Oh my gosh, “island time”. This is a running joke, whether you live in the Caribbean, other islands, even in the United States or Canada. Everyone knows that “island time” means things are not running on a 9-5, bing-bang, “let’s-get- things-done” timeline. No, things get done when they get done, and sometimes, unfortunately, they don’t get done. Sigh. Sometimes “island time” is, well, tiresome.
We have a long list of projects and tasks to get through in this off-season and we would like to get many of them started as soon as possible. The issue? Island time! We send off emails and texts about parts, services, or for information gathering and…no reply. Crickets. Even calling or dropping by in person doesn’t guarantee things move any faster. Well, this week we learned a great skill about working with “island time” and still getting stuff done.
You have to shake the tree. Huh? I’ll explain.
We are lucky in that the marina we are anchored nearby generously lets us not only use their dinghy dock but they also let us wander around their beautifully landscaped property. After a few shore walkabouts with Ocean, we realized that there were two very full mango trees along the pathway and, guess what? It is mango season! The mangos are too high to reach by hand so we needed help. We found the perfect stick (shaped like a hockey stick, no less) and were successful at trapping and knocking off several wonderfully ripe mangos. A few others were outside of the reach of the stick so Mike crawled up the trees a few feet to reach them. Still, lots of ready-to-eat mangos stayed safely perched high atop the trees. Oh well, we decided. We will just have to be happy with the low hanging fruit.
This week we arrived back at the trees, hoping that a few more easily accessible mangos would be ripe and ready to be knocked off. We managed a puny harvest of two mangos. Oh.
Then, along came a young gentleman from the marina, walking briskly towards us on his way to the other side of the marina. I am not sure how long he had watched our struggles but he didn’t hesitate. As we stood watching, he quickly climbed up the tree, much further up than Mike had attempted. And then what did he do? He started shaking the tree. Lots of loose mangos let go of their branches. Wow, this guy knows how to get his mangos! We collected the mangos for him but when he crawled down the tree, he waved us off. “Nope, they are for you” and then he started off again along the pathway to the other side of the marina. He was, for sure, your typical super-nice Grenadian. And we, for sure, just got a great lesson on getting things done in Grenada. Be patient, but if time goes on too long, you just might need to shake the tree a little 😉.
This new-to-us philosophy has worked well this week for getting information from businesses (call, wait, text, wait, shake tree i.e. text again, call, call, text etc.) and, also our weekly bus services (text, wait, text, wait, shake tree i.e. text, call, etc.). Once we shake the tree a bit, we get a reply. Even the busier pop-up markets, where there are usually more people than product, benefit from a little shake, albeit in a different form. Instead of waiting until the produce is all unpacked, displayed and promptly gobbled up by the crowd, we help the vendor bring the product to their table, making sure we select a few of our preferred items from the stash before we leave to get more product from their car. Perfectly shaken.
Besides shaking things up for ourselves 😉, we continue to have very full days. Most of the time we fit in some boat maintenance, an errand or two, walking or exploring with friends, and, of course, exercising Ocean. We somehow also find some quiet moments in the evening to share a sun downer with our ever-growing band of boat friends. These are very lovely days indeed.
Whew, we are getting acclimatized!
On our travels on Wild Horses this year, we have come to expect one of two situations for getting our groceries and supplies when we get to new ports (usually in new countries). It is either (1) walkable and fairly easy, or (2) non walkable and requires more effort or doing without.
The first situation is great. Who doesn’t love things to be easy? We just dinghy up to the beach or to the dinghy dock and make our way to the grocery store, marine store, or hardware store. Throw in a bakery and an electronics store and we are in heaven 😊. Getting fuel (gas, diesel) is also manageable by taking our jerry cans to a marina fuel dock. We usually get this kind of access when we are close to major cities. We tend to take advantage when things are this good because often we are faced with the second situation i.e. not much within walking distance. Actually, there is usually a small convenience-like grocery store available in most places, but the items on the shelves tend to be offered at a premium price. In those cases, we either do without (if it isn’t urgent) or we rent a car or grab a taxi (if it is urgent). We usually see this in out islands or in small villages.
When we first arrived in the Grenadian islands, we made landfall in Tyrrell Bay, Carriacou (the small Grenadian island just north of the main island of Grenada). Tyrrell Bay is a small town but with a large cruising community. We could walk to get our basic needs met (a few grocery and marine stores, fuel dock and a few hardware-like stores) but did without for those things that were not readily accessible (actual hardware stores and fully stocked grocery and marine items).
Then we arrived at the southern coast of the main island of Grenada, very close to the city of St. Georges. Our expectation was that we would be able to get everything we need here. They have lots of grocery stores, fish markets, pet stores, hardware stores, veterinarians, dentists. Really everything is here! But, none of it is walkable from most of the southern anchorages and a dinghy ride is nothing less than “extremely salty”.
And renting a car? Yikes. That would be an exercise in fearlessness that we just don’t have in us. Left lane driving + narrow, winding and hilly roads + no discernable speed limit = Complete Terror as a passenger. I cannot imagine being the driver!
