Sunday, June 28, 2015

Stadium Seats

We have found that these seats are very handy to have on board.  I use one in the cockpit when I want to face forward and need a backrest.  Some people use those padded, hinged seats for that.  But we have nice cockpit cushions so those would be overkill for us.  Plus we really don't have the storage space for those.  Stadium seats are small and fold very flat.  I specifically chose ones with no metal to rust.  
The other handy use for these is that they are great for events ashore, like the various music fests, cricket match and beach parties we've attended.  All have been seating on the grass or sand.  I simply cannot sit for hours on the grass comfortably on my own.  We take our stadium seats, loading up the mesh pockets on the back with sunscreen, bug spray, water bottles, umbrella and paero.  They are light weight, compact and easy to carry.  The backrest makes all the difference in comfort at these events.  Standard fold out chairs take up too much room on the boat and soon turn to rust in our environment.  These work perfectly ashore.

We have found that paeros make a much better ground cover than a blanket or towel.  It doesn't pick up loose grass, sand or dirt.  When we are done, we just shake it out.  They also make quick and easy shades in our cockpit on late afternoons for those times when the boat angle is just right and the sun is low on the horizon and burning straight into the cockpit.  I simply attach them to the bimini and frame with clothes pins to block out the blazing sun.   

Friday, June 26, 2015

Bequia Photo Action

Kenmore Henville is a local from Bequia that takes yacht photos.  We didn't have any good shots of sv Honey Ryder under sail.  That is until now.  Kenmore comes out in his dinghy to meet yachts arriving in Bequia, taking action shots as they sail in.  He knows cruisers like pictures of their boat sailing and the lines, where as charter people like pictures of themselves on the boat.  He has a great eye.  Then the next morning he dashes around the anchorage dropping off a printed sample, thumb drive with all the pics and price sheet.  There is no obligation to purchase but most do because they are great pics and reasonabily priced.  Check theses out Honey Ryder pics.  We are hoping to get more shots next year (full sail vs reefed and maybe one with us on the rails) now that we know about his business.  If you are sailing into Bequia at some point, keep this in mind if you want your own yacht shots. 

They Came Bearing Gifts

Sv Hermosita

June 15th
No!  Not the three fabled wise men.  Even better.
Childhood friends united after many years
Two separate sets of friends decided to charter sailboats for holiday in the Caribbean.  We were honored when both made us part of their itinerary.  The gifts they came bearing were just icing on the cake to seeing them.  Well not icing.  Something even better......TP.  Yes that's right - Toiliet Paper!  Sv Hermosita gave us all their extra rolls of TP.  They also gave us choclate, wine, spices, napkins and water at the end of their charter.  But the toilet paper was most exciting because we were down to our last roll and had forgotten to buy when we were last ashore. 
Sv Buzzbee
Nazar - protection from the evil eye

The other group (sv Buzzbee) arrived with a pineapple (the traditional welcome gift in many parts of the world), rum and limes - a party in the making.  Brilliant!  Later on their boat they presented us with a Nazar from Turkey for protection on sv Honey Ryder from the evil eye and special lounge pants that are specific to this group.  Lounge pants?  Yes.  You know how a group of friends can develop inside jokes, stories, traditions and in many cases, funny hats, t-shirts, wigs, sunglasses?  Well, this group has these awesome lounge pants made out of paero (the colorful swimsuit wraps that are sold on every tourist beach in the world).  These pants are uber comfortable.
Tom, James and Claire

Cate, Jane, Dan, Mark

Later in Carriacou we met up with both groups again.  Sv Hermosita joined us aboard sv Somewhere (full time cruisers) for a wonderful evening, sharing some of their yummy and fancy provisions.  Sv Buzzbee sailed in a day later.  We were having a lovely dinner aboard sv Ocean Rainbow with sv Freebooter.  The plan was to meet sv Buzzbee ashore later for some music.  But we never heard the music from shore, so we opted for plan B - invade sv Buzzbee for a jam session on their boat.  As proper Brits, Sv Ocean Rainbow and Sv Freebooter were aprehensive about just popping over.  But I assured them it was no worry, stressing the fact that "Their Americans.  They won't care that we invited you along.  The more the merrier."  And it was true.  Sv Buzzbee were thrilled to play hosts to a cruisers jam.  Claire brought her guitar.  Tom took his bongos and various percusion instruments.  Sv Buzzbee had a uekula and traveling guitar.  All twelve of us sang songs at the top of our lungs for all the anchorage to enjoy hear.  Note -We did shut it down around 10pm -only slightly later than "cruisers midnight" (9pm).  It was a total blast.
Steve, Sabrina, Annemarie

