is no better or worse than any other islands. We slogged down to Laborie with the usual mixture of sailing and motorsailing, and now we are quite slow due to the growth on the bottom or more specifically the prop. Another cruiser told us that growth on the prop can knock 20% off its efficiency and I can well believe that. Its only with a scuba tank that you can clean off the prop so without a diver we have to live with it. At Laborie we anchored but it was so rolly with a SE swell that we decided it was untenable and we left at 6pm that evening for a slow overnight sail for the 55 miles down to Bequia. We arrived at 9am after a slow sail which we were well suited to (see above) and we anchored in Admiralty bay. Here we checked in to the Grenadines and had a meal at the Whaleboner restaurant, and the following day managed to get our large gas bottle filled. On the third the wind picked up from the NE and made the anchorage very uncomfortable so we upped anchor and sailed down to Canouan, where we anchored over sand. There was a fairly new catamaran half sunk on a reef near the beach, a local told us it was a charter boat that was on a mooring buoy but came adrift in strong winds, apparently the charterers were on it drinking rum punches and by the time they realised it was too late! We left the next morning for Mayreau and after looking in at Saltwhistle bay, where it looked windy and rough we went on down to Saline Bay where we anchored, aided by two locals who run the restaurant where we are going for dinner tonight. So we continue to read the security reports and hope our main defence is that we dont look affluent enough to have much of anything worth taking, lets hope that and locking up work, although we may try a trick that Inga use which is to make up a dummy and leave it in the cockpit!
Unwelcome visitors and smelly marinas
20 April 2017 | Marie Galante
We arrived in Nevis on Saturday 8th April and went in to check in on Sunday. Its about 1 mile to the dock off Charlestown from Pinneys Beach moorings but the mooring is much more pleasant than being anchored off the town. On the Monday we took the ferry to St.Kitts, spent a pleasant hour in the gallery cafe, had a wander then lunch then back on the 3pm ferry. Not that impressed with Basseterre the capital and we didnt have time to go much further. Tuesday was too windy to go to town in the dinghy, so I did the long awaited repair to fix a leak on the watermaker which involved fitting a new end plug on the membrane holder, this proved successful and no more leaks, so we are up to 30 litres an hour. On Wednesday we went in to check out but on our return to the boat, on throttling down the outboard as we approached the stern the outboard died and we had to paddle to the stern (NB lucky we took the oars!!). We then set off at 4pm en route for Deshais on Guadaloupe, about 75 miles thus making a night passage with early morning arrival the easiest option. The winds were forecast to be light to non existant , but on the nose, and so they proved as we motored slowly all the way. Slowly as we have lots of growth on the prop and the hull. We had to pass the volcanic island of Montserrat where in the moonlight you could see the vapour drifting down from the peak, like dry ice. Not far from the south of the island I heard a scream from below, G was in flagrante in the loo and had seen a cockroach scuttling across the floor. Luckily I was quick on the draw with the bug spray and wasted it, then picked it up in some tissue and sent it for a swim. We now hold our breath as to whether he has relatives still aboard and we have placed sticky hotels around, but so far so good. G reckons she saw him fly aboard the day before, if so we were lucky to see and catch him. Other than that there were no more issues and after 17 hours we anchored in Deshais, Guadaloupe. There we eventually met up with the yachts Bonaire and Itchy Foot, who were on the rally with us and who we had collected mail for in St.Martin. I tried cleaning out the carb on the outboard and replaced the plug, but although it started it soon died, not even new fuel through the tank made any difference. We then decided to go to the marina at Pointe au Pitre, get some R&R, get the motor fixed etc etc. so the next morning we motored off, did some motor sailing and arrived at the marina at 4.30pm on Friday 14th. We berthed up OK helped by the guy in the RIB and then found that there was a most unpleasant smell of drains, once you reached the end of the pontoon. Guadaloupe is a department of France so you are effectively in France. Anyway as it was Easter weekend we couldnt get the outboard looked at until Tuesday so we rented a car for three days and had a drive round the island. Is a bit shabby with no good beaches but with a rain forest which lived up to its name. We did some provisioning and had the outboard repaired (as I write we havent tried it yet). We then left the marina today Thursday 20th April, fuelled up and watered up and had a pleasant sail once clear of the mainland, down to Saint Louis on Marie Galante, (named after Columbus' ship) where we anchored in 4.5 metres and plan to spend a couple of days.
