Friday, 19 September 2014

VIRGINIA, PENNSYLVANIA , MARYLAND, VIRGINIA.18th September


It's nearly four weeks since we left Taipan in Fernandina Beach Florida. We have camped every night except one and travelled 4000 Kilometres. Since we left Taipan a month ago. Since our last update we have visited relatives in Virginia, the Gettysberg Battlefield Museum and Amish Communities in Pennsylvania, and the tall boat Show for the Star-Spangled Banner 150th commemoration in Baltimore, Maryland.
Our visit for a night with Juduth and Robert was just a foretaste of a longer visit which we are about to embark on in Alexandria, Virginia. We will take in the sights of Washington with them for a few days then if we need to see more we will return for a rerun in a few weeks.
After leaving the Skyline Parkway and Shanendoah Mountain region we headed cross country by all the back roads and lanes to Gettysberg. We followed the Potomac River north into Pensylvania and explored the C&O Canal.
The 184.5 mile long Chesapeake & Ohio Canal is located along the north bank of the Potomac River, starting in Washington, DC and ending in Cumberland, MD. The canal was built between 1828 and 1850, and it operated sporadically between floods until 1924. It has been turned into a public trail and is much used by bicycle and foot traffic. Certain stretches also permit horse riding.
We met a cyclist on the C&O Path and he recommended a visit to Gettysberg Museum so we headed of in that direction. 
Gettysberg, Adams County Pennsylvania. was settled the early 1700s and buildings have been largely preserved in the main town center. "In the summer of 1863, the farming community of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, became the site of the bloodiest battle in the Civil War. The fierce fighting left 51,000 casualties in its wake, turning farm fields into graveyards and churches into hospitals. The battlefield's first visitors were thousands of relatives searching for dead and wounded soldiers." The museum and surrounding battle fields took us 2 days to see and was fascinating. The highlight was the cyclorama. 
"In the late 1880s, French artist Paul Philippoteaux took brush to canvas and created the Battle of Gettysburg Cyclorama painting. He spent months on the battlefield researching the battle with veterans, a battlefield guide and a photographer. It took Philippoteaux and a team of assistants more than a year to complete the painting. The result is a breathtaking canvas that measures 377 feet in circumference and 42 feet high. Longer than a football field and as tall as a four-story structure, the Gettysburg Cyclorama oil painting immerses visitors in the fury of Pickett’s Charge during the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Today the Gettysburg Cyclorama is displayed  the way it was originally intended with an overhead canopy and a three-dimensional diorama foreground that realistically features stone walls, broken fences, shattered trees and a cannon."
The visitors center is very modern and has beautifully presented informative interactive exhibits which kept us enthralled for hours.
Next on to Baltimore. We learned from a tour guide that the Tall Ships were expected in Baltimore that day to Commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the writing of the National Anthem. The Star-Spangled Banner so we decided to drive down to the Inner Harbour and participate in the festivities.
There were a number of ships, mostly American and one old Dutch ship but overall it was a little disappointing after seeing the Tall Ships Fleet in the spectacular Cape Town Harbour just last year. Baltimore is a busy city with an interesting waterfront district and lots of history but we decided to head back out bush and leave our exploration of Baltimore to a later date and do it by boat! Easier to anchor and use Public Transport than to park the car.
Heading North East out towards Pittsburg we were diverted to Lancaster Pensylvania,  by someone who mentioned that it was a center of Amish community and farming practice. We started with the Old Lancaster City Market and then the tourist center where we received lots of good info and set off to explore the Amish farmlands and markets. With our interest in horses and farming it was amazing to see these beautiful properties, immaculately laid out like quilting. No electricity, horses and Mules doing the work of modern tractors with many modern machines converted for horse drawn operation. The children attend school compulsorily to year 8 then return to the farm. Girls learn women's skills and boys learn farm skills. The school houses are small one room schools, scattered through the community enabling the local children to walk or ride self propelled scooters. No push bikes !  The teachers are all Amish and usually girls. We spent some time with an Amish Harness maker, of whom there are many, along with traditional Buggy and coach builders, to service this community. Amish arrived in Pennsylvania in the early 1700s from Europe escaping from religious persecution. There are many communities scattered around the USA and numbers total around 240,000. Lancaster is the biggest area. We were just enthralled and spent 2 lovely days stooging around the lanes and back roads. The countryside is very productive and the farming is intensive, with crops of tobacco, maize, lucern and soya bean predominantly. Most farms also seem to have cows and pigs, chickens, ducks and often turkey's. We saw a couple of alpaca guarding some free range chickens, teams of Mules harvesting corn and lots of lovely buggies amongst other things. The food markets were full of delicious tree ripened stone fruits, berries, gourds we have never before seen, preserves, pastes, jams and all manner of delicious pies and baked goodies! It was time to leave!!
Heading south again towards Washington DC and Judith and Roberts home in Alexandria we made two overnight stops on the way. We were enthralled by the little town of Chesapeake City on the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal. It's about 50 houses and about 20 in the central town. They are various sizes but small and terribly old and cute! The canal commences it's 14 nm path across the Delmarva Peninsular from the Elk River in north Chesapeake to the  Delaware bay. It was completed in 1829, one of the most expensive canal works of the period. It had 14 locks and was originally used by barges towed by mules and horse teams. It has since had all the locks removed and been widend and deepend to accommodate large ocean going vessels. This route cuts over 300 nm off the trip from Baltimore to Philadelphia.
Well we arrived in Alexandria yesterday and today we did the Pilgrimage to Mt Vernon the family home and farm of George Washington. Another outstanding Museum with excellent interpretive center and displays. We were kept enthralled for nearly 6 hours. 
We will spend a few days here and try to absorb more of the fascinating history of the place.  We both absolutely love this country!





