Thursday, February 08, 2007

Dominica to Antigua

Sunday 21st January 2007

After yesterdays exertions we decided to have a lazy day and explore downtown Roseau.

Not the best day to go, as Sunday is a day of rest and none of the shops were open. On a previous trip (when we did customs & immigration) the city was bustling with markets and lots of locals milling about.

Roseau is a mixture of beaten up shacks & well kept houses.

Chicken & chips at KFC and back to the boat.

The locals are really friendly and talk to you, the Rasta’s walk past giving you the laid back lazy 2 finger salute, not the victory salute or the rude one, but the peace sign.

A little girl walked past with her brother wearing a pretty dress with bows in her hair and Marie said “Don’t you look pretty” she beamed a beautiful smile and swirled around holding her dress. It was so sweet! The parents here have done a wonderful job on bringing their kids up.

Monday 22nd January 2007

I’m not sure if we have mentioned this but on Saturday we invited Marie & Alan to extend their holiday by another week, the reason being that they are great company plus we were running out of time and they would miss loads of islands as we would have to make a mad dash to Antigua. It was a hard decision to make but after they thought long and hard about it, (1.5 seconds) they decided to try to change their flights.

Yesterday Pete & Alan went to Octavious’ house as he had said they could use his computer to try online to change their flights. Unbelievable but there is no facility online to change flights with Virgin Atlantic. Someone should tell Richard Branson as you can with British Airways! They tried calling Virgin and all offices were closed.

Anyway this morning they were successful and the flights were changed giving them another week. Pete downloaded Skype (you can use Skype to make calls at 1 pence per minute as it uses the internet) on Octavious’ computer and added some credit for him so that he could make calls cheaply.

We upped the anchor and started to make our way out of the bay and Octavious roared up on his motor boat saying “I won’t forget you guys, you were the best”. He said he would call his friend in Portsmouth to let him know we were coming and we should look out for a boat called “Providence”.

It was a very gentle sail by headsail only and as we approached Prince Rupert Bay at 3pm (we left at midday) in the distance we saw a boat roaring towards us, it turned out to be Providence. He said that Octavious had called him and he’d come out to greet us.

By the time we’d put Nadezhda to bed it was getting late so Pete and I made a dash into town to pick up provisions

It was poorer than Roseau with little shacks sitting on stilts, but even though it looked a little desperate, it had a different charm about it. I couldn’t help but laugh when I spotted a cat with a bow tie around its neck!

Portsmouth Sunset

Tonight’s menu was veggie curry. Unfortunately it lacked veggies and it consisted of potatoes, onions & tinned sweet corn and peas. As I have mentioned in the past provisioning is a nightmare! It looked liked something that cat had chucked up and maybe was a little too spicy for Marie & Allan but they were gracious dinner guests and made all the right noises. Guess what was for dinner the next night? Poor them!

Earlier on in the afternoon we’d agreed to take a trip up Indian River with Martin (he was the guy on Providence) as it was an early start of 7am so we all had an early night.

Tuesday 23rd January 2007

Martin arrived on the dot at 7am and we headed off for Indian River. Trips to Indian River (mini –Amazon) are done by oar power only so once inside the reserve all engines have to be turned off, Martin rowed.

Martin - Heading for Indian River

The reason for leaving early was so that we would arrive when the birds were waking up.

It was amazing and like something out of a Disney movie set! Tall trees with sculptured twisted roots reaching down into the water, trees & vines making a canopy above you. The brightly coloured humming birds going about their business and the morning bird song gave Indian River a real sense of tranquillity and peace.

Martin told us that once he’s climbed up a tree to have a look at a humming birds nest and the humming bird had flown straight in front of his eyes as if to say “Don’t touch my eggs or I’ll have you”. A wonderful moment for him as this little bird was willing to take on human in order to protect its young.

Parts of Dominica have been used in movies and a scene in Pirates of the Caribbean 2 had been filmed in Indian River.

Indian River

Apparently the makers of Pirates of the Caribbean were really only interested in disabled people. The local Caribs were asked to cut off their hair and when they refused the film makers offered them 1000 East Caribbean Dollars (£250) to do it… Funny really but they changed their minds.

He made Marie a humming bird out of a palm leaf, which is currently sitting on a picture in the saloon of the boat.

In the afternoon we wandered into town and we received a wonderful welcome from the locals. Marie bought souvenirs (I can’t say what as they are gifts for family back home) and the chap she bought them from was so enchanted with her that he came out to Alan (Marie wasn’t there) and asked if she wore earrings as he would like to give her a pair. See what I mean!

It’s quite sad really that the people are so poor as they have been wonderful to us and there’s no sign of jealousy. It broke our heart when “Christian”, a boat man paddled out to us on a surf board selling fruit, poor thing was struggling to make a living. We now have a boat full of fruit, which we’ll probably throw away. We don’t like to barter here as the locals are having a hard time.

You can see evidence of Hurricane Lenny on the shore. Large ships strewn on the beach. We were amazed that no one had salvaged the boats or the insurance companies hadn’t paid up to remove them.

The Clan with Hurricane debris behind

All in all another superb day in paradise and curry for dinner tonight!!

Portsmouth High Street

Wednesday 24th January 2007

Sad day today as we have to leave Dominica behind and head off to Les Saints (a set of small islands off Guadalope).

Interesting sail as at first we had fluky winds but as we passed the headland the winds stabilised and we had a cracking sail.

Another English boat had the cheek to overtake us but Nadezhda being Nadezhda wasn’t having this so we tweaked the sails and eventually left them behind. I wanted to put the staysail up so that we could really slam dunk them but I was out voted as the general opinion was that they had been humiliated enough, damn!

It turned out that the other boat belonged to Stewart & Tara (they came on the waterfall trip with us in Roseau) being a true Lady & Sportswoman I said “We didn’t realise it was you but it wouldn’t have made any difference as we still wouldn’t shown any mercy” Tara was gracious in defeat and said that “Mange Tout didn’t like to be beaten”. Shame!.

We anchored at Anse Du Bourg a sizeable bay in Terre De Haut, Les Saintes.

It was a complete culture shock! Smart restaurants, chic boutiques and very, very French ( well it is a French Island).

