Saturday, 16 February 2013

The last post!

Tuesday, 5th February
Up at 0650, breakfast and tea. Up anchor and under sail by 0745. Heading for Bequia (pronounced Beckway) about 30 miles NNE of Union Island. A long beat north in a NE 15-20 knot wind then tacked eastward to Admiralty Bay. Arrived at 1445 and put down anchor - miles out. Motored ashore in the dinghy  to book in with customs and immigration. Colourful stalls all along the harbour front but we got ripped off buying fruit in the market. The luxury three masted sailing ship that came into Chatham Bay last night is now at anchor in Admiralty Bay, Bequia. It is called Mandalay - must look it up to see about prices for a two week trip next year for Jackie's birthday or our anniversary.

Three masted cruise yacht Mandalay

Looking down on Admiralty Bay, Bequia

After booking in with customs Chris went back to the boat while Simon and I stayed ashore to do emails and have a look round. Chris said he would pick us up from Princess Margaret beach in an hour. We soon realised we couldn't walk along the shore to PM beach, but a local man told us we could get the 'dollar bus' and promptly whistled to the driver of a hand painted purple mini bus that was standing stationary about fifty yards away. The bus reversed back and we climbed aboard. The road was winding and hilly and well worth the one dollar fare (East Caribbean dollars are about four to the GB pound). We got dropped off at the end of an unmade track leading down to PM beach, which is a 300-400 long white sand beach. We waited on the beach waving our arms occasionally at L'Esprit de La Mer moored in the distance (pre-arranged signal!) and eventually Chris came and picked us up in the dinghy. The bay and its beaches are really beautiful but as a consequence very popular with yachties, so the areas in front of the town and beaches are quite crowded with boats, many of them charter boats.
Princess Margaret Beach, Bequia

Chris made turkey surprise for dinner (chunks of turkey breast in a sauce he concocted with green beans and rice). Very tasty but far too much of it. Chris stated he was full up and threw most of his over the side - then suggested we should have cheese and biscuits!

Thursday, 7th February
Last night Chris announced a change of plan! We are having another day here at Bequia then going back SE to Mustique on Friday. Will have to get a T shirt there to go with the Bequia one I bought yesterday.
Robinson Crusoe? Or just Mike on the beach at Hope Bay, on the Atlantic side of Bequia?

Up at a reasonable hour this morning and after we'd had breakfast Simon rowed me ashore to catch the ferry to the island of St Vincent. Ferry times are not very reliable but we left at 0940 and the crossing to Kingstown took about one hour (45Eastern Caribbean dollars return - about £10). Spent a couple of hours wandering around looking for fresh fruit: St Vincent is the place to buy fruit, apparently, as they supply all the smaller islands, but all I managed to get was a bunch of seven bananas for less than £1 - no sign of any ripe mangos or pineapples. Got the 1300 ferry, which actually left at 1345, back to Bequia and must have fallen asleep on passage - I woke up as we were docking.
Kingstown Ferry Terminal, St Vincent
Once back on Bequia I bought five ripe mangos for 10EC  dollars (about £2.50) and a coconut-and-cherry ice cream which I ate as I made my way to the Internet cafe.  
Sent e mails then caught bus to Princess Margaret beach and started waving my arms  at Espirit de la Mer to be picked up(our usual signal).  
There is a problem with generator - it starts but cuts out when any electrical load is applied to inverter. We spent all evening trying to decide where the problem lies but were unable to resolve it.

It now looks as if we will be heading up to St Lucia tomorrow, rather than Mustique, as there are boat yards there with electricians and chandlers where we may be able to sort out the generator.

Friday, 8th February
Spent the morning taking various bits off the generator to see if we can find the fault. No joy. Went ashore to PM beach to snorkel and sunbathe. Back to boat for lunch then more work on generator - still no joy. We decided to move on tomorrow to St Lucia so went ashore to book out with customs and immigration. Chris thinks he can get spare parts for generator shipped out from the UK or Italy if they're not available in St Lucia and if it costs too much for repair work there we may return to Trinidad, where he is confident the work can be done much more cheaply. If spares/repair can't be obtained/done Chris has suggested the Pacific trip may have to be cancelled/postponed as he is not keen on doing the crossing without generator/water maker.
Spag bog for dinner.

View from cafe across Admiralty Bay, Bequia
Saturday, 9th February
Up at 0730 and usual breakfast. Weighed anchor and mainsail up by 0830. Lovely sail across to St Vincent then up the west side of the island. Very light wind here so engine on and motor sailing. Once N of St Vincent the wind picked up again and we had a brisk sale up to St Lucia. The Pitons mountains on the SW corner of the island make a very dramatic sight. Continued up the west coast of the island and eventually reached Rodney Bay at about 2300. Spag Bog for a late supper and bed at 0015.


