CHAPTER 13      





            Having the busy part of the boating season behind us, it was time to start thinking about the next Caribbean charter. The crew of 10 met for dinner to get back in touch, this time at the Knapp's home. Having the upcoming event be less than 6 months away increased everyone's level of enthusiasm and anticipation for the trip. We didn't get much accomplished except to talk about the things we needed to think about. The final payment schedule past our 25% deposit wouldn't start for a couple of months. We didn't need to have the provisioning list organized and submitted until 30 days before to the charter. We still hadn't come up with a name for the newsletter. We tried to think of names involving Passage and Windward. People kept making suggestions but the title didn't pop out yet. Group discussions about the cruise lasted only a few minutes. Enjoying dinner and separate conversations went on for a few hours.

            Several days after the dinner, we received tragic news. Charley had been diagnosed with Cancer in his chest cavity. It was presumably related to exposure to asbestos many years prior. The doctors had removed 2 liters of fluid from his lungs after checking an unusual cough. He was scheduled to go in for surgery near Christmas to remove scar tissue that was trapping more fluid that would otherwise block the therapy chemicals. It was very rare for this form of cancer to be found in someone so young. Needless to say, Charley and Jenny's life had been thrown upside down. The rest of the crew felt the impact as well. Now we had to face the possibility that they wouldn't make it because Charley was ill. How could they afford to make it now, with the financial burden they would be facing? How could they afford not to go with Charley facing a potentially shortened life span? With so much uncertainty in their lives, they wouldn't know if it was possible to join the cruise until much closer to the actual date. We had to let the chips fall as the may. I organized the payment schedule such that the four other couples would be paying for everything until they knew they could make it. This way they wouldn't have to think about it for a while and wouldn't have to make a final decision until 30 days ahead of time.

            The December cruise planning party was at the Callan's house. We roughed out a beverage list while sitting around their Christmas tree, and finally came up with a name for the newsletter. Marsha, Lewis and I had been discussing it. Lewis and I were bouncing different variations of Windward and Passage back and forth again when Marsha blurted out the phrase "Gentlemen Don't Beat to Weather", trying to remind Lewis that sailing should be comfortable. That's it! "Gentlemen Don't Pass Wind". That name had an additional meaning, knowing there were going to be 10 people together for two weeks on a sailboat. That was all we accomplished. The rest of the evening was spent enjoying the potluck feast we had prepared, good feelings about the cruise and the holidays, but with one dark cloud. Charley's cancer. We did manage to set a date for the next meeting. It was fitting that we have it at the Alberts on Super Bowl Sunday. That's were it was last January and the 49ers were almost on their way again.

            Before the next meeting, Lewis and Barbara invited us to join them for a sail. Lewis had reserved a Niagara 35 for a day sail to take Barbara's visiting parents out. It was the Sunday the 49ers were playing the New York Giants to determine which team would play in the Super Bowl. Barbara's parents were from New York so there was a friendly competitive spirit in the air. Barbara's father had walkman earphones stuck in his ears for most of the sail. The Niagara 35 was a solidly constructed Canadian boat. We liked one aspect of its layout. As you walked down the companionway, there was an aft berth and nav station separated from the rest of the boat by a door. This layout would give the working crew access to the nav station and to sleep on off shifts, while separating them from the rest of the crew. The 49ers were in the lead by a small margin for most of the game, but the Giants stayed on their tail, rallied and ended up winning. Expressing his glee, Barbara's father didn't realize how close he was to becoming shark food.

            Super Bowl Sunday at the Alberts wasn't quite the same without the 49ers, but fun just the same. Our main accomplishment was coordinating of our flights. Barbara wanted to return on Saturday to recover in time for work. The rest of us wanted to stay as long as possible even if it meant getting only a few hours of sleep before showing up at the office. Another development was the growing interest in making SCUBA diving part of this vacation. Unlike the cruising guides for the previous charters that only had small references to diving, the Windward Islands cruising guide was full of advertisements and articles on how great the SCUBA diving was. Eight out of the 10 of us were interested in getting certified. As usual, the rest of the evening was spent dining and playing in the Jacuzzi and swimming pool. Charley and Jenny didn't stay long though. Charley was looking ill and gaunt from the therapy, but his spirit was still willing.



            I designed the graphics for the cover of the newsletter and distributed the first issue. Its main contents were the beverage list and the financial considerations. I solicited contributions for future issues. The second issue included the payment due dates including the Michael's. Charley was still determined to make the trip. We had purchased a cruising video on the Windward Islands that advised completely avoiding St. Vincent because some yachties had been murdered. I included a note from Moorings discussing the fact that things had gotten better on St. Vincent. They believed the machete chopping were a thing of the past. Jim contributed an article entitled "A Southerly Itinerary Through the Windwards" by guest columnist, The Fish Killer. Marsha contributed a two-page article on chartering in the Windward Islands from a chartering supplement to Sail magazine. Lewis submitted a two-page Cruising World article discussing the ten most common causes for injury on a sailboat.

            In the third issue, I suggested using the same method for handling the cruising kitty as we did in the Virgin Islands. I brought up the prospects of SCUBA diving, and wrote an article on jobs, listing all of the responsibilities that we would be distributing. I also added two supplemental pieces, an article on seasickness and an advertisement for Scopolamine. Finally, I constructed an article describing everyone’s Sun and Moon sign astrological charts from Grant Lewi's book, "Heaven Knows What". The fourth and final edition of the newsletter came out in March. I included a copy of my letter to the Moorings requesting provisioning. We ordered partial provisioning for 7 days instead of 14, not wanting food to spoil as our experience reminded us they provided ample quantities. We decided to stretch it and fill in the gaps for the rest of the time from the markets on the islands. Barbara submitted an article on the pleasantries of our soon to be cruising grounds. I also provided an update on diving. Marcy organized a dive-training weekend before the trip where we would receive 5 sessions of pool and classroom work for PADI dive certification. They would be conducting the sessions over a Friday Night, and all day Saturday and Sunday. This style of training was called a referral. It wouldn't include the open water dives required to complete certification. We would finish that part once in the islands.

