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Swim Party

Så var det då dags. “Swim Party” från Bonaire till Klein Bonaire. Ca 1 nm (1.8 km) med 15 deltagare. Vädret var som det brukar, dvs ca 30 grader i luften, något kallare i vattnet och 8-10 m/s vind. Som vanligt stod Martin och Ellen på Acapella för organisation med säkerhet i fokus. Vattnet mellan öarna är ganska besvärligt med ganska starka strömmar. Från TinaPrincess deltog Eva med Peter som jolle support i händelse av kramp eller annat. Eva som är en god simmerska tog täten tidigt och höll den hela vägen till mål. 15 glada simmare blev välkomnade av “shore team”, Hans och Liesbeth från båten Kulikuli.  Eva fick tiden 32 minuter vilket är en mycket bra tid även om hon var en av de simmande som använde simfenor. Att simma i öppet hav med ca 30-50 cm vågor är ganska jobbigt.  Som nummer 2 kom ytterligare en kvinnlig fen- och cyklopsimmare, därefter 2 crawlare. Starkt! Efter varsin coco-rum drink, gemensamma fotograferingar och lite allmänt stoj, drog vi oss tillbaka för att jobba vidare med installation av watermakern. Ganska jobbigt i värmen och fuktigheten.

Sailing Letter June 2016

We have now been at Bonaire for 5 weeks and will likely spend another couple of weeks here. We like it, it is easy to access supermarkets and restaurants, and the snorkeling and diving is magnificent. Peter is jogging regularly and we are also using the new semi long diving suites to do 45 minutes swimming training. We find new muscles every time J

Among the approx. 20 boats moored here we also have a number of social activities:

  • Burger / Happy hour evening every Wednesday
  • Sundowners with fellow sailors to exchange plans and information
  • We did a dinghy drift with 7 dinghies tied together the other day. Very interesting since we did not know where we should end up. After an hour of nice talks and drinks we were almost at Klein Bonaire (the small sand-island 1 Nm west of the anchorage) and had to turn back due to choppy waves. Fun activity.
  • Last week we spent half a day doing a refresh course in diving. Both of us haven’t dived since the 80´s so we felt we needed some reminders both in theory and practice.
  • We rented a car for 2 days and traveled south and north on almost all existing roads with pavement. We saw a lot of flamingos in the salt lakes to the south and also in a sanctuary lake to the north. Close to the salt lakes we inspected the old slave houses. They are really more like small huts. Terrible to imagine that families have lived there under such conditions.

Of course we are following the European football games. Starting with Sweden and then Iceland (Good old Vikings!). For the rest of the game we have to just enjoy good football, independent of who is playing.

Nature

We are starting to figure out the different types of lizards, iguanas and geckos that are crawling around here on Bonaire. Reading Wikipedia, we learned that they are mostly herbivores, eating vegetables and fruit, some you can even hand feed with a lettuce leaf. On Bonaire it is also supposed to live (including transit) approx. 250 different types of birds. A good site on the web, (what would you do without it), gives the names of the more frequent of them, parrot and parakeets, lot of different small yellow birds, humming birds and big brown pelicans. Under water the coral reefs are everywhere, with easy access from the sea shore. We snorkeled north of the harbor on a place called “1000 steps” and the site was magnificent, with vast areas of fresh corals of different types and forms.

We are truly enjoying ourselves!

Until next time,

BR, Eva & Peter

Many Moons ago -combining football and sailing

 

Football (Soccer) and Sailing is a great combination.  At least if you´re OK to watch the game rather than play yourself and if your sailing area covers television screens actually sending what you look for. Getting a bit nostalgic – we browsed through some old pictures from when we started sailing.


Since we started sailing 30 years ago, we have been fortunate to been able to see  European and World Championships games, at least from the quarter finals to the finals. Late eighties no one knew about streaming live video on a “smartphone”, in fact very few mobile phones were around and if so, they were heavy and not very smart. As we are now in a football friendly part of the world we are able to watch the games (of course focussing on Swedish games) at a restaurant/bar with a 60 inch screen, delivering the game in HD quality. As we have been here close to four weeks in the “Dutch Caribbean” we can almost understand the Dutch speaker, if nothing else he includes “Zlatan” in every other word. Enough about here and now. Tomorrow it is judgement day. Sweden has not a very impressive European Championship performance so far this year. But “Bollen är rund”, meaning everything can happen in football and hopefully we make it to the next round.

