Antigua Classics Regatta 2010

September 19th, 2011

Ok, so there haven’t been any updates for a over a year… Well, I’ve just gotten round to putting my photos from the Antigua Classics regatta online. Have a look. These boats are amazing to watch.

Some photos from Antigua

August 17th, 2010

Until we get the blog updated, here are a few photos from our week or so in Antigua during the Antigua Classic Regatta. (And yes, our children served as bartenders at a fairly significant regatta party)

Cheers,
Colin

July 1 – We’ll be home in two weeks!

July 1st, 2010

Where does the time go?

First, let me apologize for letting our posting schedule slide so egregiously. My last substantive posting (if you can call it that) was back around Mardi Gras when we were in Martinique, still heading south. Since that time we’ve been to a lot more islands, in the following order:

- St. Lucia
- The Grenadines (Bequia, Mustique, Mayreau, Tobago Cays, Union Island)
- Carriacou
- Grenada (furthest point south was 11 59N)
- Carriacou (again, one night only)
- Bequia (again)
- St. Lucia (again – although Graydon provided a guest blog for that visit)
- Martinique (again, one night only)
- Dominica (again)
- Les Saintes (again, for a one day shopping spree)
- Antigua
- Barbuda
- the BVI’s (again)
- Bermuda

Then we sailed back to the US at the end of May arriving in Newport, RI. From there we traveled to Mystic, CT, then across Long Island Sound to visit friends in the Hamptons, then to Cuttyhunk and Martha’s Vineyard. We proceeded through the Cape Cod Canal and up to Marblehead before heading to Maine, which is where we are today (Boothbay)

Ok, so now you’re all caught up.

Over the next two weeks, we will cruise a little bit more in Maine (Penobscot Bay) and then bring Bojangles to Rockland where we will mothball her for the remainder of the season. Then, we plan to travel overland back to Toronto, to resume our shoreside existence and see if our dog still remembers us – likely around July 15.

We’ve had a great adventure, and when I get some time, I’ll complete all the missing blog entries and provide enough photos to bore the pants off even our most loyal family and friends.

So, please continue to watch this space for updates and, to our Toronto based friends, feel free to start including us in all those social functions that we’ve been missing for the last year.

Cheers,
Colin

Leaving the Caribbean today :-((((

May 2nd, 2010

Hanging out in Barbuda while Bojangles rests at anchor

Just a quick update to let folks know that we’re leaving the Caribbean today (Sunday May 2) and sailing to Bermuda as part of the Atlantic Cup Rally. This is the northbound companion to the Caribbean 1500 Rally we were part of on the way down. We should make Bermuda in 5 days or so and while there’s a decent wind today, it looks like the weather will be much calmer than we’d like it.

For those who’d like to follow our progress online (and see our near real time position reports) you can go to the Atlantic Cup event tracker site here.

Cheers,
Colin and crew

My visit to St. Lucia (by Graydon)

April 24th, 2010

To help us get caught up on our backlog of missing blog entries, we invited Graydon Flatt (our nephew/cousin) to contribute a blog entry for our visit to St. Lucia. Here it is. Pictures to follow shortly.

Cheers,
Colin

My Visit to Bojangles IV in St Lucia.
By Graydon Flatt (Age 12)

We (the Bermuda Kilgours) stayed in a villa on Rodney Bay, while the Caribbean Kilgours stayed on Bojangles at the other end of the bay, a three minute dinghy ride away. Every morning, we would wake up and go downstairs, where various combinations of the family would arrive shortly, if they weren’t already there. Here I am going to describe some memorable things from our trip to St Lucia.

People:
We met many different people. Our primary cab drivers were Donald and his father-in-law (on the Soufriere trip we had a driver called Gabriel). Our housekeeper was Ester, who was very nice. We met many children, ranging from “boat boys” to children at the playground (see below). We met Jacob/John at Windjammer. Our guide to zip lining was called Annie (our driver here was Rufus). We also had a guide at the Union Nature Trail/Mini Zoo who was excellent at making animal calls. Always save the best for last: Warren “Renegade” and Stanley were our guides for our Soufriere trip in the Renegade… Power!