Thursday, 4 September 2014

ON THE ROAD 3rd September


We Left Fernandina beach and Taipan on Saturday 23rd August. On Friday we hauled her out of the water and made her fast on the big cradle  at Tiger Point Marina ready for storage for a few months of the Hurricane season.
Our first stop was Jacksonville for a tent which we found advertised. It attaches to the rear of the SUV. With the back opened up we plan to sleep in the car and store all our stuff in the tent. 
The first campground was at Cathead Creek just out of Darien. A ranch style layout with cows over the fence and the only grass camp we have had so far. Very clean and friendly.  We managed to erect the tent without instructions and it appears quite satisfactory. 
Sunday we were off to Savannah. What a nice city that is! Lovely old waterfront with tram! Horses pulling carriages for tourists. Stooged a while there and should have spent longer but decided to head out to a camp ground onroute to Charleston. It was a horrid run down nasty place but we learning what to look out for now. Charleston is a big busy city with a lovely old centre. The museum was a total failure and has put us off museums for a while! So old fashioned. Loads of writing and lots of bad photos. Defiantly give it a miss! We spent two nights at James Park Island and explored the city and surrounds.
Several of the next camps as we headed north west were on lake shores.The lakes were made to provide a water source for irrigation and for power production. They also assists in controlling the flooding of the very low flat countryside. The north west of South Carolina is still quite flat but as we approached the border with North Carolina we started seeing a few hills! The biggest we've seen in months! 
Dreher Island State Park is a series of linked islands in a huge fresh man made lake.  It's fresh and surrounded by beautiful campsites set amongst tall pines and oaks. BBQ and table and chairs power and tap at each site. When we arrived about 330 we set up the tent then took a lovely long swim.... Well laze in the water really before dinner. Our first swim in the USA. 
There is some peanut cotton and corn country in the area. A few pivot irrigators but generally not very productive looking farms. Friendly people and pleasant driving. We take the back roads keeping clear of the freeways where possible. I drove for the first ime on some of the outback roads on the 4th day out. I thought I did ok. I didn't run any one down but a couple of lolly pop people jumped out of my way as I came through!! The car IS quite wide!  David took over again after a couple of hours!
As the big Labour day weekend approached we booked into Pisgah Mountain campground to ensure we had a spot. We've met a few tent campers and they are nice and friendly, doing what we are doing, winging it day by day mostly, however Labour Day weekend is big here. Asherville is nearby so we visited on Saturday and had a good day in the River Arts District. What a nice area. There was a mountain Music festival on called the Shindig on the Green so we decided to stay on and partake. Lots of music and clogging! Met some lovely people and exchanged addresses. Hope to catch up with them again somewhere! The drive back up the mountain in the dark and fog was a little nerve wracking, but better than being at sea in fog! 
It's interesting that here in the US horses are very much part of the scene. Many of the parks, both state and federal have extensive horse trails and special camp grounds and facilities all supplied at nominal fee. There are thousands of miles of trails! Many of them are multi use, bikes pedestrians and horses. Country about the same size as OZ and we have practically none and the ones we do have are under constant threat! 
On Monday we started wandering up the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic drive about 450m long. It's very historic and follows the Appalachian mountain trails of some ol Indian tribe!  It a lot cooler too up this way which is great for walking and sleeping.
We've done a little walking and marvelled at the amazing flora. Wild hibiscus, rhododendron, american chestnuts and the beech, spruce and oaks are just wonderful. Seen deer, coyote and lots of birds There is not much livestock and the grass seems to be just cut and rolled in bales. Some Historic sites, mostly reproductions but very picturesque. The countryside is beautiful. Farming dosnt look very prosperous but it's sure pretty. Lots of lovely ol wooden fences in that stacked zig zag style. No posts! 
It's really nice because there is no commercial traffic permitted on the Parkway. So no trucks! All just slow ol tourists like us! We have nearly done the 450 odd miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway and tomorrow we will start in the Shenandoah Narional Park on the Skyline Parkway. About 170m. We have arranged to meet Judith my cousin, and Robert her husband, at their mountain cabin in Hood, Virginia,on the 6th to spend a few days with them. Very much looking forward to catching up. They have a cabin about half way along the Shanendoah mountain range in the foothills. 
We don't have access to Internet very often and I can't load photos with the iPad so photos will come later.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

MOVES AFOOT. 20th August 2014


We have had a busy time since arriving back to Taipan roughly a month ago. We hired a car, toured all over Jacksonville and St Augustine primarily looking for a decent 2nd hand car in which to do some more extensive touring. Second hand car buying is a huge raffle anywhere and here is the same. We decided on an Escalade or a Expedition both large 4x4 V8 gas guzzlers. We need to fit all our camp gear plus be able to sleep in it in bear country! Finally after much deliberation we settled on a Cadillac Escalade 1999 model. We met some people who recommended a good mechanic so we took it along and had some oil leaks fixed and a full service etc. It was pronounced fit for purpose so we are now mobile.

Last night on the marina in Jacksonville.

On the 14th of August we left River City Brewing Company Marina and headed to Sisters Creek anchorage at the mouth of the St Johns River in preparation for our first leg of the inter coastal Waterway. This waterway is  made up of natural inlets, saltwater rivers, bays, and sounds while other sections are artificial canals which create a safe waterway for traffic and the transfer of goods.  It became apparent during the British Blockade after the1812 war that the waterway was justified. The legacy is a fantastic water highway, 3000 miles long, from southern Florida to the Great Lakes and including the Gulf. 

Trying a spot of Bass fishing.

The major difficulty for us is that it was designed for masts shorter than 65 feet and some of the dredging is a little lacking in places causing a potential deapth problem for Taipan. At 7 ft 6 in we are told we are marginal. Taipans mast is 65ft 6in. This all means that we have to navigate the waterway on a rising tide and the bridges at lower tide. This take a bit of planning ahead and it all takes quite a while to get far. We spent the first day traveling steadily along at about 5 knots, managing to avoid the shallower water although we were pleasantly surprised at the depths. Almost nothing under 6feet below the keel. The only bridge we had to negotiate before arriving in Fernandina Beach 25miles north was showing 66 feet when we arrived. We touched with the antenna which is fine but decided to wait till the tide dropped to allow 67ft of air. At dusk we approached the bridge on a falling tide and with 67ft we didn't touch anything. 
We successfully negotiated out first 65 ft bridge.

