Friday, December 25, 2015


It was about 3 am on Christmas morning and I am about half awake as I shut the hatches. A squall was blowing through the anchorage but I was soon back in bed and drifting off even though the squall was still howling in the rigging, when I hear a very loud bang followed by shouting.

Fully awake I stick my head up and have a look around to see chaos in front of me. I had anchored behind a French boat and was about a hundred and twenty feet behind his dinghy.

I was now abreast his dinghy, but the chaos was the steel boat to my port side that was motoring to keep clear and more frightening was the large catamaran on my starboard side that was lying about 60 degrees to the wind and sheering about wildly.

Pants on, engine started and I take avoiding action as the catamaran has a big swipe at Elephants Child. The old couple on the French boat are shouting at me as I slide up their port side and with a good bit of boat handling the steel boat gives me enough room.

I run around like crazy getting fenders out and watching the erratic behavior of the Frenchman and the catamaran.

The catamaran makes another pass and misses again. There is no one aboard that I can see and it is a matter of time till it hits Elephants Child. It looks like he has already hit the French boat as there is stuff hanging off his side and stern.

This when I really needed a crew member to steer and gun the engine when avoiding action was needed.

Trusting to the helm on the steel boat to avoid me I leave it in gear at tickover on full left rudder and go forward with tools and the bread knife. Blessing the electric anchor windlass I pull in enough chain to slip the snubber hook, and run out the chain.

The shackle connecting my chain to the two hundred feet of rope rode usually sticks in the hawse but for once it pops straight through. I cut the zip tie and unscrew the shackle and drop the chain.

Steeple chasing back to the helm I narrowly avoid another anchored boat whose crew are on deck but not doing anything useful but shout at me.

Getting clear I heave a big sigh of relief and have a "WHAT NOW SKIPPER" moment. Half an hour later I have the reserve anchor shackled on and laid using the back up chain. I am well clear of the shenanigans. As usual Dizzy appears when I pull the engine stop control and I have a sit down for a few moments with Dizzy. Another squall come through and I shelter under the dodger watching to make sure my [t]rusty old CQR is gripping which it is. The rain stops and the wind drops a little but it is clear that the shenanigans are continuing with the three boats getting very close to two other boats.

I decide to go and see what I can do to help, throwing an anchor warp, my 37lb Fortress kedge and a couple of useful tools including the breadknife into the dink I motor over blessing the man who invented the head torch. The moon which helped earlier is hidden behind the clouds. A local pirogue arrives with a couple of young men who try to tow the whole mess forward, they keep things clear of the anchored boats who are all now wide awake and shouting. At this point the Marine Police boat arrives and takes over. The wind has died down and I get aboard the cat shouting to the police to give me a tow and get it on a mooring buoy as it has no reserve anchor. I can now see the side of the French boat and there is some serious damage with vertical splits in the glass topsides and some deck crushing. The three big outboards on the Police boat make short work of pulling the cat and dragging the chain and anchor behind us and we are soon tied up to a mooring buoy.

I go back to elephants Child and back to bed but get wakened up by knocking on the side of the boat. It is the Police who think I am the owner or skipper of the catamaran. Neither spoke English so it was a strain on my fractured French to explain things. My papers were scrutinized and details copied into notebooks. They left and it was back to bed.

Much later that morning I was dragging for my dropped anchor chain which I found on the second pass. I don't swim in Marin. I buoyed the chain went back lifted the reserve anchor and motored over to buoy picked it up and was back to where I was last night. Well not quite as I had 200 feet of 3/8 th chain plus a 50 lb CQR which needed manhandling back to their regular reserve spots.

Job done it was back to bed with a double doze of ibuprofen to ease my aches.


The French boat has had to be hauled with a hull split thet reaches the waterline.

I was asked by the local judge who has the power to order investigations apparently Napoleonic Law Code ? ] to write out a report IN FRENCH. I said no can do Best I can offer is a report in English plus a translation by Mr Google. Had to be notarised but they did that for me.