Highlights that we forever remember:

First year with our Becker 27 (1994) in Norway, we were at an island south from Kristiansand, and started to listen to the radio in the middle of the night, to follow the football, listening intensively to the games, forgetting to look around and understood afterwards that we anchored on an Island restricted as a military zone(!). Since Sweden were good this year, we followed up with a very late night in Mosterhamn (heavy morning the day after) and the quarter finals/semi-finals in Korsör together with a lot of other nationalities. As a matter of fact Sweden got a world championship bronze medal!!!!

Another fabulous memory is the football during 1998 when we were sailing in Scotland, around the Hebrides’. When the semi-finals were played, we were at a mooring in Loch Maddy. A gale was blowing and there was little to be seen in the proximity of the harbour. North Uist was at that time tea total during Sundays, children’s playground chained down, but the hotel owner opened up a “garage/snooker” room, put in a TV and all of us stranded sailors and gave us the possibility to buy canned beer. We gathered together to follow the game, Germans, Swedes and French. The final we saw together (!) in Harris, Stornoway. France won.

In Almerimar, we of course followed “El Classico” (Real Madrid vs. Barcelona) on a local bar. It is very important to check out who the locals support as to avoid embarrassment and angry looks.

So now we are anchored at Bonaire in the Dutch Caribbean Islands. Following the games on a local bar, checking that they really show the Swedish match against the Belgium tomorrow. The Italians are playing at the same time so it is a matter of which games has most people watching. Since we are only 2 Swedes around on the island, we have to beg for assistance and the bartender will start 2 TV Screens so we can see our game!  We are not real nerds…but close to…

Keep the fingers crossed for us tomorrow. Zlatan (the captain of the Swedish national team) will retire after these games so tomorrow could be a historic event.

By the way – tomorrow is a hectic day. Peter has a doctor’s appointment in the morning, the Match is at 3 pm and at 5 pm we are joining around 20 sailors for the famous happy hour hamburger and beer treat at the Harbour Village Restaurant. Hectic Days indeed….

Sailing Letter May 2016

The month started with a sail back to Martinique from Dominica. First stop was Anse Mitan, which we enjoy very much. A good anchorage close to a village with nice restaurants but less good super(-markets). From there we wanted to visit Fort de France (capital of Martinique) but we found the anchorage a bit too shallow and upset with all ferries and taxi boats so we went further south to Les Anses D’Arlet, a very small anchorage with crystal clear water. Petite but nice! Good snorkeling close to the boat is always appreciated. Unfortunately Peter’s ear was still bothering him so Eva had to do the dive herself, not as nice as being able to share experiences.

Next stop was Ste. Anne, outside the “Cul du sac” of the big Le Marin harbor. We stayed there to be able to swim and enjoy the anchorage before entering the major marina. We stayed anchored also in Le Marin and only took a place in the marina to celebrate our anniversaries: 2 years since leaving Sweden and 20 years as liveabords.

A lot of things had to be done in Le Marin before moving on: stocking up on food and water, clean the fridge and freezer, replacing our compass, buying spare parts and appointments to the dentist and doctor (Peter is now able to dive again!) We bought a wind scope to get some more wind down the aft cabin. Works well

The Whitsun eve was spent with the Swedish boat “Nanny”. Very nice (and long) evening with guitar play and a lot of “chit chat”.

We now feel the change in season. People/boats packing up and going north to get back to Europe or down below the hurricane belt for “over-summering”. Restaurants are closing, so it is like autumn back home. This year we have talked to some people that are moving to the ABC islands for the hurricane season. We have also heard a lot of good rumors about the snorkeling/diving areas there. So we decided to check out these islands.

Mid May we headed to St Lucia, wanting to see the harbor where all ARC’s are ending up, crossing the Atlantic. We stayed at anchor in a rather sheltered bay outside the harbor. The surroundings were not really our “piece of cake”, rather touristic and most likely a party place when the ARC comes, but now more restaurants were closed than open. The original village was a bit off from the harbor and seamed to live a separate life side by side with the big marina. Anyway we stayed there for almost a week, enduring 36 hours of rain before we could check out, buy some cheap diesel and go west towards Bonaire.

Full moon, wind from the aft (too much from the aft unfortunately) and no fishing luck. After gybing north and south we used the engine the last day to take us in to Bonaire during daylight.

