First days in Martinique

Sunday night having had a few beers and got up to date with internet stuff, we went back on board to find that we are really close to the catamaran behind us. We know that we got a good set but we have been swinging 180 degrees at times today….  And with no wind we often swing different to others because of our long keel – but still a bit confused as to why this happened now.   Richard went over to chat to the guy and it turns out that this catamaran is not actually anchored but on a block fixed to the sea floor – as he is responsible for maintaining the dive sites.  So in effect he’s on a mooring (without any physical sign grrrrrr….) and we would never have anchored near him if we had known…..  Well obviously he’s not moving – so as the light has now gone we are faced with re-anchoring in the dark. We managed it without incident, got a good set and reset the anchor alarm.  Of course – the wind now decides to pick up and blow hard – so we have a really sleepless night.

By Monday morning we are shattered so we head off early into town to do the customs clearance – and we are the fourth boat in line although it is only just gone 9 am.  Didn’t take too long – fill in the form, print it off, get it stamped and signed and we’re in. No fee this time either – nice!  We then went for a wander to look at more ruins from the volcanic eruption – especially the theatre and the prison cell where one of only two survivors were found.   

After lunchtime we picked up our hook and headed down towards Fort de France – Martinique’s capital. As we headed out to sea to run down the beautiful coast the wind was non-existent…..


We got sails out but struggled to go anywhere – which was a common theme listening in to all the VHF radio traffic. Then – hang on – it’s a rodeo ride. The wind suddenly shot up to 30+ knots as we moved further away from the coastline and the seas also picked up. We reefed down and settled in for a really exciting ride. We were moving in excess of 8 knots at one point – absolutely fantastic. Having so much fun on this 10 mile trip that we stayed out for quite some time and ended up at our destination – Anse Martin – later that afternoon having covered 28 miles tacking around including having a peek at Fort de France – the capital of Martinique – along the way. Oh yes, and although still no glimpse of the elusive whales, we were joined by a pod of dolphins who frolicked in the water alongside us during the day. This was a great antidote to a stressful night…. Monday night we didn’t go anywhere – just had a quite one on board and an early night – and enjoyed another beautiful sunset.

Tuesday morning up early and wandered the town – found the local boulangerie for breakfast and the nearest supermarket for supplies. We also did a few boat jobs when we got back and unpacked the shopping. Then we were joined in the anchorage by Dan and Ruth on Evensong – who we had last spent time with in St Kitts – and Ann and Ed on Windswept Dreams (another Island Packet). So quickly arrangements were made for sundowners onboard Evensong and we went over around 4pm…. Well, usually sundowners last for a couple of hours, but reunions are always great when fuelled with rum so we actually ended up having quite a late night and played some domino game for the first time which was great fun…..

Wednesday we had planned a beach day. We went into town for breakfast first – and to get more provisions as we are hosts for sundowners this evening. Well we just sat down with our grande cafe and pastries and the heavens opened…. A huge downpour which we just sat out. Eventually we dodged the rain and got back to Morphie a bit damp – but the heavens opened again and we had monsoon like weather for the whole of the day. At one point Richard – my hero – had to get into the dink in the middle of it all to bail out as it was in danger of sinking under the weight of all the rain water… So we pulled dink up onto the arch and pulled the bung – so the water runs straight out….  And because we were boat bound in the rain Morphie got a complete spring clean…..

Sundowners went off OK – and my home-made pizza seemed to go down very well!!!! We eventually ended up the evening watching a pre-recorded DVD of greyhound racing and did some mad betting – which was the first time any of our guests had seen dog racing. I’m not quite sure what our neighbours in the anchorage might have thought though, with all the cheering / shouting and screaming going on! And …. just like the night before…. the winner was Dan.

Thursday we all decided to go into the capital via the local ferry that runs every half an hour from our anchorage…. Had a great day wandering around and admiring the architecture – which covered all styles including art deco; some colonial; quite fancy (albeit decrepit) balconied houses; along with some pretty rough looking office blocks. And the library which looked more like a folly – although it turns out it was originally built in Paris, dismantled, shipped here and rebuilt in the late 1800s… We also enjoyed the local markets and definitely didn’t fancy crab for tea from the cages of them at the fish market…. And Richard made us all laugh when he tried on daft hats in the market.   Great time had by all – although we missed Ruth who was poorly today.

Back on board now for a quiet night and planning that elusive beach day tomorrow – so fingers crossed for a sunny day!

Night night….and Happy Easter to you all.

Whales 0 : 1 France

Friday morning we are up with the lark and by 7.50 am we are ready to go, along with a packed lunch as we are going to be on the water for up to seven hours today. Really excited…and have snorkel gear with us just in case we get really really lucky. OK – by 9.00 I’m pretty fed up……where are they? Radioed but no answer….. Eventually they turned up just gone 9 with apologies… Oh well – at least we are still on. We climb into the boat – a 20 foot open skiff called “Terror” with two monster 200hp outboards on the back. Oh yes, did I say it was raining and the sea state was rough????

