Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Malendure Beach, Guadeloupe

The beach on the mainland of Guadeloupe opposite Pigeon Island is quite picturesque and it is full of dive shops and scuba rental places catering to the many tourists wanting to experience the Jacques Cousteau underwater park.
There is a wharf there so I visited there in the morning to get some wifi, dispose of my trash and fill up my water jug.
After doing some grocery shopping at the Carrefour nearby i went back out to Parrot island for more snorkeling and was again blown away by the multitude and diversity of fish. This time I deliberately left my camera behind because I wanted to experience nature without the element of technology. Taking photos is great in that it records memories but there is no device that can come even close to the real live experience. It is impossible to convey that experience in any video. Take a parrot fish for instance. You HAVE to see one up close to appreciate their beauty. They almost glow with a blue green florescence. For about 5 minutes I was mesmerized by a huge lobster, walking across the sea floor. Can you imagine what it is like swimming inches behind a turtle with a shell more beautiful than anything Leonardo da Vince could ever paint? I actually enjoy the gadget side of cruising because it gives me something to do other than just being there. But this "being there" is ultimately the reason why I do this. You just have to be reminded of it every now and then.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Pigeon Island, Guadeloupe

I took some video of my snorkeling adventure here and swimming with turtles has now been crossed off my to do list.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Iles des Saintes to Pigeon Island

I had a great sail with blue skies, flat seas and just 10 knots of breeze. I had south east winds pushing me along for a couple of hours, until I got into the shadow of Guadeloupe and then the winds switched to north west so I had a beat to windward for the last hour. I anchored off a small beach on the mainland just a mile from Pigeon Island.
This place is quite picturesque and I have already seen a few turtles swimming around the boat so I am looking forward to some serious rest and relaxation over the next few days.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Iles des Saintes

After clearing into Guadeloupe in a cafe next to the waterfront, I had a look around town.
It was crowded with tourists who had caught one of the many ferries over from the mainland.
The church is in the center of town with a huge cross on the hillside behind it.
A stiff walk will bring you to historical Fort Napoleon overlooking the harbor.
The nice sandy beach had a lot of boats anchored close to shore.
Right now I am getting my boat ready to sail up the western side of Guadeloupe to a place called Pigeon Island made famous by Jacques Cousteau.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Dominica to Iles des Saintes

Yesterday's  easy 4 hour sail out over open water in light easterly winds of 10 knots allowed me to reach along at a good 5 knots in calm conditions. The weather forecast actually had a southern component to it so I was hoping to be able to use a spinnaker, but it only appeared as I was approaching Le Saintes. I didn't go ashore when I got here, because I was a little tired from all the sun and also from the fact that when I backed down on my anchor the first time it did not hold so I had to anchor again. Now we are talking 40 feet of water, a manual windlass and a 45lb anchor (20kg) with all chain rode. Phew! Because it was late in the day, all of the moorings had been taken up except for the ones on the other side of the harbor and I was headed there when a boat in a good anchoring position on the south side, decided to up and leave so I grabbed it.

It looks like a pretty little town, with all red roofs and a church with a giant cross. There is a fort here that I hope to hike to for exercise. I never sleep as well at night when I spend the entire day on the boat compared to when I get off and do some walking.

I have to launch my dinghy and head the half mile to town to clear in. It costs just 4 Euros and takes 5 minutes to enter your details on a computer at a boulangerie next to the wharf.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Sewing an outboard cover

Most owners who care about their outboard motors seem to put covers on them and I had thought about using an old T-shirt but didn't like the look. I've seen fancy neoprene covers for sale but they are not available here in Dominica, so I set about making my own with left over material from other projects.
I had some material left over from when I covered my diesel jugs that had a hem in it.
I had kayak bungy cord from Walmart that I threaded through this hem with a pencil that had a hole in the end for the thread.
It took a couple of hours all up and I like the fact that it looks a little unprofessional in the end so it doesn't become a target for thieves.
I am about to leave Dominica for Le Saintes just 20 miles north of here in light south winds that are going to be great to try out my new to me spinnaker. These islands are part of Guadalupe which in turn is a French territory so I am looking forward to experiencing the European lifestyle again for a couple of weeks. As always, you can track me at