            Having casually discussed our dive instructions with a coworker, Erik asked me if there was room for two more in the class. He and his wife Victoria had experienced a resort dive during a Club Med vacation. An instructor gave them just enough training on how to use the BCD, regulator, tanks and weights, and then closely supervised the dive in shallow water. They had enjoyed it and wanted to learn more. Our plan sounded like an easy way for them to get the initial certification training. I had to think about bringing an acquaintance from work into our close-knit crew that had been meeting and focusing on a common goal for over a year. I asked around and nobody minded so the total for the class increased to 10 people. The cost for this portion of the training was $80.00 per person, plus we were responsible for obtaining our own mask, fins, snorkel, booties, and gloves. We had to read the PADI Open Water Diver Manual ahead of time. Reading the manual was much work for everyone, with his or her busy work schedules. Fortunately for me, I had business travel in March and the book made excellent plane reading.

            Finally, the Friday of the dive weekend arrived and it was almost as if the vacation had started, even though we still had three weeks to wait. The first night was fun and close to what Erik had experienced with his resort dive. Equipment introductions and your first dive. The instructor, Dennis, was an energetic and enthusiastic diver. Many of his expressions reminded me of someone I had worked with several years ago, Ed Dunphy. I brought this up in the conversations later that evening at the Alberts' house. All the crew independently knew Ed and agreed. Jim was in the middle of a project working with Ed to help get his current book published. David had met Ed years ago in a vendor/customer relationship. All of a sudden Erik piped in with the question, "Which Ed Dunphy?" Could there be two? He had gone to college with an Ed Dunphy in Albuquerque. The Ed he knew published a book containing 250 computer graphically generated peace symbols. The Ed we knew was from New Mexico. It turned out to be the same person, Erik hadn't seen him in over 15 years. This was too amazing and everyone had a good laugh at the coincidence. At lunch the next day, Dennis was commenting on the fact that we were quite a diverse group of people and wanted to know how we got together. David commented, "We all know Ed Dunphy."

            Cramming this much work into one weekend was quite a task, especially for those that hadn't finished reading the divers manual, like Lewis. It was up early reading, and then working until after dark in the 90-degree swimming pool. There were exams we had to pass along the way, so we did need to be familiar with the material. Everyone was tired by the end of school on Saturday, but Lewis and I managed to slip away for a while to drop in on a party at Bernie's home in Aptos. We met John, a diving instructor so we started explaining what we were in the middle of. When we mentioned Dennis's name, his eyes lit up. He smiled and said, "Oh, you mean Masks, Fins, Snorkel, Booties, Gloves Adventure Sports?" He commented Dennis was a good party style instructor for our group. John, however, was the type of instructor for guys that come to him and say, "We want to go screw around with some sharks." He had a boat with a dive cage and gave people shark tours.

            Sunday was another full day with two remaining sessions. To save time at lunch, Dennis had pizza delivered. He served it on a styrofoam surf board as we all sat in Adventure Sport's Jacuzzi. Finally we got through the final exam and were finished. This was another sport that had you opening your wallet. Jim, David and Marcy had purchased Lycra and spandex body suits for wearing in moderate temperature water, instead of wet suits. The body suits would also work well as an inner layer for a dry suit for diving in cold water. Everyone purchased some equipment from the dive shop afterwards. I picked up a halogen under water flashlight. We then caravanned to a nearby restaurant and treated Dennis and his significant other to a great dinner. Everyone was pooped, but anxiously awaiting the open water dives, even Marsha with her fish phobia.

            There was just enough time left to shop for vacation clothes for the trip. Jim, Lewis and I ended up getting pairs of loudly colored MC Hammer pants for the plane trip. The long awaited day finally came and we were on our way. Jim and Joanne, Lewis and Barbara, and Marsha and I all traveled on the same plane. We met the others in Puerto Rico.


Figure 93: Windward Island cruising waters


            It was a long commute, SFO - NY, NY - SJU, SJU - St. Lucia, customs, then a 1-1/2 hour taxi ride. St. Lucia is a large, mountainous and lush island country. Its center is covered with tropical rain forests, primarily banana trees. When we could see the coast through the trees occasionally, we could see beaches with palm trees along the shore. The pile of luggage in the hotel lobby when we arrived was awesome. Appetizers served at the lobby bar were salted deep fried banana slices, excellent with rum punch sprinkled with fresh nutmeg. Our group filled the water taxi taking us across Marigot Bay. It was a steep climb to get up the hill. Lewis and Barbara had to take a tram up to their room. Once everyone was settled in for the evening, we met at the restaurant across the bay for a wonderful sunset dinner on the patio. We partied on the Knapp's verandah until the end of the evening. Charley's head looked as if he could play a part as an extra in a nuclear holocaust movie, because his hair is falling out from the kemo therapy.

Figure 94: View from balcony of Marigot Bay Resort


            It was back to the Bay side restaurant for breakfast once everyone got their motors running for the day, which was an easy task with all the anticipation. The view of Marigot Bay was spectacular. The morning was partly sunny, warm and moderately humid. We toured Mooring's dive shop after breakfast. It was filled with new equipment and reminded us we would soon be completing our certification ocean dives. It was a rush to get packed before the chart talk, but Moorings volunteered to have our bags brought back down the steep hill during the briefing if we left them outside our bungalows.

            The chart talk covered the important information we would need for the next two weeks. I wanted to tape record the chart briefing but I left my tape player in Lewis and Barbara's room. It had been packed. The information is generally available though, in the cruiser's guide and packet of papers that come with the boat. 2.6 is exchange rate, 2.5 is lowest. 70 EC$ equals $32 US. We need to fly a yellow quarantine flag each time we enter a new country, until we clear customs. It also cost money checking in and out of each country. For this reason, Moorings swayed our thinking towards not going to Granada. Crossing one more country boundary would mean 4 more customs visits. The customs offices we would most likely be using are off the main ferry dock in Admiralty Bay on Bequia and at the Post Office in Clifton Harbor on Union Island. Connect with the customs officer on channel 68 in Wallilabou Bay on St. Vincent for instructions on how to find him when we arrive. Bequia is highly recommended as the destination after the passage from St. Lucia. We should check out the diving there.

            Regarding communications, weather Barbados transmits each morning on AM 900 at 7:10 and AM 660 at 7:30. The marine operator can be hailed on channel 85 in St. Lucia and channel 16 elsewhere from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Once on board our boat, we need to register the cellular phone. The hours of cellular service are between 8 AM and 10 PM for $4 per minute. The Moorings phone number is 34357. We're to call Alan or Ted collect if we have any difficulties.

