Saturday, May 28, 2016

Mayreau -- and then keep slowly moving south

 18 May 2016  

It was a lively and lovely sail down from Bequia to Mayreau.  It is difficult to decide which is our favorite island of the Caribbean – Isle de Saintes south of Guadeloupe or Bequia or Mayreau.  All 3 places were first visited when aboard the Mandalay back in early 1985 and again in early 1986, visited again on aboard BeBe in 2006 and 2007.  We have not yet gone far enough north to once again visit Isle de Saintes, we are saving that for next winter; but both Bequia and Mayreau have changed a great deal in the past 31 years.  They actually have changed a great deal in just the past 9 or 10 years.

Just as we reached the tip of the southwestern point of Bequia there was an Amel Super Maramu approaching from our starboard side, headed on the exact course to which we planned to turn.  As he was the starboard vessel (and because he showed no indication of giving way to us), we slacked sail to slow and let him pass in front of us.  Then we turned to port and continued on the same course as him.  Technically, according to Rule 11 of Colregs, that French flagged vessel was supposed to give-way to us.  We were the windward vessel and both boats were on a port tack.  That made us the stand-on vessel and made him the give-way vessel.  As he did not give-way as required by the rules, we gave-way to him.  Jerk.  Just meant that we had to change sails and slow down.  Should have been him doing that. 

He passed us going 8.4 knots under full sail with all 3 sails.  Winds were sustained 20-25 knots and gusting higher.  We were sailing with double reefed genoa, single reefed mainsail, and full mizzen sail.  We saw top speed of only 7.2 knots and averaged only 6.5 knots for the entire 26 mile passage down to Mayreau.  He sailed much faster but we sailed more comfortably.  I’ll take comfort over speed any day.  And full 3 sails in 25 knots sustained winds while crossing an open channel is foolish; not safe sailing.  Winds in the channels often run up to 10 knots higher.  Getting suddenly hit with 35 knots under full sail is not my idea of a good time.

As we approached Mayreau we could see only 3 boats anchored behind the largest island at the Tobago Cays off to the east.  Usually there are minimum 50 boats out there.  It was much too windy and seas far too lively for anyone with any sense to want to be anchored out at the Cays this week.  Forecast is for winds and seas to remain this high for at least a week; so we will be skipping the Tobago Cays this season and will continue on south after a brief stay in Mayreau.

Salt Whistle Bay on a very windy day.
My absolute single favorite anchorage anywhere in the world is tiny Salt Whistle Bay on the NW tip of Mayreau.  But only under the right weather conditions.  This day was definitely not the right weather conditions!  As we sailed past Salt Whistle Bay we peeked in to see that it was much too crowded and much too windy.  Since so many boats these days are catamarans (especially charter boats and there are a lot of those in these waters), that small bay now can hold only half as many boats as in years past -- because each catamaran takes up the space of 2 monohulls.  We continued on south to larger Saline Bay.

Saline Bay vividly brings back a few memories.  When we first arrived here on the Mandalay 31 years ago the captain told us that only 50 people resided on this island.  The St. Vincent and Grenadines government had just built a sturdy high concrete dock which was serviced by a weekly supply ship from St. Vincent.  A 2-lane hard-surfaced road had been built which connected to the concrete dock.  This would enable heavy materials to be off-loaded from the weekly supply ship but there were no roads to allow easy transport of those materials beyond about 150-feet from that dock because that is where that short new road ended.  Today that road connects all the way from Saline Bay on the SW side to Salt Whistle Bay on the NNW side of the island, and there are several smaller roads branching off to either side of that main road.  There probably are 20 times the number of homes and/or businesses on this tiny island than back then.  This island was so poor that after we had returned to our homes several of us passengers on the Mandalay shipped basic school supplies down here.  Windjammer assisted by allowing us to ship items to their office in Miami and they sent everything down on their supply ship that serviced all the Windjammer vessels throughout the Caribbean back then.

Another memory from that same trip was when we snorkeled in Saline Bay and ‘discovered’ an old sunken small ship.  The wooden ribs were still in place and the outline of the ship was evident.  It was not too far off the beach on the south side of the bay.  We looked for that sunken ship in 2007 and found it, but it had disintegrated significantly over the years.  If one did not know where to look and what to look for, this shipwreck would be easy to miss.

