The Ragged Islands of the Bahamas

Sunrise Bahamas

Sunrise Bahamas

Weeks ago, we got some great tips from an old sailing buddy, Dave who is formerly of s/v O’vive and s/v Melusine (who we first met in 2003 in the Bahamas), for the Bahamas. Dave and his family live in Florida and regularly cruise the Bahamas. His favorite cruising locations for the Bahamas are in the Ragged Islands. These island cays border the eastern edge of a vast shallow area of water south of the Exumas. The islands provide shelter from the trade winds and deeper waters, yet provide easy access to fantastic coral reefs and fish. We had been looking forward with great anticipation to arriving at the Raggeds. We left Great Inagua the day after checking in to the country there, and sailed for one day and a night to arrive early the next morning on the 16th of May. The picture here is of the awesome sunrise we had before arrival. See the map below which shows the passage from Great Inagua. Zoom in to the north-western end to see the places we went in the Raggeds.

Flamingo Cay

Flamingo Cay

We chose to go to Flamingo Cay first. We arrived and dropped our sails before entering a narrow pass between ragged rock islands going from 1000 feet to 30 feet of water under our keels in less than a mile. We tried out a bay on the north side with a pretty beach, but there was a slight swell in the bay that would have made it uncomfortable at anchor. We moved to the west side of the island and anchored off a pretty bay with another white-sand beach. Later I went ashore and explored the beach, found a trail to the north beach (which was marked with flip-flops and rock cairns), and took pictures of the beautiful beach there (one of them is below). There are a few other photos of the beach in the album further below. Late in the afternoon we had a nice rain shower that rinsed the salt off the boat.

North Flamingo Cay Beach

North Flamingo Cay Beach

Karen snorkeling

Karen snorkeling

The next morning, I took Karen to three different beaches on the island. We took lots of pictures and found some beautiful conch shells on the beach. We also saw some interesting lizards with very curly (even coiled) tails. The next day, we left to move the boat to Water Cay – a 10 mile sail north east. We actually had to motor most of the way because it was upwind that day. We were amazed at the beautiful waters here. It was everything Dave told us to expect. We anchored in super shallow water near Water Cay. There was a rusty fishing boat shipwreck nearby. Later, Karen and I took the dinghy out to some coral reef and had a great snorkel. We saw very healthy coral, and lots of coral fish. There’s a bunch of underwater photos in the album below.

Tahina from Kite

Tahina from Kite

The next day, in addition to snorkeling, we got out my kite and special camera mount and tried taking some pictures of Tahina and the islands. Unfortunately, by the time I set it up, the winds had dropped. So, the Kite wouldn’t fly very high. But, we got a few good shots of Tahina anyway. We later took Tahina out a couple miles to a blue hole. This is a circular shaped deep spot which usually has a coral reef around it (possibly the reef and currents form the deeper hole, I don’t know). Anyway, I had already investigated it earlier and wanted Karen to try it out. Her back was bothering her though, so she missed snorkeling it. I saw some great fish there including sting ray, baracuda, dog fish, trigger fish, and had a huge swarm of jacks surround me for a few minutes (they seemed attracted to my bright yellow fins). Great fun!

We moved the boat to another anchorage on the north side of Water Cay after the blue hole. The next morning, I was up well before the crack of dawn and prepared us for a pre-dawn departure. That was when we sailed to Georgetown as mentioned in the previous post. Below is the photo album which shows you a few glimpses at the fantastic experiences and sights we had at the Raggeds. If we come back to the Bahamas, we are definitely going back there!


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Move to Georgetown, Great Exuma