We try to get comfy but not easy when you are sitting on a metal strut that runs across the middle of the boat with no handholds or anything – so all the pressure is on your backside and legs to absorb the shocks as we travel at 30+ knots…. Exciting and scary all at the same time – I was convinced I was going to fall out a couple of times when I lost contact with the boat as we hit a wave and the whole boat took off! Anyway…. heading out to sea and Andrew gets out his hydrophone pole to listen for whale activity. We hear some clicks – but really difficult for us to decipher what it all means – and Andrew says that whales are moving away from Dominica into the Atlantic channel to Martinique.

But not really an option to follow them as the sea state is poor and the channel can be really rough at the best of times…. So we continue to move up the west coast of Dominica and stop every 30 minutes or so to listen again. Andrew spots humpback whales on the coast – although we didn’t see them – but we are actually after a particular pod of sperm whales that Andrew has studied over many years. Well….no activity this time….nor the next…. although we did see a nice pod of dolphins.

By the time we get to the top of Dominica near the Cabrits marine park we are pretty exhausted – with very very very sore bums, legs and arms from the sheer hell of the ride. Well – we turned around to return back down the coast and Andrew declares ‘no whales on the West coast today’…. so what did we want to do? By now we’d settle for a sighting – let alone snorkelling with them!!! So we headed off – at huge speed – back down to the bottom of the island and into the Atlantic channel between Dominica and Martinique. Again out comes the hydrophone…and nothing… nada…..zilch. Damn… Really really disappointed – but enough is enough – so we go back to Morphie to lick our wounds and recover from the physical demands of the day.

In the evening we popped into Westport Tavern again for our final sundowners and back on board for a quiet night – although it took us a while to track down a lift back to Morphie as both Desmond and Pancho went on the missing list…. Eventually Pancho turned up but we think he was definitely out partying somewhere – or just drinking rum! – as his boat-handling skills were definitely somewhat impaired!

Up early Saturday morning and we slipped away from Dominica before 6.30 am for the trip to Martinique. Had a fantastic fast and exciting sail – although the wind again was stronger than forecast at 23-25 knots and the sea state remained rough with 10 foot waves – but at least it was sunny again. Flying fish were everywhere – although at least none of them committed suicide by landing on us today – and we also had a dolphin visit very briefly as he jumped out alongside us. First impression of Martinique is that it is a bit spooky with the clouds hovering over the tops of the mountains – are you sure no dinosaurs still live here?

We arrived pretty tired but happy after 40 miles into St Pierre in just over six hours – but struggled to get a good set with the anchor first time in just over 30 feet of water in sea grass but we got a good one next time. When we are in deeper water I like to snorkel the anchor just to make sure – especially as there is a big drop off just beyond us. But I quickly retreated to the back of Morphie when I came across a large number of moon jelly fish. I really dislike them of all things in the ocean…and I’m sure some of our neighbours in the anchorage heard me screaming through my snorkel!!!

Too late to do customs Saturday – so yellow quarantine flag is hoisted and we are staying on board. First impression of St Pierre from the anchorage is that it is quiet and sleepy and you can see the area where the lava flow ran into the town and killed 30,000 thousand people in 1902 and sank 12 boats in the harbour when Mount Pele erupted…..

Sunday customs are shut!!! So no clearance today either…. but all the boats flying yellow flags have gone ashore so we did too… We wondered around this sleepy place – up to the fort – and into the supermarket for some fresh provisions. Interesting how the new premises have used the original ruins to build upon – and some ruins just stand there derelict. Very little English spoken here so time to break out the school girl French again! Yummmmm…back in the land of French bread and cheese! As it is Le Weekend, most places are shut. But we have found a bar with internet for sundowners – will be back on board for a quiet night soon.

Bye for now


Cricket, lovely cricket

Tuesday evening we met Pam and Glen and went to the Westport Tavern (which is the new name for the Drop Anchor bar) to have dinner. Guess what – Lion Fish are on the menu!   Hurrah…. Everyone tried it apart from me – yeah, I know, but I’m really not that much of a fish fan. They all thought it was good – and the prices are great too (they are Eastern Caribbean dollars not US!). Had a really nice evening and bid our final farewells to them both as they continue now to run down island ahead of us for the rest of the season.

Wednesday morning we get up early as we have decided to go to see the cricket. We are not really cricket fans but felt the opportunity to see the first day of the test match between West Indies and Zimbabwe was too good to miss. Especially when the tickets are only a fiver each….. Well we went ashore via water taxi and walked up to the Windsor Park Stadium. It was pretty quiet as we queued to get our tickets and entered into the stadium picking up a coffee and banana bread on the way…. Took our seats way up high under cover and it was boiling hot with very little breeze even though it was raining. Anyway….the stadium had few people about when the first ball was bowled (by the WIndies) at just gone 10.00 am.

