January to April 2009
18 September 2009
We have snatches of signal so I don't know when you will get this. It was midday Saturday 16 May when we were in the Saints, a group of 4 islands just less than half way between Guadeloupe and Dominica. 15 52 27N 61 35 10W if you are on Google or looking at a map. But now it is Tuesday 19 May and we are in Prince Rupert Bay Dominica....no it is now Thursday 21 May and we are still here in Dominica till after the 30th of May.....no its not.... now it is Monday 25 May....
I think I last wrote a long email when we returned to Antigua from Montserrat in January, and now it is already half way through May... unbelieveable!
These last four months have been so incredibly busy I really don't know where to start ... If we go back to January, Daniel started a new job on another yacht called 'Orchestra', then we sailed to Montserrat in order to renew our visa's for Antigua. Once back in Antigua we sailed around to English Harbour again and when we had a few days without work we sailed around to Indian Creek (to the east of English harbour and spent a night or two there all alone in the bay surrounded on one side by dry hills and the other side by mangroves.
Then it was back to English harbour where we decided to anchor near the beach. The wind was howling in gusts so we put out a stern anchor because our neighbour also had a stern anchor out. A little later another yacht arrived and dropped its anchor (unbeknown to us, over our stern anchor) Somewhere in the very early hours of the next morning we dragged and just touched the big steel boat next to us (no damage to either) so we spent the rest of the night pushing ourselves away from the boat as we could not lift our stern anchor and of course the motors wouldn't start. Once the sun was up and the batteries charged a bit we were able to start the engines. The boat whose anchor was over ours also dragged and our stern anchor was free, so off we went and reanchored a little further along the coast near the cliff where we anchored before, but as luck would have it, with the strong gusty winds we dragged there as well. Next morning same thing again, anchor up ... move along and drop anchor again, and yet again that night we dragged... it doesn't happen in the daytime while you are watching of course. So next day this bunch of exhausted and irritated boaties upped anchor and moved into the mangroves where we tied bow to, to the mangroves with strong ropes and put out a stern anchor......and there we stayed till the week before we left Antigua to head down island again..no more dragging...much better sleeping!
Michelle, Samantha and I did a bit of day work over the next two months trying desperately to get enough together to attend Candy and Christi's wedding in Cape Town. Al also had a job looking after someone elses boat while he was away. As the time got closer to the wedding I was getting desperate and knew that it would take a miracle for us to all get to the wedding. Miracles do happen and God is always good and very special, kind yachting friends helped us by booking our tickets in advance for us. To get back to SA is an issue on its own. Without US visa's we couldn't go via USA so thought we would go via UK, but as of the 3rd of March all SA's have to have a visa to transit UK. So I tried to go via South America, but to do so we would have to go via Miami....so that couldn't work. Then our special friends found out that SA's are able to transit Germany for 24 hours without a visa. So the trip went from Antigua to Venezuela (Margarita island), Frankfurt, Dubai and then on to Cape Town and back the same way.
I left on 9 March to be able to help Candy a bit with the final preparations for the wedding. Al and the girls left on the 23 of March. The time before the wedding certainly kept us busy... what with dress fittings, last minute shopping, flowers to be chosen and ordered etc etc there wasn't much free time. I was very blessed to be able to go to Vanwyksdorp and see most of my family and friends there. It was heartwarming to see that Oasis is looking so good and that there is still plenty of action there. Also that our old home and grounds are so pretty. And that most are still in good health and looking well. (Thank you for the warm welcomes that I received there) Pat and John were our geneous and loving hosts and it was wonderful to spend a bit of time with them again. It is only so sad that there was so little time.
While Candy and I visited in Vanwyksdorp Christi headed down to George for a job interview and a week later we were very pleased to hear that he had the job. Then it was back to Cape Town and preparations of which there are always plenty. Then Al and the girls arrived and the tempo was increased as they also had to have dress fittings and get a few items such as shoes for the wedding. All the while we were staying with Christine and George - our new inlaws - who are some of the most generous, helpful and kind people we have had the pleasure of staying with. Somewhere between the girls arriving and the wedding we also managed to squeeze in a kitchen tea with family and friends (who all contributed to make it such a success).. and had Candy stuff all the wrapping paper into the oversized clothes she was wearing.... quite a sight! and also visit my sisters Joy and Gayl and their families. We also had the privilege of attending church a few times in Cape Town and meeting up with many of our friends there.
