Los Galapagos

Bienvenidos mi amigos,

Rock

This island is called Waterfalls of the Sea, and is just one of the many wonders that makes up The Galapagos, 700 Nautical Miles off the coast of Ecuador far out in the depths of the Pacific Ocean, and just south of the Equator.

Galapagos

Yes Boatblog ® fanos, this latest edition comes to you live from The Galapagos.

Now we know what you’re thinking. “Weren’t they in the Caribbean last week? How have they got all that distance, including going through the Panama Canal, in just a couple of weeks?”

Quite simple really. We left Domini in St Maarten, and got a plane. OK – so technically it’s cheating, but what happened is this. Our good friends Stuart & Ann Letton of Time Bandit…

Time Bandit

…are sailing round the world. They’d just gone through the Panama Canal and arrived in The Galapagos, and they very kindly invited us over. Well it would be rude not to say no.

So here we are on Santa Cruz…

The Famous Four 2

..exploring the caves caused by the lava flows.

Steps Out Of The Cave

It’s a long way down.

Climbing 3

And even further back up.

Climbing 4

We met some of the locals. They’re friendly enough, but they’re a bit slow.

Tortoise

Obviously it’s quite hard to get this close to the giant tortoises, so we had to make use of a specially designed ShellCam © 

ShellCam 1

That’s actually a real tortoise shell, but surprise surprise!

ShellCam3

 It’s Stuart inside!

The tortoises live to over 150 years old, (which makes Ju about 26 in tortoise years). That is of course assuming they don’t get run over.

Tortoise Crossing

They really are enormous.

The Famous Four Go Tortoise Hunting

The number of animals that are unique to these islands is quite remarkable. These are marine iguanas. As in iguanas that go swimming in the sea.

Marine Iguana 2

There are weird looking jumping crabs,

Crabs

..and sealions everywhere.

Sealion 1

We even caught a brief glimpse of that rarest of all creatures.

David Attenburgh

A David Attenborough.

Next we went snorkelling.

Freediver Ju

It’s quite impossible to describe the sheer number of fish, and the amazing colours. It’s like swimming in an aquarium.

Fish

It’s a bit of a shock when you see your first shark and can’t get the Jaws theme out of your head.

Shark 2

There are Galapagos sharks (of course!), which are close relatives of the tiger shark, white tipped reef sharks, and  hammerheads swimming in vast numbers around the islands, and once you’ve got over the thought that you might be lunch, you appreciate just how incredible these animals are.

It seemed a bit mean, but on the way back we had a go at fishing. Now with this many fish in the water, even Ju should be able to catch something.

Fishing 1

It was quite a struggle bringing it in. The fish put up quite a fight, and it took about ten minutes to haul it in. Ju was exhausted by the struggle, and convinced he’d hooked a record breaking tuna. He was quite surprised when it was finally brought on board.

Fishing 2

Still, it’s the biggest (only) fish he’s ever caught. And couldn’t be fresher. On the table within five minutes of being pulled onto the boat.

Fishing 3

Yum yum.

The snorkelling just gave us a taste for more, so the next day we decided to go diving.

Superheroes

And this time the Superheroes were down with the Hammerheads!

Dum dum dum dum dum dum.

Hammerhead

They are the most majestic of animals.

There are giant rays…

Ray 3

…and they come in all shapes and colours.

Ray 6

Some just lurk on the bottom, waiting for the unwary diver.

Ray 1

Look at his eyes. The starfish are pretty.

Starfish 3

Apparently you shouldn’t call them starfish, because they’re not really fish. You should call them Sea Stars. (Not a lot of people know that. Here at the Boatblog ® we seek to inform as well as entertain.)

Starfish 1

The next day, we set sail (well, technically we put the motor on, but you know what I mean) for the largest of the Galapagos Islands…

Isabela

…Isabela.

This is the island that is most like how you probably imagine the Galapagos to be. This is the high street of the main town.

Isabela High Street

…and this is the pub.

The Pub

You have to step over the locals who spend all day lying around, sleeping off the effects of the night before.