Making our way South
08 April 2017 | Nevis
We finally left North Sound, Virgin Gorda and sailed down the North side of Tortola to Cane Garden Bay where we picked up a $30 buoy. Ashore the next morning we had a relaxed breakfast, found a supermarket and ATM and then left to motor round to Peter Island where we stopped in Great Harbour on another $30 buoy. We had spotted a weather window in a few days where the wind would be in the North and we could sail back to St.Martin rather than bash to windward. Consequently we left Great Harbour and fuelled up at Marina Cay before returning to anchor in Gun Creek, again in North Sound, ready to check out of the BVI's. I dont know whether other people find this but we had been at Marina Cay for a couple of nights and only ever saw one other boat use the fuel dock. As we approached it a Catamaran came blasting in and stopped to fuel up in front of us, " where did he come from?" No problem we picked up a buoy and decided to have lunch,(you only pay if you stay overnight) The Cat immediately finished and left, shall we go over? no lets have lunch then do it said the skipper. Another Cat went on and proceeded to fill both hulls and half the cans on the island with fuel or water or both. So we waited another hour after lunch and were just on the verge of giving it up when he left and we managed to get on. Over at Gun Creek we anchored by two other yachts ready to clear out the following morning. Both yachts then left and we found out why.. Gun Creek is where all the taxi boats and hotel boats drop off and pick up staff, so there was a constant stream of fast motor boats creating a constant wash that had us rockin and rolling till late, and then starting up again first thing in the morning. Once cleared out we left and picked up a buoy at Bitter End while I tried to repair the manual anchor control which had stopped working. We still had the radio control but you had to wander around the deck and wave it about to find a spot where it would work. Investigations showed it needed a new fitting, so it had to wait till St.Martin. That afternoon we set off for St Martin and had a slow sail overnight arriving at about 0900 at Marigot Bay on the French side, sort of against my better judgement as the wind was now in the NE and Marigot was a bit exposed However we anchored in about 2.5 metres and I went for a well earned kip. An hour later I was woken by a bang a clatter and on investigation found the surge from the swell had put a shock load on our rope snubber and it had snapped. We quickly upped anchor and beat a hasty retreat round to the Dutch side and the better protection of Simpson Bay. This is on the opposite side of the island and only open to the south and SW. We checked in to the Dutch side and then visited Island Water World and Budget Marine for essential spares. St Martin or the Dutch St.Maarten has a large lagoon which is a fair trip in our dinghy with a 5HP when others are blasting about in high powered RIBs or dinghys with 15HP. While in St.Maarten we met up with Steve and Maria off the yacht Aspen, who were on the Blue Water Rally with us, We also picked up some parcels for the yacht Bonaire who were on the Cornell rally with us. They had had to leave before their stuff arrived and we agreed to collect it from the chandlery in the lagoon and from the Post office in Phillipsburg, a bus ride away. Finally we met up with Bill and Sue on Camomile, who were also on the BW rally with us but had only just returned via S.Africa. They brought us our parcel from Jolly Harbour Antigua that we couldnt wait for and we spent a great evening and day with them before they left for the BVI's . We then saw Ro and family on the Cat JoJo1 who were also on the Cornell rally and it was nice to catch up and hear their plans. We then left the following day for Statia as we resumed our passage south. We managed to sail the 37 miles to Statia, or St Eustatious and anchored off Orangestaadt for the night before motoring down here to Nevis where we first met up with Inga.
Antigua and the Leewards
24 March 2017 | Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda
ICS in the rain
We stayed in Jolly Harbour marina for just over a week after Jacqui left us as some unsettled and windy weather was forecast (and did) come blowing through. We had heard from our friends on Inga who were now mobile again with their new engine and were moving North, and we agreed to meet up in Nevis. We were expecting to arrive before them, but as we sailed over to Nevis they called us on the VHF to say they were nearly there as they had left their anchorage on Guadaloup in the middle of the night as they were constantly on anchor watch. So we both picked up buoys off Pinney Beach, Charlestown and had a social evening on Inga. We spent two days in Nevis looking around, a visit to the botanical gardens and a lunch at an old plantation being the highlights.
The weather dictated that to move north to St Barts we had to go, and we sailed up to the approaches then motored as there were several racing yachts practising going on all points of sailing. This was quite nerve racking as they made 10-15 knots and when you think they re out of your way they would turn and come at you again. At about 100 feet long they made quite a sight and we were glad to be in among he anchored boats off Gustaviaand out of their way. Still with Inga we only intended to stay overnight and we finally picked up the last two mooring buoys in Columbier bay. Gustavia anchorage was heaving and it did not look at all inviting, while Columbier was also full, maybe we will stay longer on our way back.
From St Barts we left the next morning for St.Martin, the island that is half French and half Dutch.
Inga spent three months there in 2015 having a new engine fitted so acted as our guides. We sailed along the south coast and then around to the anchorage on the French half in Marigot Bay where we anchored near Inga in 4 metres. The anchorage was very busy and we were about 500 metres from shore, and it turned out to be quite bouncy, not only from the chop but from dinghies and other craft
motoring around. We did get ashore the following day and checked in the French way, by entering your details on a computer, in a chandlery, then stocked up in the large supermarket nearby.
We left with Inga the following day at 6pm for an overnight passage to the British Virgin Islands, while Inga made for the US virgin islands. It was a bumpy passage before the winds eased and we motored the last 15 miles before picking up a buoy off Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda where I dinghied in to check in. They charge for everything here, $30 for the buoy per night, $2 to dock the dinghy, but once checked in we could relax. One of the must see sights nearby is The Baths, a formation of very large boulders by the beach. You cant take your dinghy ashore there so we wimped out and took a taxi from Spanish Town. We had bought a data card for the internet and I thought I had better take some ID, and what better than my passport. When I looked for it there was no sign of it anywhere, so my first call was back at customs where luckily they had held on to it. Good job we looked then otherwise there would have been a real panic when we came to check out , and we would have had to return to Spanish Town…...must be getting old.
The weather has intervened again in our plans, and although we will have only been here a week we shall be leaving next Tuesday(probably) as the wind is due to turn to the South or even South West and as the prevailing wind is from the East, and we have to go East, it is too good an opportunity to let pass.
So we are currently in North Sound, Virgin Gorda, off the Bitter End Yacht Club, sitting on board in torrential rain which looks likely to be with us until we leave.
Some technical notes: I have fixed the generator, by tightening up some of the contacts which led to it shutting itself down if it thought something was wrong. Brian off Inga brought me some watermaker brushes from the agent in Le Marin and now the watermaker is running OK. On the minus side the SSB radio has a problem with transmit on voice. I can receive perfectly well but our transmission is very weak , although we can send and receive emails on the radio . This suggests it may be the handset, so we will have to see if we can get it checked out, it may even mean I have to bring the handset home.