Date: 31 March 2019
Location: Anchored in Young Island Cut, St Vincent LAT 13° 07.958 LON 061° 12.128
Weather: Mostly Cloudy with Drizzle, Upper 80’s, Winds ENE 15 – 20 Knots
Early March finds us in Trinidad at Crews Inn Marina in Chaguaramus, as the country is getting primed for Carnival. Paws had a great night crossing thru Gulf of Paria passing just W of the Hibiscus Offshore Oil Platform between Grenada to Trinidad. There had been some reports of trouble from Venezuelan thugs (won’t honor them by calling them “pirates”) but we saw no suspicious activity. Raised Trinidad early in the morning and slipped past Bocas Del Dragon entering the busy port. Cuda and Mindy Caplinskas from “S/V Viviann” have come aboard looking forward to experience the festivities this coming week.
Captain Brian eases me between the floating buoys at the Marina and after securing me to the floating dock, they head off to do the Customs and Immigration dance (where they still use Carbon Paper to copy the forms). When the bureaucracy was complete, they head for the resort pool. Supper on shore at the resort restaurant and chilling in the evening rounds out the day as they will need their rest.
The Captain rings the Ships Bell rousting The Crew out of their bunks at 0200 the next morning – the only time my Captain can recall getting OUT of bed to go TO a party. After splashing some water on their faces they are off to check out “J’ouvert”. The local SSCA Cruising Station Rep – Jesse James, arranges a van to take my crew and 6 other folks staying at the Resort to the muster point in Port of Spain about 30 minutes away. They arrived at 0300 and were treated to a bowl of hot fish chowder and an open bar to get everyone in the mood. Things soon get rolling – the paint starts flying, the alcohol starts flowing and the Soca (loosely called music) starts blaring. Semi trucks stacked high with huge speakers that must have been scrounged up and left over from an old Led Zeppelin concert along with million megawatt amplifiers pump out the noise and lead the crowds thru the streets as they dance. The party wraps up about 0900 in the morning at a city park where water tankers spray everyone down washing the paint and grime off.
Not to miss the “Total Experience”, the Party Animals are up early again the next morning at 0600 and flag down a “Maxi Taxi” (mini bus) to head back to Port of Spain for “Carnival”. The Parade and Floats start down the streets bright and early. Colorful exotic costumes, Steel Drum Bands and more Soca noise blasts away (yes – The Captain is getting old). Plenty of street vendors to keep everyone fed and full of beer. For the most part, my Crew were spectators enjoying the scenery and (most) of the music. The Festivities continue the entire day and late into the evening. My crew gave up about dark and made their way back home tired and happy.
Back on the Ranch, I’m corralled in the Marina and my stall is under the shadow of an impressive 92’ Paragon located in the slip next to us. The Crew enjoyed getting to know Mike “Oil Man” Finley on “M/V Seas to See”, hailing from Houston, TX. “Oil Man” was full of great stories and jokes (Irish right!?) about his past boats and adventures in the oil industry and finance business. Handling the reins is Captain Ace who keep things operating and the ship headed in the right direction. Ace is a Licensed Commercial Ship Captain giving the “private” world a try.
While here in Trinny, we once again welcome back Deck Swab Mike “I’m on a Diet – Honest” Ashcraft. The master plan is to work back to Grenada and pick up The Admiral. However, before departing, the Crew decides to check out The Caroni Bird Sanctuary and came away very impressed. The tour started out a little weak as they were wondering what they got themselves into as they boarded a small wooden boat with 12 other folks and the Tour Guide started pointing out fiddler crabs in the mud along the bank of a ditch. Just about the time the Captain was thinking Mutiny might be in order, things improved when they spotted some nice snakes hanging in the overhead Mangrove Canopy along with a couple of small “silky anteaters” (actually termite eaters) and a variety of birds. Eventually they entered a large open estuary dotted with mangrove islands and some beautiful scenery. As sunset approached, they spotted dozens of Flamingos wading in the shallow water but more impressive were the hundreds of Scarlet Ibis coming back to roost in the Mangroves. The birds are almost fluorescent red in color. As with Flamingos, the brilliant red color of the Scarlet Ibis comes from carotene in the crustaceans they feed on.
