We are again spending the summer In South Dakota while Hi Flite sits patiently awaiting our return in November. Not that any of us are inactive. Cori and I have returned to our part-time summer jobs and have added a new activity. We bought a used four wheel ATV and are having the time of our lives with it. Living next to the Black Hills National Forest we have access to over six hundred miles of trails and have been out exploring them. Hi Flite on the other hand is having the teak caprail/toerail replaced and the bottom cleaned of all old anti-foul paint and will be receiving a barrier coat and then new paint. There seems to be a limited number of layers of paint you can apply until there is too much of a buildup.
Our plans at this time are to return to Trinidad in November to finish projects and then spend another winter cruising various islands in the Caribbean again.
That's it for now, thanks for following us.
Sunday, April 29, 2018
We have closed the circle. We are back in Trinidad and have been hauled out and are getting the boat ready for the summer.
We prepared to leave Granada by offloading a lot of “stuff” that we would not need on the boat over the summer. Our friend, Sperry, is storing it for us. Once we had everything off we then needed to decide when to go. We had an appointment at Power Boats in Trinidad to be hauled out May 4. Checking with our weather advisor we decided to take the opportunity that was coming up on Tuesday, April 24th. Better to arrive early then to be stuck with weather problems. Tuesday we pulled anchor and motored to Prickly Bay to take on fuel and to check out of the country. As we entered Prickly Bay the engine started to act up, losing power and then died. The symptoms were the same for running out of fuel. We still showed a half a tank on the gauge but we all know that they can be wrong. Were we out of fuel? Opening the fuel filter showed that it was empty. It wasn’t getting any fuel. We quickly put out the headsail and proceeded to sail into the bay making several tacks to get into a position to anchor. We picked a spot and dropped the anchor. We dropped the dinghy from the davits and I headed to the marina to see if I could get a can of diesel. All of our fuel jugs are now in storage. With a borrowed can and five gallons of diesel, I headed back to the boat. We added the fuel to the tank and primed the filter and pump and she started right up. We then pulled the anchor and maneuvered to the fuel dock and tied up. I was a bit surprised when it only took 41 gallons. We still had a half tank. Something else is the problem, I am suspecting there is something in the tank that is blocking the pickup and causing the engine to starve, drops off when the engine dies. I need to look into it a bit more. After checking out we ran into Dean and Kim from Dreamcatcher and sat down to visit for a bit. They had watched us sailing in and thought we were just showing off, they had no idea how much adrenalin was pumping through our systems as we were coming in. After the visit we moved out to a mooring to get everything ready for the trip. We figure at best it is a twelve hour trip and if we leave in the morning we arrive in the dark so instead we leave in the evening and arrive sometime in the morning.
At 5:00 pm we dropped the mooring and headed out, next stop Trinidad. We had decided to just run with the headsail and the mizzen since the forecast was for winds out of the ESE at around 15 knots. Usually they run a bit higher so we did not want to have too much sail up. We set a waypoint and we then had a line on the chart plotter to guide us. After a couple of hours it was evident that there was a strong west flowing current. We adjusted the sails and our course to minimize it but at one point it had us about five miles west of our line and heading to Venezuela. Eventually the current weakened and we were able to work our way back on coarse again, even moving a bit east. In the morning the current started to build again but we and had gotten enough easting that we were still on course for our waypoint. The track on the chart plotter looks like we were drunkenly weaving our way along. Most of the night we had better then a half moon and it was a beautiful night to be sailing. Eventually we lost the moon but in a couple of hours the eastern sky was getting lighter. We saw the lights of a number of boats but nothing came close to us until the next morning and we still had a lot of room to pass by. During the night the winds died off and we started to drop from five knots to four, to three and by morning we were down to two. The winds had died to below ten knots; it was time to start motoring. We had 25 miles to go and the gps said it would take another fifteen hours to the waypoint. We made our waypoint, went up the channel between two islands without the rough water we had experienced when we left in December and motored into the bay to pick up a mooring. We had arrived. We dropped the dinghy and made our way to the dock at Customs and Immigration to check in. Once that was taken care of we dinghied over to the boatyard to let them know we had arrived. Since we were showing up a week early they had offered to move up our haul out. We would be hauled out the next day, after lunch. It had been a long trip, nineteen hours and we were beat. We keep four hour watches; someone is always on deck and keeping a watch while the other tries to sleep switching off every four hours. We are able to get some rest but we still get very tired.
We were up early the next morning to get ready for the haul out. Just before noon we dropped the mooring, maneuvered to the dock and positioned the boat to be lifted. Once tied up the work crew left for their lunch and we waited. The haul out went without any problems and soon we were resting between the stands and a worker was giving the bottom a good cleaning.
It was our first night without the boat rocking or rolling since we were launched December 11, 2017. We had traveled 876 nautical miles, or just under 1000 statute miles. Most years we will stop and spend a couple of days at a marina to service batteries, take on provision or just take a break but this year we did not. Every night was either on the anchor or on a mooring ball, a first for us. We visited six countries and I am not sure of how many islands. Our Spot reports that we stopped in 26 different locations. I have entered these locations into a Google map and have added a link to it over there on the right side of the blog page.
We have about three weeks to work on the boat and then we will be flying back to South Dakota and Minnesota for the summer. Next year’s pan is still in the works but obviously it will begin in Trinidad somewhere around November, where we will end up is still to be decided.
