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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.

 

Guadeloupe and surrounding islands

We have now spent two weeks exploring the French Island Guadeloupe and the neighboring islands Isle des Saintes and Marie Galante. This small area of the Leeward Islands has a very diverse nature with Isle des Saintes being rather dry and lowland and touristic,  the west part of Guadeloupe being more volcanic, with peaks of 1400 meters. Marie Galante reminded us of parts of Denmark, low gently sloping hills no more than 150 meters high, lovely beaches, a really tranquil atmosphere, a place to relax and enjoy life.

As a contrast, the capital of Guadeloupe, Pointe-á-Pitre and its large marina complex, was an interesting place to be reminded of the importance of ocean sailing in France. The huge marina had a lot of displays of both the 6.5m mini Transat sailing and the Route de Rhum heroes. This spectacular event happens every 4 year, with a singlehanded race from St Malo, Normandy to Guadeloupe. The latest winner completed this 3500 nm long race in 7 days and 15 hours.

As always since we came to the Caribbean, sailing has been very good. Usually a broad reach, 12-20 knots of wind and generally very small waves / swell. Fishing has been great and we have got several 2 kg Tunas and Barracudas, perfect for a couple of dinners for two. Usually we dine on-board but being in France, we could not resist a couple of restaurant visits.

We are now back in Dominica, this time in the north west anchorage of Portsmouth where we will stay for a week to do some more hikes in this beautiful part of the Island.

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Good snorkeling at Pigeon Island, a marine reserve initiated by Jacques Costeau

Dominica hike

Shortly after we arrived at the Roseau Anchorage we met two experienced Caribbean sailors, Darryl and Sarah from Northumberland, UK. They convinced us that we MUST make a hike, preferably with the SeaCat guides. The island of Dominica has large areas declared as Nature Reserves, with about 500 km, well maintained trails across areas of rain forest. So, 9 am next morning we joined the group of in total 9 people, led by our guide Octavius. First hike went to Middleham Falls, a nice 30 meter water fall, about 1 hour from the where we left our minibus. The trails are very well maintained. You wonder how much work there must be behind.

Octavius is a fantastic entertainer. Besides knowing every part of the island, he knows everyone around, while driving he suddenly stops, jumps out, grabs a fruit or some leaves and passes them on to the group. Examples include coffee, cacao, lemon grass,bay-leaves, star fruit, lime leaves, nutmeg. After reaching the water fall including a refreshing swim in the pool below, we returned to base. Next hike goes to Freshwater Lake, passing a slightly scary ridge. After these in total 5 hour hikes, we enjoy a bit of “cruise ship” adventure, meaning a couple of hundred meters walk to Titon Gorge, a fresh water pool which we could swim in to through a narrow 30 meter deep and partly only 2 meter wide passage. This place was a scene in the Pirate of the Carribean 3. Finally we get to Trafalgar Falls. Dominica was badly hit by Tropical Storm Erika August 2015 with more than 30 people killed. Plenty of the devastating flooding can still be seen and several roads are still blocked by huge boulders. The final climb was apparently made easier by some rocks washed away by the 400 mm rain/ 6 h that hit the island. All in all, we had a fantastic day hiking, with great company and with a super guide SeaCat who we can warmly recommend. Not a dull moment all day long and lot of laughs (and some blisters).

In the Roseau anchorage we also met our friends and the crew of S/Y Swede Dreams, Lola, Carlos, Luna and Paco. They looked to be in good shape and were actively looking to buy a bit of rain forest land, potentially for settling down as a family in this tropical paradise. We wish them all luck, maybe, once we have explored a bit more of this planet, we will do likewise and become landowners in some remote paradise…

Windward Islands

We have now spent a month in the “Windward Islands”, called that because the Englishmen had to tack to get to these islands, from their other colonies in the West India. What is so fascinating is that all islands are different and many of them are different countries as well (cost us a lot of different courtesy flags (smile)). Many are dry, but we found Martinique and Grenada rater green, Tobago Cays, Mayreay, Bequia drier. Now, in March/April, the spring is coming so many of the trees that have ben leafless will now bloom and become green.

Going north from Grenada we sailed to Carriacou and Tyrrel Bay for checking out of Grenada. We only stopped here for a night and went on to Union Islands the day after.  This was the first Island, for us, where we had no shelter from the wind and a reef taking care of the waves. We checked in at the small airport in Clifton, strolled through the “main street”, bought some very expensive vegetables, and enjoyed the view. Some Rastafarians were seen carrying their hair in the typical colourful caps. We especially enjoyed the dingy parking, which was fantastic, through an arch in the wall you came in to a basin made especially for dinghies.

Since our main focus was snorkeling in Tobago Cays, we moved next day, got a place anchored at 10 m depth and really enjoyed ourselves for the next 3 days. We saw a lot of reef fishes, new to us, many Turtles and Rays and on land quite a few Iguanas. We saw a few big fishes that we later understood were Porcupine fish (a fish that when scared blows itself up to a larger size, with or without pigs). The corrals to the east were badly hurt from storms. Now that the whole area is a nature reserve the corals are slowly starting to come back,. We enjoyed the islands so much that we went back later when we had my sister and brother in law on board. With them we also checked out the barbecue facilities. Very well managed with pick/up on the boat, lobster barbecue and taxi boat back in the evening.

At the second stop we also visited Mayreau, a small island with two anchorages, colorful houses and very few tourists . Staying in Salina bay, we celebrated Eastern and took walks in the neighborhood, as well as some very good snorkeling. Crystal clear water. The resident Turtle looked curiously at us.

