St Kitts and Nevis: Short and hefty

St Kitts and Nevis is another very small state in the Eastern Caribbean with an estimated(!) population of 55‘000 only. No state so far was too small to give us a nice Welcome. Here, they sent a pretty large whale jumping out of water several times, leaving huge splashes whenever it plunged back. Good he didn’t decide to cuddle with Yuana.

St Kitts is actually also known as St Christopher, the name given by Columbus after his own name. We have met the traces of Columbus many times here in the West Indies. He discovered most of the Easter Caribbean Islands for Spain. Touching history is so much better then just learning it out of school books.

In Columbus’ wake came other Europeans. Too many times, this ended bloody for the Caribs, also in St Kitts. A small number of aboriginal Caribs remains, today living in Dominica. Today, the lands are mainly owned and populated by the descendants of African slaves. Speaking about population of St Kitts, one should not forget to mention the green velvet monkeys. They are up and around until 10a.m., before sun gets too warm.

Arriving at the Southernmost tip of St Kitts, we were astonished to find a high finish mega yacht harbor. It seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. Miss-leaded Investment? Nearby was the Salt Plage, perhaps the coolest beach bar we have ever seen. The palm trees, lounge sofas and high chairs were arranged on three platforms, partially over the water. Super simple and award winning design, someone did a fantastic job!

When we took a stroll to the other side of the narrow island, we came across a small luxury hotel. Another remarkable place in the middle of nowhere? Also special was that all these places were interlinked with perfectly paved roads with park-like gardens aside. On the way back, a six-seated golf cart stopped and offered us a lift back to our anchorage. The driver was a woman, with a man seated next to her.

We asked a bit what kind of development was going on here, and who in that small country could invest in such top class properties. The man in the cart looked back to me and was saying with a wide grin on his face: “I’m the crazy guy doing all that”. It turned out that he was the American businessman Charles P Darby III. Just google him. You will find the former CEO of the company who developed Kiawah-Island in the US and also Irish Doonbeg Golf Resort which was later sold to the Trump Family.

Charles explained that he bought 2500 acres of land to develop it into a huge luxury residential area, encompassing more than 200 buildings.
The most dramatic Tom Fazio golf course is the next thing they will build. Super impressive! Charles was kind enough to shake hands with us again when he showed up at the beach bar on the same evening.

Another helpful person was Elvis. He drove us high up to the Brimstone Hill Fortress, another large defense installation of the British, this time to fight the French. At those times it was of utmost importance to secure an anchorage in the vicinity of a good fresh water river. No trip back to
Europe could start without the barrels filled with drinking water. Elvis also offered us some economical insights:

As everywhere else in the West Indies the sugar cane business lost momentum decades ago and sent Kittian economy into a long sleep. Only 15 years ago when the cruise ship terminal was opened, tourism got significance and quickly became the most important economic sector. In high season, two or three cruise ships visit St Kitts every day. In the off season, its considerably less, depending on latent hurricanes.

Asking about difficulties with quickly growing tourism, Elvis said that everyone is happy with it because it creates lots of jobs. Then he added: “OK, there is one problem. With the tourists coming, many of us now must work on Sundays. Then we can’t go to Church. But the weekly service is very important for us.” More than a dozen of Christian Churches exist in Basseterre only. They compete for members in a saturated market.

Elvis blown the horn every other mile to say hello to someone else on the road. Once it was the hair dresser, then a family member and then a very good friend, the former Prime Minister who is now in the opposition. By the way, there is no Republican Party as we know it, and a Green Party is not required at all. The parties are more in the range of different shades of Labors, which started forming in the late times of slavery.

The country is proud of celebrating its 35 years of independence from UK this year. The Commonwealth improves the access to international financial markets. They however complain that loans for disaster recovery are becoming more expensive after catastrophic incidents such as most recent hurricanes. The county’s stability is questioned. “Why and how should we pay the bill for global warming which was produced elsewhere?”. A thoroughly wide topic…

Last but not least, such small country could not defend itself in case of an attack. We learned that the military interventions of UK in Falkland and the one of US in Grenada are taken as a sign that Kittians would not been left alone in such a case. In return, US Army is allowed to train in the country, and also to use its geographic position strategically. Young Kittians do not need to serve in an army.

