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We’re finally starting to catch up after my month back in the UK.
If I’m honest, my urge to write has been low recently. A strange kind of peace has come over me.
I think I… might be relaxing? I think that’s what this feeling is?
I’m very guilty of putting a lot of pressure on myself to “do” and to “create”. I don’t ‘rest’ easily.
This blog doesn’t much capture that, but we’ll catch up eventually.
The time between
In the time between the last blog and this one, I continued my trip home. I was reunited with Colin and Mirounga after a long journey and two days in quarantine 0n 8 September.
When I rejoined them in Prickly Bay, it was very quiet. An overnight curfew was in place, from 7pm to 5am, and a full weekend curfew between 5pm on Friday to 5am on Monday.
With the case numbers rising, inter-island travel banned, and the likelihood of extended curfews, we decided to leave Grenada. We also had some excitement – our friend Laurie was planning to join us for a few weeks. Life was all go while we prepped the boat to head back to St Vincent with Laurie onboard.
Sunday 12 September
It’s a curfew day. Officially, people are to stay at home and go no further than their own garden. For us, that means staying onboard, and close to the boat when we swim. We don’t mind, as we’re so busy. We spend the morning cleaning Mirounga in preparation for Laurie’s arrival. The spare cabins and second bathroom get their first proper clean since we came onboard, and I’m head down in lockers sussing out our spare bedding.
The hope is that Laurie, who works for Dream Yacht Charters in Guadeloupe, can hitch a lift on a charter yacht. She would be flying to Martinique, then sailing to Grenada from there before having to quarantine. The timeline is tight because we’ve been advised not to travel on weekends – we want to be leaving Grenada no later than Friday. This would mean Laurie’s needing to fly to Martinique tonight, and the charter delivery leaving tomorrow. It’s all very tentative, but we’re hopeful.
The other excitement of the day is the chat I’m having online with a nearby boat about possibly buying their kayak. We had planned to get one in Martinique but we’re not sure we’ll be visiting there given lockdowns, and we’d like to have one sooner.
Hard work done, I release Lulu, our Lilo, into the sea with a tether to the transom, and float around happily reading. It’s what Sunday afternoons should be… After all our hard work, a dinner of mince and tatties is very satisfying, especially for Colin who pairs it with a can of the Punk IPA I brought back from Scotland.
Monday 13 September
It’s a work morning, and as is our habit here we listen to the morning net at 7:30 as we eat breakfast. It’s often a long broadcast, with so many contributors even during a lockdown.
Mid-morning Colin heads round to Budget Marine to buy some Sugar Free-Coke from Fast Manacou. He announced on the morning net that he had stock and Colin never misses an opportunity as it’s so hard to buy here.
Unfortunately, Laurie can’t make it. The charter boat isn’t leaving soon enough, and she doesn’t want to waste any of her well-earned holiday, so she’s decided to go home to France for a visit instead. We’re sad, but we know we’ll still see her soon enough. It was also great having a push to clean up the boat.
Without Laurie coming, we’re free to plan our departure from Grenada. We had originally hoped to do this with some time in Carriacou (a smaller island that forms part of Grenada), but the authorities don’t want people travelling between islands. We’re not even allowed to make an overnight stop where we don’t leave the boat, which means we’ll have to sail all the way to St Vincent and the Grenadines in one day.
We decide to head to St Georges on Wednesday to clear out and do some final shopping and leave Grenada on Thursday. Ideally, we’d have planned the 6-7 hour sail for a weekend, but it’s not possible with the curfew. We make plans to finish work early so we can arrive while there’s plenty of daylight. We’ll need to have an RT-PCR test, so we book that for Tuesday.
We don’t know how long we’ll have to quarantine once we make it to Union Island in St Vincent and the Grenadines. It very much depends on how quickly we get our PCR results. We have friend’s waiting in Bequia and a 70th birthday party for our friend Ray on Sunday so we’re really hopeful it’s a short quarantine.
A Queen and an Ace
After work, we set out to visit Ace Hardware. On the way get a takeaway lunch from Queen’s Grill, as dining in isn’t currently allowed. While we wait for our food to be cooked, Colin tries to befriend a cat, but like most here it’s not interested. We eat our lunch, which was worth the wait, outdoors in the shade, then walk on to Ace. I’m amazed, as it’s the best hardware/homeware store I’ve seen in the Caribbean. We buy a huge drill bit, water jugs, pillows, a cushion inner, curtains (actually shower curtains), and food nets. We also debate buying a mini air fryer and selling our big one but we decide its overpriced.
