Newbies on board

We asked Frank and Marijke, who visited us on Moondust recently, to share their impressions as newbies of what it entails to live on a yacht. Herewith their experience….

We gladly accepted Karin and Pete’s generous invitation to join them on board Moondust and loved their company and living at sea and virtually in the sea, as we did a lot of snorkeling! Being Duchies we stem from a sea faring nation, but personally we had no experience at all of life ‘adrift’, therefore Pete had to give us an induction.

He explained a set of necessary rules of conduct on board a ship. They were quite logic for living at sea and concentrated on aspects like safety, living together in a confined space, and the use of water.

Safety

For safety reasons one never walks on deck without a firm hold whilst sailing. It is extremely challenging to retrieve somebody who fell overboard because of currents and difficulties to keep track of the exact location of the man overboard.

When sailing, you have to make sure that all hatches and portholes are firmly closed, unless you like sleeping in a soaked bed.

A fire on a ship can be life threatening, so there are special safety measures for cooking with gas.

House rules

What struck us was the ‘war against salt’. Salt is everywhere around you, but you don’t want it in your living space because it inevitably attracts moisture. Preventing this is an ongoing battle. Clothing, shoes and towels soaked with salt water are NOT permitted beyond a certain point.

You even try to keep sweet water and damp out as much as possible. You shower in the open on the back sugarscoop, which is a sheer joy.

Sweet water has to be used very sparingly and for us Duchies this required a change in mindset. In Holland we have an abundance of sweet water but on a ship you have to find ways to economise without compromising on hygiene.

When the desalinator, which turns seawater into potable water, is in operation nobody is allowed to use the toilet!

Living on board

The catamaran has four cabins, but nevertheless you live in a confined space. Moondust has an inner and outer living space but we spent most of our time in the outside cockpit area, enjoying the wind, the sea and Cuba Libre sundowners.  As this space is covered, it offers shade as well as protection against rain and spray from the sea. This is the nicest spot on board with ample room for everybody.

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Frank and Marijke in the cockpit.

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Our first taste of the Caribbean ‘proper’

After we picked our Dutch friends Frank and Marijke up from St George, our first stop was the underwater sculpture gallery at Dragon Bay on the west coast of Grenada. A number of sculptures, created by UK sculptor, Jason deCaires Taylor, are placed around Molinére Reef in shallow, clear water.

Sadly some of the sculptures have been damaged by stormy sea conditions but there is still plenty to see.   The most impressive is Vicissitudes, a circle of figures, all joining hands. Another impressive figure is Christ of the Deep, which is a replica of the original that lies underwater off San Fruttuoso Bay in Italy. Other sculptures include a mermaid, a kneeling and praying figure and a woman sitting on a bench.

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Carriacou and the Grenadines

Our haul out in Trinidad completed, we headed for Carriacou, 25km north of Grenada. The north west flowing Equatorial Current pushed us in the right direction, which was just as well as the predicted wind only appeared later in the afternoon, when on one of our fishing lines we caught a beautiful Black Hind; a mature fish which was a challenge to scale and fillet, but a delight to eat in a soft, fragrant curry.

Once in the full Atlantic swell Karin began to feel sea sick and turned her attention to one of the buckets, shortly afterwards retiring for an early night. She didn’t get much sleep, but always the stalwart crew member, she refused to rest longer and took her four hour watch between midnight and 04:00. Shortly after dawn we passed the northern end of Grenada and made landfall at Tyrell Bay, Carriacou at around 09:00.

Carriacou is known as the ‘Isle of Reefs’ evidenced by the many shipwrecks we saw. Its people originate both from Africa and Scotland, the latter group settling in the village of Windward and starting the local boat building industry, which persists to this day. Both the appearance and speech of the people in that area still reflect their lineage.

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Some friendly girls of African descent on their way to school.

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Doing the ‘hard yards’ in Trinidad

Sailing is not all about exotic islands, beautiful sunsets and enjoying G&T’s. On top of doing at least one maintenance job daily, there comes a time when a boat owner really has to do the hard yards.

It was time for Moondust’s maintenance haul-out and, since we could not sail much further north in the Caribbean until the end of the hurricane season in November, being impressed with Power Boat’s  prompt e-mail responses and general interest shown, we decided to follow the good references that we got from fellow cruisers and have the work done in Trinidad. We could not have made a better choice!

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Dolphins playing on Moondust’s bow.

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Tremendous Tobago – Part One

For a small island, 42km long and 10km wide, we found that Tobago punches well above its weight! It’s one of the last unspoilt Caribbean islands lying just south of the hurricane belt, close to the coast of South America and 33km north-east of its ‘parent’ Trinidad.

Tobago

It has lush, tropical rain forest clad mountains with beautiful beaches and quiet bays. The island has two season: a wet and a dry season. The temperature is around 30 degrees C with no seasonal change.

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Englishman’s Bay is gorgeous with its golden beach and lush vegetation.

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From South America to the Caribbean

It took us 32 days to reach the Caribbean from Salvador, covering 2 200 nautical miles (almost 4 000km)! Along the way we stopped in Cabedelo and at Ilha dos Lencois, which was perhaps the highlight of our voyage thus far. The latter is a remote island a stone through off the north coast of Brazil, with unspoilt natural beauty and a small local fishing population that is untainted by tourism… the kind of place that we were hoping to ‘discover’ on our voyage.

Salvador to Tobago
We sailed along the lengthy Brazilian coastline, past French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela and Trinidad to reach Tobago.

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Heading north up the Brazilian coast

It was a beautiful, peaceful morning, at first light, when we sailed from Enseada das Palmas on the north eastern side of Ilha Grande. We were rather sad to leave this beautiful area after having explored and enjoyed it for almost two months.

We had to sail directly east, past Rio de Janeiro, to round the cape at Cabo Frio before we could head north. We were grateful for good wind of 16 -20 knots from the starboard aft quarter to push us along but the sea was boisterous and lumpy with short, steep swells and breaking crests, the odd one drenching the boat. If it wasn’t for our canvas covers the cockpit would have been totally soaked. Karin got terribly seasick again and I got only about two hours’ sleep that first night, partly as I was by now unaccustomed to the noises of ocean sailing.

 

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