Saturday, May 30, 2020

BVI to Grenada

British Virgin Islands to Grenada

Saturday, 30-May-2020

On the Move Again
Grateful for BVI's having us for so long and Grenada for opening their borders
but look at all the islands we are missing. Maybe next year.

We have received permission from Grenada to enter the country. Our arrival period is scheduled from June 3rd to 5th, we are hoping to arrive on the morning of June 3rd but Mother Nature will have the final say on the insignificant plans of man. As I have been saying, Grenada, at 12 degrees North latitude is south of the usual Hurricane tracks and storage of international sailboats is an important part of the Grenadian economy. They have come up with a very organized plan where you apply for entry stating your desired arrival. There are only three arrival days per week and they only schedule a certain number of entries per week. Once in Grenada, there are four coordinates in a rectangle on the more protected west coast. You must register your arrival and stay in the quarantine anchorage for fourteen days. You may swim around your own boat but you may not swim to any other boats.

Grenada has had thirty-one cases of Covid 19 and no fatalities. They are trying hard to maintain that while opening an important part  of their economy. The Marine and Yachting Association of Grenada (Mayag) have worked hard to put this plan in place and as we enter the second week of implementation we hear it is being very successful. So a thank you to Mayag is indeed in order.

Secondly, our departure from the BVI is a bitter sweet moment. The local islanders have always been friendly and always helpful. The islands are beautiful and the snorkelling incredible. For the last month we needed to stay close to wifi while we sorted out our Immigration status and to stay in contact with Grenada. The Marina staff are handling their changed role very well even while there is obvious economic hardship on the Islands. We would happily leave the boat here but the signs of hurricanes Irma and Maria are evident still so leave we must.

I hurt my back a few weeks ago and fortunately Eureka Medical Clinic is close to the Village Cay Marina. The GP and Radiologist I first dealt with were extremely good and within an hour I had been checked, five xrays taken and was in to see Dr. Klas Buring an Orthopedic Surgeon. Two cortisone shots over the following week and I am feeling much better.

As you will see on the accompanying map we are passing a lot of islands on our trip to Grenada. It had always been our intention to stop at most of them on our trip south but most are still closed or would require a quarantine plus we would not be able to do any sightseeing. We are hopeful that next year we will be able to cruise north through these islands, the Lesser Antilles, before heading west to Cartagena, Columbia.

Not certain when we may get a flight back to western Canada and will have to do another fourteen day quarantine there when we arrive. The new Corona Virus normal. Hope you are all well, stay safe.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Village Cay Marina wifi at last

Village Cay Marina, Road Town, British Virgin Islands

Tuesday, 5-May-2020

Covid 19 Update
Kanilela's route in green, ferry routes dotted lines, I borrowed this map

From what we hear the BVI’s have only had six Covid-19 cases with one fatality. The shutdown of all incoming travellers and a three week 24 hour per day curfew appear to have worked for now. We have just finished an additional week that has seen a easing of the 24 hour curfew to a 6:00am to 1:00pm opening with permitted shopping at locations that have been inspected and are able to adhere to the new safety requirements. Basically these are: no mask no service, a hand wash station with running water and soap at the entrance that must be used, limited numbers inside the establishment based on the size of the store, line-ups, both to get into the store and to the cashiers must be clearly marked with six foot spacing between people. Some places have sufficient space that they have placed chairs at six foot intervals and seniors are generally invited to go to the head of the line. When this was offered, it must be my grey beard around the N95 mask, I commented that I was fine waiting in line but the young man controlling the movement of the line said, “No sir, it is not based on need but just our respect for the elderly.” Some locations have laser thermometers checking your temperature prior to entering the store and many places have installed clear plexiglass barriers at the cashiers. The vast majority of people wear masks even when walking on the street to the point that you notice people who are not wearing a mask. Most people are very supportive of their Premier and the measures being taken.

Kanilela at the near empty Road Town, Village Cay Marina
At the marina, we have greater mobility than most because we are able to leave the boat to go to the laundry, showers, toilets and wifi access in the closed open air restaurant. There are only three boats with people onboard on our dock that would normally have 30 plus cruisers. We came into the marina the day after the full quarantine to re-provision and access wifi to determine what our future options may be. Our visas for the BVI’s expired on April 13th and now that Immigration has re-opened we have an interview scheduled for May 7th, after which we will probably return to Cooper Island.
There are at least 200 charter boats moored in Road Town and an equal number in the other bays.
This is a huge hit to the local economy that only has a five month long season.
Since our last post of day six at The Bight on Norman Island we sailed over to Nanny Cay Marina to re-provision and were greeted with the news that there would be a lock down of some sort coming so we quickly shopped and managed to buy a new mppt controller for the solar panels. We topped up fuel and water and headed to Manchineel Bay on Cooper Island. 
The closed Cooper Island Beach Club rebuilt after hurricane Irma and Maria
Cooper Island has a few residences, a couple of which are available for rental and a large resort, the Cooper Island Beach Club. I still had a tee shirt from the Beach Club that I bought twenty years earlier but when we went to the dinghy dock we were met by a young lady who told us we could not go ashore, they were closed. We asked about the people in the bar and were told that it was just staff and when we asked if we could get the wifi password she said, “No, we are shutting it down.” Not very friendly, especially considering we had been coming to buy an expensive meal. I could do a blog about our four weeks anchored in the bay during which the resort staff, when walking on the beach or the few times they went swimming would not ever look at us. Finally, four weeks later the wifi is still operational and we still do not have the password. 
Kanilela and Raven at Manchineel Bay, Cooper Island, usually just the two of us for 4 weeks.
When we arrived at Cooper there were seven boats in a bay that usually has fifty and after two more days there were just two boats, Kanilela and Raven with Eileen and David from California on board.