The Pitons, St Lucia

Sunday, 10th February
Email to Jackie:
Hi Pongle,
1100hrs and sitting in cafe with Simon in Rodney Bay Marina, St Lucia while Chris books us in with customs and immigration. This is a fabulous place filled with super yachts, a Sandalls Resort Hotel, lovely beaches and lots of fancy, expensive beach-side houses.
The luxury sailing cruisers all look very nice but I agree with you about chartering a yacht next year and doing our own thing. There are loads of 40ft catamarans and monohulls for charter which would give us loads of room to romp about and we could sail up from Grenada to Union Island, Bequia then back via Mustique (which we haven't visited).
Did you have a nice meal with Jim and Maureen? Have they any plans for sailing this year?
I think we are going to move into the marina for a couple of days while Chris tries to get the generator repaired so I should have good access to Internet for a while. I'll try Skyping you later.
Fresh fruit seller, Rodney Bay Marina
Sunday, 10th February
Up just before 0800 and took photos of monster luxury sail cruiser, old sailing boat and Sandalls hotel resort. Quick swim around boat then we moved to other side of bay to go ashore and book in with immigration and customs. Rodney Bay Marina is very plush and not as expensive as you would expect. Sat having a coffee while Chris booked us in. Used wifi connection, sent emails and had Skype conversation with Jackie and Rose (six-year-old granddaughter).
'monster' luxury sail cruiser
Walked around bay to find electrical engineer's premises so Chris can go there tomorrow morning, and back to marina where we watched the last 15m inutes of England v Ireland rugby match in the Six Nations Tournament.
I told Chris that although I have really enjoyed the trip so far,  I have made the reluctant decision to return to the UK rather than carry on to do the Pacific crossing, although I am willing to stay on as far as Panama if needed. He is going to see if his American friend, Eric, can fly out to here and join the boat to get experience before the Pacific. If that happens I will probably fly home from StLucia (apparently there is a daily flight to the UK from here).
Back to the boat for cheese, tom and cu sarnies for lunch.
Roast beef for dinner followed by further discussion re my decision.
We are moving into the marina tomorrow morning for one night.
Monday, 11th February
Didn't sleep well last night. Up at 0715 for cereals, mango and tea then moved into marina (berth E8).

Couldn't log into marina wifi servers so ended up going to Elena's cafe, buying a cup of coffee and using their free(?) wifi. Had nice long Skype conversation with Jackie.

Three bags of laundry to 'Suds' - 50ECdollars (about £12.50) ready for collection in about two hours.

Returned to boat and made beef, tom and cu sarnies for lunch.

Electrical engineer had been to boat in the morning and it looks as if the generator can be repaired here. He or his boss was supposed to come back later but he didn't turn up!

Simon and I went shopping in the afternoon.

Pork chops for dinner with 'christophers' (a sort of courgette) and rice - delicious.

Tuesday, 12th February
Email to Jackie:
Hi Pongle
Repairs to the generator are likely to take up to a couple of weeks and Chris still doesn't know when or where Eric will join the yacht. Since the boat is not going far I am coming home, as I don't see much point in sitting here in the marina or at anchor in the bay outside.
I have booked a seat on British Airways flight number BA2158 leaving St Lucia at 2025 on Thursday, 14th February and arriving at Gatwick at 0830 on Friday, 15th February. Will get a train from Gatwick back to Fishguard. Will call you when I get back to the UK to let you know I have arrived okay.

Wednesday, 13th February
Up at usual time and went for a shower - water not very hot. Back to boat for usual breakfast.
Booked taxi to take me to the airport tomorrow afternoon.

Simon and I caught the local bus into Castries, capital of St Lucia, and spent quite a long time wandering around the market. Lots of fruits and spices as well as local craft stalls etc. Bought several bits and pieces to take home.
 Very big tree in the centre of Castries, St Lucia
Even bigger tree in Derek Walcott Park, Castries
Derek Walcott OBE is a St Lucian poet and playwright who recieved the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992. He is currently professor of poetry at the University of Essex.
As if he would! Mike shopping in Castries market, St Lucia on his final day in the Caribbean. 
Got the bus back to the marina and Chris made sarnies for lunch. Out to the beach at Rodney Bay for a final swim in the Caribbean before leaving tomorrow.

