Dahlfin II Status
| Bequia |
39) Fax from Grenada, 3-31-98
Trinidad: We have finally left Trinidad and have some reflections on this wonderful country. Trinidad is by far one of the most delightful places we have visited and a large part of this is due to the people. It is a true melting pot of all races and creeds. The people are a beautiful melange of African, East Indian (almost 50%), some Asian, Caucasian, and you name it, it's here. English is the spoken language but with a delightful lilt and syllabic inflection, especially by the women; it is music to the ear. They are a gentle people with a most friendly disposition, a great love of humor and laughter, and a passion for music, singing, and dancing.
After getting back in the water we moved around to a mooring at TTYA (Trinidad and Tobago Yachting Association) which we had reserved (because of Carnival) before we left the U.S. in November. We thoroughly enjoyed being at TTYA, entering into all the social activities, renewing old friendships, and making wonderful new ones. We quickly got to know the city of Port of Spain well and did some traveling on the island. We went up to the Asa Wright Nature Center and Bird Sanctuary in the mountains and a trip through the Caroni Swamp to watch the brightly colored scarlet Ibis come to roost at dusk.
Carnival: There is nothing like Trinidad Carnival. We quickly picked up on Carnival vocabulary:
We toured pan camps where different bands were practicing for the competitions and mas camps where the beautiful costumes were made. Words cannot even begin to describe the magnificent brightly irridescent costumes some of which extended 20 feet into the air and 20 feet or greater around. They almost defied engineering and some appeared like complete floats. As first timers we went to/participated in about 80% of the activities, beginning in early February. Some of the events we took in were jazz concerts, calypso concerts, pan band competitions, calypso competitions, king and queen costume competitions, and of course the parades. It is difficult to describe the mas bands in the parades which had thousands of participants in each group costumed in vibrant colors according to a particular theme. We even participated in a Monday morning J'Ouvert getting up at 1 am, dressing in jungle costumes (the band that our group of yachties decided to join) and danced through the streets on Port of Spain behind huge blaring speakers on trucks until 7 am.
Marine Facilities/Supplies: We hauled/stored our boat at Power Boats and had one of the best yard experiences in our 27 years of sailing. We know of other who didn't have such positive yard experiences at various yards in the area. The Trinidad yachting industry has caught on to the American dollar and it is no longer inexpensive as stated in the guide books. In many areas prices are on par with the U.S., sometimes a little less. Parts and supplies are definitely more costly than the U.S. When we came back from our Christmas trip our sea-bags were loaded with boat parts and supplies for painting the bottom.
We had some canvas work done (a cover for the dingy) and a luff tape and sail cover put on our blade (110% jib). The canvas work was done at U.S. prices but was not U.S. quality and the biggest problem was just getting the job done. We have heard some real horror stories about canvas projects, it took 5 months for one couple on the next mooring over to get a dodger/bimini completed and even then it didn't fit right. Friends of ours had the same problem with a dodger/bimini. Ron finally had to go to the canvas shop and stand over the worker to get him to finish our project. We lucked out on our sail project, but friends of ours had a working jib re-cut for a furler. When they brought it back because it was 7 inches too long, the sail-maker cut off 21 inches!
Medical Care: We had to seek medical care concerning a back problem for Bonnie which involved a couple of doctors including an orthopedic surgeon, X-rays, and an MRI. In all cases we were very impressed with the quality of medical care and the level of technology available. We know a couple of yachties (one of whom is a close friend) who had to have surgery and their response is the same. Considering all we had done, the cost was quite reasonable. But not so in Grenada. Bonnie had to have the last of a series of cortisone shots and had a letter from the Trinidad orthopod to one in Grenada. After the shot was given, the Grenada doctor tried to charge us $200 U.S. for one cortisone shot - eight times the cost of the shot in Trinidad! The Grenada doctor's response was "you are American tourists and you can get that money back from your medical insurance". We refused to pay that amount, saying we had no coverage outside the U.S. and finally settled on $71 U.S.
3-26-98, 11 59.99 N / 61 45.64 W, Prickly Bay, Grenada
After five days of waiting for blustery winds and choppy seas to settle down, we finally cleared the Boca Channel and left Trinidad around 1700 on Wednesday March 25th. We had a nice sail across to Grenada, the wind was a steady 17-18 knots out of the east the whole way. We had to dodge a few ships on the way. Around 2200 we realized we couldn't transmit via VHF to another boat we were traveling with. Around midnight the autopilot "packed it in" so we had to hand-steer the rest of the way. Set anchor at 0930 on the 26th, 89 nm. Fortunately we have replacements for both, which are now installed and working. Nice to have "been out" long enough that we are now coming back to places we've been to before. We plan to head up to Bequia and the Grenadines for a few weeks or so and then back to Venezuela and the offshore islands for 6 months or so.
