Category Archives: Port posts

Apologises for lack of blogs

Apologies for the lack of blogs. I have been technologically challenged on Camomile. My laptop died in the Seychelles last year and was sent home with James at Christmas.  Sadly when we were back in the UK in May it was pronounced uneconomic to repair. Despite the company fitting a new motherboard it still wouldn’t work. Don’t buy a Hewlett-Packard it was less than 2 years old. The repair company recovered the hard disk and sent it to me in an enclosure. It has a USB port and I’m supposed to be able to see the contents…..I can’t. When I get a new laptop I’ll address that problem.  My old laptop runs on WindowsXP and with the current spate of hacking it’s unsafe to connect it to the internet. My Samsung tablet wasn’t WordPress friendly and then last month that too died. I can’t replace the laptop and the tablet so I decided to replace the tablet and discovered the new Samsung now talks to WordPress and allows me to post photos. Result. So I’ll try and bring the blog up to date.

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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

May update

I can now continue with my blogs. This is long overdue but this is the May update.

Monday 1st May we checked into America. It took all morning. The biggest problem was not having an American phone and the satellite phone wouldn’t call the number the coastguard gave me. It’s necessary to have a check in number, which you get calling the phone number, before the customs will even speak to you. For yachties following us, the custom’s have an internal phone you can use when you get there. We spent several hours establishing that! We also assumed they would want to inspect Camomile and tried to obtain a marina berth for a few hours but that was unnecessary because they decided they didn’t want to inspect so we stayed at anchor.

Very clean American mall

The next day was my birthday and I decided I wanted to go a real American mall, Bill’s idea of purgatory but off we went. While there we got a new phone for me on an American contract so I can facebook and message as much as I want. The number is 561 301 6266. I had a wonderful time browsing around the shops.

Yum yum yum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had lunch out, which was delicious, but the best was the strawberry shortcake for dessert. The first of the ‘Everything is big in America’ pictures.

The next day on the 3rd we headed north leaving at 6.30am going back out through the Lake Worth inlet at

26˚46.348N

80˚01.719W

The wind was from the east and gave us a good push with the sails hoisted. We entered back into the ICW (inter coastal waterway) at

27˚28.537N

80˚16.137W

and then into Harbourtown marina at Fort Pierce.

Camomile in Harbourtown marina

The entrance waypoint is

27˚28.030N

80˚19.569W

The space is the marina was very tight. As you can see Camomile is way over the edge of the berth but the marina weren’t concerned. It will be fun getting out but we’ll work that out later.  This would be Camomile’s home for the next month. The cost was $623 for the month working out to a little over 55c per foot per day. We were later to realise what a bargain this was. In the US you pay by the foot for a day or a month. The monthly rates are a lot cheaper than the daily rates.

As many of you know the purpose of the beginning of our stay was to fly back to the UK but the first job was to clean Camomile inside and out, which took most of the next day.  I had spent several hours cleaning Camomile’s decks then it started to rain!! Should I have bothered. The couple on the motorboat next to us were very friendly along with most of the other boat owners.  Word got round there were a couple of Brits in town and everyone was ‘Just stopping by to say Hello and welcome’.

The smallest car available to hire.

Spent the rest of the week sorting out the boat, washing and packing.

Monday 8th we picked up our hire car. A one way car hire worked out the cheapest way to get to Orlando airport which was only a 4 hour drive away but America doesn’t really do public transport. When we arrived at the office in town and had completed the paperwork we were shown to our car. I pointed out that I thought they had given us the wrong car. I had booked a small compact car. ‘No’ he said ‘this is a small compact car’!

Selfie by the fountain

 

 

Tuesday 9th we drove to Orlando airport. I was really excited. We were flying to Miami and then to Heathrow. Orlando airport is huge and full of shops selling Micky Mouse hats. There was a beautiful fountain in the middle of the building.

 

Getting our flight ready

 

 

Our flight was delayed twice and was transferred to Philadelphia where we had to take a later flight to Heathrow. All good in the end.

It was wonderful to see Thomas at the airport. All the planning for this event and finally we were in the UK.