That was a lot for little more than one day only, isn’t it? St Kitts was a very quick go for us. After leaving St Kitts and Nevis, we did a short provisioning stop in St Barths. This is the famous French place where Johnny Hallyday was buried recently. As I conclude this article, we are already on the British Virgin Islands. We have decided to meet up here with some friends for Easter. The BVI’s will perhaps be our grande finale in the West Indies, before starting our second Atlantic Crossing with new crew during May.

Wishing everyone a nice Easter Weekend
Markus and family

PS: There are some great photos from St Kitts on http://www.yuana.life . As always, Klick on our logo to randomly see the next picture.

Antigua – The upper class holiday place

Antigua welcomed us with its English Harbor, a paramount anchorage which can perhaps not be found many times in the world. Very well protected and hardly visible from the sea, it was the perfect place to protect a naval fleet. The whole area around that most beautiful bay is today listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. What is called The Nelson’s Dockyards are the docks where ships tie up for unloading and loading.

This all started 235 years ago, when Piracy was still a big issue in the Caribbean. Admiral Horatio Nelson developed the English Harbour area for the British Navy to support their claims in the West Indies. The place grew strong enough to stop the piracy of those days. Earlier, the British, French, Spanish and other Admiralties teamed up with the Pirates very opportunistically, just to win (or loose) the next battle.

The Nelson’s Dockyards were beautifully restored and are today used as a marina. Also thanks to its nice surrounding, it became a preferred docking place for super yachts. Steering my own ship into English Harbour and tying her up at the great old Nelson’s Dockyards became one of my personal maritime highlights. I realized this only in hindsight. And this was the perfect start for our encounter with Antigua.

The following days brought us back some dear friends from the yachts Krabat, A Capella of Belfast, Dream Catcher and Kisu. All of us were then anchored in Falmouth Bay, just next to English Harbour. We enjoyed sundowners in one or the other cockpit and made sure to party at the local Yacht Club.

Then came the birthday of our son. He turned eleven and was a bit disappointed that he didn’t get an invitation for Hogwarts, the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This was at least what happened to Harry Potter at his own eleventh birthday (we are working ourselves through that book, English edition, every evening bit by bit). All of us enjoyed the day with a bit of sailing, swimming, beach games and an e-reader as top birthday present. It was very important for him to get into a marina with internet connection. Sure we did, and we closed this great day with an appropriate dinner at a great Greek restaurant.

Because we liked Antigua and wanted to get more of it, we decided to explore the Northwestern part of the country. We found dozens of quiet islands, reefs, almost white beaches and turquoise waters. We spotted breeding Pelicans and pure nature. On Long Island, one-story luxury hotels lined up along the beach, offering peace and privacy for several thousand dollars per night – the place to be.

Antigua actually has a little neighbor, with is the island called Barbuda. Barbuda is said to top the beauty of Antigua. We didn’t go there. Sadly, Barbuda got totally destructed by storm Irma, and other sailors who tried to visit the place confirmed this. So we decided not to go there.

Antigua is something special, not only for its natural beauty, but also for rules and regulations. They are so good that they need their own electronic pre-arrival notification system for sailors, whereas the other East Caribbean States teamed up for one common solution. Moreover, one has to throw the hook and dinghy in for the customs and immigration, before the boat can be tied up on a dock. ‘Work your way in if you want to be part of our place!’

The hight was when we had to register our kids as passengers rather than crew, which cost a lot of money. Dear Antiguan authorities, the sailing community just laughs about such advanced level of ridiculousness.

Other strange things? Yes, when we were on the beautiful uninhabited islands with no supermarket around the corner, we tested some canned meals which we bought earlier in Martinique. We assumed that we can find the same cans again further up North in Saint Martin, as stock for our second Atlantic crossing. Guess what? Those canned meals must have been produced in the same factory which produces the food for our cats. So: No canned meals for the long way back to Europe ;-)!

By the way: Nelson’s Dockyards called up some nice memories from the great old harbors we’d visited in England. That made me starting to like the idea to pay some more visits there on our way back 🙂

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Picture: Copper and Lumber Store, now a hotel inside Nelson’s Dockyards

Guadeloupe

Manuela hatte in Dominica bekanntlich einen Reitunfall erlitten, und in den drei Folgetagen wurden die enormen Rückenschmerzen eher schlimmer als besser. Die Sache musste ärztlich untersucht werden, und so setzten wir ins benachbarte Guadeloupe (Frankreich) über, und zwar nach Pointe-à-Pitre, da wo sich ein Unispital befindet.

