On the move again…..back to France

Up before the sun on Monday to do the final preparations for our 50 mile run to Guadeloupe. Dropped the mooring at 6.30 ish and motored out through the channel to leave Jolly Harbour and Antigua behind – bidding a silent farewell to Glen on Blue Pearl as we passed her in the anchorage….

Motored out beyond the immediate hazards, got the sails up and realised that instead of the reach we were expecting, the wind was a bit closer than anticipated. But never mind, up go all three sails, and we head out. The waves are a little lumpy in the shallow water around Antigua – but as we got into the beautiful deep navy water, which was almost two miles deep, the sea flattened. This is as good as it gets and particularly for the last 10 miles when we were accompanied by flying fish and the wind changed so we ended up with the reach we had been looking forward to… On this eight hour sail we did wonder whether we would see whales as this is the time they migrate north with their new calves – but nothing happening. So following the fine example of Dory in Finding Nemo we tried whale talking….but still no show. Oh well, we’ll have to try and improve upon our accents another day!!!

Arrived into Deshaies, Gaudeloupe, at around 3.30 pm and were amazed by how many boats were already there. This is a tiny shallow anchorage if you can get close enough in – but no spots available – so ended up anchoring in nearly 50 feet / 17 metres of water. A bit deep but we had no choice on this occasion. There was very little room and we are a bit closer to other boats than we would like too. We got ourselves cleaned and tidied up and headed into town. There is a large dinghy dock here – but no-one told us that the waves surged up so fiercely that it took out great chunks of the dock as well as foundations of the shorefront properties too!

It was really something to try and dock here – but again, no choice. At least it is still daylight. Mission accomplished we headed off to check in and go for a wander. French customs and immigration is a doddle – here is a computer, fill in your details, stamp, sign, pay €4 and thanks a lot. So we have legally arrived. We grabbed a fresh baguette from the patisserie and went back on board Morphie. This is a very French town – friendly and welcoming people, but very little English spoken. Looks like I’m going to have to brush off the school girl French again…. We are pretty shattered so back on board for a quick bite to eat and an early night.

During the night I awake to engine noises – so pop my head out to see navigation lights right on our stern. These new arrivals were dropping their anchor and it felt like it was in our cockpit! Then a catamaran turned up and dropped close too….. and I wondered what had happened to the little red boat with the solo German guy in who had been our nearest neighbour earlier….and then I spotted him 50 metres off our stern so he must have dragged his anchor earlier. He was gone by morning when we got up so hope he was all right!   As well as all the boat arrivals it was also a rolly anchorage so not a particularly restful night…

Tuesday morning we went ashore to get an internet connection. When I went to buy our car tax online the other day the system said we did not have any car insurance on file – oh yes we do! I’ve got the paperwork to prove it…. Anyway we needed to sort it out so into the internet cafe we go. After doing that, and paying a few bills, we went to the patisserie for breakfast. Had to be done – we are in France after all….. Fantastic pastries and strong coffee – what better way to start the day????   We chatted over breakfast and decided to move on – this is not a place we can leave dink for the day tied to the dock while we get a car and explore. And with the amount of boats around we are not comfortable leaving Morphie either….. So decision made, back on board, and we pick up anchor and leave for another anchorage 10 miles down the coast.

Unfortunately this time the wind was on the nose so we ended up motoring and arrived at the Pigeon Island anchorage a couple of hours later. This is close to the Pigeon Islands (would you believe????) and is a designated marine park named in honour of Jacques Cousteau. So we were hoping to get some diving in here, some snorkelling, and maybe this is the place to base ourselves instead whilst in Guadeloupe?

So went ashore to explore. In this anchorage, the dock was a public one used by all the watersports operators so we pulled dink right up close to the beach – but it was really really surging and not easy to get on and off. Looks like another place not to leave dink unattended too long….. The small beach was darkish sand and not too attractive – and was absolutely rammed with day trippers. We take refuge in a cafe to watch the world go by and are amazed at the diving activity on offer – loads and loads of operators here….

We watched at least five dive boats – crammed with maybe 20 people each – plus glass bottom boats and boats full of snorkelers… All of these boats were heading out simultaneously to the small islands a stone’s throw from the anchorage. Mmmmmmm…. this really doesn’t appeal…… We have done crowded dive sites in Egypt and hoards of people just get in the way, and I always always end up getting someone’s fin in my face, not an experience I am keen to repeat!!! So we make an executive decision that this is not for us – we’ll hold on until we get somewhere else…. Eventually we went back on board for another quiet and early night. And of course the obligatory amazing sunset shot…. But it is not all disappointing, because we have seen three turtles surfacing near Morphie in the anchorage.

This morning we headed off to explore the rest of the west coast of Guadeloupe. The wind was howling until we tried to sail and then it died! Typical… We went close to Basseterre – which was another possible place to base ourselves – but again, with the current surf conditions, it was not tenable. So we decided to go straight to Iles des Saintes today for a while and will sail back up to Pointe a Pitre on the south coast of Guadeloupe later.


These islands are still French so no hassle with customs and immigration to deal with. They are also supposed to be beautiful… As we rounded the bottom of Guadeloupe the wind picked up – and again, feast or famine…. 30 knots of breeze and it got lumpy for a while. Oh well, nothing we aren’t used to by now! So after a few hours we completed our 25 mile trip and have now picked up a mooring ball off Bourg de Saintes on the main island of Terre d’en Haut. Going ashore to explore soon.

Bye for now.


Barbuda and back…..

Friday we headed off to the Jolly Harbour resort beach around lunchtime and had a really nice afternoon bobbing with beer and eating local food from the vendors. On the way back to Morphie we popped over to visit Glen on Blue Moon for sundowners….and then back on board for an early night.

