Position: 12:00.039N 061:45.627W Prickly Bay, Grenada
Mr Cato came up trumps. On the day he had said he would, he turned up with the repaired fuel injection pump for the main engine. The fact that the engineering company in Trinidad had charged more for the repair than the cost of a new pump in the UK was only a minor irritation – I was just glad to have the ability to run the engine again. Whilst he was on the boat, Mr Cato also repaired the outboard engine which had been giving us problems.
As Mina2 was imprisoned in Scarborough Harbour by her lack of engine the DS, John, Linda and I hired a car for the week and got to know the delightful Caribbean island of Tobago. At just 22 miles long and 6 miles wide, a week was more than enough. Our first mistake was to drive over to Store Bay on the other side of the island, the main anchorage in Tobago, to see a few yachts swinging to their anchor in clear water off a beautiful sandy, palm-fringed beach. This was what we were missing, but there was nothing we could do but drown our sorrows with a couple of rum punches in the beach bar. Driving around the island’s coast road we saw several other great anchorages and I hope that we might revisit Tobago next year when I return and explore some of these delightful spots.
But our island exploration also took us deep into the rainforests to a large waterfall with a cool pool at the bottom in which we had a refreshing swim (and much needed, given the dire shortage of fresh water in Mina2’s tanks). The DS, Linda and John went on a guided jungle excursion (I was with Cato as he reinstalled the injection pump, so missed out), and we had several memorable meals of the local creole food washed down with exotic Caribbean cocktails and punches. Not least at the King’s Bay Café on the east coast with fabulous views and exquisite local food cooked by a New Yorker who came to visit and stayed. We also experimented with the local street food called rostis which seem to consist of handful of curried flavoured chicken necks wrapped up in a very doughy chapatti type bread. An acquired taste.
The other use we put the hire car to was to refill the diesel tanks with 500 litres of diesel which required four trips to the filling station with six large jerry cans and then ferrying them to the boat by dinghy to decant into the tank. This chore was made very much less painful by the fact that this must have been the cheapest fill up ever. Trinidad and Tobago are lucky enough to have their own oil fields and they sell diesel at the staggeringly low price of 15p per litre. Yes, that’s one-five-pence a litre. No pound sign on the front. My last fill up cost £625. This one cost just £75!
Because this abundance of oil, Trinidad and Tobago is one of the richest countries in the Caribbean. So there is very little poverty (certainly compared to the desperately poor Guyanese countries that we had passed through) as everyone who can’t get a job seems to be employed by the government. So the roads are excellent, the streets are clean, and the people are well fed and happy. We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Tobago, notwithstanding the mechanical frustrations. The people were all very friendly and we look forward to a return visit there next year before we start our cruise of the rest of the Caribbean islands.
With the engine back up and running we were now able to leave Tobago and head for our final destination – Prickly Bay in Grenada – 85nm to the northwest. We set off very early in the morning and arrived mid afternoon. Mina2 has spent the last 2 ½ years visiting some of the most unspoilt and rarely visited cruising grounds in the world. To find that there is another yacht in the entire country, let alone in a single anchorage, and the place seems rather overcrowded. So imagine my amazement as we entered Prickly Bay. There were more than a hundred yachts anchored in the large bay. I hadn’t seen this number of masts in total in the last 2 ½ years, let alone in one place at one time. There is a pontoon where you can come alongside and fill up with fuel and water, and buy a large bag of ice whilst you’re there. A fabulous luxury. The moment you step ashore, you are surrounded by sophisticated bars and restaurants and the best equipped chandlery I’ve ever been to (I had to be dragged out kicking and screaming as it was felt, apparently, that more than an hour drooling over shackles, pumps and split pins was probably long enough). It had the feel of Salcombe-in-the-Sun with families holidaying with small children, zipping back and forth in their dinghies. It was like Mina2 had been teleported onto a different planet.
It has taken some getting used to. On the one hand this buzzing environment is exciting and luxurious. We are once again back in the Land of the Lotus Eaters . On the other hand I was filled with a great sadness. It suddenly dawned on me that the greatest adventure of my lifetime was now finally over. Whilst I’m sure great challenges lie ahead, battling in hurricane force winds and mountainous seas in the extreme environment of the Southern Ocean; the fantastic challenge and reward of cruising in Antarctica and Tierra Del Fuego, and visiting the incredibly remote and unspoilt islands of the northeast coast of Brazil, and the rivers of the Guyanas was now in the past. A memory. But a wonderful memory that I and all the people who have joined me on this great adventure will never forget. But for now, we have to re-acclimatise ourselves to the pampered world of the Lotus Eaters.
Linda and John left for home a few days ago after our fantastic five-week cruise of the Guyanas and, with a couple of weeks before my son Peter arrives with his girlfriend Maggie, the DS and I have been licking Mina2 into shape. Poor old Mina2; she’d been put through a lot over the last couple of years and she was a little battered and tatty. Fine for the superb expedition yacht that she has been, but this was a different world with different standards, and the DS and I have been working hard converting her back from expedition vessel to luxury cruising yacht. She is now cleaned and polished stem to stern, inside and out and she can now float proudly in the company of any luxury fleet.
I’m mindful that I am still well behind with accounts of our visits to Guyana and further extracts from Linda’s log will follow shortly. I will also start working on sending you some photos.