Enjoyed our time in Trinidad but time to move on. Departed early morning sailing back to Grenada and marooned Cuda and Milda into the “abyss” that is Clarkes Court Boatyard so they can get back to the endless joy and satisfaction that comes with slaving away so they can get their house back in the water. In Grenada, we Pipe on Board our newest crew member Jean “Treebeard” Echard. Treebeard is an experienced sailor and world traveler having spent 5 years in Australia and New Zealand. He joins us after recently completing an Atlantic Crossing from France via the Canaries, Cape Verdi, Martinique and finally Grenada. He looks forward to PAWS trek south.
The Captain starts him out easy as they spend the day filling their bellies at the Sunday Brunch at Whisper Cove Marina, a swim at Le Phare Bleu pool and finally the BBQ on Hog Island. Treebeard can be heard commenting that maybe he’s going to like this cruise.
The Captain decides it’s best to have The Admiral fly to St Vincent so we depart Clarkes Court Bay staging in St George for the evening on our trip north. Sea Tigger takes the crew into Port Louis Marina for a shopping excursion and find “M/V Seas to See” lashed to the docks. They join Oil Man for a drink and enjoy hearing some more of his lies (I mean stories). We depart the next morning for a quick, easy sail to Gouyave, a small fishing village on the NW coast of Grenada, where we anchor just outside a Marine Park and Fish Sanctuary indicated with yellow buoys so The Captain and Treebeard can jump in for a little snorkeling. The exposed anchorage is a little rolly but we stay for a couple days. The crew hears about a great fish market in town and head in to check it out. The swells wash up and break on the sand and rock beach so they drop Sea Tigger’s anchor about 15 meters off in waist deep water wading in to explore. Fresh Tuna and Mahi are at the Fisherman Co-Op so fish is “What’s for Dinner”. Returning to Sea Tigger in the afternoon, Deck Swab puts on a show for the locals as he does his best to climb over the side of the dinghy in the waist deep water. He receives cheers and a round of applause for his efforts. Later in the evening, The Captain and 1st Mate TreeBeard return to shore for the Friday Night Fish Fry under open air tents. Selection of todays catch, cooked several different ways, with plenty of Mac & Cheese, breadfruit, corn cakes, salad, and several things The Captain wasn’t exactly sure of they were.
The next day starts a little shaky as we prep to depart Gouyave. Deck Swab shows off his (limited) Helmsman experience by putting The Yamster in Reverse instead of Forward as requested and proceeds to swallow up the Sea Tigger’s painter wrapping it around the prop shaft. Before The Captain could scramble to the helm station, Sea Tigger is sucked against PAWS port hull and her bow partially wedged under my belly. First Mate TreeBeard volunteers to grab his mask and fins and take the plunge to investigate. He ended up having cut loose the a short section of her painter to free her from the clutches of The Yamster. After things get settled, we start N stopping at Sandy Island and after a spirited and sometime damp three hour upwind motor sail, we snag a mooring as a light shower approaches from the E. The place is a postcard picture perfect anchorage with a white sand beach and swaying Palm Trees.
The day ends much better as we find our discover “M/V Seas to See” in the anchorage hailing us with an invitation to come aboard for a fantastic supper complete with Mahi, Tuna, Red Beans and Rice, Salad, desert, of course, shots of Irish Whiskey. Oil Man and Captain Ace went all out to feed my Motley Crew.
After breakfast, Treebeard and Deck Swab take Sea Tigger to beach to scrub some of the bottom paint donated from PAWS hull the previous day. Her canvas cover being a little black around the bow. They also take the opportunity to do a little snorkeling and see “gazillions” (Deck Swab’s word of the day) of small fish right off beach. Later that evening Captain and TreeBeard head in for a beach BBQ of Ribs and Chicken put on by some local boat boys. Worn out from the days work, Deck Swab remains on board missing a great meal.
