Winter on a warm island.
01 March 2018 | Martinique.
Wow! That was the beginning of December. Last year. How time flys when you are having fun.
So I stayed in Le Marin for about two weeks. It's one of the largest sailing ports out here in the Eastern Caribbean. The charter fleet is huge and caters to all services that a cruiser might require.
I wrote to the suppliers about my Acco anchor chain having a metallurgic collapse. The suppliers were not interested so I moved on. The French islands are metric and I have an American boat. BUT the 5/16ths BBB windlass gypsy fits the 8mm chain perfectly here. So all went well with that. I was also up for a new dinghy. I can hear cheering in the background. So while lightening the wallet, add one aluminum bottomed dinghy. Smooth! Oh, and throw in a new stove while the card is being brandished about.
Well, I still have one kidney left after paying for that lot. Magnus, Liv and Silke helped me replacing the chain and getting the stove aboard.
So now I can bake and roast again. Great! Not so fast. The oven uses propane and there is none in the French islands. They use butane. After filling up in St. Lucia I used up my first bottle mid December. End of baking.
By mid December, or so, we, Ocean Maiden, Nanny and myself were anchored in Grande Anse d'Arlet, Martinique. It's a beautifully bay with palms, small bars and restaurants along the shoreline and a resident turtle population of about 150. The water is usually crystal clear and the snorkeling is great. Needless to say, I spent over two months there. Happy. During that time, we had a great Christmas Eve aboard Nanny and they treated us to a Swedish Christmas feast. All the traditional dishes were great. And Liv is a very good cook.
Then New Year's Eve and Magnus' 50th birthday collided. A crowd of their friends flew out from Sweden and rented holiday houses around the bay. Needless to say, parties happened and with a really nice crowd.
After Nannys friends left, we had a couple of days together and then they headed north on the way home, via Bahamas, Cuba, USA, Greenland etc. these Nordic folk are tough.
I'm now back in Le Marin after having beaten myself up motor sailing east back around Diamond rock up to here. I've been here for a week and have added a butane system to the boat so that I can now buy cooking gas here too! Oh joy!
What small pleasures mean to me out here.
North for Christmas.
04 December 2017
While I was in the mangroves, I changed engine oil and filter. Raycor filter too. I also recalibrated my main depth sounder. I have two. The new one that's part of my chart plotter and an older one that was aboard when I bought the boat. The new one is so easy to do but the older one? I'll find a more intelligent being around and ask for help. There are loads of them.
Why I checked the calibration was that a couple of trips back, into the mangroves, I touched bottom on the bend trying to get down into the lower lake areas. On the way out yesterday, I saw that I had a foot, or 30cm under my keel. Plenty water.
I waited a day or two for the westerlies to pass over. Being south of these hurricanes, we get westerly winds as they pass and boy do they churn the west facing bays up?
Things got back to normal after I came out into the bay. Gathering the occasional lobster, Lambi etc. all good fun. Before I knew it, the hurricane season was over and time to head back north. In the company of Liv and Magnus on Nanny, from Sweden, I cleared out of Carriacou and anchored for the night at Sandy Island, of Hillsborough. Great snorkeling there. The following day we sailed up to Chatham Bay, on Union Island. We sailed using only the Genoa and it was great. Again, very good snorkeling. Loads of lobsters. Sadly I broke my lobster hook there and I had no spare. That evening I made 3 new ones!
From there it was up to Bequia and we anchored off Jacks Bar, Princess Margret beach. We caught up with a lot of boats we know and had many good BBQs and parties on the beach.
Nanny sailed straight up to Martinique on Monday 27 November. I was going to leave later in the week but after looking at the weather for the following week, I, in the company of Out of Africa and Endorfin 2, left at midday on Wednesday 29. November for Cumberland Bay, SVG. We tied up stern to, to the palm trees and spent the evening there. Very pretty bay. The following morning we motor sailed up the lee of SVG, then sailed across the channel to St. Lucia. When we arrived at the southern end of the island, the rain pelted down, with no wind and zero viz. very wet and cold. This stayed with us all the way up to Rodney Bay, where we dropped anchor, just on dark.
