11 February 2018 | Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands
27 November 2017 | Medellin, Colombia
23 November 2017 | Machu Picchu, Peru
13 November 2017 | Santa Marta, Colombia
25 October 2017 | Curacao
13 November 2015 | Terrel Bay, Carriacou
16 July 2015 | Port Luis, Grenada
18 May 2015 | Chatham Bay, Union Island
03 April 2015 | Antigua and Barbuda
19 February 2015 | 17 57.38'N:062 54.28'W, BVI & St. Martin
01 February 2015 | 19 29.92'N:064 23.28'W, BVI
07 January 2015 | PR and Culebra
16 December 2014 | Salinas, PR
12 December 2014 | Ocean World Marina, DR
05 December 2014 | Turks & Caicos
24 November 2014 | 23 51.077'N:075 07.209'W, Georgetown to Conception
14 November 2014 | 24 26.687'N:076 47.37'W, On our way to Black Point, Great Guana Cay
13 August 2015 | Grenada
Grenada is affectionately known as Camp Grenada. It is a cruisers haven with planned and unplanned events happening all the time, including water aerobics aka noodling, bingo, dominoes, yoga, full moon dinghy drifts, and beach outings just to name a few. At the top of the list perhaps is the Spice Mas aka Carnival. Unlike Dominica where the music was more akin to Caribbean Rap (were all too old for that), the music in Grenada has a nice beat except maybe at 3am.
What is Spice Mas? Simply put, itâ€™s a huge celebration. It begins late Sunday night and lasts thru Tuesday and is held during August every year. For most it begins in the early hours of Monday morning with the Jâ€™Ouvert celebration where revelers coat themselves with used motor oil, dragging chains behind them and parade down the street wearing little more than horned helmets. If you get close enough, you could be wearing the motor oil. This is followed by colorful devils that only want to dab you with their body paint as they dance thru the streets. This is followed by a traditional parade during the day on Monday then the Monday Night Mas. Many cruisers participate in the Monday Night Mas, waving glow sticks and neon hats and t-shirts drinking â€śfreeâ€ť beer (they did have to pay for their party paraphernalia). The celebration continues thru Tuesday with the parade of the bands and the â€śPretty Masâ€ť. Officially it ends early Tuesday evening but unofficially it continues till the wee hours of Wednesday morning.
So how did we participate in this celebration? Well, since we are such party animals, we decided to be tame this year so we put in our ear plugs Sunday night and when the music started up around 2AM, we slept. We roused ourselves out of bed around 7ish and were onlookers to those that were dragging themselves back from what looked like a big paint ball fight. We took pics of these partygoers taking their shower in the garden (they had the restroom and shower rooms locked down). Later that day, we walked down to where the party had been in full swing (think French Quarter, NO) and watched the disgusting litter and oil in the streets along with the not so few revelers still celebrating. The crews were hard at work cleaning up the mess. The Monday night parade had all the participants meeting about 3 miles down the road at 7pm so what did we do. We had a nice dinner and took a nap then at 10pm, we moseyed our way down the street about 200 yards and watched the parade come to us. It couldnâ€™t have turned out any better. Tuesday, we went early enough to scout out a good seat for our viewing of the last parade, then walked amongst the parade participants. All in all, we had a really good time and I have been singing to the tune of â€śJab on Sesame Streetâ€ť. Google it and give it a listen. It was one of the theme songs for this yearâ€™s carnival.
You can google Spice Mas 2015 and you will get a sampling of what we were fortunate to experience. Also check out our picture gallery for pictures taken during Spice Mas.
