Saturday, 13 December 2014

One year on.....

Today is the one year anniversary of our leaving Las Palmas and setting sail across the Caribbean ...where has the time gone? 

Highlights


Thinking about this there are quite a few but surely the most memorable must be making land in Antigua. The feeling when we finally tied up at the Customs Quay at Jolly Harbour was great after 19 days at sea. Everyone exhausted but very happy as we made land! We were so grateful to the bar owner opening up at 10.00 am to get us a celebratory drink!!


 The first trip South having been bobbing about in Antigua for four months ! The first sip of Leffe    beer at the bar in Deshaies ....delicious. Guadaloupe so very different to Antigua.


 A really good month in Grenada where I learnt to dive and we sold our dinghy and outboard to Darren for a prize in his Wednesday Bingo night! Bingo nights in Prickly Bay are a little different to the local Gala bingo in England ... Prizes have included a live pig and a goat ! We did buy a new outboard and dinghy by the way! 


 The trip down to the Guyanas was great despite the hard beat down to Guyana and beyond and the problems with water pump all the people we met and the places we saw and the experience of sailing down those Rivers was unforgettable. 

                                         It's BBQ time at Waterland Marina
 As the year has gone by John and I have got used to the laid back and friendly atmosphere of the place. Everyone always responds with 'morning, morning' when you say good morning and they mean it. The locals have always taken the time to explain the local food and menus and on that note The Taste of Trini was an experience I am so glad I undertook. Jesse is the irony of the friendly, happy Trini who just revels in sharing all that is good about Trinidad


We have also met and made so many new friends and yachties so willing to help at the drop of a hat. We have spent many sundowners sharing stories and laughs that lift your spirit no matter what sort of day you have had.


                            Grenadian Train Dominoes we are getting quite good at it now!
We have had some set backs too which is to be expected ....mainly around boat maintenance ....but that's boats for you ! But we are both looking forward to our next year and new experiences, happy times and challenges. Bring it on!

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Back to the sunshine

We arrived back in Tobago and decided to stay one night in a B and B before hopping on the short flight back to Trini and the boat. We stayed in a lovely place not far from the airport called Native Abode. It was a very friendly place and the breakfast was great...fresh fruit, a choice of mains, John had smoked herring ...it was yummy and I went for the more conservative option bacon and eggs which was also delicious. We found a small bar at the end of the road where we got a beer to celebrate our return. The other thing about Native Abode...the Internet was great and you could ring back to the UK free of charge. It also had satellite tv so we chose a film off of Netflix and settled in for the night with a bottle of wine. A good relaxing end to a tiring journey!

Back in Chagauramas


The next day we were met by Ian our taxi driver at Trinidad airport and were soon back on the boat. Everything seemed fine except the guy who was supposed to have cleaned and polished our hull while we were away had either done a rubbish job or had not bothered at all! We needed to investigate that a little further! Everything was just as we remembered it hot, sweaty and dusty! 

We had already made a list of jobs to be done before we splashed back in the water. We had lost a prop from our bow thruster which we would need to replace and somehow the anode on the prop had disappeared....both were obviously casualties of sailing in South American rivers but could have been worse. We met two more Nerieds Rally sailors soon after arriving back...Fred and Claude off Magic Swan.....they had a much longer list than us and had had to sail back from French Guiana with no auto pilot and no engine....our little jobs paled into insignificance by comparison!  
It was good to see our friends and fellow cruisers again...many had left to sail either North or West but there are still many like us with just one or two jobs to be completed before Christmas!
We had a new fridge waiting for us at Budget Marine which John has installed without too much hassle and the prop and anode are now firmly back in place. We have cleaned and polished the hull ourselves ....though I have to admit that John did most of the hard work whilst I took on a more supervisory role. Our plan was to shame the guy who was supposed to have done the job ....he told us the the black,smeared dirty hull that we came back to was the best he could do.....Give us a break! We were not born yesterday !! So he did not get paid the money we had retained we had already given him way too much for the garbage job he had done and he knew it so he did not argue.
                    One of our many jobs ....putting the sails back on!
The dilemma

The big question now is which way do we go ....? We had an inkling to go up to Cuba but getting back down to the ABC Islands could be a bit tricky wind wise. We do not have a US visa so Puerto Rico and US BVIs are out unless we mess around in the BVIs but it might be worth it. I think that we are going to poodle around the Leeward and Windward islands and then start to head west next May spending the next years hurricane season in the San Blas and Panama. Who knows ?? It could all change ..... Watch this space.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Travelling back to Trini

We left Suriname bound for Baganara back in Guyana and as we slipped our lines Ibegan to feel unwell. I could not keep my eyes open and rather ominously my right leg was starting to swell.By the time we had dropped the hook at the mouth of the Suriname River to wait for the right tide for enough water to get out I realised that I had been bitten and whatever it was my body did not like it! As a crew member I was as much use as a chocolate fire guard as all I wanted to do was sleep and in the meantime my leg was swelling up even more and turning a nice shade of purple. Dr.Fesel prescribed  amoxicillin , ibuprofen and anti histamine which we carry on board but I continued to burn up and once we arrived at Bartica and checked it it was off to find a doctor. We grabbed a cab only to find the driver was related to the doctor..it's a small world! After examining the leg and asking if I had bought what had bitten me with me ....I had no idea what it was but suspected a horse fly also known as cow flies in Guyana ...he asked what I had taken when John reeled off what he had prescribed he was very impressed and said 'just what I would have done' he gave me a prescription for stronger dosages and an injection and then the bill for sixty pounds which I could not begrudge him he was available,efficient and effective. When we finally got to Baganara John treated us to a couple of nights luxury as I had been told to stay off my feet and keep my right leg elevated. After a week chillin in Baganara it was time to leave and we travelled up the Essiquibo with Resolute fairly uneventfully until we came across a fishing boat that had laid his nets right across the river. As we slowly made our way towards him it became obvious if we were going to get around him at all we would have to follow the net to the boat and hope there was enough water to squeeze around him. We edged our way around and John shouted at him we needed10 feet (we only need seven feet but were erring on the side of caution ),he smiled said hello and told us 'there is more water over there', pointing at the bank. We did not take his advice and squeezed around him with a foot or so to spare!

