12-28 Family happenings

took a berth at the IGY American Yacht Harbor Marina for a couple nights and were so happy to hook-up with my sister, nephew and his wife and two kids. Talk about timing! They just happened to schedule a vacation in St Thomas, and here we were! They hadn't been aboard Infini before, and it was wonderful to introduce them to the cruising lifestyle, albeit a very brief intro. This morning, I changed the oil, filled the water tanks, did a diesel and gas can top-off run, and a few cleaning chores before it was time to take the taxi over to their hotel and enjoy a lovely buffet dinner and visit with them. Unfortunately, I think we created some new farkel maniacs, introducing the kids to the dice game we've played for some time. It wasn't "cutthroat" farkel, but they got the gist of things quickly. What fun! We'll be leaving the marina tomorrow morning, after a last minute laundry, hot shower and a bit of provisioning.

12-26 Red Hook

Pos: N18deg19.59min/ W064deg50.59min. Unfortunately, there's no viable anchorage here. There are tons of moorings, all private. There's an IGY American Yacht Harbour Marina, tres cher. So, in 20-25 knots of wind and a 3' chop on the nose, with ferries every 30 minutes running into and out of Red Hook going down the nearby channel and rocking us as they passed at high speed, we did what we had to do to get Sonja to the ferry terminal so she could get a taxi to the airport. We had a great time having her aboard! Actually, the good news is that our new Highfield dinghy handled the conditions really well. Conditions are bound to improve....

12-24 Christmas Cove, Great St James Island

Pos: N18deg18.4min/ W064deg50.0min. Where to spend Christmas? What better place than Christmas Cove, near Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas. With the added advantage of the Pizza Pi boat. Yes, that's right. A couple of young entrepreneurs are baking a variety of pizzas and other starters aboard their small motor-sailor with a specially equipped pizza oven. They take orders on VHF 16 or phone; the mushroom pizza and jalapeno poppers we ordered were good; lots of other boaters must have agreed as the orders were pouring in via VHF all afternoon. Christmas day found us snorkeling (again, not all that impressive) but the green turtles were around and Sonja got some really good footage with her Go Pro. There was a raft up in the afternoon near the shore line. Most of the boats were small runabouts, but a few were dinghies, and the local crowd was on the younger side. By nightfall most everyone had left and it was quiet once more. Actually, that is, until the charter cats started anchoring around us. Ordinarily, no big deal, but these were 74' Privelege catamarans. Big, 2-3 stories high. One cat directly astern; he was fine. One direcly to port, about 30' off when we swung; that captain was an idiot; he obviously didn't value his or my vessel too highly as he was way to close. I figured he had good liability insurance for his multi-million dollar yacht so didn't get overly excited...We hope everyone enjoys their Christmas and Holidays with friends and family; our love and hugs to all!

12-22 Waterlemon Cay, Leinster Bay

After a brief rolly stop in Hawksnest Bay so Sue & Sonja could snorkel, we anchored in Francis Bay (beautiful!), where we had Lee & Sharon from Allegro over for Happy Hour. We had met them last season, and are a wealth of local information to us newbies to the area. We decided to go to Leinster Bay (Watermelon Cay), as we had heard the snorkeling was really good. This is a very protected anchorage, and remains calm in most conditions. There were lots of green turtles around; the reef was a bit washed out, but the fish life was varied and colorful. Snorkel counterclockwise around the island; the fun is on the outside. It was a very enjoyable stop, though busy!
We're enjoying the pristine views and natural settings here in St. John. We're in National Park territory, and got a Lifetime Park Pass and trail map when we checked in. Mooring fees are 1/2 price for us! ($13.00, they've gone up double since last year!)
And another fun surprise: our friend Richard on the sv SeaLevel came into the anchorage. We haven't seen Richard for years, since we cruised Tulum, Mexico in 2003. He's doing AirBnB charters aboard his Durbeck 46' monohull, based in St. Thomas. It will be fun to reconnect with him.

12-20 St John

We motor-sailed over to Cruz Bay to check in to the USVI. This was the first time Infini had been back to US territory since 2011 when we sailed to Hawaii from French Polynesia, and, if one were to exclude Hawaii, the first time we had been In US waters since we departed in 2007 from Florida! The Officials were very courteous and check-in was a breeze. We were excited to be in St John for lots of reasons; we have a cruising friend who lives here, and there are lots of places to sail to and explore. For those coming into Cruz Bay, stay to the left channel, the one that goes in towards Customs & Immigration as well as the US Park Service building. As one enters the channel, there is a place to anchor for up to 3 hours. The water's shallow (<6'), but it's all mud; also, there's no other place to anchor in this tight, crowded harbor, so it's either here or a mooring around the corner and a long, wet dinghy ride back to the boat after clearing in. We also stopped by the Park Service office so I could get my Golden Pass ($10); that enables US citizens of Medicare age to pay 1/2 price for mooring fees anywhere in the VI, as well as discounted park fees on the mainland. Finally, one benefit of being a senior citizen! After a bit of exploring Cruz Bay, we motored around the corner and took a (discounted...) mooring at Caneel Bay.

12-19 Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke

We took a mooring in front of Foxy's place, and dinghied in to find him sitting there with no one nearby. I went over to say hi, recognizing him from his picture and excited to meet a BVI legend. Foxy is the consumate entertainer (as well as entrepreuner), and he kept us laughing for 30 minutes until I dragged Sue and Sonja away to look around; we could have stayed much longer. What I didn't realize at the time is that it's actually "Sir Foxy", as he's been knighted for his many contributions to the community and is now a proper OBE. Keeping esteemed company, we are. We walked around the waterfront, had a beer in his bar/restaurant, and planned our further adventures.

12-18 Privateer Bay

Pos: N18deg18.65min/ W064deg37.6min. In an effort to find better snorkeling, we motored around the corner from The Bight and anchored in Privateer Bay. The price to stay on a mooring overnight in the BVI's is $32/night, so we figured we save a few dollars and anchor. We dropped the hook nearby the western-most corner of the bay but had a sleepless night when a few squalls ripped through and the anchor alarm started blaring. We definitely dragged, but instead of trying to get 110' of chain up in heavy winds, I took the bridle off and basically reset the Delta. That worked, although we kept a wary eye on things. At night, everything seems closer than it really is (at least to our view), and the rocks and surf weren't too inviting, what with the depth going down to 14' when we swung. Everything held, and we pulled anchor early morning to get out of there and on the road.

12-17. The Bight, Norman Island

Pos: N18deg19.1min/ W064deg37.1min. We took a mooring here as it's a very crowded place with few places to anchor. The snorkeling was just OK, nothing special.
Pic: The Indians lies between The Bight and Privateer Bay.

12-15 Prickly Pear Island, Gorda Sound, Virgin Gorda

Pos: N18deg30.408min/ W064deg22.401min. We left at 0100 hours and had hoped to get 10-15 knots of wind for the run to Virgin Gorda. It didn't happen, in spite of all the weather prognosticators. We ended up motor-sailing the entire 80 miles from St Martin, but at least the seas were only 4-6' and the sun was out. (Actually, S reminded me that we did get 3-4 hours of good sailing in). It was squally around us but we didn't get any rain. The anchor went down at 1530 hours in 18' sand and we'll dinghy over to Gunn Creek to clear-in tomorrow. Our friend Sonja joined us in St Martin to cruise the BVI's over to St Thomas and get a bit of sailing experience. For now, that will have to wait a bit; it was Infini's trawler imitation that's greeted her!
Pic: Michael and Sonja; it was a long dinghy ride to Gunn Creek to check into the BVI's. Calm (downwind) on the way there; a bit wet for the ride back (to windward).

