Saturday, 25 April 2015

Dinghy dilemmas, Anchoring antics and Carriacou

Eli's porthole photo
 Anytime we go anywhere in our banana boat/origami dinghy, we find people tend to stop and stare, take photos, or just point and laugh!  But after recent incidents, she is nothing short of legendary and seeing as our boat is named Ula (pronounced Ooh-la), I think the most appropriate name for our dinghy is… “Ooh-la-la.”- For her stunning good looks and death-defying stunts. Let me divulge…
Incident#1:  Still exhausted and reeling from our over-night, nerve-shattering sail up from Trinidad, having cleared in at Prickly Bay, Grenada, we decided to re-anchor in a not so roly area, also closer to a small surf break.  Dave dropped anchor and I gunned Ula into reverse a little too vigorously.  Something catches my attention out of the corner of my eye.  Much to my horror, I see our dinghy, still tied to our starboard side, but standing up above our lifelines, nose pointed to the clouds like she is preparing to ascend to heaven.  I quickly throw it into neutral and because our anchor has only dipped into the water, watch the other anchored yachts nearby like a hawk, hoping we don’t get too much closer.  Dave manages to get the dinghy into a more stabilised,  horizontal, floating position, outboard still attached after it’s submersible stint.  The boys glumly watch our new set of family jandals (flip-flops) wash away swiftly in the current while we find a more isolated patch to re-anchor.  Dave pulled apart the outboard and thanks to a crash-course in outboard maintenance back in Trinidad with our friend Eric, he successfully gets it up and running!  Ooh la la lives another day, seemingly unscathed.
juice shack

Carenage, St George

small almond factory

small almond for a lot of finger banging!

A week or so later, anchored outside St George, we dinghy to a dock a few miles down the beach. 
We end up meeting some friends who live on a boat in Grenada.  They take us for a bit of a road trip up island to see the Concord Falls.  We walk through some muddy tracks, cross the river several times, through jungle dotted with cocoa, mango, banana and nutmeg trees. 
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nutmeg tree
red mace wrapped around the dark brown nutmeg, inside fruit

Many rasta market gardens in clearings throughout the jungle
The waterfall is a welcome refreshment, not half as cold as what we’re used to back home!
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Back home late afternoon, boys are driving us crazy, we send them outside for some peace and they’re still yelling and going on.  Then we notice some alarm in their voices.  Jumping up on deck, we see our dinghys’ top edge is only 10mm above water!  Securing another line to Ula, Dave and I jump over board with large containers to bail out our poor dinghy.  Getting her up on deck, we discover a mystery: our robust dinghy has a thumb sized hole through the outside skin and reinforced plastic transom (back end). 
To make this hole would have to make a lot of noise, we have to conclude: some stealthy swordfish has taken out it’s serious revenge issues on our poor, defenceless Ooh la la.
Dave fixes the transom by putting a bolt and washer in the hole- the other sides have bolts in them, so why not?!  The outboard is pulled apart again and amazingly Ooh la la lives again.
the evolutionary scale of Salem: from monkey...
to butler!
Had a great sail up the coast Easter Monday, felt like we learnt heaps about how our boat performs best and getting a few nice smooth tacks in also.  It was getting dark and we decided to motor the last mile or two into the anchoring spot at Sauteurs on the North end of Grenada.  In 1651, Carib families jumped to their deaths off the 130ft cliff as a final retreat from approaching French soldiers. 
It was cloudy and dark by the time we got there, relying totally on the gps, I told Dave on the bow, this is the anchor spot.  There were no other yachts around, we knew rocks hugged the coastline, it seemed to offer very little protection from the Atlantic running past or the Nor- Easterly wind howling through from the same direction.  We were rocking about like some B-grade attraction at the rodeo.  We both had the same look of concern in our eyes confirming: this wont do.  We headed for Sugar loaf Island another supposed anchoring spot a short distance round the corner. 
The little island was 370m from the mainland and already had about 4 pirogues anchored there in a tiny bay.  If we tried to anchor in there we would probably swing around and knock them out like skittles.  The gps showed an anchor spot right where we could see waves wrapping and breaking around the island 100m away. We decided to trust what our eyes saw rather than the conflicting virtual reality shown on screen.
We decided to anchor just out a bit further in the channel as the movement was a lot better facing into the current.  Shortly after, I came out from the cockpit to check the area, the clouds had moved aside for the full moon which revealed waves wrapping around both sides of the island and waves breaking onto the mainland Levera Beach 200 metres away-hmmm.  We decided to take shifts keeping an eye on whether we were drifting (also checking with the long/latt. numbers on the gps).
Eli sleeps up front and normally wakes and yells out any time he hears the chain moving/groaning – the noise tends to magnify like a tin can in his cabin.  That night we were up above his berth on deck figuring what to do, letting out more chain, even woke him, saying we need him to help re-anchor and he never emerged or woke for that matter-he must’ve been tired!  The boat swung sideways into the swell and current during the night providing a horrible motion rocking from gunwhale to gunwhale (check out my nautical-ness!) – it gave the feeling lying down, trying to sleep as Dave describes it best: like you’re sliding in your skin, the pressure rocking from head to bum.
We motored forward, dragging the boat, anchor and all out into the channel a bit more and went back to our watches.
Sugarloaf anchorage??? Sandy Island off the bow

