Tobago Cays, Mayreau, Canouan and Union Islands.

Salt Whistle Bay from the top of the hill.

Our next stop 19nm to the South west of Mustique, was Salt Whistle Bay on the island of Mayreau. We had drinks and dinner at the “Last Bar before the Jungle”, a Rastafarian joint where you can also smoke pot.

Walking along the Salt Whistle beach before dinner.

Unlike Keith Richards, I was not climbing up to pick a coconut and fall on my head.

Salt Whistle Bay restaurant strip!

The last bar before the jungle.

The wind came up overnight and after heavy rain the next morning, we motored the mile south to the sheltered anchorage of Saline Bay. The anchor winch gypsy started slipping whilst we were anchoring, so after settling down, we stripped the winch, cleaned and serviced it, with a note in my diary, to do it again in 60 days. At sea, the salt buildup inside the anchor winch is substantial and needs constant cleaning.

View down to Saline Bay with Union Island in the background.

We walked to the highest point on the island, to orientate ourselves with the Tobago Cays which lies next to and to the east of Mayreau Island.

Walking down to the anchorage.

The unique Rastafarian architectural style.

The next morning we motored into the Cays through the South Passage and anchored between two small islands, Petit Bateau and Petit Rameau, which are located in the National Marine Park costing us EC$10/person/day. After a swim and relaxed Sunday afternoon Nanna nap, we tackled the walk to the crest of Petit Bateau to check the dinghy pass through Horseshoe reef.

Our anchorage between Petit Bateau and Rameau.

View from the top of Petit Bateau – Petit Tabac on the other side of the reef..

The dinghy pass through the reef led us out to sea, to do the short one mile hop to Petit Tabac Island, where there are good dive spots. Unfortunately, the swell coming out of the East resulted in huge breakers on the beach, ruling out a landing and the swells on the reef would have smashed us while snorkelling. So we bounced back in the dinghy, to safety inside the reef.

Petit Tabac out at sea – too rough to land.

The reefs inside the outer Horseshoe reef, are disappointing, but the water and sand is quite clear. In the afternoon the heavens opened and so we had to shelter from the tropical rain through the night. We picked up the anchor at 8:30 the next morning and motored out through the North Passage into a 30 knot wind on the nose, to Canouan Island 6 nm to the North and anchored in the sheltered Grand Bay.

A dinghy ride to the rough concrete ferry wharf, got us into Charlestown, which from a distance looked quite pretty, but up close, down at heel and dirty. Photos won’t do justice to the squalor. I spent the afternoon doing a long overdue service on the high pressure desalinator pump, replacing the oil and the filter. The strong easterly wind predicted  for Wednesday night the 12th August, hit us with force during the night, tearing the canvas infill panel over the cockpit – more repairs to be done when we get back to Bequia.

Grand Bay anchorage and Charlestown, at Canouan Island.

The wind settled down the next morning, so we had a relaxed sail down to Union Island, 11 nm to the South. Quacey, of Marine Tech Services in Clifton harbour came highly recommended as an outboard repair specialist, so we had him test our Suzuki 6hp dinghy outboard motor. The motor has for the past two months, just spun and cavitated at higher revs.

Clifton harbour anchorage at Union Island.

Quacey stripped the propellor and found that the rubber hub on the lower drive shaft had stripped and hence the prop slipped at higher revs. He didn’t have the correct prop or hub kit in stock, so he refitted the prop. Hopefully, we will find the correct parts soon – we just need to be patient about puttering around slowly.

Small bar on a rock in the bay.

Union Island history.

Quiet main street of Clifton.

Now we know where to run to in case of a tsunami.

Union, like Canouan and Mayreau, being smaller islands close to the Tobago Cays are totally dependant on tourism. Covid-19 has wiped out their small economies and the towns have hardly anybody on the streets, with the locals lazing about or fighting one another, zonked out on beer and ganja. It is quite a sad situation.

Our anchorage in Clifton Bay behind the reef – lots of kite boarding and Palm Island to the right.

Palm Island – we didn’t stop, as it is a private island.

Esprit’s track in the Grenadines.

On Saturday the 15th August, the wind changed to the South east providing us with a good apparent wind angle to sail back North to Bequia. We left Union Island at 9am and anchored off Jack’s Bar in Bequia at 2pm – in time for drinks and a BBQ at the Upper Deck at 5pm. On Monday we will check if my Visa renewal card has arrived at the Fedex agency. We will hopefully report from Grenada, in the near future, as Trinidad is still closed . Until then, cheers for now.

Bequia and Mustique.

Since our last post, all the major maintenance work on the boat had been completed: the sail and canvas work mentioned before, reinforcing of the framework for the solar panels over the bimini, stripping the stove and oven to replace broken door springs and treat corrosion and numerous smaller jobs.

No sooner could we sit back and relax, when tropical storm no. 7 started forming south of the Cape Verde Islands and moving across the Atlantic. On the 22nd July this storm was named “Gonzalo” by the US National Hurricane Centre, predicted to reach Bequia by midday on 25th July 2020.

Hurricane Gonzalo.

The cruisers anchored in Admiralty Bay, Bequia decided to have drinks on the beach on the 23rd, so that we could all worry together and talk about what to do. Quite a number of boats sailed south the following day and a few went north, as it appeared the centre of the hurricane was heading for Bequia.

A toast to Gonzalo.

This being our fourth hurricane since 1987 and having survived the previous three, gave us the misplaced confidence to think we knew how to deal with this one. So, we stayed put in Bequia, moving Esprit 400 metres to a buoy on the north side of the bay, stowing all loose items and crossing our fingers.

Alex the mooring man helping Annie to tie up to a buoy.

Luck was on our side, as 24 hours before reaching Bequia, the hurricane veered southwest and passed south of Grenada, leaving us with a 30 knot wind and heavy showers for an hour. We celebrated by having a hike across the hills to Friendship Bay and back – and the news that another system was already forming off Africa and heading for the Caribbean, faster this time!

A solid downpour.

Hurricane Issaias.