Yesterday we woke up before the crack of dawn to move the boat to Georgetown, Exuma. We had spent several days in the Ragged Islands 30 miles south of Georgetown (which I will write about later after I process photos). The Raggeds a series of cays (little islands) bordering the edge of a vast shallow area south of the Exumas which provide a huge array of coral reefs, blue holes, and many kinds of fish. To the east are deep waters between the many islands of the Bahamas. We did some snorkeling and island and beach explorations. But, our goal on this morning was to move the boat 25 miles north-north-east to a place called Hog Cay Cut which would afford us the shortest route to Georgetown. The map below shows the route (zoom in to see how awesome the water in the Raggeds look):

speed and depth

speed and depth

We had about 15 knots of wind from the south east, and once we departed the anchorage we raised our sails. We were soon sailing at 9 knots average, which in this case was a bit unnerving. Why? Because we were in pre-dawn conditions in only 20 feet of water with coral reefs all over the place. We needed to be at the cut by high tide at 9AM. But, we had good satellite imagery from Google Earth, and charts. So, we were reasonably confident we shouldn’t hit anything. We continued like this for a while, and the shallowest we saw was 12 feet. Then we approached the area south of the cut where we knew it was going to get shallow. When it got to 8 feet, we stopped and lowered our sails. We then motored towards the cut. By the time we got near it, we only had 4.5 of water under the hulls (our keels are about 3 feet deeper than the hulls). Yikes! In fact, we saw as little as 3.8 feet briefly. But, we never touched bottom and it was sand anyway.

Approach to Hog Cay Cut

Approach to Hog Cay Cut

When we got to the cut between two islands, we knew it was in a zig-zag. You could see rocks blocking the straight route, but you could also see deeper water in a S like shape. Once in the cut it was 10 feet deep and we actually breathed a sigh of relief. The rest of the way through the cut was uneventful except to make sure we stayed in the center because it was only a couple boat-widths wide! Below is the view as we departed.

Through the cut

Through the cut

St. Francis Resort

St. Francis Resort

We wanted to go to Georgetown to get some provisions. But, the main reason was to re-visit the home base to where we bought Tahina in 2008. Stocking Island is home to a place called St. Francis Resort. The owner is a South African man named George who is the sales representative for St. Francis Marine (the maker of Tahina). He sold us Tahina. So, we drove Tahina right up to the resort so we could take a picture showing that we had brought Tahina full circle right back to where we bought her after sailing around the world.

George of St. Francis

George of St. Francis

George came out in his custom St. Francis power cat to greet us. He said Tahina looked great and looked good enough to be shown at the Miami Boat show! What a nice compliment. He was actually serious, because he said he was looking to show a St. Francis at next year’s show. We told him we weren’t interested right now because we aren’t currently planning to sell our boat. Later we went to visit him at his nice restaurant and bar and he treated us to some drinks while we told him a few stories about our trip. Below is a map where we are anchored now just south of St. Francis Resort off the island (away from mosquitoes).

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Bahamas Passage and Tahina is Boarded

We had an excellent passage to the Bahamas from St. Thomas (US Virgin Isles). It was about 530 nautical miles and we completed it in 2.75 days for an average of just under 200 nm/day. It was downwind conditions the whole way and we flew the spinnaker or mainsail in downwind configuration the whole way.

One problem we ran into was jibing our spinnaker (changing it from a port tack to a starboard tack due to a change in wind angle). In the process of chuting the spinnaker in high winds, we went too far over and the sheet go wrapped around the sail causing a small 10″ rip. After getting the sail down, we found the rip and taped it with rip-stop tape. The tape only partially held the hole tight though so we will have to repair it properly later with some sewing.

Our weather was really good with no rain or squalls, and only one 20 minute period where our when got shifty on us. We had steady easterly winds between 15 knots or higher the entire trip with only slight variances.

Upon arriving on Thursday morning at Mathew Town, Great Inagua, we noticed a Royal Bahamas Defence Force (their equivalent of the coast guard) cutter was at anchor. After getting permission to anchor in the area near the airport, we anchored and put away our sails. Then we started preparing to take showers so we could go ashore to do formalities. As I was getting ready to take a shower, I noticed a boarding party on one of two other sailboats in the anchorage. I started my shower, but before I finished I heard a boat outside and felt its wake at it circled Tahina.

