12. November 2022

Sailing Log: Grenada Circumnavigation

From Carriacou to the south of Grenada and back again, then further north. That’s about the plan as we set off. We have to return to Grenada to pick up some boat parts that friends have kindly flown in from the UK, plus we can pick up five sacrificial anodes for our problem prop from another sailor.

Tyrell Bay – Prickly Bay

o off we go from Tyrell Bay, Carriacou, in the north of Grenada, along the windward side of Grenada towards the south. Our destination for the day is Prickly Bay. It is only a stone’s throw from Woburn Bay, where it all began.

Sundowner with Rajesh and his family (BoatCast E13) and Riki and Martin and their daughters (BoatCast E16) in the evening before leaving for Grenada.

We set the main in the first reef at eight o’clock in the morning, pull up the anchor and glide silently through the still calm bay, past what feels like 100 cruisers anchored in Tyrell Bay. Shortly after we unfurl the genoa completely in 12 knots of wind and head downwind towards the northwest tip of Grenada. We now have the open Atlantic on the windward side for the next few hours, and Grenada’s mostly rugged coastline to leeward.

Overcast, but still dry

The forecast is for constant, moderate easterly winds with cloudy skies. The reality is somewhat different. We keep seeing different rain systems moving around us. Or rather, we move around them. In the process, they give us constantly changing wind conditions, as rain clouds always push a lot of air in front of them.

As soon as one rain cloud has passed over us and the wind dies down again, we can already see the next one coming, which we try to get around again. This means a lot of work on deck: we keep the main in the first reef until the end, but furl the genoa in and out, depending on the wind strength. Mabul remains amazingly balanced, as if she almost doesn’t care if the sail areas in front of and behind the mast are balanced.

More than once we get wet on the way to the south of Grenada and seek shelter in the companionway

While Mabul sails calmly through the Atlantic, the ever increasing waves, the constantly changing winds and the downpours rub us up the wrong way. We seek shelter in the companionway until the rain has passed and the weather clears. But with the rain and the rain clouds, unfortunately, the wind also leaves us. After two minutes of the sails making only noise instead of propulsion, we start the engine ten miles from our destination and continue under motor.

After six and a half hours and 38 nautical miles we arrive exhausted in Prickly Bay, drop anchor and go to sleep. Not quite, but almost…

Life is a dance

In the three days until the onward journey, we do 1000 things on the first day. Stocking up on provisions, buying boat parts, getting cash and picking up the anodes are just a few of them. After all the shopping is stowed back on Mabul, we meet up in the evening with our sailor friends Kim and Ann, whose niece has brought us some technical gadgets and boat parts from the UK. After four incredibly strong rum punches, we zigzag the dinghy home looking for Mabul. With the hangover that follows we decide: Some relaxation is urgently needed.

A resort from the inside!

So we catch a buoy for ten US dollars in True Blue Bay. We heard that we are allowed to use two pools and the whole resort area. Including hot showers! Best deal for a long time. After two days of good food, long showers, lots of pool and relaxation we pack up again and tie the dinghy on Mabul’s stern.

True Blue Bay – Tyrell Bay

Today we set sail to say goodbye to Grenada at least for now. Our destination is Tyrell Bay, which is very familiar to us by now. It offers us an easy anchorage for the night and we can clear out here to sail on to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

We set off in the morning in beautiful weather on a beam reach course with southeast wind along the south coast of Grenada. We jibe at the southwest point and somehow manage to leave a large, modern catamaran behind us. On a broad reach course we have with our Mabul against such a thing actually nothing to oppose.

The wind slowly shifts to the east and we sail on the wind directly towards our destination. On the windward side of Grenada we have flat seas and make over seven knots of speed in 13 knots of wind. And that with the first reef in the main, that’s how it should be!

And then… dead calm. The wind now even comes from the northwest with two to three knots, crazy. We already know the area and also the weather models predicted it correctly. However, a bypass means at least 20 miles extra. We furl the Genoa, get the main tight and continue under motor.

While we are sailing along in absolutely calm seas, Karin sees strange spray and something dark in the water half a nautical mile away. A look through the binoculars reveals: Whales! They are whales, and then some!

Sperm whales on the west coast of Grenada

Immediately we take direct course on them, we drive anyway under engine. A good distance away I go into neutral and we gently glide out at two and a half knots. Karin and I both stand at the bow, the autopilot takes over the helm as long as we are still moving. We get closer and closer to the whales, which seem to be just hanging around and make no effort to move. Karin counts ten whales, probably more, there is another group than the one we are still heading for. We have slowed down significantly, but not quite as much as I had hoped. One of what we later google, sperm whales, dives off to the side just inches in front of us and silently disappears under Mabul. I almost expect a collision, but fortunately it doesn’t happen.

That was close

After this unfortunate action had split up the group, we turn away and drive with generous distance to a second group a few hundred meters away. I still can’t quite believe what I’m seeing. I love the underwater world and try to explore it as intensively as possible. I have never seen whales, although I have spent some time at, on and in the sea. However, I have not looked for them specifically.

We set course for Carriacou again and hope for wind as soon as we have passed the high hills of Grenada. After five miles the wind turns back to east with constant 15 knots and we enjoy the view of the passing water. Our thoughts are still with the sperm whales. Simply fantastic this moment.

Final sprint: Mabul rushes with almost 8 knots towards Carriacou.

We sail a dream leg in a long, but quite high wave. Mabul cuts through gently and can be steered with the little finger. We sail without even a maneuver into the bay and throw after almost exactly 40 miles in Tyrell Bay again our hook.

We want to clear out tomorrow and finally start our journey north.

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