Mount Hartman Marina
15 August 2007 | Secret Harbor
I got up around 6AM to download weather over the HF radio. As I was at it I saw a huge plume of black smoke rising from somewhere east of us. Peter on CUManana came on the VHF with a Pan Pan reporting that there was a massive fire on Calivigny Island, a beautiful private island just south of Clark's Court Bay. Emergency services were dispatched but they had to ferry the fire engine over from the mainland while the islands warehouse and power facility burned. A fine how do you do right before a Hurricane passage.
After the 7AM weather Hideko and I had another go/no go meeting. It was still a no go. Things in Grenada looked good and the hurricane holes here are some of the best in the Caribbean. If need be we could still easily overnight to Trinidad.
Staying in Prickly Bay was out of the question of course. Fairly choppy seas were expected from the south-soutwest on Friday along with winds up to 35 knots from the same direction. Prickly Bay is wide open to the south.
The Swingin' on a Star and Kelp Fiction crews decided to move over to Mount Harman Bay for the first part of the day. Mount Hartman is close to all of the deep holes and yet it is not overly crowded.
The entrance to Mount Hartman looks open to the south but in actuality it is totally covered by reefs and shoals. Most seas break well outside the mouth of the bay. This also makes getting in fairly interesting. The water in this area is pretty green, perhaps from the recent rains, and very hard to read. We followed the safest route, watching the sounder closely. There are buoys marking the eastern most channel. You need to aim for the reds because a fairly stiff westerly current will set you right down onto the reef otherwise. This is no place to steer by the compass in zero visibility.
Once into the back of the bay we had our choice of slips. Hideko and I anchored out and carefully considered our options in light of the expected conditions. Most of the wind and seas in our area were to be from the southwest moving into the southeast. We tied up on the end of the northern most tee facing due east. Hopefully this would have the wind blowing us off of the dock and put the whole marina between us and whatever chop made it into the bay.
Our plan was to stay in this spot through Dean's passage. Regardless Fred and I made another dinghy run to all of the proper holes to the east. If things were going to get into the 50 knot zone we would move. Anything more than that and Hideko and I would head for Trinidad.
Our biggest concern with anchoring and tieing into the mangroves in a hole was the other boats. Fred marveled at the number of boats as we cruised through the Hog Island Anchorage. It had filled in quite a bit and there were still 36 hours for more to come. Clark's Court Bay was getting crowded as well and the marina there was pretty packed. Some of the boats anchored out would threaten those in the marina it they dragged anchor.
We made our way around Calivigny Island which was still smoking and then up into Port Egmount. Fred and I were both amazed. It is a huge, totally protected bay and there were no more than seven boats there. The unfortunate thing is that there were only seven boats there. My worst nightmare would be getting totally secure, helping all the neighbors with anything they need to get done and then settling down for the blow, only to watch twenty boats (most probably steel hull commercial boats) come in at the last minute, drop anchor 10 yards off my bow and go ashore. Port Egmount is a little too famous as a great hurricane hole to be a great hurricane hole. That said if you could get in early and tie in on the side where the wind would be coming from you wouldn't have to worry about other boats. This wouldn't work if the storm came closer because you'd have too many wind directions to cover.
Fred and I decided to take a look around the next point at Calivigny Harbor. It was pretty choppy out but so far we had been able to stay inside the reef line. We started to make our way outside and found ourselves pounding into four and five footers. Normally this is not a problem in a good RIB (we were in the Red Barron), but these were steep. And then we hit a six footer that was not steep, it was a wall. It crashed down right on my head completely soaking both of us. As we made maybe a knot toward the next set a silent look between Fred and I was all it took to turn the boat back toward the bay. I was glad that my VHF was waterproof.
We surfed back into Clark's Court and checked in with Peter on CUManana to see how they were doing. Peter had a nice setup with his stern tied to the dock and his bow on a mooring facing southwest, exactly where the weather was going to come from. Peter informed us that ten boats from the lagoon were heading to port Egmont in the morning. Boats were also coming in from other islands to the north in a non stop stream. It was going to be interesting, but hopefully not too interesting.
Back at our marina in secret harbor we met the Mate of the 135 motor yacht Monaco. Jose was a friendly guy born in Uruguay and raised in Spain. The big yacht had a private weather router and Jose was always willing to share the wealth.
Our marina, Martin's Marina in "Secret Harbor", was formerly a Moorings base and unlike the floating docks that are so popular around here, Martin's has beefy concrete docks right at the waterline that break the chop down if it makes it this far.
Weather at 7PM confirmed the expected track taking Dean to Martinique. Hideko and I had our second to last go/no go meeting and again decided to stay in Grenada. We fully expect to be right here until after the weekend. We emailed Saint Brenden's Isle and asked them to forward our mail and settled down to dinner and the classic Tribble episode of Star Trek.