I grabbed a towel and came out – Karen also came out to investigate – and found a boatload of defence force personnel waiting behind our boat. They apologized for interrupting my shower and requested permission to board our boat for an inspection. They wanted to check our paperwork (which I pointed out since we just arrived we had none – and they said they understood that and it was no problem), and then they wanted to just look around the boat. Only two personnel came on board and they were very professional and friendly after waiting for me to dress. First they filled out a “boarding form” with our boat details and had me sign the form indicating my authorization. Then one of them walked around with my supervision and opened a variety of random cabinets and storage areas in each cabin and companion way. After a few minutes, they were done and congratulated us on our circumnavigation. They gave us a copy of the form for our records. It wasn’t too bad and we were soon finishing up our cleaning process. Our speculation is that they were looking for problems such as missing paperwork, stow-aways/un-papered passengers, signs we might be carrying contraband (drugs or merchandise for sale), or illegal fishing maybe.

Later we went ashore and found the customs and immigration. The officials were very friendly and soon had our paper work done. Unfortunately, the Bahamas has one of the most expensive fees for entering and getting a cruising permit and fishing permit in the world. It cost $300 for permits which supposedly gives you up to a year, but once you leave you can only come back once and only if you do that within 90 days of departing. So, if you leave for hurricane season, you have to pay the same fees over again when you come back.

A few other interesting points: 1) we were able to get a SIM card for our phones so we have cell phone and 3G service. It cost $30 for 2GB data and you can buy more when you run out. The SIM card cost $10, and we put $10 of voice minutes on the phone. 2) they had a bunch of rain recently and the mosquitoes are vicious – even in broad daylight! We had to keep the boat screened up day and night. 3) Finally, no signs of sargasso seaweed which has plagued the seas throughout the Caribbean (and the whole northern equatorial Atlantic from what we’ve heard). So, we can do some fishing again. Yay!

The three Canadian kids boats who were going to follow us a day behind did leave. But, apparently they decided to stick with their original plan of taking the northern route through the Bahamas. After they had heard our recommendation for going the southern route, and requested routing details, we had assumed that meant they were going to follow us. We were disappointed they weren’t going to join us in what is reportedly the best snorkeling and fishing areas in the Bahamas – south of the Exumas in the Raggeds. So, we may be exploring those waters alone when we sail for there today. It’s another overnight passage as the Bahamas are a big area with lots of miles between islands. We would have stayed here another day, but the mosquitoes are vicious!

We still hope to meet up with the Canadian boats in the Abacos when we head that way later. But, that will be a week or two away. We will probably be without phone/Internet communications for several days while we explore the Raggeds. We will be able to send out text postings via radio or satellite phone.

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Water Island

As mentioned before, we left Charlotte Amalie last week to join up with our Raleigh friends on the boat s/v Wild Goose. We first met Hugh and Linda about 4 years ago when they were in the final stages of preparing to depart on their first sailing adventures. They spent the last 3 years sailing to the Mediterranean and exploring those waters, and then, early this year, sailed back across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. We were hoping to have them along with us as we sailed the final stages to North Carolina. But, they made the decision shortly before we arrived to speed up their return home for business reasons.

We are really glad Wild Goose introduced us to Druif Bay, which is a nice cruiser hang-out off Water Island. There is a beautiful beach with a cordoned off swimming area, and enough beach left over for a couple dozen dinghies to park. The water is very clear. There is a newly built bar on that end, which also regularly has live music, or conducts karaoke or open mic nights. Food is pretty good as well, and another restaurant has great hamburgers during daytime hours. There’s even WIFI and an ATM at the bar. Below is a map showing Druif Bay and where we were anchored:

We also met a couple of other cruising boats with kids at Water Island. One called s/v Neptune II, is from Australia, and we enjoyed comparing notes on passages from there to here. We happened to go the night they were having karaoke, and Karen even got up and did a song with two other cruising women.

Meanwhile, s/v Salty Ginger and s/v Gromit showed up at Charlotte Amalie and started getting provisions, doing laundry, etc. in preparations for leaving for the Bahamas. Looking at the weather, we all decided we would be leaving on Mon/Tuesday (May 11/12). Over the weekend, we took the dinghy over to Crown Bay and got final provisions, dinghy fuel, and I got a new topping lift (to replace the one I cut to free Karen’s finger). We had fun on the weekend at Water Island, and Salty Ginger came over for a couple days to enjoy the more relaxed cruiser-like environment. But, they returned on Sunday to join the other kid boats. s/v Rhythm was expected to arrive over there on Monday after stopping in the BVIs for some boat work.

