Saturday, 23 June 2012

WYUNA sails her last leg to Grenada

Lost at Sea? No just heading Sth to visit islands we missed on the way up, and find the Rains, pirates, fisherman, rum distillery, turtles and spotted rays!

Aaaaarh, Dem be Pirates
Pirates fought for gold and spices all across the Caribbean islands! The Black Pearl and Captain Jack Sparrow lived at  Walillabou Bay, where the "Port Royal" set was built - the dock and building facade remain here at St Vincents Island where Captain Bligh of the HMS Bounty brought the first breadfruit tree to the island to feed slaves.  In 2003 for 3 months Kiera, Geoffrey, Johny and Orlando lived here to film 2&3 Pirates of the Caribbean.  We anchored next to the dock, went ashore to defend our riches, and snorkeled under the arch, imagining Johnny swinging from the top - sword in hand.

The movie is historically grounded in fact, as St. Vincent was no stranger to pirates who stumbled upon a last stronghold of the Carib Indians against the onslaught of French and English colonisers.

On to Antigua, we farewelled our welsh mate Lance and his cousin over dinner at Jolly Harbour and wished him a safe sail across the Atlantic to the Azores for the next 18-20 days on Alf-A-Bet his 46 ft catamaran.

Joe's 06th revisited
On 5th May we welcomed Patsy and Joe (a year older at 06) aboard WYUNA at Falmouth HarbourAntigua whom by their own admission brought the Rain.  After getting settled in their berth off we went to Shirley Heights for a fun Carib BBQ and dance under the stars to the hip reggae band with brilliant voices and one of the best PAN steel bands we've heard. Traditional tin & steel drum bands of 12 drummers form in each Parish, and perform at festivals, carnival and live venues, weekly rehearsals are held without fail.

Trappas Bar Antigua with Pat's & Joe
The next day Gina was out doing Dive 6 of the Pinnacles and a huge storm struck with torrential rains. The river broke its banks, the blue sea turned brown. Guess what -you don't have a clue 80ft underwater, watching the stingrays, lion fish and trumpet fish hang vertical.
The wet was No deterrent to adventure some P&J so seeing old wooden boats in English Harbour, wearing ponchos, was relaxing, laughing when the Rain hit harder, yes it filled the damn dingy. Anyone got a bucket here?? pump pump ..

Torrential rain means the Rainy Wet Season arrived in May a month early.

The next Wednesday we set sail for Guadeloupe a large passage crossing and just enough wind to let WYUNA reach, heading south and cruising at 8kns to arrive at Pigeon Is. for a quick overnight stop, then early rise to plot our next leg.
Its a long day sail to Dominica and there's little bird or sea life to see, so getting in by sunset to Portsmouth a truly lay-back town, was a relief on a calm anchorage.

Christopher Columbus landed and named Dominica in 1449 and after many battles in 1763, the British gained full control of the island. The indigenous Kalinagos were given 232 acres of mountainous and rocky shoreline. In 1903, the land was expanded to 3700 acres and the Carib Chief was officially recognised. 

On our day trip to the west coast and tour of the Kalinago reserve, run by the only surviving 2,000 people (who killed the Arawak's that came from Venezuela) reminded us of the great ocean road, but with spices and tropical forests covering the rugged coastline.  P&J liked the traditional sites, with beautiful wooden open structures, small cooking and sleeping huts and a flowing river for picnicking and lying in a communal hammock. Picnics are traditional here, as is creole chicken, green peas and sweet potato for lunch, at their hut.

On the way home we stopped to buy fresh Marlin steaks, cut and skinned on the beach by the fisherman "for our deck BBQ dinner".  Delicious with Patsy's lime and salsa.
If you love fresh salsa, frozen juice, cut fresh mango for breakfast and avocado/lime for happy hour then the Caribbean is a tropical paradise. At the market its 6 for 5EC$ or $2 AUD, and there's green, yellow and red ones. Its tricky using a 8ft stick to get mangoes to fall from the trees without hitting you on the we didn't try.

Trafalgar Falls Dominica
Sailing a short hop to Roseau a major town of Dominica, gave us views of volcanic, lush and mountainous jungle. This nature island is pristine, 80% uninhabited and the greenest of rainforest's and falls. On Gina's birthday, (known as Captain for the day), we were lucky to hire Cornell as a driver for the tour and he took us on a short stunning walk to the top of Scots Head, a marine park reserve on the Sth tip of the island. Next we donned snorkel and masks to emerge ourselves amidst champagne bubbles (really thermal warm leaks) and see the golden sea fans wave with the currents and tiny reef fish swim around us undisturbed by 6ft humans.

A cool walk to waterfalls and then soak in Trafalgar's sulphur spa water, which comes from an ACTIVE volcano, left us very tired and relaxed ready to celebrate with wine.... but not to be, both Patsy and Gina flaked out and had a badnight & day with gastro, putting it down to a lunch meal. We took a Raincheck on the Taurean celebrations.

Moving south to Fort de France, Martinique was a great sailing long day, wind blew, dropped out and breezed til we finally bypassed the Nth volcanic town and made it in by 5 to this french harbour. WYUNA likes sitting under the huge stone fort wall.

Aaaarh Rum!
May/June brings lots of public holidays in the East Carib, mainly religious like ascension day or lent. One thing for sure, no one opens, moves far, eats out or visits town on these days. Despite this we found a friendly hotelier to book a car for touring Martinique, yes in the Rain.  Joe kindly took the wheel and Patsy safely navigated us across highways and windy village roads, seeing the views from the hilltops.

