Thursday, February 22, 2018

Clarks Court Bay Grenada to Rodney Bay St Lucia-- and now Part 3

Hi everyone,
I had arrived back in time for Grenada sailing week with only no real problem, except my new mainsail was not quite right, and it was not driving the boat very well in any wind direction due to how much shape Jerry had given it. I had anchored in St Georges first to get a new steering compass, this is to replace my broken original one. I have tried now for over 8 years to find a replacement, second hand as they are not manufactured any more. The reason for that was simple, my chart plotter would not display any information and I had to go back to using my paper charts on the way down island. (at some point I will try and get it fixed) While I was choosing a new compass I saw another plotter in 'Island Water World', Its a Garman of similar type but 10 years ahead of my old one with all the latest Tech improvements, couldn't stop myself from getting hold of it. I then left and went round the south coast to 'Secret Harbour' where sailing week was due to start, bit scary going through the reef  without any Nav info and also all the channel marks leading through were missing. Got in OK and had arranged to pick up a mooring ball, local guy came out and helped me with that.
I got to work right away on taking the new main off and putting my old repaired sail back on for the racing, then I installed the new plotter and steering compass. Plotter is magic and since putting into service I am getting up to date with the latest innovations that have been thought up, also how to use the thing. Computer technology as moved forward by leaps and bounds were Navigation is concerned. Sailing week started and we all had a great time, I had 2 crew for all races and a third and forth crew for the first three, I had made friends with Wolfgang and Mathey before and a young sailor Micheal who was gasping to crew on a classic yacht, Emma was there too for the first three. Being the smallest boat there and having a mainsail with no battens in it, I didn't do very well, There were 7 boats in our class and I came 6: 6: 7: 7: 7: in the 5 races. My friends Jud and Chrissy on 'Galatea' (1899) won the lot, and was the overall winner in our class, and Gerry on Free Spirit was Third.

After all the racing parties were over I wanted to get back to St Lucia ASAP to fix my new sail and attend to the engine as I have found the blocked filter had damaged the fuel lift pump diaphragm. All the forecasts were dire, so from 4th of Feb I have been waiting for the winds to go down, there was no sign this was going to happen any time soon.
On Friday 16th a forecast gave the winds going down that weekend, just for a couple of days then back up again on the Monday 19th of this week. So took a chance and left on Saturday 20th at 0700hrs. This journey is about 135 NM from Bay to Bay and normally takes me 2 days and one night to get there, Not This Time, it took me 3 days and 2 nights in the biggest seas and highest winds I have ever seen in the Caribbean !!! I was going to call in on Carriacou on my way up to clear customs, I got to within 3 miles and then tacked, I was blown out to sea with wind and current taking me away and couldn't get there, unbelievable. I was in over 10 foot waves on the nose with 25 knts of wind blasting the boat, lee rail was more under water than above, this carried on hour after hour for the whole trip! sometimes more and not often less.
I was now approaching St Vincent with Mustique and Bequia on the Starboard side, I could see the loom of their lights in the clouds above them as it got dark on Saturday night, I was about 20 miles to the west of them. This is were the waves got even higher and wind much stronger. Its my habit to stick my head by the hatch to light a cigarette out of the wind, I had just come out of the cabin after a quick snooze for 10 mins. After a good look around I poked my head in to light a fag...I was hearing water sloshing around without really understanding what I was hearing, after all I had only just come into the cockpit. Cabin was in total darkness so slid the hatch back and shone the torch in there. Holy ***""*** Bilge floorboard was floating on top of the waves down there, what the ??????? poor old hart started to go into top gear, what could it be???? plank come off somewhere??????? that was a lot of water very quick?????? I had only just come out of there??????  ??????  ???????
I shot down there power switch first, had something hit it and turned it off? no it was on. hand down into the water to feel the pumps were running or not, engine bilge yes, emergency 3000 gall an hour yes, cabin sort of, 2 big towels were wrapped round it so running but not pumping any water, removed towels pump ok, check water is going out, all three overboards were discharging water, big EM pump didn't seem to be pumping a lot? down again water was very slowly going down?????
put all on to manual running, waited for a bit, water was definitely going down, when the level passed the overflow from engine to cabin there was a waterfall of water coming through, have I sprung a plank down there somewhere????? I then thought why is the cabin bilge taking so long to empty???? because that's were the big pump suction is and should already be dry????? I turned the big pump off and the engine bilge pump emptied the bilge!  ah ahha  put the big pump back on bilge filled up again, shit there is a split in the hose, so a combination had happened, towels down bilge 1 pump nobbled, engine bilge fills up overflows into cabin, cabin bilge fill up starts big pump, big pump is just circulating bilge water from cabin to engine bilge, engine pump can not keep up complete bilge fills with water. With both bilges now back to normal no planks have fallen off the boat!! That was a bit of a scare, poor old hart took an hour to calm down after that! Back in the cockpit I finally got to light that FAG.