Big jam session

We were able to introduce them to other full time cruisers, giving them a glimps into the life of cruisers other than just us.  In exchange, both charter groups shared their bountiful charter provisions at happy hours, boat visits and a pot luck dinner with us and these full time cruisers.  A win-win for everyone.
Claire and Cate fine tune their singing act

Brett, Heather, Tom, James (on the vibraslap) and Claire

*Hint - if you are a charter boat that wants to meet some full time cruisers, tempt them with ice and your fancy charter nibblies.
Mark, Dan and Brett
Thank you to both groups for making us part of your holiday.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Fishing Report Update - Lion Fish

Check out Beyond Burgoo tab or click here Lion Fish

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Marie Galante Terre de Blues Music Fest

Tom's write up of the music fest is on Tom's Music Corner tab or you can click here 16th Terre de Blues

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Dominica - Trafalgar Falls

We only had one day to go hiking in the south of Dominica.  I know, I know....not nearly enough time.  We chose Trafalgar Falls becuase we could easily get to and from it via bus and then a short hike.   Girard of sv Salt Whistle and his crew Renada joined us.

To put it was spectacular.

Getting up to the pool at the bottom of the left side waterfall was not easy.

But worth it.

Well worth it!

There were also hot "bubbling pools" to enjoy below the falls.
Side Note -  Dominica is close to bringing a geothermal power plant online for power.  Good for them.

Sights of Dominica

We fully intended on spending more time in Dominica this season as there are so many wonderful hiking trails and things yet to see.  But, our time ran short.  However, we did mange to get some exploring in.  Below are some of the sights
That is sv Honey Ryder on the far right in the background
Horses rolling on the beach and then going for a dip.  One was chopping at the bit (literally) waiting to get in.  Apparently they love it, pawing at the water once they are in.

Coconut water is really popular on Dominica.  This guy sold out completely by 10:30am at the Saturday morning market day.

We got to reunite with SV Somewhere.  It's been a year since we last saw them in Grenada.  They learned to hunt and spear Lion fish in Dominica.  We got to try some they caught at the PAYS Wednesday night BBQ/reggae night.  Yum.  Sharon even went out and got her own small size Hawaiian sling that better fits her petite hands.  Go team Somewhere!!  FYI - Lion fish are not native to the Caribbean but they are everywhere now and wreaking havoc on the native fish populations.  Hunting and eating Lion fish is encouraged but not easy as they have nasty poisonous spines so education, training and caution are needed.

Of course, I find island politics fascinating.  I think this guy covers his bases pretty darn good in terms of "relationships" from WEST to EAST.

Speaking of politics - I don't think I could get this close to the White House.

4H in Dominica.  Yay 4H.  Yes, I was a 4H kid and thanks Mom for hauling me to all the 4H events.

Great spice and rum shop in Roseau.  Thanks to sv Libertine for telling us about this place.
Bamboo fort

What a great tree

Hurricane David downed the tree on this school bus and now they are one

Crazy tree

Walk and drive through botanical garden.

Interesting government offices located on the grounds of the botanical garden.  Dominica is working very hard to protect their agriculture and thus disposing of yacht trash in Dominica is a bit challenging at times.  But I don't blame them.  Most countries don't allow foreign agriculture in including rubbish like peels/skins, cores and such as those can carry parasites into the country.

Boat Guys of Dominica Revisited

Portsmith anchorage
I hear a local boat approaching so I stop doing dishes and pop up into the cockpit.  I am alone on the boat as Tom is off for an early morning kayak paddle.  "Hi.  How are you this morning?  What is up today?"  I say to Titus of Lawrence of Arabia Tours.  "Oh.  Good.  Not much."  We chat a bit.  The PAYS (Portsmith Association of Yacht Services) guys might do the Wednesday night BBQ / Reggae night.  They are going to talk soon to decide and then they will announce on the VHF.  We chat about various other items.  "Okay.  I just came by to check on you guys.  I will see you later." he says before departing.  Of course he is also trying to sell island tours with Lawrence of Arabia Tours.

