Monday, May 31, 2010


Poor quality pic of GSD and it was the last one on the card. I was using my little underwater camera.

He was a big bosky fun loving dog. So much energy. His owner said he was 4 years old.

I played with him for a while and he just never stopped running.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Prince Rupert Bay Dominica

Got the pics on but the connection is flaky so I may not write much tonight.

Prince Rupert bay is edged with many decaying ships. Somehow in keeping with this laidback island.

This is a Dominican haulout. Lord knows how he is going to get it back in the water.

I finished off the day by going for a snorkle around a wreck.

Saw this spectacular angel fish I think it is called a French angel.

Note to self "Buy a fish book!"

On the way back to Elephants child came across this big GSD having a whale of a time playing on the beach, chasing crabs, burying his ball, going for a swim with his ball, got to talking with his owner about GSD loyalty.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


The sunset was spectacular and the big pink thundercloud sitting to the Southeast had some serious sparkies going to add interest to the proceedings.

It is Saturday night in my favourite anchorage off Isla de Cabrit and the locals are out to PARTY HEARTY. But unlike Antigua where the amps did not get turned off till 3 or 4 am here the sound systems had the plugs pulled before midnight. So it was with a little moan of contentment I settled into my pillow in anticipation of a good nights sleep. However it was not to be as a bloody stinkpot MOBO had his generator going all night and every so often I got a big waft of diesel fumes as well as the continuous gurgle from the exhaust.

Where is your friendly neighborhood arms dealer when you need a Rocket Propelled Grenade or a Stinger missile.

Still I had a good day on the bottom cleaning front and have worked out a way of getting down to the bottom of the keel without too much exertion. So I should have a fairly clean bottom for my next leg South to Dominica. There is lots being said about global warming and coral die off but if the growth on the bottom of Elephants Child is anything to go by the problem is grossly overstated. Just paint where ever you want coral to grow with the stuff the chandlers laughingly call 'antifouling' and wait a month or two.

I also had time for a snorkel amongst some big shoals of fish and some coral growth just around the point. There is a no fishing and no anchoring zone in place there and I guess that is why the fish life is so abundant.

I have a couple of seams that need to be redone and Phil the Sail seems to be the man here in the Saints so the Mack sail cover is coming off tonight and that plus the back section of the bimini will be handed over to him tomorrow.

OK I am impressed with Phil a Voile, he was on time picked the stuff up and bought it back and did a good job for a very reasonable price.

Saints to Dominica

The promised wind switch to the east did not materialize so it looked like I would be beating into a big sea and probably would not be able to lay the course. I poked my nose out through the channel out of the Saints promising myself if it looked uncomfortable I would just turn around and go back to exploring the Saints for a few more days.

However I could almost lay the course and we were making 5 to 6 knots so I decided to carry on thinking once in the lee of Dominica it would be an easy tack back. In the end I managed to fiddle with sail sets and got to the point where we were within a degree or two of the required so made it in one tack but had to motor sail in the last mile or so as the wind died near Dominica.

It was good to get the anchor down and have lunch.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


I was up early this morning and the boat was surrounded by a huge school of bait fish. Of course that meant I had a close up view of many seabirds harvesting their breakfasts from the school. It was interesting to watch the different fishing techniques, the pelican's ungainly splash dive, some kind of guillemot that dives deep with tucked in wings, but most impressive to me was the booby who flies fast millimeters from the surface then makes a very shallow dive for a split second, just long enough to snag the target fish, then bursts out and flies off. It is almost as it can fly in water.

However flying above all the harvesters were the pirates of the Caribbean, the Frigate birds. As soon as a bird had a fish in it's beak it would be harassed into dropping it and the Frigate would turn and pick it out of the air.

It just needed the music from Top Gun to be the perfect dogfighting, combat flying morning. However it would have been criminal to disturb the peace and tranquility of this quiet anchorage.

However someone had no qualms about doing so and soon heart rending cries progressed to screams of despair, deprivation, hunger and abandonment. My neighbors in the anchorage have a 6 month old baby on board and it wanted it's breakfast and it wanted it NOW! I had given dad Hinkle a lift into town in my dink in Deshaies and knew that they had conceived the baby on board somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic and while not part of their original cruising plan he was now crew and chief alarm clock.

