Thursday, February 15, 2018

Grenadines to St Lucia

It’s been a while since I have posted but not a lot has happened.  It has been windy, very windy.  We are having what Chris Parker, our weather expert, considers an unusual weather pattern.  Basically a number of things are happening causing the prevailing winds to be from the northeast and blowing consistently in the 20’s and into the 30’s at times.  This means we just find a good harbor and hunker down.

We left Bequai hoping for a less crowded harbor at the island of Mayreau.  We ended up staying there four days while the wind blew.  We did make it ashore a couple of times but it is a small island and doesn’t take too long to see it all.  The winds were supposed to drop for a couple of days and we were rolling side to side almost constantly so we moved to the other side of the island and anchored in what is called the Tobago Cays which is part of a National Park.  It is a group of small islands with a reef protecting them from the ocean swell.  We were not the only ones that thought this was a good idea; there were a lot of boats there.  We chose our spot to anchor and settled in.  There were a number of boat coming and going on a regular basis, everything from small boats in the 30 foot range up to several mega yachts.  We were down by a section favored by wind surfers so we had several groups on day charters that would come out, anchor by us, spend the day windsurfing then go back to wherever they were staying and another group arriving the next morning.  My hip was still not feeling well so I stayed on the boat watching the neighbors and reading while Cori took the kayak to shore to see what there was to see: iguanas and a hike up to an overlook for a great view.  We had paid for two nights so we tried to take advantage of a weather window to move further north.  We stopped at Union Island to check out with Immigration and Customs then motored back to the anchorage in Mayreau to get in the lee of the island and raise the sails.  We choose to use just the main with two reefs and a full headsail.  This reduced the amount of sail we had up to compensate for the winds in the low 20’s.  We set a course pointing as close to the direction of the wind we could and set sail for an overnight trip.  The super-moon had been full two nights before so we had a very bright moon to keep us company, along with several cruise ships and various other maritime traffic.  What I did not notice was that the winds were shifting slightly and the current was pushing us more to the northwest.  In the morning were off of the island of St Lucia but were about 30 miles offshore.  We tacked and as we started to get into the lee of the island our speed was dropping.  We choose not to enter a harbor at night so it was time to fire up the motor and motor in.  The engine ran perfectly, we may have solved the problem.  After about five hours of motoring we entered Marigot Bay.  There is an anchorage area as you come in and then an opening that lets you into the inner harbor.  The inner harbor is filled with mooring balls, a marina and a resort along with a number of small bars and restaurants.  We choose to take a mooring from the marina- $30 US per day – and settled in for our first night without rocking and rolling.  It was bliss.  We booked for two nights but since the winds were still howling out in the anchorage we decided to stay several more.  The fact that we also had limited privileges at the resort didn’t hurt either.  We spent several days hanging out at their pool.  Our next problem was that along with the winds we got several short rain squalls each day.  This limited how much the solar panels were able to put out and the protection from the wind canceled out our new wind generator.  The boats were so close together that I didn’t want to ruin someone’s vacation by running my generator in the cockpit so our batteries were very low.  It was time to move out to the anchorage.  We have friends, Phillip and Theresa on Sea-Ya that were out in the anchorage so we moved out and anchored by them.  We had met them when we were in the Bahamas.  Now we were able to run the generator and make water without bothering any one.  On a side note we were able to watch the Superbowl at a close-by bar/restaurant called Doolittle’s.  It is named after the movie Dr. Doolittle that was filmed at the beach next to it.

We have been hanging out here in the anchorage while the wind blows.  We had several days of rain, more than just squalls and Cori was able to collect a half a tank of water with her rain-catcher.  The wind still has not let up.  One of the boats decided to make a run up to Rodney Bay which is about seven miles up the coast where the majority of the cruisers were waiting out the weather and after about four miles he turned back saying it was the worst conditions he had ever been in.  So we wait.  It isn’t as bad as it sounds, we are still able to go ashore, usually in the morning before the wind kicks up and we are getting to know most of the boat boys that come around selling fruit or whatever they have to sell.

The winds are forecast to drop in the next couple of days but then fire up again for another week.  We need to make the decision whether to stay put or move up to Rodney Bay and join the others.  There are advantages either way.


