one way, Trip Report Feb 9th thru Feb 18 on a Moorings 4800.
Pictures here, https://jccarr.smugmug.com/St-Lucia-to-Grenada-2017/
Day 1 Travel:
airlines from the Midwest with one connection to most spots in the Caribbean
has worked well for us over the years and this year was no exception. Depart Wichita at 6:00AM and be in St Lucia
at 3:30PM the same day is pretty good service
. While on the travel, we were able to depart Grenada
late afternoon on Saturday the 18, overnight in Atlanta and arrive back to Wichita Sunday morning. This worked great with a noon return time for the boat
, so we put in a good morning’s sail the day of our departure.
On arrival to St Lucia we rented a car from Sixt. We reserved a SUV but all they had was a very small Chevy Spark. It was a hatch
back and the back seat folded down for cargo so we went with it. The Sixt people were very nice, helpful and even provided their personal cell phone
number if we had any issues. Driving in St Lucia is no problem; I would not hesitate to do it again. Sixt has an office in Rodney Bay basically next door to the Moorings office for the drop off, it could not have been a better arrangement.
Day 2 Provisions, Boat
Briefing and boarding
Jennifer and I arrived one day ahead of the rest of the crew to shop for provisions and get the boat and chart briefings. We stayed at the Coco Palm, it was reasonable, clean and nice. We checked out of the hotel
and dropped all our stuff at the Moorings office. The Moorings folks told us that we could board the boat when it was ready and we did not need to wait till 6:00pm. What a great relief, we had been worried about storing perishable provisions between shopping
in the morning, the 3:00 boat brief and the 6:00 boarding time. We are noticing that everybody is very helpful; this little offer solved
a big logistics problem for us. Jennifer puts the provisions away, I attend the briefings and we are done at 4:30 just in time for the crew arrival. We had a cold beer
for the crew on arrival, dinner at the sushi place at the dock
; it was very good and very reasonable. We checked out of St Lucia at the customs
office at the marina this afternoon to enable an early departure, more on customs
, Shop at the Massy store in the Baywalk Mall, there is a parking structure entrance on the east side. Don’t try to find 12oz beers, they don’t exist just buy more of the mini beers. They don’t seem to display all the beer
options in a case, ask. This is a large store and you should find what you need, however it was slim pickens for the tequila options. We did shop at 2 Massy stores, the one at the mall was by far bigger and had more selection. One more note on the shopping, next time I would provision from Moorings, I had looked on line and the prices looked out of line. I think I was looking at the price
in EC, it looked 2.7 times too much. I have not verified this so check it out yourself. I was told the website can display in either currency. When buying
30 gallons of water
, 5 cases of beer plus a lot of other stuff, it would be nice to have the bulk of it delivered. You can fill up a Chevy Spark pretty quick.
The chart brief was one on one and very informative. I was counting to learn the local area, security
, where to go, where not to go, and customs procedures and I accomplished all of that. Here is the short Summary, Don’t stop in St Vincent, make passages on the west side of the St Vincent and Grenada, lock your dinghy
, lock your boat when you leave, take your cash with you when you leave the boat, enter Tobago
Cays via northern channel and exit the same way, use the moorings balls if available. Plus info was provided on what things cost, customs ext. I felt well prepared for the trip.
Day 3 Rodney Bay to the Pitons
We did not get as early start as I intended, I had checked the propane
level late the previous night and it was very low. Turns out the guys had an issue changing the bottle which required a trip to the Chandlery
for a new part by the Moorings mechanic
. We depart at about 10:00AM. It is 23 miles to the Pitons, the winds were useable but could have been stronger. I sailed 3 or more miles off shore but the island seemed to turn that ENE wind
into more of a following wind
. On arriving at the Pitons we see a Cat approaching from the south but we are significantly closer to the area between the pitons to pick up a ball. We see one open ball and head
that way, a boat boy approaches and prior to getting to say hello he quickly turns and heads to the other Cat, I think what did I do. It took me a minute to figure out his business motives, he makes a deal with the second cat to secure that mooring
ball prior to our arrival. Even though I figured it out pretty quickly and brought the power up to cruise rpm
, he beat me to the ball. I would have never guessed he could beat us with the distance he traveled both out and back. Fortunately there was one other ball we found closer in near Sugar Beach. FYI, there are plenty of other good spots to moor just north Petit Piton, I just wanted to be between the two Pitons. The mooring
looks good and survives a good backing down to test strength.
Time for a beer and some of the crew goes snorkeling north of Sugar Beech. While swimming to the snorkeling area the crew finds a submerged mooring ball. We also see boat boy tend to another submerged ball near our location. My speculation is the boat boys are creating mooring ball shortages and building the mooring securing business demand by hiding some of the balls. So my advice
when approached by a boat boy into the Pitons unless the area is not very full is to give them 20EC to save you a ball. They will have better luck finding them than you.