As I started to pass St Vincent it became even nastier, I kept hearing a bang that night, I couldn't find out where it was coming from, at 0300hrs with the wind about 30 odd knts and seas way over 12 feet, I had 3 bangs one after the other then a big bang happened, I then got the torch and noticed the wind vane frame was moving, a closer look showed me not the frame but the Bumpkin was lifting up alarmingly, it was starting to pull out the 4" coach screws, I looked over the stern and the wire stay holding the backstay in tension had completely shredded, the mast was now pumping back and forward with the jib stay slack but under serious loading from the wind, if I didn't do something quick I would be losing the mast top! a quick think then, I, quick as I could, tacked the boat and heaved too, pulled the main in hard to help the mast and bring the boom end reachable, took off the topping lift shackle and rigged it around the wind steering rudder post, (sounds easy, this whole frame was going under the sea 2 feet every second with me trying to hang on to it and tie the topping lift to it!) once done back to the mast get the haliyard run that back to the frame end then off with the main sheet and on with the haliyard on the winch, with both ropes now in as much tension as I had the strength to muster on the winch I monitored the mast top for a while getting my breath back (and had a fag or 2) Back stay was now loose and the frame was holding steady, I tacked back on course watching everything like a hawk, all was good. Jib stay was taught again, I got away with that one whew! was doing 6+knts into this wind and sea, hard on the starboard tack, boat loving every minute of it, it amazes me this boat.
The rest of that Sunday night I battled into this weather, I couldn't make the course to St Lucia and was going further away from the island mile by mile.
Finally I got far enough north to make the coast a good deal higher than the Pitons, this about 0600hrs Monday 19th morning over 35 miles from St Lucia to the West. going fast as off the wind a bit, think the very strong current was helping this time as I made the coast close in quickly.
I knew next problem would be getting the sails down in such high wind, there is not any shelter in Rodney Bay, I had blown out this sail last year trying to do just this sail down pain here! came as close as I dared to a hotel beach North end of Cuti Cove just before Rodney Bay, still have to fit the new transducer for the new plotter so no depth sounder as yet.
Began just after 12 noon, order is 1st little jib, second is big jib then the main sail. again sounds easy but keeping the boat into the strong wind is the problem. 1 hour later I have not managed to drop the big jib yet, so down wind I go, Gusts are coming at me 25 deg. either side, have to let the boom out a lot to keep the wind up my backside, Da Ja Vue while half way getting Jib down a 30 degree gust slaps the boat hard....boat gybes...main goes round top spreaders....... I do one quick tie on jib....... then I try and gybe back...... before I get to rudder another now getting a long way from beach..... this gust is full strength.......mainsail rips itself free...... turn into wind sail is slapping and tearing itself to pieces...... motor back to beach takes another hour! even closer this time..........
engine just ticking over in gear and into the fluctuating wind, wait for the right moment, it takes 20 seconds to drop, wait for it, wait for it, NOW let go haliyard, nothing, sail doesn't move??????
I am on the boom jumping off holding on to the sail, manage it down to the top spreaders, it will not come down any further?????? sail is now going berserk and making so much noise shaking the boat like a dog shakes a rag, I now have the whole beach full of hotel Guests watching this performance. Well what the hell, I tied as much of the sail to the boom, it now looks like a parachute and is having a similar effect on the boat! I go full throttle into the wind and round the corner into Rodney Bay, Full wind in my makeshift parachute allows me nearly 2 knts forward motion, quite good thinks me. Carried on to the channel then stopped to call the marina and arrange a berth, I sorely need one now.
While stopped 2 friends have spotted me and came over in their dinghies to give me some help, John who I met in Antigua Classics last year was a volunteer boat herder, very fit, and Robin whose classic boat was damaged just after I was hit, we decided to anchor get sail down then go into marina. After anchor was down John swarmed up the mast undid the sail and it dropped down no problem. Block however would not move and is even now waiting for me to fix. We then lifted anchor again and I am now in the Marina D22 berth. Got the ships papers and went to clear customs, very very knackered, customs had gone home, went to nearest bar and bought a bucket of beer (5 Bottles) when gone got another one, then up to Bosuns bar ordered a beefburger and fries and another beer, back to the boat at 8pm eat burger and fries and crashed out doing a deck head survey!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