Monday, April 23, 2018
I have been informed that I am overdue for a blog update. I can’t argue, I can only make excuses.
When I last I reported we are in St Pierre, Martinique. It was our last day so Cori went to shore early to search for more sea-glass and I ran the generator to give the batteries a little boost. Midday we pulled the anchor to move on, we were headed to Grand Anse Bay further down the coast. Grand Anse is a bay that has a lot of small restaurants, several resorts, a couple of shops catering to divers and tourists, it is not a town. We spent two days, one relaxing on the boat and another hiking over the ridge to the next bay. Being as the restaurants and bars cater to the tourists they are open late and as usual have their music turned to full volume so everyone in the anchorage can enjoy it until 2:00 am. After two days we had enough, we knew the next bay was more peaceful. The highlight of the stay was dinner one evening delivered from another boat. It is a boat that travels to various harbors, in the morning they announce the menu for day in French and English, and will deliver to your boat. The price is reasonable and the food is good. They have found a way to go cruising and make money as they go, not a bad way to live. Sunday morning, Easter Sunday, we pulled anchor and motored around the peninsula and dropped anchor in Petite Anse, a smaller but quieter bay. There is an actual town here and we had spent about a week here on our trip up the island. Since it was Sunday and the town was shut down I just hung out on the boat while Cori went in her kayak in search of the elusive sea-glass. Monday was a holiday so it was another relaxing day of reading, napping and of course Cori was off for more sea-glass.
It was time to move on so the next morning we went to shore to hit the bakery and checked out of Martinique with Immigration and Customs. Back at the boat we pulled the anchor and headed out. We were making for Rodney Bay in St Lucia. We beat into the wind for a bit until we got clear of the island then had 15-20 knot winds on the beam. We did a nice comfortable 6 knots across the gap and pulled into Rodney Bay and dropped anchor about 2:30, a nice quick passage of 28 miles. I took the dinghy to check into the country and Cori stayed on the boat to make sure we did not drag on our anchor. We try not to be those sailors that pull into a harbor, drop their anchor, quickly make the trip to shore and come back later to where thy left the boat except that it is no longer there. We try to wait to make sure the anchor has set and is holding properly. There was an incident several years ago in the Bahamas where a sailor anchored to go ashore to check-in and when he returned his boat was no longer there and has never been seen since. We don’t want to be in that situation. The next day we went ashore to hit the shops, have lunch and pick up some groceries. There have been a number of dinghy thefts this year in Rodney Bay (14 at last count) and there was an attendant at the dock leading to the shopping area keeping an eye on the dinghies. Maybe they are catching on that cruisers are starting to bypass them feeling unsafe. Where we were anchored was close to the marina entrance and there was a fair amount of traffic so we pulled anchor and moved further along the bay to re-anchor by the National Park. The next day we went ashore, paid our park entrance fee and hiked Pigeon Point. There is the remains of the old fort overlooking the bay entrance and another hike to a higher point overlooking the North end of the island and across to Martinique. It was a tough climb but worth it for the view. Once back down the hill we toured the rest of the fort, stopped at a café for Wi-Fi and a late lunch. We went back to the boat for a couple of Ibuprofen and a nap. In the morning we heard via the radio net and listening to the Martinique Coast Guard that that there had been a mayday call from a boat making the passage we had just made reporting he was taking on water and was sinking. They were broadcasting for all boats in the area to be on the watch for a man overboard. After several days the search was abandoned. This was a stark reminder of how things can go wrong and lives are in danger when they do. There is no pulling off the side of the road and calling AAA when you have a problem. There was a mooring close to us that boats from the resorts would tie up to and disperse groups of snorkelers so I decided I needed to see what the attraction was, I dropped overboard and swam over to see. It was very disappointing, there were hardly any fish, there wasn’t much coral and most of it was dead. It was one of my most disappointing outings. The next day, Saturday, we spent on the boat relaxing while Cori polished the stainless steel. Salt water will make anything, including stainless, rust and corrode if you do not keep at it. Sunday morning we tried to pull anchor and move down the island but had a small problem. In the switching winds our anchor chain had wrapped around a rock. I tried diving down to see if I could dislodge it but it was below my diving depth. I swam over to our neighbors on Party of Five to see if he was a diver. Travis came over to see if he could help. With him in the water and Cori at the bow he was able to direct us so that we were able to free ourselves from the rock. After thanking him profusely we were able to pull the anchor and head off to Soufriere. Soufriere is at the base of the Petons, two volcanic peaks that are the pride and national symbol of the island. Cori was able to get a couple of nice pictures of Hi Flite with them in the background when she went out in her kayak.
This harbor has a reputation of having aggressive boat-boys, guys who come out in their boats to help get you tied to a mooring, sell you everything from fish, fruit, vegetables and homemade jewelry. We didn’t experience that aggressiveness but there were a number of them but left when we declined to buy their wares. The anchorage is in a marine park so in the evening the park rangers come by to collect the mooring fee, no anchoring is allowed but they provide secure mooring for a fee. We scheduled a water taxi to pick me up in the morning to take me to shore to check out of the country. We had the dinghy secure in its davits and didn’t want to take the time to drop it, make the run to the dock and then stow it again. It was time to move. The taxi arrived on time in the morning, Customs went without a hitch and then the Immigration officer was an hour late. So much for getting an early start. We motored against a headwind and current until we got to the bottom of the island and the winds shifted again from the east. We had been fighting the wraparound from the winds funneling through the gap. We had 20 knot winds with 4-5 foot swells and we ran about 5-6 knots with a reefed headsail and the mizzen. With less sail out we had a fairly comfortable ride until we got into the lee of St Vincent where we lost the wind. We continued to motor along the island trying to decide where to stop for the night and where we would be able to check-in. Our planned stop was not as protected as we had hoped and we were arriving late so we would have to spend the night before checking in. We continued several miles until we arrived at Wallilabou Bay and pulled in. We got tied to a mooring with a line off the back of the boat to the pier and were set for the night. It turned out that the Customs and Immigration officials were there so we were able to get checked in right away. The appeal of this bay is that besides being well protected it is one of the locations used in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. We were in the movie site of Port Royal.
