Thursday, 18 February 2016

Travels to Antigua and Beyond

All is well aboard Haven.   Currently anchored in Deshaies Guadeloupe. I'm not feeling great so while Al went out exploring I decided to stay in and rest and catch up on some up on some of my neglected  responsibilities.

We have covered a lot of ground in the last 5 weeks or so but time sure seems to be flying by.

Our latest travels have taken us from Grande Case up to the island Tintamarre in St. Martin for 2 nights before heading to St. Barthelemy (St.Barts). Visiting Ile Forchue, Gustavia harbour, and Columbier Bay. Harmonium and ourselves rented a car for the day an had a lovely day touring a very pristine and quaint island.

Tintamarre, French St. Martin

Ile Forchue, St. Barts

view to Columbier Bay from Ile Forchue

Gustavia Harbour

Valley at south end of St.Barts

Our anchorage in Gustavia, terribly rolly!

Hiking from Columbier Bay
Snack time. We came across these guys on our walk, still haven't found out the name of these land turtles.

 Columbier Bay, Ile Forchue in the background

After checking weather and trip planning we made a decision to leave St.Barts from Columbier and head to St.Kits/Nevis just to sleep for the night then head out to Antigua in the morning.  We chose this route as winds were suppose to be in our favour to SAIL and we could do a two day sail as oppose to an overnight. Sounds good, right?? No. Weather not as predicted. Stronger and on our nose. Haven and her crew lasted an hour of being beaten up before we decided we didn't really NEED to subject ourselves to this abuse.  So even though it felt like we were running back with our tail between our legs, it was a good decision.
While we were discussing  disappointment in getting separated from Harmonium, we got an email that they were on their way back.  After conditions did not improve they also called it but had a fabulous sail back to the anchorage, 8 hours later.   Another day of St. Barts was enjoyed by all then we left the following day at 7pm for a direct overnight sail to Antigua.

Turned into a motor sail with lots of squall activity to deal with but overall not a bad passage.

"Molly" was just adopted and spayed now awaiting her new family. 
A visit to the Donkey Rescue/SPCA on Antigua

Checking in at Jolly Harbour.  Al ended up with some issues that were not resolving after almost 2 weeks (Vertigo). So the next day we spent an afternoon getting it checked out at hospital in St. John's and testing out our health  insurance. He was treated very well and quickly. Blood work, EKG, CAT  Scan. Nothing of concern found, piece of mind. Within a few days after the Vertigo has resolved.

Over 2 weeks exploring Antigua with a 3 day detour up to check out Barbuda. Catching up with old friends that are now heading north and meeting lots of  new ones.  The best part was being able to spend some time with some very special folks, Robert and Heather, my segregate family from Mississauga spending their vacation at a resort in Antigua. It's was so nice to be able to share a bit of our cruising life with them.

celebrating Al's Birthday with Harmonium and Alpenglow

Devils Bridge

Nelson Dock Yard

View of English Harbour and Fort Berkeley Point

Our anchorage in Falmouth

Jolly Harbour. Our anchorage (photo below) is just outside the entrance to the left of the picture.

Super Bowl Party in Jolly Harbour. Robert and Heather, Sunkissed and Susan from Alpenglow

A great day on the water. Unfortunately we didn't get in as much sailing as we would have liked but Rob got to be helmsman for the the day. Great job, Al only closed his eyes a couple of times!

Parting ways in Parham, Antigua. Thanks for an awesome visit guys!

Trip to Barbuda, thanks to Pat and George our wonderful tour guides.
Tour through the lagoon to visit the Frigatebird rookery. What an amazing experience. 

Sink hole, from above and then from down inside.

Two Foot Bay, Barbuda

Helping out a fellow cruiser, John from Sunkissed, after a fall on the hike today. Extraction of some pretty nasty thorns! 

On to Montserrat for a couple of days. Once again a predicted great sailing day did not materialize, Nor did the trip from Montserrat to Guadeloupe. Just our bad luck? Inability to listen correctly to extremely detailed weather reports?? or  Mother nature conspiring to challenge us??

Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat

Town of Plymouth after the 2005 eruption.

Little Bay ancorage

Broken mast on vessel traveling from St.Kits to Guadeloupe. Al assisted with radio relays for them. They safety made it into Montserrat where an attempt was made with help from Al, Phil (Harmonium) and other cruisers to free the sails so he could carry on.  

Sediment (ash flow) from wash wash out after eruptions

Standing with our tour guide, Joe, on new shore line created post eruption.

View of Volcano as we sailed by to Guadeloupe

Check into Guadeloupe consisted of a single computer in a gift shop where the proprietor stamped our paper after printing, took our 4 euros and said welcome to Guadeloupe without even looking at our passports.

This anchorage in Deshaies offers entertainment every day as boats attempt to anchor in very deep water with high winds funneling down over the mountains.  Boats dragging, boaters yelling to those already stressed. We were well anchored the first night but have now grabbed a much sought after free mooring ball.

