Monday, 9 February 2015

Mayaguana Island Bahamas







We left the British Virgin islands on the 6th of January, arriving on the 12th, covering 570nm.
The following movie is of the passage


video


We arrived at night then proceeded to Abraham bay in daylight. Just after we had got through the tricky reef entrance our gearbox failed but we were far enough in to anchor safely. Eric proceeded to get the gearbox off the motor which was a tedious and difficult task. Lifting the whole motor out was not an option with the boat rolling in the seas and swell. We needed the motor to be operational for charging our batteries and to keep our freezer full of food frozen, so we sent a message ashore with another yachtsman to inform the administrator (There are no customs/immigration officers on Mayaguana Island) that we couldn't clear in immediately.


Then a frontal system came through and the wind was up so we didn't want to leave the boat unattended. Once the gearbox problem was diagnosed the next task was to clear in and use the internet to order parts. ( A new gear shaft and dampening drive plate which were worn )
We spent a lot of time in the communications office over the next few days emailing suppliers in NZ and Boston.














The local folk were extremely helpful and friendly putting us in contact with a mechanic who was here from Nassau working on the roading, The gearbox was taken apart on the back of a ute



A very nice man organised the parts to be put on the flight to Mayaguana Island when they arrived in Nassau from the USA. Local folk also gave us rides from the dinghy dock and in ferrying water from the well.



Eric was able to do some electrical work on a boat in return.


While we waited for the parts we explored a wrecked yacht on the foreshore and after getting permission we managed to salvage a furling system.



Time was spent snorkelling the reef and fishing, but we both came down with a sickness.( Lethargy, heavy legs and fullness in the head and sinuses) Not typical of Ciguatera poisoning but it made us a bit wary of eating the volume of fish and lobster we had been eating, even though we had only eaten small fish and safe species. We called in at the nurses clinic to see if there was a virus going round with these symptoms but not so.


We had a great time beachcombing and enjoying the birdlife.


We hired a motorbike for a day and toured the island visiting Pirates well and Betsy bay settlements and the northern lagoon


An interesting site was the old Nasa Thor missile radar tracking towers overlooking the runway



Water collection was tedious. Usually we get enough rain water from a deck filling system but there had been no rain of significance since we arrived and our water maker failed so it was a long dinghy ride ashore followed by a km walk along a road being ripped up for water reticulation. A community well of rain water was available where we required a dipping bucket to reach down. Then it was a long walk with the jerry can on a wheelie back to the dinghy then to the boat. Usually by this time the wind had got up and our clothing was soaked in salt water!
In 8 yrs we had needed to use our water maker once and when we needed it most it failed!!
(But often we got a lift by a friendly local or the community police)


Evenings were spent enjoying the sunsets at the end of full days and making new friends.





When the parts arrived by Bahama Air, the gearbox was put back together and after some initial problems it was reunited with the motor...


After 4 weeks at Mayaguana Island we were underway again






Sunday, 4 January 2015

The British Virgin Islands



We left St Martin and set sail for the BVI's under full sail on the 27th of December. It was a good passage arriving at Virgin Gorda at 0130hrs.
Eric caught 2 Mahimahi so he was happy. It was the first game fish we had caught since leaving Trinidad in October. We realised that all our gear was too big. The fish we caught in the Pacific were much bigger and once Eric downsized his rig we were in luck.
He has kept us pretty well supplied while at anchor though in Trevally and snapper.

After a few hrs sleep we checked in at Gun Creek Customs and Immigration then moved up to Prickly pear island off the Saba rock resort.
The British Virgin Islands are the largest cruising grounds for both bare boat and crewed charter boats in the world and one can see why with predictable weather, clean waters and safe anchorages. The population is only approx 25,000 so there are many places that are not populated where you can anchor if solitude is what you're after. The popular places are full of day mooring bouys but at night if one chooses to stay, there are places to anchor or one can pay for a night mooring.

