|Windward Islands - Dec 2002 - Feb 2003
We knew this was going to be a short season, as we had to get back to France to complete the purchase of our new home, Berty.
In Martinique, Graham took the bus from Sainte Anne to Marin to clear in, then we rested for a day. The day after that we moved from Sainte Anne round to Marin so that we could provision at the supermarket. On 20th December we headed to St Lucia, having a lovely sail, seeing whales along the way. We anchored in Marigot Bay, in sight of the Marigot Beach Club, which is where we had our honeymoon in 1996. Next morning we continued, passing the Pitons where we saw a turtle; it was a lovely morning with enough wind to make a cracking pace, and by mid afternoon we had reached Wallilabou Anchorage in the south of St Vincent, where we picked up a mooring. It's a lovely spot, where they were preparing to shoot the first Pirates of the Caribbean film. Next morning we got an early start for our passage to Bequia; which can be notoriously choppy. Our log shows we were close hauled under 25 knots of wind, with a 35 degree heel.....
Our chums, Pete & Von on Island Moon, had been keeping track of our progress all the way from Virginia, and were waiting for us to join them for Christmas festivities, together with Overstreet and Loon. As we arrived in the anchorage we were greeted by hooters and whistles and immediately boarded by a fearsome gang of pirates who proceeded to drink all our beer. What a lovely welcome!
This photo, of Oasis all dressed up for Christmas, was used for the cover of the December 2003 edition of
Inside was our version of The Twelve Days of Christmas
We stayed in Bequia, enjoying the lovely island and good company until after New Year, leaving on 2nd January.
Shortly after we rounded West Cay, we got a call from Carol with an urgent message for me to call home. I knew that this meant that my father was now really poorly, but we decided that it was best to continue to Grenada, where I could get a flight back to England, rather than turning round to make a phone call. We asked Carol to let them know that we were on our way and would call from our next landfall in Union Island. We got there in the early afternoon and I was able to talk to my sister, who told me that our father was fading fast. I checked with our travel agent to see if there was any way that I could get a flight back to the UK, but being peak holiday season, there were no seats available, from anywhere.
We later found out just how many people had been involved in trying to get in touch with us. Our cSAT had stopped sending and receiving messages (it turned out because our credit card info was invalid); so our friend and UK contact, Arnold had been unable to get a message through to us that way. He knew that we were in Bequia over Christmas and New Year, so had the bright idea to get in touch with the Bequia Tourist Office, who were immensely helpful. They sent one of the water taxis out to get the message to us, but he found that we had already left. Another boat pointed out that we were friends with Overstreet, and thank goodness, being a Hallbery Rassy 53 with a tall mast and a powerful VHF, they were able to contact us before we got out of range. Taking the belt and braces approach, Arnold got in touch with his neighbour who also had a friend cruising in the Caribbean. They sent him an email, and he contacted David Jones of the Caribbean Weather Net. So the next morning we heard another urgent message for us to call home.
We made progress as fast as we could, stopping at Hillsborough, Carriacou to clear in to Grenada, and then anchoring overnight in Tyrell Bay. The winds did their best to assist us, and at one point we were surfing at 8 knots as we made our way down the western coast of Grenada.
We got to Prickly Bay around midday and quickly went ashore to call my family. My father had just passed away.
We were able to get flights back in time for Pa's funeral on 20th January, so we had a busy time getting the boat prepared for a long period of storage on the hard at Grenada Marine in St David's.
Pa had been excited by our voyages. We sent him a fax message from our cSAT every Sunday, and he kept a chart in his office, which he would mark up with our various destinations. Although in his late eighties, he had learned how to use a computer, and used to visit the public library so that he could keep up with our adventures through this website.
May the road rise to meet you;
John Horace Rooke Downes 29 June 1914 - 05 January 2003
Look to this day .... for it is the very life of life:
A Sanskrit text
All photographs copyright Graham Berry, 2000-2005. Images on
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