                                  Eddie Grants house, two islands joined together by bridge and complete with gold dredging facility
Having travelled back from Guyana with a great sail til we reached the gap between Tobago and Trinidad when we lost the wind and had to turn Dorothy on...we still managed to return in two and a half days which we were pleased about. As we approached Trinidad we were stopped by the coastguard who seemed to have a lot of trainees on board. Firstly they asked us where we had come from....Guyana was our reply....'Where?' He asked puzzled.....he then asked John for his name trying to be helpful John started to spell out his surname ...'No' came the reply' just say it!'  Finally he sped off only to return to ask where we were from ignoring the red ensign flying serenely on the stern! 
                                                                      View from the Convent over the anchorage
We checked in without too much hassle and then left for some peace and quiet at anchor off Chacachacare our friends Colin and Gill joined us and though it can sometimes be a bit of a devil to get your anchor in we dropped the hook and after several attempts were satisfied we were going nowhere. We have a Manson Supreme anchor which we have been very happy this coupled with our anchor watch app has given us piece of mind that if we do drag we will know about it! We enjoyed three days peace and tranquility and when we came to leave our friends on Resolute were worried that they might have fouled their anchor so we told them we would wait until their anchor was up before we would leave. They lifted their anchor with no problems and were on their way ....we went to lift ours ......do you think we could get it up out the water ...no way. We drove forward, backwards, every technique in the book but only succeeded in bringing in the chain bit by bit and our Lofrans anchor winch was groaning under the strain. No matter what we tried the chain was straight and taught ...we were caught on something big! With 10metres of chain left we were resigning ourselves to the fact that we might have to get the hacksaw out, cut the chain and say goodbye to our expensive,but worth every penny, Manson Anchor! One last effort saw us bring the chain up so we could see the anchor in the water it had caught a chain and when I say chain I mean a huge mother of a chain! Lord knows how! The pointed end of the anchor had wedged itself into the chain and we had been dragging it around the Bay in our efforts to bring up the anchor! John put a rope through the anchor we dropped a bit of chain and with one almighty tug the huge chain was free and plummeting down to the sea bed from whence it came. It had taken us nearly an hour to get the chain up and we were now worried we were going to be late for our lift out. It was full speed ahead back to the pen at Powerboats for our lift. We need not have worried ....this is Trinidad and they were inevitably running late ... though in fairness this is also a very busy time for the travel lift with lots of boats splashing back into the water. We were coming out as we decided to go back to UK for three weeks, my mum was having her hip replaced and John was going to see his daughters and grandchildren. We feel the boat is safer out the water.
Vultures that hover ominously around Chacachcare

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Suriname re visited!

Suriname is a multi cultural country with a varied ethnic mix and this is obvious by the range of different restaurants in Paramaribo. With our water pump broken and having to wait for parts we had the opportunity to check out quite a few. David the rally organiser took us to a beautiful one called The Garden of Eden. It's a bit off the beaten track but worth a visit...like walking into someone's home. The food is Thai and you can see it being cooked ...there is a peaceful air to the place and we had an excellent night there. In contrast to this we hired a car and went over the bridge to New Amsterdam and the Fort there. We had been warned that there would be no where to have lunch but did not heed this advice. When we made it to the Fort (a fort in the loosest sense of the word!) we asked at the office who directed us to a Chinese take away a little way down the road . We managed to sit down with a beer and order and were presented with the most enormous potion of chicken and fried rice ....it would happily have fed four for lunch at the very reasonable price of 15SRD! We took at least half back to the boat with us ....supper sorted!While at Waterland Noel the owners ,wife celebrated her 50th,it was quite a celebration with a band,dancing girls and bubble machine and bouncy castle for the kids. It was a great afternoon!

Paramaribo is worth a good look ....the markets are excellent and there are different ethnic areas Javanese, Brazilian, Chinese and Indian influences can be seen. There are European supermarkets but the majority of supermarkets seem to be run by the Chinese.
It is also the only place I have been to where the Cathedral(wooden and well worth a look) is side by side with the synagogue and mosque.
There are also a lot of Casinos in Paramaribo , we were told over 50 and I can believe it! There seemed to be three or four in every street in the centre of Paramaribo.
We liked Suriname a lot but it became obvious that our water pump was not going to arrive before we needed to leave so the question was what to do. We really did not want to miss the opportunity to go to see St.Laurent and all the celebrations at the end of the rally. We were lucky and managed to hitch a ride with another rally participant. St.Laurent is just over the other other side of the water to a town in Suriname called Albina. Pirogues ply back and forth across the water all the time so we decided to spend a few nights in a hotel in St.Laurent with the luxury of air con and then return to Orion via Albina.
The celebration in St.Laurent was great, bands came out to meet us and we were followed into Port by jet skis. The Mayor, or a representative for the Mayor,presented us with all sorts of goodies, rum,a beautiful bunch of flowers, a lovely book about rum making and other assorted nik naks. It was very generous of them and much appreciated by all. St.Laurent is not surprisingly very French!  There is a Super U hypermarket there which sent the Swiss contingent in the rally into ecstasies as they were able to buy decent cheese for fondue! There is also a very good market twice a week excellent produce on sale. However not having our boat there John and I were unable to take advantage of any of it! Shame. It is an interesting town and whilst the prison there makes pretty grim viewing it is a major tourist feature of the town. As you walk around the town areas of interest are well documented. It would be easy to walk past the tiny houses still occupied by families without giving it a second thought until a sign outside one tells you that these were originally houses for those leaving the prison and it was felt that one door and one window would suffice for their homes.

The first night there John and I were told about a classical violinist playing at one of the bars. We popped along for a look...he was very good and as we sat listening to him sipping our delicious Belgian beer a local came up to us and took us by surprise. 'I have just one question' he asked ' Why did you burn Joan of Arc?' Somewhat dumbfounded by this we of course protested our innocence! Only to have the violinist come over to us and tell to be quiet while he was playing!! You win some you lose some.....we apologised and carried on sipping our beer.
We enjoyed our few days in St Laurent and it seemed like the town was gearing up for the new marina there. The internet connection was in place and was ceremoniously turned on in front of crowds and the moorings should be in place in the coming months. There were already boats there when we arrived and I am sure more will come once the facilities are in place. All the yachties who were there that we spoke to had come up from South Africa and I think that this is the most likely route for many.
John and I made our way back to the boat in Suriname taking a pirogue for 4euros over the Maroni River to the other side. Albina is another world compared to St.Laurent. There were guys selling monkeys,parrots and budgies. These were all crowded into cages containing about 15/20 animals each cage. John considered buying the parrots and setting them free but decided that they would find there way back into the cages in a matter of hours. Our driver back to Waterland,Frank was an interesting guy who kept us entertained with interesting facts about Suriname for the two hour journey. We arrived back at the boat safe and sound with the news that our parts would be arriving on Thursday....and they did. John was up early on Friday to fit the part... fingers crossed it was the right one and it was !!
We are back in business and our plan is to move out as soon as possible.
My thoughts on the rally are mixed. In the main I really enjoyed it. It is not for the inexperienced sailor and the tides and currents need to be taken into consideration. It is also not for those who want to swim in blue water. We were in Rivers, the water was fresh and you could swim but you needed to be wary of the currents that could run as fast as 2/3 knots! I don't think it is ever going to have enormous numbers participating and that is the way the organisers want it I think. It will evolve as long as those involved are flexible and understanding of the needs of everyone. The docking issues in Suriname need to be sorted and I know this year promises were made and not kept but if all else fails those participating in the rally could always pop in if they are the way North to the Caribbean.All three countries are fascinating in different ways which is what makes it so different and thoroughly enjoyable!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Suriname and close encounters of the barge kind!

