Sunday, June 14, 2015

Thirteen Degrees North

Crew aboard STW
First blog post in five month but it is a doozie...the return of The Joy Boys to Caribbean sailing! It reads more like a ship's log than any sort of coherent story, but I want to get it down in writing before the details start fading. It's missing some color (Cathyann, PSV resort bar, etc) but those stories are best told in person anyway. I hope you enjoy 5% as much as I did!

Day 1 Downingtown to St. Vincent

  • My first delousing leaving Trinidad (thanks LIAT).
  • Lisa met us at airport and delivered is quickly and safely to Blue Lagoon (thanks TMM).
  • Beachside chart briefing with John West, very thorough and some great stories.
  • Lisa took us to opening of Carnival @ Victoria Park Kingstown – old (decrepit) soccer stadium packed beyond capacity, live music, and primitive but serviceable facilities. Chatted with the Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves at the beer tent.
  • The beaches on Mustique don't suck
  • After a visually inspiring drive through the streets of Kingstown, we returned to Blue Lagoon to watch Mayweather v. Pacquiao in the outdoor bar.

Day 2 Sail to Mustique

  • Explored ashore, snorkeled, chased some goats, hunted some coconuts, and busted a gut over Jim’s header boarding STW.
  • Ashore again, nice walk past the airport to Cotton House.
  • Introduced to “Sparrow” rum @ Basil’s (definitely flammable).
  • Fishing village with Basil's in
    the background.
  • Late that night, “Tranquility” (a 78’ cat) drags off their anchor and is drifting toward Montezuma Shoal. Unable to hail harbor master on VHF16, so we Seal Team 6 boards the dinghy with a couple PFDs, a flashlight, and a walkie talkie and saves the day for some clueless sailors. The dinghy is not seaworthy, so remaining crew relieved we didn’t have to leave the mooring ball in the dark to rescue Seal Team 6.

Day 3 Explore Mustique, sail to Tobago Cays

  • Rented a “mule”, explored the entire island including Macaroni beach (rugged and remote) and Obsidian bay (black sand beach) on the far side.
  • Firefly – Dave finds ringing cell phone, we enjoy an $80 round of drinks and the classy casual luxury. Dave parked in Lady Cat Jagger’s personal barstool.
  • 4.5 hour sail to Tobago Cays, saw many flying fish. Put the hand line in, lost a lure to something with very sharp teeth.
  • View of turtle sanctuary and Tobago
    Cays from Baradel island.
  • First anchoring – shallow crowded anchorage, windy since the reef breaks the swell but not the wind.

Day 4 – Explore Tobago Cays and sail to Petite St Vincent

  • After breakfast we snorkeled the turtle sanctuary the explored Baradel on foot. Many iguanas and some great views.
  • Returning to STW, the dinghy takes on water. A lot of water. It would be on the bottom of the Cay if it weren’t inflatable. 
  •  “Free Willy” and “Mr. Quality” sold us a bunch of T-shirts.
  • Sailing to PSV we get our first glimpse of Happy Island.
  • Added a beer can teaser to our fishing gear, but still nothing on the hook.
  • Slight navigational issue thinking the shoal off Mopion was Pinese rock. Almost tried to sail between them. We would not have made it. Yikes!
  • Anchored off PSV in 2kt current, need to pay attention while swimming.
  • This was our third day of sailing, the cobwebs are mostly gone and crew is working really well together.
  • Seal Team 5 takes dingy ride thru international waters to Petite Martinique for PK supplies. Nothing open, but we did manage to convince Paula to open her beach bar and negotiate for 2 cans coconut, 1 nutmeg, 1 fresh pepper, and about 8 ice cubes.
  • Fresh water shower off the fantail with the Liquid Joy – forgot how good it feels to be clean!
  • Motor almost falls of Dinghy. Only real complaint about the charter is this POS dinghy.
  • Happy Island is self explanatory
  • “Goaties Beach Bar” closed early so we redirected to the resort bar on the hill. We are cruisers (forbidden) and don’t have trousers (required) but they have beds, drinks, ice. After a (very very) rough start we hit it off well with the bartender and when we leave for STW they throw in a carton of ice (that is GOLD). 

