Thar she blows!

Thursday night we enjoyed our final Portsmouth sunset before retiring early.

Final sunset in Portsmouth

Friday morning we bid Portsmouth goodbye as we headed out into relatively calm seas. The winds running along the coastline of Dominica are pretty fluky as it comes over the mountains so we decided to make water and keep the engine ticking over throughout the 20 mile trip. But even though the engine was on, it was in neutral, as we were determined to sail as much as we could so hoisted reefed sails and enjoyed a brisk 20 knots for a while in almost perfect conditions. Then some squalls came through and we tried to avoid getting wet – although sailing pretty fast – then we got a wind shift, then no wind so sails came down, then another wind shift, more wind, sails up and that was how we spent an enjoyable four hours. Sadly no sightings of whales or dolphins.

Goodbye PortsmouthHeading south

As we arrived into Roseau we spotted two cruise ships – one was a large sailing-type vessel and the other the traditional huge beast. And it was raining… The shelf here in Roseau is very narrow from the water’s edge and then drops dramatically into hundreds of feet in depth. So the sensible thing is to pick up a mooring ball – we were assisted by Desmond again who was pretty pleased that we remembered him from last year!

Rain squall over RoseauRoseau waterfront

Cruiseship in townRoseau anchorage

While we were getting settled we were hailed on the VHF by Brian and Lorna on Peace and Plenty – and invited over for sundowners. Yes please…. that would be lovely! Had a really nice evening with them and enjoyed watching the sailing cruise ship depart into the sunset.

Lorna and BrianCruiseship leaving at sunset

Saturday morning and we were up early doing boat jobs…. And we decided to book onto a tourist trip to go whale watching from the Anchorage Hotel. The conditions were perfect – beautiful blue skies, the sun was out and the wind had moderated so the sea state was dead flat. Feeling optimistic that this might work out…. but I was also trying not to get too excited as I was soooo disappointed last year! Anyway kept busy doing laundry and whilst pegging it up on the rail we spotted that we had a small reef just below our keel – the water is so crystal clear here. So we went snorkelling and enjoyed having some fun in the water with the camera.

Snorkel 1Snorkel 2Snorkel 3Snorkel 4Snorkel 5Morphie from the water

Snorkel 6Snorkel 7Snorkel 8Snorkel 9

Back on board, got ourselves cleaned up, and headed off to the Anchorage Hotel. We listened to the skipper’s briefing, and admired the skeleton of the sperm whale that is displayed here. We managed to get squeezed onto the top deck of the boat on the front row – so had an amazing view. Please…. just one whale…. or even a dolphin will do. Really excited now…. so we took a selfie to celebrate!

View of Roseau anchorage from the Anchorage hotelWhale watching ticketsWhale watching boatBoat captainSperm whale skeletonWaiting to leave

Heading out into the flat sea and we travelled north about half way up the island…. Seemed a bit strange to be paying to be on a boat to do the trip we did ourselves yesterday. Oh well… fingers crossed. The captain turned off the engine and used his hydrophone to listen for clicks – the noise that sperm whales make. And there were some clicks due north….so engine on and we all start looking. Then we spotted the first blows ahead. OMG I am almost in tears realising that finally I’m going to see whales! And we watched this whale swim around until she dived. Then another one was spotted….and another….and a mother and her calf…..and a juvenile male who came right up to the boat being really inquisitive…. This was amazing. We continued to follow whales around all afternoon – taking time out to name some of them from the shape of their tail fins. We definitely identified Atwood, Tooth and Daisy…. and met about eight in total. Heading back – after a three hour excursion – and we were served rum punch to celebrate the day’s success. Wow!

Whale 1Whale 2Whale 3Whale 4Whale 5Whale 6Whale 7Whale 8Whale 9Whale 10Whale 11Whale 12Whale 13

Whale identification chart

Back to the dock and we decided to go visit the Drop Anchor for sundowners and Richard was going to treat me to dinner ashore. Unfortunately the bar was closed so we just ended up back on Morphie having a glass of wine and I cooked – so another early night – and another spectacular sunset.

Another Roseau sunset

Sunday was a lazy day on board doing a few jobs. Very very hot and still here… so ran the little Honda generator for a while to top up the batteries as the wind generator is doing nothing right now!  In the evening I cooked a meal for Lorna and Brian on board Morphie and we had a nice evening…. Enjoyed spending time with them and hope to catch up with them again along the way.

This morning, Monday, we were up early and headed into Roseau. There was a huge cruise ship in town so we took dink to the nearest dock we could get to and walked the rest of the way. We enjoyed wandering the streets and spotting differences from last year and enjoying the mountains that peek over the rooftops. The main thing we noticed was that the new Government building was finished and so was (we assume) the huge residence to go alongside it…. a horrendous amount of money that the very poor people of Dominica could have done without spending I would have thought!   We also noticed a spectacular new – or renovated, not sure – emancipation statue that stood proudly on one of the roundabouts.

New Government houseAssuming this is Government residenceEmancipation statue

Roseau 1Roseau 2Roseau 3Roseau 4

Today’s cruise ship towered over everything and we were pretty amused by the noddy train that takes the passengers out around the city.