12-4 Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten

It's been a few weeks between postings, mainly because of slow or non-existsnt internet. To summarize, we left Trois Islet when the weather settled down and had a good run to Portsmouth, Dominica. We anchored for the night and departed at 0545 for Deshaies, Guadeloupe, anchoring at 1500 hours. Another early start put us on pace for an easy overnight run to St Maarten. Winds were, for the most part, 10-15 knots on the aft quarter. The sky was clear, the stars were bright in a moonless sky, and we reduced sail to slow down in order to arrive St Maarten at sunrise. Great stuff. We went through the Simpson Bay Bridge at 0930 and anchored in the Lagoon in 7' water. Since the island is divided by the Dutch and French sides, we cleared in with the Dutch Officials, and will clear out with them before moving about a mile to anchor on the French side, St Martin. It's a bit confusing for the newcomer, but everything soon falls in place. The entire island us duty-free, and cruisers flock here to outfit their boats and provision. We were on a different mission of sorts, and I arranged a quick haulout at Bobby's Mega Yard so I could reset the pitch of the MaxProp propeller. That went smoothly enough, and I took that opportunity to change a SW ball valve that I hadn't changed out in Trinidad. A few hours later we were back in the water; all's good. We've met up with Bas and Agnes of sv Ti Sento, as well as Jo and Greg of sv Serenade and Lee and Sharon of sv Allegro. We've also met new friends; Mike and Nancy of sv Chasseur and Henry and Catherine of sv Mowzer. Unfortunately, our 15 year old Aquapro dinghy finally gave up; there was just not a lot of integrity left in the hypalon, whose life span is typically 10 years. Our new ride is a 9'6" Highfield aluminium RIB. At the price of a used small automobile, at least it was tax and duty free...

11-29 Trois Islet

Pos: N14deg32.8min/W061deg02.3min. Fortunately,we're not in a hurry or on a schedule. The weather around here has been challenging. We had a great sail from Rodney Bay to Martinique, but changed our destination from St Pierre to Trois Islet. Why? The weather was predicted to change radically as a low pressure system formed nearby and the trough was tracking directly overhead. Trois Islet affords really good protection, and winds were forecast to go southwest to west, which, indeed they did. Torrential rains and wind to 40 knots came through. We had no problems at all. Can't say the same for those boats anchored in St Annes; lots of drama. Boats dragged; one boat went aground; same story in Rodney Bay. The westerly swell was 3-4' there, hitting the fleet with standing waves and making for a really horrible night. We were thinking of heading up to St Pierre, but a secondary low is forming nearby the first one, and the weather experts aren't quite sure what's going to develope; the next 24 hours should clarify the situation. Meanwhile, we had a lovely game of dominoes aboard sv Gosi (Tom & Barbara) along with Bill & Tracy of sv Zephyr. Good times, dreary weather; patience, grasshopper...

11-19 Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Pos: N14deg050min / W060deg57.5min. We’ve arrived in Rodney Bay, St Lucia! We had to motor-sail for 25 hours, going east along the Trinidad coast and keeping well east of Grenada. When the wind filled in we had a glorious sail on the windward side of the island chain all the way to the south end of St. Lucia. We then stayed about 2 nm west off this coast at night with a beautiful moon overhead. (Motoring once more). The anchorage wasn’t crowded and is an easy night entry, although we had our previous tracks to guide us in. We checked in with Officialdom the next morning; overtime is 50EC. Most everything worked well during this, our initial voyage after layup, and we’ll address a few things that need a bit of tweaking when we get organized.
Pic: I caught a nice 2’ wahoo the first morning, sailing along at 7.5 kts, so we had ceviche and have a few meals to look forward to.

11-14 We've launched!

After haul-out, it’s always amazed me how many last-minute things there are to do before the boat is put back in the water. To name a few: visit the marina office to pay our bill and get our documentation for Customs as well as the travel lift crew, canvas had to be stored, the hose and electrical cords had to be cleaned and gathered, since we had the A/C unit in use, it had to be tied down as we weren’t sure whether we were going to use it over the next few days so we didn’t want to store it below yet, four long lines had to be placed on the fore and aft cleats, all engine fluid levels had to be checked, fenders had to be ready for deployment, the extendable boathook had to be handy to loop our line over the port aft piling at Coral Cove, everything down below had to be secured and cabinets had to be latched, the windlass breaker had to be switched on and windlass tested, and a deck and cockpit wash-down had to be done. I'm sure I've forgotten a few things, but you get the idea. The boatyard crew arrived in a timely fashion, and once we were hoisted in the slings by the travel lift, the keel bottom was sanded and painted where it had sat on the supports these last months. Infini was placed gently in the water, and Sue, myself and Falco boarded, each of us with a goal in mind. Sue got the fenders placed, and Falco and I checked for water leaks around the seacocks, engine intake strainer and in the bilge; all’s well. The engine was started and we once again checked for leaks; none. So, with Falco’s brief visit done, he departed, and I then put the boat in gear forward and reverse, and was ready for the lads to cast off the lines. We were off – yea! We went on a 10 minute ride up and down the bay before calling Coral Cove Marina to let them know we were coming into our assigned slip, and two of the guys were waiting to catch our dock lines. No drama. After adjusting the dock lines, we went up to the office to check in. After, I made a visit to Budget Marine and Sue took a bag of ice to the boat. We had started the freezer which has a keel-cooled compressor, so we needed to be in the water to use it; we help lower the box temperature by placing a bag of ice in it. Of course, the thought of a few cubes in my rum was also considered. After showers, it was good to once again sit in the cockpit and enjoy being back on the water. New Zealand cheese, French pate, South African wine (thanks, Kilkea II!), and local veggies – a true international happy hour. A busy day – all’s well. There’s already a list of things to do tomorrow.
Pic: Infini with a black bottom for the first time ever.

11-9 Update

Lots of projects have been completed this past week. Our go-to engine guy, Falco, came by to further service the Perkins. The dodger went out to Sean at Superb Canvas for replacement of the old, sun-damaged, clear vinyl windows with Stratoglas; a huge improvement. Mitchell, the welder, finished another engine part that needed replacement, and today, Falco returned to check everything out. We started the engine after first having bled fuel through the injection pump and injectors. The start battery needed replacement; it was purchased in Thailand a bit over 3 years ago and gave good service, but wouldn't hold a charge so it was time. The yard here at Peake's has sanded the bottom, put on a tie coat, and several layers of anti-fouling. This is the first time we've used Seahawk bottom paint, and in black no less. Sue flew in yesterday and returned to find the caprail varnished and the boat looking pretty spiffy (at least I thought so!). She went on a shopping run with Jesse (Members Only Maxi-Taxi Service), easy to arrange over the VHF net which comes on daily at 0800 local, channel 68. So...it's been an exciting week; I think at least as much as went on in the States...Btw, launch is scheduled for Monday, 11-14.

10-26 Update

It’s been a busy week, but progress has been made. I suspected a few small leaks we had below were due to old sealant at the stanchion bases so decided to fix that issue. Of course, there was little uniformity about the sizes of the fasteners which held the stanchions to the rail. The biggest job was removing all the stanchions, drilling out the few odd sized machine screw holes, then filling same holes with West epoxy, and finally drilling and tapping these holes for the 3/8-16 SS helicoils (threaded inserts) for the new 3/8 SS machine screws I brought back with me from the States. The machine screws were available here in Trinidad, but very expensive; forget about the price of the helicoils. Anyone who has ever drilled and tapped a hole knows how exact the alignment has to be, in this case through the SS base plate of each stanchion. Working on deck in the 90-95 F degree heat didn’t help matters but everything worked out fine. Other projects: I removed the dodger to have the sun exposed vinyl replaced with Strataglass (Sean of Superb Canvas). After much deliberation, I made arrangements for the yard here (Peake Yacht Services) to do the bottom job. Their price was fair, I supply the paint and primer, and this will avoid the fiasco experienced last year at Power Boats where I ended up doing the job myself. After 30+ years of doing bottom work on our different boats, I figured I deserved a break. I took the MaxProp to Chris Maclaran’s shop here on campus to have it cleaned up; another beautiful job by his crew at a very good price. I wanted to double check the settings recommended for the MaxProp install, but have received confusing phone and email responses from PYI, Inc. I’ve heard similar stories from other cruisers and their MaxProps, so head’s up about that outfit. Hopefully, the settings advised will work out; if not, it’s an expensive haul-out to remedy. I had arranged with Mitchell, the welder at West Coast Fabricators, to fix our aft SS pulpit base which had developed a crack around its round base to the vertical tubing. To weld this, Mitchell needed the pulpit freed up to lift it up from the caprail. Here we go: empty the lazarette, figure out which nuts go to which machine screws on each stanchion base (3 per base), and working alone, get those damn nuts off which appeared not to have been touched since their installation when the boat was built. I must say, access was a bit easier than getting to those nuts at the base of the foot blocks, but I was on my back stretched out in the lazarette, reaching overhead with a headlamp on, but was able to put a vise grips on each nut so I could use a screwdriver up above. Fun and games; the pulpit’s ready for welding. On to the next project...

