September 29, 2006
Well it all started with a “special offer” eMail from Sunsail, two week flotilla out of St Vincent, and the discovery that they were offering a “share-a-yacht” option, four up on a Sun Odessey 43DS.
Looked like a good trip, into an area I had never sailed before, so I suggested to my sister that she might like to join me..
When is it? October. When is the hurricane season? June to November. Not likely!
Oh well so its off on my own with three strangers then…
A week before I am due to go, I was wondering if Pat had made the right decision, THREE named storms in the Atlantic at the same time, Florence, Gordon and Helen…
Then I get a phone call from SunSail, “We have a little problem, the other three have all cancelled”. “No you have a problem, I have a yacht, but I’ll need to borrow someone from the Lead Crew to help sail it. Can I have the hostess please?”
Unfortunately the Hostess had been a barmaid the month before and had never sailed before so I had to go out with the Flotilla Skipper as my crew, whilst the Engineer and Hostie handled the lead boat.
This also meant that we had to be the first to arrive at each anchorage, which is not my normal behaviour when out on flotilla, I like sailing not necessarily going straight from A to B.
September 30, 2006
Get up early, taxi into town to get provisions for the boat, and then get ready to depart.
It a short first day just slip across to Britannia Bay on Bequia.
My first day of sailing on the Atlantic, with the swells coming in from the east.
Anchor in the bay, and run Guy back to his own boat in the dinghy, and then use the dinghy to get ashore, we won’t see many pontoons on this trip.
Punch party on the beach tonight to allow the crews to get to know each other.
Now comes the interesting bit, I’m single handed at night, listening to the noises and wondering if she’s dragging. I’m more used to being tied to a harbour wall or marina than swinging on the hook all night.
I also have to get myself back aboard, shoudn’t of let them introduce me to so much Mount Gay rum…
October 01, 2006
Out of the bay, along to the western end of Bequia and left hand down a bit.
It looks like being mainly line of sight sailing for this trip, island hopping just like Western Greece or Croatia, but there is something missing… I know what it is in the Adriatic you always have the mainland in view as well, here we just have the scattered line of islands
We have been told all about Basil’s Bar on Mustique in the briefing but we are a little ahead of the tourist season and it is closed for renovation.
Up the hill to the Firefly restaurant, and a very pleasent evening, but this time remember not to drink too much as the dinghy awaits.
October 02, 2006
South West to Canouan, leaving it to port and then look for the leading marks to line up for the channel into the Tobago Cays.
Beautiful clear water, white beaches, palm trees, and a sandy bottom. This is how I expected the Caribbean to be.
Anchor down, Guy back to Crevette and here I am alone again on Havika III with only a coral reef and the little island of Petite Tabac between me and Africa.
Dig out the snorkel and flippers and over to the reef to try out my dive camera. Only inside the reef though, it is ok being on my own but I could do with someone else around, for safety’s sake.
Oops getting ito the water from a dinghy is a lot easier than getting back into the dinghy on your own.. Remember to fit a grab rope next time!
Back towards the boat, watching out for the coral heads that lie in wait just below the surface, lift the outboard before it hits one..
Run ashore to meet up with the others on the nearby beach for a few drinks and a bit of a barbeque and back aboard for the night, leave the VHF on in case Guy needs to call in the night…
Oops a call from one of the others, they were getting their outboard off of the dinghy and forgot to tie the painter on, one crew member adrift without oars or engine. On my way..
October 03, 2006
A ridiculously short trip today 45 minutes to go around the top of Mayreau and drop the hook in Saltwhistle bay.
But what a bay, nestling in behind a sandy isthmus covered in palms, with views out to the Cays once you are ashore.
Walk along the eastern shore trying to get a photo of a pair Pelicans diving into the water, synchronised diving, Caribbean style.
Take a stroll along the road to the village, have a beer in a local bar watching the sun go down, and then join the gang for a meal.
Restaurant owner ferries us all back to Saltwhistle in his truck so we don’t even have to stagger back over the hill.
October 04, 2006
Another fairly short haul today down to the village of Clifton on Union Island.
A small village, but still a major metropolis compared with the places we have visited since leaving St Vincent. We call in here to restock and rewater and also to go through the formalities of clearing customs as tommorow we leave the Grenadines and go on into the islands of Grenada.
Out on the reef that provides shelter to the anchorage is a little man made island built of old conch shells, which supports the Happy Island bar. You can take the dinghy out there go ashore to the bar and then snorkel off the island returning to the bar when you feel the need for further refreshment.
