Final leg to Florida – day 4, WE MADE IT

Our position at 12.00 Sunday 30th April
26 45.4N
080 02.59W

We are anchored in Lake Worth, Florida. WE MADE IT TO AMERICA.

Our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 today was 158 miles giving an average of 6.5kts,

Once Bill got up yesterday we put a poled out genny with a reefed main up and were sailing well. The wind picked up, as forecast, and we were making a really good speed. By 6pm the wind had increased to F5 and Bill decided we needed another reef in the main. The procedure went well until as we were turning back on course Bill’s hat flew off the binnacle and landed in the water. As he didn’t want to lose it we used the occasion for man over board practise. We were coming back round for it when a shark appeared to have a sniff of it? It’s fin could be clearly seen but fortunately he decided not to eat it – lucky it wasn’t one of us!! After the third attempt I got it with the boat hook and lifted it back on board, the shark had disappeared. Maybe we need more practise.

During the night we passed Freeport in the Bahamas where there were about half a dozen ships just loitering. According to their AIS signal they were traveling between 1 and 2 kts but they didn’t appear to be moving. I came to the conclusion they were just drifting because it was too deep to anchor and maybe there wasn’t room in the harbour for them. It was unnerving sailing passed them knowing they were adrift. One of them was only a mile or so away. With a preventer on the main and a poled out genny we couldn’t change course, luckily none of them got in our way.

I went to bed late last night because I wanted to watch our trip log click over another 10,000 miles, which it did at 2am. We have now traveled 60,000 miles since leaving the UK.

This morning when I got up the seas were very lumpy. We were in the gulf stream with a 2 to 3kt current. To get into Palm beach we were ferry gliding. Our COG was 280 and our heading was 230 degrees that’s a whopping 50 degrees of set.

When Bill went back to bed after I got up I took the opportunity of finishing my book. Missing by Susan Lewis. Not sure if anyone has read it but I sobbed through the last dozen pages, what emotion, what an amazing and talented woman she is. I think it’s been made into a film but the book is incredibly well written. If you get the chance do read it but be careful you won’t be able to put it down and have the tissues ready.

The engine went on at 11.30 as we attempted to get into the channel. The current eased off as we got into shallow waters. We wound the genny in as we were approaching and once inside were able to turn back into the wind to drop the main. We had arrived with 25kts of wind from the south along with the current side swiping us. It was a tricky entrance. Luckily once inside everything calmed down and we continued to Lake Worth to anchor.

Meanwhile I was still trying to establish who I needed to contact to check in. I had called the US coastguard at 12 miles off shore but they weren’t interested and suggested calling the CBP and gave me a phone number. As it was a toll free number it wouldn’t work with the Sat phone. So Bill called them back and was given the same information ‘just go and anchor, you don’t have to worry about checking in until you dock’. The new number they gave us went onto answer phone. Once anchored we dropped the dinghy and motored a couple of miles to the nearest marina to ask them. Apparently CBP are closed on sundays and if we go alongside tomorrow we can use their phone to call customs and they will come down to the dock to check us in. Very kind of them although the marina was $2 a foot a night or we might have gone in this afternoon but not at that price. I tell you we’ve visited a lot of western counties as well as third world countries but haven’t experienced such difficulty getting someone to check us in before. If you’re a terrorist buy a yacht and arrive in the US on a Sunday, no one will be interested in you.

The 606 mile journey from South Caicos took us 4 days and 2 hours or 98 hours giving us an average of 6.1kts

We left from Simonstown at the beginning of the year and have traveled 7200 nautical miles in 15 weeks with a few stops on the way. All the doubting Thomas’s, (no one in particular) me included, who thought we wouldn’t do it, well we’re here. Although we have probably missed some places on the way we’ve got the next few years to spend exploring the area.

Once we’ve checked in tomorrow we’ll get sorted with phones and internet. Meanwhile we still have 45 miles to travel up the ICW to Harbortown marina, which can be done over the next day or two and I have a birthday on Tuesday. The first one I’ve spent on our own for years. No friends around this year. 😦 It will be different next year in the UK. 🙂

All well on board.

