The Caribbean travels
Back to the Caribbean.
An early morning departure to catch the 08:20 Virgin Atlantic flight to St. Lucia. Airport and getting through security very busy. Can't think why people want to fly off on holiday when the last six nations rugby matches are being played today. Maybe they couldn't bear the thought of England not winning. The flight captain was obviously Welsh as he took delight in announcing that Wales had beaten Ireland. I had to wait until I managed to visit the Cafe Ole bar for their wifi connection to see that England had only drawn against the Scots, after leading 31 - 0!!! Our taxi ride from the airport was good, the driver very informative about the island, and even stopped at the supermarket so we could buy some groceries. Weather very warm but windy.
Up early. Not intentional but when the sun begins to shine you have to get into the breeze just to cool down. Plenty of work to do if the boat is to go into the water on Tuesday. First task, hoover up all the flakes that have come from the perished tarpaulin. Until the boat gets a good wash down they will keep appearing! A trip down to the local supermarket to buy provisions, but will need to go to Castries for a better selection. Work started to get the boat sea worthy. Safety equipment back on the stern rails, followed by the outboard. Storm cover brought up on deck and set up, also the bimini as a shade from the sun. Fenders in place ready for Tuesday, passerelle tied along the side deck, halyards beginning to be run through the deck blocks and clutches. Sails placed on the top deck but too windy to bend on, and serial numbers of all the equipment taken, ready to email back to the yacht insurance company.
Must email my brother Frank, and wish him Happy Birthday. Inboard engine to be serviced today. Not sure what time Egbert is to arrive? Could be sitting here for quite some time. Still, there's always more work to be done. Saw Egbert drive past so took a walk up to check. He said 10:00 but one of his workers arrived at 09:40. A good start to the day. Managed to get the headsail on but still too windy for the main sail. A trip to the shops to buy more provisions and chandlery items. Need to get a new off shore flare pack as the one on board is now out of date. Chain has been painted so Helen can determine how much has been laid when we anchor. In the evening it was back to Cafe Ole to meet up with David Mather. First met him in Gibraltar as he was doing the Arc, but to St. Vincent. Caught up again in Gran Canaria and now here in St. Lucia.
Up very early to fill up the aft water tank. My hose was too short but I managed to find one that stretched from the tap to my boat. Another trip to the chandlers to see if they had an anchor windlass fuse. No, so I hope the only one on board doesn't blow! Off to the office to pay the marina fees. Cheaper than I was expecting so I hope they didn't make an error. Next, paid the engine service. Bill came to $1010EC. I paid in US$ and as I had no small notes I saved about 10$EC. Boat was due to go in the water at 10:00. The yard began to prepare for the move but were held up by at least an hour by another boat that had been lifted out. Eventually we were put in the water but when I checked the engine running the impeller was leaking. I checked that the plate was tightened up properly, it was, and then replaced the gasket. Still leaking. Had to call Egbert out to sort out the issue. It appeared to be a leaking seal, so an hour later and 500$EC lighter, we were on our way. A distance of about a mile, into the bay close to Pigeon Island, and we dropped the anchor. This would be a lovely, quiet place to remain for a couple of days. Hammock out and strapped to the solar panel gantry, it was a very comfortable place to rest.
A pleasant night at anchor, but my sleep is being disturbed by a blessed sore throat. It arrived on Sunday morning and I can't seem to shift it. I'm just hoping that it goes by tomorrow as I'm running short of strepsils! Another solar panel has been wired in so I'm expecting, with the existing two and the wind generator it should provide sufficient power to keep the batteries topped up. An extremely lazy day as little else to report.
