Monday 1st July we weighed anchor at 7am and set off to do a recce at St David’s, where we are hauling out. We had hoped to pop our heads into the coves and inlets on the way down but the wind was up to 37 knots and ‘on the nose’, so we had a really hard beat covering 21nm in 5 hours - on a journey that was theoretically only 7nm long! Ocean Rainbow, heavily reefed as always, took it all in her stride. On entering the bay we were delighted to find Ishtar already at anchor and a short while later we heard the cheery voice of Franz on Kyory – he was out on the hard and had seen us sail in. Too good an opportunity to miss, Elwyn and Franz came over for sundowners and supper and a lot more story swaps as well as some practical exchanges of advice to aid our haul out preparations!
James went ashore to make an initial recce and was warmly welcomed by Grenada Marine staff and always reassuring, they confirmed our booking for a space and a hurricane cradle. On Tuesday we helped Elwyn bring Ishtar into the hoist for her haul out so having actually been through the motions once our haul out should be fairly straight forward. We then went to recce the hotel that had been recommended to us by Privateer. There is a short cut across the beach but we couldn’t find it so we walked the long way around (an hour in the sun!) to La Sagesse where we found the most lovely little boutique hotel nestled in the palm trees. We are now booked in for 3 nights before leaving for UK which means we won’t have to sleep on board Ocean Rainbow while she is out on the hard. What a treat.
Quite relaxed about everything we decided to weigh anchor and head back up the coast to check out some of the places we had missed. We spent the first night in Phare Bleu which is lovely with a great restaurant playing very mellow music! We did have a slight disaster on the way around – Puddle’s central securing bracket for the painter gave way and we spent a very worrying few miles in big seas with Puddle only secured by two points on her bridle. We are NEVER again going to tow Puddle, no matter how short the distance! On Wednesday morning, ashore at Phare Bleu we discovered Jenny’s Farm Produce – what a wonderful array of fruit and veg grown on her property and the prices are so reasonable. The little shop has wonderful fresh bread and fresh milk, so all in all a very nice little provisioning stop. On returning to the boat in strong winds it became obvious that Ocean Rainbow was dragging her anchor again! We are now getting paranoid! We have subsequently spent a considerable amount of time on the internet researching Manson anchoring techniques and hope that we may finally have cracked anchoring in sand in high winds that cause the boat to sheer.
On the plus side, actually having to re-anchor gave us a good reason to move round to the next bay – Clarke’s Court Bay - where we anchored off Calvigny Island. The island is privately owned but you are allowed on shore to use the beach …… however, we have been far too busy sanding and varnishing to even consider time out to picnic on shore but maybe next year! Our newly agreed anchoring technique was put into practice and with winds gusting up to 35 knots, we stayed secure!
We took to the dinghy to investigate Whisper Cove and Hog Island. We actually only ‘viewed’ Hog Island as it is jammed full of yachts. Whisper Cove Marina is tiny but has a lovely restaurant and a wonderful little shop selling fabulous meat, pate, cheese and fresh vegetables. We will definitely be calling in next year to stock up. In the meantime we continue with chores on the boat ….. jobs on a boat seem never ending!
On Saturday morning we weighed anchor once again and set off for the return trip to St David’s Bay. We had a truly lovely sail with only three tacks and for once we carried a full set of sails! We even had a dousing of fresh rainwater to wash the salt off the sails, so no need to clean them before packing them away. What a fun sail and what a wonderful way to end the season. Ocean Rainbow may be a beamy, heavy and rather “middle-aged” lady, but she can ride the waves with ease and makes sailing such a pleasure. It was with mixed emotions that we dropped the sails and made our way into the bay. We anchored off the beach in gorgeous sunshine and then set about taking off the sails before any passing squall came to wet them again. It’s always alarming to strip off the boat as we are never sure we are going to be able to put it back together again – we have taken loads of photos to remind us in case our memories fail us! That evening we had what turned out to be our last supper on OR. Shortly after we had finished the meal we were boarded by ‘Sophie-Ems’ who was also at anchor in the bay and had returned from an excursion ashore ….. we had a farewell drink with Robin (and Chris his temporary crew) and wished Robin fair winds for his Pacific crossing.
On Sunday Franz invited us to join him for supper so we went ashore and had a meal in the marina restaurant – a really nice treat and saved on the washing up on board! Our final night afloat was in an idyllic setting with nothing but the noisiest tree frogs to disturb us! They really do make the most unholy racket and it always surprises us that we sleep so soundly despite the din.
Monday morning dawned all too soon. Now the work was really starting. We weighed anchor and removed a serious amount of mud from the chain and anchor (reminiscent of anchoring in Barry harbour!!) and then manoeuvred ourselves into the slipway for the hoist. Caribbean timings meant we weren’t lifted until 10am rather than 9am but once Michael and Aaron got started we were impressed with their efficiency and good humour. We definitely must get ourselves a big scraper!!! Even after all our efforts during the year to keep OR’s bottom clean, we had what seemed to us a most horrible amount of growth and the gooseneck barnacles along the waterline still wilfully clung to the sides. But a quick scrape cleared it all off. We are having the waterline raised while we are on shore and hopefully next season we won’t have the same barnacle problem. After pressure hosing the bottom we were actually quite pleased with the result, so Jotan anti-fouling has coped pretty well with the Caribbean.
