Saturday, June 26, 2010


I have been up and down like a yoyo closing the hatches with every squall at night. The dinghy has had to be bailed out most days and timing the runs ashore have required a good look upwind to guage how dark the clouds are.

Still it is warm and who cares if it is raining when you are swimming or scrubbing the awning down. Saves having a shower or rinsing the soap off from the awning.

I had wanted to get a check up and blood test to see what my cholesterol levels are doing so had planned to stay this week and get this done. Good results with everything except my triglicerides being within limits. Even my triglicerides are coming down.

The young sailors from the yacht club are a fearless lot, blowing 25 knots and black squalls cutting viz down to almost zero and they are still out there. There is at least one safety boat out with them but I am amazed at how self reliant they are, righting their Opies and Lazers, bailing furiously and carrying on to the next mark.

Mind you not all casualties of the squalls are able to carry on, this one will need a new roller furler, headsail and some work from a rigger before they are off again.

I am off tomorrow down to Marigot Bay then St Vincent on Monday and Bequia by Tuesday.

Sunday, June 20, 2010



Down to my last pair of clean underpants it was time to find a laundry. The recommended "SUDS" operation was closed so I put out a call for the next operation on the list. These guys picked up from the boat, washed dried folded and double wrapped in polythene. They then delivered it back to the boat apoligising for taking a day longer then they said. They were HALF the price of the other operation. Guess who is getting the business the next time I am here. Sparkle is the MAN.

The Briq Unicorn

I have seen this very atmospheric 2 masted briq taking punters out for their sunset sails for a few days and being filled with 'satiable curiosity' went over for a closer look and a chat with one of the crew.

He told me it was used as the Henrietta in the Disney "Pirates of the Caribbean" film and appeared in "Dead man's chest". But he said although this ship wasn't used as the Black Pearl some of the scenes were filmed on its decks.

So I suppose if you were looking for a sunset jolly then this would be preferable to one of the many big catamarans that they fill with punters then fill the punters with rum.

I then had a closed look and was more than a little concerned about what I saw. It is definitely in need of a major refit and some new planking. It has holes in it!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


The lords have been taking it easy for a while but they got their brightest palette out last night and painted the skies with gay abandon.

It was very spectacular and the punters on the sunset cruiseboats had a real treat.

This was as good as I can ever remember seeing.

This pic reminds me that I must retire my red ensign.

Tonight was special too and a few seconds after I took this pic I was treated to one of the better green flashes. A better wordsmith described the flash thus.

"a green which no artist could ever obtain on his palette, a green of which neither the varied tints of vegetation nor the shades of the most limpid sea could ever produce the like! If there is a green in Paradise, it cannot be but of this shade, which most surely is the true green of Hope" (Jules Verne)

For the people like me who have to know how things work here is a technical explanation.

NB Click on pic to enlarge it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


These were taken back in Cul de Sac du Marin in Martinque and show a very large catamaran being lifted out of the water by a pretty Heath Robinson contraption.

Still it does the job.

I have had some quiet nights here anchored of the Rex and the Yacht club in Rodney Bay. It is as good as I remember it being. That is after they pulled the plug on the amps in Gros Islet on Friday night. Mind you the first wave with "potential" is sitting out there in the Atlantic and Noaa give it a 50% chance of becoming a storm.

And finally someone found a new use for Duct tape. You know the stuff that is like the force in Star wars, has a dark side and a light side and holds the world together.

Friday, June 11, 2010


After a couple of wild weather days where we had 40 knot squalls ripping through the anchorage in Martinique, causing much dragging of anchors and multilingual cursing Friday looked much better so I checked out and had a very relaxing sail down to St Lucia.

Elephants Child was barely heeled, the swell was right down, less than a metre, and we were still doing 6 knts plus. It was also nice to be passing other boats. This usually only happened on my previous boat if the boat we passed had gone aground or had a VERY dirty bottom.

The check in was very professional but needed much filling in of paper based forms and took more than an hour. Still it cost half what I was expecting so that was good.

The sunset was above average but no green flash. I wonder if the guys on the sunset sail for the punters were envious of the square rigger who actually had some canvas unfurled. It too is a party boat.

However I had arrived on Friday and the village of Gros Islet holds its famous 'Jump Up' street party on Friday soooo I guess I will not get much sleep till much later.

I will leave you with a little conundrum.

How do you think they get this boat onto its pontoon?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Cul de Sac du Marin in Martinique not the one in Guadeloupe.

It is a strange and sometimes confusing fact that place names are repeated over and over again throughout the Caribbean eg.Cul de Sac du Marin, Soufriere, Georgetown, Cabrit, etc.

But I am in the southeast corner of Martinique anchored off the center of the charter boat industry in Martinique and from the number of charter boats at the dock or at anchor the charter industry is not doing well here.

I passed the world famous Martinique Club Med village on my way in and guess what, not a guest in sight, in fact it looked completely deserted but somehow not dilapidated. Perhaps this is their shutdown month or perhaps they are not doing well either.

