April 24th 2016Position 18° 20.094’ N
64° 55.508’ W
I've been terribly lazy this past year, there is an explanation however, more like an excuse actually... Since buying 'Partners' over five years ago and moving aboard her permanently, to find a viable and accessible internet connection using our Wirie AP signal booster has become more and more difficult. To find free stations to use onboard they must be password free or one must know the password, they also must be strong enough to be viable from a speed standpoint. Most people and businesses, like us all, have become much more security conscious over recent years and protect their systems with a password, so accessibility is not possible for those stations. Internet in the Eastern Caribbean is not like on the mainland of first world countries such as most European nations, the United States and Asia. Some islands are only now just beginning to introduce 4G, only in Puerto Rico have we come across LTE service. We could access reasonable WiFi ashore in many of the cafés that provide it to their patrons. The thing here though, packing up ones laptop in a splash proof dry bag, dinghying ashore and then walking to said café becomes a low priority. Sitting in a café requires one to buy a drink/food to justify ones tenure so after five coca cola's i.e. sixty spoons of sugar, participation in this excursion should be avoided at all cost! So, this ramble is to explain that once it becomes difficult to write and publish a blog, also to post high definition pictures, guess what...it goes to the 'back burner' list and doesn't get addressed, I'm guilty! We are presently in Chaguaramas Trinidad where we are taking shelter from the risks of storms during hurricane season and here we have fairly good free internet onboard provided by Crews Inn Marina where we are berthed, so here I am tapping the keys again...
It has been over a year since I have written and much has happened; After leaving Chaguaramas in Late November 2015 we set sail north for a non-stop passage to Sainte-Anne, Martinique, the route took us to Point Saline at the SW corner of Granada and then a rhumb line course directly to Sainte-Anne, a total of 258nm, we stood 'three on and three off' watches during the night hours, 19:00 - 07:00, which suites us. During the day it is a free for all with whomever wanting to take watch staying in the pilothouse while the other either sleeps, eats or reads. The passage was uneventful. We stayed in Sainte-Anne for two weeks enjoying the wonderful French food, wine and cheese. Being a full department of France all the goods required to sustain the island are shipped or flown in from France, very little, if anything comes from the United States or other Islands. We feel the quality of all produce and foodstuff is of the highest standard. The influence of Europe is evident where there is a move away from and to ban any foods that are genetically modified. The meat is void of hormones and the cattle are grass fed. All this adds up to, what we feel, is a more healthy lifestyle. Anyway, we love the civilized way of life, lunchtime is sacred with almost all people stopping to enjoy an hour or two's break; the shops close and the restaurant's buzz with activity. Lunch, for many here, is the main meal of the day and those eating a good lunch may have a light leisurely dinner later in the evening. It is not unusual to find many restaurants' still open after 10PM full with patrons enjoying conversation, wine and a little food. Weekends too remain sacred with some shops closing on both Saturday and Sunday and most shops closing on Sunday.
By early December we began to prepare for our next passage which was to Antigua where once again we had planned to spend the Christmas Holidays. A group of us had planned a Christmas gathering many months previously and having had such a great time in Antigua for Christmas 2015 Gavin, onboard 'Secret Smile,' was the instigator to, once again, try and repeat that event. Many of us were now anchored in Saint-Anne so the plan was to travel north together stopping in Portsmouth, Dominica and Deshaies, Guadeloupe for overnight rests before reaching Antigua. In Deshaies we went ashore to clear out from France and also to visit one of the best pizza restaurants in the Caribbean, oh it was good! All was well overnight and in the early hours of the morning half a dozen boats set off from Deshaies towards Jolly Harbour, Antigua. the conditions were favourable with steady east winds and 4' or less seas, ideal conditions for the sailing boats and perfectly okay for 'Partners', while our stabilizers were working! You guessed it, half way to Antigua, a 40 plus nautical mile passage, our stabilizers stopped working. Upon inspection it was apparent that the system had lost oil pressure indicating a leak somewhere. Without stabilization our round bilge, full displacement hull, was rolling! Life became quite uncomfortable, not dangerous but uncomfortable. We finished the trip and were very happy to arrive at Jolly Harbour. We cleared in to Antigua at the Immigration, Customs and Port Authority offices which are a short dinghy ride from the anchorage. We only stayed in Jolly for a couple of days before we travelled south and east round to Falmouth Harbour which was to be our anchorage for the Holidays. We were able to find a hydraulic technician to work on our stabilizers. We carry many spares and the technician determined that we had a defective hydraulic ram on our starboard unit, fortunately we had a spare! It didn't take long to effect the repair and after a good test ride we approved the job.
