A Hash and it’s Aftermath

A Hash is a beat through the wilderness on trails marked by ‘hares’ leaving shredded paper piles along the way. We did our first on Saturday in Grenada and it was a blast!!! So much so, we’ve decided to stay in Grenada another week so that we can do next week’s Hash! About 100 people showed up for this Hash – sometimes they have as many as 200 – and the majority are locals, but there’s always a few tourists – including a good contingent of Yoties amongst the crowd. Pics here of us receiving our instructions…

There’s a price to be paid for a Hash however – especially as ‘Virgins’ doing it for the first time – and that is that (for one reason or another…) you get absolutely filthy and smelly – so when we arrived back at the boat we had to strip off everything outside and Sunday morning turned into wash day.

What you get for finishing a Hash

What you get for finishing a Hash

Participants gather for the Hash start

Participants gather for the Hash start

Some may remember that Toodle-oo! is now equipped with a twin tub washing machine! Whoo-hooo! So, Laurie set to on Sunday morning washing our Hash gear. I took advantage of the effort to run our generator to make power for the wash, but also to make some water and to heat some water. All very boring, until the generator decided it’d had enough and coughed and spluttered to a halt.

Monday I looked at the generator and finally concluded that fuel was not getting to it – and my in-depth analysis showed that the lift pump which brings fuel from the tanks, through the primary filter and to the generator was not doing what it’s supposed to. So I pulled it off the wall and looked long and hard at it – and confirmed that indeed, it was not pumping. Fortunately, here in Prickly Bay, we have a ‘Budget Marine’ store, whose catalog (at least the 2016 version) shows they have the exactly correct lift pump… I dinghied over and sure enough, there it was! $250 later, the lift pump is installed, but the generator is still coughing and spluttering. Well, clearly, the fuel lines need to be bled… so for the first time in my life, I set about bleeding the system – turns out to be stupidly easy – one nut has to be cranked open a little bit and wait for air bubbles in the fuel to stop. Trouble is, air bubbles were definitely not stopping.

I decided that I must have installed the fittings to the pump incorrectly – and that air was getting in at the joints. So I went back to Budget Marine and purchased the right (yellow) kind of Teflon sealing tape (as opposed to the while plumbers sealing tape I’d used), disassembles and then reassembled everything. Nope… Still got air in the fuel (more like I have a little bit of fuel in my air…).

Laurie convinced me that a beer and a sit-down would help.

I sat. I drank. I drank some more. I had a thought. Dumb shit!

As soon as I turned to the supply of fuel from the empty port tank to the full starboard tank, the generator barked into action, ready for more charging, water heating and water making!

Anyone interested in a slightly used lift pump?

Great Day on Grenada

We had a super cruising day yesterday… We got going fairly early from Prickly Bay, catching a bus to St. Georges and then another up to the ‘Grand Etang” area and the trailhead for the hike up Mt. Qua Qua.

St. George's Harbour from the fort

St. George’s Harbour from the fort

The trail, which was well maintained, followed a mountain ridge around the volcanic lake, slowly windy it’s way up and down to Qua Qua. Quite a challenging walk with steep ascents and descents along the way. I also realized that we were right on the ridge when the vegetation thinned out some and we were perched up there will steep drop offs on both sides – making our trek up Helvelyn seem somewhat easy! Normally I’d suffer major vertigo, but the thick vegetation provided a sense of security – and I guess a grab hold should one miss-step. It was a very enjoyable walk up and back.

Mt. Qua Qua

Mt. Qua Qua

On our way...

On our way…

Nearly there!

Nearly there!

Sheesh! This is steep!

Sheesh! This is steep!

Steep drop on both sides all the way up!

Steep drop on both sides all the way up!

Made it!

Made it!

Best of all: there’s a bar at the trail head so we were able to enjoy a couple of beers on our return!

Later in the day, we took a taxi ride with a van full of other cruisers, clear across Grenada to the North East point, to one of the three sites in the world where Leatherback turtles come to lay their eggs… The description of the event was something like: ‘We’ll show you a turtle laying eggs, but we’re not sure when…” We arrived at the beach around 9:00pm and got lucky that by about 10:30 our group was allowed to walk along the beach to where a turtle had already started digging out her nest. As we walked in darkness, we could just make out another black blog coming out of the sea for her turn.

