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Saturday, 8 July 2017

Rodney Bay, St.Lucia

We left Marigot Bay ahead of Nemo, so that if we broke down again they would pass us on transit. Our VHF communication was intermittent, hardly surprising due to the height of Marigot Bays cliffs but what we did hear was that Nemo had their anchor stuck on a rock. We were about to turn back when we got news that Chris had dived down and managed to dislodge the anchor...phew!
All went well after that and after a short sail we anchored just off Gros Islet, Rodney Bay. Nemo anchored nearby. Soon after our arrival a small boat adorned with flags of every nationality on a square frame to keep out the weather, very windy here, sided up to us. It was a fruit stall again. We bought some of the worst limes we had ever seen at a top whack price. When the guy returned on subsequent days we hid downstairs and didn't respond but he went away on a bee line for newly arrived yachts.
Rodney Bay is pretty huge and very windy, which keeps you cool. Our anchor dragged until it set, as did everyone else's. On a snorkeling inspection we could see our anchor caught on dead coral, just a few inches dug in. Other anchors were the same. During the couple of weeks that we stayed, we didn't drag anchor but if we return here we will anchor at the south of the bay.



Rodney Bay

It is a long dinghy ride across the bay, up the channel to the marina, where there is a dinghy dock, fuel, water, mini mart, cafes, restaurants and Island World chandelry. The marina had many charter boats but we did not get the impression of a busy place. We found good wifi and pizza at Elenas and found a bigger supermarket across the main road. There are a couple of shopping malls over the other side of the marina basin where we dinghied over, however the shops seemed to be catering strictly for tourists, including Massy Cuissine Supermarket where you can buy English delicassies such as HP sauce and Heinz baked beans at gormet prices HoHo!
After a few days Nemo set off to Martinique and we stayed for a couple of weeks, as I said due to the trapped nerve in my back that was very slow to mend, dispite ibuprofen, plenty of swimming and lots of gentle movement. I was ready to leave with my back 70% improved. The anchor came up easily and we headed for Le Marin, Martinique to catch up with Nemo.

Monday, 26 June 2017

St.Vincent & St. Lucia

Ourselves and S/V Nemo set off for St.Vincent. We had arranged not to strictly sail together but rather meet up at the intended destinations. We slowly travelled northwards until out of the lee of the island and then we were in turn heeled over, close hauled making swift headway. We made it to Chateaubelair Bay first and anchored off the beach. By the time it took Nemo to arrive, the locals had been alerted and they were met and directed to a spot quite near us to anchor. We then had a few visitors come out to sell fruit or hats and baskets crafted from palm leaves. Then a fisherman paddled out to ask us to move to the northern side of the bay because if a shoal of fish arrive they rush out with nets and we would be in the way. We moved, directed by kids on paddle boards and anchored at this much preferred spot. Unfortunately on getting our anchor up, I pulled my back, trapping a nerve it seams...quite painful! Then we were surrounded by inquisitive kids, one selling fruit, the others just hanging on to the sides of our boat.....looking! We weren't armed at all with gifts for the 'natives' but managed to find packets of buscuits which they seemed to be happy with. After they left us a guy turned up selling fruit again and said to tell the kids we like a quiet time and not to bother us, but to buy all of our fruit off him, insisting on giving us his address and phone number for when we return....fat chance! I find it amazing that you can buy much of the fruit that grows here cheaper in the supermarkets in the UK. After a quiet night we left early the next morning.

Chateaubelair Bay

St.Lucia
After a blustery, close hauled voyage we arrived at Vieux Fort, a big commercial bay however totally empty. We dodged a smattering of Coca Cola bottles acting as fish pot/net buoys and found a place to anchor on the east side off a small pebble beach, not great holding as we dragged a little before our anchor held. Nemo anchored off a sandy beach a little further out but said they too had dragged a little.
With St Lucia not too good a reputation, Chris & Alison went off to find customs, whilst Elaine & I stayed on our perspective boats in VHF contact...so as not to leave 2 women folk aboard. I ferried Chris & Alison to the fishermans harbour where we were met by some rough looking fishermen. Bit of a worry when a guy hoisted Alison out of the dinghy by her wrist whilst brandishing a large knife in the other hand, but was in fact only trying to be helpful...it turned out.
I returned to Artemis and waited for a VHF call from Alison whom had the handheld with her. Four hours later they returned by fishing boat. With a tale of woe of the long walk to the airport, unameniable staff at customs....until the boss man sorted it all out and then walking/hitching a ride back and then the VHF being out of battery!!!!

