Monday, January 31, 2011


We arrived safely in Antigua after another fast passage, averaging 7 knots from the pass out of Cul de Sac du Marin to the entrance to Falmouth harbour.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Inhabited from time to time for at least a 1000 years this tiny island off the South East coast of Guadeloupe is now uninhabited at least at night but by day the holiday makers arrive. We anchored there on Sunday and the beach was heaving with people mostly locals from Pointe a Pitre who come out for the day or the weekend if their boat has accommodation.

Our trip up was not without it's exciting and scary moment as I decided to leave the Saintes with a full main and staysail, expecting a 10 knot breeze but the local acceleration on the North end of the island combined with a squall line that I had not taken sufficient notice of gave us a 30 to 40 knots and a bad few minutes till we were able to depower the main and bear off while the squall passed. Still it was a reminder to me that I should tidy up my dumping ground shelf before we leave as it was spread all over the floor and some items made it into unusual places. I got an official “I told you so” from Gisela.

We anchored and enjoyed a sundowner. The following morning after a late start we had a job finding somewhere to get ashore on the mainland as the dinghy dock shown on the map is smashed and the obvious alternative has been blocked off by a large wire fence. I toyed with the idea of running ashore on the beach but as there was a swell running so I chickened out and we found a quiet spot on the island to get ashore and took the ferry over to the mainland. Gisela says she has never gone shopping for food as often as we do! I blame it on the need to buy bread everyday in the French islands although we have found a traditional loaf called Pain de Siecle which will keep for 2 -3 days.

Ashore on the mainland Gosier is a typical little, slightly scruffy, French holiday village but the murals are good and the church tower is modern and adorned with one of the best murals.

Not all the locals were talkative this one seemed a bit wooden

and this one definitely was.

On the island of Gosier the artwork is less professional, this was the lighthouse keepers house at one time, now abandoned as the light is automatic. Even the warning signs on the poisonous machineel trees have been defaced.

But the graffiti on this abandoned hull was somehow a work of some artistic value; at least I think so. It certainly brightened up the beach on the island.

We had a couple of comfortable nights here tucked up by the island and sheltered from the swells by the reefs that stretch out on both sides. The sound of the surf lulled us to sleep, such a change from the “BOOM BOOM BOOM rap music” blasting out from giant bass speakers on some other anchorages we have been in recently.

We will go through the canal, or river Salee as it is sometimes called, between the two halves of Guadeloupe and gunkhole around in the Cul ed Sac du Marin before jumping over to Antigua around the end of the month.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pelicans and gunkholing around the Saints

Terre D'en Bas

This island is part of the Saints but very undeveloped. There is only one good anchorage and it is sheltered from the North and East. We had a big easterly swell running so I thought we would go and explore this little corner of the Caribbean for a day or two.

The pilot guide mentioned the ruins of a pottery as being worth a visit and we dutifully trundled along the edge of the bay to view the usual piles of stone only to find an enchanted walkway constructed with love and effort inhabited by lots of very cute goats.

When we actually made it into the site of the old pottery we found a small archeology team at work under a lovely old professor with muttonchop whiskers. The professor took time off from his digging to show us around the site and explain what they were looking for which was to establish the original factory size and wall heights before they expanded.

The factory was established in 1760 to make molds for the sugar plantations. These “Pain du sucre” pottery jars were needed in large numbers and the owner had a profitable business up until the sugar crash of 1815.

The grinding circle where the donkey driven grindstone worked the raw clay into a fine paste, the drying beds, potters work stations and the kilns were all still there although the kilns needed some support after the earthquake of 2005.

We had the bay to ourselves for much of the day which surprised us as the main anchorage at Bourg had a big swell running and was pretty uncomfortable.

A tall ship Stad Amsterdam

was in Bourg when we returned and looked very authentic. A pleasant change from the floating multi story car parks with some sails stuck on as afterthought.

It measures 256 loa and was launched in 2000.

We saw it next day under sail, heading for Dominica.

Isle de Cabrits

We girded up our loins and hiked to the summit of the Isle de Cabrits to checkout Fort Josephine. The views were spectacular but other than a few cute pygmy goats snacking on fallen flowers there was little wild life to be seen other than land based hermit crabs.

PelicansThe pelicans kept us amused
with their seemingly kamikaze dives into the sea often right off the back of Elephants Child most of which were successful and sometimes netting [billing?] quite large fish which they would have to juggle round and choke down still wriggling.

I failed to get a decent picture of a dive.

Note to self learn how to use camera!

We are off to Gosier tomorrow.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


We took the local bus, a minibus as usual but it was airconditioned which is not usual for a bus, down to the capital Roseau. There were two cruise ships at the docks so the usual vendor and taxi feeding frenzy was taking place. Gisela and I have learned that if we just say "we are not from the ship" this seems to turn off the spiel.

We walked around the streets and it was amazing, by the time we got 100 yards inland from the docks area we were back into normal Dominican society with almost no trace of cruise ship visitors.

Wwe visited the Botanical gardens and hoped to see the endangered parrots but as they are apparently busy "BONKING" we were not allowed watch and had to tip toe past.

Instead we climbed Jack's Stairs to Morne Bruce a great view point overlooking the city.

Cabrits and Fort Shirly

Gisela said "not another fort" but we dinghied over and went exploring.

