Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hurricane Earl

Hurricane Earl stayed just low enough to give the extreme northern islands a lot more than a scare. It could have been worse as the eye did pass just to the North which meant that the islands got the winds in the south side of the hurricane which are less due to the westerly movement of the storm.Winds on the North side being typically 20 to 25 knots higher.

However many boats have been sunk on their docks or driven ashore. Roadtown Anguilla reports eight out of ten freighter/ferries ashore and the commercial docks in Roadtown in the BVI seems to have been very badly hit. The sunken boats picture is from there.

Anchorages open to the South or West seemed to have suffered the most.

This boat was on a mooring in Sopers Hole. [ AKA West End ] It looks like little was done to prepare it for the hurricane as the sails are still on the booms and the cockpit sides are fitted. All of which should have been stripped off along with the deck stuff, it all creates windage.

Elephants Child was kept on a mooring in Chocolate Hole and reports say that only one boat is left afloat there; the rest have been driven ashore and some are holed.

Anegada seems to have had the hardest hit with services still out and only the sketchiest of reports coming in. No reports of deaths anywhere so far.

Duley and Flora Disco and the dog on Folk Lauric should be OK as they were in the inner lagoon in St Maarten but reports are still sketchy and the designated Stormcarib reporter has posted pictures of her uprooted palm trees from her garden and not the lagoon or anchorages.

My haulout is cancelled B*******R
Looking at boats on the beachputs things into perspective but I was not a happy bunny on Monday when the boatyard said they could not haul me for "logistical" reasons.

Ah well it is the Caribbean, it will get done, just on island time though.


Fiona is on her way and Gustav may be the next one out of the Cape Verdes hurricane factory as a wave with some convection is slowly getting organised down the near the ITZ.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


He had to go and say it had been a quiet hurricane season. Well the Cape Verdes hurricane gun has just got into rapid fire mode and we have three on the go.

Danielle missed, Earl is going to scare the Northern Leewards and who knows about the one 2000 miles East.

Still the models show a generally WNW track for it once it gets going so no panic yet.


I dinghied round to Woburn today to get some books and passed through Hog Island anchorage and it was good to see that it is not all manicured grounds and houses no local can afford.

Rodgers beach bar is still going strong. I will take Gisela there for one of their famous "Oil Downs".

Grenada's national dish is called "oil-down". It�a simple, delicious and robust dish, which is very popular in local restaurants. It's a hearty one-pot meal (think stew) of salted meat, chicken, dumplings, breadfruit, callaloo ((KAL-la-loo) - made from young dasheen leaves) and other vegetables. The whole thing is stewed in coconut milk, herbs and spices to add even more flavour.

Prickly Bay where I have been hanging out has mostly a particular flavour of boat types, newer boats being actively cruised,

Hog Island has some floating homes, some in need of paint and some which may never see another port.

Made a new friend at lunch today. I think her name is mooch. She is soo cute I could have stolen her for my ships cat.

I missed the sunset tonight but the moonrise was impressive.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010



We have had a couple of days of light and variable winds so Elephants Child has been wandering around her anchor. I was sitting having breakfast and notice that relative to my neighbors I have moved sideways a bit, now this is not a worry as I think I am lying to chain and as soon as we get a bit of a blow things will sort themselves out. But it did not happen so I decide to investigate and discover that somehow I have got the chain wrapped around a fishpot which in turn was snagged on some large lump of rusty machinery which was probably someones mooring at some time.

It was easy enough to winch the whole lot to the surface but it proved impossible to unwrap the chain until I had cut off the old mooring [FIGHT and SWEAT]and lifted the fishpot with a line [ STRUGGLE and SWEAT] and taken the strain of the anchor chain with another line. STRAIN WAIT Noooooo. No Straining why at this point I remembered a recent discussion on a sailing forum about hernias. So I dismantled the fishpot with a hammer and eventually sorted out the rats nest of lines.


