We left Prickly Bay heading North on Sunday 13th January 2008, as planned, and stopped overnight at Carriacou and Canouan on our way to Bequia. For a change, we decided to anchor in Bequia’s Friendship Bay which was extremely rolly although we did discover a nice restaurant that we had not visited before – Moskito.
From here, it was off to the Blue Lagoon in St. Vincent to pick up more guests – this time it was Nellie (for his 2nd “holiday of a lifetime”) and Alan (Thoy). Unlike Dave, their flights were uneventful and they actually arrived in the Bar just before we did !!
We left St. Vincent, after a good night’s sleep, back down to Bequia where we once again witnessed Nellie’s ‘Jump Up’ at the Frangipani. We have to say that the service there was atrocious and we certainly won’t be rushing back. Then it was off to Union Island - We had a cracking sail down and saw a number of dolphins. Sadly, Alan wasn’t quite quick enough with his camera to capture their antics ! We decided to go back to the Bougainvilla for dinner and, would you believe it, we had the same 2 waitresses who had served Dave the lobster a month before. What really surprised us though was that they remembered him and sent him their love – he must have made some impression !!
We sailed off the following day, after breakfast at Lambi’s, to PSV and the next day started heading North again to Mayreau. By now, it was Sunday and Nellie fancied Sunday Lunch so Vicki cooked a Roast Chicken with all the trimmings. Both the boys were amazed by what could be produced from a yacht’s galley – a tad different from the “Boy’s Weekends” on Shokaku and Couilles de Chien…
We spent a lovely day exploring Mayreau walking up and down various hilly tracks so that Alan could take as many photos as possible of the views over both the Caribbean and the Atlantic. We ended with a meal at Dennis’ Hideaway (where they also remembered Dave) and then headed back down another hill to the anchorage. Unfortunately, the dinghy pontoon was subject to severe swells and, as Vicki got down into the dinghy, it moved a few yards and she went straight into the water. Alan was quick to the rescue and pulled her out immediately on the next bounce. So, there were 3 safely in the dinghy awaiting Nellie to arrive….. We had nicknamed him “the Gazelle” earlier in the week as he had managed to break a few things walking around the boat and this graceful element of his physique came to the fore when he, too, missed the dinghy and ended up in the water !! Luckily, the sea was very warm and no harm was done. Once we were all safely ensconced in the dinghy, we proceeded to have a water fight so all four of us ended up like drowned rats by the time we got home…
From Mayreau, we had to visit Mustique on our way to Bequia….
We stopped for a drink in the Firefly to say hello, went on an Island Tour (reminiscent of last year with PK) and had breakfast at Basil’s Bar (because it has to be done !!).
Then it was time to get the boys back to Bequia for their homeward Ferry. We spent our last evening at the Devil’s Table. This is a fantastic Restaurant right on the water’s edge in Admiralty Bay with a piratical theme. Our meals were superb and to top it off they were hosting the final rounds of the “Bequia Rocks” Music Competition so we were treated to some really good Bands competing for the title.
We had a brilliant holiday with the boys and were sad to see them go but at least our livers could now have time to recover…
After they left, we stayed in Bequia for a few days relaxing and drying out – we spent an entire week on the wagon !! Then it was time to return to Grenada as Vicki had a flight booked back to the UK for her Brother’s 50th Birthday. Also, it was time for Roger to complete a few jobs on the boat including fixing the electric windlass which had broken a few weeks earlier - we were stuck with either manually pulling up the anchor chain or ‘hotwiring’ the windlass motor which needed more than 2 people on board – not good when you sail 2-handed !!
She returned amazed to a fixed windlass, various other jobs finished and a new cockpit where Roger had re-varnished all the woodwork. El Vagabond is looking very smart again although we know it won’t last…
We sat in Prickly Bay waiting for Roger’s new Passport to arrive from Barbados. They rejected the application once as the photographs were a bit dodgy so we were hopeful that it wouldn't take too long to get here so that we could leave Grenada and get on our way North. Once it had arrived and we were getting ready to leave, big John Cooper on Durban Dancer returned from the UK. Needless to say, a Chess game was arranged almost as soon as he got off the plane and Roger is now arranging a return match on another Island so that he can try and beat him…
Our last evening in Prickly Bay was aboard “Imagine” owned by a couple of very nice Americans called Julie & Barry having Sundowners with their friends Brenda & Lloyd (Kismet) and Bruce (Molasses). No doubt, our paths will cross again in the future.