            Finally getting to the Sugar Cane Brandy was great. Julian walked us through all the Moorings 500's systems, and would be accompanying us to our anchorage for the day as a complimentary skipper's guide. The vessel seemed huge, with two steering wheels side by side because the cockpit is so wide. While the women stored our baggage and sorted through the provisions, the men were running errands. David checked out two wind scoops for the hatches, Charley checked out two wind surfers, and Jim found the fishing gear. Meanwhile, Lewis and I went to get beverages.

            With everything set to go, we finally untied the dock lines. Though the boat was huge, it maneuvered well getting out of the slip and underway. The afternoon turned out to be gorgeous for our first sail. I had an experience crew that quickly remembered how to sail and figured out how to hoist the main and unfurl the jib. Julian just kicked back and watched us conquer the beast. Once comfortably under way cruising down the western coast of St. Lucia, he broke out the fishing gear, equipped with an artificial squid lure. His philosophy was "If the boat was moving, you ought to have your hook in the water mon." Jim was soaking it up.

            Our destination for the afternoon was Soufriere near the Piton Mountains. The Pitons are twin extraordinarily beautiful towering peaks. The water there is deep all the way to shore. The anchoring technique is to let out a stern anchor and have a bowline tied to a palm tree on shore. As we made out approach, we could see many native boys on shore watching us. Some started swimming out to meet us. Lewis made friends with one. Pabst became our boat boy for the stay. He lived in a cardboard box on the beach. There was interesting snorkeling around the cliffs. David, Lewis, Jenny and I snorkeled while Jim walked along the shore wearing his bright orange swimsuit and black booties. We dined on cheeseburgers grilled with mesquite. The evening ended with Red Stripes and dominos. Marsha has forgone navigating into anchorages, passing the baton to Lewis. Shower?



            4:00 AM. There's a rooster crowing on shore in Admiralty Bay. We got underway by 6:30 yesterday, facing an anticipated 9 hour passage past St. Vincent to Admiralty Bay in Bequia. We arrived at the northern tip of St. Vincent by 11:45. The seas were big, winds were predicted at 40 - 50 Kilometers. Most of the crew experienced some kind of discomfort, several barfed. Jim and I employed safety harnesses. As we were approaching St. Vincent, we smelled a strong fish odor. Shortly thereafter one of the two fishing reels started spinning as if there was a strike. Then the second reel did the same. With Lewis at the helm, Jim and I raced to respond. David and I debugged the line that was entangled in the dinghy painter on starboard. That fish got away.

            Jim got the other hook set well and reeled in a 25 pound, 40 inch long Dorado. It was a bright shade of yellow as we hauled it in, then it changed colors to blue and green. I tried to stow it in the snorkel locker but it wouldn't fit so we hauled it into the cockpit. It became very active so the bad boy club appeared. I got the task of whacking it in the head, about 10 times as hard as I could. Blood was everywhere. This was an appropriate diversion to take away the seasickness of the first half leg.


Figure 95: Fish fighting

Figure 96: The one that didn’t get away

            We were approaching St. Vincent's lee side, the winds and waves had eased. Lewis did the honors of filleting the Dolphin fish as well as cutting a few strips for bait. We still hadn't found a bait store, it still didn't matter. We saw a few dolphins joining the Sugar Cane Brandy as we traveled, surfacing occasionally. It was effortless for them to keep up with us. It took a while to traverse the coast of St. Vincent. Barbara and I took turns at the helm. We motored some. The winds started picking up as we got to the end of the island. By then, Lewis had debugged the power system so we could put a charge on the refrigeration system. The problem was something to do with a breaker having to be reset. This must have occurred from us not shutting off the inverter switch. The winds were back, the seas weren't quite as rough but still there. We motor sailed to keep charging the refrigerator, hitting peak speeds on the knot meter of 9.1, averaging between 8.3 - 8.6. Most of the trip was a beat during the windy portions. Food for the day consisted of what Lewis could find to put into his canvas feed bag, mostly bananas and cheese balls.

            Admiralty Bay was ahead of us on a course of 180 degrees from the southern end of St. Vincent. The Moorings recommended course was a 160-degree beat along the coast of St. Lucia, then 195 degrees to make 210 degrees to the leeward side of St. Vincent. Lewis pointed high as we approached, Marsha and Barbara kept taking fixes with the range-bearing compass. St. Vincent disappeared from sight before the Pitons. Marsha was the first to spot Admiralty Bay's beaches and red entrance marker. After much discussion about approaching the anchorage, we made it to Tony Gibbons beach. The bay was filled with over 100, including two large square-riggers. We arrived at 4:15 PM. We started with a double reef in the main sail, shook it out for a while, then put one back.

           We were worried we wouldn’t make the customs office before it closed, but Jim and I got the dinghy, motor, and fuel tank ready. One source of information said the office closed at 3:00, two others had said 4:30. While motoring the dinghy to shore, we hailed another dinghy and asked. They stated they were closed at 3:00 but "Don't worry mon, be happy." We beached the dinghy near Dive Bequia. Bob Sachs was its proprietor, Christina was his partner. After making reservations for 10:00 the next day, they were astonished we had 8 people all at the same level. Bob wrote our name on his to do list chalkboard and quoted $420 for our first dive, then $35.00 apiece for the second. The wall next to the chalkboard was covered with dive photos, including women with bare breasts. He stated customs never closes, so we moved on to the other side of the bay.

            We had been advised not to use the boat boys for anchoring here, we kindly said no thank you. Using them at the dinghy dock looked like a good idea. Two young boys solicited our business at the docks, agreeing to watch our dinghy for 2 EC$. We asked about directions to the police station and made out way to the customs and immigration offices. While there, we learned there was a political movement underway to try to unite 4 independent countries in the islands, Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Lucia and the Grenadines. We also learned Jim could have sold his fish for 4 EC$ per pound. It was dusty work, so we walked through the market place and found a bar and restaurant. It was their equivalent of a 7/11-type store. Ms. Taylor served us a couple of her rum punches with freshly ground nutmeg from St. Vincent. These were the Spice Islands.