Grenada - Home - Grenada
16 July 2015 | Port Luis, Grenada
We arrived in Grenada around the last week of May. We spent a week on the south side in Prickly Bay where it is a cruisers haven. Not only do they have several restaurants just steps away from the dinghy docks, they offer free yoga, pilates, nature walks, karaoke, and bingo. The locals taxi cabs also arrange for minivans to do weekly shopping trips as well as touristy outings. Being as how we donâ€™t like to follow the crowd, we set out on foot and explored the nearby anchorages, walking thru a dove sanctuary, finding the bridge to nowhere, and discovering the site of a new marina currently under construction. While we enjoyed the south side of the island, we had a reservation at Port Luis Marina for the summer so we headed up the west coast to our new summer neighborhood. Docking at the marina is stern-to the dock with bow lines tied off to a mooring ball located somewhere in front of the boat. With the help of the marina assistance, we docked easily enough (couldnâ€™t have done this with just the two of us). Once docked, we set about getting the boat and ourselves ready for travel back to the states. Once we had enough fenders and lines tied off where we were comfortable, we removed and stored the head sail down in the salon. We scrubbed and stored the dinghy up on deck. Finally, we hired a local management company to check on the boat a few times while we were away.
Off to the states. We first went up to Boston and visited with friends and spent time on the Cape and New Hampshire. What a lovely time to visit. We had mostly good weather allowing us to see the sites. Now I know what P-Town means. I likened it to an upscale Key West.
Next, Houston for family, friends, and surgery. Yes, surgery. Ed had his 4th surgery on his foot (we will spare you the pictures). Hopefully, this was the last. We enjoyed spending time with family and friends. It was amazing how much we missed everyone. We apologize to those whom we did not get to visit. Time went by so fast and we just couldnâ€™t see everyone.
Back home on the boat. Upon arriving home (boat), we discovered that the beeping our management company kept telling us about was our phone letting us know we had messages. Easy fix. We also arrived to a faulty A/C, and a refrigerator that was not keeping the temperature cool enough. Thankfully, we didnâ€™t have any food in the fridge (just lots of water bottles to fill the space). The next day, we called a local technician and he arrived 45 minutes later and voila, the fridge was fixed within an hour. He worked on the A/C but it still may not be fixed. Time will tell but it does work which is ok with me.
We are adapting back to our Caribbean lifestyle; Taking it easy and relaxing. We try to do something productive every day. This blog was it for me today.
Sweet spot in Windwards
18 May 2015 | Chatham Bay, Union Island
Leaving Rodney Bay, St. Lucia. On to SVG (St. Vincent & the Grenadines)
We left at 0400 from Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, which is on the NW corner of St. Lucia for a long 70 nM sail to Bequia. In past years we would have enjoyed staying in Marigot Bay and the Piton of St. Lucia like we have done so many years before on charter trips. But, crime against cruisers has been on the uptick in recent years here so we decided to pass St. Lucia up hoping the island can get a handle on the crime issues so we can visit again in the spring when we come back up this way. The next island down the Windward chain is St. Vincent. Wallilabou is where they filmed much of the Pirates of the Caribbean. We have stayed in this port in previous years. As matter of fact, when we stayed there in 2006, we got hit by a French Canadian boat that put quite a gouge in the side of our charter boat. Then they had the nerve to deny they hit us with many witnesses to support us. We spent hours at the police station and the St. Vincent Coast Guard even came to deal with these folks. Not a fond memory when on vacation. Like St. Lucia, crime against cruiser has been a problem in St. Vincent for years, so we just kept on sailing south until Bequia. Also, it is important to note that St. Lucia and St. Vincent are very deep anchorages so this make it difficult for boats to anchor. You often have to take a second line to land just to avoid the surge that turn boats in these ports. Bequia is a spit of an island in the country known as St. Vincent & the Grenadines with the emphasis for us on â€śthe Grenadines.â€ť The Grenadines is a series of wonderful islands. They include Bequia, Canouan, Mayreau, Tobago Cays, Union Island, Palm Island, and Petit St. Vincent. This is what I call â€śThe Sweet Spot in the Windward Islands, or for that matter, the â€śsweetestâ€ť spot in all of the Eastern Caribbean. Why? Because we get away from all of the larger port cities full of industrial ports, lots of people, and the winds allow us to sail all of the time and the water is even prettier than the Bahamas. When you think of a Caribbean post card, youâ€™ve conjured up the Grenadines. So, sweet.
