Farewells

Our arrival at the anchorage in Nevis was important as this was the last time we were likely to see Steve & Helen on Allegrini for at least 18 months. They are moving on to the USA whereas we’re going south. We have been cruising in company a lot since we both left the UK & it’ll be strange not to meet up for beers and wine. We had an impromptu BBQ on Allegrini and the following morning said farewell to great friends.

We sailed up to Basse Terre the capital of St Kitts and found the anchorage absolutely open to the wind and swell. Customs is where the cruise ship terminal is & 2 ships were in. The area was packed with passengers looking in the many shops for “bargain jewellery” and perfume. We quickly moved 3 miles south to South Friars bay and had a beautiful quiet night at anchor. A decision was made to crack straight on towards St Martin as this was very much a must visit island (aren’t they all!). We sailed up to Statia and dropped anchor keeping the yellow Q flag flying as we weren’t stopping, and found yet again a very uncomfortable night rolling all over the place. Back in the 1700’s this island was the centre of the caribbean islands for trade and shipping stopped here all the time, today what stands out is the huge commercial port with tankers at anchor waiting to drop off petrochemicals… not very attractive at all which could be why there were only 6 other yachts in the anchorage.

We left at first light and headed straight to the famous St Martin and “that airport runway” !!!

Antigua

Approaching Antigua, we were met by the sight of huge racing yachts gliding effortlessly with crew sat on the sides. One cut across us way too close making us alter course even though we had the right of way. They actually waved as they passed so I gave them a universal salute in return! As it turned out we’d arrived during the build up to the RORC Caribbean 600 yacht race, this is a world class race attracting multi million pound yachts to race 600 miles around the Caribbean islands. We saw the Maserati trimaran too which we last saw in La Rochelle France.

We anchored in Falmouth harbour which is where we ended up staying for nearly 3 weeks. Check in was done at Nelsons Dockyard in English harbour, a 10 minute walk from the dinghy dock. The dock was part of the Antigua yacht club who were the organisers of the race, we even managed to gate crash their pre race party by sneaking in by dinghy avoiding security (who weren’t very good) and had a great evening pretending to be crew !!!

We had to change the name of the ships master in the customs office too as I needed to fly home and Silhouette must have a master onboard. Sadly I had a call from my brother Steve to say that our father had died on Sunday 17th February. That evening along with Jeremy from Right Turn we went to the jump up party at Shirley Heights where we watched the sun go down over the hills and toasted my dad. 2 days later I said goodbye to Caroline & Charlotte leaving them at anchor as I flew back for 7 days.

Silhouette was well behaved and stayed in the same place, why doesn’t everyone have a Rocna anchor? despite some very strong winds. During my absence the girls hired a jeep together with Jeremy and visited some other bays around the island including the huge supermarket for a full re stock. Dickinson bay was the favourite with this beautiful scene…

The day after I got back we went to the yacht club for a drink and unbeknown to me a surprise was in store as 2 friends Alan & Julie appeared. They were on holiday and searched for us on vesselfinder, realising we were on the same island, a reunion was in order including another visit to Shirley Heights and a sail round to English Harbour anchoring off a beautiful beach.

Our petrol generator has been very temperamental, so together with Jeremy from Right Turn we set about a permanent fix. We quickly realised there was a fuel blockage so stripped all the fuel line out. Perhaps you needed to be there, but we made it like a surgical procedure with clamps to stem the fuel/blood, 2 pairs of hands buried deep in the bowels of the generator/patient and way too many medical terms we didn’t understand plus beer …. but fix it we did! After saying our goodbyes to Jeremy, who we hope to see in a couple of months as we both head south, and checking out of Antigua, it was time to move on, with Nevis being our next anchorage, a 52 mile downwind sail just as it was when we crossed the Atlantic…… very rolly !

As we looked behind us watching Antigua slowly disappear we all agreed this was a special island and yet again realised just how lucky we are to be here. Continue reading “Antigua”

Racing north

After Caroline’s sister flew home we sailed back to Martinique and based ourselves in Ste Anne at anchor as Caroline and Charlotte needed to fly back to the U.K. for 10 days. We looked at every option to get them to the airport, the main problem being they had to leave Silhouette at 5am! In the end a private hire taxi took them for 90 euros… ouch!

