After two very early trips to the airport, we are now on our own again. The boat seems very empty with out Gladys, Cristian and Jenni!

Jenni, Gladys and Cristian.......our perfect boat guests!

Jenni, Gladys and Cristian…….our perfect boat guests!

Having five of us, living at close quarters for three weeks, could have been a recipe for disaster, but we had a great time.

Chillin'

Chillin’

More 'chillin' on the foredeck.

More ‘chillin’ on the foredeck.

Despite the language barrier, Gladys, Marcus and I managed to make ourselves understood and Jenni and Cristian were our resident translators. Marcus found himself a drinking buddy in Gladys and she was my ‘galley fairy’……I hardly did any washing up the whole time she was with us!
The weather, sadly was not the best and any dreams of sailing over to the Bahamas were abandoned. We also had continuing problems with charging the batteries and had to spend some time sourcing, buying and fitting a new alternator and regulator.

The 15th was Marcus’ birthday, which we celebrated by going to the Elbo Room bar ……..he had to get into the act with the bouncer, who ID’d and tagged Jenn and Cristian.

Marcus getting his ID and a hug from the bouncer.

Marcus getting his ID and a hug from the bouncer.

We then decided to go ‘Down town’ for more celebrating, including a pool session and then on for. something to eat.

Birthday Boy with his drinking buddy!

Birthday Boy with his drinking buddy!

Pool doubles match.......a little too much coaching going on?!

Pool doubles match…….a little too much coaching going on?!

A good time was had by all.

Aside from the ever present demands of the boat, the other major hiccup was that Jenni’s Australian visa was proving more difficult to obtain than she had thought and so we had to go to Miami for her to get a chest X-ray done……….a great excuse to go to Miami beach for the day and on to Little Havana, the Cuban sector.

Miami Beach

Miami Beach

Miami Beach

Miami Beach

Little Havana, Calle Ocho.

Little Havana, Calle Ocho.

Cuban music......

Cuban music……

.....Colombian, Cuban and British dancing!

…..Colombian, Cuban and British dancing!

As I mentioned before, the beach front here in Fort Lauderdale is a two mile stretch of ‘promenade’ where people come to stroll, eat, sunbathe, cycle, skateboard, exercise or eat and drink at the numerous bars and restaurants. Jenn, Gladys and I went for a couple of jogs……. I’m glad to report my knee, that I injured in Grenada, was fine, but it gave me a good excuse for going gently!!

Posing on the beach.

Posing on the beach.

With the new alternator installed and a bit of a weather window, we decided to sail down to Miami and into Biscayne Bay to No Name Harbour. Another boat from the anchorage was planning to head south so we braved a very choppy entrance to Fort Lauderdale and left together.

Our buddy boat just off Miami.

Our buddy boat just off Miami.

We had a bumpy ride, but our crew took it in their stride!

Our happy crew.

Our happy crew.

Gladys at the helm.

Gladys at the helm.

Miami has a pretty impressive skyline………

Sailing by Miami Docks

Sailing by Miami Docks

and the entry back into the Intracoastal Waterway took us through the dock area. We are very restricted as to where we can go by our height of mast and draft. Unfortunately the fixed bridges on the waterway are 65’ high and our mast is 67’, but we managed to squeeze under a 78’ road bridge on our way down to No Name Harbour.

Did the chart say 78'?

Did the chart say 78′?

The harbour is part of a nature reserve and we spent two nights at anchor here.

No Name Harbour.

No Name Harbour.

Just testing the da it's in No Name Harbour.!

Just testing the davits in No Name Harbour.!

The weather was not good enough for a day on the beach, but the walking was good and we saw our first raccoons and there was great excitement as a couple of dolphins came around the anchorage to check us out.

Our much photoed raccoon.

One of our much photoed raccoons.

Maybe not so cute if they climb and poop all over your boat!

Maybe not so cute if they climb and poop all over your boat!

I think we looked like real tourists excitedly taking pictures of what the locals must look on as vermin!!

The lighthouse which is just south of the harbour, is the oldest structure in Miami, having been built in the 1880’s!…..very old by Miami standards. Just off the shore there is Stiltsville, a collection of buildings dating from the 1920’s 30’s which used to be the playground of the rich and famous.

One of the houses in Stiltsville.

One of the houses in Stiltsville.

Not being rich or famous, we left the tranquility of the nature reserve, for a return to our mooring at Las Olas Marina ready for Christmas. Luckily the wind chose to blow our way, and after another lumpy ride, we managed to dodge the big ship traffic and pick up a mooring ball.

This is our fourth Christmas on the boat……how time flies!!

Christmas Eve is always a time for partying and this year was no exception!

Christmas Eve........always an excuse for a party!!

Christmas Eve……..always an excuse for a party!!

We invited all the neighbours over for a drink and a good time was had by all.

Father Christmas managed to locate us and left us all got stockings.

Father Christmas found us all!

Father Christmas found us all!

Look what he got in his stocking!

Look what he got in his stocking!

Christmas breakfast.

Christmas breakfast.

Christmas morning Champers.

Christmas morning Champers.

Colombian presents. Cheers!

Colombian presents. Cheers!

We had a leisurely day with presents, food and drink and we invited Sylvain, a Canadian ‘single hander’ with engine problems, to join us at 5.00 for Christmas dinner………we finally sat down at 8.30, but it was well worth the wait. Marcus once again excelled himself in the kitchen.

Another good time was had by all!

Jenn and I ready for a Boxing Day jog in our new trainers!

Jenn and I ready for a Boxing Day jog in our new trainers!

On Sunday we took another trip down to Miami, as Gladys’s treat before she left. It seems that everyone who holidays in the US from Colombia, holidays in Miami, so we took her to the oldest ‘open air’ mall…….built in the 1950s

Just about sums these two up!!

Just about sums these two up!!

and then on to an Italian restaurant for a delicious authentic Italian farewell lunch….. Who would have guessed the chef was actually Colombian!

Two early morning runs to the airport, at crack of sparrow’s fart, came as a shock after such a relaxed three weeks. It’s a strange mix of sadness at saying goodbye, excitement for Jenni and Cristian’s big adventure and relief at being able to put the boat back into every day mode!

It was particularly hard say goodbye to Jenni and Cristian, as they are on their way to Hawaii and then Australia. We don’t know when we’ll see them again (:

Farewell at the airport.

Farewell at the airport.

It s now 2016……….how did that happen?!
We spent New Year’s Eve strolling along Fort Lauderdale Beach and then back to the boat for supper and out on the deck to watch the firework display……….all we saw was the moon rise! ………..We weren’t the only ones that were out there on the water to get the best view.  Unfortunately they’d changed the venue for the display, but not told anyone!!

The silver lining to this cloud is that we will both be able to remember the turning of this year!

A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL. XX

Photos to follow.

