[ A+ ] /[ A- ]

Happy New Year Everyone!

It is tradition that I share a few of the highlights of the past year with you. Unfortunately we have a few low points to share with you too.

It has certainly been a steep learning curve for us, especially as we decided to ‘follow the path less traveled’ and head down the poorly charted Western Caribbean.

And we were very lucky to have family and friends come out to visit us again.

[mappress mapid=”410″]

Let’s start at the beginning

 

EXUMAS, BAHAMAS

Last year this time we were in the shallow crystal clear waters of the Bahamas.

CIMG1518

We followed the ‘well worn’ track of other sailors south along the Exuma chain of islands. Despite being in the ‘back yard’ of the Americans, we found many unspoilt anchorages, good fishing and lobstering, and wonderful sights above and below the water.

Fishing-two fish

It is here we were fortunate enough to have a visit from an old friend from back home in England. Roy had a wonderful holiday with us.

Roy on kayak with Quinn

8.DSC05867

We dropped Roy off in the crazy, crowded anchorage off Georgetown, Great Exuma Cay, and headed south to the rarely visited tiny string of isolated cays known as the Jumento Cays (Ragged Islands).

CIMG1417

 

JUMENTO CAYS (RAGGED ISLANDS)

It was from ‘here on out’ navigation became more challenging. Electronic and paper charts had very little detail of this area. We had to start using a lot more ‘eye ball’ navigation with the assistance of Explorer Chart way points.

Image result for Explorer chart Jumento Cays image

It is also where ‘self sufficiency’ became important in our travels. There are few other boats here and only one small town at the end of the string of islands, but the rewards were immense.

CIMG1729

CIMG1694CIMG1475We found the little town on the last island, Ragged Island, charming. The people there had been isolated for generations and are the friendliest in the Bahamas. They have little to share, but now have a weekly supply boat bringing in basic foods.

Maxine's shop

Maxine and her granddaughter on Ragged Island, Jumento Cays,Bahamas

 

ROUGH RIDE TO CUBA

It was here we got stuck for a while waiting for a weather window to get down to Cuba. We had our hearts set on cutting through the windward passage that separates Cuba from Haiti to get to Cuba’s south coast. In the end we had to beat into the wind and waves to get there. Our roughest passage yet since Northern Europe.   We found leaks in the boat we never knew we had.

CUBA

Castillo de Morro-view of Cayo Granma

Cuba turned out to be a lot poorer than we had thought. But the people are incredibly proud and friendly. They just wanted to trade for any old electronics, clothes and fishing line.

People 2

We wish we could speak Spanish as everyone was so friendly and tried so hard to speak and share with us.

The old cities, old cars and old pass times are preserved here.

Tinadad-main square

Trinidad, Cuba

CIMG1912

Santiago de Cuba

CIMG1925

There is also plenty of natural beauty. Our favorite string of islands were the Archipiélagode los Canarreos, which includes the terribly touristy but stunning island of Cayo Largo.

[mappress mapid=”411″]

Anchorage-Cain and Quinn on beach

It was here we found lobster, as large as the dog, running around on the open sea bottom.

CIMG2896

Charts and old guide books were all inaccurate for the areas around this island. Bays have become shallower and coral has grown. Even using the most up-to-date cruising guides and their waypoints we still ran aground, softly thankfully. We knew a few boats that hit coral, not so softly, trying to make night passages. After almost hitting innumerable unlit local fishing boats and an unlit sandbank marker on our first passage that ran into the dark, we made all future passages in light and aimed to get in by the noonish.

CIMG2106

MEXICO

After the Jumento Cays and Cuba it was quite a culture shock to be back in ‘the land of plenty’. Our first stop in Mexico was the very touristy island of Isla Mujeres. Bars, restaurants, grocery stores and lots of other cruising boats again. We had not realized how much we had missed them all.

Downtown-tourist shops, restaurants and golf carts

It was here we had our first taste of Mayan ruins with a visit to the archeological site of Tulum. This is known as the first lighthouse and the walled compound was one of the last strongholds of the traditional indigenous people during the Spanish conquest.

MOVING SOUTH

For the rest of our sail south we were very lucky to have Freda Rauscher’s cruising guide, as electronic and paper charts for the Yucatan peninsula and Belize are pretty useless.

