Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Exploring Barbados

This is the view of the wharf as you enter the canal that leads into the centre of Bridgetown. We dinghy in and tie up just under the first bridge. 
It is a very historic spot with the former parliament buildings just opposite where we land the dock Nagy. 
Tourism is king in the Barbados and we have to run the gauntlet of the taxi drivers when we head into town. We are perceived as cruise ship customers and are constantly asked are you going back to the ship, do you need a taxi? We had a chance to head up the western edge of the island to day and explore a spot called Speightstown. We took a $2 bus instead of a $50 taxi, it was a very noisy ride with music running in the background but a very annoying disc jockey hollering at the top of his lungs rap lyrics or promotional jingles, we must be getting old. 
Once we got to Speightstown we headed to the beach and came across this sign as we wandered along. I think it would go great with the bison crossing sign Barry got from the Dept. Of Highways in the NWT. 
We discovered this mural on the side of a building after a fellow who repeatedly tried to sell us a newspaper, and had no luck directed us down a narrow pathway between two buildings. It hits on some highlights of Barbados history and depicts a famous cave on the island. 
This is a typical Bajun home. It is pretty tiny, very colourfully painted and there is not a lot of space between it and the neighbor. 
As we tried to find our way back t the highway to catch the bus back to Bridgetown we came upon a track meet, or a field day.  Youngsters were standing with their classmates, being cajoled by their teachers and they were cheering the on the runners. Here is the leader of the race we watched, she is headed into the finish line in fine form. 
We were a day late to visit the St. Patrick's Parish flower and garden show but managed to see some of the exhibits before they were totally dismantled. The women who were tidying up the church were kind enough to let us take some pictures of the gorgeous floral displays.
We visited the Barbados Yacht Club yesterday and they are very welcoming to boats that have crossed the Atlantic. They allowed us to have a one week membership, we are given a number and we can charge, food, drinks and merchandise during that time.  The best part is that they have a great library and can exchange the paperbacks we have been reading since leaving the Canaries for new ones. I was getting a tad desperate as I saw my choices for new novels diminishing rapidly. 
Our lap top computer we bought in Florida, has developed a wonky LED screen.  We took it in to be repaired, so we will stay here until that issue is resolved. Then we will head for whatever Caribbean Island gives us the cheapest rate for getting the boat hauled.  We have not painted the bottom since we left Canada and going down the ICW we scraped a lot of painted off the keel.  It is time for new paint.  At the moment Grenada is winning the price war but we have a few more quotes to come back to us. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Arrival

Two weeks and seven hours later we arrived in the Barbados, safe and sound. After our Pacific crossing of 21 days from the Galapagos to the Marquesas, this passage ranks as the  favourite second in our long distance passages.  The trade winds were blowing and we consistently averaged over 150 nm per day, awesome sailing.  The last two days saw some squalls and very finicky winds just enough to challenge us.  
Here I am raising the yellow quarantine flag with Barbados in the background. We made landfall about 1300 hours and decided to just drop the hook and do the check in dance tomorrow.  Whew, another safe passage. 
  Bridgetown, Barbados!

A Westerly Tale

Our buddies Kathy and Jeremy have circumnavigated in their boat, Sal Darago, a 36 foot Westerly.  It is what they call a bilge keeled boat, it has two keels and can sit and balance on them when the large tides they have in England recede and leave a boat stranded in too little water.  Apparently, these boats were not made to circumnavigate and people are amazed that they have accomplished the feat.  Barry has never got over the fact that this bilge keeled Westerly beat us when we sailed from Walvis Bay, Namibia to St. Helena. For one thing it is only 36 feet and we are 39.6 feet so given to our waterline length we do have a faster theoretical hull speed so we should have got to St. Helena ahead of them.  Hmmm, well I think we were just outsailed, but.......
We met another British couple in Mindelo and guess what they were sailing, a bilge keeled Westerly, it is only 32 feet. The boat left the day before we did, they are also headed for the Barbados, and ever since we have had our eyes peeled to see if we can spot it. According to my calculations if we sailed a knot faster than them we should have passed them on Day 5, if we only sailed a half a knot faster we should have passed them on Day 10. Barry has visions of them rounding the last corner into Bridgetown, Barbados as we appear on the horizon. He is driven to distraction wondering where they are. We know there are at least two other boats out there but we have not seen anyone, it is a big ocean. One time Barry was snoozing when I came up from down below and I said "There's the Westerly ". That woke him up in a hurry. I do rather hope that 32 foot boat is not sitting merrily at anchor flaunting her bilge keels at us as we drop the hook.  We have only 101.5 miles to wait to find out!

