Mina2 Teleported Onto a Different Planet

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.


Tim Barker is a sailor and occasional adventurer. Since 2004, Mina2, his Oyster 485 yacht, and he (with the Downstairs Skipper and a wonderful bunch of friends) have sailed from the Arctic to the Antarctic and many places in between. Come join their adventures and read Tim's award winning blogs and journals from the comfort of your own computer screen.

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