I go to Union Island- New year 2018----Part two of 3

I go to Union Island- New year 2018

Susie went to Union Island day after boxing day, its only 8 miles away but north east of Carriacou. I was under instructions to get there come what may for New Years Eve celebrations, I left it to the last minute because of wind direction north east. On New Years EVE EVE weather was good to go, its only 8 miles away ! I hoisted the dingy up on the fore deck and lashed it down, I would go with just the mainsail up. I left Carriacou at 1000hrs doing approx 3 knts, I had all day to get there, weather was sunny and a was enjoying the lazy sail. Looking aft about 1400hrs I saw a huge dark black cloud engulfing Carriacou, serous squall, and as it was behind me I would miss it completely in the north east I watched this cloud was overtaking me traveling north west opposite wind to what I was in......not forecast at all!.... I watched as it drew closer and closer, I could now not see anything behind it because of the white out rain under the darkest cloud I have ever seen. Wallop it got me.... must have been well over 40 kts of wind with horizontal rain, wind whipped up the sea blowing the tops of the waves off adding to the downpour, the boat was heeled so far over lee rail under water and now going away from Union Island very quickly, I was only 2.5 miles away when this happened. It lasted a good hour and a bit, I was now 3 miles from Union Island in the current and there was no way for me to tack back, I was going to miss the Island time went on I knew I would have to start the engine to make it at all. But I couldn't start my lovely very reliable engine at all, even put the electric priming pump on didn't make any difference, I knew I was low on diesel fuel that combined with the tossing about I had just gone through had disturbed all the crud in the tank and the filter had blocked up. I had been telling Susie at anchor what was going on, so she organized a local fishing boat to come out and tow me in this took another hour and it was now going dark! as I was taking the sails down  I noticed bits of broken painted wood scatted on the deck, after a short look round there in the bottom of my dingy was a huge hole, the waves had smashed and stoved in the floor. Fellow cruisers helped me anchor the boat, the wind was still viscous with very strong gusts, and about 2 hours later now pitch dark my anchour dragged and off I went heading for a very big luxury motor yacht! again fellow cruisers came to my rescue and herded me back in and I anchored again, thank the stars I had fitted that electric windless.
I didn't dare leave the boat that night and although there was a party and B-B-Q on the beach I didn't go, one local guy came out and offered to take me to the beach I had to say no, he came back about 15 mins later with a huge plate of BBQ food for me Magic.

New Years Eve 2017

 Susie had organized a powerful local boat to take us all to the town of Clifton  for celebrating New Years, its a long way from Chatham Bay against the big seas and wind, we went very fast into the waves doing I think maybe 20 + knts and arrived at Happy Island about 1600hrs, this island is the Kite Surfing Capital of the Caribbean! I counted about 20 kite surfers doing some amazing stunts, like coming at the dingy dock so fast in the calm shallow water of the reef and launching into the air between the dinghies like 2" away from them going over the bar and our heads turning and landing again in front of the dinghies  shooting off at high speed away from us, wish I was a bit younger to have a go at that.