Simon is making dinner tonight - pork chops, potatoes and salad - I think.
This is the final entry of my trip - I hope you've enjoyed reading it! If you'd like to carry on reading about the rest of the round-world voyage of L'Esprit de la Mer, you can follow Dr Chris Bates's blog at 

Monday, 4 February 2013

Grenada bound

Monday, 28th January
Pirate Bay
Up, breakfast and pottered about on boat, reading etc. Eventually went ashore to try and get Internet connection and some more cash. Back to boat for cold roast pork, tomato and cucumber sarnies for lunch.
Swam ashore to Pirate Bay beach and back for a bit of exercise. It was interesting getting ashore in the strong surf and getting back out again! Swimming back to the boat I realised the bay was full of small jelly fish, about 3" in diameter. There were thousands of them and they appeared to have been swept into the bay in the big swell. Tried taking photo of them but they were too indistinguishable.
Sweet and sour pork with rice for dinner.

Tuesday, 29th January
Up just before 0700 and breakfast before heading off. Weighed anchor under motor at 0740 and headed out of bay. There was a following wind so we motor-sailed with no.2 genoa and then later changed to no.1 genoa. Made good progress down to Store Bay where we put down anchor at 1215. On the way there we saw some dolphins and lots more flying fish. Had the last of the roast pork in sarnies for lunch. Chris stayed on board trying to unblock/fix the toilet in the forward heads while Simon and I went ashore to get diesel in cans and some fresh veg for tonight's dinner.
Back on  the boat Chris had managed to unblock the pipe but had had to cut it to get it out: now, without the fitting attached to one end, it wouldn't go back on. He eventually gave up and will buy a new pipe when we get back to Chaguaramus. Chris went ashore to buy peppers for tonight's dinner, and beer.
The beach here at Store Bay is lovely soft fine white sand and the water is clear. I swam ashore, helped Chris launch the dinghy and then swam back to the boat. Spent rest of the afternoon and evening relaxing on board.

It was my turn to cook and I made carbonara for dinner: onions, butter, bacon, milk, spaghetti and milk - it tasted delicious and went down well. Chris wanted garlic in it but I left that out. Went to bed about 2130 leaving Chris and Simon still trying to download Mailasail (automatic global weather forecasts via satellite phone and email) onto the boat's computer.  The plan is for an early start tomorrow, back to Chaguaramus, Trinidad.
No photos taken today 

Wednesday, 30th January
Up at 0615, made tea and had breakfast. Weighed anchor at 0650 and motored out of Store Bay. Only about 5-6 knots of wind so it looks as if we might be motoring all the way back to Trini. Dropped anchor in Chaguaramus Bay at 1740, as all visitor moorings were occupied, including lots of Dutch boats. They are probably visitors for the Trini Carnival which starts on 10th February. The crossing from Tobago was a mixture of motor, sail and motor-sailing as winds were following and light for most of the time.

Simon and I went ashore to send e-mails, leaving Chris on board still trying to sort out his computer systems. When we got back C was still struggling with them. Eventually, with help from Simon, he appeared to have made some progress, at which point it was left to Simon and me to cook dinner - corned beef hash ( very tasty).

No photos today.
Thursday, 31st January
Got up at 0700 and made tea and breakfast. Once the others were up and sorted we went ashore to use the Internet and do laundry while Chris went to the chandlery to get a new waste pipe for his toilet. The life raft is now ready and will probably be delivered tomorrow, Friday, and I think we will be heading north on Saturday.

In the afternoon we went ashore again again to notify customs we had arrived and would be leaving on Saturday, did more shopping for food, and an electric plug adaptor and shore power cable connector, but I couldn't find a suitable shore power connector.
Chris is cooking dinner tonight - spaghetti bog.

No photos today

Friday, 1st February
Simon up at 0730 making tea so I got up. Had breakfast then went ashore to Internet and chandlery. Back to boat, then Simon and I went ashore again to get a bus into Port of Spain for shopping while Chris waited for the life raft to be delivered. Back on boat again by 1230 then ashore to clear immigration & customs and collect pre-ordered duty free drinks. Headed back to the boat with supplies but ran out of petrol and had to paddle the last 300 metres.
We're getting pizza take-away for dinner tonight and tomorrow, to use up the last of our Trinidadian dollars.
Planning on an early start tomorrow morning, northwards, almost three weeks after arriving in Trinidad!