I have seen this gorgeous old boat throughout the islands as we have leapfrogged over each other on our way South. She has had a variety of crew members onboard but it was just the owner and her local crew Andrew on board this morning when she eased her way into Prickly Bay under power to anchor amongst the motley crew already here. But it all went horribly wrong as she turned into wind and hit reverse only to hear much grinding of metal but no drive in either forward or reverse. I heard the anguished call on the VHF for anyone with a big engine on their dinghy to help her onto a mooring. So off I went and was amongst the early attenders this time and we soon had here safely attached to a mooring.

I was invited onboard to inspect the gearbox and it was soon plain that the bolts holding coupling on the back of the box had come undone and the coupling was in fact somewhat damaged. [ Rats!! somehow it has got about that I know one end of a spanner from another.]

In conversation it came out that she was a new build finished in 2008 in Ipswich from Spirit Yachts, A traditional boat above the waterline with a very modern look below and lots of performance.


Well my passport renewal is in Washington but it went via the following stops.

St George's, Grenada

Port Of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago

Maiquetia, Venezuela

Panama City, Panama

Miami Gateway, FL

Cincinnati Hub, OH

Washington - Ronald Reagan National, DC

Had I known this was the route my application would follow, in advance, I would have been really really worried!

Saturday, August 21, 2010



who had been overdue limped into Grenada a couple of days ago with a broken backstay. As this was also his radio aerial he was out of touch with the local coconut radio net who were monitoring his progress and had posted a watch for him. He was anchored close by in St Maarten and I was glad to see him anchor close by me today in Prickly Bay. I am sure I will hear the “There I was” story soon.

Ronnie Simpson was competing in the singlehanded TransPac to Hawaii. He was second in his class. On the way back to the USA his keel dropped off 800 miles offshore. Fortunately his borrowed Jutson 30 was wide and had water ballast capabilities. Somehow he kept it upright and as the weather was pretty benign he managed to blag some diesel of a passing freighter then set off to motorsail 800 miles home.

It has been the last thing I checked before shutting down and the first I looked at when logging on for the last week.

What makes it an even more amazing story is that Ronnie is a vet with limited vision who is still working to overcome injuries sustained in Iraq.

In June 2004, an enemy-fired Rocket Propelled Grenade blew up within feet of me, while I manned a .50 cal machine gun on top of a Humvee in Fallujah, Iraq. I sustained life threatening injuries, and was subsequently put into a medically induced coma, with a machine to breathe for me. I would remain like this for 18 days, where I woke up to my mother, father, and brother in Texas. My left lung, eyes, gastro-intestinal system, and left ear were severely damaged. I had taken burns and shrapnel, and was bandaged up pretty much everywhere. When I woke up, I didn’t know what was going on, had a tube down my nose (to my stomach; not as comfortable as it sounds), I was hooked up to oxygen, I could not eat or drink for over a month, and I had to be strapped into a chair to sit or else I would fall out. Because I could not eat, I went from 185 lbs. to 119 lbs. I thought I was going to waste away and die. Doctors did not know how my body would recover from the devastating blast injuries.

He could have abandoned the boat and jumped on a passing freighter or Coastguard Vessel. Instead he chose to sail on with one hand on the liferaft and grab bag and the other on the boat.


I finally assembled all the documents for my passport renewal and it is off to the British Embassy in Washington DC. My fingers are crossed as the requirements given on the web site are often contradictory and it was hard to fathom out what to do.

They came through big time for me. I needed two small clevis parts to replace those I lost while beating upwind from Montserrat to Deshaies in Guadaloupe. I had tried to source them in Grenada but could only buy the whole assembly with the screw at $125 US [ouch]. I asked Mack Sails if they could supply the clevis parts on there own. There only response was to ask for my location and address. 2 days ago these arrived. BOOYAH. Invoice total 0.00 BOOYAH BOOYAH!


An old colleague who had overcome his alcoholism a decade or so ago and had been sober for all those years committed suicide while he was on a major bender. What makes it worse is that he leaves behind a wife who has pretty serious early onset dementia. In his last email he did say that she still recognized him on some days.


I had met Jason while flying in Florida last year after knowing him through the forums on RCUniverse. For some years now he has been regarded as one of the best RC pilots in the world and had some serious sponsorship as well as membership of the US team for the upcoming Pattern Worlds. But he has just lost it all. Why he was one of 15 men arrested in a FBI sting set up on Craigslist. After driving to Polk County he expected to have sex with a woman and her 14-year-old niece. He requested that the woman and her niece wear sundresses with nothing on underneath them and to meet him at a convenience store. Instead, Jason was met by Sheriff's detectives. He has admitted to the charges. Not much choice it was all on his Iphone! I believe he is being held on a suicide watch.