Another memory is from 2007 when we again visited here aboard BeBe.  In 2006 we rushed through here because we had a date deadline by which we had to be in a marina in Grenada so Bill could fly home for a commitment to his previous employer.  Plus, we did not know any of the other cruising boats at that time; we were total newbies to the full-time cruising lifestyle.  But by the following year we had befriended people on many other boats and when here in 2007 a group of 10 of us cruisers gathered in Saline Bay for a week or so.  We did pot-luck sundowners in a thatched roof structure on the beach.  One evening all 10 of us walked the main road up that hill to Dennis’ Hideaway for drinks, a long-time favorite of cruisers and charter sailors alike.  Among that group were Roberta and Tito of Alleleujah! and Nick and Josie of Jedi.  I do not remember the names of any of the other folks in that group, although do remember it as a fun evening.   Roberta and Tito have since moved back to Miami and sold Alleleujah! after 10 years of cruising the eastern Caribbean.  Nick and Josie on Jedi are somewhere in the western Caribbean now, I think.

Today Bill and I would not walk up to Dennis’ Hideaway after dark unless there were a group of 10 people -- certainly not if only 2 or 4 people.  Because, as Dennis recently stated in a comment published in the Caribbean Compass newspaper, today Mayreau is experiencing a problem with local gang members.  This armed gang has robbed several cruisers recently, all of whom were walking on the main road after dark in groups of only 2 or 4 people.  This has greatly affected the local restaurants and bars, including Dennis’ Hideaway.   It is difficult for us to understand how an isolated community of this size can have a problem with gangs.  It seems that the local men could solve this problem with little effort.  This makes we wonder if possibly 1 or more of those gang members might be related to either local police or politicians.  There has to be more to this story because this island community is too small and too isolated to suffer gang problems.  They need to nip this in the bud before the problem grows.  No matter how idyllic this place is, if crime is not stopped then cruisers will stop coming here.  That would devastate the community; they rely on our tourist dollars for survival.

Note that if anchoring in Saline Bay that one must anchor well south of the dinghy dock in the center of the bay.  The concrete dock which services the ferries is situated on the northern side of the beach.  Those ferries require a larger space to turn around than one might assume, especially the green and white one. 

Bill had contacted the author of the sailing guides for this region and asked which was the best company or companies for internet service from St. Lucia through Grenada.  He informed us that Lime (Flow) works through all those islands and that is what he uses. 


Once again, his information is partially correct.  Based on his advice, we purchased 3GB of 3G service in St. Lucia, thinking that we would be able to use this all the way to Grenada.  Nope.  That Lime (Flow) sim/service is valid only in St. Lucia.  One must purchase another sim and set-up another account for Lime (Flow) service in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  And then purchase yet another sim and set-up yet another account for Lime (Flow) service in Grenada.  That expert author failed to explain those details, as did the shop clerk in St. Lucia when he verified that Lime (Flow) does work all the way south to Grenada.  Both the author and the shop clerk failed to mention that one must buy separate sims and set-up separate accounts for each island country.  Because of this foul-up, we had no internet service while anchored in Mayreau.  We were able to purchase service from a different company in Bequia, but that worked only in that specific bay.  We hope that there will be a Lime (Flow) store in Carriacou.  The island of Carriacou is part of Grenada; a sim purchased there also should work in Grenada. 

Simple ‘problems’ in paradise.

19 May 2016
This morning we washed a load of clothes and while waiting for those to dry we decided on the spur of the moment to head on down to Clifton on Union Island and clear out of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  Weather is forecasted to be good today and tomorrow and then squalls for a few days, so best to get to wherever is a good place to wait out squalls.  And we decided that place should be Tyrrell Bay on the island of Carriacou.

The bar on the reef at Clifton, Union Island.

It was a short beam reach 5 mile sail down to Clifton.  We anchored behind the Newlands Reef just to the SE of Clifton town; and, as always, that anchoring area was very crowded.  We could only lay out anchor chain scope of slightly over 2.5:1 so I stayed on the boat to monitor possible dragging while Bill grabbed a water taxi into town to handle departure clearance.  BeBe never budged in those 25 knot winds with only 2.5:1 scope; we were stuck well!  

BeBe anchored behind Newlands Reef.  Facing Palm
Island as we swung on anchor; facing that tiny bar
on the reef when we swung the other way.

And then there was the reef behind us.  Not much
space for anchoring here, but there are no other

More reef behind us.  Looking toward Clifton town where one
handles inbound or outbound clearance formalities.

