Out if the dust at last 13. 00N 61.15W

Lady C is sitting at anchor in the picturesque Admiralty Bay in Bequia. We
left St Lucia at 1130 hrs yesterday morning after being re-launched from
the boatyard where we had spent 3 days getting the boat ready again. We
were lifted on Friday morning, originally just to carry out repairs to the
propeller which had all three of the reversing rollers sheared off. They
control the pitch of the blades in drive astern and without them the
blades were not going into the correct positions and we had no drive
astern or forward. We discovered the damage by diving down to inspect the
prop and it was a while before we realised they were all missing. Alan
from Vetus Marine was incredibly helpful and got the parts, and the
special adhesive to re-fix them, off to us very quickly. They took a long
time to get to us as they were then held in customs until I managed to
speak to Kenneth, a very helpful Customs broker, who said he was going to
the capital, Castries, and would look for them. He was great and when we
returned to the boat that night at 2300 he had put them on the chart
table. I had spoken to the Chinaman in the yard about extracting the old
sheared off studs and he was confident that he could weld onto what was
left and that the heat transferred from the welding would be enough to
break the Loctite seal and allow them to be turned out. As Lady C came out
of the water I saw that a large piece of the deadwood at the rear of the
keel was missing and some copper plate at the forefoot was also damaged so
a quick in and out wasn't going to be possible. We had to be shored up and
as they don't work on Saturday or Sunday we had no choice other than to
stay there for three days. The ground in the yard appears to have been
laid by pouring what looks like the contents of bags and bags and bags of
cement powder and it is incredibly dusty, which when accompanied by the
strong wind that blows constantly, made it a hateful place to be and the
whole time we were there we were covered from head to toe in a fine grey
dry dust. It was all over the boat both inside and out and made life very
uncomfortable. Chinaman was good to his word and got the studs out with no
problem and then repairs to the Kiwi Prop were completed and three coats
of hard anti-fouling applied to the blades (with a light rub down between
coats). A local carpenter called Pride fashioned a new piece for the keel
and fitted it on Sunday and Gaynor and I set out on a mission on Saturday
to find Caribbean Metals to try and get some copper plate to repair the
forefoot. When we eventually arrived we were told that, although they are
open on Saturdays they don't do any cutting. After much pleading and
grovelling we came away with a piece of very expensive copper sheet to do
the job. Next requirement was copper nails and this proved to be an
impossible ask. We resigned ourselves to re-using the ones we had taken
out but this was far from ideal as many of them were bent and old. As we
were shaping the plate to wrap around the forefoot Larry, a resident
American came by to chat and when he heard that we needed copper nails
said " I have some on board let me go and get them for you" Total
salvation the man is a genius and without his help we would really have
struggled to do the job. He came back not only with enough nails to do the
whole job but they were of the grip type nail which are absolutely perfect
for the task. Monday morning found us dusty but ready for the re-launch
which was scheduled for 1100. On going to the office to double check they
had, in typical Caribbean fashion,changed the slot and we were told that
we could either go in straight away or it would have to be in the
afternoon, no need for discussion we were ready in minutes and once back
in the water very anxious to see if the repairs to the propeller had been
effective. Whilst they held us in the slings I started the engine and
tentatively selected ahead and we went ahead selecting astern, with my
heart in my mouth, we went astern Great Success!!!!!!. Off to the fuel
pontoon where I had a chat with another English couple who had lost their
mast 800 miles out from Barbados and had to make a jury rig to get them
accross, it really does makes you realise how lucky you are. Fuelled up,
we motored out of Rodney Bay, how nice to have drive again, and within
minutes we had the sails up and we were doing 6.5 knots over a sparkling
green sea heading South towards Grenada. We had stayed in contact with
some Italian and Spanish friends on another sailing boat called Brigante
and knew that they were in Bequia so we decided to do a night passage
which would get us there around 0200 to meet up with them. I wasn't sorry
to be leaving St Lucia, it is a beautiful place but I suppose it will
always hold memories of sad news received and to be getting out of the
dust bowl was heaven. Once underway, it felt so liberating to be on the
water once again, we washed all the dust off and enjoyed a fast sail
between St Lucia and St Vincent with around 25 knots of warm breeze until
we got into the lee of St Vincent, where we had to put the motor on. They
are having a massive drought here and we saw some bush fires at the
southern end of St Vincent which is very sad. We arrived in Bequia at
0130 and tiptoed into the bay looking for the charted "Leading Lights"
which were, as always, non-existent, Gaynor supplied me with waypoints and
with help from the Radar screen we dropped the anchor in 30 feet of water
had a celebratory beer, to mark our arrival and turned in. We were woken
at around 0900 by someone hailing "Lady Corinne" and were greeted by a
good Samaritan from another boat who informed us that he thought we might
be dragging our anchor. Indeed we were and if he hadn't have roused us who
knows where we might be now. We hauled the chain up and headed further
into the bay where we found Brigante anchored. We attempted to anchor
again but struggled to get it to hold on the crumbly broken shell bottom.
Third attempt and 40 metres of chain later and we seem to be fixed
although the mooring buoys do look tempting as I know I won't sleep
soundly anchored with all these boats around me. I thought it best to
stay with the boat to keep watch so Gaynor said she was happy to go and do
the clearing in process at customs. She's never done the new dingy and
outboard thing on her own before and it was with some trepidation, from
both parties, that I slipped her lines and cast her off. She took the
hand held VHF and was soon in contact to say that her maiden single-handed
passage was a success and she was on dry land. We have been here before,
about 4 years ago, and it would seem that very little has changed with the
exception of a few more cars perhaps. Duncan and Zara will remember this
bay as we christened it "Dead dog bay" after witnessing an unfortunate
canine who had died and was taking himself out for a sea burial. Our plan
is to stay here until tomorrow and then head for Tobago Cays, an area of
outstanding beauty totally surrounded by a horseshoe shaped coral reef
with amazing snorkel ling. On our last visit, as it was right at the end
of the season, we were lucky enough to have the whole place to ourselves,
I wonder how many other boats there will be there tomorrow, I'm guessing
at least 100. Never mind it will still be absolutely fantastic and I cant
wait.

Hasta Tobago Cays


LadyC and her new Captain, who is now Gaynor as the Customs would only
deal with the Captain!

Amanda - Thanks for your kind words, Holiday sounds great you just need to
find a way to
make them a bit longer!