The Bermuda Triangle

Welcome back, Boatblog ® fans,

 

Yes, as I write this, we are about fifty miles inside the infamous Bermuda Tria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ha ha. Just our little joke. We’re still here really.

But we have put in lot of nautical miles since our last dispatch from The Caribbean. To remind you, when we last blogged, we were on the east coast of Puerto Rico. From there we headed south, and mooched along the coast calling in at such places as Patilles and Salinas. Unfortunately the main anchorage at Salinas was too shallow for us to get in, so we had to stay outside.

Salinas 1

Which was probably nicer anyway, because as you can see the main anchorage was pretty full. Then it was on to Ponce (fortunately pronounced Ponc-ay) and after that Gilligan’s Island – named after the old television series that Ju claims he is too young to remember.

Gilligan’s Island is mangrove heaven!

Gilligan s Island 1

…because unlike most mangrovey places it is not a mud swamp, but set in beautiful clear water.

Gilligan s Island 3

Then round to Boqueron on the west coast, which was to be our staging post for the much feared Mona Passage between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Over here the Mona Passage, with it’s dreaded Hourglass Shoal, has a similar reputation as the Bay of Biscay in Europe, so we waited for a time when the weather looked like it was going to be reasonably calm, or as us mariners call it, “a decent weather window.” We swapped notes at a very nice meal with fellow sailors Bruce and Susan of Libby Lou, before setting off at first light, not sure quite what to expect.

As it happened, it wasn’t as bad as everyone had said.

Becalmed 4

In fact, we’d waited for such a calm period, that there was no wind at all and we had to motor across.

Becalmed 5

Even Sir Ben Ainslie wouldn’t go too fast in this.

Then it was along the northern coast of The Dominican Republic. We didn’t call in because rumour has it that the Customs and Immigration formalities there make you feel like a Romanian arriving in Thanet, so our next stop was Big Sand Cay in the Turks & Caicos Islands. 

Big Sand Cay

Big Sand Cay really is the typical Robinson Crusoe island. No people, silver sand, and just one footprint on the beach. The water was crystal clear, and Ju used the opportunity to go snorkelling and scrape the barnacles and weed off the bottom of the boat. Till he saw a giant barracuda watching him. Just sat there, lurking. Waiting for an opportunity to pounce. The scraping can be done later.

Then on to Grand Turk a few miles further north. We know it sounds boring, but this was another beautiful tropical island. At least this one had some houses and people, so it felt like a major metropolis after Big Sand Cay. We went for our internet fix to a little bar called The Osprey, which was lovely…

Chair feet view

…except that when you looked a bit closer, all the chairs legs were in children’s old shoes.

Chair feet

Hmmmm….wierd.

Next day it was on to Providenciales, still in The Turks and Caicos.

 Provo – as it’s known to it’s friends – is fantastic. The marina was like a 5* resort, and with prices to match, but worth it.

Provo Marina

VIEW FROM THE MARINA OFFICE

We re-fuelled up here for our next leg, as did this boat.

$30 000 of fuel

It took them four hours to fill, and cost just over $30,000.

Yes – THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS!

For diesel.

Just one more reason that we sail.

We did see one other boat in Provo that we were almost tempted to get,

New Boat 2

…but in the end we settled for a glass of Moet Ice.

Big Champagne

That’s one seriously big glass of champagne.

A friend of ours that we met on the ARC, Eric Letton of Time Bandit and brother of Stuart Letton (yes – the very same – he skippered Domini to victory in the Heineken Regatta) had told us that one of his close friends lived on the Turks & Caicos, and sent us a photo of him incase we should bump into him. Which was pretty unlikely as it’s a pretty big collection of islands, but who knows… 

Well – you’ll never guess what…

Jim  Lynne

JU, JIM, LYN & LYNNE

Now those of you that know Lyn will not be surprised to discover that she was in the Nespresso coffee capsule shop. And  those of you who know Jim will not be surprised to discover that he was in the fancy wine shop.

But what sort of a co-incidence is it that the Nespresso CoffeeCapsule shop and the fancy wine shop are one and the same!

