Sailing the Atlantic, Cruising the Caribbean - Avalon of Arne

By Phaon Reid

Grenada FlagT&T Flag

Latest Update - Dec 97 to May 98

Avalon at Sea

As Sarah had finished work before me, I agreed that she could go back to Avalon and sail her up to Grenada (with suitable crew) where she would use the boat as a base while doing her Divemaster course with Dive Grenada. This she duly did, and so by the time I came out at the beginning of Decmber she was already a qualified Divemaster. In other words, I had some catching up to do... Apart from that, I gathered that she had been working pretty hard at the diving, but had otherwise had a fairly unexciting time.

When I came out a friend of mine, Simon, came with me for a week's break. He and Sarah don't get on partciularly well, but managed to tolerate each other for the brief period involved. During this time we became friendly with Dave, the new owner of another Dive shop in Grenada, Grand Anse Aquatics.

Sarah had come out with the idea of buying a dive shop in Grenada, but had decided that the project was not financially viable. It was interesting to follow the progress of someone who had actually taken the plunge, as it were. Dave did all the right things, and he transformed the dive shop so that, in many ways, it was the best and most appealing in Grenada. Unfortunately, though, he had a number of unforseen expenses. The motor on the dive boat gave up the ghost - so he had to buy a new one, and rent one in the meantime. Once the new engine was fitted, the dive boat was involved in an accident and so he had to hire another boat for a week while getting it fixed. Then the compressor expired, so tanks had to be carted across to other dive shops for filling (at a price) for a number of weeks while a new compressor was ordered. Needless to say, these setbacks made mincemeat of Dave's financial targets - and probably convinced Sarah of the wisdom of her decision. As the saying goes, if you want to make a small fortune in the Caribbean - start with a large fortune.

I set up a web site for Dave in exchange for some free diving, and also arranged to do my Divemaster course with them after we returned from Tobago, where we had arranged to meet some friends for Christmas and the New Year. Shortly before we left, Sarah became friendly with Lawrence, a dive instructor at GAA. It didn't seem particularly serious at the time, at least on her side, and Lawrence's girlfiend was due to come out and join him while we were away.

We had arranged to arrive in Tobago before Christmas to meet our friends Steve and Sue on Oleander. We set off on the evening of the 22nd and had 24 tiring hours bashing to windward into 2-3 metre swells, with the current against us. At least we managed to stay on the same tack until we were within site of Tobago. We arrived just after dark on the 23rd, found Oleander and, after anchoring, went over and demolished a bottle of rum. Then we slept....

Christmas lunch was celebrated with a beach barbecue, attended by yachties, tourists and locals alike. The barbecue was organised by Wally, a local guy who is engaged to Sue's sister, Mel. After the meal (fish, chicken, salad and the like, with plenty of rum punch), Sue insisted that everyone should play "Pin the tail on the donkey". We had our doubts about this, but in fact it was a great success. The wall on which the donkey was displayed was too small to accomodate tails, so the game became "pin the penis on the donkey". Everyone entered into the spirit of the contest - the locals, in particular, taking it extremely seriously (and possibly peeking under the blindfold?) One of them was declared the winner and he proudly bore off the donkey with its multiple members. It probably adorns his wall to this day.

After Christmas we renewed our acquaintance with Kerry-Ann at Wild Turtle Dive Safari, at Pigeon Point. We had been in touch sporadically by mail since our last visit to Tobago, and it was good to see her again, as bubbly as ever and still giving her boyfriend a hard time. We got our dive tanks filled, as there was a new wreck we wanted to dive when we sailed up the coast.

For New Year's eve (or Old Year's Night, as they call it in the Caribbean) another beach barbecue was planned. This time we deicided to go the whole hog (literally) and bought a small pig to cook. This we duly did, but it took so many hours to cook that everyone was pretty drunk by the time it was ready. It was absolutely delicious, though.

At midnight, we did the usual thing with Auld Lang Syne and toasts and so on. It was shortly afterwards that Sarah had her mishap. Stepping over the carcass of the pig onto the beach, she stumbled and landed in a heap on the sand. Everybody laughed, including Sarah, but then when she tried to get up, she found she couldn't stand - and it wasn't just the alcohol. In fact, she had twisted her ankle really badly, and probably torn something. It didn't seem to hurt much unless she tried to put her weight on it.

