Monday, May 12, 2014


On 23rd of April, 2014 at 6:30 am we weighed anchor for the last time for the season at St George's and started the trip to St David's. We made this trip once last year, starting at Clarke's Court, which is located at the middle of the south coast, St David's being almost at the east end. However we had sailed (motored really)  from St George's to Clarke's Court countless times last year, so we know the way like the palm of our hands. I did not feel the need to look at my chart, since the yellow GPS tracks from last year show the safe path, a band really, after saving our multiple trips.
The winds were expected to be 15-20 from south east - our luck really, the worst direction for the wind, since the swells hit from the side, coupled with the current being against as well.

About 45 minutes after starting, we came to the south-west corner (Saline Point) with the help of the favorable current up to there. Once one turns east, one is caught at the washing machine where two opposing currents meet.  Since there is also a small island to the south (Glower Island), very close to the shore, the current in the channel between is the strongest.

We turned east and soldiered on. The most we could do was 4 knots, but mostly 3. Thankfully the way is not that long, and we know all the danger points, first The Porpoises, the three rocks at the south of Prickly Point, which are kind of visible in calmer weather, but almost awash in high swells. But we know where to look, so spotted them. In fact, passing close to Prickly is safer than going too far.

The next danger is Tara shoal before Hog Island, and we know that too. The green colour of the reefs are almost visible and quite far when taking a dead east route from Prickly, instead of turning towards the Calivgny Point. Entrance to Clark's Court is marked by a series of green buoys, which come quite far to the south. We had safely entered many times as our tracks show. While slowly progressing among the swells which looked like mountains coming towards us, I saw one swell that crashed quite violently at our port side, quite close to us. We both saw the depth finder showing 8 ft under us. Al immediately swerved to starboard, and reached the 25 ft zone, running parallel to the coast. Then we remembered that the first green buoy marking the shoal of 12 ft at the GPS map is not existing. The first time we entered Clark's Court, we had wondered about that, and thought that it was not necessary. It became obvious that when the seas are high, there is no margin of error for the lowest point of the swell. That was scary, and again complacency. This time it was my fault, if I had  looked, I would have forced Al to keep a safe distance.

After 3 hours, we reached the rock that marks the east side of the bay of St David's. Entrance to the bay is also tricky because of the reefs at the middle, but well marked. However, while turning to north to enter the bay, a huge wave crashed over us and soaked both of us at the helm, at the very last moment. But hey, we were there. The way was unexpectedly memorable. Usually we avoid sailing in adverse conditions, but when pressed for time, one does not have much choice.

We docked at the marina (at one of three berths) but the rolls were unbelievable. Al was convinced that the lines were going to brake the cleats on the boat by pulling on one and the other in turns. And the noise, it was not possible to sleep all  night.

The next morning at 8:30 am, Ruyam II got transported to land, to a convenient location, right across the gate to the marina.

We worked for three days to get it ready to close up. When we leave it clean and make it air tight, is stays free of mold or dust. Then we said good by to RUYAM II until November.


Everyday we compained about the wind and cool weather this year, and we did not see the balmy weather hot enough to warm our bones (Turkish saying). At whatever anchorage we stayed, the wind kept on coming with a whistle (sometimes over 25 knots) even in the lee of high islands like St Lucia and Dominica, nights felt cool. We were hoping to find warmer temperatures in Grenada, but not much changed even there.

Imagine how we might have felt about the weather news from Canada, highest expected temperature on our arrival in Toronto being a meere 9 degrees C. This is all to say that we are not very thrilled about going back; however, we missed our chidren and friends and were looking forward to the 23rd of April. That is the day of travelling to St Davies to take Ruyam II on hard.

We did our rounds of saying good-bye to our friends (mostly the people at the marina, yacht club and who work at the shops that we frequent), and filled our time by mostly swimming and reading. One day Al looked up from the extension of his hand (his Samsung smart phone) and declared that a lunar eclipse was expected on the 15th of the month, very early in the morning, at 3:30 am eastern time. We could not figure out in what time zone the info on the eclipse was refering to, so set the alarm for 3:00.

