Voyage Details June 2004 to Feb 2008

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Voyage Details June 2004 to Feb 2008
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Spinalonga Lagoon, Crete

All times GMT. Until 10 Dec 2004 when they revert to local times

9th February to 6th March 2008 Visits to the Hunter, Mudgee and Orange wine districts and to the Blue Mountains Wine summary: We tasted 27 different wine varietals and 15 different blends, visited, 4 wine districts and 43 wineries (plus 9 more where we didn't do a tasting) and sampled 235 wines.

3rd March 2008 We have finally got rid of the camper   Hurrah.  Staying back at our friends Jacquie and Eric in Horsfield Bay.  We spent the weekend back in the Hunter  where we tried a few more wineries such as Mistletoe and Pigs Peake.  It was a short drive back to the house and comfort.   Just lots of packing to do for our flight to the UK. 

28th February 2008 Mudgee is a lovely town with some nice hotels and restaurants and an Olympic sized swimming pool which was near the campsite.  There are many wonderful vineyards.  The most well known was of course Wild Oats.  Robert Oatley's boat competed in, and won, the Sydney to Hobart race we watched start after Christmas.  The weather was mostly kind to us but we did have a spectacular storm and heavy rain one night.

21st February 2008 The rain returned so we headed to Orange another grape growing region.  It's at a much higher in altitude from the Hunter so they have cool climate wines.  The area is very lovely and much more rural  than the Hunter and less touristy.  The wineries were open for tasting over the weekend which was great and we stayed until  Monday and then headed for Mudgee driving down the back roads through some national reserves.  Some of the roads were unmade but the van coped very well.

20th February 2008 After a week it was time for a pause from the drinking and the crowds who flock to the wineries for tasting and educating so we headed to the famous Blue Mountains.  The town of  Katoomba sits on the edge of the rift valley provides a central point for walking and sight seeing.  The stunning peaks and eucalyptus lined mountain sides are amazing.  We took the Scenic cable car and aerial rides which gave stunning views of the Three Sisters and other promontories.  We were able to follow the board walk through the trees below.  Fortunately we had a lovely dry sunny day to do this.  The weather in Australia has been very unseasonal and it's been much cooler and wetter than anyone expected.  This has been good for us otherwise we may have been baking in the van. 

18th February 2008 We have spent the last week in the beautiful lower Hunter Valley in the town of Cessnock.  A lovely campsite with en-suite facilities including a kitchen sink and somewhere to leave our things.  We not only tasted many wonderful wines but found the Smelly Cheese Factory and sampled the cheese and ice-creams as well.  They grow many olives which are also available for tasting along with Dukkah , a  spicy nut mix which you take on bread dipped in the wonderful flavoured olive oils made locally.   We went to the organic vineyard of Tamburlaine for a tour which gave us a great insight in to how wine is made from the time the grapes are picked.  We were able to take sips from the barrels at various stages of the process and finished up with a cheese plate and some wonderful wine.  After much swilling and tasting and pouring away the excess we got to know the Shiraz , the verdelho and chardonnays as well as many others.  Many of the vineyards are just dealing with the home market and are Boutique wineries.  Others are much bigger such as McGuigans and Tyrells but the quality and consistency of the wine astounded us.

11th February  2008 Headed off from Sydney northwards to Point Stevens.  Here we camped by the river at Koala Shores in the rain.  There were no bears to be see or sunshine so we continued on to the Hunter Valley.

9th Februaray 2008 Sydney AustraliaWe went to the one day Cricket International at the Sydney Cricket ground where Australia beat Sri Lanka.  We also took the train in one day to visit Darling Harbour and Circular Quay and the Rocks where it all began for Australia.In Sydney house sitting for Eric and Jacqui who are holidaying in Bali.  It's wonderful to have a place to stop and rest from the camper van for a few days.    The weather has been very wet with so much rain that it looks as if the drought that Australia has been suffering may well be over as a result of the La Ninea conditions. We're looking after their 2 cats Sasha and Willie. In the evenings a possum has been appearing on the deck to look at us which is very sweet.

28th January 2008 Now In the Kosciusko National Park in order to visit the spectacular Yarrongabilly Caves.  These are only 100,000 years old so the stalactites and mites are relatively new and growing rapidly as there is lots of moisture.  There is also a lovely thermal bath in the valley which is 27 degrees.  It was built by convict labour and wonderful to swim in.

25th January w2008In the Barossa Valley with its many vineyards and other orchards, in the valley of the Murray river.  Stopped and bought some boxes of Clean Skins (excess wine bottled without labels which is sold for a fraction of the price)  It's large green body of water snaking through the eucalyptus but it's not that inviting in spite of the heat.     Saw lots of emus running down the side of the road on the way to Mildura and on to Hay.  We went for a beer in the local bar which was very typical of the Australian pubs.  There is a sheep shearing shed there but there was no live display as it was a public holiday for Australia Day.  Another highlight missed me fear.....

21st January 2008 Adelaide is definitely the nicest of the Australian cities visited so far.  The campsite was a bus ride away from the city centre and the 4th test between India and Australian was to be played here.  We did the usual Museum and Art Gallery trips. We visited the lovely botanical gardens with its amazing giant Amazon water lily pool and the National Wine Museum.  For the Test we stocked up with goodies from the wonderful food market and had a lovely day.  I am at last beginning to understand the game a little more. 

8th January 2008  Off down the Great Ocean road to Adelaide. This was a little a little disappointing as much of it was inland and the bits of the coast line we could see and reach was not swim able anyway.   The flies also make sitting out or walking a bit of a nightmare and we resorted to our head nets, found in Kmart, for relief.  The rocks called the 12 apostles are now eroded away to 6 and the second of the arches of the London Bridge has collapsed so it was not that spectacular really.    We had stopped on the Otway Peninsula and camped in a eucalyptus forest.  There were some lovely walking tracks through the trees which were full of Koala Bears.  There were so many, some with babies and all very active feeding in the twilight and again in the early morning.  They are as cute as they look and just as vacant.  We were diverted back inland by a road accident on the Sunday afternoon and found ourselves at Mount Gambier with its amazing blue crater lake.  It's really an amazing dark sapphire blue quite different from the glacial blue lakes seen in NZ.  At Keith we had kangaroos jumping past the campsite fence which was fun.  There are also large flocks of pink and grey birds called Galah's which are  members  of the cockatoo family but quite different from the usual sulphur crested ones we have seen in Horsfield Bay.

12th January 2008Off to Wilson's Promontory and on to Melbourne. .  We did see an Echidna walking down the roadside which was surprise.  In Melbourne we used the bus to get us into town and the trams for getting about.  We did the Immigration Museum, Ned Kelly's Goal, the War Memorial and more botanic gardens and also the Gold museum.  The city was buzzing with the Australian Open tennis being played and the weather was lovely.  There is also a very, very good fresh market with many wonderful things to eat.   

2nd January 2008 So it was off down the coast.  Unfortunately it's the main school holidays and the sites on the coast are full of holiday makers so it was all very crowded.  Pebbly Beach was the first pretty spot we came too and we found some wild kangaroos and huge monitor Lizards nearby.  We were able to meet up with Keith and Christine from Poco Andante (Tom raced in her in the Bahia Redonda regatta in 2006.  We last saw them in Bonnaire, 2006) who have been in NZ working for the last year and are in OZ on holiday too.  We went on a trip into the mountains in their 4 wheeled drives Toyota, which was fun. We went for a lovely walk in the primeval virgin forest. We also saw a few dead wombats on the roadside which made a change from the many dead squashed possums on the road of NZ where they are considered pests.  We all headed inland to Canberra the capital of Australia.  Sightseeing covered the two houses of parliament, the war memorial, Art Gallery, Portrait Gallery and Museum as well as the Mint and a drive through the consular district with its distinctive houses reflecting the nationalities it represents.  We spent a day at the Manuka Oval watching an Invitation II play India and headed on down through the Tidbinbilla Reserve where we saw Emus and Kangaroos and a Lyre bird. 

22nd December 2007 Horsfield Bay, Woy Woy, Australia We are with Eric and Jacqui who have now moved into their new house around the corner from their old house.  A trip to the Sydney Opera House for the Christmas Special was a wonderful way to start the festivities  which ended with a spectacular night on Garden Island, part of Australia's Naval base to watch the New Years eve fireworks.  We had the best view in town of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and  joined the rest of Australia to see the new year in.  A very kind friend of Eric and Jacqui's let us stay in his apartment for the night.  Then it was off in the third of our campervans to explore South East Australia.

23rd  November 2007 South Island New Zealand We arrived in Wellington for two nights which gave us an opportunity to see the amazing Te Papa museum  , the Botanic Gardens and a ride in the little cable car.  We then took the ferry across the Cook Straits to catch the train down to Christchurch.  It runs along the coast for most of the way but we could see vineyards and there are also salt ponds.  Again there was an open viewing carriage for us to use and we arrived in Christchurh in the late afternoon.  Our second camper van was not available until the Friday so we had a few days just to relax in the very modern Hotel So which I think is modelled on the idea of the Japanese sleep pods.  It is a new very modern hotel in the heart of the city.  So it was more museums gardens and strolls round the shops.  Once we got our van we headed for Arthur's Pass.  The Scenery had changed and we felt we could have been in Scotland with the gorse and rugged mountain sides.  We spent the first night by the side of a lake  on a fisherman's track free camping, as they say, on the way down to Greymouth.  We drove north a little way to see the Pancake Rocks  and then headed south for the Glaciers.  We saw both the Franz Josef and Fox Glacier but the weather was a little disappointing with dark cloudy skies and some rain though it did brighten a bit.  We saw many lakes including Lake Hawea where Tom went fishing.  He caught one small trout which he replaced only to find that that is what they take, no wonder there are so few fish these days.  Lake Wanaka was beautiful and we did a wonderful climb past the small diamond lake to view Mount Aspiring.  Again a swim in Lake Wanaka was most refreshing. We drove on south to Queens Town and on to Te Anau were we waited for a couple of days in the pouring rain.  We wanted to go up to Milford Sound but the weather never eased and in the end we gave it a miss.  We had tried possum meat pies on the way down and here we found some good venison pies.  Deer fill the fields nearly as much as sheep and cows.  The density of animals is amazing but the grass just grows as there is so much rain.  We drove to the Otago peninsula stopping to look at Dinosaur trees and a petrified forest on the shore line.  These are fossilised trunks which look like rocks. Through Dunedin and on to the Otago Penninsula which has the only mainland Albatross nesting ground in the world along with a disappearing gun built to fend off invaders which never came and we were able to view the southern Royal Albatross nesting and flying which was definitely a highlight.  Then on to Omaru home to the yellow eyed penguins found nowhere else in the world and the smaller tiny blue penguins.  The yellow eyed ones came ashore singly and manage to climb incredible cliffs to their nests.  On the other hand the smaller blue ones all come ashore together in rafts of 50 to 60 at dusk.  We watched them land and return to their waiting chicks after being at sea all day.  From there we went up through the hills to Lake Benmore en route for Mount Cook.  The clouds descended and the rain covered the mountains so no view was to be had and we had to make do with a video.  On then to Lake Tekapo, with its stunning blue colour and fields of lupins.  We visited the observatory at Mount John where there is a satellite tracking station and also the small ecumenical church of the Good Shepherd on the lake.  There is a statue to a dog called Friday which belonged to an infamous sheep rustler.  After nearly three weeks we headed back to Christchurch to catch our flight back to Sydney.  There was a lovely carol concert in the Cathedral  which put us very much in the mood for Christmas.

2nd November 2008  North Island New Zealand After Hauling out of the water into the yard on 2nd November  we drove down to Sydney via Coffs Harbour and joined our friends Eric and Jacqui Henry in Horsfield Bay just 30 miles north of Sydney. We visited the wildlife park nearby to see the wombats, roos, tasmanian devils, echidna and other indigenous creatures we hoped to see later in the wild.  After the weekend   seeing the city and the museum, we flew to North Island New Zealand. We spent a couple of days exploring Auckland and then hired the first of our camper vans and headed north to the Bay of Islands.  The Museum in Auckland provided us with Maori Dance and insights into the culture of the Islands.  A trip up the Sky Tower gave us a wonderful view of the Bay but Tom did not think $195 was enough to make him do the bunghy jump   Wangarai and Opua are two of the ports much frequented by other pacific crossers so it was interesting to see where they all were.  We went to Waitangi where the treaty was signed with the Maoris.  We took a trip around the famous Bay of Islands where the boat squeezed through a hole in the rock which looked far to small and then headed back through Auckland to Lake Rotorua.  The famous pink and white terraces are long gone but the town remains.    We explored the geysers (they drop soap down the hole of one to make it blow for the tourists daily) and the mud baths and took the walk through the lunar landscape with its lovely different coloured pools.  We visited the Victorian Spa baths which are now the museum. There are some amazing rivers and falls too which are part of the Hydro power system which were well worth a look. We also took the opportunity to visit a breeding centre for the elusive nocturnal Kiwis.  A lovely campsite on the Blue Lake nearby was very peaceful and I was able to swim and then we headed for Lake Taupo where we did some free camping on the edge of the lovely lake. Again the swimming was wonderful and Tom and I enjoyed an amazing sunset.  We returned to Auckland to drop off the van and catch the Trans Scenic Train to Wellington, the capital of NZ.
The train was fabulous with a large viewing section in the rear carriage in which we were seated.  The mountain views and Volcanoes topped with snow combined with many viaducts and a very complicated spiral rail track to get us up the mountain provided us with spectacular views. A lovely relaxing journey and Tom was able to enjoy not driving.

21 October 2007 Scarborough MarinaWe have been 2 weeks in the marina and during that time we have had a major service of the engine and had the rigging tuned. Lots of small jobs have been done but we have also managed to go to the cinema 3 times. The last occasion was free after I one tickets for the cinema from a free newssheet. The editor kindly drove us back after the private showing of "A Mighty Heart" and a couple of days later he offered us the use of his old Honda car so now we have wheels, We also have free WiFI on board. Nicolette is taking advantage of the free very large outdoor swimming pool and we had a great time at the seafood festival held just outside the marina. Jacarandas were in full bloom in Brisbane when we went there last week, it is a modern and very vibrant city. The surrounds of Scarborough are lovely with lots of parks within  which there are numerous free electric bar- b- ques

26 Sept 2007 Manly to Scarborough Marina, Moreton Bay, Queensland 20nm      

The next morning we had a leisurely motor up to Scarborough marina were the boat will stay until we leave for Darwin next May.  

25 Sept 2007 New Caledonia to Manly nr Brisbane Australia 768nm

I had spent some time trying to choose a good time to leave NC. At this time of year there is always the chance of a low pressure system running up the coast from the Tasman Sea. If this happens then you can expect 50 plus of wind and very big seas. More than one yacht has been lost in these conditions We Left at 1030 after clearing customs and immigration with a well established high pressure system off the coast  by Brisbane. We sailed for the first 24 hours then the wind died completely (which I had half expected) Over the next 5 days we motored, sailed and motorsailed. By the 30 Sept the winds had got up to 28kts but we were close hauled and bucking an adverse current. We arrived at Many Harbour Marina at 1200 on 1 Oct 2007.  6  hours previous to that as we were entering the NE passage -which is a shallow water approach to Moreton Bay - a saw a humpback whale only 20m ahead of us , his tail clearly out of the water coming straight for us. We were in 4m of water and I was concerned that he might hit us. In the event he went under us, I could see him very clearly as he passed down and beneath our starboard side. Imagine my surprise when 2 humpbacks surfaced only 15m behind us. The other must have passed underneath and on our port side.  Customs, Immigration and Quarantine came aboard  and gave us clearance to enter the country. The quarantine officer took away some whole cloves, whole allspice, popping corn and mayonnaise (containing more than 10% egg) He would have confiscated any fresh meat of fruit or vegetables had we had any.

17 Sept 2007 We to Noumea, New Caledonia 140nm

We left at 10.30 in order to make the Havaannah passage (south of New Caledonia) at slack water. The wind was very variable so we had to motorsail for much of the time. Once clear of Havannah the wind died and we motored up to Noumea and to the marina at Port Moselle arriving at 1400 on 18 Sept. Noumea is a modern city and very French and a worls apart from the life and culture of Tanna. We visited a couple of museaums, had a disappointing meal out but enjoyed a local festival and music in the park.

11 Sept 2007 Tanna to We, Lifou, Loyalty Islands 160nm

We took up the anchor at 0600 and sailed with a reef in the main and genny. The winds were 25kts with an uncomfortable sea. We arrived at We at 0815 on 12 Sept. There is a small marina there which we enjoyed but little else to commend We. 3 September Port Resolution, Tanna, VanuatuWe were immediately taken by this lovely island. There was a village close by ; all the huts being made from  logs for the structure. Plaited palm leaves for the roofs and woven palm leaves for the sides. The villagers were most welcoming and we were able to barter for food, a meal on the beach and for a truck ride to the volcano. I had seen the bright red glow of the volcano the night before we arrived. We took a truck to a point only 150m from the caldera (in exchange for 10litres of diesel) and were able to look into the crater. Unfortunately there was no wind that night so the dense smoke obscured our view but we could hear the lava bubbling and occasionally erupting above us. We took another truck to Lenekal to check in and the route took us round the bleak base of the volcano. On the way back we stopped to witness the start of a circumcision ceremony. Boys aged between 4 and 15  are circumcised without any anaesthetic using a sliver of bamboo. Afterwards they are kept in isolation for 3 weeks and then the ceremony is held. There was a feast of food, fresh cooked pork ( and pigs waiting to be slaughtered) and lap lap which is cassava and meat wrapped in palm leaves and cooked in the ground for many hours. It was similar in appearance and texture to brawn. We had 2 lovely meals on the beach with white sand, palm trees and a beautiful blue sea surrounding us. (some cutlery paid for one of the meals) and watched the men of the village try, unsuccessfully, to catch a wild boar using only bows and arrows, catapults and spears.   The only problem we had was occurred early one morning when  the wind suddenly rose to something over 40kts and we dragged about 200m to a point uncomfortably close to a reef. We reset the anchor and had no further incidents.

30 August 2007 Musket Cove to Tanna, Vanuatu 550nm

We left at 0830 and after 2 hours we were in 25-30kts winds with the seas building. Given that Tanna  is open  to any wind from the Eat we decided to make course for Port Vila.  For the next 2 days we had rough seas and winds well over 30 kts with occasional gust over 40.  However  early on 2 Sept the winds eased and moved round to the South so we decided to make for Tanna arriving there at 0800 on 3rd September.

27 August 2007 Vunda Point to Musket Cove via Lautoka 22nm

We first cleared out in Lautoka and then sailed down to Musket Cove arriving at 1500. After anchoring in 15m  we were offered a mooring which we took. The resort offers free bar-b-que facilities to the yachts which we took advantage of and of the swimming pool.  We also became life members of  the Musket Cove Yacht Club.

24 August Waya to Vunda Point              35nm

We left at 080 and arrived at 1430. Vunda point is a marina and  made a pleasant change and cost very little for the 3 days we were there. We were able to take on fresh water and top up the fuel and Nicolette spent a long time cleaning the topsides and the stainless steel.

16 August 2007 Suva to Lautoku Fiji 100nm

We left at 1300 with a reefed main and genny. The wind was soon up to 34kts which is gale force 8 but with it being abaft and with easy seas we had a very pleasant sail.. Once we were in the shelter of the island the wind died and we motored for the last few hours. The land around Lautoka is very brown compared to Suva. They have little rain there whereas we seemed to be under a rain cloud most of our time in Suva. We dropped anchor at 1015 and went ashore to do our clearance in. The next day we sailed up to Waya and the Octopus resort (32nm). What a find. The resort welcomes yachts and allowed us free rein of all the  facilities. Eating out there was very reasonable and we took advantage of the walking tours up the hills and to the local village. The Fijians like Kava and the men will drink it most evenings if it's available and it is customary to take Kave with you to present to village chief. We were invited to a Kava ceremony and I was elected chief of the visitors so whilst the rest of our group toured the village I had to stay and talk ( and drink Kava) it was a memorable experience. Nicolette went on a night snorkel and also went diving. The coral reef by the beach was excellent and in very good condition and so there were lots of reef fish to see.

5 August 2007 Fiji to Tonga 435nm

We left at 0900 and for 3 days we had a most glorious sail with the big genoa poled out and the main out on the other side. Even with an adverse current we were averaging nearly 5kts. On the last day the wind got up to 28kts and backed to the south so we reefed down and continued to sail well. We arrived at Suva at 0900 on 9 July and anchored in 3m . Suva reminded Nicolette of Durban and there seemed to be more Indians than Fijians in the town which was very busy and vibrant. We went to the cinema 3 times and to a lovely rainforest and the museum. We also ate out a number of times and had some wonderful curries. 22 July Tonga               Neifu lies by a lagoon which is some 7 miles from the open sea. Tonga is made up of three distinct island groups and we were in the northerly one. The town is lovely and everyone dresses traditionally with the men in long skirts and the women in skirts with bamboo wrappings. We sailed at the weekend (24th) to Port Muella which is only 10 miles or so from Neifu and enjoyed seing more humpback whales. We went to a number of other anchorages over the next 2 weeks or so and also had a wonderful lobster meal one evening at Neifu.  Shortly before leaving for Fiji we were told that Nicolette's brother,Gremmy , had had a serious climbing accident and had suffered severe head injuries. ( he made a good recovery and by 19 October was back at home  still undergoing therapy but improving) We also were told that my grandson, Jakaira had fallen from a tree and had a ruptured spleen ( by 19 October he was doing well but had not returned to school because of the danger of suffering a hard knock)

19 July 2007 Niue to Tonga 260nms

We left at 0900 with light airs which built during the night and we made good speed with reefs in the main and genoa. The next day the winds eased as did the seas and we had a glorious sail with our friends on "Flight" within sight. We arrived at Neiafu at 0900 on 22 July. Note that there was no 21 July since we crossed the (artificial ) date line en route.