We were then moved to our hurricane cradle and Ocean Rainbow was secured. She is now well and truly strapped down – let’s hope the efficiency of the cradle is never put to the test, but we have done the best we can for her. James spent almost a day cleaning the Brunton propeller: the most wonderful stuff – On Off – helped to speed up the process! We also had to get the hoist team back to reposition OR as, after the rain squall, we found that the water wasn’t draining out of the cockpit properly, despite the test we had done at the outset. The team were really good about it all and did the work with lots of laughs and smiles. At 6pm that night we were picked up by John from La Sagesse Nature Centre (funny name for a really glorious boutique hotel on a beach lined with palm trees) who took us back and showed us to our room. Claire’s first night in a bed since August – and it wasn’t the best night’s sleep either!! No gentle rocking motion to lull one back to sleep and no sides to keep you in the bed!
Two more nights in our lovely hotel after two days of cleaning and polishing and that is the end of the 2013/2014 sailing adventure. We have left Ocean Rainbow as clean, dry and protected as we possibly can. We can only hope that we have done enough …… time will tell when we return in October to open her up and get her ready for her next season’s adventures.
The rest of this page is really a record of the work involved in the haul out process ….. a ‘pour memoire’ if you happen to be a crew member on Ocean Rainbow! Other boats will certainly have different practices but this is what we have done.
We started the spring cleaning process by servicing the windlass. Since then we have had our eyes firmly focussed on how we wanted to leave Ocean Rainbow for the hurricane season. All the lockers have been emptied, cleaned out with a Milton solution and the contents checked for ‘sell-by’ date and suitability for long term storage in the heat. Food stuffs have then been re-packed and the location and items noted in the ‘stores log’. All clothing and materials have been cleaned. The oilies and life jackets all washed down with a Milton solution and dried thoroughly before being packed into air tight bags. Cushions and upholstery have all been cleaned and stacked so that air can circulate and Moso bags (charcoal filled hessian sacks that claim to prevent mould and mildew!) placed in strategic places. Canvas has been washed off by really heavy rain, then stripped off and stored in airtight bags. The sprayhood grab handle has gone to ‘Turbulence’ (the sail repair shop at Grenada Marine) for renewal of the leather grip and the sprayhood has been left for renewal of the leather chafe patch on the port side. Martin (from Turbulence) also did a neat repair on the yankee which had suffered a little during the year.
James has serviced all the winches, the loo, Humphrey Hydrovane, Puddle’s outboard engine, polished the booms with ‘alu-protect’, de-rusted and polished all the ‘brightware’. Victor Volvo and Yamahaha outboard engine have been flushed through with fresh water.
‘Puddle’ is definitely now showing signs of wear and tear. The Caribbean sun is having a seriously detrimental effect on the seams and we had to repair a slow puncture twice before it held. A couple of lads from Grenada Marine also fixed the towing eye with a very sturdy patch. Hopefully it will hold but we won’t be able to tell until we try it out next season.
All external fixtures and fittings were removed, cleaned and stored down below. Boom braced.
Varnish has been stripped and renewed around the companionway and steps, the cockpit table, the chart table, the heads, the corridor to the heads and the fiddles around the galley. The majority of the damage, strangely enough, is caused by hot sweaty hands and bodies leaning up against the wood; however, in the case of the companionway and cockpit table, that’s definitely the sea and weather!
The headlining throughout the boat has been washed down with ‘Rodalon’ – the wonder working liquid donated to Ocean Rainbow by Finn from Privateer – and all the woodwork has been wiped down with a Milton solution and dried off. A Milton solution was flushed through all the pipes in the boat and the water tanks have been left with a heavy Milton solution in them. We had intended to drain the tanks but you can never get all the water out so we are trying this method. The fridge was defrosted and the drain flushed through with a Milton solution. The oven was cleaned externally and the gas burnt off. The boat batteries have been turned off.
Doors have been left open to allow what little air there is to circulate and the bilge floor has been lifted. All blinds are down; all the hatches have had Vaseline around the rubber seals, shut down tight and then the hatch covers put on; polish has been put on all GRP topsides and on the windows to protect them from the sun. We haven’t done the sides of the hull as we are having work done on the boot-top and the constant cleaning with water would just wash off any polish so the ‘paint’ team are going to finish that part of the job when they have done the ‘spruce up’ on our navy ‘go-faster’ strips! And, finally, for our precious teak a good coating of oil has been applied.
There’s bound to be something we have forgotten but if you bear in mind that we are working in 30 Centigrade, 80% humidity and 15 foot off the ground, it is slow work and has taken a lot of time!