We arrived in Bequia. Its main anchorage is Admiralty Bay and it is a nice wide bay with sandy beaches, enough of a town to get the basic provisions and a few Carib style restaurants, even a Mexican food restaurant (man, do we crave TexMex). We have always loved this place. The first time we can through here on a charter we sailed right by it not knowing what we missed. Never again. However, this time the winds were very strong. We knew the Caribbean trade winds were going to be building but we didnâ€™t expect winds in excess of 40kts for 5 nights! Our anchor snubber nearly wore in half with all of the pounding. [For those that are wondering what the heck a snubber is, itâ€™s a line with hook on it that you attach from your bow to the chain that is design to give some dampening that a rigged, steel chain will not provide.] We felt like would get seasick just sitting at anchor. Ok, we are in the Caribbean in a beautiful anchorage so we shouldnâ€™t be complaining. Right? Right. So, when life deals you lemons (and limes), you make the best of it (or make margaritas). So, we got off the boat (and the swells) and went to climb the highest mountain around, Peggyâ€™s Rock. Great climb and what wonderful views. (See our picture album.) On our walk down from the rock, we saw some locals taking pictures of the water. After we inquired as to what they were looking at, we soon saw a mama whale with her baby. Yes we saw them go breach to the sea. Spectacular sight!
Back at the boat that night were awakened by strong winds again. They tend to be diurnal and come up every night. Hard to sleep with 40+ kts of wind. We had been worried about the French boat beside us as he had trouble setting his Bruce anchor. Sure enough, at 0200 his anchor had dragged and the boat was too near us. The fire drill starts. We put out fenders just in case and it takes us a lot of work to wake the skipper up. Finally blowing our navigational safety air horn did the trick (how can anyone sleep through this blow!) He and his crew sprang into action and weighed anchor and headed out to sea to re-anchor. Glad we were awake to help this one come to a happy ending. Ed recalled in 2003 when he skippered a SLV (our Houston Sailing Club) charter that took a mooring here in Bequia. The mooring broke away from the seabed at 9:30 PM while he just happened to be sitting in the cockpit. As the boat starting drifting through the anchorage, it was an all-hands-on-deck event to avert a collision with other boats. That kind of event makes you think hard about using mooring balls at all unless you dive them and can see how they are maintained or not.
While in Bequia we met new friends on Wahoo (from New Orleans) and Serenity (from New England) and we got to spend more time with our Colorado friends on Aspenglow. We had several get togethers at each otherâ€™s boats and local eateries for sundowner and meals. Itâ€™s good to socialize with new cruising friends. Itâ€™s not the same as old friends and family, who we miss dearly, but ALL cruisers miss old friends and family, so we rely on new friendships to fill the void until we can see old friends again and renew our friendships. We also got a chance to see Chris Doyle, who writes all the cruising guides that we have used for so many charters and all of our cruising. He rocks! Good to see the source of all these great guides.
Salt Whistle Bay & Tobago Cays
We had our fun and winds in Bequia but now it is time to move on since the winds have finally laid down enough to allow us to leave. So, we left Bequia sailing past Canoun for Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau. Salt Whistle Bay, is a small, but beautiful place that only has room for about 10 boats or so. But, this isthmus is unique in that one can experience sunset and sunrise from the same bay. Very peaceful and unique place. One of the boat boys brought us fresh (still flipping) snapper which we cooked on the grill. This place has a restaurant with booth like seats made of stone. Even the table top is made of stone. Something you expect to find Fred and Barney of the Flintstones sitting at. Boy, were those seats hard too. In the complaint column we have to add that they put moorings in all of the good places so we had to anchor out a bit further out than we would have liked to. This made for a rolly couple of nights. We could always take a mooring ball but, well, we are cheap. We invested in a darn good anchor (proven by how she held so well in the 40+ winds for so many nights) so we wouldnâ€™t have to pay for moorings so we prefer to anchor. Besides, how do you know that the mooring is well-maintained (Ed has had 2 break on him, always at night). Weâ€™ve learned to trust our 60 lb Ultra anchor. Weâ€™ve gone in 360 degree turns during the night and our anchor has always kept digging in and always held for us. Salt Whistle Bay always brings back fond memories from chartering here with our good friends from SLV and having so many good times here. Nice to be back again to these and other great Grenadine anchorages and not be on such a fast track as we were in the chartering days.