The hope is that we and the three Canadian boats (Salty Ginger, Rhythm and Gromit) will all rendezvous in various places in the Bahamas for some cruiser fun! Tahina left on Monday to get an advanced look at the places we had recommended to the other boats based on input from our friend Dave (formerly of s/v O’vive and s/v Melusine) who regularly cruises the Bahamas from his home in Florida.

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Scary Finger Incident and Move to St. Thomas

Tahina party

Tahina party

We had some delightful days in Virgin Gorda visiting with three Canadian kids boats: s/v Rhythm, s/v Gromit, and s/v Salty Ginger. I enjoyed getting to do some snorkeling (we found a very distinctive cannon in one spot), did a hike with the men from all four boats where we combined some beer stops with scenic overlooks and finished at a bar and ordered pizza. We also went exploring and found a nice beach on the other side of an island where we had a beach hangout afternoon. The last night, we had everybody over to Tahina for sundowners. The shot here shows everyone (except me) in Tahina’s cockpit which I took with a fisheye lens and then corrected the perspective.

Karen and I needed to get moving so we could catch up to our friends on s/v Wild Goose (a boat owned by friends of ours from Raleigh who spent a while in the Mediterranean and are headed home for a while). We first sailed over to the far end of BVIs to clear out in Soper’s Hole, then took a short jaunt to do a snorkel at Water Lemon Cay. That snorkel turned out to not be so fun because there was a lot of little jellies called “sea wasp” and I got several small stings and one nasty one on my upper lip. I did see a nice sea turtle that let me swim around with him though.

The next day we moved to St. John’s Cruz Bay and cleared in to the USA – since St. John is part of the US Virgin Isles (USVI). It only took a few minutes, and then we went ashore to do some shopping. One goal was to get a SIM card for 3G service. Well, it being a US area, it wasn’t so easy. After being told no SIM cards were available from the local cell companies, we ended up having to get a very expensive one from AT&T. Welcome back to America. Our average SIM card around the world was $4, AT&T was $30. Our average 3 or 4GB plan was about $35, AT&T was $60 for 4GB. Ouch.

BBQ St John

BBQ St John

Next we went to lunch at a local BBQ place that we had smelled earlier. It lived up to its smell with fabulously tasty BBQ pork ribs. We tried to find some t-shirt souvenirs, but were very disappointed with t-shirts costing $32 (in St. Martin, similar quality shirts cost $5).

Before I start the story about the finger, here’s a photo album showing lots of pictures from the very scenic Virgin Gorda, the cannon we found, and other underwater shots.


View full-sized slideshow

We finally left early afternoon planning to sail to St. Thomas to meet up with Wild Goose. We were setting up the sails and Karen was putting away the mooring lines we had used. I asked her to loosen the topping lift at the mast since she was up there. In the process of releasing the topping lift, her finger got caught in the line on the winch. Yikes! I ran up to see if I could help, but it was not possible to unwrap. I had to run back inside to grab a knife, and of course my usual knife wasn’t where I almost always put it. So, I grabbed another knife and cut the line and released her finger. She was a bit in shock, and we could tell her finger was hurt with a couple of bleeding lacerations and a worry it might be broken. So, we changed plans to sail to the main port of St. Thomas of Charlotte Amalie where they have at least one hospital.

An hour and a half later, I dropped the sails and got us in the anchorage and set the anchor. Then we quickly got ready and I dropped the dinghy in the water and took her to the nearby marina dinghy dock. We started out looking for a taxi, but saw the hospital was only a few blocks away so we just walked.

Welcome back to American healthcare. We ended up waiting almost 4 hours before we saw a doctor in an emergency room that was staffed with only one doctor and one assistant, but had plenty of not very busy nurses and other staff. They did manage to get her xray done while we waited, but never even offered an aspirin for her pain. When we finally saw them, they said she had a micro fracture and that the lacerations didn’t need treatment. They gave her a prescription for anti-biotics, and a splint. The bill (which is not the final bill they said) was $650. That’s way more than it would have cost in almost any other country we visited. In fact, many wouldn’t have charged anything and the wait would have been far less. Anyway, 5 hours later we left the hospital after waiting 20 minutes for a $10 taxi to take us the 3 blocks back to the dinghy dock.

