June has been a great month. We had our first longer passage, from Grenada to Bonaire, and we went really well, working together as a team. Once in Bonaire, we welcomed our first ever guests, Viviana and Juan Martin. We ran into our friend Dubi in Bonaire (we met Dubi in Dominica and we saw him in Martinique as well) and met his lovely 83 year old mum, who not only came to visit him from New York for a week, but who also stayed with him on his boat. We sailed to Aruba where we are at the moment, waiting for our weather window to continue on. With some time on our hands, I put together a video of our time with Viviana and Juan Martin and the fun we all had together. Here it is!
Today is Tuesday 16 June and I’m going to narrate, as briefly as I can, what we’ve been up to during the last month.
On May 13th we left St Anne in Martinique around 10:30am and we did the short sail to Rodney Bay in St Lucia. It was a nice sail and when we were safely anchored, we spent the rest of the afternoon on the boat, baking cookies and cooking some lentils, in preparation for our sail the next day.
At 4am in the morning the next day we left the bay and had planned to sail to Wallalibou Bay in St Vincent to spend a couple of days. Well, that plan changed during the course of the day and we continued sailing until we reached the tiny island of Bequia, part of the Grenadines. We arrived almost when the sun was setting, and this was an accomplishment, so we were pretty happy but so tired that we went straight to bed.
We spent two days here in Bequia. We ran into Moody Mistress, our Canadian friends and we caught up with them a couple of times. They were on their way to Grenada where they were leaving their boat for a couple of months while they return to Canada to see family and friends. Bequia is a tranquil little island full of fruit stands, cute shops and a vibrant atmosphere. We both felt like for the first time we were on an authentic Caribbean island as we had imagined they would look like. So we didn’t want to rush through here but at the same time we had to, so two days later, we raised the anchor and sailed on to Tobago Cays.
We had heard so many nice stories about this place,that we tried to plan it to be there for my birthday which was coming up. Tobago Cays are a group of tiny islands, all surrounded by a reef. It’s a wonderful place with turquoise water, white sand beaches, palm trees and turtles; the perfect place to celebrate my birthday.
We stayed here for two days and we just spent them snorkelling and relaxing on the boat. We also met another aussie boat owned by a couple from WA, Michael and Floss, who bought it in Greece and sailed it to the Caribbean. They had another couple of friends visiting them, Leoany and John, also from WA, and they also happened to know Bergtoff a very nice German man that we had met in Dominica and his wife, so we were all invited to their boat for some drinks on the night of my birthday. They didn’t know it was my birthday but it was really nice to spend it with friendly happy people and we even got to sing “Home Among the Gumtrees” and show the hand signals to our surprised German friends. It was a fun night!
The next day we continued on to the little town of Cliffton in Union Island, another beautiful and colourful town. We checked the internet here and walked around town. We visited a dog shelter full of cute doggies and we pad them and talked to the lady that runs the place; she told us about how they welcome street dogs from all the other islands and they find caring and loving homes for them. They are also trying to educate the community on how to properly care for dogs. Wonderful effort!
After we did our customs and immigration paper work we continued on to another bay called Chattam Bay on the same island to spend the night. It was a beautiful bay, surrounded just by trees and a few small restaurants on the beach. We watched the sunset and had a restful night.
Although we planned to stay a couple of days here, we again decided to keep moving, so our next stop was Grenada. Before arriving to St George’s capital of Grenada and port of entry, we made a quick lunch stop in a bay where we have heard they had underwater sculptures. We had a quick lunch and went to explore. It was a very interesting place to snorkel at and we were happy to have stopped. We quickly towel dried ourselves and continued on to the city. We wanted to make sure we arrived there before dhl or fedex closed for the day and we did. We had a few packages arriving, so we went and collected some of them and went back to the boat.
The next morning after collecting the rest of the packages and looking around town we continued south to Prickly Bay where we spent the next 10 days. We loved this anchorage. It was a bit rolly but protected and there is the Prickly Bay Marina there, which has a very welcoming attitude toward cruisers.
