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First full day back on the water

Tuesday was another demonstration that life afloat is far from a life of lazing around.

First order of the day was sorting out Helen’s return for her eReader. That lead to having to get the printer working for her laptop. This started to take longer than we expected so we put this on hold to splash the dinghy. This is simple enough. We tie the genekar halyard to the tow point, Helen winches the dinghy up onto its end which I man handle it over the safety lines. Once over it is gently lowered into the water.

Then came the dinghy cleaning. Helen started but soon felt sick so I took over and finished with Helen giving instructions from the deck. On went the the outboard, fuel tank, anchor/chain and locking chain. The outboard started fine.

I then went ashore to settle our bill while Helen went back to trying to get the printer to work. I had to argue off one item of work which we hadn’t ordered (a topside wax and clean). I think some of the work was done before we stopped it. They took this off the bill without question. I paid off the Island Water World bill and the bar bill too.

Around this time, Mike from Jeannius, was watching his boat being hauled so we had a little chat before parting ways. He’s joining the World ARC next year in which we know another entry, Bristol Rose. We’re keeping an eye on their timetable so hopefully we’ll meet up sometime and crash one of their parties.

Back on Dignity I hauled the dinghy onto the davits then helped Helen finish configuring the printer and get her return docs printed.

Given that there was possibly bad weather coming in later that day we decided to move the boat round to Clarkes Court Bay before lunch. With the bottom and props so clean and smooth we slid through the water better than ever. We were only motor sailing as I wanted to perform a duration test (and it was not worth the bother of raising sails). We were making 6.5 knots through the water. The seas were 4-6 feet so this was not bad at all considering we weren’t pushing into the range where we draw power from the genset and the batteries simultaneously. With the addition of the current we were making 8 knots over ground at times.

On entering Clarkes Court Bay we decided to anchor near the bridge to Hog Island for a change. We anchored in about 35 feet of water putting out 150ft of chain. The anchor again set very well.

We then had lunch followed by a little rest. I then set off in the dinghy to visit nearby boats. My first stop was to PK3 who had my inline fan which I’d left in Trinidad. He also had the second hand sea anchor we’d agree to buy off another boat. I didn’t have the money for it so I’ll pick that up today. I then popped over to Lilly Maid to see Mick who we’d once talked to about helping (for a fee) us install out second windlass. He was pretty confident it was all simple stuff. Given that he had a big job on elsewhere, he encouraged me to do this myself. Chances are we may just do this.

My final stop was to say Hello to Dianne on Jabulani. I ended up stopping for nearly an hour. She had some good information and thoughts about the islands off Venezuela which has influenced our thinking (see later).

The skies started to darken so I sped back to Dignity to avoid getting wet. Back aboard I joined Helen who had been doing a lot of reorganizing of things. I wanted to move my electrical bits and pieces to somewhere I could get to more easily and use the existing locker for the spares arriving by ship this week. So I set about doing all that, sorting everything into near term needs, long term needs which went into another box and catalogued and stuff to throw away.

Shortly after we finished this a nasty squall hit. Winds were in the 30s and we swung nearly 180 degrees. The anchor held firm although we had to keep an eye on the next boat who came quite close. I figure they must have had around 200ft of anchor chain/line out to have closed the distance when they swung.

A few other bits and pieces were accomplished, the main one being the test of the side band radio and sending email over it. It worked fine.

We eventually settled in for the evening; dinner, show on the laptop and reading.  Well – I say that – it wasn’t that simple.  After dinner, a glass of wine and a couple of beers I went to haul the dinghy.  With the boat spinning around in the squall earlier in the afternoon the line attaching it to the boat had got tangled around the rudder and prop.  As it was near dark I had to get a dive light and my face mask and snorkel and jump in to remedy the situation.  It was all a little disorienting but in the dark but I managed to untangle it all with one breath.  After that it was shower and relaxing.

So here’s the latest thinking. We want to get to Panama a week ahead of the kids, ie on the 13th of December. That gives us some leeway for bad weather, problems, etc. We also want to spend 2-3 weeks in Cartegena, Colombia. We want to do some diving in Bonaire but no more than 2 weeks in the whole of the ABCs. That doesn’t leave much time for the Venezuelan islands and the area call Los Roques seems to have it all.

