23 December 2017 | Tyrrell Bay, Carriacou
05 May 2017 | Cumberland Bay, St Vincent
25 April 2017 | Portsmouth, Dominica
25 April 2017 | Iles des Saintes
09 March 2017 | Jolly Harbour, Antigua
20 January 2018
Next stop was Antigua for some boat stuff and more provisioning at the excellent Epicurean supermarket in Jolly Harbour.
We left Portsmouth on Monday 15th and had excellent sailing in 15-18kts ESE wind and anchored overnight in Deshaies. We are not fans of anchoring in Deshaies as it is very busy, we always seem to have to anchor in 16-17 metres, the holding is not great, there can be katabatic winds gusting over 30kts, there can be no wind and boat ballet begins with pirouettes in different directions. But the town is very pretty. Hm.
On 16th January we sailed to Jolly Harbour, Antigua in 14-15kts ESE/E with a very pleasant passage making 7.5kts for much of the way.
There are quite a few cruisers here that we know, so it’s very sociable … very sociable … anchored in 2 metres with 30 metres of chain … chandlery, bars, restaurants … hard to leave eh?
20 January 2018
We were underway again on Wednesday 10th January with a fast sail to the west coast of Martinique in 25-30kts easterly wind. We stopped the one night in St. Pierre and then had a cracking sail to Dominica in 25kts easterly wind, anchoring at Portsmouth in Prince Rupert Bay.
On the night of 18th September 2017, Category 5 Hurricane Maria with sustained winds of 175 mph hit Dominica (population 70,000) stripping the trees of all their leaves and creating a brown and bare landscape. Hardly a building escaped damage and 31 people died with another 34 missing.
We had brought some supplies of clothes, paper, pens, pencils, hammers and nails, and lots of rope for the fishing boats. We took a taxi tour and were shocked by the scale of devastation, with the south being harder hit than the north. The facility of changing rooms, dive shop, café and walkway for visiting Champagne reef had been swept away by mud, water and storm surge. The restaurant where we lunched at Scott’s Head had been taken by the sea. Trafalgar Falls previously only visible close up could be seen from 2-3 miles away as the forest had been destroyed.
However, the trees are sprouting new leaves but look very odd as branches and twigs were stripped away; houses have blue tarpaulins on roofs; people in two storey buildings are living only on the ground floor; mains electricity is only available in Portsmouth and Roseau, the capital; water is largely provided in the street by stand pipe but people also collect rain water into barrels and cisterns. Work is under way to restore buildings and tourist facilities – the latter are vital for the country as it had a high dependency on tourism.
The emergency period is ending, as solar lights and portable generators have been widely distributed. Food is in the shops and the Portsmouth Saturday market has vegetables but little fruit.
The people are remarkably resilient and upbeat, wanting to get back to work and to run their businesses. Yet estimates are that it will take 20 hurricane-free years to get back to where the island was before Maria – and even then they were recovering from Tropical Storm Erica which dumped so much water in 2015 that bridges and roads were swept away and mudslides ruined houses.
We have been encouraging cruisers to go and support the local businesses as much as they can.
20 January 2018
Phew that was a bit busy. We are at anchor in Jolly Harbour, Antigua having moved north quite quickly.
We left Carriacou on Thursday 28th December with winds of 18-20kts and boat speed of 6.5-7 kts, but we were close-hauled so the 37nm rhumb line became 51nm of sailing. Bequia was busy – lots of boats and it seems a particular favourite with Swedish cruisers. We met up with John and Ellie on ‘Serenity’ and had a lovely New Year’s Eve with them. We were in bed by 2100 but awoke at midnight for a quite impressive fireworks display.
With a helpful ESE wind direction we then headed for Rodney Bay, St Lucia on 3rd January and the 70nm took 10 hours with the inevitable motor-sailing up the west coast of the island. We stayed just the one night and moved on to old favourite Sainte Anne, Martinique where we met up with Ann and Stephane on ‘SAS3’ for a very convivial time.
One of our main purposes in visiting Martinique was to take on more food and drink – we had stocked up pretty well in Trinidad but the French have a few goodies that are … well … French. We also needed to replace our windex at the top of the mast so went into the marina Le Marin for a few days.
Small world eh? We are always on the look out for boats we know and the OCC burgee, and for anyone with a Northern Ireland connection. So, what a nice surprise to see an Allures 45.9 called ‘A Capella of Belfast’ flying the OCC burgee. An even greater surprise was that Julian and Patricia are also members of our club, Royal North of Ireland YC. A splendid evening was spent recounting tales and enjoying good food and wine.
From Haha to Yeehaa
23 December 2017 | Tyrrell Bay, Carriacou
We finally got away from Trinidad on Wednesday 20th December for the overnight sail to Carriacou, Grenada. The 113nm took us 18 hours and we were close-hauled nearly all the way. Our planned route was 5nm east of the Poinsettia Gas Platform but the west-going current knocked us 15-20 degrees off course and we passed the platform 1.5nm to the west.
The wind was mostly 13-16kts with occasional gusts and lulls. An absence of rain made the passage comparatively benign although there were periods when we encountered 2+ metres waves resulting in the inevitable slamming and spray over the deck.
So, at anchor in Tyrell Bay which has seen a lot of vessels in transit and not that many here for Christmas, so it could be somewhat quiet. We are only too happy to get on with all the boat jobs that were not completed before we left Trinidad and get into some relaxing time.
Our pleasure in leaving Trinidad was in having put behind us six weeks of living on the hard and working long days, seven days a week. We still see Trinidad as the best place to leave a boat for the hurricane season and to get work done as it has a skilled workforce and reasonable rates. The people are delightful and friendly and the local food is outstanding – doubles, saheena, aloo pie, sada roti and so on. We were sorry to leave behind Graham and Joan on KARMA but hope they get away soon.
Interestingly the Chaguaramas boat yards are reporting a substantial increase in reservations for haul out and hardstanding for next June and July – hurricanes Irma and Maria have been wake-up calls for folks who took big risks leaving their boats north of 12 degrees North.
We will stay in Carriacou possibly until 30th December as the forecast is for winds of 20-25kts gusting 30+kts on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. We plan on three day sails to Martinique, stopping overnight at Bequia and St Lucia just showing the Q flag and not going ashore. We will see.
In the meantime we have a pile of Christmas goodies to eat and drink, thousands of books (electronic) and each other’s superb company. Merry Christmas everyone.
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.