Friday, March 29, 2013


 The  trip to Roseau was incredibly fast. We left at 07:00 in the morning and we were tied up to a mooring at 13:00.
We dealt with a guy who calls himself "Pancho" and is available on channel 16 as "Pancho services". Very pleasant and helpful guy and I certainly do not regret dealing with him. His associate, who calls himself "busch", took us to customs, helped us clear everything and we made a deal with him for a four hour tour next day to visit the Trafalgar Falls, the Fresh Water lake and the botanic garden. Which we did, except for the BonaticGarden which we did the next day.
Both Pancho and Bush are passoniate about their country, and are very eager to show you the best of it. This is my second visit of Dominica, and I knew they were doing the best they could and we had a very good time, visiting those sites but also going to town, having a drink or a meal and enjoying the whole experience.
The last evening, we had dinner at "Drop  Anchor", just next to our mooring, and it was a very enjoyable dinner, with tables set on the wharf for people who obviously had made reservations.
We never had to put the engine on the dinghy, as we were very close to the "Drop Anchor" wharf, and for me, this was a big plus.
So, we stayed in Roseau from the 26 to the 29, when we left early morning for Portsmouth, where we arrived late morning.
The  arrangements there are very similar to those of Roseau. When you arrived, one of the local boats with the sign "Yacht Services" meet you as you are still way out, welcome you and try and convince you to take a mooring. Did not take a lot of convincing for me. At 10 $/day, this is a no brainer.
So we tooke a mooring, in 20 knots of wind, which required some assistance from another boat owner who came out with his dinghy,
And then , we enjoyed doing the "Indian River" trip, with a couple of nice people from Quebec, with whom we only spoke english, as Karen is still struggling with the french language.
After the very nice 1 mile trip up the river, we had lunch ashore and went back to the boat for a quiet evening, preparing to go early tomorrow to "Les Saintes" in Guadeloupe.
Going on Internet allowed me to understand why we had such an unusual weather in the last few days. This had to do with the monster storm in the North Atlantic, which fortunately is now weakening.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Last day before going North

As planned, Sunday morning, we first went to do the shopping at Carrefour, Genipa. Not much, but still, you always need provisions.
Then, after taking the provisions to the boat, we drove to Philippe and Odile, at Le Diamant, for a last lunch for now. It was nice to be able to spend some time just the four of us and discuss matters that interest us. We also talked of those common friends that we knew from the time in Haiti, who have gone their way as we have ours.
We then went back to the boat, for a well deserved nap, especially with this very hot weather.
Drinks chez Ernest
At 7, as planned, Christian came and paid a short visit to Papy Jovial before we went to the Embarcadere, my favourite restaurant in the marina.
And then, again, time to leave and say good bye, but not for too long as we will see them in Normandy.
Next morning, breakfast with "cafe creme" and croissants. Then clearing out at the marina for customs and immigration.
Then, I had to surrender the keys to the lady who rented us her old car. I had to wait for an hour, as nobody could tell me what time she was going to open. Eventually she showed up, I gave her the key and went back to the boat and we left for Roseau, Dominica.
This has been a very pleasant time in Martinique, and we will most certainly spend again some time on the way back in two years time.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The promised land : Martinique

