07/03/2014, Great Harbour
Picked up our guests on Sunday night at the airport & then just a short 2 minute walk back to the dock at Trellis Bay & onto Pannikin. We had a great chat over a couple of drinks & then to bed for all.
Monday morning saw us back shore to do some groceries then a sail across to Virgin Gorda. Unfortunately Savannah Bay was a little rolly due to the change of wind so we continued up the coast to Gorda Sound & into the anchorage again off Prickly Pear Island as Gayle suffers from sea sickness. Happy Hour was upon us again so we planned our next day over drinks & nibbles, then dinner & bed.
Tuesday we headed off early to get a buoy at The Baths at the southern end of the island. We were too late & many other boats were waiting for buoys as well so we headed back to the anchorage off Spanish Town & took Mr Slappy into the marina for a wander. We had a good walk south, ending up at Mermaids Dockside Bar & Grill overlooking the water & across to Tortola for a beer before heading back to Pannikin. Of course we had to stop for more wine at the supermarket at the marina first! We decided to stay on the anchor for the night & head back to The Baths early in the morning. After dinner as we sat on board we could see huge fish swimming in & out from under Pannikin - their eyes glowed red & bodies flashed silver as they caught the light. These are tarpon, a big game fish, but they were just attracted to the light from the back of the boat. We had four of them swimming around for a while & kept us entertained for a good hour.
Wednesday we picked up anchor at 7.00am & motored to The Baths buoys. We picked up one easily, had some breakfast & put our swimmers on. This is a National Park with huge formations of granite boulders. No dinghies are allowed so you have to swim from your boat to the shore or take your tender & attach it to lines off shore then finish the approach by swimming. You can also approach by land of course. We had good swim in & then went exploring. It was a top spot & we were so lucky to have the place to ourselves for a good 45 minutes before bus load after bus load of cruise ship patrons arrived. If you get the chance to go here make sure you are early - we were there by 8am & was so worth it. After a couple of hours wandering around & taking a thousand photos we swam back out to Pannikin, dropped our buoy & sailed to Scrub Island. We had been told that there is a resident dolphin here that has no problem with you swimming with him/her. We attempted to anchor off the marina/hotel there, but had little luck was took a buoy for an hour at Marina Cay & had some lunch. We then sailed across to Cooper Island. We anchored in Manchioneel Bay. Ange & Frank went for a snorkel off Cistern Point, which wasn't too bad. We headed into Copper Island Beach Club for Happy Hour - 2 for 1 Carib, Rum Punch or Painkillers. The prices were good - the best we'd seen for a while (Carib 2 for $4!). Back to Pannikin for tuna pasta & another evening show from the tarpon. These weren't as big as the night before but still good to watch.
Thursday we headed across to Road Town & took a berth at Village Cay marina. This is a nice little spot & good and close to everything. After showers & laundry we jumped into a taxi & headed to Josiah Bay on the north coast. Frank's son in law has a mate who runs a surf school there & Frank was keen to catch up with him. Ended up being a top couple if hours. Steve hired a board & went surfing for the first time in 12 months. We had a great lunch of burgers & chips at the little beach cafe then chilled for an hour while Frank chatted. Back then to the marina for a swim in their very cold pool - woke us up though after those lunch time beers! We had a drink on Pannikin then headed out to find a restaurant. We stopped for a drink at Pusser's - a pretty cool pub & company store - for a Painkiller (golden rum, coconut milk, pineapple & orange juice & nutmeg). We had dinner at "The Pub' near Fort Burt marina. We had a great time even though service was slow..... we waited one & a half hours for our meals, but it was worth it! Food was great. Back to Pannikin by taxi driven by a very cool dude & bed after another top day.
Friday morning after a bit of a sleep in we hit the supermarket & then headed out of Road Town across to Peter Island (a very big hello to Peter Ireland back at home!). We dropped the pick at Deadman's Bay & went for a snorkel. We were disappointed as we had read & been told it was great snorkelling. Maybe we were in the wrong spot???? After lunch we headed around the coast to Great Harbour which is lovely & protected (have to look after Gayle) & the snorkelling was good. We've spent the afternoon swimming, bird watching, snorkelling & doing some sewing..... fixing up some shorts of Ange's that badly needed some help. Happy Hour soon.....
