Dominica and Guadeloupe

Unfortunately, internet has been extremely difficult to come by – finally got this post up and will slowly add photos as I can… 

We returned to Dominica to find rather more boats in the anchorage than when we were there in December and more and more arrived over the coming days – with over 40 boats anchored or moored each night by the time we left a little over a week later.

While we were there a bunch of cruisers got together to assist the Dominicans in their rebuilding efforts – at the communal food pantry ‘The Lambs Feast’ at the local radio station and simply helping locals out with whatever project they were up to. I had an interesting morning with John and Chris from Saphira Blue and Mark from Calypso K, assisting a gentleman called Alexis and his cousin Monty put a new roof on Alexis’ house. What we did in a morning together would certainly have taken them a couple of days.

We also did a fantastic hike to ‘The Boiling Lake’ with John and Chris and with Martin and Lydia from Cheglia, guided by Sea Cat. This had to have been the most interesting and most arduous hike I’ve ever undertaken. We left Toodle-oo! at 6:00am, were at the trail head at 8:30 and didn’t get back for another 8 hours! The route took us over a big hill and down, across a river, up a mountain (and down again ☹) across the valley of desolation and up to the boiling lake. The second largest in the world and it is BOILING! The trek was very steep and quite challenging, but along the way we got to enjoy fresh pineapple, rum punch, fresh boiled eggs (boiled in the fumaroles) a blue mud pack and lunch at the lake all courtesy of Sea Cat who provided a wonderful dialog about the flora and fauna along the way. Anyone considering this hike will be well pleased if the go with Sea Cat.

Unfortunately, the hike took it’s toll – in the hot steamy and wet conditions, Laurie’s camera (which I had chosen to bring instead of mine) suffered a death and the card is unreadable – so no photographs ☹

We bid adieu to Dominica and enjoyed a brisk sail down to St. Pierre in Martinique. There were a couple of OCC boats anchored around us and we had sundowners aboard Toodle-oo! with Jeff and Macia from UJAM’n and Neil and Helen from Milvinia. We had already decided we wanted to hike Mt. Pele, the large volcano that last erupted in 1905 ? killing about 30,000 people in St. Pierre. As it turned out, Neil was planning the hike the following morning, so we opted to join him.

Last year when we attempted this walk with Peter and Patty (Serendipitous) the weather was awful and we called it quits at the first major ridge we came to. Turns out that ridge was not even half way to the top… This hike was another strenuous effort – taking over 5 hours – but this time we had perfect weather and the sights on the way up and from the top were breathtaking. We completed the walk with Neil and with Fletcher, Kristopher and Ward from ‘Lovely Cruise’, a younger family taking a 12-18 month sabbatical…

Last year's "Summit" turned up to be not even half way to the real summit...

Last year’s “Summit” turned up to be not even half way to the real summit…

View from the lower reaches of Mt. Pele

View from the lower reaches of Mt. Pele

It goes up, then down then up again...

It goes up, then down then up again…

No that's not the top - you have to go down and then up again - over here!

No that’s not the top – you have to go down and then up again – over here!

Still not there - you go down again, then up again :-(

Still not there – you go down again, then up again :-(

Finally made it! With Neil McCubbin - a mere 74 years young!

Finally made it! With Neil McCubbin – a mere 74 years young!

The crew of Lovely Cruise - Ward Kristofer and Fletcher

The crew of Lovely Cruise – Ward Kristofer and Fletcher

 

We’ll be heading south along Martinique’s coast for the next few days before moving to the next island – probably Bequia…

Fixing Stuff in Exotic Locations

We came into the Marina in Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe with one goal in mind – fix the generator! It has been making a heck of a lot of noise recently – so much so that when I first heard it while we were down in Dominica, I thought the main bearings had gone, however it continued to run, just with lots of noise.

I ordered spare parts – including engine mounts – which I hoped might solve the problem and had Neal bring them to us on his visit.

This was always going to be a messy job – lifting the generator out and working on it’s oily extremities in the cockpit – and it lived up to expectations! Fortunately, we discovered the cause of the noise… an Aluminium plate between the engine and generator had broken and one of three mounting bolts was therefore inoperable. However, of the two remaining mounts, one had lost it’s nut and the other’s nut was loose. Basically the thing was held together by the drive belt!!

Messy Generator

Messy Generator

Cleaned up

Cleaned up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I spotted a tech working on a Halberg Rassey a few slips down and confirmed that he is a welder – he came and took a look and confirmed that he’d be able to weld it up – though because it’s aluminium, there were to be no guarantees! I gave him the piece the following morning and he brought it back in the afternoon!

Broken Mount

Broken Mount

Fixed!

Fixed!

It took all this morning to reassemble the thing and get it back into it’s spot on it’s new engine mounts. Turned the thing on – and bliss – purrs like a kitten!!!

I love it when a plan works out!

 

We’re off tomorrow – back to Dominica!

 

Fun Visit

Having a great visit with Neal and Kathy – enjoying the opportunity to land cruise around Guadeloupe and take advantage of their apartment’s WiFi and washing machine! WooHoo!!! Our livers on the other hand are looking forward to them heading home!!

