Tuesday, March 20, 2018


2 ft of new snow over the weekend. 7 ft since I got here.

I have stuck to Snowbird Alta and Canyons and had great conditions at all three.

Even better examples of natures Christmas decorations.

The numbers of disabled skiers are amazing.

Sunday, March 11, 2018


We made it up to Falmouth Harbor and got the hook down in my favorite spot up front and to the East of Falmouth harbor marine where the big boys hang out. We had planned to fill up with water in Jolly harbor but the water was off when we went in. This is not an unusual event.

However Falmouth harbor marina came to our rescue and filled our tanks. It was not without excitement though as the promised dock boy was missing when we got in and we had no hope of going round again as we were up a narrow cul de sac with multi million dollar boats all around. However Gaye was on the bow line which was the critical upwind line and attracted a passerby who took our line and expertly made it fast.

I got a surprising email from Peter Malone who I had known from my aeromodelling and stock car racing days back in Scotland. He was in Antigua and wondered if we could meet up. We duly did and as we wandered around Elizabeth harbor pete conducted a me on a trip down memory lane. Everything from his competition model AKA PETE'S POLE to his first stockie the yellow Sunbeam Rapier No. 121 to his days as rally driver and his interests in full size flying.

I left Gaye and Dizzy in charge and headed for the airport for the long and tiring 3 stage flight to Salt lake City.

Snow had been in short supply Salt Lake City and I nearly decided to go to a resort with good snow but just as I was making the booking a last minute check on the weather showed a major storm system barreling down on SLC. Well it arrived as the same time as the American Airlines flight I was on. after two missed approaches with violent turbulence the captain announced that he was diverting to Boise Idaho, the cabin crew looked glad as the supply of sick bags was running low.

The snow arrived overnight and and conditions for the powder hounds were great even though the viz was poor.

Next day things were clear

Even though it was getting warm enough to melt the snow a little the runs were in excellent conditions.

At the weekend I often ski at Canyons Park city as Alta my favorite resort gets pretty busy

As you can see there was almost no queue at the bottom and the pistes were empty.

I had bought this pesky inner forestay fitting with me and
found an excellent blacksmith at the Wasatch Forge called Matt Danielson who had a go at forging down the diameter of the fitting. He was a little unsure of the suitability of the grade of stainless but as always as good smith does he got it hot and hit it hard. I still have to get the thread cut but it is looking good.

However not all was going to plan on the home front. Gaye had had to return to Oz to help out in a serious family emergency. She organised the Antigua animal rescue to look after Dizzy and found another cruiser to check on Elephants Child.

Thursday, February 22, 2018


Well we are in Deep Bay tucked up towards the NE corner and watching the big swells roll in while the wind is whistling in the rigging.

It is a pretty spot and we may make it up to the battery later today if I decide that it worth risking beaching the dink. The swells are over 3 metres and even in the sheltered corner the waves are breaking on the beach.

It is a shame that Gaye will not get a chance to snorkel on the wreck but the viz will be close to zero.

So we are on pelican watch, turtle spotting and best of all watching IDIOTS trying to motor sail North in strong winds and big swells. I think they are competing to see who can get the most unpleasant sail with seasick crew all with boat breaking conditions.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Saintes Guadeloupe Antigua

The sail from the Saintes to Guadeloupe was a rorty one with the 8 knots showing most of the way despite having the second reef in and only the staysail. But it was short and things soon calmed down in the lea of Guadeloupe.

We snorkeled at Pigeon Island and I got a reminder of just how special it can be. The vix was fantastic the coral spectacular and the fish were everywhere and not the least bit camera shy. I suspect that there is some feeding going on but who cares. Black triggers reticulated horned box fish and small groupers were everywhere

The next stop was Deshaies and the obligatory visit to the botanical gardens.

I will let the pictures do the talking.

The next job was to see if I can get the fitting I need to redo the base os the inner forestay. I thought I had it cracked but somehow the thread was just oversize.

It seems it might have been something made as a one off initially.

We made the passage over to Antigua without the staysail which was no big deal as with a single reef in the main and about 60 % of the genoa rolled out we were doing 7.5 to 8 knots with the wind just forward of the beam. The seas were down and it was a great sail over in the sunshine.

We are tucked up off the beach just outside Jolly Harbor and the Christmas winds that relented for a day to give us a pleasant sail over from Guadeloupe to Antigua are blowing hard again

So it is off to Deep Bay and a chance to see the wreck that lies just beneath the surface.

he Andes was a three-masted steel sailing barque built in England in 1874. In early June of 1905, it left Trinidad with a cargo hold full of pitch (tar) bound for Chile.

They first sailed northeast before sailing south in order to sail the trade winds to Cape Horn, but had a problem approaching Antigua. The barrels of pitch were rubbing against each other and this generated a lot of heat, enough to create smoke that started drifting above decks.

The captain of the ship wanted to anchor in St. Johns Harbor, but the harbormaster directed them to Deep Bay. The busy St. Johns Harbor was no place for a burning ship – it would have been a hazard to any other vessel in the harbor.

So they anchored in Deep Bay, and as soon as the hatches were open enough oxygen was introduced to the cargo holds to ignite the tar. The ship burned and sank bow first, but all of the crew was spared.

Since its sinking in 1905, an abundance of coral, gorgonians, and sponges have taken hold of the steel hull and reef fish have moved in.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Arrived safely in the Saintes

We had a fairly comfortable passage with only one of the squalls Chris Parker had forecast.

Sitting comfortably off the main town but may move tomorrow if we can find a good spot off Cabrits as we have strong NE winds in the forecast.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Bound for the Saintes on Monday 5th February.

We plan to leave for the Saintes from Portsmouth Dominica on Monday.

