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!
Posted by Picasa

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.
Posted by Picasa

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.

Posted by Picasa