Florida and north
28 June 2020
I think that florida to New York was more stressful than sailing across the Atlantic. The east coast is a shallow with tricky inlets, sometimes 20 miles from harbor to ocean, not great for day sailing.
Friend nick left me in Miami and I hung out there for a few days anchored off the Miami yacht club. It sounds grand but is not but it is in a great location, loved Miami. I then ventured off my myself to fort Lauderdale which was also fun, parked in a lake that felt like someone’s yard. Where the weather turned wet and I decided to head up the icw. It didn’t really occur to me that the icw would demand so much attention, the channel is narrow, can be shallow and a boat can appear with virtually no notice. So make your lunch before you set off. After a series of hops out into the ocean and icw days, I was very happy to see Rosanna. We began to enjoy the vast salt marshes along the coast and wacky towns. Florida is so big, a quarter of the journey up the east coast. It was great to see more of the south, really does make you realize how different the north and south are. Without exception everyone was friendly and welcoming. The icw is full of migrating snow birds and people are happy to share tips and their favorite stops.
The icw is stiched together with towns, rivers, inlets and cuts, with some amazing scenery and some really dull stretches of beige mega homes lining the banks. I can’t imagine doing it again but now that I am here I am very glad to have done it. My favorite town was Savannah, I walked through the squares one afternoon and evening, I totally loved it, everyone should go. Rosanna and I came through the dismal swamp and got to Norfolk where I was joined by nick and holly for the hop to ct.
Where did 5 months go
08 May 2020
I thought we would find the Caribbean boring, too hot, bad food, too many English speaking tourists, just another holiday destination. Well I can say I was wrong, we have seen so many different worlds within a relatively small area and it's been pretty cool. After spending lovely time with Emily Ben and Patrick in st Lucia they flew back to their worlds ( the old days when there were planes in the sky). We left st Lucia and headed south, the opposite way from home, but had a lovely Christmas with friends old and new in Bequia a beautiful harbor, with fun local shops, great walks and swimming. Bequia finds a nice mix where it's touristy enough to provide all you need but there is also a local life that is not just for tourists, I may be painting myself a rosy picture because we had fun there. After two weeks we headed back north to st Vincent where tourists are not the center of their world and you only have to wander a short distance to find you are the only white face around. In all our time in the Caribbean we never felt worried, everyone was friendly. We had some great rides in crazy minibuses that literally raced from place to place with music blasting and never paid more than a dollar. The sailing from island to island was in some ways more challenging and bumpy than crossing the ocean, the trade winds blow quite hard at that time of year and we waited for weather windows to try and get a good days sail. We got back to st Lucia had a delicious curry in Marigot bay and then headed to Martinique. I had no idea what to expect but we loved it. We anchored in st annes bay and went for some amazing walks along the south east corner, we waded across inlets, walked along deserted beaches, funky hills and forests. It was also just like being in France, good wine, food and very civilized. I think the French keep it a secret because very few English speaking people go there.
I also found a mechanic in le Marin prepared to fix an oil leak in my engine, I would recommend inboard motors, no one else wanted to take the front off my Volvo penta.
We had a quick trip home and to Key West before setting off along the coast of Martinique we stopped at some fun places especially st Pierre were a volcano exploded and 30,000 people died in a moment, over 100 years ago. Next stop was Dominica, the contrast was so stark, Dominica is poor and has been hit hard by two hurricanes. Despite its problems the people are very upbeat and welcoming and the scenery is astounding. Driving across the island you go from sun to cloud to rainforest and back in 45 minutes with magnificent views. Everyone should go to support them and enjoy an amazing place.
A friend called us and told us about a friend of theirs who had abandoned their boat after losing the mast, and the boat had been recovered by fisherman in Marie galant, would we go see it before it was ransacked? Always up for an adventure we set off and a mini drama unfolded that ended well with Martin and Debs boat now sailing back to the uk on a ship.
We set off to isle de saints which charming if a bit to touristy and met up with friends Frankie and Chris, who had also sailed in the arc. We went to the beach for the day and it was delightful, we felt like we were on holiday. The "virus" was becoming an issue for cruisers because there was talk of countries not allowing us in. When the hurricane season comes in July you have to be north or south of the Caribbean and people started to worry about how they were going to do that. After a short stop in Guadeloupe we set off for Antigua, leaving French healthcare but getting an English speaking country and we wanted to visit anyway.
After a few days we got "locked down" which was not really too bad, we could go shopping, swimming and visiting friends during the day, kind of what We normally did. Before we left the restrictions increased but we really grew to like Antigua much more than I expected. We were anchored in Falmouth harbor which is such a beautiful place and had access to good food and friends.
