Now What?

July 13, 2015

posted from Leland, NC

You will remember from our last post that during the first week after we returned from Grenada we spent less than two days in our house.  Finally we are here.

Now what?

We are trying to figure out how to live in our house.   OK, so we usually know how to turn the lights on and off (…but there are three wall switches that work that light and I can’t find any of them…), adjust the temperature in the shower, open and close the garage door, run the dishwasher, cook on the stove (at least Jackie does), play the stereo (more or less), etc., but it takes time to settle in to a rhythm.  Where do you sit and read (do we even have the right furniture)? How do you decide whether to eat dinner on the porch or at the island or at the dining table and who sits where at which place?

Probably the biggest is figuring out where to keep things – and then remembering where you moved it to when you decided the last place it was in wasn’t right.

This is serious stuff.   It can’t be taken lightly.

We tend to visit furniture stores at lot.  The people at the consignment store have us on speed dial in case certain things come in.

But we are managing despite not knowing where anything goes.  It feels like a Sisyphean effort sometimes, but the general clutter seems to be diminishing as more things find homes or at least temporary hiding places.

So what else do we do?

NEW TOYS

Alas, Jackie’s beloved iPad bit the dust.  It served her well, but it just wouldn’t work anymore, so she bought herself a new tablet.  We’ll see how she does with an Android.

We will soon embark on another adventure where it would be really nice to have a good underwater camera.  We have a camera with a waterproof housing, but it’s too clunky to travel with and besides it’s on the boat.  We started camera shopping and picked an Olympus TG-4 because it takes good pictures and it has a reputation for being rugged (we’ve drowned our share of cameras).  Many of the pictures in this blog posting were taken by me while getting used to the new camera.

Still trying to discover the secret of taking a good selfie

Still trying to discover the secret of taking a good selfie

 

HANGING OUT

We are retired.  Sometimes we just relax on the screened in porch and read or watch the world march past.  One day we got energetic and went on a bird walk at Airlie Gardens.  Another day we went to a bird supply store for a presentation on raptors.  It seems we see a lot of birds.

A group of turkeys walk by at the back of our yard.

A group of turkeys walk by at the back of our yard.

This group of wild turkeys wandered through the back yard one afternoon.  There were at least three adults and quite a few young ones.  Later we saw the group crossing the entrance drive to the community.

We see a variety of birds in the trees and birdbath behind the house including cardinals, mocking birds, bluebirds, finches, thrashers, and a few other small species.

The birdbath is especially fun because it’s in the open and the birds usually hang out almost long enough to get the camera.

Here is a finch we saw at Airlie Gardens

Here is a finch we saw at Airlie Gardens

Here is a finch in the birdbath

Here is a finch in the birdbath

A blue bird tries to splash out all the water

A bluebird tries to splash out all the water

 

C'mon in, the water's fine. Not if it makes me look like that!

“C’mon in, the water’s fine.”
“Not if it makes me look like that!”

A dragonfly we saw at Airlie Gardens

A dragonfly we saw at Airlie Gardens

The screech owl we got to pet at the Wild Bird Center's raptor presentation

The screech owl we got to pet at the Wild Bird Center’s raptor presentation

We hear a lot of insect noise in the evening.  One night we thought we heard an interesting bird, but when we described the call to our next door neighbors they told us it is a bobcat that lives in the area.  Previously we had seen some deer tracks and some other tracks that we couldn’t identify at the time, but now we are sure they were the bobcat’s

GETTING IN SHAPE

The community has a nice complex for sports and socializing.  There is “The Grand Lanai,” (Lanai is the trendy term for enclosed porch) a large open building used for all kinds of gatherings.  It has a kitchen, giant TV, and a local restaurateur is now running the bar in the evenings.  No cash accepted – credit cards only although I think they will put you on a subscription.

Behind the building is a nice pool.  To one side are tennis and basketball courts and to the other side is a fitness center.   Jackie likes to use the fitness center in the mornings and we often go to the pool and swim laps after dinner when it isn’t crowded and the sun is down.

The bottom of the pool

The bottom of the pool

Bathing beauty

Bathing beauty with surrealistic head

Jackie tries out her new mask and snorkle

Jackie tries out her new mask and snorkle

We also have the bicycles in working order and ride a little although it’s hot during the day.

BOTTEGA (1. the studio of a master artist, in which artists, apprentices, or students learn by participating in the work.)

Bottega Art and Wine is one of those places you might never wander into based on what you see from the street unless maybe you had an appliance you needed to get fixed.  It’s a rather plain, nondescript storefront with a few old portable black and white TVs in the window.  (It must be the block for places that aren’t what they seem.  Next door is Hell’s Kitchen, which turns out to be a big sports bar.)

Step inside and you find a long bar on one wall in the front half.  The back has couches, chairs, and small tables.  The walls are festooned with paintings and other artsy things.  It’s a bit reminiscent of college in the late 60’s/early 70’s.  We found that a drumming circle forms on Tuesday nights, so we stopped by.  It took a while for a quorum to form and for the drummers to settle in, but soon they were beating out African rhythms.

Drum circle (looking towards the street)

Drum circle (looking towards the street)

Drum circle (looking towards the back)

Drum circle (looking towards the back)

The drumming went on for a short time and then one of the women who was wandering around started belly dancing.  The drumming picked up and she danced for a while.  Finally she stopped and another woman started belly dancing.  Evidently they are regulars there and enjoy dancing to the drumming.

Sometime during the evening people started wandering through the drum circle and going out the back door into a little courtyard.  After it was dark someone started fire dancing.  When the first person stopped another started and about five or six people eventually took turns.  Nothing like beer, wine and flaming kerosene to get the party going.  The whole evening was quite a show and evidently it was a typical Tuesday night.  We will be back for sure.

One of the many fire dancers

One of the many fire dancers

Fire dancer gets going

Fire dancer gets going

ROAD TRIP

OK, so it was only to Shallotte – less than an hour down the road. I found out that an old sailing friend, Captain Jim and his wife Debbie, have been spending time at a waterfront house not too far from us.  The house was Debbie’s grandfather’s and it (along with most of the houses on the street) is still in the family.  Jackie and I visited them recently and although we haven’t seen each other in eight years or so, it felt like we had just seen them yesterday.

The Intercoastal Waterway just around the corner from Captain Jim's

The Intercoastal Waterway just around the corner from Captain Jim’s

NEXT: Crossing the line.

 

Hard Aground (unless sailing)

July 3, 2015

posted from Leland, NC

Well here we are back in the US of A, but we aren’t quite done with tales of Grenada.  There remain a few things to talk about that we did before we left the island.

Compass Rose in Mt. Hartman Bay.

Compass Rose in Mt. Hartman Bay.

BIRDING IN THE DOVE SANCTUARY

One of our favorite things to do is take morning birding walks through the Grenada Dove Sanctuary.  Amazingly we only did it once this year and that was in late May.  It was a nice walk, but the brush is fairly low and dense so the birds easily hide in the bushes and trees.  We eventually saw quite a few birds, but not much out of the ordinary.

Grenada Flycatcher

Unidentified Bird

Mangrove cuckoo

BOAT BUILDING

I’m not the only one who had a major project this year.  Dick from Lady Sybil decided to build a dinghy.  He arranged with Secret Harbour Marina to use some space near the restaurant to do the work.  Charles from Margaret Sharon helped him with the project.  It was fun to watch the dink go together and it was beautiful when it was done.

Dick and Charles build a dinghy next to the marina restaurant.

Dick and Charles build a dinghy next to the marina restaurant.

They clamped the gunnels on with split pvc pipe.

They clamped the gunnels on with split pvc pipe.

Charles prepares to fit another piece.

Charles prepares to fit another piece.

GRAND ETANG

Monty, Jackie’s drumming instructor has talked about going to Grand Etang, a park in the Grenada highlands, to drum and play music as the full moon rises.  Jackie organized a bus and invited along Monty and a few other musicians.  Once there, a few of us hiked up the mountain to take in the view.

Looking down at Grand Etang Lake

Looking down at Grand Etang Lake.  Notice the low cloud layer.

 

Southwestern point of Grenada

Southwestern point of Grenada

Islands manufacture their own climates to some extent.  The trade winds force warm, moist, sea air up the mountains where it cools and creates clouds.  Luckily for us, the clouds stayed above us instead of enveloping us in fog.  This made it a bit damp and chilly feeling and blocked out the moonrise, so we didn’t stay as long as we thought we might.  Despite the weather, the musicians jammed and enjoyed the afternoon.

(L) Monty, Jackie's drum instructor and (R) George, our bus driver and boat watcher

(L) Monty, Jackie’s drum instructor and (R) George, our bus driver and boat watcher

The Musicians: (L to R) Hella, Fleming, Trudy, Jackie, xx, Andy, Jack, and Monty

The Musicians: (L to R) Hella, Fleming, Trudy, Jackie, André, Andy, Jack, and Monty

RETURN TO THE US

Finally it was time head back to the States.  Once again, the pilot took us over the south coast of Grenada and we got a bird’s eye view of the anchorages.

NE portion of Mt. Hartman Bay and Compass Rose

NE portion of Mt. Hartman Bay and Compass Rose

South coast of Grenada. Mt. Hartman Bay is in the lower left corner.

South coast of Grenada. Mt. Hartman Bay is in the lower left corner.

Here is the south coast of Grenada looking east.  The SE portion of Mt. Hartman Bay is in the lower left corner.  Up a little and to the right is Hog Island with the anchorage to the left of the island.  beyond the Hog Island bridge is Clarks Court Bay.  Right edge of the middle of the picture is Calvigney Island and just beyond it is Le Phare Bleu Bay.  We can reach any of that area in our dinghy in 15 minutes or less.

Other than a flight delay causing us to get a later connection, the trip went well and shortly after arriving we had all house and car systems running.

DICKERSON 50th ANNIVERSARY RENDEZVOUS 

Not to long before we were to leave Grenada we realized that we would get back in time for the Dickerson 50th Anniversary Rendezvous in Oxford, MD, but we wouldn’t have much time to spare.  We can’t go to a sailing rendezvous and stay in a motel, so we started looking for boats with extra berths and in need of crew.  Dave and Siobhan heard of our plight and invited us to stay with them on their Dickerson 41, Down Home.  We have stayed with them and their puppy, Kip, before and had a great time so we were really looking forward to it.

The offer included sailing from their marina in Baltimore to the rendezvous and back, but we had to move fast.  We landed in Wilmington late Tuesday night and we were in Baltimore by late Thursday afternoon.  Dave and I finished some boat projects including installing his new chart plotter.

Friday morning we headed down the Patapsco River and then south down the Chesapeake Bay. We motored in light winds at first, but eventually did some sailing.

Sailing on Down Home with Siobhan, Dave, and Kip

Sailing on Down Home with Siobhan, Dave, and Kip

High tide had just passed so we were able to cut through Knapps Narrows.  We arrived in Oxford and had time to spare before the evening get together.

 

We exit Knapps Narrows without bumping the bottom or top

We exit Knapps Narrows without bumping the bottom or top

 

Lots and Lots of Dickerson Owners

Lots and Lots of Dickerson Owners.  From left to right they are….uhhh… never mind.

Saturday is the big regatta where we race around in the Choptank River and the winner becomes Commodore for the next year.  We did well leading most of the fleet, but our rating – based in part on past performance – kept us from winning.  Don and D Wogaman on Southern Cross finished close behind us and won our class.  Bill Toth won the show on Starry Night.