The blog goes through to facebook but we can’t see facebook or your comments. I look forward to catching up with them all when we get to the US. If you wish to email us please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (take out the gaps)

The Final leg to Florida – day 3

Our position at 10.00 Saturday 29th April
25 48.1N
077 14.4W

Our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 today was 170 miles giving an average of 7kts, that includes at least 1kt of current with us

We have 160 miles to go to West Palm beach, Florida

As you can see from our 24 hour run we are traveling much faster now. The wind has increased and the current outside the islands is good. We have a full main and genny out with the wind a nice steady F4 just aft of the beam. Couldn’t ask for better. The sea is up a bit from yesterday but quite manageable.

Having had a bad night the night before with the rolly sea my afternoon nap turned into a 4 hour sleep. I must have needed it although it’s unusual for me to sleep like that on passage. I’m still quite tense something is going to go wrong but as we get closer to America I’m feeling a bit better. When I woke up Bill informed me I had missed a thunder storm and he had all the computers, etc. in the Faraday’s cage he’s made. Fortunately it passed us by without incident.

The new moon put in an appearance last night but only briefly, it was gone by 10pm.

During the night we sailed up the coast of Eleuthera island but at 3.00 this morning I had to get up to help Bill jibe the sails as we turned west to travel along the south side of Great Abaco Island which will take us towards West Palm Beach, Florida.

Our plan is to make landfall at West Palm beach which, according to the CBP (customs and border protection) website is a check in port. Not sure what to expect but we’ll call port control as we enter American waters and take it from there. Should be lunchtime tomorrow hopefully so one more night at sea.

Even though we are 25 degrees north now the days are still pleasantly warm and I only have to add a fleece to my shorts and tee shirt for my night watch. We are still on the same latitude as North Africa.

For dinner I used our last portion of chicken and added an onion, the last half of a green pepper, some frozen vegetables, an egg, some cooked rice and some sweet chili sauce. In our family it’s called a ‘heap’ although there are various variations of it.

All well on board.

The blog goes through to facebook but we can’t see facebook or your comments. I look forward to catching up with them all when we get to the US. If you wish to email us please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (take out the gaps)

The final leg to Florida – day 2

Our position at 10.00 Friday 28th April
24 16.2N
074 55.6W

Our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 today was 127 miles giving an average of 5.2kts

We have 331 miles to go to West Palm beach, Florida

The forecast had been for light winds so we were pleased to be able to sail quite a bit of yesterday although the sails were up and down and the engine on and off with our average speed reflecting that.
During the night we passed 23 north which is the Tropic of Cancer so that means we are out of the tropics for the rest of the year now.
We are sailing along the outside of the Bahamas and have started picking up some current which is helping our speed.
During the night we sailed in between San Salvador and Rum cay, which meant going over a sea mount and the depth of the water went from 4600 to 1107 over the space of a few miles. Obviously not a problem with the depth but it gave us a lumpy old sea making sleep difficult. We could have gone around the outside of San Salvador but didn’t want to put in the extra miles. A bit of info for those coming along behind us.

For dinner I used our last portion of stir fry beef from SA and made a stir fry with onion, peppers and carrots with sweet chilli and soy sauce over it on a bed of noodles.

All well on board.

The blog goes through to facebook but we can’t see facebook or your comments. I look forward to catching up with them all when we get to the US. If you wish to email us please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (take out the gaps)

The final leg to Florida

Our position at 10.00 Thursday 27th April
22 52.2N
073 04.6W

Our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 today was 138 miles giving an average of 5.75kts

We have 452 miles to go to West Palm beach, Florida

On a course of 303 degrees with 8-12kts of apparent wind straight up our behind; perfect twizzle weather. Bill nearly put the second foresail up before we left but changed his mind, it’s too difficult to do at sea. We have a full main out on a preventer on the port side and a poled out genny on the starboard side. Every now and again the wind gets behind the sail and flicks it causing it to slam.

We had a good day yesterday sailing all day which was unexpected. The forecast was for light winds and we were expecting to motor sail but we’ve kept up a good speed since leaving the anchorage. During the night the wind strengthened a bit and the sails didn’t slam but this morning the wind has dropped a bit and we’re back to the occasional flicking.

