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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.

Splashed part 2

We’ve now had one night on the water. Compared to being on the hard it was bliss. Sheer bliss.

The day was quite busy. I went to the little Island Water World outlet at 8am to pick up some fast setting compound that would allow us to reseal the starboard stern trim. I paid off the sail maker next door and talked to the yard office to see if we could still get in the water that day. We arranged to go in last and if the workers were not ready, we’d postpone til Tuesday.

Helen and I then set about sealing the remaining trim at the starboard waterline. Helen then cleaned the side of the boat not realizing the polishers were coming later to finish of the gelcoat work. I performed maintenance on the outboard which meant greasing it (and myself).

As the day went by we had worker scurrying all over the boat doing the little items left to the last minute. We had a couple of fixes required around the gooseneck (the join between the boom and the mast) which was holding up our fitting the mainsail. At least this work was started.

Around lunchtime I met up with Mike from Jeannius. We’d known each other from an online forum and had met once before in St Martin. This is an out of the way back of the woods place to bump into each other again but we enjoyed catching up over a few beers at the bar. It was just as we were finishing that Helen showed up forlornly with her broken eReader desperately hoping it was fixable. A cracked display is beyond my (and I believe any) capability to repair bar replacing the component. Helen is currently looking up her warranty info in case we’re perhaps covered for this.

Back on the boat the gooseneck work had been completed so we set about putting the mainsail back on. We had just enough time to put it on and set up the lazy bag before we were to splash. In between we’d managed a test of the windlass to ensure we had no nasty surprises and sudden panics out on the water.

The boat was easily lifted and taken to the dock. Unfortunately, the boat in front of us (another catamaran) had problems with it’s diesel engines and hadn’t yet left the slip. A ladder was at hand so we could board Dignity as she dangled in the air. I threw down some of the beers which we still have left from Martinique (I’ve gone off them) for the workers while we prepd the lines for lowering.

In the end, the cat in front was manhandled out of the slip around the side to let us out. We were in and out quite quickly. We got the usual reminder/query to turn on our engines before leaving. We reminded them we were on electric power which they thought was cool.

From our perch in the cradle we’d already decided where to anchor. We headed straight for our target and dropped the hook. It stuck first time. This new anchor is a dream.

I then tested the genset for about 30 mins as well as all the A/Cs aboard. Not that we use them really but it’s good to use equipment from time to time to stop it from seizing up. All was well.

We fired up the water maker for 6 hours to fill our tanks then settled down to enjoy our new surrounds. Helen made a great curry – the first since we were last in the water.

Today we still have much to do. Our first wash is currently going. We need to get the dinghy in the water and the outboard on. We will have to put the second reefing line onto the main sail. The first reefing line will have to wait until our parts arrive late this week (or early next).

We’ll probably move Dignity down the coast later today – probably to Clarke’s Court Bay – where we are a little closer to things.