Archive for: ‘January 2012’

Pirates of the Caribbean II – Dominica

January 31, 2012 Posted by Deb

A good portion of the movie was filmed here and we need to see it again to match up where we’ve been. We signed up with Martin for the Indian River extended version and a full day tour of the island. The tourist stuff anyone can do and we’ll include a few shots.

Things got interesting when we met some hikers at the Sunday night beach party. Hunter and Devi from Arctic Tern are retired Alaskans who have heard of some of our friends and relatives from up there.They worked in the National Park system and are not only some of the strongest hikers we’ve met but their jungle knowledge makes the trip like walking through a giant fruit salad. She is a significant contributor to several publications including the Caribbean Compass. They are hiking and travelling with John and Kathy from Oceana. Good company.

Some of the shots below are from our first hike with them, the recently improved Waitukubuli trail across the northern part of Dominica. It was very cool and our shots don’t do it justice but that’s kind of always true. We dropped off the trail to an abandoned village that Arctic Tern had discovered by accident and Hunter had the village trees raining grapefruit and a couple of tangerines in no time. The racks of bananas were a bit green so we passed on those. Our total public transportation bill for 2 people there and back was 30 ec. ($12 US) and we were gone six hours door to door with about three and a half hours hiking time.

Where are we now?

January 28, 2012 Posted by Deb

Prince Rupert Bay, Portsmouth Town Anchorage, Dominica


Weather Window

January 25, 2012 Posted by Deb

We were scheduled for some alternator work on Jan. 25. The group of people we hung with in St. Maarten just assumed we’d be there a long time. We looked at Chris Parker weather and the WindGuru and it looked too good to be true. In particular the forecast showed that the only time in two weeks we’d get a strong north component to the wind would start morning of the 24th. We changed our plans, did last minute provisioning on the 23rd, did a quick goodbye party at Lagoonies, found out our nav lights didn’t work that night, woke up Tuesday a.m., sanded all the terminals, raised the main, pulled up the hook, and waved goodbye to St. Maarten.

The forecast proved to be correct this time and we sailed off on an angle that had the potential of taking Montserrat to starboard if we could hold it. All day and into the late afternoon we were gaining bearing on a close reach at about 8 to 9 knots in 16 gusting 20 with swells about 7 feet and wind driven chop about 3-4 feet.

Sailing fast video:

Bottom line, we more than made the turn at Montserrat after dark and were off Guadeloupe by 2:00 a.m. Guadeloupe turned out to be a giant wind break and we came to a complete stop toward the southern tip. We sat around with another boat waiting for the trades to kick in and finally fired up the diesels, rolled the headsail, and were about 3 feet into dropping the main and heading into Isle des Saintes when the trades kicked in like an on/off switch and went from zero to 23 in a matter of seconds. Up went the main, out came the headsail, the engines shut down, and we were in Dominica by noon.

What a 16-year-old Can Do

January 22, 2012 Posted by Deb

Yesterday afternoon as we sat in the cockpit working on a couple of boat projects, Laura Dekker, a 16-year-old, finished her circumnavigation of the world right in front of our boat. So, I did a little research on the girl and she is pretty amazing.

She was born in New Zealand when her parents (from Holland) were sailing. So, she’s been on sailboats her whole life. She just wanted to go farther and farther and test the waters. How she is not sure if she can ever go back to her home country, Holland. According to her blog,

…from the moment my plans became public, Youth Care and other government organizations tried to stop me. During the first court case, in August 2009, (even before Youth Care had ever seen me, or had spoken to me…), they asked the Judge to take me away from my father and to lock me up in a secure clinic! By doing this they tried to stop me from sailing. 

She’s been battling the social system in her country ever since. That’s just amazing to me. Anyway, it was kind of nice to see a part of history yesterday.


Columbier, St. Barth’s

January 16, 2012 Posted by Deb

A welcome relief from Gustavia. We grabbed a mooring in 20-25 knots of wind and we were better than some at it but it was still a chore. These are heavy duty moorings and a bit much for a small boat hook. We had so much fun doing it that we fired up and moved to another closer in when the charter boats left. Actually, the one we picked was badly chaffed and we know why. We’re in a quiet anchorage with slightly more cats than mono-hulls and the cats are running a bow line from one hull, through the mooring, to the other hull. That bow line acts like a saw on the mooring as the boat swings around. Pisses me off a bit but I haven’t said anything.

The hike from Columbier to Flamandes beach is great for photo ops and we took a few. The beach itself is on the windward side and is a getaway for the beautiful people. We stopped at a little beach bar off a hotel for a Coke and a Ting. I remember my first $5 hamburger (Aspen, CO) and my first $10 hot dog (Keystone, CO). I also remember $0.14 per gallon for diesel and gas in VZ and $4.50 per case for beer. I just wrote about a $3.50 Coke a few days ago. Deb smoked that with a $13 orange juice and pastry when all she wanted was wifi. Well, add to the list over $20 for a Coke and a Ting in Anse de Flamandes. I won’t forget that Coke.

A Birthday

January 10, 2012 Posted by Deb

Basseterre, St. Kitts was a nice town and the island access from the marina was great but we couldn’t bring in my birthday sitting in a marina. We cleared out with a post dated stamp (customs was being nice but asked me to keep it “on the low” and I’m pretty sure that includes posting it on a blog), did some final shopping, and crawled around through the boat to make sure it was ready. We cast off in a crosswind with only two people and no dock help and headed for Whitehouse Bay, a small little bay about 5 miles down the coast. It was supposed to be a secluded, little used anchorage but there were four charter cats and seven or eight monohulls when we got there. We dropped our hook in 22 feet, kicked back, and watched all the charter boats and half of the monohulls pull anchor and leave. I was wondering if someone painted Smallpox Bob on our hull. We did the snorkel and hike routine. The snorkeling was a nice workout but only fair and the hike was interesting as we bushwhacked through the Christophe Harbor Development. That is a story all by itself.

