Grenada - Martinique
26th February - 10th March 2003
Firstly, apologies for the lack of pictures in
this section. This is probably due to the fact that
almost the entire passage was beating to windward (yes, again - why is the
wind always on our nose??). For
the non-sailors amongst you, beating means that you're sailing as close to
the wind as you can go, in our case this is usually about 40 degrees away
from the direction the wind is coming. The
sails are all hauled in tight and the boat heels over, so you have to hang
onto your seat if you're on the windward side, to prevent yourself flying
across the cockpit and landing on the wheel or the person sitting on the
other side. After a few hours, your arms ache from
holding on and your legs ache from walking uphill and sliding downhill all
the time and your bottom hurts from sitting on a hard slope.
That is, we believe, why this point of sail is called beating, as you feel
like you've had a good beating yourself. Luckily for us, Anju
seems to like this point of sail and has even been known to keep up with
other much lighter boats, probably as we usually get to use all four of our
sails at once!
We finally tore ourselves away from our little haven in Mount Hartman Bay in Grenada on the 25th of February, leaving behind many good friends, who we'll no doubt bump into again soon, hopefully not literally. We found ourselves following George's boat out of the bay and around to the capital, St. Georges, where we anchored off Ross Point. Not only does George look after people's boats, run errands for them, fill gas bottles for them, dive on people's boats and build his own new house, he also somehow finds time to go sailing on his own boat too!
In St. Georges we waited for Sea Eagle to arrive and they kindly ran us ashore for some last minute shopping. It is much easier for them to lower their dinghy, as they have davits on the back of their boat, whereas we have to haul the outboard and dinghy on deck separately using the pulleys on our mizzen sheet. We're still working on a design to fit davits on Anju too, to make life easier in this respect (yes OK, even easier).
Early next morning we set sail for Carriacou, about 35 miles north of St. Georges. We are reluctant to use our engine, for several reasons. Firstly, we try to maintain to any proper sailors that Anju is designed to be a sailing boat and goes much better that way, which is true as her 19 tonnes only has a motor of 30 horsepower. Another reason in addition to the cost of diesel, is that as soon as the engine is running, it's something else to worry about. We are professional worriers and if we leave the engine off, we don't have to think about it. Also, our cutlass bearing is worn (yes again) - this is the bearing made of brass and rubber where the prop-shaft comes out of the boat, which should be lubricated with sea water passing up grooves within in. It seemed to get dry while we were back in the UK and left the boat in the water without the engine running in gear for five weeks and when we first put the engine in gear on our return, it made a terrible noise for several minutes, which was probably the dry rubber wearing away. If we motor, we have to select our speed to stop the knocking noise until we haul the boat out to replace it. You'd think we'd learn from the last time this happened to us in Tenerife! Anyway trying to postpone haul out until it's due for antifouling the bottom of the boat, we're trying to sail everywhere. Hey, we're even learning a thing or two about sailing along the way!
All of the above are excuses as to why Sea Eagle left St. Georges an hour later than us and when we arrived in Carriacou they were already there, settled in and swimming. They had motored a direct course there from the north of Grenada, whilst we'd sailed the longer route, as close to the wind as we could go and had to tack at the end to make Carriacou, as we were about a mile west of the anchorage. Once we were firmly anchored, Natasha invited us over for cake and tea, so we could compare how our pet guppies and swordtails had enjoyed sailing.
Next morning we went around to the customs office in Hillsborough to check out of Grenada. We'd already had to get an extension on our visas and they were almost up again. From there we had a wonderful sail between the Grenadines islands of Union and Palm Island, around the leeward side of Mayreau and up to Canouan. It was hard to be so close to the Tobago Cays and these other beautiful islands without calling in, but we plan to spend time there again when we head south for hurricane season.
In Canouan we anchored between two other boats, one of which was on a mooring. It was a good spot, until suddenly the wind was suddenly blowing from the north at 5 am and we were creeping closer and closer to them. We hauled in some chain, had to motor away from them a couple of times and finally at around 7.00, giving up hope that the wind would change, decided to haul up the anchor and make an early start for Bequia. The weather was a little strange, it was raining and when we left the lee of the island, the sea was rough, the wind was very strong and gusty and it was still raining. At the point where Phil, who'd forgotten to put on his sailing gloves, got himself a nasty rope burn, we decided enough was enough and turned around to head back to the anchorage. We should have been warned earlier when I'd asked him what day it was and it was Friday. We try to avoid setting sail on Fridays wherever possible, don't know why, it's an old seafaring tradition, probably mostly because we have trips like this one when we do. So by 8 am, two bad tempered sailors, one with a sore hand, were back in bed, where they stayed until they felt it safe to come out and face the big bad world again, around lunchtime when their tummies started rumbling!
