The plan for 2019 is quite simple…Summer in New York, Christmas in the Bahamas!
But first I will island hop up the Eastern Caribbean …Trinidad, Granada, the Grenadine islands, and so on.
The image at the head of this post is the sun rising over Hart’s Cut Bay in Trinidad.
My mind was made up, the final documentation for my US visa application was complete, I had booked extra days in CrewsInn marina and all I had to do was book a US embassy interview and book a return flight to London…easy peazy, and then just sail to Grenada in the first week of February. BUT, the earliest date available for the interview was 1st February! So everything has to be delayed! It seems that the US government shutdown caused by the impasse over funding for “the wall” is affecting some aspects of US Embassy services.
I’m now in London, and if anyone ever again hears me utter the words “I’m popping back to the UK in January” then please slap my legs and take my passport away from me…it’s freezing cold and snow is on its way!
Today is 1st February and I spent a little over an hour at the US embassy having two short interviews, giving two sets of finger prints and handing over the documents required. My visa application has been accepted and I now have to wait around a week to get my passport back.
I’m now the proud owner of a British passport with a ten year US visa. While in the UK I have also visited my youngest son in Leeds, met with a university friend after 41 years, met friends in Hull, completed my tax return (on the penultimate day!), met with friends in London, visited Tate Britain and Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel, and had a wonderful day at the Chinese New Year celebrations in Trafalgar Square with Liz. I have booked a flight to Barbados, and three days in an AirBnB near Bridgetown. Then there is just a short onward flight to Trinidad to book….I wonder what experiences the Year of the Pig will promise!
I am coming to the end my stay in Trinidad. I’m organising quick trips to the Trinidad carnival with friend Liz who is flying out to join me for a couple of weeks. Our first taste of carnival was J’ouvert, which means “opening day” and starts before sunrise at 4am. We joined a band called Tribal Explosion and the whole experience included the loudest Soca music, food, drink and the smearing of paint on the revellers as we wound our way around Port of Spain. As the hours passed by the behaviour became more raucous, including wining (look it up on Google!) and finished at 10am. The next day we were picked up at 6am to head into Port of Spain again, and we followed the various masquerades until 2pm when we deserved a rest!……I really don’t know where the masqueraders got their energy from!
We had a day of rest and then left CrewsInn marina at 2am to arrive in Grenada in daylight. The adventure began as we briefly went aground in the Bocas in darkness! But as we left the Trinidad coast we were able to sail a lively passage on one tack as we hit 7 knots of Speed Over Ground hour after hour, and completed the 83nm passage in 14 hours. The Le Phare Bleu marina is in a beautiful setting on the south coast of Grenada, and has an ex-Swedish Lightship as the toilet and shower facility, and regular live music. We saw Sabina Francis and her band on one evening.
On our last day in Grenada we took a local bus into the town of St George’s.
I’m now solo sailing again, and will sail to the Grenadine island of Carriacou tomorrow. I’m looking forward to a few days in the Grenadines because I’m meeting up with three sets of sailing friends who I’ve met over the last few years!
Carriacou has that laidback Caribbean beach style, and I anchored in Tyrrel Bay….after two attempts! I met with David and Mark, two guys I met in Lanzarote and who both crossed the Atlantic on their own boats earlier this year. We agreed to meet again in Carriacou, and we did! I also met Karin and Chris, an Austrian couple who I met in Kalamata over the winter of 2015/2016. They now run their own skippered charter business on their catamaran in St Vincent & the Grenadines. And finally was invited for drinks on another yacht after seeing my OCC (Ocean Cruising Club) pennant, but hadn’t realised we had spoken at our last stop in Grenada! Carriacou is a great place to meet old and new friends!
I then made a long 28 hour passage to St Lucia which had hours of fabulous wind until I hit the “wind shadow” behind St Vincent. Then I had a mixture of fighting against current and swell until I reached the gap between St Vincent and St Lucia when good winds hit again!
I sailed up to Rodney Bay at the very northwest of the island and was moored up by midday…I then rested and slept well on the first night! I met Paul Chopin (with Helen) who I first met in Gibraltar and then in Gran Canaria as we were both preparing to cross the Atlantic with the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers). Then I met sailor-cum-backpacker-cum-travelling Californian, Heather on the next boat to me….such is the life of a social butterfly! But I had a rendezvous to make on Martinique, and I sailed a fabulous passage to Fort de France.