We’ve therefore decided to leave Grenada, if we can, the middle off next week and sail 290nm direct to Los Roques. We’ll spend up to two weeks there before heading to Bonaire. We’ll leave there around the middle of November and sail approx 380nm to Cartegena and stay until the 10th of December (or thereabouts). That means we probably won’t have time to do the windlass work before we leave but as Mick said, we can do it all ourselves. I’m sure we’ll have the time somewhere along the way.

Today we plan to go into town to do the first round of paperwork to receive our supplies. At the same time we’ll do our first round of provisioning for the next month. We’re assuming food on Los Roques is going to be scarce and/or expensive so we want to be independent. This means having enough non-perishables aboard to survive the duration. If we pick up fresh food along the way then all the better. I’ll also pay for and pick up our sea anchor. This will create a cleaning job as it’s a bit damp and smelly. This evening we’ll go to the burger night at Clarkes Court Bay Marina for the last time.

With one week left time here now seems quite short. Tomorrow we expect to head round to Prickly Bay for the last time and then a few days later we’ll head round to St George’s for the last time. Much of our time will be spent on essential projects, provisioning, checks and prep for the trip west.

We’re both quite excited as this will be the next big step for us. The eastern Caribbean was always intended to be our confidence builder and lesson learner. Both have been accomplished. We feel a lot more confident with the boat and ourselves. The sail to Los Roques is 2 full days – the longest we have done by far and we have greater distances ahead. This is going to be the start of our next phase taking us all the way to New Zealand.  It’s going to be new and exciting. Can’t wait.

Life in the slow lane

The brakes seem to have gone on and life has slowed down a bit. Some do say that this is what we should have been like all along. Maybe.

Not that nothing has happened since I last blogged. We had a good evening with Mike and Jackie a couple of days ago. It was their first time on a dinghy so we had the usual fun associated with uncertainty. But no one ended up in the drink although the opposite did happen a few times. (Note – they do advertise the local AA on the net in the mornings but I don’t think we have that big a problem)

Yesterday we moved round to Clarke’s Court Bay as part of our gradual migration to St David’s for our haul out – which we’ve now postponed to Monday. Before leaving it was goodbyes with Matt and Karen from Where II. They are heading west next week so it’s highly likely we’ll not meet up again before they go. There’s a strong chance we’ll meet up in Bonaire in November but that’s not certain. They plan to spend more time in the Venezuelan islands than we do so a catch up is possible.

We met up with Jim at the marina burger night yesterday evening. We also met Dianne from Jabulani anchored nearby. She’s on her own and just getting onto her SSB project and can’t get it to work. I agreed to help out so have been round there this morning. We made some progress but Helen and I will go back later this evening when we’re more likely to get a good signal.

This morning I also had a quick chat with the folks on Lista Light who are due to take our last two 4D batteries. They’re pretty busy with a project list that dwarfs ours so they’ll be round at 8 this evening to look round the boat before we all head over and explore theirs.

The only other excitement this morning was being asked to move a little by the barge that moves the garbage as we were anchored in it’s route. Not sure why it couldn’t go around us but we wanted to get to cleaner water to fill the tanks.

Lazy day today

We need a rest so today we don’t intend to do much at all. Let’s see how that works out. Now to catch up.

Friday evening, while on the dock) we were joined aboard by the Where IIs, the Bristol Roses, the Arctic Terns and Diane from Jabulani.

It’s always pleasant when we have company aboard and this was no exception. The conversation was broad but the topic of batteries came up once or twice, either because I was getting the subject off my chest or others were interested.

Saturday morning was spent putting things away and/or back to where they should be. The removed drive battery was replaced and everything cleaned up and reconnected. Bar putting on a shackle (lent by Where II) to connect our new anchor to our new chain no projects were attempted yesterday. I did play catch up on some of my regular checks which have got a bit behind. Everything was fine. The morning was also spent catching up on ‘admin’ such as reading remote mail and paying bills – yach.

Late morning I paid and we said our goodbyes. We didn’t see Fletcher the very friendly night watchman but we promised to include his picture on the website – Hi Fletcher. We ate lunch aboard before setting off. Rene, who helps out a lot at Clarks Court Bay Marina, helped us leave. I showed him how an electric boat motors – no noise. I think he was impressed.

