Week Ending 4
November 2007 – Grenada, should have been Venezuela
There was an ex
charter boat advertising lots of freebies, I did not want anything, but went
along and it was fun to see dinghies converging on the boat like boarding
Mike took Ricki
to the vet and left her to finish her medication and go up for adoption; I think
the land option is best for her.
I went to my
interview for the visa extension, I did not have a reason, but they gave me
three months anyway.
decisions, I need to decide on a new anchor. I have spare second anchors and was
going to get a fortress, which is light, but powerful. However, I really want the best main
anchor I can get not just another second anchor. Despite printed claims that the fortress
is ‘the best anchor in the world’ I have yet to see them as main anchors on many
boats. After much catalogue reading
and soul searching I decided to get a 35lb delta to replace my 22lb delta. There was one in the chandlers, so I had
to get the money. The cash machine
I usually go to was out of money and the bank would not honour my card. I had to go to the other bank which is
on the main road and many people have been attacked after using the
machine. I got the money and Mike
took me in the car to the chandlers.
The anchor looked a lot bigger in the shop than the same one looked on Neil’s boat an hour earlier.
I got 15% off
for cash and then another 15% off because I got it tax free, which was good as
they would not normally do that. We
took the anchor back to the boat.
We put the new anchor on the boat and there was a worry that it would not
fit, but it holds in the roller and has about two inches to spare in front of
the bow. It does look big, compared
to the old one. I put the small
anchor in my cockpit locker and set off for TTSA.
I have to learn
to anchor with my new one. I tried
twice, but did not allow time for it to settle in the mud and just dragged it
along. The third time I put out 35
metres of chain and left it for half an hour before motoring on it, that was
disappeared without achieving much and this evening we had the meeting about the
rivers. 4 boats should be leaving
Sunday, 1 maybe on Monday, 2 on Tuesday and 1 in two weeks – I was planning to
go with the first batch. It was
poker night and as most of the players were now in TTSA we had a game there and
I went round to
check out at Immigration (that was a short lived use of my 3 month extension)
and then Customs. I had to pay for
two months harbour fees since launch.
I got some duty free beer, wine and spirits, because it was so cheap – I
don’t know what to do with it as I don’t really drink it, but I am sure it will
come in useful down the road.
It was lunchtime
now and I decided to anchor for the night in Scotland Bay. There were other boats that had checked
out waiting to depart. 5.30 and it
was just about to get dark and then came the Customs & Excise
They went to all
the US flags and I hoped that I would be missed, but it is hard to hide a boat
anchored in the middle of a bay.
You hear the motorboat coming closer and closer and so I hid inside.
were told to do different things, one boat was told that they had to go back to
customs and check in and then check out an hour later. When the boat left they were preceeded
by the customs boat with a flashing light and if you ever want to come back to
Trinidad you have to do as you are told. Others were told to check
back in if they wanted to leave in the early hours of tomorrow or just leave
now. It is normally accepted that
you get 24 hours to clear the country, and the immigration paperwork says
The Customs boat
kept circling waiting for the boats to do as they were told, still I waited for
a visit. There were a lot of
private phone calls and monitored radio
transmissions. I have
not been told to go and so I am hoping to stay for the night and leave early in
the morning when I have been able to contact the other boats. I do not want to have problems getting
the anchor up in the dark.
The customs boat
refused to give the name and rank of the senior official on board and they only
visited US boats, not European, Canadian of South African. Later I heard a radio transmission about
when the escorted boat returned to customs the office did not know why they had
been sent back, who ordered them back – they should have had a name. One customs official said they had 24
hours, the other said they only had 1 hour. So Trinidad have made up their own
rules, which they do not make known to visitors and even their officials do not
One of the boats
was coming to the river, but after the visit they decided that to head through
debris strewn waters for an unknown Venezuelan anchorage was not considered safe
and so they went to Grenada with the other boats..
It was an
unpleasant evening. The boats were
making their transmissions on the radio on the hailing channel so that everybody
could follow what was happening. It
would be on the Net in the morning.
I spent a very disturbed night, expecting the customs boat to return to
check that the other boats had left and waiting for a knock on the hull, but
thankfully it did not happen.
Not all boats
check out of Trinidad because there is nowhere to check into Venezuela on the
river and it can be difficult to check back in when you have not got any
paperwork for where you have been.
I think the Trinidad officials are getting used to this now and if
everybody did the same thing then there would not be a problem. Venezuela is only a few miles from
Trinidad at Chaguaramas and perhaps we should sign in up there before going down
to the rivers. I made it very plain
to customs and immigration where I was going and that I would come straight back
if I did not like it, but I could not ask too many questions in case it made it
difficult for the other boats. I do
try to comply with the laws of a country.
I took the
anchor up at 8 in a very empty anchorage. In the paperwork on the rivers it says
to stay in the bay at the end of Trinidad and cross to Venezuela in the
morning. I was going to go down
today and wait for the others, but the Customs had made it plain that we had to
leave Trinidad waters and I could not risk getting checked down there after what
had happened last night. I had to
find out whether the other two boats that were going on Sunday could go today,
Both the other
boats were US and neither of them was planning to check out and one was now
worried after the events of last night and did not want to go. The other boat was still going, but not
prepared to go today. I had to
leave, so having waited all night I headed for Grenada. Hindsight said I should have gone with
the others last night, but I was still hoping that I could get to the
rivers. Next time I will ask all
the questions and get all the facts for myself and do it properly.
The trip was my
first for 8 months, I must not sit around that long again. It was 80 miles of Atlantic pouring
through the gap between Grenada and Trinidad. The weather forecast was 10 to 15 mph
winds with a slight swell and some showers. I got 15 knots most of the time and
sustained periods of 16 to 18 with gusts up to 22 knots and many squalls. The swell was uncomfortable and the
current was very strong Westerly trying to take me off my course, which was
straight up and close to the wind.
I still had not
sorted the main, but I thought that I was not going to need it until after I had
returned from the rivers. Not
enough thought applied there. I
tried to sail with just the genoa, but the boat would not point into wind
without the main and I was gradually losing ground to the west. I put out a little bit of main and it
immediately got jammed and I could not move it in or out, but it was too rough
to do anything about it. I had to
take the genoa in and put the motor on.
The swell and current were so strong that at 2000 rpm I was only making
2.6 knots; the alternative was a sail at 4 knots in the wrong direction. I did not want to go fast anyway because
I had to not arrive at the coast of Grenada until daylight tomorrow.
5pm I heard a
boat I knew on the vhf, they had just left Trinidad and we were able to have a
chat during the night and the early hours of the morning. It was nice to know there were people
around. They were about 8 hours
behind me, but would catch up to arrive at the same time.
8am I arrived in
Prickly Bay, Grenada. 24 hours rough trip, plus the previous 24 hours when I did
not sleep and I was exhausted.
I managed to get
the main back in, but I did have to stand on the boom to reach, so not something
to do at sea. I did the washing,
had a shower, tidied up the boat and had something to eat. I did not get to Venezuela, but perhaps
it was for the best.
I rowed over to
Customs and Immigration and I had to pay overtime, but even so it was not much
and the man was very friendly.
There are lots
of boats here that I know from Trinidad.
It is still hurricane season, and if we get a warning I will have to go
back down. Let’s hope all the
stress is over and it is onward and upward from here.