Mira stayed and stayed and stayed on St. Lucia

Embarking on our sailing adventure to see the world very, very slowly, Glenn and I were looking forward to lingering and getting to experience each island’s people, culture, and food. Little did we know that we would come to know St. Lucia very, very well!

St. Lucia is a beautiful island where we had planned to spend two weeks – one week with Mom and one week getting some boat work done on Mira. We would end up spending 22 days (Jan 23- Feb 16) on this lovely island. While we anxiously awaited the arrival of boat parts from Argentina, the volatile Eastern Caribbean weather took a turn for the worse. Our good weather window was slamming shut. Glenn spends part of every day analyzing the weather. Since we live on the water, direction and strength of the wind and waves is really important to us. We use a variety of weather reports. Mira receives a daily email report from the Marine Weather Center. We also usually listen to the MWC’s morning broadcast on the SSB radio. Glenn also favors both the PredictWind and Windy apps – both provide amazing amounts of weather detail by the hour. On St. Lucia, by the time the boat parts arrived and were installed – every weather source Glenn could find declared only emergency boat travel between islands for the foreseeable future. Winds were gusting over 40 knots and waves were 10-13 feet with short duration. Even worse, we were planning to head north – straight into the gusts!

So… we stayed and stayed and stayed ……. snorkeled, dove, hiked, swam, picked up trash, ate lots, and finished many boat projects.  St. Lucia is a tropical paradise, and we made the most of our time there!

Stunning coral and fish during our dive and snorkel on Anse Cochon off the west coast of St. Lucia!

Naturally hot Diamond Baths along with a beautiful tropical garden.
Drive-in Volcano that looks like a scene straight from hell, barren with bubbling grey mud oozing up with huge spurts of steam. Such a contrast to the amazing lush of the rest of the island.
Amazing tropical plants and fruits
Diamond Falls filled with minerals pours into a pool.

Climbing to the top of Pigeon Island, the main base for the British navy in this area.
There’s always a cool cave or cliff to explore.

Early one Saturday morning, we joined a group of Island volunteers to clean up a long stretch of road through Rodney Bay.

The best part of the clean-up was the wonderful Beach BBQ and rum punch lunch on Pigeon Island!
Living on a sailboat, we are fortunate enough to meet some wonderful people – miss you, Sara and Mark!! 🙂
Valerie and Tim, let’s meet in Australia sometime soon!
Mira – heading out of Rodney Bay, so happy to be sailing again!!

St. Lucia – Margie/Mom visits Mira!

Sailboats move – whether sailing or at anchor or in a marina – they still move – sometimes a lot! So when my 82 year old mother, Margie, (Meemaw to her 9 grandchildren) announced that she wanted to visit us on Mira, I was nervous. Glenn was more than nervous. Granted, Mom is very active – walking miles every day, taking exercise classes, driving all over Atlanta, etc, etc – but, still ……… a sailboat?!?!

So, a plan was hatched. We would dock Mira at the Rodney Bay Marina on St. Lucia, and mom would come and visit. But, she would spend the night in the Harbour Club Hotel adjacent to the Marina – not on the sailboat. It was a perfect plan! We explored the beautiful island of St. Lucia both by day sails and by car.  She ate many meals on Mira – as well as at some delicious restaurants. Mom climbed in and out of the dinghy (our only car) onto the dock next to Mira and also, on to the dock at the Harbour Club. By the way, climbing in and out of a “bucking bronco” dinghy in winds and waves is not an easy feat! I myself have been known to take a dip or two due to a misstep out of the dinghy!

Mom & Pam at the helm (is that a good idea?) on a day sail down the western coast of St. Lucia to Marigot Bay.
Sunset over Mira in Rodney Bay Marina
Exploring the fishing villages and bays on the mountainous, switchback roads of the western coast of St. Lucia by car – the Pitons in the distance.
The startling views of Gross and Petit Piton from our delicious outdoor lunch table at the Ladera Resort, on the outskirts of Soufriere. Truly one of the best views on the island.

