08/04/2016 – Highs and Lows!

The Tobago Cays were lovely and far less crowded than on our previous visits in January 2010. We saw quite a few turtles but, disappointingly, they were not in the protected zone. Whether they ate all the grass there or whether there is some other reason, we saw no grass in that area. Perhaps anchors are not the major culprit they are thought to be. On Baradel Island itself we spotted a couple of iguanas but not the very big one we saw last time. We went to explore Petit Bateau Island as we could see a structure from the boat. There was a covered area with BBQ paraphernalia, used by the boat boys for beach BBQs. On the northern side of the island, facing the narrow passage between Petit Bateau and Petit Rameau we found a couple of stalls selling BBQ Lobster or fish dinners so placed an order and returned at dusk. It was very friendly, chatting to other Brits who were on charter boats, but the food was more expensive than at Chatham Bay and also not as good. Our second evening in the Cays we invited the Makena crew on board for drinks. We had thought about leaving the next morning but heard from Allegro on the VHF so decided to stay another night then travel with them up to Bequia to clear out of St Vincent and the Grenadines. We invited them on board for dinner and had a convivial evening. The trip to Bequia was quite fast, sailing all the way once clear of One a Fathom Bank. We anchored off Princess Margaret Beach then collected the Allegro crew to take them ashore to clear out. As it was nearly 1400 we decided to have lunch first. The food was good but incredibly slow, so slow we are not sure if we were charged overtime for the clearance! The office is open until 1800 but overtime is charged after 1600, I think John reached the desk at about 1602. Bequia to Marigot Bay is about 60 nM, so a long day's sail which had to start early to ensure a daylight arrival. That was the plan and both Starblazer and Allegro motored out of Admiralty Bay at 0600. We quickly found a good wind and sailed fast towards St Vincent where we slowly lost the wind as we passed into the wind shadow of the island. We started the engine, rolled away the genoa and motored northwards. All went well to start with, the engine made a few funny noises so John turned it off and checked the oil level. It was a bit low so he topped it up, restarted the engine which sounded happier and we continued. But not for long! All of a sudden the engine sounded like a metal box with nuts and bolts inside being rattled. Engine off very quickly. We called up Allegro and told them to go on because we knew we were unlikely to reach Marigot Bay before dark. We also made the decision to head for Rodney Bay Marina. The symptoms suggested that the engine would need to be stripped, parts flown in, then rebuilt at best. If we were towed into Marigot we would have to be towed out again then towed in to Rodney Bay even if we managed to sail part of the way. Allegro reported good wind a few miles north of us so we put the outboard on the dinghy, tied the dinghy alongside and motored north until the wind kicked in. It built slowly, allowing John time to turn off the outboard and lift the engine out of the water before clambering aboard. All went well until we had passed the Pitons then the wind died again. Allegro came to take us under tow. I spotted some moored yachts a couple of miles south of Marigot Bay, checked in the pilot and found there were some marine park buoys though you could anchor in sand if the buoys were all occupied. We asked Allegro to take us there. We successfully picked up a buoy and Allegro headed on to Marigot where the fleet were ready to help them in. Once safely tied up, John took off a cover and discovered the problem. A valve spring had broken, the valve had dropped into the cylinder, hence the sound of rattling metal bits! We could do nothing except have a drink and cook dinner. The next morning the plan was to leave at 0600, we failed! I didn't get up in time and John said not to rush, there wasn't a breath of wind! By about 0730 there was a gentle 4 knots in the bay so we used the dinghy to push us off the mooring. This time we tied the dinghy a little differently and it was so much better, so much so John could climb aboard and wait for the wind which actually arrived quite quickly! I managed to snag the kill cord but the engine was still in gear and was being turned by the pressure of water. John managed to pull the outboard out of the water with the boat hook and we dropped the dinghy back behind Starblazer. We had a fantastic sail up to Pigeon Island then tacked back in to the bay. We tacked back and forth waiting for Quincy in his water taxi to arrive to tow us to our berth. Thursday evening was the World ARC welcome party and Peta, the local Yellow Shirt, kindly gave us a lift to Marigot Bay and back again after the meal. Today John has dismantled the engine and, to his amazement, has found no damage other than the broken spring and missing collets which hold the spring in place! The gasket set, a new set of springs and collets will have to be ordered in but we should be able to leave here within a couple of weeks, so it is still possible for us to join ARC USA. Watch this space. Joyce Sent from my iPad

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