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Monday, 6 June 2016

May til June

I start with a short note as to Customs and Immigration in the BVIs. This year at Gun Creek we paid $1 for the photocopied sheet and $5 to check out. There was no mention of an annual tonnage fee at all!
25th April 14 hours to sailed back to St Martin, mixed motor sailing and sailing as we wanted to be anchored for our evening meal. As much as we like St Martin the only pull for this trip was the dinghy chaps which are STILL not here, To fill in time waiting we had a really pleasant sail up to Tintamarre for lunch, we chilled here for the weekend then sailed back to Marigot to check out for Deshaies. This was an overnight sail with lots of fishing pots to stay clear of . We battled against headwinds and a chop of waves until reaching deepwater at 8 O'clock. Then with fair winds most of the way (45 degrees apparent) and smooth seas, towards the end a broad reach and then flat calm on arrival in Deshaies. Ate ashore and met some of the crew from 'Murder In Paradise'!
7th May moved to Pidgeon Island Guadeloupe, wind 20 knots and big seas, anchored in a rolly bay.

8th May Fast sail to St Ruperts' Bay Dominica, just 10 hours, No charge for a buoy and no BBQ as the season has finished here.
9th May Set a course for St Pierre, Martinique, very little wind until three in the afternoon when the wind puffed up to 20 knots so the average speed went up to 8.2 for 20 minutes and maxed out at 8.8!
We stayed here a couple of days to stock up on Wine and cheese and other french delights. We also found a new restaurant which had both excellent food , good wifi and a charming host.
The Anchorage St Pierre, Martinique.

Local Fishermen.
Me doing a Monty Python impression in the restaurant.
An Eel which Malcolm saw while snorkelling.

11th sailed to St Lucia and anchored in Rodney Bay. At the far end of the Martinique we saw a school of Dolphins and some turtles. Enough that there were spectator boats out viewing.
Amazingly Deirdre and her son Giles were visiting Dereck and Bridget so we joined them for beers at the Yacht Club and did some liming.
18th Sailed to Bequia and anchored at Tony Gibbons Beach ate ashore again.
20th May Sailed to Carriacou, Tyrell Bay hoping to catch our friends on S/Y 'Blue' but didn't see them.
22nd May Sailed for Grenada and anchored in Whispher Cove. This was a brilliant sail! With two reefs and the Yankee we averaged 7.18 knots! That's 35 miles in just under 5 hours!

26th May As we were leaving for Trinidad S/Y Quicksilver came in and waved a fish at us, did we want to come for dinner? Duh no we were just setting off! pooh it would have been nice to catch up.

Since the sailing season has effectively finished we have been at Crews Inn preparing for the haul out. I made the mistake of using Teak brightener without gloves and many of my joints have become inflamed, I'm just hoping that it will rectify itself before we get home. In the meanwhile using hands and feet are very painful so as usual I;m not much help when it is most needed.
Today we arrived at Power Boats and were hauled out. and I did the docking for the boat lift! I only got shouted at once and even if I say so myself I did a pretty excellent job!

Well that will be all until we get back to the UK, where we will try our best to catch up with as many of you as possible.  Since we do not let the cottage for holiday makers anymore we can LIVE in it until mid October, so if you are passing , or would like to have a break and visit us please do!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016