Things here don’t exactly fit into our nice little categories of “easy access” or “no access”!
So, where does that leave us? Well, Grenadian ingenuity has this figured out. There are “grocery buses” (aka mini vans) that run on regular schedules taking people to all the usual haunts – the IGA grocery store, Budget Marine, ACE hardware and a local wholesale warehouse, all for just 15 EC ($7 CAD) a person. If you have a specialty place you need to visit, then you can get a taxi (aka mini van) and pay 80 EC ($40 CAD). Even better, local entrepreneurs also come to us! They drive their minivans and cars along the remote roads into the secluded Secret Harbour Marina property, bringing with them fruit, fresh herbs, vegetables, breads, ice cream, propane and wine. Gas and diesel are also on site.
Somehow, when you mix all of this together, well, we manage to get everything that we need albeit in a very unique way 😊.
Of course, when we can walk, we do. This week we were told of a great “shortcut” into Prickly Bay, which is the next bay to the west of Secret Harbour. Prickly Bay is wonderful as it has a marine store, butcher shop, coffee shop and a few great restaurants. The “shortcut” is truly short, thankfully, as it is commonly over 30 degrees Celsius here and much of it is very hilly. Sweating is a national pastime! But the walk to Prickly Bay was worth it. We started through beautiful residential streets, passed a scenic public beach (where Ocean got to have a quick swim to cool off) and finally ended up at the West Indies Brewery, the local pub/brewery that serves up cold, flavourful micro-brews and delicious bites to eat. A great walk that ends with a beer – perfect!
It has been a good first week here, figuring things out as we go and getting a few boat projects started. Our days are busy but we always leave time for exploring or hanging out with friends. We see several fun months ahead of us here!
Click the link below to see where we are spending hurricane season this year!
Yesterday marked a huge milestone for the crew of Wild Horses. After more than twelve years of planning, researching and thinking about this trip, we arrived at the southern coast of Grenada, the furthest point south we intended to go in our first year as liveaboards in the Caribbean. There is a lot to celebrate with having dreamed, saved, designed and persevered over so many years. We have accomplished our first long duration travel goal aboard Wild Horses. Wow.
Here is our journey in numbers:
That is straight data, but the experiences we have had are too numerous to count, including:
We are beyond happy and ready to start dreaming of what’s next 😊.
But where are we now? We are in Mount Hartman Bay, which is a quiet and beautiful anchorage, midway along the southern coast of the island. It is less than a two-hour boat ride to the busy capital of St. George’s and even closer to many of the lovely anchorages littered along the southern coast. Over the next four months we intend to visit most, if not all, of them as well as sailing back to Carriacou to visit more anchorages there.
In the meantime, we are learning the ropes of how things work here. Fuel is available only on certain days and between certain times. Same with propane. Most have a “leave it with us and pick up later” service which is new for us. Until now, we have just filled as we go. We are also learning where to get things repaired and installed, how to get deliveries, and where to buy the cheapest groceries, and when. Some of this info is available from the local marina, other info is provided via the Cruisers Net broadcast daily on the VHF. Face book cruising sites for Grenada and Carriacou are also full of info, although not entirely reliable at times (emotions and recency bias seem to plague Facebook). Finally, we learn a lot by just chatting with locals or with our fellow cruisers.
Speaking of which, when we arrived in Mount Hartman Bay yesterday, along with our buddy boat Caretta, guess who was here to greet us? Two of our buddy boats from our journey from Georgetown, Bahamas to Luperon, Dominican Republic! Andre and Joane on “That’s It” met us in their dinghy as we entered the anchorage and Pam and Kim from “Kemana” waived warmly as we anchored to their port side. What a sight for sore eyes! All three boats had taken slightly different routes to Grenada and had different timing for getting here but here we are! All together (and with Caretta), it just seemed very right to be surrounded by so many good friends as we reached our sailing goal. 😊
Even though we are in Grenada, we will not be sitting still. Check out where we are today by clicking the button below.
Since the beginning of our journey, when we left Lake Ontario way back on September 9, 2022, our eyes have been on the prize of arriving in Grenada and staying put for awhile. Actually, we will be here, in Grenada, for many, many months as this will be our home until November, when hurricane season is over. To get here has been challenging and tiring with moving the boat day after day, usually for more than 8 or 9 hours, dealing with boat leaks, uncooperative weather, overnight sails, broken parts and dragging boats, among other “I-can’t-believe-this-is-really-happening” moments. Now, we are ready to relax and truly be on “island time”. We are ready to exhale.
Staying put, however, doesn’t mean staying in one location. No, there is just too much to explore in Grenada and its outer islands including Carriacou (where we are now) and Petite Martinique. With lots of time and many months ahead of us, we decided to start small. We weighed anchor from our spot in Tyrrell Bay this past Monday and sailed 30 minutes around the corner to Sandy Island. Relaxation was immediate. The island is a sliver of paradise, with fine grain sand, palm trees and clear, baby blue water. Across from the island is the mainland of Carriacou with its shops, restaurants and bakeries. It is the best of both worlds. Look left and we are relishing in calm remoteness, look right and we can walk about town and grab a bite to eat. Lovely.
