Bodrum to Airlie Beach

30 November 2010
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10 August 2010
02 June 2010
08 May 2010
24 March 2010
09 March 2010
17 February 2010
17 February 2010
17 February 2010

Antigua to St Lucia via points north

24 February 2010
Log reading 11,876 nautical miles
Lime kiln for building Brimstone Hill Fort

We left Antigua and overnighted at Pinney's Beach on Nevis. It didn't look very inviting so we set off for St Kitts and sheltered from the strong winds in Port Zante's marina at Basseterre. We learned on the radio that a big cruise ship had been damaged at its mooring.

Bussing around the island, we took time to see Fort George and the Brimstone Hill Fortress. When I asked about this from the tourist office they tried to dissuade me from taking the local bus "which was for locals". The local busses are a great way to mingle and we recommend them, even though there is no leg room.

We walked up to the fort and on the walk down saw green vevert monkeys. There was a big limestone kiln hidden in the rain forest and was in good shape after two hundred years of neglect. Nearby were unusual trees, some with very sharp spikes on their trunks. These things the cruise tourist misses. Many towns welcome the big influx of tourists and if you are white they assume you are off a cruise ship. I was even asked by a police officer if I was lost because he knew the ship was leaving soon.

Travelling back by bus, we passed a big medical school and chatted to a student from the US who explained that students came from around the world to save on fees.

The town has some interesting historic buildings and that night we saw a Caribbean street party. A good band and some rollerblade performers hanging off the back of passing cars added to the entertainment.

Oranjestad on Statia was our next stop. Not a lot here so the next day saw us at Ladder Bay on Saba. A dingy is required to enter the small harbour in the south. Alternatively there are the old stone steps (the ladder) and a very steep road further along but strong winds prevented us from going ashore. We did manage to do some snorkelling the following morning.

A small part of the bow of the boat had its gelcoat rubbed off by the big lines on the large mooring buoys. When the wind stops the boat is likely to drift over the lines and the buoy taps against the hull, keeping crew awake. These are not pick up buoys and are too big to get on deck. These buoys slide down the heavy warp but elsewhere many have big shackles to damage the boat if you try to string them up under the anchor and take the load.

From this wild island it was on to the bright lights and duty free island of St Martin with its French and Dutch halves. Having been told that this would be good fun, we were disappointed. There was a good local restaurant on the French side. By local I mean forget the menu, you get what they have and can wait two hours before it arrives. At around 10.30pm they start pulling down shutters, oh it's OK for you to stay a while in the bar but be gone by around 11.00pm. After this time motor bike gangs sometimes roar through the streets with guns and knives. We heard the bikes late at night from the boat but never saw them. There are some things you don't hang around to check out.

Piracy and murder sound fun in a movie but here it's for real. Not long before we arrived in Marigot Bay, St Martin, a nearby boat was boarded by armed "tiefs". Even back in Antigua we learned that a woman had been shot dead on the beach the day before. Local radio nets have a section for reporting robberies. The official advice "do not resist and let them take whatever they want" gives them the expectation that it's OK. The authorities seem powerless to do anything. Many yachties don't report it because of the futility of all that paperwork. Get a gun you might think but it's a major hassle with customs (if you declare it, you may not get it back) and revealing it to uninvited boats could cost you your life. How about a popup remote controlled heat-seeking rocket launcher, now that would be nice.

Bussing over to the Dutch side (Sint Maarten) confirmed that this island, with its lagoon, is a yacht haven and with it the usual eateries and tourist shops.

A trivia spot if I may. Many islands in the Caribbean and the Med have their own unique flag. Every island in the Caribbean Dutch Antilles has its own flag and there is also the Dutch Antilles flag itself. What courtesy flag do you fly? Answer: the Netherlands (European) flag but chandleries will try to hoodwink you into buying the others. Anyway, the authorities probably don't care if you fly the wrong one.

