Saturday, 22 December 2018

Happy Holidays December 2018

Happy Holidays one and all.
I’m writing this from our first anchorage of the new sailing season. It’s a pleasant 28C with a cool breeze from the land and little puffs of cloud in an otherwise blue sky.
We arrived back aboard S/Y ‘Piano’ mid November with a deadline of a couple of weeks before hitting the water again. As we began putting items back together again and testing them they either needed new batteries or a new switch or a new ….. and the list goes on. The freezer was a rather major item requiring ‘Junior’ ( now into his late 60s) to come and take the compressor away to fix it. Fortunately the mundane life of shopping and washing kept me sane and I have yet to finish sorting out the library.  
Some Blue Fish having a conference...

The yards are evolving all the time and even though Don of Power Boats fame was partially retired earlier in the year he decided to go long term sailing in late November. His yard is still going strong and the workforce are just as helpful and hard working. This year a guy called Cow was overseeing the antifouling with his team. He was also doing the repainting of the french yacht next to ours and had thoughtfully put up a screen so as not to cover Piano with any flying paint mist. He also pointed out that the rudder seems to be dripping rather too much water. That will be a job top of the list for next season. He is probably the guy with most experience of what needs doing and showed us some work in progress not too far away.
Meanwhile we were invited to the Crews Inn Christmas Cocktail Party and had a truly enjoyable time while there. Of course the pot lucks at Power Boats were also a good excuse to catch up with people we only see twice a year or so. This year another first we also savored an American Thanks-giving dinner. All too soon we were due for launch and as the day drew near so Michael the crane driver came to look at the space he had to work in. On launch day he asked the weight of Piano and ummed and ahhed before telling us that she was too heavy for the small lift so he would have to move the huge Catamaran on the other side. This took about 3 hours all in but there were no problems once we were afloat. We motored around the bay for ½ an hour to check out various systems then proceeded to a birth at Crews Inn. (this would have made any other boats relaunching equally 3 hours further on)
Now away from the continuous dirt of the yard coming up the ladder I have managed to totally clean the boat below decks. The sails retrieved from the sailmaker and were laboriously rebattoned and put back on. The stock cupboards replenished and the wine cellar repacked. All too soon we were ready to leave. And would you believe it our friends Greg and Kathy (S/Y Indigo) got back just in time to say Hi and Bye before helping to slip our lines.
Three days later (bar ½ an hour) we arrived in Bonaire. Rather a rolly sail but hey if that is the price of a FAST passage I’m not complaining. The best thing was soo many shooting stars-- on all 3 nights.
Well, we are nicely settled having done a bit more food shopping at Van Den Tweels namely Croissants and mushrooms, and we have checked in at the Yellow submarine (which has had a major refurbishment), tonight is burger night at the Cafe de Paris so no cooking. Maybe tomorrow some diving…..
Some Blue water
All that is left is to wish you all a Healthy New Year wherever you are, thanks to the xmas emails I know many are far away , as always we raise our glasses to absent friends , hoping that you are as happy and satisfied as we are.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

May 2018

First the end of Bonaire.

Two of many snaps taken at the Carnival in Bonaire.
Mid February
Wind seems OK for a sail to St Thomas, which turned out to be another cracking sail. The only casualty of the upwind sail was the wind instruments. The stick held on by willpower before finally flying off on holiday to the ocean depths. Sail trimming was de rigueur for the rest of the sail up to the BVIs Yes we arrived after dark but with so few yachts in the bay there was no problem anchoring. We checked in the following day and then looked around the town of Charlotte Amalie for any bargains.

Just the street furniture disarranged.

  The Hurricane exhibition has closed down so nothing to see there. Off on the bus to K-Mart which has only Hurricane necessities new bedding, mattresses, pillows and other household essentials. Nothing in the way of new sandles or shorts! Malcolm went to the masthead to seal the contact points of the missing wind instruments.
4th March We then set sail for Lamesure Bay, St John where Malcolm did some snorkeling
5th March Sailed to Virgin Gorda and anchored in Gorda Sound behind S/Y Chanto.  Quite by chance Peter and Nicky had a spare windex ready for their Pacific trip next year.  We borrowed this and although it worked it was not accurate. Malcolm was able to recalculate the readings so that we stayed on course, however it will need looking at before they use it themselves.
I must say that the approaches to Gorda sound were VERY rolly. We looked in at Spanish Town and could not have entered even if we wanted too. There was far too much white water in the entrance channel. Even getting into Gorda Sound was exciting! This snap shows another yacht making an attempt.

