October 1995 - Trinidad to Venezuela

1 October 1995   Chaguaramas, Trinidad
I got up early and took the new carpet ashore to cut it up.  I made the pieces about 1” larger than the original bits, which I used as a pattern.  I just finished before it threw it down.  Trinidad is a miserable place to do work – it’s rained every day since we’ve been here.  We had to shelter for an hour until it stopped raining enough for us to get the carpet back to the boat.  I spent the rest of the day fitting the carpet.  It’s very harsh carpet and the backing is very stiff hessian.  We hope that it will last longer than the previous one, but the edges are so stiff that it has scratched all the varnish – we can’t win!

2 October 1995   Chaguaramas
I went into town in the morning, picked up the repaired printer, Craig’s glasses and other bits.  I got back and found Glenys and the boys in the Lifeline Bar.  It was raining and miserable again with a big swell making life on Glencora horrible.  We had lunch and a couple of beers.  Glenys settled down in the bar with a good book and I braved the swell to go back to Glencora to play my clarinet.  We had dinner at the bar again.

3 October 1995   Chaguaramas
I checked the domestic batteries and the three that I bought in St Martin are crap so I’m going to bite the bullet and buy three new ones.  I ordered the three batteries from Peakes and finished off laying the carpet.  Glenys did the washing at the launderette again!  It’s so humid here that we are going through two sets of clothes per day.  We went to “Marina Em” for a gin and tonic and to watch a video of news extracts of the effects of hurricane Luis on St Martin.  Lots of boats piled on top of each other!

4 October 1995   Chaguaramas
I picked up and installed three new batteries (£280!)  I installed the new Adverc regulator, which has a modification which apparently gets rid of the very annoying flickering ammeter syndrome.  Adverc says it’s not their fault and not a problem, but I reckon that they have a feedback problem.  Anyway, it’s sorted out now.  I fitted a new DC-DC converter for the VHF radio, so we can now listen for more than 10 minutes without the power cutting out!  

I ran the engine for an hour and the batteries are nicely topped up – I hope that is all our charging problems behind us.  We’ve been turning the fridge off at night and still having to run the engine for an hour a day.  We went out to the bar to see some home video from St Martin but it was crap.  I put 50 litres of fuel in the tank from jerry cans.  

5 October 1995   Chaguaramas
We got up this morning with big plans to clear out tomorrow and go to Venezuela.  I got a satellite weather map and listened to “Mistine” – there’s a tropical depression (No. 18) at 9.3°N 35.6°W which is expected to turn into a tropical storm today and will pass over the Leeward Islands on Monday.  There’s also a tropical wave at 42°W which will give us 2 days of nice weather and then crap for 3 days!  

We discussed staying in Trinidad until Monday (9th) but that’s too depressing for words.  We decided that we’ll go up to Grenada, anchor in Hog Island and do school work in the rain!  Venezuela is exposed to northerly seas and we don’t want to go somewhere strange with bad weather approaching.  We’ve turned into cowards about visiting strange places – it’s a year since we went anywhere new!  

I spent the day tidying up while Glenys took the boys to the Medical Centre at Carenage to get their yellow fever jabs (mine still has 2 years to run). I picked up my steel tank which has been tumbled and partly filled it.  The outboard failed as Glenys was coming back in the evening.  There’s no cooling water.  We went for dinner on “Rawa” with Roger and Pat – they had to come and pick us up because I didn’t have time to look at the outboard. 

6 October 1995   Chaguaramas to Mount Harman Bay, Grenada (Day 1)
Tropical storm Pablo is now at 11.8°N 42.9°W.  It is moving 285° with winds of 50-60 knots.  There is also a strong wave at 55°W.  We decided to go to Grenada anyway.  

I went over to “Night Music” to borrow Joe’s 3hp outboard, but instead he very kindly lent me his dinghy with a 15hp Yamaha on it.  Glenys nipped to the Health Centre to pick up the yellow fever certificates while I cleared out.  I then found out that the outboard impellor had zero vanes left on it!  I’ve been trying to get a spare one since we had problems in Antigua in May – no-one stocks parts for such small engines.  I left the outboard in pieces and we sailed around to Scotland Bay.  