It was a fascinating scene. For one, I had no idea how large these creatures are – our missus was about 1300lbs, shell dimensions 169cm long, 130cm across the widest part of the ‘shell’ – with head and back flippers, she was probably 7ft long and later when we saw her front flippers, realize she had a ‘wing span’ of about 7ft! Her shell isn’t! It’s more like leather and moves with her movements and breathing.

It was a little disconcerting about how close we got to the animal while “researchers” took down her measurements and carefully managed the egg drop – one researcher was able to hold a back flipper out of the way for the other researcher to catch and place each egg in the nest – thus preventing breakage. Leatherbacks are very threatened and only one in 1000 little’uns manage to get to maturity. Anything they can do to change the odds is what they’re doing. We were able to watch the eggs being dropped into the nest.

After dropping her load, she then proceeds to smoosh the sand back in place and then pat it down with rear flippers. Then she starts moving sand with front flippers around to the back to completely fill in the hole, and then basically tramps all over the area before heading back down to the beach and out to the ocean. The whole process start to finish takes about 3 hours… She’ll be back in a couple of weeks to repeat the process. Apparently, she lays 50 – 150 eggs in each nest – some with yolks, some without (cushions) and then will repeat 5 or 6 times during the season…

Besides being massive, they’re pretty prehistoric looking! The head is somewhat grotesque and her mouth a jagged affair. As she’s smoothing all the sand back in place, you can hear her wheezing at the effort – can’t be easy for this mammoth who’s basically weightless in the ocean at all other times…

According to our guide, Leatherbacks can swim as deep as 4000ft, staying down for an hour or two before coming back to the surface for air. They must be able to dive faster than me!

Unfortunately, with light restricted to red only, I was unable to capture any photos. I also brought completely the wrong lens – since I thought we’d be miles away from the critters… As Laurie points out, rather weird that we’re able to get within a foot of this highly endangered species as she attempts to re-populate, but are held back 50 yards from the stones at Stonehenge!!!

To round out the day, we got a great view of the southern cross while watching our missus do her thing!

We were lucky in our timing – in that we were back in our boat by 1:30 am – some of the previous visitors were not back until dawn! Even so, with the good walk and late night, we’ve decided today is going to be an easy day!!!

The Grenadines

After Bequia, we sailed down to the Tobago Cays, a group of 4 little uninhabited islands with a large reef, protecting them from the Atlantic swells. Many boats were anchored right behind the reef – but we decided to stay behind one of the islands, seeking shelter from the boisterous wind.

We snorkeled around one of the small islands, but the current was pretty significant and it was a little murky in most places. When we finally came into some clear water with interesting coral and fish, we were too tired to really enjoy it! So we drifted back to the dinghy and took a ride out to the reef where we had an absolute blast in crystal clear water, swimming around small (house plot sized) coral beds. The diversity of fish was great.

On our way back to Toodle-oo!, we saw turtles, so in we get again and went snorkeling with turtles. They are really nice animals, though I gather they are far more bad tempered than they were letting on to us. They graze on the sparse grass growing in the sandy bottom, then come up for a breather every so often. Very neat. Unfortunately, I’ve been unable so far to reduce the size of my video files to fit in the blog – probably need to make a link to a U-Tube page, but have not worked out how to do that yet!!! (Update: Maybe I have – check out previous post…)

We then sailed around to Chatham Bay on Union Island where we found Ti Sento and Nomad in the anchorage, so enjoyed happy hour in one of the beach bars with them. The following day we did a bit of a walk – that turned into a marathon day… We scrambled along a very overgrown path following our guide, Alex to the top of a hill that was too overgrown to get a decent view, and then walked down into Ashton where we had a tasty local lunch. We declined a bus ride back and walked back over the hill – with unfortunately Tom from Nomad suffering from heat stroke in the process. It was hot!

Goats Everywhere

Goats Everywhere

Chatham Harbour from the overgrown path

Chatham Harbour from the overgrown path

At the top of the hill our guide Alex takes a 'Breather'

At the top of the hill our guide Alex takes a ‘Breather’

On our way down to Ashton

On our way down to Ashton

Chatham Hbr. Toodle-oo! in the centre

Chatham Hbr. Toodle-oo! in the centre

Don't Shoot!

Don’t Shoot!

After Chatham, we moved to Clifton, still on Union, which turned out to be a hustle bustle little town and met up with three other OCC boats, Sundowner of Beauleigh, Altair and Rhythm – so we all enjoyed sundowners at Happy Island Bar – a bar built on a man-made island on the reef – made basically of Conk Shells! Had an excellent evening!