The Pinnacle in the background.  Clifton town for clearance.

We each prepared a quick sandwich for an early lunch and then enjoyed a perfectly lovely downwind sail to Tyrrell Bay on Carriacou.

In a certain way this bay makes us feel as though we have returned home. 

An elderly man came by and offered us several items for sale.  We bought 3 small lion fish from him and that would be dinner tonight.  We have never eaten lion fish and I was not entirely sure how to cook these.  Bill pulled out the grill (which we cannot even remember the last time we used); I scored each fish and sprinkled liberally with Old Bay Seafood Seasoning; and Bill grilled them for 12 minutes while flipping over every 2 minutes.  I placed these on a serving plate and gave a generous squeeze of lime juice.  Tasted great.  Who would have guessed that lion fish are tasty.  Never thought that when watching them in the aquarium in the Houston Zoo.  Lion fish are taking over the Caribbean and parts of Florida waters and killing other fish as well as reef.  People are encouraged to catch these as frequently as possible.

Tomorrow we will officially clear into Grenada and Carriacou.  Only about 32 miles from here to Grenada where we will meet the grandchildren in early June, so we will stay here in Tyrrell Bay for at least a week -- maybe longer.  This bay honestly does make us feel like we have returned home.  Too bad that all the good friends we met here 10 years ago are no longer cruising.  Such good memories of some wonderful people.  I know of only boat still cruising of those we socialized with back then.  Hope we eventually meet up again with Ed and Linda on Dreamtime.


17 May 2016  

Bequia has long been one of our favorite islands.  It is popular with most folks cruising the eastern Caribbean.   The island has a unique vibe and the people are friendly and almost always have a smile for everyone if you smile at them first.  The island has been isolated enough to remain relatively unspoiled.  It is still a delight although we noticed that there are likely twice as many homes on Bequia as there were a decade past.

Almost every day these 2 little boats would race around
 the bay.  Note that steep driveway in background.
Bequia is traditionally a whaling island.  By International Whaling Commission agreement, the local whalers can take four whales per year.  Some years they do not get any.  In fact, many years they do not get any.  When we were last here they had not killed a whale for the previous 4 years.  But they did get one whale in 2015.  I know there are many people who believe that no whales should ever be killed by mankind, but this whaling is different than the Japanese commercial whale killing.  This is a cultural tradition for a sparsely populated isolated island. These local islanders build small whaling boats by hand.  These are sailing craft, not engine assisted vessels.  Bequia currently has two small whaling boats, one named Preservance and the other named Why Knot.  

The guys loved hanging off the side to balance this
tippy little boat.  Again, see that driveway!
Each small boat has a crew of seven men ranging in age from early 20s to early 50s.  When a whale is sighted within range, these two small boats set sail and those men manually throw hand-built harpoons to kill the humpback whale.  If successful, that whale is then towed by those two small sailing boats to the nearby tiny Semplers Cay just off Friendship Bay on the southern side of Bequia, where it is butchered.  Every bit of the whale is used by these islands in centuries-old ways.  Even the whale oil is used for charcoal enhancement.  It is a daring feat in a small, open, engine-less sailing boat, using hand-thrown harpoons, which requires skills.  Hunting as in the olden days of man against animal for survival.  These islanders might not require the whale for survival today but they do still use the entire whale when one is killed.  I have no problem with allowing this tradition to continue.

Showing off for the camera?

We stayed in Bequia for a full week.  There was a 3-day holiday weekend during this period and we just mostly chilled out on our boat listening to music from various restaurants and bars surrounding the large bay.  We walked around town and along the shore a few times, visiting once again The Whaleboner and The Frangipani.  We gave a miss to Tommy’s Cantina this time.  In his newest 17th edition of the cruising guide for the Windward Islands, on page 261, Chris Doyle writes: “When you get tired of local food, Tommy Cantina specializes not only in your favorite Mexican dishes, such as tacos, enchiladas, and burritos, but also in seafood and lobster (in season).”  That is not true.  The only Mexican type item on the menu today was a plain quesadilla.  Oh…and I was so looking forward to enchiladas or tacos, especially maybe fish tacos.  This is not the first error I have found in this newest edition of sailing guide.  I think this guide has been updated so many times that it is time to stop updating and write a new guide from scratch with current information.  Heck, this newest guide does not even have an index!  The 2006 guide by the same author which we previously used had an index.  Not including an index in this newest guide is laziness, pure and simple.  It is time to re-write the book and stop attempting to update old information and getting so much wrong.