We loved our day on the marshes. Its like a garden. Marsh grass is like long lawn. All even and smooth on top and neatly finishing at the water. Its very green at this time of year. There was very little traffic as it was Friday but Saturday there were lots of small fining boats out bristling with rods and full of families out to catch "theyselvs" a fish. The bird life is  phenomenal. Would seriously consider doing some more legs on the waterway despite the inconveniences and slowness of progress.
For now though we have tied up at Tiger Point marina in Fernandina Beach where Taipan will be hauled and set upon a very big strong cradle for the last couple of months of the Hurricane Season while we do a little land travel in the "new" Cadillac.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

WILD LIFE AND OTHER ADVENTURES July 2014


Side trips during our search for a second hand car have been varied but a highlight was definitely a visit to Clarks Fish Camp Seafood Restaurant. Friends, Cindy and Bob who live on a houseboat in the marina, took us down to dinner at this amazing place. It's is absolutely chocked to the rafters with stuffed animals! Every sort of stuffed animal! Even a kangaroo! Apparently they are mostly donated. the food was sensational and the setting, right on the water, is lovely. If you ever get to Jacksonville don't miss it. We had a fabulous evening in great company.


St Augustine is a major center not far south of Jacksonville and is the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement and port in the continental USA. Founded in September 1565 by Spanish admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles., and subsequently served as the capital of Spanish Florida for two hundred years.Amongst its many historical attractions is an old fort, some amazing old public buildings and some lovely traditional southern homes. We spent some time in the Lightner Museum and enjoyed the historic precinct.

Lightner Museum St Augustine
Observations since arriving in the USA. Things we have most noticed here is the prevalence of legal practices and Churches.  There seems to be one at least on every corner, and huge billboards urging people to take legal action for mostly car injuries. There are churches of every denomination and many I've never heard of! 

We have also had to learn to drive on the wrong side of the road! There have been a few hairy moments but I won't comment because as of this moment I still have not plucked up the courage to give it a go!  Cars here are BIG! There are of course normal size cars but the big ones are really BIG! Likewise the freeways are great knotted, convoluted concrete mazes. Lucky we don't have deadlines because we got in the wrong lane many times and ended up somewhere else! Thankfully the Maps on the iPad mostly saved the day. The other thing is these big cars drive FAST! There are speed limits but no one seems to take any notice. Thankfully the traffic isn't as congested as Perth. Most drivers are more polite too.

Architecturally I am hoping to see some improvement. There are many lovely old Southern style timber homes set amongst ancient Oaks draped in Spanish Moss. Real picture book stuff. I am yet so see however any modern or innovative homes anywhere! Not one! Tradition seems to rule. The use of vast expanses of glazing appears not in any housing! Likewise food. There is plenty of it and it's tasty but again terribly traditional! Maybe is a southern thing!

More images from Jacksonville and St Augustine. 

Monday, 21 July 2014

TIME OUT. TIME IN. BACK FROM OZ 19th July


Flying over northern Russia.

Taipan has been tied up at the River City Brewing company on the St Johns River in central Jacksonville. We left her and flew to Austrlaia on the 11th of April. Before our departure we had to completely strip the exterior. All the clears, covers, sails, and loose items had to be cleaned and packed below. The interior is stuffed to capacity. We sent the Main Sail off to North Sails to get the slugs replaced as the kept breaking on the trip here. We have also ordered a new track system and new cars for the battens on the Main. Some of the Clears also needed re stitching as the Thailand thread is failing in many places. so these were also sent out to a canvas repair shop to be returned to us when we arrived back in Jacksonville. Our flight out was via Chicago  a long wait, then over the Arctic, down through Kamchatka  northern Russia and China into Hong Kong. A short wait then Perth. Total about 32 hours. Just managable!

Proud Great Grand Father Colin

Home is in the country 20 km from Albany on the south west coast, 400km south of Perth. The homestead  is rented so we spent most of our visit staying with Colin, Kris's Dad, in Albany. It was great to spend time together. Since March, Edna, Kris's Mum, has been a permanent resident at Clarence Estate, a nice Aged Care facility in Albany.  She has become too frail for Colin to manage at home. We were able to visit her every day. When we arrived it was fair weather with mostly fine days but gradually the winter kicked in and we made the move to winter cloths. A much milder cold than Cape Town, South Africa, last year.  


Farmer David and his trusty tractor.
The major work on the farm involved removing some overgrown trees from around the homestead. The Swamp Mahoganys had become enormous with their far reaching root systems threatening the house. What a job. Chester a very good friend, and David, with the assistance of Sony, our tenant and as it happens, an accomplished tree lopper, dealt with the biggest trees over two days. We took out 18 large trees. The mess was huge and the clean up took over a week.
There was other work involving drains, yukky… and moving a water tank. The guttering on both the sheds and the house was in deplorable condition as a result of the debris from the trees and the long term accumulation which the agents failed to deal with. 


Before
After











The mess after harvest of Blue Gums


The harvest of the dreaded Blue Gums has been completed on half the property. Still a couple of years till the next half. The mess is terrible. Acres of stumps and stones and mounds to clean up. The returns from blue gums are at rock bottom but I guess some plantations are just being abandoned unharvested so some return was better than none. It will all be needed, and more, to restore the fencing, water and repair the damage to what was previously beautiful grazing country.


