Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Tuesday 27th March


Tyrrel Bay
Carriacou

12 27.328 N
61 29.291 W

The morning dawned overcast and windy, there was no way we were going snorkeling so we hauled the outboard into its cradle for transit and hoisted the dinghy up onto the davits and secured it. There was no sign of snorkeling activity coming from either Gypsy Palace or MT Nest – it was a unanimous decision! Mike and Terri radioed to say that they had decided to stay put for a few days and explore the rest of the Tobago Cays – a great idea and one I would have liked to join them in but we were on a time schedule and we had to get to Tyrrel Bay. They dinked over to say goodbye, we hope to meet up with them again but just incase we don’t we wish them fair winds, following seas and safe travel where ever it takes them. Not long after they had left us we were hauling up the anchor and following Gypsy Palace out of the anchorage’s southern passage heading towards Carriacou. Our trip for the day was to be quite short, only about 15 miles but we had to make 2 stops on the way – first at Union in order to check out of St. Vincent and The Grenadines, then at Hillsborough to check in with the Grenada authorities. Gerry and I decided that the distances didn’t warrant us getting the main sail out; it’s much harder for us than it is for Gypsy Palace as we do not have in mast furling and they do. We pulled out our jib and motor sailed all the way to Union, the winds were actually perfect for sailing and Gypsy Palace sailed all the way. We were doing up to 8 knots most of the way so it was a very quick trip. We pulled into the reef surrounded harbour at Union Island and dropped our anchor, as it didn’t set properly the first time we did it again with a better result. The plan was for the men to go ashore and check us out whilst Lorie and I sat on anchor watch, the holding in this harbour is notoriously bad and we didn’t need either boat to drift down onto the reef whilst we were ashore. The guys took off and Lorie and I sat in the cockpits chatting on the headsets – we could hear each other most of the time, it just cut out when the boats swung apart. It wasn’t long before the guys were back on the boats and we were hauling up the anchor to head a little further south. Again we just flew the jib and motor sailed whilst Gypsy Palace sailed. We arrived in Hillsborough Bay and set the anchor again. Then we followed the same course of action as we did at Union Island – they guys went to check in whilst Lorie and I stayed aboard to anchor watch. It seemed like they were gone for ages, and when they returned Gerry said that they had arrived 5 minutes after the office closed for lunch so they had gone to the bank and watched the cricket until the office reopened. Australia was playing the Windies so we had a vested interest in the game. When Gerry checked us in the official joked with him about charging us a fee as the Aussies were batting very well and looking like winners – there was still a lot of cricket to be played though. We changed the courtesy flag over to the Grenada flag and then hauled our anchor back up and motored around the point of the bay and into the next bay – Tyrrel Bay which was our destination. We dropped our anchor and Gerry quickly got the dinghy down and set it up for a trip into the Haul out yard. I stayed aboard, reading and making sure we didn’t drag anchor as we were pretty close to the boats on either side of us. Gerry took ages to return – had a couple of beers and watched the cricket until rain stopped play. The haul out was to be on Thursday so we had a couple of nights to relax and work out what we wanted to do whilst the boat was being anti fouled. Gerry had also arranged for us to stay at a chalet near the yard, Dale and Lorie had very kindly offered for us to stay on their boat for the duration of the haul out but we didn’t want to put them to any trouble, we know that Lorie would have spent hours making the boat clean and tidy for us to stay with them (!?) and we didn’t want her to go to all that hassle. The rest of the afternoon was spent reading books and studying eyelids. Early in the evening we all dinked into the local pizza place and had a few drinks with our pizzas. As we sat eating, a herd of cattle wandered along the waterfront, unattended. They were obviously making their way back to where ever home was for them, it was just surprising to see them wandering along the beach unattended but they had obviously made this trip many times and ignored anyone that they went past.
When we had eaten our fill of pizza we boxed up the leftovers and took the dinghies back out to our boats where we hunkered down to a windy night.

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Monday 26th March


Tobago Cays
St Vincent & The Grenadines


12 37.756 N
61 21.451 W

I woke up migraine free this morning thank goodness, I feel sure I took enough analgesia to kill both me and the migraine, happily for me only the headache didn’t make the new day. For the first time in a while Gerry cooked us breakfast, it was a real treat. Then we lounged around reading books until Dale came by to say that they were going snorkeling and were we coming. At the time we had the water maker going so we said we would join them when it was done. Moments later Mike radioed us to see if we wanted picking up to go snorkeling – we told them the same story and said we would be out there in about 20 minutes or so. Gerry went to put the dink into the water as it was still up on the davits, next thing I hear is a lot of swearing (imagine that), the pin on the snap shackle that we use to lift the outboard up with had broken. We spent a little while finding something to replace it with, Gerry getting angrier and swearing even more as one thing after another didn’t quite work out – too much haste and all that! In the end we used a carabineer and got the dink, outboard, snorkeling gear and ourselves out to the dinghy mooring ball off the reef. We geared up and dropped into the water but not before we saw Terri and then Mike who was snorkeling and pulling his dink along at the same time – it gives a whole new meaning to towing the dink! We snorkeled around the nearby reefs seeing many different tropical fishes and lots of coral, including a huge head of Brain coral about a meter across. Gerry had the camera and took a few pictures but it doesn’t give the effect of what we were actually seeing. The current was fairly strong and after a while we began to tire so we climbed back in the dink – always a sight to behold, I snapped a picture of Gerry just as he struggled up onto the side of the dink – not his best side! Once we were back in the dink we caught sight of Dale and Lorie heading back towards us, we met up and chatted about what we had seen. None of us had seen the turtles, Dale said they were usually seen around the other side and we could beach the dinks there and snorkel off of the beach. We decided to do it then rather than later as the clouds were gathering and it looked like it would rain shortly. So off we went and beached our dinks on a glorious tropical sandy beach, tying them up to the palm trees so they didn’t get washed away. Then it was back on with the fins and masks and off snorkeling around the beach area. Several small boats full of tourists were in the area pointing at what must have been turtles. We swam away from them and suddenly I caught sight of a turtle eating on the sea bed, I surfaced and called everyone over and we spent some time swimming along with the turtle. What a great experience, it seemed to not mind our presence, but we did take care not to get too close and not to upset it. Lorie had her camera, hopefully she got some good pictures, we had left our camera in the dink so we are relying upon her! Gerry spotted the next turtle and we all followed it for a while enjoying the experience. Eventually we began to get cold and tired, it was time to get out of the water, have a hot shower and some lunch before having an afternoon siesta.
The cocktail hour was to be on MT Nest so I prepared some food to take along and at 17.30hrs we made our way over to MT Nest where we joined the rest of our travel companions for a pleasant evening of good food and company. Mike serenaded the anchorage with a few tunes on his saxophone at sundown, it’s really quite a haunting sound across the water in the quiet of the evening and we will miss his playing when we go in different directions. We discussed our plans for the next day; Gerry and I were heading to Carriacou where we have made plans with a haul out place to anti foul our hull. Dale and Lorie were coming along with us but Mike and Terri had no wish to spend the week or so it would take to do the job in Carriacou. They were unsure about what they were going to do, possibly stay around the Tobago Cays for a while longer, maybe join us towards the end of the week, possibly join another boat in the anchorage that was heading towards Trinidad – they were going to sleep on the decision. We agreed to go snorkeling in the morning prior to leaving if the weather had improved. Eventually we made our way back to our boat for the night.