Saturday, 2nd February
Up at 0450 made tea and had cereal. Weighed anchor at 0550 when dawn arrived and motored out of anchorage into clear water. Raised mainsail and untangled reefing lines. Cleared passage at 0630 and headed north from Trinidad towards Grenada. Full main and no.1 genoa but not a great deal of wind. Stayed like this all morning but wind picked up in the afternoon and we then had a good sail all the way up to Grenada, although it poured with rain for a good part of the afternoon and evening. Dropped anchor off Georgetown at 2121. Did not go ashore.

We saw one small pod of dolphins, several flying fish and the Hibiscus gas field on way.
Georgetown, Grenada

Sunday, 3rd February
Currently at Carriacou, an island just north of Grenada. Spent last night at Georgetown, Grenada. We're leaving tomorrow morning for Union Island,  the next one up the chain,which is small but we're told it has a beautiful beach.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Wednesday, 23rd January
Slept right through until 0616and got up half an hour later. Tea and usual breakfast then off to immigration and customs to let them know we would be sailing from Trinidad to Tobago. Motored off mooring and out of Chagauramas Bay. Once clear we raised the mainsail and motor sailed through the sound into the Caribbean Sea then we let out the no.2 genoa and switched the engine off. Tacked eastward along Trinidad’s north coast to an anchorage in Maracas Bay, about half way along. We saw two large pods of dolphins on passage.

Maracus Bay

Cheese, tomato and onion sarnies for lunch at 1500hrs. Swam ashore after lunch but visibility through water was only about three to four feet. Returned to boat and spent rest of the afternoon reading.
Chris cooked roast lamb, potatoes and beans for dinner. Having an earlyish night as we plan an early departure in the morning.

Thursday, 24th January
Slept badly, thanks to a slight swell that kept the boom swinging noisily. We were up at 0615 and away just before 0700. Very cloudy over the hills. We motor-sailed along the coast for about 15-20 miles and then sailed north towards Tobago, with wind and tide against us all the way and heavy rain or drizzle most of the day. By about 1500 we were approximately 15 miles NW of the southern end of Tobago and Chris put the motor on. At 1630 I got my first sight of Tobago through the rain and cloud – it was still about 12 miles away.

At 1730 it started getting dark and by 1830 it was completely black. We motored slowly into Store Bay and put down anchor at 1930 without hitting any of the numerous yachts at anchor without lights.

No photos today because the weather was so grim - poor visibility and wet (but still warm).

 I’m writing this while Chris cooks pork stew for dinner.

Friday, 25th January
Good night’s sleep but woken at 0515 by torrential rain. Went and got my washing off the guard rails then went back to bed for an hour before getting up at 0730 for the usual breakfast and tea. We set off under motor in NE direction up the coast of Tobago,  heading for Charlottesville. There was only about 10knots of wind coming from the NE so no point putting up any sail. We saw lots of pelicans feeding on fish near the surface and lots of flying fish. The weather this morning is much better, slightly cooler but no rain.

Motoring up the north coast of Tobago
We arrived in Pirate Bay, Charlottesville and put down 50m of chain and 20m of rope in 20m of water. It’s a beautiful sheltered bay with fine sandy beaches. We went ashore to get a roti for lunch but everywhere was sold out or shut by 1330.

Pirate Bay, Charlottesville

Next we went to the customs and immigration office to notify them of our arrival. As we walked back to the jetty a couple stopped to ask if we knew anywhere they could get something to eat. The guy looked vaguely familiar (a bit like Mark Ward but obviously not Mark). He eventually turned to me and said I looked familiar to him, and asked my name. I told him and he said he was Phil Nash. We were in the same sixth form class at Wymondham College. He and his wife Barbara are on a two week holiday in Tobago. Small world!

Old school chums: Mike with Phil and Barbara Nash

Simon and I walked up the road to ‘Lookout’, from where there were panoramic views down into Charlottesville and to London Bridge and St Giles on the northern tip of the island. The road up to ‘Lookout’ is very steep (1 in 4 in places) and the verge is a mass of wonderful vegetation. We found a cow tethered on the verge two-thirds of the way up. Then when we were three-quarters of the way up it started to pour with rain, which was very refreshing. Back at sea level we treated ourselves to an ice cream and cold drink. The ice cream was coconut and cherry flavour and was delicious (my first ice cream of the holiday).
Roadside cow

Examples of roadside flora 
We walked back along a track leading to a beach at Pirate Bay from where we were to wave at Chris on the boat so he could come and get us in the dinghy. Needless to say he didn't see us so I stripped to my underwear, swam back to the boat and returned with the dinghy to collect Simon.

Must close now as we are going back to the boat for dinner. Chris is cooking beef stew.

