Archive for: ‘February 2012’

The Bequia Blast

February 27, 2012 Posted by Deb

We knew that Friday (2/24) and maybe Saturday would be the last good sailing days before both the wind and seas built significantly so we turned the boat from a condo into a boat and headed South at about 5:30 a.m. We gave ourselves plenty of time to cover the 66 miles because the mountains on both St. Lucia and St. Vincent suck the life out of the trade winds and I’m kind of anal about sailing when I’m sailing and not firing up the diesels. We had a gorgeous sail off the wind all the way and passed several monohulls. When we sailed these islands 17 years ago, it was rare to see another boat other than those we were sailing with. This corridor was a traffic jam, requiring course changes six or seven times for other sailboats.

As we rounded St. Vincent at the blazing speed of about 1.3 knots (I kept seeing wind just up ahead … kind of like water in the dessert), we lost power to the port side of the boat including autohelm, navigation, refrigeration, winches, and the windlass. Not a big deal to old monohull sailors who either never had that stuff or were used to it being broken a lot of the time. We did have Deb’s Xoom with the Navionics application and charts and I am a convert. We have paper charts and at least five or six backup GPS capable devices but that little app is our preferred navigation device. The user interface is great, you can use it anywhere on the boat, and it appears to be very accurate.

We remembered Bequia as having bad holding but it made up for it by being deep. We weren’t disappointed. We knew we’d only get one shot at dropping the hook unless we wanted to crank up 150 feet of chain by hand so we were very careful and went ahead and blew the anchor job anyway. Deb tried to crank up the chain and gave up after a few feet. Plan B was to bounce the anchor along the bottom and hope to catch something (and get away from a monohull we were too close to). We caught something that seemed good enough but we were very close to another boat. Deb patrolled the area with our dink to keep me from getting run over while I dove the hook. It looked OK but not great and our options were about zero so we called it a day. I figured we’d be OK unless the wind kicked up. We were anchored near an area called the Bequia Blast for the way the hills funnel the wind. The Bequia Blast hit just after dark with gusts over 30 knots and we did anchor watches all night long with Deb taken the ugly midnight to 3:00 a.m. shift. There’s an anchor watch app for that on the Xoom but we hadn’t downloaded it and we don’t know if we would have trusted it anyway.

On Saturday (2/25) we were refreshed with all of a handful of hours of sleep in the last 48 hours and all we had to get done for the day was to clear in, find an electrician, pull the hook, and find another place for the boat. Missions accomplished by noon thanks to Daffodil Marine, their electrician, and their moorings. We’re expecting Chris Doyle to show up any minute if he isn’t here already and Prince Edward had been shadowing us as well. We got to see the Prince Edward fanfare all over again as the British warship arrived. What it means for us is that we can’t use the main dinghy dock and we’re probably walking around town underdressed.

Spent Sunday (2/26) hiking to Peggy’s Rock, high point of the island with an incredible view of Admiralty Bay.

Hike to Peggy’s Rock

Boat Boys Have Changed

February 25, 2012 Posted by Deb

One thing I’m noticing as a difference between 15 years ago and now is that the Caribbean seems much more sophisticated. No more boat boys from Waterworld. In St. Lucia I really enjoyed having fresh fruit and vegetables brought to my boat everyday and knew I would miss that when we moved south. But today, in Bequia, guess who came by offering his wares — the bread boat with hot fresh croissants. Very nice!

One Wire? What!!?

February 22, 2012 Posted by Deb

Yesterday was a down day for several boats. Arnamentia, a UK based Swan that took second in their division coming across the Atlantic in this year’s ARC, cancelled out of drinks on board Neytiri because everything they’ve tried to fix cascaded into more problems and John was planning to spend the evening head down working on his fresh water pump. DreamMaker lost their refrigeration and we had another (our backup) solar regulator start to error out. For us it meant that all of our sources of electricity were now being challenged. We cheered ourselves up with a serendipity stop on Allicat that turned into a food event with grilled lamb, great rum, and wine. Ken was stiff and sore from day two of a back injury and he got a chance to experiment with painkillers and alcohol instead of heading off to an early sack.

