Nigel North
Fri 5 May 2017 02:16

POSITION:  14:04.48N 60:57.51W  RODNEY BAY, ST LUCIA

Sunday, 22 January 2017 PRICKLY BAY to St GEORGES - GRENADA

Up sharpish and off by just past 0800 on this 12 mile jaunt up the lee coast of Grenada, on a grey overcast day with the drizzle becoming heavier on reaching St Georges - which seemed to have a permanent raincloud hanging over its craggy hills. No wind to speak of, so motored all the way,

On arrival, still drizzling and with Colin on the helm happily wet, we motored nosily round the cramped inner harbour, whilst also looking out for fuel, which we found at the Yacht Club. Took on 13.5 gallons diesel, 30 galls water, and 5 litres of petrol. There being no room to anchor in this small harbour, we turned back out the way we’d come in and joined the dozen or so other boats anchored in the exposed local anchorage outside. We would now be needing Barbara the dinghy, so had a manly struggle filly fallying around getting the 57kg of Tahatsu outboard lowered onto Barbara’s transom without getting a face full of propellor in the process, so we could dinghy back in and have another nose round.
Entering the Carenage - a locals only sort of harbour with just a few wooden craft drawn up on the edge - we had a look for mooring rings to lock up to, but there weren’t any, an effective deterrent. On then round the corner to a popular grandstanding bar overlooking the harbour proper for a drink amongst the moneyed and magnificent, before wandering down to the fish weighing point just as some flashy sports fishing boats were powering in with their catches, and watched whilst some big Mahi Mahi, and a tuna were landed and weighed - clearly an event of some import as there were streams of locals coming down to watch with their families. Walked round to a horrid Pizza Hut ablaze in fluorescence for a fat boy supper, ate half save half, then a walk back in the dark to the dinghy, and Pinball, feeling just slightly edgy in the gloom.


0615 Up anchor and away just as dawn was colouring the sky, still with low cloud hugging the hills, but then that much loved tropical sun rising to smile at us. Wind was forward of the beam, over 20 kts and with full genoa out and unreefed main Pinball was making a good 6 knots. ‘Whats a KNOT?’ (6 Days 7 Nights). But of course, as we worked up the West coast of Grenada heading NE the wind, knowing better, backed more and more onto the nose, forcing Pinball further and further off track until we were heading more to Cuba than Carriacou.

Leaving Grenada behind, the hoped for improvement once clear of land failed to turn up and our divergent course continued unimproved, whilst Pinball did his Westerly best to cross the 17 mile passage between Grenada and Carriacou - the next major island up the chain - for Tyrell Bay. There came a point where, if we were ever to make it, a tack was going to be required, but just as the executive words were forming in the Skipper’s mouth, nature presses a button and the wind drops dead.
Oh! Well…better start the engine then and come back onto track eh Tatts!

Roll away the flogging genoa, engine on, and off we go… 50 degrees to starboard and back on course. But just five minutes later and the wind gauge is indicating a massive wind shift of 60 degrees back on to East, even South of East, and a good 20 knots too, giving us a perfect tack all the remaining way up to Tyrell Bay, Carriacou.  Saved our bacon.

Dropping the spray hood for better visibility, Pinball slowly picks his way through a crowded Tyrell bay, eyes out for the scary shallow patches near the middle, until a spot big enough to anchor in appears quite near the tatty marina. Trouble is, when you do find a hole, you don't know if its there because its just been vacated, or because anyone with any sense knows not to anchor there. Shoal ground, underwater wreck, who knows?   Later on, after the usual self congratulatory I’ve-just-arrived-safely back slapping, I had a closer look at the chart and realised we were not in a safe position; if the wind went round to ENE - which is the norm (it was quite Southerly) - we’d be swung right round putting Pinball  dangerously close to a nasty little reef right next to the marina.
So, Colin, up anchor again, oh blimey ok. Motoring off through the crowded moorings, Colin on the helm, I spot a RNSA pennant fluttering on a nearby boat and was just about to hail them for information when I realised it was BALI, with Les and Louise on board having just sailed up overnight, and no doubt wondering what on earth we were doing.  Bit of luck!  So found a buoy free nearby and the guy what does ‘em was there like a flash to take our line, easy life. He’d be back for the money next day, he said. Jumping in BARBARA, we went aboard BALI for a chin wag, then left them to it as they would have been tired after their 110nm run up from Trinidad, all hand steered, and having to talk to us on top.  


