As I type this, we have the island of Montserrat on our starboard side with its smoking volcano (photo above). It is quite amazing to see how the lava flowed down the mountain side and basically buried the village at the bottom. It must have been a bit of a nightmare for the people living there as there appears nowhere for them to have escaped the two flows.
Yesterday morning we stopped off in Marigot Bay, St Lucia, after spending the night navigating from the Atlantic Ocean into the Caribbean Sea. I had not slept the previous night and was a bit bushed. We tied up a the fuel jetty at 06:00 and waited for the fuel guy to arrive. He did, just after 08:00, and I purchased 66 gallons of diesel which cost me US$222.00. We then cast off our lines and headed for the sea. As we were heading out from the dock, a fellow in a green shirt was busy shouting and whistling at us. I was so tired that I ignored him and continued on our journey. It was only later when I figured out who the fellow was on the dock - the St Lucia Immigration officer - we had not checked in or out! Oh well, maybe next time.
We expect to arrive in Sint Maarten just before sunrise tomorrow morning, get our load-gear and be on our way to Tortola within a few hours. Hopefully there will be no delays as we will then arrive in Tortola just after sunrise. At the moment there is a lot of packing and cleaning taking place on board. It is weird how much junk we actually have on board that will be thrown away before we hand over the boat to the Moorings representative.
It is fortunate that we did stop and purchase fuel - we have little or no wind at the moment and the engines are working overtime. Richard, on the 46' behind us was just transiting the channel between St Vincent and St Lucia this morning and is two days behind us. He is making for Tortola for fuel and water and hopes to arrive on Christmas morning. He is sailing directly there and will then continue his voyage to Fort Lauderdale, his final destination. I am sure his crew must also be looking forward to spending Christmas day with their feet on dry land.
Our "Ship Spotting" competition came to an end just before entering the Caribbean Sea. The final score was: Shaheda 7, Terry 6, Shaun and myself drawn with 12 each. So, we have a draw and will thus each have a bottle of rum to drink or take home.
I will put out a final blog report tomorrow but wish to take this opportunity to thank everybody for taking the time to follow my travels and hope that something of interest was found in my ramblings. I also wish you all a pleasant festive holiday and may the fat man in the red coat and white beard leave you something you wished for under your tree. Please remember to leave him a cold beer in return as his work generates a great thirst!
Regards from Shaheda, Shaun, Terry and myself, John.
At noon today we are exactly 100 nautical miles from Marigot Bay in St Lucia, where we are going to make a quick stop to take on fuel and fresh water at the Moorings base. We will also have to obtain two oil filters for our Yanmar engines and give the engines a service as we are just hitting the service period.
One thing we collect at sea is garbage. All vegetable scraps are thrown overboard but all plastic and containers are bagged and stowed in one of our lockers for disposal in the correct manner. This is another item that we will be leaving in St Lucia together with as many 25 litre plastic drums that we used for diesel storage. They are all empty and we need to get rid of them to create storage space for gear we have to load in St Maarten.
Our ETA in St Maarten is now Monday morning, the 24th December and our ETA in Tortola is about noon on the 25th December. A bit of a shame as I had wanted to arrive the day before Christmas so that we could book a table at some restaurant for a Christmas lunch.
We have received our flight details back to Cape Town and depart Tortola on December 27 and arrive back in Cape Town just before noon on December 29. The flight is from Beef Island (next to Tortola) to San Juan to Charlotte in the US to Frankfurt to Cape Town. More on that in a future report.
This is another short report. The next one, after we depart St Lucia, will give you a bit more information on what is happening and how we are getting along to our destination.
Regards from Shaun, Terry, Shaheda and myself, John.
We have started heading towards a waypoint just west of Barbados and should be there sometime on Thursday night. From there, we have changed our route to head through the island chain south of St Lucia and then up the west coast of the island to the Moorings base in Marigot Bay. Basically, we are running out of fuel due to having to excessively charge our batteries and need to take on a few hundred litres of diesel to be able to complete the delivery.
