Thursday, May 31, 2012


Martinique greeted us with a long shower that washed the salt off our boat - yes, one needs to look at things from the bright side :-)

We anchored in front of city of St Pierre on the north west coast of the island.

St Pierre was destroyed by the volcano, Mt Pele, in 1902. Before it was flourishing city with 30.000 inhabitants. In the volcano disaster 29.350 people died and 12 ships in the bay sunk. Almost nothing was left of the city, only some parts of the walls. They can be seen all over the town now, some has been used as parts of the walls for the new houses (below right), some has been used as walls to the gardens (below left).


 Next day we took a stroll around the town. One of the most prominent buildings before volcano outburst was the theater. There are still a lot of remains that indicate what a majestic building it once was.

The statue was made by one of the Rodin's pupils.

 Next to the theater there was a prison. 

 This is the cell where a man called Louis Cyparis, who is said to be the only man who survived volcano eruption, only with some burns. Considering the thickness of the cell's walls he probably had the best chances in town ...

Mt Pele was mostly hidden in the clouds, this was one of the rare moment when we could almost see it's peak.

On Monday we sailed on towards Le Marin, a bay and a town on the south coast of Martinique. We caught fish after 15 minutes, even before we managed to put up all sails. It was a Bigeye tuna again.

 Sailing was ok, only on south side we had to motor-sail since the wind was almost on the nose. The coast is rugged on some parts ...

... and one can not miss the signs of strong winds that sometimes blow here.

A bit off  the south-west corner of the island lies a Diamond rock, also known as HMS Diamond rock. Martinique was French all the time in the past and when England and France were fighting in 19th century,  Britts came to the brilliant idea to put some cannons up the Diamond rock, call it a ship and annoy the French and the passing ships sailing by by shooting at them. Napoleon was mad and commanded one of his Admirals to free the rock and to eliminate Admiral Nelson while he was "in the area". The French freed the rock shortly afterwards and cleverly avoid Admiral Nelson, since Britts had much stronger navy at that time. 

Looking at the rock, I have a hard time imagining how the Britts dragged the cannons to the top of it ...

 We arrived in Le Marin late in the afternoon. I'm not sure if we seen more boats on one place anywhere else in Caribbean till now...

We've been working hard in past days, partly preparing the boat for hurricane season and we managed to disassemble the water heater - only thinking of how we've managed to get the 38 cm water heater through the opening that was ončy 34 cm wide, gets me tired. Now we need to see if it can be repaired and then we need to squeeze it in through the same opening or buy a new one, possibly a smaller one (guess which option I prefer :-).

Sometimes a boat like this sails through the anchorage and it's fun to watch and I imagine also fun to sail, although everybody gets wet ......



Well, yes .... plans are made to be changed.  We sailed from Les Saintes on Tuesday last week and were sailing by Prinz Rupret Bay at about 9am when we heard our friend Harald on VHF calling us. We were 3-4 miles from the coast so he couldn't have seen us. We answered of course and he convinced us to make a stop and sail on towards Martinique on Tursday. So an hour later we were anchored next to Rufus. We were all happy too see each other and captain was not very sorry to interrupt the sailing from one rain shower to the next.

 Next day we made a short hiking trip to the north of the island. We took a bus and then stroll around for a while. Dominica is really very beautiful. Wild orchids grow right by the road.


 It is very steep...

... and has lovely forests  of tree ferns.


On Thursday we sailed on to Rousseau, the capital of Dominica.  The weather was cloudy and with some rain all the time - that's why the island is so green.

 This is Rufus with Marion and Harald.

 On Friday morning we sailed on towards Martinique - with lots of clouds and some rain again.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Antigua to Guadaloupe

 We left Antigua and Nonsuch bay early on Monday morning. Way too early for me...
We caught our "fish of the day" already after half an hour. It was a Bigeye tuna. The sea was rather choppy but captain cleaned and fileted it right away on swimming platform. And we had our dinners covered for next three days.

 Sailing was good, maybe a bit too little wind for our liking. We approached Guadeloupe from north and entered Riviere salee at about three in the afternoon. We were quite nervous all the way down to the first bridge, since the channel is suppose to be only 2m deep and even a bit shallower on some spots and our boat has 2,1m draft. We were lucky enough to arrive at high tide, but at some points our depth meter showed only 2m. Somehow we got through without touching the ground.

We anchored at the north bridge.

 There was not much space and we were almost touching the mangroves. Which brought us closer to mosquitoes .... not even bug repellant helped :-(

At 4.30 in the morning the bridge opened and we sailed through. On the way we almost ran over an unlit buoy. One would expect buoys to be lit if the only time one can sail through is at night.

