05 May 2017 | Cumberland Bay, St Vincent
25 April 2017 | Portsmouth, Dominica
25 April 2017 | Iles des Saintes
09 March 2017 | Jolly Harbour, Antigua
09 March 2017 | Mosquito Cove, Jolly Harbour, Antigua
Eventually afloat again
16 December 2017
Haha. Quote from the last post in July: “back to MINNIE B at the end of October and a new series of adventures”.
Well, that did not work out as planned. Yes, Phil was back in Trinidad at the end of October and the plan was for Norma to arrive in the middle of November when much of the boat painting had been completed.
The first stumble was that despite advance notification of arrival date, our ace painter, Kerwin, was finishing off work on another boat and not substantially available until … you guessed it, the middle of the month. So Phil got on with other repairs and maintenance and grinding out the blisters and bubbles.
It is difficult for the guys who work out here, as they are day-workers and must take jobs as they become available, and Kerwin had slim pickings over the summer even at the very low daily rates of pay. So no quarrel with Kerwin.
Once he got started he seemed to decide that this was to be his best ever painting job - even using the “roll and tip” method i.e. a roller with a very good brush to smooth out the paint. In parts we ended up with at least two coats of etch primer, two coats of epoxy primer/undercoat and four coats of gloss finish, with appropriate sanding between coats.
The other factor in delay has been the weather as some days we have had rain all day and others we have had dry mornings but wet afternoons, so no work on deck.
The factory paint scheme had a series of panels of non-slip bounded by narrow strips of gloss – nightmare to replicate so the paint scheme has been simplified.
Anyway, we were all done by Tuesday 12th December and we launched on Wednesday 13th.
All that remains is for us to get the boat back to sailing condition, re-rigging sails and so on.
Although we have been working on the boat seven days a week, we have had time to socialise with friends and to visit the excellent fruit and vegetable market in Port of Spain every Saturday morning at the unearthly hour of 0600. Our reward has been a superb breakfast at Denise’s kiosk in the ‘food court’.
We are now moored at Peakes dock and plan to head for Carriacou, Grenada on Wednesday 20th December with an overnight sail for the 105nm.
We aim to spend Christmas in Carriacou and then continue northwards for major provisioning in Martinique, then Dominica to offer a bit of help in hurricane recovery, on to Sint Maarten to replace anchor chain we bought there earlier this year and then to the Virgin Islands for the 2018 Elite Luxury Cruise with our mystery guests who arrive in the middle of February.
So that is the new plan then ... and that should be all good then ...
End of season sign off ... back in November
09 July 2017
So we are both in the UK and enjoying some quite sunny and warm weather – shorts and T-shirts no less.
However a brief update on post-Grenada activities.
Stephane and Ann on SAS3 arrived in Clarke’s Court Bay and with them and KARMA we left for Trinidad on 31st May. This was supposed to be a bit of a doddle – we were doing the “three safeties”: travel at night, stay to the east of the gas platforms and travel in company. We motored out of the bay at 1630 and were on a close reach in 14kts easterly wind. All pretty benign and doing over 6kts. We had discussed slowing down for a dawn arrival after the 87nm trip … and the avoidance of paying overtime to Customs and Immigration.
Well, we had nothing to worry about on that score as there was a very strong west-going current which meant we were sailing more and more close-hauled and it was slowing us down by over 2kts at times. The wind eased down to less than 1okts and we had to do a bit of motor-sailing in the middle of the passage but then it was back up to 12kts and sailing. We arrivied at the Customs dock, Crews Inn in Chaguaramas at 1000 on Thursday 1st June.
Clearance was quick and easy, so after some grocery shopping and buying a SIM card and data/phone package we scooted round to Trinidad & Tobago Sailing Association to anchor – it was quite busy but eventually we chose a spot at the head of the bay with enough swinging room. We like the atmosphere at TTSA – it has a good bar and the water is cleaner than in Chaguaramas Bay – albeit there is a bit of a trek to the chandleries and services.
However, we hauled out at Peake Yacht Services on Tuesday 6th June and were given a good spot that drains quite quickly in the frequent torrential downpours and is handy for the chandlery.
With an aged mother moved into a care home to visit and associated sorting of her house required, Norma returned to the UK on Sunday 11th June while Phil stayed on to put MINNIE B to bed, organise various service providers and get on with some much needed painting.
After eleven years we have quite a few paint blisters – aluminium and paint are not the best of bedfellows – so sanding and preparation required scaffolding around the boat. Unfortunately this was yet another occasion when ambition exceeded skill level and once the filling and sanding stage was reached more expert help was required. So Kirwin was hired and proved his superior knowledge and skill on the band of paint at the top of the topsides and over the toerail. More painting will resume on return in November.
We had a replacement carcass built last year for our small fridge, but the half-wit “professional” did not use marine plywood and it delaminated within a month of installation. We got a partial refund from him eventually, after he tried to blame the wood supplier. A poor workman always blames …. So we now have a new guy who is operating under the watchful eye of Mark who did a very good job for us replacing the keel bearings and bushes last year and does project management.
So, Phil returned to the UK on 1st July for a splendid weekend in Teddington with daughter Julia and her husband Tim, then up to Yorkshire to stay with daughter Anna and husband Neil, and the happy reunion when Norma flew in from Northern Ireland.
We are looking forward to our few months visiting family and friends, and then back to MINNIE B at the end of October and a new series of adventures.