We took a mooring buoy just outside Kralendijk and checked in for a week (as a start). The water is crystal clear and we are moored on a slope that is 4,5 meter at the bow and leaning from 10 to 60 meters just aft from us. Makes nice snorkeling! Bonaire is a nature reserve since 35 years, handled very seriously; you even have to have a permit to snorkel.  Doing dives close to the boat you see the result of the efforts. I (Eva) have never seen so many different fishes, some rather big, in such a small space since Hurghada in Egypt. We are enjoying it daily. The island, Bonaire, has a welcoming feeling to it. We will stay here at least a month (if weather permits) before moving on to Curacau where we shall haul the boat for regular maintenance and install a water maker among other things.

Nature

Fabulous: on land you have wild donkeys, Amazonas parrots, Iguanas and really pink Flamingoes. Under water there is a throng of fishes. Big, small, all colours. Yesterday I counted to 7-8 Moray Eels, 3 different types. We have a Porcupine fish swimming around our mooring stone every day, Sargent majors, Trunk fishes, Eels, Surgeon fishes etc. are everywhere. For the first time I (Eva) have been able to identify the different species, from not only “male and female” but also “adults and young”. Since we do the snorkeling almost at the same place every day, we have the ability to check them out more in detail. A fantastic place…

Until next time,

BR, Eva & Peter

Bonaire – Windsurfer Ballet

010.JPGWoW!!

Yesterday we got our folding bikes unfolded, pumped up and shipped to nearest dinghy dock. Our legs got severely beaten up by our 4 hours ride – but in the end it was worth it.

Our goal was a reef protected bay on the windward (west) side of Bonaire. At JibeCity, a surfer hang out place we were treated with this fantastic show, actually a training session.

Youtube clip of surf ballet.

We have also last couple of days enjoyed the fabulous snorkeling opportunity. Every meter of the coastline is crowded with corals and brightly colored fish.

Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean Islands

Apologies for some delay in updating this sail blog. Sometimes there is not much to write about. Our last update was from Rodney Bay anchorage, Saint Lucia. We spent a week in Saint Lucia but the weather was unsettled. Lot of rain, some rather windy days and a village that showed all signs of going in to ‘sleep mode’ with shops, restaurants aimed at tourists either closed or only open for weekends etc.  Talking to locals we understand that this place goes into big time party mode by the time ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) arrive with 200+ boats around mid-December every year.

Anyway, we used our time here to do some minor repairs, got our diesel tanks filled (US 0.6 / litre) and prepared for the 500 nautical miles (900 km) sail towards Bonaire. We delayed our departure two days due to sustained wind speeds of around 30 knots (15+ m/s) to get a more comfortable 15-20 knot ESE wind with less than 1.5 meter waves.  The sailing was “un-eventful”, meaning rather boring actually, no fishing luck (had two probably Mahi-mahi’s) but the jumped off, few birds, actually only sign of life was (mostly) dead flying fish on deck. A big bonus was clear skies and a fantastic, near full moon.

This route passes uncomfortably close to the Venezuelan coast. Reason for the un-comfort has been many years of bad reputation of theft, robbery and even violent murders. A general advice amongst cruisers is to avoid coming closer than 50-100 miles to the Venezuelan coastline and shutting down any AIS transmitter AND Ships lights. Just before we left St Lucia we read about escalating riots in Venezuela with people being fed up with the regime. Obviously we kept a very active watch and had our radar on day and night.  After 3.5 days and 515 miles we made landfall in the Kralendijk, Bonaire yesterday afternoon.

Bonaire’s official nickname is “Diver’s Paradise”. The island is about 100 km north of the western part of Venezuela, Colombia border being about 150 nm to the west from Bonaire.  Rulers of this small island, as with most Caribbean countries have been almost all west European countries with colonial appetite. Since the 1600th the Dutch has governed Bonaire. Independence struggles (as all Caribbean former colonies) happened during the last decades but a final decision to keep the current relationship with Netherlands or become (semi-) independent is still an open question.  As we are happy users of a “EuroSim” communications service, Bonaire seems at least from their perspective to belong to the European countries.

Now moored at a buoy – no anchoring allowed as the whole coastline is a marine nature reserve since close to 40 years. Just below our boat, the water is crystal clear and we have all possibilities to snorkel.