The last couple of hours early morning the anchor finally took hold.  We were shattered.  Looking around I said to Dave if I’d seen this place in the daylight, I would never have agreed to motor in and anchor up!  It was picturesque though. 
Surf possibilities? Small waves wrapping around Sugarloaf with less than 1m swell

Our engine had developed a little issue of over-heating once or twice before.  We had found out it was due to the sea chest getting air bubbles in it, drains the water which is supposed to be getting sucked through the engine to cool it.  The air bubbles were a result of so much rocking around.  Easily fixed within a few minutes of loosening a bolt to let the air out. but we didn’t want this happening again - another job on the to-do list.
With much apprehension, we prayed and got to it.  Just after we started the engine we noticed a local rowing from the mainland to the island, without drifting way down the channel.  This was a great comfort perfectly timed and encouraged us that if he could hold up against the current, then surely our 85hp perkins could do it.  Thankfully, the anchor came up easily and we motored a short distance to the picture postcard Sandy Island.
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This too had surf breaking either side of the island (unfortunately not surf-able, due to the constant onshore winds), on it’s outer reefs but the anchorage was a lot better.
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Great to get ashore and chill for a few hours snorkelling and exploring.
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Eli climbed a coconut tree and cut open a couple for us to drink- yum, cool, refreshing and filling.  The white sand and torqoise water was amazing.  Saw some reef fish and a couple of puffer fish. 
Checked out a ship wreck which haunted Eli and Eden a bit!  Another rocky, sleepless night, we were keen to get to a bigger island the next day. 

Dave figured out an excellent route taking into account wind and current and we had a really enjoyable sail up to Carriacou.
Anchoring up in Tyrell Bay we couldn’t believe how still it was and the gps numbers stayed the same all night!
bar and bbq area
Carriacou is the first time it has actually felt like we have anchored up at an island.  It is very laid back, people very nice and cruisy.
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Dave, and I got to see the “Green flash!”-Although the name is highly over-rated, it’s not like the Northern lights.  It has to be the right atmospheric conditions, no clouds on the horizon  and just before the sun dips under the sea, it turns a green glow.  Still stoked we got to see it!
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Went over to Windward on the North side to see some traditional boat building using only hand tools. 
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Got a  few boat jobs done, mainly chilled, socialised and swam.
Eden our 5 year old really got the hang of swimming when he realised he wanted to jump off the jetty and swim back to shore!  Made some nice friends who took the boys wakeboarding and skurfing also.
Eden skurfing-pretty good for a 5 year olds' first attempt!
Had our first sail down wind back to Grenada, learnt more about our boats’ abilities and was another successful, enjoyable sail, even got to sail into the anchorage well before the sun went down!  Another cruiser called over a little while after and complemented us on our fine looking vessel and the way we sailed in, pulling down one sail after another and reassured us about ocean travel. To top off the great day, we dingied into the main harbour that night and tied up to a floating pontoon to listen to some really good local bands, including one steel pan band of mainly kids.  Very cool experience.
Well, that’s all for now, have a few ideas/plans in the pipeline but have lots of research and work to do so wont be revealing until it’s definitely happening.  Until then……
May you find beauty wherever you are…
even if it’s just a weed!


  1. This is awesome. What an adventure!!! :)

    1. Thanks Renee, glad you liked it, appreciate the feedback:)