So, on Saturday we headed for Bequia again. The sun was shining and the sea was calmer between the odd big waves. Sea Eagle beat us again, as we were tacking there instead of motor-sailing. On our third anchoring attempt the anchor held and we were happy with our spot, at least for a short while. Later we were confused by a neighbouring Swedish boat, which seemed to behave differently to all the others in the anchorage and regardless of how far apart we'd started, kept creeping uncomfortably close to us. Finally after a day of worrying about this, Christine was despatched to snorkel and take a look at their anchor, which she finally found, breathless, on the end of about 50 metres of chain. Normally we use maybe five times the depth of water, sometimes we even use less in a crowded anchorage, like Bequia. Our neighbours had about 10 times the depth in chain scope and as a result were swinging in a much larger circle than everybody else. We should have moved then but were lazy. We ended up paying the price next morning at 6 am, when they awoke us with their foghorn, when our boats' sterns lay about 2 metres apart. So in the pouring rain, in our nightwear, we found ourselves anchoring for the fourth time, this time choosing new neighbours.
We spent a week in Bequia, getting a mechanic to check out our engine mountings in case they were contributing to our cutlass bearing problem. All seemed fine on that front. We also made the most of the launderette there, even washing the curtains off the boat! On our last day there we managed to track down a shop selling prescription diving masks and Christine was treated to one. Of course we had to go snorkeling immediately to try it out and spent a wonderful hour, seeing hundreds of different types of fish, including squids, on the headland near our boat. One evening we saw a boat approaching with a familiar rowing style, it was Stanley from St. Vincent, who we'd met and shared a beer with last July. He'd recognised our boat and come over to greet us, share another beer and tell us about his adventures in St. Vincent, where he'd been working on the making of the film "Pirates of the Caribbean", which is being filmed in Wallilabou anchorage and stars Johnny Depp.
Wallilabou, St. Vincent - Can't see Johnny anywhere.
After a week of chores in Bequia, we said
farewell to the school of baby Sergeant Major, which had taken up residence
around our rudder and made an early start at 6 am for a passage of 70 miles
to Rodney Bay in the north of St. Lucia.
We sailed from Bequia to St. Vincent but then in the lee of the island had to put the motor on when there wasn't enough wind. We passed as close as we could to the film set but were unable to catch a glimpse of any action, probably due to the weather (see picture). Luckily we prepared sandwiches while the sea was calm and Phil had us shorten the mainsail before we hit the north of the island, where the wind blasts in very strong gusts. One minute we were motor-sailing along, drinking tea and eating banana cake and the next we were heeled right over and bashing through horrible waves.
A couple of miles north of the island things
calmed down a little, allowing us to put up more sail. Suddenly
the engine decided to splutter and cough, so it seemed like a good time to
switch it off straight away. Obviously the filters we'd
changed in Grenada hadn't solved the problem. We kept on
sailing the tough passage to St. Lucia. We had plenty of wind
and at one point we managed 8.1 knots, which is almost supersonic for our
boat. The trip was quite a tiring beat as we were heeled right over
and each time we shortened sail, the wind would drop, so we'd make more sail
and the wind would pick up again. This happened to such an
extent that we named the trip our "Okey Cokey Passage"......You
put a reef in, you shake it out, in, out, in, out, get shaken all
In the lee of St. Lucia the sea got calmer and the wind dropped off, forcing us to try the motor again. Suddenly it spluttered and stopped. Phil was in the engine room looking for a reason and bleeding the diesel through, as we passed the Piton mountains. After around 15 minutes of sailing along at only 2 knots, the engine started again and kept running. Then the wind picked up and we could switch off the engine and sail all the way to Rodney Bay, where we anchored. We'd beaten 70 miles in 12 hours, arriving at 6 pm, just before dark. Exhausted we ate the sandwiches, we'd not had chance to eat for lunch, downed a couple of rums each and went to bed at around 7.30 pm.
Next morning, after a good and long night's sleep, we somehow found the energy and enthusiasm to set off again for Martinique. Our sail to Sainte Anne in the south of Martinique was a joy. The wind had turned south of east, making for a far more comfortable passage, the sea was calm compared to the day before and the sun was shining. We covered the 23 miles by lunchtime and caught up again with our friends on Sea Eagle.
|Return to homepage Return to index 2003|