We eventually left Grenada on Saturday 1st March, a little later than intended, heading for Antigua. The plan was to complete leisurely day sails up the Islands taking about a week to complete the 300 odd mile trip. Like most of our plans, this went out the window by the Saturday afternoon as the wind was blowing at about 30 knots forcing us to sail away from Carriacou and, rather than motor into the wind, we decided to keep going and stop in St. Lucia the following day.
Later that evening, we both detected a faint burning smell that was becoming stronger. We both ran around the Boat armed with Fire Extinguishers looking for a fire and, just as we saw thick smoke beginning to escape the ‘Cockpit Electrical Panel’, we realised the smell had coincided with turning on the Compass light. The wires had somehow got loose when the cockpit was being varnished….. That little escapade over, we settled down to a lively night sail with the wind speed increasing to 35-40 knots still coming from the NE.
On our second day, the wind calmed down a little and, by now, we were deciding whether to stop at St. Lucia or carry on to Martinique. Our decision was made for us when we couldn’t start the engine to head into the wind. Without it, the tacks were going to be far too long to make it to either Island by dark so we kept going for another night. We were now heading for Dominica and rapidly ticking off all the Islands we were leaving behind !!
As always, just when things seemed to be going to plan, something else happens. In this case, the wind died and we were bobbing around going nowhere fast, our engine still wouldn’t start and, yes, the third thing did happen….. Vicki awoke to find Rog down below heading for the Stern Cabin when he was ‘on watch’. When asked “what was wrong?” the reply was a calm, noncommittal “we’ve lost our rudder”. Now, most people might panic a little a this point but, no, not us !! We are experts at losing rudders having carelessly lost 2 on our old Beneteau …. At least this one was still attached to the Boat rather than floating off !! The problem was the pin in the steering quadrant had sheared thus leaving no steerage. Roger’s “King of the Bodgers” hat made an appearance and some string and sticky tape suitably applied seemed to fix the problem.
It was now getting dark so a mutual decision was made to carry on to Guadelope although we were getting a little concerned that we had yet to roast our leg of Lamb which was sitting quietly in the fridge. There was no way we were going to let it go off before being eaten so we needed to make land the following day. The wind was now a steady 20 knots still from the NE but, due to the bend in the Island chain, this now enabled us to make an approach to Deshaies in Guadelope. We still had no engine so we spent about 2 hours tacking into the harbour and anchored safely under sail about 4pm on Tuesday 4.
As soon as the anchor was dropped, the lamb was in the oven and we enjoyed a lovely roast dinner – only 2 days late !!
We stayed in Guadelope for an extra day to try and get the engine working but to no avail, eventually deciding that it looked like we had a fuel problem again. Then, it was off to Antigua – only about 40 miles and we had a cracking sail. The wind was perfect and it was a fantastic end to a rather trying few days. We sailed into Falmouth Harbour tacking up and down around the anchored Superyachts to find a good spot to drop the hook and felt a real sense of achievement once we had settled.
Unlike us, we were 3 days earlier than planned so we had time to fix a few things before meeting Rupert & Caroline (Child) who were staying with the posh people at a very plush resort on the NW of the Island.
Upon further examination of the fuel which Roger had taken from the system, it appeared to have water in it and we can only assume that water got into the fuel tank via the overflow valve during the heavy weather we had had during the first 36 hours of our trip. He bled the water out of the system and emptied the fuel tanks and we got a local Engineer to check the injectors for water damage. This has solved the problem and the engine now works although we have to find a permanent fix to stop it happening again – well, it gives Roger something else to do !!
After a day stuck in the Engine room, Rog deserved a day off and we met up with Rupert and Caroline for a few beers at the Mad Mongoose followed by Saturday lunch at the Antigua Yacht Club. It was really nice to see them and, needless to say, a few beers and wines were consumed over a number of old memories…..