Hurricane Isaias came charging across the Atlantic, but on a more northerly course, hitting the Leeward Islands to the north of us and producing heavy rains in the rest of the Caribbean – most of the islands needing the rain. On Friday the 31st July 2020, Esprit was booked to be hauled out at Peakes Boatyard in Trinidad. The Trinidad borders are still closed, so, no do.

On the coastal track into town.

View from the coastal track across the bay.

Walk to Friendship Bay – a friendly dog at the bus stop.

Friendship Bay – life’s a beach.

Old Pretoria girls at Jack’s – Rowena and Annie.

Sunset at Jack’s jetty.

Life carried on in Bequia, with walks into town to get provisions, drinks at Jack’s with the sailors and Annie having an EC$30 haircut. I asked her to cut my hair, and either out of spite because I wouldn’t pay her, or because she thought I could audition for the new season of “Prison Break”, she cut my hair to within a millimetre of my life. I now wear a stylish Panama hat for the sun.

My free haircut.

Annie’s EC$30 haircut.

My sun protection.

The 1st to the 4th of August were public holidays in Bequia – Emancipation Day and Vincy Mas days. The party music was very loud on the Monday, so we decided to leave town and go and explore a bit further afield. We had a good sail down to Mustique, 14nm to the south east, where the friendly harbour master tied us to a mooring buoy. Not cheap at EC$220 for 3 days.

Anchored off the beach in Mustique.

The island is owned by the Mustique Company, a private limited company which is in turn owned by the island’s home owners. The island has around a hundred private villas, many of which are let through the Mustique Company. The name Mustique comes from the French moustique, “mosquito”, which thrive in the tropical environment of the Grenadine Islands.

Statue of Lord Glenconner.

Mustique was purchased from the Hazell family in 1958 for £45,000 by The Hon. Colin Tennant, who became The 3rd Baron Glenconner in 1983. He initially planned to start farming, “cotton, beef and mutton” but then decided to develop the island into a hideaway for the wealthy, after forming the Mustique Company in 1968 and spending a fortune on the project.

Two pretty shops in Mustique.

The Food store.

View out on the anchorage – Esprit the only yacht in the bay.

Today, the rich and famous holiday on the island, to name but a few: Tommy Hilfiger, Paul McCartney, Shania Twain, Tom Ford, Mick Jagger, Peter Lynch, Denzel Washington, John Travolta and Bryan Adams. We didn’t spot any celebrities during our hikes over three days around the island – only candidates for “Weight Watchers” tooling around in golf carts.

The rich and famous do need horses – picture Mick and Keiff on these fillies!

Walking to the south – a tortoise crossing.

On his way to a tortoise meeting.

Sea view.

Basil’s Bar, which is on the water’s edge and famous for its Blues Music Festival in January/February each year, is an excellent watering hole with good food. They hosted a “Jump Up” music session on the Thursday night we were there.

Basil’s Bar.

On the deck for sundowners.

The stage for the music events.

Annie having a rum punch and studying the dinner menu.

Our next report will be from the Tobago Cays!

St Lucia, St Vincent & Bequia.

Route: Martinique to Bequia.

After checking out of Martinique on Monday the 29th June 2020, we lifted anchor and sailed from Anse Caritan at midday. A light 12 – 15 knot easterly with a medium sea swell took us the 22 nm to St Lucia, where we anchored at 4 pm after a relaxed sail. St Lucia was still in lockdown, and there were only 20 other yachts in Rodney Bay – usually the bay would be packed with boats, particularly at the finish of the ARC rally across the Atlantic in January.

Enroute to St Lucia: Sargassum seaweed invading the Caribbean.

St Lucia: Entering Rodney Bay.

Rodney Bay: Almost deserted.

Similar conditions prevailed the next day, allowing us to sail down the west coast of St Lucia and visit beautiful Marigot Bay and the Pitons with hardly any yachts around, before anchoring at Vieux Fort on the southern tip of the island by mid afternoon. In fact, in two days of sailing we saw only two yachts underway, one north and one southbound – courtesy of Covid-19?

Motoring into Marigot Bay.

Beautiful Marigot Bay.

Marigot Bay village – almost deserted.

Sailing past the Pitons.

The 31 nm crossing to St Vincent was a repeat of two days before, with a medium swell and strong westerly current. We anchored in Chateaubelair bay with three other yachts for a quiet night and left at 5:30 am the next morning to sail the 14 nm to Young Island Cut, to tie up to a mooring buoy at 08:00 am.

Approaching mountainous St Vincent.

Anchored in Chateaubelair Bay.

Chateaubelair Bay sunset.

At 10:00 we went for our PCR Covid-19 tests, at USD 60 per person, USD 75 for the agent, USD 25 for Customs and USD 20 for the mooring = USD 240, to enter St Vincent and the Grenadines! The test results were emailed to us 28 hours later – both of us tested negative. Happy days!

Young Island offshore on the south side of St Vincent.

Boats awaiting Covid-19 testing in the Young Island Cut.

Annie’s PCR test.

Sometimes when your children work abroad, you try and picture these places. Karen has worked in hospitals in Cape Town, London and St Vincent. I was happy to discover that St Vincent is quite organised and civilised and not the ganja smoking Rastafarian Island I had imagined.

Leaving St Vincent for Bequia.

At 3 pm the next day, we cast off the mooring buoy in Young Island Cut and had a relaxed, short 9 nm sail to Bequia (pronounced Beckway), where we anchored in Admiralty Bay off the main town of Port Elizabeth, with a suburb called Pretoria – also historical and original city names in South Africa, but now renamed Nelson Mandela City and Tshwane, in the new improved SA.

Arriving at the dinghy jetty.

First stop in Bequia: the Frangipani restaurant for coffee.

View from Frangipani across Admiralty Bay.

Bequia is quite special and alluring, with some well preserved Victorian homes and quaint shops and restaurants. The island has its own flag which has a whale on it, because New Bedford whalers settled on the island way back. As a result Bequians became great boatbuilders – a craft that continues on through today. The whaling has pretty much come to an end. Following are some photos of Port Elizabeth.