We were scheduled to return to Taipan in Jacksonville on the 8th of June but an incident involving a chainsaw and a small wayward pine tree saw David admitted to hospital emergency with a suspected broken jaw. Not wanting to return to USA with a pre-existing medical condition we elected to delay our flights by a month. It took 3 X-rays and scans to determine that it was not in fact broken, he only has deep nerve grooves! I did have my doubts as there seemed to be no deterrent affect to his ability to eat and drink
Beautiful baby Connor.


It was an easy decision to make, to stay the extra month, with a new grandchild due any time. 
On the 16th of June Jason and Ferne presented us with  a grandson!. Connor Beau, weighing in at a healthy 8 1/2 pounds. He has a great mop of hair and is bonnie in every way.

Lily 15  and Savannah 7 have been fighting for turns! Connor wasn't too impressed when his first bath turned into 2 first baths and both his sisters need to have a go!

Now a month on, he is well and truly settled in and is a very happy and healthy baby. He already has the full compliment of Tonka's for the sand pit!


Our return flight took 48 hours from the time we arrived at Perth International Airport until we arrived in Jacksonville. What a shocker!  




The first leg was 7 hours to Hong Kong. A two hour wait then 16 hours to JFK New York. We were scheduled to have an 8 hour wait here but it turned into 12. Finally we boarded for Jacksonville. About half an hour out of Jacksonville we were advised that the flight couldn't land because of weather so we were diverted to Orlando, further south. It was now 3am. We waited another 2 hours for busses then were transported by bus to Jacksonville. Another 2 and a half hours! Its taken about 4 days to fully recover!

Now what?

Thursday, 27 March 2014

FAREWELL TO THE CARIBBEAN 11 March 2014

Catching up with Balvenie. 
It has been a brief visit to the Caribbean, however we are left with the impression that there are still a few jewels out there we need to go back and discover. There was insufficient time to get into the rum punch mood. Our main impression was not that positive, with overcrowded anchorages and over inflated prices. We haven’t written it off though, and if we get another chance at it we will take the opportunity more slowly. For now matters of family are calling and we must make a hurried trip to Florida to fly back to Australia. Because the hurricane season starts on the 1st of June we need to get the boat into an insurance approved hurricane place to leave it. The plan is to be back before then but we are taking precautions anyway.
Lovely protected anchorage at Luperon
Our trip from Culebra to Boqueron was easy and pleasant, predominantly downwind. It was great to catch up with old cruising buddies Mark and Amands on Balvenie, from the Sail indonesia Rally in 2006 in Boqueron. We have been following their adventures in the Meditereanean and USA and now we may even follow their tracks! We were thrilled to be able to get their cursing guides for the Bahamas and US so we feel a little better informed before we set off on the next 1000nm hop to Florida. 
We left Boqueron on the West coast of Puerto Rico on the 7th of March to sail direct to Florida via the Bahamas. Our first few hours out were hectic with strong following wind and sea. We even threw back a nice Cobia because it was too rough to bother cleaning it. As the night wore on however the wind died and we resorted to motor sailing. The forecast was for the rest of the 800 nm to Florida to be light weather so we reluctantly decided to divert to Luperon on the north coast of Dominican Republic. What a pain.

Beautiful waters of the Bahamas. Big Farmers Cay

The Cmap 93 charts on the computer are useless. Its lucky our Furuno Chartplotter has CMap charts loaded because the Navionics on the iPad are very inaccurate. The Plan2Nav on the iPad is good. (Cmap by Jepperson.) The really good charts for the Bahamas and I believe the USA East Coast are called Garmin Blue Charts, with Active Captain notes included.

There is only 3M of water at the shallows in the entrance to Luperon.

We were forced to check in at $140US because they don’t recognise the International Maritime Law which allows stops for emergency fuel, water, medical or repairs. Then we met rascally Ronnie. We have since heard that several other cruisers have been caught by this rouge. He was happy to oblige with fuel at an extra US$1 per gallon. The fuel turned out to be badly contaminated and even after using the Bahja filter which we always use, we had to run it repeatedly through the fuel polishing system and change out several filters. We had the engine stop twice. 

Black Grouper and we ate it. No Ciguitera.

We should have used Papo on Chanel 68 but he was not answering the radio. It was Sunday... another bad idea. We gave up keeping our tanks full when having reached South Africa with most of the fuel we bought in Asia intact, we had to pump it out and give it away because the change in temperature and bugs contaminated it. We will have to re-look at the strategy.

The town itself has been described as quaint. That is putting it in its best light. Don’t go late in the afternoon, its just plain dirty. There is a friendly bar called Wendys where you can pick up free WiFi but Im pretty sure the Rum Punch at $7US ea is industrial strength there.

Well its now Monday afternoon and the fuel is loaded and David has to run the Immigration man to ground to get our check out done. Now What!! 3 Men...not in any uniforms get a ride out with David... “need to INSPECT the boat.” Truely!! This place is really hopeless. And that will be another $20 US to someone for something??? And now its 4.30pm!
Always nice to have company. Off Eluthra. Bahamas

Finally we were underway for the passage to Florida. The wind was good for the first day or so then it died and we motored and motored and motored. Just made it into Georgetown in the Great Exumas of the Bahamas 4 hours before the predicted frontal system hit. It wasnt as severe as they were predicting around 40 to 50 ins squalls. We only saw 30s but good to be tucked into the nice anchorage of Stocking Island. A couple of days later we moved north to Big Farmer Cay. Pleasant spot. Its all so pretty we would have loved to just stay and stay but preasure is on to get back to OZ so off we go again after 2 nights waiting for another small system to go through. Eluthra Island was the next destination and we planned to sail on through the western side overnight and exit Fleeming Chanel in the morning. The area is very shallow but it all looked clear going. However towards midnight we were pushing 4 knots of current so we diverted to South Palmetto Point and anchored until morning. On our way out we caught a nice Black Grouper.

From there on it was pretty straight forward on and on and a lot of motoring again as the wind dropped out pending the arrival of another frontal system from the north. On Saturday the 22nd of March we arrived in Jacksonville, north Florida. Only 2 months since arriving in Grenada from South Africa. Going too fast and missing too much.