We took them both sailing the following week and think that they quite enjoyed impressing their fellow guests when we dropped anchor in the Bay outside their Hotel and ran them back to their Beach Bar in the dinghy !! In return, we were treated to a lovely lunch at their Resort – it’s nice to see how the other half spend their holidays and we had a fantastic afternoon.
A few days later they sailed back to English Harbour with us and we enjoyed Lunch sitting by Nelson’s Dockyard watching the antics of other yachtsmen messing around on the water reminding us that we have a pretty good lifestyle especially when others have to go back to work…
We avoided the big sea swells that were hitting the islands from the BVIs all the way down to Trinidad over the Easter weekend (even though some roads in the North of the Island got flooded) by sitting in English Harbour watching the world go by. We have been relaxing this week waiting for our steering quadrant to come back from the Welders – even we realised that string and sticky tape wouldn’t really last as a permanent fix !
To explore the Island, we hired a Quad Bike for a day. We started by heading West through the Rain Forest and enjoyed the scenic route along the coast road until we came to St. Johns (Antigua’s Capital) which was too commercialised for us. We took one or two wrong turnings trying to head to the North of the Island and, after passing the “Sir Viv Richards” Cricket Stadium for the fifth time, realised that perhaps we were a tad lost – not really our fault as road signs seem to be nonexistent here.
In the end, we gave up with our ‘round the island’ tour and found a nice beach instead to have our picnic!!
Yesterday (27/03), we saw the “Single Handed TransAtlantic Rower”, Sam Williams, arrive in his little boat ‘Pacific Pete’. He had been rowing for 75 days nonstop since leaving Las Palmas.
What an achievement and certainly made us appreciate the luxury of our crossing in comparison.
We are leaving Antigua tomorrow heading for St. Barts initially and then exploring the rest of the Leeward Islands including Nevis where we hope to meet up with Sid (Julian Lee) when he flies out in mid April……
We finally dragged ourselves away from Antigua leaving Jolly Harbour around 6pm for a leisurely night sail North up to Gustavia in St Barts arriving just under 12 hours later. This is a typically French Caribbean town – very chic and very expensive with lots of Designer stores – Hermes, Gucci, Ralph Lauren but not a pair of Crocs in sight !!
Needless to say, we did not stop here long and Vicki wasn’t allowed in any of the clothes shops – even the Supermarket got a very short visit (most unlike us)……… Once we had completed out Immigration and Customs formalities, it was off to Anse du Columbier, which is a secluded bay on the North of the Island.
The bay is part of the Marine Park and free moorings are there for use by visiting yachts.
The bay was originally owned by the Rockefellers and there is a very strange “Summer House” type structure on the headland that could have been lifted from the Eiffel Tower !
We picked up a buoy next to…… Brian & Sue on Darramy who we hadn’t seen since Christmas so it was good to catch up over a few drinks and a bowl of Chilli.
We stayed in the bay for 5 days exploring the Island a little by foot and walking from the beach over the hills to Anse des Flamandes, another very small village but with great views towards the other Islands.
Then it was off to Simpson Bay in St. Maarten (the Dutch side) where there are allegedly the best Chandleries in the Caribbean. We dinghied into the Lagoon and checked out both Island Waterworld and Budget Marine where we managed to finally buy some decent oars for our dinghy. We were not overly impressed with the whole area – it seemed very dirty and commercialised and, once we had had our fill of the Chandleries and got everything we needed, we left and sailed North to Road Bay in Anguilla.
Anguilla is one of the few Islands still owned by the British. The only free anchorage is in Road Bay. If you visit other anchorages, including Dog Island and Prickly Pear Cays, Park fees are incurred of about £20 per day – a little on the high side for us Pensioner Liveaboards !!! After the hustle and bustle of St. Maarten, we enjoyed the relaxing ambience of the Island and strolling along the Beach without having to do anything or go anywhere – actually, there wasn’t really anything to do even if we had wanted to !!
After 4 days, it was time to move on again and we decided to try out the French side of St. Martin – initially stopping at Marigot, the capital. The French side of the island could not have been more different to the Dutch side. The people were really friendly, the food was excellent, the supermarkets bulging with decent cheese, pate, bread etc – what more could we ask for? A nice sandy beach….. So, we sailed around the corner to the Baie Grand Case where there were even more restaurants !! Unfortunately, we only had time to stay there for 5 days as we still had more Islands to visit and we needed to get some more Cooking Gas as we were on our last bottle and needed to fill up the other 3 before leaving the Island.
