Category Archives: Coastal cruising

Maryland

Pretty house built around a lighthouse

Monday 2nd October there was no wind as usual so we motored south. We had a day in hand so decided to stop in Magothy bay overnight and dropped our anchor just after 5pm. The waypoint was

39°04.916N

076°27.623W

There were the usual ‘cottages’ around the water’s edge. One of them was set on an island and built around a lighthouse. I can’t imagine it ever being used for navigation that far inside the bay but it looked pretty.

Tuesday 3rd, after taking my turn on the OCC net on the SSB radio, we got underway again.

Big double bridge crossing right over the Chesapeake

This bridge is one of the few possible ways of crossing the Chesapeake from Maryland to Delaware. It was enormous and disappeared off towards the horizon.

Approaching Crab creek

It was a shame we didn’t have more time to explore the bay but October was heavily planned with events and our holiday. I had contacted an OCC member and asked if we could leave Camomile on the jetty at the end of her garden, as advertised on the OCC website. It’s an amazing feature the OCC offer and well worth the membership fee. The marinas in the U.S. are way beyond our budget at over $100 a day. Gemma’s place is just south of Annapolis in Crab creek.

One of Gemma’s neighbours

The jetty is just across from the boathouse on the left of the photo.

There were several other OCC boats anchored in the creek as Gemma allows them to use her jetty to tie up their dinghies.

The jetty is at

38°57.522N

076°31.811W

Gemma is the port officer for Annapolis and her contact details are on the OCC website if you are members.

Bill tying Camomile securely to the jetty.

Screenshot of our position on the chart

The OCC end of season dinner

Gemma moved to the U.S. from the Netherlands many years ago. It was very generous of her to allow us to use her jetty, we were very grateful. It was so nice to be able to  step ashore. Gemma’s house is set up a steep bank which we walked up to look for the supermarket to buy a few supplies.

Wednesday 4th was the day of the OCC US east coast end of season dinner. Gemma and other OCC members did a wonderful job of arranging lifts for everyone. It was nice to dress up for a change.  Some of the cruisers we had met on the Maine rally in August were there along with Dick and Moira from the Westerly called Equinox.  It was nice to see them again.

The lady speaker

Dinner was chicken Cesar salad and a very nice tortellini in a creamy sauce with prawns followed by some chocolate dipped thingys. It was all delicious.

The speaker was a lady from the Chesapeake bay program who spoke about their restoration of the bay and the control of the environment protection they are undertaking.

 

 

Visiting the Annapolis boat show

 

Thursday 5th I spent a very frustrating day trying to book a car for our holiday and kept hitting brick walls! The problem in the U.S. is that everyone carries their own insurance but as we don’t we would have to take out the car hire’s CDW (they insist). This would only cover the hire car if any one hit us or if we damaged it so we needed a second insurance that was a third party insurance that would cover us if we damaged anyone else’s car or, more importantly, them.  I spent all day trying to find cheaper options but gave up in frustration.

The Annapolis boat show

Bill next to the Gin tent – the equivalent of the Guinness tent

Friday 6th again the OCC members arranged for the cruisers to be picked up and taken to the boat show. The Annapolis boat show is almost as big as the Southampton boat show but is divided into two shows, sailboats the first weekend then there’s a 2 day change around with the motor boat show the following weekend.  It was great to see some old friends. We were just standing by the Gin tent when who should wander by but Jason of YOLO and Karen. Haven’t seen them since Malaysia. There were also a number of new friends recently made.

 

Meeting Jimmy Cornell

It was nice to speak to some old friends on the supplier stands. We finally met the guy who organised our new Staylok fittings when we had our rig failure on the way to the Galapagos. Also Will Curry was on the Hydrovane stand. We almost helped him with a sale by telling his client how good our Hydrovane was and how we wouldn’t be without it. Will had a guest on his stand later in the afternoon and that was Jimmy Cornell.  We last met Jimmy at the Cruising Association in London many years ago when he had inspired us to go sailing. It was great to meet him again.

Bill on Solstice

Jake and Jackie of Hokule’a

After the boat show we made our way to Solstice in the marina for the reunion we had been looking forward to. Bill on Solstice had invited our lovely friends Jake and Jackie of Hokule’a, now based in California, to stay with him, also Jack and Zdenka of Kite drove down from Portland where we met in the summer. Neil and Ruth had Rutea across the way and were invited and Behan of Totem joined us later in the evening. It was wonderful to all be together again and catch up on everyone’s news.

Ruth, Zdenka, Jackie and Sue

On Saturday 7th I looked at the hire car situation again including working out if it would be cheaper to fly to Boston and hire a car from there but it was more expensive. I looked at trains but they were also expensive plus public transport isn’t so regular in the States. Buses aren’t so good either so eventually I booked a car at a cost of $25 a day plus over $40 a day for the 2 insurances. Crazy!

Sunday 8th I spent the day cleaning the boat and packing and getting excited.

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October is here.

The blog has got very behind so I’ll try to bring it up to date and maybe fill in the gaps later.

Sailing under the Brooklyn bridge.

I’m going to divide our Land trip into states.

After dodging several hurricanes in September we finally started heading south at the end of the month. It was fun travelling through the East river into Manhattan and sailing passed the statue of Liberty again.

NEW JERSEY

The statue of Liberty

Our last glipse of New York city in the distance.

It’s possible to anchor behind the Liberty but it was a bit rolly so we carried on south to Sandy hook and anchored behind the breakwater next to our friends Ruth and Neil on Rutea. We all went for a nice meal at a Thai restaurant that Neal had found in the town. We anchored at

40°25.095N

074°01.308W

The next morning the 1st October we set sail for the overnight trip to the Delaware river taking one last glimpse of New York.

Early morning fog just starting to clear.

We had fairly strong winds on the passage south overnight but as it was a northerly it wasn’t uncomfortable. We arrived at the entrance to Delaware bay at 8am, just as the tide was turning against us.  At the same time we had to turn up into the wind. Not nice. We decided to go into cape Henlopen to wait for the tide to turn anchoring at

38°47.7N

075°06.2W

Just after midday we started off again with Toodle oo and the Australian Amel Perigee. It had been worth waiting for the tide because it carried us all the way to the C&D (Chesapeake and Delaware) canal plus, just as we arrived at the canal entrance, the tide turned in our favour again. We continued until midnight when the tide was going to turn against us and went into a tiny anchorage about three quarters of the way along the canal with Perigee. The waypoint is

Perigee behind us.

39°31.551N

075°48.455W

The entrance was shallow but once inside it was good. We arrived just in time because the fog was coming down and was still there in the morning.

Monday 2nd October we continued along the C&D canal emerging into the Chesapeake at 11am. We were starting to see the autumn leaves and we were now in Maryland.

 

A bridge over the C&D canal

Beautiful house on the waters edge

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaves just starting to turn

 

June Update

This is also very late but here is the June update. I hope it isn’t too boring but I put the waypoints in for my yachtie friends.

Lovely fountains near the apartment

We arrived safely back in Florida and Kate had very kindly booked an apartment for us all to stay in for 3 nights. Bill and I had wanted to get back to the boat to start getting it prepared to head north but I was quite ill when we got back and the rest in the apartment was very welcome. I had had a nasty cold for several weeks in the UK and added to the jetlag combined with the heat I wasn’t improving. I retained my cold right through June, just couldn’t shake it off. The apartment was in a nice area with the Disney parks a short bus ride away but at $105 ++ per person we didn’t visit them.

 

One of the pools

 

There was a nice pool and gym which Kate and Mark enjoyed while I rested in the air conditioning for the first day but joined them the next day. Again the most convenient way to get back to the boat with all our luggage was hire a one-way car, a shiny red Dodge. Sorry forgot to take a photo.  After travelling three sides of a square because I’m rubbish with GPS (give me a map any day) we were eventually on our way. We stopped at a mall on the way back but it was fairly uninspiring.

 

 

The car didn’t have to go back until the next day so we made use of it to stock up the boat with food and wine to take back to the boat.  This is a boring photo of the local supermarket car park but look at the size of the cars! More about them later.

Harbourtown marina has a nice little pool which Kate and Mark enjoyed while I sorted the boat out. It easier on my own. When we had left on the 9th May it was a nice temperature but now after 3 weeks away the temperature had soared and the pool was the only place to cool down.

Happy birthday Kate

 

Sunday 4th was Kate’s birthday and I had a nice salad lunch with a cake to celebrate.

There was a double celebration that day because our Blue Water rally friends Peter and Margie drove up from Miami to join us for lunch. They had brought bubbles for the double celebration.  We had a great time chatting to them not having seen them since 2011 in NZ at Kate’s house so lots to catch up on.

Bill, Sue, Margie and Peter

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ICW is lined with these huge houses

 

Finally on Tuesday 6th we got going.  Unfortunately there was a thunderstorm brewing and I didn’t want to go on the outside. We were already late and didn’t want to wait another day so travelled up the ICW instead. Once we passed through the opening Fort Pierce north bridge we were committed and couldn’t go back.  As the wind was coming from the south Bill pulled the headsail out and we sailed slowly up the waterway. Most of the Florida section is lined with these huge homesteads that are obscene in their size.  At first we thought they were hotels or apartments but then we realised they were 1 house.

Day boats

 

 

Most of them have their own jetties with various types of boats on them.  These are very popular and potter up and down the waterways. I would think they have a fairly shallow draft so don’t have to keep within the channel.

 

 

Irritating stink pots

 

Unfortunately there are also a lot of these. Just look at the wash this was kicking up. The owners have a total disregard for anyone else on the waterways. There are ‘no wash’ signs everywhere but they ignore them.

