Saturday, 29 March 2014

11/2014 Dominica

Hi from Clare,                                                  Friday 28th March 2014

We arrived in Prince Rupert Bay Dominica last Sunday in time for the BBQ which is put on by the Professional Association of Yacht Services (PAYS). The BBQ is a fund raiser and pays for security patrols for the many cruising yachts that anchor here. The anchorage is run by the local "Boat boys" who in addition to ensuring security, arrange tourist trips, laundry, garbage collection and anything else needed.


The infamous Sunday BBQ
We went to the BBQ with our Dutch friends Martin and Anna on 'Acapella'. As you can see by the photos a fun night was had by all. The dinner of fish, chicken, rice and salad was accompanied by a never ending supply of rum punch. It was fun dancing with the boat boys but even more fun watching them dance by themselves and sing with eyes closed, arms extended and swaying to the beat.

In total contrast to this rowdy evening we next went on a very peaceful boat trip up the Indian River. This is a National Trust site and no motor vessels are allowed. The boat boys are qualified guides and row visitors one kilometre up the river which is quite an experience. The river quickly narrows and gets completely overhung by bloodwood trees and other long vines dangling over the river. The little shack in the photo was built for a television series called Naked and Afraid. Some scenes for Pirates of the Caribbean were also shot on this island. Our guide was very knowledgeable pointing out interesting flora and fauna and giving a brief description of the history of the area. We also enjoyed moments of utter tranquillity just gliding along the shady river listening to the bird life.


Indian River scenes with Albert our guide
We met an Aussie couple Max and Sandy on 'Volo' who have been cruising for thirty years. They designed and built their current aluminium yacht and have extensively cruised both North and South America including Alaska and Cape Horn. We had drinks on Eye Candy and heard many of their tales. They marvelled at our digital radar and commented that thirty years ago they only had a sextant and paper charts. They are currently heading for Labrador in Canada but before they leave, we are having return drinks and more tales on their boat tonight.
We also had our Dutch friends Martin and Anna for drinks on Eye Candy and last night we joined them on Acapella for return drinks. The good news is that Martin and Anna are also travelling south to Curacao so hopefully we will be able to enjoy their company for some time. It is terrific to have some friends to play with.

Yesterday we went for a bush walk through the Waitukubuli National Park. There are many hiking trails that are well sign posted. It was a very pleasant walk and mostly in the shade. We ended up in the little township along the waterfront.

Bush trail walking in the National Park
The local shops are small and have limited stock. There are many street stalls selling local fruit and vegetables. Late in the afternoon the fishermen return to sell their catch. It is certainly a lot different than buying fish at home which is usually beautifully displayed on ice and in an air conditioned shopping centre. Here the fish is thrown on a wooden table by the waterfront. The fisherman scales the fish flicking scales all over himself and anyone how stands too close. He chops the fish up with a huge knife and mallet and the flies are kept away by sloshing buckets of sea water over the table. However we happily bought a kilo of Mahi Mahi for $8.00 which was mouth watering and succulent. I'm happy to report that on the outskirts of town is a well stocked, air conditioned IGA supermarket. The price for imported goods is twice what I paid in America but I am just glad to have the products available. Local products however are very inexpensive; a double headed ice cream was less than $2.00.

We will stay in this bay for a few more days while the north swell drops down. We will then move down to the capital city of Roseau on the south west corner of the island.

Love Candy xx

At 11:05 AM24/03/2014 (utc) our position was 15°34.76'N 061°27.70'W

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Sunday, 23 March 2014

10/2014 Guadeloupe

Hi from Clare,                                                                Friday 21st March 2014

When last I wrote we were anchored in the lovely bay of Deshaies on the North West corner of Guadeloupe. Every day the numbers in the anchorage swell and contract as many boats travelling north and south along the island chain stop here. I think if we just stayed here we would catch up with lots of friends.


Views around the Botanical Gardens

We had an enjoyable evening with Salty Dawg American friends Mat, Tricia and daughters Cary and Ginny on "Music" plus three friends from other boats. As the evening progressed Cary and Ginny played the cornet and the clarinet and we had a sing along. They certainly lived up to the name Music as they had a comprehensive repertoire and even knew the words to Waltzing Matilda. Tricia is a fabulous cook and so we were well fed with homemade pizza and delicious carrot cake.

On Friday we walked a kilometre and a half up the mountain to visit the Guadeloupe Botanical Gardens. It was a therapeutic trip to escape from the blue and white of sea life and fest our eyes on greenery and vivid colours. The gardens were beautifully laid out with fish ponds, a bird enclosure, a pond with pink flamingo, waterfalls and lovely plants and trees from all over the world. Australia was represented by two Norfolk Pines from the Norfolk Islands. I was hoping to see a gum tree, but no. It cost $25 for Adults and $15 for children under 12 years which I thought was a bit expensive particularly for a family outing. However, the place was packed as there was a school excursion; goodbye to tranquillity.

