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More Virgin Islands

We spent a few nights at Rod Hook in American Yacht Harbour Marina. The shops, restaurants and other buildings here ware not so damaged, or been mostly repaired so it was quite nice.  After that we sailed with Sundowner to a few bays around St John Island, Rendevous and Little Lameshur that was beautiful and quiet with turtles popping their heads up everywhere. Most of St Johns is National Parks and they have put mooring buoys everywhere. In the past you paid for these at a floating kiosk but the hurricanes blew the kiosks all away so effectively they are free! We said goodbye to Howard and Sue, they are off to the Bahamas on their way to America for hurricane season. Pete and I went off to Watermelon Bay via Coral Harbour where we snorkelled round a little island that prior to the hurricanes must have been the most lovely coral gardens. Still some fans and brain corals left but there is damage everywhere and dead coral broken off all around. The dive industry here will be wrecked for many many years. Makes you think about all the fuss re humans impacting on the reefs when something like Irma can take them all out in 10 hours! There are next to no boats around. Mooring fields of 20 plus buoys are empty except for us and usually only one or two other boats. Nice for us.  We are now bobbing around on a free Parks buoy in Hawksnest Bay with good internet via AT&T getting some communication going. Even with all the repair work and 6 months on most landlines are still out and wifi patchy where normally it would have been readily available and good.

We have a couple from Pesacola joining us for the ARC Europe. Bobbie and Neil. They are looking for some blue water experience before buying a boat and setting off round the world. My nieces boyfriend is set to come as well so with 5 of us the night watches will be doddle! We leave on 5 May for the first leg up to Bermuda.

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BVI's and USVI's

We waited in Road Harbour, Tortola for the washing machine for a few weeks in the end thanks to delays with getting the container unloaded etc etc. We used the time well though and offloaded a lot of unused unnecessary items from the boat. It worked out well as many of the people with damaged boats or who had bought damaged boats cheap were happy to take them. The boat floats noticeably higher in the water!

We met an Australian lady Bobbi who has lived here for ages and she drove us around while she dropped off copies of the tourist book that she edits. Pete also managed to order and get delivered new hatch screens for all of our hatches. The old ones haven’t worked properly for years and were very frustrating. 

 

The last few days that we were in Road Harbour, Howard and Sue on Sundowner arrived from Antigua. We went to lunch at Captain’s Kitchen run by an Australia lady charter skipper who decided to try her hand at a restaurant. Very nice.

I’ve been experimenting with bread making to save trying to keep bread on board for longer passages with some success – never done it before. I also made some naan bread…..

We’ve been sailing around the BVI’s since with Sundowner taking in Marina Cays (no coral left at all), Gorda Sound, The Baths and Jost van Dyke. We both checked out of there a week ago and are now in The USVI’s. We have to get our life raft repacked for the ARC Europe by May and it is out of repack life. Pete managed to get one from a wrecked yacht in Tortola so we have saved some big money there but it still has to get repacked here in St Thomas. Howard and Sue have to get a new starter motor here too so in amongst all the lying around, swimming and eating and drinking there are always jobs! Their engine failed to start on one of our trips so we hove to while Howard got it fixed for a few hours (see pics).

We are now in a cute little place called Christmas Cove where they have a Pizza boat that you dinghy over to and buy pizza! Pretty cool. We are all having one for lunch today

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To Tampa and back - not sailing!

We messed around in Charlotte Amalie for a few days. Mostly undamaged by the hurricanes and full of little alley way streets and shops. We stupidly wandered in to a Persian rug emporium and only just escaped without a boat load of rugs “at a very good never to be repeated cheaper that Europe” price.

