04/19/2012, Falmouth Harbor, Antigua
The first 5weeks of our journey we averaged 3 tuna a week. We ate "fresh from the sea tuna" as well as had a stock in the freezer. All we have caught since our time in Martinique was grass and most recently the proverbial "One that got away!" Yup, on our way to Iles des Saintes we had one on the line and as Jim was trying to slow the boat down, Stephen trying to tighten the line it kept going out until it snap and all was gone. We know it was not a fish pot as the water was at least 600ft deep. The funny thing was Stephen just went out to the line to check it and let it out a little more. Timing was great but the 40lbs line did not hold. We are going to say it was a 60lb tuna.
We bought new line @ 75lb weight but only have 300ft of it so we would have to be quick once something bit. Well, about fours hours into our passage to Antigua we got a bite. I jumped from my position while Jim slowed the boat & called for Stephen to get on deck. No worries, I had it under control as it was not hard. I told Stephen I thought we must have just caught some grass but low and behold we caught a Mahi Mahi. Evidently they give up once they get hooked until they get to the back of the boat. It was a she and she was delicious.
At anchor in Falmouth Harbor as it is Day 1 of the Antigua Classics Yacht Regatta - singlehanded racing. We plan to go ashore and tour Nelson's Dockyard and find laundry & provisioning locations. Friday we will probably find a spot on a hilltop to observe the boats while Saturday we have been invited aboard m/vBodacious to spectate amongst the vessels.
Latest Update: Jim & Stephen secured a crew position on one of the racing vessels - Charm III. guess I will hanging out alone for a few days:(
04/17/2012, Terre den Haut, Iles des Saintes
Sitting still and watching time go by.....not one of my favorite things but in the sailing world I accept it with joy! I mean the alternative is to set sail in winds of 25-30, scattered squalls with winds 35-40 and of course the seas that go along with such winds. Not many boats headed out today (4/16) and if they did it was merely to move from one island to the next within Iles des Saintes ( 3 small islands clustered together) which is a mere motor. It was entertaining to watch others pick up a mooring ball, saw a boat head out and return shortly thereafter and one boat return to its morning position as the new spot was more bouncy.
We actually moved from a great spot (Ilet da Cabrit) where we went for snorkeling on Sunday to closer to a village (Terre den Haut) so we could walk around and get some groceries. It was bouncy but we have been in worse.
Not sure what this morning brings us as I have looked out and the whitecaps are still in clear view and no one has left from around us yet. Will have to wait until the rest of the crew awakens, check Chris Parker's weather report and then decide. The good thing is we have nothing but time so all is well. Plus, I can finish my latest book - "A Yellow Raft in Blue Water" by Michael Dorris graciously left behind by one of Jim's passage crew - Thanks Bob and Julie!
Check out the photo gallery as Stephen had a great time playing with a puffer fish. He always seems to find something exciting. Both he and Jim do as they tend to look up under rocks and shells.
St Barts to Dominica
04/13/2012, Prince Rupert Bay, Portsmouth, Dominica
We ended up spending 2 days in Gustavia, St Barts as there was a regatta going on and we had great seats. We left there Saturday morning @ 8am with favorable winds and calm seas. Mid afternoon we were entertained for about 30minutes with about 12-15 dolphins swimming at the bow of the boat (pictures in gallery). I basically stayed at the bow watching in wonderment. Definetly one of those moments that keeps you sailing!
As soon as my 4-9pm shift was over a squall arrived. Fortunately it was Jim @ the helm so all was well. Around 10:30 a tack popped on the genoa/jib so all hands on deck to figure out a solution. Lucky for us there was a second loop so Stephen lowered the sail, loop attached and sail back up and full of wind. Stephen & I returned to our bunks until his midnight watch and my 3am time slot. Things settled down around 2:30am. The jib was furled in and the motor cut on as the winds died hence my watch was "smooth sailing" - no pun intended. The full moon glistened on the water and the sunrise was magnificent. Jim returned to duty around 7am and set the sails for our entry to Portsmouth, Dominica by mid afternoon.
M/V Bodacious (Jack & Jo) arrived and we all headed to shore for dinner at the Sunday Night BarBQ Fundraiser - this is put on by the Indian River Guides to help pay for the security boat that cruises the bay.
MONDAY - was sail repair day, a few laps around the boat(s), the observation of a school of squid, a puffer fish with blue eyes and assorted items fallen off of earlier visitor boats (towel, plate, utensils,...) and the finishing of "A World w/out End".
TUESDAY - we joined m/v Bodacious and s/v The Vagrant (George & Jeanie) and our guide Jack for a day on land. We began with a walk through the Syndicate Nature Preserve in hopes of seeing a few parrots. We did but they were always in flight. They actually live high in the canopy and if they were on the ground they would have to hop to higher elevations to take flight. On to Milton Falls (a.k.a. Syndicate Falls) where we met up with a Rastifarian farmer and received a plentitude of fruits and information. Did you know cinnamon is from a tree? Then a moderate walk (reminded us of a HASH) to the 80ft falls that is the primary water source of the people close by. Into the van for a few scenic photo stops, lunch in Calibishie and then onto Chaudlier Pool. The road to the walk path would not have been found on our own nor would we have been brave enough to drive a rental car on such road conditions...thankful for Jack (our guide) and his willingness. The path down was steep with two river crossings and then VOILA! A cool and refreshing pool and babbling brook. Both Jim & Stephen took the great leap into the 30ft deep pool while the others enjoyed a nice soak. Heck, Stephen flipped on his 2nd time down (pics in gallery). The trek up was longer but not as steep which was nice for the weary. Poor George took a 10ft tumble down while we were still at the bottom (upodate: he is doing fine!)