It’s a very pretty little village with painted houses that sparkle like new coins. The streets were awash with tourists that had been taken from a cruiser to expand the islands wealth by spending vast amounts of money in the shops. Very different to its poor neighbour Dominica.

Provisioning was a dream! We had quiches, pate and lovely French bread. It was the most delicious thing we had tasted in months, as we haven’t had pastry since we left the UK.

Pete bought me a lovely brown cotton dress and Marie treated me to a brightly coloured sarong. Thank you!

It was a lovely island but totally out classed by Dominica, the locals being French don’t smile and if you want to buy something so be it but don’t expect them to be grateful as if you don’t buy it there’s many and I mean many more that will.

I think the problem for me was that I totally fell in love with Dominica and both Pete and I prefer less manicured islands (Mustique is exempt as it had been a dream to go there).

We decided later on in the day to move and anchor off another small island “llet a Cabrit” which was very pretty but the problem was space. The anchorage was crowded and there was no room at the inn. We dropped the anchor and then decided that we were too close to other boats and the shore and if the wind picked up (and it did) we could find ourselves in a nightmare situation. Pete and I do not like to be anchor buddies with other boats so we decided to head back to Anse Du Bourg.

On the way back a squall hit us, Marie & Allan took refuge and Pete & I got wet and cold due to high winds. Good job that we moved!.

Another Fine Sunset - Les Saintes

Friday 26th January 2007

We left Les Saintes bound for Guadaloupe relatively early at 08:30am.

Being at bit flash we decided to sail off the anchorage, so, up went the main sail, anchor up and off we went.

Light winds all the way until we reached Guadaloupe. It then became a broad reach until we rounded the headland and then the wind just died.

Pete was concerned about the entrance to the marina as the pilot book had said that the entrance was very narrow and eyeball navigation was a must and at no cost must you enter at night. (Pete: The hurricane of 1999 had collapsed part of the breakwater into the entrance).

All crew were put on red alert and I was told to stand at the front of the boat and give directions of which way to turn, big responsibility, urgghh!.

The water was quite murky and, with the sun in the front of us, it made it hard to see what was in the water. I advised Pete to stay to the port side of the entrance and once past turn hard to starboard making a dogleg manoeuvre.

It was a very narrow entrance and once inside you wouldn’t have a lot of time to mess around.

Very sad place as the marina had been decimated by hurricane Lenny.

Hurricane Lenny was a category 4 hurricane with an erratic track and very late in the season, it started as a depression off the coast of Jamaica and turned into a hurricane in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. Guadaloupe was hit by sustained winds of 130 knots and that was excluding the gusts. In the gusts they would have experienced winds well in excess of 150 knots. The great storm of 1987 would have had winds of half of the strength of Hurricane Lenny.

Once inside there appeared to be no space as the pontoons were all condemned with signs saying “Mooring Prohibited” and “Moor at your own risk”.

We spotted a Dutch Boat and asked if we could moor alongside. At first we had no response from inside the boat but eventually a lady came out and said we could. I don’t think she was being rude but here husband wasn’t there and she didn’t speak much English.

The whole marina had been wrecked with pontoons laying broken in the water and a yacht lying on the side with holes in the hull. Amazing that they had been left to rot as Lenny hit Guadaloupe, November 1999.

No one had bothered to clear up the mess and it had just be left, a real pity.

We left Nadezhda to wander into town and the marina manager came up and said we couldn’t leave the boat there as it was dangerous to have three boats tied up together against the stricken pontoon (the Dutch had tied up against another boat) he was concerned that if the winds picked up the pontoon couldn’t hold us all. No problem though as he told us to tie up against a Catamaran.

The town was an absolute surprise as it was huge, loads of shops, restaurants and it was bustling with life. Typical big city.

Being a French Island the provisioning was excellent and we bought a spit roasted chicken, delicious!

The good thing about moving alongside the catamaran was that we had shore power and water, so we charged Nadezhda’s batteries and filled up one water tank (90 gallons).

The plan was to stay Basse-Terre for a couple of days to take a trip out to the interior but being French, and us not speaking that much French, it proved an impossible task, mind you Alan did very well but there was nowhere offering excursions.

So in the morning we decided that we would move to Pigeon Island which is a Cousteau Marine reserve.

The Jobson crew

Saturday 27th January 2007

Pete went off to find the marina manager to pay our dues in the morning and he was nowhere to be seen.

Alan wrote a letter in French explaining that we “Hadn’t done a runner” and we had tried to pay and gave the boats contact details. We don’t like leaving unless we pay for the services we use.

Pigeon Island was beautiful with stunning beaches & amazingly gorgeous clear water.

On shore there wasn’t not a lot apart from the usual tourist fodder, dive shops, gift shops and bars.

Pete & I decided to go for a snorkel on the reefs and Marie & Alan relaxed on the boat. I think she was glad to see the back of us so that she could have a wash in peace!

The snorkelling was brilliant! Tall yellow coral like chimney stacks, brain shaped coral and loads of different types. Huge brightly coloured fish swimming all around you. Bottom dwellers that even when Pete nudged them they didn’t move, awesome!
It really was a divers paradise.

We all decided that we would head straight for Antigua as it would nice for Marie & Alan to have some time in one place before they head off home, so early night for all as we would have to leave at 03:30 the next morning.

Sunday 28th January 2007

I didn’t sleep well at all so I got up earlier than the others to get the boat ready and made rolls for the journey to Antigua as I knew that once we were on our way Alan would be hungry. Alan doesn’t just have “Lucky Legs” they’re also hollow as well!!

Strange splashes could be heard in dark and I could only assume it was turtles.

Just before the alarm went off I woke the skipper up with a cup of coffee.

It was very strange leaving the anchorage as until you got your night vision you couldn’t see the island in front of Pigeon Island. Scary stuff!

Beautiful moon and starlit night!

Pete had decided the night before that we would motor past Guadaloupe as the winds would be fickle around the island.

After about an hour I decided to leave the “Boys” to it and I retired back to bed to try to get some sleep.

I heard the sails come out and I decided that I would get my book and go back to bed for a little longer, fat chance as before we knew it we were on ear and racing along at well over 7 knots and having to reef the mainsail.

Pete and Alan did a sterling job at managing Nadezhda (I kept out of the way) but it was going to be a tough journey as someone had forgotten to tell the weather that the weather forecast was for more easterly winds. So there we were closed hauled pounding into the waves, at this point Marie got up!