Having spent an excellent week in Guyana we celebrated our last night there with a BBQ and enjoyed the hospitality of the staff at the Hurakabra  Resort before leaving the following day. John ramped up the speakers and played 'Time to say goodbye' by Andrea  Bocelli  and we left to go down the River to anchor off Roden Rust and wait for the tide. There were two things we had to look for very carefully, fishing nets and the depth . It got very shallow at times and a careful eye was needed on our forward seeking depth sounder. We had plotted the waypoints that we had been given carefully but negotiating through what seemed like endless rows of sticks was a challenge but we made it through to the mouth of the River . The depths were shallow outside the river and we had to motor some 20 odd miles just to reach the 15-20 metre line. It was more of the same ....beating against the wind with the current sometimes as strong as 2 knots but after about 48 hours we reached the mouth of the Suriname River just in time for the right tide. This River is well buoyed  so it was a little easier to navigate than the Essiquibo but we did have just one minor glitch ....the overheating warning alarm went off  when we were in the middle of one of the channels. It was anchor down, engine off and Main down all in the space of  less than two minutes. John had been monitoring what we thought was a slight water leak all the way down but it appeared that this had suddenly got very much worse causing us to overheat. Engine cover off we filled up with hot water so as not to crack the block and we were back on our way but I was monitoring the water temp gauge like a hawk. We did not have much further to go so were able to anchor outside the ToraRica  hotel with no more problems. A closer inspection of the problem when the engine had cooled down revealed that our fresh water pump was now leaking like a sieve. Now we carry spares of just about every part connected to Dorothy, our  Perkins 4154 engine as it is no longer being supported, but......one of the few spares we did not have was....yes you've guessed.....the fresh water pump! We had to seriously consider what we were going to do.
                      Paramaribo from the bridge- the lump in the middle is a sunken German boat


In the meantime there were other considerations, like how to get ashore ...! The ToraRica had a jetty with a day boat tied to it. I have to say it was in poor repair and getting ashore involved climbing over the day boat, up the side of  the jetty and then over the gate to the hotel which for some reason they felt the need to lock. The hotel were really not helpful at all though they did seem to turn a blind eye to yachties clambering around their jetty it would have been nice if they could have at least unlocked the gate. It seemed like really they just did not want us there. David the rally organiser had to endure a number of broken promises as to what would be available when we got there but people smiled ,were friendly and in the main apologetic. However, the situation was far from ideal.
However, there was an incident in the middle of the first night anchored that was unnerving and was an example of how sometimes as a yacht stuff happens over which you have no control. John and I were woken up by a call from another yacht who were being pushed along into another of the yachts by a sand barge that was not under command or engine and was floating up river with the tide. It was fortunate in many ways that the anchor of the first boat hit was dragged by the 80ft sand barge otherwise it could have sustained some serious damage but to me by far the more worrying action was that eventually the engines started on the barge it pulled away and disappeared into the night! That was both negligent, outrageous and completely out of order! As it was no one was hurt or injured but the sand barge could not have known this and the enquiry that followed by the authorities could not identify the barge. They all look the same! The incident really unnerved two of the yachts whose first instincts were to want to go back to Trinidad. This would have been a great shame ..... We had a duff water pump and needed to source a replacement and fit it before we could continue on  so the suggestion was made that we help crew one of the yachts up river to Waterland Marina where they could chill for a couple of days before moving onto French Guiana. John and I were happy to do this and then return to Parimaribo  to take in the sights  with the guys before going up river ourselves and sorting out the pump tied to a quay with power.. Vinesh from METS travel helped the guys check into Suriname which is a bit of a palarva! This solution enabled the yachts to take stock ,calm down and de stress.
One of the things that I have learnt over the few years I have lived aboard Orion is that sometimes things will happen that are completely out of your control and it might be difficult but you have to park it .....else you might just as well jack it in and stay at home in front of the TV! This was reinforced to me when a 6000 ton dredger wiped out 14 yachts on buoys in the Medway recently. That guy even had a pilot. Stuff can happen to anyone but if no one is hurt, no one is injured then the sooner you can get over it and enjoy your sailing again the better!
Waterland Marina is a tiny marina up river from Domburg, Noel who owns the place is very helpful and with a good internet connection we were able to source our pump from TransAtlanticDiesels in the US. Noel was able to help us with shipping it to Suriname but it was going to take a week or so. John and I needed to consider what we were going to do....... 

Thursday, 9 October 2014

More Guyana ..... then onto Suriname

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Guyana. The people were friendly, helpful and the Rally had lots of activities arranged for us to and an official welcome for us in which John was asked to speak on behalf of all the yachties which he was pleased to do as it seemed that for a short while we had become local celebrities! We were taken to see some of the local sights on a very fast water taxi which hit speeds of around 34 knots!

One of the spots we were taken to was Marshall Falls, which involved a short walk though the jungle then a dip in the Falls. Before reaching then the water taxi pounded its way though Marshall Rapids ....the only time we were advised to wear life jackets! They were not particularly large Falls but the water was very fast flowing....enough to give you a significant massage. As John and I sat under the Falls enjoying the water pounding away on our backs he said ' hope there are no floating logs up river!' It had never even crossed my mind and on closer inspection we noticed that there was a large log close to us that had obviously been making its way down river when it went over the Falls!




Along the Essequibo there are large dredgers that sweep the bottom of the river in search of Gold. Gold is a significant part of Guyana's economy and looking at the size of these Dredgers it's easy to see how the guys live on the dredger and just ply up and down parts of the river going ashore in Bartica for R&R!

We decided that we would treat ourselves to a trip to the Kaitieur Falls which involved a fifty minute plane ride which was fun. Alot more fun than the bus ride to get to the plane...I thought the roads in Bartica were bad but the roads out of Bartica were almost non existent and all of us got out the bus with bruises on our heads from bouncing up and down the Sandy tracks. The Kaitieur Falls were beautiful and unspoilt. One of the nicest things was being able to wander around and take in the scene without someone on your back warning you of the Health and Safety Regulations. It was such a pleasant change.We looked for the Golden frogs that are tiny fogs that live in one particular plant that line the path ways to the Falls...but no luck!


 The plane ran into a bit of bad weather on the way back and we smiled as we saw water drip down the insides of the small nine seater plane!However, we landed with no problems at Baganara a really nice anchorage which I think we will re visit on our way back to Trinidad. 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Guyana

We knew the trip to Guyana would be a tough one first we would have to motor our way East along the Trinidad coast towards Tobago. That went to plan and when we cleared the Trinidad coast. We continued East some thirty miles before turning South. It soon became apparent that the South Equatorial current was going to have a significant effect on our headway. This current is caused by the flow of the Amazon,Essequibo and the Orinoco rivers and at times it produced a three knot current against us. So while we were making six and a half knots through the water our speed over the ground was a mere three and a half knots! With south east winds when we tacked the course over the ground became anywhere between 0 and 10 degrees. We finally reached the mouth of the Essequibo three and a half days after leaving Trinidad and as it was the middle of the night and the tide was against us we dropped the hook and tried to get some sleep in preparation for the trip up the river. I say tried because the anchorage was very rolly and just before dawn a squall went through that produced 50 knots of wind and driving rain. In the soft mud river bed we started to drag but were in no danger as over on the Western Channel of the river there were no fishing nets and the depth was good. A fisherman came on the VHF to ask if we were ok but by that time we had dug in again and calm was restored.
                                                                    Squall on the way!
We started up the river on a rising tide and we were just feeling pleased with ourselves for negotiating over the bar with depths no lower than 3 metres when I noticed something in the water...just a plastic bottle we thought. I looked closer to see very low in the water some coconuts, as we approached it was a case of slam it into reverse and I could see a row of coconuts, low in the water, right across the channel....fishing nets! We slowly followed the line of coconuts around, eyes firmly fixed on the depth gauge and we successfully made it to the end of the net with no damage to nets or boat! As we edged up the river a voice came over the VHF thanking us for not damaging his nets. Nets are a bit of a hazard in the River as they are not always visible until you are almost on top of them and the coconuts are very low in the water. The colour of the water is very brown as the River obviously carries a tremendous amount of mud, sand and silt. Its a bit disconcerting the first time you pump water through the heads I can tell you!

