Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Cheri-O and Pinkies Up! Greetings from Antigua

Hello from Antigua, a very British island with a lot of fun bays, islands and anchorages to explore.

We checked into the country at Jolly Harbour and spent a week between Jolly, Deep Bay and Five Islands Bay.  The water in Antigua is an amazing color of teal and the sunsets at Jolly are enough to make you stop and stare while the sun says goodbye for the day.

We also love English Harbor so we cruised the Goathead Channel along the west coast of the island and anchored in Falmouth for a few days.  The latest cold front is moving in and the winds are backing to almost 350 (just west of due north)...crazy for the Caribbean and it's typical trade wind pattern.

Molly snorkeling on the Andes which sank in 1905 in Deep Bay, Antigua. Guess the bay wasn't deep enough :>)

The anti-siphon valve that keeps our aft-head (toilet) back flowing for a few weeks until we located the issue and replaced the $5 valve. Yay, boat projects.

New snubber and Wichard chain hook. The hook is french and very cool especially since we love all french sailing toys.
The much talked about and awesome Wichard chain hook. As an aside, Wichard donated a lot of hardware to Bernard Moitessier when he entered the Golden Globe race.

Fort Barrington overlooking Deep Bay.
View from Fort Barrington with Terrapin in the center and the Andes wreck barely visible on the far right
Obligatory dog & beach photo. This was secluded beach #4 on this day for Kala. #doglife
When you don't have kids you add more photos of your dog. :>)
The sail from Deep Bay to Five Islands, Antigua. We were doing 6kts with the genoa only. This was the kind of day that we look forward to.
Yes, the sunsets in the Caribbean are awesome too!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A picture is worth 1,000 words

Sailing by the Star Clipper Cruise Ship (from top of a wave)
Same picture from bottom of the wave - notice you can't see the 20 ft hull of the ship
Antigua sunset - waiting for the green flash
Anse de Colombier - Terrapin just to left of rock and Ile Forchue in background, St Marten in far background.
Leaving St Barth's...all those white dots are the dozens of mega yachts clambering for an anchor spot on NYE
One of ??(we lost count) squalls
After squalls, come rainbows....this one over St Kitts (we are on the leeward/ behind the island side) as we made our way to Nevis
Heading to anchor in Nevis for the night.  Christopher Colombus named Nevis "Nostros Senoras de los Nevis" or Our Lady of the Snows after the cloud that is usually over the top of the mountain.
Beautiful schooner as a neighbor in Nevis
Sailing to can see the volcano is still smoldering more than a decade after the first eruption and seven years since the last.
The view of Montserrat (you can see the bottom edge on the left side of the picture) as we sailed to Antigua 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Sailing South and East

As you may have realized, we really like St Barth’s.  The hiking, the beaches, the culture immersion, working on our “pigeon French” the mega-yacht sightseeing, it is all just fun!  But, we have other places to go and things to do so we ventured out into the Caribbean. 

This season has been very “unique” in that the forecasted stray squalls have not been stray at all – you can watch a line of them, sometimes 10 miles wide, cross from east to west on a daily basis.  One day I stood in one spot and counted four black rainy, windy squalls in every direction.  When you’re sailing, the squall could go from 15 knots to 40 knots in an instant, or it could just be rain with no wind change.  You never know.  The hard part is the sails you would use in 15 knots of wind are very different than in 40 knots….so, what’s a boat to do?  We end up hoping for the best and planning for the worst which means that we have very little sail up and don’t go very fast but are prepared for the big hit.

We were thinking about going south to Antigua which means going generally east from St Barths and, since the tradewinds (the same ones that Columbus sailed to the Caribbean) come from the east, it is hard to go east on a sailboat without a lot of tacking. (“Tacking”: since a sailboat can’t sail directly into the wind, which is from the east, you have to sail at an angle to the wind in one direction, away from your destination, and then tack, or change to the opposite direction off the wind, essentially making zigzags to your destination). Also, when the strong winds blow across the water they create big seas and swell. That means that a 30nm sail can actually be 50mn beating into lumpy 7-9’ seas.  Needless to say, this can get old and is the reason that early sailors coined the phrase; “Gentlemen don’t go to weather” meaning that no one with any sense, or the ability to avoid it, sails upwind (in this case, to the east).

So… since we don’t have better sense or no other options, we decided to take three days and head to Nevis and anchor overnight and then to Montserrat and anchor overnight.  From Montserrat, the trip to Antigua is more of a northeast direction and less than 30 miles without including the tacks.
We were happy (jolly?) to make Jolly Harbour, Antigua on New Year’s Eve and check in to the country – just in case they were closed for the holidays.  Every country requires boats to check in and out with customs and immigration but on top of that, with Antigua being previously a British island, they have strict regulations and document requirements for animals and Kala needed to be examined by a vet to obtain a permit from customs.  We set the anchor in a rainy and windy squall and set off to check in to the country and make arrangements for Kala.  With all that done, we enjoyed a great NYE dinner at a local restaurant and even stayed up until “cruiser’s midnight” (about 10pm).