 

 

 

 

It’s shallow outside of the channel

 

It’s really important to keep with in the channel, a few feet out of it is very shallow as you can see from these boys just able to step out of their vessel.

We found a nice little anchorage for the night just north of the Eau Gallie fixed bridge. For my yachties friends the waypoint is

28°08.11N

080°37.343W

The next day we were off again and sailed with just the genny again. Mark enjoyed taking a turn on the helm. By lunchtime the wind had gone and it started to rain. The decision was made to go into a marina. Oddly enough it was also called Harbourtown marina.  It was in the Canaveral Barge canal at

28°24.51N

080°40.757W

At $104 for 2 nights, which, for a transient berth, was a bargain for America.  We stayed 2 nights enabling us to visit the Kennedy Space centre at Cape Canaveral, which was just a taxi ride away. If you come to Florida forget the Disney parks, do the Kennedy Space center we had a great time there.

The rocket garden

Bill had a sit in a rocket.

 

The day started off sunny and we explored the Rocket garden but the clouds built up and brought the rain later in the day. Your ticket includes a guided bus tour of the launch sites and we were able to get quite close to them although you have to stay on the bus.

This is the huge crawler that carries the space rocket from the hanger where it’s assembled to the launch pad at a really fast 1 mile an hour.

 

The crawler base

This is one of the launch pads.  You can see the crawler tracks.

This is one of the launch pads.  You can see the crawler tracks.

 

The bus stops on the Cape Canaveral island at further exhibition halls. This was a simulator for a rocket launch and these screens were showing an actual launch. I have a video of the whole thing. The floor was shaking and it was very loud, it was really exciting. It would be fantastic to witness an actual launch.

 

Rocket launch simulator

Part of the simulator

The Saturn V

 

The main hall had a really Saturn V on display.  Bill was very excited to see it.

There were lots of smaller exhibits to see before getting back on the bus to go back to the main site.

The space shuttle

 

 

One of the main exhibits on that side contained an actual space shuttle. We all queued for the Shuttle Launch Simulator, which was fun. We all laughed while trying to speak as our voices were all shaking with the simulated speed.

This is an actual space shuttle not a model.

The space shuttle

 

 

Everything was very well presented and I would recommend it.  Back to the marina to cool off in their pool and put some washing on.

 

 

Our selfie. haha

Following English boat through the open bridge.

The next day Friday 9th we discussed going outside again, there’s an inlet at the end of the Canaveral canal, but there was no wind and it was quite a long way out so we continued up the ICW.

More bridges.

More beautiful houses but the ICW was as boring as it looks. The water was filthy and Camomile was starting to get a dirty mark around her waterline.

More big houses

Titusville bridge

We traveled just 4 hours that day and stopped at Titusville to give our guests a chance to go ashore. We anchored just south of the bridge at

28°37.170N

080°47.928W

During the evening a band set up by a bar under the bridge and they played some really nice music. Kate and I were dancing around the deck all evening. Unfortunately the next day we discovered another blight of the ICW.  As the screens hadn’t been in, the boat was full of mosquitoes and we were all covered in bites, except Mark, they didn’t seem to like him!

Kate and Mark had decided to spend the last few days of their holiday back in a hotel in Orlando; I think the air conditioning was calling because it was very hot on board and the ICW is fairly uninspiring.

Daytona beach south

Saturday 10th no wind. Bill and I got up at 6.00, lifted the anchor and got going.  It was 38 miles to Daytona beach where Kate and Mark were leaving us so we decided to get there as soon as possible so they could enjoy the beach. I found another small marina that just had a little space for Camomile at

29°09.272N

080°58.541W

It was called 7 Seas marina and was very friendly. No pool but washing machines and showers for $93.09 for 2 nights. It was just outside Daytona and the beach was a short walk away.

Daytona beach north

Daytona beach bills itself as ‘The World’s Most Famous Beach’. It’s the birthplace of NASCAR, which started in 1947. Its origins go back as far as 1902 to drag races held on the beach’s hard packed sand. We were a bit further south than the actual Daytona beach but it all looks the same. It was a beautiful beach. Kate and Mark went off to explore. When Bill and I got down to the beach it reminded us a bit of the Gold coast in Australia.

This was our first and only time on the beach on the East coast south of Virginia. There aren’t any suitable anchorages along the coast. The inlets were quite bouncy until you were well inside the ICW. Most of the anchorages in the ICW are fronted by beautiful houses but nowhere to land among the private docks. We noted some public jetties but they were often full with local ‘day’ boats and a fair walk to the beach. So Daytona was our one and only walk on the beach.

Mark with 2 breakfasts

Sunday 11th was their last day and Kate kindly treated us all to breakfast in Pat’s café.  Mark over ordered and managed to get two breakfasts but he still eat it all! The marina manager very kindly offered to give them a lift into town to catch their bus back to Orlando so we said our goodbyes and they left.

The next day the marina manager offered to take us to the supermarket, as we needed to restock the boat before we headed north, everyone was very friendly there. We left in the afternoon and motored south to anchor by the Ponce de Leon inlet ready for an early start in the morning. The anchorage was at

29°03.671N

080°55.890W

I’m not sure I would recommend it because the anchorage was full of midges of some sort and in the morning we were both covered in bites, particularly Bill.  His chest was covered in little tiny red bites.

Time was pressing on. It was 13th June and we were still in Florida. Our insurance company had asked us to be north of 35° north before 1st June and we were still at 29°N.  On reflection we should have got Camomile much further north before going to the UK. Hurricane season had started and we weren’t covered for a named storm although hurricanes are very rare in June.  In fact it was the opposite there wasn’t any wind forecast; another reason I would recommend trying to get north early. We had been advised by friends who had sailed these shores on previous years ‘Go north quickly, come south slowly’ although it’s a bit late in the season that was our plan, to try to get north as quickly as possible.

St Augustine waterfront

That morning there was no wind but we left early and motored on the outside covering 62 miles to St Augustine. We arrived in the rain and tried 3 times to anchor but were told by a local there’s no holding and to pick up a buoy.  It was at

29°53.66N

081°18.55W

The next morning we decided to have a look at the town before we moved on but went to pay for the buoy first. It was $25 for the night plus we were informed we had to ‘check out’ by 11am, it was 10am. After complaining bitterly the harbour master relented and gave us until 1pm!

Juan Ponce de Leon

St Augustine was founded by the Spanish in 1565 and is the oldest permanent settlement in the US. Juan Ponce de Leon discovered it in 1513 and has his statue erected near where he stepped ashore.

The entrance of the big government building that dominates the town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beautiful Basilica

 

 

 

 

We wandered into the Cathedral Basilica and found a striking building inside. Some of the walls and woodwork had beautiful murals painted on them.

The interior was stunning

The altar was beautiful

 

 

The altar was sitting on a marble floor and had a centrepiece behind the altar covered in gold and surrounded by the organ pipes. Really stunning. It was also cool in there.

 

 

The main street

Quaint houses

 

We walked down the pedestrianised St Georges street. I felt it was on the edge of being Disneyfied but stopped just short of being a historic theme park because many of the buildings are original, if heavily restored.  After stopping for coffee we continued. Some of the buildings were very quaint.

The original school

Castello de Marcos

 

On the edge of town is the Castello de San Marcos, the country’s oldest masonry fort completed by the Spanish in 1695.  For many years it was the northernmost outpost of Spain’s vast New World empire.  It protected St Augustine from pirate raids and Spain’s major rival at the time, Great Britain.  The fortress is a hollow square with diamond shaped bastions at each corner with only one way in or out.

The bastions

 

 

Cannons in one bastion were positioned to create a deadly crossfire with those in two other bastions.  The fort’s commanding location on the west bank of the town allowed its guns to protect not only the harbour entrance but the ground to the north against a land attack.

Cannons lined the upper walls

 

 

In 1763, as an outcome of the Seven Years (French and Indian) War, Spain ceded Florida to Great Britain in return for Cuba. After the American Revolution Florida was returned to Spain until 1821 when Spain ceded Florida to the United States. Over the years it fell into disrepair until it came under the National Park service in 1935.

 

The sleeping quarters

 

 

St Augustine was a garrison town and no one lived inside the Castillo. The soldiers lived in town with their families and came to the fort to stand a rotating guard duty. They slept on these platforms and prepared their meals in this room.

 

The inner walls

Camomile on her buoy

Fascinating tour. These days it just looks out over a bunch of yachts including Camomile.

We returned to the dinghy at exactly 1pm and left the buoy motoring to the outer harbour to anchor by the lighthouse at

29°53.19N

081°17.06W a nice peaceful overnight stop.

 

The St Augustine waterfront

Back out through the inlet

Thursday 15th we left early and headed back out to sea. I noticed a ‘buddy’ on the AIS and discovered it was Solstice with Don and Phyllis on board. We haven’t seen them since St Helena.  After a quick chat on the vhf I discovered they were heading into Jacksonville.  It would have been nice to catch up with them but we had made the decision to push on.  We motored half the day and sailed half so a bit of an improvement.

Big factory in the entrance

 

 

At 7pm we dropped anchor at Fernandina beach (no where near the beach) right on the Florida/Georgia border. There was a fairly ugly factory of some description just inside the entrance to the harbour. It had huge piles of sawdust on the side and Bill said he thought they were making some sort of fibreboard.

 

Sad sight

 

We also passed a boat yard with a number of dead boats on the side, which were probably remnants of hurricane Matthew that went through here last year.  We had seen lots of broken boats in the shallows on our way up the ICW.  The anchor was dropped at

30°40.229N

081°28.110W    just behind the British boat with the French name Ile Jeudi (Thursday Island).  We had seen them on the water a couple of times.