Old Dickerson woody

Old Dickerson woody

Pre-start action

Pre-start action

Close mark rounding

Close mark rounding

 

Vigilant race crew

Vigilant race crew

That evening we all gathered at the Tred Avon Yacht Club for the big dinner, prize giving, installing of the new Commodore, and other sundry entertainment.  There were a lot of Dickerson owners in attendance and  Dickerson 41 owners were well represented.  To the best of our knowledge nineteen 41s were built, but one sank in the Caribbean.  We had six boats at the rendezvous and two more represented by their owners. Not a bad turnout!

Dickerson 41 owners

Dickerson 41 owners

Jackie and I are in the back row – Compass Rose

The man to the left of me and the woman in front of me are Hank and Denise Cope – Toogoodoo

The pirate is Bruce Franz (Tucky skipped the picture) – Hemisphere Dancer

Dave Fahrmeier is to the right of the pirate and Siobhan is between the ladies in blue and yellow – Down Home

The man with the red cap and beard is Don Wogaman and D is in the blue dress – Southern Cross

The man in the blue shirt and the woman in the yellow dress are Daniel Pomerleau and Louise Maillette –Douce Folie 1

The man in the red hat is Jeff Stephenson and his cousin John is in the black shirt – Cavu

That leaves the couple in the lower right, Bill and Chris Burry – Plover

The rendezvous officially ends on Sunday, but there is usually a post-rendezvous cruise and this year was no exception.  Part of the fleet sailed across the Choptank River and up Broad Creek to anchor for the night.  Five of the Dickerson 41s (Southern Cross, Toogoodoo, Down Home, Cavu, Plover) participated as well as a few other boats.  They were Harriet and Parker Hallam on Frigate Connie,  Randy and Barbara Bruns on Rhythms in Blue who joined the 41’s in the raftup.  Barry and Judy Creighton on Crew Rest and Jim and Phaedra Hontz on Troubadour (ex Klame) anchored separately.

Seven Dickersons rafted together

Seven Dickersons rafted together

Bill, Chris, and Flaco of Southern Cross

Bill, Chris, and navigator Flaco of Plover

Hank and Denise on Toogoodoo

Hank and Denise on Toogoodoo

D on Southern Cross

D on Southern Cross

The raft broke up for the evening – a little late – so it was interesting to watch everyone anchoring in the dark.  All went well.  The next day it was back to Baltimore and the day after we drove back to our house near Wilmington, NC.

Next: We stay at the house for…

CATCHING UP

June 6, 2015

posted from Mt. Hartman Bay, Grenada

The last post was about our return to Grenada and covered our travels up to July 2014.  This post will cover us up to almost June 2015.  To say that much has happened since then would be a gross understatement.

We returned to the US in late July.  We visited relatives and friends and ended up in Detroit.  From there we flew to Africa and toured in Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa.  It was an amazing trip.

 

Elephant checking us out.  Close? The yellow thing at the top of the picture is the roof of our LandCruiser

Elephant checking us out. Close? The yellow thing at the top of the picture is the roof of our LandCruiser

 

Elephants playing in the river

Elephants playing in the Chobe River, Botswana

 

Rhinoceros_8543a

Rhinoceroses, Karongwe Park, South Africa

 

zebras_1484a

Zebras. Hwange Game Preserve, Zimbabwe

 

Lilac-breasted Roller

Lilac-breasted Roller. Chobe River, Botswana

 

Cheetah eating a warthog in the Okvango Delta, Botswana

Cheetah eating a warthog in the Okvango Delta, Botswana

warthogs_5356

Warthogs – not yet eaten. Kambi Ya Tembo, Tanzania

 

Hippos. Chobe River, Botswana

Hippos. Chobe River, Botswana

 

Lion.  Serengeti, Tanzania

Lion. Serengeti, Tanzania

 

We always get stuck. (L) A wheel falls into an anteater's den, Kambi Ya Tembo, Tanzania. (R) Buried in the sand, Okvango Delta, Botswana

We always get stuck. (L) A wheel falls into an anteater’s den, Kambi Ya Tembo, Tanzania. (R) Buried in the sand, Okvango Delta, Botswana

 

 

Just over five weeks and 8000+ pictures later we flew back to Detroit, collected our car, went to a niece’s wedding, visited more family and friends, and drove to North Carolina.  Finally we moved into our new house just outside of Wilmington.  Then Thanksgiving in Virginia, a holiday party in DC, Christmas in Detroit and Cleveland, and New Years Eve in Oriental, NC. On New Year’s Day Jackie flew to Missouri to help our niece who was about to deliver her third child and I (Eric) sailed in the New Year’s Day Regatta in Oriental and then returned to our house.

BACK TO GRENADA

I started my trip to Grenada on Jan 6, but it was a night in Miami, a detour through St. Lucia, and a lost bag later that I finally arrived on Compass Rose.  The batteries were low, but otherwise all was well.

We strip most of the gear off the deck and stow it below when we leave for extended periods of time and it took the next couple weeks putting everything back together and doing some maintenance and repair on items before they went back in service.

GRENADA SAILING WEEK

Boat maintenance and repair was interrupted at the end of January by the start of Grenada Sailing Week.  I was signed on again as crew on Jaguar.  In the past I was on the main sheet, but I moved to the pit for this regatta.  That meant taking care of the halyards for the main, both genoas (we were rated for a second headsail rather than a spinnaker),  topping lifts and downhauls for two spinnaker poles and pulling the second headsail below when we lowered it.  I shared these duties with Sam, another crew member and between us we kept that part of the boat running smoothly.

The racing was a lot of fun and the crew performed well, but we had a couple bad starts, a close encounter that caused us to do a penalty turn, and a short grounding off Grande Anse Beach (no big deal for a Chesapeake Bay sailor).  We were rated as the slowest boat in our fleet so all the other boats had to give us time at the finish, but there were a couple times when we regretted not having the spinnaker after all.  When all was said and done we finished fifth out of seven boats and one point out of fourth place.  Although disappointed with our results we still had a lot of fun.

Jaguar crashes to weather

Jaguar crashes to weather

As usual, the Grenada Workboat Races were held on the weekend in the middle of the regatta.  It’s always fun to take the day off and watch the races from Grand Anse beach.

Grand Anse Beach workboats

Grand Anse Beach workboats

Beating to the finish

Beating to the finish

Our niece, Autumn, had been born a couple weeks later than expected, so Jackie spent a little more time in Missouri and then flew back to close up the house.  Jackie finally arrived in Grenada on the last day of the regatta.  By that time the boat was back together and the systems were all up and running.  Unfortunately, I had discovered some rot in the starboard cockpit coaming.  Further inspection found a lot of rot in that board, rot in the winch base, and rot in the deck.  And so I commenced on a fairly major repair project.

CRUISING: FIXING YOUR BOAT IN PARADISE

The problem with boat projects is that once you get started you usually identify other repairs, maintenance, and improvements that you should do while you are working on that part of the boat, and this was no exception.  The deck rot was caused by the way some hoses were routed, so those needed to be redone, The propane locker was always a little substandard and the tank needed proper mounts, and it was time to replace the cockpit coaming limber holes that allowed water in as well as out with proper drains, and …… you get the picture.

As of this writing the deck has been repaired and the hose routings have been upgraded.  The cockpit coaming and winch base have been rebuilt and painted and everything is assembled.  We could actually go sailing if we weren’t preparing to fly back to the US.  The plan was to paint the deck this year, but we will have just enough time to finish this repair.

Rotted cockpit coaming and winch base

Rotted cockpit coaming and winch base

Coaming and winch base core made with honeycomb panel

Coaming and winch base core made with honeycomb panel

 

Ready for fairing

Ready for fairing

 

Back together and ready to sail

Back together and ready to sail

FUN AND GAMES

It hasn’t been all nose to the grindstone.  There has been Mexican Train Dominoes, Latin dance lessons, jam sessions, jazz and poetry night at the museum, Trivia Night at the Tiki bar, Sunday afternoons at Roger’s Beach Bar, and rotis at Nimrods as well and African drumming.

Roger's Beach Bar on Hog Island hosted a pig roast

Roger’s Beach Bar on Hog Island hosted a pig roast

Jam session at Secret Harbour

Jam session at Secret Harbour

Jackie even got invited by Monty, her drumming instructor, to play with him at a gig at Savvy’s beach bar at Mount Cinnamon resort.

Jackie played as a guest drummer at Savvy beach bar

Jackie played as a guest drummer at Savvy beach bar

COMINGS AND GOINGS

There has been a little excitement in and around the anchorage.  There was a boat that hurricane Ivan tossed up on the rocks in 2004 and has been sitting there ever since.  One day a large tug boat came in and dragged if off.  The word is that it will be used as a floating workshop by someone in the next bay.

The last wreck from Hurricane Ivan is pulled from the rocks and refloated

The last wreck from Hurricane Ivan is pulled from the rocks and refloated

Just after this wreck was removed, Bob from the old Clarkes Court Marina brought the Oasis bar around from Clarkes Court Bay where it was anchored after being placed on floating docks last year (see previous post)

This Oasis is a dry place surrounded by water

This Oasis is a dry place surrounded by water

One day we had a boat break its mooring while the owner was away, but a bunch of us got to it just before it hit another boat and moved it to a new mooring with our dinghies.  That night the boat that almost got hit broke its mooring. Luckily the owners woke up and got the boat under control and anchored before they hit any one.

REEFer MADNESS

The really big event was the rescue of Ratan, a boat that went up on the reef between Mt. Hartman Bay and Hog Island.  A bunch of cruisers in dinghies responded as well as Dieter with his big yellow RIB (rigid inflatable boat) from Le Phare Bleu.  The boat was upright and had and anchor out to keep the surf from washing them further onto the reef.  A strong surf was pushing the boat around and made it quite challenging to get close with a dinghy.

Dieter tried to pull him off, but with no success.  Another cruiser, Stephan,  and his son took a halyard from the stranded boat and tried to pull it over sideways to get the keel up, but the boat had a winged keel so it was difficult to get it free.  Then his outboard quit and wouldn’t restart so his son took the halyard and transferred to Stewart’s (Iguana) dinghy so they could continue to tip the boat.  I took the first dinghy in tow and took him out of the surf zone to a channel marker where he could work on his engine.

Dieter decided he couldn’t get the boat free with his RIB, so he went to get Le Phare Bleu’s tug.  When he returned George from Survival Anchorage used a long line he had in his dinghy as a messenger line and took it from the tug to the stranded boat so they could use it to pull in the heavy tow line.  He got it there and one of the people on the boat started to talk to him.  Just then a wave broke on the reef and flipped George’s dinghy.  I went to help George, Axle and Mary Clare (Azaya) followed in case they were needed.  George and I gathered his gear, got him in my dinghy, and towed his dinghy in to a beach.  He has a hard dinghy, so it was easy to right.

We got George’s dinghy bailed out and headed towards George’s boat to get oil for the fuel and some tools.  We got the rest of the stuff he needed and went to a dock where George could work on his engine.  He drained the carb, flushed the water out of the engine, put in new plugs, and it started on the first pull.

Dieter got Ratan off the rocks with his tug and towed her to Le Phare Bleu.  No word on what damage she might have sustained.

The great thing about this event was that a lot of people dropped what they were doing and responded immediately to Rattan, a boat in distress.  Enough people so that when unexpected problems arose there were people available to help.  Some cruisers like Peter and Anne (Spice of Life) never got the opportunity to help, but they bobbed around cold and wet farther from shore and in rougher conditions than they would normally venture out in, to stand by just in case they were needed.