We went ashore as I needed to fill propane tanks. None in the French islands. They use butane.
Saturday morning I was up at 6 and sailed at 7. Had a great sail across to Le Marin, Martinique. Dolphins followed me too! Sunday I took it easy and now, Monday, I'll head ashore in my dinghy check in and start with a little shopping. I also have to replace my anchor chain and stove. So time to get the bargaining skills on!
A summer of hurricanes.
21 September 2017 | Tyrell Bay. Mangroves.
It's Monday afternoon and most of the work is done to prepare Golightly for the wind that's starting to hit. I've secured the solar panels, secure the roller furling staysail and jib. I've added a second snubber onto the anchor chain in case the main one parts. I've lashed the main sail cover on, removed the cockpit cushions and done a few other things too. I still have to raise the dinghy and connect that heavy line to the mooring block I've found. I might get a secondary anchor ready but with the mooring block I should be fine.
The tropical storm passed and Golightly and I survived. The wind didn't get up much higher than around 45 kts. I woke at 01:00, the height of it, and watch a bit. All was good. Back to bed.
Fortunately the storm petered out and didn't form into a cyclone. If it had done, we could have possible had heavy seas from the west and had no protection. Bequia would not have been a good place to be.
The following day I upped anchor and went back across to Princess Margaret beach. Calm and pretty there. A few days later I had a great sail down to Tyrell Bay, Carriacou.
Once again, a delinquent blogger gets off his arse. English spelling. Not off my donkey!
I had a great sail down to Tyrell Bay, Carriacou. I always seem to have a great sail over this stretch. And the gap between Union Island, SVG and Carriacou is the best. I end up sailing at about 7.5 kts, upright! Cool sail. And it's only 35 miles or so. I'm up at 5am , hit the road at 6 and am anchored by midday! Cool. So I'm now back in my summer homeland. But there is a white boat missing next to me?? Miss you two.
So far.. Just after I got here, TS Don wanted to come and breathe on us. Nor for me or my home. So into the mangroves we went.
While proceeding into the mangroves ahead of TS Don, the head of the throttle cable broke off. Yea. Kinda inconvenient menouvering around all the other boats on ther but I still had direction
All the way down. Prepped the boat big time. Look what Harvey has done! I tied into the mangroves with the help of friends Silke and Kai on Silence. I went bow into the mangroves, hard. Tied in and all was good. It became a non event. I'm happy with that score.
While motoring into the mangroves, the throttle cable head broke off of the control. Not so much fun. I managed to get in and out by idling around.
Paul, from Budget Marine, imported a new kit for me. I've fitted it and it's much smoother than before. When buying, it was us$27 plus 10 to ship to Miami.
When landed here in Carriacou, it cost ec$200, about us$75. I'm happy with that as it was flown to Grenada, handled there by an agent, walked through customs, duty paid, then delivered to the Osprey, a high speed catamaran and delivered to Carriacou. Paul went to pick it up and his end was only EC $20. I'm VERY impressed with his service. Good guy to know. Gus helped me with the disconnecting and reconnecting of the cables. A good friend. Cheers Mon! And Bob on Moonrebel was a great help too.
It's great to have good friends around. Or good to have great friends around?
Came back out into the bay. All good. Two weeks later, of doing not too much, another ball buster comes along. But we could see that it was going to pass north of us. But it was going to throw back a westerly swell. Very very bad here on a leeward shore. So I hit the mangrove Marina once again!
It was a fun evening. We listened to friends battling out in the bay. It was calm as in the mangroves. I'd do it again. Anytime.
So now it's September 21. And I'm back in the mangroves. I came in on Sunday and it's now Thursday and I might be out tomorrow or Friday. The southerly swell has picked up again a I believe is making the bay quite roly.
