GULLIVER on 21st January 2009

Thu 22 Jan 2009 02:41
Deart all

Sorry for big gap but we are currently at 17 00.490N 61 45.843W which is Nelson's Dockyard English Harbour Antigua

Tom and Alex left from Marigot Bay on 11th Jan and on the same day I was joined by Stephen, Robert, Phil and Nick Phil's son. We sailed on 12th into 35kt winds and after a swim and visit to Vaiva (Kingdom helicopter pilot) we spent the night in Rodney Bay with a very good steak meal at the Charthouse

A blustery sail (under reefed main and working jib) to St Anne's Martinique saw Gulliver re-united with Falbala at anchor off the beach and Phil and I managed to dinghy over for a G&T or three...

After an early start on 14th we motored into the Marina to clear customs and load fuel water and provisions before sailing round to Trois Isles opposite Fort de France for a meal ashore with Catherine and Mike and a blustery night at anchor

15th saw us cruising up the West coast of Martinique to St Pierre where we had an interesting evening anchored very close to the town's black volcanic sand beach (really very close indeed...) Sunset gave us a 'GREEN FLASH' - only the second I have ever seen. Gulliver cleared out with customs and we all enjoyed a good pizza in a cafe on the beach

0630 on 16th saw Gulliver heading North once again and leaving Falbala behind - we had a great sail over to Dominica and a motor in flat calm conditions up the coast to Portsmouth at the top. On advice from the cruising guide we used the 'COBRA" boat to pick up a mooring and book our dinner at 'BIG PAPA'S RESTAURANT on the beach. After swimming, clearing customs and buying the worlds most expensive Oranges and Grapefruits from a man paddling a windsurfer we had a great meal at a very resonable price. 'BIG PAPA' threw in the first Rum punches for free and if you saw him you'd know why we did not argue - a brief walk ashore convinced us we were safer onboard which sadly meant we missed a party for the American students studying medicine at a nearby University but we certainly heard it going on until at least 0400...

Bright and early on 17th Jerome of Cobra Tours arrived to take us ashore for the first of two tours we had negotiated - we piled into a minibus driven by the great man (Adrian 'COBRA' O'Brian) himself and we soon were experts on the politics and lifestyle of Dominica and in particular Cobra's views on almost everything. After crossing to the Atlantic Coast and climbing we left main roads far behind to get deeper into the bush stopping enroute for Cobra to disappear with his machete only to return with yet another fruit of bean for us to try. Eventually we stopped ready to descend 2,650ft of steep muddy jungle track in flip flops to a river and waterfall - following our guides example we were soon leaping (and in Nick's case diving) from increasingly higher rocks into the 5metre deep natural pool - Cobra then demonstrated the art of getting afloat above the falls and plummeting over them headfirst to drop about 15ft into the pool which obviousdly we had to try... After a muddy climb back to the van 5 wet muddy but very happy people set off for the return journey and another helping of Cobra's philosophy on life. Not to forget Jeff a random trainee guide we seemed to collect driving through the market who sat in the back of the van and agreed with Cobra when he remembered to pay attention.

Part two of our tour saw us all sitting in a very small rowing boat being rowed (from the back facing forward) by another apparently random passer-by Cobra shouted at as we drove into town - In any event he appeared well versed in the Latin names of plants and birds and guided us up the 'Indian River" where we say lots of fish, crabs, plants and trees and passed beneath two fairly impressive Iguanas who luckily kept a grip of their branches. We ended up at an interesting jungle bar where apart from Rum Punch and just Rum we also sampled fresh coconut milk after watching the coconut being picked plus riper coconut to eat and sugar cane. Apparently this was a location in the P'irates of the Caribbean' films. We returned to the beach and then got a lift with Jerome to the Purple Turtle beach club wher we lunched and I am advised the goat was very tasty...

Back onboard we finally and regretfully sailed at 1515 and by 1830 (and just as it got dark) we anchored at the Isles des Saintes. This lovely and affluent place is a cross between the Scilly Isles and the Porquerroles. We had a very good dinner ashore and in the morning Phil and Nick visited a Fort, Stephen and Robert favoured the fish market (let's not mention our lack of a fish despite Stephen's best efforts - Gulliver is just too fast) and Mark felt obliged to call at 'The Yacht Club' really a beach bar run by Jerome an ex Vendee Globe and Route de Rhum competitor. Returning to Gulliver we picked up anchor and moved over to the Yacht Club mooring which has a hose tied to it for you to fill up your fresh water. Unfortunately the French Customs here was shut at weekends so we could not clear in or out.

Departing at 1315 we then had a great sail over to Guadeloupe passing the 174ft Schooner Fleurtje motoring the other way) and a motor sail up the coast to Deshaies where we again anchored just before dark. Phil did a great job cooking us all fish with Rice and Peas followed by Tarte Tatin although there was some dispute as to which way up it should be (but we had thrown the box away by then?)

On the 19th after a shopping trip and wasted search for Customs (apparently they never actually open here) we sailed away at 1000 and had a great fast sail often at 8.5kts berthing stern to at Nelson's Dockyard English Harbour Antigua at 1600 where we had a very warm welcome and are next door to UP CHUCK of Manchester who were across the dock in Las Palmas.

Stephen, Robert and Phil flew back to the cold on 20th so Nick and I are forced to enjoy Antigua until Falbala arrives and Cathering and Ed fly in and the voyage resumes. Watch this space for further news of our 'Eco-Tour experiences, Rainforest Canopy 'Zip-line' descents etc. Gulliver is also looking forward to a very smart awning in 'toast' Sunbrella which should allow us to keep cooler and have hatches open in the rain.

I am still typing using a head torch in the wheelhouse as we still have screen problems but more photos will be added soon

All the best from Mark and Nick