Still at sea


Day 8 
It is 0330 and I am star gazing. It is the clearest night we have had yet and I turned on the ap on our IPad for identifying th stars. I can pick out about 5 constellations without any problem but I hope to be able to identify more. 
The coloured planet is Jupiter and Virgo is my Zodiac sign so maybe I should try and identify her. Tonight I can see the Big and Little Dipper as well as the Southern Cross, very special. We are at about 15 degrees north and I wondered if I could spot the Southern Cross, I am quite tickled. 
Just before sunset yesterday we had a visitor. We are pretty sure it was a large shark. Barry was on watch and he saw it about 4 times, I only saw it once ( I was below doing dishes) but he kept coming back and making lightning passes by the boat. He was about 1/3 of the size of the boat which would make him 4 meters, so a good sized animal. He had a distinctly white underbelly and a dark top, Barry saw a fin a number of time and I saw a very small fin when he executed a high speed turn right beside the boat. I think it was his dorsal fin the second one some sharks have by their tail. It was rather exciting, just when we thought there was nothing around.  It kind of gave me the creeps to think he may be stalking the boat in the middle of the night!!

Day 9
Things were going far too smoothly so yesterday we had a couple of "Oh S&%t" moments.  We had the Genoa poled out with our huge heavy Genoa pole, it is the only pole we have and Barry has always intensely disliked it. The topping lift broke and the pole was dragging  in the water, NOT GOOD! After a Chinese fire drill at sea which consisted of Barry trying to muscle the pole off the shrouds and yelling at me to hurry and tie lines up so we wouldn't loose the pole, Barry figured out we should put the boat in a heave to position, basically head to wind with the wheel tied off so the boat kind of sits in one position and lessen the stress on everything and everyone. Once that was done we could wrestle the pole aboard and get to work trying to repair it. About an hour later we were underway again but we had discovered our boom vang line had pulled the standing block off the deck so we could no longer use it. Barry said there was no way he could fix it but after a night to think about it he came up with a solution and we once more have full control  of the shape of our main. 
A gorgeous sunset last night . Today we had some rain showers for the first time and I was able to get a little of the dirt off the boat. The cockpit cushions which have been crusted with salt also got a fresh water rinse. After the showers we were treated to one of the most beautiful rainbows I have ever seen.
The colours even continued into the water, I was sure we were going to sail right over the pot of gold. Barry's brother Bruce and his wife Margaret are in  the Barbados today on a cruise ship. We are just a little bit short, about 690 miles. I will wave at sunset when the ships usually leave. To be there on time we would have had to sail over Christmas and we really didn't want to do that. 

Have you heard of the Sargasso Sea? It is a big bunch of sargasso floating weeds somewhere in the Atlantic. I think we may have run into a part of it. At times there are bits of weed everywhere, then it is clear then we run into more, interesting. 

At sea

Day 5
We are 765nm into our journey from the Cape Verde Islands to the Barbados, over a third done. We are throughly enjoying the trade wind sailing. The first 3 days saw us making over 150 miles per day, which is great for us. Day 4 was a slight let down as the wind lightened and our speed diminished, although we still made 128 miles which is not too shabby f. Today saw the wind strengthen and we once again are romping along at over 6.5 knots. 
The fishing continues to be good, yesterday Barry had this beauty within gaffing distance when it gave a mighty heave and spit out the hook. 
To tell you the truth I was not sorry it got off the hook it was a magnificent looking fish. I was on watch at dawn today so I let out the line, about 0800 there was a jerk . We thought we had lost it but when I went to pull it in the fish was still there. This is probably one of the first fish I have caught aboard. Barry the seafood chef baked it up and we enjoyed it with rice and a cabbage and carrot salad mid afternoon. 
This is the same kind of fish Barry caught the other day, it is called a dorado, a mahi mani, or a dolphin fish. Once it leaves the water the colour immediately begins to change, compare the colouring of the one in the water to the one in my hand. Nature continues to amaze me. 