Saturday morning bright and early we are up and waiting for our pre-arranged taxi for 8.00 am. We stand there like lemons and the time ticks over….and a guy in a minibus waves us from across the road to get on board. Richard asks “Are you David?” to which the answer was ‘yes’… So we get on board and then within 5 mins or so we pick up another passenger….oh well.. this often happens with taxis in the Caribbean….. and then another 5 minutes and we pick up a few more… Alarm bells start ringing…and Richard asks again “Are you David, and you are taking us to the Barbuda Express terminal?” He says no man, I’m the local bus…. I get really stressed as I watch the time slip away and worry that we are going to miss the 9 am ferry. Anyway, we get to St John’s market bus terminal and everyone gets off – we ask for directions and he says down here, turn left, four blocks etc etc etc…. We realise that we are not going to make the ferry to Barbuda…….so throw money at it! How about taking us there for EC $20???? (That’s about a fiver…) He says yes straight away and we make the ferry with minutes to spare….phew…..

The ferry is full of both people and cargo. Loads and loads of boxes…. Anyway….the trip is fun for us but not for most of the passengers. There are sick bags everywhere and most people are puking as we pound into the waves. Glad we didn’t put Morphie through this ordeal!!! Finally arrive after almost two hours of pounding into the seas with a lot of very green passengers. We meet the fellow tour people – six Americans travelling together – and they have all been ill. Eventually we get to our first destination – the caves in Barbuda where slaves lived to spot ships at sea in darkness, and would then climb goat-like up to the top of the cliffs to light fires to tempt these poor people into the reefs and disaster. It was a really interesting place with spectacular views across the Atlantic coast and its reef-strewn shoreline.

Moving on we then go through Codrington – which is named after the English guy who leased the land from the crown many moons ago. He set Barbuda up for growing fruit and veg – but the terrain was not good – so he settled for a hunting domain (and wild pigs, goats, horses, deer and cows still roam the island) and also bred slaves for sale to other Caribbean nations. Interestingly, when the slave labour was given their freedom on Barbuda many years ago, they were offered cash for their labours. They said no thanks – give us land to build homes and tend crops. This remains to this day – the land is owned collectively and all Barbuda natives are eligible to claim their plot. Which means, interestingly, that the land has no value and Barbuda nationals have to save up hard to buy materials to build their properties – there are no credit facilities available to them for this purpose.

Onto the largest frigate bird sanctuary in the world – what a spectacular treat! Loads and loads of males showing off their plumage and puffed up red chests hoping to attract a female – along with breeding couples and their newborn chicks standing up straight with their fluffy white heads poking out… This was an amazing place to visit and I would recommend to anyone…..

After visiting the lagoon to see the bird sanctuary we headed out to the famous pink sand beach for lunch and a relax – the sand actually is pretty and normal coloured, but miniscule remnants of red coral mixed up gives a pink hue as the waves move in and out. Pretty stunning surroundings and felt like an oasis away from normal life … reminded us of Anegada in many ways. Had a local lunch on the beach and back to the ferry for our return trip.

On board the conditions were better – fewer passengers and no boxes! Also we had a following sea so it was a much smoother ride – with many of the tourists very thankful. And, to cap it all, on the way back we saw a baby whale breach…but only once and no photos. Sorry….   So back into Antigua, cab back to Jolly Harbour, and an early night aboard.

Sunday morning we checked out of Antigua with customs and immigration so that we free to leave in the morning and we also visited Glen on Blue Pearl who helped us sort out our router problem – it is now working – hurrah!!!! So very very grateful.   

We then spent the afternoon in the swimming pool at the Crows Nest Bar and enjoyed a few hours chatting with some fellow Brits on holiday, Back out to Glen for dinner – he cooked us a great salmon pasta dish – and back on board to get ready for our next adventure tomorrow as we are sailing off to Guadeloupe.

Will be in touch from there…. Bye for now…


Boat chores and tours

Monday morning we headed into customs and immigration for the 9.00 am opening but the customs guy was late and there was a queue….. Anyway, when he did arrive, the first skipper went in and came out laden with forms to complete and this pattern was repeated until he got to us. We had read that Eseaclear, the online integrated system, was in use in Antigua so we had done all our documentation on line before we left Nevis. So no forms for us – he just had to print and stamp them. Then into immigration and the port authority to purchase our cruising permit and we are off before anyone else is vaguely ready to go…. Result! So we are now legal and can wander around Antigua which is our first of the mountains and mangroves islands. Quick dinghy ride round to check Jolly Harbour out – nothing much has changed from our last time here back in the early 2000s…. but we enjoyed a nice breakfast ashore.

Back on board and Richard is still feeling poorly despite eating – I think he got dehydrated on the trip over and a little sick from being down below in the heat fixing the fan belt, so medicate him accordingly! He soldiered on while we cleaned all the crusty salt from Morphie’s deck and stainless…. but had to lie down afterwards. I carried on cleaning down below and we are back in shape. Phew… one job off of the list. Glenn and Pam came over for sundowners but Richard stayed on the water so you know he’s feeling bad…

Early to bed and a bit of a lie in and Richard is feeling a bit better but still not right…. We went off ashore to sort out loads of other boat chores as we need to do our laundry, get a propane gas tank filled, get petrol for dink and some food for us…. Came back on board having sussed it all out and some bags of shopping (and yes, I finally got some Branston pickle) and I had a nice ploughmans and fed Richard chicken soup. After a few hours of lazing around Richard started to recover and felt OK by the time he had showered to get ready to go out for dinner. We had pizza Tuesday night in the local Italian with Glenn and Pam – and Richard managed to drink wine so obviously through the worst. We had a really nice evening with great food and fantastic company talking about our favourite boats and swapping some hints and tips as we are newbies in the cruising world. They have hired a car for Wednesday and very kindly invited us to join them for the day on a trip round the island. Yes please!