Even so, coral does not stop growing, and we needed to be constantly vigil and time our entrances with the noon day sun overhead.

The highlight of this trip was the atolls. A ring of coral that surround groups of tiny islands. There were three atolls and one circular island group along our way south. We just could not resist stopping at them all.

Blanco Chinchorro Atoll, Mexico

 

BELIZE

 

pict - view out to reef through trees on atoll

It was at these atolls that we finally got to do some diving.

This is the type of diving we thought only possible in the Pacific.

picture - nice coral

Unfortunately the approach of unsettled weather and the start of hurricane season meant we had to get moving. We had two choices. Head south to Panama, out of the hurricane track, or head inland, up the sheltered waters of the Rio Dulce river of Guatemala.

[mappress mapid=”412″]

We opted to go up the Rio Dulce for the summer. We heard that the fruits and vegetables plentiful and cheap, but most of all, the best Mayan ruins in Central America are at your doorstep.

And they were right on both accounts!

GUATEMALA

The canyon entry into the Rio Dulce river is stunning.

It gives you a good entry to the incredible natural beauty of this river so aptly named ‘sweet water’.

There is a lot to explore along the banks of this long river that opens up into two lakes, and we and many other cruisers, felt perfectly safe anchoring up along the way.

The true pearls of Guatemala are inland. Guatemala City is fun, Antigua historic, Lake Atitlan stunning and Tikal awesome. And that is just the big name destinations. We found travel, accommodations and food quite economical, and from here, you can explore Central America as far as your budget can take you.

Antigua
Lake Atatlan-nice view over
Lake Atitlan
Tikal

We did not get ‘that far’ at first. We hung back most of the summer season to work on projects on the boat. Labour is so cheap here, we even splurged and had some fiberglass work done on the decks.

Deck-crew preparing the decks

The fellow cruisers and the social activities in the ‘Marina’ district of the river kept us busy between jobs. Acquaintances we made along the way quickly became good friends.

Terisa, Richard, Jane

All work and no play makes Cain and April very boring. Luckily friends from England came over to set us straight. Steve and Helen landed in Guatemala with the wheels turning and whisked us off on a mad week of sight-seeing.

A-local bazzar

It was incredibly fun…..well except the minor fender bender, right at the Marina, that took 3 hours to sort out? That is Central America for you!  All’s well that ends well.

Kangaroo-Rio Dulce

We thought we were off to meet family in Roatan, Honduras, for Christmas and the New Year when disaster struck. Cain got ill. This time he did it in style and needed surgery to clear an offal cause of Amebic Dysentery from his system.

Cain in bed

He was much too weak at first to do any travelling, so we were very fortunate that family travelled to us instead. We had a great family reunion for the holidays and lots of great adventures together in between.

P1010691

Just do not mention the bus trip back from Tikal!

P1010845

Now everyone is going or gone and Cain is regaining his strength.

So we are off too. Our plans have not changed much, but perhaps they we will move a little slower.

Image result for San Blas Islands map images

We will follow the chain of offshore islands south and probably end up in the San Blas Islands of Panama for a while.

Everyone would like to visit us there, as a yacht is the only way. One brave friend, Steve, has already booked his ticket for March to Panama City.

We will head up to Bocas del Toro, Panama, to lift the boat at some time, but other than that we have no plans for the next year. You will just have to check in and see what we get up to.

It makes a change for us.

We hope desert islands, swimming, snorkeling and good fishing fill our future days this year.

 

16 Cain and April at coconut tree

Before I sign off I want to send out a very special thank you to our family and friends, you know who you are. We could not be out doing this without your love, support and helping hands.

We wish you and your families HEALTH, HAPPINESS AND LOVE in the coming year.

CIMG1812

Fair winds everyone!


Happy New Year Everyone!  2015

Cain and April at the Full Moon Party, Beef Island, BVIs

Cain and April at the Full Moon Party, Beef Island, BVIs

Where did another year go?  It all seemed to have happened too quickly.

Where do I start?

Well I guess at the beginning.  We decided to head up to the United States for Hurricane Season this year rather than Grenada.

[mappress mapid=”235″]

Jacksonville Landing, Jacksonville, Florida, USA

Jacksonville Landing, Jacksonville, Florida, USA

We knew we would miss familiar faces, activities and Carnival, but the boat needed to be lifted out and we needed to find a better dingy and stock back up on spares.  So we worked our way north through the Eastern Caribbean up into the Bahamas.

