Tuesday, December 31, 2013


We stopped off in Castries harbor with cruise ships to both sides in fact 5 of the bringers of people pollution [bad] and tourist dollars [good for St Lucia] one day.

One of them did a curious thing. They deployed a life raft. Maybe it was an exercise, maybe it was an accident like the time the air hostess deployed the safety slide in Lyon after we had been sitting waiting for 8 hours. Head hostie had an official sense of humor failure as this meant we were condemned to overnight their while they flew out a new bird.

It was interesting watching the skill of the helmsman of these big cruise ships as they worked their way in and out of the tight harbor. However this one
did not endear themselves to us as they polluted the air with some real nasty diesel exhaust fumes, still I suppose that is why you register in Panama.

There is an old harbor tug in attendance though
and I guess from time to time he gets to push on the side of the cruise ship at the designated spot.

We were glad to escape from Castries as our nights had been made unpleasant by car alarms that sounded all night and every night we were there.

I had been worried about the big swell running inducing rolly conditions in Rodney Bay but it seemed to have died down by the time we dropped the hook off the beach in front of the yacht club.

Patricia and Dizzy had a little love in while we watched the sun go down before both decided the day needed to be slept on.

We will be heading up to Martinique soon as our water tanks are empty and there is a major water shortage in St Lucia due to the damage done to the water pipes by the deluge on Christmas eve.
Also still here in St Lucia is the Virgin aircraft that was damaged on landing.

Anyway it is New Years eve and we are getting ready for a night of rum and cruising stories and possibly some fireworks.

Friday, December 27, 2013

While we were rolling around in Marigot Bay it turns out that the major rain event not really a storm but a trough strong enough to give 6 inches.

However the rain has caused widespread flooding.

Reports indicate at least 5 dead, many are homeless, bridges are washed away, and roads impassible as a result of heavy Christmas eve rains. Bridges are down, 50% of the island is without water and15% without electricity. Phone lines are also down all over the island which is making coordinating the repairs difficult for the emergency sevices. I guess this sort of matches the weather you have been having in the UK. It seems that the big airport is shut down with a Virgin flight running into flood debris on the runway on landing and damaging the landing gear. Airport personnel have been working non stop to clean the runway and at least the STOL small puddlejumpers the local airlines use can get in and out.

Anyway all on board Elephants Child are fine, wet clothes are drying and my little cat Dizzy Sox is getting used to yet another new anchorage and making sure my cleated off lines are done up tight.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Raising the St Lucian courtesy flag on Christmas day after a very wet and rolly night.

Breakfast was good with Dizzy being intrigued by my bobble.

After a period of strong winds from the NE which is the wrong direction for heading North we got a forecast for two days of moderate winds from the SE so although it meant missing out on a Bequia
Christmas we lifted the anchor and headed North stopping at Wallilabou for a shower and massage with all the fresh water a man could wish for. Even Dizzy seemed to want to come along as he was sitting on the bottom step as we left for the hike up to the falls.
Wallilabou is a deep bay with a steeply shelving profile which means dropping the anchor and having one of the local ' beachfront service providers ' or boat boys row a line ashore. It is also the place where one of the Pirates of the Caribbean films was shot and the locals have held on to some of the props and buildings as tourist attractions. They even have asked Disney to come back and repair some of the deteriorating buildings and the pier. I reckon the chances of Disney doing this are slim or none and Slim has left town.
There has been a fair bit of rain recently so the flow over the falls was pretty strong and a few seconds pummeling was all I could take before going under. The local kids were enjoying it too!

We left early next morning and romped the 56 miles up to St Lucia with the GPS reading 10+ knots at times as we surfed down the big Atlantic swells under some magnificent rainbows from the occaisional rain clouds that peppered us. We arrived in Marigot Bay just in time to be greeted with a major rain event and thunderstorm which is ongoing as I write this with the lightening being almost continuous and the radio full of reports of significant flooding. To make things worse after we checked in and Patricia cooked an excellent dinner which we had to eat inside instead of in the cockpit the winds and swell reversed possibly due to the gianormous cu-nim sitting on top of St Lucia and we started to rock and roll. Had the visibility been better I would have pulled anchor and headed around to Castries but I decided that it was safer to stay put even if we needed seat belts to stay in bed. With the winds being reversed in the anchorage there were people playing bumper boats all night with much shouting and fending off. We were spared that but had to spend time roll proofing stuff on flat surfaces, tracking down clinking bottles in cupboards and even decided to drop the dink back in the water as it was difficult to tie it down and prevent it moving which means chafe and much squeaking.
Speaking of squeaking Dizzy Sox produced some splendid squeaky meows on passage as she vented her disapproval of the whole sailing thing, especially when we had spray from our bow wave finding it's way into the cockpit. It may have been warm but it was wet. After cuddling up to my leg for a while he found a protected spot under the dodger and viewed the world from there. He had been very vocal as we left in the dink or in the morning as he tries to gget me up to give him his brekkie.


Sunday, December 22, 2013


We are taking advantage of what looks like better wind direction for Monday and Tuesday to leave for St Lucia staging out of Wallilabou.