Time flies when you’ve got family onboard!
We have been here in Fort Lauderdale for 10 days now and what with boat repairs and shopping trips, we have been fully occupied!!
Our trip up from the Dominican Republic was not without dramas. One day out of the DR, the alternator on the main engine stopped working. Thank goodness for the sun panels, as without generator or alternator, there was no other way to charge the batteries. We had to conserve as much power as possible, so we turned of our voraciously power hungry fridge and beer fridge and used the wind steering, instead of the auto helm. When we’re motor sailing, the Hydrovane needs watching the whole time, so we were doing two hour watches day and night………not so much fun :(
Every morning at 0700, we tuned into Chris Parker’s weather forecast on the SSB radio……….surprise, surprise……..when we were off the north Coast of Cuba, the weather window that he had given us three days before to get up to Florida, had closed, so we had to detour to the most south westerly island in the Bahamas, Ragged Island.
We drew into the anchorage at midnight, navigating our way in with the iPad over very shallow shoals.

Our dinghy dock on Ragged Island.

Our dinghy dock on Ragged Island.

Ragged Island is home to 50 people and it would seem they are reliant on the sailing tourist season, fishing and salt production for their income. There is an airport with a very new and over sized run way, for the daily mail plane.
Going for take off on the airport runway.

Going for take off on the airport runway.


………we can only think that it was funded by the U.S. for military use, being so close to Cuba. To get to the village
we had to cross the runway and the guy who gave us directions said, “Just look left and right!”
His name is Wilson and he owns the most eccentric bar we’ve seen so far. Unfortunately it wasn’t open, but he hopes to have it running for the tourist season. He apparently salvaged the plane from the airport after a drugs run ended abruptly with a crash landing. He towed it down the track to his land and propped it up on four supports, build the walls between the supports and adding a room on the wing and hey presto! ….. A quirky tourist attraction and a great bit of up cycling!
Salvaged plane and its owner.

Salvaged plane and its owner.


We stayed for two days and the it was time for the next weather window to head north and hopefully cross the Gulf Stream. Again the best laid plans of mice and men failed! We ended up having to detour to Bimini in gale force winds! We battled bravely on through 25-30 knot winds and 10ft waves breaking over the deck until, at 0300 hrs on Sunday morning, the anchor chafed through its securing line and was beginning to pay out over the bow and was being slammed against the boat.
With life jacket, lifeline and head torch on,, Marcus braved it up onto the foredeck and we ‘hove to’, while he manhandled the anchor back on board and secured it and the chain. Job done, he went down for a well earned sleep and we stayed hove to for the next three hours, until the winds dropped consistently to below 20 knots and then we were off again.
The entrance to Bimini is a bit like going into Bembridge!…….the channel is convoluted and varies in depth with moving shoals of sand.
The entrance to Bimini.

The entrance to Bimini.

We watched a boat come out and asked him for the best line in and, with his advice and the trusty iPad, we docked at Brown’s Marina for a well earned rest and a top up for the batteries and water tanks.
Bimini has one town; Alice Town. We walked the entire length of the town in twenty minutes. Transport is varied, from bicycles and motorbikes to golf carts and large american style cars and the cost of living is astronomical compared with the DR!!
The weather kept us docked until Wednesday, when the winds moderated and came round to the east and we were able to leave for Fort Lauderdale.
Crossing the Gulf Stream is said to be one of the most perilous stretches of water if the there’s any north in the wind. The wind over tide effect builds such big and steep waves, that they are described as marching elephants!!……..we didn’t want to mess with them.
As it was we had an uneventful crossing and pulled into the harbour
Fort Lauderdale at last!

Fort Lauderdale at last!


and up under our first lifting bridge into the Intra Coastal Waterway.
17th street bridge lifting for us.

17th street bridge lifting for us.

We took a mooring just before the next bridge and have been here ever since.
After a day of buses and taxis, we managed to check in and Jenni and Cristian joined us in their hire car, ready to go and pick up Gladys from the airport.
Mission, seemingly Impossible, completed!
The weather here has been foul……..until we arrived and brought some sun!
Jenni and Cristian spent their first week or so in the U.S. with friends, Tyler and Nic, who live in North Palm Beach. Far from out staying their welcome while they waited our arrival, Jenn and Cristian have been given the ‘Best House Guests Ever’ award by their hosts!
On Saturday evening, Tyler and Nic stayed over and we had an unexpected treat of watching the Christmas torchlit boat carnival pass up and down the waterway right by our mooring.
All aboard for the boat parade.

All aboard for the boat parade.


Boat Parade.

Boat Parade.


And another.

And another.


We are still plagued by having to keep our battery consumption down, but a new alternator and regulator are on order and we’ll hopefully be up and running on the battery front by the end of the week!
Once ashore, we are right in the middle of Fort Lauderdale beach, with all its bars and shops as well as a white sandy beach with a palm lined promenade running along the back of it……
On the way to shore in the 'second car'.

On the way to shore in the ‘second car’.


At the marina.

At the marina.

great for drinkers, shoppers, sunbathers and exercisers, all of whom we have onboard!

We sailed from Woburn Bay up to Carriacou to refill the diesel tanks, ready for our first long stretch in a long time. We met up with Grant, who was on The Buzzard in Grenada, and narrowly missed seeing Dave and Chis, on Patina…….we consider them our benefactors after they gave us the entire set of guides for the Eastern Seaboard! Shame we missed them:(

On Tuesday 3rd November, we set off for Antigua and had a good sail with beam winds for most of the way. Just as we were approaching Jolly Harbour on Thursday morning, a squall came across and soaked us, but cleaned the boat! We made our way in in sunshine and once having cleared in, we anchored next to Maia, a British boat which is home for six months of the year to a very PLU couple (people like us), Peter and Anne who are from Jersey. We spent a lot of time in their company and were kept entertained by Pete’s stories.
While we were in Jolly Harbour we met up for lunch with Marcus’ old school friend, Colin and his wife, Lou. It was good to see them again and meet their daughter, Jenny.
Whilst near boatyards, we got someone to take a very expensive look at our generator. Diagnosis…….it’s broken!
As always we met some good people. When we were going into the restaurant on our first evening, we met four Brits who were on holiday and the next morning we picked them up for elevenses onboard!

Antigua and new friends onboard

Antigua and new friends onboard

Late afternoon on Wednesday 11th, we left Jolly Harbour, bound for Tortola in the BVIs. All went well to begin with the auto pilot taking the strain……..unfortunately too much strain as it turned out! The pesky pin broke again at 2100hrs and the Hydrovane was pressed into action. It coped really well, despite really light winds and the motor on. In the afternoon the conditions were calm enough for me to empty the port locker and crawl into my most favourite place on the boat…..not!

The hidden part of the 'Cruising Life' !!

The hidden part of the ‘Cruising Life’ !!

The troublesome pin!

The troublesome pin!

With the auto pilot working again, we worked the wind vane and Autohelm together and spent the afternoon reminding ourselves how to rig the whisker pole to pole out the Genoa and cruising chutes, should we ever get following winds! Just to keep us on our toes, the galley fridge compressor decided To stop working on Thursday!

Early on Friday morning, we pulled into Road Town, Tortola, checked in and arranged for another expert to come and diagnose the generator. This one was astronomically expensive, but he did find the problem. Sadly it’s terminal!
We set off for Fat Hog’s Bay to anchor for the night and after a roly night, we decided to sail south to Soper’s Hole on the south of the island, hoping to anchor again in the old pirates’ sheltered inlet.

A mixed bag of weather off Tortola, BVIs

A mixed bag of weather off Tortola, BVIs

No sooner did we hoist the Genoa, than it slid gracefully down the forestay and into the water. After a lot of ‘Heave Ho-ing’ we managed to get the sail aboard and safely stowed on deck. We then unfurled our trusty stay sail and continued to Soper’s Hole.