My big 'job' for the wedding was making and icing the wedding cake and I am pleased to say, it did not collapse and looked pretty good and Candy was happy, so that made me happy too. The day before the wedding we all went to the hall to set up. Christi's family friends who made the dresses (Rosemarie) and did the flowers (Ethna) did a wonderful job and were such a help throughout the time we were there.
The day of the wedding arrived, rehearsal took place early then the last few things were taken to the hall and then it was time to get ready. The girls went from the rehearsal directly to Ethna's house to get ready and by the time I got there to get dressed, the three of them looked like models. Beautifully made up and once dressed ... oh so pretty. To all those in any way involved in the wedding who receive this email, THANK YOU for everything. Then it was photo's (Lize and Darren) and off to the church.
The ceremony was very meaningful and from feedback afterwards many felt it was one of the best they had attended, our thanks to Bob Klynsmith for conducting it. The bride and groom looking so happy together and smiling as only they can. Marriage is a wonderful thing and we pray the two of them will have a long and happy life together.
The reception was also very pleasant. Franzu was the MC and certainly did a good job getting the speeches to fit in so well with the serving of the food, which was abundant and verytasty .There was no shortage of something to drink, but to actually get a chance to eat and drink was difficult because it was so wonderful to see our family and friends again that talking took up most of the time. 5 of the 6 of us (my brothers and sisters) were able to attend the wedding unfortunately Andre and family were not able to make it, and on Al's side two of his brothers were there. His sisters are both far away, Vilma in Durban and Doreen in China teaching English and brother Alan in Namibia. It was great to meet many of Christi's family as well at the wedding and during the preparation time. Then the day we had planned for so long was over. So it was clean up and then home to bed, still so hyped up from everything.
Next morning it was up early again to the next very special ceremony... Samantha was baptized... What a wonderful thing to have, a wedding and a baptism in one weekend! We spent a few hours with the Couto's, Granny Grace and Bob catching up on the last 2 years that we have been away.
Monday had us taking a trip up to Saldanha to see Willie (unfortunately Lynette was away) who sailed around the world in 1999-2001 in a catamaran like ours and who was so helpful and a source of good advice before we left. Then popped in to the SBY club to say hi.... at least Mike was there and we could see all the improvements that have been made there. Then it was off to visit Gilbert and Alette (Al's brother and wife) then to our long time friends Brenda and Andy where we spent the night. It was great to have Mark with us as well and be able to catch up with him as well. Somewhere in the blur of the week we went to Joy again where Mark, Gayl and Janet were staying for the weekend and had a lovely 'braai' and visit with all the family.
Wednesday was Al's birthday and the day I went for my mammogram. As I said earlier God is good and this mammogram was clear so I don't have to go back for two years so that was a wonderful blessing. Oh yes, also in the previous week we had had to organise a visa for Samantha for the Netherlands Antilles and went to pick up her passport after the mammogram. Then it was off to Somerset mall to meet with yet another good friend Jane who had kindly brought us a regulator from Rod for our solar panels.( Another one of those things that gave up the ghost before we went to SA)...then before we knew it, it was Friday and time for Al and the girls to leave...and Saturday was my turn. So fast...it seemed like I just got there and it was time to go again....so hard to say goodbye again and not know when you will see family and friends again.... at least we have cell phones and email which make it a little easier.