Thanks to everyone who participated.  There are a few cruisers who showed up whose names I don’t know – sorry I can’t mention you, but you know who you are.

NEXT: Return to the US

RETURN TO GRENADA

September 6, 2014

posted from Johannesburg, South Africa

We had a fine sail from Carriacou to Grenada.  The wind was abaft the beam, the seas were fairly calm, and once we figured out the how to play the current we made good time.  The wind usually dies on the leeward side of Grenada, but it stayed steady most of the way down the island.  We had to motor a few miles past St. George, but the wind filled in at the lower half of the bay.  We rounded Point Salines and got the wind and current right on the nose, so we motor-sailed and then motored the last few miles to Mt. Hartman Bay.  The trip ends by keeping Prickly Point to port and then entering Mt. Hartman Bay.

Aerial view of Grenada's south coast

Aerial view of Grenada’s south coast

 

1. Clarks Court Bay
2. Le Phare Bleu out of the picture to the left
3. Whisper Cove Marina
4. Clarks Court Bay Marina
5. Hog Island and Roger’s Beach Bar with anchorage to the right
6. Mount Hartman Bay (we like to anchor near the 6)
7. Secret Harbour Marina
8. Buget Marine, Timbers (formerly Da Big Fish), Spice Island Boatyard
9. Prickly Bay (Prickly Bay Marina and Tiki Bar to the left)
10. Prickly Point
11. Lower Woburn Dock and Nimrods Rum Shop
As you can see from the picture, Mt. Hartman Bay is guarded by some reefs, so it takes a bit of concentration on the chart, GPS, and water to find the way in.  Once we had the course figured out I was free to really look into the bay.  It was filled with boats!  I later counted over 75 boats anchored or moored and another ten or so in Secret Harbour Marina.  This is at least twice as many as there were during our last visit in 2012 and probably three times more boats in the bay than during our first visit in 2010.

Crowded Mt. Hartman Bay

Crowded Mt. Hartman Bay

We worked our way through the boats and amazingly found a place to anchor in our favorite part of the bay. We put away sailing gear and got out our anchorage gear and finally relaxed and looked around.  We recognized quite a few boats, but we realized that most of the boats in the bay appeared to be closed up.  We spotted people on only three other boats! We began to feel like we were in a Stephen King movie.

The next day was Friday and we dinghied in to the marina to catch the shopping bus.  We found that there were more people on their boats than we thought.

CHANGES

Returning to an island is fun because you get to see friends and familiar places.  This is especially true of Grenada, because we have spent so much time there.  It’s also interesting to see what’s changed and this was a year of big changes.

We already knew that Da Big Fish restaurant had closed but what we didn’t know was that is was being remodeled and planned to open at the beginning of August as The Timbers.  It would be a more upscale restaurant managed by the same fellow who runs The Tiki Bar at Prickly Bay Marina.  Da Big Fish was a bit out of the way for us to visit it on a regular basis, but we did go there once in a while by bus for special occassions.  We look forward to seeing what it is like when we get back.

The other big change was that Clarks Court Bay Marina was closing.  Bob, the owner, couldn’t quite make it financially and had to sell.  It will reopen as a boat yard and marina and the project was well underway when we left.

The marina closing was sad news. It was about a ten minute dinghy ride from Mt. Hartman Bay so we went there most wednesday nights for burgers and music and at other times for special events like cruiser cricket matches.  We attended the last Burger Night, saw usual crowd, and listened to Gylfie and Jomo play all the regular tunes and accompany Bob as he sang one for the crowd.  We saw the last burger come off the grill.  It was the end of an era.

The last two burgers served, and the grill closed.

The last two burgers served, and the grill closed.

Bob and BandDSC_3603

Bob does one last Burger Night song.

AN OASIS IN THE BAY

But there was still hope.  The center of activity was The Oasis Bar in the middle of the marina, but it didn’t fit into the new owner’s vision.  Bob devised a plan to pick up the Oasis with cranes, place it on floating pontoons, and move it to a new location.  It all sounded improbable, but steel braces were installed and cranes were scheduled.  On the appointed day, the crowd grew.  Bar Zero was opened in the building next to the Oasis.  It was dubbed Bar Zero, because when it opened there was zero alcohol available, but that was soon remedied – after all, Bob had to pay for the cranes.

Bar Zero does a booming business

Bar Zero does a booming business

But in typical Caribbean fashion the second crane was a day late arriving, but that gave Bob a second day to sell beer and wine to the assembled masses (and they said he wasn’t a shrewed business man).

Finally the moment came and the cranes lifted the Oasis, swung it mostly over the pontoons and set it down.  Then the cranes had to repostion, reattach to the bracing, and finish putting the Oasis on the raft. The hardest part of the process was getting the building positioned properly, but Bob and the crane crews persevered.

Two cranes are finally in position and ready to hoist

Two cranes are finally in position and ready to hoist

The oasis is placed on the floating dock in two separate lifts.

The oasis is placed on the floating dock in two separate lifts.

But were will Bob go with the Oasis?  No one seems to know. Last we saw it was attached to the mangroves just north of the marina.

DINGHY CONCERT

Shortly after we arrived in Grenada Le Phare Bleu hosted another dinghy concert.  The concerts have moved from the middle of Clarks Court Bay to just off Le Phare Bleu Marina.  The concerts are free, but the new (to us) venue encourages people to spend a little time and money at Le Phare Blue and shortens their shuttle service considerably.  The only real downside is that Le Phare Bleu Bay is pretty rolly and makes it hard to dance in your dinghy.

Friends having fun at the dinghy concert

Ann and Hokun having fun at the dinghy concert

MUSEUM CONCERT and DRUMS

The museum in St. George’s continues to sponser jazz and poetry every first Friday of the month.  We went to the event in July and it was great, as is usually the case.  We also met a guy who plays local drums and he put us on the track that eventually led us to Monty, a drum instructor.  Soon Jackie organized drum lessons at Secret Harbour Marina that were so well received that she had to arrange for two sessions – one for new drummers and one for more experienced drummers.

Jazz and poetry night at the museum

Jazz and poetry night at the museum

One Friday night Monty had a gig at a hotel on the beach and we attended along with our friends Hal and Inga.  It was a low key event with Monty talking with guests and drumming.  He had a friend who was supposed to play with him, but didn’t show up, so he invited Jackie to join him.  They put on a nice show.

Jackie drums with Monty on the beach

Jackie drums with Monty on the beach

INSTALLING A MOORING

While we are not excited about moorings filling anchorages, they do make sense when you put them in spots between existing moorings that are too close together to allow anchoring.

Our friend George has some of the moorings in Mt. Hartman Bay.  He and his son squeezed in a couple more while we were there.  The mooring anchor is a large concrete block with loops of steel sticking out.  He makes them at his home and has a crane truck pick them up and bring them to the bay.  The block has four 55 gallon drums and many fenders attached so that it will float when launched by the crane.

The crane lowers the mooring into the water

The crane lowers the mooring into the water

Once launched, George and his son Aaron tow the mooring to the selected spot.

Towing the mooring to position

Towing the mooring to position

Once in place, George puts on his scuba gear, gets in the water, and carefully starts cutting away the floats one at a time.  The first to go are the 55 gallon drums.  The mooring sinks deeper as George cuts away each drum.  The drums pop to the surface in dramatic fashion.  As George releases the floats, Aaron collects them and loads them into the spare dinghy. Finally George cuts away the fenders and then brings the new mooring line to the surface.

Aaron collects the loose floats

Aaron collects the loose floats

It’s a low tech process, but it works quite well.

A COUPLE RANDOM PIX

An absurd form of transportation gets worse

An absurd form of transportation gets worse

Mt. Hartman Bay sunset

Mt. Hartman Bay sunset

 

NEXT: GOING TRANSATLANTIC

ST LUCIA AND SOUTH

July 12, 2014

posted from Mt. Hartman Bay, Grenada

BIRDING ST. LUCIA

At the end of our last post we had put Dave on a bus to the airport at Vieux Fort.  It was great to have him along for the passages south from Antigua, but it was really nice to finally have the boat to ourselves.

St. Lucia hasn’t changed much.  One of the things you can always count on is the vegetable guy.  He has expanded his business by growing herbs on the top of his boat.

A visit from the fruit and vegetable boat

A visit from the fruit and vegetable boat

We relaxed a bit and looked around for some bird watching and hiking opportunities.  There is always the hike up to Fort Shirley at the north end of the anchorage.  You get a great view of Rodney Bay and there are always interesting birds.

Will he grow up to be a big shot?  A man of high caliber?

Will he grow up to be a big shot? A man of high caliber?

View of Rodney Bay from Fort Shirley

View of Rodney Bay from Fort Shirley

Bare eyed robin

Bare eyed robin

We also found that there are some nature preserves around the island.  The first we discovered was the Union Nature Trail just a couple short bus rides from Rodney Bay.  The trail is relatively short, but much of it is along the side of a ridge so you are close to the tops of the trees growing on the slope below and that’s where the birds hang out.

Adelaides Warbler

Adelaides Warbler

Lizard

Lizard

Peewee

St. Lucia Peewee

The next park we visited was the Millet Nature Trail.  We wanted to get there early, so we shared a taxi with Bruce on Wild Matilda for the forty five minute ride into the interior of the island.  There we met our guide who led us through the park and helped us find and identify various birds.  The goal was to see parrots and we did see a few, but they flew fairly high and far away. The one time they flew fairly close Bruce got a good picture of them, but Jackie and I were still working our way up the trail.

Freshwater crabs were all along the trail

Freshwater crabs were all along the trail

Mangrove Cuckoo

Mangrove Cuckoo

Saint Lucia parrots

Saint Lucia parrots (picture by Bruce)

The next big outing was to Maria Isle just outside of Vieux Fort.  Again we shared a taxi with Bruce and also Rowena and Richard on Galene for the ride to the other end of the island.  We met our guide at a small fishing harbor where he had arranged for a local pirogue to take us to the island.  At first look it appeared that we would have to traverse some serious surf, but our captain took us along shore behind the reef and then stayed in the lee of the island for the last stretch.  We hiked to a few vantage points and spent lots of time watching the birds soar off the cliffs in the high winds that constantly buffeted the island.

Our transportation to Maria Isle

Our transportation to Maria Isle

Caribbean Martins landing on the cliffs

Caribbean Martins flying near the cliffs

An inland marsh we visited after Maria Isle

An inland marsh we visited after Maria Isle

Birders in action

Birders in action

One evening we decided to sit up on the bow and relax.  I spotted something on the bow pulpit.  It was a brown boobie looking for a place to spend the night.  It got tired of the camera flash and eventually left.

Why go on bird watching hikes when they land on your boat?

Why go on bird watching hikes when they land on your boat?

We later met some people who had the same thing happen and thought it was pretty cool until the next morning when they discovered the messy bird droppings.

MARIGOT BAY

We saw some favorable weather coming and decided to head south.  The next island is St. Vincent.  We have heard enough about people being hassled by boat boys, problems with customs, and boat break-ins that we have always skipped St. Vincent.  This makes for a long trip, so we moved about eight miles south to Marigot Bay.  That brings the trip down to about sixty miles.