A bit of excitement during the night, it’s always in the middle of the night. I went off watch at 01.00 and had just got into bed when I heard an unusual bang followed by Bill calling me. I came back on deck to see the pole down with the sail flapping. I put the deck lights on so Bill could go and investigate. The pole is attached to a slider on the mast. The sail had flipped up with the roll and a gust of wind at the same time that had allowed the pole to drop down the slider, knocking off the retaining block and shattered the pulley at the bottom, there were plastic bits all over the deck. We rolled the genny away and fortunately Bill was able to lift the pole back into place and re-secure it, job done. While the genny was away Bill decided we needed a reef in the main so we put that in then brought out the genny again. Finally I got to bed. Bill kindly let me have an extra half hour this morning.

The food situation is limited again on Camomile. I did some shopping in the Caribbean but didn’t buy too much because I won’t be allowed to take meat, dairy, fruit or veg into the States. According to the CBP website they inspect the boat and take away any fresh food you have on board like they did in Australia and New Zealand so I’ve run the freezer right down. I just have enough for this passage. As we are going home in 2 weeks time there’s no point in having a load of stuff on board that will go off any way. I’ll restock when we come back. So last night I fried a bit of bacon, cooked some ribbon pasta, drained it and added some cream, an egg yolk, parmesan and black pepper and it became a pasta carbonara.

There’s a small crisis on Camomile at the moment because I’ve run out of my Cappucino sachets. I do like my coffee at 11.00 and always manage to have supplies on board but I’ve only got one left which I’m saving for my birthday in case something happens and we’re still out here. It’s kind of an insurance, if I don’t drink it we’ll get there and I didn’t need to save it, if I drink it…..

All well on board.

The blog goes through to facebook but we can’t see facebook or your comments. I look forward to catching up with them all when we get to the US. If you wish to email us please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (take out the gaps)

The final leg to Florida

Our position at 10.00 Wednesday 26th April
21 29.47N
071 32310W
Anchored in C ockburn harbour, South Caicos

573 miles to West Palm beach, Florida.

Just lifting the anchor to leave South Caicos. We’ve been here less than 24 hours but decided to come here yesterday from Grand Turk.

Grand Turk was interesting for a stop off and check in but the island revolves around the Carnival Cruise liner jetty that Carnival built for their cruise liners to stop at on their way to and from America and the Caribbean islands. A lot of the beautiful colonial homes on the sea front have been allowed to full into disrepair. One row back and the ‘new’ part of the island just looks like the States with brand new homes built with cruise liner money but of no interest to the tourist. Along the waterfront there are some nice hotels that have a few guests but many of them appeared empty. The anchorage was beautiful with the most stunning clear aquamarine water but not much snorkeling. Every day the local boats brought cruise liner passengers to snorkel the same spot behind us but all that was there were a few rocks that were deep and some fish. There is a ‘wall’ which would make for an interesting dive but that was all. We had 3 days there mainly to sit out a front that looked pretty nasty on the grib files but didn’t turn out so bad, although wouldn’t have wanted to be at sea in it. By Monday afternoon it had gone – taking all the good wind with it but leaving a beautiful blue sky.

Yesterday we decided to come across to South Caicos to check out and have a look at it. Amazingly we had a really good sail when there wasn’t supposed to be any wind. Cockburn harbour was very calm. We didn’t arrive until 4pm and decided it was too late to check out so went for a swim instead. The harbour is very shallow and we were anchored with a metre below the keel in superb clear water. Amusingly Bill stood on the sea bed holding onto the rudder but I didn’t have my camera with me. Lots of Conch shells here and one or two of them moving. Unfortunately as it’s a local delicacy most of them were empty.

We took the dinghy exploring and motored over to Long Cay that only inhabitants are Iguana. On the beach there were more Conch shells, 100s of them actually, some of them were forming part of the beach, all of them have a slit just below the third twirl which is how they must kill them. Sad but there seemed plenty around. I managed to find one nice looking one that I sneaked into the dinghy. There were so many they wouldn’t miss one.

This morning we went ashore to the wonderful old colonial customs building that used to be the commissioners office many years ago. The customs lady said the building had been there all of hers and her mothers life. The Check out took about 5 minutes, very easy, and we didn’t need to go back to Immigration but just hand her our departure cards. There wasn’t a lot of time but we took a little walk. The streets were deserted and completely different without the cruise liner trade. It was a very friendly place and worth a return trip next year.

