Monday, October 14, 2013


We had a lovely few days on Curacao with my family. The last night we had Peggy and Shahaira both with their family come over to say goodbye. We had a great night although I found it difficult to say goodbye. It felt like leaving family.  
We had a 
sail to the last bay on Curacao where we anchored for the night. We did some snorkelling and had a good meal and a good sleep. 
Rocky and I got up at 4 am to start our 55 miles sail to Aruba. We picked up the anchor and when I tried to steer the boat to turn out of the bay the steering locked and we ran into the rocks. This caused the auto pilot to lift off the housing but there did not seem to be more damage. So we continued taking each an hour and a half at the wheel as we could not use the auto pilot. The family slept through it all apart from Yvonne who heard it but stayed in bed thinking we were 'shipwrecked'. They all got up less then 20 miles out of Aruba. 
There we were welcomed by Derek's boat with also Gail and Grant on it waiving the boxing kangaroo flag. Quite a welcome with Grant straight away swimming to our boat in quite a strong current. We spend some beautiful days in a marina there. It was attached to a beautiful resort so we could use all the facilities there. We swam a lot and had many cocktails at happy hour.
We also visited the resorts private island where we were up close and personal with the pink flamingoes. 
We celebrated Angelique's 60th with Grant and Gail.
All too soon it was time for them to leave again. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013


It has been a while. From Bonaire we sailed to Curacao. There we anchored in Spanish waters. This is a huge bay with not that many boats. The trip to customs and immigration was almost the whole day but we only had to pay 10 guilders for 3 months anchoring. When you go ashore before 10 o'clock am you can get a free bus to the supermarket. The bay is far from anywhere and I don't think it would be nice to entertain guests here since there is nothing special around here.
I went back to Australia for 6 weeks and was there when our grandson Santiago Jo Diaz was born. Had a wonderful time with the family and friends.
After 50 hours travelling I finally got back to the boat. Nothing much has changed here. Rocky has worked hard on the boat and did a lot of exploring. There are big salt flats here with pink flamingos. Today he guided another Canedian couple and me through the bush and I saw a pink flamingo and a baby one. Also breath taking scenery from the cliffs overlooking the ocean. Finally we arrived at a resort where we had a drink and caught the bus back. After a home made pizza with chicken and lots of veggies we are now relaxing looking at the lights ashore. Listening to distant salsa music and barking dogs. I love just sitting and even more going to bed.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Puerto Rico to Bonaire

After coming back from Holland we spend a few days with Gail and Grant and we took them to the airport on 6th May. We stocked up at Walmart and prepared to leave the next day. As. It turned out Rocky had to work on the Electrics after that there was hardly any wind for a few days so we stayed longer. Then we had another day where we hired a car to go to Home Depot to get something again and drove through the mountains. That was a shocking trip with very narrow roads and steep twists and turns. I felt more in danger there then ever on our boat. We visited the hot springs. It was lovely to sit in a hot bath for a change.
Finally we left on Monday 13th at 9 am. We had a great sail with the wind always broad beam and between 10 and 20 knots. Island Girl performed well but not so the people. Because the waves came from the side both Rocky and I felt I'll the first 2 days. Rocky brought everything he ate back up. When you feel like that everything you have to do seems too much. Luckily we did not have to do much. Island girl was on auto pilot the whole time. We saw 3 freighters crossing our path and one got so close that Rocky said 'look such a big ocean with nothing and I have to take evasive action'. I then said that we have right of way because we are under sail. He thought that was very funny and said are you going to enforce that right?
We had 2 flying fish come on the boat one in the cockpit and the other on deck. We found them in the morning all stiff.
When we got to Bonaire on Wednesday 7 pm we had to still go around the island to Kralingendijk. It was very dark and we looked for all those yachts that should be there on moorings. You think you can come in at night because the bay is wide open but even so you need to find the mooring field. Is was on the chart plotter but we saw no anchor lights or anything. I took out the big torch that we plug I and was shining it. Then we saw yachts lined up but very close to a wall. We could not find moorings. Then someone started responding with a light to our light and a man came on the radio. Rocky nor I understood what he said. I told him this so his wife came on and said that there was a mooring next to them so we should come to the light. Her husband would come with the dinghy to help. She shone the light on a double mooring just behind a few fishing boats. I steered and Rocky picked up one mooring. He then wanted to pick up the other one. I had to steer straight ahead and we nearly ran into the fishing boat. I managed to avoid that and rocky picked up the second mooring. Then the guy came with his dinghy. He tried to come before but had broken the lock on the dinghy. Anyway we thanked the nice people and went to bed.
So here we are in Bonaire we can see now that the moorings are all in line along the coast. The water is deep but beautifully clear. It is one of the best dive spots in the world. The town is very colourful and clean. Beautiful shops and gorgeous little restaurants. Very friendly people so in other words it is paradise. There is a working salt mine you can visit, a cactus distillery and beautiful national parks. Lots of birds. The people speak 4 languages dutch english spanish and papiamento. They are so clever. You hear dutch everywhere and it feels strange to be able to speak dutch. Today on the way back to our boat we saw a bird picking up a fish and lots of other birds fighting him for it. And all that right in front of our dinghy. We intended to stay a week or so but because it looks like Chloe might have our little grandson early we will leave here Monday for Curaçao where I will book a ticket back to Australia. The people in the yacht who helped us are lovely friendly people from Turkey. We are invited for Turkish coffee this afternoon and it seems they also want to cross the Pacific the same time we want to. That is the good part of this cruising life. The wonderful people you meet.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Jost Van Dyke and Tortolla