The Whaleboner bar next to the Frangipani – showing their whaling history.

Grand old houses turned into upmarket accommodation.

Motoring into town long the shore.

View across the bay from Maria’s bar .

Local taxis are utes with bench seats at the back.

The harbour is busy with ferries coming and going.

Boat building has slowed down, but model boat building fills the gap.

This old house is in need of new timber shingles.

Another fixer upper.

This old Rastafarian uses his house as a notice board.

Youth dinghy sailing at the yacht club on Saturdays.

I was going to check out the Penthouse Pets, but Covid-19 has closed down the bar.

There was still no indication of Trinidad opening before their general elections in mid August, so we decided to have some of the work planned for Esprit, done here in Bequia. As a result our first week in Bequia was quite busy with getting quotes for canvas and stainless steel work, measurements done for a new mainsail boom bag, taking the mainsail, jib and bimini down for repairs and having a template made for a new canvas cover (chaps) for the dinghy.

The view from our anchorage to Jack’s bar and Princess Margaret beach.

Walking along Princess Margaret Bay.

Lower Bay.

Dinner at Mac’s pizza bar – really tasty pizzas!

The quaint local church.


The cruisers at anchor here, are quite active socially, with a radio net, walks, pot luck and music evenings and BBQ’s. Our first get together at the Open Deck Bar on the Saturday was quite a liquid affair, wiping out any attempt at doing the 14 km hike on Sunday morning. Annie, again ending up in the water after a late night failed gazelle like leap from the dinghy onto the boat.

Potluck BBQ at the Open Deck Bar.

A jam session at the Open Deck – great sound.

During the following week, we managed to get the repairs to the mainsail and the jib, as well as bimini canvas repairs done by Grenadine Sails in Bequia. They also made us a new boom mainsail bag and UV cover for the dinghy.

Calvin the master sewer, with the new dinghy cover he made.

Our new boom sail bag. The old one was totally knackered after 5 years.

The week was wrapped up with a climb up the mountain, for a great view down to Port Elizabeth, followed by sundowners and dinner at Jack’s Bar later in the day.

Our hiking group halfway up the mountain.

View down and across to Port Elizabeth, from the top.

Here we are at the top.

We still have some steel and aluminium welding to be done here in Bequia, so we plan to be here for a while before sailing further south in the Grenadines. Until later, keep well and safe wherever you are.


Annie and Dirk

Martinique: Final post.

Since our last post of 10th June, we spent more time in Martinique, while waiting for islands to the south of us, to open their borders. A large number of yachts departed to Grenada, where conditional entry with two weeks quarantine and Covid-19 testing on completion, was put in place.

On the 14th June we sailed north to Martinique’s capital, Fort de France, with “Nimrod” and “Purrr” for a change of scenery. We used the FdF anchorage as a base and rented a car to reach some trails on the island.

Sailing to Fort de France.

Passing Rocher du Diamant.

Our first 10 km hike was the Canal de Beauregard near St Pierre in the north. This 5km long irrigation canal, fed from the upper reaches of the Carbet river, was built by slaves in the 18th century. The canal clings to the side of the mountain and in sections near the end, has a sheer drop of hundreds of metres down into the valley of the Carbet river – absolutely breathtaking.

Start of the canal walk.

Far down below, the river and some farms.

Walking along.

Deceptive: the drop on the left is about 200m

Tall bamboo’s along the way.

A beer and lunch after the hike: Dirk and Chris.

The next hike was high up in the central mountains, to reach the Didier falls. This walk takes you through a 150m long tunnel. Afterwards, we visited the beautiful “Jardin de Belata”, a few km’s further up the valley. These gardens were established in 1982, by the horticulturist Jean-Philippe Thoze.

Start of the Didier Falls trail: Annie, Sue and Chris.

Lights on!

In the tunnel.

Reaching the weir where the water supply pipes for Fort de France start.

The first falls.

A swim to cool off, after the first leg.

The view from the top of the falls.

The entrance to the Belata gardens: Annie and Sue.

Majestic 40 year old palms.

View down the valley.

The tree top walk.

The girls on the rickety walkway.

A view from the tree top walk.

One of the amazing flowers.

Our last hike this week, was along the “Trace de Jesuits” a trail established by Jesuit priests along the Lorrain river. This walk is in the rainforests and lived up to its name – we walked back in the rain, on the way back to the car. 

Start of the Trace de Jesuits.

Following in the footsteps of the Jesuit priests.

Rain forest.

Back in Fort de France, we visited the Schoelcher library. This library was shipped from France after a Paris exhibition in the 19th century and rebuilt here piece by piece.

The Schoelcher library – much of the facade is made of cast iron elements.

We woke up on the 18th of June, to a dust storm blowing in from the Sahara, over thousands of miles of Atlantic Ocean. We thought we had seen the last dust storms in Egypt and Cyprus. The dust blanketed out the sun for three days. With the following rain, our boats looked like they had a mud bath.

A surprise awaited us when we tried to start the engine to sail to Anse Mitan at the three islands, to join a group of friends for lunch on Saturday the 21st. The 5-year old engine battery died suddenly, as they sometimes do. We motored back to Fort de France on the Monday and bought and installed a new 70A/h starter battery, before sailing to Petite Anse d’Arlets in the south.

Lunchtime with beautiful ladies: Sue, Annie, Annie and Suzanne.

And their beau’s: Charlie, Marc and Chris.

In Petite Anse d’Arlets, we joined Chris and Sue Jones on “Nimrod” for their 20th wedding anniversary dinner and party, with these yachties – a jolly evening and a late night affair, with lots of dancing. 

Chris and Sue Jones, celebrating 20 years of marriage.

These Frenchie’s can dance: Annie and Marc.

Pole dancing at 2 am!

Word reached us that St Vincent and the Grenadine islands to the south, will accept yachts from the end of June, subject to an application submission and a Covid-19 test on arrival, which if negative, will allow the crew to enter after 24 hours. We immediately submitted our application online and got approval on the 25th of June. We sailed back to our previous anchorage at St Anne to do our laundry and check out of Martinique on Monday the 29th June 2020. So, here we go at last, after an unplanned four months in lovely Martinique, to travel south to St Lucia and on to St Vincent and the Grenadines. We’ll keep you posted – until then, Cheerio!