Our days here have been about slow walks on the beach and a few swims to cool off.
In the evenings, we have enjoyed the Paradise Beach Bar, a fun little restaurant across the bay. It is right at the water’s edge and has open air dining, beautifully appointed tables and delicious meals… but it is still wonderfully casual. No shoes here! To make things even easier, they provide a free water taxi to and from your boat to the restaurant.
The highlight of our time at Sandy Island, for us, was an activity at the Paradise Beach Bar, called “Sip & Paint”. We took part on Wednesday June 28 and just…wow. What fun! The vibe was light and energetic with lots of cruisers in attendance. Kids, adults, boat owners, crew, artists, hacks (like us!). We all sat around a few picnic tables covered with a tarp. Paint cans of various colours were placed down the middle of the table as were paint brushes and lots of paper towel. In front of each boat group was a single piece of wood. Our mission? Design and paint our boat on the piece of wood. No rules beyond that. Just let your creative spirit reign. And the “sip” part? Well, we could choose to have a drink of our choice to inspire our artwork. Mike and I grabbed a couple of beers as did our boat buddies on Caretta and we were off to the races! An hour later we had a beautiful piece of art representing our dear Wild Horses! Oh, and lots of new friends were made! Everyone was keen to learn who everyone was (including Ocean), which boat we had wandered off of 😊 and, finally, where we had been and where we were going. Standard fare for cruising circles but it never gets boring to learn all the different stories of how people end up occupying the same longitude and latitude as you.
After the session, the artwork sits and dries for a few days before being mounted on the restaurant walls or fences. We had a little walkabout and even saw the artwork from our buddy boats “That’s It” and “Kemana”, who had done the “Sip & Paint” before us. Truly fun!
Yesterday we moved the boat from Sandy Island to just outside the town of Hillsborough. It is a busy place with lots of shops and traffic. Our draw here was that it has several bank machines and we were in desperate need of Eastern Caribbean dollars (the currency of Grenada). But, uh-oh, my bank card didn’t work at any of the machines. A quick call to my bank confirmed that the bank card was probably toast. The only solution was to mail a new one to our address on file. Uh-oh times two. Our address is in Canada. No worries, we did a quick switch-eroo and used a debit card from our other bank. Yup, before we left Canada we made sure to have banking redundancy for exactly this type of situation. Whew! Still, we do want to set things right with our primary debit cards so we will need to start looking into how to get our important mail (like bank and credit cards) while we are in Grenada. Something else to figure out!
In the meantime, we continue to enjoy our time in Carriacou. We will spend tomorrow (Canada Day) at the Paradise Beach Bar. One of the cruisers at the “Sip & Paint” is a singer and is headlining there that day. It will be a fun way to celebrate Canada Day, our first one out of the country and our first celebrating with our American friends on Caretta. But the fun doesn’t stop there! On Tuesday we get to flip the script and celebrate July 4th with our friends! Canadian and American flags will be flying from both boats!! 😊
We are in Grenada but not sitting still! Check out the link below to see where we are right now.
Although Mother Nature doesn’t always follow the rules, there are “typical” patterns to weather that help sailors like us plan our journeys. A big one is that hurricane season starts on June 1 and goes until November 1. These were dates we kept our eye on as we made our way south from Lake Ontario to Grenada. Along the way, we also learned about the Cape Verde Hurricane Season which typically starts late July or early August and runs through early October. This is the time period where tropical waves develop off the coast of Africa and start heading west. Since they have a long way to go, they have a lot of time to build into monsters. Most major Atlantic hurricanes come from these waves and even the lesser Tropical Depressions and Tropical Storms have an origin off the coast of Africa. Knowing all of this, we chose not to have a hard and fast deadline of June 1 to be in Grenada, but we did want to make sure we were in striking distance should a troubling tropical wave system develop early, before the end of July.
Well, that is exactly what happened this week.
Just over a week ago, we were in northern Dominica. At that time, we received very early reports of a tropical wave that might make landfall in the Eastern Caribbean, although it was forecasted to more likely track north before reaching land. With a week to go, no one could predict with any certainty this system’s actual path or intensity. It was a guessing game. No rush, but we did want to be well positioned in case we had to make a run for Grenada. By Saturday, our pending tropical wave was now called “Invest92” and we kept our eyes peeled for any news on its path or intensity. So far, so good.
On Sunday, we headed to the beautiful island of Martinique and anchored at the port of St. Pierre. This was the site of a volcano eruption in 1902 that killed 30,000 people and devastated the town itself. We walked around the town, and were wowed by the ruins, the history and the incredible way that this town had rebuilt itself.