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Sunday 25th March


Tobago Cays
St Vincent & The Grenadines


12 37.756 N
61 21.451 W

I woke up with a dreadful migraine about an hour before we were going to leave Bequia, taking a couple of analgesics I dressed and made my way out on deck. Gerry had done most of the preparation for leaving and it was just before 08 00 hrs that we began to pull in the line attached to the mooring ball. A charter catamaran was circling the mooring ball next to us and when they saw we were about to leave they decided to wait and take our mooring ball instead, it meant that they were getting in our way but we dropped the mooring and motored out around them and then headed out of the bay. Once clear of all the anchored / moored boats we turned into wind and hoisted the mail sail – reefed to the first point then turned back on course and headed out into the sea. Once we had rounded the end of the bay we could fly the jib as well so that went out, reefed as it was supposed to be a bit gusty. Dale and Lorie were traveling with us whilst Mike and Terri were going to follow later in the day as they planned to attend the morning mass at the church at the top of the hill. The wind was blowing at about 17 knots and we turned off the motor to sail the short distance to Tobago Cays. We had a great sail, it did get quite gusty with winds up to 26 knots but the seas were quite pleasant at about 6 feet with good intervals.
At one point Gerry spotted a small pod of pilot whales just off to our port side and we radioed dale and Lorie to be on the look out for them.
Gerry was a bit disappointed that we didn’t get any higher than 9.6 knots of speed (we were surfing down waves to get this as our maximum hull speed is only 8.5 knots). There seemed to be quite a few boats making the same passage we were and of course as all sailors know – any 2 boats going in the same direction, it’s a race whether the other boat knows it or not! Gerry is pathetically competitive and was constantly grinning when we passed another boat, unfortunately whilst we can sail pretty well we loose ground when we have to drop the sails to motor into an anchorage – we only have a 44 horsepower engine and it does just enough to get us there. As we approached the Tobago Cays we pulled in our jib and then dropped our main sail as we weren’t too sure about the exact anchorage Dale intended us to go to. We followed Gypsy Palace in through the reefs and into the anchorage at Horseshoe reef. There were quite a few boats already at anchor and we made our way to the far side of them all and dropped our anchor in beautiful, crystal clear water. I still had the migraine and once we were happy with our anchoring I took some more tablets and went back to bed. Shortly after I had gone to bed the conservation people arrived to collect our fee for anchoring in the area $20 for 2 nights which Gerry paid. Mike and Terri arrived sometime during the afternoon and volunteered to collect Gerry and me for the evening cocktail session which Dale and Lorie were hosting. As 17.00hrs came around I was still feeling under the weather and decided that I would stay in bed and miss the cocktail session, I instructed Gerry on what to make for “take along” hors d’ouveres and then waved him off for the evening. Later he returned with a “take away box” incase I was feeling hungry, thanks Lorie I appreciate the thought. I ended up taking another lot of tablets before retiring for the rest of the night.

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Saturday 24th March


Admiralty Bay, Port Elizabeth
Bequia


13 00.635 N
61 14.405 W

Gerry and I had a slow start to the day, he went out to the dink and discovered a black mark on it, on further examination he discovered a squid had lept into the dink, squirted ink on it and then died - it was Gerry's second catch of the trip! We were relaxing in the salon when we were hailed from a dink outside, Mike, Terri, Dale and Lorie had tried to call us on the radio but we had our Generator running to charge the house batteries and had turned our radio off as you can’t hear it above the noise of the generator. They were going into town to catch the dollar bus and tour the island on it and wanted to know if we wanted to go along. We had plans to go into town and see if we could buy a clutch for our jib furling line, some fresh fruit and vegetables and we wanted to check out the scrimshaw shop so we declined, but arranged to meet up later for lunch. We weren’t far behind them in dinking into the town and after a brief verbal exchange with some young boys at the dock who wanted to “look after our dinghy” we walked to every marine supply store in the place. It wasn’t to be our day – we found no clutches in any of them. We then headed to the grocery store for some eggs and then as we made our way to the Rasta market for the vegetables we saw Mike and Terri buying bread. They had enjoyed the round island trip and were lucky enough (?) to see a recently caught whale – it is legal to catch 4 whales a year here, they were full of the tales about how the meat is harvested and cooked and how the fishermen were very knowledgeable about the whaling industry. Lorie was also close by and we walked to the Rasta market with her where we found Dale bartering; Mike and Terri went in the opposite direction as they wanted to find out about a jazz pianist who was playing at a local restaurant in the evening. We bought our fruit and vegetables and then decided that it was beer o’clock so we found a bistro and had lunch. After lunch it was time to return to our boats, we dropped Dale and Lorie off and made our way over to our boat to find that the boat boy who wanted to buy our old dink was waiting for us so that he could complete the transaction. The exchange of cash and dinghy went without a hitch and soon the boat boy was heading off with his newly acquired dinghy – he got a bargain but we were happy to off load the extra weight. Terri and Mike stopped by on the way to their boat to let us know that the pianist was indeed playing that night and that they had booked us all in for dinner at 19.00hrs – if that was OK with us (when is eating out ever a problem?) We arranged to meet up just before 19.00hrs so they could direct us to the dock for the restaurant. We turned the TV on to see if we could get any channels and low and behold we got the cricket broadcast live from St. Kitts. Australia playing South Africa no less! Gerry and I sat glued to the TV for the entire match, proud of the job that our fellow Aussies did in winning the game. We had just enough time to shower and change before it was time to meet up with the rest of the gang and make our way to the Gingerbread Restaurant. We were amongst the first to arrive but the place gradually filled. The pianist – Uncle Louis (a Scotsman) was in full swing when we arrived and was being accompanied by a dinner guest playing the violin, it was a pleasant start to our evening. We ate and drank our way through the entrée and the main course by this time the man playing the violin had left for the evening. Mike, a musician by trade had bought his saxophone along with him and made his way to the stage to perform as a guest artist alongside the pianist, he had played with the pianist in the past at another venue so knew he would be welcome. Mike even got to play the piano for a couple of pieces which he enjoyed as he misses not having a piano on his boat. One of the waitresses then had a turn and sang for us. We were royally entertained and all had a good time. Our evening ended with us all dinking back out to the boats after making arrangements for leaving in the morning.


Photo of Mike (saxaphone) & Uncle Louis (piano) from camera of Gypsy Palace.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Friday 23rd March