Roseau 5Noddy train tour for cruise ship passengers

Having had lunch out at the Calabash and finished our provisioning, we came back on board via a slow dinghy ride along the foreshore looking at the variety of houses and shacks that line the shore. Everyone waves as you go by – this is definitely one of the friendliest islands.

Lunch at the Calabash

People live all along the shorelinePeople live all along the shoreline 2

Back on board and we are getting ourselves and Morphie ready to go to sea as we are heading off to Martinique in the morning, probably an eight hour sail…..  Will be sad to say goodbye to the Nature Isle, Dominica.  We have had a fantastic three week stay here….  Although we didn’t explore the interior this trip – having hired a car and did every trip last year we didn’t feel the need to revisit the waterfalls, the volcano, or the rainforest – we had a fantastic time and are happy to announce that this is one of our favourite islands.

Bye for now



Busy in Dominica

Friday morning we were up and about early to go diving.  Today we were diving with the crew of Hooligan. The first site is a favourite of ours so we were very happy to return to it. Weather conditions were pretty good with a flat sea and sunny skies – hurrah! Very relaxed and chilled dive – spotting the usual suspects as we meandered around through the gulleys, the caverns, the tunnels and up on top of the boulders watching our bubbles come through the porous rock. Love diving through the bubbles – and the noise as they pass by is quite tinkly and surreal….. Beautiful colours to the pristine coral here and, of course, all the usual suspects were around in large numbers. About six lionfish came to an early demise on this dive too. My favourite critter this dive was a lovely giant puffer fish with his big cow-like black eyes. We had almost an hour in the water and enjoyed every minute of it.

The second dive of the day was to a new site – the Rose Garden – which was an amazing coral garden with fantastic sponges, fans and soft corals swaying in the current. This site, however, was absolutely rammed with lionfish – and way bigger than we have seen anywhere else. Beautiful fish but a menace to the indigenous fish population so they have to go….. oh yes, did I tell you they are really stupid? There are six of them under a ledge and Fabian spears the first one and puts him in a bucket. The others don’t even look around to work out where “Dave” went…. they just stay there hanging out. So the next one gets it…. and they still sit there hanging out, not wondering where “Dick” went…. and so it goes on until they are all dead in the bucket together. Very strange behaviour!   Another relaxed dive – thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Sorry no photos again…. both sites too deep. Am starting to think we should invest in proper dive housing for the camera at some point!

Dive over – shame – and back on board to clean up. In the afternoon Martin, one of the boat boys, came over to pick us up. He had arranged for us to go to visit CALLS.


Basically this centre was set up by Roman Catholic nuns in 1995 to educate the youth of Dominica between the ages of 16 and 22 who, through no fault of their own, had not completed their education. It is open to students irrespective of religious background, although has a Catholic base. It is largely dependent upon volunteers and donations – as the Government funding is minimal. The two-year programme focuses on basic educational needs and life skills to enable them to enter employment and to learn to live responsibly, including work experience at the end.  Amazingly they have a 60% success rate in students being employed at the end of the two year period.  This is really the safety net for youths who are at risk of getting involved in the seedier side of life here in the Caribbean – eg drugs, prostitution, theft, gang-related violence – to name just a few. So we went to see the principal and had an interesting discussion.  We made a small donation but also decided to volunteer to help out.  Going back to the anchorage we enjoyed seeing Morphie looking good out there.   Once we were safely back on board we had a quiet night and enjoyed the moody sunset.

Morphie in the anchorage


Saturday morning and we were up bright and early as it was market day and I was after some fresh fruit and veg. Was quite an experience and I purchased a lot of stuff – but from as many vendors as I could to “spread the love”!   We also came across a street medical clinic where doctors were giving jabs etc – we did wonder whether this was an initiative by the Ross medical school.  Richard had, of course, to visit his favourite eatery again while we were out in town….

Market day 1Market day 2Richard's favourite eateryMarket dayMarket day 4Street clinicMarket day 5

Market day 3

Back on board and we did a few boat jobs.   The rain had stopped and we had a beautiful rainbow….


Later on we headed out for the evening BBQ. Oh yes, and it’s raining again – hard!!!!!  We had a really nice evening and caught up again with Eric and Pat on Cutter Loose as they continue to head north along with quite a few other cruisers, some we had met before and others we hadn’t. As usual the food, the rum punch and the company was great. Even did some dancing myself this week. Back to dink – who was sloshing around in rainwater he had collected while we had been out – and so to bed.

PAYS BBQ 1PAYS BBQ 2Eric and Pat, Cutter LoosePAYS BBQ 3

Sunday morning and we were up pretty early and did a number of boat jobs. Then we chilled and got ready to go ashore – today is the start of Carnival here in Dominica. Oh yes, and the clouds are rolling in across the mountains again….. looks ominous. We left dink on the beach jetty rather than taking him into town and started to walk admiring the flowers that grow everywhere wild. And of course, the heavens opened….. So we ducked into the Bamboo Bar and tried to get a beer – oh no, sold out, rum punch it is then! I’m not really a rum drinker – honest – and this was so strong it wasn’t funny…. I had to ask him to water it down for me. Needless to say Richard managed to finish his without the need for any additional passion fruit juice. There was a guy on a guitar doing a live set – and we recognised him from last year. So that was a nice interlude while waiting for the rain to go away.