We took a dinghy ride around the Bay to see the damage. It must have been horrendous last summer. All our favourite haunts have lost their jetties and a lot more!

Here is Eden Rock up close

…….and from the sea.

These on the opposite shore.

Tucked up in Gorda Sound was far from the crashing and banging of the waves outside.  A few days later when all had calmed down we accompanied Peter and Nicky aboard S/Y Chanto to do the deeds at Customs and Immigration. This meant that we could then sail for St Martin.

12th March 2018
Sailed for St Martin and arrived for the morning net, however we were too far out to contact Mike to say that we had arrived.  We left the announcement for the next day.  S/Y Chanto is here already I suspect they motored since yet again this year the winds were against us and quite light.
No internet at Shrimpies yet it’s still down after the hurricane season last year. Fortunately the waterfront cafes were open and also gave free wifi.

Nicky and Peter on the Marigot seafront.

Now for the shopping spree at the other end of the lagoon, this again showed great signs of the Hurricanes last year.

Many of the unrecoverable boats had been tidied up but there was still evidence of quite a bit more work to be done.  We stayed out in Simpsons Bay which was quieter that usual.
17th March
 A pleasant sail to Saint Barthélemy. No Jane and Paul this year. The cottage below them has a Jack hammer working 24/7 and also Paul has pulled his back so a long air flight would not be sensible! That said we did have a great time.

As we approached the island some rather large yachts came towards us-they were racing and gave us a wave as they passed.

 After checking in we moved to a buoy in Columbier Bay. Gustavia not so Wi-Fi challenged as St Martin, possibly due to all the money around at the Bucket.

There seems to be a new race this year and the flag is a pineapple in a bucket. Class is denoted by the background colour, white, mauve, green pink and blue seen

18th March Sailing and rain Deshaies where it mostly rained.
20th March Sailed to Pigeon Island Guadeloupe. for our last dive of the season.

Sphyaena barracuda

Lachnolaimus maximus Giant Hogfish

Although we had some outstanding fish sightings the flora was disappointing to say the least. Possibly a knock on effect of the Hurricanes which would have churned up the sediments. This in turn must affect the corals and similar growth.  It could take years before the flora will recover and only then if there is little more disruption in the next hurricane season.
21st -22nd Off to the Saintes.

23rd March
We sailed in company with S/Y Chanto so that we could take pictures of them sailing from the Saintes to Dominica. Luckily we were ahead of them so pictures are better. We were welcomed in the usual style and decided on a tour with 6 other cruisers which was quite depressing. Much of the island has been rearranged by nature. Consequently the scenery has changed since we were here last. We did drop in at the Dominican Chocolate factory and the samples were awesome. We also had a very good lunch washed down of course with a Caribe beer or two. Accompanying us were S/Y Ubiquitous (Jim & Ann), S/Y Galena (Richard & Rowena) S/Y Eowin (Chrissie & Graham) and of course S/Y Chanto.
S/Y Chanto hot on our tail.

On route and the road is a casualty

Martinique 27th March
 Arrived in St Pierre with S/Y Chanto and went ashore to check in. Then wandered about the town just for the fun of it.  Peter had the bright idea of visiting the Depaz Rum Distillery so together with   S/Y Soozy 2 we all hiked along. It was hotter than being aboard so we took it gently. It was also Peters birthday so we had lunch in a leisurely fashion at the restaurant on site.

The Anchorage.
(notice the Peak of Pelee is clear.)
The house is now open.