Jib in need of repair!

Jib in need of repair!Despite the symbols on the charts and the words in the guide book, there is no chance of anchoring in Soper’s Hole as it is now all taken up with $30 a night buoys.

With good wifi, we managed to arrange for our Genoa to be mended at Nany Cay, so off we went back up the island and pulled into the marina for the night and delivered the sail to be repaired. We also managed to arrange for a refrigeration guy to come and sort out the galley fridge….thank goodness we had a spare compressor, or we’d be bobbing along with no arms and no legs! Needless to say, the sail wasn’t ready when we were told it would be, so we took off for a cheap night at anchor in Peter Island.

What a good decision that was!

Stern anchored to a bush, Peter Island.

Stern anchored to a bush, Peter Island.

 

Idyllic anchorage, Peter Island, BVIs.

Idyllic anchorage, Peter Island, BVIs.

Genoa fixed, collected and hoisted, we set sail for the western most island of Jost Van Dyke. This was a delight after the charter boat orientated nonsense that is Tortola. Here we were able to anchor on the edge of the mooring field and spent a restful night before checking out of the BVIs.

Jost Van Dyke on the way to Foxy's beach bar.

Jost Van Dyke on the way to Foxy’s beach bar.

 

School children on their way to May Pole dancing.....or Braid the Pole as they call it!

School children on their way to May Pole dancing…..or Braid the Pole as they call it!

 

Arty Farty pic!

Arty Farty pic!

 

On Thursday 19th, we left Jost Van Dyke at 1245 bound for Luperon DR.

Jib back up and we're off....heading for the DR.

Jib back up and we’re off….heading for the DR.

We had a very lumpy night as we made our way past Puerto Rico. Luckily things calmed down as we crossed above the Mona Passge…..a notoriously tricky bit of sea.

Sunrise just off the coast of the Dominican Republic.

Sunrise just off the coast of the Dominican Republic.

Just before dawn on the third day we saw the Queen Mary, making for a purpose built cruise ship terminal called Amber Cove. Marcus hailed them to check that our AIS and radar ‘SeeMe’ devices were working. All was well and they’d picked us up on both…..very reassuring!

Queen Mary.

Queen Mary.

 

At 0930 we entered Luperon Harbour. Looking at it from the sea, it looks like one unbroken reef with breaking seas, but once we followed the buoyage we saw the break in the reef and made our way in.

For those of you reading this who may come this way, we found the Garmin Blue Chart with Active Captain, gave us excellent approach details……our Raymarine navionics chart had us on the land!! As it happened we didn’t need to rely on the charts as another cruiser, who was out in his dinghy, lead us through the shallows into the Harbour. Once again we are on the receiving end of the generosity of a fellow cruiser.

Luperon harbour.

Luperon harbour.

Luperon is a well known ‘Huricane Hole’ and as such there are many boats that have been left here for the season, others with cruisers waiting to move on and those who have got this far and decided to stay. There is also a number of gringos who arrived by boat, but now live on land.

Dinghy dock at the far end of moorings.

Dinghy dock at the far end of moorings.

Luperon reminds us very much of Brasil. The people are very welcoming and friendly, but there is clearly a lot of poverty. Dogs roam the streets and in the evening everyone sits outside their houses and there is a lot of banter, music and laughter.

Main street, Luperon.

Main street, Luperon.

Just behind the main street, Luperon.

Just behind the main street, Luperon.

There are two cruisers’ bars, The Lazy Ass Bistro and Wendy’s.

We have attended two film nights at Wendy’s, a quiz night at the Lazy Ass and I went along with a new friend, Veronique, to Yoga at the sadly derelict Yacht Club.

Film Night at Wendy's.

Film Night at Wendy’s.

 

Burgers and popcorn....soooo American!

Eating with Bruce and Veronique ….Burgers and popcorn….soooo American!

On Thursday we signed up for a Thanksgiving Dinner out of town at the Pequino Mondo restaurant. To get there we had to take the local taxi! Luckily we got a lift back……I didn’t fancy riding pillion in the dark and in the rain!

On the back of our motogauchos' bikes on our way to Thanksgiving. Arriving in one piece was cause for thanksgiving!!

On the back of our motogauchos’ bikes on our way to Thanksgiving. Arriving in one piece was cause for thanksgiving!!

 

Thanksgiving dinner with Ray and Carmen.

Thanksgiving dinner with Ray and Carmen.

Ray is one of the sailors who arrived and decided to settle here and has married a local girl. She was delighted to see photos of our family and especially to see photos of Mahoro and Malachy.

On Friday we did our checking out in preparation for leaving on Saturday and then took a taxi to the city of Puerto Plata, which we passed on our way along the coast.
The city is a mixture of the new and the old. Our driver, Heim, gave us a potted history of the DR and Haiti and guardedly referred to the corruption of officialdom. We had already experienced charges from the tourist board, the agriculture officials and Imigration which have mounted up to £135 even though we’re only staying for less than a week!

Driving the herd on a horse.

Driving the herd of cows on a horse.

 

Puerto Plata. A bustling city.

Puerto Plata. A bustling city with a foot in two worlds.

We managed to see a little of the country side, but our main mission was to buy a new car stereo, as the old one has given up the ghost. We also queued for ages in a superstore, where we managed to buy bedding ready for our visitors and food that’s not available in Luperon, ready for our five day passage to Fort Lauderdale.

It is now Saturday evening and we haven’t left!
Marcus went to the navy to get our despchio document this morning, but the Commandente di Puerto wouldn’t let us go, because he said there were thunderstorms due off the north coast of the DR this afternoon.
It seems like we’re in Hotel Luperon…………we can check out anytime we like,  but we cannot leave.
He’s due to come to the boat tomorrow morning at 0750 to give us our papers so we’ll see. If he doesn’t let us go we’ll miss the window to cross the Gulf Stream on Friday at the other end of our journey!

Well the hurricane season seems to be at an end and we are heading up the chain tomorrow, Sunday November 1st!
We have been busy finishing the jobs that have slipped down the list, like hauling Marcus up the mast to replace the deck-light bulb and flag halyard,

View from the top of the mast!

View from the top of the mast!

clearing out the crew cabin and turning the bottom bunk into a larder…….and other such mundane jobs as we prepare for our next big adventure.
Just as we thought that everything was ready, the generator decided to pack up and despite all our best efforts and the help and advice from Mike, on The Buzzard, it turns out that the built in computer has a  fault…..so onward and upward sans water maker, until we find a Cummins Onan specialist.
We have a month to get ourselves up through the islands, stopping off  briefly in Antigua, then on to the BVIs before a long stretch west to the Bahamas and then over to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where our daughter, Jenni and her boyfriend and his mother,  are meeting us for Christmas.  Good times ahead….. Christmas winds permitting!

Leaving a place that has been ‘home’ for  four months is always going to be a strange feeling. We have been saying we’re leaving at the end of October since we arrived here back in June, but now it’s tomorrow we realise that we have made good friends that we may never see again!
In the last few weeks we seem to have had a very musical time! We started a singing group called the Archipelagos and after practicing frantically……….

