Tuesday morning up early and out exploring in the car. First, we went to West End and, after following a sand road for a while, came across Trattoria Tramonto where we enjoyed the views of Shoal Bay while sipping a cappuccino and deciding where to go next!

On the way we found a back track which took us along the cliffs overlooking Road Bay so got a couple of shots of the anchorage and Morphie swinging on her hook…. We also saw the salt pond behind which is just one of many that abound on this island – although I haven’t seen any evidence of the salt actually being processed commercially. 

Moving on we decided to visit the bays along the north of the island – and came across Blanchards which has become famous by the book called “Trip to the beach – living on island time in the Caribbean” This is one of the best fine dining restaurants in the Caribbean apparently – but we gave it a miss – as our preference today is for a nice lunch and eat back on board later…. Food and drinks here in Anguilla are pretty expensive because of import taxes and there really isn’t a happy hour culture so not many special offers around!

 Having now covered the whole island pretty much, including visiting The Valley – the capital – I have to say that Anguilla is one of the friendliest places we’ve ever visited. Only one rastaman hissing through his teeth at us when we stopped to take some photographs – and guard dogs running out of their properties to chase the car down the tracks….with mad staring eyes and looking like they fancy eating us pretty soon! Not sure what you would do if you broke down out here…get eaten or starve to death waiting for rescue in the middle of the scrub???!!!

Anyway… back to impressions of the island… Anguilla is hard to describe as it feels like a large rock with a flat top – so all the roads are flat until you come to go up and down to the bays and numerous spectacular beaches. The locals live in relatively simple housing with the odd interspersed fancy villa. There appears to have been a bit of a building boom as loads of properties and land is advertised for sale and unfinished properties are everywhere – so looks like the economic downturn was felt here. Most of the resorts / villas / condos are perched on cliffs or nestled down on the beaches themselves. From the main road you wouldn’t know they existed apart from the signs pointing you in that direction. Otherwise there is little agriculture but lots of heritage sites with old white wooden boarded properties and original churches dating back a couple of centuries. What I really like is the road names – all named after influential people – so have driven down Albert Hughes Drive and Rupert Carty Drive in the last couple of days.

We decided that we really couldn’t come to Anguilla and not explore any of the fancy resorts and to see if we can get some beach time surrounded by luxury. First stop was Cap Julaca – very pleased to see us and welcomed us into the hotel. The beach was stunningly beautiful – and empty! Nobody about at all… but we were not welcome to use their beach furniture even for a fee…. so we moved on relatively quickly.

Next stop was the Viceroy. Wow this place is something else. Chrome and glass edges with infinity pools and a vast collection of stunning wooden art strategically placed around the place. Were made very welcome and had a special cocktail in the Sunset Lounge while we were there. Really enjoyed this place.

Moved on then to find somewhere for a late lunch – so went to D’Avida in Crocus Bay, had a nice lunch and were able to use their lovely beach chairs for a few hours while we chatted, snoozed and bobbed.


Oh well…time to go back… got back on board, quickly got cleaned up, and headed off to The Pumphouse for a couple of drinks. By the time we got back to Morphie – only about 8.00 pm – we didn’t fancy dinner so just listened to the wind and waves lapping doing some star gazing before turning in for an early night.

On Wednesday we had organised a trip over to Sandy Island – this is a desert island in the middle of the sea with just a beach bar / restaurant on it. While waiting for the ferry to come and pick us up we got talking to a local sitting on the end of the dock. His name is Bernard St Joseph Richardson aka Ragamuffin Jimmy and his dog Black Jimmy. What a hoot – looks like a ragbag but is actually a property owner and a highly educated architect. Just shows the truth that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover!

The ferry powerboat arrived, and we are the only ones boarding – so off we go at speed into very rough swelly seas and eventually got through the reef and waded ashore. This was great fun! Sandy Island is a little reef-surrounded oasis – unfortunately the swells meant that the snorkelling gear was redundant – so we just lazed around, bobbed (with beer as we weren’t responsible for the boat today), and had a fantastic crayfish lunch.  Wandering around the island we came across the remains of the bow section of a large yacht – and the staff told us that the guy had anchored the other side of the reef and came ashore and when the wind changed direction he dragged his anchor and the boat was quickly trashed on the reef.   Ouch!!   

During the day we got talking to Jeff and Tania from Dallas – the only Texans we know who don’t ride, don’t have horses or even possess a pair of cowboy boots! They also don’t work in oil… Seriously they were great fun – and on their honeymoon too, so congratulations again – and we spent the rest of the day with them, including bobbing and copious amounts of beer! They were staying at the Viceroy so was nice that we had visited there…very envious of them having a bath! I miss that option….

Back to Road Bay and we said our goodbyes…and Richard didn’t want to go back on board just yet. It was only 5pm…. so went to Elvis’ beach bar and had a few sundowners. Going back to the boat at 7 o’clock the heavens opened – we got absolutely soaked through. Didn’t stay up for long and just had an early night.

Today we are staying on board Morphie all day – boat jobs to be done, including some hand washing, and doing the pilotage for our next adventure. Tomorrow we are heading down island to visit St Barts so this is a non-alcohol day. We have to go ashore to check out with customs and immigration – but that’s it. So a bit of swimming off the back later maybe if we get all the jobs done….and general lazing around. So tomorrow we leave but a little bit of my heart will stay in Anguilla as this is a really special place.

Bye for now


Exploring Anguilla

Sunday morning we decided to arrange to hire a car for a couple of days and tour the island. This was done through customs and immigration – they are really helpful in organising everything for you. Job done – car is being delivered to car park at 9.00 am Monday morning. So we went for a stroll and had a look around Road Bay and Sandy Ground village and beach.  Loads of locals out on Sunday enjoying family life together.  Lovely to watch.   Came across Roy’s Bayside Grill serving roast beef and Yorkshire pudding Sunday lunch – and quite a few expats seemed to be enjoying this homely treat.

Went back towards the dinghy dock and heard Jazz music coming from Johnno’s bar. Went to explore – oh what a treat – fantastic combo considering these guys don’t play together all of the time. At one stage there was an 11 year old kid playing the drums and a young female vocalist who had such an amazing voice it gave me goosebumps! Leisurely afternoon and chilled out on Morphie for the evening.