The place to shop for fruits, vegetables, and spices on St. Lucia is the hundred-year-old market in Castries. A mishmash of outdoor stands, covered buildings, and crowded passageways – Mom and I needed an entire morning to navigate all of the choices and smells!
Lunch at the Pink Plantation House – 140 year French colonial home with a talented artist of hand painted ceramics in residence.
The view of the St. Lucia coastline and Martinique in the distance from the Pink Plantation House, in the hills overlooking the capital, Castries.
Of course, Mom and I had to spend at least one afternoon enjoying the bar and pool at the Harbor Club.

 

 

 

 

 

Bequia – One of the Jewels of the Grenadine Island Chain

Bequia has long been a favorite Caribbean island of ours – from our brief first visit on a day sail during our honeymoon on Young Island, St. Vincent in 1985, to a longer visit during a week-long sailing charter with the kids in 2009. We have always vowed to visit Bequia again. Luckily, we were able to stay 6 days this trip, and it was all that we expected. From gorgeous sunsets from Mira in Admiralty Bay (our anchorage for the week) to hiking the island to swimming gorgeous Princess Margaret Beach to dancing under the stars during the Bequia Jazz Fest ( thanks for the tip – Mark & Sara!) – Bequia was delightful!

Port Elizabeth, Bequia’s only town, sits at the head of Admiralty Bay. Colorful homes and fishing boats dot the hillside and bay.
Shops and vendor stands line the main street of Port Elizabeth.
Plenty of sailboats litter Admiralty Bay.
Bars, restaurants, shops and small hotels are strung together – joined by a meandering path along the water’s edge.

While in desperate search of TV coverage of the NFL playoffs on tiny Carriacou Island, we met up with Mark and Sara from Minnesota. We were able to catch them again on Bequia. First for happy hour on their beautiful catamaran, and then, Bequia Jazz Fest!
Deanna, one of the finalists on X Factor, was one of the performers.
Luscious garden on the hike down to Back Bay.
Princess Margaret Beach
During a short afternoon squall, I discovered Glenn like this – still changing the oil in the watermaker locker. No need to stop a boat project – just because of a little rain. Life is not all sunny sailing & beaches on Mira …..

 

 

 

 

 

St. Vincent – a pleasant surprise!

St. Vincent, the master of the Grenadines, has gotten a bad reputation in recent years – sadly, most of it deserved. Glenn and I honeymooned on Young Island, just off the coast of St. Vincent, more than 32 years ago. We have returned to visit Young Island by sailboat once before – introducing the kids to our favorite memories. But, since our last visit – St. Vincent has had increasing trouble protecting its visitors from island crime. Therefore, on our way north from Bequia to St. Lucia, we decided to stop for only one night along the west coast of St. Vincent – mostly to break up the long sail. We were surprised and delighted at all that Cumberland Bay had to offer!

Cumberland Bay is a deep and enchanting bay and part of an estate in the heart of St. Vincent. Unspoiled by tourism, there are still plenty of kind folks happy to help you anchor, take you on a tour or feed you!
We approached Cumberland with a bit of caution – mostly, because we knew we needed to anchor stern to the shore and then tie a line to a palm tree to secure the boat from swinging. Kind of a red neck European “med moor”. This was a first on Mira! It took a bit of doing, but finally success!!
Mira tied stern to a palm tree! The Bay is so deep and small – all the boats anchor in a row tied to the shore. Thank goodness for Carlos’ help!
As soon as we settled our anchor, the boat boys arrived to show us their wares. Wesley had some delicious fruits & vegetables, and of course, lots of stories to tell!
Joseph, who has raised his family in this Bay for generations, helped to orchestrate the controlled chaos of anchoring boats properly in Cumberland Bay.
We felt very safe the entire time we were in Cumberland. Spirited Lady, the yacht beside us, had been visiting this bay for 17 years.
A calm and beautiful sunset

We left our anchorage on St. Vincent at 5:00 am the next morning – pitch black and blinding fog – another first for Pam and Glenn on Mira. The trickiest step was not – leaving the anchorage without scraping the steep cliffs but rather – untying our stern line from the palm tree while raising the anchor – all without bumping our very close boat neighbor – in the pitch dark!! Luckily, we had almost no wind, and Glenn was able to pull himself along the line in the dinghy, untie and then we were able to slink out slowly and carefully.