Green Cove Springs, Florida, USA

Green Cove Springs, Florida, USA for the summer

As we moved north through the Caribbean we found that the beaches greatly improved.

Outside beach, Jolly Harbour, Antigua

Outside beach, Jolly Harbour, Antigua

No more black volcanic sand or pebbles.  We seriously experienced picture perfect coral powder.

White Bay, BVIs

White Bay, BVIs

With the exception of Puerto Rico.

Cain at the worlds largest Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico

Cain at the worlds largest Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico

The rest of the islands changed from richly forested volcanic peaks to lower lying limestone.

The low lying limestone islands that dominate our northern Caribbean route. Plana Cay, Bahamas

The low lying limestone islands that dominate our northern Caribbean route. Plana Cay, Bahamas

With the limestone came sink holes, blue holes, blow holes, tidal pools and caverns to explore as ground water and the sea eroded these islands away into intricate shapes and tunnels.

Bat Cave, Rock Sound, Eleuthera, Bahamas

Bat Cave, Rock Sound, Eleuthera, Bahamas

Hatchet Bay Caves, Eleuthera, Bahamas

Hatchet Bay Caves, Eleuthera, Bahamas

 

The Amazing Caverns in Puerto Rico

The Amazing Caverns in Puerto Rico

The clarity of the water improved as we moved north and we experienced some fabulous snorkeling and diving.

Mayaguana, Bahamas

Mayaguana, Bahamas

Snorkeling off Sandy Cay, Abacos, Bahamas

Snorkeling off Sandy Cay, Abacos, Bahamas

Also our fishing luck finally changed a long with our foraging skills.

Maha Maha caught just north of Cat Island, Bahamas

Maha Maha caught just north of Cat Island, Bahamas

Lobster caught on the north side of Wax Cay Cut, Exumas, Bahamas

Lobster caught on the north side of Wax Cay Cut, Exumas, Bahamas

But the best part of this year has to be family and friends.  We were so fortunate this year to make new friends and see so much of the family.

Aoife and Tim from Waimangu in the Harbour fort in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Aoife and Tim from Waimangu in the Harbour fort in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Jake and Sarah from Prospero. Manjack Cay, Abacos, Bahamas

Jake and Sarah from Prospero. Manjack Cay, Abacos, Bahamas

Ed and Cathy from What If. St.Augustine, Florida, USA.

Ed and Cathy from What If. St.Augustine, Florida, USA.

We even made a few 'land loving' friends. Jay and Charlene, Green Cove Springs, Florida, USA

We even made a few ‘land loving’ friends. Jay and Charlene, Green Cove Springs, Florida, USA

Cain’s parents were so adventurous sailing through the British Virgin Islands with us for 3 weeks.  Especially when Patsy is terrified of open water.  She was a real trouper.  We were very lucky to have them visit us again this year.

Jimmy and Patsy in Cane Gardens Bay, Tortola, BVIs

Jimmy and Patsy in Cane Gardens Bay, Tortola, BVIs

April’s sister and family came out and spent some time with us in the American Virgin Islands.  The whole family really got into fish identification and underwater photography along with foraging for food.  Their enthusiasm and laughter was sorely missed when they left.

Shannon, Connor, Kim and Andy after Cain dragged them on a hill side hike on St.Johns, USVIs. And they are still smiling!

Shannon, Connor, Kim and Andy after Cain dragged them on a hill side hike on St.Johns, USVIs. And they are still smiling!

April’s brother and family came to visit us in Florida twice.  We could not believe what incredible swimmers both the kids were.  Although this was a ‘taster’ and they stayed land based, I am sure we will have them off sailing with us soon.

Mary, Mike, Ashley and Liam.

Mary, Mike, Ashley and Liam.  Ortega Landing Marina, Jacksonville, Florida, USA

Then we had to split up…over the dog.  April stayed behind to mind the dog and work on the boat while Cain headed home to England to see the rest of the family and celebrate his dad’s 80th birthday.  His sister and kids were ecstatic to see him and spend some time with him.

Joseph, Sea Squid (Thomas), Niamh and James. Cornwall, UK.

Joseph, Sea Squid (Thomas), Niamh and James. Cornwall, UK.