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Toucari Bay, Dominica

Most of the time here in the Caribbean, the wind is out of the east, but every so often, a front will roll through and the winds will clock from the east to south, to west, north and then back to east again. Prince Rupert Bay where I am anchored is protected from all but the west wind and when a cold front came through yesterday, this Bay became an open roadstead with the west wind.  When the waves from deep water approach a shallow Bay, they become much larger and yesterday we had 6 footers for most of the day. There wasn't any sleeping to be had and when daylight rolled around, I joined three other boats for a walk to Toucari Bay about 2 miles from here.
We caught a taxi there and took shelter from an hour or two of rain at a restaurant on the beach called "Make it Real."
Rice and lentils which they call beans, fried plantains, salad, mahi-mahi and a rum punch is standard here in the islands.
It is a gorgeous Bay with lots of fruit trees and a fisherman mending his nets on the shore.
The beach was beautiful.
The walk back passed a great rock face.
A piece or two of candied ginger for dinner to help settle my stomach so I could sleep over night on the boat.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Snorkeling in Dominica

Snorkeled a couple of miles north of the anchorage here in Portsmouth with Brian and Linda from a neighboring sailing vessel. Take a look at the video.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Food poisoning

I had a severe reaction to the curried chicken I ate at the cruiser appreciation dinner on Saturday night  along with others, so yesterday I stayed in my bunk for most of the day. It turns out that there are 3 million US cases per year so that means one in every 100 people get it annually. Even though it is very common, this is the first time I can ever remember getting it. I drank lots of water and today I am well again. This has been a wake-up call for me to be extra diligent about washing my hands. I was always told to be very careful when traveling and only drink bottled water and not to eat the local food. Well slowly I have learned to eat just as the locals do and I haven't had any problems........up to now. From here on in, I will think twice about eating cooked chicken, especially if it has lots of spice in it.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Yachtie Appreciation Week, Dominica

Do you ever have one of those days, where you just want to take it easy, relax and check out for a while? Well, today was one of those days for me and being a cruiser with no fixed schedule, I have the luxury of calling it a day off. Yesterday, I was up at 5am to do the "Boiling Lake" hike and we didn't get back until 7pm and then we Salty Dawg members had a big blow out lion fish party last night on the beach. The day before that, I had sailed overnight from Martinique and had very little sleep. So today I felt bushed and so I chilled out, doing sewing, taking a long overdue shower, reading, napping and actually giving myself a face shave for a posh "do" at the historical Fort Shirley at the end of the beach here in Portsmouth tonight.
 The Minister of Tourism and the Governor in Dominica held a "Thank you" dinner as part of cruiser appreciation week here.
10 years ago, you couldn't come to Dominica, without having things stolen from your boat and as a result, nobody came here. Since then, the locals have banded together to run security patrols, establish a mooring field and turned it around so much so that this place is now regarded as one of the safest places in all the Caribbean. It is now a must see destination and such a heart warming story.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Boiling Lake, Dominica

Yesterday, I took an excursion that was straight out of a cruise ship, TripAdvisor, or lonely planet list of things to do in Dominica and it actually cost me $105. But this was no ordinary tourist trap and I got to see probably the best example of an unspoiled rain forest anywhere in the world.
The lake was so full of steam, that you couldn't really see the boiling water, and our guide was smoking weed, but as in most of these places, it's all about the journey. And what a gorgeous journey it was! Take a glimpse at it here.
This is truly one of the most spectacular outdoor activities you can do here in the Caribbean.

Friday, February 17, 2017


Well I went ashore to check this place out and gosh, what a beautiful place it is. 
No time for a swim because I had to grab some food before the shops closed. This was the main store.
Slim pickings until the boat on Saturday brings yummy goodies from the USA. Most of the food here is the only local food available.
I wondered across the street to the local restaurant and was greeted by Wop-Wop.
His real name is Peter but nobody calls him that. There was a choice of hot dogs or chicken and chips so guess what I chose?
Horror of horrors! Greezy, fried food with a local beer. Now back to the boat in hopes of seeing the green flash at sunset.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Disaster averted thanks to friends

Well I made it to Dominica this morning but nearly had a catastrophe to deal with. It took me 24 hours to do the 70 miles because i took the western side of both islands which is sheltered from the prevailing Easterly trade winds.
I did get a glimpse of Mount Pelee on my way past which is a rarity because it is always covered in clouds.
I was greeted on my way into Portsmouth, here in Dominica by Titus, one of the boat boys.
He is not really a boy by any means. So I went to anchor and found that my boat was slipping when I backed down on it. There is sea grass here so you have to find a spot with just sand. I anchored again and the same thing happened, only this time, my prop was no longer spinning. I had no transmission and I was dragging down on another boat. Fortunately, my friends Mark and Pete came to my rescue. A mooring had just opened up and they took me over to it.
I took a look at my engine and discovered the problem. My prop shaft has a flange connecting it with the transmission and the 4 bolts had come off.
Not good. One, they should never have come off and two, I should have picked up that they were loose. Now I have to find some new ones in a country that doesn't seem to know what a hardware store looks like.