Fauna:
We saw many species of wild animals. My favourite was probably the mongoose on Pigeon Island (which, incidentally, no one else saw). My other favourites were two boa constrictors in the rainforest, trumpet fish and even a spotted moray eel which was first spotted by my mum while snorkeling. We also saw many species of birds such as the bananaquit, tropical mockingbird, lesser Antillean bullfinch and hummingbird. The other wild animals we saw were rats. As for domestic animals, we saw goats, cows (and babies), horses, sheep, dogs (and babies) and cats. Our condo was right next door to four Rottweilers who barked every time we drove past. (On our other side was a Burger King in a shopping mall)

Pigeon Island:
Not an island at all- anymore. Uncle Colin, Mitchell, Clare, Gilly and I hiked to the top, Signal Peak (while the others waited behind), in search of a geocache. It was Uncle Colin who finally found it under a rock. We exchanged some sunscreen for other trinkets, such as a fire breathing nun! After this, we snorkeled off the “island”. The mega yacht A was moored off Pigeon Island, too. Before we went home, we played a bit at Reduit Beach.

Zip lining:
We went zip lining one day in the rainforest. It was a bit scary at first, but awesomely fun! We saw two boas and rainbow eucalyptus trees which were both very cool.

Pizza! Pizza! Playground!:
An awesome playground off Rodney Bay which we kids visited a few times before we got kicked out! Anyway, it was a lot of fun with a roundabout, bouncy castle and two trampolines!

Soufriere trip:
First, we boarded the Renegade Power and travelled down the coast, admiring three caves (“Goldenrock”, “Bat” and “Dragon”) on the way. We had our first view of the Pitons also. When we arrived in the town of Soufriere, we left Renegade with the boat and went with Stanley to a sulfuric volcano, which was very cool. Then, he took us to the Toraille waterfall which we got to swim in…………too much pressure! Then we had lunch and headed back, briefly stopping to snorkel.

Sailing:
One day, the admiral and skipper took us sailing, which was really fun (until I got a bit seasick much later. We sailed all the way to Marigot Bay, where we stopped to eat lunch and play on the beach, where we spotted the Renegade Power once again.

Windjammer Resort:

This is where we went on my twelfth birthday. We played giant chess and ping pong on the beach, swum out to a floating trampoline and played in the pool where we met Jacob/John, another child who we somewhat played with, using false identities.

Union Nature Trail/ Mini Zoo:

Just my mum and us kids went, but it was a fun hike and in the mini zoo, there were only 10 animals, but they were good animals, like agoutis, boas, parrots, iguanas, monkeys and tortoises (for the girls). Clare even figured out how to train the agoutis.

All in all, it was a very fun and memorable trip. The only bad thing (besides me being minorly electrocuted in the marina pool) was that it was very hot! (ed note: there was some stray current in the pool emanating from one of the lights.)

Martinique – First Whale Sighting and Carnival!

April 12th, 2010

We sailed from Portsmouth at the northern end of Dominica toward Martinique with our friends on Shining Time, who were about 5-10 miles ahead of us. We’d been sailing about an hour when they called us on the VHF to alert us that they had spotted a pod of whales of the coast of Dominica and that we ought to keep a close watch. We did just that and shortly thereafter we were rewarded with our first (and hopefully not last) whale sighting of this trip.

At first, we saw just the one whale in the distance – about a quarter mile away off our starboard bow. It really wasn’t doing anything exciting; it seemed to be just lying on the surface relaxing, looking very much like a massive floating 40 foot tree in the water. Then, as we got closer it swam away, allowing us to view him (gender remains uncertain – thankfully) surfacing and diving a few times before finally diving deep out of our view.

We then saw a few other, smaller whales do the same thing a couple of hundred yards away. While we were watching them, a similar one surfaced about 20 feet in front of Bojangles causing the admiral – once she calmed down – to seriously rebuke the captain concerning his cavalier attitude regarding what constitutes a ‘safe’ distance from these great mammals (As if I knew the bugger was going to come up right in front of the boat)

After a short while, we all calmed down and the whales proceeded on their northward path while we continued south to Martinique.

In Martinique, we first anchored in the resort community of Anse Mitan across the bay from the capital Fort de France – which, at about 100,000 people, is also the largest city we’ve seen since we were in DC back in October. Feeling a bit out of place amongst the pasty Parisian holidaymakers crowding the beach, we moved to a quieter anchorage nearby called Trois Ilets where we were joined by Shining Time.

