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Trellis Bay, Beef
de Loose Mongoose
Beach Bar / Restaurant
ARGO in background
Danny & Penny,
Entertaining cruiser Jack
Caroline & Simon, managers at de Loose Mongoose
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS (B.V.I.) - June
3 - 16: After
clearing in at Roadtown, Tortola, we moved to Trellis Bay, Beef
Island. The BVIs are very mountainous with lots of lush greenery
and the Flamboyant trees with their bright orange flowers are highly visible
against the green landscape. The water is clear blue and the sand
white, and even though it is not as shallow as the Bahamas or T&C, you still
have to watch out for reefs (marked on the charts).
Our good friend from
Houston, Rhys, lives here now and being a diesel/mechanical engineer has
been of enormous help with various boat projects and isolating electrical
problems, and has taken us around to drop off laundry, do shopping and other
errands. Sixteen years ago, and again fifteen years ago, the three of
us chartered here with our sailing club, T.A.S.S., and anchored at Trellis
How things have changed: Now there are several beach bars/restaurants,
local shops and small ferry services to other islands. The Last Resort
is still here, but have made the purple and pink beach bar at de Loose
Mongoose our daily hang out with Rhys and friends. Simon & Caroline
manage de Loose Mongoose and Beef Island Guest House here. A striking
difference from where we have come from is the number of charter boats here
(gotta watch out for the bare boat charters!). Of course, this is a prime place for
chartering boats as many islands and great anchorages are close by. We
have met John & Fiona (sailboat Sundowner,
www.sundownersailing.com) and Danny & Penny
(catamaran Chocolat Blanc,
www.chocolatblanc.com) who charter out and captain their own
boats for hire out of Trellis Bay.
We left Trellis Bay, made a stop in
Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda to clear out, and then took off south.
Virgin Gorda, BVI
de Loose Mongoose
beach bar at sunset; Steve & Rhys on right
Fiona & John, Sundowner, Penny,
Rhys (Houston friend) and Greg at de Loose Mongoose Beach Bar
With Rhys at Trellis
General Blurb #1:
We have been moving very quickly, as we knew we would, since we got a late
start, leaving Houston March 1st. Why so fast you might ask. We
should be to Grenada for hurricane season, which is technically July 1
through November 30. Hurricanes generally don't get that far south,
and that's why cruisers head for Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago, Venezuela, Margarita and other surrounding islands in the summer. So that is
why we have not been able to linger much along the way, other than to wait
for weather, and are skipping by a lot of the islands. In the
past, we have chartered for 2 or 3 weeks at a time and have seen many of
these islands, so we don't feel too bad passing them by now. Our plan at this time is to come back up the island
chain next season possibly as far as Guadeloupe, and spend leisurely time
exploring places we have not been before, and going back to places we have
enjoyed in the past.
Sailing at night is sometimes
preferable if we have a long distance to travel. As in the Dominican
Republic and Puerto Rico, the high day time winds make it almost necessary
to travel the coast at night in the night island lees when the winds are
calmest. During the past 4 months, we have traveled 15 times at night.
It's very similar to flying a plane at night using only instruments. We
make big use of our radar, along with our usual electronics such as the GPS
which is interfaced with our navigation software on our PC. Contrary to
what some may think, we do not anchor out in the middle of the ocean
at night - we don't carry enough chain to do that - so we have to keep
We have been surprised at the number
of cruisers (and charterers) on catamarans. They are very popular as
they afford a whole lot of livable room and the big aft decks are great for
entertaining. Years ago when we chartered, we would only see a few of them.