The current is such that we were motoring at 1500rpm and doing 8 knots and we made good time eventually anchoring off Stampa Island for a wonderfully quiet nights sleep. It was like being on the hard again the boat was so still and with a full moon it was bliss.
Our quiet evening was soon disturbed by a fishing boat circling around the boat John went out to ask what the problem was and the fishermen were muttering something about compensation for broken nets. John politely but firmly told them we had not been near his nets which he admitted was the case and then he asked if we had a beer so John sent them on their way ...flea in their ear and with a couple of beers for their cheek. We later found out that most of the boats on the rally had given the fishermen a couple of beers,
so look upon it as a local tax!
On the way to Hurakabra we passed Two Brothers Island and a large mansion on the Island that belongs to Eddie Grant. John and I are old enough to remember his 70s hits.His mansion is distinguishable by the filtration station that is visible which is apparently panning for gold 24/7. Bartica is a gold mining town and it reminds me a bit of a wild west town... there are signs all over town saying 'gold bought here' and many locals spend alot of time panning for gold then trading it in. It is a very real town with water taxis plying in and out of the jetties. The locals were all very friendly and could not do enough for you. Not unsurprisingly there  quite a few Brazilians in the town and some signs are in Portuguese.
This is a very different experience to what we have had so far and we are both enjoying it!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Leaving Trini for pastures new

Having been in Trinidad for over five weeks working on boat maintenance we are finally ready to move on. There is a good community feel about Powerboats and this is typified by the Thursday evening pot luck sessions at the Roti Hut. Yachties from all over Chaguramas are invited and at times as many as forty plus would turn up to chat,socialise and barbecue. It was always a good night with the South Africans trying to teach us the finer points of using the barbecue! There are a lot of South Africans in Trinidad having sailed up the South American Coast it is a good place to haul out for the hurricane season before heading up the Islands or across to Panama.
We had said our goodbyes but as I was washing down the decks for the final time a couple of weeks ago I noticed that the chain plate on the stern was lifting....not good! John and I made the decision postpone our splash into the water and get it sorted. It would be silly not to. We employed a boat builder to chip away into the deck which was wet under the grp and we had a much bigger plate made to hold the back stay firmly in place. We managed to get all the work done in just over a week which I doubt we would have managed anywhere else around the Islands. Son, our grp man did a very good job and all we need to do now is repaint that part of the deck again at some point.
We finally splashed into the water but not before a bit of drama. Orion was in the strops on the travel hoist which was making its way down to the pen. Brent who was driving the travel hoist was then obstructed by a SUV that was parked in our way. Asking around no one owned up to claiming the car so he instructed the 'lads' to get the hydraulic boat lift and proceeded to drag the car out the way and deposit it clear of the travel hoist and out of our way. 'Had no right parking there ...this is a working yard' he rationalised and I suspect the car belonged to a fisherman who had left it there for the day while he went fishing. If he ever got the car going when he got back, I suspect he won't do that again!
Once in the water we went over to Scotland Bay, a quiet anchorage which is spoiled by the amount of flotsam,jetsom and general rubbish floating around. It is also close enough to Chaguaramas for the powerboats to come out there with their boom boxes on full blast and generally ruin the peace and tranquility.

We lasted one night before lifting anchor for Chacachacare, an abandoned island. A former leper colony it was finally abandoned in the 1980s and many of the houses look like they have just been left. It is a big Bay, big enough for all the boats that come along on day trips not to worry us too much. At night we had the Bay largely to ourselves.
Our five weeks on the hard gave us lots of time to plan where to next. There is a rally that leaves Trinidad on the 3rd of September for Guyana,Suriname and French Guyana ...John and I are not great lovers of rallies but this one is very small no more than 10 yachts are taking part, it's reasonable and so we figured we would give it a go. So on the 3rd we are out of here and on our way to Guyana and up the Essiquibo River.   

Monday, 11 August 2014

The Taste of Trini Tour

Whilst John was working away on the boat I decided to see a bit more of Trinidad and booked myself on the Taste of Trini Tour. This was a tour devised and led by Jesse James, a local who runs Members Only, a Maxi Taxi firm. He also helps to run the Cruisers Net in the mornings. He works very closely with the yachting community and is the Port Officer for the Ocean Cruising Club....any queries you ask Jesse and he will try to sort it.The tour takes you over to the Atlantic side of Trini then back up through the middle to the west .As you travel Jesse stops at local street vendors buying local delicacies and drinks so you can really capture the 'Taste of Trini'. The cuisine is very much a fusion of Eastern Indian and Carib which results in a unique Trini flavour in most cases. We left Powerboats at 9 o clock in the morning to return nearly twelve hours later stuffed with food and with our taste buds on sensory overload having tasted 78 different foods and drinks. This was not the record which stands at 95! I think we might of  come somewhere near this if some of the fruits had not been out of season but my stomach was telling me 78 was quite enough thank you! These were some of my favourites..

   Roast bake bread, garlic and tamarind hot sauce with salt fish ,smoke herring and Pakchoi

                                                                        Doubles
                                                      Barra and chana with hot pepper sauce.

                                  There is no special way to eat a double  ....it's messy but delicious! 
                                          Both these two dishes were part of our breakfast !

After travelling over to the eastern side we stopped for lunch at Manzanilla Beach. The red flags were up on the beach so no swimming so the twenty or so lifeguards who were dotted up and down the beach had nothing to do....but watch the Atlantic rollers break.

Jesse laid out our tasters for lunch ......Acra,curried potato,dhal purri,two different types of roti,fried shark,rice and three different drinks, Mauby drink, Peanut punch and Linseed and SeaMoss drink which tasted like Tapioca...not a particular favourite. I did like the Mauby which comes from the bark of a tree and has a slight licorice flavour

Whilst we were there Jesse made a pineapple chow for later consumption. This was chopped pineapple, salt, pepper, lime juice,chilli and Callaloo. I have got to say it was delicious! Something I will definitely try at home!
As we drove along the beach we came to where the River meets the Atlantic and there was an amazing swamp area.
                                                                                         The Navira Swamp

We turned inland and up into the Teak plantations and all along the side of the road people were selling their wares. This is a fertile area and outside many homes there were stalls set out with fresh produce at ridiculously cheap prices....two pounds of tomatoes 60p equivalent is just one example. Some were also selling fish and land crabs.

                                                 You can just see the land crabs tied together to the left of the shark
Trinidad is starting to grow more Cocoa and Jesse took us past a plantation where he picked a couple of pods for us to look at and taste. After cracking the pod open you suck the pods which actually tasted a lot better than I thought they would!

                                                             These cocoa pods are just not quite ripe enough yet!

Back in England I have tried to grow these air plants with very little success. I think that the atmosphere is too dry and not humid enough because they grow on trees here!