The following day we went for a 2 kilometre walk to the surf beach. We spent a pleasant afternoon watching how the French do it. There was a lovely shady area at the back of the beach where many families enjoyed a BBQ and a few drinks. Some had guitars and played softly; others attached hammocks to trees and relaxed with a book. We watched a young family on the beach with three children. The girl was about three and twins that were just walking. The father took both the twins into the water one at a time. He held them high up and then he submerged himself under the water. All we could see was his arms out of the water with the baby suspended. He did this a few times with the baby watching and then he dunked the baby completely under the water. The baby came up spluttering a bit but squealed with delight and strained every little muscle to get back under the water again. It was a joy to watch as clearly both children loved the water.

Deshaies River walk and Main square in Pointe-a-Petrie

We commenced but did not complete the River Walk. This takes two to three hours and consists of scrambling over or jumping from rock to rock along a river bed. We expected to find a track next to the river but it was thick bush on both sides. We gave up after half an hour as I was wearing thongs and was concerned about slipping off a rock and spraining an ankle. So we had a swim in one of the fresh water rock pools instead which was lovely and refreshing and much more civilized.

Dinghy dock and Main street of Bourg, des Saintes
On Monday we caught the bus and had a hair rising trip along the north coast to the town of Pointe-a-Pitre. We sat in the front seat of a huge coach so we could have a good view. The road was hilly and wound around the coastline. The driver drove like a maniac, blowing the horn and waving to his many friends. At times it was quite terrifying as the wheels of the bus were behind us and so the front of the bus hung over a drop before the buss turned the corner; all I could do was close my eyes and try and relax. (It reminded me of a bus trip we had around the hills on the Greek Isle of Simi when a passenger made the sign of the cross at every corner). The ride home was better as we caught a smaller bus and sat further back. The good news is, the trip took one hour and forty five minutes and so we saw a bit of the country side. The town of Pointe-a-Pitre was fairly unremarkable.

We sailed south down the west coast of Guadeloupe and stopped at Pigeon Island. The main attraction is the Cousteau Underwater Park. We went for a snorkel, the fish were pretty but there was no coral. We decided to move on as the boats in the anchorage were rolling. We planned to call into the township of Basse-Terre on the southern tip of the island but by the time we got there is was blowing 30 knots. There was nowhere safe to leave the boat and getting ashore by dinghy would have been very difficult.
We put two reefs in the main and hoisted the storm jib to go around the southern corner and beat to windward across the five mile channel to Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe. We have been here before in 2012 and it is lovely to come back. We are in the very quiet anchorage of Pain de Sucre which is a short dinghy ride into town. The cruise ships come and go and the businesses in town open in time to cater for the huge influx of tourists.
We know a number of boats here from the Salty Dawg Rally, the OCC net or people we have met along the way. Some of them are travelling the same direction as us and so we won't be short of company.

We are not sure how long we will stay here but our next stop will be the island of Dominica. Our cruising friends speak highly of this island and so we are looking forward to the adventure.

Love Candy xx

At 2:17 PM20/03/2014 (utc) our position was 15°51.69'N 061°36.08'W

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Friday, 14 March 2014

9/2014 St Kitts & Nevis

Hi from Clare,                                      Thursday 13th March 2014

When last I wrote we were in Nonsuch Bay on the east side of Antigua. We stayed for four days in this lovely calm anchorage tucked in behind a reef. Unfortunately the kite boarders enjoy the calm too. There have been a few reports of the kites knocking the wind instruments off the top of masts. We moved away to a smaller bay to be on the safe side. We then sailed around to Jolly Harbour on the west side of Antigua to restock our perishable goods. We left Antigua on Saturday after spending a month circumnavigating the island. It is a beautiful island with wonderful anchorages on all four sides. So it was with a little sadness that we left to continue on our adventure.

Hermitage Estate
Our next stop was the island of Nevis which in the 1700s was under British rule for an extended time. Horatio Nelson was stationed here for three years as a captain in the British Navy in the 1780s. At that time there were 1000 whites and 8000 slaves on the island. We did a tour of the island and visited Hermitage Estate, c1640, where Horatio married Fanny Nesbit the daughter the Chief Judge in 1785. The estate is one of the smaller plantations but the house is believed to be the oldest existing wooden house in the Lesser Antilles. As you can see by the photos it is very nicely maintained.

Hermitage Estate lounge room & Golden Rock Plantation Estate
Nevis is very mountainous and is covered with dense rain forest. We stopped off at a number of sugar mills and plantations now operating as holiday locations. These establishments have private units, swimming pools and restaurants nestled in amongst the greenery and guests enjoy panoramic views of the sea and mountainous St Kitts a few miles away. It certainly is a very peaceful setting for a relaxing holiday. In fact I felt like stretching out and having a snooze by the pool; oh well perhaps another time.


