31 March 2011

Day 449: Grenada Marine – 31/03/11

As usual, when we arrive at the boatyard, no one is there working on the boat.  We have been assured that things will get going but there is definitely no evidence of this until later in the morning when someone actually turns up to finish cleaning the hulls.

Mike goes down to see the project manager – the guy under the hulls has disappeared by 11.30 am and we are anxious to make sure someone else comes to take his place.  We are assured that someone will!

No one has arrived by 2 pm so Mike goes to see the project manager again and is again assured that this mysterious someone will appear – soon.  Actually someone does arrive – the guy to finish off the prop shaft seal which at least means the boat won’t sink when it’s put back in the water.  I really start to lose it at this point and threaten to go down and see the project manager myself but Mike doesn’t want me to.  Instead I go and see Rosemary and have a moan with her.  Crazy Horse is suffering the same frustrations – promises of tomorrow in the water but no evidence of work to allow them to do this.

While all this is going on our boat is being surveyed for the insurance for going back into charter.  At 3.45 pm I tell Mike I have had enough and am going to see the project manager regardless of what he says and I am told that the guy has arrived to do the work but has just gone off to get some materials.  At 3.45?  They all knock off at 4 pm.  But obviously someone wants the overtime because a few minutes later he arrives and starts work.

P1070566 Photo:  Progress at last

Mike gives the guy two cans of beer (warm of course as the fridge has been switched off for the last four days) and he paints his little heart out.  He has nearly finished the first coat when we leave at 5 pm which means the second coat can go on in the morning.  Hurray!  We might just be in the water tomorrow after all.

We are late back to the hotel and Mike and I can’t be bothered to go for a swim but a hot shower (to remove all the noxious chemicals from my legs ie DEET which incidentally the mosquitoes seem to be attracted to given the number of bites I have got recently) really hits the spot.

We go down to join Rosemary, Bill and Matt at the bar – the survivors of Grenada Marine – hopefully. 

P1070567 Photo:  Mike, me, Bill, Rosemary and Matt

P1070572 Photo:  Matt with Carol and Sammy, two of the lovely staff at La Sagesse

I am horrified to find that they have run out of Sauvignon Blanc (the bar staff hint that I may have drunk them dry but I think this is overstating the fact!) and have to do with a glass of something else – on the house.  Matt then ‘forces’ me to have a tequila shot, something I never do, but amazingly it goes down easily.

P1070573 Photo:  Down it goes – Matt is a bad influence

P1070575 Photo:  Finished – please don’t ‘make’ me have another one!

We leave the Thomas family to eat and go back to our room, Mike to flop on the bed and doze and me to catch up on the blog.  When I finish, I leave Mike snoring and join Rosemary, Bill and Matt in the restaurant until they are ready to retire.  We all leave with one thought – will we be in the water tomorrow?

30 March 2011

Day 448: Grenada Marine – 30/03/11

It’s back to the marina again and amazingly when we arrive there is a little man already under our boat taking off the sail drive seal and draining it of sea water.  Progress.

Then the side window covers arrive and get fitted making the boat feel instantly cooler.  However, it’s the little men doing the painting underneath that I want to see. 

During the morning Basia arrives into the bay and we watch as she is brought out of the water on the Travel Lift.  She is placed into position opposite us and for the first time you can see the tremendous damage that was done below the water line.  If the bows were not constructed as foam filled ‘crumple zones’, neither she nor her crew would probably be here today.  I meet up with the crew, Anna, Basia and Michael, in the bar when I am on yet another laundry run (wherever does it all come from?).  Bev and Moe are also with them and will be staying on board in the boatyard until we are back in the water when they will transfer to Jeannius.

After lunch some men do arrive and start to rub down the hulls.  They are the same crew who did the work before the World ARC and Mike finds them standing and admiring their work from last time.  Just get on with this present job, guys.  Every day we are delayed means another day’s hotel bill!

Rosemary and Maryann arrive in the afternoon and come over for a look at Jeannius.  Maryann is at a loss to understand how one can live in those two thin hulls but once she sees the arrangement she is amazed at just how spacious it all is and how much storage is available.

Everyone goes back to La Sagesse in the evening, including the crew of Basia and Bev and Moe.  Mike and I join them all on the beach for a swim before another nice long shower.  We fully intend eating in our room but I plead when I see lobster on the menu again and Mike is easy to persuade.  We both have dessert tonight!

