05 February 2020 | Sandy Island
29 January 2020 | Prickly Bay
28 January 2020 | Grenada Marine, Grenada
10 October 2019 | Grenada Marine, Grenada
20 July 2019 | St. Georges, Grenada
01 June 2019 | St. Helena
30 May 2019 | Jacare, Brazil
08 January 2019 | Somon's Town
10 November 2018 | East London
06 November 2018 | Richard's Bay, South Africa
16 October 2018 | Bazaruto
11 October 2018 | Katsepy Bay
07 October 2018 | Nosy Komba
North to Carriacou
05 February 2020 | Sandy Island
After two nights enjoying the flat calm of Halifax Bay, we decided to head North. This was partially predicated by a shift in the wind to a more Southerly direction.
I should explain. The prevailing wind in the Windward Islands is from the East. However this varies from day to day from slightly South of East to slightly North of East. The plan is to wait until there is a more Southerly component to make the trip North easier.
Our plan was to sail either to Isle de Ronde, just North of Grenada or further to Carriacou, if de Ronde was too rolly. Another boat sharing the bay with us left at about the same time and as we had talked to them the previous day, we knew they were heading to Carriacou.
Just North of Grenada and South of Isle de Ronde is an semi-active underwater volcano aptly called Kick-Em Jenny! On the charts there is an exclusion zone around it so heading North you have a choice of going East of it or West of it. Our fellow traveller who has done this trip for many years went West. Initially we headed East of Kick-Em Jenny (ignoring the other boat’s local knowledge!) thinking that getting some ‘Easting’ early would make the remainder of our trip North easier. However I didn’t take into account the current (1+ knot) going East to West and after an hour of increasing current (which was making it necessary to head closer to the wind and going slower and slower), it became obvious that the other boat (now on the horizon), had made the right call! The good news is that to get to the West side of the volcano we had a great downwind reach at 7-8 knots before having to point North again to head for Carriacou.
With the change of course we eliminated the option of going to Isle de Ronde as it was further East. The rest of the sail North was great at about 40 degrees to the wind with a double reefed main and a partially furled genoa. Ok, so gentlemen occasionally DO sail to windward and enjoy it!
A couple of hours later we were happily tied up to a mooring buoy off of Sandy Island. Sandy Island is a very small postcard worthy island complete with a white sand beach complete with palm trees just off of the larger island of Carriacou. Time for a swim on the beach and a sundowner!
03 February 2020
Halifax Bay was everything we were looking for after Prickly Bay, and most cruisers give it a miss because it doesn't look like much on the charts and the cruising guide doesn't give it a very favourable write-up. Our blustery day of sailing was rewarded by flat calm waters and protection from the winds once we were a half mile from shore. And best of all, it was quiet, peaceful and virtually empty. We had the entire bay to ourselves the first night and FINALLY had an opportunity to snorkel off our boat. The water was clean and clear, there was enough coral to attract a few fish and there were lots of turtles.
The second night we were enjoying our books in the cabin and heard a faint voice in the distance. We noticed a tiny light, which we assumed was a local out doing some fishing and payed no further attention. The voice kept calling out periodically and seemed to be getting closer so I popped my head out into the cabin and noticed the tiny light was growing larger, but I had difficulty understanding what was being said. "Ayot, Ayot" - perhaps it was a call to a friend on another nearby fishing boat? About 20 minutes later we heard a 'knock knock knock' on our hull. When Tom went out he was met by a man, woman and 3 children, in a small wooden boat which had run out of fuel. Apparently, the man had been calling "Hey Yacht", which we had inadvertently ignored until he reached us. Tom passed over our outboard fuel tank knowing that was all we had onboard. We watched with anxiety as what seemed like an lot of fuel pouring into his tank. Fortunately, when Tom politely suggested 'That should be enough to get you home', he passed it back with enough left for us too. But then of course the tiny boat's engine wouldn't start, causing us all even more anxiety. Finally, after 20 attempts, it fired up and the family was on their way in the pitch dark. What a night!