 

Logan is such a cutie

 

Had a busy first week. On the Friday Bill went off on the stag weekend to Barcelona to the F1, with James, Will the best man and some others. Thomas had a great time. I spent 3 days with my younger sister shopping for my wedding outfit then 3 days with my middle sister enjoying chatting with her and my niece Kirsty and my great nephew Logan, who is adorable now. It’s a year since I’ve seen him and he isn’t a baby any more.  Bill and James were back from the stag and working on James’s van.

Thank you to my sisters for having us.

We then returned to Kent to stay with Sonal’s mum Meena. Thank you for having us Meena.

Working in the cookie kitchen, do you like my hair net?

 

 

 

 

 

During our second week James was back at work so Bill helped Thomas put some finishing touches to their house, which ended up taking quite a time. I had a day in the cookie kitchen making cookies. I didn’t eat many……

Kate and Bill catching up.

 

 

 

A week before the wedding on the 20th we were invited to a family party of Bill’s relatives at cousin Sally and Rob’s. It was wonderful to see everyone. Bill’s sister Kate was there who had flown in for the wedding and Bill and she had a lovely catch up. It was also the first time we’d seen our nephew Will in almost 5 year, he had grown very tall.

 

3 delicious cakes

Bronwyn blowing out her candles

 

 

There were 3 cakes for 3 celebrations Mike and Angie’s 25th wedding anniversary, Bronwyn’s 80th birthday and cousin Wendie’s 60th birthday. We had a wonderful day.

 

 

The Chilston park hotel

Amanda and I with the Ferrari

 

Our third and last week was spent shopping for boat bits, of course, clothes to take back, more visiting, hair dressers, nail painting, more last minute bits for the wedding that it just flew by.  Finally on 27th the big day arrived. A group of us had stayed at the Chilston Park hotel which served the most amazing breakfast. James and Thomas were there and we had had one last family evening together – when everything was finally completed.

On the morning of the wedding Thomas’s friend arrived in his Ferrari to take Thomas to the venue. My sister and I had a pose in front of it.

My two sisters-in-law Claire and Kate, the very tall nephew Will, Uncle John and Auntie Hilary

 

 

 

 

Guests were arriving at the venue when Thomas’s party arrived.  Everyone looked beautiful in their wedding outfits. It was a glorious day, they were so lucky with the weather.

My favorite photo. My sisters Angela and Amanda

 

 

 

Sonal’s mum Meena. Our babies were getting married.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bill and I outside Bradbourne house, the wedding venue.

Thomas and his best man Will

Thomas leads his bride up the steps.

 

 

 

Finally the bride arrived and looked absolutely stunning. The wedding was outside on the steps that made a stunning setting. Sonals’s dress was exquisite.  She had done a wonderful job of blending Indian style accessories with the traditional English wedding theme.

 

Slinky the ring bearer

 

 

 

 

Their little dog Slinky was a ring bearer. They were attached to his collar. Will led him up the steps to Thomas so he could receive the rings.

Thomas had asked Bill to do a reading but instead Bill wrote a poem and read it to them at the end of the service. Here it is

Welcome

And so I am called – to give sage advice
It’s a special occasion – so I’ll try hard to be nice
All things considered – I really feel I oughter
Because today – I gain a beautiful daughter

It is a brave step – to be husband and wife
One that’s at least – for the rest of your life
So be a friend and an ally – as well as a lover
Be tough be gentle – care for each other

Be quick to unsay – the wrong things you said
You can’t always know – what’s going on in their head
Compassion and compromise – tolerance too
Strive always to see – another point of view

Share fair the burden – of everyday chores
You both work so hard – but make time that is yours
Show respect and interest – for each other’s dreams
Be fast to forgive – however tricky it seems

Put up with the in laws – when they get you upset
They love you and care – so sometimes will fret
Are they smarter than you? very probably not
do they know useful stuff – well they’ve been round the block

All these good things – in plentiful measure
Will build you a life – you’ll both love and treasure

Did I hear you say – is that right are you sure?
It can’t be that simple – there must be some more
After near 40 years – of matrimonial bliss
I’m pleased to say – we’re still working on this
So
A talented woman – a beautiful bride
How lucky is Tom – to have you at his side
And how lucky am I – that it now falls to me
To welcome you Sonal – to my family

Bill reading his poem

Signing the register

We all moved into the grounds for the photos. Everyone has hundreds but this one is one of my favourites.

