March 19th 2015Position 18° 17.246’ N
65° 38.016’ W
I haven't written for a long time so I will try and catch up!
February 10th - March 10th. We spent a wonderful month in Florida although the cold weather for the first two weeks was a shock. It was unseasonably cold and a few records were broken with the cold temperatures. We survived nevertheless and enjoyed seeing friends and family. We stayed at our good friends John and Carol's home...they were to be away for a while in Honduras, with a group of other volunteers, where they provide help to orphaned children, just a wonderful cause. John is a Rotarian and it is through this organization that the trips are arranged. They make furniture for the school and orphanage, repair things and generally provide some services that the local people either lack the skills for or cannot afford to provide. While they were away we looked after their standard, 6 month old, poodle and another of the party's four year old black Labrador. We have not had a dog before and this was an experience. Quickly the two canines accepted us and the two weeks were fine, in fact we were exercised daily by the dogs who took us for walks (as apposed to us taking them)! In spite of the daily walks I still gained a few pounds due to the kindness of good friends inviting us to dinner! We had a great time and it was so good seeing and catching up with friends here in Sarasota, friends that draw us back and enable us to still call Sarasota 'Home'. Our medical visits were all successful and without event so that was a relief! These good results will enable us to continue living our dream for at least another year. It is a good feeling to have our health checked and to receive a good report. We have never been away from 'Partners' for this length of time before and are missing her. Today is the 1st of March and we are beginning to pack our stuff ready for our return. We are still awaiting the package from Naiad with all the necessary parts to service our stabilizers and to install the automatic pinning device. I know it is on it's way and weighs 23lbs! Lavinia, of course, has been buying some essential items that we have to have, you men out there know what I mean, right? As a result we have bought another suitcase to accommodate the extra things we have bought, I just hope that it is big enough!
It is the 6th March and we said our goodbyes to FOJ and Carol, their unbelievable kindness and hospitality has first, made our long visit possible and second, so enjoyable. They opened their home to us, truly as if it was our own...a huge thank you both!
|Night time view 34 floors up!|
|The Atlantic Ocean from orbit!|
We spent the last few days of our visit in Miami seeing my youngest daughter Georgina. She lives on the beach on the 34th floor of a condo complex...wow! The view is outstanding, just breathtaking! We had fun, experiencing the hustle bustle of Ft. Lauderdale and Miami but had experienced enough after four days and were glad to board the plane!
Arriving back in Puerto Rico we spent our first four days provisioning for our cruising season. Puerto Rico, like the United States, has Costco's and all the retail facilities that provide everything one could possibly want. Our provisioning really consists of buying things like toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning product and dry foods such as rice, pasta, cereal also canned goods like soups, chicken breast, tuna etc., we try to shop frequently in the islands for the daily fresh vegetables, meat and dairy products. We either bake our own bread or buy it locally. The canned goods enable us to remain in an out of the way location if we choose and not have to worry about food. Our canned and dried provisions can 'stretch' our ability to stay away from civilization if we want or need to. It is also easier to stock up with such items as oil and filters for Mr. White and Stonewall Jackson. We carry an over supply of 2 micron fuel filter for our fuel polishing system and Racor fuel filters and maintain a good stock of impellers and engine belts as well.
|'Partners' in Fajardo, PR at Sunbay Marina. |
Picture by Brian Smillie, m/v 'Gotta Smile'
As we cruise Lavinia and I frequently talk about where we would like to cruise next... We talk about the east coast of the United States, up to Maine and as far north as Newfoundland. We have a hankering to see the San Blas Islands and Cartagena, Columbia, from where we can explore a little of the South American interior. There is also Central America, so many choices...as much as we talk about leaving the eastern Caribbean we are still here! The lure of the islands is strong and I am sure that many cruisers have experienced the same feelings and decisions or indecision's as we face. We are still here in the eastern Caribbean and enjoying ourselves and have decided to stay for another year or two. The Eastern Caribbean is unique in so much as it has so many different island nations, close enough to 'island hop' easily between them. It is exciting having different countries and islands to visit and choose from. Around the world there are plenty of countries that have many islands but they are all the same country with the same culture. In the Eastern Caribbean there is so much diversity.