40) Fax from Bequia, 4-8-98
4-3-98, 12 27.34 N / 61 29.26 W, Tyrrel Bay, Carricou
Pulled anchor at 0600. Sailed up western side of Grenada and then reached across to Carricou. Wind E/SE 12-15 knots. Set anchor at 1500, 43 nm. This is a harbor we evaded on the way down because of a lot of dingy theft. According to the SSB Security Net, things have really quieted down since last season. We also have more security measures in place than we did a year ago.
4-4-98, 13 00.07 N / 61 14.66 W, Admiralty Bay, Bequia
Pulled anchor at 0630, motored around to Hillsborough to clear out of Carricou/Grenada. Cost $10 EC/passport, $5 EC overtime for Saturday, ($1 U.S = $2.6 EC). Door to door sailing from Hillsborough to Bequia - wind E/SE 15-17 knots. Neat. Set anchor at 1600, total miles 40.4. Cleared into Customs and Immigration Sunday morning. Cost $10 EC/passport, $45 EC overtime for Sunday. Monday took ferry over to Kingston, St. Vincent ($25 EC/person round trip). Did a little shopping, visited the Botanical Gardens, saw breadfruit spin-off from the original breadfruit brought by Bligh after the Bounty mutiny. Kingston is a nice size city complete with Radio Shack and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Had originally planned on staying in Bequia only 4-5 days, but we have lots of friends here and there is a big Easter Regatta where they race replicas of the old island work-boats. All that is going on this weekend with lots of other events so we will probably stay through Easter Monday.
47) Fax from Admiralty Bay, Bequia, 2-11-99
2-2-99, 11 59.95 N / 61 45.64 W, Prickly Bay, Grenada
After checking out of customs and immigration on Monday, we motored 4 miles to Scotland Bay where we hoped to get a few hours of rest but ended up jury-rigging a different gear lever for the engine. The new one we just put in was too long. We pulled anchor at 5 pm and left for a night crossing to Grenada. Wind was E/NE 20 knots. By morning we found we were really getting set by the westward current. We made a 3 hour tack to the SE and resumed course. Got in at 5 pm, 24 hours to make good on 78 miles, actually 96 miles with tacking. Many times during the trip we were down to 3 knots. It was a bit of a rough trip with confused seas, hard on the wind, and lots of water breaking over the deck. The boat performed beautifully.
We always enjoy Grenada. We spent time to fix the gear lever and repair the dodger - the thread was rotting and giving way. We went into St. Georges for a day visiting some of our favorite stops and restaurants.
2-6-99, 12 27.37 N / 61 29.22 W, Tyrrel Bay, Carricou
Pulled anchor at 6:30 am and sailed up the west coast of Grenada and then across to Carricou. Wind E 15 knots, sailed close hauled until 4 miles from the harbor and then one tack in.
2-7-99, 12 37.89 N / 61 21.40 W, Tobago Cays
Pulled anchor at 7:45 am and sailed to Clifton, Union Island. Wind E 15 knots. We checked into customs and immigration at the airport, $28 for overtime because it is Sunday. Pick up a few groceries and lunch at a rather pricey restaurant. We pull anchor at 1:30 pm and head over to the west side of Mayreau and "over the top" to the Tobago Cays. Lots of boats, the height of the chartering season, at least 50% of the boats are chartered. The boat boys are very active with their high-powered run-abouts but they don't come over unless you flag them down. We do lots of snorkeling in the Cays, the reefs are still very beautiful and the fish varied and plentiful. It is so good to be just cruising again and how quickly we fall back into the patterns of sailing. Swinging at anchor, following the weather forecasts, and planning the next day's run.
2-10-99, 12 38.87 N / 61 23.49 W, Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau
We leisurely sail over the Salt Whistle Bay, one of our favorite anchorages in the Windwards. Set anchor around 11 am. It is a good thing we got in early because by mid-afternoon the boats (mainly charter boats) start coming in the place gets really packed. It's interesting for us to see so many non-cruising boats. For the last year and a half we have seen only cruising boats in Trinidad and Venezuela. Salt Whistle has lost none of its charm: beautiful sand beach, ringed with palm trees beneath which are thatched open-air huts for the restaurant and bar. The anchorage is a little rolly from the NE wind.
2-11-99, 13 00.14 N / 61 14.58 W, Admiralty Bay, Bequia
Wind E 15-17 knots. We had a fast trip, little seas, and a great sail! The autopilot was reacting erratically. Ron finds 2 large metal/steel cans of bug spray that Bonnie stored near the flux-gate compass for the autopilot. Once the cans were removed, the autopilot settled down nicely, hmmm. We set anchor at 1:30 pm and are looking forward to visiting all the little shops and our favorite restaurants. We find the Grenadines quite a bit colder that Trinidad and Venezuela. We have to sleep with blankets on at night and wear wind-breakers while sailing. It is a nice change from the heat.
