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The Sailboat Cruiser ~ Your Monthly Newsletter, Issue #56 for April 2020
April 14, 2020
The Sailboat Cruiser
The Sailboat Cruiser is the free monthly (OK, monthly-ish) newsletter of sailboat-cruising.com and sets out to bring you the news, views and general musings of, well, me - Dick McClary, a sailboat cruiser and creator/owner of sailboat-cruising.com.
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Newsletter #56 - April 2020
What's in This Issue:This month's newsletter doesn't follow its usual format with a number of articles about varied sailing-related subjects - none of that seems quite so important now for reasons that will be clear to all of you.
Much like that moment 20 years ago when we watched one plane and then another fly into the iconic Twin Towers in New York City, it feels like we're living in a disaster movie. Can it be really happening? Sadly it can and it is.
Wherever you are in the world and whatever your station in life, you will have already been affected by the coronavirus - be it through abject tragedy or mild inconvenience.
Cruising Around The VirusIt was in early March that the Coronavirus was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation. Mary and I - aboard our sailboat Alacazam - were at anchor in Saline Bay, Mayreau at the time. Mayreau is one of the delightful islands of St Vincent & the Grenadines in the Eastern Caribbean and is one of our favourite Caribbean anchorages. With Covid-19 cases already present in some of the islands to the north, it was clear that even this tropical paradise was unlikely to be spared the ravages of the highly contagious corona virus. Ignoring this worrying risk was not an option.
Alacazam's haulout was scheduled for 23rd April at Spice Island Boatyard in Grenada with our flight home to the UK booked for a week later, so we had around 6 weeks before we needed to start decommissioning Alacazam for her annual layup ashore. So, do we continue cruising the islands during this period or do we sail south to Grenada and bring forward our haulout and flight home?
With rumours of islands already closing their borders to cruising sailors, it was clear that we should get back to Grenada as soon as we could - and while we could. Grenada, is a tri-island state comprising Petite Martinique, Carriacou and the main island of Grenada. Decision made.
Union Island to CarriacouWe cleared out of St Vincent & the Grenadines at Clifton in Union Island and the following morning sailed south to Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou - importantly for us, a Port of Entry for Grenada and another of our favourite anchorages. Here we came across the first indication that the Customs & Immigration Officers were concerned for their own safety. They were wearing facemasks and the office door was locked. Entry papers were issued to us through a partly open window which we had to take away and complete. This was returned to them with our passports via the same route. In record time our entry papers and passports were stamped, signed and returned to us - to our great relief we had successfully cleared into Grenada! On return to Alacazam the Q-Flag was lowered and replaced with the Grenada courtesy ensign with a fair degree of alacrity.
Initially we were very happy to stay in Tyrell Bay for a while, especially when our pals John and Gill on Mehallah turned up a few days later, having sailed overnight from the French Island of Martinique. By now all Grenadian Ports of Entry other than Tyrrel Bay and Port Louis in Grenada have been closed, and more restrictive regulations are in place. Unlike us, John and Gill had to pass a medical check before they were allowed entry. Had either of them failed they would have been put in quarantine aboard their boat for 14 days. Now social distancing was put in place; we had to remain 6 feet apart when ashore.
In the third week of March all incoming yacht crews had to serve a 14 day quarantine period aboard before they could go ashore for their medical check and the entry formalities. We didn't envy anyone with a dog aboard. We feared that it wouldn't be long before inter-island sailing or any kind of boat movement would be prohibited. We would have to stay put exactly where we were for the next few months at least. This would put us into the hurricane season - a prospect that didn't appeal to us one little bit.
We decided to get ourselves south to Grenada while we still could - specifically Prickly Bay, at the northern end of which was our haulout yard, Spice Island Marine.
Aboard Alacazam, we discussed this decision with John and Gill. Their situation was different to ours. They had planned to get to Columbia, transit the Panama Canal and set off across the Pacific on their circumnavigation. They're proper sailors, unlike the seasonal variety that Mary and I have become. For the time being at least, they planned to remain in Carriacou and see what transpired. There was a sad, poignant moment when Gill says "This is beginning to feel like a last goodbye" whereupon four pairs of eyes immediately welled up.
Carriacou to GrenadaThe following morning we set off for Grenada, leaving the quaintly named underwater volcano 'Kick'em Jenny' well to port.
Sailing down the west side of Grenada, we felt very fortunate that we weren't among the large number of quarantined yachts anchored off St Georges awaiting clearance through Port Louis Marina.
Early afternoon saw us on a sheltered mooring close to the boatyard. When our outboard fuel was used up we would be in easy rowing distance to the facilities ashore - the boatyard, Budget Marine Chandlery, bars and restaurants and a nearby grocery.