What a difference a year makes.  As I first reported to you last year - The Boat Boys of Dominica.....we were originally apprehensive of the boat guys.  But the PAYS union and the professionalism of these guys has put us at ease.
Roseau anchorage
Several days later we sailed south to Roseau, the Capitol of Dominica.  PAYS is not here but we had been told by seasoned cruisers to call Sea Cat on the VHF in order to take one of his mooring balls.  We hailed him three different times as we approached but got no answer.  It turned out he was doing an island tour with other yachties and his guy Desmond wasn't able to respond to our hail for some reason. Never the less, a boat guy did come out to greet us.  "No more moorings up there.  But I got ones back here."  Tom asked if he was working for Sea Cat or Poncho (another name we were given).  "No.  I'm Marcus and I work for Dominica Marine Center but I do security for all the balls and you will have to take one back here."  Back here was a grouping of empty moorings with no other boats.  We didn't want to be the only ones, off by ourselves.  There have been occasional reports of yacht boardings and theft in this area so we wanted safety in numbers.  I briefly wondered if there really weren't any moorings or if he was just trying to get us on HIS moorings.  Hum?  But we really couldn't see any open moorings ahead.  Tom confirmed the price and we followed him to a mooring ball.  Note - it's quite deep in parts of the anchorage and anchoring is tricky here so most recommendations are to take a mooring ball.  Once tied up, Tom confirmed again the price and who owns what mooring balls.  Marcus confirmed again that worked for Dominica Marine Center but does security for all the moorings.  Hum?  Note - our Doyle Cruising guide is several years old so Dominica Marie Center is not listed.  Anyway, sv Salt Whistle arrived a little while later and took the ball behind us and another French boat came in as well so we didn't end up being alone in our part of the anchorage.  AND thus there really weren't any open balls in the other area. Additionally, true to his word, Marcus buzzed by twice during the evening to check the boats.  We were in the cockpit both times so he said "Everything ok?"  We said yes.  The other boats were already dark (asleep) so he just did a visual check, motoring all the way around the boats.  Kewl.  

I share these stories because others might be apprehensive as we were at first.

Side note - From April 2015 All At Sea article by Carol M Bareuther - Hubert Winston is the owner of Dominica Marie Center.  He was born in Dominica.  He moved to Florida when he was 18, eventually graduated from the University of Miami with a MBA in Business and Corporate Finance.  A desire to address lack of marine services in Dominica lead him home where he opened Dominica Marie Center and put in additional mooring balls in Roseau.  Additionally, he hired Marcus Augustus to assist yachts with the moorings and provide security.  Bravo to Winston.  Click the link above to read the full article.      

Sailing In The Lee

In the lee of Dominica

Monday June 1st
Sounds lovely doesn't it?  A casual sail in the protected lee of an island.  Yep, and it can be.  But we have found sailing in the lee of these islands can be a mixed bag of winds, currents and of course fish traps (French islands) 

Take yesterday's sail.  The winds were up in the Portsmith anchorage around 15 knots straight out of the east so we had high hopes for a good sail down to Roseau on the south end of Dominica.  We set off with full main and slightly reefed headsail - we've learned to be prepared.  If you get greedy and put up too much sail, strong gusts can hit and at the very least round you up and occasionally lay a yacht over.  With an outgoing tide, we surfed out of Prince Rupert Bay on a broad reach at 7.5 knots.  Woo hoo!  Our Garmin chart plotter showed we would arrive in record time.  We turned south to head down the coast and the wind died.  D-I-E-D!  We were doing less than two knots..  Ugh.  But we could see wind ahead of us. that sailboat coming towards us (thus going north) also on port tack (meaning the wind is coming over the port side)  But we are on a port tack as well and we are headed south.  *OK readers.......who has right of way on that one?!  Yes, the wind was out of the west for a period of time.  During the dry season (Dec to June) the land heats up quickly and draws the cool air towards it and off the ocean and thus west winds can occur at times. So after luffing around a bit, we settled into a sail with west winds but on the light side.    
Dormant island volcano making it's own weather

A little while later we reached an area where an ancient volcano, lush and green with it's rainforest towered above the dry hills along the coast. Here the wet of the rainforest, even in the dry months, is enough to keep the land cool and allow the normal easterly trade winds to flow from east to west.  However, the height of the various volcanoes on these islands accelerates the tradewinds - greatly accelerate at times. Like screaming down into anchorages like Deshaies in Guadeloupe or Saint Pierre in Martinique and in certain spots along different coastlines. This is where winds can go  from 10 knots to 25+ or more in a matter of seconds. The buzz word (I despise "buzz" words because they are abused in the corp world to ad-nauseam ugh) for these ferocious winds is katabatic.  Any yacht with too much sail up could find a leisurely sail in the lee becoming very exciting in a flash.  There was a rumor this season of a charter cat actually flipping over. 

But it is so are having a great sail with winds at 10 knots but the boat is reefed so you you could go faster. You think...."Couldn't we put up more sail and get more speed?"  There are several of you readers out there that wouldn't be able to stand it -speed freaks that you are, you would be putting up more sail.  I've sailed with several of with little patience, more is better.....admit it!  You know who you are.  Anyway, the other day the wind finally settled down into a south wind.  South!  The direction we were going.  Ugh!  The forecast was not for a direct south wind but east southest.  However, in the lee of an island, it can often curve around the island and east southest can become south.  So we motor sailed the Rhum line tacking back and forth to Roseau.
In the lee of St Lucia
Additional note - I may have mentioned before but it's worth mentioning again. We have found winds between these islands can be strong at times, stronger than forecast.  We sail very conservatively - aka - we like comfortable and we don't like breaking stuff (gear, rigging, us).  We usually reef prior to sailing out from behind the lee of an island. We can always shake out a reef easier than putting one in - this is true regardless of the reefing system!  And....we have found it takes a little bit of sailing to truly get to the "clear" winds.   But that is just our experience to date and our strategy.  Everyone is different.
Final note -We have not yet sailed on the windward of any of these islands.    