It became clear that things were getting worse and we had to decide how to get home. The original plan was to island hop home through the islands and on to the Bahamas but none of the islands would allow visitors apart from the usvi where a mini fleet of cruisers was gathering to then sail non stop to the USA, about 1000 miles. Rosanna and I sailed overnight to St Croix were we enjoyed a few days before I was joined by a good friend who flew out from the states to sail back to Miami, where I am writing this.
16 December 2019
Richard Simons | Lovely
Well we made it all in one piece and by the time we arrived we were a team, me Ben, Francis and Manu, which meant I had much less to do.
What a treat it was to be greeted by Rosanna Emily and Patrick on the dock. We all went for a drink or two and it was hard to adjust to going to bed and staying there.
What was it like I ask myself?
Fortunately our boat is quite new and strong, we took care and nothing broke, just two pins dropped out of shackles, the ones I had not cable tied up....
The assistance of other ovni owners especially Stephen and Francine at North Sea Maritime, Graham, Kate and Phill in giving their time and experience was invaluable. Rosanna put together a folder with good wishes from friends that she gave us as we left and it was fantastic.
The boat went much much faster than I expected, we sailed with poled out genoa and staysail or genaker depending on conditions and the boat was typically doing over seven knots with our best surf at over 14. I think our best 24 hours was about 160 but we did not fly the genaker most evenings. The first evening out of Gran Canaria was quite windy and we thought we would be in St Lucia super fast, but the next two days were almost calm and we motored or sailed at about 4 knots We swam until I jumped into a pool of jellyfish. It was good to have the calms out of the way and once the wind started to blow it slowed to 10 knots but never really stopped. We saw a lot of mini squalls with rain and a couple at 30 knots They made us take our genaker down which kept the crew busy. Our fav wind was 15 to 17 knots genaker up when we hopped along seeing 8+ knots and we pulled ahead of other boats. We saw some quite big waves and we were surprised how quickly the conditions would change, following waves, cross waves, waves from everywhere, no waves; I thought the ocean would be slower to change. On the beach one looks at waves coming in and think they came across the ocean from Africa, well they didn't. It was never scary just bumpy. The nights were amazing, not at all like nearshore sailing where you are worried about traffic, you just look at the sky, see shooting stars, doze and make sure the wind pilot is steering you in the right direction.
We set out with food as a high priority and I think we ate better than I typically would at home. Highlights were fresh tuna tacos, steak taco, an incredible scene when Ben made fresh pasta ravioli which we stuffed with mushroom and caramelized onions, sole with capers and fresh tomatoes, salted cod risotto, salted cod fish cakes, and potato latkes.
It was a treat to make the trip with Ben, as we had agreed many years ago to do this, but we never thought it would happen. In the intervening years Ben has become a young man and I an older one. On a few occasions his judgement was better than mine, I can put this down to good teaching.
We steered with a windpilot wind vane system which we loved as it is silent and consumes no power. Sometimes it would steer for hours without attention when the breeze was steady. If the wind changed direction we did too and it required tweaking if the wind speed increased but I would use the same again. We also had a wattsea hydro generator that produced more power than we needed that includes running the watermaker, so for days we only ran the engine to make some hot water. Our desalinator water maker worked well and we showered and had an endless supply of water.
It's hard to take in an experience like crossing the ocean, but I can say, now that a month has passed, that I am happy to be headed north through the Caribbean not west to the pacific.
22 November 2019 | Las palmas
Richard Simons | Nice
It’s quite a challenge to shop for three weeks at sea, and plan to eat well. We have 180 eggs, two per person per day and about 90 pieces of fruit. Frozen meat and fish for 10 days, after that we are fishing.
Preparing to sail across the pond
19 October 2019 | Lanzarote
Richard Simons | Lovely
I am not totally sure how I find myself here, I guess it comes under the "be careful what you wish for" category. I can say that if not for Rosanna's and friends support I would not be here.
I am in Lanzarote, a volcanic island off Africa a stone throw from Gran Canaria where the arc rally starts on November 24.
Having made a number of longish sails in the last couple of months I have discovered that it is fun to be in the middle of nowhere for a while as long as you are safe, have good company and food. So that is what I am focusing on as I drill holes in my boat, wait for Rosanna, Ben, Francis and Manu, while I go shopping and eat pastries.
04 September 2019 | Nice cove near motril
I have been struggling to get water from my watermaker, but after a few helpful suggestions I appear to have fixed the problem with a little plastic scoop that is now stuck to the bottom of the hull and it shoots water up the pipe. The watermaker is transformed. I see showers in my future.