Showing posts with label tartan yachts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tartan yachts. Show all posts

11 December 2019

And We're Finally Sailing: Grenadines

After a month in Grenada getting Argon back in the water, completing major and minor projects, and a couple of false starts, we were finally able to begin the sailing part of this journey. And just in the nick of time to host Christian and Brittany!

Captain Linda Perry Riera


Although geographically part of the Grenadines, politically Carriacou is part of the country of Grenada. Only 12 square miles and with a population of 8,000, the size and simplicity of this island is a stark contrast to Grenada. Carriacou is a favorite of ours and we were ecstatic to finally be able to depart Grenada and sail to Carriacou on the last day of November.

Easy 18nm close reach sail on calm waters from Grenada mainland to Carriacou where we met up with Christian and Brittany.

Christian and Brittany joined us in Carriacou!

Argon is the lone sailboat anchored in Sparrow Bay on the west side of Carriacou

Outside Bogles Round House overlooking Sparrow Bay. Bogles is a charming set of stone cottages and a restaurant. This is one of the several unique places Christian and Brittany stayed at on land when not sleeping aboard Argon. They both enjoyed the experience of sleeping on board, but prefer land accommodations. :-)

My favorite harbor in all of the Caribbean is Anse la Roche. We enjoyed a private bbq with lobster hosted by Tim Roy and friends.

After the bbq, Christian popped the question on the beach!

Engagement celebration hosted by Tim Roy with a beach bbq on Anse la Roche. Congratulations to Christian and Brittany!

Argon anchored in Anse la Roche.

Exploring Carriacou on foot.

Overlooking Tyrrel Bay where Argon is anchored for the last day/night on Carriacou.


Sprinkled over a 40nm swath of ocean between Grenada and Saint Vincent, the Grenadines is a group of more than a dozen islands with a population of about 10,000. Union and Bequia are the most populated; several islands are non-inhabited such as the group of Tobago Cays. The Grenadines is one of my favorite cruising grounds due to the clear turquoise waters and relatively rustic Caribbean vibe.

Union Island

After several heavenly and celebratory days in Carriacou, it was time to check out of customs and immigration, weigh anchor, and set off for the country of St. Vincent and The Grenadines (SVG). We were high to the wind for the short 10nm sail but were able to coast in to Clifton Harbor at Union Island on a single tack.

Carriacou in the background as we sail to Union Island.

Christian and Brittany assuming the honor of hoisting the courtesy flag for the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines after checking in to customs and immigration. (Not quite tan yet.)

We met up with Tim Roy's mom, Jenny for some fresh produce and fantastic mango-papaya-banana smoothies.

Dinghy parking lot in Clifton Harbor, Union Island.

Brittany passes a beer to the impressive kite surfer, Butter, as we watch his acrobatics from Happy Island.

Linda with Butter (after hitching a ride). His kite boarding show was spectacular.


Mayreau is a precious little island with less than 300 residents. Salt Whistle Bay is a magical anchorage (potentially my second favorite) overlooking a thin spit of sand allowing the constant easterlies through to cool whilst providing a barrier to the choppy seas.

Heavenly Salt Whistle Bay.

Many boat boys are eager to help cruisers anchor, moor, as well as offer fish, bread and their beach bbq services.

Local grapefruit, papaya, and passion fruit are breakfast favorites.

An easy swim or short dinghy to the pristine beach of Salt Whistle Bay.

Nadika was a lovely host to a delicious dinner of grilled snapper and chicken with plantains, salad and fried rice. She also provides laundry services.

Tobago Cays

A protected marine park consisting of five small islands surrounded by reefs, Tobago Cays is popular with cruisers and charter boats in this area and a truly unique destination. Although restrictions have been present for 25 years, the area remains threatened from the extensive usage. Several local boat boys regularly hold beach bbq's and sell fish but there is frustration among many locals that they are not able to benefit enough from this resource.

Five uninhabited islands of the Tobago Cays surrounded by reefs to the east providing some protection from the open ocean.

