2 weeks later...
Sun 24 Feb 2008 02:57
Oh dear, just discovered we haven't updated this for a whole 2 weeks ! Ah well, if you read this regularly, you're probably not that surprised as we've been getting slower and slower.
Sat 9 Feb - went on the Grenada Hash House Harriers run (for those of you who don't know, this is Annabel's favourite 'club', recommended to her by a CAMRA friend as a great way to meet local people around the world - an international (dis?!)organisation of people who get together for a social 'run' about once a week - often known as the 'drinking club with a running problem' - look for your nearest one on the web). Syd's been on one run with Annabel and the Glasgow hashers, so although he would have preferred a bike ride, and had a couple of small foot injuries, he came too and much enjoyed it as it reminded him of his fell-running days in Yorkshire. It was a huge group of over 50 people, many of them 'virgins' to the group as it was advertised on a sailing network and other tourist sites. Otherwise very standard format - regulars offer lifts to non-residents, meet at a bar, the run is described as easy and we were told to expect it to split into a running and walking trail(yes, lots of hashers walk), run uphill through streams, thick vegetation, mud, in pouring rain, scramble up and slide down banks, back through stream to bar, where beer and (normal for Caribbean hash) food are sold - in this case the traditional Grenadian Oil Down which is a huge vegetable+some meat and fish stew made in an oil-drum like vat. Non-standard was the lack of 'down downs' where people have to down a half pint of beer in 'punishment' for various misdemeanors on the run(like racing, or wearing new shoes), but the virgins were gathered together, and ran through a sprayed arch of stale beer to collect beautifully produced individual Loss of Virginity certificates. Tradition continued right into the evening with the last dregs of the serious hashers being led to a chinese fish and chip restaurant for more food and drink and then a wonderful ice cream on the way home. We were very pleased indeed to be given a lift right back to the marina - apparantly they've hosted the hash once or twice. We were also pleased to meet Pete and Lucia, who we thought we recognised from somewhere - Charlotteville in Tobago, and we'd spotted them in another bay on Grenada when out for a bike ride a couple of days before, as they have a distinctive yellow boat.
Sun 10 Feb - Fri 15 Feb - we left Clarkes Court Bay marina and motored 3nm round to anchor behind Hog Island, stayed a couple of nights then motored and sailed with half the Genoa another few miles to Prickley Bay at 12.00N 61.46W, where we got a few things from the chandlery and went into St Georges(main Grenada town) again, but didn't like the often very dirty water and crowded anchorage. So to make our passage to Carriacou easier we sailed round to anchor outside St Georges (there's a lovely natural harbour, one half for fishing boats and cruise liners and the other very crowded with yachts - didn't fancy that either). This anchorage at 12.03N 61.45W was surprisingly no more rolly than some of the bays we'd been in, although the anchor dragged a bit, but it was quiet and clean enough for a swim. We'd had a bit of a problem with the steering, which Syd investigated and decided it was partly due to a combination of barnacles on the hull (soon grow in this warm water) and limescale deposits on the rudder shaft ... all fixed after lots of cleaning and lubrication of the mechanism, but that meant we stayed another night and popped in to St Georges for a nice Valentines' dinner and again for more essential shopping - particularly gin, tonic(different shop) and tomatoes from the market.
Sat 16 Feb - left Grenada after very nearly 2 weeks there ! Sailed a long hard beat over to Carriacou, with a big tidal set as well; we thought the boat was slower than it should have been in spite of all that - probably the barnacled bottom. So the measured course of 30nm became 41.9nm due to the beating and currents and took 8 hours... (should have been 7 hours or less). Although we arrived about 6pm, we managed to find a spot in the fairly busy Tyrrell Bay 12.27N 61.29W and settled down for the night. The anchor slipped a bit in the night so we moved a bit in the morning, but it was slipping ocasionally in the strong winds and rather rolly conditions all the time we were there. We saw quite a few boats we recognised, amongst them Pete and Lucia, who came over for a drink one evening. We're certainly often seeing quite a few people and boats we recognise, although now we're in the Grenadines, there are also a lot of charter boats whizzing about, so the full time cruisers are busy swapping notes on the quieter spots !