After long flights and hours in airports we all arrived safely in Antigua on the Monday afternoon to be met at the airport by another good friend Helen who had made us food and bought us some basics ... what would life be without all the special people we know..... Then it was getting Sam ready for her new adventure.... actually, trying to extricate a few items of clothing that did not get stained from the one bottle of wine that broke in transit (you should see how the guys toss the suitcases around at the airport!!!) Next day we all went to the airport to see Samantha off. She flew to St Martin to join her new yacht 'Snow Goose' . Another goodbye! (She is safely aboard and on her way to the Bahamas as I write, to get her US visa then off to USA for the hurricane season).
Fortunately the Classic Yacht Regatta began the next day and Michelle and I were busy with that for the following week. From 7h30 till late night we were so involved that we didn't have time to brood over the fact that we were now only 3 on the yacht. After Classics we helped at the Antigua Sailing week and though we did not start so early we were still out quite late at night for many of the evenings. There is so much to tell about the regattas but this email is already too long. So what I will do is end off here and write another one from the regatta's to where we are now.
April May 2009
18 September 2009 | Antigua to Dominica
The Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta is an international regatta and took place from the 16th to the 21st of April. There were about 70 yachts participating. Michelle and I were involved as volunteers and manned the hospitality desk each day and then helped with other activities before and after the 'normal' desk activities. The activities went something like this: Arrived back from SA on Monday afternoon, helped Sam pack and saw her off at the airport on Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday 8am hospitality desk and then the welcome party in the evening, Thursday: (Single handed race) coffee, desk, packing skippers bags then late afternoon/evening skippers briefing. Friday: (1st race) coffee, desk, single handed prize giving and party. Saturday: (Race 2) coffee, desk, Pims party then musical evening. Sunday: (Race 3) coffee, desk, Parade of Classics, Maine Party in the evening...I won a bag and a few t-shirts. Monday (Race 4 - it was a rainy day and there were two reasonably big collisions - one small boat was dismasted in the first collision - but at least the three crew were ok) coffee, desk, polishing trophies and then an earlier evening at home.. whew! Tuesday: Gig racing and Cream Tea Party before the Prize Giving, so we were involved in setting up and decorating the stage and helping wash dishes and then after the prizegiving it was clean up... Taking down all the decorations we spent so long putting up!!!! Back home late again only to be up nice and early on Wednesday morning to join the Antigua Sailing Week committee desk. This is also an international regatta with about 140 entrants this year. We were spoilt this year when one of the entrants brought us 2 soft chairs for our use for the week from their yacht.. so the three of us took turns sitting in comfort. We packed skippers bags, answered questions, handed out information, kept the notice boards up to date, fetched and carried 'things' spent a day in Jolly Harbour when the one race ended there, and were available for anything that we were needed for. This regatta is far more serious racing than the Classics. For those that are sporty the Classic Regatta is like a game of cricket and the Sailing week can be compared to a game of rugby. During this week we also ended up helping to serve and doing kitchen duty at a wedding and also did a long shift selling drinks at one of the evening activities...with music so loud that the ground vibrated ....till about 1am when the rain fortunately brought an end to the activities. Quite an experience trying to hear what drink we were being asked to mix above the noise and as the evening went on to understand what the half drunk people were wanting!!! All in all we had a wonderful time at the two regattas. We were quite exhausted at the end of the time but it is always wonderful to meet so many people and make new friends as well as experiencing new activities.
During the second regatta, Daniel arrived back in Antigua on Orchestra and managed to come and visit us on the weekend. It was great to see him again and give him all the news and hear of his trip to Barbados, Grenada and back up to Antigua.