The new geared starter motor arrived and after a few tweaks here and there was fitted. It was smaller and lighter than the old direct drive starter. I had asked for feedback from other users and they said it will work just fine and even better than the direct drive one.

It was a very good moment when the old Perkins burst into life at the first turn of the key.

Big ups for Transatlantic Diesels who supplied the starter, Fedex who delivered it to Dominica in two days and Dominican Customs who processed it in 15 minutes and after asking for my ships clearance papers accepted that it was a spare part for a yacht in transit and said there was no duty to be paid.

I was able to fit it myself and only suffered a few aching muscles from working in awkward positions.

This is a small village on the North East coast of Dominica. We took a local dollar bus to get there and for the first time Gaye experienced the bus drivers mantra. “ THERE IS ALWAYS ROOM FOR ONE MORE. “ At one point she was sharing a seat made for three with four other people plus a child. I was expecting the hurricane damage to be more severe as Calibishie would have been in the most dangerous quadrant of the storm but although the damage was severe in the pass over to Calibishie the village had escaped with less damage than I expected. Only one section of the church window gone and many palms with some leaves and nuts still hanging in there. However the church opposite had lost three quarters of it's roof. The village was still without electricity except for those with generators.

Calibishie is a pretty little village right on the seafront. A reef protects the anchorage which was calm with barely a ripple, not enough water for most keel boats and a very scary entrance.

Some newer houses had been built with a view to holiday lets but there were a few older ones to give character to the place.

Gaye and I both marveled at the skill of the tugboat driver who towed the huge barge into the harbor on a long tow then reconfigured the tug and barges as a hip tow then proceeded to dock his unwieldy charge on the end of the narrow concrete dock at his first attempt. There has been a lot of coming and going but the boat numbers are down compared to past years. People are staying away which is a pity.

Dizzy has enjoyed snacking on the odd small moth that has come aboard , drawn in by our cockpit light. So when th light stated to flicker and flapping of the moths wings disturbed the chaos potential it was hardly a surprise when this little rocket propelled cat shot up to get the moth. Now initially I had said it had to be a bat as it was huge. But when it alighted on my sunglasses I could see it was indeed a moth and a pretty stunning one too. At 8 inches wingspan it deserved a flutter on part in Silence of the Lambs. It kept Dizzy amused for an hour or so.

Igna the one armed marine mechanic is a wonder to watch in action. I called on his assistance when I needed to bend the no. 2 injector pipe t0 allow the starter to fit in place. He does not see himself as disabled and neither do the fisherman as he keeps their outboards running.

This local artist is self taught.

This basket now has pride of place on my salon table. I marvel at the exact spacing and symmetry of the weaving and the end result is pleasing to my eye. It is a traditional design and comes from the Carib Indian village on Dominica.

Pics to come when I get a broadband connection.

Monday, January 29, 2018


The day looked like rain but we decided to go for a hike on the Prince Rupert Headland. It is called Cabrits and is home to Fort Shirley and the Douglas Battery. I being British carried my umbrella.

The locals told us that the dock was destroyed in the hurricane so we hiked round from the PAYS dock which had been rebuilt since Maria. As we got close we could see that the dock was indeed ruined and that there would be no electricity with the poles down and the wires touching.
As always we paid our money to one lady and had our tickets punched by a second. Got to keep the employment going. I sat outside while Gaye had a look around the small museum. I marveled that the museum had kept it's roof intact while the adjacent ferry terminal was stripped of it's roof tiles. We started up the cobbled road to the gap in the wall protecting the fort.

I always feel history tapping on my shoulder as I make this hike.

Maybe it is the ghosts of the many hundreds of slaves who toiled to build this place. Cutting the stones by hand and burning the coral to get lime mortar. Look at the perfection of this block made so square with no tools beyond a hammer chisel and a square.

Maybe it is the ghost of the French admiral who was on the losing end of the major sea battle which took place in the channel to the North of Dominica. This battle is reckoned to have decided who controlled the worlds seas for the next 150 years.

Maybe it is the ghosts of all the British soldiers who were sent here to man the batteries and forts. Wearing unsuitable woolen clothes and eating a diet bereft of any fresh fruit or vegetables they succumbed to various fevers or scurvy.

However it seems that we were being escorted and protected from any unfriendly spirits as we were surrounded by clouds of white butterflies as we climbed the overgrown cobbled trail that leads to the parade ground then down to the Douglas battery. When I say clouds I mean clouds, every step seemed to raise another hundred or so. It was a pretty surreal experience.
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The Douglas battery is usually a pretty spooky place as the forest canopy is dense there but Maria had stripped the trees of their leaves and bought in the sun. We both marveled at the stubbornness of remains of the buildings despite the best efforts the trees to reclaim their territory. Also the 200 year old cannon and it's carriage made of some kind of iron that had survived out in the open with only a little surface corrosion. I want a car built of this material.
We made our way to Fort Shirley and saw that the work done to keep the elements out had not been wasted. The shutters had held and the roof was still on.
The giant mahogany tree had suffered some limb losses in the storm as well as all it's leaves but it was coming back. However we both thought it looked like an Ent ready to stride out with Frodo.
On the way back down the damage done to the new hotel that was being built in partnership with some Moroccan interests. More than half the roof is gone. We talked to the night guard and he told us that they are going to rebuild and finish off the development.

As we left Cabrits I stopped to salute and stroke this beautiful marmalade striped cat enjoying the last of the sunset, now I don't know if it was the scent of this cat or maybe something alike to catnip that I had walked through but whatever it was that was attached to my sandals but it drove Dizzy to make a full on attack on my sandals, biting them and getting the back legs going. So funny!

It was a tiring hike for me and I was happy to be back on board with the sun going down and the sundowners going down too.

Life is good.