Fiu in Adriatic
Grenadines - Wednesday May 19 to May 25, 2004
We leave Vieux Fort early morning on the 19th to sail toward Bequia in the St Vincent Grenadines.
We go down along the windward side of St Vincent, good downwind sailing at 7-9knts. Not too much rain, a couple of squalls in the afternoon. Trolling again and we nearly catch a small marlin but it snaps the line and the fishing rod! Jumps out of the water a few times, angry and in pain then disappears into the deep.
We arrive in Port Elizabeth bay in Bequia at around 1pm, nice to arrive early for once, anchor quite deep at 12m. Boatboys are there to greet us, but they are not too aggressive – trying mainly to get you to take a mooring. Overnight it becomes very windy and we have 40m of chain out to hold us. Wild swinging too – glad we are further out where it is less crowded.
Ivo continues to work on the wind generator – pulling a new set of cables through the stainless steel frames at the stern. But then we drop a small but essential part from the generator into the water and it sinks so quickly that we can’t retrieve it. Over the past few days it seems to have been a succession of things to repair and put in order, it is beginning to depress us. In addition to everything else, we also notice that we’ve managed to catch the dinghy on one of the fishing hooks, and it’s now sprung leak….
And the weather doesn’t help – it is just unbelievable how rainy and windy it is here.
The locals are now admitting that they too have not seen weather like this in years, yes it is unusual for the Caribbean so much rain and stormy weather at this time of year.
Next morning we go into the very nice charming little village of Bequia to clear in to St Vincent Grenadines and to buy some fruit and vegetables from a stall in the street. 6 $EC (exchange rate is 2.6 to 1USD) for a huge avocado, 2,5 $EC fore a loaf of bread, 15$EC for a pair of flip-flops for Susan. 2$EC for fantastic mangoes (bought 3) and 5$EC for a kg of green beans, the first we’ve seen out here. The actual vegetable and fruit market itself is dominated by rastas who have a quite aggressive behaviour which really drives away any potential shoppers.
Go back to the boat and continue to wait & hope for the rain to stop….At least the wind calms down some for a while. Creative Ivo found a solution to replace the missing piece from the wind generator - he bought some plastic hose which will do the trick to replace the spare part. We now have a fully functioning wind generator and over the next few days we really see the difference in battery charging that it makes to have this. It is really worthwhile the investment, we no longer have any worries about energy usage.
Next morning, less wind, less rain, so we go back into the village, have a second breakfast at the gingerbread restaurant – lovely view over the bay and fantastic toast! Have another good browse in the little bookshop, but again buy nothing, just that little bit too expensive. Then visit the Wallace fishing shop and buy a few more lures – this shop is run by a German couple and lives up to its good reputation for expertise and choice of fishing gear.
We see a bunch of seagulls (the seagulls in the Caribbean are different to European seagulls – they are small and less noisy) who have elected residence on a dinghy in the bay. The owner has turned the dinghy upside down in the hope that that will deter them but all that does it to give them more surface to stand on, so the next day there are even more gulls.
The bananas have all been ripe for the past few days and we are stuffing ourselves with them – well, Ivo has managed to eat the most so far – but we are reaching saturation point. Only another 15 or so to go. We are eating at least 3 bananas for breakfast, a couple for snacks – although Susan can’t really manage more than about 5 a day.
We obtain a weather fax (this we obtain via email – it indicates the weather pattern and forecast across the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico right over to Panama) because this weather is just so strange and when will it stop? It shows potentially an improvement in the weather over the weekend and shows that a big depression has moved from Panama up across to Florida and that this is what has been generating these strong winds and torrential rain. Later we hear that the Dominican Republic has been declared a disaster area with a thousand people killed.
We decide to leave Bequia on the Friday afternoon (May 21) to go just around the point to the SE of the island to Friendship bay. We briefly stop at Petit Nevis which is the old whaling station for Bequia but it all looks abandoned so we continue into Friendship bay. We are the only ones there, anchored in about 5m. Anchorage turns out to be fine, although Susan felt a little uneasy about being so isolated. Weather still grey.
Next morning we leave to continue south. The weather is steadily improving (temporary condition as we find out later) with some blue sky now.