At the end of the Sailing Week Michelle and I took part in Dockyard Day where we dressed up as part of a group wearing period clothing from the early years of Nelsons Dockyard then went on stage while the narrator told a little of each persons position at the time. Michelle was the wife of an officer and I was a sailmaker! Daniel and Nick (the other crew member from Orchestra also took part in the Dockyard day) spent Friday and Saturday night with us then Sunday we sailed around to Jolly Harbour where we were anchored outside the harbour mouth for the week. Finally getting an opportunity to sort out the boat after being away for more than a month and then being busy for 3 weeks with the regattas. Then Monday 11 May we booked out of Antigua and sailed around to Carlisle Bay so we could get an early start on Tuesday for our crossing to Guadeloupe. At 5am we were up and about and motorsailed out the bay with the hopes that the squally cloudiness that was in front of us would clear up as the sun came up....BUT...The sail from Guadeloupe was HORRIBLE! It turned out to be a rather rough day and I succumbed to a full bout of sea sickness for the first time. Al and Daniel did all the sailing while Michelle and I lay around in the saloon. But as it was only about 11 hours to cross the channel they each did two and a bit turns so they were ok. Once we were in Deshaies it was fine, there wasn't too much wind but it was raining as usual.We spent one night in Deshaies (Northern Guadeloupe) and the next morning (Friday) went and said hello to La'ventura (another catamaran with British friends aboard) Then we were going to sail to the south of Guadeloupe but the weather was so lovely that we decided to continue on to the Saints which are just 10 miles south of Guadeloupe. The crossing was very pleasant ... we had good wind so we moved at a nice speed and the sea wasn't too bumpy.
The Saints are beautiful... we anchored off Terra del Haut and spent Saturday on the boat ... it was raining most of the day. On Sunday early afternoon we walked through the town. It is so pretty and clean. The houses are small, neat, pretty and on the roadside. Every garden has flowers. The roads are narrow. Some are cement and other sections tar and there are only a few vehicles. Mostly people ride scooters or bicycles. It looks like what I would imagine old Europe to look like. We walked quite a distance out of town up the hill to a viewpoint.... we walked in the rain of course so couldn't take as many photo's as I would have liked to. We saw some skinny goats that were very happy to be fed some grass from the roadside. After our walk we motorsailed to another anchorage under Pain de Sucre which is a little to the south west of our first anchorage.Monday morning early Al, Daniel and I went for a long snorkel. We went with the dingy to the point then snorkelled back to the boat... Al dragging the dingy along behind him. There were quite a few interesting fish. Al touched a flying gurnard (blue moth fish) and it 'flew' across the sand at the bottom with its wings wide open ... very pretty. Then it was time to leave again....and what a pleasant crossing from there to Prince Rupert Bay in Dominica. The sea was calm, the wind just right and everyone had a great sail...the crossings aren't ALWAYS bad! We booked in just before 4pm at customs which is more or less in the middle of the bay, then decided to move to the anchorage where the other yachts were at the north end of the bay, (good thing too, because we talked to another couple the other day, who had been attacked on their yacht in the night, near customs) and that is where we still are. On Tuesday we walked through 'town' to past the Indian River where part of Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed, bought some fresh veggies and fruit and then walked back to the dingy. It is quite a long walk from where we are anchored. Wednesday was cleaning day, for washing the clothes and cleaning the boat and then Al and I went out for dinner to the Blue Bay restaurant on the beach just a little way down from our anchorage, for our 27th anniversary. This restaurant like many on the beachfront is the downstairs or front section of the home of the people running the restaurant. It was so clean and pretty and the service was really good. Can't say the food was anything special, our girls would do a better job, but the atmosphere was lovely and it was nice for Al and I to go and eat out alone. By 8am Thursday we were on the road walking into town to catch the bus to go around the island and see what it looks like. Our first trip took us across the island in the north, from Portsmouth to Marigot. Our second bus went across the middle of the island to Roseau and the third brought us back here along the coast. Most of the trip is up and down steep roads through the jungle. Very interesting. We did not see any birds and apparently Dominica only has one little wild animal that looks a bit like a rabbit...we have since found out that this is an agouti (like in Iles du Salut) and also have mongeese. There are many types of birds but you need to be out and about as the sun comes up or goes down to see them. We walked for a little distance from Marigot on the road towards Roseau before we caught the next bus, but there is very little to see in Marigot. Roseau is the biggest town but it is also not very big. This island is reminiscent of Surinam, with small wooden homes in disrepair, lots of rubbish lying all over the place although there are signs everywhere warning of fines or imprisonment for dumping rubbish, and of course plenty of ship wrecks and broken jetties along the beach. Here we have seen Candy girl Boutique, Sams Gutter, Albert Street and a dingy called Kathy.... not yet found something for Daniel or Michelle... we keep looking. Once we got back to the boat we all had a lovely swim.... the water is much cleaner and warmer here than in the mangroves in English harbour or the anchorage outside Jolly Harbour in Antigua.Water is cheap here, we pay 15EC for up to 500 gallons because they have so much rain here and 365 rivers.We took things easy on Friday, recovering from the long day. With the roads being so narrow and with many potholes, and the bus drivers who ride as fast as they can, it makes you very tired because you have to hold on or fall over!!