Marigot is essentially two small bays with a relatively narrow passage between them.  The holding and private moorings in the outer bay are pretty sketchy so we picked up marina mooring in the inner harbor.  That gives us access to the marina facilities (the showers).  A small boat came by advertising a restaurant that features live jazz in the evenings.  We caught a water taxi there after dinner and listened to a really great jazz pianist.

BEQUIA

We were off at first light the next morning.  We plan our passages at five knots so we were looking at a possible twelve hour trip and we wanted to be anchored before dark.  The winds were favorable and currents not bad.  We even sailed most of the way down the lee side of St. Vincent and kept moving well enough that we were anchored in Bequia well before dark.

We dodge some squalls on the way to Bequia

We dodge some squalls on the way to Bequia

We like Bequia because the town is small and quaint with a couple nice beaches and lots of restaurants.  There is a beach where you can find lots of sea glass and some nice snorkeling near where we anchor.

Yellow Tube Sponges

Yellow Tube Sponges

Sand Diver

Sand Diver

Trumpet fish

Trumpet fish

Smooth Trunkfish

Smooth Trunkfish

Sharp tail Eel

Sharp tail Eel

Banded Butterfly fish

Banded Butterfly fish

Bearded Fireworms and remains of a sea urchin

Bearded Fireworms and remains of a sea urchin

 

Bequia is known for model boat builders and we stopped at one of the shops to take a look.  They build some very nice, but very expensive models.

Boats in various stages of completion at the model building shop

Boats in various stages of completion at the model building shop

Just a few of the many beautiful model boats

Just a few of the many beautiful model boats

Bequia also has an interesting variety full size boats built locally.

Locally built racing sailboats

Locally built racing sailboats

Many island beaches are a study in interesting watercraft

Many island beaches are a study in interesting watercraft

Local workboats

Local workboats

The second day in Bequia we stopped at a restaurant/beach bar at the far end of the beach where we were anchored.  They had a bunch of temporary tables and seats set up on the beach.  We soon found out that a French sailing rally of thirty five boats was due in the next day.  Sure enough, early in the afternoon boats began pouring into the bay.  Now we know how the English commanders on these islands felt when the French fleet appeared on the horizon.

With that many boats coming in we knew that everyone would anchor close and they certainly did.  I have to admit, though, that they generally did a good job of fitting their boats into some pretty small spaces.  They had their party at the restaurant and were back on their boats relatively early.  Then at dawn the next morning they pulled there anchors up and headed out.

MAYREAU

We left Bequia for the Grenadine Islands – the group of islands between St. Vincent and Carriacou.  The trip is short, so we got a leisurely start rather than our usual crack of dawn departures.  We had talked about going to Tobago Cays and spending a couple days, but once we got out there we started discussing other options including checking out at Union Island and going to Carriacou.  We discarded this idea because of our relatively late start and light winds that kept our speed down.  We finally decided to go to Saline Bay, Mayreau.

We have been taking pictures of birds while sailing as long as it isn’t too rough.  We spotted these birds along the way and got some shots.  Jackie posted the pictures on Birding Aboard.  Here is her post:

Sailing from Bequia south we kept seeing these white tailed birds, often skimming the water, barely visible as the seemingly flew between the waves. We finally snapped an identifiable picture just north of Mayreau.  Unfortunately it was difficult to get a really good picture, the birds are flying fast, and we are sailing fast.

White morph of red-footed boobie

Dark morph of the white-tailed red-footed booby

More of the rare boobys

More of the rare boobys

Here is the response she got:

Nice! These are white-tailed dark morph Red-footed Booby. This species is among the most polymorphic seabirds with respect to plumage color.

Three main adult plumage types are recognized (brown or dark, white-tailed brown and white morph) with many intergrades such as white-headed and white-tailed brown, black-tailed white morph and golden white morph to add to the confusion. The latter two species are restricted in range as they may only breed on the Galapagos and Christmas Island.

Great documentation

I think it’s’ pretty cool that Jackie found some birds not known to frequent this part of the world!

We anchored in Saline Bay, Mayreau.  We had been rocked badly by a ferry last time we were in here, so we anchored well away from the path to the dock.  We had plenty of time so we did some exploring and found some fairly good snorkeling at the south end of the bay.

Blue Tang juvenile (l) Bluehead juvenile (r)

Blue Tang juvenile (yellow fish on left) Bluehead juvenile (yellow stripe on right)

The next morning we sailed the few miles to Clifton, Union Island and checked out of St. Vincent.  This is always an interesting process because we don’t trust the local moorings and we always seem to have trouble finding a good spot to anchor.  This time was no exception, so I stayed on the boat in case we dragged and Jackie took the dinghy in to check out.  She found customs in town, but then she had to go to the airport to clear out with immigration.

CARRIACOU

The next stop was Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou, an easy sail from Union Island.  We used to have to anchor at Hillsborough to clear in and then sail around to Tyrrel Bay, but there is now a Customs and Immigration office in Tyrrel Bay.

Approaching Carriacou

Approaching Carriacou

Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou

Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou

We met up with our friends Bob and Debbie on Chimayo, who we hadn’t seen since they were in Antigua in 2013.  Debbie told Jackie about  drum lessons given on the beach each day by a local guy named Bongo (aka Zulu).  She tried it out and liked it and showed quite an aptitude for traditional drumming, so yes, we now have a drum on board.

Drum lessons on the beach

Drum lessons on the beach

 

Jackie checks out a drum

Jackie checks out a drum

One of our favorite things to do in Carriacou is to take a bus most of the way up the west side of the island and then walk around the north side to Windward on the northeast side.  We started walking the dirt road and a fellow in an old Land Rover stopped to say hello.  He was Dario, from KIDO, a wildlife conservation and wildlife education group.  He took us to their facility – a modest but beautiful home converted for group education.  They are involved heavily in protecting and rescuing sea turtles.

KIDO conservation group

KIDO conservation group

We also visited the bird sanctuary at Petit Carenage and Windward, where they make boats on the beach.  We didn’t see much in the way of interesting birds, but we did get a good view of some wrecks off the north coast and some interesting things on the trail.

Humming bird

Humming bird

Carriacou crab

Carriacou crab

Cow in mangroves

Cow in mangroves

Boat being built on beach

Boat being built on beach in Windward, Carriacou

Boat being battered on beach

Boat being battered on beach

NC HURRICANES

This item chronologically belongs in the next post, but it’s best to cover it now.  We left Antigua and headed south for Grenada without a real schedule.  The only driving concern is that our insurance doesn’t cover us for named storms during hurricane season unless we are below 13 degrees latitude – the southern end of the harbor in Bequia.  We like to stop and enjoy the islands as we go, which causes us to run behind schedule.  This isn’t a big worry because we can do an overnight sail and get out of the hurricane box.  That doesn’t guarantee that we will avoid a storm, it just means we are insured.

 

Sailing from St. Lucia to Carriacou

Sailing from St. Lucia to Carriacou

So we are where we need to be, but we do have a little history with hurricanes since we started this trip.  When we headed south in 2009 we spent a few days in Southport, NC waiting for the rainy edge of Hurricane Ida to clear out.  In 2011 we had Compass Rose in Oriental, NC and Hurricane Irene came right over us.  Last year we built a house near Wilmington, NC and guess what?  Hurricane Arthur just made a close pass.  Do you see something in common here?  NC.

 

Hurricane Arthur visits North Carolina

Hurricane Arthur visits North Carolina. Our house is by the red arrow

 

 

Next: Back home in Grenada

MORE SOUTHBOUND, MORE FUN

May 31, 2014

posted from Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

SOUTH TO DOMINICA

We finally got Compass Rose back together and sailed for Portsmouth, Dominica, some twenty miles to the south.  We had a good wind angle and relatively mild seas.  The trip went well and we arrived in Dominica without incident – quite a relief after our sail to Les Saintes.  One of the River Guides met us as we approached the bay and led us to a nice sandy spot to drop the anchor.

We have always liked Dominica, but we have not spent much time there since our first visit in 2010.  We arranged for a tour of the northern part of the island.  Our driver, Winston, was pretty knowledgeable about the island’s history.  We stopped just outside of Portsmouth to visit an agricultural exhibition where we saw a lot of interesting plants, fruits and vegetables.

Winston (left) took us to an agricultural exhibition

Winston (left) took us to an agricultural exhibition

Some other notable sites he took us to were the Emerald Pool, and the Kalinago reservation.

Jackie at the emerald pool

Jackie at the emerald pool

The Kalinago, better known as the Caribs, have a reservation on Dominica’s east coast.  Part of it is set up as historical site where you can see aspects of traditional Kalinago life.

Kalinago traditional building made with modern materials

Kalinago traditional building made with modern materials

Traditional Kalinago boat

Traditional Kalinago boat

Heads DSC_1995

One sculpture for each of the elected chiefs

We also saw some beautiful views of Dominica.

Dominica's coastline

Dominica’s coastline

Dominica's mountains

Dominica’s mountains

And not to be forgotten, there was the restaurant where we had lunch while listening to Frank Sinatra’s greatest hits.

The next day we dinghied to Cabrits Park and walked around Fort Shirley.  The lower part of the fort is nicely restored and there are many ruins of old buildings and gun emplacements in the hills.

View of Prince Rupert Bay from Fort Shirley

View of Prince Rupert Bay from Fort Shirley

We also saw some crabs and a snake as we walked through the woods.

 

Dead land crab

Land crab was somebody’s lunch

The only snake we have seen since we sailed south

The only snake we have seen since we sailed south

Hermit crab

One of many hermit crabs in the park

 

Just another rainbow in Portsmouth

Just another rainbow in Portsmouth

We looked ahead to the weather and decided to do the eighteen mile run to Roseau, the biggest city in Dominica and the jumping off point for the crossing to Martinique.  It was an easy trip.  We sailed, motored, and motorsailed as the wind dictated. We tried to raise Sea Cat on the radio so we could take one of his moorings, but he never answered.  We picked up a mooring and figured that the owner would eventually stop by to collect the fee.  No one ever did, but the area is pretty rolly so we rocked back and forth most of the night.

Déjà Vu All Over Again

The next morning we motored out of Roseau.  The wind started to fill in wrapping around the island and coming north.  We worked out way out to get a sailing angle and found plenty of breeze.  We found ourselves riding a south flowing current and picking up at least an extra knot over the bottom.  The current ran headlong into the waves that were building on the shallows at the south end of the island, so the seas got lumpy and confused.

Compass Rose crashed along under reefed main at more than eight knots over ground.  The seas settled a little as we got away from land and the wind settled in to a good angle.  Just when it looked like we would have a fast, albeit wet trip, we heard a familiar noise and watched the bow sprit pop up and the jib slacken.

We had been through this drill before.  We dropped sails, stabilized the rig with spare halyards, and started motoring back against the strong current and through the confused waves.  I looked over the bow and saw that the bracket that holds the lower end of the bobstay had failed.

All spring Jackie and I had talked about spending more time in Dominica this year, but this wasn’t what we had in mind.

Pancho, a boatboy greeted us as we arrived back in Roseau and took us to one of his moorings near the Anchorage Hotel.  We told him about the problem and he recommended a welder and could arrange for transportation to the welding shop.

Dave and I got to work getting the bracket off.  I replaced the bolts that hold the bracket on while we were in the boatyard so I knew the process.  First we had to get all the chain out of the anchor locker so we could get to the bolts.  Dave laid down in the vee berth and got a wrench on the nuts while I sat in the dinghy holding onto the boat in the swell with one hand while unscrewing the bolt with the other.  The lower bolt hole is just a couple inches above the waterline, so I had to quickly put some caulk in the hole and shove the bolt back in to keep the water out.