Sealion 2

…and it’s not ducks in the village pond.

Flamingo 2

It’s all totally unspoilt.

Isabela Path

..which makes things like shopping much more fun than going down to Tesco’s. 

Shopping

You go to the farm, point to you what you want, and the farmer cuts it down for you there and then. And who cares if you don’t get points on your loyalty card?

It’s the same with the fishmonger. It comes straight off the boat…

Fish Market 2

…and the pelicans get the scraps.

Fish Market 1

We went to a place called The Tuneles. (Not to be confused with The Tuneless, one of Ju’s old bands). It’s Spanish for Tunnels. Really they’re underwater arches, but apparently it got mixed up in the translation.

Arch

Again, the amount of wildlife was extraordinary, and you could get right up close. This is the famous Blue Footed Booby lolloping over to see what’s going on.

Booby 2

And there’s not many places in the world you can swim with penguins without a wet suit.

Penguin 2

The rays fly round in schools…

School Of Rays

…and the turtles are bigger than Ju.

Turtle

 

And now in a brand new feature for The Boatblog ®, a little game called, “Find the Fauna!”

Round 1…

Ray 2

Can you see it?

And for round 2, have you idea what this?

Manta 2

If you said a pair of sharks, go to the bottom of the class. It is in fact a Manta Ray.

And finally, how many marine iguanas can you see in this photo?

Marine Iguana 4

Answers on a postcard please. Anyone with a correct answer gets to take the crew of Domini out for a slap up meal.

And this week’s caption competition.

Finding Nemo

 

 

Of course it wouldn’t be a Boatblog ® without an Arty Farty Prize, and in this Pacific Edition we have a number of contenders. First up is Stuart’s, “Flippers!”

Arty Farty Flippers

(Correction – that should of course read “Fins!” Sorry Stuart)

Next we have Lyn’s “Gate!”

Arty Farty Gate

And Ju’s entry is “Pelican!”

Arty Farty Pelican

 

It’s hard to believe we were only there for a week, and quite impossible to describe how incredible this place is. The pictures don’t do it justice. The Galapagos are islands of superlatives. So get out your David Attenborough box set, brush up your Spanish and come and see them for yourselves.

Muchas Gracias Stuart y Ann.

Hasta Luego.

Ju & Lyn

Whoops – almost forgot the obligatory sunset. Our first over The Pacific.

Sunset Over The Pacific

Old Friends Come To Stay

Welcome back Boatbloggers ®

Of course, when we say “Old Friends Come To Stay,” we don’t mean old as in, ‘of pensionable age.’  We simply mean that we have known them for a long time.

Restaurant 1

Yes, Nicho & Shelagh visited us in Nevis and St Kitts, for a week of fantastic sailing.

Unfortunately, it was really windy.

Windy

…which those landlubbers among you might think is what you would want to go sailing. And of course it’s true up to a point.  But sometimes it gets too windy and it’s better to stay at anchor and talk about sailing.

So, we went to a restaurant instead…

Restaurant 3

And then we went to a restaurant.

Restaurant 2

…and then we went to..er…a….

Sunshine.

But after that we went to the famous Nevis Botanical Gardens…

Gardens

..which is mainly famous for it’s…er..restaurant.

 

Cocktail Hour

It’s always nice when old friends can get together, and have long and deep meaningful conversations…

Chatting With Friends

…with people who are somewhere else.

(Are there any photos of you actually not in a restaurant? – Ed)

We saw pineapples growing.

Pineapple

And monkeys.

Monkey

But sad to say, didn’t actually do a lot of sailing.

For this edition, of the Boatblog ® we have decided to introduce a new competition, called “Showers of the Caribbean.” The first contender is….

Surf Dude Shower

Surfdude Shower 1

Next up is….Canoe Shower

Canoe Shower

Then for those who don’t mind sharing…His & Hers…

Functional Shower

…and finally…Flower Power Shower

Flower Shower

To cast your vote, simply call 0898 898989, and have your credit card ready.

