Western Holandes Cays

We spent a second night anchored in front of Yansaladup in the
Limon Cays before moving to our current location yesterday. We
are now in the Western Holandes Cays, anchored in front of
Waisaladup just east of Acuakargana. There is only one hut on
each island. The families care for the coconut trees on the
islands, fish, and make molas. They get 10 cents from Columbian
traders for each husked coconut. This is also a very beautiful
setting. There is a bit of a roll as there is no protection
from the west and south, and less breeze than we would like
because the high coconut palms shade us from the wind. Our
position is N 9 degrees 35.7 minutes, W 78 degrees 46.4 minutes.

Friday afternoon, while in anchored at Yansaladup, some
fisherman sailed up to us in their ulu. They said that they
needed cooking oil to cook up their catch and would be willing
to trade a cup of cooking oil for fish. They had a large pile
of different fish in the bottom of the ulu. We had seen them
haul in these fish from nets attached to poles in the water
where there is a shallow sand bar a few hundred yards away. The
deal was struck and they filleted two fish for us and seemed
pleased with the cup of sunflower oil. What a nice dinner that
made. As they departed, we marveled at how well these ulus,
carved from a single tree trunk, sailed in any direction.

The sail out of the Limon Cays on Saturday was trickly as we
had to wind our way through a myriad of reefs and sand bars. We
timed the sail for 10 am when the sun was high but still behind
us. Laura stood at the bow as lookout. Once through we had a
delightful sail to the Holandes Cays. The seas were flat as we
were behind the reef, but the wind was strong as these small low
islands do little to stop the wind once you are more than 100
yards away. We anchored in 45 feet of water but did not dare
move closer to the island given the steep drop off from the
beach and the protuding coral heads just in front of us. After
a quick lunch, we snorkeled the reef and found it to be one of
the best snorkeling spots that we have every encountered. The
water was very clear and the reef stretched the length of the
island except for a small gap that opened to a white sand beach.
There were many fish including some types that we had not seen
before. We also swam up to the beach and walked the 200 feet to
the other side of the island.

We snorkeled more of the reef today. This afternoon the
German boat “Vera”, who we encountered on our passage from
Bonaire, anchored nearby and we all went to shore to walk the
cicumference of the island. Then Laura and I spent some
cleaning the underside of the boat before taking the dinghy out
to “Vera” for “sundowners.” Britta and Michael and both
interesting people and it was fun to share a bottle of wine and
swap sailing stories.

We may stay here one more day before heading deeper into Kuna
Yala, although we have not yet picked our next island.