We have made a movie of our adventures


video

We are currently waiting for a weather window to leave for the Bahamas, which looks like it will be Tuesday the 4th of January. The trip should take us 4 days to the southern end of the chain.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

St Martin (French) and Sint Maarten (Dutch)


This unique 7mile long island is divided through the middle, the north being French and the south Dutch.
According to Chris Doyle's cruising guide there is a charming story, unsupported by historical fact that the French and Dutch were so civilised that, rather than fight over the island, they had a Frenchman armed with a bottle of wine walk in one direction and a Dutchman equipped with a flask of gin take the other. Where they met became the boundary, and the French ended up with a bit more because the gin was stronger than the wine!

 
We arrived here on the 14th December after a pleasant downwind overnight sail from Barbuda, anchoring on the outside of the lagoon on the French side at Marigot Bay. We waited here until the swing bridge opens to allow yachts into the sheltered lagoon. Waiting outside the canal entrance while boats came out of the lagoon was what the guide book suggested. But alas while we politely allowed others to go through ahead of us it closed!!!! Not having good enough French to call them on VHF radio and advised not to call speaking English we went back on anchor. Feeling somewhat pissed off Eric bought out the rum bottle and Cathy decided to cut the Xmas cake.


The next morning at the proposed opening time of 0815hrs we waited again at the canal entrance but the bridge did not open at all!!! Later we were to discover that the guide book info had changed and the bridge opened at 0900hrs

Sooooo we set off around the island to the Dutch side and to their bridge! We waited until the opening enjoying the scenery out in Simpson Bay.

The Dutch bridge opened on time and we followed other boats through into the sheltered lagoon



When the big super yachts go through it is quite a site with only centimetres of clearance each side and by the damage to the bridge sometimes the skipper gets it wrong as you can see by the photo


We counted 30 motor yachts over 150' long and around 10 super yachts within the lagoon and more outside. This isn't even the peak season! Many of the Caribbean islands economies rely heavily on the charter boat business and these super yachts are the charter fleet for the super rich who fly in and out on their lear jets as opposed to cattle class in the airbus! The middle class fly in on the largest jets and sail away on the smallest yachts while the rich fly in on the smallest of jets and sail away on the biggest yachts!


After 15mins the next bridge opened from St Maarten on the Dutch side to St Martin on the French side. This one is a swivel bridge


Irish friends on SV Karma and NZ friends on SV Rhombus were in the lagoon so we anchored nearby

We spent the next 2 weeks restocking the boat with food and duty free liquor, doing maintenance and exploring our new surroundings. As always in a new place it took time to find what we wanted and at the right price. It was strange to pay Euro at one end of the lagoon and US dollars at the other end.

We walked up to Fort Louis for the great views back across the Lagoon and out to sea


During our walk we saw Iguana and these very colourful wasps.



These  Iguana also liked sunning themselves on boats



In October a tropical storm developed into a category 3 hurricane named Gonzalo and swept across St Martin destroying many boats. As we circumnavigated the lagoon we saw remnants of the damage




A walk to Maho bay down a beautiful long beach and through resorts brought us to the end of the airport runway. This is a very popular place to spend some hrs drinking at the bar, swimming and lying on deckchairs while the planes come in. They come over so close to the beach that you feel you could reach up and touch them.


Eric looking out to sea and at the bottom right eating a baguette

Many people line up to take photos at takeoff and it's pretty exciting to be in the jet stream as these planes roar up their engines causing the sand to have a sandblasting effect. Then they all dive for cover!!




I took this movie then had to dive for cover. It was hilarious!

video


A bus trip to the Dutch capital Philipsburg was interesting. 4 cruise ships were docked and the town centre and beach restaurants were buzzing with tourists. We did some xmas shopping and strolled along the beach



We had a quiet but pleasant Xmas aboard “Erica”eating and drinking and watching the sites. On Boxing day we topped up our diesel and water tanks in preparation for leaving the next day.


On the 27th of December we left the lagoon and set sail for the British Virgin islands

SV Erica

SV Erica

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We met in 1971 and it was Eric's dream to build his own yacht and sail the world. This became a joint dream but it was not until 1994 that we were able to start building. "Erica" was launched in 2001 after 7yrs building her. It then took us 5 yrs to prepare her and ourselves before leaving NZ to see the world

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