Anyway, Jim and Lynne invited us to their new “condo” (which they’d moved in to just the day before) for a barbecue.  We took a bottle of champagne as a house warming present, and Jim and Lynne managed the most extraordinary piece of juggling we have ever seen. When Lynne popped the cork it shot out like a ballistic missile, and the shock of nearly losing her eye caused her to drop the bottle. This then landed upside down on the floor where the champagne, which was now spurting furiously out of the neck made it shoot up in the air like Apollo 11. Jim, with the sort of lightening reflex normally seen only in the slips at Lord’s, managed to catch it as it went hurtling towards the mirror, before nonchalantly filing a glass with what was left of the champagne. If only they could repeat it, I’d enter them for Britain’s Got Talent.

We had a great evening. It turns out that Jim is Chief of Police on the islands, and used to be very high up in the London Met. His ‘manor’ included Acton – it’s a small world. We are pleased that neither of us were known to the police during his watch, because that would have been just embarrassing.

Next it was the big leap. We planned to cross direct from the Turks & Caicos to Norfolk, Virginia in the good ole U.S. of A, but unfortunately a Tropical Storm started off the coast of North Carolina. Not quite a hurricane, but big enough to get a name – Ana. So we had to wait and make our way up through The Bahamas instead. Which is not exactly terrible!

The first stop was Rum Cay, which was picture perfect, but contained a hidden menace. 

MOSQUITOS!

And millions of them. You’d look at your leg and there would be about twenty of them all feasting on the back of your knee. We only saw one person on the island. The mosquitos have eaten all the rest.

We anchored as for off as we could, and left before they found us.

Next, it was Cat Island…

Only Boat In The Bay

FERNANDEZ BAY, CAT ISLAND

We do seem to have rather a lot of pictures of Domini, as seen from the bar.

And then on to Marsh Harbour, and there was now a weather window to get us round Cape Hatteras, which is what we are doing right now.

Just time for some arty farty photos from our collection.

Blue 4

BLUE

The water is so clear and deep us you come up to Turks & Caicos that you can see the light dancing in the depths. The picture doesn’t do it justice, but it gives you some sort of an idea.

Gilligan s Island 5

MANGROVE

Sunset

SUNSET

Avast!  Enough blogging for one day. 

Next time you hear from us we will have discovered America. We will try to introduce them to civilisation.

Bye for now

 

Ju & Lyn

The Other Virgins

Buenos Dias and Howdy Boatbloggers,

I say that because we are in America AND we are in Spain. Well…sort of.

Actually it’s Puerto Rico which is very Spanish, but technically a US territory if not an actual state. It’s like America, but it’s more like Spain. The main language is Spanish, but most people speak English. The speed limit is in MPH, but the distances are in km. Taco Maker is everywhere, but so too is Burger King. They drive on the right, but with Spanish gusto, and everything is very efficient, but mañana is fast enough.

The British aren’t the only ones to have Virgins Islands and to get to Puerto Rico we had to sail through all the others. We started on the island of St John, which is in the US Virgins and is a National Park so is very unspoiled, and then went on to St Thomas which has benefited from progress a lot more. So we didn’t like that as much.

We prefer to anchor or use a mooring buoy when we can, rather than go into a marina. Not only is it free, but it’s nicer…

St John Anchorage

THE VIEW FROM THE ANCHORAGE – St John

Cruise Ships 1

THE VIEW IN THE MARINA – St Thomas

Believe it or not, that is not actually the South Acton Estate in the background, but a couple of luxury cruise ships about to disgorge their thousands of passengers onto the little town of Crown Bay, with all it’s duty free shops set up for just that reason.

Next stop was Culebra in the Spanish Virgins. This is a delightful little island, and we anchored in Dikity Bay where we were stalked by turtles and giant Tarpon.

Tarpon 3

We thought about getting the fishing rod out, but we were worried that we might actually catch one.

We decided to rent a car to get out and about…

Car

..but I’m afraid to say it was just more perfect beaches.

Perfect Shade 2

Though there are a few reminders that it hasn’t always been quite so peaceful.

Tank 2

Then on to Isla de Palominos with its fantastic snorkelling…

Tropical Fish

…before finally arriving in Puerto del Ray in Puerto Rico.

PR has it all. Beautiful beaches, and pristine rainforest. We spent a day going round the El Yunque rainforest. The trees and vegetation is all so BIG!

Honey I ve Shrunk The Kids

It’s like being on the set of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

Big Grass 2

BIG GRASS

Waterfall 1

WATERFALLS

Then in the evening we went kayaking through the forest to see the bio-luminescence in the salt water lakes after dark.