Figure 97: Dive Bequia

            Eventually we bought ice and two liters of punch and headed back. Free and clear to party, we could take the yellow quarantine flag down from the starboard shroud. Charley was wind surfing and Marsha, Marcy, and Jenny were snorkeling when we got back to Sugar Cane Brandy. They enjoyed the punch. We swam, drank, and unwound after the 9-hour passage until dusk. Dinner was regular and spicy grilled dolphin fish. David was the grill master. Delicious! Marcy made a delightful rice pilaf and salad. Great dinner and a few rounds of dominos before bed, then SCUBA tomorrow.

            Tuesday was a full day. The morning activities began by setting the second anchor. It probably wasn't needed, but recommended by the Moorings. Marcy orchestrated a soufflé for breakfast. I set up the hammock. So far, no one has gotten bent by the accommodations or crowd. Eight of us spent the day going on the first 2 out of 4 required PADI certification dives. Bob is a NAUI instructor so we worked with Christina, his PADI instructor. We rode to shore in 2 boats, our dinghy skippered by Charley and Bugs' taxi. Bugs has a wooden ponga and his friends help. So far they have provided not only taxi service but have brought us ice and fresh tuna as well. If you are going to be somewhere, they wait for you. Rides cost 10 EC$ during the day, 20 EC$ after dark.

            Charley and Joanne met us for a fresh tuna lunch at the Gingerbread House. The dive shop has a shower. After diving, the crew all had visions of rum punch in mind, back to the boat and David's bartending. Thankfully, they were not as strong as Ms. Taylor’s. Bugs was back at 7:15 for our 7:30 reservations for Mac's pizza. His taxi holds 10. Good pizza and conch appetizers. There was a jump up at the Plantation, a bar on the coast closest to our anchorage. We ran into Julian there. He was bringing a crew down from St. Lucia. He said he would stop by our boat and show us where the cockpit light was and help with the refrigerator. So far, we think the system has problems with its design in that it runs off a 110-volt inverter, yet the switch panel says 12 volt. We've learned we have to run the engine to charge the batteries before charging the refrigerator. After reading the instructions we still couldn't keep the circuit breaker from tripping after 3 - 4 minutes.

Figure 98: Bugs and his crew

            The taxi is keeping tabs on things by way of a hand held VHF radio. Bugs had checked with Mac's and learned we were at the jump up. He got us all back safely. People were worn out and in bed by midnight. Jenny shot some good video footage of Charley giving Jim wind surfing lessons after diving. I'm eager to try but too tired right now. Bob suggested we finish our certification here. Then we would be free to do whatever we want for the rest of the trip. It's an enjoyable place so it made sense. At dinner, we were talking about staying one more day for relaxing and touring. By a unanimous vote, we decided to take an easy day tomorrow and finish our dives on Thursday. Two dives two days in a row would be too much stress. Bob reminded us of Dennis from Adventure Sports, but doesn't have quite the same enthusiasm level. Bob spent several years instructing starting from New Jersey, then in New Guinea, the Bahamas, and four years here.

            Our first dive started with touring and skills. The second dive was a fun tour. We're learning that men run out of air faster than women. David and I were the first one's up on the second dive, Jim was on the first. People aren't sure they like diving yet, but it seems to be a shame when you have to come up and it makes for uncontrolled rambling enthusiastic conversations later. I think that has something to do with the fact you can't talk when you are down. The next dive day will complete the rest of the skills in the morning, and a fun dive in the afternoon going down to 60 - 70 feet deep.

            So far, I haven't been requiring much sleep, getting up at 4:00 AM the past two days and not sleeping much at Soufriere, which may have been in anticipation of the passage. I broke my mask today, seemed to be a poor system depending on a very small plastic pin. I may buy another set or I've brought one from Moorings as an extra but it’s not very good. I'll check it out later today. Maybe they will give me a good deal, like throw in a hot shower. I'll take my shampoo just in case. We should use the sun shower today, I can refill it at the dive shop tomorrow. Maybe Jim will catch a tuna with Bugs today for lunch. I wonder if it makes good sushi? Pointed out by a native at the Plantation, Jim found a $50 US bill under his foot while standing at the bar. He donated it to the kitty.

            Wednesday was the day of the first berth rotation. The Moorings 500 had 5 berths for 2, 4 of them are equal doubles, each with their own head and shower. The fifth is in the forepeak. It is not quite equal to the point we developed a rotation plan. We drew numbers to see who started where. Marsha and I drew the forepeak first. Lewis and Barbara automatically went to 5th because they are leaving a day early so no one gets stuck on the last night. It is harder to climb into and the berths are bunks. The stool is in the open, next to the lower berth. There is no shower or storage. The forepeak people put their large bags in the main salon on the dining room table. The air ventilation system isn't as good as the others. In reality, it shouldn't be for adults, though the bunks are long enough, 6'-4." Now we are in one of the double staterooms. I can't say I slept any better but I did feel more of a breeze and it was more comfortable moving around and getting at things. This is the longest amount of time I can remember spending at any one anchorage, 4 nights. It's time to be sailing again, but first the divers need to finish their dive certification. If we survive, I will report on the graduation party later.


Figure 99: Charlie and Jenny's turn in the forepeak

            We got some wind surfing in. I started managing to get up. I never got sure footing though. I tried to tack or jibe, I'm not sure which. No matter what I tried to do, I kept moving further away from the boat until I figured I was losing bad, so I dropped and swam the board back to the boat. I thought people might be thinking about coming to my rescue, but I later learned they were waiting so see my dive "I need help" sign. Cute, I don't remember giving them the "I'm OK" sign either. I was worn out when I got back but I started rigging the sun shower. I had figured out a plan for it earlier that morning. Half way through, everyone started yelling, "Steve, your board is coming loose, it's floating away." I ran back, dove off the stern pulpit and retrieved it. It turns out that was the other board. Its lanyard broke about a foot from the tip of the bow. Good timing, it could have snapped while no one was on the boat. Charley continued giving Jim wind surfing lessons with the board tied to the boat. He first extended Jim's tether with another dock line, then eventually cut him loose. Jim managed to get stranded on shore. Charley dinghied in to get him, swapping the dinghy for the board. Charley then sailed around a while demonstrating that it is in fact possible to stay up and go where you want to.