We heard from our friends on Me Gusta and Nenufar that they would be at Jost Van Dyke to clear in so that is where we went to meet up with them. Miriam's mum was with them and at the age of 85 she climbed over big rocks and hills with us to the bubbly pools on Jost Van Dyke. This is where the waves come crashing through rocks into a pool. Again you can not stay there overnight so we sailed together to a bay on Tortolla.
We had planned to sail with our friend till the mum would leave in another 5 days. However I got a message from my family that my dad is pretty bad so we decided to sail as quick as possible to PuertoRico where I can catch a flight home.
That evening we said goodbye to our Canadian friends with a bit of crying because after having sailed together and having spend the hurricane season together in Grenada this looked like the end of the line. Very sad.
We cleared out of Tortolla Britsh Virgin Island and sailed straight to St Thomas US Virgin Islands. I have written about that in an earlier entry.
When you try to hurry all sorts of things go wrong. First our toilet got blocked and did not want to unblock. Calcium build up in the pipes. Rocky bought stuff to fix it in St Thomas but will do this in Puerto Rico in the Marina. So we are using the bucket.
Then after a day of sailing on rough seas the motor stopped because the fuel lines got blocked by the dirt in the diesel. We sailed to Culibra (Spanish virgin island).
We had to sail into the channel while Rocky blew out the fuel lines. The motor started but we could only go on very slow which was hard in the wind and waves. We took adoring behind the reefs. Because we could not get to the shops as we planned I made bagels while Rocky sucked dirty diesel out of the bottom of the tank. We have to get a diesel pump to polish as they say the diesel (filter).
The next morning we put the sails up got away from the mooring ball and idled the motor. We sailed through the reefs and then through the channel and had a pretty good sail till we got close to Puert Rico coast where there was hardly any wind.
I forgot to tell about all the fish. On the way from St Thomas to Culibra we caught first a big Barracuda which we threw back. Then a huge amber jack which got away at the last minute. Then today sailing here 2 barracudas we let go and another one we are not sure of that spit out the hook. All very big and very exciting but not productive.
We managed to run the motor but did not use it to sail into the marina. Now weare on a slip. Had a swim in the pool. Tomorrow I will do the washing and get ready to go to Holland the day after. I will be back in 2 weeks and then Gail and Grant will fly to mainland US to start another adventure there and we will sail 450 miles to Curaçao.

Virgin Gorda (SabaRock)

We left The lagoon in St Maarten through the bridge opening. This happens 3 times per day. We waited for the 2.30 opening which means you motor there and hang around (moving forward and backward because the deeper channel is very narrow dayly boats run aground). Then we anchored outside in the bay till the next morning 4 am to do the 80 miles passage to the Brtish Virgin Island. We arrived at Vigin Gorda around 3 pm and took a mooring ball. You pay 30 dollars us and get 250 gallons of water and a bag of ice.
Saba Rock on Virgin Gorda is a small rocky island with nothing on it but ra lovely pub/restaurant. Happy hour is from 4 to 6 where we had painkillers 2 for 1 so they were 3 dollars each. I can not remember what is in them but they are lethal. We took a ferry from Bitter End resort to the little town to clear in. That was fun cause the ferry went fast.
After 2 days there we moved to another island calledMarina Island which had another beautiful bay. Everywhere mooring balls and always 30 dollars. The Virgins are a real charter boat haven. You see cats and yachts everywhere because there are so many island quite close together. It is all very beautiful and a great holiday playground.
The next morning we left early to get back to Virgin Gorda but the other side where you have the famous Baths. Here you can only moor during the day and it is very busy with tourists. There are huge rocks which form caves that you go through to get to all kinds of pools (baths) in the rocks.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Customs at US Virgin Islands

