Saturday, March 29, 2014

Nevis and St. Kitts.

We are in St. Kitts at the moment, it official name is St. Christopher, it is a Caribbean country along with another island Nevis.  We spent about 5 days on Nevis and then sailed the 10 miles over here.  Both islands are volcanic in origin and have large hills which are remnants of ancient volcanoes in the middle of them.  The part of St. Kitts that we are in is very dry at the moment the hills covered in dead grass and very prickly bushes.  
While on Nevis we rented bicycles and toured around the island, the hills were a challenge to me at times but the day ended well in a marvellous, fast 3 miles downhill ride.  We had lunch up in the hills at a lovely spot although I was dripping in sweat as I walked in the spiffy restaurant . 

 We found more cannons on the island, these ones just lying in the grass.

In the main town of Basseterre on St. Kitts the anchorage was very rally so after we checked in, tramped for a half an hour to find a laundromat, waited to have it washed and tromped back to the boat, we motored to a better anchorage.  The only problem is that we are out in the boonies and there is no bus service.  We stood on the side of the road and hitched into town the other day and then took a bus to an Unesco site, one of the best examples of forts from the mid 17th century.  It was beautifully restored and we throughly enjoyed wandering around the site.

Yet more cannons, are you getting tired of them yet??
What he doesn't make me do for a good picture!
The lime kiln for the fort, the lime was used for mortar.

 I think I will always remember the Caribbean as the spot where we found cannons almost everywhere we looked.  
We are headed to the two small Dutch islands of St. Eustatius and Saba.  There is rumoured to be very good diving in Saba.  Barry says to tell you that St. Eustatius has the highest elevation in the Netherlands at 600 meters. I believe another way of referring to these islands is the Dutch Antilles. 
We met some folks last night who lent us their charts and guide books for the U. S. East Coast, what wonderful sailors.  We made some tentative plans for heading north but are still struggling with whether to go west to the Bahamas and up, or leave the Caribbean from the Virgin Islands head to Bermuda and then across to the Chespeake and New York.  
Here I am sitting at the dock in what will likely be a fancy spot in years to come.  The dock is still under construction so that is how I can afford to sit on it and enjoy the gentle Caribbean breezes. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Hiking in Montserrat

On the beach in Montserrat, you can see Redonda in the background
We went on a big hike the other day.  We did the typical Lsnge hike, heading out with too little info and ending up taking a Lange shortcut which traditionally means doing it the hardest way possible.  We had the trail at the beginning and all was well and then we headed down the beach and could not find the beginning of the next trail so started following goat trails.  That is all well and good if ther are now bushed I the way,  at first it was almost straight up a rocky hill so no bushes but at the top it was fine for a goat but to an upright human being the going was excruciating.  There were vicious thorns on the bushes and they scratched our legs and faces and continually caught Barry's backpack,
he finally put in on his front and fared a little better. The vista at the end of here trail was worth it, I

On Monday we went to the St. Patrick's Day celebration.  It was a big deal for the island with a parade,  lots of island food for sale and a concert which included, dancing, singing, and drumming, both the African and Caribbean variety (pan). Barry tried out 4 or 5 chicken vendors and was able to point out the best one to me.  

A dance traditionally put on by slaves.  I loved the costumes especially the red hi tops. 

We left Montserrat in the morning and sailed by the island of Redonda.  It in uninhabited at the moment but there was a phosphate mine on it at one time.  We were going to stop to snorkel but the waves were breaking across the shore and the captain was unwilling to stop.  We are on Nevis at the moment , it along with St. Kitts is another Caribbean country.  

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Field Day

We got to see some of the Montserrat elementary school field day yesterday.  After the conventional races they had some fun ones.  This was the 20 meter frog hopping race.  The girls in their white pleated skirts of their gym uniforms had a one legged hopping race instead.  This field day brought back many memories as their track was only 300 meters, much the same size as the one in Yellowknife.  The track as you can see is all grass and the kids competed in their bare feet.  
Last night we headed off to listen to an advertised Irish band said to be playing at 8:00 PM.  Apparently they decided to play at 5:00 at another venue and although we eventually did find the band they were well into their cups by the time we arrived and no longer playing.  Fortunately we found out where they were going to be playing on Thur. So we hope to see them then.  After a pleasant evening talking with a woman who had a house very close to the one we owned in Saskatoon and her father who was an avid curler who had won a polar bear rug in the bonspiel in Yellowknife we had to find a way home.  
Someone rounded up a ride for us, but I was getting a bit nervous about going home with this woman who was buying yet another drink to drive home along the very windy narrow hilly roads.  We got a lift instead with the aforementioned band and their sober driver, whew!!!

Monday, March 10, 2014

We took a tour of Montserrat and got to see the volcano. It has quite the history, it started growing in 1993 and first exploded in 1995. It continued exploding on a regular basis until 2010.  The whole south half of the island was evacuated and people were not allowed to return to their homes. The homes we're covered in ash, in some places 10 meters deep.  Due to overcrowding and the lack of housing the population went from 12,000 to a present day pop. of 4,500. We saw a movie of the volcano and how it grew and the explosions over the years. It was fascinating. On the tour we stopped at a hotel, the pool had been filled up by ash.  The ash in the rooms was so fine, I found an old brochure in the office.  At the moment we saw smoke coming out of the top to the mountain, but their have been no eruptions lately.  We had a beautiful day for the tour and it was great.

In the next two pictures I am sitting by the hotel pool, it is full of volcanic ash

Saturday, March 08, 2014


We are in Montserrat after a boisterous sail over yesterday.  We didn't leave Antigua until after 11 in the morning so wanted to hurry to check in with customs before they closed and we had to pay overtime.  The winds co-operated blowing 18 - 22 knots and the boat took off averaging about 6.5 knots.  There were 2 1/2 meter seas so a roily fast ride was had and we cleared customs with 15 minutes to spare. At the moment we are in the Montserrat Public Library checking our mail. It is very hilly here, we hope to take an island tour in the next few days and see the remains of the exploded volcano, it blew it's top in 1995. 

Montserrat on approach, see the volcanic ash at the far end

Tuesday, March 04, 2014


We sailed up to Barbuda which is just 39 miles north of Antigua a few days ago.  It has a very small population of only 1500 or so and it is quite isolated.  We stopped at the southern tip along this gorgeous beach. It just went on forever, people sail that turtles were nesting a few miles up.  We have had some great snorkelling lately.  On one foray we saw turtles, rays, lobsters and an octopus.  While we were in Barbuda we saw quite a few spotted rays, they were gorgeous about a meter and a half across. I also saw a squid one time when I was out by myself.

Yesterday we were anchored in a very shallow area surrounded by patches of coral.  We were alone with another boat, RCLouise.  We first met the couple in Tahiti, they sold their boat in NZ and went back to the States.  Last year they bought a brand new boat from France and are planning on crossing the Pacific again with it.
We sailed back to Antigua today and found our buddies from Sal Dorago anchored about 300 meters I front of us.  It was great to see them again and we plan to spend some time here with them.  On the way over we saw a whale, I am not sure which kind but it was flapping it's huge flukes and I managed to get a shot of it.