Google+ Followers

Friday, 23 June 2017

Bequia

After a spirited close hauled sail of only 4 hours, we reached Admiralty Bay. A fantastic natural harbour as good, if not better than the last one. We found a safe easy spot to anchor, near the middle of the bay as it appears quite crowded elsewhere. We promptly dragged anchor when trying to power set, so up it came and we anchored between a catamaran and a monohull off Lower Bay Beach. We didn't like the variable wind and current there, so the next morning we moved again close to Jacks Beach Bar and remained there for the rest of our stay.
With a mixture of natural and man made beauty we enjoyed it here very much!
Princess Margaret Beach


The Customs/Immigration was easy and friendly, in fact we were astounded by how nice the people are here. There is a bank, supermarkets, cafes, bars, restaurants with good wifi. Plenty of docks to park the dinghy and a special area for your yacht rubbish, a very very good chandelry, although on the expensive side. One drawback is that water has to be bought, as in most of the islands in this part of the Caribbean, however they do give a good service as bright green/yellow boats patrol the anchorage with water, diesel, ice, laundry service written on their side. We didn't need their services as our water lasted until we managed to collect rain after a few false alarms weather wise.
Artemis (nearest to the camera)

Alison on one of our walks

We spotted Wade & Marysia aboard S/V Pintado and we had a few get togethers. Wade is learning to play the guitar so I tried to give him a lesson and encouragement, he's doing very well. Payback for him diagnosing our fridge/battery problems in South America.

Buying bread in the Caribbean can be a bit hit and miss, mostly just ok. However at the Porthole Restaurant & Shop, the proprietor bakes her own and sells it. Fantastically delicious, white or brown, the type of bread that you don't waste a morsel. It's best to check when the next batch is coming out of the oven so as not to be disappointed. We plucked up the courage to ask for a bread making lesson  and she said Yes! Thank you so much!
So now in theory we can replicate the fantastic 'Porthole' bread. On our first try she had warned that we had heavy Trinidad flour and to use a different one - came out good though. The next time on our own, it seems that our yeast had expired as the dough didn't rise properly, so we decided not to waste  the gas cooking it..One day!
Arriving at one of the dinghy docks to see Chris & Elaine (S/V Nemo)

After a few weeks S/V Nemo arrived and we hatched a plan to sail together for the next week or so.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Tyrell Bay Part 2

At Tyrell Bay yachts leave and arrive constantly. Sooner or later friends and acquaintances you've met while traveling are bound to turn up! Just as we were feeling a bit lonely, in came Doug & Katie on S/V Casa Tu with pals Chris & Elaine on S/V Nemo and we got on very well indeed. We went snorkeling together on the other side of the island and entertained each other for drinks etc.....then S/V Chrystal Blue arrived ( Neil & Ley), a pleasure to see again...then S/V Galatea, Ernst & Anne Marie, who gave us information including brochures from further north, very handy! We also visited fellow Hunter owners Michael & Pam aboard S/V Moorhen of Yorkshire, who entertained us for afternoon tea and delicious homemade cake.
S/V Crystal Blue
Walking back from snorkeling 

We had discovered a big mama pig chained to a tree near the boatyard and we collected our peelings, carrot tops etc to feed her. We had checked on the internet what was ok to feed pigs and the owner said it was ok and that she was pregnant.
Lovely Mama Pig

A disturbing feature of Tyrell Bay, was the poisoning of dogs by one individual or more....very sad. The Lambi Queen was where we went to get wifi and one day their puppy started foaming at the mouth as Alison was stroking him. She rushed in the bar to let the owners know that the puppy had been poisoned. We don't know what happened however we didn't see the puppy again.