29 March 2011

Day 447: Grenada Marine – 29/03/11

We meet up with Matt and Bill and get a lift to the boatyard.  There are no little men under our boat working away – surprise, surprise!  However, during the morning our new front window covers arrive and get fixed on which is a start.

I do more washing and on my return to the boat Mike greets me with the great news that the solar panels do not appear to be charging the batteries.  He goes down into the black hole and comes out with a fuse which he hopes is blown then goes off to buy a new one (and a spare).  When he returns and pops it in, they still don’t charge.  Eventually he works out that it is not the panels, and it’s not the controller (nor the fuse) but is in fact due to a problem with the fuse holder.  He can’t see well enough to work out whether there is corrosion in it but there’s a spare slot and when he puts the fuse in that one and moves the wires over, it all works again.  Thank God!

When he has finished he is literally dripping with sweat (nice) and covered in oil and I refuse to let him inside the boat but send him off to the boatyard showers instead.  He comes back nice and clean.

Bill comes up with his bolt cutters to help Mike cut the chain off the anchor.  Our anchor is now a rusting heap and Mike bought a nice new one in Cape Town but hasn’t been anywhere he can fit it until now.  It takes a few goes but eventually they manage to chop through the 1/2 inch chain.

P1070537 Photo:  With bolt cutters in place, they go in search of some pipe to get more leverage

P1070544 Photo:  Put your backs into it, boys!

With none of the work having been started that we have been hauled out for, Mike goes in search of the project manager.  We are assured that everything will start tomorrow.  We will see.  Around 4.30 m our lift back to the hotel arrives and Matt and I go straight in the sea for a swim.  He tries to get me to surf into the beach on the waves but all I do is end up with a wave over my head and come up spluttering and cursing.  Ever trusting I have another go and end up with the same result.  I give up.

We join the others for a drink in the evening , fully intending to head back to our room for our little supper.  However, the specials board says they have local lobster and we give in and stay to eat.  My lobster is GOOD!  Mike gives in even further than me and has the chocolate mousse for desert.  We have a good laugh over dinner.  A very enjoyable evening.

28 March 2011

Day 446: Back to Grenada Marine – 28/03/11

I discover to my horror, that Mike wasn’t joking when he talked last night about setting the alarm at 5.15 am.  When it goes off, I nearly jump out of my skin, but thankfully he tells me I can lie there a bit longer while he makes the tea.

Bev and Moe arrive just before 6 am to help us cast off.  Poor Bev - as she stands there getting bitten by mosquitoes, I really know I am back in the Caribbean!

It’s a beautiful morning and the sunrise over St George is absolutely beautiful.  The water in the bay is dead calm and reflects the colours back and it’s difficult to tell where the sky ends and the water begins.

P1070504 P1070512 P1070513 P1070502 Photos:  Leaving St George

On the way out, we pass the giant ship Eos, the largest private yacht in the world (if you count the bow sprit into the equation – if not it’s second to the Maltese Flacon).  Eos is beautiful.  We watched in awe as this 93 metre boat slid effortlessly into position in the marina yesterday.

P1070495 Photo:  Eos dwarfing everything else in the marina

The motor down to the south east tip of Grenada but as we turn the corner and head east, we are fighting the current and the headwinds although thankfully neither are that strong today.  It takes us almost three hours to get there and we anchor in the bay outside.  I can’t believe we have travelled so far since the last time we were here.

P1070515 Photo:  Back at Grenada Marine

We get the anchor down and Mike calls the marina to tell them we are there.  Although we aren’t due to be hauled out until 10.30 am they tell us we can come straight in so we get the anchor up and Mike motors over and manoeuvres Jeannius into the slip.  A couple of guys come to take our lines and tie us in nice and tight then the Travel Lift arrives, making its peculiar musical pipping noise as it approaches.

P1070517 Photo:  In position and the Travel Lift approaching

The lift arrives and the thick band supports are lowered into the water below Jeannius and along her hull, then they start to bring them back up.  One minute you are safely in the water and the next you are swinging slightly in mid air – it’s a peculiar feeling.  The lift then reverses until we are able to step from the transom onto dry land and then reverses until it is fully over land so that it can be jet cleaned.  They manage to get most of the green stuff off (and Mike and I thought we had done such a good job on the beach in Brazil) but there’s a bit left along with some barnacles.