We made contact with the Dominica WCG congregation and planned to go to church, so early morning we were in the bus on the way to Roseau. Alet Vidal, a daughter of Cris Vidal the Minister, picked us up at the bus stop and took us to church. The group meet in a small hall overlooking the sea. There are about 40 people who regularly attend and as in Grenada, they love to sing and have lovely voices. It really is wonderful to meet with a church group and be able to sing and worship together and get some spiritual food again. The Vidal family invited us back to their home for lunch. After a lovely meal and a chat they took us via the Botanical gardens - where we saw two parrots (part of a breeding program) and some very interesting trees including an 'elephant apple' tree - to the bus stop.
Tomorrow we plan to take a long hike up into the mountains to enjoy the jungle and hopefully see some wildlife and birds, and be able to take some good photo's and when I have decent signal to put these photo's on face book.
June July 2009
27 August 2009 | Dominica to Grenada
...and there was a landslide!
Part of the rest of our time spent in Dominica was taken up by a lovely walk up into the mountains to the source of a small river where we had our picnic lunch in the shade of some very large wild fig trees growing on the edge of the riverbed. While we were there the farmer through who's property it runs came by and invited us to walk with him higher up the mountain where he had many of his vegetables growing. So we had an interesting tour of his 'fields'. Here they just make holes in the ground in the steep mountain side and plant their root crops. There are no beds or clearly defined fields. You have to be very careful where you walk because there are plants everywhere. They were clearing another section of rainforest for more crops on the opposite side of the valley so there was a lot of smoke to add to the intense heat and humidity.
The end of the same week we hired a car as we had to take Daniel to the airport at 4am the following morning. So to make the most of the opportunity of having a car, we explored the northern end of Dominica and drove along a very bad road for quite a distance then walked about a mile downhill into a river valley to have a swim in the Chaudierre pools. There were two small 'waterfalls' and a couple of beautiful pools below them in which we swam. Except for another couple who were leaving when we arrived, we were totally alone there and it was extremely peaceful... but we didn't see any parrots as I had hoped. After trudging with much effort back up the hill to the car we spent the rest of the day driving around and enjoying the lush forest and coastal scenery.
That night we arrived back at the anchorage in the pouring rain and had to wait a while before we could go back to the boat. All tired and ready for a rest we ate and went to bed reasonablly early as we would have to be up before 4 the next morning....well as luck would have it, one of the beach bars had a party and the noise started just after 10pm...the 'music' was so loud that the boat vibrated and thumped even though we were quite a long distance away from them...but what was worse was that it went on all night and was still going strong when we got up at 4. Needless to say, none of us was at all impressed. It is the kind of music that has an irregular beat that you cannot fall asleep to. So tired and frustrated we drove these windy steep dangerous roads back across the island to the airport and dropped Daniel off.
He was flying to St Martin to join the Broadreach Group for the summer as a skipper on a 46 ft catamaran taking teenagers on 2, 21 day sailing and diving excursions from St Lucia to Grenada, and the second group from Grenada to St Lucia.
Most of the islands have very narrow, steep and dangerous roads and the local bus and taxi drivers are often quite reckless... we know, this is the transport we use to see the islands!
While still in Dominica, we enjoyed the company of some church members who visited us on the yacht and brought us some really lovely fresh produce from their farm.
Since being in the Caribbean, we realise just how much can be done with a green banana! In SA you just enjoy them fully ripe, but here, the green banana and the plantain are more important/useful. They are used like a potato, boiled, fried like french fries, and made into crisps.