New Spinnaker

Well I got to try my "new to me" spinnaker and it went quite well.
One of the really good things about the spinnaker, is that it came with a sock that you can just see at the head in the video, so I can douse the whole shebang in less than a minute if the wind pipes up. It took me ages to launch though and when I get it to the point that it doesn't look like a Chinese fire drill, I will take a video. It is a scary learning curve and I am in no rush to finish my education!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Diamond Rock

At the south end of Martinique, I passed by a small island called Diamond Rock on my way to Dominica that has a very interesting story. During the Nepoleonic wars in the 1800's the British manned it for 17 months and bombarded all the French ships around including the St Lucia Straits. The French finally captured it by wrecking a couple of rum laden boats on its shores with result that the British became drunk.

There is a lot more to the story at Wikipedia.


Outboard 101

After buying my outboard I opened it's hood and looked inside.
I need to do an overhaul on it like replacing some of the nuts that have started to rust. It's not in too bad condition for being just over 2 years old but I need to stay ahead of the game when it comes down to maintaining it.
That white plastic cylinder in the middle of the photo is a very important filter that I need to replace and also get a spare for. I did get some spares from the previous owner, like an anode, spark plug, propeller and impeller.
The important thing for me was if I could get my dinghy up on a plane or not. My dinghy is rated for an outboard motor up to 6hp and I found that after gunning the 5hp engine to lift the boat out of the water, I could throttle back to cruise at speed.
OK. All well so far. Problem came when I tried to mount it on my stern. Lifting it by hand was OK because it only weighs 21kg but I didn't want to mount it on my boomkin because of the risk of putting too much stress on my rigging. The port side held my propane locker so that was a no-no. So the following is work in progress.
I tied it down as best I could but I need to fashion a proper mount to my gallows arch and I will need a good hardware store.
In the meantime I have decided to move on to Dominica. Hopefully I will be able to try out my new spinnaker. I am leaving Martinique, with a feeling that I have unfinished business here. I have really enjoyed my stay better than any other place so far but I only have 5 weeks and still 5 countries to visit before I have to be back in the BVI. Time and tide wait for no man.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Eating my words (avaler des couleuvres)

When I first started cruising,  I resolved to keep things simple. I decided not to get the following.;

1. Generator
2. TV
3. Refrigerator
4. Bicycle
5. Spinnaker
6. Outboard motor for my dinghy
7. Roller furling

Well time chages everything and i have had to eat my words on most of these items.
1. I didn't want any gasoline on board the boat because of the risk of fire but I got a good deal on a Honda 1000eu which I have used less than half a dozen times in the nearly 3 years I have been cruising. I should probably get rid of it because I don't need it and it is a fire hazard.
2. I broke down and got a DVD TV at least a year ago and that thing has been terrific. Uses hardly any power, has been reliable and a great source of entertainment.  Besides broadcast TV, I watch DVDs on it that you can find for $2 each.
3. When I got my refrigerator, I was not sure if my solar panels would keep up to have it running full time but all I wanted was a cold beverage at sunset and a way to keep my yogurt cold. Well I can say that it has been a roaring success and now I do run it all the time at least on the highest setting which keeps it at about 40 degrees farenheight. I buy ice sometimes especially if it is cloudy to help it along and I do turn the thermostat down during the middle of the day. I don't have a lot of solar, in fact just 260 watts, and I really don't want a wind generator. Those things are heavy and unreliable.  I might swap out my solar panels for larger ones when I get back to Florida.
4. I didn't want a bicycle because it is difficult to store on board and riding it can be a little dangerous especially here in the Caribbean where people drive like as the French say "faire une queue de poisson (à quelqu'un.") In other words swerving in front of you like a fish! Well when I was in St Martin, friends of mine gave me a fold up bike and I used it quite a lot. It does take up quite a lot of room under my v birth and the jury is still out on whether or not I will keep it long term.
5. Spinnaker
5 and 6. Well today I bought a used asymmetrical spinnaker and a 3 year old Tohatsu 2 stroke 5hp outboard that a fellow cruiser was wanting to sell here in St Anne. Firstly the spinnaker.  I REALLY Do not want one. They are an accident waiting to happen especially this one because it is a beast at 500 square feet. The problem with them is that you do not want to be flying it when the wind pipes up because things start to happen. ....quickly, especially single handing.  Having said that, there have been times when the wind has dropped to around 5 knots and it is the difference between running the engine and sailing. So my challenge will be to ONLY use it in those situations,  and be able to douse it in it's sock before the wind makes it unmanageable. I have in mind the upcoming passage that I am planning at the end of March from the BVI to Cuba. It is a 1000 mile, 10 day passage all downwind where a spinnaker may come in handy. We will see. I will get to try it out in earnest sailing from Antigua to Nevis and then the BVI next month.
Now the outboard. This is the number one cause of hassle for cruisers. These things are unreliable.  I like rowing everywhere because of the exercise it gives me. The only trouble is, it will be a hassle back in the USA because I will have to register my dinghy.  It is handy to have in large anchorages where the dinghy dock is a half mile or more away or the wind is blowing a gale. Right now I am thinking of storing it in the trunk of my car which I have in Stuart, Florida when I get back there in April.
7. Roller furling. Having a hanked on genoa has caused more than a little consternation at times, but nowhere as much strife as a jammed furler that could sink my boat. Now I am not so sure.  I have reneged on all the above 6 so maybe in the future I will get to change my mind on this one. Heck why stop there? Perhaps a Beneteau or even a catamaran is in my future!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Coating your prop to stop growth doesn't work for me