Waking up to the beautiful teal color of the water in Jolly Harbour is a great way to start 2017 and we are excited for the adventure ahead!  Wishing you all the best of the New Year and hope you are making the most of every single day.

Dolphins are just amazing creature, wouldn't you agree?
Terrapin at anchor in Montserrat with Redonda (uninhabited big island/rock) and Nevis in the background.

Friday, December 23, 2016

St. Barth's Part Duex

Found a phone booth at Le Select
Kala's reward after every hike - surfing with her tennis ball
Our favorite Presidente - anyone care to move here?
Sure we had pics of Maltese Falcon at anchor in BVI - in St Barth's, we can watch her under way.  Notice the reefed sails (not all the way up) - like I said, winds have been high.
Our normal sundown celebration on the bow - fruity rum drink, almonds and cheese
Overlooking Anse de Colombier
The east (other) side of Colombier.  The swell is usually flat.  
Millions of fish in the sea...
Colombier on left, Ile Forchue in background on left....Africa is a couple (tens of) of thousand miles to right.
What a great life - swimming, hiking and Mom and Dad 24/7...I'm a happy girl.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

La Vie en St Barth's

Something has changed, my brain now thinks en francais.  If you spend enough time in the french islands trying to communicate - you know, when in Rome... 

Baxter, Kala and I left St Marten and have been hiding from squalls in St Barth's.  We spent a week at Ile Forchue, an uninhabited island which is 12 miles south of SXM and 2 miles north of St Marten.  There are mooring balls in the bay to protect the turtles, reef and fish from over anchoring and they are maintained by the Marine Park Office.  The day after we arrived, Tammy and Pete from Yolo joined us.  There were a couple days where our boats were the only ones there.  In fact, one morning, we didn't see anyone come or go between St Marten and St Barth's until late afternoon.  For a minute, I was wondering if an apocalypse occurred and we were the only people left on the planet.  That's what happens when you're off the grid.  Though there were lots of squalls and sustained winds, we hiked every day, snorkeled and enjoyed the simple life.  

We thought we would check in with the rest of the world, so we made our way to Anse de Colombier - also with managed moorings and took the dinghy to the Port of Gustavia to check in.  The next day, our friends Hakan and Anna on Unicorn were in the mooring field.  We haven't seen them in a couple years so we were super excited to join them for drinks and dinner on their beautiful boat that evening.  

The Christmas Winds are here and are not moderating much below 22kts, making sailing between islands a battle of wind and high(er) swell.  So, we are seeing more and doing more than ever on St Barth's but still managing to enjoy our Gold Star Days.  

Baxter and I have regular conversations about where we might go this winter and it looks like the plan remains TBD with the wind and seas....

One of the best spots in the whole Eastern Caribbean
Molly taking a picture of Baxter taking a video of a tortue (fr: turtle).
Beautiful, windy day on Ile Forchue - so fun to have Tammy and Pete from Yolo to hike with.
Look...the edge of a cliff (ugh...)
Terrapin in her happy place
La Tortue stopping by the boat to say good morning

Port of Gustavia - notice the mega yachts lined up over my right shoulder.  I'm sure there are plenty of celebrities paying millions for those - Baxter and I did it on our own for a lot less and we have the same view.
The runway in St Barth's can be dicey in high winds.  I wish I could capture the scream of the woman in the silver car when the plane flew over and the wheel almost touched her roof.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Fort Louis

We live aboard Terrapin because we love the freedom sailing provides and the places we travel.  We love to explore the people and the history of the islands.  Marigot Bay, where we are currently anchored, is the capital of French St Marten.  

In the 1700 and 1800s, Fort Louis was the prominent means of protection for the we thought we would go on a walkabout and find out more.  
Fort Louis and the flag at the top of the hill above the white building
L'histoire de Fort Louis
Marigot Bay - hard to believe there were wars fought here
Terrapin is just over Baxter's right shoulder.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Where There Is No Pet Doctor

Living aboard a sailboat with a crewmember who has four paws can be a challenge at times.  A worthy challenge, but a challenge no less.  Kala sometimes gets hurt or sick or has issues, similar to humans, but she cannot tell us what hurts or how it happened.  So, we have to do the best we can. 

One night we came back to the boat and Kala seemed agitated.  There was no wind that night and the mossies were out of control.  I thought she was frustrated and annoyed and a bit itchy so I gave her ¼ of a Benadryl.  The symptoms continued to worsen and I realized it was more than I suspected.  She was having an allergic reaction to something (still not sure but my best guess is a bee sting) and ¼ Benadryl was not going to make the reaction stop.  Using my reference guide for dosage, I gave her more Benadryl and stayed up with her until she fell asleep – around 3am.  I checked on her periodically through the night, followed up with another dose the next morning, and was so relieved when I finally saw a proper tail wag.
It might be hard to tell, but her skin was red and rashy...and she was agitated - classic allergic symptoms
My reference manual - highly recommended for anyone traveling with pets.