Wednesday we go out as a foursome for the day and drive around the island – after a few visits to some hardware stores (as Richard wants to buy a small petrol Honda generator) we end up in Falmouth Harbour where it just reeks of wealth with superyachts everywhere, including one with a helicopter on the top! Loads of racing boats too including ICAP’s Leopard….. Interesting how many of these monster sailboats are flying the Ensign. Having decided which boats we are all going to have when we win the lottery we head back to the car and spot a local food shack – so we all piled in there for lunch. Richard and Glen get adventurous and eat the goat stew whilst Pam and I were more conservative eating the chicken…. It was lovely.

Onwards to English Harbour where we visited Nelson’s Dockyard and wandered through all the stunning old renovated buildings – really interesting small museum too. This dockyard was completed in 1745 and was our main naval station with hurricane protection – Nelson arrived here in 1784 and eventually took over as naval commander. Apparently he didn’t like it much, and having read about the conditions and the impact of tropical diseases on the men, I’m not surprised really!

Moving on we went up to the hills above Falmouth and English Harbours to the interpretation centre and watched a movie about the history of the island, which was really interesting. Then onto Shirley Heights, which Richard and I remember from the Sunday night jump ups that we went to back in the day! Today it was quiet as a grave but still had fantastic views.

Back in the car and we head off to visit the Devil’s Bridge which is an unusual shaped rock which the sea blows through in certain conditions. Today was one of those days although we remembered it differently….. Back on the road and we found a nice beach bar to have a cold one in.

Heading back to Jolly Harbour and enjoyed the scenery along the way – with green hills, coral reefs, forests and domestic crops – all intermingled with wild goats, cows, hummingbirds and donkeys making an appearance. Really enjoyable day and we quaffed a final cold one back in the harbour and said goodbye to Pam who was flying home on Thursday morning to be a granny again for a short while.

Quiet night on board sorting out washing and doing some by hand…as we have found out that this is a service wash marina. So Morphie now has knickers, bras and boxers hanging from her rails – but all under the cover of darkness – as we really don’t want her to be too embarrassed!  Thursday morning we went shopping again; I finally got my hair cut; dropped off and picked up the laundry; organised the purchase and delivery of the generator; and wandered the complex and found the beach.

Whilst we were there we organised a day trip to Barbuda on the ferry for Saturday. Although the strong winds have now died down north swells are forecast for Sunday so taking Morphie up there didn’t appeal, particularly as the anchorages are pretty exposed and surrounded by reef. And I was determined not to miss Barbuda out, especially as we have already had to sacrifice Montserrat to the weather….

Back on board and I cooked for us and Glenn as he is home alone – only a simple lasagne, nothing special. But Glenn also helped Richard hook up the generator for the first time, so even social events turn into boat jobs!!! We had a good evening and are looking forward to a beach day on Friday after finishing off the long list of jobs that we have still to do…..

Bye for now


Nevis to Antigua

After catching up on our sleep from the restless night in Cockleshell Bay, we did a few boat jobs and then went ashore to have a look round Charlestown.  To be met at the dinghy dock by the local nutter who informed us – or should I say shouted at us – not to lock dink onto the rail. We were going to ignore him until he pointed out the official notice. Mmmmm…. a bit uncomfortable with that…. after all dink is our “car” and we would be in trouble without a means to get to and from shore. But we did as we were told and held our breath that this was a safe place…. First stop was the Pas Bar on the waterfront – free wifi – so we could post the blog and let everyone know we were safe and well.

Charlestown is a quaint oldie worldy town with very narrow streets, some cobbled and really old wooden buildings and a large number of banks. Really friendly feel and we particularly enjoyed buying fresh fruit and vegetables at the local market. While we were out we also fixed up a taxi tour of the island for Saturday as we didn’t want to hire a car for the whole day.

So back to Morphie – stowed the shopping and had a lazy few hours on board. About 5pm we went ashore, which is difficult. The beach has a large incline into the water and we were struggling to pull dink up out of the water line…. luckily Joliffe from Chevys came by to help us. So we went in there for a drink and ended up spending the evening with the owners, Chevy and Amelia (who hails from Leeds)… We had a really chilled, entertaining and informative evening also meeting their friends Peter and Vera. Joliffe cooked us some great chicken wings as well as supplying some home-made jewellery and keeping us stocked up in beers. A very cool and multi-talented dude!

Against my better judgement we ended up going for a pontoonie (maritime for one for the road) in Sunshines next door as Richard was determined that he should have a Killer Bee…. Fine – but we still have to get off that damn beach. The waves were breaking and it looked like a really wet operation in the dark – at which point Richard is determined to get naked to keep his clothes dry! Luckily for the watching population I managed to talk him out of it – but we did get absolutely soaked through. I think the lack of a dinghy dock on this beach is what deters the boaters from coming ashore in the evening……although the puppy crew didn’t seem to mind!

Saturday up early and we head in. Sadly we have to check out of Nevis for an early Sunday departure. The weather forecast is for strong winds and 3m+ seas building from Monday afternoon into next week so we are going to have to modify our plans and leave earlier than we would like – and also miss out on Montserrat as it does not have a safe anchorage in large sea conditions. So it looks like a rough 50 mile passage to Antigua straight into winds and sea – so probably another motor job. Anyway…that’s for another day.   Formalities sorted we meet up with Mr Jones who is going to drive us today. 

