<![CDATA[14000 Miles across the Ocean - Blog]]>Wed, 21 Feb 2018 06:49:16 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Wreck Bay]]>Tue, 19 Sep 2017 05:14:39 GMThttp://sailing2oceans.com/1/post/2017/09/wreck-bay.htmlIn the morning, we rose, had breakfast and then motored back past Dalrymple and into Wreck Bay. As soon as we were cleared by the authorities, not an easy task as the authorities were somewhat suspicious and officious. A friend, Tom Blackwell, came over from another boat, the Islander, bringing with him oranges, bananas and lemons which were very acceptable as our fresh fruit purchased in Balboa had run out ten days before.

Tom had left Panama the day before us and had taken 19 days to reach Wreck Bay, but motored a lot of the way. Roscops (who had left Wreck Bay this very morning, for Academy Bay) had left Balboa four days before us and had had good weather for the whole of the trip and had taken only 11 days.
Wreck Bay, the port of entry for the Galapagos, has only 30 or 40 houses, mostly shacks and there are several shops where one can buy the barest essentials in shoddy but not cheap commodities. Food was priced at fabulously high prices but fruit was reasonably cheap, but after having bought some we found that it grew wild in the hills and was free for the picking. There are several stores where one can buy the barest essentials in shoddy, but not cheap, hardware, drapery etc. and staple foods like flour, rice and sugar, with a most odd and unusual assortment of tinned and packet groceries, at fabulously high prices. For instance; 12 sucres (5/-) for the smallest tin of hot dogs and 28 sucres (11/8) for a medium size packet of detergent. 

The harbour dues were ridiculously high and quite a blow to our finances, added to this we could not work out how they arrived at the figures they charged. They charged both Tom and us 16 dollars U.S. although Tom’s boat is 30 tons, compared to our 5½. This was quite a blow to our finances (When we got to the next settlement, where we met more yachts, we found they had all paid odd amounts up to 24 dollars, with not a clue as to how the figure was arrived at).

It took us a week to clean ship and ferry out water to top up our tanks, and we had to strain and sterilize every drop as it was full of green weed. Then we left together with two other boats for a distance of 30 miles to Academy Bay. At Academy we anchored alongside and spent the evening having a re-union party on the board of Roscops. Here we met Gus Angermier, who first came from Germany to live here in 1938. I had read in many travel books about Gus and found him very likable and entertaining. He gave us lots of useful information about where to go and what to see and invited us to his home. Our boat was anchored just below Gus’s house and about 200 yards from the settlement landing place.

In a small boat, the movement prevents one from doing a lot of maintenance at sea. At sea, we only use fresh water for drinking and cooking, and if we wash clothes in salt water they get stiff, so we save our washing for port and do some everyday until it is all clean again.

So we have a routine: get up, bathe, have breakfast, wash up, make a shopping list and then go ashore, taking our water cans with us. We go in the morning because it is cooler and also in lots of places the shops are only open in the morning. It is best to go ashore each day and stock up in easy stages and get fresh bread at the same time. We bring back 8 gallons of water each day, until our tanks are filled and our laundry done. 

<![CDATA[Balboa to Wreck Bay]]>Tue, 19 Sep 2017 05:02:26 GMThttp://sailing2oceans.com/1/post/2017/09/balboa-to-wreck-bay.htmlOn Sunday, 19th April, after having made all the necessary preparations, we left Balboa and motored to the Tobago Islands, where we were becalmed for four hours. Then at 4 pm the wind and sea built up and we could see a storm hanging over Balboa. 

On the 20th the wind was down to force 1 and a small bird, obviously distressed, came aboard and we tried to feed and shelter it but it hid in our furled mainsail. We looked occasionally to see how it was getting on, but later in the day it had gone. We felt rather sad and very sorry for the little creature as it did not appear to have the strength to reach land. We often wondered whether it did.

During the next few days the wind was very slight and variable, it was overcast and no sights were possible, we could only aim at the South West and hope for the best.

The following day the wind was a little stronger, and although we did not know our position, we caught our first fish after all the time we had been at sea on our journey. From this we had a very good meal as we fried the fish in batter and cooked chips and all in all it was very palatable.

During the night Penny called me out, as it was her watch whilst I slept, to see what looked like a huge sea serpent. On further investigation with a torch however, we found it to be an enormous log with sea birds perched on it. If we had hit this at speed it would have holed our 9/16" thick hold, so after breathing freely once again we carried on and meanwhile thought about how our journey could have ended.

For the next nine days winds were variable, one day force 1 and overcast, another for a few hours it would be up to 4-5 veering force 7 and then flat calm, at nights the sea was like glass. During this time I was only able to take poor sights and our position was unknown. This kind of weather continued on for several days and we had calms, variables and squalls with the wind from every direction. We would sail for 24 hours and apparently make good progress, but our position, when we worked it out would show only a distance of 10 to 12 miles per day. We began to think that our Sextant was in grave error and that we were hopelessly lost.

Imagine our joy when I sighted the rock Malpelo one evening and we were able to fix our position as half-way in the right general direction. Then imagine our despair when after two days we could still see Malpelo, and this after sailing an estimated 50 miles each day. It became obvious that we were fighting a much stronger current than we had imagined possible and we were only helped by fluky winds. Now we could only plod on and hope for the best.