The next morning we weighed anchor again with Nemo setting off first. With the wind behind us and just the mainsail up, we were going like a train and so comfortable compared to close hauled. After a while we heard a banging on the hull and looked over the side and saw a couple of Coca Cola bottles on rope coming up from underneath the hull. I started the engine and used forward and reverse to activate our rope cutter and the offending bottles, rope, drifted off behind us. We had known they were in the bay but we were so busy raising the sail, that we didn't notice Artemis ploughing through the fish buoys....sorry fishermen but clear plastic is not very visible.
A hour or so later when one of us was downstairs, we could hear, yet again, knocking on the hull. We turned Artemis a full 360 and more bottles and rope came away.
Sailing up th leyward side of St. Lucia is very beautiful with the signature 2 pitons that is represented on their flag. These pitons are an impressive feature to behold!
With the Pitons blocking the wind, we had the engine on & off a few times and then it conked out. It started again but when put into gear, shuddered to a halt. Was there still more rope and bottles around the prop/shaft?
I checked the engine over and it now wouldn't even start in neutral. It was late afternoon now, we had kept Nemo informed over the VHF. They had reached our planned destination but not liked it,so came back out to find a suitable anchor spot to reach without engine. That line of the coast, on that day was one of the busiest with yachts and catamarans that we have ever seen, getting to the shore would be a problem with all the cross traffic. 
The Pitons

Nemo anchored in Marigot Bay and gave us the lie of the land, over the VHF. We started tacking as Marigot was windward (of course). It was going to take a long time. Nemo said that the local mooring buoy guy had offered to tow us in with his dinghy. We decided to take the offer and after agreeing a price he came out to throw us a line (borrowed from Nemo). It was slow going but after about an hour or two, we were safely on a mooring buoy. Having done a good rescue job, our hero obviously wanted paying. I didn't have enough cash on board so he whisked me to the ATM close by. 'Out of Order' and the bank was closed until the next day. I promised to return to the bank the next morning but that wasn't good enough for him. Actually, as soon as we were on the mooring buoy, he turned from being Mr Nice guy into a greasy, slimy, lecherous scumbag. He kept trying to 'up' the agreed price, insisted we owe him beer ( supplied) and suggesting he deserved a considerable tip on top...we did not agree!
Anyway he said he would return at 6:30 pm and drive me to another ATM a few miles away. On the way back to Artemis he had a 'brainwave' and zoomed over to Nemo "Your friend will lend you the money!". I embarrassingly had to ask them and after a bit of discussion between themselves and me offering what I had in my wallet, as a starter, they came up with the rest. I apologized later as it was in no way my idea but we are so glad they could help. It got boyo off out back for starters.

The next morning we went to the bank...they don't advance money, only exchange and the ATM was 'kaput' for the foreseeable future. Ok! So wanting to pay our pals back asap, we enquired about a taxi to the nearest ATM, a few miles away. $50... Yes FIFTY US Dollars!!!! Hmmmm, seems a bit steep, let's do some negotiating.......they wouldn't negotiate on price. They were at least half a dozen taxis, doing nothing, I wonder why? Alison asked at the local shop about the local bus service. Walk up the hill, down the hill and there is a stop on the main road. Tough going in the heat, a taxi follows us and drops his fare by US$10....sorry not good enough! The bus cost us EC$4 for both of us ( £1:33) but unfortunately when we got there the ATM would not give me any money! Another bus ride, same price again, took us to Castries (capital) and we were directed to a street lined with banks. After trying a few ATMs, with no luck, I was beginning to think that I'd got my PIN number mixed up. It was Saturday morning so all the branches were closed. Eventually we went to a English (actually Scottish) sounding bank and my card worked....phew!!!
What a great town Castries is. Everyone is going about their business, with lots of shops, food outlets and nobody hassled us, despite being the only white people there. We did some shopping in the supermarket, the only one I think, and waited in a huge queue to be served ( like Christmas). 
We then got the bus back and got talking to two lovely guys who make oak rum barrels for a living, who told us the bus driver would take us part way up the hill and drop us there....great! Not too much walking.