We were a little nervous about this next sail – which could take us anywhere from 8-12 hours. The channel of open ocean between St. Vincent and St. Lucia is notorious for crazy gusty winds and seas like a washing machine. It did not disappoint! Winds were predicted to be up to 15 knots, and we had gusts of 25 knots with off/on wind shifts and rain squalls and therefore, sail changes. We were so happy to spot the Pitons looming in the south of St. Lucia!

Exhausted but happy to have the Pitons in our sights!

 

Grenada, Carriacou, Sandy Island, Union Island, Tobago Cays and beyond …..

Mira waited patiently for us at Port Louis Marina while Glenn and I celebrated Christmas and New Year’s in Atlanta. January 12 was the official launch day of Mira! Our plan for the next six weeks or so is to sail from island to island north up through the Eastern Caribbean Windward Islands.

So many questions ??? Do we anchor in the middle of the ocean? Do we ever stop? How long do we sail? Do you sail at night? Do you ever have happy hour?  The last question is a resounding “yes”! but not usually while we are sailing 🙂

Answer — a typical day for us goes like this — up early with the sunrise (sadly no blackout shades on Mira), breakfast, attempt at exercise, raise the anchor or release the mooring ball (a floating ball attached to a large concrete block that acts like an anchor for Mira) and we head off. We sail anywhere from 2 hours to 7-8 hours to our next destination stop for the night. At this point in our duo sailing adventure, we don’t plan to sail at night :). Before leaving Grenada, Glenn and I outlined a general sailing plan for the next couple of months. But, this plan is very flexible – — we are slaves to the wind and weather.

For an example of a typical day — Mira rests quite happily 20 yards from a tiny deserted island and reef in the Tobago Cays – while we swim, hike, explore and snorkel. The next morning we drop the mooring ball around 9 am and sail 4 hours to the island of Bequia. We enter the harbor at Admiralty Bay, pick up a mooring ball and plan to explore Bequia for the next days. We use our 11 ft dinghy (Franklin) as our “car” to go back and forth to the island. Franklin (named by Patrick – don’t ask) is essential to our sailing life. He carries us, groceries, trash, laundry, boat papers to customs – all the essentials!

Just before taking off with Mira, Glenn and I climbed to the top of Fort George, Grenada, late one afternoon and were treated by the most amazing views of the town of St. George and the lagoon at Port Louis.

View of Port Louis Marina from Fort George
Still happy after the long climb to the top!
Astounding view of St. George from the top

Mira set sail on January 12 and spent her first night in Tyrell Bay on the island of Carriacou. The smaller islands of Carriacou and Petit Martinique are all part of Grenada. . Carriacou is a Carib word meaning “island surrounded by reefs”. We found the island of Carriacou and its people to be enchanting. Carriacou is one of the last unspoiled islands in the Caribbean.

Sunset in Tyrell Bay

Views of Carriacou

The boat builders on Carriacou live on the northern end of the island and are of Scottish descent. The all wooden boats are built by hand.
Linky swears this iguana tastes like chicken!

Sandy Island is a tiny strip of sand off the coast of Carriacou surrounded by a perfect snorkeling and diving reefs. Mooring balls are provided by the Marine Park – no anchoring is allowed because boat anchors damage the delicate reefs. We spent two nights at Sandy Island – doing some boat work, snorkeling and swimming.

Night on Sandy Island
Sandy Island

Mira had a quick motor sail up to Union Island.  We cleared customs in Clifton – as Union is part of St. Vincent and Grenadines. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is one country comprised of the main island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which are a chain of smaller islands stretching south from St. Vincent island to Grenada.  The islands and the people of the Grenadines are friendly and welcoming – and their islands spectacular. Mira plans to visit as many of the Grenadines as possible. We spent only one night on Union, but managed to collect some fresh tuna, delicious fresh fruits and vegetables and have a wonderfully romantic dinner on the beach.

Tuna from a fisherman – filleted as I waited.
This freezer held the entire supermarkets frozen food selection.
Union Island supports many local fisherman.
Dinner at Sparrow’s on the beach.

Quick motor sail from Union Island to one of our favorite places on Earth – the Tobago Cays. The Tobago Cays are a group of small uninhabited islands protected from the Atlantic by a horseshoe reef. The Cays are also famous for being one of the locations for the Pirates of the Caribbean. We last visited here on a bareboat charter 9 years ago. The islands and reef haven’t changed very much, but sadly – the rest of the yachting world has discovered it! Still, we spent 2 delightful nights here on a mooring ball tucked away from the crowds near Jamesby Island. Days were spent snorkeling the marvelous reefs, swimming and sunning – oh! and of course, the requisite grilled lobster beach BBQ one evening.

