Monday, 24 June 2013

Pictures from Bequia

Internet access at last.

We are now in Mayreau, having lunch in a cafe overlooking Union island, really pretty.

Bequia pics below.

Our Island Taxi tour


Port Elizabeth from Fort Hamilton

Seafront cottage, note the fishing net drying on the wall.
The 'Harpooner'!
Whaling museum, painted on a whales jawbone!
Just in case you were in any doubt as to how it was done!
Rescuing the 'Ark Royal'!
A rainy Tuesday!

Beach cave - The entrance to the start of our snorkelling and near where we had sundowners

Diving pics below all taken at Moonhole.

Elkhorn Coral off 'Moonhole'

A Queen Conch - Not in a fishmarket!
Spot the Scopion fish
Spotted Moray with Arrow Crabs, one in front,one behind.
Trumpet fish on the reef
Something we forgot to put on the Bequia blog.
The first morning we were in Bequia, three of us were doing our water aerobics off the back of Vivace when we saw a large dark shape and a fin in the water! Within seconds we were out the water and on the bathing platform, hearts beating like mad.Turned out to be a stingray about 5ft across and the "fin" was one of its wingtips. There were three swimming round together, two smaller ones. A different way to get your heartbeat up when you are exercising!


Thursday, 20 June 2013



Today is Tuesday 18th June 2013 and we are sitting down below with the lights on at 11:00!! Just as we were about to set off for water aerobics it began to rain and has not really stopped since. There are occasional wild gusts and heavy downpours but no sun at all in between.  It reminds us of sailing back home! Except of course Richard is wearing only shorts and I have on a little beach dress and we are not missing Rebels Webasto heater.

Bequia is a tiny island, 7 square miles, with lovely bays, hills and lowlands covered in green forest. We are anchored almost at the end of Tony Gibbons (Princess Margaret)  beach which is separated from Lower Bay by a volcanic outcrop forming a natural stone cave and archway. We had several  fun evenings  here when different  boats met for sundowners as the beach faces west.

The cave is also an entry for a lovely snorkel  towards Lower Bay. The reef is populated with many varieties of juvenile fish including damsels, parrotfish and grunts. Our best sightings were  spotted moray, yellowy nudibranches  feeding on yellowy algae, juvenile longfin damselfish and redfin blennies.

Port Elizabeth really has two streets, Front Street and Back Street with all kinds of shops from vegetable stalls, and craft workers to art galleries and sailmakers and chandlers interspersed with cafes and restaurants. The hub is a huge leafy almond tree (a local almond, not European variety) on the sea side under which the taxis wait and many stallholders gather. It is a lively and interesting  place to wander around.

There are several supermarkets with an amazing choice between them. There is a vegetable and a fish market so you certainly don’t go hungry here. Some of the vegetables are local and some come from St. Vincent – there is a ferry three times a day!

We went diving with Dive Bequia (they offer a  good discount to cruisers. Our first dive was round at Moonhole on the western tip of the island. Maximum depth was 14m but we were promised seahorses. At first there was a lot of rubble with sandy areas and it did not look promising, but then it blossomed.  It was not very sunny and the corals, sponges, many sea fans and seaplumes gave a beautiful and slightly eerie atmosphere.

There were dozens of banded and cleaner shrimp, and lobsters in every crevice.  A big spotted scorpionfish lay unmoving on top of coral confident in his camouflage. At last I saw Queen Conch moving on the sand, so far I have only seen them dead or curled up in their shell.

The variety of fish was really good and finally Steve, our dive guide, summoned us. A Seahorse!! But he was not being very cooperative and was lying along the sand, his tail curled round the base of a seafan and his face hidden in the growth. So, no good pictures

That evening I took the camera ashore, out of its housing to show the others the pictures. Getting back into the dingy as we were leaving I dropped it in the water, and now I have no camera! I feel as though part of me has been amputated.

