Thursday, April 9, 2015

Journey to Grenada

The internet has been surprisingly scarce for us the last two weeks. We have made it to Grenada where we have been enjoying ourselves very much. I'll make a next post about that.

The plan was to sail to Grenada, pretty much straight line and then start heading north slowly touring the various Caribbean islands. 
However the start didn't happened as we hoped. We sailed from BVI to USVI (St. John) to pick up our package from US (Brand new wind generator blades), and refuel and then head out to the open ocean. Everything was great until we came to a fuel dock, where we had to wait for 2 hours and at the end they wanted to close on us as they were already 1 hour past their closing hours and a few boats cut into the line and cut us off. We kept our cool and in the end got fuel. By this time it was already dark (around 8:00pm). But when you are planning to sail over 400 miles, it does not matter that much when you depart, and we opted to be fresh for our first night, so everything was OK. Except that the wind direction was not. The predicted wind from 80 degrees turned and started blowing from 120 degrees and slowly dying, which meant we would have to tack into it. By the next morning the wind died completely and we decided to start the engine. And since we were burning diesel, we opted to head as much east as possible. During the night we suffered a first of what would be series of small breakdowns on board. - The track to which the main sail travels up and down ripped itself from the mast, shearing about 9 screws and was threatening to come off the mast completely. All this done right at the first reef spot, as we were sailing at night with 1 reef in the sail. Also our jib, which may be the original sail on the boat (perhaps 20 years old) is in really bad shape. It was missing one batten, another batten was broken, and third batten wore a hole in the sail. It made it really difficult to sail upwind with a sail with such a bad shape. And since we were motoring east we got so close to St. Martin, we opted to pull over to St. Martin and repair our jib by purchasing at least new battens for it. 

I spent 2 days hoisted up on the top of the mast in a VERY rolly anchorage drilling the mast, tapping it and putting new set of screws into the sail track. Not a fun job. I have blue bruises to prove it from being tossed like a rag doll on the mast. We also got our battens fixed in the jib, so we were good to continue. St. Martin was full of boats from all over the world, many boats waiting till about middle of April and then start transAtlantic voyage back to Europe, many boats simply starting island hopping south so that they could spend summer (Hurricane) season in Grenada or Trinidad. We quickly made some friends.
When we left St. Martin the forecasted waves were supposed to be 5 - 7 feet, but we quickly realized that someone forgot to multiply the waves by 2. We went over some decent hills and valleys, with a lot of wind to boot. All of that sailing 45 degrees close to the wind - this is as close hauled as our boat is capable of sailing upwind - put a lot of stress on the boat. A few times we completely submarined the boat where the boat decks and saloon disappeared in the waves. Luckily this happened only about 3 or 4 times as the experience is rather scary, and you can feel the weight of the water on the boat as it tries to come up and drain the water. 
All this upwind bashing brought new small disasters. On one powerful squall, during our reefing our sail swung so violently that the main sheet got caught in the wind generator, instantly breaking the wind generator off - so much for my brand new blades that I “Just” installed a day earlier in St. Martin. 

Later on our jib camber sheered all of it’s screws and came apart, also our hydraulic boom vang on the main sail worked itself out of the screw and with a very loud bank fell off the boom. Since we were not too far from Guadalupe we opted to get to Guadalupe, anchor in one of their bays and attempt to do the repairs. 
We limped in to Guadeloupe around 8 pm, putting on a show for the anchored boats as we were running on deck with flashlights hoisting booms, and fixing the whole rig. We were able to fix both the jib and the boomvang that night, and left early next morning, without even clearing into the country. 

As we finally went past St. Lucia we were able to ease our sails a little bit and be more comfortable. 
All in all after 540 miles (almost all of it sailing) we finally arrived in Grenada. 

What do we think of Grenada so far? We love it! People are very nice, the sailing community is nice and there are no Bareboat charter boats around - just your hardcore cruisers.
Here are pictures from our trip

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