Fun at Sea

Position: 42.04N 020.36W
Day’s Run: 154M
Speed: 5.5 knots
Course: 080T
Wind: S 10 knots

Last night’s 1800-2100 watch was amazing, even though it was raining and blowing 30 knots. It was just me on deck when the first drops of rain hit but I’d been caught out too many times not to immediately slip into my oilies and put on my Pablo beanie – I was very grateful I’d done this!

The wind picked up under the rain cloud pretty slowly but kept increasing over a course of half an hour and then whipping up to 30 knots, I had already rolled in the jib and felt comfortable with just the main and mizzen up. We were surfing along at 8.5 knots so I called Mummy up to make sure everything was comfortable down below. Because of the very heavy rain the waves were flattened out a bit so there everyone could sleep, although I don’t think anyone did!

I had snuggled into a corner underneath the spray hood for warmth and took my first look around. It was quite weird because even though it was rainy, it was no longer chucking it down and the wind wasn’t creating a monster of a sea and our visibility was still pretty good. Out to the West the sun was very slowly setting and had created a golden glow across the sky and as the rain fell the rain drops looked like golden flecks and the light had also illuminated the sails, it was pretty!

Daddy joined me at about 2045 and we discussed the weather, wind and sail trimming. I hadn’t realised by this time but I couldn’t feel my bare feet so I went down below to make coffee and put on some woolly socks.

The weather has calmed dramatically over the last 16 hours and we are now slowly creeping along at 5.5 knots over quiet, calm sea. Everyone is well and we are spending the day drying off in the sun and blue sky.

Daisy

Romping towards Europe

Position – 37’38’N 38’41’W
Wind – 20-25 knots
Speed – 7.5 knots
Daily run – 173 miles

It’s weird, if you look on the chart, we are so very close to the Azores and when we reach the Azores we will be in Europe, and close to home. Dora’s very excited about this.

We are all very excited about arriving in the Azores, we’ve been researching with our guide books and it looks beautiful! I think we are also all itching to get on some of the lushest green hikes…

Sailing around at 7 1/2 knots, progress is fast and we plan to arrive on Thursday morning – a very impressive crossing! The wind has been blowing at 25 knots and although it’s quite uncomfortable, we’re coping and it’s worth it because she’s zooming along!

Nothing much going on

Position: 36’30’N 49’00’W
Course: 095
Wind: S 15 knots
Speed: 7 knots

Daily blog post which is probably going to be really, really boring because nothings happening – by Daisy

Nothing much is really going on at the moment, we are on a beam reach (which is quite uncomfortable) and we are celebrating being halfway back to Europe.
The weather has continued to stay ‘nice’ and dry and the wind is staying between 15-20 knots to the south. But that’s really about it! There still haven’t been any serious disasters and we are all well.
Daisy x

Battered like fish

Position: 33’46’N 61’10’W
Course: 080
Day run: 175
Speed: 7 knots
Wind: SSW 14-20

We were battered yesterday. The wind was gusting 35 knots and the sea lumpy and the rain continual. We had the Mizzen and Genoa up and were making 9 knots!

I really enjoyed it when we were making faster progress, the thrill of the speed and waves coming up to meet you like you are a celebrity, bashing against the side of the boat trying to get a better look and the disappearing under the boat gushing the hull side ways – I think I was the only one who enjoyed yesterday! Dora was feeling ill and Daddy busy repairing tow generator (this is how we make electricity), we will not be able to fix it, so need to hand steer all the way to the Azores which will be hard work because only three of us are really capable of this!

We also all got drenched, the rain poured brutally and continuously until 6,  by which time we were all freezing. We started hearing thunder and seeing lightning around 8 and this stayed with us the majority of the evening making us hold our breath!

So really yesterday wasn’t a brilliant day for most, but the wind has died considerably to 14-20 knots and the sun has come out.

Daisy

Living in St George’s

I feel like I’ve really got to know this small town on the tip of the Bermuda Triangle, not because I’ve been going around visiting every museum I can find but because I have simply been doing everything I would do if back in Woodbridge. These errands include running, walking dogs, provisioning and even walking through the town square every morning (Evelyn)!

We did go to the town’s heritage museum which was really interesting, we basically learned how the first settlers on the island lived and what things haven’t changed since then…

Peering into the Unfinished Church

English sailors first arrived on Bermuda in 1612 where they began to build settlements. Obviously they needed to build houses for shelter and warmth but they hadn’t bought any architects with them (surprisingly) so the captain instructed the ship’s carpenters and designers to do the job – we can see this because most of the early day houses were built similar to a boat’s hull.

After securing shelter they moved onto to think about water sources, until this point they were collecting rain water but wanted to find fresh water lakes because they were more reliant. They didn’t manage to find any though so decided that the houses being built would need white flat roofs with gutters leading to a water butt where water was stored for each household. They still use this system today!

