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 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!

Mar 5 - Fort de France

Pos: N14deg36.00min / W061deg04.19min. We motored across the bay to the FdF anchorage, just under Fort St Louis. High NE winds are forecast for the next 5 days or so, and we felt it afforded great protection. Also, Ty and Hanne depart tomorrow, so we were all set for them to pack and get ready for their return to Antwerp. We anchored in 18' mud, and enjoyed the high energy ambiance of being in the heart of the city.
Pic: The company we'll keep anchored here. Fort Saint Louis on the hill had it's start in 1638.

Mar 4 - Anse Dufour

Pos: N14deg31.60min / 061deg05.42min. We moved over to find better snorkeling and were well rewarded. The walls on both sides of the bay are rich with fish (small) and decent color in the coral. Turtles were plentiful, Hanne spotted a flounder, and there wasn't much roll, at least most of the time! A recommended stop.

Mar 2 - Anse Mitan

Pos: N14deg33.5min / W061deg03.4min. We had a nice sail in light 8-10 knot SW (yes, SW) winds south to Anse Mitan, arriving at 1400 hours. Initial snorkeling reports are disappointing; we'll report after more exploration.
Pic: We celebrated Hanne's birthday aboard. CHEERS!

Mar 1 - And then there was rum...

So much of the history of the islands in the Caribbean is related to rum. Being history afficionados, we walked a few kilometers to the Depaz Rum Distillery, enjoying the beautiful grounds and incredible machinery involved. I wasn't going to mention it, but yes, I did buy a bottle of VSOP. Come on...any distillery begun in 1651 gets my attention...On the snorkeling side of things, it's not been that impressive here, so we're planning on moving to Anse Mitan in the morning.
Pic: Checking out the working water wheel at the distillery.