Life Aboard in GrenadaSuch shoreside delights would have to wait until, like all new arrivals, we had completed a 14 day quarantine period aboard starting from the date we had first entered Grenada. We had 7 days to go. Fortunately we had enough food and water aboard to see us through. As it turned out, by the time our quarantine period was over all of those 'shoreside delights' had closed.
For many years Grenada has had a daily (except Sundays) Cruisers Net covering most of the popular anchorages. This starts at 0730 on VHF Channel 66 and proved to be an invaluable source of information, keeping us all appraised of the changing Covid-19 regulations and other cruiser related topics. At the end of the net most of us maintained a listening watch on Channel 68. Good communication throughout this period was vital.
The following day, 22nd March, Grenada's Ministry of Health and Tourism announced the airport would be closed to all commercial traffic from midnight that day for the foreseeable future. Oh well, bang goes our flight home. Furthermore, Grenada's first case of Covid-19 was announced. We spoke to our UK travel agent who assured us that by the 29th April, our flight date, all flights would be back to normal. "Don't worry", he said.
The 25th was an interesting day. The Grenadian Prime Minister, Keith Mitchell, declared a temporary State of Emergency effective for the next 21 days, the conditions of which could be changed by the government at any time. The initial effects of this were that no-one is allowed out between the hours of 1900 and 0500hrs - effectively a night-time curfew - and only necessary movement, specifically to purchase food or in the event of a medical emergency, in the daytime. The police have powers to fine (1,000EC) or arrest (12 months imprisonment) anyone not adhering to the rules. We were still in quarantine at this point so it made little difference to us, apart from the difficulty of re-stocking our rapidly depleting food reserves once our quarantine period had expired.
Our quarantine period ended on Sunday 29th March by which time Spice Island Marine had closed their dinghy dock and posted a security guard to discourage those who may otherwise have failed to notice. However, pre-ordered groceries were allowed to be delivered to the dock, from where we could collect them providing we didn't disembark from our dinghies. We were still confined to our boats, but we wouldn't starve...
Things changed again on 29th March when The Hon Nickolas Steele, Minister for Health, decreed that a mandatory 24/7 curfew will be imposed beginning from 7 pm on Monday, 30 March 2020, and ending at 7 pm on the 6th day of April 2020.
He went on to say that all regulations announced the previous week remain intact, except for the following:
So now we have a full 24/7 curfew for the coming week. The boatyard is abandoned except for a security guard on the gate and all the cruisers, including us of course, are confined to their boats for the duration. Most of us have taken full advantage of grocery deliveries to the dock and are well stocked for a week or more, which is just as well as this curfew was subsequently extended for a further two weeks until 20th April - just three days short of our haul-out reservation. So that's our situation right now.
But we're not alone - there are close to 100 yachts anchored or moored within the bay. Not all are occupied. Some are left on moorings to fend for themselves over the next few months. Some are liveaboards with no intention of going anywhere anytime soon, and others - like us - are awaiting haulout ashore once the boatyard reopens and a flight home has been secured. We reckon about 30% of the boats are occupied, typically with two people aboard, so there's around 60 of us in the same boat so to speak.
Whilst we cannot motor around in our dinghies or visit other yachts, we can swim close to our own boats - and providing we stick to the rules we're probably safer from the virus than those that live ashore.
The camaraderie among the cruisers is very evident. We now have a WhatsApp group for any cruiser in the bay with a phone who cares to join. This is used to either communicate to the group as a whole or to individual members, and a very valuable asset it is too. Primarily it's used for coordinating food deliveries to the dinghy dock and clarifying the current regulations to which we must all abide. If anyone needs anything which could be described as an emergency, there's a very good chance that someone within the group will be able to help him out. No-one is alone - we're all in this together.
So my friends, look after yourselves and those around you. Obey the rules and stay safe.
Let's see how you get on with this one, which is on a mooring close to us in Prickly Bay, Grenada:
Any ideas anyone?
If so, please let me know
by clicking here...
'Maria Concordia', a Broadblue 42 CatamaranOwner's comments:"This catamaran has custom features such as a professionally built gentleman's workshop in the owners side with a full complement of tools, double seat at the helm with adjustable foot rests, diving compressor, single side band radio with Pactor modem, hard Bimini with inner liner and full enclosure. It has been designed and equipped for safe, comfortable, short-handed long distance cruising. There is a vast number of power and other tools and numerous spares for all relevant systems. The boat is ready to go anywhere the new owner wishes to take her. The current owner sailed her from Grenada, single-handing across the Atlantic to Spain and Portugal, then returning to the Caribbean thus fulfilling his dream of completing the North Atlantic circuit in a one-year voyage. He is now ready to pass the boat into new hands to pursue a professional career at sea."