12 July Alofi, Niue

The island of Niue is primarily of limestone and has no rivers running into the sea or any outflow of water from the land. As a result the waters round the island are the clearest in the world and one can easily see the bottom in 40m . Niue is also a breeding ground for the Humpback whales and whilst e were there we saw a number of them at close range actually swimming through the anchorage. The anchorage itself in also of interest. It's not usual to anchor because of the depths but the Niue Yacht club have laid 40 excellent moorings. Going ashore is an adventure as well since there is no place to moor the dinghy. On arrival at the wharf it's a case of everyone jumping ashore leaving one person to hook the dinghy up to the hook of the crane and then after vacating the dinghy it is hoisted ashore. Except on our arrival the seas were so bad that we couldn't get ashore and we were hoisted up with the dinghy!!. Niue Yacht club is the focal point with wifi and good company. The members, none of whom have a yacht, do everything possible to make life easy and ferried us around wherever we wanted to go. The anchorage can be untenable in a Northerly which we had on arrival but and it was very rolly but improved the next day.

7 July  Raratonga to Niue 586nm

We left at 8 in the morning  with all sails up to make the best of the light SE winds but by 1415 the winds had died completely and we had to switch the engine on. The wind came up early the next morning an we continued close hauled with 10- 15kts.  The wind was variable for the next 2 days and came form most directions and at various strengths but by 10 July we had 30kts plus and were reefed down with rough seas. The winds eased a bit the next day but we were close hauled and not making our course.  We arrived at Alofi  at 080 12 July. 1 July Raratonga.

We are anchored med style stern to the quay as we did in Papeete. On the 29 th we had a walk round the town and found ourselves in an exhibition of locally made bedspreads. After talking with some of the ladies we were invited to the Kai Kai which means eat eat. The next day we joined them at the Kai Kai and had a vast assortment of  foods. We tried most of them including many which  were totally unknown to us. Octopus, pork , chicken cooked a dozen different ways, fermented coconut milk, lots of unknown vegetables. We were given a plate made from a leaf and half a coconut shell , no utensils only fingers to tear away a piece of pork or octopus tentacle. It was a lovely experience especially since we were made so welcome and I was asked repeatedly if I had had enough to eat. The Cook Islanders are quite large so they probably thought I needed fattening up. One other surprise, we can buy malt vinegar here which we have not seen since Gibraltar. There are fish and chips shops and we shared a single fish and chips (lots of vinegar too) and which was more than we could manage.

23 Jun Bora Bora to Raratonga, Cook Islands 535nms

The weather forecast indicated that if we didn't leave straight away for Raratonga then we would be stuck in Bora Bora for another week. The forecast proved to only partially correct. We left at 1130 and for the first 24 hours we had rough seas and it was very rolly but we had expected this to be the case. However we made good progress making nearly 130nm in the first 24 hrs. The sailing conditions improved and it was very pleasant until wee were suddenly hit by a squall which had winds peaking to over 40kts. I managed to get a wrap in the genoa in my haste to douse the sails but also got the mizzen down without any damage. After the squall had gone through I was able to unwrap the genoa. Nicolette slept through it all and only woke up as I had got everything sorted out. We then had lots of rain squalls but none with excessive winds in them but it did mean we sailed with reduced sail. By the 26th we had good sailing conditions again with the wind backing to the North. This continued until dusk on 27th when the wind strength increased to I put in a precautionary reef in the main. By 0500 on 28th the wind was up to 30+ kts and was from the SW (the direction we were going in) We were unable to make any headway so we motored the remaining 90nms to Raratonga which took us over 24 hours. 2 boats only 50nm behind us were unable to motor into the seas and wind and arrived 36 hours after us. Katanne proved again to be very seaworthy when motoring into 16ft seas. Nevertheless we were very pleased to reach a safe haven and to do so without damage to the boat. The forecast weather was a predicted except the SW winds arrived  more than 24 hours before forecast.  4 days later the winds are still blowing from the SW.

19 June 2007 Raiatea to Boar Bora 21nm

We had a lovely sail arriving at 1530 and anchoring off Bloody Mary's . It was very windy there but on 20th I decided to take a free mooring. Unfortunately our mooring line broke in the night - I had however put on the anchor alarm  and so we were alerted immediately and I was able to clear  the reef area and set the anchor. The anchor alarm is part of the GPS and records a specific position. If the boat moves more than .02 or .03 nm from this position then  the alarm goes off. The incident was all of my making because I invariably put out 2 anchor lines and for some unknown reason didn't do so on this occasion. The Bora Bora festival started on 22nd and we watched some really fabulous dancing. There were 2 troupes each of about 60 dancers. They were both traditional with lots of hip wiggling and grass skirts but the second troupe were especially good and so well co-ordinated. We were thinking of moving to a less squally anchorage but the forecast winds were such that we decided to make an early departure for Raratonga         

12 June 2007 Mo'orea to Raiatea 200nm

We left at 0900 and had a lovely if somewhat slow sail with clear skies overnight. We arrived on 14th at 1300 to discover that the cutlass bearing had arrived!! There isn't much to do in Raiatea so we were pleased when we were able to haul out the boat at 1400 on 18tth. I removed the max prop and rope cutter and had some help with the cutlass bearing. The old one came out easily and we had no trouble putting in the new one. Putting back the max prop took the longest time but I was pleased to note that all the cogs and gears were in good condition.  I also serviced and put back the rope cutter and managed to finish just as the sun was setting at 6pm. We were back in the water  by 0900 and went straight off to Bora Bora.

11 June 2007 Still in Mo'rea and having a wonderful time but we may leave tomorrow. We had an impromptu bar-b-que with six or seven other boats and there were 11 nationalities represented. We also went to swim with the sting rays and sharks and that was awesome. There are some fabulous photos of the rays and sharks in the picture gallery. We enjoyed a kilo of locally farmed fresh (live when we bought them) prawns and also had an evening out at the nearby Sheraton resort where we watched a local traditional dance group. Mo'orea is one of our favourite spots and we'll will be a bit sad to leave it but the fitting of the cutlass bearing has to be the priority.

31 May 2007 Papeete to Morea 18nm

We motored out of Papeete very gently at 1000 hrs and picked up a light wind which took us to the entrance of Opunohu bay which is where Captain Cook actually anchored and not in Cook's bay which is just to the East. Arriving at 1430 hrs we anchored in 14m but a day or 2 later moved to a better anchorage in 6m. The water is remarkably clear and the snorkelling very good. In the morning when it is flat calm you can clearly see puffer fish around the anchor chain and even an eagle ray swimming by. The land surrounding the bay is volcanic and there are massive pinnacles of rock at the head of the bay. It has to be one of the scenic bays we've anchored. We took a scooter round the island and saw a number of marea (sacrificial altars) and an unparalleled view of the 2 bays from Belvedere view point.

23 May 2007 Rangiroa to Papeete Tahiti  194nm

Fortunately we had plenty of wind for this overnight sail, in fact we had too much and spent the last 8 hours reducing sail to slow down and make a day time arrival. We had lots of rain showers and distance lightning and very variable winds. Altogether it was a frustrating sail not helped when the autopilot decided to shut down. Recycling it brought in back in short time. We moored "med" style at the town quay in Papeete arriving there 0930 hrs. "med style" means putting down an anchor then reversing to the quay and securing the stern to it. Our first attempt failed because our anchor had snagged on a very large chain but which allowed the anchor to drag. Papeete was wonderful.  We soon got used to the traffic close by which was virtually non existent in the night. Nicolette was able to hop ashore whenever she felt like it and go window shopping at her leisure. Lots of fresh water and shore power was a luxury we had not enjoyed for months. We could eat out where a number of food wagons set up each evening 300m away or get a take away from the market. Fish and Chips in a baguette for instance!! Together with Flight we hired a car and toured the island and in the process picked and bought loads of  pamplemousse from a roadside house.

8 May Ua Poa to Rangiroa - Tuamotos  550nm

A 5 day sail with little or no wind for much of the time. We used the spinnaker whenever we could but at night we had to be cautious because of the numerous rain showers and squalls. A few hours before our arrival at Rangiroa   there was a heavy noise and vibrations from the prop shaft. I thought it might be the rope cutter but we were thereafter very cautious using the engine. We anchored in 12 m arriving on 13 May at 1500 hours which had been timed to go through the pass into the lagoon at slack water. Currents of up to 9 kts can be experienced if attempting to enter at the wrong time. The noise was caused by the inner sleeve of the cutlass bearing becoming detached. With help we were able to get about 2 inches of it back into the bearing and then Nicolette secured a jubilee clip just forward of it to stop it coming out again. We decided to haul out at Raiatea which would give us plenty of time to get a new bearing. "Flight" arrived shortly after us and together we went on a dinghy drift through the pass (3 times) which was good fun. In addition the snorkelling was excellent with black tipped sharks, rays and a plethora of different coral fish. We also had a lovely buffet at the Kia Ora hotel. Also went to a pearl farm and bought some beautiful black pearls. One for Nicolette and one each for Joanne and Kathryn, my daughters.

7 may 2007 Hakahetau to Hakamaii 5nm

A quick motor sail found us in a much better anchorage with no swell arriving at 0700. The anchorage is only big enough for 2 boats and is in an enclosed bay with a settlement at the head but no where to take the dinghy and go ashore.

6 May 2007 Nuka Hiva to Ua Pau - Baie d'Hakahetau            25nm

We left at 10.00am and had a good close reaching sail with 15kts of wind and flat seas. Arriving at 15.00 we anchored in 12m. The bay is overlooked by spectacular rock formations but the anchorage was extremely rolly  and we had an uncomfortable night.

29Apr Tahuata to Nuka Hiva 87nms

A pleasant overnight sail broad reaching with somewhat rolly seas. We arrived in convoy with Double Dutch, Flight and Wombat of Sydney. Nuka Hiva is the main administrative centre for the Marquesas but like the other islands we've seen is very laid back. Nothing much seems to be going on and it's difficult to know what everyone is doing. There are 2 or 3 reasonably well stocked shops but prices are very high and even local produce is not cheap with a grapefruit costing well over a dollar (and there well laden grapefruit trees everywhere. I was able to buy a new replacement display head for the depth sounder and arrange for a new hydraulic drive unit for the autopilot to be delivered to Papeete 

27 April Fatu Hiva to Tahuata 42nms

A good sail until in the lee of the islands when we were hit by 38 kts squalls. Anchored in baie Hanamoena which was one of Eric Hiscock's 3 most beautiful anchorages in Polynesia. It is very pretty and a bit like Saline Bay in Mayreaux in the Caribbean. We went with friends in their dinghy to a nearby bay and had a lunch of prawns at a local restaurant.22 Apr 2007 Baie de Vierges Fatu Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia

We arrived at daybreak after the worst 24hours of sailing of the whole crossing.  The depth sounder was not working but we have a portable one so we were able to take soundings.  The baie of Vierges means bay of virgins but it's said that originally the "i" was missing from vierges so it translated as the bay of the phalli. It's easy to see why with massive columns rising out of the cliffs. The anchorage is spectacular and apart from the williwaws (strong squalling gusts of wind) coming off the hills it was very comfortable and a great place to settle down and reflect on our passage. Of course we overdid it by walking up hill and down dale and then suffering with stiff limbs the next day. We arrived virtually in convoy with Flight and Paws which had left just the Galapagos just after us. Other friends turned up over the following days and Wombat of Sydney was already there having done the crossing in 17 days in his racy First 47.  We had no local money but Nicolette bartered with a t shirt and perfume for a whole stalk of bananas, grapefruit and mangos and a pareo (sarong) for herself. Mike off Wombat was took apart  the autopilot motor, cleaned it out and got it back to working condition.

29 Mar Galapagos to Fatu Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia 3100nms

We were well prepared for this, our longest passage so far, but set off in light airs and had to motor sail until we were clear of the islands. Until the 5 April we had indifferent winds and for long periods no wind at all. We were also going through the ITCZ (used to be called the doldrums) which gave us cloudy skies and some rain. I decided to motor at the most fuel saving speed I could which meant we made about 4kts under motor. Although we motored for a total of 80 hours we only used 120 litres of fuel. When the wind came up we were able to put up the spinnaker and then as the wind increased the big genoa on the pole which was often furled in with increasing wins. We never experienced more that 25kts and for the most part the winds, when we had them were between 10 and 20kts. 

On a long passage like this the individual days are forgotten there is only yesterday, today and tomorrow. Food becomes very important and Nicolette never ceased to amaze me with the variety of meals she produced. We ate very well on the trip and unlike the Atlantic crossing I lost very little weight. Rather than give a day by day blow I have extracted some log entries:9 Apr Fabulous 24 hrs clear skies reaching with 12kts. 6+ kts with current, later winds down to 10 kts spinnaker up making 5+ kts11 Apr Third day of great sailing. 10 -12 kts on the beam good seas. Big genny working well12 Apr Autopilot failed. Rigged up tiller pilot to drive hydrovane rudder. Had to reef main and lower mizzen to balance sails17 Apr wind 18-20kts. Genny poled out with reefed main. Lost another big marlin but very exciting to watch. Adverse current of .7kt Watching porpoises when spinnaker pole brackets flew off. Used jubilee clips to effect a repair. Autopilot back on line Yippee!!20 Apr autopilot failed again. Back to tiller pilot. Spinnaker down ad ref in main. Tiller pilot not working well, discovered bolt missing from securing bracket. Fixed it.

We caught and lost a number of very big fish en route. Some broke the trace and other just straightened the hook. They were too big to land anyway but we enjoyed the spectacle as bystanders. We also had a great time watching a 20m whale which came so close it sprayed me and its breath was awful. We read 20 books on the crossing but maintained watches all the time. There was very little commercial traffic but with our autopilot problems we needed to keep a close eye on the sails and on the tiller pilot.

I had decided that with the arrival of La Nina and stronger trade winds that we had no need to go to far south before taking the rhumb line to the Fatu Hiva. I therefore took the rhumb line at 100W and 5S whilst other went as far as 10S. This paid off because we kept the wind but didn't get the very severe rolling conditions that the Southern boats suffered. We had it for the last 36 hours and it was really awful and tiring. Others had it for most of their crossing so we were thankful that we had such a smooth time of it. We had established a net on the HF SSB radios and checked in each morning. At the beginning there were only 5 of us but by the time we arrived there were some 24 boats on the net. It was very useful to hear where the others were, the speeds they were making, the course they were taking and the conditions they were experiencing. I think it was accepted by all that the route we took turned out to be the best.

We made the crossing in 24 days which was very creditable. A40 ft catamaran took 22 days as did a Halberg Rassey 47 and a Nauticat 40 took 26 days.

13 - 29March 2007 in the Galapagos

During our time here we visited the Darwin Research centre, Tortuga Bay, Los Greitos, Isla Bartholemew, Isla Floreana, Isla South Plaza, Isla Isabella and a bay tour in Puerto Ayora. These islands are special for a number of reasons. Charles Darwin went there and realized that he could easily see that the animals and birds had evolved over many years to suit particular circumstances. He wrote the evolution of the species which turned on its head all the thinking that had gone on before and of course it was very controversial. To think that man had evolved from other primates was too many, unthinkable. The Galapagos Islands are a long way from any other landmass and so the animals and birds had all got there somehow and then adapted to the islands.

For example there are about 15 types of finch which have all evolved from a single type. One of them is called the carpenter finch because it picks up a stick in its beak and uses it to pry out the grubs in the bark of trees. Another finch has a very pronounced beak with which it can crack hard seeds and another has a way of cracking open shells. The Tortoises on the islands are massive and live for 100s of years; it is the only place on earth were they are found. There were 100s of thousands of them until the first pirates and settlers came along. They killed the tortoises for food and took lots of them away on their ships because a tortoise can live for up to a year without food or water so the sailors had a supply of fresh meat for many months. Other predators like the rat and the goat and the cow and the wild pig have even the fire ants have done so much damage that the tortoises can no longer breed in the wild. The rats and fire ants eat the eggs and the goats and other trample on the nests. Fortunately in 1967 breeding centres were established on a number of the islands and even though there were only 15 tortoises on one island they are now doing very well. The eggs are collected as soon as they are laid and then taken to the breeding centre to incubate. The young tortoises are kept at the centre for 4 years and then released. There are differences between the tortoises from different islands some have flatter shells than others for example. We went to see the tortoises in the wild, they like to go to farming areas in the dry season to eat and that's were we saw them wallowing in mud baths if they found one or roaming around.

The penguins came from Peru and are very small only about 30cms high they have adapted to the climate but unfortunately couldn't adapt quickly enough to cope with the EL Nino weather which raised the water temperature so much in 1991 that many thousands died and there was no breeding for some years. We went to see a colony but they were nearly all away at sea. That colony is now only 800 strong when before 1991 it was many 1000s and after 1991 the population went down to less than 500 The iguanas are really special because they have evolved to create a separate species which is the marine iguana and can only be found in the Galapagos. The marine iguanas are black and this is because the rocks on the shore are volcanic and black so they are well camouflaged. They eat under water plants but also wander about on land as well. They, like the land iguana, obviously believe in their camouflage because when you approach them they just freeze and you can get within a couple of feet of them before they move. That makes them very easy to photograph and it almost as though they are posing. It's a strange thing about all the wildlife in the Galapagos but nothing is frightened by our presence. Birds will sit a few inches away, sea lions swim to you, tortoises just ignore you and the iguanas pose and the hummingbird moth will come to the boat to drink from a can of Pepsi.I had a fabulous experience swimming with the sea lions, like everything else they are totally unafraid of us. One of them came right up to my mask and nudged it then swam away and then swam round me.

We also went to see a colony of sea lions. They seem to have lovely time sunbathing for most of the day them slipping into the sea to catch a fish for dinner. They are warm blooded so don't spend too much time swimming around and when they do you often see them with a fin sticking out of the water. It gets warmed up by the sun and helps keep them warm. Sometimes they lie on their backs in the water with 2 fins in the air. The female sea lions can wander off and join another colony whenever they feel like it and there are some colonies which are called bachelor colonies. The alpha male can get very tired watching over all the females and babies so he takes time off too at a bachelor colony.  Sea lions are different to seals in that they have ears and they can use their back flippers to walk which a seal can't do. They are very common all over the islands and we saw them at most of the places we went to. They don't care where they sunbath so they are often found on the backs of boats or in a dinghy.The blue footed booby is another very special bird unique to the Galapagos. They look quite comical with bright blue feet but of course those blue feet have a purpose. A bit like the peacock and its spreading tail the blue feet of the Booby are used to attract a mate. The bluer the feet the more healthy the bird and therefore the more likely to attract a mate. The colour of its feet comes from the food they eat just like the pink flamingos we saw which get their colour from the pink shrimps they eat.

7 Mar 2007 Las Perlas to Academy Bay Galapagos 880nm

We had light winds to begin with and then for the rest of the passage we had very little winds and motored for many days. On the 9 March I noticed that the revs were limited to 2000 and changed the fuel filter. When I restarted the engine the starter battery exploded. It was quite dramatic and of course happened at night. We removed the battery and dumped it and cleaned out all the acid from the battery box. I wired the starter to the service battery and we continued on our way.  That same night we had a lot of lightning around us and at one point we had to make a big diversion to the west to avoid 3 large cells that had developed on our track and only about 4 miles away.  We celebrated my first crossing of the equator on the evening of the 12 March with champagne and smoked oysters and anchored in Academy Bay at 0800 hours

13 March.5 Mar 2007 Contadora to Isla San Jose 23nm

Another lovely sail between the islands. We discovered on arrival that the downhaul and up haul brackets on the spinnaker pole had become detached. The area around the rivets holding them had become corroded. I put in oversize rivets which seemed to work (see Pacific crossing)

4 Mar 2007 La Playita, Panama to Contadora, Las Perlas 38nm

So good to be sailing again and we had a good reach using the big genoa, the seas were flat so we went very well even when the wind died. I lost Nicolette's beloved rubber bucket overboard but fortunately she was able to dive for it and retrieve it.

16 Feb 2007 Transit of the Panama Canal 33nms

After picking up our friends Martin, Ian and Murray who were to act a line handlers we had the pilot come aboard then rafted with 2 other yachts Melis and Amazing Grace. We were on the starboard side. The transit through the first 3 rising locks went without incident. The locks are over 1000ft long and not designed for small boats so the potential for accidents is very real. Line handlers on the lock side take in our big lines and secure them to bollards. The line handlers on the boats then take up the slack as the water rushes in. With a nest of 3 boats we only had the 2 starboard lines to look after. We spent the night on the lake moored to a big buoy and the pilot came aboard about 6.30am the next morning. Then it was a motor for 28nms across the lake to the down locks. This time one of the yachts tied to a passenger ferry and we tied to them whilst we were in the locks. It was quite a moment when the last lock opened and we entered the Pacific Ocean.  We anchored at Playita about 6 miles from the canal and from there went into Panama City a number of times. We enjoyed an evening at the carnival although we missed the procession and went to see a number of films. Panama City is very modern and the opposite of Colon, being clean and safe. I installed an in hull transducer for the depth sounder and bought a new navigational computer 13 Feb 2007 Colon.

