Thursday, January 22, 2015

Carriacou to Union Island

Front row behind the reef
January 8th, 2015
20.4 nautical miles was our total trip.  Union is to windward of what does that mean dear readers?  Think hard.  You know this by now.....wind on the nose!  However, this passage we had time to sail (despite a later than planned departure - see Dirty Laundry) so we pointed the bow northwest, set the reefed sails for a close haul and took off at 6+ knots.  We sailed until we were nearly even with the top (north) of Union Island.  Then we tacked back to the southeast, towards the windward side of Carriacou.  When we were about even with Frigate Island (just south of Union) we were contemplating a tack so we could furl the main and start motoring directly into the wind and towards our anchorage at Clifton, however the helm didn't want to respond.  Hum?  Very odd.  I had a sneaking suspicion in the back of my mind but didn't say anything.  We regained control and I turned on the engine.  Because of my suspicion, I was very careful and immediately shut the engine back down as a huge, terrible noise came from under the boat.  Not good!  A broken up fishing float, two actually shot out behind sv Honey Ryder.  Oh shit!  We had sailed over a  couple of big fishing floats.  Not good!  Not good at all!  I was concerned that despite immediately shutting the engine back down we still may have wrapped some of the line around the prop and shaft.  Don't forget we only have 1/2 of a line cutter on the prop.  The other 1/2 is missing and we have yet to replace it.  *Getting the correct one has turned out to be a bit tougher than we thought.  Luckily, we were in open water and not near any of the numerous reefs in the area. Tom said "turn the engine on and see what happens."  I did and then carefully I put it into gear with my hand ready to take it back to neutral if needed.  It sounded ok and we slowly moved forward.  Whew!  I guess 1/2 of a line cutter saved us this time.  **Note to self, locate and get the line cutter ordered!!!
Close neighbor in windy conditions - big fun
We motored into the Clifton, Union Island anchorage and started our search for an anchoring spot.  We declined the boat boys moorings as we couldn't be certain of how the moorings are secured to the sea floor.  It's better to be on our own anchor.  We tried 3 different spots before settling in on anchor directly in front of an old 2 mast schooner.  I mean Right in front of it!  40 feet in front!  AND, this schooner has a 15 ft wooden bowsprit.  Yes, it seems we have become the people who anchor too close.  Crap!  I don't want to be those people.  Ugh!  But we were holding so we launched the dinghy and Tom went to check us in with immigration and customs.  I stayed aboard and on anchor watch.  I finally decided that we weren't moving and shut off the engine but left the key in the ignition just in case I needed to fire her up quickly.  Tom returned, we lowered our yellow quarantine flag and hoisted the St Vincent Grenadines flag.  We limed for a bit in the cockpit and watched as more boats came and went.  It was windy.  Then Tom dove on the anchor and found we were not set at all.  We raised the anchor and moved over to where a charter boat had just left.  Tom dove the anchor and we got a good set but we ended up 30 ft in front of a small sailboat.  Crap, crap, crap....we really are becoming the people who anchor too close.  Ugh!  But we were holding and the little sailboat seems to be used only during the day by a guy that is kite surfing the reef.  That does not excuse us anchoring too close but he wasn't there on his deck in his speedo to dissuade us - see Anchoring Stare.  Never the less, when the wind picked up around 9pm, I started anchor watch.  We held through the night so I guess we"ll stay put.
Tight anchorage
Update - We stayed 5 nights in Clifton during which many boats came and went and the wind blew and blew and blew.  We continued to hold fast.  A follow up anchor check showed our anchor continued to dig in more and more.  The anchorage was such that anchoring was tight at times.  We ended up with a catamaran 20 feet in front of us - ok 30 but it looked like 20 and another boat near our starboard bow.  It was good practice for us to experience these tight conditions but a little more space is our preference and generally what we have.  

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