25 Nov 2010

[Cruise News] Phare Bleu Marina, Grenada

A good friend and neighbour, who lives between the UK and US, made a very valid point to me last week, that we are not on a vacation but are living a two-centre life so should expect to have colds, toothache, housework and other chores to do, just as we do at home.  She's totally correct and so, having finally kicked off a head cold, I launched with gusto into defrosting the fridge/freezer yesterday, remarkably all achieved in about 30mins given the air temperature!  And that was my job done for the day!

As a "reward" we hired a car today to spend the day exploring Grenada in more depth.  One rum distillery, herb & spice garden, waterfall and two crater lakes later, we returned to Pandora tired but happy.

We've moved around to a small marina for a couple of nights which is in the most lovely setting - quite the nicest marina I've come across ..... but that's not saying a lot!  It was a tight entrance and the berth we'd been allocated looked very narrow indeed.  But Paul did us proud, reversing from the bay all the way into the marina and straight into the berth first time!  The dock master complimented him on his prowess this early in the season and he's been receiving plaudits all day.  I even received a compliment for the calm and unflustered way I handled the mooring lines.  What stars!!

[Captains Blog] Grenada

Yesterday, we finally got our hands on the dreaded switch that was causing us to yo-yo between Carriacou and Grenada, and within 40 minutes, the new one was wired in, fitted and working. 

It's been a funny old week weather wise, with strong gusting winds and quite big seas as a result. We sailed back down the windward side of Grenada which was a much better passage until the last couple of hours when the wind decided to swing around right on our tail but shifting constantly from side to side making it difficult to goose-wing. Forecast is for 10-13 feet seas at the weekend when we are planning to head north again, so it could be a rough ride!

21 Nov 2010

[Cruise News] Back at Tyrrel Bay

I finally got my pizza tonight at the Lazy Turtle and it was worth waiting for ... fantastic.  Friday night's attempt was thwarted by the incredibly big swell in the bay making a beach landing inmpossible and then last night it was raining and blowing a gale.  But, wow, it was worth waiting for!!!!

[Captains Blog] Carriacou

Last night as we were watching a movie (Stardust, very cute) I had the impression that we might be dragging the anchor in the gale that was blowing outside. We had laid the anchor with 5 times the depth in length of chain, which had held for 2 days with no problem, but on this occasion it wasn't enough. So at the height of the storm, we were out on deck raising the anchor, motoring to a new location and re-setting said anchor, this time with 6 times the depth in length of chain. It held on the second attempt. But we were both absolutely drenched at this point, and the subsequent checks to see that we weren't dragging again didn't make for a good night's sleep.

happily, today dawned bright and sunny, albeit a bit breezy with winds of 20+ knots. Made for an interesting sail with 2 reefs in, but the rum cocktails at the end of the day helped to soothe the frayed nerves, and the sunset was glorious.

20 Nov 2010

[Cruise News] Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou

Well with my toes/shin healing nicely we've been sailing this week and have made it as far as Carriacou, the smaller sister island to Grenada where, apparently, it's possible to see a pelican sitting on a buoy with a sea-gull perched on its head!  Well we've seen plenty of pelicans on buoys but no sea-gulls as yet. The one on the right perched atop a solitary tree was photographed at Sandy Island.

The whole communication side of things is taking more time than we imagined it would, but please don't stop sending your emails which we love to receive.  It's more finding somewhere to sit quietly for a couple of hours to update the website, answer emails and make Skype calls without interruptions or losing the signal ....

We're eating well and making use of local produce as much as possible as imported goods are very expensive indeed! I'm becoming the master of one-pot cooking .... and dishing up some simple but tasty meals.

When we went ashore this morning to a small supermarket, in the hope of buying some fruit etc., we were disappointed to see empty shelves but just outside a local man, Rufus, told us he sells fruit and veg from his garden every Saturday morning so we followed him along the street to his stand and had our pick of fig bananas, papaya, tomatoes, green oranges, limes, a type of basil etc., so we came back laden down with his produce.

I have to say, whilst the range is limited, the flavours are great .... possibly the sweetest tomatoes I've ever had!  Must be something to do with all the sunshine .....

[Captains Blog] Carriacou

We sailed up to Carriacou two days ago, and spent the first night at Sandy Island, a small spit of the most idyllic coral sand you could ever imagine. The journey up from Grenada took us 8 hours, we lost the wind towards the north of Grenada, compliments of the mountains that are close to the west coast, and so had to motor sail for a short while until we cleared the north tip of the island. Pandora sails very close to the wind, and we can be bowling along into the wind, only 20 degrees off the bow. On our old boat we would have had to have been 40 degrees off to even get going!