Saturday, 26th January
Chris's birthday. We breakfasted at a leisurely pace and enjoyed toast and marmalade then swam ashore and back. A local fisherman came by trying to sell fish. Simon and I arranged to go out fishing with him tomorrow morning at 0600hrs.

At 1000hrs Simon and I set off for a two hour walk round the other side of bay. Again, there were very steep hills out to Campbeltown Point and the old fort, with spectacular views across the bay. Returned to main road and continued round the coast till the hour was up and then headed back. Bananas, cocoa, coconuts, mangoes and some other fruits grow wild along the roadside.
View of bay from Campbeltown Fort

Mike and canon at Campbeltown Fort

Back in Charlottesville the cafe Chris had arranged for us to go to for his birthday lunch was closed because the woman ‘not feeling too good to cook’. The only other place open was only doing soup – pig tail and cow heel. We didn't fancy that! so it was back to the boat for cheese, tomato and cucumber sandwiches instead. We prepared the sandwiches then went for another swim around the boat to cool down and freshen up before eating them.

Spent the afternoon on the boat reading and then went ashore to try and get an Internet connection. Successful! Sent Thursday’s and Friday’s notes to Jackie for the blog, plus 17 photos and a quick email to her too. Returned to the boat with a crate of lager and a freshly baked loaf of bread. We had braised beef and veg for dinner then set up a preventer to stop the boom swinging about and making loud squeaking noises all night.

Tobago is a beautiful island but very laid back. The weather is still good but showers come down quite frequently.

Laid back: Simon with Store Bay, Tobago in the background
Sunday, 27th January
Woke up a couple of times during the night, to the sound of pouring rain but otherwise slept well and the boom preventer worked. We got up at 0530, had a cup of tea and were ready to go fishing as arranged at 0600. Fisherman turned up at 0700! Still raining and very cloudy but off we went, trolling four brightly coloured lures behind us. Caught one skipjack tuna fairly quickly but nothing else in the two hours we were out. Came back in early as torrential rain clouds came over and we got soaked. Back on board for breakfast of cereal and banana then barbecued tuna for lunch on the beach.
Spent most of the afternoon on boat.
Roast pork for evening meal.


Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Heading out . . . and back again!

About the boat
Note from Jackie: sailors reading this may want to know a little about the yacht and her equipment - thanks Dave Underhill for suggesting it. This is as much as I've been able to glean so far and I will add to the list if any more information is forthcoming:
  • the boat's name is Espirit de la Mer
  • she is a 41ft Beneteau
  • gizmos include wind and water generator, air conditioning, Raymarine navigation system, satellite telephone, washing machine and a life raft (when it eventually gets serviced).
Monday, 21st January
Slept really well last night but woke up at about 0600hrs. Now sitting up in my cabin reading my updated blog, which arrived during the night, and starting today's notes.
1000hrs: Chris phoned regarding the life raft. Still no news - to ring back at 1400hrs.
Readied the boat to move out of Coral Cove Marina. Couldn't unplug shore supply cable from stern socket of boat. Didn't want to risk damaging it so asked Chris to see if he could do it. After a lot of muttering he pulled it free but it may be damaged.

Headed off to Chacachacare Island, the most westerly of Trinidad's off-lying islands. Mainsail up but not really enough wind so motor-sailed in flat calm conditions. Joined by two dolphins who swim under our bow for a while.-
A dolphin rides the bow wave.

The island was a leper colony until about 1960. Anchored up in Sanders Bay and rowed ashore in dinghy to look at remains of abandoned village. Back to boat for cheese, tomato and onion sarnies for lunch. Headed back to mainland as we couldn't get a phone signal for Chris to chase up life raft. Full main sail and inner gib but wind was very fickle, constantly changing direction and strength.

Anchored in Scotland Bay (west end of Trinidad island) - beautiful and very tranquil apart from two powerboats with loud stereo systems. They eventually left at 1800hrs. Donned mask,fins and snorkel and swam ashore. Saw several small jellyfish (like light bulbs) and a number of different types of small fish.

Chris cooked spaghetti bog for dinner.

View of Espirit de la Mer from Scotsman's bay

 Mike snorkeling - it looks vaguely like him, but isn't he pale!
Tuesday, 22nd January
Spent very peaceful night at anchor. Up at 0730hrs for breakfast then up anchor and motored back to Chagauramas for some more stocks and a final(?) attempt to find out what is happening with the life-raft. Picked up visitor mooring and went ashore to for some shopping. Called at Peakes' Boat Yard to use Internet cafe, forgetting that all electric power was off in the area today. Returned to the boat and spent the rest of the morning reading on board.