Day 7 

We are approaching the halfway point, we have gone 1003 miles and we have 1011nm to go. The wind and swell picked up yesterday, we have a double reefed Main with about half of the genoa poled out. The boat is scooting along at an average of 6.4 knots, any faster and she rounds up and staggers around and the sail flogs terribly so we are very happy with 6.4 average. We have had two boats show up on the AIS, th first he was about 100nm from Cape Verde and even though she was only 4.5 miles away we could not see her for the dust. The second one showed up last night and Barry spotted it in the dark before it showed up on the AIS. The only wildlife we have seen besides the fish we have caught and the flights of flying fish that pop up everywhere are two tropic birds.  The were over 600 miles from land they circled the boat twice checking us out but did not land. We were hoping they would hitch a ride for a few miles. Barry had hidden a package of black licorice in his cubby so we broke it open last night and had a real treat. I bought some peanuts in the shell in Mindelo , little did I know they were raw. I shelled one package the other day and roasted them for awhile and put them in a vegetarian ground nut stew. I am going to roast the other package today and see if they will be good enough to snack on. We still have apples, oranges and a coconut as fresh fruits and lots of fresh veggies left. 
It has been warm enough during the day we put up the bimini so we can have some shade, but the wind of the water keeps it cool. I think we can look forward to more wind and swell as we approach the Barbados, we will just keep rocking and rolling along. 


Happy New Year

Happy New Year from about 250 nm west of the Cape Verde Islands. We decided to bring in 2017 with a sip of Bailey's. Dear friends of ours gave us the glasses when we met them in Norfolk Virginia so we toast all our friends and family from 16*41' N X 029*27 W.
I decided when we left to switch our time from Cape Verde time to Barbados time so that my 24 hour calculations won't get mixed up.  I can't say that decision has been working out for the best. We went from -1 UCT to -5 Universal Co-ordinated Time and now our daylight hours go from 0430 to 1530 , it will get better the further west we go but it is a little bizarre at the moment. 
This is Day 2 at sea and we are having a terrific sail so far. Once we got out of the wind shadow of Sao Anita the wind has been on the beam and then clocked around so it is on the starboard quarter. We have had two consecutive 150 mile days, wonderful trade wind sailing. The swell is at a different direction from the waves but so far it has not been a problem. 
The first day I did not bother to clean the dust off the boat as it was still thick in the air. Yesterday was a little better so I went to work and washed off what I could, with salt water. Our clothes were all brown from raising the sails, handling the lines and brushing against the deck. 
This shade from our bimini used to be white!! I even threw some lines overboard and trailed them in the water while they were still attached, in an attempt to get them clean, salt is better than silt.
We hope that 2017 will be a year where you can realize your potential and work towards following your dreams, only you can make it happen! The power of positive thinking is amazing. This year will see big changes for us as we make a home in Canada once again. Our plan is to leave the boat in Costa Rica, fly home to Canada, set up an apartment and then go back to the boat in the winter of 2018. That is as far as the plan has evolved so far! Here's wishing everyone all the best from the Atlantic Ocean. 
What a way to start off 2017. Barry caught this pan sized dorado shortly after sunrise on the first day of the new year. We had it for supper and Barry cooked it to perfection. He had a slightly larger one on the hook first but it managed to escape as we dragged it through the waves, it leaped as it came out of a wave and it was gone, it's buddy was not so lucky. Yum!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Sao Vicente