We sailed back to Jost Van Dyke and checked back in to the BVI’s and a quick drink at the Soggy Dollar where we ran in to a couple we met at the WARC reunion in Iceland! and then back to Tortola where we left the boat for 10 days while we flew to Tampa. Pete had a dermatology appointment to follow up on his level 2 melanoma in Australia last October. I decided to have a check too and it was me that ended up with a 5 stitch excision! We stayed with an old work colleague and friend Tom and wife Lisa. They were great hosts and we ate and drank far too much! Super Bowl was on while we were there so that was a fun evening with a bunch of Americans in front of the TV. There is an Aussie lady who has opened a pie shop just down the road from tom’s so Pete got a meat pie fix. We also managed to buy a few things for the boat that we were having trouble getting in the Caribbean including a new washing machine! Our old one just kept on filling – not a good thing on a boat. Anyway we think we have it shipped from Amazon and now on a boat to Tortola where we are now waiting for it -  with fingers crossed as nothing goes smoothly around her at the best of times never mind after two hurricanes. A lot of people here still do now have power after 4 months and the internet is unreliable and land lines just not working mostly. The British government has committed a few billions but the government here is apparently so corrupt that they have to give it to the Governor to spend!! It will take years and years to fix all the infrastructure here. There are two official tip sites that are quite huge where people can take their wreckage – both more than a kilometre long and many stories high already.

 

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To the British Virgin Islands

We sailed and motored pretty much all the way here. Overnight to Sint Maarten with a great wind and a full moon. This area has been hard hit by the hurricanes. Boats all over the place – on beaches upside down on the top of ruined jetties and marinas. Every building has some sign of damage and most of it quite great. Another full moon sail got us to Tortola in the BVI’s. this area is even in a worse state than Sint Maarten and St Matrin. Boats, cars and bits of buildings piled up everywhere and it’s nearly 4 months later!

We left Road Harbour where we had checked in (with difficulty for some officious reason) and went to Trellis Bay where the airport is just a short track up from the beach. The buildings here are wrecked too but one shop and bar were operating. The scuba gear was delivered to us by car as the dive company has lost their boat. My nephew Sam (Mandy’s son) missed a connection from Boston but arrived the next morning. Over the next 5 days we snorkelled lots and Pete and Sam scuba dived on “Wreck Alley” on Cooper Island, a bunch of deliberately sunk boats and the “Rhone” on Salt Island which was a mail ship sunk in a hurricane. It is a great shame to see all the hurricane damage and people still not in their homes or businesses. Some properties are just piles of rubble or only foundations left. The upside for us was that there are next to no charter boats or even private boats here so moorings and anchorage spaces are plentiful and on both dives there was not one other person in the water! Normally it would be super crowded at this time of year. We hope for the locals that by Easter more will be up and running and repaired. We did manage to find a couple of bars and restaurants ashore so had a few island happy hours with “Painkillers”. We sailed tacking all over back to Trellis Bay by which time Sam was quite the sailor! He flew out on 13th Jan back to a very cold Boston. 

 

Pete and I continued on to Jost Van Dyke to the legendary “Foxy’s” which was well open and fully supported by sailing people. This is one of two iconic watering holes in the BVI’s where it is obligatory, mandatory and even compulsory to lose a few brain cells. We even met the famous Foxy who has an Aussie wife! He has a very amusing and not at all politically correct view of the world that he shares at the bar and in a few made up songs. A very good day (and the next night) oh well….

 

We are now in Charlotte Amalie in the USVI’s having had a stupidly irritating session at customs where a large lady called Christopher told us we had the wrong visas and delayed and went off to see someone and came back and stamped us in???!!! We had tried to check in at St Johns but having anchored the boat gone ashore and found that the building was trashed and not operating had to get to St Thomas by 4.30 so all a bit frustrating.  Never mind tomorrow will be another day.

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Season's Greetings

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!

We’ve been moving slowly north after waiting in Rodney Bay for a part for the auto pilot to come ever so unreliably from Martinique via ferry. It would have been faster to sail there and pick it up in the end! Spent some days in Ste Anne as Dave and Anna were there on their new boat Tamarisk so there were a few visits, meals and drinks back and forth there. Came away from Leader Price with super French wines and so cheap after Trinidad. We overnight sailed with Sundowner past Dominica to the Saintes for a week over Christmas. Christmas was spent at lovely Islet a Cabrits in the Saintes (Guadeloupe). We locked the boat up, put the air con on and had a full English lunch with some English friends Howard and Sue who we met in Trinidad. (Sundowner) On Boxing Day we took left overs ashore and ate them in the company of chooks, goats and cats. Lots of swims in beautifully clear waters. We also all hired a buggy and went around the island. It doesn’t take long! So we ended up at a long lunch…..Another overnight sail and had New Year in Jolly Harbour in Antigua We are now just about to leave here for an overnight to Saint Martin. My nephew, Sam, is joining us in Tortola for a week and he and Pete plan to do some wreck scuba dives.