The Archipelagos practicing on IK

The Archipelagos practicing on IK

…………performed at the local open mic night at the Museum.

open mic night at the museum

Open Mic night at the museum….me  thanking our MD 

We also had a jam session on our boat

Jamming on IK

Jamming on IK

and went on a French friend’s catamaran for a birthday party that turned into a jam!

Jamming with Pascal on his cat.

Jamming with Pascal on his cat.

Being in a small anchorage, away from marinas, means that you get to know the locals. I have four or five children, who I played games with at the pre-term party in September, who always run up to greet me and when I injured my foot and knee all my nodding acquaintances would stop to ask me how I was getting on. Local English has some funny quirks. I was asked several times “Did you mash your foot?”even when they were referring to my knee……..apparently anything to do with the leg is referred to as the foot!

Marcus has been very involved with the locals who play pool every Thursday and has taken a young man called Solomon under his wing. On the way into the quay yesterday evening we heard, ‘Teacher, Teacher!’……it was Solomon and he came over to thank Marcus for his coaching……now he says he will be winning the prize money every Thursday! He also told us he has a photo of Marcus in his room, to remind him to play to beat his opponent, rather than just pot the balls…….who’d have imagined Marcus as a pin-up!!?

We have met some wonderful people who have helped us out with advice and practical help on  various technical bits and given freely and willingly of their time. The cruising community is a cosmopolitan floating village who look out for each other……..a great place to be!

I am sorry to leave my ‘noodling’ buddies. It’s a great way to start the day…..an hour’s aerobic exercise, a chance to catch up on the gossip, a great source of advice on all sorts of topics and a lot of laughter! Altogether a great support network. I hope I find other noodlers as we move on.

The day before we left, Stamen and Durita gave us a wonderful farewell brunch of lobster soup and lambi curry. we spent most of the day with them……such good friends they feel like family.

Brunch with Hugh onboard Gaia

Brunch with Hugh on board Gaia

Stamen and Durita serving brunch.

Stamen and Durita serving brunch.

After leaving Grenada we stopped in at Carriacou for a day as the angle of sail is better from there to Antigua.

Carriacou is delightful and is so unspoilt.

Evening sky in Tyrrell Bay Cariacou.

Evening sky in Tyrrell Bay Cariacou.

Well we have made it to Antigua and arrived on Thursday at 1130hrs. We have anchored in Jolly Harbour, after having had a rough passage near Guadalupe. Marcus had to hand steer and change course to get into the lee of the island.

As we were making our final approach to Jolly Harbour we had to stand off entering and  sat out a torrential squall in deep water. Once everything settled down, we were glad to arrive!

We checked in and refuelled and then dropped anchor behind another English flagged boat ‘Maia’ who popped across and invited us aboard for sundowners! Where on land would that happen?
On Friday we met up with Marcus’ school friend Colin and his wife Lou and they took us out for lunch, then back to pick up the local mechanic to take a look at the generator.

Cushions up, all the stowed gear out and boards up……all to be replaced with no cure for the genny. A repeat performance on Saturday when the ‘expert’ arrived and two hours and £100 later the genny is  still refusing to work!! Our next option is to call ahead to Tortola and try to arrange for a Cummins Onan dealer to have a look at it and hopefully perform some ‘brain surgery’ that will stop it shutting itself down after five seconds.

The weather has been blustery, overcast and rainy so keeping up with the demands on the batteries has been a problem, without the solar panels pumping in power and we’ve had to run the main engine twice a day to top up the voltage.
With the weather being unsettled we have been tuning into Chris Parker’s 0700 weather broadcast on the SSB radio to work out when to leave and avoid the worst of the squalls. At the moment it looks like Wednesday will be the best day to leave.
Until then we are finding plenty of jobs to keep us occupied………how is it that in four months we didn’t find the time to get them all done? Hmmmm……..perhaps it has something to do with the social side of life in Grenada!!

We’ve had a wonderful week with Betty and Tracy.

Betty and Tracy arriving.

Betty and Tracy arriving.

It’s so good to have visitors and give them a taste of what life’s like here and show them our present ‘home’ country.

Room with a view

Room with a view

The Sangria, where we had dinner overlooking Morne Rouge Bay on the first night.

The Sangria, where we had dinner overlooking Morne Rouge Bay on the first night.

If anyone is thinking of taking a holiday in Grenada, then The Kalinago Hotel is perfect. It is a small 26 room hotel right on the beach in the sheltered and secluded Morne Rouge Bay.

The bit that sold Marcus on the hotel was the bar with bar stools in the pool!

Marcus trying out the bar stools!

Marcus trying out the bar stools!

Betty and Tracy had a swim in the sea every morning before breakfast and we lazed by the pool with them quite happily on a couple of the days.
Being secluded, however, does mean that a car is a must and taking the turn off the road, down into the hotel, takes nerves of steel when the drive disappears from view over the bonnet!

Morne Rouge bay is not only a tourist destination. It has it’s own fishermen who set seine nets from the beach.

hauling in the seine net.

hauling in the seine net.

The Boss working the net.

The Boss working the net.

The fishermen catch ‘jacks’ small fish a little like whitebait, or catch larger fish or lobsters that they seem to cook on an open fire in a makeshift camp on the rocks.

Cooking on the rocks.

Cooking on the rocks.

Betty and Tracy saw these men at work early on their first morning before we arrived to take a dip in the pool and give them a quick tour of the nearby area in the car.
After a lazy day acclimatising to the heat and the new time zone, we had a late lunch at BB’s Crabback restaurant overlooking St George’s harbour. The food was fantastic and the owner had won awards in England for his Caribbean cuisine…….he spent 39 years in Ealing!
The following day we lunched at Whisper Cove, looking out across Woburn bay with Island Kea in sight. After lunch it was all aboard the dinghy and out to the boat for an afternoon of lazing and Scrabble

A lazy afternoon on Island Kea.

A lazy afternoon on Island Kea.

before dinner aboard.

Dinner aboard.

Dinner aboard.

We spent the day on Friday at the hotel, making good use of the facilities. Tracy and I took a kayak out and paddled off to check the depth of the water at the mouth of the bay to see if we could possibly anchor there. I hope we anchor better than we did with the kayak…….we had a 50 metre dash to swim back and save it from being blown out to sea!

When we got back, Marcus was giving a master class to Betty on how to swim with a noodle……who would have guessed he was such an expert?!

Get those legs up!

Get those legs up!

After all that exercise and a few rum punches at the bar, we strolled along to the neighbouring beach bar for lunch.

Lunch 'next door' under a palm tree.

Lunch ‘next door’ under a palm tree.

More lazing by the pool and a spot of snorkelling was followed by a quick trip out to a local beach bar, The Cocnut Beach, for dinner.

On Saturday we all went to ‘Taffy’s Bar’ to watch the Rugby, fully expecting to be able to barrack the welsh contingent. Unfortunately Wales won, but as Betty’s mothers maiden name was Davies, we had some claim to at least a welsh name!!

With our tails between our legs, we left for the hotel and a very competitive game of Scrabble before a sunset where we saw the ‘green flash’.

The sun going down, just before the 'green flash'.

The sun going down, just before the ‘green flash’.

Dinner on the beach.

Dinner on the beach.

So Clear.

Perfect!

A perfect sunset was followed by a torch lit barbecue dinner on the beach outside the hotel……..what decadence!!