This left me on board with a list of jobs which would certainly keep me busy, including stripping back the teak decks and resealing. This alone took nearly 3 days, mainly because it was so hot under the Caribbean sun I kept diving for shade! The end result though was great and Silhouette once again has beautiful decks. Other jobs included oil change, saloon covers washed, waterline cleaning (never ending task) & lots of small jobs I can’t remember.

Steve on Allegrini needed to reseal his bottom rudder bearing, so as I’d done ours 2 years ago I said I would show him how to do it. This meant me sailing Silhouette back to Rodney bay solo (first time).

The trip was an easy reach in 15 knots of wind in lovely sunshine, made extra special by a pod of dolphins arriving, our first pod on this side of the Atlantic.

Rodney bay seems like our home port, we’ve been back so many times now, there are certainly worse places to anchor off though. We met up with 3 other arc+ yachts, Crean, La Boheme & Passat II making a 5 boat reunion. Even Ithaka anchored behind me for one night, so the arc+ legacy continues.

Partying over, it was time for me to head back to Martinique to pick up the girls. I picked them up from Fort de France as it was the easiest as its quite close to the airport, a quick restock from the very busy but well stocked Leader Price supermarket and we were  off Dominica.

The 3 of us made a decision to head north to Antigua quite quickly as it was looking like I would need to return to the UK soon as my father was extremely ill. This meant the islands of Dominica and Guadeloupe would only be overnight or 2 night stops. We would explore in depth on our way south in April. It would be unfair to comment on these islands as we literally anchored and moved on, in fact we never lowered the Q flag in Dominica. We did spend 5 nights in Guadeloupe 2 in Deshaies where the tv show Death in Paradise was filmed. this area is a wind magnet and we can confirm it blows there all the time. The wind bowls through the mountains causing huge gusts and choppy waters, even in the bay.


We did manage to stop at the Jacques Cousteau marine national park to snorkel. This protected park is full of aquatic life, on our way back south we will spend more time in this beautiful area.

We found a window in the weather (or so we thought) and left  Deshaies at 7a.m. This wind remained on the beam but kept building up to 32kts with a confused sea. Silhouette absolutely loved it and we reached 9.2kts at one stage, and averaged just over 7kts for the 43 miles.

As we approached Antigua, we started to see very large racing yachts practicing, but for what………

Guest on board!

Caroline’s sister Lynn arrived on new years day to spend 2 weeks with us on board, this being her first experience of sailing AND she doesn’t like the water…… what could possibly go wrong? In fact nothing at all and she had a whale of a time as did we.

 

We took her out to anchor for a night to see how the rocking made her feel then sailed down to the Pitons for  nights giving her an easy sail and great views. Whilst there the girls visited the Diamond botanical gardens and the drive in volcano where the sulphur bath & springs are. I stayed on board to do some “small” jobs including checking the spark plug, oil & air filter on the genny and ended up taking the generator apart when I dropped the spark plug socket into the bottom of the casing…. so pleased there weren’t any ladies present!

A short trip back to Marigot bay to find there was space in the lagoon. The ever present boat boy took us to a mooring and then said his brother would be a long to take the money! We then realised he’d put us on a private mooring so moved off and took the last official mooring which we’d asked him for initially. They are only trying to earn a living but it pays to be polite and firm at the same time! By being in the lagoon we get free use of the hotel facilities which is great with 2 swimming pools (1 with a swim up bar) towels & loungers.

 

 

 

 

 

You may remember we won a prize for catching the largest fish on our atlantic crossing. The prize was lunch for 6 in the Hurricane hole bar & restaurant. There were 4 of us and we had a stunning lunch which would’ve cost us over $150 USD and the staff were lovely too.

Lynn got on well on board so we checked out of St Lucia and took her up to Martinique for a few days. She got a feeling of open water sailing as we left the protection of the islands….. and loved it too.

Her last Friday meant we had to get back to Rodney bay as the “Jump up” at Gros Islet just had to be witnessed. The food as always was great, the music loud, Rum punch was strong and it rained hard as everyone was dancing in the street!

