13 January 2015 | Simpson Bay Lagoon, Sint Maartin
27 December 2014 | English Harbour, Antigua
08 December 2014 | Isles de la Petite Terre, Guadeloupe
05 December 2014 | Portsmouth, Dominica
27 November 2014 | Admiralty Bay, Bequia
20 November 2014 | Admiralty Bay, Bequia
22 June 2014 | Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten
Where does the time go??
10 June 2015
Three months since our last blog. WOW, where does the time go?
So after Peter and Patti left us and we're in St Thomas, Tradewinds calls us and says "can you do a charter her in St Martin and then seven weeks in Panama?" "Okay..."
So we wait for a suitable weather window and decide we don't want to bash our way to St Martin and arrange for a mooring ball rental in Charlotte Amalie harbour. Off we go to SXM on a brand new 52' cat...beautiful. Then it's off to Panama and Boca del Torro. If you've never been, GO...it's great. Boca Town is like walking into a 70's movie scene c/w love, peace and joy at every corner. Hostels everywhere and everyone seems to be under 25yrs old. Surf City. 70's hippie music and all.
While there I decided to take advantage of the great price and finally did my Open Water dive certification. Made my first dive a night dive and have been loving it ever since. It's a complete ZEN moment while you're down there. I can't get enough of it and with Tradewinds I can dive free 3 or more times a week.
While in Panama we get a call (again) to ask if we want to extend our time here for a few weeks so we can take the boat through the Panama Canal. How quickly can we all say "YES". The trip was amazing. So much history in that area. So much wild life. One night on the Rio Chagres we slept under the stars and listened to Howler monkeys in the trees around us. We saw wild Parrots everywhere and as you flash the light along the river banks at night green eyes of the croc's come flashing back. We saw the town of Portabello with it's Black Jesus where all the gold and silver was loaded and bound for Spain back in the 1500-1600's
The trip through the canal was an adventure for sure. We leave the Caribbean side with it's 1-2 ft tides and are greeted on the Pacific side with its 15' tides. A trip to the island of Tobago just outside Panama City was stepping back several hundred years into the past.
We finished off pulling the boat out onto dry dock at some old fishing marina. They had a big platform that raised the boat from underneath and put you on a rail system and parked you in the yard. I never saw so much rust i all my life as I looked across the field of steel fishing boats. We arrived at hight tide and while there the tide dropped to expose the MANY sunken fishing boats sprinkled through the anchorage. it makes navigating the harbour very challenging and we were lucky to get a bit of local knowledge.
We finally finished of in St Martin once again for two more weeks of charters on the new 52. A complete dream to sail and handle. I really didn't want to give it back, but alas, Kathrian was waiting in St Thomas and needed some attention after a slight mishap when she decided to leave her mooring and go sailing off by herself one day...ouch. Maybe she went looking for me.
So here I am now looking for a spot to put her up until about end of November. Going home to Canada for a while to check in with family and friends.
St Thomas, USVI
03 March 2015
Finally a blog update, we have busy and a bit lazy. We arrived back early from Barbuda and was able to meet up with Carol Laidlaw who was in St. Maarten, we spent a few days hanging out with her in one of her condos she was trying on for size. She was nice enough to lone us her car while she flew off to see Cherry Stobie in Peurto Rico for a few days.
In the meantime we met on Monday with Tradewinds to be asked to do a one week charter in Belize leaving Thursday. We got the boat organized for our departure had our friend Mark from Sea Life keep an eye on it while we left it anchored close by.
Carol returned to St. Maarten with Cherry only for us to return the car, have a cocktail and say goodbye for the next ten days.
Our third time in Belize chartering was smooth and uneventful and nice to see the people we have worked with there before.
We planned on meeting Cherry in Trellis Bay BVI on February 6th for her families celebration commemorating them developing Beef Island back in the 1940's. Carol decided to join us on the overnight sail to BVI. After we provisioned and had Neil scrape the bottom of the boat, checked our zincs off we went. We had only a few days to do all this and managed to get to the Bay in time to have sundowner anchored beside Doug Patterson.
The weekend had events, speeches and parties, lots of Polish people but no perogies....strange!