With news that Invest92 had developed into a Tropical Storm and that it could possibly make landfall in the Martinique area, we decided to not stay an extra night in St. Pierre. We had three good travel days ahead of us and we decided to take the prudent approach and sail to a southern anchorage on Martinique, the city of Fort de France. On our way there, we received reports that Bret was expected to grow in intensity and could very well become a category 1 hurricane. Bret’s landfall targets were estimated to be Martinique or St. Lucia, the very next island to the south of Martinique.
As soon as our anchor was down in Fort De France, we dinghied over to our buddy boat Caretta. Both boats were of like mind. We didn’t want “surviving a hurricane” to be part of our sailing portfolio. The decision was made to leave the following morning for Grenada, a 130 nautical sail (24 hours of travel for our boats). We used the rest of the day to top up our diesel tanks, buy groceries and set up the boats for another overnight.
We set off for Grenada at 0900 and enjoyed a solid eight hours of gorgeous sailing in 20-24 knot winds. Then, as we neared the southern coast of St. Lucia, the wind died to a miserable 5 knots. On went the motor and we continued along into the night, motor sailing with increasingly bouncy swells. Just after midnight, thunder and lightning started to dance around us and the rain came down with force. Squall after squall soaked us and made for an uncomfortable several hours. To add insult to injury, Caretta hailed us on the VHF just after 0400 hours. Their engine had died. Then the rain started again. Yeesh. We were low on energy and enthusiasm as daylight broke. What picked us up? Seeing the wonderful hills of Carriacou, just a few hours away. We arrived at 0800 with Caretta just behind us, using their dinghy as their alternate motor to enter the Tyrrell Bay anchorage.
The rest of Wednesday was used to rest and reconnect. Our wonderful buddy boat Kamana had arrived in Tyrrell Bay just the day before! We got to chat and shop a bit before we all hunkered down for the high winds expected from Tropical Storm Bret. Indeed, Bret was now expected to go directly between Martinique and St. Lucia with sustained winds of 60 knots, just a few knots shy of a category 1 hurricane. All of the Eastern Caribbean would feel his effects, to lesser degrees outside of his centre.
Were we worried? No, we were in a protected anchorage, have an excellent anchor and made sure we were well set for the strongest winds. We slept soundly. The next morning, it was a different story. Wild Horses remained well set but several of the boats in the anchorage started to drag anchor once the winds reached over 40+ knots, at 0815 hours. Unfortunately, one of them dragged into Wild Horses. For two hours we fended off the boat Nirvana. Her rudder had wrapped around our anchor chain and she was pinned against our hull, our rigging entangled and her dinghy sideways between our boats with its motor scratching its way around our hull. In the pouring rain, I tried to fend her off while Mike stayed at the helm, managing the boat direction. Nirvana was causing excessive strain on our anchor and we began dragging ourselves. Thankfully, our rocna anchor reset and held. Just a note about Ocean during this whole ordeal - her mindset was chill. She even reached out and gave Justin (the captain of Nirvana) a kiss as our boats were intermingled. Brilliant.
As a last ditch effort, Mike strongly powered Wild Horses forward and bowthrusted to starboard. Yes! We were free of the boat. But we had been dragged backward enough that we threatened the boat behind us. We shortened our anchor chain, while the boat behind us lengthened his anchor chain and we could feel the ease of some space. We were finally in a position to take a deep breath.
Once the wind lightened, we assessed the damage to Wild Horses. Our port navigation light was gone and we had some scratches along our bow but, incredibly, there was no other damage. I write this now, just a few hours later. The winds are light, and the sun is shining. Wild Horses is no longer in danger. We are exhausted but grateful. No one got hurt and Wild Horses’ damage was minimal (you should see the other guy – deep hull scratches, damaged dinghy + stainless, and his dinghy motor was lost). The owners of the other boat offered to pay for the damage, of course, but we declined. We learned a lot through this experience and a $50 light is a small price to pay.
Enjoying Sailing Wild Horses and want to check in on where we are today? Click the Button below.
This has been a week that has put our stress levels to the test. It was a week of brisk winds and sporty seas. It was also a week where our engine conked out on us. Not once, but twice. Yeesh.
But you need the whole story.
Last weekend started quite lovely. We had arrived in Deshies, Guadeloupe on Tuesday and by Thursday we were ready to start heading down the coast. Our first anchorage was just off Pigeon Island in the Malendure Beach area. This was a pretty town that had a few great town amenities (bakery, grocery store, hardware store).
We even got in some fun snorkeling off Pigeon Island. Both Caretta and Wild Horses took our dinghies to the island and set off snorkeling at the island. So many fish! Probably the most we have ever seen and it was a great time, even for Ocean who swam off the dinghy to cool off.
On Saturday we were off again. The plan was two-fold. We would sail 2 hours south to a fuel dock at the southwest corner of Guadeloupe, fill up our diesel and gas cans and then weigh anchor and head the 4 hours to Les Saintes, a set of beautiful islands just south of the main island of Guadeloupe. All went according to plan except the wind was too much at the bow of our boat. Sigh. We would be motoring once again.