An einem Montagmorgen fand der telefonische Erstkontakt mit einem Arzt in der Marina statt, und am Dienstag Nachmittag war die medizinische Untersuchung abgeschlossen. In dieser Zeit sahen wir je zweimal den einweisenden Arzt und den Neurologen. Dazwischen waren wir zum Röntgen und für Die Computertomografie zwei privaten Kliniken. Alles ging sehr einfach und kostete weniger als 400 Euro. Effizienz pur!

Dabei gab es schlechte und gute Nachrichten. Manuela hatte sich beim Stutz vom Pferd das Steissbein gebrochen. Das ist eine äusserst schmerzhafte Angelegenheit. Trotz starker Schmerzmittel kann man in den ersten zwei Wochen mehr schlecht als recht liegen oder stehen, jedoch nicht sitzen. Die gute Nachricht war, dass es sich um eine splitterfreie Fraktur handelte, und der Knochen in seiner normalen Lage war. Somit musste nicht operiert werden. Das hätte noch viel schlimmer kommen können!

Mittlerweile sind seit dem Unfall fast vier Wochen vergangen. Die Sache scheint gut zu heilen und langsam kehrt wieder der Normal-Alltag ein. Es passte gerade, dass wir die Schulferien gegenüber Zuhause um zwei Wochen hinausgezögert hatten. So konnte Manuela ohne Lehrerinnen-Aufgaben im Schiff ruhen, während für Markus und die Kinder Ausflüge und Strandplausch anstand.

Beispielsweise besuchten wir den Pointe des Château, das kühn ins Meer hinausragende Südostkap von Guadeloupe. Die Sicht auf die anrollenden und seitlich vorbeiziehenden Wellen war überwältigend. Die sanften grossen Wogen des Atlantiks türmten sich an den Felsen zu gewaltigen Brechern auf. Die Gischt türmte sich kaskadenartig auf: hoch – höher – am Höchsten!

Eines Tages verholten wir Yuana in einen neuen Hafen an der Westküste. Manuela lag im Salon und Junior hielt eines seiner seltenen Mittagsschläfchen. So ich hatte das Glück, einmal mit meiner Tochter alleine im Cockpit zu sein. Wir führten interessante Gespräche, unter anderem über die Nachteile des Segelns: „Weisst du, Papa, beim Segeln kann es einem übel werden. Das Fliegen ist viel besser. Dort kann man nur abstürzen“.

An der Westküste haben wir drei Gesunden das erste Mal mit Sauerstoffflaschen getaucht. Der Tauchlehrer ging mit jedem von uns separat auf einen 20-minütigen Tauchgang an einem Riff im Meer draussen. Die Kiddies sind offenbar Naturtalente und wollten mehr. Ich selbst weiss nun, dass ich mich über Wasser besser fühle als darunter.

Weitere Ausflüge folgten, unter anderem in den Zoo. Auf speziell angelegten Holzstegen schlenderten wir durch den Regenwald, häufig zwei oder drei Meter über dem Waldboden. Von Plattformen sahen wir allerhand Regenwald-Tiere, von Kolibris über Riesenschildkröten bis zu Panthern. Ein kleines schlaues Äffchen zeigte uns, wo es an der Scheibeneinfassung ein kleines Loch gab: ‚Man solle doch hier bitte etwas zum Essen durchschieben‘. Speziell gut für die Kinder war das Klettern im Baumwipfelpfad, bis zu 25 Meter über Grund!

Dass bei den beiden die Schoko-Plantage hoch im Kurs stehen würde, verwunderte uns nicht sehr. So erlebten sie die Schoko-Produktion anhand von Schautafeln und einer Life-Vorführung. Der Plantagengarten war äusserst vielseitig. Für mich war die grosse Neuigkeit, dass Cornichons (Essiggurken) an Bäumen wachsen. Sie hängen nicht etwa an Ästen, sondern wachsen in Büscheln direkt zum Stamm heraus!