Our voyage started, went on and ended with calm variables to the very last day. Our first sighting of the Galapagos was at Tower Island, far to the north of our proposed destination at Wreck Bay on San Cristobal. But we were pleased to see it, no one can imagine unless they have actually experienced this kind of journey. On the evening of the 24th day we came in sight of Dalrymple Rock, the entrance marker for Wreck Bay. With the wind dead on our nose we fought to get there before dark, as according to the pilot entrance by night is dangerous.

Finally realizing we could not make it we eased off and headed down wind to a small sandy bay about 4 miles along the coast. Drifting inshore on the last of the dying wind we dropped anchor about 30 yards offshore in 18ft of clear sandbottom water, just as the light started to fade. After a makeshift meal, we were too tired to bother with very much, we rolled into our banks and slept like logs, able to relax at least without having to worry as to our position or whether we would dash out to take down canvas in squalls. During this 24 day crossing I had raised reefed or lowered sail more times that I had during the previous six months of our journey.

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<![CDATA[Balboa Continued]]>Tue, 19 Sep 2017 04:27:40 GMThttp://sailing2oceans.com/1/post/2017/09/balboa-continued.htmlIf I ever go long distance sailing again, I would want a boat at least 40 ft long, as with this one can earn a living. Most of the boats we meet are bigger than ours and I now have a very clear idea of the type of boat best suited to this kind of life. How you would have reacted off Maracaibo, I don’t know, but the rest of it I think you should enjoy, once you got over your initial fears. I think that Penny will want to go back to sea again. With her own charter boat, she says.

Tell Len that I will try to write to him when we get to sea, and in the mean time to go onto the bridge and drop a plumb line over and measure the height. Seriously, I am worried about this because we have no way of lowering our mast and will have to find somewhere to moor or dock outside if we can’t get under. Our mast is 33ft 6ins and mounted on deck, so that 40ft should give us clearance. What is the rise and fall of tide in Perth? Could we get under at low water springs? Where is the next place up or down the coast we could safely keep Stella M?

Dot and Bluey Bradfield built a 31ft boat in Perth and sailed it to England. How did they manage? We have heard that the import tax on yachts entering Aussie is under revision and may be abolished. We hope so. If we had a really good offer for the boat we would sell her but we would feel real bad about not completing the whole trip in her. Penny had gone over to Tom’s boat to cook some cakes and tarts for him and us to take with us. Tom’s boat is 31 tons and his galley is larger that our saloon. He must be nearly 60, sails single handed. Very nice fellow.

Our next address for mail will be Tahiti, which we should reach in 6 weeks, with lots of luck. I have yet to find out the address after that, not knowing what the post office facilities are on Tonga, Fiji or the New Hebrides. Possibly they have a British Resident Minister or something. I hope you are all in the pink, with lots of fun and laughs as in the old times, and that you are enjoying lots of fresh meat, cream cakes, hard butter, dairy cream, boiled apple puddings and all the other things we keep dreaming about and you probably take for granted. Make us really jealous. Tell us about them in your letters.

Goodbye for now
All my love


P.S I have just read this through and apologise for all the mistakes. The anchorage is rather exposed and the boat rolling like mad and typing has given me a splitting head but I have still to write to Minnie in time to post it before we leave.


P.P.S We are now down to our last gas mantle having been unable to obtain them since we left Bristol. If they are obtainable in Perth we will be very grateful if could send some to Tahiti. They are very light and would not cost much to post. The label reads “VERITAS. ALPHA. Inverted mantle No M3772. Bijou fitting. Makers-Veritas Gas Mantle Works, Wandsworth, London.” Any similar inverted mantle would do, with an interior diameter of 5/8 ins.

I forgot to ask you if the packing cases had arrived from Bristol. We made a tape recording on Roscops which we are sending you. Before he left, Mervyn Lippiat sailed his 50ft cat right alongside us and handed me a spear gun, which he said was a spare. His wife had heard Penny say how much she would like one. In this lark, everyone goes out of their way to help each other. There seem to be very few objectionable characters, and hardly any snobbery among the real ocean cruising types. Possibly because they have all seen nature at her closest, best or worst, and realized what small beer man really is.

At the chart office in Bristol we were told that charts were readily obtainable at Panama and advised to buy them here for the Pacific. Here we find that the stock is very small. Out of the 14 charts I wanted they had only one. By special dispensation we were allowed to buy them at the local U.S. Navy barracks, but they are not as good as the British, and they put us back 20 dollars.  Never mind, we shan't need to buy them on the second time round; In Barbados I had my best new specs pinched and am now managing on my old ones, but the movement of the boat stops me reading a lot.

It’s very funny, when we are at sea, after ten days or so we start looking forward to our arrival in port, but after a short while in port unless it is a really nice place we long to be at sea again. Here we are itching to go, but can’t seem to get the gear and stores squared up.

Dried up now

Love Sim.

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<![CDATA[Panama to Balboa]]>Tue, 19 Sep 2017 04:16:52 GMThttp://sailing2oceans.com/1/post/2017/09/panama-to-balboa.htmlAt the club we found one British yacht, Islander, 56 ft long, sailed, single handed, by a retired naval chap, Tom Blackwell, with whom we have become very friendly. The next day, a Belgium boat, Roscops, arrived. We had last met in Tenerife. Both these boats are bound for Tahiti via Galapagos and Marquesas, as we are.