To continue the Bathroom Theme, some of the signs outside the restrooms (that’s toilet to our English readers. Not quite sure why they are called restrooms. Do people go in there to have a rest?) are quite unusual. This was obviously quite an upmarket sort of a place.

Rolls Royce

And this one for some reason seems to be able to detect things that shouldn’t need detecting.

Motion Detector

This next message kind of sums up life in the Caribbean, though it does give a hint of urgency that doesn’t really exist.

Caribbean Message

And in another brand new feature, introduced especially for this edition we would like to present

 The Poor Seamanship Award 2016

And this years unrivalled winner is…

(Pause for fanfare)

Nicho,

…with his splendid entry called “iPhone Beermat.”

Poor Seamanship Award 2016

Yes dear readers, that really is an iPhone 6 being used to protect the cockpit table from a cup of tea. Many of you might think this would actually count as poor landsmanship, but on a boat it is truly spectacular.

Congratulations Nicho!

We have a number of contenders for the arty farty prize. Lyn’s first entry is called simply “Floor.”

Arty Farty Floor 2

That is actually a floor made from coral that they used in one of the (many – we know) restaurants that we went to.

Next up we have, “Kite,” seen at Nevis’ annual Kite Flying Competition.

Kite

But the overall winner is Lyn’s “Mailboxes.”

Mailboxes

All too soon, Nicho and Shelagh had to wend there way back to The Old Country, while we went North to St Maarten. It was quite a nerve racking trip. Our engine wouldn’t start, so we knew that when we got there we would have to go through the swing bridge under sail to get it into a marina where it could be repaired. Tricky stuff, even for master mariners.

When we got there, Lyn had a fiddle with some of the wires that led to the engine. And lo and behold it just started. Panic over. We’ve no real idea why, but Lyn now reckons she’s a master mechanic.

Fortunately, once we’d moored up, we met Jef from Marine Solutions here in Simpson Baii – and he really IS a master mechanic.

Jeff

His last job was in Portsmouth working with the America’s Cup team. Ju told him that next time he is over, he should mention that he has been working in Domini to Ben Ainslie. It might help.

Next we are going to be sailing to Santa Cruz in The Galapagos Islands. That’s thousands of miles away from here. To find out how we manage it, make sure you order your next instalment of…

THE BOATBLOG.COM

Vaarwel for now.

Ju & Lyn

St Maarten (Dutch side)

PS

We hope you manage to receive this blog. Internet connections aren’t always that great.

Wireless Internet

Same Places, New Faces

This week we were visited by Rory and Zoe,

16-03-16carib0284

…and we once again went round all the places we went to with James & Emma, Alice & Ben. In an exciting new development for the Boatblog, Rory has made a video of highlights from the trip.

So without more ado, I hand you over to our guest blogger, Rory.

 

What’s dad looking at?

16-03-16carib0276

It was good to be able to spend some family time together.

19-03-16carib0087

And here are a few contenders for this instalments Arty Farty Prize.

 

And here’s a picture of Zoe.

20-03-16carib0005

Bye

Rory

We have a crew!

Yes Boatblog ® fans, we are no longer double handed.

We have been joined first by James & Emma,

James  Emma 2

…and a couple of days later by Alice & Ben.

Ben  Alice 2

So, with our new crew aboard and raring to go…

Crew

…our first stop was Hillsborough, capital city of Carriacou.

Hillsborough

Hillsborough High Street – James has this fancy app on his phone which makes his photos look like Cuba in the 50’s.

It was here that we found Deefer Divers, so we took our crew underwater. Alice has been SCUBA diving before, but for the rest of them it was the first time.

 Getting Ready to Dive

It’s fair to say, that Emma didn’t enjoy it that much. In fact, that’s probably a bit of an understatement. She hated it. Which I guess shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise given that she doesn’t really like snorkelling. But fair play to her – she gave it a go.

We dove/dived (which is it?) off a little atoll called Sandy Island. The water was unbelievably clear. 

 Cool Diving Photo 1

But let us introduce you to the new crew.

