08/09/2007, Ross Point
We were enjoying the Ross Point Anchorage. It is not as pretty as Morne Rouge but it is very close to the port. It is also just a hop around the point to Grand Anse. You have to look around for reasonable depth and good bottom in this anchorage but there's lots of space when you find it. Hideko and I really like to anchor out. Marinas and close harbors have their advantages and are nice from time to time but there's nothing like space, facing into the wind and being able to swim (without being scared) right off the back of your boat.
Hideko decided to do just that this morning. She got on her snorkeling gear and head out to explore the area around the boat. I had found some eels hiding in rocks and a lot of other interesting sights while taking a break from the bottom cleaning yesterday. I walked forward to watch Hideko swimming out. As I did I noticed a huge black shadow in the water. I got very concerned and started calling to Hideko as I jogged up to the bow. Then I realized that it was a Manta Ray! His little white wing tips would come out of the water every now and again.
When I got Hideko's attention and pointed the Ray out she swam over. She swam with the Manta for a minute or so and then he took off faster than she could keep pace. That was the first Manta sighting in the wild for both of us, and not soon forgotten.
I went through another two tanks of air completing the bottom clean up. What a job. The barnacles and the grassy algae at the waterline are evil. We are at the 10 month point with the bottom paint. I think the bottom is probably still good for another six months to a year. The waterline is another matter. It is hard to get rid of the grassy stuff and you scrub the waterline more often. I don't think that there's any paint left at the waterline. I'd like to hold off as long as possible on the next bottom paint because I'd like it to be fresh for our Pacific crossing in April. Services get pretty sparse between Panama and New Zealand.
Hideko made fantastic Churasco Steak sandwiches as a treat for completing the bottom cleaning. Our friends Jenny and Kenny who own the Wake Zone at the Lauderdale Marine Center gave us the recipe. I wonder how they're doing and whether they've gone off sailing.
Peter and Debbie invited us over for dominoes tonight. We had a nice time and got a tour of CYM which is a Prout 50. I never realized Prout made a 50 until I saw CYM. It is a great boat and very well built. They have an Aero rig which is pretty wild. Peter and I wiled away the evening discussing catamarans. It is nice to have another cat skipper to jaw with from time to time.
08/08/2007, Saint Georges
Hideko and I were really enjoying the convenience of the lagoon. Free wifi, Island Water World is across the street, there are several restaurants, the capital is across the way and even the grocery store even has a dinghy dock. On the down side the rain has brought all of the trash thrown into the creeks and rivers upstream into the lagoon. Plastic bags and other unidentifiable objects have been drifting by since last night. My bottom is already in need of attention and I don't want to make matters worse. The bugs are really bad right after the rain also. Add to that little breeze, questionable anchoring practices and close quarters.
We decided to move outside later in the afternoon. This decision set off a raft of plans for taking advantage of the lagoon today. We picked up a few things at Island Water World and visited the Ace Hardware/Napa store across the parking lot. When the grocery store opened we ransacked the place. I had never seen Little Star so full. Good thing it was only 100 feet back to the big boat.
Later in the morning we met Audrey and See You Manana for brunch. We met some new cruisers there as well and had a great time discussing various travels around the Caribbean. Cruisers are always trying to pick each other's brains for info on future anchorages. It's great when you run across someone going the way you came and coming from the way your going. This is usually a good opportunity for a chart swap as well.
Peter and Debbie on CYM have two sons enrolled in the Yacht Club's sailing schools. It is an amazing deal and gets the kids out on little cat boats every day for a few weeks. The kids were really enjoying it.
CYM was having some maintenance done and Peter wanted to swap out one of his folding props. We decided to both move out to Ross Point and do the job with SCUBA. So after our relaxing breakfast (for the first time every I think the carib folks were thinking we were taking our time!) we motored out of the harbor to the anchorage at the point.
Although we were only in 10 feet of water I asked Peter to go through the Discover Scuba session with me. He was a great sport and we knocked the basics out quickly. Peter had all of the tools setup in a net hung off of the rail. Once we were under the boat it took a while to get the folding prop off. Lots of parts, many very small. We didn't lose anything I'm happy (and surprised) to say. I am famous for dropping important things into the ocean. I am very close to buying one of those underwater metal detectors just for this reason.
We took a little break after getting the first prop off which took the better part of a half hour. The prop Peter was putting on was a one piece. I was ready for a similar process but the one piece took two minutes to get secured. As I swam back to Swingin on a Star I saw the grassy algae waving in the current. Ug.
I bit the bullet and started scrubbing. You typically want to brush the bottom very lightly so that you take off only the outermost layer of paint and the critters along with it. Unfortunately barnacles, and I had a lot, don't come off unless you really get after them. The grassy stuff at the waterline also takes a bit of elbow grease to get rid of.