Then suddenly they started arriving…. masses of them along with all sorts of food…. We started to get into the game and, of course, we are cheering on the WIndies and people around us started to get friendly towards us – guess they might have thought we were Zimbabwe fans?? Anyway….. they kept on coming….. and this is truly a family affair with loads of school children herded like cats by their teachers; old single women with bizarre outfits and flags; family groups and couples like us. Even the occasional white face in the crowd too…. The funniest thing was when one of the crowd started to diss the Dominican player for dropping a ball – and the old dear with the flag went up behind him and whacked him with her stick! It gets real passionate in this crowd….

Well the WIndies were all over Zimbabwe….wickets were flying….and the Dominican bowler Shane Shillington was elevated to hero status as he took five wickets…. Then people started to come into the stands to ply their goods – there was popcorn, ice cream, crisps, soft drinks and beer all being touted about constantly as well as souvenir hats, t-shirts and other usual stuff…….  Did I say beer? Oh yes, it was Kubuli the local stuff and was freely available within the stadium…. Helps on a hot humid day you know… The Kubuli girls were also out and about dressed in skimpy outfits handing out goodies…. The noise escalated and bands were playing, drums were beating, horns – not unlike those used at the last World Cup in South Africa – were heard….and everyone moved to the beat. It was amazing. 

Broke for lunch and we headed off outside to find some food from the local vendors… Didn’t fancy pig snouts or ears so settled on baked ribs and rice. Was actually very good although sitting on concrete steps wasn’t the most comfortable way to enjoy it! Then we wandered about enjoying the spectacle and I got accosted by one of the wild dancing men of Dominica and Richard managed to wangle himself a photo with the Kubuli girls…..

Great time had by all – we eventually left the match just after the WIndies went into bat having got Zimbabwe out for 175…. and we walked back through Roseau enjoying the sights and returned to the Westpoint Tavern (opposite Morphie) where we enjoyed a final beer before getting a water taxi back on board for an early night.

Up at a reasonable time this morning as we are trying to arrange to go whale watching…. Desmond – our boat boy – says he knows someone who can help us out here.  We are not really interested in the real commercial operations as they are known to annoy the whales to ensure that people see them close up.   So we are interested in an alternative operation.   Well, it turns out this ‘someone’ is none other than Andrew Armour who is known as the Whale Whisperer and who has built up a relationship with a number of the whales who live in these local waters over many years particularly his buddy Scar. To the extent that he swims with them!  For our UK followers there was a Channel 4 documentary about this last year. Andrew is passionate about the whale’s welfare and only interacts with them when they invite him to do so….. Well – guess what – we are going out for the day with him tomorrow to try and see whales.  Really can’t wait and he said that we can take our snorkels along and get in the water if the whales are in the mood – but not with the intention of touching them just to enjoy being in their presence. As scuba divers it is important to us that the welfare of the wild animals comes first…..   I have to say we are beyond excited about the prospect!

Now we have that sorted nothing else planned for today….so just relaxing other than a quick trip into Roseau to get some more drinking vouchers out of the ATM…..   After the trip tomorrow (Friday) we are heading out of Dominica to Martinique on Saturday – which is a 50+ mile trip, so will update the blog from there…..

Bye for now


Same country, different anchorage – Roseau, Dominica

Thursday we explored again by car – this time going up to Fort Shirley accompanied by a local dog who decided to be a guide…. Bit disappointed with this Fort – looks amazing from the outside with the renovated ramparts, the cannons and the buildings….but go inside and it looks like it is being kitted out as a wedding venue rather than a restored historic monument.

After walking back down we got back in our trusty jeep and decided to drive around the volcanic crater. Up and down these roads – some concrete, some tarmac, some mud – through lush greenery and constantly being struck dumb by the views….and terrified by the hairpin bends! Going past the crater we came across a young lady carrying a baby who asked for a lift – so we helped her out and gave her a lift up and down the mountain. Letting her out at her family home a young girl came out and shouted at her ‘ What you doing going with a white man???’… Oh well you can’t win them all! 

Carrying on up and around and we were asked for another lift by a local guy at the bus stop. Admittedly not keen – but Richard has much more faith in human nature than I do – so we picked him up and drove him to his girlfriend’s house. Short tour through the fruit trees in the gardens and his girlfriend opens up an outbuilding and, lo and behold, it is a small bar / rum shop! So we had a beer each and Richard had to sample some local rums until we then moved on again. A really nice couple who are thinking of getting married – but didn’t want to rush it, as they had only been together four years and are in their fifties!!!   Finished our excursion by having a late lunch at the Portsmouth Beach Hotel to be flagged down by the security guard who thanked us for giving his baby a lift home earlier today…. Small world!

Friday morning back out diving again with Don and his cousin Fabian who is a dive master. Fantastic visibility today and almost perfect conditions. We did two dive sites – one where a huge cliff rock fall has created an underwater aquarium with swim throughs, caves and encrusted coral. Saw mostly small stuff including loads of lobsters, reef fish – particularly cute baby trunk fish – a very large spiny puffer and a good-sized eagle ray which swam in out of the blue. Bad news that there are quite a lot of lion fish about – they are not indigenous and are prolific hunters / breeders. There is a kill programme in the Caribbean to eradicate the nuisance but clearly they are gaining ground….. The reef fish need to recognise them as a danger so that they stay clear – and people don’t like to handle them either as they have very toxic spines…. Apparently they are good eating but we haven’t found them on a menu yet!!!

