January 2009

Happy New Year 2009!!! Anguilla

We are still in Anguilla, what better place to put your anchor down for a while. Chris made crepes for breakfast and the kids dingyied some over for Strider.

Chris installed a downhaul so he doesn't have to climb up top everytime we take the mainsail down, we look forward to see how and if it will work.

Cari took her first sailing lesson . It was called Star Fish. She had a great time scooting around the anchorage in a hobie cat and building palm frond forts on shore.

Delivering crepes to our boating neighbours

Crepes, what a treat!

Cari's Sailing lessons

Hobie Cat sailing lessons

Looks like we wore poor Cari out, she didn't make it through dinner tonight.

Love it when I meet other people who can do hair!

Hangin' with sv Strider

Hangin' with sv Strider - and some nice hair dos! Thanks Suzanne!

We ordered a new invertor and are waiting for it to arrive. We are also waiting for Grandma's Christmas gifts. It's funny how things work in the islands, we had our packages delivered to Elvis's Beach Bar and we just happened to be sitting there having a drink when the Fed Ex guy showed up. Yes our packages had arrived! Yahoo! However he didn't have them with him, he was only delivering us a piece of paper we had to sign. We had to go to the airport and pick them up from customs but because it is Saturday they are not open so we will have to wait until Monday!!! OOH so close.

We decided that we would like to see more of the island while we are here so we rented a car and drove around. Anguilla has tons of white sand beaches - it is just spectacular.

We drove to Shoal Bay East where there are plans in the way to build a huge villa. The sales office was open so we went into have a look, nothing has been built yet but the plans are all up on the wall, for a 3 bedroom villa - 2.5 million US then on top of that $45,000 a year condo fees. We were starting to see how pricey real estate is on Anguilla. Everywhere we drove we saw rental villas, but not a lot of residential homes.

The kids had a hoot at the beach, the waves were smashing in and Cari got to help build a huge sand castle.

Shoal Bay West - extremely expensive rental villas on a superb white sand beach.

Huge waves to play in

Huge sandcastle Cari got involved building with some strangers!


Gwen's Reggae Grill

Gwen's Reggae Grill

Gwen's Reggae Grill

Gwen's Reggae Grill

We ended up keeping the car for a second day, we drove to customs and retrieved both our packages without a hitch, never mind the new inverter, the kids were so excited to receive their Christmas gifts from Grandma.

Chris replaced our inverter with the new one, found out that the inverter fuse was dead, maybe the old one wasn't broken after all? Yeach it works, started charging again, after 5 days of not being able to charge, it was very nice to be able to again, we had completely ran out of water, both tanks empty, because our engines won't charge our batteries very well, we couldn't run our water maker. After about 15 minutes of charging our generator went kapputs!!! Turns out it was the new impeller Chris put in, it didn't like it, so we had a spare and put it in and generator now works. It is like this all the time, constantly fixing things and every other cruiser who we run into does the same thing. As the old saying goes " cruising is all about fixing your boat in exotic locations" Aint' it the truth!

Christmas gifts from Grandma!

Thank you for all the gifts Grandma, you really made our day!

On our way back we noticed Pyrat Rum shop, so we dropped in for some tastings!

Have to say bye to the car now, that was fun, can get around so much faster than our usual walking

January 6, 2009 Road Bay, Anguilla to Margio Bay, St. Martin 13.21 nm

As I was saying, see above, as we were getting ready to depart Anguilla, our port engine would not start, after a few hours of troubleshooting, turns out it was the starter safety switch. Chris bypassed it and seems to be okay now. Off we go, back to St. Martins to buy solar panels.

January 9, 2009 Margiot Bay, St. Martin to Gustavia, St. Barths via Ile Fourche 31.70 nm

It was tremendously clear this morning, the most clear day we have had since we have been anchored here in Margiot Bay, as I was pulling up the anchor, I could see the bottom, it looked like several chains and ropes along the bottom, I was trying to figure out who they belonged to when I finally put two and two together and realized that they were old mooring ball chain and rode and we had anchored on top of it!! There was no way it was coming off without some elbow grease, so Chris got in the dingy and pulled it off by hand, then quickly motored around to the stern and pulled the dingy up as I motored away.

