Jolly Harbour on the west of Antigua was an easy landfall and we anchored outside the channel, along with perhaps 14 other yachts and the next morning took the dinghy to clear in and do some shopping. Development along the coastline is first world and substantial; palatial homes, guest accommodation and hotels. We later learnt that much of the coastline is private property above the high tide level, which includes most of the beach, as the tide only rises about half a metre in the Caribbean.
Replacement of our sail being a top priority, I sent out some email enquiries and we later motored around the coast to nearby St. John’s, from where we could get transport. Here we found the anchor holding very poor, eventuating in the need to motor back out a kilometre to Side Hill Bay, where, after several more attempts, the anchor finally held.
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.
It was only a two hour sail from Charlotteville around the headland to Bloody Bay. If one looks at the peaceful bay, it is hard to believe that it derived its name from pirate activity in the early 1700’s. It is a small bay with facilities only for day visitors.
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.
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.
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.
We found what appeared to be the perfect anchorage; the shore of steeply rising Ilha da Gipoia a few metres away, covered with every shade and texture of verdant forest. Trees soar upwards, supported on tall, narrow, grey trunks, their foliage finally bursting outwards, finding light, and every nook beneath crammed with prolific, lush growth. Typically the land, clothed in profusion of green dotted with mauve, drops abruptly to a round bouldered shore lapped by the sea.
We had a very calm, peaceful and wonderful first day to our voyage, departing Cape Town on Monday, 29th January 2018. After the bustle of the past two years it was difficult to believe that we were actually on our way.
I’m sitting in Moondust’s cabin with the south easter blowing hard and rain pattering on the windows, which is very welcome in the current drought. Looking back on the past year of frantic activity it is hard to believe that we are now counting the days before our departure! We hope to set sail early January, but the nature of sailing is such that it is impossible to set a fixed date and time.
In the year since we took ownership of Moondust we have worked far harder than we have played. In fact, technical matters kept us off the water long enough for a mother rock pigeon to find her way into our mainsail stack pack, lay her eggs and hatch the chicks, only to have me haul them out by the handful whilst searching for the reefing lines when we finally went out again. On our return to the dock, both parents were clearly distraught at the loss of their chicks, which put us in a quandary – take them to World of Birds… or what? This was resolved the next day when Hendrik at the sanctuary informed me that they couldn’t accept birds due to bird flu. So, a carved-up wine box on our foredeck supplanted their home in the mainsail and their parents returned to feed them until they flew the nest a few weeks later. In the meanwhile we kept a low profile with the other yachties, as none of them would have welcomed two more pigeons messing on their boats!
With the responsibilities of direct parenthood nearing their end in Karin’s case and with me in the midst of my sixth decade, it was important for us both to continue to make the most of life before decrepitude finally arrived. I had had an eventful motorcycle trip up to Tanzania in 2014 which led to the acquisition and outfitting of a 4 wheel drive vehicle for a seven month overland journey to Ethiopia and back with Karin in 2015. After that great experience the question naturally arose – what next?