Tag Archives: #dolphins

Waiting, waiting, waiting…

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Kool Kat in her slip at Palmas del Mar Marina

OK, our last post had us arriving at Palmas del Mar Marina on the east coast of Puerto Rico where we planned to hire a car to provision in preparation for The Bahamas.  All our cruising friends had told us that you need to be well-provisioned before visiting this incredible archipelago of islands. According to Wikipedia, it encompasses more than 470,000 sq kms!

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So much to see….

From what we understand there is very little agriculture so most foodstuffs are brought in, often by mail boat once a week and, when that food has gone, it’s gone until the next boat arrives. Because it is imported, food can also be expensive. Cruising guides have stressed that boaters need to be independent as there may be little or no services available. So, with all this advice in mind, we got busy!

Inventories were taken in the pantry, laundry and workshop! Use-by dates were checked and some stuff was tossed! We then set about trying to estimate how many meals x how many days we might need and exactly which boat spares we should buy, just in case!

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We stocked up at Walmart, Econo and West Marine. Oh, and Gwen and I stocked up at JC Penney’s and Marshall’s too as we didn’t have anything warm to wear in the cold Bahamas, LOL! New goods were added to the inventory and excess packaging was removed, not only minimising opportunities for little beasties to stowaway on our boat, but also to reduce the amount of rubbish we’d create in The Bahamas.

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I hope we’ve got enough……
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Definitely got enough tea bags!

In the midst of all this activity we celebrated Australia Day with the Inaugural Australia Day Film Festival on Kool Kat! Banyan (Alex and Dave) and Slow Waltz (Gwen and Guillaume) joined us to watch Aussie movies Red Dog and Gettin’ Square, which is only fair as we helped celebrate Canada Day last 1st July. We had a little Vegemite overload with Banyan and Slow Waltz bringing Vegemite popcorn yes, you read that correctly, Vegemite popcorn, which accompanied our Vegemite on salada-like biscuits and Vegemite and cheese scrolls. Thank goodness I also made Anzacs and mini banana muffins! I should add Mal showed a short Youtube video called ‘Straya’ which is quite a hoot!

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Yep, that’s the Vegemite popcorn in the green bowl! It was scrummy!
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They tasted better than they looked!

So, back to our planning for The Bahamas. Guillaume and Mal had been checking the weather watching for a good window where we could bypass the Dominican Republic and sail straight to either Great Inagua (bottom of The Bahamas) or The Turks and Caicos, a small country next to The Bahamas. The window needs to be 3-4 days of good sailing weather and there was one coming up which looked perfect.

Kool Kat leaving Puerto del Mar Marina. Thanks Banyan for the image.
Kool Kat leaving Puerto del Mar Marina. Thanks Banyan for the image.

We said our goodbyes to Alex and Dave and headed off with Slow Waltz to the southwest corner of Puerto Rico, where we would stop for the night before commencing our journey across the Mona Passage and into the great beyond! But before long Slow Waltz had trouble with the autohelm and an autohelm is not what you want to have out of action when doing a big passage, well, any passage really! So, we both pulled into Salinas on the south coast of Puerto Rico to see what was what. Luckily for us, our hot water service gave up  the ghost whilst there. We’re lucky because if this had happened elsewhere further into our trip we would have been having cold showers for a very long time! Everyone tells us that The Bahamas is a lot cooler than we’ve been used to in the Eastern Caribbean so we wanted a working hot water service! We were able to order a new one, along with some other items and, because Puerto Rico is a US territory, delivery was estimated as three days and not hellishly expensive.

We moved to Guilligan’s Island and then on to Puerto Real on the west coast to wait for the goods and so we would be ready to go as soon as the next window opens up. Our trip was beautiful with dolphins and interesting terrain to keep us occupied.

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Dolphins playing off Kool Kat’s bow
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They love to jump and surf the waves
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The stunning lighthouse, Faro Los Morrillos de Cabo Rojo, on southwest corner of Puerto Rico
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Sunrise over the sleepy port of Puerto Real
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Homes in the fishing village of Puerto Real

The goods arrived true to their word in three days and Mal successfully installed it. Slow Waltz have also got their autohelm working and we’re all ready to go!

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One new fully-installed hot water service!

So now, we’re waiting, waiting, waiting. The winds are very light and there doesn’t seem to be a big enough weather window for The Bahamas so, we think we will do one overnight hop across the Mona Passage to the Dominican Republic where, once again, we’ll be waiting, waiting, waiting.

Until next time, Sue and Mal xx

Postscript: We’ve woken this morning (Sunday 7th February) to 20-30kn winds so we’re off! Woohoo!

Antigua to St Barts

It’s always great having guests to share our experiences and this time we had family! Mal’s sister and niece, Jan and Bri, arrived in Antigua on Jan’s birthday (11 February) for the start of their 3-week Caribbean holiday and took a few days to overcome the jetlag and heat, and to gain their sea-legs.

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Day 1 – overlooking Falmouth Harbour with Kool Kat to the right of my head
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Cooling off
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Hiking to English Harbour

We had an early start at 6am for our 67nm crossing from Antigua to St Barts and dropped the hook 10 hrs later. Winds were slight but it was memorable: we had dolphins off the bow, a pod of humpback whales out to starboard and caught dinner; a Little Tunny and a Cero, both part of the mackerel family. This is what cruising is all about 🙂

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Jan and Mal underway
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Little Tunny
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Humpbacks off our starboard side

St Barts has been fought over by the Brits, the Spaniards and the French. However, the French gave it to the Swedes in the 18th Century in exchange for free port rights in Gothenburg. Thanks to the Swedes for making it a free port which it still is to this day. Many of the buildings reflect the Swedish heritage but it was sold back to the French in 1878. As with other French islands, it is a commune of France but without many European laws. Visiting French islands for us is always like having a taste of France; cheap AND good wines, excellent food at reasonable prices and there is that certain joie de vivre!

Gustavia in St Barts:

Shell Beach, within walking distance of Gustavia:

We were lucky to witness their annual Carnival. It is a fabulous family-friendly parade with everyone encouraged to dress up and enjoy the festivities.

Lunch at Dos Brazil
Lunch at Dos Brazil

The next day we hired a car and did a day-tour of the island. It’s tiny with some gorgeous beaches but it has windy, narrow roads with lots of hairpin bends, big trucks, and they drive on the wrong, I mean right-hand side of the road! I was the designated driver but I had two back-seat drivers helping out! Thank goodness Bri was in the front providing support. All the beaches had beautiful signage and we loved their ashtray idea! Take a can of coke, read ashtray, off the hook, use it whilst at the beach and then return it to the hook. Voila, no dirty cigarette butts in this beautiful environment!

Jan and Bri had their first of many up-close and personal turtle experiences with Bri being crowned official turtle-spotter! We also enjoyed some great snorkelling at Gros Ilets (off Gustavia) and in Anse de Columbier.

A hike to the village of Columbier gave us some amazing views across to Ile Fourchue and St Martin.

Steve Jobs’-designed boat, Venus, was anchored behind us in Gustavia. What do you think of her design?

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Amazing

We stopped overnight at Ile Fourchue, an uninhabited island half-way between St Barts and St Martin. Again, there were turtles aplenty and a good variety of fish. Both in Anse de Columbier on St Barts and at Ile Fourchue, we were fortunate  to snorkel and swim with turtles and off the back of the boat. How good is that!

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Our next stop (and post) is Saint Martin/Sint Maarten which is shared by Holland and France, thus the two spellings. Until then, keep well, Sue & Mal xx