Installing our new solar panels

playdoh proud!

Fouled anchor

We started the watermaker and it didn't start, turns out the filter was dirty, we cleaned it under the tap and watermaker is now working, thankfully because if we didn't have one, it would suck. We would have to be trying to find water all the time. It is an absolutely essential piece of equipment. We stopped at Ile Fourchue on our way to St. Barth's at it is conveniently located between St. Martin and St. Barths so it makes a perfect lunch stop.

It is called Ile Fourchue (Fork Island) because when seen from a distance its five peaks look like seperate islets. It is dry and rocky with several steep hills and craggy peaks. The kids and Chris snorkelled, we had lunch and relaxed for a few hours, then off to St. Barths.

Rainbow- a good passage omen


Ile Fourchue - our lunch stop

Snorkelling at Ile Fourchue

The anchorage in St. Barths was very crowded so we headed into the harbour to enquire about getting a mooring ball. We called the port authority on the VHF, they told us we made our first mistake by doing that as we were suppose to call them before entering . Oops. They didn’t have room for a catamaran so we went back out into the anchorage took a swing around both sides of the channel and found a spot. We went into town to clear in, found Le Select, the bar that Jimmy Buffet used to partially own and where he wrote his hit tune “Cheeseburger in Paradise” so we of course had to order cheeseburgers. Jimmy was right on when he wrote that tune.

Checking in to St. Barth’s. St. Barth’s is a free port which means there is no customs office. However, you still must check in with the Port Authority and complete 2 forms. The Port Authority would like you to call them on VHF Channel 12 before coming into the port. There are docks (stern to) and mooring balls on the inside and 2 anchorages on the outside. If you would like a mooring ball or a slip, you need to call them and they will let you know which ones are free or where to go to dock. Once anchored, you must go in, fill in the requisite paper work and find out how much you owe them. It is per metre, per day rate. It cost us $16.99 Euro a day for a 42 foot catamaran. The port office was very busy when we were there and we had to wait a while but the lone port monsieur was very friendly and happy. We did not know how long we were going to be staying so he said we could pay when we check out.

St. Bart's is known for it's mega yacht reputation. The indoor harbour was not that busy but there were some mega yachts (e.g., Battered Bull - a 172 foot motor yacht which was launched just outside Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1995 from the Van Lent Feadship Facility) tied to the dock, however we did miss the New Year's Eve busy time. I can only imagine what it would look like with mega yachts tied to the dock like sardines.

Mega Yachts in St. Barts

Cruise Ship in St. Barts

Jimmy Buffet's Le Select

Jiommy Buffet's Le Select

The next day we rented a car and drove around the island. If you're scared of heights this is not a good idea. We drove on the left and held our breath going up and down the very narrow roads. We stopped at several boulangeries and even found a skateboard park for Ryan, the first one we have found in the Caribbean. The views from the top of the hills were simply stunning. We stopped at Anse de Grande Saline, a long lovely beach, broad and secluded. There were a few other people but not much, kids had fun playing in the large surf.

We drove to Corossol. One of the last remaining traditional villages on St. Barth and the villagers still speak in an old Norman dialect. We drove by many beaches and villages (Grand Cul-de-Sac; Gouverneur Beach, Flamands, Anse de Flamands). St. Barth’s total land area is a mere 8 square km so by the end of the day we had pretty much seen most of it. The girls and I did some shopping however for a little girls dress at $250.00 Euro we decided to go back to the boat for a quiet time instead.

rental jeep

scariest airport ever

there is the anchorage

The very nice people who ran the skateboard park, offered to reopen it on Sunday just for Ryan so Chris took Ryan for the second day in a row to the skateboard park. He planned to take a taxi back because it was by the airport however once he got there, he found out that taxi's don't run on Sunday's past 5:00 pm.! So the nice lady from a rental car agency drove them back to the harbour. You meet such nice people when your cruise, people who really help you out.

pretty sunset

St. Barts skateboard park

St. Barts skateboard park

remote control boats in the harbour

January 12, 2009 Gustavia, St. Barth's to Oranje Baie, St. Eustatia 28.65 nm

We had a beautiful sail over to St. Eustatia, one of the few times that we were on a broad reach and not beating into the wind! Arriving in Oranje Baie is a bit like stepping back in time to the Caribbean from the 1950's. This is only one town on the island, Oranjestad and it seems like everybody is very quiet and laid back. An oil holding facility Statia Terminals is by the yacht mooring balls and gives the island and industrial feel with a constant stream of oil tankers and tug boats going back and forth from the dock. We met up with our friends on sv Pickles, they are a cruising family from San Diego, California and they have 4 children on board.

