Headed South

After motoring across from Tortola to Spanish Town on Virgin Gorda, topping off with diesel and clearing customs it was midday by the time we left BVI on 11 May 2017. Now it was late in the season the chances of the wind having any north in it was pretty low so we picked a quiet day and just motored into 10 knots directly on the nose. Much better than bashing directly to windward for the 85Nm passage. After a nice boring drive it was the very early hours of the morning when we arrived back in Marigot bay St Martin. Greeted by a beautiful calm night overlooked by a bright halo moon. Ahhh, anchor down and time for sleep.

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Stunning flat calm morning. Water still and clear enough to admire the anchor chain lazing on the bottom. She’s going to be a Hot one. Really appreciate the covers Drakkar has to keep some of the sun load off us and the boat and the breeze blowing through. Critical in the tropics.

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St Martin is a stepping stone on the run south. We will be here for just a few days to catch up with our friends on SV Fantasy and stock up from the French supermarkets. Feels strange to be at the back of the fleet as most people have run south already to hide form the hurricane season that opens at the end of this month. It’s going to be hard on the wind all the way back down to at least Guadeloupe as the trade winds are now settled in the E – SE. Ah well, seeing the BVI’s is worth the price of working back into the wind going down island for the next few weeks. A non-tourist photo of SV Fantasy crew and us hoofing it across the Dutch side back streets.

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Why are we trekking through such salubrious surroundings? The petting zoo of course! What else would you expect to find at the back of an industrial estate after walking through a petrochemical plant? (white tanks to the right of photo.) Quite a contrast after walking through the badlands, then industrial area and a driveway through the refinery to end up on a beautiful peninsular with a lovely beach. Here the cruise ship captives are waiting to be horsed.

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Shayla volunteers at the farm and the kids were hoping to be able to join in and groom the horses. Unfortunately due to island time the stable guy was away so we had to make do with petting the horses. Amelia was entranced. This may get expensive… Thankfully we can’t fit a horse on the boat.

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No visit to St Martin is complete without going to the kids paradise of Explorer Is. (Actually called Grand Ilet on the chart.) Nothing like letting your kids play with fire and build forts in the bush. Here Boston is stoking a fire he made and Amelia is adverturing somewhere on the island. Look up “5 dangerous things you should let your kids do.” Time to let those cotton wool wrapped kids out into the real world. With appropriate teaching of course and you many need a glass of wine to distract mum.

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Swapping kids for a sleep over we had Caleb on board while Amelia went to SV Fantasy. The aft deck is an awesome addition to the space on board. Great platform and diving board for water play keeping the wet kids out of the cockpit. And hanging washing under the solar panels.

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Spot the sun bleached boat boys.

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Here is something you don’t see in NZ when topping up with petrol. Why have one out board when you can have 3 x 300hp. Man those fish must be fast, and worth a lot of money. I hate to think what that set up cost and it’s common. In fact it’s rare to see anything less. Perhaps they are a bit small in another department…?

Oh and huge lizards hanging out.

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Amelia and Boston were amazed they could pet them! Reporting them to feel scally and hard except for their head crests which were softer. 

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There are at least 5 iguanas in this shot and plenty more in the shrubs just out of shot as the kids stalk them. All was going well until the Big Daddy lizard came towards the kids as if to protect his harem. Um, kids, I don’t think you should pat that 6 foot one who is looking aggressive and stalking you.

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After only a few days we were punching south again occasionally throwing a little bit of spray off the bow. Hard on the wind we were just able to lay St Barts. A nice short passage of 12Nm this time.

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St Baths is a bit Fancy. We dawdled amongst the boutique shops, you know the kind that don’t have price tags on display. Note my collared shirt and tidy pants and shoes instead of the usual jandals to try not to get kicked out of the place. No good photos of the fancy shops and bars, but we found an anchor.

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The day was another scorcher so for same reason the family were not so keen to climb to every view point to get photos.

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Gustavia is a neat little harbour with picturesque red roofed houses cuddling up close. The cloud of boats moored and anchored out is not visible behind the headland we are on the other end of. At EUR 18 per day just to anchor off the harbour we were quickly out of there.

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And up to the beautiful Anse Du Colombier on the NW corner where we pick up a rare mooring. It was free, well included in the clearance fees, and they are trying to regenerate the sea grass as an important marine habitat. I like how big Drakkar looks compared to 44’ F&P Orana and dwarfs the Lagoon 380 next to us.

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Shhhh, a shot of Shannon I will try to sneak past the sensor. Great to be swimming distance off a beautiful beach again.

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Seriously, do you have to take another photo?

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Yes, yes I do have to take another photo. This place is stunning.

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Some of the spiders here are stunning too. On a climb up the hillside it was slightly spooky with all the rustling in the dry leaf litter under the scrub as the assorted wild life scurries away from our approach.

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On the way north I had spotted the rugged Ile Fourchue lying just off St Barts. It looked like a cool place to explore and was our next stop. Wow, a rare almost complete family portrait.

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The island is covered in low tough and scratchy plants huddling amongst the dry loose rocks. The vegetation was completely denuded by goats whose population then crashed. The few surviving goats were removed around 2005 and the plant life is staging a recovery. Some of the big flax plants have impressive 15 foot tall flowering stems.

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Our exploration took us up

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And up…

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And UP! The last pitch was a careful scramble to the top of a rocky pinnacle.

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Hey, there’s my boat. Great picture Amelia. Can’t get enough of looking at our boat. Shannon tells me to say sorry for imposing so many scenery shots looking at our boat on our innocent readers.

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The slightly sketchy scramble up was rewarded with stunning 360 degree views. And a nice cooling breeze on another scorching day. Here Amelia is looking south back towards St Barts.

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After the few days R&R we were again hurrying south and checked out of St Barts on 20 May 2017 for our run to St Eustatius, more commonly called Statia and much easier to spell. We were 1 hour out when reading the supermarket receipt in French we discovered we had been charged for 51 bags of flour, not the 2 we had bought! EUR 50 was worth turning around for so back we went. The refund was easy and happy to forgive them as we have discovered a lovely surprise on the expensive boutique island. Their supermarket had cheap and very good cuts of steak fillets. Yum! Man we have been missing a good steak on the barbie! The red meat in the islands has been prohibitively expensive and disappointing cuts when tried so our go to has been chicken, chicken, mince, pork and more chicken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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