Admiralty Bay, Port Elizabeth
Bequia

13 00.635 N
61 14.405 W

Gerry was up and about early whilst I played possum and enjoyed a lay in. Just before 07.30hrs a boat boy came around selling bread, we didn’t need any but it was my indication that the time to get up had arrived. Moments after I had dressed we were called out onto deck by Kenmore, sure enough he had found us and presented us with a package containing the proofs, one framed shot and his price list for purchasing the photos, he said he would be back at 08.30 hrs to collect either the money or the package back if we didn’t want any of the photos. We were very pleased with the photos as they show us moving along at speed under sail, we quickly agreed that we should buy the package which included a CD of the proofs, and got our money ready to give to Kenmore when he returned. Our next callers appeared just on 08.00hrs, Dale and Mike were on their way into customs and wanted to know if Gerry was going with them; he hastily threw on a tee shirt, gathered our documents and his wallet and took off with them to try and clear us in.
I made water whilst he was gone and then paid Kenmore for the photos when he returned. Gerry returned with the news that we were going in a taxi to the Turtle sanctuary at 10.00 hrs; he also informed me that we had to return to the immigration office as the officers were busy dealing with a cruise ship that had come into the bay during the early hours of the morning. We took our documents back with us and joined Dale, Lorie, Mike and Terri at the dinghy dock and then proceeded to climb in the back of a truck with a canopy roof and bench seats along each side – this was our Taxi! Our ride to the Turtle sanctuary was fairly short and we were soon viewing the turtles in pools and peppering the guide with questions about them. I learnt quite a bit about them during the tour. Most of the turtles in the sanctuary are Hawksbill turtles which are native to the area but there were a few greenback turtles there which apparently are native to the waters around Mexico – I’m not quite sure how they came to be there. There were also some land turtles which were natives of Brazil wandering around in a pen. The ages of the turtles varied from 1 week old to 12 years old (this one was a pet) and the age groups were kept separate from each other. They seem to be quite aggressive towards each other and many of them had gentian violet painted on various pats of their bodies, this was to help heal the spots where they had been bitten by their peers. Our guide said that the average clutch of eggs for a turtle is 250 and that of these only half survive to adulthood. They don’t mate until they are 25years old and the only time that the females come ashore is to lay their eggs, the males never come ashore. The sanctuary returns the turtles to the water when they are old enough to fend for themselves and for the life of us neither Gerry nor I could recall what age that is but Lorie said it was 1 year old and Dale said it was 5 years old (obviously none of us paid enough attention!). I felt a little sorry for the 12 year old turtle that was a pet as the pool it was in didn’t seem big enough for it. We ended the tour, climbed back in the taxi and returned to the dock stopping on the way at a pottery. I didn’t find anything that I couldn’t live without at the pottery so it was a cheap trip. Back at the dock we slip up and Dale returned to his boat as he didn’t have his documentation with him whilst Lorie went to the bank, Gerry and Mike went to clear in at immigration and Terri and I went across to peruse the street market and collect maps from the information bureau. We all met back up a short while later and then went to see 2 shops that make wooden model boats, they were wonderful replicas of the real thing, I’m sure if we had somewhere to put it Gerry would have liked to purchase one of them. The second shop had a TV with the cricket playing, we thought we had lost Gerry for the day until Dale had the bright idea of saying loudly that the bar probably had the cricket on a wide screen TV – shop with no beer and cricket or bar with beer and cricket what a hard choice! We found a restaurant with a bar and cricket and ordered lunch whilst watching the Windies Vs Ireland match Lunch was very good and we all decided that it was time to return to our boats and do our own thing for the afternoon. We had invited everyone tour boat for cocktails at 17.30hrs so Gerry and I had to clear the cockpit which was looking rather dirty following our sail down to here and I had to prepare something to eat with our drinks. I made vegetable samosas from scratch, which turned out really well. Gerry had a problem getting the ice machine to work so we radioed Dale to bring ice with them, of course as soon as we had called them the machine worked perfectly! We spent a very pleasant evening sitting in our cockpit filling up on the various items of food that we had all contributed and drinking whatever took our fancy. When everyone left Gerry did the dishes whilst I typed up blog notes and downloaded the pictures from the camera.
Taxi photo from camera of Gypsy Palace

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Thursday 22nd March

Admiralty Bay, Port Elizabeth
Bequia


13 00.635 N
61 14.405 W

After our night out we were a little reluctant to get up in the morning but we managed somehow and had the boat all ready to leave by 06.50hrs. We notice that Gypsy Palace had their main sail up before leaving their mooring ball so Gerry began untying us from our mooring ball. We began motoring out of the bay, followed by Gypsy Palace and MT Nest, once clear of the bay we turned into wind and hoisted our main sail –reefed of course! That must have been the signal for the rain to start as it poured until we were clear of the peaks. We unfurled part of our jib and motor sailed for the first few miles as the wind was very light. It gradually picked up and we turned off the motor and began sailing. Our course for the day was to take us to the end of St. Lucia, across the St Vincent channel, down the coast of St. Vincent, across the Bequia channel and down part of the coast of Bequia to Admiralty bay where we were going to anchor for the next few days until the forecast high seas died back down. The trip was quite a mixed bag as far as sailing went; we had high (7-8 feet) waves for a while, wind gusts of up to 32 knots but sustained winds of 22 – 26 knots. We had 2 huge rain squalls which we could hardly see a thing through then we had incredibly hot sun which made everything humid and steamy. As soon as we got in the lee of St. Vincent Island the wind died to almost nothing the sea became flat, we didn’t have enough wind to even blow us along at 2 knots! We turned on the motor and furled away the jib, tightened the main up and motored for a while. We tried a couple of times to fly the jib before finally the wind came up again and then we had the jib out fully for a while, then reefed for a while, playing with it all the time to get the most speed out of the boat that we could. Once we reached the end of St. Vincent there were huge gusts of wind coming off the point and we were surfing down waves, reaching the dizzy speed of 10 knots at one point, but averaging 8 knots most of the time. Finally the wind clocked round to just off our nose but we still managed to do a respectable 7 knots heading into it. As we approached the entrance to Admiralty Bay we suddenly heard a strange noise – like an alarm going off, it had both of us looking for the source, we found it pretty quickly – a man in a dinghy was blowing a whistle to attract our attention. This man, Kenmore Henville, was harnessed in a standing position in his dinghy, bouncing through the 6 foot waves taking photos of yachts as they entered the area. He blew a whistle to let you know he was there so you could smile for the photos! After he had taken his shots of our boat he sped off towards the boat that was behind us. We furled our jib away, motored a bit further into the bay and then dropped our main sail. After a short motor we were getting close to the mooring field and decided to drop our anchor, after 2 attempts which we weren’t happy with (felt we would swing too close to the nearby boats if the winds got up) we gave up on the anchoring idea and asked one of the boat boys if there was a mooring ball available that we could take for 3 nights. Shortly after we were safely tied to a mooring ball, negotiating with the boat boy who wanted to buy our original dinghy from us – hopefully it is a done deal. We tidied up, put things away, took down our St. Lucia flag and raised the Q flag, watched Gypsy Palace come into the bay and anchor in very skinny water (they later moved), then it was time to dink over to MT Nest where we were invited to dinner. Terri and Mike had done a terrific job of making salad, lasagna and desert cake. We had a very pleasant evening chatting about our individual trips down to this point. Dale told us that Kenmore would find us in the morning and bring us the proofs of the photos he had taken and we could purchase them if we wanted to. We finally got back into our dink and returned to our boat for the night.
Photos of Orpailleur under sail by Kenmore Henville (Bequia)

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Wednesday 21st March





The Pitons, Soufriere
St. Lucia


13 49.168 N
61 04.056 W

At 08.00 hrs Gerry headed off into immigration to clear us out and buy a few grocery items that I needed. Meanwhile I loaded the blog, did the dishes, made the bed and tied down everything that moves when we are in transit. Once he returned to the boat we stowed the dinghy on the davits and prepared to leave for Soufriere. We hauled in the anchor and motored out of the inner harbour through the narrow channel into the outer bay. Once we had cleared the boats that were anchored in the outer bay we turned into wind and raised our main sail, with the first reef in place. Turing back onto our course we then pulled out the jib, again reefed as we were expecting a fair blow all the way to Soufriere. We turned off the motor and sailed down the coastline towards our destination. It was a pretty quick transit and a thoroughly enjoyable sail. At one point we were “dirty winded by 2 other boats but at the end of the day we arrived in Soufriere before both of them. As we approached Soufriere we were hounded by a couple of boat boys who wanted to help us tie up, we told them we were probably not going to stay. Dale and Lorie motored into the bay to check out moorings at the popular snorkeling spot just inside the harbour entrance, they discovered that there weren’t 2 mooring available so we made an instant decision to continue on to The Pitons and secure a mooring there with the possibility of dinking to the snorkeling spot. The Pitons are twin peaks with a small bay dividing them; it is a very picturesque place with some fabulous buildings on the hillside of the bay. Flanked by the 2 peaks the bay has a number of mooring balls which are looked after by the parks and conservation organization, there is of course a fee for the use of the mooring balls. The extra mile to the Pitons was worth while as we arrived to find plenty of free moorings and a boat boy eager to help us tie up to one. Dale and Lorie tied up first and then we tied up behind them with the help of the boat boy – he’s onto a good thing as he charges $5 to help and it takes about 3 minutes! He offered to take us on tours of the island and we had to tell him that we had done it all the day before; he did manage to get me some bananas, mangoes and tomatoes delivered to the boat, and not too expensive. It was a little rolly in the bay but considering the wind outside we didn’t think it was too bad. By the time we had tied up we decided that it was too windy to dink around and snorkel so we made some water and read the guides for the area. Gerry found an advert for a place called The Bang – a restaurant that had entertainment every Wednesday night. As it was Wednesday we decided to investigate, Gerry took the dink into the dock to make enquiries, it took 2 trips in the end but he booked the 4 of us in for dinner and the show. Meanwhile MT Nest had finally got their water maker problem sorted out and radioed to say they would be joining us in The Pitons mooring field if there was a mooring available. Dale and Gerry scouted one out and sat on the mooring in the dinks until MT Nest arrived and tied up. Mike and Terri didn’t want to go ashore as they were tired so it ended up with just Dale, Lorie, Gerry and I dinking in to The Bang for dinner. The place is called The Bang as it smack bang in between the 2 peaks which make up The Pitons. The Bang, originally built and owned by Lord Glenconner was opened in 1995 by his friend, Princess Margaret with a huge party which apparently made the place famous. The party tradition on Wednesday nights continues and we enjoyed a set meal followed by an evening of entertainment which comprised of acrobats, fire eating, limbo, dancing and music. The fire eaters got the audience to participate by pulling people onto the show floor and getting them to run burning torches over them. I was about the 20th person to be pulled onto the floor and I had to run the torch over the fire eater’s almost bald head, up his arm and along the sole of one foot. Once we had tried our best to burn the fire eaters all the audience participants were made to join a conga line and dance around the place, pulling almost everyone else into the conga line as we went. I was directly behind the fire eater that was leading the conga line and suddenly a limbo pole appeared and we were expected to limbo beneath it – to say the least it was quite a laugh. I did it once, with assistance and then bolted to our table to grab the camera and record Dale, Lorie and Gerry limboing (is that a word?). It was an evening that we wouldn’t have missed for anything, we all had a great time and eventually made our way back to our boats in the dink, as it wasn’t a very bright moonlit night the peaks cast vast shadows over the bay – it was a good job we had our anchor lights on or we may never have found the boat in the dark. I stunk of Kerosene at the end of the night but it was worth it, it made a very nice change to see some live entertainment.
Photo of Gerry limboing from camera of Gypsy Palace