I thoroughly enjoyed my outing and this is a trip I would recommend, you have to pace yourself and really only taste the food put in front of you. Jesse makes it a fun day and he seems to enjoy it as much as us.He is a mind of information and obviously a Trini through and through! My five favourite tastes were:
Akra
Mauby Drink
Smoked Herring on roast bake bread
Doubles
Roast bagan choka

I really wasn't that taken with the Cow Heel soup or the BBQ pigtail but I would not have missed the opportunity to taste them.











Friday, 8 August 2014

The hired hand


John has been getting help from our friend George whilst working in the yard .....remind you of anyone?

He's called Dave actually! And he has a boat called Simple Life in the yard.

The Coppercoat saga

Some time ago now(six years)we put Coppercoat on our hull. This has been very good and now we are out of the water we figured that we would need to buy some more just to touch up a few bits here and there. John contacted Coppercoat US and the guy in Florida was very helpful and we ordered 4 units to be shipped over here to Trinidad. As Coppercoat is deemed hazardous cargo it could not go air freight but was put in a container which left Miami at the beginning of July. Soon after we were lifted, we got a call from Tropical Shipping  saying the container had arrived in Trinidad and could John go to the office in Port of Spain to complete the paperwork. So far so good we thought! So John paid the office their admin fee and then went to get the Bill of Lading signed by customs here in Chagauramas and we were told that the goods would be ready to collect in a few days. We arranged to hire a car and set off to the customs depot for collection .....it took us about two hours to find the place and get past the guards on the door ... Only to be told that the container our shipment was in, had not yet been 'unstuffed' and to come back later that week ! We decided to wait until the following week to attempt the process again .... And this time we had an e mail from Tropical telling us to go to customs and collect our shipment!
So we hired another hire car from Econocars or rent a wreck as we called them....no problems with the car hire company they supplied us with a car at a very good price though these cars have seen better years .....loads of miles on the clock but the air con worked and it started no probs. however on a shopping trip prior to our customs trip the back bumper fell off .....but we are yachties, ..are we scared ...?? We taped it back up with duct tape and off we went!
The next day we set off very early to get to customs as early as possible ....making good time when we hear a familiar sound ....the bumper trailing on the road. Unfortunately we had forgotten to put the spare tape in the car and so John thumped the existing tape back hoping it would last....No chance!!
We pulled over and as we did so the uneven road managed to dislodge the entire back bumper. We had no option but to squeeze the bumper into the car and continue to the Customs Depot bumper less!
On arriving at the Customs pick up we sat ourselves down in the Hospitality room and waited... Some    hour later John heard his name called, he queued up in a line to talk to a faceless voice through a counter with only a small half moon cut out at the bottom that asked him for 96 dollars 56 cents and the sign said you must pay the exact amount ...John signed paid and told the girl no change required...we never really found out what that was for ....using the hospitality suite?
John took his seat back in the hospitality suite and waited.....another hour later his name was called again...this time surely we would pick up our parcel ! John was asked to identify his parcel and the parcel was opened and the contents examined....yes ...this was our Coppercoat . So what next ,John waited to be told but nothing....a nice man asked him if he wanted to have the parcel resealed which he agreed to and fortunately the guy doing the resealing told him what to do next ....go and sit back down in the hospitality suite!
Another long wait when a customs  officer came out to ask him how much the goods were worth despite John having shown him the receipt and then some time later John got the call again ....this time to line up and pay 10 TT dollars for the declaration that there was nothing to declare .... For this John had to sign three separate sheets and then go over to yet another window where the woman told him there was a problem ...she disappeared only to come back again saying all was ok !! Finally John walked away with the Coppercoat  some four hours after walking in but not before signing another two sheets of paper to allow him out of the compound into the car park
The moral of this story ....doesn't matter if it costs more .....pay an agent to sort out customs!
I should add on the way back to the boat we dropped by at Econocars to change the car ....on arriving the girl at the office said ' oh you are the guys with the slack bumper?!'  ...yes so slack it's not attached was the reply!  They happily exchanged the car for another ....only for the front bumper of that particular car to fall loose the next day on the way to the supermarket!! That said at £20 a day including CDW they are still good value!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Trinidad

We have now moved onto Trinidad to get hauled out and do some hopefully routine maintenance! We left Prickly Bay at around four in the afternoon which we hoped would mean that we arrived at Chaguramas early morning. This meant that we sailed through the night when less likely to catch the attention of any Venuzalian pirates and we would go through the Bocas del Manos in day light so we could see the effect of the tide and current more easily. We managed to sail for four to five hours and then the wind disappeared and we were left to motor for the rest of the journey. The passage through the Bocas del Manos was interesting you could see the current and tide clashing ,whipping up the sea and slowing us down to under two knots. Once your out the other side.... no problem. The currents and tides around Trinidad are weird...John tried to find out as much as he could before we left but all the information we got together seemed to be contradictory....one said something another the exact opposite. Our friends came through the Bocas ....no wind with the current giving them a two knot push!
                                                     Damp humid day in the yard!


We tied up at the customs quay and made our way to immigration ....chap was very friendly but everything has to be carbon copied in triplicate! We met a guy in the office who we later discovered was our neighbour on the slip at Powerboats who told us we needed to make seven copies of another form. We looked at him in disbelief ...surely not! We went up to the desk with just one copy and no problem! When we later took the copy to customs the customs officer enquired ' where's you copies?' Acting dumb he took pity on us and photocopied the required number! When Mike our neighbour asked us how we got on and we told him we only needed one copy we explained it by saying 'ex colony ...so we get preferential treatment! ' or rather just lucky!!

                                                  Orion with a nice clean bottom!


We came out the water the next day ...no problems and we were pleased to see all the growth on the hull just drop of with a light scape ...we would need to touch up a couple of spots but no other difficulties. Yippee!
Powerboats seems to be a well run yard and we were put next to the Roti Hut where lots of the workers come to get their breakfast and lunch and very tasty it is too! So now it's a couple of weeks hard work in the heat and humidity before setting off for the ABC islands.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Prickly Bay Grenada

One of the things that is very noticeable in the Caribbean is that the amount of growth on the hull/prop is just unbelievable. It was particularly bad in Antigua where we had to scrub the anchor chain at least twice as in no time it developed a beard and became a breeding ground for crabs and tiny crustaceans. We have not been out of the water for 15 months so we are intrigued to find out how the Coppercoat is holding out. We are sailing from Grenada to Trinidad to haul out in Powerboats we will do some other general maintenance jobs while we are there!
One of the reasons why I decided to do a dive course was so I could scrub the hull and prop. I signed up on the Open Water Touch course that enabled me to do the theory at my leisure having downloaded all the info onto my I pad. This was much easier for me than trying to do it online when we had an internet connection. I signed on to do the practical part of the course with Scubatech in Prickly Bay. As it is out of season here I was lucky enough to get virtually 1:1 tuition from Frederique my diving in diving instructor who showed infinite patience ...but I am now certified and looking forward to some more diving soon!

John and I also had a good time at a drumming class ...our friends Richard and Kay persuaded us to go and we are glad we did ...in the words of the instructor Monty... 'Mon we gonna mash it up proper!' I think I'm getting the hang of this dialect now!
I think I have mentioned that John is very partial to a dark and stormy ....this is rum and ginger beer. However we have had some difficulty locating ginger beer since leaving Antigua. Are we going to let this get us down ....Noooo! John has taken to making his own and very good it is too...we are now adding a little chilly to give it an extra kick!