Up early Monday and collected the car – no island time here, they were even early!   Anguilla drives on the left but left-hand drive vehicle so I’m now in the middle of the road as the passenger facing on-coming traffic.  Not sure about that bit, particularly as Richard has left his Alain Prost tendencies back in French St Martin – today he’s James Hunt (the Shunt)….

Anguilla is a small island only 16 miles long by 3 miles wide and has a population of about 13,000 people who rely pretty much exclusively on tourism.  From the commercialism of St Martin / Saint Maarten it is nice to visit a Caribbean island that has a more rustic feel to it.    So we plan to make the most of it and explore every nook and cranny with the car over the next two days.   We set off towards the East End of the island hoping to find a nice restaurant overlooking a bay for breakfast – we found a beach shack called Nat’s place but no breakfast. Ended up in a cafe at St James’ Medical School surrounded by students….breakfast was good though.

Anyway….had a wonderful day, including some beach time, some exploring of nice resorts which welcome non-residents, and saw some heritage sites, particularly old churches. Too much to cover so will let the pictures do the talking…


In the evening we went into Elvis’ bar and had a really interesting chat with a local guy who runs a charter catamaran. He was hiding from his English wife as she wanted him to do some food shopping and he wanted to drink beer. Anyway….we left and headed to Ripples the English pub looking for some pub grub for dinner. Ripples, it turns out, is run by his wife so we didn’t mention the fact that we had been drinking with him 10 minutes earlier!!! Anyway…he blew his cover later…when he turned up and said “I know these guys”….


Had fantastic meal of cottage pie / steak and Guinness pie with real vegetables followed by blackberry and apple crumble with custard. Oh dear – naughty but nice – and to bed with a full stomach.  

Today – Tuesday – we’re planning to carry on exploring the island by car.

Bye for now



Goodbye St Martin, hello Anguilla

Woke up bright and early even though we didn’t have any plans for the day…. so we got on with boat jobs. Richard fixed the running lights, the helm seat and a security lock – I gave Morphie another wash and brush up. This took the whole morning…..

At lunchtime we went ashore and had a look at the Lo Los – these are local restaurants all bunched together on the beachfront serving a variety of BBQ food. Spotted the one we fancied and had a fantastic chicken and ribs lunch. A bit piggy as we already had reservations for dinner at Ocean 82 in the evening – but didn’t want to miss out on the local ambience.

Had a leisurely afternoon on the beach and went back to Morphie to get ready for dinner. Showered and cleaned up we headed back in for dinner and were not disappointed. This French restaurant is relatively new – old building, new owners who have refurbished it – and was very busy compared to others around. The food is excellent – Richard had a special Mahi Mahi dish and I had a lamb shank with fettucine and asparagus. All washed down with a very nice Chablis. It was so good we dug in and demolished it before we remembered to take photos! So we are forced to have a desert to rectify this error. Molton chocolate cake for Richard and Tarte Tatin for me……

Back on board completely full up and to bed…. On Friday morning we decided to leave Grand Case and return to Marigot Bay to check out of the French islands. But before we did, we walked the whole of the beach and enjoyed the quietness of the hour.

Back on board, got ready to go, and we headed out. We had a nice downwind sail until we spotted a big squall coming – as we were pretty close to Marigot by then we quickly dropped the sails and motored the last bit in. Anchored easily in shallow water and had a quiet afternoon and evening on board after checking out at customs / immigration for the following day.

During the evening we used our new Navionics app on the iPad to passage plan our trip in the morning to Anguilla. It was only 16 miles with a few hazards along the way to avoid. Double checked with the physical charts and plugged the waypoints in. Ready to go so to bed.

Saturday we got up early and were out of Marigot by 9 am… Bye St Martin – we enjoyed our visit.

Back to feast or famine – guess what, really really light winds although 15 knots forecast. So we did our best – under headsail alone for a while – but when the wind dropped to 5 knots we gave up and started motoring across the Anguilla passage. As we rounded the island by Anguillita the wind picked up and we beat up the side of the island as the winds strengthened and strengthened. We ended up reefing down again as the wind got to 28 knots.

A few hours later we pulled into Road Bay, Anguilla. We got dink back down off the davits, took down the French flag,hoisted the yellow Quarantine flag, and had a couple of sandwiches. After lunch we went ashore to check in – going via Blue Pearl a 38 ft Island Packet we had met in December in Red Hook to say hi.

Checked in – what a delight – two forms, no fees and brilliant welcoming smiles! Anguilla is a British island which was lumped together in 1967 with St Kitts and Nevis to make them an autonomous state. The Anguillans wanted to remain British so they had a skirmish with the islanders of St Kitts and have remained British every since.

After checking in we walked Road Bay beach and ended up in Johnno’s beach bar where we met Glen and Pam from Blue Pearl. Had a great time and ended up back on board their boat – beautiful and spacious is the way to describe it, amazing how much one foot can make a difference! – for a few sundowners. Back to Morphie, quickly raised the proper courtesy flag, had something to eat and then to bed.


Anguilla has some restrictions on boats anchoring – only two bays on the whole island are permissible for overnight stops – the rest are day places only. And to visit the national park islands by boat also requires an expensive cruising permit – even though you have to return to Road Bay every night. So we’ve decided not to do it this way – we’ll be tourists and potentially visit by day tripper boat. Also plan to get a car and explore again. But nothing fixed yet – we need to watch the weather window for our next move as there appears to be some rough stuff coming through on Thursday. This morning we are talking through our options and reading the guide books.

Bye for now


Touring St Martin (and food glorious food)..

Up bright and early wanting to make the most of having a car to explore….so had a quick shower and we were on our way. First stop was for breakfast. What fantastic pastries and coffee – has to be done whilst in a French territory!

Filled up to the brim we headed off into the hills. We wanted to go to Peak Paradis… and eventually found the small road leading to it – not helped by the pretty poor signage and sketchy road map! This minor road barely had room for two cars to pass – but at least it was tarmac… At which point we picked up a local guy who flagged us down – he was going up to the big houses in the mountains to do some gardening work and wanted a lift. Against my better judgment – being the suspicious one of us – Richard stopped and gave him a lift. Actually he was a really nice chatty old man and I felt bad about not trusting him initially.