Porvenir to Yansaladup

We are now anchored just outside of the tiny island of
Yansaladup in the San Blas Archipelego. Where exactly is that,
you might ask? Well, to tell the truth I am there, and even I
am not really sure of where it is. We are really truly in the
middle of nowhere – but it is an amazingly beautiful and
tranquil nowhere. We are the only boat here – in front of us is
a small palm covered island with one family living in their hut.
The family tends coconuts and sells molas whenever they can to
passing tourists. There is another even tinier island just to
our right with just two huts – no palm trees at all ( see
photo). There is a large reef extending for miles – just in
front of us which blocks us completely from the rough seas
outside. It is pretty much a constant 87 degrees with a steady
breeze blowing. It is very calm and comfortable in the
anchorage, the boat barely moving at all in the gentle seas
behind the reef. We spent most of the day yesterday at the
Chichime Cays – mentioned in our previous blog with the little
islands of Uchutupu Pippi and Uchutupu Dumat. Claus and I had an
amazing morning swim off the boat and then later in the day the
three of us took the dinghy over to the reef and spent an hour
or so snorkeling in a beautiful coral garden. Lots of fish,
beautiful coral of all kinds, and very warm water. We really
enjoyed it. By 3:00 P.M. we had to head back to Porvenir so we
would be ready to take Claus to the airport in the morning.
When we got to Porvenir we decided to go see if the customs and
immigration office was open. We had been told a few days
earlier that it was closed until February 26th, but we didn’t
think that sounded right and we noticed that most of the boats
around us had their Panamanian flags up so we thought it was
best to check. You don’t want to ignore any rules when you come
to a new country. It turned out that the office was open, but
as it was nearly 5:00 P.M. by the time we got there, no one was
actually in the office. Someone sitting outside saw us and ran
to find the official for us. It was an incredibly shabby office
– even by Caribbean standards. The islands are so beautiful
here that it is easy to forget how poor it is. One room was
absolutely filled with heaps of papers – copies of previous
boater’s documentation – all mildewed and yellowed – just
sitting in big piles. It would be impossible to find anything in
those piles of paper, but they need to collect the information
anyway. The entrance way had two chairs, each completely
broken, with all of the insides sticking out. The somewhat
unfriendly looking official offered to help us – including
getting the necessary cruising permit – the Zarpe He asked our
boat size, did some calculations on his little calculator and
told us it would cost $80 – which sounded just fine to us as
that was what we expected. Then he said there was a $20 charge
for his overtime. Not wanting to be cheap, but also not wanting
to get ripped off, Mark asked if there would be an overtime
charge if we just came in and did the paperwork in the morning
during regular office hours. He got very quiet and then said
that it would actually take two weeks to get the Zarpe, so we
would need to come back again then. The deal was, if we paid him
$100, the Zarpe could miraculously be obtained right then and
there ( no receipts available). If we paid him only $80, the
Zarpe could not be obtained for another two weeks because it was
so complicated. Very interesting, don’t you think? Anyways, it
didn’t take us more than a minute to agree readily that $100 and
no receipt would be absolutely fine with us. We were soon
officially checked in, and even got a free Kuna calendar. After
checking in we celebrated our trip with Claus by eating again at
the little restaurant that sits next to the airstrip here. We
were the only guests, and this time the menu had chicken and
chips – no fish had been caught that day, so there was no fish
on the menu. It was great. It was relatively expensive
compared to our meal at Raouls shack the night before ($4 a
person), but still incredibly cheap at $7 a person including not
only the chicken and chips, but a beer and a soda each.
This mornng we had to bring Claus to the airport for a 6:40 a.m.
Since we were anchored just 100 feet from the dock; and the
rickety airport gate is another 50 to 100 feet away, we didn’t
have to get up too early to get him there on time. In fact we
got up at ten to six and were at the airport gate at 6:00. It
was another 15 minutes before the other passengers arrived –
many of them coming to the dock on the little dug-out canoes
that the locals use for just about everything, including their
taxi service. A few showed up at 6:30. At 6:35 the plane
arrived – landing just in front of us, turning sharply at the
end of the run-way, then taxiing back to the waiting
passengers.The plane stopped about 25 feet from where we were
standing. By 6:45 everyone arriving on the flight had
de-planed, all the luggage and packages were unloaded , the new
passengers were on ( each one called by name by the captain),
the luggage stowed, and the plane took off. Really the most
amazing airport we have seen. Claus waved goodbye to us from
his seat near the front of the plane and Mark and I went back to
the boat to sleep again before starting our day here. We are
tired, but thrilled to be here!

Kuna Yala: Porvenir and Uchutupu Pippi

We are currently anchored in Chichime Cays, between Uchutupu
Pippi and Uchutupu Dumat. The position is N 9 degrees 35
minutes, W 78 degrees 53 minutes. These are tiny little
islands, almost totally flat and covered in palm trees with only
two huts on each cay. We just returned from supper at the home
of Raoul on Uchutupu Pippi. Raoul and other members of his
family paddled out to us in their wooden dugout canoe this
afternoon and asked us to dinner — adding that it would cost $4
per person and that the Americans on the catamaran further east
would be joining. We had red snapper and coconut rice while
sitting next to his thatched hut on rough hewn logs. Luckily
the folks on the other boat (“Sol Mate”) brought plates and
forks because that was not supplied. We knew the fish was fresh
because two hours before we ate, Raoul came by in his canoe with
the fish he had caught. It was a great meal under the palms and
we toasted Raoul and his family for their hospitality. But this
is jumping ahead. Let me quickly review that past few days.