            It was also a day to read and explore the beach, and continue debugging the refrigeration system. Lewis worked on it all morning. He discovered the 12 V refrigerator switch on the panel wasn't connected to anything, which confirmed it wasn't helping because the compressor was running off the 110 V inverter. There was a weak link in the chain somewhere. Not enough juice was getting into the batteries from the engine to provide the inverter with enough 110 V to run the compressor for more than 4 - 6 minutes. Once he tried everything he could, he was ready to talk to Peter of the Grenadine yacht club. He was Moorings first point of contact for difficulties in this country. He blamed the cooling fans as juice drainers and recommended the engine RPMs go up to 1800 for charging, verses the recommended 1200 in the instructions. Peter also replaced the end fitting to the dinghy fuel line because it kept popping off.

            I think we're refining our understanding of the right crew size. Four still sounds a bit too small, the noise level wouldn't be high enough. Maybe if there were a skipper and cook as crew to make 6. Six seems like the best number, everyone can fit in the average cruising dinghy. We had 8 in the BVIs, which was fun, though room for some tension. Ten, though I can't say anyone is not having fun, is a large crowd. The next option would be to get two more people and two boats, each with their own cook. Except for David, everyone finally made it into the town of Port Elizabeth to tour the markets. I tried to find a way to get my mask fixed but couldn't and resolved to use the one I had brought from the Moorings. More rum punches at Ms. Taylor's along with great cheeseburgers. Then back to the boat for dinner with a lobster dish as an appetizer and spaghetti with dolphin fish sauce. Early to bed.

            No weather system in the Caribbean, wind 10 - 40 kilometers, sunny. Dive day is over, all 8 students passed the first level of certification. The morning dive was kind of a drag, all skills training. The afternoon dive was the fun deep dive. We dove over 80 feet and went through caves and crevices, saw lobster and barracuda and many other fish. I was the first one up on both dives but the tank was low on the second one. The celebration graduation dinner was at Frangipani, a barbecue with a steel band. While we were waiting for Bug's taxi for the ride to shore, we were approached and serenaded by 3 musical natives in a fishing boat. Bugs took very good care of us with several taxi runs, ice, trash, fuel for the dinghy, and herbs. He wants us to arrange to get him a hand held VHF radio from the states. His is borrowed but becoming a critical part of his business. His skiff's name is "Think it Over" but he's thinking about changing it to "Fearless". He has a one-year-old daughter but no wife or girlfriend. While some of us were waiting for the dinghy to come back from town after the dive, Bugs and his crew were hanging out. One of his crew picked up one of his fiancées from the beach and brought her out to our boat. She was the woman that bore Bug's baby.

            We ran into one scam on Bequia. After our graduation party, one of the boat boys approached our boat and talked to David and Jim. He said he was the ice man and he hadn't been paid for the ice Bugs got for us. He said he would call the police if we didn't pay him. I woke up half way through and caught the last part of the conversation from below. David told him to come back during normal business hours, the man with the money was asleep. David identified the boat as red with a name starting with C with script writing. The man said his name was Brian. He didn't come back the next day. Bugs came out to give me his address in case we were able to get him a hand held radio. I told him what went on, he swore he paid for everything. They took off after a while, but then came back to ask if we could identify the man. They said it was the boy that was with Bugs and Sam when they were out while waiting for the dinghy to return for refueling. He had come out in Sam's boat after Sam went home. It made sense to me because I was sitting next to him on the way in to dinner. I tried to talk with him but it was short. I got a reading that he thought I was just another mark for a scam. He was trying to rip us off.

            Weather, 7:10 AM on 900. A special offer, nut cracker/opener/chicken plucker for $18.95. 80% humidity, 0755 and 1959 low, 1415 high tide. Waves 2 to 4.5 meters, up to 2-meter swells. Fair skies, 15 - 40 kilometer winds. The kitty owes Barbara 146 + 19 for wine, fruit, and popcorn. We topped off water tanks with 143 gallons. I suspect a 20-gallon fraud. Our sails were up at 11:31, leaving Admiralty Bay.



            It was a good sail from Bequia to the Tobago Cays (pronounced keys). Nobody got sick, all were better prepared for blue water cruising. Lewis docked at the Bequia marina where we topped off our water tanks at 50 EC cents per gallon. Because of the size of our water tanks, we think the meter started at 20 gallons. I purchased a cassette tape of a local group from the attendant for $8 US. I'm currently watching the sun rise out of the East, there is no land between here and Africa. Getting here took a fair amount of navigation. There are many small islands and rock obstructions in the way. Marsha and Jim worked that task well. The winds were averaging over 20 knots, the boat was averaging close to 8 knots. Our headings were 210 degrees M, 190 M, 180 M, then approaching the Cays on 140 M. Barbara relieved me of the helm for much of the time. Once we got out of Bequia on a starboard run, it was one long beamy port tack. We trimmed the sails in to make 141. We saw 3 fish following along with our boat for 15 minutes. They were about 24", short tail fins, a yellow stripe around the tail section and striped along their bodies. We named them Larry, Moe, and Curly.

            Lewis has been working diligently to make everything work correctly, including the crew. The stereo system has been rigged for external use. The refrigeration system just isn't getting enough juice from the battery charger to work. My best advice to Moorings is to recall the design and retrofit with the same design the Periwinkle had, and offer some credit on a future charter to the victims accounting for extra ice, time screwing around with it, time listening to the engine, diesel fuel wasted and frustration. So far, one week later, I've been consistently getting up 2 - 3 hours before the rest of my crew.

            David's margaritas improved greatly with the limes and Triple sec we bought in the market. After a couple, Lewis, Jim and I checked the anchors, snorkeling at dusk. The underwater light I bought from Adventure Sports came in handy. I've never seen water this clear. The bottom was sandy though no fish were near the boat. There is a strong current so we had to snorkel into it. Snorkeling was much more fun now that we had become certified divers because we learned about curing mask squeeze and how to equalize the pressure in our heads. After a delicious dinner of marinated grilled chicken breasts and sesame noodles with salad, Lewis threw his plate overboard. This action was inspired by the fact we have 8 certified divers on board. The challenge he presented is to see if anyone could retrieve it. Jim and I got assigned to wash dishes. Lewis had to supervise because he had just rearranged the galley for efficiency. Late night dominos are still going strong. Joanne and I have made a winning team.

