Friday, December 26, 2008

Antiguan Christmas

English Harbour, Antigua
17 00.3'N 61 45.7'W

We arrived here on the 13th and have had a wonderful 2 weeks enjoying some of the many pleasures on the island. English Harbour and Falmouth Harbour are right next door to one another, two hurricane holes with deep water and as a result home to the British Fleet in the 17th & 18th Centuries a lot of history. Today there is tourism and super yachts, and given the credit crunch who knows what tomorrow will bring!

English Harbour is home to Nelson's Dockyard, for many years this helped Brittania rule the waves, the Navy could bring ships into harbour here, be protected by nature from the elements and by 3 forts from the filthy foreigners while they scrubbed, repaired and restocked the fleet.

A clean boat is a fast boat, and a fast boat used to win the battles. Nelson was commander of the dockyard for many years earlier in his career and pursued the Spaniards and French later on from this base. Astonishingly the Georgian ship yard was left to decay for 200 years before being "found" in the 1950's and restored by an English expat, today there is a museum, shops, restaurants and some yachting facilities among the old buildings.

Around the corner in Falmouth is where the super yachts congregate, millions if not billions of dollars worth were tied up there over Christmas and New Year, including Tom Perkins 250ft plus long Maltese Falcon, currently on the market for US$165m if anyone is feeling flush. She is a modern take on the clipper ships, the sails furl intot he mast and it is all computer controlled. We watched in amazement as the crew unfurled the sails and sailed off the dock at the yacht club and off down the channel that we had motored carefully down in Matsu a few days before!

Many other stunning yachts were there with their crews polishing and cleaning absolutely everything on board to make them gleam, not quite as glamorous a job as it appears from outside!

The main reason we had come to English Harbour was to celebrate Christmas, we had arranged with 5 other boats that we have known and cruised with for many months to tie up to the dock at Nelson's Dockyard and have the full turkey dinner.

The dockyard has a party of its own in the morning so as we cooked we walked around watching everyone dressed in their Christmas best and sipping champagne, even getting to face a couple of overs of hostile West Indian fast bowling.

Linda cooked a turkey, as did Donna from Magic, while Offline, A2C, Keesje II and Imagine brought all the trimmings - home made cranberry relish, roast potatoes, sprouts, stuffing etc etc possibly the biggest Christmas feast I have ever had all on tables under the trees in a 200 year old historic monument. The atmosphere, the cheap French wine and the great company made for an excellent day and night, lot's of laughter and food to be danced off.
Sadly we are all going different ways now with most of the boats heading for the USA while we stay in the islands, so it was also a farewell meal too - you spend a lot of time together while cruising and make great friendships very quickly, we are sad to see these boats go and send our best to you all for your future travels.

As well as our new cruising friends we got to spend some time with Sarah, Manfred and the kids who were holidaying in Antigua over Christmas. They joined us for fishing, snorkeling and maybe a couple of drinks, Lukie put me to shame by catching a fish in about 30 seconds after my recent disasters!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Joyeux Noel/Happy Christmas

Christmas video newsletter this year.

Have a wonderful Christmas and Happy 2009

Tim, Linda and Charlie

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Day Sailing North

English Harbour, Antigua
17 00.3'N 61 45.7'W

Mother Nature dictates our plans and once again listening to her brought great rewards. We had planned to spend a few days touring around Dominica and then a few days diving and snorkeling in beautiful Les Saintes in Guadeloupe but a weather window to head north with easterly wind and tamed seas was open to us so instead we took it and day sailed along the island chain up to Antigua.

We experienced some of the best sails we have had in a long time just off the wind and averaging well over 8 knots, with a few spells in the 9's thrown in. Now the weather window is closing up, so we’re very happy to have taken it and be here in Antigua waiting for Christmas and friends.

It gives us a few days to deal with some repairs, sort out bureaucratic issues with the Australian tax office, send our Christmas wishes, use Skype, visit what seems to be a lovely and very welcoming island and update the blog!
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Monday, December 8, 2008

Off To France For The Groceries

Le Marin, Martinique
14 28.0'N 65 52.5'W

One of the many good aspects of sailing in the Caribbean is the diversity of cultures and with that their food specialities. Make sure you buy enough curry paste in Trinidad, meat is excellent and affordable in Grenada and Ste-Lucia, wine, cheese and pâté are ridiculously cheap and abundant in Martinique.

