Martinique, Saint-Pierre, Sainte-Anne 21-11 / 12-12

We have a lovely sail from Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe to Saint-Pierre in the north of Martinique. We skip Dominica on this trip we will visit it later in the season. Saint-Pierre is a city which used to be known as Paris of the Caribbean before the eruption of the volcano in 1902, only one person, a prisoner survived protected by the thick walls of the prison, its still there. The city is built up on the same foundations and the statue of La Virgin des Marins which was not destroyed just wiped of her feet, stands on here old foundation looking out over the sea, she is lightened at night.

We hiked to the statue and there is a little chapel underneath her where you can light a candle as we did. We also hiked to another interesting place, the distillery of Depaz, an hour walk from the bay. It is situated very beautifully under the feet of the mount Pelé and you can follow a route and see how the rum is fabricated. Of course, you end with the tasting of al differed aged rum, to much alcohol for me but the ti-punch they make is very nice.

On the terrain of the distillery there is also a nice restaurant called Le Moulin à Cannes where you can have a nice meal for € 18, =, starter and main or main and dessert and walking back is only downhill 😊. Most of the boats stay here for only one day, it’s a perfect spot to clear in and out, cost you nothing and from here its easy to go to Dominica or the south of Martinique. We have to go back to see the underwater world, there are 14 shipwrecks and a statue underwater garden and the water is incredibly clear. Next stop for us is Sainte-Anne, a little bit nostalgic. We arrived here after our crossing three years ago, not much is changed except a lot of buys to guide the dinghies to the pontoon. Its like we were here just a few weeks ago, the busses are still driving to Le Marin on the same hour, the laundry, the bakery and the supermarket with the grilled chicken, it is still like it was. The clearance is still at Boubou costs are increased from € 2, = to € 3, = and he is closed at Wednesday as he always was. New is the cruisers net on VHF 08 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8.30.

Well with all our French meals we have to do some exercises and hiking is easy here, but after we arrive at Les Salines and maps.me tells us that we have to do another 10 kilometres we decide according our calves to go back. Next Sunday we go for the whole 17 kilometres and stop for lunch in Les Salines. It is very busy, they organised an ultra-trail of 133 kilometres and 5.250 meter of elevation from Grand-Rivière to Sainte-Anne, chapeau, we are well not capable to do that.

Lunch is lovely, started with a very strong ti-punch with almost no lemon, I prefer the ones Ronald makes, more vitamins in it 😊. After lunch 6 kilometres to go and with a swim half way it is a very good way to spend your Sunday. Our fridge is full with food for Christmas, duck, lamb, and pâté and of course nice red wine and real French champagne for new years eve. Tomorrow to Saint Lucia, an island just 22 miles south of Martinique and a course we can sail, perfect!!!!

Los Roques – Rivière Sens, Guadeloupe 6/11-23/11

It is again a special crossing, it never goes as planned. Together with Wild Bird we leave Los Roques heading for Carriacou. We try to sail with the engine on but the current pushes against us and Carriacou will be a hard sail and as we don’t have to be on an special island, well we want  to be somewhere in the eastern Caribbean, our new target is Martinique. As our second fuel tank doesn’t give any diesel we decide to sail and try to get to Guadeloupe. Wild Bird is able to sail a better angle and we will see them somewhere. It is a relieve that we are sailing, very quiet and in the mean while we catch a Mahi Mahi, live is very good on Fairy Queen. A few times a day we have contact with Wild Bird through the HF radio and the connection is crystal clear, it’s nice as old-fashioned equipment works so well. In the meantime, Ronald solves the problem with our diesel tank and we are in an excellent position to reach Guadeloupe. We can keep on sailing until 50 miles from Guadeloupe the wind drops and we have to use the engine again. At 22.00 a bang and a change of sound of the motor which is vibrating on the brackets in a way that we are afraid that the brackets will break, also water comes in trough the seal of the axe. We drift slowly away from land and decide to call the coastguard before they will be out of reach. As there are no other boats in our surrounding, we don’t know what cause the problem and there is not enough wind to sail in the direction of land, we weight 19 tons, a tugboat is arranged by the coastguard. The following morning, we are on a mooring in Rivière Sens, a cute little village with everything a booty needs. Fresh fruits and vegetables, French baguette and a laundry. A walk of half an hour to Basse Terre where there are little shops, restaurants and of course the Leader Price with the box wine and you can take the bus back for only one euro to the marina. Wild Bird stops over on their way to Antigua and we make a lovely hike, its green, its beautiful, its wet and there’s only pads with a dead end, so the same way back but our muscles love it. We have a lot of rain and the hedge in the front cabin is still leaking, we fix it once, use not enough kit so we have to do it again and now it seems to be oke, next trip will tell us. Point à Pitre is full with boats waiting the arrival of the solo sailors of the route du Ruhm, as the route goes behind our boat we see the first two trimarans arriving, spectacular and respect also for the boats who are still on their way.