Saint Lucia

IMG_4406-EditedWe arrived at Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia,  yesterday after a windy beam reach from Martinique. Our stores have been fully loaded. Only fuel left, that we can buy duty free here in Rodney Bay, before we depart to Bonaire.

Pit stop Le Marine, Martinique

After a week cruising the west coast of Martinique we are back to Le Marin / Ste Anne anchorage. Main purpose is to work through a growing list of to-do’s and get ready for the 500 nm sail downwind to the ABC islands. Today was a good day for check’s;

  • Appointment with dentist arranged.
  • Bought and installed a new compass. Sadly our very fine Plath retired after two attempts to repack membrane and seals the last ten years.
  • Miracles still happens. Our post and parcels waited at the Capitanerie. Now we have light in the Fridge thanks to HR Parts! And soon we can enjoy a new debit Mastercard with zero charges.
  • We can use our printer. Old fashioned way via cable but who cares. Another painful
    result of the hard disc crash in January
  • A medium sized shopping done at our favorite supermarket Leader Price. More to follow….

Also met nice fellow JRSK members Nanny (Liv and Magnus) and Tacoma (Eva and Anders). Great to speak your native language, even better with Gothenburg dialect.

 

Sailing Letter April 2016

April 2016 in the lower Leeward Islands.

We have now spent a whole month on the islands of Dominica and Guadeloupe, and more and more we understand how people can sail for years in the Caribbean archipelago. It is so much to explore.

Dominica have become one of our favorite islands: fantastic nature, nice and friendly people and OK anchorages with sympathetic boat boys. We visited Roseau bot on our way going north and coming south. The moorings, taken care of by “Seacat” and his people, are fine and safe on 20-10 m of water (that’s why you avoid anchoring!). We did a hike with Octavius (Seacat) to the water falls close to Roseau. We walked 3 different paths in the rain/sun, swam in the cave where one of the “The Pirates of the Caribbean” was filmed and tested lime leafs, lemon grass, cocoa- and coffee beans, etc. Octavius was eager to show us everything. One rainy day we took the dinghy to the Champagne reef south of the harbor. We got OK to use one of the divers moorings and as soon as we went under water we were greeted by a fantastic reef with good visibility, lots of fish, nice corals and bubbles (champagne!?) coming from the slightly warmer seabed.

Later in the month, coming down from the north, we anchored in Portsmouth, north Dominica. A beautiful harbor with good holding in 5-7 m of water. Nice friendly village, where we used the book exchange in the PAYS office (the guys that runs the moorings and support the sailors) as well as at the Sandy’s bar. We did a hike on our own to the north of Portsmouth, where we found a sea bar with cold beer and great hospitality: we got invited to taste their private Sunday lunch which was a spicy fish soup. We also hiked the hill with the castle and a lot of ruins. A perfect view over the anchorage! Lots of tree and ground lizards. Around the boat we of course saw the obligatory turtles. The most impressive excursion in Portsmouth was an Indian River tour with Alexios. We started early in the morning, before the heat forced all birds to take shelter, and got a two hour boating tour with a rowing boat. We saw the “witch’s” house from “ The Pirates of the Caribbean”, different kind of herons (white and green back), crabs (spider and “land crabs”), big shoals of fishes since it is a natural reserve and a lot of “green stuff”. Our guide was able to identify most and also tell us about how it was before and how it was used. He was brought up in the forest. He even managed to show me (Eva) the red seed that is so useful for making bracelets. Fantastic…I now have enough for a couple of ear rings.

One night we were invited to a wedding party with Pot Luck. An English couple got married upstream Indian River, with a party on the beach afterwards. All yachties were invited. We had a very inspiring evening, where Peter’s fish burgers and Eva’s potato salad was a success. A bit of aching muscles after dancing in the sand until 23.00 in the evening…

We love Dominica. The hospitality is great, cars stop on the road to ask if we are OK, do we need something, do we enjoy Dominica. Imagine that happening in Sweden….

