Voyages of Petite Ourse

06 April 2018
29 March 2018 | Montserrat
22 March 2018 | Guadeloupe
07 March 2018 | Martinique
05 February 2018 | Clifton Harbour, Union Island, St. Vincent & the Grenadines
01 February 2018
26 January 2018 | Tyrell Bay, Carriacou, Grenada
22 June 2017 | Chaguaramas
20 May 2017
13 May 2017
04 May 2017
18 April 2017
09 April 2017 | Cape Town, South Africa
25 February 2017
31 December 2016
13 December 2016
30 November 2016 | Inhaca Island, Mozambique

St. Kitts

06 April 2018
We arrived at Basseterre, St. Kitts late afternoon on Sunday March 25th from Montserrat after one of the best day sails we have had this year. We anticipated a relatively long wait due to contrary winds from the north. The harbourmaster, Charles, found us room at the end of the fuel dock where we remained throughout our stay. A day later, a British sailboast rafted off us due to the lack of space in the marina. When we arrived there were no boats anchored off the marina in the bay but two days later there were 8 sailboats. Nobody was moving north due to the northeast wind which dropped to a near calm on Saturday and then on Easter Sunday there were very light easterly winds.

Basseterre, typically has 2 to 3 cruise boats each day with an increase in traffic this year because of the reduced traffic to St. Marten. In fact Port Zante where the cruise boats dock here is very similar to Phillipsburg with its myriad of shops and duty free stores. We have visited the island by taxi and a tourist train using the old sugar harvest track on mostly on the west side of the island. Fort George and the Brimstone Fortress afforded great views of Eustatius and Saba to the north of St. Kitts. The restored fort provided good background on the life of people in the 17th century on the island.

The difference between Montserrat and St. Kitts was notable with regards to cleaniness of the island. Here we found plastic bottles discarded in ditches and dry creek beds. I would imagine during the wet summer season these bottles could wash out to sea and eventually join the millions that collect around Panama. There does appear to be an effort to be more environmentally conscious with an ecopark at one end of the island.

The sister island, Nevis, was interesting with restored plantations now boutique hotels, one a Relais & Chateaux and one with a great view of Montserrat. Their capital, Charlestown, with its colonial day buildings and no Port Zante cruise terminal is more attractive and unified than Basseterre. Unfortunately the botanical garden did not reflect any of the indigenous vegetation on Nevis and added nothing to our visit. The island itself seems to be in a better state of care than St. Kitts.

On Easter Monday we took a look at the annual greased pole contest at the St. Kitts ferry dock. In one contest a greased horizontal pole is suspended above water with a ham attached in a knotted bag at one end. The objective for the contestant is to reach the ham and undo the knot to retrieve the ham before falling off the pole into the water. The second contest is a vertical greased pole on the beach with a 100 hundred dollar bill on top as a prize.

On Tuesday (April 3rd) we left for St. Croix.

Little Bay

29 March 2018 | Montserrat
As we passed along the southwest coast of Montserrat, we could smell the sulphorous gases being emitted by the volcano. Slight hesitation as we proceeded to the north end of the island, which is inhabited, and to Little Bay for anchoring and clearance. Little Bay is only viable as anchorage with east and southeast winds otherwise the swell can be very uncomfortable. Our first night was quite comfortable with a light east wind but the second night the swell increased with a wind shift to the eastnortheast. We left in the morning for St. Kitts. Since we arrived near the end of the day on Friday, March 23, we waited until Saturday morning to clear in. After regular week hours, customs levies an overtime charge which amounted to 75 dollars Canadian, the most exorbitant in the Caribbean to our knowledge. Again the touted digital SailClear system for easing clearance pains was not functional in Montserrat as happened with other islands. We toured the island with a local taxi driver and saw the devastation caused by the volcano when it erupted in the 1990s. The island population is now about 4 to 5 thousand with only about 2 thousand, the original Montserratians. The remainder are from other Caribbean islands, like our bilingual driver who was Haitian born. There is a small segment from the US and Canada who winter on the island. The northern part of the island is very hilly and mountainous and there is very little now in the way of agriculture. As with many other Caribbean islands the main crop before the volcanic eruption was sugar cane. Montserrat is very clean (no plastic bottles scarring the roadside) and essentially crime free compared with many other Caribbean Islands


22 March 2018 | Guadeloupe
We arrived at Deshaies March 16 in late afternoon after overnighting from le Marin in Martinique. Now that we were in the windwards, the wind was a more favorable east wind and our heading was west of north. We were on a beam reach through the island passages and in the lee of some of the islands. The passage between Martinique and Dominica was the quite rough much more than between Dominica and Guadeloupe. We entered Deshaies with a salt covered boat. We are impressed with bay of Deshaies. We have had one downpour which has cleaned the boat of salt. The anchorage can be a bit rolly but the bay is scenic. The north shore is a vertical cliff which we are anchored off and the south shore is rolling hills dotted with a few houses. At the base of the cliff towards the east end is a place for snorkeling on coral. At the east end of the bay is the village nestled between the sea and the hills behind with a small harbour for fishing boats. The anchorage is crowded with perhaps a hundred boats anchored or moored in the bay. In town there a variety of stores and restaurants. The village is home to French singer/sailor Antoine, who we met two times in the south Pacific on his catamaran, and Quebec singer Charlebois. Pelicans make the most of the abandoned boats near shore as sleeping roosts. Going back and forth with the dinghy we have spotted turtles and have had a pod of dolphins swim past the boat one morning. We have even had a visit by a Jehovah Witness in a kayak and had a discussion about Stephen Hawking's view on the universe. We visited the Botanical Gardens situated on the hills on the south of the bay. Extremely well laid out gardens carefully pruned and groomed. The bay is however plagued with strong gusty winds when the trades blow in a certain way over Guadeloupe. We saw gusts topping 40 knots and may boats dragged, including us on one occasion, when blasted by an explosive gust of wind. Our next stop is Montserrat.

