22nd February 2022
Domberg, Suriname – Prickly Bay, Grenada via Visselldrop, Suriname & St George’s, Grenada
“I’m going where the sun keeps shining.
Through the pouring rain.
Going where the weather suits my clothes.
Banking off on the northeast wind.
Sailing on a summer breeze.
And skipping over the ocean like a stone.”
Harry Nilsson coined his famous words to describe the journey of a the ‘Midnight Cowboy’. Equally these words could have been used to accompany Ruffian’s trip from the wet world of Suriname to the blue water, clear skies and idyllic climate of the Eastern Caribbean.
Before we could get to the blue seas and skies, Suriname had one last ‘surprise’ in store for us. As we motored along the river to its entrance, it rained, as we waited for the tide to turn, it rained and as we readied Ruffian for 100’s of miles of offshore sailing, it rained. With the sun rising and the tide turning we braved the rain content in the knowledge that we wouldn’t dissolve like aspirin and dry decks and clothes were not far away.
As we sailed offshore the depth slowly increased, but the water resolutely remained a deep shade of brown. As the fishing fleet become thinner and thinner we knew we were in for a change and suddenly the water was transformed into the blue shades we were looking for. The change was stark and fast like someone had drawn a line and banished the brown water from heading any further offshore.
We settled into life offshore and after weeks in flat and tranquil waters Fiona had to nurse Iain for mile after mile. She prepared meals and served them up with Iain showing such gratitude that he wanted to see them time and time again. No sooner had Iain scoffed a breakfast of muesli followed by coffee, he saw pureed coffee followed by muesli being ejected over the guard wires. Lunch was a delicious mixture of Russian salad served on a bed of lettuce with deep red watermelon for pudding, and true to form, Iain then saw streams of red and lumpy white hurled over the side.
As the miles ticked by the challenges started coming thick and fast. Instead of being on an empty ocean we found ourselves surrounded by all the trappings of oil fields. Oil rigs the size of small cities dotted the horizon, while mobile refining ships burnt off gas illuminating the sky. Tankers zipped around in every direction and survey ships dragged sonar devices on 7-mile tows. It felt like we were sailing through a slalom as we headed one way to avoid exclusion zones before having to radically change course before we became a hazard to shipping.
As we sailed our slalom we spoke to every ship and every ship seemed happy to relay information, help us keep clear and talk about their work. Each one also expressed surprise at our presence and with some classic ‘dry’ British humour, wished us ‘the best of luck’.
The rain, brown water and confused seas felt a long way behind us as we turned left at Tobago and headed for Grenada. The skies above us were blue and little fluffy clouds were sprinkled over the hills that lay beyond sight. We were racing along in classic Caribbean conditions, and boy did we have a race on.
We counted the miles down in unison to watching the clock tick down while the sun made its unstoppable move to the horizon. The sanctuary of Grenada hove into view as the sun started to touch the sea and as we picked up a mooring ball the sun flashed green disappearing and leaving Ruffian bobbing on clear waters and gently swaying under the palm trees of the Caribbean.
Just like Harry Nilsson wrote. We sailed through the pouring rain in a north east wind to a land where the weather suits our clothes, the sun is shining and we skipped over the ocean like a stone.
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