Anyway, the good news is that it was only a minor fracture. She’ll have to endure a few days of a large splint on her middle finger, and jokes about holding her middle finger up a lot. It’s also a little awkward sleeping.

The next day, we watched the big cruise ships arriving only a couple hundred meters away. Ultrawide pano below shows a third one arriving. I got an early morning visit from our friend Randy of s/v Mystic. He and Jenny have been anchored here for a few weeks after sailing straight from South Africa to the USVIs. They wanted to get jobs and replenish their cruising kitty, so the USVI was the closest spot they could get jobs without hassles. Randy is a refrigeration mechanic, so he found employment easy. Jenny is working at a restaurant for now. We made plans to meet up at her restaurant in the evening.

Three cruise ships

Three cruise ships

During the day, Karen and I went ashore to check out the grocery stores and get her prescription filled. Then we went back to the boat and relaxed doing Internet and calling with our US phone a bit. Later we went to dinner and had a great time catching up with Mystic. After dinner, we decided we wanted to try to go see the new Avengers 2 movie at a nearby theater. We made it in time and had a fun time in 3D watching the movie. It was a late night for us as we didn’t get back by taxi until after 11PM.

On Thursday morning, I went to get a haircut and got another load of drinks from the grocery store. Then we raised the hook and moved Tahina 4 miles to a little bay called Druif Bay that is a cruiser hangout. s/v Wild Goose was there. Karen was feeling a little tired (she didn’t sleep well with the finger after the movie). So, I went over and we talked about plans for heading back to NC. It turns out Wild Goose has decided they need to get home sooner, so they are going to take a fast paced route home. So, we are only going to get a few days with them before we split up.

Heard from our friends on s/v Salty Ginger and s/v Gromit that they arrived in the afternoon to Charlotte Amalie (where we just left). We’re planning to get them to move over here to Druif tomorrow.

Late in the day, we invited Hugh and Lina of Wild Goose to come over to Tahina for sun downers. They finally got to see Tahina for the first time, and we had a nice time sharing cruising stories. Then they convinced Karen and I to come shore to the new bar on the beach. They were having karaoke night – which is not our normal thing. But, it was mostly cruisers on shore and a fun crowd. Karen even went up and sang once! I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s ears, so I didn’t try. But, the drinks were good, and a fun crowd of cruisers.

We finally got back to the boat at 11PM again. But, we had fun!

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Chilling in Virgin Gorda

Chillin' in Virgin Gorda

Chillin’ in Virgin Gorda

We are anchored about a mile from Richard Branson’s private island in Virgin Gorda, BVIs. The picture here is of my feet as I was chillin’ on the front deck in the shade looking at the Bitter End Marina. This was some well-deserved relaxation after a bunch of running around for a few days when our prop suddenly went out on our dinghy motor.

We tried to find a new prop, or repair the old one, in St. Martin. But, despite it being a part mecca for boats, no one could find the specific model we needed for our Yamaha motor. I got on the Internet, and found a dealer in the BVIs who had a new prop in stock. Since we planned to go there anyway, we spent a day prepping to leave St. Martin and cleared out with plans to leave Thursday morning at 4AM.

We had a nice fast sail from St. Martin to Road Harbour, BVIs on Thursday and actually arrived by 4PM after 89 nm. We quickly dropped the dinghy in the water and went to the customs house to clear into the country before they closed at 4:30. We stayed the night in the swelly harbor (thanks to the constant flow of ferries in and out behind us). Then the next morning I made a quick trip to the Yamaha dealer who sold me the prop, and I went back to the boat and in about 15 minutes changed out and put on the new prop. Awesome!

Party time

Party time

We immediately left Road Harbour to sail back east to Virgin Gorda. Several boats we know were rendezvousing there, including s/v Gromit, s/v Salty Ginger, and s/v Rhythm who we last saw in Simons Town. They all three have kids, so its a family atmosphere here. Last night we had a potluck at Rhythm, and the photo here is a few of the adults in their cockpit.

Below is a map showing our track from St. Martin to Road Harbour, and then over to Virgin Gorda.