What do you know? The little blighter woke up another baby on a French boat and for a few moments there was a duet going.

I needed bread so popped round to the main town here to discover people pollution. The ferries from Pointe a Pitre had just disgorged their cargo of pink people wearing holiday clothes. I guess there is at least one cruise ship in.

Still they have not discovered the free wifi at Sole Mio and there are no brown bodies wearing faded clothes from the liveaboard boats so it is fast at the moment.

I hope I can get back into my favourite anchorage but it is a popular spot and I think some boats make it down here from Pointe a Pitre most weekends.
Mind you I don't THINK these guys came quite that far but who knows what the crazy French sailors will try. There were three in that tent on the Hobie last night.

Next stop is Plymouth in Dominica but at the moment the trades have too much South in them for it to be laid. So I will just have to wait here, scrub the bottom, watch the sunsets with a G&T in hand and snorkel my buns off till it goes to East at least.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


We came through the 'canal' between Basse terre and Haut Terre to the Cul de Sac du Marin which lies in the North arms of the butterfly. This meant an early start as the bridge only opens at 5am.

We stopped off and explored one of the mangrove areas which was quite spooky at times.

We visited Mahault which was such a contrast to Pointe a Pitre with much evidence of civic pride and so many flowers and even more friendly people.

After spending the night at anchor behind a deserted island in the heart of the nature reserve that is Cul de Sac du Marin we had a belting sail up from Guadeloupe with an average of just less than 7 knots. Elephants Child was flying again. We had to get back to Antigua as Gisela had to fly out on Monday.

I am sorting out some minor stuff and will be off south by the weekend and will keep on trucking down towards Grenada as the sea is already warm enough to allow a hurricane to form although it would be VERY unusual to have one this early. The buoy off martinique is reporting a surface temp. of 82.6 F and 80 F is recognised minimum temp required for a hurricane to form.

Thursday, May 13, 2010





We had been looking forward to filling up with some fresh sweet spring water in Guadaloupe but it was not to be.

In Deshaies the promised dock water system is still on the drawing board. The entrepreneur who delivered our morning croissants also used to deliver water but he had lost his tank in a recent storm [ it floated away! ] so he was out of business.

Anse la Barque had none either despite having a pretty good looking deal for a pier but the water too was yet to be connected.

Our next stop was the marina at Riviere Sans and this was our banker before leaving Guadaloupe for the Saintes. However despite the guide saying water was available it was no where in sight. After a search of all nearby buildings and businesses someone was found who claimed to be able to turn on the water on one of the pontoons but he expected us to raft up against a small catamaran and the route in was some what torturous as there were two partially sunken sailboats to be negotiated so being a devout chicken when it comes to maneuvering in close quarters I said no thank you.

So it was back to studying the guidebook which gave us the reassuring news that we could get water in the Saints. A newly set up yacht club and yacht services with English speaking Jerome providing water on a buoy in the main Saints harbor.

On arriving at the Saints we duly called him up on the given channel and were given vague directions to the buoy, but not the colour which would have been useful. We eventually found the buoy, faintly marked with the word EAU and sporting a bright yellow hose poked through the loop on top of the buoy.

Ah success at last. But we were counting our chickens too early! Gisela picked up the mooring loop and tied us off and we were good to go. However as we went to connect the hose to our tanks we realized that were fooled again. There was only a short piece of yellow hose there going to nowhere.

We called him up again on the VHF and told him what we had found, after accusing us of breaking his hose he said to come to the bar with the yellow hose. However when we got there expecting to pick up the hose and work our way back to the buoy he told us to go away and he would fix it tomorrow, perhaps, if the weather was good.

At this point Gisela was ready to punch his lights out but it is the Caribbean and sometimes you just have to go with the flow and hope people fix things before they get to their recreational substance of choice on any given day.

Did I mention Jerome was clearly totally fried?