 

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I do, I do, we did!

Well, now, here is the secret we have been keeping with some sort of success – Pete and I got married on the 4 December at Ladera Resort in St Lucia! It is a very St Lucian but 5 star place high in the rainforest in the Pitons. These are two very iconic local remains of a massive volcanic eruption and are a landmark from both the sea and the land. The day was lovely, with just the two of us in our suite and we kept it quite casual.  Ladera provided a “wedding package” as we had booked a week that included a cake and a bridal arch. I was  bit concerned about the arch (wondering if it might be plastic fake wrought iron with vinyl ivy) but it turned out to lovely with lush local greenery and flowers. The cake was interesting – choice of banana, chocolate, carrot or vanilla. See the pics – say no more. Our celebrant was a local lady, Imogene, who struck a very nice mix of serious, kind and cautionary – if that makes sense. Our witness was the Ladera lady who organised everything named Obediah Saltibus! We kept to the traditional vows leaving out the “obey” bit obviously but I’m sure Pete would have liked to slip in “to not be so bossy” and I may have liked to seen “to tidy up”.

 The resort was a wonderful place to stay with beautiful botanic grounds and super friendly and efficient staff – we had two butlers available by the provided mobile phone and housekeeping had a real sense of humour. The building are all made of local rainforest timber and locally carved, they have a woodshop on the site where they make all the furniture even.

So, sorry to all the friends and family who may have liked a party or to be matrons of honour, bridesmaids and pageboys……..

The boat was left at Capella resort at Marigot Bay and it behaved itself while we were away. We are back on board now and waiting to see if the Europe ARC needs any help on the finish line in the next week or so up at Rodney Bay..

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The Windward Isles again

Here we are back in the Windward isles after a very good experience at Power Boats in Trinidad – it has quite restored our faith in the Caribbean trades/technical people, albeit probably temporarily. The oil got cleaned off and we sailed straight through to here. Two easy nights and one day. We still managed to pick up some of that weird tape stuff in our port engine! Pete has now installed inline filtres to both sides so he can catch it earlier. One day we will have to cut a bigger hole in the fuel tank and give it a really good clean. What happens now when we have had the fuel cleaned the bits of tape just stick to the sides and come free later.  We had planned to go to Martinique but sailed up the western side of St Lucia so it was easy to stop in at Rodney Bay. We got the dinghy in the water to go to immigration and found the outboard wouldn’t keep running so in the end we brought the big boat in and are at one of their berths. Not unhappy about that as the marina is good and has a swimming pool. I’ve got myself up to 16 lengths a day sometimes twice a day. Luckily the 2 for 1 bar is closed at the moment! That sort of makes up for not being in a lovely bay and swimming in the sea.  The outboard is now fixed and we’re getting a part from Martinique for the auto pilot, so good timing really as we know the mechanic here as he was the one who got us our new generator. We’ve met an Australian couple (Jonine and Vic on Pearline) who were leading us astray but thankfully now for our livers they have left to go and buy wine and cheese in Martinique. Marie and Gary are here too - who we have been seeing on and off for the past two years. They are heading back to live in Australia for the next while. They sold the boat in record time for a very good price thanks to the short supply after the hurricanes. Pity we don’t want to sell!

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Back in Trinidad

Here we are in Chaguaramas at Power Boats again. The odd bits and pieces of work and maintenance have been finished and we are back in the water ready to go. But……the day before our planned departure there was an oil spill somewhere in the bay and the boat is filthy all around the waterline and back steps! They had a spill while we were away so it is not clear if this was a new one or a wash up of the previous. However Power Boats have offered to rehaul us for an afternoon and supply people to clean. The oil which is really heavy nasty black dirty looking stuff, which may be engine oil and not crude, has actually penetrated the gel coat and is not just sitting on the surface. It may take some cleaning. Very disheartening for us and the guys who had worked hard getting the boat in perfect condition for our return. We really appreciated Don’s offer to clean it up for us. Most of the boats in C Dock are affected. No one really knows how the first spill happened various stories are out and about, including one where the fuel line to the ferry fell out while still pumping, but our stuff looks used so may be a new spill. The government made degreaser available at no charge for the first spill so we have some of that.