Made chicken and tomato sarnies for lunch then went ashore to Coral Cove for a swim in their pool. Pool closed for maintenance and still no Internet server connection. Managed to get into shower block and had much needed shower. Back to boat, and at last we seem to have a decision on the life raft. It is going to take a week to get parts, put it together again and deliver it and it will cost Chris nearly as much as he paid for it new. It looks as if we are going to
  • book out with customs tomorrow morning
  • sail around the top of Trinidad and put into a sheltered cove on the north coast for the night
  • sail over to Tobago on Thursday
  • spend the weekend there
  • come back here beginning of next week to pick up life raft then
  • head off north to Grenada and beyond. 
Plan B? . . . . .

Assuming we stick to the latest plan -whatever that is - it may be some time before I can make contact again as I don't know where on Tobago we will be or whether there will be Internet access there.
1700hrs rowed ashore to Peakes' Boat Yard to send e-mails.
Mike preparing to go ashore.
Mike on board Espirit de la Mer.
Chris at the wheel, silhouetted against the sun.
A hazy view of the Venezuelan skyline, seen from the deck of the yacht.

Sunday, 20 January 2013


And they're off

 This is Mike's first post on arrival in Trinidad, on Sunday, 13th January 2013. 
Didn't sleep too well in the airport hotel last night - room too hot. Got up and went down for the 'last breakfast'. Fresh fruit salad plus the full works. Bus to Gatwick North Terminal where we met up with Chris and checked in. Chris had two seats right at the front of the plane and Simon and I were in the very rear row. Ten hour very noisy flight with quite a lot of turbulence. Arrived at Port of Spain at 11.30pm, eventually collected pre booked hire car and drove to Chagauramas in the north west of the island. Put bags etc on board, went for a drink (two iced beers) then back to boat and bed (0130hrs).

Monday 14th January
Got up once during the night but woke up several more times with mozzies buzzing around my head. Despite this I slept well but kept the others awake with my snoring. Got up at about 06.30, went for shave and shower and back to boat before the others were up. Once Chris was up we got electrics connected up and had mug of tea. Chris went off to buy anti foul etc and when he returned Simon and I applied two coats, finishing work at about 12.30. Went for another shower then out of boatyard to buy 'rotis' for lunch - like a nan bread wrapped around beef and other bits and pieces - very nice but very filling. 

Eventually we headed off in the car to a beach further up the coast and our first swim. Water not quite as warm as I thought it would be but still very nice and refreshing after all the morning's hard work. Big swell rolling into the little bay making it quite interesting with big rollers coming in and then very strong back tow as the waves went out again. Back in the car and into Port of Spain to get diesel for the boat, petrol for the car and food for us. Chris couldn't remember the way to the garage so we ended up having a tour of the town. Eventually got about 70-80 litres of diesel for 100 Trinidadian dollars - about £10! Next to the supermarket for some provisions - food for tonight's meal and breakfast in the morning, plus cans of beer and bottles of tonic.

We hope to be launching the boat on Wednesday and moving to a marina just a short distance along the coast, where we will continue preparing the boat and loading up with provisions.

No photos today, although I wish I had taken the camera with me to the beach when we went swimming. 

Tuesday 15th January
Covered in bug bites!

Wednesday 16th January
Another reasonable night's sleep - sweating buckets and completely buried in duvet cover to evade mozzies. Haven't used any of my spray yet but Chris has been spraying the boat with his. Up about 07.30  and made mugs of tea. Started doing maintenance work on boat then stopped for breakfast - cornflakes, banana and paw paw - before hosing/scrubbing down topsides of boat. Got soaked to the skin but it was not unpleasant because of the heat. I think we are going to be doing some more jobs on the boat this morning and driving round to the next marina to sus out where we are going to be moored. Launching this afternoon all being well. Will be nice to get on the water at last.

Simon and I came down here to the internet room  after breakfast to look up the weather forecast on the u-grib site.  Fortunately a member of staff was present and he showed me how to get onto the site; wind strength and direction look okay for the next five days.
Four photos taken today of the boat in the boat yard. Here's one of them:

1315hrs and no sign of boat hoist/trailer which should have been here at 1300hrs. Chris went off to locate hoist crew and they turned up at 1330. A very impressive operation of 'big boy toys'  got the boat in the water and we set off around the corner and into Coral Cove Marina. Tied up to our pontoon by about 1400hrs. Chris went off to book us in and I took some more photos and made cups of tea. Chris and Simon walked back to collect hire car from Peaks Boat Yard while I stood guard and wrote up this diary. We then headed in to Port of Spain to get more diesel but were thwarted by a long traffic queue so turned round and went to a local supermarket for food for tonight plus wine and beer. Back to boat then to small swimming pool to soak in cool water. Lots of osprey (sea eagle) and frigate birds circling around overhead but too high up to get decent photo.  Chris is cooking dinner tonight - Pembrokeshire spaghetti bog!