By foot we also visited the Salt Whistle Bay, but found it more crowded and with more charter boats, than Salina Bay. The small street between the two bays was covered with very simple but cosy restaurants and bars. Hopefully the charter ships anchoring in the weeks, can fill them all.

One of the nice features with sailing in the Caribbean is the closeness between the islands. Our next stop, Bequia, was only approx.. 20 nm away. We anchored in Admirality Bay (one of the biggest natural anchorages we have been into), both on our way going north to pick up my relatives in Martinique and south on our way down to Tobago Cays with them. We tested both the northern side of the bay and the southeast side. Both OK, maybe a bit more swell on the eastern side. The village is nice, not very big, with colorful houses climbing the steep slopes, checking in and out is OK and the snorkeling and swimming is lovely, in clear water. The people are also colorful, with some men wearing the typical Rasta hat. We found some nice restaurants and enjoyed ourselves. Eva also managed to exchange some books in the “Fig Tree” restaurant.  Bequia is rather dry and expensive due to almost all goods being imported, eg a medium sized Pineapple costs 8 or 9 Euro. A passenger ship or two were anchoring in the bay, but most of them left at sunset, rushing off to the next island. Compared to Martinique it seems that most inhabitants are previous slaves, where Martinique has more Europeans from France, as it is part of the French government.

We checked out from the Grenadines at Bequia and, due to recent violence, skipped St Vincent. Having to deliver our relatives in time, we also skipped St Lucia (will go there on our way back south) and went directly to Martinique, Anse Mitan. Good shelter and good holding. It turned out to be a very nice village filled with shops, restaurants and people. We feel we need the mixture of nature and civilization. We stayed there for the last days in March, did some shopping and waved good bye to my sister and husband. It has been very pleasant having them onboard. (Don’t know where we see each other again, but we are already longing for that.)

In Martinique we have tried a couple of different harbors

  • Le Marin. A big yacht harbor and anchorage with maybe 1000 ships all sizes and shapes. The village is small with plenty of chandlers, supermarkets and restaurants
  • St Anne. An anchorage outside Le Marin with plenty of space and clear water
  • St Pierre. A small village on the west coast further to the north. We stayed for three nights enjoying the scenic views of the volcano, Mt Pelee. The volcano had an outbreak that devastated the village 1902. 30.000 people died due to fume and ashes. Today only 4.000 people live in the village and you still see ruins from the old time when St. Pierre was the commercial center of Martinique.

Nature

The nature is rewarding, if you keep your eyes open. We have seen a lot of turtles, dolphins, rays when sailing, snorkeling in these clear waters is fantastic and on land you might see some lizards and listen to all the birds. We are now also entering the rainy season, spring, so the flowers are everywhere.

The Mangrove that we explored in Martinique was spectacular, and some sailors use it for shelter during the hurricane season. Looking at the trees and their roots, you can understand why. Unfortunately the water is more murky when you are close to the Mangrove.

 

Until next time,

BR, Eva & Peter

Dominica

In case you wonder - the menue is for real

In case you wonder – the menue is for real

We are now literally in (or very close to) the rain forest. You can anchor in the bay of Roaseau, but the narrow shelf very quickly descends to 40+ meters depth so we decided to use one of the mooring buoys offered. Dominica has implemented a very lean clearance procedure. As long as your stay in this country is no more than 14 days you clear in and out at the first and only meeting with Customs. Also they leave your passport alone, no stamps, which is a benefit since our passports are quickly being filled up here when a new country usually is within 5 hours sail. We have only been here two days but already understand why many sailors like this place. Friendly people, almost no tourists except the 10-15 boats anchored, and a fantastic nature, both above and below the sea. Huge turtles swimming by our boat, Frigate birds hoovering high above, apparently many sperm whales 4-5 miles from the shore, etc. Tomorrow our plan is to take the dinghy to Champagne Reef which has a very big coral reef area, abundance of fish and a bottom shelf releasing bubbles from volcanic activity (alas the name of the reef). More pictures to follow when we get better Internet access.

St. Pierre, Martinique

Yesterday we brought Marie and Crister to the waiting taxi at Anse Martin to get to the Martinique Airport. Almost two weeks spent together with walking, snorkeling, sailing, eating and of course enjoying the company. We already miss them. Today we sailed 3 hours north to the historic town of St. Pierre. This town was the capital of Martinique until Ascension Day 1902. That day meant the immediate death of 30,000 people exposed to a volcanic eruption of Mount Péele. All but two inhabitants were killed.

Today the village, much smaller than it was end of the 1800’s, is a sleepy but very nice and relaxed oasis. Sailing yachts are anchored on a narrow shelf of 3-7 meters depth that quickly descends to 100’s of meters so careful anchoring is essential. Today we had one of many nice reunions; Dan on the Gecco 39 Katrina who was our neighbor in Las Palmas in the Canarias, and in December Cape Verde. We had a nice tims sharing our different experiences of the journey this far.

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Rainbow over Martinique

Anse Matin, Martinique

We are now back in Martinique in Anse Matin, a very sheltered bay close to Fort de France. We sailed a night sail from Bequia on Tuesday afternoon and had a windy and wet night with rather steep 2-2.5 meter swell from north east. With Tina Princess’ heavy displacement and semi long keel we still felt comfortable and had no problems with sleep. Yesterday was a shopping day and we all invested in swim gear and t-shirts.

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