While we were there, Chris worked on our SSB radio transmission, he installed some more copper mesh. So we will see if this improves our radio transmission.

St Eustatia has an interesting history as in the 17th century thousands of ships used Oranjestad as their main stopping point between Europe and the colonies in America. It is hard to imagine a very busy harbour with ships coming and going on Statia as now it has very little tourist and Pickles and us were the only two boats in the whole anchorage the first night!

The Quill looms above the southern half of the island. This dormant volcano, which reaches 1968 feet is a central landmark on the island. We decided to hike up to the crater. The prospect of seeing a real volcano was very exciting for the kids. The park sign said things you will likely see on your hike up are hermit crabs, red racer snakes and scorpions!! Okay, well maybe I will bring up the rear and let the kids go first! We saw a lot of hermit crabs, one snake and no scorpions (thank goodness).

The Quill

hermit crabs are rolling down the hills

hermit crab


January 15, 2009 Oranje Baie, St. Eustatius to Basseterre, St. Kitts

Had a boisterous sail over to St. Kitts, gusts of up to 33 knots. Arrived at a very rolly anchorage, just as we were putting the hook down our port engine croaked on us again. Chris managed to fix it, it was the new fuse he had put in was not a marine fuse and therefore was not able to take the heat of the engine and sort of melted. We had a few spares and replaced the fuse and voila we're back in business.

The check-in procedure took much longer than the other islands we have been to so far. First we had to go to customs, then to another office in customs, then walk over to the police station for immigration. When we arrived at the police station, the immigration fellow was not there so they suggested we take a cab to the airport for $10US per person!! We found a bus and realized that the airport is approximately 1 mile out of town. We decided to stretch our legs and walked back into town, stopping for ice cream and groceries along the way.

St. Christopher (known as St. Kitts) and Nevis are low key. A lot of cruisers skip Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts and Nevis and it will be a slog to windward to get to Antigua however we want to see as many islands as we can.

Even though the anchorage was not the best (we put out a stern anchor twice to hold us into the swell), we decided to stay so we could check out Basseterre and hike up to the fort. Brimstone Fortress is the only Unesco World Heritage site in the Leeward Islands. The rambling 18th century compound, which in its day was nicknamed the Gibraltar of the West Indies is one of the largest forts in the Caribbean. We took a bus as the public transportation in St. Kitts is so easy, buses drive by constantly and you can get on and off wherever you want. We got off the bus at Sandy Point, and hiked the 800 m up to the fort. The main hilltop compound, the Citadel is lined with 24 cannons and provided excellent views of St. Eustatius and the ocean. Spectacular, even for someone who doesn't like heights!

It was amazing to see the huge restored fort. We call these days field trips because we don't do school on these days but we still get an education!

view along the sail

Brimstone Fortress

Brimstone Fortress

Brimstone Fortress

January 19, 2009 White House Bay, St. Kitts to Charleston, Nevis 7.36nm

Left White House Bay, St. Kitts and motored over to Charleston, Nevis. Nevis is another island that is in the clouds, Nevis Peak is over 3000 feet high and clouds usually surround it.

Nevis was hit by Hurricane Omar. We are on a mooring ball right by Pinney's Beach. It is a long stretch of soft sand. All the palm trees are missing the palms. Only sticks are left. The Four Seasons Resort (several pools, 10 tennis courts, 18 hole golf course) that was on the beach is no more. The buildings are still there but the hotel did not rebuild after the hurricane.

