May 21-27, 2020: Goodbye, Antigua, and Hello, Grenada

We left Falmouth Harbour on May 21 and headed back to Jolly Harbour so that we could take care of some final business.  Most importantly:  our first haircut since October.  Also, let’s be honest:  pizza from Al Porto.

On May 23, we left Jolly Harbour and motored up to St. John’s to clear out of Antigua.  We anchored just to the right of Nevis Street Pier in 18 feet of water in some truly rank, smelly mud.  It was convenient, though, and the dinghy dock was a short ride away on the left side of Nevis Street Pier, up against the ferries.  The government offices are right at the dinghy dock.

Clearing out of the country was relatively quick and painless.  All of the necessary offices are in the same building on Nevis Street Pier.  First I went to Customs, then to Immigration, then back to Customs.  Then, as usual, we had to wait for Port Authority to show up.  Twenty minutes later, we had been given all of our paperwork, and we were free to go.  We now had 24 hours to leave the country.

We went back to the boat, raised anchor, and went around the corner to the Deep Bay anchorage, where we spent a rolly but quiet night.

We left Deep Bay at 2PM on May 24, bound for St. George’s, Grenada.  With winds in the 20 knot range, Kestrel was feeling feisty with the main (one reef) and genoa on a close or beam reach, and we made great time.  As we continued south, other boats began leaving Antigua, and we all ended up passing information to each other in an unofficial net on VHF channel 72.  At night, we’d trade the genoa for the staysail and keep the reefed main up.

There’s no better feeling than looking at the compass heading due south.

There were two routes that people were taking, either the rhumb line (which we took) or paralleling the islands.  The rhumb line course gave more consistent winds (in the 15-20 knot range) with no island effects, but the trade-off was elevated seas, which were 1-3 meters.  As the days went on, more and more boats that had been on the island route joined the rhumb line route due to fickle winds.  The seas were pretty consistently on the beam, and although we weren’t beating, we still took a thrashing.  It was physically draining (and bruising) to maintain balance when moving around the boat, so we kept that to a minimum.  Thank goodness for pre-prepared meals that only needed reheating!

The seas got really big, and we were constantly taking water on deck. This is the high side of the boat, so you can imagine how swamped the low side was!

For the first time on a long passage, we had no rain or squalls.  Our only hiccup was an unexplained activation of our bilge pump.  Our bilge is usually bone dry, and for the bilge pump to trigger itself is unheard of.  We spent about a half hour examining all seacocks, transducers, hawse pipes, and vents—any hole in the boat that could be letting in water.  We found nothing, thank goodness.  Our working theory is that the bilge is not entirely flat, and with the thrashing we were taking, small pockets of standing water in the bilge were all channeled aft, where the pump “saw” the water and pumped it out.  For the duration of the trip we manually ran the bilge pump every two hours, but no other water came out.

By the time we got to Grenada, the boat was absolutely encased in a crust of salt. We could hardly see out of any of the enclosure windows.

We arrived at Port Louis Marina in St. George’s, Grenada, at 11:15 AM on May 27.  We docked on the quarantine dock as directed and were assisted by four excellent dockhands.  Once tied up, we walked up the dock to a small shelter which was manned by Ministry of Health officials.  They took our temperatures, and we signed our Crew Health Declaration forms.  They issued us a Provisional Health Clearance, which we were told to keep safe as we would need it for our official clearing in after quarantine.  The whole process took about 10 minutes, and everyone was welcoming and friendly.

This photo is courtesy of Port Louis Marina’s Facebook page and shows the quarantine docks and the Ministry of Health tent. Normally these docks are used for megayachts, which is why so many of us could fit on them at once.

We then left the dock and anchored in the quarantine anchorage just outside of Port Louis Marina.  We ended up anchoring twice; I dove on the anchor the first time, and it was perched on top of a bommie (a dead coral outcropping) rather than dug into the bottom.  We raised the anchor, sounded the anchorage with our depth sounder, and anchored again.  Shortly after anchoring, the Grenada Coast Guard approached us and very politely asked for the Captain’s name, which they checked against a list.  The Coast Guard is actively patrolling the anchorage, which is great.  We’re thrilled with how well thought-out and efficient the quarantine process is here, especially given how many agencies are involved.  Everyone we’ve come into contact with has been polite and positive.  We’re going to like it here.

Our view of beautiful, mountainous Grenada from the quarantine anchorage.

The trip from Deep Bay, Antigua, to St. George’s, Grenada, was 69 hours for 318.6nm.