They have a big restaurant and bar area, with great internet connection. They were never too fused about us staying all morning long only drinking a coffee and checking internet, they had free yoga classes two times a week and all sorts of social activities: bingo night, Mexican train domino, karaoke night and so much more. So this is a place that I definitely recommend for a stop and recharge.
We were quite busy during our stay here. We replaced all the standing rigging ourselves. Mick went up the mast and took them out, then he took the wire to the rigging shop and brought back the new ones and put them back on again. It was really hard but we saved a lot of money by doing it this way. At the end of it all, we had a rigging inspection done to make sure everything was fine and also for insurance reasons. Once we were finished with all these jobs, we were ready to leave for Bonaire.
We left Grenada on Monday 1 June around noon. It took us 76 hours to reach Bonaire and we had a very pleasant passage. Although I had done an 8 day long passage before (New Caledonia to Australia) , I did it on a 62 ft Catamaran, we weren’t in charge, we were just crew and I didn’t feel like I was doing much, just hanging out with Mick, while he was on watch, really.
This was my first time, on watch on my own, on our boat, the two of us alone; so I was a bit nervous. But I’m happy to say, I had a good time. I had my moments of fear, where there were some bigger waves and I got a bit scared, but I also had exhilarating moments and moments of peace and happiness. It was a beautiful passage with a big bright full moon and not so rough conditions; and the most important part for me is that we did really well as a team, supporting each other and being there whenever we needed the extra hand. So first three day passage completed!
And then we arrived to Bonaire. The good thing is that we arrived on the late afternoon of Thursday, so we had long showers, ate a nice hot meal and had the whole night to rest. The next morning we were up and running from really early because by 9pm we were welcoming our first guests ever!: my friend/cousin Viviana and her 5 year old son Juan Martin who were coming from Florida to stay with us for a week.
We had a wonderful time and I’m so glad they came. We were a bit nervous on how they would feel being on a boat, small space, different type of bathroom and shower etc, etc.. but they loved it. Juan Martin had never snorkelled before, so that was one of the first things we did with him. Here in Bonaire, the water is the clearest we’ve ever seen and there are so many fish everywhere, so it was the perfect place for him to learn. And that was it, once he passed those first moments of fear, that’s all he wanted to do for the rest of the time..snorkel, snorkel, and snorkel a bit more!
Viviana was my good friend since before she married my cousin Juan Carlos, so I love her company; she makes me laugh and we always have fun together. It was great to share with her this special time in my life and to spend these days in Bonaire. The week passed so fast but we managed to do a lot of things. We rented a car for two days and we drove all around the island. We saw flamingos, went to the national park, which has beautiful secluded beaches, we went to the kite surfing and wind surfing beach and we just hung around all the nice restaurants in the main city Kralendijk.
One of those days we took them snorkelling to Klein Bonaire, which is a little island in front of the main city, very popular for diving and snorkelling. It was quite an adventure as we went there on our small dinghie, but we managed to go there and get back safely. We noticed there was a lot of rubbish on one side of the island and Viviana wanted for us to show Martin about beach clean ups so the next morning we returned to the island and picked up four big bags of rubbish. Juan Martin got really into it and he was excited to know that he was helping all the turtles and fish that he got to see, while he snorkelled.
They flew back to Fort Lauderdale last Friday and I was devastated when they left. It was so nice to have them here with us and we are definitely missing them. Before they left, we created a certificate for Juan Martin for all his great behaviour and for all he had learned on his time on Ondular and we had a small ceremony. I think it was a very proud moment for him and I hope he remembers his time on the boat.
We had the weekend to rest and recuperate after that busy week with them and our 3 day passage from Grenada. Now we are back doing things for the boat and really just waiting for some strong winds to pass as we have to continue our journey. Next stop will be Aruba just to shorten down the trip to the San Blas islands in Panama. We are hoping to leave on the weekend, maybe one or two days in Aruba and then do the 4 day passage to San Blas, another mile stone on our life on the boat. We are definitely looking forward to a Spanish speaking country, waves to surf and some time to settle, as we are thinking of spending at least three months in Panama.