As I write this update we are only 3 days from our transit through the Panama Canal. We have been busy making sure the boat is ship shape. Checking nav lights and an engine service together with a massive stocking of provisions. Colon is not a nice town, it's very run down and walking around town is not recommended. It bears no comparison with Panama City which is very modern and clean. After our transit with Linger Longer we stayed overnight in Panama City and were able to go to the chandlers, buy a small DVD player and go to the cinema.

31 Jan 2006 Isla Lintone to Colon (Panama)           25nms

A lazy 0900 departure with heavy rain and low cloud. We had to motor for a while whilst I unjammed the main halliard which had caught round the mast steps. Then a broad reach to the breakwater outside of Colon. We anchored on the flats (as the anchorage is called) but when we dinghied into the marina we were met by Willi and Gloria who had an outside slip. After negotiating with the dock master we tied up alongside Linger Longer and when they left 3 days later we took their slip.  Very good because the holding on the flats is notoriously bad and a few days later a number of boats dragged with only moderate winds. We transited with Linger Longer acting as line handlers which was good fun and was a good experience prior to our own transit.             

29 January 2006 San Blas (Chichime) to Isla Lintone 48nm

We departed about 7.00 am and had a good sail inside some substantial reefs. We had a beam sea which made for some rolling and twisting and with the winds at a good 25kts we kept in the reef in the main. We stayed close to the shore to avoid an adverse current offshore and arrived at Lintone at 1500.  The anchorage is in large open bay and in 11m The San Blas islands              There are 365 coral reef islands in the San Blas some close to the shore and therefore with mud anchorages but many others a few miles offshore with sand anchorages. They have been described as being similar to the best islands in the Pacific. All I can say is that they are spectacularly beautiful. They are what we dream of when we think of a desert island. The islands are only a foot or so above sea level and are fringed with pure white sand with clear blue waters lapping them. Coconut palms are in abundance and occasionally one or more of the Kuna Indians will stop by in there ulus (dugout canoes) offering to sell or barter wonderful big crabs or lobsters or fruit and veg. The ladies come by in their ulus selling Molas which are pieces of embroided cloths about 15 -18 inches square. Except that aren't really embroided. They cut out intricate patterns which show the cloth underneath and which is then invisibly stitched. Other pieces are stitched on top. Have a look at the photos in the picture gallery to get a better idea.          

We spent a month in the San Blas and visited a number of islands including Gertie which had a sizeable village on it. From there we went on a 12mile jungle hike after a 40mimute ulu ride. We had a bar-b-que on the beach with Alianna and enjoyed a wondrous meal ashore of lobster tails and coconut rice.

The only downside of our time in the San Blas was the loss of a yacht called "After You".  I noticed a yacht on a reef about 1.5nm from us on the morning of 11 Jan. The single handed skipper had come from Cartagena and arrived late in the day. Unfortunately he had caught a rope round his engine whilst playing a swordfish and so was without an engine. To compound things he had been told there was an easy anchorage close to the East Hollandes entrance when there is not and certainly not at night. He put down an anchor in 30ft but it was on a shoal and sometime in the night it dragged into 50m and then onto the reef. There was little we could do to help since many other bigger boats and dinghies were on the scene. The yacht was eventually dragged off the reef at about 5pm but sank in less than a minute. The islands are so enchanting that at one stage I considered staying there for some months. However we decided to stick to our plan and reluctantly left the islands on 29 Jan.               

29 December 2006 Cartagena to the San Blas islands 195nm

We left at about 4.30 pm and were soon dealing with winds up to 25kts on a broad reach and a reef in the main. Within hours the wind was touching 35kts and so the main was taken in and the genoa reefed to the point were there was only a handkerchief left up. We were still doing well over 6kts with seas that peaked at about 18ft. Wonderful if somewhat boisterous sailing but we going to reach the San Blas in the dark which is not a good idea. After 24hours the winds abated but we stayed well reefed to reduce sail and eventually hove to arriving at the East Hollandes entrance at about 08.00 hours. We anchored in 5m close to Alianna (with Sim and Rosie) at the Southern end of the East Hollandes cays)Cartagena        

After a few days at anchor we took a slip at  the Club Nauitco marina which was our Christmas treat. The old city of Cartagena has to be one of the most beautiful in the world. Cobbled streets with lovely 17th century buildings all with balconies which are covered in multi coloured bourginvilla. We took a walking tour round the old fort and the old city including a couple of churches and museums. I also arranged a Christmas lights trip in a chiva (wooden bus). 40  of us went on the evening of 22 December. There are big prizes for the best lit street, balcony and house so the lights and decorations were of an extremely high standard. On Christmas day we had a "open boat" for a couple of hours and many of our friends popped  by. For Christmas lunch Nicolette cooked a truly wonderful beef Wellington which followed a prawn dish I'd prepared, Christmas pud and mince pies of course - I think it was our best Christmas since we left the UK. We went to the mud baths which was an experience in itself and managed to see Casino Royale and a poor Swan Lake (one act only) All in all we had a really good time in Cartagena.

30 November 2006 Punta Hermosa to Cartagena 54nm          

No wind for our early morning departure until we reached Zamba Bank after about 4 hours. Then we had a fabulous coastal sail all the way to the entrance of Cartagena. The North entrance was blocked off in the 17th Century to stop the British fleet using it but more recently the submerged wall has been breached making a 4m wide gap for small boats to use, it saves over 2 hours using this entrance. Our first impression of Cartagena were good. The Old City can be seen first as you close the shore and then the high rise buildings on the Bocogrande. After clearing the entrance the harbour opens up and is massive. We headed for the yacht anchorages in the NE area of the harbour and anchored in 3m close to Club Nautico. Since our arrival we've strolled round the old city and it is beautiful with narrow streets and fabulous buildings most of which have flower bedecked balconies. We've also been to the mud baths which was great fun.

29 November 2006 Rodadero to Punta Hermosa 54nm          

Pleased to be away from the relentless partying that went on all night on shore we settled for light airs that eventually died altogether . We'd made a 0445 departure to ensure we crossed the manzanilla river entrance before lunch but it was a non event with calm seas and no wind. We arrived at 1330 and anchored in a wide shallow bay that was well protected from all but the SW. Helen Louise were with us whilst the rest of the flotilla had elected to stay at Rodadero

28 November 2006 Bahia Guajraca to Rodadero 17nm          

I put the main up for this short sail and got caught by a v very strong gust as we cleared the bay. We were laid over to about 80 degrees before I could release the main and in doing so I managed to sustain rope burns to my hands. We then took the main down and used the Genoa  to  motorsail the remaining distance. We anchored in 4m off the tourist beach and were immediately visited by a number of pedalllos.         

24 November 2006 Mojes del Sur to   Bahia Guajraca (Columbia) GMT - 5 hours in Columbia 198nm

We were wing and wing until  Punta Gallinas after an overnight sail passing Gallinas at 0800 . Most of the other yachts anchored there whilst we elected to take advantage of the good winds and continues to 5 bays. However we had very strong adverse currents  but the boat was sailing very well. A big wind shift at 2330 hours was followed by no wind at all so we had to motor for the lat 12 hours into 5 bays at 0930 26 Nov. On the way we caught an 8 lb Dora do which we shared with Clarabella when she arrived some hours later. The SV Arhia was in distress some 27nm from our anchorage with a broken rudder and injured skipper. The Columbian coastguard sent out a rescue vessel with a doctor on board. 5 bays was a lovely and very secure anchorage except for the strong gust of winds coming off the surrounding steep sided hills.

21 November Aruba to Monjes del Sur (Venezueala) 56nm

We averaged 6.5 kts in winds up to 25kts on a broad reach - my log says "a cracking good sail". Mojes del Sur is unique. It is 2 very small rock islands 150ft apart lying 35nm offshore. The top of one of rocks has been removed to create a dam between  the 2. The dam is about 15ft and behind it (west of it) there is a rope strung from one island to the other to which visiting yachts tie up. We had set off before the other yachts so we were on hand to help them tie up. It was quite a sight to see 6 yachts tied to a single rope 150ft long sheltered behind a 15ft dam 35nm offshore. We did encounter a large swell for some of time which was caused by a big low that caused strong gales further West.

20 November 2006  Aruba to Airport anchorage Aruba          10nm

We made 7.5kts with the main alone and a very strong current. Winds were up to 30kts in the anchorage. Now a small flotilla of 6 yachts (Helen Louise, Clarabella, Wild Orchid, Decoursey Spirit, Mystic Adventure)

19 November 2006 Curacao to Aruba 46nm

We left early in the morning in a rain squall but thereafter we had clear skies and slightly stronger winds. Nevertheless it was great sailing  averaging well over 5kts. We anchored at the East end of the island close to a massive oil refinery. The anchorage was rolly. % other yachts arrived within 20 minutes of us.

18 November Spanish Waters to Santa Cruz (Curacao)            27nm

6 hours of lovely downwind and reaching we anchored in 4 in a delightful bay with a nice sandy beach.

12 November Bonaire to Curacao            (Spanish Waters) 38nm

Light winds but lovely downwind sailing  8hours to cover the distance. Anchored  near  Sol to pick up their wi-fi service. Did some shopping to top up on stores.

5 November 2006 Solavento (the Aves) to Bonaire 43nm

An 8 hour downwind sail averaging over 5kts with 12-15kts of wind, we have had some of best sailing in the past week. Caught and lost 4 fish  (can't work out why I keep losing them) Out for dinner twice whilst here and a trip to the cinema. Took the dinghy over to Klein Bonaire where Nicolette snorkelled. I had a cut finger so didn't venture into the water.

3 November 2006 Barloventao to Sotavento            19nm

With continued good winds we had another peaceful sail. 4 hours to the anchorage at Palmeres

2 November 2006 Caya de Agua to Aves de Barlovento 32nm

Yet another lovely sail with  15kts of wind, the genny poled out. A seven hour sail saw us anchored in the middle anchorage. Last year we arrived here in a squall and had difficulty seeing the reefs but with clear skies this time they were extremely visible.

1 November 2006 Carenero to Caya de Agua 9nm

Another delightful sail in 12kts of wind. Anchored in the southern anchorage but as last year this caya is overrated and not very comfortable. Caught another booby which managed to get free and fly off without any intervention.

30 October 2006 Los Roques to Carenero 12nm

A downwind run with 15 - 20kts  using the genny only and making 4.5kts. It was a lovely peaceful sail. Then we encountered a squall just as we were passing Carenero so anchored in a very secure bay. We had been here the previous and were inundated with flies but this year it was a delight. Large shoal of small fish were being hunted down by a shoal of bigger fish and as the massacre moved along the edge of the mangrove the pelican would fly ahead of it , settle in the water and wait for the shoal to come to them - bills open in the water, then fly ahead again and repeat the process.

27 October 2006 Tortuga to Los Roques 103nm

We left at 1500 with good winds and close reaching. Somewhat surprised that we had a strong adverse current. We sailed the outside route and anchored  atFrancisquis a few miles from grand roque. With no wind we motored for the last 4 hours and arrived at 11.30. A very secure anchorage 

25 October 2006 Puerto la Cruz to Tortuga 65nm

Whilst in Puerto la Cruz we obtained a very large second hand light weight Genoa and had covers made for the dinghy. We had also had some repairs done to the main and a new UV strip for the Genoa. It was an uncomfortable sail to Cayo Herradura sailing close hauled with 20kts of wind.  During the night I had a problem with the furlex which turned out to my fault. I had anticipated light winds and put on the new Genoa but hadn't put enough extra turns on the furlex so in taking it I broke the furling line and managed to damage a stanchion and part of the furlex. We enjoyed the peace and quiet of the Cayo after the close confines of the marina in PLC.

13 September -13 October  2006   Trip to Peru and Bolivia

After securing the boat and leaving keys with friends we got away at 1030. It was a long trip spent mainly sitting around in Caracas airport and we finally got to Lima at 02.10. There was a taxi waiting for us to take us to the Hostal Espana. After a good sleep (despite the noise - the Espana is a very noisy place) We set off  to see the Catacombs under the convent and which spread for miles under Lima and the changing of the guard at the palace. The marching  is very much like you'd see in  toy town  and although the spectacle lasted over an hour the guards were never actually changed!! A tour of the first of many Cathedrals and then our first lunch. I hope not to bore you with details of all we ate but the food was very good and there were some significant highlights. Anyway our first meal which cost £2.20 for the 2 of us consisted of a cerviche, steak and soup and a drink. 

The Jesuits were a  vicious lot as we discovered when we went to the museum of the inquisition. It needed a very perverse imagination to come up with all the forms of torture they devised. The day was rounded off with a couple of pisco sours and pizzas. We had been advised to go to the National museum  before seeing Machu Picchu and it was well worthwhile. Our guide talked us through the Peruvian culture from 600bc to the Spanish conquest.  The Inca period actually lasted only a very short time but had a massive impact on the country.  After another excellent lunch (fish, soup and pork chops) we went to see the basilica of Rosa of Lima. She's the first saint of Peru but had some strange ways. She was heavily into flagellation and would hang  by her hair so that she could stay awake all night to pray. She made herself a cell to live in and wore barbed wire vests. Nevertheless she was revered in her time and statutes of her are found all over the country. We ended the day with a trip to the church of Saint Dominica. 

We had a great evening after finding some open bars and live music and lots of locals enjoying themselves. Lots of street food including boiled potatoes and chicken gizzards (40p) and delicious pork sandwiches.16 September saw us on our flight to Cusco and accommodation at San Blas II (our most expensive hotel). We ate virtually next door on fresh trout and then watched a film. Quite a few bars set aside a room for watching DVDs. Next day I wandered round the Plaza d'Armes whilst Nicolette dosed herself with Sorochi pills to counter the effects of altitude sickness. We had both  been drinking lots of Mate Coca made from coca leaves ( from which cocaine is also made) but poor Nicolette had succumbed.  There was a massive procession at the  square which seems to involve the whole town and later I discovered it happens every week. What patriotism!.

Next day we took a tour of the city, another cathedral and another church and then to some very interesting Inca sites, Saksaywaman is spectacular and here the Incas used very large rocks, some 150tons, which were shaped and finished so they fitted together perfectly. Next the water temple at Tambo Machay and then to Qenko and its sacrificial altar. The Incas only sacrificed humans on very special occasions, normally it was the llama or alpaca that suffered.

Then to the Sacred valley going first through Pisac primarily so that we could see the market there - we didn't buy anything except a couple of delicious empanadas! Urumbamba for a buffet lunch then to Ollantaytambo which was a very significant Inca fortress and is still a spectacular sight.  Next Qenko another Inca site and then to Chinchero which is a village that has lots of Inca remains. The highly decorated church is built on an Inca base and the main square is unchanged from the time of Inca. Tried Alpaca in the evening - not much different from steak.             Now the 20th September and time for an early morning (05.40) departure and our train journey to Agua Calliente and Machu Picchu. The train journey was wonderful with fabulous views as we meandered up the valley and the sides got steeper and closer so by the time we got there it seemed more like a canyon than a valley. Took a room at Don Guillers (not up to much but only £8.00 a night) and then off to the hot springs to relax.. Up at 5.30 to catch the first bus to Machu Picchu.


It's difficult to describe our feelings when we first saw the whole site. The location of course is special  being as it is some 2,400 m high and perched on top of a steep sided mountain, The size of the area covered by the buildings is more than I expected and the surrounding views are fantastic with mountain peaks all around.  We hired a guide as part of a group and spent the next 2 hours being immersed in Inca culture. Most of what we heard is intelligent supposition because the Incas had no written language. It's incredible to think the Machu Picchu was only completed in 1450 but by 1500 it had been abandoned. Of course no one knows why, perhaps a neighbouring war, drought or  starvation. There weren't many body remains so it's unlikely to have been a plague. Who knows? After the tour we wondered around freely marvelling at the wonderful stone work;. The site is in pristine condition primarily because it was not discovered by the Spanish who would have destroyed it in their search for gold. Only the roofs are missing because they were constructed of wood and thatch and were designed to be recovered ever 5 years. The Incas were great astrologers and most of the sites are built at places with significant astrological interest. For example Machu Picchu has a sort of sundial which shows the position of the sun on 21 June but also the sun is seen to rise directly from behind one of other of the surrounding mountains at specific equinoxes. We marvelled at the intricate stone work and the sloping doorways and windows which were designed to be earthquake proof ( and they are). We sat and soaked up the incredible feeling of just being there. Many say that they feel a spiritual presence  but I thought it was just awesome. After lunch we walked up to the Sun gate which gave us an incredible view of the whole of Machu Picchu from above

The next day I set off early again with the intention of climbing Wayna Picchu  which towers over Machu Picchu. I made the top by 7.30 after a gruelling 31 minute climb. I thought I was alone up there and revelled in the silence and majesty of it all when a Swedish guy popped up having arrived 2 minutes before me. The top of Wayna Picchu is a mass of large rocks one of which is flat and reputed to be a sacrificial stone. We sat in  waited for the clouds to clear but more than that just revelled in our being there. After 40minutes or so a group of French arrived and the silence was gone forever. Then the clouds began to clear and we got our first fleeting glimpses of Machu Picchu from our wonderful vantage point. Within half an hour the clouds had gone completely and we could see every detail of the site. The memories of what I saw in those minutes will be cherished and with me forever. After about 900 minutes I set off to find the temple of the moon which is on the backside of Wayna Picchu and about 400m down.  I discovered an almost unused route which a local guide was taking with a private group of 2 so I followed them for an hour down a near vertical  track which came out directly above the temple. It's a very special place and the stone work is even finer than that at Machu Picchu but it was not as spectacular as MP. The climb up  Wayna Picchu was a doddle compared with the way back form the temple. I had to climb back up to a point about 200m from the top of WP and traverse the side of it. Near vertical steps had been cut into the rock face and the trail went up and down as I made our way round. It took over and hour but some of the views were unbelievable. Safely back at MP I found a quiet spot and lay down to rest.  I spent another couple of hours taking in Machu Picchu and then returned to Agua Calliente and a wonderful soak in the hot springs. 

We had a nice meal in the evening  and a good night's sleep. A leisurely walk around the town the next day including a walk down the railway tracks and then back on the train to Cusco.      Back in Cusco and a special meal that evening when I had cuy which is guinea pig. It's a Peruvian speciality and has been eaten for 100s of years. In fact most of the paintings in Peru of the last supper feature a guinea pig as the main dish. It came without the hair ( naturally) but with a full set of teeth and claws. Tasted unlike anything else but with the texture of rabbit. The next day we took a wooden bus for a tour of the city. A quaint experience which we both thoroughly enjoyed. Also had Peruvian wine that evening had decided not to have it again

It's now the 26th September and we are off on the Inca Express to Puno. This is a luxury coach with a tour guide. Rather than driving directly to Puno we stopped  at various interesting sites and places and made it a very enjoyable day. We saw yet another church at Andahuaydillas and pre Inca ruins at Raqchi. After checking in at the Hotel Europa we wandered round the town and enjoyed a pisco drink with hot cinnamon and clove tea.

The next day we went to see the Floating Islands of Uros. They take about 4 months to construct and are made of the matted roots of the reeds covered with layer upon layer of reeds. They do float but are generally anchored to the lake bed in about 2m of water. The largest one is permanently inhabited and doesn't float anymore.  Of more interest were the reed boats which were the inspiration  for Thor Heyerdahl who constructed a reed raft and sailed it across the Pacific to prove that the Pacific islands were first discovered and inhabited by the South Americans. He succeeded but 30 years later  DNA tests proved he was wrong.                After a lunch which included a nice steak we took the bus to Copacabana. Lovely lodgings at the Hotel Utuma  (£12.00 a night) very good breakfast and  mate coca and fruit in the atrium for free. It's a lovely town and we enjoyed walking round it and down to the shores of  the lake. The next day we took a boat to the Isla del Sol. More Inca ruins and a very suspect sacrificial altar but then a fabulous 8km walk along the ridge of the island. The lake surrounded us and we were able to see just how large it is. At least we could see the lake to the horizon.  The walk took us through eucalyptus groves and across lots of terraces all under cultivation and finally down a 1000 steps (Inca ) to the little harbour where we were to be picked up.

The Orilla restaurant was our venue for the evening and we enjoyed stewed beef and pepper steak. Copacabana has a strange custom whereby  cars, buses and lorries are parked outside the church and decorated. They are then blessed by the priest. It is all taken very seriously and we were lucky enough to see the blessings take place. In addition there were multiple wedding ceremonies going on so the square outside the church was packed.  30 September now so an afternoon  bus to the highest city in the world La Paz which  is about 3,800m above sea level. (12,500ft) At one stage we had to leave the bus and take a motor boat across lake Titicaca whilst the bus went across on a flat topped ferry. The Hotel Milton was OK but had clearly seen better days. An open topped double decker bus with  headsets and commentary in 7 languages took us round the city. We were advised not to stand up and rightly so since jumbo sized power cables regularly brushed the top of the bus and decapitation  was a distinct possibility for anyone disregarding the advice. 

We went to see the Moon Valley which is an area of La Paz where the rocks have eroded  and created a bleak and strange landscape. We enjoyed a visit to the coca museum which gave a very detailed explanation of the status and value of coca to the Bolivians. They have been chewing the leaves for 1000s of years and with no ill effects. Now that the Western world is awash with a derivative - cocaine it's been decided to eradicate the coca plantations. The US are the driving force but as ever their attempts have little effect and now that Morales is President of Bolivia things might change - he used to be the president of the coca growers association!!! Little else to report on La Paz, we could have gone to see more exciting pre Inca ruins but didn't feel up to  another long bus journey. We did however, buy a 2.5lb pot of honey for a few pence!! We also had our best lunchtime meal at the Naira. Brilliant vegetable soup and then chateaubriand with roast potatoes all for £1.00 each.