Stormy dayFlowers grow everywhereRain interlude

Eventually after about 45 minutes it looked safe to continue the walk. Arrived at the market area and bumped into Hooligan and Inspiration crews who had clearly been there for a while! So we enjoyed a few beers with them and then headed off to the other end of town to await the parade.

Hooligan crew

And it rained again. Oh well, never mind… just have to get wet. Of course, we don’t own an umbrella on the boat – although many cruisers do. Just never really felt the need – the rain here is WARM!  Eventually the parade started with the large music lorry which actually had a live band playing… and then the dancing started…. and the motorcycle club came roaring in…. and then the rain came….and more dancing…. and more drinking….. and more dancing…. and more rain…. Eventually – somehow?!? – we ended up in the parade ourselves dancing along with everyone else and then I got grabbed by a guy in a Morphsuit. Gave me a fright until I realised that it was Fabian, our dive leader! Too funny and he now answers to the nickname Mr Sperm!  The children were dressed up; the costumers were traditional; the stilt walkers were great and the music was LOUD. The whole place was rocking. We grabbed some BBQ chicken from the street vendors along our way and the heavens then absolutely opened and the torrential rain just kept on coming. We are all soaked through to the skin – literally – but hey, it’s Carnival, so we just carried on. Eventually the crowds started to get larger and rowdier – time to leave. And, oh yes, it’s only 7pm…. Back to dink exhausted and soaked – but had a great time and really enjoyed ourselves. Once back safely on board Morphie we had lovely hot showers and so to bed.

Carnival 1Carnival 2

Carnival 3Carnival 4Carnival 5Carnival 6Carnival 7Carnival 8Carnival 9Carnival 10Carnival 11Carnival 12Carnival 13Carnival 15

Carnival 16

Monday morning and we went into CALLS for our first volunteering session. We had a good look around – they have an impressive nursery for the babies of some of the students – a wood machine shop, a couple of classrooms and a computer room. Richard and I were allocated students and we took them off to work with them 1:1. Richard’s lad was pretty clued up and smart – and I caught them doing some pretty advanced stuff by lunchtime. My lad was struggling and couldn’t really get his head around addition and subtraction – let alone multiplication and long division. Anyway – clearly we were both a hit – as the students asked if we could stay and do the post-lunch session with them too. Sure – why not? We both were humbled by some of the stories – abuse, violence, abject poverty, and illiteracy to name just a few. Felt really good to give something back to this beautiful island and its people. After lunch we did another hour lesson and then called it a day. It had been a very rewarding day which we celebrated by having a few sundowners at the Blue Bay before having an early night. The sunset was pretty moody again tonight…. and Alexis carried on working in the anchorage as the sun disappeared.

Alexis still working as the sun fadesStormy sunset

Tuesday and more rain. Torrential most of the day so we stayed put and did a few boat jobs and then got ready to go diving.

Raining again

We had planned a sunset dive and a night dive – with the latter being at the cruise ship dock, and a promise of seahorses!  Well Fabian and Don were late – and the cruise ship hadn’t left yet. So we went off to a new site – and dropped down into the gloom to explore sand which is thermally warmed. Very strange to put your hands into hot sand down at 75 feet! Anyway…. we were diving around and the light was fading…. and the currents were pretty strong. We realised that Fabian looked a bit uncertain about the direction he was going to take – and seemed to be swimming above the reef which is unlike him. Anyway, we followed him….. and then we realised that not only were we being pushed out to sea by the current but also that we were being dragged down too…. At 120 feet (36 metres) we alerted Fabian and told him we wanted to start our ascent. We slowly ascended and took our time as our dive alarms started to go off…. and then the current released us and we started to bob up too quickly…. Oh no… dive down…. We eventually ended up with an eight minute safety stop in the blue before we surfaced – a long way from where we should have been. Luckily Don had been watching our bubbles on the surface and realised that we had ‘missed’ our turn and so had been keeping an eye out for us and then drove the boat to pick us up. Not a great experience – but just one of those things. It reinforced our buddy skills, looking after each other, and makes you less complacent of the dangers of the sport next time you go in the water. Obviously we did not go ahead with the second dive as we would have needed too long a surface interval to get us back into the safe zone.  Back on board quickly – cleaned up – and so to the bar where we had a good chat about what happened. Turned into a bit of a session along with the PAYS guys and we had a good time.

Wednesday morning back to CALLS and we were allocated the same students again as they had asked for us! How great was that? Made us feel really good. So did the first session with them and then got new students for the second session. Richard’s was, again, pretty clued up. Mine, on the other hand, didn’t know colours, shapes and could almost count up to 20 but really struggled to write them down. A real eye opener to me as he was 17. He was keen to learn and we worked really hard. What impressed me was that he could do basic maths in his head even though he struggled to write the numbers down.  So a very long road for him ahead but I’m really hoping that he stays with the programme. Hopefully my little bit helped in building his confidence if nothing else and I would have loved to spend more time doing this – such a shame that we didn’t find out about it until relatively late in our visit here. But I’m determined to spread the word with cruisers that are heading north – so hopefully they will get more volunteers as a result. Fingers crossed.