Bequia has put on it's best Christmas face for us, with the lights and some carol singing West Indian style on their 9 days of Christmas [ why nine ? who knows ]. It might have been good to be here for Christmas but it looks like it will be Marigot Bay.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


It is still blowing hard down here so we are happy to stay and enjoy Bequia,
the decorators have been hard at work stringing lights and wrapping tinsel around everything. The grand switch on was supposed to be Saturday but the squalls and heavy rain put paid to that. They go to church on Sunday so we went ashore and sat under the almond tree on Monday waiting for the switch on which was scheduled for 7.30. I am on island time now so I poled up at 7.45 but it was not until nearly 9.00 that the electricians twisted the wires together and the lights came on. The local preacher prayed over us, a 15 year old girl retold the story of Christmas with a West Indian twist in the 21st century.

We took the time next dat to wander aropund some of the back roads on Bequia
and came across a couple of architectural gems.

However there is the other side of the coin and this shack
was lived in till recently by a group aging Rastafarians.

It looks like we may be here for another week as the wind is staying stubbornly North of East and I like my sailing to be gentle stuff with warm winds over my shoulder so I will wait for it to go South and moderate a bit. I feel sorry for the charter boats especially the smaller catamarans who are having to beat North to get back to base in St Lucia. 35 knots and 4 metre swells on the North end of St Vincent.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


The reinforced trades known as the Christmas winds are blowing and boats are arriving with torn sails
giving the sail repairers some Christmas work to do.

I have had some Christmas work too,
digging out the Christmas decorations and adorning the salon. My helper has be most assiduous in checking out every aspect of my work.

After our labours we walked up to the Hamilton Battery which guarded the anchorage in days of Drake and Nelson and the wooden walls of old England. But nowadays the anchorage is full of cruisers and one of them is our own Elephants Child.
The sunset was a bit special too.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


The threat of reinforced trades at 20 to 30 knots and a week of rain sent us scurrying North to the sheltered anchorage [ and fleshpots ] of Bequia.

We loved cracking along at 8 knots on a sparkling day under all plain sail with the spray from the bow wave providing the occasional fleeting private rainbow.

We left behind the RAF crew
who were doing some serious winter training aboard their 67 ft steel boat called Discoverer of Hornet. Apparently the Navy and Army have sister ships.

Dizzy definitely does not like sailing
and needed some serious TLC on arrival.

We enjoyed exploring Union Island
and awarded this the REALLY REALLY RED ROOF prize.

After our exertions of the day it was back on board in time
to beat the mosquitoes and catch the sunset.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


We had a small scare coming into Carriacou, I heard the bilge pump running a couple of times for a few seconds each time. Now Elephants Child is a pretty dry boat so I knew this signaled something unusual. I checked the toilets which were both fine then the dripless prop shaft seal. Whooa that dripless seal was spraying water. We pulled the revs right back and the leak stopped so we limped in slowly. Playing with it at anchor established that, yup it was leaking and worse it was vibrating. So we spoke to the boat yard and arranged to get hauled. Once we did it was clear that the cutlass bearing was badly worn. Which was unusual as I fitted a new one two years ago. Ho Hum.

Fortunately the chandlers in Grenada had the right one in stock, got it on the fast ferry and the next day my we were back in the water with a new cutlass bearing [ good news ] but with the same leak [ bad news ].

So the cat says

“ What now skipper?”

The next step was to contact the local expert in this field. Uwe is famous throughout the Caribbean as being the guru to consult on shaft and other engineering problems. I struck lucky as Uwe had been on holiday for 5 weeks and although he had a mountain of work on his plate he agreed to come out on Sunday morning to see if he could diagnose the problem. I had been thinking all sorts of dire problems but Uwe discovered that a bleed tube on top of the seal was reducing the joint face pressure in forward and allowing a spray of water to appear. The bleed tube may just have gotten stiff with age or perhaps it had been moved when we tidied the cables up when reinstalling the autopilot computer.

So it is fingers crossed for us on Monday as we will attempt to redress the problem by fitting a new piece of flexible hose, comforted by the knowledge that if it all goes wrong the boatyard is 5 minutes away.

Our troubles are minor though compared with some others.
There is a Canadian on a trawler yacht who is very proud of his unusual and very green dinghy. Built of aluminum on pontoon boat lines it has two electric motors and 2 – 3 hundred watts of solar. When he pulled into Carriacou it had a leak which resulted in it sinking to the point that only the tips of the bows were above the water. He was busy in the morning applying large fenders and flotation bags to partially refloat it. It was towed in to the boatyard and I guess set a record as the smallest boat to be hauled by the boatyard.

On a much larger note there is an Oyster 65 which has hit the bottom off Frigate island and damaged it's keel pretty badly. To prevent it sinking it has been deliberately run aground in Frigate harbor. Uwe has been called in by the damage surveyor as the local salvage expert and he is off there on Monday with a serious petrol driven pump plus other nostrums including large ratchet straps to see if he can strap up the keel and keep ahead of the water ingress to enable it to be moved somewhere it can be hauled. The word is that it is a fairly new boat and worth £1m + OUCH!

It has rained hard for most of Sunday and the buckets are full, the dink is awash, all our hatches are closed and we were going stir crazy because the internet is down. How you come to rely on the internet as an information source.

But come Monday the shaft fix tested out OK and on Tuesday it was blue skies gentle breezes and
even the cat was not too pissed off to be sailing as we made our way up yo Union island. .

Monday, December 2, 2013


A final test to make sure our shaft leak is fixed and we will make the short hop to Clifton harbor.