We pulled into the Rodney Bay Marina and picked up our shower room code (hot showers) and wifi password. We called MarineTek operated by Egbert Charles and confirmed our appointment for the following day at 10:00 a.m. Shawn showed up right at the Caribbean 10:00 a.m. which is just after 11:00 a.m. He walked on the boat, took a few voltage readings, looked at the alternator and pulled one wire off. We fired it up and it worked fine. We ran a few tests and he was off the boat in 45 minutes. The bill was well into their minimum charge range so that kind of sucked. So … let’s see … I wait here a week for my appointment, check into the marina, and pay a fairly hefty sum for one wire!!! Oh, the solar panel regulator cured itself with a reboot I did last night so we’re looking at weather again to move on down the line.

The bonus is that the marina will refund the days we’re not going to be here. Deb also took the dink to the shop and, as she was leaving, they told her they could turn the dink job by tomorrow a.m. so we get a badly needed dink rehab by tomorrow as well.

Rodney Bay Marina, Waiting for a Little Fix-Up

St. Lucia – Hikes, Zips and Mountain Dew

February 19, 2012 Posted by Deb

We have a few days before we go into the marina for boat work and are using those days to do tourist stuff. We covered Pigeon Island, Cas-en-bas, and the Rainforest zip lines in three days; but the important news is that Deb found Mountain Dew on the island. We put the port hull down about 2 inches coming out of St. Martin loaded with Dew and have now balanced the boat up a bit with a case or three on starboard.

The zip lines of St. Lucia are OK but not of the caliber of Costa Rica. The harnesses will turn you into a falsetto if you are not careful. The 40 foot drop is good.

Old Fort Lookout

Top of Pigeon Island - Checking out Neytiri in the Anchorage

Down on the Beach - Pigeon Island

Hike to Cas-en-bas

Cas-en-bas Overlook

Group for Zip Line Tour

Sean Checking Chuck's Buckles

Chuck Showing Off

Love the Hairnets They Made Us Wear

Update to the Four Questions

February 18, 2012 Posted by Deb

We travelled back to the US for the winter holiday every year during our first outing on Sanity seventeen years ago.  It was difficult to explain the cruising lifestyle others because their image of a cruising lifestyle was shaped by movies and television. In 1996 we returned to land full time and took up careers, bought houses, cars, and kept the odd plant alive.  We did the occasional “Voyage of Sanity” presentation for a church or school and found a similar pattern to the questions. I call it Storms, Bad Guys, How Could You Afford It, and What Did You Do All Day Long … not in any particular order.  Spending any time breaking the image just caused eyes to glaze over.

So, here is my attempt to answer the Four Questions at this stage of the Neytiri saga.

Storms

Nothing to report but a maximum of 30 knots of wind and maximum seas about 12 feet though our last run to St. Lucia had a set of three waves that was truly impressive. They were fairly harmless because the interval was equally big. They were big enough that the wind dropped off in the trough.

Bad Guys

Nothing resembling bad guys yet … well the Rastas sometimes look at us like we’re fresh meat. In fact, the security is much improved from seventeen years ago, particularly boat boys. We are headed into more difficult islands shortly. Good friends were using their IPADs at a hot spot restaurant in Guadeloupe and a guy ran up and grabbed them and ran/drove off. They reported it with a license plate and nothing resulted. Never would have thought of that but we now hang onto our stuff tighter when we’re clicking away. There are more nasty stories about our next stop, Bequia, but they were “friend of a friend” stories and never made it to the official news. We’ll see.

Bucks?

We switched from a boat modification to a cruising budget on January 1, 2012 and it is too soon to say whether our planning (speculation) was anywhere near accurate. Catamarans are large black holes that you can pour money into, more so than monohulls, and inflation has run rampant in the years we were absent from the Caribbean, but we’re holding our own.  It looks like this time out will be slightly more than twice as expensive as last time.  We have not yet found an inexpensive hideout … too bad about Venezuela.