After two nights at Salt Whistle, we headed for Tobago Cays. Tobago Cays is always the highlight of our trips to the Grenadines. If youâ€™ve never heard of it, please stop reading and go to Google Images right now and look up Tobago Cays. It is breathtaking. It is the prettiest place we have ever been and weâ€™ve seen some incredibly beautiful places! Check out the pictures we posted in our blog album. As we understand it, Tobago Cays is considered an atoll which means once there was volcanic island here surrounded by a coral reef. Then the volcanic island literally â€śsunkâ€ť leaving nothing but the volcanic reef surrounding water. So, we are essential in the middle of the Caribbean Sea while looking at the Atlantic Ocean. The surrounding, large, protective reef blocks all of the waves but not the wind. The water is mostly less than 15 feet deep so itâ€™s that incredible aqua blue that camera photos never seem to be able to capture. That blue that is always better live and in person. We still have more wind that we want (not complaining) that prevents us from swimming as easily as we would like to. However, we managed to snorkel in the designated turtle sanctuary area and saw great views. We also took our dinghy out to the reef for some spectacular views (and pics). I could stay here for weeks. They have â€śboat boysâ€ť (actually men) that come here from Union Island everyday into this National Park and provide all kinds of support. They bring fresh bread, banana nut bread, ice, fresh fish (you cannot fish in this National Park), T-shirts, support as you need it. We are actually impressed by how professional these guys are. They are only here to help. Our one favorite boat boy on a yellow boat named Surprise was so versed in US politics and the world news. He was great to talk to as well. He has been motoring here every day to serve cruisers for 26 years! We were also saddened to hear our favorite boat boy â€śWalterâ€ť had passed away last year at age 72. Thatâ€™s right. Every day he brought T-shirts here to sell for 30+ years. He was a piece of work and we miss his presentation and good humor. RIP Walter. Watching sunset and having a sundowner as I write this. Wow, so beautiful.
Palm Island & PSV (Petite St. Vincent)
After spending too much money on lunch at Palm Island (yummy daiquiris) and dinner at PSV we went to Union Island to clear out of customs and prepare to head to Grenada. Palm Island is a favorite drink spot of ours and we have enjoyed many fabulous strawberry daiquiris there. No strawberry this time so we enjoyed mango and banana. I prefer the strawberry. Both islands are private and have resorts on them so you can imagine the cost. We splurged and enjoyed food and alcohol at both places. After clearing customs in Clifton, we headed over to Chatham Bay on the leeward side of Union where we had the calmest anchorage we have experienced in quite a while. We took advantage of the great anchorage and got our snorkel gear on and scrubbed the bottom of the boat. Now thatâ€™s a good cardio workout. Neither of us had ever been to this anchorage before and we really enjoyed its peacefulness and it helped that the winds were low.
Martinique and St. Martin
01 May 2015 | St. Lucia
We sailed 70 miles from Portsmouth, Dominica to Grand Anse D'Arlet, Martinique. It is so fun to actually sail as opposed to motoring. Upon arriving in Martinique, we took the guide mentioned "footpath" over the hill to clear customs. A recommended twenty minute walk. It was a hike of over an hour and said footpath was not meant for flip flops. After clearing customs and having lunch at a little beach restaurant (first place that would not take either credit cards or US cash) we took the road route back to our anchorage and it was a pleasant 20 minute walk suitable for flip flops.
We enjoyed dining at the local French restaurants. The most fun was swimming with leatherback sea turtles who were grazing on the sea grass nearby our boat.
After a few days we headed to St. Anne where we met up with friends on Alpenglow, Tim and Susan. We enjoyed a delicious dinner ashore with them one evening. We spent a few days in St. Anne, taking a bus to Marin for some shopping (boat stores) before heading south.