Some of the buildings built and remodeled for the movie are still there and house a small museum. The next day we did a hike, more of a walk up the road, to a small waterfalls, for a swim under the falls and in a freshwater pool. A nice break from swimming in saltwater. After that we dinghied around the area to check out the other bays and the caves carved into the shoreline. That night it was a nice break from loud music blasting from shore, all we had to listen to was the natural sounds of the critters on shore.
WE wanted to go back to the Tobago Cays since the last time we were there I was not feeling well and the wind was blowing so hard it was hard to get off the boat. Everyone says the Cays are beautiful with short hikes on the islands and great snorkeling on the reef. We left Willilabou Bay towing one of the boat-boys to the next bay so he didn’t have to paddle. He had what was busily a salvaged boat with home-made oars and had to stop to bail every few minutes. After dropping him off we set sails for Tobago Cays. We motorsailed against the current until we reached the bottom of the island and then caught the east trade winds blowing 20 knots with the swell on our beam causing a rolling rough ride. We arrived at the Cays and motored into the central harbor and decided to pick up a mooring instead of anchoring with the wind still blowing 20 knots. The reef cut down the big waves but the wind was kicking up small waves after that causing a lot of rolling during the night. In the morning the wind had not let up and we decided to find a more protected harbor. We dropped the mooring and once clear of the reef we sailed downwind under a headsail to Chatham Bay on the west side of Union Island. We dropped anchor in the bay, got the dinghy in the water and headed to shore stopping first to say hello to our friends on Heavy Metal that we had spent time in Margot Bay with. The evening was spent having beers at a beach bar and visiting with a group from Burlington Vermont. In the morning we went snorkeling with Koen and Yvonne from Heavy Metal. Koen and I snorkeling and Cori and Yvonne stayed the dinghies keeping them from drifting off to Central America. I have never seen so many fish, schools of small baitfish all moving as a group. I tried getting pictures and video but I’m not happy with how they turned out. After that Cori and I hiked up to the take in the view from the top of of the ridge. Up there we got to visit with “Bushman”, one of the locals who takes care of the cows grazing in the area. Instead of building fences they have a rope tied around its neck and tied to a tree or to some rocks and periodically move them to another spot. Later as we were walking down the road we met up with one of these just walking along dragging a small bush still tied to its rope. It ignored us and just continued on to wherever it was going. We did not see it on our return so it must have gotten to wherever it was going.
We also see a lot of goats out grazing this way, some tethered to a tree or just dragging their rope behind them. Back at the beach we stopped at one of the bar/restaurants but had not brought money with us on the hike. Our credit was good and with a promise to be back later to pay we had cold beers. While there we learned that the bartender, Claudia, could take care of our checking out when it was time to leave. Saturday we went ashore, did the hike to the road and then hiked over the ridge to the small town of Ashton. There are only two towns on the island and from there we caught a bus to Clifton. Clifton is where we would have to go to check out and the anchorage was rough with the wind still blowing 20 knots. We checked out the shops, had lunch at one of the non-tourist cafes, bought some of the best tomatoes we have had on this trip and caught a bus back to Ashton. For an extra fee the bus took us to where the trail from the beach met the road, we didn’t have to make the hike over the ridge. That evening’s entertainment was watching the fishermen pulling their nets real close to us; quite an operation with lots of yelling and it seemed everyone was giving orders. Sunday morning we slept in then went to shore to have lunch and give our paperwork to Claudia. She lives in Clifton and would take the paperwork to the airport first thing on Monday and have it for us at 10:00 when she got to work. She gets a ride to work on one of the boats that travel back and forth. Monday morning at 10:00 we jumped in the dinghy to get our paperwork and as soon as we left the boat it started raining. One ashore, soaking wet we waited out the squall, got our paperwork, paid her for the service and then back to the boat to pull the anchor.