So, after a superb sail across, our next stop had to be Le Marin in Martinique to get all the French goodies for Christmas. The best part of our stay were the two nights leading up to the main provisioning operation where one must sample wine, cheese, saucisson, paté, etc and choose which one will get to fill every one of the boat lockers and fridges. A few head aches and kilos around the waist later we could make educated decisions on what to buy…

We didn’t spent much time visiting Martinique this time but we will be back very soon and hope to cruise extensively on this stunning island (maybe eating saucisson and baguettes washed down with a glass of wine). We’re on our way to Antigua to catch up with friends who will be holidaying there over Christmas, so we need to take all the weather windows we can.
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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

St Lucia

Rodney Bay, St Lucia
14 05.4N 60 57.8W

We arrived in Saint Lucia after a "boisterous" sail in plenty of wind and large seas. Once in the lee of the island we had to motor and lead to engine failure (blocked filters) about 5 miles from the coast, making it interesting to say the least, I sailed the boat in the evry light winds while the competent and by now experienced mechanic on board found and fixed the problem while underway. It cost us the first place in the race but a very small price to pay all things considered!

Our first stop was Marigot Bay. Well protected anchorage and it must have been very pretty before foreign investors made it look exactly like Soper’s Hole in the BVI or any place where a marina/hotel concept with souvenir shops took over. How special is it to buy some Craptree and Evelyn body products or a Ralph Lauren polo shirt in St-Lucia? Couldn’t we buy this also in London, Montreal, Sydney or even Joliette? Oh well, I suppose it’s a good sign, we’re not getting a spiritual lift from retail therapy anymore…

The next day we moved to Rodney Bay situated north of the island. Another sheltered anchorage with a nice lagoon not unlike the one in St-Martin but prettier. The place is a safe heaven for sailors with most of the repair services within easy reach.

We took a taxi tour of the west coast of the island with 3 other boats which was good fun. We saw bubbling mud pools at Soufriere and the high point has to be the amazing Pitons, two beautiful mountains now part of the word heritage list.

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Tobago Cays

The Tobago Cays
12 37.9N 61 21.4W

Paradise! We have just passed a few days in the Tobago Cays, the sun has returned and we were finally at our 3rd attempt able to explore this fabulous spot.

The Cays are a collection of sand islands and a small barrier reef, so the anchorage is sheltered in most conditions. The cays themselves are stunning, the picture postcard Caribbean islands, and as the area is a park the underwater life is superb -clear water, coral and fish life. The small island in the photo is called Petit Tabac and gained fame in the "Pirates Of The Caribbean" movie as the place Jonny Depp is marooned with Keira Knightley - I am sure Pirates sufferred worse fates in reality.

The snorkeling has been superb, there are huge numbers of turtles here and we also saw several nurse sharks slumbering the days away - we have uploaded some photos on the album for you to see.

We are meeting friends in Antigua for Christmas so we will up anchor and head north reasonably quickly, we hope to spend next hurricane season here rather than in Trinidad so the remaining dive and snorkel sites will have to wait.
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Monday, November 24, 2008

Josette Comes To Visit

Bequia, Grenadines
13 00.6N 61 14.6W

Just spent a great week with Josette in the Grenadines despite some truy dreadful wet rainy weather. Poor Josette's week in the tropics to excape Montreal winter had 6 days of rain and wind, plus a northerly ground swell making some of the anchorages untenable.

The Grenadines cover an area about 25 miles long by 10 wide and have lots of great anchorages, clear water and sandy palm strewn beaches. It's very similar to where we were in the Bahamas last year and quite different from the rest of the Antilles.

Despite the bad weather we managed to get plenty of snorkelling in and a few rum cocktails, even if the cards also got more of a work out than normal.

The forecast is for better weather next week so we will head to the Tobago Cays before moving north.
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Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Dingo Ate My Baby!

The Grenadines
12 46.5N 61 21.4W

After something of a fishing drought we were getting desperate so we tried a new trick having been told that spraying WD40 onto the lure attracts fish as it is made from fish oil – old wives tale we thought but it seems to have worked! We were delighted to hear the reel squeal shortly after and know we had a decent fish at last.