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tuesday 20th March

Rodney Bay
St. Lucia


14 04.435 N
60 56.997 W


Gerry was up early to run the Generator and try to get the freezer temperature down. Once I had surfaced he took off in the dink to see if the propane refill store was open yet – who was he kidding?! Naturally it wasn’t so we were going to have to try and get back from our island tour before the store closed in the evening. During the night a tri-maran just a bit further over from where we are anchored went up in flames around midnight. Lorie had seen it catch fire as she was in their cockpit typing at the time. When Gerry came back to collect me and then Dale and Lorie he detoured over to the boat so that we could have a look at the damage – it was dreadful, on hull was completely burnt out, all the rigging had gone and the rest was pretty charcoaled. Lorie told us that it happened in the short time of just 30 minutes and even though the flames were dowsed it kept re igniting. It was a sorry sight to behold, we thought it was lucky that none of the boats near it caught fire. After detouring to look at it we docked the dinghy and met up with Terri and Mike from MT Nest and went in search of our tour guide. CJ (Chris) was to be our guide for the day, we were doing a trip all around the island hitting the highlights. Mike negotiated the cost down a little and we took off in a very nice, clean, air conditioned 16 seat bus. Chris told us that the fire on the tri-maran was arson, apparently the owner has upset some local people with his building of a new restaurant and they took it out on his boat, as yet the culprits haven’t been caught. Our tour took us Southwards towards the capital of Castries where we saw that a Carnival cruise ship had docked. From this point onwards our tour coincided with the tours being undertaken by the cruise ship passengers so at each stop it was a crush to get the best pictures and we were constantly harassed by souvenir sellers. We stopped at several beautiful viewing spots, taking pictures of the bays that they overlooked – ones which we would possibly be anchoring in over the next day or two. We made our way around the coast via Marigot, Canaries, Anse Chastanet to Soufriere where we visited The Diamond botanical Gardens, baths and waterfall. The place was lovely but I have to say that I didn’t think it was as nice as the botanical gardens in Deshaise or the Emerald Pool in Martinique. Then it was time for lunch which we ate in a small local restaurant, it was very good food and cheap. After lunch we were back in the bus and moving on to the Sulphur Springs which are the result of volcanic action. In 1766 a volcano erupted here, blowing the top off of the mountain and leaving the exposed dish shaped caldera with barren, brightly coloured earth, bubbling pools of hot black liquid and huge spurts of extremely unpleasant smelling steam (it smells like rotten eggs). The volcano is still considered to be an active one even though it has not erupted for the past 200 odd years. It was quite fascinating to see the bubbling pools and steam, apparently the temperature of the pools is high enough to cause second degree burns as one unfortunate tour guides found out when he fell into one of them. After doing the tour of the “walk in volcano” it was back on the bus and a short while later we were climbing out again to view The Pitons from the Ladera Resort. This resort overlooks the forest out to the sea between the two Pitons and is just spectacular. There is a bar and lounge which has views that take your breath away. Apparently the cost of the resort rooms will also take your breath away! The Pitons are two mountains right on the coast which are separated by a bay, they are not the largest mountains on the island but are possibly the most spectacular. After taking our photos of the Pitons we returned to the bus and began to head East and then North along the coast road back towards Rodney Bay. The Eastern side of the island didn’t have so many interesting things to see, the roads were very windy but the scenery was nice and we got some great views of the Atlantic – looking quite revolting, glad we weren’t out there sailing! We made it back to the dock by 17.10hrs, paid Chris for our day out and, after collecting our propane tank, headed straight into the bar at Scuttlebutts for a drink and a light dinner. Once we were all filled to capacity we jumped in the dinks and made our way to our boats. We turned on the generator and then joined Dale, Lorie, Terri and Mike on Gypsy Palace for a nightcap (admittedly an early nightcap but we were tired!). After this it was back to our boat, type up blog notes and check the emails before going to bed

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Monday 19th March


Rodney Bay
St. Lucia

14 04.435 N
60 56.997 W

The day dawned and the separation of tasks began. Gerry and Dale took off into town to clear us in; they left early as the office was supposed to open at 08.00hrs. Lorie and I stayed aboard our boats. I spent the time alone doing a multitude of cleaning jobs, polished the woodwork, did the dishes, made the bed and then sat down to type up some blog notes. We had discovered the free internet connection here but it is painfully slow at loading anything so I didn’t get too much done. A couple of boat boys came by selling fruit and vegetables, I didn’t have any money as Gerry had yet to get some out at the ATM so couldn’t restock my fruit basket, still they are around every day so there will be another time. When Gerry returned he told me that the customs office hadn’t opened on time and that by the time it did open there was a rather long queue for clearing in and / or out. Once he got into the office the clearing in was pretty quick. He and Dale had also checked out where to get our propane tank refilled and where we could pick up some fresh water in our jerry can, oh and they had locater the water world chandlery. As soon as he got back Gerry collected our propane tank and water jerry can and returned to the dock to get them filled. The propane tank would need to be left for a day – we could collect it in the morning. The water can was filled immediately after some discussion – the minimum charge for water was $6 for 100 gallons and as our jerry can only holds 5 gallons it would have meant a lot of trips (plus we don’t have 100 gallons in onboard tank capacity anyway!) he ended up paying 30 cents for the 5 gallons – it was hardly worth writing out the paperwork for it! By the time he returned to the boat the second time it almost lunchtime and he had arranged with Dale to go ashore for lunch at the local Roti shop. We took separate dinks into the dock and met up for lunch, a quick browse around the souvenir shops and a longer browse around the Water world chandlery – not that they had anything we needed. We then returned to our boats, Dale and Gerry heading off with tools in hand to see if they could help Mike ( MT Nest) find what was wrong with his water maker. I spent the afternoon mending stuff on the sewing machine – seam that had come undone on clothing and Lorie’s American flag. The guys returned later in the afternoon with the news that they had been unable to solve the problem – it was going to need an expert to find and fix the problem. We agreed to go back ashore for our evening meal and arranged to go together in one dink. Just before 17.00hrs Dale and Lorie came and collected us and off we went. We had heard good reports about a tandoori restaurant a little further around the bay and decided to give the place a try. We jumped in a taxi and after a short ride were deposited outside the Razamataz tandoori restaurant. It was still a little early so we had to sit at the bar and have a drink and as it was happy hour we got 2 for the price of 1. We perused the menu whilst still sober and selected a variety of dishes, by the time we got our first course we were beginning to feel well oiled. The food was delicious, and of course we had ordered enough to feed a small army. We did our best to finish it all but I’m afraid we failed so we couldn’t have any desert. By the time we paid the bill the taxi for our return trip to the marina had arrived so we all pilled into it and were driven back to the dinghy dock. In retrospect we should have walked off some of the dinner as we didn’t sleep that well due to over full tummies. Dale dropped us off at our boat and arranged that we would collect them in the morning for the trip into town where we were going to be going on a tour of the island for the day.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Sunday 18th March


Rodney Bay
St. Lucia

14 04.435 N
60 56.997 W


Hi Ray Lopez, glad to hear you are reading my drivel! You are right about the flounder, it is much easier to spot if you click on the photo as this enlarges it - the flounder becomes obvious then! Say Hi to the dock from us and keep reading - it makes me feel good.