Thursday 17th January
Air con all through the night allowed me to sleep right through without waking in a pool of sweat. No mozzies either. Got up at 0630hrs and made mug of tea. Simon up but Chris having a lie in. Playing around with i-pad but none of the photos I tried sending yesterday has gone. Will have to try sending them one at a time later today.

Managed a Skype conversation with Jackie but connection not brilliant.

Chris eventually managed to get his satelite phone linked to his computer so we can get weather forecasts when we are at sea and he also got the chart plotter working so he is now a happy bunny.

Went into Port of Spain for a final purchase of diesel so we should now have sufficient for the whole trip and then went to Macqueripe Bay again for a swim (picture below).
On the way we stopped and had a short walk up a trail into the rain forest which was awesome. Loads of bamboo trees growing densely together. Unfortunately my camera batteries seem to be playing up so couldn't take any photos. Nowhere near as much swell in the sea today so very pleasant and refreshing.

Back to the boat for afternoon tea and Jackie's Christmas cake. Chris seemed to really enjoy it but then complained he had not been given a warning that it contained nuts - despite the top of the cake being covered with them!

The life-raft is not going to be ready for possibly another three weeks so the current plan is to dash up the Caribbean chain of islands to Martinique then back here to Trinidad to pick up the liferaft, and then head off again towards Panama via a route yet to be decided.

Strombolis for dinner (pizza base wrapped around filling -vegetarian and ham) then spent evening discussing plan of attack. Latest plan is that we may go down to Guyana. We have until Monday to decide on plans B, C, D, E . . .

Friday 18th January
We sat up quite late last night discussing plans A-Z.

Good night's sleep but woke up cold and put T shirt on. Air con in the boat works really well: having cooled the interior down from 27 to 18 degrees, it is also keeping the mozzies away. Up at 0630hrs and down-loaded Jackie's photos of the snow at home - looks horrendous. Now sitting in cockpit drinking second mug of tea of the day in warm sunshine.

Chris and Simon (the picture of sartorial elegance below) went off to Port of Spain to get food shopping while I stayed on the boat waiting for gas man and reading up passage plans to Guyana. Once they returned and we'd stowed all the food away I made corned beef, tomato and chutney sandwiches for lunch. Still no sign of the gas man so Simon volunteered to stay and wait while Chris and I went off to the beach again for a final swim before returning the hire car. The gas man turned up after we got back from the beach.

Spent the afternoon just sitting in the cockpit reading sailing guides.

Huge pizza for evening meal followed by an early night as we are going to check out the boat (rigging etc) tomorrow - me being the lightest going up the mast.

Saturday 19th January
Good night's sleep but feeling stuffed from too much pizza last night! None of my photos have gone home via the ether so I walked down the road to Peakes Boat Yard to see if they would go from there. Back to the boat and a lesson from Chris on how to use the all singing and dancing Raymarine. A seal on the starboard side saloon hatch has gone so Chris is trying to replace it with a spare but the spare looks as if it will break if stretched too much!

Corned beef, tomato and pickle sarnies for lunch. Swim in the pool followed by afternoon tea and more Christmas cake. We just sat around on boat for the rest of the afternoon/evening waiting for the gas man to bring the cylinder back but he didn't turn up. Adjusted bow mooring lines, one of which had got caught up on a nail sticking out of the pile. Huge pizza for evening meal again.

Sunday 20th January
E-mail from Coral Cove is hopeless. It's 0740 here and I've walked back round to Peakes Boat Yard where I am sitting in the shade outside their internet office. I hadn't received anything yesterday and I don't think any of my emails have gone anywhere except for the ones when I came round here. Switched on my i-pad and there were seven waiting for me (some from Jackie and some from Helen for Simon - he's been using this i-pad to contact her).

I'm not sure what the little yellow bird is in this photo (pomarine jaeger - Jackie) but there are a lot of them here. I've also got a nice photo of a small dark grey heron walking past the back of the boat. There are loads of osprey,frigate birds and pelicans flying around but not really close enough to take a picture of.