Mira – very happy perched in the Tobago Cays!

Our favorite turtle friend who visited Mira every day.

One of the many schools of fish we swam through.
Captain Neil grilling the lobster. We watched one of the fisherman use his machete to kill the live lobsters just before he handed them to Neil. Doesn’t get any fresher than that!
Some interesting super heroes came to the beach BBQ too!
Pre- rum punch and lobster and super heroes – don’t we clean up nicely?

 

 

Thanksgiving in Grenada and on Mira

PAM:  We arrived from 4 different cities on 4 flights and 1 boat.  It took a massive amount of coordination and some speedy sailing (and, a little bit of luck) but …… somehow, all 6 of us made it to Grenada for a very special Thanksgiving week on Mira!  Especially sweet on Saturday night – to celebrate Kelly’s 23rd birthday!

Grenada, a southern Caribbean island just out of our reach during previous sailboat charters, was a spectacular surprise for all of us.  A day long island tour showed us the lush green mountains, crystal waterfalls, precocious monkeys, misty rainforests, golden beaches, spice, fruit and vegetable trees. Truly, a paradise. But, the most surprising discovery were the Grenadian people – warm and hospitable and excited to share and show off their island.


Nutmeg…..Bananas…..Cocoa……Breadfruit!

View of St. George from the mountains of Grenada.
The Mona monkey near the volcanic crater lake, Grand Etang, in the heart of Grenada.

                                                                         Kelly’s close encounter with a monkey.

 

Larissa doesn’t like the monkeys any better!

 

Royal Mt. Carmel waterfalls – crisp, clean, and very forceful!

River Antoine Rum factory is still making rum the same way since the mid 1800’s – a giant water wheel to crush the cane, dry stalks to heat the juice, large wooden scoops to move the juice from one cast-iron bowl to the next for the heating process. A beautiful, old structure that manages to churn out just enough 150 proof rum to supply Grenada – but still too strong to take home on the airplane!

 

 

 

Snorkel trip up the west coast to Molinere Bay to see the Underwater Sculpture Park.


Why We Chose the “Magic Carpet Ride”

PAM:  After Mira was in the water and ready to go – what would be the best way to get her from Argentina to the Caribbean? Since she would be heading north during the end of Caribbean hurricane season (officially ends November 1), we needed to arrive at an island south of the hurricane zone. Grenada, at the southern tip of the chain, fit the bill. Grenada is also a beautiful island and a cruising haven with lots of marinas and boatyards.

Antares yachts have been delivered by both professional captains and/or their new owners to the Caribbean for years. We just needed to decide what was the best way for us.  The sail to Grenada takes about 40 days total. Many of these days are spent miles offshore – out of sight of land – and without anchoring every night. This meant that we needed 3-4 people on board that could take shifts at the helm and sail her at night and in rough offshore seas. To further complicate matters, the sail north from Argentina up the coast of Brazil is traditionally filled with challenges. Strong winds on the nose of the boat, strong adverse currents, unpredictable weather conditions, and local unmarked fishing boats with nets to snag propellors. All things that neither Glenn nor I really wanted to experience on Mira’s maiden voyage!

 

But, as the boat would continue north and round the top corner of Brazil, the winds should shift and become more predictable and more friendly to sailboats.  Pikin, a seasoned Antares delivery captain, described the sail as “a magic carpet ride”! The wind is usually from behind the boat and blows very consistently – making the last 10-12 days of the trip very enjoyable.

We envisioned something more like this!

As soon as we heard that, the decision was easy! We hired Pikin and his crew to take Mira all the way up the coast of Brazil – through the challenging parts. Then, Glenn and I would  join them in Fortaleza (very northeast corner of Brazil) for the last 10-12 days of sailing offshore for “the magic carpet ride”! What better way to learn Mira than from a professional skipper while enjoying such a delightful sail!

Track the 4,200 mile, 40-day sailing route of Mira from her factory in Argentina to Grenada.