Friday afternoon we had a lazy time and then went ashore to a local beach bar to meet Alexis and the dive guys for a farewell drink. We had a really nice time – listened to the local guy playing live – and had a lot of laughs. When they left I went to settle our bill to find that they had cleared it for us!!!! All we had to pay for was our last two beers…. This generous gesture – especially as we would not get the opportunity to say thank you – completely blew us away. Thanks guys!

Saturday morning up bright and early as we are heading down to Roseau, the capital of Dominica. By 7.15 am we had slipped out of Portsmouth and said goodbye to Alexis on the radio… Headed out to 10 miles offshore as we were told that this is where the whales hang out. Well – we couldn’t sail it despite trying hard due to lack of wind – so got into position, turned the engine off and waited. We saw some disturbance on the water and saw two dolphins going by to join their pod. But no whales. Or at least none that showed themselves. Interestingly though, we were in 2,000 feet of water but there was something under our boat that kept moving our depth gauge from between 25 and 40 feet. Could have been anything but who knows!  As we turned towards Roseau we enjoyed the cloud formations and the rugged coastline to find the wind now completely on our nose so we ended up motoring into the town.

We had already pre-arranged a mooring with SeaCat – this anchorage is way too deep – and his colleague Desmond came out to greet us as we neared the coast. Took us towards the ball and we hooked on quickly.  We then asked him to take us to Customs as we need to hand over our cruising permit to get permission to stay down this end of the island before we move on towards Martinique, our next port of call. We got the formalities out of the way and went ashore for sundowners at the Drop Anchor bar which we are moored directly opposite. Wow sunsets are gorgeous here….and Morphie looks so good enjoying her new anchorage.

Sunday is St Patrick’s Day…and the Drop Anchor’s landlady has an Irish dad….so celebrations are going to be happening here… So boat job morning including loads of washing and cleaning and then ashore to listen to Danny Boy, the Irish Rover and other Irish ditties… Good time had by all, although Richard was a bit melancholy for a while thinking about his family, especially those who are prematurely no longer with us….

Monday everything is quiet – we have noticed this in Dominica, we think the locals party real hard on a Sunday so Monday is a recovery day, with loads of shops closed! But actually there is a cruise ship in so we head into town for a wander about….

Roseau is a mix of old buildings; new cars; some western influences such as Pizza Hut and Subway and loads of people milling around trying to sell the cruise ship passengers tours and t-shirts. We enjoyed people watching although have been a bit concerned about the number of amputees around – apparently, though, this is due to the huge amount of natural sugar in their diet and a consequence of diabetes. But there seemed to be fewer people begging here than we came across in Portsmouth – although perhaps I’ve become immune????

Arriving back into the anchorage Glen and Pam on Blue Pearl – who we last saw in Antigua – have caught up with us as they run down island. We arrange for them to come on board for sundowners and we had a really nice time catching up – and Glen and Richard enjoyed trying all the new rums we now have on board….  Passion fruit, lime, cocoa, coconut to name a few…..

Early to bed and late to rise…’s now Tuesday…and we are doing more boat jobs, particularly generating water as we are a bit low. Richard has also given dink’s bottom a good old clean. Anyway…nothing planned for today apart from meeting Glen and Pam later…. We are thinking about what to do before we leave here – there are a couple of things we are considering – and that’s about it.  Oh yes, and we woke up to a rainbow….

Bye for now.


The beauty of Dominica

Sunday afternoon we headed over to the other side of the bay to spend the afternoon on the beach – but as we got closer to the dinghy dock it was clear that most of it was completely wrecked and that waves were breaking through high into the sky…. Hmmmm that’s not a place we could possibly land dink let alone leave him…so we turned around and went back to the other side of the bay and ended up spending a nice few hours in Big Papas catching up with the internet and having a light lunch.

Back on board, got cleaned up, and went ashore for the weekly beach BBQ hosted by the PAYS boat boys for all the cruisers in the bay. Great value – EC$50 each (£12.50) – for as much as you can eat and as much rum punch as you can drink…. Anyway we were enjoying catching up with other sailors and just generally swaying to the beats when all of a sudden all hell broke loose. All the dinghies were surfing huge waves and ending up on top of each other and one had actually sunk – so everyone rushed to take their dinghy off the dock and pull them up the beach. The beach boys were great and kept the local drunk nutters away who were trying to help but actually nearly sunk a dinghy in their inebriated state…. Richard used strong working class language to persuade the local drunk to leave dink alone. Phew – all safe – and relax….and get on with the serious business of partying! Great time had by all……