March 30th 2018 Easter Weekend!
Sailed down to St Lucia for our yearly visit. Anchored more than once to avoid jet skis and tourist boats with their wash. Alongside the other Pigeon Island which is connected by land.  We were joined by S/Y Longbow of Itchen and enjoyed sundowners with them and a spot of time liming on the beach. We both moved again at the weekend as there was a rather loud concert going on.  Needless to say it was more pleasant listening from a couple of miles away!  Hazel and Tony are meeting guests in Antigua so will be off tomorrow.  They plan to sell Longbow and get something more manageable for Tony to sail in the Pacific next year. We wish them all well.
We also visited Derek and Bridgit on the lagoon, both are suffering from age but still batteling on, no sailing for either this year. They now have a full time carer to help around the house and cook for them AND a gardener who calls weekly.
 S/Y Chanto arrives soon after and we return their wind instrument.  They, like us, are on a deadline to get down south for haul-out before they fly home.
Malcolm retrieving the wind instruments to return to Chano

5th April O Dear! While Malcolm was looking for something he found half a bucketful of seawater under the piano stool. So the locker had to be emptied washed out and dried before the contents were repacked. This involved cleaning all the rust which had formed of every item-all of them tools, some too badly corroded and had to be ditched.
6th April Bequia.
As usual we arrived after dark. We anchored close into shore had a quick bite to eat and then to bed. Next morning we re-anchored a little nearer the town. After unloading Forte we then went ashore to check in and do a little shopping.  We finished up at the Fig Tree having perfect coffee with toast and real bramble jelly! Plus Wi-Fi what more do you need? Plus the nasty rumours about the shoreside walk were just that. We walked it into town shopping and it was as good as last year and in some places even better! Remember-you read it here xx (the part further along is not so good maybe that is what the rumours are about?)

The Fig Tree

7th April made a big effort and emptied, cleaned and repacked the nav table locker. Most satisfying as there was no seawater to be found.
9th April Sailed to Mayreaux which is where the only mishap of the season occurred. Mostly the anchorages were crowded and there was a swell. So we motored around checking out others.  In the confusion of reading so many sailing instructions we managed to clip the corner and touch rocks in the process (I though another earth tremor was happening) As soon as we had anchored Malcolm went to investigate, luckily no big damage just a scrape to the keel and rudder, phew. Although it was Monday we had Roast pork etcetera (cooked by himself) followed by fresh pineapple.

10th April Sailed to the Tobago Keys, which is always a favourite of mine. They seem to have stopped the daily croissant run so coffee and biscuits as usual. Which is when we see S/Y Prism anchored just ahead of us.  They got in yesterday so have already had the BBQ ashore. This didn’t deter us as we love the early evening eating succulent Caribbean Spiney Lobster.
11th April Sailed to Union Island and anchored just in front of S/C Ballerina Girl, Don was aboard with his guest and we gave him 15 minutes of fun watching us re-anchor to Malcolms satisfaction. That done we had coffee and then Malcolm went ashore to check out.
12th April we sailed in company with S/Y Prism to Carriacou, needing bananas we went ashore and found a NEW supermarket.  We looked in the marina for Graham but were told that he moved back to Trinidad in January.  Pizza that night with Prism and Tevii at the Iguana Restaurant.
Finally sailed in company with Prism for the last part of the journey to Trinidad.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

February 2018 Bonaire

Chelonia mydas a young one
February 7th 2018.

Just in time for the latest Blog we decided to set sail towards the North. Only to be thwarted by the Northerly winds! So we are still here in Bonaire (am I complaining?)
There have been no problems either with ‘Piano’ or her subsidiaries. We have hit 70 dives and feel a bit more confident. Underwater snaps do not do justice to the enormous variety of fish, reef creatures and corals which FILL the waters here. Typically after a dive we get the tanks refilled at Yellow Submarine Dive center and do internet for the day, then back aboard we record the days sightings and give the snaps proper names and tags. With notes on the dive site and ephemera like that. It rained while we were down the other day and as we surfaced the number of fish who were just staring at the surface was amazing! Maybe to them it’s like us watching the sunset?
Mundane living involves shopping on a Tuesday and Friday evening at Van den Tweels which has most of our needs (Croissants, Beer,etc). General housework, laundry, and meals. So the day is filled. Just like at home.
However we don’t get distracted by weather or the seasons so it’s nice to hear from friends who are suffering. Malcolm’s Birthday, My Birthday, and Christmas passed uneventfully. Apart from a working party (on my birthday) at which we did maintenance and polishing the Local School sailing clubs fleet of Sunfish and other dinghies. This was enormous fun, I even got to use a power polisher! What a difference!
29th January Christmas Concert

My latest time filler is renaming book folders by author surname and boy is it a mammoth task! I’m mid way through the B’s so there is a way to go yet! And only two months till we head for Trinidad and home! I don’t think it will get finished this year…
I remember doing some planning for land travels when we were home last year, Australia and Norway were on the bucket list. However between Bohill and it’s upkeep (May-July) and Delf August -November) I will be surprised if we do any land stuff.