We anchored in front of Poine a Pietre and went to bed again. In the afternoon we went to the marina to ask about the buoys in the lagoon for the hurricane season. Our conversation was over in few seconds - all buoys are taken, no space, bye. 

Next afternoon we sailed to Le Saintes - we did our shopping and there was nothing more to do in Pointe a Pietre. The weather was rainy as we left and on the way we found ourselves between to rain fronts. This is how serious rain looks in Caribbean. And in the middle of it we had 30 knots of wind.

 We both got wet several time, but captain was one who got wet the most. He is such a good sport!

 On Saintes we anchored at Paine de sucree again, next to our friends Marion and Harald. Weather slowly improved, but there were still longer periods of rain. I looked up the statistic and month of May is one of the wettest here. And this is how much difference it makes. 

Firs two pictures are from end of March this year.

And this is how things look now - lush and green and everything is in bloom. I gess even rain can be good .......

 We've been working on boat again, again an unplanned matter. It is keeping us here and we plan to sail directly to Martinique on Tuesday. We will stay there a couple of days and try to repair our water heater. Then we will sail directly to Grenada to check the options to leave the boat there somewhere in a marina over summer. At least this is our plan. And plans are made to be changed .......

Monday, May 14, 2012

Nonsuch bay and leaving Antigua

 On the way to Nonsuch bay we caught a beautiful Spanish mackerel again. Looks like this side of Antigua is full of them. It was perfect with butter, garlic and lime.

 First three days in Nonsuch bay were not nice - it was raining almost all the time and humidity was making our life hard. But there was one thing happy about the weather - the mold. It started creeping from all corners of the boat. Firs I nearly got nervous breakdown, then we started to fight. First with vinegar, after a while luckily sun and wind came to help. But it is the beginning of Caribbean summer and weather-wise we might even expect worse. So the war is not over yet, maybe just the first battle.

 Another thing we need to decide upon is where to stay and leave the boat during hurricane season. Many sailors travel south, as far as Trinidad, where there's supposed to be no hurricanes, but we decided to stay in Leewards (upper part of Carribbeans). We are considering to make lagoon in Pointe a Pitre on Guadeloupe or English Harbor on Antigua our "home". In the middle of the week we sailed to English Harbor to check the possibility of leaving our boat there. Marion and Harald came with us and we had a very nice day and got some really useful information also.

 Despite the warm weather it was nice and breezy in English Harbor.

 After sleeping over on what we learned about English Harbor in the hurricane season, we decided to sail to Pointe a Pitre again to check the situation there, before making a final decision. The weather was improving, but the wind stayed weak and from south-east, so we decided to stay another few days in Nonsuch bay. After all, it is so nice here and we had good company - Marion and Harald and plenty of animals.

I'm not sure who these were, they look like some small terns. They've been making a lot of noise while they were feeding and sitting on buoys. They didn't even mind if a boat was attached to the buoy.

 Today there was a giant turtle swimming near our boat. And it was not camera-shy! Didn't figure out yet to which of three kinds of turtles that live here it belongs.

Last three weeks there are many small seagulls around - they come quite close to see if there's anything to eat. They were often sitting on our dinghy and the captain was always worried they would make a mess. Luckily they didn't.

And tomorrow we are sailing to Guadeloupe. We are sailing down the Riviere salee to Pointe a Pitre, then after few days we might sail to Marie Galante. Afterwards we plan to sail to Dominica. And again - until Dominica my phone is not working :-(

Friday, May 4, 2012

Another great week in Antigua and Barbuda

 The Classic regatta week was hard on us - party every day, a lot of friends, so there was rarely a dull moment. Here is what our friend George from sailboat Wild Thing (Beneteau 47, yeah!) wrote about it - it is very funny, and he let me post it here.

For those of you who do not have a $10 million, 120' wooden yacht that you move to the Caribbean from Europe or Newport for the winter, you have most likely never heard of Classic  Race Week.  Google it for the complete rundown on ridiculously expensive restored yachts that are sailed only two or three times a year.

There must have been 30 of these exquisitely beautiful yachts tied up to the dock.  Miles and miles of perfectly varnished teak trim and stone scrubbed teak decks. Workers flown in from the States to polish the stainless Steel. Inflatable fenders with soft cloth coverings of a color that matches the ship's hull perfectly.  Someone is writing some big checks !

The owners and all of their friends fly in and go sail in "races"  which are more of a parade and photo op than a race.  On board film crews and a photographer in a helicopter abound.