10-18 Update

It was like entering one of those storage lockers you see on Storage Wars. Stuff was everywhere; I struggled to find a place to sit. Fortunately, having had six months to think about things and prioritize, I had a plan. The first thing was to get those foot blocks remounted; a two person job. The amount of room between the hull and the inner bulwark is really, really tight, and in the Westsail, the footblocks are through bolted in a very difficult area to access. Drilling the holes into the new teak pad and down into that space has to be exact; if the hole is off 1/8”, it hits fiberglass; that’s no good as a washer and nut have to go on each of the three bolts. I hired John Francois, the local woodworker here as Peake’s to help me. His shop is fully equipped and the man knows his way around tools. As I expected, with his guidance, the holes were spot on, and then it was up to me to clear out both areas that I needed to squeeze into, reach up over my head with a socket extension (actually, two), and get those washers and nuts on. Mission accomplished, each block was bedded down and it was on to the next project. One of those things I had meant to do four years ago in Hawaii when I designed and installed the expanded PVC bimini was to put in an integral rain catcher. I decided on an eyebrow design, and the pieces, which I had cut and routed beforehand, needed to be held in place above while screw holes were drilled from the bottom, through the bimini, and into each piece. Again, a two person job; between John and I, it was short work. I had already taped off the top as the pieces are glued, then screwed from the bottom onto the bimini, a barbed through hull was placed into each corner, then the seams were sealed with bedding compound. It came out just as I had envisioned and looks great. The really good news is that after John left, I was able to start putting together the port quarter berth and move stuff from the salon back into that area. Now you see why those foot blocks had to be installed first off; everything else got stuffed onto that berth! Things were looking up. I had to manhandle the large mainsail out of the salon and up the companionway myself; another two person job that got done by one person, me! The staysail is much smaller, fenders and oars followed up to the deck, more "stuff" was moved onto that quarter berth and, voila, there was a lot more space in the salon. Even the V-berth has now been organized. The air-cooled refridge has been working well, and that cold beer was well deserved; not a bad pace for the first couple of days back.

10-13 Return to Trinidad

Unfortunately, from Tampa to Port of Spain, Trinidad on American Airlines there are only two flights daily, one in the early morning, which means you have to get up about 0300 to get ready and get to the airport, and the other in the early afternoon, which lands late enough to get to the boatyard near midnight. The connecting flight goes through Miami either way, and the only reason I mention this is that the layover between the early morning flights is about one hour. Yes, if the plane is delayed, or you sit towards the back of the plane and have to wait for everybody to get off, chances are good that you’re going to miss that flight to Trinidad. So…I found myself walking at a really fast clip, checking the flight board to make sure the gate hadn’t been changed (that’s happened before), and making it to the departure gate with less than 10 minutes to spare to boarding. Not too bad, especially dragging along one carry-on bag, a very full backpack, and a large laptop computer case. The $11 extra charge for that seat on the aisle toward the front of the plane was money well spent. The line through Immigration at Port of Spain is always long, but the very nice Official stamped 3 months in my passport, and I was off to luggage claim and Customs. Boat parts for Yachts in Transit aren’t taxed here, which is one reason to haul out in Trinidad. However, again there are long lines and wait times, and it’s necessary to go immediately from Customs at the airport to Customs at Crews Inn, Chagauramas (as an aside, this is where you check in when arriving by yacht into Chagauramas) to declare the boat parts you’ve brought in (you need a copy of original invoicing) and where your baggage is inspected; then you’re officially cleared in. It was late afternoon and we encountered the daily rush hour traffic back to Chagauramas but again, the Customs Official was very accommodating and in about 15 minutes I was all set to go to the boatyard. Infini was sitting where I left her in June and looked pretty good, but I forgot to ask the office to have a ladder waiting, so didn’t go aboard. I’m staying in the hotel at Peake’s for a few nights while I organize the boat to be habitable again, so I put all my bags in the room, went upstairs to the Zanzibar Restaurant to get a beer to go sit downstairs by the water, and called Sue to check in. It’s been a long day but it’s good to be back. Work starts tomorrow.

9-13 A few changes have occurred

Hi all! Our time back in the States is winding down and we're making preparations to return to Infini soon. We've had a few changes we'd like to share. First off, we no longer have a SailMail email address. To contact us, please use the svinfini email address found in the header to the left side or our other email addresses many of you have, as we expect to find internet wifi throughout our next cruising season. We may also be reached by email at our HAM call sign address: KJ4IHF at winlink dot org, but SSB radio connection issues occasionally do occur, so please be advised we may not be able to retrieve your emails as expeditiously at that address. Next, for the last 10 years, Sue has used Picasa web albums to share our pictures on this blog. Google+ has recently integrated the Picasa platform, and unfortunately, no common url was found to transfer those 200+ albums as they were. What that means is that Sue has had to transfer each album separately so that each may be viewed in this blog, but the sequence of the albums has been reversed...the oldest is now the first album viewed, and our most recent albums are found at the bottom after much scrolling. If any of you know how to change that on Google+, please let us know. As far as following us along by pressing the button to the left which activates Shiptrak, that function seems to work pretty well with one notable exception; our passage from Australia to Thailand. Some cloud based snafu resulted in all those positions being permanently deleted and they are unable to be retrieved; we'll just have to live with that one. Also, please note that we intentionally did not use Shiptrak regularly throughout various portions of our Indian Ocean transit due to security concerns present at that time. As usual, we'll continue to update this blog and wish you all safe travels wherever you are. Please keep in touch and let us know how you're coming along. Cheers!

6-8 Haul-out

We were the first boat hauled (0800) at Peake's this morning. They have a huge travel-lift, about 150T, so picking up Infini wasn't even a challenge. A diver goes into the water to set and tie the straps, then up you go. The pressure washer went to town, and the bottom didn't actually look too bad. The boat was then transferred to a large travel trailer type rig, which placed us in our spot. This is where we'll stay out of the water for hurricane season, doing routine maintenance chores and catching up to a few projects that have waited in queue. Otherwise, this may possibly be the last blog entry for a while, as we plan a visit back to the USA to see family and friends and will return here later in the year. Hope everyone has a great season and thanks so much for following Infini's Adventures!

6-4 Safe arrival in Chaguaramas, Trinidad

Pos: N10deg40.75min / W061deg38.15min. I'd been watching the weather for the last week and determined Friday would be the most optimal day for departure. Ordinarily, we don't leave on passage on a Friday, but we deemed the upcoming passage as a continuation from islands further north, so rationalized our departure day. The passage from Prickly Bay, Grenada to Chaguaramas, Trinidad is about 85nm, and entry into one of the Boca entrances has to be timed to not encounter too much adverse current. We chose to leave at 1600 hours, figuring on an AM arrival and favorable tide. There was a new moon, and still a bit of concern about Venezuelan (presumably) pirates operating near the Trinidad offshore oil platforms that are on the rhumb line from PB to Chag. We filed a Float Plan with the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard, and also let Jesse James know of our plans. The 150' anchor chain started coming up at 1545. Unfortunately, I wasn't paying that close attention, the chain bunched up in the hawse instead of falling down into the locker, and when I pushed the remote to reverse, somehow the whole mess started running overboard a hundred miles an hour, under the windless wildcat! Don't try to grab that chain; you'll lose your hand. Fortunately, after about 250 feet of chain went to the bottom, it slowed down enough for me to grab it and toss it back onto the wildcat (that holds the chain). Wow, Ok, deep breath...let's try this whole thing again. This time, I did pay attention to where the chain was going, tapped it down like I was supposed to when we deploy 150' or more, and everything went fine. With a single reef in the main and staysail set, we got underway, avoiding the Porpoises Reef nearby the entrance to Prickly Bay and getting settled in for our first overnight sail in a while. With no moon, seeing the squalls was going to be more challenging, evidenced by getting hit with 32 knots and driving rain with the full jib out. I'd like to say "no drama," but that'd be somewhat of an exaggeration. We managed to get the sail in and took our second deep breath...Hmmm. The first third of the passage continued overcast and squally. We had wanted to head far east around the Poinsettia oil platform, but that proved impossible with the E-ESE winds. I should note that I didn't see any ESE winds in any of the weather forecasts I reviewed. Plan B - go directly between the Poinsettia and Hibiscus platforms, staying just shy of 5nm away from each. That worked pretty well. The wind stayed mostly E at 18-22; and our boat speed was good. As we got about 25nm away from Grenada, things smoothed out and we had a pleasant middle third of our passage. We were able to make out the darker clouds against a somewhat lighter sky with stars, so were able to reef further when the winds got up. Past the platforms, as expected, the wind fizzled and we had to motor. Or, at least we tried to. Our start battery hadn't been used all that much, so I used the combiner switch to connect the house and start batteries; it's used for exactly this kind of situation. I turned the key...no alarm, no Balmar reading, the engine did start but there was no alternator output....what the hell? Quick, shut down and start checking things over. In a few minutes I found that the 300 Amp fuse at the start battery for the combiner pathway had fried. What? Imagine the load that went to it! Changing to a new fuse, I told Sue we probably had one chance to get the engine going; we took it and held our breath. Yes...alarms, alternator output, propulsion...everything checked out properly. And that was actually a very good thing, as the current was so strong, and the wind so variable, that even with the engine going 1600 rpm's, we were only doing 3.5-4 knots or so! That made the third deep breath of this short passage...Yep, the last 20 miles were motoring...very slowly. We missed the flood tide by about an hour, but you don't wait outside the Boca for exacting conditions; you just have to take what you get. What we got was 2.5-3.5 knots of boat speed with that adverse current! Ho hum. Of course, going into the very crowded moorage and marina areas we had the flood tide and were making 6.5 knots and I had to go into neutral to slow down! We picked up a mooring directly between Power Boats and Peake's, launched the dinghy, and I went in to Officialdom while Sue stayed aboard to straighten up. We're here, checked in, all's good. It's been an interesting 85 nm but now it's time to relax...after all, it is my birthday!
Pic: The view from our mooring of the Power Boats complex.

