09 September 2018 | Home
Ok, Ok we heard and listened from our family, friends and fellow yachties. the blog is officially back on line. the advanced (?) package should deliver better tracking and allow more photos and longer posts.
We Leave on Saturday, October 27th at 06:30 and should be opening up Pisces by 13:00hrs in +30C temperatures. We have rented an apartment on site for the first couple of days to help us acclimatize. its 10C as I write this blog. Pisces is being launched on Nov 3rd and if everything is completed by the contractor as planned it means we should be on our way a couple of days later. Cross your fingers for us.
Now remember all plans for the coming winter are written in sand at low tide, so don't be disappointed if things change mid sail or even after a blog as been posted.
We have joined the Suzy Too Rally and have to be in Curacao by the last week of November. Curacao is the middle island of the Dutch Antilles better known as the ABC's (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) which lay 100 miles +/- off Venezuela. Piracy is not an issue.
This doesn't leave us much time after launch to provision and get Pisces ready. Thankfully Curacao is a Dutch island with good provisioning and chandleries so what is not available in Grenada we should (?) be able to obtain there. Then its off to Aruba, Columbia, the San Blas Islands off Panama, back to Columbia then the out islands of Nicaragua, Honduras and Belize. Really not sure yet where Pisces will be stored for the summer of 2019 but there is lots of time to settle that matter.
The next blog will be from Grenada, patience everyone.
24 April 2017
Its been sometime since our last post and although there are some holes which will be filled in later, we just wanted everyone to know that Pisces is now on the hard. We have her store for the summer at Clarks Court Marina on the south coast of Grenada.
We arrived in Grenada on the Easter weekend and boy is it hot here. Flying out on Sunday, April 30th to Jacksonville to pick up the car then start the drive home. We should be back in Midland by May 4th.
In some ways it hard to digest the fact we actually accomplish our goal of sailing to Grenada. Pisces deserves most of the credit as she took everything placed before her and asked of her.
It will be great to see everyone back home and catch up on 7 months of news and personal progress. Can't wait. Ken and Grace
St Christopher (St Kitts) and Nevis
31 March 2017
Wow, what a ride. Twenty knots on the beam for 30 miles. At times Pisces was cruising at a speed of 8.5 knots SOG. Passed St Eustatius on starboard beam with an spectacular view of The Quill, an extinct volcano, rising 640 meters out of the sea. On the port side, we had St Kitts with Mt Misery (no I am not kidding) rising 1240 meters. Both have a collapsed crater, leaving ragged edges pointing to the heavens. We thought that once we were on the lee of St Kitts that the winds would calm down. What we didn’t know was that we were on the lee. What a surprise once we cleared the dead zone. Lying in irons with a flat sea and yet not 1000 feet ahead there are large white caps. Furl the jib, turn on the motor and head into winds on the nose of 25 knots. This made the last 10 miles to Basseterre a some what bumpy and slow leg.
We drop anchor in Basseterre harbour and proceed to customs. St Kitts needs to discuss clearance for cruisers with France. Two hours and three locations and individuals all requesting the same information and we are legal. Its now dark and we are not willing to explore unknown anchorages in the dark so here we stay. Rolling all night to the point of being tossed out of our berth. At 06:00 we decide enough is enough and we fall into the dingy and proceed to locate a local breakfast establishment. Things are looking up, a local directs us to a coffee shop in the downtown core and we enjoy a large cup of java, make that two.
On our return to the harbour we hunt down the harbour master requesting a slip for the night. No luck, all slips are taken for fishing boats and sailboats catering to the large cruise ships of which there are two tied to the dock. Not wanting to experience another day of four foot rollers we locate a bay some five miles east of Basseterre which appears to provide the necessary protection.
Ballast Bay was flat calm and once anchored we both slept for a couple of hours. Once we recovered from the lack of sleep the previous night it was time to explore our new surroundings. There is a large marina under construction and already there are mega yachts lying at their berths. We discover that this is only the beginning of a massive development call Salt Pond Estates which encompasses some 2000 acres. Essentially the total eastern tip of St. Kitts. I hope the locals know what is coming down the track in later years.
After a good rest its off to Nevis, which is still part of the country of St Christopher but don’t tell them.