Our last two days on the passage from Bonaire were as great as
the first two days. It was windy on Saturday night, as
predicted, but that caused no problems for us as we had reefed
the sails down well before the wind piped up. Sunday morning
the wind eased and shifted north, making our two head sail
configuration inappropriate. So we took down the ballooner
(spinnaker) and big genoa and put away the poles. The boat
slowed considerably but we paid no attention since we were ahead
of schedule. We did not want to come through the opening in the
reefs (“Canal de San Blas”) before 10 am Monday since we need
the sun to be high enough in the sky to illuminate the reefs
hidden just below the surface. After a big lunch we sat in the
cockpit reading the New Yorkers and Newsweeks that my sister
Naomi sent us, not really paying attention to the fact that our
boat speed had dropped to less than 5 knots. Around 5 pm we
spotted a sailboat on the horizon off to starboard and we
conjectured that this could be the German boat “Vera” that we
passed one day out of Bonaire. Laura called on the VHF and sure
enough it was Vera and she was also planning a 10 am entry
though the reefs. I suddenly realized that as we were
pleasantly engaged in reading we had ignored our boat speed. A
quick calculation on the plotter revealed that at our current
speed we would not get to the reef passage until 3 pm!! Thank
goodness the appearance of “Vera” shook us out of our lethargy.
We quickly put the genoa on a pole to windward so that we were
sailing wing-on-wing. That gained us 2 knots immediately and
none too soon as the sun was setting and setting poles on the
foredeck in the dark is not something I relish. The wind picked
up strongly after dark and we sped along briskly, but the
direction was bad and we had to sail well to the south of our
desired course with the sail plan that we had.

The wind stayed strong all night and the seas built, making
sleeping difficult. Early in the morning, we rolled up the
genoa in order to head north towards our destination, sailing
with main and mizzen alone. The wind was so strong, that was
sail enough. We came to the reef opening just after 10 am and
by 11:15 am we were anchored off Porvenir Island, joining “Vera”
in the anchorage. It is hard to believe that Porvenir has an
airport since the island is so tiny. There is a runway the full
length of the island. The runway is a bit wider than a
residential street and it seems to take up about one-third of
the area of the island. There is not only an airport on this
island, but the island is an airport! As we admired the scene a
tiny Cessna wove its way through the sail boat masts and landed.
It is not a good idea to anchor in front of the runway, and
another boat moved when they saw this.

After lunch and a quick snooze, we started to put the dinghy in
the water in order to go ashore and check-in. There is nothing
else to do in Porvenir — just check-in or catch a flight.
There is no village, nor room for one. Britta and Michael
Adlkofer of “Vera” came by to introduce themselves and tell us
not to bother to rush ashore to check-in. This is carnival week
in Panama and the boat check-in agent is off for the week. Come
back on the 26th they were told. We had Britta and Michael
aboard for drinks and snacks. Michael is a professor of
architecture at the University of Hanover, although they live in
Berlin. They are also on a circumnavigation on their 1976 Swan 47.

We finally went ashore just to stretch our legs. We strolled
down the runway, nervously looking back on occasion to check on
landing aircraft. We were surprised to find the “Hotel Porvenir”
and its associated restaurant. To say this was a modest
establishment would be an understatement. We ordered supper —
the only dish available was fish, rice, and beans — and it was
delicious, as was the local brew, Balboa. With drinks, dinner
was $6 per person.

Laura and I slept 10 hours last night. We went to bed as Claus
was starting the movie “Groundhog Day” on the laptop. Perhaps
it is his youth that permits him to get by with so much less
sleep. We motored upwind to Chichime Cay late in the morning.
This is a very pretty place and quiet — the surrounding cays
are too small to have a runway even if they were completely
paved over. We snorkeled the reef in the afternoon (Laura saw a
big spotted ray), and then I went up the mast in the bosuns
chair to fix the foredeck light that had come out of the mast
when we brought the ballooner down. It was nice to have both
Laura and Claus on deck when I went up since I could then have
one of them tend a safety line. It was a great view from up
there and I got the light fixture back in its place and secured
with a wire tie, but the bulb was dead from all the knocking
around and I had forgotten to bring one up with me.

We will return to Porvenir tomorrow afternoon. Thursday, Claus
has a 6:35 am departure from the Porvenir airport to Panama
City. We will he sorry to see him go. Then Laura and I will
explore the dozens of tiny islands of the San Blas archipelago
that lie to the east. This area is known as “Kuna Yala” to its
Kuna Indian inhabitants.


Safe arrival in Panama

We arrived in Panama about three hours ago. We are anchored
behind Porvenir Island in the San Blas Islands. The location is
North 9 degrees 33 minutes, West 78 degrees 57 minutes. The
passage went very well although we had some stronger winds and
bigger seas on Saturday night and last night. After dropping
anchor, we had a quick lunch and then spent a couple of hours in
our bunks resting. We are still tired but have to get the
dinghy in the water and go through the check-in procedure. Just
now two Kuna Indian women paddled up in a canoe to sell
something. I wish once of us knew Kuna or Spanish. We will
fill in some more details later today or tomorrow.