My creaky bits are much eased by a visit to the French chiropractor and masseur.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


This morning in Marin Martinique I was enjoying my morning coffee when I saw the smoke plume.

A fair size catamaran was ablaze. I jumped in the dink to see if I could be of any help to anyone as it was in a pretty crowded anchorage and if I was near by I would want to move especially if I was downwind.

By the time I got there it was starting to break up and obviously not a lot anyone could do about putting the fire out. The boats immediately downwind were unoccupied and the Sapeur Pompier were not doing anything. As I was leaving there was a dramatic flare so I guess a gas cylinder had cooked off.

Within an hour it had sunk.

Monday, December 21, 2015


My solar panel controller failed. I got on the net and found one at Budget Marine in St Marten.

Monday morning I phoned them up, yes they had one. Great, please send it to me by Fedex to RBM in St Lucia. No came the reply we can't do that it is too complicated. Go see our agent.

Still Monday find the BM agent go in and pay for it and get them to get it sent using their 2 day service with DHL.

Wednesday morning go in and ask if it has arrived, if not can I have the tracking number please. Agent phones BM St Marten to find it has not been sent.

Thursday get tracking number which shows it was picked up by DHL on Wednesday. I have hopes for Friday but accept it will likely be Saturday.

Item finally arrives Monday which is a public holiday.

Tuesday go and see the BM agent to be told it missed the lorry.

Wednesday it is on the lorry.

No it is not,

BM St Marten have sent the wrong paperwork. Flurry of faxes. BM agent sec. is embarrassed and goes in person to DHL office to pick it up only to be told the paperwork has not yet been done. Secretary suggests I go in person to DHL office. I have a meltdown, biting the carpet, frothing at the mouth and speaking in tongues. OK Slight exaggeration but she get the message I am not happy.

Thursday morning am told that a senior partner in the business will take me in to the DHL office. We arrive in the DHL office well prepped with boat papers, customs clearances, multiple copies of both invoices etc. The in house shipping agent STARTS to fill out the paperwork. It is now 11.30am, he goes to see the inhouse customs officer to be told she is on her lunch break and will be back at 2.30pm YUP folks a 3 hour lunch.

I go and sit in Derek Walcott square and practice some calming mediation using the mantra “OMM ISLAND TIME OMM”.

2.30pm sees the partner and I back at the DHL office. The shipping agent has completed the papers and goes to see the customs officer. He comes back shaking his head and tells us that she can not look at it till tomorrow as she is busy.

The partner has a quiet meltdown but an effective one. We are allowed to leave with the sealed packet and the shipping papers on the STRICT understanding that we go straight to the customs office in Rodney Bay.

The customs officer in Rodney Bay asks me to open the parcel, glances at the paperwork and says “Yacht in transit?” I say “yes” “No charge” “Thats it ?” He says “ Yes”. 11 days and I have the part.

So SLAP ME UPSIDE THE HEAD if I ever forget and try to order anything from Budget Marine St Marten by DHL.

Defender and Fedex is the way top go.

Fitting the new controller was a 10 minute job and we soon have a a battery bank that is full charged again.

Saturday, December 19, 2015


A great sail up to Martinique at 7 -8 - 9 - 10 knots. Fairly confused seas off the North end of St Lucia but after a mile it settled down to a long swell.

As it is Saturday I stopped at St Annes as it it now possible to check in there. A small back street cafe with a computer check in point. 5 minutes on the keyboard, hit the print out button get the bar keeper to sign it and it is all done.

I will stay in and watch the Christmas parade.


Heading North to Martinique today.

The plan is to stock up in Marin [ Leader Price ] and drop back to St Annes for the festivities.

Julie is now on Scorch as Steve is the better dancer! So it is me and Dizzy for the moment but I have hopes that Jan will make it down for January.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Julie had been exploring the village of Gros Islet which is just along the road from the marina in search of fresh fruit and veg when she stumbled across a catholic church and emanating from the church was the sound of a magnificent tenor in full voice.

It turned out that three tenors from Barbados were over in St Lucia and were appearing in four local churches.