Calls 1Calls 3Calls 2

Wednesday afternoon we rushed to the PAYS hut on the beach – the Minister of Tourism and his staff had asked to meet the cruisers and the PAYS guys to see how he can help them with additional initiatives to encourage more cruisers to come and to stay longer. This all came about, partly, due to Richard’s impromptu chat with him last week. It was a pretty impressive meeting and we all felt that we had contributed and been listened to. Whether that makes any difference in terms of getting the funding that the guys need is another thing – but he seemed to get it! Only time will tell….

Meeting the Minister

Wednesday night – phew this is a busy day! – and we are back on the beach to the PAYS BBQ. We weren’t going to go – but we need to support this organisation, so we decided that one more rum punch wouldn’t hurt us. Well – it was a fantastic evening – and one of the ex-CALLS students 23rd birthday, so after the BBQ we decamped to the very loud local bar next door and danced the night away. Back on board around 1.45 am – oops.


This morning, Thursday morning and we got up late…. no surprise there then!   We are staying on board today getting ourselves, and Morphie, ready to go back to sea. So a very quiet day planned and certainly not going ashore tonight!  We said all our sad farewells last night. Tomorrow – Friday – we are running down the coast to visit Roseau, capital of Dominica. Hoping for whales and dolphins on the way…. It is the time of year for them… all things flexible crossed!

Bye for now



Enjoying life on the hook in Dominica

We went ashore about six on Sunday evening as we thought we’d go into the local beach bar prior to going to the PAYS BBQ. We purchased a beer and were quickly driven out by the painfully loud Soca music … we are pretty used to it, especially having been to carnival, but this was mad. If you looked hard enough you could see the individual grains of sand on the beach jumping to the beat!!  Exiting left – fast – we wandered the beach to the Purple Turtle which is next to the PAYS structure. Purchased another beer here and then moved onto the BBQ itself. We started on beer deliberately as the BBQ tickets include all you can eat food and drink, but that consists of a lethal rum punch only!   So we were pacing ourselves….

Alexis – our boat boy – was helping with the cooking tonight but he came over for a little while to chat. We were surprised by how many cruisers were in attendance as there didn’t seem to be that many boats in the anchorage ….. so I reckon Eddison and his lads had done a really good selling job. Well – at EC $50 a head (£12.50) – it is pretty reasonable. Tonight Don (the diver) is the dedicated security guy in the anchorage so he has promised – in return for a rum punch – to circle Morphie at least once every ten minutes! It was really nice to hang out with the local boat boys and catch up with them. Amazing that they really do seem to remember us even though they must have thousands of boats go through here in a season….. Anyway dinner of rice / salad / chicken / fish served – and most of us went back for seconds. As much as you could eat was right….. And I had a dog friend who followed me around – who quickly realised that I would be a soft touch for leftovers. He was right of course!

Alexis and Eddison


Richard enjoying the rum



I like chicken too!!!

After we had all eaten the tables were moved out and people either moved onto the black sand beach to chat (which was us) or they went inside to dance. This was more ‘Dad’ dancing than anything else, particularly bearing in mind the average age of the people in attendance. By now the rum had started to take its toll. One woman, in particular, was so out of it her husband tried to manhandle her into their dinghy and ended up in the drink himself…. Oh dear – in the end one of the boat boys took pity on them and helped them into his boat and gave them a ride home. Good night had by all and we got back to Morphie safe and sound…


Richard and Don

Monday morning and we have nothing planned…. and the heavens opened. It rained on and off all day so we actually did nothing – sleeping, eating, reading and chatting. Lovely!

Clouds rolling over the mountains again

Tuesday we were up early to get ready to go diving again. When Don came for us Marcus – the photographer – was already on the boat so there was a little inward groan from both of us. But Aon was also on board so he was diving with him and we were diving with Fabian. Result!!!!  The first dive was to a wreck of an old tug boat, lying in about 80-100 feet of water. Loads of little critters around and beautiful corals…. and then we worked our way back towards the reef. Fabian was killing lionfish and managed to catch about six in all…. and we got a moray eel to eat one, but didn’t become the focus of the dive, which was good. Saw quite a lot of the usual suspects but my favourite this time was a spotted eel which was so sleek it looked like a sea snake…. and he had beautiful markings and very kindly stayed put while I had a good look at him. No photos again I’m afraid – way too deep. Second dive of the day was very close to the shoreline…. so it was a shallow reef that dropped off into the depths. It was a pretty damp surface interval as the rain came down again…. Oh well, never mind, we were wet anyway!