6-2 Update

We've enjoyed a bit of running around these last few days. Of course, no visit to Prickly Bay is complete without going into Budget Marine. To put things in perspective, a tube of Life Caulk costs $33 USD! (I passed). We also walked over to Aziz's place for schwarma; good as always. We'd met two other cruising couples during our stay here: Pam and Andy of sv Grace and Bobbi and Craig of sv Mana Kai. Our small group has had fun playing bocce, walking to Secret Harbour Marina for their once-monthly Sunday garage sale, and enjoying several delicious happy hour and dinner gatherings. Pam & Andy are doing a lovely restoration of their Morgan OI 41, and Bobbi & Craig are absolute newbies - they've owned their catamaran for 4 weeks! So there you have it; meeting and having fun with new friends in great places!
Pic: Andy blowing the conch shell at sundown; M giving it a good try. More practice needed!

5-26 Prickly Bay, Grenada

Today's sail was another story...First off, the predicted E wind never materialized at all. It was ESE-SE the entire day, but the wind was so variable, going from 6-12 knots, then back and forth before you could make any adjustments. Furthermore, we had decided to go down the east (windward) side of Grenada to Prickly Bay, not the west (leeward) side. We had anticipated 10-15 knots E wind, so being on the lee shore of the island wasn't going to produce too much stress. Well, the entire day was a motor sail, which may have been a good thing, as the current was really strong, at least 2 knots trying to push us west (onto the island...) for most of the passage. We had no issues; waves were 4' or less, wind sucky as noted above, so for sure it would have been a motor trip on the west side of the island also. At least we got to see the entire east coast, which we hadn't seen before. The water does get a bit thin in spots, especially if you're looking for one of the other popular bays on the east coast, but most deep draft vessels probably wouldn't have too much trouble. We anchored in 26' and noted there seemed to be a lot more mooring buoys around from our previous visit here, thereby restricting the areas for anchoring. Officialdom wasn't in their office at 1500 hours (posted hours 0800-1600...), so we'll try again tomorrow. We're having a beer at the Prickly Bay Marina bar/restaurant, free wifi, good food.

5-25 Tyrell Bay, Carriacou

We had a delightful beam-reach sail to Tyrell Bay in ENE wind. We're going to anchor here overnight, not check in, and leave early morning for Grenada. Life's good.
Pic: Leaving Carriacou early am

5-18 New photo albums posted

Sue's posted the Guadeloupe and Antigua albums. Enjoy! Unfortunetly, not sorted out...no more picassa. Google plus won't show whole albums. :(

5-15 Admiralty Bay, Bequia

Pos: N13deg00.13min / W061deg14.65min. In Marigot, we raised anchor at 0630 intending to stop at Vieux Fort overnight. When we got down to the southern end of the island at about 0900, we decided that going the 11 nm to windward to get there (Vieux Fort) wasn't worth the aggravation as just going direct to Admiralty Bay, Bequia. We were on one corner of an isosceles triangle, our location at the southwest side of the island, and Vieux Fort, further east; the distance from either to Admiralty Bay was the same, 50 nm. We wanted to get to the anchorage during daylight hours but weren't too worried; we had been there before so a night entrance would have been fine. As conditions turned out, our average speed was 7+ knots. We made good time across the channel, and, as expected, hit the calm in the lee of the southern end of St Vincent and had to motor sail for a few hours. There, an onshore SW 10 knot breeze developed, then changed to an 18-21 knot E wind once in the Bequia channel, so we romped to the anchorage by 1700, with time to anchor in 14' of water, put the sail covers on and take a swim before dusk. It's been a full day.

5-12 More photo albums posted...you've been waiting for this one....

Sue's been busy...additional albums of Dominica as well as Dominica Tours are now online. And, the one you've all been waiting for that has taken so long to collate...Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta 2016. It's huge - 111 pictures, most unlabeled, and there are a few repeats, but I'm hoping it gives everyone the flavor of being there without getting too bored! None of our previously posted albums are this large, so, no, we're not starting a new trend...this was a special occasion with an abundance of photo ops over a period of one week. Sit back, enjoy, and let us know what you think!

5-12 New photo album posted

Sue's posted the Martinique album and I'm going thru the 385 pictures taken at the Classic Boat Regatta to cull that group down to a more moderately sized album. Unfortunately, besides the very slow internet, I forgot my mags this morning....

5-11 Rodney Bay, St Lucia

We had a great run down to Rodney Bay, anchor-up to anchor-down in 4.25 hours to cover the 27 nm (approx) distance; average speed in the low 6's, highest speed 8.3 knots. It's like seeing an old friend again; good to be back in familiar territory. We checked in with Officialdom then went over to Island Water World. Sea Hawk paints have come out with a new anti-foul paint called Islands 99 Plus. Introductory pricing $190/G (for you non-boaters, that's considered a good price). Since there is no IWW in Trinidad, we purchased our paint and are all set. Otherwise, we bought some veggies from Gregory who stopped by in his veggie boat, said hi to Maggie the veggie lady in the marina, and will bring in laundry and catch up to posting some photo albums tomorrow. Duty-free fuel is available here, and is, along with that in Antigua, considered amongst the best price for fuel (ie, cheapest) in the Caribbean.
Pic: Even before our anchor was set, Gregory was by with his veggie boat....we always need something!

5-10 Anse Chaudiere

Pos: N14deg28.86min / W061deg04.85min. Yesterday morning we left Roseau for St Pierre, Martinique. Actually, we almost didn't leave Roseau as we couldn't get our mooring lines untangled. At 0530, I called Greg, who graciously came out to help. It took him about 20 minutes to unwind the Gordian Knot and we were off. Without his assistance, we would have had to launch the dinghy or leave our lines on the buoy, neither a good choice. Winds were ESE 20-25, gusts to 32, and we anchored in St Pierre before 1400. This morning, some fishermen woke us at 0530 yelling in rapid French that we were too close to their nets (we understood their sign language…). Actually, we were nowhere close to their nets…Also, we had anchored in the same spot two times previously, and there were no nets around when we anchored yesterday. Whatever…maybe these guys didn't have their second cup of joe or something. At least Sue couldn't blame me for waking her up early…blame the fishermen! As compensation, we had a fast sail to here. Wind was ESE 8-20, seas flat, and we barreled along at 6.5-7.9 knots (…couldn't get that 8.0 figure). So, we're anchored in 20' and if the weather forecast holds, will depart for St Lucia tomorrow. At this junction, I should note that the weather predictions haven't been particularly accurate…

5-8 Rockin' & Rollin' in Roseau; Happy Mother's Day!