Martinique: Take 5.

A walk with Matt and Kristina was planned for Wednesday the 20th May, but Annie woke up with a sore knee, so we had to cancel it – just as well, because it rained just about the whole day. Thursday and Friday were the Abolition of Slavery public holidays in Martinique, so we managed to do some walks. The Saturday evening we had another music evening with Helmut on SV Kepasa.

Dirk, Kristina and Matt.

Young bikers on the trail.

Annie and mangrove roots.

On the Sunday, after 10 weeks at anchor, Esprit’s hull looked like a veritable vegetable garden. I worked away in the swell to clean the starboard side of the hull, in the process getting covered by dislodged water lice, resulting in bites similar to blue bottle stings. Copious applications of “Stingose” and anti histamine tablets got the burning under control after 3 hours.

Boredom was getting the better of us, so on Monday the 25th May we rented a car for three days to travel the island and get some retail therapy. The first day we visited Decathlon, the amazing sports goods store near Fort de France, followed by Mr Bricolage (like an Australian Bunnings, Plus) hardware store opposite, and finished with the Hyper U store nearby, for provisions.

Enroute – here comes the rain. (beehives in the foreground)

The next day was the sight see and exercise day. We did an eight km hike in the Caravelle nature reserve halfway up the East coast and got thoroughly drenched in a heavy 30 minute downpour. We then drove up to Mt Pelee in the North (see our first post on St Pierre in Martinique). This is the volcano that destroyed the town of St Pierre in 1902.

Mt Pelee before it clouded over.

The view to the south.

When we  reached the start of the 2 km track up to the caldera of the volcano, the sky was clear, but 5 minutes later, the clouds came in, making the hike a non starter. Matt quickly launched his drone to give us a view of the caldera, but the clouds were too fast as the drone disappeared out of view, before returning to base. We got back to St  Anne well after dark.

A: Come on – let’s walk up to the top! D: Are you talking to me?

Cut it-out! –  and smile for the camera.

On day 3 we did more shopping in Le Marin, at the Leader Price supermarket for food and wine, as we were told that wine is expensive further south. After returning the car to the hire company, I cleaned the port side of Esprit’s hull, with Matt helping me clean the sail drive leg, keel and rudder. (Being 30 years younger, he can free dive for up to 4 minutes)

On Thursday we moved Esprit about a km south to Caritan beach, where the water was calmer, so we managed to do some maintenance and scrubbing the green waterline clean on the Friday. Saturday was laundry day and in the evening, Helmut had 35 dinghies tied up to Kepasa for his concert. We were pleasantly surprised when first, Michelle and later Karen, called us on WhatsApp, for the first time in weeks! (all good on their side).

Chris and Sue Jones from London, on their catamaran Nimrod, joined us for drinks on Esprit on the Sunday evening. Interestingly, there are not many English speaking boats anchored here, with the majority of the boats from France and Europe. Also, it is encouraging to see how many of these boats are sailed by young couples or families in their 30’s and 40’s, making us old farts almost unique in this part of the world.

Kasia, Marcin and their son Vincent from White Dog.

Monday the 1st of June has arrived and so far only Grenada to the north of Trinidad has opened it’s harbours to yachts that have reservations at their marinas, subject to a 14 day on board quarantine period and testing afterwards. A lot of yachts have left Martinique to take up that option.

June 1st – the sunset has moved north from the small island on the left, in the time we have been here.

We are still waiting for news from the other islands to the south of us, as we only have to be in Trinidad by the end of July – weather permitting. No sign of potential hurricanes forming in the eastern Atlantic at this stage, but we are ready to move south at short notice. In the meantime we carry on walking.

Walking group having a rest.

Chris and Sue – serious hikers.

The easing of restrictions now allows us unlimited walking (also on the beaches) and socialising in groups of up to 10 people. Sailing between Martinique and Guadeloupe to the north (both French islands) is also permitted. We already have spent some time on Guadeloupe on the way here, so won’t do that.

Picnic with French, UK, Canadian and US sailors.

Sunset view from our picnic.

By the 9th of June we have been anchored her in St Anne for 12 weeks, but with the exception of Grenada to the south (see the map) none of the of the islands have opened up. We have heard that the anchorage in Grenada is overflowing with boats allowed to enter, as a result of bookings in marinas.

Windward islands.

Expats from Cape Town – John, Annie and Dirk.

Beautiful flowering tree.

Passing the stations up to the church on the hill.

View from the church.

Drinks with French Annie, Dirk, Chris and Charlie.

We will carry on walking, travelling and socialising on this beautiful island, as we have made many new friends here. An approaching hurricane, or islands opening up will see us moving south, but until then we leave you with photos of our lives here on the island. Until then, cheers and stay safe!

That’s us.

Another beautiful sunset.


Martinique: Take 4.

On Friday the 8th May the Cruisers Net informed us that the French government decided to relax the quarantine conditions as follows: All shops and businesses except restaurants and bars can now open from Monday the 11th. People can also meet in groups of up to 10 (with social distancing), walk more and travel up to 100 km on Martinique. There was no news from other islands and no other borders have been opened.

Annie making our masks.

Also, on the 8th May, Michelle our younger daughter, turned 30 and we had a WhatsApp video call to wish her well. We were sorry that we could not be in Sydney. How the time marches on – it feels like yesterday when this noisy baby, looking like Charles Bronson with a head of black hair, arrived in our lives. She has been a challenge and a pleasure since. See Shell’s 30th Birthday Video compiled by her friends from around the world – mostly from the UK, where she has lived for 5 years:

Michelle’s birthday cake.

The 15th May 2020 marked four years since we sailed out of Sydney on this adventure. It gave us the chance to reflect on how much we have seen and learned in the four years. We have heard statements like “You are so lucky to do this”. We don’t agree – it takes a lot of planning and hard work to do this. Had it been easy, a lot more people would be doing it. Doing this, also has the advantage of keeping our brains and bodies active.