Dad's 80th Birthday Party

Dad’s 80th Birthday Party

I would say April did nothing but work on the boat while Cain was away, but I would be lying.  For guess who showed up unannounced.  Who else then the famous Auntie Helen.  The girls whisked around the area during the day and relaxed to a BBQ and backgammon most nights.

What is life with out a few surprises.

What is life with out a few surprises.

Then came a long hot summer of both of us working hard on the boat.  Now that we were in ‘the land of plenty’ we could get anything we needed.  And we did.  We spent far too much time and money on the boat and in the end we had to leave to avoid buying anything else.

Can we fit anything else on this boat. Green Cove Springs, Florida, USA

Can we fit anything else on this boat. Green Cove Springs, Florida, USA

So it was Christmas and New Years in the Bahamas.  Back to the easy life.

Port and Crackers in the sunshine. Hoffman Cay, Berry Islands, Bahamas

Port and Crackers. Hoffman Cay, Berry Islands, Bahamas

Although family and friends were the highlight of this year, there were some great adventures we went on.

Finding that sink hole in the middle of the scrubland of Barbuda was incredible.

Barbuda sink hole

The full moon party at Beef Island, BVIs just cannot be beat.

Full Moon Party crowd on the beach

Do not forget that crazy beach at the end of an airport runway in Sint Martin.

Plane over Sint Martaan beach

The BVI’s  surprised us with the boulder labyrinth on Virgin Gorda and some great diving.

The Baths, Virgin Gorda, BVIs

The Baths, Virgin Gorda, BVIs

 

Pelican Island, BVIs

Pelican Island, BVIs

 

The Wreck of the Rhone, Salt Island, BVIs

The Wreck of the Rhone, Salt Island, BVIs

 

The snorkeling on the north west side of St.Johns, in the USVIs, was only made better because we were able to do it with family.

Connor Snorkelling in Watermellon Cay, St.Johns, USVIs

Connor Snorkelling in Watermellon Cay, St.Johns, USVIs

And we cannot rave enough about the Bahamas.  This cruising ground is bigger than the whole Eastern Caribbean and it beats it hands down.  Incredible beaches, blue holes, snorkeling and fishing are just a few of its assets.

[mappress mapid=”236″]

Great Guana Cay, Abacos, Bahamas

Great Guana Cay, Abacos, Bahamas

 

Anchored all alone off Plana Cay, Bahamas

Anchored all alone off Plana Cay, Bahamas

And, although it is on the Americans door step, we have been able to have many anchorages to ourselves.

Egg Island, Bahamas

Egg Island, Bahamas

We have found some great caves, tidal pools and blow holes that are barely mentioned  in passing in any tour books.  We are making our way down the ‘busiest’ part of the Exumas and we can still find space all our own.

Blue hole. Hoffman Cay, Berry Islands, Bahamas

Blue hole. Hoffman Cay, Berry Islands, Bahamas

Did I mention the good fishing?

Cero caught off Landrail Point, Crooked Island, Bahamas

Cero caught off Landrail Point, Crooked Island, Bahamas

Plans for the New Year.

Well this year looks like a year of friends.  We have Roy coming from England to visit us in the Bahamas for January and Steve and Shen also coming out from England to visit us in Cuba in March.  Then I suppose we will wander over to the Western Caribbean and Central America.  Visit the reefs off Belize and the Mayan ruins in Guatemala.  We will probably end up in the River Rio Dulce, Guatemala for Hurricane Season or head south to the Sand Blas Islands, we are still undecided.

[mappress mapid=”237″]

I guess we will see how the winds blow, because we all know that is what drives this boat and moves us on to new and exciting adventures.  We are glad that we can bring you along with us.

Brewers Bay, Tortola, BVIs

Brewers Bay, Tortola, BVIs

Happy Sailing through life to you all.

 

 

 

Happy New Year Everyone!  2014

Quinn your author

Quinn your author

Can you believe another year has passed.

A lot has happened in a year.  We have crossed the Atlantic and spent our first season in the Caribbean.

If fact we left England from Falmouth Harbour and are now in Falmouth Harbour, Antigua for New Years.

I thought I would share with you some of the highlights of the past year.

 

Of course it all started with the human’s deciding to drag me clear across the Atlantic.

