Back to Grenada

25th October - 5th December 2002

 

We left Puerto La Cruz on 25th October to make the passage back to Grenada against the prevailing wind and three knot current.   Luckily we left before the 6 week long general strike in Venezuela restricted fuel supplies, as we were forced to travel under motor all the way back to Grenada.   This was made less painful by the fact that we'd only had to pay about 10.43 to fill our tanks with 500 litres of diesel before we left.    Anju was also heavily laden with cases of "Polar", the local beer and Chilean wine before we left, which would save us a considerable amount of money on our return to Grenada but didn't help her battle against the wind and current!

 

 

The first part of the trip was a leg from Puerto La Cruz overnight to Porlamar, Margarita, beginning with an early evening passage through the stunning islands of the Mochima National Park, accompanied by scores of playful dolphins.   Once night fell, we plodded on, dodging high and low speed ferries, past Cumana on the coast and then past the island of Cubagua, scene of our earlier unpleasant boarding incident, to arrive at the anchorage in Porlamar early next day.   On arrival, we were reunited with several chums from our previous visit to Grenada.   Between victualling and Christmas shopping trips, whilst in Margarita. we managed to track down our friends Gordon and Eliana and spend some time having fun with Pam and Chas of "Night Owl".

Mochima, Venezuela at sunset.

 

We weren't sorry to leave the rolling anchorage at Porlamar, where we'd had to rig a bridle to our anchor chain to pull the boat around to face the incoming swell and make life more comfortable.    On the next leg from Margarita to Los Testigos we travelled in company with Bob and Lori of "Pride".  When we say "in company", often you are out of sight with your travelling companions, however it is still reassuring to know you have friends nearby somewhere.   We arrived an hour before them in Los Testigos and were able to light their way into the anchorage when they arrived after nightfall with our navigation and deck lights.

Next morning "Pride" decided to press on to Grenada, taking advantage in reduced sea swell heights and much as we'd have loved to spend more time in "Los Testigos", we decided to make use of the same window of opportunity.   Although we left before them, they soon overtook us, probably partly due to the additional weight of beverages we carried aboard!   We kept in touch with regular VHF radio contact at pre-arranged times and the trip, although slow, was uneventful until nightfall, when Anju's engine decided to start playing up.    Unless we kept below 1500 revs, the motor would hiccup and threaten to cut out, so our speed dropped again and we fell further behind "Pride" and out of sight.    We suspected a blockage in the engine fuel filter and continued cautiously at the lower speed, hoping we could wait until our arrival to resolve the problem properly.  

Unfortunately at around the same time as we were checking out our engine, a large freighter decided to approach us on a collision course.    We still can't understand why, with the vast area of sea out there, you always seem to be on a collision course with every vessel you see.     We were still only making slow headway at about three and a half knots and reluctant to tack out of their way and take ourselves off course, we thought we'd call them up to check that they'd seen us and find out their intentions.    Halfway through Christine's conversation with the radio operator aboard, he suddenly stopped talking to us, which we felt to be a little rude and this forced us the change course anyway as a precaution.     Only later, when trying to communicate with "Pride" at the prearranged time did we realise that our VHF had ceased to function properly and they too were unable to hear us.    Naturally as the last communication they'd heard from us was us speaking to a large ship on a collision course, explaining that we had an engine problem, they were a little concerned and with progress to windward being so painful, we were concerned that they may feel obliged to turn around and retrace their steps, to check we were OK.    

 

 

Back in scenic Hartman Bay again.

 

Luckily, when they were on the verge of doing this, we were able to hear a call from Lori on the VHF saying that if we could hear them, could we try the SSB radio instead.   Finally after about a half hour of frustration we were able to let them know that we were fine and rearrange our radio schedules to the SSB radio instead.   As we said, it's reassuring to have friends out there with you, even if you can't see them. 

Late the following morning we found ourselves back in picturesque Hartman Bay on the south coast of Grenada and although we'd left two months earlier, it almost felt like coming home with many familiar faces still there.    As the political situation worsened in Venezuela many more old friends returned to join us too!

 

 

We'd made it back to Grenada in time for Phil's birthday but hadn't planned anything special.   During Happy Hour at the Rum Squall bar we got chatting to two couples, Graham and Lesley a British couple based in Bahrain and Bill and Janine from Washington DC.   They had chartered a boat from Moorings and were stuck at base awaiting the arrival of their friends Chris and Dave from the UK, who were having a terrible time delayed in London by the cancellation of their BWIA flight.   We were invited aboard their boat to eat poor Chris and Dave's share of the evening meal, so Phil ended up with an unexpected birthday celebration after all!   At least during the two days they were forced to remain at the dock waiting for their friends, we were able to point out some good anchorages in the pilot books and help them out lending them some equipment for their trip.    On their return from their two week charter they very generously donated all their left-over food to the Anju crew, which was very gratefully received!  

We had booked our flights back to the UK for 5th of December, leaving us a clear month to potter on our boat, doing maintenance jobs.   Despite the fact that hurricane season was drawing to a close, the heat and humidity was still quite exhausting so we limited ourselves to working in the morning and relaxing by swimming or a game of dominoes in the heat of the afternoon.    

 

Disrupting school aboard Sea Eagle for tea again!

(Phil, Michael, Natasha, Asia and Chrissy)

 

 

Despite the shortened work day, we did complete many jobs including installing a wind generator, a second hand bargain purchased from friends Tony & Bente on Side-by-Side.  The installation went quite smoothly except for the moment when we'd run the 40 foot black electric cable from the generator to the battery bank and on coming to fit the corresponding red cable, found that we'd been supplied with only 30 feet.   It was by sheer chance that when the staff at Island Water World cut the cable to the wrong length and delivered it, the left over piece happened to be 40 feet long.  Once they exchanged the cables for us, "Norman Nimrod" as the wind generator was christened, quickly started helping to keep our batteries topped up!

 

 

 

Our return to Hartman Bay gave us a welcome opportunity to spend more time with our friends Caroline, Stefan, Stephanie and Jason on Fruity Fruits, as they called in briefly on their way north from Trinidad.   We were also pleased to get to know the crew of Sea Eagle, Cole, Natasha, Michael, Asia and Chrissy and to spend plenty of time drinking tea aboard their boat and enjoying Natasha's wonderful baking!

All too soon it was time to pack our bags for our trip to the UK and leave Anju in the capable care of George Cumberbach on one of his mooring buoys.    We were really looking forward to seeing family and friends again but hard to leave her sitting there alone, awaiting our return, almost like desertion!

 

Leaving Anju all alone!

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