We paid Nemo back, together with a loaf of bread and a courtesy flag we picked up in town and invited them for dinner for the following evening. The next morning Alison dived down to inspect the prop. Yellow polypropylene rope, with a few plastic bottles were wrapped around and around the prop and I passed Alison a knife, then scissors but to no avail. I had a go and bit by bit I came up with more of the tangle until it was all off.....my turn to be the hero after Alison previously retrieved the sunken padlock in Carriacou.
Our rescuer of course wanted to organize a diver and mechanic for us but we said there was no need.
Next....the engine. After observing us from Nemo and previously giving us advice, Chris came over. We had filled the diesel tank which only took 30 liters, so a dodgy fuel gauge wasn't the problem. I got another masterclass from Chris on how to bleed a Diesel engine.....that's the 3rd masterclass I've had....all slightly different from the others. All went well and the air was purged from the system and the engine was running like an engine should. The cause seemed to be the copper washers at the banjo fitting and filter bleed screw. I later removed the washers, heated them over the hob until they glowered and then cooled them to anneal the copper and restore their effectiveness as 'crush' washers. A couple of bags of new ones are on the shopping list.

We stayed the second night on the buoy, out of laziness, but no one came to ask for more money...charge for rescue EC$350, buoy for one night EC$50, total EC$400 (£133)....sounds good value, especially compared to a local taxi.

Marigot Bay is a place of great natural beauty, gobsmackingly gorgeous! It was the location of the original Doctor Doolittle movie. The interior bay is a marina and they also have anchor buoys. Also it has reportedly a safe hurricane hole. You can anchor for free on the north side of the bay entrance. We aim to return one day.

Marigot Bay

Friday, 23 June 2017

Bequia

After a spirited close hauled sail of only 4 hours, we reached Admiralty Bay. A fantastic natural harbour as good, if not better than the last one. We found a safe easy spot to anchor, near the middle of the bay as it appears quite crowded elsewhere. We promptly dragged anchor when trying to power set, so up it came and we anchored between a catamaran and a monohull off Lower Bay Beach. We didn't like the variable wind and current there, so the next morning we moved again close to Jacks Beach Bar and remained there for the rest of our stay.
With a mixture of natural and man made beauty we enjoyed it here very much!
Princess Margaret Beach


The Customs/Immigration was easy and friendly, in fact we were astounded by how nice the people are here. There is a bank, supermarkets, cafes, bars, restaurants with good wifi. Plenty of docks to park the dinghy and a special area for your yacht rubbish, a very very good chandelry, although on the expensive side. One drawback is that water has to be bought, as in most of the islands in this part of the Caribbean, however they do give a good service as bright green/yellow boats patrol the anchorage with water, diesel, ice, laundry service written on their side. We didn't need their services as our water lasted until we managed to collect rain after a few false alarms weather wise.
Artemis (nearest to the camera)

Alison on one of our walks

We spotted Wade & Marysia aboard S/V Pintado and we had a few get togethers. Wade is learning to play the guitar so I tried to give him a lesson and encouragement, he's doing very well. Payback for him diagnosing our fridge/battery problems in South America.