'Passat II', a Tayana 55Owner's comments:"'Passat II' is a classic Tayana 55. Her interior is an excellent layout with 2 cabins forward with en-suites and one large cabin aft with a Kingsize bed, bathroom and proper separate shower. Galley and Nav station off to Starboard and Saloon seating to Port with engine room entrance there also. There is also a lazerette in the stern and bow 'foxhole' storage in the bow.
She was bought a year ago as our forever home. Unfortunately my husband has passed away and I must swallow the anchor, which is why I am selling her for such a very reasonable price.
'Snowflake' a Flica 35',Owner's comments: "I purchased 'Snowflake' because I was looking for a comfortable vessel that could take me far and keep me safe. After looking at several other makes of catamarans, it was obvious that 'Snowflake' was the boat I was looking for. Sailing her in the Mediterranean, through heavy storms in the Gulf de Lyon, across the Atlantic Ocean, and through dark squalls in the Eastern Caribbean, she never let me down.
'Snowflake' has been my home for 6 years. She’s great fun to sail and extremely comfortable at sea and at anchor. The designer, Richard Woods has always been very responsive to my emails whenever I had questions when refitting the boat. It’s been a hard decision, but I’m deciding to sell her so I can follow my dreams and do a different type of sailing in higher latitudes."
'Tayana', a Tayana 37Owner's comments:"'Tayana' is for sale. She's a classic bluewater cutter-rigged sailboat. With a thick fiberglass hull, she's a full keel double-ender designed by the famous Robert Perry.
The Tayana 37 has been described as safe and secure with high coamings, high lifelines, and substantial bow and stern pulpits. 'Tayana' a 1975 Blue Book Canadian registered vessel."
'Ocean Phoenix', a C&C 37R,Owner's comments:"Currently located in Barrington, Rhode Island, 'Ocean Phoenix' has been in the water for the last 3 years and out in storage during the winter months.
The 37R hull was built entirely with DuPont hybrid material that combines Kevlar with Glass Reinforced Plastic. The deck is constructed in typical C&C fashion using end-grain balsa core. This process results in a very high strength or stiffness to weight ratio. Unidirectional glass is used for additional local stiffing. Her sleek lines and deep keel allow for some amazing sailing.
If you are looking for a fast boat that points well, is outfitted for a family or a couple, and can handle many different situations, then look no further."
Dufour GibSea 37ft Ketch,Owner's comments:"This GibSea 37 Ketch is Fully Loaded for Liveaboard, and Ready to Set Sail!
The boat is currently in Martinique, French West Indies.
We have lots of good memories on this boat, gave all our hearts and time for this solid boat, and it saddens us to sell her, but it is time for us to start a new page of our life, family and new work are calling us back to the land.
This boat is a highly reliable boat with its tough and thick hull. She is very easy to handle and provides good secured feeling and safety with a center cockpit. It has lots and lots of storage space, which is very convenient! It sleeps 6 comfortably."
'Lady Rebel', an Irwin 52,Owner's comments:"A 1983 Irwin 52 centre cockpit ketch, our boat for 8 years and our home for 6. In that time she has completed almost 25,000 Nm, two trans-atlantics, a UK circumnavigation, an East and West Caribbean circumnavigation and cruised the Eastern US.
'Lady Rebel' underwent a major refit in 2007 ($300,000, supervised by Gene Gammon himself), and has been continually upgraded since (approx. $100,000 US) with many additional features. She is a fully functional, true blue water boat, looking for her next adventure.
Our cruising plans are changing but we shall continue to sail 'Lady Rebel' in the Western Caribbean this season until she sells; we are currently in Guatemala undergoing a complete hull and deck Awlgrip repaint."
'Salicorne', a Whitby 42,Owner's comments:"This fabulous centre cockpit liveabord is currently berthed in Kota Kinabalu Sabah Malaysia. She is one of only a few Whitbys which were converted from a ketch to a cutter rig (Florida 2005). New boom, spreaders etc were added then. New standing rigging again replaced in 2013 including Harken roller reefing.
'Salicorne' is a spacious, sturdy and rugged full-keeled, heavy displacement center cockpit monohull ideal for those who want more living space on board. She has two double berths each with private toilet and large saloon (which converts to a double berth plus single) and galley. The owners have lived on board for the last three years so she is well maintained. She is Guernsey registered and comes with lots of extras."
Want to check out a whole load more?
Don't forget...If you're thinking of looking at a secondhand sailboat, or just want to be aware of what to look for - and when to walk away no matter what - then you really ought to take a look at my eBook 'How to Avoid Buying the Wrong Sailboat'
Among other items this month, we have:
And finally...If you know anyone who might be interested in the contents of this newsletter, please forward it to them. It's not secret!
And this newsletter can be a two-way thing. If you've read anything you'd like to comment on, or perhaps there's an event you'd like to see announced in a future newsletter, then please let me know.
See you next month!
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