We had plans to go to Petite St Vincent and Petite Martinique, two small islands nearby for a couple of days, but the wind was still blowing 20 and it would be an unwind trip. We decided to just head down to Carriacou, stop in Tyrell Bay to check in and spend a couple of days. This turned out to be a classic example of why we don’t travel with other boats. By the time we arrived at Tyrell bay we were having such a good sail we decided to continue on to Granada. We estimated we would arrive at Dragon Bay to pick up a mooring about 4:30. We were off by a little, arriving after 5:00, but there were no moorings available. This being a marine park there is no anchoring. We continued on to St George Bay off the capital city of St George and set the anchor while it was still daylight. St George Bay is reported to be a very rolly anchorage but with the wind direction it was a fairly calm night. In the morning when we pulled the anchor there was a rock caught in it. Evidently it was not as well set as I thought. If the winds had kicked up we would have dragged and had to reset during the night. We were lucky. We motored around the southwest point and turned east heading to Prickly Bay. The winds were kicking up some big waves and we pounded into them for about an hour until we made the turn into the Bay. We scouted out a spot to anchor, dropped it, set it and shut everything down. We were back in Granada, about a week earlier then we had planned. I made the quick trip to Immigration and Customs and we are legal again. Later we made a trip to shore to walk to the bank to get some local cash and a stop for more groceries. I got real excited when I found 12 packs of Diet Coke. It is not available on very many islands and I had run out of my supply. That night we rolled violently and were uncomfortable, so in the morning we pulled the anchor and moved over to Clarks Court Bay where we had spent Christmas and New Year’s. It is much more comfortable. Cori took the kayak over to Hog Island to help her friend Sperry prepare the “sea eggs” he sells and I made a trip to the nearby marina for a loaf of the best bread you can find anywhere. Sperry is going to store a lot of our extra stuff for the summer while we have work done on the boat so we started sorting and offloading some of to him. In the evening we went ashore for pizza night at the marina. The next day Sperry picked up us with more of our stuff and brought us to his home where Cori got several loads of laundry done. He also brought us to the grocery store for more provisions then we spent the evening with his family.
Friday, the 20th, Cori was off to the island with Sperry to help out again and I was on board for projects. I need to clean and prepare the watermaker for summer storage. When that was almost done I noticed a smell of something burning. I checked outside since there is often someone burning something but didn’t see or smell anything. It seemed to be coming from the aft cabin. I checked the hanging locker where all of the electrical connects are and found a wire that was melting its insulation and smoking. An overheated wire. It was the feed wire from the solar panels to the solar controller. It doesn’t have a switch, just a fuse and it was the fuse holder that was melting. I cut the wire, breaking the connection and everything was okay again, we just had no solar charging. The next morning I caught the scheduled shopping bus to Budget Marine, running the dinghy out of fuel on the way, to buy a new fuse holder and a solar control. I hoped the controller was okay but bought one just in case. After inspecting the old controller I found a component that had failed and melted. Now I knew what caused the problem. After removing the old and installing the new controller we had lots of power going from the solar panels to the batteries. I don’t want to think of what could have happened had I not been on the boat when this happened. There are a lot of jackets and such hanging in that locker and there was the possibility of a fire breaking out. About the running out of fuel, I had the fuel jug ready to put in the dinghy to top off but got into a rush and forgot. I also left the boat with the hatch above the bed open but was fortunate that it did not rain. I just got into too much of a hurry worrying about being on time for the bus. As my friend Bill puts it: “I don’t know how you mere mortals do it”. I was able to get a tow back to the boat so I didn’t have to row. Sunday we spent the day with Sperry’s family with games being played and sea-glass jewelry being made. Sperry’s daughter, who is going to cooking school, did the cooking and made some of the best fried chicken we have had in a very long time.
It is Monday and our weather advisor says that we should have good conditions for the trip to Trinidad on Tuesday. We plan to move back to Prickly Bay to top off the fuel and check out of the country. We will leave late in the afternoon or early evening for an overnight sail. We estimate about 12 hour to get there so if we leave in the morning we will arrive after dark, therefore we leave in the evening and arrive in the daylight. We will spend a few days before we are scheduled to be hauled out and then will meet with the workers we have scheduled for the summer projects. After that we will be flying back to the US for the summer again.
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
It has been a long time since our last post. The problem has been a lack of reliable Internet access not boredom. I will try to do better.
We stayed on St Lucia for another week and a half, leaving on the 25th. We had a weather event that caused almost continuous strong winds so we chose to stay in our little protected bay and ride it out. Not that we had to stay on the boat all of the time. We got together several times with our neighbors for activities such as a trip to a distillery for a tour and rum tasting. This is the only time we have been to a tasting that did not limit the amount you tasted. If you found one or two of their eighteen rums you could just stop there and sip until you couldn’t anymore. From there we all continued at Doolittles Bar, named for the movie that was shot here, Dr. Doolittle for more rum drinks. We also all scheduled a tour of the island which gave us a chance to see more of the interior, the southern end and the Atlantic coast. We also had several days of rain which kept us aboard but things still got done. The chaps that Cori made to protect the dinghy were in pretty bad shape and she had gotten some material before we left Trinidad so she took the down time to make a new cover. The UV is harsh and will really age your dingy if it is not protected in some way. I took the opportunity to service a couple of winches which means disassembling, cleaning and giving the parts a good coating of grease before reassembling, without dropping anything overboard. We had an unusual interaction with one of the boats near us one evening. One of the men swam over to explain that they were fixing dinner and had run out of propane. Could they bring their pot over to cook for about ten minutes to finish it? How do you say no to that? They were from Poland, spoke good English and visited while the dinner continued to cook, thanked us profusely and gave us some of their desert before going back to their boat to eat. On the 24th the weather patterns changed back to somewhat normal so we pulled anchor to move up the coast to Rodney Bay. Rodney Bay is a big bay and many boats had been riding out the winds there and were eager to move. We arrived, dropped anchor and settled in to spend the night before moving on in the morning. Rodney Bay is a very popular location for the cruisers as it has a large anchoring field, a marina, shopping and a lot of restaurants. Unfortunately, this year it also has dingy thieves. At one point I had counted seven reports of dinghies being stolen or attempts to steal before we arrived. We kept our dinghy securely attached to us overnight. We plan on checking it out further on our way back down.