Wie schon viele Male auf unserer Reise nahmen wir für unsere Ausflüge Mietwagen. Das kostet für vier Personen kaum mehr als ÖV, und über die gewonnene Flexibilität muss man schon gar nicht reden. Trotzdem waren wir auch mal auf einen ÖV-Bus angewiesen. Fahrpläne kannten auch die anderen Passagiere nicht. Man musste halt einfach warten, einmal 25 Minuten, einmal 70 Minuten.

Das mit den Mietwagen ging bisher immer gut. Vor der Rückgabe des zweiten Mietwagen in Guadeloupe passierte jedoch etwas Kurioses. Die Tankuhr im Auto wollte trotz randvollem Tank keinen vollen Tank anzeigen. Bei der Wagenrückgabe brauchte es keine lange Erklärung, denn der Mensch von der Wagenrücknahme wusste schon, was zu tun war:

Er klemmte bei laufendem Motor die Batterie ab und bei stehenden Motor wieder an. Danach war die Elektronik der Tankuhr zurückgesetzt und zeigte nun tatsächlich voll an. ‚Das sei bei fast allen Renault Clio in seinem Fuhrpark so‘. Wenn sich das Auto nicht so toll hätte fahren lassen, so müsste ich doch glatt meine früheren Vorurteile über französische Autos wieder ausgraben, haha…

Wer hoch steigt fällt tief!

Dominica wurde im September 2017 vom Hurrikan Maria stark getroffen. Man sieht auch nach fünf Monaten des Aufräumens auf fast jedem Grundstück zumindest Spuren oder gar die Verwüstungen der Katastrophe. Deshalb bleiben die Kreuzfahrtschiffe aus, welche sonst mit jedem Anlanden weit über 1000 Leute auf die Insel schwemmen. Das schmerzt die Bevölkerung sehr.

Wir wollen in dieser Situation gute Touristen sein und kaufen den Strassenhändlern und Marktfrauen reichlich Früchte und auch mal eine Halskette ab. Wir haben auch schon zwei geführte Exkursionen unternommen. Die erste war eine grandiose Flussfahrt, und nach der zweiten, einem Ausritt zu Pferd, haben wir zwei Verletzte zu pflegen.

Die Pferdefrauen treffen wir zur vereinbarten Zeit am Strand. Wir erkundigen uns zuerst nach den Touren, dann nach der Sicherheit, und zuletzt nach dem Preis. Man kann zum Beispiel zu Pferd im Meer baden gehen. Da wir sonst schon viel Wasser um und haben entscheiden wir und für die Tour zum einzigartigen Aussichtspunkt, wo man alle vier Klimazonen von Dominica erleben kann.

Bezüglich Sicherheit gibt es klare Informationen und Regeln: Für Kinder unter 15 Jahren gilt Helmtragepflicht, und die Kinder bekommen auch nur ein Pony. Bald ist ein fairer Preis ausgehandelt, und wir lassen uns zum Pferdehof fahren.

Dort finden wir eine liebenswürdige Kanadisch-Dominicanische Familie, ein einfaches Wohnhaus und einen Schuppen für die Reitausrüstungen vor. Man hat sich eine etwas sehr selbstbewusste australische Pferdeführerin zugelegt, welche dank all ihren internationalen Pferdeführrerinnendiplomen bestens qualifiziert ist, um die seit 30 Jahren ansässige Familie angemessen ins Pferdereitbusiness einzuführen.

Schon stehen die Ponys für unsere Kinder bereit. Wenn man will kann man natürlich dem Pferd einen Pony-Kleber anbringen. Aber es wird dadurch nicht wirklich kleiner. Immerhin wird uns versichert, dass dies die erfahrensten Tiere seien, welche unter keinen Umständen scheuen würden. Die Helme werden auch schon gebracht, und die Kinder einfach und nützlich instruiert.

Nun kommt die Frage, ob denn die Erwachsenen auch Helme tragen wollen? Ja sicher, wir sind ja nicht blöd. Immerhin liegen meine Reitstunden mehr als 30 Jahre zurück. OK, das mit den Helmen sei kein Problem, sie seien nur nicht so gut mit Helmen ausgerüstet. Bei meinem Helm fehlt leider das weiche Innenfutter. Ich lasse einfach mein Cap auf dem Kopf und dann passt alles wie angegossen.