One day we took the bikes ashore and rode all the way round the island - probably only about 12 miles, but hard going on one stretch where the road marked as a track on the map had almost completely disappeared and we had to walk and drag the bikes along the hardly visible track (like an overgrown railway track), through prickley bushes and avoiding prickly pear cactii growing accross it too ! The thorns nearly won - lots of minor scratches, Syd 2 punctures and Annabel 1. But most of the ride was lovely with not too steep hills, great views of the sea, hardly any traffic, mostly concrete roads and some tracks. Best bit for Annabel: the huge sticky buns we bought for a mid-ride snack - only managed one between us ! Best bit for Syd: a red-legged tortoise ambling down the road ahead of us !
In Tyrrell Bay we also got a diver to scrub the bottom of the boat for only US$50; we considered learning to dive and do it ourselves but still don't feel we'd dive often enough to get our money's worth for all the expensive training and having to hire kit; maybe next year.
Customs and Immigration clearance is getting a bit easier - from Tyrrell Bay we were able to take a bus to Hillsborough, the main town, which didn't look nice for sailing and anchoring, and clear out there. The little busses are a great view on village life - on the way out the driver stopped to buy tomatoes for a restuaranter in another bay, then later picked up a jack hammer from a mate and lent it to another chap on the bus for a job he wanted to do (at least we think that what's went on - we struggle to even get the gist of local conversations), then on the way back the (surprise surprise) lady bus driver picked up a very small boy left waiting on the school steps and took him home. On a small island like Carriacou they always seem to know the difference between yachties and other tourists and call out the right destination when they're touting (tooting) for your business in the towns and village, and will always back up a few hundred yards to fetch you if you wave.
Thurs 21 Feb - sailed towards Petite St Martinique(still part of Grenada, but with no customs clearance) as we'd read the fuel dock was good value and had emptied another tank filled in Las Palmas, as we're using the generator 2+ hours a day. It was another beat into 18-24kts of NE wind but the boat speed was dramatically improved after the bottom scrub. The anchorage by the fuel dock at PSM looked terribly rolly and windy, so, like a lot of other yachts, we carried on accross the channel to Petit St Vincent(part of St Vincent and the Grenadines, also no customs but they don't mind if you wait until you get to Union Island), arriving at 12.32N 61.23W for lunch, then motored back across to PSM for fuel, which was the same price as in Gibraltar and easy enough to do, although the wind and seas kept us bashing against the dock, which was luckily wooden so our fenders protected us. We got some rather brackish water too. We were just about to jump into the fantastically clean turquoise water back over at PSV, when Syd noticed the radar hanging by a thread (literally - its electrical cable)!!! The bracket had been tightened twice onto the mast and nuts loctite'd before we set off across the Atlantic, but I guess it's only now that we're beating and tacking, that it's getting knocked again. So in the morning up the mast went Syd and discovered it was the bolts holding the radar to the bracket that had lost their bolts, so he lashed it firmly in place and we bought new nuts the next day, but have yet to find a calm enough anchorage to put them on - the winds are blowing pretty strong even in the bays at the moment !
Fri 22 Feb - sailed, not quite close hauled, 4.85nm over to Clifton on Union Island at 12.36N 61.25W. Clifton is a busy little port with loads of charter boats - some picking up provisions and visiting the bars and restuarants, some picking up and dropping off clients as there's a busy little airport just down the street. Saw Pete and Lucia again, did a bit of shopping, got frightened by the little inter-island cargo boat mooring on the town dock just behind where we'd anchored but enjoyed watching it unload all sorts of building materials and small cargo for the shops and restaurants all night.
Sat 23 Feb - (today, at last !) escaped from the particularly busy anchorage with lots of charter catamarans motoring quite fast between the anchored boats to Chatham Bay. The wind was quite strong - up to 30kts in gusts, but we enjoyed a brief downwind sail, then beating again for the last mile or so. This is much better - a nice quiet bay with not a house in sight, lots of birds, including pelicans fishing right up to the boats, hardly rolling at all, and fabulous clear water - Annabel saw a black and white speckled eel whilst snorkelling - eek, scary ! Turtles popping up for air at what we call standard turtle distance from the boat - up, wave and down again as soon as you spot them, just like seals in the UK !