But that didn’t hold true. No, just 3 nautical miles from our anchorage at Les Saintes, the engine propelling Wild Horses along suddenly stopped. Dead. Immediately, we threw out our Genoa head sail and then called our buddy boat Caretta to let them know. There was no emergency, I mean, we had lots of wind to fill our sail (good news). The only negative was that it was from the absolute wrong direction. To get to our anchorage, we would have to tack several times across the wind, adding hours to our day.
In the meantime, Caretta continued to the anchorage to scope out our options for when Wild Horses arrived under sail. More good news was that there were mooring balls available in our preferred anchorage. Great! We just had to get there. No problem for Mike! He strategized a route so that our last tack would have us land immediately in front of the anchorage. Our buddy boats had already grabbed one of the moorings and dropped their dinghy. Then as we finished our last tack that had us arrive in the anchorage, we dropped our Genoa to slow us down. Barry attached his dinghy to our boat and we pulled in the mainsail. Barry’s dinghy was able to be our motor as Mike steered us alongside the mooring ball. I grabbed the ball and attached the lines. We were set. Whew, long day.
The next morning, Barry arrived with his multi meter in hand and ready to fix whatever ailed our motor. It took him no more than an hour. The problem was a loose connection with the neutral safety switch which caused it to heat up and trip the breaker for the start on the engine. Wow. Barry, being a master electrician by trade, fixed the connection and another that looked shifty. We were ecstatic! That night we went out to dinner to celebrate. The food was delicious and Les Saintes is beautiful!
On Sunday, the very next day, we all decided to go for a quick hike up Ilet de Cabrit, the small island we were anchored beside. Lots of trails, scenic views, ruins and goats to entertain us and we ended up hiking for almost 3 hours, some of which was straight up the mountain!
Monday morning both Caretta and Wild Horses weighed anchor and we set off for Dominica. Our first island in the Windward Islands. It was also our first island that required a government veterinarian to inspect Ocean at the docks before she could go to land. Only, that never happened. I was granted the Pet Import Permit a few days prior and told to give them 24 hours notice of the date, time and port of our arrival so that the inspection could be arranged. I did just that but received no response on an inspection time. I contacted them another four times and, well, no response. What did we do? We arrived in Dominica, showed our passports, vessel registration and Pet Import Permit to Customs and Immigration and they said “have a nice day”. Ummm, okay. Ocean has been to shore multiple times with no issues. Yay!
The very next day after we arrived, Barry came over to Wild Horses yet again. This time he was just wanting to upgrade the connectors he had put in place in Les Saintes. He also thought he would take a quick look at our tachometer which had quit working on our way to Dominica. Connectors changed, tach checked so all that was left was firing up the engine for a final test. Uh-oh. The engine started but then immediately stopped. Mike and Barry began testing wires and connectors and finally isolated the problem to the main wire connecting the engine to the battery. The wire, hidden under a hose, was almost severed completely through, likely due to all the side to side and front and back bouncing Wild Horses has been subjected to on our journey. Barry easily fixed the wire and we were back in business. The future of our engine looks rosy now that all the wires and connections have been replaced!
On our first full day in Dominica, we decided to get a guide and take a tour up the Indian River, the mouth of which is very close to our anchorage. It was an amazing experience. Our guide, Albert, was extremely knowledgeable and pointed out various trees, flowers, ferns, land crabs (so many!!!), iguanas, hummingbirds and even the hut that was used in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. It was great to get some first-hand knowledge of Dominica and to see some of its incredible terrain.
On Thursday we prepared to head south once again. We had a quick trip on shore to get some East Caribbean Dollars, fresh bread and a bag of eggs (that’s right! No cartons here!). This morning we arrived in Roseau, the capital of Dominica. We will see what adventures await us!
Still headed to Grenada, we are working our way through the windward islands. Click the link below to see where we are today.
Our last few days in Antigua were quiet but busy in the little remote anchorage of New Division Bay, just a little north of Jolly Harbour. There are no on-shore amenities in the bay (i.e. no distractions) so it gave us a good chance to catch up on a few of our boat chores. Cleaning the boat bottom, laundry, polishing our stainless steel and making water – yup, there is always something to do on the boat!
We also fit in some swimming and snorkeling. Besides being fun, this is a big part of how we stay cool during these hot days. The temperature is commonly around 30 degrees Celsius lately and with the humidity, it can get close to 35 or 37 degrees Celsius. Mid-day is the worst, which is why many shops close in the early afternoon, either for the rest of the day or until the night cool sets in. Oh yes, thankfully the nights cool off! This makes sleeping possible. Ummm, except when it rains, which it is doing quite often these days. When it rains, we need to close our boat hatches and well, closed hatches = one very hot boat! With many spotty rain showers and squalls at all hours of the day and night, we find we are opening and closing hatches numerous times an hour. When this happens overnight (which has been frequent over the last few weeks), a full night of REM sleep doesn’t always happen. Open the hatches, close the hatches, open the hatches, close the hatches, yeesh, we are not a fan of the hatch olympics!