Note those 2 upright white things just to the right of the catamaran.
Those are whale rib bones marking the entrance to the Whaleboner Bar and Restaurant.
When we first visited Bequia there was a tiny strip of white sand beach just in front of those whale bones.
 Today that strip of beach is beneath a foot or more of water.    How many more years before the entire
shore side is submerged.  Cannot deny the climate is changing; as ever.

The last time we were in Bequia the Rastafarians operating the produce market were not so nice and I vowed never to go back there to shop.  But this time on our final morning at the island the other veggie vendors who usually have tables set up along the main street were late and we did not want to wait around any longer.  They are much nicer than the Rastafarians have been in the past and their produce costs are the same, so why not do business with the happy people rather than the angry people.  But since they were late this particular day I returned to the Rastafarian produce building and was pleasantly surprised to find that the angry Rastas have apparently stopped working here.  The older women who sold me various veggies were just as nice as could be.  And the single young Rastafarian from whom I did not buy anything still had a smile on his face and joked with me about not buying anything from his table.  The last time I did not purchase anything from a particular Rasta man he got so angry that I feared a physical confrontation.  Maybe the nicer Rastas realized that this angry attitude was driving people away from their market and made the angry ones move elsewhere.  Whatever the reason, the people there are much nicer now.  The sailing guide encourages cruisers to avoid the Rastafarian market; please ignore that outdated advice.  It is not the only outdated advice in this newest  edition of the sailing guide for the Windward Islands.

For several days we kept hearing someone blowing a conch shell.  Sailors know this often is a tradition of ‘blowing down the sun’ or announcing sunset and declaring it is time for a sundowner beverage of your choice.  This conch was being sounded over and over for what seemed like all day.  This went on for several days, off and on at various hours each day.  One day we were walking ashore and came upon four young men, one of whom was blowing a conch shell loudly.  They were selling fish!  They were using the conch sounds to notify others on the island that they had a fresh catch of fish available for sale!  Apparently, another of their traditions.  Who needs an expensive cell phone when you have a conch shell.  On our final morning in Bequia, they were blowing that conch with a series of sounds.  This series of sounds were repeated numerous times so obviously this series of sounds was intentional.  The only explanation that I could think of is that the different series of sounds indicated a certain type of fish or seafood that they had caught and were selling that morning --maybe shrimp or swordfish or wahoo or something specific like that rather than their usual small silver fish which we could not identify.

The Mandalay anchored in Admiralty Bay at Bequia
As we departed Admiralty Bay we passed the Mandalay lying at anchor once again.  This ship arrived in Bequia on Tuesdays and departs early on Wednesdays.  Goodbye one again, oh bearer of fond memories.

That door next to the large window was our first room during our
fist voyage aboard the Mandalay.  On our second trip we had one
of the 2 cabins which open to the stern of the ship, beneath that
green awning.  Like having our own private patio. Only those
2 rooms share a bathroom.  Our neighbors kept forgetting to
unlock the door when finished.  Otherwise, great room.

Far out on the southern point we passed Moonhole.  I have written about Moonhole years ago, so will not bore anyone by repeating that information.   Suffice it to say that this is a unique place only a few might appreciate.   Google for images; these are unique.

Next stop would be Mayreau.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

False Colors

This posting is a bit of a rant -- a pet peeve, if you will -- improper display of maritime flags.

As I type this posting there is a boat anchored next to us which is flying a brightly colored, large national flag of Canada on the stern of their boat.  That flag is called the ensign and tells all who see this vessel that the vessel is registered in that country.  It is the flag of the nationality of the boat -- NOT the flag of the nationality of the boat's owner or of anyone on the boat.  Only this boat is not a Canadian vessel.

On the stern of this vessel is displayed the hailing port, as required by law.  The hailing port is a widely recognized American city.  This vessel also has the state name as well, although only the city name is required by law.

An American vessel flying the Canadian flag?  


An online search of the vessel documentation database revealed the names of the owners and their address of record.  Their USA Certificate of Documentation for this vessel expires 30 June 2016.  A Google search of their vessel name revealed their blog.  They are Americans but the man did live in Canada for most of his life.  This does not give him the right to fly the Canadian flag as the ensign for an American vessel.  If he wants to fly the Canadian ensign then he must register the vessel in Canada.