Passage to Panama: Day 2/3

Saturday February 17th, 4:30 P.M. EST
Position: N 12 08 43
W74 54 36

It is now day 3 of our passage from Bonaire to the San Blas
Islands. We continue to be very fortunate with both wind and
seas – it is quite literally “smooth sailing”. We have had
winds from the east north-east somewhere in the 14 to 20 nm per
hour range – making for a very comfortable sail. We had huge
bunches of flying fish hopping out of the water all morning and
sailing past us – big groups of 10 to 30 fish at a time – all
silvery and smooth. Some of them are out of the water for a
hundred feet or more, sometimes turning directions in
mid-flight. One of them took a left just in front of the forward
sail and crashed into it. He must have been as surprised as we
were. Just as we were getting bored of them, a fantastic school
of dolphins appeared at the side of the boat and they dove and
jumped all around us for about a half an hour. They must send
out calls to their friends when they find a boat to follow for
as we watched them playing in the waves around us, we could see
many of them cruising up to the boat from way behind – coming at
such a fast speed it was startling. Claus had been wanting to
see dolphins so we were all very glad that they visited us. We
hope we will see more of them before the trip is over. There is
lots of shade in the cockpit from about 11:00 a.m. onwards so we
are all comfortable. It is a good idea to stay out of the
direct sun here as it is incredibly intense starting from about
8:00 a.m. We have had two nights at sea so far, both of them
moonless, which I thought would make it quite dark. Guess I was
wrong, as the stars are so intensely bright that we have lots of
light at sea. The stars have really been amazing – the whole
milky way is visible – and we watch the big dipper rise out of
the horizon behind us as the night progresses. We saw a tiny
sliver of moon yesterday, just before the sun rose.
Lots of boiled eggs, chicken, Dutch cheese, fruit and chocolate
to eat on board – plus good old diet Coke and lots of water.
Claus is a welcome addition to our trip – he balances out the
Pitt sleeping equation, as he doesn’t seem to need any sleep,
and Mark and I can never seem to get enough sleep.

First day of passage to Panama

We left Bonaire yesterday morning at 09:20 am EST. To my
surprise, the trip northwest to get around Curacao and Aruba was
still sufficiently downwind that we did not have to take down
the balloner, which we had left furled on the head stay on
arrival to Bonaire, or remove the downwind poles. We sailed
north of our plotted course in anticipation of an evening wind
shift. Seas were quite rolly and confused at first, making for
an uncomfortable ride, but then became more regular. On leaving
Bonaire, we found ourselves about 10 miles behind another
sailboat seemingly headed in the same direction. A Netherlands
Antilles patrol plane made a couple of low passes to check us
out in the waters east of Curacao. (When we approached Bonaire
last week, a patrol helicopter dropped down off of our stern to
check us out as well). We saw much less tanker traffic than
anticipated as we crossed the shipping lanes into Venezuela’s
oil ports.

We made excellent speed last night and the ride was decidedly
more comfortable. This morning we passed that other sail boat
and quickly left him behind. He called me on the VHF at about 8
am to tell me that we looked good with our “spinnaker” out and
that he was envious of our speed. His vessel is “Vera” out of
Germany and is heading to the exact same place that we are —
Provenir, in the San Blas Islands of Panama. We agreed that we
would try and meet when we arrived. We have had the balloner
set to starboard and the big 155% genoa set to port on identical
poles that whole way and expect that this sail configuration may
take us all the way to the San Blas Channel.

It is great to have Claus Portner with us as crew. He is
easy-going and fun to be with, not to mention a very competent
sailor. His presence also enhances our rest. Instead of a “3
hours on, 3 hours off” watch schedule, we have a “3 hours on, 6
hours off” schedule. Having 6 hours to sleep or whatever is way
better than 3 hours.

