Friday, 3 April 2015

Immigration issues to greener waters

“Morning, morning,” as the Trini’s like to say.  I left off from my last post that our visas were almost up and we had to renew them as our autopilot was being fixed.

(I apologise for the odd looking layout, the editing page seems to be different to the viewing page and haven't figured out how to synchronize them to look the same.)
Found the getaway boat for the krazy horse gang from kiwi made movie "Boy"

We arrived at immigration for our 10 o’clock appointment, the officer arrived at 11 and didn’t see us till 11.30am, by which time the boys were complaining of being hungry.  Just as well they are easily entertained with mindless t.v!  The officer looked at our passports and said that when we flew in, we were stamped as tourists.  We explained that we showed the officer at the airport our boat ownership papers, letters from the boat yard and broker explaining our purchase and intention of living on our newly acquired boat (all stamped in approval by immigration before we arrived).
Eli learning to splice

He said yes, but they didn’t put the correct stamp on it, in fact, when we got our extention, they also put the incorrect “tourist stamp” on it.  Which meant we were over-stayers’ and needed to leave the country immediately.
Oh, but we have our autopilot being fixed, which may need parts flown in again and the weather for sailing right now is not advised for people of our ability.  He said take a seat, I’ll make some calls.
Fishermen gave us some squid
Half an hour later he says we need to take a taxi into the city centre and see the immigration there.  It is 12.30pm, boys are starving, the ride can take 30mins on a good day, but usually there is some roading/traffic issue that can mean delays of up to and over an hour.  Then we have to walk a number of blocks to find the place.  I ask what time do they close, to which he responds 2pm.  Hmm, not looking like a particularly successful mission.  Thankfully, he sees our dilemma and asks us to wait while he tries to figure out a better solution for us.  1pm he decides to give us 24 hours to get our stuff sorted and get out.
It has been 3 hours, boys are ravenous and we are feeling a bit distraught at their stuff-up leading to our sudden need to leave the country in spite of the bad weather.
Fishermen gave us a fish!! Yum too.
Outside we bump into a friend and tell him our woes.  He mentions a good friend of theirs left yesterday for Grenada, turned around and came back ‘cos the conditions were that bad.  This guy does yacht deliveries for a job and has clocked up enough miles to have circumnavigated 12 times.  We went and met this guy to verify the story, which turned out to be true.  He also showed us the weather online and offered any assistance he could. 
Eden on a mission to build himself a rubber band powered boat

We came to the conclusion if we head towards the Boca and it looks too dodgy, we will head into the nearest bay and claim shelter which they cannot deny.  A lot of prayers went down.
Dave thought he would do some night fishing to alleviate some stress and caught the biggest fish yet - himself!  He had to cut the hook with tin snips then hold one end with the plies and force the sharp end back up, then hit it with a bit of wood repeatedly to pierce the skin’s surface, forcing the hook through the new opening to now grab the sharp end with the barb to pull it right through.  (I tried to help him with this but I was also trying not to vomit/pass out-so not really very helpful at all!).
A very woosy Dave managed (in between racing in and out for fresh air so as not to vomit or pass out) to somehow yank it out of his arm in one semi-circular motion! Eli was most upset that we had wrecked a perfectly good hook-how inconsiderate of Dave!

Next day we head back to immigration as late as possible and explain to the guy that a “small craft advisory” as well as a storm warning has been issued warning people not to go to sea due to the bad conditions.  He had heard that and did think of us.  He asked when the weather was supposed to improve, to which we replied, the following week there was a good weather window according to the few different websites we had checked.  He got us to fill out our clearance forms and as we were all heading for the door, decided that he had authority to sign us on as crew and give us shore leave for a week - just like that!

During a practice sail this cam cleat thingy snapped off and whipped a nice hole straight through our lifeline netting with the piece still attached.  Eli was close by, this is his area for helping us so luckily it didn’t whip him in the process.  The bolt snapped off.

The week passed quickly with Dave trying to make the boat as water tight as possible and Eli and I doing many grocery, water, diesel and petrol runs.- Everything further north is more expensive.

We calculated the miles to Grenada with our hopeful boat speed and left in the afternoon, the following week, in hope that we would arrive in Grenada late morning/mid afternoon with sun in a good position to see the reefs surrounding the anchorage and some low-lying rocks nearby.
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The Boca was nice and easy and the whole afternoon/evening was very pleasant.  We had heard many stories of the Venezuelan pirates being able to go a long way off the Trinidad coast in their pirogues with big engines and at one stage we did wonder when we saw three come up from our port stern and four from our starboard stern, but thankfully they passed on by.
2am we realised we hadn’t gone East enough along the Northern coast of Trinidad to allow for the West setting current coming from the Atlantic ocean and were fast going off course.  The wind had shifted to the East, pushing us further to the West and we couldn’t seem to sail in any sort of forward motion.  We never had time to test out the autopilot so hand steering against wind, tide and current, constantly checking our compass and chart plotter, was definitely taking it’s toll with us getting tired, in spite of taking turns on watch.
Sleep was interesting, it takes a little for the tummy to settle from the lurching back and forth, but it does actually settle lying down.  The second challenge for us with our bed lying across the stern instead of the usual layout alongside the port or starboard sides was getting on an angle so you’re semi-wedged, then kind of digging your toes in like you’re sleeping on a hill-side.
Eli decided to sleep in the cockpit and would wake often to check the horizon for lights – and figure out which way they were going/coming, make sure we were staying on course and make adjustments to the traveller sheets, also steering in the early hours of the morning while Dave hurled-he was a tremendous help. 
Eli has been amazing us when a friend of ours often would quiz him on technical details in various aspects of sailing and every time he would answer correctly.  He has clearly been reading some of our books and absorbing everything around us.