This is way beyond the Blue Blazer Yacht Club crowd.  These folks may belong to the New Your YC, but the bring their own entourage of crew, chefs, musicians and a few anointed friends. Did I say musicians? Yes, it is hard to find a quartet of woodwinds in Antigua for your on deck dockside party. Ego's abound.

Strolling the docks we saw beautiful boat after beautiful boat, such as the "Rebecca"  (possibly named after Becky Henry??) and the Elena, both shown in pictures.  These are just two of the 30+ classic yachts at the docks.

In the midst of this fleet of glistening boats docked in this sea of snobbery and rich sophistication, we came across my favorite classic race week entry, "Old Bob".  It turns out that Old Bob is a race week regular.  Old Bob is a classic ferrocement hull(*1), painted mustard yellow with barn yard red trim.  No teak, and not a drop of varnish anywhere.  Old Bob is a floating satire of everything that is absurd about Classic Race week.

(*1) Ferris Cement Hull defined. Ferro comes from the Greek word Ferro who was the god of rust. In yachting terms, Ferro means any iron based metal that will dissolve into a pile of rust when it comes into contact with salt water.

Cement is a well known dense substance that does not float in water. Commonly used in the boating industry to make mooring anchors. Cement tends to crack as it ages. "Ages"  means anytime during or after the 3 day hardening process.

During WW II, the US Government built merchant ships out of ferrocement because the construction was cheap, and the ships were just slow moving targets for German U Boats. So why waste steel on ships that not going to be afloat for very long?

They dubbed these boats "Liberty Ships".  Evidently the government felt that being in the ocean after your ship has sunk is a very liberating experience.

The ships were not very strong.  Some of them even broke in half sitting at the dock. There is a half sunk Liberty Ship in the Bahamas south of Bimini.  They make wonderful artificial reefs.

Way back in the 1970's, some back yard boat builders made sailboats out of ferrocement because the construction was cheap and required materials that could be stolen from any local construction site.  No need to go to the local lumber yard, much less to an expensive marine store.  Just search the neighborhood for some rusty re-bar and a few bags of Portland cement.

Building the hull was laborious, but not too technically challenging, because there were no rules or codes to follow.  They were just building an above ground swimming pool that was more or less shaped like a boat. Once the hull was finished (somewhere around year 3 of the project), the builder was then faced with the daunting tasks of finishing out the inside and deck of the boat.  90% of the time, this is where the project ended.  The hull sitting in some guy's back yard collecting rain water and growing lily pads. A home for frogs.

But then there is Old Bob.  A true enigma.  One of only a hand full of ferrocement hulls that were ever finished AND floated.  And then sailed to Antigua specifically to spoof the Classic Regatta.  I LOVE THIS GUY !!!!.


Rich Guy's Yacht:/                                              Old Bob's Ferris Cement Yacht:

Perfectly Varnished Teak/                               No Varnish and no teak

Paid Delivery crew/                                             Bob

Paid Sailing Crew Flow in/                              Any one with a 6-pack can sail

Crew presented with matching clothes/   Buy an "I sailed on Old
Bob"T-shirt on board

Cloth covers on fenders matches hull/   T-shirts on "female" fenders

Receives a trophy in every race/                Tries not to come in last

Next year I want to sail with Old Bob.

 After the tiring week we sailed to Nonsuch Bay again, to recover.

 After two days we sailed to Barbuda - again through Spithead channel.

 We had some nice sailing, it only took us 4 and a  half hours. And Barbuda was as beautiful as always.

We had a great time there, we met some new friends and celebrated  Philipine's 5th birthday on the beach - she is French and lives on a boat with her parents. People from almost all boats in anchorage came and it was a great party.

 I tried to take some pictures of many turtles that were swimming around our boat - but they somehow don't want to be photographed. This is the best i got in half an hour :-(

 On Sunday we got back to Antigua for the Sailing week and to meet our friends, Marion and Harald, again. Sailing back was very salty, but fast - only 3 and a half hours from Coco Point to St Johns.

Sailing week was not so very interesting and beautiful as Classic regatta. It was still a great experience, we were on a concert of one of the Bob Marley sons, twice on Shirley Heights on party, once in Trappas, our favorite restaurant nd we spent some time with our American friends, Jan and George and Alice and Steve, our German friends Marion and Harald and our Slovene (!!!) friends, Vesna and Tone. What a week!

Here are some photos from Thursday's race, when we sailed out with Heron to see some action.



Here is the the link to Sailing World  reporting on first day of regatta.

So, now we need another escape to Nonsuch bay to recover a bit from all the action! We are leaving there today. There will be almost no wind for a week, so we'll stay there or maybe do some exploring of the reefs on the north for a while!