Dinner on the beach.

Dinner on the beach.

On Sunday we were up early and got the canopy down by 7.00 ………Uncharted waters for Marcus! The wind was just beginning to pick up as we stowed it away and after breakfast we upped anchor and set off bound for Morne Rouge Bay to pick up B&T for a gentle sail back to Woburn Bay. We had a wonderful sail round with the wind and tide for most of the way.

Island Kea entering the bay.

Island Kea entering the bay.

The bay is very shallow for a long way out, so we edged as far in as we could, dropped the anchor and dinghied in to pick up our eager crew from their loungers on the beach.

Taxi!!

                               Taxi!!??

My Titanic moment caught on camera on the way out to IK!

My Titanic moment caught on camera on the way out to IK!

Tracy took a turn at the helm and we sailed a good way back to Woburn Bay before the wind and tide demanded the engine.

Tracy at the helm.

Tracy at the helm.

Once we were safely re-anchored, we dropped the dinghy and went ashore to join in the ‘Full Moon Party’ in Benjy Bay.
This is a very local monthly event with cruisers and local bands playing …… the best ever barbecued spare ribs….. and soup cooked on an open fire.

What a contrast……….table cloths, torches and waitresses yesterday, today a picnic table in a boat yard with food on a polystyrene plate and a plastic fork!!

Full Moon Eclipse Party

Full Moon Eclipse Party

The stage with the moon above

The stage with the moon above

Sharing the love. xx

Sharing the love. xx

On Monday we booked a tour of the island with Cutty. He is a great guide; very knowledgeable and extremely proud of the island. The tour took 8 hours and we went all the way to the top of the island

Petite Anse hotel in the north of the island.

Petite Anse hotel in the north of the island.

and visited the Nutmeg factory, chocolate factory

Tour of the chocolate factory.

Tour of the chocolate factory.

CHOCOLATE!!!

CHOCOLATE!!!

and the Rivers rum distillery,

Our tour guide, Witfield, at the rum distillery.

Our tour guide, Witfield, at the rum distillery.

as well as a waterfall and many stops to smell and taste various fruits and spices and look at local flowers.

Bougainvillea ....... the purple ae specialised leaves. The flowers are tiny!

Bougainvillea ……. the purple ae specialised leaves. The flowers are tiny!

A great time was had by all.

We left shopping until the last day, when we took a trip to a T shirt factory, where they will print your chosen motif on your chosen shirt or dress in just a minute.

After our successful shop, we went back to BB’s Crabback restaurant for our final meal together.

Our last meal at BB's

                 Our last meal at BB’s

This is our first hurricane season, or ‘windy’ season as the local tourist authority likes to refer to it! Life takes on a completely different pace to the one we have been used to when we’re cruising.
We spent a week or so in a rolly anchorage in Prickly Bay and joined in some of the cruisers social activities at the marina. Apart from the Tiki Bar and it’s daily happy hour!, I did my first Tai Chi class under a mango tree, and we played Mexican Train Dominoes along with 18 other ‘die hards’ on Sundays.
Prickly Bay is also host to Spice Island boatyard, where boats can be lifted and worked on and there is a decent sail loft. It also has one of the Caribbean wide Budget Marine chandleries, though it’s questionable whose budget they’re working to!….., so all in all it’s a good place when jobs need doing, but there are too many shiney things to tempt idle cruisers!

Thankfully we were in Prickly Bay, for once the right place to be, when our battery bank decided to fade and die. When we bought the boat we knew that the batteries would need replacing soon, so we’ve been lucky to get three years out of them!
We bit the very expensive bullet and bought four batteries, each weighing 10 stone, from Budget Marine. The old ones had to be lifted out and replaced with four new ones……..clearly not a job for Marcus and me to tackle alone. Just getting them from the store into the dinghy would have been a mission, let alone moving them from the dinghy onto the boat!
Whilst our new batteries were still in store, charging, we moved round into Woburn Bay to anchor, and when we were chatting about our battery problem, Mike, on the Flying Buzzard, came to our rescue……… What had seemed like an insurmountable problem was solved in a morning! We now have the the new batteries which the sun and wind manage to charge with ease and we only have to run the generator to make water………..luxury!

It never ceases to amaze us how helpful and selfless people are. Any time we have a problem it seems there is someone ready to step in and help.

As I said at the top, life here has a different rhythm. There is time to commit to activities and the weeks are punctuated by regular events.

A map to give you a rough idea of our habitat.

A map to give you a rough idea of our habitat.

There is a very good Jam session every Tuesday around in the next bay at Secret Harbour marina…….I have been know to tootle on my recorders!
Wednesdays and Thursdays there is live music at Taffy’s and Nimrod’s respectively.
Marcus has found a few pool enthusiasts and plays in a tournament every Thursday.

The pool table and book swap corner at Island View.

The pool table and book swap corner at Island View.

Taffy’s bar has fish and chips on Fridays and a Sunday roast. So as you can see, there’s plenty to satisfy on the social scene.
I have joined a noodling group that meets every morning at 8.30 at Hog Island. It’s an hour’s worth of exercise and chat, done at whatever intensity you wish. Noodling gives rise to other activities, like a Noodlers’ trip to a local T Shirt factory, a Noodlers’ shopping bus and a Noodlers’ a capella singing group! The next activity is going to be a Noodler’s art session, where we all meet with art materials and wine and see what transpires!!
There are quite a few events that are organised for cruisers. One we attended was a dinghy concert one Sunday afternoon. A large barge was towed out from Le Phare Bleu marina and anchored in the bay. We all turned up in our dinghies, tied up to the barge and each other and bobbed about listening to the band……..lots of boats, lots of beer and some precarious dancing!!
Just incase you’re beginning to think life here in Paradise is all play and no work, I’d better remind you of some of the realities!
Shopping is done either on foot and with rucksacks on the local buses, which takes up to three hours, or you can take a ‘shopping bus’ that calls at a variety of stores and delivers you back to near your dinghy, which takes four hours!
The washing is done at either Island View or Whisper Cove in top loaders and then carried back on the dinghy to the boat to be dried. The whole process takes two and a half hours!

My weekly pilgrimage to the solitary machine  at Island View!

My weekly pilgrimage to the solitary machine at Island View!

Buying Marcus a pair of shorts took us all day!!
…….I had exhausted St George’s shops and was told to try ‘up island’ in Grenville, so we decided make the trip. We waited for a bus to turn up (there are no bus time tables) and eventually got to Grenville a good two hours after setting off and just in time for lunch! We found the most amazing emporium with everything under the sun on display, including a pair of shorts with cargo pockets in Marcus’ size!
Mission accomplished, we set out to catch a bus back. We got on and were assured it was going straight away……….straight after it had cajoled enough people aboard to make the trip worthwhile!
Again the trip took almost two hours and we had the extra excitement of the bus making worrying noises as it’s differential broke! Everyone hurriedly disembarked and we walked the last mile back to the dinghy, via Nimrod’s for a welcome cold drink.

PS.
I am having problems uploading photos at the moment, so I’ll publish this as is and add some more photos when I solve the problem.

We had a perfect sail down from Carriacou to St George’s in Grenada. The wind was steady on the beam, until we got in the wind shadow of some of the higher ground on Grenada, but with plenty of time before dark, we stayed with the sails and made our way sedately to Camper Nicholson’s Port Louis marina.