We were ashore the next morning when we bumped into them, they were Bob and Lyn and we had a great chat over a coffee. Having left all our sailing friends in the Caribbean it was nice to make some new ones.

Beautiful church

 

The residents of Amelia Island, home to Fernandina Beach, are quick to tell you their town is just as old as St Augustine but unfortunately they can’t prove it. It certainly has the familiar historic theme park look. Everywhere we’ve been so far is so manicured, almost unreal it’s so clean and tidy without a blade of grass out of place. I guess we’re used to the scruffy island states of the Indian and Pacific oceans.

Beautifully kept properties

 

 

We followed the walking tour recommended by the tourist office but unfortunately it started to rain so we found a nice Pizza restaurant and stopped for lunch.

 

 

Traditional shop fronts

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interesting veranda

Shop selling Christmas trees in June

Later that afternoon I noticed this amusing shop. Were these the first Christmas decorations on sale in June?

Saturday 17th first thing in the morning we were off again. After motoring all morning the wind picked up in the afternoon and the engine was turned off. We decided to continue overnight as we had some decent wind for a change. It meant we would miss Savannah and the state of Georgia but we needed to keep going.  Ile Jeudi were sailing in front of us and decided to do the same.

Are these the biggest fenders you’ve seen?

Big houses on the Charleston waterfront

We dropped anchor in Charleston, South Carolina at lunchtime the next day. We were both tired and stayed on board. I think sailing for 1 night is worse than doing a week. You don’t get a chance to get into a routine.  Our waypoint was

32°46.555N

079°57.222

We had a couple of days in Charleston with a strong north wind blowing, which we couldn’t go out in. Typical, decent bit of wind and it’s on the nose.

Edmonston-Alston house

Monday 19th we went ashore with Bob and Lyn and had a nice lunch together. Charleston or Charles Towne, named for Charles II, was settled by English colonists on the Ashley river in 1670.  By 1740 it had become one of the busiest ports on the eastern seaboard, the centre of prosperous rice-growing and a trading colony built on the back of slavery. Charleston was a key trading centre for the slave industry and bustling slave auction houses clustered along the river.  In 1861 the first shots of the Civil war rang out at Fort Sumter that we had passed in the harbour entrance. After the war the labour intensive rice plantations became uneconomical without slave labour and the importance of the city went into decline.  The southern most tip of the peninsular has the bulk of the antebellum mansions and about a half a dozen of these majestic homes are open to the public. In the afternoon we looked around the town and visited the Edmonston-Alston house, which was beautifully restored but no photos allowed.

Everything’s big in America

 

 

Tuesday the wind was still blowing in the wrong direction so Bill and I went ashore again. Bill wanted his photo taken next to this monster, the bonnet was right up to his shoulders.

 

 

One of the grand paintings left

 

Continuing out tour of the town we visited the Aiken-Rhett house.  The only surviving example from the urban plantation times, it gives a fascination glimpse into antebellum life.  Constructed in 1820 for Gov and Mrs William Aiken it remained in the family for 142 years.  Many of the rooms were closed off for decades and it is being kept in a ‘preserved-as-found’ condition.

 

 

Love the windows

Would have been some lovely parties here once

 

 

 

The furniture and interior is unaltered since the mid 19th century.

 

 

The original slave quarters

Inside the slave quarters

 

 

The role of slaves is also preserved and it’s possible to wander through the dormitory quarters behind the house.

 

 

The old cooking range

 

 

 

This kitchen would have been used to cook meals for the entire family. They were very nervous of fire in those days and didn’t like it in the main house.

 

Joseph-Manigault house

The beautiful dining room

 

 

The Joseph Manigault house a few blocks away is a complete contrast. The three-story Federal style house was once the showpiece of a French Huguenot rice planter. The rooms open to the public were beautifully furnished.  The third floor is still a private residence.

 

For ladies that write letters

Beautiful fireplace

 

Beautiful hallway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing chandelier

 

 

 

Formal garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was a small neoclassical temple in the garden.

We were told there are some beautiful plantations outside of the town open to the public but you would need a car to get out to them. Maybe another day.

On the Wednesday Don and Phyllis arrived on Solstice so it was nice to catch up with them.

Thursday 22nd the wind dropped so we decided to leave along with Ile Jeudi and Solstice.  We motored in the morning but the wind picked up in the afternoon so we were able to sail. The intention was to go to Georgetown but it seemed a shame to stop as we had some wind so we continued. Ile Jeudi went into Georgetown but Solstice continued with us into the night. The engine went on at 10.30 the next morning and we motored into Southport, North Carolina. There was a storm coming and we needed to be in secure in a marina for a few days.

Bill – Solstice, Bill Neal and Ruth – Rutea

 

 

Then the confusion started. We were calling Solstice on the VHF when another Solstice answered – it was our old friend Bill who we hadn’t seen since 2014 in Malaysia, how cool was that. Added to that when we arrived at South Harbour Village marina Neal and Ruth on Rutea were there and we hadn’t seen them probably since 2013! It was great to catch up with them all on Rutea for drinks later.

The marina was at

33°55.11N (getting nearer to 35N)

078°02.90W

it cost $125.20 for 2 nights and had nice showers and a washing machine.  It was quite a way out of town but Bill had a car and drove the 5 of us to a nearby group of bars and restaurants where there was a good band playing.

Quaint church

Don and Phyllis on Solstice

The other Solstice had gone into a different marina (South Harbour only had 1 space free) but on Sunday 25th we left South Harbour and joined Don and Phyllis to continue our journey. The storm had gone through but the seas were still a bit rough so we decided to continue up the ICW again for the day and dropped anchor in Wrightsville at 3pm.  Our waypoint was

34°12.352N

077°48.003W

Motoring up the ICW

Solstice travelling behind us passing under the bridge

 

There had been no wind and we’d motored all the way. In the ICW all the fixed bridges 64ft, give or take a foot depending on the tide, if they are less than that they open.  Some will open on demand, some have timetables but ask the bridge operator.  The depth in the ICW in the channel is supposed to be about 10ft but Camomile draws 2 metres or 6 feet and has touched the bottom a couple of times but it’s only soft mud.

 

Wrightsville waterfront

West Marine store

Monday 26th we went ashore with Don and Phyllis in search of a supermarket and found a West Marine opposite. While we were out Rutea and Ile Jeudi arrived so we invited the 4 of them to join us and Don and Phyllis on board Camomile for a drink that evening. The interesting thing was the six of them didn’t know each other only us.  It was interesting introducing everyone and all had a great evening.

Beautiful evening

Ile Jeudi ahead of us

Tuesday 27th we joined Solstice and Ile Jeudi for the journey to Beaufort. We exited at the Masonboro inlet but again motored all of the way 70 miles; crazy.

It was late when we arrived at Beaufort but just got our anchor down as the sun dipped below the horizon at 8.30. That’s one of the advantages of heading north the evenings are drawing out. Solstice came in behind us.

Solstice and Camomile at anchor

 

 

 

Our waypoint was

34°42.886N

076°39.887W

 

 

An original routemaster

 

 

Wednesday 28th we went ashore and enjoyed walking around the town. I was very excited to see this London bus which is exactly the sort of bus my Dad used to drive many years ago. In the US it isn’t mandatory to have a front number plate so this bus was still displaying it’s original English number plate at the front. Also on the side it still had it’s bus number and destinations in London on display. The tourist company were using it for tours around the area.

Original sign

One of the oldest

 

 

This little house from 1778 is the oldest existing one in the village.  It looked very small compared to most of the other homes although Beaufort had some cute little places.

This one was my favourite, such a sweet little house.

Beautiful church

The whole town was very attractive and many houses already had their 4th July decorations on display. This was the beautiful village church.  One thing that struck us as we walked around Beaufort that, along with many of the coastal towns we’d visited, we didn’t see a single black face.  In Beaufort the only one we saw was a guy cutting someone’s lawn.  We had seen various groups of kids on summer school on our journey along the coast but not one non-white face. I’m not sure what that means but we found it slightly disturbing.

The next day Solstice and Ile Jeudi left for Oriental further up the ICW and that was the last we saw of them this year. We wanted to wait another day and make the final push over the 35° latitude before the end of the month around the outside.

Our dolphin escort

Friday 30th the winds were forecast to blow from the south. We motored back out through the Beaufort Inlet and had to motor 20 miles south around the cape lookout shoals before we were able to turn north and sailed the rest of the day with a dolphin escort. During the afternoon it was in a north east direction towards Cape Hatteras before turning north towards the Chesapeake bay.  Rutea and Bill on the other Solstice were also making the journey that day although they were about half a day behind us.  At 10pm we finally crossed the 35° line.  Cape Hatteras has a dreadful reputation in these parts and we weren’t disappointed. As we rounded the cape at 1am we were hit by a huge squall that completely overpowered the boat for about 10 minutes until Bill was able to regain control but that was in July…..

Finally sailing

South Africa to the Caribbean week 3 – Exploring St Helena

The beautiful cliffs on the approach to the mooring field.

The beautiful cliffs on the approach to the mooring field.

Discovered by the Portuguese in 1502 St Helena became a Dutch and then a British possession first under the East India company then the crown. Situated in the South Atlantic ocean it was a strategically important port of call during the British Empire until the opening of the Suez canal. It is now a British Overseas territory forming a dependency with Ascension island and Tristan da Cunha. The island’s remote location meant it was used as a place of exile for key prisoners including some 6000 Boers, Chief Dinizulu, Bahraini princes and of course Napoleon.