Apart from all that we have been out for lunches with Howard and Sue from Sundowner and caught up with others at the weekly BBQ. We went for a lovely walk to the Cane Cathedral and made a few trips to the Mall which is already done up for Christmas.

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Last of Oz

The Australia trip wound up with a visit to Melbourne. In the end only I went as Pete had left it till the last week to go for a skin check. The doctor found a stage 2 melanoma that had to be dealt with as a matter of urgency and Pete couldn’t travel. It’s a big incision with 14 stitches. I had a great time catching up my son, Rupert, who is living there now managing a backpackers hotel, and with my brother’s family, (he was in Luxembourg) seeing Oscar our crew member from Australia to Cape Town who is now 17, his sister Ella and my sister in law, Annabelle. We all went to a crazy pub called the “King of Tonga” which has Tongan things all around but serves Tiger beer?! Rupert and I went to the “Maori Chief” just for fun too. The weather, as on my UK trip was very mild so my big warm jacket I bought in Iceland still didn’t get used….

Our flights home were very tiring without a break between – just straight from one gate to the next for each of the 4 flights. We arrived back in Port of Spain at 10.30pm and had none of the anticipated trouble with customs thankfully. I think they all just wanted to get the last flight cleared and go home. The boat was fine and had been well looked after. We are staying in one of the yard’s units again till we go back in the water.

 

 

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Back in Oz - Part 2

We’ve now been back to the Island again with friends from Moore Park Beach, Angela and Andrew. We fitted the awnings with a lot of swearing and dropping of tools! (the dopey manufacturers didn’t supply any screws and that didn’t help) They look great and work on the afternoon sun. Luckily the fire ban was lifted so we were able to burn the old blinds and sit by a good fire in the evening – a little bit cool surprisingly. I dug around a few garden beds (Australian gardens do not like to be gardened and fight back) got scratches and stings and hot enough for a swim. Pete got an unused and seized up whipper snipper and a leaf blower going! Kerry came over for a night of debauchery by at the fire pit just before we left and travelled back with us on the barge.

We’ve just been up to Moore Park Beach and Bundaberg to check on a few things in the most appalling weather and would have been flooded in had we wanted to leave on the second day. The water was down fortunately when we wanted to leave though and we got out. On the first day of all the bad weather Pete had been booked to do his yachting International Competency Certificate out on Moreton Bay – it was cancelled – 40 knot winds……Now to be done one day before we leave!

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Back in Oz - Part 1

We’re having a busy time back in Australia! (staying at the apartment in Kangaroo Point, the grounds are looking lovely). Lots of appointments for health check ups (all good for both – phew), lots of friends to catch up with and for me a trip to the UK in the middle of it as, sadly, my Mother passed away on 2 September. My sister and brother flew over too and we all managed to meet up at Heathrow within an hour of each other, so that made it easy to get to Henley on Thames. Obviously we had the task of clearing out her flat but it went as well as could be expected and got done in the 6 days that we had there. We had a lovely afternoon/evening with the other residents who had been her friends for the last 5 or 6 years. Whilst there we all caught up with our Italian brother in law, Enrico. We had a great lunch and afternoon at the St George and the Dragon.

Pete did his tax paperwork while I was away (Lucky me to miss all the grumps that usually entails!)

Pete and I have made a trip to his house at Cowan Cowan on Moreton Island and measured up for some awnings, took over a new BBQ and relaxed. Terry and Liz joined us for a few days. There have been some wild tides and the front dune had been eaten away up to the deck! One of the neighbours had organised a backhoe to push some sand back so we benefitted from that. The beach there comes and goes quite dramatically sometimes. There was a total fire ban so no fire pit nights this trip. The property is being very well managed by the agents and has many repeat bookings.

We’ve also managed to fit in Pete’s sister Kerry’s 60 birthday, a trip to the Gold Coast to see my brother’s in laws (Georgia managed to lock herself out of the house – see pics) and a night with Gina and Rod in Surfers Paradise. So busy, busy and still a month to go when I get back. Which will include a trip to Melbourne to see my son and a visit to Moore Park Beach. I’m right now at Heathrow airport waiting 4 hours for my flight.