We travelled the whole island and historically it has a lot going for it with original plantation houses dating back to the 1670s – many of which are now boutique hotels with antique furnishings – alongside sugar mills; numerous churches with ancient graveyards; and the place where Horatio Nelson married his Nevis sweetheart. We also visited the botanical gardens; natural sulphur springs at the Bath House, where I bathed my feet in very hot natural water; volcanic beaches which sparkle with silver bits; pretty townships; and stunning scenery up into the peak of the mountain. The views were gorgeous too….  I was amused by the “monkey xing” road signs everywhere – Mr Jones, however, thought that they should all be turned into cat and dog food as they are eating a lot of the crops!!   We thought it best not to argue with him on this point…


After the tour we wandered back to the dinghy dock – with a sigh of relief that dink was still there -and Richard decided we should have a final sundowner ashore – so back to the beach landing again!!! This time assisted by a helpful tourist…. Couple of beers and a beautiful sunset later we are back on board (again a bit soggy) to do a proper passage plan and other preparations for our long day on Sunday.

Sunday morning we wake up to an alarm clock – and get ready to leave. By the time the sun starts coming up we are underway along the coast of Nevis getting our last glimpse of Charlestown.

At that point the engine alarm goes off!!!! Eeek….. Checking that we are in a safe position we turned the engine off knowing immediately that we had probably bust a fan belt. Yep…oh dear… I stayed up top watching for hazards and Richard managed to get a new one on in record time. That engine course we did before we left home paid dividends today.  Hurrah – all fixed – and off we go again.

As we came to the bottom of Nevis the seas build and the winds started blowing hard – nothing like the forecast! The waves were pounding over our deck and we quickly had to turn our dorades around as we were getting water coming in through them down below such is the force of water across us …. This carried on for a while but it was obvious that it was caused by shallow shoals where the sea was being pushed up from great depths across the top which increased their ferocity. We just need to get out into deeper water and it should all calm down. And, guess what, it did! So after a couple of hours of pretty rough and bumpy conditions it settled down and we just plowed onwards doing our hourly checks and plots on the charts, enjoying the deep blue of the water and the occasionally show put on by the flying fish.

Then about 30 miles into the journey – more than half way – the seas and wind build again. This time joined by torrential rain…. This is starting to be really really horrible and we are getting battered – even worse than on our BVI to St Martin leg – but at least we can see what is happening as it is daylight.    About a mile off the seas calmed down as we came into shallower water again…   Thank you Neptune – we both needed a boost at this stage.

After a nine hour 48 mile trip we finally made it to Jolly Harbour, Antigua, at just before 4pm – wet, cold, salt encrusted and very very tired. But it was really nice to be welcomed on the radio by Glen and Pam from Blue Pearl who are anchored off. Going into the harbour we realise that we have missed customs for the day so we have picked up a mooring ball, raised the yellow quarantine flag, and will stay on board and recover until morning.

Night night….


In Nevis now

Stayed put Monday as planned and had a really nice chilled few hours people watching all the cruise ship guests and catching up with things online courtesy of the Rum Barrel bar. Internet service here is appalling…..the marina offers two hours complimentary use a day per boat…but it never works. A couple of the bars have it – but are so protective of the passwords that they insist on entering it for you! The best place appears to be the Chinese supermarket as we have seen loads and loads of young men on their computers sitting outside and along the walls. Unfortunately we can’t pick it up from the marina even with my extender kit and I’m not going to stoop to that!

We have made arrangements with Wayne to get fuel delivered this afternoon between 2 and 3pm. Richard went off to the petrol station earlier with him to pay – so fingers crossed it all works out. Wayne is a young guy who lost the use of one arm when he got mugged. He is very resourceful and can fix anything you need whilst in the marina. As well as sorting out the fuel he’s also taken a couple of bags of laundry for his mum to do this afternoon… Anyway, diesel turns up on the back of a truck, but the hose isn’t long enough – so we have to decant 25 gallons into one 5 gallon jug at a time and fill up the tank that way. Took ages, but great job, and no charge for the service over and above the pump price!

After we had finished this and a few more boat jobs we went back into town and wandered – suddenly, like a mass exodus, the cruise ship passengers depart as though they had never been there – and the place goes back to being deathly quiet and shuts up shop. We decide to go to the Indian for dinner as we really fancy a proper curry. It was surprisingly good – especially the naan and my mutton rogan josh – and returned to Morphie for the night.

Tuesday morning beckons – and we get up bright and early raring to go. Unfortunately the weather doesn’t agree with us as it is pouring with rain and the wind picks up… The visibility reduces and, although we really have had enough of being on the dock, we know that it would not be a good idea to leave. So we have to stay another day. In the meantime we go and sort out customs to get a boat pass to the southern bays and onto Nevis. The pilot book says you can get one which lasts for a week so you can take your time getting there. Wrong! The boat pass to Nevis only lasts for 24 hours so you either go straight there or you have to get a pass to the southern coast and then return to Basseterre to pick up the Nevis pass. We decided to get the southern approval so we can get up bright and early Wednesday and head down to the beach. Also at the same time we realise that immigration have stamped our passports wrong meaning we have to leave St Kitts and Nevis by Wednesday too….so spent some time unpicking that… Grrrrr……only the British islands are this difficult (so far)!

We really moped around all day – we have pretty much exhausted the area for walking around the marina and visited most of the bars. So went supermarket shopping and did a few more boat jobs. In the evening we had Pollie and Mo from Motivator and Alex from Nepenthe for sundowners. Nice evening.

Wednesday morning up bright and early and we left the marina – hurrah!!! On the water again…. Enjoyed the run down the coast and came into Cockleshell Bay, our destination for two nights. 

Anchored easily although a bit shocked by the depth of the water – over 1m (4ft) lower than the charts say across the bay…. But we set easily and quickly in a patch of sand among the sea grass – but snorkelled to make sure anyway. OMG – running across the sandy spot about 7m / 20 feet in front of our anchor there is a high voltage power cable!!!! Not marked on any chart – physical or electronic. Phew that would not have been fun… We went back on board and took co-ordinates to warn people about this hazard.