After waiting ten days to get through the canal, for which yachts require 4 extra crew as line handlers, we came through with Tom. Our line handlers were two 20 year old twin Irish girls and their 19 year old cousin who were hitching round the world, and an American we had met at the club. Although both boats came through together, we each had to have a pilot. The canal company is geared to take big ships through and yachts have to go through the same formalities of measurement and pilotage and pay the same rate per ton. Our canal dues came to 9 dollars 80 cents, which adds up to a loss for the company. As you can imagine, they do not seem very enthusiastic about yachts. We are very relieved to be this side and on the threshold of the Pacific at long last.

The actual trip through the canal was very interesting and somewhat tricky. Yachts go into the locks in front or behind big ships. Ships are held centrally in the lock by 4 diesel locomotives, one at each corner as it were, which have cables stretched taut to hold the ship in the centre of the lock. In the up locks the water rushes in through holes in the bottom so fast that any vessel not held rigidly in the centre would be bounced against the lock walls. Yachts have to be held manually by four very strong ropes, placed over bollards on the lock walls.

As the lock fills in 8 minutes, it is a full time job for one man to look after one rope. We came through lashed to Islander, so that we were held by his ropes and could have two persons per rope. It took us 12 hours to do the total distance of 64 miles, and we arrived at the Balboa Yacht Club just after dark.

“SHE” and WANDERER 4 had been through several weeks before, but we found Mervyn Lippiat here. Two days later MISTRAL & CANTREDI came through. We all get on famously together. Yesterday, Tom, Mervyn and I took all our gas cylinders in a taxi to get them filled. After wasting most of the morning we finally found a place that would fill them. Gas has been one of our biggest problems since we started. The number of hours spent looking for gas depots and then arguing with the managers are a dead loss. No two countries seem to use the same cylinders and connections and even when they do, the working pressures vary. 

Roscops left last night and Mervyn left this morning. Tom is leaving on the day after tomorrow and so are we. All bound for Galapagos. Pierre and Julio in Cantredi and Mistral have to wait here for cash to arrive. Stella Mira has nearly reached rock bottom where cash is concerned. We have just about enough to pay harbour dues (if any) at Galapagos and Tahiti etc, but our food should last out to Aussie. The route we proposed to go is Galapagos, Marquesas, Tahiti, Cook Islands, Tonga, Fiji, and New Hebrides. We had hoped to do New Zealand and Sydney, but this will take too long. We go Brisbane because we have been told that we can earn cash there to see us over the rest of the trip.

When we arrived here there were three letters from you and one from Len waiting for me. Also one from the Bayldons in Las Palmas. Penny had about 9 letters from her various beaus.  This was the first mail since one letter and 1 card in Barbados. We wrote to Antigua and asked for any mail to be sent here, but none had turned up. The camera is not working very well. When we try to wind back the film it jams and the camera had to be opened to take it out.

You say that you sent mail and a book to Las Palmas. This we have not had. Please do not send any more books to Penny or I shall throw both them and her over board. Len is wrong about Everready batteries being world wide, especially the not so standard transistor sizes. In Las Palmas a Danish chap had some flown out from Denmark for us as his sonar was the same make as ours. In the W Indies we tried on all the islands and finally for some on St Lucia, but Hong Kong, not Ever Ready. Don’t worry, we wear our harness in any wind of force 5 or over, Penny seldom leaves the cockpit in a blow, I do all the sail work. We have yet to catch our first fish. The number of hooks and lures we have lost would keep a grand banks schooner going for a year but we never seem to get them on board. Roscops tell us that they use only a plain line with a hook covered in silver paper, no wire trace, no swivel, nothing. And they catch fish almost everyday. There must be a jinx on us. Perhaps on the way to the Galapagos we shall have better luck. They say this is the richest fishing ground in the world.

The fruit and veg there is said to be choice and abundant. Stella M is really bunged up with surplus gear which we never use. I have 3 pairs of pyjamas and vests and pants and perhaps 6 or 8 shirts which I haven’t used since Vigo. Penny is the same way. Without all this surplus we would have much more room. Perhaps in Galapagos which is supposed to be very cold in winter and short of home comforts, we will be able to barter. I’m very glad you like the life in Perth but sorry that we have to impose on Len and Queen for so long. What are my chances of a job when we arrive? Or alternatively of starting up some kind of business?

<![CDATA[Martinique to Panama Stormy Seas]]>Sun, 31 Jan 2016 13:27:34 GMThttp://sailing2oceans.com/1/post/2016/01/martinique-to-panama-stormy-seas.htmlDear Phyl,
We are now anchored off the Balboa Yacht Club and expect to leave here in two days time for the Galapagos Islands, which are about 1000 miles southwest from here. I wrote from Martinique to say that we hoped to make a quick passage to Colon. This was not to be. We had our roughest passage yet, on this trip.
Leaving Fort de France at about 4.30 in the afternoon with a fresh breeze, we made good time for six days, bowling along before winds of from force 3 to 5.

The sixth night found us off the coast of Aruba where we spent an anxious few hours trying to identify the lights. The following day, we crossed the gulf of Maracaibo with the wind gradually increasing in strength and us gradually reefing down to match it. By nightfall, we were off Point Gallinas, with the wind right behind us and gusting at Force 8.

All that night we lay to with no sail, taking the sea’s on our starboard quarter and hoping for better weather in the morning. No such luck. In the next six days we were only able to put up sail twice and then only the small red jib of 40 sq ft for a few hours each time. The rest of the time we spent battened down below, trying to read or sleep, with the seas getting larger and longer and the wind whining over us.