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Last of Trinidad - off to Oz

We’ve had a really busy few weeks here. The workmanship has been so good that we have far exceeded our planned upgrades and maintenance. The experience in PowerBoats has been really good. The management even took a big group of us out to dinner in Port of Spain. We’ve had fun too with the other boat owners here. Shared a car one day with Sue and Howard from Sundowner and shopped, lunched and drove over to the other side of the island. For the first time we have met Australians who have actually sailed from Australia – Alex and Joni on Raptor and Ganilla and Tony on Katerina. The others we have met bought their boats here or in Europe. Wine here is hideously expensive – we wish we’d stocked up in Martinique. I had thought that being closer to Argentina and Chile that it may have been cheap. A 3 litre fairly ordinary cask is $TT250.00 (about $AUD45.00) With bottles starting at $TT120.00. The supermarket group called Massy is excellent and the one store we go to in West Mall has the best range of products that we have seen anywhere.

This weekend there has been a massive speed boat race to Tobago (the fastest boat gets there in one hour) and the locals have all gone mad, with boats in the water everywhere. Here at PowerBoats they have been putting boats in the water every few minutes. They have a big dry stack set up and the tractors never stop hauling.

We are on the hard now and have a big plastic tent over the boat. Last year we had some water damage from skin fitting leaks so thought that this would be a good idea – which it is. We have booked in to one of the apartments here for this week as the boat is a huge mess withal the work going on. Ours overlooks the water and is very comfortable with a little balcony to watch all the comings and goings.

Back to Australia now in a few days for 10 weeks whilst the hurricane season passes. It’s a pity we didn’t know that there is a rally to Guyana and French Guyana that takes place in September as we would have done it before coming home – oh well, another time.

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More T and T

We’ve been having a mix of frustration and satisfaction here in Trinidad. The satisfaction has come from very good, competent workmanship on the jobs we have had scheduled (unlike Grenada Marine last year where next to nothing got done properly if at all). The guys here turn up on time, stick to their quotes and get the job done. We’ve had the lot too - from refrigeration to electronics to wood work. The inside fridge and the freezer are going like new! Where we had thought they may need replacing. We ordered a few cabinets from Lagoon to replace a few damaged ones and a new cupboard for our side that we had never had. The guys installing them are also redoing the South African repair from when the wave smashed our bulkhead south of Madagascar.

The frustrations have come from government departments – of course, I hear you say. We spent 6 hours at customs to get the cabinets cleared for us to take. I cannot begin to explain the pathetic work ethic, lack of organisation and communication that went on. I was on the inside trying to get paperwork through while Pete (who wasn’t allowed in as he was in shorts – big dress code thing!) Waited outside in the heat with the driver and truck for the whole time.

I managed to keep my cool – just. Otherwise I would probably still be there while someone went go-slow to “show me”. I already experienced that for an hour because the guy made a mistake and didn’t like the fact that he got corrected on it. Not by me. Even so we still had to clear again once we got the package back to Chaguaramas! But that part went smoothly, thank God. The box looked like a big coffin – there were a few customs people I would cheerfully have put in it.

The next frustrating event was the US Embassy. We arrived early, but you can’t arrive more than 15 minutes early and cannot wait in the security zone. So we sat in a gutter around the corner outside an office block where there was some shade. Then, having stood in the queue, I got in and was told that you cannot take a cell phone in but you can’t leave it with security either but there is a photo place around the corner that will hold them for you for $US15. So Pete had to grab my phone and his and zoom off round the corner so we didn’t lose our place. No one thought to tell us this when we were in the queue and it was not on their web site. Anyway it finally all got done, finger prints, interview etc and the visas have arrived.

So – we still haven’t been tourists yet. To and from West mall to get money to pay people and the odd bit of grocery shopping is all. The Marinas here are quite sociable and various activities go on like BBQ at the Roti Hut on Thursdays, jam sessions at Peak’s and Power Boats, Texas chain dominoes, yoga, to name a few.  The marinas have a variety of restaurants between them and also little supermarkets and chandleries, so very good really.

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Trinidad and Tobago

We sailed to Trinidad over two nights and one day arriving safely exactly as per our float plan. You are advised to submit a float plan to the TT coastguard when sailing here because of a few pirate attacks on boats in 2015. The pirates are from Venezuela (that you can see from here) and operate around two oil platforms. We had avoided that area when we sailed from Brazil to Grenada with the ARC and sailed well east this time too. The first night was horribly squally and tiring but the second night was lovely and calm with good wind and ¾ moon. Perfect conditions for spotting pirates. We had planned to be here on the 17th but sailed early as hurricanes were starting to form. Luckily neither of then turned into anything. We are at PowerBoats in Chaguaramas in their marina section. So far we have not seen much of Trinidad as we have been busy getting quotes for work to be done, including it seems a new Raymarine system – ours is 10 years old and is at the stage where you can’t get parts. The guy here says it will fail before long as the screen goes black from time to time!