It is now 11:10 am EST (16:10 Z) and we are making about 7.5
knots (down from the low 8’s) at a heading of 276 degrees
magnetic in about 5-6 foot following seas. Our position is
North 12 degrees 59 minutes, West 71 degrees 22 minutes. The
crew is well-fed and feeling fine and the boat is making easy
miles. Our professional weather router, Commanders Weather, has
warned us of 30-40 knot winds Saturday night into Sunday morning
when we are off the coast of Colombia, so we may see a few
raucous hours before we make landfall in Panama on Monday.

PS. Claus (pictured above) sends special birthday greetings to
this mother and little sister.


Preparing to depart Bonaire

We are still in Bonaire.  This is a delightful island and suited our needs perfectly.  The provisioning is very good, there is an excellent Budget Marine chandlery, and the people are very friendly. 


This evening (Tuesday, Feb 13), Claus Portner joins us for the passage to Panama.  I have known Claus since he was a graduate student at the University of Copenhagen and took the PhD short-course that I taught there about 9 years ago.  I served on the PhD thesis committee and he was a visitor at Brown for a semester last year.  He now teaches at the University of Washington, so it is a long way for him to come to Bonaire.  Claus is an experiences sailor and the trip from here to Panama is known to have higher winds and rough seas, althought he forecast now is quite good.


We leave for the San Blas Island of Panama on Thursday morning. It is a trip of about 700 nautical miles that takes us north of Curacao and Aruba and well off the Colombian coast.  Our initial destination is Porvernir in the western San Blas islands. 



Passage to Bonaire: Day 2

This is yesterdays blog entry that was not sent due to an
approaching squall. We have since arrived safely in Bonaire
after a fast and comfortable sail.

A picture of Laura typing the blog entry is also attached. More

Feb 7, 2007. 18:00 AST: position North 12 degrees, 22 minutes;
West 66 degrees. 24, minutes; course: 279 degrees magnetic;
current speed 7.8 knots.

It’s nearly sunset now – on our 2nd day of our 2.5 day trip from
Union Island to Bonaire. What’s it like to sail for 2.5 days
non-stop? Well, actually, it has been very nice so far. Not
scary – not particularly uncomfortable – although the boat is
rolling a fair amount from side to side in the swells. Before
doing night sails I am typically very scared and nervous, but
have found, at least on this voyage so far, that once I am out
in the cock-pit at night, with the beautiful stars and the
moon-lit seas, it is very nice. The days are short in the
Caribbean – it is pretty much dark for 12 hours a day, but out
on the boat it doesn’t really seem dark. First the stars light
up the sky, then the moon rises and everything becomes crystal
clear – you can see colors on the sails – and then you see some
phosphorescence on the water. The sun rises at 6:00 am, and
doesn’t get hot til about 9:00. We have taken turns taking lots
of naps – sometimes for an hour, sometimes for as long as 3.5
hours. All in all we end up getting 8 or 9 hours of sleep
during a 24 hour period – although it is pretty broken up sleep.
The sailing conditions were really great for most of the past
two days. For a few hours we were sailing between 9 and 11 knots
– that is a really great speed for us. We have two big
headsails set on poles ( see photo), one of which is our
ballooner which is red, white and blue. The other is the big
jib which Rick and Leon helped us set up when they were here.
They are very beautiful when set out together. They also make
for very easy downwind sailing – which is what we are doing now,
as we head almost due West. We are sailing about 30-50 miles
north of a whole string of Venezuelan Islands that we would love
to see, but don’t have time to stop at. Right now we are about
300 miles away from Union and have another 130 or so to get to
Bonaire. It will be good to arrive – but right now we are
enjoying the sea and the air. We have only seen two boats on
route – both large oil tankers – nicely lit up in our radar –
and also very visible to the naked eye. It is interesting to
pass another boat in the dark- almost easier to see them at
night than during the day. We have been listening to a lot of
music on our Ipod Nano’s and eating good meals – stuff we
prepared before leaving Union. Amazing how good everything
tastes when you are at sea.


Enroute to Bonarie

We left Chatham Bay, Union Island at 2:00 am AST for Bonaire.
We are now 100 miles west of Union Island sailing in moderate
winds and 8 foot swells. All in all, comfortable but a bit
rolly. We are sailing a bit slower than planned as the winds
have moderated all afternoon. We are still doing 6.5 knots.
Our location is N 12 degrees 23 minutes 86, W 64 degrees, 14
minutes 58. Heading 285 degrees magnetic. It is now 16:30 AST
or 20:30 UTC (Zulu). Here is a picture of the first mate
sheltering from the sun with the ballooner behind her.