Deb had reservations at The Beach House, the best restaurant on the island. They were going to send a van to Whitehouse Bay at 5:30 to pick us up and return us when we were done. We got out the good clothes, dinked in, and the van never showed. We flagged down a cab in the middle of nowhere and made it to the Beach House. Their van was sitting right in front, busy not picking us up. Nice place, best food we’ve had in awhile and great location except that it was on the windy Atlantic side. We held up two giant glasses of Merlot and toasted another year. The glasses were big; the Merlot was in the bottom inch.

We’re travelling alone now as we did on occasion 17 years ago but more often than not, in a two to ten boat fleet. That was a nice floating party and it would have been nice to have those folks sitting around that table. They know who they are and some are trying to get back out here again. We got sad for a moment then the wine kicked in.

Christophe Harbour

I’m a hypocrite in that I condemn what we’re doing to the planet but I’ve been known to make a reservation when they’re done pouring concrete. Christophe Harbour is a ten-plus-year project to convert a salt pond into a mega-yacht complex with a golf course and associated real estate development. They are behind schedule but the machines have moved in to turn inches deep water into slips big and deep enough for mega yachts. I attached a shot, their first reservations are soon and I think it will be another year or three.

Three Fifty for a Coke

St. Barths was a nice sail. We had wind at 60 degrees so the gods are definitely against us (we had 140 to 170 on the way south). We snuck around through the Narrows between St. Kitts and Nevis to get a decent angle and close reached at 7 to 8.2 knots all the way to within a few hundred yards of where we dropped the hook. The place was packed with anchored boats on top of moored boats and many with fenders up full time. We found a small slot and dropped every bit of chain we own in 40 feet. What a zoo. St. Barths is supposed to be the beautiful people hot spot and the shops reflect that. We stopped by a small café to rehydrate and racked up $7 US for a Coke and a Ting. Lemme outta here.

A New Year

January 5, 2012 Posted by Deb

We spent New Year’s Eve on Compass Rose whose captain hails from Perry, Iowa. Tom and Gail are sailing with their two daughters and a dog and Tom is the former Iowan. The rest of the family is solid California from Sausalito. Four or five fireworks displays triggered at midnight and their dog went into major fear mode.

We cleared out of St. Martin behind two megayachts, each with a stack of passports of around 50 for passengers and it looked like about 20 or more for crew. The captains took over every horizontal space in immigration with piles of paper and had cell phone conversations going while dealing with customs. A few of the beautiful people came along as well for, I believe, tight plane connections and it looked like it had been a long time since they had actually waited in a line. Seemed like a high pressure job for the captain. The Dutch immigration folks love making these folks wait and the story is that Paul Allen will never come to St. Martin again because of an immigration experience.

We got our weather and took off for St. Kitts, about 50 miles away. It was a great sailing day with the Christmas winds moderated and the swells down to 8 feet. Only problem was that the wind went way south on us and we couldn’t make St. Kitts.

I expected a shift that never came and we ended up in Statia (Sint Eustatius). Customs and Immigration ate about a third of our time on the island but we did a quick hike and ate at a nice looking place with terrible food. It was Chicken Day and all that was left was some mushy stewed stuff; the rotis on the menu were finished.

From Deb: On our little hike, we climbed a cliff to an historic cobblestone village from the 1700’s. I stopped in a little shop to get some water and found Grandpa Cookies. Whenever I visited my grandpa, he would pull out his little baggie (from a recycled bread wrap) full of cookies he made, one at a time, holding a waffle iron on a stick over his gas stove. The cookies in Statia are called Krokante wafels met vanillesmak (crispy waffles with vanilla). Grandpa, who always claimed to be French, with VanderEcken being his last name, made beautiful Dutch cookies. hmmmm.

Statia isn’t really geared up for tourists. They had to call immigration and roust them out to open their office and the restaurant that we had recommended to us just decided to close that day. We also had to wing it for a dinghy dock. We got a kick out of the port security guard. There was a 40 foot gate across the road that was wide open and he kept running out and insisting that we walk through a little security gate on the wrong side of the road. He waved his hands and said “This is for trucks and cars” and pointed at his little gate. Looks like Statia has a couple of dive shops that seemed busy. We grabbed a mooring ball, Deb dove it to check it out, and left the next morning for St. Kitts.

We hoped for a better wind angle on the fifth, all forecasts were for east but got out there and found winds at 140 to 185. We were supposed to be hard on the wind on a port tack and we were motorsailing on a starboard tack. We could either spend the day sailing off into the Caribbean and tacking back or stick with the diesels. Seventeen years ago I would have sailed, today we motored.

St. Kitts has possibly the most pleasant immigration, customs, and marina staff we have ever encountered. The worst remains Key West, FL. in 1996 and that record will never fall. We put Neytiri in the marina because the area is not good for anchoring or dinking. We got rough docking instructions from the Zante Marine port captain and were to get details as we came in. When we came in, he informed us that we would be Med tying to a single wood piling on port. Deb lassoed the piling as we backed in and between the wind and some tank driving with the diesels we got hooked on three corners only. Then it was off to more highly recommended bad food but I have a feeling we’ll get lucky with the food later on. The expectations for this island are a hike to the 4,000 foot volcano, diving, and a train ride. That’s right, the only working train in the Caribbean.