That’s it for now, as I said, not much has happened.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Bequai and local medical experience

We have made it to Bequia, part of St Vincent and the Grenadines. we left Granada on Monday, the 15th with plans for an early start. first we wanted to top off our fuel so we called the marina just at opening. There was already one boat at the dock and another waiting. We told them we would hang out and to call us when our turn came up. An hour and a half later we were called. No idea what that boat had been doing. Once at the dock we topped off the diesel and refilled the gasoline jerry jugs and were ready to go. It was now 11:00 am. So much for an early start. We motored out of the bay, turned downwind and put out the headsail, we were a sailboat again. We sailed down to the point and turned north. At this point we needed more sail so we put up the mizzen. This gave us more speed but as we started to get into the wind shadow of island we had to hoist the main. The winds were right off of the nose so we were beating into the waves and pinching into the wind. Not the most comfortable point of sail. After about ten miles we started to lose the wind and fired up the motor. After a couple of hours the engine started to act up. It was like it was being starved for fuel. The wind had come up some so we shut down the engine and continued to sail but not on a direct line. It was becoming obvious we were not going to make our destination, Carriacou, before sunset so we opted for plan B and motored slowly to Ronda Island and a small bay there. By motoring slowly we were able to keep the motor running. There was one other boat in the bay and after two tries we were securely anchored for the night. It turned out to be a very rolly night. In the morning I changed the fuel filter thinking that may be the problem. Off we went under sail again for Carriacou. We arrived in time for lunch then went ashore to check out of the country. Rather then stay the night in Tyrell Bay we chose to move around the other side of the island to get an early start. We picked up a mooring ball at the park at Sandy Island and went ashore to enjoy the beach. By morning no one had come by to collect the mooring fee so we raised the sails and sailed off at 7:00 am. We were again not able to run a direct line to the harbor but continued on as best we could. At one point when the winds got over 20 knots we had to stop and reef in the main to get better control of the boat. When we reached the halfway point we opted to start motoring the direct line, against the winds again. After several hours the engine started to act up again, it was evidently not a filter issue. I tied making a fuel diversion system to feed from a jerry can instead of the main tank but was missing one important part. We continued to sail making several tacks to get us close to the harbor then took our chances of motoring slowly until we chose a spot to anchor. Once again we got the anchor down before sunset.

In the morning we went ashore and met with Customs and Immigration and we are now officially in the county. We took the opportunity to walk around and see the immediate sites and pick up a few vegetables at the vegetable market. After a quick lunch we made a visit to a marine supply store to check if they had the parts I think I needs or the fuel system. Then it was back to the boat to rest.

All of these days just sitting while we traveled from island to island had pinched a nerve in my hip and I was having a hard time walking or sitting comfortably. By Friday morning it was much worse and I decided to see someone for help.

Thus begins my first experience with out to the US medical care. We chose a doctor that was advertised in the tourist guide and made our way to his office. His office was in a side room of his art gallery. He is a very good artist. The office consisted of an examination table a desk two chairs a stool and a small cabinet and the walls were covered in artwork. He is French but spoke passable English and I speak no French. I explained my problem several times, he checked my pulse and poked at the site of the pain. That was the complete examination. Then he pulls out several drawers and starts sorting through a variety of drugs. He finally settles on a pain pill that he poured into a zip lock bag and a muscle relaxant that he put into another zip lock. He apologized for not having enough of the other drug but gave me a prescription to have filled. This was the first time either of us wrote something down and he spelled my name wrong. He added the dosage instructions and we were done. No paperwork had been filled out by either of us. I asked how much I owed him for the visit and drugs and he replied “$100 EC or about $37 US. Off I limped to the pharmacy and after getting a weeks worth of Prednisolone and paying $8.40 EC or $3.10 US we were back to the boat. His advice was to go to bed and stay off the leg for several days. He also mentioned losing some weight. Quite a difference from seeing a doctor in the US.

I used the days laying around to run the generator and make water and read. The main reason we came up to Bequai was to attend the music festival. I rested all day then in the evenings went to the different performances. It was a very good time with a wide variety of music from many of the islands and from the States. The performances started at either 8:00 or 9:00 in the evenings so it made for some late nights for us. Fortunately I had been taking a lot of naps. On the second night we ran into our friends Ricardo and Signe who we had met last year in the BVI. They are back this year from France with their new boat, and what a boat it is.