The new ones sound brilliant and wifis to ipads etc, has really good radar including sea bed readings and lots more. $$$$$$$$$ as well of course!

At the moment we have a refrigeration mechanic pulling our fridge to bits to see why there is water underneath all the time – well, actually we know why but can it be fixed? It will be a scary moment when it comes out……

Our two trips to Port of Spain have been interesting to say the least. One hour on a hot bus/maxi taxi stuffed with people and loud religious music playing nonstop. Having said that - the system works well and is very cheap, just exhausting. We had to get visa photos done for our US visa application for arriving in US territories (US Virgin Island and Puerto Rico) by private boat. We have an interview next week. For us to do this is Australia we would have had to gone to Sydney, so I suppose this is easier?

 

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Heading south

We’ve spent the past few weeks hanging around Martinique. A few days were waiting to see if the potential hurricane heading towards Trinidad was going to affect us. As it turned out it became a tropical storm and although Trinidad copped wind and rain it was no danger to even Grenada, a fair way further south than us. We stayed at Anse Mitan then tried to visit Trois Islets but the holding was poor and it seemed to be a dumping ground for abandoned boats – not sure why but nearly all the anchored boats were stripped down and in very sad repair. Bit depressing. So we overnighted in Anse a L’Ane and sailed to Marin. Here we caught up with Dave and Anna on their new boat,Tamarisk. They’ve gone from a 38’ to 56’ which they picked up in Fort Lauderdale and sailed back. Plenty of new stuff to get used to! And lots to spend at chandleries……they bought a collapsible dinghy back on the plane from England as oversize luggage and got it through. It’s hard to imagine when you see it expanded. But then people cart around double bases, kite surfers and golf gear. We’re going across the bay to Sainte Anne for a bit today then off to St Lucia.

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Iceland

We have just had a week here for a World ARC reunion organised by one of our boats, Hugur (Svanfridur and Kristofer).  They own 6 hotels in the centre of Reykjavik, the capital, and we all stayed in Arnarhvoll, right on the waterfront just by the Opera House. Our flight arrived in Keflavik, a 40minute bus trip to the city through desolate lava fields. Iceland is the newest island in Europe and still has many (like 3000 plus a year) earthquakes and the volcanoes are active!

There were welcome drinks and dinner for the early bird arrivals at their Isafold Hotel for about 15 of us. Really great to see some of the team again. After that we decided that drinks in the Sky restaurant back at the Arnarhvoll might be a good idea…….it was winter sun 24 hours a day here, and next thing we knew it was well past midnight and still bright. Not much help with jetlag!

 

The next day most of the others had arrived (including Nicola and the kids at 2 am) and we all had drinks at the Plaza hotel and Svanfridur and Kristofer did a “skippers briefing” reminiscent of our ARC ones at the beginning of each leg. We had a Skype link up with Makena who couldn’t make it as Sara is very pregnant. We all had a welcome dinner at the Arnarhvoll. The lamb here is lean and so tasty- the sheep graze on herbs and it makes the meat really flavoursome. In the morning I bought a good jacket as the one I had borrowed from my Mother in England had a broken zip. Not a good idea in these temperatures…..even though it is summer the days are between 8 to 11 degrees,

On Saturday a bus picked us all up (39 of us) and we visited Deildartunguhver (really, the names here!) where there are Europe’s most powerful hot springs, they power many nearby homes and businesses. We also saw the waterfalls at Borgarfjordur that flow across old lava flows as rapids that burst through rather than conventional waterfalls.

Next, after a lunch stop, we went to the Langjokull glacier and into the world’s largest ice caves and tunnels that are manmade right into the middle of a live moving glacier! I kept very calm and ignored my claustrophobia……bit difficult, but the tunnels were wide and bright so OK ish.  Very interesting if scary. I was not the only one a bit spooked by the whole thing. They are a new tourist attraction and hugely popular. We travelled up the glacier to the caves in a big 4WD that used to be a missile launcher in Germany. Afterwards the tour guide told us all sorts of stories about how many people, cars, trucks etc had crashed through into crevasses – lovely.