From Dominica we moved on down to St Lucia, the crossing not to bad...either I am getting more used to it or it wasn't too bad...who knows.
In St Lucia we anchored in Rodney Bay just outside the lagoon where there is a large beautiful marina.
Our time in St Lucia was very pleasant. The anchorage is just off a long white beach which is kept very clean and neat. Inside the lagoon are many shops and a supermarket close to a jetty...so you don't have to carry groceries too far. We met up with church people there and attended one service with the really friendly and welcoming group. We spent one evening with a group of church people who provided us with a lovely dinner of traditional local foods. Salt fish, fried sweet plantains, chicken, lentils and rice and a crisp lettuce and tomato salad. They also make the most delicious fresh fruit juices that anyone could ask for.
We took buses around the island to get an idea of the landscape. We had some good drivers that day and a pretty bad one that had Michelle 'seasick' in the bus. It is scary flying around corners on blind rises on steep mountain passes, on the wrong side of the road! By the end of a day of bus rides, all the muscles ache from having to hold on tight to avoid being thrown off your seat as you travel around the corners.
The islands all have lush forests in the centre on the higher ground and it is incredibly pretty to drive through them. There is always a fresh cool breeze as you pass through the forests. Although we see quite a few little black birds somewhat like the indian minahs / spreeus and golden doves there are not many other animals or birds to be seen. There are apparently still quite a lot of birds up in the forests, but we haven't seen this when driving through.
During the second week we were in St Lucia, Daniel arrived with his two divemaster crew members and had three days to stock up the boat and get ready before the first group of teenagers arrived. So when he invited us to go waterskiing with him, we decided we would give it a try... been just more than 27 years since we last tried to ski. But surprise surprise I actually managed to get up after two attempts and went probably for my longest ski ever! Al also got up without any trouble and had a long ski too.
We also enjoyed having the three of them over for dinner and to play dominoes on the 3 open evenings before the kids arrived.
From Rodney Bay we sailed on down to Marigot Bay which is a beautiful small bay - claimed to be the prettiest bay in all the Caribbean - where there is a small marina and some shops and a VERY steep hill leading away from it that we trudged up... looking for a mango tree that we were told about.... didn't find the tree but passed many beautiful flowering plants on the fence of the marina property. From the top of the hill, it was possible to take photos of the whole bay. Fortunately too there was a little tearoom at the top or Michelle and I would have 'died' of thirst before we got back to the bottom of the hill! Though it is so humid the heat makes you very thirsty here, especially if any physical effort comes into the equation. From Marigot we sailed on down past the two majestic Pitons to Laborie on the south coast. Here we anchored in a small bay all by ourselves. The only noise was the lapping of the water on the shore, though there was quite a swell that rolled us a little.
First thing next morning we left for St Vincent...me, the doubting Thomas that I am (repenting of) saw that there were clouds that looked ominous and so was very concerned for the first while, praying all the time...then had to stop myself from being so silly when it turned out to be a really pleasant crossing. In fact is was so good and the weather so pleasant that we decided that it would probably be quicker to go on the windward (east) side of the island. Anyway, we continued towards the east side of the island only to see as we got closer that there was a long line of white water from the top of the island as far as we could see to the east... Al thinking it was just a gust of wind decided to continue, but when we got to the white water there was no wind but the waves were steep and ugly and came crashing over the side of the boat...so we turned tail and went west instead. It is a current that is strongest just before and after a tidal change and churns the sea up terribly. It is hard on the boat and the crew when the sea is like that so to please us girls, Al decided we would go along the leeward side instead. This change gave us an opportunity to see the northern end of the island which is really pretty. As soon as we went west the sea became calmer till we were motoring as if we were on glass the sea was so calm. The sun was getting low on the horizon casting a redish glow on the island making it even prettier. After motoring around Chateau Bellair past the only yacht anchored there and being reminded by a little boat boy about the attacks that had occurred there last year, we decided not to stay and continued on down to Barouallie (bottle and glass rocks). Just before our anchorage we passed Wallilabou which was one of the Pirates of the Caribbean sets with the stone arch where the bodies were seen hanging and that crane like 'thing' that Jack Sparrow swung on. We were going to anchor at Barouallie but as Al had a really bad cold and wasn't feeling very well we decided to pick up a mooring that was being offered to us by another 'boat boy'. Next morning before 6 the local fishermen had already pulled in a net of fish and were selling them noisily on the jetty. This is one bay where you see many fish jumping and when speaking to the chap who rented us the mooring he told us that there were still plenty of bigger fish in the St Vincent waters. On many of the other islands the fish are scarce and the people are catching tiny things of about 10cm. They span nets across harbour entrances and have fish pots out along the coast and catch all the little fish....not much thought about what they will eat in the future.
