West Indian Sojourn

Sharon McGinty and Karen Slater joined the ship in Grenada.
There followed 16 days of holiday. After all the seatime and seamiles, we had free cruising, in one of the loveliest cruising grounds in the world, up to the ARC finishing line and end-of-rally dinner in St Lucia. The itinerary was up to each skipper, but in practice chummy boats stuck together and congeniality complemented wonderful geography.
We sailed on the 28th March up to Sandy Island in Carriacou for a night anchorage and beach BBQ; to Petit St Vincent for lunch, followed by overnight anchorage in Tyrell Bay; a repeat of Sandy Is and PSV; Clifton in Union Island; Chatham Bay, the other side of the island from Clifton; Tobago Cays, rainy and blustery but still beautiful; Saltwhistle Bay, always a favourite; Mustique, for two nights of gracious living and inhalation of the air of the super-rich; Bequia; remote Cumberland Bay in St Vincent, another favourite, Med moor with a stern line to a palm tree; Marigot Bay, from where a group of us climbed the Gros Piton; and, finally, Rodney Bay.
Our last day was the “Parade of Sail”, the 17 finishers sailing in line ahead from Marigot to the improvised finishing line in Rodney. Lots of photos were taken by the committee boat, where are they?
We had the dinner and prize-giving at Rodney Bay on the evening of Saturday the 13th, and then the great adventure was over. By Monday the boats were dispersing, and nostalgic emotion was order of the day.
As ever on a hard-worked boat, Murphy refused to stay behind. The steering wheel chain broke at Sandy Island, just a few miles from where it last happened three and a half years ago. The autopilot  stood firm, and the emergency tiller worked well. As so often, Bones of Emily Morgan was a tower of strength and repaired the chain for me in Tyrell Bay. An electrical connection on the windlass, renewed a few days earlier in Grenada, broke as we were anchoring in Bequia and required repair, Bones again. The outboard engine continued its record of poor reliability. On the plus side, the generator, which was tweaked by an impressive young engineer in Grenada, worked impeccably. I still think of myself as a seaman and navigator, engineering problems ruin my sleep. As Simon Ashworth said in the Indian Ocean, salt water and electronics are poor companions. It worried me that Lydia was 13 years old when I bought her. But the reality is that she is a thoroughly seaworthy and solid boat, and her engineering problems have been no worse, and often less worse, than those of younger boats on the rally. The key is simplicity, accessibility, replaceability, and continuous maintenance. The bogey is a long lay-up, and having to start the whole litany again on re-commissioning.
Sharon and Karen left the ship in Rodney Bay, Sharon to continue home across the Atlantic in Emily Morgan, Karen to fly home to the UK whence to prepare new adventures. My thanks to them both for being a lovely crew and terrific shipmates. Girl Power rocks.
Back to the old single-handed game again. I sailed after lunch on the 15th and anchored at the mouth of Marigot Bay. Then a lovely beam reach, the first day down past St Vincent and on to Bequia, the second down past Union Island and Carriacou to the anchorage off St George’s, and finally, on the morning of the 18th, into Port Louis marina.
I’m now cleaning and emptying the boat. We’re due to be hauled out of the water at Grenada Marine early next week, and then home to the comfort of landlubbery for the foreseeable future.
More sailing next year?