            Weather, fair and sunny, 25.6 degrees centigrade, 1 - 2 meter swell. 23 before 0900 this morning low, 1357 high tide, 25 kilometer winds. Widely scattered showers. My Tilley hat is getting hard from salty sweat. Many of the crewmembers, including myself are experiencing sunburn on our backsides from snorkeling on Jamesby Island. We'll have to use sun block today as we are planning to do more snorkeling on Baradel Island. Besides being extremely clear water here, there are plenty of all kinds of tropical fish. There are also quite a few topless women on the beaches and other boats. Jamesby is a gorgeous little island with a short sandy beach with palm trees on its windward side. The ends of the island as well as the other side are all rock. We climbed the rocky path. It's covered with yucca plants and cactus. We purchased many goods from the boat boys before snorkeling. Hand painted tee shirts for $17 US, lobsters at 5 EC$, bread at 7 EC$, and partially melted block ice at 10 EC$.

            Lewis and I went plate diving in the morning, as well as diving for Jim's towel. The lead line on board told us we were diving to 24 feet. It's been difficult for me to clear my ears skin diving, though Sudafed helps. Lunch on board was tuna sandwiches, dinner was shrimp in rice pilaf with more lobster appetizers. The lobster meat is sweet, firm and tender. Lewis was late in joining the snorkel party, he wanted to muck around with the refrigerator some more. He ended up calling Moorings for a discussion. They suggested using it as an icebox. He reminded them he paid for a refrigerator. Lewis thinks the drain is coming from the pumps on the seawater cock for the compressor, 9 amps. The winds continue to be strong making for comfortable sleeping, no need for the wind socks.



            Weather, 26 kilometer winds, 76% humidity, 0910 and 2110 low tide. Sunday's plan was to snorkel off Baradel Island then sail to P.S.V. for a shower and a dress up dinner on shore. The snorkeling was again good to great. We circled the island, then made our way out to the horseshoe reef. It was a long swim against the current. We were almost able to get across the reef but the waves were breaking on the edge, all over us. The current was strong and we were breaking the coral trying to hang on. It was easy making our way back. There was a boat boy's residence on shore, a wooden boat with a new Evinrude engine and a 3 room box house about 4' tall. He decorated one of the palm trees in front of the boxes with a border of conch shell. I found a live conch in about 15' of water. The snorkeling wore people out, not everyone had enough sun block on all the necessary places.

            The refrigerator system is still not helping us. Most of the boat boys do not work on Sundays but we were fortunate with one. We were able to buy 6 blocks of ice at 8 EC$ each and 24 limes at 3 for 1 EC$. Charley and Jenny made pancakes for breakfast and hot dogs for lunch. You can tell they have young children, some of the pancakes came up looking like Mickey Mouse. We had a late start getting underway and had problems with the dual anchors. When leaving Bequia, I had raised the CQR while everyone was getting ready. I tried that again here. When the anchor was up I looked back and saw we were swinging wildly and about to head stern into another boat. I ran back and dove at the throttle as fast as I could but was about 5 seconds too late. We put a crunch in their dinghy, between our boats. The damage was minor, nothing a little fiberglass cloth, resin and paint wouldn't fix. No holes or leaks. While settling on a price, the thought of the $50 bill Jim found came to mind. The skippers first mate came up with a figure of 50, the skipper iterated $50.00 US. I gave them the $50 bill and they were OK, no problems. David commented, "Easy come, easy go." Lewis took the helm while Jim got the other anchor up. I boarded from the dinghy while the boat was underway.


Figure 100: Boat boy's home on Baradel Island

            Leaving the Tobago Cays was tricky. We left through the south exit. The cruising guide says the south exit is OK for the experienced in good light. Lewis stood on the bow giving signals on which way to go as we motored through the reefs. I think his experience curve is moving up rapidly. We got down as low as 1.5 fathoms on the depth meter. The drop from 4.5 to 1.5 sent Marsha into a panic. We made it through but folks were all on edge from the exit. We were running late but still jib sailed to P.S.V. We averaged over 5 knots. The main sail would have helped by 20 - 30 minutes. The approach to P.S.V. was straight forward, but it was clear it was going to be another windy anchorage. Lewis was at the helm, I joined the anchor team.

            We made one pass through the anchorage, then went through again trying to get close to the coral reef. We're going to drop both anchors from the boat. In Bequia, I took the second anchor out by dinghy. The boat boys took our second anchor out by boat in the Tobago Cays. We ended making a 2nd try with each anchor including a head back out and retry the approach before finally making them set good. We had finished with all that at 5:32, an hour later than our plan. It was now time to shower and dress for dinner. We tried to get a dinghy taxi, but they had all quit for the night. Showers and tonic being loaded with either rum or gin was the mode for the next hour as we prepared to dinghy ourselves to the dinghy dock. The hotel was pretty and dinner was good, but people's energy level was down below the point where everyone just wanted to sleep, so it was a quick trip in and back out.


            Weather, 16 kilometer winds currently, 26 degrees centigrade. 0950 and 2146 low, 1630 high tide. 20 - 45 Km winds expected. Fair to partly cloudy, scattered showers expected. John Corbut of the 39' vessel Freya asked us to sign as witness to the catamaran that collided and broke his toe rail. He gave us his phone number in Bequia and asked us when we arrive there, to explain what we saw to Mr. Dublin, the presiding officer on Union Island. "Aloa Pistash" is the vessel that hit him.

            Weather, 22-kilometer wind, 75% humidity, 27 degrees centigrade. 29.2 degrees high, 25.4 degrees low for the day. 1027 and 2200 low, 1650 high tide. Fair to partly cloudy with scattered showers. Winds 15 - 40 kilometers, 1.5 - 2 meter waves.

Switched propane tanks today. Yesterday, hoisting the two anchors went smooth after breakfast. Before breakfast, there were two very attractive topless sun bathing on the boat next to us. It was a French boat, the catamaran had come into the anchorage quite a bit after we did, plowed through the crowd an ended up dropping their hook before we did. Technically they had rights to the spot. It was cereal for breakfast and a jib sail to the bustling port of Clifton Harbor on Union Island for provisioning. The shore party consisted of Lewis, Barbara, Marcy and myself. We loaded up on ice, fruit juices, cookies, vegetables and fresh bread. There were many small grocery stores. Goats were roaming the streets that had been paved between 50 - 70 years ago. We saw the smallest airport I've ever seen. Rasta, the crazy one watched our dinghy and retrieved our ice.

