Last week we were sailing towards an underwater volcano Kick ‘em Jenny, 8km north of Grenada.
The University of West Indies Seismic Research Centre has reported high levels of seismic activity here since October 2018. A five mile exclusion zone is in place and we were heading straight for it.
Jenny’s status is classified as ‘Yellow – restless’ and the exclusion zone is in place because gases can apparently ‘reduce the buoyancy of ships’. ‘Jenny’ (the name of a Caribbean mule) last kicked off in 2015 and is building herself up for another tantrum.
Disappointingly (thankfully?) we didn’t sniff a whiff of sulphur … but on land in Grenada the tsunami warning boards everywhere make it very clear that catastrophe could strike at any moment.
What with underwater volcanoes and tsunami warnings, life across the pond is very different.
And so, with the Jungle Book theme close to our hearts … a boat called Bagheera and a dinghy called Baloo (pictured above) … we reflect on a few of our bare/bear necessities of life!
Living off the grid
We’ve been living off the grid for over a month and a half now. For us that means no mains electric, no piped water supply and anchoring.
Aside from cold weather (yes, really!), and baths, we don’t seem to be missing too much, but daily life requires lot more planning!
Our sailing mates have seen us on our way and all flown home now. So we’ve spent the last five weeks alone, adjusting to our new life style and island hopping across the Grenadines and Grenada.
Our Four Bear Necessities
1 Cooking: Our cooker uses around one 4kg butane gas cylinder a month. Since leaving the UK we’ve filled up, or replaced, our cylinders in Falmouth, Madeira, Cape Verde and Bequia. We always have two. And if they run out and we can’t get fills we have 20 litres of emergency methylated spirits and a meths burning stove!
2 Electric: We have a 180 watt solar panel which charges three 12 volt batteries – one to start the engine and two for everything else. And lots of lovely, free sunshine! If we do use the boat engine – which is seldom – that charges the batteries too.
During the day we generate enough power to run our small fridge. Phones and camera are charged up by USB and all our lights have low voltage LED bulbs.
If we want to use a three pin plug we have an inverter – but we don’t use this much.
We have to focus on balancing our energy use. So, when sailing at night we use power for our instruments, but have no input from the solar panel. It then takes longer the next day to get our energy levels up and the fridge can’t be turned on too soon.
3 Water: We have a 230 litre water storage tank and four 20 litre jerry cans.
We are frugal with our water use at all times and use salt water for hand washing and washing up when sailing.
Hot water is lovely, but not essential. If we use the engine it automatically heats the water and we can shower on board. Otherwise it’s solar heated showers on deck!
We top up our storage tank by filling our jerry cans ashore and transporting them by dinghy. And in Bequia we had a ‘water boat’ delivery!
Drinking water: We drink the tank water. It’s usually either rain water or desalinated, but we pass it through a foot pump filter first. There is sometimes a tang – but we’ve got used to it.
On long passages we carry additional bottled water in case the main tank gets contaminated. It’s a lot of plastic, which I hate, and can’t always be recycled, but sometimes needs must.
And if it all goes completely pear-shaped we have a solar still …. and can catch rain water. And it squalls a lot in the tropics!
4 Food: Our UK and Canary Island dry good supplies are running seriously low. And I’m talking the last two tins of baked beans level of serious!
Bizarrely we can buy Waitrose Essentials products in Grenada, but a tin of baked beans will set you back around £1.50. So – till we can do an economical re-stock we fish and only buy locally grown, produced or made products. Baggy currently has a lot of yam, calaloo, onions, cucumbers and fig bananas!
So – what else have we been doing for the last five weeks?!
We’ve been day sailing and hopping around eight islands!
Island 1 – Barbados: Paul, Paddy and I celebrated our Three Bagheteer crossing with ice buckets of beer and Rum Sours!
Paddy’s lovely sister, Sharon, had flown out to meet us and we enjoyed drinking fresh coconut milk, eating chickpea doubles, exploring by reggae taxi, swimming ashore, running on the long sandy beach and Oistins famous Fish Fry Friday!
Our anchorage in Carlisle Bay near Bridgetown had something for every water activity known to man and beast. From race horse swimming to glass bottom party boats.
But the thumping reggae to 3am most nights eventually took its toll … even for hard core reggae party animals like us 😁
Paddy flew home, Paul serviced one of the heads and then we sailed overnight to our first Grenadine island.
Island 2 – Bequia: Our favourite. It had its own Cruisers VHF broadcast every morning, an easy breezy rasta attitude and flowers fell from the trees onto the white sandy beaches.
There were cute dinghy docks and fun rum shacks. We visited the hawksbill turtle sanctuary, walked past swaying palm trees, found deserted beaches, swopped books, watched morning turtle swim-bys, shopped at organic veggie stalls, went diving, enjoyed live music and more!
