RTW (Round the World) January 2014

28th – 31st January

Nitassinan departWe weighed anchor at first light and were surprised to see Nitassinan on their way too so we were able to say goodbye properly as we don’t think we’ll be meeting up with them again on the high seas – but hopefully on terra firma in a few years hence.   We then set off for Carriacou.  What a blissful sail we had with only the Yankee but creaming along in at 6 to 7 knots.  The winds were strong but the sea was so wonderfully predictable we were reminded why we loved sailing!   The acceleration zones between the islands livened up the sail and made sure we kept our eye on everything.  There were lots of yachts around us too which was fun.   Although we did have spray off the waves in the cockpit this was refreshing and not the deluge we had become used to crossing the Atlantic.   No slamming of waves on the stern quarter either!   We were almost disappointed when the sail came to an end as we arrived in Hillsborough Bay in order to clear customs and immigration.   In fact, we needn’t have stopped here as there is now a Customs and Immigration Office in Tyrell Bay.    However, we’re glad we did as Hillsborough is a lovely little town and the barbers shop did an excellent job on James’ hair!   We spent the night at anchor – a bit rolly and a bit wet – and then went on our way the following morning to Tyrell Bay to meet Trevor and organise the wind generator.

Another lovely sail and then the easiest anchoring we have had for a while – straight in, hook down and we held!   We had towed Puddle around from Hillsborough so James went ashore almost immediately.   Claire stayed on board to make sure the anchor really was stuck firm on the bottom!   By the time James returned everything was ship-shape again with the fruit bowl in the middle of the table and Lallydog MKII in her rightful place!   Tyrell Bay is far less rolly than Hillsborough so the anchorage is much fuller but you don’t feel crowded.  The water isn’t as clear as Bequia though but fine for the daily exercise routine of 4 times around the boat – doesn’t sound much but one side of the boat is always tougher than the other as you fight the current which runs the whole time.   At some stages of the tide you are struggling to maintain your position – Claire blames it on her splint – time will tell!    Carriacou Marine Ltd with Trevor at the helm is great.   Very helpful and friendly – even if we have discovered we have to wait until Friday to meet up with Manny (Emanuel) the electrician who will help us fit the wind generator!    The town itself is nothing more than a street filled with restaurants and bars, a couple of supermarkets and a couple of veg shops (wooden shacks really).   Denise has the best stock, fresh deliveries on Wednesday late afternoIguana Cafe's Namesakeon so Thursday is a good day to shop.  Potatoes and onions arrive on Saturday!   The supermarket opposite has the best prices and the widest selection of frozen goods – Claire actually found some mince hidden away …. turned into a bolognese sauce it was totally scrummy with virtually no fat.  Quite like the old days!   WiFi is available everywhere and is free (if you purchase a drink – except at Trevor’s place where they are happy for you to use it without purchasing anything!).    And, at Trevor’s you have the added attraction of the Iguanas at Iguana Cafe!    Claire has escaped laundry duties again – a load washed, dried and folded for EC$20 – Phew!

We are still on the search for a method to refill our gas canisters.   The purser of the ferry between Carriacou and Grenada has taken the empty canister with him to see what can be done in Grenada and he will bring it back on the Saturday ferry – hopefully full!   James went through real shenanigans to get the canister to him, heaving himself up black tyres etc only to find if he had parked the dinghy the other side of the dock there were steps!    He needed the exercise!  Strange coincidence though – the ferry used to be the old Rennesoy ferry!  We wondered if it was the one we used to use when we were in Norway?   After this we went off to visit the mangrove swamps – not a lot to see as far as we could make out, just miles of mangroves and lots of bird song with the odd splash of fish.  We were hoping for the odd sea snake – reminiscent of Singapore!    On the way back we met up with Katrin from Nautilus – they have just arrived and will be here for a few days which’ll be fun.