In the kitchen, quick and efficient ways were needed to be able to cook the extravagant meals they had bought from England. Some of these thrifty inventions made by settlers include:

• Coral sieves – Fan coral has a wide surface area and the perfect sized, naturally woven net made the perfect solution for a sieve while making bread.

• Measuring coconut shell jugs – This obvious solution for measuring out ingredients became very popular with everyone as they served for multiple purposes as well as bowls, cups and even treasure boxes!

• Conch shells – Mainly used as toys, conch shells made great horns for the kids who had joined there parents on the journey to the ‘new world’.

• About everything else – Cedar trees grew in thousands all around the island and as settlers needed to make way for new villages they were cut down and used for thing from bath tubs to dining tables! As the only seemingly never ending supply, cedars were used to create everything on the island and most of this furniture is still being used today because of it’s strength and sturdiness! Sadly, over 90% of the trees got wiped out in the 20th century as ships came in bringing bugs that would kill the roots.

Cedarwood bath tub

Although regularly visited by cruise ship passengers, St.George has managed to stay unspoilt and beautiful. One of my favourite places to be was the town park. Here locals would wander during their lunch breaks and Dora and I would spend the morning cart-wheeling around and doing school. Another one of my favourite places was the coast where we would walk Seaweed (the dog) and her best friend. Every corner you turned another fort would wait for you and the beauty of the water and flora was exquisite.

Daisy at Fort St Catherine. Looking north.

This has been my favourite place to visit throughout this trip and I can’t wait to come back, everyone is so friendly and the island is so beautiful – I really recommend visiting!

By Daisy

The glory of rain

Position: 30°34’N 064°20’W
Course steered: 007
Wind: SW 8-12
Day’s run: 156m

Rainy weather. It’s like being in heaven! We have a proper downpour at least once a day which can be annoying because we have to close all the hatches, put on our oil skins and in some extreme cases, wind in the jib or reef the mainsail, but in my opinion it’s worth it! I love the water pouring down into our hair and faces because it’s so refreshing and it also gives the decks and sails a fresh water wash, which saves us a job in the marina! We are hoping to arrive in Bermuda tomorrow morning, so we need to keep up the pace!

Daisy

Hurricanes on Sint Maarten/St Martin

Since the mid-1990s, St.Martin has been hit by no fewer than 9 major hurricanes. Some of the most catastrophic include Hurricane Luis (1995) which was the strongest hurricane of the 20th century. 14 people were killed and thousands of the population were left homeless. Some of the worst hit places include Marigot, Simpson Bay, and Philipsburg. In Simpson Bay alone, 1300 boats were sunk or destroyed.
Another hurricane, Bertha, in 1996 severely damaged constructions. In 1999 Hurricane Lenny killed 13 people and caused large-scale destruction to south facing-areas such as Simpson Bay and Marigot. Gondola in 2014 caused numerous properties, businesses and water works to be ruined. The last hurricane, a year and a half ago, caused serious electrical problems and building destruction.
Because of the constant batterings due to hurricanes, the island has struggled to recover over and over again. The island is still repairing from 2017, this is visible when you look around either side of the island. When crossing the lagoon bridge you can spot half sunk boats, masts sticking up from the water and yachts simply abandoned on the side of the road due to the tidal surges. When we went vegetable shopping we passed a secondary school who’s roof has still not been repaired, wires dangle by the side of the road dangerously and restaurants are boarded up at every angle.
The problem with this is that if another disaster was to strike, then it would be doubly dangerous because nothing has been fixed making more things a liability.
Effects on the island include unemployment due to businesses closing down, which leads to poverty and a low standard of life. The Dutch side is trying to avoid this by building new resorts and funding casinos to pop up everywhere. I realise while I’m writing this that instead of restoring and making houses more suitable against destruction, cheap, unstable buildings are appearing which I can bet aren’t going to survive even a Category 3 Hurricane.
Thanks for reading!!!!!
Polly note. It’s really interesting that French St Martin bears far more scars from the twin hurricanes (Irma and Maria) that hit these islands in September 2017 than any of the other islands we have visited. In Anguilla they told me that St Martin was still a wreck because they have to wait for the government approval from France before any reconstruction can happen. Dutch Sint Maarten seems full of verve and energy in its attempts to rebuild but there is a feeling of dejection over the French side. We were told that President Macron visited recently (though I think this was in fact last October) and was furious to see the state of St Martin – wanting to know what on earth had happened to all the money France had sent. This article appeared in the local paper at the time.
If France really did send €500 million, as stated in the piece, then it is even more tragic to see the main Lycee in Marigot with its roof incomplete.

Daisy on St Kitts

The sail up from Deshaies was actually quite fun because we passed close to Montserrat and the effects of the recent volcanic activity. There were loads of Frigate birds and Boobies hanging around Redonda, zooming through the sails and squawking like crazy.

St.Kitts has been one of my favourite places to visit so far, we’ve walked up a volcano, swam off classic Caribbean beaches, explored fortresses and zip lined through the rainforest. My favourite part has been searching for monkeys that run freely around the island.