Tuesday 24 Jan 2017


Walking along the beach after hauling BARBARA up to the tree line (like Robinson Crusoe), we met up with Les and Louise in the pleasantly ramshackle beachside LAZY TURTLE for a coffee.  Then Colin and I left to walk along the beach road round to the marina to clear out for tomorrow with Customs and Immigration.
Now Colin, being until his recent retirement a professional corporate business jet Captain, has two passports. He did tell me why, but I couldn’t help thinking, Jason Bourne. Only one has an exit stamp in it from Grenadian Immigration. That passport, he tells me, he ‘hasn’t sighted for a while’ he’s brought the other one.
‘Funny..I always keep it in the pocket of my bag. Don't remember seeing it…’
Mr Customs wanted to see it.
‘Hope I haven’t lost it’ laughed Colin in a hopeless attempt at jocularity, before asking Mr Customs what would happen if he had.
‘$5000’ was the unhesitatingly flat reply. About £2000.  Colin blanched. The smile vanished.  
‘No no, I’ll search every nook and cranny on board, no I’ll find it…wow! yes, right, OK. I’ll go right now…’ and then we noticed the slow grin spreading across the no longer stern looking Customs Man. It was a wind up, magnificently delivered.
We left to recover the passport, returned, and all was done ready for the morrow.

That evening we picked up Les and Louise from BALI and dinghied back to the Lazy Turtle for a pasta. The Pinball crew were boring and had the same dish. Well, one each.


Wednesday 25 Jan 2017 CARRIACOU to ADMIRALTY BAY, BEQUIA 50nm.

Like the weather that accompanies it, not all sailing is pleasurable. Today’s was. The plan worked perfectly - to get to Bequia before the winds backed to a forecast NE - leaving at the crack of a tropical dawn, with BALI not too far behind. They split off from us to take the windward side of Union Island, whilst we kept in its lee, our tracks converging again once past, if not our proximities.  
We never saw each other once after splitting up around Union Island, and of course, they were there first.
Hare and the Tortoise..

 On arrival in sleepy Admiralty Bay we get a call from Bali on VHF to look out for Dee-Dee who will lead us to a mooring buoy Bali have organised for us. En route we fend off two other contenders for our business, until suddenly there is a very busy DeeDee standing in her boat Blessings talking on VHF #68 in one hand and gesticulating to us to follow with the other, to be led to a nice white mooring buoy next to BALI whilst she sorts out a huge white catamaran festooned with happy people. DeeDee is very pleasant. Negotiated price of $40XCD a day, about £13. Very nice to be on a mooring here, as anchoring is a bit hit and miss. Mainly miss.
Customs and Immigration in Port Elizabeth are impeccably polite, but with three Customs men on the main counter, and only one on the Immigration counter, an ever lengthening queue soon builds up in front of the imperturbably meticulous Immigration Officer as he painstakingly processes the quadruplicated forms. We all wait patiently in line, multi-coloured forms and passports in hand. I could hear my mother’s didactic urgings; ‘all things come to those who wait’.
Then its back for a swim off the boat whilst Colin chugs off in Barbara to talk to his beloved on wifi ashore. Invited up for a cup of tea on Bali, this gradually morphs into a meal and a few drinks, very pleasant!

Thursday, 26 January 2017 BEQUIA

Good reception from Chris Parker weather. Off tomorrow, with E 16-20kts Sq 25. Did Customs and Immigration for tomorrow. Sunny and bright in Admiralty Bay.