Trois Ilets is in a little bay within the larger Fort de France Bay and is situated in such a way that you feel like you’re in a small lake, rather than the Caribbean Sea. So, we proceeded to pretend we were at the cottage back home and broke out all the water toys for tubing, Opti sailing, and general playing around in the water.

We also used Trois Ilets as our base for participating in Martinique’s pre-Lenten Carnival. For several days, we attended the parades, concerts, and exhibitions that make up Carnival. We were also coerced to join in one of the parades, dancing along with countless others behind a float that was blasting loud dance music. We also took in a performance by Le Ballet Pomme Cannelle de Martinique – which cannot be adequately described by my words, but suffice to say it was very entertaining and both Kathleen and I acquitted ourselves quite well in the ‘audience participation’ portion where we were each paired off with a member of the troupe. (And since none of you were there, you can’t dispute this)

We did the Carnival thing for three days then decided that we’d exit Martinique before the crazy Mardi Gras festivities. The three preceding days had provided a huge sensory overload – and as each day became increasingly bawdy, we felt that we should get out of there before the Mardi Gras parade put us in an awkward position as parents answering questions that we ourselves don’t know the answer to. (“No darling, I don’t know why that man is dressed like that. Perhaps he’s allergic to all clothing but fishnets, high heels, and G-strings.”)

So, on Mardi Gras we checked out of customs (well we would have had it not been closed for Mardi Gras) and set sail for Rodney Bay, St. Lucia.

-

One sad note regarding our stay in Martinique was that we had to say goodbye to our friends the Van Alstines on Stolen Hour. We had traveled with them since the Chesapeake and our families had become great friends. However, their plans were taking them north and west to the Bahamas while ours were taking us further south to the Grenadines and Grenada. We had a fun last night out with them, and then had an emotional departure from the harbour as they saluted Bojangles by blowing the conch as we sailed away. We’ll miss them, but look forward to re-connecting in the future.

Sante

Dominica… Wow!

March 26th, 2010

You could use a lot of words to describe Dominica and none of them would be sufficient. The place is unlike any other that we’ve been to – on this trip or in our prior travels.

Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic) is an independent country sandwiched between the two French islands of Guadeloupe to the north and Martinique to the south. From an economic perspective, it’s a far cry from our North American level, but from a pure nature perspective – it’s unreal.

It’s an island with tall mountains, mostly covered with lush rainforest, lots of freshwater rivers and waterfalls, and all kinds of edible things hanging from the trees. Everywhere you look you see food, in its raw form: grapefruit, oranges, mangoes, pineapples, bananas, cantaloupes, watermelons, yams, cocoas, breadfruit, coffee beans, cinnamon, turmeric, and hundreds of other fruits, vegetables and spices that we don’t normally see in North America. Below sea level, the volcanic island shore drops off rapidly to the deep, leaving bright and colourful coral encrusted walls brimming with all manner of sea creatures: the full gamut of reef fish of course, but also lots of eels, eagle rays, barracudas, and turtles.

We anchored in Portsmouth Harbour at the north end of the island and stayed for a week that could easily have become more. Portsmouth is a smallish town, but a huge harbour. During the battle of the Saintes (see previous blog entry) the British staged here prior to the battle and had 400 ships anchored in the bay. It must have been quite a sight, particularly when they pulled out under sail to head off to the Saintes.

During our week there, we took a guided tour by rowboat up the Indian River, which takes you beneath the canopy of the rainforest and offers spectacular views of the various plants and trees of the island. More so than the botanical aspect of this, it was just plain neat. So neat in fact that several of the scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean II were filmed here. (lots more Pirates II references to come)

We also met some local rastas, Vela, Nickon, and Kim, who took us under their wing and showed us their version of the island. While Kim and his wife live and work on the Carib Indian territory, Vela and Nickon are farming a couple of parcels of land inherited from their respective grandparents. We spent two weird and wonderful days with them – relaxing in natural hot springs, travelling to their farm in the mountains (a hike in affair as it was beyond the reach of any road), visiting their new home in the mountains (think corrugated metal roof beneath four posts – no walls) and sharing a roasted breadfruit with them. We also spent a day with them on a farm in Carib territory – making cocoa and coffee, in both cases starting with the fresh fruit and working through the process to turn it into a usable product. Overall, a very cool couple of days.