JAMES was really keen this year to get more involved with the handling of the boat, and to do some of the sailing, and we agreed to capture pictures of him in action. Here is a short selection…

James In Action 1

TUNING IN MENTALLY

James In Action 2

PREPARING FOR THE NEXT WATCH

James In Action 3

CATCHING FLIES

Then there is BEN. Ben loves to swim. And eat. In fact it is believed that he part fish…

Ben 2

… part wolf.

Ben has a healthy appetite

But it’s not all just muscle on board. We also have glamour.

The girls

(L to R) EMMA, ALICE & LYN

From Carriacou we headed up to Petit St Vincent in The Grenadines. Nearby is a perfect deserted Robinson Crusoe Island called Morpion, which we re-christened The Heap of Sand.

The Heap of Sand 2

It looks a bit like the old Apple screensaver. Here is the Captain and Crew,

The Heap of Sand

 … or The Caribiners as we now call ourselves.

Caribiners

Of course we just had to go back to the Tobago Cays to snorkel with the turtles. 

Turtle 1

James has another fancy app on his phone which turns his photos into an iPhone screensaver.

Turtle 5

The Tobago Cays are not only famous for the turtles, but also the lobster barbecues.

LOBSTER – BEFORE

Lobster  Before

LOBSTER – AFTER

Lobster  After

They couldn’t really be any fresher.

The best way to get around the Cays is by canoe.

Canoe Team

Ju always goes in the back so Lyn can’t see if he’s paddling.

Then from Tobago Cays to Mayreau, once again seen through the lens with the 50’s Postcard filter.

Mayreau

The main village is at the top of a steep hill.

A steep climb

A very steep hill.

A steep climb 2

It was soon time to return to Grenada so that our new crew could get their flights back to the cold and wet. But before they left, Grenada had plenty to offer. There are the famous underwater statues…

Statues 2

Mermaids,

Statues  Mermaid

and James.

Statues 4

We swam in the waterfalls…

Waterfall 1

Ben jumped in, which was pretty brave,

 

Waterfall Jump  Before

…and a shame that the camera missed it.

Waterfall Jump  after

Fortunately, Ju’s photographer was a bit better.

Waterfall Hero

We ventured deep into the reforest, and discovered some strange and exotic creatures,

Creatures of the Rainforest,

…painted rocks,

Painted Rocks

…and a chocolate factory, with the world’s biggest bar of chocolate. 6lbs in fact.

Big Chocolate

One each then.

Then back to St George’s where we anchored the boat, and James took another 50’s postcard photo of The Carenage.

The Carenage

But now it is time for the usual Arty Farty photograph competition. With so many crew, we have a number of strong contenders. 

Arty Farty Branch

BRANCH

Arty Farty Cool Diving Photo 2

INTO THE DEPTHS

Arty Farty Turtles

TURTLES & STARFISH

Arty Farty Patriotic Palm Tree

PATRIOTIC TREE (Red, yellow & green are Grenada’s national colours, and come independence day, everything gets painted)

Arty Farty Tighrope Man

TIGHTROPE MAN WITH LOBSTER

Arty Farty Waterfall 2

WATERFALL

To register your vote please write on the back of a cheque for at least four figures, made payable to the Cayman Island Superyacht account.

Of course it wouldn’t be a true Boatblog ® without a gratuitous sunset…

Gratuitous Sunset

…and a selfie.

Waterfall Selfie

So we say a sad goodbye to our crew for now. But next week we are joined by Rory and Zoe for more adventures on the High Seas.

Yea mon.

 

Ju & Lyn

To Antigua and Beyond…

Hello Boatbloggers ® and welcome this year’s first edition,

When we last wrote, we were stuck in the Virgin Islands waiting for a decent weather window to get to Antigua. Well, the wind never did quite come from where we wanted it to, but we set off anyway, thinking that the rainbow was a good omen.

Rainbow 2

We decided to break the trip up with a stop at St Maarten. (I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but in case not, it was here that we came FIRST in the Heineken Regatta.)

A lot of other people had the same idea, including Steve Jobs. Well, probably not him personally seeing as how he’s dead, but nevertheless he parked his $100,000,000 superyacht next to ours. I expect he wanted to make a good impression.