The cliffs behind us.

The cliffs behind us.

 

This is the view of the volcanic cliffs behind us.

A volcanic outcrop the island is a 47 sq mile and has sheer barren cliffs that are intersected with deep valleys, which slope steeply from the central ridges.

The main street in Jamestown

The main street in Jamestown

Jamestown, the capital of St Helena, was founded in 1659 when the English East India company built a fort and established a garrison at the site of James bay naming it after James II. The quintessential Georgian seaport consists of little more than a single street stretching for a mile inland nestling in a deep-sided volcanic valley. It retains a remarkable heritage with the likes of the Duke of Wellington, Captain Bligh, Charles Darwin, Captain Cook, as well as Napoleon, having walked its streets. Main Street has some of the best examples of Georgian architecture in the world. There are also a significant number of fortifications, remains, and historic buildings around the island.

One of the old quayside buildings

One of the old quayside buildings

The approach to the jetty

The approach to the jetty

Having arrived safely early on Thursday 2nd February we were keen to go ashore and explore. Once the customs had left us we packed up our bag to go ashore to see immigration. There is a very useful ferry service here to save you taking your dinghy ashore.   It’s only £2 return each. As we approached the jetty this is what we were faced with. There’s a lot of swell here and it would be impossible to land our own dinghy but the ferry boat is also quite difficult so to the yachties behind us be ready for this.

The little ferry boat

The little ferry boat

The customs building

The customs building

 

 

 

As you walk along the sea front you pass this beautifully restored customs building.

 

 

The entrance gates looking out

The entrance gates looking out

 

 

We continued towards the entrance to the town over the dry moat and through the arch doorway built in 1832.

 

The first building in front of you is the beautiful St James church the oldest Anglican church in the southern hemisphere dating from 1774. The steeple was added in 1843 but it looks very new so I think it’s recently been replaced again.

St James church

The little prison

The little prison

Next door is the prison, which apparently has some dozen or so prisoners. Then there’s the immigration centre where we had to produce our passports for our St Helena stamp and check in.

The entrance to Jacobs ladder

The entrance to Jacobs ladder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a glimpse of Jacobs ladder through the alley in between the immigration centre and the little museum – but that’s for another day.

 

 

The castle gardens with Anne's place at the back

The castle gardens with Anne’s place at the back

Opposite the church are the castle gardens where you will find Anne’s place, a local eatery popular with the locals as well as yachties. It’s one of the three places where it’s possible to get onto the Internet although it isn’t free. £3.30 for half an hour is probably the most expensive Internet we’ve used on our travels and it’s the same price throughout the town. We decided to have burger and chips as it isn’t the sort of food we usually eat on passage.

The fire escape

The fire escape

 

The fire escape was very quirky; there was a ladder leading back into the gardens on the outside.

Friday we stayed on board sorting out the boat.   Bill had some small jobs to do and I wanted to clean through after all the rolling around on passage. We had a heavy shower of rain, which washed all the salt off and saved me washing it.

Looking out to the anchorage in the evening

Looking out to the anchorage in the evening

 

 

 

Saturday we went ashore on the 4pm ferry to have a delicious pig roast at Anne’s place, which at £12 a head with all you can eat plus a doggy bag to take home was good value. It’s only once a month but to our friends behind us this is a great evening. We booked a late ferryboat at 8pm to take us back to the boat.

A good view of the town from Jacobs ladder

A good view of the town from Jacobs ladder

 

 

Sunday morning we decided to go to church, as it was the first C of E church we had seen in a long while. The vicar and the parishioners welcomed us. We had coffee afterwards while looking up at Jacobs ladder. As we didn’t have anything to rush back for we thought we’d attempt it in our Sunday best.

Wonderful view of St James church

Wonderful view of St James church

 

 

 

We didn’t race up and did 50 steps then stopped to look at the view, another 50 steps and took a photo, another 50 steps and had a drink and so on until we made it to the top.

Bill half way up

Bill half way up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'm not very good at taking selfies

I’m not very good at taking selfies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We made it to the top

We made it to the top

Panoramic shot from the top

Panoramic shot from the top

The view was magnificent. We had a good view of the supply ship RMS St Helena that had arrived with passengers, containers and supplies.

Remains of the old fort

Remains of the old fort

At the top were the remains of a Napoleonic fort built in 1873.

The old barracks were now derelict but some of the out buildings were being used by the local fire brigade to store their vehicles.

Fire brigade vehicles.

Fire brigade vehicles.

Old gun enplacements

Old gun enplacements

 

 

 

We walked further along and noticed some gun inplacements that were from either WW I or II.

Camomile on her buoy

Camomile on her buoy

The bottom of the cliffs below

The bottom of the cliffs below

 

Looking out over the edge gave us a superb view of Camomile in the mooring field. The rocks below us at the bottom of the cliffs didn’t look very friendly. There aren’t any beaches around St Helena.

The beautiful Georgian Main street

The beautiful Georgian Main street

 

 

We walked back to the look out by the steps and the town below looked like a model village but from that height it was possible to see the main street in all its Georgian glory.

The view down from the top

The view down from the top

 

 

 

Coming back down was harder than walking up because of the pounding your knees get. I was lowering myself down as carefully as I could.

 

 

Half way down

Half way down

I made it!

I made it!

 

It was a relief to get to the bottom of the 699 steps.

We walked back along the quay to the water ferry.   The whole area was a hive of activity with the unloading of the RMS St Helena taking place. Everything but everything on the island arrives on the ship including vehicles. The RMS has her own cranes and can lift her cargo onto a flotilla of flat bed barges, which may their way back and forth to the quay where a local crane is used to unload them.

Ready to lift

Ready to lift

We watched as a lorry was being unloaded. These set of photos make it look easy but there’s always a metre or two of swell running and the timing is critical.

 

 

Up it goes

Up it goes

Lowering the lorry onto the quay

Lowering the lorry onto the quay

As the barge dips down with the swell the crane started taking up the slack then as the barge came up the crane lifted the vehicle clear of the barge and kept going up over the sea wall and onto the quay. Very clever.

First sight of the whale sharks

First sight of the whale sharks

 

 

 

The highlight of our week was swimming with Whale sharks. We had arranged for Johnny who runs the ferry service to take us out on his big boat. We went with Martin and Elizabeth on Caduceus and a guide and that was it – so lucky. The ferry boat came alongside Camomile picked us up and transferred us to the bigger boat waiting just offshore for us and off we went. Within an hour the call went up there were whale sharks ahead. Two of them were basking on the surface. We had gone in our wetsuits all ready to get in the water.

So close

So close

As soon as we were alongside them we jumped in. The first thing that strikes you is their size, they are enormous at about 12 meters long – bigger than Camomile! Bill and I saw a third whale shark on its own so swam over to get a closer look.

Bill was so close

Bill was so close

I got an amazing video of Bill swimming underneath it but unfortunately I can’t upload in St Helena maybe in the Caribbean. We watched it for a while then it twisted and dived out of sight. We swam back to the boat to find a forth whale shark swimming nearby at an even bigger 14 metres. Karl the guide got a wonderful clear shot of Bill swimming above it. After about three quarters of an hour we got back on the boat, exhausted with amazement at what we had just seen, totally awesome!

Karl's photo of Bill

Karl’s photo of Bill

Amazing landscape

Amazing landscape

Johnny drove back along the coastline for us to get a good view of the construction of the island. It was possible to see the layers and layers of volcanic activity that took millions of years to form.

An old Napoleonic fort

An old Napoleonic fort

There were different colours in some areas.   There are also parts of a Napoleonic fort built into the cliffs and we could see a walkway had been carved out of the hill to take the soldiers back to Jamestown all those years ago.

An amazing day.

An amazing day.

St Lucia in the iSimangaliso wetland park.

Great excitement, we were going on a mini holiday. Having been in South Africa for 2 weeks and just spending it working on the boat, it was now time for some fun! Richards bay is only an hours drive from the wonderful game parks of Hluhluwe and iMfolozi and I had planned a safari trip.

The southern end of the iSimangaliso wetland park

The southern end of the iSimangaliso wetland park

Monday 7th November was a poignant date because it would have been my Dad’s 85th birthday but as I feel he’s traveling with me I was taking him to see the hippos at the iSimangaliso wetland park. A UNESCO world heritage site it stretches for 220 kms from the Mozambique border to the white iMfolozi river at the southern end. It’s bordered by the Indian ocean on its eastern side and the park protects five distinct ecosystems. St Lucia is the main settlement. We left Camomile first thing in the morning and were taken by taxi to the Richards bay airport to pick up a hire car. It’s only R100 by taxi and the airport was the cheapest place to hire a car here.

dscf0748

Bill standing beside one of the many warning signs

 

 

After a short trip to the mall to sort out a few bits we were on the road north. Our first night was to be spent in St Lucia, a pleasant village and a useful base for exploring the southern are of the park. We were too early to check into our accommodation so decided to have lunch at the ski boat club restaurant that had been recommend to us. The restaurant garden overlooked the southern end of the St Lucia estuary and croc island in the middle. After a delicious lunch it was recommended we take a stroll along the boardwalk  that leads through the sand dunes to the beach. The Indian ocean looked very wild that day.

The wild Indian ocean

The wild Indian ocean

dscf0751

 

As we walked back along the boardwalk we saw this snake on the ground below. It was about a metre and a half long and could possibly have been a black mamba but we kept our distance and just watched it slither along. We also managed to spot a crocodile swimming in the water and it’s in the middle of this photo but difficult to see.