The next surprise was that after the initial run we had an easy fight to get it on board despite sailing at good speeds. Then we found out why, shark attack! The back half of the poor thing was gone so it wasn’t able to swim too well. Despite losing a big chunk of the fish we still got a lot of meals out of it and hopefully more to come now we have found yet another use for WD40.
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Friday, November 14, 2008

Tim's 40th & Carriacou

Sandy Island, Carriacou
12 28.9N 61 29.1W

So sadly I finally hit 40 years old, the good news is that I did it in the perfect tropical setting and that while so many of my great friends weren't there, I did have enough to share several beers and a lot of laughter.

Sandy Island is about as near to tropical perfection as you can get, nothing but sand, clear water and palm trees with some great snorkeling and diving all around.
We celebrated my birthday with a beach barbecue on the island, Linda made a fabulous cake for me, and we sat round the fire having a drink or two and reflecting on a life well lived to date.

We stayed here for nearly a week taking full advantage of the superb calm weather, after a lovely sail up from Grenada. We finally got our dive gear wet again and best of all didn't have to fix anything for a few days.

Sadly that all changed when we went to Clifton to clear customs for St Vincent, as we dropped the anchor among coral reefs in a tight spot and 2o knots of wind, the gear box packed up, or more accurately reverse did! We managed to get the anchor down and after investigations discovered that the 6" long metal dip stick that is supposed to be welded to the inside of the oil cap is no longer there ie it has fallen into the depths of the gear box! Getting it out involves dismantling half the boat and removing the engine so we decided to manage with sails and no reverse for a week or two. However a vigorous sail seems to have dropped the offending metal into the sump and the gears now work as before - sadly we still need to get it out we think as a long term fix!

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Repairs Again!

Clarks Court Bay, Grenada
12 00.5N 61 44.1W

A frustrating and expensive week!

First thing Monday our outboard starter locked up and after a bit of an investigation I decided it was beyond me (well actually after the loud boing and bits of spring flew out of it), so off to the Yamaha dealer to get that fixed. Then the water maker pump began leaking, so order a new part freighted in from the USA, strip the pump down and rebuild it. Next the generator water pump gave up, replace that and then during a routine trip up the mast I find the real credit cruncher!

When we were in Trinidad we had a horrendous day of rolling in the marina and our rig had hit another one a few times (this is a video taken that day at the marina opposite the one we were in, we had even less shelter than these boats it was absolute hell!

I finally went up the rig to check the damage expecting to find none. Instead the main cap shroud had a nice gouge out of it and required replacing (not bad damage but not what I want to trust to hold up our 68' mast in a blow). So yesterday it was back up the mast, remove the stay, take it to the riggers to get a replacement made and then up the mast again to reinstall it. Typically the anchorage got rolly for the first time in a week while I was up the rig, so a few bruises and aches today - BUT a nice new shiny stay and a lovely big credit card bill!
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Monday, October 27, 2008

Back In Grenada

Clarks Court Bay, Grenada
12 00.5N 61 44.1W

We left Tobago last week and had an incredible sail across to Grenada. The wind was just strong enough, the angle perfect and every squall (and there were many) passed either passed in front or behind us - we are bound to pay for it one day! We made the 75 mile trip in 10 hours, hitting 9 knots for a while as Matsu tore along.

We have spent a great week here so far. We really liked Grenada during our brief visit on the way south and we instantly felt at home on our return. The people are incredibly friendly, the island not dominated by tourism, the landscape rolling and green.

Last time we only got to anchor in Prickly Bay so we are keen to try some others out this time. First port of call was Clarks Court bay for the work boat regatta, we passed a great day in the cockpit watching the boats sail around.

We will spend a few weeks here while the hurricane season fades away, the anchorages are safe and well protected barring an Ivan style direct hurricane hit. We have a couple of minor things to do, service the engine etc plus explore more of this wonderful island and then we will be all set for the new season and sailing north.
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Monday, October 20, 2008

All By Ourselves

Englishman's Bay, Tobago
11 17.3N 60 40.3W

If you listen to the tourists, the Caribbean is crowded and ruined, and you should have been here 10-20 years ago, so we are not quite sure how we have just managed to spend a whole week in this perfect bay completely by ourselves!