I met my friends on the Polish/Canadian boat Lala and they have been living in interesting times with a leak which gave them a bilge full of water, a failed bilge pump and this led to a their transmission failing so they have to sail everywhere now. To get to their transmission means a big dismantling job then cutting out the cockpit floor with a chain saw. Still they are not dismayed. I offered to “buddy boat” them down on the next legs of their trip South to Grenada but they have to do school stuff in Martinique for a while so I will not be needed.

However I felt I was needed by some furry friends, first of all he needs to get rid of his fur coat

and they need a home. I was sorely tempted as they were cute and socialised but NO.

Marin is home to quite a few of the less well off cruising community, and their boats do tend to reflect this.

This is actually a ferrocement boat but painted to look wooden with an interesting problem at the bow.

This one is less seaworthy than most but still a home for someone.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Grande Anse D'Arlet

It has been there, waiting in my mind, since 1995, the last time I slept at anchor in Grande Anse D'Arlet, a dream that I would again sail along the coast of Martinique and pull in to the tranquility of this beautiful place.

So I did the check in bit at St Pierrre, shopped for some good cheese and rillette before heading down from St Pierre to see if my beautiful place was now full of T shirt vendors and the jump up, all the rum you can drink, catamarans full of pink cruise ship people who were shuttling the willing sheep onto the perfect beach from the floating car parks.

As the anchorage was open in St Pierre I sailed the anchor out and even fell off on to the right tack. The wind was fluky to begin with but I stood off a mile or so and picked up a steady breeze which gave me 5 knots, then 6 and we touched 7 a few times all in flat water. A great sail down the coast past Fort de France and as I rounded up into the Anse I could see that there had been some development but nothing hideous and the white zits of mooring buoys were only a very minor outbreak.

The Anse is also home to a fishing village and they were out in force early in the morning, some with ring nets and some pulling fish pots. One guy seemed to be hunting for something with a glass bottomed bucket in the middle of the bay. Later on I saw him pull up a fishpot so I guess someone had run over his buoy and cut the line.

On the way in I saw these sad sites. I wonder if the AWB was a charter boat or someones shattered dreams. The steel boat certainly was not a charter boat. It was interesting to see that it was almost intact and could have still be refloated while the AWB has lost its keel and has gaping holes in the sides. Mind you some of those might have been cut to aid the removal of the engine.

There are lots of the cruising community, mostly French, gathered here and in a variety of boats although he percentage of steel boats is higher than average. There are 2 or 3 manufacturers in France and while they might not be the prettiest or fastest boats around they do the job.


It was always a good spot and if anything the coral variety seems even greater than I remember.

Got a good shot of the trumpet fish.

This spiky frilly vase was new to me.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Seven potentially active volcanoes dominate the Dominican landscape and as Montserrat shows you can never be totally at ease on an island like this especially when you are walking up to one of the old forts that litter these islands and the ground goes all shaky pudding on you. The guide at the fort said that they have been having these small quakes all year.

But the people are laid back at least at this end of the island, perhaps in Roseau the cruise ships will give a bit of “giddie up” to the vendors but here when I went looking for some limes having missed the early morning market a lady in a little shop kindly went and picked half a dozen off her tree and presented them to me and then apologized for not having any of the meats that I was after but directed me to the house of someone who had just killed a bullock and had beef to spare.

I missed the market as I decided to move anchorage due to the swell and of course as the normal winds and waves return it is a case of moving back so I am sitting just off the Purple Turtle and the sea breeze effect is just dying down and boats are pointing everywhere. I am debating lazily with myself about putting out a stern anchor to hold me bow to the swell.

Well I did put out the anchor and it did its job holding me bow on to the swell but in the small hours I was awake and rolling again. I thought I might just need to adjust the anchor but a pull on the rode showed I was no longer in contact with the anchor and the rode was frayed through. I was lucky enough to find the missing anchor next morning after a short snorkel and it was duly recovered. It was also a reminder as to the need to anchor on chain out here in coral country. The lump that cut through my stern anchor rode was not large but it did the job in less than a day.

Anyway I am trucking on South as hurricane season starts officially on Tuesday and I am further North than I like to be. Roseau for a night and then St Pierre in Martinique.

JUNE to soon
JULY take care
AUGUST you must
SEPTEMBER remember
OCTOBER all over

This is the bit of doggerel that gives you an idea of the relative frequency of storms in the Caribbean.


Well Roseau was really rolly and to cap it all the only anchoring space there is now full of mooring buoys so I was forced into taking one. I hate doing this without diving on the mooring to check it out but as the depth sounder showed 135 feet I knew this was one that I would have to take on trust.


A fast sail down to St Pierre and I could see that the big swell that had been disturbing the quiet anchorages of Dominica was going down. St Pierre was made famous in 1902 when the local volcano sent a pyroclastic flow over the town and anchorage killing almost everyone there and laying waste the buildings.

Even the stoutly built church did not survive the flow and more than half the church was destroyed. It was eventually rebuilt but with a tin roof and less impressive towers.