P1070520 Photo:  This is nothing compared to what Mike and I scraped off in Brazil

P1070525 Photo:  Jeannius getting a jet wash

Matt and Bill arrive to say hello.  They had hoped that the work on their boat would be further along than it is – hey boys, welcome to the Caribbean!

As soon as Jeannius is cleaned she is moved to her permanent position for the next few days.  We follow behind, me, as always, somewhat nervously.

P1070531 P1070529 P1070532 Photos:  Moving and parking Jeannius

Once in position, we wait for people to turn up and do some work.  Of course they don’t.  Well that’s not quite true.  Martin from Turbulence, the sail makers, arrives to take our salon shades away for templates to make us new ones as the old ones are disintegrating and discusses the sail repairs.  Of course, the sails and the window covers are the things that the boat does not need to be out of the water for.  The antifouling and the new propeller seal are the things what need this and no one comes to look at these.  Such is the order of things in boatyards!

I spend time sewing and taking washing to and from the laundrette.  We eat on board and I pack stuff for breakfasts at the hotel.  All too quickly the car arrives to take us to La Sagesse, along with Matt and Bill who are staying there too.

When we arrive, Rosemary and her sister, Maryann, are waiting on the beach for us.  Matt, Bill and I go for a swim to cool off then Matt and I go for a nice long stroll along be beach.  Once the sun goes down I head back to the room for a nice long shower.

In the evening we go down to the bar to join everyone for a drink.  Annie and Jim are now also checked in so there’s a good group of us there.

P1070533 Photo:  Matt, me and Maryann


Photo:  Jim, Bill and Mike

Mike and I don’t stay for dinner but head for our room for a light snack then dive into bed.  It’s comfortable and the sound of the waves right next to our room just yards away soon lulls me to sleep.

27 March 2011

Day 445: St George, Grenada – 27/03/11

I wake just after 5 am which does not impress me at all.  At least the torrential rain during the night has washed most of the salt off the boat which has saved me the job of doing it.

The buses leave for the island tour heading north.  Leaving St George, we head north, pausing on the hill to look back at the capital.

P1070378 P1070380 Photos:  St George, the capital of Grenada

Our first stop is a nutmeg tourist shop.  Well, not just nutmeg but cocoa products, soap, rum and candles, the usual sort.  Quite a bit of shopping gets done but Mike and I are conscious of not adding to huge pile of stuff we have to get off the boat next month and leave with nothing.

The island is very lush and there are flowers everywhere.  Our driver and guide, Mandoo, is an environmentalist and does lots of voluntary work in schools teaching children to look after their island, pick up rubbish when they see it and be friendly to the tourists as they are the island’s lifeblood.  It seems to be working.  Grenada is one of the friendliest of the Caribbean islands.  As the bus passes through little villages, people turn and wave with genuine smiles on their faces.  Coming from Brazil where you couldn’t get a smile from anyone you smiled at on the street, it’s a welcome change.  The roadsides are not littered with rubbish and if the local men would just stop walking around with machetes, it would be near perfect.

Sunday is church and laundry day, with brightly coloured washing hanging from lines at nearly every house.  If the houses are on stilts, the washing is hung underneath so protect it from the downpours.

P1070383 Photo:  Wash day

The roadsides are littered with conch shells, attractively arranged on husks of nutmeg to keep the weeds down.  Some people have even used egg shells to decorate the plants in their gardens

P1070384  P1070386 P1070401 Photos:  Conch shells and egg shells are used to decorate

We visit a rum distillery.  The first part is not used any more but is where the sugar cane used to be crushed and the juice, extracted then the remaining fibres taken away on a little train to be used as mulch.   It’s like a snapshot of a former industrial life.

P1070412 P1070414 P1070415 Photos:  Extracting the sugar can juice – the old way

Of course nowadays the process is much more refined but we don’t get to see that.  However, as we leave the old part of the distillery, the smell of molasses becomes overwhelmingly strong – a smell so beautifully thick and sweet you can almost taste it.  In the next building we see the molasses pouring into a huge tank, whilst in the adjacent tanks the fermentation is already taking place and huge, foamy bubbles are forming on the surface.  It smells like treacle.  Mmmm.