Happy Island Front to back: Laurie & Bill Sue and Howard (Sundowner) Charles and Francis (Altair) Zach and Mia (Rhythm)

Happy Island
Front to back:
Laurie & Bill
Sue and Howard (Sundowner)
Charles and Francis (Altair)
Zach and Mia (Rhythm)

Clifton. Happy Island is the last "House" on the reef.

Clifton. Happy Island is the last “House” on the reef.

After Union, we sailed down to Cariacou, just 20 miles south and spent a couple of days in Tyrrel Bay. It was nice not to be hustled by anyone, but we found the island to be a little tame. We’re wondering if we’re becoming island snobs!?

Hillsborough Bay, Cariacou

Hillsborough Bay, Cariacou

We then sailed down to Grenada, our southernmost destination for the year (just reached under 12 degrees north). We had a great sail, and then spent one night in St. David’s Harbour before moving on to the more popular Prickly Bay, where most of the cruisers hang out. Yesterday was Easter Sunday and Laurie out did herself with the best ever Massa and Biscourts(sp) – so we invited Ti Sento and Nomad over for Portuguese bread!

Initial Prep

Initial Prep

Second Rising

Second Rising

Wow! Best Ever!

Wow! Best Ever!

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

All was great until we got interrupted by a massive cockroach in the cockpit! We live in fear of getting an insect infestation and take serious precautions to try to prevent them – like no carboard comes aboard, feet and shoes washed in sea before entering, etc… Seeing this 3-inch roach was disquieting to say the least! We believe that he flew in – since we have seen no evidence of little roaches, but just in case, we decided to wash the cockpit out and remove and scrub all teak grates… Today we bought some powerful bug spray… can’t be too careful.

We’ll stay in Grenada a week or so and then begin our journey back north.

We’re thinking we might stop on the way up in Dominica where we can do some sorely missed walks due to Kate’s mishap and then Antigua where I hope to dive in English Harbour.

 

PS: Can someone tell me if the previous post’s videos are actually visible now???

Bequia

We left Martinique on the 23rd, heading for Bequia (pr something between Beck-Wee and Beck-Way!) – with recommendations from many cruisers about Bequia ringing in our ears. We broke the passage in two with an overnight stop in St. Lucia, but didn’t get off the boat (so no need to check in/out). The following morning we left early – 6:00am – with 90+ miles to go, we hoped we’d be able to get to Bequia in daylight. We left alongside a Catamaran ‘Savana’. Initially the winds were light so we motor sailed, but as we passed the Pitons at the southern end of St. Lucia, the wind grew and we were able to sail a rhumb line easily towards St. Vincent. Savana and Toodle-oo! had been motor sailing pretty close to one another, but as the winds slowly picked up and we turned engines off, they pulled away from us… until the winds filled to over 15knots – at which point we were faster than them! We’ve got ourselves a boat race!

Spiky Mountains of St. Lucia

Spiky Mountains of St. Lucia

As close as we got to St. Vincent

As close as we got to St. Vincent

We came up to St. Vincent still close together and I fully expected the winds to die, but they stayed up and we were able to continue sailing in the lee of St. Vincent – an island we’d been advised to stay clear of for security reasons. Pity as it looked rather like Dominica in the northern part of the island. The wind had dropped some, so Savana was now well ahead, but again, as we came to the south end of St. V. it picked up again – with gusto! The south end of St. V didn’t look so appealing – much more habitation (like Martinique) so we were glad of our plan to bypass.

Sailing on to Bequia required a tightening of our heading and a current was flowing in Bequia Sound that was significantly adverse, requiring an even tighter heading – we were close hauled. The wind came up to a solid 15 – 18 with a few gusts to 22 and 25, but we maintained full sail and went for it! Savana was way off to our leeward side, such that we suspected they were headed elsewhere, but as we approached the island they tacked – now well behind Toodle-oo! Line honours to Toodle-oo!!!

After a couple of false attempts, we set the anchor in the north side of Admiralty Bay, at about 4:30pm – plenty of time to spare before the light failed.

In the morning, we checked into Bequia – and there was the crew of Savana. Unfortunately, they were French(!) so either didn’t want to talk with us – or couldn’t… (or were sulking!)

We took a Taxi Tour to get our bearings – it’s a nice island with a lovely feel. I can understand why people keep coming back here.

Admiralty Bay - Toodle-oo! tucked well off in the back right.