20th – 27th January – Bequia

We had a good overnight sail from Sainte-Anne to Bequia.  The winds were bowling us along and we were making really good time – in fact we were going rather faster than we wanted!    We did shorten sail for the night as we had been warned about the acceleration zones between the islands – a warning we were glad we heeded!   We were also brought back to reality by the existence of other ships around!  At one point James found himself boxed in by four big boats and was just about to radio one of the Captains when the tanker altered course and Ocean Rainbow could pick her way through!    In the early morning, in the lee of St Lucia, we found ourselves sailing at 5 knots in calmer waters which was a welcome change to our Atlantic trip!     However, the winds then died and we found ourselves motorsailing to search out the wind.   We did see some yachts in the distance and found, on AIS, that one of the yachts was Ishtar – another Warrior 40 with whom we had been in email contact.   It was amazing to meet up with her off St Vincent and to find that, her sail number was 95 to our 94; Ishtar was built straight after Ocean Rainbow!  We had a chat and then we both continued on in opposite directions.   Hopefully we will meet up later in our travels.   The wind, after our meeting, was changeable so our arrival in Bequia was somewhat later than anticipated but on arrival we found ourselves being greeted by Nautilus – last seen in Marina del Sur in Tenerife.    Hans and Katrin came on board for drinks and we had a great time exchanging stories about our Atlantic crossings.   They really did have a tough time and we were very thankful that we had set off later than them.

The next morning Hans came on board with his deep sea underwater epoxy and tried his hand at repairing the rotostay baseplate.  Sadly his repair failed too, so we may well be fitting a new furlex as well as a wind generator when we get to Carriacou next week.   We then went ashore and met up with some local British residents – the Roxburghs who were a fount of wonderful information.   They came on board for lunch which was lovely and then Susannah took us on a tour of the island as well as her amazing home overlooking Friendship Bay.    The next wonderful coincidence was to meet up with Mikel and Maria (from Sweden) on Nitassinan – last seen in Lanzarote – and be invited on board for tea and cake on Friday (well, red wine and cake as we were rather late getting to them and tea-time had definitely passed!)    We then went ashore and had supper at the Fig Tree restaurant.  It was Fish Friday with BBQ fish of all sorts and a live group to entertain us.   Cheryl, the proprietor, turned up and was most appreciative of our attempts at dancing!

On Saturday we went off to the Jazz Fest at Bequia Beach Hotel and had a great time, despite the rain showers.  We travelled there and back by local minibus for the princely sum of EC$2 (50p).  A real laugh.   That evening Maria and Mikel came on board for supper prior to our sortie to De Reef for another session of jazz.   Unfortunately the heavens opened and it was so wet we decided to shelter on board and enjoy the local music that was wafting across the bay!  A bit of a cop out but we think it was probably a wise decision as we subsequently went to Lower Bay on Sunday afternoon after our snorkelling session on the Devil’s Table Reef and had our experience of Jazz at De Reef – our eardrums would never have survived!  The local reggae music box alternative from the back of a van, just further down the beach, was much more our scene!    We also managed to get to church in the morning and found the visiting preacher was the Archdeacon of St Albans!   It was a great service and, although the congregation was a fraction of the size of last week’s in Martinique, the singing was totally amazing and just lifted the roof.

We are now getting ready to move on.   The winds are quite fierce but we will only need a tiny little sail to go downwind and there is a marina at Carriacou if we find that anchoring is too dodgy.   At the moment the boat is bobbing and swinging in an alarming fashion on the mooring buoy with bolts of wind exceeding 40 knots but so far we haven’t hit our neighbours – although both boats have put out fenders as we have come precious close to each other!   Our next update will come from pastures new – all being well!

20th – Sainte Anne

We should have left Martinique today but we got carried away with the admin & laundry so we are setting off tomorrow to Bequia, then our only definite deadline is back to Fort de France by 13th February to get Claire signed off from the hospital and the splint removed.

7th – 19th January

The Atlantic crossing accounts for the first week of January but since then a further 13 days have elapsed and we are almost struggling to account for the time!

Ocean Rainbow at anchor in Le MarinCustoms formalities in Martinique were simple and only 5€ for entry, plus we have discovered a further 5€ for exit papers. The folk in the marina office were very helpful but they couldn’t offer us a berth in the marina and said that we would have to phone on a daily basis to see if there was space. We actually found that we were more than happy to sit at anchor as we were at the back of the bay and had a certain degree of privacy without feeling we were hugger-mugger with loads of other yachties. We had to move our anchorage after a couple of days as there was a Yole race and we had (apparently) parked ourselves in the middle of the course! Our new anchorage was much closer to the best supermarket and was also slightly less bouncy so we were happy.

Claire’s wrist saga accounted for an awful lot of time.

Day 1: The initial appointment with a delightful doctor to assess the damage, then there was the appointment for an X-ray. It was 5pm by the time this was all completed so too late to go to the hospital to get the fractures assessed for plaster cast or splint.

