Monday, 10 November 2014

Whizzing Through the Windward Islands ….. Oct/Nov 2014

28 Oct – 06 Nov 2014:  Tyrrel Bay, Carriacoú to Rodney Bay, St Lucia ~ 14 04N 60 57W


Farewell to Grenada

We were sad to leave Grenada, it had been all work and no play since we returned from England and we didn’t really feel as if we had done it justice this time around.  Conditions were perfect for us to start our journey north, light winds were blowing from the south east, seas were flat, the skies were clear – doesn’t come much better.

Conditions were also ideal to stay in the Grenadines and linger a little longer, visit the small islands we hadn’t previously been to and enjoy the area while there was an easing of the trades.  It was very tempting, we feel this area is one of the best in the Eastern Caribbean chain, with small islands close together, pretty anchorages, clear water and partly sheltered waters.PA290090

But the lull in the trades and a favourable slightly southerly wind angle also meant we could get through the Windward Islands without having to beat to windward.  Having previously visited this area during the infamous “Christmas Trades” we had no desire to experience those winds again and felt we just couldn’t pass this chance up. 

We had a lovely sail the first day up to Tyrrel Bay on the western coast of Carriacou amongst a large flotilla of yachts travelling north, including Australians Lenny and Gina on Feijáo and Canadians Jeff and Janet on Truant 3.  The Skippers all went into race mode and a fun day was had, rounded off with a few ice cold beers ashore as we watched the sun dip over the horizon.  


Back to Bequia

We had a leisurely start to the morning, checked out , farewelled Truant 3 and left in company with Feijáo with plans to stop at maybe Union Island or Mayreau for the night.  But once we had the sails set we were flying along in flat water, conditions were delightful and we calculated that if the breeze held we could make Bequia before dusk, and we did.  We have anchored in Bequia 3 times now and despite rating it as one of our favourite islands on our first visit  we didn’t go ashore on our way back down to Grenada or this time either, shame really.PA290085

It was an early night for us and a dawn departure, the winds were forecast to move more around to the east so we cracked on.  The channel between Bequia and St Vincent was comfortable enough and its only around 10 miles across so we were in the lee of St Vincent with calm seas again in time for breakfast.   A very pleasant sail followed in wonderful flat water, the vista of St Vincent a magnificent backdrop.  Hundreds of shades of green painted the landscape as lush virgin rainforest folded down very steep valleys dropping off sharply into the deep blue Caribbean.

P6110015 A Very Mixed Bag

The advantage of being in a convoy of yachts is that generally someone is in front of us, today was no exception.  So it was with some trepidation we forged on out of the lee of St Vincent and into to the channel between it and St Lucia.  We could see the seas running, a big Atlantic swell was rolling through with angry whitecaps flying off in the accelerated winds.  The forward boats heeled well over or rounded up with too much sail  as the gusts hit them – hang on fellas!! 

We had a reef in the main, rolled up the headsail and headed out like another little lamb to the slaughter.  We had gusts in the mid 30’s knots, sustained low 20’s and a very agitated sea, what a difference to the previous channel just a couple of hours ago.  Leaving the Pitons heading south, June 2014Balvenie galloped across coping well in the washing machine water state: wash – rinse – agitate – spin, on about a one minute cycle!!  Eventually the seas settled down, we rolled the headsail out a little and flew across the waves towards St Lucia.  

We had planned to stop at Soufriere on a park mooring nestled under the spectacular Pitons.  We had stayed there on our way south earlier in the season  and I was keen to return.  Skipper had Rodney Bay in his sights and there was no debating with him, when we entered calmer water the full headsail was unleashed, the winds were steady and Balvenie flew along in flat water doing over 7 knots heading for the finish line.  P6130018 We slipped into Rodney Bay with seconds of daylight remaining, dawn to dusk  - nearly 70 miles in just over 12 hours , an excellent effort.

Time to Get Blown Up

Our main reason for stopping at St Lucia was to have our liferaft serviced.  It is over 20 years old and we needed to make sure it was up for the journey across the Pacific.  We took it into the liferaft service centre and spent a morning with them as they carefully opened the outer shell,  removed the gas cylinders (they automatically inflate it in an emergency) unpacked the liferaft, and took out all the contents - then the moment of truth – will it inflate???  The air hose was attached and our big bouncy castle began to take shape.  

We were very happy and relieved to see our liferaft fully inflated in almost perfect condition, in the words of our service man “they don’t make them like this anymore”. PB030102 Give us a “Made in Japan” label any day – China might produce the quantity of goods these days but we are yet to find anything of quality that comes from its shores, especially in the marine industry.

We spent a week in St Lucia waiting for the return of our bouncy castle.  Feijáo were anchored nearby so we had company for happy hours.  A few more boats jobs were completed, skipper serviced our primary winches, stainless steel was cleaned and polished (no shortage of water when the thunder clouds gathered) and we finally started to kick back and take things easy.  We did an afternoon excursion to nearby Pigeon Island Fort & National Park, an enjoyable hike afforded some excellent views across Rodney Bay, south to the Pitons and north to Martinique.

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We lost a day as we were not happy with the seal around the liferaft on completion so asked for it to be re-done.  As with our moan about “Made in China” products we are getting sick and tired of having inferior work done but top prices being charged for them.  The following day the liferaft returned with a watertight seal, as it should have the previous day.

Enough of St Lucia ….. Time for a Taste of France 


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