Admiralty Bay – Toodle-oo! tucked well off in the back right. Click to biggerize.

An Atlantic-side beach

An Atlantic-side beach

Back in Admiralty Bay, as we walked along a shore side path, I spotted a dive company and decided to look in to see how easy it would be to get my certification… 4 days later, here I am, a certified PADI Open Water Diver! Woo Hoo! Now I can spend lots of money on kit and then scrub the bottom of Toodle-oo! as my reward! During the training, we dived to over 50ft on coral reefs. Quite remarkable surroundings with colourful fish everywhere. On the final dive, I took my Go-Pro along for the ride – now all I need to do is work out how to make the files smaller so that I can link them to this blog for all to see.

We plan to stay in Bequia for a few more days before moving further into the Grenadines on our way down to Grenada, where Toodle-oo! will probably be hauled for some bottom paint and a general look-see.

All well aboard – we’re having a blast!

 

Martinique

We ended up staying in Martinique much longer than initially planned – and then added a couple more days to it when we heard of a planned walk up behind Le Marin. Turned out to be really enjoyable – certainly not a ‘Forced March’ – and offered lovely views over the harbors of Le Marin and St. Anne where Toodle-oo! is currently lying. We were accompanied by a French couple Patrick and Veronique and their dog Jacko and by German Leader of the walk, Andrea who is now resident (on her boat) in Martinique – though it sounds as if she’s sailed most of the world extensively…

Looking over Le Marin towards St. Anne

Looking over Le Marin towards St. Anne

View from the top

View from the top

This tree was cut down to it's trunk just 5 years ago - Things grow fast in Martinique!

This tree was cut down to it’s trunk just 5 years ago – Things grow fast in Martinique!

OK - this one didn't make it...

OK – this one didn’t make it…

We were also made aware of another walk – from St. Anne, so we stayed a second day and did a hike by ourselves of about 25km along the coast. It was very beautiful and we’re really glad we stopped to do it. Interestingly, on the south coast, the land is virtually desert – though unfortunately, I was unable to photograph it as it was raining!!! Other than the water from above, there was none to be seen – the land very barren with the occasional succulent struggling for a living…

Looking from St. Anne to Le Marin

Looking from St. Anne to Le Marin

Yet another Beach! THis one not of the nudist variety

Yet another Beach! THis one not of the nudist variety

Looks like Quick Draw McGraw (or Magoo!)

Looks like Quick Draw McGraw (or Magoo!)

Challenging stepping stones

Challenging stepping stones

Today we’ll head on towards Bequia via a short stop in St. Lucia…

 

Mont Pelée

Yesterday it was raining.

So we rented a car with Patty and Peter from Serendipitous, drove 2 hours up to St. Pierre and then walked (clambered) up Mont Pelée! Hard slog – for which we got about 50 foot visibility in the mist!

Made it!

Made it!

Not such wonderful visibility!

Not such wonderful visibility!

 

Probably not a bad thing we couldn't look down!

Probably not a bad thing we couldn’t look down! Thanks for the photo Patty!

And then there was this great pic of Kate – helming Toodle-oo! from Dominica to Martinique… She’s a natural!

Phew! What concentration!!!

Phew! What concentration!!!

Kate’s Visit gets better!

We ended up having a lovely visit from my sister Kate – once we were secure to the dock having dealt with her injury and then our silly mistakes with water in the sail locker – though the thing she wished for most, swimming in the Caribbean ended up being elusive since her stitches were only finally removed on the last day of her vacation. Next time Kate…

We managed to make a visit to the Pitons – very impressive – and to St. Pierre, and we made a couple of stops at a super beach – very relaxing! We had a nice stroll through a formal garden – somewhat too staged for our taste – though the canopy walkway was fun and then we did a more authentic rain forest walk…

Arrival in St. Anne's Martinique

Arrival in St. Anne’s Martinique

Carnival in St. Anne's

Carnival in St. Anne’s

Pointy Mountains - The Pitons

Pointy Mountains – The Pitons

Canopy Walk in the Garden

Canopy Walk in the Garden

The fish are this side ladies!

The fish are this side ladies!

St. Pierre Anchorage and Volcanic Ruins...

St. Pierre Anchorage and Volcanic Ruins…

Amazingly, her route home proved easier than the flights here, in spite of there being an extra flight in there. Confirmation has been received – she arrived!

Kate and Bill

Kate and Bill

The Beach

The Beach

Hopalong

Hopalong

Great to see you Kate – come again!