That could be me!

It was almost five years since we saw the photo above of a Sun Odyssey 439 in the Jeanneau catalogue and I thought, but didn’t tell Annie: “Yesss! That could be me! (Before I started growing sideways instead of lengthwise). And here we are, still enjoying the experience and looking forward to our next year in the Pacific Ocean. The Covid-19 pandemic has tied us down in Martinique for two months, but hey, it could be worse.

Walking south to Caritan.

Arriving at the beach in Caritan.

Walking back to St Anne.

Annie having a rest.

Remy and Annie.

Illogical as it may seem, the relaxed Covid-19 rules allows us unlimited walking with no attestation approval required, but, not on the beaches! We have crisscrossed the roads and tracks on land for exercise and decided we would take a chance and walk on the deserted beaches, which are really pretty. We came across one other person, Remy from Bordeaux, who with his dad sailed a sister ship, a Jeanneau 419, from France to the Caribbean. They plan to transit Panama into the Pacific next year. Our list of buddy boats is growing!

St Anne’s statue celebrating the abolition of slavery.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning the yachties around Martinique listen in and contribute, on VHF radio to the “Martinique Cruisers Net”, to keep themselves up to date with the latest news and developments. This is expertly run by Steve in English and Patrice in French. This has been expanded to musical quiz evenings on Friday nights, covering Jazz, Classical and Rock, run by John and Les from Cape Town – I wish my friend Jim was here to help me with the quiz. Sunday nights we have a general quiz evening hosted by our American friends.

Helmut on guitar.

…and on saxophone.

Last Saturday night we had the talented Helmut from Kiel on “Kepasa” host a live show, playing the saxophone and guitar with vocals. We were tied up with a whole bunch of dinghies behind his Bavaria 44, drinking and singing along. He had been quiet for a month since his last show, due to a severe cold, but is now back in form. We look forward to another show this coming Saturday. See these links for the video’s:

We slightly overdid our walking, with a hike to Pointe Dunkerque on Saturday and on Sunday, with a long hike to Anse Meunier, Petite and Grand Anse des Salines. We got back footsore at lunchtime on Sunday after an early morning start, had a swim and a Nanna nap before we had guests over for sundowners.

Setting out under the trees.

The mangroves behind Anse Meunier.

Petite Anse des Salines.

Fever tree.

The route is well signposted.

Grande Anse des Salines.

An hour and a half after starting: a selfie.

Annie had to carry on walking to the end of the bay!

So, I took a rest.

Heading back to St Anne.

Mountain bikes by the dozen passed us.

There is no news yet about the borders between the islands opening, so we sign off with the hope that next time we will report on us leaving Martinique after 10 weeks to the islands further south. Until then, we leave you with a photo received from our girls in Australia – they seem to be having fun. Cheerio!

Karen and Michelle.

Martinique: Take 3.

As previously reported, on the 17th March 2020, the island of Martinique in the Caribbean, introduced a compulsory quarantine for all persons on land and at anchor, to contain the Covid-19 virus. Not much news is available for our blog, so bear with us as we cobble together some photos of the lovely village of Sainte Anne, it’s surrounds and it’s anchorage, to keep you informed about our quiet existence.

Sunset from our anchorage at Sainte Anne, Martinique.

On April 6th 2020, at the end of our week 3 in quarantine, Juliette and Guerric, while delivering our baguettes, eggs and croissants, informs us that the Prefect of Martinique is thinking of extending the quarantine to the end of April – we will know during the next week.

Juliette and Guerric.

I received the email meme below, from a South African friend: It was also Founders Day in SA, as Jan van Riebeeck landed in Table Bay on the 6th April 1652, to establish a re-victualling station for the Dutch East India Company at the Cape of Good Hope. I was born 295 years later at the foot of Devil’s Peak, behind JvR, in the painting.

Van Riebeeck meets the locals.

On Esprit, life carried on, albeit slowly and a bit boring, with mostly reading and swimming around the boat to keep us occupied – all the boat maintenance items were up to date. Three days earlier, Annie was politely asked by the Maritime Police not to paddle board amongst the boats in the anchorage.

Annie cleaning the deck.

Annie working out on the clean deck.

We celebrated our wedding anniversary on the 10th April – quietly. With our girls’ emails of good wishes, came the news that Michelle was now working for the UN Women remotely online, doing policy writing and advocacy on Gender Based Violence and Covid-19, while waiting for her deployment to PNG, whenever the Covid-19 pandemic will allow this. Karen was still working her butt off in orthopaedic surgery at the John Hunter hospital.

Our wedding anniversary – still alive.

On Monday the 13th April, Emmanuel Macron the president of France announced that the lockdown in France and its territories has been extended to the 11th May 2020. This includes Martinique, but the date may be reviewed during, or at the end of this period. Bonjour St Anne – once again! Tuesday the 14th marks one month in quarantine for us, with another month to go.

A quiet afternoon in St Anne – we drop off the rubbish and go to the supermarket.

Rubbish separation.

Walking back to the jetty with our groceries.

We are getting concerned with the time left to us, to get out of the Caribbean hurricane zone, by the beginning of June. We were planning to reach Trinidad, which is outside the hurricane zone, by the 1st June and we have a booking at Peakes Boatyard in Trinidad to have Esprit hauled out on the 15th June, for 3 months. With most of the windward islands to the south of us still in lockdown, it may be quite a rush to get there in time.

Cat 5 Hurricane tracks 1851 to 2018. Martinique is to the north of Trinidad, slap in the middle of the tracks!

We had completed our travel plans on land for the 3 months, to visit Cuba for a week. Then a road trip from Florida to North Carolina to visit friends, before travelling to New Orleans and then on to Guatemala and southern Mexico to visit the ancient Aztec sites. Fortunately, we haven’t booked airline tickets yet and will have to see what the Covid-19 situation allows us in terms of travel.

On the 16th April we got French attestation documents, allowing us to go for one hour walks in St Anne. We used the first opportunity to walk 4.5km to a fruit and veg stall to buy fresh stuff and on the way back stop at a small shop to get wine, beer and groceries.