WEDNESDAY - was a school morning for Stephen and then a walk to Fort Shirley and upwards to the upper battery which was a very nice walk.
THURSDAY - was a lazy morning and then the guys headed out to a 2 tank dive and returned home to a fine meal prepared by the galley wench.
We will soon depart (Fri or Sat) hop up to Ilse de Saints, and Guadaloupe for some snorkeling and then onward to Antigua for the Antigua Classic Regatta.
04/04/2012, Sint Maarten
WOW, what a week of land time! I need a vacation from my vacation of my 'vacation'/cruising.
The wedding weekend in Chapel Hill was filled with family and so meanigful not only for the couple but for those in attendance. The Bridesmaids Luncheon that held 4 generations of women, Rehearsal Dinner with a fabulous Blue Grass band, a wedding day brunch that offered any food you could imagine and then of course a night of dinner and dancing. This may sound gross but my bunions have blisters and thankful I can go barefoot again.
After swinging through Edenton to drop off MomC we headed to Virginia to help celebrate my dad's 80th birthday. My sister Dawna is an excellant cook followed by Darlene's scrumptious bread pudding.
All of this was done with our elder two kids which made the land time even more wonderful.
Can you believe I did not take the first picture? I even brought the camera home. Believe me, it was all beautiful - the people, the food, the service, the fun
Now it is back to sailing the Caribbean. We provisioned the boat today and plan on heading out with the 11am gate opening. We will go to St Bart's for the night and continue to Dominica the next day/night. Yup, I lost the "hop down" idea but it has been stated we will do that one the way to Antigue mid April.
03/25/2012, Simpson Bay, St Maarten
Friday morning we set sail from Dominica to St Maarten @ 7am. The journey was 178miles which in a car is only 4 hours whereas by boat it was 26. We were counting on 30hours with 6knots/hr so we did pretty good.
03/22/2012, Portsmouth, Dominica
Captain Jim put out a watch schedule and I got 4-9pm & 3-6am hence got to watch the sunset & the sunrise. Pretty sweet gig and I did not have to cook dinner. I mean how is one suppose to be below deck to cook when they are suppose to watch the traffic?
At 3am there was no one else out there but us...and 5000 others. Okay, so they were on a very slow moving cruise ship but it was a comfort to know someone else was out there. It is a big ocean.
This journey was much more enjoyable as the winds were at our beam and the seas calm hence not crashing on over our bow. Nevertheless, I put on my rain gear (pants too this time) because I refused to be cold and wet again. I even went below and took a nap while underway which is huge for me. Guess I am finally getting my sea legs? No worries Dr Frank and Bob - you still get to do the long passages!
We arrived at a beautiful little day spot and picked up a mooring, snorkeled for a few hours and then Stephen finished cleaning the bottom of the boat. To our surprise a Maxi boat race was happening from St Bart's and passed right by our spot - more than once. We have seen these rather large vessels but never under full sail. They were absolutely graceful and fast. A treat
We fly home Tuesday for family festivities on both sides - Our nieces wedding and my dad's 80th birthday!! With this said, I will not be posting until our return to Dominica in early April. Yikes, that is another 30hr journey.!? Maybe I can convince the captain of a hop down. Land Ho!
Dominica is 30miles long, 16miles wide, 365 rivers, 7 waterfalls, 2nd highest lake, 114 different birds, rains approx 1 inch per day,.......and the only caribbean island to have an established trail crossing the whole island - 115miles. When approaching the island from shore it is very 3 dimensional with steep peaks and sharp valleys.
We had a beautiful 3.5 hour sail to northern Dominica (can't remember the bay name as I left the notebook on the boat.!?). The winds came and left somewhat but the seas remained calm. I actually had some more helm time again today. Not so scary with the calm seas. About 3 miles outside of our next stop we were approached by a wooden motor boat welcoming us and letting us know he would be available to assist in a mooring once we arrive - Chuck w/ Eddison Yacht Services - and he was.
We asked him what types of tours they conduct and they were actually going to do a Indian River Tour within the hour with 4 yachties from Switzerland - we joined in and had a great educational & informative time. Eddison was our guide and he rowed the 9 of us a mile up river pointing out the various flora and fauna along the banks. We also saw fish, crabs, a lizard and iguana. Did you know Dominica has 5 types of snakes? None are poisonous but then again if you are a boa constrictor you don't need venom and Stephen from startling me with a snake like thing along the ground once we got to the bush bar. Yup, a bar located along the river in the bush! It also offers a place to spend the night similar to that of a tree house for the adventurous.
A hiking path along the Waitukubuli Trail passes along this part as well and crosses the river further up.
**For those Johnny Depp fans (Dawna & Cara) a few scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean II were shot along the river. Check out the photo gallery to see if you can spot them. Our guide & his boat were used as the 'coffee/snack' boat during filming and the bush bar was the location of the wrap up party.
** FUN FACT: when a coconut is still green in high in the tree they are called jell-nuts and picked for their very nutritious water. One they turn brown and fall to the ground they are coconuts. Every part of the tree is used from the trunk, palms, arms, nuts
** Did you know that islands have both a Carib Indian name (the tribe that overtook the Arawaks before the French & British came onshore) & the noted name? Most islands use the carib name to name their beer. Dominica's beer is Kubuli (short for Waitukubuli). They also have Kubuli Shandy which we learned is actually not a beer but a lemon or ginger beverage. You travel - you learn!
The guys are out on a 2 tank dive while I sit here @ Big Pappa's catching up on emails and blog. When they return we plan on heading up to the Fort along the shore.