So this is the final push to Florida. All being well it should take about 4 or 5 days. We are due to arrive on the 1st but if we get some wind it might be the 30th. I don’t mind as long as we get there safely. This time in 2 weeks time we’ll be landing at Heathrow but I have a birthday in between, hopefully not spent at sea.

Please pray for us or keep your fingers crossed whichever you believe in.

All well on board.

The blog goes through to facebook but we can’t see facebook or your comments. I look forward to catching up with them all when we get to the US. If you wish to email us please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (take out the gaps)

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to everyone. No church or Easter eggs here 😦

Last day in the BVI’s today. It’s beautiful here but very expensive. Most of the bays have got buoys in them at $30 a night with no facilities so it takes a while to find a spot to anchor. Eating out is way beyond our budget, even a burger and chips is about $15 and I don’t even like burger and chips!

Moving onto Grand Turk in Turks and Caicos tomorrow, if the wind plays the game, so no internet or facebook for a few days. Only a 3 day passage and it puts us nearer to Florida. Still on schedule.

Have a great day everyone.

Bill and Sue x

The blog goes through to facebook but we can’t see facebook or your comments. I’ll catch up with them all in America. If you wish to email us please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (take out the gaps) Stay safe everyone.

Antigua to St Martin

Our position at 10.00 Wednesday 5th April
17 35.8N
062 34.7W
40 miles to St Martin

Had a great few days in Antigua. Met up with 3 lots of friends. Gabby and Jonathan on Aqualuna, thanks for a fantastic evening and delicious meal you two, hope to see you further north. Tom and Susie, thought you had got rid of us… we found you again. Good to see you for the last time or is it….. Then we took Camomile around to Jolly harbour to check out and there sitting in the restaurant were Bob and Elaine of Pipistrelle what were the odds of that?!!

English harbour was very pretty as always but we were amazed at how the prices of everything have changed in 7/8 years. We were getting 4EC$ to the pound when we were here before now it’s down to 3EC$ to the pound. The restaurants were way over our budget but the hot spot cafe on the dockside in English harbour was good value and had good coffee and light meals with free internet AND a book swap! I had a good shuffle around of my read books with theirs and now have some good ones to read.

We spent a day in Falmouth harbour. Probably a better anchorage with more room although not so pretty. Met up with our friends then round to Jolly harbour yesterday to check out. They have a great supermarket there selling Waitrose foods. The customs/immigration were very helpful.

Jolly harbour was quite significant for us because we arrived there to check into Antigua exactly 7 years and 4 months ago with the Blue Water rally. We’ve only been south from there, so from now on it’s all new territory that we haven’t visited before.

We left Jolly harbour at 03.30 this morning for the sail to St Martin to meet up with more friends, Ian and Glenda on Lucy Alice. So far it’s been a great day, we have a nice gentle F4 on the beam with full sails on a calm sea. We are sailing passed St Barts but we’ll visit these islands again in the next year or two. We need to start heading north now.

I’ll post more photos when I get back on line, just relying on free wifi at the moment until we get to America.

Take care everyone. x

Martinique

Bill enjoying his cigar

Bill raises the French flag

We had a nice first evening in the anchorage just chilling out. Bill enjoyed his end of passage cigar. It was one of three that James had given him for Christmas; he had saved it. The next morning he raised the French courtesy flag before we headed into the marina. There’s a big Club Med complex on the beach that looked nice.

Club Med on the beach

A ship carrying the yachts.

On the way into the marina this ship was anchored outside.  I’m going to get in trouble for this but it’s a bit cheating, isn’t it? It’s probably taking them back to the UK or maybe Europe.

Getting into our berth was a bit of a struggle because they have Med mooring here which means you need 2 long lines tied to the bow and 2 on the stern.  As Bill backed into position I handed the bow lines to the guy in the marina work boat who tied them to 2 buoys.  Meanwhile he was pushing our bow into position as Bill was reversing.  Fortunately Ken and Eiloo were waiting on the pontoon ready to catch our aft lines.  The dinghy got in the way so Ken managed to lower it on the pontoon as Bill released the davits. Luckily there aren’t any photos of this because it was all a bit difficult but once tied up we could all have hugs and congratulate each other on our passages.