March already...Wow!
We had a fair sail round to Great Bird Island but cautiously motor-sailed through the Boon Channel where we picked up S/Y Aspens track to the anchorage. What a pleasant few days in this sheltered Bay. We managed to take 'Forte' around most of the small Islands which compile the area. Such charming names as Rabbit, Readhead, Lobster and Exchange Islands. The snorkeling was pretty good with some fair growth of Coral and sponges.
Malcolm recommended a hike to the top of Bird Island and led the way. It was a very gentle hill and the views from the summit (100 feet) were spectacular. The flora and fauna along the trail interesting too. I suppose if we had a guide we may have seen the rare Antigua Racer (Alsophis antiguae)
The second week in March we sailed from Joly Harbour to Marigot Bay on St Martin. A night crossing, this possibly the slowest sail of the year so far, wind zephyr-like and the sea glassy calm. Until 04.30 in the morning when the wind came up and 'Piano' lifted her skirts again.
Mike and Sally gave us our usual welcome and yet again they both look even better than last year.
The wind has stayed high 15-20 knots gusting more so we have moved into the lagoon. Thanks to Graham and Joan on S/Y Karma we did not go aground this time.
A few days later Jane and Paul landed at the airport. It was raining! So we went prepared with waterproofs to pick them up. Their plane had arrived ½ hour early (tailwinds) so we waited in the floating bar until the skies cleared and then returned to 'Piano'. After settling them in and tea we went ashore to the French side and looked around the waterside while Malcolm checked them into St Martin. Marigot was still damp and dreary so an early dinner at a delightful french restaurant, then home for an early night. After croissants and coffee we up anchored and went out through the Dutch Bridge ready for the sail to St Barths.
Calm seas and a good trip, Paul helmed for some way,

 we arrived in Corrossol and anchored in time for a late lunch and celebratory beer (5 fifteen). After checking in and collecting the hire car Jane and Paul drove to the cottage. We stayed aboard to double check the holding and were picked up the following morning. The next week at the cottage was sublime, no rocking and rolling and Wi-Fi 24/7!
Upmarket shops here in the Capital.

During the Bucket we chose a viewpoint and watched the racing. This at a leisurely pace as the start times were all after elevenses. The J's always started first, followed by various other classes. These are just a few shots to give flavour.
J's away...
Just like a game I play ...

The whole week flew by with side trips for shopping
Jane,Paul and I 

and the least windy beach for a swim.
Many meals were taken at the cottage with Paul cooking at the BBQ on the veranda. All too soon the holiday ended and we prepared for the sail back to St Martin. This time we changed to route and sailed around the top end, which meant a beam reach most of the way. We even had lunch on board.
I won't mention our grounding once back in the Lagoon suffice to say that we stayed near the french end once we were free. Thanks to all who came to assist getting us off.
Our last night was a meal ashore and doubly good as it was Janes' Birthday!

By chance the return flight was delayed enough that we had time for a picnic on the beach.
A side trip to Grand Case and the back to Marigot Bay for the arrival of the new batteries. The old ones had lasted over 4 years and we donated them to Mike at Shrimpeys they probably have another life ahead of them ashore.
Last minute provisioning, cheese wine beer and bread and we set off for Charlotte Amilie at the beginning of April.
Charlotte Amalie wi fi
Shopping k mart
Circumnavigation St Thomas Turtle Dove Bay-all alone! Sailed to Botany Bay ,Inner Brass and Magens for the night little wind so motored .

Next day 7th Motored to Hans Lollick Islands for lunch and snorkelling.
8th back to Christmas Cove
9th Charlotte Amalie to Lameshure Bay
10th Sunday Saltpond Bay
12th Tues sailed to Gorda Sound very pleasant. Cruising Association meet.
14th Vixen Point , Gorda Sound, shackle off main and foot came out of boom track.Anchored Cane Garden Bay
15th Cane Garden Bay to Little Jost Van Dyke, drinks aboard S/V Treck
This is the Bubbley pool, just wait for the occasional wave... 

and the bubbles feel rather as I would expect champagne bubbles to feel!

16th Hiked trail on Sandy Island Rockefeller.
B Line Bar Little Jost Van Dyke

18th Little Jost Van Dyke to Lee Bay, great sail running with the wind and 8 knots! Lee Bay too rolly for lunch so motored round the point to Marina Cay. And stayed the night.
Tuesday 19th Sailed from Marina Cay to Virgin Gorda and anchored in St Thomas Bay to do food shopping.
20th Sailed round to Vixen point for the right angle for tomorrows sail, but took a mooring at Saba Rock to fill with water and do wifi. The plus is we get a free bag of ice, Mighty cool sun-downers eh?

