Thursday, September 29, 2011

Up to date, more or less....

Well, we've left Grenada and a good WiFi connection on Monday, September 26th. We had almost caught up to ourselves on the blog, as we departed we had a draft for St. Vincent's and the Grenadines all set to go to press, but experienced some technical difficulties posting a video, which is a must see (Chula and dolphins, stay tuned) so this is a flash forward. Once we reestablish internet connectivity we will update the Grenadines as well as our three months in Grenada, including carnival. For now, we're back in the present.
We up'd anchor Monday the 26th at 1030 and headed due west along with "Pacifica" and our new buddy Alexander, a Russian from Colorado who now sails the Caribbean. Somewhere ahead of us is the crew of "Bag End", we'll make daily radio contact with them as we sail through the dreaded Venezuelan waters; not to make light the waters close to the mainland have proven treacherous for boaters over the last several years, however, the out islands with a few exceptions have been much kinder. Traveling with others or having predetermined check in times gives one a sense of security, however all must remain vigilant.

As we bid goodbye to Grenada we set a course of 270 degrees, kill the engine and sail, WOW! Making 5k life is good, however, we know the winds will disappoint come sun down and they do, so on with the engine and it's motor sailing again. Oh well. As we ghost through the night sans running lights we make our way west towards La Blanquilla. Other than the vessels we know of we see no other boats this night. By 0500 on Tuesday, 9/27 we have reefed sails with the engine off and are making 6k under sail, the start to a beautiful day as the sun rises behind us. Checking in with the Coconut Telegraph via the SSB we are updated on the weather ahead of us and assured of a good weeks weather window. Finally, after 174nm without issue we drop our anchor in 15' of water over sand and coral, 100yds from the beach abreast of "Pacifica", life is good. Alex informs us that appetizers and the main course are on him as he hooked a small tuna and two good sized barracudas this morning. Although we are skeptical of the barracuda we arrange for the side dishes. The tuna ceviche was excellent and the barracuda steaks were surprisingly mild. The good thing about these barracuda are that he caught them in open waters away from reefs, so they are unlikely to carry ciguatera. As we have all survived without symptom now for three days, all is good.

Boto is up bright and early and off for Islas los Roques, while "Pacifica" has decided to spend a few more days on Blanquilla, such is the cruising life. We will meet again, and soon. A repeat of our first day out as we sail along in light winds with full sails, a great day. However, by 1600 the engine is on and we are motor sailing again. We make our way at 5k waiting for the rising sun and renewed winds, we hope. No such luck, we have to motor sail into Los Roques. On the plus side, we are greeted by the welcoming committee at 1030 on the 29th. A large pod of dolphins are playing off the bow as Chula gives her hellos. Vicky wonders why the adults allow the young ones to play in traffic.

We decide to check in with the Coast Guard, just incase and they give us 2 days transit permission to stay in Los Roques, which by the way is a National Park, stay tuned for pics. This is a good opportunity for Ed to practise his Spanish. Well, to tell the truth I've learned many things in the last two years, many of which I always new but avoided doing. So I head into the office with a page of written expressions all set to go. I must have looked funny reading off my lines, the problem was, the Coast Guard Officer hadn't received the script. We manage, and are granted 'dos diaz' by Officer Rodriquez, although El Heffa had only suggested one day, guess it's my boyish good looks. Yes, Officer Rodriquez is female! It could have been that one of my written and perfectly delivered lines requested 'dos diaz", whatever, we're here. "Here", is anchored behind an isolated island in 30' of water with Pelicans standing on a reef a quarter of a mile in front of us and the sun lighting up a white sandy beach which we will hit tomorrow, giving Chula a run ion Venezuela. So that's about it we are alive and well and enjoying the hospitality of Venezuela, stay tuned. By the way, since the 26th we've covered a whopping 307nm, we could have walked faster, maybe!

For those heading west in the next few weeks/months, we'll give some details of our entire voyage once we reach Bonaire, we plan to spend some time in the Islas de Aves before leaving Venezuela, so we can offer a full description. To all, take care and fair winds.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Martinique to St. Lucia

Farewell to Dominica


Fort de France
 It's short hops from here on as we make our way down island heading for Grenada.  We decided to leave Prince Rupert and anchor for a night in Roseau, giving us a few miles head start the next morning for jumping off to Martinique.  Big mistake.  As we mentioned Dominica is steep, and that steepness is not just on shore.  We make it to Roseau to find that the water is over 100 feet deep less than one hundred yards from shore, kinda hard to anchor.  So we grab a mooring, compliments of Longsauce and Pancho, should we worry?  Of course the "anchorage" such as it is, is also exposed to the ocean swell, so as we sit tied to our US$25 mooring rock-n-rollin' we wonder, what are we doing?  We decide the best option is to kick off early, planning a midnight departure we get a reprieve as the swell falls off a bit, until 0400 that is.  So we're off before first light, and into the gentle swell of the open ocean before 0500 with full sail and NO ENGINE, ah, nap time.

Making our way into Fort de France, Martinique we are anchor down and relaxed just in time to watch a nasty little squall blow through.