Camomile has goose barnacles on both sides from the long passage

Camomile has a very dirty waterline from sailing for so long.  We went up to the office to check-in, a very simple procedure. Why can’t all check-ins be like the French? It was nice to be on dry land again after a month at sea. Strangely I don’t experience the swaying that many people do when they get off their boat. We headed to a bar for a coffee, arrr civilisation again.  I had a look around the local supermarket and bought a few things but wanted to wait to do a proper shop at the bigger store. The afternoon  was spent scrubbing the decks to get all the salt off.  It was great to be able to use the water again, there had been water restrictions in South Africa. In the evening we joined Ken and Eiloo and their son Kenneth and his girlfriend Dasher for a meal.

Raining in paradise

Brilliant launderette

The next morning we awoke to rain – had I needed to wash the decks???? I hit the laundry.  Not having been able to do any washing since SA there was a lot of it. They have a great laundry here with big machines that take 14kgs! During the day I had 2 of those going plus a smaller 11kgs and a couple of driers so everything was washed including mattress and pillow covers, towels, t-shirts, the lot. I’m left with a pile of ironing now. Yes I do.

While I was busy doing that Bill had the dinghy upside down, scrubbed off and found 3 small holes in it (it has to be pumped up every day).  I arranged through the office for the local dinghy repair man to come and pick it up that afternoon and take it away for repair.

Tuesday Bill got the bikes out and we went to visit the dinghy in ‘ospital, all was progressing well. There were lots of other dinghies in the same ward so T bag was happy. The big Carrefour was our next mission but we couldn’t carry a lot in our back packs so we returned the next day for a second shop and also to visit the chandlers to see what they had to offer.  Tom and Susie arrived on Adina in the afternoon and it was arranged to share their hire car for a day trip around the island.

Pretty fishing harbour

Fish for sale

Thursday 23rd we joined Tom and Susie at 9.30 and Tom drove off over the hills. The first stop was a local fishing village called Le Vauclin.   The stalls on the beach were displaying some delicious looking fish but as it would have to spend the day in a hot car we decided against buying any. I think these were parrot fish although they weren’t colourful like parrot fish normally are.

Beautiful scenery

The ruins of the house

After a little walk around we got back in the car and drove to the presqu’île de la Caravelle which is a 12 kilometre peninsular on the Eastern coast of the island that protrudes into the Atlantic ocean. Fields of sugar cane with wonderful views of the ocean surrounded the access road. We made our way to the tip of the peninsular and walked the track that led to the remains of Château Dubuc built in 1740. I was so happy I love looking around places like that; Tom had chosen the prefect spot as far as I was concerned.

What a beautiful view the house would have had.

The inside. You can see where the floor was.

 

 

 

The ruins were very well kept and we were each given a laminated plan of the ruins with a sort of pen that gave an audio guide as you placed it on each of the points on the plan. The accent was a bit difficult to understand but it was really helpful in explaining the area.

The old kitchen

 

 

 

These photos are taken of the remains of the main house.  This was the old kitchen. The bread oven can be seen in the bottom right side of the picture.

 

 

 

 

 

Tom and Susie walking down to the next section.

 

 

 

Bill stood by the cahots

Inside the ‘cell’

These are said to be cahots, small solitary confinement cells for the slaves that would have worked there or maybe storage for the sugar cane; I prefer to think they were the later. As you can see Bill wouldn’t have been able to stand up inside them.   Just to the left of the entrance you can see a small slit in the brickwork that was for air and a small amount of light to get in. It doesn’t bare thinking about the stories those walls can tell.

The sugar cane factory ruins

 

 

To the left of this photo is where it all started. They have created a model of how the process was performed. The sugar cane would have been pressed in between the rollers as either donkeys or slaves would have walked around in circles to turn the rollers. The sugar cane syrup would have dripped down through a hole in the ground, along a chute and into the cauldrons behind the furnaces to the right of the photo.

Furnaces

 

 

This was the furnace area. There would have been 4 furnaces pushing their smoke into the chimney. The remains of the chimney shown would have been much taller.

 

The caldrons

 

 

 

 

Behind the furnace were the cauldrons used to boil the sugar cane syrup to form the molasses, the start of the process for producing rum. It takes 10 to 12 tonnes of cane to produce half a bottle of pure alcohol.