Not Tobago then
30 May 2017 | Grenada
Plan A was to sail the 90nm to Man O'War Bay on Tobago - a favourite place. Hm. The wind conspired to stop our trip to Sandy Island and the same happened with Tobago - we were facing a beat of around 130nm in 25kts. Are we getting soft or lazy or both? At this stage of the season we did not want this so instead decided to go to Grenada.
We had been a bit negative about Grenada partly because we had spent a lot of time there in 2010-11 and other islands seemed, well, nicer.
However, friends Graham and Joan on Karma were there and keen to disabuse us of our negativity, and also there is a Yamaha dealer/service centre where we could get the outboard fixed.
The anchor was up at 0805 on Saturday 20th May and we had a cracking sail for the 40nm down the east (windward) coast of Grenada, anchoring in True Blue Bay near the McIntyre Yamaha people.
The outboard was collected on Monday and we motored into the current and wind to Clarke's Court Bay where Graham and Joan acted as guides extraordinaire and Grenada ambassadors, showing us around the area and leading us on a super trip to the north of the island, taking the bus to Sauteurs where the last Caribs committed mass suicide jumping off the cliff rather than succumb to the French (well you would, wouldn't you?), walking to Levera beach and on to Bathway beach for a swim in the natural pool.
The outboard was fixed and trips into St George's for provisions have been easy. Taffy's Bar is a great place to hang out, so we joined Taffy and Sue to watch Manchester United win the UEFA Cup.
We have revised our views of Grenada and know now that it has much more to offer than we realised.
So next to Trinidad for haul out, boat maintenance and prepare for flights to the UK.
30 May 2017 | Tyrrel Bay
The bay was busy with many boats on moorings but no people on board as well as others that looked as if they were there for the duration.
We met up with Steinar and Janne on 'Numa' - Norwegians first encountered in Antigua in March - and had drinks and a meal ashore with them. The latter was terrible at "Twilight" restaurant - awful service, undercooked chicken and somewhat dicky tummy afterwards.
We walked in to Hillsborough and also attempted an ascent of Chapeau Carre (945 ft) but the paths were unmarked and there was a lot of scrub on steep parts so we were not sure if we made it. The views were good from wherever we did get to.
In search of snorkelling, we motored round to Sandy Island but the wind was blowing 20kts straight into the mooring field and boats were bouncing in the sea that had built with the long fetch from Hillsborough, so we declined and returned to Tyrrel Bay. We enjoyed Carriacou though and will return.
30 May 2017 | Mayreau
Then on to the Tobago Cays where we anchored and spent two nights without doing much as the wind was blowing 25kts. So no snorkelling or going ashore – we were a bit pathetic really.
Anyway we cut our losses and went the three miles west to Saltwhistle Bay on Mayreau. This is a lovely sheltered bay with a find sand beach, a walk to the headland and a road up to the main settlement with its stunning views of Tobago Cays and nearby islands. The bay has lots of moorings but when we told one of the local guys who came out to meet us that we wanted to anchor he found us a very good spot close to the shore. He then persuaded us to eat at ‘his’ restaurant that night which seemed to be the right thing to do – we said we would come for 1800 and no sooner had we sat down than the food appeared. It was OK but we cannot recommend eating ashore here or indeed at the other Grenadine islands.
On Saturday 13th May we motored the 5nm to Chatham Bay on Union Island and chilled for a couple of nights, before going to Clifton for fruit and vegetables and outward clearance. Chatham Bay is nice with plenty of space to anchor, a slight katabatic wind effect and beach bars ashore. We had a drink with Richard and Shelley on ‘Ailsa’, fellow OCC members, so that was nice.
Clifton we did not like much … and ace outboard mechanic Roger in St Lucia had not properly fixed the 9.9hp Yamaha outboard which again lost power and we had to use the 2.5hp Suzuki which was not great in the 18-22kts wind blowing into the anchorage.
Why did we not like Clifton? There are some quite aggressive people ashore wanting to sell fuel, ice and so on, and apart from fruit and vegetables at the small market everything is geared to charter boats. However we had a walk to Ashton where the people were very friendly, wishing Norma “Happy Mothers’ Day” and giving advice on alternative routes to walk. Clearance is easy in the town of Clifton and then it was the 11nm to Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou.
Musings in Mustique
30 May 2017 | Mustique
From Bequia south to Union Island, the Grenadines offer an excellent cruising ground with many islands and anchorages and short hops. So inevitably it is a popular part of the Windward Islands and what does popular mean? Not prizes but prices. The large numbers of charter boats encourage local people to lay moorings (use for a fee with possibly questionable ground tackle) and charge exorbitant rates for a beer or a meal ashore.
You expect this in Mustique which is famed for its celebrity visitors but elsewhere it is a bit much. Anyways enough of the cost grouse.
So, Friday 5th May we sailed the 13nm to Mustique and it is lovely. We stayed three nights – you have to take a mooring and pay c.£66 for one night with two free nights. We had been looking forward to a drink at the famous Basil’s Bar, home to jazz and blues nights with impromptu performances by such as Mick Jagger, but a new dock is being built so Basil now has a pocket full of loot and the bar has shifted to the store/pub and is known as Basil’s Pop-up Bar. Oh well.
We had some nice walks around the island which has a well-signed and explained lagoon and mangrove swamp. We splashed out on lunch at ‘Firefly’ restaurant with lovely views over Britannia Bay and without question the best rum punches we have tasted.