12:00.02N 61:45.87W - Grenada
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 pirates.
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, 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 ok.
The day 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 won.
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 boat.
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.
Different boats 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 this.
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 know them.
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, non-stop.
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.
Welcome to Grenada.