Buying bread in the Caribbean can be a bit hit and miss, mostly just ok. However at the Porthole Restaurant & Shop, the proprietor bakes her own and sells it. Fantastically delicious, white or brown, the type of bread that you don't waste a morsel. It's best to check when the next batch is coming out of the oven so as not to be disappointed. We plucked up the courage to ask for a bread making lesson  and she said Yes! Thank you so much!
So now in theory we can replicate the fantastic 'Porthole' bread. On our first try she had warned that we had heavy Trinidad flour and to use a different one - came out good though. The next time on our own, it seems that our yeast had expired as the dough didn't rise properly, so we decided not to waste  the gas cooking it..One day!
Arriving at one of the dinghy docks to see Chris & Elaine (S/V Nemo)

After a few weeks S/V Nemo arrived and we hatched a plan to sail together for the next week or so.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Tyrell Bay Part 2

At Tyrell Bay yachts leave and arrive constantly. Sooner or later friends and acquaintances you've met while traveling are bound to turn up! Just as we were feeling a bit lonely, in came Doug & Katie on S/V Casa Tu with pals Chris & Elaine on S/V Nemo and we got on very well indeed. We went snorkeling together on the other side of the island and entertained each other for drinks etc.....then S/V Chrystal Blue arrived ( Neil & Ley), a pleasure to see again...then S/V Galatea, Ernst & Anne Marie, who gave us information including brochures from further north, very handy! We also visited fellow Hunter owners Michael & Pam aboard S/V Moorhen of Yorkshire, who entertained us for afternoon tea and delicious homemade cake.
S/V Crystal Blue
Walking back from snorkeling 

We had discovered a big mama pig chained to a tree near the boatyard and we collected our peelings, carrot tops etc to feed her. We had checked on the internet what was ok to feed pigs and the owner said it was ok and that she was pregnant.
Lovely Mama Pig

A disturbing feature of Tyrell Bay, was the poisoning of dogs by one individual or more....very sad. The Lambi Queen was where we went to get wifi and one day their puppy started foaming at the mouth as Alison was stroking him. She rushed in the bar to let the owners know that the puppy had been poisoned. We don't know what happened however we didn't see the puppy again.

On one trip ashore, we pulled our dingy up on the beach, then some more. We popped into the local shop and along to the greengrocer. When we returned 'Lil'Arty', the dinghy was gone!!!! A French couple had just landed and we asked them if they had seen it...no they hadn't. Looking out into the bay we eventually spotted it, almost back to Artemis...unmanned. Luckily for us a couple of local guys who had a floating bar/restaurant in front of our boat caught it for us. The French guy offered to take me to the dinghy and we set off to retrieve it. Unfortunately he ran out of petrol a few yards off shore but it was ok as he had petrol on his yacht which was close by.....oops his wife had the key back on shore 'C'est la vie' said I. By this time, the local guys had started our dinghy engine and brought it to us with theirs in tow. We thanked them profusely and tipped them each $10EC...thanks again guys! After that incident we always tie or chain the dinghy to a tree or post.

Another dinghy related mishap, was when locking it to Artemis on an evening, l dropped the padlock overboard. The next day Alison got her snorkeling gear on and tried to find it and retrieve it. She managed to find but had difficulty trying to reach it which was about 6 meters down on the sea bed. Then I had a go, with instruction from Alison ( She's a much better swimmer than me) on my technique. By taking a small breath instead of a big one, l could almost reach it. Alison inspired and rested had another go and came up victorious with padlock in hand...well done!
Got the padlock back!

After quite a number of weeks we set off for Bequia, highly recommended only a couple of islands away (about 4 hrs).
Weighing anchor proved quite a challenge...even when the boat was directly above and breaking out the anchor, I found it extremely difficult to pull the anchor up. When it surfaced the reason became  clear. I had not only pulled up our 20kg Bugle but also a rusty 35lb CQR with attached chain of unknown length as well. Thankfully it wasn't in use by another yacht but part of the discarded/lost items that foul many popular anchorages. I dislodged the extra anchor from ours as we exited the bay. If it had been a Rocna or other good anchor I would have got it aboard some how some way! Haha!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Trinidad - Carriacou