Die Hunde werden angebunden, eine Reihenfolge wird der Pferde beim Reiten festgelegt, und dann geht es los. Kaum sind wir auf der Strasse, so sind zwei der Hunde neben uns. Die Pferdeführerin findet das nicht lustig, toleriert es jedoch.

Bald biegen wir von der Nebenstrasse auf einen Naturweg ein, und es kommt einer dieser karibischen Regenstürme daher. Nach 30 Sekunden ist man nass bis auf die Haut. Da wir gerade an einigen Büschen vorbeikommen wird erklärt, dass das nun der Regenwald sei. In der Ferne sehen wir die zweite Klimazonen, ein Sumpf. Die anderen beiden Klimazonen interessieren mich nicht mehr.

Das Reiten macht mir Spass. Es geht etwas bergan und ich staune, wir mein Pferd auf kleinste Zügelbewegungen reagiert, obwohl wir doch einfach hintereinander her reiten. Junior fragt die Pferdetrainerin, wie man bei sein Pferd von Automatikmodus auf Manuell umschalten könne. Er habe ja gar nichts zu tun.

Wir kommen an dem soliden Haus eines Holländers vorbei. Dort brachte sich die Pferdefamilie sich in Sicherheit, während ihre Behausung vom Wind Stück um Stück davongetragen wurde. Kurz nachdem wir drei einzelne Kühe passiert haben bleibt die Pferdeführerin für ein Gruppenbild stehen. Jeder andere Punkt an diesem sanften Berghang hätte ebenso der grandiose ‚Aussichtspunkt‘ sein können. Wir knipsen schöne Fotos und reihen die Pferde für den Rückweg ein.

Der Weg ist vom Regenwasser ausgewaschen und da wo keine Steine liegen, hat es Lehm. Einer der Hunde geht freudig voran, und passiert schon bald die erste Kuh, ein junger ängstlicher Stier. Der Hund macht sich einen Spass daraus, den an einem Strauch angebundenen Stier anzubellen. Schon reisst sich der Stier los, und der Hund hetzt hinterher, dummerweise genau auf die Pferde zu.

Ich habe jetzt noch die bedrängte Visage des Stiers vor mir: hinter sich ein rasender Hund, vor sich sechs Pferde, und ein beidseitig mit dichtem Buschwerk gesäumter Weg. Bald schon entscheidet er sich, dass die Büsche der beste Ausweg sind, und verschwindet flink wie ein Hase vom Weg. Zusammen mit dem Stier ist auch der Hund weg.

Nun sind wir schon mitten in der Kaskade, welche schliesslich zu unserem Reitunfall führt. Das Pferd unserer Reitlehrerin geht mit dem Abgang des Stiers hoch und steht nun also auf den Hinterbeinen. Von den zwei verbleibenden Hufen rutscht eines auf den Lehm weg, und das Pferd
verliert die Balance vollends. Es fällt auf die Seite, und begräbt das linke Bein unserer Pferdeführerin unter sich.

Vom ersten Pferd aufgescheucht, lassen sich auch die anderen Pferde verunsichern. Junior‘s Pferd lässt sich nun endlich manuell führen. Er wendet sein Reittier und geht wieder bergan. Es läuft geradewegs auf Manuela‘s Ross zu, und der Junior wird sich später erneut beklagen: „Das dumme Pferd hat nicht geschaut wo es hinläuft!“. Zu wenig Automatik. Jedenfalls schnappt sich Manuela heroisch Junior‘s Zügel, um dem Pferd im manuellen Modus eine neue Vorgabe zu machen: „Stopp!“ Die Pferde haben eine andere Meinung, und schon bald gehen Manuela und der Sohn unsanft zu Boden. Ich bin der Hinterste von allen und sehe nun die Tochter stracks den Hang hinaufreiten. Sie zieht aus Leibeskräften an den Zügeln und bringt das grosse Tier hinter mir zum Stillstand. Mein eigenes Pferd schnaubt zwar wie verrückt, bleibt ansonsten jedoch cool. Die beiden Pferdefrauen gesellen sich etwas verwirrt zu unserer Tochter.

