The Leeward Islands

We did the Windward Islands (Grenada up to Martinique), now working our way through the Leewards (Dominica north). The distinction was historic presumably depending on where in the chain you arrived first and slightly confusing as the Dutch put their Windward Islands in the region called Leeward by the British.

From Dominica we went to Isles Saintes mooring at Bourg des Saintes. These lovely small islands are French so it was back to Euros, driving on the right, croissants and French bread. Then on to Deshaies in Guadeloupe, also French. Here we went the excellent Botanic gardens again, we did not see any murders or Humphrey or the Comissioner, but did see the set for the police station and Catherine’s Bar.

Deshaies
Botanic Gardens
Set for Death in Paradise
The real police station

The next island is Antigua. First we anchored in Falmouth Harbour (the dock is full of superyachts) and visited historic English Harbour and Nelsons Dockyard. We walked up to Shirley Heights for more history and a fantastic view. The whole area is now a National Park.

View from Shirley Heights
More history
Superyacht leaving Falmouth

We moved on to Jolly Harbour, a very convenient place to get provisions, fuel and chandlery. It was great to meet up with friends here: Bones and Anna of yacht Emily Morgan and Laurie and Ruud of Blue Pearl.

Dominica

We finally managed to leave Martinique on Thursday, water maker all fixed thanks to Thierry and Steven of YES (Yacht Engineering Services) in Marin. The seals on the HP pump had to be replaced 3 times over before it stopped leaking. We had a boisterous passage across to Dominica in a very gusty wind, still getting vicious gusts when moored at Portsmouth in sheltered Prince Rupert Bay. This morning we went on a tour up the Indian River. Parts of Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3 were filmed here. Our guide was Providence aka Martin Carriere. He was great, very informative about wild life and botany. The guides have to use oars on the river so it is very peaceful. We saw various birds, fish, crabs, geckos, iguana and stopped at the Bush bar for a quick juice. We did the tour once before 10 years ago. The vegetation was even more over hanging then – Hurricane Maria changed a few things. The local tour guides formed themselves into the Portsmouth Association of Yacht Services (PAYS). They take turns to meet the boats coming in ( so you don’t end up part of some mad competition) and provide mooring buoys, security, tours and a Sunday night beach barbecue that we will go to tonight.

Swap blood wood
Buttress roots
Bird of Paradise
Male Gecko displaying
Hummingbird

January 2020

After new year we headed south, crossing back to St Lucia. After a quick stop in Rodney Bay catching up with more friends we went on south to Anse Cochon and Soufriere. Nice snorkelling in Anse Cochon and Bat Cave, interesting watching local fishermen early in the morning, one person jumps in with a snorkel and mask to locate the fish, they drop the net in a circle while others throw stones into the water to scare fish into the net. Then back to Rodney Bay for Andrews last night (pizza at Elena’s), next day we saw him off to the airport in the taxi with a large chicken roti for sustenance. He has been with us for 6 weeks, has been in 4 different countries with stamps in his passport to prove it (except Martinique) and we’ve sailed 341 miles including one night sail.

Next we watched the start of World ARC 2020 from the deck of our friends catamaran, Anne and Norman on Glorious Daze, quite spectacular and we do know 3 of the boats. Then spent time trying to fIx the wind generator and ended up buying a new one. Finally able to leave to sail to Marin in Martinique and catch up with Glorious Daze again. Brian on his Amel Maramu Jamesby ( who was in the next berth in Rodney Bay) overtook us en route and took some nice pics of Timshel under sail, while I took some of Jamesby. It is nice to get photos of your boat under sail.

Christmas and New Year

As soon as the ARC stuff was over we headed north to Martinique, which gave us time for a quick shopping trip to Marin to stock up on French bread, wine and cheese, also Jambon de Noel and other goodies for Christmas. Then on to Grande Anse d’Arlet for Christmas Day – we spent Christmas 2015 and 2016 here too. There are still turtles swimming about, good snorkelling and lots of boats. We sailed on round the coast to Fort de France the capitol. The anchorage is behind Fort St Louis, and this time we managed to get on a tour of the fort. Much of it is still an active Naval base. We returned to Fort de France for the New Year fireworks which strangely take place on the evening of December 30th. They are set off from the fort so in the anchorage (which by this time was very full and small boats were buzzing around everywhere) we had a ringside view. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more spectacular display. On the 31st we went on to St Pierre at the north end of the island. This was the capital that was destroyed in 1902 by the eruption of Mont Pelee killing something like 28,000 people. One man survived in the town jail. Only one ship of the many anchored in the bay managed to get away with only half the crew alive, the rest were sunk. We looked at the ruins and went round the museum which has been recently refurbished and is very good. The restaurants seemed to be closed so we saw the new year in on Timshel. The church bells rang out at midnight and we contributed our foghorn and Auld Lang Syne (that Andrew was streaming on Spotify).

q.

December 2019 Sailing again

Nephew Andrew had arrived in Grenada on 30th November to join us for 6 weeks. We managed a trip to the Grand Etang Forest National Park where there are Mona monkeys (Andrew is the one with the glasses). Also a ride on a very speedy local bus into St George’s the capital before we set sail for Secret Harbour, then St George’s. Also on Andrew’s bucket list was visiting Grande Anse beach. We sailed on to Cariacou then Union Island so we left Grenada and checked into St Vincent and the Grenadines. More stamps for Andrew’s passport. Unfortunately the weather was not very nice when we got to Tobago Cays, still beautiful and lots of turtles but we didn’t get our barbecue dinner on the beach due to torrential rain. It was much nicer at Bequia, then we made a night passage to St Lucia. Back in Rodney Bay again we did finish line duties for the ARC 2019 rally, which was fun and meant we got a free berth in the marina for a few days and got to go to the parties and catch up with lots of friends who had crossed just the Atlantic again with the ARC.

Back on Timshel

We arrived back in the Caribbean on 2nd November, hot hot hot! In fact Grenada had had storms and an incredible amount of rain the previous month which had trashed a lot of the pipework to the reservoir so there was a water shortage, and no tomatoes. Some work had been done on Timshel in our absence but there was still much to do, so we worked hard. We stayed in a small apartment at Sydney’s Place, just up the road and run by the formidable Dona. Timshel was relaunched on 22nd November as planned but unfortunately we found that the stern gland was leaking so we had to get lifted again (this time with the humongous travel lift) at great expense next day to get it replaced. Then we found the seacock or the watermaker had jammed shut so that had to be replaced with a diver holding a sponge covered with cling film over the intake. All in all, all a slow start.