We also anchored by Pigeon Island, so paid to walk around the grounds and fort with great views. Whilst there Lynn took us to Jambe de bois restaurant just by the landing dock for a meal, live jazz music included.

And then it was all over, Lynn is now back in the chilly U.K. and we look forward to seeing new islands in the coming months……

Happy new year!

Christmas Day began with the 3 of us jumping off the back of the boat into the warm Caribbean Sea as we’d promised each other we would, so different from last year in the U.K.

We entertained Angela & Christoph from Ithaka & Bert & Tina from Festina Lente, both German couples who had never had Christmas turkey roast… how surreal eating a full roast dinner in 30 degrees!!! We found a Leader Price supermarket which was well stocked and cheap, getting to it was fun as we read the route was by taking the dinghy down a mangrove river. This was followed by a 10 minute walk…. to find the supermarket had its own dinghy dock and we didn’t need to walk !! Still, we gave our guests a christmas day to remember 🙂

We had arranged to spend New Years eve with Steve & Helen from Allegrini back in Rodney Bay which was a win win as Caroline’s sister was flying in also for a 2 week holiday with us, her first time sailing!

Pontoon party ensued with a couple of gatecrashers and 4 ARC+ yachts still in the marina. After pre loading with alcohol, we all headed off to the boardwalk bar expecting live music and a party atmosphere, sadly it was all a bit subdued. Apparently the party atmosphere was on the beach where we weren’t…. note to self to check first next year for the lively place to be🤷🏻‍♂️

Martinique

The morning after the ARC+ prize giving bash we headed off to Martinique, a sail of about 28 miles.

Quick note to anyone not in the know (US!!!) if you check out of St Lucia on a holiday or weekend the rate is tripled!!! We won’t make that mistake again so what should’ve been 35ecd ended up costing us 110ecd 🤦🏻‍♂️

Back to Martinique, & a beautiful sail up to a small bay called anse d’Arlet which reportedly had a cyber station to check into. Once anchored we all went into the small sleepy village to find the cyber base closed even though Doyle’s guide said it should be open… hey it’s the Caribbean. We went back the next morning and the process was self service and cost 3 Euro’s only!

Nick & Carol said they’d like to go up to the north of the island to see the town of St Pierre. This area is dominated by mount Pelée, a volcano which last erupted in 1902 killing over 30000 locals There were only 2 survivors. We were a little disappointed with the town to be honest, but there was a well stocked supermarket and local market. After anchoring for the night we headed back towards Fort de France the islands capital where we would say goodbye to Nick & Carol as they would be flying home.

The anchorage isn’t big but is protected from the winds by the fort. However the ferry boat terminal is just behind the anchorage and they leave quite a wake during the day making the anchorage very rolly, but equally calm at night. There’s a really good dinghy dock right by a large park giving easy access to the shops and bars.

At 5:30am I took Nick & Carol ashore for their taxi and we said our final goodbyes with hugs and kisses… what an adventure they and we have had together during the last 7 weeks. They will have many tales to tell friends and family whilst preparing for their next adventure on their own yacht to the Baltic in 2019.

As Christmas is so close, we did a big shop at the Leader Price supermarket in Fort de France which was by far the cheapest place to stock up, then eased back down to Le Marin over a couple of days. On our way south we passed Diamond rock, which has quite the history. The Royal navy “commissioned” the rock calling it HMS Diamond Rock and put cannons and crew permanently on it to upset the French during the Napoleonic wars. It certainly worked and the British held the rock for nearly 2 years before the French finally brought in big ships!

Once in Le Marin we anchored in the harbour but it’s a soulless harbour with dirty water and abandoned yachts at anchor looking very tired. There were many yachts clearly with live aboards that are unable to move from where they are as their boats are completely unseaworthy. We stayed at anchor for 1 night then quickly left and now we’re anchored in Ste Anne with lots of boats around us all having a good time. A beautiful beach is 2 minutes by dinghy and the water is crystal clear meaning we’re happy now.😊

Even here we see abandoned yachts, the floating one has no boom, no steering and its anchor chain thick with weed. The dinghy is also very sad, filled with water and just left. As for the yacht on the beach, it looks like its been there for some time as there’s graffiti all along one side and completely stripped of anything of value!