This pit-stop will delay us a bit and we now have an ETA in St Maarten on the morning of 24 December and an ETA in Tortola on Christmas Day.
At present we are heading out north of the ITCZ but still experiencing heavy rain squalls and adverse winds - not heading us but more from behind than on the beam, as the forecasts have predicted.
Well, this has just been a short update to let everybody know where we are and what is happening. Regards from everybody on board, John.
At the moment we are all cooking from the heat and humidity. It is quite funny when talking to Jack (AA3GZ) on the net in the afternoon that he is freezing from the cold in Pennsylvania, with snow and ice around him. We are in the "Doldrums" while he is not!
For the past few days we have had very little wind and have been motoring. We expect to start picking up the wind again tomorrow (Monday) night and the forecast looks good with northeast trade winds well into the Windward Island chain. Let us hope that the ITCZ (the modern abbreviation for the old doldrums), remains more or less where it is and does not start moving north as we do. This can happen, as the ITCZ does fluctuate on a continual basis.
I still have an ETA for Tortola on December 24 but we still have to make a "pit-stop" in St Maarten to pick up load gear from the Moorings base before we sail the final 100 nautical miles to Tortola. It is going to be a bit of a juggle to get things right as I noticed that the 23rd is a Sunday - lets hope that the base manager in St Maarten has our gear ready when we arrive.
The title of this report also is linked with our dinner tonight - Mince Rotis, which Shaun and Shaheda are busy preparing (photograph above). They have been slaving away for some time and the trick, as far as I am concerned, is to produce the pancake in the limited area we have for such cooking. I must admit that the curry mince has smelt great whilst Terry and I have been drooling in anticipation.
Well, enough of that for now! Back to our ship spotting competition. At the moment the score card stands at Shaheda 5, Shaun 10, Terry 5 and myself 10. Over the next couple of days we again close with one of the shipping lanes before we change course and start heading north towards Barbados. We still have about four days to go before the competition ends and anything can happen to the score card.
For now, regards from all aboard until the next report.
At 01:30 (04:30 UTC) this morning we crossed that invisible line and sailed into the Northern Hemisphere. The only celebration that took place at the time was a whole lot of snoring from those who were off-watch. Terry, who was on watch, made himself a cup of tea!
So, when everybody was awake this morning, we had a bacon, sausage and egg breakfast with a glass of bubbly and orange juice - and gave old Neptune a sip as well. I also presented each crew member with a certificate commemorating the event as it is most unlikely that they will ever cross the equator aboard a vessel again.
So, at noon today we had a noon to noon run of 182 nautical miles - a little better than I expected considering we have had little wind over the last 12 hours. We now have 1673 nautical miles to go to Tortola.
Richard, on the 46' behind us, has had some problems. They were pushing their boat a bit hard to try and catch up to us and ripped their spinnaker at the clew. Being innovative and having an innovative crew on board, they have managed to repair the spinnaker (although nobody knows how long the repair will last) with Sikaflex, a very tough silicone sealant. They have dropped back from being just over 400 nm behind us to now just over 500 nm behind us. For David Heaslip, your son is fine and appears to be enjoying himself.
At the moment we have the spinnaker up and, at times, are doing over 9 knots with the help of the current that is giving us a 2 knot boost. However, all good things must come to an end and in a few days we will be loosing the current and have to go back to 'normal sailing'.
The bird life around us has been quite spectacular. Whilst on watch earlier, we had a large flock of birds near the boat in a feeding frenzy. There were obviously some large fish chasing some small fish, which the birds were also having for dinner. Talking of dinner and fish, guess what is on the menu for our dinner. Ah, you guessed correctly - we are having tuna fishcakes 'down under', which basically means that Terry is cooking us fishcakes.
On that fishy note I bid you well until the next blog report. Regards from Terry (the fishcake king), Shaheda, Shaun and myself, John (alias Neptune Rex).