After dropping him off we run out of tarmac and are now on mud / stones only going up into the forest. Then we came across a wide bit – big enough to turn round – and I wanted to turn back as the road ahead was just one big vertical muddy pot hole and I wasn’t sure our little runabout would cope. Richard got out and went for a wander to check what lay ahead – and he said that it got worse and turned virtually into a footpath suitable only for mountain goats. So we turned around and went back to the original viewing platform. This is really a beautiful place.

Coming back down we went to Loterie Farm with the intention of swimming in their spring-fed freshwater pool and laze for a short while. But they wanted €20 or $28 each for the privilege. I guess if you were staying for the afternoon it was worth it – but we thought for an hour or so it was a bit steep so declined and had a diet coke in their beautiful lounge area before moving on. This Farm also has zip wires, mountain hikes and high altitude jungle paths through the treetops – none of which interested us this time round. Must be getting old or something!

Moving on we drove to Grand Case – this is the gastronomic centre of French St Martin – so we thought this would be the perfect place for a late lunch. What a delight. Nice sandy beaches and a long road full of restaurants – all very chic and some Conran style while others were more rustic with BBQ offerings….so catering for all sizes of wallet.

We decided to go with the menu we fancied most and ended up in a beautiful restaurant overlooking the beach / anchorage. We had a fantastic lunch – mine was roasted mahi mahi on a confit of tomatoes with Serrano ham. Richard’s was a Caribbean fish pot with mussels, fish and lobster. Amazing – topped off with a glass of Chablis. Well – actually – I drank 1 ½ glasses as Richard was driving and they were generous measures!

Back in the car we went to Friar’s Bay and took the hike through to Happy Beach. One of the guys we had met in the marina said that this was the most beautiful secluded place….and worth the 15 mins walk over the headland. We arrived – and the place was busy with a large contingent of nudists. He forgot to mention that bit! Richard got in the mood by stripping off to change into his swimmers while I struggled behind a towel to change – much to his amusement. Had a nice chilled few hours bobbing (with water) on the beach and watching all the goings on. Richard had quite a lot to look at – all I got was middle-aged old men with pot bellies showing off their less than impressive bits!

Back across the headland again to pick up the car and we headed back to the marina. It was around sixish and the marina is pretty well lit so we took the opportunity of having an unlimited supply of fresh water to give Morphie a bath. She thoroughly enjoyed getting rid of her encrusted salt crystals! Job done – also did some laundry – and then had a quiet night on board with a late evening snack of crackers and cheese and nice French wine to round off the day.

Up early – the car has to be back by 11 am – so headed straight over to the Dutch side to Budget Marine to get new drinking glasses for Morphie. All of them were pretty manky after four years in charter – so it was great to get new sparkly ones just for us. Job done and then we went to the bakery to get our fresh bread. Managed to shop in French without a word of English or hysterical laughter – accent must be getting better!

Back on board and slipped out of the marina into Marigot Bay where we anchored up again. We wanted to get some petrol but the marina only sold diesel – so Richard dinked round into the lagoon to the local petrol station. He was gone for quite a while…. and I realised that we really should think this through in future and make sure that he has at least his phone or our handheld VHF with him!

Anyway…lesson learnt…and eventually he came back. With a sheepish look on his face when I asked him how much it cost for 15 litres of petrol… What? €50? Seriously? Anyway….he then told me the tale. He picked up the pump that said Gasoline – it had a black hose – so he thought it was petrol. After a while some guy asked him why he was filling up dink with diesel? Ooops….so he had to empty both the tank and the spare can into a big drum…and start again, remembering to mix in the two-stroke oil. I thought it was funny…. Men eh? Just can’t ask for help when they might just need it!

Time to leave – we are going to take Morphie around to Grand Case which is only about 6 miles away, although an upwind slog, so we’ll probably do closer to 9 by the time we get there. Motored through the anchorage and out into the channel and got our sails up. Having been hit by poor forecasting before, we were very cautious and put reefs in our sails. Good job we did – first gust topped 29 knots. The waves were picking up at around 7 feet and swells were breaking and rolling down the channel… Made for a pretty exciting, fast and lively sail – if not a little wet and poor Morphie is covered in salt again already…Anchored up and realised there is a flight path just to the side of us for light aircraft coming into land. Nothing was marked on the chart either.

We went ashore late afternoon for happy hour in one of the beach fronted bars….and came back to the dock to find two policemen waiting for everyone as they wanted boats to move out of the way of the planes. Luckily they said Morphie was OK in her position but he asked us to go tell the offending boats to move – great! Anyway we did as requested and the people did as they were told – although the sight of the police on the dock with guns and crossed arms may have helped the message get across…

A quiet night on board and early to bed. Going to stay here tomorrow and plan our next adventure.

Bye for now


One island, two nations

After a lazy evening on board and catching up on our sleep we were raring to go on Sunday morning. Went ashore to Marigot and found a patisserie / boulangerie for a really good French breakfast – great coffee and pastries. I practised my school girl French with my terrible London accent and after saying ‘thank you very much’ the lady fell about laughing and translated that I said ‘thank you, nice arse’. She had misheard mind – I did say the right word – just not in the right way! But she did say it was nice that I tried to speak French….

Anyway…after a leisurely breakfast…we posted our passage blog and headed off to the supermarket to top up on fresh provisions – and nice bread / cheese. We had asked for directions at the boulangerie and was overhead by a young girl who gave us a lift as she thought it was too hot to walk both ways! What a nice introduction to the French St Martin.

After dropping off our stuff back on board we headed out in the dinghy to explore the Simpson Lagoon. This is apparently a good anchorage with great holding and lots of yachtie facilities. But to get in there – whether you enter the French or the Dutch side – you have to go through a lifting bridge at set times of the day. And before we committed to this we wanted to go have a look. So went under the bridge and watched the comings and goings – and then launched into international rescue mode to help a monohull who had run aground outside of the dredged channel.  While going through the lagoon we came across an interesting structure, we thought it was a floating bar!   So went to explore to find out it was a floating guest house – and unfortunately, because we weren’t guests, they couldn’t serve us.   However if we had phoned ahead and booked a meal, we could have had some beer.    Apparently this is French legislation… Not for us to reason why but shame we didn’t have our mobiles on us to go round out of sight and make the call…..