Dive site really close to the shoreline

We swam out to the rocks and back and were constantly surrounded by these huge schools of fish. The corals were spectacular in colour with amazing large sponges. All very dramatic with cuts and curves, overhangs and gulleys all covered in soft and hard corals with an aquarium full of fish, some so small they were barely visible to the naked eye. It felt like we had stumbled into a fish nursery! During the dive, we came across Marcus – doing his usual photographic thing – who was getting Aon to pose for him. Aon was in the military for 14 years and did say before he went in the water that if anybody had managed to get his photo during that time he wasn’t doing his job properly – so was a pretty reluctant model! Seeing Aon being moved around for photos got Fabian, Richard and me giggling as we went by and I’m sure our dive was at least five minutes shorter as a result of the excess air used. When we surfaced we got our camera passed down to us and managed to get a few shots from just below the surface of our fishy friends.Dive 1

Dive 2

Dive 3

Back on board for a quiet afternoon after cleaning off all our gear and we went ashore for sundowners at the Blue Bay grill. Met up with Fabian and had a couple of beers while we enjoyed another lovely sunset over the anchorage.

Beautiful sunsets here

Wednesday morning we spoke to Rachel, Kiera and made noises at Finlay as he is not six months old yet.  Was lovely to do this using Facetime on the iPad – we don’t feel like we’re missing out on these special little ones growing up now.  Around lunchtime we went into Portsmouth and as Richard had “only” had bananas, papaya and mango for breakfast he persuaded me to go to Ray’s roti shack. He managed to eat his way through both a chicken and a vegetable one in very short order – I had an egg roll. After that we walked through the backstreets to find the bakery and came across loads of very very poor housing – basically traditional shacks which look like they could be blown over by the next puff of wind that comes through. And they are living alongside many large substantial concrete structures. I guess you build what you can afford?

Portsmouth 1

Portsmouth 2

Anyway, found the bakery and got some supplies, then off to the supermarket for a few bits – via the computer shop as I’d put together some basic income / expenditure / balance sheets for Fabian to use in his newly-registered diving business and needed to get them printed.

All jobs done and with full bellies we wandered back to the main fishing jetty. One of the boats had just come in and was unloading watched by an attentive audience. They were speaking Creole so couldn’t understand them but it sounded like they were enjoying some good banter. Well…. the fisherman had bags and bags of lobsters which he transferred into a large cage which he then dropped into the sea to keep them alive and fresh. I’m not sure when they actually sell them to the public – clearly not yesterday – but am hopeful to get some before we leave Portsmouth.

Waiting to see today's catch

That's a lot of lobster

Back on board, we did some laundry before having a lazy afternoon and into the Blue Bay for a light fish supper and a couple of beers. While I was explaining to Fabian how to use the book-keeping sheets, Richard was asked by Jeffrey (who heads up the PAYS organisation) to come over and talk to this guy. Turns out to be the Dominican Minister for Tourism – who wanted to hear how they could improve things for cruisers in Portsmouth and Dominica more generally. That was a turn up for the books!  Nice to get a voice for sure.  Eventually back to Morphie for an early night although it was really really rolly again…..but we were so tired doing not much that all it did was rock us off to sleep!

Thursday and we had a late start. We ran the generator to make some water and charged everything up at the same time. After brunch we went snorkelling under the cruise ship dock – this is only for small Windjammer types, not huge ones. This is a great site with loads of brilliant-coloured corals on the poles…. Really enjoyed ourselves and, of course, we managed to get photos this time!

Snorkelling 1Snorkelling 2Snorkelling 3

Snorkelling 4

Snorkelling 5

Snorkelling 6

Snorkelling 7

Back on board, cleaned up and we are staying put. Dink is up on his davits and we have just watched the sun go down…. and the moon come up. Lovely…. and planning a quiet night onboard with dinner followed by an early night.

Sun going downMoon coming up

Bye for now



Dominica bound

After our time ashore Monday enjoying our last views of Admiralty Bay….

View of Admiralty Bay, Bequia

we went back onboard for the afternoon to get Morphie ready to go to sea…. including getting the outboard off of dink and securely fastened to the rail.  Liferaft; grab bag; food preparation; equipment checks; passage planning all done; and the last thing we did was check our lights as darkness fell – with the help of Dan and Ruth on Evensong who were anchored nearby. All working and we said sad goodbyes on the radio to all of the people we had spent time with in Bequia. We shall miss you all and hope to see you again soon!   Completely ready we went to bed.

Tuesday morning we were up early…. donned lifejackets and picked up our anchor by 5.45 am. We turned into the wind and put up our mainsail – double reefed until we tested what the conditions were like out there – and turned towards Dominica, which lies 150 miles north as the crow flies. The wind wasn’t too bad so we put out most of the genoa although the waves were bigger than forecast at about 9 feet. We were thinking about shaking out the reefs in the main – anticipating a reach all the way – and then we had a significant wind shift and, of course, not in our favour as it had a north element… So now we are in 26 knots and close hauled so put the reefs back in and pulled out the staysail too… In the middle of all this activity we were visited by a large group of dolphins who swam alongside momentarily. Unfortunately we were pretty busy and by the time we had grabbed the camera they had gone. Oh well – it was lovely to see them anyway. We said a sad farewell to Bequia as the sun came up….and we ducked our first cruise ship of the passage!

