Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Windward’s

July 11th 2013  

Position 12° 27.301’ N
              61° 29.283’ W
Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou, Granada

View Larger Map

The 'Super' Moon as seen in St. Kiits
The purpose of my blog, number one is for me to document the adventure Lavinia and I have embarked upon and secondly to keep in touch with family and friends who want, from time to time, to know where we are! The other by-product of these ramblings is to promote cruising and the life style both under power and sail.

This life is far from boring, frustrating at times, yes! When things are going well and the ‘dream’ is going according to plan this life is as close to idyllic as it gets, or at least we think so. We can do what we want, go where we want, when we want and there are few if any rules. The feeling of freedom is hard to get used to at first; I guess we are all programmed to follow a course in life and the rules that come with that course. Out here you make your own life, own rules (few) and generally beat to one’s own drum. However, when things are not going according to plan then events can be scary, frustrating and annoying. For example readers of my blog will know we are attempting to spend the hurricane season in Trinidad and our insurance company considers that time to be July 1
st. – October 31st. If we are not below 10° 50’N during these dates the plan changes! We have no insurance coverage for windstorm damage or, if we want, we can buy that coverage, it is US$420 extra per month! This, proportionally, is a huge extra premium in relation to the total annual sum we pay. The reason I have brought this up is that we have, again readers will know, been having a problem with our engine fuel supply with air getting into it somewhere and causing the engine to just stop! This is where the idyllic becomes horrific and the plan goes awry. At the moment we have been putting up with this fuel problem now for four months on and off and have finally made a decision to stop and have the whole fuel system investigated and hopefully fixed. We are here in St. Kitts and Nevis where we have employed an engineer of considerable qualification to work on our fuel supply dilemma. The problem we now have is getting him and his staff on board we have been in St. Kitts now for nearly two weeks and have yet to see a wrench! When this kind of thing happens and we have had our fair share, what with the generator failing twice, for different reasons and the inverter/charger giving up on us too, life moves into the ‘out of our control’ mode, not good!

Vybrashun working on the engine
One thing here in the Caribbean, a cultural difference, is the lack of importance associated with time and promptness. Island time, Mon! We love it and go along with it, we participate when things are going well but when they are not one is faced with the choice of putting up with the mentality or causing a fuss which in turn causes a dislike between oneself and the individual which simply perpetuates the problem. Soooo, here we are frustrated, waiting for the help to come, and in the meantime we are running up a huge marina bill spending more money going out to the town and missing our reservation in Trinidad for hurricane season, insurance problems, all not good...life suddenly is no longer idyllic and you start thinking that this cruising life is the pits, being shipwrecked on a beautiful tropical island is no longer romantic or fun. Wait a minute...is life ashore free from frustrations? No of course it is not, everyone has them every day, a flat tire, a flat battery, a traffic jam on the way to work, day to day living anywhere is fraught with obstacles. This is where a reality check and choices come in; which set of problems would you choose? This is the thought process we have to go through as cruisers to keep ourselves in the game. This week HT and I sat down and reminded ourselves that this problem will be behind us soon and our lives will return to the ‘going according to plan’ status. We remind ourselves of the alternatives and any of the land alternatives don’t appeal. They will, of course, eventually but for now, we will continue to cruise until we physically cannot do it anymore. Then, and only then, perhaps the log cabin in the woods, a comfy chair and roaring fire...what, am I really saying this, yes it will be a reality one day. Take note folks, do the adventuring and fun things while you still can, tempus fugit!

Our mechanic Brashun, short for Vybrashun, his street name he tells us, showed up. He carried out many test on the engine to determine that the motor itself was not to blame for its own stopping. Stonewall Jackson passed with flying colours...it had to be the Racor filters or back from there to the tanks. First he discovered that the Racor filters were not full of fuel and that there was a small vacuum showing on the gauge. The filters themselves were new, however, and therefore were not causing the vacuum. Perhaps the fuel tank vents were blocked, all four of them, I don’t think so! Could it be a hose that had a restriction, much speculation was abounding. Brashun bypassed the electric priming pump we had in the line in favour of a fuel bulb the same as one would have on an outboard motor.