            Lewis and I walked the docks looking for where we might find Mr. Dublin to report the accident. We talked to a man working on the dock. After explaining what we were looking for, he stated Mr. Dublin wasn't around today, and almost in disgust said, "Let the skippers work it out mon." I had experience with that and agreed. We moved on. Stocked up, we headed back to the Sugar Cane Brandy for a quick lunch, then set sail to Chatham Bay on the Leeward side of Union Island. Another jib sail, this one involved a jibe maneuver. There were 3 boats when we came in. They left and two catamarans came in. The winds were much calmer most of the time except for strong gusts that would come through occasionally. It would have made for perfect wind surfing except for the gusts. One of the guys from the catamaran that had been anchored next to us on P.S.V. started wind surfing naked. He got blown onto the beach and had to walk his board back. Our women were fighting over the binoculars.


Figure 101: Goats and the market on Union Island

            Jim and I tried our hand at fishing from the dinghy, rigging the two reels to the boat hook and a bilge pump handle. I strapped Lewis's diving knife to my leg. We trolled around the cliffs and discovered a mooring that looked perfect for hooking a boat to for snorkeling off Rapid Point. We trolled further along the coast in the rollers with no luck. I thought we were lucky not to smash into any of the rocks though. When we turned around, the wind was slowing us down to the point our hooks snagged on bottom. After retrieving them then paying them out again, Jim's line got snagged in the propeller. Jim spotted the mooring buoy again. We rowed to it to tie to while unsnagging the line. We had to take the propeller off to get the line free.

            The remains of the rum punch and shrimp and coconut appetizers were great once back to the mother ship. The problem with dinner was getting the grill started because of the gusting wind. Eventually with enough sterno and many of the yellow pages from the St. Lucia telephone directory, we managed to get it lit down in the cabin. Great Dorado and rice dinner. Jim and I did the dishes while listening to a NXS tape. Joanne and I remained the domino champions beating Lewis and Barbara and David and Marcy. Great sleeping afterwards. There's a noticeable pattern of morning behavior developing. I get up between 5:00 - 6:00. Joanne gets up by 6:30. Coffee goes on at 7:00. Charley get up when the coffee is ready. Weather at 7:10 on 900, always windy partly cloudy, warm, scattered showers. The forth person up is a variable, but usually one of the Knapps. David, Jim, and Marsha are usually the last to appear. People and the routine were starting to get very relaxed.

Figure 102: Marcy getting relaxed


            Weather, 10 - 25 kilometers, sunny, 1 - 2 meter swells. It was a rough morning. We had to decide whether to spend two more hours in Saline Bay on Mayreau or leave and get to Wallilabou. The popular opinion was to have a couple more hours here and then anchor in Bequia one more time. I wonder if Lewis is going to sell his hand held VHF to Bugs. Yesterday was a great day. Two snorkel runs to Rapid Point, a tour of the beach that was a coral reef in itself, then a beat to Mayreau. Jim, Lewis, and I spotted an 8' nurse shark resting in the rocks while snorkeling, an amazing sight. Fortunately, it wasn't hungry. We watched for a while, and then scooted. 6 tacks, the boat did OK. The decision to stay here cost a tour of the waterfalls. Dennis's bar on the hill gave us the opportunity to shoot photos of many of the islands. The anchor team is getting its' act together.


            Yesterday was a turning point in that we were starting our trip back. The last written itinerary had the day scheduled for making it to Wallilabou, but that would have meant leaving at 9:00. After much deliberation then voting, we ended up planning to spend the night in Bequia. That would chop a couple of hours off the trip to Wallilabou and we would be able to get provisions and more water. We would give up having an entire day in Wallilabou. People want to dive, there are tours of the volcanoes and falls at Baline, plus I have to clear customs. People were happy to drop the tour. I called Dive St. Vincent, they said we could still make a dive if we got an early start after staying in Bequia. So we snorkeled and wind surfed for a while longer. Jim is getting better at wind surfing.

            Vessel underway at 11:30 after stocking up on ice one more time. The sailing was good, the seas were smaller, and nobody felt any seasickness. It was a good sail for Manaheim Steamroller's Fresh Air music. David took the helm for a couple of hours. Almost everyone was snoozing or reading books. We arrived in Bequia by 3:30, but the marina was out of water. We anchored closer to town this time. As we were motoring forward to set the second anchor, a French sloop came in right behind us preventing me from paying out as much scope as I wanted to. He hollered over that we were OK, but he would move if we wanted. It seemed set. David, Marsha and I made a trip in by dinghy to get groceries and sample the famous rum punch at the Harpoon Saloon. Once back at the boat, Bugs returned from fishing and stopped by. They had 4 Bonita tunas. We bought 1, 4 pounds for 20 EC$ to make sashimi. They also loaded us with more ice. Bugs said he had reported the person that tried to rip us off to the police. They were looking for him, he was on the run. A bad news dude.

            One of the yachties came by selling fresh crepes. We would have them for dessert. Marcy prepared a delicious caramel sauce. More dominos and early to bed for the night. The song "Southern Cross" by Crosby, Stills, and Nash is being played 2 - 3 times a day, and has become the theme song for the cruise. The plan for the next day is to get underway between 8:00 and 9:00, get to Wallilabou, clear customs, then connect with the diver Bill Tewes from Dive St. Vincent. He sent me information as requested prior to the trip, his picture was on the postage stamp.