By this time it is mid December and all the participants have arrived. 'Life on the Corner' the restaurant we enjoyed our Christmas Dinner in last year sadly was closed! We all made suggestions for a venue and eventually decided that Pillars, a very nice restaurant in Nelsons Dockyard was to be the Christmas dinner venue. We had many good evenings leading up to Christmas and enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Pillars. After Christmas we left Falmouth Harbour and visited many of our favourite bays, Antigua is blessed with so many lovely beaches and bays and claims to have 365 beaches, one for every day of the year! Soon it was time for us to depart...
Lavinia and I with Les, our good friend onboard 'Golightly', had decided to visit St. Martin. Neither of us in three years of cruising the Eastern Caribbean, had cruised there. We planned to stop at Saint Bart's for a few days too. Our passage was uneventful and we made a safe arrival to Anse Colombier. In the bay there are many mooring balls which we used. Saint Bart's is a beautiful Island but being a playground for the rich and famous, is expensive! We enjoyed two days ashore walking around the capital Gustavia. We also marveled at the congregation of so many of the worlds biggest mega yachts which gravitate here for New Year festivities. St. Bart's is the place to be for New Years Eve; the island has gained a reputation for great festivities and a good time, the word has definitely spread among the rich and famous...
Leander G, the yacht the
Queen Elizabeth II of England
was lent gratis by Sir Donald Gosling
to complete her Diamond Jubilee touraround the UK in 2012
Partners parted company with her sailing companion Golightly and we headed NW to Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. I had a doctors appointment in St. Thomas in April and we wanted to cruise the British, US and Spanish Virgins.
We arrive safely in Virgin Gorda and cleared in at Gun Creek where the dinghy dock is literally outside the customs and immigration office, very convenient. We always enjoy time here and visit both the Bitter End Yacht Club, Saba Rock and Hog Heaven, the view is not to be missed. Our anchorage here is just south of Prickly Pear towards the west end, we can dinghy everywhere within the North Sound from here. After a few days of relaxing we cruised west down the Sir Francis Drake channel to Jost Van Dyke in the BVI where we cleared-out. We love to anchor just south of Little Jost Van Dyke island it is usually empty, the water is crystal clear and swimming and snorkeling is a joy. The island is uninhabited although there is one very nice beach bar at the west end. Just across on the main island is Foxy's Taboo which is an annex to the legendary Foxy's located in Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke.
We spent the next month just island hopping in the Virgins before arriving in Farjardo, Puerto Rico. We stay in Sunbay Marina which has become our 'Northern' marina home. Olga, the owner, takes exceptional care of us and 'Partners' during our visits. We fuel up here, visit Costco's, Walmart, Home Depot and many other stores...Lavinia visits TJ Maxx and all those 'women' shops! By time we have completed our stay we are provisioned well enough to cruise for a couple of months without having to plan food stops, perfect for the British Virgin Islands where food and supplies are expensive. The USVI island of St. Thomas is a duty free island and is also reasonable for shopping although not quite like Puerto Rico. We like the Charlotte Amalie anchorage and the comings and goings of the cruise ships, is entertaining. Our favourite bay is Magens on the north side of the island it has a beautiful beach and is huge, bigger, in fact, than Charlotte Amalie. The beach is beautiful and the odd thing is that the bay is usually empty! A note for other cruisers is: one cannot beach ones dinghy so there are two options, one is to anchor just off the west end of the main beach and wade in, the other is: one can beach ones dinghy on the small beach on the west side of the bay from here it is possible to safely wade in; we often spend time on the little beach relaxing and swimming , it is so private and unspoiled. While in Magens Bay we met Tony and Angela, husband and wife crew of the 118' yacht Andrea Cay.
One other obligatory visit was to the 'Room With a View' in Charlotte Amalie. The happy hour prices are terrific!
It is now the third week in April and we are looking for a weather window to set off back to St. Martin. Our plan is to 'Yellow' flag it through the BVI...