Monday 10th February 1998

Jeff’s log continues with the entry for Monday 10th February 1998…

Monday 10th February 1998

By 0200 I was awake and my mind fully active. The night was possibly the hottest and most stifling that I had endured since being in the Caribbean. It was difficult to get back to sleep but I finally did until the trilling of the alarm woke me at 0500. 0600 and the engine was on and we were away on a cloudy, grey, windless morning.

I had hoped that Les and Rene would hear the dawn chorus of the Howler Monkeys. Unfortunately there were a family of East Indians camped on the shore and they had loud Hindu music blaring away from 0400 and the monkeys kept at bay. We did hear them in the distance as we motored out on the flat, eddied waters of the Boca Del Monos.

Soon Les directed the bows in an easterly bearing and we continued to make good progress in the slight swell. The clean bottom made an immense difference to our speed. It took just over two hours to reach Vache Bay. In the old “Tanee”, it had taken five hours of thumping and grinding in a choppy sea to make this distance.

We each took an hour on the helm and second time round the weather darkened and the rain fell dismally, blotting out the nearby landscape. It was a great consolation that we had the GPS that Peter had lent to me. Visibility was less than half a mile at times. Most of the beauty of the landscape was lost in a hazy mantle of greyness.

The light subtly increased but it was just as well that we were not relying on the good auspices of the solar panels today. The new batteries were hardly showing a dent in their capacity when we arose this morning and they hungrily devoured the input from the alternator. During my off watch period, the rains fell steadily and ceased minutes before I was due back on the helm. Blue sky dotted the expanse of the heavens. Things looked good.

It was during Les’ next watch that we had a strike. A fine King mackerel took the lure that was skittering about fifty feet behind the boat. We landed it, it was quickly beheaded, gutted, and the unwanted parts thrown back to feed those who could make use of them. The King Mackerel was about three pounds in weight and enough to feed the three of us.

Our plan was to make for the rather exposed Toco Bay. With these settled conditions, there was little risk in going there. However, Ray at Powerboats had once said that Grande Riviera was a better anchorage but still exposed if the wind was north of east. It lay five miles to the west of Toco Bay and therefore should not unduly cost us time when we leave tomorrow. Also, it was a new spot to anchor. Karen had advised against it saying that it was a rocky bay. There were a few rocks shown on the chart and when we arrived there, it did not look too promising. However, once abeam of the bay, it looked far more inviting despite the dark forbidding teeth that breached the slightly breathing surface of the sea.

We reeled in the fishing lines and the log line before gingerly inching our way into the bay. It was very beautiful and we headed for the Southeast corner where the waters were at their calmest. Les watched the echo sounder as we went in. The bottom was surprisingly flat and even. Gradually the readings reduced until we chose a spot with a depth of five metres under the keel. It took a while before the hook finally took and even then, I was not overly happy that it would stand up to much of a pull.

Rene made the post journey coffees whilst I finished up the log, then we all relaxed in the cockpit. I asked if they wanted to go ashore but they declined.

It was not long before we had our first visitors. Two young men and two boys, in a fishing boat came up to us inquisitively. Their solidly constructed pirogue bounced against our hull a number of times as they good-naturedly chatted to us. At one point, their boat drifted from “First Light” leaving one chap bridging the gap. There was no way that he could regain his own boat without first taking an unscheduled dip. He took the alternative and clung tenaciously to our stanchion and guardrail with his toes fast gripping the opening port in Les and Rene’s room. Laughing, the others manoeuvred their craft back to pick him up. They asked for food. Their day’s catch amounted to one fish about half the size of the one that we caught. I fed them cheese sandwiches, ran up the generator, and popped a bag of corn for them. They went off happily.

Shortly after, a guy called Trevern Grant swam powerfully up to us. He was a pleasant extroverted character who chatted incessantly as he clung to the landing ladder. We did not allow him on board. He told us of the medals and trophies that he had won swimming and that he had donated them to the local school for the teachers to use as trophies to encourage the children to compete for the honour of holding them for a year. Thus learning competitiveness to help them through life. He stayed on for quite some time after his welcome had worn thin but that seems to be the Trini way.

With Grant’s departure, I set to making the dinner. It was easy. The fish was deep-fried in batter and with it we ate mashed potatoes. Beautiful fresh fish, it went down a treat. The plates of Les and Rene were so clean that they hardly required washing. Rene did that chore and we then chatted in the cockpit until we were surprised to discover that it was near 2300 hours and we knew we had an early morning tomorrow.

End of Monday 10th February 1998

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