IBoat

The iBoat.

Very nice, though to be honest, we though it just looked like a big iPhone 6. Apparently, to make it work you have to keep switching it on and off.

In case you didn’t know, St Maarten is split down the middle and is half dutch and half French. This time we spent more time on the French side of the island than the Dutch side. The food was better, but there were less tulips.

St Maarten

A VIEW FROM THE ESTAMINET

We couldn’t stay long. We had a flight to catch, so after just a few days we set sail again to Antigua. Once again we were beating all the way. You would think you’d get used to it. But you don’t…

We anchored up in Jolly Harbour, and it was here that we realised our transmission had gone. This meant we couldn’t motor forward, and had to go everywhere in reverse. As Ju thought, it was the drive cone and shifter that were knackered. These are relatively small parts costing a few hundred dollars. Unfortunately, being a boat, the only way to get at them is to take the boat out of the water, at enormous expense.

Photo

Once you’ve done that you then have to take the engine out, then the sail drive and finally you can begin work on what is otherwise a relatively simple job. But not one for Ju.

So we got Ivan at Extreme Marine to do it.

Ivan

 And that is how a $200 lump of metal no bigger than your fist ends up costing two thousand dollars to replace. No wonder Ivan is smiling.

Fellow cruisers – Ivan is brilliant. If you need a repair doing in Jolly Harbour, go and see this man!

While Ivan was busy mending our boat, we flew home for Christmas. We’d rented a cottage down in Devon, and had a week there with all the family.

Xmas

SANTA’S BEEN!

It was nice going for walks along the English beaches. Now I’m not one to criticise the Old Country, but…

ANTIGUA BEACH

Barbuda 2

DEVON BEACH

Devon Beach 1

There is a major sea pollution issue in Teignmouth, caused not as you would expect by oil spills and the like, but by something much more insidious…

Naughty Gulls 

Sadly we had to leave England, and head back to the Caribbean.(Aaaaah.) Unfortunately Domini was still out of the water, so we decided to go to Montserrat while Ivan carried on with the tricky stuff. We had passed it last year and anchored offshore, but had not been able to land because the anchorage was deep and not well protected. This time we decided to go by ferry, and stay at a place called Gingerbread Hill. It was delightful.

Montserat 4

ON THE VERANDA OF OUR VILLA AT “GINGERBREAD HILL.”

Montserrat was devastated a few years ago when the volcano erupted. That’s it you can see blowing out smoke behind us.

Volcano

It’s still active, and they won’t let you get too close.

No Entry

Though a bit of prosecution is probably the least of your worries if the volcano goes off.

This is all that is left of Plymouth, the capital city. It’s been buried under dust. It’s tragic when you see the photos of how it was before.

Capital  Plymouth

And this was one of the island’s famous luxury 5* hotels, The Montserrat Springs.

Luxury Hotel 1

Ju found this in one of the rooms.

Luxury Hotel 2

Dear Room Maintenance. There appears to be a volcano in my room.

The swimming pool was no longer so inviting.

Luxury Hotel 3

And this is all that is left of the George Martin’s legendary Air Studios, Montserrat.

Air Studios

This is where the likes of Sting, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and now Ju have recorded.

Julian Ronnie.LIVE at Air Studios Montserrat.mp3

It might be that Ju is now one of a very few select group of musicians who have recorded at all three Air Studios. He has recorded at Air on Oxford Street, Air Lyndhurst and now this. Not one to brag, but….

It’s a lovely island, with charming and it must be said, resilient people, and we were sorry to leave.

Montserat 8

Which we did on a plane as the ferries weren’t running.

A very small plane.

Plane 1

A Smart car of planes.

And so back to Antigua, where Domini was now back in the water.

Hermitage

And so were we…

Swimming

One way or another.

Kayak

Ju met with Gavin on Secret Smile, who is a fantastic jazz sax player, and they did a few gigs together.

Gig

Gavin used to be a Major in the British Army, so if the audience didn’t clap he could kill ’em. Of course it’s not all glamour.

Gig set up

One day we’ll have roadies.