Signs that the sore throat is beginning to ease up. A more restful nights sleep and the strepsils are going to last! The main sail is going to be bent on today. Wind appears to be lighter at the moment so time to tackle it. Battens inserted, one of the pockets will need looking at before I set sail across the Atlantic. The two reefing points at the front of the sail have been attached but it is still too windy to sort it out at the rear. Might have to do this when underway? That time has come when we had to move on, if only to empty the holding tank! That task completed, and to check that the impeller seal was still holding good, we returned to the south side of Rodney Bay, Reduit Bay. A swim to cool down and to see how good the new snorkel mask is, followed by a further swim to check the mask adjustments, as it was leaking, and yet another swim as I had kicked off my flipper into the sea and had to recover it!!! A couple of turtles came swimming past the boat, or it might have been one just checking me out. The kayak has been inflated so we now have some means of getting to the shore if needed. (Haven't used the outboard engine since April 2017 in Milos with Cedric, inspecting the Blue caves, so not sure if it works. I've also got no petrol so it definitely doesn't!) Other than that, another charming day.
So, the wind is still blustery and we need to take the kayak ashore to get provisions. Too far offshore as we currently lay so it's up anchor and motor closer in. We are now about 400m from the shore so that should be manageable. The return part will be easier as it’s with the wind and current. Everything ready, we set off to go shopping. First call, the supermarket. Some items not in stock, mainly fresh milk for Helen, but we believe we have sufficient on board for at least the next few days. I then take a hike to the nearest fuel station to fill up the Jerry can with petrol for the outboard. En route back to the boat I call in at the 'Flow' telecoms shop to purchase a local SIM card. Now I've got access to the outside world whilst at anchor! A stop off at an Internet bar for a cold one and to go through all the emails and missed news for the last four days. That task completed, it's back to the boat.
As I was unable to get the data part of the SIM card working yesterday, it's another trip back to the Mall. The same lady that sold me the card yesterday sorted out the phone and now all is good. Another visit to the supermarket to buy milk but still none in the store or the other Massy store further along the main road. Back on the boat the day of reckoning. Will the outboard start? Rather than inflating the tender and then putting the outboard engine on the transom I jury rig up a system using my bathing platform, the boarding steps and a few blocks of wood tied together. It seemed to hold the engine in situ, so now for the test. Fuel put in the tank, a few pulls on the starter and...... No it didn't start. Tool kit out, spark plug removed, cleaned and replaced, still no go. It feels like the fuel is not getting through to the cylinder, whether the jets in the carburettor are block or the fuel line itself, I don't know, but it's too risky to start taking things apart over 8m of water! Nothing more to do that put it all together again and get it booked in for a service / repair. A call to Lifeboat and Inflatables, just inside the entrance channel to Rodney Bay Marina, and it's booked in for Monday. Just as well I had bought the SIM card! Next is to move the yacht from its current anchorage to somewhere quieter. The wind was gusting all night long and the chain was too noisy. When I went to remove the 'chain snubber' it was already off! The possible cause of all the noise? Anyway, anchor lifted we moved back towards Pigeon Island but got in much closer than before. Three failed attempts to set the anchor so we moved back to where we had anchored the first night. No problem getting the anchor dug in this time, and 'snubber' fully attached, we're looking forward to a much quieter nights sleep.
Perfect, hardly a rattle in the chain, and I was out with the light so the weekend party music wasn't a problem either. Today it is overcast with rain coming in batches. Hopefully it will brighten up later as the day progresses. Well, it did brighten up, for all of about five minutes at a time, interspersed with gloomy skies and rain. Highlight of the day, the five masted 'Royal Clipper' that arrived mid morning and has stayed for the day, ferrying passengers back and forth into Rodney Bay Marina. By the end of the day..... Sunday was a wash out!
There is still rain in the air but nowhere near as bad as yesterday. Today we take the outboard engine in to be serviced. There's a place in the entrance channel that has its own mooring pontoon and I've been told it's deep enough for me to moor alongside. After a sea water shower it was time to make the move. Anchor snubber off, fenders and mooring lines set we lift the anchor to head for the channel. I was made aware that the pontoon was 80' in length but on arrival I could see that with the position of other tenders around the pontoon I was not going to get alongside. Fortunately there was a chap in his yacht, already on the pontoon and he allowed me to raft up next to him. Outboard taken off the hanger, passed across two yachts and placed in the shop. I asked for an estimate before the work was to begin but I knew that I had to get it functioning so this was just a formality. Helen and I set off for the long walk to the shopping mall to get some more provisions and an outboard motor lock. Things are not cheap here in St. Lucia. The lock, which consists of a small padlock and a stainless steel plate bent into an elongated 'U' section, a whopping $127EC! Worse was still to come. By the time I got back to the yacht the estimate to service the outboard engine was ready.....$599EC. I said I could buy a new engine for just over twice that amount, to which you know what their response was going to be. I've got the price reduced by $50EC and am just waiting for the work to be completed.