We are safe and secure so went ashore to the Reggae Beach Bar for lunch and a leisurely afternoon. Had a nice lunch and was hoping to see the famous pig that likes ketchup and waiting for the monkeys to come down to drink – but didn’t see either. Oh well – had an enjoyable time on the beach and were joined in our bobbing time by Alex and Carol who had come down by car from the marina for the day.

Back on board before dark – and boy is it rolly. No chance of moving now so we have to tough it out. The most miserable night we’ve spent on board for a long while – being battered by waves slapping against the hull and the nodding of Morphie as she rises up and down on her anchor chain…not helped by the knowledge that we were in very shallow water. Oh well – we survived….. but decided to scrap the idea of having another day here!

So very early Thursday morning we went back up to Basseterre, got the Nevis customs clearance pass, and sailed down on a great reach in 15 knots of breeze. A perfect 10 mile sail and we quickly found a good mooring ball – anchoring is not allowed here – and settled in. The views from this anchorage up the Nevis peak are spectacular…..

Went ashore to Charlestown – visited customs and gave them our clearance papers; went into immigration and they agreed to extend our stay for a week if we wanted (phew!); and then the marine office to pay for the mooring. Bargain…. less than £20 for a week…. Back on board and time to sample the delights of the Sunshine bar – took the dinghy up the beach and settled down to people watch the escapees from the nearby Four Seasons hotel getting a bit merry on the Killer Bee cocktail. We just had a quiet late lunch and then bobbed for a while. Back on board before dark and a quiet night enjoying the anchorage and watching the sun go down. Tomorrow we’ll work out what we do from here as there is some bad weather forecast again for next week…

 Night night….


This place is growing on us

Up early Friday morning – returned the hire car and checked out with customs and immigration. Dropped the mooring line and headed out eventually about 10 am. Would have preferred to go earlier but Statia will not allow you to check out the day before and the office doesn’t open until 9.00 am. Oh well – rules are rules.

Anyway….winds were immediately strongish at 23 knots so we reefed down and started our run on a beam reach. Making good way then suddenly the wind died. Oh here we go again. Shook out the reefs and floundered around – then the wind changed direction. And not in our favour either. But at least it picked up to around 15 knots so we are now beating into the wind and waves. We persevered and were taking a heading out to get some miles under us and then we had to tack because we had a huge oil tanker bearing down on us – so we got out of his way pretty quickly. When we tacked in towards the island the wind fell away again and we are floundering and making no way against the running sea. Tacked back out quickly and the wind picked up and we’re flying at 7.5 knots….until it died again. By this time the day is ticking by and we really need to get into the marina soonest as we don’t want to lose our reserved slip. So for the last eight miles out of 33 in total for the day, we motor sailed in.

Arrived at Port Zante marina, Basseterre, St Kitts around 4pm but no-one would answer the radio. So we don’t know where to put our fenders…. Eventually they did answer and told us that we had to go into a slip with one (tiny) finger pontoon on starboard bow with two pilings to hold our stern. We hate these pilings and we are not happy as we had specifically requested an alongside slip. But they have no others, so we have to go for it. Well it wasn’t pretty but no damage was done to the boat or ourselves so that’s the main thing!

By the time we are tied up and secure it is getting late. So quickly get ready to go to customs and immigration at the cruise ship dock nearby. Customs were home and cleared the boat in. But immigration had left for the evening – so we asked if we could check in with them in the morning. The answer is no – so we have to go to the airport! This cost us £15 by cab return. When we got there they made us sit and wait – even though no planes had landed and there were no queues – and the woman official was definitely not the friendly or welcoming sort…. Welcome to St Kitts – another British island!

Back eventually hot and bothered to the marina to find that Evensong – who were well into their sundowner drinks – had been asked to move and back into a slip further down. Not an easy place at all – but they managed it brilliantly even though they were pretty fed up. They had also found a place to go for dinner in town and invited us to join them – so we quickly went back on Morphie and got ready and we all headed into town. As we were walking to the restaurant – and this is 5 mins from the marina in the main circus area – we noticed two youths coming up behind a couple of the guys…clearly looking to lift a wallet or two. So we closed ranks quickly together and went into the restaurant. Service left much to be desired – although our food was fine – and instead of asking us whether we wanted dessert / coffee or even more drinks, they presented us with the bills. I guess we got the message, paid up and left. Walking back to the boats we stayed closely together. Have to say not a great first impression of this place!

In the morning we gave Morphie a lovely leisurely bath – making the most of the unlimited water supply on the dock. This is a great deal – $15 one off payment for all you can use for an unlimited period – so no meters to be read or nasty surprises when we check out. After our own leisurely showers we went for a wander into town – having taken advice from the security guys about which areas are considered ‘safe’. Wandered around and the cruise ship terminal is full of shops selling the same stuff – that said I managed to spend some money on a few items of clothing and a new pair of shoes! We also took advantage of the duty-free shop to get some different rums.

Basseterre has a range of ancient English built properties and some French influences with beautiful colonial styles all mixed up with almost a shanty town….and that’s the no go area! Anyway…. the vibe changes as you turn street corners – so we quickly worked out where it was OK to wander. But we enjoyed our first real glimpse of St Kitts, which is more heavily populated than islands we have been to recently. Having sorted out a taxi tour of the island tomorrow we settled into a bar in the cruise ship area and bumped into Charlie and Troy from the marina – they stopped and had beers with us and gave us a potted history of the island. Really interesting guys…. Then the Evensong gang came along having had a torturous morning replacing a broken macerator – think poo everywhere! So they were ready for a scoop too. After a pleasant afternoon we headed back to Morphie with sundowner plans – we are eating on board tonight as we don’t fancy going out after dark – and ended up having drinks on the back of a large motorboat called Motivator with this other cruising couple as well as the Evensong crew. Lovely lovely time was had by all….

