Woburn Bay on Grenada

Now there are only three weeks left before it is time to fly home to Sweden. We have read that the airline that will take us from Grenada up to Martinique, is in crisis and very close to bankruptcy. But since it is owned by some Caribbean countries, there is hope that they will get more money so they can continue to fly. For safety, we contact our tour operator who says that the flight will go as planned. The haul-out is now booked for the 2nd of July at 10, so we have about a week left to enjoy life on board Sally. We sail down to Woburn Bay where the shipyard is located and in the meantime, we can both enjoy fine water and prepare Sally for being stored ashore.

The sailing to Woburn Bay offers fresh wind from the east and it is strong around Grenada’s southern cape. Soon the wind is straight against and we use the engine the last nautical miles to Woburn Bay. Despite meter-high waves straight at the bow, Sally takes them very softly without hard splashes. Of course, water splashes up from the bow, but the windshield and raised spray hood protect us in the cockpit from getting wet. We have made sure to arrive around noon so that the sun is high and is behind us when we enter through the opening in the reef outside Woburn Bay. Today the reef is clearly visible and the waves break against it in large white cascades of foam. One of the buoys that mark the reef opening has moved and is in the middle of the channel and it first makes me a little unsure on which side of the buoy we should go. It is in situations like this that it is nice with plotters, good light, and clear water, I can see the edge of the reef clearly on both sides and choose to go on the wrong side of the buoy.

At anchor

The last time we were here, we anchored at 8m depth off the beach on Calvingny Island. There is room this time too. Out here, the water is still clear and nice. It feels better to swim and be able to use the water maker without the filters clogging up so quickly. We anchor in about the same place and put out 40 meters of chain next to the catamaran Alize which is anchored with double anchors.

Unfortunately, Calvigny Island is under quarantine and we are not allowed to land there. Too bad, because there is a very nice beach where you can usually go ashore even though the island is private. I think there is a rule that applies to most Caribbean islands that say that beaches are always public.

The first days at anchor we enjoy some beautiful days, with swimming, excursions with the dinghy. We also work hard to eat all canned food with beans, sardines, tuna, and chickpeas. I think we have tried all combinations with pasta, rice, eggs, and bread. There is also time to write some articles for the blog.

Before the haul-out, there are some things we need to fix. All sails should be taken down and folded neatly, which is not the easiest thing to do. Carina and I have done it a few times now, and learned not to disagree when we do it 🙂
We work with the removal of rust on guard rails and targa arch. I try to get the insurance company to describe what kind of cradle they accept and to get the shipyard to understand that description, see Cradle trouble below. We also book unstepping of the mast and look for someone who can make us a ”hurricane canopy” to the cockpit. We want to cover the cockpit to prevent insects and leaves from gathering there.

We have over 30 degrees in the water and in the air every day it is 33 degrees hot inside the boat. If I go in during the day, I sweat rivers. This means that I wait for the longest to start with engine service etc. I had in fact waited for the longest anyway, working with engines is not what I think is the most fun job onboard. I think it is a too-small space to be in and it is difficult to access and it is an uncomfortable working position. Keep in mind that I have only worked from an office chair all my life, then it will be extremely difficult to squat in 33-degree heat and work with a filter puller. Finally, there will be a few sweaty days when I service the engine and genset, and preserve the water-maker.

Every 3 days Carina bakes a new bread, it smells so good in the boat those days and there will be a freshly baked sandwich with butter for the afternoon coffee, mmm … will probably miss it when we move out of the boat.

Cradle trouble

Since we will be storing the boat ashore in the hurricane area here in the Caribbean, we must supplement the boat insurance so that it also covers damage from Named Tropical Storms. With the supplement comes requirements on how the boat should be stored on land, ie how the cradle should be designed and how the boat should be anchored in the ground so that it does not blow over or fly away if it is a catamaran. You have probably seen pictures of upside-down catamarans in the water and on land, it is because the wind lifts them up and turns them upside down.

Our insurance company requires a cradle where all parts are fixed to each other and that the boat must stand on the stand on it with the keel. Both sides of the boat shall be attached to a 2.5-ton block every 3 meters, so-called tie-downs. When the boat is on land, we must send pictures of the setup and have it approved by the insurance company, otherwise, the insurance does not apply.