48) Fax from Terre D'en Haut, Iles des Saintes, 2-26-99
2-14-99, 13 57.98 N / 61 01.45 W, Marigot Bay, St. Lucia
We pulled anchor at 5am and motor-sailed across to St. Vincent and then up the west side of St. Vincent in very light wind. After clearing St. Vincent the wind piped up (E 12-15 knots) and we had a GREAT sail (and fast) across to St. Lucia. This was one of the best sails we've had in the Caribbean. Our intentions are to get on a mooring between the Pitons but they were all full. The forecast was for unsettled weather and we are reluctant to set and anchor and tie off on shore. So we continue on to Marigot Bay where we are able to anchor on the inside in the lagoon even though it is a bit crowded. The next day we clear in and out of customs (they are most accommodating) and then work on boat projects. Ron repainted all the frames for the windows. We really like Marigot Bay. After a while we went up to the hotel for lunch and some swimming pool time.
2-17-99, 14 04.64 N / 60 57.05 W, Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
We beat up the shoreline against N/NE 15 knot winds. There was a big swell also from the north. We anchor inside the lagoon off the marina. Lots of boats. Friends drop by that we had met on the way down.
2-18-99, 14 36.16 N / 60 52.94 W, St. Anne's, Martinique
Another great sail, close hauled, wind E/NE 15 knots. We really have to marvel at the unusual light trade winds for this time of year. Nothing like the 25 knot plus we had coming down a couple of years ago. St. Anne's is a lovely beautiful French town. We buy some French bread and pastries; we try out our French but confusingly we keep lapsing into Spanish. We get some francs from an ATM at a bank.
2-19-99, 14 27.94 N / 60 52.15 W, Marin, Martinique
This is the furthest east we have been on the whole trip. We motor past Club Med up into the Marin cul de sac. We clear in and out of customs and immigration at the same time, nice. Had a delicious/expensive lunch at a restaurant overlooking the marina. All the charter boats on Martinique seem to be here, there are 7 different companies. We walk the docks looking at all of the boats, some of them are really state of the art, and huge - 60-70 feet.
2-20-99, 14 44.35 N / 61 10.67 W, St. Pierre, Martinique
Today we turned over 7,000 miles since leaving Bayfield. Today we also sailed wing on wing up the west coast of Martinique. We don't remember the last time we did that but it has to be at least a couple of years. Wind was SE/S 10 knots. St. Pierre is a neat little town nestled on the shore beneath the now quiet Mt. Pelee which erupted in 1902 killing all but one of the 30,000 inhabitants
2-21-99, 15 34.82 N / 61 27.73 W, Portsmouth, Dominica
Very light winds, E 6-8 knots. We motor-sail across to Dominica, this is the first time we have had to motor-sail in a long time. As we go up the west side on Dominica the wind is even lighter, the sea is like glass. Very unusual for the Caribbean where the trades are always blowing. At one point we even did a light switch to the NW. We anchored just to the north of Portsmouth.
2-22-99, 15 51.97 N / 61 35.18 W, Terre D'en Haut, Iles des Saintes
Have a boat boy take us in to check in and out of Dominica customs. Note: for some reason immigration is unnecessary. Spend a couple hours walking around town and pick up a few groceries. Dominica is one of the most beautiful islands in the chain, very lush and green. We did lots of touring on the island the last time we were here. However, it is also one of the most economically depressed and quite a change from the French Islands. The people are very friendly, we enjoyed talking to a number of them. Pulled anchor at 11:00 and had another really GRAND sail over to The Saintes, wind was E 12-17 knots, perfect!
On Tuesday we rented one motor-scooter for the 2 of us and spent the day touring this delightful French Island. It was a very powerful scooter - more like a small motorcycle. This was so we could tour the island on our own. We went way up on the hill to Fort Napoleon with its grand view of the harbor and surrounding islands, then across the island to some remote beaches, through residential areas and out in the country. Although Ron did a magnificent job driving, it was a fair bit terrifying for me at times. It was basically very scary about 80% of the time - we were an absolute terror on the small 1 lane roads. We had a couple close calls, we even went to the beaches on the other side of the island and through the dunes. Ron did very well steering with me sitting behind, I think there might be a part of his life he hasn't told me about. Lunch was at a delightful open air waterside restaurant with excellent French cuisine. The local drink here is the Tipunch - white rum with a dash of lemon and sugar. They were very good.
2-24-99, 16 13.40 N / 61 47.84 W, Deshaies, Guadaloupe
GREAT SAIL across the SW corner of Guadaloupe. Wind E/NE 12-15 knots and we never went below 6 knots, how sweet it is to be off the wind. Nice sail up the west side of the island - beam reach, no seas. Deshaies is quite small and not as prosperous as the rest of the island, yet it has a very quaint Caribbean charm. Hardly anyone can speak any English here so you are really on your own. We liked it here very much.