Well here are some snaps to look at I hope they upload promptly while we do internet next time!

Tatoosh Google it.....
Pomacanthus paru. In Your Face!
Scorpaena plumiei  

Thursday, 21 December 2017

2017 December in the sun Bonaire

 I know that it has been a long time since I wrote the last Blog. So much has happened since our great summer in the UK.
We arrived back in Trinidad and were making final preparations to leave when my brother phoned to say that mum had died suddenly! I could hardly believe it! We had left her in fine fettle much improved since last year? So a quick turn around leaving Piano on the hard at powerboats for the interim. Arrival in the UK was pleasantly warm but more of the weather later. On arriving at Sandwich we found that all the disabled devices had been taken away, Daer had packed up all the clothes ready to take to Thailand and Ali had almost finished clearing the kitchen.
We began by shopping for essentials and then a visit to Ed to hear the latest. Long story short he asked Malcolm to do the paperwork for probate and I took care for the funeral arrangements.
Once the autopsy had been done and the coroner told us that mum died of natural causes we could go ahead with the funeral. We decided on a service at St Clements so that everyone in town could say farewell without too much travelling. Brian Scott gave the familys eulogy

“ * A first-rate Mum, for whom her children always came first. They were always provided with appetizing home cooking, good clothes and a good education, even if it meant Pauleen and Jim going without themselves. The results of her adoration can be found with her family today.
* A first-rate wife, always devoted to her husband Jim. The holidays, especially camping, were particularly memorable: the car always loaded up with everything possible, Pauleen making sure that everyone had fun, through to the time when Jim died and she was pushed to her limit and often beyond, looking after him. Then came old age where she kept going and still behaved as a mum should.
* A first-rate friend to many, throughout her years she made many friends and some very close, who enjoyed great times with both Pauleen and Jim.
* Anybody who knew her could to see she kept nothing back, she spoke her mind almost to the point she would say exactly what was in her mind as it happened, to some this was upsetting, but to most of us it was refreshing in a day and age where you see wrong and say nothing or don't say your real thoughts and give a white lie.
* We also cannot forget that she was her own person too, ran her own hairdressing business and became an elected councillor.
* She never liked old age, she missed Jim her husband and she missed her youth where she could rush about being busy. Her regular comment was " who'd a though I would get like this". She had her fill of ill-health on the way through life, but recently was happy, content (as she ever could be) mobile and in a good place.
Pauleen had a good life and put in more than she took out, but her reward was to see the family grow up very independent, honest, happy and close. Well done and Thank-you Pauleen.

Then everyone else they took refreshments at Age Concern the family went to Barham for the committal This was a short affair and Rev Mark Roberts did us proud throughout. We made it back to Age Concern to have a few brief words with all the friends who had attended and a really good tea with all home-made cakes sandwiches scones and so on.
By the time the paperwork was finished I had just about begun to feel the autumn weather so we drove to Penryn for some winter clothes. This also meant that we could take a few tools and stuff needed back to Sandwich with us later.
While in Penryn we did catch up with Hazel & Tony (S/Y Eileen of Down) and Peter & Nicky (S/Y Chanto) We also spent an evening with John and Val catching up on their latest news.
After driving back to Sandwich we had time with Aunty Joy and Uncle Chump, Brian and Beryl, Julian who has helped with the transition of the Coachworks into my name and various other acquaintances around the town. Oh yes and we did see Italian Maria with Anton & Denise. We signed the house papers and the insurance to be finished when all the loose ends were tied and fly back to Piano.

Our arrival back in Trinidad this time should have been brief but you need to take into account Caribbean time. The first Sunday I actually won the Mexican Train Dominoes – unheard of for me! 

The various jobs got done and only the small quibbles like the generator which we have never found the cause of meant minor holdups until she decided it was time to depart. Of course we had a social life too! BBQs or potlucks as we call them over here where we always meet new people and catch up with old friends. We managed to get away on the 11th of December with no major dramas Crews Inn were sorry that we weren’t staying for Xmas with them but did squeeze in a Christmas party just before we left.
The Sail to Bonaire was bliss, everything went well. It was off the wind most of the way and light winds sufficient to get the MPG out and leave overnight (that’s a first!) We also had some fast sailing 7-8 knots which meant that out 4 days was spot on.
Since we have been here we have chilled out with a party aboard a Catamaran called Our- Rageous. Plenty of room for 30 people to party in style. Of course we have been snorkelling and are just bout to dig the dive gear out to start some serious stuff next week.
This is one of the best anchorages of 2017 no houses and croissants delivered fresh every morning.