On the trip down I noted the boat’s steering
was pretty stiff when the rudders were having to do work
. The autopilot
had also gave up and would not work
for the last 10 miles. We dove the rudders upon arrival at the Pitons thinking we may have snagged something along the way but no luck. We called the Mooring service
guy and we answered some basic questions, he sends a Soufriere based boat mechanic
to access the situation. His diagnosis was “it’s bad”, he called the Moorings base and they immediately round up a crew of 3 and send us a brand new boat
. We have several hours warning on the swap so we packed our stuff and load it out to the back of the boat. Upon the new boat
arrival, the other Captain
and I head
to Soufriere to meet a Customs officer at 9:00 PM to square away the boat papers. Moorings arranged everything and covered all the overtime cost. By the time I returned, the swap was complete, stuff put way and the crew having a well-deserved beer. The Mooring crew broke out the emergency
tiller, just in case, and headed back north that night. While we had a problem with the boat, the Mooring’s response to the issue could not have been better. We did not miss a beat with what could have been a disaster for our aggressive plan. The boat was so new it did not have a name so we spent the week on “Hull #206”.
Near the Pitons we came upon a pod of dolphins
working the water
and many took a break from fishing
to come swim with us, how cool is that. We also saw the “Green Flash” at sunset and I have a picture to prove it. Two firsts for the entire crew so we had a pretty great first day.
Day 4, Pitons to Bequia
We are up and cast off the lines at the first perception of day light. The winds are about 13 knots, I had hoped for more but we made it in 8.5 hours, arriving Bequia at 2:30 for about a 6.5 knot
average on the 56 mile trip. Call us crazy but we enjoy these long days the best. My son caught a nice Mahi that fed 9 people, it was filleted and put in the frig ready to eat the next night. Some crew saw a whale breech, I saw the splash, it was pretty exciting for us Kansans.
I had one crew member
sick so we put a harness on him and strapped him to the boat. I had briefed the crew about their responsibility to not fall off of the boat as the odds were not in their favor I would find them. I added they are most likely to fall off while taking a leak off the back of the boat or while being sick over the side of the boat. Well they must have listened as no action on my part was required to get him the harness. We figured out that he had been setting in the aft seat in the cockpit
area looking forward near the sliding glass doors into a reflection of the sea behind him. Even if not looking directly at the reflection it was still in his viewing area and had an influence. All ups and downs were backwards and I suspect it really challenged brain and set off a situation that was not normal. So don’t look at the horizon via a mirror while sailing.
We really enjoyed Bequia, nice fruit market and great help at Doris’s the local grocery. No citrus or guacamole on the island however. Again people are very nice. Two boat boys greet us on arrival and a nice no thank you was well received as I wanted to pick my own spot away from Princess Margaret Beach as it has been reported with higher crime in that area. A solid back down on the ball to test strength and we shut off the engine
and dove the mooring ball, all good. Customs check in was simple and quick. The procedure is the same at all locations. A single
form to fill out with some basic information that you will have in the “boat papers” folder, plus you will have the form from the previous check out. You can use the last form as a guide on how to fill out the new form. Moorings had supplied us with 16 copies of our crew list, so the procedure is to fill out the single
form with the words “see separate crew list”, give them 2 or 3 copies of the crew list, the single form, give them money
and a stack of passports to be stamped and you are set. I found all the Customs and Immigrations people helpful and would actually fix a mistake I had made without skipping a beat.
The crew looked thru the town, did some shopping exploring and came back to the boat prior to dinner. All enjoyed the town. We went to Macs Pizza for dinner and ordered 3 large Pizzas, one of which was the lobster pizza and it was excellent. They have a dinghy dock
just to the north of their location and is very convenient. Be careful of any swell at the dinghy dock. Macs has pretty cool setting that was perfect for the night.
Day 5 Bequia to Tabago Cays
Another nice day of sailing, sill could have used more wind however still useable. The northern channel approach is straight forward; we moored in front of Jamesby. I was surprised on how many moorings were available and how many boats were there, I thought I was in the Bite at Norman island. The boat boys were organized to only have one per incoming yacht, sort of like the next in line Taxi cabs. I declined any help as I want my crew to gain experience mooring. In the windwards the mooring painters don’t have a float, so you are going to have to dig deeper for the painter. The mooring looked excellent and passed the stress test. The crew went straight to the turtle sanctuary; apparently those turtles can’t read the sign as there were everywhere but in their designated spot. Just swimming around our boat above a grass
bottom we saw turtles, rays and lots of fish
. The entire are is protected by a giant reef, the reef however is a long way from the boat. We saw people anchor
the dinghy at the dingy pass and snorkel from there. We took the dinghy to Pitet Tabac in search for the space craft debris but did not find it. We gave a film crew of the Travel Channel a ride back to their boat, they were filming a show called Top Secret beaches. Next time would try to position the boat closer to a reef, this is where you could enlist the help of the boat boy and ask them to find a location near a good snorkeling spot. Dealing with a large crew and the dinghy is a pain to go snorkeling.
