torstai 23. joulukuuta 2010

December 23rd 2010

Season's Greetings!

While in St. Martin, we were surprised to see the facade of a big commercial building wrapped in colourful, Christmassy plastic with the following words written above the entrance:

I first thought of asking you to figure out what language the message is in and to translate it into English but you probably have guessed it already. Yes, for some unknown reason, it is in Finnish and it wishes you all


tiistai 21. joulukuuta 2010

December 20th 2010

Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

14º 05.077´N, 60º 57.640´W

We arrived in Rodney Bay the following morning just after dawn and dropped anchor among a few dozen other boats but as the bay is over a mile long there was ample room for all of us.

Before going ashore to check in, we watched as six traditional Caribbean sailing boats competed against each other. The boats have one colourful sail at the bow, and ten crew members each with a pole on which to sit in order to balance the vessel. The stronger the wind, the more crew members are sitting on their poles. It looked like a lot of fun!

It is now almost Christmas, and we still don't know how and where we are going to celebrate it, or whether we'll skip Christmas altogether. This is the very first time we are without our daughters, and it really makes a big difference. One alternative is to sail to Admiralty Bay in Bequia where Scandinavians traditionally gather for Christmas. It is only about 60 miles from here, so we still have a few more days before we have to make up our mind.

December 19th 2010


15º 34.83’ N, 61º 27.85’ W

We didn't go to Marie-Galante after all. In fact, we skipped Guadeloupe altogether and sailed through the night to Prince Rupert Bay, Dominica. Dominica is the southernmost of the Leeward Islands and our favourite amongst them. It is also the only island that still has Carib Indians living on it, the once fierce warriors who have given their name to the whole Caribbean area.
There is a nice story also about Dominica. It tells how Christopher Columbus, after returning to Europe, tried to describe the topography of the island to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. When he thought of the landscape of Dominica and found himself lost for words, he resorted to crumpling up a sheet of paper to illustrate the dramatic shape of the island with its majestic mountains and deep, narrow valleys.

Back in the 1970's, Hurricane David hit the island with devastating force pushing ashore all the vessels anchored in Prince Rupert Bay. The rusty wrecks are still there, dotting the shoreline of the town of Portsmouth. Now, more than thirty years later, there is a Panamanian vessel anchored in the Bay and rumour has it that the wrecks are finally taken apart and the scrap metal would be shipped to Panama to be used as raw material for steel. We do hope the rumour is true!
Soon after our arrival, a small boat came alongside Sarema and a man called: 'Hey, I remember you. Welcome back to Dominica!' He was Albert who had taken us on a tour along the Indian River last time we visited Dominica, but that was more than five years ago! I guess it is easier to remember us than many other boats thanks to our (over-)energetic boatdog Latte.

This time we wanted to see Sisserous, a parrot that is the national bird and emblem of Dominica. Albert arranged Alec to take us to the mountains where the birds reside. The only problem was that they live in a rainforest and although we did everything in our power (which of course is very little) to bring the sun out from behind the heavy clouds, it was pouring the whole time we were in the forest. Despite the weather, however, we did see a few parrots flying noisily over the treetops or sitting on branches under lush vegetation seeking shelter from the continuous rain. Although the parrots we saw were soaking wet, they looked very much like the one shown on Dominica's flag.
Back on board, we changed into dry clothes, had lunch, and set sail for Rodney Bay, St. Lucia.

maanantai 13. joulukuuta 2010

December 13th 2010

English Harbour, Antigua

17º 00.18’ N, 61º 45.65’ W

On the 29th of November, we weighed anchor, motored to the fuel dock to fill both the fuel and water tanks, and set sail for the Caribbean. Six and a half days and 880 nautical miles later we anchored in Marigot Bay, St. Martin. The leg which was rather uneventful could wind-wise be divided into three distinct parts: too much wind, hardly any wind and finally, the trade winds thanks to which we managed to make a total of 155 nautical miles during our last day at sea.
When checking in St. Martin, we learned to our great surprise that unlike five years ago, we now had to pay a fee for using the sea bottom for anchoring. In our opinion, putting moorings to protect the environment is highly recommended but charging sailors for anchoring in front of the town is plain GREEDY!

The northern part of the double-named island, called St. Martin, is French and the southern part, Sint Maarten, belongs to the Netherlands. There is a nice story about how the island was originally divided between the two countries: instead of fighting over the island, both countries chose a representative, the Frenchman equipped with a bottle of wine and the Dutchman armed with a bottle of genever. The Frenchman started walking from the north of the island and the Dutchman from the south. Where they met, the boundary was drawn. The French side is a bit bigger for the simple reason that genever is so much stronger than wine. We think that the same civilised principal could still be applied to many territorial conflicts around the world.

The reason why we had chosen St. Martin/Sint Maarten as our first landfall in the Caribbean was purely financial (this decision was made before we knew that we would be charged for anchoring!). There are two big chandleries on the Dutch side, and the island is duty free. But, on the 12th of December, after we had bought lots of spare parts, a rubber bucket to replace the one we managed to drop into the sea in Bermuda, and a breeze booster as, after three seasons up north, we are not yet accustomed to the hot weather, we were more than happy to weigh anchor and continue our journey to Antigua.

Early the following day, we arrived in English Harbour which was absolutely packed. We had major difficulties in finding a place for Sarema amongst the milling throng of boats of various shapes and sizes. And when we went to check in, for some reason, we were not at all surprised to hear that, here too, you had to pay for anchoring.
We are going to stay in Antigua till we hopefully manage to get our receiving but not transmitting SSB radio repaired. If that is not possible, we'll continue island-hopping to Marie-Galante, Guadeloupe, where we hope to see less people and fewer boats.