This morning we headed off to do a tour of the island by taxi having said goodbye to Evensong as they continued their run down island. Didn’t think hiring a car here would be the way to go as it would be very easy to wander into the wrong place by accident. We had a great tour with Junie – and learnt a lot about the history of the island.  Visited historic sites such as Brimstone Hill Fort – which is now a World Heritage site and home to the British army and a contingent of slaves for many years; an old Sugar Plantation; an old Manor house with beautiful botanical gardens; along with stunning scenic shots as we went around. Oh yes, and being Sunday, there were churches overflowing everywhere with beautifully dressed families in spectacular clothing spilling into the road after services.

Sobering to note that the English and French managed to massacre 2,000 Carib Indians on this island when they settled here – and then went on to build most of the infrastructure, including the huge fort, with slave labour. The French introduced the velvet monkey, which are not indigenous – and the story goes that they were pets that escaped and bred. But Junie’s version that the French bought them over to release them to eat the English farmer’s crops appealed to me! They are also popular pets when they come down to forage for fruit – and we both had a close encounter with Timmy today….

Had a really nice day and went back on board for a lazy evening. St Kitts has grown on us over the past couple of days.  We are going to stay here today – Monday – and perhaps tomorrow if the weather is as predicted….   The plan is to head down to a beach anchorage further down the coast and then onto Nevis….    But today there are two huge ships in so the place is absolutely rammed and hopping! 

Bye for now


Our time in Statia

We spent a leisurely afternoon ashore and enjoyed the view to the anchorage from The Old Gin House…. We only had a couple of beers each as we’re diving in the morning – and went back on board to get our dive kit sorted in preparation. So a quiet and early night on board.

In the morning we are up really early as we have to be at the dive shop by 8.30 am – and made it on time. There was a huge, and unexpected, crowd there. We were really worried as there is nothing worse – in my opinion – than a crowd of 20 people on a boat and all doing the same dive with a varying degree of skill. Luckily the crowd – who were really nice people – were all from one dive club in Michigan so commandeered the large dive boat. No worries – we’ll go with a Canadian couple and dive master on Stumpy, the little dive boat. Fantastic – four of us plus Ray the Geordie lad who was leading the dive….. 

Kitted up and ready to go but Richard had a problem with his BCD on the verge of going into the water – the high pressure hose would fill up his jacket with air and wouldn’t stop! So had to be disconnected and he was going to have to manage the old fashioned way of blowing the BCD up when he needed it inflated…. Oh well – no worries. Large giant stride of the back and he was gone to the anchor line – I took the easier way off the boat by doing a backward roll – and met up at the bow. Pretty lumpy out there…so descended down to our first dive of the day, at a dive site called ‘Hangover’. This was made up of lines and lines of lava flow which had been colonised by mainly soft corals and huge gorgonian fans…. As this is all marine park and maintained, the quality of the coral was stunning. Beautiful and vibrant swaying with the current with an aquarium of reef fish enjoying themselves moving in and out with the sea….and some strange shapes, some large sponges and some soft tubes which looked like mouth accordions! No underwater camera I’m afraid so no photos. This dive was down to about 20 metres with undulating rivulets flowing back to the cliff edge…. Stunning and a great dive site – visibility was complete – could see all the way to the surface and shadows were only made by clouds hiding the sun at times….. The best part of the dive, to me, was the fact that there was no one around and more fish than I’ve seen in a long while. The usual suspects were there – triggers, parrots, lobsters, angels and huge bat fish. Best of all was a massive barracuda and a formation swim of a large number of squid… They are weird and cute all at the same time!

Anyway…after 45 mins it was time to get back on board… Valet diving service with Ray helping me up with my gammy legs and the fact that I have to wear 10 kilos of weights around my waist as I’m naturally very very buoyant (no sniggering boys and girls!!!!)….. Back to get the tanks refilled and then we were into our second dive on a site called ‘The Humps’. Again larva flow out to sea only this time there was volcanic sand between the flows…. Descended down the line and straight away we saw a tiny little seahorse clinging to a piece of soft coral swaying in the breeze…. Oh my – this is pretty special…. seahorses are very difficult to find anywhere and to be able to settle on the sand and watch one close up was a magical moment. Anyway onwards and round the corner we come across a baby nurse shark under the outcrops. This just gets better and better. Then a huge variety of reef fish all around in every colour under the rainbow imaginable with sparkly spots, black eyes, stripy lips…you name, it was here. This has to be one of our most memorable dives ever. Absolutely wonderful and all too soon it was time to head back to the surface after a fantastic 54 minutes underwater….

Back on land and back to Morphie…. The weather forecast has been constantly predicting north swells so we are thinking that we’ll move her to a mooring ball (anchoring is forbidden here unless all balls are taken) further out as we are pretty close to the shoreline. Well – that was the theory anyway…. We dropped our current mooring – went out and picked up a pretty sturdy one – but was so unprotected it was like being in the middle of a washing machine on a fast spin… No way could we stay there! So we moved about half way into the anchorage and picked up another ball – this time it was in really poor condition and we weren’t happy about that….so ended up going back to the original one after all. What a waste of time! Oh well….. Anyway… we spent the rest of the day washing the kit, hanging it all out to dry, and lazing around. We could not be bothered to go ashore so we had another quiet night on board.