 

The warehouse ruins

 

 

 

 

This is the remains of the warehouse area that contained the barrels of molasses.   The production continued up to 1793. Life for the slaves working on plantations like this was one of unimaginable barbarity. There were many uprisings and after the revolution of 1817 many slaves were given their freedom. By 1852 the descendants of Dubec sold the plantation to a nearby distillery and the chateau fell into ruin. It was restored in 2004.

Driving across the top of the peninsular

The St James Distillery museum

We had a delicious lunch in the village of Tartane then continued onto the St James rum distillery in the village of Sainte Marie. The delightful old colonial house contains a very interesting museum on the history of Agricultural rum, of which St James’s rum is one, and is produced from pure sugar cane juice as opposed to industrial rum manufactured from Molasses, the residue from the sugar industry.

The building was beautiful inside

Sampling the rum

During February to June, during production, the distillery is open for tours but only at 10.00 and 11.45 so unfortunately we were too late, (for any one coming along behind us).   It was still possible to have a tasting so various rums were tasted and bought.

Susie and I enjoying a pineapple juice

 

 

As we were three quarters of the way up the island we all agreed to drive onto Grand’Rivière a jewel of a fishing village at the northern tip of the island. It was a thrilling drive of hair pin bends, overgrown hillsides and bridges suspended over gorges. The road ended at a black sand beach overlooking the gap between Martinique and Dominica where Susie and I enjoyed a freshly pressed pineapple juice before the long drive back to Le Marin.

Tom and Susie

 

 

It was wonderful to spend time with these two who recently got engaged in South Africa (so the conversation was mostly about weddings). We met them in Rebak last Christmas and have sailed with them on and off during this last year. Tom calls me his sailing Mum and I call him The Cheeky Monkey!

Thanks for a great day Tom and Susie.

Bill rowed T bag back to the boat

Friday morning I cycled the road that encircles Marin for some exercise and spent the day on my computer writing. In the afternoon T bag the dinghy came back on a trailer and the guy helped Bill put it in the water. Unfortunately he put it in the wrong side of the pontoon walkway and to get back to the boat Bill had to row all around the outside of two pontoons full of boats.   I had a cold drink ready for him when he got back. Bill spent the rest of the afternoon putting his coat back on and the outboard etc.

Putting his coat back on.

In the evening we met Tom and Susie along with Ken and his son.  Nadire and Selim from the Turkish boat Keyif joined us and we all had a farewell drink together.  After saying goodbye to Keyif the rest of us went to the Mango bay for a meal, their Friday night ribs special were delicious.

Sadly at the end of the evening it was goodbye to everyone because we are all going our separate ways from now on; goodbye to another group of cruising friends.

Sue, Susie, Bill, Tom, Ken and Kenneth

Camomile continues North

Diamond Rock

Our position at 10.00 (16.00 UTC) Sunday 26th March
14 26N
061 02W
We have just passed the beautiful Rocher du Diamant (Diamond Rock)

We left Le Marin marina yesterday and anchored off of St Annes last night, as we did last Saturday. Having had a week in the marina we felt refreshed again. I was in the middle of posting a blog on Martinique when I ran out of internet so it will have to wait until we get back on line again. No facebook again for a while so if you’ve messaged me I’m not ignoring you. 🙂

The dinghy came back from ‘ospital and we had no reason to stay any longer. We had a great time catching up and saying goodbye to another set of cruising friends. Life long friendships have been made again. So on to pastures new, new friends and hopefully some old ones.

Crews of Antares, Keyif and Adina

Last thought for today. We’ve seen lots of flying fish on passage and around the island. Quiz question for you – is it a shoal of flying fish or a flock of flying fish??? I actually don’t know so you’ll have to google it and tell me.

Be good. XX

South Africa to the Caribbean – day 57 we made it.

This is the same blog but I’ve added some photos.

Our position at 16.30(19.30 GMT) Saturday 18th March was
14 26.39N
060 53.38W
The anchor is down, thank God, literally as we’ve arrived safely in Martinique after completing our circumnavigation.