Occasionally a sea would break over us, and spray would find its way in through the louvres in the washboards. Almost everything in the boat became moist with either spray or condensation we could feel ourselves getting dirtier and dirtier without being able to do a thing about it. With the violent rolling of the boat, every movement became an extreme effort. Meals were limited to porridge for breakfast and stew for tea, this needing only one saucepan. Baking bread was out. Even tea and coffee making required three hands. It was impossible to put anything down without it falling over.

Using the head became an acrobatical feat. The self draining cockpit took care of most of the spray which came over our stern, but a certain amount, inevitably found its way through the sides of the locker lids into the bilge. Periodically I would clamber out in my safety harness to pump the bilge and get some fresh air. I soon found from experience that it was easier to strip off to do this rather than take off wet clothes every time I came back in. Sitting on the bridge deck with my back to the washboards and my hands stretched out, gripping the combing each side I would watch the seas rolling down on us from astern.

By the 5th day, these had built up to massive proportions. The Yacht would often be in a trough and a huge sea would bear down on us, increasing in size until it loomed, seemingly, mast high, right over us, threatening to roll us end over end. Then with hissing of water it would lift our transom and surge under us leaving the shuddering Stella to wait for the next one. During all this, I would be hanging on for dear life and cowering down to lessen the blow of the wall of water that I was expecting to pour down on me. I came to realize that these large waves seldom came aboard us. The ones that caused us most trouble were the medium size ones that appeared to rise up from nowhere and hit us at an angle. These would slop into the cockpit through the cracks in the hatch and washboards. One of these, catching us right on the beam, fell, square on our starboard dodger and flattened two stanchions back onto our coach roof.

At the end of these 6 days, our morale was at its lowest, at one point I had gashed the ball of my foot and had quite a job to stop it bleeding. Although not really frightened, we were both mentally and physically worn out with the movement and the noise. (Note from Penny:- Every time Dad went outside to pump the bilge, I was really scared that he would get washed overboard and I would be left alone on the boat with no hope of rescuing him) We were later to learn that Pierre in ‘Kantredi’ was in the same storm as us and his boat did a complete roll. He managed to limp into the port of Colon under a jury rig looking very much the worse for wear, eyes completely bloodshot.

We had not the slightest idea of our position, within 50 or 60 miles. At a guess we had drifted at a rate of about 1½ knots, (which turned out to be fairly accurate) but whether we had gone straight downwind or to the north or south we did not know. The whole of that time, I had a horrible sinking feeling about piling up on the shore at Colon.

On the evening of the 6th day the wind began to ease but the sea was, of course, much slower to go down. In the morning we were able to put up our working jib and later on our genoa was goose winged. By noon the clouds had started to clear and we took a sight, followed by another three hours later. From the position these gave us we had drifted 230 miles in the 6 days. It was lucky for us that the wind had been in the right direction for us (South East by East) and had kept us off the coast.

On the 13th day, we put out a fishing line and had a bite and started to pull it in. Suddenly there was a terrific tug on it and it went slack. This was to happen to us quite a few times on the rest of our trip and we could only conclude that a shark had taken the fish we had caught.

On the afternoon of the 15th day we sailed into the harbour at Colon and anchored off pier 9 as directed in the Eric Hiscock book. An immigration officer came aboard and spent nearly an hour with us, filling out various forms, one with six carbon copies, the last two of which were indecipherable. When we asked what happened to all this fiction we were told that it went into the files and was promptly forgotten.

After the free and easy way in which we had entered all the previous ports we had been in, we were not very impressed by the American brand of freedom. We couldn’t help wondering if Russia could be much worse. Picture, if you can, Stella Mira anchored 300 yards from the Panama Yacht Club. Me, having to row, against a strong wind and sea, in a rubber dinghy 600yds to the docks (outboards being prohibited without a special license, for which a test is required) where I must obtain 3 copies of a form and then walk ½ a mile to the yacht club, get them signed, walk back to the docks, hand in one at the gate and take one to the port captain, then row back to my boat, before proceeding to anchor off the yacht club.

The Americans we met were individually, very nice people, and were very kind and helpful to us but the canal company seems to have a form for everything.

We were almost surprised to find that when we went to use their toilets, we only needed blank forms!
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<![CDATA[Letter from Sim St Lucia to Martinique]]>Sun, 31 Jan 2016 13:23:40 GMThttp://sailing2oceans.com/1/post/2016/01/letter-from-sim-st-lucia-to-martinique.htmlIn the morning, just as we finished breakfast a dinghy arrived and we were warmly greeted by a chap we had met in Barbados, Davey Keefe, he had been crew on a large boat called Artemis, of which his brother was skipper. He was now skippering his brother’s own boat “Sirius”, a gaff ketch which his brother had sailed out three years previously, and Davey was now fitting out intending to day charter. We mentioned that we were very hard up, and also that we wanted our boat slipped. He invited us to come and anchor near him and said that if Penny would cook us all a good meal he would provide the food. It seems he had been living on baked beans and the like for the last three weeks. We all straightaway went into town and bought the makings of a good meal and then while he motored back we prepared to follow.
Before we could leave, we met the people from the Nicholson who told us that they had been lucky enough to get booked in this very day to go up on the local slip (due to a cancellation), and the price quoted seemed a reasonable one. The outcome of all this, was that over a slap up meal that evening, we told our host, Davey, that we intended to inquire about slipping here in Castries, and about our engine trouble. It turned out that he was an engineer by trade and had the facilities to remetal our bearings. We came to an arrangement that he would provide the food if Penny cooked for the three of us, whilst I helped him refit ‘Sirius’, in exchange for which he would help us with our engine. The earliest booking I could get for the slip was three weeks ahead but the price would be even less that I had hoped for.