The water here is so clear, the beaches are beautiful because of the eccentric colours. On the first beach we visited there was an inflatable water park and Dora and I spent hours jumping and sliding around the place.

When we went zip lining for Dora’s birthday we started at the top of a peak and screamed rather than gracefully meandered our way down the mountain. The views of the sea were extraordinary although they didn’t last very long as we whipped through the trees.

The next day, early in the morning we started on our hike up Mt Liamuiga which is a 3792ft volcano.

It is a 2 hour hike one way and goes through the rainforest and as you get further up you begin to climb up through boulders. The view from the top was extraordinary – the panorama view of lush shrubbery and dominating clouds looming above us. When we reached the viewpoint everyone was quite tired but I was keen to follow a couple more boulders up on to a ridge. After hauling myself up I noticed I would have to show a large rock with a weird looking creature which looked like a rat/beaver/marmot! Sadly, he scuttled off when he heard rustling leaves and we still haven’t been able to work out what it was. So I was left to enjoy the view on my own – you could see much more of the crater and the trees rising up all around.

Our next hop is to Statia for more hiking and snorkelling…

Daisy

Daisy’s Marie Galante and Les Saintes

These islands surrounding Guadeloupe have been my favourite place to visit so far. Although we have barely explored on land, we definitely have made up the miles under the sea!

MARIE-GALANTE

We stayed at one anchorage on this island while we explored the aquatic world below us. Ballyhoo (small fish with a needle under there mouths) were all over the place, weaving their way through the weed and darting at the first smell of Barracudas. A common site were also cushion star fish, the biggest being around 90cm. Obviously there were loads of smaller fish digging in the sand although I’m still unable to identify them. Other than snorkelling, Dora and I would mess around in the dinghy, attempting to catch fish and spot turtles.

LES SAINTES

Although the first anchorage in these islands was really just a base to explore on land the second anchorage has been one of my favourite experiences. The second anchorage had very clear water meaning that the corals would look amazing, so we decided to go and explore! Luckily for us, under the cliffs were shelves of coral all teaming with life from fish to squid we saw, almost, everything. Some of the fish would go around on their own eating at the coral and rocks around them while others stayed in schools lining the coral. The schools were made of tiny, confident fish not scared in the slightest to have a good look at you. As you can imagine it was really fun to swim through them! I thought I’d list some of the fish I saw and thought were my favourites:

Blue Tang- Blue, oval shaped with white or yellow circle on base of tale

Bar Jack- Silvery and with no pattern, a black dorsal thin.

Ballyhoo- A tiny fish with a needle on it’s head (below mouth)

Blue striped Grunt- Another tiny tropical fish with yellow scales and blue, vertical stripes

Rainbow Parrotfish- Very powerful, parrot like jaw and a colour-changing body

Blue Parrotfish- Powder blue overall and the ones we saw were a metre long!

Trumpet Fish- Weirdly long and slim with a trumpet shaped mouth

Yellow Goatfish- Yellow tail and mid body stripes as well as minuscule tusks below mouth

Of course there were even more fish that we saw although I couldn’t identify some of them! Coral was also in abundance but my coral naming skills aren’t great!

Daisy

PS. Missing you Bingo and Aubrey!

Dominica

Dominica is small developing island between Martinique and Guadeloupe. Over 60% of the island is covered in Tropical Rainforests and there are over 1000 flowering plants and 172 different species of birds. The island is famous for it’s infinite water falls and lush mountains, as well as 365 different rivers meandering down from the peaks.

We have been staying in Prince Rupert’s bay, Portsmouth for 5 days now and we plan to leave tomorrow.

On our stay we have travelled up the Indian river to a farm where we tried different fruits and stayed at the bar in nature! On the boat ride we inspected schools of fish and numerous types of crabs along the river front. Our guide, Anthony, explained in depth about how the island wants to be as eco-friendly and non-harmful as possible, so no outboards (motors) can be used while in the river – because of this you have to row.

We also rode up into the hills to spot parrots and lizards/iguanas who had made the homes in the ruins of the effects of Hurricane Maria back in 2017. While we were up in the peaks we also went swimming in a natural pool formed by a water fall running down the mountain. The water was freezing after the warm seas but we really enjoyed being in fresh water!

Apart from travelling around the island I spent the first couple of days swimming and snorkelling although, we had to stop after that because the locals told us because of recent winds, jellyfish had been brought into the bay and some of them can be more dangerous than others…

We’ve also been on plenty of walks to soak in the sun but my favourite was a walk to a view point of the bay close to the fort. The water was so clear even from this height and we saw plenty of wild life like snakes on our way!

Tomorrow we are heading to Marie-Galante which is a tiny island off Guadeloupe. Here we plan to do some brilliant snorkelling!

Daisy

PS. Still missing you, Bingo and Aubrey!

Waterfall swimming.

Buttress roots

Rainforest canopy