Our next stop when we leave Sunbay Marina will be Puerto del Rey Marina some 4 nm south where we will be hauled out in order to have our stabilizers serviced. The through-hull seals should be replaced every three years and it is time, we are also going to replace the hydraulic rams, one of which has bad internal seals. The item I am most excited about is the Centre Locking Device. When we are at rest the fins require pinning so that they don't move and bang when the boat rolls. The job is a pain in the neck and requires me to crawl into very hard to get to places to manually put the pins into place. The Centre Locking Device performs this procedure automatically and I can't wait, it will be a real treat to have it.
Arriving back in San Juan we met up with Sue and Rich Klumb, Sue and Rich spend most of their cruising lives in and around Culebra and the Spanish Virgins. They just happened to be traveling to and returning from Florida on the same days as us so we shared a rental car from San Juan airport to Fajardo where we had left 'Partners'. They keep their sailing boat 'Orion' in Culebra and caught a ferry which took them the 16 miles or so across to Culebra. We were so happy to find 'Partners' all in one piece with all systems working just fine. We kept the rental car for another four days in order to do the necessary provisioning shopping and to drive back into San Juan to shop for two chairs for our aft deck to replace the two that we stolen in St. Lucia. We found some! Two beautiful teak reclining chairs. With all the provisioning completed we returned the rental car and prepared 'Partners' for the short journey south to Puerto del Rey. On March 16th we said our goodbye's to Olga and her crew at Sunbay and set off.
Puerto del Rey is a 1,000 slip marina and is huge! Our assigned slip was on the periphery of the marina, golf carts are used to transport the boat owners around and one calls on the VHF radio to request a ride and in no time the cart arrives. In the slip next to ours was 'Bodacious' a 39' Kadey Krogen; we knew of the boat but had not met them. There are only a few Krogen trawlers in the Caribbean so when we see one another it is a big deal! Our meeting was brief as on the morning of the 17th we proceeded round to the travel lift bay and were lifted out and transported to our place right outside the workshop where the company who would be servicing and working on our stabilizers was located. Bob, the owner, welcomed us and started work immediately. Unfortunately we had to remove our washer and dryer to allow access to the starboard stabilizer so right from the start the boat was a mess. We kept telling ourselves that in three days we would be all back together and steaming East to St. Thomas. Everything went according to plan and Bob and his crew performed our work flawlessly. Fuel at the fuel dock was $2.70 for a US gallon so we filled up and took on 355 gallons which filled us up. On the 20th we left and arrived in St. Thomas just before dark.
|Enjoying tea at Nelsons Dockyard|
with Bill & Ann
|A beautifully preserved cannon on the ramparts |
of Fort Berkley
|The dinghy concert from the top of|
'Alegro's' mast, picture courtesy of
|'Partners' hosted a dinghy concert while in|
Antigua featuring 'White Chocolate' aka
our friends Dave and Trudie
cruised the island and did a circumnavigation. Antigua is an island that has many beautiful bays and beaches to explore most with great holding for anchoring. We could have stayed for a long time but broke ourselves away to cruise south to Les Saintes for a short stop before another passage south to Martinique where we would linger to get as large a dose of 'France' as we could.
On the island of Martinique we like to go to the south eastern corner and stay in Sainte Anne and Le Marin. The marine services in Le Marin are great and the shopping is good too. In Sainte Anne there is the beach and it provides peace and quiet...the town is small, really a village, there are a few restaurant's and bars, there is a market, church and pharmacy, so the essentials. The water in the well protected bay is clear, the bottom is sand which makes for good, easy and safe anchoring. Le Marin on the other hand is a larger town with most things a cruiser needs, many boat services, great grocery shopping and good restaurant's abound. We love being here and always stop for our 'fix', the boulangeries are superb and the cheeses are to die for...vive le France!