Bush & Mitterrand meeting
After driving into the rhum House of Clement lined with palms, and lush gardens we took the self tour of this stunning estate where sugar cane is distilled and barrelled for all varieties of rum, try vintage spicy rum. The french say it is in the top 50 in the word.   Its a restored family heritage estate, where Bush and Mitterrand flew in to conference on Iraq, with mod art gallery and fantastic palm gardens.

Clement House

Close by are fishing villages so exploring french carib haunts, and trying out basic vocab for beginners was enjoyable. Hooray at last, that night we hit the champers for Patsy's birthday and cooked up a storm! Rain pouring so too wet to get ashore!!

Touring Martinique
Fort de France is a fave of ours to wander in, tiny roadways, cobbled, an old church built like a trainstation, elegant and brightly dressed woman walking the La Savanne boulevard, kids playing on slides by the harbour park, always drums beating at night. 

The 22 May is emancipation of slavery celebrations with African music from Mali, there's always a festival here.
After seeing P&J off to fly to St Lucia we headed out to a jazz night upstairs on the balconey, listening to fine sax, and percussion's... a FdeF renowned blend.

Most times cruising or touring here is energetic and uplifting, and other times the heat takes hold of you and causes the limbs to flop.. til you can't stand up without telling the legs to walk. Humidity just saps you after doing jobs on board... and its steamy with the Rains. Bruce and I have become " nappers" known for being lost down below & too lazy to drop the dingy. Happy to escape the hot part of any day!

A week of chilling out led us quietly to beautiful Bequia, Grenadines a very pretty harbour where we anchored off, Princess Margaret beach, (who visited once) so British here, then we were ready to meet Fiona and Drew on Sunday. Only trouble was their bus driver took them to the wrong dock so 3hrs later a local guy brought them to us by boat.

Fee & Drew, Basils Bar, Mustique Island
We noticed how quiet the town is, a few yachts and most places closing at the end of May! Good news for us to enjoy hideaways with less tourists in the same water and Capt Bruce not worrying about boats anchored too close!

One of the best surprises we all agree was -NOT finding Mustique Is. (privately owned) Little Bay harbour the home of rich and famous Mick Jagger & co, where Basils Bar was dead as the doormat. No doubt the hidden grand summer homes are splendorous coastside mansions with acres of palm and frangipani gardens.

The treasure WAS finding Tobago Cays, 5 small uninhabited islets and a pristine coral reef  extremely well preserved by the local community, so much so that the threatened green turtle populations has grown to 200 in the marine reserve aaaaaannnnddd we could snorkel with them all day. Green turtles are beautifully marked and were aged from 6-30, they can live to over 100 years and only a few of 1500 eggs become fully grown.

Tobago Cays
Drew's skills and Fee's inspiration led to capturing a few on camera. They feed constantly on sea grass in relatively shallow water. Jumping off the boat for her first snorkel Gina jumped on top of Bruce at the sight of a spotted black and white Sea Ray swimming closeby. Then we all searched for them each day to see them glide.

Turtles are strong swimmers if you try their stroke, of forearms as paddles and back ones as rudders, you can't keep pace. They come up for air frequently, less than 1 minute, and seem to be comfortable with us staying 6ft away even though sharks are a predator.

Mayreau Tobago Cays

"Never wish to leave here or always wish to come here...Tobago Cays is sublime"!

F&D and G&B were all sorry to leave this sanctuary.  Our next stop is Grenada, WYUNA's home port and our return destination after 7 months at sea and (thanks to Mal's log) we have recorded 1069 nmiles sailed.  Capt B has mastered the catamaran's skippering and come to set the sails for smooth crossings at 8kns if the winds are right. Gina is named Admiral after learning all the basics of helming, anchoring, charting and setting the sails. So2 up is our forte, thanks to Mal's coaching and a little help from our friends and the Winch Buddy.
St George's Harbour Grenada
No better local hang out than the National Musuem jazz jam so off we headed from Port Louis Marina to ST Georges on friday night - what a buzzy street scene, locals with beers line the foreshore listening to music and checking out the talent. 
We decided to satisfy our steak craving (only available frozen in gormet delis's) so enjoyed a dinner at the Victory Bar before we saw Fee&Drew off to Peurto Rico early the next morning.

Finally, we've learnt the lessons of cruising, sail in 15kns at 8knts, find clear water, a sandy anchorage within swiming distance to a beach and dingy dock, and enjoy the freeedom of living afloat on the Caribbean Sea surrounded by beautiful islands and friendly people.   All who wander are not lost.
The message from long cruisers is" there is no plan it happens as long as you go along". Hey John Lennon sang it years ago!
Maybe this will become the WYUNA theme song .... just have to make up the songlines to go with the chorus.

We're  home in July to enjoy the daily TV news, The Age, doorknockers, cold winter racing days, tennis in winter trackies, finding a car park in our street etc and no more daily rituals of coating the body in sunscreen and dropping the dingy in the water to get ashore. Not sure about long showers, but we hear definitely more Rain!

Wyuna squeezing into Spice Island Marine

This is WYUNA, WYUNA, WYUNA Over and Out for 2012.

We are looking forward to catching up with our family and friends, and Billy.

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