We took advantage of their half price ‘Carnival Special’ and for a very reasonable £19 a night we had the security of knowing that the boat and dinghy were in a secure and guarded berth during the carnival weekend, when things notoriously ‘go missing’!. It also meant we could walk into town and see as much of Carnival as possible.

Stamen and Durita moored up just in front of us on the Super Yacht dock and we spent a day settling in and getting used to the luxury of a swimming pool and poolside bar, good wifi and a laundry that actually got clothes clean!

On Saturday afternoon we dodged the showers and headed for the ‘Panorama’ steel pan band competition at the National Cricket Stadium. The bands had from 50 up to 80 players aged, 9 to 70, with as many as 170 pans. All these pans of various sizes were mounted on numerous small wheeled floats, that had to be manhandled across the muddy outfield, up a steep ramp and onto the stage. Despite the toil of getting everything in place, the performances were incredibly energetic. We stayed to hear 5 of the 9 bands………Marcus had nearly lost the will to live by then……but we did hear the winning band. I loved it!!

Steel Pan Band.

Steel Pan Band.

On Sunday things were eerily quiet and we spent our ‘day off’ doing jobs and socialising. We had an early night ready for a 4am start to experience ‘J’ouvert’ which is a contraction of the French Jour ouvert, or day break.
We got up, very bleary eyed, and made our way towards the loud music to join the several thousand revellers. We had been warned

to wear old clothes and to coat ourselves in baby oil to make washing easier! We were also told that if we stayed on the pavement we would be relatively safe!, but if we walked in the road we were fair game!! We walked along with the crowd…….in the road, of course, and got hugged and danced with by locals covered in engine oil and paint. It was a shame that I didn’t take the camera, but probably just as well! By the way the baby oil trick worked a treat.

This is an extract from the Spice Mas site that explains a little of the J’ouvert tradition.

“…the traditional Jab-Jab or Devil Mas bands emerge from the darkness of the night to parade freely through the town.”
Blackened with stale molasses, tar, grease, creosote or mud, and wearing little more than their horned helmets, these masqueraders in previous times set out to terrify onlookers with their grotesque appearance and repulsive dances.

In modern times, the traditional Jab-Molassi have mutated into other creatures of colour, with Blue, Yellow and Green Devils joining in the early morning parade. These colourful devils are much more playful in character, wanting only to dab a bit of their body paint onto unsuspecting bystanders, as they dance through the streets to the rhythms of the accompanying drums, steel bands and calypsos from huge DJ trucks.

Having drunk and danced our way all the way to the town, Marcus and Stamen decided to walk all the way back……Durita and I opted for the water taxi and bed!

I’ve managed to copy a few shots of J’ouvert from the internet:-

Crowds of very happy, colourful and oily people.

Crowds of very happy, colourful and oily people.

Painted ladies.....carnival style.

Painted ladies…..carnival style.

Some Jab Jabs about to be driven away by the dawn.

Some Jab Jabs about to be driven away by the dawn.

Monday afternoon and we were all up and on our

way to the stadium again to see the Fancy Mas Bands parade on the stage for judging. The costumes are amazing and must cost several month’s wages. We watched them get ready in the street, mixed in with some of the morning Jab Jabs who were still celebrating.

Still up and carrying his bucket of oil!

Still up and carrying his bucket of oil!

Gathering for the parade.

Gathering for the parade.

On the judging stage at the Stadium.

On the judging stage at the Stadium.

It's all about spectacle.

It’s all about spectacle.

Here are some of the amazing ‘feature’ costumes. They were supported by hundreds of other members of the dancing ‘bands’.

'Colours of Carnival' one of the band's theme.

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After a long day and a lot of partying, I was the only one left standing to walk to the gates of the marina at midnight, to watch the Night Mas parade down the hill on its 4 hour journey from Grande Anse into St George.

The Night Mas as it came down the hill.

The Night Mas as it came down the hill.

There were thousands of people marching/dancing/walking festooned with glow sticks in various shapes and sizes following the speaker lorries, which were still blasting out the two songs we heard all day.
On Tuesday there was the Fancy Mas In the afternoon. We dinghied across the harbour to the yacht club for lunch and to await the procession.
It was billed to start at 1pm…….that’s GMT ……. Grenada Maybe Time….. At 3pm we heard the music getting closer so we went and found our vantage spot just by the judging point for the individual feature costumes.
These were the same ‘bands’ that we had seen being judged at the stadium, but this time they paraded from near the marina right into town.
As the last band passed we followed the crowd. Marcus kept going, but I ducked out at the yacht club and headed back to the boat for an early night.
What a great weekend.
Grenadians really know how to party and every event was a family affair. Although a lot of rum and beer was consumed, the crowds were always good humoured and there wasn’t a single disturbance…..we only saw three police officers and they were manning a road block!

On Wednesday, with the boat back together and all systems Go, we got ready to set off for Carriacou to take part in the annual regatta ……..not on our boat, but on another cruiser’s boat.

Durita, our Faroese friend, joined us for the sail up to Carriacou. She had flown down from there on an errand of mercy a couple of days before, accompanying a very sick cruiser who had collapsed on his boat with internal bleeding and was barely alive. By the time her patient arrived at the hospital he was in an even worse state, due to the time and stress of traveling. Medical emergencies are not the easiest things to deal with when you live on a boat. First he had to be manhandled from his boat to a dinghy, …… onto a bus acting as an ambulance, ….into the clinic on Carriacou which had no blood transfusion capability, ……back in the ‘ambulance’, …..onto a six seater plane to Grenada, then into another ambulance to the hospital. Thanks to the persistence of Durita, who is a ‘flying’ nurse back home in Norway, Tony, the patient, eventually was given a blood transfusion that no doubt saved his life. It turns out that the hospital initially said they had only two units of blood………it later transpired that there was more blood, but they were saving it for emergencies!! In the meantime the cruising community arranged a ‘blood drive’ and some 20 or more Yotties rolled up their selves and gave an armful. It appears that once it was clear that their stocks would be replaced, the emergency blood was released and Tony could be operated on. It is now two weeks on and Tony is recovering ashore in Woburn……..Durita removed his stitches on Sunday.

Now back to the Carriacou regatta……well almost!

We motored out of our anchorage in Grenada and headed north, only to be rudely interupted by the engine’s hot water alarm and what,at first, looked like low oil pressure.
Out came the sails and on went the thinking caps.
Marcus, who is now intimately acquainted with the ‘Beast Below the Boards’, quickly discovered that the problem lay in a lack of coolant, so with funnel, hose and a gallon of water, we filled the radiator and set off motor/sailing again. This process had to be repeated three times as we beat our way up to Tyrrell Bay and dropped anchor under a full moon. The following day a miscreant hose clamp was detected and replaced, the radiator was drained and new coolant/antifreeze was administered. Since then this patient too has made a full and speedy recovery!!

Carriacou reminds us of the Scillies with its village community feel and low tech approach to life. The regatta was organised around a course whose turning buoys were rocks and small islands……a little local knowledge allows boats to almost touch the rocks!

The Sisters. One of the turning marks, with Stamen in the foreground.

The Sisters. One of the turning marks, with Stamen in the foreground.