Los Roques, Venezuela 21-10 / 6-11

Sunday morning the 21st are we ready to leave Curacao together with Wild Bird and Frantcesca with destination Crasky, a small island above the coast of Venezuela. A little bit more wind and waves than predicted and after 40 hours we are in paradise, white sandy beaches and blue, blue water.

Carla and Eduardo of restaurant Agua Clara are already waiting for us as the where informed by True Blue that we were passing by. Lunch is perfect, ceviche from barracuda and small tuna fish with cassava and coleslaw, Carola is really a good cook. You have to bring your own drinks as they don’t have them.

We did bring them flour, sugar, rice and butter as these are the things they can’t buy, it isn’t even for sale. We go with Eduardo to Gran Roque to do our clearance, we have to do it in three hours and after one hour waiting at the customs it did luckily go very quick. Immigration tells us to pay $ 350, =, we say no way! Oké if you can pay $ 150, = no problem and $10, = for a stamp in your passport, we didn’t get a bill and can stay for 14 days, cleared out already. We still had time for a visit at the supermarket bit there was not much to buy, onions, cassava, frozen chicken and some tins, luckily, we did a lot of shopping in Curacao. There is no oil for the engines available which they use for their generator and as we still have some we can swap it to 90 litres of diesel, everybody happy. We enjoy it very much over here after almost 4 months of hard work.

We walk the beach, swim, have a barbecue, snorkel, learn to sail in a dinghy and read a lot. We paint the second fridge, too much cold turkey otherwise, but no pressure jobs anymore. The only disadvantage are the mosquitos over here if there is no wind, we have to hide inside the boat when the sun goes down. If there is enough wind the mosquitos disappear. The 6th of November a very nice weather window appears and we can go on, we will arrive somewhere between St. Maarten and Grenada, we’ll see 😊. We try to buy some vegetables and fruit for our passage but the boat from Caracas didn’t arrive so there is nothing, even the gasoline and diesel is finished. Well we have multivitamins we can take and we know that in the east Caribbean there is lots of fruit. East Caribbean here we come!!!

Curacao, time to go sailing

A short update because tomorrow we are leaving Curacao. We did a lot of work but we are ready to go, you have to stop else you are only working on your boat and not enjoying her. And what would we do without a little job now and then 😊.

We closed the deck, no leakages any more, after the last weeks a lot of rain felt and well the boat was “dry”. Also a new dinghy cover is ready, in the colours of the boat and whit the right material, kilo’s of electric cable we took out of the boat, useless or replaced by new calbes, anti-fouling, our electric anchor winch goes up and down, never did before, and a second freezer is almost ready, job when we are getting bored.

But also a little vacation with Ronalds mam, his sister, brother in law and nice, a fantastic week in which we finally saw the island.

After doing a lot of shopping, with a new shopping bag made by Gayle from Wild Bird, we go together with Wild Bird and Franszeska to Los Roque and after only one night further to Martinique. Last year we mist a window, that will not happen again 😊. Fairy Queen is ready and so are we, lets go sailing.

Curaçao, half way hurricane season

A rainy day in Curaçao, we wake up late, most of the time we are early birds and wake up when the sun is shining through our window above our bed. We have a Sunday breakfast with eggs, talk a bit about the work we wanted to do today and then it is already time to look at the Formula 1 because we are fan of Max Verstappen. Before we know we are already half way the day and that makes us a bit uncomfortable. Two months we are already in Curacao Marine and we want to be ready with everything half October. The list was long this time but we are seeing some light. The longest and hardest job was the reparation of our teak deck, our front hedge was leaking and after we repaired it the damage of the leakage was more than we had expected.