Ich muss sie erst anweisen, endlich das Pferd der Tochter festzuhalten. Eine weitere Anweisung war notwendig, damit der Tochter beim Absteigen geholfen wurde. Der Sohn kommt mit einigen Prellungen weg. Manuela hingegen ist rückwärts gefallen und hat sich eine schwere Prellung im Bereich des Steissbeins zugezogen. Das schmerzt sehr und schränkt die Bewegungsfreiheit momentan stark ein. Die Heilung wird wohl zwei oder drei Wochen dauern. Zum Glück scheint es keine schwere innere Verletzung gegeben zu haben.

Der oben erwähnte Holländer hat trotz seines Alters offenbar einen Schrei gehört und kommt nachsehen. Während die Pferdefrauen die sechs Tiere in den Stall führen, dürfen wir auf der Terrasse des Holländers ausruhen. Normalerweise wäre die Geschichte hier zu Ende gehen. Es gibt jedoch noch etwas Bonusmaterial:

Hannes muss schon weit über 80 sein. Wir sind beide Ingenieure und verstehen uns auf Anhieb bestens. An irgendeinem Punkt im Leben war er Orthopäde. Er kommt schnell zum Schluss, dass do unseren beiden Verletzten kein schwerwiegender Schaden vorliegt, und wir wohl einen guten Schutzengel haben.

Dann geht es sofort zu seinem eigenen Glück, nämlich der Tabakspfeife. Sobald er aufhören würde zu rauchen, würde er sein Leben aushauchen. Er wolle dann in die Kiste, und zwar mit seiner Pfeife, einem Beutel Tabak, und dem Handy. Drei Tage nach dem Einsargen müsse man ihn anrufen, und wenn er den Anruf nicht entgegennehmen würde, dann könne man den Sarg hinablassen.

Braucht es hier noch ein Schlusswort? Ja klar. Erstens machte die Pferdeführerin den Hund für das Debakel verantwortlich und wollte ihm hernach das Fell über die Ohren ziehen lassen. Zweitens stützt dieser Unfall die These, wonach Segler typischerweise an Land verunfallen und nicht auf dem Wasser.

On a humanitarian mission

In September 2017, our current host country Dominica was badly hit by Maria, one of the worst hurricanes ever. We were still in Portugal at that time and tried to figure out whether our trip into the West Indies was still meaningful. Five month further down the road, we know that it was right to move ahead and especially also great to visit Dominica.

The storm killed the trees and destroyed thousands of private and public houses. Worse, it left thousands of people homeless, insured, or even dead. Who didn’t loose their life often lost everything else, for example also the most basic things as the underwear. There was little money before the storm, and now it’s even less.

Sailors loved Dominica in the past when times were good. So many sailors
somehow feel responsible to be there with help in bad times as well. So do we. In the internet we found lists with what they need most, and so we prepared seven bags full of useful things. But to whome to give it? This was the next thing to find out.

It was Sunday when we first went ashore to get a first impression of the general situation ashore. For our first scouting mission, we left the bags on the boat. We wanted to find
– someone in need of cloth
– three parties in need of basic household things
– a school for all the paper blocks, pens, ball pens, color pens
– a doctor for the medical stuff, mainly 200 syringes and needles

We found the school and a church. We thought that the pastor should know who is in need, but we couldn’t find anyone that time of the day. Next to the church was a big white tent marked UNICEF. We assumed that this was the coordination center for children’s aid. Perfect. As it was Sunday, it was closed as well and we decided to continue our scouting on Monday.

On Monday the tent still had the door rolled down, but some noise came from inside. We found a cleaning lady in there. She explained that the tent was a temporary class room because the school nearby collapsed in the storm. We talked a bit to Simone and learned about her situation. Soon it turned out that we found someone in need of most of our things except the needle stuff. We agreed to deliver some items on the next day.

Simone was 53, actually looking somewhat younger. The youngest one of her ten children had just turned 15. She was also a proud grandma of eight, very friendly, but now homeless on her two acres of land. Simone wore the golden ear rings she wore when the storm hit and told us with a smile that she even can’t buy sugar now. She said everything with a smile. She was particularly interested in clothes and school materials for her kids. So we left her the two sets of summer clothing each of us had taken our of his wardrobe on board. Simone gladly took the household bags as well, including two of the dynamo-lamps we bought in Martinique. She recommended to bring the school bag to the school around the corner.

