The sailing down to Grenada from Sainte Anne on Martinique will take about 24 hours. According to the weather forecast for Thursday and Friday, we will get 15 knots of wind from the east, perfect for sailing with a course around 200 degrees. We pick up the anchor at seven in the morning and set sail in the moderate breeze. When we get out in St Lucia Strait the wind increases and there are long stretches of sargasso seaweed on the sea. Soon it’s time to try your luck fishing and maybe catch a Mahi-Mahi.
The stretch down to St Lucia offers fine sailing conditions with a nice beam reach in 20 – 25 knots. When beam-reaching in this wind strength, we usually take in a reef in both main and genoa to get a little calmer sailing in the puffs.
Another fishing story
Out on St. Lucia Strait, I release the same lure I had when the Mahi-Mahin outside Antigua was on the hook and came loose after a long struggle. The lure is good in that the sargasso seaweed does not stick to it so easily and should any sargasso get stuck, it is often flushed away.
I usually drag the lure 50-60 m behind Sally and we have come down to St Lucia when I need to get up and clear it from seaweed. When I pull the line to get rid of the seaweed, I feel how a fish bites. My first thought is, finally a Mahi-Mahi!
Maybe it’s just a coincidence that it bites when I’m cleaning the lure or it’s a combination of the pull going through seaweed and just getting free of it when I pull the line. The Mahi-Mahi may perceive it as a flying fish or squid swimming out of the seaweed.
This time it is not at all the same resistance as the last time I had a Mahi-Mahi on the hook. The fish make weaker rushes and cannot cope with as many rushes. So after a few minutes, I can start pumping it in towards the boat. As it gets closer, I see that it is shimmering green and has the shape of a Mahi-Mahi. In the end, it does not resist at all, maybe we sail too fast for it to be able to swim down. I can crank the fish to the stern where I can lift it up with the gaff Carina give me. It is an 80 cm long Mahi-Mahi which, after receiving a dose of alcohol in the gills, bleeds into a bucket and then fillet the fish. There will be 8 portions that we freeze to party on later.
As we sail in the strait between St Lucia and St Vincent (St Vincent Passage), it starts to get dark and we see the sun go down among dark clouds. It looks like it will be a dark night at sea with rain showers and possibly thunder. Fortunately, we only see lightning lighting up the clouds far away. When the sun starts to rise, we sail past the underwater volcano 2Kick’em Jenny”, just north of Grenada. Since it is active now, we pass outside the outer safety limit to avoid surprises in the form of rising gas bubbles that can sink a small boat like ours.
We arrive at Granada in the morning and call the Port Louis Marina to request permission for the quarantine period at Grenada. We have previously announced that we will come today and have emailed passport copies, boat documents, health declarations, etc. We are welcome to the quarantine bridge. There we have to wait for our turn to see a doctor who asks if we feel sick and takes the temperature on us. Both Carina and I are without a fever and feel healthy. Then we get information about the routines around the quarantine and have to leave the bridge to find a place to anchor in the quarantine area.
Ross Point Anchorage
The anchorage area is located outside Ross Point and is partly 20 m deep. In the deepest places, almost no one anchors because it takes about 80 m of anchor chain, and not everyone has that. Also, I can not free dive down to the anchor to check the holding or pick it up if it gets stuck behind a large rock. Preferably we want to anchor at a depth of 4-7 m and so do most others, so it is crowded where we are going to anchor.
After a few tries, we give up to get a good anchor holding and just back on the anchor lightly. We will be on the boat all the time and if our anchor releases, it will usually get a hold within a few meters. This means that the boat moves with small steps at a time and then we have time to notice it and anchor again before we get close to other boats or close to land. At night, I start the alarm in the Anchorwatch app on the phone. In that app, you mark where the anchor is located and how large a radius you want the boat to be able to move in without the alarm going off. Unfortunately, it gives some false alarms when the phone’s GPS gets the wrong position, and then I wake up with the breath in my throat from the horrible alarm signal.
After a few days, the anchor has moved about 10 m and we have come close to the edge where the depth changes from 5 to over 10 m. We have to look for a new place and after the third attempt, we get a good grip. When I dive on the anchor, the tip is stuck in 5 cm of sand on the rock bottom. It should turn out that this attachment will last better than expected, the anchor does not pull out of the spot the rest of the time in quarantine, despite 180-degree wind changes and some hard gusts with 25 knots of wind.
