Thursday, November 29, 2012

About turtles, Thanksgiving and other important matters

So here it is what I learned about turtles until now. It would be almost impossible to tell if Green turtle or Hawksbill turtle shows her head above the water for a brief moment. But there are other clues to help determine which is which - Greens are vegetarians and feed on turtle grass (appropriate name, isn't it?), Hawksbills feed primarily on sponges. So in sandy grassy bays (like Coco bay on Barbuda) one would mostly see Greens and over the reefs Hawksbills. 

I checked all the photos of turtles I have to see which kind they are and most of them were Hawksbills, which was to be expected, since I snorkel on reefs and take most of the photos there. Nevertheless, there is also one photo of Green turtle in the collection. And if you  look closely - Green turtle on first photo is sitting in turtle grass....

while Hawksbill turtle on this photo is swimming over the reef. 

Besides learning about turtles we had a laundry day in Deep bay, and on Wednesday evening we sailed to Falmouth Harbour to meet our friends Dana and Wayne. We sailed off quite late to allow the laundry to dry. We passed Five islands bay ....

... and we had a gorgeous view of Montserrat. And the peak of volcano was not sitting in clouds, so the smoke was clearly visible.

Little later there was a beautiful sunset.

We reached Falmouth already in the dark and it was not easy to enter the bay and anchor among other boats, in spite of the fact that we've been here so many times before. Darkness really makes a difference, especially distances are very hard to estimate.

On Thursday Dana and Wayne sailed into the bay and anchored next to us. We met in the dockyard in Rodney Bay in St Lucia and were afterwards neighbors on the anchor in Rodney Bay for quite a while. They surprised us with an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner that evening. They did a great job in the kitchen and we had a perfect dinner with turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and even pumpkin pie. Check their blog at .

On Saturday we sailed to Nonsuch Bay. We passed Eric Clapton's house and it seems to me he has a good taste in rocks. He surely picked one of the prettiest one.

We were fishing of course and caught two Ceros.

In Nonsuch bay we swam, snorkeled, and did several boat project. The biggest was waterproofing of our bimini. It was successful, there were several showers the day after and only few drops of water came through.

I am learning about corals too. I took a few photos while snorkeling around Bird island so it was easier for me to determine the kind with the help of my books. It is difficult to remember even the colorful fish in enough details to find it in the book, with the corals it's impossible.

Here is a nice Fire coral.

 Here are the Brain corals - Symmetrical Brain coral on the left and smaller Grooved Brain coral on the right.

Another Grooved Brain coral, nice and round.

 We were mostly eating fish - captain cleaned and filleted the fish ....

... and I cooked them with almonds and butter, with creamy polenta on the side and tomato salad.

Beside the fish we were eating a lot of bananas, this is the huge bunch that Ambroz, Peter, Janez (our visitors) and captain brought from hike up the Deshaies river more than two weeks ago. In the meantime bananas got ripe, most of them at the same time. We've eaten them for breakfast, during the day, we made banana mikshakes, we put them on peanut butter banana sandwiches...

 On Tuesday we sailed back to Falmouth. The sea was really rolly and bumpy and there weren't much wind, so sailing was not very pleasant. At the entrance to Falmouth we caught this Little Tunny (it is really called so). So it looks like another fish day ....

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Enjoying Antigua and Barbuda

It happens to me every time when I get to Antigua - I start feeling calm, happy, relaxed.... Can't tell why, maybe it's the blue-green water on the south western corner of the island, where turtles are so big and many, or Jolly Harbour with it's own colours and animals, or English Harbour with it's history, or unspoiled Nonsuch bay, or the plentitude of great anchorages on all sides of the island, the people...

In Jolly Harbour we like to anchor just outside the entrance to the lagoon near the first green pillar, there are always terns or pelicans sitting on it, regardless how close the boat is. And they were there also this time.

One day several pelicans came to sit on our boat, three on solar panels and two at the bow, but captain chased them away before we could take any photos. Anyone who ever cleaned their mess knows why...

We've stayed in Jolly Harbour for a couple of days, catching up with correspondence and doing boat projects. We replaced the cockpit speaker that died, and most important - we managed to "repair" our Lovro, ie Lowrance chart-plotter. It was going crazy since some time, reseting itself after the boot more and more times, until it only did that and nothing else. Luckily we do have several backup chart-plotters, but this is the only one our radar is attached to. We feared there is some hardware problem, or salt had came into some connectors or even processor, but captain couldn't find any info about this on Internet, despite writing to Lawrance, the store where we bought the device, several forums etc. We tried to upgrade the software, did some software resets, it did bring Lovro up, but only once, afterwards it again fell into reboot loop. As the last resort we tried factory reset, and it seemed to help. Since then Lovro is working without the problems.... although we lost all data of our Atlantic crossing etc. But it confirms my theory of crappy software - obviously the programmers can't deal with buffers and logs and memory space, there were problems with this before and they still didn't solve it.

On Wednesday we sailed to Falmouth Harbour. On the way we met this funny cat, sailing with two genoas and the main. If it brings anything, it's hard to tell....

Seconds before turning into Falmouth, just when captain wanted to put away the fishing gear, this beautiful fish bit the hook. It is a Cero, not a Spanish mackerel, I learned this from my new book of Caribbean fish I brought from Slovenija. They are very similar, but Cero has the golden line between the dots on his side, while Spanish mackerel doesn't.

The line is clearly there....

We spent a nice afternoon in Falmouth in front of this gorgeous beach, among the turtles. And for dinner we had the freshest fish, with butter, garlic and lime, and boiled potatoes on the side.

Although Falmouth was still quite empty, there were more boats than the week before. Life is slowly returning...