On Monday we dived at Devils Table on the north side of the bay. A tugboat was purposely sunk 15 years ago in about 20m. As soon as I saw the wreck, I once again deeply regretted the loss of the camera. It sits upright and is covered in purple gorgonians with fish swimming in and out, and lobsters lying in rows under her bottom. The light shines through the portholes and fish dart out against a background of gorgonian silhouettes. We saw a tiny whitenose pipefish, and fireworms all over the wreck reminded us of Gozo. Big schools of Creole Wrasse swam at their usual fast pace only outrun by a school of Crevalle Jack, a pelagic fish we had not seen before.

From the wreck we swam over a bed of eelgrass populated by hundreds of tiny juvenile fish, mainly bicolour damselfish (Chocolate Dips in the Red Sea).The dive ended on a beautiful rocky reef covered in corals, sponges, shrimps and all the other reef life.

The board in the bottom of the gas locker which has two holes to keep the cylinders upright has broken in half. We found Caribbean Woods over in Hamilton who are making us a replacement  – next day service!  They are near GYE where we dropped off the propane cylinder to be refilled.

The propeller and prop shaft are covered in weed and growth again and there are small barnacles on top of the rudder and various other crevices. There are tiny crabs that run away when you pull off tufts of green algae. Yesterday when we looked underneath we saw that we have now acquired a small school of 2cm baby Sergeant Majors round the top of the rudder!  If we are not careful we will soon  look like the Flying Dutchman in Pirates of the Caribbean.

So, yesterday we donned masks and fins and armed with brushes and green scourers  we went down to reclaim Galene’s bottom from the sea.

Occasionally when we have been doing water aerobics we have had tiny stings from an invisible creature. Sometimes they leave a little red lump, sometimes not. They are Sea Ants, larvae of the Sea Thimble, a jellyfish.

Well, I went down and began to give the rudder a good brush. There must have been a colony of Sea Ants in the weed because I was stung all over my face, into my hair, my neck and even under my arms. I went up and dowsed myself in vinegar which helped a bit, but had a red rash all over the stung area, I suppose because there were so many stings. I put antihistamine cream on and took an antihistamine tablet but I was in excruciating pain for several hours. The funny side – not that I thought so at the time – was that because of the stings under my arms I could not put them down as it hurt more, so I was lolling in the cockpit with my arms folded over my head. Not very comfortable.

Anyway, this morning it is mostly gone, just now and then I get a little tingle here and there.

There is a cruisers radio net here on Ch. 68 at 0800 each day, run by Cheryl who also runs the Fig Tree restaurant, which is good at keeping us all informed of anything happening in Bequia.

 Cheryl also runs a reading group at her restaurant for island children every other Saturday afternoon. She asked for volunteers from the cruisers and we decided to go along. I had the youngest group 3/5 year olds and Richard had 7/8 year olds. It was quite hard work keeping the little ones entertained for an hour, but Richard found his got very involved. Then all the groups got up in turns and reviewed their books. A very rewarding afternoon as the children really seemed to be enjoying the group. Afterwards Cheryl told us that she believes some children have no books at home! They are allowed to borrow three each week, and can swop them as long as they bring them back which she says is teaching them responsibility as well. They all get a drink and a cup cake afterwards and can then play scrabble and games until home time.
Six of us did an island tour by taxi and went round more or less everywhere in 5 hours including lunch at Sugar Reef overlooking a lovely beach. We both had roti, Richard fish and I had chana aubergine and they came with a delicious pawpaw, raisin and chilli salsa. We drove up to Fort Hamilton which is now only foundations, but there are a few English and French cannon, reflecting their slightly tumultuos past.
We saw Friendship Bay where boats have been built on the beach since the 18th century. This is also the home of the whalers and the whale boats. Our drivers(Lubin) brother is the chief whaler and we could see them down on the beach near their boat. Bequia is allowed to catch 4 whales per year as an aboriginal right. This year they did catch their quota but many years they do not get any. Everyone we spoke to loves whale meat!
 Fortunately, this is slowly dying out because they can only use traditional methods and apparantly the youngsters are not really interested. The whaler has to throw the harpoon by hand, so they have to get really close to the whale which is bigger than their boat. The whales are butchered on small island in the bay and everyone comes to get a share.Lubin says no-one eats their last piece of whale meat until they have more! Traditionally, what is not eaten is salted to keep.
We had a short stop at the Whale Museum, which is very homespun and most exhibits showing their age. There are some good apparantly new paintings of whaling on whalebone and quite a few old whalebones lying around. A teenage girl showed us around, another whale meat fan.
Next stop was Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary. Brother King,an ex- turtle-spearfisherman, collects baby turtles and raises them until they are 5 years oldwhen he releases them. They then have a much better chance of survival in the wild. There is one turtle who has a hole drilled in the edge of her shell and I asked him why. She is 25years old, his pet. When he goes diving to collect food for the turtles he takes her along on a lead.
It was a very interesting outing and a glimpse of a completely different way of life.