P1070422 P1070424 Photos:  Looking pretty disgusting, but smelling delicious, the fermentation stage

P1070425 Photo:  Mike at the modern day business end of the process

Next stop is lunch.  This is a buffet affair of local food in a lovely plantation setting.  However, the owners are Seventh Day Adventists and the only wine on the menu is non-alcoholic.  It tastes more like apple juice gone wrong than anything else – there are several disappointed faces around the table and I am glad that I stick to the free guava juice!

P1070428 Photo:  Mike and I snuggled up in the ‘love seat’ letting our lunch go down

P1070434 Photo:  Jutta sits all alone in the smokers’ corner

Of course, like everywhere you stop on these tours, there’s an opportunity to buy.  Here it’s the usual tourist tat and a chocolate shop – homemade local chocolate.  The crews are like bees around a honey pot, including my husband.

P1070435 Photo:  Sweet-toothed men

P1070438 Photo:  Cocoa beans drying in the sun

There are a few more stops to make on the way back, but the guide has promised to get us back by 3.30 to 4 pm.  As the clock keeps ticking, poor Charlie sitting next to me gets more and more anxious.  She has a flight back to the UK to catch tonight and it begins to looks as though she won’t make it.  We stop by the side of the road as there are some monkeys hanging around there.  Once I’ve taken some photos I’m happy to go but people seem to want to stay for ages.  I think Charlie is ready to shoot the monkey just so we can get a move on.

P1070450 Photo:  John from Tzigane finds a new friend!

We eventually get back to the marina and Charlie shoots off to catch her flight leaving the rest of us to wander sedately back to our boats.  Mike has developed a headache and needs to lie down before the evening’s celebrations but I go down to Chessie to have a drink with Jochem as today is his birthday.

P1070477 Photo:  Me with Jochem, the birthday boy

P1070479 Photo:  Jim, Annie, Jochem and me

I have a couple of glasses of bubbly and a piece of delicious chocolate cake that Annie has made for the day, then go back to Jeannius to get ready for the evening.  Walking past Basia on the way, I can see close up the damage that has been done.  The fact that she was able to keep motoring for a further 1200 miles after the collision is a testimony to the shipbuilders, Alliaura, and to the crew themselves.

In the evening it’s the prizegiving.  The marina put on a great spread and the rum punch is lethal.  There is a poignant speech from Anna on Basia, thanking ourselves, Eowyn and Tucanon and Jim from Ocean Jasper stands up with a speech of thanks from the rest of the rally too.  It’s a good evening.  Apart from the one rum punch, I stay away from any alcohol as we have to be up early in the morning to get to the boatyard.

P1070481 Photo:  Me and Jutta

I wonder why Suzanna looks so tall this evening until she reveals her killer heels.  With the rest of us wearing variations of flip flops, she’s towering over us.  While us girls admire the shoes, the male contingent admire her rather beautiful legs.

P1070487 Photo:  No explanation needed

P1070488 Photo:  Mike and I

As the evening starts to wind down, Mike and I head off for bed.  He is muttering something about setting the alarm for 5.15 am.  I try my hardest not to listen.

26 March 2011

Day 444: St George, Grenada – 26/03/11

I wake up some time after 5 am, not feeling like death (which I should) but not exactly on top form.  I lie there for a couple of hours in the twilight zone before my need for a cup of tea overrides my desire to stay in bed.  For once, Mike stays inert.  I think he’s faking sleep but let him get away with it for once.

A quiet day in the marina is just what is called for and that’s what we have.  I manage to update all the blog with the photos from the recent passage and do a little tidying up.  Bev and Moe bring their bags over – they are doing the last bit of the rally with us along with Bev’s dad, Stuart, who we met in Mauritius.

In the evening we go for a meal in the marina and join Graham and Mike from Eowyn, and Rui and Anna from Thor VI.  I am craving fresh green stuff and opt for a Caesar salad with blackened chicken, very simple and very good – washed down with water.  We are doing an island tour tomorrow and I want to enjoy it!

25 March 2011

Day 443: Brazil to Grenada – 25/03/11

I wake up to the most awful crashing and banging.  The boat is being thrown around like the proverbial corkscrew and the waves are crashing against the side.  It wasn’t like this when I went to bed.  I lie there trying to get back to sleep but a few minutes later Mike comes to get me anyway for my watch and I sleepily drag myself out of bed.

