We pulled in at De Big Fish to get a bus to the airport. Departures was oh so busy, and arrivals doubly so.
After a long wait Francesca emerged from customs and back we tracked over the 2.5 miles to the tender by taxi.
The key issues are;
Distances to sail to return to the UK (c.39,000nm) versus the potential experiences en route?
Education & A-levels?
Is the ship fully fit for a maintenance free passage to New Zealand?
Security? It’s one thing to read about being permanently cautious, not going out at night, staying in crowded public places and so on. But it is quite different to live that life! In some locations freedom is restricted to marina complexes only.
Potential delays – this is measured in years and for the final 39,000nm a few issues could set us back one or two years easily.
Financial. Clocking up mileage, we have learnt, costs. Learning how best to improve the ship for offshore sailing, ongoing wear and tear, breakages and sundry parts add up quickly. Then there are future costs for the Panama Canal, Galapagos, haul outs & anti-fouling.
Timing; the need to get through Panama and push on to New Zealand quickly to stay with the seasons. And if not Panama, the need to plan to stay out of the hurricane zone from end May.
Opportunities back home.
So currently we are discussing, and it will be a long discussion, what we want to do with our time in the months ahead.
We are anchored in Prickly Bay, Grenada, at the end of the airport runway (reassuringly we have seen a couple of planes). Our eldest daughter joins us from the UK tonight so it’s a short trip on the bus to collect her.
The Tiki-Tiki bar has internet pods with multiple types of power connections, lays on entertainment and judging by the ‘car park’ has got something right.
We had to motor down to Grenada from Union Island, about 34 miles, despite the wind being c20kn on a nice beam reach. Our Rondal headsail furling system has packed up again and after 3,000 miles of manual furling I don’t have the appetite for more especially with the need to furl/unfurl every couple of miles due to islands, rocks and squalls.
Then of course there is the main sail. We had to manually furl this into the boom at Canouan Island as our second system, the mast hydraulics, have also packed up. The switch gear seems OK but it looks like the solenoid has failed as no power is getting to the motor. Having manually furled the main once I am not intending to do it again!
So we are now in Prickly Bay waiting for Turbulence yacht services to visit and see if they can help. The only Rondal Service we can find is 400 miles north in St Martin. Mmmm!
Another sandy, palm covered island on the way to Grenada. This island seems to be friendly, colourful and best of all this bay has no boat boys. We are in Hillsborough but the yacht anchorage which may hold 100 yachts is around the corner at Tyrrell Bay. It’s a little bumpy here in comparison but with only 8 boats or so we have plenty of space. Tomorrow we leave for Prickly Bay, Grenada.
A quick stop at the anchorage on the way to Grenada. We arrived in a 30kn squall with little visibility and got soaked as we anchored just ahead of darkness.
Next morning we awoke to find that a commercial ship had anchored and was lying roughly over our anchor and last 10m of chain. With the constant trade wind acting on it’s topsides it would sail off to one side on it’s own chain until it stalled, then it would stop, change tack, and sail picking up speed throughout the pendulum arc until it eventually stalled again on the other tack. In order to leave we had to take up excess chain until we were close to the path the ship took, wait for it to sail across the chain, and then go for it to get the anchor up before it tacked back again. Not all anchor retrievals go to plan and sometimes there are delays at various stages. Luckily we got a clean lift first time and as soon as the anchor was free we headed away from the now oncoming ship.
It was Claire’s birthday so we made up ‘Happy Birthday’ in flags and flew it from the bow. The day started with breakfast at Frangipani’s followed by a beach barbeque. Organised by a cruising couple and cooked by Paul & Faith who run the beach bar (an umbrella on the beach!) this was attended by numerous yachts. We had not pre-ordered our lobster so Donal & Sarah from Millport II kindly gave up theirs for the birthday girl; how kind is that.
Snorkelling around the Bequia anchorage is the best we have experienced so far.
A couple of days later and we were off to the Bequia Music Festival down at De Reef which was excellent.
It was rough during the night between St Lucia and St Vincent with about 22kn blowing in from the Atlantic. In the lee of St Vincent we motored in the calm before rounding the bottom of the island. We rolled into Bequia on a close reach in 26kn with waves crashing over the bow.
The anchorage is huge in Admiralty Bay and we headed per the guide to anchor off Frangipani Hotel at the head of the bay. But we found the whole area dominated by buoys so we eventually found a spot to anchor about 1/4 mile out of town. We then found ourselves surrounded by friends; Calypso, Fantasea, Wasabi, Millport and many others. Misfa eventually turned up and we caught up with Beyzano whose blog we had been reading for the last two years.
Now Bequia has got this whole yachting thing right. Dinghy docks all over the place, waterfront watering holes, a really cute town, a few boat boys that don’t hassle, diesel and water brought to your boat, endless amounts of lobster, clear turqoise waters and great beaches. The wind still whips through the anchorage at a constant 20kn plus and we had a few squalls.
We departed Soufriere at midnight to make our way down to Bequia. On the way, like most cruisers, we by-passed St Vincent which has a well documented history of crime against cruisers. At this time Walliablou Bay is said to have a problem and it is advised not to anchor off Kingston. Passing the island as the sun rose we could see that the north is very rugged with tall sharp ridges and near vertical faces.