From Barouallie we motored down the coast almost to Kingstown before turning for Bequia and had agan a really pleasant crossing. As we entered the bay on our way to anchor in front of the town 'Port Elizabeth' we passed Daniel's boat which was moored at a dive site just outside the bay.
Bequia is an interesting small island with a pretty, tidy little town. Here we had to book in to St Vincent and the Grenadines as we did not go on land and do so on the main island of St Vincent. Included in this booking in are Bequia, Canouan, Mayreau, Tobago Cays and Union Island amongst other smaller ones.
We met another SA couple on a catamaran named "Free to Be". Joe and Mercia crossed the Atlantic with the ARC rally and are now cruising the lower islands during the hurricane season. Daniel visited us a few times while in Bequia. He too had the same bad cold that Al had and Michelle picked it up too so for a few days we didn't do much.
We decided to head for Canouan next but as the water was calm and the wind was good we decided we would continue on to Mayreau but just before Mayreau we changed our minds again and headed for the Tobago Cays. The Tobago Cays are a group of small islands protected by a reef that almost circles them on the east which leaves the water pretty calm and very clean. (From Bequia down to Grenada the water is very clean and warm and the islands are very close together) As we motored into the anchorage at Tobago Cays we found Daniel was also there so we anchored next to them and spent the daylight portion of the next 24 hours snorkelling in water so clean on a reef so alive that you could imagine you were in an aquarium. We also walked around and explored one of the islands and when just about to go back to the yacht were caught in a squall and hid behind some trees to try and avoid getting soaked. It helped a bit but not that much... so we hopped into the dingy and by the time we reached the yacht we were well and truly wet. But as fast as the squalls come they leave so while Michelle dried off and warmed up and made lunch, Al and I went for another snorkel. As we had only paid for one day in Tobago Cays - quite expensive as it is a marine park that is being well looked after - we left after lunch and after an hours trip anchored in Salt whistle bay at the northern end of Mayreau. This too was a really pretty bay with a long white beach and palm trees planted around some bungalows belonging to a hotel. Here we also went for a walk to see an old raincatcher... a large area on the side of the hill that had been cemented many many years ago with a gutter at the bottom leading the water into a stone water tank via a pipe. While it appears that it is still being used, the two square stone structures next to the water tank have been used to dump rubbish in which spoils the whole area. This bay also has a long steep hill leading away from it and we had to climb that one as well! From the top of the hill you can look down on the pretty bay, see Canouan and the Tobago Cays if you look north and see Union, Carriacou, Palm Island, Petit Martinique and Petit St Vincent. The other intersting thing is that like the southern end of Antigua and many other islands, the vegetation is like Vanwyksdorp. Scrub, thorntrees, cacti and other small leafed trees. If you found yourself there and could not see the sea, you would think you were in the little Karoo...home from home. From Saltwhistle bay we sailed around to Saline bay at the southern end of Mayreau and spent a night there. This is the bay below the only little town on Mayreau. Next morning we sailed to Union Island and anchored in a quaint little harbour surrounded and protected by reef. The town is old fashioned and clean and made us feel we would like to spend more time there but we decided to just book out and head for Carriacou. As we were on our way to the customs office we met up with Kristen, Daniels crew..so we got to see them again and had a lovely chat. Unfortunately, it happened to be a public holiday so when we went to book out, it cost us an extra 64EC dollars just to book out. From Mayreau we sailed on down to Carriacou and anchored in Hillsborough so we could book in to Grenada. With the swine flu at present Grenada only allows entrance at two harbours. Hillsborough in Carriacou and St George in Grenada. So with Al and Michelle still coughing when no officials were around, we booked into Grenada, took a walk around Hillsborough, another pleasant little town then headed back for the boat. Daniel arrived a little after us and had quite a job getting booked in, as he now had to get all his group to fill in forms and sign them to say that they were not sick. So as it was the end of the day, he had to take the forms back to his boat and get the rest of the crew to fill them in and complete the booking in the next morning.
