Yesterday (Wednesday, Nov 12th), the sun was shining accompanied with a nice breeze. When we looked out, it looked like a regatta with the the sail boats racing to leave St George's. Unfortunately we had to wait for our propane bottle to be filled as well as the laundry to be done. But the current weather was encouraging, especially what we had experienced a few days back during the south passage, so the plan was made to start our Christmas pilgrimage to St Anne, Martinique on Thursday, November 13th, 2014. First stop Carriacou, about 28 miles away, part of Grenada. Major mistake number one.
When we woke up around 6:00 am in the morning, we heard the puttering of the rain, but did not think anything of it, since there was no wind to speak of. As well, the clouds seemed to concentrate on the island and the northern regions appeared clear. Nevertheless, Al checked several sites for the forecast, and could not see any disturbance other than "winds 10 to 15 knots, seas 3 to 5 feet" for the whole week. However, when Al looked at the French site which shows the current satellite images of the weather systems, we saw that there was a major one located on Trinidad/Tobago and Grenada, with multiple cells of heavy rain. That site used to show animated doppler images of the region which showed the recent (last three hours) direction of the moving weather systems locally, but not any more. Like everything else the app was updated, and the most important feature was dropped. We looked at the image, but thought that it was localized in the south - we were going north east. Major mistake number 2.
It takes about two hours to motor up to the north west corner of Grenada (it is Gros Point, but turning around it and hugging the north shore up to Tanga Luanga is recommended, in order to be able to point to the narrow passage between the Sisters rocks and the hard place, namely Kick' em Jenny (the underwater active volcano zone).
Last time we passed through there, which was about the same time of the year, it was dead calm but so foggy that we became anxious about another sailboat crossing paths with us. That was the only stress I had encountered then.
This time, there was only one boat way ahead of us that we could have a glimpse of once in a while. Other than that and the fast Carriacou ferry, the sea was deserted. At times visibility was close to nil, due to heavy rain, with erratic winds varying between 15 to 28 knots because of different storm cells here and there, and east to west currents with short swells, after turning Gros Point.
When we left Grenada and approached the Sister rocks, rain was a major problem, but the seas had not gained momentum yet. As we wanted to stay away from Kick'em Jenny, Al steered toward the Sisters, which are in front of a small island called Round Rock, and changed the route as soon as we avoided the no-passage zone (1.5 km radius) around the volcano. Thankfully, the rain somewhat abated to give us a clear visual, otherwise it would have been quite stressful to pass through the invisible narrow channel.
As soon as we cleared the lee of the Rock Island, the sea hit us with such force that Al thought we were tilting to the left. Our brita pitcher flew down and flooded (!) the floor, giving us a near heart attack to boot. Apparently the narrow channel between Rock Island and the Diamond rock a little furher, accelerated the sea towards us with the current.
It was interesting to note that the waves were not all that high, but they were irregular and full of force. It was not possible to move around in the boat, without holding on with two hands, not just usual one. And the rain. Poor Al was soaked through before halfway down, despite his rain jacket; and had to change all his clothes. Unheard-of for us. The times and the duration that we wear our rain-gear is limited. I can only think of a couple of times, but I usually go in during rain, since my part of the seat at the cock-pit is not sheltered by the bimini.
In short, the sigh of relief for passing the danger zone without a hitch, turned into more stress and discomfort when the side beating of the open sea started. Since visibility is almost nil, Carriacou seemed an ocean away, while Ruyam II slowly bobbed through the relentless waves. After about an hour and a half, north side of Tyrrell Bay became visible, and the rest was easy, since the shelter of the cluster of islands to the south of Carriacou slowly tamed the sea. We quickly entered the bay and anchored in 10 feet of water. We were fortunate enough to find a place which was not too close to our neighbours, which is not the case most of the time, since Tyrrell Bay is quite popular for its western location and calm waters.
First thing we did was to eat something around 2:00 pm and rush to the Customs & Immigration located next to the Carriacou Marina, to get our clearance. Next stop Canouan, Grenadines.