In practice, everything worked out very well. Stella Mira was on the slip for two days during which time I antifouled the bottom, Davey and I took out the engine and the shaft and Davey remetalled the bearings and checked over the engine. Sirius is now sailing and hopes to charter, shortly.

We came to know and to like Davey immensely in this short time. He is a short, dapper chap, with a beard, and has a great sense of humour and is fun to be with. He comes from Dorset and worked in Canada for two years, then decided that life was too short to be wasted so packed up his job, bought an old car and as he puts it, bummed his way through Canada and the U.S., climbing mountains, which is his other hobby. He is 29. We were all three very moved when it came to parting time. Whilst at St Lucia we met several other interesting people including Grace Gantor, of whom he had heard even before we left the Canaries.

Grace runs a chandlery business and is a very knowledgeable person about the islands and yachts that have visited them. In character, she reminds me very much of Minnie (Sim's mother). We went to a small party at her bungalow to celebrate the roof going on. Penny got drunker than she has ever been before but didn’t show it until she got up to leave, Davey was nearly as bad. Imagine us going to Sirius in an outboard dinghy with the intention of making coffee, at 3 am. Davey steering an erratic course in and out of the boats in the harbour, reaching Sirius and Penny half on Sirius and half in the dinghy incapable of helping herself.

Afterwards, me making hot drinks for both of them, neither of them capable of holding them, and then Penny getting hysterical and crying “Take me home, Dad. I’m so ashamed, take me home”. Then bundling her up on deck again, dropping her bodily into the rubber dinghy, rowing back to Stella, hoisting her on board and putting her to bed. What a life!

Sirius had an initial tryout, sailing about 10 miles up the coast of St Lucia, so we accompanied her in the Stella and sailed rings around her. When we got there we went on board Sirius and had a bit of a picnic.

On another day all the visiting yachts in the harbour (about 10) along with local dignatories were invited to an evening on board a visiting Canadian warship. We were grandly announced as "Captain Simpkins and his daughter", having never been called captain before I felt rather embarrassed. Roscops, who we had met at Teneriffe were also there.

From Castries to Fort De France, Martinique is around 40 miles. For this trip we motored for the first two miles in a flat calm. A breeze then came down on us from our starboard quarter, and soon got itself up to a pleasant force 4. We ran before this under main and genoa, enjoying the best sail we had had for ages. With a clean bottom, the boat was a pleasure to handle. By 3 pm we were in Martinique, the anchor was down and the sails were stowed.Whilst waiting for pratique we identified ‘Mistral’, belonging to Julio, a Spanish chap we had been friendly with in Las Palmas (he sailed with us in the race to Fuertoventura) and whom we had last seen at Barbados, and also 'Kantreidi' sailed by Pierre, a Swiss we had also met in Las Palmas.

Both are bound for Panama and the Pacific, so we shall probably see them again, there. They are both here fitting out and we will all leave within a few days of each other, so we shall perhaps make a race of it. Our three boats are all about the same size.

With luck, we should all be going through the canal at the same time, together with the Flemings on ‘She’ and the Hiscocks on ‘Wanderer IV’.

It is 1200 miles to Christobal Colon, give or take a few, and according to the chart there is a favourable current of two knots, so with luck we could be there in twelve days. When we get past Panama we should make better time, as there are fewer places to stop at.

Our money is dwindling down, but we estimate that we have enough food on board for nearly 150 days by which time we hope to be home and dry (touch wood).

There are lots of things I would like to ask you but by the time I get the answers I would have forgotten the questions. Anyway I know that when our mail does catch up with us, you will have told us all the news.

I hope you are all well and that you will forgive me for causing so much trouble.
Goodbye for now,
All my love,
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<![CDATA[Barbados to Martinique part 2 Grenadines to St Lucia]]>Sun, 31 Jan 2016 13:19:57 GMThttp://sailing2oceans.com/1/post/2016/01/barbados-to-martinique-part-2-grenadines-to-st-lucia.htmlPettit St Vincent doesn’t have any water supply but they have built a desalination plant and sell water to us by the gallon. The plant has round pans with solid floors and stone walls around the perimeter. These walls are built of double brick with a space inbetween and a framework over the top with a plastic covering. They pump seawater into the pans, the water vaporizes up to the plastic in the heat, and then trickles down the sides into the cavity between the bricks and is then collected.
There was a nice little harbour to moor in and we picked up a rubber dinghy here which Encantada had promised us in Grenada. We had had no dinghy since ours was stolen in Las Palmas. This is a much bigger dinghy, intended to be used with an outboard motor and we are able to use the oars from our old dinghy with it although it was a lot harder to row than our old one.

From this retreat we went on past Tobago Cays and stopped the night at Canouan before going on to Bequaia. We didn’t feel very welcome in the township there and they didn’t have anything to sell us. (at this time there was a lot of poverty here, although it now boasts luxury resorts).

Bequaia is the island I had most wanted to visit, having read so much about it, at home.

I was not disappointed, except in the weather. Bad weather and contrary winds have dogged us all the way up and with our engine almost useless we had found it very tiring and determined to get our bearings done as soon as possible. Most of the boats out here motor sail 75% of the time when coming up the islands. At Bequaia we were welcomed by the man and wife crew of ‘Boofer’, a 20ft Felicity, they had packed in their jobs in Essex and shipped ‘Boofer’ out in a Geest boat (Banana boat), intending to cruise out here for 6 months.

