It is high time for a new post. So many miles have been sailed and so many things have happened since our last one.
We are anchored with a dozen fishing boats, in a small bay at Petit Martinique. As the name says, a very small island with a few hundred inhabitants just South of the Grenadines. Not to mix up with its bigger brother Martinique a few hundred miles from here. A great place to reflect on the last months here in the Caribbean. At the beginning of this year, I lost a few good friends which make me realize how lucky we are to sail the world and show all those incredible places to our guests.
After Cape Verdes, Andrés and Thays sailed DISCOVERY to Antigua and ran the first trip in the Caribbean. It turns out Antigua and Barbuda is a kiter- and (during this trip) wing foiler paradise. Two weeks later in St Maarten, we took over the boat, stocked up, and flew in new equipment. We upgraded the electric system with Lithium Batteries, new Solar panels, and chargers. The result is that we get closer to our goal to be carbon neutral. We don’t have to use the generator anymore to make our daily electricity. Only if we run the water maker or the air-conditioning, do we still have to use the generator. Fortunately, we stay in windy places and hardly ever need air-conditioning.
A 3-day crossing brought us to St. Vincent, part of the Grenadines. We explored a few islands in the next few days and prepared for the first Grenadines trip. Before every trip, we spend two to three days cleaning, shopping, and preparing food. We spend one-day grocery shopping, fueling up, and getting supplies. In places like this shopping is very different from let’s say the more Western world. You take a taxi or in this case one of the group taxis racing up and down the island. This is an experience in itself. For less than a dollar, they cramp 18-20 people into a minibus and try to drive as fast as they can, while playing very loud reggae music, breaking hard for anyone who needs a ride. We go to the fruit- and vegetable market, the fish market, a few different supermarkets, and normally a hardware store. We spend half a day running around with big bags, going from one place to the other.
In my life, I have been in this area many times but always with big breaks in between. It amazes me and also makes me happy, that not much has changed in the last 40 years. The fishermen still fish in their little boats, and the villages are still friendly places full of people who live at a slower pace. The supermarkets still have a lot of shelves with very little on them. Life is still simple here, but also hard. Covid dried up tourism for two years and many are struggling. The fact that very few are complaining, speaks for the way they see life.
Kiting and wing foiling here is breathtaking. Although winter is the windier time, the winds were still good in June and July. We sailed down to the Tobago Cays and spend most of our time going from one spot to the next, always anchored in 10 feet of clear turquoise water while you see the sting rays and turtles swimming around the boat.
We literary had a rough start with our second trip. A super early tropical depression showed up on the radar. You see those coming about 3-5 days out. At the same time, you are not exactly sure what path they will take. A tropical depression is fine, mostly just some rain and gusty winds but some of them turn into a hurricane, which is not fine. You have to make decisions, do I stay here or look for a hurricane hole, sail down South, what do I prepare for? The closer the depression got, the clearer it became that it wasn’t turning into something nasty. We, and the boats around us, prepared any way. Apart from a few cloudy days and heavy rain, it turned out to be fine. Unfortunately, one of our guests, Rebecca, got stuck in Trinidad for two days because the airline didn’t want to fly in uncertain weather. After we all got reunited on Union Island we had a fun trip with daily kiting, good food, and lots of storytelling around the dinner table.
After the last trip, we sailed to Trinidad to get DISCOVERY out of the water for a fresh underwater paint job, finished installing our upgrades, and another 101 things on the to-do list. What most people don’t know is that there are two hotspots of piracy in the world and I don’t mean the illegal copying of music. It is West Africa and the Venezuelan coast. Trinidad is only 10 miles away from Venezuela and in the last 10 years, there have been some pirate attacks in this area. That’s why it is advised to cross in the cover of darkness and arrive there in the early morning hours. On your way, you have to zig-zag between restricted areas with oil platforms. It is fair to say we didn’t get much sleep.
Our welcome to Trinidad was majestic. A group of dolphins showed up between the small islands in the channel where you enter Trinidad. Big grey dolphins with white marks, beautiful. In Trinidad, we worked on DISCOVERY 3 weeks straight, through rain, tropical heat, mosquitoes, dirty water, and the typical afternoon thunderstorm. What can I say, life on board is not always a fairytale. Needless to say, in the end, we were ready to leave this place which reminded us a lot of Venezuela, dirty, corrupt, and criminal. I must say, they do have a great boat yard with very helpful and friendly people.
The crossing back was one big glide. The new antifouling underwater paint made a difference in our speed. We were doing 8 knots in 11 knots of wind (in boat terms that is pretty awesome). A smooth sail to Carriacou took us back to the beauty of the Caribbean. We could see the bottom again when we anchored, went for a good-morning swim before breakfast, and had a nice trade wind to cool us off. Now we have a few weeks for smaller maintenance jobs and some well deserved watertime for ourselves.