Spreading 190 feet of chain on deck

Spreading 190 feet of chain on deck

Broken bobstay bracket

Broken bobstay bracket

The crack in the bow gets bigger

The crack in the bow gets bigger from the stress of holding the rig up without the bobstay

ISLAND TOUR II

We contact Pancho and talk to him about getting a ride to the welding shop.  The price is outrageous.  The he suggests we take a half day tour of the southern part of the island that includes dropping the part off at the welding shop and picking it up at the end of the tour.  The price is reasonable for a half day tour and he throws in the mooring rental for free.  We go for it.

Pancho picks us up early the next morning and takes us to shore where we meet Kelvin (sp?) our driver.  He takes us through town to the weld shop where I discuss the job with the welder.  He doesn’t have stock thick enough to replicate the part, but he will weld it back together and add reinforcements.  We agree to a price – not cheap, but we need the part and it has to be strong.

We hop in the van and head off into the hills of southern Dominica.  Our first stop is Titou Gorge.  There were two waterfalls separated by a very narrow gorge.  A small dam was constructed at the top of the second falls and the water diverted through a wooden pipeline – think of a very long barrel – to a hydropower plant.

Wooden pipeline diverts water to power plant

Wooden pipeline diverts water to power plant

The pool created backs up through the gorge to the base of the upper waterfall.  We swam in the water impoundment – it’s always a novelty for us to swim in fresh water.  But the coolest part was to swim into the gorge.  It is very narrow and has high walls so it feels like a cave.

Looking into Titou Gorge

Looking into Titou Gorge

We ended the swim by sitting under a small waterfall that comes from a hot spring.

 

Taking a warm spring shower

Taking a warm spring shower

Our next stop was Trafalgar Falls.  This is actually two waterfalls next to each other, and despite their proximity, they have separate water sources.  The hike down to the falls was easy and quite nice and the view of the falls was stunning.

From there we went back to the welding shop to pick up the part.  The welder had found a discarded piece of metal that was the right size, cut off the broken piece and welded in the new piece.  It was a much better fix and I was much happier with the solution despite the higher price tag.

We head back to the boat stopping at the fish market for some fresh tuna and mahi mahi, and then dropping Jackie off at the vegetable market so she could shop and then take a bus back to the boat.

Dave and I put the boat back together.  It’s a lot of fun hanging onto a bouncing dinghy while trying to tighten bolts and caulk the fitting.  The wrench and caulking gun spend more time underwater than above, but we managed.   The caulking looked perfect when we left the boat yard – now it looks like someone closed their eyes and put it on with a spatula.  Little Rosie is once more whole and ready.

MARTINIQUE BOUND

Once again we set out for St. Pierre, Martinique, some thirty five miles away.  The wind and waves are a bit milder, although it’s still windy and bumpy.  After two rigging failures so recently, I don’t think any of us really breathe easily until we drop anchor.

St. Pierre is a little town along the edge of the sea.  In the early 1900s it was considered the “Paris of the Caribbean”.  Then a volcano wiped out the town killing all but two people.  Some buildings use walls that survived the volcano, so there is a mix of building style in some spots.

We arrived too late to check in, but figured we could do rest and do it the next day.  The next day is my birthday.  It’s also Emancipation Day and there is a small carnival on the waterfront.  We dinghied in only to find that no one is allowed to tie up to the town dock or land a dinghy on the beach within 300 meters of the dock.  Eventually some other cruisers land their dinghies on the beach near us and the land owners look OK with it, so we do the same.  We visit the carnival, but it is small and few people are there in the heat of mid-afternoon.

We went back to the boat and spot some fishermen landing their boat by the beach.  They set up a portable fish cleaning table and proceed to unload a yellow fin tuna that is almost as big as the boat.  The boat in the picture is just the tender they use to get to their mooring, but the fishing boat wasn’t all that much bigger than the fish.

This was one big tuna!

This was one big tuna!

That evening the activity in town began to heat up.  We were already tucked in on the boat, so we stayed put, but we had a ringside seat for the great fireworks display on the waterfront.

CHEEKI RAFIKI

I’ve been trying to figure out how to deal with this topic, but I finally decided to cover it about the time we became aware of it. We heard that a boat was lost in the Atlantic.  Cheeki Rafiki, a Beneteau 40.7 that competed in Antigua Sailing Week this year and won their class, was lost with all hands.  She was returning to the UK and the crew called in that she was taking on water.  Evidently she lost her keel and capsized.  The US Navy reports that there is no sign of life on board and that the life raft was not deployed.  It is now pretty certain that the four crew, Paul Gosling, James Male, Steve Warren, and Andrew Bridge, could not have survived this long in the sea.

Cheeki Rafiki winning her class at Antigua Sailing Week (photo by Tim Wright)

Cheeki Rafiki winning her class at Antigua Sailing Week (photo by Tim Wright)

Capsized hull missing keel

Capsized hull missing keel

While we did not know the crew, we competed in the same regatta with them.  In light of the issues we have had recently this strikes close to home.  Things don’t always go as planned.

GRAND ANSE d’ ARLET

The next day we ran down the coast to Grand Anse d’Arlet, another little vacation town.  We would be in the lee of the island and the wind and waves should be relatively mellow.  We expected a little jump in the wind as we passed the mouth of the bay at Fort De France.  We left St. Pierre, hoisted sail, and started motorsailing and then sailing down the coast.  The wind blew up into the high teens and twenties and stayed there all the way to Grand Anse d’Arlet.  It was not the semi-lazy trip we expected.

We motored into the bay and found that the planned moorings were now a fact.  We had always anchored towards the south side of the bay near the town dock, but the only moorings available were on the north side of the bay.  It turned out this was the rolly part.

We went into town and walked around and eventually had dinner in a nice little resort/restaurant on the beach.

The next morning Jackie took the dinghy and scouted the southern moorings, but none were available.  We did see a number of boats anchored inside the edge and just outside the mooring field.  We dropped our mooring and anchored just outside the mooring field near the middle of the bay.  It was much calmer there.

We went snorkeling that afternoon on the south side of the bay.  It was a pleasant surprise.  There was a lot of live coral and quite a variety of fish.  I was sorry I didn’t take the camera.

SAINT LUCIA

The weather looked good the next day and we made the twenty seven mile passage to St Lucia.  Martinique is the eastern-most of the islands we frequent, so you would think we would get a break on wind direction when sailing south to St. Lucia.  This is not the case in that we are going from the wide part of Martinique to the narrow part of St. Lucia and have to make easting the whole way.  The trip was a little less windy and rough than a lot have been this year, but the wind direction and westward setting current prevented us from sailing the rhumbline during the first part of the trip.  Luckily we got a little lift from the wind and the current moderated some as we neared St. Lucia.  We made landfall just south of the anchorage and tacked into the Rodney Bay.

Modern navigation

Modern navigation

 

Dave and I take turns steering

Dave and I take turns steering

We tried to anchor south of the channel off Reduit Beach, but found poor holding and our chain went under a couple large rocks.  We moved north of the channel off Gros Islet and sunk the anchor in nicely.   We got ourselves checked in and they told us we didn’t have to do anything special to get Dave off our crew list.

It has been great having Dave on board.  He is an easy guest and a great help when sailing – especially when things go wrong.

Which brings us to the end of this phase of our cruise.  Dave was able to arrange a flight out of the main airport near Vieux Fort at the other end of the island.  The Vieux Fort anchorage has a poor reputation for security and is an upwind slog once you round the bottom of the island, so we check options for getting Dave to the airport from Rodney Bay.  Taxi fare is about $80 US.  The bus to Castries is $2.50 EC (less than a dollar US) and the bus from there to the airport is about another $5.00 EC.  This is a no-brainer.

We get up early and catch the bus with Dave.  This is his first real experience on a Caribbean bus.  We have taken the bus to Castries and from there to Soufriere, so we know that there is no central bus terminal – each bus route has its own little terminal (sometimes just a side street).  We ask directions and start our trek which eventually takes us to the other side of town.

We find the buses to Vieux Fort, verify that it will stop at the airport, and put Dave aboard.  He will be on his own for the rest of the trip.  Now we know how parents feel the first time they put their kids on the school bus.  We restrain ourselves from pinning a note on his shirt telling where he needs to go.  The bus pulls out, we wave, Dave is gone.

 

We put Dave on the bus to Vieux Fort

We put Dave on the bus to Vieux Fort

For the first time in about five weeks Jackie and I are alone on the boat.

Next: More St. Lucia

SOUTHBOUND

May 18, 2014

posted from Portsmouth, Dominica

Usually there is more time between posts but I’m caught up and there is a relatively long story to tell, so here goes…

GUADELOUPE BOUND

The racing was over, all the guests had left except Dave, Compass Rose was ready for sea.  It was time to leave Antigua and begin sailing south.

The first hop was from Falmouth Harbour, Antigua to Deshais, Guadeloupe.  The trip is a little over forty miles almost due south.  We kept going back and forth over which day to go to get the best weather.  We had actually cleared out stating our intention to go the following day, but when we got back to the boat we realized we had no need to stay.

We did the final bits to ready Compass Rose for sea, raised the anchor, and hoisted sails.  We got out of Falmouth Harbour and found the wind to be a bit lighter than we had expected, but we pressed on.  It eventually filled in, but we had to sail pretty high to keep from being pushed off course by the prevailing current and our speed was less than we hoped for.  Dave was at the helm and stayed there keeping us on the wind – a bit difficult in light wind.

 

Dave at the helm

Dave at the helm

The helming paid off by putting us in a good position to take advantage of a favorable wind shift towards the end of the sail.  Unfortunately the late start and the low wind speed caused us to come into Deshais after dark for the second time this year.  We managed to find a good spot in the anchorage, run up the yellow flag, and settle in for the night.

MARCHING INTO LES SAINTES

We got up the next morning, had a leisurely breakfast, and headed south for Les Saintes, a group of islands just south of Guadeloupe.  The trip took us down the leeward side of the island, which can be an interesting trip because the high mountains effect the wind.  We have actually sailed at another boat that was on the same tack as us, so the wind was hitting each of us from opposite directions.  We sailed, motored, and motor sailed as needed to reach the south end of Guadeloupe.

As we cleared the island, the wind and waves settled in from just south of east.  We couldn’t sail southeast to get directly to Les Saintes so we just did the best we could and planned to tack back in the lee of the islands.

Rosie rolled along well under autopilot, but I took the helm when we decided to tack.  Jackie released one sheet and Dave hauled in the other while I steered us through the wind.  We had just settled in on the other tack with the boat sailing nicely When a noise came from the front and the duckbill popped up.

(The duckbill is a piece of wood about three feet long that sticks out in front of the boat like a small bow sprit.  The forestay attaches to it and holds the jib and keeps the mast from falling over backwards.)

This was very bad.  If the duckbill let go the main mast would fall down.  I got the boat into the wind to take the load out of the sails and started the motor while Dave and Jackie rolled in the jib.  Jackie took over on the helm while Dave and I got the main sail down and stabilized the mast to the front of the boat with a spare halyard.  We then motored slowly into the wind and waves and picked up a mooring off Terre de Haute, the main town in Les Saintes.

It turned out that the wire in the bobstay broke.  This is a heavy wire that holds the duckbill down, thus counteracting the force of the forestay.  We were stranded in Les Saintes until we could replace this part.