A lazy day today, just tinkering around the boat. The weather forecast is for showers, intermittent, windy conditions but plenty of sun. Boat watching whilst our neighbou’s go off to shop for provisions and have a coffee. Sean, the engineer from Marine Tek came by to look at their Fisher Panda generator at 09:40. He was not expected until 14:00 so I've taken his number and will relay the message when Martin and Chris return. Need to get up the mast to retrieve a block that I last used with the heavy teak passerelle in Greece. As I no longer have this passerelle I'm going to used the double block to lift the tender out of the water from my solar panel gantry. Mast ladder set up, safety line attached to my bosun's chair, I climb to the top of the mast to get the block, along with a shackle, also redundant. Now all I've got to do is find sufficient lengths of rope and set up the pulley system to haul the tender out of the water. Plenty of sun today but no rain.
So we have finally left our mooring for the last two days in search of pastures green. We said our goodbyes to Martin and Chris. Who knows, maybe we'll meet up again somewhere close to Bermuda. He's heading back to Scotland as his insurance company (the same one I had last year) will no longer insure his yacht because of the hurricane damage inflicted to it in the past and being in a high risk area. Marigot Bay is our next port of call, a mangrove lined bay, reputed to be a safe haven in hurricanes! Helen has read that in the pilot guide that the last but one hurricane to hit the area, the sea water level in Marigot Bay rose by 4m. Not sure I would call that safe. Once out of the bay I had to sort out the main sail as I had dropped it yesterday in order to go up the mast, and I also had to finally sort out the reefing points. This done it was back on course for the bay. Winds had increased significantly, gusting in excess of 30kts. It was only a short passage of 9nm so manageable. On arrival we were met by a beautiful bay, far exceeding our expectations. The mooring fee of $60US for two nights isn't too steep when it includes free wifi and access to the marinas swimming pools. We shall have to give the pools a try tomorrow. In the afternoon Helen tried out her new toy, a paddle board I bought her for Christmas, and then I gave it my attention. A nice way of getting around on the water, provided it's quite calm! A kayak around the bay and a cooling swim rounds off the day by supper time.
Awoken early by the sound of rain. Unfortunately I'm always too slow to get to the window to close it before the bedding has got wet. At least it will dry out later in the day when the sun makes an appearance. It's 07:25, there's no wind, the waters are flat calm and hardly any sounds in the air. A lovely start to the day, if somewhat earlier than expected! Just a couple of jobs to do today. First is to pump up the tender to check that the outboard, which had an expensive service, works. All the pumps and all the different pump fittings located but it would appear that the correct attachment must be back in the UK! However, after some considerable time I finally got the tender inflated to an acceptable pressure to use. Outboard taken off its hanger and put on to the tender to test. It started first time but the tick over was too fast. A simple twist to the adjuster screw has sorted out this problem. A trip to the shore for some light provisions (milk and beer), a shower and an extended engine test. Back on the boat the pulley system has been set up to enable the tender to be carried from the stern davits when under way. Last task, deflate the kayak and store away. The afternoon was a very hot 30'+C so a cooling swim was essential.
So, no Brexit today! Okay, we shall make our own move, down to Soufriere, a passage of around 10nm a little further south of our current position. Wind checked, will be no more than 12kts, gusting to 22kts, so a lovely sail. Never trust a weather forecast. No sooner had we got out of the Bay into open waters, the winds started gusting up to 30kts. Oh well, we've left so we just have to make the most of it. After a couple of hours we arrive in Soufriere, with a welcome from one of the boat boys. We're directed to one of the mooring buoys. It turns out to be a fisherman's buoy and not an official one. Not to get caught out I request a receipt for the $80EC and, good to his word, he comes back with one. The swell in the bay indicates that unless the winds die down we have got this all night long.