How else do we stay cool during the day? Besides swimming and snorkeling, we relish in the sea breezes that flow through the cockpit when we have our boat windshield open. Ah, divine! If we must go to town, we try to linger in stores that have air conditioning. Most of the time, Ocean is allowed to shop inside as well or, at worst, be just inside the front door. Either way, she gets cooled off too. 😊
Cooled off or not, we have to keep heading south. We targeted last Tuesday for making the jump from Antigua to Guadeloupe. The day before (Monday), we repositioned the boat to Jolly Harbour so we could easily go to Customs and clear out, which we did in the early afternoon. At sunrise the next morning, both Caretta and Wild Horses weighed anchor. We had a beautiful day and the wind filled our sails for a fast and comfortable passage the whole 47 nautical miles to Deshies, Guadeloupe.
We arrived in the harbour just before 4pm, which we thought was perfect since the clearing in point was inside a store called “Le Pelican” and we had been told that it opened at 4pm. Only we couldn’t find the store. We chatted with a few locals and came to learn that Le Pelican is closed for a month. With this info, we gave up trying to find the store and instead went with Plan B. Other cruisers had said that boats could also clear in at the local municipal police station. After walking pretty much all around town, we finally found the station. Yes! But no! Taped on the front door was a note saying that pleasure boats should clear in at Le Pelican. Yeah, that same Le Pelican that we couldn’t find and that is closed for the next month. We tried hailing someone inside the station but got no response. Hmmmm. A little stuck, we thought we would try, once again, to find Le Pelican and confirm that it was, indeed, closed. We walked to the area described on the police door signage and still could not find a store with the marquee “Le Pelican”. But we did find lots of closed stores. Perhaps it was one of them? We had now been walking around for almost an hour but as a last ditch effort, we walked again to the municipal police station. With a stroke of luck, an officer was standing outside the station and he confirmed that he could clear our boats in. Yes! Fifteen minutes later, both Caretta and Wild Horses were properly cleared into Guadeloupe. And just one minute after that? The police officer walked outside, locked the door and left for the day. Wow, cleared in at the eleventh hour!
We will stay about a week in Guadeloupe, sailing down the coast and to “Les Saintes” a group of beautiful small islands just south of the main island. Our plan is to enjoy “Les Saintes” for a few days and then head off for our next island, Dominica.
Interested in where Wild Horses is currently anchored? Click on the link below.
Time to move on! We had thoroughly enjoyed our time in St. Martin but we knew we had to keep moving south. We left the Grand Case anchorage in St. Martin at 0930 on Friday and headed to the island of St. Barts, just 20 nautical miles south. Our plan was to stay at St. Barts for the weekend and then make the 76 nautical mile journey south to Antigua.
We arrived in the busy anchorage outside of Gustavia, St. Barts on Friday afternoon. Immediately after our anchors were set, Mike piled into our dinghy with our vessel papers and passports and left to pick up Barry and Dave. Like many islands in the Eastern Caribbean, only the captain of the vessel is allowed to leave the boat for the clearance process.
Once all vessels were cleared in, the rest of us crew (and our pup Ocean) could head to shore. And what an eye opener that was! St. Barts is known for being an island playground for the rich and famous and, yeah, wow. Prada, Rolex, Gucci – one pricey store after the other and so many people walking around in designer clothes and jewellery. Definitely not our jam! Still, we couldn’t resist one meal ashore to get our feel of the vibe. We chose the cheapest waterside restaurant we could find and still walked away paying almost $100 CAD for a couple of appetizers and drinks. Yikes!
Although the anchorage was close to town, it was extremely rolly and uncomfortable. We were in a protected harbour but we were being thrown about like we were in the open ocean with 6 or 7 foot swells. Yeesh! The good news is that we had word that a beautifully calm anchorage was just around the corner (1/2 hour away). All three boats were anxious to get out of our current washing machine situation so weighed anchor early the next day and moved just a few nautical miles north to the quiet and remote Colombier anchorage. What a difference! It was calm, beautiful and absolutely full of sea turtles! We spent the weekend with lots of beach walks, hikes along the mountain range and snorkeling. Fabulous! But the weekend went quickly and we knew we had plans to head further south.
Unfortunately, leaving St. Barts also meant leaving Indigo Lady. Lisa and Dave are headed west to St. Kitts to have their boat hauled out of the water for the summer while they fly home to New Hampshire. It will be sad for Caretta and Wild Horses to continue on without Lisa and Dave. They have made us laugh, explore and snorkel more than we ever would have on our own. Cheers to our dear friends! Our only solace is that we have plans to meet up again in St. Martin next January. Yay!
Our 14 hour passage to Antigua was fairly uneventful, peppered only by a few threatening squalls that never actually crossed our path. We had weighed anchor at 0400 so were able to watch the sun slowly rise. That never gets boring 😊. With the wind just off our bow, we were able to motorsail the whole way, which helped our speed immensely. We arrived at Jolly Harbour, Antigua just as the sun was setting. Too late to clear in, we grabbed a mooring ball and settled in for the night. Since we were not cleared in, Ocean, Mike and I couldn’t leave the boat. No worries, Customs opens at 0800. In the interim, Barry dinghied over to our boat with the news that he had caught not one but two black fin tuna. Yum!