Bloody bloodsucking little bastards have somehow made it out to the boat! I always try to anchor a fair way out from any shore to avoid getting mosquitoes on board and it has worked here in Prickly Bay for some time but the last 3 mornings I have woken up to find the little sods have been drilling on my posterior. NOT GOOD!

##No bum pictures by public request so it is another sunset or looking at it another way I like watching the blue draining out of the sky.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Butterflies Bee Hummers Stingo sighting and Carnival thefts


I got off my duff this morning and went for a walk along the eastern arm of Prickly Bay. Lots of impressive houses and impressive security with at least one patrol vehicle who slowed down and eyeballed me

I was taking pics of flowers when I realised that what I was looking at was not n odd flower with some kind of random arrangement of petals but a group of sleeping butterflies.No idea what kind as the butterfly recognition stuff relies on dead pinned specimens and they look so different alive with their wings folded.

The next surprise I got was a punchup of the tiny feathered kind. I knew right away that they were hummingbirds but they were moving around so fast in some kind of aerial ballet or dog fight that I could not even tell what colour they were. They were probably fighting over territory as I read that they are a stroppy lot.

The last pic is from the WWW.

I have about 50 pics showing blank sky or bushes and one or two streaks, these little suckers motor. I did not get one useable shot even on the motorwind option!

I got a pic of a hummer a little further on as they were quite a number around a big house which had feeders everywhere.

The ones having the punch up were really tiny and I thought they were bee hummers but that is not likely as they are usually only found in Cuba.

Still they were a surprise on this quiet early morning stroll.

Stingo sighting.

Trapped in the staffroom back in Luton and dreaming of sailing the Caribbean again I would be on the forums soaking up the chat and one of the regulars was this guy with the avatar Stingo. I enjoyed his posts as they were often witty and sometimes sardonic. Now as any real ale drinker in the UK knows Stingo is a very strong Yorkshire ale brewed by Sam Smiths and is really pricey. So for some reason I assumed Stingo was a Yorkshireman. It turns out that he is from South Africa a computer programmer retired in his forties and now goes cruising; a lot!

I had a couple of beers with him and his cat called "Cooking Fat". Nice cat shame about the name. I was slightly curious about the large bowl of marbles then it dawned on me that they were kittylitter.

The next is an excerpt from one of his posts.

p.s. It's always great fun when people with those nasty little mini adults pop in for a visit and start playing with the marbles. After a few minutes they always ask why I have marbles. Seeing the expression on their faces when I say "that is where Cooking Fat sh*ts" is almost worth the irritation of having the little darlings aboard.

Carnival Thefts

Lots of chat on the VHF about the cruisers who had their pockets professionally picked while they were in the Carnival Crush.

They reckon it might be some organised gang that follows the carnival circuit around the Caribbean. Two people had their pockets cut open with something very sharp and several others were just picked.

Monday, August 9, 2010


It was no good, the cravings are too strong. I have to admit that I am a hopeless addict.

Here I freely agree to the first step of 12

admitting that one cannot control one's addiction or compulsion

I woke and I just had to have a Chinese. Rotis and stew fish are OK but I craved some Hot and Sour soup.

So for lunch I walked up to Choo's Chinese not expecting too much as the others I have tried out here were OK but not great.

The walk was along a road with magnificent displays of flowers. But the flowers were not getting it all their own way, there were lots of these big boys munching away, he / she was a good 4 inches long.

When I got to Choos I was concerned, it was lunch hour, the prices were low and the place was empty not a single diner. This is not a good sign I thought to myself.

Still the Doyle cruising guide recommends it so I thought I will try it out. And it was a long hot walk back to the boat and cheese sandwich.

The menu arrived instantly the drinks shortly after and then it was a while before my soup arrived. But it was worth waiting for, at least a 9 if not 9 and 1/2.

