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!!