Claire, chief bridesmaid, Sonal, my beautiful daughter-in-law, Jasmine, my beautiful niece, Jen, Sonal’s sister-in-law

The beautiful bouquets

Lovely photo

Thomas giving his speech

Cutting the cake

and of course there were cookies

Amazing photo. I’m going to have this framed.

This was the first Indian style dance then it was followed by a first English dance

The girls looked beautiful dancing together.

My wonderful flowers

It was a fabulous day and one of the nicest things was the wonderful mix of cultures.

So now I’m no longer Mrs Redgrove – I’m Mrs Redgrove senior.

The following day Thomas and Sonal had invited any one who had stayed in the area over night to join them for a drink at a lovely village pub near where they live.  It also gave us a chance to say our goodbyes to everyone as our time in the UK was coming to an end again.

Bill with his award for writing the best technical article for the Westerly magazine

 

We spent our last two days in the country with our old neighbours in Teston. Relaxing and going for walks in our old neighbourhood. James was able to join us for a day. Thank you Gill and Nigel for having us.

Also Bill had won an award at the Westerly AGM earlier in the year and we were able to unpack it and photograph it before leaving it with my sister.

 

 

Our plane awaits

 

Tuesday 30th May it was back to the airport where our plane was waiting for us. Sorry to all the many people we didn’t get a chance to see this visit but we plan to return April next year for 6 months so we’ll see everyone then. Thank you to everyone we were able to see for making our visit very special and to Thomas and Sonal for allowing us to share your special day.

Despite being on 3 different flights we managed to meet up with Kate and her partner Mark in Orlando airport. Their journey will be in the June update.

xxxx

 

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.

Camomile completes her circumnavigation

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

WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP We’ve done it!!

Bill and Sue on the bow of Camomile

At 13.30 this afternoon Camomile crossed the ‘finishing line’. We have sailed around the world traversing all meridians of longitude, the equator and then met our outgoing track here. Eventually we’ll complete our journey and head back to the UK but for now we feel we can call ourselves circumnavigators. Very emotional moment. Can’t believe we’ve actually done it, just Bill and I on our own but that’s basically how its been for the last 8 years. We’ve joined rallies and cruising groups but once you leave port, particularly on ocean passages, you are on your own; completely unassisted.

The line between the green crosses was our track from 2010

From the UK we’ve traveled 58525 miles so far on the worlds oceans and our circumnavigation from this spot on the 11th January 2010 and back to it today was 52365 sea miles or to put it in another context, two times around the earth’s equator.
This voyage has taken us 7 years 2 months and 7 days visiting 44 countries, some more than once, and more islands then we could keep count of – maybe we rushed it!

We haven’t arrived back with a tatty worn out boat either, Camomile is in better shape than ever. During our circumnavigation Bill has kept her well maintained and she has had new electronics including new autopilot, vhf and ssb radios and a new dinghy and outboard as a result of insurance claims from storm damage. Bill has replaced the standing rigging and most of the running rigging (ropes), she has had new sails, stackpack, cockpit cover and bimini, a new cooker and I’ve replaced the kettle three times. Bill also repainted Camomile and replaced all the woodwork (grab handles, toe rails, etc) and the propshaft. So I say to all you yachties working on your boats getting ready to leave, like Bill’s rhyme says JUST GO, there’ll be plenty of opportunity to finish your boat on the way round.

Back stooped and shoulders sagging
Soul and body really flagging
Worn out and weary, time to retreat
Before this daily grindstone has me beat

Cast your mind to a white sand shore
Green palm fronds over sea azure
Trade winds there cool a simpler life
And roaring breakers mute that strife

Above blackest night and pin prick stars
Milky way and meteors
Beneath glowing wake eats up the miles
as mast and deck heel to the sails

Go cruising now my friend don’t wait
’till fatty fare ‘n stress slow up your gait
Real loved ones will support you swim or sink
Life’s hour is later than you think

exert from the Rhyme of the Middle Aged Mariner by Bill Redgrove

South Africa to the Caribbean – day 46

Our position at 10.00 (12.00 GMT) Tuesday 7th March was
00 19 NORTH
037 39W
on a course of 325T with sunny blue skies.
Our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 today was 126 miles. Average 5.2kts we motor slower than we sail. We have 1512 miles to go to Barbados

WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP WE HAVE CROSSED THE EQUATOR FOR THE FINAL TIME.