Views around Charlestown, Nevis

We also explored the main township of Charlestown. It was Sunday and everything was shut, I could take some photos without cars and people in the way. Not the case the following morning when we returned to visit the museum. The town was jumping, it was also the school's annual sport day and so the megaphone was blasting and the music was very loud; it certainly was a striking contrast.

We went across to St Kitts the following morning. This is a cruise ship destination and the town was flooded with tourists. The only way we could get to Customs was through the duty free shopping area. I guess in a predominately black society Andrew and I look like we are off the cruise ship. We were driven crazy by all the touts selling island tours, not to mention the fellow with three monkeys who wanting us to hold them for a photo opportunity; no thanks. 

Basseterre, St Kitts
Andrew likes to joke with the touts by saying "What makes you think I'm a tourist? See my brown legs and sandals, that's a clue to tell you I'm not from the cruise ship on a few weeks holiday". We only spent a few hours in Basseterre, St Kitts as we decided over a cup of coffee to sail to the island of Montserrat that afternoon. We had a good sail on the wind and motored the last three miles to arrive at Montserrat at 7.30pm in the dark.

The erupting volcano on Monterrat
We had no intention of exploring Montserrat as it is an active volcano and since the beginning of our cruising adventure this is volcano number six. It started erupting in 1995 and has destroyed half the island. We left the following morning and passed on the east side of the island to avoid the plume from the volcano; a dramatic view in the early morning.

We had a fast sail at 60 degrees apparent and completed the 41 miles to the French island of Guadeloupe in 6 hours. We arrived here yesterday around 1.30pm. We are anchored in the peaceful bay of Deshais on the North West corner of the island. We checked in yesterday and enjoyed the ease of the French system where we can do a self check in on a computer terminal instead of having to find the Customs Office and navigate the language.

This is our first visit to Guadeloupe and so we will be here for a couple of weeks exploring the island and enjoying fine cheese, pate and crunchy baguettes.
Love Candy xx

At 11:00 AM13/03/2014 (utc) our position was 16°18.46'N 061°47.88'W

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Tuesday, 4 March 2014

8/2014 Barbuda

Hi from Clare,                                 Monday 3rd March 2014
Well we have spent the last week on the Island of Barbuda which is thirty miles north of Antigua. Apart from the most magnificent beaches you could every hope to see, other points of interest are a couple of expensive resorts, a frigate bird colony and the small town of Codrington.

Frigate Bird Rookery

We spent hours each day walking along the broad pristine beaches and swimming in the shallows. The eleven mile beach is a pretty creamy-pink colour due to the red coral reef off shore. Fortunately the weather was perfect and so we enjoyed sunny days with big blue skies, white fluffy clouds, dazzling aqua water and flat calm conditions.

The Cruising Guide we are using is 2000-2001edition and so some of the information within is outdated. It did outline however that dinner at the nearby resort was an expensive undertaking. On a few occasions in the evenings we watched fellow cruisers dressed for dinner dinghy across to the resort only to return to their boat almost immediately. On one of our walks we checked out the resort and found that to dine there a 'day pass' was needed for the price of $1,000. I agree that the location is stunningly beautiful but I have to say that I thought the resort was very ordinary. Not only could we hear their generator running we could also smell the diesel fumes.

On another occasion we walked to the Cocoa Point Lodge which has a number of private units on the water. Once again a stunning location and although we don't know the price, suffice to say we saw guests arriving in a helicopter. No bashing across the sea for these guys.


The interior of Barbuda has a salt water lagoon and is home to a large Frigate bird rookery (as large as those in the Galapagos). As you can see by the photos we visited the rookery along with another cruising couple we had meet on the beach the previous day. The rookery was a spectacle especially the nesting male frigate bird with his bright red gular pouch. However no one prepared us for the smell which unfortunately or fortunately we couldn't capture for you on the photos.

On the way back from the rookery we called into the little township of Codrington (to visit the human rookery). We had to pay a small fee to Codrington Council for our trip to the rookery. There wasn't much in town but it was lovely to watch the kids playing in the school ground. There wasn't any need for a teacher to be on playground duty as the local mothers do the supervision from the street. At one point a bit of a playground scuffle broke out and instantly a couple of mothers came up to the school fence and shouted at the offender; one of the benefits of living in a small community.

Main street Codrington and the Primary School

We reluctantly left Barbuda yesterday and sailed to Nonsuch Bay on the east side of Antigua. We were close hauled with ten knots of breeze and enjoying a pleasant sail when there was a bang and our jib dropped to the deck and fell overboard. That got our attention, we scrambled up to the bow and pulled the sail back onboard and tied it to the deck. The shackle on the head had broken after nine years of use. Once we anchored in Nonsuch Bay Andrew went up the mast and retrieved the halyard so we could set things right again.

We will stay in Antigua for a few more days. Our visa's run out on the 11th at which time we will bid farewell to this wonderful island and continue on our adventure.
Love Candy xx

At 12:06 PM28/02/2014 (utc) our position was 17°37.51'N 061°51.11'W

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