I am greeted with heavy seas, current which is running fast and in the opposite direction to the wind, a crap speed of only 3.5 to 4.5 knots despite winds of over 20 knots and a large freighter on the horizon.  Mike makes his escape to bed and I watch the blob on the radar which, over the next half an hour, is joined by another three large blobs.  There are now four very large vessels in the vicinity.  Great!  Then a fishing vessel appears and I stand and watch it getting closer although it passes about a mile away on our port side.

I get through the watch, grateful that it is the last one for a long time, and don’t hang around when Mike appears to take over.  When I wake up, Grenada is there, an indistinct shape rising through the haze.  The sea is still incredibly choppy and we are still going really slowly.  Mike explains that when he switched the port engine on there was an explosion of white polystyrene.  He had immediately switched the engine off as it was obvious that we had some sort of fishing contraption caught around our propeller.  I can’t believe it.  It was probably strung out from the fishing boat I saw last night but I looked very carefully and didn’t see a lit buoy anywhere around it.  How the hell are you supposed to see these things in the night?

We limp along, crashing through confused sea, wondering what the bloody hell we have trailing behind us and we suddenly realise, at 10.56 am as we go around the south western corner of Grenada, that WE HAVE NOW CIRCUMNAVIGATED THE WORLD!  I still don't feel like a sailor, rather a reluctant, truculent passenger who now and again presses buttons and  helps Mike deal with the flappy bits!  Sigh.

As we approach the capital of Grenada, St George, we are given the order in which to approach; Tucanon, poor old Basia then Eowyn.  Mike wants to stay outside in the anchorage and dive under the boat to clear our propeller before going in but I want to go in with the others, even if it means turning around and going straight out again, which is what we eventually do.

As we approach the finish line. last of course, we start to hear the welcome committee well before we see them.  About 6 dinghies filled with people have come out to greet us all.  They are all waving and shouting, some wearing wigs, but all of them contributing to the welcome cacophony by blowing horns, trumpets, whistles and something which makes a noise like a bleating sheep.  It is a wonderful welcome after a difficult passage.  A returning charter boat looks on in amazement wondering what the hell is going on before joining in with the cheering.

P1070349  P1070360 P1070361 Photos:  Some of our wonderful welcome committee

No sooner are we in, than we turn around and head back out to the anchorage just outside the marina.  Mike puts his snorkelling gear on and goes over the side, complaining as he does that the water is cold.  It only takes 10 minutes but when he reappears it is with a couple of polystyrene floats and a load of polypropylene rope.

P1070367 Photo:  We dragged this with us from the north of Tobago – three times as much blew up when the engine was switched on!

We immediately pull the anchor up and re-enter the marina, proudly flying our new red ensign.  I wouldn’t let Mike take the old one down until we had completed our circumnavigation.

P1070365 Photo:  Flying the flag

P1070359 Photo:  Re-entering the marina

P1070358 Photo:  St George

There are many hands to help us tie up and then the hugs begin, lots of them from our ‘fleet family’.  Suzanna arrives with a rum punch for us.  We pose for our arrival photo, me completely forgetting that I still have my ghastly hat on!  Ah well, it has travelled with me for 25,000 miles.  Who am I to deny it its moment of fame!

P1070369 Photo:  Circumnavigators!  Mike, me and the bloody hat!

We are told that we have to be at the bar, like right now, so off we go.  Once there, the hugs, kisses and tears start in earnest, and the drinks start arriving, starting with one of the most lethal rum punches I have ever tasted – and finished.  After a couple of glasses of wine as well, I am practically done for.  With little sleep and nothing to eat since last night, the alcohol hits me like sledge hammer (Mike has by this time disappeared to deal with the customs and immigration people). 

P1070372 Photo:  Going … (with Eline, Bev and Anna)

P1070378 Photo:  Going … (with Annie and Jutta)

P1070377 Photo:  And most definitely, gone!

Anna escorts me back to the boat.  It is now 5.30 pm and we are supposed to attending a welcome party on Tzigane.  I manage to strip myself off, clean my teeth and flop out on the bed.  I have no knowledge of Mike leaving to go to the party, or of him returning.  I sleep until 11 pm, wake, drink some water, have a slice of bread and go back to sleep.  My bed doesn’t move and the boat is quiet.  Bliss!


Our position is:  12 deg 02 min N, 61 deg 44 min W

Distance so far:  24539 nautical miles