A stiff sail over to Port Gustavia on St Barts. Very quaint and popular with the big spenders. We anchored outside in the swell and still had to pay harbour dues. The French islands use a computer clearing system. You type in what you like, they don't check it. However it becomes a bit tedious having to re-enter everything, every time and the Caribbean islands can't agree on a simple common registration process.

We had seen many turtles but now we saw dolphins around the boat and humpback whales not too far away.

From there we sailed to Deep Bay on Antiqua and anchored at night. Only one other boat which quickly put on its anchor light as we approached. A very pretty bay greeted us in the morning. Heather 2 swam over to the wreck close to us and was concerned about the enormous fish swimming beneath her.

Another long trip and a night approach to our anchor spot at Deshaies on Guadeloupe. Having been here before makes a big difference but, for the last fortnight, we had been sailing with our backup computer chart plotter which is down in the cabin. The Raymarine parts awaited us in St Lucia. No rude Frenchmen this time but we exchanged notes with a friend on another boat that we knew from Las Palmas. We have seen so many boats repeatedly on our route but that's hardly surprising. It's good fun looking around when you arrive or see others coming into an anchorage.

Much nicer is Bourg de Saintes on an island below Guadeloupe. The French know how to create a little bit of Europe with a Caribbean flavour. After the longer than expected motoring on an earlier stretch I decided to get a 20 litre plastic jerry can filled. Now I often make jokes about the French being a little illogical and here's an example. Where is the fuel? After asking several people, I managed to find a very helpful man who offered to walk me all the way there. Off we went down the road, which became a walking track eventually leading to a goat track, with real goats on it. Finally the fuel depot. There was no way anyone could lug a 20 litre jerry can back up that track and over the hill. The fuel station was served only from the water. If you wanted petrol or diesel you had to get in your small boat and motor around the headland to this isolated spot. When they saw "Fandango Australia" on the jerry can, I soon had a small group around me asking about the trip. Everyone was so helpful and a lift back in one of the boats was easily arranged. On my return, I offered some money for the driver to buy a few beers but he refused and insisted that it was his pleasure. Merci beaucoup became a genuine response to these lovely smiling people.

Back to the Caribbean proper and a mooring on the steep-to area at Roseau on Dominica. There is more sulphur in the air from the restless vents than before. Will we get dumped on again like Montserrat? It's too deep or there's no room. Giving up, we wave to the boat boy who is watching and waiting patiently. His and another's long high-powered wooden boat surge into action and are soon beside us. "Hello, we come back again to your lovely island, do we get a discount?" "Oh yes my friend, I give you a discount on the tip". We laugh and I ask the boat boy about his boss' injured leg, which I was shown on the last visit. It was the last mooring available and we were close to a cruise ship. We watched it go and another come.

St Pierre was also worth a return visit and was conveniently placed en route. Have a drink and clear in and out at the same time. Very civilised. Nothing is checked and a rubber stamp makes our customs and immigration complete by the hand of the lass behind the bar.

Back to bureaucracy at Rodney Bay marina on St Lucia. On the never ending repair front, I have to remove the Raymarine chart plotter and take it round to the workshop because they are too busy. The repaired satellite phone is delivered as I am checking into the marina. Just as well because the new sat phone seems to have a faulty on/off button. Trevor is back from the UK with some bits for Fandango. A shade awning is made to help the Brits cope with the sun. Still much to do including washing the boat when we find out that there is no water available on the pontoons. The drought is normal but more severe this year we are told. The toilets and showers close, time to go down the coast and head south.
Vessel Name: Fandango
Vessel Make/Model: Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 39i (LOA 11.86m)
Hailing Port: Airlie Beach, Whitsundays (Registered Melbourne, Australia)
Crew: Andrew
About: See "Meet the Crew" in the Blog Locker
Extra: We like our grog but don't smoke.


Who: Andrew
Port: Airlie Beach, Whitsundays (Registered Melbourne, Australia)
There are more albums under Photo Gallery.Thank you to those who contributed photos.It was very hard deciding which ones of so many to show because of limited space available.