The bobstay turnbuckle hangs down, the rest of the bobstay is in the water at the front of the boat

The bobstay turnbuckle hangs down, the rest of the bobstay is in the water at the front of the boat

IMG_0631

The duckbill has pulled up from the front of the boat

The old bobstay

The old bobstay

We began trying to track down someone who could make a new bobstay for us.  Remember that this is a French island – most people do not speak English.  This would require the proper fittings and a machine to swage the wire into the fittings.  We found a sailmaker on the island who thought he might be able to point us in the right direction, but when he saw the parts he realized no one on the island had tools big enough for what we needed.  He recommended a company in Pointe a Pitre on the Guadeloupe mainland.  We tried contacting them, but had no luck.  We did, however contact another rigger there who could make a new bobstay while we waited.

POINTE A PITRE ODESSEY

The adventure begins.  We have to figure out how to take the ferry to Trois Rivieres, rent a car and drive to Pointe a Pitre, have the part made, and return.  We get some info and early the next morning we catch the 6:45 AM ferry for the ride to Trois Rivieres.   The sailmaker assured us that there were two rental car companies on the dock in Trois rivieres, but one had no cars left and the woman at the other only spoke French.  We never figured out whether she was out of cars or just wouldn’t try to rent a car when the deal couldn’t be completed in a common language.

We talked to someone from the ferry company and he told us where we could catch a bus.  It was a ten minute walk up a steep hill to the next town.  Once there we happened upon a woman who spoke no English, but was going to Pointe a Pitre – just follow her. The bus comes and we get on.  We ride a short distance, get off, and run for another bus.  Our leader gets on and gets right back off.  The bus is a local, not an express.  We wait a few minutes and catch the express to Pointe a Pitre.

We’ve been to Pointe a Pitre before, so the rest is easy.  We catch a taxi to the marina, find the rigger and show him what we need.  He can make it – be back at 12:30.  We head for the chandlery and grocery stores to get some supplies, then grab some lunch.  We return about 12:15 and find the rigger starting to drive his wife to the airport.  We misunderstood the time.  He gives us the part, we pay him, and we head for downtown Pointe a Pitre.

We don’t find a taxi, so we get on a local bus.  Unfortunately the bus driver is going off shift and we have to wait for the next driver.  Finally the bus takes us downtown and we walk to the main bus terminal.  We know we need a bus that goes beyond Trois Rivieres and after asking around another bus driver directs us to the lane for that bus.  The bus arrives and we show the note with our destination to the bus driver.  He says oui and off we go.

We begin to realize something is not right.  The bus is making a lot more stops than it did in the morning.  We are on the local!  Our tickets say the ferry leaves at 3:45, the bus is moving slow, the clock is moving fast, and it’s a long swim from Trois Rivieres to Les Saintes.

We are sweating a lot more than usual for a warm Caribbean afternoon.

The bus finally drops us off at our stop, but we still have to get a local bus.  We wait.  Jackie starts hitchhiking.  The bus comes and the driver seems to understand where we need to go.  The street through town is one way, so the driver has to drop us off a few hundred yards from where we were picked up in the morning.  We start walking down the hill with time to spare.

We come to a little snackette where we can see the ferry dock.  We decide we have enough time to split two beers among the three of us before we have to board the ferry.  The cold beer tastes especially good after the fast hike down the hill.  We finish the beer and walk to the dock.

There is no ferry.  We had originally been told that the ferry left at 4:45, but our tickets said 3:45.  People are slowly wandering in to the area and some are sitting down and placing orders at another snackette next to the dock.  We finally join them. Dave and I have more cold beers.  Jackie has to find out what the tall green drinks are on many other tables.  After playing 20 questions and pointing at a lot of glasses on tables she finds it’s cold Crème de Menthe and water.  Very refreshing.

We board the ferry relaxed and refreshed.  We grab the three driest (a relative term) seats on the open upper deck and enjoy the view as we speed back to Les Saintes.

Jackie is happy to be on the ferry in Trois Rivieres

Jackie is happy to be on the ferry in Trois Rivieres

Less than seasoned travelers at the beginning of the ride are well salted by the end

Less than seasoned travelers at the beginning of the ride are well salted by the end

Part of the mooring field at Terre de Haute

Part of the mooring field at Terre de Haute

The next day is boatwork and wash day.  Jackie and Sherpa Dave take the laundry in while I start working on Compass Rose.  The fuel filter needs changing, batteries need topping up, and I install a new bilge pump float switch.  Dave and Jackie return and we install the new bobstay and put new backing washers behind the bolts that hold on the duckbill.  Then we tighten all the rigging that we loosened to get the duckbill in place.  Little Rosie is once again ready.

Compass Rose moored near the "Ship House"

Compass Rose moored near the “Ship House”

It wasn’t all work in Les Saintes.  We hiked around a little and ate French food.  We visited with Bruce and Carol on Wild Matilda and kept bumping into Rob and Ellen on Miclo III, and Anna and Hakan on Unicorn, and a few others.  The Triskell Cup Regatta passed through and we got to say hello (but not much more) to Steve on Hotel California Too.  And to cap things off, the French Navy rotated two ships through just as we were leaving.

We have to sail past a French aircraft carrier on the way out of Les Saintes

We have to sail past a French aircraft carrier on the way out of Les Saintes

We are off to Dominica.

Next: The land of Parrots and Rainbows.

 

OFF TO THE RACES

May 12, 2014

posted from Les Saintes, Guadeloupe

ANTIGUA CLASSIC YACHT REGATTA

One of the biggest events on the Caribbean sailing calendar is the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta.  We had an uneventful trip around the corner of the island to Falmouth Harbour.  I started looking around for a boat to sail on.  I sailed on Gaucho last year, but their boat was for sale and I really didn’t expect to see them back.  Earlier in the year I talked to Leonard from Saudade about crewing and he was for it if he was still in Antigua.  As luck would have it Gaucho didn’t show and Saudade was gone.

I walked the dock on the morning of the first race and found a spot on Ocean Nomad, a Carriacou sloop.  These are traditional wooden vessels a little over 40 feet in length and originally designed to carry cargo.  They are built largely by eye on the beach in Windward, Carriacou.

It turned out that Ocean Nomad is normally used for day charters in Antigua but was chartered for the regatta. The deal was put together  at the last minute because the crew were flying in to sail on another boat, but it left before the regatta started.  The boat was Saudade, so I guess I was destined to sail with this group one way or another.

Ocean Nomad at the dock

Ocean Nomad at the dock

Ocean Nomad at speed

Ocean Nomad at speed

The crew turned out to be a great bunch of people.  We sailed hard, had a lot of fun on the water, and eventually finished fifth.

I got a couple turns at the helm.  She sailed like a big dinghy

I got a couple turns at the helm. She sailed like a big dinghy

My favorite day of racing was a course out and back twice. Our fleet was one of the first off, so we got to see the rest of the fleet coming at us and often chasing us down from behind.

Classics racing in earnest (photo by Margaret Richardson)

Classics racing in earnest (photo by Margaret Richardson)

Another classic (photo by Margaret Richardson)

Another classic (photo by Margaret Richardson)

 

The Ocean Nomad crew

The Ocean Nomad crew

ANTIGUA SAILING WEEK

Another one of the premier events on the Caribbean sailing calendar is Antigua Sailing Week.  Classics ends on Tuesday and the Sailing Week feeder race from Guadeloupe is on Friday, so there isn’t much of a breather.  Overnight the classic yachts disappear and Falmouth and English fill with modern boats.  Some are pure racers, some are cruisers, and some are charters.

Once again I was scheduled to crew on Peter Morris’ Frers 43, Jaguar, but as with Classics things didn’t go as planned.  Peter and a delivery crew that included my brother Dave, and friends from DC Bob and Dee were to sail the boat from its berth in Trinidad to Bequia for the Easter Regatta.  They would then sail to Guadeloupe for the feeder race to Antigua.  The boat would do Sailing Week and then return to Trinidad.  Crew would join or leave the boat at various points along the way.  Bob’s wife, Terry, would fly into Antigua and she and I were to try to find a ride to Guadeloupe for the feeder race.  Once we were all in Antigua, Bob, Terry, and Dave would stay with Jackie and I on Compass Rose.

The trip started well, but while leading the first race in Bequia the rudder broke off.  The captain and crew managed to keep the boat off the rocks long enough to get a tow.  Peter arranged to have an emergency rudder made and took the boat to Grenada where a new rudder would be installed.

Jaguar's broken rudder post

Jaguar’s broken rudder post

As you can imagine this had a huge impact on everyone’s plans.  Terry had to decide whether to fly to Antigua before Bob knew what the situation would be with Jaguar.  Bob helped sail the boat to Grenada and then caught a flight to Antigua.  Dave and Dee found a ride on Merengue, a crewed charter.

 

Dave at the wheel of Merengue.  He claims the autopilot failed, but we think he just likes to steer

Dave at the wheel of Merengue. He claims the autopilot failed, but we think he just likes to steer

Terry and I started looking for boats for us and got hooked up with Hobart, a Bavaria 42 Match.  The owner, Rainer, wanted to do a long term charter, but couldn’t arrange for a boat, so he bought Hobart.  He, his wife Renata, and their daughter Alina sailed the boat to the Caribbean, did some cruising, and then stopped in Antigua for Sailing Week.  They were joined by the twins, Michael and Christian, their girlfriends Maria and Angie, and friend Franz.  They were looking for a grinder and foredeck person and Terry and I volunteered.  We practiced Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.

Merengue arrived late Thursday night and since I was practicing Friday morning Jackie met their captain and crew at Customs and Immigration to get Dave and Dee transferred to our crew list.  The entire Merengue crew was there. Only the captain (or his agent) is supposed to go to shore before the boat and crew are checked in and Immigration decided to hold them to the rule.  They waited for hours to get processed and for Customs to search the boat – another unusual move.  Eventually all were free to go.

The Merengue crew waiting at Customs and Immigration

The Merengue crew waiting at Customs and Immigration

We practiced again Friday afternoon and Dave came along with us. I was inventing new ways to screw up spinnaker launches and drops, but we kept things sorted out.

Friday night was the Mount Gay Rum Red Hat Party where you could turn in the tickets you got for buying rum drinks during the previous weeks for Mount Gay Race hats and other goodies. Bob flew in from Grenada that afternoon and took a taxi to the party. Everyone was finally together on the island.

Saturday was the race around Antigua. We were in the first fleet off and were the second boat until we were about three quarters of the way around, when the bigger boats finally started catching us. We kept most boats behind us, but corrected to sixth place on handicapped time.

three quarters of the way around the island ICAP Leopard finally catches us

three quarters of the way around the island ICAP Leopard finally catches us

Around the buoy racing started on Sunday and continued through Friday, with Wednesday off.  Not knowing what crew he would pick up in Antigua, Rainer had our boat rated to use nothing larger than the #2 headsail.  Despite not using our largest genoa we still rated the fastest boat in our fleet.  That meant we had to finish in front of all the boats in our class and by enough margin that they wouldn’t beat us on corrected time.

The racing was tough and the wind was a bit light the first three days, so we couldn’t sail upwind very well with the small sail and gave up ground to the other boats.  We made a lot of it back going downwind, but not enough for any high finishes.  We had more wind on the last two days and that evened things up quite a bit.  We crossed the finish line in 5, 3, 4, 4, 3, 2, 3 positions for the races but never got higher than third on corrected time.  We had a lot of fun racing and saw some old Jaguar crew who were racing against us on Legacy, a Trini boat.