01 February 2020
What a great place to begin our cruising season. It's warm and beautiful, with lots to see and do. We're on easy street with no major passages to plan, no oceans to cross, just an entire season to explore the Eastern Caribbean.
It feels really different here because we're no longer off the beaten path. Prickly Bay is an example of how popular the cruising grounds are here - we're sharing the anchorage with close to 80 other boats. It's an instant community of 'snowbirds' who return year after year, families on charter boats, and a much smaller number of long range sailors from Europe and beyond.
We have more comforts and conveniences than we've had in a while. Right here at the dock we have access to a chandlery, a few restaurants (including one with a nice swimming beach), buses to town, handy delivery of bulk food and beer, beach jam sessions, yoga, organized hikes, and dominoes. It's a friendly, very social place and enough to keep some cruisers from going anywhere else!
But Prickly Bay isn't very comfortable in winds over 15 knots - and its almost always blowing 15-20. (They don't call these the Windward Islands for nothing!). And when there's wind, the big, long bay gets rolly. Which means it's uncomfortable. Which means it isn't any fun onboard and getting back and forth in the dinghy is a very wet experience. So while we appreciate the conveniences and friendly cruising community here, after a couple of windy weeks we we're keen to move on to the Grenadines (and hopefully, on to more protected anchorages!).
The Leak Goes On
29 January 2020 | Prickly Bay
I know some of you won't recognise the reference to the Sonny and Cher song but it seems appropriate for this blog.
We left Grenada Marine as planned after numerous repair delays for a short trip over to the next bay, Prickly Bay, about a 5 mile journey. While motoring over I decided to check the water maker after the repairs to the tank fittings, to ensure they weren't leaking. All was going well, the fittings were dry and the water maker was performing up to specs. Then I decided to check the dripless shaft seal and noticed a bit of salt water in the area just behind the engine. Hmmm. As I am now a bit of an expert on salt water inside of boats, I felt a bit more investigation was in order. Interestingly, the shaft seal was dry, the through hull fittings were dry and the water seemed to be coming from the stern of the boat where we had just had the repair done. Oh - and it followed the path of the newly installed copper band that I replaced in October due to salt water corrosion! After establishing the leak was aft, we decided to wait until we were anchored in Prickly Bay to further investigate. The rest of the short jaunt was uneventful, ending in a easy anchoring in the middle of a 50 + boat parking lot. A little different than the Indian Ocean.
So once settled, I once more found myself in the "hole" looking for salt water. Have I mentioned how much I like this space? As I had previously eliminated most possibilities and was sure that the hull was now intact, the most likely possibility was the water maker (yes the same one that had just dumped 5-10 gallons of fresh water into the bilge). Kim started the water maker and I checked the various connections. The through hull intake and output were dry as were the connections onto the actual water maker. Then on further inspection the telltale dribble of water was detected coming from the end cap of the membrane tube.
The repair was at best frustrating. The leak was from a fitting that sealed with a small rubber gasket. However, after removing the end cap (picture me standing on my head to reach and spin of the cap replacing the gasket, replacing the end cap and all fittings, and testing without success), I finally realised that there was an imperceptible crack in the cap requiring it's replacement. All of this took place with numerous calls to Spectra tech support in California.
Luckily there is a Spectra parts dealer in Grenada. Unluckily, they didn't have the appropriate end cap. Luckily, Sherri said she would put an order in (Friday) and it should arrive and be in my hands on Tuesday. Unluckily, on Tuesday morning, Spectra informed me they have just received the order and it should ship that afternoon. I finally received the part on Thursday afternoon and was able to install it Friday morning with success and a dry end cap. So now we can finally leave Grenada for some actual cruising in the Grenadines.
But wait. After inspecting the faulty end cap and assuring it was dry, I inspected the rest of the water maker again and noticed... yes another small drip of salt water coming from another fitting on another end cap. This leak is a mere drip and can wait until the end of the season for repair. The part has been ordered.