On one trip ashore, we pulled our dingy up on the beach, then some more. We popped into the local shop and along to the greengrocer. When we returned 'Lil'Arty', the dinghy was gone!!!! A French couple had just landed and we asked them if they had seen it...no they hadn't. Looking out into the bay we eventually spotted it, almost back to Artemis...unmanned. Luckily for us a couple of local guys who had a floating bar/restaurant in front of our boat caught it for us. The French guy offered to take me to the dinghy and we set off to retrieve it. Unfortunately he ran out of petrol a few yards off shore but it was ok as he had petrol on his yacht which was close by.....oops his wife had the key back on shore 'C'est la vie' said I. By this time, the local guys had started our dinghy engine and brought it to us with theirs in tow. We thanked them profusely and tipped them each $10EC...thanks again guys! After that incident we always tie or chain the dinghy to a tree or post.

Another dinghy related mishap, was when locking it to Artemis on an evening, l dropped the padlock overboard. The next day Alison got her snorkeling gear on and tried to find it and retrieve it. She managed to find but had difficulty trying to reach it which was about 6 meters down on the sea bed. Then I had a go, with instruction from Alison ( She's a much better swimmer than me) on my technique. By taking a small breath instead of a big one, l could almost reach it. Alison inspired and rested had another go and came up victorious with padlock in hand...well done!
Got the padlock back!

After quite a number of weeks we set off for Bequia, highly recommended only a couple of islands away (about 4 hrs).
Weighing anchor proved quite a challenge...even when the boat was directly above and breaking out the anchor, I found it extremely difficult to pull the anchor up. When it surfaced the reason became  clear. I had not only pulled up our 20kg Bugle but also a rusty 35lb CQR with attached chain of unknown length as well. Thankfully it wasn't in use by another yacht but part of the discarded/lost items that foul many popular anchorages. I dislodged the extra anchor from ours as we exited the bay. If it had been a Rocna or other good anchor I would have got it aboard some how some way! Haha!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Trinidad - Carriacou

In the late afternoon of 19/3/17 we left Trinidad for Carriacou (small island North of Grenada). An evening start is recommended to avoid Venezuelan Pirate boats. The latest report was during the recent fishing competition....a sports fisher boat was approached by armed men in a high speed boat. The fishing boat cut his lines and made a run for it and due to its more powerful engines was able to escape back to Trinidad.
We motored along the Northern coast for a hour or so, then headed North again close hauled, as close to the wind as we possibly could and the current pushed us sideways. The night was blustery to start with however calmed down the nearer we got to Grenada. We cleared the windward side with no problems through the oil fields. A look at our chart plotter told us that to have the current in our favour, to sail through the pass between Grenada and Carriacou, we needed to step on it a bit. More sail out and we had a knot and a half faster (7 1/2 knots), we made it! Unfortunately we didn't reach Tyrell Bay before nightfall, arriving at 7:30pm in moonless darkness....not recommended! We cautiously entered the bay, Alison on the bow with a search light. We avoided an anchored tug, a couple of sailboats and anchored as soon as possible in 7 meters of water with 35 meters of chain.
We got a surprise come morning, as our estimate of half a dozen yachts, after counting anchor lights, turned out to be more like 40. We moved closer in the bay in daylight to 5 meter depth for better shelter from swell and shorter dinghy rides ashore.

Artemis in Tyrell Bay

Tyrell Bay

The customs etc is all in one office at Tyrell Bay Marina and the road along the beach shore is lined with shops, bars, restaurants and Scuba Diving businesses. It's a lot quieter here and a real pleasure to swim off the back of Artemis into the clear blue water.
The main town of Hillsborough is a short minibus ride away and although this island is more expensive than we have previously experienced, there is value to be had and a surprising variety of goods.
The anchored boats change daily with charter and private yachts, coming in and out and several cruisers we met in Trinidad have, to our pleasure, paid a visit.
The climate is pretty ideal, being a little cooler with a strong breeze from the land and great solar power as the boats back to westward. The only negative is the lack of rain, to catch at this time of year and so we have had to purchase 40 liters from the Marina.

Alison's finished Grenada flag

Feeding the pig

Lovely walk over the Island 

Miles & Alison, Doug & Kate S/V Casa Tu (we had been snorkeling in the bay behind us)
Alison found our dinghy lock after I dropped it!