As we sailed passed Montserrat I noticed that there was this billowing mushroom shape cloud above the volcano, Pete, Marie & I watched as the volcano poured out an avalanche of pyroclastic ejectile, It was a shame that we hadn’t sailed past it at night as it probably would have glowed red in the dark.

Montserrat has a very sad history as it was once known as the Emerald Isle due to its beautiful lush green hills. This was soon to change as Montserrat was hit by a succession of fearsome hurricanes. Then to deliver the coup de grace Galway’s Soufriere erupted in 1997 burying the entire south of the island. The volcano threw tons of ash up to 10,000 metres into the air. A few lives were lost due to too much information being given and people not being willing to leave their homes.

The airport in Antigua was closed and people were told to remain in their homes and they weren’t allowed out for a few days. Antigua is approximately 30 miles from Montserrat so you can imagine the force of the explosion.

Luckily the wind veered and we ended up on a broad breach bounding into English Harbour.

Sunday 28th January 2007

On entering English Harbour we decided to motor around to see if any other boats we knew were in.

Amazing place as there isn’t just one anchorage and you can motor right inside to the mangroves.

Everywhere was busy but we decided to drop the anchor in the mangroves. After dropping it we decided that we were too close to other boats and if the wind picked up there would be problems so went off in search off another spot. Good decision as the boat to the side of us had a barking dog & I couldn’t put up with it barking all day & night.

Eventually we found a spot near the harbour entrance over looking Galleon Beach.

As we were in earlier than planned we ventured into English Harbour to clear customs and immigration.

We were very surprised as we expected the area to be quite big and bustling with lots of restaurants and bars, in fact it’s quite small but a very pretty and well restored national park.

Pete and Alan went off the do the paperwork and Marie & I wandered around the gift shops and boutiques.

The formalities took some time and as we waited for them, a local Antiguan lady started to chat to us. She very proudly declared that she was 86 and was due to retire soon and her grand daughter was going to take over from her. Mrs Beatrice Baltimore was a very good businesswoman as she would sit outside customs and chat up the yachties so that they felt obliged to give her their washing. She was a lovely old lady who sat there with a mobile and handheld VHF seeking opportunities. She was training her granddaughter the art of working the tourists.

Monday 29th January 2007

Another warm day in paradise! We wandered into Falmouth Marina, which is only a 10 minute walk from English Harbour.

This is the place to boat watch! There were super yachts everywhere! One motorboat was so huge that it had a helicopter, 40 foot yacht with its own crane (on the deck), speed boats, jet skis and many more gizmos! Marie asked a guy cleaning it who it belonged to and he very politely said he couldn’t say…. It turned out to belong to a Russian guy who had made his money in oil and he also owned Chelsea Football club.

The River Hamble has a reputation of being a place of extreme wealth but it pales into comparison compared to Falmouth Marina. The floating there is obscene! We got carried away with the glitz of it and ordered towels with the boats name on them!

Returning in the dinghy we noticed our friends Chris & Barbara from Dream Or Two milling around the anchorage, it was good to see them again.

As it was getting later we decided to go for sundowners at Catherine’s Bar. It is the best spot to watch the pelicans diving into the water to get the fish! These birds are amazing as they are big with a huge wingspan. The circle the fish and then just free fall into the water, how they don’t break their necks I don’t know. Superb to watch.
Sometimes they change their minds and you can see them pushing their skinny little legs backwards to stop themselves, very funny!

Barbara, Chris, Sally, Cameron, Michael (all from Dream or Two) and Patricia from If Knot Y Knot joined us for a drink….

I can’t say too much but I can say that Marie & Alan’s rum must have been very strong. Marie took a liking to Michael and sat there stoking his head and Alan talked ten to the dozen… it was quite an eventful evening!

Joining-in with the Spirit of the place

Tuesday 30th January 2007

Today was a visit to the capital of Antigua, St Johns.

We took a local bus and Marie was horrified at how fast & close the driver was too other vehicles.

The bus was packed and a lady with her little boy dressed in his school uniform got onboard and sat next to Pete, Kevan (he had his name on his school bag) who was only about 5 was a gorgeous chubby faced little boy, he looked up from under his school hat with these lovely chocolate brown eyes and said to Pete “Good Morning”… It was so sweet!

As we approached St Johns you could see a huge cruise liner towering above the town.

Brilliant shopping and Pete managed to get his wonky tooth fixed (his cap was loose).

It’s interesting but the local men (all islands) really warm to Pete and I don’t mean it in a funny way. They seem to gravitate towards him and end up treating him like their best friend. The men are “mens men” and when we are approached they mainly talk to Pete. Its almost like the lady should be seen and not heard much.

Wednesday 31 January

Today we visited Shirley Heights, which was named after Governor Shirley.

We took a taxi to the old fort and as we were staying at the Nelson Dockyard we didn’t have to pay the entrance fee into the National Park. The view from Shirley Heights was breath taking as you could see for miles. You could see English Harbour, Falmouth Harbour and all the reefs surrounding Antigua.

Shirley Heights with the anchorage in the background

It really was stunning! It must have been a brilliant look out as on a good day you could see Monseratt and Guadaloupe. No boats would be able to sneak in without being spotted from Shirley Heights.

English and Falmouth Harbours from Shirley Heights

We walked back down through the National Park (30ish minutes) through the heat of the day and a local Rasta said hello he was impressed that we had walked, as most other tourists took a taxi.

Antigua is lovely! The locals are very friendly & the Caribbean really does understand how to treat its visitors. We saw a sign somewhere that said “Tourism is everybody’s business”.

Thursday 1st February 2007

Today we decided to have a lazy day as it was Marie and Alan’s penultimate day so we wandered over to Fort Berkley and generally just lazed around. Pete had to go to see immigration to take Marie & Alan of the crew list. Loads of paperwork and time spent and all they did was draw a line through their names! Madness!

We had dinner out in the evening at “Trappas”

Friday 2nd February 2007

Sad day today as Marie & Alan are jumping ship and flying home.

During the evening the wind had picked up and all boats in the anchorage were messing about in the morning a French boat came very close to Nadezhda. Pete jumped up to fend the French boat off.