Day 2: As James was helping Freebooter move without an engine, Claire took the dingy ashore to catch the ‘taxi collectif’ (local mini bus) to Fort de France and the hospital – however failed in that respect and had to take a taxi ambulance instead (71€) and was driven straight to the A&E department. Fantastic as with Claire’s sense of direction who knows when she would have found the place! Then came submission of papers and being told that there would be a 2 to 3 hour wait. No problem, except Claire slipped off to get a coffee and while away her name was called. Such trouble then ensued including a ticking off and so much grovelling to get back on the good side of the administrative chap. There followed another long wait on plastic chairs amidst some gurneys lining the corridors with a variety of sick and dying patients on board. Police lined the corridors too and kept an eye on those who definitely didn’t look sober and one gurney coming through had a man in chains on it! Eventually it was Claire’s turn and things moved very swiftly and efficiently. After assessment and a bit of negotiation she was sent up to the emergency ‘hand’ department to see the Head Surgeon (rather than straight to the ‘plaster department’) who was very clear in his instructions and said that a splint could be made but that great care would have to be taken to make sure that the wrist was immobilised otherwise an operation would be needed. A quick phone call to the orthopaedic department got an assurance from the doctor that she would delay her departure home until after she’d made Claire’s splint. This saw Claire beetling along the corridors and through the basement of the hospital to the orthopaedic department. Finally, at 4.30pm Claire was sorted out and all that remained was to pay the bill …. This involved another wander through the corridors until she found her way back to A&E and the administrative department.

The last step in the whole saga was to catch the bus (€1.20) from the hospital down into Fort de France and then the taxi collectif (7€) back to Le Marin. Once again folk were so helpful and a gentleman on the bus actually walked Claire down to the harbour to show her the ‘collectif’ taxi rank. The taxi collectif waits until it is full before departing, so it was 6.30pm before Claire got back to Le Marin to collect the dinghy and then try to find Ocean Rainbow in the dark! Well, who would have thought that after leaving at 8am she wouldn’t be returning until dark?! It was with a great feeling of relief that Ocean Rainbow was finally spotted – with Jon and James on board drinking a beer (not sure it was their first one either!!) waiting anxiously for Claire’s return. That night we went off for our celebration supper at Mango Bay.

Whilst Claire was away in the hospital, James had been busy (with Jon’s dinghy) helping Freebooter to move from their anchorage into the marina so that they could have a new engine fitted. All went smoothly with the dinghy tow which was great and it was lovely to meet new folk. This friendship was further cemented with drinks on Freebooter the following night (9th), supper on Ocean Rainbow at the weekend (11th) and then a return ‘match’ on Freebooter on Wednesday 15th just before Annemarie and Steve set off to continue their travels with their new purring engine. We hope to meet up with them again in Grenada at the end of the hurricane season.

We didn’t seem to establish a daily routine whilst in Le Marin! Some mornings we were awake nice and early and others we were total slug-a-beds. We did try to answer a couple of emails each day and we did catch up with the family via Skype and phone calls, so we went ashore every day at some stage. We found a lovely little café (Sucré et Salé with coffee at €2.50) on the beach with excellent internet but also ‘no-see-ums’ under the tables that had a really itchy bite. By the end of our time in Le Marin we were frequenting Zanzibar (coffee at 3€) where there was a little more space and fewer nasty bitey things!

The town market had lots of stalls selling tourist type objects but also some lovely fruit and veg – especially the avocados! We also found ‘sirop de cannes’ to go with our rum! It makes a great cocktail mixed with lime and soda. Our favourite supermarket was Leader Price which had its own dinghy park and the prices were excellent with the shelves stocked with loads of goodies from France. Wonderful steaks too! Another shopping area was reached via dinghy and up a mangrove swamp which was rather fun, but we decided that trying to carry water/milk/groceries down a ladder to the dinghy was too much like hard work and stuck with the easier option. Claire found a truly brilliant patisserie whilst waiting for a taxi – sausage croissants! – but it was rather out of the way to be used on a daily basis.

The weekend (11th/12th) was party time in Le Marin with Yole racing and evening entertainment Caribbean style. We were too late after our Supper party on OR for the Saturday night festivities but we did have a great time on Sunday night – James was collared at the end of the evening’s display by one of the very attractive young dancers, taken onto the stage and taught the moves of the local (very suggestive) dance….. which involved an awful lot of full frontal bumping together of hips!! There is a video of the antics but we have yet to master the technique of loading it to YouTube or linking it to the website!