Next stop Arequipa which has a lovely main square - probably the prettiest in Peru. Seeing the mummy of Juanita was very moving. She was sacrificed as a 14 year old child by the Incas after she had walked (the Incas never discovered the wheel and llamas can only carry 30kilos from Cusco and then taken to the top of  the Ampato Volcano. She was discovered in 1995 after a nearby volcano had erupted and melted all the ice on Ampato. Juanito had actually fallen out of her grave and rolled into the dormant crater of Ampato. If she had not been found straight away (above 20,000 ft) then her mummified body would have melted and been destroyed. As it is Johan Reinhard got her down the mountain and into a freezer before any damage was done. The artefacts found around her are amazing. One poncho was on display and looked as though it were woven the day before. It's of the finest weave in brilliant blue and intricate designs. Juanita is one of a total of 14 mummies that have since been  found including 2 more that were on Ampato. The Incas probably sacrificed her after an  earlier eruption of the volcano next to Ampato in an effort to appease the gods. Juanita is unique in so far as all her internal organs are intact. We were also very lucky to see her since she is taken away for 6 months of each year for research purposes.

The next day we set off for Colca Canyon  which is the second deepest canyon in the world, the deepest also being in Peru but not accessible. We were lucky enough to see one condor but at some distance away. However the bus journey was a treat in itself and offered us tremendous views of the ice capped mountains, herd of vicuna, llama and alpaca and stopping at the top of a pass on the alto plano at an elevation of 4800m which is nearly 16,000. We enjoyed the hot springs in Chivay and had a jolly night out as part of a small tour group. Back in Arequipa we found a roof top bar on the 4tth floor overlooking the Plaza d Armes .      

Next day another cathedral and the Santa Catolina convent in the afternoon. Nothing like any convent we've seen before. The nuns each had their own house complete with kitchen. They had at least one servant (assistant) to wait on them and lacked for nothing except men and the freedom to leave. Most of them were put there by their wealthy parents. There are streets and courtyards and cloisters. What was effectively a swimming pool and large outside laundry are still there to see. In fact the whole site is in excellent condition since it was summarily closed up in the 1870s after Vatican 1 put  a stop to the freedoms the nuns enjoyed and instituted community living and vows of poverty. 

The next day (7 Oct) we had a leisurely walk round the central market and enjoyed fresh orange and pina juice  then an afternoon bus trip with CIAL (the second best of the 3 bus companies) to Nasca arriving at 2am. An afternoon visit to the Necropolis at Chauchilla was well worthwhile. It covers  a massive area and was used by all the Peruvian cultures up to and including the Incas. Unfortunately grave robbers have destroyed many of the graves and the whole area is strewn with human bones and broken pottery. However, some graves have been uncovered and we were able to see the foetally placed mummies and their artefacts. We also went to a small gold processing plant. Literally a backyard operation with women and children standing on large smooth rocks which are in troughs containing the spoil and mercury and water . The women and others move from side to side and on the rock which crush the spoil. The gold mines have mainly been closed but the government allows these small scale operations to operate tax free. Another  big day with a flight over the Nasca lines and we weren't disappointed. Fortunately our pilot was a bit mad and was happy to put the Cessna centurion on its wing tips so we got fabulous views of the many features. There were far more trapezoids then we had imagined and some of the animal s were incredible especially the spider and the hummingbird. No one knows the reason for the lines but it's generally supposed that they were made to please the gods and end a long period of drought. The flight only lasted about 40minutes which for the couple behind us was quite enough. I thoroughly enjoyed the flight and admired the pilot's skill - the stall warning was going for much of the time but I never felt he pushed it too far. One notable thing about Nasca and the area around it is that it is desert. In fact we drove hundreds of miles across the desert. The valleys however are fertile being fed by underwater rivers coming from the mountains. We also saw the world's highest sand dune, Sierra Blanca, at 2,300m.

In the afternoon we took a Cruz del Sol  (the best company) back to Lima. Unfortunately I had picked up a tummy bug which restricted our travel plans but we partially solved that  by going to the cinema for an afternoon.  We spent the first night at the Espana but it was so noisy that we moved 100m to the San Francisco which was very quiet. We enjoyed a  trip to Miraflores which is a suburb of Lima and were pleased we hadn't taken a hotel there since it's all very modern with lots of shops and malls. 

Without knowing much about it we went to see the Huaca Pucllana and that turned out to be a real treat. It's effectively a massive pyramid built from adobe bricks. Originally it  covered 100s of hectares and is still 85 hectares. It was built on many levels in about 200bc and was in the shape of an enormous frog. It has a hollow core running through and this may have been a way of communicating with  the rain  gods.  We saw whole walls 2200 years old made from adobe and interestingly they were built in a similar fashion to the inward sloping windows of the Incas ( to withstand earthquakes) Sadly it was soon time to leave Peru; we had an uneventful return journey and we were back on the boat at 8pm. All in all it had been a memorable trip and one which we won't forget. We saw so much that it will take some time to digest and fully appreciate what we saw. The people we met were without exception kind and helpful and only served to enforce our view that both Peru and Bolivia are wonderful countries to visit.         

1 September 2006 Cubagua to Peurto La Cruz, Venezueala 48nm

Very light airs so we had to motor most of the way. We arrived about 1400hrs and initially had a bad mooring near the fuel dock. Moved later to a good mooring on the Eastern floating dock. Organised new covers for the dinghy, new UV strip for the Genoa and  maintenance of the main. Also bought a big light airs Genoa second hand for night time use in the Pacific in light airs.

28th August 2006 Polomar to Cubagua 22nm

I tried out the hydrovane autopilot on this leg and it worked well provided we didn't have too much weather helm. I'll need to put a reef in the main if we are to use it in winds over 15kts. Had a lovely sail with wind abaft the beam and arriving at 1330. We stayed for 3 days enjoying the peace of the island and bay.

27th August 2006 Testigos to Margarita50nm

Had a lovely sail in light airs. We caught another Booby but this time it had snagged the line so we were able to release it unharmed. We anchored in4m at 1630hrs

26 August 2006 Chagaramus to Testigos 98nm

We departed at 1500 hrs and had to motor for a while  but eventually t put up the sails with 10kts of wind and a good favourable current. We anchored in Balandra bay at 0800.                                             

26th June 2006 Grenada to Trinidad   86nm 

The wind was stronger than forecast to begin with at over 26kts and strong adverse currents which had us down to 1.4kts over the ground at times. I stayed on watch all night because there was so much traffic, not least the 14 or so other yachts that were around us. We arrived at Crews Inn at 0930 and hauled out at Peakes on 4th July. We left for the UK on 7th July  and returned on 12 August. The boat was back in the water with new antifouling on 15th August and we slipped at Coral Cove until 26th August. I completed the installation of the autopilot for the hydrovane and replaced the bowsprit planks and put some wooden protection bars on the dinghy. Nicolette in the meantime did a thorough clean including all the exterior teak and made new rope bags.

21st June 2006 Carriacou to Grenada 32nm

One of the best sails this year with 18kts off the port beam. The seas were  a bit rough but Katanne romped through them and with her now very heavy displacement we had a comfortable rune. There were about a dozen yachts on the same route and only the very large ones were going significantly faster than us. Monohulls of 40ft arrived less than an hour ahead of us and the catamarans  with a perfect wind for them were being held up by the seas. We anchored in the lagoon and were pleased to see that Island Water World have set up a free wi-fi  for the yachts.

15th June 2006 Tobago Cays to Union Island and Carriacou 14nm

The tropical waves were imminent ( in the event thet turned out to be very weak and passed north of the Cays) so we checked at Union Island and sailed on to Cariacou. We had a pleasant night out at the Lambi Queen. Chicken and Fish whilst listening to a e drum quintet. I lost my glasses overboard whilst securing the dinghy is strong winds but fortunately Nicolette found them the next day. She also saw a massive spotted  eagle ray which had no tail .

14th June 2006 Saline Bay to Tobago Cays 2nm

A final attempt to get some good snorkelling. We knew there were more tropical waves due but hoped they would take longer than forecast.

12th June 2006 Tobago Cays to Saline Bay 2nm

At this time of year we get a lot of tropical waves coming over from Africa, some of which will become hurricanes. A particularly strong wave was forecast and the cays were  going to be too windy for snorkelling ( and lots of rain and thunderstorms forecast too) so we went back to saline bay to sit is out. It turned out as forecast with 27hours of rain occasional thunderstorms and strong squally winds

10th June 2006 Saline Bay to Tobago Cays 2nm

The wind finally eased up so we went back to the Cays to try for some more snorkelling. Sapristi with a shallower darft asked us to joing them in a short trip to Petit Tabac. A deserted island which featured in the Pirates of the Caribbean. It was a lovely day out and particularly so s since it will be many years before we see them again (they are sailing to Europe next year)

5th June 2006 Tobago Cays to Saline Bay (Mayreaux) 2nm

The wind had made the Cays unpleasant so we went for shelter in Saline bay which has a lovely long beach. With no fresh provisions Nicolette is excelling with what we have on board. Chelsea buns for example and a fabulous steak and mushroom pie for dinner ( the paella we had in the Cays was made from tinned shell fish). Sapristi came round to saline so we got together and had a wonderful beach bar-b-que using driftwood.

4th June 2006 Mayreaux to Tobago Cays 3nm

A short run with just the Genoa flying.  Sapristi came over for a paella.  It was hard work snorkelling with strong winds and a choppy sea

1st June 2006 Bequia to Mayreaux 23nm

A good sail at last even through the 25kt squalls we had on the way. The anchorage  at Saltwhistle Bay was very busy but we enjoyed a walk into the village. Chris had caught a nice tuna on his trip over which they asked us to share with them on Sapristi.

26th May 2006 St Lucia to Bequia 53nm

A mix of sailing and motorsailing  for the 9hour trip.  Cribbage and chilli  on board with Chris and Trish of Sapristi and  a trip to St Vincent  were both fun. The holding off St Margaret's beach  was not good and when we after a particular strong squall we realised we had dragged. We weren't alone though and a number of other boats spent time as we did trying to get a good set.  We also entertained Fred and Nina of MI Nina who we had first met in St Kitts

22nd May 2006 The Bat Caves to Pitons 1nm

We looked first at Malgretoux but it like the bat caves had become very rolly so we anchored between the pitons and enjoyed first calls snorkelling off the jalousie beach.  Together with Sapristi we went to see the sulphur beds in the crater of a defunct volcano and then on to some botanical gardens.

20th May 2006 Anse le Ray to The Bat Caves 6nm

No wind and heavy rain overnight but the snorkelling at the bat caves was excellent

19th May 2006 Rodney bay to Anse le Raye 13nm

Another pleasant sail in light airs. We had tried to anchor in Anse le Rey last year but the weather was too bad to go ashore for the traditional Friday night fish festival. This year the anchorage was fine and we had no trouble getting ashore and having a very good evening together with Stephan and Lona off Cat Coquette who turned up a couple of hours after we arrived. The fish festival together with a steel band was excellent and well worthwhile.

18th May 2006 Martinique to St Lucia 24nm

One of the few occasions we put in a reef but it made for a lovely reaching sail in 25kts. We took on fuel and water at the marina them anchored just outside it.

15th May 2006 Grand Anse to Le Marin and St Anne 16nm

We checked in at Le Marinand were able to buy a new rod and reel. Whilst at anchor we were hit by a tri-maran called Trixolar who had lost his drive just after lifting his anchor. He hit the hydrovane and dented the stainless steel rod case.  Lovely prawns pil pil for dinner and canasta on board Sapristi later made up for the earlier mishap.                  

14th May 2006 Anse a la Anne to Grand  Anse d'arlett 11nm

Sailed and motorsailed in light airs

13th May 2006 Dominica to Martinique 50nm

We only managed a couple of hours sailing he rest was a motor sail. Anchored in Anse a la Anne. We had planned to stop at St Pierre but it was obvious as we approached it that it was very rolly. La Anne was very nice except for the ferries which run until 1830hours and create a lot of roll. So much so that we lost the fishing rod overboard when we leaving as a result of the excessive roll created by the ferry.

12th May 2006 Portsmouth to Roseau 20nm

Sailed most of the way until the wind died.  We took a mooring off the Anchorage hotel. Nothing wrong with my eyes just too much wind and sun so wrap round sunglasses recommended.

10th May 2006 Le Bourg to Dominica 20nm

A good sail all the way  - as it should be!. Anchored off Portsmouth and the following day we took the bus to Roseau to arrange an appointment with the ophthalmologist ( I had sore eyes)

9th May 2006 Isla Cabrit to Le Bourg 1nm

Only a ten  minute run  but whilst there we went to see Fort Josephine

8th May 2006 Deshaies to Isla Cabrit - The Saints 35nm

The trades had left us and we were still stuck with light southerlies so a sad motor to Cabrit.

4th  May 2006 Antigua to Gualelope 42nm

We left with S to SW winds after waiting a week for fair winds. In the event it was another weeks before the trades returned.  We anchored in Deshaies  which was as rolly as had been in Antigua.  Both Sapristi and Cat Coquette (our convoy in Cuba) arrived a  day or so later. We celebrated my  60th birthday with a nice lunch at the Moillage and later enjoyed champagne with Chria and Trish on Katanne

14th April 2006 Jolly Harbour  and around Antigua 54nm

We motored down to Falmouth and anchored off Pigeon Beach. The next day we went to Nonsuch bay and anchored close to the reef after a goods days snorkelling we went the next day back to  Falmouth to be there in time for the Classics week.  The hat club party ( mount gay rum hats) was marred by the loss of Nicolette's purse which was stolen whilst she queued for her hat. It had been taken by another yachtie since they were the only ones there. It was eventually found and only the money and one credit card had been taken. We too the dinghy out to the start line for the 2 days of racing and it was spectacular. J class boats down to a restored 6metre were all there. Classic schooners and English trawlers were racing against modern schooners built to the original design. The variety of boats milling at the start ( five start tines) was a wonderful sight and probably unique to the Antigua classics. We went out for a meal or 2 and enjoyed the free hospitality provide by Mount Gay Rum. After the reaces we went to Ricketts bay ( next to Nonsuch) to get some peace and quiet. Then to English Harbour where our friends disembarked.  Westayed on for the mount gay hat party for the race week proper and then planned to leave for Guadelope. Unfortunately the weather turned quite nasty and we were stuck there for some days.  

10th April 2006 St Kitts to Antigua 48nm

Back on a run to the east so the iron spinnaker was used in 20kts of true wind and seas to match.  We made for Jolly Harbour marina where we were to meet our friends Dai and Jenny who had flown  over from the UK on the 12th to spend a couple of weeks with us.

8th April 2006 Statia to St Kitts 23nm

With 2kts of wind to start the day we  were on a close reach and later close hauled but had to motor the last hour of the trip. The Nauticat 331 is not built for close haul sailing and will stall if the Genoa is hardened in or attempts to sail closer than 60 degrees true to the wind are made. We had 1 night in the lovely little marina there and then sailed over to Majors bay prior to  setting of for Antigua                                                     

6th April 2006 St Barts to Statia 28nm

A reach in 12kts - it's so good to get the sails up after hundreds of miles of motoring . The anchorage was very rolly and the town seems to have degenerated a little since last year

4th April 2006 to Anse Columbier 2nm

Another light airs sail. This is a lovely anchorage. We found sucker fish in excess of 4ft attached to our keel  and this after seeing smaller sucker fish attached to a big turtle. We've never seen sucker fish of this  size

3rd April 2006 St Maarten to St Barts 17nm

Finally got the sails up with a close haul run in light airs. We took 5 hours but everyone of them was enjoyable.

24th Mar 2006 St Thomas to St Maarten 120nm

Not only did we have the easterly but also an adverse current so the journey took 19hours. We anchored in the lagoon but went into Simpson Bay marina to install the new batteries. The engine was serviced with a new raw water impeller and new injectors. I fitted a PUR40e watermaker which will be used in the Pacific, it makes 6litres an hour and uses only 5amps. I also fitted a charge controller to ensure that the wind generator does not damage the new maintenance free batteries.

22nd Mar 2006 Culebrita to St. Thomas 16nm

Still going East so another motor sail but I did catch a 3lb tunny half of which we had for dinner. We anchored in 5m in Charlotte Amelia which also has a sea plane landing area which was very active. Nothing much special about the island which is very amercican except it's a duty free port and gin was only £1.48 a bottle!!

21st Mar 2006 Culebra to Culebrita 3nm

Only a night stop because of the roll but the did enjoy the very pleasant beach1

9th Mar 2006 Palmas del Mar to Culebra 20nm

No wind so another short motor sail. The West anchorage was very rolly so we went into Ensenda Honda and anchoredbehind the reef. We were then entertained by by the boats returning from the regatta. I caught another 2 baracuda on the crossing.

14th Mar 2006 Palmas del Mar to Puerto del Rey 20nm

We had planned to leave at 0300 but somehow my watch alarm had been set to go off at 0000. Neither of us realised so set sail and only after half an hour realised we'd set off 3 hours early which accounted for the strong winds. This meant we had a night arrival in Puerto del Rey but it's an easy entrance and we soon tied up alongside. We had decided on coming into a marina because we need new batteries and some other work doing. We hired a car to go to old San Juan which is much like Havana but the buildings are in much better shape. We also went to the Bacardi distillery which is much more upbeat than others we have been to.

11th Mar 2006 Salinas to Palmas del Mar 35nm

We had calm seas whilst behind the reef but once clear of the Boca de Inferno (the gap between the reefs into the open sea) things got very uncomfortable. However, we did see a manatee just before Inferno for which this area is famous. We had to stay 3 nights in this anchorage until the winds eased. Palmas del Mar is just a very large complex of apartments with a private marina. We anchored in the harbour.

10th Mar 2006 Ponce to Salinas 20nm

Motored again in light airs ( very lucky to have good weather) Salinas is regarded by some as the nicest anchorage in the Caribbean  but we didn't think so. It's certainly well protected but it is really just a big lagoon surrounded by mangroves and the water is very cloudy.

9th Mar 2006 La Parguera toPonce 26nm

The Ponce stop was made in order to get fuel and water. It was an easy trip against the wind in light airs. The anchorage was just outside the marina close to the fuel dock and not particularly attractive.

3rd Mar 2006 Dominican Repuplic to La Parguera Puerto Rico 250nm

We decided not to check in in the DR and with very light head winds and a calm sea to make direct for Puerto Rico. We arrived at 1000 on 5 Mar having left at 1630 0n 3 Mar. The highlight of the trip was catching a 20lb Kingfish which was to provide us with 26 main meals and 14 lunches!! ( this included 4 steaks which gave 8 meals to Sapristi) The fish was cut into 12 steaks and 2 fillets. We joined forces with Sapristi and Cat Coquette, who arrived a day later, to hire a car to take us Marguez where we had to check in. We also visited Boqueron where I had 12 lovely small oysters.

27th Feb 2006 Haiti to Isla de Beata Dominican Republic 140nm

Although the winds were forecast to be good we had to put into Aquinas, a bay on the Haitian mainland after 4 hours of struggling against a strong head wind and rough seas. We left that evening and had a good current with us as we followed the coast. However the next morning the seas got up and the current was adverse which together with 25kt winds on the nose made for a very uncomfortable 5 hours of sailing until we made isla de Beata. The wind instruments packed up and 2 of the teak planks on the bowsprit were smashed. It then took 5 attempts to set the anchor in flat coral with a thin covering of sand.  We had to stay there 3 nights until the wind eased. However, we did get fresh fish when a boy of about 15 swam over to us and offered to spear some fish. He was back 15 minutes later with 7 small red snappers.

21st Feb 2006 Port Antonio to Isle a Vache, Haiti 174nm

The seas when we left were not good, in fact Cat Coquette had left an hour earlier and then returned to leave later. However after 4 hours and clear of the island the seas calmed  and continued to do for most of the trip. A couple of rain squalls and the wind mainly on the nose so the engine was well used. We did manage to sail the last 8 miles into the bay.Isle a Vache is to date the most beautiful anchorage we have visited. Clear blue waters and palm fringed white sands with small houses dotted within. It is also the poorest place we've been to. Within minutes of dropping anchor we were surrounded by dugouts each with 2 or 3 children in them. They wanted copy books and stilos. Nicolette stapled 20 sheets of A4 together to make the books and we had a good supply of pencils. The children also wanted footballs and baseball caps of which we had neither. The older boys wanted to work so we had 2 of them clean and polish the hull of the boat for which we paid them in US$. These 2 boys then gave us a lovely fish as a present. We also received paw paws  from someone else. The little houses nestling in the palm trees are without electricity  but each has a sort of garden of swept packed earth enclosed with a stick fence or conch shells.There is no mechanised transport  but a few horses are around. The fishermen use small  sail driven boats - much like a felucca. Many of the sails are made out of plastic sheeting and the fish they catch were never very large. The lobsters were also small.  Isle a Vache is an Island off the mainland which is not considered safe to visit but  the islanders were so friendly and we felt ourselves ever to be at risk. It was a memorable visit and one we shall never forget.

