10 Jan 2011

[Captains Blog] Union Island

Whales and storms. You might not think that this is a marriage made in heaven, but let me tell you, it definitely is. We were heading up to Carriacou on Sunday from Grenada when we were blown well offshore by the easterly winds that we initially thought would herald the onset of the trade winds - already two months late and conspicuously absent. How wrong we were. The combination of the tide and the winds pushed us further and further away from our destination, but the silver lining in the cloud was our first sighting of a whale a mere 20 yards ahead across our bow. We stopped in our tracks to get the best view of the whale, probably 20 feet in length, a browny colour with a snub nose. Not being whale officianados, we hazarded a guess that this was a right whale (it certainly wasn't a wrong whale!) which having crossed our bow, turned and swam parallel to our boat for a period of time, blowing water through its blowhole close by. As things have turned out, we googled it and found it was actually a Sperm Whale. Eventually we lost sight of it and continued on our not so merry way for the last hour and a half of our journey crashing through a storm to drop the anchor in 5 metres of water in Tyrrel Bay just before the sun sank beyond the horizon.

During the night, the wind increased to 35 knots (according to our resident weather expert, David on "Fandango") but with 40 metres of chain we didn't move an inch. It didn't stop Debra and me from getting up every hour or so to check we weren't dragging, but that's the pleasure of being in charge of the boat. On Monday, we tied up to a mooring buoy at Sandy Island off Carriacou to do some swimming and to have our feet 'refreshed' by the fish nibbling at our toes in the lagoon on the Caribbean side of the island. Returning to the boat in time for cocktails,  we sat and watched a terrific storm brewing over the island before it hit us with a vengeance. Weathering the storm on standby in case we dragged our mooring, we realised that the moorings were much stronger than we imagined, and we went to bed secure in the knowledge that we were safe for as long as we wanted to be.