A real dilemma as we wanted to take Marie & Alan to the airport but we were nervous of leaving the boat due to gusty winds and the boats all coming to close to each other. Marie took the decision and said that we should stay with the boat.

We have had a wonderful time with them and the boat will seem very quiet.

Our plan is boat jobs until Holly arrives on the 14th Feb.

Mustique to Dominica

Monday 8th Jan 2007

Today we had to clear out of Mustique which involved a trip to customs and immigration which was situated at the airport and, rather than take a taxi, we decided to walk and explore the island.

What a beautifully manicured island! Everywhere was very clean & tidy and the walk to the airport was lovely. The primary school had bright white picket fencing and a brightly coloured schoolhouse, the playground was neatly cut grass lawn fringed with palm trees gently swaying in the breeze.

The Primary School

Immigration was very easy and we continued our walk around the island.

We decided to stop for a drink at a beach bar but it wasn’t as we imaged (I.e a little shack on the beach) it was a lovely restaurant owned by The Cotton House which is an exclusive hotel frequented by people who have more money than sense. We both had a couple of cocktails and the bill wasn’t too bad. The bar had a waiter for each guest and a lady who stood guard with a water pistol to frighten the birds off.

The Beach Cafe

Mustique is gorgeous without a doubt, maybe a little too manicured but the Island was loved by the people that lived there.

We went snorkelling off the reef in the South of the bay where we anchored the dinghy and watched all the brightly coloured fish. Not quite as good as the Tobago Cays but still very impressive. We saw a Conger Eel that slithered in and out of the holes and tunnels in the reef. We both agree that, on our own, we keep a cautious lookout in the distance for anything large and unknown coming our way!

No such thing as a free lunch? We returned from snorkelling on a reef in the South of the bay and the skipper from a charter boat raced over in his RIB and asked if we had eaten and did we want some lunch. We agreed and he raced back to his catamaran and returned with a massive platter of cold meats and salad, a fresh baguette - plus a nicely chilled bottle of white French wine - and left us to it! We transferred the goodies and cleaned his serving plate ready to return.

He came over after an hour and said that his "Guests" did not eat much and he didn't like to waste food. He came aboard and duly praised Nadezhda (now a mandatory stipulation) and explained that he chartered his own yacht out of Tobago but was currently doing a few trips on Catamarans for a friend. He went on and on about French-dodging out at sea and in anchorages and told of the many times he has been hit - must be his pet hate. Anyway, he told us to be careful in the islands further North between St Lucia and Antigua!

It’s been a wonderful couple of days and I’m sorry to leave but we have to make our way to St Lucia.

Tuesday 9th Jan 2007

At midnight we left Mustique for St Lucia and as usual it was closed hauled all the way with bumpy confused seas.

The visibility wasn’t good and we didn’t see the island until we were only a few miles off. In the distance we could see dark clouds all around the island and heading our way. Squalls after squalls hit us so decided to give in & put the engine on.

We arrived at Fort Vieux, St Lucia at 11am after a gruelling pain in the neck sail.
Fort Vieux isn’t pretty and is quite run down. After a few hours we decided that we should clear customs and immigration and we ventured into town.

Fort View is run down & depilated and the area looks very poor . Rather than waste time trying to find immigration we went into a Going Places office and she told us to head for the airport, we picked up a local bus and a five minute journey later we arrived.

Not sure what to do we asked the information desk and she said that once all the aeroplane people had cleared through w could walk through the door into immigration, when Pete asked how would we know when all the passengers had come through she said “Trust me you’ll know”.

Two and half hours later we were able to go through, we’d obviously picked the wrong time as two planes had just arrived.

The reception we received wasn’t the best as we should have cleared customs at the fishing port and they reluctantly agreed to do it. They made sure that we were aware that they were unhappy with us.

On the way back to the boat a young boy walked up to us just as he approached he dropped a kitchen knife, we believe it was for our benefit as he then said he had looked after our dinghy and asked for money. He was promptly told to bugger off as we hadn’t agreed a price plus he hadn’t been there when we arrived.

Wednesday 10th January 2007

This morning at around 7am we had the most violent squall ever, the winds must have been a good force 9 with stair rods of rain we were grateful that we were anchored as it would have been a scary moment.

Marie & Allan arrive on Friday so it’s boat maintenance and boat tidy up to make sure that Nadezhda looks her best for the royal visit.

Friday 12th January 2007

We went to the airport again to collect Mum and Dad. Easily accomplished, we all settled down and then motored just across the bay to anchor in an area that was a little more scenic than the concrete blocks of the new fishing harbour. A few arrival sundowners later, we went to bed.

Saturday 13th January 2007

So with the new crew onboard we lifted anchor and headed off for Soufriere Bay with the wind behind us we had a lovely gentle sail as we rounded the headland the wind died and on came the engine.

Mum & Dad settling-in

As we drew into the bay a small fishing boat appeared alongside welcoming us into the bay. On motoring around we decided to pick up a buoy with the help of the boat boy “Lucius”.

He was a totally chill Rastafarian and you couldn’t help but like him!

The standard greeting when meeting a Rasta is that you touch knuckles, touch your heart and say “Lets do it like Bob Marley, one love, one life” Marie we believe in her past life was a Rasta as she is excellent at the Rasta greetings! The locals love her to bits and crack up when she greets them in this way.

The nice thing about the Caribbean is that they totally respect the elderly and really look after them.

Opposite the boat was Bat Cave and if you rowed past you could hear the flapping sound of their wings.

During the afternoon the heavens opened and we had a terrific tropical down pour, this was a concern as we had run out of lemonade for the rum! Prayer mats out we prayed for a break so that we could go ashore to buy provisions.

It worked! So Pete and I ventured off in the dinghy to the town, the water was filthy with plastic bags, plastic bottles and loads of other discarded rubbish that it was a real pity as the bay was very pretty with the Deux Pitons dominating the background.

The town itself was quite rundown and you had the usual nutters shouting in the street and the drunks making a fuss in the shops.

First impression wasn’t that good but we had to see more in order to make our minds up.

Spaghetti Bolognaise for tea, with our new crew on board I had to make a good impression on them so I went to great efforts. I opened a tin of sauce, cooked some mince beef then added it to the carefully mixed sauce, I opened a bag of pasta and boiled it in water for the recommended 10 minutes and served it with great pizzazz.