Marie Galante

Jimmy Cliff - grandfather of reggae
We came to Marie Galante because 1.)  We have never been and B.)  The 16th annual Terre de Blues Music Fest is going on.  As you well know, we like music and especially live music so why not.  And finally Jean Louie sv Sagaramantha from Madicascar told Tom in Trinidad "Tom, you simply must go to Marie  Galante.  And you must rent scooters and buzz around the island."  This was said in his best English with a heavy French accent (of course) which somehow put extra emphasis on the importance of going.
Anchorage SE corner - we didn't anchor here

One of multiple big ferries - we anchored to the left

Our anchorage - tight

View to the NW inside the break water

Now Marie Galante is not easy to get to.  It's further east than most if not all of the rest of the islands that make up the eastern Caribbean, except for perhaps Barbados and Tobago.  What does east mean?  Beat to windward.  But we worked ourselves into a better position by setting off from Ilet du Gosier - just east of Pointe a Pitre Guadeloupe.  Oh......FYI Marie Galante is part of Guadeloupe, although as we learned at this music fest, they are fiercely proud to be from Marie Galante.  We heard "Marie Galanate" chanted several times during the 4 day fest and even a couple of songs with Marie Galante in them.  Anyway.....we were still close hauled to get there but we made it to the main town Grand-Bourg.  The entrance was a tad tricky but marked.  The harbor inside the break water has two ferry docks and then two docks that were mainly fishing boats - as in small village fishing boats, with a few sailboats thrown in for fun.  There was an anchorage off the fishing docks but not much room.
Interesting graffiti

Lunch time drumming jam
We looked at anchoring on that side but decided against it and man are we glad we didn't.  The big ferries need turning room for exiting the harbor.  The propwash from the stern thrusters on the ferries was substantial.  Then they would throttle up their jet engines as they were leaving the breakwater.  The jet wash was present in that side of the anchorage.  Instead, we opted for the even smaller area inside the NW corner.  It was really tight but arriving a day earlier made the difference.  The next day there was 30 mins of intense anchor watch when a French cat came in and took the private mooring ball very, very near to us.  They watched and we watch for awhile as we both swung through various winds shifts.  We didn't touch through all the wind angles so we gave a sigh of relief and set about having a good weekend.  Although, they were so close I now feel like we are family since I know what they had for breakfast, lunch and dinner plus a few other things I could have gone a lifetime without knowing but oh well.  * Yes, technically we shouldn't have anchored so close to that mooring ball but it was a tiny area and we took a chance.  If there would have been an issue, we would have moved.  
Tom, Norbert, Nicolai, Sabrina, Christian aboard sv Pamela

FYI - the anchorage outside the breakwater was terribly rolly when we were there.  Sv Pamela was out there.  We visited them twice and I kid you not.....roll city....and Tom and I have a high tolerance for roll.  

The main stage (left) and vendor tents

Vendor tents and the mooring ball the French boat took the next day

Anyway, our anchorage spot was no more than 100 yards from the main stage for days 1 and 4 as well as events during the daytime each day.  There were also all the supporting festival stuff - food vendors, arts and craft vendors, rum tasting (Marie Galante has several rum factories and the island is covered in sugar cane for making this rum), and kid activities....all in tents 100 yards from us.  Perfect.  I say perfect because the music and everything that goes with it is why we came.  It is amazing to me when cruisers anchor close to something like a music fest or even close to shore off a beach bar for easy access ashore and potentially free wifi and then complain about the noise.  Are you kidding me?    

Holiday rentals are everywhere - rooms, studios, apartments, houses, ect

We tried to rent scooters but with the music fest, there were none to be had.  We opted to take the bus one day.  There was some confusion (mainly on our part) but turned out ok.  We rode it to the end of the line and back.  That really confused the bus driver but he was a good sport, only shaking his head at the silly American tourist.  There were supposedly village stops along the way where we thought we might get out and wonder around but those villages turned out to be four or five houses grouped together in the countryside.  Other than a few towns, Marie Galante is primarily rural countryside filled with sugar cane, old abandoned rum mills and a few rum factories.
Fireworks the last night
Tom's Music Corner will at some point have an official write up of the actual Terre de Blues.