Radio communication is the
best way of communicating and getting weather. There are numerous "nets" on
the SSB (single side band) and HAM radio. A "net" is where at a designated
time you tune into a predetermined frequency. There are several nets that
we routinely use. We use nets for: contacting others and switching to
another frequency to talk (e.g., talking to other cruisers or our friends in
Houston); listening to various weather reports; getting custom weather info
for a crossing (e.g., Herb "Southbound II"); getting news; getting/inquiring
about safety and security issues; and sending/receiving emails. One of the
advantages is that it's like a party line, in that many people can receive
and exchange information at the same time. The disadvantage is that you
have to have a time and place set up in advance, and that any one can listen
During our first 3 months of travel, we had rain
only a handful of days and then it was light. As soon as we reached
the Virgin Islands, and since, we have experienced rain at least once a
night - frequently lasting only a few minutes. Just long enough to get
up and close the hatch, and then open it back up 5 minutes later. Even
daytime rains last only a few minutes, then bright blue skies again.
We like the rain, especially after doing a crossing as it washes the the
salt water off the boat.
From the Bahamas south to Martinique
(Leeward Islands), if you look at a
small scale map, the islands lay more or less in a southeast
direction. The prevailing winds this time of the year are from the
southeast or east. You can not sail into the wind.
Therefore, much of the traveling until Martinique has been motorsailing -
using both sails and motor. We have been lucky to be able to sail parts of the
trip when the wind shifted or we were sailing in another direction.
From Martinique south (Windward Islands), the islands lay in a more or less southwest
direction, still with a prevailing southeast/east wind.
Therefore, cruisers generally enjoy this part more from a sailing standpoint
as they are able to sail their sailboats. What a novel concept!
The Leeward Islands are an island chain just south
of the Virgin Islands, laying in a southeast direction. This includes, north to south, Anguilla, St. Martin,
St. Barts, Saba, Statia, St. Kitts, Nevis, Barbuda, Antigua, Montserrat
(active volcano), Guadeloupe and The Saintes, and Dominica. We have been to
half of these islands in the past.
The Windward Islands are an
island chain just south of the Leeward Islands., laying in a southwest
direction. This includes, north to south, Martinique, St.
Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines (which is made up of several smaller
islands such as Bequia, Mustique and the Tobago Cays), and Grenada. We
have been to about half of these islands in the past.
These islands are all unique. Many are volcanic and
mountainous with rain forests, others are coral and flat, and some are
shifting tectonic plates making up their hilliness. These islands are
either British, French or Dutch and a few are now independent (St. Kitts and
Nevis). This necessitates the rigor of clearing in and clearing out of
customs and immigration each time we enter/depart a different country -
which can definitely try our patience to say the least (you know, they're on
"island time"). There are
language and cultural differences to contend with, and local cuisine to
sample, along with the local beer.
||(biere - birra - cerveza)
||Conch, lobster, fish
|Turks & Caicos
||Rum (not sure what food
group this is from)
||Cheese, pate, baguettes
Saba: air landing strip on top of mountain
LEEWARD ISLANDS PASSAGE
- JUNE 16 - 20: We left Virgin Gorda, BVI on
June 16 with the intent of sailing overnight straight to St. Martin
or St. Barts (both previously visited). However, the wind and
seas (both moderate) were right on the nose creating an uncomfortable sail,
not to mention slowed our progress. We decided to fall off the wind a
little, which allowed us to make use of sails to increase our speed
substantially and level out the boat. But now we were headed further
south and would miss St. Martin. We decided to head to Nevis
instead which would put us a lot further south towards Grenada. After
an evening of "sporting" sailing in the middle of nowhere, the next day we
sailed past Saba (a small mountainous gem of an
island), Statia, St. Kitts (previously visited) and
arrived at Nevis. These islands are referred to as the Islands
That Brush the Clouds, as they are all very lush, high volcanic mountains
with clouds hanging over the peaks. At Nevis we anchored off a
pristine white beach lined with coconut trees. Nevis and St. Kitts are
now independent countries (previously under British rule) and share the same
government. We spent a day
exploring Nevis. The Nevis Museum/his birth house highlights the fact that "our" Alexander
Hamilton (signer of Constitution, Secretary of Treasurer and on $10 bill (I
think), initiated the Coast Guard, etc.) was born in Nevis and did a lot for
this country, too.
