Blog update Saturday 29th January 2011

Brian & Loretto Linehan
Sat 29 Jan 2011 22:06
Apologies to those of you who have been patiently logging into our website
for an update only to be disappointed again, and again etc.

Well I left you in US Virgin Islands where we awaiting the arrival of the
Californian branch of the Linehan family. Well finally, tired but happy
to have arrived they found places for their bags on the boat and, after a
refreshing swim in the pool at the marina (a perk of the IGY marina), we
left and sailed back to the Sound on Virgin Gorda and anchored close near
the Bitter End Yacht Club.

We stayed there for two nights as the weather was not great but Aengus,
Liz & Amy found time to go for a run (which turned out to be more like a
hike) and they all swam from the boat, joined by Cliona & Ciara. It was
really nice to be able to share our experiences with family and I think
they enjoyed themselves. The other nights were spent anchored at Marina
Cay and Roadtown, and then on the last night (new years eve) we stayed at
the Nanny Cay marina. The days were spent sailing, swimming - we brought
them over to Jost Van Dyke to see Sandy Cay which was the beautiful,
typical golden sandy small island which we first encountered on our way
down from the USA. The waves were too big to bring the dingy ashore, so
after taking up a mooring buoy Brian brought Aengus & family & Cliona
halfway there and they swam the rest of the way ashore. Getting back was
a bit more fun! (read difficult).

New years eve was spent in the marina where we had hoped to eat at the
restaurant but it was fully booked out so we bbqed a leg of lamb and saw
in 2011 quite quietly.

New years day we headed back to St Thomas as they had to return back to
San Jose that afternoon. We anchored in the bay and Brian brought them
ashore in the dingy - not sure how wet they got as it was quite choppy.

Anchoring vs marina - you may have noticed that we spend more time at
anchor than in marinas. This is basically a cost thing - they can be very
expensive - $2.65 a foot per night at the IGY in St Thomas (we are 68ft) -
so the cost of a hotel room without all the benefits but at least St
Thomas has some benefits - pool, good security, garbage collection and the
staff all go round in golf buggies which you can call to help to bring
down provisions to the boat if you do a big shop. They also have a
shopping complex with all the nice names, Gucci, Hilfigger etc (nice to
window shop) and some nice pubs and restaurants (Grand Cru is really
good)Nanny Cay is good too - lovely pool with kiddies pool also, nice
poolside bar and restaurant and also a little cheaper than IGY in St
Thomas. But where there is the choice we usually take the anchorage path
as it is free (usually - except in St Martin & St Barths) and once it is
reasonably calm it is very good. The only downside is having to go ashore
in the dingy. I am getting used to that but it is still sometimes a very,
very wet ride and you don't get dressed up much as good clothes would take
a hammering if there is even a little chop. Unfortunately I cannot use
the dingy as I cannot start the engine - slight problem there! As I
cannot even start the lawnmower at home this is not surprising. I will
just have to work on developing my upper arm strength and you never know I
may surprise myself(and Brian) one day.

Back to our travels. After Aengus & co went we stayed at anchor in St
Thomas harbour for a couple of days. Starbound were in the marina also
and they came to the boat for dinner one night and we joined them for
dinner at Grand Cru, one of the marina restaurants. It was really, really
nice - good company, good food, good service and nice ambiance. It was a
big change from any other restaurant we went into in the BVIs where it was
very expensive for even glorified bar food which was awful.

Leaving St Thomas we sailed back to the BVIs and headed to Anegada. This
is a flat island which is surrounded almost completely by a coral reef.
Long the home of pirates and ship wreckers (great takings on ships
battered on the reef I am sure), there are a small number of
hotels/restaurants which, according to the guide books, offer really good
fish - arrive before 12 noon, order and your meal is waiting for you that
evening - bespoke dining! As we approached we were totally amazed at the
colour of the water. Now I know I have raved about the blue, the azure,
the clear waters we have occasionally come across but this was something
else. Clear, blue, azure, turquoise, aquamarine (the thesaurus cannot
even do it justice) - it was absolutely, gobsmackingly stunning.

Unfortunately our hopes for dining out that night came to a quick end when
we realised we could not get through the break in the reef. Supposedly
deep enough at one stage we had a foot between us and the bottom of the
ocean so it was a quick turnaround (very gently) and we backed away. We
did put down the anchor in about 30ft of water and the girls swam off the
side - they just had to - an experience one does not come across often
even in the Caribbean.