Been out here a week now and we haven't had a sail up yet!The plan still seems to be that we'll move out of the marina tomorrow or Tuesday and move over to one of the small islands just off Chagauramas Bay to wait till we find out what is happening with the liferaft. I'll send this now and have one more go at sending one photo from here before I go back to the boat for some breakfast.

Latest pictures, showing sunny Caribbean views - received in a frozen Wales on Sunday evening, 20th January.

Sunday, 20th January - final message of the day!
It rained early in the morning and my deck shoes, which had been left on the pontoon, were wet inside but they soon dried out. Enjoyed a Skype call from David and Faye Underhill in the Canaries - pretty good reception. Made Skype call to Jackie - nice to see and hear her although reception is not brilliant and there seems to be quite a delay in transmission and reception.

Spent rest of morning pottering about on boat, inflating dinghy and playing around with spinnaker pole.

Simon made cheese,tomato and onion sarnies for lunch.

More lounging about in the afternoon plus a quick swim in the pool before it clouded over and started to rain. Tea and the last of the Christmas cake. Chris is cooking dinner again tonight - chicken I think.



Friday, 28 December 2012

Getting ready . . .

. . . to pack:  everything from Tilley hat to Bedside Sudoku, life jacket to fins!

Some people will do anything to get away from a Pembrokeshire winter!

Here we are at the start of Mike's blog of his 2013 voyage. In a couple of weeks he will leaving home to join Chris and Simon on Chris's yacht Espirit de la Mer in Trinidad. They will have a bit of a potter around the Caribbean before sailing from Trinidad and through the Panama Canal. From Panama, Simon may fly back to the UK, leaving Mike and Chris to cross the Pacific Ocean by themselves.

Mike's blog, did we say? Well actually, I (wife Jackie) am doing it on his behalf - he hasn't quite mastered blogging yet (come to think of it, neither have I!).

All plans are now pretty well laid and our kitchen cupboards are groaning under the weight of Fray Bentos tinned pies: chicken & mushroom, steak & ale, four of each. He may well be adding the remains of our Christmas cake, a supply of Earl Grey tea bags and his recipe for easy bread.

As well as snorkelling and sailing gear, swimwear and shorts, he is taking with him:

one digital camera for stills pictures
one head-cam for action shots
one mp3 player (he can't go without Katherine Jenkins!)
one heavily loaded Kindle to fill boring hours in the Doldrums, and
one i-Pad, for keeping in touch by email

The intrepid mariners will leave their respective homes in Pembrokshire and Carmarthenshire on 12th Janaury and travel by train to Gatwick, flying out the next day for Port of Spain. In the meantime, there's nothing much to add - just watch this space for updates as and when he is able to access wi-fi and send his progress reports.

And before anyone asks - the reason I (Jackie) am not going too is that I can't bear to put our three dogs in kennels for an indefinite period and yes, I am happy for him to go without me!

 9th January 2013
Things are hotting up now - only two more days before he sets off - bags all packed and ready to go. Six months supply of prescription tablets, several tins of mosquito spray, gallons of sunscreen and, as you can see, he's well stocked up on teabags (300 Earl Grey), eight Fray Bentos  meat pies (four each of  steak-n-ale & chicken-n-mushroom), plus a pot of easy-to-use yeast granules. Yeast? Well in the Pacific they won't be able to pop into the nearest Gregg's for their morning rolls and Mike will have to take his turn at on-board bread-making. 

As everyone who knows Mike is aware, he's never been one to turn away from a challenge, and even though I've been nagging him to 'be more careful' in case he injures himself and puts his trip in jeopardy, he has, as usual, ignored me. So far in the past week he's attempted to climb the 30 foot mast on our boat using a borrowed mast ladder that didn't fit, got himself a bash on the forehead with a squash racquet, bloodied the top of his head on a low beam in the boat-shed and just to top it all, this morning saw him shinning up the roof ladder to fix a fallen slate while I waited below and prayed he wouldn't fall off! 

So what were we doing in the boat-shed on a bitterly cold January day? As usual, the Williamsons were the only people mad enough to want to take their boat out in near freezing conditions! I think Mike just wants to be able to remember what conditions are like here when he arrives in the warmth of the Caribbean! So off we went for a trundle around Fishguard Bay on the first sunny day we've had for weeks. Not for long though - the sun soon dipped behind the headland, sending us scuttling back to our mooring and home for a cup of tea.

We've spent the past few weeks enjoying and appreciating the hospitality of friends, all anxious to have a 'last supper' with Mike before he sets off. A big thank you to you all for your kindness, interest and generosity. Keep checking the blog for progress reports.