Thursday, September 29, 2016

The ups and downs of life as a cruiser!

Crews Inn Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad & Tobago

September 25th 2016

Position 10° 40.754’ N
                61° 37.940’ W

After a calm passage from BVI to St. Martin we returned to Nettle Bay with a plan to stay approximately a week to top up our provisions before continuing southeast to Antigua. The plan didn't come to pass! On our first night one of the prisms in our foredeck, the one over the bottom of our bed, started to leak! For the next few nights we had to sleep with a bucket at the end of the bed! After making several enquiries it appeared we were definitely in the right place to get this work done.

We engaged Palapa Shipwrights to undertake the work. We decided to have the whole foredeck refurbished and the four prisms reseated plus the bench and storage in front of the pilot house completely rebuilt. Three weeks later and nearly US$7,000.00 we were 'dry' and were the owners of a very pretty foredeck...the job was executed to perfection and we shout out a loud "thank you" to Chris and his crew for a job well done.

Because of our delay we have decided to 'miss' Antigua and passage non-stop to Sainte-Anne, Martinique. This trip is a two nights at sea duration about 240 NM's. We definitely needed our stabilizers for the first stretch but once we had altered course from the island of Nevis directly towards the SW corner of Martinique we received a little lee from Monserrat, then Guadeloupe and more lee as we passed close to Martinique. Before too long we were into our passage making routine and although our arrival was welcome we did arrive well rested. Our first excursion from our great anchorage at Sainte-Anne was to Leader Price to buy the 'French' items we crave, cheeses, wine and wonderful fresh vegetables. On our way back the last item was the requisite baguette!

Early on our second day I started my routine maintenance in the engine room and as usual announced to Lavinia that the engine room hatch was open! Within two minutes she rose from the salon and walked to the galley and fell into the 'hole'. For some unknown reason she was oblivious to the hatch being open and the announcement I had made. She knew immediately that there was a problem and we put a call out on the VHF for help. I managed to lift her out, inflicting much pain in the process. James and Pam from S/V Love-Zur answered my call...they happened to have a rental car and offered to transport Lavinia to the hospital. That sounded easy but first I had to lower Lavinia into the dinghy all the time trying not to hurt her. It was becoming apparent that her ribs were broken and that possibly there was a shoulder injury. At the other end the dinghy dock in Sainte-Anne is beautiful but tall so here again a difficult task presented itself, how to get her from dinghy to dock. Eventually we were on the dock and walking toward the church square where we were meeting James and Pam, there they were! The time now 07:30. Soon we arrived at the hospital in Le Marin, she was seen immediately and was ushered off. I asked to accompany her but that request was turned down, only the patient was allowed into the hospital and we all had to stay in the waiting room. After a short time Lavinia reappeared holding x-rays and with the news that she had broken 5 ribs on the right side of her back! The doctor wanted her to go to Fort de France to have more x-rays and have a specialist confirm that there was no puncturing of the lung. An ambulance took her on the hour plus drive, again I was not allowed to accompany her. We did not follow but agreed to pick her up as the ambulance would not bring her back? It was nearly 22:00 before Lavinia called and we set off. James and Pam had given up their whole day to help us and we will be eternally grateful to them both. The 'up' side of the whole event was that the total bill amounted to less than 80 Euros, unbelievable! Do we pay too much in the USA?

The next two weeks were spent in Sainte-Anne allowing Lavinia time to establish her healing process which was forecast to be 6-8 weeks. Once she confirmed that she thought she could bare the movement of travelling at sea we planned our next leg which would take us to Bequia, situated just south of the island of St. Vincent. Fortunately we had a calm journey and Lavinia coped very well. We stayed in Bequia for two more weeks, still boat bound as Lavinia did not want to negotiate the swim platform and get into the dinghy. Not an exciting time but essential as part of the healing process. Bequia to Carriacou would be our next hop and we were able to find a great weather window to allow our cruising companions to sail as we motored. Arrival in Carriacou was very welcome as we stay here during late June, July and August the beginning of Hurricane season. Lavinia became more and more comfortable and began to swim every day. Carriacou is our southern 'Home', we love it although it is becoming more and more popular and much more crowded. Nevertheless we still like the island and it's people. We anchor in Tyrrel Bay although we do venture to other anchorages around the island. Carriacou is also a good place to take excursions to the Grenadines to the north and we usually visit Union Island, Mayreau and the Tobago Cays while there but this year we didn't mainly due to Lavinia's injury. We were both able to enjoy the Regatta which is always a great time in Carriacou. Every year as many of last years gang congregate for the requisite annual photograph. This year we were short one member from last year, sadly Alan Reynolds unexpectedly passed on. A big decision had to be made, should a female be invited to the group...we had a unanimous YES so our good friend Silke was invited to have her picture taken!

Taken in Carriacou, a Gurnard.
Carriacou Regatta 2016, left to right:
Me, Silke, Les and Gus

We have a reservation in Crews Inn Marina, Chaguaramas, Trindad for arrival September 1st so it is time to plan the last transit of the season. Golightly, who we caught up with, would be travelling with us to Trinidad for his first visit there. We split the journey into two legs the first to Clarkes Court Bay, Grenada and then the long passage on to Chaguaramas. Due to a great weather window we left early on the 25th August. We cleared out at Le Phare Blue Marina and off we went...after a 19 hour run and a 'smooth' passage we arrived in Trinidad. This year was the first time that we did not take the direct route. We doglegged east to about 6NM east of Poinsettia Rig and aimed for a position just off the coast of Trinidad about 16NM from the Boca's. The recent boldness of the pirates, reportedly Venezuelan, made us consider this change from our normal route. We arrived at dawn, having made our passage in darkness with all our navigation lights off and our AIS transmit off. At 06:00 daylight is always exciting to see the north range and pass through the Boca's, they are so dramatic!