Also, Colin took a PADI Open Water Diver course and is now a certified open water SCUBA diver. I’ve been wanting to do this for many years and finally got around to doing it. The course was great, but doing the 4 certification dives in the Dominican waters was amazing. As much as Dominica is breathtaking above ground, it’s equally so under the water. The water is warm, crystal clear, and the coral and sea animals are amazing to see.

Also in Dominica, we were able to walk in the crater of a cold volcano. That is, a volcano that is still ‘bubbling’, but the effluent is cold rather than hot. It was quite cool walking down into the crater, smelling the sulphur, seeing the bubbling pools of water, and then realizing that they were cold.

We also went to Hampstead Beach, which is a beautiful remote beach with massive waves breaking and incredible wild coconut palms lining the beach. Also on this beach is a freshwater river that drains to the sea – however, there is a sandbar at the mouth that prevents the sea from heading upriver and making the river brackish. So, you can have a swim or body surf in the warm, salty, wavy sea and then walk across the beach and swim in the cool, fresh, calm river. Then lather, rinse, repeat. (Of course, in Dominica, one should always travel with shampoo and soap, because one never knows when a freshwater bathing opportunity will present itself)

Hampstead also has a large stand of bamboo with the coconut palms. The bamboo and palm fronds provided the core building materials for the kids to build a couple of rafts – whose seaworthiness was duly tested on the river – and also a Gilligan’s Island-style bamboo/palm hut.

Lastly, in Dominica, we met a bunch of nice folks. Helen, who runs the dive shop also operates a nice little wine bar near our anchorage and hers was a good place to hang out at day’s end. Cruisers would gather there to talk boat stuff, but I enjoyed chatting with the boat boys about EPL football, something I don’t get enough of down here.

There was also Big Papa, who runs a restaurant/bar of the same name. We didn’t spend a ton of time at his place, but it seemed like he made an effort to get to know all the cruisers and make you feel welcome.

Overall, our stay in Portsmouth Dominica was a great time. Amazing experiences coupled with friendly people. We hope to make it back there.

Cheers,
Colin

Hockey Night in Bequia!

March 1st, 2010

Like all Canadians at home, we were similarly glued to the TV set yesterday to watch the Men’s Gold Medal Hockey Game.

We arranged to have a local bar show the game and then invited as many Canadians as we could to come see it with us. As it turned out, we had a great group show up and, for a few hours yesterday, Mango’s Beach Bar in Bequia could have been a bar in any city in Canada. (Except of course, for the lack of walls and the ability to walk around barefoot)

Anyway, a good time was had by all

Cheers,
Colin

A short word about our editorial schedule

February 26th, 2010

Yes, I know our postings are becoming more delayed in their publication…

Sometimes we just don’t have great internet connections and sometimes, well, there’s just too much going on in a day in order for us to sit down and document it.

Rest assured though, we will catch up.

Until we do though, you should know that we had a great week in Dominica, followed by a nice visit to Martinique for Carnival, a few days in St. Lucia to get some boat work done, and then we sailed down to Bequia in the Grenadines – where we are now (Feb 26).

We’ll shortly move on to Mustique, Canouan, Mayreau, Tobago Cays, Union Island, Carriacou and Grenada before we hit the limit of our southing and begin to head back north.

Watch these pages for further updates.

Cheers,
Colin

Guadeloupe (why doesn’t it rhyme with canteloupe?)

February 26th, 2010

Pulling out of St Kitts at “O dark hundred” was actually quite fun. The sky was clear and the moon was out so there was lots of visibility. The wind was fairly light, so we hoisted main and mizzen whilst still anchored and then only ran the engine for a minute or so while we hoisted anchor. As soon as the anchor was secured on deck, we immediately bore off, shut down the engine, and quietly sailed off into the night. This allowed the kids, who inevitably wake up when the big diesel starts and 100 feet of chain gets piled up at the end of their bed, to get back to sleep quickly.

We had a nice night sail down the leeward side of Nevis before the wind died when we got a little too close to the island and lost our air. Once we cleared Nevis however, the wind returned and we had a nice close reach toward Montserrat.

Now, most smart folks, when sailing past Montserrat, the home of an active volcano, will pass to windward of the island so that volcanic ash doesn’t cover them and their boat. We might have done this as well. Except that Bojangles couldn’t point high enough to sail to weather of the island and I didn’t feel like using the motor to help her get there. Also, as dawn had now broken, it didn’t look like there was too much air pollution to leeward of Montserrat, so maybe all this talk about volcanic ash was just hype to scare away tourists.