Back onboard, we gather laundry and take it over knowing it’s our last chance for a week or so. Frustratingly the laundrette will be closed tomorrow, meaning we couldn’t collect it before leaving. so we have to abandon that plan. We may well be back to hand washing undies if we end up with a long quarantine…
A new toy
We’ve decided to buy the kayak, so excitedly we dinghy over late afternoon to collect it. Luckily the seller is only a few boats away. It’s a solid double sea kayak that can take a small passenger as well. Colin paddles it back over and we hoist it up on the deck to secure. We’ll need to get some rail mounts for it – the seller hadn’t wanted to part with his for much less than a new set would cost.
After having a large lunch we’re not hungry for dinner, so we just snack on crisps as we watch a very pretty sunset.
Tuesday 14 September
As usual, the first part of the day involves work and the morning net. On my morning break, I dinghy over to Budget Marine’s car park to collect a bakery order from Merry Bakery which I placed by WhatsApp yesterday.
We finish work early to walk the 20 minutes to the Fit for Life clinic to get PCR tests done. The only painful aspect is the cost – it’s very expensive in Grenada. We stop into Ace and another hardware store on the way home as its our last chance. I find a couple of small rugs to dress up the interior, and after looking for weeks I finally find a set of plastic mixing bowls. We had planned to get ice cream from a place that does lemongrass ice cream, but it’s closed.
Once we’re back onboard we eat chicken buns from the bakery order for lunch. The rest of the afternoon is spent preparing the boat for moving tomorrow, which takes longer than usual as we’ve been static for 6 weeks. Colin still finds time to rewire the saloon lamp to 12v before we enjoy our last evening at Prickly Bay.
Wednesday 15 September
While we work we breakfast on frankly enormous croissants from the baker. Colin has one last rendezvous with Fast Manacou for more Sugar-Free Coke.
We’re surprised we haven’t had our PCR results, which we’d expect to be emailed, so Colin calls the clinic to follow up. It turns out we should have collected them in person 1-2 hours after having them done – it would have been really helpful if they’d told us that! I have no choice but to march to the clinic and back in the late-morning sun to collect our negative results. I feel safe enough walking on my own, but I do get more attention than I’d like. One choice complement is that “I’m fat in all de right places”…
When I get back, Colin has finished the final sailing prep. After work, we motorsail around to St Georges. When we arrive at the anchorage just south of town we take a mooring ball that we’ve prepaid for online. I get the mooring lines tangled, accidentally running one to the opposite hull instead of back to the correct one. Despite the kerfuffle, we still make it onto the ball on the first go. During the sail, we’ve discovered that the rubber on one electric winch switch has torn so we need to somehow replace that.
We very quickly grab everything we need to go out. Colin drops me off in the Careenage and I go to see if any shops are open in St Georges for a couple of things we need (clothes hangers and a lampshade). Colin heads off to the lagoon to clear us out at Port Louis Marina.
Of course, I hadn’t realised that the shops would all be shut because of the curfew – only ‘essential’ businesses can open. The only store open is a small branch of Ace, which I check for a drill adaptor we need with no luck. Basically, the huge drill bit we bought the other day is too big for our drill, so we still need to figure that out.
I walk around the carnage to the lagoon to meet Colin at Island Waterworld. I’m offered a fair few smiles and all the fresh fish I could eat from local men on the way but politely decline. In Island Waterworld, we buy the eye-wateringly expensive kayak mount and a battery charger we need, but can’t work out the correct switch for the winch. Colin gets chatting to the manager and mentions our drill dilemma. Graciously, we’re offered the loan of a drill. We’re very grateful, but that leaves us really racing.
Against the clock
We’re really worried about time. Because of the 7pm curfew, the supermarket we need to visit is closing at 5pm instead of 6pm. It’s past 3.30pm when we leave Island Waterworld.
We charge back to Mirounga with our bulky purchases and the drill. Within minutes I’m winching Colin up the mast so he can use the drill, whilst simultaneously removing the broken winch switch. We race back to return the drill and buy a new winch switch. Then we quickly motor across the lagoon to Foodland, arriving at 4.20pm, for some final provisioning. We mostly want to get what we can’t find in St Vincent, including a very nice IPA called Hurricane Reef. Of course, the queue to pay means we’re standing for a good 20+ minutes after all the rush.
By the time we’re back onboard at half five we’re exhausted, and I’m sunburnt from the morning walk. Colin fits the new winch button so we’re ready for the long sail tomorrow, but otherwise, we try to wind down and have a very early night.
Thursday 16 September
We both work some of the morning and eat giant croissants again. Colin takes one last quick trip to Island Waterworld. After replacing one winch button we want to do the other side as it’s so much better, and we take the chance to get new canisters for our life vests and an LED bulb for the galley light.
Because of the wind, which is SE in the morning but moving towards NE later in the day, we decide to set off a little earlier than planned. We also have some hope that if we arrived early enough we could be PCR tested today.