Our back up navigation aid

Our back up navigation aid.  We left Gran Canaria on the 27th of January 2013

I had to get my 'sea legs' pretty fast, but at least I have '4 wheel drive' and more stable then most humans aboard.

I had to get my ‘sea legs’ pretty fast, but at least I have ‘4 wheel drive’ and more stable than most humans aboard.

 

 

The crossing was not uneventful.

The human's caught me some dinners

The human’s caught me some dinners

Don't forget the 'MAD' Mid-Atlantic Rift 'dip' during a lull in the winds.

Don’t forget the ‘MAD’ Mid-Atlantic Rift ‘dip’ during a lull in the winds.

But the highlight was the visit by Whales and Dolphins.

 

 

I was very pleased, after 21 days at sea, to finally make landfall in Martinique.

We are in the Caribbean 'Man'!

We are in the Caribbean ‘Man’! (Martinique)

Depaz-distance to Canary Islands

The Atlantic Crossing was an incredible feat, but we now hoped to have many adventures in the Caribbean.

 

The first thing the humans had to learn was to SLOW DOWN and enjoy the sunsets.

It is a different speed of life out here

It is a different speed of life out here

The next thing, if you are on a budget, is to learn about the local fruits and vegetables.

Market stalls selling the local fruits and vegitables

Market stalls selling the local fruits and vegetables

 

If you are on a budget, and you enjoy a SUNDOWNER, learning about the local rums helps.

If you are on a budget, and you enjoy a SUNDOWNER, learning about the local rums helps.

 

They then had to get used to finding safe places to anchor

The humans then had to get used to finding safe places to anchor (The Saintes)

 

And how to deal with other boat users that were not as careful with their anchoring

And how to deal with other boat users that were not as careful with their anchoring (Martinique-and yes he was French)

On our travels we got to visit some lovely quiet islands (Mayreau, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines)

On our travels we got to visit some lovely quiet islands (Mayreau, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines)

Some lovely touristy islands (Bequia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines)

Some lovely touristy islands (Bequia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines)

And a couple of places that were perhaps not the safest stops (Saint Vincent, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines)

And a couple of places that were perhaps not the safest stops (Saint Vincent, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines)

But though it all we were lucky to have family and friends to share it with.

Every ones words of encouragement kept us going and keeping up with ‘The Blog’.

We even had a few visitor fly out.

Nana and Granddad visited me in Saint Lucia

Nana and Granddad visited me in Saint Lucia

And Auntie Helen and Uncle Steve filled their luggage with loads of spares from England when they came out to visit us in Grenada

And Auntie Helen and Uncle Steve filled their luggage with loads of spares from England when they came out to visit us in Grenada

We feel very fortunate to have been able to experience the wonders of the South Eastern Caribbean.

The Culture

The Culture (Grenada)

The music (Antigua)

The music (Antigua)

The history (Antigua)

The history (Antigua)

 

Our favourite moments have been getting lost on new adventures (Dominica)

Our favourite moments have been getting lost on new adventures (Dominica)

Discovering the wonders the Caribbean has to offer above and below the water (Grenada)

Discovering the wonders the Caribbean has to offer above and below the water (Grenada)

We have been lucky enough to meet like minded cruisers along the way to share some of these thing with.

We have been lucky enough to meet like-minded cruisers along the way to share some of these thing with. (Grenada)

Who says hanging out in on one island for Hurricane season is boring. (Grenada)

Who says hanging out in on one island for Hurricane season is boring. (Grenada)

One of the hardest things, is saying goodbye to friends you make along the way, that are heading off towards 'a different sun set'. (Grenada)

One of the hardest things, is saying goodbye to friends you make along the way, that are heading off towards ‘a different sun set’. (Grenada)

 

But with the new sailing season just getting started, there should be lots more adventures ahead. (Passage to The Saintes)

But with the new sailing season just getting started, there should be lots more adventures ahead. (Passage to The Saintes)

Lots more 'once in a life time' experiences (Leatherback turtle laying eggs in Grenada)

Lots more ‘once in a life time’ experiences (Leatherback turtle laying eggs in Grenada)

And we will do our best to keep up and blog and share them with you (Famous Indian River, Dominica)

And we will do our best to keep up and blog and share them with you (Famous Indian River, Dominica)

 

So, with that in mind, I wish you all the best for the New Year and hope you know you are always in our thoughts.

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *