Monthly Archives: January 2016

Bar~beautiful!

Barbuda has been described as a large version of Anegada in the British Virgin Islands.  At first glance this appears to be true. But I found the two islands very, very different.

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First view of Barbuda

Anegada has a lot to offer visitors and certainly caters to tourists in the usual BVI way, which I very much enjoy.

Barbuda seems to have chosen to remain staunchly independent of visitors and prefers to retain its’ local flavor.  My understanding is that the island is owned by the residents and if a company wants to build something, say a resort, the whole town votes to accept or decline the plan. So far it appears few, if any, outsiders have managed to develop Barbuda. The result is that Barbuda is unspoiled and beautiful, but it is also difficult to find services or restaurants.

When we walked through Codrington Village, few of the stores had signs so it was difficult to tell what was available. The grocery was pretty well stocked, but because there was no sign, I would have walked past it if a woman had not walked out with bags of food.

The children here have the freedom of roaming a hometown where everyone knows each other and they are safe to explore. I watched one boy upright a bike much too big for him and serpentine up the road; another child skipped into the grocery and asked for clothes pins for her mom; two young boys were gently scolded by a lady sitting on her porch as she reminded them their mothers expected them to go straight home from school. I felt like I was looking back to a time when computers and smart phones and stranger danger didn’t exist.

The water clarity and colors of Barbuda are beyond belief. Our first anchorage was Gravenor Bay. Navigating into this bay is tricky because there are a lot of reefs. It is very important to only enter when the sun is high and the visibility excellent, but once through the maze of reefs, the settled anchorage and amazingly clear water is worth the effort.

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Watching a storm from Gravenor Bay

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Another dramatic storm that passed beyond us

I tried to get a picture of how clear the water is by taking a picture while standing on the bow of LIB. You can see the coral and sand!

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The water is about 15 feet deep in this photo

We decided to move to Low Bay to see the NW side of the island and get close to Codrington Village.  We motored around Coco Point before raising the sails. To our delight, a few dolphins came to say hello! They didn’t stay very long, but we sure enjoyed seeing them.

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Dolphins swim under the bow of Let It Be

The 11 mile expanse from Palmetto Point to Low Bay is a beautiful beach where the sand is so fine you sink as you walk. We certainly didn’t walk the whole length but we did enjoy hanging out appreciating its’ beauty.

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Sand so fine you sink as you walk

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Captain is always up for a roll in the sand

As you can see, Captain dives right in to the beach scene. The more sand she can dig in and roll in and generally grind into her fur, the happier she is!

Moving to Low Bay allowed us hire a guide to take us on a tour of the Frigate Bird Sanctuary.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of this tour but ended up thoroughly enjoying it. . Our tour guide, Clifford, took us to the sanctuary via his long boat, then he walked the boat through the area so we had an excellent view of the birds. Ornithologists estimate that there are 5,000 birds in this colony which makes it one of the largest in the world.  The pictures offer more than I can describe.

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The male Frigate enlarges his gular pouch to attract females.

In addition to inflating the gular pouch, the male Frigate rapidly taps the pouch to create a drumming sound which adds to his attraction.

Come on, lady readers, you think those pouches are pretty sexy, right?

Females do not have pouches but instead have a white chest.

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Young Frigates are downy white

When born, the babies have downy, white feathers which are gradually replaced by the black plumage. In the picture above you can see two very young Frigates. Toward the back you can see a Frigate that is a few months old; it has begun to grow some of its’ black feathers but still has a good deal of baby down on the chest.

Wind forecasts were beginning to pick up so we lifted anchor and headed back to Green Island, Antigua  to be in place for kiting should the predicted winds materialize.

Happily, the winds did blow and we arrived at Green Island with plenty of time to get in an afternoon kiteboarding set.

For the kiters out there, here are two pics…..

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Frank chilling as he heads back toward the beach

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Hunter boosts off the back of LIB to start his session

Next stop Guadeloupe.

Wait! You’re Going the Wrong Way!

Oh yippee, we are almost there.

Wait, nope, need to tack (change direction) to actually sail to that opening almost right in front of us.

Let’s just head away from our destination for 30 minutes, then turn around and go back toward it.

Yep, we want to go west – so we are just going to head east for a bit, then go west.

Sailing seems to be two steps forward and one step back or is it one step forward and two steps back?

In any case, sailing to a destination is nothing like driving to one!

Frank and I had this discussion where he says humans have made life so comfortable that we no longer have any clue or concern about the weather. We just hop in our car and go to our destination.

In his estimation, that is so easy it is boring.

In my estimation, it is so easy it is reliable and efficient and I know what to expect!