The bay has a huge white sand beach at its head that is lined with palm trees and cliffs on the other 2 sides. Under the cliffs is fringing reef for great snorkeling and diving (we even found a lobster) and the whole bay is calm and well protected!

The only drama for us here was watching Hurricane Omar form to our west and then back track east for a few days before it finally set off towards the Virgins. Never any real danger, but added spice to checking the morning emails as we tracked its progress.

So what do you do in a deserted bay for a week, nothing much and it was great. Reading, swimming, snorkeling, diving and having an afternoon nap or two and suddenly the week was gone!

We moved back to Store Bay yesterday and then drove right round the island today exploring some of the bits we have missed with our sailing. Great water falls and rainforest, but in a country that takes a few hours to drive round we knew we had already seen the highlight.

We will clear customs tomorrow and head up to Grenada, a passage of 75m.
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Monday, October 13, 2008

Where Are We?

Back by popular demand (or Duncan Farley, but I'm sure he spoke for all of you) a map. Follow the "Where Is Matsu" link in the Links section to see a Google Map of where we are and where we have been. You can change the map to satellite, or open it in Google Earth as you see fit!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Friends & Cruising

We have great friends. Lots of them date back to our University days and before. It’s a fact of life that with a busy lifestyle, demanding work, family matters and established social networks one doesn’t have much time to develop new friendships along the way.

The cruising lifestyle however brings a multitude of opportunities to meet new people and develop great friendships. We usually spend good quality time with each other and one big common subject – The Boat – makes for easy chat up lines and hours of conversation. It’s not all sundowners and parties but the sometimes hostile and always new environment brings a sense of community where ever we are. We have made great friends in the last few years, people we are and will stay in touch with where ever our respective travel plans take us.

In 2006 we were back in Sydney after 2 years of cruising in Australia to replenish the cruising kitty. Work was the name but friends were the game. How good it was to catch up with our best friends after 2 years, to see how the kids had grown up and share many weekends with them all. The most pleasant surprise was how many new great friends we added to the select list that year. Not sure if it was us bringing the “cruising” attitude to land or the fact that we just came across a particularly fine vintage of people but we have tied some very solid knots. People we love and, the ultimate test, people we can easily and pleasantly spend days with on a boat!

We love having friends and family on board, it gives us a chance to be on holiday and not do any boat maintenance! (except the odd blocked toilet!)

Last cruising season (2007-2008) we had the pleasure to spend some good quality time with friends and family from all over. Will from Sydney, Josette, Christian & Julia from Montreal, Barbara & Craig from New-York & Linda’s folks, Paule & Louis from Montreal, Kate, Roger, Abbie & Georgie from Philadelphia, Mike, Liz, Rosie, Charlotte & Katy from Warwick, plus Neil & Hwei Ying from Fiji.

It looks like the new season will be just as exciting, as well as traveling with our old cruising friends and meeting new ones, we almost have a full calendar with the overseas visitors. We have already had Emma and Ashton from Sydney, who came to join us in Tobago on their way to their holidays in Cuba. (It does show how Australians have no idea of traveling distances!!). We’re expecting Josette in November, Sarah for Christmas, the Wilsons for New Year, the Paule & Louis in Feb, and the Farleys at Easter, as well as a couple of possibles still being finalised.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

That's More Like It!

Store Bay, Tobago
11 09.4N 60 50.6W

After 3 months living on a boat in the Caribbean without a swim this is more like it!

We left Trinidad at first light and discovered that we had such a huge ball of barnacles on our propeller that we couldn't motor! So after studiously avoiding getting wet in diesel coated Chaguaramas Bay during our long stay, I had to don mask and snorkel and jump over the side for 20 minutes of chipping barnacles off - all before my coffee and toast.

The rest of the trip was superb, despite dire predictions of 2 knot counter currents and head winds we had a superb sail in flat calm water and gentle winds, making the whole trip on one tack straight into the bay here. The anchor was barely down before our first swim!

Since then we have had a snorkel on the reef and then 2 days of lashing rain and thunderstorms as a "tropical wave" passed over head. Today though is sunny and warm so back in the sea.

