Union Island

If Knot Y Knot
Patricia Day
Sun 4 Mar 2007 12:33

Friday, 2 March 2007 Union Island


6.25 Upped anchor and away.  I was going to motor because the batteries had been down to 10v for a couple of days and I could not get them charged on a buoy.  When I tried I had to put the motor in gear, which worried the neighbours.


I was going to Tobago Cays, but had been told it was going to be windy for a few days.  That would not be the weather to go reef riding when you need to be able to see the rocks.  The anchorage was also totally exposed.  I charged up the computer on the inverter and the batteries were just under 12v.  I did have to run the water maker, but only to keep the membrane happy, not for long enough to make any useful water.  Then the batteries could have all the charge left over from the engine, except for running the nav instruments.  They soon went up to 13v and stayed there. 


I motor sailed most of the way.  For once I went on the Atlantic side of the next island, this would stop me going too far west with the wind and current. It was very windy, mostly 20+ knots, so I only put out the genoa with a reef in.  There was a good 3 metre swell and it was just like being back in the Atlantic – I was back in the Atlantic, these waves had rolled straight across unimpeded.  I did have one huge wave that crashed over the back and it is not often that happens. 

I have four places for the dinghy depending on the journey.  I was in island hop mode, security level 1, on the foredeck, tied down at the front and shackled round the mast and the baby stay.  Security level 2 is on the foredeck, but the other way up for longer inter island stints when I want to sit in it.  Level 3 is tide across the coachroof for longer trips and level 4 is in the aft cabin in its bag for ocean crossings.  I just hoped it would stay put when the wind was coming at 90 degrees. 


I was 4 miles off the bottom of the previous island and Tobago Cays and still in under 20 metres of water, I could not see the reef in between me and land.  I could see the boats in the anchorage and when the opportunity arose they started to leave, some heading north, some south.  Some stayed, I was told the holding was good, but it was not a day for me to find out.  Between me and the anchorage I could see the swell and the turquoise water as it hit the unseen reef.  It is good to see this now, makes me appreciate what it is all about for when I come back and do the Cays on a calm day with the sun shining through the water to the reef below.


I only had an hour to go, but took the sail in as I have to get ready to anchor.  I had to move the dinghy out of the way, but still tied down.  Then I had to do a pilotage plan of the approach to the anchorage.  There was a serous shoal off the island to my left before I got to the approach.  I paid great attention to the red markers.  Soon after the first couple of markers a boat boy came out to try and get me on a buoy.  I am trying to concentrate on the depth and shout a conversation which is distracting, but luckily it It was not as shallow as the charts showed.  There are a couple of jetties to berth up to stern to, but I am not sure if they are just for charter boats.  I wanted to anchor if I could.  I settled for 10 metres of water, which was deep, but there were rows of boats in front of me grabbing the shallower places.  I think it is ok here.  No plans as yet.  I am near enough to the shore to row, usually the wind direction will either help take me into or out of the shore, here it is across in both directions, which is unfortunate.


I went ashore and walked the town, that didn t take long.  I had an ice cream that had been frozen and de iced so often there was an enormous gap between the chocolate coating and the ice cream inside.  The result was it dripped a lot and fell apart nearly faster than I could eat it.  I said nearly, but my clean t shirt wasn t any more.  The people seemed happy and friendly.  I rowed back to the boat.  The jetty was not somewhere that you would want to try in the dark or if slightly worse for wear due to the swaying, the gaps and the general condition.  There were a pair of dogs who were playfully shredding a rope that must have been tethering something at some time; under other circumstances this would have been cute.   It wasn’t my rope, so maybe it was still cute.  I rowed at right angles to the boat and when I got to the tripper catamarran next to me I just floated down onto my boat, I just had to make sure I did not go past.