Our clearance was the easiest ever. We phoned the Border Protection number, gave them a few details including the Cruising licence number we got in Culebra, and we were done!!. No visiting anywhere. No stamps. Amazing.

After anchoring behind the island just after the Mathews bridge almost 20 nm upstream in the St Johns river for the night, we motored on another couple of miles to the Jacksonville Landing in the morning. Its a free dock available first come first served for 72 hours.The Main Street Lifting Bridge just before the Landing  is open on demand and was very easy .
Taipan is in the middle of the picture in front of the Jacksonville Landing.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

CULEBRA. 3rd March 2014

Good to see you MAATE!!
We left Rodney bay St Lucia on Sunday 23rd of Feb to sail the 356NM to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. The passage took 42 hours roughly and it started daily boisterously with 91nm in the first 12 hours then settling down after the wind dropped.

 Sopers Hole anchorage at the West End became home for a couple of nights where we completed the easy checkin formalities right at the anchorage  The following day we caught a ferry to Cruz Bay St John Island, in the US Virgin group to get stamped into US with a 90 day visa issued upon arrival  You cannot take your boat until you have the stamp in your passport. So having achieved the first goal… the stamp … we returned to Taipan and made our way to Trellis bay at the far eastern end of Tortola. About a 3 hour sail. Here we caught up with a very old friend, Captain Magic on Destino. We haven't seen him since 2004 in Brisbane. A couple of days in the very nice anchorage at Trellis Bay included a visit to Aragorns Art Center on the beach. This is an excellent gallery. Well worth the stop.

Taipan on the left with the Aboriginal flag flying. Destino on the right. Green. 
On Saturday the 1st we headed to Sopers Hole to grab a bit of grocery although there is a good grocery at Trellis bay also. then we made it to Lower Belmont Bay for a swim and then anchored the night at Diamond Cay on Jost Van Dyke Island just to the north. Very sheltered spot with some snorkelers about so maybe there is something to see there.

The 2nd of March we headed down to Culebra just 38nm to check the boat into the US. We phoned when we arrived because the customs at the airport was closed then this morning we went ashore to the airport again and were given our 12 month cruising visa for the USA.

Tomorrow we head out to Salinas on the south coast of Purto Rico.

Our first edible fish in ages and we had to throw it back!

Virgin Islands Photos

Saturday, 22 February 2014

ST LUCIA 22nd Feb 2014


We have been in the Caribbean for a month now and there is still a lot to see. 

After Grenadawe went to Curricoau just to the north and had a pleasant stay in Tyrrel Bay. We left there for Union Island where we anchored in Frigate Island anchorage  and cleared in before going out to Tobago Cays. It was pretty disappointing with lots of boats, fabulous visibility underwater but nothing to see. There are turtles there which are quite cute.

Bequie was next port of call and a frustrating time was had trying to download charts for the dreaded Furuno plotter. It turned into a bit of a saga over the net week or so. Managed to nail it in Rodney Bay Marina in St Lucia. We had to go into the marina to get a decent  wifi signal.


St Lucia is volcanic in origin as are most  of the Caribbean islands. 

Yesterday we took a guided tour of the island well only the west coast because its impossible i think to drive round the whole island in a day. The roads leave a lot to be desired and the terrain is precipitous. Its very tropical and the highlight was the Botanical Garden established in the 1700s when it was gifted by Napoleon to a local french family. It has lovely cool walks through very lush and varied flora, including many of the spectacular Ginger family.

The little towns along the coast are full of tourists as the Cruise liners all pull up here disgorging thousands of tourists daily.

The internet continues to be very deficient throughout the area so photo updates are going to be slow coming.

Anchorages are very crowded and the weather has been questionable but we have enjoyed the company of some great yacht crews, amongst them Silver Fern, Contrails, Summer Wind and Harmony. Tonight we will set off for Tortola in the British Virgin Island group and farewell our friends here until another day.

St Lucia Photos



Wednesday, 5 February 2014

GRENADA TOUR 5th Feb.

George Town
Grenada Tour with Contrails last weekend was great fun. We picked up the car and were upgraded from a small old Toyota Corolla to a Toyota 8 seater right hand drive bus. Very comfortable for the 4 of us. It was a little nerve wracking initially having no driver… they drive on the left here but the car being right hand drive, had David as passenger in the drivers seat with no steering or brakes! 

We drove right round the island and saw the leap where the last of the local inhabitants were driven over the cliffs by the french colonisers and then to a Rum factory and distillery which was established way back in the 1700s. The press used to crush the sugar cane is original and still working fine. 

The local work boats racing on Grand Anse Beach which was fantastic colourful, fun filled afternoon in a spectacular setting on a stunning beach. 

We have been to a Dingy Concert which involves a band playing on a barge and the audience arrives in their dingy's and tie off to drink rum.  

The Concord water fall for lunch on  Sunday was pleasant  change from the heat with cooling light rain falling.

Rum Distillery



BULLET M2 HI POWER Ubiquiti Networks. 
Ricky from the Big Fish Restaurant in Prickly Bay Grenada  came aboard and installed the device once we had run the external antenna cable to the chart table and now we have a great internet signal.
Thank you DE BIG FISH!