02/03/2014, Road Town
Wednesday morning we headed to the island of Anegada - the northern most island of the BVIs. It is a coral & limestone island rather than volcanic. We arrived at the Setting Point anchorage at about lunch time after a lovely sail across from Gorda Sound. The anchorage is very open & quite choppy. There are mooring buoys available, but you can anchor on the outside of the buoys. It is very shallow here too - only 2.4 metres for the majority of the channel coming into the anchorage. After lunch we took Mr Slappy ashore & went for a good walk. Very quiet here with few shops & a couple of restaurants - well known for their fantastic lobster dinners. We walked to the inland lagoon hoping to see the Caribbean flamingos that live here, but all we could see was some splashes of pink as they hid in the scrub. We made a dinner reservation at Potters By The Sea for our dinner then headed back to PANNIKIN & watched boat after boat arrive. Anegada is very popular for such a small, quiet place - especially for the lobster & the snorkelling on the northern side of the island. All the restaurants were packed by 7pm & lobsters were flying every which way! We had a great dinner seated next to a couple from Pennsylvania, John & Nancy (he English, she American) & their guests from Ontario, Canada. They gave us heaps of tips for the Virgin Islands so hopefully we will be able to see a couple of the places they recommended. After dinner the music started & heaps of people were up dancing, but we headed back to Pannikin.
Thursday we sailed south towards Road Town on Tortola. We tried to grab a mooring buoy at Great Dog to do some snorkelling, but they were all taken. We will try & get back here at some stage as the snorkelling is supposed to be fantastic & comes highly recommended. We continued on to Road Town arriving late afternoon as we stopped in a small bay on the south of Beef Island to have some lunch & go for a swim. Road Town doesn't have a lot of options for anchoring.... outside the break wall near the cruise ship terminal is recommended in our Virgin Island guide, but it is very rolly & unprotected. Boats were rolling all over the place & it looked very uncomfortable. We headed into the channel that leads to the charter yacht marinas to the east & the Village Cay marina on the western side. We managed to anchor in a very small area near a mangrove island which is well protected from the swell, but still gets the wind to cool the boat. We were a bit hesitant at first as there were 3 NO ANCHOR buoys at the head of the bay but we decided this was to keep boats out of the channel leading to the marinas. We got online & applied for our ESTA visas for the USA once we arrived - we need to take a ferry across to the US Virgin Islands to get our passports stamped before we can enter with PANNIKIN. A lot of fluffing around!
Friday while we waited for emails to say our visa application had been processed we started getting ready for our guests arriving on Sunday - Mum, Gayle & Frank. Cleaning cabins, making beds & storing all our junk away took most of the morning. We had a wander around some of Road Town & did a bit of grocery shopping - not much here really. We had drinks on board PANNIKIN on Friday night listening to all the music coming from various restaurants & clubs.
We received our visa approvals in the early hours of Saturday morning. We headed to the ferry terminal at 8.30am for the 9.30am ferry to Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas - US Virgin Islands. As our departure time approached we were herded into taxis & left sitting in the car park for 15 minutes..... then told we would be transported to another ferry on the western side of the island! After our 20 minute trip we were hurriedly but on the ferry which then sat there for another 20 minutes!!! We were getting nowhere fast! The trip over to St Thomas though was great - we saw lots of lovely anchorages for later on. Once we arrived at Charlotte Amalie we sat on the ferry for 50 minutes as US Immigration processed another ferry load of visitors that arrived before us. When we were allowed off the ferry we lined up for another 25 minutes before our turn to be processed by Immigration. Finally we had that stamp in our passports & we had time wander down town & have some lunch before heading back to Tortola on the 2.30pm ferry. Charlotte Amalie is much more geared up for tourism than Road Town - lots of shops for the cruise ship passengers. To make another long story short our 2.30pm ferry left at 3.45pm due to a number of reasons & we finally made it back to Road Town & passed through Immigration at 5pm. A long day to get not much done! We are happy not to recommend the 'Native Son' ferry line - pick one of the other 2 ferry services to get to the USVIs!