Hmmm, I might have to make some adjustments to my attitude if I’m going to succeed as a sailor!

One thing I have learned about myself is that I tend to estimate the amount of time something will involve and I expect to pretty much meet that timeframe.

Well, my estimates are totally OFF when it comes to sailing.   E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G takes longer than it should, uh, I mean than on land!

Yesterday we had a reasonably good sail from Barbuda. During the sail, the wind became more southernly which meant we had to adjust our heading (direction) and thus we were too far off of our intended destination to simply sail to it. 

Instead we had to turn the boat and sail almost directly away from where we were going so we could change our wind angle and sail in to our destination.

This is SO frustrating to me. Some days I just want to say, “Turn on the engines and let’s just get there already!”

I think if I felt 100 percent well when we are sailing, I could handle these delays. Instead, I am usually very anxious to get out of the waves and to our destination a.k.a. calm water!

In addition to not being able to simply aim directly where I want to go, there are so many things I took for granted while living in The States.

Let’s talk internet…. we were delighted when we bought a sim card with data and were told all we had to do was top it off on line. Great! Easy and reasonably priced!

Except after we went through the initial data, we couldn’t top off on line…. So I have spent a lot of time on the phone and via slow websites trying to get to the bottom of this issue. 

But customer service here isn’t like in The States; as in half the time the phone call is disconnected or there is no actual person to speak with.  I did finally reach an employee on the phone, but I’m pretty positive she knew less about her own product than I do.  The employee told me the sim card I used for 5 GB of data wouldn’t work unless I had a blackberry…..

Um, I just went through 5 gigs on my Ipad using this sim card?!?

Nope, I have to terminate that sim card, add cash to my account, call back and reactivate my card.

Ok. Makes no sense, but I want the data.  I’ll call you back.

Well, I have tried calling several times (19) without reaching an available person! So I left a few messages and finally got a call back . This employee tells me the data plan I was told about is only for LTE and I don’t have an LTE card.

Really, my first 5G was LTE…..Ok, can I just reactivate this sim and have 4G?

Um, sure, but I have to check. I will call you back. That was yesterday. 

Do you think I’ll hear back?

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Bailey’s Grocery – after a two mile walk.

Don’t even get me started on the grocery store. Trust me, I was seriously missing Tom Thumb as I walked 2 miles (literally) to the grocery last week. Not only was Tom Thumb a quick, direct drive from my garage to the parking lot (regardless of wind direction) but they had whatever ingredient I was hoping to buy!

But at least the nice lady at this market called a taxi for me so I didn’t have to walk home with the groceries!

So all this grousing is just to let you know that paradise is beautiful, but it is better if you leave your former life without trying to recreate it in paradise. 

And you best take off your running shoes and embrace the sandals because a casual pace is all we achieve out here!

(Lack of internet delayed this post and doesn’t allow for many pictures…. can you tell I gave up on topping up the sim card? Maybe on the next island.)

Playtime in Antigua

It’s hard to believe that our son, Hunter, has already been with us for 10 days! We have had a great time so far, though I admit every day, at least once, someone says, “Wow, I wish Clayton was with us.” We are very thankful that Hunter has a job that allows him to visit and get his work completed.  We are extremely proud of Clayton’s dedication to his job and realize he would be with us if he had that flexibility.  Miss you C!

One of the first things we did when Hunter arrived was cut his hair! I have little to no experience cutting hair, so I was flattered and nervous when Hunter asked me to cut it for him. Here is the before haircut photo. You’ll have to look at the later pics to see the results.

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It was close, but my hair is still longer than his was.

Our days have been spent in a variety of ways, but the main focus is the wind and if kite boarding can be on the agenda.  Fortunately we have had four really great kiting days and there are plenty of other “toys” on LIB to keep us occupied if the wind doesn’t cooperate.

Last week we rode our bikes to Shirley Heights overlooking English Harbour but this week we hiked a trail that took us up a steep trail, past Shirley Heights, then out to the cliffs and back down to Freeman’s Bay where LIB was anchored.

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It is hard to capture the magnitude of the cliffs.

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LIB nestled in Freeman’s Bay

The paddle boards act as platforms to transport Captain to shore and explore a variety of places while getting a bit of exercise.

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Hunter and Cap about to go explore. How do you like the haircut?

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Frank usually has to balance Cap, but this time Hunter was chauffeur. 

All good boat tools have several purposes and our SUPs have lived up to that requirement. One afternoon when the waves were b-i-g, and the wind was light, Frank and Hunter headed out on the paddle boards for some SUP surfing.

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Best shot I could get from so far away.

Maybe you can get an idea of just how big those waves were if you look at the one building a bit further out. We are guessing some waves were 7 feet. The guys say they managed to catch a few waves and lots of laughs.

Lest you think Hunter’s arrival has crushed our coconut safaris, let me reassure you. Instead of abandoning our coconut searches, we have pressed Hunter into climbing duty.

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Why do I keep thinking of Mowgli from The Jungle Book?

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Frank displays the bounty.

But what about the kite boarding? Here are a few pictures to satisfy those dreaming of beautiful water and favorable kite winds.

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Hunter’s first launch from LIB – see that hair?

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Frank follows suit.

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Hunter makes a grab while Frank heads the other way.

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Hunter has already launched from the beach and Frank is on the way.

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Hunter demos another grab.

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Captain is on alert.

Captain gets her “shepherd” on and keeps a close eye on Frank and Hunter while they kite. I will admit she gets a little noisy and I wish she would be a bit quieter as she runs around the boat keeping tabs on her people.

Lest you think I just sit on the boat, I too have been kite boarding. I think I have finally gotten a better handle on this sport. My board skills already existed from wakeboarding, but flying/controlling the kite has given me some grief. Just yesterday I had a really great set, but Frank was there as dinghy support since I couldn’t ride up wind well enough to return to the starting point…. okay, that is an issue I need to overcome.  But I am definitely improving!

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Kites drying on the front deck as the sun sets.

Day’s end brings a gentle beauty that incorporates relief from the powerful sun, satisfaction of a day well spent and a bit of fatigue from a variety of play.

Sunset’s anchored in Nonsuch Bay are just stunning and differ greatly. Here are two; which do you prefer?

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Fire reds and ominous clouds.

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A mellow repose.

By the end of the day we are all pretty tired. Once the sun sets, we make dinner and when we finish, we are just about ready to roll into bed.

Next we set sail for Barbuda and hope the winds ramp back up to the kiting zone.

Jolly Harbour, Antigua – Take Two or is it Three?

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Jolly Harbour feels like the treasure at the end of a rainbow.

Jolly Harbour has been a very welcome anchorage after both of our passages from St. Martin. This time I was ready to return to Jolly because the surge in Nelson’s Dockyard made our lines squeak at night which made sleep a little difficult. Even though I really like English Harbour, I am such a light sleeper that the squeak kept me awake so I was ready for the quiet of Jolly Harbour.

Last June we visited Jolly Harbour, so we knew what to expect this time and we were not disappointed. The folks in Jolly Harbour Marina are very nice and always have a smile. Jenn was in the marina office again this visit and her warm welcome was appreciated.

One really nice change in JH is the upgrade to their internet signal. Jenn told us that in the past the marina had complaints about the wifi, so they upgraded the system.  Since then she said they have not had any complaints. We were on a mooring ball and had excellent wifi on LIB. Thanks for the upgrade Jolly Harbour!!

As you can see from the picture above, there are a lot of private homes with boat docks along the edges of JH which offers a different view and feeling from many anchorages. These quiet fingers are perfect for paddle boarding.

Last year we wrote about our visit to Sha Sade where Frank had his hair cut. This year I visited Shamone who gave me a manicure/ pedicure and even dyed my eyebrows for me. It was like a regular spa day!

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Shamone and Sadie’s store front.

The salon is in the building right next to the dinghy dock so the location is perfect for boaters. I will certainly go back the next time I’m in Jolly Harbour.

As most boaters know, Jolly has an excellent grocery and it is pretty easy to find familiar products. We were able to stock up on some essentials like M&Ms. 😉

Near the mooring balls their is a neighborhood with an open field and quiet streets which makes a perfect place for us to throw the frisbee for Captain.

She apparently thinks we should have gone there more often as she decided she would sleep in the dinghy between visits! She has only done this in Jolly Harbour, so I’m guessing this is one of her favorite anchorages.

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Yes, that black ball of fluff is Cap waiting for another trip to shore!

This time we left Jolly Harbour to head to Shell Beach where we picked up our older son, Hunter. What a great reason to head out.

The focus of Hunter’s visit is kiteboarding. Frank has been anxiously waiting for this opportunity to kite with Hunter right off of LIB.

Let’s hope these crazy winds keep blowing…

 

English Harbour, Antigua

Last June when we visited Antigua we loved it. We felt like we barely saw the island and it has such a  variety of anchorages that we wanted to come back and spend more time here.

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The view from our boat as 2016 arrived.

Specifically we wanted to spend New Year’s Eve in English Harbour where we would be surrounded by the history of Nelson’s Dockyard as 2015 became history and we ushered in 2016.