8th Feb Cuevo to Port Antonio Jamaica 230nm

We had a good sail all the way to Port Antonio arriving at 0700 on 10 Feb. The entrance to the bay was interesting with a very strong southerly set. It is a beautiful anchorage just outside a new Marina which forms part of a new development of parkland an bay-side promenades. The town was safe and the market a joy to visit. Everyone so helpful and eager to offer advice. We had lots of meals out since it was almost as cheap to do so as eat on board. We also had our share of enormous and very tasty ice creams. We went with Sapristi and Cat Coquette by public bus to Kingston where we went to see the Bob Marley museum (which was a disappointment). The bus ride was memorable in that the driver seemed ot have forgotten he had upwards of 30 people in a bus designed for 18 and slung the bus with gay abandon round each bend. We didn't sway much though since we were packed in like sardines!! We also hired a car to take us all to the Ochos Rios but again that was disappointing. The Beauty of Jamaica was in the nature of the people, the lovely fresh food and local meals. We took full advantage of the marina facilities and on occasion had sundowners round the pool.

4th Feb Cayo Breton to  Cayo Cuevo 28nm

We had strong winds and an uncomfortable sea until we go inside the reef when things became much easier. Stefan and Lona off Cat Cuquette where already there and anchored in a sheltered part of a large bay. Sapristi turned up a bit later having bought an enormous Pompano which we they bar b que'd for us all the next day on a the beach. We also had drinks on Cat Cuquette. A visit by more fishermen  bought forth nearly 8lb of the best shrimp I have ever tasted. They were all of a good size but many of them were very large. Too many for us so we invited the others round to share them.. At this point we could continue through the "Garden of the Kings" for another 70nm before exiting the reefs or leave them just south of Cuevo. The remaining islands inside the reefs were mainly mangrove so we opted to leave Cuba for Jamaica. We should have checked out in Manzanillo but decided it was too far a diversion ( some 85miles away)

3rd Feb 2006 Zaza de Fuego to Cayo Breton             25nm

Managed a close reach until the wind died and anchored NW of a fishing station.

2nd Feb 2006 Cayo Macho de Fuego to Zaza de Fuego 18nm

Another small island fringed with mangroves on the North side and white beaches on the South. Unfortunately most of these islands are like this so it wasn't possible to anchor, with the prevailing winds, off the beaches. A lovely protected anchorage where a fisherman came over and invited me to his boat. I took a fifth of rum and did an exchange for 3 lobsters and a fish. This was a wooden boat but we were to see many of the ferro cement boats which are the staple in Cuba

1st Feb 2006Cienfuegos to Cayo Macho de Fuego 51nm

We had to motorsail for the first 4 hours but then had a pleasant close reach to a lovely  cay with a white sand beach and lots of coral.

23rd Jan 2006 Guano del Este to Cienfuegos            49nm

No wind so we motored overnight to this mainland port. The entrance is very interesting being a wide river entranced opening up to an enormous bay. The marina was on the North side of the bay.  On arrival we were told that the marina was closed for repairs but later when we advised the port manager that we were leaving the boat at anchor to go to Havana he relented and the 3 boats at anchor were brought into the marina.I'll let Nicolette give you our impressions of Havana and Ciefuegos


We travelled to Havana in a car with a Chris and Trish from Sapristi.  The journey was marked with many stops and our driver having to explain himself to the security forces and promise to return in a few hours..  We arrived in the old town at midday The Plaza San Antonio was lovely and there is a special statue of the Parisian gentleman who gave all he had away was standing by the church.  We managed to find a " Casa Particulares" after  a little while , a lot of places were full.  These are a bit like a Bed and breakfast and it meant we would be staying with a family.  The apartment was very comfortable and we had a tremendous view of the city.  The breakfast was lovely with wonderful fruit and eggs. We were very   near to the Plaza Vieja with a wonderful bar on the corner held a brewery and sold wonderful beer.  There many other nice bars as well.  We were amazed at the buildings and some of the restoration work is progressing but parts of the city are very derelict.  The Malecon , the promenade , was damaged in the hurricanes of recent months.  We walked for miles.  The Capitol building and the opera house dominate the city.  The Cuban Ballet were performing Don Quixiote for 4 nights only to celebrate the 400 years since it was published.   Amazingly we were able to get fantastic seats for Saturday night for $20.  We later found a statue of Sancho Panza on Rosenante in the Plaza de Armas, where the booksellers have there stalls. 

The ballet was a highlight for us both, the costumes , dancing , music and production the best I have ever seen.We crossed the river by the local bus , a hair raising journey in itself, to go the fort.  They were preparing a display of gun fire.  At 12 noon a 21 gun salute was fired, deafening and a marching of bands and soldier's  to celebrate Jose Marti, a hero of the Cubans who had helped liberate Cuba from the Spaniards.  Apparently Castro was in town as well as us.  We found the china town and the local Sunday vegetable market.  Two economies run in Cuba with 2 currencies.  The tourist peso is 25 of the local pesos.  Castro has tried to get rid of the dollar.  We managed to get some local money in the fruit market and were able to buy some food and vegetables with it.  We took the bus back to Cienfeugos on the Monday, having worn ourselves out.  There is no begging in Havana, but you can see the poverty and everyone wants to sell you a Cuban cigar.  It is strange having a capital city with no neon lights or advertising signs.  No litter or rubbish of any kind.

 I managed to find a small church and attend mass on Sunday morning.  The congregation was small and mostly old, those who would have been teenagers in 1957.  But the man who played the guitar and sang with his 3 children was young, it was all very moving.   The church was like so much else in need of a great deal of work.  The lack of basic materials is frightening.  It's all just decaying around them. The atmosphere is wonderful and we had plenty of time to absorb it.  The bars around the Plazas are filled with musicians playing all sorts of jazz and we found El Floridita where Earnest Hemingway drank Daiquiris's and Mojitos.  Many Cuba libres were had as well. 


The town of Cienfuegos is quiet and peaceful . A few people asked us for soap as we wandered about.  We visited the small museum and saw the theatre.  We could walk down the Malecon to the down or take a horse drawn taxi.  The market held little in the way of produce really but you could get small pizzas, omelettes in a bun or fish in a bun for a couple of local pesos.  The man on the street corner with the Pigs head on his stall, slicing off slivers of meat to put in a bun has a steady stream of purchasers and I must say it was delicious.  The Cubans love ice cream , which can be scare.  They can be seen queuing down the street waiting for the Coppelia restaurant to open.  They only sell ice scream and we found an open air one in Havana, it opened at 11am on Sunday morning and by the time we got there at 11.30 it was packed.

22 Jan 2006 Cayo Largo to Guano del Este 34nm

Continuing eastwards we had more big swells and 25kts of wind head on.However once we got inside the reefs it eased somewhat and continued to do so until we reached our anchorage. It was a windy but safe anchorage with winds up to 30kts. We bought our first lobster for a fifth of rum - thereafter they got cheaper!! I also caught yet another Barracuda which was returned and lost a big fish that never showed.

 18th Jan 2006 Canal Rosario to Cayo Largo            25nm

The wind continued to head us an d it was an uncomfortable run. Cayo Lrgo though has a very god marina which we welcomed. The entry procedures were long and expensive (115$ in all) with all sorts of official coming on board. We had our garlic corms inspected with a microscope and our tins of Venezuealan meat quarantined. So was our bacon but we baulked at having our eggs denied to us and eventually were allowed to use them ( they would have gone off by the time we left Cuban waters). The sniffer dog didn't find anything and the doctor declared us fit. I had to make a list of all the electronics on board and more than once our cupboards and cabins were searched. It was no less than we expected so we took it in good spirit. A beer to buy in the shop was 1$, a beer served to you in the bar was also 1$.                

17th Jan 2006 Cayo Campo to Canal Rosario           25nm

This channel would take us outside the reefs but  to get there we had to go over miles of shallow water. I spent most of the time looking at the depth gauge and often we would have 0.2m under the keel for mile after mile. We managed to sail most of the way. The anchorage was poor  and quite rolly until the wing veered to the North during the night

16th Jan 2005 Nueva Gerona to Cayo Campo           50nm

We were now on the North Coast of the Isle of Youth and made for an over night anchorage to the SE. The waters in this area are very shallow with only one or 2 passes through the reefs.  We made for the canal de la Cruz which had a reported depth of 1.9m minimum but we went aground at the entrance; Sapristi  drawing only 1m  surveyed the channel an d confirmed there was a bar right across the entrance at 1.5m. We therefore had to go back 10nm to Pasa de Quisasol which lengthened our trip by 20nm. The anchorage at Cayo Campo was indifferent.

15th Jan 2006 Ensenda los Barcos to Nueva Gerona 20nm

A simple motor sail in pleasant conditions to a port of entry to Cuba. We were prepared for visits by many and lots of paperwork. We were not prepared to be told that it is no longer a port of entry!!. We weren't allowed to leave the boat but had to pay 10$ to tie up alongside. I was allowed to get some water. The officials were all very understanding but couldn't do anything to help. The port of entry we had to make for was Cayo Largo which, with the prevailing winds and tortuous route would take 3 days.

14th Jan 2006 Puerto Frances to Ensenda los Basrcos  20nm

It was to say the least a rotten trip motoring into 25kt winds with a short steep sea over shallow waters. We could only make 3kts a times and it was uncomfortable. The anchorage was good though and safe but had no other redeeming features so was good only for an overnight stop.

11th Jan 2006 Grand Cayman to Isle of Youth, Cuba170nm

Leaving North Sound was tricky with a big swell coming into the sound through a narrow gap which we had to leave by. The swell was so severe that I was concerned we might bottom out and actually had a depth reading of less than 1m in 6m of water. Thereafter things improved with the wind finally heading us as we approached Puerto Frances. A lovely anchorage with beautiful white sands and no one else there when we arrived. However it was also open to the North winds so we had to leave the next day.

26th Dec 2005 Bonaire to Grand Cayman 845nm

We arrived at Georgetown at 1020aam local time after an uneventful passage. For most of the time we had wind abaft of the beam and a favourable current. We had some squalls and quite a bit of rain and overcast conditions but nothing exceptional.  The first thing we noted about Georgetown were the number of Cruise Ships ( there were 9 there one day). However we had to move to North Sound , a safe anchorage, on 4 Jan because of an expected Northerly wind which makes the Georgetown anchorage untenable. We took the buses into town on occasion together with Chris and Trish of Sapristi who arrived 2 days after us. Georgetown is very much a haunt for the cruise ship passengers. It's not cheap and there's very little to commend it but it's off the beaten track and a good place to stop en route to Cuba.

13th Dec 2005 Bonaire to Curacao 37nm

The second of the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) but the anchorage at Spanish Lagoon was not nearly as good as in Bonaire. We had a lovely braod reaching sail to get there.  The lagoon is big but the waters are not clear although it is safe to swim there. A free bus was laid on by the supermarket each day which happened to be close to the chandlers so we took good advantage of that.  We finally got rid of our last camping gaz cylinder and bought 2 more 10lb aluminium US style cylinders which gives us about 3months supply. We ate out a couple of times including Christmas eve. Christmas day was spent on the beach where we had an impromptu bar-b-que with, amongst others, Willi and Gloria off Linger Longer and Chris and Trish off Sapristi (who were with us in Cuba and all the way to Puerto Rico)

1st  Dec 2005 Aves Sotaventa to Bonaire 48nm

We had to motorsail some of the way but I managed to catch a  nice Jack which did us for 2 meals (fried and curried). The anchorage (moorings are mandatory) is spectacular being right on top of the reef. In fact the reefs seem to extend right round the coast of Bonaire and there are hundreds of dive sites. Nicolette managed to get a couple of dives in and I received my replacement GPS (the 120s' I had were faulty and had been replaced by the 125 under warranty) We were also able to take advantage of the wi-fi there and used skype a lot to call home. I had the biggest steak ever at "Casablanca" and being Argentinian it was excellent (US steaks are tasteless) In fact we brought back more than I could eat and that was enough to provide a meal for the two of us. We hired a scooter specifically to find some out of the way snorkel sites and to go through the National Park. We failed on both counts. Scooters aren't allowed in the park and most of the snorkel sites were only accessible through hotel complexes.

 28th  Nov 2005 Aves Barlovento to Aves de Sotaventa.          18nm

Had a lovely sail in light airs but with flat seas made good time. Our chosen anchorage was no good with lots of swell and near a big mangrove area so we moved to a lovely anchorage off a very small island called Palmeros. It had white sands and a palm with a wide expanse of blue sea behind it. 

26th Nov 2005 Caya de Agua to Aves de Barlovento 32nm

Instead of a barracuda we sadly caught a young booby (a bird) which mistook our lure for food. I was able to extract the hook which had caught in his wing and the last saw of him was flying away then settling on the sea to inspect his wounds. We arrived in heavy rain and had to negotiate a number of reefs to our chosen anchorage - exciting to say the least. I also caught a lovely bar jack fishing from the boat with a spinner which gave us a good meal.

24th Nov 2005 Grand Roque to Caya de Agua 20nm

No wind to help us so a short motor  in clear skies and even clearer waters. We stopped briefly at Isla Cerenero but there were too many bugs around. Caught another barracuda there too which was returned.  We saw lots of rays and turtles in Caya de Agua which is so named because there is fresh water on this very small island

21st Nov 2005 Los Roques to Grand Roque 14nm

A lovely short sail between two reefs but the channel was for the most part amply wide. We anchored off the town and had a meal ashore to celebrate leaving Cape Verde for our Atlantic crossing 1 year ago.

17th Nov 2005 Tortuga to Los Roques 85nm

Another overnight sail but the wind died after 12 hours so we motored sailed the last 5 hours. The arrival was a bit tricky having to go through a reef gap in poor visibility and heavy rain. We anchored in 9.5m and then stayed for 4 days with winds up to 30kts Our anchorage was 14nm south of the town of Grand Roque and for the most part we were the only ones there.

8th Nov 2005 Puerto la Cruz to Tortuga 68nm

After nearly 3 months in Venezuela it was good to get away. We now have a new bimini and new awnings that go from the bowsprit to the mizzen. We also have a "windscreen" which  goes across the boat just forward of the mizzen and offers good protection from spray and wind when we are at anchor. In addition we have sunscreens on all the windows and for the cockpit when needed. We also have a kiss generator mounted on the mizzen so our time in Venezuela was well used. We made for Playa Harradura in Tortuga and had a good  close reach all  the way making over 8kts with a helping current.  We had to stay longer than planned because of a tropical depression in Los Roques  but it was an uneventful and pleasant change from the marina life.

15th and 16th October. Regatta at Puerto La Cruz

We participated in the Regatta on Poco Andante, a 44' Bruce Roberts Mauritius. Two races of about 13nm over 2 days. We finished in the middle of the field which we had expected to do. However, we had a great time and I enjoyed the cut and thrust at the start. I had been asked to helm for both races so the start was particularly enjoyable for me. We lost ground on the upwind legs but gained it downwind and were able to pass a number of boats close enough to deploy our secret weapons - very large water pistols. There was a bar b que by the pool after the first race and there was supposed to be a cocktail party following the prize giving but that didn't happen and the prize giving was marred by a protest argument that threatened to go into the next day. Possible the prizes of $1000.00 were the cause. Hopefully next year they will race for the fun of it and not for the money.

Nicolette has taken control of the keyboard to cover the social events in Puerto La Cruz29th Sept 2005 Bahia Redonda MarinSimon leaves for Margarita after 2 week holiday with us. We had a fabulous time and I will miss him.. 27th Sept 2005 Isla Chimana SegundaWe anchored in the small bay on the island with a red and white lighthouse looking down on us. There are very large iguanas on this island and we had a good chance to snorkel and relax .26th Sept 2005 Isla AraposWe took Katanne out for a sail to one of the islands in Mochima. We were able to swim and snorkel and feel the breeze we were lacking in the marina. 23rd Sept 2005 Bahia Redonda MarinaSimon and I went diving to see the amazing Cathedral caves off the island of Borracha in the bay of P La C. The dive was about 21m only but we came back up in the centre of this rock where light shines in the hole at the top creating a shaft of light at midday.

The corals are special to the area. Called Christmas trees, they look exactly like that with little coloured presents sitting in the branches of the coral. 19th Sept 2005 Angel FallsWith Simon now with us we set out to the south. The National Park at Canaima which holds the wonderful Angel falls is one of the highlights of S. Am. We drove by car to Ciudad Bolivar where we were to stay in a Posada, a local small hotel. It had a small collection of birds and animals and a lovely pool. We visited the town and took the boat up the Orinoco river to go under the Angastoura Bridge. It is the only bridge across the Orinoco and the longest single span bridge in the S. Am. There are a piranhas in the river apparently.The following morning we took a small Cessna 208, five seater to the park. Tom sat next to the pilot ready to take the controls if required. It was an hour flight over a stunning landscape. On arrival at the lagoon at Canaima we set off in a long dugout canoe, going up river to a small waterfall stopping for a picnic. We reached the base camp of the falls themselves after about 4 hours. The clouds were just parting and we could see the full cascade of water, about a kilometre fall. Tom helped erect the hammocks we were to sleep in. We had time to swim in the river. The water colour is golden to dark red because of the tannin in the water. BBQ chicken was cooked for us on sticks over a wood fire and we all slept very well in our new beds.

The following day we climbed up to the pool at the bottom of the falls for some more swimming. It is an incredible site and one we will never forget. More excitement was to follow as Tom was able to sit on the prow of the canoe on the trip back. Shooting the rapids was exhilarating to say the least and Tom said the view from the bow was amazing with nothing in front of him and his toes almost in the water. The landscape is amazing. The flat tepuis or mountains are from the same range as Table Mountain and some of the plants the same as well proving that Africa and S. America were once joined. the next day after swimming in the lagoon and a good sleep we were taken across the lagoon in the canoe, trekked for 20 mins to reach the Golden waterfalls of Salto Sapo and Sapito. We were able to go behind them getting thoroughly drenched. The amazing volume of water cascading on to us was so exciting and we enjoyed this almost more than the falls themselves. We found some wonderful deadly yellow and black frogs and saw an otter on a small island in the river. There are wonderful flowers and butterflies every where but no fruits at all in this type of jungle.

We flew back to Ciudad Bolivar and drove home very weary but so pleased we had had the opportunity to see one of the most outstanding waterfalls in the world. Simon certainly thought it lived up to his expectations. The photos we took are on the web site and hopefully you will get some idea of what it is like. 10th Sept 2005 trip to the OrienteAfter a wonderful bbq on the 9th we set off for a weekend trip to the east. Driving along the coast road of the Mochima National Park to Cumana we stopped to try the local arapas , stuffed corn bread, and a wonderful casava or yucca bread filled with a sticky sweet centre, all delicious. The fort at Cumana is one of the first in South America and typical Spanish style. At lunch time we arrived at Mira Flores to walk up the wonderful river to see a waterfall. There were people abseiling down the sides of the gorge. We were helped across the rushing cold water by youngsters who were happy to help.

That evening we went to the Guaracho Caves to see the photosensitive birds fly into the night.After sleeping in a nearby Hacienda we returned to the caves via a small restaurant that specialised in strawberries and cream. The eastern state of Venezuela is known as the garden of the east. Most of the flowers and fruit and vegetables come from here. We entered the caves with a young guide who explained about the birds. They live in the semi darkness near the mouth of the cave. A wingspan of about a metre and very noisy, these birds fly as far as Brazil in a night to feed in the dark. The noise is intense. Once past them and in the pitch black we were able to use our torches and examine the fascinating stalactites and stalagmites which making some very strange shapes. We went about 1200m before turning back. The baby birds are learning to fly at this time of year and unfortunately if they fall out of the nest they have no chance of surviving. Lunch followed in a wonderful restaurant. We had a dish of lappa, type of capabari, skin like a pig but bones more like a rabbit. Delicious.

8 Aug 2005 Cubagua to Puerto La Cruz

An early departure and a good sail until about 12nm from P la C. We hit a squall from the south with 30 plus knots of wind and the seas built very quickly. I had seen it coming so the sails were safely stowed by the time it arrived. Then I noticed that the engine could only make 1800 revs so we motored into the rising seas at 2 knots. (Dirty fuell and a clogged filter were the cause). Whilst we were in Trinidad we had been talking to a couple on a bus and discovered that they had paid a deposit for Bahia Redonda marina but were now not able to take the slip. I was able to take their slip and pay them their deposit. We were very lucky since all the marinas in P la C well fully booked for many weeks ahead.After taking view days to settle in and find lovely swimming pool we arranged for the work to be done. This consists of 2 awnings in grey for the front of the boat and the pilot house. Also a new bimini has been designed and it will be some weeks for the work to be done.

We in the meantime have discovered the local fish and fruit market. The local eating venue, The Sheds , as they have become known, not far from the marina along the sea front with a spectacular view of Boracha Island where later Simon and Nicolette went diving. The food is amazingly cheap and the girls very friendly and helpful. They offer a selection of fresh fish and you are given a complimentary fish soup starter if you wish. Corn bread and avocado and salad are included . To follow they give complimentary coffee and fruit jelly in tiny plastic cups. All delicious washed down with a couple of beers. Beer is cheaper than water!! Some trips also needed to be organised , one to Angel Falls and the other to the caves at Caripe .(Written up separately below).