A boat came and anchored behind me, I was concerned in case I wanted to put out more chain, but when I looked later they had gone.  This happened several times during the day, perhaps the holding was really bad.  7pm I had the answer, they could not put their anchor down there because that was where the ferry anchored and turned.  I must have been at the limit of acceptability, everybody else must have been told to move.


Saturday, 3 March 2007


I went to the airport to clear customs and immigration, that was really easy.  I cooked a good lunch and put the dinghy away and got ready to leave before it was dark.  The gas bottle ran out, right on cue.  It is a little later than usual, but it did not know that February only had 28 days.  I am on my last bottle and that will mean leaving the boat with 2 empty and 1 nearly empty gas bottle, which is a good thing.  I did not like the island yesterday, but today it had grown on me.  I have been told that after you have been up and down the islands a few times it gets better, and I now think this is true.


Boats are completely in the way of the ferry now, but it left this morning, so presumably will not be back until after the weekend.  It is not just a case of where you can and cannot anchor, it is also a matter of when.. 


I did not want to leave until 5.30, but there was so much going on I could not relax.  Were they going to be over my anchor chain when I needed to leave.  One dinghy was passing when its outboard stopped, I let them tie to me while they tried to get the engine to start, to save them drifting to the wrong shore.  I did tell them that they had to swear at it as though they meant it, but they did not do this and had to row ashore.  The boat next to me went round and round trying to anchor, I was getting no peace and as my holding was good I offered to go and let them have the space.  These were both charter yachties, so I must have made my peace with them as a class.


It was only 4.15 when I left and the yacht that I had enlisted to retrieve my sucker in Mustique, without success, was entering as I was leaving, so we waved.

I am sure my chart plotter is a bit off at times, I have been making 30 degree allowance for when I am heeled, but am not happy with the situation, especially with the reefs and shoals in these islands that make it rather stressful for the single hander.  I was looking for the wreck and the shoal which should be to the front and right of me.  I saw a freighter with a wake behind it and felt better if he could go across then that was where I had to get to.  I came to realise that the freighter was the wreck and the wake was the shoal.  The wind changed direction by 50 degrees and took me over that way.  It was going to be dark soon.  I changed my mind and went down the west coast of Carriacou, I could cross at the bottom rather than the top. I was considering the windward side of Grenada.  The forecast was 20 to 25 knots, with squalls, this would make a fast trip and I needed to make it last until daylight so was probably going to stay on the West coast with the fluky or no wind situation.


With the instruments and lights the batteries did not hold up and I was going to have to put the engine on.   I decided to make some water while the engine was on.  The battery situation is ruling and ruining my life at the moment.  The wind was good, I could have sailed, but I needed the engine for the battery power, I have to accept that they are not holding the charge.  Something else to replace in Trinidad.  There was a full moon, somewhere behind all the thick cloud, which I could have done with.  I stuck with the west coast of Grenada.  At the top there are quite a few big rocks, the chart plotter said I was fine, but I thought I could just make out a shape in the not too far distance.  I put the radar on and sure enough I was heading for the hard stuff.  I took some photos of the chart plotter with the radar overlay to show how far out it was.  There is no way I could power the radar without the engine on and every now and then the radar is really useful.


9pm I turned the engine off and had to slow the boat down because I had been motoring with this wind at 5 to 6 knots and did not want to arrive before daylight.  I had put the main away and only had the genoa with 3 reefs in to try to do 3 knots or less.  At 10pm I took to the dinghy, cockpit cushions and the duvet cover, it was really cold.  11.30 there was a 26 knot squall, but the rain missed me, and more importantly the dinghy.   At 1am I had to put the motor back on, but the wind had dropped and I was able to put it on low revs to keep everything powered, but only do 2 to 3 knots.


I could see the light at the SW end of Grenada and just had to head for that, staying off for the shoals and waiting for daylight before I turned the corner to go along the south coast.  The wind was dead ahead and it was hard going to get up to 2 knots.  I arrived in Prickly Bay and anchored just before 8am, tired but pleased to be here.