There was even an impromptu wedding for Cherry's niece.
Carol flew home and we moved our boat to St. Thomas to meet Peter, Jack's brother and his girlfriend Patti who we toured the BVI with for 10 days. We tried to hit all the hots spots and only missed one or two, the weather was windy but the sun was hot and the company great.
Our next adventure starts this Thursday March 5th , we are leaving the boat in St. Thomas and flying to St. Maarten for a one week charter, our first time for Tradewinds but we have been around the island many times. Then we fly to Panama to do a four week charter with one week off in between two charters so we can tour around on our own. Looking forward to seeing Bocas del Toro, that is the area we will be sailing with our guests.
Next Blog will be on our return the end of April.
A very quick stop in Barbuda
13 January 2015 | Simpson Bay Lagoon, Sint Maartin
We arranged to meet our guide at 0900 on the other side of the spit of beach to get a tour of the Frigate bird colony and to get driven across the lagoon to Codrington. This 150’ strip of land that separated the Caribbean Sea from the inland lagoon is a very steep beach and we huffed and puffed and pulled our dinghy a long way up the beach and locked it to a sunken fence post. Later we would be happy we did this.
Vernon was promptly on time and he skillfully guides us across the choppy lagoon waters to the north end where lay the largest Frigate Bird colony in the world. Even bigger than the Galapagos Island colony explains our guide. Here some 3000 mating pairs of Frigates make a home for some six months, have a bit of romance, hatch their one offspring before the male bird takes flight for a change of scenery in the Galapagos Island. Here he mates with another, spends another six months until the chick is old enough to leave the nest and then returns and the cycle repeats itself. The females stay put and simply wait for their return each year.
You can tell the males by the large red sack on their necks which become quite inflated until they've attracted a mate and do their business then it deflates to a shrivelled piece of skin. These birds are majestic flyers reaching top speeds of 40mph and although their main diet is fish they can not land and/or take off in water. If a bird accidentally does go down it is common for other birds to scoop down, pick up the bird and then drop it so they can get flying once again. For this reason you seldom see single Frigates in flight.
In Codrington, which is the capital of the island, we rent some mountain bikes and head out across the island. We see very little traffic on the roads but at one point I hear Donna shouting behind me. I turn around to see she has stopped her bike on the road just before 6-8 horses come galloping across directly in front of her. These horses, as well as donkeys, run wild on the island.
When we reach the east side of the island we find the ruins of an old house which housed a watchman. Here he would keep a watch for ships sailing along the shore and signal them to come in. Once close the reef would claim the ship and the salvage operation would begin. Apparently the Barbadians made a good business from ship salvage in the day.
This shore line is wild with surf that has over centuries carved large caves in the shoreline. Finding one of these caves we explore inside to find a passage through it to an elevated piece of land they refer to the ‘Highlands’ and at 125’ ASL is the highest point in Barbuda which is otherwise a very low flat island. The views from the top are nice.
We get back to Codrington and find street vendors pretty much the only gig in town for lunch so we order BBQ fish and pops in an establishment that appears to multi-purpose as a night club after dark.
As we get close to our boat on the return trip Vernon remarks on how the surf has picked up on our side of the spit of land. As we approach you can see the breakers crashing over the spit of land high into the air. Luckily our dinghy was still high and dry and Vernon helps us time our launch into the surf so we drove out safely without overturning the dinghy. Back on our boat we assess the situation as the boat repeatedly floats forward on our anchor toward the beach before being pulled back by the wind each time. A check on the weather showed a new development of a north swell for the next two days which we knew would only increase with the high wind expected in the next few days. So, with a quick decision to leave, we haul up our dinghy and lift anchor at 1700 and sail out through the reef infested waters as the sun slowly sinks into the sea. Our destination is Sint Maartin some 76nm to the west and we happily sail throughout the night with our jib only in order to pace our arrival for early daylight in Simpson Bay.
We pick up a empty mooring ball at 0730 and wait until 0930 for the first inbound bridge opening so we can anchor in the lagoon. Throughout the day and on Monday the wind increases to 25-30knts and we are happy with our decision to get out of Barbuda when we did.