In the passed couple of weeks, there have been two major hurricanes pass up north of me. The first, Irma, absolutely destroyed the islands on Barbuda, St. Bart's, St. Maarten, the BVIs and the Usvi's.
And on her tail rode Maria, trashing Dominica, Puerto Rico and who knows where else.
My thoughts and best wishes go out to all those effected.
These hurricanes effect different areas I n different ways. With me being down in Carriacou, Tyrell Bay, the wind and swells change. Sometimes increasing in size and strength, but always in direction. Here in the Eastern Caribbean the prevailing winds are the easterly Trade winds. So we all anchor on the west side for protection from wind and sea. When a hurricane passes north of me, the winds are rotating in a counterclockwise direction. So the winds shift, or backs, from east, into the north, then they come out of the west, which pushes the sea state up and turns the boats and now we are anchored on a lee shore. A very dangerous position to be in. The winds make there way into the south and back into the east again. This usually takes a few days and can be up to a week.
This current one looks to be closer to a week.
I've been doing a couple of small bits and pieces on the boat but mainly relaxing and reading, which I've mastered.
A long time between drinks.
18 June 2017 | Bequia
About to go t\ts up!
You're not going to believe this! Yea, you might.
I'm still in Martinique!Same anchorage, I've moved a quarter mile twice. Yip! Lazy as...man! This island is really cool. I'll try to post a pic of where I am. Le Marin is the hub of the charter world out here in the east. Everything is here. Very professional services etc. Great grocery shopping too. I'm sure the food is subsidized as it's very affordable. Today I saw oranges in the supermarket. Product of South Africa. Pride! They were oranges like I'd never seen in SA. Not a blemish. Nothing! I had to buy a couple,what with scurvy and the like, lurking. Let's see what they taste like. I'll dig the shopping slip out of the garbage so that my citrus farming friends know what their product is achieving!
I think that it was €1.98 kg. The local oranges are about €2.50 or so.
Any who! Then it's a half mile motor to St. Anne's Bay. With a great beach, crystal clear water, free wifi from Club Med etc. all good. And it's a very quaint town too. I've just discovered rye baguettes! Damn! Gonna buy more butter!
Ok! I have finally upped anchor. Not easy. Leaving Diamond Rock to port, I went around to Anse D'Arlets. Very pretty. Then a day or so later to Grande Anse.
A while later I'm still here in Martinique. I'm now in Trois Islets. A friend of mine, who had boulangeries in Paris, is here and opening great stores. For those of you who know me, my kind of game. Also said good bye to a friend of a friend who flew out from Germany to sail with her. Going to miss you!
I'm now running low on water. I carry 380 liters below and another 125 liters in jugs on deck. It's been about a month since I filled up. I looked at the chart of the area and saw that there is a small Marina at Pionte de Bout.
We sailed from Trois Islets and I went into the marina not knowing what to expect. It is like out of a post card. Really cool little place. Great staff, well protected, water was €2 per 100l. And it's on the back of Anse Mitan with a boulangerie and supermarket! All the important things. I think that this place was big with the yachting scene before Le Marin was developed.
A highly recommended stop.
I didn't enjoy Trois Islets this time as it was windy and the anchorage is very exposed with a long fetch. So I'm very happily anchored in Grande Anse once again. Back with the turtles, crystal clear water and hopefully quiet nights.
A few weeks have passed, and I'm still enjoying Grande Anse. A few days ago we had a westerly wind and it pushed the seas up here in the bay. I was anchored fairly close to a local fishing skiff and was in danger of wrapping my anchor chain around its mooring. I had to up anchor in the choppy seas and reanchor further out. By the time I'd done that, another sailboat anchor near where I was, had gone aground. It was very sad to see. Over the last two days, they've been trying to pump her out and patch the holes up to refloat her. It was a hairy afternoon and night. I think that the destruction would have been far worst had that squall come in the night. Various boats were dragging anchor too.