"The leak goes on, the leak goes on, drums keep pounding a rhythm to the brain..."
Best Laid Plans
28 January 2020 | Grenada Marine, Grenada
We arrived back to Grenada on January 11th, Saturday evening after a long series of flights. I had called the boat yard the previous week and asked them to have a ladder set up so we could get onto Exit Strategy. I also confirmed that the bottom painting had been completed and the transom repair and painting finished. The plan was to spend Sunday doing a few final jobs including painting and installing the new bow thruster propellors and getting the boat ready for launching as booked for Monday morning. You may surmise where this is going!
When we arrived by taxi at the boat yard it was dark. We left our numerous bags at the office (on the steps as it was closed) and headed over to the boat. I first noticed the folding transom still on supports on the ground with no decals applied. I then noticed that there was no ladder on the side for access and lastly that the bottom paint had not been finished. Launching Monday was looking unlikely. We did find a helpful security guard who found a ladder for us (actually two as the first one was two short).
Sunday was uneventful and we spent the day organising the inside of Exit Strategy. Monday morning was spent trying to get an explanation of why projects weren't completed. (Surprisingly, they were 'experiencing higher than normal work volumes' but 'our launch was important to them'!) Tuesday the bottom paint was finished but still no progress on the transom decals that needed to be applied before the folding transom was reinstalled. Tuesday afternoon, after sitting around on the boat all day and nothing happening, I went to the office and had what I will call a 'get their attention moment', complete with a number of expletives. Interestingly within two hours the decals were applied, the transom installed and we were ready to launch Wednesday morning. Only two days behind schedule, not bad for a boat yard.
I was feeling pretty good about the state of Exit Strategy after the time I had spent in the fall doing numerous repairs. The launch went well until we were in the water and tried to start the diesel. Turned the key and nothing happened! The starter battery was completely dead. This could have been more of a problem but luckily we have a switch that combines the house and started batteries and were able to quickly get the diesel running and motored over to the dock.
The plan was to spend a day or two on the dock mostly to put on the sails, and then head out to anchor and finally back to cruising. But as I have mentioned numerous times, this is a boat.
The first order of business was to try and recharge the started battery (an inadvertent bump to the isolation switch had kept it from being charged while we were away). The easiest solution was to run the engine and use the newly repaired alternator I had reinstalled in October to do the job. Initially this was working well until I noticed the alternator output drop and an unusual smell come from the engine compartment. The alternator, for reasons that are still unclear, had quit again with the same problem we had in South Africa. This occurred on Friday and luckily we were able to get it off to a repair shop and back in working order Monday morning. (Note we are now a week later than planned getting off the dock!) It doesn't end there though. As a backup we used shore power and our newly installed battery charger to rejuvenate the starter battery again without success. It was old and hooped. Monday we ordered a new battery that arrived Tuesday but because the positive and negative terminals were reversed we had to get the yard to fabricate a new battery cable. This as went well and by Tuesday evening we seemed ready to go.
Oh except for the blocked lines from the water maker to the water tanks! Testing the water maker had put about ten gallons of water (luckily fresh) in the bilge. Investigation revealed the fittings attaching the water maker to the water tanks were corroded and blocked. I my defence nothing showed from the outside. This was not an easy fix as when I removed the fittings from the tanks the corrosion caused them both to break off at the threads. After a lot of grinding away corrosion, re-tapping the holes in the tanks and a bit of 3M 5200 adhesive I think the problem is solved and initial tests don't show any leaks.
One last thing. After a number of frustrations and general fatigue with projects, we decided to treat ourselves and have the teak decks and fibreglass cabin tops cleaned. The yard sent someone who worked hard and and seemed to be doing a great job. However by day three we began to worry as to what this was going to cost. Suffice it to say the decks haven't looked this good since the boat was launched and after a discount on the hours charged we only have to take out a small mortgage to pay the bill!
So now it is Thursday, twelve days since our arrival and we are headed out of Grenada Marine for an extensive voyage of two hours to the bay next door to anchor, put boat repairs behind us and start some relaxed cruising.