Somewhere here the Navigation computer had a fit and showed everything upside down, Malcolm thinks the monitor has gone. So the computer is hooked up to the TV screen for viewing , which makes the mouse great fun to use! Hey ho.
21st Sailed to Anegada which is very shallow on approach. Managed to anchor in 2 metres which is the shallowest we have ever anchored in (apart from aground in the lagoon). Next day moved to a buoy. Along came Barry, an ambassador for the Island, and welcomed us to his office. We invited him for morning coffee and listened to his tales. If we needed anything just give him a call! We told him we were thinking of walking to the North shore and he encouraged us.
Here is the map. The path goes all the way round...

I packed a snack lunch and we set off. The great thing is that the island is flat so it was easy hiking. Along the way we saw these orchids in great profusion.

 The wind didn't help focusing the camera- sorry. Alan Titchmarsh should really do a programme here, the whole island is sand and a few ancient outcrops of coral. That said the variety of species is amazing, and what isn't green is salt lakes with flamingoes, and a bird sanctuary. We stopped at the Cow Wreck Bar and had a drink and our lunch.

 Cow Wreck Bay is on the North side and so we swam and snorkelled in a very shallow bay. Then we continued back on a circular route to the Whispering Pines bar and dinghy dock. By this time I was dead on my feet. We had walked about 8 miles in all and when almost back I refused a lift (big mistake) there was still 30 minutes more to walk.

 I showed Barry my poor feet and he told me to soak them in sea water. I then apologised for being late back and asked if we could have dinner. Of course he said so we showered and changed then returned for a delicious fish meal.

22nd It stared raining in the early hours of the morning and there was thunder and lightning almost overhead (OMG) we were not hit ! And had decided to leave for Virgin Gorda after lunch . As it happened it was a pleasant sail of just over 3 hours.

24th Managed to turn the sea cock fully on for the generator and checked the impellor was is one piece, but saw a drip from the hose so had to fix that. This while I baked bread for lunch. Then went into Eden Rock to get a weather report and check emails. This is a resident of the wildlife pond which I did post on Facebook. Sorry no upload today will add it later (promise)

 The bread-pan has come to the end of it's life, much of the loaf had welded itself to the bottom of the pan- that was fed to the sea life which is when we found that 3 fish were waiting for such morsels under our keel!  They failed to upload so here's one of a Tarpon

 Tomorrow we sail for St Martin so I hope to get this posted soon afterwards. Big problems in St Martin so videos will appear next month.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

February 2016

Doesn't time fly when you are enjoying life? Yes 'Piano' seems very happy too! We did spend a few days restocking in Martinique St Anne 

Quite a few yachts here!

and for a change took the bus to Carrefour, all went well until the return bus home, which was late and so seriously oversubscribed. We waited another 1 ½ hours for the next bus arrived - to go all round the houses, so we got another Island tour! Well even that wasn't too bad. 8th February we sailed to Anse Mitan for a change of view.

Malcolm also cleaned the hull and we managed to get the dive tanks filled on the beach. I took advantage of the rainwater and cleaned the cockpit teak.   All set then we departed for Dominica. This being the 12th Feb. It was an early start which turned out to be unnecessary since we flew along and made the anchorage by 5 o'clock. There was no sign of Titus but Raymond greeted us just as warmly, and there was a BBQ that evening so no cooking necessary. 

and did a town trail in Portsmouth on the Monday.
The guy who lives here was a cyclist when he worked in the UK
 We managed to sign up far a hike in the National Park on the Tuesday.

This is Winston our Tour guide

and hike leader, he was a real star!

Since it was Customer Appreciation week we were treated to a cracking good dinner at the recently converted Shirley Fort. 

  Here we met the Minister of Tourism for Dominica. The whole week was amazing as we met lots of new people, some who may even visit us in the U.K.!

Malcolm also did a fair bit of hiking up various hills so I'll let the pictures tell the story.
Trail from Fort Shirley

Malcolms' hike to Toucari 
This was on a path through the swamp but also had a hill to climb!