Memo to Self…

We left Dominica and had a nice passage to Martinique, arriving in St. Pierre. However, with a forecast of higher than comfortable winds and waves, we decided not to stay in St. Pierre and instead headed to St. Anne’s at the south of the island, a trip of about 35 miles. We knew that the last 12 miles would be bumpy – directly into wind and waves and sure enough it was, with waves crashing and the bow pounding into and on top of them.

We finally arrived at the anchorage in St. Anne and as I went forward to release the anchor I realized that I had inadvertently left the forward sail locker open. Open to the oncoming sea! It was full – yes full – of water. Sails were floating, empty diesel cans were floating…

Once anchored, I went below – and noted that somewhat unusually, it was downhill to the bow and I opened the valve to the forward sail locker – allowing the water in the waterproof bulkhead to escape into the bilge. Boy did it come!

I have an electric bilge pump purportedly capable of pumping 2,000 gallons/hour… It ran for 15 minutes and was losing ground. So I finally switched on an AC bilge pump that throws out about 15,000 gals per hour… In the end, I estimate we had about 750 gallons of water aboard – all up in the nose of the boat! No wonder she was acting rather sluggishly!

We emptied the sail locker of a couple of very wet light air sails and thought we were good.

Not…

The water had penetrated the master berth and there was water all throughout the starboard side cabinets (Laurie’s side :-(  ) so all her winter clothes were soaked.

Then we realized the bed was also soaked.

Finally, while lying awake last night, I realized that the storage area under the boat was also compromised… it indeed was, though fortunately there was not much ingress there and the delicate items were mostly in sealed bags or plastic bins…

And we were just congratulating ourselves on having stopped screwing up too badly on a regular basis.

Memo to self: Stop congratulating ourselves when we’re clearly still novices!!!

We moved today to a slip in Le Marin, hoping to dry out for a while – and to allow Kate to get on an off the boat at will…

 

Pear Shaped!

When things go wrong, they normally go in threes… We’ve had at least two threes!

Sister Kate was to arrive Monday evening – but she’d had a bit of an adventure on her trek from the UK, including having to have all passengers get off one flight because they had one too many bags aboard – this delayed them somewhat, but she recovered and made it as far as Martinique – where the pilot had a heart attack! Flight cancelled. She’d come as far as she could that night – so they put her up in a hotel. Meanwhile, Laurie and I made our way to the airport to meet her – not. We waited for the last flight in but nothing.

We came back in the morning for the first flight of the day and fortunately she was aboard.

When we got back to the harbor, it was pouring rain – harder than we’d experienced to date – so we went and had a beer and a bite to eat. When we got back to the dinghy, which was beached on the sand, Kate managed to stumble and fell on a piece of glass buried in the sand and was awarded with a massive gash in her shin. We did some quick triage, but it was clear she needed stitches, so Jason, one of the PAYS guys (the organization that keeps all the yachties secure) took us to the emergency room where she was promptly seen to with 15 stitches!

When we got back, the wind had turned to the west – highly unusual – creating a large on-shore surf. There was no way we could get Kate onto the dinghy and then off again, so Jason very kindly offered to put Kate up for the night in his house.

Meanwhile, with the help of 3 big guys, I was able to launch the dinghy and rode back to Toodle-oo! and recovered some of Kate’s clothes. I headed back to the dock, but the swell was so high I managed to get thrown out of the dinghy (with Kate’s bag!) and was lucky that the dinghy didn’t come down on top of me. Unfortunately, I was carrying our only phone – which appears to have suffered terminally, though Laurie is currently trying to revive the bloody thing. In the beaching accident, I also managed to bugger up the engine!

With Kate packed away with Jason, I considered options for getting back to Toodle-oo! Fortunately, new OCC members (had only applied that morning!) Mark and Lynn  on Roxy were also ashore, and we all went to a local beach bar to wait out the worst of the surge. Finally at 9:00pm, things had died down a little and we managed to launch their dinghy and they brought me back to Toodle-oo!

Kate - Finally enjoying a beer!

Kate – Finally enjoying a beer!

In the morning I recovered Toodle-Pip! and found that the damage to the engine was annoying but minimal – we can get if fixed in Martinique.

Kate has since managed to get aboard Toodle-oo! – though she probably regrets it to a degree due to the adverse conditions – we have been rocking and rolling in the anchorage for the past 3 nights with a northern swell creating havoc along with the westerly winds… Hopefully it’ll settle tonight…