Worst night sleep on board for many a year. The boat was bumping up and down and rolling from side to side. No sooner had you got yourself off to sleep the jerking motion woke you up again. Decision made, we return to Marigot Bay, and we set sail at 08:45...... that's how bad it was to leave so early for just a 10nm trip! We are now settled in at the Bay and already things are looking decidedly better. First task is to get the tender in the water and the outboard attached. Next, get everything ready to go ashore to pay for three nights - and to check why I'm unable to connect to the wifi! In the marina office to check in, card put on file so I can just put any purchases on my 'room number'. Wifi code not changed so it must be too far from the router. Given the option to move buoys but not essential. Called into the Hurricane Hole restaurant and had a delicious fish meal with a glass of draught Piton lager while Helen had Chicken and a bottle of still water. Back to the boat for a very relaxing evening.
Up early again, must be going to bed too early the night before! Paddle board in the water and a leisurely paddle around the bay. As we still had some hot water in the tank I did some laundry, clothes and bedding, more bedding than clothes!!! It won't take long for these to dry in this heat and breeze. To cool down, back on the paddle board followed by a swim. A rest in the hammock and that's the limit to my day. Oh, and a phone call home to wish mum a happy Mother's Day.
Another restful nights sleep. The day begins with a refreshing swim and a laid back approach for the next few hours. Helen then asks for the kayak to be inflated so all of the toys are available to play with. Fortunately I have the correct pump and fittings for the kayak so no problem this time. A spin around the bay on the paddle board followed by another in the kayak. Further swims before the largest yacht makes an appearance into the bay. Somehow it manages to manoeuvre its way to the head of the bay and finds a spot in the corner. I'm not sure this pleased two catamarans that were already there, as they promptly left once this mega yacht had berthed!
The day begins with intermittent showers for most of the morning. Today we are leaving this tranquil bay and heading back to Rodney Bay, so at some point I will need to go ashore and settle my mooring bill. I think it's going to cost $243EC but well worth every cent. Maybe I'll be back when I go to pick up Wally from Vieux Fort on the 23.04.19, but in the meantime its au revoir Marigot Bay. The passage back to Rodney Bay should have been an easy run back with the wind behind. As it was, everything conspired against us; wind, waves and current, knocking our speed back to under two knots on occasions. Still, we had plenty of time on our hands and arrived in Rodney Bay just after 17:00. Anchor set it was time for a cup of tea before supper.
Another wet night but the day began dry, if somewhat breezy. We planned to go into town to get some more provisions so the tender was lowered into the water and the outboard attached. It was a case now of waiting for the wind to die down as my little 2.5hp engine would struggle. A few hours later, having decided that the wind was not going to abate, we would go regardless. It was a bumpy trip across the bay into the channel but calmer inside. Tying up on the dingy dock by the mall saved a long walk and, as always, there's someone ready to take your mooring line for a few $EC. Shopping completed, it was a ride around the marina to get a drink and snack at Cafe Ole and use their internet. A visit to the marina office to pre-book the boat in on Saturday for a couple of nights to enable Helen to pick up a taxi for her flight back on Sunday. I did check to see how much car hire was and it was a ridiculous price for one days hire.
