Tuesday, 27 February 2007 Mustique
Set off at 7. A boat had come and anchored in front and I thought he might be over my anchor, but it was ok; I had the horn in case I had to get him up.
I motored for an hour, but put the genoa out; the wind was still 20 knots and there was a big swell and very strong current. I turned the corner and there were some scattered islets, welcome to the Caribbean, and I had to decide whether to sail between the last two or go round it. I like to give myself plenty of searoom and so went round it. With hindsight, literally looking back, I could see that there was plenty of room to sail between and that would have given me a better angle on Mustique. I had to steer to stay as close to the wind as the boat would go and the current kept taking me west. The wind is supposed to be NE to NW, but it is ESE, not the most helpfut direction. The wind varied by 20 degrees and with an island the size of Mustique that is all it would take to miss it. I did ok until there comes the time when you have to tack or turn the engine on and go head to wind. I decided to tack, even if it did mean going much further north than I wanted. The wind went up to 24 knots and turned more towards the north, this was what I had wanted, but now it was a nuisance. I abandoned the tack, especially as two lobster pots had popped into view. When I want a bit of extra muscle to turn I use Horatio, with the wheel locked fully over and his little tiller full the other way it just gives me that extra power to turn. I do not like the idea of destroying someone s property, but these pots are cheap and easy to make, the lobsters are crushed with no room to move until they are dropped into boiling water. This makes lobster pots not a favourite with lobsters or with me, how many years have the stress of these taken off me over the last few years. Would a rope cutter work, some people say yes, some say no. Instead I could invest in a backpack with a diving bottle in, which would come in handy for other boat tasks. Although in that swell and current I do not think going in the water would have been an option.
11 I put the engine on and motored into the wind and waves, sometimes only making 1 knot, but in the right direction. I could not see any small yachts in the anchorage; lots of charter catamarrans and some big motor cruisers and yachts with two sets of spreaders. There were scattered rocks in the anchorage on the chart and a note to say use moorings. I saved the money in Bequia and was prepared to pay for a buoy here, proper moorings are less worry than anchoring. Buoys mean someone comes out and gives you a hand, normally. Perhaps with all these big crewed boats that was not a problem I decided to go for one between a big schooner and a day tripper catamarran. I was not going to get it from the front and tried to reverse on to it, but the only way was to drift down on it and take it by surprise from the side. I was in the middle of this when a uniformed crew member from the schooner came over and held the buoy for me and I handed him a rope. Thanks very much, ‘no problem’ Aussie
The time had come to clean the waterline. I got the dinghy in the water, my mask and snorkel, scrubbing equipment and my suckers. Now the suckers I have owned for decades and never used. They were originally a 4 pad roof-rack and I was never sure about using them. I put them on the boat as they were one of those ‘come in handy’ type of things. I had seen similar things in the boating magazines and was going to use them to hang on to the hull to stop some of the bashing. I put a rope out all along the side to hold on to and proceeded to clean. The hull did not need scraping, like in Barbados with the barnacles, this was just slime. The barnacles did not seem to like the Caribbean and where there were lots under the hull that I had not reached, most of them had fallen off. I put one sucker on and moved onto the second, when I thought I should wet the surface of the pad. I turned round to do the same to the first one and there it was, gone. I could see it 20+ feet down on the seabed and thought I would get it later. I was going to be happy with ½ of one side, but with the rope and the dinghy and the suckers I cleaned the entire hull and was very pleased with the result.
Now to collect the sucker. I could dive down, but it was too far. I did notice the fluke from the schooner s anchor was right behind me. I was trying to fish for the sucker from the dinghy when everything went dark and I looked up to see the bow of the schooner right above me. The crew was looking on the other side of the boat and one of the day trippers was on my side of the boat and seemed to find it highly amusing. I continued with my snorkel, mask and dinghy to try to retrieve the sucker. I was fishing with one small folding anchor, then I decided to get the second anchor and I also got the third boat anchor to try to hold the dinghy in position. Eventually I gave up, would I have to leave it there or maybe I would try tomorrow. I found that I was quite happy in the water as long as I had a rope tied to the boat that I could hold on to, we are making progress.
The harbour master came for his dues, 50EC$, but that was for up to three nights, which was good, about £5 a night for a buoy – and somewhere that up-market.
Wednesday, 28 February 2007
I rowed into town, 2 food shops and 3 boutique and souvenir shops and a bar.
That did not take long, so I set about retrieving my sucker, again. I spent hours rowing to the spot, trying to get a fluke of the anchor through the strap, rowing back to the spot and trying agaiin. Did nobody wonder what I was doing, did I not look like I needed help? People swam very close, but not close enough. I had to give up again. It was so frustrating when I could see if, but not reach it.
I did pop into the bar before the Wednesday BBQ, but it was all large tables of charter folk. Or perhaps celebrities from the surrounding mega villas, but there are not many people that I would recognise.
I will not put it into print, but when you want to hear me rant, just form a sentence that includes charter yachts, (containing 2 to 6 men of various nationalities) buoys, dinghies (with or without motors) and for a real rant add pushpit rail BBQs.
Thursday, 1 March 2007
I was going to leave, but just one more go at the sucker. I was going to swim down for it. 6.30 I started. Ok I was not going to swim down. I was going to give it today and leave tomorrow. It was getting more difficult to locate as the sand moved around. The current was very strong and by the time I had located it, rowed into position, and looked again, I was metres away again. After hours of frustration I decided to ask the English and American guys on a charter yacht for help. Their reactions were :we are leaving soon, we wondered what you were doing, where are the others, and how much is a new one. I answered all the questions and explained that I just wanted someone to hold the dinghy in position while I fished. One attempt was all I was asking for. Grudgingly two of them came, but could not hold their dinghy, to which mine was attached, in position, even with the engine. They went back to their yacht and I said thank you.
I now had the anchors, a bucket, a fender, long ropes attaching the stern of the boat to the mooring buoy behind me to keep me more in the right area and I fished. More time went by and I saw a new boat arriving, British, Westerley, will not be charter. As they drove past to the buoy in front I asked the man on the front if he dived, as I has dropped something. He came over in his dinghy, swam down, picked it up and that was that. My faith in human nature was restored and when they were ashore I did manage to find a bottle of wine I had bought in Guadeloupe and left it in their bucket with his snorkel and flippers as a thank you.
I had spent 6 hours leaning over the dinghy for each of the last 3 days and the top of my arms were very sore. That is the bit that never gets used for anything and never really even gets a tan. I had also done a lot of rowing on the spot, so I was exhausted. This was probably lucky as it had been a very frustrating 3 days and if I had not had these distractions I would have been more annoyed at the extremely rolly anchorage. I was definitely leaving tomorrow.