We then motored around to Prickly Bay as the winds were very low. The waters were calm so we glided along. At Prickly Bay we had our first chance to try our new anchor, a 57lb Manson Supreme. We’ve always been very pleased with our 44lb delta but even when it sets well there is always some hesitation as it ploughs its way into the sand. The Manson just set and let us know it was not going to budge without any hint of needing to settle in. The next test will be getting it out again. That won’t be for a few days. Our first impressions are very good.

We had an hour or so spare before we left for the Grenada Hash so we made a little water and this was when I caught up on my checks.

On our way to De Big Fish where we were going to leave the dinghy we popped by Sweet Caroline to congratulate them on their 50th wedding anniversary. At De Big Fish we bumped into the crew of Cirque de Soleil who we’d last met in Dominica and shared the Boiling Lake hike with (well – just Angie). We had a brief catch up before heading to the roundabout to catch a bus into town. In true local style we hadn’t quite made it to the roundabout when a local bus went past. The conductor had spotted us so the bus reversed and came back round the roundabout just to find out if we needed a ride. It seems crazy but it’s most welcome and a lot of fun.

We were soon down at the Caranage waiting for a pickup. Not long after we arrived, Mike and Jackie who we’d met on the first hash drove by on their way to the hash. They spotted us and soon we were chatting. They made room in their vehicle (they already had two passengers) and squeezed us in. This hash was not too far from town. The numbers were more than we’ve seen before, somewhere between 150 and 200 I reckon. A lot of these were new students at the St Georges medical school. We bumped into more cruisers who we’re beginning to recognize more including Jim from Bees Knees. I spent a little time on battery strategy with Jim (I have a one track mind at the moment).

The hike was basically a big scramble along what would be optimistically described as a single file track to the top of the highest peak around us and then a more leisurely descent first on a wider track and then on roads. Unfortunately we started near the back of the pack and many of the students were ahead of us. A number were out of shape and others kept stopping to take pictures which meant progress up the single track was incredibly slow. Whenever we could we skipped past the photo takers to try and pick up the pace. Along the way I lost my sunglasses as well as slipping over and getting a stick go in my eye (youch). I did take a photo when I couldn’t make any progress as the views were pretty good.

On the way I learned my reputation seems to be building. I was asked by Barb (a complete stranger to me at the point) if I was ‘the battery guy’. It seems that someone buying 36 golf cart batteries for their boat is becoming a talking point amongst the cruisers here. A few are beginning to show interest in my throwaways so I’ll be getting on the net soon to start lining up folks who would be happy to take old batteries off us and maybe even pay a little for some of the better ones. I met Diane (from the night before) once again and chatted for a while. Once we were on the road I ended up running the last mile or two. We’ve been constrained to the boat (mainly) for the last week and I felt the need to flush the system.

Back at the start we had a beer each but didn’t stop long as we had an urge for a Chinese meal at the restaurant near Prickly Bay. We started walking into town and made about a miles progress when a bus passed. On it were Devi & Hunter from Arctic Tern and Dianne and Barb. They had been more sensible and waited for the bus without walking. We parted company at the bus station as we had different onward busses to catch.

After dinghying back to the boat we showered then headed into Prickly Bay Marina to make our way to the Chinese Restaurant. It was a little further than we remembered – about a mile walk each way. The meal was very nice and the price even better.

Eventually, back on the boat it was straight to bed and to sleep. That was not without raising the dinghy as we usually do. I did open the drain between the inner and outer hulls and there was barely a trickle. I can close off the dinghy leak project – finally.

This morning my eye is pretty sore and red where the stick went in. Vision is unimpaired so I’m not concerned. Eye drops are helping so I’ll stick to that unless things get worse. I’ve checked on the house batteries. I never reconnected the worst battery. The charge levels this morning are the best we’ve seen. This will be some combination of the equalization and the removal of the crappy battery. The fact that the house batteries are worn as well as the drive batteries tells me they’ve had a rough life and it really is the best thing to replace the lot. The more I think about it the more I like the idea of adding the 4 spare batteries to the house circuit. That will really make life pleasant. The downside would be that we’d spend less time with them over 14V which means I could create a sulphation (or is it sulpatation) problem down the line unless I equalize periodically. If I do lose a cell somewhere I would have plenty of spare capacity in the house bank to remove a pair without suffering unduly until we can find a fair priced replacement. The future looks good.

So back to today. We don’t intend to do much. We think we’ve earned it.