Memorial at Anse Cafard
La maison du bagnard
We had left Riviere Sens marina at 6:00, nobody around after a tough night and loud music until 5:00 a.m. Nobody to pick up the  keys to the toilets and the showers (that we did not use as they were not adequate at all) and recover my 20 bucks left as deposit. Maybe on the  way back, we will spend a night there, if it is not a week-end, and recover the money. Again, great sail all day, using the motor only 2.2 hours, mostly to get out of the lee of Guadeloupe. We arrived in Roseaux, the capital of Dominica at 2:15 p.m. and picked up a mooring close to the cruise liner terminal. We are only there for the  night, but it was worth testing the ground. We know now that the  mooring is $15 per  day, which is very reasonable, and there is a Wifi (hothothotspot) at $10/day with a very strong signal.
Crushing the cane
In St Pierre
We left next morning at 6:30 to get to marina de la Pointe du Bout, across from Fort de France. It is a small marina,  with the minimum of services, but I like it. Very friendly staff, lots of shops and restaurants around and, since we are now in French territory, no usable showers and toilets.
We used the motor a little more this  time, as we were in a hurry. Friends were waiting for us for dinner, some of them flying back to France the next day. So we had to clear customs and immigration, register with the marina, rent a car and get ready.
Lobster Dinner
Cathedral St Pierre
All that done in time, and once we got to the house of  Philippe (a brother of the coast who belongs to the table of Haiti), there was Jean-Rene, from Granville, Pierre and Dominique, also from Normandy but spending time in Martinique, and Michel Charron whom I knew since 1975, as a member of the Granville Yacht Club and who, like me, did the 3/4 ton cup in Kiel, Germany on his boat Excalibur while I was on Le Jovial Tiburon. There was also Benoit, son of Philippe, whom I have known since Haiti in 90's and his girl friend. This was so much fun and such a big surprise. I certainly did not expect to meet anybody else than Philippe and Odile. Next day, we stayed on Papy Jovial with a lot of catching up to do. On Wednesday and Thursday, touring and driving around the island, wonderful scenery's, gorgeous colors. We visited the distillery of Rhum La Mauny, where three different rums are made (La Mauny, Trois Rivieres and Clement). There are 15 rums made in the island, in 7 different production plants. They are all "rhum agricole" as opposed to industrial rum. The difference is that first the sugar cane is crushed to produce juice which is fermented to make what they call wine, at 4 degrees proof. Then the wine is distilled, with the help of various yeasts which are an important part of the taste. Then, it will eventually be aged in oak barrels.
In front of the Diamond
The Diamond
The industrial rum is made out of molasses, which can be imported from anywhere. Only Martinique, Guadeloupe, Haiti and Jamaica make agricultural rum.
On Thursday night, we drove north and took the road from Lorrain to St Pierre, which was the seat of government in 1902, when the "Montagne Pelee" erupted and destroyed the city, killing some 30,000 people.
Getting back to the boat, I get a message from my son telling me that Christian and Suzanne, my best friends since 1964, are spending a fortnight vacation in a hotel built on the side of the marina !
We got immediately in touch with them and arrange to meet and spend time together. First, on Friday, dinner at their hotel with lots of lobster on the menu. Then on Saturday, we drove to a place called "Cap Chevalier" and had a late lunch at "Chez Gracieuse". We left the restaurant at 4:00 p.m. but we did not see time pass.
And we will see then again tomorrow night, as we are having lunch at Philippe's.
How lucky can you be !

Friday, March 22, 2013

Basse Terre in Guadeloupe

I did not feel very comfortable, anchored in front of Plymouth and was making nightmares of the anchor dragging or being visited by pirates, since we were in a completely desert area with nobody around except this other sailboat. By 6:00 we were away, en route for Guadeloupe. The whole distance is around 55 nautical miles and we arrived around 1:00 p.m., having marveled at the  various anchorages along the way and the beautiful landscape.
When we got to the marina, impossible to raise them on the  radio and I went in, hoping to find an empty space, which I did.
Now we were in France ! That means very little service, dirty restrooms and showers that need a lot of plumbing repairs, but customs and immigration formalities that you do yourself on a computer in one of the  restaurants around the marina !
And for this location, no internet to speak of. So I went to the local phone shop and bought what they call a "Domino", which is a Hot Spot that can accomodate up to 5 computers. But it worked only for the evening, and next morning got stuck. I tried several times to call customer service, but failed to make it work. I guess I will have to wait until we get to France to get this problem fixed.
The staff of the restaurant where we did the clearance was very helpful, and we ended up renting the personal car of the waiter, as we could not find one single car from the regular rental car companies.
I also had to change all the wiring on my step down transformer before we could use it. Anyway, by the end of the  day, we had electricity, water, no  internet, one car. Life was OK.
Next day, we drove all around the island which is beautiful  We drove to Pointe a Pitre as I wanted to show Karen the big marina there, called the marina du Bas du Fort, where I have been several times, but which I will never visit again as it has become far too big.
We drove back, hoping to have dinner on the sea side on the way back, could not find an open restaurant, and ended up having dinner again at the same restaurant at our marina.
This is a marina where you can't expect to sleep during the week-end. Next to the boat, there was a restaurant/night club, which played loud music up to 5 in the morning, Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday night. I do not know about the rest of the week, but it might be just the same.
I don't think that I would recommand anybody to stop there. We are going to try on the way back to anchor in Deshaies, which looked to us a lot better.
Hopefully, Dominica and Martinique will be more rewarding.