The balsa deck on the portside was totally wet and had to be removed and build up again. It was a bit strange because we didn’t have any leakage in the front except of the hedge. Also, the dorado boxes where not installed properly and gave us problems with the balsa and yes already repaired 😊. This Sunday we were not the happiest people when we discovered to other leakages, luckily small ones and to be solved in a whim.

We naturally did also a lot of jobs to make the boat more cruiser friendly, we installed the gas bottle of 15 kilo on the outside of the railing in a stainless-steel   holder. Our wind steering system got his one parking space, no dismantling any more when we are in the anchorage only park it on the parking spot and we can use our swimming platform and we have more space in the front cabin. The first stack pack, well the small one for the mizzen, is ready and mounted on the beam easy layer the sail up and down. And almost forgot the best part, there is a shining ceiling above our bed after almost 20 months, we can see ourselves in the painted like a mirror ceiling 😊. We also replaced the lagers of the furler of the genua, this was very necessary as the sail was not rolling smoothly at all and now we discovered why.

 

The sail rite is on the table at this moment, after putting all the stuff somewhere else, for some needle work and the salon looks normal again, Fairy Queen is getting a boat where you can live on more and more.

 

 

 

But we also do other things beyond working. The first time in Curacao tall ships are arriving and staying for three day in which time you can visit them. They are education ships for the navy and they sail around south America, it is very impressive and everything is big, big, big, especially the flags 😊. Of course, there is the possibility to see the world cup football and we see France win the world cup 2018.

 

 

Ronald started playing his guitar thanks to Rene from Pimentao who invited us for several music nights. The repertoire of Ronald has improved as well as his guitar play so next season there will be definitely some music nights.

 

 

August is the month of parties, my birthday and our wooden wedding, we wed 5 years ago in Willemstad, Netherlands and its quite special to celebrate our 5th anniversary in Willemstad, Curacao. We have diner at seaside terrace, feet in the sand, went to Barbara beach for some swimming and just lying in a beach chair and we had nice drinks and food at Boca 19.

The 4th of august there was a flea market for boot stuff and more, every first Saturday of the month in August, September and October. We did well, we sold our small diving gear and bought some parts we may need, we even ended up with a washing machine nobody wanted for free. We haven’t had the time to try it yet, but if we don’t like it, it just goes to the next flea market.

Thursday is captain’s diner at the Pier, where we meet fellow sailors and talking about food Ronald is the one who bakes the bread which goes very well and now he is trying to bake a cake. It looks good, it smells good but its raw inside. It will take a little more practice but I have good hope two out of three is a good beginning.

Netherlands, France, Curaçao 29-5 / 30-6

It is the 1st of July and we are already one week back in Curacao. Busy with maintenance and especially improvements and some new gadgets for the boat. On the 22th of June our Fairy Queen became 40 years old and she did earn some presents. Last month we went to the Netherlands and France to celebrate my mother’s birthday, she turned 80. As always, the Bakermans family has a kind of battle, the winner must organize the next fight. This time it was a painting competition and unfortunately 🙂  I did not win, the subject was free but there were still a lot of sheep painted.

During the day we were busy with the preparations for the work to be done at the Fairy Queen and in the evening it was a reunion of family and friends, both in the Netherlands and also in France.

A trip through a number of ports in the Netherlands, Heusden, the best pastries ever eaten, Zierikzee, of course the new herring, Middelharnis a stop at Neutmast and Willemstad where we are married almost 5 years ago and were we left on the 19th of june 2014, we had some lovely food at ‘t Pumpke, in short nostalgia.

In France we visited Saintes Maries de la Mer, went shopping in Nimes, pruning the olive trees in the garden of my father and mother and were experiencing an abrivado (horse / bull race).

It was a lovely time again but also tiring with lots of food and drinks, we have not become slimmer this time 🙂  . Well with the luggage it is always a struggle, we arrived already with 50 kilo each but another 60 kilo is waiting for transportation. Luckily Ronalds mother and family are visiting us 🙂 in September.