Tomorrow we plan to start heading north up the island chain towards Florida.
Grenada Photos
Work Boat Races

Sunday, 26 January 2014

PRICKLY BAY. GRENADA. 26th Jan. 2014

We sailed into Prickly Bay  on Tuesday the 21st at 7.30 pm. Thats over  6000NM from Cape Town on the log. The last two days were not so bad, we made good miles and were even able to launch the MPS again after using it as a sea anchor for a while. It got a bit out of control during launching and ended up in the water for a while. Interesting time recovering it and a few choice words were exchanged and blame apportioned!. Anyway no damage done and we now know it stops the boat dead in the water when we drag it!!
First impressions are that there are a heck of a lot of people here and we know a few of them. The internet is very 4th world and very first world prices so I won't be posting photos for a while yet. Prices generally are high. The highest prices we have encountered anywhere. Weather is cooler than Asia, about 27 deg but also some rain squalls. Anchorages are very full. There would be about 100 boats here on anchor. Shore facilities seem good.
Silver Fern, good ol' mates from the Sail Indo Rally 2006 and adventures in Asia just crossed the North Atlantic and came from Barbados to meet us here. That has been fun. Contrails, with whom we crossed the Indian Ocean last year, also arrived a couple of days ago and we have had fun catching up with them. Keith Tanner from Sadiqui,  a Perth boat, and who we did the Splash 2002 from Freo to Darwin with, rocked by and we had a beer or two together.
Australia Day plans went all round in circles but we ended up aboard Taipan with two American couples from Harmonie and Contrails and Keith to support the Ausie cause. It was a great day with BBQ lunch then lots of refreshments well into the evening. Another memorable Australia Day on Taipan in another non Australian location.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

THE AFTERMATH Sun 19th Jan

We were told it was a Tropical Wave. Its a bit like a Mexican wave only wet and not as much fun. They form when a low pressure system forms off the African Coast. During the hurricane season this may be a precursor to a Tropical Storm or Hurricane. During the non hurricane season its just a curse.
Now we have dirty grey clouds hunched sulkily on the horizon and blue sky above. Periodically malicious gusts come clawing and roaring through the rig sending Taipan into a frenzy of weaving, rolling and diving before shaking and straightening to resume the course. The hunkered big green, sloppy, frothy topped white things also take the opportunity of Taipan's inattention to endeavor to unload a hundred liters of water into the cockpit. These are mostly thwarted by the good clear covers from the biminy and dodger to the deck. However an occasional 20 odd liters sometime makes its way into the cockpit via the inevitable rope holes.
The cockpit is therefore somewhat salty although until this morning when David dispatched an entire mug of hot tea onto the leeward cushions, we had dry seating on the lee side. Aft of the wheel the mess of ropes looks like a cat got loose in the knitting. There are about 8 lines in from forward on each side....ever ready!
On our best leg the only consolation was that we managed 217NM in a 24 hr period and came within 35NM of Jigsaw.
In the 24 hrs to 1100UTC today we did 194NM and we have 486Nm to Grenada.


http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=VZN3925
svtaipan.blogspot.com

Saturday, 18 January 2014

ROCKIN N A ROLLIN! Sat 18th Jan

670 to Grenada at 1100UTC
201NM in past 24hrs
Rough! To rough to wax lyrical
Cheers

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

NEARLY HALF WAY.

We had a slow lazy day yesterday, not playing with spinnaker did 160NM. Last night line squalls marching up on us from behind and dumping lots of rain. Wind quite manageable. Saw it coming an put in a reef and furled headsail. Max gust 27. Now its 12 to 15 on the beam and we have reef and small headsail. Doing high 7s on the rum an coca cola line... but healed over so a bit of a pain!
We have 1216 to go so tomorrow we should be half way from Fernando de Narohna to Grenada
Today we will be about 200Nm off shore from the mouth of the mighty Amazon!
Sailfish is pale pink meat and very white when cooked. Tasty and not strong flavor, Was good in green Thai curry last pm, doesn't fall apart. I will vacuum bag some. We didn't stop to pull it in... its too difficult with the pole out. It was about 20kg to get aboard with gaff. Jumped a lot!
Jigsaw take about 5 to 10 miles off us each day. They left 5 hours before us. They are 110 NM ahead now
Position
01 18N
044 24W

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

SAIL FISH Monday 13 th Jan

Making like big game fishermen!
Caught a small 1.5M Sailfish this afternoon. Dosnt look very edible. Took a long time to bring him on board.
Nothing much else doing here thought so a relief in the monotony. Today was a beautiful day to be sailing. 10+ KN and fairly flat. Had the MPS up most of the afternoon. Fabulous sunset. Jigsaw about 100 NM closer to the destination having crossed the equator today. Weather looks like becoming a little boisterous in a day or two. Hope not too busy.
We've seen half a dozen ships in the past 24 hours.
168 NM in past 24 hrs
1455 to Grenada at 2150 UTC
00 59.91S
041 08.38W

Update. the fish was delicious. Beautiful firm, very white meat without any strong fish smell or flavour. Highly Recommended.

Monday, 13 January 2014

FISH Sunday 12th Jan

Finally after diverting all over the Atlantic we found a sea mount with a fish on it! Snared a yellow fin tuna about 600mm minus a bite from a competitor as we bought it in. All in the fridge and a nice sushi and sashemi dinner.
Had a light wind day Sunday after a brisk 20KN around dawn. Looking light weather for next few days.

http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=VZN3925
svtaipan.blogspot.com

Friday, 10 January 2014

FERNANDO DE NARHONA Thursday 9th Jan

Sunset from the anchorage.

We arrived at the island anchorage at about 600pm yesterday afternoon and almost immediately Phil from Jigsaw came over all prepared with tools and between David and he, they had the pole cut down and re riveted ready for action within an hour. Phil is a very experienced boat builder having built 19 boats and Phil and Fay are on their 3rd circumnavigation. We were extremely appreciative of their generosity in staying to wait for us in this abysmal place. The anchorage has a 3M+ swell running across it and its alarming to watch the waves develop into huge greenbacks which throw themselves 50 M up the cliffs about half a mile ashore of us.

After fixing our pole we were invited aboard their lovely boat for an amazing dinner complete with ice cream!!. Another great night was had together.
David and Phil fixing the pole

This morning Phil again arrived with a dive tank and hoses to blow out the dust which seems to build up in the condenser plates of the fridge and freezer. The warmer weather forces them to work hard.
We are about to leave again. 