The southern estuary with a croc in the foreground

The southern estuary with a croc in the middle of the photo

Striped mongoose

Striped mongoose

 

As we made our way back to the car park this little group of striped mongoose were sitting on the side of the road.

 

 

 

backpackers accommodation

backpackers accommodation

 

 

We drove back to the main road of McKenzie street to the Monzi Safaris Tented lodge. It’s behind the Monzi Safaris backpackers although they share the same reception and car park. The backpackers is basically the old dormitory area that has been cleared and a series of ‘tents’ erected about a foot apart from each other on a ‘shelf’ with bathroom facilities downstairs. They looked ok but not sure what happens at night when someone starts snoring.

Our 'tent'

Our ‘tent’

The bathroom built on the back

The bathroom built on the back

 

Our ‘tent’ was very nice and had a proper bed that was very comfotable with a two seater settee in the main section. There was a shower room with toilet and handbasin built on the back in a log cabin section which also housed a full sized fridge and a sink and the wardrobe. They were well designed.

 

 

A comfy bed

A comfy bed

The lovely pool in the rain

The lovely pool in the rain

 

The ‘tents’ were arranged around a lovely pool but by the time we checked in it had started raining and I didn’t feel like standing in a cold pool in the rain! There were also 2 lovely kitchen areas, one for our section and one for the backpacker tents, so it was possible to cook your own meals if you wanted to.

 

 

The main bar

The main bar

 

I would recommend either of these accommodations.  Our main problem was we were staying in hut 1 which had the path to the other huts right next to us and we backed onto this nice bar area which also had tented sides and was about 6ft away from our hut.  It had music playing until 10pm which I don’t usually mind but we had to get up at 4am to join the safari and had planned to go to bed early but after 10pm it did become very quiet.

 

 

Standing on the top deck with hippos all around us.

Standing on the top deck with hippos all around us.

Although Monzi do safaris we had booked our safari with Eurozulu who had their offices next door. Earlier we had visited them to pick up our safari tickets plus our tickets for the 2 hour hippo and croc that was booked for 4pm. This would normally be a good time because as the sun goes down it shows the colours of the hippos nicely – the problem was there wasn’t any sunshine and it was still raining. It would have been a nice walk from Monzi to the sunset jetty but it wouldn’t have been very nice sitting soaking wet so we drove the short distance to the jetty. Once there we were shown to one of four boats waiting for its passengers. Our friends Antony and Davina were already aboard. We set off north along the St Lucia estuary.  At first I didn’t think we were going to see anything but then the hippos started bobbing up and appearing all around us.

A hippos yawning.

A hippos yawning.

 

 

 

This group were tucked under the greenery. One of them gave an enormous yawn. It had very big teeth.

 

They had lovely little faces

They had lovely little faces

These ones were having a bit of a fight

These ones were having a bit of a fight

 

Apparently they can’t really swim but push themselves off from the edge and glide along. Most of them were along the edge of the estuary.

These two didn’t seem very happy with each other. Although the hippos looked quite friendly they are vicious and shouldn’t be approached.

 

Getting out of the water

Getting out of the water

Grazing

Grazing

Further up the river the land flattened out and a couple of the hippos had got out of the water to stretch their legs. It was fairly swampy but there was a bit of grass for them to graze on. The rain had been drizzling on and off but it didn’t seem to matter to the hippos they were enjoying the mud. After an hour or so our boat turned round and motored back to the jetty. We didn’t see any crocs on the tour because it was mating season and they were all in the swamps further north. Once along side we returned to our hut to get ready for our safari the next day.

One more hippo for you.

One more hippo for you.

 

More Madagascar

 

The yachts in Russian bay

The yachts in Russian bay

 

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

 

After a great dive with the divemaster at Sakatia lodge on Monday 12th September, Norsa and Camomile along with Tintin and Solstice sailed across to Russian bay on Tuesday 13th .

 

Paul's Dhow

Paul’s Dhow

Bill helped me in then climbed the ladder too.

Bill helped me in then climbed the ladder too.

While there a group of us went for a sail with a local guy called Paul in his traditional dhow to the other side of the bay for a wonderful walk.

 

Paul punted his dhow into deeper water

Paul punted his dhow into deeper water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then Paul raised his sail

Then raised his sail

 

 

 

Fairly second hand but Paul still managed to sail his dhow pretty efficiently

Fairly second hand but Paul still managed to sail his dhow pretty efficiently

Norman looks happy

Norman looks happy

 

 

 

 

 

It was very basic and basically just bit of wood held together with bits of string but felt very secure

It was very basic and just held together with bits of  wood and string but felt very secure

After about an hour the sail was taken down, wrapped up and Paul paddled the last bit

After about an hour the sail was taken down, wrapped up and Paul paddled the last bit

 

 

 

 

While we went for our walk the dhow just sat waiting for us with a large rock as an anchor.

 

The dhow waiting

The dhow waiting

We came across a group of houses but everyone was out leaving just their herd of zebu's behind

We came across a group of houses but everyone was out leaving just their herd of zebu’s behind

 

 

 

 

 

 

We continued on up the hill

We continued on up the hill

We came across another little house on the top of the hill

We came across another little house on the top of the hill

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite being at the top of the hill the guy was building himself a canoe

Despite being at the top of the hill the guy was building himself a canoe

Ug and Ugg offered to get some coconuts for us

Ug and Ugg offered to get some coconuts for us

 

 

 

 

 

so we followed them

so we followed them

 

 

 

 

 

Once in the coconut plantation one of them climbed a tree and cut down coconuts for everyone

Once in the coconut plantation one of them climbed a tree and cut down coconuts for everyone

 

 

 

 

Then the tops were cut off the coconuts so we could drink the delicious liquid inside

The tops were cut off the coconuts so we could drink the delicious liquid inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Very refreshing

Very refreshing

A collection of feet. We all just perched on the side.

A collection of feet. We all just perched on the side and across the branches laid across the outrigger.

 

 

We walked back to the dhow and sailed back to the anchorage for lunch cooked by Paul’s wife. A really great day.

 

 

 

 

Camomile sailing along

Camomile sailing along

The beautiful lemurs

The beautiful lemurs

On the Saturday Camomile and Norsa sailed to Nosy Komba for Norman and Sara to see the little village there. Sara and I went up into the lemur forest to see the lemurs again.
Sunday we headed back to Hellville to meet up with Solstice and Tintin ready for our day trip around the island of nosy Be.
Monday 19th saw the 8 of us going ashore and getting into a reasonable 10 seater minibus with air-conditioning for our day trip. It had been arranged through Roland, the guy who runs the chandlery in Crater bay.

A beautiful Sifaka

A beautiful Sifaka

More Sifakas

More Sifakas

First we went to Lemuria land where we saw several types of Lemur such as ring tailed lemurs, crowned, and black and white ruffed lemurs.

 

Ring tailed lemurs

Ring tailed lemurs

 

 

 

Such beautiful faces

Such beautiful faces

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Crocodile

A Crocodile

 

 

 

There were also crocodiles, chameleons, iguanas, tortoises, to name but a few.

 

 

A Chameleon

A Chameleon

Another chameleon

Another chameleon

 

 

 

 

 

A leaf-tailed gecko

A leaf-tailed gecko

and this horrid spider which was about the size of my palm

and this horrid spider which was about the size of my palm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The girls waiting to have their bags weighed

The girls waiting to have their bags weighed

The group continued on to the ylang ylang distillery where girls had picked sacks full of the flowers to be weighed and registered to their name. They are expected to pick in the region of 20kgs a day, which is a lot of flowers, and they would be paid the princely sum of the equivalent of $5! It would take them most of the day to do this so very low wages. The flowers are distilled into essential oils and of course there was the obligatory shop where we were offered a juice and some little tidbits while we looked around. The prices were very reasonable so I treated myself to a few things.

 A 20kg bag of petals

A 20kg bag of petals

The group covered up to visit the sacred tree

The group covered up to visit the sacred tree

Back on the bus and on to the ancient sacred banyan tree. It was necessary to be covered for the visit and we were all ceremoniously wrapped in sarongs before we could enter the grounds. The tree covered a vast area, it was difficult to find the original trunk. Many of the branches had sent out shoots which hang down towards the ground and take root forming branches of their own. It was eerily quiet as we walked around the path in between the many branches with our guide.
After that we drove north to see more of the island before stopping for lunch at the north of the island in the tourist area which also had tourist prices.

Looking down on the rice paddy fields

Looking down on the rice paddy fields

The last item on our itinerary for the day was Mont Passot, the islands highest point. On the way up we passed a series of deep blue crater lakes said to be the homes of the spirits of the Sakalava and Antakrana princes and some rice paddy fields. We stopped to take photos but sadly the area had been taken over by tourist stalls.
Continuing to the summit of 326m which gave us the most amazing views. The last section was walked and led to a series of platforms so that you could get clear views in all directions. (Although the photos didn’t come out very clear) There was a bit of an afternoon heat haze but it was possible to see all the way north to Nosy Mitsio and south west to Russian bay and beyond. Stunning views.
During the drive back our guide was able to give us lots of information about the Malagasy people, it was a great day out. The average life expectancy is 62 for men and 65 for women. 1 in 5 children die before the age of 5. There’s no welfare state and school in not compulsory. Many families can’t afford to send their children to school and there’s a 35% illiteracy rate. It was a interesting day.
The whole trip for 8 of us including the van and driver, English speaking guide, and entrances fees but not the lunch cost 210 euros which was 53E per couple plus some tips which we all agreed was good value. Roland’s details are adventuretoursmada@yahoo.com (photos for all this when we get to south Africa)
Bill and I spent Tuesday getting fuel and provisions enough to last us to south Africa because there wouldn’t be any where else to stock up further down the coast. On Wednesday 21st we checked out. The options are domestic check out in Hellville then full check out in Mahajanga or full check out in Hellville. We chose the latter mostly because a lot has been said about Mahajanga, some of which may or may not be true, but mostly because we didn’t want to HAVE to go in if we had a good window to keep going. (Later Adina checked out in Mahajanga and had no problems.)