It was time to move on; we had checked out of St Lucia and were headed to Martinique in the morning. The winds were cooperative and we had a great sail up to St. Anne on the Island of Martinique. We joined the crowd of about a hundred boats and as we arrived we were contacted by Dean and Kim on Dreamcatcher. We had first met them when we were in Nassau getting our transmission replaced several years ago. They filled us in on what is going on and gave us some suggestions for shopping and dining. They were taking advantage of the fair winds and were leaving in the morning. It was good to get caught up again. In the morning we went ashore to check in. In every country we have to check in and out with Immigration and Customs. This being a French island it is much easier. The French have figured out how to put the whole process on a computer and have set up several locations to simplify the process. St Anne has a small café with the computer so we were able to check in and have lunch later. The other countries give you the forms to be filled out in triplicate and may or may not have carbon paper to help. Yes, they are still using carbon paper and using it over and over. We spent the rest of the day checking out St Anne which is a small town with a lot of shops catering to the cruisers and tourists. Like many of the towns we have visited they have a beautiful old church. We are visiting a lot of churches this season. Further into the bay is La Marin, large protected harbor with several marinas, a mooring field and an area to anchor. They also have dinghy access to grocery stores and marine stores. After the devastation that the hurricanes did to the Virgin Islands many of the cruisers have moved here to spend their winter and the harbor has several hundred boats docked, moored and anchored. We provisioned, walked around the town a bit, had lunch and went back to our boat and got ready to head out again. Large crowded anchorages are not our thing. We moved up the coast to a small bay, dropped anchor and settled in. Our friends on Artic Vixen were here so we were able to get together for drinks before they moved on in the morning. We stayed for a couple of days, checking out the town, the church, did some snorkeling and Cori kayaked to some beaches to look for more sea-glass. The weather forecast started warning about a change bringing in a west wind and few of the harbors are protected for west winds. We moved again choosing to go up to Fort du France Bay and tuck into a corner with excellent protection. While others were dealing with winds and waves we were sitting in flat calm waters. We were at the community of Trois Ilets, which I believe translates to Three Islands since there were three small islands next to us. The biggest thing to have happened in Trois Ilets is that it is the birthplace of Empress Josephine, wife of Napoleon who caused all that commotion in France and eventually sold us the Louisiana Purchase to help pay for his wars. Yes, that Napoleon. Once the winds turned back to normal we moved across the bay to Fort du France and anchored next to the fort built in the 1700’s. We spent a couple of days seeing the sights, doing a bit of shopping and being tourists. I didn’t mention but this being a French Island everyone speaks French and a few speak English. We however know about four words of French. I can greet you hello and good bye, say thank you and try to excuse myself (pardon) and that is about it. From here we moved up the island to St Pierre. The history of St Pierre is that it was the first settlement on Martinique in the 1600’s. It continued to grow and prosper, being referred to as “the Paris of the Caribbean”. By 1900 it had a population of 30,000. In May of 1902 the volcano, Mount Pelee, erupted sending a super-heated cloud of gas and ash into the city and within minutes approximately 29,633 people died. There were only two survivors, one who was in a basement jail cell when it happened. He eventually went on to appear in Barnum and Bailey’s circus side show displaying the burns he received. The town has rebuilt and now has a population of about 4000, but there are still ruins hat have not been removed or built over and it is said that almost every building is using at least one wall that was built before the event. We did a hike up Mount Pelee one day. We made it about a third of the way then called it quits and worked our way down. It was one of the more difficult hikes we have tried this season. I have been trying to get pictures of the mountain without its customary cloud cover and this day the top was clear. Cori is in seventh heaven since she found that the beach is filled with sea-glass and has been collecting jars and bags of it. After about a week we checked out and in the morning moved up to Dominica.
Our original plan for the season was to go north as far as Dominica. After the devastation caused by hurricane Maria, we decided not to go there. While in St Pierre we met up with our friends on Roxy who had just returned from Dominica. They strongly encouraged us to go. As we say “plans are written in sand at low tide” we made a change of plans, checked out of Martinique and headed off to Dominica. In the process of checking out we found a restaurant that offers a check in/out computer and good Wi-Fi, finally. In the early morning we motored out of the anchorage and up the coast, catching a good wind when we approached the northern tip of the island. From there we had one of the most enjoyable sails of the season. We made the decision to stop for the evening and night in Roseau, the capital city. We picked up a mooring ball, payed too much for it and settled in. The cruising guide suggested this anchorage and gave the identifying feature as the Anchorage Hotel with the white roof. Things have changed. The hotel is still there, the windows are all missing and the roof is also. Taking a good look around with the binoculars it was plain to see that most of the buildings with blue roofs were blue tarps covering a missing or damaged roof. We spent the night, not bothering to go ashore and check in and left the next morning to go to Portsmouth. Portsmouth has a large protected bay and a lot of services enjoyed by cruisers. You are met coming in by a “boat-boy” who welcomes you and offers to help with a mooring or you can anchor there. We chose a mooring with the thought that they ae trying to recover from the hurricane and any money they earn will help work its way through the community. The “boat-boys” in this bay have organized themselves to eliminate competing with each other and offer many services. You need water? Not a problem, Need to get rid of you trash? Not a problem. Need a ride in and to Customs? Not a problem. Interested in any tours? Not a problem. Most islands you have multiple boat-boys coming around offering the same services and it can become annoying. Here they stop by to say hello and ask if you have any problems and what can they do for you. Also, there is a lot of “thank you for visiting our island.” We decided to stay for a week.