The day begins with rain...... for a change! but gives in after about 10 - 15 minutes or so. Rather cloudy and breezy, my morning swim will have to wait until the sun makes an appearance. Testing the water though it is warmer in than sitting on the deck in the wind so the swim goes ahead. I notice that one of the straps on my flippers is just about to break so the loctite super glue comes out to make a temporary repair. Whilst the glue is in hand I attach the missing piece of the port navigation light (that I couldn't locate after Guido and Wally made good the repair to it in December) and now it is back to being legal. Next task, re-route the headsail furling line to prevent any further damage to the port light wiring. I was going to use a small block but in the end I decided to use a stanchion eye, hoping this will do the trick. The water maker has to be tested to see if it functions still so the operation manual was brought out to run through the startup procedure. A couple of photos taken to check the 'closed' position of the depressurisation valve before running through the setup. Having pickled the system before I left in December, it was going to be interesting to see whether I had completed it correctly. After the water had been flowing through the system for about five minutes I took a small sample to test. No bad odours but a salty taste. Another sample taken a few minutes later appeared both good in smell and taste so the water maker was run for an hour and fresh water routed to the aft tank. Only another six hours or so before this is full! I shall run the water maker for an hour per day so by the time I'm due to leave here (24.04.19) the tank should be full.
Surprisingly, it was not raining when we got up this morning. The sun was shining, the wind was blowing but it was dry. However, as the course of the day took its passage, the rain began to fall, quite heavily at times. Only for short periods, but it fell. The morning swim was taken before the rain set in so that was some consolation. Another 30(ish) litres of water made and the aft tank is now showing 50% full. The dc inverter that started blowing fuses across the Atlantic has been disconnected and will be taken in to the electricians tomorrow for checking out the problem. The main sail will also be taken to the sail repairers for a 'once over' before we leave the island. Tomorrow we leave Rodney Bay anchorage and take a spot inside the marina.
Moving day today. After a night of rain it was no surprise to wake up to yet more rain. Only squalls, but one minute you're sitting outside, the next you're inside, closing all the hatches. The paddle board and kayak have been stowed under the boom to enable free passage to walk around the deck. We shall need this when we go into the marina. But before we do that there's a simple task of lifting the anchor and sailing offshore for some distance to empty the holding tank. Then it's back through the channel, call up the harbour master on VHF16 to find out which berth we have been given. The trip out was rather bouncy. The winds were gusting up to 30kts and constantly over 20kts. On the return to the marina the speed of the boat was down to 2kts, the wind and waves conspiring to slow us down until we got into the lee of the island and then it was back up to around 4kts. We had been given berth C16, easy to find in daylight, unlike our entry after completing the Arc at 01:00 in pitch darkness, when we had to ask several times for directions to the given pontoon. Marina staff were on hand to take our lines and we went bow in to our 'finger', knowing that the yacht's storm cover would protect us from any wind or rain that came our way. An easy afternoon, just a trip to the mall for provisions and then relaxing the rest of the day. The highlight of the afternoon, seeing a sea eagle swoop down and pluck a fish out of the water in the marina. The fish was struggling to free itself but the eagle was determined not to lose its catch, and it didn't.
What a lovely nights sleep. It was so good I was up and showered before 07:00! Task for the day, fit the pair of winches that I had bought. It was obvious from the East / West crossing that the yacht was lacking in winches so a pair had to be bought for the return trip. My poor old battery operated electric drill was not up to the job. Firstly, the battery was not holding sufficient charge to complete the work. Secondly, I had to drill through metal plates, and although I had the required drill bit, the drill just couldn't cope with the demand. Fortunately Martin, in the yacht next door had a drill up to the task and all 10 holes were drilled quite quickly. Next problem, I hadn't bought long enough bolts to finish the work so I'm going to have to return to the chandlers and get bolts twice the length of the ones I have in order to complete the work. Cockpit and galley area hovered to pick up all the fibreglass and metal shavings from the drilling and everything was back to normal. Paddle board deflated and packed away. This will not be used again, at least I don't think it will be as I've got the kayak or tender to get me to shore if needed. Before too long it was time to get Helen to the taxi rank and see her off to the airport. Me? I shall be back out in the bay, twiddling my fingers and toes for the next two weeks until crew arrive. Therefore there will be no further reports until we depart for the next major adventure, bringing the yacht back to Greece. St. Lucia to Martinique, Dominica, Gaudalope, Antigua, Saint Martin, Bermuda, the Azores, Gibraltar, and who knows where in the Med we'll stop off at before reaching Greece!
Pictures taken around Rodney Bay and Marigot Bay, St. Lucia.