Pos: N15deg17.39min / W061deg22.74min. It is only 10 nm from Batalie Beach to Roseau, but more than expected (and certainly not forecast) adverse wind, current and chop found us taking three hours to get there; some days are like this. Once closer, the Sea Cat moorings launch came out to meet us, and Greg took our lines to secure us to a large mooring, which helped a lot as the wind had crept up to 25-30 knots in the gusts and the whitecaps were impressive. We felt the 30EC/night charge reasonable, and were also able to give Greg our small bag of trash to dispose of. We noted that most of the yachts heading south came in to Roseau, as conditions had deteriorated to the point where like minds felt it prudent to wait it out. Unfortunately, the roll here is horrible, and everyone's masts are oscillating thru at least 20 degrees of arc. Doyle's Guide describes lots of things to plan and do around here, but I suspect we'll just relax, hold on, and see if the prediction for lots of rain holds true. Our watermaker has been deconditioned, so we'll either need rain water or will have to get somewhere to top off our tanks. Lastly, a very Happy Mother's Day goes out on this Sunday morning; we hope everyone has a wonderful day!

5-6 Update

Well, here's the report: the food is delicious! The various lobster platters served are large, tasty and well priced. Further, we had met two scuba enthusiasts, Thekla, from Germany, and Melanie, from Switzerland, and they had arranged their dive master to bag enough lion fish for all of us. The kitchen staff prepared them with expertise, and it was the first time for us to eat lion fish. The meat was white, flaky, and very tender and we picked the bones clean. Thanks Thekla and Melanie! We also had some mahi; again, delicious. Roger and his wife, Marcela are gracious hosts, and we highly recommend this stop to other cruisers. Btw, if you need any further inducement for coming here, cruisers are offered an 8% discount when paying in cash. This morning, we're moving about 10 miles south to Roseau, staging for our passage to Martinique next week. We're expecting rain and squalls to come through Sunday, so will wait out the weather there. Lastly, Happy Mother's Day to all our friends and relatives - we hope you have a wonderful time; we're sending our love and hugs!

5-5 "EYE CANDY" Picture album posted

This is an album that is long overdue and one you won't want to miss. No, it's not beautiful people wearing skimpy (or no) bathing suits. It's much more subtle, enjoyable and provocative. Let us know what you think and, most of all...enjoy!

5-5 Sunset Bay Club, Batalie Beach, Coulibistri, Dominica

Pos: N15deg27.08min / W061deg26.85min. We had lunch with Bill & Joanna of sv Baidarka at Le Triangle on the beach; good food and company. Early this morning, we left for Dominica, bypassing Portsmouth and going about 8 miles further south to Batalie Beach. It was a lovely sail in 9-18 knots E-ESE winds, which turned to calm, then NW in the lee of Dominica. At Batalie Beach, a Belgium expat, Roger, and his wife, Marcela, own the Sunset Bay Club, and we were told by some cruising friends to not miss their lobster dinner. Amongst the ususal resort amenities, they also offer free moorings, FW showers, a pool, and bar/restaurant. Walking around the resort, we saw lots of different birds, plants and trees. Roger and his staff have been busy. We'll be going back for our lobster, so will report on that soon.
Pic: Infini's the only sailboat here. View from the 4 Seasons Restaurant.

5-2 Les Saintes

Pos: N15deg52.00min / W061deg35.43min. Our baked goods were delivered at 0700, as promised. By 0730, we departed for Les Saintes, having looked at the weather and figuring it wasn't going to get any better for a bit, and also staging us so much closer for our run to Portsmouth, Dominica. Of interest, the forecast SE wind never developed in the lee of Guadeloupe. What we got was W-NW winds, from 6-12 knots. At the end of the island, the wind finally changed to ESE-SE, but, again, was variable from 4-18 knots. Lots of sail changes, lots of motor sailing in the calms. Overall, however, it was a lot drier than our sail yesterday, with the exception of one rain squall that packed winds up to 34 knots and white-out conditions; it only lasted for about 20 minutes. We're anchored in 31' and plan to stay for a few days; all's well aboard.
Pic: Always entertaining watching the different classes of sailing instruction. Amazing how they maneuver amongst the moored boats and many fast ferries.

5-1 We're on the move!

Pos: N16deg18.49min / W061deg47.92min. After a month in Antigua and Barbuda, it felt good to slip the anchor and head south. We had a boisterous run to Deshaies, Guadeloupe in 18-25 E-ESE-SE winds, anchoring in an incredibly busy spot. Fortunately for us, a private fishing boat failed to hook up and left a prime area just as we got there, freeing it up for us to drop the hook and relax. After, about another 6 boats came in, a few tried to anchor too close but were actually called off by our neighbors, and we realized what a prime piece of real estate we had lucked into. The currents here have everyone turning in circles, so you really need a lot of room to anchor and spin around. One piece of advice to those following: if you're late and it looks tight, anchor outside everyone else. The holding will be good, although a bit deeper, but no one will get upset and chase you off. Just saying. One of the locals, (Lydia) has a business delivering groceries, ice, vegetables, meats, fish, lobster, and wine & spirits to the boats, and will also arrange laundry, taxi, etc. Her cell is +59 06 90 40 0588. We ordered a couple of pan chocolate, pan raison, and baguettes for delivery early tomorrow morning; the good life.

4-27 Hermitage Bay, Five Islands Harbour

Pos: N17deg05.24min / W061deg53.77min. We dropped Sonja off as planned; the girls in the office at NS Marina couldn't have been more helpful. After breakfast #2, we decided to sail towards Jolly Harbour. Of note, there's a burn going on somewhere around Deep Bay, and it's very noxious. Shame it is, as the bay is beautiful and a good anchorage, but it's hard to breathe with the awful smell around. We bypassed it and went down to Five Islands Harbour, anchoring in 15' in Hermitage Bay in front of the Hermitage Resort. This is just alongside Jolly Harbour nearby, but less crowded or built-up, and the resort has unlocked wifi. The weather looks like it will take a turn for the worse, so we'll be looking at it closely over the next few days to figure out when we'll check out of Antigua (there's Customs & Immigration in Jolly Harbour) and head down island.
Pic: Arriving Hermitage Bay

4-26 Great Bird Island snorkeling

Pos: N17deg08.66min / W061deg43.77min. Yesterday, we threaded our way thru a few reef areas, visible in good light, and anchored behind Great Bird Is. Folks visit here because of the clarity of the water, the good snorkeling, and the lack of any housing or buildings. It's also a lot less crowded than many of the other anchorages. We donned our snorkel gear and during our stay here took the dinghy both just north and south of Great Bird Is. to explore. The reef was mostly washed out, but the coral was making a resurgence in many areas. The fish were small but colorful and plentiful. In two days snorkeling, we spotted a 4' barracuda, several sting rays, a live conch (unbelievable), and a lobster (again, unbelievable. Of note, the conch and lobster were on the small side...). There were many different varieties of coral. The water clarity was very good, but we'd advise to be aware of the current, dependent on the state of the tide and phase of the moon. We climbed the volcanic rock trail from the beach which leads to the top of Great Bird Is. It's a very easy walk and takes about 15 minutes. Besides the great views, there are also two blow holes at the summit to look down into. Long-tailed tropic birds hang out here also. So, it's been a good week but it's gone by way too fast...Sonja leaves tomorrow, so we'll be taking her to North Sound Marina (near Crabb Point) to take a taxi (or hitch a ride) to the airport. We'll post pictures and videos when we get decent internet.
Pic: On one of the beaches at Great Bird Island; our morning excursion waiting for the sun to be overhead.

4-24 Jumby Bay, Long Island

Pos: N17deg09.37min / W061deg45.86min. The anchorage at Jolly was a bit rolly, and we were able to sail in wind of SE 15 most of the way around the NW corner of Antigua to North Sound, our destination being Long Island. The water was a bit thin in places, but no real worries. It's a lot more developed around here than we had thought, with private houses, resorts, and commercial, industrial buildings everywhere. We anchored in 9' in front of the Jumby Bay Resort, where rooms go for between $1400-$6000USD per night; dinners are, by arrangement, $175USD/pp...Hmmm. We dinghied over to a small rock formation and donned our snorkel gear. The reef was totally washed out, but there were lots of small fish, and I spotted one lobster. It's calm here, the views are (as one might expect in this stretch of neighborhood) beautiful, and we're enjoying the privacy. In the evening, we took out the iPad and fired up Night Sky; always a fun app.
Pic: Sonja having a go at the helm.