As I write this we are heading to Trellis Bay on the north of Tortola to wait for our guests arriving tonight. Can't wait!
25/02/2014, Prickly Pear Island, Gorda Sound
We spent until Sunday afternoon anchored in Marigot Bay. We got a nice surprise when we saw JOY round the headland on Thursday evening & had a couple drinks with a very tired Jeremy & Susie that night. Friday & Saturday were spent during odd jobs, checking out chandleries & then drinks aboard AMARIS (owned by Steven & Sean who we met at Jolly Harbour) on Saturday night.
Sunday we did washing & prepared our dinner for our overnight crossing to the British Virgin Islands. We pulled up anchor at 4.30pm & made our way across to Virgin Gorda. It was a following sea, so uncomfortable & no sleep for us! We arrived at about 6am then motored up to the anchorage at Spanish Harbour. We checked in with Immigration then had a couple of hours sleep before having a walk through Spanish Town (not much happening here!) & organising a new sim card for internet & phone. As the anchorage is fairly rolly we motored around the corner to Savannah Bay & anchored inside the reef for a lovely calm night.
This morning after a lovely catch up on sleep we had a great snorkel. The water is so clear here. We made our way north along the island to Gorda Sound under sail. There are so many boats here - we counted 43 under sail at one stage & there were many more popping out from anchorages along the way. We have anchored off Prickly Pear Island & will take Mr Slappy over to The Bitter End for a wander in a short while. This is a nautical village with plenty to look at apparently - a walk will be good anyhow.
20/02/2014, Simpson Bay Lagoon
A long time between blogs - sorry about that - there is plenty to do here on St Martin/Sint Maarten! We spent until Sunday afternoon anchored in Marigot Bay exploring the town of Marigot, climbing up to Fort St Louis for a wonderful view of the western side of the island & doing some grocery shopping at a great supermarket we found. There is plenty of colour & music in Marigot at the moment as 'Carnivale' is about to start. I will check out when the parade is on with the Tourism Bureau today - it should be great to watch.
Sunday afternoon we sailed down the coast & anchored in Simpson Bay on the Dutch side of the island. Not a nice anchorage, very rolly & uncomfortable. We went through into the lagoon on Monday morning at the 11.30am bridge opening. Very different view on this side - giant super yacht marinas & hundreds of sailing yachts at anchor in the lagoon. Planes taking off constantly add to the noise of hundreds of tenders running around as people do their boating jobs. We visited the chandleries & had a wander around Cole Bay on Monday afternoon then back to PANNIKIN for a quiet night.
Tuesday was Ange's birthday - thank you for all the birthday wishes sent this way! Steve scrubbed Pannikin's bottom while Ange had a birthday pedicure in the morning & then after lunch we caught a local bus to Maho Bay. This is the spot where the runway is right beside the beach & as the planes come in it seems as though they are going to land on your head! There must have been cruise ships in port as there were hundreds of people on the beach taking photos & hanging onto the airport fence as planes rev up & take off. Never laughed so much in our entire life! We had a couple of drinks at the Driftwood Beach Bar as we hid from the rain & people watched. This is a crazy bar - but lots of fun! A quiet night then on Pannikin after a great day.
Yesterday we bought a few things at the chandlery & stocked up on cheap vodka from the Sky Supermarket at Simpson Bay. Just before we were about to head out of the lagoon at the 4pm bridge opening we heard a yell from across the lagoon! Pete & Martina on HAVACHAT had just arrived after having some work done at Oyster Pond. We had a quick chat with them & hopefully catch up with them in the British Virgin Islands in the next week or so. Through the bridge & back up to Marigot Bay!
13/02/2014, Marigot Bay
Tuesday we picked up anchor & headed north around the corner to Anse de Grand Colombier. It's classed as a nature reserve, but there are plenty of free mooring buoys. This is a lovely spot. Not a rolly anchorage, a lovely beach to walk on & some good walking tracks if you feel like some exercise! Also some pretty good snorkelling as well in clear water. We spent until this morning there, snorkelling & walking and generally having a laugh at the stuff the crew of the large super yachts have to put up with - bring the tender to shore, set up umbrellas, lounge chairs, tables with cloths. Then bring all the toys to shore - stand up paddle boards, jet skis and those motorised hand held thingys that drag you along at a great speed & take you underwater too. They then sit on the beach waiting for the guests to arrive at their leisure & serve them drinks, lunch etc (including running after their hats that blow away in the wind!) & then pack it all back up again after the guests decide they've had enough for the day. We did Google one of the super yachts moored behind us - it is available for charter for $740,000 a week. Unbelievable!