An old wreck that didn't make it into Tyrell Bay



Thursday, 13 April 2017

Chaguaramas

The Customs and Immigration offices are conveniently located near Crews Inn, the hotel and marina complex in one corner of the bay. This is easily identified by the lighthouse style structure above its restaurant. For the dingy dock, turn right just before the lighthouse. Checking in is best done in office hours or you have to pay an overtime penalty. You just arrived.....RIGHT!
Buoys are around US$ 8 per night and they come to you for payment.
After a week or so of settling in, finding supermarket, ATM, pricing boat parts etc, we went to inquire about getting Artemis hauled out at Power Boats and Peakes. We chose Peakes as the yard was smarter, great chandlery, new beautiful toilets/showers, a small beach and staff that couldn't be more helpful. 

Artemis being hauled out...note the keel, was white!!!
In the trailer after a power wash...a bit better!

Our time in the yard was extended by 1 week to 3 as Alison was full of cold and promptly handed in her sick note, tut! Never mind but after the 3rd week we were glad to get back in the water.
Work carried out was as follows:-
Waterline raised and new bottom paint applied...after sanding
Max Prop serviced
Boom re-riveted 
Jib and main sail repaired
Steering serviced with new parts (parts made at the machine shopping site)
New toilet fitted
Spray hood re-stitched
Topside polished
More anchor chain and shackles purchased....chain marked for depth
Engine fully serviced
Lil' Arty repaired (dinghy)
Fitted new solar regulator
Modified Bimini for catching rainwater
Two second hand gas bottles acquired
Numerous smaller jobs......
The first 4 jobs were done by the yard...we did the rest....phew!!!!
Artemis after all the work....lovely!

Going back in the water....yippee!!!


After our busy time in the yard we motored to Scotland Bay for 10 days peace and quiet, whilst the Carnival was in town. Not exactly as planned...the world and his wife turned up. Local people arrived in every conceivable boat, getting dropped off and making encampments in the trees, on the shore, bringing everything they needed for an extended stay....tents, food, drink, gas bbqs, fishing equipment, music (with powerful speakers), generators etc. Power boats were zooming in & out, Jet Skis round & round and twice a day the party boats appeared for an hour or two with their DJs blasting out the latest beats.

Scotland Bay...before the crowds!

One night we were awoken by the Customs launch and interrogated at torch point (1:30am). Apparently we should have informed the Customs Office that Artemis was out of the water, back in the water and our visit to Scotland Bay.....yes sure!
Anyway, back to Chaguaramas we marveled at the oil platform ships coming in and out and the oil/ petrol slick that was mucking up my hull...lovely! Actually the ships were good!

Lots of ships

We listened to the Cruisers net every morning on ch68, socialized at Bbqs, jam sessions and informal sundowners outside Power Boats restaurant/bar. We caught the bus to the Port of Spain finding some interesting shops, especially fabrics and sewing machine parts, and Price Smart...wholesale shop where we stocked up with provisioning.
St Valentines dinner...thanks Miles xx