After breakfast the next morning we sailed down to Ile Ronde, small islands just more than halfway between Carriacou and Grenada and with Michelle at the helm, anchored close to shore in the little bay.
There are only about 20 people living on this island. We went snorkelling along the reef on the edge of the shore and saw quite a variety of fish and coral. Unfortunately it was overcast and the visibility wasn't so good but it was still a pleasant snorkel.
Next morning the skies were black and it started to rain, so we waited for the shower to pass then left for Grenada. As we entered the channel I noticed that the skies were even darker to the east and was quite concerned about what was coming.... but there was no wind, only heavy rain which doesn't bother us at all when sailing. So we continued on our way to Grenada and after a very pleasant motor sail we dropped anchor off St George. We had passed Daniel at Mouliniere Point where their group was diving on the statues. We spent a few days outside St George before heading for True Blue Bay where we spent a night on a rolly anchorage. We walked around a bit and found a quiet little beach with a big thornless acacia growing in the sand casting a welcome shadow and providing seating for the hot people.
From True Blue Bay we moved on to Prickly Bay which is 'just around the corner' and anchored just off the beach at the head of the bay. There we get good internet signal!(So we can keep in contact with Samantha who is now in Nantucket - an island to the east of New York)(And my computer has crashed again so I at least still have the use of Daniels old computer in the meantime) During our time in Prickly Bay we had Daniel Kristen and Matt spend a few evenings playing dominoes, went out with them on their boat to look for the wreck of the Bianca C where all but Michelle and I went diving to a depth of 115 ft.. unfortunately the visibility was not good and they were unable to find the wreck. However they enjoyed the dive and I got to 'drive' the big boat and pick them up after the dive - the sea was quite rough that day and there was a current which moved the boat away from the dive site. On our way back to Prickly Bay we were entertained by a pod of at least 50 dolphins. Some swam beside us - younger ones with light pink bellies and in front of us, larger ones that jumped out the water and played in the wakes formed by the hulls. One even came out the water in front of us and did a corkscrew performance before slipping back into the water. Others did somersaults....and to make it even better they stayed with us for more than an hour...what a blessing to be able to enjoy the beauty of nature as we are able to. (Not to forget the hundreds of flambuoyant trees in full flower all over the islands). We attended church twice, went for a long walk from the chandlery almost back to St George exploring what was available in the area, had Joe and Mercia and their guests over for dinner and did a lot of sewing.
Al replaced the accelerator cable and caught some fish for us, and does the usual exercise of scrubbing the bottom of the boat...making friends with all the little fish that come to eat what he has scraped off!
On Friday afternoon with Glenda and Aaron Marshall and Marilyn on board we sailed in rather rough water around to St George where we are now anchored. They had dinner with us then we took them back to shore at the yacht club where someone had left their car for them.
Yesterday we enjoyed church again, singing our lungs out and being spiritually fed, then fed lovely local food and fresh fruit juice after church with the rest of the congregation.
We are anchored in front of a cliff that has vegetation hanging over the top and this morning we heard a wave break there, and thought it might be the northerly swells causing that unusual occurence but the swells are not that big, anyway. A few minutes ago Michelle called us to have a look.... there was a major landslide and a huge chunk of the top of the cliff had slid down into the sea!
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