Entering the empty looking school, at 4.30 p.m. we met a teacher just about to lock an intact school building. She gladly received a big bag of paper blocks, and a lots of pens, color pens, ball pens and some craft materials. She recommended to see the hospital rather than the doctor for the syringes and needles we had in our last bag.

So we walked up the road to the hospital. Why did we have so many syrings on board? They were three boxes of 80 pieces with sizes 2, 5 and 20 Milliliters. Those were the smallest packs we could get at home. There should be a couple of syringes on every boat, and so we had a lot to give away.

This bunch of syringes was actually the last bag we stuffed into the car before leaving our home in Switzerland. It was always clear that we couldn’t use all our medical stuff, but we thought it was better to donate it along the way rather than to keep them in our home. Maria only came later.

At the hospital we found a doctor with a stethoscope around the neck and she was very kindly receiving our last bag. We exchanged some words an when saying good bye, she told us “Please come back!”. We found this a nice way to say to someone that we is welcome, but we preferred not to have reason to see this or another hospital from inside for the rest of our trip.

Just a few steps out of the hospital and on our way back to the jetty, a cute
little girl ran towards our daughter. She laughed all over her face and didn’t want to stop hugging our puzzled girlie. Then she hugged Manuela, me, and finally our boy. Her father nearby explained that his little girl is full of love. What a nice conclusion for our charity mission!

Saint Lucia. Or: Whether not to go home?

After having spent beautiful times in the South of the Lesser Antilles we felt the urge to move a couple of steps North. From Bequia, it was a fairly long day trip to Saint Lucia. We passed the main island of Saint Vincent and sailed all along the coast of Saint Lucia towards its northerly situated Rodney Bay.

That ride took a bumpy start: Just after lifting the anchor in the well protected Admiralty Bay, I set all sails. The sun wasn’t yet up and it was still dark. Leaving the last rocks of Bequia behind, the wind started kicking in. Yuana sailed very fast, but the steering wheel required more and more force for keeping the boat on course. Yuana desperately wanted to turn into the wind. What was wrong?

The wind increased much stronger than expected, 28 knots from the side, 60 to 80 degrees. With all sails all up, we were simply overpowered and far away from a nice balance between wind direction and force versus sail area and trim. So we reefed the first time before the day really started.

Saint Lucia was intended to be a short maintenance and duty free refueling stop on our way to Martinique. We got the boat nicely polished all around and in the cockpit. Then we hired a rigger to check the mast and all relevant parts of the rig. He was very satisfied with the condition of everything, and so were we. The Volvo dealer however had no time for the big engine maintenance. Most workshops are super busy because the yacht charter business moved South after the storm damages in the North. Upon leaving the country we bought 350 liters of duty free fuel at the attractive price of 0.77 Euro per liter.

So, now comes the really important part of this post. During the last weeks I read in the latest master piece of famous sailor Jimmy Cornell. The book carries the title ‘200’000 Miles’ which represents Jimmies vast high sea sailing knowledge, presented in an attractive autobiographical wrapper.

Reading the section about Southern Pacific infected me with the idea to continue our sail towards the Pacific rather then to sail back to Europe. In fact I never liked the idea to sail back into cold Northern European waters, with socks around the feet and gloves around the hands. So this new idea to sail into the Pacific triggered my blueprinting same as when I got infected with the idea of a sailing sabbatical.

By the way, Jimmies most infectious sentence was “We had no pressing reason to bring such a wonderful life to a premature end.” That sentence really made me thinking whether our own trip back to Europe would come to early? Why should we not sail the Pacific?

So we said: „Hey, we are just eight sailing days away from Panama. That means that we are almost at the doorstep to the Pacific, with our own yacht. That is a super huge chance, category ‚once-in-a-lifetime‘! So do something about it!“

We went through very intense weeks of ‚what-if-planning’. I studied the routing recommendations and the wind charts for the Pacific. We studied the administrative needs to cross the Panama channel as well as the selling chances for the boat on ‘the other side’ of the world. We contacted our municipality and school at home. It seemed that there were no killer criteria for an extended trip. There would have been ways to handle everything.