Went up into Port Royale marina and had a look at the shops / restaurants huddled around this area – although most were shut being a Sunday. We did, however, hear loud music coming from around the corner so we headed off to investigate and came across a mini carnival with girls all dressed up and gyrating to the very very loud calypso music. Wasn’t expecting that!

Anyway…….back in dink and headed off to the Dutch side.  If you take your yacht from one side to the other you have to clear in / out customs and immigration for both countries – if you travel by dink or by car you can go freely…. Not sure why…. Anyway….the French side was predominantly filled up with cruisers, rusting hulks left over from hurricanes, and charter boats. The Dutch was completely different – very very large contingent of superyachts. Maybe the abundance of casinos and adult entertainment leisure facilities over there attracts the wealthy owners????

The water in the lagoon was pretty grubby and we realised that we would not be able to use the watermaker in here – and as Marigot Bay is a pretty town anchorage with easy access to shore in beautiful clear blue water, why bother to go into the lagoon unless you need to??? After a nice day we still felt tired so had a quick happy hour in a French fish restaurant where the lobsters were sitting in their tank on death row. Watched the sun go down over Marigot Bay and had a quiet evening and early night on board.

This morning we moved Morphie into Port Louis Marina – which is also in Marigot. We did this as we wanted more security for her while we explored the island by car for a few days. This was a good move as the swells started to come in this morning into the bay and would have made for a rolly night….

After getting ourselves organised we headed off to the ferry terminal to see Fatso who we had done a deal with the day before for cash… A little Hyundai – with loads of existing damage! – for €80 for two days including tax and insurance. Bargain. Picked the car up and headed off round the island. Richard turned into Alain Prost immediately behind the wheel and this is a mountainous island with a slow speed limit….it turned into hairpin curves and something out of Top Gear! Anyway….we had great fun and first off visited Orient Bay (French side).

For those of you who don’t realise by now, St Martin is actually one big island split between the French and Dutch who call their side Saint Maarten. The story goes that the French and Dutch were trying to decide how they were going to split the territory and the French guy turns up with wine and the Dutch guy turns up with gin. They start to walk across the island as they are drinking, the gin being stronger, the Dutchman collapsed and the French got more land as a result.

Anyway – back to Orient Bay. We wanted to visit here as it looked great in the pilot book – but very difficult to navigate into with reefs breaking on both sides of the bay. So thought it was one for the car. When we got there we were surprised to see rafts and rafts of chairs and umbrellas with wall to wall tourists. I guess we have been spoilt in the past by undiscovered beaches in the BVI. Anyway….we’ve been there now…so moved on after a quick stop for a soft drink and drove all the way round to Phillipsburg (Dutch side). This is the major port where cruise ships come in and has a long board walk and lots of bars, restaurants and shops to cater for the crowd when they come ashore.

We came across Captain Jack Sparrow quite early on and found a nice spot to have lunch across the way from the Naughty by Nature reggae band performing. Nice local food and we then wandered the shops until we had had enough. Oh yes – needed some cash – so went to the ATM. Asked me if I wanted dollars or local currency? I said local – expecting Euros – and, oh no, got Guilders! Didn’t know they still existed…

Moved on and having heard stories about planes landing at Princess Juliana airport coming low over Mahoe Bay decided to go there and check it out for ourselves. My god – they really do come low – and even though you know you are safe you still duck as they pass overhead. That’s the closest I hope I ever come to a moving plane! Taking off is worse – the thrust from the engine sandblasts you if you are in the firing line.

After this bit of fun we went to the chandleries – which we had been led to believe were the best we would find anywhere in the Caribbean chain. So list in hand – credit card wobbling at the thought – we turned up and went shopping at both Budget Marine and Island Water World. Well – they have loads of stuff – but not the stuff we want or need. Really disappointed but we’ll make do with what we have…

First impressions? French St Martin is chic with a more relaxed atmosphere and lots of good dining choices, although the beach we visited was very busy. Dutch Saint Maarten is geared up for a higher density of tourists and has developed their infrastructure to suit this demand – we counted three MacDonalds, two KFCs and Subway seems to be making an impression plus lots of casinos.   But both have some nice original architecture….

Back to the boat for a snack of fresh French bread, cheese, pate, salad and a couple of beers. What could be nicer eh? Now sitting in the Marina’s yacht club using their free wifi overlooking the amazing sights of the superyachts and a cruise ship in the background.

Another day of exploring tomorrow…so won’t be up late.

Bye for now.


Goodbye BVIs

Had a lovely afternoon bobbing (with beer) at Cooper Island and had a quiet night on board watching the sun go down over the Sir Francis Drake Channel.

Up early in the morning and we set sail for Virgin Gorda – supposed to be blowing 19 knots maximum according to three different forecasters – so we got out in the channel and set our sails. We know they usually underestimate and with some squalls around we reefed in to start with. Good job we did!  Within 15 minutes of leaving Cooper we are screaming along at 8+ knots and get hit by a 29 knot gust…  We quickly luffed up and put more reefs in… Finally settled down and had a great beat up the channel and decided to go outside the Dogs up to Virgin Gorda.  Fantastic sail – without idiots! – and managed it in four big tacks.

Went through the reef into North Sound and radioed Leverick for info on our slip. Oh no – they have put us stern to with finger pontoons and pilings. Our least favourite position as Morphie has significant prop walk and only just fits into the gap… Anyway…went alongside the fuel dock and filled up… and persuaded them to give us another slip. OK still stern to but at least no piling in the way. We got ready and reversed Morphie into position. This was difficult with the strong wind but Richard managed to get her in with no damage to marina staff, crew, pontoon or boat – so good job!