The day finished with another fabulous meal, at Svanfridur and Kristofer’s home, in the garden – they had a lovely warm conservatory to sit in when it got too cold.

Sunday – we all went off in a convoy of rental cars to the Blue Lagoon hot springs. A super organised complex of hot pools set in a natural lava setting. You swim, float, drift over to a mud bar and keep a big gloop of silicone mud face mask to put on. We stayed in for about 2 hours getting wrinkly hands and feet but beautifully smooth faces! It was freezing out (10 degrees) so the dash to the change rooms was chilly. Some intrepid (foolish) people had their phoneswith them in the pools for photos, but I didn't - we get into enough trouble with our phones as it is.

Svanfridur has an all electric car and it won’t make it to the lagoon and back so we stopped to charge it an IKEA store where they have a super charging station that took 20 minutes. We had a long farewell lunch at the Miogardur Hotel in the Jorgensen restaurant. This is named after a man in history who tried to take over Iceland for himself at one stage (and succeeded for about 3 months) but was chased off by the British. He then went on to discover if Tasmania was an island or not. It was this connection between Iceland and Australia that caused Svanfridur and Kristofer to name this restaurant, as at the time it opened they were in Australia with the World ARC. The remains of the reunion went out for dinner and drinks.

On Monday Pete and I slept in very late with the blackout curtains pulled and tried to recover. In the afternoon we got a couple of tickets for a hop on hop off bus around Reykjavik and went to the Maritime and Viking museums. Very well presented and informative. We sneaked in to the SKY restaurant for a quiet dinner but of course ran into a few of the others………..

 

Tuesday was our last day with the flight to Paris at 1 am Wednesday. Lucky we checked as we had it in our minds that it was 1 pm on Wednesday! We finished off our hop on hop off ticket in the morning by going to the Phallic Museum. Yes - a Penis Museum. Unsurprisingly perhaps, the only one in the world. It has a big collection of dried, pickled, preserved, whatever, samples from whales to elephants to man. Yes – someone donated one. Apparently the museum advertised internationally and it was quite a big deal at the time, but I must have missed it. Then we spent ages wandering around town trying to find my jacket shop so we could get the receipt for tax back at the airport. It’s about 20% so quite worthwhile. We had lunch in the city centre and Pete managed to get to eat Minke whale and puffin (see pics)– I thought it was a bit creepy and he said that they were a bit tasteless. Thane and Brenda let us use their room for a nap before heading off to the airport which was very welcome (the hotel was booked out so a late check out wasn’t an option). The hotel business that S and K is involved in is just about all tourists. Iceland Air offers stop overs on flights for no extra charge and this creates a big influx of American and European tourists.

 

Our flights back were the usual combination of boring, tiring and lots of lugging luggage as we had to change from Orly to Charles de Gaulle. The boat was fine upon our return and we collapsed into a lovely early dark night. Iceland was a great experience. The next reunion is to be organised by the Aretha team in London then by Allegro in Portugal. Our turn will come.

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UK visit late May

I spent a week in the UK visiting my Mother. Arrivng the day after the Manchester bombing and leaving the day before the London terrorist attacks! Interestingly, Heathrow did not seem to be under a big security alert but the Paris airports were. Heavily armed soldiers and security were very obvious. My Mother was glad to see me and my sister Amanda and brother Mark were both there too so we all had a family reunion. The weather was beautiful and Henley on Thames very pretty and getting ready for the Henley Regatta on next month. Mark drove me to London on the last day and we visited Shirley (our father’s wife) and caught up on news of that side of the family. Mandy spent a few days there too attending a chocolate making course where she received accolades from the tasting judge for her blend that she makes in Santa Fe. Mandy's two children and their partners were there too for a few days. I saw Georgia but missed Sam by a few hours.

Pete spent the week on the boat doing loads of paperwork and generally keeping out of trouble, I think. He met me at the airport with flowers and champagne back on board – lovely.

A week to get over the jet lag and we head off to Iceland for the World ARC reunion.