Lorie and I took the new dink into the dock first thing in the morning, Lorie drove it as I am pretty bad at steering the dink – it has a mind of its own I’m sure! We were going to return the hire car and then do a little grocery shopping before we left La Marin. We arrived at the hire car place to find that they were open but the door was locked and there was no sign of the lady that runs it. We waited and waited finally just about an hour later she appeared with several people in tow from a boat. Apparently she had gone to pick them up as they wanted a hire car but she hadn’t left a note or anything to say where she had gone or how long she would be. Smoke was almost coming out of my ears by the time she checked our car back in and returned my deposit. Lorie had taken off to find the bakery whilst I returned the car and we met up as soon as I had finished with the paperwork. We decided to give the grocery shopping a miss as we were now running very late and we knew the guys wanted to leave so we just returned to the dinghy dock, collected the dinghy and made our way back to our boats. Soon after we were hauling in anchors (ours was a little difficult as a boat had anchored over top of us and we had to maneuver around it to pull in our anchor) and motoring out of the harbour. Once we had cleared the harbour entrance we turned into wind and hoisted our main sail (reefed) then turning back to course unfurled the jib (also reefed), cut the motor and began sailing towards St. Lucia, about 23miles away. We had the wind mainly on our beam and raced along doing an average of 6.5 knots, we saw 8.3 knots of speed at one point – our maximum hull speed, this of course delighted Gerry. A couple of sail boats went down our windward side and “dirty aired” us but we still managed to arrive at St. Lucia within minutes of them – not that we were racing of course! Despite having a full jib and a reefed main Gypsy Palace came in behind us, it generated much discussion as to why we seem to be able to out sail them every time – I think it must be to do with all the shoes Lorie has on her boat! But it’s good to see that an older boat like ours is competitive (if you were racing of course!) Once we dropped the sails and began motoring Gypsy Palace took the lead and guided us into the harbour, stopping first at the fuel dock to replenish our diesel tank. Then it was time to drop the anchor in the small bay right inside the harbour, rather than in the bay on the outside. The bay doesn’t seem to get much of a tidal flow so we decided that we wouldn’t make any water here. Friends of Dale and Lorie had anchored in the outer bay and after a call on the radio we all dinked over to their catamaran for cocktail hour, stories and lies. The hour ended up being two – as it always seems to and then we decided to go into a nearby bar for a light dinner. The bar had the Sky sports channel running on the TV so Gerry was immediately glued to the TV. The world cricket series is currently being played in St Lucia so there was much talk about the cricket surrounding us, especially in the light of the sacking of the England Captain. Dale and Lorie are not sure about the cricket rules (try explaining them from scratch), so we tried to enlighten them, our cause wasn’t helped by a couple of the Barmy Army fans who were dressed in female clothing and acting like prats! Anyway as we were all pretty tired from the transit we soon returned to our boats and comfort of bed.

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Saturday 17th March


La Marin
Martinique


14 27.737 N
60 52.127 W

The day dawned bright and sunny, Dale came over to our boat and collected Gerry so that the 2 of them could go and clear customs and do “boy shopping”. After they had taken off I did some cleaning and polished the woodwork – I just can’t believe how dusty and dirty the inside of the boat gets considering that we aren’t near land most of the time. Any way after finishing the chores I radioed Lorie to make arrangements for the day, we were going to hire a car and take a drive to see the botanic gardens and anything else that took our fancy. I then took my book p into the cockpit to wait for the guys to return. I’d only been there for a few minutes when I heard the put-put of Dale’s dink heading back. When I caught sight of them I had to hide a grin, they were towing a bright yellow dinghy behind Dale’s dinghy. Now as only Rose will be able to appreciate, our dinghy can be a little wet when the waves hit it (Rose and I always got soaked sitting in the front whilst Mark and Gerry stayed dry by hiding behind us!). Without the extra bodies in our dinghy Gerry and I sit on opposite sides to balance it and he has been getting wet as well, poor thing! Anyway the previous day had apparently been the last straw – he had gotten wet just one time too many so he went out and bought a new dinghy with a curved bow in the hopes of making the ride a bit drier. This bright yellow dink was his latest proud possession. You’ll all be surprised to know that I didn’t say a thing! I just tied it up when they threw the line to me and took the bags of other purchases down below – these were things that we had decided that we needed to replace stuff we had either lost or used, like filters. Gerry very quickly transferred the outboard and other essential stuff to the new dinghy and then set off around the harbour to test it out – boy with a new toy! I can only say that I was surprised that he didn’t buy an even bigger new dinghy than the one he came back with. Shortly after this Lorie came and picked me up in their dinghy and the two of us made our way into the dock having arranged to meet the guys later in the afternoon / early evening, calling them by radio when we returned. Once ashore we enquired at 3 places for a hire car, they were not cheap here but we eventually settled on one and handed over the plastic card. I was to be the driver as Lorie somehow had it in mind that the cars drove on the left hand side of the road (they didn’t) so I began the drive whilst Lorie navigated. We had a pleasant drive and made our way directly to Le Jardin de Balata, a botanical garden which was privately established in 1982. By the time we arrived there it was lunchtime but we decided to go straight into the gardens and then have lunch afterwards. We paid out entry fee and began to tour the gardens, it was completely different to the one that Gerry and I toured in Deshaies, this one was very much more geared towards trees, ferns and bromeliads. There were several lily ponds and some breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. Near the entrance / exit they had set up several hummingbird feeders and there was a continuous flurry of little birds feeding from them. We took lots of photos but many of them didn’t come out as the birds are just so fast but we did get one or two that were reasonable. The garden had numbered the plants and we were given a “cheat sheet” so that we could identify the plants as we went – very useful for noting plants that we might want in our gardens at a later stage. It appeared that the garden was set amongst rainforest, and a lot of the dead tree stumps had been utilized to attach (I don’t think they were grafted on) various plants to, it was very effective and made for a terrific garden. As we wandered around we came across a group of people engrossed in something on one of the palm trees, when we got to the tree we found that they had been photographing a huge spider, which of course we took pictures of too. By the time we had finished our tour of the garden and headed out to the café just outside it was almost 15.00hrs and to our disappointment the café was closed – we were starving and had to make do with a bottle of coke and an ice cream – good but not really very satisfying. We returned to the car and tried to decide what else we could see, preferably on the way back home. We made a stop at the replica of Sacre Coeur – it was a smaller version of the famous church in Paris with equally stunning views, unfortunately it was a little cloudy and not good for photos. As we finished our viewing of the church a wedding party arrived and we were lucky enough to see the bride who looked beautiful. We hastily left so as not to be intruding on the wedding itself and headed down the mountainous road back towards the freeway and La Marin. We had noticed an advertisement for “Potterie Village” and decided that we had just enough time to make a detour there before returning home. It was a short drive off the freeway and then down an unpaved road, we were beginning to think that we were wrong in our expectations of the place when suddenly we came into the village and there were several small shops. We stopped and spent the next hour or so browsing around this small craft center which was just the sort of place that the guys would have had to find a bar to fortify themselves whilst Lorie and I foraged for “things”. We each made a couple of purchases, admired the work of the artists and when we had seen all the shops we returned to the car. We drove back to La Marin and parked, I radioed the guys but got no reply so we did the only thing you could do – went to the bar nearest the dock and sure enough there they were, downing a beer ( they claimed it was their first!?). We chastised them for not answering the radio, tormented them with “stories” of things that were going to be delivered to our boats in the morning, joined them for a drink and listened to the tales of what they had been fixing whilst we were out enjoying ourselves. Dale had located the source of the water leak on his water maker and had changed out the pump whilst Gerry had changed the engine oil on our boat; I think Lorie and I had the better day! We chose to eat at the restaurant attached to the bar; the food was OK but nothing special. Eventually we took our dinks back to the boats for the night; much discussion had taken place about a name for our new dink – custard bullet, OP banana, banana fender (a variation on Queenslander nick name of banana bender), yellow peril etc. I don’t think it matters too much as we still get a bit wet and I’m sure that Gerry will want a bigger and better one if that continues.