Bonaire – Curaçao, 14/5 – 28/5

Before we leave for Curaçao it’s time for a little holiday. Drinks at Kareltje, diner with Roos on the Vagebond and of course a little bit of diving. Time flies away and before we know it we are off to Curaçao. The last sailing trip this season and it is really a good one.

We sail the whole trip, catch, after a real fight, a big Mahi Mahi almost six kilo’s of fish and the Pontjesbridge opens when we are arriving. And the same day we already cleared in at customs, most of the time we are not that quick.

And then … the preparations for our “big” jobs can begin. Luckily we already ordered a lot of stuff at Island Water World Curacao a few months ago and almost everything is waiting for us. The rest will arrive with the boat from St. Maarten at the end of July or beginning August. After cleaning the spray hood it appeared that I also had to stitch it. During stitching there was a loud pop and a lot of smoke, the sewing machine died. A new investment has to be made, not good for our budget, because we want a Sailrite, THE sewing machine for sailors. We also impregnated the spray hood with Starbrite and it really works. When we put the spray hood on the boot the seams gave up so ….. Sailrite is ordered.

There is still some time to do some work in advance, the more we do the sooner we can go back on anchor.

Time is really going very fast as today we are already flying to Holland to celebrate my mother’s 80th birthday. We are looking forward having a celebration!!!!!

Bonaire 28-4 / 13-5

444 nautical miles 210° from St. John to Bonaire, wind 16 to 20 knots, estimated speed 5.3 knots an hour. Well it will take us four nights and three days, we did put the second reef the mainsail as we were going way to fast and arrived the 1st of May early in the morning. Terry from Sisu was already waiting for us and arranged a perfect mooring. We had a very easy crossing, the fishing though was a different thing. We catch a small Mahi Mahi, just for one meal and when I was cleaning it the reel began to run and within a few minutes 600 feet of line was gone, the line broke, with the fish and unfortunately our Pinky Princess we got from AriB. We did not catch any other fish, not one, only lost two lures and another 300 feet of line.

Well we hoped to have a nice diner whit some fresh catch fish with Sisu but we ended up to drink two bottles of fizzies to celebrate that they were married in Grenada in April secretly. We slept very well that night.

Next day we notice that our beam is not hanging straight anymore and discover that the gooseneck is twisted. How that happened, we don’t know, we had no gusty winds, two reefs in the mainsail and only 24 knots max. Fortunately we go to Holland next month and our rigger will help us out on this problem 🙂 .

And then the highlight of this episode, Ronald has been turned 50. We celebrate it together with Sisu on the day before Ronald turns 50. Sisu is leaving for Curacao on Monday so it’s a wise thing to celebrate it a day earlier. So two days of celebration, balloons, a bandana (your hair gets thinner when you are getting 50) lightening cups, a beautiful poem written and recite by Terry and a three course dinner with fizzies, wine and port wine.

After that a very good night of sleep. We missed all the fireworks, a burning fisher boat was just passing in front of our boat, our neighbour Vagebond was hit, had luckily just some scratches, sirens on the wall but we kept on sleeping. On the 6th of May a good walk and a in the afternoon a beer and snacks at the Brewery not a bad way of celebrating your 50th.

As we didn’t catch fish ourselves we have to buy it and just in front of the boat the fishermen where waiting on the fish, Masbango, to swim in their net. It is an old tradition catching the fish this way. The net is put in the water like an L-shape. Three fishermen waiting in a small boat, one man on the wall with a line so he can pull the boat, three people snorkel in the water. Then a signal from the first snorkel men, the fish is arriving, and then the second snorkel men put his hand in the air, yes, no wait not yet and yes action. The fishermen in the boat drop the net, the guy on the wall is pulling the boat to the shore and the snorkel men are putting the net on the bottom of the sea. Half a school of fish is catched, the only pick out the fish they can sell. This Masbango is like a mackerel but not that fat, just fry it with some lemon, jammy.

 

We are also preparing for our summer season where we have to do some maintenance at the boat. We have a very stubborn leakage in our bathroom and have already removed the ceiling. We also have to do a lot of caulking as the Sikaflex we used is good for Europe but not in this climate, it gets sticky and give off colour. We already installed our new bookshelf in our sleeping quarters but the ceiling is still not there, also a job for the summer.