On Monday morning – sore heads and all – we met up with the others as we planned to visit a waterfall and the rum distillery. Well we found out that the cost of hiring a van for the six of us was cheaper than hiring a cab so we got one and off we went. Arriving at the Macosine distillery we asked for the tour and were told it was not possible today…. Oh well…. Disappointed but we moved on towards Syndicate Milton Falls – and ended up in the Morne Diablotins National Park first – which is where the rare parrot that Dominica have on their flag still lives. The place was deserted, even the office was closed that takes the money / checks the visitor permits. Have we stumbled on a Bank Holiday that we didn’t know about???? Oh well…not going to complain….and we took off for a little trek through a mysterious rainforest full of huge rooted trees and large plants that I recognise from home, except that we keep them warm indoors and in pots, and here they are bigger than us! But the place is utterly devoid of any noise – a bit spooky – expecting bird song and bugs at least – but nothing! Weird… In the car park we found some wild oranges but they were like lemons – eek! Really sour…. 

Moving on we went to the waterfall and clambered up and down paths, across rocks, crossed the flowing river twice, and eventually ended up at our destination……. Oh what a disappointment – this had previously been the water supply but had been found to have high iron content so was no longer in use for this purpose – but the waterfall pool had been fenced off and now opened up again. Pretty place especially without the barbed wire in the way! We snuck through the hole in the fence and enjoyed the moment and then back to the car….. We also enjoyed eating some sweet grapefruits that had fallen onto the path as we walked around. Yummmmm….. 

Driving around looking for somewhere to stop for food and we failed miserably – but with loads of luck we ended up at the Portsmouth Beach Hotel and had a really nice very late lunch watching, from the safety of the shore, the waves bashing up the dock and breaking up into the leaves of the palm trees. Really wild out there….and really enjoyed it as a backdrop to our last meal together. Back at the anchorage we got a water taxi back to Morpheus and bid our fond farewells. Hot Latte Tudes are heading direct to St Croix on Tuesday and Ron and Demi are jumping ship from Jolly Friends and joining them for this 200+ mile passage as they wanted to go to Puerto Rico anyway.


Early night followed and we were up early Tuesday as we are going diving again. Went to two amazing dive sites which are listed in the top 100 in the world – unfortunately the conditions weren’t great with currents and poor visibility due to north swells – but we still had a great time and enjoyed seeing two very different sites. The first one was caves and caverns and we meandered along, under and through different places and then really enjoyed watching the huge amounts of tropical fish playing in our bubbles that had seeped through the rocks and coral. Amazing! The second site was very different with a drop off down steep cliffs and huge tropical fish life….I think I would have called this one the aquarium if I was naming it. We are really enjoying our diving here – no-one else but us in the water and the dive time only restricted by our air consumption….

Tuesday afternoon on board we were lazing around having got Morphie covered in all our dive gear drying in the sun….and we bade final farewell to Hot Latte Tudes as they went past at 4pm to start their passage… And the girls were well behaved but the boys decided to moon at us on the way past and Richard responded in the same way. Men eh??? Still naughty boys at heart… Us girls were much more refined shouting out things like ‘be careful, we’ll miss you!!!’…… Early evening we went ashore for happy hour and to watch the sunset – and then went back on board for a quiet evening and a nice steak salad dinner….

This morning – Wednesday – we decided to explore the island more so have hired a little jeep for a couple of days to take us around. We travelled all the way to the bottom of the island to Roseau, the capital, and up into the mountains of the Morne Trois Pitons National Park (an UNESCO World Heritage Site). More waterfalls, sulphur hot springs, lush rainforests and scary roads which are virtually vertical and come up / down to hairpin bends that defy explanation! This place is so amazingly beautiful – and you really have to be adventurous to explore it fully – and is so wild that I feel like an extra in Jurassic Park and am expecting a dinosaur to pop his head round a tree at any minute! Walking up and down windy paths with mountain goat climbs over huge boulders to waterfalls have become the norm. Enough from me….hope you enjoy some of the photos of our trip today….


Bye for now


Enjoying Dominica

Up bright and early Wednesday morning and Alexis comes by to pick us up for our Indian River tour….along with Ron and Demi who are currently travelling on Jolly Friends….   As we entered the river the engine was shut off and Alexis proceeded to row us around. The river is narrow and winding under a canopy of plants with huge blood tree roots into the water – and the silence is only broken by the sound of the scuttling of land crabs as they move in and out of their holes and the noises of the birds. Boa constrictors live on this island but we didn’t see any… We did, however, see a few hummingbirds but, again, too fast to get a photo! The surface of the river is covered in leaves and flowers as they drift down from the canopy above – feels like being covered in a natural confetti…..

This river is where the Caribs lived and hunted – and local legend is they were cannibalistic too which is why they held off the settlers longer than on other islands. This is also a swamp area that used to breed the malarial mosquito and yellow fever that led to Plymouth being abandoned by the eventual settlers as the islands capital. Glad to note that this is no longer a problem! Along the way we saw the place where Pirates of the Caribbean built and filmed Calypso’s cabin…and at the end of the river we went ashore to go hiking through to a local plantation where we sampled and purchased some locally made very strong rum mixed drinks….as well as bananas and fresh cocoa seeds straight from the pod. On the way back to collect the boat we saw huge numbers of tourists coming up the river – crammed into the boats all wearing life jackets. They did not look happy! I think their experience was really different to ours….