Wednesday we didn’t want to be too far from Morphie in case the swells did come through and made the anchorage dodgy. So weren’t up and about too early – and then we spotted this black rib coming into the anchorage from a large grey war-like vessel.   Oh oh…it’s the coastguard.  These guys – all dressed in black carrying guns – then boarded a boat and spent quite a while on board.  We had heard about these inspections in Dutch islands – so I got together everything they would want to look at.  Boat papers, flares, fire extinguishers, life jackets etc etc….   They worked their way around the anchorage and didn’t seem in any hurry – so went for a swim around the boat while we were waiting!   Came back on board and carried on waiting…   OK they have done everyone now….so it must be our turn.   And guess what – they went off to join their mothership and didn’t come anywhere near us.   We are the only European boat in the anchorage so maybe that was it?   Or just that they run out of time?   Interesting….

After all that excitement we decided to go for a hike up the hill to the top of the cliff which is where Oranjestad resides. To call it a town would be an exaggeration, it’s more like a little hamlet on top of the cliff with a one way road system and some very old houses and a fort. Fantastic views and so friendly that everyone stops and talks to us. Everyone wants to make sure we are enjoying our stay and just want to spend the time of day with us. Wow – amazing – this is the unspoilt Caribbean without any real tourism. Love it, love it, love it!

Back on board after a bit of food shopping and we decide to go snorkelling along the edge of the bay – and come across an interesting ridge which marks the remains of the old warehouses and city walls when this place was a vibrant sea port back in its day … we met loads of fish on the way and were astounded to come across a cannon and an ancient anchor. I knew there were hundreds of shipwrecks here but a cannon? A real one just sitting there in less than 3m of water? This just doesn’t get any better….

After resting up we went aboard Evensong for sundowners – we met Dan the owner in the BVIs. Him and Ruth have their friends Mike and Angela on board and we had a nice time with them before heading off on our own to The Old Gin House for BBQ night. We ended up chatting to the guys from the dive shop as well as some of the Mitchigan dive crew. The DJ was a bit random – didn’t expect to hear Dexy’s Midnight Runners in the Caribbean?!?  Although he did get some people up dancing when he put on the reggae….    Smashing evening to round off a really nice chilled day.

This morning (Thursday) we headed out to pick up our hire car – $55 for a day including insurance, what a bargain – and we drove the whole island which is only 5 miles by 3 miles. Visited the Atlantic side to watch the waves and we were the only ones in the car park. Did I say car park? Think grass on top of a cliff with goats and cows for company only. Roads here have tarmac, in places, huge huge potholes and mostly just mud. They go up, down and around the mountain with sheer drops on the side at times… All a bit hairy in our baby runaround…. But great fun to explore this way. And Richard left his racing driver tendencies behind today thankfully…

Visited the botanical gardens and looked out for the rare iguanas, but didn’t see any.  But we did watch a hummingbird flit from plant to plant – but no photos as they are just too small and too quick!   We were also amazed at the view of our next destination St Kitts in the distance. Also went by an old English sugar plantation dating back to the slave days. After an enjoyable day out we came back on board and tidied up in time to welcome the crew from Evensong as it was our turn to host sundowners. Nice time was had by all – and we are alone now prepping for tomorrow’s trip to another island. We will be sad to leave Statia – this is a really chilled friendly place – and we have loved our time here.

Night night


Au Revoir St-Barth, Verwelkoming St Eustatius

We went ashore just as the sun was setting on Saturday night – continuing to be amazed at the closeness of some of the anchored yachts to each other.   Seems like we chose a good spot because no-one came anywhere near us, luckily!   Oh yes, and doesn’t Morphie look lovely in the sunset???

We wandered around Gustavia looking for a place to eat. We found a few nice menus but most restaurants were empty…. and many did not have good views either, tucked away in back streets away from the harbour area. So we decided to bite the bullet and go to a nice French restaurant where we could sit outside and look at the array of superyachts that are all anchored up stern to the boardwalk. Had a lovely meal but completely pigged out and ate too much – so after dining, we went back on board feeling really uncomfortable and stuffed. Retired early eagerly anticipating our taxi tour of St-Barth on Sunday.

Sunday morning we get up feeling a bit better – but not completely recovered – and decided to wait a little before going ashore to pick up a taxi at the ferry dock. Just as well we did as the heavens opened! So we sat tight and waited for the blue sky to return….and in the meantime we cleaned all the crusty salt off of Morphie’s stainless steel and topped up the water tanks by running the watermaker. Around 11 am – feeling much better and vowing to be kinder to our stomachs in future – we dinked into town. Now when we checked this out we were told that any day we just needed to go to the taxi rendezvous at the ferry terminal and most – but not all – do island tours for a fixed price. They all have a particularly logo on the side. Anyway….when we get there….we find a sole taxi driver who didn’t do tours… With a Gallic shrug he pointed out that it is Le Weekend – Sunday – and all the shops are shut too….but another one might be along. So we waited awhile and another one pulled in – and yes, he did do these tours – but wanted 50% more cash for doing it on a Sunday. You know what – the answer is no! Really fed up now…. Grrrr…..

Not to be deterred, we head off to see if we can hire a car for a day instead but all the rental offices were shut too… So it looks like the mysteries of St-Barth will remain that way. But we did go for a trek up the mountainous hillside to Fort Gustave which overlooks the harbour and the surrounding anchorages – and then a bit further up the road to the gap in the hills which is where all the light aircraft drop out of the sky to land onto the runway below. Quite dramatic stuff, particularly when you are sitting in the anchorage and they abort the landing because they are not quite lined up correctly. So we hang around for awhile but no landings – obviously plane schedules are also linked to Le Weekend! – although we did see one take off that looked to have a fair degree of difficulty too.

After a breather we wandered back down the hill in the blazing heat trying to avoid getting run over by the mad motorists who seem to take pleasure in making me squirm as they come really really close. Back into Gustavia and we took some time taking in many of the sights of the old buildings reflecting the mixed heritage of this island which has, in its day, been fought over by the British, French and the Spanish. It was also given to the Swedes by France in 1784 and sold back to France in 1878. There are also stories that pirate treasure from Mountbars the Exterminator remains buried here…… This could have been his anchor maybe?