Anyway next day when we dinghied over more in hope than expectation there was another hopeful on the buoy needing water and guess what? Jerome has promised them to get the hose fixed not today as he had promised us but 'manyana' and we all know that it never comes.

We were OK as I had filled the solar shower and we had some emergency reserve still in our tanks but it was with considerable relief that we saw that a shiny new hose had been fitted next day. So over we went and wonder of wonders it worked as advertised but not at the advertised price. A 50% increase was demanded, after all he has to pay for a new hose!

Gisela goes snorkeling.

After trying just with a mask at the Cousteau centre near Pigeon Island Gisela tried the snorkel and flippers with the mask at the Islet de Cabrits and was soon zooming around the place. I admit to twisting her arm a little [ well quite a lot really ] to try it but her first question when we got back aboard was when can we go again so that is good news from my point of view as I love snorkeling.

Fort Napoleon Isle de Basse Terre

The Saints were of tremendous military value in the days of engineless wooden warships as they had protected anchorages that could be entered easily by the rather unwieldy square rigged ships of the time.

So the anchorages had to be protected and batteries were situated at several points on the islands to cover all the approaches.

Fort Napoleon was the headquarters and principal sight covering the northern entrance to the best anchorage but now is used as a museum and a home for many goats and iguanas.

To get there we had hired a scooter which managed to get the two of us up some really steep hills despite being only 90cc.

The exhibits were somewhat eclectic.

There was a good exhibit on traditional boat building and I wonder if the builders were influenced by an Englishman as the designs were very similar to the gigs of the British fleet of the 18th century.

There was extensive coverage of the famous battle of the Saints where the French fleet were comprehensively routed by the English. There were tableau, paintings and detailed explanations of why the French lost.

As well as lots on slavery and the abolition thereof.

The Saints to Point a Pitre.

A bit longer a sail than I thought but we were able to lay the course just and I used the centre board for the first time and it made a difference as our leeway was clearly less. It had been reluctant to come down as a result of barnacle growth but the rough passage down from Montserrat had loosened it off.

When the wind went light mid passage I nearly started the nasty noisemaker but it filled in again with a little more South in it and soon we were seeing 6.5 to 7 knots which we carried into the somewhat scary entrance to Point a Pitre,

Point a Pitre

A lovely flower covered city in places but there are some really ugly concrete tower blocks going up to replace the wooden framed tinned roofed houses of old.

Gisela made me giggle when I commented on the dresses in this bridal shop when she said

“Who would marry anyone dressed like that?”

Watchers at the local fish market.

We went to see the famous markets again today after finding that they only opened in the mornings. However we found them deserted as it is Ascension Day here in Guadeloupe and a public Holiday.

However Rudolphe was at work in the spice market and soon inveigled us into some purchases with some consummate salesmanship. Watch out for his special coconut rum, it is Caribbean rocket fuel!


We rented a car and toured the rain forest and Soufriere volcano both of which are in a protected park. It was a little disappointing to find many of the attractions were closed due to the lack of funds to maintain them.

However we had a long walk in the dripping rain forest and soon we were both dripping too but we escaped the cruise ship crowds and were rewarded by a real sense and sight of a primeval landscape. Even the paths we followed had been recolonized by the jungle with a carpet of roots.


Tomorrow we are up at 4.30 am to catch the only opening of the bridges on the route north between the two halves of the “butterfly” that is Guadeloupe.

We shall explore the mangroves, lagoons and reefs of Cul de Sac du Marin and head up to Antigua on Saturday hopefully on a beam reach for the 40 mile passage to English harbour.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Delighteful Deshaies

Deshaies is new to both of us and as the guide is not that enthusiastic about it we were prepared to be unimpressed but the check in is painless, the boulangerie is top class and a friendly but broke french yottie runs a morning croissant/petit pain au chocolat [ yum yum ] baguette delivery service so things are pretty good.

Gisela finally got her lobster dinner here in a charming little bistro run out of a very old wooden building in the street with the surf sounds on one side and some really loud frogs on the other.