Approaching the Grenadines
On Monday July 1
st we set off for Port Elizabeth, Bequia in the Grenadines, we had a great weather window and wanted to make ground. For two complete days we cruised without a care or any problem then right at the 48 hour mark Stonewall decided to take a break! Why then, what changed, all the thoughts were raised again just as each time before when we think that the problem has been identified and fixed. The frustration too is

Gingerbread in Bequia
that each technician wants to go over everything again from scratch whereas if the same technician were able to pick up again I feel we could move on to a different area narrowing down the causes and eliminating them one by one. Here in Bequia, we love this place and have been here before nineteen years ago when we were married on Young Island; a small island just off St. Vincent. During our stay at Young Island we also went on a sail-away honeymoon which took us to Bequia and Mustique two other islands in the Grenadines. We visited our favourite bar The Green Boley and you can see the
Our anchorage in Bequia
picture 19 years ago and the one this time!
The same gentleman, Lyston who started the bar and restaurant, was there as usual and greeted us. We joined in a conversation with some of the locals Bob, Jeremy and Fritz and were invited to join them on their table and ended up having an extended visit and more libations than planned...the dinghy ride home in the dark was interesting to say the least! As we sailed out of Admiralty Bay we cruised past Moonhole, check out the link, (http://www.moonholecompany.com/history.aspx) and a shipwreck!


July 5th.We set sail for the small island of Mayreau and Salt Whistle Bay. Our friends and fellow cruisers Les, on s/v ‘Golightly’ and Sherman and Judy, on s/v ‘Fairwinds’ were already there with plans to go to the Tobago Cays for a few days, supposedly one of, if not, the prettiest spots in the Windward’s. The dreaded ‘air in the fuel’ plagued us all the way to Salt Whistle so unfortunately after arriving and anchoring in this spectacular little bay we had to make a decision, sadly, to continue south to Tyrrel Bay in Carriacou rather than try and navigate the shallow reef waters of the Tobago Cays with an engine that can stop without warning!

We spent one day in Mayreau, had a ‘sundowners’ party on the beach with about a dozen other cruisers and later ended up back on ‘Partners’ with friend Les for a great supper and, as if we needed it, a good enough bottle of wine! We had a great day and in the morning watched as the ‘fleet’ 

Moonhole, houses built into the cliffs.

‘Golightly’ and ‘Fairwinds’ plus half a dozen other boats, sailed off to the Cays. The next morning we upped anchor and made way towards Clifton, Union Island where we would stay for a day or two until Monday 8 th in order to check-out from The Grenadines. Monday because Customs and Immigration charge exorbitant overtime fees to check-out at the weekend and Holidays. We anchored in front of the reef which protects the harbour and enjoyed a view of ‘Happy Island’ and Palm Island off in the distance. I just cannot describe these vistas and even the photographs don’t really do justice to what we see with our eyes.
While technically there isn’t much of a beach on Happy Island, you would be hard pressed to find an island with no other purpose than to serve as an oasis for rum lovers with a proclivity to limin’. The brain-child of one man: Janti. About 10 years ago he was volunteering to remove conch (or lambi as they are known in the Grenadines) shells from the beaches of Union Island. Do you know how much conch the people of the Grenadines eat? A lot! So he began piling the empty shells up on the reef in Clifton Harbour and before he knew it visitors began using the conch pile as a make-shift bar. He was obviously on to something! A few years and an awful lot of conch shells, some cement and a tremendous amount of work done almost solely by him and you’ve got a Grenadines institution. 

Mayreau, Salt Whistle Bay

Mayreau, Salt Whistle Bay
Mayreau, Salt Whistle Bay
Monday came and I took the dinghy into Clifton and immediately found out that it was a National Holiday in St. Vincent and all of the Grenadines! It is Carnival in St. Vincent and that is the reason! Sooo, the Customs and Immigration office was closed in town but still open at the airport, about a mile walk. Not pleased I made the trek to the airport and checked-out including paying the additional EC$120 overtime charge which we stayed until Monday to avoid! Oh well...