On a darker note: word reaches us about some recent “unrest” just to the south a few miles offshore of Trinidad. The political instability in Venezuela continues to effect the region. Seems a few “thugs” make a attempt on a cruising vessel. Link to the story: https://safetyandsecuritynet.org/date-2019-04-04-1030-country-name-trinidad-tobago-location-detail-trinidad-hibiscus-gas-platform-event-attempted-piracy/
No crew was hurt but the brave and gallant boat ended up taking a couple of slugs in her broadside protecting her Crew. She has been brought into St George Harbour in Grenada to be patched up and nursed back to health as the investigation continues.
From Sandy Island , we motor around Jack Iron Point entering Tyrell Bay meeting up with Erik and Barbara on “S/V Sudamon”, friends we originally met in Puerto Rico last year. They have her on the hard at the new boatyard for some repairs so they join my crew for a short walk along the shore front for dinner at “The Lazy Turtle” on the N end of the Bay. Pizza and good conversation take them late into the evening.
As the new day finds Sea Tigger skipping across the harbour taking the crew in to check out with Customs and dropped off a couple weeks worth of smelly laundry, they passed by one of the more interesting uses for one of my brothers. A Trimaran moored in the harbour is decked out as a complete Welding and Metal working platform. No doubt he has plenty of business.
After clearing out, my crew joins Erik and Barbara at Gallery Café for breakfast and to say goodbye before heading over to check on the wash. It’s seems it’s taking a little longer than Sea Tigger likes and she lets the Crew know she is ready to get moving by leaving the beach on her own – seems they forgot a basic fact of nature and failed to account for the rising tide when pulling her up on shore. The Captain gets to enjoy a swim in the harbour to retrieve her and we’re off to Petite Martinique. The 2019 Guidebook boasts that this little island has the “Best fuel dock in Grenadines”. The marketing guy for the publication must be an former Used Car Salesman. No response on the VHF, no dock hand to assist with lines, the dock is in major disrepair, it’s exposed and aligned perpendicular to a strong E wind that pushes and pins boats against the pilings and there is a decent chop on top of it all. Several local boats are tied up to the pier leaving a tight space for The Captain to work me in. We come in safely but the boards leave me with a scrape in my starboard hull from battling with a piling. Then, of course, we find the place is O.O.F. (Out Of Fuel) for at least another 2 or 3 days – maybe they could have mentioned that when we called in on the phone 30 minutes earlier advising our arrival and requesting fuel? We wait for the wind to settle in the evening before departing and sail a few miles north across to Petite St Vincent and anchor for the evening licking our wounds.
We enjoy the sail N between the small islands of Mayreau and Tobago Cays Park to the channel between Petit Rameau and Petit Bateau to find none other than “M/V Seas to See” swinging on her hook. We position ourselves 30 meters downwind and give her a call on the VHF. Snorkeling in the afternoon rewards the crew with a large stingray and bigger turtle. There are several “boatboys” working the area and offering everything from propane to lobsters. They all of course want my crew to come to their Beach BBQ but The Captain politely declines.
The next morning, TreeBeard and a crewmember from “M/V Seas to See” take off for some snorkeling along Petit Bateau. After several hours, Captain Brian and Captain Ace hop in “T/T Seas to See” venture out to check if they have been eaten by the turtles. The search takes them around the E side of the Cays and over to Baradal reef where the sea turtle farm is and a netted refuge is located. They discovered their wayward crew relaxing on the shore of Petit Bateau. They reported lots of stingrays and puffer fish just off the beach near the BBQ grills, probably feeding on all the fish and lobster waste from the BBQ’s. They also reported sighting two small reef sharks patrolling the area. Dozens of cruising boats are moored behind the reef where there is great wind but flat seas.