Nelson’s Dockyard, a National Park, is the only continually working Georgian Shipyard in the world.  The first recorded ship to enter English Harbour was “Dover Castle” in 1671 and by 1707, English navel ships used the harbor regularly. The first dockyard, St. Helena, was constructed around 1728. Building of what currently exists and is Nelson’s Dockyard began around 1740 by enslaved labor from nearby plantations.

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Approaching Nelson’s from the inland street. Photobomb by Captain.

The dockyard was named after Admiral Horatio Nelson who lived there from 1784-1787.  According to our tour guide “Q,” Nelson was not well liked and actually lived on his boat in the harbor rather than in the dockyard as he was afraid he would be killed by local workers.

The buildings have been restored and are open for business today.  Often the buildings house businesses that are similar to the original, just modernized.

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This canal was used to bring sails to the loft for repair.

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Rules on the guard house included, “avoid being out at improper hours.”

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Quaint streets lead to the docks.

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Landscaping outside what was once the hospital and is now a hotel.

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Today Customs and Immigration is in the buildings to the left.

The building on the right in the above picture once housed officers on the second floor on the right side.  The left side of the second floor held dead bodies until they were buried.

It wasn’t all history and fireworks in English Harbour. We also rode bikes up to Shirley Heights, the former military signal station where soldiers would use signal flags to communicate information about approaching ships to forts as far away as St. John.

It was a steep bike ride to the highest point on this part of Antigua.Eng above

Shirley Heights, a bird’s eye view of English and Falmouth Harbours.

We also walked to Falmouth Harbour for a visit to West Marine and a bit of exercise.  Beautiful views popped out along the road way.

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Along the main road in Falmouth.

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Salt and pepper shakers at the Yacht Club

These were the salt and pepper shakers at our breakfast spot. I guess even the condiments find love in Falmouth Harbour.

In addition to all this history and sight seeing, we met and talked to a lot of cruisers.  It was great getting to know so many new people. A special thanks to Roger and Lynne aboard Schatzi who gave us excellent information concerning pet entry into countries south of here.

The final and most unique aspect to our English Harbour visit was the invitation to join a family for dinner on their yacht. This family was incredibly generous and shared their table and their religious traditions with us. It was an evening we will remember and cherish forever.

 

It’s Not All Rainbows…Peal Back the Glasses.

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Jolly Harbour with it’s flat water looked like heaven!

Admittedly, we are beyond blessed to have the opportunity to live on LIB and have these adventures. I know Facebook and blogs tend to make cruising look like an idyllic, lazy lifestyle.  And it certainly can be.

But let’s be realistic for just a minute; peal back the rose colored lens and share with you our trip from St. Martin to Antigua.

December is the time for “Christmas winds” in the Caribbean which means the wind is strong! Add to this the fact that Antigua is south east of St. Martin which meant going there would be sailing into the wind because the wind usually comes from the east. We were facing a pretty miserable trip.

So when we saw a slight north predicted in the wind on December 27th, we decided to grab it and hope we could sail fairly close to our rhumb line to Antigua.

The good news is that there actually was a bit of north in the wind. The bad news is that the winds, which were predicted to be around 20 knots, were consistently above 25 knots and usually were around 29 knots.  The highest wind speed we saw was 41 knots during one of the several squalls we faced.

Next, combine the delightful winds and squalls with waves that were 8-10 feet until we were an hour from Antigua.

As if this weren’t enough, the passage is about 88 miles which means we sailed overnight.

The final piece de resistance is seasickness. Yep, I prepared by taking Meclizine the night before but I didn’t take it during the trip because I wanted to be awake and able to help. Bad planning on my part. I would have been more help working sleepily than I was because I was too ill to do much more than a one or two hour shift.

So, that is the bad part. There were actually some good things too.

~The moon was beautiful and FULL! This meant visibility was excellent – so I could see those big waves heading toward us. 😉

~The wind had enough north in it that we were able to sail pretty directly to our destination without tacking.

~We were cautious with our sail area. We had double reefed the main and our jib was also shorted. So even though the motion was rough, between our reduced sail area and heading up into the wind to reduce forces, we were safe.

~We arrived pretty quickly – we were along the Antigua shore after about 17 hours.

~We love Jolly Harbour and it is a beautifully calm anchorage!

All in all, the trip to Antigua was not fun for me, though Frank fared much better!

Still, we will be around Antigua for about a month and our next several sails should be with the wind instead of against it.

So, next time you are looking at a blog or FB page and everyone else seems to be having these amazing, beautiful, idyllic, exciting lives…. remember, you are only seeing the rosy bits.

Anyone else care to share a less than perfect sail story?

 

 

 

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