The rumors about check in price are true! Two of the crew on a small Cat near us went ashore without clearing in and the whole crew were immediately visited by the police and requested to come in and clear in with the authorities.

Jigwaw was here longer and were not approached. We haven't been approached either. It would seem its ok to anchor but do not go ashore unless you intend to clear in.

One of the worst anchorages ever! Patong at New Year can be worse!
Ok back to the high seas and a bit of sailing!

UPDATE
We love the new shorter pole! We should have shortened it years ago!




Thursday, 9 January 2014

NEARLY HALF WAY TO CARIB. Thursday 9th Jan 2014

Its 10 am UTC and we have 50 NM to run to Fernando de Narohna. Today we have nice ENE wind at 10 kn and have the MPS flying nicely making around 6.5KN so hope to arrive into the anchorage where Jigsaw are waiting for us, before dark.
Tomorrow we will cut the pole down and replace the beak so we will have a useable but shortened version for the rest of the trip. If all goes well there we will rest for a few days and decide where to go next! Forteliza 350NM on the north coast of Bazil, Trinadad 1920 NM, Barbados 1920 NM or Grenada 1920 NM or St Martin 2200NM. So many decisions!!
We are not planning to clear into Fernando as the fees are reportedly extortionate. We have heard figures in the $400 range and we don't know any yachts who have gone there and cleared in recently. It is a big Brazilian tourist destination apparently. Australians must have a visa before they arrive in Brazil and we don't have one so will just be using the rest and repair rule!!
No fish again!!. 1 Ship and no rubbish.

http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=VZN3925
svtaipan.blogspot.com

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

SLOW PROGRESS 7th Jan

The past 24 hours have nearly been another record for slow. 132 NM and struggling with wind angle and very light. 6 to 9kn ESE. Even with those miles we motored at 5kn for most of the night. Needing to preserve fuel because we have another 2000 NM to go after F d N and cannot expect fuel there.
312 NM to F d N
Pos at 1100 UTC
06 03S
027 39W

http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=VZN3925
svtaipan.blogspot.com

Monday, 6 January 2014

MONDAY 6TH Jan 2014

1200 UTC Monday
06 27S
025 47E
424 to F d N
Pleasant sailing.. in the wrong direction..hoping for that promised wind shift to east!!
CRS 276 6Kn Wind SE 12 to 15kn. Sea 1.5M
Limited comfortable without a pole.
No fish, no ships, no rubbish.
Thanks all for your emails
All well.

http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=VZN3925
svtaipan.blogspot.com

Saturday, 4 January 2014

KITE FLYING WITH A DIFFERENCE 4th Jan 2014

For lack of something else to do we decided to fly the kite again yesterday afternoon. It was all good and we decided then to leave it up again overnight. Averaging 8.3Kn was great and a welcome change but at 3.30am the pole gave up and bent like a banana. All hell broke loose!!(and a few other things) In an instant we were laying on our side with the mast in the water and the kite set well forward and dragging us to leeward. Not exciting... but not boring!. We had to cut the brace line to windward which de-powered the kite and enabled the mast to resume a more acceptable angle so we could regaining control of the steering. At this point we were unsure what the sudden bang prior to the broach was. A quick trip forward revealed the reason and then we set about pacifying the autopilot and then untangling the mess around the inner forestay. It took about half an hour to get the spinnaker untangled and snuffed then bought down and bagged.
So now we are going really slow with no pole to pole out the headsail. David says he can repair it! We will see!
Some trivia.. at 8 knots we are moving about 18ton of water every 3 seconds!!
No fish, no ships, nothing!
Wind SSE 10Kn, Sea 1m Cloudy.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

NEW YEAR 2014

Well its 8.00pm Tuesday 31st December. Friends everywhere are celebrating the incoming year and we wish we were there! Its a long way from any party out here although we will call Jigsaw on the HF and play some rousing party music while we down a glass of wine to welcome in 2014.
Seas haven't improved and we are still wandering along with just the poled out headsail and main. Our last 24 hour run was 156 nm and we expect the next to be slower. Jigsaw are edging ahead now that we have dropped the kite.
Seas are around 2M and wind is gusty SSE from 10 to 25 in short sharp blows. Its mostly overcast but warm. Course around 310. No fish. No line in the water either!!
Here's to 2014! Cheers


http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=VZN3925
svtaipan.blogspot.com

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

ALL WELL. Monday 30th December

Averaging about 150nm per day. Kite up for longest straight run ever. The seas are good, about half a meter and wind pretty steady ESE 10 to 12 with occasional gusts or lulls.
We are still struggling with the settings on the new AP55 TMQ Auto pilot. We always said the old AP 50 TMQ was the most reliable piece of equipment on the boat but the jury is out on the AP55. The manual suks.
The kicker which holds the spinnaker pole down, broke on David's shift last night when a shackle shattered but it was OK and we didn't have to remedy it til this morning. "Jigsaw" is about 30 NM abeam of us and we are keeping regular HF scheds with them.
At 8pm Monday we have 1383nm to F d N.
All well and happy aboard as we approach the end of 2013. We would like to wish you all a great big fat Happy New Year and healty wealthy and wize 2014!... or just have a great night and sink a few for us!

Sunday, 29 December 2013

DEPARTING ST HELENA 28th December.

After a great tour yesterday with Robert the Taxi driver, we are ready to depart St Helena for the Caribbean. Destination a little scratchy and dependent on weather, wind, currents etc.