We would have left the Westindies during the first half of February. Our routing schedule was Martinique – Bonaire – Columbia – Panama (channel crossing) – Marquesas – Tahiti – Cook Islands – Fiji – Australia. We would have arrived in Sydney in late October 2018. The idea was to sell the boat there.

Our heads were deep in these questions since Grenada. Saint Lucia just became the place where we would take a decision. We did, and we decided to turn back to Europe as per the original schedule.

The most practical reason why not to go was that we couldn’t answer one key question: How to take responsibility for the family during the loooong leg from Panama to the Marquesas in case of an extended period of unfavorable weather, and one adult being down with a major thickness of injury? That leg is enormously 3’750 nautical miles long, almost 7’000 kilometers. Our standard traveling time would have been 27 days, easily 35 with low winds, perhaps again considerably more in a state of emergency.

That trip is absolutely doable and hundreds of private yachts are doing it every year, amongst them also friends of us from our Atlantic crossing. There were days where we were totally convinced that we should do it. On the next day our internal indicators pointed into the opposite direction. We gave ourselves the time to narrow down on this outstandingly great question. Towards the end we involved family and some friends. Finally we found a solid conclusion which is the right one for us. So, we intend to be back in Switzerland around July, 2018.

That is our season review about Saint Lucia. What about the island itself? We simply don’t know. There were other priorities which took most of our time.

Grenada

Grenada welcomed us with one of the better sailing days when cruising down their open ocean coasts with nice winds and almost no waves. We soon parked Yuana in the Marina of the Hotel Resort http://www.LePhareBleu.com

Le Phare Bleu is a Swiss owned and operated boutique hotel and marina, with all facilities open to the sailors as well. The name relates to the Swedish lighthouse ship which serves as their landmark, as a breakfast and music place, and which also houses some showers for the marina guests. This was our starting place to explore Grenada.

We arranged for a couple of onshore family runs, together with our friends from Mirabella, Kisu or Magellan. The rain forest refused us: loads of mud and flooded trails made it impossible to hike. We decided to give up and turn back after one hour, one kilometer and full of dirt. At least, we found some monkeys and waterfalls accessible by car which gave us an impression how it looks inside the jungle.

Our drivers stopped several time along the narrow and steep roads to show us trees where banana, mango, papaya, coconut, passion fruit, grape fruit, sorrel and other more exotic things grow. We also liked to learn where cloves grow and how cinnamon is produced.

Nutmegs are a chapter for itself, as the edible nut is packed in a triple shell, here described inside-our: Shell number one is very thin and hard and opens with a nut cracker. Shell number two is a fancy looking red netting called ‘mace’. It is the most precious part and used for flavoring of beverages or as a fragrance. The outermost shell finally is a thick cover comparable to a chestnut over in Europe.

The various fruits and spices amazed us and the kids. The kids favorite however was the chocolate factory, and inside the factory particularly the place where the products could be tasted. We bought a 1kg chocolate bar which shall soon give us a nice chocolate fondue. Hope nobody will die from the sugar flash.

Sure we were at the dinghy concert which was given on a raft in our bay. It was like on the street parade in Zurich, just with one stationary love mobile only and much better music. A small crowd of 300 gathered there to hang out on the water with friends, having a couple of drinks and enjoying great local sounds from the stage.

Visiting Grenada unveiled also some aspects where some might need to get used to. We want to write about this because we found it to be a part of their country or culture:
– Staff in a restaurant sometimes seem to be quite hesitating about serving customers. So we just grabbed the menu from the front desk and met the waitress at the bar for placing orders and paying the bill.
– Roads are very small. A safe driver won’t bring you farther than 30 kilometers in one hour. The hundreds of car wrecks rotting along the roads tell sad stories about the unsafe drivers.
– Locals pay no income tax. The state makes its money with import taxes only. The is a 150% surcharge on cars and 50% for the goods bought at the ship chandler where a lady used 5 minutes to bring a hand written invoice up to shape for me. Efficient?
– Many business potentials seem to be wasted without taking the chance to materialize them. Why isn’t the nutmeg place proudly serving cakes and drinks flavored with their products? Perhaps because they are proud that they haven’t changed their factory since the early days 50 years ago.
– The post system is dead slow. Still after three weeks, our new flag didn’t arrive and we had to leave without it. Too bad!

Still, do it as we did and visit this beautiful island! It‘s definitely worth it!