"Marlin" spaceships in the Caribbean
The hurricane season officially begins in the Caribbean on June 1st. And even if the weather continues to be mostly sunny this year and the trade winds constantly ensure cool nights at the anchorage, the mood is different than twelve years ago when we were in the region with the Iron Lady around Christmas time. Already in Trinidad the hardstands were filling up with boats, tarpaulins were stretched, sails were chopped off, suitcases were packed. The organized shopping tours to wholesalers remain empty. The boats spend the endangered months from June to November mostly without their owners on the southernmost Caribbean island.
Less than 80 nautical miles further north, on the spice island of Grenada, things look different. Of course, one or the other returnees are caught here as well, but most of the ships that enter the popular sheltered bays on the south coast of Grenada head for the island to spend the hurricane season here. Statistically, the risk of experiencing a cyclone is low, and the escape route to Trinidad out of the hurricane zone is short. A day trip. Go West is the other alternative for crews who are already on their way to the Pacific or the western part of the Caribbean. And there are also several loopholes for those who do not want to leave the island even in the event of a hurricane warning. If the worst comes to the worst, you can land your ship deep in the mangrove swamps, moor it with several anchors and land lines, and hold out the storm on land. We personally don't like the idea of being stuck with the "Marlin" close to fishing boats and other sailors between the mangroves. The escape forwards seems more logical to us with an average sailed Etmal of 180 nautical miles. American sailors know their way around here, for them the Caribbean is practically on their doorstep, and they say that you can safely sail in the Grenadine and St. Vincent area until the beginning of August, as long as you keep an eye on the weather forecast.
Querying the hurricane warning from the NOA is now a must every morning.
Life is also changing for the population on land, the cruise ship mole will be deserted for the next six months, and many locals who work as tour guides, in restaurants or bars in the main season, return to their villages for the summer on the less touristically developed area East side of Grenada back. In the hardware stores, flashlights and thermos flasks are advertised for emergencies. For many decades, Grenad was spared from hurricanes until 2004, when Hurricane Ivan suddenly struck the island and caused severe devastation. Even today, not all damage has been repaired. Churches without roofs, collapsed houses, and broken window panes are a common sight. The tropical storm also caused damage in the national park and on the plantations, from which nature is only slowly recovering. All the nutmeg trees on Belmont Estate were destroyed in 2004, reports an employee of the plantation, a tree has to be ten years old to bear fruit for the first time, since then the operating family has almost completely switched to growing cocoa. "Since Ivan, nature has been going crazy here," the owner of a small kiosk tells us. "But it has also brought good things. Since 2004 the mango trees have been bearing like crazy, all year round."
After a quick crossing from Trinidad, we happened to anchor exactly where we didn't want to go, namely in Prickly Bay, one of the centers of organized cruising sailing life. Once again the ship chandler can be reached by dinghy, on channel 66 the Grenadas Cruisers Net is broadcast in the morning via repeater, and where in Trinidad the offer / search section ended, the business category follows, in which the local restaurants their dinner special and the tour operators can advertise their excursions. Definitely the time to switch off for us.
Photo gallery: The Marlin on Grenada
Actually, we also want to switch ourselves off or downshift, finally anchor in the bays without lights at night, go for a walk on beaches without a beach bar and maybe only have five neighbors instead of 80. Unfortunately, despite four weeks of work in Trinidad, the to-do list is still a long way off. With the help of Rene von der Mir, Mich built the replacement motor of the Fischer Pand generator in a three-day campaign. Electricity at the push of a button, almost as good as an electrical outlet. Unfortunately, despite wind, solar and now generator energy, we still have no electricity at night, the batteries are definitely over and cannot store our laboriously extracted juice. We are ordering new ones in the USA, which will make the trip by ship for cost reasons. A boat trip across the Caribbean with final customs formalities, that takes, we prepare for three weeks of waiting.
Our children don't mind the waiting time, because family boats now come to Prickly Bay almost every day. Many came across the Atlantic in November, spent the season in the Antilles and now run, like the migratory birds, to their winter camp in Grenadein. "We were in sailing mode, now comes maintenance mode," describes a Swede aptly. Swedes, Australians, Austrians, Spaniards, Italians, Russians and South Africans are represented, and in the afternoons on the beach the children have forgotten all language barriers. It is not uncommon for us to have overnight guests on board or a few more students in the morning class at the round table. On other days we hardly see our ladies. You help each other, a couple of parents are always on the beach, the released ones drive the boat projects forward. We turn hatches so that we can finally catch the wind at the anchorage and guide it through the ship, coat hooks, shelves and storage options are created, and even the washing machine is brought to life. Especially when we are working, we notice again and again how much ship we have bought, everything has a different dimension, including the work. I am building the bare locker at the back into a comfortable walk-in cellar. And together we pull what feels like 500 meters of cable through the ship so that we can finally have a say on shortwave. The "Marlin" is on air. It was about time.
A 100-foot aluminum jongert burns off Grenada
The weather remains calm, it rains just enough that we can collect enough water, no storm warnings, no lulls. The catastrophe, which shocked the entire sailing community, happened in the middle of the anchor field. On the almost three-year-old 80-foot aluminum sloop "Uisge Beatha", a smoldering fire broke out behind the electrical panel at dawn. All attempts to bring the fire under control with fire extinguishers failed, the pump of the only fire boat on Grenadwar was defective. Less than two hours later, the first of the deckhouse windows burst, and within minutes the yacht was on fire. Anyone who was awake at this time was stunned by their own railing, watching the sail burn, the carbon mast break and the gas tanks explode. First the paint and filler crumbled into the water of the bay, then the entire aluminum hull was deformed when 4000 liters of diesel burned inside the ship. A thick cloud of black smoke hung over the bay for hours. The wreck has now been completely burned out, only an empty shell with a surprisingly intact stainless steel rail on the hull is now alongside a tug. Holes are roughly laminated with plates to prevent the wreck from sinking. The reviewers give each other the handle. Who pays how much, that's what it's all about, as always, especially when, like this Jongert, several million are at stake.
We never really love Prickly Bay despite all the social contacts, because somehow you feel like you are in a large holiday complex. On land nothing but hotels, beach bars, diving schools and restaurants. There is a fixed program in the bars: Pizza on Monday, Trivial Pursuit Tuesday, Bingo on Wednesday, Domino on Thursday and the same band on Friday. To be honest, all of this could also take place on any other tropical island in the world, if a lonely steel drummer didn't play hits from the 70s and 80s on Saturday. To really get to know the island of Grenad, we have to get out of our sailing ghetto. With the minibus across the island, into the rainforest, the cocoa and spice plantations and of course at the start of the carnival.
Grenad and a few other islands seem to prefer to celebrate their Carnival when the tourist season is over. Spicemas 2013 takes place in mid-August, but the fifth season starts ten weeks earlier on June 1st. Again and again it shivers heavily on this day, but the rain is warm, the partiers on the streets crowd together under the umbrellas. The embankment, on which the minibuses usually honk their horns loudly, is blocked, and a local celebrity in a tight white dress and oversized sunglasses is on stage and is commenting on what is happening. The carnival groups have come from all regions of the islands. In their partly colorful, partly creepy costumes, they wander through the crowd, rattling chains and spraying baby powder. The exuberant happiness only begins after the parade, when the steel drum bands play the latest soca and calypso hits. St. Georges celebrates until late at night on the Carenage, we have to give up at some point.
When we finally manage to pull the iron out of the sand of the bay, I have to smile at our last entry in the logbook. Anchor fall at five meters in Prickly Bay for Maya's birthday party. Maya's birthday? That was four weeks ago! High time for new shores.