Kayak 3

Notice that Lyn is paddling hard, while Ju is sat in the back taking photos.

The bio-luminescence is amazing. The water just sparkles. Unfortunately it doesn’t come out very well in a photograph, so you’ll just have to go and see it for yourself!

Bioluminescence

BIO-LUMINESCENCE (From a collection of eighteen)

Next we went to the capital, San Juan and stayed in the old part of town as treat for Ju’s birthday. It was good to see our old friend Christopher Columbus in the town square, and to know that we really have travelled in the wake of the original great explorer. From Las Palmas in The Canaries to San Juan in Puerto Rico.

Columbus

COLON’S COLUMN

And this edition’s arty farty prize is split between Ju and Lyn.  Here’s Ju’s effort…

Arty Farty Cocktail

COCKTAIL

…and here’s Lyn’s.

Arty Farty Window

WINDOW ON THE RAINFOREST

Have a Nice Day! and Adios amigos.

Ju & Lyn

 

FAME!

Ahoy again Boatblog®  fans,

It has just come to our attention that we are famous!

These articles appeared in the March and April editions of Yachting Monthly.

YM March

MARCH

 

YM April

APRIL

“….from novice to ocean cruisers.”

Like it!

 

Ju & Lyn

 

X

(Thanks to Peter Smith, Atlantic crew on Reservoir Dogs for sending these to us)

The Virgin Islands

Ahoy there Boatbloggers® ,

Next stop after St Martins was the British Virgin Islands. You may be wondering why they are called this rather unusual name, and apparently it is because when Columbus first discovered them, he was so enchanted by the archipelago that he called them the “Eleven Thousand Virgins,” after the 11,000 Companions of St Ursula who were martyred in the 5th century by the Huns. Which is not as exciting as we might have hoped, but very interesting just the same. And the particular Virgin Islands we were going to were once British, hence, the British Virgin Islands – or BVI.

Unfortunately, getting there was not all plain sailing. We experienced our first STORM AT SEA!

 Storm 9

We should explain about pictures of storms at sea. They never look half as bad as they actually are, so if you’re looking at these pictures thinking, “What’s all the fuss about?” Trust me – when you’re right next to them, those are BIG waves!

Storm 6

The boat is rocking’ and rollin’.

The wind was a steady 40 knots, gusting up to 48 knots, which according to the official sailing handbook is “Force 9 – Strong Gale.” And for the landlubbers amongst you, that means, “Bloody windy.”

Storm 4

That number in the top right hand corner is the wind speed (TWS) for those of you that need proof!

Storm 2

But eventually we arrived safe and sound, and discovered why Columbus had been so enchanted. These are the stereotypes to beat all stereotypes of a tropical island paradise.

Tropical beach 2

Worth battling through a little bit of wind and rain for.

But the real reason that we were coming to the BVI was to meet our friend Nicho…

Nicho 1

…and Ju’s brother, Dave…

Dave 1

…who had come out for a week to be our new crew!

We sailed from one tropical paradise…

Sandy Cay Anchorage

to another…

Palm Tree 2

Snorkelling on the reefs in the crystal clear waters.

Snorkeling

Or canoeing…

Canoeing

Of course as soon as the sun had dropped below the yardarm, we had to have a sundowner…

Cheers

or two…

B Line Bar

Three..

Foxy s Bar

One more…

The Boys 1

(ok – that’s enough bar shots. Ed)

Ju even did a gig at The Last Resort

Gig at The Last Resort

(I said no more bars. Ed)

It was good having Dave and Nicho with us to help us with the sailing.

Crew 3

But all too soon, it was time for them to head back home to the cold and damp of Merrie England, so we bid our sad farewells, and set about preparing the boat for the next adventure.

This week we have a number of entries for the Boatblogger® Arty Farty Prize, so please vote for your favourite. 

Arty Farty 1

OLD ROPE

Arty Farty Hammock

HAMMOCK

Arty Farty Water

WATER

Big Splash

SPLASH

Domini

…and finally, AT ANCHOR

Please write your choice on the back of a hundred dollar bill and send it to the usual address.

That’s all for now. 

Next stop – The US Virgins!

 

Ju & Lyn

X

Probably the best regatta in the world….

….The Heineken Regatta.

Yes Boatblog® Fans, flushed with success from our racing debut on Galatea in Grenada, we decided to enter The Heineken Regatta on the island of St Maarten.