To make time go by when we are in quarantine, we take the opportunity to do things we have saved for later, such as cleaning storage compartments, writing on the blog, sorting photos and movies. Cleaning the storage compartments meant that we found insects in the food that led to further work.
As Carina walks through the pantry, she finds some insects (weevils) crawling around inside unopened pasta and rice packets. We go through the rest of the food supply and find a few more weevils. There is a hole in a pasta package and in a rice package. The weevils are crawling out there! Now we pack all the food in double plastic bags, in case there have been holes in the original bag, empty and clean out all the cupboards where we store food. Carina has procured cedar pieces that deter insects and we place them in strategic places in the cupboards to hopefully deter insects from settling there.
As it is a fairly open anchorage, swell comes in from the west almost all the time. When the wind makes Sally blow out from land and has the stern against the swell, then it is barely noticeable. But as soon as the wind dies out or the current causes the boat to lay along the shore, then it can swing hysterically. I have previously written that I would rather have a catamaran to avoid swinging in the swell, but now I am not completely sure anymore. Sure, the single-hull boats rock more than the catamarans, but the catamarans rock twice for each wave that passes.
Kite in the rig
For a few days, we have heard a strange sound from land, a kind of whistling sound that varies in frequency. As if it were a giant mosquito. One morning when we get up in the cockpit I hear a rustling and fluttering sound from our mast and when I look out from under the bimini there is a kite that is tangled in a spreader. It has a long long tail (40 m) that blows out from the top of the mast and the line it has been attached to has become entangled in the mast and hangs down in the water.
Well, then we know what we have to do today, climb the mast and take down the kite. After breakfast, I get ready to climb up or rather be hoisted by Carina, in the mast. It is a fantastic view when you get up 22 m above the water and the boat is just like a small dinghy far down there. Today it was a little extra fun, swell makes the mast top move a few meters from side to side.
First, tangle the dragon tail out of wind instruments and antennas, then time for some pictures. The kite and the rope it is attached to have snagged properly at the bottom spreader and I have to use a knife to cut it free.
Sand from Sahara
During the quarantine period, the Sahara takes the opportunity to send a few million tonnes of fine sand across the Atlantic. Some days there is so much sand in the air that we cough and our eyes sting when we are out. There is so much sand that it looks like a haze and one day everything looks gray, the sky is light gray, the sea gray, the trees dark gray. We have never experienced anything like this. One of the photographs I took then is used in an article that SMHI has written about the phenomenon. After a few days with the sand in the air, I got tired of being irritated in the throat and eyes and put on mouth guards and goggles to see if it would help to get rid of the dust in the eyes and throat. It did. When the dust disappeared from the air, we washed off the whole boat, which was covered with a thin layer of brown fine-grained sand.
There were several nice sunsets and a lot of swimming behind the boat with water aerobics to keep the body going. We have bought ”floating sausages” that we attach behind the boat, it is really nice to hang in them and then we usually take the opportunity to exercise as well.
After 12 days in quarantine, it’s time to test us. We have been called to do a medical checkup and test if we have antibodies to Covid-19. When we enter the Q-bridge, there is a long queue and everyone has a mouthguard and stands with a distance of 2 meters between the crews. We have to wait for about 1 hour before it is our turn. Fever measurement, tell how you feel and then a stick in the finger and wait 15 minutes while the test is ready. They have a very efficient routine, two who take samples and one who keeps track of time.
We had no antibodies and will now only get our health certificate. Those who have antibodies have to make another test for the virus and continue the quarantine waiting for the test result a couple of more days.
We forgot to bring a document to get our health certificates and need to go to the boat to pick it up … Finally, we get our certificate and go to the next queue, to get clearance into Grenada. We are last in the long queue and it will take a long time before it is our turn. Instead, we go to the restaurant and before we can go in, they take the temperature and we are entered in an infection tracking log. The tables are sparse and the staff has mouth guards. This is the first restaurant visit since Guadeloupe after the hike up to the waterfalls in mid-March, over 3 months ago.
After lunch, we go back to the queue to clear in. There I start a conversation with another sailor and as usual, we speak English with each other. When we have talked for quite some time, we discover that we are both from Sweden 🙂
After we have cleared in, we are free to move around Grenada as long as we follow the rules that apply to social distancing, mouth protection, and curfews during the night. We must leave our anchorage as soon as possible to make room for new boats to come.
The next posting is about our stay in Woburn Bay waiting to haul out the boat at a boatyard.