One day, hoping to make town in between the showers we watched a smalll local sailing boat capsize in a sudden gust. The three teenagers on board tried unsucessfully to right her as she was completely full of water. We went over to help, collecting their dagger board on the way. Another dingy arrived as well and the two if us towed them to the beach. During all this it started pouring with rain so we arrived in town completely soaked. It is a locally made wooden boat with a bamboo mast named "Ark Royal", so we are probably the only dingy that can claim to have towed the "Ark Royal". 

We are still here because there have been two Tropical Waves going over causing big swells and high winds. It should all be over by Thursday when we will leave for Mayreau  or Canouan.

We can't seem to upload the photos so we are going to publish without and try the photos somewhere else.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Marigot Bay Again

Tuesday 4th June. We are off to Marigot bay, a gentle sail of 9 miles, full of water, petrol (Gasoline) and Diesel we are ready for anything!

On arriving at Marigot we are met by the usual fruit sellers, and guys trying to sell you a mooring ball at an extortionate price. These moorings are not licenced or sanctioned by the harbour authority and are not usually well maintained so use them at your own risk! We politely decline the mooring ball offer and anchor on the North side of the outer harbour under the watchful eye of a fresh fruit vendor. We are in front of ‘Vivace’ and can see ‘Impressionist’ coming in behind us.
Typical 'Boat Boy'

We get away with a ‘deal’ from the fruit seller; we now have enough fruit to cross an ocean. The quality is usually excellent and we have Star fruit, Mangoes and Bananas. You cannot help but feel sorry for these guys as the season is almost over and the next few months they will have good fruit but few customers.
Marigot bay

Sun downers at  the beach rum shack is as pretty as ever, there is only the one bar open (there were 4 earlier in the season). It is an overcast evening and even the locals are staying at home. The shops in the marina village are mainly closed and we have supper at Mygo’s on the waterfront with ‘Impressionist’ and ‘Vivace’. One night here is enough; we will clear customs tomorrow and overnight at Soufriere before heading for Bequia.

A note to anyone following in our wake, don’t tell customs you are going to the Pitons they will charge you a mooring permit fee. Just say you are going to Soufriere. The mooring permit system has been abolished but the customs guys are still implementing it, just pay the mooring fee to the park rangers at the Pitons or Soufriere.
Arriving at the Pitons

The mooring between the Pitons is spectacular, the wind and current makes the yachts lie at odd angles to each other. We have cows grazing in the hillside and a beautiful backdrop of the impressive Pitons and at dusk the bats from Bat Cave come out and fly around us, hopefully eating any mosquitos venturing off shore.
Piton Moorings

Up at 05.00, we are sailing south, there is a small flotilla doing the same, ‘Impressionist’, ‘Vivace’, ourselves and ‘Panache’ a large catamaran.

We set off with a reef in the main but are motoring as there is very little wind in the lee of the island. Eventually the wind manages to pick up and we set full sail. We can see St Vincent to the south but we need to head slightly west to get out of the foul current round the bottom of St Lucia, we will pick up our easting later as the wind is ENE and will give us a fast reach.