The problem with the Caribbean is that really isn’t a lot of choice so to have minced beef and pasta sauce was a real treat. Meat in the Caribbean is usually hacked into pieces and left uncovered in a deep freezer. If your doctor recommends that you should live solely on a diet of corn beef and fruit then this is the place that you should come. Personally I’m getting a little bored with it!

Les Deux Pitons - Soufriere

Lucius came back to the boat later on in the afternoon and we agreed to take the tour to Sulphur Springs, Drive in Volcano, Botanical Gardens & the hot water spring not too expensive at 20 US Dollars per person.

Sunday 14th January 2007

Lucius came back this morning and asked whether we would mind having a woman from another boat come on the tour with us. She was a solo sailor who had crossed the Atlantic at the same time as us (from the Cape Verdes) and had met many of the same cruisers as we have.

We were dropped ashore where our taxi (minibus) was waiting. Up steeply out of the bay we headed through the verdant countryside to the “Drive-in Volcano”. This is an area of bubbling mud pools and sulphur that is now well overdue for an eruption. We asked the guide whether she was worried about this and she replied that she was a lot more worried about theft and the security of her home. Hmmm!

Our next stop was underneath the towering Petit Piton rock where there is a hot waterfall. A large, shallow concrete tub has been built where we all wallowed for a good half an hour. The theory is that the water is so vitalising that it will take 10 years off your age – or did he say it would take 10 years off your life??

A Hot Shower

We then went to the Botanical Gardens where our guide told us all about the different plants and afterwards he bought papaya from a roadside shack that was juicy and delicious.

Back at the boat, we invited Patricia on board for a cup of tea. Her boat is called “If Knot Y Knot”. Hmmm! Several hours later our eyes were glazed over as she recounted one tale after another, many of which we couldn’t understand anyway. It is obvious that she is very clever and adept but she needed to vent at least a weeks-worth of conversation in one go! After she left, we tried to piece together the various tales with little success.

Soufriere Bay

Monday 15th January 2007

We set off early bound for Rodney Bay with a plan to stop off at a small inlet called Marigot bay. The wind became fresh and then quite strong as we beat hard with two reefs and a small amount of headsail out. It was a little stronger than Mum or Dad usually like to go out in and so, after a little play, we closed the shoreline for quieter seas and motored into Marigot bay. This is a place where many films have been set (including the original Dr Doolittle) but has been built-up with twee wooden quayside buildings and holiday apartments. However, the place was still quite beautiful and we stopped for a bite of lunch before motoring hard into headwinds and steep chop and made slow progress to Rodney Bay where we dropped the hook for the night.

Tuesday 16th January 2007

We upped anchor and took a berth in the marina. The day was spent reprovisioning with gas, petrol, chandlery and other provisions to keep us going. We were very surprised to still see some ARC boats hanging around the marina since, although very pleasant, there is not a lot there apart from ships provisions and a beach.

In the evening, we splashed-out and had a meal at one of the marina restaurants – there was not a good choice but the food was ok.

Wednesday 17th January 2007

We had a full day in Rodney Bay. Again, this was a little lazy and we had clean laundry delivered and collected our full gas bottles. The laundry people delivered by small boat and returned some money that had been left in one of the pockets – very honest. The lady said that she showed the money to her daughter and told her that it did not belong to them and it must be returned – a big tip was given for their honesty.

Boat Boy Selling Fruit

In the afternoon, we took a taxi to Pigeon Island national park. No longer an island after they dredged the marina and created a causeway, it was originally occupied by a French pirate who scourged the area. Following the French, it was fortified to keep the froggies out from neighbouring Martinique. Quite high and steep, we puffed our way up to the peak where the fort offered panoramic views across the bay and also out to Martinique in the distance.

Mum managed to buy some more trinkets from street stalls before we returned to the boat for the usual round of sundowners.

Thursday 18th January 2007

We set sail early and were glad that there was not much wind in the marina since it is made simply of rough concrete piers (a maximum of 18 inches of tide rise and fall). Again, the wind was fairly hard on the nose and we leaned uncomfortably to the wind until we reached the Southern coast of Martinique when the wind veered and strengthened. After a great broad-reach up the coast of Martinique, the wind died and we motored the final few miles to St Pierre – a small town at the North end of the island. We were beginning to get a little worried about schedule for Mum and Dad and therefore decided that we would simply stop overnight and move-on the next day to Dominica.

Friday 19th January 2007

We set off early again for ANOTHER close-hauled sail in good winds. The passages between the islands is further that I originally imagined and we spent most of the day sailing. A very pleasant sail and, again, we had to start the motor for the final run into the capital of Dominica (Roseau) as we passed into the lee of the island. Our concern was that shoreline sloped steeply to over 20 metres depth and we would have to anchor and reverse to the shore where we would put a line to a coconut tree. These fears were dispelled when “Roots” powered-up in a wooden boat and offered us a buoy to moor to (in 28 metres depth). He called-up his team mate (Octavious) who took Fliss and I to the immigration in his mini-van taxi through the bustling clapboard houses of the capital. Having finished Customs and Immigration, we realised that, although I had picked-up Fliss’ purse, there was no money in it and Octavious generously lent us the money to pay the officials.
Saturday 20th January 2007

The previous day we had agreed to take a tour of the island that involved a walk up a waterfall (Victoria Falls). Roots told us that we would have to cross a river 5 times and that we would have to clamber over boulders at the end to reach the waterfall. We were a little concerned that it might be difficult for Marie & Allan but they felt that it would be ok and if it did get tricky they would sit on the river bed waiting for us to come back down.

At 9am Roots picked us up and we met up with two other couples that were joining us for the trip.

Octavious was worried about crossing the river as it had been raining all night and had rained in the morning, Pete said to him not to worry as we had crossed swollen rivers, wading chest deep through the rapids, Octavious just said “You wait and see”.

The drive up to the waterfall was utterly amazing, very steep roads weaving there way through the jungle and when nervous titters was heard in the mini bus Octavious just said “This isn’t steep, steep is just around the corner” IT WAS STEEP!

The jungle was awash with tropical & citrus fruits: grapefruits, oranges, breadfruits & banana’s etc…. there’s no reason to starve in Dominica.