The central market in downtown P La C is nearly as big as Port of Spain and much more chaotic (if that‘s possible). There are mazes leading round in circles with endless stalls of fish meat and fruit and veg as well as clothes etc. There are little food stalls and juice bars offering freshly blended juices , the pineapple is to die for. The favourite breakfast treat for Tom is the Papa Rellena, which is a fried baseball of mash potato stuffed with ham and cheese or rice and ham. The cost is so little only 1000 bolivars (approx 25p). Petrol here is only 40 bolivars a litre ie. 100 litres per £1.A regular weekend occurence is a trip to the Paseo Colon for a promenade with the locals along the seafront of downtown P la C. Small stalls sell jewellery and other handicrafts. There is a strong Arabic influence in the food, the Shawarmas are very superior donner kebabs and very reasonable. The marina itself is at the mouth of salt pans which have been turned into a canal system with hundreds of fabulous houses , some very large and expensive and others are like terraces. We are able to take the dinghy all the way through these canals to the Plaza Mayor shopping mall which has supermarket and wonderful food hall with a variety of cheap lunch time venues. The price of beef is very low and set by the state at less than £2 a pound for prime fillet steak. So now its beef everyday as opposed to chicken or Fish unless its Prawns which are equally cheap.

7 Aug 2005 Margarita to Cubagua 24nm

A lovely 3 hour sail to an uninhabited island where we anchored in 2m. We stayed overnight and enjoyed a clear star filled sky.

6 Aug 2005 Testigos to Margarita 53nm

An early departure and with light airs we motorcycled arriving at Polomar at 1530hours. I caught a 20lb baracuda only seconds after putting out a lure. Safley aboard I filleted it only then to discover that ciguatera poisoning was rife her too so yet another baracuda was dispatched back into the sea. We anchored well of and stayed only overnight.

2 Aug 2005 Trinidad to Los Testigos 105nm

A good overnight sail with a very strong current meant that we were making 8.5kts at times. The wind died later but we still managed the trip in a less than 19 hours. We moved anchorage on 5 August to noe which was less rolly and then watched "Dione Star" a 90ft charter yacht nearly put herself stern to onto the rocks after suffering some gear selection problems whilst lifting up her anchor. It was the swift action of the driver of her tender who managed to get behind her and push her clear of the rocks.

1 Jul 2005 Grenada to Trinidad 87nm

A very pleasant overnight sail slowed by a a surprisingly strong west setting current. We had 3 days at the Crews Inn marina before going onto a mooring in Chagaramous bay which is the filthiest piece of water we have yet encountered. Tons of oil and debris float around it and noon would ever think of swimming in it. Managed to watch the grand prix on 3 July at Peakes and a week later we had a trip to the market in Port of Spain. It is massive and sells just about every form of fresh local food you could ever want. That day we had avocados and big prawns with pineapple to follow. Jumbo prawns for dinner (pil pil style) and with t bone steaks and tuna fish steaks in the fridge we were well set for a gourmet week. Even the breakfast at the market was good with a roti Trinidad style - filled with pot choy and mashed potato and bef in may case but any number of fillings were on offer. We prepared ourselves for Hurricane Emily (13 July) which was predicted to pass close to Trinidad. In the event she moved off to the North and poor Grenada got another pasting. We had winds of no more than 30 knots which was followed by a sea which was very confused with a heavy swell.On the 18th July I heard that my mother had died the previous day so I left for England on 21 Jul leaving Nicolette to look after the boat. Fortunately we were able to get a slip at Corel Cove marina. I returned on 31 July and before leaving for Venezueala we were able to get Yellow Fever inoculations.

22 Jun 2005 Carriacou to Grenada 31nm

We had a really good reaching sail to St Georges making over 6kts at times. The devastation from hurricane Ivan (2004) was still very apparent particularly on the east coast. Probably our best roti so far which we had at the Nutmeg. We moved over to True Blue Bay on 26 Jun hoping for some wind to keep us cool. However it was rolly so we went' the next day' to Mount Hartman bay. It was there we noticed that the vanes of the wind generator were about to fly off. We also snagged the anchor when we left on an enormous chain; we were able to get it to the surface after which Nicolette took to the water and secured a line onto the offending chain and we were able to clear it. We returned to St Georges and had a great main only run making 5 plus knots. Enjoyed a run ashore to a fisherman's party at Goavave where the main entertainment seemed to be drinking rum.

15 Jun 2005 Petit St Vincent to Carriacou 12nm

A good sail to Hilllsborough stopping at Sandy Island on our way out. We celebrated 1 year at sea with a meal out at the Garden restaurant. Plain fare but well cooked. On 17 June we sailed round to Tyrell Bay. Bought a case of wine from a passing boat vendor but declined the mangrove swamp oysters which ae in any case less than the size of a cockle.

14 Jun 2005 Union Island to Petit St Vincent 7nm

Another short hop but we had to motor with the wind on the nose. A comfortable anchorage and a pleasant walk ashore. 12 Jun 2005 Tobago Cays to Palm Island and Union Island 5nmThe anchorage at Palm Island was very uncomfortable to we continued on to Palm Island. Unfortunately I have few notes of our visit there except that the roti was very good!!

11 Jun Mayreaux to Tobago Cays 3nm

We anchored in 2m of the clearest and blue water we have yet come across. The cays are often very busy because they are so spectacular with a large reef offering protection from the Atlantic. Strong winds but flat seas. We snorkelled off horseshoe reef and I had a 5ft shark swim gently beneath me - given that we were in only 5ft of water at the time he looked uncomfortably close.

9 Jun 2005 Mustique to Canauan and Mayreaux 21nm

A lovely reach to Canauan but the anchorage was very rolly so we continued on to Mayreaux. Salt Whistle bay is where we set anchor and it was lovely with white sands and palms and a very protected anchorage. Snorkelling was excellent and we saw a shoal of Eagle rays. Had a conch bar-b-que on shore (cooked by one of the local fishing families)

7 Jun 2005 Bequia to Musique 19nm

Light winds meant we had to motor sail to Mustique. The rain which we had had for 4 days in Bequia followed us there. I nice anchorage but somewhat overrated and the most expensive beer so far in the Caribbean        

30 May 2005 Pitons, St Lucia to Admiralty Bay, Port Elizabeth, Bequia 56nm

                An early start (0300) with winds to 20 knots we had a fabulous reach down to Wallibou Bay, St Vincent. We just looked round the bay where the second and third parts of Pirates of the Caribbean has just been filmed. The set was much as we saw in last except that there are now 2 gibbets. Fickle winds until we cleared St Vincent and then close hauled making 6.5knots all the way to Bequia. We were photographed by the local "Beken of Cowes". He took some excellent shots one of which is shown. We arrived at 1500hrs.

28 May 2005 Pigeon Bay to The Pitons 18nm

In the lee of the island we had flat seas and so reached at 6 plus knots with 12 - 15 knots of wind down to the Pitons. A 3 hour run to cover the 18 miles. We tried anse chasternet but anchoring is not allowed there so we took a mooring at the bat caves. Great snorkelling but very rolly so the next day we went to the town moorings, we also went round to the moorings between the pitons but the wind was very strong so we returned for the night to the town moorings.

26 May 2005 Dominica to Rodney Bay, St Lucia 100nm

An 0840 departure we were close hauled for most of the way but had to motor sail for about 10 hours when the wind died. We anchored close the marina and cleared customs then sailed over to Pigeon Bay (less than a mile away) We enjoyed a nice meal at the Jambe d'bois.            

22 May 2005 Antigua to Prince Rupert's Bay, Dominica 96nm

We left at 1425 and motorsailed the whole journey - again there was no wind. Some very large lighting storms were a cause for some concern during the evening and until about 2am but fortunately they stayed well East of us. We enjoyed a good roti and hd a chicken meal at the Seaview Café. We had planned to leave on 25th but with no wind we delayed until the 26th.        

18 May 2005 Anguilla to Falmouth Harbour, Antigua 16nm

Enroute we stopped for lunch and a swim at the island of Forchue. The sail throughout the night was uneventful but we had to motorsail given that there was very little wind. I caught and lost 2 good sized Mahe Mahe before realising that the hook had become barbless. It was replaced with a treble and the next morning I caught a 10lb barracuda. However it had to be returned because of the likelihood of it carrying ciguatera which is a highly dangerous toxin that causes serious illness. The toxin is stored by the fish from eating around reefs, smaller fish contain very little toxin but anything over 3 lbs is considered dangerous. We had a lovely steak and mushroom meal (again) on board - I think it is a real treat. We also ate ashore and had a good lunch whilst watching the Monaco grand prix prior to our departure.

10 May 2005 St Marten to Anguilla 15nm

Another sail with light winds but very pleasant. We anchored in Road bay and made contact with Austin Richardson, the father of the best man (Rob) at Kathryn's wedding. He very kindly showed us right round the island and took us into the Valley which is the only town in Anguilla. The island has developed from nothing in 40 years - it was about then that the UK government were thinking of sending all the islanders to Guyana because they didn't think that there was a viable existence here primarily because of the repeated droughts.  The weather has not been good for the last 4 days with persistent and heavy rain, and no sun. Insurance documents arrived just before we left. However, during our enforced stop I reflected on our plans and became concerned that the trip to Chesapeake would necessitate our staying up there until 1 December. If we then took the intra coastal waterway we wouldn't be back in the Caribbean until 2006. Moreover it can get very cold up in Chesapeake after September and I didn't relish hanging around for maybe a couple of months in the cold. We have therefore decided to go South. Dominica and Bequia for a few days then the Grenadines and Grenada leaving there at the end of June for the islands off the coast of Venezuela. We'll spend the summer there and then look at the best options from December this year.

6 May 2005 St Barts to St Marten 18nm

The bridge opened at 11.30 am to allow entrance into Simpson Bay so we had an early start. Light airs but a nice sail and flat seas. Unfortunately the bay was packed and it was clear there were no anchorages left so we went into Simpson Bay Marina. It proved to be an excellent idea and the service offered is second to none (garbage collected from the boat pontoon for example) I used the 110 to 230v transformer for the first time and it worked faultlessly. We went to the cinema to see the interpreter on my birthday after having had a lovely meal of steak with wild mushrooms chez Katanne. The previous night we had had a Mexican which was OK but not outstanding. However, Nicolette chose the venue for her treat to me, the Boathouse, and the meal there was exceptional. The calamares with jalapeno peppers and garlic where fantastic. I had a seafood kebab whilst Nicolette had Mahi Mahi - both delicious. We took advantage of the good chandlers there and I was able to get a new transducer for the log (which gives the boat speed) the other having failed sometime ago. I know we have the GPS which gives our speed over the ground but all the seatalk interfaces rely on the log so I need it to find out the true wind. 

3 May 2005 Gustavia to Anse de Colombier, St Barts

We'd seen Anse de Colombier on our jeep trip and it looked lovely from the land and proved to be equally so when at anchor. The snorkelling was really very good and we saw numerous green turtles feeding on the sea grass and  shoals of 4 or 5 rays at a time - some of them quite sizeable. There was also a lovely walk on the side of the cliffs to a little village called Anse de Flammade. We walked there twice because it was so enjoyable.

30 April 2005 Statia to St Barts 25nm

The wind was on the nose for this trip and since we needed to charge the batteries we motorsailed the journey. Anchored in Gustavia well off in 9m. St Barts is very French and caters for the very rich. Chanel, Luis Vitton etc. are there so we didn't do much in the way of shopping ( although Nicolette had a good look). We did, though, hire a jeep and went round the island swimming off 3 of the best beaches. We also took the dinghy over to some nearby rocks and snorkelled around them.

27 April 2005  St.Kitts to Statia 21nm.

We had an excellent reach all the way making over 5kts with ease. There were none of the advertised moorings so we anchored in 3m (moorings had been removed for repairs) Nicolette went for a dive on a wreck and had a thoroughly good time. We climbed the Quill which is the local volcano about 2000ft high. The crater is now covered with a rain forest and is clearly extinct.                         

23 April 2005 Nevis to St Kitts. 8nm

We had to leave Tamarind bay a day earlier than we had planned because the wind changed and the roll of the boat became untenable. This happens with a wind change which results in the swell coming from a different direction. If the boat then lies side to the swell then the resultant roll can become spectacular to watch and impossible to endure for any length of time. The marina was full and the wind blowing strongly. We had to wait around for nearly an hour whilst a charter boat tried repeatedly to reverse into a berth. Eventually we were given a spot in a corner between 4 pilings so that was a good exercise. We moved from there the next morning to a regular berth between 2 pilings (bow to the pontoon and stern lines port and starboard to the pilings). Next day we took a trip round the island using the local buses. It was good exercise and very economical at  £4 total for the 2 of us using 4 buses altogether. We also went to see Brimston Hill fort which was very impressive. Indra's in Basse Terre specialises in Rotis and had about 50 different ones on offer. That said the one I had didn't compare with the best we've had. I was given a very fresh garfish over a metre long by one of the local fishermen which was enough to feed us twice. Wealso met another single hander - Jan the Corsican on Ulyxes.

16 April 2005 Monserrat to Nevis 33nm

Another lovely sail this time with the wind abaft (from behind) and took a mooring in Tamarind bay. Good snorkelling where Nicolette saw a good sized Baracuda. Had a game of golf!!! Actually it was 12 holes each of about 100 yards. The greens were rustic and the fairways more so. Nevertheless it was good fun and good exercise ( a good mile each way from where the bus dropped us off). Had a nice meal at the Gallipot which is on the beach at Tamarind bay. Nicolette had a wahoo and I had a steak. We were also able to fill up with water here.

14 April 2005 Antigua to Monserrrat 26nm

We had a lovely reaching sail all the way to Monserrat although the seas were a bit lumpy.  After anchoring in Little bay we went ashore and completed the usual customs and immigration formalities. They are a necessary pain but an essential part of cruising the Caribbean islands. We hired a taxi the next day and went to see the devastation that the volcanic eruption caused in 1995. Most of the south part of the island is now uninhabited and the capital town, Plymouth was totally destroyed. The lava flow covered the whole town and what areas it missed were destroyed by the millions of tons of ash that fell. The volcano is still a real threat and so no redevelopment of the south of the island has taken place. Only 5000 of the original inhabitants remain and of those 5000 half of them have come from Guyana and the Dominican Republic.

11 Mar 2005 Falmouth harbour to Jolly Harbour 12nm         

Jolly harbour was our fifth port of call in Antigua and where we were to leave the boat whilst we were in the UK. We had a very secure berth and the marina has good security. There is also a large supermarket on site which we were to use before departing. We left the boat on the 15 March and returned on the 6th of April.  The wedding of my daughter Kathryn went very well and the weather on the day (19 March ) was fantastic - very warm and clear skies. We then went up to The Wirral where I left Nicolette after a few days and moved on to my home town of Bridlington. We were both able to meet up with our respective friends before Nicolette joined me and we went down to Dorset and Cambridge before returning to my daughter's prior to our return to Antigua.

2  days after our return and Katanne was lifted out. We stayed on board during her 3 nights on the hard. We were able to lots of jobs including antifouling her and polishing the sides before she went back into the water on 11 April. We went back into the marina to provision before leaving. We were able to refuel her here, the first time since Barbados and we had used only 200litres in 4 months.

9 Mar  2005 Indian creek to Falmouth Harbour 2nm

We sailed round to Falmouth harbour and anchored off pigeon beach. Good swimming off the beach and a good roti from a local bar.

8 Mar 2005 Ricketts to Indian Creek 8nm

Had a quiet sail to Indian creek which is overlooked by a complex of buildings owned by Eric Clapton. The creek is totally hidden from the sea and we were delighted when we got into it that we were, after an hour or so, the only boat there. The pelicans provided us with some entertainment and they certainly eat as well as we do.

7 Mar 2005  Nonsuch bay to Ricketts bay 1nm

We moved from nonesuch because the wind had changed direction and Ricketts offered more protection. We stayed the night there and had our usual evening swim.      

3 Mar 2005 English Harbour  to Nonsuch Bay. 9nm

We motorsailed to Nonsuch Bay and anchored in West Bay tucked into the NW corner of Green Island. The bay is protected from the Atlantic by a long reef and the water behind it is very calm.  This is the most Caribbean like place we have visited with coral reefs and azure waters the colours going from almost yellow in the shallows to turquoise and then light and deep blue. We spent the 5 March on the beach under a coconut palm and in the evening returned to have a bar-b-que.  We used drift wood to cook Cajun chicken which was delicious served with new potatoes and a bottle of rose wine. A memorable evening in perfect surroundings.  As I write this sitting in the cockpit on Sunday 6 March we have another beautiful day and I have just finished filming a 3ft barracuda which swam round the boat about 2ft from the surface.

28 Feb 2005 Carlisle Bat to English Harbour  4nm

Motored the 4nms (Easterly winds anyway) and anchored first in Tank Bay  but the holding was not good in mud so we took a mooring to the quay. English Harbour has been restored beautifully and all the historic buildings and quays from Nelson's time have been preserved. I experienced a real feel of the history of the haven and it was easy to imagine how it bustled and ran in the 18th century. Enjoyed reading the Times for a day or 2 but we haven't missed the news and nothing seems to have changed much in the UK.  We also had our best Chicken Roti here and had a long walk over the headland from English Harbour to Pigeon Bay and then to Falmouth Harbour.

27 Feb 2005 Deshaies to Carlisle Bay Antigua 42nm

For the first time in ages we were able to sail; closed reached for the whole trip; we left at 0615 and arrived at 1345. Nothing at Carlisle bay except a luxury hotel which is owned by the brother of a friend of  N. The bay is very shallow and as result the waters are not clear. Had a walk ashore

.25 Feb 2005 Peteite Anse to Deshaies 14nm

1015 and on our way in drain and light airs to Deshaies. No luck with the fishing rod this time. N. made a lovely paella using shellfish that we had in tins. We visited the Botanic gardens and did some snorkelling round the rocks but the water wasn't very clear. We also had fun with our anchor chain which snagged a buoy line which had not been used for years so we cut it to free our chain.

23 Feb 2005 Point a Pitre to Anse de la Barque Guadelope  36nm

We left at 0830 and with light winds we motor sailed. This had the one advantage of giving us a good trolling speed and we caught 2 lovely small black finned tuna. It has been some time since we had caught anything so they were specially enjoyed. In fact they were so solid they lasted 2 nights. First off the bone and then as fishcakes. A pretty anchorage but I forgot to take in the fishing line so we lost some line, a paravane and the spinner. The holding was poor on very firm sand so we moved to Petite Anse - the next bay to the North. Holding here was good and the bay even prettier. We spent 2 pleasant nights there and no reason to go ashore.           

17 Feb 2005  La Bourg to Point a Pitre Guadelope 36nm

We made an unplanned visit to Point a Pitre the capital of Guadelope. The outboard had broken and since it wasn't the spark or the fuel supply that was at faultI surmised that it could only be the timing which was electronic and not something I could fix. The wind was on the nose and the weather not particularly good so we motored there. We went into the marina there which made for a change although we preferring anchorages more and more for the solitude we gain. The outboard was fixed and we were also able to get new high density sponges for the cockpit cushions. We also had an excellent beef bourguignon at a café next door to the launderette we went to.

14 Feb Anse Fideling to La Bourg  - Terre de Haut 5nm

Our intention was to anchor behind Pain a Sucre which looked a very pretty anchorage but when we got there it had a sizeable swell rolling in so we went over to the lee of Isle de Cabrits but that was full so we continued on to Bourg des Saints which is the capital town of Terre de Haut. It is a pretty town and we had a pleassnt walk around it. The next day we hired a scooter (all of 90hp) and toured the island. It has its fair share of good sized hills so we were glad we had transport. We swam from 2 of the beaches on the island and went up to Fort Napoleon where we saw more Iguanas. There were stll the occasional tremors but nothing like the first one we had the previous day.

13 Feb 2005 Portsmouth to The Saints (Guadelope) 20nm

We Left at 1000 and were able to sail for the first 2 hours then we had to motor sail. We went first to Anse Fideling which is a small bay on Terrre de Bas the Western most island of The Saints. It is a very picturesque anchorage and we had a pleasant night there. Next day we had a good lunch in Grand Anse - a walk of about 30m minutes. We saw our biggest Iguanas here. At about 1400 on 14 Feb we experienced a 5.9 (richter scale) earthquake centred 14km South of us at a depth of 14kms. We first heard and felt a loud and very deep rumble which lasted about 5 seconds. The boat shook but not violently. What was apparent was the noise and the vibrations were clearly from a very powerful event. The birds on the nearby cliffs flew off and then a small part of the cliff came down. All the dogs in the village were barking and numerous shoals of fish leapt out of the water. We heard later that the quake had been felt on the Beaches in Antigua 60 miles away. 

3 Feb 2005 Roseau to Portsmouth 8nm

A swift sail to St. Rupert's bay and in time for the carnival. Our first anchorage was rolly so we moved into the NW corner and tied our stern to a coconut palm. From then on we had a very comfortable stay and smugly watched the others in the bay suffering some quite heavy swell; enough to damage the piers outside some of the restaurants. I blamed the swell for the soaking I got when I fell in trying to get into the dinghy returning from the carnival. Took local buses to Calibshe and Cabrits.  What we most enjoyed though was the local food. It was typical Creole and so cheap that we ate out most days. We both thought that Dominica was the nicest of the islands we had visited and that's why we stayed there 10 days.

1 Feb 2005 Roseau to Castaways (mero) 11nm

1000 hours and we went whale spotting but to no avail. Motor sailed to Castaways and anchored 200m offshore. Tightened the rudder stock nut which stopped a small leak. Had a walk into the nearby village of St Joseph. The swell came in that evening and was quite uncomfortable. It is extremely unusual to get a SW wind at this time of year which has made many of the leeshore anchorages rolly and with an uncomfortable swell.