In the late afternoon of 19/3/17 we left Trinidad for Carriacou (small island North of Grenada). An evening start is recommended to avoid Venezuelan Pirate boats. The latest report was during the recent fishing competition....a sports fisher boat was approached by armed men in a high speed boat. The fishing boat cut his lines and made a run for it and due to its more powerful engines was able to escape back to Trinidad.
We motored along the Northern coast for a hour or so, then headed North again close hauled, as close to the wind as we possibly could and the current pushed us sideways. The night was blustery to start with however calmed down the nearer we got to Grenada. We cleared the windward side with no problems through the oil fields. A look at our chart plotter told us that to have the current in our favour, to sail through the pass between Grenada and Carriacou, we needed to step on it a bit. More sail out and we had a knot and a half faster (7 1/2 knots), we made it! Unfortunately we didn't reach Tyrell Bay before nightfall, arriving at 7:30pm in moonless darkness....not recommended! We cautiously entered the bay, Alison on the bow with a search light. We avoided an anchored tug, a couple of sailboats and anchored as soon as possible in 7 meters of water with 35 meters of chain.
We got a surprise come morning, as our estimate of half a dozen yachts, after counting anchor lights, turned out to be more like 40. We moved closer in the bay in daylight to 5 meter depth for better shelter from swell and shorter dinghy rides ashore.

Artemis in Tyrell Bay

Tyrell Bay

The customs etc is all in one office at Tyrell Bay Marina and the road along the beach shore is lined with shops, bars, restaurants and Scuba Diving businesses. It's a lot quieter here and a real pleasure to swim off the back of Artemis into the clear blue water.
The main town of Hillsborough is a short minibus ride away and although this island is more expensive than we have previously experienced, there is value to be had and a surprising variety of goods.
The anchored boats change daily with charter and private yachts, coming in and out and several cruisers we met in Trinidad have, to our pleasure, paid a visit.
The climate is pretty ideal, being a little cooler with a strong breeze from the land and great solar power as the boats back to westward. The only negative is the lack of rain, to catch at this time of year and so we have had to purchase 40 liters from the Marina.

Alison's finished Grenada flag

Feeding the pig

Lovely walk over the Island 

Miles & Alison, Doug & Kate S/V Casa Tu (we had been snorkeling in the bay behind us)
Alison found our dinghy lock after I dropped it!

An old wreck that didn't make it into Tyrell Bay



Thursday, 13 April 2017

Chaguaramas

The Customs and Immigration offices are conveniently located near Crews Inn, the hotel and marina complex in one corner of the bay. This is easily identified by the lighthouse style structure above its restaurant. For the dingy dock, turn right just before the lighthouse. Checking in is best done in office hours or you have to pay an overtime penalty. You just arrived.....RIGHT!
Buoys are around US$ 8 per night and they come to you for payment.
After a week or so of settling in, finding supermarket, ATM, pricing boat parts etc, we went to inquire about getting Artemis hauled out at Power Boats and Peakes. We chose Peakes as the yard was smarter, great chandlery, new beautiful toilets/showers, a small beach and staff that couldn't be more helpful. 

Artemis being hauled out...note the keel, was white!!!
In the trailer after a power wash...a bit better!

Our time in the yard was extended by 1 week to 3 as Alison was full of cold and promptly handed in her sick note, tut! Never mind but after the 3rd week we were glad to get back in the water.
Work carried out was as follows:-
Waterline raised and new bottom paint applied...after sanding
Max Prop serviced
Boom re-riveted 
Jib and main sail repaired
Steering serviced with new parts (parts made at the machine shopping site)
New toilet fitted
Spray hood re-stitched
Topside polished
More anchor chain and shackles purchased....chain marked for depth
Engine fully serviced
Lil' Arty repaired (dinghy)
Fitted new solar regulator
Modified Bimini for catching rainwater
Two second hand gas bottles acquired
Numerous smaller jobs......
The first 4 jobs were done by the yard...we did the rest....phew!!!!
Artemis after all the work....lovely!

Going back in the water....yippee!!!


After our busy time in the yard we motored to Scotland Bay for 10 days peace and quiet, whilst the Carnival was in town. Not exactly as planned...the world and his wife turned up. Local people arrived in every conceivable boat, getting dropped off and making encampments in the trees, on the shore, bringing everything they needed for an extended stay....tents, food, drink, gas bbqs, fishing equipment, music (with powerful speakers), generators etc. Power boats were zooming in & out, Jet Skis round & round and twice a day the party boats appeared for an hour or two with their DJs blasting out the latest beats.