Dominica is stunning without a doubt, lush jungle & weather beaten shore with massive Atlantic breakers, anyone who enjoys walking & exploring then this is the island for you.

The people here are charming and everyone says hello and takes the time to talk to you, infact they really do want to know what you think about their island, little girls stop you and ask you “How do you like Dominica?”… They are wonderful laid back people.

Anyway back to the trip…… the day before we were asked if we would like to have lunch at a Rastafarians house so we all agreed that it would be an experience.

We pulled up outside this shack (loo a hut by the side of the house, just so that you get the picture!). The shack was set in stunning jungle surroundings, beautiful tropical flowers everywhere.

Marie greeted our host “Moses” in the Rastafarian way, right knuckle to his right knuckle and then tapped her heart and said “Lets do it like Bob Marley, one love, one life”, Moses cracked up and responded with “My bones, my heart”….you can’t take her anywhere!

Let me describe Moses: He was around late 50’s, gaps in his teeth and dreads that hung down, some only hanging on by a thread, if you were in the UK you would probably cross the road to avoid him so this gave us a reality check not to judge a book by the cover as he made us really welcome.

He would prepare lunch for us when we returned from our walk which would consist of vegetables picked from his garden, which he gave us a guided tour of.

So we said goodbye to Moses and headed into the jungle for our walk up the river.

Octavious asked if anyone had a change of clothes and laughed when we said we hadn’t, we thought he was pulling our leg, little did we know!

On the way down he tried to recruit a local boy to help him and the lad said no way was he going up there!

Octavious was right! the river was swollen due to the previous nights rain and the water was thundering hard between the rocks, the rapids were rapid!

He took three people across first holding on tight as one slip would have you taking a swim down stream. The water was rushing so hard that you could feel it pushing your legs backwards.

We were told the previous day that we would cross the river 5 times but what he failed to tell us that was that we would cross it 5 times on the way up and 5 times on the way down!

Marie and Allan were fantastic! Marie was the trailblazer throughout the walk to the top of the waterfall. At times we were waist deep wading through the rapids, looking for rocks to stand ,on this is difficult when the water is trying to push you down stream.

The other couples were in awe of them and said that they may have chickened out but couldn’t now as the “Oldies we doing it!”.

Towards the top we had to clamber over slippery boulders and even through a gap in the rocks.

The reward was THE MOST spectacular waterfall! With a lovely plunge pool. We all stripped off to our swimming costumes (we needn’t have bothered as we were all soaking wet) and went for a swim. The waterfall created gale force winds so strong that you couldn’t swim towards it as the water and wind stung your eyes.

(Pete: Octavious (aka Octopus, aka SeaCat) told me to dive down under the water and swim to the base of the waterfall but the wind and blast of the spray was taking my breath away too much and I was hooting for air and unable to get far. He then told me to follow him to the far side of the plunge-pool that included a swim through the melee. I arrived out of my depth at a smooth, smooth boulder at the far side with wind and water washing me away. Eventually SeaCat managed to grab my wrist and we both scrambled ashore in the stinging spray. By this time I had had enough! But we ventured closer to the base of the falls and found shelter in a small cave. SeaCat then proceeded to climb up high and took a dive into the base of the falls – I resisted. Later that day, he kept punching me playfully, laughing, making drowning movements and saying “Smooth Boulder”. The panic-stricken look on my face as he dragged me out of the water must have been a real sight).

What ever goes up must come down! off we set back down the river for our lunch date with Moses. The trip down was easier and we were able to take in the stunning jungle around us.

Moses cooked us a delicious stew all fresh from his garden and sat and had lunch with us telling us about the Rastafarian way and the healing properties of the ingredients used. He was a very intelligent man & had lectured on other Caribbean about homeopathic cures.

He had managed to cook for ten people on a open fire, the food was delicious! I couldn’t help but laugh when he rolled a joined and lit it on the open fire and proceeded to smoke it. His family had moved to Brixton in London and he was looking after the land for them until they decided to return back to Dominica.

Dominica is wonderful but you can’t help but feel sad for the people as they have land which has been abandoned as they cannot export their fruit as they are out priced by the western world.

There is fruit trees everywhere just left untended, we pulled up to a house and Octavious climbed up a grapefruit tree and picked loads! We filled a plastic bag!

Octavious was a superb guide and immensely proud of his country and in my opinion rightly so.

What a fantastic day! And hats off to Marie and Allan as they showed us how it was done.

Dominica for me has been the best island so far and the people really do enhance its natural unspoilt beauty.

Grenada to Mustique

20th December 2006

We left Barbados at about 10:00 local time with fuzzy heads after the night before with 137 miles to go to Prickly Bay in Grenada. Again, the wind was with us and we poled-out the jib and set the main for an uneventful passage.

21st December 2006

As we neared Grenada, the whole horizon was illuminated by small looms of light and as the sun came up, we saw the Grenadine islands strung across the horizon like little emeralds on the green sea. The water here has turned from a deep blue to a green colour. We raced down the coast of Grenada just a couple of miles off with a good current pushing us and we were soon just off Prickly Bay on the South East tip. We gybed onto a broad reach and suddenly felt the force of the wind as we careered at 8 knots towards the shallows at the entrance.

From the sea, Prickly Bay seemed absolutely full of boats but as we weaved our way into the centre, we found a small spot to anchor near the tiny marina and close to the action.

23rd December 2006

We have hade a very nice 2 days here. Both days have been spent going to St Georges to buy provisions. St Georges is the capital and a short, but high-speed mini-bus ride from “Da Big Fish” restaurant where the dinghy can be left. The town hugs around the Careenage and piles up onto the promontory behind in buildings of many colours. Being Christmas, the town is buzzing with life and the colourful central “Rasta” market is in full swing.

Rasta Market - St Georges

Careenage - Georgetown

We have been invited to a "Pot Luck" - obviously an American thang where you each take a dish of something to a communal meal. We have been told to take a Tropical Fruit Salad and so we went to the market to pick-up the bits. We haven't got a clue how to make it but we have Bananas, Ugly-Fruit, Papaya, grapes, Apples and Oranges and "Golden-Apples". We haven't even tasted some of these yet and so it really will be pot-luck!