4-20 Sonja arrives!

Our friend from back home, Sonja, arrived today without drama, bringing the rain with her. As an experienced traveler, she packs light, and getting her and one carry on bag aboard was easy, as was her introduction to life aboard. The racing and activities were winding down but we did attend the "Red Hat" party at Pappas' Restaurant/Bar Sat. evening. There, locals and participants mixed in easy company, although the police presence and ambulance on standby weren't that reassuring to some of us. So, the deal was, if you bought enough rum drinks, you were given a coupon, redeemable for a Mount Gay Rum red hat with the Classic Yacht Regatta logo on it. By 2000 hours, they ran out of free rum, and shortly thereafter ran out of red hats; proving, once again, that sailors will do almost anything to get something free, especially a red hat. We're pretty sure that a bunch of sailors would be having the morning blues, excluding us, of course. Overall, a good time with good folks, music and food, and a nice way to introduce Sonja to some of the benefits and pitfalls of attending a regatta....The next morning, we departed Falmouth for Jolly Harbour. The boat directly in front of us had to move as he was, as we had previously warned him, directly over our chain; we were quite happy to get out of the crowd. Wind was SE and we were able to sail Goat Head Channel pretty much the entire way, and looked forward to a bit of provisioning at the Epicurean Supermarket as well as walking a few roads. There's not so much good hiking around, but you can just walk wherever, so getting to some good beaches and viewpoints was easy. Sonja's acclimating easily, going to bed early evening, waking up early morning, and integrating into ship board life as though it were a second skin.
Pic: Showing Sonja around Nelson's Dockyard (The Pillars)

4-15 Update and new video link

The Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta has been hosted by the Antigua Yacht Club for 29 years. There's a full week of racing and activities, this year sponsored by Panerai and Mount Gay Rum Distilleries, amongst others. The latter is reflected in the shoreside activities of rum tasting, complementary drinks, a cocktail competition...you get the idea. For day one of racing, we tied our dinghy to a snorkeling buoy at the mouth of Falmouth Harbour and had a pretty good view of the single-handers. Today, we upped the ante and drove out to one of the large buoys placed for the race boats to round; a bird's eye view. The wind and current would push us north a bit, but we motored back to get the best views of the fleet. Sue was busy taking pictures and videos (a difficult proposition on a small dinghy moving around, even in a light chop), and I made sure we were well clear of everyone as they approached the buoy and tacked. All the boats were flying their full sail inventory, as apparent wind was about 8 knots. Crews lined the rails and we were about 30'-50' away from most of them. The larger boats had a bow person placed to signal the helmsman and advise timing. The attached video was one of the more exciting maneuvers we witnessed. The larger boat, named "Rebecca", is a 140' ketch designed by German Frers. Rebecca had tacked close to shore and was barreling towards the mark (and us!) when two other boats came on and had starboard rights (that is, they had the right-of-way on Rebecca). We hadn't seen the William Tripp yawl "Lazy Leg" (Hinckley B-40) and the other schooner to its starboard side until late, and I realized it was going to be a very close thing, indeed. As all three boats raced to the buoy, Rebecca had to finally give way to the smaller boats as it couldn't reach the mark before them, so finally bore off about 30 degrees, putting her a hell of a lot closer to us than I wanted to be. You'll see the action up close; check out the two other boats to the starboard side of Rebecca, and between her and the buoy; enjoy the racing! In the non-racing scheme of things, I re-insured Infini thru Anjo Insurances here in Antigua, as our yacht insurance was set to expire and our previous underwriter didn't want to cover us here in the Caribbean. We thought it odd that they were willing to insure us as we went around the world, but obviously weren't interested in the northern hemisphere, hurricane-prone Caribbean region. Oh well, no worries; there's lots of competition in the insurance world seeking our premium dollar. We've also eaten some great food; Le Cap Horn and Trappas restaurants get very high marks for delicious food and excellent service.
You Tube video link: https://youtu.be/9r2qWBjCmzg

4-10 Falmouth

We had a boisterous sail back to Falmouth Harbour, anchoring amongst a gaggle of classic yachts and those of us who have arrived to oogle those classic yachts. We've seen some old friends (Stuart & Shelia, sv Imagine) and are meeting new ones. Today, the 11th, there was an gathering of Ocean Cruising Club members having a braii on the beach, as well as a "meet and greet" at the same time next to the Antigua Yacht Club sponsored by the Coconut Telegraph SSB participants. Meanwhile, two days ago, our Frigoboat freezer compressor decided to stop cooling, so we transfered our food to David & Marian's boat (Kilkea II), and Stuart and I took a look at things; we couldn't fix it. I aslo arranged to have a local chap come by to check things out, and Philmore (268 728 9448), was able to diagnose a blocked capillary tube, put another drier in line, and get the unit up and running. We're good for ice and ice-cream! Laundry to the laundromat this morning the 12th; we used Suzette and Olive, across the street from the fuel station in a yellow house. We're now at the Skullduggery Cafe here at the docks using their wifi. I didn't mention that many of us using T-Mobile Simple Choice plan are now without data here in Antigua. Apparently, it seems that T-Mobile changed their contract on April 1, are now with Cable & Wireless instead of Digicel, and, of course, there is no C & W here! And so it goes....
Pic: It was great seeing Stuart and Shelia again, as Imagine is heading back to the states.

4-7 Entering our 10th year aboard!

Another anniversary...we left our dock 9 years ago today! We feel so blessed to have visited the places we've been and met the people we've encountered. Many miles have passed under our keel and we look forward to sharing our continued adventures with you! We've also planned a few additions to this blog, and will post these when we get reliable internet (none here in Barbuda!). As always, your feedback is welcomed (svinfini at gmail dot com) and we hope our information is of benefit to our fellow cruisers who follow this way. Cheers!
Pic: Can't get enough of the beautiful sunsets...

4-6 Barbuda

Pos: N 17deg 33.27min / W061 deg 46.15min. Our passage from Deep Bay, Antigua to Cocoa Point was in ideal conditions, SE 10-15 knots, and we made good time in the beautiful turquoise-colored waters. There are a few reefs to avoid, so careful navigation is necessary, but with good light from behind, easily seen. We anchored in 14' sand and relaxed. Before our arrival in Barbuda, I had contacted George Jeffery (788-7067), a local guide, to arrange seeing the frigate bird colony that reside in the Codrington National Park Lagoon. Prices for entry to the colony, as well as the land taxi and George's fees, are found in Chris Doyle's "Guide to the Leeward Islands." It turned out that another 4 cruisers also wanted to see the frigate bird colony, so that lowered the overall land taxi costs per person. Pick-up was 1000 from the beach. We had no trouble landing our dinghy but the 4 cruisers in the other dinghy got absolutely swamped as they got turned sideways to the rolling surf. Dinghy landing in surf - never much fun. George Jeffery met us at the dock in Codrington, and so began our tour with him. He is a raconteur, very entertaining, and quite knowledgeable about the frigate birds. This was a lovely tour in the mangrove lined lagoon; short but scenic, and well worth it. After, our taxi driver stopped at one of the roadside stands for lunch, as we had requested "local food." I had curried venison, Sue had curried chicken; 25 EC each. Btw, there are wild (and semi-tame) horses and donkeys that roam freely around the island. This morning at sunrise, I saw a family of 3 horses; mama, poppa, and a small colt, running along the beach at the water's edge - how cool is that?!

4-3 Hiking day

At anchor, we stared across at Fort Berkeley, so started our day by walking there. Back-tracking just a little bit, we took the path that leads up and over to Pidgeon Beach. This is a billy goat path, up some fairly slippery rocks and narrow areas. We reached our objective, but since I really don't enjoy billy goat hiking, I wouldn't do this hike again, albeit the scenery and views were awesome. Later in the afternoon, David, Marion and ourselves walked up from Galleon Beach to the Shirley Heights Lookout Restaurant. Not such a bad hike, vertical but not slippery, and the views from the top across English Harbour were impressive, as were the 10 EC beer prices. For dinner, we decided to forego the crowds at the Lookout and hiked back down, dinghied to the dinghy dock, and walked the main road until we got to the Le Cap Horn Pizzeria Restaurant where we had delicious appetizers (salad with scallops and bacon) and pizzas. A wonderful way to end the day.