Goodbye to Hellville

Goodbye to Hellville

In the afternoon we left Hellville for the last time and sailed back to Russian bay. Our anchorage there was 13 32.19S
047 59.95Ein 14.4M of water. Good holding over sand.
Russian bay is named as such because in 1905 during the Russo – Japanese war a Russian fleet spent nine weeks harboured there. The crew of one of the ships are buried in the cemetery up behind Hellville. A beautiful and remote place opposite Nosy Be the bay provides excellent, all-round shelter. One morning Bill and I took the dinghy for a ride around the bay and were amazed by the bird life in the trees. Just outside the entrance is a beautiful beach which we sat on for an hour or so and swam in the sea. (Camera had another wobble and lost photos) We stayed there for the rest of the week and by the weekend there were 34 boats anchored in the bay because there was a regatta that weekend. Everyone had a great evening on the saturday and Andre worked hard putting on a bbq. The party continued Sunday morning as Andre was selling scrambled eggs and fresh bread with jam and coffee. I passed on the coffee but the bread was nice. There were games organised on the beach and then at midday a dozen or so of the yachts took part in a race back to Crater bay. The following day we started our passage south.

Dinghies on the beach in Russian bay

Dinghies on the beach in Russian bay

More Madagascar

A sailing dhow

A sailing dhow

The people in Madagascar are very poor but resourceful. They build their houses from materials gathered from the forest and their boats are totally made of natural materials.  With a few exceptions the boats or dhows don’t have any engines and rely on the wind.  Fortunately there are good winds here. In the early morning there’s the last of the night breeze blowing offshore and then most mornings a sea breeze strikes up towards the land at about 10am or 11am and goes on as late as 5pm or 6pm so the fishermen go out with one and come back with the other. Their sails are made of anything from rice bags sewn together to traditional heavy cotton sails with lots of varieties in between. Some have been fortunate to be given an old sail from a yacht and I say to those following us ‘don’t throw away any sails or sail material, bring it here’. Our friends on Adina gave away a sail and were given a live chicken in exchange! The Malagasy are very accomplished sailors and we often find they will try and race us when we’re sailing off shore and one of them very nearly beat us!

Can he see?

Can he see?

They use their dhows for fishing but also as transportation as the roads here are fairly basic or nonexistent.

This dhow is so heavily loaded the guy on the tiller can’t see where he’s going but relies on his fellow sailors to keep a look out.  They were fairly close to shore where there was very little fetch because I could see it capsizing in any kind of sea.

 

 

Crater bay 'marina'

Crater bay ‘marina’

 

Sunday 4th September we left Sakatia for Crater bay. There is a small ‘marina’ there that has quite a few charter boats on buoys. They offer a pontoon for your dinghy (but you need to lock it on) and the marina manager Rudi is Austrian and often able to help if you have a problem on board.  We anchored outside the buoys at

13 24.023S

048 13.151E with 14.9M under our keel.

 

The marina bar.

The marina bar.

Ashore there is a small bar built around some old engines that were probably in use here many years ago.  It has cold beer with a limited selection of food and is a good yachtie meeting place.  Note the bananas growing above the tables on the left hand side, now that’s fresh!

(For yachts following on behind us, this is the only place that had a theft this year but they were caught and punished and all was well after that.  It’s important to lock up your boat and dinghy here but don’t be put off coming,  it’s an interesting place.)

A zebu cart

A zebu cart

 

 

Monday morning we went in search of fresh supplies. It’s a 20 minute walk to the road along a dirt track.  The houses were very primitive. Zebu carts were being used again.

 

 

A home stall

A home stall

 

 

This lady had set up a stall outside her house to sell some fresh produce. I try and buy one or two things from each person rather than everything from one. It spreads the wealth a bit.

This is their water supply.

water supply

water supply

outside kitchen

outside kitchen

 

 

Again their kitchens are outside.

 

 

Main road

Main road

 

 

 

We reached the town and found it quite busy. This is the main road.

Oddly enough one of the busiest shops was the Orange phone shop. Mobiles are becoming popular in the towns where there are phone masts but away from the towns they can’t afford such luxuries as a phone.

The Orange shop

The Orange shop

The butchers

The butchers

Next door was the butcher – unbelievable!  The meat was covered in flies and we were told if you buy it early enough before the flies get on it , it’s ok! Err no, call me old fashioned but I would rather not share my meat with the flies. Not sure if it’s put in a fridge overnight because it looked fairly fresh but it wasn’t going to be good for our western stomachs.

A bit further down the road was a supermarket called the big bazaar which had reasonable supplies but across the road was the reason to come to crater bay…. a chandler.

Bill in heaven

Bill in heaven

It’s run by an Austrian guy called Roland Kofler his email address is adventuretoursmada@yahoo.com really helpful and speaks good English. It was surprisingly well stocked. Bill was able to buy some parts he’d been looking for.

After we’d had a look around, stocked up on provisions and had a nice lunch at the Catalan restaurant, we headed back to the boat again.

Bill with the shopping trolley

Bill with the shopping trolley

Dear little chaps

Dear little chaps

The thing that saddens me most about these remote countries is the children. These little chaps were playing in the dirt with a handmade toy and a broken one. They seemed happy enough but it breaks my heart. When I think of what the children have back home and how these children would really appreciate a tine bit of it.  The odds aren’t good for them, 1 in 5 dies before the age of 5 but the ones we met seemed happy.

Looking after his little brother

Looking after his little brother

 

 

 

This chap was all smiles

This chap was all smiles

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the few children we saw with shoes on.

 

Glimpes of yachts

Glimpses of yachts

 

 

As we walked back down the lane we could see the boats in the anchorage over the top of the buildings. On a closer look of the buildings we realised it was some kind of builders merchant. There were roof sections made of palm leaves, different sized logs for the frame work and sides of buildings made of split bamboo.

Building materials

Building materials

Heavy load

Heavy load

This poor man was struggling, the logs must have been very heavy.

It would have been interesting to know the prices they were charging for the materials, although the average income is US$5 a day. No minimum wage here.

These dhows were waiting for the tide to re-float them. They are very striking.

Dhows waiting for the tide

Dhows waiting for the tide

Little puppy

Little puppy

 

Back at the marina this is one of the puppies I wanted to take with me. So beautiful but full of fleas.  He’s only this big because he’s feeding from his mother, she on the other hand was skin and bone. Difficult.

 

 

 

Norsa arrives with Solstice behind them.

Norsa arrives with Solstice behind them.

 

Tuesday we motored back to Hellville to see our friends on Norsa and Solstice arrive from Mayotte.  We all went ashore so they could check in and then met up later for lunch at our favourite cafe called the Oasis.  Built in a Parisian street cafe kind of style the food is very good but the best are the chocolate brownies with a nice cappuccino. Yum

Bill, Sue, Phyllis, Sara, Don and Norman at the Oasis

Bill, Sue, Phyllis, Sara, Don and Norman at the Oasis

Kevin, Don, Norman and Bill

Kevin, Don, Norman and Bill

 

 

The following day Tintin joined us from the islands and we had drinks on Camomile in the evening to celebrate. Rather a lot of drinks….

 

 

 

 

Happy people

Happy people

…. which resulted in Norman falling in the water! No photos available. Haha

Ready for dinner

Ready for dinner

 

Thursday we motored back to Crater bay for a few days so the others could visit the chandler.

Saturday we sailed back to Sakatia lodge for more delicious food.

A note about Sakatia lodge, it isn’t a restaurant it’s a dining room for guests, which we were welcome to join but the meal is a set meal. We were very lucky that night.

 

Our crab starter

Our crab starter

 

Delicious lobster

Delicious lobster

 

There were two plates this size for the six of us, wonderful food.

It was finished with homemade orange ice cream with an orange liqueur.

Now remember we aren’t on holiday!

Cruisers relaxing

Cruisers relaxing

Magical Madagascar

Hellville waterfront

Hellville waterfront

Our first full week in Madagascar started with the chaos that is Hellville, the biggest town on the island of Nosy Be.  The name means ‘big island’ and is pronounced ‘nossy bay’.  It’s thought it was settled as long ago as 1649 by the English but the colony failed due to hostile natives and disease. They have had various arrivals since, Arabs and Comorans, but it finally came under the protection of the French in 1841.  More recently Europeans have created a holiday resort of the island with many French and Italians settling there.  We anchored at

13 24.375S

048 17.059E

The dock in Hellville

The dock in Hellville

Hellville was named after Admiral de Hell a former governor of Reunion island further south rather than an evocation of the state of the town.  It’s one of the places yachts can check in.  A lot has been said about the government officials here and it’s very difficult finding any common ground.  There are two locals here called Jimmy and Cool, Jimmy will walk you around the various officials which, if you don’t speak French, is necessary and Cool will mind your dinghy for you as there’s no dinghy dock. It will be moved around but we felt they needed to be trusted and we had no complaints. We work on 4,000 Ariary to 1GBP and Jimmy charges 30,000 and Cool 10,000 for the day to look after your dinghy so we aren’t talking big money. Unfortunately our photo of Jimmy didn’t come out but he’s on the left of this photo in the the red t-shirt. This also shows the chaos where you have to come ashore.