The first time we crossed the equator was with our wonderful friends on the Blue Water rally on the vessels Enchantress, Lucy Alice and Briet they had come to support us after a shroud fitting had broken and we had nearly lost the mast. With the mast strapped down we were unable to sail and they all escorted us to the Galapagos islands sailing alongside us while we motored 900 miles. We all had a wonderful equator crossing party on our own boats while watching each other throw various concoctions over each other as we crossed the line. It’s on the website somewhere I think around March 2010.
The second time was in 2013 after Sail Indonesia as we motored up towards Singapore on our way home after Mum had died.
The third was in 2014 after Sail Malaysia East in the Makassat strait between Sulawesi and Borneo in Indonesia on our way to meet Thomas and Sonal in Lombok. The forth was on our way back up to Singapore again later in 2014.
The fifth was last year 2016 on our way south through the Maldives (it was hot then too)
The sixth and definitely last time was at 3.30am this morning – we are back in the northern hemisphere to stay.

Camomile crossing the equator

The last few days have been stiflingly hot on board with no wind plus having the engine on made it really hot below deck. We kept having to close the hatches because of the rain showers; I hope to never be this hot on board again. Yesterday, in all that heat, we took the twizzle down as we hadn’t had any rain for several hours and the sails were dry. We didn’t want to take it down while there was a chance of more SE winds but the forecast was for NE winds tomorrow. We dropped the downhaul and Bill took the poles off the sails first taking off the ‘twizzle links’ and re-stowing the poles on the guard rails. We can have both the headsails up at the same time and pull them both to one side or the other but with the possibility of stronger north easters coming Bill decided it would be best to drop the sails and take it off. With no wind they came down easily, lines were swapped, shackles undone and the single headsail reattached, hoisted and furled away. The second sail had come down nicely and Bill and I managed to flake it the best we could on deck and roll it up. It’s now sitting under the table until we can take it ashore in Barbados and fold it properly. All this was done in the midday sun! We didn’t realise until the job was finished how hot we were. I have to have a sleep early afternoon so I can do the first night watch but I just couldn’t sleep because I was bathed in perspiration, I couldn’t cool down.

The black clouds are behind us now and we feel so fortunate to have had such a benign crossing; not a single flash of lightening. Up to the day before yesterday we had only ran the engine for a total of 11 hours just to charge the batteries. It has now been running for 42 hours as we’ve motored through the ITCZ and finally went off at 9.30 this morning as the wind started to fill in from the East. The mainsail went up for the first time since leaving Capetown and the wind is strengthening. We aren’t making our course yet but as the wind gradually backs to the NE we’ll get back on course.

We saw our first ship yesterday, in fact we saw two. There have been several on the AIS recently but they were the first ones we’ve had a visual on. Will need to keep a better look out.

I made a stir fry last night. I sliced up half an onion, half a red pepper, half a green pepper and ‘matchsticked’ a carrot. Stirfry with a chicken breast sliced. I then added a jar of basil, garlic and chilli stir fry sauce from Thailand and some noodles. All cooked in about 10 minutes. YUM.

Bill ate his last apple last night in celebration of our equator crossing, I had some grapes – or they were until they were made into wine. Haha.

Finally a very Happy Birthday to my little sister Amanda. Enjoy your last year of being forty something! See in May, lots of love. XX

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.

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.

South Africa to the Caribbean – day 12

Our position at 10.00 (09.00 GMT)Tuesday 31st January
18 36S
002 47W
We have 230 miles to go to St Helena and our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 this morning was 125 miles, a bit better.

The wind finally died completely yesterday and the engine went on at 1.00pm and was on for the rest of the day and all night. The air temperature is a lot warmer now and the sea temperature is back up to 25.8C which we need for when we get to St Helena because friends ahead of us have reported whale sharks are swimming around the mooring field. I might get to swim with a whale shark hopefully. They are harmless by the way and only eat sea morsels. We saw one in the Maldives but it was quite a way away and there were so many tourists you couldn’t get near it

I was out of bread yesterday and the bakers was closed so I made bread. I also made some flapjacks so they will last us until we arrive. Last night I made bangers, mash and beans with an egg on top. Now you may be thinking that doesn’t sound very special but we are talking really nice pork sausages (haven’t been able to get pork for a while) and proper Heinz baked beans not own brand rubbish. I found 4 tins in a supermarket, they are coveted by cruisers.