The first small battery appears to have been erected in about 1765. Then Thomas Shirley built the first major battery and supporting buidings in 1774-1778. From then on construction of the garrison was a sporadic affair till 1825 completing one fort, seven gun batteries, seven cisterns, powder magazines, ordnance storehouses, barracks and officer's quarters to house and provide for over 600 men on regular duty. With the end of hostilities between Britain and France, the garrison became obsolete and was finally abandoned in 1854.

Although the Cabrits never saw action, it succeeded as being a deterrent to attack on a number of occasions particularly during the French invasions of Dominica in 1795 and 1805. The most important naval battle in the Caribbean, the Battle of the Saints, 12 April, 1782, was fought within sight of the ramparts and Fort Shirley was the scene of the famous revolt of the 8th West India Regiment in 1802.

Fort Shirly is a bit over restored but we hiked to the Douglas battery and were enchanted to find it looking like it had not been touched since 1854.


The "Christmas Winds" blew through our anchorage for 48 hours with the smallest boat, the oddly named Flying Teapot

and the largest a freighter both dragging anchor and causing chaos and confusion.

The pic show the freighter heading out to sea and it was an hour or so before they got the engine[s] started and bought her back in. She dragged at least three times that day.

Sailing to the Saints

The wind dropped so we tucked in a reef and blasted up to the southerly islands of Guaeloupe called the Saints today.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


5000 + gallons of water wasted ??

Our first job in Dominica was to take on board water as we had empty tanks and Dominican water is some of the best and cheapest in the Caribbean. I have used this particular dock before and was prepared for the problems of coming in to something designed for cruise ships with the fenders up high and a couple of lines ready to throw to the security guard/water provider/dockmaster so as we could balance on a couple of the monster tires they use as fenders.

However it turned in to a total Chinese fire drill as the shore guy caught our bow line and immediately answered his mobile, becoming immersed in some vitally important conversation and ignoring our needs. Three times I drove us forward on to the essential double tire and gestured to him to take the bow line forward which he duly did then he would return to stand amidships of us and tie off the line to the monster bollard there, which of course allowed us to slip back of the tires. Gisela bravely scrambled ashore climbing up over a metre onto and across a giant tire to tie off our stern line and show him with appropriate gestures that the bow line HAD to go FORWARD of the bow to prevent us slipping off the double tire fender. Eventually he tied us off forward and we were ready to take on water.

After finishing his call he passed the hose to me but he could not turn on the water.

Eventually he phoned the Waterboard and an official arrived who decided that yes he could turn on the water but as he was here he was going to purge the lines and test for purity.

Now the system is set up to supply huge amounts of water to cruise ships and water tankers so the delivery pipe is about 6 inches across with some SERIOUS water pressure so when the official opened the big gate valve to purge the lines he sent a huge spray of water, nay a flood, nay a deluge a veritable torrent across Elephants Child instantly washing the salt spray off our decks. However he had not noticed that I had most of our hatches open and the spray went down below soaking everything.

Realizing his mistake he shut things down allowing me to close the hatches then using a different set of outlets proceeded to run off thousands of gallons and periodically checking the purity with a test strip. [ Did I mention that he put the strip in his mouth to hold it before using it.]

Still we got our water and are sitting quietly at anchor off the Big Poppas Beach Bar where we should get a wifi connection. [ Update no wifi at Big Poppas ] and reflecting on our visit to the volcano museum in St Pierre.

St Pierre

29,000+ burned to death in St Pierre 1902, why because a politician said it was safe! A thousand wise men and woman fled to safety and one convict survived badly burnt because his cell had thick walls and tiny windows.

Today 5,000 live and love here and many use bits of the buildings left over from the 1902 disaster. Even the showpiece exhibit of the theater has the indignity of a shed or chicken coop being built against it's famous walls.

We did our laundry in St Pierre and Elephants Child became a “Widow Twankie” for an hour or too as the trade winds blew our wash dry in next to no time.

We had a great sail up to Dominica covering the 55 nautical miles at an average speed in excess of 7 knots, easily our best average over that sort of distance. We even blew past some much larger yachts when conditions favored us but out in the channel between the islands their much greater waterline length soon had them powering past us.

Our popcorn and G&Ts were extra tasty that night as we enjoyed the sunset.

We have been trapped on board today with some serious rain and wind so I gave in and paid for some wifi [broke my Scottish heart it did!]

Monday, January 3, 2011


We waited in vain for a tall dark man bearing whisky, coal and siller to cross our threshold on New Years day so we went swimming instead.

We are anchored of Fort St Louis in Fort de France the capital of Martinique just now. It does not have the ambiance of Point a Pitre in Guadeloupe or even Castries but it is OK as a stopover.

It is disappointing that the French military still hold on to Fort St Louis and you can not walk around it.

I am not sure which intrepid French swashbuckler this is as someone had stolen the plaque but Gisela insisted that I mimic the pose.

We will be off to St Pierre tomorrow Tuesday to explore the ruins preserved there and perhaps, just perhaps, if we feel very fit and very adventurous, hike up to the caldera of Pelée the volcano that wiped out nearly every soul in St Pierre on that fatefull day in 1902 when a pyrochlastic flow rolled down it's slopes.