But now we have to make our way south to Grenada, because James and Emma are coming out to visit us again. 

First stop Guadeloupe.

Which is tres Francais.

French Market

We could be in St Tropez.

Guadeloupe 1

We couldn’t stay too long, as we needed to move on to avoid a storm, and so here we are, back where our Caribbean adventure began in December 2015 – St Lucia.

Rodney Bay1

And this episode’s arty farty prize is a tie between Ju and Lyn. Bottle Bank and Rainbow.

Bottle Bank

 

Arty Rainbow

Yea Mon.

Later.

Ju & Lyn

2015 in review

Hello Boatblog® fans, and Happy New Year to you all!

Or should I say, Feliz Ano Novo!

Once a year The Boatblog stats helper monkeys prepare an “annual report” for this blog. We were pretty surprised to see that we had had about 3,700 visits last year, from over 93 countries. Mainly the UK, but followed closely by our fans in the US and Brazil!

We didn’t know we even knew anyone in Brazil.

But thank you and Obrigado for visiting.

Ju & Lyn

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 3,700 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Virgins Underwater

Hello again Boatblog® fans,

Welcome back to another exciting edition, this time coming to you live from Nanny Cay in the British Virgin Islands. To be honest, we hadn’t expected to be here for so long, but we have been waiting for a “weather window,” that would allow us to sail over to Antigua where we are catching our flights home for Christmas. Unfortunately, the wind has been pretty strong, and going in exactly the wrong direction, so we have been stranded here, forced against our will to while away long hours in beach bars supping cocktails.

Ju at The Bitter End

But it hasn’t all been idle time wasting . We attend self improvement classes in yoga…

Yoga

…and meditation.

Hammock

But fortunately, still manage to find time to go for lunch with friends.

The Hog In Heaven

At  Hog Heaven, with the Captain & Crew of Second Wind (Left to Right, Howard, Hope, Lyn, Ju and Ed). Not only are they justifiably famous for their barbecue ribs, there is a breathtaking view too.

View from The Hog In Heaven

The red arrow is pointing to Domini. And that’s Richard Branson’s place, Necker Island, in the top left corner. (Apparently they are called The Virgin Islands after his record company.)

But our thirst for adventure was growing, so we decided to go SCUBA diving. We dug out our PADI  diving licences, which have barely been used since we qualified…

Who is this boy?

Ju PADI

Check out these glasses…

Lyn PADI card

…and booked ourselves onto a dive boat.

At first we didn’t know our air supply from our elbows, but it wasn’t long before it all came flooding back, and soon we were jumping in with complete confidence…

Ju jumping

…even if the instructor did look a bit worried.

Next it was Lyn’s turn….

Lyn Jumping 2

It may look like she’s wearing a Santa hat, but that’s actually the dive flag.

Soon we were pulling ourselves down into the depths.

Roping Down.

We saw jellyfish…

Jellyfish 1

Stingrays…

Ray

Barracuda…

Barracuda Shoal

…and lunch.

Lobster for lunch

But most exciting of all…

We saw…

A….

Gigantic…

(Der, dum, der, dum…)

SHARK!!!

Shark  Ju

Now before you start panicking, this was the most friendly shark you could ever want to meet.

Shark 3

It’s a nurse shark, and apparently they don’t have much in the way of teeth. If ever Spielberg was going to do a movie sequel, he’d have to call it  “GUMS!”

Gums

It was quite happy just swimming around us.

Shark 1

A really amazing animal.

The coral is pretty too.

Coral 3

All too soon it was time to return to the surface.

Just have to get past the Giant Tarpon…

Giant Tarpon

…and the killer jellyfish.

Jellyfish 2

But everything was….

Divers Ju  Lyn OK

…O.K.

This edition’s arty farty prize goes to marine photographer Devin, who came down with us.

Arty Farty 1

Thanks to Kay and Ben at Sunchaser SCUBA who dived down with us, and reminded us how to do it.

That’s all for now Boatblog ® fans. We’ll get back to the exhausting work of waiting for the weather window.

Ju & Lyn

Diver Aces

X