St Helena's interior is such a contrast to the Jamestown area where we are moored. Here is bare rock with little or no vegetation. Once you get up onto the plateau you are in fern and cypress forest. Kikui grass is still very green and lush. Its so steep that even cattle and donkeys cant graze parts of the hillsides so they were planted with flax. Until the mid 60s Flax was the primary industry here with several flax mills and good employment.
The islanders are self sufficient in beef and pork and there are also egg producers and poultry suppliers. Growing vegetables is a less reliable sport as there have been a number of pests and diseases, along with rabbits, introduced to the island which make it increasingly difficult and expensive for sprays etc. No honey or bee products are allowed ashore here for fear of damage to the coffee industry. The very stable bee population apparently help produce a reliable and much sought after coffee.
The British government is building an airport on St Helena and it is a huge operation. For the past 2 years 40 trucks and over 340 people have been at work filling in a big valley to put the runway across the island and prevent wind shear effects up the gully. Crews work 24 / 7 and there is now virtually full employment again here. Until the airport is completed islanders will have to continue to receive emergency medical treatment by transporting to Cape Town on the RMS St Helena, the supply ship which comes about every fortnight. The ship came in while we were here and it has to unload everything by lighters. The containers are off-loaded onto barges, driven ashore with the biggest outboard engines you have ever seen, and unloaded with cranes. Passengers come ashore on a small motor boat. There is no pier at all. There is talk of building something.
There are high hopes for a tourist industry once the airport is completed.
Several dive companies run dive tours with the possibility of seeing and diving with whale sharks. The water clarity is sensational. Craig runs Into The Blue from an office on the main wharf. You can google "Into the Blue Dive St Helena" and should find him, or his email is graigiyon@helana.sh
We didn't dive but spoke to several clients who had and were absolutely thrilled with their experience. There were whale sharks here while we were here.
Napoleon died here so there is a big emphasis on that part of the Islands history and we went with Robert to Napoleons Tomb and to his house here. There are no horses left on the island however when Napoleon was here he rode often. He was a great horse lover. There is also a very old Tortoise on the island named Jonathan and reputedly 187 years old. The oldest living animal on the planet. We met him! He lives in the Governors front garden. They're are allegedly planing a state funeral for him when he finally passes on!!
There is so much more to tell about this place. Its been a great stopover and we have never met so many friendly people. The natural history and the history dating back to the early 1500s are really fascinating and do deserve a longer and closer look. The oldest continuous church site in the southern hemisphere is here in Jamestown. But time is ticking and with our reputation for getting stuck in places we are going to slip the line today head out with Jigsaw, in loose convoy. We will hopefully maintain radio contact with Myriam and Jigsaw during the passage west. Mary has no radio but we will keep email contact with them also.
I am sorry I cant post any pictures of the visit because we are internet challenged, but stay tuned! The will go up some time when we get to the Caribbean.


Monday, 23 December 2013

MERRY XMAS FROM ST HELENA

Jerry, Annie William and Oliver from Myriam.

We would like to take the opportunity to wish all our blog followers a Very Merry Xmas and a great New Year 2014. We have received a limited amount of Christmas email on the gmail account from some of our friends, however internet in St Helena is 7 pounds Stirling per hour. If it was fast it would be ok but I spent 18 minuets today and downloaded exactly nothing. So sorry I wont be sending personal emails to you all this year.

We are looking forward to spending Xmas Lunch at Anns Place in Castle Gardens, Jamestown with "Myriam", French Canadian, "Mary" Sweedish and "Jigsaw" Australian boat with Kiwi Ozzies.

Best Wishes from Kris and David at St Helena Island, mid South Atlantic



The main Street of St Helena

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

HEADING WEST.

75nm between 5am Tues and 5pm Tuesday. The cloud rolled away and the sun came out for a few hours in the afternoon. No fish.
About 15Kn SSE and temp improving. 26deg. Saw one branch floating. Thats it.
5am Wednesday 359NM to St Hlena
Pos. 18 18.98S 0000 01.44E
About to cross into Western Hemisphere for my first time!
000UTC

http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=VZN3925

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

SMOKIN!! BUT NO FISH

Sundown Sunday to Sundown Monday 182nm. We had the kite up from 3.30 Sun till 8.30am Mon. but the sea state deteriorated and the wind picked up making it nerve wracking so we took it down and contented ourselves with just the poled out headsail again. Its slower but more comfortable and less threatening. Just as well we took it down before we had to because there was a snarl in the snuffer so we had to man handle it aboard. It could have been messy if the weather was heavier. We have never been very happy with the snuffer because it doesn't have a dedicated tube for the deployment / retrieval line and is prone to snagging. Reminder to get a dedicated tube stitched in at next sail-maker!. We have had some very big strikes on the lures. No landings but smoking reel and lost lures. Mind you, at 6 to 7kn it is pretty hard to pull in a fish, and impossible to slow down. Oh well we have plenty of SA fillet steak.
Just after dark we had a pod of dolphins swing by for a frolic on the bow. They jumped and hurumphed, leaving a wondrous trails of phosphorescence as they sliced through the water. I guess we were not going in the same direction thought because half hour later they suddenly left on pressing dolphin business. The moon is nearly full and finally the cloud which has been almost 100% for the last 48 hours, cleared revealing a beautiful starry sky.
Back to bopping contentedly along at 5.5 to 6.5kn.
5am Tuesday 500nm to St H.

http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=VZN3925

Monday, 16 December 2013

FISHING ON A MOUNTAIN

Well we've picked up the pace a little. Sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday we did 141NM. At 3pm today.. Sunday we put the kite up. It took us all day to decide to do it and work out how, because its been so long since its been out of the bag!! But its up and flying nicely. We are averaging about 7.3kn in 9 to 13 knots of breeze. There are apparently about 4 or 5 boats en-route to St Helena for Xmas so it may be a bit of fun... unless we are going so fast we miss it!
Its a little more comfortable with the kite than with the poled out headsail and the temperature is improving. Not hot yet but comfortable enough.
We sailed over Shackletons Sea Mount today. It rises 4000m out of the ocean floor to just 1000m under us. We didnt catch a thing!! Mrs Chippy was not impressed. ( for those who dont know Mrs Chippy, its the cat which accompanied the Shackleton expedition to the Antarctic. We have a replica aboard)
Position at 7am Mon 10 30.90S 004 46.29E
637 NM to St Helena

http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=VZN3925