We will be heading south to the The Cousteau Reserve by Pigeon Islands, three tiny islets in the middle of the reserve with some great snorkeling to look forward to. The abundance of wildlife in the area is thanks to the natural hot springs flowing in to the waters, creating a warm haven for fish and wildlife.

I will be looking for some kodak moments as I snorkle.

After that it is on to The Saints just south of the main island.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


It was a great sail over to over to Montserrat with a following wind and sparkling seas.

As we approached this great gray angled plain showed up on the East side of Montserrat,

at the time I thought it was the aftermath of a pyroclastic flow but later learned that it was a lehar or mud flow event. It had even pushed out some way into the sea and these events are reshaping the coast line of Montserrat and laying traps for unwary sailors. One of which ignored the warnings on the chart and 3 weeks ago went aground on the west side probably on a new sandbank from a mud flow.

Our guide to the Islands said that Joe Phillips AKA Avalon was the man to take the Island tour with and a call to Avalon on the VHF had him waiting for us as we cleared Customs and Immigration. There are less than 5000 people on the island and Joe seems to know them all. We stopped off at the new seat of government and saw the brand spanking new jail which had a been a priority for some reason. Still it is only EU money!

The Island is divided into zones and although Joe's house is untouched by the volcano so far it is in a no go zone. So he is building again and says he will be in by the coming Christmas, I think he will have to put in some serious hours to get it habitable.

Many of the locals forced out of the capital Plymouth relocated to the north and built a temporary wooden home as the scientists thought the eruption would last for five years, that was 15 years ago and it is still pushing out lava today and in February this year there was a spectacular eruption that sent ash to 50,000 feet and closed some airports in nearby islands. So many of these temporary houses are being rebuilt with cement blocks as people settle down in the North.

We stopped at the volcano observatory and watched a video chronicling the history of the eruptions since 1995 with many spectacular night time shots of the red hot ash and giant rocks rolling down the sides of the building dome.

Montserrats Soufriere volcano is an andesite volcano and does not produce the slow flowing red lava like the Hawaian ones, instead it produces ash and pumice style rock which looks grey by day as it dribbles down the sides of the dome but at night it glows as the very fires of hell.

Joe then took us into the area affected by one of the biggest dangers from this type of volcano, mud flows. One of the things that makes his tour special is that he has collected pictures of the area before the volcano blew,

such as this two story house which stood above the golf course .

Joe said that he thinks the next big rains will bring a mud flow that will cover the house up completely.

We walked on the roof after Joe showed us the house was full to the roofline with solidified material.

The recent one added about 2 feet to the existing deposit and was a boiling mud flow straight from the hot areas of the volcano, hot enough to turn to charcoal the wood it collected on it's way.

We then climbed up to the peak of Garibaldi with Joe having to give his little Toyota some real stick up the very steep track so we could look down on Plymouth. The houses and buildings are a memorial to a town that was. The swath of missing houses in the center was the result of a pyroclastic flow which leveled them and carried rocks the size of cars down to the sea.

A pyroclastic flow is a fluidized mixture of solid to semi-solid fragments and hot, expanding gases that flows down the flank of a volcano. These awesome features are heavier-than-air emulsions that move much like a snow avalanche, except that they are fiercely hot, contain toxic gases, and move at phenomenal, hurricane-force speeds, often over 100 km/hour. They are the most deadly of all volcanic phenomena.

The andesite rocks float and pose a new threat to navigation in the area.

The tongues of new land are growing out to sea with each flow from the volcano dome.

Joe drove us down the hill then went off roading down the mud flow that covered the golf course. This was on the “safe” side of Garibaldi and to prove it people actually live on both sides of the flow although they are cut off during every flow event.

We parked on the end of the old quay but were still a long way from the new waters edge. See the old and the new pics. Actually we had parked where there was ocean before and the only thing left was a bit of rusty pipe sticking from the mud which had held the light on the land side.

The mud flows have covered the quay and filled in the bay completely!

Back on the boat it was time to enjoy our evening meal, the sunset and the squabbling seabirds as they fought for squatters rights on this buoy.

Next day it was on to Deshaies, Guadaloupe, where we were greeted by a fine double rainbow.