Once again its into customs and the same three departments of government. At least each office is right next to the other. In and out in less than a half hour. Mooring balls are provided and are mandatory. You can anchor but only if the mooring balls are full. As there is no guarantee that the moorings are maintained its a good thing that we have to anchor. Of course there is an extra fee for anchoring as we are damaging the environment. Where is the incentive to increase the number of mooring balls?
We are anchored in front of Charlestown at the base of Nevis Peak a dormant volcano which Christopher Columbus, remember your history, named “Our Lady of the Snows” as the peak was perpetually covered with cloud. This a wonderful old town which has maintained its historical buildings and life. Their origins were from the slave trade and everywhere you turn there is a plaque describing some component of this nasty business. Alexander Hamilton, the face on the American $10 bill had a strong connection to the island and is honoured everywhere.
We learn that the gas vents from the volcano are still active and the golf course has to use artificial grass in places. The island has a population of 11,000 +/- inhabitants and 20,000+ monkeys. So who is really running the island??
We have a haul out date of April 26 in Grenada so we are moving on to Montserrat.
The photo is of Nevis as we approached from the west. Nevis Peak is still cover in cloud.
St Martin, St Maarten and St Barth
31 March 2017
We anchored in Marigot Bay on the French side and were able to dingy through the lagoon to the Dutch side with no border guards, customs, immigration or port authority in sight. What a novel concept, maybe “The Donald” could be given a tour and implement the same between Canada and the USA. I know keep dreaming, Ken.
The Martins are a sailors candy store, you name the item or the repair its here and duty free. The two main chandleries are Budget Marine and Island Water World. If one doesn’t have what ever you are looking for there is more than a good chance the other does.
The Dutch side appears to be more developed with both the international airport and the main cargo port on its side of the island.
As mentioned in a previous blog report wine, cheese and baguettes have good price points. The shocker was laundry, $25 CDN to wash and dry.
St Martin has some of the qualities of Georgetown, Bahamas, Some individuals arrive and never leave. We met several ex-pats who are now part of the economy and will not be leaving soon. Mornings start with a cup of java and the cruisers net, much the same format as Georgetown. What we did notice is that the community feel was missing. Cruisers offered their skill sets for a price apposed to helping a fellow cruiser. Maybe its because of the constant turn over of boats.
Loogonies and the St Maarten Yacht Club are the two main meeting places for everyone connected to sailing and happy hours you will have flags from every part of the globe present. The yacht club has an extensive youth sailing school which operates all year. Their marketing slogan is “Purchase a T-shirt and provide a sailing lesson”.
The number of boats in the bay have doubled and its time to move onto St Barth’s. After filling up both the water and fuel tanks we’re off.
After a short 15 mile motor sail we catch a mooring ball in Gustavia harbour. Even though St Barths is a French island we are required to clear in once again. The port authority here charges for anchoring or a mooring ball only we are advised that all the mooring balls are private. We are moored to private property! Do we risk the return of the owner or move on. Its turning dark so we flip the coin and we stay, for two nights. We still had to pay.
One of the highlights of this adventure occurs here. We have arrived just after the completion of one of the mega yacht regattas and there are over a dozen sailboats over the 150’ mark. Each a work of art. One of which we passed as we entered the harbour was the Maltese Falcon, a three masted yacht which I have seen photos and read articles on but never in my dreams did I think I would actually get to see. Please Google her you won’t be disappointed. Sorry Gord there is not a wooden block or hemp line to be found on her. To trim the sails they rotate the masts!!!.
As for Gustavia lets just say its way over our budget. Rolex, Cartier, designer fashions and hand made shoes are in abundant supply for those 1% er’s amongst us.
St Barth was at one time part of Sweden and both the old Swedish and French forts are still present along with both governors homes which have been kept in remarkably good shape.
The winds are right for St Kitts so off the mooring ball, thanks to its owner, on onward to the next country.
The photo shows only a small amount of the sailboats in Marigot Bay.
Sombrero Passage AKA the Anegada Passage
13 March 2017
Weather wise it was a good night to cross to St Martin. Full moon, winds maxed out at 20 knots and the wave heights were no greater than 5’. However the winds and waves were on the nose and I lost track of the number of tacks. Arrived in St Martin Sunday morning tired and sore. My shoulders sure got a good work out. Our third crew, Auto, preformed magnificently holding a course while I could trim. So looking back it was a great crossing Grace, Pisces and I arrived undamaged just worn out.