After getting settled we headed off to the laundry and to catch up with friends and family online. At the same time we were writing lists of things to do to get ready for the run to St Martin if the weather window continued to look favourable. Bumped into Michael Bean – who does the famous Happy Arrrrrrrrrrr pirate show at Leverick – and chatted to him for a while about how his charity work is going. The story goes that he was shipwrecked in Haiti and the people showed his so much kindness that he decided that he would help them when in a position to do so, so he set up his charity, Pirates with a Porpoise, and has raised enough money to build a school in Haiti which currently has 171 pupils and each child gets a free hot meal a day. Fantastic guy!  Anyway – to cut a long story short – we donated our original mainsail which he will pass on to the local fishermen to adapt for their boats. Richard didn’t want to drag the main with us because of weight – we have kept a spare genoa intact – and to make a donation to such a good cause worked for us. Anyway….hugs all round…and back to boat jobs.

After laundry we rushed back on board – quickly got cleaned up and changed – and headed out to watch the pirate show. Great time was had by all as usual – and listening to his mad frog call Whoop Whoop made me smile, remembering the girls trip out here and how my angel crew really got into the show that night. Long story….but you know who you are!    Anyway…if we go on Friday we have a very long day ahead of us…so early to bed after dinner ashore of fish and chips.

Up early Friday morning….checked the forecast and yes, the window was holding…so we are going.  Blast off – at last – we are going to start our down island adventure!!!!  Hurrah… So we get the boat ready, including liferaft; grab bag; charging and testing all hand-held additional electronics; making snacks and hot drinks for our insulated cups etc etc and checking all kit was working fine – as well as making sure that everything is stowed for the overnight passage. I also spent some time going through charts and pilot books to do the passage plan. Having got everything sorted in my head, go through it with Richard and double check my thoughts. He’s happy so we plug the waypoints into the plotters.

Eventually by midday we head off into Gun Creek to check out of the BVI. What!!!???!!! The customs and immigration office is closed… Back at 1.30pm. Oh no – so we just have to sit it out and wait. Eventually – at 1.40 pm (not that I was clock watching) – they arrive and we check out. The guy asked me to remove my sunglasses – fair enough, but I’m blind within them as they are prescription glasses – but that didn’t matter so I had to relinquish control of all the docs to Richard to sort out while I stood there looking blankly into blurry objects! Oh well….job done…and back round the corner to Morphie. Earlier we had moved her out of the slip and onto a mooring ball. Final check round – final preparation – and we’re off. 10 minutes later than planned at 4.10 pm – good going.

We motored out of the North Sound for the last time and passed through the passage behind Prickly Pear and Necker Island…looking at the reconstruction efforts going on at the top of the hill to replace the big house that got burnt down after being struck by lightning. The small house has pagodas and Sir Richard even has his own desert island – although the palm trees are fake apparently!!!!

We come out by the point and into the ocean expecting the worst – they call the Anegada passage the Oh My Godda passage for a reason!  Apparently this is one of the most gruesome trips in the Caribbean chain and we have heard plenty of horror stories. The charts say that to sail this is a once in a lifetime opportunity – ie that the wind is virtually always on the nose – so expect to motor most of the way hard into the wind / waves. As a sail boat this is not what we like to do – but having listened to advice from those who have gone before – we are prepared for this eventuality, but hope to be able to sail some of the way….. Bye BVI – been lovely knowing you – but we are ready to move on.

We head into the wind – and yep, even though the forecast said there would be some north to the wind, making sailing an option, this was not a course that we could hold. So motoring it is then. Only about 80+ miles to go….. Lifejackets on, harnesses clipped to lifelines in the cockpit, and the sun starts to sink. Lovely….night sailing…..haven’t done this for a while – and this is the first time Richard and I have done it alone as we are usually with other crew on a variety of boats.

So what is all the fuss about then? The wind is about 15 knots (as forecast – at last!)…and the waves only about 2m high… Then after about 20 minutes in the moonlight – bang – a big wave hits us, over the coachroof and along the side soaking us both in the cockpit. Oh, so here we go then….. And this pattern continued every 20 minutes for the rest of the trip….. Colin the autopilot was doing an admirable job and we reached the first couple of waypoints pretty quickly. OK – so people want to know what this passage is like. For our UK sailing mates – think a rough English channel crossing… For our USVI sailing mates – think a rough Pilsbury Sound crossing for hours on end… For those who have no idea – then you are not missing much this time!

We had already decided that we were going to stay awake for the whole trip – perhaps taking cat naps in the cockpit as needed. No chance…with the pounding and the regular soaking from the waves… We were also doing this by the book – hourly log recordings and marking physical charts with our position. So we took it at turns at the helm – supervising Colin – on an hour on, an hour off, basis. Watching big ships was fun – especially with the AIS telling us who they were and what direction they were going. At one point we had a huge cruise ship, a trawler and a tanker all converging on us – and then, ping, the AIS went off!  Tried to reset it with the plotters still active but couldn’t get anything resolved. And we didn’t want to turn the plotters off completely to reset as we had concerns that they may not come back. So back to old-fashioned light spotting then…. Loads and loads of ships were coming and going. Feels like being in the English channel and in the middle of the shipping lane…… Oh well – been there before!  Also our bow steaming lights decided not to work even though we had changed the bulb and all had been fine in Red Hook not that long ago… Luckily we could be seen as we had a tricolour installed on top of the mast as part of our cruising fit out. We could also turn on radar to look for blips that could be ships if we saw some vague lights….

Anyway…dodging ships became the focus of our night…and the wind started increasing and we started to get battered. By the time the sun came up we had large seas, rogue waves continuing to hit and soak us every 15 minutes, and the wind was howling at 28 knots with white water mist across the surface of the ocean. 

So the weather window closed down on us during the passage. Oh well, have been through worse… and enjoyed watching the sparkling of the phosporescence in the water behind the boat.  Not that bad – even though we arrived cold, tired, wet and the damn charts / pilot guide / GPS didn’t match at the most crucial part, arriving into Marigot Bay. But all that said, we were really both pleased with the way Morphie, Colin and ourselves coped with this trip – no working class language, never worried or concerned about our safety – good job!

Anyway….we got here safely, anchored in 7 feet of water below our keel, checked in (what a delight!), went ashore and let everyone know that we were safe as well as enjoying some fantastic French food and spent some Euros…and then back on board to sleep. In the end we were at passage for 18 hours and covered a measly 82 miles!