The Americans are friendly. One quick introduction at the bar and they instantly memorise your name. This must be an Americanism since, following introductions, every time they subsequently pass Nadezhda they shout "Hi Felicity, Hi Peeder!" very quickly to prove they still remember your name. We respond with "Awright??" since we do not remember anyone’s name.

So we are in a social whirl! Two nights on the trot we have been invited onto other Brits boats. The invite usually starts at 17:00 but we decline so that we can take happy hour at the bar at this time (others do the same and so it is a good time to mix). Then, onto brit-boat for a beer or two and back to bed. We have had no time for an evening meal so far and simply grab a sarnie when we get back from socialising.

We have very little for Christmas dinner. We are going to the pot-luck at lunch time but other than that, the fridge has nothing but fruit in it - no Sprouts!

Unfortunately, Nadezhda will not be getting her full Christmas present on-time. I used hull-cleaner to get the stains off the Port-side yesterday and then ran-out of the stuff. "No problem" I said, since the chandlery sells hull-cleaner. Unfortunately they had closed 10 minutes before we arrived and will not be open again before Christmas. So, Naz has one sparkly side and one dull and stained side.

We have been busy sanding-down the bottom of doors in preparation for the arrival of Mum & Dad. I even took the unprecedented step of taking a door off and getting a plane to the bottom. We now have two-out-of-three doors that close so you can have privacy in the toilet and bedroom!

25th December 2006

The morning was spent calling home on the internet connection that we have paid for. A good two hours was then spent chopping fruit for the fruit cocktail and slicing veg for the coleslaw before setting off for the “Pot Luck”.

The “Pot Luck” was much better than imagined. The food was very good and we both went around for second-helpings. All of the coleslaw we made was devoured and most of the fruit cocktail was eaten by the end. We hope the fruit cocktail was ok since neither of us actually tried it. I was so full of fruit by the time it was completed, I couldn’t face trying any myself.

Everyone kept to themselves afterwards and so we had a quiet evening.

26th December 2006

The large boat that was moored at the fuel berth left this morning. This afternoon, we were told that the marina staff were there and would serve fuel and so we are now fully tanked-up and a couple of tons heavier. This being done, we are now set to move-on since, although Prickly Bay is very nice, we need to see more of the Grenadines now that both Nadezhda and ourselves are fully re-charged.

27th December 2007

We set off fairly late from Prickly Bay headed towards Carriacou around the leeward side of Grenada. Having departed fairly late (about 10:00), we thought we would get just as far as the last anchorage in Grenada (Halifax Harbour). However, with good winds, we were there in a couple of hours and decided to press-on for a small deserted island between Grenada and Carriacou called Ronde Island. We approached between the mainland and some tall rocks called the “Sisters” as the current tried to sling us away and the depth sounder readings kept going down but were soon in an empty bay of pure blue water.

It was stunning and we saw turtles so close that we could see their flippers paddling ten to the dozen... really cute!!! We had a swim and then sat watching the sea birds and pelicans diving into the shallows by the shore.

The "Sisters" rocks - Ronde Island

28th December 2006

We left early for the 12 mile passage to Tyrell Bay (Carriacou). The wind was bang on the nose and the seas between the islands are very disturbed due to the 2-knot west-bound current and so we ended-up about 5 miles west of our destination when squalls hit us and increased the windspeed to well above comfortable. We eventually gave-up and motor-sailed into Tyrell bay and into the teeth of a gale. The anchorage was all white water and so we dropped the hook as soon as depth permitted and waited for it to abate before moving closer to shore. I think we get a little extra wind in the anchorage due to the funnelling effect.

Tyrell Bay
Met up with a chap called John this morning who came up from Grenada yesterday and it took him 11.5 hours. He did the same as us and eventually motor-sailed in just after dark. He didn't like the crossing after he started reading over 30 knots true windspeed!

The evening was much calmer now and we had dinner out last night at the Lazy Turtle!! We both had pizza's which were huge, Pete's was better than mine... it was a one off as two pizza's, 4 small beers and 2 glasses of wine came to £40.....

We'll stay till after new year then head off to Union Island, Petite Martinique, Mayreau, Tobago Keys, Mustique, Bequia and then on to St Lucia to meet Pete's mum& dad.

29th December 2006

The fuel tap broke off the outboard motor yesterday and so I rowed the considerable distance from Naz to the boatyard to visit the chandlery. I found it in a dilapidated portakabin but they had no connectors of any kind nor did I get any more hull cleaner. On return to the boat, I found an American couple (Richard & Beth) circling Nadezda. They were admiring her clean side and her classic lines!

Richard said he had a host of spare hose connectors and soon returned with something to get the outboard going again.

Later, we went over to their yacht (Slow Dancing) and had sun-downers with them and then went back to the boat at 8pm... about 9'ish I could hear a live band playing reggae music so we dinghied over to the beach front..... it was superb! the band was excellent! dancing in the streets and quite a few rum cocktails later we left at 11ish or maybe 12, who knows!

30th December 2006

We went to Hillsborough by local bus in true Grand-Prix style. Apparently, the bus drivers in Carriacou do not drive fast but I think we must have picked a Granada infiltrator. On the back of the bus it said “Trust in God”, we certainly did not trust the driver as the smell of burning brake lining poured in through the rear windows.


Ten minutes into the “ride from hell” a local lady with a baby got on the overfull minibus, I breathed a sigh of relief as surely now the driver would slow down, no chance! We took corners at break neck speed and missed other vehicles by inches. On every tight corner there was a cemetery and I’m not joking.

Hillsborough was ok but nothing to write home about and so we returned to Tyrell Bay a little later. As luck would have it, we got the same bus driver and prayed all the way back.

We took a walk along the Southern promontory of the island with spectacular views over the small islands to the South of Carriacou. Large Island, Frigate Island, Saline Island and White Island. Each of these were separated by a myriad colours of blue and the browns and greens of the reefs. I was really nice to stretch our legs again as we have not been doing much walking or exercise over the past weeks.

View South From Carriacou

31st December 2006

We left Tyrell Bay early to head just around the coast to Hillsborough to perform our exit immigration and customs. The immigration office was open but customs were closed. Fortunately, the immigration guy filled-in some extra paperwork for us and told us that we would probably be ok to leave.