28 Jan 2005 St Pierre to Roseau Dominica 36nm

A lovely sail leaving at 0530 and arriving at 1200 in time to clear customs and immigration. I fell in love with Dominica as soon as I set foot on it. There was music playing wherever we went and I felt that this was an unsullied Caribbean country. It is clear that this is a poorer country than any other we have visited so far and there is desperate need for tourism development and inward investment. Nevertheless, the people seem to be happy and were certainly helpful and friendly towards us. We visited Trafalgar falls and got a lift back in the back of an open small truck together with 2 teachers from the local school. We also went ot the sulphur springs and took a cable car through the rainforest. A few days prior to the last days of the carnival we went to a jam session on Independence street and had a great evening.

26 Jan 2005 Grand Anse D'Arlet to St Pierre          

A rare and very good reaching sail, the weather continued to be strange with winds from all directions except the norm. Anchored of the town jetty in the middle of the bay which gave us the opportunity to make a number of dinghy trips ashore to collect water. We eventually filled all our tanks. We walked to the Depaz rum distillery on a lovely hot day with clear skies.

24 Jan 2005 St Anne to Grand Anse D'Arlet           14nm

We stopped off at Petite Anse for lunch at anchor, a lovely  anchorage as was Grand Anse where the water was very clear. Also walked to Petit Anse in search of land crabs which we didn't find. Had a v good sandwich at a beach bar there.

19 Jan 2005 Pigeon Island to St Annes, Martingue 22nm

We motor sailed into a stiff breeze off our starboard bow and took 5.5 hours to get to St Annes. We visited Fort de France, the capital, had a good plat de jour there of moules and frites. We also hired a card for the day and visited a number of rum distilleries. They were all much the same and the samples of rum were either ti punch or coconut rum so I never got to taste neat rum. We also visited a botanical garden where I saw my first humming bird.

18 Jan 2005-02-21 Rodney Bay to Pigeon Island 1nm

After clearing out through customs we had an overnight stop at Pigeon Island primarily so that we could have a meal at Jaime de Bois which was good but not memorable. Had a walk round Fort Rodney and saw a grove snake  ( very common)

12 Jan 2005 Marigot Bay to Rodney Bay Marina, St Lucia 8nm

It was surprisingly pleasant to be in a marina for a few days. We were able to do lots of jobs on the boat without any boat movement. Castries is the capital of St Lucia and is a lovely town. The market is vibrant and the local food fantastic. Example: a fish meal for 8 ec dollars (£1.6) consisting of 2 large fish steaks, macaroni cheese, dasheen, breadfruit, plantain, gravy, salad, rice and beans. The meal at Gros Islet was somewhat different, it was a buillon but was mainly a sticky dough and chunks of fat!!

8 Jan 2005 Anse la Raye to Marigot Bay 3nm

Marigot Bay looks beautiful in all the brochures; it is almost totally enclosed and mangrove swamps border 2 sides of the bay. However, the water is filthy - all the restaurants empty their sewage into the bay and there is very little tide or current to cleanse the bay. It rained for much of our time there and we were able to collect nearly 200 litres of rain water for drinking. JJ's a supposedly famous restaurant was a disappointment and the food was poor. 2 for 1s at the Beach Bar were good and was the steak we had on our last evening there.

7 Jan 2005 Bat Cave Moorings to Anse la Raye, St Lucia 7nm

There is a fish feast every Friday night at Anse la Raye and that was our prime reason for going there. The rain continued to fall and the swell was as bad here as at Bat Caves. Moreover, we couldn't get ashore because of the swell and breaking waves on shore. The jetty had been destroyed in an earlier hurricane.

6 Jan 2005 Maglretout to Bat Cave Moorings 1nm

We had been waiting for a mooring to become vacant across the bay at the Bat Cave moorings. When one did become so at 7.30am we rushed across to it. The bat cave moorings are actually on a coral reef so we swam off the boat straight over the reefs. It was a fantastic experience and the water was crystal clear and I saw my first school of squid. I managed to take some footage of the bats departing from the cave (just a slit in the rock face). The following day we bought 15 ballyhoo fish from the fishermen and one of them then offered to gut and fillet them. Overnight the weather changed with gusts to 28kts, torrential rain and in the morning it became very rolly. The water had also discoloured so we decided to move on.

4 Jan 2005 Jalousie Bay to Malgretout Bay St Lucia 6.0nm

We had our 10 minute motor round the corner and went, as planned for a meal at Benny's which was very good; all the food is procured locally. Nicolette saw an octopus earlier in the day. We heard about the Tsusami 4 days after the event but I was incensed when T. Blair announced that his government would be giving a sum of money substantially more than be been donated by the British public. What does he think "government money" is and where does he think it comes from?

1 Jan 2005  Wallilabou to Jalouise Bay, St LuciaDep.  Wallilabou           37nm

New Year's day and were up early for a sail to Jalousie Bay, St Lucia. Before doing so however, Nicolette had to swim ashore to untie the rope on the coconut tree; I then pulled her back which she thought was great fun. Our course to St Lucia meant we were hard on the wind and the pilot guide recommends motor sailing  because the winds off the Northern edge of St Vincent are unpredictable. We made good time and arrived at about 2.00pm after a sail of 37nms.  The entrance to the bay is spectacular as it guarded by the 2 pitons which are 2000ft high very steep conical in shape. They are not old volcanoes but essentially 2 enormous lumps of rock deposited by a volcano. The next thing that struck me was the clarity of the water. We are anchored in 50ft of water and I can clearly see the bottom I am sure that I would still see the bottom if we were in 100ft of water.  The area is all managed by a maritime conservation agency who lay down moorings to stop people anchoring and so damaging the seabed. We took a mooring and later on went ashore to explore. There is only a restaurant and a Hilton hotel both of which cater for wealthy tourists. However, there is a fabulous and quite famous snorkelling area just off the beach which will spend some time exploring.        

The following day we took a water taxi round to Soufriere which is the closest town and where we had to check in with customs and immigration. It was a lovely ten minute ride round the base of one of the pitons. I was immediately taken by the town and we intend to spend a few extra days here as a result. We will sail round the corner (10 minutes away) and pick up a mooring outside a well known restaurant called "Bennies" if it is not outrageously expensive we'll have a meal there. There are more moorings across the bay which are close to a sheer cliff where we will moor. It looks so peaceful and secluded there and snorkelling is done straight off the boat. I would also like to explore the town more and eat in the local cafes which are invariably more fun than the restaurants catering for tourists. After checking in at customs Nicolette was able to go to mass in the local church which is surprisingly big for a very small town. They were singing Christmas carols so I slipped in at the back and enjoyed them too.

Later that day I had my first serious snorkelling session and we couldn't have chosen a better start. The coral reef we explored lies just off a sandy beach which is easy to reach and is at the base of one of the little piton. The reef is protected and managed by a conservation agency, no anchoring allowed and neither is any sailing or motoring permitted over the reef. What we saw was spectacular and far exceeded what I had hoped to see.

There was a myriad of different fish species far too numerous to mention but covered a wide cross section of the all the species you are likely to find on the Caribbean reefs. The water was crystal clear and it was just so easy to float around at leisure taking as long as you wanted to watch the antics of the fish. Shoals as well as single types fish were in abundance. It is difficult to put into words the shear beauty of the reef which in addition to the fish has a wide variety of corals. We shall be returning there every day we are here.

30 Dec Bequia to Wallilabou, St Vincent.Dep 301204 1130 Arr Wallilabou 301204 1420      16nm

The sail to Wallilabou on the island of St Vincent  was only about 3 hours but it was good fun. We took a mooring and because of the nature of the bay our stern was tied (by a very long rope) to a coconut tree on the shore. This  stopped the boat swinging about. We explored a waterfall but it wasn't up to much but you can't get away from the fact that this bay was used for the shooting of the film "Pirates of the Caribbean". The restaurant has been transformed as have some of the other buildings The highly praised restaurant wasn't up to much and everything was overshadowed by the place being an old set for the film - they are shooting a new one next month so what it will be like after that goodness knows. We ate shore New Year's Eve and watched a film on our return but neither us had the stamina to stay awake for the New Year and we were safely tucked up in bed by 10 pm and set sail early the next day..


 Our mooring was in a very good position only about 3 minutes from the shore by dinghy. This was the first of the Windward Islands we had visited. It rained quite a bit throughout our stay but the rain is warm and soon evaporates. We had to remember to close the hatches at night if there was any chance of rain sometimes we didn't but on each occasion one of us heard it coming and closed them in time.We ate out a few times - our favourite lunch being chicken roti which is curried chicken and potatoes in a wrap served with a hot sauce. They were about £1 each and made a very substantial lunch. The fruit market was an experience. Lots of lovely fresh fruit and about 20 stalls the holders of each one clamouring to sell us their wares. Nicolette solved the problem very neatly by buying one think from each of them, those we didn't buy from on one day we did on subsequent days. Everyone seemed happy with this and we were one of the few that were thereafter not hassled at.Christmas was looming and plans were duly made. I ordered a lobster from one of the vendors - they all visit by boat (high speed launch really). Everything from fresh bread to water and diesel is delivered direct to your boat.

Laundry is collected from it and delivered back the same day. If you don't want to take your dinghy then there are water taxis roaming around day and night. You have to admire the enterprise of them all. It is also made so pleasant because you are not hassled by Any of them and a polite "No Thanks" is met with grace. Nicolette had laid in a store of mince pies and Christmas cake and other goodies. We also had some decorations and I had managed to rig up the small inverter which was enough to run the Christmas lights that I put outside round the cockpit bimini (a cover over the cockpit). We had Laura and Phil (friends from Grasiosa and Barbados) for drinks on Christmas day and then we had some of the biggest prawns you are ever likely to see.

We needed a rest and a swim after that but eventually I got round to the lobster. I had been keeping it alive in a sack suspended 6ft under the boat and when I took it out it was very much alive. The problem was one of size, it was very big and our biggest cooking pot  (one we bought specially) was far too small. I stunned it first with needle through the brain and then put the head into boiling water - the edible bit, the tail was outside of the pot!!. When I was sure it was dead I turned it round so the tail was in the pot. Put the lid on as best I could and covered it with a tea towel to hold in the steam. After 20 minutes it was ready and delicious it was too. We could only eat half of it between us - the rest was enjoyed a day or two later.  We hadn't missed out on the meat either since we went ashore on Christmas Eve and had a steak with some lovely and very diverse salads.Christmas Day night we decided to go ashore for a drink - a bit daft really since we had had pina coladas, friends for drinks at lunchtime and wine with our meal. However, it was only 3 minutes by dinghy.

We tied up safely and then I promptly dropped the boat keys into the water. Nicolette offered to retrieve them and fortunately she was wearing non-revealing underwear. Dress off and in she went. Then back to the boat to change but on the way she dropped the padlock. We retrieved that the next day. A quick change and back to the bar where we had a couple of drinks and met up with more friends.Boxing day we walked round the island to Friendship Bay which has a lovely white  beach fringed with palms. It took about half an hour to get there and we needed to stretch our legs after all. We had lunch there at a beach restaurant and walked back in the late afternoon.           

The inverter finally turned up on 28 Dec which was really very good since it left the UK on 23 Dec. I duly removed the defunct one and fitted the new one and to date it is working perfectly. We can if we want put on a film (DVD) if we so wish. Before leaving Bequia we went to another bay (Lower Bay) which was only a 20 minute walk away and spent a god part of the day there. We have become serious bookworms and my reading matter in particular is reaching new literary heights. The Librarian part of Nicolette insists I broaden my tastes and I am thoroughly enjoying doing so.

17 Dec 2004 Barbados to BequiaDep Carlisle Bay 171204 1330 Arr Bequia 181204 1000  97nms

We made first for Port St. Charles were we cleared immigration and customs and took on water and (duty free) fuel. We left Port St Charles at 1620 under motor since the wind was calm. Half an hour later and I had the Genoa poled out and a full main and off we went. The wind never exceeded 20kts and for mush of the time was less than 15 kts but we made good time and had a wonderful night sail with the moon nearly full and clear skies. We had 2 incidents; first a yacht to port of us (and therefore the one to give way) passed very close and went about 40m ahead of us. Despite shining a powerful light into his cockpit I couldn't see anyone and couldn't raise him on VHF. Of even greater concern was the cruise ship, which appeared just off our port bow on a constant, bearing. It 6 miles I put the radar on and called him on Ch16 giving his position and advising him that he was on a collision course with a yacht under sail. At first he said he could see nothing (now 4nm away) even though we had the deck lights on and our radar transponder would be showing us clearly on his radar. Eventually he admitted to seeing us on his radar and turned to starboard by 40 deg. I only hope the officer of the watch had words with the bridge crew since they were clearly not doing their job.

We arrived in Admiralty Bay, Bequia at 1000 on 18 December, We anchored in 11m of water with strong squalls blowing and errant buoys around us and which were likely to foul our rudder or prop. After 2 days of worrying (and clearing loose line from one buoy from our prop) I took a mooring close to the shore and out of the main wind channel. 

10 Dec 2004Barbados

We set anchor there but didn't go ashore until the next day. It's not surprising that after a crossing of that length when the maximum time you can sleep is 3 hours and more times than not it was much less, that we were tired and needed time to recover. Sleep was difficult at times given that the beach-bars have discos until 4 in the morning. We took time out to go Christmas shopping doing the usual things to buy in secret and we got our visas for the USA whilst we were there. The inverter which gives us 230volts on board broke while we were in Mindelo but the UK agents have kindly sent a replacement to Bequia which hopefully will arrive after Christmas. Other parts for the boat (non essential items) are being sent to St Lucia. Nicolette spent a long time in the water removing goose barnacles from the hull. I had thought that my antifouling wasn't working but it seems everyone has the same problem. They must have attached themselves whilst we were in Mindelo, I haven't noticed any on the boats in the harbour. She used a scraper on a pole and wearing fins and snorkel.

Getting around Barbados was fun; we used the dinghy to go either to the beach or to the careenage which was in the centre of town or to the fishing harbour where there was a very good fish market. We bought billfish, blue marlin and flying fish from there. The flying fish are beautifully prepared, they are filleted and then the two lines of secondary bones are removed so there are no bones however small left. We also treated ourselves to a lobster at "Lobster Alive" where the lobsters are kept alive in tanks (they come from St Vincent). We took the dinghy direct to this beach restaurant and landed through some minor surf. On leaving the waves had grown, we had shared a bottle of wine and it was very dark. The upshot was that I grounded the propeller of the outboard and broke the shear pin. Necessity being the mother of invention I used a brass screw suitable filed down as a replacement (it's still in use)

We couldn't fail to notice just how friendly and helpful everyone was. Cars would stop to let us cross the road and everyone was keen to help and offer directions. For example I wanted to find a small inverter to power the Christmas lights. Anyone I asked would ring other shops or friends and eventually we tracked down what we needed and which has proved to be in constant use (uses less power than the main inverter so we use it for re charging cameras etc.) We also took a sightseeing trip on a bus which was fun and at times bizarrely hilarious. The bus was the usual town bus the driver thought he was related to Schumacher and hadn't made up his mind which side of the road we should be driving on. So we were careering round Barbados on a hot sunny day 2 days before Christmas and at the same time there was a woman in front of us playing at full blast on her radio "Winter Wonderland" Most of our companions were local who clearly went on these outings regularly and had with them everything they were likely to need. Our radio lady was dishing out plastic cups for those that needed them whilst the lady and her son behind us had enough sandwiches to feed the all the passengers twice over.  Blocked roads added to the fun especially when half the passengers disembarked to offer their expert advice on how to reverse out of the situation.

We also took time to do some entertaining; Ben from "Shalom" a single hander who came over when we did was pleased to spend an hour or two having a drink. I don't think he was a natural single handed and missed having company. Doug, a Canadian we had met in Mindelo on "Kodo" whom we had had drinks with there came over for a few with us. We also spent an evening on "Jade" a catamaran with Laura and Phil (who we met in Grasiosa). However after a week we were ready to move on.

23 November 2004Dep Mindelo Cape Verde Islands 231104 1000 Arr Barbados 10122004 0015 2100nm

The first week we made 100miles a day despite the winds being light for much of the time. We had the spinnaker up day and night for 4 days and only took it down when the wind strength increased above 18kts. We caught fish on 2 occasions which we enjoyed. The water generator would only kick in when we were doing more than 5 kts boat speed so we had to put the engine on for charging every 2 days or so.By the 1Dec we were experiencing overcast conditions with stronger winds at times but frustratingly we also had times of flat calms. We received information of squall activity over a large area which covered our position.

On the night of 2/3 Dec we had very light winds so I put the cruising shute up. Just after midnight we were hit by a squall of over 40kts and very heavy and torrential rain. It did an excellent job cleaning the boat which was spotless for a day or afterwards. It also tried hard to split the cruising shute but I managed to get it down safely and we rode out the squall with the main at 90 degs to the wind and doing 1kt. We were almost becalmed after the squall but we needed to chare the batteries so I decided that we should motor until day break - the first time we had done so on the crossing. The next day we heard that there was very strong squall activity south of 15N and we were at the time at 14 deg 58N so we went onto a NE heading until we heard later in the day that that particular trough had dissipated. For the next few days we had a mixture of strong and light winds.

The spinnaker was the most effective sail so we had it up most days even in winds of 20 plus knots but we were prudent enough now not to fly it at night when we couldn't see the squalls approaching. We had our best days sailing to date on 6 Dec when we made 144 miles in 24 hours. On 7 Dec all ships were asked to help out a vessel declaring a PAN MEDICO and needed to get to Barbados as soon as possible (It might have been a crew member with a suspected broken back) The yacht needed fuel and we were only 25 miles upwind of her so offered the 80 litres we had strapped to the railings of our boat. We also offered Pephadine which we had. In the event the yacht was in fact 60 miles ahead of us and was being escorted and assisted by a cruise liner. We continued to fish through out the crossing but the breaking strain of the line I had was to low at 30lbs. I was hooking fish of 10lbs plus and of course was immediately broken (after stripping a load of line first) I tried smaller and smaller lures only to hook bigger and bigger fish until I ran out of line.We had squally conditions for the rest of the crossing but the winds in between were steady and we made good progress.

The highlight of the crossing occurred the day before our arrival. I was facing backwards and reading when I noticed a brown and white shadow just off our stern. Whilst I was trying work out what was creating the shadow it moved forward to the starboard side about 4 feet away and became a 10 m white shape. I realised it must be a whale and this was confirmed a little later when if surfaced just ahead of us. For the next 2 hours this whale entertained us most royally. Initially I was concerned it might hit the boat but soon realised it had no intention of doing so. It would swim down either side of the boat and invariably turned to show its white underbelly when it did so. It also dived under the boat and actually registered on the depth gauge at 3.9 metres. The most exciting event though was the surfing. It would appear about 100m astern of us just under the surface and clearly visible. The swell was about 12 ft. As the swell ran towards us so the whale would surf with it but still just under the surface. It was the most amazing sight seeing it getting closer and closer and still heading straight for us. When about 10ft behind us it would turn to go one side or the other or straight underneath. Needless to say we watched it intently for the whole time and would have done so for many more hours had it not decided to go elsewhere. We think it was a bottle nosed whale deduced from its size, colour and type water spout it created.

From now on all times are local

We arrived at Port St Charles at 0615 after slowing down to ensure we arrived in daylight. After clearing customs and taking on water we made for Carlisle Bay, Bridgetown, Barbados and set anchor there at 1700.How was the crossing? From a sailing point of view it was great, we had no headwinds (the first time I can say that!!) and the weather was generally kind to us. The trade winds had not set in and the squalls were not usual - they did continue for the following three weeks so the traditional departure date of 1 Dec would not have avoided them. Time and boredom were not an issue. We soon fell into a routine and never seemed to think about how long we'd been at sea or how long we had left. Of course there were milestones; reaching 1000 miles, the half way point, most miles covered etc. but neither of us were frustrated or found the passing of the days a problem. We sailed about 2100 nms in 17 days which we later realised was a very respectable time for a 34ft "bath tub". I later realised that the journey time would have been at least a day and probably 2 days quicker had we cleaned the hull before leaving Cape Verde. By the time we reached Barbados the hull was covered in goose Barnacles (see entry on Barbados). Our speed after Nicolette had cleaned them all off was probably 0.75 knots quicker.

5 November 2004 Dep La Gomera 051104 1015 Arr Mindelo 131104 0830 802.5nm

For the first 3 days we had fickle winds which meant we used the engine and many sail combinations. However we did cover nearly half the distance. Things changed rapidly from then on. The wind came up from the SW and reached F7 occasionally F8. By the evening of the 8 Nov we hove to for the night. We were making very little headway and the seas were uncomfortable. For the next 3 days we beat into the wind whenever we could but at times we were making so little headway that we motor sailed. The wind was always forecast to go round to the NE but never did. An unexpected gale centred over the Cape Verde Islands on 11 November and we received the tail end of it on 12 November when about 120 miles North of CV. We had 6 hours of F6-7 SSW but closed hauled about 235 deg off track for that time. Then the wind died completely and we motored into Mindelo at first light on 13 November. The forecast for our trip was for NE with a 24-hour period of SE. I now realise that any disruption of the trades is likely to last a week and will invariably be more violent than forecast.