All that leaves is for us to wish all our friends and families a very Happy Christmas and a healthy New Year 2018.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

September 2017

Avast my intrepid readers!
Yes we are back aboard S/Y Piano at Crews Inn! The homeward flight was comfortable with the chaos at the newly refurbished South Terminal. After no machines being able to check us in we resorted to customer help. They told us we had been upgraded so had new seat allocation then printed off the new details for us. Onto baggage drop off and the same thing happened! so more intervention to get the hold baggage checked in. Hey ho the joys of modern technology....
So our arrival back to Trinidad was again very pleasant nice and warm and Piano was just as we had left her. Enough time to unpack and have a bite to eat then off to bed after a very long day.
We checked in with the net the following morning and I went shopping at West Mall for essentials.
Since then we have been working hard to get the old lady ready for the end of the Hurricane season. Both the morning net and local papers, radio are full of the devastation up island.  The list seems endless, from Antigua and Barbuda up to St Barths , St Martin, Montserrat, the British Virgin Islands , Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos, places we have visited frequently and others we haven't been to yet . are all like war zones. Many countries are sending aid although getting it ashore and distributed on non existing roads must be a nightmare.
My blog is short we continue to move along but I fear the sailing season will be short this year. When the hurricane season ends (mid November) we should be ready to move again I'll write more when there is something more pleasant to tell you.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

August 2017 U.K.

My Goodness, so much time has flown bye the summer is nearly over and there has been no blog since we left Crews Inn. After a pleasant sail down through the Boca we arrived quite early in the morning before Customs and Immigration had opened. Time for breakfast in leisure! For the following week in between showers we stripped Piano above decks and thoroughly cleaned below, making sure to eat all food and empty the fridge /freezer.
We invited Spencer and Nana ( S/Y Adverse Conditions) round to help eat the food but after Margaritas Malcolm didn't even remember eating anything! So much for that !  We did manage to meet up with many new people at the Crews Inn managers Cocktail Party. Sumptuous food as usual thanks guys! Carl is still number one Dock person and his team looked after us with the BBQ and other more boring duties.In all it was a hectic time.
  So back to the UK and we made first stop at Marias in London and became real tourists.
The Shard

In for Hull repairs...

St Pauls' Cathedral

Read the small print!

Borough Market

 Next we spent time with my mother, who has made great progress with her hip replacement. She is now walking every day again, shopping, meeting friends around the town, in fact behaving like she used to. Hannah and Ned (my niece and nephew) have grown so much, they will be teenagers before I know it.
Then it was Mark and Laurens' Wedding in Essex. That was a perfect day! The sun shone and the setting was amazing. We caught up with Karen,Richard and Jack, and met many of Adrienne and Phils' friends too. It was a real family extravaganza!

  Then it was time to make the long journey to our cottage in the far west of England, we did stop with friends in Barkham overnight to gossip and catch up.  Then we continued to Bath and had a day with another old friend, this involved more sightseeing around Bath and being good weather (still) was very relaxing.

Watering hole.

Finally arriving at the cottage we were pleasantly surprised at all was well.  The Spider plant still alive but rather sad looking and cobwebs which would have done the Adams Family haunt proud!  So life at home has been a mixture of visits to have health checks ,audiologist, (new ears for me) the dentist and unpacking stuff I had forgotten we even had! All this as well as shopping for food - what bliss making home made cakes once more! and collecting spares for Piano. We did make time to do some small hikes along the coastal path. Enys Gardens
Water Wheel.

St Marys' Gardens, Falmouth.

A side trip to Eden,
Lots going on...

Delicious lunch!
And would you believe it for the second year running we have failed to make the canopy walk by the skin of our teeth!

Red Arrows Performance.

We also enjoyed Falmouth week and caught up with our friends in this neck of the wood.  As I write we are waiting for S/Y Blackthorne Lady to make it across Biscay, they hope to be here before we return to Piano.