St. John, USVI 17-04 / 27-04

Only two boats on the mooring when we arrive in Lameshur Bay, St. John. We have been told that it wouldn’t be busy but we didn’t expect it like this, there are 20 moorings in the bay which are normally all taken before 11.00.

Great and Little Lameshur Bay are pristine and part of the national park, it has wonderful clear water and white sandy beaches. Our hike to Reef Bay is unexpected easy, the path is already cleaned and we see even dears walking in the bushes next to us. They are not shy at all.

Next day a hike to Coral Harbour, we expect to have some internet over there. It’s a real hike, uphill for more than an hour and with spectacular views of our bay. And when you go up, to go down is next and unexpected it is harder for your legs, well also lack of condition I suppose. A couple we met on our way advises us to go back with the bus to Salt Pound Bay and hike from there to Lameshur Bay, then we will miss the steep road up. Sounds like a plan 🙂 , we always can go with a mule. The road down makes us feel down and uncomfortable as we see devastated houses, cloths and furniture on the site of the road and places where should be a house but isn’t. We can’t imagine how much power a hurricane has. When we are approaching Coral Bay we see a lot of houses rebuild and also some restaurants are open again, the view here is still spectacular.

We have a real American hamburger at Skinny Leggs and Mary, our waitress, say: if there are no buses, they are a bit unreliable, just put your finger down to the road when you see a car coming and somebody will pick you up. And that’s what happened, no bus but a kind guy who took us with him to Salt Pound Bay and told us the story of his live during the ride 🙂 . 45 minutes later we arrived in our bay and saw we were the only one in this beautiful bay. The next stop is Caneel Bay, where we can dinghy over to Cruz Bay to do some shopping, the supermarket is fully equipped but also here the restaurants and shops are not all open.

It will take some time until everything is up and running again. Our bay is fantastic with white sandy beaches and bleu cruising water, great, the USVI’s is worthwhile visiting. Tomorrow we leave the USVI’s heading for Bonaire, we have a perfect weather window which we don’t want to miss.

Customs is a little strange, they won’t clear us out. Just go, no need for clearing out, well we see when we arrive in Bonaire what they will say about that 🙂 .

By the way Ronald is exercising in another way, making his birthday cake. Well the brown one is the example 🙂 .

St. Thomas, USVI 03-04 / 16-04

East again, we arrive in St. Thomas part of the US Virgin Islands where we anchor just in de corner of Hassel Island in clear blue water. More wind is coming and here we have good protection. It is simple to go ashore, just dinghy to the other site of the bay to Crown Bay Harbor, there is a dinghy dock and from there it is just 10 minutes to the Pueblo. The Pueblo has everything you need, even blue cheese and good wine against normal prices, a bottle of Barefoot wine is only U$ 5,99 and dark rum is U$ 7,99 a liter. There is also an Ace shop, a do it yourself shop, and even that we don’t need something after been visiting this shop we did buy stuff 🙂 .

Sitting on the aft deck, the water aircrafts are landing just in front of us, spectacular to see, and cruise ships are going through the narrow canal just in between two islands, those ships are enormous. The old town of Charlotte Amalie is completely filled with shops for the people of the cruise ships selling t-shirts and other stuff with the name of St. Thomas on it. We just sit on a terrace having a coffee and looking at the crowed, it is a long time since we could do that 🙂 .

Clear out at the USVI’s is not necessary the friendly officer says (the book says different, but he won’t clear us out)and we decide to visit St. John first before going to the British Virgin Islands (BVI), 2/3th of the island is national park and it must be beautiful. We stop at Christmas Cove, a private island where you can anchor and there are also free mooring balls, you only are not allowed to go ashore. There is a Pizza Pie boat where you can order pizza’s and drinks and every morning turtles are saying hello as also dolphins are passing by. In the evening the anchoring has lot of lights because of all the led’s on the boats 🙂 .

OCC members are everywhere and that is always an excuse to have a drink and a meal, we had again a lovely time on Tourterelle and Aura.

Next day it appears that the battery for the engine has died and we decide to go back to Charlotte Amalie to buy a new one, also the cable of the VHF is very bad and we renew this to, the boat is a mess but de VHF is better than ever and the engine starts again with a push on the button. Today relax and a bit of cleaning and finally tomorrow we are leaving for St. John, we aim at Lameshur Bay.