We may now walk for exercise!

Mural on the way to the Fruit & Veg.

Another mural towards the church.

Mural detail.

Beautiful colours along the road.

At the Fruit and Veg stall.

So happy to be on land – my princess hugs a palm tree.

With this new document, we wanted to make the most of it, without putting anyone at risk with Covid-19. We ventured forth again the next day doing another 5km walk in solitude, enjoying the lovely scenery, before going back to the boat. We were knackered after a month of inactivity, so we hit the water to cool down and then relax for the rest of the afternoon.

The town beach.

Murals to brighten up the street.

Religious statue

Out of town, walking past Brahman cattle.

The road back to town.

Matt, our Aussie neighbour on “Yotty”, is a keen diver and from time to time brings us some crayfish from his catch. He also helped me strip the lower leg gearbox of our outboard, to try figure out why the engine revs go up, but the prop revs stay the same. We can’t work this out, but the owners manual mentions the “over-revolution limiting system” which must be checked by a Suzuki dealer. That will be done in Trinidad when we get there.

A crayfish pressie from Matt.

The next milestone was my 73 birthday on the 28th April. Our neighbours on both sides, Kristina, Matt, Kasia and Martin join us on Esprit to quietly celebrate with drinks (A hurricane action plan meeting, if the cops turn up). A news item around this time, quoted Brian May, astrophysicist and lead guitarist of Queen, saying that us baby boomers are now old and vulnerable. I do a Google search for old age homes in Sydney.

Happy birthday!

Annie and Matt.

Martin, Kasia and Kristina.

Next morning – this quarantine thing makes you thirsty!

To quote my friend Trena: “When this is over…what meeting do I attend first…Weight Watchers or AA?”

News on the Martinique cruisers net, on the same date, is that the quarantine period here and in Trinidad has been extended to the middle of May. So, we bid you adios – we will do an update in a fortnight.

Martinique: Take 2.

The Covid-19 lockdown in Martinique, announced by the prefect of this French prefecture in the Caribbean, came into effect at 12:00 on the 17th March 2020 whilst we were in Petite Anse on the West coast of Martinique. We were able to stock up with provisions at Le Marin, 15 nm to the South east, the following day. St Anne, a bay to the south of Le Marin offered good shelter, so we anchored here the following day, with about 350 other boats. This would be our anchorage for the next 14 days – or so we thought.

St Anne beach and anchorage.

We managed to go ashore for a walk down the beach on the 20th of March and realised that these measures were more serious than we thought, when a police boat ordered everybody off the beach and back to their boats. The maritime police were out early the next day, recording all the boat names and their positions by cameras and drones. It was announced that we would incur a EU135 fine if we visited other boats, so quarantine was a reality.

Week 1: I started the water maker and made 350l of water to fill the water tanks and 100l to do our washing. Annie disinfected all the surfaces we touch, inside the boat and on deck and also cleaned all the stainless steel work. I checked all the fixings and made a hull scraper for the copious growth of barnacles and green stuff on the hull. Three days of scraping barnacles and marine growth from the hull, rudder and waterline followed. We quietly swapped books with Matt and Kristina on “Yotty”, another Aussie boat.

My new barnacle scraper.

VHF channel 68 is the communication link for our anchorage. Daily, we hear accents from around the world, Australia, New Zealand, UK, South Africa and other languages like French, Italian, German, Russian etc., exchanging advice on maintenance, routes, etc.

Michelle’s new job.

The UN informed Michelle our daughter that her 10 month posting to PNG has been put on hold, in fact, all UN personnel in PNG are being repatriated to Australia. Having sold her car the week before, she moves into Karen’s house in Newcastle, taking on the posts of cook, housemaid, gardener and setting up a bar on Karen’s back porch.

The Cock “tail” bar.

Week 2: The authorities announced that the quarantine/self isolation period in Martinique is extended by two weeks until the 15th April. We follow the reports of the cases worldwide with shock and note that Martinique has 80 reported cases of Covid-19 and one death to date. This is small compared to China, Italy and the USA, but worth the quarantine effort. Fortunately, we have good mobile phone and data reception to stay abreast of the news.

St Anne anchorage.

Annie’s reading position.

In our beautiful anchorage, we read many books, swim a lot, Annie paddle boards and do her exercises every day. I make an effort to brush my teeth before midday. A big event occurs when a huge stingray jumps out of the water. Also, some really big turtles are swimming around the boat and looking at us inquisitively. We receive very funny emails from around the world, trying to put a humorous spin on the quarantine lifestyle.


Hmmm again.

I listen to Jim Petrie’s extensive collection of music which he kindly downloaded for me in Cape Town, 14 months ago. I enjoy the Aussie legends, the artist previously known as Johnny – John Farnham, Jimmy Barnes, Ian Moss, Joe Camilleri and the Black Sorrows – and the many artists we have listened to at the Manly Boat Shed, the Basement and other venues in Sydney. At sunset each evening, a talented saxophonist on a nearby boat plays his instrument to big applause from the surrounding boats – we have become a village.

Our milk cartons.

My own lame effort at humour occurs when I look at our milk carton one morning, thinking about the Bovine community. Picture these bulls looking at their “Playbull” magazine, lusting after this “Playcow” of the month.

Each morning a lovely young couple, Juliette and Guerric (Licensed Artisans Gourmands) comes around on their rubber duck with their masks, gloves and disinfectant, offering delicious warm baguettes and croissants, fresh fruit and veg, beer and wine for sale. We support them, saving us the risk and effort to motor out to the supermarket. Alcohol consumption increases and each evening at 8pm, the fleet at anchor blows their foghorns and this cacophony grows over time as pots and pans for drums, join the foghorns.

At the end of March, the start of week 3 of quarantine, I do my daily check of the daily Covid-19 data and note with shock that worldwide cases have doubled to over 800,000 in two weeks, with nearly 40,000 deaths. Martinique’s cases increased from 80 and one death to 119 and two deaths over the same period. We may have to stay here longer than the 15th April! We will keep you posted. Stay safe everyone!