As an American, I am somewhat insulted by these people flying the national flag of another country on their American documented (registered) yacht.  It not only is illegal; it is insulting to all other Americans.

Am I being judgmental?  Absolutely!!  And would feel the same if this were a British registered vessel flying an Italian flag.  The term for this is "flying false colors."  And it is illegal worldwide.

Last December we met a New Yorker who had been born in Canada; he supposedly held dual passports, although I never saw either passport to confirm that claim.  His boat was US Documented with a hailing port of New York City.  When in Europe he decided to fly the Canadian ensign; he saw no reason why he should not be allowed to do this.  The officials of The Netherlands felt differently.  On a routine inspection they discovered he was flying false colors and levied a substantial fine for this illegal act.  They remained on board while watching this man change to the proper ensign of the Stars and Stripes.  

Can you imagine what would happen to this vessel on our port side if it were seen by a US Coast Guard boat?  Those Coasties would put that boat through the most rigorous safety inspection possible.   Why are you flying false colors?  Attempting to smuggle drugs or weapons?  Attempting to avoid safety inspections?  There are no good answers to those questions when a group of pissed-off Coasties find you flying the wrong ensign.  They will search that boat and make your day miserable.  

And, yes, contrary to what some people believe, there are US Coast Guard vessels throughout the Caribbean.  As part of the drug interdiction efforts.  We saw one once in the waters between Venezuela and Grenada.  The US Coast Guard has the legal right to board and search any US vessel anywhere in the world.  If they find a US boat flying the national ensign of a different country, they will be upset.  Guaranteed.

If these American (Canadian wannabees) want to fly a flag to indicate that at least one person on board is a Canadian, they should fly a Canadian fly on the port side of their boat near the main mast.  That is the proper location for such a flag.  But that US Documented vessel with the US city hailing port requires the Stars and Stripes to be flown as its ensign.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Down to Bequia

 12 May 2016

Finally winds switched to East rather than SE and we upped anchor in Rodney Bay to sail down to the mooring field between the Pitons.  The rule in St. Lucia is that one must depart within 24 hours of departure clearance formalities.  We never stop in St. Vincent because that island has a very long-term and on-going crime problem; several cruisers and charterers have been murdered over the past decade while anchored at St. Vincent.  We always clear into the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines at Bequia when southbound, skipping the main island of St. Vincent.  The distance from Rodney Bay to Bequia is a bit too long for a day passage, plus considering the adverse current for most of that distance which causes slower boat speed; and we try to avoid nighttime arrivals if possible.  Therefore, we usually sail down to the mooring field between the Pitons and overnight there.  It is only approximately 53 NM from there to Bequia, a distance that is easily sailed during daylight hours, even against that current.

Sailing down to the Pitons was absolutely perfect!  One of those rare sailing days that is pure joy.  Wind was 20 knots either on the beam or 10 degrees behind the beam; boat was heeled at only 5 degrees; seas in the lee of St. Lucia were calm; a thoroughly enjoyable sailing day.  Winds swirled strongly between the Pitons, as usual, making BeBe twirl on the mooring for half the night.  Then winds died to almost nothing from 02:00 until 06:00.  We motored out of the bay at 06:00 in calm.  But once out of that bay winds picked up rapidly to 20-24 knots, gusting to 30 knots; and we were off!  Seas in the channel between St. Lucia and St. Vincent are larger, unprotected as the whole of the Atlantic moves in.  It was a rollicking ride, as it always is here.

Once in the lee of St. Vincent the seas flattened out and wind dropped dramatically.  We ghosted along while running the watermaker for a couple of hours.  We wanted to have enough supply in the tank to last while we would be anchored in Bequia, if possible.  The tank held 650 liters by the time we reached two-thirds way down St. Vincent and turned course more SE, thus making wind angle impossible to sail any longer regardless of how slow we could tolerate.  Watermater off; generator off; sails furled; start that engine.