Guy from sv Pickles came over with some tools that we didn't have and helped Chris to try to figure out what is wrong with our freezer. So far so good, seems to be working now. Thanks Guy, we now have ice! Popsicles for all! Later that day, we went into the cockpit and saw another one of us! A PDQ 44 was anchored right behind us. We thought we were looking in a mirror. We had a sundowner aboard Stray Kitty with Bob and Lynn from sv Leap of Faith and their friends from sv Sea Wings. They have been cruising for a few years in the Caribbean; they take their boat out in Trinidad and go home for hurricane season.


Birds overtaking boat

sv Leap of Faith, our sister ship

Popsicles for all, thanks Guy!

January 23, 2009 Charleston, Nevis to Falmouth Harbour, Antigua 54.16nm

It was a 54 mile motor to windward over to Antigua. Antigua is another mega yacht centre and as we motored into the anchorage at Falmouth Harbour, we past the largest privately-owned sailing yacht in the world, the 290 foot Maltese Falcon owned by American venture capitalist Tom Perkins who has been renting out The Falcon for between € 325,000 to 335,000 per week plus expenses. Currently it is for sale for $185 million.

Unfortunately, the day we got there the night before there was a murder of a very popular Australian mega yacht captain right in English Harbour! Some of the mega yachts left in protest but mostly the anchorages of Falmouth and English Harbour remained full. We decided to stay but not go out after dark. We met up with two other Caribbean 1500 boats "Honeymoon" and "Hands Across the Sea" so we had a great reunion with them and went out for pizza.

The next day we motored over to English Harbour and settled into a great quiet anchorage where we actually slept like rocks because it was so well protected. English Harbour is right on historic Nelson's Dockyard and is Antigua's most popular tourist sight. We met a couple on a boat called "Hawk" if you are into reading sailing magazines like Cruising World, you will know the names of Evans Starzinger and Beth A. Leonard. "Hands Across the Sea" introduced us and we had a fantastic time hanging with them for a week. They even babysat the kids two times so Chris and I could go out on our own.

We hiked up to Shirley's Heights, a scattered 18th century fort ruins - wow great view of English Harbour and you can see Falmouth Harbour in the background.

passage to Falmouth Harbour

Kids were so happy to see Elizabeth from svHoneymoon

Making baskets

Pulling into English Harbour

English Harbour

Evans Starzinger and Chris

Steel drum band, English Harbour

We took a local bus to the capital St. John's for the day. It is where all the cruise ships dock. We visited St. John's Anglican Cathedral which dates back to 1681. The interior is completely encased in pitch pine.

Nelson's Dockyard has been continuously in operation since 1745, this extensively restored Georgian-era marina is Antigua's top sightseeing draw . Today its restored buildings house restaurants, hotels and businesses, the most important of which is the Dockyard Museum, which features information on Antigua's history, the dockyard and life at the forts. Among the many trinkets on display is a telescope once used by Nelson himself.

I was ecstatic as I found a place that serves shawarmas for lunch!!

St. John's Anglican Cathedral

St. John's Anglican Cathedral-inside

Nelson's Dockyard

Sail Loft and Boat House Pillars

Copper Lumber Store Hotel

Boat House and Joiner Loft

Shawarma for lunch - my fav

St. John's

We enjoyed a fabulous hike to Fort Berkley, a small fort which overlooks the western entrance of English Harbour, dating from 1704, it served as the harbour's first line of defense. We then hiked over the mountain to Falmouth Harbour, saw lots of goats and stunning views. Then it was on to the Mad Mongoose for a refreshment.

Some excitement in the anchorage today, a charter boat plopped their anchor down and immediately left to go to shore. It wasn't set properly and started dragging into the boat anchored next to us. There was a flurry of activity from all neighbouring boats including ours, who immediately took action, hopped on the charter boat, and re-anchored it safely. You have to love this cruising community!

A visit from Strider in English Harbour. We were all very happy to visit with Strider for one evening before we left the anchorage. One thing about cruising is that you are always meeting new friends but then you have to say goodbye.

amazing view of harbour


kids very concerned that dad got a thorn in his shoe

Home schooling

Smile Mon!

Sv Strider

with Beth Evans in Antigua