Tuk tuk driver

Tuk tuk driver

We went ashore first thing on the morning of Monday 29th August and the fun began!!

The first people to see are the police, they have an office/portacabin on the waterfront. They filled in an arrival form for us then said the person to stamp the visa wasn’t there so Jimmy took us to their office in the town. The tuktuk fares are 500AR per person for any journey which was 25p for the two of us. We got off at the bank to get some money out of the ATM. It issued us with 10,000AR notes which are worth about 2.50 so Bill ended up with wads of money in his pocket which is never a good idea. Continuing on to the visa office but the guy we needed to see wasn’t there either. A little word about tuk tuks, forget doors and windows, forget MOTs, forget health and safety,  just go for a ride!

Old colonial building

Old colonial building

 

We went back to the police dock and said we couldn’t find him and, after various suggestions, all of which would have cost ‘bribe’ money, it was agreed we would go back later. Then it was onto port control who were very efficient and it cost AR61,000 for a 1 month cruising permit for the Nosy Be area. (Note to sailors following us , you only need a permit for the month you’ll be in this area even if you have a visa for 2 months as we did.)

 

Prison entrance

Prison entrance

 

 

The next stop was the Orange shop to set up a sim for the phone with internet access passing the local prison on the way. Remind me to behave here, can’t imagine the squalor that would be behind these walls.

Continuing along to the market.

 

Meat market

Meat market

 

 

Quite a sight.  This meat is just sitting out in the open and was covered in flies, fortunately you can’t smell the smells. Needless to say we didn’t buy any.  A bit further along the dried fish stalls were just as bad.

 

 

Dried fish stall

Dried fish stall

The salad was better

The salad was better

 

Beautiful pineapples

Beautiful pineapples

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fruit on this stall was very good and I bought a bundle of these lettuces for about 75p.

 

Hoisting the Madagascar flag

Hoisting the Madagascar flag

 

We made our way back to the port to meet Jimmy at 2.30 to get our visas stamped.  The guy still wasn’t anywhere to be seen and it was suggested we go to the airport to find him. I refused that because it wasn’t a weekend and I knew it could cost 30,000 plus in a taxi each way.  The police were also after their ‘payment’ asking first for 120,000 but we refused saying other cruisers have paid 80,000 which they accepted. This is only about GBP20 but as we knew it was simply a ‘bribe’ we weren’t happy about paying but you have no choice. If you don’t pay they won’t check you in and can then arrest you – having seen the prison, we paid. We went back to the boat and finally at 4pm he turned up and we were able to get our visas which cost AR100,000 per person. At the end of the day we paid less than GBP100 for the whole thing which was far less than the other countries in the Indian ocean but it all felt a bit tacky. At last we were able to host the Madagascan flag I had made.

A zebu cart

A zebu cart

The next morning it was back into town for shopping.  This is the car park outside the supermarket. Isn’t he lovely? Its called a zebu and they are every where including on the meat counters for sale!

The supermarket had a lot of French products and wine so we had a little stock up.  The fruit and veg weren’t as good as the market but we found in the following days that certain days after a delivery the stock was better.

Then it was on to …… guess where?

The hard ware store

The hard ware store

Bill found some tubing

Bill found some tubing

 

 

We’ve got various leaks in Camomile’s water system and Bill needed some tubing. This man was very helpful with his little bit of English and Bill using a little bit of french he managed to get what he needed.

The traffic is a bit chaotic here with a mixture of cars, tuk tuks and zebu carts.

Street life with the market on the right and a roundabout in front of me

Street life with the market on the right and a roundabout in front of me

Loading a truck onto the ferry

Loading a truck onto the ferry

Back at the port we watched the most extraordinary scene where they were loading cars and fairly big trucks onto a local ferry. I’ll try and post a video on facebook. How they didn’t sink I’ll never know. Jimmy was watching and our dinghy had been pulled up onto the side.  This is why you need to pay Cool his AR10,000 to watch your dinghy. The truck was held up while our dinghy was launched.

Later that afternoon we motored the 10 miles around to Nosy Komba and arrived just in time to see this stunning sunset behind one of the off shore islands.

 

Stunning sunset

Stunning sunset

Beautiful tablecloths for sale.

Beautiful tablecloths for sale.

 

The next morning we went ashore with Kevin and Jacqui of Tintin to explore. The village was very authentic and pretty. At first it looked like peoples washing blowing in the wind but we realised it was beautiful hand embroidered tablecloths for sale.

 

 

More tablecloths under the bougainvillea flowers

More tablecloths under the bougainvillea flowers

Ladies doing their washing

Ladies doing their washing

 

These ladies are doing their washing in one of the troughs that has a fresh water fill from the mountain above. Their houses don’t have electricity or running water. We didn’t ask about the toilets!

Bathtime

Bathtime

 

 

 

 

This little chap was being given a shower in front of the water trough.

Local house

Local house

 

 

 

 

This is one of the local houses. This isn’t one of those contrived villages where every one goes home after work, these are really houses where they all live.  It looks like one decent puff of wind and they would be blown down but they are fairly strong.  All the cooking is done outside on open fires.  This is her kitchen in front of her house. They were so lovely, its a bit touristy but very pretty.

Our view from bar at lunchtime

Our view from the bar at lunchtime

 

Ylang ylang flowers

Ylang ylang flowers

 

After lunch we took a guide up into the forest to find some lemurs. The first thing we were shown was a ylang ylang tree whose flowers are used to make perfume namely Channel No5 they had a delightful aroma.

A chameleon

A chameleon

 

 

 

 

We walked further up and saw this beautiful chameleon on a tree.

wild pineapple

wild pineapple

 

 

 

 

 

and wild pineapples growing alongside the path.

 

 

 

Black male lemur

Black male lemur

 

Our guide was calling’ maki, maki, maki’ and opening a banana he had brought with us. Then they appeared, first two, then two more and four above us. Such gentle creatures.  Lemurs, roughly cat sized, are well known in northern Madagascar. The males are black and the females are chestnut brown.

 

Male brown lemur

Male brown lemur

 

 

Male brown lemur, you can tell because of his beautiful white ear tufts and side whiskers.

The guide was holding out banana to them and gave me some to hold up ready to give them. Soon I had a couple on my shoulders looking for their piece of banana, they were very gentle.

I had two on my shoulders

I had two on my shoulders

back up in the tree

back up in the tree

 

Such delicate sweet creatures.

they love banana

they love banana

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were some mums with babies further up the tree but they didn’t want to come down.

It was very funny watching them jump from tree to tree. So many of our photos have half a lemur in them.

Giant tortoise

Giant tortoise

 

 

We were also taken to see some tortoises……

 

…… and a boa constrictor

Bill was very brave

Bill was very brave

and so was I

and so was I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a local boat

a local boat

Line of the bow ready to cut

Line of the bow ready to cut

Back on the beach this local boat was anchored. It’s made almost entirely in local materials, the hull is made of wood, the mast is a tree trunk and the sail is made of a very tough cotton.  Further up the beach was a local boat builder and Bill was fascinated to see the various stages of build.

Building up the sides

Building up the sides

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are in the middle of their build

These are in the middle of their build

A new build

A new build

 

We headed back to the dinghies. On the beach there were some men building a local house, bet they don’t have a risk assessment!

Not a hard hat, safety shoe or high vis jacket in sight.

 

 

 

Anchored on the south side of the island

Anchored on the south side of the island

Thursday 1st September Camomile left Nosy Komba for Nosy Sakatia stopping at Nosy Tanikeli on the way. It’s part of the national park and you have to pay AR10,000 per person. We anchored at

13 29.275S

048 14.209E on a bit of a shelf.  We had 16.5m under our keel but only intended to stay for a few hours so weren’t too concerned.

 

Nice brain coral with an angel fish

Nice brain coral with an angel fish

 

 

There aren’t many places to snorkel in Madagascar and the coral has been bleached but we decided to get in. This would probably be our last snorkel until the Caribbean next year. The first thing that struck us was the water was quite chilly compared to the Seychelles or Maldives

 

Beautiful giant clam

Beautiful giant clam

Beautiful turtle

Beautiful turtle

 

Then I spotted a turtle swimming gracefully around the coral looking for tasty morsels. At first I didn’t want to go too close and frighten it but it wasn’t bothered about us. I was able to get closer and closer. It was almost a metre long from head to tail. I swam with it for about 20 minutes just watching it. Magical.

 

 

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I could reach out and touch it.

I could reach out and touch it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beach and village next to the lodge

The beach and village next to the lodge

 

After our swim we carried onto Nosy Sakatia and anchored at

13 18.926S

048 09.680E with 9m under our keel. This is the beach in front of us, the Sakatia Lodge is right up in the corner to the left of this beach and very welcoming to yachties. The food is more expensive than the rest of Madagascar but was excellent.

 

Our lovely bar lady

Our lovely bar lady

 

 

The following day we celebrated our 38th wedding Anniversary. We went over to the lodge for lunch then returned in the evening for a delicious meal. This lady made the most fantastic mojito and they were only AR8,000 or GBP2 each

Our meal started with chilled cucumber soup.

Chilled cucumber soup

Chilled cucumber soup

Our main course

Our main course

It was followed by Calamari with peas in a delicious sauce and duchess potatoes.

Bon appetite

Bon appetite

 

 

 

 

 

When the meal was booked in the morning the staff were told it was our anniversary. When the dessert came the chief had very kindly made a lovely cake for us. It was absolutely laced with rum and delicious. What a wonderful celebration. Next year – Boston!