North from Dominica is Guadeloupe. We visited the Il de Saints (Terre d’en Haut), Guadeloupe mainland and Marie Galante. Il the Saints are sandy/hilly islands where you can anchor or utilize one of the moorings. The islands are not big, rather touristic, but nice. One thing that we will forever remember is a fantastic experience regarding fauna. In Martinique we heard something we thought was electronic equipment to remove birds from restaurants. Entering a nice restaurant in Il the Saints we heard the same noise and asked the waiter to either turn it off or move us to another table. Imagine our surprise when he said that he could gladly move us to another table but the TREE FROGS were small and difficult to move (smile). Now knowing what we heard, the noise was not only OK, but very pleasant. We understand that now is the time for these frogs to evaluate a partner, and we hear them on most of the islands. By the way: the restaurant was named Tree Frog……

From The Saints we sailed to the north west of Guadeloupe, to Deshaies. Caught a Barracuda and a small Tuna. We found a good anchorage where we had to watch up for all the turtles when dropping anchor. We did a hike up to a resort on one of the highest hills overlooking the bay. (Peter found out on the net that a room cost about 400 EU per night..)

This is the point where we turned south again (this year). We made a stop at the Pidgin Islands, one of Cousteau’s waterparks. For 2 days we snorkeled both close to our boat and on the Islands. Lots of turtles and nice corals. Unfortunately the last day we saw plenty of algal bloom, making the visibility bad. El Niño? Water temperature is around 30-31 degrees which is higher than normal.

Main harbor/marina of Guadeloupe is Pointe-â-Pitre. Huge marina, nice market in town but the town did not appeal to us in a major way. We stayed for some days, enjoying some bars at the sea front and making a survey of the hull. Got the positive sign off that it was not osmosis coming back, but some problems between the epoxy and the antifouling paint/epoxy that was the problem creating blisters. Leaving the marina, the weather was calm and we had the possibility to sail/motor to Marie Galante. A sandy island with a perfect anchorage. 4 meters deep, very big and with sand and grass. We stayed for 2 nights, walking the main street up and down and enjoying a very nice fish lunch at one of the restaurants. All in all we enjoyed all anchorages outside the main marina in Guadeloupe, but for now Dominica gets first price.

Nature

At anchor, we enjoy the Frigate birds and all turtles. An interesting moment is when we are hoisting the dinghy every evening. Our light at the davits is attracting a lot of different fishes. We see small fishes/animals like krill, flying fish and lazy trumpet fish. One fish with a snout is very aggressive and we almost caught one in our dinghy the other day.

The season for Lobsters is now over and the last catch we got was in Portsmouth. 12 EU for a kilo. 5 small Lobsters. Peter made a fabulous dinner out of them.

Now we are in Martinique for some maintenance and picking up post and then we will move to St Lucia and further to the ABC islands. At least that’s the plan right now.

Until next time,

BR, Eva & Peter

Dominica part 2 and long term planning

We are now back to our favorite Caribbean Island Dominica since 5 day. The reason this is our favorite is simply People, Nature and a sense of unchanged culture. It is said that if Christopher Columbus would return to this island today, this country/island would be the only one of the Carib Islands unchanged after 500 years. During our days here we have enjoyed guided and unguided hikes, the highlight being the Indian River tour. Our guide Alexis did a splendid job answering any question re plants and animals and his passion for the island and the wildlife/rain forest came across as truly genuine. Besides hikes we also attended a very romantic wedding party at the beach, hosted by Paul and Jayne who got married at the Indian River. A lot of Rum Punch, interesting food supplied by the 30 Yachties invited, and a lot of Dancing on the sandy beach. Great fun and some recovery needed this morning. At the party we also got some useful advice regarding our forward planning. Our latest, rev 0.4, plan is to sail south to Martinique and do some admin, catch up with some mail delivery, get a broken tooth fixed, fix a compass that has broken due to the extreme temperature, etc.

Early – mid June our next destiny is Bonaire, part of the Netherlands, some 500 nm SW from here. Our thought is to spend the Hurricane season , July-November, sailing around the so called ABC islands, and in December sail north to Cuba. With the very positive situation re Cuba / US relations, everything suggests that now is the time to visit this country before it is likely becoming yet another mainstream charter destination.

In the early/later hours yesterday we even discussed the next phase sailing with a seasoned sailor. Cartagena, Colombia, is now regarded as a safe destination. One of our projects that we have postponed for some time is to do something about our teak deck. We have some leaks and after almost 30 years it is due for a needed replacement. Whit what, we don’t know yet. But Cartagena seems to be a place where skilled labor and reasonable costs are available.

Before these long term plans, that by the way usually are radically changed, we have some more days in Dominica. Friday we have booked a “avrostnings-dyk” (a dive with an instructor to get back  to where we left diving in the mid 80’s). Still have to find our certificates somewhere in the boat.

 

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