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Friday 16th March


La Marin
Martinique


14 27.737 N
60 52.127 W


A bit of an easier start to the day, we were going to be leaving at 08.00hrs but as we were ready to go we left about 15 minutes earlier. Dale and Lorie began heading out of the anchorage whilst we were hauling up the last of our anchor. I was motoring slowly forward whilst Gerry hauled it in when suddenly he yelled into the headphones to stop and back up very slowly. I did as asked and he told me that we had a cable coming up with the anchor, this could have been a major problem but it appeared to be an old cable which wasn’t attached at either end. Gerry managed to hook it back off the anchor and dropped it back into the water and we were able to then haul the rest of the anchor back in and motor out of the anchorage. As we reached the outside Gerry hoisted the main sail with its usual first reef in place. The weather forecast for the day said that we should expect squalls with winds in the range of 20 – 25 knots but relatively small seas. Our journey for the day was to be 35 miles to the anchorage at La Marin at the southern end of Martinique. As we left St. Pierre the squalls began and it began to rain almost straight away though it didn’t last long and we were soon complaining about the humidity in the cockpit. Once the first squall cleared we unfurled the jib in the hope of being able to sail at least some of the way. The wind was just off the nose and we fiddled around trying to sail but in the end we motor sailed for the first part of the trip. Eventually though the wind clocked around just enough to allow us to turn off the motor and sail for a while which was quite pleasant. We weren’t able to get the speed up to the dizzy heights of yesterday but managed a respectable 6 knots for most of the time. I decided to try out the fishing gear again and threw the line in the water at 09.00hrs and spent the next 5 hrs watching it drag in the water behind us teasing the fish but not luring them close enough. As we got closer to the southern end of the country we had to make a turn towards the East – guess where the wind was coming from? So we furled the jib away and began to make our turn in order to cut between Diamond rock and the mainland. With the wind now directly on our nose and the swell hitting us from every direction it was time to reel in the fishing line and stow it away for another day. The seas between the rock and the mainland were pretty fierce and we were bashing into them at an alarming rate. The waves were coming over the bow and spray coming into the cockpit it was very uncomfortable and forced our speed down to about 3 knots – it was almost like we were going backwards at times. Gerry changed course again and headed us further away from our destination and closer to Diamond rock in the hope of making it a smoother run in the end. At we got closer it was time to tack again and steering as close as we dared to the rock we transited through the gap and out the other side where we were glad to find that the sea was a little calmer but still hitting us head on. With only a couple of miles left to go we continued to motor towards St Anne and La Marin. We got to about a mile away and a stupid man in a sailboat suddenly tacked across in front of us for no obvious reason and then yelled at us that he had fishing lines in the water! Gerry was less than impressed as we had to alter course and slow down to avoid getting this idiot’s fishing lines wrapped around our propeller, I bet you can imagine what the language was like! If this man had tacked 2 minutes later he would have gone behind us and there would have been no problem. Dale who was traveling behind us at the time saw it happen and was as astonished as we were that the man had tacked when he did, it was so unnecessary, still you can’t anticipate what every idiot will do. Shortly after this we were at the entrance to St Anne and La Marin, as Dale and Lorie had been here before they overtook us near the entrance and led the way into the vast harbour. La Marin is the largest yachting center we have seen for a while, there were boats everywhere. We managed to find a decent space to stop and dropped the anchor. It was then time to have a very late lunch and tidy away the transit gear. We had just one small mishap this trip, one of the blocks on the main sheet traveler was going to need replacing as one of the inner wheels had broken – as its made of plastic we suspect that it has been made brittle by the sun and just cracked under pressure. It was no big deal as we could still use it but as there are a few chandlers here it’s the ideal place to get the spares and replace lost and broken gear. We hoisted our Q flag and discussed going into town to clear in, as it was getting on for 16.00hrs by this time the customs were closed for the day so that was the end of clearing in for the day, it would have to wait until the morning. We all cleaned up and changed our clothes and then took the dinks into town to have a quick look around and then have drinks and dinner. Whilst the guys inspected the chandlers Lorie and I went and ordered the first round of drinks at the bar, by the time the guys joined us it was time for the second round. We asked about some sort of snack to tide us over until we had dinner, well we needed to soak up the alcohol with something, but to our surprise there was nothing available. Anything would have done, chips, nuts, fries, sandwiches but guess what we had to have in the end – ice cream! It was the only thing for sale. I have to say it was pretty good ice cream but it really didn’t do the trick and we were soon looking for somewhere to eat dinner. It’s quite difficult in the French countries to find anywhere that serves dinner before 19.00hrs but we found a decent place not too far from the dock, admittedly we were the first customers for the night but we were starving after all! We had a terrific dinner and then made our way back to the dinghy dock, collected our dinks and roared out to our boats, all agreeing that an early night was the order of the moment. Plans were made for the guys to go in and clear customs early in the morning and to do their “boat” shopping at the chandlers whilst Lorie and I had a sleep in.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Thursday 15th March


St. Pierre
Martinique


14 44.437 N
61 10.675 W

The alarm went off at 06.00hrs and we were up and dressed minutes later. We spent the hour until 07.00hrs getting ready to leave on the next part of our voyage of discovery. We were sailing further down the Caribbean chain to Martinique. Our trip was to be 50 Miles for the day and we had high hopes of being able to sail most of it. As we hauled our anchor up I radioed Gypsy Palace to make sure Dale and Lorie were up as we hadn’t seen them yet, they said they were ready and would be right behind us so we began our motoring out of the harbour. As we went we hoisted the main sail, with one reefing point in place. The wind was very light; not nearly enough to blow your hat off never mind fill the sails so we motor sailed for a while. Then we unfurled the jib and watched as it flapped about all over the place for a while until eventually it began to build up and we were finally able to sail. The motor was turned off and we had an excellent sail down the coast, reaching an average speed of 6.5 knots. At one point we even saw 8.1 knots which made Gerry ecstatic. I suggested that we throw the fishing line in the water as we were doing a good trolling speed, Gerry wasn’t keen but I did it anyway. For the first 2 hours we just watched the line do nothing, I then hauled it and changed the lure for the plain piece of cedar plug. It also had no effect for the next hour so I gave up on the idea of fresh fish for lunch and fixed us some cheese, pate and crackers. Just when we had finished lunch and given up all hope of ever catching a fish our advance warning system went off with a ping (this is a clothes peg holding part of the line to the safety line) and the remainder of the line shot out into the water. We were so excited; it was our first ever bite! Gerry continued to steer whilst I gently pulled at the line, it had a very definite resistance to it and as I began to pull it in suddenly the resistance eased and I knew that whatever was on the line had made its escape. It was very disappointing; I’d already planned how it was going to be cooked! I hauled the line in to check that the lure was still attached and found that whatever had taken the lure was now missing a tooth as one was firmly embedded in the cedar plug – I had proof that this one got away! I threw the line back in the water but there was to be no more strikes, just as well I had Turkey breast already out for dinner. About 5 miles from our anchoring spot the wind died on us and the rain clouds began to gather. We furled the sails away and closed everything up just as the rain began to descend on us. We motored around the harbour area for a while so that the boat got a fair soaking – free water is always good to wash the boat down with! Then finally when the rain clouds passed we motored into the anchorage, chose a spot, dropped our anchor and hoisted our Q flag – we weren’t going to check in here. I set about preparing dinner whilst Gerry anchor watched to make sure we weren’t going to drift. A quick look to see if there was an internet connection found us checking emails and phoning Abigail on the skype network phone. It was lovely to be able to chat with her and make sure she was OK. The only sad note was that she told us that she had been forced to put Charlie, our pet dog, down just the day before. We knew he was in failing health and that he wouldn’t be for this world much longer but I had hoped to get home in time to deal with this and relieve Abigail of the burden of having him put down. In the end Abigail did the right thing for Charlie and we are very glad that she looked after him so well for the years we haven’t been there. We know it was a hard decision to make and much as we will miss the stinky puppy we are glad he’s not suffering. After chatting with Abigail it was time to type up notes, make some water and settle in for an early night, we have a 35 mile trip ahead of us in the morning.