First impressions of Tobago are that it is gorgeous - clean, friendly people and lots of white sand. We have two friends coming for a couple of days and then we will head off to explore the island a bit more.
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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Farewell Trinidad

Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad
10 40.6N 61 38.3W

So exactly 3 months after we arrived in Trinidad we are leaving today bound for her sister island Tobago, and some clear water, sandy beaches and snorkelling.

It's been a hectic 3 months here, first slipping the boat and heading "home" for a month, and then returning for 2 months of boat maintenance and upgrades.

Boat wise we have achieved a lot, Linda spent weeks stripping off the varnish that simply couldn't cope with the endless round of sunshine and salt water, the varnish had looked lovely for a month or two and then been a pain ever since. We are now trying teak oil, it will need to be applied to the natural teak about once a month, but takes maybe an hour for all the external woodwork, it may work it may not, but it will be a break from varnish. While she did that I worked throug a list of hundreds of small jobs, oil changes, rewiring, improvements here and there etc etc.

The biggest change to the boat was installing our new arch at the back and mounting solar panels and a wind generator, this gives us alternative power to supplement the diesel generator and we cam hoist the dinghy up at night with the motor attached to keep it safe from thieves and barnacles, the latter more of a problem so far in the "crime ridden" Caribbean!

So what are our reflections on Trinidad:

  • A great place to get boat work done - all the facilities are close at hand, the workmanship excellent and the prices reasonable, of course all that boat work means dirty polluted water and lots of noise!

  • Wonderful people - Almost without exception Trinidadians are friendly, helpful, fun loving people. We have both travelled a lot and have never been anywhere where not once did someone try to overcharge us because we were foreign. At the market, on the bus, in a taxi same price for everyone and they even force change on you when you think the fare is more than it is!

  • Party Central - Trinis love to dance, (or have sex with their clothes on to music is perhaps more accurate) each time we went out we met lots of locals of all ages dancing, grinding, singing and most of all laughing. We went to a very trendy new club in Port Of Spain all ages from 20-60 were there all dancing together and sharing a beer or cocktail. We are very tempted to return for Carnival in February, it's the 2nd biggest in the world behind Rio, 4 days of non stop being Trinis!

  • Safe - all we heard before coming were warnings, based on the murder rate here. Sadly for Trinidad there is a drug and gang culture here with attendant shootings, this gives it a murder rate on a par with a medium sized US city, eg Charleston but of course the cruising community thinks that makes it dangerous for us. The reality is if you avoid certain suburbs at night, and don't try to set up your own rival drug gang on someone elses turf you are as safe as anywhere and a lot safer than several other hurricane destinations eg Venezuela. One dinghy theft in Chaguaramas in 3 months versus 3 boats arriving from Venezuela having been boarded by armed men and robbed of eveything en route, plus the huge number of attacks in Venezuela in that period - I know what I prefer.

We have had a great time, made some good friends and got a huge amount of boat work done in a safe, happy place. But we can't wait to jump in the sea and not wake up to diesel and plastic bottles floating in the water!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Lepers & Venezuela

Chacachacare Island
10 41.3N 61 44.7W

We have just had a week away from the rigours of Chaguaramas Bay to celebrate the new davits and the end of the major repair works for this season. Obviously things will go wrong and break, but no more "improvements" for us!

Chacachacare Island was used as a leper colony until 1984 which is shockingly recent, but the fast growing jungle has rapidly reclaimed most of the buildings so other than the odd roof and an abandoned church there is little to see. We learnt that Leprosy was not even that infectious so there was really no need to even have these colonies, and that it was still a problem in the 80's because the initial drugs were met by a mutated strain and it was only with multi drug therapy that they finally found a cure.

What it does have which is a great change is water clean enough to swim, which after 3 months on a boat in tropical heat without swimming has been wonderful. We were anchored by ourselves for much of the time and enjoyed the peace and quiet after the endless noise of Chaguaramas bay.

We walked up to the lighthouse which has excellent views out over the Bocas to Venezuela (see photo), amazing to think we are only 6 miles away from South America. Sadly this is as close as we will get this year, there has been a lot of crime directed at yachts this year there and 3 boats have limped into Trinidad in the last couple of months after being boarded and robbed by 6 men armed with semi automatics just off that lovely coastline you can see above.

