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St. Vincent and the Grenadines - Part 1
 
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Twanger
Link to this postPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:00 am    Post subject: Note St. Vincent and the Grenadines - Part 1

SVG May 24-June 2 2010 Trip Report

The Yacht

Barefoot yacht charters - SV Wind Dancer. Catalina 400 Mark II sloop. Located in Blue Lagoon, St. Vincent, West Indies. Dual helm. Roller-furl main and Jib. Power windlass, and power winch (stbd side). Comes with RHIB dingy and 5HP motor. VHF radio, GPS & chart plotter in cockpit, along with depth, wind speed and direction, and speed through the water. Also comes with a cell-phone you can buy minutes for that is far cheaper than paying roaming charges.

Yacht Condition

Overall condition and appearance very good. Extremely clean and all major systems functional. Equipped with dockside AC (not used). Engine-charged refrigeration required 4 hours a day running of engine at 0.25 gal/hour at about1600 rpm. Refrigeration was excellent and all of our food kept well for the 9 days aboard. The yacht has no built-in inverter but Barefoot supplied a small inverter at no-charge which was adequate for our low-power 120V-AC needs. Other notables: Main plow anchor had 50 feet of heavy chain and 150feet of line. Secondary Danforth anchor had no chain and 200 feet of line. Both anchors were substantial.

The Crew

Walt (Capt.), Barb, Woody & Lisa. Woody and Lisa and their 3 daughters sailed with us in the US/BVI two years ago and loved it. We’re already talking about another trip in 2011.

Problems / Surprises

Battery troubles: During the first day’s sail we had both the ground and +12V terminals on both batteries come loose which caused loss of instruments, autopilot, and ability to start engine (this later failure was only discovered upon-arrival at Mustique). We located the fault, filed, cleaned, and treated the connections and re-tightened them, and had no further problems for the rest of the trip.

Busted shower heads: Both shower heads below were broken. Not a big issue because without A/C we all preferred to shown on the transom anyway… much cooler. The transom shower head worked great and had both hot and cold water.

Linens: We didn’t receive any tea-towels or washcloths. On the plus side we did get extra sheets and pillow-cases, and plenty of towels which were much appreciated. It was hot sleeping below and having fresh-sheets mid-charter was a treat.

Water problem: Being extra frugal we used only ½ of our water in the first 6-1/2 days, refilled, and then went through both tanks on the 8th day. We did not hear the water pump cycling continuously and it remains a mystery why we ran through all of our water. Baths on the last day were taken with bottled water!

Provisions

We bought 7 days provisions with 4 dinners and this was plenty of food for a 9 day charter. Quality was very good. The fruits and vegetables were exotic and excellent, though we really had received too much and had to throw some away because we could not eat it before it went bad. We brought food back and donated it to the dock staff. Some food / drink items missing or substituted. No biggie. Gin was substituted for a bottle of rum, and a mutiny was narrowly averted by swapping it back. We got an ‘allowance’ for fish to buy from boat boys vs. having the meat provided. I think this is a good plan vs. trying to keep fish fresh for more than a week. Getting a fruit/veggie allowance might also be a good idea. Plenty of opportunities exist for getting these along the way.

Yacht Performance

Wind Dancer sailed to weather better than any cruising boat I’ve ever chartered. She tacked through about 100 degrees, even with the in-mast furled battenless main. This rig is not known for up-wind performance, She liked to have about 4-5 turns of furling on the main and jib when the winds exceeded 20 knots. We had clearly done something to torque-off the wind-Gods because we were close-hauled during 90% of our trip – sailing upwind both down to the Grenadines and back to St.Vincent. This would have been a huge issue with a catamaran, but wind-dancer would do 4.5-5.0 knots at a true-wind angle of about 45-degrees into 15-20 knot winds. The main traveler must be used with care to optimize up-wind performance. Cracked off the wind on a close-reach she would do 5.5-6.5 knots without trouble in 15-20 knots of apparent wind. The bottom was pretty gunky and I’m sure she’d do better after a clean-up.

Some recommendations

All lines were fed to the cockpit in a very orderly fashion except that the starboard lines were not rigged correctly, all being slipped to stbd one-slot in the sheaves and guides. This did not really cause any problems but should probably be re-rigged. The main furling in-haul (white with red and black specks) was ALMOST the same color as another line I believe was the jib halyard (white with red specks) and this caused us a bit of confusion a couple of times. These lines are VERY easy to confuse and right next to each other.

The bow-rollers were extremely tight and both anchors were mounted on the bows. This led to endless jamming of the anchors and finally we lifted the flukes of the port Danforth above the retaining bale on the roller in an attempt to gain clearance for the plow, but it was a mediocre fix. We constantly had jams coming in and going out. It would probably be worth stowing the Danforth in a locker.