I went through two tanks (which is some serious bottom time at 3 feet average depth). I had one hull really clean and made a little impact on the other. One part that needed no cleaning at all was the props. We had them painted with Prop Speed and the stuff is amazing. It is really expensive but it work like magic. The drive legs were worse than the rest of the boat however. I always worry about these because on a saildrive boat the raw water for the diesels is drawn up through the drive leg. When the little vents get grown over you get water flow restriction. I think that I may spring for Prop Speed on the drive legs and the props next time around.
Topside Hideko had noticed a skiff on a mooring in front of us that had taken on so much water in the rains that the boat was swamped with the outboard totally submersed. Some folks were trying to swim it to the shore. Hideko went out to give them a hand and ended up towing the boat ashore, not to mention giving the kids a ride.
08/07/2007, Saint Georges
We had a bit of weather move by this morning. Some time around mid morning we saw a bit of west wind. I watched things for a bit to see if it would follow through. It did, enough for me anyway. It was light but the boat was slowly sliding west and nearing the anchor. I think we could have gone all the way west and still been afloat but I wasn't completely sure. Beaching your boat is one of those things you want to be sure about.
We picked up the anchor and decided to move to the lagoon to see what that was like. Two of our friends, the boats Audrey and See You Manana, were already there and enjoying the proximity to the stores and restaurants. There's a bit of reef on the sides of the harbor entrance so we followed the shipping channel in. This takes you right to the cargo ship dock. Just in front of the dock you take a right and follow the markers in to the lagoon.
The lagoon is about 12 feet throughout and was very crowded on this particular day. We went all the way to the back near the market's dock and took a spot that the guy next to us said had poor holding. We set the anchor with no real problem and we were definitely holding.
It rained a lot today and the wind did a bit of light and variable on the anchorage. This caused the usual collision scare and set up some anchor fouling for the bigger winds to follow. Boats were constantly moving about the anchorage reanchoring. In my book this is a sign that you should leave. It kept raining off and on all day though so we stayed put for the night.
Our Splendid washer/dryer broke down when the genset overheated in Rodney Bay. We have been wanting to fix it but have had a hard time figuring out who at Splendid to contact and then how to contact them.
Island Water World is right on the lagoon and they offer free wifi for the boats in the area. Very kind of them! After a lot of hard work by Hideko, she got on a chat with the Spendid rep over the Internet. Our washer/dryer is in the bow in front of the owners bathroom. It is tricky to get behind it and that was, of course, the first thing the rep wanted us to do. Hideko looked at me. I looked at her. Then I said, you're the smallest!
Hideko climbed up behind the Splendide and took the back off as I typed frantically at the factory rep. After a bit of work we, surprisingly, got it working. A lead had come loose on one of the sensors.
We are not at the one year mark yet but my goal is to have everything setup the way I want it and working properly by then. We are getting close to this elusive state. A big part of it is learning the multitude of things you need to know to take care of all this stuff. A cruising boat is basically a power plant, a water district, a weather station, a radio station, a gas company, a home, and, oh yeah, a boat. There's a lot to know just to be able to operate everything properly not to mention performing the necessary maintenance and handling the unexpected.
I started cleaning the bottom today. I did some underwater work on the boat in Leverick Bay, BVI, but have not touched it since. There is a coral reef on the bottom of our lovely boat.
Things got going in the Maya Cove lagoon in Tortola. We were there for a few weeks and it was not a source of pure spring water. Next we sat in the Saint Martin lagoon for a few weeks getting some work done. I wasn't getting in that water either and I was scared of what was happening down there. After that we were underway with a purpose. Now that we're in Grenada and in a fairly safe zone, hurricane-wise, we have finally started to slow down.
Some say that cruising is working on you boat in exotic places. That is certainly part of it. I spent about 4 hours scrubbing today and I have barely made a dent. I'm guessing that I'll need two or three more such days before she will be respectable again.
We are really enjoying the beautiful Morne Rouge setting. There are a fair amount of pleasure boats and folks on the beach during the day but the early morning and evenings are very peaceful.
It was flat calm this morning. I know I've been saying that but today it was crazy flat. We decided to head down toward Saint Georges but there was really no wind so we up anchored and motored down the coast.
Saint Georges is a pretty town. The Carenage bay is basically a flooded volcano with a charming town climbing up the hill sides from the harbor. There's a cruise ship dock on the Caribbean Sea side and a shipping quay at the southeast side of the harbor. Just past the shipping dock is a channel that leads to the Lagoon.
There is a marina in the lagoon and many boats anchor in the lagoon itself. There was a second yacht club on the west side of the lagoon which has been leveled and the new Port Louis Marina is on the way. The Port Louis Marina will ultimately take up the entire lagoon but presently there's just a construction dock and a nice restaurant. Good burgers here.
As we cruised by we noticed that the lagoon was fairly crowded. They don't like cruising yachts anchoring in the Carenage, but there is an anchorage right outside the harbor on the south side by Ross Point that is pretty good and close to the town. The anchorage doesn't have a nice beach of its own but it is close to Grand Anse which is lovely.