Now some information of hurricane Maria. Dominica took a direct hit from a category 5 storm in 2017. Winds were reported as sustained 160 mph with gusting even higher. There is a population of about 70,000 but miraculously there were only 37 deaths. 98% of the building lost or received roof damage, half the houses received frame damage or were destroyed, the leaves on the vegetation was stripped off and many trees were blown down along with virtually all of the power poles supplying electricity. The once lush tree covered mountains were cleared of their leaves and many branches, only now are the trees trying to push out new branches and foliage. All crops such as bananas and any other above ground crop were destroyed. We heard many stories during our stay.
Back to our visit, what did we do? We took a tour up the Indian River. This is a very scenic ride with no motors allowed (National Park) so we got a lot of information from the guide as he poled us up the river. At the turn around spot there is a small bar and we were taken on a short walk to learn of the plants and wildlife in the area. We also saw what the river looked like after the hurricane, completely covered by fallen trees and brush, completely impassable. Prior to the hurricane the river was covered with a canopy of trees. They have done a great job of clearing the fallen trees. We spent a morning at an elementary school helping paint to cover the damage done by flying debris. We took an island tour, quite an eye opener seeing the damage all over the island. The highlight of the tour was when we stopped for a swim at what they were referring to as “the caves”. It is a narrow gorge that you swim into and about 200 feet in is a waterfall. Fortunately the area under the falls is shallow so you can touch bottom and enjoy the falling water. It was breathtaking. This is my all-time favorite activity since we started cruising four years ago. I would do it again in a heartbeat. We did some hiking with one trail just about doing me in. The sad part was when we reached the end of the path that has been cleared we could not continue and had to turn around and follow the path back. We visited the fort and climbed to the upper gun batteries. Everything is uphill since the island is really nine volcanic mountains jutting out of the ocean. We found the bakery and ate at several restaurants and the final night of our stay the PAYS group (the boat-boys) had one of their BBQs to raise money for the relief efforts. There wasn’t much we could do for them other than spend money to help the economy so we did our best.
Our week was up and it was time to leave again. Now we would start making our way South. We left the anchorage with a good wind but quickly fell into the shadow of the island and had a variety of wind conditions along the way. When the winds died we motored, when the winds came up a little we sailed with all of the sails up and when the winds built we reefed the main to reduce how much sail we had up. As we approached the bottom of the island the winds were funneling between the two islands and they built to 20-25 knots. We still had the mainsail reefed but we should have taken it down and sailed under the mizzen and headsail but neither of us wanted to go on deck to drop it so we continued with too much sail giving a rougher ride then necessary. Too much sail causes the boat to heel over excessively and actually makes you sail slower. We were however doing 7-8 knots but it was uncomfortable. Further out into the gap the winds dropped a bit and stayed pretty constant at 20 knots. The highlight of the trip was being greeted by a pod of dolphins when we reached Martinique. We have not seen dolphins for a long time. We continued down to St Pierre and dropped anchor. In the morning we went ashore, stopped at a bakery for croissants, coffee and a diet coke then went to the tourist office to check in. Cori headed to the beach to pick more sea-glass and I went back to the boat to read and update this blog. We met back for a late lunch at the restaurant with the good Wi-Fi then back to the boat where I relaxed and Cori went back to shore for more beach combing. This morning Cori is back on the beach picking more glass and I am hanging out on the boat relaxing, reading and writing. Later I will go in and see about posting this.
Thursday, February 15, 2018
It’s been a while since I have posted but not a lot has happened. It has been windy, very windy. We are having what Chris Parker, our weather expert, considers an unusual weather pattern. Basically a number of things are happening causing the prevailing winds to be from the northeast and blowing consistently in the 20’s and into the 30’s at times. This means we just find a good harbor and hunker down.
We left Bequai hoping for a less crowded harbor at the island of Mayreau. We ended up staying there four days while the wind blew. We did make it ashore a couple of times but it is a small island and doesn’t take too long to see it all. The winds were supposed to drop for a couple of days and we were rolling side to side almost constantly so we moved to the other side of the island and anchored in what is called the Tobago Cays which is part of a National Park. It is a group of small islands with a reef protecting them from the ocean swell. We were not the only ones that thought this was a good idea; there were a lot of boats there. We chose our spot to anchor and settled in. There were a number of boat coming and going on a regular basis, everything from small boats in the 30 foot range up to several mega yachts. We were down by a section favored by wind surfers so we had several groups on day charters that would come out, anchor by us, spend the day windsurfing then go back to wherever they were staying and another group arriving the next morning. My hip was still not feeling well so I stayed on the boat watching the neighbors and reading while Cori took the kayak to shore to see what there was to see: iguanas and a hike up to an overlook for a great view. We had paid for two nights so we tried to take advantage of a weather window to move further north. We stopped at Union Island to check out with Immigration and Customs then motored back to the anchorage in Mayreau to get in the lee of the island and raise the sails. We choose to use just the main with two reefs and a full headsail. This reduced the amount of sail we had up to compensate for the winds in the low 20’s. We set a course pointing as close to the direction of the wind we could and set sail for an overnight trip. The super-moon had been full two nights before so we had a very bright moon to keep us company, along with several cruise ships and various other maritime traffic. What I did not notice was that the winds were shifting slightly and the current was pushing us more to the northwest. In the morning were off of the island of St Lucia but were about 30 miles offshore. We tacked and as we started to get into the lee of the island our speed was dropping. We choose not to enter a harbor at night so it was time to fire up the motor and motor in. The engine ran perfectly, we may have solved the problem. After about five hours of motoring we entered Marigot Bay. There is an anchorage area as you come in and then an opening that lets you into the inner harbor. The inner harbor is filled with mooring balls, a marina and a resort along with a number of small bars and restaurants. We choose to take a mooring from the marina- $30 US per day – and settled in for our first night without rocking and rolling. It was bliss. We booked for two nights but since the winds were still howling out in the anchorage we decided to stay several more. The fact that we also had limited privileges at the resort didn’t hurt either. We spent several days hanging out at their pool. Our next problem was that along with the winds we got several short rain squalls each day. This limited how much the solar panels were able to put out and the protection from the wind canceled out our new wind generator. The boats were so close together that I didn’t want to ruin someone’s vacation by running my generator in the cockpit so our batteries were very low. It was time to move out to the anchorage. We have friends, Phillip and Theresa on Sea-Ya that were out in the anchorage so we moved out and anchored by them. We had met them when we were in the Bahamas. Now we were able to run the generator and make water without bothering any one. On a side note we were able to watch the Superbowl at a close-by bar/restaurant called Doolittle’s. It is named after the movie Dr. Doolittle that was filmed at the beach next to it.