They were in their late twenties and said they weren’t prepared to wait until they were too old to enjoy a trip like this. He worked for Plesseys and said that if they wouldn’t take him back, someone else would.

Another pal we made here was a chap with a 26ft Macwester, who had come here 7 years ago and liked it so much that he had stayed on, taking an occasional cruise up and down the islands. His name was Jack Lindsay, and we found out afterwards that he had written 3 books. He was about 50. He claimed that he could live comfortably, here, by making one pair of earrings a day, which the local handicraft shop sold to tourists for him. He had started this as a hobby, making them from shells and driftwood he found on the beaches. Some of them were really original. When we left, he gave Penny a pair.

Whilst at Bequaia, Susan and Eric Hiscock arrived. Not wishing to presume on our indirect contact through Harold Hayles, we did not venture to call on them. It gave our morale quite a boost however when Eric rowed over and invited us on board for tea. We were shown over Wanderer and had a long chat.

From Bequaia to St Vincent is about 20 miles. As we left the harbour the sun was shining and we were able to lay our course for the distance St Vincent hills. Within 20 minutes the sea was shrouded in mist and driving rain and neither St. Vincent nor Bequaia behind us was visible. The wind was Force 6 and gusting 7. We were both wet through and very worried. Contrary to all our previous island sailing, the wind was from the South West and the harbour we were making for was completely exposed from this direction. We could imagine ourselves sailing up the main street to the supermarket with a force 7 wind and 8 ft seas behind us: Looking at the chart, we decided to go east of the town behind the headland and hope that we could find shelter there.

When the headland loomed up out of the mist we eased off to the east, but nearer the coast and not liking the look of it we ran down parallel to it hoping to find shelter behind a small island (Young’s Island). Before we reached this, however, the storm abated as suddenly as it had started and by the time we had anchored the sun was shining as if it had never been obscured. There were several yachts here, lying off a small pier which belonged to the local aquatic club.

A Nicholson 32 (Jylder) we had met previously at Grenada, Carriacou and Bequaia, exchanged paperbacks with us. We both sailed for St Lucia, leaving in the early morning. With very light, fluky winds, late afternoon found us still in the lee of St Vincent. The Nicholson, with a sound engine in her had left us far behind and obviously intended to keep going. Coming out from the lee of the island into the open sea we found that the wind came strongly from the N.E with a reasonably heavy sea. Not wishing to spend the night battering into this we ran back into the lee of the island and anchored for the night. In the first light, off we went again.

The whole of this day we spent tacking against a N.E wind, but with no engine, our bottom foul, and the tidal stream pushing us west at about 2 knots we made no apparent impression on the distance to be covered. It took us 26 hours to get into the lee of the Pitons (hills on the south of the island) and another 9 to get to Castries. Here we checked in with the port authorities and then dashed ashore to get some bread and grapefruit, just as the shops were closing. We then both slept like logs for 12 hours.
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<![CDATA[Barbados to Martinique - part 1 Grenada]]>Sun, 31 Jan 2016 13:17:40 GMThttp://sailing2oceans.com/1/post/2016/01/barbados-to-martinique-part-1-grenada.htmlGrenada to British Yacht Stella Mira
Martinique C/O H.B.M Consul
Society Islands
Pacific Ocean.

Dear Phyl,
The above address is the only one at which we are likely to be sure of getting mail from you.

We have had no mail since you wrote to Barbados. It seems unlikely that we shall have time to go up to Nicholson’s at Antigua, especially as there may not be anything for us, even if we did. Penny will write them and have anything sent to us at Balboa, which place we hope to be in about 14 days (God willing)
As you will have gathered from the postmark we are now at Martinique, where we have called to change our gas cylinders before leaving for Panama. This is the only place which does camping gas. For the last few weeks we have had to manage with paraffin for cooking and lighting. My last letter put you in the picture as far as Barbados, so I will go on from there.

We left Barbados a week before Christmas to go to Grenada. This is called the Nutmeg Island and is the principle source of this spice. It took us about 30 hours of downwind sailing and as we rounded the headland to approach the harbour we were hit by one of its famous white squalls. For a ¼ of an hour we were deluged, visibility through the really stinging rain (we had only our swim suits on) was only 25 yards and the wind heeling us to the cockpit combing, forced us to let fly our sheets every two or three minutes. It soon abated, and we were then able to pass through the entrance into the lagoon, where we dropped anchor alongside ‘She’ which had arrived there several days before. Sheila and Bob Fleming told us that they had arranged to go up on the slip on Christmas day to antifoul.

The harbour was full of charter boats, mostly 40 to 50 feet long, earning fabulous money, chartering to rich Americans, and in consequence, the fees for hauling out, etc were far beyond our humble pockets, so having heard that a yard called ‘Grants’ in Martinique was reasonable, we decided to wait till we got there. We met a lot of old friends and made a lot of new ones among the charter and other boats moored in Granada. The yacht club made us welcome, and although we could not afford meals there we were able to use the showers and read back numbers of yachting magazines we had missed whilst drinking iced cokes.

The charter boat crews had bought a live pig and proposed to kill and barbeque it for Christmas dinner at the Patio Club adjoining the mooring stages. We were invited to participate in this and to go to several parties. One party, on a boat called ‘Zelina’ was a continuous one, from Christmas Eve to New Year, guests knocking off to sleep at irregular intervals.