The next morning, we moved Wild Horses to a free dock in front of Customs. We were cleared in by 1000 hours. Well, Mike and I were cleared in but not Ocean. Antigua requires that a government veterinarian inspects any dogs or cats at the dock before they can go to shore. Dr. Edwards is a busy guy so he didn’t arrive until 1800. Thankfully, he had given his approval in the morning for us to quickly take Ocean off the boat to do her business. Rest assured that no dogs were made to cross their legs during this process!
Since we were finally at a dock (it has been 4 months!), we decided that this was the best time to finally go up the mast and fix our dim and blinking anchor light. Immediately, I was able to see the problem. There were no frayed wires or corrosion, just a bulb that was on its last legs. Mike ran out and purchased a new bulb from Budget Marine (only 5 minutes away) and voila! We have our bright and non-blinking anchor light again!
Of course, it wasn't all work in Jolly Harbour. We enjoyed lovely walks about town, great food and, of course, the beach.
Caretta and Wild Horses are now anchored in a quiet bay just north of Jolly Harbour. We are the only two boats so we have the beautiful sandy beach, calm and clear blue water, and a gentle breeze all to ourselves. My gosh, even a dolphin swam by while I enjoyed my morning coffee. We will take a few days to relax here and then move the boat over to English Harbour, a very busy anchorage on the south coast of Antigua. Early next week we will say good bye to Antigua and sail 42 nautical miles south to the French island of Guadeloupe.
Enjoying the blog? Wondering where we are now? Click the link below to find out!
Wild Horses is over 20 years old now and with constant moving (and bouncing through waves and swells), new problems seem to come out of the woodwork far too often. Most times these are small issues and quicky fixed. Other times, not so much. In St. Thomas, USVI, we took a mental inventory of the current woes of Wild Horses.
Yeesh. We knew some of these issues could only be fixed once we could get to a proper marine store in St. Martin. But, for many of the problems, we still had to troubleshoot the cause. Time to call in our boat buddies! Dave (Indigo Lady) is a retired physics teacher and Barry (Caretta) is an electrician by trade. Talk about a dream team! Slowly but surely Dave, Barry and Mike worked together to resolve most of our boat issues.
Their successes include:
The biggest issue, and the most challenging for our dream team, was finding the stray electrical current that was depleting our engine zinc. The solution to these types of issues is usually found using a process of elimination. With a multi-meter, you test wire after wire, connection after connection, until you finally find the stray current. Yikes! There are a lot of wires on Wild Horses – this could take awhile. Thankfully, Mike had a good starting point. We had been having a weird buzzing noise with our water temperature alarm since the Bahamas. Could that be part of the problem? The guys set to work, poring over the electrical schematic for Wild Horses and getting their hands into the circuitry with multi-meters and jumper cables. Watching these guys work the problem was incredible. And, after six hours + missing lunch + many litres of sweat (it was hot!) + a hundred or so engine tests, they found the problem. Let me yell that from the mountaintops - they found the problem! Or, rather, the TWO problems. Problem #1 was a faulty trip breaker and, very close beside it, was problem #2, a burnt connection wire. The burned wire was likely a second victim of our engine issue back in Canada. Wow. I mean, wow.
These guys are incredible and forever in our debt. While thanking them, their response was “but this is what boaters do, help each other” and it is true. Our community is always there for each other. Always. And that is what makes this community so special. We just happen to have a few of the star players in this community as great friends 😉.
And, yes, if you were keeping track, our anchor light issue remains unresolved, but we will get to it. It is just lower on the priority scale. Until fixed, we will just keep our eye on “blinky”.
Even with all the boat fixes, we are still having a grand time and fitting in some pretty cool adventures. This past week, Lisa on Indigo Lady arranged for us to go to a pirate-themed Escape Room in Sint Maarten (Dutch side of St. Martin). Finding the activity was easy, but she also made sure that Ocean could come along. So cool!! This complicated things though – Lisa then also had to figure out how to get all of us plus Ocean from our anchorage in Marigot Bay to the Dutch Blonde Beach Bar (home of the Escape Room) in Philipsburg, a 20-minute drive by car, which we don’t have. Dog-less people have lots of options, of course. There are buses and taxis that run regularly between St. Martin and Sint Maarten. The solution for us? The owner of the Dutch Blond Beach Bar, Sunil Vaswani, offered his services! For just $40, he would come and pick us up (and Ocean) at Marigot Bay and return us at the end of our day. What??? I have to attribute this amazing opportunity to Lisa’s exceptional people skills converging with a restaurant owner who aimed to please. Incredible!
And the car ride to and from the Escape Room wasn’t just a car ride. No, it was a guided tour of Sint Maarten provided by Sunil himself. Not only did he point out various landmarks but we learned about the economy, culture, history and geography of the island. Oh, and then there was the Escape Room. This was a challenging puzzle for the six of us. The concept was that we were captured by Blackbeard and had to escape the room using only the clues around us, many of which were in secured boxes that we had to figure out how to unlock. It was a fun and exciting 60 minutes. We failed to escape but we were super close. Perhaps we would have been successful if Ocean had used her search and rescue talents instead of sleeping through the activity!