About half-way down St. Vincent BeBe sailed slowly through a large pod of dolphin.  These porpoises behaved differently than any pod we have seen before.  They did not play with our bow wave, probably because we were sailing only about 4 kts SOG and they were not inclined to play that slowly.  At first we thought there were only about 20 to 30 porpoises.  Then we realized just how far out this pod stretched!  There were at least 100 of them!  Maybe more. This was the largest pod of dolphin we have seen in the Caribbean.  And they were just very calmly swimming about in slow circles.  They were not feeding because they would have been thrashing about.  Bill theorized that maybe they had just fed and were acting so calmly because they had full tummies.  The ones nearest BeBe made the strangest sounds; never heard these sounds before.  They sounded like small barking dogs!  I think the ‘barking’ sounds were caused by the way they were explosively exhaling.  Not the usual blowing sound that we are familiar with as dolphin have swum alongside BeBe at night.  These were harder and sudden, stronger, exhalations.  It was a weird experience.

Of course, as we neared the southern tip of St. Vincent those easterly winds showed up once again.   As headwinds now because of the angle to Bequia.  Before we cleared the southern tip of the island, winds were again solid 25 knots.  And the rains began.  Because of the current, we had to point BeBe almost to the eastern side of Bequia in order to arrive at Admiralty Bay, which is about center on the northern side of the island.  The current was that strong on this particular day.  And those strong winds did not help the situation either.  Why is it always such a lively trip down here!

We motored into Admiralty Bay at 14:15.  And motored right past the Mandalay!  How fitting!  The first 2 times we visited Bequia were aboard the Mandalay in 1985 and 1986.  That old ship looks quite tired today.  She is older, as are we.  But we have fond memories of those passages aboard the Mandalay from Antigua to Grenada 30 years ago.  One night in particular stands out in our memories, the night that President Ronald Reagan gave his speech about the explosion of the Challenger.  Many of the Mandalay passengers on that particular trip were scientists and engineers who worked for NASA.  Bill and I had brought along a large boom-box which also included a short-wave radio.  Almost every passenger gathered on the top level (above our aft cabin) and listened to President Reagan’s speech on a night filled with stars.  It was a solemn moment that cannot be forgotten.  

The Mandalay was owned by Windjammer Barefoot Cruises back then and regularly sailed 2 weeks south from Antigua to Grenada; then reversed and sailed 2 weeks back north to Antigua.  Each time we opted to sail from Antigua to Grenada because this was during winter months when winds usually are from the NE, meaning that going back north would be motoring the entire distance.  The Mandalay was the only tall ship in that fleet that was still capable of actually sailing.  All the other ships could only motor-sail.  We remember a few beautiful evenings of quietly sailing on the Mandalay in the lee of various islands.  And these 2 vacations introduced us to many of the islands in the eastern Caribbean chain.  We were very fortunate to enjoy these experiences.  Windjammer later declared bankruptcy in 2007. The Mandalay has been purchased by another company and now bases out of Grenada, although her hailing port is Zanzibar.

Sunny Caribe resort in Bequia, newly refurnished
It was a quick trip down from St. Lucia, even allowing for ghosting for 2 hours to make water.  Top boat speed was 9 knots, much to my discomfort.  I really do not like sailing fast.  But most of the trip was only about 7.5 knots and I was happier with that.  6.5 knots would have been perfect, in my opinion.  There was nowhere to anchor that would provide any protection from the north, so we radioed Daffodil to request a mooring.  There is no forecast of winds from the north at this time, but that could change.  Daffodil sent out Didi on Blessing and she assisted us to a mooring.  This mooring has thick new line on it and looks secure.  That is a big problem here in Bequia.  Many people have put down ‘illegal’ moorings throughout the bay.  Those might or, more likely, might not be good moorings.  These moorings break loose frequently.  Daffodil is the only one who has legal moorings and those are inspected and well maintained.

Driving either up or down that very steep drive/road
would make me very, very nervous.
And, oh-my-goodness, are these moorings all placed so close together!!!  There are many more moorings than were here 10 years ago.  And they are so close together it makes me slightly nervous.  If one breaks loose it could be on top of yours within seconds.  Many of these are so close together that there is not enough space for another boat to motor between moored boats.  I am happy with the mooring on which Didi placed us.  There is only one boat to our port side and we should be able to leave this mooring with no crowding issues. 

We paid for a week on this mooring.  Didi said she had never had anyone pay for a full week before.   After a bit of discussion, she charged us for only 6 nights for our 7 night stay.  Bet we do not get that deal again.  She is an interesting island lady.  She lived on a sailboat for 11 years and would like to sail around the world.  Probably will not happen.  But I bet she does know how to sail.