Union Trouble

It is Monday February 5th, and we are back in Chatham Bay, Union
Island. We are happy to finally get out of Clifton Harbor
after a couple of trying days. We had hoped to get all of our
passage preparations done on Saturday and leave at 6 am Sunday.
Saturday was not long enough a day for us. We spent too much
time catching up on email at Erika’s Internet Cafe and then did
not finish our food shopping until 5 pm. When we headed back to
the boat in the dinghy, the wind was up in the mid-20 knot range
and it seemed like a bad time to haul the outboard engine and
dinghy onto the deck. We had a long list of things to do before
departure and there was no way we could get them done that
evening. So we decided to stay one more day and plan on a
Monday departure.

Saturday night brought one squall after another beginning about
10:30 pm and ending about 8:45 am. When the wind howls and the
boat pitches, I feel the need to get out of bed and sit at the
helm in case the anchor drags. I was particularly concerned
because we were anchored in back of a reef, and thus there was
no protection from the wind, and in front of another reef, and
thus if we dragged we would quickly be be hard aground and
grinding on the rocks. The last squall was the worst that I had
seen in the Caribbean with winds approaching 40 knots and
lasting 45 minutes. Our anchor held and we did not move an
inch, but I was exhausted. I went off to bed in the forward
berth hoping for a few hours of sleep but an hour later I heard
Laura’s rapid footsteps above me and her shouting. I figured
that she was telling a local vendor in a boat who was trying to
sell us stuff that we were not interested. A minute later she
came into the forward berth and told me I need to see what was
going on outside. There was a 51 foot Contest sailboat (“Lara”)
flying the French flag that was obviously out of control
directly in front of us. The helmsman was using his engine and
bowthrusters to try and keep from crashing into “Sabbatical III”
and the neighboring catamaran, also at anchor. He swung within
a few feet of each of our boats and his two crew run around
frantically trying to figure out what to do.

Laura saw the hold thing unfold. The boat came into the tightly
packed anchorage at high speed with an anchor already hanging in
the water. Laura ran forward and yelled repeatedly at the
Captain not to anchor in front of us or he would likely get
entangled with our anchor and chain rode. He simply shrugged
her off and dropped his anchor while still moving forward, a
maneuver common among French vessels. As he pulled back from
his anchor he nearly missed us and the neighboring catamaran.
He then sheepishly realized that he was badly placed and begun
to haul up his anchor when his windlass ground to a halt. That
is when I came up on deck. He yelled out that his windlass was
jammed. The occupants of all of the boats in the area came out
to see the show as he swung wildly around trying not to hit us
our our neighbor. A Union Islander came out to help and dove
down 18 feet to the bottom on multiple occasions. I sat at the
helm with the engine running just in case he pulled up my anchor
and we started to drift. After 90 minutes the French boat
retreived her anchor. I asked the Union Islander what the
problem had been and he said that the French boat had caught my
anchor chain with her anchor. If we had not been on the boat,
and the French boat had pulled up our anchor, we would have come
to grief on the rocks.

That misadventure, plus continuing high winds and squalls kept
us in Clifton another day. We went to bed exhausted at 7:30pm
and got up early this morning to finally get the dinghy up and
the downwind poles set. We left Clifton before someone else
anchored on top of us and headed west to hoist our balloner and
then furl it along with the genoa on the headstay. We
immediately ran into a problem since we have a brand new
ballooner halyard that was too big to fit into the slot at the
head of the ballooner. So I sat on deck for 45 minutes as the
boat headed west, filing the slot until the halyard would just
fit. Once we got the two head sails up (and doing over 8 knots)
and then furled them,we were over 6 miles due west of Chatham
and so had to motor directly into the wind and chop to get back.
We are now peacefully anchored here in wide open Chatham Bay
and are mostly set for the 412 nautical mile passage to Bonaire.
We figure it will take us 54 to 62 hours. To be certain that
we arrive in Bonaire when there is still light, we plan on
leaving here at 2 am AST in the morning (just 7 hours from now,
or 0600 Zulu). Our course is pretty direct — taking us just
north of Las Roques (Venezuelan islands) and around the southern
end of Bonaire and up to the moorings just off of the Habour
Village Marina.