Goodbye to Bequia as the sun comes up

Goodbye to Bequia as the sun comes up 2

The wind and waves remained higher than forecast for most of the day and we were screaming along averaging about 7-8 knots – quickly passing St Vincent and then into the passage towards St Lucia….

Passing St Vincent

But the currents were running strongly too at about 2-3 knots and we were getting pushed constantly out to sea to the west. So we tacked towards St Lucia and made a tedious 2 knots against the current to get more east….. But the boat was much flatter so took the opportunity to eat and make tea!   Having crossed our original rhumb line we then tacked back and we took off like a bat out of hell…. And then the wind died down to less than 10 knots. We carried on sailing but had to put the metal sail on in the end as we were making no headway at all in 5 knots of breeze. Then an hour or so later the wind kicked back in and we were off again…. Wow loving this, although it was pretty bouncy! We were taking it in turns to be in charge – on an hourly basis – doing the log and keeping watch etc with both of us in the cockpit.

The sun started setting so we reefed in ready for the night and donned more clothes. And now we moved into three hour shifts with the other one down below asleep in the saloon…. Richard was just about to leave me alone when I spotted another cruise ship – lit up like a Christmas tree and no navigation lights showing. And, of course, they were not broadcasting their AIS signal either…. Grrr…. We couldn’t work out what the hell he was up to so we attempted radio contact – and they didn’t answer that either. So we had to change course – to our detriment – to stay safe. As we finally passed them we realised that they were just drifting around in the current as they had time to spare before docking in the morning. Oh well…..

Sunsetting at sea

Sunsetting at sea 2

And the pattern was set for the night – huge winds, large rain squalls (on my watch of course!), no wind, light airs and more cruise ships and freighters to avoid…. I think Richard was a bit worried about me when he felt the boat accelerate sharply in the gusty conditions – but my whooping in the cockpit with excitement must have set his mind at rest because it wasn’t long before I heard him snoring down below again!  This was the most fantastic star studded night you can imagine with the milky way easily visible. Martinique was the busiest in terms of commercial traffic at night as well as the French coastguard cruising along the coast. Watching the sun come up while at sea is one of the must-have experiences to witness in your life!

Wednesday morning came and we are nearing Dominica … and the wind remained fickle and we had to do another tack into the current to get closer…. Then the wind died and the engine came on – then it picked up and we turned it off…. Then we had company with a huge racing yacht coming by…. and finally into Portsmouth to be met by Alexis our boat boy (man really) from last year, who remembered us and welcomed us back to Dominica. We did 172 miles in total over a period of 31 hours – and enjoyed the experience. Felt really pleased with ourselves…..

Coming towards our destination - DominicaHuge yacht underway

Coming into Portsmouth

Dominica is beautiful and the anchorage at Portsmouth is notoriously tricky with loads of grass and last year there were numerous boats dragging…. so we picked up a mooring ball to give us peace of mind when we go exploring. The mooring balls here are provided and maintained by PAYS the local boat boy association who also patrol the anchorage at night for security. Great initiative and really works well.

Alexis took us into customs and we cleared in and out (covering three weeks) for the princely sum of EC $10 – about £2.50. There were a lot of French sailors in the office – usual here as Martinique is to the south and Guadelope to the north – and they were struggling with both the forms and making themselves understood.  We were trying to fill our forms in standing up as all available table space was taken and the customs girl came out from behind the counter and moved some of them on…. Didn’t go down too well – and we were given the evil eye!  Ooops….. that’ll teach ‘em for beating us at rugby. Sorry Florence Hubert, had to be said LOL!!!!

The view from Morphie

Then onto the Blue Bay grill and bar for a couple of well-deserved cold ones and to let people know we had arrived safely….and then we had an early night and slept through.

Portsmouth anchorage, Dominica

Dominica sunset 1

Thursday was spent cleaning and tidying the boat and ourselves up followed by happy hour ashore….. and treated to another spectacular sunset.

Dominica sunset 2

Friday and we are off diving with Island Dive Operation – which last year had just set up and now have a little dive shack shop on the beach.   Everyone remembered us and we had a good time catching up.  We dived Toucari and Split Rock with Fabian leading us – both dives were too deep (100ft / 80 ft) to take photos without a camera casing, which we haven’t purchased (yet)!!!!  And no buddy Dan with his either – so no photos sorry!


These sights are spectacular with huge sponges, gorgeous swim throughs threading through the sites – and watching bubbles come up like champagne through the coral we had just passed below was pretty special. Very pretty with lots of the usual suspects in attendance with my favourite being a huge crab sitting inside a sponge waiting for a critter to come swimming by!

On the dive we were joined by Marcus from Halifax, Nova Scotia, who was a photographer…. actually he referred to himself as an artist. Well he was a right royal pain in the proverbial!!! Kicking everything in his way as his sole focus was on his subject and not his buoyancy… As a vet he should know better than to damage the marine environment although, having said that, the guy who stole Nemo was a dentist! Marcus also got lost on numerous occasions where we had to stay put while Fabian went looking for him. He also never checked his air gauge the whole time we were down – and came back with less than recommended…. During the dive I had made a less than complimentary internationally-recognised hand signal to Richard about this guy not realising that Fabian had seen me do it – and struggled to keep himself composed! Off diving 1

Everyone was laughing about it later…. when we had a few beers together after Marcus had gone back to his holiday eco-lodge.