On Thursday we sailed on to Nonsuch bay. I love the rocky southern shore of Antigua. Anyone who saw all my photos of rock and cliffs from Greece, Lanzarote etc, knows I have a soft spot for rocks. Would that make me a "rock chick"?

These are the "Pillars of Hercules" at the entrance to English Harbour.

In Nonsuch bay we picked up the buoy nearest to the Bird island, so I would have the best view of the action. I love watching the pelicans, coming "home" after hard days work, and throw themselves on the bushes for the night - ok, they might not be very elegant at that, but neither are they, when they plunge into the water to fish, in a kamikaze-bonebreaking manner. And there is a big white heron (velika bela čaplja), always returning to the island for the night, we already saw it in spring. Terns (čigre) occupied the buoys and made a lot of noise, I couldn't tell if they were quarreling or trying to mate. And occasionally a osprey, or as we call it fish eagle (ribji orel) sails above the boat. It's a paradise.

And we ate fish for lunch, this time baked in little oil and assembled into the pitta bread with sour cream, Susie's hot sauce, tomatoes and Aunt Glady's mango chutney. Delicious. (Hot sauce and chutney are from Antigua).

On Friday we sailed to Barbuda, again through Spitthead channel. It was again quite unnerving, the waves were very big and started rolling us when still in the channel between corals in 7m of water. Luckily we know the channel quite well by now, and we got through safely. The sailing was rather bumpy, with lots of waves, but a good wind.

Captain was fighting with himself wether to fish or not, since we still had the Cero for at least three meals. After a while he still put a small bait and a hook into the water.

In the meantime i was "driving".

And after some time we got a beautiful Rainbow runner on a hook. So we'll eat fish yet one more day...

We reached Barbuda shortly after three in the afternoon. And it was still all there - the sand, the clouds, the perfect colours of the sea, and many turtles - even before we finished anchoring, four came to greet us. Heron was the only boat in Coco point anchorage, and hotel was still closed. So we had all this beauty to ourselves! To me Barbuda is still the most beautiful place on earth.

It was truly a holiday, with only some small boat projects, but mostly reading, bathing, cooking and eating. And of course watching the turtles. I studied my books and the photos I ever made of turtles to learn the differences between Green turtle and Hawksbill turtle, the turtles one most likely sees in Caribbean, I wanted to be able to tell them apart while watching them from the boat. The differences are really small - Hawksbill has pointier head and sharper beak, overlapping plates and four plates on the forehead, while Green has only two and non-overlapping plates, but they are similar in colour and size. With this newly gained knowledge I sat on the boat for quite some time and realized, there was no way to tell... unless a turtle would come really close to the boat and stayed on the surface for longer   than they usually did. They are not so very shy in Barbuda, but they keep a safe distance of 30 - 40m from the boat, and they don't like to be looked at - most of them dive straight down again if they think they are being watched. So until I learn more about them.....

On Monday we headed back to Antigua, wind was forecast to turn to south for the rest of the week and that would make sailing back later very difficult.

Sailing was nicer that on Friday, with good wind and less waves. Captain again put some hooks and baits in the water and after a while we caught this pretty tuna. So there's going to be some more "fish days" in the near future....

At about three in the afternoon we turned into Deep bay and anchored the boat.

We are staying here for a day or two, it is very pretty, and we're on Internet again (and I need to do some more turtle research!). After Deep bay we plan to sail to Falmouth and visit Sunsail base in English Harbour, the toilet sea-cock in bow head started leaking, maybe they can give us some advice how to repair it. Leaks on the boat, however small, are not a good thing, and left to themselves they just grow bigger and bigger.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

To Antigua and back

On Monday we sailed north to Deshaies. We caught two barracudas, and all the boys, big and small, were very happy.

The big one was luckily not over 1m in length, so there was no danger of ciguatera poisoning and we could keep it.

After second barracuda there was a ban on fishing - we had enough fish for two days, so captain invented new plan to keep the kids happy.

We reached Deshaies just in time to get some fresh baguettes, and to get cleared out, before the sun plunged into the sea. Heron was one of only three boats in the bay.

Next day we sailed to Antigua to Jolly Harbour, where we stayed at the buoy for the first night. The swell outside was the biggest we've ever seen, with waves breaking on the shallow at the entrance, and making the anchorage unsuitable for the night.

Next day we sailed to Carlisle bay, after some shopping of course. 

From Carlisle bay we sailed to Falmouth Harbour. We stayed there for a day and had a great meal in Trappas. 

Next day we sailed to Nonsuch bay. By then the boys were already accomplished sailors, helping out with anchoring, sailing dinghy etc.

This is how empty Falmouth Harbour looked on our departure.

We picked up a buoy next to the Green island and had really good time in Nonsuch bay.

From Nonsuch bay we sailed around Antigua to St John and to Deep bay. We had some bad luck, the swell has brought a lot of moon jellyfish into the bay and swimming was very unpleasant.

On Tuesday we headed back to Guadeloupe. We had a nice sailing, good wind and not much waves. And also no fish.

Next day the guys did the hike up the river (not me, of course). They brought back a huge bunch of bananas, that they "found" in the jungle. Bananas are still green, hopefully they will get ripe.

Instead I did some snorkeling. 

On Thursday it was time to bring our friends to the airport. We were all sad to say goodbye.

Next  two days we were lazying in Deshaies, cleaning, doing small things around the boat, watching turtles and snorkeling. On Sunday the wind was suitable for sailing to Antigua. Sailing was pretty wild, with plenty of dark clouds and showers around us, and some quite strong gusts of wind. So we had plenty of work with the sails. At the evening both of us were pretty tired.

So here we are again, in Jolly Harbour. Taking advantage of free Internet. We plan to sail to Barbuda in a couple of days, and stay there for a while.