We started out our day on Thursday by taking a dinghy ride out
to the far northern point of Canouan’s Charlestown Bay to do
some snorkeling. It looked like a pretty spot, but there was
too much swell on one side to land the dinghy, and on a
neighboring beach the water was all churned up with sand. We
returned to the boat for a little swim before weighing anchor
and setting out for new sights. We tried to get into the pretty
palm tree lined harbor in Mayreau, but it was chock full of
boats and we couldn’t even consider staying there. We decided
that Chatham Bay in Union would be a good spot to go as it is
protected from the north where swells were expected. We had a
great sail there – and everyone was thrilled with the place. It
is a beautiful quiet harbour facing some very high green lush
looking hills and lined with a white sand beach. There is a guy
there whose boat “Shark Attack” is something of a legend among
boaters. He prepares terrific beach barbecues for a reasonable
price – with as many people there as he can sign on from the
visiting boats. We signed on for dinner, although his helper
warned us that there were no langostine available that night.
Just an hour or so before we left the boat to go to shore to
eat, a boat came by with two local fisherman selling langostine.
As they held up a huge one, Brock motioned him over and asked
if he could buy one, have the guy deliver it to Shark Attack,
and have Shark Attack include it in the barbecue. It seemed as
if the guy was not thrilled about working with Shark Attack, but
he was thrilled to have Brock’s money, so they arranged for two
large langostine to be purchased and delivered in time for the
dinner. We went to shore and wandered along the beautiful beach
for a while before dinner – watching the full moon rise. There
were about 20 other people eating when we did, although no-one
seemed particularly interested in getting to know us. One group
had brought a huge picnic cooler filled with wines and drinks
and who knows what else. We had our one little bottle of wine
with us. The “restaurant” was on the beach – three wooden picnic
tables overhung with simple tarps and a gas lantern on each
table. Shark Attack and his two assistants were working in the
dark at a couple of huge grills. We had our own table and
feasted on langostine, fresh tuna, barbecued chicken, roasted
potatoes and cole-slaw and rice. Afterwards a local guy with a
guitar and pretty much the worst voice I have ever heard
seranaded us. We made a polite exit as soon as we could get
away from him and took another quick walk down the beach to see
what was happening at the other two restaurants that were open.
We felt so sad for the other proprieters as both of their
places were completed devoid of visitors. They looked longingly
at us and invited us to visit their places, but we were full and
slightly drunk already, so we had to say no and dinghied back
to the boat under a bright moon and clear skies.

Today, Friday we spent the morning on the beach. It turned out
to be an incredible place to snorkel- millions of silvery fish
darting around the rocks that lined the shore. It looked like a
scene in a Disney movie – just a solid wall of fish glittering
in the water. Mom came in to snorkel at least
three times, really loving the water and the fish. After a
few hours, we had to leave the beach because we wanted to get
back to the other side of Union to make sure we found a good
anchorage for the night in Clifton Harbour. Lucky we left when
we did. We arrived in Clifton at about 3:30, and by 5:00 the
weather changed and we found ourselves bracing up against an
incredibly long stretch of storms. The anchorage was so full
when we arrived that we ended up anchoring much closer to
another boat than we would have liked. The owner of the other
boat was standing on his deck glaring at us ( for good reason),
until he finally called out to Mark that he would like him to
let out more chain. I went up on deck when it calmed a little
bit and we dropped some more chain. Although we ended up with a
pretty good distance between us I have a feeling it may be a
night where Mark or I gets up at least once to have a peek
around. It was too stormy to go to town for dinner, so we
managed to put together a nice pasta and chicken dinner.
Tomorrow morning Cathy, Brock and Shirl will all leave and Mark
and I will prepare for our big sail to Bonaire…..


2nd Bloomfield Crew

2nd Bloomfield Crew

On Monday, after Leon and Ricky left, Shirley, Brock and Cathy
helped us provision. Union is kind of a tough island to
provision at despite a plethora of fruit stalls and small and
medium size food stores. It involves going from store to store,
figuring what they have, and then figuring out the best plan to
gather all the stuff and get it back out to the dinghy and the
boat before the frozen foods defrost or the fruit gets mashed
around too much. Some of the stores even have their own dinghy
dock so you can pull up and put the heavy cans and bottles in,
but they are not that easy to tie up to. We ended up buying
fruit from three different fruit vendors in the market –
skipping Jenny- our favorite from last time because we were a
little miffed at her having charged Brock about 3 times the
going price for a pineapple that was the size of an orange.
Between the fancy French boat provisioner, the big “Lambi”
supermarket, and a couple of smaller stores we were able to get
a nice selection of cheese, chicken, fruits, vegies, and drinks.
We ended up walking up and down the streets, from store to
store for quite a while, and mom was getting heat stroke so she
went back to the hotel to wait while we finished up. It’s not
quite the same type of shopping as driving over to Lunds in St.
Paul for a 10 minute shop.