We reluctantly headed back to Marigot, dinghied right across the Lagoon (which is no mean feat with a 3.5 HP outboard engine) to the Dutch side with our Gas Bottles for refilling only to be told when we arrived that they would not fill our type of bottle due to ‘various safety regulations’. We then dinghied all the way back and tried to find somewhere on the French side to fill our bottles – no such luck as all the French gas supplies had run out (probably due to the Dutch regulations !!) We checked our Cruising Guides and decided to carry on along our intended route as we should be able to get Gas in St Kitts, if not before. So, having stocked up with lots of Salad and cold foods, we checked out and got ourselves ready for an early night in anticipation of a nice early start in the morning. No sooner had we started our game of Scrabble but, who should appear alongside - Malarkey with Trevor & Jo on board. Early night straight out the window and, 3 bottles of wine later (just between the girls) not to mention the beers, rums and ports consumed by the boys, we rowed back to El Vagabond…… We did manage to get up early the next morning feeling a little woozy but ready to go to Saba.
Saba is part of the Dutch Antilles and is a very small Island only 5 square miles in size although it rises to 3,000 feet. It is very unspoilt, very remote and looks a bit like a giant rock with cavernous tunnels and very few inhabitants who all live in 2 villages – Bottom (yes, really!) and Windwardside. Bottom actually being at the top of “Great Hill”, 1,380 feet above Sea Level – strange, huh ?
The anchorage was very rolly and after a couple of nights with very little sleep we decided to move on to St. Eustatius (Statia).
Statia is another small Island in the Dutch Antilles. It is very quaint with an old Fort, cobbled streets and lots of walking opportunities.
We decided to brave the sun and hike to the rim of the Quill, which is a Volcano some 1,970 feet high. It became quite a scramble towards the top, hanging onto tree roots etc but was well worth it for the view over the Northwest part of the Island.
Roger also climbed down into the Crater for a nose whilst Vicki stopped for a well earned rest desperately pleased she had quit smoking over 18 months earlier !!
We left Statia the following day in case we had a mad impulse to repeat the Volcano hike and also to escape another rolly anchorage and arrived in St. Christopher (St. Kitts) on 30th April still needing Cooking Gas – our last bottle was now getting dangerously low and the thought of going without tea and coffee…..
Basseterre, the Capital, has a small Marina and an extremely rolly anchorage. We dropped anchor to check in with Immigration & Customs and also to take our Gas Bottles in for a refill thinking this would be easy. Apparently not…… The caps of our bottles were not the right size for their gas hoses. By this time, we were debating whether to go to back to Antigua for a refill but, not to worry, a very nice little chap told us we could probably buy a new bottle from the Shell Depot but, when we got there, they were closed !! We spent the night rolling in the anchorage getting very little sleep and returned early to the Depot the next morning where another very nice chap took us off in his van to buy a new 21 lb bottle already filled which only cost us about £18…. (to put this in perspective, we paid £16 in Antigua to have our 7 lb bottle filled !!!) At last, we could have another Sunday Roast !!!
We left the anchorage and moved to Ballast Bay on the South of the Island. We stayed there for a few days enjoying the snorkelling (including a wreck in White House Bay) and then moved further South to Nevis where we were due to meet Sid (Julian Lee) whose trip, luckily, had been delayed until May so we would be able to see him.
Nevis is a lovely island, the more attractive sister to St. Kitts, and is one of our favourite Caribbean islands. The people are friendly, there is a lot of history including a Nelson Museum (as he married a Nevisian) and you feel like a local almost immediately. Upon arrival, we called Sid to check his arrival details only to be told that he was getting married to Polly whilst they were out here. We were delighted to hear this news and even more pleased to be able to be at the Wedding.