Day 5 – Sail to Union Island

Getting happy
  • Anchor and re-anchor off Happy Island (just to windward of Newland’s Reef).
  • Large power boat trying to anchor next door – fail!
  • Margaret Wroughton anchors under sail next door – success!
  • Met Janti and enjoyed some cold ones on Happy Island
  • Sail to Chatham Bay (other side of Union) – big water, this is not BVI!
  • Dinner at Seckie & Vanessa's "Sun, Beach & Eat".  Fabulous family style meal of lobster, potatoes, plaintains, rice, salad, fish, ribs, chicken, and of course lobster (halved and still squirming when they went on the grill). Oh and Vanessa’s own cake for dessert.
  • Talk to Shark Attack ("Jamaque" & his mother; "crazy fucking italians"; "figure lickin' good") -  walk to Aqua (end of beach; pool; owned by Antonio)
  • Peeing off the fantail at night with Southern Cross overhead. Does it get any better?
  • Throw some lobster on the barbie
    at Seckie & Vanessa's.
  • Wind occasionally kicks up for 15-20 seconds, sounds like a train roaring through the anchorage. 

Day 6 Climb Mt Olympus and Sail to Mayreau

  • Guy named "Eisenhart" left bag at Bollhead's night before (cash, camera, passport) and sailed away without it. Never found out how that story ended.
  • Met Bollhead, Tim and guy from N. Hampshire (is he hiding something?)
  • Steep hike to Mt. Olympus, met "Bushman" and goats, bunnies, amazing gardens
  • Sail to Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau. Our first tack (previous 4 days have been all gybes).
  • Walked into village past cemetery, school (goat on roof), old Catholic Church with views of Tobago Cays. Meet "Righteous" Robert @ "Righteous & de Youths". Dogs everywhere - one is racists (we later learn).
  • Drinks & early dinner @ Dennis' Hideaway - meet Charleston, Cathyann & Dennis. Cathyann was initially guarded but warmed up and we had very engaging few hours (worldly for a 27 year old). Charleston did fantastic job cooking for us in the open air kitchen.
  • Robert
  • Back to STW; swim to shore, drinks at SW Bay Club.

Day 7 – Sail to Bequia

  • Anchor tangled with mooring ball made leaving the anchorage a little tricky.
  • Early sail to Bequia (6+ hr sail with long beat into Admiralty Bay/Princess Margaret Beach)
  • Nailed the noon sextant sighting.  Sextant: 61°22’W 13°8’N.  GPS: 61°23’W 13°1’N. Did the math long hand and yes this sighting was accurate to 7NM! 
  • Dennis' Hideaway with Cathyann
  • Ashore to Whaleboner (Ruth & daughter Ariel). After the previous 6 days, Bequia feels a little too civilized for my sensibilities.

Day 8 – Return to Blue Lagoon and Fly to Trinidad and Tobago 
  • Morning snorkel (moray eels). 
  • Generator goes kaput.
  • Sail to Blue Lagoon, is a beat against a strong current. Lots of tacking.
  • Marlin “We were worried about you. You never called.  Everyone always calls.” We explained that our goal was to “get away from it all.” Cell phones and radios didn’t fit into that program.
  • Barge towed out of Blue Lagoon, ran aground in the (narrow) channel. If we’d returned 1 hour later we might never have gotten into the Lagoon!
  • Saltwhistle on Mayreau
  • Fly to TT in my bathing suit.

Day 9 – Fly Home

  • Start planning return trip!

I'm fortunate to have a wife that supports these more than occasional indulgences, and to have friends with a sense of adventure with whom to indulge...and who can spend time together 24x7 in very tight quarters and still be friends when it's all over.

"Thank you" to all who made this possible doesn't quite cut it...
Nailing the noon sighting. Marquesas
here we come!


"I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in."
     -- John Muir (1838 - 1914)