They got a water taxi driver – who Mom nicknamed Chicago for his
shirt – to drive them and their luggage over to the boat while
Mark and I brought the groceries back to the boat in our dinghy.
It was pretty hot – so we were all glad to weigh anchor about
3:30 and start sailing over to Tobago Cays. It is so much more
pleasant out on the open water. It is a short hop from Union to
Tobago so we only had the sails up for a half an hour and then
had to motor the final half hour through the openings in the
reefs to beautiful Tobago Cays. We picked an anchoring spot
very close to where we were just a few days earlier with Leon
and Ricky. Still gorgeaus. Lots and lots of boats in the
harbour. We had a quick swim around the boat, before starting
dinner..and then sat on deck to watch the moon and stars.

Next day, Tuesday was spent doing lots of water activities.
Started out dinghying over to one of the tiny islands behind the
Cays where we could go for a short walk. There is a path that
goes to the other side of the island – which is facing leeward-
and is very quiet and calm. Lots of other people were there –
mostly day-trippers on charter boats. It was a great place for
an introductory snorkel with Mom. She put on the snorkel mask
and hopped right in – very fun to find such a nice beach. Not
too many fish, but the water was great. After that we dropped
Mom back at the boat while the rest of us went out to the big
reef for another snorkel. The current was very strong and it
was pretty hard to swim towards the reef – but quite a thrill to
turn around and go the other way where the water was pushing us
quickly along. Getting back onto the dinghy from the water is
tricky and we had some good laughs as we all pulled ourselves up
via the dinghy strap – each of us doing a great impersonation of
a beached whale, or more like a hippo.

We had a rest on the boat for a while and then headed out to yet
another small island – in search of a good snorkel and possibly
some turtle sightings. The beach ended up to be “the place” to
be- as it had at least a dozen people on it, several of whom
were doing kite surfing. It was really beautiful to watch these
incredibly strong young people flying back and forth through the
water and then gently landing back at the beach..
Just as we were dinghying back to the boat, someone snorkeling
in the water called out to us that there were at least 10
turtles right near us in the water. We rushed back to shore to
dock the dinghy – knocking Mom off the dinghy, and creaming
Brock with the bow of the boat as we reached shore. We jumped
back in with our snorkel gear and headed out again over some
disgustingly gooshy looking green grass in search of turtles.
Apparently the turtles like that green grass and tend to hang
out there. Although we saw only one turtle and one huge
starfish it was a great swim.

Sun was setting as we dinghied back to the boat for dinner.
Next day, Wednesday, the crew was anxious to go see some other
islands, so we set sail for wherever the winds would take us.
Gorgeaus sail – past Mayreau and Canouan. The winds were quite
high and we decided that we would try out Canouan as an
anchorage. It doesn’t have much of a reputation as a “gorgeaus”
island, but it does have restaurants and a protected anchorage,
so it seemed worth trying. When we pulled into the harbour it
was suddenly amazingly calm. We decided to go to shore to have
lunch at the Tamarind Beach Hotel and were immediately charmed.
It is a lovely hotel with a gorgeaus white sand beach, palm
trees and comfy beach chairs. We had a delicious lunch and then
spent the rest of the afternoon just lazing around on the beach
– swimming, snorkeling and napping. Great Pina Coladas at
sunset topped off the day. We met a couple of great women on
the beach – Cheryl and Petra – and ended up inviting them to the
boat for a little visit. It was fun – we showed them the boat
and sat on deck for a while chatting under the full moon.

After dinghying them back to shore, we all decided to have
dinner on shore again – and returned to the Tamarind Beach Hotel
Restaurant for dinner. We had a very charming waiter, great
service, and a totally enjoyable meal. Very nice day in
Canouan. Back to the boat for a final “full moon watch” before