Trinidad on the other hand remains peaceful and crime free as far as the cruiser is concerned, but I wouldn't want to be a drug dealer in Port Of Spain, 400+ murders this year on an island of just over 1m people (still a lower rate than Baltimore though interestingly for all the cruisers reading this).

Back at the lighthouse we picked mangoes and avocadoes from the trees and ate them at anchor watching the birds and dolphins, much more waht we signed up for.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Dodging Hurricanes & Fitting Davits

Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad
10 40.6N 61 38.3W

We are now safely back on a mooring after a very eventful week!

In order for Mitchell the welder to fit our new davits we had to come into a marina for a few days. First disaster was a minor misjudgement on the way in and we made very slow contact with the boat in the next berth, normally not a problem but sadly on this occasion due to various freak reasons we bent their pushpit quite badly and so more work for the welder and a nice bill for us!

The next few days passed uneventfully, just lots of hard work in the blazing sun getting everything fitted on the boat, while I worked with the welders Linda finished working on the teak using the abundant fresh water to wash it all ready for the new coating as we have given up on varnish. Because of the 3 hurricanes in the Atlantic this week we got out of the usual rainy season weather pattern and had endless sunshine which really helped Mitchell get the work done, even if we all fried!

By Friday the welding was done and by Saturday night we had installed the solar panels and wind generator so were feeling very happy and ready to spend Sunday doing a final clean up before going for a sail.

Sunday dawned clear and sunny but at lunch time we got a pretty strong system of squalls through associated with Hurricane Ike and within 15 minutes we went from all well in the world to fighting tooth and nail to keep the boat in one piece. Chaguaramas Bay is well protected from the prevailing winds, but these storms set up a big swell that came rolling in from the SW and straight through the marina. Matsu (and all the other boats) started to roll and surge in the pen like a mad thing. The force of the waves was astonishing, rigs were clashing as the boats rolled, and then the boats on either side broke their mooring lines. We dashed around madly in the lashing rain retying them before they could crush us, and then we had to stand on the dock watching Matsu fight against her lines, hoping that nothing more would break or else she would be pounded to a pulp against the dock.

After 3 hours of hell it subsided enough for us to get out of the marina having astonishingly not sustained any damage. Several other boats had broken cleats, damage to rigs etc etc. One miracle was that every canister in the galley was on the floor, but the lids stayed on so rather than a soup of flour, rice etc etc we were intact!

We picked up the mooring and fell into bed exhausted but relieved. Oh yeah and I think we have davits.
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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Walking In The Rainforest

Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad
10 40.6N 61 38.3W

The other early morning excursion we manage each week is a walk in the rainforest that surrounds us here at Chaguaramas Bay. An ealry start beats the heat and the afternoon rains that make the vegetation so lush here.

The forest/jungle is full of flowers, butterflies, huge stands of Bamboo and the screams of the hundreds of howler monkeys that call it home. We have yet to see one but the blood curdling screams that they send out are a familiar sound track.

Davits and repairs still on track, for next week!
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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Market Day

Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad
10 40.6N 61 38.3W

We celebrate the end of the working week with a few rums, but can't have too many as Saturday is market day, or more accurately Saturday morning at 6am is market day. We catch the maxi taxi into town and have a fabulous hour or so wandering among the stalls at the huge market.

Colourful food and colourful locals make for a great trip and the prices are superb, fresh tuna $2 a pound, steak $3 a pound and huge avocados 50 cents each. This plus fresh herbs, spices and "organic" fruit and veg mean we are eating like kings and spending like paupers.

Work is going well and we are hoping to have the davits installed in a few weeks which will free us up to explore and use the boat.
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Friday, August 15, 2008

Steel Pan "Factory"

Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad
10 40.6N 61 38.3W

We went into Port Of Spain today for a look at the sights, and as part of the trip we stopped off at a pan "factory". Basically this is a lean to in the back blocks where the very talented Andy makes his pans.

Each steel drum is made from a standard oil drum. The barrel is turned upside down and using a hammer (or occasionally his 200 year old cannon ball) he gradually beats the lid down and down until the full 8" deep curve is produced. The drum is then cut off depending on the amount of bass required, and each individual note is inscribed onto the inside of the pan.