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Wednesday 14th March

Portsmouth,
Dominica


15 34.917 N
61 27.821 W

08.00hrs arrived and we were collected by our tour guide from yesterday, Andrew. It was a little calmer on the water first thing in the morning and we had no problem climbing into his wooden boat for the short trip into the dock. Dale and Lorie were already in the boat and we were very glad to hear that they had managed to retrieve their dinghy stern anchor using a boat hook. When we reached the dock we transferred to a 12 seat bus (just the four of us – the tour was only for us) and changed tour guides, this time it was Geoffrey – the man we originally employed. The changes didn’t end there though, he drove us out to the end of town where we had a change of driver – Geoffrey was unable to do the tour so he handed us off to another guide named Michael who preferred to be called Buddha (we never quite worked out why as he wasn’t fat and he wasn’t a Buddhist!) Anyway our new tour guide was very pleasant, he was a trained botanist and herbalist, he was also a Rastafarian with dreadlocks longer than my hair. The tour began in Portsmouth took us East wards around the coast line to Calabishie then south to Marigot, into the Carib territory, then down to the Emerald pool, the Layou river and finally back to Portsmouth via the West coast road. As we went along Buddha gave a running commentary on all the sights and flora that we encountered. He made frequent stops, jumping out of the bus and picking samples of herbs and spices to hand to us. The island certainly lives up to the title of “Spice Island” , we found lemongrass, bay leaves, spearmint, basil, cinnamon bark, nutmeg trees, almond plants, and probably half a dozen more that I’ve forgotten. It struck us that none of the spices were grown in a commercial scheme – they were all just wild along the side of the road – it’s an opportunity waiting to be grabbed! The main commercial crop was bananas and even this seemed to be a bit hap hazard. We stopped for several photo opportunities along the way, great views of the coastline and the various bays along the way. We stopped at the Carib Indian territory and did a “tour within a tour” which showed us the typical living arrangements and lifestyles of the Caribs. It was all very interesting, we sampled the cassava bread they were making and watched the women weaving the traditional basket wares which were for sale in their craft shop on site. Then it was time for lunch which we had at a place in the hills that we would never have found by ourselves, the food was all local produce and quite tasty. After lunch we continued our tour and headed to the Emerald pool, a natural fresh water pool deep within the rainforest. It was a 15 minute climb down a million steps to the pool which is fed from the rain runoff forming a waterfall into the pool at the base. It was cool and refreshing to be down at that level of the rainforest and of the four of us, only Dale was brave enough to take a dip in the pool (we think he did it to preserve the shower water on his boat!) I can’t say I was too keen on the million steps back to the top again but I made it. After the Emerald pool it was back in the bus and a continuation of the drive around the coast until we finally got back to Portsmouth. The whole day was quite fascinating and we thoroughly enjoyed it I think that having a botanist / herbalist doing the commentary for the tour was a stroke of luck for us, we learnt all sorts of things about plants that we didn’t know before the trip. We ended our day with purchases of some basket work, dinner at Big Papa’s restaurant and collecting our laundry. The joy of having clean clothes and bedding just about made the day!

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tuesday 13th March







Portsmouth,
Dominica


15 34.917 N
61 27.821 W

Dale and Gerry took off at 08 00hrs to try and get us cleared at customs, get some Eastern Caribbean dollars and check out internet, trash disposal and laundry. Whilst they were gone I ran the water maker and typed up blog notes. When Gerry returned just over an hour later he said the trip was partially successful – they found the laundry service, trash and internet but had to return to immigration as the officers were dealing with the cruise ships. It means an afternoon trip to the office again. He also said that we were booked to do the Indian River trip at 16.00hrs. Our next task was to bag up the laundry and dink it into Big Papa’s restaurant where it would be taken, washed, dried and folded then returned to us within 24hrs. As it had been a while since we had done any laundry it seemed like everything we possess on the boat needed washing. We had 3 large garbage bags full of dirty, salty clothes, towels and bedding – I fear it will cost us a fortune to retrieve it! Anyway we dropped it off but were told that the power was out so it may not get done today, just as well we are here for 3 days! We returned to our boat and after a lunch of left over lasagna from last night (just as good the second time around Laurie!) Gerry managed to get us hooked up to an internet provider for 24hrs. He then went with Dale back to the immigration office to complete the formalities stuff whilst I sent a couple of emails and loaded my recent blogs and photos. When Gerry returned he read for a while and then had a siesta whilst I continued to fiddle around with the internet – when you only have it for 24hrs you have to make the most of it! At 15.50hrs Gerry woke up – grumpy – and dashed about getting ready to be picked up for the river tour at 16.00hrs. Our tour guide, Andrew in this case, collected us from our boats and took us up the Indian River which is very narrow and shallow and can only be toured with a guide in a paddled boat, absolutely no outboards permitted. The tour lasted about 2 hours in total, was very peaceful, calm and the temperature was quite cool compared to the harbour we had come from due to the canopy formed by the trees. We saw some awesome trees and river scenery including one of the sites used in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean 2, this photo of the site is dedicated to the Creighton Island Pirates, we love and miss you all! Half way through the tour we stopped for refreshments at a purpose built turn around dock, the rum punch they served there was stronger than any I have drunk anywhere – it was like rocket fuel! Our tour guide presented Lorie and I with a small souvenir of the trip, palm leaves which had been hand woven into a bird and a fish – very clever stuff. The return trip saw us back on Dale and Lories’ boat from which we headed into the dinghy dock for dinner at the Blue Bay restaurant. It was a good ending to a lovely day. The only sour note for the day was that Dale’s stern anchor for his dinghy came adrift from the chain whilst we were in the restaurant and he is going to have to go swimming for it in the morning, hopefully it will still be in the same spot as he dropped it. We have made arrangements to go on a trip tomorrow which takes us inland somewhere and as we have to be up early I’m off to bed now.