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Grenada

We have been in Prickly Bay for nearly three weeks. Whilst the Bay is a bit rolly we have anchored over on the East just outside the marina and it has not been too bad. It has been an eventful few weeks. There is an active social scene here and a very effective Net which transmits on VHF channel 66 six days a week at 07.30 . This gives our a lot of very useful information about what is going on and you can ask about any parts and services that you might require. It provides a good introduction to Grenada.
John and I have got into Grenadian Train Dominoes and play a couple of times a week over a beer. I know a lot of it is luck but I have to say I have consistently found myself at the bottom of the pile every game! They also have a Trivia night which has helped us to keep the grey matter active! Whilst I have been here I have been taking a diving course. I have not found it easy and have struggled with my neutral buoyancy being a swimmer I like to splash about but this is a no no when diving but I have got better and my diving instructor at ScubaTech has shown infinite patience with me. It is not easy to take up something like this when you are knocking on for sixty but I will persevere .
Every Friday night in the North of the Island in Gouyave they have what is called a fish Friday. The streets are opened up with lots of street vendors selling all types of fish dishes. There was a steel band and some drummers playing and the atmosphere was great. In Gouyave there are also a number of rum shops where the locals drink and you can share a bottle of rum with friends for 20ec just over 4 pounds ... Good value and needless to say John loved the place!
They also have a Hash every Saturday. The location is different every week and as Hash virgins John and I completed a course in the hills in St.Davids. It was not easy ...it had been raining and following the paper trail up very steep muddy hills through the rainforest was a challenge but with the prospect of a barbecue and three beers for ten ec when we finished the course....we managed ! There was a good mix of locals and yachties and and I would say that at least one hundred people took part, some running,some like us walking.
We have had one drama whilst on anchor here early one morning whilst listening to the Cruisers Net there was a call for help as a boat was sinking. John went over to help with a generator to run an electric pump when he got there he discovered that the boat in question was another Maramu. The boat had been left and a guy called Michael was looking after it. When John got there the boat was full of water and for those that know our boat the water was up to the third draw in the galley. The engine room was flooded and John was able to help guys locate the sea cocks. The boat, Mariposa,is hull 52, orion1 is hull 42 so everything about the boat is more or less the same. It seems that whilst the sea cock in the engine room appeared closed it had not closed properly and the raw water filter also had a crack in it so sea water had slowly been filling up the boat. The guys working on the boat managed to empty her of sea water and that afternoon she was towed into the yard to go onto the hard and await instructions from the new owner. The boat had just been sold .... The new owner will need to do a lot of work now..what a shock for the poor guy when he arrives!

Friday, 20 June 2014

The Grenadines

We decided to leave Soufriere at around midnight and sail directly to Bequia sailing past St.Vincent ...it's difficult St.Vincent has a pretty poor press regarding security and also the anchorages that you have to go in to check in are not that good so with that in mind we sailed straight to Bequia in the Grenadines.We arrived on Sunday and decided not to check in until Monday trying to avoid the overtime charges but that kind of back fired on us as the Monday was a public holiday! Bequia has lots of street traders where you can get local fruit and veg and a couple of supermarkets. The people are very friendly and helpful. Now it is out of season it is quiet.
The wind did blow all the time we were there making the anchorage a bit rolly. We have an anchor watch app that we use when at anchor in these conditions that tells us if we are dragging anchor with some nice loud music so that John can hear it as well as me! We met Jo and Stewart on Seabreeze who told us of their experience in Mindelo, the Cape Verdes, where the local ferry reversed into them and dis masted them they were there for 11 months getting it fixed. Made our difficulties with the mast step seem like small fry! Jo has a lovely house in Bequia and invited us for lunch... The view was great and we had a good time. We hope to bump into Jo and Stewart further down the line as they are doing the same as us but have now been delayed by the London Passport Office who have taken over three months renewing Stewarts passport and still no sign! An even longer wait than us for our cards.
We left Bequia after a few days and anchored in Saline Bay having tried to anchor in Salt Whistle Bay but deciding against it as the wind was blowing agin making it rolly and when you are surrounded by reefs it can be a little disconcerting even though you're sure the anchor is well in. But we did buy two super fresh red snapper from a local fisherman who scaled and gutted them as well all for a fiver ... That was dinner sorted!



It had been our intention to move on from Saline Bay to Tobago Cays but the wind was blowing hard on the nose and we decided that we would leave that until next year and move onto Union Island where we could check out of St Vincent. The anchorage in Union Island is stunning but a bit scary with a horseshoe reef in the middle and reefs either side. Our forward seeking depth sounder is coming into its own here and I would not be without it!

 Union Island seemed a good place we had lunch at a place called Big Citi two jerk chicken and mango salads plus four beers for £16 you can't complain about that and the food was delicious! The only down side was when we arrived there was a German talking very loudly into his phone and when we left over an hour later he was still bellowing into it! John being John could not resist and went over to him as we left and asked him to talk a little louder as people below the restaurant could not hear him..... The girls serving sniggered trying hard not to laugh they knew exactly what John meant! Some people just have no idea how inconsiderate they are!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

St.Lucia

We had a good sail to Saint Lucia. In fact we sailed all the way in to Rodney Bay Harbour a very wide anchorage which was surprisingly free of boats. Put the yellow flag up and decided we would wait till morning to check it. John went into customs the next morning,it was blowing quite hard again and by the time he got onto dry land in the marina he was soaked. Our small dinghy has no keel and in any sort of wind it is a bugger to steer....John had a few attempts to get anywhere close to the dinghy dock and those having a morning coffee in one of the cafés were treated to some early morning entertainment! At customs John was behind a local who was having a conversation with the customs officer about the mango season. ' it's not like the old times' he said 'when your mum would purge you before the season with senna and then again at the end of season as well!' The customs guy smiled at John and said ...' We don't do that now' Phew that's a relief!!
Back at the boat we met Gregory the local fruit and veg man who visits the boats in his boat which is like nothing you've ever seen before! It is stuffed full of fruit and veg and the roof has branches of trees that promise protection from the sun. It is so low in the water I thought he was bound to sink! I gave Gregory a list of what I wanted the following day and he was there efficient and effective!
We stayed at Rodney Bay for a few days it is a big wide anchorage but the place itself is all centred around the marina and a few all inclusive hotels ...lacking in a bit of character. When we were coming into the Bay we heard a conversation between a boat .. Nightwatch .. and what sounded like the coastguard. They had lost power as the alternator had broken and could not sail as they had managed to pick up a net around the prop. We were three hours out at the time and too far away to offer assistance but we told those on board that we would monitor them and if they needed help when we got there we would offer it. We were the only ones that did and whilst Ralph and Mary on board Nightwatch managed to cut free the net and sail in it was disappointing that no one else offered them help.
We caught up with them  the next day and took them for a beer. They managed to sort out their problems and were very grateful for our offer of help. I would like to think that if we needed help other yachties would help .
 