The Friday race was a two hander around the island and started in biblical style with a bolt of lightning and thunder and a curtain of rain that made it impossible to see any of the boats.

Luckily we weren’t involved until Sunny Saturday……..we turned up on the day and sailed on Captain Frank’s boat ‘Samahdi’. A good time was had by all and we came 5th out of 10, once the handicap system was applied. The crew were Frank (Capt), Dave (First Mate), Emma, Stamen, Marcus and Me.

Under way and in with a chance!

Under way and in with a chance!

Saturday night saw the Samahdi Crew entertaining the drinkers and diners at The Slipway with piano, recorder, bongos, egg shaker and voices. Another great evening.

There were no races for cruisers on Sunday, but the local workboats had their races, so Stamen and Durita, Dave and Emma and Marcus and I borrowed ‘Scrappy’ from the Flying Buzzard and set sail around the headland towards Hillsborough to watch the races.

All aboard for the skylark!

All aboard for the skylark!

Forget the Famous Five and Secret Seven…….we were the Silly Six. We set of with lashing and lashings of cold beer and sailed on a starboard tack making good speed, but when we looked under the sail we saw it wasn’t in the right direction!! So we buttied up the dinghy we were towing and used the motor to get to shore and to the beach bar and the chicken and chips that were luring us in.

Crossing the workboats' race on the way to lunch.

Crossing the workboats’ race on the way to lunch.

On the way we passed right through the racing fleet, so we did get to see the race after all!!

Sunday Lunch........

Sunday Lunch……..Marcus, Dave, Stamen, Emma and Durita.

.......the view from our table. Can it get any better?

…….the view from our table. Can it get any better?

On Monday we had our second race and had a flying start! We rounded the first and second marks in first place!!

Leaving all in our wake.....

Leaving all in our wake…..until they all overtook us to windward.

Needless to say we dropped back through the fleet as we beat up the windward legs, but we managed to come in 4th after our handicap was applied, which meant we came just outside the prizes in 4th place overall for the weekend.

Captain Frank narrowly missing a prize:(

Captain Frank narrowly missing a prize:(

With the engine behaving itself, we were off back down to St George’s for Carnival weekend. I’m sure we’ll make the trip back up here during the summer. It is truly delightful.

I have now been back on the boat for four and a half weeks and have settled back into life onboard. It took me some days before my body clock caught up with Caribbean time and my body acclimatised to the heat!
I had a wonderful time back in Blighty and over in Ireland, while Marcus spent almost the entire time maintaining and repairing the engine and hot water system. I felt quite guilty leaving him with it all to do……..for a short time!!
We had a fantastic family gathering at my sister’s place in west Cork to celebrate my Mum’s 96th birthday.

My 96 years young Mum enjoying her day.

My 96 years young Mum enjoying her day.

The Birthday Spread in the garden.

The Birthday Spread in the garden.

Everyone gathered for the feast and celebrations went on until midnight, singing and chatting around the fire pit.

Round the fire pit .

Round the fire pit .

The weather was kind to us and Liney and Jackie managed to put 15 or so of us up overnight, so the party went on into Sunday!

This is where I slept!

This is where I slept!

The view from the garden. Look up Airbnb Dunmanway and you too could stay here!!

The view from the garden. Look up Airbnb Dunmanway and you too could stay here!!

Spending time with family when you live so far away is very precious. Being together with my two sisters and Mummy was a time to treasure.

All together at The Three Sisters cafe.

All together at The Three Sisters cafe.

My two truly terrific sisters. xx

My two truly terrific sisters. xx

After spending a week with Liney at Shiplake, we went to stay with Libby in Passage East and took part in her Best Foot Forward dance class for the over 60s and helped out with the Traces end of ‘term’ party. The work she does with dance is totally inspiring and the Traces Ensemble embody the enrichment that dance can bring to lives.

My  wonderful sister, Libby at the party.

My wonderful sister, Libby at the party.

Traces enjoying an impromptu conga.

Traces enjoying an impromptu conga.

Our daughter, Jenni, is over from Columbia, working in London at the moment and I got to see her for the first time in 18 months and we spent a weekend together, meeting up at Keith’s on Friday night and then spending two relaxing days with Carlos and Maureen

Keith's birthday Barbecue......just like old times.

Keith’s birthday Barbecue……just like old times.

Relaxing in the hot tub at the Persiva's.

Relaxing in the hot tub at the Persiva’s.

I also managed a trip to Birmingham to spend a couple of days with Dan and Becca and got to see Becca dance……..what a delight. It’s good to know I can still be useful…..I helped load two car loads of sound equipment in and out of the Yaris!
It was great to spend a little time with both of our lovely children. I do miss them……thank goodness for Skype!!

Dan and Jenni at Shiplake. xx

Dan and Jenni at Shiplake. xx

I managed to squeeze in a quick visit with Betty and Tracy, a stop over with Nigel and Bridget and lunch with Russell before my time was up and I was Grenada bound. I had a wonderful time and it was lovely to catch up with everyone. Marcus met me at the airport and it was good to be back together again. Five weeks is a long time!!

Are you sitting comfortably? …..

Then I’ll begin

Sat.16th
After all the activity on Friday we opted for a lazy day on 11 mile beach. It truly is the epitome of a Caribbean beach…….mile after mile of prestine white sand lapped by pure turquoise sea, backed by the occasional palm tree.

11 mile beach.........probably the best beach in the Caribbean!

11 mile beach………probably the best beach in the Caribbean!

No dragging the dinghy today…..too much exercise yesterday! We strolled along beach combing until we came to the one and only beach bar bar.

Robinson Crusoe and man Friday aka Nigel and Marcus wandering along 11Mile Beach.

Robinson Crusoe and man Friday aka Nigel and Marcus wandering along 11Mile Beach.

The Shell Seekers!

The Shell Seekers!

Sun.17th
A spot more sailing,as we moved round to Coco point. This is a totally exclusive hideaway for the rich and famous. The resort charges $1,500 and we anchored in the same place for free! I went snorkelling to see if I could find any of the turtles we saw as we entered the bay. Just my luck….. Nigel and Bridget went to the beach saw a wray and a big fish through the crystal clear water, just infront of them in the shallows!

Mon.18th
We set off back to Antigua and had a great beam reach all the way down to Nonsuch Bay, on the eastern side of the island. The approach to the bay was very tricky from the north and looking at what appeared to be an unbroken reef ahead of us, we decided to sail on to south entrance.

After a quick look at avilable anchorages, we decided to spend the night in a sheltered mangrove bay, over looked by yet more rich people’s holiday apartments.

It’s sad that all there seems to be are exclusive resorts. There are no local communities or fishing villages so there was nothing to visit.
With the barbecue on the go, the only entertainment was us…..entertainment for the holiday homes!

The Chef de Barbecue.

The Chef de Barbecue.

Tues.19th
With nothing to keep us in Nonsuch Bay, we upped anchor and sailed ‘back home’ to English Harbour……..

The Pillars of Hercules at the entrance to English Harbour.

The Pillars of Hercules at the entrance to English Harbour.