As we had a week or so to spare before they arrived, we decided to finally get our PADI Open Diver Course under our belts. We enrolled with the local Dive School, watched all the instructional DVDs, read the Manual and arrived excitedly looking forward to our first shallow practice run. We put on all the gear, listened attentively to the safety talks and then stepped into the shallow water. This was fine until we put our heads under the water and practised breathing. Unless you have experienced this yourself, it is very difficult feeling to describe but, suffice to say, we both suffered acute claustrophobia to such an extent that we decided to discontinue the course as neither of us could face the thought of being 5 foot underwater let alone 30 !! Give us Ocean crossings any day……….. It was a real disappointment as we had been really looking forward to diving as the next stage from snorkelling but so be it. Maybe, we will try again one day (or, maybe not)….
Instead, we walked and cycled along the West coast between Oaulie Beach and Charlestown – Roger actually circumnavigated the island by bike – all 21 miles of it…
Sadly, Vicki’s Mum died suddenly in May. This was a complete shock and Vicki immediately flew back to the UK for a couple of weeks although ended up staying there for a month.
During this time, Roger undertook his Best Man duties for Sid. It was pretty unreal to see Sid & Polly arrive in the little anchorage on a small fishing boat one evening. The Hotel driver tried to take them away but Sid was true to his word and insisted that they had a “cheeky one or two” before going. The week was testing on the livers and they were pleased to have had their Coutts training !! The Stag Night remains a bit of a mystery but had all the right ingredients as Roger is unable to remember anything about it but managed to lose the dinghy line, dinghy anchor and petrol can all in one go on the way home !! He was awoken by the Groom the following morning who was swimming unsteadily out to El Vagabond and hangovers were duly compared….
The wedding was perfect and Rog was really chuffed to be Best Man to one of his oldest friends. Sid & Polly came out for a day’s sail with their friends later in the week when we sailed to a lovely bay in St. Kitts for lunch – all very relaxed and very Caribbean. The Party was definitely over after they flew home but a plan is already coming together to catch up with them again in Nevis later in the year.
Once they had left, Roger sailed with Mishima back down to Grenada to await Vicki’s return.
Vicki eventually got home on 12th June pleased to see that Roger hadn’t been too lonely with Adonde and Durban Dancer both in Prickly Bay. A few days after her return, Roger had arranged for us to go Turtle Watching – what a fantastic experience.
We took a ride up to one of the beaches on the Northeast coast and, when it was dark, we walked along the beach (with some official volunteer guides) looking for the huge Leatherback Turtles to come ashore to lay their eggs. It is quite an event as these Turtles are massive. They are the largest breed of Sea Turtles and are about 2 metres in length and weigh around 600 kilos. They dig a hole with their back flippers about 2 foot deep, lay their eggs - about 120 at a time – then cover the hole with sand. The whole process takes about an hour and if they decide they don’t like the position or get startled they start the whole thing again. Each Turtle will lay 3 or 4 times per season yet only a very small percentage of the Turtles survive. As we were late in the season, we were also lucky enough to witness some of the babies hatching (after about 60-70 days) and it was stunning to see the little fellows hatch from their shells, emerge through the sand, sense the direction of the Sea and then waddle very slowly down to the edge of the water where a wave picked them up and carried them off. Apparently, they then swim non-stop for 48 hours to build up strength and escape from Predators – Quite amazing.
The Volunteers monitor the Turtles, tag them and mark the nests on a chart so that other Turtles don’t dig them up by accident… Unfortunately, we didn’t get any photographs as we weren’t sure how to turn our flash off – typical !!
Before leaving Grenada, we had promised ourselves that we would complete a Hash with the Grenadian ‘Hash House Harriers’ - a Worldwide Organisation of “Drinkers with a running problem”. Darramy were in town so Roger & Brian decided to run the course in proper Cross Country style whilst Vicki & Sue took a more leisurely attitude.
It was great fun, the course was about 8 miles long during which we discovered new paths/areas around Prickly Bay that we had never seen including a Dove sanctuary and we had a really good afternoon finishing with Beer & Burgers at Clarke’s Court Bay Marina. Needless to say, Roger forgot his age and came 6th although maybe regretted his enthusiasm slightly when he was still suffering with aches and pains 2 days later !!
After getting Mishima to the Vets for his annual booster, we had only 1 more thing to do before we left Grenada and that was to see the West Indies play Cricket against the Touring Australians.
Following our 2007 World Cup debut we think we are finally beginning to understand the game and we had a great day out despite the Australians thrashing the home team....