Cabrit Park entrance
In fact Cabrit means Goat so no wonder that many hills and paths have this name!
Nets hanging to dry

A very pleasant bus stop.

This is the jetty close to the PAYS Office.
'PAYS' Stand for Portsmouth Association of Yachting Services. All the members work their hardest to make our stay such a memorable one.

22nd Feb sailed to Isles de Saintes and picked up a buoy at Islet Cabrit

23rd Feb did a morning sail to Malendure, Pigeon Island (Saints)and anchored.

A Caribbean Cray fish (AKA Spiny Lobster)

25th Feb moved to Deshaies to check out.
26th February Deshaies to Jolly Harbour another early start and faster than lately clocking 8 knots! Our usual warm welcome from the Customs, Immigration and Port Authority teams.

27th Feb motored round to 5 Island Harbour and anchored in Hermitage Bay.
View over 5 Island Harbour
Next time I write will be in March and by then it will be time for the Barths Bucket.....

Sunday, 31 January 2016

January 2016

2016 January.

Mid- January and at long last I wish my avid readers a Happy New Year again (in case you didn't read the Christmas issue)
Our first Christmas in the UK since we began Bluewater Cruising!

 All the rush and tumble of Xmas shopping, coupled with trips to the local GP and ordering presents for 'Piano'.
Fortunately we managed to secure a BBQ from Lakeland which packed easily into hold baggage. This will ensure that our visitors can enjoy a BBQ either aboard or on a beach of their choice. Just the charcoal/briquettes/cobbles and fire lighters for use as fuel to procure locally.
We arrived back on the 8th (me with a head cold beginning) Brigid welcomed us with a delicious salad so no shopping nor cooking necessary just to unpack. Then 'Piano' began telling us that she had missed us! The generator which had worked perfectly while we had been in the UK stopped and the engine followed suit,(we found this to be due to glutinous fuel, so the filters had to be changed). Luckily Derek had shore power to use in the interim (Thanks Derek!) Then the selector switch was found to have burnt out, it needs renewing but finding another without the model number will be stressful in the UK next summer. Until then hard-wiring will be the norm.
Both Malcolm's and my Birthdays were celebrated in St Lucia. The oven has had too long sitting idle and took 2 ½ hours to bake Malcolms' birthday cake. Yes it was scrumptious in the end. We drank Champagne and toasted the happy man with Peter and Nikki from S/Y 'Chanto' (Bowman 48) They had sailed across with the ARC this year and noticed 'Piano' on Derek’s jetty so were invited to join us for the evening. 
A Full Moon for my Birthday

 Their daughter is a GP at our local practice in Penryn!!! what a small world!
Other friend who are here while the ARC finishes are Devon and Liz on S/Y "Moosetracks", and Franz and Elke on Yan Plezier.('Pianos' sister a 45). Moosetracks were waiting the arrival of S/Y "Emily Morgan" yet another Bowman! It must be a record having all these Bowmans in Rodney bay at the same time? Franz & Elke are sailing back to Europe this season to end their sailing exploits we will miss them dearly. This is a snap of Yan Plezier in the cockpit 
And here is the better half of the couple we have come to love.

And finally one of the yacht!

Anyway after our lunch in Marigot (before Xmas)we suggested a trip to Martinique with Derek, Brigid and their nephew Stephen the following weekend.

St Annes for Coffee and Croissants

This too was most enjoyable, Brigid was a star managing very well with all the convenient hand-holds below, she hardly needed her walking stick! (She did draw the line at getting into the tender twice in one day) Stephen made a notable 7 knot average on the sail back which was only marred by the inordinate length of time needed to check back in.
We finally made it to a local Indian restaurant in the Marina for Malcolms Birthday celebration.
My Birthday arrived in no time (eek)I baked a chocolate cake in Brigids' oven and filled it with whipped cream flavoured with Baileys. 