Caribbean Windward Islands: Martinique and COVID-19

Map of Martinique.

St Pierre from our anchorage.

Saint Pierre, our first anchorage in Martinique, used to be the capital of this French Island. In 1902, a massive eruption of Mount Pelee to the north of the town, destroyed the town, killing the approximately 27,000 inhabitants and setting alight and sinking a number of large ships in the anchorage. Legend has it that one man, Cyparis, survived the extreme heat inside the thick walls of his prison cell, albeit with his skin, medium to well done.

The theatre remains with Mt Pelee in the background.

The excavated remains of the grand entrance to the theatre.

The main street – down at heel.

Reconstruction has been slow and more than a hundred years later, St Pierre still has a down at heel look. We spent three days walking the length and breadth of the town to look at the remnants of buildings and visit the impressive museum, documenting the event.

View from the museum down to the anchorage.

The local council decorates the ruins with photos of people in the community.

The reconstructed church.

A church bell from the original church in the museum.

The fresh fruit and veg market on the Saturday was excellent, so we stocked up before sailing south on Sunday the 8th March.

The busy Saturday market.

The reconstructed council offices with tourist information on the ground floor.

We anchored 2 nm south of the capital Fort de France, at a lovely bay, Anse Mitan in the Trois Ilets (three islets). It was here that Josephine, the wife of Napoleon was born in 1763 – the ruins of her family’s house and sugarcane farm can be visited ashore, if you are interested.

The anchorage at Anse Mitan.

The main beach from the jetty.

We had the young couple on the Hanse 44 next us for coffee, Cedric and Gloria from France and Colombia respectively, now living in Sydney. Interesting the number of people in their thirties, kicking up the ratrace, buying a boat and living the dream. Our Aussie flag facilitates contact with a lot of sailors.

The new Creole Village Shops – almost like a stage set.

The courtyard.

After four days we did the quick two mile crossing to Fort de France to anchor next to the huge fort. We were impressed by this bustling big city with its modern buses, running in dedicated bus lanes – in fact, their traffic management overall, would be a good example for Sydney. We used the buses to shop at the massive Mr Bricolage (Bunnings plus), Decathlon, the giant French sportswear chain, Galleries de Lafayette and the Carrefour Hypermarket.

Anchored next to the Fort de France.

Our French neighbour – the boatname “Plankton” seems appropriate.

Bendy bus. (Kevin, this beauty takes 144 passengers)

The Fort de France cathedral, destroyed five times by earthquakes, hurricanes and fires, was finally rebuilt in steel frames with concrete infill panels and has been standing since 1895. The interior is beautiful despite the industrial looking steelwork.

The cathedral.

The interior.

Since arriving in St Pierre, the early evening ambience has been disturbed by candidates in the upcoming elections exhorting the electorate to vote for them, via car mounted loudspeakers cranked up to max. Remembering the scenes described by a friend who was in Jamaica forty years ago at election time, when the machetes came out to settle scores with the opposing candidates, we reluctantly accepted the noise.

Victor Schoelcher who fought for the abolition of slavery.

Waiting for Annie, I spotted this metre long frilled-neck lizard in the tree above me.

We departed Fort de France after four days as the cacophony of three candidates shouting within sight of one another, became too much. We sailed further south to Grande Anse, a small town where the candidates couldn’t expect many votes, resulting in quieter evenings.

Grande Anse village beach.

Grande Anse anchorage.

Walking along the beach.

The ladies doing yoga on their boards.

We used this stop to do some walks in the bush along the shore to Petite Anse about 5 km further south, to get what Annie calls cardio vascular exercise and I call cardio vulgaris. After a beer on the beach, it was a long walk back to Grande Anse.

Looking down to Grande Anse.

Annie, Bundu bashing.

At last – after 2.5 hours, Petite Anse.


Reports from Australia informed us that supermarket shelves were stripped bare of toilet paper and other essentials as a result of the Coronavirus fear. It is not clear whether people are sh1tting themselves in fear of contracting the virus, or whether the virus causes diarrhoea. OK, I know the virus pandemic is real and can be lethal for older people or those with low immunity, but I cannot understand the logic of this panic buying of toilet paper. In the same vein, Michelle our daughter sent me the quip below, taking the Mickey out of Aldi stores, my favourite supermarket group in Australia.

Michelle’s update on supermarkets.

Petite Anse looked good, so we motored around the headland to anchor there and enjoy the crystal clear water, snorkeling and beach walks.

Petite Anse.

The pretty church.


The bakery sells very tasty bread.

Colourful Creole buildings.

More colour.

Reading on the beach after a swim.

COVID-19: The French Government issued a proclamation that as from 12:00, Tuesday the 17th March 2020, the French Islands in the Caribbean will be in lockdown for 14 days to try to prevent the disease from spreading, even though the number of cases are small, compared to the rest of the world. We were on the beach at Petite Anse, relaxing and reading, when at 12:00, the police requested all people to leave the beach in terms of the proclamation.

Petite Anse beach minutes before being closed.

The following day we motored to Le Marin, quite a big city, 15 nm to the south east. Annie and I went to the two big supermarkets, Carrefour and Leader Price to stock up with a few essentials, as we were running low on some items. 

Le Marin town anchorage.

There were short queues outside each store, as the proclamation limited the number of customers to 20 in a store at any time. We were allowed entry after a 5 minute wait, and were surprised to find the shelves fully stocked, with customers doing their weekly small shop and none wheeling out trolley loads of toilet paper – all very civilised.

Boats in Le Marin.

The sheltered lagoon of Le Marin was choc a bloc with boats (We estimated about 300), but the water quality wasn’t suitable for our water maker. So, after stocking up, we motored 2 nm to the outer bay, to anchor at St. Anne. Guess what? – to anchor with 355 other boats (Annie counted them from the hill in town), caught here in Martinique.

The anchorage from the hill above St Anne.

St Anne town – very quiet.

A walk on the beach – not too shabby.

