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April 29, 2006

Leverick Bay, Virgin Gorda
It has been an interesting trip back. We got a late start from Rodney Bay having finally pulled off the dock at the marina on the 21st, filled up with fuel at the boatyard and anchored back in Rodney Bay for our last night in St. Lucia.

April 21, 2006
Sue while cleaning the boat to get ready to go had thrown one of the dock lines into the lazarette and the line hit the spring holding the lid up. Unfortunately for Sue she had her big toe under the lid. Nothing broken but her toenail is seriously ugly and it looks like it will come off for sure. At the time her biggest fear was that we would have to lance it to relieve the pressure.

That night in the bay we found we had a stowaway. A very large moth about four inches long joined us for drinks on the aft deck and we sat around enjoying our last night in St. Lucia for awhile. Our plan was to leave early on the 22 nd and sail hard to the north end of Martinique at St. Pierre. Since we had heard some radio reports of thefts from boats in Dominica we wanted to get to the north end of Martinique so we could sail past Dominica to the Saintes just south of Guadeloupe in one day.
N14 04.855 W60 57.525

April 22, 2006
The weather and sea were very cooperative as we arrived in St. Pierre with plenty of light and dropped anchor near some other travelers. While the bay seemed rather open and exposed the swell was non-existent. Given that the last time we were near a volcano it erupted, we were a bit apprehensive anchoring right below Montagne Pelee that last erupted in 1932.

Mt. Pelee erupted on the morning of May 8, 1902 followed within hours by the eruption of La Soufriere on St. Vincent to the south, which last erupted in 1979. The Mayor of St. Pierre disregarded the warnings as he did not want to disrupt business with an evacuation, and everything and everybody was gone that morning, 30,000 souls gone with one survivor, a prisoner in the town jail. You can still bits and pieces of buildings that were built on top of the ruins. The volcano is beautiful, but you know there is no reason it cannot kick up again at any time. As the man says, “where you gonna go when the volcano blow”.
N14 44.570 W61 11.387

April 23, 2006
Rising pretty early we made a very fast trip north just west of Dominica and surprisingly we had good wind the whole way. As we cleared the north end of Dominica we were treated to a nice 30 knots to 35 knots of steady easterly wind that literally had us flying all the way to the Saintes south of Guadeloupe. We found us a nice spot to drop anchor in 35 feet of water just off the ferry dock on Terre-de-Haut at Bourg, and then spent the next couple of hours trying to keep charter boats from anchoring too close. We seem to draw folks to use who also seem to be inexperienced in anchoring and invariably they get real close or even swing into us. Today we had a large cat try to drop their anchor right on top of ours, which of course would not work. Fortunately they were English speaking and knew exactly what I meant when I yelled they were on our anchor, and politely moved forward about 50’ or so.

We did not leave the boat as our plan was to sleep in the next morning and make a casual trip to the north of Guadeloupe for the next evening’s anchorage. The Saintes although quite crowded looked like it might be a nice place to spend a few days of exploring, maybe on the way down island this winter.
N15 52.055 W61 35.047

April 24, 2006
We slept in, had some breakfast and leisurely headed towards Deshaies at the northwest end of Guadeloupe. It was an interesting trip between the Saintes and Guadeloupe and there was quite a bit of sailboats out and about.

There was not a lot of wind and we had to motor sail for almost all of the last half of the trip. It was only a 40 mile trip so we arrived in Deshaies early afternoon and found us a nice place to anchor a bit away from the village and docks so it would be quiet. We meet some people on another boat that had there boat at Grenada Marine as did we after Ivan hit in 2004.

Not certain that there is a lot to do onshore and have been told by another cruiser to not bother, although while we were there a lot of people were going to and from shore so who knows.

We have a big day planned for tomorrow, over 85 miles to Nevis so we had a nice dinner and go to bed early.
N16 18.468 W61 47.861

April 25, 2006
It turned into a beautiful day, had some wind so we sailed most of the way. As we were going by Montserrat the volcano blew again, it is an almost daily occurrence since March.

As we approached Nevis we lost the wind so fired up the engine and started looking for a place to drop the hook for the night. The cruising guide had mentioned a couple of places on the western coast but they were either full or unprotected from the swell. We came around the north end and found a spot that was fairly sheltered and anchored just outside some mooring balls. There were a couple of restaurants we could see but they appeared to be closed. This side of Nevis did not seem to have a lot going on and I am uncertain about the other.