We motored back to Gustavia this morning in pouring rain to check out of St Barths then made our way across to St Martin/Sint Maarten (the island is half French/half Dutch). Progress was slow due to a following sea, so Ange did the clothes washing & read and Steve made water & read. We arrived at the Sandy Ground Bridge on the St Martin side at about 1.50pm - enough time to have a swim & get cool before the bridge opened at 2.30pm. We motored through into the lagoon & looked for somewhere to anchor so we could check in with Immigration. Only the channel to the marina was marked with buoys so finding somewhere deep enough for us was difficult. So difficult we ran aground twice! The first time we were that stuck that a lovely Dutch guy got in his tender & helped Steve (who was in Mr Slappy) push the bow of PANNIKIN to try & move her off the bottom. After 15 minutes we were free.... but again it happened as we tried to turn back towards the marina. We were lucky this time we could reverse off before becoming fully stuck. There was no way we were going to attempt to cross the lagoon to the Dutch side to anchor, so we dropped our pick in the middle of the marked channel, jumped into Mr Slappy & headed to the shore to get a few groceries (beer!). Back to PANNIKIN then & back through the bridge at 5.30pm to anchor in Marigot Bay outside! Tomorrow we will do some exploring!
Thursday saw us move further south along the coast to try & get out of the ever increasing wind that has been battering St Kitts since our arrival. For some reason it seems windier here than the other islands. Also PANNIKIN needed some relief from pulling hard on the anchor chain night & day. We left JOY & anchored stern to in a lovely little cove just north of Ballast Bay. The plotter showed reef near the shore but we took our time & found a lovely spot to anchor only 100 metres from the shore. We were totally stoked to discover great snorkelling spots on either point of the cove - lots of fish in every colour & also some decent corals. We spent Thursday & Friday here & were lucky enough to see a big group of monkeys come down to the shore & make their way north. Lots of little babies - very cute! We also did lots of snorkelling!
Saturday we upped anchor & motored back to the harbour of Basseterre to check out with immigration. There was no one available at the cruise ship terminal so we had the long walk out to the airport again! We walked back to town via the supermarket for a few extra supplies & also filled our fuel container for the generator. Back to PANNIKIN then & before we could lift the anchor we were boarded by the St Kitts & Nevis Coast Guard. Two blokes came on board & went through our paperwork, passports & every locker/storage container on the boat. They were very friendly & after about half an hour were on their way. We motored down near White House Bay to drop the anchor for the night.
Sunday morning we were up early to be on our way to St Barth's (St Barts). We didn't get a lot of sleep PANNIKIN rolled all night due to the swell. It took us about 3 hours to sail up the west coast of St Kitts - we didn't have a lot of wind. But once we reached the top of the island & headed to St Barth's we had a great sail with 20 knots of wind & little swell. It's probably been the most comfortable sail we've had in a long time. We arrived at St Barth's around 2.30pm & dropped anchor in a small bay called Anse de Grand Calet near the capital of Gustavia. It is a rolly anchorage so we took a line ashore to keep our nose to the swell. We swam & read & watched people on the beach before having an early night after watching more of 'Justified.'
Today we headed into Gustavia to check in with Immigration. Everyone gets charged here - whether you are in the marina, the harbour or just anchored outside. It cost us 23 euro for 2 nights. We had a good wander around town - plenty of ritzy shops like Cartier, Hermes etc and walked past 'Le Select' - a cafe where Jimmy Buffet used to play. The harbour & surrounds is very rolly with plenty of swell - even the large super yachts boats tied to the town walls were all rocking & rolling. Not the best anchorage we've seen. After buying a baguette for lunch we headed back to PANNIKIN for an afternoon of swimming & reading.