What Do You Do All Day

Today we attempted to get watermaker cleaning chemicals, lined up a berth at the marina in preparation for alternator repairs, found out there are two racquetball courts on the island, made 35 gallons of water, hiked Pigeon Island and the fort there, ate at the famous Jamb de Bois and returned to the boat late in the afternoon and worked on hatches. It’s now 9:00, Deb’s reading and I’m back on the internet.

Yesterday we lined up contractors, I worked out at the local gym for 3 hours and Deb provisioned (we scored Mountain Dew). Deb ran into one of the women from the Bay Garden Beach Resort Ladies Luncheon that she had attended two days ago. She was with Chris Doyle and Deb got introduced. We cleaned up for a dinner invitation on Allicat with Parrot Tales, Simon, and his son Garret. We had wine from Uruguay, Chile, and other countries lost in a haze. We finished at around 11:00 with a round or two of Kentucky Bourbon. Once back on the boat, Deb crashed and I did internet research until about 3:45 a.m.

Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

February 12, 2012 Posted by Deb

Rodney Bay ranks right up there with St. Martin as “most changed.” Read the ship log entry from 1995 and you can see why we had no plans to ever come here again. We came here because the Doyle guide painted a nice picture, we needed repairs and were tired of trying to do it in French, and it is an easy way to make it down the islands in little short hops. Chris Doyle walked right by us again today as he did a month or so ago in Lagoonies on St. Martin. We’re apparently on the same route and schedule. We leave famous people alone with maybe a polite “hi” and really dislike seeing the swarming behavior they have to put up with.

Back to the point, Rodney Bay is a hub now with a very fancy marina and an impressive yacht services community. The outside bay where we’re anchored has been cleaned up and developed not unattractively. We’re just settling in and ran into three boats already from Dominica … Allicat, Parrot Tales, and Arnementia. There are restaurants and free wifi everywhere and a nice lawn with folks sitting under palm trees clicking away on their laptops. Our repair work inquiries have us queuing up in about 12 days and we don’t think we’ll be here that long. We may continue to limp down island under manual alternator control. Had a nice $15 hamburger for lunch today.

Flashback to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia: 5/24/1995

Had a major run in with the local hustlers on shore and got into a shouting match. We thought we could save a bundle by going to the town rather than the marina for our laundry. We found out real quick that going to town was a battle through tiers of Rasta hustlers. I fought off three while guarding the dink in a verbal battle that lasted for about 20 minutes. They wanted money for using what they called their little portion of the causeway. In other words, they wanted to charge me for hanging onto a rock. Deb had her own set of problems getting to the laundry lady. We decided to hike in from the main road the next day to pick it up since the Rasta gang said, “Good luck trying to get your laundry” along with several dozen other insults. Nice intro to Rodney Bay.

Martinique

February 8, 2012 Posted by Deb

We’re both surprised that we’re here. It was touch and go whether we were going to take a quick run 220 miles back to St. Martin for orphaned mail, supplies, and repairs.

The new alternator on the port engine has a habit of running the batteries up to 15 volts and we can’t just disconnect it all the time because we need the extra juice for the windlass, the autohelm on cloudy days, the winches, and the port side starter battery. So, if we motor the final five miles to Fort du France (which we did), we have to stop the engine and pull the sense wires off the alternator. If we foul the anchor on a 100 lb piece of dead coral (which we did) and have to pull the hook back up, we have to stop the engine and reconnect the alternator or crank it out of the water with a winch handle (which we did). We hooked that giant piece of coral just as we were about to declare the trip from Dominica over and pat ourselves on the back for a successful but very rough crossing.  A nice squall was coming in with high wind, we had ferries, buoys, and anchored boats everywhere, there was a significant current, and we had to drop the dink, get to the bow, and hammer the coral into submission or get a trip line to work. The trip line worked and we got a good hook on our second attempt.From Deb: Shopping malls here are amazing. Been a long time since I’ve been in one. I got on a mini bus and headed across town on freeways with multiple exits. Got out at the right spot despite no one speaking English and my French not up to par. But, no where to find a clock. We don’t have a clock for our boat and you’d think that would be an easy thing to find. I’ve looked on every island and the ones I buy don’t cost much but they don’t seem to last more than five minutes. On the other hand, this is a great place to stock up on Merlot and good French cheese!!