Also getting creative with the phone’s camera…
IMG_20150319_112042  look, we picked up some smurfs along the way!
We ended up motor sailing the rest of the way which meant we all (except for Eli-who didn’t go down below at all) ended up feeling very sick, in fact at one stage, we were like a tag team: I would hold Eden or Salem’s foot while they hurled over the side, they’d come back, then I would make for the rails, then Dave would be hurling in some other direction.
Another awesome shot by Eli.

I also discovered another grim challenge.. Note:  those who have a weak constitution for gory details I strongly recommend you skip down to the next photo… Going to the toilet means going up front where the boat lurches more, the boat is very warm due to the engine running and because we have to close all windows while at sea and currently have no vents.  The bathroom is worse still, but like a steamy urine smelling sauna. 
Sitting on the toilet, you have to wedge your right side against a wall, left arm against the basin, right arm and leg outstretched against the wall in front, so that you don’t get launched off during official business.  During this time, my stomach was rapidly getting ready to launch it’s own contents.  Now here’s the trick, I knew Dave had turned off the sea cocks so the water wouldn’t spurt back up the pipes and into the sink, which also meant whatever was released into the sink wouldn’t go down either!  The other option was the floor where there was the shower outlet but the contents from there would go into a small sump box under the floorboards, and given the likely size of the chunks, they would not pump out and I would have to scoop it out later.  The toilet was still occupied and my stomach was not waiting for any further deliberation, the sink it was! 
After all business had concluded, I then had to wedge myself in position over the toilet while I did the 20 pumps up and down to get rid of the contents, which left me sweating and needing to race outside for a second hurl session as the sink was full and it was way too hot to stay there any longer.  I zig-zagged hunch-back style, (‘cos somehow it just helps the tummy if you’re bent over) across the saloon to the companionway steps and like a seal lurched into a tummy slide across the deck for the edge of the boat for round two! 
It was sometime later before I could bring myself to go back down  to the urine sauna and scoop out the contents of the sink into the head and do the full 20 pumps while I dry-reached in between!  The romantic side of sailing definitely dissolved somewhere between the pumping and the hurling - grim!
But, we arrived, in Prickly Bay, Grenada, feeling very tired, concerned and overwhelmed at how we faired -and that was only an over-nighter.  It took us a few days to chill and recover – Dave even said adamantly that we are selling the boat (I silently hoped and prayed that his feelings would pass and all would be well in our world again).
We were amazed at the turquoise colour of the water and managed to get a couple of days’ surf on a little break close to where we had anchored and enjoyed exploring the area by dinghy and foot..
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Grenada has a nice feel about it, we felt very safe walking around as other cruisers had aforementioned.
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On a surf search mission.
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After a few days, we sailed from the southern end around to the East side to Saint George’s. This was a far more successful and enjoyable sail and managed to use our auto pilot - this surprised us how it made the journey a lot more relaxing.
Look, he’s sailing and smiling…    
All is well in the world again.
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Arriving in St George’s and looking further South toward Grand Anse where we had sailed past to get here.
IMG_20150326_184231Slack-lining” with some friends we met in Trinidad, they sailed up the day before us and are in a similar situation to us: not much experience, learning on the job, not much $!

 More exploring..
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Local shops/hang-outs.
Grand Anse Beach
Building on the waterfront in Saint George’s.

St George's waterfront, waiting out the shower

Walked through a tunnel under Fort George – for people and cars - to a local market out the other side.
This was a little stall nearby.  The lady was selling loads of spices, sauces, essences etc.  The main market was tightly packed together and with the rain, wasn’t really do-able to photograph without getting wet or haggled.

Fort George (what’s left) and the views..

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Checking out a bunker
Eden finds an “Eden-sized cannon!”
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We are anchored out of the picture, in the bay to the right .

There we are, way out the back where we can’t hit anyone!  Dave has been on a mission over several days tweaking our anchoring system so it’s not so noisy – the sound of chain rattling on the bow, in the middle of the night, in a roly anchorage, coupled with the thought of dragging anchor is not conducive for a good night’s sleep!
IMG_20150322_181209Have a couple of jobs to sort out then hope to head further North.  We are constantly counting pennies and comparing that with the budget  while trying to figure out our next plan from here, what we will do with the boat - our home - and how far can we get on what we have left etc.
Maybe next time we’ll have more of an idea.

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