Monday, 28 July 2014

Time to Go




Spotted on a walk to True Blue Bay

After almost two whole months at anchor in Prickly Bay Temptress is heading south to Trinidad. We’ve loved being here, meeting up with old friends including John & Deb on Orion II (last time we were moored next door to each other in Lanzarote) and Julia and Frederick on Susie Q as well as making lots of new ones too numerous to mention. The main hurricane season is almost upon us with a storm brewing in the Mid Atlantic as I write that fortunately for everyone in Grenada looks like it will track further north as it moss west. Spare a thought for the people of  the Windward Islands as they prepare for the worst later in the week; we hope that the incoming depression does not develop into a tropical storm or worse but rather like the one last week dissipates long before it reaches the islands.

Scrap Bits from Sugar Cane processing
For us Tuesday night's (29 July) forecast looks light on winds but we won’t be too worried. Our plan is to leave Prickly Bay late afternoon so as to have boat and crew settled before darkness falls. It is 77 nautical miles almost due south to the northern entrance of Boca De Monos the narrow passage of sea that separates the westernmost tip of Trinidad from the island of Monos. We’d prefer to arrive there at day break and so have plenty of light to see the delights of the Boca including the apparently gorgeous and isolated Scotland Bay for ourselves; hence a slow, lazy sail past the oil rigs off Northern Trinidad will suit fine.


Consulate offices at True Blue Marina

The Flamboyant Tree lives up to its billing
David and Taryna of Haymede have provided plenty of handy tips about where to anchor (around the corner from the port of Entry Chaguaramas at TTSA), where the Customs Pier is located (Crews Inn Marina in the eastern corner of Chaguaramas) and places to eat during our stay. Customs demand that yacht crews check in with them first before anchoring in the remote bays of Trinidad so Temptress will be making her way into Chaguaramas. This is the main yachting centre on the island and lies just to the east of the southern end of the Boca and we are hoping we’ll be first in the queue when the immigration office opens at 06:00, customs open at 08:00. 

Rain in Prickly Bay

Meanwhile we are busy tidying up – it is amazing how much stuff has started laying around the boat and now needs safely stowing in readiness for the sea – the second anchor and the tape used to lay it during last week’s storms, cushions, books, electronic gadgets and chargers, snorkeling gear and more in addition to the usual stuff we have out during extended stationary periods; china plates, the fruit bowl etc. We let out extra anchor chain on Friday in preparation for another stormy night so the weedy bit has been cleaning itself on the bottom for the last few days – hopefully that has done a good job so we don’t have to spend too long on the task ourselves whilst raising the anchor tomorrow afternoon. The laundry has been sent ashore and will be ready this afternoon, petrol supplies for the dinghy and generator have been topped up and the navigation completed. Tuesday morning the skipper will go ashore and check us out from Grenada at the Customs and Immigration office. Finally our third crew member Boat Ted will be nestled in a safe berth in the top of a basket in the saloon whilst we are at sea.

Boat Ted patiently waiting to go sailing again

Monday, 7 July 2014

Tropical Waves

Heavy tropical rain
A squall going through the anchorage, June 2014
washing the decks in the rain
Our neighbours take advantage of the early
morning rain to scrub their deck
The wind picks up a little causing the windscoop to flutter slightly, at the same time the tiny patter of light rain sounds on the deck. The crew, down below listening to the morning net or browsing the web or eating breakfast or all three, become strangely alert for signs of the wind picking up or heavier rain. As the pattering becomes a drum beat and the wind raises a howl in the rigging the pair of us fall over one another in a rush to close the portholes in the topsides and the main hatch to avoid flooding bookshelves or a soaking for the saloon upholstery.

Tropical waves are not something that happens amongst the crowd at a cricket match. Otherwise known as Tropical Disturbances or Easterly Waves (the latter because they travel east to west on the Easterly Trades), these low pressure troughs travel west across the Atlantic from Africa bringing cloudy conditions. Sometimes they become more organised; the precursors for a Tropical Storm or Hurricane. So something we cruisers keep a keen eye on. For the residents of the Eastern Caribbean this low pressure also brings welcome rain. Much like the Pennines in the UK further north the mountains of Grenada force the incoming Atlantic cloud up in turn causing the moisture the cloud carries to fall as heavy rain. Little wonder much of this mountainous tropical island is covered in rain forest.


The rainy season seems to follow a pattern mostly depending on whether one of the numerous waves is passing over. Down on the coast our experience is of occasional rain on and off for the morning, rarely does it continue into the afternoon. Most often though rain falls solely during the night drying up soon after dawn. Always a light shower precedes the main squall, a warning to get up and close any open hatches. This morning was no exception, however the squall quickly passed leaving a grey and overcast prospect, a sort of odd twilight never otherwise experienced in the tropics where the dark of nightfall almost instantly follows sunset.

Before the portholes can be opened to allow cool air to below there is more pattering on the deck then silence. The wind gently plays with the rig, we wait, hot and sweaty for the squall but nothing falls immediately. Life goes on in the humid heat, today’s island forecast is for sunshine this morning, showers in the afternoon and more rain for the rest of the week but whether the south coast will get the rain is another matter. To the north of the bay Grenada’s mountains are swathed in grey rain clouds almost down to sea level.  The anchorage is almost completely still, Temptress swings at odd angles, sporadically rolling on the wash of a passing dinghy, bereft of the usual Easterly Trade that keeps her bow pointing to the eastern cliff. By 9am the sky is brightening slowly; high level, pale yellowy grey cloud prevents the sun breaking through completely. Gradually the valley view at the head of the bay reappears though the mountains remain cloaked in rain cloud; time to open the portholes and relax until the next subtle warning patter of raindrops on the deck.
Squall over Prickly Bay, Grenada
Another squall last month - no mountain view!