Scotland Bay...before the crowds!

One night we were awoken by the Customs launch and interrogated at torch point (1:30am). Apparently we should have informed the Customs Office that Artemis was out of the water, back in the water and our visit to Scotland Bay.....yes sure!
Anyway, back to Chaguaramas we marveled at the oil platform ships coming in and out and the oil/ petrol slick that was mucking up my hull...lovely! Actually the ships were good!

Lots of ships

We listened to the Cruisers net every morning on ch68, socialized at Bbqs, jam sessions and informal sundowners outside Power Boats restaurant/bar. We caught the bus to the Port of Spain finding some interesting shops, especially fabrics and sewing machine parts, and Price Smart...wholesale shop where we stocked up with provisioning.
St Valentines dinner...thanks Miles xx

New Year...New Destination

After New Year it was time to head for Trinidad, to get Artemis lifted for new bottom paint and other repairs necessary.
We weighed anchor 11/1/17 and motored back down the Paramaribo River...wind on the nose! We could see from the river all the parts of the city that we had visited on land...very nice! We anchored at the same place (before the mouth of the river) as we did on the way up and after a relaxing afternoon and a good nights sleep, we left Suriname for Trinidad.
The first day sailing was good but on the night the wind increased dramatically, so we reefed to keep control, however it was uncomfortable with the waves slapping on the side. The next day was a bit slow to start with but the breeze picked up and by the afternoon we were doing a nice 6 knots which continued through the evening and night. On day 3 we hit 3 squalls, sea 2 meters, 61/2 knots....reefed down. On the evening of day 4 we had to do something drastic to get back on course as the current and wind had conspired to push us westerly. It seemed that all roads led to Venezuela, which we definately didn't want to go anywhere near due to the instability and reported pirate attacks. There was only one thing for it......motoring north into the wind and swell for 15 hours. We hit a city of squalls! They were all around us but we could see which ones would hit and which would miss. 
Whilst in Suriname, we had bought some waterproof outdoor material and fashioned a hood extension/Bimini with the help of a pole across our backstays. This worked remarkably well for a first attempt and protected us from the sun and rain. An added bonus was that we couldn't stand up under the boom because of it, so no chance of knocking our heads.
Artemis was behaving like a hobbyhorse, dunking her nose then tail into the sea, ocean cascading down the decks....great fun...not!
Once sufficiently northward, we were able to alter course and start sailing again. Close hauled but the sea a lot calmer. We both felt exhausted! We enjoyed good sailing, however being close hauled all the time makes you ache as the boat is heeled to one side, so you are continually bracing yourself.
By day 6 we were able to change course to a beam reach, with 55 miles to go to our waypoint (just after Galera Point, Trinidad).
Day 7 Turning between the Islands..Tobago on one side (in the distance) and the north of Trinidad to our port, we motored as the wind was yet again against us. The wind, current and tides here combine to give the strangest sea we have yet seen. Short and spikey, surging this way then that, similar to a boiling cauldron. Deepest cobalt blue, the colour turning to green as we turned to navigate the narrow pass between mainland Trinidad and Monos Island (on the chart as one of the Dragons mouths). The seas power is very strong here and increased our revs to keep a steady course avoiding Chapeau Rock (wrongly marked on Navionics charts as underwater.....Not the case!!!). We passed Scotland Bay, a popular anchorage but not permitted if you haven't checked in at Customs/Immigration first. A little further to Chaguaramas. We motored around the corner, very wary as there seems a lot of places...boatyards, marinas, industrial docks and ships that service the oil platforms to the north and west....such a small area!

Trinidad 

The passage to Chaguaramas  


View from Artemis, the 2 boatyards, Peakes to the left and Power Boats to the right

We found one of the two remaining anchor buoys and finally relaxed midday. We chose not to anchor as Internet reports and cruisers we had met said that the anchorage bottom is very foul with ropes, nets, chains, sunken vessels etc...