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4-2 Meeting old friends

The morning didn't start out too promising as it was pouring rain. By about 1000 it had stopped, and we dinghied in to meet up with David and Marion of Kilkea II who had emailed and let us know they were coming to Antigua. We hadn't seen them since Trinidad and it was great catching up. We did a bit of walking over to the Budget Marine store in Falmouth, then the girls drove over to Bailey's Supermarket with a friendly local who was leaving Budget at the same time; David and I walked there. Lunch was at one of the many small local restaurants which are plentiful around here; food was not gourmet but it was 5 beers for 20 EC. By the time we walked back to our meeting point, it was mid-afternoon, so we split up and made plans to go to the Shirley Heights Lookout tomorrow for a late afternoon happy hour and dinner.
The Cheeky Marlin on Galleon Beach was closed when we checked it out.

4-1 Road trip

We took the #20 bus from English Harbour to St. John, then the #17 bus from there to Jolly Harbour Marina. We had heard from a number of our cruising friends that they had hauled and stored their boats there, and all had good things to say about the experience. We saw the countryside close-up, the way we like it, and had a chance to interact with few local people along the way. The marina complex looks first rate, and the haul-out and storage facilities appear to provide ample protection should a dreaded tropical storm or hurricane come close. Of course, with a direct hit, all bets are off. From a financial perspective, I did a spread sheet between Power Boats and Peakes in Chagauramas, Prickly Bay Marina in Grenada, Antigua Slipway here in English Harbour and Jolly Harbour Marina. It's a complex thing. Amongst other considerations, any applied VAT, access to skilled workers, monthly add-ons, electricity costs, fares to airports, air fares home and back from the various islands, insurance requirements, and many other items factor into an overall picture of costs for a haul-out and storage period. We haven't made up our minds yet but are considering our options. It was late afternoon by the time we returned to the boat, so we went for a swim and relaxed after. Lots to think about.
Pic: VC Bird Monument near the central market, downtown St. John

Mar 30 - English Harbour, Antigua

Pos: N17deg00.20min / W061deg45.66min. We left at 0600 and motorsailed for about an hour until clear of the Kahounne Islands. Wind filled E-ENE 20-25 knots, gusts to 30, seas were mostly ENE 6'-8' and we plowed along at 7.5-8.4 knots under single reefed main, staysail, and about 1/2 the Yankee out. The autopilot did its great job, and we enjoyed the morning. That is, until about 5 miles out of English Harbour when we ran over an unmarked, and probably illegal, long line fishing net. It had no floats but was obviously weighted down. The 1/4" polypropylene line snagged our old lower bobstay fitting, and collapsed in a sharp "V" around us, as we were going so fast it was impossible to turn or slow down the boat and it was just as impossible to see the line beforehand in those conditions. We furled the jib, which slowed us down to about 5.5 knots, and I grabbed a sharp knife and boat hook. Fortunately, I was just able to lift the line high enough amidships for Sue to stretch over and cut it; we watched both ends stream quickly away. No harm, except I suspect our bottom paint suffered a bit. Dodged another bullet; a fin keeled yacht would probably have had more drama. About an hour later, we anchored in English Harbour, anxious to begin our adventures in this historic island. We organized the boat, launched the dinghy, and I went in to clear Customs and Immigration. They're very particular here, and don't want anyone except the captain of the vessel to leave the boat before formal entry requirements have been taken are of. That done, the Q-flag is down, and we're relaxing in the cockpit.
Pic: The entrance to English Harbor and our anchorage in Freeman's Bay, taken from Fort Berkley

Mar 29 - Deshaies

Pos: N16deg18.52min / W061deg47.93min. Today was a motorsail in light, flukey winds. The anchorage got crowded and we were quite close to the shoreline, but we're only here for one night, staging for an early morning departure to Antigua.

Mar 28 - Pidgeon Island

.Pos: N16deg09.72min / W061deg46.96min. We had a nice sail, at least part way, to the Pidgeon Island anchorage. We had to cross the 5 mile channel from Les Saintes to the mainland, the wind was strong, and we made good time. We had checked out at Terre de Haut, so didn't get off the boat.
Pic The west coast of Guadeloupe was a pleasure to behold

3-24 Full moon fun and a morning walk

The night before last was horrible on buoy #8. The current had swung us in all directions (Sue named it "The Full Moon Fiasco Dance") and we were at risk of hitting the boat next to us. We, and everyone else, were rolling terribly, and the mooring buoy was doing its best to scratch our paint. It was close to midnight and we were both on the bowsprit rigging up a line to a block on the code zero extension to try to hold off the buoy. I had yelled over to our neighbor that we were getting too close, but they didn't seem too concerned. Did I mention the roll was awful? Sue rested in the cockpit for a few hours; I got a few hours of disturbed sleep and took over watch very early morning. Not much rest for either of us. By 0700, I noticed a boat had left his mooring on the other side of the bay, so we slipped our lines and moved over to that mooring (#36). Although everyone is still rolling horribly, the wind is up (25-30 knots), and that's keeping us off the buoy. This morning, we hiked to Fort Napoleon. There's a wonderful museum that depicts in detail the battle of The Saintes that took place in 1782, which pitted the English (Admiral Rodney) vs the French (Admiral De Grasse). The English won, and the museum has done a very good job overall. The views from the Fort are also incredible.
Pic: An awful design for a mooring. We added a line from the end of our bowsprit to hold the buoy off when slack tide/no wind.

3-21 Terre de Haut, The Saintes

Pos: N15deg52.34min / W061deg35.15min. We departed Portsmouth early; probably too early, as the wind was light and variable for about 1 1/2 hours. In the pass between Dominica and Guadeloupe, the expected east wind filled in nicely at 18-22, and we enjoyed a great sail at 7-7.5 knots for most of it. We passed through SW Channel, and had an easy beat to about 1.5 miles from the anchorage here at Terre de Haut, but had to motor the last little bit with wind on the nose at 20-22 knots. No drama. We picked up a buoy at 1030 hours, sat back and enjoyed the scenery. Later, we checked in at Multiservices; easy. The folks from sv Tevai, moored directly in front of us, stopped by to chat as they had seen our SSCA Commodores burgee (they are Commodores also), and we ended up going to dinner with them (Tim and Pattie) and their friends Charlie and Anina of sv Prism, at Couleurs du Monde. We enjoyed good food, good company, and didn't have to do the dishes! Btw, for anyone taking a mooring ball, we suggest you run 2 separate lines; one from the starboard side back to the starboard cleat, then one from the port side back to the port side cleat, both lines through the mooring eye. This gives added protection in case one of the lines chafes through, as happened to a large Oyster in the Portsmouth anchorage several nights ago who had only used one line to tie to the mooring ball, running that one line from starboard to port - not a good idea. Tomorrow, we'll explore the village here and plan to go trekking to the various forts on this small island.
Pic: The Boat House, built in 1942, now the residence of a medical doctor.

3-20 Syndicate tour and PAYS BBQ

We were picked up at 0700 to take the Syndicate/Milton Falls tour. This is about a 5 hour tour, but driving there is necessary as it’s just too far away to walk there. Our driver, Geoff, was a local, and very conversant about most things botanical. He was constantly either stopping the van (there were 8 of us), or along our trail through the rain forest, to point out and explain various trees, plants and vegetables. The walk wasn’t too taxing, and there was one viewing area where we had hoped to see various parrots, especially the Sisserou parrot, the national bird of Dominica. It was not to be. We heard a few parrots, but never sighted one. We then drove a short distance to the Milton Falls. After a short walk (and $5 USD Park entry fee), we walked along the river bed until we reached the falls. Most of us went in; the water wasn’t too cold, wasn’t too deep, and the setting was beautiful. We picked and ate some grapefruit, and took the ride back. This was a nice tour; we would have enjoyed spending more time at the viewing area just sitting around and contemplating, but with 8 of us, that didn’t happen. Cost 100 EC/pp. In the afternoon, we dinghied over to see Daniel and Carole, and get a close look at Folligou. I haven’t been on their website yet, but it was awesome to see this high-tech boat close up, and it’s a beauty. Later, we had happy hour with David and Chiz, after which we all dinghied over to attend the weekly Sunday PAYS BBQ which began at 1900 hours. We estimated about 75 cruisers attended, and the PAYS folks put on quite a spread. Unlimited rum punches, and a choice of wahoo, chicken or pork, along with salad and rice was served. Cost 50 EC/pp; well worth supporting, and delicious. We left at about 9:45, and had only one rum punch, as we’re planning an early departure tomorrow morning for The Saintes.
Pic: Michael enjoying the blast of water from the falls.

