Michael and Susan left Florida in 2007 aboard their Westsail 43 INFINI to fullfill a dream of full time cruising.
6-4 Safe arrival in Chaguaramas, Trinidad
Pos: N10deg40.75min / W061deg38.15min. I'd been watching the weather for the last week and determined Friday would be the most optimal day for departure. Ordinarily, we don't leave on passage on a Friday, but we deemed the upcoming passage as a continuation from islands further north, so rationalized our departure day. The passage from Prickly Bay, Grenada to Chaguaramas, Trinidad is about 85nm, and entry into one of the Boca entrances has to be timed to not encounter too much adverse current. We chose to leave at 1600 hours, figuring on an AM arrival and favorable tide. There was a new moon, and still a bit of concern about Venezuelan (presumably) pirates operating near the Trinidad offshore oil platforms that are on the rhumb line from PB to Chag. We filed a Float Plan with the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard, and also let Jesse James know of our plans. The 150' anchor chain started coming up at 1545. Unfortunately, I wasn't paying that close attention, the chain bunched up in the hawse instead of falling down into the locker, and when I pushed the remote to reverse, somehow the whole mess started running overboard a hundred miles an hour, under the windless wildcat! Don't try to grab that chain; you'll lose your hand. Fortunately, after about 250 feet of chain went to the bottom, it slowed down enough for me to grab it and toss it back onto the wildcat (that holds the chain). Wow, Ok, deep breath...let's try this whole thing again. This time, I did pay attention to where the chain was going, tapped it down like I was supposed to when we deploy 150' or more, and everything went fine. With a single reef in the main and staysail set, we got underway, avoiding the Porpoises Reef nearby the entrance to Prickly Bay and getting settled in for our first overnight sail in a while. With no moon, seeing the squalls was going to be more challenging, evidenced by getting hit with 32 knots and driving rain with the full jib out. I'd like to say "no drama," but that'd be somewhat of an exaggeration. We managed to get the sail in and took our second deep breath...Hmmm. The first third of the passage continued overcast and squally. We had wanted to head far east around the Poinsettia oil platform, but that proved impossible with the E-ESE winds. I should note that I didn't see any ESE winds in any of the weather forecasts I reviewed. Plan B - go directly between the Poinsettia and Hibiscus platforms, staying just shy of 5nm away from each. That worked pretty well. The wind stayed mostly E at 18-22; and our boat speed was good. As we got about 25nm away from Grenada, things smoothed out and we had a pleasant middle third of our passage. We were able to make out the darker clouds against a somewhat lighter sky with stars, so were able to reef further when the winds got up. Past the platforms, as expected, the wind fizzled and we had to motor. Or, at least we tried to. Our start battery hadn't been used all that much, so I used the combiner switch to connect the house and start batteries; it's used for exactly this kind of situation. I turned the key...no alarm, no Balmar reading, the engine did start but there was no alternator output....what the hell? Quick, shut down and start checking things over. In a few minutes I found that the 300 Amp fuse at the start battery for the combiner pathway had fried. What? Imagine the load that went to it! Changing to a new fuse, I told Sue we probably had one chance to get the engine going; we took it and held our breath. Yes...alarms, alternator output, propulsion...everything checked out properly. And that was actually a very good thing, as the current was so strong, and the wind so variable, that even with the engine going 1600 rpm's, we were only doing 3.5-4 knots or so! That made the third deep breath of this short passage...Yep, the last 20 miles were motoring...very slowly. We missed the flood tide by about an hour, but you don't wait outside the Boca for exacting conditions; you just have to take what you get. What we got was 2.5-3.5 knots of boat speed with that adverse current! Ho hum. Of course, going into the very crowded moorage and marina areas we had the flood tide and were making 6.5 knots and I had to go into neutral to slow down! We picked up a mooring directly between Power Boats and Peake's, launched the dinghy, and I went in to Officialdom while Sue stayed aboard to straighten up. We're here, checked in, all's good. It's been an interesting 85 nm but now it's time to relax...after all, it is my birthday! Pic: The view from our mooring of the Power Boats complex.