The Leeward Islands of Saint Martin and Antigua.
Saint Martin is an island divided between two nations, a division dating to 1648. The southern Dutch part comprises Sint Maarten and is one of four constituent countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The northern French part comprises the Collectivité de Saint-Martin and is an overseas collectivity of France.
Antigua and Barbuda is a twin-island nation lying between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of two major inhabited islands,Antigua and Barbuda, and a number of smaller islands
The Leeward Islands are a group of islands in the West Indies. They are the northern islands of the Lesser Antilles chain. As a group they start east of Puerto Rico and reach southward to Dominica. They are situated where the northeastern Caribbean Sea meets the western Atlantic Ocean. The more southerly part of the Lesser Antilles chain is called the Windward Islands.
4 April 2011
What a trip! One of the lessons sailing gives me all the time, we are sooo dependent on mother nature and we are in "it" together , we can only learn to surrender and go with the flow. I can not change the direction of the waves and the strength of the wind, nor the distance of the next landfall. Richard was watching the development of the weather pattern more closely than in the last couple of weeks while cruising the BVI in bliss and comfort. He was under "the weather" himself a bit, a cold troubled him for the last days, but! We had to go, the wind had shifted and our visa had expired. Our lunch was a bit greasy and I had to pay for it. I was so terribly seasick, not even water stayed down, on top of it, I was under the impression we would sail the 80 NM in hopefully 12 hours, how wrong I was! The wind was right on the nose and it took 24 hours from anchorage to anchorage. We had our autopilot on wind, super luxury in conditions like this, takes a lot of power though, it was overheated several times and failed, but it was a great help. We had the generator on for hours on end, made lots of water, our tanks were full up, we tasted the water, it looked yellow. Oh, no! Looks like we have algae growing in the tank? Will see how to solve this one. There was a lot of ship traffic, lots of grockle carriers which make sometimes life of a sailor difficult. Our collision alarm came on many times and we had to sail under full engine more than once. It was not easy to hold a course at all, we were all over the place.
We arrived totally exhausted, Richard´s flu came back with a vengeance and he had to stay in bed for the next days, was feverish and as usual when not fit, felt very sorry about himself. In the early morning hours in the bay we were woken up by our French neighbors with their foghorn, they claimed our anchor had slipped a little? Well it hadn´t, not even a little, we always have our anchor watch on, even sometimes when we raise the anchor, which is a nuisance having to listen to the warning bleeps. Anyhow, we only had swung with the changing wind and the French thought we were too close, we know when people do not appreciate our company and we went to a different place, there is so much space, no trouble. Richard said, they might have thought we were very strange people, seeing me washing our boat down in the rain wearing a neoprene and later swimming in my eve´s costume, better to shoo them away.
14 April 2011
While in St. Martin we got very familiar with all the chandlers on the Island. There was no time to do anything else. Richard looked like a child in a candy shop, the chandlers had everything he never thought he would need, nowhere, perhaps not even in La Rochelle could he search and actually find things he was always looking for and did not know they even existed. Never understand why these shops have no ladies corners, with comfortable easy chairs and books to read, or offer shoulder and neck massages.
We took the opportunity and went to see "Antiki" the transatlantic raft, which took 9 weeks from the Canary Islands and arrived in St. Maarten when we were there, just amazing, they crossed the Atlantic with this raft made of pipes and the youngest crew member was older than me! Wonder why we bought a boat, when Richard could have so easily built it himself, after all he worked with pipes most of his life and he is the handiest DIYér I have come across in my life.
We wanted to go to Antigua for the Race week and could not stay any longer.
22 April 2011
Arrived in Antigua, a bit late for the Classics or just in time to see the last hours of the race very close up, we sailed to the turning buoy where two other boats hovered with lots of professional photographers aboard. What a spectacular sight! It must be so nerve wracking for those skippers, after all, some are sailing a museum full of history and sentimental value. Guess, its more about fun than winning, even though to a sailing novice like me it looks all very serious and competitive.
When we finally found a place to anchor in the overcrowded bay of Falmouth Harbor we had the last chance to walk along the dock and looked at those marvelous old vessels. Mind you, most of them are full of modern gadgets and some are replicas. The most outstanding must be ELENA, built in 2009 and the original plans are from 19011. ELENA won the classics and her 53 crew got lots of prizes. We went to the prize giving ceremony. .. well, what can I say, if you are not a participant at the races its not so exciting.
Nelsons Dock Yard is the oldest working yard in the Caribbean, thought for a moment we were in Bradford on Avon, everything very English, lots of trees and flowers, even the red old telephone box was there. And of course they serve Cream Tea. We had in St. Lucia very often scones and could even buy clotted cream in the supermarket. Bread is mainly mass produced factory stuff American style, luckily we have now a wonderful oven and we are enjoying wholesome homemade bread. You can´t beat the smell of freshly backed bread. Just making some Chelsea buns to get into the spirit of Easter.
15 April 2011
An old German sailing practice says, never begin a trip on a Friday, this is very unlucky. Well, we are not superstitious and went in light winds to St. Barth, prepared to stop at some of the beaches on the way if the wind is not favorable. The wind changed continuously from North to South, then half way it rained so hard that you could hardly hear your own word and we had to motor the last 12 miles always followed by this frightening dark cloud. We arrived in heavy seas and rain and picked up a mooring buoy with some difficulty because the waves were so high. I insured myself, got some bruises and cuts since I did not want to let go of the hook, silly. We just did it in time because a cyclone hit the Island, the wind kept spinning us around and it rained cats and dogs. We even had to close the cockpit doors because the water came splashing into the salon. Just when we settled and took our wet gear off another boat came and attempted many times to pick up a buoy, they just could not do it and I did not believe my eyes one of our neighbors jumped in his dinghy in torrential rains and 30 knot winds and helped them secure the mooring line. Wonderful to see such comradeship!
The next day was lovely sunshine and we liked the little bay, the water was pristine turquoise and clear, the beach clean and hardly any people. On top of the hill was an unusual villa with big gardens down to the beach, it used to belong to Rockefeller. We decided to stay another night and sail only in good weather, if possible.