OK remember back in October before splashing, my prop looked like this.
Normally it is bronze colored, but i had a zinc coating put on and sprayed never wet on a dozen times to try and stop algae growing on it. This was less than 4 months ago. It had been not too bad up to January but this morning I decided that enough was enough and I took to it with a brush. This is a photo after I had brushed it.
Other cruisers have reported good results from prop coatings so I can only guess that because I have been in certain areas and done a lot of miles, that it doesn't apply in my case. Anyway,  this green stuff has to go somehow or other.  It is incredibly tough to remove with a brush and I am trying to figure out if there is a way of somehow putting bleach on it because growth just disintegrates when it comes in contact with chlorine.  Ideally I would like to cover it with a plastic bag, inject bleach into it and then let it sit for 5 minutes. Then brush it to remove the dead algae. I am wondering now if there is a product that you can coat your prop with that has slow release chlorine similar to the slow release copper in our bottom paint. Mmmmmmm.......

Anyway, after thinking about it, I came up with this solution.
A rag on the end of a stick dipped in bleach to rub on the prop. Here are my results.
A little bit better but not a perfect solution and at least it gets me mobile again. Take a look closely at the next photo where you can see the zinc coating has come off and the bronze prop showing through.
My guess is that somewhere along the line, my prop must have come in contact with a fishing line or some hard physical object that has scraped the coating off the prop.

One piece of good news is that the rest of my hull is quite clean with not too many barnacles on it. I used micron 66 which was very expensive but now I can say that it was worth it.

Sunday, February 12, 2017


Any old excuse for a party, right? So the idea is that you celebrate as hard as you can before lent comes along where you have to refrain from sugar, alcohol, fun and so on. In the Caribbean this celebration is called Carnival. And they dress up and have parades in the street like the one last night in Sainte. Anne. Take a look.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Le Marin, Martinique

Today I decided to check out Le Marin, which is a city about 8km away from here in the anchorage at Ste. Anne. I thought about riding my bike or even renting one but I figured that it was better to see a place at a slower speed and without a bike to haul around.

First I had to find the bus stop. Google translate gave me "arret de bus" but I soon found out that they call it "gare routiere" or bus station here. Nothing is simple. What the bus looked like or how much it cost was another problem that could wait. While I waited I wandered over to a crepe place that sounded interesting.
Nope. Too much in the way of fried food for me. In fact I have decided that there is too much fried food, bread and sweet drinks here for my liking. It seems like on every street corner, there are bakeries that they call partisserie boulangerie that sell these yummy cakes, buns and baguettes.
Hey, get me out of here! OK so back at the bus station, after half an hour we got this....
Turned out to be going to a different place but at least I knew what the buses looked like.......Or so I thought. This showed up soon afterwards.
Talk about luxury. Even air conditioning! Price was $EUR2,10 which you couldn't complain about. When we arrived in Le Marin, Friday shopping was in full swing. City was next to the waterfront FULL of boats.

In the center of the town was Eglise Saint-Etienne Church.
It feels like I am living on a another planet here. It seems that everything is different. Not only are the shops different, but the merchandise is as well and the cars too. There are a lot of small cars like hatchbacks and Kia is quite popular. You hardly ever see Citroen cars that are now owned by Peugeot. I came across this thing on the side of the road that you see everywhere that could be some kind of transformer.
So the bus back to Sainte Anne wasn't leaving for another hour so I decided to hoof it. Boy was that ever a mistake and I am so glad I didn't bike because the roads here have foot high grass growing in the verge at the side of the road.

Martinique has that wonderful characteristic that the French describe as having that "Je ne sais quoi."