Saturday, 29 November 2014

Marina Heaven

We have now spent four nights at the Port Louis Marina here in Grenada and I have to say, we are liking it, a lot!   A marina is like a trailor park for boats, this one is upscale. Here, as I see it, are the pros and cons.

St.Georges carenage

1    1  You hook your boat up to shore power, which means you can have air conditioning ( not a normal occurance on Zooropa).
2    2  The marina has (somewhat) reliable wi-fi.  We have been feeling internet deprived.
3     3  You can step directly off the back of your boat onto land. No having to get on to a wildly bouncing, possibly wet dingy for a ride into shore where you then have to either climb out onto a rickety dock or attempt a beach landing, often in the dark.
    4  Unlimited and long showers. The water can be left running while you lather up and wash hair and body, a real treat. If I feel like it I can even blow dry my hair afterwards too.
5    5 The boat is more or less completely stationary. No wild rocking when a power boat or jet ski goes by and no rolly nights when the wind and the swell are coming from different directions.
      6  There is a nice pool by which to while away an afternoon.
7    7   A nice salon and spa at which I had a good haircut.
8    8   Dinner out every night at their reasonably priced restaurant.

        The only one I can think of
      1) We had to Med. Moor ( meaning stern to) against the dock. It was our first time. There was a dock, mooring balls, another boat and the cross wind to contend with, a bit “hairy”.  

 We intend to pry ourselves off the dock tomorrow and head back out. All good things must come to an end at some time.  

Zooropa med moored at dock
Looking down on St. Georges

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Good, the Bad and the Horrible

We are now happily anchored in Grenada after completing an approx. 3,255 nautical mile  passage from south of Rio.  To put that distance in perspective, it is 3,000 nautical miles from New York to London, England.  Oh, and that doesn’t include the 1,100 nautical miles we had already done from Buenos Aires to Angra ( south of Rio). It was not all fun and games, more about that in a moment.

Arriving Buzios
Ian, Bridget and I

After leaving Angra we had a very slow 36 hour trip to our next stop in Buzios. We had wind , waves and current into us the whole trip and so motored , it was excruciatingly slow and very hard on morale to see a boat speed  of 6.5 knots but speed over ground (SOG) of 3.5 knts. We were practically moving backwards!    Buzios was a great little town, made famous by Bridget Bardot in the ‘60s, she loved to visit apparently. It is now a busy little tourist town full of shops and  restaurants and has a very nice beachfront.  We spent a happy three days there, refueled with diesel and food, restocked the freezer and cleaned the boat.

Sculptures, Buzios 
 Three nights out of Buzios is when the S--- hit the fan, so to speak.  When cruising up the Brazilian coast you have the pleasure of sharing the waters (mostly at night of course) with Brazilian fisherman. Their boats  mostly do NOT show up on radar ( although they are well lit) , they trail LONG ( several kilometre) nets and when hailed on VHF radio they may answer but only in Portuguese.  If I never see another faffing fishing boat on my night passages again I will die a happy girl!   At the end of the afore mentioned net is a flashing strobe light, not easily seen .  One now needs to decide which f---ing fishing boat this light belongs to (remember it could be a long way off and distances are very deceptive at night).  Anyway, on this night Ian and I got it all wrong and ended up running over the net. Yes, our engines were running at the time which means that the net got wrapped around the props, resulting in a clunking sound. We immediately put the engines in neutral and were now dead in the water but attached to a very long net. The offending fishing boat was along side us by this time with lights on and yelling at us in Portuguese. There was nothing else for it, Ian, my hero, put on snorkel and mask, took flashlight and knife, and went overboard to cut the line. It was dark, the sea was rough and the boat was bucking all over the place, my stomach still gets knots when I think about it, not a happy time to say the least.   Ian eventually got the line cut free and we were on our way but since the line was still wrapped around the starboard side prop we now only had one functioning engine. We had two more days/ nights , mostly motor sailing into the wind, dreading seeing more fishing boats ( which we did) before arriving in Salvador. Here we initially anchored in the calm harbor and Ian went over again and was able to remove the remaining line from the prop. Now with both engines again functional we moved into a marina and docked. 

Approaching Salvador

Old city, Salvador

Salvador is another large ( 2.5 million people) Brazilian city, there are many. Its redeeming point is the Old Town. You can take an elevator ride, the Elevador Lacerda, from the harbor area to the top of the hill where the old town is located. Again, lots of touristy shops surrounded by lovely old buildings built in the 17th and 18th century along cobblestone streets on some quite steep hills. Salvador is the capital of Afro-Brazilian culture and this was very obvious when browsing the stores  full of African themed merchandise.

 We had several much needed days of rest and boat related work here before again heading out .  A three day/ night passage  with lots of  sailing this time, it’s so peaceful with the engines off. We did see more fishing boats at night but no more high seas drama! Our last stop in Brazil was the small town of Cabedelo. Nothing much to report about the town but we did a good grocery shop, laundry got done and we filled up with diesel again.

 After officially checking out of Brazil ( no small feat, three different stops required)  we started what was to be a  twelve night passage to Tobago. Our longest passage to date by far. I would describe it as crappy. Ian describes it as horrible!  The weather was not the problem. We actually didn’t have enough wind most of the time, although we did have a few days when the seas were quite “ bumpy”. It was the monotony of each day. Do your two hour watch, sleep, prepare food and eat. I actually found I lost my appetite and I generally love to eat. It took a real effort on my part to occasionally cook up eggs for breakfast and to heat up a meal in the evening. Doing anything other than the most basic of housekeeping was out of the question. When not on watch I basically spent my time lying in bed, which explains my lost muscle tone. Oh, it was hot too!  Anyway, twelve days of this was way too long for us. The last two nights we had multiple rain squalls with winds in the 30 knt range and then finally , on a very grey cloudy Monday we arrived in Tobago, yahoo!

 The boat (Antares 44i) handled beautifully for the whole trip. We had very few malfunctions and those were for the most part easily fixed. When seated in the cockpit you are high above the water so that the waves do not seem threatening at all, they just roll under you. The full enclosure cockpit keeps you warm and dry. If not for the wind speed dials you’d never know it was blowing 30+ knots out there. I must say, I felt very safe on Zooropa. 

 Our advice to new Antares owners who are considering doing the trip from Argentina to the Carribean. Don’t.  If you really have a yen for passage making  then hire Pikin and do the Buenos Aires to Angra stretch. Take a few weeks to cruise Isle Grande, it really is a beautiful area. Then hire a delivery captain and crew and have them deliver your boat  to, wherever, while you fly home and await its arrival.  You then fly down and meet your boat and happily continue with  your  new cruising life.

  Throughout our time in Brazil the Brazilian people were a pleasure to interact with. Everybody was friendly, happy and very helpful. I know we made a mash of their language ( actually using a lot of Spanish) but they appreciated our efforts and in turn tried their best with English.   The scenery was stunning, especially at Isle Grande and Rio. 

 Writing this now two weeks after our arrival in Tobago we are feeling much more positive about our future cruising plans.  The boat is no longer up for sale!!!