We can’t sail further south to St Lucia, or St Vincent and the Grenadines, as these islands are also closed and require a 14 days quarantine for arriving boats. Of all places, beautiful Martinique is the best place to be isolated in for 14 days! We are having sundowners with some Aussies tonight and will update you once we are allowed to sail south. In the meantime, stay safe and wash your hands after opening this post. Cheers.

Route Caribbean.
























Guadeloupe to Martinique

Our route through the Leeward islands.

Guadeloupe is composed of two islands in the shape of a butterfly, separated by a narrow river/waterway. The western island is called Basse-Terre. The route along the West coast of Basse-Terre is the beaten track for cruising sailors. A fluency in French is extremely helpful, although not absolutely necessary. The culture is very different from the English speaking islands to the North and south and much more laid back. Guadeloupe is part of France and the currency is the Euro.

Deshaies town from our anchorage.

Our first stop was in the North west of the island at Deshaies (pronounced Deh Heh) on Wednesday the 12th February, where we tied up to the free mooring buoys for yachts. The town is a quaint and laid back fisherman’s village with a number of nice restaurants. Checking in on a computer at the police station was a breeze and took 10 minutes.

Deshaies scenes: The church.

A small shop.

The graffiti is almost acceptable.

People lining up for the music festivities.

A few km above Deshaies is the Deshaies Botanical Gardens. We walked up, about an hour uphill and about 40 minutes down. The gardens are extensive and well worth the visit, despite the EU15 entry fee per person.

The botanical gardens entry.

The huge koi pond.

Colourful parrots.

Look at the birdie.

My flower in her element.


Usually, I look like a rhapsody in old anchor ropes – today it’s old roots.

Beautiful orchids.

View down to our anchorage.

Guadeloupe has a bus service that covers the entire island and is inexpensive. We used this to explore the island and visit a shopping centre at Destrellan, where Annie had some retail therapy. We met quite a number of sailors in the anchorage with similar itineraries as our own, which resulted in numerous sundowners for “planning”. We will no doubt see them along the way to Panama. We enjoyed the town, people and lush green environment so much, we ended up staying for a week.

Waiting for the bus to Destrellan – while the chickens cross the street.

A friendly baby pelican on the dock.

Our next anchorage was only 9 nm south at Malendure, behind Pigeon Island, in the Cousteau Marine Park, where there were excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities. An added surprise was that about 40 metres from the dinghy anchorage, we found an excellent laundromat and a further 50 m on, a Carrefour supermarket. Lugging our shopping in backpacks and trolleys, usually requires at least a half an hour trek.

View from our mooring buoy at Pointe Coquelet, Terre de Haut.

After two nights at Malendure we had a relaxed 23 nm sail to the Iles des Saintes (the Saints Islands), where we picked up a mooring buoy at Pointe Coquelet on the island of Terre de Haut. These buoys weren’t free, as this a very popular destination for cruisers. We thought Guadeloupe was fantastic, but these islands are exceptional. There is this “joie de vivre” quality that adds to the beauty of the place – impromptu parades with drummers and musicians dancing down the narrow streets, with the tourists joining in.

The rhythm section.

The dancers having a break.

Cute little miss.

Trainee drummers.

Lovely teenagers.

Kid’s heaven.

The fruit salad group.

Our first day was a challenge for me, as Annie insisted on climbing up to Fort Napoleon above the town – serious cardiovascular stuff, approaching a heart attack. The next day was more relaxed, exploring the town on the level, stopping for coffees and croissants.

My drill master at Fort Napoleon.

View down to town from the fort.

On the Sunday, we had bright sunny conditions, which galvanised us into action to do some canvas waterproofing work. After almost four years of wear and tear, the spray dodger, bimini and infill panel leaks like sieves into the cockpit and on to us, when it rains. I had read an article about mixing a cartridge of silicone sealant with a litre of white spirits, to make a good waterproofing mixture for canvas work. It takes a while to dissolve the silicone in the spirits, to get a paint consistency, then you brush it on to saturate the canvas. The white spirits takes about 15 minutes to evaporate, leaving the silicone in the fabric and voila! Hopefully waterproof. I will report back after the first rain!

The following day – view from the town mountain across to Ilet a Cabrit.

View down to Terre de Haut.

One of the colourful characters of Terre de Haut.

A Creole house.

A Creole restaurant.

The waterfront.

Terre de Haut church.

Street food.

We second that!

In the meantime we explored the island and adjoining islands which were only a dinghy ride away, snorkelling and climbing up to Fort Josephine and the Sugar Loaf. We had a good rain downpour four days later and the waterproofing of the canvas worked a treat – we’ll see how long it lasts.

Annie paddle boarded to the small island of Ilet a Cabrit to visit Fort Josephine.

Fort Josephine.

View down from the fort.

Paddling past Pain de Sucre.

We ended up spending 10 days in Terre de Haut before enjoying a brisk 21 nm sail to Portsmouth on the North west coast of Dominica. Quite a nice anchorage with good phone/internet reception. Our next anchorage was at Sibouli, a mile south of Roseau the capital, on the South west corner of Dominica. English is the official language of Dominica, but Dominican Creole, based on French, is widely spoken.

Portsmouth anchorage.

A beautiful four master anchored off Portsmouth.

Dominica is especially vulnerable to hurricanes as the island is located in what is referred to as the hurricane region. More recently, in 1979, Hurricane David, in 2007, Hurricane Dean, in 2015, Tropical Storm Erika and in 2017 Hurricane Maria struck the island, the latter causing losses of approximately US$ 930 million or 226% of Dominica’s GDP. The island is very green and is a coffee producer, but has very few beaches and hence, little tourism.

Sibouli anchorage, Dominica.

Back in Australia, our daughter Karen, recently returned from Cuba and South America, informed us that she has bought herself a house in the historic old part of Newcastle, where she works at the John Hunter Hospital. Newcastle is about two hours north of Sydney. Welcome to the world of mortgages my girl!


We had a good 33 nm sail south to Martinique and anchored at Saint Pierre on the 4th March, in the north west of the island. This French island has a lot to see and we will make that the subject of our next post. Until then, cheers!

Esprit’s route in the Caribbean.