Wednesday night we partied at Big Poppas on the beach who were having their BBQ and live reggae night… Great time had by all. Thursday we had a leisurely day and did boat jobs and went ashore to wander around Plymouth again. A really nice place this – very friendly with almost everyone saying hello. We purchased a few local fruits and vegetables from the ladies who ply their wares along the streets. We also managed to get our new shower bilge pump from the chandlery – hurrah… Quiet night on board.

Friday morning up bright and early and we are off out for an island tour this time. Again with Ron and Demi but also joined by Graeme and Pam who are cruising on their boat Hot Latte Tudes. Met Shadow our driver – who is a Carib – and we took off visiting both the Caribbean and the Atlantic coasts. The whole island is lush and green with amazing tree canopies, wild bamboo, wild coconut palms and the smells of different spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg growing. There are still sugar plantations here as well as a huge amount of bananas being grown – and they are shipped directly from here to the UK. Heard the story about the Pirates of the Caribbean filming inland here too – and they took over a coconut plantation. But to ensure the safety of the cast and crew they cut down all the coconuts – the owner allegedly got £1.2mn for the privilege. But the trees take some time to recover from losing all their fruit and the plantation has never opened again – so a load of locals lost their jobs as a result. Not sure how I feel about that…..

The funniest thing that happened today was that when we pulled up to take photos along came this little van – a baker’s van – who then sold us his freshly baked produce… Amazing in the middle of the rainforest we are scoffing this stuff – Richard said the bread pudding was pretty good! We also went into the Indian territory where Caribs still live to this day and made a few purchases including my stunning new hand-made sun hat! We then stopped for a local lunch of crayfish and moved onto a trek in the national park which ended up at a waterfall where we were able to take a dip in the freezing cold water. It is difficult to express how beautiful this place is – you’ll just have to take my word for it and let the pictures do the talking…..

Friday night sundowners at Blue Bay with the rest of the crowd – and we ended up back on Jolly Friends having sundowners and listening to Ron and Graeme jam on their guitars along with some singing…. We got out early as we are going diving in the morning and have to sort out our gear. Oh yes, did I mention the local beers? It comes in tiny bottles and we end up feeling like giants when we drink it!

Saturday morning we were up early again and waiting for the dive boat to come by to pick us up – oh dear, we’re on island time….and he was around 40 minutes late. But at least he came! We headed off round the corner and picked up a dive buoy and quickly got into the water. There was only Don (the divemaster) Ron and ourselves on this trip – great. All sank to the bottom and meandered down the ledge to about 75 feet / 25 metres – huge huge soft sponges with massive crabs inside; a 4ft barracuda came by; loads and loads of small reef fish with the occasional big shoal of fish visiting. Pristine coral site and finished up back on the ledge in relatively shallow water looking around while we did our safety stop. And under this coral outcrop was a giant spiny pufferfish with its huge black eyes set into white eyelids blinking away looking something like a jersey cow… Fantastic dive had by all…. Back on board, went to shore to pick up the next four tanks, and back out again. Back into the water this time to a wreck which had been towed out and sunk by Don’s father after it was wrecked in the mouth of the Indian River by a hurricane…. Some great coral growing on it and we saw crabs clinging to the structure and a lot of fish milling about… After some time on the wreck we then headed back up to the shallow reef ledge to look at the stuff around – again, pristine coral and fans, with large cactus looking structures coming out of the sand. Loads of fish – with a few of my personal favourites, particularly the lovely trigger fish who was hiding out under a rock, a couple of lobsters, a moray eel and a white spotty eel that looked more like a snake. Not come across anything like him before…. Again another great dive and definitely going to do some more!

Back to Morphie, went into town to get some more drinking vouchers out of the ATM and to collect some new pads made by the local tailor for dink, and back on board we crashed pretty tired out! Went ashore for sundowners with the crowd and then back on board early for a quiet dinner and to bed. Now it’s Sunday so we have rung Mum to wish her Happy Mother’s Day and we’re doing a few boat jobs and then going to head to the beach for the afternoon. Tonight we have a BBQ organised by the PAYS guys on the beach…..

Bye for now


Dominica beckons….

Well we didn’t go where we had planned – being my usual clumsy self I managed to open a locker, leave the cover on the floor and then promptly walk into it, damaging my little toe!!! Ouch… Not the first time I’ve done this….but the hike over the hill to the beach is starting to look a bit dodgy. So we went exploring by dink again… And this time we ended up in Baie de Marigot having a look around. This bay is very shallow and we had to run the gauntlet of reefs and weed to get ashore. And then we had to wade the last few feet through sea grass, squidgy mud and crabs to pull dink up out of the water.

