Finally an update
10 April 2016
April 9th, 2016
This is a special update for Maxwell. After more then one request, I am have finally done it.
We spent the better part of five weeks in the USVI''s between Charlotte Amalie, Honeymoon Bay and Brewers Bay. While in Charlotte Amalie we had the repair done to the mainsail which ended up not being that big a deal. We connected with one of the local sail repair places thanks to Dick on Cheetah II. He also hooked us up with a guy that sells anchor chain. After almost five years, the chain was in need of replacing. That was my Christmas present from Michael. Being in the USVI's is special to us as there are so many cruisers there that we had met over the seasons and it was really nice to see them again. After many happy hours with Morgan from Nirvana, trips around the island and happy hours at Room With a View it was time to get going again. The day before we planned to leave, Michael and Jane went lobstering in Elephant Bay which is where they are moored. As luck would have it, they were successful and snagged two lobsters...one of which they released and the other was to become a dinner. Jane steamed it for us and we took back. We would be having a lobster dinner in the next few days.
As it turns out Chris and Fran from Changes were again heading in the same direction as us yet again. They were in St. John and we met up with them at Watermelon Cay. We spent two days there and had a great sail up the tacking through the Sir Francis Drake Channel. The last two hours of the trip up to Virgin Gorda was a motor as we needed to get anchored behind the reef before sunset. At 3:30am we raised the main sail and hauled anchor.....next stop St. Maarten. What a great trip and arrived in Simpson Bay nose to nose with Changes.
So what do you do in St Maarten for five weeks while waiting for guests to arrive and a very special 70th birthday party. No problem as there are two marine stores, great grocery stores and many other things going on to entertain cruisers. We attended a beach party with Chris and Fran and had a great time there and met a bunch of people we had never met before. Tony and Liza from Inspiration had also just arrived. It's his birthday that we were going to celebrate later in the week. As this was the first time we had anchored on the Dutch side of St. Maarten we did not make as many trips to Shirmpy's but the time we spent with them was fun. Silly Sunday's are always fun with Mike. No holding back when he is involved.....too much food and laughter. Being anchored on the Dutch side allowed us easy access to many of the 5:00 o'clock bridges openings at the Yacht Club. It's a very popular place to watch the very large mega yachts inch their way through the narrow channel. We also had a great view right from our boat to watch the bridge openings during the day. At the beginning of this season it was Michaels mission to replace the ceiling panels in the main cabin. Check that box....it's now done and looks great. Nice white ceilings again. I made eye brows for the opening ports on the boat. Thanks to Cheryl on Gypsy Blues who has the same boat as us. She came up with a great pattern which I copied and now when it rains we do not have to close the ports anymore. We also made covers for coach roof hatches. It has helped to keep the boat a little colder inside and they also protect the plexiglass from the sun. So on now it was time to get the boat ready for our guests Tina and Steve to arrive and go sailing again. They flew in from Costa Rica on a one way flight as we did not know how far we were going to sail.
Day two of updating the blog.....Maxwell!
With the boat loaded up with food, wine and beer we were ready to head out again. The barnacles were all over the bottom of the boat and at some point they would need to be removed, but first we needed to get out of the lagoon and on our way. Once we were checked out and we timed the opening of the bridge we were on our way again. This time we would go as far south as the wind would allow us. We sailed overnight and got a far as Montserrat (about 100 nautical miles) before the wind died. At this point the decision was made to head for the Iles Des Saintes (50 miles further) which is a small group of French islands at the bottom of Guadeloupe. This was the first time we stopped here. We hiked up to Fort Napoleon an amazing restored historic site. At this point Steve and Tina were trying to figure out how to get back to Costa Rica. By the time they had it all figured out, it involved a fast ferry back to Guadeloupe mainland, the a taxi to a Airbnb. Next they would fly to Dominica and then to St Maarten and next to Costa Rica. I may have missed something but it was going to be a long two days for them. We had a great time with them as always.