We were able to watch the Vikings game at one of the bars but it didn’t turn out the way we had hoped. Cori has been out exploring some of the island while I have been layed up, she has an idea of what to do and where to go when I am up and about which should be any day now.


We plan on staying in the area for about a month visiting the various islands before checking out and moving north again.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Granada for the Holidays

The Holidays are over and we are still in Granada for a few more days, at least that is the plan.  As we sailors say “plans are written in the sand at low tide”, meaning they are subject to change at any time.

We have been taking part in a variety of activities while we are here.  We have participated in several more hashes.  Cori convinced the hash officers that she had been wrongfully accused of misdeeds and they agreed and subjected the accuser to the same punishment Cori had been subjected to.  She was not a happy hasher at that point.  The other hash was in the rain.  We thought it would stop raining in the afternoon and we would only have to deal with mud but were wrong.  It was a long hike in the jungle in the pouring rain, not the most fun.  We have done some touristy stuff such as checking out two of the forts built back in the 1700’s.  Unfortunately they are not in very good condition and not much is being done to preserve them.  We made a trip to the Seven Sisters Waterfalls for a day in the mountains and swimming in the pools.  We only made it to two of the falls but it felt great to be in fresh water instead of salt water.  We have attended several of the music nights at both the Brewery and at Nimrods Rum Shop as well as a trip to the container park.  The container park is close to the University and is sort of a food truck event, except instead of food trucks they have set up shipping containers to work out of with an open bar and seating area in the middle.  It is very popular with the students since the food and drinks are not expensive and very good.  Last weekend we attended the “Pure Granada Music Festival.  It is a completion among six singers for who will perform on the main stage at the big festival in April. There was some pretty good music performed.  This weekend there was a dinghy concert in the next bay.  They set up a barge and floating dock tied to an anchored tug and ferried people out for the show.  Everyone with a dinghy was then tied up to the barge/dock and then others tied off of them as more arrived.  There ended up with better than fifty dinghies tied together and you just climbed from one to the other to move around or to get to the bar on the barge.  There were two singers from the previous weekend and they put on a very good show.  At the end the dinghies all untied from each other and headed back to their boats.  We also went to tour the Spice Island Garden where it was interesting to hear of the medicinal uses for the various spices and plants.  We then visited a botanical garden with over 250 identified plants from around the world.

Those were some of the touristy things we did.

We spent the first week on a mooring ball in Prickly Bay and then moved further along the coast to Clarks Court Bay.  This bay is very popular with the cruisers for its easy access to Hog Island beach, a very popular hangout.  It also has the advantage of being closer for our friend Sperry to pick us up at various times.  Sperry is the local fisherman that we met last year and his wife is the teacher Cori brought supplies over for.  He dropped his kids off to ride with us on the trip around to the new bay, their first sailboat ride except that we motored all of the way.  We were invited to their house for Christmas Day and had a great time and got to eat a number of local foods that were new to us.  We also have been taking their daughter with us on several hashes and the trip to the waterfalls.

Several days leading up to New Year’s we had a rainy spell, but is has passed and everyone is out and about again.  With overcast days and intermittent winds I have had to run the generator more than I had planned.  This gives me the opportunity to make water since the water maker is an energy hog.  It is warm during the night and we try to keep things open for a breeze but we have a hatch just above the bed and it wakes me whenever I feel rain coming in.  Then we have to get up to close the open hatches.    After it passes we will open them up again until it rains again.  One night we were up at least four times to close things and then up again to open when it gets too hot to sleep.  These are just some of the trials and tribulations of cruising in the tropics.

New Year’s came and it was a quiet evening on the boat.  We had invited Sperry and his family to come out to the boat to watch the midnight fireworks but only he and his son were able to come out.  There was supposed to be fireworks off of the private island near us but they evidently got moved to the next bay where he now has a marina.  It also started to rain just at midnight but we did get to see some of the higher displays over the hills.  Around 1:00 am it let up and we got another display that had been postponed due to the rain.  The weather being what is was we invited them to spend the night.  The next day his son got another experience learning to kayak in Cori’s kayak.  I think spending the night on a “yacht” was high on his story list when he got back to school.


We have been here just over a month which is a problem since Customs only gave us a 30 day permit and we were on day 31 when I thought of it.  Today we made the move back to Prickly Bay and picked up a mooring ball and went in to Customs to get an extension and pay an overtime fee for doing this on a Sunday instead of a weekday.