New Year...New Destination

After New Year it was time to head for Trinidad, to get Artemis lifted for new bottom paint and other repairs necessary.
We weighed anchor 11/1/17 and motored back down the Paramaribo River...wind on the nose! We could see from the river all the parts of the city that we had visited on land...very nice! We anchored at the same place (before the mouth of the river) as we did on the way up and after a relaxing afternoon and a good nights sleep, we left Suriname for Trinidad.
The first day sailing was good but on the night the wind increased dramatically, so we reefed to keep control, however it was uncomfortable with the waves slapping on the side. The next day was a bit slow to start with but the breeze picked up and by the afternoon we were doing a nice 6 knots which continued through the evening and night. On day 3 we hit 3 squalls, sea 2 meters, 61/2 knots....reefed down. On the evening of day 4 we had to do something drastic to get back on course as the current and wind had conspired to push us westerly. It seemed that all roads led to Venezuela, which we definately didn't want to go anywhere near due to the instability and reported pirate attacks. There was only one thing for it......motoring north into the wind and swell for 15 hours. We hit a city of squalls! They were all around us but we could see which ones would hit and which would miss. 
Whilst in Suriname, we had bought some waterproof outdoor material and fashioned a hood extension/Bimini with the help of a pole across our backstays. This worked remarkably well for a first attempt and protected us from the sun and rain. An added bonus was that we couldn't stand up under the boom because of it, so no chance of knocking our heads.
Artemis was behaving like a hobbyhorse, dunking her nose then tail into the sea, ocean cascading down the decks....great fun...not!
Once sufficiently northward, we were able to alter course and start sailing again. Close hauled but the sea a lot calmer. We both felt exhausted! We enjoyed good sailing, however being close hauled all the time makes you ache as the boat is heeled to one side, so you are continually bracing yourself.
By day 6 we were able to change course to a beam reach, with 55 miles to go to our waypoint (just after Galera Point, Trinidad).
Day 7 Turning between the Islands..Tobago on one side (in the distance) and the north of Trinidad to our port, we motored as the wind was yet again against us. The wind, current and tides here combine to give the strangest sea we have yet seen. Short and spikey, surging this way then that, similar to a boiling cauldron. Deepest cobalt blue, the colour turning to green as we turned to navigate the narrow pass between mainland Trinidad and Monos Island (on the chart as one of the Dragons mouths). The seas power is very strong here and increased our revs to keep a steady course avoiding Chapeau Rock (wrongly marked on Navionics charts as underwater.....Not the case!!!). We passed Scotland Bay, a popular anchorage but not permitted if you haven't checked in at Customs/Immigration first. A little further to Chaguaramas. We motored around the corner, very wary as there seems a lot of places...boatyards, marinas, industrial docks and ships that service the oil platforms to the north and west....such a small area!

Trinidad 

The passage to Chaguaramas  


View from Artemis, the 2 boatyards, Peakes to the left and Power Boats to the right

We found one of the two remaining anchor buoys and finally relaxed midday. We chose not to anchor as Internet reports and cruisers we had met said that the anchorage bottom is very foul with ropes, nets, chains, sunken vessels etc...

Saturday, 8 April 2017

On to Suriname

Mid morning, on the outgoing tide 18/11/16, we departed St. Laurent du Maroni, together with 'Awelina of Sweden'. We anchored for the night, just before the mouth of the river in Crique Coswine remembering to install our mosquito screens.
Anchored in Crique Coswain

The next morning we set off motoring all morning. In the afternoon we poled out our jib for downwind sailing. Awelina disappeared over the horizon. The next day we motored all day due to lack of wind. We were too late for the incoming tide when we arrived at the Suriname river so we anchored off the channel about a mile inside the river mouth.
Anchored in the mouth of The Suriname River

After a restful night we caught the tide and motored swiftly up this very interesting river. Lots of houses line the banks, much industry and a spectacular arching road bridge spans the river near Paramaribo. Many people waved and we already felt welcome here. One barge rang a bell to attract our attention and as we turned to look, took our photographs, smiling and waving.....nice!
The road bridge spanning the river

Finished sewing Suriname flag
We arrived at Waterland Marina at 1pm, where James & Fiona (Awelina) took our ropes and offered us cold beer.....thanks guys!
Noel, the owner gave us a very warm welcome. The pontoons are excellent, the gardens are beautiful and Noel has built several luxury holiday villas. We stayed 10 days then moved a few miles down river to Domburg on anchor, to save some sheckles and to have better access to local shops. Waterland was quite remote and other cruisers hired cars quite cheaply to get about, however with neither of us driving, it wasn't ideal for us.
Waterland Marina
Gardens at Waterland

