Starblazer - 27/11/2016 - Promises, promises!
No, I didn't write this just before leaving Tortola so no surprise there then, I hear you mutter! The afternoon tour around the west end of Tortola was interesting with stops at Soper's Hole (good ice cream), Bomba's Shack (scene of the reputedly best Full Moon Party), Cane Garden Bay (very old rum distillery), then a stop at the beach before returning via Road Town. I must admit, the hairpin bends and steep hills don't look any better with someone else driving. In 2000 I drove these roads with Richard and his friend Paul while John did an introduction to Scuba diving.
Friday evening was the final dinner preceded by the prize giving and results. We were awarded a fantastic tray of fruits plus a bottle of sparkling wine, cheese and biscuits for our efforts to raise our home made code flags as quickly as possible. We came 4th in our category; first place went to the other Hallberg Rassy 42, crewed by three 20 something males and definitely not laden down with all the cruising paraphernalia we carry. 2nd and 3rd went to the only two boats theoretically slower than us. They had fewer engine hours than us, mainly because they were so far behind they caught the back end of a gale and sailed, albeit well reefed, while we had to motor in 6-8 knot winds! Oh well, at least we beat the other 9 boats in our category.
We finally left Nanny Cay on Sunday, shortly before noon, for the 440 nM trip to Grenada. The forecast suggested 10 knots from the north east veering to the east. Forecasts lie! We sailed for a number of hours then motor sailed. On Monday the wind had swung around to just south of east and we had difficulty holding our course. Eventually on Monday evening we decided to put in a tack to the east as the wind had veered further. Ten hours later we tacked again and managed to sail and motor sail less than our required heading, giving us a few miles in hand if the wind changed again. We eventually anchored soon after 1700 on Wednesday outside St George's, Grenada. Our intended destination had been Prickly Bay on the south coast to clear in before moving on to Clarke's Court Marina where Palm Tree Marine is based. It is dark soon after 1800 and very dark by 1830, the moon wasn't due to rise until about 0300. The entry to Prickly Bay is well charted but anchoring in the dark amid a large number of other anchored yachts is fraught. Early Thursday morning we pulled up the anchor and made for Prickly Bay where we were anchored by about 0830, before Customs and Immigration opens!
Dinghy pumped up and launched, we went ashore to clear in, John had a fried breakfast while we waited for the Immigration officer to arrive, then we returned to the boat and made our way to Clarke's Court. We anchored off, dinghied in, visited Palm Tree Marine and spoke to Mike, the owner, then returned to the marina office to book us in for two nights. We moved Starblazer to the Marina in the afternoon so that the engine would be cold when the chaps brought the generator back on Friday morning. Two strong men lifted it onto the boat, down the companionway and over the engine! The thing weighs about 75kg so that was not an easy task. Kevin worked hard in difficult conditions to reinstall the unit and it was ready to test a few minutes after 1500. It started, tick the box, it didn't make electricity. Oh dear! Kevin hunted around, found a circuit breaker, switched it on and, bingo, we had a working generator. He checked it for leaks, then got Rahim, the apprentice, to look for leaks. They left happy. John decided to run it to warm it up and have another check for leaks, he quickly discovered a water leak around the water pump so off he went to the office. Kevin returned with Sim, the office manager. They decided the pump was leaking at a seal and Sim didn't have high hopes of getting a replacement delivered before Christmas. A bit later Kevin returned and said 'The Boss' (Mike) wanted him to remove the pump.
Friday evening there was a food festival in the yard. We met Mike there who said that there was a good chance that he had spare seals, he'd have a look in the morning. He had the seals but didn't have an impeller, we did. He finally refitted the pump soon after midday on Saturday. In the meantime, I discovered that the gas didn't work any more. John finally discovered the problem was not with the remote switch but rather with the gas solenoid. He sourced a replacement at the small chandlery on site, replaced the faulty unit and we had gas again. By this time the office was closed and, though they have our credit card details, we decided to stay another 48 hours especially since we had just discovered that there is wi-fi!
How unlikely is it that we should meet someone here in Grenada who went to the same secondary school as us, even if it was 20 years later? Mike had lived in Nazeing, a village a little west of Harlow, and went to Netteswell. The school closed the year he left, we think it opened the year before John started there in 1956. What a small world!
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