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Made it to St Martin and Prop Stories

Baie de Marigot, St Martin

Baie de Marigot, St Martin

We arrived to St. Martin at the crack of dawn on Thursday last week. We anchored in Baie de Marigot and went to sleep after our overnight run. As you can see, the bay is a pretty place! And a perfect place to install our prop with clear shallow water underneath us.

After a short nap, I got up and went ashore to the marina which provides the customs terminal for clearing into a French island. Ten minutes later I had the form printed off and handed it to the clerk who stamped it and we were now cleared. I had the prop sent to the same office, so I asked them if they had a package for s/v Tahina. A moment later he handed it over. I was a bit irked to see him hand it over never having seen any ID from me, but I was happy to get the package!

In the spirit of the fast-paced Internet world, I’ll summarize the process of the install in less verbose mode:

1) Got prop unpacked and disassembled for installation – three blades have to be removed to install it.
2) Got dive gear on and installed the hub of the prop first. Found out it didn’t fit. Called prop company and a day later they got back to me and said I needed a spacer washer from an outfit here that sells Yanmar parts.
3) Got the part ($40!) and dove to install again. This time it fit! Started installing the prop blades, but dropped a bolt.
4) Got a new bolt (plus spares) at local store
5) Finished installation (not dropping any more bolts) and ran some tests. It worked!
6) Later took boat on trial run to discover we have 10% less performance, but a pitch change will probably fix that. Will probably wait until next haul-out to fix.

We got some provisions at a fantastic American-style grocery store on the Dutch side of the island (Sint Maarten). We were practically drooling and filled two grocery carts before I dragged Karen out of the place.

Some friends of ours from Maine happened to be visiting the island. We took them out on Tahina for a day sail to Tintamarre island and had a delightful time.

I bought new LPG tanks for Tahina at a local chandlery. After checking the fittings I went to get them filled, but the Dutch side had a holiday on Monday. On the way back our propeller on the dinghy started slipping! OMG

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Guadeloupe to St. Martin

Les Saintes from Fort Napoleon

Les Saintes from Fort Napoleon

We had a nice stop at Iles des Saintes (or Les Saintes for short). Its a very touristy place, which we normally don’t like, but there’s a charm to Les Saintes. Every day, several ferries come from Guadeloupe loaded with tourists who come to escape to the beaches, restaurants, hiking, and forts. But, most of them leave by the 5PM ferries, so in the evening it is much quieter. There’s a small number of roads that take you to the various corners and beaches of the island. And lots of motor-scooters available to rent.

One change we noted first is that the anchorage at the main area is now moorings only and they collect a 12 Euro fee per night. Very unusual at French islands. We have always rented the scooters and zoomed around the island for fun. And we like the fantastic views from Fort Napoleon. Unfortunately, we had cloudy skies on our planned one day stop, and the photography opportunities weren’t very spectacular. But, check out our post from the visit in 2009 for some good pics.

The motor-scooters cost twice as much (5 years ago they were 15 Euros, this time 30 for a full day rental. That’s quite a bit higher than we paid in many other countries.

We found a nice cafe in town for lunch which was run by the wife of a Gendarme (police officer). They have only been on the island a few months and she opened the cafe in January. She turned on the AC so we ate inside instead of on the street. And she cooked up some galletes and salads that were great. Finished off with some glaces (ice cream) and we were happy. We zoomed around the island some more, and did some souvenir shopping. And we got a few groceries. Then in the evening we went to a restaurant on the shore. It was the same restaurant where we ran into an American couple who turned out to be Mark and Dana from s/v Northfork who we ended up meeting many times in our travels. So, we thought it appropriate to eat there again.

Yesterday morning, I updated the Tahina Expedition map to show our route to Les Saintes from Martinique. Next I went to the customs office, which is really just a computer terminal in a cybercafe. We just love the French islands for formalities, all they want is your basic information filled out on a computer form. You don’t even have to show paperwork or your passports to an official. We just printed out the form, and the store owner verifies you filled it out and signed it and they stamp it. You’re done!