The main course was good to but that was a great bowl of soup,

Mind you they were american size portions, I should have asked for a doggy bag!

J'ouvert or Jab-Jab or Devil Mas

Bands emerge from the darkness of the night to parade freely through the town.

Blackened with stale molasses, old engine oil, tar, grease, creosote or mud, and wearing little more than their horned helmets, these masqueraders set out to terrify onlookers with their grotesque appearance and repulsive dances or so the carnival guide said.

The last time I was here they would make forays into the crowds leaving black marks where ever they ran. Some even carried live snakes.

But this time they were better behaved and as well as the traditional black horned guys there were bright blue and green marchers.

I did not stay very long at J'ouvet as this mornings carnival parade was called, too noisy, too crowded and too many people in need of a 12 step plan. I am just not a wild party animal.

Friday, August 6, 2010


It has been a frustrating few days. I gave in and bought a island prepaid phone got it home and the screen goes blank. I need to renew my passport and to do that I need some docs from the UK. No problem, Fedex can do it so I bus in only to be told that cash is no good they need a card and thay are sorry but AMEX will not do nicely sir. Back home to get a suitable card back to the Fedex office and the deal is done with pichup times to be confirmed. They then email me to cancel saying they can't do it at all. Go ashore to the payphone again get through to DHL who at first say they can do it but when I ask them to check with a supervisor No Can DO. AArrgghhhh.

However Carol comes through for me and offers to take the docs to the DHL office. I schlep ashore again and check the precise address needed with the DHL office. Email Carol the address and go snorkeling to get my blood pressure down a bit. Carol emails me to tell me the address is no good and they want numbers. Why the DHL office in the UK could not look uo the Grenada DHL address I do not know as it is a hold for pickup at the office job. AArrgghhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh yes the phone was promised for Wednesday and it is now Friday and no phone.

Oh well I will do a bit of boat fixing I think, just need some connectors to do a proper job, so off to the chandlers only to find they have oodles of males and no females, how strange.

SNORKELING It was the first time I got close to the private lighthouse on the very posh eastern arm of Prickly Bay. It is only illuminated if the owner feels like it.

I have been a few times since the Keys but today was the first location I found with good viz even though the surge was considerable and as I was working around some coral heads I had to watch not to be sucked on to one.

This coral head was very green and somehow reminded me of flying over Pen-Y-Ghent in the Yorkshire dales on my hanglider.


UBUNTU and LALA left this morning to go round to St Georges so they can get in and out for Carnival but Stingo, Spirited Lady and the magificent Fife built schooner Astor snuck in behind me.


The wind switched around this evening to a very light westerly so I was able to take some pics looking through the rigging from the cockpit.

Fixed a few things today so it was a good day, Carol says she will try again and the world is a little less frustrating.

The G&T is really cold and tastes just Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh as the sun disappears.

Monday, August 2, 2010

FISH GET IT, BOGOF at B&Q and I follow the Motel 6 sign off line.

Uh Uh it is a depression and should make at least storm status by the time it passes near Antigua.

All the prediciton models seem to show it curving North and as a UK weatherman famously said " It's a fish storm" so no worries down here.

It was clearly a "Buy One Get One Free" at the celestial paint store where the Lords of the Sunset do their shopping.

It just got more spectacular.

40 minutes or so of sunset.

The Lords signed off with this bright intense BLUE ray which seemed to radiate upwards from the point of sunset.

The Motel 6 ads sign off with "We'll leave the light on for you."

I have a automatic anchor light which senses the night and switches the light on which is a good thing when you are trying to find YOUR boat in a crowded anchorage. But one night it failed, the bulb was blown. A new bulb was fitted but no good, no light in the dark. A trip to the chandlery gave me sticker shock so dredging up my basic electronics I worked out that the problem was the photoelectric diode. $1.99 at Radio Shack v $159.

Some cruiser once said "Cruising is boat maintenance in exotic locations".

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Uh Uh Uh

Looks like that potential storm will become official this afternoon or evening.

Time to check the engine and routing for the local hurricane harbour or even Trinidad just in case Colin comes visiting.

The sooner if forms the better as once they get spinning they ALMOST always turn north.

If I was in Antigua now I would be worried!