Anchored on the French side of the island along with approximately 50 other boats. We are in the bay and there are over 100 boats in the lagoon. I have a new method of determining how large a sailboat is. My former method of length or the number of spreaders is out the window. Now its determined if there is an aviation light (red) atop the mast. Some of yachts we saw in Peter Island and here are truly works of art.
Clearing in with customs is so enlightened here. You present yourself to the first marina, ask the clerk for the customs computer terminal, type in the necessary information from your passport and vessel registration, press enter and print and then wait. He/She will validate the data and voila your legal. The cost, a donation for a new search and rescue boat.
There is a cruisers net at 07:30 each day where all the information concerning life on the island is provided by fellow cruisers. So now its off to find “Chippy”, a telephone sim card that allows unlimited data for a $1 a day, (take note Bell and Rogers). Also on the agenda is to located some fine French wine and some tasty cheese.
We did find the the wine, $6/bottle and the cheese, $3 and we could not pass up a fresh baked baguette. This after a lunch of pan fried crocodile and scallops in a white wine cream sauce. Calories?? What calories??
The bakeries open at 05:30 each morning with hot espresso coffee and fresh from the oven baguettes and croissants. I just don’t know if I can get up that early. Life is full of struggles.
We were able to visit with Tony and Deb from Exit Stage Left, who we met in Annapolis and again in Black Point, Bahamas last year. They have been following the Adventure on Facebook so it was liking finding long lost family.
Sorry, no photos this post.
Ken and Grace
Peter Island and Road Town
10 March 2017
Ten miles south of Jost Van Dyke after motoring down The Narrows and across Flanagan Passage we arrive in yet another White Bay. Motoring was required as the winds were still 20-25 knots from the east and Peter Island is east to south east for Jost Van Dyke. Peter Island is a privately owned island where villas go for $110K per week and a glass of wine starts at $15 per. However the owners permit cruisers to anchor and explore some of the island either snorkelling or hiking. We were able to anchor deep in within the bay in deep water, 30’, out of the majority of wind and chop. My Cay, a monohull who we had sailed from the Bahamas to the Turks and Caicos joined us. After catching up on each others travels, it’s time for the Sunset Trial, a 5 mile loop, up and over the top and back. The trial was actually a well maintained paved and gravel road so the walking was easier. As for the views, at one point we could see, Cooper, Tortola, St John, St Thomas and Norman Islands. At the half way mark a row of colourful Muskoka chairs are lined up arm to arm to allow a rest stop and I can only imagine the sunsets here with a glass of champagne and hor’derves. That evening a fireworks display equal to those back home was provided, however its not a holiday and its the middle of the week which leaves the question of why. The next day after queries to the staff of the resort we are told that one of the quest was hosting a private gathering of 45 people and requested the display. Cost, if you have to ask you shouldn’t be here.
The short run to Road Town was done with only the jib flying and once again the winds are 20-25 knots out of the east. All our weather resources tell us that a major blow is coming and we take a slip at Village Cay Marina. All the necessities for cruising are within walking distance, including groceries and chandeliers. We have now been here a week during which the weather was upgraded to a tropical storm. At one point the winds were over 35 knots and the squalls just kept coming through every couple of hours. Mother Nature has bathed Pisces with a abundance of fresh water and I don’t think there is a grain of salt left on her.
This unplanned stoppage has allowed for some maintenance on Pisces. The starboard bow light has been acting up for sometime now. Sometimes its on and sometimes its off. Time to replace it? Hum maybe. Locating and purchasing a new build has not been an issue. However at $50 US plus 35% to convert to Canadian, I don’t think so. I discover that the lead contacts on the bulb have worn down and the bulb is moving in the housing. Time to McGiver a solution, build up the contacts with some soldier and presto problem solved and $50 still in my pocket. Now where is that wine store?
its Friday, March 10th and there is a short weather window to St Martin tomorrow. Winds are predicted to be from 60-90 degrees at 15-17 knots, with seas at 5’ at 8 sec intervals. We require a heading of 110-120 degrees to St Martin, so not quite on the nose. This is a 80 mile run on the rhum line, however with tacking that could increase to 100 easily.
We are ready. All tanks, water and diesel are full, cleared out of customs, course laid in and meals prepared. The account at the marina balanced. This could be a bumpy one and if we find it not as predicted then there is a good chance of returning to Road Town. The one good thing is this is the final east bound leg of this adventure, thank goodness.
Next stop, St Martin and southward