We have had a chance to take the bus to two small communities on the other side of the island. Our first jaunt was to San Pedro, it was only a 20 minute drive by Aluger. An Aluger is a mini van or a truck with bench seats in the back , and there is no fixed schedule. The Aluger leaves when it is full, and I mean full. 
There were fifteen stacked into this van, we had the bumpy back seat. The ride on this van took about 40 minutes but as we got further and further away from the city and the vehicle emptied we were able to stretch out and we almost had a seat to ourselves when we arrived at our destination. 
San Pedro the first stop had a lovely beach. It seemed to be a fishing community, there were traditional home made boats on the beach.
We saw them bringing several boats in and it was a community effort. There were some men on the beach and others came out from their home and helped manhandle the boats above the high tide mark. At one end of the beach men were banging shells with hammers, we think they were conch. We asked if we could take a picture but were denied, and then one fellow said a euro but we didn't bother. There were piles of shells everywhere all smashed to bits. It was a very poor spot we wandered up the hill and it seemed the further up the hill you went the poorer the housing was. 
The goats were putting the shade to good use in the noonday sun. When we left the Aluger drove down to the beach and plastic bins of fish were loaded on the top of the van and strapped down for the ride back to the city to be taken to the market. 
A couple of days later we headed to Calohoa, we went with the Swedish couple who are anchored next to us, Ulf and Pia.
Pia was a physiotherapist back in Sweden and the two of them spent several summers sailing around Spitzbergen, an island north of Sweden at about 80 degrees north. ANYWAY, we seem to have quite a bit in common and have had great fun swapping stories. 
Here are a couple of passengers from the bus carrying the goods that had been stored on the roof. Notice the roads, they are rock which has been tamped down on the ground wth no real foundations built for the road. Barry says he read these roads can last for twenty years. 

We rode along a valley that was obviously the bread basket of the island. There were windmills along the route, palm trees and gardens with all sorts of vegetables growing.  One fellow got on the bus and he had a sunflower and some coconuts in his hands to take back to his home in the city. He was going  to replant the sunflower at his home in the city. 
Pia and I went for a nice swim just off these rocks. There was a ladder imbedded in the rocks so you could get in and out, very refreshing. We are hoping to leave tomorrow, Dec. 30 and it may take anywhere from two to three weeks to cross, talk to you again or the other side.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Portugese cannons

 If you have been a faithful follower of our blog you will probably remember that we had a thing about cannons when we were in the Caribbean. Well we finally have found some Portugese cannons. They are guarding the entrance to Mindelo Harbour and they have the whole straight between this island and the next covered.  We saw them as we came in and finally got around to go exploring a couple of days ago. If you look carefully at the pictures you can see there are three cannon each pointing in a different direction. There were fortifications as well but we did not venture very far into them as they were full of garbage and ready to fall apart. It is hard not to compare the area to what is available in the Caribbean and realize that this island has not discovered the possible tourist attraction this could be, or there is just not the money available on the island to make it into a tourist spot.
There are stunning views to be had, it was about a 3 k walk out to the point and along the way there were lots of very large homes in the process of being built. This one below had figured out a way to keep anyone from climbing his fence. 

We saw a few infinity pools at the front of some of the finished homes. I wonder if some of these folks don't have some money to invest in preserving those Portugese guns!
We had a lovely Christmas dinner aboard with a young German couple and a Swedish couple keeping us company. The Swedish couple had spent a number of years sailing up in Spitsbergen in the summers , it is north of Sweden about 80 degrees north so we really enjoyed their stories. We are heading off to another island by ferry tomorrow to do some serious exploring and then we will keep an eye on the weather. 
We woke up on Christmas morning and we thought that the fog had rolled in. It was the same again today with very reduced visibility. The locals have informed us it is dust from the Sahara and sure enough the boat is covered in very fine brown dirt. The bottom is also growing a good crop of shells that stick, so a good bottom cleaning is in order before we leave. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Sao Vicente