Oh yes…and the minute we anchored…guess what, the AIS came back all on its own!  Boats eh???  Tomorrow is the day to start exploring this new island as well as buying the last of the stuff we wanted from the chandleries – which, apparently, are the biggest in the Caribbean chain and duty-free to boot….

Bye for now…


Great sailing apart from idiots!

Left Great Harbour and went to Diamond Cay – which is a small island between big Jost and little Jost. The north swells are up again and this is a protected anchorage behind a reef. The swells were rolling in which meant that the water in the anchorage was pretty murky and there was no point snorkelling – shame as this is a turtle ‘hot spot’!   Anyway…. we went ashore and went on a trek to the bubbly pool. Through mangroves, fallen down trees and scrambling over rocks like mountain goats. Great terrain for goats – and we saw a few wild ones wandering around. Wonder if they know that the local delicacy is goat curry???


Arriving at the bubbly pool we were very surprised to see a health and safety billboard and a safety ring for throwing into the water… This was new – but I guess it was the BVI Government trying to absolve themselves from all responsibility for accidents. Last year, sadly, a young mother died after being sucked out through the rocks into the ocean…

Anyway, the bubbly pool was running. The picture really doesn’t do it justice. If you can imagine 15-20 foot waves crashing into the rocks into the air on the other side and then rushing through into the pool creating a bubbly froth of water, then sucking out at speed for it all to be repeated again. Now you get the idea? Anyway…Richard and I went in and played in the surf for a while – fantastic fun….. Up to the gap, relax when the wave hits you, surf up the beach (avoiding the rocks underneath the surface) and then pop up onto your feet to brace against the rip current trying to drag you out. We had a ball…

Back to Foxy’s Taboo (yes another one of the Foxy family) for a diet coke – we got hot and bothered on the way back to the anchorage and bitten to death as a rain shower got all them biting critters really excited. Diet cokes all round – we have declared today another non-alcohol day – but didn’t stay long as the staff were not in the best of moods with some teeth sucking etc…. Don’t stay where we are clearly not welcome. Anyway, back on board for a quiet night reading books and chatting under the amazing starry night. And so to bed.

On Tuesday morning we decided to run across for our last night in the Bight, Norman Island. Did I tell you that this is famous as Treasure Island and it is thought that local pirates buried their treasure here – people, to this day, can be found there with metal detectors! Anyway….had a great sail in relatively light winds….and got almost to the Bight close hauled on 45 degrees to the wind when this idiot – in a nice sailboat but under motor – starting overtaking us and pushing us closer and closer to the wind.

Eventually we had to luff and rather than tack away again we decided to get the sails down – honestly, some people. We did teach him some working class language when he waved!! Anyway…he anchored in the Bight for the night…so we took a photo to warn others about him…. One of the beautiful sailing cruise ships – Star Clipper – was also anchored…. Nice.

Went over to Pirates for an afternoon on their wifi – am trying again to get the new router to work with the Alfa antenna but to no avail. Pirates, usually the laid back beach venue, was a bit like Magaluf – day trippers everywhere from day boats and the cruise ship. Quite amusing to watch them all queuing up to try little pico sail boats etc. Anyway….back to the task in hand….and three hours and every option considered / explored – I gave up again. Life is too short for this! Anyway….during this time Julia, a fellow cruiser, came by. We had a really good time with her and Lyle before at both Virgin Gorda and Soggy Dollar and we agreed to come to the Willy T for happy hour at 4pm and surprise Lyle.

Well…more drunken and naked goings on at the Willy T…but they all cleared off pretty quickly (many of them falling off the dock rather than getting into their dinghies on the first attempt) and we had our own party with Lyle and Julia – who were celebrating their 36th wedding anniversary – and their guests Richard and Janelle. Good time had by all…. We retired back to Morphie around 8pm and we had dinner on board and a relaxing time.

This morning (Wednesday) we left early and sailed hard into the wind up to Cooper Island. Well – the forecasters got it wrong again – 15-20 knots my a**e… We had 20-25 knots most of the way with rain squalls up to 30 knots.. Never mind – we got wet again – but had a fantastic four-hour sail.  Until we met another idiot – this time on a Sunsail boat. These people really should read the rules of the road – motor gives way to sail every time. They had no sails up and were motoring – and heading straight for us. We thought they would run behind us – the usual thing – but, oh no, they decided to gun the engine and pass in front of our bow. They only just made it – and only because we did all we could which was to luff up and stop our boat moving forward.  More choice words – met with shrugged shoulders. Funnily enough on the VHF we later heard Lyle call another boat and ask him to look up the collision regulations – wonder if it was the same one??!!!???

Anyway into Cooper just in time for lunch. Lovely spot this and one of our favourites for a quiet relaxing evening.


Had a really nice meal and then went to the dive shop to fix up some diving – but, unfortunately, they are full until Saturday. Don’t want to hang around until then so we’ll have a quiet night on board and run up to Virgin Gorda tomorrow. Sitting here at Cooper doing the blog and we’ve just realised that the conditions look really good for a run to St Martin on Friday night. Will have to watch this weather pattern with interest….

Off to bob….bye for now


Let’s go round again

We had a relatively lazy morning in Cane Garden Bay and then headed out to go across the channel to Jost van Dyke. So far we have been getting feast or famine on this trip….and today was another one of those days. Beautiful blue skies, sun and sea – but coupled with no wind…. So we ended up motoring across. The sea was a bit swelly so we were swaying quite a bit as the waves hit us on the side of the hull. So although benign I’m sure many stomachs would have rebelled at this one!  We went past Sandy Cay and into Great Harbour to find beautifully flat conditions. Picked up a mooring and, as we were getting ourselves sorted, up popped a turtle alongside the boat. Radical dude! He was a decent size with a couple of ramores attached to the underside of his shell.

Tidied up we headed off in dink to White Bay for our final Soggy Dollar afternoon. The conditions were perfect – and people were out in force. Quite a party atmosphere and we chatted to quite a few people before a long bob in the ocean. Headed back into the bar and, guess what, the skies darkened and the heavens opened. Oh well…..we were wet anyway. Said our farewells to the Soggy Dollar Gang and headed off round the point in dink – getting very wet again as Richard ramped up the revs into the waves – and back on board for a few hours before heading into Corsairs for dinner.