I should note that although it may seem that we had a inordinate amount of trouble with the boat yard, by comparison to other yards, the workmanship and congeniality of the staff were way above average. We plan to use them again.
Definition if Cruising: Fixing Boats in Exotic Places
10 October 2019 | Grenada Marine, Grenada
After a 5 month absence from Exit Strategy, I started to feel boat withdrawal and flew down to 'work' on the boat for three weeks in October-November. In reality I had arranged to have some major work done on Exit Strategy at that time. Remember the ongoing leak that turned out to be a crack in the stern at the deck hull joint? I wanted to be present when this and a couple of other repairs were being done. I also planned to spend the time doing a few odd 'minor' jobs that were on our to do list.
Living on a boat 'on the hard' is hard. Access is by a ladder, bathroom and shower facilities are on the other side of the yard and generally the boat is a mess because of ongoing projects and the interior is mostly disassembled for the off season. A serious first world problem!
Things didn't start out that well when the yard manager informed me that they were very busy and might not get the stern repair done in the three weeks allotted. I should mention that I had had a number of email conversations 4 months earlier confirming that 3 weeks would be enough time and they would schedule it in for the time I had booked to be there. So it was a good sign when within a couple of days of arriving the stern was ground down to fibreglass and the the repair process started. Eventually this led to a outside and inside repair and additional fibreglass mat being added to strengthen the join. All went well although a little behind schedule and the final painting would be done after I flew back to Canada.
During the three weeks I was there, the 'few odd jobs' ended up being almost a full time job. I did leave the boat yard once to get milk and cereal for my on board breakfast but the rest of the time stayed busy with projects.
Our battery charger had quit before going home in the spring so I brought another to instal. It was the same make and model I was replacing so the installation should have been straight forward. But this is a boat and some alterations to the new improved model of charger required new cables, the addition of a fuse box and rerunning the shore power leads. Adding the fuse was the hardest as it required disconnecting and removing all six or the house batteries (think heavy car batteries) to gain access to the best location for the fuse. All done in just two days!
Our high output alternator had given up between South Africa and Namibia and so it had made the trip home with us for repair. It also made the trip back with me for reinstallation. I'm becoming a bit of an expert at removing and replacing alternators so this only took a couple of hours.
One of the problems with having had a salt water leak is that salt water ends up in the bilge of the boat and in our boat that is also where the grounding copper band is for our radio. Salt water and copper don't get along that well and as a result the connection of the copper to the keel boat corroded and broke off. Solution: replace the copper band that meanders it's way from the centre cabin around the engine compartment and under the aft cabin berths to finally make it to the steering quadrant area (that area I call the 'hole' where anyone larger that me can't fit). One day job except for attaching a side cable to the actual radio.
The rudder had started to 'clunk' again (you may remember Australia) so it required some investigation. Unfortunately this requires dropping the rudder post which in turn requires removing the steering quadrant and auto helm quadrant as well as the retaining ring on the rudder shaft, again all in my favourite spot, the hole! It turns out that the inner lower bearing had come loose form the rudder post and was easily fixed by infusing epoxy between the post and the bearing. Then back in the hole to replace the quadrants (as is often the case harder than removing them). Another two days.
The list goes on and includes reseating a leaky hatch over the galley, removing cleaning and reseating two leaking water tank filling hose deck fittings, adjusting a leaking sink drain hose, putting aluminium backing plates behind the wearing gimbals on our galley stove, removing and replacing deck fittings so the yard carpenter could repair some cracked teak and replacing a lost bow thruster propellor. The fridge repairman also came by to 'recharge' our fridge compressor.
All in all it was a busy three week 'vacation' in Grenada. Not all bad though as I always enjoyed a rum and tonic sundowner in the cockpit at the end of the day (Drinking alone isn't that bad is it?) and enjoyed great dinners at the restaurant on the beach.
I'm looking forward to seeing the final paint job on our return in January.