We had left St Kitts early on the 13th and the  intention was to have a short day to the anchorage of Little Bay. Again, we had a wonderful sail, no motoring and the wind on the port beam. Immediately south of St Kitts we passed Nevis that does not seem to have a lot of activity on it. Then, moving on  to Montserrat, we passed a strange rock called Redonda, that belongs to Antigua and could be part of a James Bond  movie. Just our imagination.
By the time we got to Little Bay, we realized that there was a strong northerly swell and that it would not be possible to anchor safely, and comfortably. So we moved on and went on to  the  part of the  island which was destroyed in 1992 by the eruption of the volcano called "La Soufriere", which was still smoking quite a bit. We did not know, however, that the area was still quarantined and we anchor just outside what was left of  the capital Plymouth.
We were joined just before sunset by another sailboat, this one north bound.

The whole thing was very eerie. During the night, we heard one animal which could have been a donkey, or a cow. We found out next morning that in  that whole desolate area, with absolutely no sign of life, there was a bull roaming the area.

St Kitts

This was supposed to be the last leg up, meaning still going somewhat East and therefore against the wind. In fact, we had a wonderful sail and did not have to motor except for the last hour. We had left Nanny Cay around 8:00 but had to go to West End again to get our clearance out. We left West End at 11:00 that morning of the 10th of March, headed for St Kitts, 142 miles away. When we arrived, the marina was not answering the radio so I went in and was able to find a place where we could tie up. The staff at the marina was very friendly, but that was not the case for the authorities (customs, immigration and port authorities) and I had to waste quite a bit of time doing the clearing. Apart from that, we did not do much  that day, except to roam the shopping center of the Cruise Line terminal. We had lunch there and dinner in town. Nothing exceptional but acceptable.

The  next day, I had hired a taxi with driver to drive around the island and visit the few places that must be visited, the fort, the batik place and the black rocks. Other than that, the  drive is a beautiful drive and we enjoyed it much. St Kitts is a pleasant stop, but I think once you have done one visit, you do not need to go back.
Leaving was as painful  as coming in as far as Customs was concerned. They had given me a time to go and clear out and I was there just on time. I had to wait for one hour, and once the Customs Officier showed up, he did not have one word of excuse.
So, we left as early as we could on the 13th hoping to anchor at Little Bay in Montserrat, only 40 miles away.           

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Nanny Cay

Although it certainly is a negative point to be unable to clear customs and immigration, Nanny Cay is one of the best marinas we have been to recently. A lot of activities, lots of different services on site, a very pleasant atmosphere of sailors enjoying their vacation.
While sitting at one of the eating places (called the Genakers), I noticed a Brotherhood flag on a boat just opposite the restaurant, and after lunch, we paid them a visit. It was a Brother from the table of Kent Invicta and although  they were leaving the next day, we had time to chat and exchange informations.
We were thinking at some point at renting a car, but there is not much to visit in Tortola. Everything to be done is out there on or in the water.

So we decided to just relax, take care of Papy Jovial and enjoy the few restaurants around.
Today, we did breakfast, lunch and we will do dinner. For breakfast, we did the Genakers. English breakfast with muffins and eggs benedicte. For lunch, we went to the beach, which is part of the marina, and enjoyed the scenery, the boats out there, a flotilla of Optimists with children making their way onto the beach. Dinner will be where we were last night, but this time, we will do light.
We will be leaving tomorrow Sunday March 10th, bound for St Kitts, with no real schedule. My only deadline is to be in St Maarten on April 17th when Jean-Paul will be flying in to join us.