Had a fantastic dinner – yes I had lamb again, this time in curry sauce – and Richard had grouper with salsa. Amazing food as always and the only place you get sticky rice in the islands that we know of so far… and then, to my surprise, out comes a birthday chocolate dessert including candle and I got sang to. Totally embarrassed but it was a lovely gesture. Oh yes, the puppy crew came ashore too and had a few too many drinks…..

On Sunday we had already arranged for the Corsairs gang to come on board in the afternoon – so the morning was spent cleaning and preparing some nibbles. Richard went ashore to collect them and Vinny, Lori, Ghee and Roger came over to see Morpheus. They had a good look around and then we had Prosecco and nibbles in the cockpit. Roger and Ghee were getting paler by the minute and it was clear they weren’t going to be able to stand it for long. Luckily it was a very very calm day in the bay!

At this point Lori disappeared below and reappeared with a special decorated carrot cake that she had baked for us. We had talked about wanting to renew our vows here but didn’t like the pastor so had delayed it – and because they were coming on board this was a pre-wedding renewal vow party!!! What a smashing thing to do. Very very touched by all this. Anyway…Roger and Ghee bailed to the safety of dry land and Vinny and Lori stayed on for a while. A lovely chilled relaxing afternoon.

In the evening we went ashore for our final trip to Corsairs for dinner. Richard had an amazing lobster ravioli but I stayed on the club soda and didn’t have anything to eat. Felt really land sick – with everything swaying around. Not too much wine, honest!!! Anyway…we had a really nice evening….and donated our Bank of England sailing club burgee to Corsairs to pin to the wall with the others. We can’t fly it on Morpheus any more as we are no longer club members and this is a special place to us so a good place to leave it… Final farewells and so we have come to the end of another chapter – felt quite emotional, will miss these kind and generous people.

Richard wanted to go to Foxy’s one last time so we did walk down the road and watched a crowd of youngsters dancing along to the DJ and the rastaman hitting on all the scantily clad girls…. A quick cold one and back to Morphie to bed.

This morning we are heading round to Diamond Cay and to visit the bubbly pool as the surf is up and should be good fun… Bye Jost van Dyke it’s been great!

Bye for now


Wind, rain and birthday fun…

The wind continued to howl all night and into the next morning – accompanied by squalls and squalls of torrential rain. We watched a few boats struggling to get somewhere down the Sir Francis Drake channel – no sails up just motoring into big lumpy seas. Although one of the largest privately-owned sailing yachts in the world, the Maltese Falcon, went down the channel under sail at a distance….

You know what, we are not on a schedule, so we decide to stay put and spend another day at Peter Island. The wind continued to blow really strongly while we did boat jobs in the morning – pink job today was to polish all the stainless rails / ports and lights down below, and Richard got on with security-linked blue jobs that we need for later in the trip…

Eventually the sun came out so we hiked through to the Peter Island Resort and, this time, we were determined to explore the beach at the end of Deadman’s Bay. We took Kristine and Doug with us as they had just arrived into Great Harbour – they had never been to the resort so were keen to have a look. We all ended up in the bar where we had a couple of cold ones and then we left to go look at the beach while they had lunch in the restaurant.

Following the dirt road we ended up on our own private beach with fantastic views across to Salt Island – which is where the famous dive site, Wreck of the Rhone, is situated. After lunch Kristine and Doug joined us and we had a lovely afternoon just playing in the surf and chatting. Difficult to believe the weather had changed so much all on the same day. Hopefully this is a sign that it is turning…..

So we settled back on board for another quiet night, having left a couple of beers with Conrad on the way. Oh yes, the night before there was some interesting things going on in the bay.   During the evening we spotted a large motor yacht linking up with a small local vessel and transferring some bags of stuff…….looked dodgy to us but could, of course, have been completely innocent like laundry?!?!

Well the wind didn’t die down and the rain came back with a vengeance… Time to rethink our plans. The weather forecast had it clearing up on Friday but very large north swells then make another appearance, which makes some anchorages untenable. We wanted to go up to Cooper and do some scuba diving – but that is a rolly anchorage on a quiet night, so didn’t fancy that in 30+ knot squalls…. So decided to make our life easier and run back downwind to Norman instead of beating up the channel. Had a great downwind sail and with following seas we even did a bit of surfing. Nice.



The weather looked promising while we sailed down and fingers crossed this was the start of the improvement.   But no, we just got lucky, with a temporary lull in the yucky stuff and then the heavens opened yet again.   The Bight was very very busy with boats…probably people taking shelter from the rotten weather.  We went ashore and had a great bob – dodging the rain inside Pirates – and then back on board for dinner.

Later on we didn’t really feel in the mood for a night at Willy T’s but decided to go anyway to see what was going on. Well – it was absolutely manic – and the usual crowd of women (young and old alike) were queuing up to get fake tattoos from the bar staff. Dylan – the Welsh bartender – was enjoying himself a lot! That’s because they are usually placed in intimate places and the bar staff licks them on…  Pretty innocent adult fun….but then they all strip off and get silly.  What makes these women turn into aspiring porn models after a couple of painkillers???   Jumping off naked into the sea is normal Willy T behaviour – but to dance around and grope each other?   For those who are interested, painkillers are rum punch drinks and a local speciality.  Well – tonight – there were topless women dancing, squirty cream licking, lots of grinding on the dance floor…well you get the picture and if you think I’m embellishing the story I think the picture below (which Richard took) says it all……. The others were not publishable!   Needless to say I don’t get involved in all this…such a prude… If you still don’t believe me guys then google William Thornton in Norman Island on the internet – and you might not want to do this at work!!!!  Fun night…although I think Richard had a better time than me….as he used the blog as an excuse to be there amongst all the action with the camera!