Customs and Immigration

Deshaies, Guadeloupe
Heading by bus to check out a couple of Rum Distilleries tomorrow, yum! Hopefully having happy hour with Serenada who is scheduled to sail in today from Dominica. They are heading north and although we visited in Ontario this summer, we haven't been on the water together since our first year. We are looking forward to the reunion!

That's all for now, love to you all. xo

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Moving on

January 8th, our last day in the BVI's. We have had such a fabulous adventure here for the last two months.  A wonderful area to explore, land and sea.

Virgin Gorda , St.Thomas, Culebra, Fajardo Puerto Rico,  St. John, St. Thomas, Tortola, Jost Van Dyke, St. John, St. Thomas, Tortola, Gorda Sound...round and round we go.  Al checked distance covered after arriving here in St. Martin and has reported that we have traveled over 700 miles.

After we said our goodbyes to Paige in St. Thomas we slowly made our way up to Gorda Sound as the jump off point to head to St. Martin with John and Nina aboard Sunkissed.  The winds were dropping every day with a predicted  weather window holding for the upcoming Friday/Saturday.  We waited the one extra day, leaving on Saturday afternoon , giving the seas time to "lie down" (look at me throwing out nautical terms!) Also, the later day the very light winds were going to turn slightly north hopefully at least allowing for us to keep the sail full while motor sailing.
Chris Parker called it! That is exactly how our trip went. Completely flat seas with only the  gentle beginning of a north swell. Very light winds, 4-7 knts,  but enough that 80% of the overnight 16 hour trip east  our mail sail kept us pinned comfortably.  We were able to keep the engine RPM's very low which kept the noise and heat down while maintaining 5 knts boat speed.  Next to being able to actually sail with the engine off, it was a perfect pass.

Gorda Sound
John on Sunkissed reeling in a fish during our trip to St.Martin. Unfortunately it was a Barracuda so they had to stick with their leftover chicken curry for diner! 

Sunset during the crossing.  It's actually been weeks since we have seen a proper full unobstructed sunset.

Top of Bitter End in Gorda Sound, looking directly toward St.Martin

This is how us cruisers make friends down here, dingy rescues!  The couple in the picture (Mel and Robert from UK) and Al rescued this dingy after breaking loose from a Catamaran anchored in front of us in Gorda Sound. We all were invited aboard Castellina II for happy hour with the very grateful, lovely owners  Gail and Ron. We had such a fun night! Thanks guys.

last view of the Virgin Islands

We arrived  and dropped anchor in Marigot Bay, French St. Martin at 7am.  It was a wonderful site to lay eyes on our long lost (not really) friends, Harmonium! Together again.  We managed a nap, a walk around town, and swim before heading to Harmonium for a absolutely wonderful  welcome meal of "home made" french delicacies. Official check in waited until the next morning as they are not open on Sundays. 

approaching St.Martin

Our first dinner in St. Martin,  A January tradition, Gallette des Rois (Kings Cake) whoever finds the stone gets to be king for the night.

No broken teeth, someone's feeling special!
                                                                                                                                                              The six of us have been having a blast eating and drinking our way around St. Martin. Krista and Phil have been here for 7 weeks making them fabulous tour guides,  giving us all the ins and outs on how to meet all our needs and wants.  I'm having such fun checking out the french grocery stores. New and interesting products and amazing quality for such great prices. Who knew how great canned Duck Confit could be.  Taking the hits that we have with the Canadian dollar, it's sure nice to be in a somewhere that you can get so much for so little. We have found some completely drinkable wine for 2 euros a bottle!!

The north swell built and was fairly significant in the anchorage for the first 4 days but has died out almost completely now. We fared not too bad but for a couple of  uncomfortable  nights of sleep .  Lots of boats that didn't manage to anchor close enough to or behind the break wall of the marina sure took some abuse from the ocean!

10 pastries for $5 in contrast we bought croissants in St.Thomas and paid $3 each!
(yes, some are missing we couldn't wait)

Dingy ride through the lagoon over to the Dutch side

Burning off the pastries

view of the French bridge, entrance to the lagoon

Lagoon, French to the right, Dutch on the left 

Marigot Bay, Haven at anchor

Fire in the hole!!
Lagoon entrance on Dutch side, Simpson Bay

Happy hour entertainment last night watching the 5pm bridge opening.

you can just make out the deck on the left where we would be standing

Philipsburg (Dutch)

Great food, great company

Having  visited both the French and Dutch side of the Island, via dingy, bus and foot, we feel like it is time to move on.  We will visit a few anchorages around the island as we make our way next to St. Barts and then on to Antigua for next weekend.

Hoping you are all happy and well and enjoying life whatever you are doing!!

Love to everyone! Talk again soon xo