The yard we are going to be at does not use the type of cradle required by our insurance, and the concrete blocks they use weigh only 1 or 1.5 tons depending on who we ask. After several emails with explanations from the insurance company and shipyard, we come to a solution that the shipyard can provide and which is approved by the insurance company.

Shutting down water-maker

The instructions from Hallberg-Rassy state that the entire water-maker must be emptied of water, filters removed and RO membranes removed. However, it does not say what to do with the membranes. The manual from EchoTech states that the membranes must not dry out and if they are to be stored for more than 1 week without being used, they must be preserved. I assume that Hallberg-Rassy writes as they do, given that winter storage in Sweden can involve a risk of freezing, and then the water needs to be drained.

Checking out the boat yard

We wanted to visit the yard to see where the haul-out would be made and to meet those we have e-mailed. We also wanted to go and look at the room we rented. Said and done, bring a face mask, a 10-minute dinghy ride into the shipyard where, as usual, there is a jetty for dinghies. It is full of dinghies, but there is always room because most people moor with a long rope in the bow. Then it is almost always possible to move the dinghies a bit so you get all the way to the bridge. We find the office is located in a container next to the large crane that can lift 240 tons, so our 22 tons should not be a problem. They speak good English and are super nice to us and we are welcome to the haul-out just before 10 o’clock.

We also go up to the house where we will live after the boat has been taken ashore. We do not want to stay on board when the boat is ashore, the toilets do not work, we do not want to use the water fresh because it is best to keep tanks fully filled when we leave the boat. In addition, it gets even hotter inside the boat when the sea no longer cools.

Storm squall

While anchoring in Woburn Bay, we experienced the strongest winds since we started our long-distance sailing over a year ago. It blew over 50 knots in a very intense squall. Before the squall came over us we had about 15 knots, with gusts around 20 knots. A little calmer than the last few days. A large dark cloud formation indicated that a squall was on its way to the anchorage. First, there will be a small increase in the wind to 25 knots and a few hundred meters in front of us we see how a wall of rain comes against us. It usually also means wind. The closer the rain wall gets, the more we see it blowing in front of it, the waves are compressed and the foam blows away in front of them. Then it is like an explosion, the wind increases from 25 to over 50 knots in a maximum of 5 seconds. The dinghy that we have hoisted up on the side of the boat is about to overturn over the guard rail, it becomes a real inferno. The only thing holding the dinghy down is the rope that holds it forward along the boat. The visibility goes down to below 50 m and the waves increase rapidly in size and become half a meter high after a few minutes with winds around 45 knots. The wind makes the boat tilt 15-20 degrees when it sails on the hull back and forth behind the anchor. We received reports from other sailors near us and they experienced winds of up to 80 knots in this squall.

I have only encountered such strong winds a few times onboard a sailboat. The first time was during a sailing between Visby and Västervik in the early ’80s. I was sailing an S-30 and got a squall with over 60 knots of wind and thunder. We dipped the mast in the water since we weren’t fast enough to release the main sheet. The second time it happened was in the 90’s when I sailed our first own boat a Maxi 77 in over 60 knots of wind in the archipelago north of Västervik. The boat was planing at a speed of over 15 knots on flat water (the log, a sum log, ended at 15 knots and the hand was stuck at max for several minutes). It was really an incredible feeling, the rudder vibrated and when I look back it was surging waves like from a racing boat. The only thing I thought was that; hope the backstay hold and that the wind ends before the fairway turns so that I have to gybe, I sailed with sails wing on wing, full main, and genoa 2.

On these three occasions, storm force winds have blown when I have been onboard a sailboat. There is an incredible difference between a fresh breeze (around 25 knots) and a storm (50 knots) and this is because the force from the wind increases with the square of the wind speed. This means that a doubling of the wind speed causes 4 times as much force from the wind.

Calm evenings

As usual, the Caribbean offers nice and beautiful evenings that really invite you to sit down for a while and just enjoy the last sun rays of the day. It gets dark so fast compared to at home in Sweden, where during the summer it hardly gets dark and the sun goes down very slowly compared to here. A few minutes, the sun has disappeared behind the horizon, or behind a cloud bank. Then it takes a quarter of an hour and it has become almost pitch black outside.

Up next

In the next blog, the boat will be lifted ashore and we are working to make it ready for storage during the hurricane season. See you in a week!

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