I manage to keep working for a while underway as it’s cloudy and fine to use the laptop outside. Colin even manages to dial in to a work call. There’s not a great amount of wind, but we can at least put the sails up to supplement the engines. The journey takes around 6.5 gentle hours, the longest passage so far we’ve done on our own. We sustain ourselves with ham and cheese buns from the bakery on the way, and otherwise just relax.
We arrive at Clifton on Union Island at around half 3. As directed in our pre-arrival paperwork/correspondence, we tie on to a quarantine mooring. Frustratingly I cross the lines AGAIN – I need to work out why it keeps happening and find a solution. It’s a scruffy mooring ball and the filthy lines from it foul up the deck, and me. We’re ready to run ashore for tests etc, knowing the nurse is around until 4pm. We call to say we’ve arrived but it turns out that the nurse is too busy to see us. The tests won’t go on the ferry until tomorrow anyway, so it’s no great frustration. We spend the rest of the day relaxing, and I make parmesan risotto from a box for dinner.
Friday 17 September
We’re ashore by 6am for our PCR test, and to hand over our papers. The nurse will pass these to the customs agent who will complete them once the results of our tests are back. We work all morning, and then some to make up time missed earlier in the week.
I’m very tired and feeling very introverted, so I spend the afternoon reading a book under the fan. The water is much choppier here than we’re used to, so I think it’s making me lethargic. That, or the very hectic week! Colin potters, and fixes some things here and there including fitting the second new winch button. We eat fish wraps for dinner and don’t stay up late.
Saturday 18 September
We really have no idea if we’ll be released from quarantine or not today with it being the weekend. All we can really do is sit and wait, but not get too comfy in case we can move. I spend a lot of time catching up on blog writing, and Colin has some fun testing the life vests with one of the old gas canisters.
We get word at noon that we’re cleared and can collect our papers. This is great news as it means we can make it to Bequia tomorrow! We head ashore to the office of Wind and Sea charters who cover customs services. Payment must be in cash, which we don’t have, so we walk along the main street. We find lunch, pilau rice with chicken, at The Local, which is playing ear-splitting music. Then we visit the ATM before going back to Wind and Sea. Our arrival PCR tests, mooring, agents fee and cruising permit cost us USD286 in total – changing country in Covid times is not cheap!
Safe at Salt Whistle
We head back to Mirounga, and by half 1 we’re on the move again. This time it’s just a short motor to Salt Whistle Bay on Mayreau, a bay we know well. The anchor doesn’t hold on the first two attempts as there’s a lot of seagrass, so we try a different spot. We get it set securely in a nice place on the fourth attempt. Of course, a Tobago Cays Marine Park attendant is soon over to say we’re too close to a mooring. He consents that we can stay there but pay half price for the mooring. Given the sheer abundance of mooring balls compared to boats, it’s absurd.
We decide to move again. Fifth time lucky. We get a really good bite in clear sand, but we’ve only got 4ft of water below the keel. We’re aware we could swing very close to the beach. Still, it’s beautiful. I go back to writing, and Colin makes us burnt pizza for dinner.
The next day, we woke up to utter beauty. Salt Whistle Bay is glorious in the morning. We had an absurdly chilled motor sail back to Bequia and were anchored by Princess Margaret Beach next to our friends on SV Turtle by 2pm. That night, we caught up with everyone at Ray’s beach party and passed around a bottle of 70% Sunset Rum in the dark to toast the birthday boy.
Life back in Bequia has been bliss.
It’s like being home. We’ve made the rounds of favourite eateries, including being treated to an impromptu romantic meal by Daffodil at Open Deck. We enjoyed cocktails at Bequia Underground and Jacks, and said hi to Drasi and Kevin at Mac’s on Pizza Special Saturday. We’ve listened to Elfic play at Sailors Cafe, and caught up with Angelique at Maria’s. We were able to do laundry – no handwashing for us. We’ve had a predictable number of visits to Venture and Dockside Marine.
In the week and a half we were back we spent so much time with Turtle’s Marie, Steve and their kids Violet and Joe. And we’ve done new things – Marie and I took a long walk along the beach, and we’ve had a couple of family hairdressing afternoons on the beach. We had a lovely cool rainy weekend. And we’ve really loved having our kayak, with almost daily sunset paddles. We’ve also been helping family members book trips to come to stay on Mirounga with us over winter, which is exciting.
I’ve relaxed more and more. I’m using social media less and reading more. And we’re better together. We’re less snippy, and happier in each others’ company. Colin has now finished work until next spring, and I’m looking forward to doing the same at the end of this month.
We’re taking a few days away at Sandy Lane Yacht Club and Tobago Cays but I’m already looking forward to being back in Bequia for our last couple of weeks there before we start the journey north for the high season.