Our last 30 hours was fairly uneventful except for the mini drama of nearly using the Hydrovane rudder. Bill had noticed the steering was behaving oddly on his night watch and put the autohelm on. In the daylight he looked over the stern to see the Hydrovane rudder looking bent. We hove to (stopped the boat) to look at it and discovered the pin clipping it into position had broken. Fortunately Bill always ties it on as well so we hadn’t lost the rudder. It was brought back on board and was a passenger for the rest of the journey. Incredibly Bill doesn’t have a spare, he had already used it, so we’ll have to get one along the way. That was our only breakage on the whole trip which is pretty incredible considering the miles we have covered.

Barbados in the distance

We continued to sail through the day although the wind started dropped in the afternoon and we motored for 2 hours because we (I) didn’t want to slow down, until it picked up again. Barbados came into view about 4pm as we sailed past the north coast with the lights from the resorts twinkling in the dusk. I watched a cruise liner leave Barbados on the AIS and was SOOOO tempted to call them up and ask for a lift! I ate my last 4 squares of chocolate during my last night watch.

I awoke to 100% cloud cover and a line of squalls matching across the skyline. Bill went back to bed for his second sleep while I sat in the cockpit with the umbrella up because it was also raining. The wind disappeared so the engine was on again. The cloud and mist continued through the morning and Martinique was hiding behind it. St Lucia appeared about 8am, which is the island south of us, and Martinique about 8.20, but disappeared again. When Bill got up I made pancakes for our last breakfast at sea because we seem to have missed pancake day while we’ve been out here.

Camomile right on the line

I started to come out of my chrysalis like a butterfly and began to sing again, I haven’t been singing for a while and although Bill says it’s nice to hear me singing again I think he’s just being kind because he prefers it to the silence! As we were about an hour away from our finishing line the sun appeared along with a pod of spinner dolphins jumping out of the Caribbean blue sea to welcome us. The wind started to blow and the engine went off. As Martinique emerged from the cloud we were quite close and able to see the lovely houses built into it’s verdant green hills. As we’ve already written we crossed ‘the line’ at 1.30pm Bill and I hugged each other with me in tears and Bill pretty close. It’s just amazes me we actually managed to do it.

Turning Camomile back to Le Marin, Martinique

We turned Camomile back towards the marina and had to motor quite hard against the wind to get there. Even though it was only 4pm when we got to the channel we decided not to go into the marina but anchor in the bay in front of St Annes for the first night to ‘wind down’ slowly from the journey. Once we go into the marina my feet won’t touch the ground with washing, cleaning, shopping, etc.

Heading into the anchorage

 

 

 

Once anchored I felt an enormous sense of relief that we were safe and could relax. We spent a short time sorting out the boat then the bottle of bubbles came out. We didn’t have posh Boli like someone we know (!) but a nice South African sparkling wine that was very nice along with some cool white wine too. I had intended cooking lemon chicken and apple crumble but I put some Pringles and cheese and biscuits out to have with our drink and dinner got forgotten.

The celebrations begin

I spoke to Sara on Norsa for the last time on the net (the SSB doesn’t work very well in the marina) and said an emotional farewell, they have another 7 or 8 days out there but they aren’t coming in our direction. Not sure when we’ll see them again – the down side of cruising. 😦
So to sum up the journey we left Simonstown 9 weeks ago and spent 3 days in Cape town before leaving on 19th January. The journey from Cape Town to here was 5634 miles altogether but we stopped in St Helena for 2 weeks and 2 days. The passage just from St Helena to here was 3857 miles that took 27 days 9 hours or 657 hours giving us an average speed of 5.8kts which isn’t bad considering we’ve had anything from 3kts to over 8kts along the way. It has become our longest passage and, as I’ve already said, it won’t be beaten. Of those 657 hours the engine was only on for 77 hours, half of those were for charging the batteries when the day was cloudy. The solar panels and wind generator kept the batteries going for the rest of the time.

So we go into the marina later today for 5 or 6 days then we will start to make our way north to complete the rest of the 1500 miles or so to get us to Florida. We’ve got 6 weeks or so to do it which, hopefully, will be enough time. The plan is Martinique this week
Antigua next week
St Martin first week in April
BVIs second week in April
Sail to Turks and Caicos third week in April
Sail the last 700 miles or so to Florida (on the inside route) during the last week in April If there’s anyone on that route that we know we would love to meet up.

All well on board.

The blog goes through to facebook but we can’t see facebook or your comments. I’ll catch up with them all in the Caribbean. If you wish to email us please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (take out the gaps) Stay safe everyone.

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