Monday, July 9, 2012

Family Vacation - part 2

I’m ravenously downloading movies using the high speed Internet at Secret Harbour marina. I’ve got a cappuccino in hand and an afternoon of relaxation ahead, after the busy weeks we’ve had.
We might currently be stranded here, in this bay, while Shiloh sits on anchor around the corner at Hog island. Our dinghy motor is not behaving, stopped spitting water and instead gasped out a lot of smoke as we arrived here a while ago. Not sure she’ll make it back as it seems we have a clogged filter/impeller. But that is another story, for another day. I’m confident it will pan out into a blog post in the next few days.
For now, I’m looking back on the week that was, with our enthusiastic guests onboard, and lots of fun and games with mother nature out at sea.
We arrived in Tobago Cays through a washing machine of waves and were finally able to make good on our promise to JW’s neice, that she would swim with turtles. She devoured every minute of what the aqua wonderland had to offer and we barely saw her little face without a snorkel suctioned to it. She collected shells, marveled at the iguanas and played with starfish.
Swimming with the turtles
 As for her big brother, he named himself dinghy captain from day one, and if he was not pranking us with mayday calls on the two way radio, he was buzzing around on the rubber speed machine, or taxiing us around. Dad, the avid fisherman tried his best and caught a few small ones but the big dorados and albacore tunas evaded us. 
 Luckily there was local rum to soothe the disappointment. Mom took some well deserved moments of quiet reading time and joined in for some great snorkeling as well. Basically a fun time was had by all.
On the other hand, captain JW and I faced some weather phenomenon that led to at least a couple of sleepless nights. On the first, I awoke in our normally protected anchorage in the Cays, to find Shiloh facing away from the anchor and getting dangerously close to the beach. I woke JW and we observed the swirling pool we found the boat in. The current was pushing us toward the wind and the result was a spinning boat. We upped the anchor and let it settle just outside the strange area, but alas we were almost touching the stony reef behind us and at midnight we tried anchoring again. This time we moved a bit further into the channel and fought the current for a while until we gave up and went back down to bed.
When we left the Cays and checked out of St. Vincent and the Grenadines at Union Island, we decided to skip checking in at Carriacou and find a desolate bay for the night, before heading straight back to Grenada. We rounded the southern tip of Carriacou and found White Island, a gorgeous sand bank lined with palm trees, but as we came closer, it became obvious that the waves were far to rough to anchor. Just behind, there was a small island called Saline, with a slightly more protected bay, and we decided to check it out before heading further south to Isle de Ronde. A French catamaran was out there in the waves with us, and they headed in right in front of us. There was room for a boat and a half in the tiny bay, but it was calmer. As we decided whether to move on or stay the night, our fisherman realised his eager line had caught something big alright – our propeller! So, we had to hold still in the swell, now realising how close we were to the reefs, while he dived down to get it all untangled. The boat moved further out into the waves and he struggled, coming up looking like a punk rocker with our blue anti-fouling paint all over his head. He had also gotten a few scrapes from the increasing barnacle population under the boat, and we decided we should get back into the relative protection of the bay and anchor so he could work at it properly.
So, with one engine we motored toward the French Cat and dropped anchor in the clear shallow water, falling back in crystal blue water, mindful of the coral, and rocks that lined the beach and the edge of the island behind us.
A view of Shiloh from the Saline Island beach, dinghy captain in the foreground, French Cat further ahead
 The fishing line was removed and we all agreed the island was too quaint to leave. We explored the water, finding a wealth of bright coloured fish below the surface. And along the beach, an old fort, an abandoned wooden cottage, the marked grave of Patrick John who died in 1959, surrounded by conch shells, and a tipped over sign saying NO TRESPASSING.
Patrick John's tombstone
 We retreated to the boat, but JW kept looking back at that reef, so close. He rigged up a system to mark the danger point in the water, something involving a lifejacket, a waterproof light and a rope with a big rock attached. The whole thing was eventually abandoned and we had a relaxed drink and supper and headed to bed early. The plan was that the two men would get up early and we’d start back toward Grenada at 5 am.
But as it goes, the wind picked up considerably about 11pm, and JW was up, monitoring. Our anchor drag alarm is not a precise tool, and it would warn us we had moved about the time we would be upon the reef. And so it was that JW stayed up the whole night, as the wind beat us harshly.
The anchor did hold though, and luckily it was the same for the French Cat in front of us, or we’d have had them upon us in seconds as well.
I guess JW was tired of watching and upped anchor at 4am. We then faced a mean current and slamming side-on waves for a good 2.5 hours. I lie awake in the cabin below, wasting my chance to sleep in, with the violent slapping Shiloh was enduring.
I emerged at 7am as we were reaching the top tip of Grenada and one sight of my captain pulled at my heartstrings. He was beyond exhausted.
He asked me to take over at the helm (now that we were in calm seas, protected in the lee of the island), and stumbled by me to get an hour or two of sleep.
A little while later his sis came up from her cabin with a dry mouth full of toothpaste and managed to explain that there was no water. But we had done so well with water conservation?! Everyone had barely showered?! But we checked a few taps and indeed it was dry.
Turns out the shower pipe at the back of the boat had burst and we’d lost over 300 litres of water, directly into our bilges. So, Shiloh made the final leg of the trip waterlogged, and with a crew of morning breath.
And somewhere around 10am we woke our captain and made a smooth entry to Port Louis marina, pulled up alongside, desperate for hot showers, a swim in the pool and some cool cocktails.
And by the next morning our guests had gone, and we made loose plans to do this again. Then we set to the task of cleaning. Luckily the mountains of salty towels and sheets were laundered by the marina and we pumped out all the water.
By 5pm we’d done everything and collapsed into the pool.
Are we ready for chartering? I decided if we ever did it, we’d only offer one week a month, the other three would be for turn over and recooperation!

1 comment:

  1. When I see those beautiful sailboats I never think about all the work behind their beauty. Rest up!