Looking across to 'Les Saintes' from Guadeloupe

Looking across to ‘Les Saintes’ from Guadeloupe

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Did a super walk up the Volcano Soufriere – apparently the highest point in the Antilles… Quite a hike!

It's a long way up!

It’s a long way up!

Every once in a while the cloud would break for a few seconds

Every once in a while the cloud would break for a few seconds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's steep!

It’s steep!

So did I!

So did I!

Made it!

Made it!

 

Amazing lichens and mosses

Amazing lichens and mosses

The descent

The descent

On the 'Rim'

On the ‘Rim’

 

Neal & Kathy

Timing was rather tight to get out of Antigua after Abigail’s visit and down to Pointe a Pitre in Guadeloupe in time for the arrival of Laurie’s brother Neal and his girlfriend Kathy. We had a very salty 2 day sail but arrived unscathed on Saturday.

Neal and Kathy are actually staying on land – in an Air B&B adjacent to the Marina we use as a dinghy dock. Couldn’t be more convenient.

So, getting right into the program, we headed out to inspect the local beaches and bars – and found several of both! Day two we decided to go for a bit of a walk in the rain forest – and it obliged by showing itself in it’s full glory – wet, wet, wet! And muddy! No matter we survived to live another day and drink another rum!

The walking dead?

The walking dead?

Aww - It's Muddy!!!!

Aww – It’s Muddy!!!!

A little uphill...

A little uphill…

 

 

 

Debating in the Rain Forest

Debating in the Rain Forest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hunting Tree Frogs!

Hunting Tree Frogs!

Washing off the mud

Washing off the mud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Done!

All Done!

Holidays

We had a lovely Christmas in Les Saintes with David and Leanne of Perigee – Christmas Eve on Toodle-oo! and Christmas Day aboard Perigee – excellent food, far too much alcohol and a little bit of snorkeling for good measure!

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

 

 

 

 

 

Toodle-oo! was nicely lit up for Christmas, but unfortunately, the last night we were there, we went ashore for the evening and came back to find the boat in darkness… the lights had shorted, and caused a small fire before the electricity was automatically cut. We were very lucky that the only damage was a small hole burned in the sail cover and mainsail. We fixed the main the following morning with a handy little manual sewing machine we were lent by Frank on Infinity B and then hightailed it up towards Antigua where we picked up Abigail and spent New Year.

We took the mainsail into North Sails who did a great repair very quickly – highly recommend them! And then we moved the boat around to English Harbour with David on Perigee aboard to act as coach for our first experience of “Med Mooring” where one sets an anchor and then backs in to the dock stern-to, held off the dock just be the anchor – and hoping you’re not putting your anchor and rode over someone else’s! The whole thing went smoothly – largely because the wind was cooperating!

Laurie then organized a Beach Bar pub crawl for all the OCC boats assembled in the vicinity… we had a tremendous time visiting 4 very different beach bars on Antigua’s western coast.

Best Girls!

Best Girls!

Hanging out in the bar!

Hanging out in the bar!

Beach Bar Crawl

Beach Bar Crawl

New Year’s Eve saw 5 OCC boats on the dock host appetizers for about 30 OCC members and then on New Year’s Day we had a Bocce Ball tournament! Quite the weekend!

Not such a fine performance!

Not such a fine performance!

We’re now in Green Island – a very secluded bay in Antigua – protected from the Atlantic by just a reef – so the next land east of us is Morocco! Abigail steered us here – having the inevitable race (and winning) with 2 boats headed in the same direction as us!

Showing them how it's done!

Showing them how it’s done!

Racing - and Winning!

Racing – and Winning!

As you can see, all’s well aboard Toodle-oo!

Guadeloupe

We left Dominica on Sunday after nearly 2 weeks there. It felt good to help out a bit and it was rewarding (and challenging) cleaning up the galvanized from the sea floor. We ended up with quite the pile!

Bill and Jeff's fabulous haul!

Bill and Jeff’s fabulous haul!

We had a wonderful sail to Pointe a Pitre in Guadeloupe – probably the best sail we’ve ever had in the Caribbean. We were close hauled all the way, and the true wind speed was only 10-15 knots, but Toodle-oo! was flying along – great fun.

We arrived and anchored in Pointe a Pitre close to our friends Bob and Anne on Baloo and for the next couple of days were highly productive – laundry, restocking the boat, buying Christmas Dinner, and sourcing various bits for the boat. Unfortunately, our generator is acting up again – it’s making a lot more noise than normal and turns itself off at random times. Very frustrating! However, we have spare parts being brought to us just after the New Year by Laurie’s brother Neal, so hopefully we can limp by until then.

We left Pointe a Pitre today (Wednesday) and had another cracking sail, this time to the small island of Marie Galante where we hope to decompress for a bit! We’re spending Christmas with our friends David and Leanne on Perigee – but it sure would be nice if we knew where – The Saintes or Antigua seem to be the two choices and there’s only 4 days between now and Christmas Eve!

Looking forward to Abigail joining the boat of a few days around the New Year… we’ll be in Antigua, a hotbed of buff young sailors – and she’s on the prowl!!