On little problem today, my main camera seems to have got wet somehow and no longer wants to power-up. Still the memory card is OK and I do still have its twin in my dive housing.
Up to the airport to visit the customs office and fill-out the numerous details they require to let you leave the country.
October 05, 2006
Up early this morning as usual and sitting on the baot watching the world go by. Sent my sister a text back to the cold and wet of England "Lovely and sunny here, hurricanes all gone to Bermuda, water temperature is a bit cold, only 32C, but it is stillonly 7 am so it should warm up later" She has regreted not going on the trip ever since!
Then a quick sail down to Hillsborough on Carriacou.
Anchor down, ashore to clear in through customs, and there is still time for a dinghy trip down to Sandy Island, and a look at the wildlife.
Fantastic snorkelling, a real Blue Planet moment when I realise that the big dark patch off the beach is not a patch of weed it is a shoal of fish about 100 feet long and 30 wide.
Switch the dive camera to Video mode and in we go, flashes of silver as the shoal makes room for me to swim through.
I can’t see anything but silver small fry until I get through the shoal and into clear water.
Back to Havika and watch the sun go down, and take the camera out of its housing so that I can review my video. I must adjust my style when filming underwater, too much panning around…
Ashore again at sunset for a group meal so take the camera to show the gang what I filmed over at Sandy.
Come back to the yacht, tie on the painter, put the camera around my neck, go to get aboard and SPLASH, dinghy moved in the rollers and I’m in the drink
Get back aboard and check the camera, dead as a dodo. No more photos this trip!
October 06, 2006
Another easy day, get some more supplies in Hillsborough and then slip around the headland and into Tyrrel Bay.
There are a lot of boats anchored in here, pick a spot and drop the hook, bed it in and adjust the cable to reduce the swing a bit. Deck Saloon models may give you good visibility from below but she doen’t seem to want to lie at the same angle as some of our near neighbours.
Ashore for a beer and a meal and back to Havika for the night.
Leave the VHF on as usual, in case of any emergencies.
Its 3am and I’m still worried about swinging into someone, so I’m up checking on the anchor when MAYDAYMAYDAY.. One of the couples on a boat in the fleet has a medical emergency, Jim seems not to be breathing.
Guy, the flotilla skipper comes on to say that the enigineer is still ashore with his dinghy, and I can interrupt to say "I’m on my way to pick you up".
We get to the casualty but it is obvious that he had died a while earlier, no point in trying CPR, he has been gone too long.
If there had been any hope we would of tried of course, but if had come to that how do you actually do CPR whilst getting someone ashore in a dinghy?
We take his wife over to one of the other boats whith two ladies aboard and then comes the job of getting the body out of the forepeak, into a dinghy and ashore to take it up to the mortuary at the hospital. No ambulances on Carriacou, so we have to knock up a local with a truck to assist us.
But as his wife said later, "He died in his sleep when he was having the trip of a lifetime and enjoying it so much".
October 07, 2006
Guy is busy this morning sorting out the legal side of last night’s tradgedy and making sure that the widow is getting all the help that she can, contacting the embassy for her, finding her a hotel etc.
The rest of the fleet has departed for the run back up tp Clifton on Union Island, so that they can clear customs agian and re-renter St Vincent and the Grenadines.
I have to wait for Guy, and eventually when he returns he asks if I would be happy taking Havika back to Union on my own whilst he takes the couples 35 back. No problem, and off we go.
Anchor at Clifton again and back to the airport for the customs yet again.
Most of the other boats in the fleet have gone back up to the Tobago Cays and the hostie has organised one of the locals to put on a lobster barbeque up there. Barbaque man is going up from Clifton so I arrange to go with him in his speedboat.
I wouldn’t liike to do that sort of speed in these waters, but he must know them like the back of his hand, now where is the safest place to sit without getting soaked as he hits the waves…
Coming back at night and he really shows that he knows the waters, steering straight at a cardinal flashing away off Palm Island and then turning for Clifton as he gets abeam of another light on Union,
October 08, 2006
Today we left Union and headed South East down to Petite St Vincent.
On the way we pass the sandbank / island that appears in so many tourist books, a small sandbar with one palm-fronded beach umbrella on it.
Well we can see the umbrella but its blowing a good Bf5 and the seas are breaking over the entire island, so no stopping there today…
PSV has a good anchorage but the island is a posh private resort.
With the fleet safely anchored we arranged for a local boat to ferry everyone over to Petite Martinique for the evening and collect us later.