But this time in our own boat!

Now this is not something to be undertaken lightly, and certainly not something we could do double handed, so the first step was to put together a world class crew. Fortunately, as we have travelled across the Seven Seas, we have become friends with many fine sailors, in particular Stuart and Anne Letton from Scotland, and Dave and Linda Witham from California.

So with Ju and Lyn (from England) we had a truly INTERNATIONAL team, and knew that Domini (from France) was going to be a force to be reckoned with.

Team Bonding

THE A-TEAM. From left to right:- Stuart, Anne, Ju, Lyn, Linda  and Dave.

All we needed now was a costume. 

Crew

Maybe purple wasn’t the best colour, but they had six of them on offer in Budget Marine.

We set about honing our skills.

Stuart was volunteered to be skipper…

Stuart

…on the grounds that he actually knew what he was doing.

Dave was Main Sheet Trimmer… 

Dave

Linda was Winch Grinder…  

Lynda

…and a thousand other things too numerous to mention.

Lyn…

Lyn

and Ju…

Ju

…tried not to get in the way.

And Anne…

Anne

 …did everything else.

So all in all, we had a first rate crew. All we needed now was some practice on the boat. Unfortunately, on the day we had planned to go out training, it was too windy to get out of the marina (I’m not kidding). So we had to sit in the pub all day and talk about how we were going to win.

Not to worry. Ready or not, the big day was upon us.

 

HEINEKEN REGATTA 2015 – DAY 1

 

Dave and Linda cast off our mooring lines…

Bottoms Up

(In case you were wondering, that’s Dave on the left, Linda on the right.)

The skipper gave his last minute instructions…

Crew Instructions 1

…and we set off.

Setting Off

Through the lifting bridge out of the marina…

Through The Bridge

…to the race area.

The five minute warning flag was raised, and we positioned ourselves near the start line.

Then…

Whooooooooooooo!

Racing

We were off.

Nice Boat 1

There were hundreds of boats all round us.

Nice Boat 2

 Including of course, some proper race boats…

Big Cats

It’s all very exciting. 

Action

We got off to a good start…even with Ju helming.

Hiking

A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE

There is a handicap system at work in sailing races, so that different boats can compete fairly against each other. After a hard fought race, Anne worked out that with the corrected times, from a class of fifteen boats, we had come…

Tactics

Let me see. Four hours twenty six seconds divided by 0.875, times the boat length, divided by the square root of the sail area, plus the combined ages of the crew, less their weight in kilos means that we are….

 

THIRD!

 

Not a bad start Boatblog®  Fans.

Could we keep it up for the next two days?

 

HEINEKEN REGATTA 2015 – DAY 2


The second day, Lyn took the helm.

Lyn 2

And as you can see in Stuart’s face, the pressure was on…

Stuart 2

…and that day we learnt many new Scottish words.

This time my friends, after another long and difficult race, we came SECOND in our class.

 

HEINEKEN REGATTA 2015 – DAY 3


So now the pressure really was on for the third day. We even got the pole out…

Wing on Wing

Even though Domini broke her own speed record, managing 12.2 knots (and that’s through the water, not SOG for those sailors reading who understand these subtleties) it wasn’t enough to keep the Schooner from overtaking us. 

Schooner 4

But still, once again we came SECOND over the finish line.

Spectator Boat

CROSSING THE LINE

But Oh No!!

Disaster!

As we went over the line, the race committee boat that we had just passed didn’t blow the whistle as we had expected.  This is the signal that would confirm we had finished and our time had been recorded.

“Why not?” Linda politely screamed at the officials on the boat.

“We’re just spectators,” one of them replied. “The finish line is over there.”

He pointed to an almost identical boat thirty yards upwind of us,  It turned out that the boat we had passed was not in fact the actual Race Committee Boat. It was the committee boat for another race that had forgotten to take it’s flags down, and they were just sat there guzzling gin & tonics.

“Goodness me! You rascals!” Ju remonstrated, or words to that effect.

As quickly as possible, we gybed round, tacked and gybed again, and eventually crossed the proper finish line. 

Race Commitee Boat

CROSSING THE ACTUAL LINE

But by the time we had done all this, our position had dropped down to SIXTH place. 

Grrrrrrrrr.

This was not fair, and we wanted to officially protest. To do that, under the rules of racing you have to raise a red flag. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a red flag, so we raised a pair of Lyn’s red trousers.