Clifton, Union Island
Happy Island
Our next stop was Hillsborough, the capital of Carriacou which is the other main island belonging to Granada and the only check-in port for the island. We did not intend stopping in Hillsborough long as our final destination was to be Tyrrel Bay, a cruiser friendly bay on the west side of the island. Check-in went smoothly and we were granted a three month visa. We wanted this just in case we decided to stay in Grenada longer before going to Trinidad; we were just covering our bases as it is easier to apply at the beginning rather than going back later to request an extension. The Customs office only charged us for a month stay EC$75 so if we did leave early we would not be out of pocket for the whole three months visa we had been given by Immigration; if we stay longer than a month, however, we will have to pay an additional customs fee but will not have to go through the immigration procedures again. We walked back up the town pier to where we had tied our dinghy and the young man who was there ’watching’ the dinghies, I noticed, also carved wooden plaques depicting various scenes. The wood he uses is a red colour and it gets everywhere including in all the moored dinghies! I didn’t think much of it at first and we just continued back to ‘Partners’. We decided to tow the dinghy round the two miles or so to Tyrrel Bay to save the chore of loading it up on the boat deck and then lowering it again after anchoring in Tyrrel Bay. By the time we had made this short trip and a small amount of water had splashed around in the dinghy the white fibreglass floor was red! The wood was toxic! Not really, but it did take me half an hour to bleach out the stains! Other boaters beware...We weren’t anchored for long when the well known ‘Simon’ came by in his skiff to say hello. Simon is a fixture here in Tyrrel Bay, he is written about in most of the cruising guides and can find most anything you will need and provide most any service you will need. Island tours to garbage collection and supplying fresh tasty mangrove oysters are all within his capabilities. We bought a dozen oysters and ate them relaxing on our foredeck seat washed down with a Caribe beer...another idyllic day. Well, actually not quite, we did have the engine fail four times in the short journey round from Hillsborough! While I was drinking my beer and enjoying the oysters I couldn’t help but keep looking towards the neat colourful boatyard just ¼ mile away. I agreed with Lavinia that we would enquire about getting a day tank installed while we were here. Both of us have become increasingly more nervous about making the long open passage from Grenada to Trinidad with our unreliable engine!

Tyrrel Bay, we found out the next day is apparently home to one of the best fabricators in these parts so the decision to install the day tank become more possible. We went to the boatyard and talked to Edwin the yard manager who directed us to Gus, one of the previous owners of the marina. Gus knew everyone and himself was an accomplished diesel technician. I arranged with Gus to come to ‘Partners’ the next day, Wednesday, to do some tests on ‘Stonewall Jackson’ and make sure we had the room to install a day tank!

Our local Supermaket!

That evening after a day where we felt we were on the right track to solving our engine/fuel problems we opened a bottle of wine and ate al fresco on a beautiful Caribbean evening with the only noise the water lapping against the hull. Lavinia heard something and enquired “what is that noise?” I replied and said “probably the wind in the rigging”. No, wrong, it was a neighbouring catamaran that had dragged its anchor and drifted straight back into us! The stern davits had caught in our anchor chain and snubbers and we were ‘joined’. We quickly tried to get fenders between the two boats to save the chaffing which was the noise we heard while eating dinner. Damage was done to our bow and after calling on the VHF and blowing our horn two very helpful men Paul and Brum came to assist us. I released out the two snubbers and used the boat hook to untangle the davits of the catamaran from our anchor gear. Finally we were separated again. The catamaran kept drifting off and the two men managed to get it in tow and take it towards the shore where they could re-anchor it in shallow water. The owner, Bill, we later found out, was not on board and it was lucky in a way that we stopped his boat from drifting out into the Caribbean and on towards Central America, a real threat as with the strong trade winds it would not be the first time a boat that had broken loose from its anchor had travelled the whole width of the Caribbean all by itself! Bill, the owner, was very apologetic about the whole incident and offered to make good the damage. Gus sent Nolan to inspect the damage and for a very reasonable fee will be making us as good as new today. Bill and I agreed that accidents happen and that his embarrassment is almost as bad as our damage, anyway we have agreed to put it all behind us and have a beer together in Prickly Bay, Granada as both of us will be headed that way.

The Moon setting in our anchorage in Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou
Gus informed us that Dominic, the fabricator, was away in Trinidad working (a good testimonial as there are lots of skilled workers in Trinidad). Apparently Dominic is very good! Gus said he should be back by next week and the fabrication of the tank should not take longer than three days, so we are hopeful that in 10 days we will be finished. A brand new tank to supply crystal clear filtered diesel to ‘Stonewall Jackson’, we can’t wait. Once we are operational again we plan on refuelling at Petite Martinique and then will cruise down to St. Georges, Granada for a short stop and to see and walk the town then round to Prickly Bay for some fun and island exploring.

The travels continue...