We did wonder whether it was all worth it – but boy, it was. We came across La Paillote restaurant which was full of locals having lunch with some sounds playing and even a bit of dancing going on…. So we were drawn like moths to a light bulb and ended up having a great time there – and, thankfully, the owner came out and explained the menu as it was quite complicated! Well – the food was fantastic. Chicken curry with lentils for me and a plate of raw smoked fish for Richard…. Yummmm…. All washed down with a nice Sauvignon Blanc.

Not what we were expecting to do that afternoon but we had an amazing time….. We complimented the owner on her restaurant and she explained to us that they have been mentioned in Conde Nast before – what a find tucked away in a little bay in the middle of nowhere! 

Back on board for an early night while we debate what to do next. We had planned to go back to visit Point a Pitre in mainland Guadeloupe so that we could explore – but the weather is against us again….. Wind and tide both in the wrong direction. So we talked it through and decided, actually, what we were going there for was to visit the natural beauty of the island – and Dominica our next stop is famous for this too… So we’ll move on down there instead…… after our final day here on Sunday with a morning of boat jobs and an afternoon with a picnic on the beach combined with some bobbing.

Monday morning up early and went into town to check out of customs and to have our last French breakfast at the patisserie…. This was another day when I managed to get through the whole ordering and purchasing process without a word of English – hurrah! Even Richard is managing to utter the odd word too…. So some progress on the linguistic front but we know that we both have to learn Spanish before we leave the Caribbean whenever that may be. Oh well, that’s another challenge for another day!

We finally slipped from the Iles des Saintes at around 10.30 and started to motor out through the shallow cut between two islands, which would cut off a bit of the journey. Got through there OK and then got out the sails. Oh yes, this was forecast for a low wind day, and guess what? 23 knots was the highest recorded. But who cares???!!!??? We had a great close hauled sail and made the 20+ miles without having to put a single tack in. The water was deep blue – reflecting its depth of almost two miles – and we saw numerous flying fish and at one point a large fish, we think it was a marlin, jump out of the water. But sadly still no signs of any whales even though we have been honing our whale talking skills….. Oh yes, half way across the channel to Dominica, we were hailed on the VHF by a boat we could see coming the other way on the AIS. Another British boat which was passing on ‘hellos’ from Ruth and Dan on Evensong… This couple had been hoping to catch up with us as they headed north but unfortunately our timing was out! What a shame…

Arrived into Portsmouth, Dominica, Monday afternoon and were met by Alexis one of the PAYS boat boys. These guys have created a yacht services organisation which offers mooring assistance; guided tours by boat, taxi and on foot; water taxi to and from shore; as well as offering 24 hour security for the yachts in the area that they patrol. A bargain – and for only £5 a night for the ball! Result….so we took him up on his offer and he helped us pick up a mooring ball. Actually he was a hindrance… we are much better on our own… but at least I didn’t kill him in the process as I was on the helm at the time!!!

We then went ashore to do the customs bit – almost half a mile past the town – and we get to the port dock and it is really high and inhospitable… But we have no choice so we tie dink up, climb up onto the dock, and with fingers crossed we go to the customs shed. We fill in forms with carbon paper inserted – can’t remember the last time I actually saw carbon paper – and eventually got approval from customs. But because we may want to stay longer than two weeks we have to go to immigration too, which is in the police station in town. So back in the dinghy and go to another dock – this time being met by a really nice security guy who helped us fuel up first – and then wandered down to the police station. Immigration weren’t there but they were summoned – we passed over our bit of paper from customs and we are good to go. Although a bit concerned by the couple of guys who came to sign in – the Dominican equivalent of having a tag!

Dominica is a really friendly place and is largely unspoilt with lush green scenery and is actually the only place where you can still come across descendents of the original Carib Indians, the indigenous people of the Caribbean. But it is also very poor and even in the town we saw evidence of people living in corrugated metal shacks with no facilities…. Sometimes it is hard to believe that this is 2013. And this is the first time we have actually been pestered for spare change – nicely and in a non-threatening way – but we were surprised nevertheless. All formalities completed back on board for a quiet evening and even purchased a few bananas from one of the travelling salesmen who peddle their wares around the anchorage…. We put dink back up on his davits for the night – the saying here is lift it, lock it or lose it – and suddenly we heard this big bang. Neither of us knew what it was…. and eventually tracked it down to dink. The cable bridle had snapped. Luckily it held on one side and hadn’t happened when we were underway as this could have been really nasty – and potentially we could have lost our brand new outboard in the process. This is the third thing that has gone wrong recently so hopefully we’re done for a while!