Crossing with Legacy

Crossing with Legacy

Hobart threads the needle

Hobart threads the needle

Getting the spinnaker ready to launch

Getting the spinnaker ready to launch – that’s me on the pointy end

Preparing the spinnaker - that's me almost in the water

Preparing the spinnaker – that’s me almost in the water

Out on the rail

Out on the rail

You will notice in the last three pictures that I’m the one wandering around out on the foredeck a.k.a. “adventure land” and when sitting on the rail I’m the first one in line to take the wave.  Brother Dave is farther aft kibitzing with the ladies.  Most of the time when I looked aft I would see Michael calmly steering the boat with a perfect poker face no matter what was going on around us.  The exception was when I would get soaked by a wave and he would get this little grin on his face and shrug his shoulders.

I didn't always get the big spinnaker up the right way around

I didn’t always get the big spinnaker up with the writing in the right direction

Flying the blue reaching spinnaker

Flying the blue reaching spinnaker – prettier and looks right either way

 

We get third on thursday!

We get third on Thursday!

 

Hobart crew

Hobart crew

I can’t say enough about the crew.  Everyone tried hard.  Mistakes were corrected and we moved forward.  We all wanted to go fast AND have fun.

So what was everyone else doing?  Part way through the week Bob found a ride on Cricket, a Benateau 35. We’ve met  Sandy and he is suppossed to be a good skipper, and we know other people who have crewed on the boat in the past and had a good time and Bob wasn’t disappointed.

Jackie and Dee have high standards.  Would they settle for your average forty foot race boat?  No way!  They hooked a ride on the Volvo 60, Cuba Libre.  Yes, this is a little smaller than Hotel California Too, the SC 70 Jackie did the Around Antigua race on a couple years ago, but she wanted something a bit sportier for the buoy racing.

Cuba Libre

Cuba Libre

Sailing Week is not just bashing around a race course.  There were evening parties and the lay day events at the beach.  We loved the lay day because it gave us a chance to rest our tired and battered bodies.

A restful day at the beach

The Legacy and Hobart crews team up for a restful day at the beach

We spent quiet evenings trying to gain back our strength.

The Carib girls stop by to suggest a brand of beer...

The Carib girls stop by to suggest a brand of beer…

...do you think it worked?

…do you think it worked?

Sailing week finally ended and people eventually found flights back to the US.  A calm descended over the Compass Rose crew.  Compass Rose had been in and around Antigua for over a year.  We spent some time in nearby islands, but we had spent the end of last cruising season and most of this season in Antigua.  It was time.  Dave, Jackie, and I prepared for our next move south.

Next: Marching into Les Saintes

Barbuda

April 16, 2014

posted from Falmouth Harbour, Antigua

(remember that you can right-click on pictures and open them in a new tab to see them full size.)

GUADELOUPE TO ANTIGUA

If you remember from our last post, we sailed southeast from St. Kitts to Guadeloupe so we could get a wind angle to sail north to Antigua.  After a few days in Deshais, we took advantage of a nice weather forecast to sail north to Jolly Harbour on Antigua’s west coast. Three other boats that we know, Just Imagine, Never Bored, and Viking Angel all left at about the same time, but headed for Falmouth Harbour on Antigua’s south coast.

We had to motor for an hour to clear the north end of Guadeloupe, but then the wind filled in from just aft the beam. The seas were quite calm at first, built to only about four feet between the islands, and then dropped as we approached Antigua, so it was a great sail.

With the wind and waves on the beam we had an outstanding sail from Guadeloupe to Antigua

With the wind and waves on the beam we had an outstanding sail from Guadeloupe to Antigua

Partway between the islands we spotted fins breaking the surface. We got a quick look at five pilot whales. They swam next to the boat, but slower than we were sailing and we quickly left them behind.

We get a brief visit from some pilot whales

We get a brief visit from some pilot whales

The approach to Antigua is easy. You keep the reef at the southwest end of the island to starboard and sail on up the island. We were in the shallows past the reef and got a hit on the lure we were dragging. We pulled the fish in and soon saw that it was a baracuda. There are two problems with baracudas – they are likely to have ciguatera poisoning from eating reef fish and they have big, ugly teeth between you and the lure you want to retrieve. It took a bit to get control of the fish and get the hook loose, but we did it.

JOLLY HARBOUR

We are getting to like the Jolly Harbour anchorage in that we can slide up to near the front of the crowd and find a shallow spot to anchor. We stayed out there for a couple days, but a swell came up that got all the boats rolling and we moved to the inner harbor and picked up a mooring for a few more days.

One day we hiked out the peninsula that separates Jolly Harbour from Five Islands Bay. The route took us through gated community that surrounds the inner part of Jolly Harbour.

Typical street scene in the village at Jolly Harbour

Typical street scene in the village at Jolly Harbour

 

There's more than one way to catch a crab

There’s more than one way to catch a crab

SPAINISH POINT, BARBUDA

Barbuda is Antigua’s sister island to the north. We have wanted to go there, but never had the right weather at the right time. We saw a window coming up when we were in Guadeloupe and we also met some friends who had the same plan. They came around to Five Islands the day before we were to leave, so we coordinated with them over the VHF radio.

Five Islands is just to the north, so we raised anchor about a half hour before the other group was to leave with the hope that we would meet them as they started out. They all started a bit late so we motored slowly out in front of the group giving them a chance to catch up.  The wind filled in just as they were catching up to us.

We initially took a conservative course that would take us west of Codrington Shoals, but after some discussion we joined Bill and Coleen on Dolce Vita, Tom and Leslie on Farhaven, and Rob and Ellen on Miclo III on a new course between Codrington Shoals and Dodington Bank and save us a couple miles of motoring into the wind at the end of the trip. Chuck and Barb on the trawler Tusen Takk II stayed on the more westward course.

Dolce Vita sailing to Barbuda

Dolce Vita sailing to Barbuda

 

Tuesen Tak II cruises smoothly

Tuesen Tak II cruises smoothly

The line began to run off our fishing reel as we entered the mile wide passage between the shallows. Jackie eased the main and then helped me land a two foot long rainbow runner.

We catch a tasty rainbow runner

We catch a tasty rainbow runner

By the time we had the fish on board and stowed we were the last of the armada entering the Spanish Point anchorage. We were concerned there wouldn’t be enough room for the eight boats in our fleet plus the four or five others already there, but we found a spot among the coral with no problem.

This is probably one of the bigger groups of boats to be in this anchorage at one time and was certainly the largest “organized” group we ever sailed with. In addition to the boats already mentioned there were the cats: Robin and Cheryl on Just Imagine, Chris and Sheila on Never Bored, Morris and Elizabeth on the other ketch, Viking Angel, and Sandy and Kim who were already in the anchorage on Kewayden.

The Armada anchored at Spanish Point, Barbuda

The Armada anchored at Spanish Point, Barbuda

ABOUT BARBUDA

Barbuda is a low island. The highest point is about 125 ft. It is very dry and the small population is mostly clustered around Codrington. Donkeys and horses roam freely about the island. It has long, deserted beaches and beautiful aqua water. It’s a lot like what you dream about when you start cruising. The Codrington family leased the island from England starting in 1685. They used the island as a hunting preserve and kept slaves to raise cattle and root vegetables.

When emancipation came, the slaves stayed on the island and continued to live in the cooperative way that they had been. There are so few people that they use whatever land they need – no land is actually owned by anyone. And although Barbuda was forced to join Antigua when the islands became independent from England, Barbuda has kept somewhat apart. They like their way of life and have resisted almost all commercial developement, even going so far as to push a resort developer’s office trailer and equipment over the cliff into the ocean, thus stopping the project.

STUFF WE DID IN BARBUDA

The weather started to pipe up and promised to remain so for five or six days, so most of us were here for the duration. The exceptions were Kewayden leaving for Antigua after a couple days, and the trawler Bodacious arriving with guests. I will talk about some of the highlights rather than go into a day by day narrative of the activities. The group is very active and have done hikes, snorkeling, and island tour, and happy hours on some of the larger boats.

Happy Hour

Happy Hour

We snorkeled in a few different places in the anchorage and on the east coast.  We spotted a few of these crabs hiding in the sand near our boat.

Lots of little crabs were hiding in the sandy bottom near our boat

Lots of little crabs were hiding in the sandy bottom near our boat

Snorkeling

Snorkeling

The King Helmet was wandering around the “kiddy pool”, a shallow area on the Atlantic side that was well shielded from the waves and warmed by the sun.

King Helmet

King Helmet

While snorkeling behind a reef on the Atlantic side I spotted the stingray (top) buried in the sand and then the other one (bottom) nearby.

I saw these two southern stingrays near the beach

I saw these two southern stingrays near the beach

There are a couple sink holes and many caves on the island. We visited some on both hikes and the tour.

Looking down into the sinkhole

Looking down into the sinkhole

At the bottom of the sinkhole

At the bottom of the sinkhole

Cave we hiked to on the first day

Cave we hiked to on the first day

Chris climbs up in a cave we visited on our tour

Chris climbs up in a cave we visited on our tour

Barbuda’s coastline is a mixture of coral, rock, and beaches. The east coast gets the brunt of the Atlantic’s wind and waves, so much of it is rocky. But in between are beaches protected by coral. Unfortunately the onshore wind and waves deposit a lot of flotsam and jetsam on the beaches. Some are a virtual trash dump, but others remain clear and pristine.

Here we are on Barbuda's Atlantic coast

Here we are on Barbuda’s Atlantic coast

 

Much of Barbuda's Atlantic coast is very rugged in contrast to the beaches on the Caribbean coast

Much of Barbuda’s Atlantic coast is very rugged in contrast to the beaches on the Caribbean coast

Parts of Barbuda's Atlantic coast collects trash washed ashore by waves

Parts of Barbuda’s Atlantic coast collects trash washed ashore by waves

 

The Caribbean beaches (west side) are long and beautiful

The Caribbean beaches (west side) are long and beautiful

We also arranged for a trip to the Frigate Bird colony, one of the largest in the world. The trip started with a taxi ride to Codrington and then a boat ride to the colony. As you approach you see that the sky is filled with frigate birds. As you get closer you see that the mangroves are filled with roosting and nesting frigate birds.

Just a small part of the frigate bird colony

Just a small part of the frigate bird colony

The most interesting birds were the fuzzy headed chicks and the males advertising for mates by inflating their red neck pouches.

Male frigate bird displaying his inflatable throat pouch

Male frigate bird displaying his inflatable throat pouch

 

Frigate bird family (l to ) Mom, Chick, Dad

Frigate bird family (l to ) Mom, Chick, Dad

Typical fuzzy frigate bird chick

Typical fuzzy frigate bird chick

RETURN TO ANTIGUA

The plan was to be in Antigua for the Classic Regatta and when a weather window came we took it.  We had a nice sail with small  seas and the wind on the beam.  As we approached Antigua we got a hit on our fishing line and pulled in what we think is a Bonito.

We caught this Bonito on the way back to Antigua

We caught this Bonito on the way back to Antigua

We anchored in Jolly Harbour so we could do some reprovisioning.

This concluded our Leeward Island cruise that we reported in the last few posts.  We started in Antigua and cruised to  Nevis, St. Kitts, sailed past Montserrat on the way to Guadeloupe, and returned to Antigua.  We then sailed to Barbuda and back to Antigua.