Small spit of beach a short swim away from where we are moored between Petit Rameau and Petit Bateau busy with sea turtles and rays.

Much current runs between these two islands. We hung on to the dinghy painter when swimming off the boat to keep from getting swept away in the current.

View from Petit Rameau overlooking the eastern reef and turtle sanctuary.

Peak of Petit Rameau, Tobago Cays.


Pronounced bek-wee, the second largest island of the Grenadines is most definitely one of our overall favorite of the entire Caribbean. Admiralty Bay, the main anchorage, is a large western-facing bay with a ferry terminal, Port Elizabeth town center, water front stone walk, and stretches of gorgeous beaches. We were fortunate to set the hook here for 10 days last February as well as another week in December.

The sail from Tobago Cays to Bequia was robust (and some of our stomachs protested a bit). Winds were up in the high teens and low twenties and from slightly north of east (as usual). In this part of the Caribbean, sailing north means sailing to Windward (hence "Windward Islands"). Therefore, not only are you sailing quite high, but in the open water between islands, you are plowing into pretty good ocean swell. This was the most we have pushed Argon since the major gooseneck rework and new main sail and track were added. With reefed main and 90% Jib, she performed beautifully often soaring at 7.5 kts. Our confidence in the boat is returning and this was a great passage to push that forward.

The 25nm sail from Tobago Cays to Bequia was a bit challenging in 20+ kt easterly winds and 6 foot seas. We were close haul the entire way but able to reach the southwestern tip of of the island in less than 4 hours and in one tack.


Christian and Brittany on the sea walk from the town center to Prince Margaret Beach.


View overlooking the eastern coast during a walk across the island.

Koko (a waiter at Jack's Beach Bar) jumped in the water and collected West Indian Sea Eggs (aka White Sea Urchins) from the shallows to toss them out to deeper water so beach goers would not inadvertently step on them. Koko also broke a few open for some urchin sashimi. It was pretty yummy.

Although spiny, white urchins can be held carefully.

Island dogs abound in Bequia, like on most Caribbean islands. Bob made friends with several.

Mundane Boat Projects

After the many weeks in Grenada heavily occupied with major boat projects, Bob was relieved to find himself occupied with relatively basic boat chores. A dock line needed splicing and a couple of soft shackles weaved; we scrubbed Argon's waterline and the bottom of the dinghy. Water was delivered to us in the anchorage to top off the tanks and a bit of provisioning was accomplished. Another adjustment was made to the sail cover by a local canvas shop. The most major project all week was replacing a windlass switch.

Water delivery while at anchor.

Farewell to Christian &Brittany and the Grenadines

As our time in the Grenadines comes to a close, so does our time with the kids. After checking Christian and Brittany off our crew manifesto with customs and immigration, they will hop a ferry to Saint Vincent and fly back to the states. Bob and I can enjoy Bequia for a couple of more days before setting sail for Saint Vincent and beyond.

So happy to share our time exploring the Grenadines with Christian and Brittany!
And congratulations to the newly engaged couple! (Very tan now.)

24 November 2019

Go Up! A Bit More on Grenada

Advice for cruisers, or other travelers, looking to detect the essence of cultures on these islands: go up, venture in.

Captain Linda Perry Riera

It is easy and comfortable to stay in the cruising neighborhoods of the islands. Semi-manicured marinas  and beach fronts with pruned palm trees, restaurants with pizza and wings, activities and socials for cruisers, lots of people that look like me. And although these nooks usually have a sprinkling of culture and evidence of the complex dichotomies that come with island living, we were reminded recently how rich the experience can be when we venture beyond the surface and just walk up the hill.

Anchored Off St. George's

After anchoring in Prickly Bay for the first 9 days after launch and spending much time still working on getting Argon and ourselves ready, we weighed anchor and enjoyed a leisurely short test sail along the southern coast and over near the capital city of Grenada, St. George's.

Simple, luxurious inaugural 8nm sail in very light winds. Enjoyed seeing dozens of turtles, a large sting ray, and even a small shark along the way in the calm, clear waters.