The forecast 20kt winds have not arrived and we have probably the best sail in between the islands so far, 15Kts and 1-2m seas, we are sailing nicely at 5-6kts. The NW coast of St Vincent produces a few gusts of 24kts, (a good test for our new autopilot). The new pilot steers the boat well on coastal passages that would have our Hydrovane sailing us all over the place.

We decided not to stop in St. Vincent as we are still getting mixed reports on theft and serious hassle from "Boat Boys". It is a pity as the island is very scenic with many really pretty anchorages. We hope next year things will have settled down so that we can visit.
St Vincent

On the leeward side of the island we lose the wind and have to motor for a couple of hours, the wind will soon come and it does! The gap between St Vincent and Bequia is noted for its windy and rough conditions. Today conditions are fairly benign but it is easy to see how things could get rough with wind against the current. We head for the north of Bequia and watch the current take us towards our destination of Port Elizabeth and the anchorage of Admiralty bay.
Admiralty Bay Bequia

We anchor off Princess Margaret Beach, a beautiful spot. A quick swim in crystal clear water.  Juvenile angel fish among others underneath the boat. Customs and Immigration will wait until tomorrow morning.
Bequia is beautiful!

Yes-The sunset really was this colour!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Rodney Bay again!

The trip from Fort de France to Rodney Bay, St Lucia was uneventful if a bit boisterous. We rushed to get here on the Friday afternoon to collect the parcel only to miss the marina office by 10 minutes. We subsequently discovered that the parcel was at Customs not the Marina office! Why couldn’t Customs have mentioned they had a parcel for me when I checked in? Oh well, welcome to the Caribbean!

We spent the weekend fitting the new Autohelm unit. Hopefully it will do the job. We have heard good reports of its performance so we will give it a good test on the way to Bequia.

We are sitting here waiting for a ‘Tropical wave’ to go through: this is a somewhat disorganised weather system that produces unsettled weather, strong winds, clouds and rain. It is not the best weather to go sailing so we will wait a few days for better weather. While we are here we will do a few jobs and decide where we will go next. We still haven’t decided if we will go to St Vincent on the way to Bequia. There are mixed reports on the security situation, we will check the latest updated information rather than relying on scuttlebutt.

While we are here we have modified our rain catcher/shade cover for the aft deck. Hopefully this will work better in both modes. Where would we be without our vintage 1908 Singer sewing machine! We have also looked at modifying our boom tent to give us shade and a view of our surroundings. It works well in protecting us from the elements,as it was originally designed, while at anchor or in harbour, but unfortunately we cannot see very much of the outside world with it up. It goes right down to the guardwires so we have no idea what the neighbours are up to! It makes sitting at anchor far too boring.

 While at anchor we have changed the engine oil and replaced our worn and tired genoa sheets.

Normally we would swim off the boat but the strong winds have made the bay rather choppy, so swimming is unpleasant. Squally rain showers and extra strong gusts of wind all day and night have us opening and closing hatches and port lights with annoying regularity.

The social whirl continues, meeting new crews of ‘Nemo’ and ‘Beyzano’. The Nemo’s introduced themselves to us as we have mutual friends on ‘Tulu’. Can my liver stand the pace?

Rodney bay Marina is a little sad really. The marina is quiet compared to the buzz there was in January. The boatyard is quite full with boats hauled out for the summer and some of the bars and cafĂ©’s have closed. It feels a bit like an out of season holiday resort, which I suppose is what it is.

Fishermans co-op with Frigate birds fighting over the scraps as thr fishermen clean their catch.
The local Farmers market still runs on a Saturday morning although with fewer stalls and the Fishermens co-op still sells fresh caught fish.
Delicious local Grapefruit
Local "Apples" the texture is like a very crisp cucumber and they have a delicate sweet flavour. Very refreshing.
It is always nice to return to a familiar place but it is time to move on. The weather is improving so we will continue to head south.