So, against conventional wisdom, we decided to sail to leeward of an active volcano. We may be silly, but it was a shorter distance and a favourable point of sail. As a racer, I know that those are at least two reasons for risking the ash storm.

As it turns out, the ash wasn’t that bad. We kept a couple miles offshore and enjoyed great views of the island and the decimation that has occurred there in recent years. It’s quite hard to describe, but hopefully our pictures capture it. Additionally, we could see the smoke and steam rising out of the crater like nothing we’d ever seen before. And yes, there was ash. When we were immediately downwind of the crater, we got hit by little bits of ash that were basically invisible, but you could feel them on your skin and also in your eyes. Additionally, the boat received a light dusting of ash that rinsed away with the next rainfall.

We continued on sailing, now in about 20 knots of true wind, and made Deshaies, Guadeloupe by mid afternoon. We anchored in 30 feet of incredibly clear blue water amidst our friends Safari Tu, Stolen Hour, and Shining Time who arrived a day earlier.

Deshaies is a sleepy little French town that is quite pleasant, if not overly exciting. We spent a couple of days here enjoying the local botanical gardens (which were amazing) as well some of the local conveniences. Specifically, there’s a man who comes by the boats every evening to accept pastry and baguette orders for the following morning. Then, as if by magic, he shows up at your boat again at 0700 armed with fresh baguettes, croissants, and pains aux chocolat. What a place!

Our waistlines couldn’t take much more of the Deshaies baguettes, so we sailed down the Guadeloupe coast to Pigeon Island, which is home to the Jacques Cousteau National Park (keep in mind that Guadeloupe is part of France, so when you’re in Guadeloupe, you’re IN France). While the shoreside amenities didn’t really appeal to us, and the beach was blackish sand, we spent a really nice afternoon snorkelling there. The coral was vibrant, the water was crystal clear, and there was a good variety of fishes there. Additionally, on the seabed in about 30 feet of water was a bust of Jacques himself. I couldn’t help but free dive down to have a look.

Ashore there wasn’t much on offer and the beach was a thin strip of blackish sand populated by pasty white French folks on winter holiday. This wouldn’t have been an issue except that it was Robbie Burns’ day and we intended to shoot a video skit to send back to our friends in Stratford who would be celebrating Burns that night. Unfortunately, we could find anything remotely close to the quintessential Caribbean setting that have been so numerous up until now. How could we make folks jealous if we couldn’t have a decent backdrop? Anyway, after some help from Joseph on Shining Time (who happens to be a professional cinematographer) we managed to shoot our video. Unfortunately, there was basically no Internet access available here from where could upload the video. So… after all that work, we were unable to get our skit to the Burns party.

Oh, by the way, all this scrambling around was happing on Jan 23. My birthday. The first in my 43 years that hasn’t been freezing cold. And here I am scrambling around colonial France trying to find an internet connection. So, frustrated, we pulled anchor and sailed to Basseterre, the capital city of Guadeloupe.

Anchoring there late in the afternoon, we saw that there was a bit of a swell that would undoubtedly make the night uncomfortable, so I dug out our second anchor and set it from the stern. This way, I could adjust the anchor rode (lines) so that the bow of the boat would point into the swell rather than the wind. This way the boat may pitch fore and aft a bit, but not side to side – the former being much less significant in overall motion of the boat.

So, finally, around sunset I was able to relax on my birthday in the Caribbean and have a nice night on board.

The following day, we ran some errands in Basseterre, picking up some groceries and diesel fuel, and then sailed the 15 miles or so south to Iles des Saintes, a group of pretty little islands off of Guadeloupe’s south coast.

We spent almost a week in “The Saintes”. It has a nice little town with good bakeries, dress shops (for Kathleen and the girls), and restaurants. It also had a very relaxed vibe about it that allowed you to relax and simply enjoy the place. We worked on our French skills (as well as our pain aux chocolat skills) and explored this small island group, learning about its role in the seemingly never ending naval battles between France and Britain (The Battle of the Saintes – 1782).

It seems these two countries seemed to take great pleasure sailing about the Caribbean in wooden boats taking potshots at each other. Now, the boats are fibreglass and the shots are harmless.

Anyway, after a week or so relaxing and exploring in the Saintes and Guadeloupe, it was time to leave France and head to Dominica.

Cheers,
Colin