 

On Tuesday 14th it was back to medical matters but not before Claire managed to get herself a very sharp haircut at a swanky saloon with Monsieur who trained in Paris! The afternoon was then spent waiting to get another X-ray of her wrist, followed on Wednesday with a morning spent at the hospital. The day began really early as the taxi driver said he would have to leave at 6.30am in order to get to Fort de France in time for the appointment at 8.30. Needless to say he was late arriving so the next hour was spent in a state of nervous tension as he attempted to out-manoeuvre the rush hour traffic. He did succeed but it was an exciting little trip with a couple of detours along muddy tracks and one where he drove along the edge of a field! All highly entertaining. There was hardly any delay in waiting for the consultant and being told that all was well, the complication was trying to book the follow up appointments for X-ray and the consultant in a month’s time. It took 2 hours of wandering around the various departments before everything was sorted out and then there was the wait for the bus to Fort de France and the taxi collectif back to Le Marin.   Claire made it back by 2pm and was chauffeured by James in the dinghy back to the boat. James had had an equally busy morning having serviced the engine successfully. All very tiring but luckily Freebooter fed us that evening so we were very spoilt and we both had the afternoon off!

Thursday 16th we were all ready to leave Le Marin when we had a small hiccup! We’d weighed anchor to go and refuel and fill the water tanks but we hadn’t reckoned on the traffic jam at the fuel pontoon – we had thought we could stay on the pontoon to go and check out with the authorities. This was obviously not going to work so we re-fuelled etc and went back out to anchor intending to dinghy-in to sign out. Unfortunately, on lowering the anchor, the arm of the anchor hit the bottom of the rotostay (the furling mechanism for our Yankee) and a part of it snapped off. We resorted to Plan B. After anchoring fairly near our old spot, James went off in the dinghy to the nearest workshop/chandlers and after much discussion, purchased some amazing glue to repair the rotostay. The part was soon stuck back on but we needed to wait 24 hours until we could safely use it. A shame but we did have the unexpected treat of being invited on board Hecla for supper where we had a gastronic feast and great evening with Jon and his other guests – Toby and Sam from Free Spirit.

Friday 17th we finally weighed anchor and set sail….. for 2nm (!! Not far then!!) and anchored in Sainte Anne. We had towed Puddle across rather than packing her up so it didn’t take long to get organised and set off into the town. It is a very pretty little village with brightly painted houses and the inevitable tourist shops and some cafes. The prices didn’t seem too bad even in the local supermarket – although a Chinese cabbage at 5€ was fairly rapidly put back on the shelf! We did have a fabulous ice cream though!

On our return we popped across to another British yacht, Arawak, who are moored next door to us and asked them over for a drink. What great good fortune that was! Peter and Cathy were/are a fount of knowledge as they have a home in Carriacou and have spent years sailing around the Caribbean. They gave us names of folk to contact in Carriacou and Grenada and were able to lend us the marine chandlery catalogues so that we could check out various wind generators etc (we think this is going to be our next investment as we are still concerned about power and it would be very reassuring to be able to harness the wind on the days when the sun isn’t shining!). Perhaps the most important tip was the location of the best bakery – although the best burger ran a close second. Never having been great fans of burgers and chips we are quietly being converted!

We went ashore on Sunday (19th) and actually managed to get to a church service for the first time since August. It was lovely to be in a packed church (Catholic) and to enjoy some lovely hymns sung with gusto and Caribbean rhythm – not understanding everything didn’t detract from the experience. We then managed to buy the best pain au chocolat that James has had in years and went home for a late breakfast. That evening we went ashore to the local beach restaurant ‘Maya Beach Club’ which will forever be known by us as the ‘Pub with no Beer’! They managed a couple of beers but then ran dry and the only drink we were offered was rum or coke. Both were ‘on the house’ and as for the rum ….. original rocket fuel! It did not slip down smoothly and was vaguely reminiscent of the worst type of rakia so Claire stuck to coke! The burgers may have taken an age to appear but they were absolutely delicious and we would recommend them to anyone. And, they were exceedingly good value at only €4. 20th – We should have left Martinique today but we got carried away with the admin & laundry so we are setting off tomorrow to Bequia, then our only definite deadline is back to Fort de France by 13th February to get Claire signed off from the hospital and the splint removed.