Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Arrived in the Saintes

We had a romp up to the Saintes of the Southern end of Guadeloupe. This has been one of my favourite stops in the islands but as they now DEMAND that you take one of their mooring balls and anchoring is not allowed off the main town or Cabrits Island I think I will be spending less time here in the future.

Monday, January 30, 2012


1.2 tonnes cocaine bust

The two yachts that were carrying 1.2 tonnes of cocaine between them are shown in the pics. They were shadowed chased and eventually forced to stop and boarded by the French douane when we were in Grand Anse d'Arlet watching all the activity.

It looks like they had some kind of tip off or info on the suspect yachts and were checking out anchorages and yachts at sea. However there does seem to be a heightened level of customs activity in French waters as we see more movements and more interceptions of vessels although not much is coming up on local nets.

One thing that is coming up on local nets esp. the St Maarten one is the triumphal arrival of Laura Dekker after her round the world cruise in Guppy. Kudos to her.

I have bemoaned the state of the anchorage here in Portsmouth Dominica on previous visits. The unsightly spectacle of rusting steel hulks lining the seafront and parts of the bay. I mentioned before that there seemed to be some small scale activity to clean up at least one of the smaller wrecks but I was wrong, there is a major project underway to cut up and cart away all the wrecks. They are working hard on this one and the plasma cutters are sputtering away turning once proud ships into manageable chunks of scrap metal.

Picking a day with no cruise ships in the bay we went over to the point and explored Fort Shirley as well as doing some exploring on the old cobbled roads laid by slave labor in the 1700s and 1800s.

But the most atmospheric of the locations is the Douglas battery overlooking the sound to the North that separates Dominica from the Saintes.

If it dawns fair tomorrow we will be off to the Saintes, a short 18 mile sail.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


What is the most unlikely thing you might expect to see in Dominica, in this little mountainous Caribbean island. I got a big surprise when I went to check in at customs. To keep the suspense going I will post the pic at the bottom.

The anchorage was full in the preferred corner out in front of the Purple Turtle. We managed to find a nice spot and had a peaceful night. I did not bother checking in on the afternoon when we arrived knowing that they are pretty laidback here. Not so laidback were the boat boys who, on spotting that I was only flying the Q flag, were on the attack waving local courtesy flags and warning of terrible customs retribution if I did not hoist the Dominica flag. Fat chance there I thought, I would be surprised if the customs boat has fuel! And if it does they have better things to do.

After checking in we went for a wander around Portsmouth, the street wise chickens were still there playing in the traffic, the dominoes game was as noisy as ever in the bus station car park and the rather strange lady who haunts the grocery store was still telling her story of the conspiracy that had robbed her of her mobile phones. The only surprise was the work going on at the seafront to cut up and carry away one of the many rusting hulks that decorate the seafront. I wonder if it is a private initiative and it is just someone improving their view or maybe just maybe the government is finally tidying things up.

Back in Martinique

Before we left St Pierre we explored the town looking for stonework that had survived the volcanic eruption of 1902 and feeling strange to walking over some of the cobbles that had been laid by slaves 200+ years ago.

A Trinidad and Tobago dragster – go figure what it is doing in Dominica, never mind the Caribbean, the customs guy certainly didn't. But there it was all covered in a neat custom made cover sitting on a trailer. The pic is of it in action. Where I know not but I can't believe it's Dominica.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Portsmouth well before sunset.

We arrived at Portsmouth, Dominica, mid afternoon having held the breeze untill we were 4 miles off the anchorage. I guess the decision to be a little further away from the blanketing affect of the mountains paid off.

The squadron I predicted left at dawn but we were a bit more civilized waiting till the hot morning drinks were taken.

Those who know me ALWAYS make sure I get my morning coffee fix.

Monday, January 23, 2012

St Pierre Martinique to Dominica.

We will be leaving for Dominica early on Tuesday January 24th It is a 50 mile sail from St Pierre up to Portsmouth bay. The wind is not ideal but it is as good as it is going to get in the next 10 days or so. We shall be part of a fleet of boats that have looked at the same forecast and made the same decision.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Stad Amsterdam and the Royal Clipper and a torn sail

After the Chopin we have had the Stad Amsterdam and the Royal Clipper square rigged cruise ships visit us. I got a good pic of the Stad Amsterdam at night all lit up. Reminded me of the Pirates of the Caribbean somehow.

The Royal Clipper went past me leaving Fort de France and hoisted a veritable cloud of canvas. The web site says that they can fly 42 sails and it looked like they were all hoisted and pulling that big lady along. I was on my way to pick up my mainsail in the dinghy so did not have a camera.

Tear in my mainsail

It was my own damn fault, I was cranking away on the mainsail halyard winch and it was a little slower going up than normal and somehow a panel near the head of the sail got trapped somehow on a shroud or maybe a running backstay. Anyway the result was a 6 inch near vertical tear in my mainsail.

It held up as we sailed over to Fort de France and where we were going to do some banking and get some dinghy fuel and now some sail repairs

So I had a sweaty afternoon getting it off the mast and into the dinghy. It was a real unwieldy load as I was reluctant to remove the full length battens as this requires dismantling the Battcars and then there will be problems getting the tension right on refitting. I have the sail setting just the way I want it at the moment.

But the good news was that the local sailmaker is right on the waterfront so I was able to deliver the sail from the dinghy straight into his workshop. The repair should be straight forward and he has promised it for Friday afternoon.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Fryderyk Chopin Ali Foil and a Wild Weekend

I saw an old friend motor into the bay and anchor, The Fryderyk Chopin, a Polish sail training ship operated by a private university in Poland.

“On 29 October 2010 the vessel is reported as in distress 100 miles off the Scilly Isles having lost both masts in gale force winds and heavy seas. It was on a three and a half month cruise from the Netherlands to the Caribbean with 47 crew aboard including 36 trainees aged 14 years. Although there was an engine the ship's master was unwilling to use it for fear of trailing debris snagging on the propeller. There were no reported injuries. The ship was towed into the sheltered waters of Falmouth Bay after 100 miles and three days on tow by a small fishing trawler the Nova Spero; whose Captain, Shaun Edwards answered the Mayday call”

I had been invited aboard when I saw her in the 90s and remembered how neat and tidy if functional she was and clearly needed a big crew to work the sails as she was set up in the same manner as the clippers in days gone by with crews climbing the mast then working their way out the yards with one hand for themselves and one for the ship.

She looks as if times might be hard now and cosmetic maintenance such as cleaning the rust off the anchor plates well down the agenda although she must have had her masts and sails renewed. But she is still working hard I guess, unlike me.

We were relaxing in the cockpit when someone swam over and asked to borrow some cooking foil for the barbecue.. Here she is swimming back with her prize in hand. The cruisers version of popping next door for a cup of sugar.

It has been a squally weekend with rainbows and colourful sunsets and the numbers of weekends crowding into the anchorage were down a little.

Still it is quiet here on Monday morning with the huge Privilege 745 catamaran dominating the scene. Judy and I disagree over the multitude of lights bordering the decks and ports she displays at night , I think they are 'naf' but she likes them. I suppose they might be OK at least they don't flash or change colour. I have seen boats with displays that do both.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Just another day in paradise is the cruisers lament.

We were entertained this morning by this two masted square rigger getting under way with the sun shining on tanbark sails and people busy on the yardarms, a sight that evoked the days of wooden ships and iron men from centuries past.

But it was time to stop lollyagging around and a snorkel on the wall south of the bay was next on the agenda. We dinked over and were soon in the crystal clear water. This spotted box fish posed nicely for me. I had seen a lionfish here last year and thought it was a common sighting but since learned that it was one of the first sightings of this invasive and damaging predator this far South, however there were none on display this time around.

At the going down of the day I had the opportunity to act as a quality control inspector on the Lords of the Sunset and as you can see their offering was of a high standard. No green flash but a long and changing offering. A score of 9.7 I think.

Friday, January 6, 2012

St Lucia to Martinique.

Of all the people that might anchor right over the top of our anchor and hamper our attempts to leave it was surprising to see Chris Doyle, the doyen of the Caribbean Cruising guides slide in right in front of us and drop anchor so as to settle back and sit on ours. This despite acres of anchoring space.

Still he hung on and maneuvered clear of us as we up anchored and left for Martinique. The strong and blustery winds of the last weeks had abated and we had full sail up. We romped up, covering the 20 odd miles in 3 and a bit hours without it being too stressful. But no whales , no dolphins and only a few baby flying fish to show that there was life in the ocean.

Turning in to Marin I checked out the Club Med but alas the topless volleyball courts were empty, in fact the sun loungers were empty, the beach was empty and the only people on show were a few hardy types in the bar along with a mastless French race boat anchored tight to the beach.

Cul de Sac du Marin is a peaceful anchorage from the point of view of having flat water and shelter from the trades but we are being serenaded tonight by some loud African style drumming and Judy is alarmed by the number of boats running through the anchorage without lights.

Still we will look forward to visiting the local bakery in the morning for a croissant and a cup of breakfast chocolate.


Well we did not make it in to the bakery for croissants but did visit the patissiere for a baguette and sticky cakes for lunch. Tarte aux pommes and myrtille crumble yummmmmmm.

As we relaxed in the cockpit for sundowners I had a moment of real biting nostalgia and a wish I could turn back time to my hang gliding days. As the sun set a couple of paragliders took off and started working a small bowl above out anchorage. How I wished I was up there with them flying around clouds washed pink by the setting sun and enjoying total freedom.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


The wind direction on Wednesday looks like the best we are going to get for about ten days so we are off to Martinique and hope to make Cul de Sac du Marin in a single tack.

Took Judy over to Jambe de Bois bar on Pidgeon Island and we had a look at Josset Leigh's ruined house. She lived on the island on and off for 40 years. She was quite the entertainer and her parties legendary. During WWII she ceded her deed to the island to the British, but it was restored to her after. Later, she gave the land to the St. Lucians and retained only her house on the point. She left St. Lucia in 1976 and most of her house was destroyed by the last hurricane to hit the island in 1980.

We watched the sunset from her patio, if I listened really hard I thought maybe the party was still going.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


After the rather cramped confines of Marigot Bay it was nice to pull into the wide sweep of Rodney Bay, an anchorage that could have comfortably housed the whole of the British fleet in it's Caribbean heyday.

We soon were anchored up in front of the yacht club and with a sundowner in hand were watching the sunset in peace.

But our peace was rudely destroyed by some late arriving boats who proceeded to charge about the anchorage at high speed and anchoring seemingly at random. At one point a high energy impact looked certain, but they missed just. The shouting was pretty good though!

Things quietened down for a while but there was a thunderous fireworks display to bring in the new year.

We tootled into the marina next day and met Patrick & Amanda on Egret, a Sweden Yachts 390, who had just completed their transatlantic passge sans rudder. Kudos to them for a great bit of proper seamanship where others have just jumped aboard the first passing ship in similar situations.