We ended up passing the Saint Georges area by, and on Hideko's guidance, we headed for a little harbor called Morne Rouge. You are not allowed to anchor Grand Anse but Morne Rouge is just to the south and said to be just as beautiful. They don't list Morne Rouge as an anchorage in the guide because inside the actual bay the depth is in the 5-6 feet range.
Not a problem for us. We crept into the bay slowly looking for a good spot to drop the hook. There are not many sand patches here and the bottom is more generally littered with live rock and coral rock. There are lots of creatures living in environments like this and big swinging chains aren't very conservation minded.
After some looking we finally found a good patch of sand in about seven feet of water. We were still pretty far out but if the wind shifted west we would swing into some sand on the shallow side of the anchor. Things were settled for the foreseeable future though so we decided to stay. We took a swim to look the anchor over and enjoy the clear refreshing water.
Many of the locals were enjoying the sun on the beach. The carnival in Grenada was starting to heat up. I don't exactly understand how the carnivals schedule out but at least a weeks worth of festivities are involved and things get more and more crazy toward the end. All of the islands do their carnivals at different times also. I'm fairly certain that you could start with Trinidad in February (supposedly the mother of all carnivals) and keep carnivaling all the way to August in Grenada.
Hideko, Roq and I relaxed in the cockpit to enjoy the cooling evening and the amazingly flat Caribbean Sea. Once the sun is down it doesn't take long before we're down for the count as well. We turned in and just as I was getting to sleep I heard a ruckus to the south. I looked out of the boat and fireworks were going off. We rousted ourselves to enjoy a nice fireworks display (I think launched from the airport). There's no better place to watch fireworks from than a boat in the bay! The unexpected things are some of the best experiences in cruising.
We had a relaxing eggs béarnaise breakfast (with the béarnaise from a few nights ago) as we watched the sun climb up over the island. Happy Hill is a quiet place for the most part. Every once in a while someone blares some music in the evening but it is generally peaceful. Often kids come down to the beach in the afternoon to play cricket and swim or just float around in the water to stay cool.
We noticed a dive mooring at the south end of the anchorage where dive boats tie up once or twice a day. The cruising guide says the area around the point makes a nice dive or snorkel so we decided to give it a try. The bay is small enough that the dive marker was only a short surface swim away. We did the proverbial giant stride right off of Swingin' on a Star and snorkeled to the buoy.
Switching to SCUBA we dropped down to the reef at about 35 feet. Following the reef around to the south takes you down to a little over 50 feet. We came back up along the side of the reef which puts you in about 15 to 20 feet at the end of the dive giving you an integrated safety stop. A dive boat pulled up while we were under putting several snorkelers and some divers in the water.
It was a nice dive but I think the reef is getting pressured by the nutrient rich water. There's a lot of algae out competing the coral. I recently read that 90% of the waste water in the Caribbean is released into the Ocean untreated. Eutrophication is a serious problem.
We had kind of planned to leave today but it was getting a little late. Happy Hill is a good anchorage and although the beach is nothing special the cliffs around the outside are pretty and we had the place to ourselves.
Roq started barking as Hideko and I were putting gear away. I came out to see what the big deal was and I saw two kids from Happy Hill floating by on inner tubs. Then I saw the real issue, one of the guys had his dog with him. It was almost enough to get Roq in for a swim, but not quite.
Later a Nautitech 47 catamaran came in. They were on charter with a big crew but they gave us lots of room so it was still almost like a private anchorage. I think the Nautitechs are some of the most beautiful catamarans around. I haven't given them a good structural looking over but they seem to have nice interiors. I don't think I could ever learn to love steering from the quarter on passage or in bad weather however.
We had perfect conditions for a sail to Grenada today so up came the anchor. The cruisers in Cariacou were having their "Around Cariacou Race" today. It was fun to watch them have at it and I must admit a latent desire to join in. We exited the harbor just as the first heat was coming in to the finish. We carefully steered clear as they raced to the final mark.
Once on course we had 13 to 16 knots of wind. The trim I had set was working well and we were doing over 9 knots. It is a blast to sail fast but on these short trips it does tend to make them a little too short.
Most of the west coast harbors of Grenada have some sort of short coming. The northwest is too exposed, Gouyave has the famous fish fry but the fishing boats take up any usable spots and don't really welcome intruding yachts, Halifax has power lines running across the two bays too low for a sailing boat with a tall rig to clear and Grand Mal is a tanker port with various drawbacks. Dragon Bay did look nice however and there were some recommended five sights there.
Upon arrival at Dragon we noted that it was fairly tight with cliffs and reefs on the sides. Should you miscalculate your swinging range in a clocking wind it would be unpleasant. One anchorage back was Happy Hill which had looked nice and also offered good snorkeling and diving.
We anchored in Happy Hill and found it to be roomy enough for a few boats, fairly well protected for the time of year and rather peaceful. As the sun set we had the place to ourselves.