26 Feb 2018

26/2/2018 : Bequia

At last, the winds are dying down, and hopefully that's the end of the Christmas Winds for this year. It's been incredibly windy but the anchor held well in the turquoise waters off Princess Margaret beach and so we slept soundly each night. We bumped into a couple we'd last seen in Charleston, south Carolina and spent some fun times together catching up on happenings in the two years since then.

On Friday we sailed over to St Vincent to collect Debra's aunt and uncle who arrived in a terrific downpour. We'd not seen anything like it this season and can only conclude they brought it with them! Saturday dawned cloudy and stayed like that all day (another first) but we're pleased to say Sunday and Monday have returned to their glorious best, thank goodness. Yesterday saw us lazing the morning away on the beach, snorkeling and swimming, before lunch in Jack's Bar. We were still there at 4pm when the DJ started ... great Caribbean sounds from a couple of Trinidadian soca music groups. Everyone was dancing, waitresses, barmen, chefs alike and a few cocktails later we got back to Tumi just before dark.

Today we did the Bequia island tour visiting the whaling museum, Fort Hamilton, and admiring the many views before ending up at Sugar Reef for lunch. Fabulous in every way.

So now we're having a snooze before heading ashore to live music tonight ... it's non-stop!  Mustique beckons tomorrow and then on down to the Tobago Cays.

20 Feb 2018

19/2/18: Bequia

We had an atrocious sail from Grenada to Bequia at the end of last week. The winds have been resolutely blowing strongly from the north-east making any journey further up the Windward Islands chain a tricky one. Still it was a journey we had to undertake with our next set of visitors due into St Vincent on the 23rd. So we looked at the forecast and picked what looked to be the best weather window to get us here in time. So expecting winds of between 15 and 20 knots ENE we set off and motor-sailed up the leeward side of Grenada only to hit high winds on the nose as we left the top of the island bound for Carriacou. We made it a little salt-encrusted fed-up but hopefully that the onward sail the following day to Bequia would be better. How wrong could we be. It was worse, all the eights ... Force 8 winds and 8' waves every 8 seconds. Through in the fact that one of the seams came unstitched on the foresail meaning we had to furl most of it away, it was a hard slog and one we don't want to be repeating any time soon.

So now we're relaxing in Bequia for a few days and are very glad to be back here. It's a beautiful small island with some great restaurants and lovely beaches, if still very windy. We managed to get the sail down in a 10 minute respite when the winds dropped and it's now at the sailmakers being restitched. But it's sunny and warm so we're not complaining!

17 Feb 2018

17/2/18: Carriacou

We waved Jon and Hannah off on Wednesday evening, quite literally as their plane flew directly overhead Tumi as we were at anchor in Prickly Bay! They seemed to enjoy Grenada and returned home accredited PADI open water divers ... something that will come in very useful when they come to see us in the Pacific next year!

We had a day out at a local hotel as guests of the management which made a nice change. I loved going out on a Hobiecat and put the ghost of St Lucia from five years ago well and truly behind me (I failed to get us back to shore that time, no such problem in Grenada!). Paul and Jon also enjoyed their time aboard.

We didn't get to do much sailing on this visit: Grenada, being at the bottom of the Windward Island chain, needs winds which are south of east to be able to "escape" and we had constant, strong north-easterlies .... the direction we needed to sail ... but we did get some spectacular sunsets.

After a day of laundry and re-provisioning, our usual routine before and after guests on board, we're now heading north into the Grenadines, destination Bequia. The winds remain north of east so we had to motorsail up to Carriacou yesterday and in all likelihood will have the same again today. But looking at the forecast for the next week, if we're to stand any chance of getting there in moderate east-north-easterlies, yesterday and today are the best options ... high winds start tomorrow until Thursday. So another hard beat today to Port Elizabeth and then we'll hunker down and ride out the blow!

8 Feb 2018

8/2/2018 : Grenada grand tour

We rented a car today to tour the island, the usual suspects for us but all new to Jon and Hannah. We kicked off at the Belmont Estate chocolate plantation after a pleasant drive up the windward side of the island. Even though it was our fifth visit in the last seven years we still enjoyed it and could answer all the questions!  Everything was very lush and green, especially after all the rain in January. Hannah jumped onto the trays to turn the drying beans, still done manually every thirty minutes by shuffling them with bare feet.

We continued north to the very top of the island for lunch at a small restaurant, set out on a terrace overlooking the stretch of water between Grenada and Carriacou.  Stunning.

After a very enjoyable lunch we wound our way to River Antoine rum distillery, dating back to 1765 and still using the same processes. Very labour intensive but good to be traditional. We sampled the runs ... or maybe that should be firewater and not rum!  Just about cauterized our throats but Paul manfully finished his .... and mine ... and Jon's!

Our return trip took us over the central mountain range (climbing to 1915ft) to see the Grand Etang caldera and lake (beautiful) before dropping down the west side and stopping to see Annandale waterfall.

Nearly nine hours later we returned to Tumi tired but we'd all thoroughly enjoyed our day.

3 Feb 2018

3 February 2018 - Grenada

We're back in Grenada again enjoying the sunshine and warmer seas. It is definitely cooler in the water in the islands north of here. The sail down from Martinique was a pleasure cruise. The winds were kind to us and the current was in our favour too. We passed pods of dolphins on the way,  including one particularly large one. We helmed all the way between us, stopping off for the night in Tyrrel Bay on Carriacou under the quarantine flag for a few hours sleep and we were off again on the last leg to Prickly Bay. Goose winging as we crossed the strait between Grenada and Carriacou, we passed close to Kick 'em Jenny, the underwater volcano that stirs up the seas around its some, but we passed it unscathed and continued on down the leeward side of the island. This is the sort of sailing we love to do.

By contrast, life since we got here has been simply maintenance and cleaning, both inside and outside the boat. I had to fix a dodgy navigation light yesterday. It had been showing an intermittent fault on our way south, so I took it apart to see what the problem was. It turned out that the terminals had corroded and it was working only when the wires touched. Anyway, I went to the chandler's to get some new terminals that compress around the wire when heated. Not cheap, but waterproof and that part is important as the light is on the bow and gets wet constantly. Anyway, it is fixed now. The other thing we have done is clean and polish the hull and topsides. Tumi positively gleams now, and the steelwork shines. We've hated doing it, it's hard work in the relentless sunshine, but the end product justifies the effort.