Friday 27th January 2017 BEQUIA TO ST LUCIA

Waking at 0345 as I do and contrarily deciding to go for it, the corpse opposite was given a shake, and we were off the mooring buoy and heading out of the slumbering bay by 0430, an hour and a half before dawn. Good! The harsh clanking of the chain coming in apparently woke Les too, who were pretty quick off the mark considering.
Motoring out NE along Bequia’s darkened coast initially almost dead into wind and sea, the plan was to pass to windward of the mountainous St Vincent and thus avoid its wind-shadow. Four hours of motoring later and we could bear away enough to get some mainsail up, now being a third of the way up St Vincent’s rugged East coast. From then on it was plain sailing.
No sign of Bali throughout, who in fact left an hour later, arriving an hour earlier, a point they were keen to pass on. They, contrarily, had taken the west coast of St Vincent.
Arrived in the tiny, almost claustrophobic yet popular MARIGOT BAY with its swanky marina right up at the top of the narrow inlet in the inner bay, at around 5pm, after a VHF call from Bali an hour earlier asking where we were. They then, for some reason, thought we were already there. Moored bow to, right next to the marina office, and next to Bali, assisted by an extraordinarily gifted boat-boy whose skill, standing up in his marina dinghy and propelling himself at astonishing speed without falling in, could only be admired.
Left Customs etc to tomorrow. Tired. Had some beers and rum punch on PW then out for an expensive meal in the marina - fish and chips….very nice!

Saturday 28 Jan 2017.

Take it easy day. Watched a massive 150’ multimillion dollar yacht come in and manoeuvre stern to the dock, now blocking off three quarters of the inner harbour with its immaculate shiny black hull. Well conducted though..


Overcast, rain showers.

Took on water, then impressed myself by questioning the bill, suspecting I had been overcharged. My emphatic assertions that we’d only been here two nights proved sufficiently persuasive for the smile free lady to recalculate the bill, doubling the amount, as she had until this revelation only In fact charged for one night. Well done Nig.
Watched that huge frigate sized yacht squeeze itself out of the marina again, having arrived yesterday, to anchor outside the bay, so that a big white swanky super-yacht could get in.

Bit of hanging around waiting for that same astonishingly skilled boat-boy - a waterborne ballet if ever I saw one - to come back from seeing the super-yacht in. Then slipped and proceeded ahead of Bali. Having earlier cut the rubber off the back of the throttle handle which, until then, had annoyingly always prevented full throttle selection in reverse, or anything like full throttle, Pinball shot out backwards in an astonishingly virile display of new found manoeuvrability.
If thy right arm offendeth thee, cut it off..
Hopefully, the days of having to go full reverse a hundred yards in advance to stand a chance of stopping in time, are over.

Very gusty winds in the lee of St Lucia’s high ground and especially around the iconic Pitons - up to 34kts - as we sailed up the west coast, with single reefed main, and the genoa in and out as required, heading for Rodney Bay almost at the top of St Lucia. It will be no surprise to you that the good ship Bali overtook us, as she tends to do, close hauled and looking good, but luffing up a few times in the strong gusts, forcing a reef of their genoa just as they were showing us their heels. As the expansive Rodney Bay opened up to starboard, Bali carried on to tack into Rodney Bay and thence through the cut to the marina, whilst Pinball, the rascal, cut the corner, on engine now, and went to anchor off Reduit Beach with a dozen other boats around.

Rodney Bay is a good stop, one of the best anchorages, and an excellent, if expensive, IGY marina. Restaurants, pizzeria, Customs, food shop, chandlery, all are right there, and taxis abound. Maxi taxis stop just outside, and are cheap. As both my crew Colin, and Bali’s crew Fraser would be leaving here to fly out, it was a good excuse for a last meal together, which was duly demolished upstairs in a cheerful chicken-and-rice restaurant overlooking the marina. Fraser’s determined attempt to dance with our sporting young waitress proved surprisingly successful, lacking only music and a dance floor.