Two days ago, an old friend of mine, from school, and his wife, arrived in the bay. It was great to catch up with Neil and Gillian Anderson, on Silver Lining, after about 30 years. They've sailed from the UK, across the Atlantic and are now off to Panama and then the Pacific, to New Zealand. A brave pair! They sailed north this morning, making for Guadeloupe, where they will provision and head for Panama. We had a great evening aboard their boat catching up with lots of old stories.
New update! Wow! Not much has happened though.
It's now a month later and I've just returned from Rodney Bay, St. Lucia. I had to do a quick run down to fill up with propane for the stove. Here in the French islands, they use butane. So I motor sailed down with the wind on the nose but had a great sail back. Now it's time to get a couple of little repairs done aboard, provisioning, read shopping, and it will be time to head south for the summer again. This year has really gone by fast.
The best plans are written in the sand at low tide.
I'm now in Bequia, SVG, on my way to Tyrell Bay, Carriacou to catch up with very good friends of mine, Ron and Jackie, on Desperado. I haven't seen them for almost two years so it's time. I should be there tomorrow. I've day sailed down from St. Anne's, Martinique, sleeping in Marigot, St. Lucia and now Bequia. On the way north I did it in one hit, overnight, with Anna as crew.
On the way to St. Lucia I came across a pod of pilot whales. I don't remember seeing them before. Like huge slim Dolphins. Then today, off the NW corner of St Vincent, I saw the largest shark I've seen for a long time. He was just tooling along the surface and not worried by the boat. He must have been 12-15 feet, as he was a lot longer than my cockpit. I was right next to him. A dark brown color.
And now I'm back in Bequia, after having spent 2 weeks in Carriacou with Desperado. We had a great time together catching up, drinking too much rum, a couple of late night swims etc. I left Tyrell Bay on a Tuesday morning and arrived in Bequia that afternoon. I dropped anchor, made tidy etc. and went down for a shower. The water pressure pump was running but not pumping water. Stripped it down, checked it out, put back together. Nothing. Airlock? So I disconnected the water pipe at the top of the tank and poured water down it to prime. Nothing. I then contacted a local engineer, Kerry, and he came aboard and showed me how to prime it properly. I still haven't figured out how it lot prime??
A week later I notice that the temperature gauge on my main engine is not working. So out with the sensor and gauge and both are knackered! Can you believe that?
So I'm waiting for a friend to bring me the new ones from Martinique.
I'm here with friends on Windkat, JK and Nelia, from South Africa. So I decided to go no further. Loads of friends have come through Bequia while I've been here. I've met lots of new folk too. Niven, Hizle, Ferdie, Darelle to name just a few. We've had lots of beach braais, BBQs, happy hour parties etc.
As I write the last bit of this blog, I'm preparing Golightly to face a potential hurricane. We've all been watching the weather reports, grib files etc, following the tropical waves coming across the Atlantic. The forecaster that have been predicting the path of this animal have been all over the shop. From Trinidad to as far north as the St. Lucia-St. Vincent channel. We are hoping that it doesn't develop into a hurricane. And stays as a tropical storm. So tomorrow will be a day spent prepping the boat. Securing everything! Solar panels, dinghy, sails, covers, secondary anchor to be made ready and the like.
While snorkeling to check on my anchor while re anchoring this afternoon, I came across an unused huge mooring block lying on the sea bed. Tomorrow morning I'll put a heavy line to that as back up.
So that's it for now. And I'll post again after the front passes
New Year 2017
06 January 2017 | Le Marin.
How time flys when you are having fun! Or just goofing off.
Arrived in St. Anne's, Martinique on about the 18th of November. It was great to be there. It's a very pretty French style seaside village. There are a couple of supermarkets, a fresh market and a boulangerie or two in the mix. It's so good that there is a lady who putts around in her dinghy in the morning selling baguettes and croissants! What more could I want?