            We tried to get an early start. We had dragged quite a way from where we had anchored originally. There were no other boats nearby so it wasn't an issue. When trying to leave, we brought the Bruce anchor up first. Lewis got the main sail raised before we got the second anchor in. We would motor into the wind to raise the CQR, then sail off to St. Vincent. We got most of the chain in, but then had trouble getting the anchor free. I tried motoring in reverse, then forward. The Sugar Can Brandy swung around the anchor for a full 360 degrees. It wouldn't budge. We started seeing pools of colors from fuel rise to the surface. After a couple more attempts at getting the anchor free by motoring, we settled in to figure out what the problem could be. Bugs and other boat boys started showing up to try to help, but the anchor was set too deep for anyone to skin dive on it. We phoned Dive Bequia to ask for help. Bob stated it would cost us our boat because of salvage rights, but he would send a boat out. He could see us from his shop. Another dinghy approached with a woman and her son from one of the cruisers. She climbed aboard our boat with hand painted tee shirts for sale. Soon the dive boat came out and tied up to us. We started looking line one big dinghy dock. Bugs got us more ice while we waited. The divers were able to free it easily. The CQR had been stuck on a sunken 40' wooden sailboat. The woman selling the tee shirts said it was reported that a sailboat had sunk here. The owners left one day after breakfast fed up with maintaining the wooden vessel. It gradually filled with water and sunk. The divers were excited about their new find, a dive attraction close by. We paid them $20 US and retrieved the CQR, complete with a stem bent at a 30-degree angle.

            Once underway, we phoned Dive St. Vincent again. They stated we could still get one good dive in the afternoon. We saw a humpback whale on the way, which fascinated everyone. We almost missed Wallilabou, but boat boys were way off shore and flagged us in. The dive boat met us shortly after the boys got us stern anchored and bow tied to shore. In no time we were SCUBA diving again. They took us on a tour of what they called Coral Castle. It was breath taking. Back on the Sugar Cane Brandy, we paid Dive St. Vincent for the dive and had them fill in our dive logs. Jim was still wearing his black and green lycra dive skin, so I handed him a bag containing a black cape and mask from last year's Halloween party. He donned the garb and was parading around the deck as Captain Fish Killer.


Figure 103: Jenny gearing up for a dive

            The crew took turns going on shore tours. We met an older boat boy with no boat, named Donald. He agreed to be our guide of the island, stating we could take showers in the waterfalls. We toured the forests filled with mango and banana trees and spices along the way, stuffing our pockets with ripe nutmegs that had fallen to the ground.


Figure 104: Who was that masked man??

Figure 105: Waterfall showers on St. Vincent

            The scenery from shore was spectacular as the sun began to set. The crew dressed and made our way to shore to dine at the Wallilabou Restaurant. We made friends with yachties at other dinner tables. They were curious about the man with cape they had seen earlier, asking, "Who was that masked man?" After dinner, more dancing to a steel band jump up, then early to bed for an early start. As we were preparing to leave, there were swarms of boat boys, some on just surf boards. They were asking us for anything we could give them. Dirty tee shirts were popular, so we wouldn't have to take laundry on the plane. Lewis gave one boy that helped us a shirt that looked as if it was from the 60's. Brown and white palsy button down with a large collar. The boat boy looked hilarious wearing it, but seemed grateful just the same. We departed at 6:31 AM.

Figure 106: Too many boat boys

Figure 107: Sugar Cane Brandy center, tied to St. Vincent

Figure 108: Dinner party on shore



            The winds were light so we motor sailed at 7.5 knots. We shut the engine off for breakfast, sailing at 3 - 4 knots, and then continued motor sailing until the wind picked up. Jim had rigged the fishing lines and managed to reel in an 8-pound yellow fin tuna. David, Barbara, and Lewis took turns relieving me of helm duty. We made arrangements for a slip with the Rodney Bay Marina by VHF radio. Lewis docked the boat into slip number 44. He wanted to motor past the dock space to check things, but I said you've got a straight shot, go for it. A clean landing with the big boat. Jim and I went in to clear customs while the rest of the crew started working on the still an ample supply of Red Stripe.

            For dinner, Lewis cut the tuna into strips serving it raw with either soy sauce and wasabi, or limejuice. Both dips were scrumptious. We supplement the raw tuna with excellent European style thin crust pizza from the Key Largo Pizzeria that was within walking distance. After dark, we organized a shore and docked the dinghy on the other side of the bay at Gros Islet. We mingled in the Friday night jump up that was happening in the streets. Holding hands, we formed a snake and wandered through the streets watching the sights until it seemed like time to go. We looked very out of place, but it was great fun. David, Lewis and I stayed up late, howling at the moon from the cockpit on Lewis's last night in the islands.

Figure 109: Lewis making sushi from Jim's catch

            After a quick breakfast consisting of fresh coffee, orange juice and pastries at Nick's Bread Basket we were underway by 9:30 for a quick sail to Marigot Bay. I docked the Sugar Cane Brandy in slip #25. It was tight, there was a boat on the other side of the single finger slip, but I motored forward. The dock master gave me a thumbs up and took the dock lines. After a brief group photo with all of us swarming on the Frederick around the bent CQR anchor, Lewis and Barbara took off to make the 11:45 shuttle bus.

            The rest of the crew proceeded to get packing and prepare for check out the next day. I made the point with Moorings that I had two physics PhDs as part of my crew and we analyzed their refrigeration design to be faulty. They agreed to pay for the ice, gulping at the $227.69 price tag, but we had kept careful records. Their manager consoled me by admitting they had already retrofitted another 500's refrigeration system with a new inverter, batteries, and a higher output alternator. Charley packaged up and returned the wind surfers, David returned wind scoops, and Jim returned fishing reels.

            Checkout consisted of filling out an evaluation form and a questionnaire. They asked about the bent anchor, how we had done with using two anchors, and our accident. No problem mon, the boat boys will bend it back. With the work done, we had the rest of the afternoon and evening for relaxing and more fun. Jim, Charley and I borrowed back the wind surfers and swam. The rest of the crew either read books, shopped, or just kicked back to enjoy the afternoon sun and warm weather. The evening was spent at dinner then dancing in the Marigot Bay resort hotel. The night ended not too long after Charley and Jenny got pissed off at me for playing Southern Cross too loud. They had been trying to get to sleep but the music was by popular request. They fled to the forepeak berth to get away from the noise.



            Marcy started the next day for us with hash for breakfast consisting of most of the left over food. The end of the adventure was here, but two weeks proved to be a good amount of time for everyone. We agreed Lewis and Barbara should have stayed the last day. We caught the shuttle bus and said good-by to the Moorings. We got the driver to play our Southern Cross tape several times on the way. By by bananas. Sleeping for the next couple of days was great, with dreams of feeling the wind and the swinging boat at the anchorages. Getting back into work, well...


Figure 110: Marigot Bay

Figure 111: Crew of the Sugar Cane Brandy

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Keys to the Golden Gate, Copyright © 2002 by Steve Sears