We are currently at anchor in Tyrrel Bay after a very rolly night. It was a full moon and the tide was coming straight into the bay. Not helped by the wind which was keeping us side onto the roll and making for a restless night without a great deal of deep sleep. The weather is predicting high winds for the next few days (beaufort 5 25-30 mph) so we might not be doing much sailing unless we are triple reefed. However, the forecasters got it completely wrong the other day and so I live in hope! If the winds are reduced, we'll go around the island to have a look at Petit Martinique which is a duty free place with cheap fuel and Rum!

14 Nov 2010

[Cruise News] St Georges

We've not covered as many miles this week as we'd hoped following my (Debra's) accident on Monday so have contented ourselves motoring along the south coast and relaxing at anchor in beautiful bays.  In that respect the enforced rest has been a bonus - our anchoring skills are now honed to perfection, or so I like to think!

It's been hot, hot, hot this week, apparently unseasonably so given the high humidity levels.  The solution?  Lots of refreshing swims!  Tip to anyone visiting us: Don't bring much in the way of clothing!  Paul has taken to wearing a sarong for evenings onboard - very David Beckham, but cool of course.

We ventured into St Georges, the capital, yesterday on the local buses.  Packed to the gunwhales and with reggae music booming out, we felt very much one of the locals.  And for an extra EC$5 (approx. £1.25) the bus dropped us right back to the dinghy dock .... what service!

I've been allowed out of the galley tonight to have dinner ashore.  The trade-off is navigating home in the dinghy in the dark through a very narrow channel in the reef - better keep a sober head!  Cooking hasn't been a problem at all - the galley is relatively spacious, well equipped and laid out - and sea sickness hasn't been an issue so far, thank goodness.  Quite how I'd be "down below" in rough seas, I'm yet to find out.  It'll probably be Paul's turn that day ....

Looking forward to venturing a little further in the coming week so watch this space ...

[Captains Blog] Ready to resume normal expected service tomorrow

I wouldn't go so far as to say I am a happy chappie, but after a few days of enforced R&R due to Debra slipping on the bathing platform stepping off a dock, but the photo below is a bit of a giveaway!

We are ready to resume normal expected service tomorrow and are heading East along the South coast as far as we can realistically go, only to turn around the following day and head off to Carriacou in the Grenadines. Hopefully the underwater volcano (kick 'em Jenny) will allow us safe passage.

8 Nov 2010

[Cruise News] Hog Island and Clarks Court Bay

Having been marina bound for the first few days sorting out a few little jobs and familiarising ourselves with the working parts and equipment of Pandora, we actually got to go for a day sail yesterday - out around the coast to Hog Island and Clarks Court Bay. Dropped anchor in the bay to go for a swim, then lunch, swim, into the dinghy for a beer on the island at Roger's Beach Bar. Life is really tough here, as you can imagine!

[Captains Blog] Only plan to do one job a day

Mike has given me one sound piece of advice (nothing to to with Pandora on this occasion) "only plan to do one job a day" which I intend to take to heart. Today, I fixed the fuel pipe on the outboard. Job done by 8:00 therefore I get the rest of the day off.

6 Nov 2010

[Captains Blog] Almost ready

We've been on the boat 2 days now and are getting to know some of the things that make life easy on board. There have been a few jobs that needed doing that 4 months on the hard standing have caused, but with these out of the way (barring unforseen issues that have yet to rear their ugly heads), we are ready to go sailing tomorrow. So, this morning I was fitting a new danbuoy and life saver horseshoe, mending the handle that drops the bathing platform down, changing the shackles on the same piece of boat, and wrapping the joints that might chafe against the jib. Sails fitted yesterday, provisioning this morning (ouch!).

4 Nov 2010

[Captains Blog] The start of something new

I am getting more excited by the day. The sextant is packed and ready to go; I have downloaded the software to allow me to calculate our Lat & Long positions from myriad heavenly bodies; I have pored over Caribbean maps and charts; devoured Chris Doyles Windard and Leeward Islands guides; read about the flora and fauna to be found on the various islands, and I have still only scratched the surface!

There is so much out there to be explored, experienced and recorded for posterity. Bring it on!

The start of our journey is only a few days away now. Something to whet your appetite - here's the lovely boat Pandora in all her glory ....

1 Nov 2010

[Cruise News] T minus 3 days

Ready for the off now, have been tracking Hurricane Tomas on the news to see whether it would affect Grenada or not. Our international network of dynamic correspondents on the scene in Grenada (Nicola & Mike) have told us it passed to the north and that there are no real issues, and Pandora will be in the water in time for our arrival on Thursday.