After another lovely sail we put the anchor down in Cane Garden Bay on the
north side of Tortola and spent the night there.

The next day we had to return to St Thomas as the girls were heading back
to the UK. It was sad watching them go - Jack was crying but I hope they
had a good time. St Thomas’s airport is really organized chaos. We had
checked in online and just had to drop the bags but at this airport they
just tag the bags and then you have to take (or lug in the case of
Grainne’s overweight bag) through customs. At least the only thing is
there is no customs at the other end but this did not affect the girls as
their bags were checked in all the way to the UK - and they made it, thank
God. We just have to wait now to see if Grainne’s expenses claim to Delta
gets paid.

Leaving St Thomas on the Sunday we stopped in Sophers Hole to get fuel and
check in/out. What a frustrating time. Firstly we had hoped to fill up
the tanks but they ran out of fuel! We only managed to get 150 gallons.
And then customs - well what can I say - I am just happy we didn’t check
in/out here before. As you know we have been in and out of the BVI
customs & immigration people’s offices many times and have always
mentioned the dog. Most times we were told to keep him on board which we
knew to do anyway as he does not fulfill the importation requirements of
the BVI dept of Agriculture regarding rabies. Now we were checking in and
leaving the same day - a sum total of approx. two hours in the BVI and the
customs insisted on calling the vet which they said should have happened
every time we checked in. The vet came and he was so nice. He had a look
at Bono and satisfied himself that we were actually leaving that day and
said that he would forgoe the blood test (costing approx. $300 and which
would take 3 months approx to get a result as it had to go to Kansas
University in the US) and we didn’t have to get him micro chipped (we are
waiting until we get back to the UK to do this). But really the BVI need
to get their Customs people on the same page. We think it really depended
on who you had checking you in - obviously most of them thought it was too
much bother to call the vet etc. and we had constantly assured them that
Bono stayed on board - which he did as he hates the dinghy.

So, as I say, a very, very frustrating goodbye to the BVIs.

Then onwards to St Kitts. We left at approx. 6pm and arrived approx. 3pm
the next day. It was not a good sail - Brian had a bad cold but still
couldn’t sleep so he was knackered by the time we arrived. And as usual
my seasickness showed itself again.

But that was over and done with and we dropped the anchor in the deep
water port in Basseterre, the main town of St Kitts. This is the island
that Christopher Columbus named after himself as he sailed around the
Caribbean. As usual its history is full of English vs. French wars but it
is the British who became the final owners after the Treaty of Paris in
1783. Currently the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis (the neighboring
island) is part of the commonwealth and the British influence is seen
everywhere. The people (including the customs and immigration and port
authority) were really nice and friendly. We stayed there for four
nights. The first was good but it got progressively more and more rolly.
Ashore there is a big duty free shopping area aimed at the big cruise
ships who stop here but we found a really nice restaurant for lunch and
had a good look around the “real” town which the cruise ship passengers
didn’t seem interested in. We also visited the local catholic church (the
main religion) and noted the big influence of the Irish priests and nuns.
It was very peaceful and calm inside - and they still had their crib up
for Jack to see.

Leaving St Kitts on the Friday we sailed for Montserrat - the volcano
Island. Named by Columbus after the countryside around the Catalan
monastery of Montserrat. As usual the French and British fought over it
and it was a refuge for Irish Catholics suffering from persecution in
Cromwell’s time. Under the Treaty of Paris it became a British territory
which it remains today. It was once known as the Emerald isle but the
hurricanes and volcanic eruptions soon destroyed all of that. The last
eruption of the volcano which is named Galway’s Soufriere (Soufriere
meaning sulphur) happened in 1995 and it wiped out the entire south of the
island, including the capital Plymouth, covering everything in a thick
layer of lava and ash. There is an exclusion zone in operation over that
end of the island and you cannot approach more than 2 nautical miles and
definitely cannot land. We did think about staying in the northern end
but the smell put us off - an overwhelming odor of bad eggs which comes
from the smoke which the volcano spews forth all the time. So we passed
by, giving the kids a quick lesson on volcanoes as we went, and headed to

Unfortunately at this stage our main was not working - we could have done
with it as it would have quickened our journey and as a result we arrived
at our home for the night, Deshaies, in the darkness. This is a lovely
(nighttime impression only note) little bay but there were a good number
of boats already at anchor so it was a tight squeeze. It was a calm spot
so a good night was had by all despite the worry over dragging etc.