Whilst in Grenada, we went to the local cinema, which showed mostly Italian made westerns, and James Bond type films, real ham, but very funny. It was a bit scary walking at night there, there seems to be a fair bit of violence among the locals with a real risk of mugging so we only went in a large group.

‘Sugar Creek’, a boat I have previously mentioned had arrived, and although not much bigger than ‘Stella Mira’, had made an agreement with a local hotel, and was taking out four or five guests at a time on day charter, at 15 U.S dollars a head. They intended to do this for the entire season, and then with the proceeds buy a plot of land and build a bungalow, which they will furnish and let through an agent to American tourists. Then they will go on through into the Pacific, and continue cruising with an assured income.

As usual, we stayed longer that we had intended in Grenada. We make so many friends and then the longer we stay, the harder it is to part from them. Each day we say “We must go tomorrow” but something always seems to crop up to stop us. Then someone says “You must come and see this or that, you may never get a chance to see it again” and so time flies.
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<![CDATA[Letter Mid Atlantic from Penny]]>Sun, 31 Jan 2016 13:15:47 GMThttp://sailing2oceans.com/1/post/2016/01/letter-mid-atlantic-from-penny.html‘Stella Mira’
500 miles out in the Atlantic
Nov 6th

Dear Mum,

You are at long last getting a letter from me, but then you know how I hate writing letters. I’m able to do so at the moment because there’s nothing else to do. We’ve run out of books and the boat isn’t moving very fast. We’ve been at sea for 11 days now and we haven’t had good weather, we keep getting 2’s & 3’s instead of the 4 & 5’s we want. However we’ve managed to get the self steering gear to work (touch wood) so we don’t have to helm the boat at all. The only trouble is that it comes undone every few days and dad has to climb on the back and reset it.
We aren’t doing too badly for food at the moment, but some of the stuff we’ve got we just can’t face; we’re going to try and swap some at Barbados. Surely someone likes freeze-dried peas, dried potatoes and tinned stewed steak or corned beef. Here’s last week’s menu, see what you think of it.

Sun Minced Beef & onion, mashed potato, tinned carrots and tinned oranges
Mon Spaghetti and sausages (one pot meal cos the weather was bad) and tinned grapefruit
Tues Corn Beef omelette & chips (that’s the only way we can eat corn beef) & banana custard
Wed Stewed steak pie, boiled potatoes & surprise beans (that’s the only way we can eat stewed steak too) & pears (ugh they make me want to heave)
Thurs Chicken omelette & chips, jam tart and custard
Fri Pasties & chips & instant whip (lemon flavoured which in dad’s words ‘tasted like shit’ I couldn’t eat it)
Sat Roast Beef, mashed potato, carrots tinned & Royal Pudding

The only other foods we like are hamburgers and salmon, but we’re waiting for the cress to grow to eat that. (The salmon I mean). Unfortunately we’ve run out of ordinary potatoes and we’ve only got the dried stuff left. I tried to make croquettes with it yesterday but the potato just evaporated away in the hot fat. It was quite funny really. However you can fry it if you don’t use much fat. By the way please keep this letter and if I ever complain about the food you give me, just show it to me and I’ll shut up.

We don’t know when we’ll arrive in Barbados, at the rate we’re going, not for another 40 days. I certainly hope we arrive there before my birthday; I don’t want to finish my teenage years at sea. The blasted wind’s just changed direction again but it’s grown in force so that’s alright.

By the way do they sell smoky bacon crisps in Australia? And grapefruit? They didn’t in Las Palmas. What I miss most is roast potatoes, nice crispy ones.

We make bread nearly every day with yeast and it tastes alright but it’s always a white colour, we don’t have the egg to spare to make it brown. The pies don’t brown very much either but they taste alright and that’s all that matters. Do you know anyone who’d like about 30 packets of Vitawheats? We’re going to try and swap that in Barbados too as now we cook bread we don’t eat it.

Mr Thomas (Colonel Bayldon, everyone calls him Mr Thomas in the yacht club in Las Palmas) gave us a stem of bananas as a parting gift when we left Las Palmas. Unfortunately they all ripened before we left Gomera and we couldn’t keep up with eating them (we even had banana fritters for breakfast) and had to give some away. They’ve all gone now; all we’ve got now is a few apples and a few raw carrots. Funny all I seem to think about is food I’ve got it on the brain.

It will be wonderful when we reach Barbados to go in a shop and ask for what you want in English. I can understand Spanish very well and speak it reasonably well; the only trouble is that nobody understands my accent. I go into a shop and say something like “Yo quero (I want) ½ kilo de Gallieta Popular (biscuits)” and they look at me quite blankly, eventually I point it out and they say “Oh Gallieta Popular” exactly the same way as I did. Oh well never mind! We shan’t be going anywhere they speak Spanish again. The only trouble is we might go somewhere where they speak French and when I try to speak it all that comes out is Spanish. Still perhaps my French will come back when I have to speak it.

Same Day, 3 hrs later.
We’ve just had a bath in the cockpit, we filled it up with sea water, and I got in first, sat down and washed myself with washing-up liquid and afterwards sponged myself down with fresh water. Dad threatened to take a photograph of me when I was sat there but luckily he didn’t. When I finished he got in and had his bath and to quote him ‘Bath night at the Ritz’. If it ever rains we shall stand out in the cockpit and have a shower but unfortunately so far it hasn’t rained hard enough. Please excuse the wonky writing but it’s where the boat keeps rolling.