Once we had anchored, I cleaned the hull, took down the dinghy and got ready for sea.  It was a bit worrying waiting to go because we knew that there was a tropical wave nearby but all we could see from Scotland Bay was the grey clouds scudding overhead.  After a quick dinner of pasta, we lifted the anchor and apprehensively motored into the channel.  

We had fifteen minutes of confused seas and overfalls and then settled down to a 15-20 knot wind from the NE so we were close hauled on starboard tack.  I had two reasons to be nervous during the night – would we have squalls? And worse was that this would be our first starboard tack beat since I fibreglassed the chain plates – would we survive?

7 October 1995   Chaguaramas to Mount Harman Bay, Grenada (Day 2)
We did our normal 8-11, 11-2, 2-5, 5-8 watches, but I had difficulty sleeping.  The motion was OK but it was noisy down below and the wind would drop to 15 knots and then pick up to 20 knots.  Each time it picked up, I woke up thinking it was a squall. On my 11-2 watch I was so tired that I kept nodding off – I had to set the countdown timer on my wrist watch to go off every 15 minutes, so that I would wake up.  

In fact, we had an uneventful passage and arrived in Prickly Bay safely.  I then had to pay £10 overtime charges to customs because it was a Saturday.  Tropical storm Pablo is now at 12.5°N 51.2°W moving 270° (heading for Carriacou) with winds of 45-55 knots, so it seems to have diminished a bit.  The projections are for it to move a bit north and hit St Lucia in 2 days – we decided to wait until tomorrow before panicking.  

We motored around to Mount Hartman where I managed to buy an impellor for the outboard from Moorings for £11 – a rip off but at least I’ve got one.  I put up the dinghy and had an afternoon nap.  In the evening, we went out with Gary and Ros to an Italian Restaurant and had a nice meal.  They insisted on paying for it – they must think that we are stony broke!

8 October 1995   Mount Harman Bay to Hog Island
Tropical storm Pablo is now at  12.5°N 56.5°W moving 285° with winds of 45-55 knots.  It is forecast to hit St Vincent but I didn’t believe it.  It was at 12.5°N yesterday and there was no reason to think that it would turn north.  I thought that it would hit Grenada, which is at 12.0°N.  We went around to Hog Island and anchored in the east corner of the anchorage.  In an unprecedented move, I put out two anchors and buoyed both so that we would see their positions (and be able to recover them if we had to cut them loose!)  

By midday, Pablo had been downgraded to a tropical depression and Grenada went onto storm watch.  By three o’clock, they said that it was no longer a tropical depression and we should “thank the Lord for saving Grenada from bad weather this time”.  We left the anchors in place just in case.

9 October 1995   Hog Island
Nothing much happened during the night – we just got a few squalls in the morning.  Tropical wave Pablo is over the island but after it goes through we should get a few nice days before the next wave shows up.  We did school work in the morning – horrible chore.  

We spent the day on the boat messing about.  I filled 6 tanks.  Glenys made two loaves of bread which were the best she’s ever done.  It’s only taken her three years to manage to make real bread.  The boys demolished three quarters of one of them in about 10 minutes – “Mum, can I have a bit more?”  

We’re going through a bit of a crisis with Brett because he totally ignores what we tell him to do.  We nagged him so much this evening that he went into a sulk.  I spent five minutes explaining that we love him but he’s driving us mad because he doesn’t listen. While I was talking to him he was fiddling with a bit of Blue Tac – his only comment after a five minute monologue was “that’s a nice elf ear!” – I despair! 

10 October 1995   Hog Island to Mount Harman Bay
The remnants of Pablo are still over us and we had a couple of squalls overnight.  The next wave is at 40°W, so we will get three days of nice weather.  There is a new hurricane, Roxanne, which is in the NW Caribbean with winds of 90-105 knots, 24 foot seas and is due to hit the Yucatan Peninsula within the next 24 hours.  

We did school work and then moved around to Mount Hartman Bay.  I rang Bequia and found out that they still have a 24V bilge pump – so I asked them to put it to one side for me, we’ll go up there on Friday.  We found out that Gareth is in St Maarten and Fi is still in England.  We had a quiet afternoon and evening.