                                            Gregory the fruit and veg man

We sailed onto the Pitons after four days in Rodney Bay. These are very impressive rocks that tower over the anchorage in Soufriere. It is a marine park and so you have to pick up a mooring buoy. Inevitably a boat boy came out to meet us and assist and he originally took us over to the side of the Bay where the bat caves are. It is quite secluded and you are very close to the shore we asked him to take us over the other side of the Bay closer to the Pitons. Both John and I were a little apprehensive about security in Soufriere the moorings are monitored by the SMMA and if you have any problems you are meant to  call them up on Channel 16 but I have my doubts.
We asked Claude the boat boy to take us ashore the next to save us taking the dinghy and we had a good meal at the Hummingbird Restaurant on the beach. The people in the village seemed friendly enough and slowly I began to feel more at ease but we decided to sail overnight to Bequia and let slip our lines at midnight that evening.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Dominica

We arrived in Prince Rupert Bay in the north of Dominica. It's a big Bay that is littered by buoys that are monitored by PAYS (Portsmouth Association of Yacht Security) they look after the buoys and your dinghy as you go ashore. Very helpful guys. We were met by Albert who told us about the trips that were available up the Indian River this is something that we will definitely do next year when we return. We dropped anchor outside The Purple Turtle a bar run by a delightful lady ...Patrica. She introduced us to Kubuli the local beer which she told us was brewed with spring water. Not sure if she was swinging us a yarn or not but it tasted ok!
As we dropped anchor an American popped up from his cockpit and with a face that resembled a bulldog who had swallowed a wasp told me  ( I was on anchor drop) we swing 360 degrees here you know keep away ..... We were miles away but moved away even further ... Some people just don't know how to enjoy themselves!
We walked to the other side of town to check in ...no problems there and you are able to clear out at the same time if staying for less than a fortnight.
We moved on Roseau in the South the next day where we were met by Pancho. He helped us with our mooring and also gave us a lift ashore in the evening. We went for a meal in a little restaurant on the sea front where the owner Decima gave a varied menu of chicken,chicken or chicken .... We opted for chicken. While we were there John happened to notice that there were a group of guys at the bar drinking Guiness...He was asking them about it and they were from the Kubuli brewery where they also brewed Guiness under license. They were really friendly guys who bought us a drink to show us just how good it is. John did reciprocate and got chatting to them about proper Guiness .... Our friend Sean from Ireland would have loved it


We loved the little bit of Dominica we did see it is a very green island with 365 rivers one for every day of the year apparently.the tropical rainforest looked like something from Jurrasic Park. We will be back.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Guadaloupe

Now everyone who knows John will know that at times he can display a touch of Francophobia....so it was with some trepidation that we sailed into Deshaises in Guadaloupe ! We had a good sail and it was good to get back on the water. We dropped anchor in the Bay and blew up our little dinghy that we use as a spare. We bought this in Rubicon,Lanzarote as it was very good value small enough to fit on our stern and it meant in the event of something 'happening' to the Portabote we would not be stranded afloat. It does seem weird to drive though compared to the Portabote and seems to have a mind of its own. We wandered ashore to find the customs computer which was at the back of shop called the Pelican. It was fairly easy and straight forward after all it should be as Guadaloupe is part of France. We then picked a bar to have a beer... It was here I noticed the first difference the lady who came to serve me ...there was no smile ... No 'how ya doing?' Just a loud tut as she told me if I was only drinking I would have to stay inside. Welcome to Guadaloupe! However I persevered and the waiter came along to serve John and I with our second drink, a very tasty Belgian beer ...Leffe. He had a big smile on his face a big difference! He was even smiling when he gave us a bill €29 for three not quite full pints. Ouch!

We were hoping for a quiet night at anchor ...this was not to be as it blew hard that night and the boat was rolling quite a bit so early the next morning we set sail for the Saintes. It was another excellent sail and we sailed in to Terrestrial de Haut in the Saintes and picked up a bouy without any trouble. We decided to stay for a couple of nights and went ashore in the dinghy and found a nice little bar that also sold Leffe beer and but did very good food as well. Finding the Customs computer was not quite as easy as the Chris Doyle guide was slightly out of date and the computer have now moved to the cybercafe up the stairs down the street from the Marie. We had hoped for a quiet night again but unfortunately the bouy we picked up had other ideas .....banging against the side of the boat waking us both up but John got out of bed to sort it out ... well done John!
So after two nights of limited sleep we were both a little jaded as we set sail for Dominica...not a long sail but long enough.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

It's not all relaxation and fun!

This past month has been very frustrating!! We were ready to leave when our friends left but the day before they did I discovered that someone had been trying to access my bank account. The bank alerted me and I was able to ensure my account was not emptied but they cancelled my debit card... What an inconvenience ! John wanted to check his account but found that his card reader would not recognise his card and blocked him out of his account! Even more of a ballache! Both banks refused to send cards out here so our friends said that they would courier them here when the replacement cards arrived. This turned into a major hassle and DHL completely screwed up and the cards arrived back in Port Sunlight 6 days later..... We decided that we would go for international express post from Royal Mail, they would be tracked and signed for... Well it has now been two weeks and still no sign so enough is enough....John and I are leaving on Friday with or without the cards. If they don't arrive then we will cancel both re order them and leave them waiting for someone to come out or for one of us to go back!
PostScript:talking to the marina they suggested we go to the Post Office in St.Johns to see if the letter was there.John hopped onto a bus and got himself to the Post Office. The woman behind the desk after lots of deliberation told him yes the letter was there but she said' why hasn't it been delivered to the address on the envelope?' Well we were kind of wondering that to!!! Fifteen minutes later John finally walked out of the Post Office cards in hands....Whooppee we are on our way!
John then got a stinker of a cold which he gave to me and to cap it all we have found the source of a fresh water leak that has been puzzling us for sometime. So John is the grease monkey again taking off the oil filter and trying to get a repair to the cover to the cylinder head rear end. We think that Carl at the boatyard here is able to weld a fix so hopefully it should not stop us leaving!
We are heading South as indeed are most people who are staying out here for the hurricane season. It has surprised me how many yachts haul out for the hurricane season here in Antigua. The yard in Jolly Harbour is teaming with boats.
We plan to haul out for a month in Trindad and replace anodes ,sort out the bottom and perhaps get one or two jobs done. We have installed a Bad Boy - full metal jacket - unleashed which has been great it means we can access wi if and indeed our neighbours have been using the internet from the hotspot we have created. It has saved us money as inevitably we used to have to wander to a local bar  to get the internet ... While we were there we had to have drink it would have been rude not to!


Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Finally Orion is a ketch again!



Our mast has finally been fitted and we are no longer a sloop but a ketch again. We have waited ten weeks for this day and I have to admit I was beginning to think that the day would never come! Our friends from back in the UK are now over for a couple of weeks and we have been taking them to see a few of the sights.
We took Sue and Gig to Shirley Heights a must for any visitors if they like to party and there is also a great view over Falmouth and English Harbour at sunset.


Sunday, 6 April 2014

Nearly there!