After all that was over and quite a few beers we were taken to the town for the party time, it was all happening,we Partied Hard went to the town dock before midnight and watched the fireworks, a few more beers and about 0200hrs 1st January 2018 we were taken back to Chatham Bay, I was very drunk at the time!
here ends part 2

Clarks Court Bay Grenada to Rodney Bay St Lucia-- Part One of 3

Hi All,
Guess what, I have internet on the boat ! and as long as I do it early before it slows down I can do a catch up.
Just so everyone knows, the weather in the Caribbean has been very strange this year, the Xmas winds arrived as normal middle of December but from the North East instead of East, and they have been blowing very strong ever since, the dry season didn't happen and still hasn't happened. This has caused very big swells to keep building bigger and bigger, and this combined with winds over 20 knts from the north east has made it difficult to travel north from the south. Getting to St Lucia last time was a pain, but managed it in a small 2 day window.That was to pick up my new sails from Jerry Bethal in February.
Catch up insert
Xmas 2017- Susie goes missing-I go to Union Island- New year 2018
I did make it to Carriacou for Xmas eve against wind and sea, 26 hr journey, and was invited for a champagne breakfast aboard 'Spirited Lady'  Susie's boat on Xmas morning at 0830 hrs. I tootled over in my dingy at 0815 hrs with my unopened pressy and card from Lynne and Ken (sister & brother in law in UK), and armed with a bottle of wine. There was to be a first footing type celebration called a serenading afterwards were a group of  cruisers and locals travel all over the island visiting many many places and peoples houses were food and drink are offered by locals, singing, dancing, drinking which goes on all day etc. etc. 

Arriving at Susie's boat it was deserted, her dingy wasn't there, also no sign of her or her 2 dogs and the cat, they normally bark meow  when they hear my outboard motor. So thinking she was ashore walking the dogs I went looking for her, its a long beach and I couldn't see her dingy on any of the small piers. I then waited for a bit watching her boat from the beach for her to return, nowt. So after 30 mins or so I got a bit concerned. It was now after 0900 hrs ! I Then did a search in my dingy the whole beach looking for hers as it might be pulled up the sand, no sign of it anywhere ! I then thought she might have carried on her Xmas eve party on someone else's boat. So I went all around the boats at anchor looking for her dingy. this took a good 30 minutes, time now was 1000 hrs ! and couldn't find it at all, having not found her dingy anywhere I was now getting very worried ! I then thought I would do one more search of the beach, if I couldn't find it I would call a 'May Day' emergency call on the VHF. for a missing person and dingy, she might have drifted out to sea ! I started at the boat yard end and spotted her dingy pulled out and at the entrance to the yard, I hadn't seen it the first time cause looking for it tied up. She had a friend staying in a cottage so I then assumed she hadn't made it back to her boat and had stayed there for the night, whew! As it was now obvious there was no breakfast  going to happen it being 1015 I went back to my boat, opened my pressy and card and had a couple of slurps of wine to cheer myself up. I have to insert here every time I leave the boat I turn off the VHF radio to save battery power. 
Having had my private Xmas morning party in the cockpit alone, I went down below at approx 1115hrs and switched the radio on to call Susie up as she must be back on board by now...No reply... called again.. the boat next to her answered and the Lady told me she had already gone ashore on the 'Serenading' around the island ! they had forgotten me ! The Lady then told me what had happened, Susie woke up about 1000 hrs and found her dingy gone ! she tried calling me but I was still looking for it, then someone told her it had been found drifting by a local fisherman and he had taken it to the boat yard and pulled it out. The Lady said she was such a lucky woman not to have lost it completely, by the time she got it back she was already late for the serenading and in the rush did call me but I was at that time in my cockpit no radio having a couple of drinky poo's. They then left and left me behind. So I stayed on the boat all day alone on Xmas Day.
Here ends Part one

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Catch up February

Hi all, sorry again for the big gap in my postings, all due by not getting internet.

I went to Union Island for New Year, Chatham Bay, that's another story that will have to wait in the telling,
After that I had some more work to do back in Carriacou, repair a hole in the dinghies bottom.
 I then went to St Lucia to pick up my new sails. I had to then get back to Grenada for Sailing week which I had entered. Nearly didn't make it due to weather, It started on Jan 29 I got there on 27th. Had a great time good fun, it finished on 4th Feb.
At anchor at St Georges was 'Nero' the boat I helped build in China! The Engineer was already here having left it 9 years ago, we quizzed the crew and found out 2 guys from China were still working on board, Electrical guy I handed the  new boat too and the Engineer John handed over too! WoW! We had a reunion party in Port Louis Marina catching up on the last ten years.

I am now waiting for a weather window to go back to St Lucia