Inconveniently, customs check in & out were in various locations in Paramaribo. The marinas can help and provide a car with a driver to make this easier. Luckily we purchased our tourist visa in French Guiana which saved us a trip!
We visited Paramaribo city many times on the local bus. The population is a real melting pot with many cultures, mainly Asian Indian, Chinese and Dutch. English is widely spoken and we had a very good time shopping and eating out...inexpensive!
The Palace in Paramaribo 
Beautiful old houses, many were being renovated
Palmentuin in Paramaribo 
James, Fiona & Miles strolling along one of the many beautiful streets

Domburg marinas' clientele were mainly Dutch and they tended to socialize with each other...who can blame them! They were however British, South African, French and Australian cruisers to drink, chat and have a laugh with. The climate was a little cooler with a pleasant breeze coming down the river and a good downpour just about every afternoon. With our fridge issue, still not resolved, we had to run the engine every now and then to charge the batteries. The Suriname river is is very muddy and cruisers with water makers couldn't use them, however the marina had a tap where you could fill containers when required.
Domberg Marina

Miles' birthday at Domberg Marina Bar.....dessert and candles surprise from James & Fiona!

Again, not a lot of exotic wildlife. You had to go on a 'Jeep Safari' up river to see anything unusual, but from others experiences you would have to pay us to go i.e. Jeep turned out to be a clapped out mini van....got 2 flat tyres and the occupants had to thumb a lift....basic accommodation with no aircon...mosquitoes & biting spiders to contend with !!!! They did see a Sloth and a Anteater!!!
Wildlife we did see in abundance were Red Ibis',Vultures, Parrot like birds who only flew in pairs and every morning/evening, the roar of the Howler Monkeys.
We did visit Butterfly World which was not too far away and we thought it was very interesting. They also bred snakes and giant tortoises...very educational!





Friday, 31 March 2017

Isle du Salut to St Laurent du Maroni

After a couple of days in Coconut Bay we weighed anchor and set off north, destination St. Laurent. 
The wind was light and from behind but our large mainsail managed to give us 4 knots. The first afternoon we were hit by a violent squall which had us changing direction until we could get Artemis back on course. Come dusk another squall arrived however it didn't look as angry as the first so I let Alison rest and stayed by the wheel waiting for the wind shift. The wind changed direction but I steered the boat to keep wind in the sails and we speeded up a little, then as the squall passes, back on course.
The night shift was awful, not because of the sea state (mercifully low) or the wind strength but the thunderstorm that enveloped us was terrifying. The rain pounded down, the sky was blacker than black, broken every few minutes by the type of fork lightening you only see in horror movies. One moment pitch black, the next lit up momentarily by a million watts. It lasted all night and come morning we were approaching the Maroni river entrance which seemed to take forever. We overtook another yacht heading in the same direction, wind on the nose, engine on. 
S/V Romarin, Florence & Dominique, Fr, being overtaken

It was a long way up the river, we used binoculars to spot the next buoy to aim for as they were very far apart. The sun beat down relentlessly and thankfully we had put up a small makeshift Bimini, so we at least had some shade.
Eventually we arrived, had timed the incoming tide well and hooked a mooring buoy at St. Laurent at around 3pm. 'Were you in that storm last night?' People asked 'It wasn't forecasted!'.
The anchorage is located behind the island....a wreck with many trees growing on it. This is the steam ship 'Edith Cavell', built in Sunderland, UK.

Edith Cavell

The buoys belong to the marina where you could get water, ice, Italian coffee, ice cream, beer and it was very simple to check in.
The town is very colonial with a great veg market, fantastic Vietnamese soup. Also Super U supermarket.

Miles

Beautiful buildings

We visited the ex prison next to the waterfront and learned there were more than 20 such establishments in French Guiana.
We met up again with 'Awelina of Sweden', Fiona & James and we had a couple more days out in the hire car. One trip was a planned hike into the jungle which we had to abort due to being eaten alive by Mosquitos....good times!!! Another trip was visiting an Native Indian village...very interesting.
Alison

Miles in the village

Alison & Fiona

James