This week has been jam-packed and we have thoroughly enjoyed St. Martin. Still, we have to keep moving. A few days ago we decided to move along to the Grand Case anchorage, a little north of Marigot Bay. And today, Friday, we arrived at St. Barts, another French island. We are happy to be on the move!
We keep heading south.! Check out where we are today by clicking the link below.
This week was another jam-packed week of moving the boat, exploring islands, hanging out with friends and, of course, eating some great food!
Last Friday, Wild Horses, Indigo Lady and Caretta moved along to St. John, our last island in the USVI. It was a short one-hour trip from our St. Thomas anchorage where our friends on Bitty Rose were still anchored. We had a great reunion with Kate and Clay the night before, having last seen them way back in Puerto Rico. This is an interesting part of cruising – you meet people, hang out, say good-bye but you know that you will likely meet up once again at another anchorage, another island, or another country even. A few cruisers call this “bungee boating.” It totally fits!
We were looking forward to our visit to St. John as the majority of the island is a national park. A little remoteness, trail walks, and snorkelling sounded wonderful. Arriving in Cruz Bay, St. John, it quickly became clear that the harbour anchorage was extremely full and extremely busy with ferries and tour boats. Hmmm, not really the tranquil setting we were expecting. No worries! We just moved a little more north to Caneel Bay, an anchorage that gave us dinghy access to the town of Cruz Bay but the quietness of the park. Each boat picked up a mooring ball ($26 USD a night), and then we launched our dinghies and headed into town for lunch. The town of Cruz Bay is hopping. The busy ferry from St. Thomas brings tourists, vacationers and locals back and forth. The shops and restaurants are full and there is constant activity on the streets. It was a fun place to just take in the island vibe.
On our way back to our boats, we were pleasantly surprised to see that our friends Matt and Lisa (and pup Rex) on Bye Felicia had also just arrived. Ocean was very happy to see her boyfriend Rex again! After a quick greeting, all four boats made plans to meet up for a drink on Indigo Lady in the evening.
Thanks to Indigo Lady, we also fit in some snorkelling off Mingo Cay.
We knew our time in St. John would be a little short-lived though. A weather window to head to St. Martin had opened up for the following week and all three boats agreed that we should take advantage. Our weather router, Chris Parker, was giving this window the thumbs up but saying it would close tight by the end of the week, meaning we could be waiting several weeks for another opportunity to make the 93 nautical mile journey to St. Martin. On Monday morning we got into our dinghies and headed into Cruz Bay once again, this time to get our USVI departure papers. We were heading to St. Martin the following morning.
With departure papers in hand, we moved our boats to our staging anchorage at Coral Harbor, just 10 nautical miles away. This is a big anchorage with access to town and, even more important, home to “Lime Out VI”, a floating taco stand! Yum! We treated ourselves to three large and savoury tacos – ceviche for me, surf and turf for Mike and a third, blackened tuna, to share between the two of us. Truly the best tacos we have ever had!
The next morning, we prepared Wild Horses for our 10am departure. But, uh-oh, in checking the engine room Mike found water under our propellor shaft. Yikes! It wasn’t enough water to stop us in our tracks but it was concerning. I mopped up the mess, knowing that I would have to do this repeatedly while underway for the whole 24 hours to St. Martin. Ugh.
Of course, once again, the wind was directly on the nose so we had to motor along, first past the end of the USVI and then by the British Virgin Islands (BVIs). The day was starting to bleed away and the last of the BVIs were still in sight when a couple of seabirds (Boobies) landed on our bimini top and decided to hitch a ride to St. Martin. They were an entertaining pair of stowaways and, thankfully, also considerate enough to miss our dinghy when “doing their business”. Outside of the Boobies and my hourly mop up of sea water from under the engine, our trip went very smoothly. Neither of us completely enjoy overnight sails but this was an easy 21-hour motorboat ride.
We arrived at the beautiful island of St. Martin (French side)/Sint Maarten (Dutch side) at 0700 and by 0815 we were checked into the country. We had purposefully chosen the French side of the island due to the informality of their Customs and Immigration, especially for our pup Ocean. No pet import permit or fees here! In fact, she laid beside us during the check in process. There wasn’t even a space on the form to declare we had a dog. Easy!
We will spend at least a week here, enjoying all that St. Martin/Sint Maarten (commonly referred to as “SXM”) has to offer. French wine, food and friendly locals. This is going to be fun! And, yes, we will also need to trouble shoot that pesky water under the engine issue. But first, we will enjoy some brunch in town and then back to the boat to catch up on our sleep.
We are still on the move. Click the link below to find out where we are today!
Victoria is a hiker, dog-lover, blog writer and planner extraordinaire. Oh, yeah and she is kind of fond of living on a boat.