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Monday 12th March

Portsmouth,
Dominica


15 34.917 N
61 27.821 W

We had agreed on an early start for the trip to Dominica and at 07.00hrs we were hauling up the anchor and hoisting the main sail in the drizzle. As we turned the boat towards the south the wind became very light and we wondered if it was going to be possible to sail but we stuck up the jib and reduced the revs on the motor. We spent the first hour motor sailing and moving along reasonably well and then the wind began to increase so we turned off the motor and sailed for a while until about 2 hours away from our destination we hit some rain squalls which killed the wind and we had to furl away the jib, drop the main and motor the rest of the way into Portsmouth, Dominica. About 2 miles outside the harbour we were approached by a man in a fishing dinghy ( Albert, one of the boat boys) wanting to sell us tourist services, we had already had a conversation with Dale about the “boat boys” that pester you to buy all sorts of things and the best plan was to employ one, Dale recommended the guy on Seabird, Geoffrey, that they used last time they were here so we thanked Albert who had come out in the pouring rain to offer his services but told him that we were using someone else. He cheerfully accepted this and wished us goodbye, I felt a bit guilty and just hoped that one of the boats following us would employ him, he deserved it for his willingness to come out in the bad weather. Once we were anchored in the harbour the guy that Dale had recommended came alongside and we employed him for our stay, he was followed by several other “boat boys” mostly operating on surfboards, with or without paddles, who offered to sell us fruits, bread, flags (we were flying our Q flag until we cleared in but we have a Dominica flag thank you), take our laundry and trash. We declined all services as it is cheaper to get all these things ashore and as we have to go ashore to clear in then we can sort all that out later. We settled in and watched several more boats come in and anchor after us, it seems to be a popular spot at the moment. After a short afternoon nap we went over to Gypsy Palace to have dinner with Dale and Lorie, this time it was my turn to make the salad and Lorie cooked delicious lasagna (? with her rotten meat). We were all pretty tired so we made it an early night, arranging for the men to go together to clear in tomorrow morning.
A final note on our engine – we had no problems during the period of motoring and the exhaust smoke seems to had vanished, hopefully the problem has been solved, fingers crossed!

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Sunday 11th March





Pigeon Island
Guadeloupe


16.10.00 N
61 47.00 W

As many of you know daylight saving came into effect sometime during the night, dutifully Gerry and I changed our clocks over and we were up and ready to leave when our clocks said 09.00hrs. As we hauled up our anchor, dale called us to say that they were right behind us. We motored out of the harbour and were pleased to note that the exhaust smoke seemed to have vanished, maybe we had cured our problem after all. Once clear of the harbour we hoisted the main sail with the first reef in it and unfurled the jib, turned towards our destination and turned off the motor. We had a very pleasant sail for the next couple of hours reaching our destination without having to motor until we needed to anchor. We chose to anchor near the beach and were a bit concerned to find that the anchoring gremlins were still with us – our anchor didn’t set on the first attempt. Dale and Lorie anchored just to the left of where we had chosen and had no problem so we tried again, it seemed to set but we weren’t sure so Gerry jumped in the water to dive the anchor, it was almost set – a short burst of reverse thrust and we were anchored. A quick radio call had us agreeing to go straight over to the nearby Pigeon Island for a snorkel. The area where we were staying was right next to the Cousteau national (marine) park and the Pigeon Island was one of the dive sites in the park so we expected it to be good. We loaded all the snorkeling gear into the dinks and took off to the island which was just a short distance away, once there we tied onto a mooring buoy and donned all the gear. This was our chance to try out our new underwater camera case, Gerry took control of the camera whilst I followed on behind him. We snorkeled all around one side of the island, and I have to say it was one of the best places we have seen this trip. The coral was still alive and there were all sorts of fish. We were lucky as there were very few other people in the water whilst we were there – we are sure that it is a very popular spot for both snorkeling and diving. Gerry took a few pictures, it obviously needs some practice but he did manage a couple of decent ones. In this final picture see if you can spot the flounder hidding against the rock - it is there! We would have liked to have done the rest of the island but we were getting chilled and it was starting to rain so we decide to get out of the water – itself a spectator sport! We have a small ladder which we use for climbing back into the dink from the water but even with the ladder it is often a difficult job. Gerry climbed in first, getting the giggles half way in which usually has disastrous effects, often ending with him falling back into the water. As I was behind him I pushed him into the dink and then took off my fins to follow him up the ladder, I managed to get onto the first step and then got stuck, Gerry had to give me a hand to haul me into the dink – I shot out of the water like a cork exploding from a bottle, both Dale and Lorie along with Gerry and myself found this incredibly funny and sat laughing at what must have been an horrendous sight. At least we were back in the dink and able to cast off and return to our boats for a hot shower and something to eat. Everyone had a short siesta and then it was time for sundowner drinks and dinner. I had been marinating some meat and invited Dale and Lorie to join us for dinner at 18.00hrs. It got to 18.50hrs and there was no sign of them so we radioed them to ask when they were coming as they were almost an hour late, we threw them into total confusion when we asked about daylight saving – they then told us that there is no daylight saving in the Caribbean. When we asked why they left Deshaies at 08.00hrs instead of 09.00hrs they said they thought we just wanted to get going earlier than we had planned – it was a misunderstanding and I could have stayed in bed for another hour! Anyway they came across to our boat, Lorie bought salad with her and we had an enjoyable meal together discussing our separate trips to here and our plans for the morning. We finally went to bed having turned the clocks back an hour again!

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Saturday 10th March

Anse Deshaies
Guadeloupe


16 19.776 N
61 48.771 W

I forgot to add in yesterday’s blog that as I stood waiting on the dock for Gerry to come back that I was approached by a man who asked if our boat was called Orpailleur, when I said yes he handed me the fuel injector that the guys from Fred Marine had reconditioned for us. The man apparently lives nearby Deshaies and was going to drop off the injector at the dive store as planned but recognized me standing on the dock. What great service! Anyway on to Saturday, our day began with a run into town as we had to return the hire car, pick up some petrol for the dinghy outboard, buy some fruit and vegetables and most importantly access the internet so I could at least read my emails and load the blog to date. Whilst I headed straight to the internet café, Gerry bought fuel and returned the hire car, he then joined me in the internet café where I had just finished loading the blog – it was a quick connection for a change. Once we had both finished looking at email we went in search of some lunch at a boulangerie, I hate to say this but I really could get use to the delicious boulangerie offerings. Once we had eaten it was time to buy a few bits of vegetable and fruits from a market street stall and then we got back into the dink and returned to our boat.
Gerry wanted to test out the injectors and see if the newly reconditioned one made any difference to the smoke that we were still getting out of the exhaust. His plan was to change out each injector in turn replacing it with the new one and see if the smoke reduced under load. With me stationed in the cockpit to rev the engine and assess the smoke we began the process of elimination. The smoke had definitely decreased overall but had not entirely gone and there was no difference between each injector when it was changed out – disappointing news. Once we had established that there was nothing else we could do until we found a Yanmar specialist to review the engine we decided to relax in the cockpit with our books and await the arrival of Dale and Lorie who were due to arrive here early this afternoon from Antigua where they had fixed their refrigeration problem. We had been boat spotting for about 2 hours before they finally appeared at the harbour entrance, Gerry grabbed the noodles (floating swim things) and used them to attract the attention of Dale who was on their bow, using the noodles as indicators – much like the ground staff that guide airplanes into position, he guided Gypsy Palace to a spot near to us where they anchored. We then dinked over to their boat for a traditional welcome (not more rum!) and an exchange of horror stories about fixing boats. After an hour of chat we left so that Dale and Lorie could clean up, sleep or whatever, arranging to dink into town for happy hour and some dinner. At the appointed time we took both dinks into the dock and walked the short distance to a place we had noticed for happy hour drinks and snacks. Our conversation consisted mainly of what we had been doing over the past few days – fixing boats and recovering from horrible seas. Dinner was next and we walked along the main street to find somewhere to eat. Having eaten in 2 places that were good we had high expectations. We picked a relatively empty looking place and placed our orders, then we waited and waited and waited. The place filled up, a couple of tables actually left before placing orders and still we waited. It was agonizingly slow service with only one waitress working. If we hadn’t been the first to arrive I suspect we would still have been sitting waiting at midnight. Anyway eventually the food came, it was average and we were very disappointed as we had expected similar standards to the previous 2 nights. It was edible, and half way through the main course we asked for the bill – hoping that we would get it by the time we had finished eating, the waitress seemed surprised that we didn’t want to order dessert – couldn’t wait another 3 hours for that! After paying we all headed back to our boats for the night with plans to leave in the morning for Pigeon Island – a short distance away.

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