2-25-99, 17 00.22 N / 61 45.64 W, English Harbor, Antigua
Beam reach to Antigua. Wind E 15-20 knots. Fast trip, 6.5-7 knots the whole way - NICE. We worked our way through all the boats in English Harbor and take advantage of getting fuel and water at the dock. Clear into customs and immigration. Note: we had to pay $27 U.S. for harbor fees on the boat, us, and our length of stay. We found a nice place to anchor in Freeman Bay. We plan on taking the bus across the island for a day in St. Johns and then the steel band up on Shirley Heights on Sunday afternoon.
As you can see we have had some really great sailing, the sail to Antigua was absolutely fantastic, the way sailing should be. It is so good to be cruising again and on the move.
49) Fax from Virgin Islands, 3-10-99
3-1-99, 17 09.12 N / 62 37.85 W, Pinney's Beach, Nevis
How great it is to be off the wind again, we remember beating to Antigua via Monserrat 2 years ago. Wind E/NE 10-15 knots. Anchor off a beautiful stand of palm trees away from the Four Season Resort building complex. Note: during happy hour at 5:15 we witnessed an eruption at Monserrat - 35 miles away. A HUGE cloud of ash billowed high up into the sky. The eruption was confirmed on the SSB weather net the next day.
Tuesday we spent hiking the long beach, one of the most beautiful we've seen in the Caribbean, visiting the lush Four Seasons Resort, lunch, and a walk into town.
3-2-99, 17 28.74 N / 62 59.34 W, Oranjestad, Statia
Great Sail!! Double reef main, double reef genny, wind E 20 knots. Set anchor at 11 am and spent the rest of the day exploring the town. Note: no customs as such - have to check in with port authority at the base of the commercial dock and then go up the cliff via the Old Slave Road to the police station to have our passports stamped. Statia is Dutch and we go to the bank to get some guilders ($1 = 1.8 guilders). Everyone speaks English. One of the best kept secrets in the Caribbean (at least to us) is that there is a huge refinery here. There were five large tankers here, lost of tug-boat traffic, a large tank farm, and long commercial dock for loading and unloading north of the town. Apparently tankers bring the oil in for refining and then take it off.
3-4-99, 17 54.31 N / 62 51.34 W, Gustavia, St. Barts
I really HATE beating to weather, wind was NE 15-20 knots. We hope this the last now for a while. We get into St. Barts around noon and spend the rest of the day checking out the town, checking in and out of customs, lunch, walk over to shell beach, and pick up some bakery goods.
3-5-99, 18 04.10 N / 63 05.30 W, Marigot Bay, St. Martin
How nice to be off the wind again - wind NE 15-20 knots. We had hoped to see some of the Heineken Regatta this weekend - but we didn't plan on being in it! Our timing couldn't have been any better. As we rounded the top of St. Martin we came into the windward leg of the maxi-boat race. They sailed right by us, tacking in front and behind - then rounding the mark behind us and popping their chutes. We thought for sure we were going to be asked to leave the course - especially when the committee boat came by - but nothing was said and everyone seemed pretty relaxed about the whole thing. It was a bit un-nerving for us though at times, as these huge boats were coming at us from the front, tacking back and forth on the windward leg and then the faster boats were barreling down on us from aft with their spinnakers. The boats were 80 feet and larger, with crews of 12-15. Some of those with spinnakers came so close that we were able to talk with them as they whistled by. Ron was like a kid in a candy store and I took a whole roll of film.
Anchoring Marigot Bay was equally fun as we got to watch all the boats (about 200) from the different classes as they came in. Needless to say anchoring was quite tight, we had large boats to each side of us and the partying on shore with steel bands, etc lasted until after 2 am. Checked in and out of customs - note: it is French law that you must present your own original boat documentation paper for close inspection. We really like the French islands. They are clean, prosperous with many amenities - even though more expensive than the other islands. We have enjoyed eating out and the delights of French cuisine. Bought a case of very good French wine, $1.69/bottle!
3-8-99, 18 29.92 N / 64 23.41 W, Leverick Bay, Virgin Gorda
Pulled anchor at 01:00 for the Anegada Passage. Winds were very light - less than 10 knots so we motor-sailed. We had an uneventful passage except that we saw whales two different times. Our first whale was "spy hopping" out of the water at a distance. Set anchor at 16:00, 80 nm total.
We have joined the SSB Caribbean Weather Net ($100). One of their services is that they have a number to call in case of emergency to leave a message which will broadcast at the beginning of the net at 8:30 in the morning. Since we usually listen to then net it would be a quick way to reach us for and emergency. We would then call a number given in the message as soon as we can get to a phone. This coverage is good until we get to the Bahamas, it is located in the British Virgin Islands.