Rosseau: Dominica

February 6, 2012 Posted by Deb

As we were preparing the boat to move south, Martin, our friend in Portsmouth, stopped the boat to drop off a bouquet from the jungle. 

Rosseau was a bit of a weird feeling after being in Portsmouth for close to two weeks. We tucked into Rosseau because the island of Dominica stole our wind and our ETA in Martinique moved to after dark. Most would have fired up the diesels to clear the island but we played the gusts and calms. Very frustrating. We discovered an alternative to Trafalgar Falls called Papillote. The previous day we talked the tour guide operators down to $120 US for four people on a five- stop tour but we passed. Instead, we grabbed a bus for $5 EC and got off just before Trafalgar Falls. The shots below were taken at Papillote and the tab for entrance, hot pool by the waterfall, and drinks was approximately $24 US.

From Deb: Checking our guidebook, we headed down the big street just off the cruiseship dock knowing there would be a bus somewhere along the route as we headed out of town. As we passed a crowded block with lots of limin’ people, one rasta man on the street looked at us and said, “Trafalgar? Here’s the bus.” We squeezed into the mini-van that already had about 18 people in it and bounced up the mountain dropping people off on the way. We were the last two on the bus when we saw PAPILLOTE painted on the side of a building high up on the mountain. We walked up the hill and stopped in a little guest house oasis for some passion fruit juice. The guy behind the desk told us to walk around the grounds and feel free to use any of the hot springs. It was a beautiful walk with hot springs flowing down a stream and through bamboo shoots along the way. At the bottom of the hill, there was a big cement pond full of hot mineral water perched under a fresh waterfall. Only one other couple was in the pond and they left shortly after we jumped. Beautiful!

Indian River the Hard Way

February 2, 2012 Posted by Deb

We planned a short hike starting at 8:30 from an access point that Martin told us about off the customs dock on Waitukubili Section 11. As we got in there and Arctic Tern linked up where we were to where they had been before, the short hike morphed into a loop (we love loops rather than up and back) and the hike was on. There were ridges, ravines, rivers, rain, vegetation and vertical.

Arctic Tern on a prior hike had arranged several days earlier to harvest a few grapefruits from a farm along the way. When we met the farmer, T Babe or Webster Booley, it turns out that it was his nephew that had given permission and the nephew had no authority or ownership interest in T Babe’s farm. T Babe made the point about his nephew in a strong but humorous way and was more than happy to let us grab some of his grapefruit.

We popped out at the upper part of the Indian River, cleaned off mud, walked into town, had a couple Kubulis, ate at the Ross University food court, hit the IGA, and were back on the boat by 3:30 with a two hour break before the going away party at Blue Bay.

Chaudiere Pool – Dominica

February 1, 2012 Posted by Deb

Great hike and swimming hole. I wasn’t going to post this because it is kind of humbling but I wouldn’t advise paddling blindly, on your back, and without much whitewater training near that waterfall. There is a lot of water coming through there, it drives deep, and the bubbles cause a significant loss of buoyancy. I wasn’t counting but I got sucked under a few times. Hunter from Arctic Tern, who is a Class 5 kayaker, in a fairly calm voice repeatedly told me to go down to grab the exit current. That’s hard to do when your lungs are screaming for air and panic is tightening up your muscles. Crawled out of there barely able to move and was “subdued” according to Devi on Arctic Tern for an hour or so. It doesn’t look like much in the pictures but it has a vortex that is stronger than I am.