Mike rarely write updates on the blog, for some reason he thinks keeping the boat afloat, us safe and the boat sailing is enough of a job for him! I have to share one funny story of a time when Ana was helping me wash clothes up on deck.
Ana : I like washing clothes, can this be my job from now on?
Me : Sure, we all have jobs on the boat.
Ana : OK, Zander lifts the Dinghy every night and helps with the sailing. Porter washes dishes and helps wash the bottom of the boat. You cook and do our schooling. Hmm, scratching her chin, what does Dad do all day, what can his job be?
Absolutely no credit for all the stress and hardship he endures in keeping us sailing.
Anyway, back to my point. Mike does write a monthly update to our yacht club back home and I try to link them to our website just so people can read his point of view, but I haven't been doing that recently. Anyway, instead, this month I will just include his report here.
"Dodging Hurricanes and Pirates"
It is very rare for a Hurricane to hit Grenada which is at the very Southern end of the Caribbean chain of islands. Each season, hundreds of boats seek shelter here in the numerous bays to avoid the hurricanes which mostly pass to the North. With all these boats here, from dozens of different nations, cruisers can meet up with old friends and easily make new ones. As we looked around the anchorage, we could see friends on boats we had last seen in Portugal and Gibraltar.
Each morning there is a Grenada Cruiser's VHF radio net to listen in on and social events are planned for practically every day. For most of July and August we were able to rest on the beach, attend potluck dinners, explore jungle trails, swim under waterfalls, complete maintenance chores, and enjoy sundowners.
In late September, Hurricane Matthew developed in the Atlantic and suddenly threatened everyone here. Complacent cruisers, some that had been anchored in the same spot for 6 years, quickly had to scramble and seek shelter. In Grenada there are two bays known as "hurricane holes" which are protected from swell and wind from all directions. These two "safe" anchoring locations quickly filled up with dozens of boats. Our storm plan, along with about 30 other boats, was to avoid the high winds and packed anchorages and sail 80 miles South to Trinidad.
Sailing to Trinidad involved a danger of a different sort. Trinidad is only 12 miles away from Venezuela and the economic and political conditions in Venezuela are currently very bad. Food shortages, crippling inflation and violent crime have placed Venezuela on the edge of Civil War. Desperate fishermen turned pirate have been coming North and attacking cruisers. Three acts of piracy, where Venezuelan's have robbed cruisers while at sea, have occurred in the last 6 months. For us to seek shelter from the looming Hurricane, we would have to run a gauntlet of pirates. We departed Grenada at Sunset, sailed without navigation lights and radio silence, and arrived off Trinidad an hour before Sunrise. Once there, we entered a protected bay, anchored and tied the boat into the mangroves. For 2 days, we comfortably let the winds and waves blow past.
When conditions settled, we pulled in the lines and anchor to sail to the Dutch island of Bonaire. Once again we had to run the Pirate gauntlet; our course was 400 miles to Bonaire and all of it was along the coast of Venezuela. To commence the three day passage, we departed at night with the lights off. Sunrise found us 60 miles offshore where we felt safe from shore based piracy.
On the second night at sea, Amy woke me up at 2:00AM to tell me a boat on radar had altered course and was following us. The sea conditions were very confused due to the recent passing of Hurricane Matthew and the wind was gusting to 30 knots. It was a dark and overcast night without any moon. I quickly turned off our navigation lights and altered course 90 degrees. We were sailing at 8 knots but I turned on the engine to warm it up in the event we needed it. It appeared we were getting away until the boat following us turned on a massive searchlight. The light swung around searchingly a few times and then easily illuminated our white sails. It was hard to hide with our sails lit up like a beacon and the following boat swung around to once again give chase.
On our boat, I redlined the engine and shook out the single reef in the main and headsail to make 8-9 knots. After an hour, the boat chasing us had closed the distance between us from 4 miles to 2 miles. We were 80 miles offshore so there wasn't a good place to run to. On radar, I saw another boat 8 miles away and I altered course to close it; the boat behind us altered their course correspondingly. My plan was to get near another boat that could render assistance or deter the one following us. After another hour of running, we were near the boat I had seen on radar. It was a fishing boat. Had it been another pirate, I would have run right to them. As it turned out, the boat chasing us turned around as we got near the other fishing boat; we sailed on unmolested. Down below, the kids had peacefully slept through the whole ordeal. Another 12 hours at sea and we were safely anchored behind an island in the company of other friendly cruisers.
The following pages chronicle the journey of the sailing vessel Pelagic and her crew. We are a family of 5; Michael, Amy, Zander, Porter and Anakena, taking our 42' Hallberg Rassy as far as we can comfortably go in three years. We left Oregon in September 2014, participated in the 2014 Baja Haha, continued on through the Panama Canal, into the Caribbean, up the coast of the US to Maritime Canada and from there crossed the Atlantic. After an arrival in Ireland we toured Scotland, then sailed down to France, Portugal and on to Morocco. In January of 2016 we slowed down considerably and enrolled the kids in a local Spanish school in Sanlucar de Guadiana for a few months. In the spring of 2016 we crossed the Atlantic towards the Caribbean. We are now in the Pacific, officially on our way home, albeit via a very circuitous path. We are currently in French Polynesia and looking at weather windows to Hawaii before finally making landfall back in the Pacific Northwest.
Currently our exact location is not available. Our spot coverage will pick us back up in Hawaii towards the end of May, 2017.
Our favorite sailing quote:
"If anythings gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there boss!" Captain Ron