12:34.905N 61:26.251W Uniion Is Grenadines
Week ending 25 November 2007
I went in with Bluewater Cat and we spent a long time in Budget looking around while their laundry was doing. There is a break in the weather and then it is going bad again, so I have decided to go to Carriacou tonight. If I went round to St Georges I could make it in a day trip, but it will take me 3 hours to get round.
I tried to rest and set off just before dark at 5.30. The anchor shackle is still giving me problems and my stern light went off before I even got out of the anchorage, a good start. I will deal with the shackle the first opportunity I get, but when the anchor is up I am going along and when I have stopped the anchor is in the seabed. I could have just used my solar light for a stern light, but I decided to try and sort it. The worst thing about a stern light can be deduced from its description – it is over the back on the stern. I have a spare bulb and got the cover off. Getting the bulb in was a bit tricky, you are not supposed to hold the halogen bulb with your fingers, I should have got some kitchen roll, but it is still shallow along the South coast of Grenada and merits attention. I think I should have turned the lights off before putting the bulb in, but it was now dark and I took the chance. I could not get the cover back on properly, but that is what duck tape is for. It should stay on and waterproof until I can get to it from the dinghy.
I had set waypoints earlier into the plotter and the GPS. I checked the engine hourly for the first three hours and then 2 hourly and then I may have got a bit slack about it after midnight, I certainly did not log any more checks. After an hour I was able to give a bit of attention elsewhere and so I ran the watermaker for three hours, I had cleaned the pipe to the tank through, but I forgot that there is a bit of a leak at the joint by the watermaker, so I bottled the water. I was bouncing along in the swell decanting 5 litre bottles into the tank at the bow, not too clever and I lost one of the empty bottles overboard.
Non Linear and Cheetah 2 had gone round to St Georges for an early departure tomorrow morning. I caught up with John on the radio as I was passing. There was a ¾ bright moon which made it easier and the cruise ship in the harbour was all lit up. I moved out further from the coast than one of the waypoints was set for, it seemed to be cutting the corner a bit. There was not much wind and then it was too close to my track and so I did not try the sails, I motored.
After midnight the moon disappeared and it was pitch black. When I came down Grenada in March I got the lunar eclipse, surely there cannot be another one. All the stars are out, it is just the moon that has gone, it must be a very thick cloud layer. I was getting to the top of the island and there is a crop of small rocks and some big ones. I have never seen these up close in light and now was not the time to try going between them. I wanted to go East, but did not want to just trust the radar when I could not even see outlines. Kick ‘em Jenny, the underwater volcano is also here. I am sure I went straight over it on the way down, but now I know better I had to go round the exclusion zone, so I had to go West. This decision took me into a very uncomfortable swell, the current is strong here and was also going West. The wind was now 14 to 16 knots and I should have been able to sail across to Carriacou, if I had gone East. Having gone West, the wind was now head on and I had to continue to motor.
I struggled through the night and was very pleased to see in the new dawn. I could see the rocks, that had taken hours to get past, were now behind me, Carriacou was in sight ahead. Then the island disappeared under thick rain, there was a 2 square mile squall coming right for me, 24 knots and rain, but Tyrell Bay was only a few miles to go.
I anchored at 8 in the morning.
I had 4 flying fish on the deck and the swell had broken the strap on the drawer unit and one of the drawers has a broken arm and had been sick all over the floor. The autopilot had shaken loose from the wheel and a plastic fitting on one of the mountings had broken. I tidied up and did some temporary repairs and rested. Non Linear and Cheetah 2 started at 7.30 that morning and were in by early afternoon. We went for a walk on the island along the beach.