Saturday and we finally got dink down and the outboard installed – although it wouldn’t rev higher than idling. We looked at the troubleshooting guide and Richard did the obvious stuff to no avail. So we took a very loooooonnnnnnnggggg slooooooowwww dinghy ride into the nearest dock and went to see Fabian who organised Don to come and have a look at it for us while we were in town.

We wandered into town – it was fresh fruit and veg market day today – and enjoyed the walk…. The people of Dominica are the poorest we have come across, with many of them living in shacks and the houses largely hand-built – and one in particular was very stylised!!! The shops are not exactly stocked full and they sell an amazing variety of stuff… much of it home produced. One particular business sign for a consultancy didn’t really inspire us – with a name like NITS Richard didn’t think they would get any work in the UK!

PortsmouthPortsmouth 2Portsmouth 3Stylish local house!Not sure about the name!

Despite having very little the people of Dominica are by far the friendliest and, unlike last year, we didn’t encounter any beggars here in Portsmouth. Fresh bread and produce purchased we headed back to the dock and Don had fixed our outboard – salt had seized the throttle – for a very reasonable EC $50, £12.50. Later on we cleaned the rust from Morphie’s foredeck, caused by our anchor chain, and did a bit of polishing. Had a quiet evening on board and early to bed having enjoyed another beautiful Dominican sunset.

Dominca sunset 3

Sunday is a day of rest.  I’m sitting out of the rain down below blogging and Richard is reading in the cockpit – having installed our new canvas on the foredeck. We are heading out tonight to the bi-weekly beach BBQ organised by PAYS to support their organisation….. Really looking forward to it.

Bye for now



Our last days in Bequia

Thursday afternoon we headed into the beach as the weather had improved and met up with the others. Us girls bobbed while the boys camped out on the dinghies….

Girls just want to have fun!

Boys having fun too

While we were there we spoke with Faye and Paul about the beach party arranged for Friday afternoon – and all systems go, except they are sweating on a beer delivery. Oh well…. fingers crossed. Had a really great afternoon – enjoyed the rainbow that came out, the panoramic views of the bay and finally the moody sunset before returning to Morphie for a quiet night on board.

Beautiful rainbow

Panorama of Admiralty Bay anchorage

Stormy sunset over the anchorage

Friday morning and up really early – Richard is picking up Alick (from the sail / canvas loft) off the dock at 9 am to come on board to make the pattern for our new cover – so I get a lift into town in dink to buy the fresh bread for tonight’s party and ingredients for my side dish. Decided on a chunky red onion and tomato salad with feta cheese, olives and pimentos – but without cucumbers because Dan has a serious issue with them!     Richard got his jobs done and came back to collect me….  Rest of the day we were pretty lazy and headed into the beach around 3.30 ish to set up the party. When we got there – with the rest due to arrive around 4 – we are told there is no beer, the delivery didn’t come!   Soooooo frustrating, as Richard had checked this morning with them and they said all was OK.  So Dan and Richard ended up shifting four crates of empties, dinked over to the brewery – on the opposite side of the bay – and back with the replacements.

In the meantime people were arriving – luckily there were some supplies in the coolers already so they weren’t really aware of the potential beer disaster – and I’m collecting money (to recover the costs we had already paid up front) and organising the table for the buffet of all the side dishes that people have brought with them. Oh yes…. and then a woman (who I have never met before as she was invited by another boat) asks me if there is any plain chicken as she has dietary issues. Said no – sorry – no one told me, all chicken has been marinated overnight in Faye’s homemade BBQ sauce. But there are hot dogs. Oh no, that won’t do either as she is gluten free. And, excuse me, but what is the vegetarian option for my husband?    OMG!!!!    We could have catered for this if anybody had actually thought to tell us – but they didn’t – so I gave her half her money back as a goodwill gesture which unfortunately reduced the tip that I had allocated for Faye and Paul – and hoped that she could find something to eat in the buffet. It was pretty tedious to listen to her questioning everybody about their dishes as she needed to know every single ingredient…. I was pretty fed up at this point – so went bobbing in the sea for a little while!   Finally – about an hour late – the BBQ pit was built and the food was underway.

Beach party 1

Beach party 2

Beach party 3

Everyone was having a good time – and some cruisers brought along their instruments so we had live music. Then Faye is asking me for a dish for the hotdogs… Excuse me? Are you telling me that you haven’t got anything to put the damn stuff on when it’s cooked?????   Luckily I had bought a large foil baking tray for the bread so redistributed that onto paper plates and gave her that….. and Dan kindly went back and collected a large metal bowl for the chicken from Evensong.  Having a good time…. and we started eating…. and then Faye asked for a light as she couldn’t see what she was doing!!! This is starting to feel like some sort of comic sketch – I’m wondering if it could be a “candid camera” set-up or a test for the apprentice to see how I cope with stupid curve balls!?!?! Well… of course, being the girl guide that I once was, I did actually have a very large torch which I supplied to her and then, when she was finished cooking, I hung over the buffet table for the others. Phew…… finally time to relax….. As everyone started to drift away – all laden down with left-over goodies – they all said that they had a great time. Glad about that but I’m not getting roped into organising another one of these – ever…..!!!!   Went onboard Evensong for the final drink of the day and then back to Morphie for the night.