This is what a squall looks like from the water.  Heavy rains and winds about 30-35k, basically a good opportunity to fill the water tanks and wash the decks, of course it is also a chance to test our anchoring skills, will it hold?  In the first picture you can just make out a small sailboat on the right side (double click on the photo to enlarge).  That boat is approximately 26' in length and is the home of Camu, a singlehanded sailor of unknown age from French Canada.  He has become somewhat infamous along the islands as he has on several occasions been asked to move on.  Of his many hobbies, he is currently tattooing himself, head to toe.  Doing the ink work himself, just wanted to be clear on that.  Below you can see that Ed has discovered the black and white setting on the new camera.

As we've arrived on a weekend things are fairly quite in this town.  Just right for a nice stroll through town.  The town has a European feel to it, in that the streets are narrow and the buildings old and close together, with some streets still sporting cobblestones.  Well, we also had our first taste of Mc'D's in several months.  Unfortunately we seem to have lost our immunity to fast foods as the cheeseburgers and fries do not sit well with us.  Oh well, back to fresh fish and goat.  Off to St. Anne.

St. Anne, Martinique
For those sailing to Martinique, St. Anne makes a much nicer anchorage than the Fort de France area.  For protection you can tuck up in the Cul-de-Sac du Marin either on anchor or a mooring, there is also a descent marin in Marin.  However, for picturesque, the anchorage just off of the town of St. Anne is wonderful.  We arrived as the weekend reggata, Combat des Cocques was kicking off, so we had front row seats to the racing.  Well, once again it's time to fetz.  Off to St Lucia, another staggering 30nm voyage.

While the trips are short they are in open ocean rather than coastal cruises, which gives us opportunities not usually found along the coastal waters.  Dun-dun, dun-dun, dun-dun.......
Nope it's not Jaws, it seems we are being accompanied to St. Lucia by a pod of Sperm whales.


Yet another wonderrful sailing day, what the hell.  Oops, we left on a Friday again, June 3.  Well, perhaps the gods think we're dense, becasue they were kind to us and we covered the 28nm in 3.5 hrs, the entire way under sail.  Anchor down in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia and guess what?... we have a WiFi signal on board, lets see what's happening in the world.  Oh well, nothing new.  Of course we do have the chance to stock up on fruits and veggies.
the fruit and veggie guy, Rodney Bay
We had spent some time on St. Lucia several years ago and planned a brief stopover, so we checked in and out in one shot, however we did revisit the Pitons and the beautiful coast, not too mention some of the local music.
Anse Chastenet

another bridge to no where

Petite Piton

Grande Piton

another day.......
Well, it's that time again, so we toss off the mooring lines in the shadow of Grande Piton and set a course for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a little bit longer hop this time of roughly 60nm, but the forecast is good.
what, you talkin' to me?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


the Emerald Pool, Dominica


As we bid John and Peggy farewell, we set sail on Saturday May 21st for the island of Marie-Gallant 20nm off the coast of Guadeloupe.  Marie Gallant is a beautiful island, it is also the island on which Steven Callahan made landfall after seventy-six (76) days lost at sea in 1982.  Steven's tale is recounted in the book "Adrift".

As has become the routine, we up anchor into overcast and rainy skies although the forecast was for sun and fun.  Oh well.  Of course we also had wind gusts to 30k, so we get there faster.  Covering the short distance in just over three hours and dropping the hook in ten feet of water close enough to the beach to swim ashore.  This is a short visit for us as we are heading down island to Dominica.  After two wonderful days ashore it is off to Dominica, a whopping 25nm trip, but an entirely different world.  Although Guadeloupe is beautiful and lush, Dominica seems to be the poster child for lush. WOW!

As happens in life from time to time, the 23rd of May turned out to be one of the best days under sail we've had in two years.  Making 5k of boat speed with a gentle swell we kick back and enjoy the ride.

As we sail into Prince Rupert Bay, Dominica we are met by Charlie Love, one of the omnipresent boat "boys" down island.  The boat "boys" help cruisers with any need be it fuel, water, lobster or moorings.  We thank Charlie, however we are looking for Martin on Providence as recommended by the crew of "Scorch".  We make our way to a nice spot and drop anchor and settle in for the rest of the afternoon.  We soon realize we'll need our rest as an island tour is in the making.

Bright an early on the 24th of May, that's 0800 we pile into Victor's bus with our tour guide Alexander, a.k.a Macaroni.  This will prove to be a fun filled and long day (12hrs.) with the crews of BOTO, "Light Heart", Peter and Martha and "Mazarin", Marcus, Marta and Fox (Fox is 18mths.)

Macaroni, Marta and Ed

the crew of "Mazarin"

Vicky, Peter, Martha and the gang

While such an outing gives one a tremendous appetite, we had no trouble filling our stomachs and backpacks during the trek.  We were able to satisfy our provisioning of fresh fruits for a while.

cava bread


more bananas





As you can see Dominica truly is green and lush and mountainous.  They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are several thousand words worth.....
While the sheer height of the island doesn't lend itself to many beaches, those that are there are wonderful.

Many of the trees we see in the rain forest are hundreds of years old;

and the waterfalls and streams provide fresh water to the entire island.


Vicky Lynn trailblazer