The water is very clear in the bay and there is a reef on the south end at Cistern Point so snorkelling from the boat was great. After one week at anchor, the government issued a notice that there would be a two week total lockdown and for three days prior to that shopping would be permitted alphabetically by last name letter so we were the third day. 
Kanilela's routes in green
We heard that lines were long in Road Town on Tortola so we sailed up to Spanish Town on Virgin Gorda. The marina was closed but they let us stay, the only ones on the dock, for two nights. There were line-ups at the store and only a few people had masks. Spacing was somewhat haphazard. People were still coming to terms with what this meant and many felt that Virgin Gorda was remote from the problem. All of this happening when the signs of devastation from hurricanes Irma and Maria were still so evident. At least 30 to 40 big boats up on the hard, many with no masts or broken masts and visible damage everywhere.

Kanilela at a very empty Spanish Town Marina
We returned to Manchineel Bay on Cooper Island for the two week total lockdown. 
Green Turtle about 90cm, 3'
Again the snorkelling was great and Mags got to use her new paddle board. We were certain that the turtles became less cautious as the weeks progressed. Possibly no charter boat crews chasing them and no locals who still eat turtle out on the water. It was strange to look out on Sir Francis Drake Channel and not see any boats other than the small freighters that were provisioning the islands. 
Baby French Angelfish about 12.5cm, 5"
A couple of times we saw a police boat and a Custom’s boat run past Cooper but with only two boats in the bay they just passed by staying well off shore. We heard that the bays with more boats had frequent visits and people were told not to go ashore or to go on paddle boards.

Just as the second week was coming to an end the Premier added an additional week to the quarantine period. The fatality had just occurred so they were watching contacts. 
One of our resident Barricudas about 120cm, 4', lots of big Tarpons and Remoras liked the shade.
On Kanilela all was good, fresh foods dwindling and internet problematic but texting was still working quite well and one of the residences for rent on Cooper “Quart-a-Nancy Point” has a live web camera so family and friends could see our boat. Google Quart-a-Nancy Point to find the site. We rowed the dinghy from Quart-a-Nancy Point to Cistern Point numerous times and often walked the south end of the bay, never encroaching on the Beach Club’s property, just to feel terra firma under our feet.
Mags taking it easy off "our" beach, cute pink and yellow cottages with no guests for 4 weeks.

Going forward is a question mark. As our friend Rob on Avante said, “Making cruising plans is so 2019…..” Obviously we are in the hurricane zone and the season begins in early June. Seeing the devastation that Irma and Maria left in their track staying is not an option. Our best, closest destinations are either Grenada or Trinidad, both are south of the usual hurricane tracks. Grenada, 410 miles south, is our preference and we have been in contact with one of the haulout boatyards for space. We have not received confirmation yet in part because Grenada, like all of the Caribbean Islands, is closed to any entries and the yards are not sure how many bookings are coming. We have registered with a group called who are working with the marinas and boatyards that store boats through the summer months to lobby their government for some relaxation of the entry of boats for storage. We are prepared register with Immigration by radio and to do a two week quarantine once we arrive there. Storage of the cruising boats from June to November is a big industry for Grenada so we are hopeful some arrangement can be made. A flight back to Vancouver is far enough down the road we are not even looking into it given the ever changing situation.

To all our family and friends, be safe. Until we have an antiviral vaccination for Covid-19 take the logical precautions, adhere to social distancing protocols, wear a mask in public, and wash your hands. Remember, you wear a mask to protect me from you and I wear a mask to protect you from me. I hope I never have to live with the thought that I brought the virus to someone who later died and I hope that you too will never be confronted with that thought. This is easy. All we have to do is ignore stupid political rhetoric that has no factual basis.
Banded Butterflyfish about 20cm, 8"
Juvenile Damselfish about 7.5cm, 3"

Whitespotted Trunkfish about 40cm, 16"
Blue Chromis about 10cm, 4"
Four Eyed Butterflyfish about 15cm, 6"
Juvenile Stoplight Parrotfish about 30cm, 12" with Sargeant Majors and Urchins
Southern Sting Ray about 150cm, 5' with a Jack
Squid about 25cm, 10"
Smooth Trunkfish about 25cm, 10"
Juvenile Stoplight Parrotfish about 35cm, 14"
Porcupine Fish about 45cm, 18'
Stoplight Parrotfish about 60cm, 24"
Xmas Tree Anemones and corals
Finger Coral and Featherduster Anemones