We now have a mast step ... Yippee .. But just as we were getting excited about the mast going on Stan from Antigua Rigging mails us to tell us that the starter motor on the crane has burnt out! It is a 24 v starter motor and there is not another one on the island ... One is being sent over from Miami but it will be Wednesday before it arrives so guess we have to wait a little longer. However the end is neigh!
We have been here so long that we have had to renew our visas which lasted for 3 months. No problem for me I went home for a couple of weeks to see my mum who is struggling with her legs at the moment. John went to immigration at English Harbour who told him to come back in April ... He did on the 2nd when our visa expired and they told him to go to St. John's ! Frustrating but we hired a car and off we tootled having to find a passport photo of John to take with us. We hired a car which is cheaper than a taxi and managed to locate the immigration office with the help of a friendly post woman. I left john to it but was surprised when he phoned me a couple of minutes later to tell me that they would not process him as he was wearing shorts?! So off we sped to buy a pair of long pants!! Having been separated from 75ec for the purchase John went on his way back to immigration I was not allowed in as I had the audacity to wear shorts! We were not going to waste any more cash on a pair of long pants for me! I wandered around St. John's for a couple of hours before John caught up to me at Napoleons. He guessed I would be there as we had been there before and it was not so much of a rip off. We have made the mistake of going to a place called Cheers before and that was definitely cruise liner prices !
Anyway getting there and we have our friends Sue and Gig arriving next weekend so should be fun!,

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Somewhere to eat and drink

As we are nearly Antiguan citizens we have been here so long! I thought I would give anyone who might be considering a holiday out here our thoughts on places we have frequented since we have been here.
Around Jolly Harbour
The Crows Nest
The staff  are very friendly and helpful. There is wi fi but it can be slow as there are always a lot of people using it. They have a happy hour between four and six when you can buy a bucket (5 beers) of Carib beer for 25ec though the bottle openers they provide can sometimes be a challenge! The food is good with large portions and we often share one dish which is ample for us. They do excellent spicy chicken wings as a bar snack.
Mellini’s
We found the pizzas very disappointing considering it is an Italian restaurant but the specilas are better value and much tastier. They also have wi fi.
May Day
A new Hungarian restaurant which we have not tried but know several people who have and they have not been very complimentary.
Acroplis Greek Restaurant
The service was slow but the waiter was very friendly. The owners are actually Greek and the food was quite good but a bit on the pricey side. This might be because we have eaten so often in Greece!
Al Porto
This is over by the customs dock and looks out over the marina. It does a great 2 for 1 pizza deal on Tuesday. But you really have to book. Nice place.
Miracles
If you go out the Jolly Harbour complex and turn left you come to a red route master bus hiding behind that is a great little restaurant that serves good local food. Half a lobster served in one of five ways(you choose) costs 60ec. Very good value. Service can be a little slow but then no problems ... Don't worry be happy!!
English Harbour
The Copper and Lumber Hotel
A good setting but it is a shame that the ambiance is spoiled by slow service. They have Wadadli beer on draft but you need a drink while you wait for your drink! It can get very busy and that affects the speed of the service even more. We have waited an hour once for food. The food when it comes is good. Your bill comes in UD dollars.
Falmouth Harbour
Collins Place.
This is a local café that opens for lunch. It is a local menu and the Roti’s are delicious. I have also had the fish stew which is very good as is the pork. As you would expect the prices are good a linch for two with a beer each will set you back around 45 – 50 ec (about £10). It is a family run establishment Rashid serves while his mum does the cooking. It is located just outside Falmouth Harbour Marina.

Cap Horn
Ii enjoyed my meal here. Their speciality is hot stone cooking so the ingriedients are served to you along with a hot lava stone to gook them on and various side dishes to compliment. The meat was tender and the fish yummy. The service was good the waitress friendly and very helpful.
Catherines Café Plage
If you want to push the boat out for a special occasion then this is a lovely place to eat. They open every lunch time and on Wednesday and Friday evenings. It is a wonderful setting on Pigeon Beach and the service cannot be faulted. You are greeted with a smile everyone is happy and nothing is too much trouble. The food was delicious. It is not cheap but it is a great restaurant.
SeaBreeze
We have had a drink here once and will not be frequenting it again. The service was surly and to cap it all the waitress decided that she was keeping the change as a tip without bothering to offer it back to us. They do have wifi.
Skullduggery
A bar next to SeaBreeze. They serve Pannini and snacks whilst you go to the bar to get your drink the girls have a smile on their face! They have wifi.
The Mad Mongoose
A good bar. The service is good and they have Happy Hour between 4 and 7. They often have a special deal on beer but Junior the bar man during happy hour serves a good Dark and Stormy (rum and ginger beer) for 5ec(just over a pound!)They have bands playing some nights.
The Famous Mauro
I have mentioned this before. A very good pizza place. The pizza are excellent and Mauro prepares them and cooks them around the pizza oven which is on view for everyone to see.The chilli oil is dynamite but the waitresses will give you warning about this. The devil pizza is hot and spicy and the Romano has plenty of anchovies and capers. It is an authentic pizza establishment. Pizzas are good value, the wine is good and from Italy.
Pirates Pizza
This is run by an Italian and the quality of the pizzas is variable. If it is busy you might have to wait quite sometime for your pizza but they will warn you about the waiting time. The pizza base is how I like it nice and thin and one big pizza is more than enough for two people. It does not open until 6 in the evening.



Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Stir Crazy!!

So we are still floating around at anchor in Falmouth Harbour and starting to go a little stir crazy so we hired a car for a week to have a drive around the Island. There are around 85,000 people live in Antigua and it is not very big so driving was not that bad and they drive on the right side of the road for us ….. though to be honest the majority seem to drive in the middle!
John is having problems with tooth ache so we booked an appointment with a dentist in St. John’s the capital. The big cruise liners come in here and it is set up for this and Redcliffe Quay is full of tiny boutique type shops and cafes all dealing in US dollars and claiming to be duty free. I found it ok for a day out but I am glad we did not anchor there.


                                                        The view from the Boxer Shack

 On our travels going up to St. Johns we travelled along the coast and found a little bar/restaurant close to Morris Beach called the Boxer Shack which had a lovely view and we sat and watched the pelicans dive bombing into the sea for fish. They really take no prisoners diving into the sea like kamikaze pilots. I tried to get a picture of them but you can’t appreciate just how fast they go from the picture the splash is the pelican entering the water. We noticed the restaurant did Sunday lunch so we went back for the full Sunday lunch last Sunday just for a change. We have got quite into Caribbean food and a particular favourite is Roti. They are sort of like pancakes filled with chicken, vegetables or pork. They really are great for lunch and there is a little café in Falmouth called Colin’s Place where we have taken up residence!! I have had fish stew there also which was very good too. For some reason there are quite a lot of Italian restaurants too and we tried the Famous Mauro Pizza restaurant a really excellent pizza and dynamite chilli oil!  He has a proper pizza oven and cooks the pizza in front of you. I would recommend the place to any one going to Falmouth.
Just past St. Johns is Dickenson Bay and St. James Fort. We stopped off in the car and were surprised to see groups of tourists segwaying their way up the beach and odd sight! St James Fort is now sadly in need of renovation but the guns are still in very good condition with the inscriptions very clear. The beach at Dickenson Bay was very clean and crystal clear as well as warm the water temperature here is around 80 degrees Fahrenheit!

                                                 Another way of seeing the Island!!
I should also mention the mongoose which is found all around the island. They were introduced into Antigua to control the snake population. There are no snakes in Antigua now but there are a lot of mongooses which scurry around the place. I have to admit at first I thought they were rats till I took a closer look!  



The Wobbly Bob Rce took plce on Valentines Day teams had to make their own boat in two and a half hours we took our outboard over and ended up giving some guys a tow.... cheating was allowed and it looked good fun!!