A new experience – coping with a hurricane

May 27 – July 06 2021; 6930 nm and 838 days after departure from La Rochelle.

Here we were, early in the season and already faced with a storm. Isn´t it always the case, that you think such things would never happen to you? At least we were secretly hoping for that, even though we knew that it will likely happen. But so soon?! Well, the good thing is, nothing happened. BUT that doesn’t mean we weren’t kind of freaked out before hand. The trouble was, not-yet-named-tropical-storm-Elsa started it’s life at the African coast fairly south of the Cape Verdes at about 8 degrees north. That starting point had gotten our immidiate attention as most of the depressions start a bit further north. Prickly Bay in the south of Grenada, where we are right now, is at about 12 degrees north and the common route of a storm is direction west north west. This nasty storm decided, instead of going slightly north, for quite some time to stay just on a westerly track, which meant we’d be in ral trouble. Obviously it didn’t make any sence to escape south, so where to go? What to do?

A screenshot from Elsa when she was already north of Grenada, at this time we we were still in the propability of getting winds up to 40 knots. Just some definitions: A tropical storm comes with sustaining winds of 36-64 knots (67 km/h to 118 km/h) and when it goes beyong 64 knots (120 km/h) it becomes a hurricane.

We had so many discussions, as well with other cruisers, to try to follow the right strategy. It varied -it felt like every hour- from staying, to moving to another bay, to maybe go south after all, to “all will be easy” anyhow. A roller coaster of possible decisions and emotions. We did not like that feeling at all! Not knowing what to do was the worst. 48 kours before the forecasted arrival of the storm, it was upgraded to a hurricane (named Elsa) which did’nt make us feel any better and certainly didn’t help us making a decision. By that time a lot of boats had left the bay, others had come and divers had checked the mourings in the bay. The latter fact and being concerned to get to close to other boats which were already at a mouring (due to very different swinging circles being at anchor or at a mouring), made us decide to pick a mouring too. At least we had made a decision! We knew we would stay and got the boat ready, which meant taking off all sunshades and loose parts found their way inside of Altimate etc. Now it was the time for waiting. A horrible time though. It was like waiting for x-mas to come but just in a bad way. Fortunately in the evening Elsa had moved further north. Finally!!! Yeah! She was still a little south of 12 degrees north but as fast as she went and the direction she took it was obvious that she would be north of us by the time reaching the Caribbean islands. We still didn’t know how much impact it would have but at least we knew we were not in the main spot! Prepared for a lot of wind, rain and swell we were very happy to be only confronted in the end with a whole day of rain pouring down and a lot of swell shaking us the next couple of days. (Btw, ashore the people had more trouble coping with the rain. A lot of streets and areas were completely flooded and some areas were not reachable anymore).

St David’s Harbour

But what happened before our unpleasant experience? Well, meanwhile we already spent again 5 weeks in beautiful green Grenada. It is rainy season and the island looks like a well kept very lush garden with amazing calourful flowers and lots and lots of fruits. Devine to me.
The first two weeks after leaving Carriacou we did some bay hopping. We spent again a couple of days at Ronde Island just to split the trip in shorter trips and then headed down the east side of Grenada. In the south of the island we enjoyed some days in the lovely bay of St David’s Harbour, a pretty little quiet anchorage where it seemed the time is moving slower. Only a few miles further west was our next stop. Port Egmont, a very calm and lake like bay surrounded by hills with lots of houses. Some of them pretty and flashing, some of them ugly ruins and some in construction. This bay was so calm that it was the FIRST time since living on the boat (including marinas) that I could accurately use my scale. AMAZING!!! For once not guessing the measurements. As we wanted to catch up with a young German family which we met in Las Palmas we decided to stay again a few days in Woburn Bay. I guess we only spent 6 weeks there after our arrival in Grenada, but it already felt like coming home. It was fun catching up with the crew of Aracanga and enjoying the huge cruisor community for a while. Still after three nights and days of the hustle and bustle at Woburn we preferred to leave the bay and headed again only a few miles further west to Prickly Bay.

“Lake Egmont”, far in the back Altimate and Carina, the boat from our Canadian friends

Prickly Bay is a pretty anchorage with a little beach including a sweet beach bar, a little marina, a big marine chandler and lots of restaurants and bars in walking distance. It might not have the best weather protection but it has very easy access to the city, the famous beach Grande Anse, the big westerly supermarket IGA and other useful shops. Most of it even reachable by foot. On lazy days or packed with groceries one can just jump in a very frequently running bus no1. A perfect place to have a lot of fun but also get some projects done.
Mid of June the European football/soccer championsleague started. Of course it was our duty to follow at least the German matches and if possible as well some other games. That said our days were planned around the games. It does not sound like a big deal, but you have to remember we are 6 hours behind the soccer time, which meant matches started at 9am, noon or 3pm our time. Soccer the whole day! I can assure, watching football can be quite exhausting. Ok, of course we did not watch all the games, but it was kind of time consuming in a very pleseant way. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?) the German team got kicked out after the 1/8th final. Omg!!!! and that against England! What a shame! The good thing about it was, our days went back to normal. Already back in Woburn we heard from a nice guy we met at a bar, that some people play volleyball at Secret Harbor. (In his not-yet-grey-hair times, El Capitano used to play a lot volleyball and sometimes I did as well.) Now, being in walking distance to Secret Harbor we gave it a go and started to play. It`s a fun mixed group with sailors and residents. Legitimately you might think what? are they not too old, too stiff for that? You are so damn right! After the first time playing we felt like 100 years old human beings after running at least two marathons. Our whole bodies were sore, ouch! But then again, after only a few more times playing, our bones and muscles (yes we still have some) got more used to it. Now we can really enjoy the game knowing the next day we can still walk.

Sherry , who`s organizing the volleyball happens to be also a German soccer fan. We had fun at the beach bar at Grande Anse, but lost sadly

Two more incidents happened in the last week. I will start with the bad one. Our stupid apple macbook, not even three years old broke down. What a bummer! Apple care is not in charge here as there is no authorized dealer in Grenada and the local computer store figured out the motherboard is not working which means not worth repairing. Sh..! Fortunately we have an old windows laptop aboard which does its job. The only annoying problem is that some pics got lost in transmitting from apple backup to the windows laptop. Well, I guess we have to live with that.
The much nicer news is that we spoilt ourselves with a second mobile fridge freezer. You might not have noticed, but it is pretty hot in the Caribbean. More or less always 31 degrees celsius, certainly much hotter in the sun and when the wind decides to take a break. In these temperature you can imagine it is very nice to have once in a while (gladly also more often) a cold drink. Just to make it clear I´m not talking exclusively about alcoholic drinks! Our fridge is working fine but due to the temperature we need to put more food in it and have less room for bottles of water or other beverages. We checked the internet and found a fridge /freezer unit with very low energie consumption, 12v usage and the right measurements to fit in our “cellar”. We would still like to not being forced to run the engine with having another power absorbing divice. A very unexpected therefore big surprise was the super fast delivery through a logistic company called ezone. From ordering in the US to using the new fridge aboard Altimate it took exactly one week. Amazing!

Our first drink with ice cubes from the freezer , yammi. PROST!

Finally I am back to being up to date with writing the blog. Yess! Today we will enjoy watching the first half final of the soccer championship Italy against Spain, together with some volleyball guys at the beach Grande Anse. After the game we plan to play some volleyball, lets see what happens…

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