We have been hanging out here in the anchorage while the wind blows. We had several days of rain, more than just squalls and Cori was able to collect a half a tank of water with her rain-catcher. The wind still has not let up. One of the boats decided to make a run up to Rodney Bay which is about seven miles up the coast where the majority of the cruisers were waiting out the weather and after about four miles he turned back saying it was the worst conditions he had ever been in. So we wait. It isn’t as bad as it sounds, we are still able to go ashore, usually in the morning before the wind kicks up and we are getting to know most of the boat boys that come around selling fruit or whatever they have to sell.
The winds are forecast to drop in the next couple of days but then fire up again for another week. We need to make the decision whether to stay put or move up to Rodney Bay and join the others. There are advantages either way.
That’s it for now, as I said, not much has happened.
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
We have made it to Bequia, part of St Vincent and the Grenadines. we left Granada on Monday, the 15th with plans for an early start. first we wanted to top off our fuel so we called the marina just at opening. There was already one boat at the dock and another waiting. We told them we would hang out and to call us when our turn came up. An hour and a half later we were called. No idea what that boat had been doing. Once at the dock we topped off the diesel and refilled the gasoline jerry jugs and were ready to go. It was now 11:00 am. So much for an early start. We motored out of the bay, turned downwind and put out the headsail, we were a sailboat again. We sailed down to the point and turned north. At this point we needed more sail so we put up the mizzen. This gave us more speed but as we started to get into the wind shadow of island we had to hoist the main. The winds were right off of the nose so we were beating into the waves and pinching into the wind. Not the most comfortable point of sail. After about ten miles we started to lose the wind and fired up the motor. After a couple of hours the engine started to act up. It was like it was being starved for fuel. The wind had come up some so we shut down the engine and continued to sail but not on a direct line. It was becoming obvious we were not going to make our destination, Carriacou, before sunset so we opted for plan B and motored slowly to Ronda Island and a small bay there. By motoring slowly we were able to keep the motor running. There was one other boat in the bay and after two tries we were securely anchored for the night. It turned out to be a very rolly night. In the morning I changed the fuel filter thinking that may be the problem. Off we went under sail again for Carriacou. We arrived in time for lunch then went ashore to check out of the country. Rather then stay the night in Tyrell Bay we chose to move around the other side of the island to get an early start. We picked up a mooring ball at the park at Sandy Island and went ashore to enjoy the beach. By morning no one had come by to collect the mooring fee so we raised the sails and sailed off at 7:00 am. We were again not able to run a direct line to the harbor but continued on as best we could. At one point when the winds got over 20 knots we had to stop and reef in the main to get better control of the boat. When we reached the halfway point we opted to start motoring the direct line, against the winds again. After several hours the engine started to act up again, it was evidently not a filter issue. I tied making a fuel diversion system to feed from a jerry can instead of the main tank but was missing one important part. We continued to sail making several tacks to get us close to the harbor then took our chances of motoring slowly until we chose a spot to anchor. Once again we got the anchor down before sunset.
In the morning we went ashore and met with Customs and Immigration and we are now officially in the county. We took the opportunity to walk around and see the immediate sites and pick up a few vegetables at the vegetable market. After a quick lunch we made a visit to a marine supply store to check if they had the parts I think I needs or the fuel system. Then it was back to the boat to rest.
All of these days just sitting while we traveled from island to island had pinched a nerve in my hip and I was having a hard time walking or sitting comfortably. By Friday morning it was much worse and I decided to see someone for help.