These huge lobster were such a treat!  Delicious!

Minutes after Didi left, a young man arrived with 2 enormous lobsters.  These were the last of his catch.  Lobster season here is finished and the lobstermen are allowed 2 weeks to sell their final trap catch to restaurants and individuals.  There will not be more lobster until the season reopens in September.  These were still active and crawling around the bottom of his little boat.  Together they weighed 6 pounds and we bought both.

The number of homes on Bequia has doubled in
the past decade.  "My" house would be that flat
roofed one on the top of this hill.  It has views
of both Caribbean and the Atlantic.  Looks
rather Frank Lloyd Wright style.

Recently someone gifted us a couple bottles of very nice wine because Bill had helped him with something.   We had already enjoyed that really good bottle of red wine back in Martinique with the last of the really good beef tenderloin that I had bought in the Canary Islands.  Now was time to enjoy that bottle of white.  Bill placed it in the freezer for a quick chill while I steamed both of those enormous lobsters.  I cut up some limes and made drawn butter.  Oh…was this ever a feast!  It has been a very long time since we enjoyed fresh lobsters.  Last time was in the San Blas Islands of Panama in late 2007.  This was a decadent treat that will not be soon forgotten.  And that white wine was superb!  Simply superb.  Went exceptionally well with that delicious lobster!

There are 2 shops in Bequia where model boats are
crafted and sold.  These not not inexpensive.  The
craftsmanship is superb.  This is Mauvin working on
his latest model.

Beginning 11th year of cruising

 2 May 2016

Yesterday Bill and I celebrated the completion of 10 years and the first day of Year 11 living aboard and cruising S/V BeBe.  It feels odd to realize that a full decade of our lives has been enjoyed sailing around the seas and oceans of our world, meeting people of all sorts of cultures and societies and visiting so very many historical sites.  A decade well spent.  And now we look forward to a few more years cruising the Caribbean.

Bill with Rick and Linda of S/V Rascal, a sister-ship
to BeBe.  Tex-Mex dinner aboard BeBe in Le Marin.
There are not all that many places in the Caribbean where we have not yet visited, but there are enough to hold our interest for a few more years.  In particular, we look forward to visiting Barbados in December this year.  Also looking forward to seeing Barbuda; several people have mentioned how beautiful is that island, and we have never seemed to find the time to stop there because it requires first clearing in at Antigua and then sailing back into the wind to get back north to Barbuda.  Hopefully, that will be rectified next winter sailing season, sometime after visiting Barbados, as we will be sailing northward for a few months before once again sailing south for hurricane 2017 hurricane season.

And we very much look forward to sailing to Cuba at some time before it is time for us to swallow the anchor.  (For any landlubbers, ‘swallow the anchor’ is the expression used by cruisers for those of us who stop cruising, usually sell the boat, and move back to land.  Where we will become CLODs = Cruisers Living On Dirt.)  I am afraid that I will find the transition to land life very difficult.  Bill will volunteer once again to work on the tall ship Elissa.  And volunteer to work in the Lone Star Flight Museum because he loves all things related to flight.  I, on the other hand, have no idea what will occupy my time once we swallow that anchor.  So I hope to continue cruising for a few more years.  This is the better life.

Lift it; lock it; or lose it.  Motto of the Caribbean.
Upon departing Marina du Marin last week we anchored in front of St. Anne’s for only 1 night.  We had cleared out of Martinique for Friday departure, but on the spur of the moment around noon on Thursday we weighed anchor and sailed south to St. Lucia.  The winds were solid 25 knots the entire way, hardly any gusting at all, and from 100 to 110 degrees.  It was a pleasant sail on a course of around 200 magnetic.  Weather forecast called for 30-35 knot squalls throughout this section of the Windward islands beginning on Saturday and lasting possibly up to a week.  We took advantage of the good weather to get down to St. Lucia before the bad weather set in.  Glad we did.  It was sunny and fairly clear on Friday as we handled clearance and shopped.  And it has been rainy and sometimes windy ever since.  Kind of makes one get a little stir-crazy closed inside the boat in this yucky weather; one can enjoy reading and lazing about for only so long.  We will remain at anchor in Rodney Bay until this drizzly gray weather improves. 