As we only stayed briefly I will not go into the history etc. as we will
be visiting again.

Then onto the next island - Dominica. Here we arrived just before
nightfall (thank God), called up “Pancho” on the VHF and he helped us pick
up a mooring. A really lovely man and we will definitely go back there.
Again another brief visit as we left first thing the next morning for

Columbus on discovering the island in 1502 gave it the name Madinina - the
island of flowers. In 1635 the French landed and their influence began.
Over the centuries the island was won and lost by the English and the
French. The 1814 Treaty of Paris effectively gave control to the French,
the 1902 eruption of Mont Pelee killed approx. 30,000 people (most of the
European population) and in 1946 Martinique became a Departement d’Outre
Mer - an overseas department of France. This gives the island an
advantage over its neighbours due to the subsidies it receives from

It is also an advantage for the visitor as it is the home of the old
favourites, Carreforr and Hyper U, the stalwarts of the French supermarket
system. It meant that we could purchase our old favorites, as if we were
shopping in Perpignan - wonderful bakery, pates, ham , wine etc. and all
at good prices.

We anchored for two nights in the harbour of Fort de France, the main
city, and enjoyed the highlights of grocery shopping (see above) and
shopping in a lovely air conditioned mall (sorry the men are outnumbered
and they actually don’t mind once it is air conditioned!). The city
itself is very like Perpignan - narrow streets, a bit messy (ie untidy and
slightly dirty). But again it was lovely to hear the French being spoken
and enjoy the delights of the Boulanger.

On the third night we stayed in Marin - a supposedly more “boat friendly”
area with more facilities for yachts etc. but, although it is nice
anchorage - sheltered and calm, I think I would prefer Fort de France for
the delights of the town and shops.

Then on the Thursday we left Martinique and made way to Rodney Bay, St Lucia.

St Lucia is linked to Martinique in its history being governed
alternatively by the French and the British. In 1802 it became French for
the last time as after the Napoleonic Wars in 1814 it became definitively
British. The influences of the French still remain though. In 1967 it
became an associated state of the commonwealth and in 1979 achieved its

It is an absolutely beautiful country and we have only seen a little bit
of it. We have been in the Rodney Bay marina since last Thursday, 20th
January, as the weather has been very, very windy and squally which is not
conducive to a pleasant passage. We are hoping to make our way to Grenada
but are unsure as to when this may happen as the forecast is not good at

Eleanor arrived in on Friday 21st and until today had only seen the marina
and the town - which is nice with a new shopping mall with excellent
supermarkets and other shops. The mall is beside the older shops which
are also very good and there is a really good coffee shop which has
excellent frappochino style milkshakes (Starbucks without the Starbucks).

Today we left the marina and sailed in really nice not rolly seas down the
coast for about 2hours to Marigot Bay. This is absolutely beautiful, a
bay hidden away (a British naval commander reputably hid the fleet inside
disguised with coconut greenery and the French sailed right past). It’s a
bit tight inside as it is a very popular anchorage but when we arrived a
local on a paddle board directed us to a mooring buoy. He helped us but
immediately another local arrived on his dinghy and the two of them fought
it out verbally as to who was entitled to the money. The second one was
the official but we didn’t let our first helper go away empty handed. It
was quite funny watching them insult each other out loud, to us and then
under their breaths! Not language for the children as you can imagine.

So boat safely moored, dinghy in the water and we then enjoyed walking
around the marina complex (the Moorings charter company have developed
this as a first class port). There was a gourmet supermarket, coffee
shops and the usual jewellery and boutiques, and a 5* hotel resort where
we enjoyed a drink in the afternoon.

We are now getting ready for dinner, generator on so we can have aircon
(mozzies are starting their business) and soon we will be having our
sundowners in the cockpit. It is really, really good (sorry to make you
jealous but if I can’t do it today I would really miss out on the
opportunity as this is somewhere everyone would want to be - calm water,
beautiful scenery and good, well looked after, amenities - most of the
Caribbean is not like this - apologies to those who would differ but this
is a very personal blog).

Love to all. Hopefully next time I will write we will be in Grenada where
we are headed when Eleanor returns to Ireland. WE will probably spend the
next week in St Lucia as the weather towards the end of the week is due to
get very windy again. But we are lucky to be “stuck” in somewhere so
beautiful and pleasant.