There is an expansive anchorage area just south of the capital of St. George's on the west coast. The holding is precarious as small rocks and dead coral are abundant with surprisingly scant sand and mud for a secure holding. It is not uncommon to have to try a few times to get a good set in this area.

Urban Hike

After enjoying the Hash through a beautiful, rugged, hilly (and muddy) 3 mile hike on the eastern coast recently, Bob proposed we do an urban hike. We had been admiring from afar the bright white pillared Parliament building perched high up above the city of St. George's and decided we would set out for a vigorous climb winding our way through back streets.

The city of St. George's is inviting with it's colorful facade climbing up the mountainside. Upon closer inspection on foot, grit and hardship are evident.

Hillside overlooking St. George's.

View of St. George's from nearby the Parliament building after an invigorating walk up. The anchorage (and Argon) is to the left just out of view off the peninsula.

So many interesting buildings and sites along the way. The infrastructure is good for a poor Caribbean island but extremely meager compared to standards back home. Sidewalks are rare and walking along the road takes much attention and jumping out of the way of vehicles whizzing by. We have learned to carry a flashlight when venturing out late in the day as streetlights are uncommon and the paved terrain is abundant with ditches, holes and other obstacles.

Flowers and produce are commonly sold on the street. My favorites include christophine (aka chayote), papaya, avocado, mango, potatoes and passion fruit.

More street vendors.

Grenadian traffic signal in the capital of St. George's. (There are no electric traffic lights.)

Popular weekend street market downtown St. George's.

Tending to the Tender - With Help from Patrick

While making one of the many lengthy dinghy rides in to the city from the anchorage, we noticed that the raw water cooling had restricted flow (even though the outboard was just serviced this past summer... argh!).

We were no longer near the shipyard where the outboard was recently serviced. But we were able to get connected with a local mechanic, Patrick, to help with figuring out what was causing the restricted raw water flow.

Partially in a torrential downpour, Patrick and I got the outboard to his work boat. Patrick was kind enough to give me a bit of a lesson in outboard servicing.

Replacing the impeller on a Tohatsu 6hp 4 stroke is extremely tricky (much more difficult than on our Volvo 55hp diesel). The crank shaft needs to come off (and, the more difficult part, is getting it back on).

The impeller was changed (although the original one looked good). We also inspected the thermostat which was extremely corroded (removed it - not needed with in the warm water); and cleaned out the area around in-take and outflow. The outboard ideally needs a bit more of an overhaul (including a new base gasket) which we will arrange to have done in the coming weeks further up the island chain.

Beach Bums for an Afternoon

We spend surprisingly little time hanging out at beaches while cruising. However, nearly three weeks after arriving in Grenada, we both enjoy an afternoon at Grand Anse Beach, just south of St. George's. I swam and we both indulged in an afternoon cocktail.

Surprisingly rare beach hang out.

And on to Carriacou, or Not....

We have been itching to start to make our way to the next island north all week but the winds have been uncharacteristically light (and often non-existent). With favorable winds finally forcasted we weighed anchor Sunday morning and, despite rain moving in, happily set sail up along the west coast. After a bit we had to fire up the motor, keeping the main up for some motor sailing, as the wind was light and on our nose when Bob heard a strange loud boing. It was pouring rain but we soon realized that the upper battens along the leech of the sail were hitting the back stay making a loud vibratory plucking noise and shaking the rig. We realized that the roach of the sail was jutting beyond the back stay... not good for the back stay, sail or rig.

Pic of the over-extended roach through the bimini window in a rainstorm. Fingers crossed that the sail maker will be able to quickly re-cut the roach of the new main sail so that we can finally, really, no kidding this time start our journey. We were surprised not to have noticed this the prior week during the initial test sail. But we had been sailing mostly down wind and in hindsight should have headed upwind more and done several test tacks.

After a quick conversation on what to do next, we agree to turn around and head back not to St. George's, but even further to Pricky Bay near where the sail maker is located. Ugh. Back where we began several weeks ago. But this is not a bad place to be stuck.