We left Nevis in conditions that had several boats turning
back around, but once we cleared the land effects of the island it wasn't
too bad. ARGO's cockpit is pretty dry anyway, and having full dodger,
bimini and weather cloths definitely makes a huge difference in being dry
and comfortable, or wet and miserable, and so we continued on in "comfort".
Depending on weather, we had planned on stopping in
Guadeloupe or The Saintes after an overnight sail, or in Montserrat
if weather was too rough. We sailed past Montserrat keeping a wide
clearance as the volcano is still active. We could see and smell ash
and sulfur in the air. The southern part of the island is now barren
from recent years' eruptions. The northern part is still lush, but
tourism, once big, is now almost nonexistant.
Once again we changed our plans while under sail as wind
and seas were favorable and we were making very good time (had current
helping us out, too). We arrived at Guadeloupe and The
Saintes just after midnight, and decided to keep
sailing instead of waiting around for daybreak. We sailed past Dominica (previously visited) at dawn and arrived
at St. Pierre, Martinique midday.
Sunshine Beach Bar, home of the Killer Bee (drink)
Golden Rock Plantation
H.M.S. Diamond Rock
Bob & Susan on Sunrise
Baguette "condom" for BD; note TGS parrot
Floating dry dock at Le Marin
Club Med beach
Ste. Anne beach
WINDWARD ISLANDS - JUNE 20
We rested up, cleaned up the boat, found a favorite
restaurant from years ago, and visited the big Saturday open-air market in
St. Pierre, Martinique. We then headed to the south tip of
Martinique where we passed the H.M.S. Diamond Rock. This is a big rock
strategically positioned, and the British navy in the early 1800's, being short on
ships, commissioned this rock as a ship in their fleet, and equipped it with
cannons, supplies and water for a full crew. They succeeded for 18
months and surprised unsuspecting ships sailing into Martinique.
We sailed into Ste. Anne, Martinique
where we rendezvoused with our good friends from Houston, Bob & Susan on
Sunrise. They have been cruising for almost 5 years, and we had
promised them years ago that we would meet up with them down island.
We keep our promises!
We anchored close to shore at a wonderful
beach, just down from Club Med (all beaches are public in Martinique),
and you know what else French beaches are known for: Shelling.
So "shelling" has become a very popular past time for the guys.
Debbie celebrated her birthday here, and
Sunrise gave her a very useful baguette "condom" for carrying French bread
from bakery back to boat. Sunrise also taught us how to play Mexican
Train with a large or small group. Not what you're thinking.
It's a dominoes game very popular among cruisers. We've gotten
hooked on it now.
After a week and a half, ARGO and Sunrise
had a wonderful sail south to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia. Another
great anchorage just off the resorts' pretty beach. We made a visit
into "the city" (Castries), our first time to use public transportation via
the bus - vans holding about 15 people, passing by frequently and pretty
much stop wherever you want and costs about a buck - easy, convenient and
cheap. Hope we find public transportation like this elsewhere, as
taxis can get expensive.
Listening to weather, we heard that a
rather organized tropical wave was going to pass over us. We moved
ARGO into the nice Rodney Bay Marina as this is cheap "insurance".
This is our first time in a marina in 3 months - how decadent having cable
TV, our first since leaving Houston. As it turned out, the tropical
wave turned into "local" weather when it hit St. Lucia's east coast, causing
50 knot winds in the bay, and 44 knot winds in our slip at the protected
marina. There is also an inner harbor here that is used as a hurricane
hole when necessary. We were secure; however, the boats that stayed
anchored in the bay were more at risk, as several boats dragged their
anchor(s). I don't think any collisions occurred, though. In
situations like this, you don't just have to worry about yourself, but about
the other boats around you.
We are preparing to head south once more
towards Grenada, as Steve's daughter Jana (28) is flying into Grenada July
18 for 11 days. It probably would be a good idea if we were there to
meet her at the airport!
Anchorage / beach
Playing Mexican Train with Bob & Susan
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