We had not fished on the crossing because the conditions were so bad but on the morning of 13 Nov as we entered Mindelo I found 6 good-sized flying fish on the deck which were much enjoyed that evening.The pilot warns that the Cape Verde's' are unsafe with lots of theft. We found them as safe as anywhere, we didn't here of any problems of theft or harassment or anything else untoward. Mindelo was delightful; the shops are well stocked as is the fruit market and the fish market was wonderful with a 1lb of fresh tuna for less than £1.00. So here were a few flies around but the fish was so fresh and the vendors so pleasant that we didn't really care and we never suffered any tummy bugs. We ate out a few times and I serviced the engine and made sure everything was in order. The inverter broke while we were there which meant that there would be no movies on board for the Atlantic crossing but other than that we were in good shape. We took on water and fuel there before leaving for Barbados.

29 Oct 2004Dep Tenerife 291004 0500 Arr La Gomera 1291004 1530  64nm

Wind calm to begin with so under motor. Saw 3 pilot whales and received a navtex warning of  a  plague of locusts expected Canaries or Cape Verde Islands. Wind increased in the Gomera channel. We tried beating to windward but made no headway so continued with the engine. La Gomera was the most beautiful of all the Canary Islands that we saw. It had everything to offer from verdant hills to rugged and barren ravines. There is very little flat land there so the car we hired spent all its time going up or down hills and vales. In all we had a very relaxed time in preparation for the trip to the Cape Verde Islands.23 Oct 2004 Dep Lanzarote 231004 0900 Arr Marina Atlantico Tenerife 241004 1000   131nmA fabulous sail we averaged over 5kts on a reach for most of the way. Winds were F4 occasionally 5. Katanne loves those conditions and despite a 2.5m swell she was so settled.

Caught 2 nice sized dolphin fish (mahi mahi) on the way and no doubt could have caught more but I only catch what we can eat. Excellent eating, Nicolette baked them with a sprinkling of rose baie (red peppercorns) and served with new potatoes and aubergine. Took a hire car for the day and went up Spain's highest mountain (car and cable car!) which is about 12,000ft high. The national park is not as spectacular as that in Lanzarote but still worthy seeing.

Couldn't find any bodegas despite spending some time motoring round the vineyards. Topped up at Cortes Ingles and Carrefour; we now have enough on board to feed the inhabitants of the Cape Verdes if they run short. Enough wine to set up our own off licence and I was given 4 plastic jerry cans so now have another 85 litres of fuel and a range of 700miles. The antifouling stops about 2 inches short of the waterline!!

17 Oct 2004 Dep Graciosa 171004 0800 Arr Rubicon Lanzarote 170104 1700 36nm

A lovely if somewhat slow sail for all but 2 hours. It was so good to have the engine off  for a sustained period. Katanne goes really well considering her size and added weight when on any point of sail except beating to windward which I'll try to avoid.Had a lovely time in Lanzarote  the marina is very good with free use of the swimming pool (Nicolette took good advantage of that) and the best showers and toilets we have come across. We took a hire car for the day and went to see the "mountain of fire". Very spectacular. The volcano erupted in 1726 and caused devastation  to an island which had hitherto had a great agricultural existence. Now it so barren that you could be on the moon. That said every effort has been made to produce foodstuffs and the vineyards are unique. Each vine has it's own half moon shaped wall to protect it from the wind and to keep it warm at night. We tried the local wine but it wasn't for us.

5 Oct 2004 Dep Gibraltar 05102004 1000 Arr La Graciosa 10102004 0715 590nm

We had a good Easterly through the straits and continued under sail until after midnight when the wind died completely. It came up again at 1000 on 6 Oct but was on the nose. We sailed close hauled for about 11hours but after checking that we had only made 30nm and that on a favourable tack we had no option but to start the engine. Even so we couldn't make our course and lay about 30 degs off it. The wind throughout was only F4 to 5 but the seas were lumpy and knocking the boat back all the time. We motored at 4 kts for 5 hours and then went close hauled again since we could nearly make our course. By 1430 on 7 Oct we had to start the engine again and put a reef in the main. It was depressing having to motor for so long but we had little alternative.

Katanne is not built for windward sailing and with any sea we could only make 60 deg to the wind and that didn't account for the drift. We motored until 0745 on 9 Oct and had a good reaching sail until the wind died. However at 2115 we got some wind again which slowly increased and we had a good sail until we reached Graciosa on the morning of 10 Oct.What a landfall; There's a channel between Graciosa and Lanzarote which is to port and is no more than a massive volcanic cliff on its Northern side.

Graciosa is also volcanic but  La Sociedad which where the marina lies looked wonderful, A small village of predominantly single storey white houses form a backcloth to the harbour with the wilderness of the volcanic island behind. There are no roads only sand ways; it is peaceful beyond belief. There is however, a fairly constant NE wind blowing at up to F4 so it isn't exactly silent and given that there is no electricity (or water) laid onto the pontoons then there is the inevitable whirr of the wind generators - ours included. It together with the solar panels installed in Gibraltar are providing us with all the electricity we need.

19 September 2004 Dep Dequesa 19092004 0800 Arr Gibraltar 19092004 1300 24nm

Wind calm, good tide round Europa point. Back in Gibraltar and things to do. Had the new solar panels installed, also had some stainless steel brackets made so that I can make a long detachable table for the cockpit. Checking out the engine I discovered that the header tank securing bracket was cracked and fell apart when I unbolted it. The arrival of the new one delayed our departure by 3 days resulting in us having headwinds en route to The Canaries. Such is life. Kathryn and Bailey came to visit for the weekend and we had a lovely time. Went to our favourite tapas bar in La Linea. K loved it, B fell asleep. Had a tour of the rock and saw all the famous sights including the apes which made Bs day. K and B also took a dolphin trip and saw literally 100s of them. Not surprising since there is a resident population in the bay. Took Alan and Doreen off Kiah to Malaga airport and did a mountain of shopping at the hypermarket in Algeceris. Enjoyed 2 quiz nights and even went out to eat. Lamb tagine turned out to be Irish stew. Only in Gibraltar could a Moroccan restaurant get it wrong!!  Completed all our preparations for the crossing including filling the septic tank (never used) with fresh water.

18 September 2004 Dep Fuengirola 18092004 0800 Arr Duquesa 18092004 1400 35nm

Wind calm, sun shining stongly. It is a queit and comfortable marina surrounded by the ubiquitous shops and bars. Watched the ryder cup which was exciting if for no other reason than that Europe where thrashing the USA. Nicolette's excellent pork escalopes for dinner.16 September 2004 Dep Punta de la Mona 16092004 0630 Arr Fuengirola 16092004 1315    45nmWind calm; saw lots of dolphins. Went to a private hospital to have the stitches removed. Fuengirola is so tatty it is likeable. The boundary of the marina is lined with  single storey cafes and restaurants and bars and there isn't a Spanish speaking person in sight. Everything English, Irish, Scottish, Dutch and German is on offer. All compete to give the best an biggest full English breakfast at the lowest price. Ate ashore and it was predictably disappointing. Too good to miss for all the wrong reasons.

15 September 2004 Dep Almerimar 15092004 0615 Arr Punta de la Mona 15092004 1330  45nm

Light head winds but the sea was still lumpy afterearlier storng winds. The Med is remarkable in that it requires only a moderate wind to cause waves out of proportion to the wind strength and it takes an age for them to die down. Fresh fish for dinner and Nicolette finally got to go snorkelling there which she had wanted to do on the way up. Un fortunately the water was now much cooler so she wasn't in for long. However, she did confirm that the sea there is full of fish of al types. We moored up against the rock facing a mass of hibiscus. A lovely sight to wake up to

13 September 2004 Dep Aguadulce 13092004 0730 Arr Almerimar 13092004 1030 18nm

A short run round the coast to Almerimar. The wind heading us so no point in putting the sails up. Had a monster shop at the local supermarket and stocked up with bricks of wine and orange juice. Went to have my arm seen to and the doctor tried to take out the stitches. I thought it was too soon so left there and went to local private doctor who agreed that stitches shouldn't come out for another 3 days at least. Good laundrette here so a big wash including the bimini cover. Looks much better now it isn't covered in brown sand.

12 September 2004 Dep Garrucha 12092004 0600 Arr Aquadulce 12092004 1430 55nm

Light SW winds meant we had to motorsail. Watched the Grand Prix in Italy. Event of the day was to see very close by a flock of about 30 pink flamingos. They climbed a little as they approached the boat but then went back down to skimming the surface of the sea. Also saw a fair sized flying fish which passed less than a metre from the boat and glided for 100s of yards. Aqguadulce was not a pretty place being a fishing port primarily. Had a meal ashore which was one of the very few poor meals we have had.

11 September 2004 Dep Cartegena 11092004 0630 Arr Garrucha 11092004 1300 47nm

Motorsailed the whole journey. Not allowed to fish since my arm has to remain dry and I'm not suppose to exert any pressure on the muscles. Seas were calm. Marina was full so we tied to another yacht in the fishing harbour. This resulted in most of the most peaceful nights we've had..

9 September 2004 Dep Tomas Maestre 09092004  0700 Arr Cartegena 09092004 1100 25nm

NE wind was good enough to get the sails up, lovely to be able to switch the engine off for 3 hours.  Wind inevitably died and motored for the last stretch. Nicolette's birthday today so it was appropriate that we had a fair wind. Seas a bit lumpy after 3 days of strong Easterlies. Meal out at Ricon de Callego who specialise in different ways of cooking pulpo (octopus). Simon and Kunje departed by bus the next day to Madrid and on to UK.

5 September 2004 Dep Cartegena 05092004 0800 Arr  Tomas Maestre 05092004 1400 25nm

Wind on the nose F4 but dropped to 3 later. Seas lumpy after strong Easterlies. Caught a small fish but returned it species unknown. Waited for an hour for bridge to open. Next day went into Mar Menor, an inland sea of 12nm by 6nms. Anchored off island and took dinghy ashore to swim in netted area. The Menor is full of jellyfish. Tried 2 marinas round the edges but both full so planned to anchor for the night off the island. Slipped and caught my arm on a shroud split pin. Decided to go back to Tomas Maestre. Chart failed to show extent of shallow waters so went aground a few times trying to make TM as soon as possible. Staff there v helpful took me to emergency unit in La Manga. 13 stitches. Have to have it looked every 2 days so will stay here until 9 Sept and then return to Cartegena..

31 August 2004 Dep Garruche 31082004 07700 Arr Cartegena 31082004 1500 48nm

Motor Sailed all the way. New marina. Cartegena is primarily a large naval base but is steeped in Roman history and remains which go back over 2000 years. Went to Cortes Ingles and Carrefour. Simon and Kunje arrived 2 Sept. Visited the castle and other ruins. Delayed departure with strong easterly winds.

30 August 2004 Dep Almeria 30082004 0700 Arr Garruche 30082004 1500 49nm

Hot sunny day no wind. Nice marina but no access to club facilities at all including bar or restaurant. Religious festival in town.29 August 2004 Dep Almerimar 29082004 0700 Arr Almeria 29082004 1400 21nmShort sail but hove to watch Grand Prix and for N. to go swimming. Tried trolling at low speeds for fish - no joy. Few fish in the med.

27 August 2004Dep Punta de la Mona 27082004 0615 Arr Almerimar 27082004 1300 35nm

No wind. Saw v large school of dolphins and up to 10 of them around the bow at times. Nicolette had a swim and did a bit of hull cleaning at the same time. Marina is very large but very quiet. Good laundry so spent 2 days there. Remembered eating in the marina during winter golfing holiday there. Summer prices bear no relationship to prices we paid then. Good supermarket close by.

26 August 2004 Dep Belamedana 26082004 0630 Arr Punta de la Mona 126082004 1300 39nm

Fog and F3 wind on the nose, eventually got some sail up but then wind died. Marina is very pretty and can't be seen until almost at the entrance. It is built beyond a big rock which now forms part of the breakwater. Lots of restaurants around the marina but little else. Went to the beach where everyone has snorkel gear. Must be something to see. Maybe call  in on the way back. Chilli con Carne on board.

25 August 2004 Dep Estapona 25082004 0800 Arr Belamedana 25082004 1430 34nm

Fog early on, no wind. Had a visit from the Guardia Civil whilst on route. They boarded us looking for illegal immigrants I suspect. Marina is very large with nothing much to offer. Had a lovely lasagne on board

24 August 2004 Dep Gib 24082004 0840 Arr Estapona 24082004 1340 25nm

No wind. Town is a tourist resort with nothing to offer us. Only note was that marina gave us a bottle of wine on arrival. Another town where the music starts around 2am and goes on through the night.15 August 2004 Dep Barbate 15082004 0530 Arr Gibraltar 15082004 1030 35nmDecided to leave early before the levante blew up. In the event the rounding of Tarifa was done in slight seas. We then picked up a 4ky current but we could see the slower current 20yds to port. By turning moving slightly to port we entered the slower channel and our speed dropped by 2kts.  20 yds to starboard and back up to 9kts plus. Fog in the bay but cleared as we reached the customs jetty. Went into Marina Bay. Gibraltar has changed so much physically but the essence of the place is the same since I was last there in 1976. It's enigmatic but for no reasons I can discern. Main Street is looking better but still selling high quality tat. The restaurants offer 70's style English fayre and there is the same feeling of decadence - and yet it is lovable, and there is a warmth there,  maybe it's only because of the common language but I suspect that it's more than that. One big advantage is the access now into Spain and La Linea. We went to the market there most days and had wonderful tapas on 3 or 4 occasions for lunch.Bought 2 large solar panels which will be fitted on our return. Installed CD/VHF and SSB speakers in the cockpit. Serviced the engine at 575 hrs

14 August 2004 Dep Puerto de Santa Maria 14082004 0425 Arr Barbate 14082004 1225 44nm

Our intention was to make for Gibraltar but we chose a day when the levante (east wind) was blowing very strongly. The wind started at F3 on the nose but increased after Cape Trafalgar. Approaching Tarifa the wind was in excess of 25kts but the sea state was becoming rough. We therefore elected to go into Barbate. Nothing much there except a nice promenade into town.  A disco party started up close by at 0200hrs and was still in full swing when we left

11 August 2004 Dep Mazagon 110802004 0630 Arr Puerto de Santa Maria (Cadiz) 1400 46nm

A very pleasant yacht club run marina. Allowed us to stay 3 days and offered us use of all the facilities including swimming pool and tennis courts. Town is lovely and we had "Spanish Fish and Chips". No chips and the fish is anything from octopus to hake. The only similarity is that it is served in paper cones, which are taken outside to a table and eaten with beer or other ordered drink.  Went to Cadiz next day by ferry which takes about 30 minutes and visited the old part of Cadiz. Lunch out. Next day we went to the local market. Best yet, the fish beautifully presented. Bought Mero (grouper) which was v good. Lazy day followed apart from visit to market for more fish.

10 August 2004Dep VR do SA 10082004 0740  Arr Mazagon 10082004 1300  32nm

Motor sailed with v light winds. Caught 1 mackerel which Nicolette made fishcakes of and which were enough for dinner. Disn't go round the town which was some 2kms away.8 August 2004 Dep Vilamura 08082004 0830 Arr Vila Real do Santo Antonio 08082004 1630 41nmThick fog marked our departure which cleared after 3 hours. No wind until the last 2 hours then enough to motor sail. Caught 2 mackerel which were lovely. Plan was to go to Ayamonte on the Spanish side of he border but it was full so we went across the river and still in Portugal. The town was destroyed in 1755 and rebuilt with grid system roads. The shops were all selling cheap linen and cotton goods. A mystery. Passed set of tuna nets on the way. Entrance was v shallow. Had really fresh tuna second night there.

7 August 2004 Dep Portimao 07082004 0730 Arr Vilamura 07082004 1500 21nm

Motored for a while then with 8 kts of wind raised the cruising chute. Had a lovely sail for a couple of hours until the wind died completely. The beach then prawns on board. Vilamura is very touristy and the most expensive marina so far at 39€ a night. Woke up to rain. Time to go.

6 August 2004 Dep Lagos 06082004 0930 Arr Portimao 06082004 1300 7nm

Drifted on 5kts of wind to enjoy a peaceful day at sea. Went to the beach on arrival and took the bus in the evening to Portimao. Found the sardine stalls and restaurants and realised it was where I'd been some years before but in winter to play golf. Sardines were very good

4 August 2004 Dep Sines 04082004 0300 Arr Lagos 04082004 1500 89nm

An Island Packet 39 asked to follow us since they were wary of going round St Vincent. Clear skies and no wind all the way to and round St. Vincent. Then the wind got up to a F7. Mizzen dropped in a hurry since we had full weather helm. Left main up but spilled air as necessary. 4 rolls in the Genoa at one time. Island Packet wanted to sail upright so we had the legs on her until the wind dropped. Canal type entrance to Lagos and foot bridge lifted on demand. Had mini stuffed squid and a fish stew the next day for lunch. Good market, bought a 1kg Anchovy - fantastic.

1 August 2004 Dep Cascais 01082004 0700 Arr Sines 01082004 1530. 50nm

Very thick fog after 30mins. Without radar would have returned to Cascais. Caught 2 sizeable mackerel which we had for lunch. The best mackerel ever, totally different in flavour because they were so fresh. Sines is a lovely laid back, non touristy town. Delayed sailing a day because of very heavy fog.

30 July 2004 Dep Peniche 30072004 0630 Arr. Cascais 30072004 1430. 46nm

Picked up a wind after Cabo de Roca and made a good 5kts. It was so satisfying to have some sail up at last. Offshore wind made approach to reception pontoon very difficult. Tapas on board and sardines ashore. Next day to Lisbon. Train journey only €1.20. Lisbon is a most beautiful city, fantastic buildings, wide avenues, friendly folk and a lovely ambience. Had a great day. Ate snails in the castle. Cuttlefish for lunch.  On return gate crashed a regatta prize and enjoyed their hospitality

29 July 2004 Dep.Figueara da Foz 29072004 0630 Arr. Peniche 29072004 1510. 57nm

Clear skies but no wind. Caught 3 small mackerel but returned them. Saw shark and had company of large school of dolphins. Rafted up in busy fishing harbour, lots of wash and fishing boats in and out all night. Very noisy. Went to festival of sardines which were very good. This after a meal of ray cooked on board.

27 July 2004 Dep. Leixoes 27072004 0900 Arr.27072004 1800. 69nm

No wind, poor vis.  Lovely market and nice lunch. Owner showed us the choice of food to overcome language barrier.25 July 2004 Dep. Viana do Costelo 25072004 0800 Arr. Leixoes 25072004 1430. 36nm Motor sailed with very light winds. Set up TV on PC and got wonderful reception to watch Grand Prix . Reduced speed to ensure we didn't arrive during race. Visited Porto. A city of steps. Had an excellent lunch for only €10 for 2 soup, paella, wine

24 July 2004 Dep La Bayona 24072004 0730 Arr. Viana do Costelo (Portugal ) 24072004 1400. 34nm

High pressure over the Azores and no pressure gradient at all continues to deny us of any wind. Sea breezes are fickle but not apparent until late afternoon. Caught and lost a salmon or salmon trout. Bow to mooring

21 July 2004 Dep. Portosin 21072004 0500 Arr. La Bayona 21072004 1230. 47nm

Flat calm and fog. Lots of swimming crabs. Bow to moorings. Glad we have ladder to hang off bowsprit. Visited Vigo   (lovely fish soup). Best ever paella in Bayona and bought and cooked percebes - a prehistoric looking barnacle with a single claw on top of  a 2-3cm leathery type tube. Unique taste nearest equivalent would be winkles.

18 July 2004 Dep Camarinas 180704 0550 Arr. Portosin 180704 1200. 41nm

Flat calm, fog and rain and lots of swimming crabs. A ray of sunshine as we entered Ria de Muros. Went to Noya to join in mediaeval festival. Great fun. Visited Santiago, heavy rain there. Very swish yacht club

16 Jul 4004Dep. La Corunna 160704 0420 Arr. Camarinas 160704 1400.  47nm

Wind N4 so good sail 5kts + winds increased in Ria to Camarinas. town  is surrounded by wind farms. Big fiesta in progress as we arrived - thought it was army playing war games.

9 July 2004 Dep. Falmouth 090704 1900 Arr. La Corunna Spain160704 080. 430nm

Motored for the first 10 hours but eventually got the sails up and made 5-6 kts until last 20 hours when wind died again. Saw schools of dolphins, minke whales and sunfish. Caught a 5kg blue finned tuna. Biscay was kind to us, rain and dull but good sailing. Arrived early off La Corunna so waited until daybreak before entering. Sun came out as we arrived and a beautiful day promised.

4 July 2004 Dep. Weymouth 040704 1500 Arr. Falmouth 050704 0700. 113nm

Wind WNW 1-2 motor sailed all the way27 June 2004 Dep Hamble 270604 0830 Arr. Weymounth 270604 1900. 51nmWind dead ahead motored all the way (as ever) Lumpy seas off St Albans Ledge, quartering from there.

20 June 2004 Dep Dover 200604 0715 Arr. Mercury Point Hamble1080604 1630. 49nm.

Wind on the nose. Took Looe channel off Selsey Bill and got knocked down. Stowage plan tested and proved OK

18 June 2004 Dep. Dover1806040830 Arr. Brighton  180604 1900. 60nm

Wind on the nose 4-5, took inner passage around Beachy Head 0.3nm off. Quartering seas, rain..

15 June 2004 Dep.  Bridlington 150604 12.30  Arr.. 160604 23110. 204nm

Wind forecast NW but was S or SE 2 to 5 seas confused . Glad to be leaving the North Sea and heading South. No chance to sail; motor or motor sailed.