We went to the performance in Gros Islet and even though two were operating on reduced power it was still a good show. When the one who still had full power cut loose it was a staggering reminder of the power of the human voice as he belted out the aria every Brit of my age knows as the music from the Cornetto ad but is "’O sole mio" .

Saturday, December 12, 2015


Julie has had an interesting evening out on the Pearl the new party boat.
It was supposed to be a trip to show it off to the hoteliers and cruise ship booking agents. Julie had gone along to help out with things including sail handling. She was drawn to the boat because she recognized it as being an Indonesian build but it had had a checkered history on it's way to St Lucia.

As there is no marked channel in the bay boats anchor anywhere and not all show anchor lights. On the way back in the Pearl managed to hit two unlit boats fortunately with out doing any serious damage. The skipper was on the helm but was being conned in by a bow lookout waving an illuminated baton.

Much discussion ensued next morning on the net on the topic of anchor lights, cockpit lights, solar powered colored anchor lights and strobes.

The ARC finish line has had a busy couple of days and most of the boats are in now. Three arrived with lack of motorized propulsion and the local water taxi boats having been earning some major dosh by giving hip tows to race boats,

This one had lost it's prop somewhere mid Atlantic.

There is a new Indian restaurant in Rodney Bay

and I liked the look of the ceiling decorations, inexpensive but effective. The food was excellent and I will be back for another lunch.

Two more green flashes and a sunset that even Julie had to concede was pretty good.

Finally I give you a rare and unusual site, a traditional fisherman anchor on a modern boat.

Monday, December 7, 2015


A fairly dramatic and vivid sunset after a series of so so ones.

Julie had never seen a green flash before and we finally had a good one. Julie was unsure if the brief wink of green which was really what every body makes a fuss about which we had seen before one night was the real deal. But the good one last night convinced her.

After many years when I was able to find a free open wifi connection in Rodney Bay I finally had to admit defeat and go for a paid connection through a Digicel dongle. Well at least that was the plan. I got the dongle, the sim card and paid for a few gigs of data.but after an hour or two playing with the options I gave up and went to see the 'experts' in the Digicel head office.

I sat and waited my turn and soon had a young tech to show me how to do it. However tech one failed and called in tech two who also failed. At this point they called in the expert who was the telephone receptionist, a most competent young lady who activated my sim, woke up my online account and got me to reboot the lappie.

GERONIMO we had a connection.

The Christmas decorations are going up on Elephants Child and of course Dizzy is eying each and every addition to the boat as just the best cat toys going. The current favourite is a large hazelnut which painted silver which he is chasing very noisily around the deck. But he is also eyeing up the dangling santa.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


A great sail this Sunday morning from Bequia up to Wallilabou. Well At least Julie and John thought so, Dizzy was of a different opinion.
Still he put up with it and is at this moment watching

the boys at play on the old dock from the Pirates of the Caribbean set built by Disney.
The locals who have been enjoying the extra visitors who come to see the sets and general memorabilia are appalled that the sets are disintegrating and have been pressing Disney to come and rebuild them. The chances of this are somewhere between slim and none and slim has left town.
I am not sure if I will trust my stern line to the remnants of the dock for much longer, perhaps a tree might be better next time.
Julie and I set off to walk up to the falls leaving Dizzy on guard duty.
I said " Hi " to Issa as we passed the sculpture garden and then a local stopped and gave us a lift the rest of the way, I must be looking prettty decrepit I guess.

The falls

and the gardens worked their magic on both of us.

Afterwards I had a reflective beer while Julie set off to do some more hiking.

I meandered home to Elephants Child and Dizzy.

We set off at crack of dawn next morning and hung on through the usual rough seas and accelerated winds on the North end of St Vincent. The conditions were starting to settle down when I saw we had a fish on. The Mahi Mahi hit the grill for dinner that night.

Marigot Bay is a great introduction to St Lucia but all the businesses are in shock as the anchor business, the Moorings charter operation has left for Rodney Bay.
I heard as I checked in that the first ARC boat was in and had set a new record. Team Brunei making it across in an elapsed time of 8d 7h 39m 30s.