To the BVI

We had been waiting for  a good window to sail to the BVI, and it was a good one, except that we were motor sailing most of the time. But that is what it is when you go east.
Just before reaching St Thomas, we were treated to a nice show by a whale. This is not the first time that I see whales, but this is the first time that I see one jumping out of the water, fortunately far from the boat, so that we could enjoy the show. Too far however, to take a meaningful picture.
As we were reaching Water Island, I got almost scared at the sight of hundreds of boats anchored next to each other and with probably quite a few moorings in between. Someone in PR (I can't remember who) had advised me to go to Redhook Bay and that's what we did. Never again.
Not only the anchorage was very crowded, as are all the others, but there was constant movement of ferries, creating big wakes in the bay. I went around twice before I could find a spot, a bit too close to the beach, and also to another boat which was on a mooring but with a line longer than one boat length, and with wakes and no wind, the boats could find themselves in any kind of direction. Actually, it happened to a boat anchored behind us and which was almost hit by  the boat on the mooring.
Then, although I was planning on a late night, since we only had 13 miles to go to Tortola, we were awaken early morning by the sound of a horse swimming (with a rider) around the boat, and the beach awfully close to us. The anchor had not dragged, but we we lying 180 degrees from when we anchored and we were in less than 10 feet of water. So, we decided to leave immediately and go to Tortola, at Nanny Cay, looking forward to arriving early and having almost a full day to ourselves.
This was not going to be.

When we arrived at the marina's office to check in, we were told that we had to clear customs and immigration at West End, which we had passed an hour early. So, we disconnected everything, untied the lines and went back there. The  problem  then was that there was no room to anchor as the  bay is full of moorings. Eventually, we took a mooring and having inflated the dinghy, we put it in the water so that I could go to the customs building. Keeping in mind the time and effort that it would take to put the  outboard on the dinghy, I started thinking of using only the oars, when a water taxi sailed by and I took it to go ashore and back. After clearing, which is as unpleasant as I remembered and so very much different from the way it is done in the Bahamas, we sailed back to Nanny Cay, prepared to enjoy it to the fullest.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Up de Trade Winds

We are no longer in a rush, so I can plan for short days when the weather is kind. Going eastward on the south coast of either Haiti, Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico is very much like riding my bicycle up a long and arduous mountain pass. It is relentless, it is unavoidable and it is not really enjoyable. But it's got to be done.
PuertoReal to Pta Jacinto
Pta Jacinto to Salinas
So, we left Puerto Real with on March 1st, with the promise of very light winds and a 30 miles day. And basically, although I had to seek protection from the reef as often as I could, the day went on as promised and we arrived at Pta Jacinto, very close to Guanica, at 1 p.m., just in time for  lunch.
This is one of the best anchorages we have been to for quite some time. Calm seas, fair breeze, few people and a terrific Internet connection from the nearby resort. We were able to relax and enjoy the calm and the beauty of the place.
Next morning, we were on our way to Salinas, past Ponce and past Santa Isabel where our friends Graham and Fernando were involved in a regatta that we were able to briefly admire as we arrived near Salinas.
Salinas is a very popular place for cruisers with a large number of sailboats either at anchor or on a private mooring. We anchored less than 50 yards from the marina La Barca where Graham keep  his boat.
Salinas to Palmas del Mar
He showed up with his family (Elizabeth and young Albert) and with Victor Rodon who had offered to sail with us the next day to pilot us through the numerous fish and lobster traps. But before, we had dinner at the Restaurant La Barca, one of the best known restaurants in Salinas.
We left on Sunday just before seven in the morning, and basically, motored all day, with the main up most of the time and the genois up only for brief intervals. In spite of us being very alert, we still manage to get caught by a fish trap, but fortunately, it caught the rudder and not the propeller. So we were able to cut the line and get underway again. We arrived at Palmas del Mar before one o'clock, in time for lunch at the Marina's Tiki Bar. Another good day sailing a wonderful coast line, especially between Salinas and Palmas del Mar.
As it turned out, Palmas del Mar is certainly  a good marina, not cheap  and not geared towards transient boats. The first day the Wifi was certainly not up to scratch but after complaining at the marina, we were given the code for another hotspot, different name and key, and it got much better after that.
Also, the  marina does not have any facility for laundry. The two addresses we were given turned out in one case to be a business that had closed down, and for the other a Walmart facility that could not do less than 24 hours turnover. We finally found one very close in the town of Humacao and were able to have the laundry done.
 We will probably stay here for probably three days, to allow a cold front to get through before going to Culebra, then St John, then hopefully St Kitts.