After about two weeks there, a horrible westerly squall blew through and made for a very uncomfortable night with us all being anchored on a lee shore. The winds were around the 35 knot mark, which may not seem that much. But the problem is the lee shore. As well as being attached to the sea floor, anchored, in 12' of water and the waves rolling in at about 6-8' from trough to peak. The boats were like bucking broncos, all over the place. One dragged anchor and ended up on the reef. Not fun. The following day was very uncomfortable with the direction of the swell so I upped anchor and came into Le Marin. It is a very protected bay surrounded mainly by mangroves.
Here I've had the thermostat replaced in my fridge as it had packed up as I was leaving Trinidad. The level of expertise here is very good. Real service.
I had been invited to join up with 4 other boats for The 3 Days of Christmas. The boats were Seamanther, Silken sea, Lovezur, Partners and myself.
Christmas Eve was drinks and snacks aboard Partners. A great evening it was. Lots of laughs, a great Secret Santa and food to die for.
Christmas Day was aboard Seamanther. We all contributed in some form or another and the food was some of the best I've had in the Caribbean. Ham, turkey and so many sides. Then followed the desserts. Phew! It did me in. The food was traditional English and traditional Martinique style which was very good.
Boxing Day Brunch. Richard, from Partners, cooked us all an English breakfast and so it continued.
What a great Christmas it was!
New Years Eve is always a quiet affair for me and I was invited to enjoy a delicious dinner aboard Partners.
So now it's nearly time to continue the northward trek up to Antigua.
Happy New Year to you all out there.
Martinique for Christmas.
19 November 2016
I've now been in Trinidad for over two months! How time flys? A tropical storm came our way but veered north as it approached Trinidad. I had made a provisional book to have my boat tied down in the boat yard but fortunately didn't need that service.
I've managed to get a lot of the general maintenance done here. Being alongside a dock, I have access to shore power. This means that I can run my air conditioner 24/7 if I like. It works really well and as we are close to the equator, and with no wind in the harbor, it's hot! Very hot and humid. The interior of my boat is all solid oiled teak. So that needed a clean and light oiling. I've serviced the main engine. Cleaned and cleaned below. I've sanded and varnished the cockpit combings, cockpit table, hatch boards and eye brows. All teak. I've compounded and polished the top deck gelcoat and cockpit. I've serviced the bilge pump and replaced a couple of pipes in the boat. I've also sanded and varnished the cabin sole.
I've been into the capital, Port of Spain here quite a few times. I've got myself a new Australian passport, as there is a consulate here, and a B1/B2 10 year multiple entry visa for the USA. So now I'll be able to sail into USA waters and not be fined, for a change. I've been fortunate enough to have hired cars with cruising friends here and toured quite a bit of the island. This is the biggest island in the Eastern Caribbean with a larger population than all the other islands put together. I've enjoyed the Indian cuisine. It has morphed a bit but the flavors are great.
And then it was time to start my northbound winter migration again. Winter is the best time to be up in the Leeward Islands as the threat of hurricanes is just about nonexistent. I, in the company of Richard and Lavinia on Partners, left Chaguaramas around midday, motored through the Bocas, between Venezuela and Trinidad, and altered course NNE. Around the oil platforms and straight shot to Carriacou. And there wasn't a breath of wind! I had to motor the whole way. Bummer! With the main sail up and the wind not bracing the boat, she rolls in the swells, causing the sail to slap from side to side. It's no fun listening to your equipment destroying itself. So I lowered the main and held on tight as I rock and rolled my way up to Tyrell Bay, Carriacou. Not a comfortable passage I tell ya!
I anchored in Tyrell, where I always do, close to the beach. It was great to be back in clean water again. I hadn't been able to swim in the sea for two months as Chaguaramas is a commercial port and the water is filthy. It was fun to catch up with friends there, going to Miss Luckys chicken shack, Tante Mavis' for BBQ and the like. It was also a sad time as health has failed a few friends there.
A day or two before leaving to sail up to St. Anne's, overnight, a lovely lady from Slovakia, Anna, asked if she could get a ride up to Martinique as she's headed to Antigua. So I had great company on the passage up. Another passage with very little wind and we motored all the way up.
It's good to be back in the French islands again. Cheese, wine and baguettes!
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