We have a relatively short sail tomorrow up the east side of St. Kitts and cross the channel to the west side of St. Eustatia (Statia). The anchorage was very quite and calm so we had a great evening and good nights rest.
N17 11.977 W62 36.743

April 26 -27, 2006
Leaving Nevis we approached some very interesting looking anchorages on the south side of St. Kitts and will probably explore them next season on the way down island.

We had some wind but not quite enough so we motorsailed up the east coast of Nevis. It really is a beautiful island and there is a new resort we could see, maybe a Marriott. We had a nice visit here on the way down and will certainly stop, perhaps for a day or two next season.

Once we cleared the north end of St. Kitts we picked up a bit more wind and were able to turn off the engine but it was still going to take about six hours for the day, anchor to anchor. We saw a large pod of dolphin here earlier in the year and were hoping to see them again but no such luck.

Approaching the south end of Statia is a rather dramatic rock like wall and a large plain right beside it, very impressive looking from the sea. As we rounded the southwest corner we started seeing some signs of people, harbors and such plus a couple of large tankers in the distance. We pulled into Oranjestad and started looking for a good mooring ball close in. The cruising guide had warned us about a strong swell from the south or south-southeast and we were hoping to avoid that since our experience in St. Kitt earlier in the year.
N17 28.797 W62 59.330

We tied up to a second row ball and immediately noticed the swell, it was rather large on the forward starboard quarter and had the boat rolling severely almost right away. We got the dinghy down and I took the second anchor from the bow about 100’ to the left and rear of the boat and we pulled the stern around so the bow was into the swell. Later in the evening the swell had moved more to the west so I had to reset the anchor again but it never really did quiet down and we rolled pretty good all night.

After getting all hooked up we went to the commercial dock and checked in, pretty easy and pretty nice people, seemed glad to have us around. We took a walk all along the coast of Oranjebaai to look for somewhere to get some food but everything was closed. This bay had been a huge commercial area in the 1700’s as the Dutch were neutral so they traded with everyone, sort of like a transportation hub. At one time the entire shore had been lined with huge warehouses and shops for servicing the various ships and crews.

April 27, 2006
Today Statia is once again a huge transhipment hub for oil products and thusly they do not seem to worry much about money from any other sources including tourism. We had decided to come here because the diving is supposed to be the best. Sues’ toe had gotten quite nasty since we left St. Lucia so she was not going to be able to dive and I did not want to go without her. We spent the day exploring the city up on the bluff and it was really quite neat, good museum, nice fort and interesting shops. We had a great burger and fries for lunch which is hard to find in the islands.

After getting back to the boat we noticed the roll was much worse and we could not get the bow around into it so we decided that we would just pull up around 9:00 pm and head south to Virgin Gorda since the first nights sleep was not that great and no diving. I decided to get the stern anchor up in the daylight and was glad I did since it had become severely snagged on some old line, maybe an old mooring line. It was so badly stuck I had to go get a tank of air and dive it to get the hook free.

We were sitting there watching all of this tanker ship traffic and Sue suggested we go ahead and leave then while we could clearly see these giant vessels.

So began another overnight passage of about 105 miles. As we were leaving we looked up onto the hills of Statia and were amazed at the number of oil type tanks covering about 1/3 of the island. No wonder there was no charge for stopping or mooring there, they probably have tons of cash from this industry.

We sailed just east of Saba, another Dutch island that is also said to have spectacular diving. Statia and Saba are said to be the best in the eastern Caribbean and we will be diving both if possible next season. It was about 9:00 pm as we motorsailed by Saba and the island was quite well lit. I told Sue I was going to go below and wake me at midnight and I would take us on into Virgin Gorda. That was not to happen, I woke about 0730 the next morning with Virgin Gorda right in front of us, Sue had sailed the whole night alone, with only the company of a book and a cruise ship that kept shadowing us. That’s my Suzy, quite the little sailing lady.

April 28, 2006
We pulled into North Sound around 9:00 am, 420 miles after leaving St. Lucia and picked up a ball near Leverick to sort of settle in. Later in the day after naps and cleaning up the boat we took a cab into Spanish Town and checked in.
N18 29.915 W64 22.753

It really was quite a neat trip back and given that I had a full nights sleep I was quite happy and rested as well. Sue looked okay but moved a little slow while in Spanish Town.

We stopped by VGYH to check out their hurricane pits as this was possibly going to be our fall back place to haul the boat for the summer if we did not like Puerto del Rey near Fajardo. We met some nice cruisers who I cannot remember their names now at lunch and talked about circumnavigating the Caribbean next season as they had done it before.

Hope you enjoy the pictures.

























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