Tuesday, May 29, 2012


We had a fast sail down to Martinique, well fast once we got out of the wind shadow of Dominica. About midway across the channel between Dominica and Martinique one of the two trolling line went taught and a beautiful sailfish exploded from the wake behind us and just as fast the line tightened then went slack, broken off or bitten off I don't know. Anyway the sailfish was gone as was the pink squid lure. Just as we hit the top of Martinique though the other line went tight and we hauled in this fat fellow.
Due to the size of the eyes we were not sure if we had a variety of tuna which are good eating or maybe a big eyed jack which are bony and not nearly so good. We put him to the taste test along with some fresh green beans from Dominica and indeed he was good eating so a tuna!

St Pierre Martinique It was on the 8th of May 1902 that Pele blew it's top and the pyroclastic flow killed about 20,000 people in and around St Pierre, all except the famous prisoner who was in this jail cell. Sandy was not persuaded to enter and relive his moments.
The place was 'en fete' remembering the days of the eruption, so much was closed, in fact Sandy said “I have never seen some where so closed!” . We were lucky enough to find the small museum open though and were soon wandering through the stories of buccaneers, sea battles, 19th century sophistication and mercantile affairs that fashioned St Pierre into the most important port in the Antilles until that fateful morning. Also the aftermath of carbonized corpses, melted glass and crushed church bells.

Grand Anse D'Arlet
Tucked up in the north corner of my favorite anchorage. The holiday is over and the powerboats with their ' deck fluff ' as Sandy calls the young ladies who pout, preen and pose on the decks and for whom the act of drying off with a towel is a carefully choreographed series of actions each designed to show herself off to best advantage, have all left for Fort de France. Peace reigns again in this little corner of paradise, with cruisers going about the serious business of the day. In our case checking in here at the beach bar.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Dolphins have been scarce this time around but one hit the bow wave for a little while as we came around the headland at Prince Rupert bay. We were only doing 4 knots so he/she did mot stay long as they like boats doing 7 knots for a good bow wave surf. Still it was good to see one, it shows that there is still some mammalian life out here in the sea.

SCRAP STEEL One of the things that has characterized Portsmouth and the Prince Rupert bay waterfront in Dominica is the necklace of rusting wrecks that garlanded the shoreline. Well the CARMAR operation that I saw starting to cut them up and cart them off somewhere has been working hard and they are almost all gone.
Here are before and after shots of the Portsmouth waterfront and that big old green rusting wreck is just gone! A WALK IN THE WOODS

We went for a walk in the woods above Fort Shirley today. It has been raining quite a lot recently [ Sandy says I KNOW! ] and this tree stump and log have grown a good crop of fungi.

The Douglas battery overlooking the Saintes was as atmospheric as always. I learned that the Ficus trees loved the walls of the old buildings because of the lime in the mortar. But they soon sought out water and other nutrients through their root systems which sometimes produced angular alterations in direction that were almost mathematical in their exactitude.

It was easy to feel the age of the walls and the guns as the flora and fauna of Dominica reclaimed the battery from the soldiers and the slaves and imprint of man fades from the land.


As we walked over the coll to the Douglas battery there is an area of cleared land at the top. Two years ago it was just raw earth, a road had been cut and graded through the trees, some serious machinery had cut down the trees, grubbed out roots and scraped away anything green. I had thought that this was strange as it is a Dominican National Park but maybe they were going to build something out of sight. I have asked several park workers and they all play dumb on the subject, some even denying knowledge of the clearing. Anyway nature is fast reclaiming the clearing with thick brush and many saplings already competing for light. No sign of any building or any other use of the land. But no one will say what it is for. It is a mystery!

We are off down to St Pierre Martinique on Sunday. A long sail!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


It really has rained an unusual amount but after some overnight rain Saturday dawned fair and the local regatta got off to a good start with a couple of downwind starts. The finishes were often close and judging from the squealing that was emitting from some boats, the mixed crews were not taking things TOO seriously.
We hiked up to Fort Josephine on the Isle de Cabrits passing through a snowstorm of butterflies that were feeding on the blossoms bought about by the recent prolific rains. I don't think that there is any professional restoration and or conservation work going on but there is a lone potter working away making wall vases and other simple stuff who seems to be doing some general tidy up work. Anyway I wonder how much longer this window with it's simple arch and loose keystone will survive.
Sunday [ Fair again Sandy does not belive that this normal ] saw us off to make the longer climb toFort Napoleon on the main island Terre Haut. I knew Sandy would like the variety of flora on offer and I had hopes for a bit of local fauna however the iguanas failed to put on a show. This shows Elephants Child
tucked up behind the hill known as Pain De Sucre. I might have anchored there anyway as it rolls less than the town anchorage and masts there were moving as we made the long dinghy ride in to town from Sugar Loaf, however the the $20 US a night for the compulsory moorings was the real factor.

We are down in Dominica now, having taken advantage of a brief shift in the SE winds to ENE which gave a favorable slant down to Portsmouth. It rained on the way and as we arrived so giving further ammunition to Sandy's view that I lured her down to the Caribbean under false pretenses.

DEATH IN PARADISE. Hi Victor The filming takes place in Guadeloupe but all over not just in Deshaies. They were looking for extras and it appears we could have both have got an acting job in the series if we had been around for the season.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Jacques Cousteau Snorkel and the DINK gets loose on passage.

We stopped off at Pigeon Island to enjoy a morning snorkel on what, Jacques Cousteau said,
was one of the 10 best sites in the world. We had excellent visibility and although it had been raining on and off since mid day yesterday we had a break in the clouds and some good sunlight. Lots of fish, some that employ their coloring to hide and some, well, they just seem to be show-offs. After lunch we headed down to Basse Terre and on to the Saintes. We were tromping along at about 6.5 knots towing the dink when something went ping, I looked around and everything looked normal but a minute or two later there was a second ping and the dink broke the tow line. I put the dink on deck if I am making an open ocean passage and had always towed it when making the 6 miles across to the Saintes but it did not work this time. Retrieving it was much harder than I thought it would have been but the 20 knots, rain and a good 2 metre swell contributed to the difficulty. Sandy and I were both soaked to the skin and cold by the 9th pass when I finally put Elephants Child alongside the dink without making it switch ends so carrying the trailing line away from Sandy and the boathook who did the business and we returned to Basse Terre to reorganize. But we made it down to the Saints next day.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


BARBECUE We were tucked up in the anchorage in Deshaies with a sundowner to hand when I suddenly noticed a floater in my G & T. Closer examination showed it to be a shred of burnt paper or something similar. A wider examination showed that the entire boat was covered by greasy shreds of burnt something or other. Yes the boat upwind was having a barbecue. I don't know what he was burning but we were getting the fallout. Deciding not to remonstrate with him that night I left it to the morning but he left early. Ah well, it cleaned off easily with some seawater and a deck scrubber.

BIRDS We visited the world famous Jardin Botanique in Deshaies and soon I found myself very popular with the birds. Mind you it might have been something to do with the mango I was holding.
Sandy was having quite a tete a tete with the macaws who were holding up their end of the conversations pretty well.
The Chilean flamingos finally ventured out when the rain let up and set about resablishing the pecking order. They were a right stroppy lot with lots of squaring off and displaying. You could just hear the taunts in flamingo, “ COME ON MY SON IF YOU THINK YOU ARE HARD ENOUGH! “
But we were really here for the blooms and the gardens certainly were blooming. Sandy said she had never seen such a variety of flowers all in bloom at the same time.

We both liked these leaves which looked like they had another leaf painted on to them.

We were used to delightful scents as we were wandering around the paths surrounded by flowers when we got a whiff of rotting meat. These guys were certainly attracting the bluebottles and living up to their nickname of "carrion flowers".

Which brings us neatly to DEATH IN PARADISE We found ourselves unwitting victims of the drama series about a detective inspector who is assigned to investigate a murder on the paradise island of Saint-Marie in the Caribbean, despite his hatred of sun, sea and sand.
They had closed the roads and the check in internet shop as well to facilitate filming an episode in Deshaies.

So just another day in paradise slides in to the Caribbean sea as I check the fridge for the big decision of the day. WILL MY SUNDOWNER BE A G&T OR A RUM AND COKE. It is tough out here you know.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Arrived in Deshais Guadeloupe after making good time down from Antigua.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


We are off South to Deshaies Guadeloupe tomorrow as the wind has finally backed a bit to about due East after 10 days of light and variable or SE to S. It will be Sandy's first taste of inter island sailing, possibly with all plain sail, after a few short sails just with the jib up and nothing upwind for 3000 miles but open ocean. . We have had some serious rain recently and days with precious little sun as an area of low pressure hung about near us so it was good to look out and see some blue sky this afternoon with a promise of more to come.
We have enjoyed some quiet days in Indian Creek with only the wildlife to keep us company. Pelicans fishing around us, goats on the hill and even a mongoose on the beach.
Perfect peace in a glorious little protected hidey hole of an anchorage just a mile or two from English harbor as the crow flies. .

Saturday, May 5, 2012


The last day of Classics was devoted to gig racing and the participants were encouraged to dress up in period costume.
Some serious testosterone was on show but most took it as a giggle. After the decadence of Classics week we sailed round to Jolly Harbor for some clean water.

It clearly did not matter to this group that met to exercise every morning in Falmouth,
oblivious to the presence of 200+ boats and no pumpout station. It was Sandy's first sight of the reefs and shallow water sailing that characterize some areas of the Caribbean. Flying over sandy bottom with less than 5 feet under the keel in crystal clear conditions after making our way down Goat channel inside Cades reef all of which was eyeball navigation. Five Island Harbor was it's usual quiet and peaceful self with only one or two other boats spread over the 5 square mile expanse of the anchorage.
We explored the ancient lava flow of Stoney Point and were lucky to see a mongoose foraging on the beach as we came in. Sorry no pics of the mongoose as we were too slow. Deep Bay was next and I was looking forward to showing Sandy the wreck of the Andes which lies just below the surface. A three masted engine less barque, it was carrying pitch from Trinidad which caught fire.
Sandy said she wished she had her rash vest with her!
The steel hulled vessel sank upright and one of it's masts still breaks the surface at low tide.

We dropped over the side of the dink and swam to the wreck which, for some strange reason, was paying host to a swarm of small jellyfish, the densest swarm I have ever seen. Inplaces it was almost solid jelly fish. The good news was that they did not seem to sting. I looked in vain for lobsters and lionfish but both were absent. St Johns was a quiet with only a single small cruise ship at the docks which sometimes plays host to five monsters. So we had the sights to ourselves.
Sandy liked the old wooden houses

and the Anglican church and graveyard. The church had some serious structural issues and it was good to see repair work proceeding. We had a great sail back round to Jolly Harbor touching 8 knots with just the head sail past the rock that looks just like a hawksbill turtle's head. We walked up to the head overlooking Jolly Harbor and saw another mongoose the second in a week and only my fourth in two and a half years. Again we were too slow with the cameras.

Good sunset though.

Next on the agenda was the last day of Antigua race week and we got to watch the smaller boats beating upwind as we motored back to Falmouth.
We got there in time to see the downwind finish of the bigger classes with spinnakers flying.

The pics all show sunny days in Antigua but at this moment in time I am writing this with the computer running on battery and all it's outside stuff disconnected because we have a thunderstorm raging overhead and the threat of a strike is real. I am glad the we do not have a skyscraper mast tall enough to warrant a low flying aircraft warning red light. A couple of strikes were very close by and some boat might well have been hit.