 

Diving for Galvanized

Today we went mostly free-diving for Galvanized Roofing Sheets – there are loads of these sheets strewn around the bottom creating a real anchoring nightmare. In one morning we collected all these pieces – from just a small area of the anchorage.

Diving for Galvanized!

Diving for Galvanized!

Got a bit of a scare when I got my leg tied up in the hauling line just before surfacing – that gets the adrenaline flowing!!

The morning's haul!

The morning’s haul!

Meanwhile, the kitchen counter is ready for pouring…

Ready for the counter-top to be poured...

Ready for the counter-top to be poured…

 

The Project Continues

Work continues in Portsmouth – on island time…

Island Time... The Womens Club has the coldest beers!

Island Time… The Womens Club has the coldest beers!

Unfortunately, we’ve still not started on the moorings but the Pavilion is coming along nicely. It won’t look finished until the roof is done – which has been contracted out by a charity organization that Hank Schmidt operates – they’ve raised over $25,000 for the Portsmouth area – including the roof!

Preparing for the footing

Preparing for the footing

How many engineers to hang a flag?

How many engineers to hang a flag?

The kitchen counter takes shape

The kitchen counter takes shape

Chief Engineer, Bill from Alembic

Chief Engineer, Bill from Alembic

Meanwhile, we took some time off to do the Indian River Tour with Albert and his son Avin. Helen on Alembic had been insistent that Albert join us – his first trip up the river since losing one leg below the knee shortly before Maria struck. He was in fine spirits as Alvin rowed us up the river. Sadly the river is not in such spirits and I’ve included a couple of shots from last year to compare with this year’s river…

Indian River December - same spot...

Indian River December – same spot…

The Indian River pre-Maria

The Indian River pre-Maria

Indian River close to the Jungle Bar

Indian River close to the Jungle Bar

Pre Maria close by the Jungle Bar

Pre Maria close by the Jungle Bar

The Jungle Bar :-(

The Jungle Bar :-(

Even so, we had an interesting tour and saw quite a variety of wildlife.

A group of happy OCCers. From back left to front right: Albert, Carl (Northern Star, Bill (Toodle-oo!), Ardys (Northern Star), Helen (Alembic), Bill (Alembic), Laurie (Toodle-oo!)

A group of happy OCCers. From back left to front right: Albert, Carl (Northern Star, Bill (Toodle-oo!), Ardys (Northern Star), Helen (Alembic), Bill (Alembic), Laurie (Toodle-oo!)

Can't remember the name of this pretty bird

Can’t remember the name of this pretty bird

Green Backed Heron. (I think it had a different name on our last visit!)

Green Backed Heron. (I think it had a different name on our last visit!)

Green Iguana

Green

Gifts presented and gratefully received…

The four OCC boats filled two large tables of ‘stuff’ – from Tarps to bandages, toys to solar lights, Tuna to reading glasses… Our gratitude again to the Centenary United Methodist Church of Attleboro for their generous donation – along with that from Frances and George of Kittiwake.

Several of the PAYS guys, who’d lost their houses, gratefully accepted various bits and pieces, and the school supplies and medical stuff was delivered  by the OCC contingent to the local school and hospital.

Meanwhile, back at the PAYS pavilion, Bill from Alembic kept bashing on to get the kitchen area finished.

Meanwhile, Toodle-oo! took a bit of a time out to take a bus ride down to Roseau, capital of Dominica, to get a feel for the damage the rest of the island had seen… Some places on the route seemed to have been wiped out completely, but for the most part, damage was similar to that seen in Portsmouth – which is to say extensive, but recoverable – given time. Unfortunately, photos were impossible in our racing bus – it had darkened windows (that were dirty!) and anything taken would surely have been blurred!!! Got to love these Caribbean buses!!!

 

Work Begins

All the OCC boats got right to it today making repairs and improvements to the PAYS pavilion and dock. There was a really nice cooperation going on between cruisers and islanders – all messing in to help.

  • The PAYS dock is now fully functional
  • The kitchen area has its foundation poured – and it’s planned to be ready for Christmas Eve’s bash!
  • Moorings have been located for repair
Ardys and Helen cutting wood for forms...

Ardys and Helen cutting wood for forms…

Helen and Laurie cutting re-bar for the footing

Helen and Laurie cutting re-bar for the footing

Helen (Alembic) levels the concrete footing

Helen (Alembic) levels the concrete footing

Sinking a footing for the dock's on-ramp

Sinking a footing for the dock’s on-ramp

On comes the covering

On comes the covering

The finished ramp

The finished ramp

The end of the dock is installed

The end of the dock is installed

Tomorrow: More of the same!

It would be really helpful if any boats coming to Portsmouth to assist could look at bringing some ¾” mooring chain for the moorings that they are working on.

There are no doubt a bunch of OCC members arriving with the ARC in St. Lucia – perhaps some will feel inclined to join the effort in Portsmouth.

On Friday we’ll be distributing the aid that various boats have brought with them – to schools, medical centers, PAYS and individuals in need…