Monday, 1 September 2014

A Voyage North With Heavy Hearts...

Kevin's Father Noel in Jo'berg - Jan 2006
Another spectacular Caribbean sunset
Once we’d dropped our guests off at the distant Port of Spain airport we returned to clear the decks and prepare Temptress for the voyage north to Grenada. Kevin’s father had been very ill for some time and that combined with a job opportunity for Kevin overseas has led us to make the decision to lay our home up on the hard for a while and visit family back in the UK rather than spending September and October exploring South America with the Nereid's Rally as we'd planned. Sadly just as we arrived back at Crews Inn from our 3 hour airport trek we heard that Noel had died earlier that day; it was with heavy hearts that we motored round to Scotland Bay for a few hours prior to sailing north to Prickly Bay.

The trip between Trinidad and Grenada is for most Brits like crossing the Channel to France or the Channel Islands, momentous the first time you make such a crossing but after that well you know where you are going, you’ll see some shipping, some fishing boats and a few oil installations and the boat must point a bit east of north to make the destination. The glow of Trini just about fades by the time the gloam of Grenada appears over the horizon. For the first few hours Temptress motored in light winds, the crew taking two hour watches. Eventually north of the Hibiscus Oil Platform and clear of Trini’s wind shadow the south easterly trade was sufficiently strong to sail. A bit of jib was unfurled to add to the reefed mainsail and as the wind rose Temptress began to romp downwind – she was in her element and her crew were enjoying actually sailing somewhere. It was a dark old night with the sliver of new moon mostly hidden by the clouds, although the lightning flashes to both east and west were a little unsettling but those storms failed to reach us. It was warm and pleasant sailing; we’d tucked in the first reef as we set off and soon had to put in a second. However the cooling breeze failed to reach below decks; the off watch was grateful for the fan stirring the air in the aft cabin whilst they tried to rest.

Having made good time, at around 3am, we furled the jib to continue more slowly under the reefed main alone, not wanting to arrive until daybreak so we could easily pick our way through the reefs that feature strongly off Grenada’s south coast. The entrance to Prickly Bay is lit but with the Porpoise rocks to the east and a strong current prudence is called for. We’d booked a berth in the marina to make the laying up tasks easier and planned to tie up to the diesel pontoon to wait for the marina and customs offices to open so were somewhat bemused to see a huge superyacht over 120 feet long moored stern to our intended destination! A motor round to the far side showed us that this blue hulled sleek monster had a beam pretty much the same as the length of the dock so no room for Temptress’s mere 46 feet alongside. We dropped the hook a few yards further south and waited for Grenada to wake up.

In the short month we’d been away Customs and Immigration have finally implemented the Eastern Caribbean’s SeaClear system providing online clearance for cruising yachts and their crew. A friendly giant of a customs official explained how to create an account and left us to it – the system is extremely easy to use; create a boat record supplying all the miscellaneous info from our ships papers, then a record for each crew member including passport numbers etc. Finally create a Notification, in our case of arrival, adding the boat record and both crew records with clicks of the button and inserting our last and intended next port of call plus the reason for our visit and save it. All the same info in fact as the original paperwork but no carbon paper and no pen required and one set serves both immigration and customs – the customs man printed out three or four copies, stamped and signed them. Immigration had not yet arrived at the office so customs took our passports on his behalf. Kevin anyway would have to make the trip to the ATM to extract some EC$ to pay the various fees.

Father and Son Dubai 2011
Since then we have been washing down and tidying up Temptress from end to end. All our provisions with the exception of tins and unopened jars have to go. Some we’d given to John and Deb of SY Orion 1 before we’d left Trini as they intend to join the rally we’d forsaken, some SY Perry are happy to take off our hands, the rest mostly part used items will be binned. We simply don’t want to leave anything that might invite an invasion of ants or roaches. We have however discovered a welcome stowaway from Trini – a tiny brown gecko who seems to like dwelling with the lines under Temptress’ hollow deck, though both it (he/she?) and I had a bit of a fright when I moved the spinnaker halyard ends the gecko was resting in and he jumped wriggling onto my bare leg! Hopefully he’ll stay with us even in the boatyard and feast on any insects that try to board. 

Temptress will be hauled out on Tuesday 2 September and we fly out bound for Gatwick the following Saturday, the earliest date there is a direct flight to the UK. Then after the overnight flight we change terminals for Belfast. We are sad to leave but being with family at this time is more important and all being well later this year the cruising kitty will start to receive a much needed boost in the form of a regular income for Kevin; another adventure in our wanderings to look forward to.

1 comment:

  1. The best-laid plans... I'm sorry that you didn't make it home before Kevin's father died. That has to be hard. But perhaps the job and the visit will bring unexpected joys your way. Happy sailing, on land or sea, from one who seems far too land-bound these days.

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