3-19 Cabrits walk

Along with Daniel and Carole (sv Folligou), we dinghied over to the PAYS dock and walked over to the Cabrits National Park. If no cruise ship is in, you can use their dinghy dock by the fort, but if there is a cruise ship at the terminal, the nearest dock is at PAYS. We paid our $5 USD Park entry fee, got a map, and started off. Unfortunately, the map was far from accurate, but it’s hard to get lost on a small hill of land. We walked up and down old river beds, finding the ruins of the old battery, officers’ quarters, troop barracks, guard house, Commandant’s quarters, powder magazine, and parade grounds. Some of the restoration of Fort Shirley has been completed, other areas are as they were back in the 18th century. There are lots of old cannons lying around (literally), and a small museum on the park grounds. There is an east and west Cabrits, and this is where the English looked over towards Guadeloupe where a famous naval battle took place. The wind was against the English ships in Portsmouth joining their fleet just a few miles away, so all they could do was watch from their fort and hope for victory (indeed, they won that battle and the French conceded). It was a lovely walk, not too strenuous, and we spotted the Antillian crested hummingbird, lots of bananaquits, several snakes, and your usual assortment of chameleons. Many of the trees have labels, making identification easy. At happy hour, we had David and Chiz (sv Platina), as well as Daniel and Carole to Infini, and we all enjoyed swapping stories and meeting up once again.

Mar 18 - Indian River tour

We joined two other yachties and Alexis took us to see the Indian River. It is now a protected area and motors are not allowed. Pulling an 18' heavy wooden runabout with 5 people (or more) against the current is not for the weak. There are 365 rivers in Dominica, and this one flows to the ocean, making a brackish mixture which allows abundant fish species and wild life. The bloodwood trees are huge, with long vines and an overhanging canopy. Land crabs scuttle along the banks. Part of the film Pirates of the Caribbean 2 was filmed here, and there is a recreation of Calypso's hut to see, as well as the beautiful Cobra's Bar (not in the film!), where we enjoyed a cup of fresh hot cocoa tea, mixed with grated cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. All along the way, Alexis gave a running commentary about the river, the plant, animal and bird life, and the ecology efforts underway to teach the children how to preserve their unique heritage. Of note, Alexis told us that the river is cleaned daily by assigned workers of any debris that washes down from villages up river. All good stuff, very enjoyable, duration a little over 2 hours; cost including the Park fee, 150EC/pp; recommended.

Mar 17 - North island tour

This morning, Lawrence, one of the PAYS boat boys, came zooming up to us at 0800 and asked if we were ready. "Ready for what?" we asked. "For your tour of the island," says he. Hmmm. Alexis said he'd contact us; we hadn't heard anything, and apparently he and Lawrence had added us to a van full of people going on a tour of the northern part of the island. OK...We quickly gathered our stuff and were ready in 5 minutes for the short ride to the Sandy beach dock, where Anselm, our driver, gathered us up and we all ran to the waiting van. Inside, 6 people waited, all French, but they were kind enough to speak English, for the most part. Although some yachties rent cars, we, again, felt better about things letting a local navigate his way around narrow, twisting roads, dodging a bit of traffic, a lot of pot holes, and turning onto roads we, no doubt, would have missed. The countryside is so lush, a beautiful view awaiting around each curve. The mountains afford amazing vistas, the highest one was about 4700' elevation in the distance. We stopped at various viewing points, eventually winding our way around to the Kalinago Territory to be where the Carib Indian ancestors of today's inhabitants were first discovered by Columbus. Modern Kalinagos are known for their handicrafts, basket weaving and dugout canoe building. We didn't buy any canoes, but did purchase a beautiful, small multi-colored, double-layered woven purse-basket, made waterproof by the integration of banana leaves between the inner and outer layers. We also bought a small series of carved gourds which hang vertically in a row of three. The last gourds we bought similar were from Panama! Following, we made our way to the Pointe Baptiste Chocolate Estate where Alan Napier, of Scottish descent, has a small factory outside the town of Calibishe. His grandparents bought the property in 1930, and he now makes delicious chocolate in a variety of flavors in a lush, tropical setting. We ate lunch at the Islet View Restaurant, a very nice stop with, you guessed right, beautiful views. In fact, with the distant colored waters and reefs, it reminded us a bit of those waters in some parts of French Polynesia. Our last stop was the Emerald Pool in the Morne Trois Pitons National Park. A short, easy walk brought us to the pool, but only one of our group went into the water; tres froid. The ride back to Portsmouth was on the main road from Roseau northwards, and we had to divert around a few washed-out, damaged segments of the road; Hurricane Erika of Aug 2015 destroyed many houses and roads here. By 1630 hours, we arrived back to our starting point; a full day, well worth the effort and price (150EC/pp).

Mar 15 - Portsmouth, Dominica

Pos: N15deg34.96min / W061deg27.96min. Departing at 0600 yesterday, we had a great sail in 18-20 knots of E wind on the beam from St Pierre to Dominica. Reaching Roseau, the capital at around noon, we decided to press on to Portsmouth, at the extreme NW end of the island. Interestingly, our E wind changed to NW as soon as we passed Scott's Head, our southern most waypoint. Unfortunately, the wind then died, and we ended up motorsailing about 2 hours to the large bay of Portsmouth. Anchoring in 22' sand, we stowed the sails and relaxed; it was 1700 hours. I should also note that the winds coming into the bay were strong, 18-22, on the nose, of course. It seems we're under the influence of a weather trough, bringing steady rain. We've filled the tanks, have extra water sitting around, and would go dancing on deck but it's cold in the wind and downpour. I cleared into Customs this morning, riding to the fish dock with Alexis, one of the many boat boys who make their living meeting incoming boats and arranging buoys, rides to shore, arranging purchase of ice or other stuff, and their big item...tours. We're anchored a long way from the Customs or the fish dock, and it was pouring, so the $10 USD (return included) was well worth it; our dinghy is still on deck. Clearance took just a few minutes, cost 10 EC (a little over $3 USD), and clearance in and out is granted at the same time for a two week stay. Longer stays are permitted with a return visit to Officialdom. We had hoped to get the dinghy in the water earlier, but the rain has been non-stop, and is forecast to be around for the next few days. No fun hiking in the rain forest, or sight-seeing, in a down-pour; most of the time I can barely see the shore line. All's well, albeit a bit damp, aboard.

Mar 8 - Update

At 0830, we went to Sea Services, a nearby chandlary-boutique. Of note is that you can check in/out here using their computers. After, we took the 420 bus from the main bus station here out to the Galleria Mall to check it out. Unfortunately, we missed our exit and ended up spending an extra 30 minutes riding around! Just another way to see the area... Once at the mall, we found it to be quite similar to any large mall in the States. We should also note that our drive revealed a tremendous amount of road and building construction going on, surely providing for high employment around here. At anchor, it's been peaceful so far, as the front we're expecting will arrive tomorrow. Anchoring drills are still taking place, with boats anchoring too close to one another, a few raised voices, a few gestures, but no real drama. Life in a crowd.
Pic: We found great free internet at the Schoelcher Library; quite an impressive building! The library was first built in France back in 1889, then shipped piece by piece to the island as an exquisite monument to Victor Schoelcher the French abolitionist writer from the early 19th century.

Mar 6 - Bye to Ty and Hanne

We walked the town and located a few places Sue and I would come back to this coming week, such as the laundromat, fish market, the Carrefour store, the Leader Price store, various bakeries (have to get those baguettes and pain a chocolats), and the check-out building. With high NE winds expected, no one will be moving around going north; we can think of worse places to spend a week. The live band music on the waterfront is playing Cuban salsa and other music; a nice change from the extremely loud, aggravating crap they played at Gros Islet in St Lucia. We enjoyed our last sundowners (for a while!), and Ty downloaded all the underwater (and above water) pictures he took onto his storage card. It was with regret that I hoisted his heavy backpack to him in the dinghy, and we all took the short ride to the dinghy dock. Finding a taxi wasn't a problem for them to get to the airport at 7pm. As usual, we like to keep our good-byes short, so it was hugs and bye. Safe travels! Love you and it was a great visit!
Pic: You'd never know Hanne was a rookie at snorkeling...not anymore. Another natural fish in the water!