Friday morning and it’s my birthday and I get a cup of tea in bed along with some cards… Was a nice way to start the day. I’ve decided that I’d like to go back to the Elm to watch the band and have the BBQ… Always a good evening and, with the swells forecast from Saturday, this will be one of the ‘no-go’ areas so this will be our last night here, maybe forever…. On the sail the forecast was wrong again – lovely blue skies mind – but the 15-20 knots turned into 25 knots on the nose for a while, but we were ready for it with reefed in sails and had an absolutely fantastic time. On the way round, Richard said that he had had a word with Flipper and asked him to pop by to wish me Happy Birthday. Yes, we really did have that daft conversation!  But then, within 10 minutes, we had a dolphin appear under the surface just behind Morphie… He came up and showed us his back fin and then dived – only to reappear to play off our bow. But he came and went so quickly we didn’t even attempt to get the camera out. What a fantastic birthday present! On the way to Tortola we also saw a beautiful classic sailing yacht.

Both of us are feeling pretty tired – still not got into a proper sleeping pattern – and wake up every three hours as though we are on watch! Oh well….guess it will work itself out at some point. Anyway…arrived in Cane Garden Bay after a great sail and went ashore for some provisions. Came across this pimped up Chevrolet – check out those wheels! Back on board for a while and then to dinner at The Elm after watching the sun go down.

The band were having so much fun it was infectious and we said our goodbyes to them and all the other staff at the end of the evening.

Great end to a great day…apart from getting a soaked bum when going ashore in the dinghy cos it rained on us again!  Bye Cane Garden Bay, been nice knowing you.

Heading into Jost today for our last soggy weekend.

Bye for now


Free at last!

The sail turned up Saturday morning about an hour after the time they agreed…but it is island time so no surprises. We took it out of the bag and – thankfully – it’s now the right colour and they’ve done a good job. We did want to hank it on there and then, but in a 20 knot breeze with the wind up our chuff in the slip, it probably wouldn’t have been the wisest move. So we take it down below and get ready to leave…

At last, at 12.50 pm, we slip out of Red Hook, St Thomas, for the very last time. We are free!!!!    Hurrah!!!!    Hugs all round….and head straight into 8 ft seas, whitecaps and 25 knots of wind gusting higher. So we plowed through it under motor – as this is head to wind all the way – and got pretty wet with green water coming over the bow. Picked up a mooring ball near Cruz Bay, St John, and went into customs to clear out of the USVI. Waited in line behind some Argentinians who were getting a really hard time – they were pussy cats to us by comparison.

Back around Lind Point in dink to pick up Morphie and went straight out towards Jost van Dyke to check into the BVIs. Well…as we rounded Carvel rock….the wind picked up and now we are at 31 knots and building seas. Without the stay sail to balance us on a close hauled tack we decided to drop the sails and run in under motor. Pretty choppy is all I can say…and I got soaked again with water coming over the bow…but nothing could detract from our feelings of relief that we can now start planning our trip properly.

Anyway….we arrive into Jost and, because of the conditions, all the mooring balls are taken so we anchored in Great Harbour and stayed on board for a while to make sure we had set as the conditions here are tricky. Luckily we got a good set first time and headed ashore to do normal stuff and book dinner at Corsairs.

Had a great welcome back from the gang and enjoyed Roger’s lamb cutlets and mint sauce. No, not Caribbean fare, but lamb is a rarity over here so I eat it whenever it appears on the menu, which is very very infrequently…. Yummmm….

In the morning as part of our usual routine we realised that the weather forecast was for Christmas winds – a couple of weeks late – which are going to be a feature for the next week or so, along with small craft advisories over hazardous sea conditions.   Went ashore so that I could skype my mum and had a chat with the famous Foxy Callwood who always regales us with fun stories of his life and particularly when he came to London with his family to collect his MBE from the Queen.

We also met the pastor from the little church and heard – down the street – his hell and brimstone sermon… Wow there must be a lot of sinners in town… We were planning to renew our wedding vows here but having heard the tone of the sermon we decided that perhaps we’ll do this further down island instead!

So after more boat jobs – Richard was sorting out the macerator which needed tightening up, definitely a blue job that one – and I did pink things like wiping the salt off my previously polished stainless steel rails… And together – in a lull in the wind – we hanked and furled the new sail on.

At this point we decided to stay put and relax for rest of the day – so we headed off in dink round the corner for a soggy afternoon in White Bay.   The new outboard is now run in so Richard was making it plane…   It was like a rollercoaster ride and great fun – not sure what everyone thought of a couple of 50+ year olds laughing and squealing with delight like kids as we buzzed around!   

The huge cruise ship – The World – was anchored off and the queue at the Soggy Dollar was five deep so we headed off down to the beach to see what was going on at One Love, which is owned by Seddy, Foxy’s son. Seddy was out of his head – not sure on what – so the atmosphere wasn’t that great. So after a swift cold one, we headed down to Gertrudes where we ate the local pork platter for lunch.

After that we returned to the Soggy Dollar and bumped into Kyle and Julia from Canada who we had met earlier in the trip at Virgin Gorda. Nice time was had by all. Dinked back round the point and after a few hours went ashore for a quiet evening at Corsairs…and yes, I do mean a quiet evening, although Richard did get tempted by that Fireball (Cinnamon Whisky) shot at the end!

On Monday we headed out into big seas again – and sustained winds of 27 knots – and made great progress on reefed main / genoa and full staysail…. An exhilarating – if not a bit of a bumpy and wet – sail. Into Norman Island and over to Pirates for a bob – didn’t actually make it into the water though, as we bumped into Kristine and Doug who we had met many years earlier on previous trips. Enjoyed chewing the fat with them for a couple of hours and went back on board for a bite to eat. Decided not to go to the Willy T and had an early night.  

Surprised to see a Seadream Yacht Club ship at the Bight too….and could this be Jack Sparrow on a new boat????

This morning the conditions have deteriorated so we decided just to run round the corner to Peter Island. As we left the comfort of Norman there was a huge rain squall where winds topped 37 knots and a complete white out. Not so nice. I even felt cold in the rain! Anyway….arrived here safely….to the spectacle of hundreds of pelicans feeding and tucked in neatly along the shore. Have decided not to go ashore at all today – if the sea state calms down I might get a swim – so tonight we have designated a non-alcohol movie night!

Oh yes, a new neighbour has just puled called Blind Date and, surprise, surprise, Cilla isn’t on board!

Bye for now