It has been some time since a wrote a journal so it's high
time I begin.
After Carnival in Trinidad we sailed back to Grenada in
what turned out to be almost a sail from hell.
We had seas of 9-13 feet with winds that gusted to 38
knots right on the nose for 83 miles. It took us 13 hours at an average
speed of just over 6 knots. We sailed with a double reef in the main and
our genoa rolled up about half way. About in the middle of the passage,
our furling line chafed through and broke. This opened the genoa to its
full size which seriously overpowered us. There was no way we could sail with a
130 percent genoa fully out and there was no way we could roll it back up.
Our only choice was to take it down. Now that should not be an impossible job
under normal conditions, but we had waves breaking over the bow which was
constantly under water.
I donned my life vest and harness and went forward to pull
it down while Judy helped to pull it down from the clew end. We got it
down and on deck but not without a great deal of effort. When a sail is
full, drawing and in big winds, dropping it is all but impossible. One has
to physically pull it down which took every bit of strength we had. If we had
eased the sheets, the sail would have flogged itself to death.
After getting it on deck we lashed it to the rail and
sailed on with just the main, albeit somewhat slower. In order to make
headway in those monster seas, we turned on the engine to help.
After a while, Judy noticed the sail had come unlashed and
about half of it was dragging in the sea. We had to get it back on deck
and this little task took us the better part of an hour.
Judy went up to the bow and at one point, a wave picked
her up and deposited her spitting out sea water, back near me at the mast.
In the process, she lost one of her Teva sandals and got really banged up
hitting everything on her seaborne journey down about twelve feet of
The sail had gotten tangled in the life lines, stanchions
and spinnaker pole and basically was knotted there without a clear way to
understand how to untangle it. Plus, it was still lashed in several places
and all the lashings had slid aft in an underwater pile of sailcloth.
Everytime we thought we knew where to start, a big wave would wash over us and
tear our hands from the lashings and sail. I suppose we could have turned
around and gone downwind which would have lessened the waves over us, but that
would have meant making up the hard won distance we already had
At one point we considered cutting the sail ties rather
than trying to untie them but we persisted and eventually got all of them off
and the sail back on deck.
Our next task was to get it to the other side of the boat
where it would be on the high side and not pounded by water cascading down the
deck all the time.
A day or so later we looked at ourselves and saw the
terrible beating we had taken. Judy was black and blue everywhere.
Big ugly bluish, yellow and black splotches on her arms, legs, buns,
chest. Almost any where there was skin, it was bruised.
One of our friends, Frank and Tari on Vision precede us
two days earlier in much less wind and seas in their 56 foot catamaran and had
both brand new trampolines torn out of the deck. I guess we were
lucky only having to replace 80 feet of line. I have tried to duplicate
the position of the furling line to see where chafe occurs and for the life of
me I can't see how it broke, unless it was just from the pressure on
Now when we partially furl the sail in strong winds, I
inspect every foot of the line to make sure it can survive.
After a few days on Grenada we had another nasty sail
north to St Vincent.
Every day, for months now, the wind has been out of
the ENE and since the windward island chain are north/south curving to the NE,
it has meant sailing hard on the wind going north. Also every day, the
winds have been 20-30 knots with rain. It rains sometimes 5-6 times a day
and equal number at night.
The boat is turning into a big moldy mess inside.
Who ever said the Caribbean is a paradise is crazy. The only good thing is
that after a hard sail with everything salt covered, it rains hard and
washes it clean. Also the water and rain are warm so I just put on my
bathing suit and get wet.
We are now on the French Island, Martinique. What a
pleasure to be back in civilization, with law and order and a decent
economy. You can keep the southern islands in the Windward chain and in
private I will tell you what they are really like. I think most
of our Caribbean cruising, will be in the French and Dutch islands. it's
one thing to be here on a charter, cruise ship or hotel, and another to spend
months visiting all the islands and having to actually live in these
parts. In a contest, with the winner getting to spend time in the
Caribbean, second prize should be two weeks, and first prize,
On our way up the chain, in St Vincent, we stopped in a
bay that was the principal setting for the Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Mans
A good bit of the set is still there, slowly rotting away
in the jungle. It probably looks more authentic now than when the movie
was made about 5 years ago. The jungle creeps in very quickly here and
considering no one is really taking advantage of the site by making any kind of
tourist attraction, it will soon disappear.
This set was made to look old, and now it finally
looks authentic, except for the young lass standing in front of the
As an added attraction, if the set weren't enough, the
owner has a big collection of old phones which he lovingly displays, (for free)
in his telecommunication museum. This is really just a small
Our boat is dead center, first one. These are what
is left of the docks built for the movie. Hurricanes, no imagination, and
laziness have let a gold mine slip away from the owner.
If you look closely, you can see some little boats to the
left and in front of out boat. These are the scourge of many of the
islands. They are peopled by boat boys who harass you to no end wanting to
take a line to shore, sell you junk, rent you an outrageously expensive mooring
ball or what ever else they can con you into using them for. They
sometimes will row out three miles to intercept you and then demand to be towed
back in. If you don't use them, they threaten to do harm to you and the
boat. At one point, we had eight of these boats around us, interfering
with our mooring procedure. We didn't use them and they called us all
kinds of names because of it. They want $5 USD to take a line to the posts
behind where we are moored and another $5 USD to attach a bow line to the
mooring ball. They exist mainly because the charterers can't or won't moor
themselves and are willing to pay. What's a few bucks divided among the
hordes on each boat and they are only here for a week or two. People like
us on the other hand are here for months and paying something for nothing
adds up over time.
There is a flurry of activity when the boats come in late
afternoon but before that and during much of the day, these guys are
all sleeping on the beach, drunk on rum.
The sad fact of most of these islands is that while
tourism is the economic mainstay, it is a kind of free for all, where the locals
try to out do each other in conning money out of the yacht people. Large
hotels that have come here are insulated from the locals and they aim to
keep it that way. Even the cruise ships only set their passengers on shore
for a few hours and then only in a port with a motley market of junk. Many
I talk to think it is charming, I think it is disgusting. Children are
taught to ask for money even if they don't do anything of real value for
it. When we dock with the dinghy, there usually is a kid wanting to take
our line and offering to watch the boat. If we say "no thank you" the
response is something like, "well, you better hope your boat is still ok when
you get back". To me it is a kind of resentfulness and anything they
do is ok, cause
" I'm just trying to make a living". Today, I asked
a small group of teenage school girls ( in neat uniforms) if there was
an internet cafe nearby. They only spoke French and couldn't understand
the word "internet" so couldn't help me, but one of the girls held out her hand
and asked for "one euro", I guess for just saying nothing to
I am told it gets better as we go north. I hope so
because I need an attitude adjustment.