After clearing out, we dropped off the mooring and sailed 25 miles north to Pigeon Island – home to the Jacques Cousteau national park, which is a marine park. It’s one of our favorite diving locations in the Caribbean because it is protected. But, when we arrived, we couldn’t find the two designated sailboat moorings. They had been removed. So, you can’t stay at the island anymore. My long-time plans of diving off our boat and using the ROV were dashed!

We moved Tahina to the anchorage on the main island just 1 mile away. Karen was feeling tired so I got my snorkel gear and cameras and took the dinghy over to the island and checked out the sights. Still in good condition, and I saw a nice variety of fish and coral life (see underwater photos from 2009). See an underwater video with our ROV from 2009 when we ast visited here.

It’s now Wednesday and we’re leaving to sail all the way to St. Martin. We had our new propeller shipped there and we need to get it on. If we had more time, we would stop at more islands. But, to be honest we have visited all these islands multiple times, and we’re getting tired of seeing how things have deteriorated and prices have inflated. Add to that the increased crime and its a little overwhelming. I will upload a few pictures of our stops later after we get to St. Martin, which we won’t reach until tomorrow. It’s about 150 miles away.

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Visit from Friends

Andy and Aliza

Andy and Aliza

Last week our long-time friends Andy and Aliza arrived for a visit to Tahina while we were in St. Lucia. After long flights, and a very long taxi ride from the other side of St. Lucia, they were glad to finally arrive to Tahina in the wide Rodney Bay anchorage.

We spent a couple of days in the Rodney Bay area doing some sightseeing. But, the real reason we didn’t move the boat right away was that Andy and Aliza had a date at a bar on Monday night. They are both Duke graduates, and the championship game of the NCAA was that night. Needless to say, they were happy with the result!

Rodney Bay

Rodney Bay

We did a walking tour of Pigeon Island, home of Fort Rodney. We even walked to the top of Signal Hill with great views of the bay and surrounding area. Martinique wasn’t visible due to haze and rain the area though. On another day, we managed to organize a trip to do zip lines through the rainforest. Karen did this with our daughter the last time we were here 5 years earlier. So, she was really looking forward to it. Andy and Aliza had a good time as well.

The next day we got up at the crack of dawn to sail down to The Pitons. On the way, we sailed past the main port of Castries and ended up sailing right between two cruise ships arriving. We were also treated to lots of rainbows that morning as there were showers in the area.

The Pitons

The Pitons

The rain didn’t keep us from enjoying the spectacular peaks of the Pitons. We also went ashore to the very swank Sugar Beach Resort and had lunch. After eating, we took a ride up to the resort reception to get information on a taxi ride for our guests to get to the airport the next day. The hotel welcomed us like guests and let us walk around the grounds to admire their facilities. We were very tempted by the nice massage parlor, and enjoyed the garden grounds and lilly pond with spectacular views of the Pitons in the background.

I took Aliza on a short snorkeling trip. We did see a sea turtle and some nice coral and fish. But, had issues with current. Aliza wanted to swim back to the boat, while I continued to snorkel a bit, and she got stuck in the current. Fortunately, the park ranger happened by and picked her up just as I was arriving to do the same in the dinghy.

We enjoyed good meals and lots of catching up with Andy and Aliza. It was good to share a bit of our life and home with them again (they visited us in 2010 in Aruba). Over the last few years, they have welcomed us to their home several times when we visited the US. So, this was our chance to try and return the favor.

Here’s a slideshow showing a sample of the experiences:


View full-sized slideshow

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Tahina Map Update

I’ve updated our route map to reflect our current position in Martinique. The map now shows the green track which shows our circumnavigation up to March 18, 2015. And I am now showing the trip home track in yellow. If you zoom in on Tahina’s position (sailboat icon) you will see our spot in the busy anchorage of Le Marin, Martinique. You can also see not only our route from Grenada to Martinique, but our trip last week down to the Pitons in St. Lucia.

We had a great time last week with our friends from Raleigh visiting (more on that in a post soon). We left on Friday to sail over to Martinique because I was expecting to meet with a mechanic I had been in communication with to repair a part on our hydraulic steering. Unfortunately, the guy wasn’t there on Friday afternoon. So, we a few days delay. We spent some time making some minor repairs with parts Andy had brought for us.

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