In the end we decided to follow the signs to the plage and came across Shell Beach, which is a pretty sand beach surrounded by dramatic rock formations. Obviously a hip and trendy sort of place – so we decided to settle into a quiet corner at the beachside restaurant / bar Do Brazil – and did some serious people watching. The funniest bit was the model that would come strolling through the restaurant every 15 minutes or so wearing a different outfit from the boutique. Actually some of the beach cover-ups were really nice so I decided to take a wander in and have a look – with credit card wobbling in anticipation. As soon as I walked in I realised that this wasn’t going to be an option as it was very high end and I really didn’t think that I could justify to Richard spending upwards of €200 on a beach wrap! Oh well….it was a nice thought while it lasted. We really enjoyed ourselves people watching and after a few lazy hours we headed back to the harbour to pick up dink and get back on board Morphie for a quiet night.

Overall we enjoyed seeing St-Barth but wasn’t a place we’d rush back to – not really interested in designer labels and top top end designer jewellery. It is really picturesque though with its pretty harbour, lovely beaches, huge boats and some amazing real estate perched into the hills.  All the restaurants were nice looking and had great, albeit expensive, menus. But everywhere – apart from Do Brazil which had a nice vibe – was really really quiet and it makes you wonder how they can afford to keep all these places open with the lack of customers. We only saw the yellow submarine take out one set of day trippers in the three days we’ve been here. Oh yes, did I tell you that when we went past the submarine one day and the skipper was on board we sang out loud “We all live in a yellow submarine…..”  Made us laugh and he did wave – although I wonder how many times he’s heard that eh?!?    According to the guide books St-Barth is apparently like St Tropez although I’ve never been! It could be that the place has a different feel on cruise ship days?? Oh well – nice to see and glad we did take the time to get here – but really not for us so time to move on and leave the Renaissance Islands.

Up early on Monday and we were picking up our anchor about 7.30 ish…. But before we went we had to take a photo of the 43.4m long black-hulled J boat – sail number H1 – which anchored behind us last night – gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous…. This one’s for you Flo!

Motored out of the channel and hoisted the sails for the beam reach down to St Eustatius – a Dutch island this time – and commonly known as Statia. We are missing out Saba as the anchorage is poor and unless you are into mountain trekking there isn’t a lot there… Anyway these islands are known as The Islands that Brush the Clouds. As you sail towards them you see why! We had a fantastic sail – the type that dreams are made of. Lightish winds which picked up to a steady 13 knots and from the right direction; relatively flat seas and no swells; brilliant navy blue sea reflecting its depth of a mile+; and the occasional flying fish parade skimming across the top. What a joy and the best day so far. We covered the 30 miles easily and entered Oranje Baii – the only anchorage on this small island which has a volcano perched at one end – and checked into the Dutch customs and immigration – and headed ashore.

Statia is largely a marine park – although, bizarrely, it also has a large oil terminal where they store and distribute fuel and has some weird contraption of metal in the sea which has long floating pipes coming away from it, definitely a navigational hazard! Anyway….this place is supposed to have really good dive sites. So we’ve booked to go on Tuesday morning for a double tanker. We’re really looking forward to making bubbles again!

Bye for now


We’ve arrived at Saint-Barthélemy

Friday morning up bright and early and we were on our way by 8 o’clock to make the run down to Saint-Barthélemy. The wind was around 15 knots and we enjoyed the downwind run along the north coast of Anguilla under headsail alone. As we turned around the bottom of Anguillita we got the main out for a reach across the Anguilla passage towards St Martin. Great sailing…. Bye Anguilla… 

However, when we started to run alongside St Martin the wind died on us and we were beating into building swelly seas and getting very salty. But we were determined to carry on sailing and were rewarded with winds that topped 20 knots and we were having a great time. But about 10 miles out the wind died again and we were not making much headway at all even with all three sails out … so we ended up motoring the rest of the way. We eventually arrived at Gustavia at 3.30 pm having covered 32 miles.

We knew that this was a popular French island – and boy, there are boats everywhere, of all shapes and sizes. Even the 390 feet $300mn+ superyacht A is here….. Deciding where to position ourselves safely was difficult – the anchorages are hugely crowded with very little swinging room between boats…. The harbour has some bow and stern mooring balls laid out but these were all full…. And going stern to one of the docks was starting to look very attractive until the wind picked up and we realised that we’d have to reverse into the strengthening wind – not our favourite pastime. Morphie really doesn’t like going backwards in a straight line! So we headed further out of Gustavia to Corossol which is tucked away to the left of the shipping line. It was a bit deep at 30 feet but luckily we managed to find a sandy spot to drop in and got a good set straight away. Phew…. and not many boats around us. Happy days!

We dinked in to do our customs and immigration clearance – all on computer again. Really simple –except that the French territories do not use a qwerty keyboard so as a trained touch typist I am making mistakes all other the shop… Who would, in their right mind, put the letter ‘a’ on the top line???? Anyway with some help from the very charming Capitanaire we got checked in and paid a total of €27 for three nights at anchor in the outside bay. Had a couple of cold ones at a local brasserie on the boardwalk and then went back to Morphie for a quiet night on board enjoying the spectacular sunset.

This morning we had a French patisserie breakfast and wandered Gustavia a bit – this place is full of historic buildings, up-market designer shops and quaint pink-roofed villas set into the hillside. This is definitely a rich and famous destination! Went to the chandlery and got a few things and did a few bits of food shopping and now back on board. Going to go out for dinner tonight – if we can find somewhere we can afford mind – and planning a taxi tour of the island tomorrow. We found out that this was actually cheaper than hiring a car and I’m sure a couple of hours will be enough to cover this tiny little mountainous place.


Bye for now