We have amazed ourselves by getting to Rodney Bay before the first of December. It was our plan to head north from Grenada early, to stay out of the strong "Christmas Winds", but we certainly got wind. Here is how it shaped up:
We were launched on the 23rd of November, and spent until the 26th just putting the boat together and fixing small problems. Except for a couple of trips to little restaurants near the university with Lorna and Brian, we kept pretty low key and busy. Indeed, instead of running with the Grenada Hash House Harriers, we maintained our exercise regiment hauling heavy groceries back from various locations. Finally, with L and B, we made the short trip to the shelf outside St. Georges, and I did one last chandlery run. Both Cat Tales and Peace & Plenty left for Carriacou on Sunday morning, with an anomalous wind from the south-east. The sailing was beautiful, and Tyrell Bay was made without an extra tack or motoring.
|Heading into Tyrell Bay, Carriacou|
That does not mean without drama, however. Peace and Plenty had a seawater impeller problem, meaning no cooling water to their heat exchanger and no water in their exhaust. We tried harnessing the boat to the side of Cat Tales twice - the first time, we were still in some small waves, with poor alignment, and the heaving was too much for us; indeed the bow line broke. Brian sailed under jib to calmer water, we reconnected and got them in far enough to anchor. Before poor Brian had his first "anchor beer", he had to put in an hour as a mechanic, but he got the impeller replaced.
|Brian and Laurie connecting our boats together to tow Lorna and Brian into Tyrell Bay. They are still working on getting the life line repaired after the damage done that day.|
Monday morning, we both cleared customs and headed north. The wind had further clocked around so that we were on a lovely broad reach. Most of the afternoon we were traveling over 7 knots. Cat Tales handled beautifully, but Brian spent a lot of time at the helm of Peace & Plenty as she wallowed back and forth with a following sea. We anchored in Bequia with the intention of leaving at 0300 hours, but we all had second thoughts as the sky darkened, lightning flashed from all directions all night, and we got communication about a dangerous squall line that swept through Martinique and St. Lucia at 2100 hours. At 0300 hours, we made the decision to pull the plug, and went back to bed. Dawn and I were awakened at daylight with breaking waves under our boat and our stern terribly close to a rocky beach. After re-anchoring, we all spent the day in the rain and wind reading and trying to put together a picture of what had happened in Rodney Bay during the storm.
|Rainy day in Bequia waiting to sail north|
Apparently, many boats we knew were very much involved. John Fallon's boat Stopp Knot was blown into the shallows near Sandals, and pounded on her keel for a long time before Sandals dive boats worked together in the dark to get her back into deep water. He's in the boatyard now, getting some keel cracks patched up. Robin Unwin's boat had her bowsprit and a shroud ripped when a charterboat blew past, and his wooden mast is now in two pieces. Steve McMullan and Jenny's boat Tanglewood was stopped at the last minute when the anchor found a giant hunk of coral, but it apparently loosened the windlass (repairable). We understand that some boats cut loose their ground tackle and headed to sea to avoid disaster. At least no lives lost. I have been snorkeling for John's lost sail cover, with no luck so far.
On the 30th, we finally carried on to Rodney Bay, but the wind and rain were the main event, along with a few freighters coming out of the mist. These were monsters traveling at 12-13 knots, with bow waves bigger than houses, but they first showed only on our AIS devices (devices that use a combination of VHF frequencies and global positioning systems to provide a radar-like picture of impending doom), and only later appeared much closer. However, in two cases, in spite of the visual information we had that insisted that death was imminent, the electronic devices determined that they were passing our track at least a half mile away. ...and they did. Both ships approached from the west, and the signals indicated that both, one a tanker and the other a container ship, were headed to Singapore.
|A single Piton of St. Lucia in the mist. Where did the other one go??|
Both boats had some amazing sailing with broad reaching. Cat Tales was often doing 10 knots with the smallest amount of sail and only 3 feet of jib, while Brian used only his jib and found his boat wallowed much less and had a great performance.
Since arriving, we have had a party on the marina boardwalk, and a lovely meal of curried conch with Lorna and Brian last night on Cat Tales. We'll lay low and recover tonight. I spent the afternoon swimming around where John had his mishap - apparently, he had a new mainsail cover folded up in his cockpit when the wind hit, and it went over the side. No luck finding it so far. Maybe Dawn will help tomorrow.
I should mention that we have been enjoying callaloo, christophene, plantain, green fig, conch, and a little tuna we caught on the west side of Grenada, aboard our boats since we were launched - in a hurry to pick up our culinary skills where we parked them last year.
|Brian using our stern shower hose to add water to his Demerera Rum! How handy is that?|
After losing yet another bilge pump, I am rewiring the systems with quick connect plugs to make them easier to test and replace. I am more than a little disappointed in the short lives these Rule 500gph pumps seem to have, with never an indication as to why they stop working. I took the pump apart, and it was totally dry and shiny inside - no indication of the cause of the failure, and no way to reassemble.
Cat Tales had a failure to shoot seawater from the starboard exhaust upon being launched, and even after being primed with water, the output was a little light. Yesterday, I dismantled both the front and back of the heat exchanger, and found a partial blockage in the black section: apparently a piece of fibrous waxed paper that had been able to pass through some of the exchanger before opening up and covering some of the tubes.
|Laurie cleaning the fuel filter|
|Reading the manual...looking for clews about the oil pressure sensor!|
|Tearing the boat apart again!!|
I had some luck with the cleaning out of a Racor 500 filter assembly, today. I turned off the fuel, drained the unit into a little pail (cut up vinegar jug), and then used a construction syringe to spray the drained fuel back through the housing with the filter removed. I was able to dislodge all materials on the vanes and on the bottom of the acrylic bowl without having to dismantle the unit with only six syringe-fulls. The filter had not been replaced since 2012, and still did not look dirty, but the housing was no longer allowing visibility. We checked the primary filter at the engine, and it was pristine. Dawn and I jerry-jug our fuel aboard, apply algae killer, allow the fuel to settle, and then pour the supernatant into our tank. As well, both the primary and secondary filters are 2 microns. The system seems to work for us, and contrary to some older texts on the subject, the filters do not seem to be breaking down with extended use.
Presently, I am working on a faulty oil pressure sensor/sender. I'll post about it next time.