Anchoring: I like to put out a lot of scope, and we were constantly running through the 50-feet of chain and putting out line as well. This resulted in having to transition on the windlass from chain to line going out, and line to chain coming it. It’s a royal pain, and I was constantly worried that somebody was going to bungle the transition and get a hand trapped in the windlass. It would be FAR BETTER to simply have 100 feet of chain and 100 feet of line on the primary anchor. One typically anchors in 9-15 feet of water, so 100 feet of chain would be suitable for most anchorage.

Recommend Barefoot supply clothes pins for drying towels and clothes on the lifelines while at anchor.

Overall: We were very happy with the boat and would charter from Barefoot again.

The Planned Itinerary
First night: Mustique.
Last night: Bequia.
In-between: At the whim of crew, wind and tide.

First day, Saturday May 22, Travel day:

The Admiral (Barb) and I flew in a day early to give us an extra day to catch up on our sleep, and also so we could see some of the island before jumping aboard Wind Dancer. Up at 2am… took American Airlines flight at 6am from Dulles to Miami and then on to Barbados. Liat (Luggage In Another Town) managed to misplace one bag (my clothes) during the last leg to St. Vincent. All I could think was “Thank the Lord it was not the toy-bag they lost!” We bring more toys than clothes! Arrived St. Vincent at 7pm completely exhausted. We stayed right there at Barefoot, and the accommodations were nice. The air conditioner was not quite up to the drill, but it was cool enough for sleeping. We ate dinner there at Barefoot – the pizza is excellent and the beer ice cold! We flopped into bed early and dreamed of snorkeling with turtles.

Second day, Sunday May 23, Ashore on St. Vincent:

Slept in and had a late breakfast at Barefoot. Very nice. Just before noon we got hooked up with Kaishawn (I really have no idea how to spell his name) and his taxi and we went off for a 7-hour road-trip exploring St. Vincent.

We headed north to Kingstown, and Kaishawn was an excellent tour guide… both knowledgeable and funny. St. Vincent is extremely lush with rich volcanic soil so basically everything grows there. The island is beautiful, and hosts the oldest Botanical Garden in the Western hemisphere – started in the 1700’s. Early specimens were brought in by Capt. Blight after he returned to service after the mutiny on The Bounty. Even though it was a holiday, somehow Kaishawn had arranged for Christian Daniel to give us a private tour of the gardens and it was wonderful. We could not have been more pleased. Daniel lived there on the property for 10 years in what is now the museum. He walked us around and showed us everything. He was very animated and he kept us laughing the whole time. What a treat! He sold us some nutmeg collected right there at the gardens for our coveted painkillers. It was excellent! After the tour we bought a round of beer for everyone at an impromptu roadside stand right there at the gardens… and then another round!

Thus fortified we started north again. I told Kaishawn that we’d love to try some local food so he pulled over to a tiny roadside stand that had a little hibachi going and got us some toasted corn on the cob and the best mangos I’ve ever eaten. Kaishawn said he basically lives on fruits and vegetables, though he owns a goat of which he said “some day soon I’m gonna eat his ass!” This had us laughing out loud! He tells us that there are 28 different kinds of mangos grown on St. Vincent! The toasted corn was good, though it was very small – popcorn-sized.

We nibbled corn and mangos on the way to Wallilabou Bay where Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed. The bay is very pretty and surrounded by high hills and cliffs. It’s not a big thing, but we enjoyed seeing it, and had a nice lunch with Kaishawn, where we were introduced to Mt. Gay Extra Strong Rum (170 proof) and this made further travels of the day very relaxed. You can take a boat tour to the caves around the north point, but we had other plans. Next time! Then we were off to Wallilabou falls to cool off and caper in the cool water for a while. There are some old ruins at the falls that look to have been built hundreds of years ago that add to the timeless aura of the place.

Kaishawn said there was a steel-band contest in Kingtown, so we headed back to town and were treated with some outstanding music accompanied by Hairoun beer. Kaishawn tells us the Hairoun means “Land of the blessed” and the island was so named until it was renamed to St. Vincent by the British. St. Vincent gained independence from the crown only recently…. 1979. I think it would be fitting if they changed the name back!

Keeping an eye on the clock, we enjoyed our libations and steel band music until it was time to meet the rest of our crew (Woody and Lisa) at the airstrip. Woody also lost a bag (Lisa swears she saw it get on a flight to Antigua) but Kaishawn saved the day by bringing it to us at about 9:30pm that night. My bag of clothing also arrived that evening. All’s well that ends well. What a glorious and full day. We had a blast! Everyone we met was warm, friendly, and truly interesting to talk with. Then it was back to Barefoot for more pizza, Hairoun Beer, and off to bed to dream of the high adventure that awaited tomorrow aboard Wind Dancer.

To be continued...

Here's a picture of the Blue Lagoon and Barefoot Yacht charters dock. Wind Dancer is the sloop on the left side of the dock.

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