Next stop would be Dominica. After dropping Steve and Tina at the ferry dock, we departed for Portsmouth. It's only 20 miles from Iles Des Saintes.....so with a double reef and full jib we headed out and arrived in the early afternoon. This is the first island where you there are boat boys, but in this case they are now boat men as they have made a career out of helping cruisers. They are all very pleasant to deal with unlike in some other islands where they are rude and very aggressive. They offer to take to the customs dock, take your garbage to shore and even bring fruits and veggies out. Of course there is a price but it's all very reasonable. On Sunday evenings they hoist a beach Bbq and cook a meal and provide refreshments. It's great gathering place and you always meet cruisers that you may not have seen in awhile. After a few days here, we headed for Roseau which is the capital of Dominica. Here you need to be on a mooring as the water very deep close to shore. There are only a few spots that you can anchor. We took an mooring which we gladly paid for even though we were not sure how well is would hold up. We actually put the anchor alarm on here....wouldn't want to wake up and find out that we had broke free and were drifting out in the open water. The last time we were here, three boats broke free in one night.....yikes! We spent two days here and then headed out again. Next stop Saint Pierre, Martinique.
It was a lovely sail through the pass between Dominica and Martinique. We were now in the Windward Islands. We spent one night Saint Pierre and then sailed around to Sainte Anne which is a very popular area for cruisers. The anchorage can be a bit roller, but you always have the option of heading into Le Marin which is really well protected. So, now we are back in the land of cheap wine and French baguettes. After the better part of two weeks here touring around and visiting with friends that we had not seen in a few years, it was again time to start heading north again. This was a far south as we planned on going this season.
We checked out of the country and were now on our way back towards Antigua which is where we plan on hauling the boat again this year. First stop was Saint Pierre where would spend the night and get up early sail across the pass towards Portsmouth at the top of Dominica. Winds were a little higher then forecasted but not uncomfortable. Once you are accustomed to sailing down here so long as you are reefed you get used to the high winds and big seas between the islands. A rainy forecast kept us in Portsmouth for a few days longer then we planned. Sometimes you just have to make the decision to go even if it's still raining which was not going to stop anytime soon. We hauled anchor at 6:20am and of course it was raining heading for Jolly Harbor, Antigua. When we left we decided if the conditions were good we would go all the way. It's a 98 nautical mile trip. This certainly has been the season of quick sailing....another record broken for us. By 8:30 we were anchored in Jolly Harbor safe and sound, but tired and salty. We checked in first thing in the morning and connected with some cruisers that we had not seen in while. We have now moved over to Falmouth Harbor where we have volunteered to help out in the Classics Regatta. It's going to be a very busy week helping and participating in all the other festivities that are happening.
OK MAXWELL AND ANYONE ELSE INTERESTED.....THATS IT FOR NOW.
Trip to the USVI's
14 December 2015
As you may know cruisers plans are always written in the sand at low tide. We decided not to go to Colombia this year but instead head north back up to St. Thomas,USVI. This was going to be a three day trip and approx. 430 nautical miles and we had a weather window coming up on Thursday, November 26th to leave Bonaire. Monday, we stocked up with food. Tuesday, we prepared all the meals for the trip. Wednesday, we had a farewell dinner with Dolce Vita, Ocean Rainbow and Changes at the local burger joint. First thing Thursday morning, Michael and Chris from Changes went to Customs to check out of the country. Changes was also heading in the same direction so we would buddy boat with them. At 9am we let go of the mooring and said good bye to Bonaire.
According to the forecast and single reef in the main would be all that was needed. We put the main up and started to motor sail around the top of Bonaire. Not two hours out and a seam just above the second reef in the main completely split apart....now what. There is no sail repair in Bonaire and the closest place to get it repaired would have been Curacao. As luck would have it, we were still able to put a triple reef in the main. Decision made and we went with the triple reef which would likely mean a lot of motor sailing but it was doable and we had plenty of fuel on board. Once around the top of Bonaire we headed north for the virgin islands. The seas were very confused and it was like being in a washing machine. It was very hard to move around in the boat but other then that we were now on our way. The first night was a full moon and it was beautiful.. By sunrise the second day, the seas had come down and bit. It was time to try and catch some dinner. It was a rather boring uneventful day. The moon did not come out until very late on the second night and we started seeing squalls on the radar off in the distance. I just got up to take over for my watch at around 1 o'clock in the morning and something didn't sound right. Well, the next minute the auto pilot turned off and then the instruments started turning on and off. Now what....hand steer and wait for morning to try and figure it out. By morning, all the instruments were working again. This is always a little unnerving as you know something is not right and how long with they continue to work. It was not a lack of battery power, so we probably have a grounding problem. The third day was a rainy one....on and off all day long. By evening, the squalls and lightening started again. It continued most of the night. The only good thing about the night was that the instruments were still operating. We could now see the lights of St. Thomas in a distance....land hooh about ten miles to go. Just as we were entering the channel to Charolette Amalie the auto pilot and instruments starting acting up again. No problem, we will deal with that once we get anchored and settled in. We were able to anchor in the shallow water in the same area we stayed the last time we were here. So after 72 hours of not so much fun, we were safely and anchored and ready to sleep. Just the end of another spirited sail.