Anyway, we wrapped her feet in an ice pack and gave her some more rum, and after a while the pain didn't seem so bad. I think that around then we ran out of alcohol, and so decided to adjourn to the "Waving Gallery" Bar by the beach. After we had helped the invalid up the stairs to the bar, she appeared to stage a recovery and spent the next couple of hours dancing. However, Sarah and I declined to go on to the Golden Star (nightclub) at about 3 in the morning with Steve, Sue and Penelope (a Danish girl we had met on the beach).

The next morning Sarah was in a sorry state. Apart from the (predictable) hangover, her ankle was badly swollen and her foot couldn't bear any weight at all. The rest of us just had the hangovers. Penelope swam out to the boat in the afternoon and I took her snorkelling, which she enjoyed. No-one else had the energy.

Visiting Crew

Pete, Helen and Adrian - click for larger pic (70k)

It was shortly after this that the next of our visitors came out. This was Pete Evans, who I had met though my web site while working in Germany. He was in Prague at the time, and I drove over to see him one weekend. He had spent a lot of his childhood in the Caribbean, and was now planning to buy a boat there and go cruising himself. For more about Pete, see his Web Site. Anyway, Pete had arranged to join us in Tobago, then sail to Trinidad with us where he would begin his search for a boat - Trinidad is a good place to buy boats.

Anyway, no sooner had Pete arrived and settled in than our next two visitors, Adrian and Helen arrived - looking very unlike yachties with their pale faces and immaculately clean clothes! We had been a bit concerned that five would be too many on Avalon - she only has four berths and a four-man tender, for a start. In the event, though, everything was fine and everyone got on really well together. People just had to sleep in the cockpit (under the awning) and swim ashore occasionally - no great hardship. The worst hardship for me, at this time, was the insects. For some reason they found me particularly tasty and I was quite badly bitten on a number of occasions.

At around this time Steve and Sue sailed Oleander back to Trinidad, with a couple of chaps (Captain Birdseye clones) who'd come out to buy her. In the end, these particular ones didn't, but they did sell Oleander shortly after. Sue then went back to England to earn some more money, while Steve caried on working on their new boat, Tringo. As it turned out, Sue had become pregnant during her visit. Nina Bequia Powell is due to be born in September!

Visiting Crew

Concentration - Helen on the helm - click for larger pic (70k)

Helen and Adrian stayed with us for a week, during which time we cruised up the coast of Tobago, calling at Mount Irvine Bay, Castara Bay and Englishman's Bay. At Castara it was Helen's birthday, so we bought a kingfish from the local fisherman and cooked it on a driftwood barbecue on the beach - we invited the other yachties anchored there (French and Italian) and also a couple of locals came and joined in. They brought a string bass, and we all sang - the locals far better than the yachties. We kept running out of rum and having to get more. Helen had a great birthday - although I think she was sick at one stage! We also hoisted Helen up the mast that day (while we were still sober) to check the rigging and try to fix the wind indicator. Here is a photo she took...

view from masthead

View from masthead - click for larger picture

From Englishman's we headed back down to Store Bay, to drop Adrian and Helen off - they were staying another week in Tobago after we headed off to Trinidad. They treated us to an excellent meal the night before we set off, and also let us use the WARM shower in their hotel room.

The sail from to Tobago to Trinidad is downhill and easy, although a bit rolly. If you leave around dawn you should just about arrive in time to avoid paying overtime at Customs and Immigration. Sarah, with her bad ankle, found the motion of the boat very difficult to cope with. While in Trinidad we bought a bicycle each. The idea was to take these to Grenada, use them to "commute" from Prickly Bay to the dive shop, and then sell them when we left, preferably at a profit. I also bought a new outboard (Yamaha 2) for the tender. The old Mercury had died after Sarah dunked it in Tobago - we sold it to some people who thought they could revive it, although they hadn't succeeded by the time we left.

While we were in Trinidad, our friend Carole (previously of S/Y Wild Rose) came to join us. We had hoped to be heading up to Grenada in time for race week, and Carole was looking forward to this, but unfortunately a delay in the delivery of the new outboard made this impossible. In the meantime we pottered around in Trini - rented a car for a few days, and cruised Avalon out to the anchorages at Chacachacare and Scotland Bay.

During this same period, Pete bought a boat. He got a real bargain, a 28 foot Albin Vega, fully equipped, for US$5,000. The (petrol) engine was a little suspect, but the sails were excellent and all in all he did extremely well. Pete decided to sign off Avalon and sail up to Grenada on Chou with the people who were selling her.

To be Continued...... Divemaster course in Grenada..... Sarah drops heavy weights on OTHER foot....... Sarah falls in Love and leaves Avalon..... sailing to Los Testigos and Isla Margarita and back........ Trinidad again, then home.

knot rule