This morning – Tuesday – we were up reasonably early and did a few boat jobs….then went into town to visit the chandlery trying to get another bilge shower pump. But they didn’t have it…. Oh well…. But we did manage to get some new chain to make a bridle with… Again we were hit on by a variety of locals looking for some spare change one of whom was a bit threatening – not to us, but pretending to shoot people with his fingers shaped like a gun was a bit offputting. But we didn’t give him anything and he went away eventually. Anyway…went shopping for a few bits of groceries and ended up in a place called Big Papas on the beach across from Morphie…. Really nice time and had a chat with a few locals, one of whom was a local policeman, and he explained that you always get the occasional nutter / crack-head but that, actually, this is a pretty safe place. Glad to hear it! Back on board now and Alexis has just come by so that we can sort out a few trips ashore….. Really looking forward to exploring this island and our first one tomorrow morning is a boat ride up the Indian River.

Quiet night planned now… Bye for now.


It’s not all sun and fun you know….

We arrived safely in the Iles des Saintes on Wednesday and picked up a mooring ball off the town of Bourg Des Saintes on Terre D’en Haut.    Looks really nice and we head off ashore quickly…. Great dinghy dock and no surging so I’m happy already! Had a quick wander around to get our bearings and we really like it here.  Laid back very French vibe. Interesting history too with Napoleonic links and no slaves were imported into these islands as there was no agriculture here.  I particularly liked the old church and the house built like a ship into the cliff….   Clearly these islands now live mainly on tourism – and most of the tourists appear to be French.   After a leisurely few hours back on board, we went ashore again to a water-side bistro for a basic but really enjoyable dinner….. Back on board and had a good night’s sleep – the first in a few days.

Thursday morning we woke up to find a huge cruise ship anchored behind us. We must have slept well not to have heard him come in! Morphie looks tiny…..!

We did a few boat jobs in the morning and then started to get ready to go ashore. But, oh no, the shower bilge pump just died…. We don’t have a spare on board either. Richard spent a few hours trying to isolate the problem to ensure it was a mechanical rather than electrical failure. So having worked it all out we showered off the transom and went ashore in search of parts. There is a small hardware / chandlery type place in town but the guy doesn’t speak English and my school girl French is definitely not up to this challenge. Richard had found the system online that we have and had taken a snapshot of it on the iPad to show the retailers. Good thinking! It worked, but he didn’t have one, although we did pick up some electrical connectors that we already knew we needed. The guy said there was another place we could try up the hill – but we had only 20 minutes to get there before they close for lunch. Oh yes, every shop here closes up for two hours (at least) at lunchtime….. So we leg it up there and with Richard’s pictures we hit silver. Gold would have been exact match part. Silver was the same part in a smaller size. So we are not going to be able to pump out as much water as we did before on a gallon per hour basis, but hey, it will get us out of trouble until we can get the right sized version. Hurrah – a get out of jail card!

While we were out we also walked to the Yacht Club where a guy called Jerome works and he speaks English – allegedly. Well we found Jerome (or so he said) but he didn’t speak English very well and I couldn’t understand his French either. But he was a nice guy I think!

Walking back to the boat and I started to feel quite lightheaded – oh dear, not enough water me thinks. Back on board I go for a lie down and Richard works down the hole and fixes the pump. Yay!!!   We decided to stay on board for the night and had a swim off the back and enjoyed a quiet night eating fresh baguettes, cheese and pate, watching the lovely colours of the sky change as the sun disappears behind the hills.

Friday morning we had a lazy morning on board then packed a freezer bag with fresh ham salad baguettes and a couple of cold beers and took off to explore a nearby beach by dinghy. Not many people around so we had a really nice afternoon bobbing and enjoying being in the water…. Great views too.

Back on board we had another swim off the back, got cleaned up, and headed to town for dinner. When we were out walking the other day we came across a restaurant that got a mention in the cruisers’ guide, the ti Kaz’ la – which is right on the edge of the water and open to the sea. The owner Philippe previously worked as a pastry chef in Grosvenor House and Harrods as well as cheffing at Park Lane’s Gavroche restaurant so gets a great writeup. The menu looked amazing – so we went in for dinner and we got the last table, it was packed out – and spent quite a bit of time working out what all the options were! Had an amazing goats’ cheese sauce with lardon salad for entrees, which we followed up with mahi mahi for Richard and lamb for me. All washed down with a very nice Chablis. Sorry to say my lamb was rough….think it might have died of old age…. Oh well the rest was lovely and we enjoyed both the service and the ambiance…

This morning we got up late and did some more jobs – and Richard fixed our other problem which was a reverse polarity light on the panel when the generator was plugged in and charging. He has taken a lot of advice from a variety of sources and hurrah it worked!   Special thanks to Glen on Blue Pearl for his assistance.    We have had three solar panels and a wind generator installed – which keep our five house batteries and one engine battery ticking over – but we have found that either when we have “no wind” days or “no sun” days our voltage gets a bit low with the fridge and freezer operational 24/7 and charging all our electronic bits and bobs.  Hence why we bought the generator. Our house batteries are gel and very expensive – so this is a way of keeping them going without having to run the engine on a daily basis or having to plug into shore power when we decide to stay in marinas.  Cute little thing and very powerful!

When we have finished charging we are going ashore to explore another beach – this one is a trek away on the other side of the island and bans motorised engines in the bay for environmental reasons – looking forward to it.

Bye for now