Thus begins my first experience with out to the US medical care. We chose a doctor that was advertised in the tourist guide and made our way to his office. His office was in a side room of his art gallery. He is a very good artist. The office consisted of an examination table a desk two chairs a stool and a small cabinet and the walls were covered in artwork. He is French but spoke passable English and I speak no French. I explained my problem several times, he checked my pulse and poked at the site of the pain. That was the complete examination. Then he pulls out several drawers and starts sorting through a variety of drugs. He finally settles on a pain pill that he poured into a zip lock bag and a muscle relaxant that he put into another zip lock. He apologized for not having enough of the other drug but gave me a prescription to have filled. This was the first time either of us wrote something down and he spelled my name wrong. He added the dosage instructions and we were done. No paperwork had been filled out by either of us. I asked how much I owed him for the visit and drugs and he replied “$100 EC or about $37 US. Off I limped to the pharmacy and after getting a weeks worth of Prednisolone and paying $8.40 EC or $3.10 US we were back to the boat. His advice was to go to bed and stay off the leg for several days. He also mentioned losing some weight. Quite a difference from seeing a doctor in the US.
I used the days laying around to run the generator and make water and read. The main reason we came up to Bequai was to attend the music festival. I rested all day then in the evenings went to the different performances. It was a very good time with a wide variety of music from many of the islands and from the States. The performances started at either 8:00 or 9:00 in the evenings so it made for some late nights for us. Fortunately I had been taking a lot of naps. On the second night we ran into our friends Ricardo and Signe who we had met last year in the BVI. They are back this year from France with their new boat, and what a boat it is.
We were able to watch the Vikings game at one of the bars but it didn’t turn out the way we had hoped. Cori has been out exploring some of the island while I have been layed up, she has an idea of what to do and where to go when I am up and about which should be any day now.
We plan on staying in the area for about a month visiting the various islands before checking out and moving north again.
Sunday, January 14, 2018
The Holidays are over and we are still in Granada for a few more days, at least that is the plan. As we sailors say “plans are written in the sand at low tide”, meaning they are subject to change at any time.
We have been taking part in a variety of activities while we are here. We have participated in several more hashes. Cori convinced the hash officers that she had been wrongfully accused of misdeeds and they agreed and subjected the accuser to the same punishment Cori had been subjected to. She was not a happy hasher at that point. The other hash was in the rain. We thought it would stop raining in the afternoon and we would only have to deal with mud but were wrong. It was a long hike in the jungle in the pouring rain, not the most fun. We have done some touristy stuff such as checking out two of the forts built back in the 1700’s. Unfortunately they are not in very good condition and not much is being done to preserve them. We made a trip to the Seven Sisters Waterfalls for a day in the mountains and swimming in the pools. We only made it to two of the falls but it felt great to be in fresh water instead of salt water. We have attended several of the music nights at both the Brewery and at Nimrods Rum Shop as well as a trip to the container park. The container park is close to the University and is sort of a food truck event, except instead of food trucks they have set up shipping containers to work out of with an open bar and seating area in the middle. It is very popular with the students since the food and drinks are not expensive and very good. Last weekend we attended the “Pure Granada Music Festival. It is a completion among six singers for who will perform on the main stage at the big festival in April. There was some pretty good music performed. This weekend there was a dinghy concert in the next bay. They set up a barge and floating dock tied to an anchored tug and ferried people out for the show. Everyone with a dinghy was then tied up to the barge/dock and then others tied off of them as more arrived. There ended up with better than fifty dinghies tied together and you just climbed from one to the other to move around or to get to the bar on the barge. There were two singers from the previous weekend and they put on a very good show. At the end the dinghies all untied from each other and headed back to their boats. We also went to tour the Spice Island Garden where it was interesting to hear of the medicinal uses for the various spices and plants. We then visited a botanical garden with over 250 identified plants from around the world.
Those were some of the touristy things we did.
We spent the first week on a mooring ball in Prickly Bay and then moved further along the coast to Clarks Court Bay. This bay is very popular with the cruisers for its easy access to Hog Island beach, a very popular hangout. It also has the advantage of being closer for our friend Sperry to pick us up at various times. Sperry is the local fisherman that we met last year and his wife is the teacher Cori brought supplies over for. He dropped his kids off to ride with us on the trip around to the new bay, their first sailboat ride except that we motored all of the way. We were invited to their house for Christmas Day and had a great time and got to eat a number of local foods that were new to us. We also have been taking their daughter with us on several hashes and the trip to the waterfalls.
Several days leading up to New Year’s we had a rainy spell, but is has passed and everyone is out and about again. With overcast days and intermittent winds I have had to run the generator more than I had planned. This gives me the opportunity to make water since the water maker is an energy hog. It is warm during the night and we try to keep things open for a breeze but we have a hatch just above the bed and it wakes me whenever I feel rain coming in. Then we have to get up to close the open hatches. After it passes we will open them up again until it rains again. One night we were up at least four times to close things and then up again to open when it gets too hot to sleep. These are just some of the trials and tribulations of cruising in the tropics.
New Year’s came and it was a quiet evening on the boat. We had invited Sperry and his family to come out to the boat to watch the midnight fireworks but only he and his son were able to come out. There was supposed to be fireworks off of the private island near us but they evidently got moved to the next bay where he now has a marina. It also started to rain just at midnight but we did get to see some of the higher displays over the hills. Around 1:00 am it let up and we got another display that had been postponed due to the rain. The weather being what is was we invited them to spend the night. The next day his son got another experience learning to kayak in Cori’s kayak. I think spending the night on a “yacht” was high on his story list when he got back to school.
We have been here just over a month which is a problem since Customs only gave us a 30 day permit and we were on day 31 when I thought of it. Today we made the move back to Prickly Bay and picked up a mooring ball and went in to Customs to get an extension and pay an overtime fee for doing this on a Sunday instead of a weekday.