We had a busy summer in France, and I managed to spend quite a lot of time with my mother, who said she was feeling 300 years old, although a mere 92. She didn't much like living alone and was ready to go, so it wasn't so much of a surprise when she quite suddenly took a turn for the worse and after a short time in hospital, where she suffered wretchedly while they tried to determine the cause of her problems, she passed away with my sister Lesley and I holding her hands.
I volunteered to handle probate, so our return to Oasis was rather later than we would have liked. By this time, we suspected that this would be our last season on board. For several reasons we had put her up for sale, and had been contacted by an enthusiastic prospective purchaser who had arranged for a survey to be carried out in Trinidad.
How lucky we were that we hadn't left Oasis in Grenada again! Hurricane Ivan had struck that lovely island terribly hard. Several of our friends had their boats damaged, and at least two that we knew well, Island Moon and Night Owl, were complete write-offs.
So arriving back in Coral Cove on 6th December, we had a really busy time doing not just the usual work of preparing for relaunch, but also the extra sprucing up that we wanted to do before the survey. Overstreet and Loon were both hauled out at Peake's, where they were getting the damage caused by Ivan repaired. It seemed that there were a lot of people not going to be afloat that season. Fortunately Union Jock had miraculously escaped damage, despite devastation all around in Spice Island Marine, and was already on her way north.
Our journey north from Trinidad to Antigua,
with trips to St Kitts & Nevis and Barbuda
The out of water survey was done, then we had a few more days to get ready for launch before a sea trial. We were keen to get north and spend Christmas in one of our favourite haunts, Bequia.
Once again, Graham had a job to go to in February, and on the strength of the survey, our prospective purchasers agreed to come to Antigua in March to view the boat; so we needed to get north and get settled in Antigua by late January. The weather looked favourable on 20th December, so we planned to head out around mid-day. Ah, but there was no fuel at Power Boats! We had to wait for the dock to open again later in the afternoon. It was nearly dark by the time we were in the Boca.
Left: Oasis at Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
Because of the difficult situation in Grenada, we thought it best not to tax their facilities, and so cracked along, motor sailing through the moonlit night, straight to Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou, arriving late afternoon and anchoring close to Kiwa. A short stop there to sleep, and on the next day to Bequia, making steady progress, though rather wet over the bows, arriving in Port Elizabeth in good time for some Xmas shopping. We had a lovely Full Moon Christmas.
We had a few good days of rest and relaxation in Bequia, where we met up with Lucky Dragon again. Did the laundry at Handy Andy's (20 EC a load wash/dry self service). Internet 5 EC for 20 minutes. Most produce in the market seems to sell for 10 EC (1lb tomatoes or 2 avocados). Lila's bakery does good baguettes and frozen salmon.
Right: Christmas time in Port Elizabeth, Bequia
On 27th December it was time to move on. We had a pretty smooth crossing of the Bequia channel this time, and headed for Wallilabou anchorage in St Vincent (location for The Pirates of the Caribbean movie), where we picked up a mooring. Things had changed since our last visit! We were met by a swarm of boat boys. Boats seemed to be packed very close in the moorings and needed assistance to leave. The dinghy dock here is vicious to hulls, but there is someone there to keep a watch. We had an average meal in the restaurant, which included a refund of the mooring fee; but there was no fish on the menu. In general the boat boys were too numerous and over attentive for our liking, and the anchorage became rolly after dark. We had to pay overtime to clear out here.
Left: A stunning Caribbean sunset
Next morning we left early, with help from Ashley and headed north motor-sailing past St Lucia. Seas a bit rough so headed inshore for calmer waters and followed the coastline up as far as Marigot Bay, and then off to the North. With the winds from the NE it wasn't practical to head for Ste Anne in Martinique. We managed a few hours sailing, but with variable conditions and a desire to make the passage as quick as possible, we used the engine a lot. By midnight we were off the northern tip of Martinique. When I handed over to Graham I told him to watch out for the strobe lights to the north; I couldn't pinpoint them, thought they were probably fishermen. G tried to avoid them for several hours, before discovering that they were actually on Dominica! Not on our charts!
The Pitons, St Lucia
We arrived in the Saintes on the afternoon of 29th December. There was some reconstruction of the docks going on, which meant that the anchorage was more crowded than usual. One boat came so close to us that they invited us aboard for dinner! We made good friends with them - Doug and Linda on Ariel, and spent a very enjoyable New Year's Eve, watching the magnificent town firework display from their ringside seats.
Maybe it was because we were rather nervous about any sources of potential damage that we felt overcrowded; and although we had never had any previous trouble with our wonderful Beugel anchor, there is a lot of garbage on the harbour bottom. I went up into the cockpit after dinner one night, only to realise that we were dragging! We called Ariel who let out loads more chain. When we pulled up the anchor, we found it had hooked a piece of concrete and reinforcing bar....
We stayed in the Saintes until 4th January, enjoying the pleasant mix of Caribbean and French cultures, then we headed to Guadeloupe, where we anchored in Deshaies. A turtle came to welcome us.
Finding customs proved rather difficult - in fact, their outpost in Deshaies was closed. Another sailor, who had a car ashore, offered to take Graham to the main town to clear in and out.
When we went to leave, we caught a metal bar on the anchor. This is starting to become a habit....
The trip to customs caused us to be much later leaving than we would have liked, and it was dark by the time we arrived off Antigua. With our forward looking sonar, and our electronic charts, we crept through the channel into Fisherman's Bay and dropped the hook at the back of the pack.
Beautiful blue waters of the Saintes
Views of Oasis in Coral Cove Marina
All photographs copyright Graham Berry, 2000-2005. Images on
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