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Martinique May 2017

We’ve been in Martinique now since early May. Arrived in St Pierre and went to stock up at their very good market. We have been playing around with methods of catching rain water for the tanks instead of always having to make fresh water. One plan was to just put a bucket under the drip line at the front then tip it into the tanks but that involved lots of running around in the rain and often at night. We have now adapted our sun shade at the front to pour water into a bucket that has a hose attachment fitted to the side to syphon directly into the tanks. Of course it hasn’t rained properly since then! It should work really well as the catchment area is huge – the top two levels of the boat and the whole area of the shade sail. The syphon hose really slurps the water away even when there is only a tiny amount in the bucket.

One day we went for a long hot walk to the Depaz Distillery and wandered around there ending up in a tasting and lunch.

Next we sailed down to Anse Mitan and caught up with Lisa and Jean Luc who we have met a few times now. Kayaked and swam a lot here. The marina had forgotten or messed up our booking and Jean Luc was able to sort it out for us as he has been in it for years – lucky for us as we are depending on being here for when I go to England and then we both go to Iceland for our World ARC reunion – phew. It is quite a new joint community/government/EU venture and still quite cheap. At least half the price of Marin down at Ste Anne.

 

On the 13th we celebrated being away sailing for 2 years!

We’ve rented a car (a great price thanks to Jean Luc) and have been exploring places that we can’t get to by boat ie up mountains and the east coast . A really nice island with excellent roads and highways. We notice that the French have influenced baguette making, croissants and the driving! Fabulous food in the big super markets too.

I’m off to the UK to see my Mother for a week tomorrow. My brother Mark and sister Mandy will be there too – a bit of a family reunion!

 

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Les Saintes and Dominica

At Le Saintes again. We bypassed Deshailles (Guadeloupe) and went straight to an overnight at Pigeon Island as the anchorage in Deshailles is terrible. We continued on down to Les Saintes where we met up with Ali and Steve from Manx Goose at Isle de Cabrits. Great to see them again after so long (November) so there was lots of catching up – drinks, dinners, lunches, swims and Pete and Steve did a dive and got a lion fish. (you spear them as they hide under rocks) These got here from Australia and are pests as they have no natural predators.  In Australia there is probably a million things that eat them. The locals are now encouraged to eat them to try to control their numbers and many of the restaurants feature lion fish dishes. We had ours as little bite sized battered nibbles – really nice. After 10 days we went our separate ways again. Manx Goose north and us south.

Put in a few days at Dominica in Prince Rupert Bay. It’s a lovely unspoilt island and we went on another trip to a waterfall through lush rainforest. The guide (Providence) stopped at a cute little village called Dublanc where we had a rum at the world’s smallest bar and where all the houses are tiny but absolute beachfront. The local people here mostly enjoy a very nice laid back lifestyle – washing their clothes in the river while they chat on their mobile phones. There are these neat little cake things called johnny cakes that I am going to make. They are originally American Indian but are a main snack food, meal extra throughout these islands. Providence is a botanist and showed us lots of leaves and barks that are used traditionally for everything from prostate disease to shingles and broken bones. There is an American medical school here but he says they don’t want to know! The roads are good and apparently the Chines paid for the main highway to be resurfaced..???? I’m sure they got something in return.

Off to Martinique next.

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Monserrat

Sailed for Monserrat on 18th, a bit of a wild ride with the wind on the nose the whole way. The port engine stopped about a mile out (that contaminated fuel again, even though we had the tank cleaned!) I managed to anchor OK and Pete cleared the blockage. The same strange tape stuff was in it again?!

Pete had to practically throw me onto the dock and stand off as it was too swelly to tie the dinghy up. Interesting getting to and fro here in this weather. The next day when we took a tour of the volcano we had to time between swells and drag the dinghy up a boat ramp. We saw the old capital Plymouth that was ruined by the mud slide associated with the big eruptions of 1997. Many of the houses in the capitol and nearby villages had to be abandoned even though they were not actually damaged. Just had to leave with an overnight bag. Our tour driver is still very emotional about it as his whole village was one that had to be abandoned. We drove through it. The government has ploughed the roads out so people could get back in the salvage their belongings to help them build again and start over. Some went to England.  There is still hot flow coming down the mountain all the time, we could see it from the boat as we left. The last eruption was only 2010, so still active and monitored 24/7 from the observatory by an international ream.

Left for Les Saintes on April 20.

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