When the moon is full, it usually shines in my eyes through the hatch window. Most of the time I get annoyed from the bright light and wake up . That night I woke up before the alarm at 2:30, apparently because of the change in the brightness; it must have felt quite dark all of a sudden. I rushed outside, and saw that only a small crescent was visible, the rest of the moon looked like an orange circle. Both of us settled at the aft deck under the starboard vinch, wearing lightweight jackets, and started to watch (see, it was cold at night). Al had read that it was going to last for about an hour and a half, so the change from crescent to full hollow circle was gradual.

After about ten minutes, Al decided that this eclipse was not as spectacular as the one we had witnessed the last time, while we were visiting Lido Cay, Sarasota in Florida, US. At the time, we were staying at a holiday complex, which had been reincarnated from a motel at the beach. Two rooms back and front were joined to create one-bedroom suites, with a bathroom and open concept kitchenette. My colleauge had bought one of those units about twenty years previously for US$15,000.-, which had been rented out when she was not using it. She had said that it had been the single best investment she had made in her life. When we had inquired about the price of the same unit, it had appreciated ten times. We had even contemplated on buying something like that to use for out retirement, but found the prices too high. We felt quite lucky in our decision against buying, after the great crush in the US real-estate market. As well, we would not have our current life-style, which would be a great pity.

Anyway, the previous eclispe had been so fast, that the progress of the shadow was visible. We had brought our picnic chairs to the beach facing the Gulf  which was very dark and enjoyed sitting there among some people watching the show.
This time we were the only people up, and there was some competing lights from the land around us. As well for half an hour the shadow did not change. After ten minutes Al decided to go back to sleep. I sat a little longer, but a huge cloud came and blocked the view. So I had no choise but go down.

The next morning we had to get water from the Yacht club for the last time. The fuel dock for the club is a bit cumbersome, the water around it narrow and shallow, and the wind usually blows away from it, so manuvering can be slow and difficult. However, Al has been very good at using the double engines to rotate the boat instead of the helm.

When we approached the dock, Kiran was waiting, so I threw the front line, and he loosely tied it. After one line is tied, there is not much to worry about usually. Wrong this time! The angle of Ruyam II was wrong, the aft being too far away, nose too close to the boat tied at the other side of the fuel dock. Did I mention that the fuel dock is about two feet wide, and goes as far as the front half of that boat.

When I threw the aft line, it fell in water, and Kiran could only catch it after the third try. In the meantime Al kept on going forward, and hit the other boat. Not very hard, mind you, but enough to make me miserable. It was the last time! And I could not understand why, I could not see the reason for Al to go forward instead of back without changing the angle.

Kiran ran to the boat after securely tying us to check the damage. Al was at his heels of course. Thankfully that particular boat had an aluminum gunwale running along the whole edge, and our smart Ruyam II only touched one point with its port nose. It was hard to see the damage, but Al put his finger on the small dent on the aluminum, and instructed Kiran to talk to the owner, to ask what he would like to do about it.
Next morning, while I was dealing with the laundry, Kiran gave the good news that the boat owner did not mind the incident, mentioning that those things happen all the time. Phew! What a relief.

When I asked Al what happened, he said that he was using the helm this time, instead of locking it and steering with varying the speed and direction of the two engines, and used too much power when the wind lost its strength for a moment.
I think that we started to get complacent, after becoming too proficient, and not pay our full attention. This should be a wake up call.

On Sunday, we heard about an activity to take place at Port Louis marina, so we went to check it out. At first we thought it was going to be a regatta, but could not see any activity outside the lagoon. When we dinghied to the usual dock at the marina, we were told to tie somewhere else, because of the swimmers. Really, somebody is going to swim in that cess-pit! When we got to the centre of the activity, we saw that it was a tri-atalon, and the poor young girls and guys actually swam there, biked and ran in different age groups. There were a good number of competitors, and a large crowd of spectators, having fun with food and drinks listening to very loud music. We spent a little time and had hamburgers and beer, but could not stand the loud music for too long.