After a pleasant sail N to Canouan we drop anchor just off Tamarind Resort. The crew takes Sea Tigger to the dock and rewards themselves with Pain Killers at the Tiki Hut on the beach. There good but certainly don’t compare to The Admiral’s PK’s. The Moorings Yacht Charters had a base here many (many) years ago when the Captain and Admiral chartered a boat out of here. The base has since closed and relocated to Ft George in Grenada. Snorkeling along rocks N of the resort, they see hundreds of baby lobsters all competing for whatever hole in the rocks might be available.
Looking for adventure, the crew hunts up a golf cart rental place to take a tour of the island. They ride over to a fancy new resort community and marina for the Rich and Famous on the south side of the island overlooking the ocean and Tobago Cays off in the distance. The place is still under construction but the guard allows them to enter and ride around to check the place out. The self guided tour continues around the island and over the hills as the crew manages to defy death again when brakes fail them on steep downhill run, Deck Swab shows his Golf Cart driving skills (fortunately they are better than his Helmsman skills) and manages not to run off the road and crash into the ditch at the bottom. On the way back to PAWS the crew stops off at the local framers market in the town center to mingle and talk to the locals while picking up a few veggies and fruits.
As we sail into the bay in Bequia, the welcoming committee is a young French girl skinny dipping off the back of the boat just in front of us. TreeBeard casually mentions that it’s “Another great day in the Grenadines” as he offers to go forward to look for coral heads as we anchor and then jumps in to check that its holding. The Captain SAYS he didn’t notice her until after we dropped anchor or he would have found another spot – I’m not 100% sure I believe him but who am I to say.
We spend a few days here taking advantage of the snorkeling off the NW point of the harbour at Devil’s Table and exploring the town. Bequia is definitely a cruiser destination with numerous restaurants, bars and shops all along the shore. There are boat boys (and girls) that run water taxi services, handle laundry, fill propane and scuba tanks, take trash and sell ice, fish, water and souvenirs. All very pleasant and helpful. The crew took advantage of the floating bar in the harbour on a couple of occasions for Sunset parties with Rum and Beer.
Captain and TreeBeard try out the local transportation options and take a bus/taxi ride across the island to Friendship Bay, Paget Farm, Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary and MoonHole. They watched local Whalers return empty handed after chasing a whale they spotted earlier. Although Humpback Whales are an endangered species. The residents of this island are still allowed to take up to 4 per year. However, the methods are restricted to “the old ways”. Only sailing vessels are allowed and they must be taken by hand thrown harpoons. Not the easiest way to harvest a whale.
The visit to MoonHole was particularly interesting. Located out on the SW point of the Bay, it is a large compound that was carved out of the rock and constructed using coral and local stone. Wandering around the grounds, they were impressed with the effort and dreams that went into the place. The Sea, as she always will, has reclaimed most of the structure but there are still a few rooms remaining on the leeward side that are in use as a exclusive resort.
The island suddenly comes alive when word spreads that a whale has been brought in – the first one in 2 years. The processing station is over in Friendship Bay and the celebration is on. My crew kept their distance but got some good pictures.
We depart for the last leg to St Vincent and The Captain deploys my new Hydrovane self steering wind vanes – “Zig and Zag”. The idea is that the main and foresail are trimmed to balance the boat and eliminate weather helm so I maintain a constant heading without pressure on the steering quadrant or main rudder. My wheel is then secured in placed letting “Zig and Zag” take over using the wind angle and trimming rudders like trim tabs on an airplane to keep me on course. If the wind angle changes the vanes can be adjusted to compensate and maintain the desired heading. If the wind increases, the sail trim can be adjusted or a reef put in to keep me balanced. The sail to St Vincent was a close haul and “Zig and Zag” worked as advertised. They will typically be used on longer runs and will get a real workout on the passage to from Tobago to Guyana in mid May.
We raise Young’s Cut on the southern end of St Vincent and settle in looking forward to The Admiral’s arrival in a few days.
Joyce & Brian Clark
S/V Pawsitive Latitude