Le Marin

07 March 2018 | Martinique
We left Union Island on February 27th and motorsailed into a NE wind of 15 knots with waves of 1 to 1.5 metres headed for south coast of Matinique. We had waited at Union Island for weeks for the waves to subside under 2 metres and a wind under 16 knots for a period of at least 2 days (i.e. less than Force 5 on the nose). In the lee of St. Vincent and St. Lucia we had very light winds for a couple of hours. We arrived at le Marin, Martinique on February 28th about 1 day after leaving Union Island.

Le Marin Marina was crowded with the arrival of the transatlantic Transquadra sailboat race from Madeira. But we managed to get a place on one of the catamaran charter docks for a few days and then we moved to a temporarily vacant spot on the resident sailboat dock. The marina is massive with about 1000 boats plus hundreds more anchored out in Le Marin bay.

Our days have been occupied with provisioning Petite Ourse with food and spirits especially those items we will no longer find after Martinique (and perhaps Guadeloupe). Now we have fresh bread, usually baguette every day, as well as a myriad of French products. We find food prices are much better than Grenada and the Grenadines and also better than Trinidad.

We had a visit from Ludovic, nephew of Dany and Eric, who lives in Martinique and is a sailing instructor. We leave for St. Pierre on the northwest coast at the beginning of next week. This week St. Pierre has a north swell which makes for an uncomfortable anchorage.

Waiting for Weather Window in Grenadines

05 February 2018 | Clifton Harbour, Union Island, St. Vincent & the Grenadines
We are moored behind the reef almost encircling Clifton Harbour. The harbour is crowded mostly with boats heading to and from Tobago Cays which appear to be mostly charters from Martinique. The harbour is also one of the most important kite surfing centres in the Caribbean with colourful parafoils darting across the reef at all hours during the day. The water in the harbour is turquoise and multi-hued over the reefs.

We have decided to wait here for some moderation in the brisk northeast trade winds. The author of Caribbean Passagemaking says a good rule of thumb is that sailing with Force Five or more forward of the beam will be too wet and hard to be comfortable for long. After circling the globe in parts that were unavoidably uncomfortable we are now looking for relative comfort in our passages so we wait. Today winds are in low 20 knot range with gusts up to 30 in the many brief squalls that passed through. Our next stop is likely to be Martinique about 120 nautical miles north of us.

Life here in Clifton Harbour is expensive being geared to tourism; however it does mean you can buy food items that you would find in Canada or France. Many imported food items cost twice as much as you would pay in the originating country. Local fruits and vegetables are also dear i.e. $2.50 CAD for a mango and $4 CAD for a medium sized cucumber.

Tobago Cays

01 February 2018
Eric and Dany joined us in St. Georges, Grenada and Tobago Cays was their must see place. The Tobago Cays is a national park and conservation area. Two of the best features of the park is the protected turtle population and spectacular anchorage behind Horseshoe Reef. Lots of wind but very little swell and waves. We picked up the last available mooring with enough draught and very close to the protected turtle beach on Baradel Island. We had a very enjoyable lobster dinner on the beach of Petit Bateau island and most of the crew swam with the turtles.
Twenty-five years ago when we came with our first sailboat Golden Aura, the attraction of the Tobago Cays was a picturesque anchorage where you could distance yourself from the world and appreciate the reef and lagoon with a few other cruising boats. There were no chart plotters in those days and GPS was just being introduced. Entry to the Cays was much more difficult than with current technology.
Vessel Name: Petite Ourse
Vessel Make/Model: Valiant 40
Hailing Port: Toronto
Crew: Richard Kolomeychuk, Dominique Aucouturier
Extra: Started in Toronto, Canada July 2009
Petite Ourse's Photos - Main
Album covers, Trinidad, Grenada and Grenadines, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis
1 Photo | 7 Sub-Albums
Created 12 March 2018
1 Sub-Album
Created 2 February 2017
The passage from Mayotte to Richards Bay, South Africa was about 1200 nautical miles but took 33 days as we sought refuge anchorage in two Mozambique locations at Bazaruto Island and Inhaca Island (both of these islands are national parks)
40 Photos
Created 8 January 2017
1 Photo | 1 Sub-Album
Created 31 October 2016
August 3 - October 3, 2016.
3 Sub-Albums
Created 2 October 2016
March 25 - July 23
1 Photo | 7 Sub-Albums
Created 15 August 2016
February 25 - March 10
1 Photo | 6 Sub-Albums
Created 9 August 2016
1 Photo | 3 Sub-Albums
Created 21 June 2016
September 30 - November 22, 2015
1 Photo | 3 Sub-Albums
Created 14 May 2016
1 Photo | 4 Sub-Albums
Created 31 December 2014
12 Photos
Created 9 December 2014
1 Photo | 5 Sub-Albums
Created 10 August 2014
1 Photo | 7 Sub-Albums
Created 30 May 2014
1 Photo | 3 Sub-Albums
Created 19 September 2013
August 17-21, 2013
5 Photos
Created 19 September 2013
1 Photo | 3 Sub-Albums
Created 30 July 2013
32 Photos
Created 16 July 2013
38 Photos
Created 23 June 2013
1 Photo | 12 Sub-Albums
Created 20 July 2012
Ocean passage from Galapagos to Marquesas
35 Photos
Created 18 July 2012
1 Photo | 4 Sub-Albums
Created 7 May 2012
18 Photos
Created 6 May 2012