Took us 8 years to realize that the dinghy could be
lifted using the electric winch in the cockpit.  No
reason it needed to be hung off the main mast;
that mizzen mast works too.  And no hand cranking.
A few unusual things have happened since we anchored here.  First was the night I looked out the side port and saw a boat creeping into the anchorage.  It appeared to be arriving from Martinique or someplace farther north.  It displayed a steaming light and a deck mounted green light, indicating I was seeing its starboard side as it entered ever-so-slowly into this very dark anchorage.  I know that captain was worried about all the unlit or very poorly lit boats in this anchorage; that is the reason he was barely creeping in so slowly.  And then he turned on his tricolor on top of the mast – and I saw a RED light.  While also still seeing the green deck-mounted navigation light.  How could that happen?  Is it possible to install a tricolor fixture upside down, thus placing the red and green on the incorrect sides of the boat?  I do not understand how this very odd and very incorrect navigational lighting could happen.  Weird.  I continued to watch this boat until he was anchored well behind all the other boats (as best I remembered where they were, as it was impossible to see them in the dark because few were correctly lit).  Once anchored, he turned off the deck nav lights and then the steaming light and then the tricolor, and turned on the proper anchor light; and I turned my attention to something else as he was now safe and was not going to collide with us or anyone else.

We do not just lift it.  We also lock it.
Using a Titanium Cable by
Kryptonite and a stainless steel
padlock.  Those SS padlocks are
expensive (about $100) but last
and work well.
Then yesterday a woman on a catamaran began hailing a series of boats, I assume people she knew.  No one answered.  Finally she hailed Rodney Bay Marina and they answered but the marina uses a handheld and the woman on the boat could not hear their weaker transmissions.  This went on for a while and finally she told the marina to just speak with her on Ch 16 since she could not hear them on any other channel.  She explained that she was en route to the marina because her husband apparently had suffered a stroke.  The dock master said he would arrange an ambulance to transport the husband to the hospital and would send out a skiff to assist her in arriving into the marina.  That conversation triggered 3 of her friends who were anchored here to join into the radio conversation and to send out several dinghies to help her into the marina.  They scurried out to the catamaran as soon as it came into view from this anchorage.  Bill started to go help too, but I discouraged this because she already had help from so many people she knows and we are strangers.   She now had plenty of assistance on board  and one man was gathering up the Code Zero sail from the deck as the cat motored quite rapidly through the anchorage and into the marina.  We have heard no further VHF radio traffic and hope the man is okay.  The wife said her husband knew her name but did not know anything else.  This kind of medical emergency can happen anytime, anywhere.  It is nice to know that cruisers are still helpful when something like this happens.  They also are fortunate that this happened while near or at St. Lucia where a hospital is available, and not down somewhere in SVG (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) where medical care is nearly non-existent.  This event exemplifies why it is crucial that both partners be capable of sailing or handling the boat ALONE.  As one never knows when the other person might become incapacitated and YOU must handle that boat alone.  Know how to rig the lines and fenders and how to handle the sails and engine and radios and how to navigate.  Even if you think you will never do those things.  Life has a habit of making us do things we never thought about doing.

Bill did a favor for someone who is looking to buy an
Amel.  In return, that guy bought us a couple of
bottles of wonderful wine.  This was the red.

Close-up of that red.  Highly
recommend this wine.  It was wonderful!

The third unusual thing that has happened is that as I type this posting we are listening to VHF traffic between Fort du France rescue and a sailboat which is on fire.  Several times during these conversations we have heard the name of a boat which we met in Martinique.  We cannot tell if this boat we met is the one on fire or if possibly this boat we met is one of the boats going to assist the boat on fire.  (I do not want to publicly post the name of this boat.) The French do not repeat radio transmissions in English as is done in every other country we have visited.  When the Fort du France rescue guy speaks in English we can understand him, but we are only hearing his side of the conversation; we cannot hear the side of the conversation from the boat which is on fire.  We assume that person on the boat afire is speaking in English because the only time the Fort du France rescue guy speaks in English is when speaking to them.  The rest of the time the conversations are only in French.  Guess if the boat on fire is the boat we know, then we will hear about it via email later.  As for now, we do not understand exactly what is happening.  The 2 things that are clear are that: 1) a boat is at sea and on fire; and, 2) that boat is not willing to abandon ship and is attempting to return to Martinique.  We assume the boats going to their assistance will rescue them if return is not possible, but the burning boat does not want official rescue yet because that means abandoning their vessel.  Something none of us want to do unless there is no other option.  God be with them.