Sunday, February 7, 2016

Dominica Days

Yesterday was incredibly windy - 20 to 25 knots with gusts to 35.  So for most of the day we just hunkered down on the boat.  During a lull Azaya came over for a visit in their kayak so we spent the afternoon yakking.

Anyway, we started to think about all the stuff we've been doing so... better write it down!

The day after we got here one of the PAYS guys, Alexis, had arranged to take a couple on a tour to show them some of the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Erica this summer.  The couple, Clair and Mago from Macario, is hoping to do some humanitarian work here on the island and Alexis thought they might have some ideas on how to help the local farmers.  So 10 of us crowded into Alexis' van and we took off for the day.

Washed out by the torrents of rain

Mixed farming - this is callilou/dasheen


Farmer's workshed

Waiting for the meeting of the farmers


Scoured out by the river

Washed away
Saw the mixed farming going on... but Alexis says that the farmers are discouraged since they don't have access to larger markets and infrastructure is falling apart. So the farms are being neglected and the farmers are depressed.

There is a farming area here called Syndicate.  Not sure why it is called that... something out of the past? We met with the farmers from there.  Makes sense that the Syndicate farmers should be the Syndicate Farmers Cooperative.  Or just maybe... wait for it...  the Syndicate Farmers Syndicate?

They talked about the need to work cooperatively to try to get things done.  The general mood was that they need to spearhead the group and then choose a few attainable projects that would give them momentum to tackle some of the larger problems.  It was a privilege to listen to them working to solve their problems.

Anyway... later in the day we saw all the washouts caused by the raging rivers from Erica's rain.  Quite a mess for a poor country to have to fix up.  Before Erica these rivers flowed lazily through tropical forests making for tourist paddle tours and lovely back yards.  It's a mess that will take years to recover from.
Got back just in time to get cleaned up and have a drink before heading into the PAYS BBQ.

Our man Seabird (Jeffrey)
Mary Clare and Axel from Azaya

Fish - and then back for chicken

Very professional group of guys
We spend lots of evenings with guests on our boat or as guests on other cruisers' boats watching the sunsets.  We've learned that the much-talked-about Green Flash is quite a disappointing green blip as the sun finally dips into the ocean.  We were expecting something quite a bit more explosive.

Azaya next to us in the neighbourhood

Tall ships at sunset

One day last week we watched a Norwegian flagged Bavaria 44 named Lea come in, captained and crewed by a group of young Norwegian women.  I think they might have come over on the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) from Europe to St. Lucia.  The captain showed great skill as she picked a spot, maneuvered into position and dropped the anchor... with no help from the crew.  Right beside us!!  After setting the anchor she leaped into the water and snorkeled to check that she was happy with it all.  For the next few days we (mostly me) watched them cavort about in their tiny bathing suits; laughing, swimming, and generally having too much fun,  Sadly, they left after only 2 days.  Pam thinks they would have stayed longer if I'd have stared a little less.

Lea - crewed by lady Vikings... Vikettes?
When Azaya arrived here in Portsmouth they were accompanied by  about 5 boats that they'd met down the island chain.  We have joined them for some of their adventures and on other days they take off as a group.  On one of those days when the Azaya group was gone, Maureen from "A Good Day" came around the harbour, knocking on hulls inviting boaters to a Cruisers Potluck.  We joined about 20 others for salads, lionfish, tuna, pork tenderloin, pizza and topped it all off with brownies.  Yumm!  Lots of great stories... lots of great food.

Landscaping the PAYS building

Cruisers Potluck

Antonio wearing a Yale Lions t-shirt.  Wonder where he got that?
So it's time to start thinking about getting back to Antigua so we can take care of the damaged chainplates on the lovely Blue Pearl.  We are looking to leave here on Thursday, apparently a low-wind day.  We'll head up to Les Saintes and then on the next low-wind day head to Deshaise at the north end of Guadeloupe.  We are hoping to cross paths with our German children from last year - crossing our fingers that we can make a familentreffen  ("family reunion" for you non-German speakers) work in Guadeloupe.  Also looking forward to connecting back up with Quest.

Pam will be flying home February 25th while I stay and watch the chainplate process.

It's time to go ashore and make arrangements to watch the Superbowl.  I wonder how that will work?

Go Panthers!

Saturday, January 30, 2016


We are shattered.  Quest slipped out of the anchorage just before 8AM on their way back to Antigua to pick up guests.  We've loved our Happy Hours and Sundowners.  Loved our Portsmouth Secondary School tour. 

Exploring new areas, enjoying meeting new people, trying out new things.  I don't know how we are going to function without them.  Gutted.

Sulked around 'til the afternoon and then went in for produce and beers.  Had naps and did needlework and sodukos.  Oh blar!!