We’ve arrived Sun 24th Nov. Dad will write full details of journey shortly, we’ll post this and pick up the mail at the same time.

Love Penny.
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<![CDATA[Crossing the Atlantic continued 2 (told by Sim)]]>Sun, 31 Jan 2016 13:09:25 GMThttp://sailing2oceans.com/1/post/2016/01/-crossing-the-atlantic-continued-2-told-by-sim.htmlOn Saturday the 16th, we went to bed with a force 5 wind behind us. We lay in bed, and listened to the regular swish of water every time we surged forward on the top of a sea. We were indeed being rocked in the cradle of the deep. Later, in my half sleep, I became gradually conscious that the periodic swishing, had turned to a constant roar. I became fully awake, with a start, and dived for the hatch. The bow wave was foaming out phosphorescently on each side and our wake literally shone behind us into the distant night.
The boat was sailing magnificently, as fast as I could ever hope to sail her. I thought of the 505’s at Lyme, planning at their fastest, and felt the same elation that I got from watching them, but with an additional sense of power, as well as the speed, involved now. The rear shrouds and the backstay were so taut, that they were humming in the wind. This was what we came for. Had we been on a day sail at home, I would have let her rip, and hang the consequences. But here, the risk was too great. With over 1000 miles to the nearest land, or perhaps, steamship, for that matter, we could not afford to lose our mast. I knew too, that this wind would soon build up much heavier seas, and that I must reef whilst I still could.

Yelling to Penny to come up and stand by to release the sheets, I scrabbled into my safety harness, and clipped my way forward, from hold to hold. The working jib, (100sq ft) was boomed out to port, but not clipped into the forestay. As Penny eased off the sheet, the boom swung toward the bow until I could reach forward to detach the boom clip from the sail. Then, after fastening the boom end inboard, I released the halyard, slowly smothering the wildly flapping sail at the same time. The effect was almost magical. We had lost over 1/3 of our sail area, and although the boat was still traveling fast, the tension had gone and the movement eased. I felt that unless the wind increased considerably, we were safe enough like this.

Penny went below, but I stayed up for half an hour, until I was satisfied that there was no more danger. This was the first time we had touched the foresails since we had put them up, nearly 1000 miles before. The following day the wind had eased a little, but the seas had built up a lot. I spent sometime, checking over the foresail, for chafe, and renewing the lashings which had worn through on the sail hanks. In the evening we were able to put the sail back up. We now went back to force 3 for two days. On Monday the 18th, at 6pm, I rose from my seat in the forecastle, put my head up through the hatch, and looked aft. Penny, who was preparing to cook our dinner, (kippers) thought I was joking, when I said “There a ship right behind us”.

At 7.30 pm we had just finished our meal, which we had elected to have in the cockpit when the motor vessel ‘ULYSSES’ of Amsterdam, pulled across our stern and went past at a distance of 150 yards on our port side. We were not the only people in the world after all. We waved. They waved back. Then they pulled away from us and gradually diminished in size.

On the following day the trade winds gave us a good kick up the pants, and our daily runs increased. Our log showed around the 112 mark each day, but our sights gave us considerably more, so we were now getting a fair amount of help from the north equatorial current.

The wind stayed with us for the next three days. On working out our sights at 7pm on Saturday November 23rd, we found that we had done 147 miles in the previous 24 hours and the distance to Barbados was only 59 miles. At this rate we would follow our usual pattern and arrive in harbour during darkness. As we felt we should not risk hitting land in the dark, we decided that we would continue as we were for another 35 miles, during which we would sleep, and thereafter lighten sail and keep watches. Now came the 64 dollar question. Had our navigation been accurate?

I found I was unable to do more than doze, fitfully, and every half hour or so, pushed my head up to look around. At 1 am I though I saw a lightening in the sky on the horizon ahead, but could not be sure. At 1.30 when I had looked again, the glow seemed brighter. At 2am I was sure. I awakened Penny, and after a short discussion went forward and took down the jib. Penny went back to bed and I sat in the cockpit trying to estimate how far away the glow was. It is difficult to express how elated I was, that after 3000 miles we hit the nail right on the head.

In another hour I could count the flashes and identify the light. After a while other lights came over the horizon. I called Penny to take over, and went below for my spell. It seemed only minutes I had slept, when she called me. Barbados was now outlined against the sky and we could hear the surf. Easing round to port we ran down parallel to the coast. In a short while the sky began to lighten in the east. The sea subsided as we slowly came round into the lee of the island, and soon we had to put up the mainsail and were reaching northwest. As the coast came nearer we made out the brilliant green of the vegetation above the yellow sandy beach. It was wonderful to sail with the wind on our beam, in a flat sea, heeling to the breeze, instead of rolling as we had done for the last 4 weeks. At 7am we had rounded the buoy at the southern extremity of Carlisle Bay, and were eagerly scanning the 30 or so yachts moored in front of us. Penny said that she thought that she could recognize ‘SHE’ so we tacked up in that direction.

It was ‘SHE’ and to our surprise, she still had her quarantine flag up. Sailing past her we threw our anchor over and dropped back to lie 20 feet off on her starboard beam. As we lowered sail, Sheila and Bob came on deck and we exchanged greetings and discussed our respective passages. They had arrived late the previous evening.

By 10am, both boats had cleared quarantine, and then we all went ashore. As it was Sunday we could not go shopping, and in any case we had no local currency, so we went to the Cruising Club, where we were made welcome.
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