Beach party 4

Beach party 5

Beach party 6

Beach party 7

Saturday morning up early – got the stuff ready in the cockpit for Winfield as he should finish Morphie today – and then headed in to go diving.  Finally the sea has flattened and the wind has reduced – so we have different dive site options today. We head out to Moonhole point – where the eco stone lodges nestle into the cliff top – and do a 60 foot dive and into a cavern.

Going diving!Moonhole properties

Jesse doing the dive briefing

Had a great time but, again, we ended up on a lion fish hunt as they continue to try to eradicate these pests from the Caribbean.   OK – I understand – but it really detracts from the dive for me. Richard even got roped into holding the spear gun with a dead one attached while Jesse dealt with another one… It was nice to do a drift dive though – so no fighting the current to get back to the boat…. Yeah!

Dan the diverDive 1

Dive 2

Dive 3

Dive 4

We had our surface interval back on land as we had to pick up more divers for the afternoon shallower dive – and Ruth turned up to supply us with pasta salad – tasty…. thanks, much appreciated.  Back on the boat for the afternoon and it was great, because the rest were all doing courses of some description, so it just left Richard, Dan, me and Putan (the dive leader) diving on our own again – and this time to the Moonhole reef. Great colours, diversity of fish, and some amazing families of lobsters lying around under the overhangs. It was really relaxed and we spent another hour in the water exploring. Doesn’t get much better than this!

Dive 6Dive 7

Dive 8

Dive 9

Dive 10

Dive 5

Back to the dive shop and while we are washing our kit down with fresh water Ruth gets in the beers. What a star!   Had a quick one – and then rushed back to Morphie to see Winfield. When we got there he was very very quiet which is pretty unusual for him – and appeared in a bad mood. After about an hour he just put his hands up and said that he was absolutely shattered and couldn’t physically do any more work today. Damn!   He doesn’t work Sundays and we wanted to leave in the early hours of Monday so looks like that has changed…. Oh well….what can you do????  Another beautiful sunset in the anchorage as we were getting ourselves cleaned up.

Another beautiful sunset

Saturday night we met up with Chris and Linda from Troubadour and went out for a pizza – they are heading south shortly so it is very possible that our paths may not cross again. Had a nice evening, said sad farewells, and headed back out to the anchorage – to find we are surrounded by boats again. There is definitely something magnetic about us, I mean, why anchor in a large area when you can squeeze in near Morphie???? Grrrrrr…..

Chris and Linda

Sunday morning and into the Gingerbread for breakfast with Dan and Ruth – this was planned as it was supposed to be our last day and we would have a lot to do to get ready to go to sea. But, of course, we are not going on Monday now…..   Luckily the weather window is good right through to Thursday so we are planning a very early Tuesday morning departure.  As we are not leaving now – and the morning’s torrential rain had finally cleared – we ended up having another bobbing session on the beach, back on board for a quick clean up, and then into town for SuperBowl and another sunset.Sunset from the town

I know….. Superbowl???? Don’t say a word! We are not American football fans – we don’t even understand it – but we were persuaded to go along as apparently the adverts in between quarters are worth watching. Well the food was good, the company was great and the adverts were very entertaining. The gang were amazed that we knew all the words to the songs that accompanied some of the adverts and so were we – we certainly did not expect to hear Slade (from the 70s) and singing along to “happy as you know it, clap your hands”!!!   How bizarre is that????   I’m afraid the football left me a little cold, although Richard enjoyed it more than he thought he would.  Ended up quite a late night….   Back on board and the wind picked up and the rain hammered down – but we slept better, thankfully.  Probably helped that a lot of the boats had moved out during the day…..

This morning and Winfield arrived.   While he was finishing off our woodwork we made some water and did some passage planning….   He finished and we headed into town for our final provisioning run ashore and a visit to customs and immigration to check out for tomorrow…..    Well the customs were at lunch so we did the shopping and ended up having lunch out ourselves.

When we get back to Morphie we need to get ready to go to sea for the 150 mile passage north to Dominica.  We are going straight past St Vincent, St Lucia and Martinique on the way – but will be dropping back south to these islands later on. Sad to leave such fun company but most people are heading north so I’m sure our paths will cross again!    One of the things we want to do this season is to push the boundaries in terms of longer periods at sea. Although we have done loads of sea miles and offshore passages / races we have always been part of a crew… So it is about time we got used to single-handed sailing when the other one is sleeping – if we are serious about going through the Panama Canal into the Pacific in the future then we need to hone these skills. We are both really excited about the prospect and are looking forward to the challenge.

Bye for now