Life on the hard and launch
14 December 2015
update to come
Home for the summer
11 November 2015
Trip back to Curacao
10 November 2015
We left at very early in the morning of Friday, October 30th for the Lester Pearson Airport. In tow we had two suite cases that needed to be checked as well as a new washing machine which could be checked as oversize luggage and a couple of backpacks full to be carried on. Upon arrival at the airport, the line for international check in was so long we could not see the end of it. Apparently, the self-check in kiosks were out of service. There were only a few of them that where working but not working well. We were lucky enough to get our boarding passes and bag tags printed. It did not give us the option to print a tag for the oversize bag so I just printed a regular tag....figuring they would correct it when we got to the checked baggage drop off. We were sent back into the never ending line with our luggage and boarding passes in hand. At some point they opened up a few more gates for people that had their boarding passes and luggage tags so over we went fully prepared to have a problem with an incorrect checked bag tag. Luck was on our side and the person at the counter was on her second day of work with Air Canada. We dropped off the baggage and she told us to take the washing machine over to the oversize luggage. We put it on the belt and that was it.....nobody asked about the incorrect tag. Then we were directed to the security check which were the line was so long you could not see the end of it. As we approached the first security people, we were directed to another line and to our surprise we were the first ones in that line. We managed to bypass the whole line and were right in front of one of the security screening.....took out our computers and show your boarding pass and we were in. Next stop the Prestige Lounge for some breakfast and internet while we wait for departure.
We arrived in Curacao just after three and went through Immigration and then headed over to get our luggage fully expecting an issue with the washing machine. The customs guy asked what we were going to with and so long as it was not staying in Curacao they sent us on our merry way.
We arrived in Curacao marine shortly after five and it was the last Friday of the month happy hour - free food and cheap drinks. We loaded the stuff into the boat, opened up the windows and did a quick check of the inside of the boat. Everything looked fine, so over to the Palapa for dinner and drinks. The next day the work would begin.
Stay tuned for life on the HARD!
Bonaire - finally found the update
10 November 2015
It's been a three months since we left St Marten and we have really enjoyed our time in Bonaire.
Bonaire is a Caribbean island east of Central America and north of Venezuela. The island is part of the ABC Islands together with Aruba and Curaçao. It is a flat, riverless island renowned for its dive spots. Its tropical climate is moderated by constant trade winds from the Atlantic Ocean.
This is the longest time we have ever spent on one island.
There are supposed to be forty moorings along the coast which are serviced by the local Marina on behalf of the national park. Anchoring is not permitted here in order to protect the coral. It seemed to be a weekly event that someone's mooring needed the lines replaced and had to do it themselves. In one week there were seven Canadian flagged boats as two other American flagged boats that were owed by Canadians. While we were here, the three months that an American is allowed to stay in Bonaire changed to six months. We can only stay for three months and then you must leave and cannot come back until another three months are up unless you want to pay 750.00 US per person to stay longer.
The biggest attraction to the island is that it is known as one of the top places in the world to scuba dive. Snorkeling, kiteboarding and wind surfing are also very popular here. Some of the other big attractions are the salt mines and the flamingos. There are also some great little restaurants in this tiny island.
Michael hooked up with a group cruisers that like to scuba dive almost every day. He seems to really enjoy it and is now feeling much more comfortable with the whole process. He now nitrox certified and has done almost 50 dives since we arrived. Night diving is also very popular here. Every month on about the fifth day after a full month you can dive to see ostracods which look like thousands of tiny Christmas lights. It is quite a beautiful site. He also dove on a wreck.
Linda Morrish came and spent almost a week snorkeling and toured the island with us. The most interesting dis that we saw was the frog fish that made their home on the mooring blocks two boats down from us. This was the first time we had ever seen flamingos in the wild. We are enjoyed the donkeys that just wonder the streets. Is most islands you hear roasters in the night but here you hear the donkeys.
Of course, Tina and Steve came and spent some time with us. While they were here, they both got certified to dive. I think actually got ten dives in.
We have met so cruisers this year and have had so much fun with them, from touring the island to burger night, piazza night and many happy ours. Our summer at home will involve land cruising and meeting up with them in
It's hard to believe that last year at this time we were getting ready to haul the boat and head home. We still have just over three weeks and we will have to depart Bonaire and head over to Curacao.