With the wind whistling, we headed the few miles by motor to Petit St Vincent which was absolutely stunning, the water was this electric blue in patches and it looked like someone had turned a light on under Nadezhda. We found a good reef and went snorkelling the fish were really pretty and we saw a fish that was grey and speckled moving along the bottom of the sea-bed it had spikes on its back and had a frilly fins.... any ideas?

Petit St Vincent

2nd January 2007

The plan was to leave Petit St Vincent and go a couple of miles to the local reefs to do some snorkelling but the every wave had a white cap on it and snorkelling around the reef would have been suicidal and so we set the headsail and continued to Union Island. Clifton Bay was interesting getting into as the place is surrounded by reefs and it’s really busy with charter boats.

Now, looking to the front of the boat we can see a reef with waves breaking over it.... the water as you look to it goes from dark blue to electric blue & then you can see the reef itself. The beaches are white soft sand. The Caribbean is stunning and well worth the 15 days across the pond.

Union Island was given a bad reference by other cruisers but we thought is was lovely, surrounded by reefs with lovely clear water! Just as the sun went down we went to "Happy Island" for a sun downer... it was a amazing little reef in the middle of the sea which the guy had built up using conch shells to make a bar, as the Happy Island was round we had the most amazing 360 degree view. I can't see how it can be beaten but Pete says wait till the Pacific Islands!

3rd January 2007

We left Union Island at 11am and have arrived at Mayreau at 12pm my kind of sailing! We had a cheeky Frenchie over take us under engine but we soon put him in his place, out came a scrap of headsail and we raced past him.... another poor victim who has been slammed dunked by Nadehda... French boats appear to be her favourite!

Its really windy everyday, good 6-7s and bumpy seas so all we put up is a jot of headsail and blast to each island.

A cruise liner was anchored just outside the bay in Matreau and the beach was packed with holiday makers on sun-loungers. It felt a bit like a flashback to Maspalomas (Gran Canaria). We took a walk up into the small town and on to the top of the island where there were lovely vistas of the Tobago Cays whose reefs come right up to Mayreau.

Soon, the launches were ferrying the cruise passengers back and we put up the BIG Union Jack around the rear of the boat as a sunshade. This brought hoots of delight from the passengers who were all from the Midlands and the North of England

Sunday 7th Jan 2006

The Tobago Cays were amazing, the clearest water you can imagine and stunning deserted beaches, it really is holiday brochure stuff.

Snorkelling was interesting as there was a strong current running so you swam like mad and just stayed still, so we really didn’t stray too far from the boat on Thursday.

On Friday we decided to move closer to the reef, this required Pete had to take Nadezhda through serious shallows & reefs between the two islands, I was up front looking out for coral heads. We doglegged our way through and anchored off a little island that was surrounded by breaking surf & reefs, it really was a sight to behold.

Once we decided that Nadezhda was settled we took the dinghy to the reefs. We dropped the dinghy anchor in-between the reefs and swam of to look at the marine life. It was amazing, we saw Spotted Trunk Fish, Smooth Truckfish, Yellow Snappers, huge fluorescent fish and loads of other different brightly coloured tropical fish. My personal favourite are the trunkfish as they are little triangle things with small fins and pointy beaks if attacked they blew themselves up to be huge puffball. Swimming on the reefs was like being an extra in Finding Nemo! We loved swimming on the shallow reefs as you are so close that your stomach only just misses the coral. Fantastic experience to swim over deep coral and then skim the shallows. I did keep an eye out for reef sharks, not that I could have done much as I’m not a strong or fast swimmer .Pete was on a promise that he’d be ok and to give him his due he kept close by me.

It really is paradise and totally unspoilt, no souvenir shops and no sign of tourism, apart from all the yachts at anchor of course.

We were approached by a local boat who asked us if we wanted any fish so we bought a tuna, Pete did the usual and marinated it in soy sauce, ginger, garlic & olive oil and left it for two hours. I’ve got to be honest and say that it was lovely but I’m not a fish eater and I really can’t be doing with all the bones.

Who ever said that the French are good sailors? Must have been a French Man! They have the superb skill of hitting other boats whilst taking their anchors up. They love to anchor as close as they can to other boats and are startled when they collide. I reckon that all French charter boats should have a big rubber ring around the outside and they should fly a flag stating that they are French! That way other yachtsman know that they have a potential insurance claim coming up and can have their insurance details at the ready.

I was really sad to leave paradise behind but we were due to head off to my long awaited stop at Mustique the island of the seriously wealthy & famous. Apparently David Bowie & Mick Jagger have houses there.

So on Saturday we waved goodbye and dropped anchor to do the 20-mile trip to Mustique.

We edged our way out of the Cays and Pete said “Shall we shake the reefs out of the mainsail “… being cautious I said to keep them in for a while. As usual the wind wasn’t as forecast so we were close-hauled and too far west of our destination. Keeping the reefs in was a good move as we were hit a number of times by squalls that bring gale force gusts. After a few squalls Pete was just about to suggest that we reefed the gib there was a huge bang. The gib was flapping madly and something had broken. Frantic activity ensued as we rolled the headsail in. We were very lucky as the shackle pin had cone undone and no serious damage was caused, mind you it gave us a shock and seriously slowed our progress to Mustique. We motored the rest of the way!

When I was a little girl I always wanted to visit Mustique as Princess Margaret had a house there and it appeared so exclusive and exotic so it really was a dream come true for me. The saying springs to mind “Take only memories and leave only footprints behind” for Mustique the end should be re-written to “Leave only credit cards behind”….

We arrived at 1pm and picked up a bouy just off Basils Bar (only bar and restaurant on the island).

The island is very small at only 5 square miles and is the preferred choice of the rich & famous. The island is very lush and fringed by white sandy beaches, if looking for solitude then this is the place to be.

Being an exclusive island we donned our best salt free shorts and t-shirts (actually I wore a dress) to visit the harbour master.

We think it’s expensive to moor here at £20 per night so later we’ll move Naz and anchor slightly further out. The jovial harbour master told us that there was no banks or methods of getting cash out on the island and not to worry as everywhere takes credit cards!!!!

I did buy myself a souvenir mug that says Mustique, well, you’ve got to haven’t you?

Sun-downers at Basils Bar (which were expensive) and back to the boat for left over tuna….