A tiny moon came out last night after the most amazing sunset. The sunrise this morning was beautiful too. Must be getting near land.

Amazing sunrise

Amazing sunrise

So the journey continues. These blogs go through to our facebook page but remember we can’t see facebook or your kind comments but thank you for them, I look forward to reading them when we arrive. If you wish to contact us on passage please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (but take the gaps out) I love to hear from you. xx

South Africa to Caribbean – day 2 & 3

Day 2

The sand dunes of the west African coast

The sand dunes of the west African coast

Having gone to bed surrounded by fishing boats, the next morning they had all gone. By 8.15 we left the anchorage. There wasn’t any wind so we had to motor. There are quite a few lobster pots on this coast so to the cruisers behind us, be careful. The fishermen were moving between them.
The feature of the day was wildlife. We saw lots of seals and birds, several pods of dolphins but the real treat was whales and a lot of them. Sometimes it was just a water spout but we had several breach right by the boat, which I wasn’t happy about, with the full tail display. Whales are something we haven’t seen a lot of so it was a real treat. Of course as soon as I got the camera out they disappeared.
This was our second day sail and the anchorage in St Helena bay around from cape Columbine was our goal. As we were rounding the cape the wind piped up and we managed an hour of sailing. Unfortunately the wind kept building and by the time we got to the anchorage we had 30kts over the decks. There’s a fishing harbour in the bay and we anchored on the north side of the break water for shelter. The waypoint was 32 44.37S
018 01.06E
There was quite a good signal so I was able to have a nice chat with Thomas and pick up our messages. Once we leave the anchorage there will be no more facebook or internet for a while. The wind continued to blow most of the night and the forecast for continuing north wasn’t good. We had traveled 57 miles.
Day 3
By the morning the wind had gone but the forecast wasn’t good for our 3 day passage to Nimibia. We listened to cape town radio. Firstly they were giving fog warnings for the area we would be traveling through plus Bill had noted that by the end of our journey there would be strong winds blowing off the Nimibia coast. We spent several hours trying to decide what to do. Eventually we decided that we would miss Nimibia and go straight to St Helena. It was a shame but we didn’t want to continue north that day and we didn’t have the time to sit and wait in the anchorage for the weather to improve. The forecast might change again, they often do, but the decision was made and we motored back out around the cape towards St Helena. Once I put our waypoint in it gave us a distance of 1645 miles to go. ARRRGGGG.
Within an hour the sails were up and we were making speeds of 7 and 8kts over the ground with a beam reach in a F4 SSW wind. By 4pm the wind was up to F5 and Bill decided to put a reef in the main and pull in some of the genny but we were still cracking along at 8 to 8 1/2kts, at least a knot or so of this was current in our favour but the sea was very lumpy. For the cruisers behind us the area between the 200m and 300m contour lines had Indian ocean style ‘washing machine’ waves and our beautiful clean and salt free decks were soon bathed in sea water coming right across the decks. All hatches were closed, even the little cockpit one that we leave open for ventilation. As the sea was still only 15.2C, it was making the wind cold.

My lovely Giraffe socks - thank you Hailey

My lovely Giraffe socks – thank you Hailey

That evening to do my night watch I had on 3 top layers and 2 bottom layers plus my UGG boots, hat and mittens! The wind picked up to F6 by 9pm so neither of us got much sleep with the boat being throw around by the wind, sea and our speed. We choose not to put another reef in because the forcast showed the wind was going to die down in the early hours so we decided to stick it out. By 2am the wind started to drop and by 6am it was back to F4 and we both took it in turns to get a bit of sleep.
At 10.00 this morning our position was 31 20.6S 014 58.9E with 1459 miles to go to St Helena. In 24 hours we had traveled 186 miles, an average of 7.75 an hour, this is a new record for us beating our top speed in the Pacific ocean in 2010.
So the journey continues. I hope these blogs are going through to our facebook page but remember we can’t see facebook or your kind comments. If you wish to contact us please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (but take the gaps out) I love to hear from you. xx

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