This is the Main Street in Mindelo, the biggest city on the island we are anchored by Sao Vicente or St. Vincent. I just love the bright colours they paint their buildings and the verandas with the wrought island railing. The Cape Verde Islands were colonized by the Portugese and they gained their independence in the 1970's without any bloodshed. According to what I read they have a very young population on the islands but they have a good education level. The people are poor and there are street people lying about and there are guys that hassle us as we come out of the marina. Walking on the streets, we have not been bothered very much and the shop keepers are starting to recognize us and say hello. We have been busy looking for boat parts, and finding where is the best place to buy food so we have not been travelling or sightseeing anywhere else. 
We have been having a very social time though which is nice for a change. There are mostly European boats here, lots of French, Dutch, and German boats. We had a Swedish couple and a young German pair over to the boat and we had such a good time they will be joining us for Christmas dinner. I managed to buy a whole turkey, it is only about 4 kilos so will fit in the oven wonderfully. Last night we headed of to a different German boat and Sue and Thomas are hoping to head up the East Coast of the U.S. to Canada, so we gave them a chart book and some tips on where the best spots are. 
On our travels to find a new spark plug for our Honda generator, as of today we have not found one, we ended up on the seamy side of the harbour. There ar at least three large sunken wrecks in the area and this boat looks like it may be the next to bite the dust. 
Cat's-Paw IV is just beside the yellow boat at the back , the small blue hulled boat in front of us belongs to the young German couple. They are only 18 and the skipper has sailed this boat from Hamburg. He picked up his mate in Gomera and they plan to cross to the Caribbean . They are either crazy or courageous, I haven't decided which yet but you have to admire their guts. The boat is only 7 meters, very small, they came here at the same time as us and the boat got completely soaked at one point, all their food was swimming in the bottom of the boat, not fun! 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

At sea

IIt is Day 2 of our passage to the Cape Verde Islands. The winds have been kind to us so far ( touch wood) and we have not had anything that would even resemble a headwind. Purely by chance we sailed when the moon was approaching it's fullest. Last night it was brightly shining for the whole night. When the sun set there it was bright and beautiful in the eastern sky and as I watched it set on the western horizon this morning the rosy peach shimmer of dawn touched the eastern sky as we sailed on a broad reach at about 6 knots. Life does not get too much better than this!  
Last night we were making a sail change when there was a big splash beside the boat. Barry had been cranking in the sail making a lot of noise and there was a big sploosh. We both saw a large fish shaped figure dart away from the boat. It could have been a dolphin, but once they arrive by the boat they usually stay for a few minutes. I didn't hear any telltale breath exhalations either so I don't think it was a marine mammal of any sort.  I guess it will alway remain a mystery, hmmmm.


Day 4
We are roaring along at a great rate. The wind is just as it was predicted, from the port quarter and over 15 knots. Our anonometer is broken so we cannot tell exactly how much wind there is but at the moment we are tearing along at over 6 knots with only the staysail and a triple reefed main. The seas have gradually increased so they are over 2 meters now but the boat is handling them well, although the motion is rather boisterous. We have made almost 150 miles the last two days so if all goes well, touch wood, we should arrive in Mindelo the capital of Sao Vicente, one of the Cape Verde  Islands on Saturday, Dec. 17.
We just took the staysail down and put up the storm staysail, a smart move as the wind is supposed to increase tomorrow. It was good to do it before dark, the ride is smoother and although we may have lost a little speed, I think we will still make our 150 a day!! Fajitas for supper, I had to strap myself in, so I wouldn't be thrown around the galley.  In my humble opinion this is better than bumbling along at 2.5 or 3 knots. 
The triple reef makes the main very small and leaves a lot of room at the top of the mast. 


Wind

Shrieking, howling, moaning

Waves building 

Rolling, pitching, yawing 

Relentless 

Gale


Day 6

Arrived in Mindelo at 1300 hours. The 794nm trip took us 5 days and 21 hours for an average speed of 5.6 knots with only 2 hours on the engine, 1 hour motoring to get out of the wind shadow of Hierro and the rest getting into and out of the anchorages. The waves on this trip were equal or larger than the ones from Suwarro to American Samoa. Our storm staysail has had little use over the years but proved it's worth on this trip.  The motion  on the boat was rolly but not intolerable and because the waves were from behind the beam we were not slamming around like we would have been if the wind had been on the nose. All in all a good fast trip!! Now to get out those Christmas decorations and see about buying a turkey. 

Our first sight of the Cape Verde Islands, they don't look so green.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Heading South

We are anchored at the back of the picture.

We got ashore yesterday after the wind dropped. It is unbelievable how the cliffs just end right at the water's edge. We are headed for the Cape Verde Islands later today. It looks like a good sailing window.