Restored barracks at Fort Shirley


Jungle takes over

Fetching wench

View from the Battery
Good beers, fish and internet

The Tomato - Ross Medical School student hangout.  So much fun showing Sid and Cate around.


Portsmouth Secondary School mission statement


PSS greenhouses

PSS focus

And pillars of the school...
Really missing Sid and Cate.


That's AZAYA!  Yay!!!!! Mary Claire and Axel are here. Just set anchor a couple of boat lengths away.  This is going to be so much fun.  Wooohooooo!!  We did our first crossing from Florida to the Bahamas with them and have bounced around together for the past 6 years.  Exploring new areas, enjoying meeting new people, trying out new things.

We are off on an island tour tomorrow with Alexis (PAYS boatboy) to see the damage caused by hurricane Erica last year.   Who knows what other fun we'll have with Azaya.  They're the best!!

Toes in the water, ass in the sand, life is good today!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Alright… yucky chainplates notwithstanding…

We had a great time in France.  Good sail down to Deshaise and checked in at the Pelican Gift Store.  There were 3 boats in front of us so we decided to drink some beers and come back in the morning.  Got there in the morning and there was only one boat in front of us - WITH 47 PASSENGERS!  Do you know how long it takes someone to hunt and peck that in to a computer.  Especially if, like her, you haven’t done it before.  The french keyboard is wonky and they spell the names of the countries wrong.  When you go to enter someone’s nationality as US you start typing ETAS-UNI.  Try 47 variations of that.  Poor girl.
Yumm - more mahi dinners!

Sailing along with Quest

Anyway, once we were legal we went to the local grocery and bought up some baguettes, cheeses wine and rabbit pate.  Also some Leffe beer - Belgium but close to France!  Yay crazy french food.  Fun in Deshaise.

After two days of charming the locals with my quaint french dialect we left to get to Les Saintes. 

Les Saintes through Pam's picture window

Colourful waterfront

A local guest house - real cheap!

Windswept beach - not great for swimming - huge UnderToad

End of the runway... at the beach

Prehistoric sea monster - about 4 feet long

Bo loves this beach
If you follow this blog you will know that we really like Les Saintes.  It’s a vacation town so lots of restaurants, boutiques and bars.  But also some really great hikes.  Got a chance to give Mr. Bo Jangles some really good beach walks.  Bo didn’t mess with the topless sun-bather.  I was really hoping!
Colourful Caribbean shuttered doors

That's a beauty

Bo's eager to get going

Popular beach

Another picture window shot
Our plans were to carry on from Dominica while Sid and Cate would double back to Antigua to pick up their friends.  We would dawdle on down to St. Lucia and hook up with them along the way.  But that’s all changed now.  We will enjoy some significant fun time here and then dawdle back up to Antigua with jury-rigged shrouds and seriously reduced main.

I’ve ordered the replacement chainplates so after Pam goes home on February 25 I will begin to tear the boat apart.  Once that is complete I will hire a fibreglass guy to prep and install the new chainplates.  Then piece the whole thing back together and… Bob’s your Uncle.  Good old Uncle Bob!

Not sure if Pam will come back down for a season ending couple of weeks or if other family/friends will come down in late March for a spring holiday.

More non-plans!  Always an adventure!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Chainplates are stubs (steel on most boats) anchored in the sides of a boat.  They are used to attach the stays that hold the mast upright.  Folks on many different boats have started to worry about their chainplates after a certain age - kind of like you wonder about your water heater or furnace at home.  “When is it going to break down?  Should I replace it?  Or, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?”

We have wondered about the deep pockets of folks who have rushed out to replace the chainplates on their boats - even though they weren’t broken.  And we have wondered about what would finally galvanize us into undertaking this onerous and costly chore.

So, good news!  We just found out!  Two of our chainplates broke on a particularly nasty transit between Les Saintes and Portsmouth, Dominica. 

We were in 15 to 20 knot breezes with big reefs in main and jib.  The seas were 4 to 6 feet but spaced impossibly close so we were slamming into wave after wave.  We watched Quest beside us as she buried her nose in the water and then leaped up exposing all of her bottom paint.

So all of a sudden we heard a loud bang, and then another less than a second later.  Pam asked me if the kids had copies of the will.  We quickly dropped the main and used the main halyard to stabilize the mast.  Without the sail up, the remaining 14 miles was bumpy until we arrived in Portsmouth Harbour.

Hmmmmm, something missing?

And here...?

How'd you like to get whacked by that flailing in the wind?

So here we are in lovely Dominica.  We will enjoy a great vacation while we figure out how to proceed.  We can jury-rig something to hold the mast upright.  But do we carry on south for a bit or do we skedaddle back to Antigua?  Pam had made some arrangements to fly home from St. Lucia for a visit.  Maybe she flies home from Antigua?

Great to have that cleat just there!

Not sure how much stress that steel loop will like?
Anyway, lots to think about.  Time for another beer.