We all reach Grenada

Dick and Irene Craig
Sat 26 Mar 2011 11:34

We continue the passage to Grenada. A motley bunch, two of the catamarans
with broken mainsails and the other dismasted. Nothing further has
manifested itself and Basia appears to be stable.
Unfortunately, after the second refueling, one of our crew broke off the AIS
antenna so we no longer had the advantage of identifying other vessels. We
could also no longer use the standby VHF, available should the main VHF not
function, as this was supported by the same antenna. Unfortunately, the main
VHF is very poor now with a range of less than three miles, always assuming
that the equipment, to which we are communicating, is powerful enough to
pick up our transmissions. If sailing within a mile of us, Jeannius can hear
us. We cannot pick up intelligible transmissions from Basia unless we
communicate via the SSB or Eowyn does a relay.
At lunchtime on the 20th March, the 11th day of the passage, the microwave
oven ceased to function. At sea, I can manage without the microwave which I
mainly use for zapping flour, pasta and rice when initially brought on
board, to exterminate the bugs. Cooking a home made steak and mushroom pie
with roast potatoes that evening, the convection oven no longer worked. The
loss of the convection oven causes me a bit of a problem on the catering
side, as I depend largely on that for cooking my main meals, not to mention
pizzas, cake, snacks, pies and crumbles.
Dick took the microwave to pieces but there was nothing he could do to fix
it even though he is quite a practical handyman. We believe that the
malfunction is connected with a safety feature which prohibits use if the
door is not closed.
Taking a hot dish from the oven and trying to avoid the closing door from
burning my arm, I knocked off the top door catch. However, the bottom catch
is still in place and the door, when closed, remains closed. Dick will
attempt to sort this out when the boat is not going up and down.
A black tipped shark was spotted swimming about 3 metres off the starboard
side of the boat but other than flying fish, many of which have committed
suicide, when they landed on our boat during the night, we have seen little
marine life for a week.
That afternoon, it was noticed that a seam had split on Jeanniusâs mainsail.
We slowed down and just as we were about to launch our rib, a squall hit us.
After it had passed over, Moe and Bev collected a sewing machine from Eowyn
and took it to the stricken boat. However, it was subsequently decided that
the job would be easier to deal with by hand but on closer inspection that
evening, mending the sail while at sea, didnât look a very good option.
Next morning, by tying together two battens, which itself caused a small
tear, a mainsail of sorts was cobbled together and with the loss of the
positive current, Basia traveling at a lower speed, using the foresail and
jury mainsail, Jeannius was able to keep up with the rest of the convoy.
The current was now against us and the escort boats reduced speed to stay
close to Basia. Each of us on board Tucanon has become quite proficient at
deploying and retrieving the drogue, as well as putting in and shaking out
reefs from the foresail. Only Dick has done the same to the mainsail without
assistance; although I also can shake out a reef on my own, I havenât tried
to put one in without assistance..
The espresso coffee maker stopped working when it was time to make the
coffee after lunch. This is the highpoint of my day and it would have been a
great loss had Dick not been able to repair the machine the following day.
The problem had been caused by the thermal fuse overheating, when we were
trying to froth the milk. Bypassing the fuse we can no longer heat the milk
but at least we get a good cup of real coffee even if we do have to use cold
We had also had positive current with us for some hours and having done a
fuel check we were able to ascertain that if necessary we could all motor to
Grenada. Basia had plenty of fuel and felt confident enough to increase the
revs to 1700 whereby she was able to achieve 7.5knots, while we had the
strong current with us.
Tuesday night, Jeannius fell behind and at 8am next morning was still 10
miles off to starboard and eight miles behind. By mid afternoon she had
rejoined the convoy.
Wednesday was dull with occasional rain, all day. Most days on this passage
have been cloudy but we had managed to travel without rain for about 48
The penultimate day and the handle on the inside of the hatch for the port
stern heads was snapped off by one of the lines holding the sail. The hatch
is open 24/7, even when it rains it isnât closed shut. The only time it is
shut properly is when the boat is unattended. I guess it was always an
accident waiting to happen. The same thing happened to the smaller hatch in
the port bow, way back when we were on the Pacific Ocean. It was always a
known risk but one that was obviously considered to be worth taking.
It is fortunate that Moe and Bev have family meeting them in St. Lucia. With
luck, there should be time to get a replacement sent to one of them, before
they leave the UK, which will give us the opportunity to replace the hatch,
before we leave the boat for the duration of the hurricane season.
Around lunch time, Basia reduced speed to 6 knots so that the boats could
maintain a similar speed. With the boats sailing at around 160Â off the
wind, using only the reefed mainsail and/or a foresail, it had become
difficult for some to keep up, without having to use an engine. Not an ideal
combination with a following wind.
Mid/late afternoon and we can see land. Tobago off the port bow.
The morning of the 25th March and Port St.Louis, Grenada is less than 5
hours sailing away. Basia is half a mile from our port. hull, Eowyn,
motor-sailing, about 2 miles ahead, slightly to port, with Jeannius, also
motor-sailing, four miles to port and two miles behind although they did
catch up as we approached the finish line.
They had been a bit delayed because they suspected that a lobster pot, or
some other foreign object, had fouled their port propellor.
As we crossed the finish line, a flotilla of ribs and dinghies welcomed us.
The other participants of the WARC rally who had all arrived at least two
days previously, had come out to greet Basia, and by association, us. Some
folks wore fancy dress costumes, fog horns and whistles were sounded, it was
like our very own private carnival.
We entered the marina before the rest of the convoy and managed to tie up,
portside to the dock, before Basia arrived and tied up starboard to the dock
to the tumultuous applaud of the rest of the WARC.
Rum punches were handed out to all and after a few of those, we retired to
the bar for more. I for one, after making and consuming bacon sandwiches,
had to spend the afternoon in bed to recover before starting it all again
that evening.