Candles and Flags c/o Esther last year in Curaçao (Thanks Esther).  This accompanied with another bottle of Pop, and followed by a meal in Jacques by the waterfront. (Note to self add them to Trip Advisor). Many Facebook friends sent well wishes while we were celebrating.
The next job was the oven, so we called Prudent and took it to pieces. I then spent the rest of the day cleaning all the various parts. The main find was a rust hole in the burner which had certainly been the cause of the problems. Malcolm then repaired it and we then rebuilt the oven. It now works perfectly again and I was able to bake a birthday cake for Dereks' 85th !
We thanked our fantastic hosts for looking after us so well and took them out for a meal.
Nikki and Peter S/Y “Chanto”are back from the UK so we asked them over for sun-downers and hey yet more pop to celebrate Nikkis' birthday!
We will spend a day in the anchorage to clean the hull and then hop across to Martinique to fill the cellar with wine, maybe drop by Dominica for customer appreciation week before heading for St Martin.
The weather has been seasonable, light showers of warm rain to fill the tanks,(and wash the salty decks), a pleasant 27C with a gentle breeze for comfort. What more could be asked for?

Saturday, 19 December 2015

December 2015

Finally then we checked out of French Guyana and said our last goodbyes to everyone there.
We took the morning tide down to Creek Coswin for an overnight stay.

 The next day we finished motoring to the sea and set off for Grenada.  This was for the most an enjoyable sail being mostly a reach and typically fast. We did have a couple of light showers and plenty of normal Caribbean sailing. Late on Wednesday we came into sight of Grenada which was shrouded in dark clouds.  As we closed nearer the coast the wind picked up to 25 knots gusting 35 and I was called on deck to help read the instruments, which were only visible from the companionway steps due to the driving rain. Fortunately the Yankee and staysail were already down  and we had 3 reefs in but sailing was still a handful. As we came round the corner of the island past the airport we were given some shelter and motored on to St Georges Bay to anchor for that night. A celebratory nightcap before retiring to an uninterrupted full nights sleep.
   The next morning (bright and sunny yeay )but who should we be anchored beside Non other than ’****’ (Dave the fridge and Jan) so Malcolm swam over and begged a lift into the marina to clear customs and immigration. I swapped books, then a light lunch of beef burgers and potato wedges.  By the time Dave picked us up it was raining again and continued until late that night.
  Once we had confirmation that the new rib was available we moved into Port Louis. Great to find all you need at the supermarket! Only a short Maxi away. The dinghy arrived with the engine but none of the extras (engine lock, security lock, lifting strop, go faster fin, etc) so another wait ensued. However, we were mobile again.   We Sailed around to Whispher Cove and talked to Arlene and S/Y C– Drifters, Our Irene and Ray and had Fish & Chips at Taffies (scrumptious as usual!) We then dinghyed in to Palm Tree Maine to arrange with Mike for Simon to visit the generator.    After making contact with Mike we moved to the new Clarkes Court Marina for Simon to fiddle with the generator and he decided that a large capacitor had failed, he took the details but after 2 weeks it had not arrived with Mike - who had forgotten to order it ( come back Arlene all is forgiven). So we sailed on up to St Lucia to prepare for our winter break.
      On the way up we stopped at Bequia and did some snorkelling. Malcolm also replaced the anode on the prop as it had almost disappeared in the Maroni river. Another daysail brought us to Rodney Bay where we anchored to watch a few of the ARC yachts arrive.  Nice to see so many Ocean sailors kitted out in foul weather gear and life jackets.  Once ashore in shorts and T shirts they looked like the rest of us!
  Derek and Bridget are in fine shape and came out for an afternoon sail with us.

We took a picnic down to Marigot Bay and had a really fun day.

I also managed a lunch with Marsha and the crowd which meets on a Wednesday.  We all wished Marsha a Very Happy Birthday.