The boat boys in this area seemed to be never ending, T shirts, fish
, ice, dinner on the beach. All were polite when presented with nice no thank you. Inform you crew all to be clear, don’t say come back later for somebody else to look at the T-shirts, they will come back. Also be aware that some will try to scam you. We purchased a Tuna, and when he came back with the tuna fillets the deal changed from prior, different price
and un-filleted vs filleted weight. You can avoid the second set of haggling if you write it down. We had planned 2 days at the Tobago
Cays but I thought we would move on the next morning.
Day 6 Tabago Cays to Mayreau Salt
This was about 2 miles so we did not put up the sails
. The anchorage was pretty full and a boat boy helped us locate a great spot in a busy area, it was well worth the 10EC. We anchored at a spot near the beach where we could see across to towards the Tobago Cays, palm trees, beach and a west looking sunset, it doesn’t get much more scenic. The crew enjoyed the hike across and up the hill on the island, and had a drink at Dennis’s bar. Not much other boat boy activity here.
Day 7 Mayreau to Union Island to Pitet St Vincent
Checkout, then to Happy Island. It had been raining and pretty breezy and they guys were not open upon our arrival when the rain stopped at Happy Island. We put up sails
and took the long way to Pitet St Vincent with more rain along the way and after anchoring
. Planned to dinghy up to Mopion but the rain soaked that idea. After the rain cleared we headed to Goatys bar, had some excellent bushwhackers, margaritas and the like, pricy but you get what you pay for. We talked to a couple who had been cruising for a few years; it was great to hear their stories.
Day 8 Pitet St. Vincent to Port Louis Grenada.
Got up, took our good time to get moving, cooked breakfast. Found dinghy davits
would not lower the dinghy and screwed with that for a while. Sometime during the morning one of our crew receives word that her mother had passed. We are slow to get moving but we figure out our folks can fly out of Grenada a day early and head home so we start sailing south. I’m not sure if I check in at Carriacou and make Port Louis by dark, so I opt to head direct to Port Louis and work the customs closing at 4:00PM issue in route
. This is typically a 6 hour sail. I call my ever so helpful Moorings base operator, Lynn, in St Lucia and explain the situation. She calls me back in about 15 minutes and says the Grenada Moorings base is expecting us and the Customs office on the dock will wait for our arrival. We are making about 5 knots and to get back at any time even near 4:00 we need to be going 8 knots. I fire up the iron Genny and motor
sail at 8 or more knots with ease. We arrive Port Louis, Moorings meets us and has us quickly med moored. We complete check in just prior to 4:00. We clean up in the nicest showers in the world at the marina. Jump in the dinghy and head to BB’s Crabback for some excellent fish for dinner.
My folks depart the boat at about 4:45 AM to catch an early flight to Chicago. We get up early and sail the boat up the east coast
the drop till about 3:00 with no luck. We sailed back to True Blue Bay, made happy hour and dinner at the Dodgy Dock. We really liked this spot, live band, brewery and excellent food
and no charge for the mooring ball. There are zero yacht services here however. There was nowhere to purchase
ice, when inquiring at the resort office they just had me fill from their ice machine. Did I mention the people down here are super friendly and helpful?
• Would I go back, an absolute yes
• People are friendly and helpful to a point it stands out. While driving people stop and let you in traffic, while shopping when we ask about something is they go get it, while checking out at the grocery we had about 4 people helping with about a grand worth of provisions and helping with my credit card my bank declined. Moorings was outstanding in working or boat issue and special needs, that davit was fixed within an hour of reaching Grenada. Customs folks were pleasant and helpful.
, I almost did not make this trip from what you read on the internet
. Use reasonable precautions just like you do when you go to the mall in your home town, avoid known high crime areas, lock your boat, lock your dinghy, don’t anchor
to close to shore, and don’t be a single target at night in a rough area. There is no shortage of other sailors in the area; I think you are safe in following their lead.
• The boat boys we not near the issue as I had expected. We treated them with respect, used them for services we needed and provided a friendly wave and polite no thanks for stuff we did not need. I would do a better job briefing the crew next time so we can get them waived off quicker that saves us both time.
• Clearing customs was not an issue; just plan your stops to coincide with your check in/out requirements, it did not eat up that much time. All Customs fees
, park permits, cruising permits were $350US for the week, this included Tobago Cays at $48/day total for 9 people.
• The one way trip was fantastic and more than worth the return fee. Prior to leaving Rodney Bay the folks in the next slip arrived after a couple days beating back up north and they were beat. The winds were significantly higher the previous week. They thought our one way plan was genius.
• Flights and connections are very good to the area. This was a real plus for the trip.