We really did feel at home when we went for lunch at Copper and Lumber Store and the waitress remembered us. We had a good vantage

point for some serious ‘people watching’. Two chilled guys were setting up the wooden trestle supports for the fishing tournament stage. At one point all 20 or so of the trestles collapsed like dominoes and they just slowly picked them up and started again. No problem……’Pani pwoblem’

Weds.20th
Another lazy beach day attempting to remedy Bridget’s ‘panda eyes’ with a spot of sunbathing! I snorkelled over to a wreck near the beach and tried using my new camera.

The wreck.......a bit murky!

The wreck…….a bit murky!

The beautiful, but destructive Lion Fish.

The beautiful, but destructive Lion Fish.

My best shot to date!!

My best shot to date!!

At the moment I am having trouble seeing the display. I wear my contact lenses under my mask, but I need my reading glasses on top to see close to and I clearly can’t use them under water!!

My next solution is to try two different strength lenses. It may make me feel abit woozy, but at least I’ll be able to see what’s on the screen!

In the evening we took a stroll along to Falmouth Harbour and had dinner at Trapas……….the place we were going to eat at on my birthday!

After dinner we were sitting watching the world go by when Nigel and Bridget spotted some people struggling with two very large prices of wood, loading them into their dinghy. Marcus’ attention was aroused and, low and behold, it was Mike and Jules from Flying Buzzard. Needless to say they joined us and we did a lot of catching up over a few moire be vies!.

Thurs.21st
Nigel and Bridget’s last full day.

We moved back into Nelson’s Dockyard to make life easier for getting ashore and caught up with wifi and washing. We had a late breakfast at Copper and Lumber Store, after which, unfortunately, Nigel had a touch of ‘Antiguan Tummy’, so he and Bridget decided to stay aboard, rather than chance a sail around Falmouth Harbour in the Buzzard’s old life boat!

We met Mike and Jules at Sculduggery’s and they took us out to The Buzzard to pick up ‘Scrappy’ for a sail around the harbour.

Flying Buzzard in the background with Marcus at the helm of 'Scrappy' and Rusty ready to trim the sails.

Flying Buzzard in the background with Marcus at the helm of ‘Scrappy’ and Rusty ready to trim the sails.

Scrappy is appropriately named…….she was recused from the hard in Carriacou, where she was filled with mud and rubble and was being used to secure two washing line posts at a friends house! The mast is cobbled together from two salvaged masts, the mainsail and jib are made from one larger red sail with the top cut off for the jib and the main cut as a gaff sail, the gaff pole is an old scaffold type pole and the canoe end stern has been cut away and a transom fibreglassed in to take the rudder. In its day, Scrappy was a sailing life boat from a ship, designed to hold 12 men, but today it took 5 of us happily around the harbour.

It felt very much like ‘The Famous Five’. We had Rusty the dog, the four of us and instead of ‘lashings and lashings of ginger beer’ we had a cool box with lashings of real beer!!

Back on board the Buzzard for the evening.

On the top deck relaxing.

On the top deck relaxing.

Welders gloves doubling as oven gloves!

Welders gloves doubling as oven gloves!

Sadly Nigel and Bridget stayed behind recovering from whatever it was Nigel ate!

Fri. 22nd
Nigel and Bridget’s last day. Mike met us again and took us all out to ‘The Buzzard’, so Nigel and Bridget didn’t miss the chance of seeing this extraordinary part of our maritime heritage!

The Buzzard delivering palm trees for a friend.

The Buzzard delivering palm trees for a friend.

The funnel atrium with its underwater murals.

The funnel atrium with its underwater murals.

Ditto.

Ditto.

The compass binnacle aquarium.

The compass binnacle aquarium.

One of the guest cabins.

One of the guest cabins.

'Rain Dancer'  cabin.

‘Rain Dancer’ cabin.

The Mermaid cabin.

The Mermaid cabin.

After the full tour, we all got in Scrappy and I helmed all the way back to the dock (with hardly a word of advice from my captain!!!)

Here’s a blog address for anyone interested in seeing more and finding out just how much enthusiasm, love and hard work has gone into realising Jules’ and Mike’s dream :-

flyingbuzzard.com

Back to reality- we hired a car for three days and drove Bridget and Nigel to the airport.

'Their bags are packed, they're ready to go....'

‘Their bags are packed, they’re ready to go….’

'They're leaving on a jet plane. Don't know when they'll be back again'  .........(The New Seekers circa1970's)

‘They’re leaving on a jet plane. Don’t know when they’ll be back again’ ………(The New Seekers circa1970’s)

It was sad to see them go. We have really enjoyed their company and it’s been lovely for the brothers to spend time together and for me to have some girly chats!

Sat.23rd
Hire car….must use it!

We went to Dow Interpretation centre and on to the Block House lookout post. This is probably the most sophisticated tourist attraction we have seen in the Caribbean. We sat in a theatre on swivel stools and turned as the tableaux and TV screens lit up showing the history of Antigua from the Arawaks, through the British colonial era to the present day.
On to St John’s for phone top up via east coast. Sea weed is a major problem. Truck loads are being dumped from the St Jame’s posh resort onto the road side for 200 metres. The stench is awful and guests are rightly going elsewhere to eat.
The seaweed has apparently only become a problem in the last three years, but this year is the worst. We can’t help but think that there must be money to be made if the weed could be harvested and turned into fertiliser, but so far no entrepreneur has arrived on a white charger.
Back at Nelson’s Dockyard where we met up with Jules, Mike, Angie, Steve, Carol and Craig for the fishing weigh in. The biggest fish landed was a blue marlin that weighed 588lbs. It’s barbaric that such a majestic creature killed for the sport of humans.

Weighing the biggest catch.....a 588lb Blue Marlin:(

Weighing the biggest catch…..a 588lb Blue Marlin:(

All the fish was taken along to the filleters, who cut up to be sold on the doc………at least all profits went to charity.

Cutting up the catch.

Cutting up the catch.

Marcus queued for an hour to get fish for supper.

Queuing for a share of the catch......tonight's dinner.

Queuing for a share of the catch……tonight’s dinner.

Back on the boat we cooked rice and barbecued our King Fish that had given itself up for our dinner and took it over to the picnic table behind us on the dock.

Dinner is served.

Dinner is served.

Goodnight Mike xx

Goodnight Mike xx

Another fantastic evening with friends.

The rest of Antigua in brief!……..

Sun
Watched the final catches brought in and weighed with Colin and Lou. Met Mick, who was drummer with The Kinks for 20 years.

Mon
Moved boat out to anchor then drove to meet Colin and Lou at a beach bar next to Sandals beach. Met one of their daughters, Elaine, and her x James and two grand children. Roast pork with crackling…what a treat! Marcus and Colin played snooker. Stayed the night.

Tues
Came back from Lou and Colin’s via huge supermarket with Waitrose branded stuff.
Jules’ birthday. Went for meal that rivalled my birthday meal disasters! We waited an hour and a half for starters that were still not being prepared when we left! Went for pizzas instead.
Weds
We were going to leave, but the fridges were not working. The pump needed hitting…a sure sign some maintenance was needed! Cleaned the brushes and it worked, but they’re very worn. Swapped the old pump in as temporary replacement and all’s well.

Thurs
Left English Harbour at 2230 for night sail to Deshais

At anchor in Deshais, Guadaloupe.

At anchor in Deshais, Guadaloupe.

Fri
Left Deshais at 0930 bound for Les Saintes.