  There was a fair amount of rain in St Lucia so the top decks were washed of the salt water so just a quick polish then settled the dinghy on deck.  Customs wanted a list of electronics in triplicate and then came out to check them. Then it was off to the airport and the flight home.
  As I sit here listening to the (cold) rain on the roof and the heating keeping us warm I am reminded that there are only a few days left before Christmas.  So it only remains for me to wish you all A Very Merry Time, may all you dreams come true, and wherever you are we will raise a toast to absent friends.
As to the landlubbers, much as we love your news from home we would far better like to welcome you in the Caribbean so why not make time in 2016 for a visit?

All Our best for the New Year.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

October More of French Guyana

I digress, to finish October since there was more to report!
A week after the dinghy was stolen my i-pad was snatched from my hand and the robber made away with it.  Both Malcolm and Samuel had heard my dismay and Samuel even took chase on his motorbike.  This meant another trip to the police station to report it missing and woe is me all the work involved removing drop box and changing all the passwords to all accounts stored on the web.  Fortunately it has not been on line since it was stolen because if it had been I would have received an email telling me where it was! Such is the state of technology!!! We also managed to change the code to unlock it so even using it after being on line would have caused the robber a problem.
  Of course this meant that all my preparation for out trip to Cayenne had to be repeated. Here are the highlights:
 26th October. We hired a car from and travelled to Kourou

 with Rick and Amanda (from S/C Duplicat) where we checked in at the hotel Ballahou . I must say at this point the whole country had been suffering from power cuts which had not affected us aboard ’Piano’, so on arrival we found the hotel had a power cut. No problem we were going out for lunch anyway. After lunch some sightseeing around Kourou. It being a Monday most shops were closed so not too much to see. Although we did get to look at the Atlantic coast and the area used for fishing/sailing.  We finished the day with a walk near the space Centre which was a track in a forest and while walking we heard monkeys! Which we watched for 10-15 minutes

 A kindly lady in the tourist office suggested our evening meal that night -which we managed to find despite the black out- a local eatery called Gaou Gaou. It was fortunate that Eric was watching out for customers and flagged us down (since there were no street lights nor housing lights either. The choice was Nasi (chicken with rice) or Bami ( chicken with noodles) and a cool beer.— Note to self choose a house near a hospital as these seldom are affected by power cuts.
27th Breakfast at Le Croissantiere in the Total Garage and then back to the Space Centre for an 8 o’clock start to a tour.  This was a really worthwhile trip since we got to see all the areas behind the scenes to the launch.

Ariane Launch Pad

Jupiter Control Room

Back to the Croissantiere for lunch now not selling Petrol due to lack of power and then a short drive to Cayenne.
Downtown Cayenne
Ceparou -remains

Place des Palmists

Centrepiece sculpt of Felix Eboue

and all the colonial buildings made this a colourful city, plus the shops were open too! We had sun-downers mid afternoon over-looking Place des Palmists.
Later we checked into the Hotel La Chaumiere and chilled in their pool.

 They also did a great evening meal so no driving that night and no power cuts either.  However, there was no wifi as it had been taken out earlier that day by a power surge as the power had returned.
Breakfast was available the next morning so we tucked in and then set off for more of the sights of downtown Cayenne. Namely the Wednesday Market with a display of traditional dancers

Indoor Spice and Craft Market
 with vegetables galore and various crafts made from wood.
Next St Saviour Cathedral which has recently been renovated.

And finally the Botanical Gardens which provided a cool interlude in the baking hot midday.

We had lunch at Café Nath
We almost thought it closed! it was a Halloween theme.

which had quite a selection of coffee and teas plus fresh made Mango smoothies and savoury pastries.
The drive back was only marred by an hours queuing on the flyover out of town. We had a pleasant meal that evening with  Amanda & Rick, Marcie & David (S/Y Nine of Cups) and Chris & Kerryn (S/Y Noontide) and planned a trip to the local Leper Island for the next day.
We had been borrowing Noontides engine and Della Myras spare tender while at St Laurent du Maroni so took Chris up river with us and brought Kerryn back down.  While there we BBQ'd and chilled out with cool beers until the tide turned to take us back.
    By the time you read this we will be in St Georges Grenada but I'll leave that until next time.