There is a Northerly swell coming later this week and this island is not the place to be, so we all moved round the corner to Hillsborough to check out. Carriacou is part of the Grenadines, but it belongs to Grenada, which is not. Then we went across to Union Island. I am very happy to report that I sailed all the way and it was lovely. I even had the main out to the spreaders and it did not get stuck. I trailed the dinghy, I have never done that before. I may even get the outboard put on. The others went in to Clifton, but Loreley was this side of Frigate Island and I went and rafted up with him. This enabled me to fix my anchor. I changed the shackle for one a size down; the shackle on the other side of the swivel does not cause me any problems so I left that as it was. We did also give the windlass a bit of attention, the chain guard in particular needed taking off and tweaking with a big wrench.
Mike took me in by dinghy to the dock and I caught a maxi to the airport to check in. The Caribbean had brought in Advanced Passenger Information, which meant e-mailing ahead your passengers and expected time of arrival with 24 hours notice, this gives them time to identify and catch the terrorists on board. This is ok for planes and cruise ships, but little yachts are not equipped to do this; it comes under the heading of ‘you cannot be serious’. There has been a big fuss made over how impractical the system is. Trinidad and Grenada had not passed the legislation and and Antigua had abandoned it, luckily the Grenadines had also just given up in the last few days. I think the reaction from the charter companies, which are a huge source of income for these islands, had more effect than the disgruntled private yachties. I checked into Customs and Immigration and it was quick, easy and pleasant.
I met up with the others in a restaurant before returning to Ashton.
My SSB receiver had lots of weather frequencies programmed in, but they were for the Atlantic crossing, so I deleted those and put in the ones for here. I also put in the Coconut Net, which is where people check in and say where they are; well, those with transmitters do. Also there is a Safety Net. A lot of the day was spent with batteries, connections and a multimeter. I did go in the water and swam once round Mikes boat. I am determined to go in the water more than I have previously, that won’t be hard to achieve.
It was Thanksgiving Day in US, Mike had a couple of chicken legs in the freezeer, so I did a roast dinner with blueberry cheesecake to follow.
I made a paper pattern for the bikini and cut it all out.
Cheetah 2 and Non Linear walked from Clifton to Ashton and we met up and took a scenic ride back to Clifton, past some lovely white sandy beaches. The water is beautiful here, I think the Grenadines are the best part of this end of the Caribbean.
I put on my wetsuit and snorkelled my anchor chain. The water is about 12 feet deep here and completely clear. My chain was over the rope to a fish cage, so we moved the cage further away so that I did not get caught up. All there is here are sea urchins and some small pretty fish, not much coral. I knew I could swim really, the fins help and the wetsuit means that the 85 degree water temperature is pleasant.
The wind is continuing to rise in strength and my batteries are 100%, I turned the wind generator off overnight. I ran the watermaker and there is still a leak which I have narrowed down to the intake side. Mike came over and helped and despite hours of effort we do not seem to have progressed. I have realised that there is no magic solution to this, I do know how to check it all out, but it is going to be a long and painstaking process. There are so many joints where the air could come in, just up to the filter. Each time I use the watermaker I will try bypassing one joint at a time and slog through until one of us surrenders. I should have done this while I had the suppliers and the spares available, but I could not face it. I thought my worst area was anything electrical, but I have to put plumbing up there on the top of the list for the sheer miserablility factor of it.
Mike and I were alone in the anchorage and then Silver Seas joined us and they invited us over for dominoes. Nine months I have been trying to get the opportunity to teach Mike and now he was going to get a crash session before we go across. There were 8 boats here by this evening. It is windy and choppy, but not that uncomfortable, other anchorages in these conditions would be unbearable.
I needed a haircut and so I had a preliminary snip about, it will take days to get it done properly. Mike shaves his head so did not feel qualified to help me.
Still very windy, the wind generator had been off overnight, but the batteries were back up to 100% in no time.
Cleaned up the spark plug to the outboard and the batteries for the water tester as I had got water in there and they were new batteries. The smoke alarm squeals whenever I put the battery in. I tried a new battery that I had just bought in Grenada and it did not work, expired 2006. I have left it in the smoke alarm for now, it does not make it squeal.
This weather could still get windier before it calms down and we cannot head for Tobago Cays until it drops.