Today we got to St Thomas USVI. We cleared out of the BVI earlier today. Both Rocky and I have a visa for 10 years that we applied for while still in Australia. We had to get this because we only had a one way ticket because we would leave on our boat. Australians do not have to get s visa but can get an online visa waiver. Gail and Grant, our friends travelling with us have such a thing which states 'valid till 2014 sometime. So we thought we were all good. After Rocky had filled out numerous forms for the boat and I filled out personal forms for us we were told that we had to wait and someone would interview us all together.
In the mean time Gail and Grant did not have to do anything yet theirs was different Ok so finally we were ushered in. Rocky had to go to a counter and Gail Grant and I had to stay on this red carpet exactly on this line. Gail had to go to another counter where she was told that her visa waiver was only valid for 90 days and as they had come into the country in January their time was up. The visa waiver is valid for 2 years and within that 2 years only 90 days from entering the country
Rocky and I had finished our clearing in by then and taken somewhere else. The official explained to Rocky that as the captain of the vessel he was responsible for his crew. Fair enough we thought. We had to leave and take them back to the BVI The only other option would be for Gail and Grant to pay $585 each to get another waiver only for Puerto Rico. That being ridiculous Rocky said ok we will sail back but can we please stay on our boat on anchor till the morning.
No said the official you need to leave now.
Rocky got angry because by then it was late and we would have had to sail in the dark which he did not want to do in the dark. So he said to the guy 'the US government is putting our lives at risk'.
Well he did not take kindly to that and said rocky was offending the government. He asked if anything was wrong with our boat. Then a lady official came and told the other official to step back. He and Rocky were standing quite close. IThe man started talking again and Rocky said 'I must stop you there' where the guy said that Rocky was not allowed to stop him rocky did not listen to him and told him that he as the captain was responsible for his crew. I dont think the guy heard this so I sort of stepped in front of Rocky because I was afraid that they would put him in jail that is how angry that guy got. Anyway I said I was sorry he got offended and that it was not meant that way. He started pointing at me with his blue plastic gloved hands but did calm down.
At this point we asked to discuss the options with our friends so they went and got them. Although we told them we would go back with them Gail and Grant opted for paying. Then they let us wait some more and started the paperwork.finger printing and taking photos. We had to pay cash and since we did not have that much the official escorted Grant and Rocky to an ATM. Grant could only get $ 300 from the machine and when Rocky tried it had run out of money.
We scraped the money together with a few dollars short that they took from their kitty.
They had been told that if they wanted another waiver they would have to go back to Australia to do it. This is where they did something nice because Gail said that she was so disappointed that she could not go to America. They gave them a different kind of visa till October that they can use to go to US mainland as long as they stay in US. So now they can actually fly from Puerto Rico to US mainland and tour there till October. So now it looks like they will leave us in Puerto Rico when we head from there to Curaçao.
What a day this was

Friday, March 29, 2013

St Barth and St Martin/St Maarten

We had a great Sail from Barbuda to St Barth. We left at 4 am and arrived in less then 10 hours in St Barth. This is about 70 miles. St Barth is a very upmarket island. There are hardly any black people and it is mostly designer shops and cute boutiques with it being French. Gustavia is the capital and the bay is full of boats.
We spend a few days there enjoying the free showers and visiting shell beach and gourmet shops. There were huge waves so the sleeping was not altogether comfortable. We went around to the north of the island in a bay with free moorings. Here we were called by another boat to ask if we wanted fish. They gave us 2 big bags with Mahi Mahi or dolphin fish. All beautifully filleted into thick steaks. Wonderful. After 2 nights we sailed to St Maarten. We had to wait for the bridge to open for us to be able to go into the lagoon. There we finally met up with our friends from Me Gusta (Rick and Miriam ) and Nenufar (Claude and Céline).
Rick had his brother visiting who had hired a car. St Maarten is divided with a French side and a Dutch side St Martin and St Maarten. And the story goes......
The French and the Dutch were very amicable. So when it came to dividing the island a Frenchman started walking one way with a bottle of wine and the Dutchman walked the other way with a bottle of gin. Where they would meet would be the border. So the Frenchman drinking wine got further then the gin drinking Dutchman and the French part is bigger. There has never been a problem between them here. It is in the Dutch town Pilipsburg that the cruise ships come.
Our friends left to sail to the Virgin Islands and we were leaving about a week later for an overnight sail. We ran around still doing all kinds of things and rushing together the last opening when we realised we had not cleared customs. So now we are waiting till Easter Saturday night to go to get the good winds. The great thing about this is that our Dutch friends Marlene and Loud on Rafiki are here as well and we get to see more of them. We keep meeting them but always for a short time.
Yesterday 28 was our wedding anniversary so we got dressed up to go to the shore for dinner. Rocky spotted a boat that had run aground so we headed over to help. Three of us went aboard to hang on one side to tilt it over. They pulled a halyard with a dinghy and later followed my suggestion of all things to pull the boom to the side as well. We did get the boat moving and sailed into the marina. The owner got wine out and we shared their dinner. With 4 extra that was not enough so Rocky bought 3 pizzas. We had a lovely time with them and never got to eat in the restaurant.