The end to a beautiful evening

The end to a beautiful evening

 

Mayotte and the passage to Madagascar

Washing machines!!!

Washing machines!!!

Mayotte is part of the Comoros group and the island sits inside the biggest natural lagoon in the world.  We had picked up a buoy at the yacht club at

12 46.887S

045 15.647E

The yacht club was very friendly and had helped us with our check in but the best thing was that they had not 1 but 4 front loading, 1200 rpm washing machines with HOT water. I was in heaven, if it wasn’t nailed down it was washed while we were there.

The Emerald crater

The Emerald crater

The other side of the crater

The other side of the crater

 

 

Sunday 14th August was a good day with us making an early start and walking around the Emerald crated on Petit Terre, the little island. We walked right round the ridge along the top and down to the beaches on the other side. I’ll just post some photos for you to enjoy.

 

 

The ridge with crater on one side and sea on the other

The ridge pathway with crater on one side and sea on the other

The ridge continued

The ridge continued

 

 

 

Looking back across the Emrald crater with the main island in the background

Looking back across the Emerald crater with the main island in the background

A final look back at the crater

A final look back at the crater

A nice panoramic shot showing the ridge path on both sides.

 

The beach on the outside of the rim

The beach on the outside of the rim

Before we completed the circuit a path leads south towards the beach. This is the beach on the outside of the crater rim but we couldn’t get down to it.

Our picnic hut

Someone had thoughtfully built a picnic hut at the top.

 

The first of the vent 'bubbles'

The first of the vent ‘bubbles’

Lovely view of the edge of the two vent bubbles

Lovely view of the edge of the two vent bubbles

 

The path continued towards two vent bubbles that have created two beaches. To get down to the beach it’s an almost vertical track and my knees I didn’t fancy it so we continued passed the beaches to the road and walked back to the beach.

 

 

 

The entrance of the northern beach showing the hard lava instead of sand

The entrance of the northern beach showing the hard lava instead of sand

 

The beaches were volcanic black sand mixed with some light sand giving it a grey colour but very hot to walk on. The northern beach was mostly hard rock formed from the flowing lava many thousands of years ago.

 

 

Higher up the beach there was sand but also mangrove trees growing in the edge of the water.

Higher up the beach there was sand but also mangrove trees growing in the edge of the water.

The south wall of the northern beach was stunning with many rock formations

The south wall of the northern beach was stunning with many rock formations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rock by Bill's feet was a piece of solid marble. See the layers in the rock behind him.

The rock by Bill’s feet was a piece of solid marble. See the layers in the rock behind him.

The north wall of the southern beach with stalactites dripping from the overhangs.

The north wall of the southern beach with stalactites dripping from the overhangs.

 

The southern beach was more sandy and had many turtle tracks up the beach where turtles lay their eggs at night.

The sea looked very inviting after our sweaty walk but we didn’t have our swimmers with us.

 

 

Looking out through the headlands of the southern beach

Looking out through the headlands of the southern beach

After walking back up to the car park we were lucky enough to get a taxi back to the dinghy jetty.

This was our little car for the day

This was our little car for the day

 

We spent part of our second week looking for an emergency dentist because I had toothache which was getting worse and worse.  Fortunately by Thursday I was sorted with a temporary filling so on Friday we hired a car for the day to look around the island.

There were some nice views from some of the headlands.

 

Stunning views

Stunning views

The botanical gardens weren’t very  good and sadly there was a lot of rubbish strew around the island as well as a lot of ‘dead’ cars but we did find some nice beaches.

One of the lovely beaches

One of the lovely beaches

Another nice beach

Another nice beach

A type of Baobab tree

A type of Baobab tree

 

 

 

Mayotte has some species of the Baobab trees growing next to some of the beaches.

 

 

The peak of Mlima Benara

The peak of Mlima Benara

Mlima Benara

Mlima Benara

 

 

The island is dominated by Mlima Benara the highest peak on Grande-Terra. It’s distinct shape is visible from almost any where on the island.

Our last stop was at a nice hotel that had tables on the beach for a mojito.

Sun-downers on the beach

Sun-downers on the beach

Sailing at the beginning

Sailing at the beginning with Elonisa and Tintin

Monday 22nd I went to the dentist again to have the root removed and the tooth filled. I was very worried although I shouldn’t have been because all was OK.  We went ahead and checked out Tuesday, after a last batch of washing and shopping, and left Mayotte first thing Wednesday morning. I can’t honestly recommend Mayotte, a week would have been long enough, although we found the people were friendly and I got my tooth sorted.  The main reason for going there was to avoid the Seychelles to Madagascar run, which has a notorious reputation. Instead our trip from Mayotte to Madagascar was an easy one. We exited out of the Bandrelle pass on the south east corner of the reef at 08.00 with Tintin and Elonisa. There was a light wind so we were able to start off sailing.

Stunning sunset.

Stunning sunset.

The first sighting of Madagascar

The first sighting of Madagascar

By 15.30 the wind had dropped and we had to motor overnight. This amazing sunset was seen in the evening. We continued motoring the next day until about 14.30 when the sea breeze from Madagascar started up and the engine was turned off again.  We sailed the last three hours.  Although Elonisa had gone on ahead of us being a much bigger and faster boat Camomile arrived just 10 minutes after Tintin again.  The journey of 188 miles took 36 hours making it an average of 5.2 kph.

A pirogue sailing up the channel

A pirogue sailing up the channel

Old sails

Old sails

Arriving late in the afternoon our landfall had been Nosy Sakatia, north west of Nosy Be. We had anchored at

13 18.10s

048 10.65E

In the morning we enjoyed seeing these wonderful pirogues using the last of the land breeze to sail out to their fishing ground and in the afternoon they use the sea breeze to sail back again. They are a magnificent sight but some of the sails are very worn out. Even the little canoes have a sail of sorts on to use the wind.  These guys were also paddling hard.  For those yachties following along behind us, if you get new sails for your Indian ocean trip don’t through your old sails away. Bring them here, they would make very good use of them.

Camomile approaching Nosy Kisimany

Camomile approaching Nosy Kisimany

The next morning Tintin headed into Hellville but we didn’t want to check in until Monday morning so we motored across the bay to Nosy Kisimany to meet up with Tom and Susie on Adina.

Beautiful approach. First impressions of Madagascar are good. One of the things that’s so striking is the lack of rubbish every where. That’s mainly because the plastic age hasn’t fully reached these parts yet – long may it continue.

This wonderful canoe followed us into the anchorage on the way to his village.  Again using his sail – no noisy outboards or Thai long tails here; it’s so peaceful.

Another canoe

Another canoe

Our visitors

Our visitors

We anchored at

13 34.715S

048 05.182E in 8 metres of water.

Within minutes of putting the anchor down these little chaps sailed over to us from the village. I just want to point out we’ve never been worried about these situations and have only  ever encountered friendliness.

They rolled their sail up and laid it across the outrigger before producing a fish for sale that was so stiff I dread to think how old it was.  We thanked them kindly but refused it. They were asking for fishing line which we gave them along with some lollipops and they went away happy. The older one couldn’t have been much more than 9 or 10 and his brother was probably about 7.

Selling fish

Selling fish

Adina

Adina

Adina arrived and we were invited over for a meal. It was a lovely evening.  It enabled us to take some nice shots of Camomile in the evening light.

 

Camomile in the evening light

Camomile in the evening light

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still looking good.

Still looking good.

The following day in the afternoon Camomile and Adina sailed across to Hellville ready for our Monday morning check in but that’s for another blog.  Adina took some really good shots of Camomile on the way.

On our way to Hellville

On our way to Hellville

 

Thank you to Susie on Adina for these photos

Thank you to Susie on Adina for these photos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greetings from Madagascar

Greetings from Madagascar

 

Sri Lanka to Maldives day 1

The navy came to see us off. Tintin on right of picture

The navy came to see us off. Tintin on right of picture

Position at 10.00 Tuesday 28th February
0719.69N
08203.73E
23 hour run from 11.00 27th to 10.00 28th 97 miles average 4.22 kph 613 miles to go

We were on the dock at 7.30 yesterday but there wasn’t any one around. Eventually Ravi, our agent, arrived at 8.15 with our clearance papers and to collect the money but we had to wait for the immigration officers to arrive to stamp our passports. At about 9.00 they turned up to stamp the 6 passports. Inspiration Lady, Tintin and Camomile were good to go. We weighed anchor at 11.00 and headed out to sea with Tintin, Inspiration Lady followed on about an hour later.

Trincomalee harbour is very protected without any swell so it was a bit of a shock coming back out into the rolly sea after over 3 weeks in calm conditions. We motored for a couple of hours to get clear of the harbour entrance then turned south to sail around the island. The sails were up in 15kts of wind and all was well except for the sloppy sea. As we gradually got into deeper water the sea calmed down a bit. The first thing we noticed was that we had at least 2kts of current against us which really slowed us down as you can see from our stats. We sailed slowly through the night but by 7.00 this morning the wind died so the engine went back on. It’s going to be a long passage at this speed.

The excitement this morning was being intercepted by a Sri Lankan navy vessel. They came so close we were worried they were going to hit us and signaled to them to move away. There were boys on the bow with life jackets on and I think they thought they were going to board us but there was no way they could come along side us. They were twice as big as us and with the swell they with have seriously damaged us. Bill tried calling on the radio but they didn’t answer. They wrote down our boats name then pulled away. Tintin are about a mile away from us so they headed in their direction and did the same to them then left. The navy are still very suspicious of vessels off shore after the war that only ended in 2006.

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