We sailed from Antigua to Nevis to St. Kitts to Guadeloupe to Antigua to Barbuda and back to Antigua

We sailed from Antigua to Nevis to St. Kitts to Guadeloupe to Antigua to Barbuda and back to Antigua

We will stay in Antigua for the Classic Regatta and Sailing Week, and then start the trip south to Grenada.

NEXT: ANTIGUA CLASSIC REGATTA

Three Island Tour

March 29, 2014

posted from Jolly Harbour, Antigua

JOLLY HARBOUR

It was time.  We motored out of English Harbour and sailed around the southwest corner of Antigua to Jolly Harbour.  This was a relatively short cruise that gave us a chance to make sure we had the boat rigged right and that all systems were working.  The trip was uneventful and only a couple small items needed attention.  We anchored in about 7 feet of water – always an interesting experience because Compass Rose draws just under five feet.

Jolly Harbour has easy access to a fancy and expensive food store where we can get items not available in the local island stores.  It also is home to the main Budget Marine store on the island, so last minute items were easy to get.  We also discovered a couple good bird watching ponds on that side of the island.  One is in easy walking distance and the other is off the bus route.  We spent parts of a few days visiting these areas.  The nearby pond was good, but the one farther away had only a couple birds – a letdown from last spring when it was teeming with birds.  We also took a bus and taxi to a salt pond on the north side of the island and saw lots of birds there.

VAMOOSE SKEDADDLES

Cruising life is full of hellos and goodbyes as boats move from harbor to harbor and island to island, but the goodbyes are usually just until your paths cross again.  Unfortunately some of the goodbyes are because someone is quitting cruising.  This time it was our friends Dave and Nancy on Vamoose.   Dave set sail solo for the US and we have been tracking him via Single Sideband Radio and reporting his progress to Nancy. We are going to miss them a lot.

Dave sails Vamoose past Nevis on his way north

Dave sails Vamoose past Nevis on his way north

GOODBYE ANTIGUA

After about a week in Jolly Harbour we had all our provisioning done, got the weather we were waiting for, and headed west towards Nevis and St. Kitts.  The forecast was for relatively light winds and calm seas.  There was supposed to be a swell coming in from the north, but it never amounted to much.  We started early and motored for a few hours until the wind filled in.  The wind came up from directly astern pretty much as expected.  Compass Rose doesn’t like the wind directly aft, so we pointed a bit north and aimed for the cut between the islands.  This was a longer sail than going around the south end of Nevis, but we sailed a lot faster.

After all this time we still know what to do with those big white things on the boat

After all this time we still know what to do with those big white things on the boat

We did a little  bird watching along the way.  The most interesting was the frigate bird. He was trying to scoop some small fish who were jumping out of the water to try to escape some bigger fish.  This is a tricky operation because a frigate bird cannot take off from the water.

Frigate bird trying to scoop up fish

Frigate bird trying to scoop up fish

I hope the frigate bird did better than me.

THREE STRIKES, THREE OUTS

Things got interesting in another way after we got the sails up.  I was in the middle of doing something with the sails when the line began spooling off the bigger fishing pole but by the time I got to the pole, the fish was gone.

A little later the line began spooling off the smaller pole.  I ran back and grabbed the pole and cranked in some drag to stop the line.  Then I cranked in some more drag.  Then more drag.  The line kept spooling off in bursts and there was nothing I could do to stop it.  I looked out behind the boat and saw a sailfish jump! I looked at the reel and the line kept running out in spurts.  Soon I could see the spool, the all that was left was one loop and the knot.  Then the line broke.  The sailfish put on quite a display jumping behind the boat as we sailed away.  It was probably for the better, because we would have a terrible time trying to land and deal with a five foot sailfish.

The line started spooling out a third time as we approached the narrows.  I got the rod, put in some drag and started reeling the fish in.  This one was much smaller and more manageable and he mostly skimmed on top of the water as I pulled him in.  Then just as I got him close to the boat I lost him.  I pulled the line and lure aboard and found that one of the hooks had broken off – probably when the first fish struck.

Lure missing hook, reel missing line

Lure missing hook, reel missing line

HELLO NEVIS

We found our way between the islands and down to Charlestown.  Our information was that all the anchorages in Nevis had been converted to mooring fields, so we grabbed a mooring, put the dinghy together and went in to town.  We just caught Customs, Immigration, and the Port Captain before they went home for the day.  We found out that the mooring we were on was private, so we moved up the coast to Pinney’s Beach and picked up an official mooring, one of the last left in mooring field. This group of moorings are in the shadow of the volcano.  We got some spectacular sunsets to the west as the nearly full moon rose over the volcano to the east.  We got one of the best green flashes we have ever seen.

Moonrise over the volcano

Moonrise and frigate bird over the volcano

Sunset

Sunset

Cruise ship at sundown

Cruise ship on the horizon

Our first day on Nevis we took a tour with a taxi driver we met on the dock.  He “scratches the guitar” under the name Watusi, and is sometimes referred to as Bird Man, but his friends seem to call him Dave.  He made me look short and heavy.  He is into holistic stuff and claims that the crumbling masonry in old buildings on the island is good to rub into your skin.

Exfoliation by mortar

Exfoliation by mortar

When we got back to the boat we decided to move to a mooring closer to town.  It was a lot more convenient, but just as rolly.

GOLDEN ROCK

The next day we took a bus to Golden Rock, an old sugar plantation now run as a restaurant and guest house.  There is a road and trail that leads up one of the mountains into the rain forest.  We thought it would be a good place to see some different birds and it would be much cooler hiking than what we usually get on the islands. Golden Rock itself is beautiful.  There are beautiful flowers, guest rooms, and a nice restaurant, not to mention birds, caterpillars, and monkeys.

Frangipani caterpillar turns into a big, brown moth

Frangipani caterpillar loves the leaves of the frangipani tree and turns into a big, brown moth

Find the monkey

Find the monkey

Resting poolside at Golden Rock

Resting poolside at Golden Rock

The hike is a road that goes up the mountain to support a water pipeline.  The first part is paved and goes through a small settlement.  Then it turns to gravel, and finally just rocks.  The pipeline brings rainwater from the mountain top down to cisterns.

Goat herd we saw on the road

Goat herd we saw on the road

Pipeline brings water down the mountain from the rain forest

Pipeline brings water down the mountain from the rain forest

Unfortunately we didn’t have a lot of luck with birds that day.

BOTANICAL GARDENS

The next day we took a bus to some botanical gardens.  So here is where you get a break from all the bird pictures and get to see some beautiful flowers.  Unfortunately I don’t know the name of many of them.

Bananaquit

Blue flowers

It turns out five bees were leaning on shovels watching one gather nectar

It turns out five bees were leaning on shovels watching one gather nectar

bird

Interesting yellow and orange leaf

Black bird

Pink flowers

Humming bird

Yellow flowers

Humming bird

Pink flowers

Humming bird

Pink and green flowers

ST KITTS

We tried three different moorings in Nevis, but all rolled.  We motored up the coast to check out some of the other mooring fields, but in the end we sailed over to St. Kitts.  We picked Majors Bay on the south end of St. Kitts facing Nevis.  It looked well protected.  We motored into the bay and realized that one of the terminals for the car ferry between Nevis and St. Kitts is in the bay.  We anchored and waited to see what the ferry would do.  As it turned out we were well out of his way and he created very little wake, so we stayed for a couple days to get a chance to explore the south end of the island.

Ferry under full moon in Majors Bay

Ferry under full moon in Majors Bay

Nevis mooring ball that escaped to Majors Bay, St. Kitts

Nevis mooring ball that escaped to Majors Bay, St. Kitts

BASSETERRE, ST KITTS

We moved to Port Zante Marina in Basseterre, St. Kitts.  Basseterre is the biggest town in St. Kitts and Nevis.  The marina is next to the cruise ship port, which is  full of duty free stores and houses customs and immigration, so it is the best place to stay when you need to clear out of the country.

The cruise ships looked huge

The cruise ships looked huge

Port Zante Marina with more working fishing boats than cruising yachts

Port Zante Marina with more working fishing boats than cruising yachts

The big city is convenient because there are grocery stores nearby and it’s an easy walk to the bus terminal.  We took advantage of the local buses to visit a couple tourist attractions and a restaurant along the coast. The first place we visited was Brimstone Hill, site of one of the oldest and most well preserved forts in the Caribbean.  It was improved over the years and became known as the Gibralter of the Caribbean.  We got off the bus and started to walk up to the fort.  A van came down from the fort, picked up some people, and then stopped for us.  It was the employee shuttle and they gave us a ride to the fort, some 800 feet above sea level.  

Jackie and I at the fort with Statia (St. Eustatius) in the background

Jackie and I at the fort with Statia (St. Eustatius) in the background

Just a small part of Fort George, Brimstone Hill

Just a small part of Fort George, Brimstone Hill

The next day we took the bus to the Clay Villa, an old plantation and the only one on St. Kitts that did not use slave labor.  It is owned by a woman who is a direct descendant of a Caribe, the native tribe that inhabited St. Kitts when Columbus discovered the island.  We got there early and did some birding around the grounds before the tour.  The tour was of the old plantation house and its gardens.

Lizard

Lizard

Rare white winged pigeon

Rare white winged pigeon

BIRDING WITH PERCY

We spent our last day in St. Kitts birding with a local bird watcher named Percy.  He took us around to many of his favorite spots and we saw fifty different species that day.

GUADELOUPE

We had a good time in St. Kitts, but the wind was coming a bit north and that would be good for our sail from St. Kitts to Deshais, Guadeloupe.  This trip would be about eighty miles and could easily take fourteen hours.  We had planned to move to Nevis and start from there, but we had trouble catching anyone in the marina office so we could pay our bill.  Also, the customs officer was having trouble printing out our clearance so he let me leave his office and he brought it to the boat.

We left the marina at 3:45 AM and motored southeast past Nevis.  The wind finally filled in and we had a pretty good but bumpy sail to Montserrat.  We expected the seas and wind to calm down a bit behind the island, but both wrapped around the south end of the island and we had to motor directly into them.  At times we were down below three knots trying to push through the wind and waves.  The only good thing about it was that we got a great view of the lava flows from the volcano.

West lava flow

West lava flow

Southwest lava flow

Southwest lava flow

The wind and waves came back to a more normal direction when we cleared the south end of the island.  The wind picked up and we flew to Deshais.  We arrived about 8 pm, some 16 hours after we started, and anchored in the dark.

The next day we cleared in and rested.

MORE FLOWERS

Deshais is a little seaside tourist town.  It has some restaurants, some souvenir shops (one hosts the customs and immigration computer), and a couple grocery stores.  Just outside of town at the top of a long steep hill there is a very nice botanical garden.  Naturally we hiked up to visit it.    There were lots of interesting trees and flowers and of course a few birds.

Banyon tree drops shoots from its limbs which take root

Banyon tree drops shoots from its limbs which take root

Flamingos sleeping

Flamingos sleeping

 

Flamingo looking for insects under a rock

Flamingo looking for insects under a rock

Purple-throated Carib

Purple-throated Carib

Sun shining through the leaves

Sun shining through the leaves

Red flowers

Red flowers

More flowers

More flowers

Let's see..put in 50 cents...food comes out the tube..WAIT!! I FORGOT THE CUP!!

Let’s see..put in 50 cents…food comes out the tube..WAIT!! I FORGOT THE CUP!!

 

Blue flower

Blue flower

Kapok tree

Kapok tree

NEXT: RETURN TO ANTIGUA (Where there are no botanical gardens)

 


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