We decided to spend 2 nights at Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia before heading to Bequia. We haven't been to a marina since November. The marina is first class with floating docks, water, and A/C power for less than $100 US for two nights. This has been a real treat. We aren't planning on doing any sightseeing in St. Lucia as we have been here many times chartering. As a matter of fact, we went by the Moorings office to see Lena and Alex. Alex wasn't around but Lena remembered us well. It was nice seeing her again.
The Saints and Dominica
14 April 2015 | Dominica
After spending nearly a month in Antigua, it was time to head south again. On our way to The Saints, we spent one very rally night in BasseTerre, Guadalupe. We watched the beachside fun from our cockpit. The beach was black sand which was different than any beaches we have seen to date. We arrived the next day in The Saints. We have very fond memories of this place as we were here eleven years ago together on Cheryl's first Caribbean trip. We met up with the crew if Mojo, John an Barbara and spent several days having three hour lunches at the waterside restaurants. While the food at these places was excellent, we both ended up getting a touch of something that didn't agree with us. We think it was bad chorizo we had in our fridge and not anything we ate at the restaurants. After shopping, eating, and walking all over the island, we headed south again to Dominica.
Dominica is a beautiful island with many trails that traverse the country. Our first tour was the Indian River tour, which was in a scene of Pirates of the Caribbean. No motorboat are allowed up the river and you have to go with a guide. They earn their fare as they have to row a boatload of tourist up the river and back. At the stopping point, there is a bar and a walking trail. We had the river drink "Dynamite". Tasty but strong.
Another day we took a guide up the Syndicate rainforest where we hiked up the trail to the tallest mountain peak, Morne Diablotin. We were hoping to see the Sisserou parrots. We didn't see any but we heard them singing high up in the treetops. We also visited Milton Falls which took us on a short hike through farmlands where we viewed more mango trees than you could count. We were shown the following plants; coffee beans, cocoa beans, papaya, avocados, grapefruit, cinnamon, lemons, bananas, nutmeg, almonds, and ginger root just to name a few. Much of these plants and trees are growing wild on the island. That's my kind of farming. The falls were breathtaking and maybe the coldest water we have ever swam in. Brrr, but it felt so refreshing for a few minutes.
We took a bus ride to Roseau which is about an hours drive and cost us 18 EC which is about $7 US. Ed went to a local dentist there to get his crown sealed back in place.
We really enjoyed Dominica and could have stayed longer if not for the extremely loud local music we had to endure till 4 AM two nights a week. The local establishments either think cruisers like this noise or they are trying to run us off as the insist on pointing the speakers out towards the bay where all the cruisers on trying to sleep.
Next stop Martinique.
Spring break, zip-lines, donkeys, frigate birds, and the beautiful beaches
03 April 2015 | Antigua and Barbuda
We havenâ€™t posted to the blog in a while so thought we would give an update of our travels. After spending one very rolly night in St. Barthâ€™s anchorage, with little to no sleep (most rolly place we have experienced thus far), we set off to St. Kitts. Originally, we were going to do an overnighter to Antigua, but after having no sleep, we changed our plans to sail to St. Kitts. We had the best sail we can remember with a nice beam reach the whole way. After clearing in at St. Kitts, we headed to Whitehouse Bay anchorage where we met some new friends for drinks and dinner. Greg, Beth, and their dog Jackie on Catalina Sunshine had us over for drinks after we ferried Greg to customs and immigration so he wouldnâ€™t have to hassle with getting his dinghy down. We really enjoyed getting to know them and would meet up with them again along our travels. We had a great dinner on shore at Salt Page, a new restaurant that just opened to meet the demands of a new marina opening nearby. We left early the next morning to head over to Antigua. It was not a nice sail. We beat into the wind and waves for 11 hours just to go 50 miles. Arriving in Jolly Harbour, Antigua was a nice end to a long day. The anchorage is picture postcard beautiful and relatively protected from swells. While in Jolly Harbour, we got lazy, lazy, lazy. We took a mooring ball to be closer in so we could pick up provisions, do massive laundry and such. We stayed on the mooring ball because it was too easy (kind of like in Marathon, FL). We took long walks up a hill and around the marina area to get some exercise and enjoyed â€śfreeâ€ť wifi at the nearby restaurants. It probably would have been cheaper to pay for more data on our SIM card than use the â€śfreeâ€ť restaurant wifi, but then we would have had to cook.