I didn’t want to leave. In fact there’s a house for sale right on the waterfront …. 🧐
Island 3 – Mustique: see last blog Celebrity Island Lockdown 🤣
Island 4 – Canouan: Christmas Day was spent anchored in Grand Bay. The village had a rustic feel, but the glamorous Tamarind Hotel Resort on the beach front created a disconcerting ‘them and us’ feel.
After Skype calling our families we spent the morning snorkelling and watched pelicans catching fish in the bay.
Red Snapper was for Christmas lunch, caught to order by Byron the boat boy. It went lovely with our jar of brussel sprouts in brine 🤣
We’d hidden some fav beers from home and a few wrapped presents … and out came the almond stollen cake we’d stashed away in Tenerife. We polished the day off with a bottle of bubbly and a visit from our UK cruising neighbours Richard and Jane.
Island 5 – Tobago Cays: We anchored overnight in this stunning protected marine park and discovered a colony of White Zebra Rhino Iguanas on deserted Jamesby Island. And giant puffer fish hiding under the pristine coral.
Good news! Paul was last here in 1994 and says the coral is much healthier than it was back then.
Island 6 – Union Island: This was our last island in the Grenadines. It was a kite surfing paradise but we just swung by to check out with customs – and buy a local lettuce (picked that morning) and hot baguette!
Island 7 – Carriacou: We anchored in Tyrell Bay and our first job was to check in with Grenada customs.
We welcomed 2019 in UK time (four hours earlier) and then spent a few days walking in a more exotic version of UK countryside and rowing in the mangrove swamps.
We just swopped sheep for goats, robins for hummingbirds, hedgehogs for land crabs and black birds for mangrove cuckoos.
Island 8 – Grenada: First stop Grandmal Bay to dive the incredible Moliniere Underwater Sculpture Park and pristine reef. So good we did it twice! Photo gallery and video on Facebook!
Second stop, Prickly Bay. Not at all prickly and a safe anchorage for boat jobs and Paul serviced the aft cabin heads! Oh – and it just happened to be walking distance from the West Indies Brewery – the only IPA brewery on the island. Funny that.
After 46 nights at sea and anchor we finally decided to treat ourselves to three nights at the glamorous Port St Louis Marina in St George’s – with a swimming pool, hot showers, leccy, laundry and water. Absolute luxury!
I ‘lost my virginity’ to the Grenada Hash House Harriers. After a hard and humid trail run through dense bush the ‘virgins’ were gathered before the hash house master. Our certificate was read out to us and we were jet washed with beer … ! A DJ provided the entertainment, everyone drank beer and danced and food tents did a roaring trade. UK park runs will never be the same again!
Thankfully very little has gone wrong since the last blog. Baggy has been a rock, we’ve been a bit more flaky!
– one pair of lost polarised sunglasses
– sea urchin spikes in fingers
– a cooker burn on leg
– one suspected broken little toe
– one suspected ear infection
– several bumped heads
But all under control and long may it continue.
We’ve hurtled through the Grenadines and Grenada, but we have a lot of sea miles to cover and need to be in Panama by late February for our canal crossing into the Pacific Ocean.
So – we’re now sailing to the Dutch ABC Islands in the Leeward Antilles – Bonaire, Curaçao and Aruba! All three are part of the Netherlands, but are outside of the EU and self-governing.
Bonaire is known for its pioneering environmental preservation and is a diving mecca with over 90 pristine sites and dedicated diving moorings. Beyond excited 🤩
It’s 390 nautical miles away, which is a good three day sail. So – we’ve dug out our rusty sea legs and ginger sweets and are geared up for the old three hours on, three hours off routine!
You can follow us on Yellow Brick
PS. Dear Caribbean,
You are so lovely you deserve to be looked after and cherished. So, before we go, we have a few suggestions!
1 Please stop automatically packing people’s shopping into those flimsy little carrier bags. Ask if people want one first, charge for it and sell strong bags. We bought one in Bequia made from recycled sack!
2 Stop overpacking fruit, veg and salad. Four small tomatoes in a styrofoam tray with lots of cling film is just being silly.
3 When building new roads ALWAYS put pavements next to them. Better still, cycle paths too! By the way, your little ‘reggae buses’ are brilliant.
4 Stop driving your 4X4s round like you’re in a car chase. People, dogs and goats are in constant danger.
5 Stop giving out plastic straws. Bequia make strong yet biodegradable bamboo ones.
6 What’s the deal with recycling waste? We’ve only seen recycling bins for yachts in Bequia and Grenada. If they can do it surely other islands can too?
7 The amount of plastic washed up on some of your beaches is shocking. You urgently need to start a clean up campaign. It will get much worse the longer you leave it. Start now and people will help if they can see it’s making a difference. We’re all happy to pick up plastic and put it in a bin … but starting with 1000s of pieces is overwhelming.
Good luck. We know it’s not easy, but you WILL get there and once you start everyone will help.
You’re big enough to cope, be small enough to care!
Lots of love, The Bagheteers xx