Soon it was time to head farther south...hurricane season was on its way and we need to seek the lower latitudes. This year we had made the decision to continue to cruise rather than sit at anchor in the southern bays of Grenada or a slip at Crews Inn Marina in Trinidad, at least for part of the hurricane season. Our plan was to cruise the Grenadines; the Grenadines are the islands that make up the country of Saint Vincent and stretch to the northern shore of Grenada. Petite Martinique and Carriacou plus a few very small islands are the exceptions and at the southern end of the chain and belong to Grenada, all however are known as the Grenadines. We made passage directly to Carriacou from Bequia which is a day cruise. Carriacou is a good base to cruise the Grenadines from and is again a day cruise to the southern bays of Grenada which our insurance company considers a safe hurricane season location. With improvements in the accuracy of weather forecasting we receive pretty good 4-5 days warnings of foul weather, tropical storm development plus the normal wind and sea condition advisories. So, in the event of a serious weather event being forecast we can 'run' south and be in a safe location and be fully covered by our insurance policy in the event of a claim.
What we did throughout the summer, July through the end of September, was to make sorties north from Carriacou exploring Union Island, Mayreau and the Tobago Cays. Our first destination was Petite St. Vincent a small private island just to the NE of Carriacou. There we spent two days and explored using our dinghy. Very close by is a small island, really a sand spit named Mopion. Originally it, apparently, was named Morpion but due to the locals inability to pronounce Morpion it became Mopion.
|The Tobago Cays|
|The Tobago Cays|
The Tobago Cays are a national park and charge a EC$10 per person daily admission. The Cays have much marine life including turtles and hundreds of colourful fish. The water is beautiful with visibility close to 100' We traveled from Carriacou with our good friends Les and Veronika on their sailing vessel 'Golightly', the two of us were the only boats there. During the cruising season at least 50 boats are usually in the park so this solitude was amazing, we spent four days just enjoying our surroundings, exploring the five islands that make up the Cays in our dinghy's. We walked the beaches and snorkeled the reefs; we were living the Robinson Crusoe life. The whole park is protected bay an enormous horseshoe reef to it's east which ensures safe anchorage in all sea conditions (not hurricanes!). We were achieving our goal of cruising at a time when most boats were further south, the Grenadines were deserted! From the Cays we sailed to Mayreau and explored the islands bays and the town, a very steep walk as it is on top of the hill which is the island! The islanders are welcoming, they are interested in cruisers and we struck up many conversations, the walk is worth it! The view of the Cays and reefs from the church yard is outstanding. Saline Bay and Saltwhistle are the two anchorages, Saline the less commercialized and with a beautiful deserted beach.
|Anse La Roche|
|Anse La Roche|
|Baby Tiger Shark|
At the end of September we made passage to Grenada and anchored in Woburn Bay where we waited for a weather window to leave for Trinidad where we had a reservation for the month of October. While in Grenada we were able to invite friends Kaaren and Mike from 'Nauti Dog' along with Dave from Seas the Moment (Becky, Dave's wife was visiting UK and sadly we missed her) for a dinner party...good times! Luckily the weather cooperated and we had an uneventful trip to Chaguaramas, Trinidad. We had flights booked on the 5th October to fly to Miami. Both of us wanted to re-position some of our required doctors visits so they did not continue to fall in the middle of the cruising season. All went well including an unplanned dental appointment for a toothache that to fix ended up requiring a crown, $$$ ouch! While we were away in Florida Dynamite marine overhauled our toilet and holding tank system, installing a new discharge pump leaving us with a fully operational old one as a spare. They cleaned all the calcium and other build ups that occur in the holding tank and hoses, a job that we consider preventative maintenance and recommend doing every five years whether it is needed or not! In Florida we were able to meet up with all but one of our six children and six of our eight grandchildren...wow!
|Dinner with the daughter and granddaughters|
|My son Chris's youngest Matthew.|
|Daughters and Granddaughters|
I am writing this as we prepare to fly back to Trinidad on the 19th October. We have our annual haul-out scheduled for November 2nd when we will apply new anti-fouling bottom paint ready for our 2016 season. We will provision and refuel at the good Trinidadian prices before heading north to our first stop in Martinique...
Again this year a group of us will be making tracks to Antigua for another, we hope, great Christmas Holiday.
Present Location:- Chaguaramas, Trinidad and Tobago 10° 40.741’ N 61° 37.961’ W