We are now trying to hunt down a pan concert so we can listen to the combined sound of a couple of hundred of these in the full pan orchestra.
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Friday, August 8, 2008

Hard At Work

Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad
10 40.6N 61 38.3W

We got back to Trinidad after our travels to the UK and Canada on 5th August and after a couple of days of antifouling, propeller changes and various other essential out of the water maintenance we were safely relaunched to the relative cool of the harbour here.

We have picked up a mooring and will spend the next month or two working through a huge list of things to do, as well as getting this seasons major upgrade done which is an arch davit. This will mean we can pull the dinghy up at the stern and have a place to mount solar panels and a wind generator which will give us some much needed alternative power sources. We have been relying heavily on the generator and it will be nice to not feel so vulnerable to mechanical failure.

We are hoping to get some days off to explore Trinidad a bit too, but mainly a few weeks of hard graft!
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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Gareth's 40th Birthday

Gosh planes are fast, it took us 8 months to get from Chesapeake Bay to Trinidad and 5 hours to get back to NYC!

A long weekend in New York to celebrate Gareth's 40th, lots of food, beer, Leicester City paraphenalia and banter made for a fabulous time.

From here Linda flies to Canada, while I go to the UK and we change from 24/7 in a 51' boat to different continents for 3 weeks - it will be strange!
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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Aground In Trinidad

Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad
10 40.6N 61 38.3W

We arrived in Trinidad earlier this week after an uneventful night sail, and dropped anchor in Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad. Trinidad will be our home for hurricane season, while we do some maintenance and keep our insurance company happy, but our first job is to slip the boat as we are heading home for a month.

It's always scary to see your home suspended 6 feet off the ground, but Peakes Yard did a great job and we were soon spending a sweaty few days getting ready for our trip and starting the haul out work.
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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cricket & Chilling In Grenada

Prickly Bay, Grenada
12 00.0N 61 44.6W

We have spent a great 10 days in Grenada - another fabulous sail beam reaching at speed to get here, and then a lovely anchorage to stay in once arrived.

Grenada is wonderful, the people perhaps the friendliest yet. and St Georges the capital full of interesting life to watch go by. If we stay with the boat we have all the marine facilities we need, or we can get a $1 bus into town and go to the markets for fresh fish, meat and vegetables. Further inland we have superb hiking in the rain forest, or if we want a day on the beach we can have that too.

We did a fabulous walk up in the hills a few days ago, hiking through an old plantation and rainforest to some falls, where after yet more walking and scrambling we were able to dip in for a cooling swim.

We have also had a great day out at the one day cricket - the cricket itself was tedious but our fellow fans in the Posse Stand danced, sang and drummed the day away and more than made up for it! It was the cliched West Indies crowd in all its glory and we (yes we!) are looking forward to the England tour next year.

We are off to Trinidad overnight tonight where we will be spending hurricane season.
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Monday, June 16, 2008

Laying Back In Bequia

Bequia, Grenadines
13 00.1N 61 14.6W

Our migration south continues and with hurricane season fast approaching we have been going at quite a pace, and we are now in our 4th country of June!

All this sailing is quite tiring though and one has to rest from time to time, and there are few places better for that than Bequia, as this local fisherman clearly demonstrates.

As we will be coming back to visit these islands next year we have carefully chosen which paradises to enjoy on the way. We sailed straight past the main island of St Vincent without stopping. There have been several recent "pirate" attacks in Chateaubelair, an otherwise perfect anchorage located mid island with access to all the best walks on the island, so we decided to let the authorities settle the crisis before visiting.

Bequia is the northernmost and largest island of the Grenadines, and has everything to offer - a safe and calm anchorage, clear turquoise water to swim in, a beautiful beach, a colourful fruit & veg market tended by cool Rastafarian dudes, a pub showing Euro 2008 football, WIFI on the boat, what else does a cruiser need?

Not sure where the week went but Tim's guitar playing is getting better and Linda has added a few local fruit/vegetables to her favorite recipes so it was not all sunshine, swimming and sundowners!

Next stop Grenada, the islands of spices.
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