Red Flag

PROTEST FLAG

This meant that after the race, Ju and Stuart had to go to the International Protest Committee and explain that we thought it unfair to position such similar boats next to each other. 

After several hours, we discovered that our protest had been UPHELD. Which meant that our original position of SECOND was officially recorded.

And that, Boatblog®  Fans meant that over the three days…

(Cue fanfare)

The Overall Winner in the Lottery Class

of the

35th International Heineken Regatta 2015 

is 

DOMINI

 

First Place Overall

1st PLACE OVERALL

Much as we would like to take all the credit for our spectacular win, the real honours go to our fantastic friends and crew, Dave, Linda and Anne. And of course Stuart our amazing skipper. Thank you to you all, for giving us such a fun and exciting three days.

Now…off for some Rum Punches to celebrate.

Dinghy

Woo woo woo!

 

Ju & Lyn

Shark!

Ahoy there Boatblog fans,

And once again thanks for all the feedback and comments. In response to Alan’s remarks, it’s not the waves that worry us Al – it’s the WILDLIFE!!!

Now you know me – I’m not one to over-dramatise a situation. So there we were, anchored in Columbier Bay on the North West coast of St Barts. A bay known for its rich profusion of wildlife – in particular the turtles.We could see their heads poking up out of the water all around us, so we thought we’d go for a snorkel with them.

Ju climbed down the ladder on the transom (that’s the bit at the back, my landlubber friends) and peered into the depths. When all of a sudden…

Der dum….

He saw, right next to the keel…

Der dum….

 

Shark 1

JAWS!

Now it might not be a Great White, but it still has big teeth. And I would like to point out that the photos make it look a LOT smaller than it really was.

Shark 5

He waited on the ladder ready to jump back on the boat as soon as it started to look hungry. But after a while it seemed like it wasn’t doing any harm, so once he’d stopped hyper-ventilating through his snorkel he swam off to look for turtles.

And there were plenty of them.

Turtle 3

…and thousands of starfish.

Starfish

But soon it was time to return. It was a little bit worrying swimming back to where the shark was, but the Jacques Cousteau in him realised zat somehow he must get back on ze boat…

Der dum…

So imagine his surprise when he found…

Der dum…

Not one…

Dum dum dum dum dum dum

…but TWO Sharks.

2 sharks 2

All of a sudden, one of them shot out to grab a passing fish. We have never seen anything go from nought to sixty so fast. Apart from Ju climbing back up the ladder.

 

St Barts itself is an amazing island; very different from the other islands we have been to. For a start it is French, but it is also the playground for the super wealthy. The sudden contrast with the other islands was a little unsettling.

One More Toy

There are streets of designer shops, and the sort of designer shops that are SO exclusive that you’ve not even heard of them. Rolex and Armani looked cheapskate. The locals thought that our clothes must be really upmarket, because they’d never heard of Primark.

But it was all very nice, and once I had arranged a bank loan we went for a coffee and a croissant.

Shell Beach St Barts

SHELL BEACH – THE ANCHORAGE IN ST BARTS. A beach made entirely of shells.

But before we got to St Barts, we had called in at Nevis and St Kitts. The crossing between islands has been pretty rough in the last few weeks, and thirty knots of breeze (that’s what we sailors call ‘wind,’) is not uncommon.

Rough Seas 2

Nevis is a very nice place to go, with botanical gardens…

Botanical Gardens Nevis

Lovely restaurants converted from the old plantation owners homes…

 

Plantation garden 2 NevisPLANTATION RESTAURANT

St Kitts is about 6 miles away as the shark swims…

St Kitts From Nevis

ST KITTS AS SEEN FROM NEVIS

This is Domini at anchor from the top of the hill in St Kitts. Next to Robert Redford’s house. (He wasn’t in)

And this is the same place from ground level.

At Anchor

COCKTAIL HOUR

And now we are off to St Maarten to enter the Heineken Regatta with our friends Stuart and Anne Letton from Time Bandit and Dave and Lynda Witham from Purrfect.

On the way to St Maarten

ON THE WAY TO ST MAARTEN (Courtesy of Time Bandit)

And this weeks award for best Arty Farty picture goes to Lyn for her work entitled “Happy Hour.”

Arty Farty Cocktail

We’ll let you know how we get on in the Regatta.

Au Revoir for now

 

Ju & Lyn