Not really much to see- we do not stop other than briefly drop anchor behind a small reef so that Ivo can go for a quick swim. We then continue onward to Canouan but that too is disappointing and we decide to not stop but to continue onward to Tobago Cays, only another 5-6 miles. The weather has cleared up nicely and we need to enter the cays anyway with the sun behind us, so afternoon is the best time. Lunch consists of a fried egg and salami sandwich so that we can digest those many bananas we’ve been eating!
Still trolling and at last catch a fish again! This time it is a barracuda so we let it go.
We arrive at last at the fabulous anchorage in Tobago Cays – the improved weather conditions are holding and the water is turquoise blue with a beautiful white beach with palm trees just 20 meters from our anchorage. Only two boats including where we are, us but just on the other side of this little island – on the windward side behind the outer reefs are 50 + on the windward side. We go snorkeling just off the beach, Ivo bought Susan a pair of flippers so that she can swim faster when snorkeling. Alas, Susan feels this is something she still has to get used to - in 1m depth she is ok, but anything much deeper than that and panic sets in.
Lovely spot, the best so far in Susan’s opinion – good shelter from wind and a safe anchorage in beautiful surroundings. We watch the sun set and the stars come out – trillions of them, we haven’t seen such a clear starlit sky since crossing the Atlantic.
Slept really well and next morning (Sunday May 23rd) weather still clear so we put up the sun awning. Have a really nice peaceful Sunday – bought a couple of small red snappers from the boatboys (15$EC) and had that for lunch with rice. And yet more bananas, of course.
Ivo is working on repairing and testing the saltwater pump, making a bamboo plant pot for his three cacti for which we brought back sand and soil from the atoll yesterday, also made a netbag so that we can have put the dishes overboard and let the fish clean them! This experiment didn’t work too well, the fish were not interested so we hauled them back out and did the dishes in the cockpit. The fridge has decided to work again, and all is well on Fiu.
Monday the weather takes a turn for the worse again and we pack up and leave at around 11am. By then it is really stormy and when we sail around to the windward side to have a quick look again, it is actually so stormy that we wonder how those 20 + boat that are still there can manage to hold. We must have a gale force of 8 or 9 blowing – again totally out of character for this season in this area.
Tyrrell Bay does provide some shelter and we stay the night here without going on land or bother to check in with customs.
Tuesday May 25 we lift anchor early and continue downwind to Grenada where we arrive in Prickly Bay on the southwestern tip of the island. Just before the very end of the island a fish bites and we turn and twist the boat to reduce the speed (these days we are nearly always sailing at 8-9 knots or more) but lose the fish again!.
Coming around the tip of the island toward Prickly bay, we encounter very confused seas with strong currents in quite shallow waters – (4m) so it really is rough and a slog to drive (now using the engine) those last few miles into the bay.
We decide to visit Grenada the next day so take taxi buses across the island, first to St George, the capital then over to Grenville. This takes us up over the centre of the island quite high up over the hills and allows us to see the green jungle like aspect of the island.
After a lunch in Grenville we travel back to St George where we walk around a while, amongst the 1000 + very white cruise ship tourists.
We do a bit of shopping and head back to the boat after a very tiring and very hot day out. We are not used to being on land any longer, it is a different kind of tiredness to that of being on a boat.
Late afternoon – an hour or so before dark we motor out of the bay, back in to the very rough seas – 3-4 m waves in very shallow water, still only 4 meters depth – further east to Port Egmont where we entered a long narrow channel a bit like a fjord with mangroves to eventually anchor up at the very end. This is a very sheltered little bay, in fact it is considered to be the best hurricane shelter in the whole of the Caribbean! Hopefully we do not need to test this!
Very early next morning 4am we leave the bay – again the GPS enables us to do this in the dark despite the reefs on either side of the channel – and head downwind toward a small group of islands called Los Testigos (The Witnesses), the first stop in Venezuela. This is a 90 mile run – with excellent sailing conditions – always good to have plenty of wind when going downwind. We arrive in Los Testigos for our overnight stay before continuing on to Isla Margarita where we arrived on Saturday May 29.
Next - Venezuela