We rented a car to sightsee some of Antigua. They give you a Mickey-Mouse road map that only has the major highways on it. We got lost a few times and had to backtrack our way off paved roads that turned into dirt roads. One of the highlights for Cheryl was the â€śDevilâ€™s Bridgeâ€ť. It is a natural bridge that has been created over the centuries from the crashing waves. We didnâ€™t see anyone stupid enough to stand on the bridge while we were there but wouldnâ€™t be surprised if there havenâ€™t been a few accidents there.
Our daughter Christine came to visit for her spring break. Cheryl and Christine went zip-lining thru the treetops and had a great time. We spent time enjoying the beach. On one of our drives around, we scouted out the place where we got engaged, Coconut Grove Restaurant in Dickenson Bay. That was pretty cool visiting there again after 11 years. Of course we did the sightseeing at Falmouth and English Harbours on the south side of Antigua. We have some pretty good pictures of the very large sailboats in Falmouth that we will post when we get back to â€śfreeâ€ť wifi. The wenches on these boats cost as much as twenty thousand.
We listen to some of the local net traffic on our SSB radio. There is the Coconut Telegraph that we listen to and have gotten to know some of the boats that report in. It is a way for us to get to know other cruisers who are in the same anchorages. There is also a retired meteorologist that gives a free, local weather forecast each morning. This is a nice addition to our expert meteorologist Chris Parker who gives a broader marine forecast for our area.
After Christine left, we were going to start heading south but changed our minds. We had heard many wonderful things about Barbuda that we decided we definitely did not want to miss this opportunity to go. Barbuda is about 30 miles north of Antigua but is part of the same country so there is no need to clear out of Antigua first. We are writing this blog in our beautiful anchorage at Cocoa Point. The sandy beaches are the prettiest we have seen since leaving the Bahamas. The sand is super fine and when you walk on it you sink in several inches. Even flat-footed Ed was able to walk a couple of miles barefoot!! We met up with the crew from Catalina Sunshine again the first few days we were here. We shared a taxi ride with them to take a tour of the frigate birds. While we are not avid bird watchers, this was a real treat. The frigate bird sanctuary on Barbuda is the largest in the Caribbean. During mating season, the male will puff out a sac from his neck showing a billowy red balloon. The female frigates pick their mate for the season and will lay one egg which the male will incubate while the female provides the food. Once the baby bird is hatched, both parents take care of the baby for a number of months before the male frigate migrates to the Galapagos where he will mate with a female frigate there. The frigates pick new mates each mating season. During our tour we spotted one poor male frigate who had not yet been picked by a female this late in the season and he was displaying his red balloon in hopes of getting lucky. Poor bastard.
The island of Barbuda has wild donkeys and horses that roam the island. While we were told the horses near the village are not mean, the donkeys certainly are. We spotted many of these donkeys during our taxi ride and also their droppings on the beach.
The anchorage is very clear but because the sand is so fine the waves stir up the sand in the water making is difficult to see the bottom. Sea turtles swim around us in abundance. Hopefully, we will get some good pictures of them but so far, nothing worth posting. After being in Jolly Harbour for almost a month, we noticed barnacles and other yucky stuff growing on our prop and boat bottom. We took advantage of our good anchorage here in Barbuda and scrubbed the bottom. What a chore. There is definitely a new bottom job in our future. We have also re-varnished the teak eyebrow that we have neglected for a few months with seven fresh coats. While not a laborious task, it is time consuming with all the taping, sanding, varnishing, coat after coat then re-taping and starting over the process to build up the varnish layers to protect it from the sun.
We are back in Antigua with plans to head south soon. Putting up pictures now.