Haiti - Ile-A-Vache

This may be our first visit to a community that draws water from a well where the residents then collect water from fountains that operate on rotational days. There is no electrical network. The residents are unable to afford generators yet a few are fortunate enough to have a small solar panel. What these people lack in material possessions they make up with friendly smiles and conversation. Fortunately for us many are also fluent in English, in this former French colony of Haiti.



On our arrival we were mobbed and I now understand why. Before we could get the anchor down we were surrounded by guys in dugout canoes, the odd paddle board and few broken small boats. It was a little challenging to anchor and not run over the flotilla of greeters. We herded the boat boys to Auras’ stern and we spoke with each of them and listened to their offerings of hull cleaning, stainless steel polishing, tour to the markets, tour of the island, bananas, coconuts and even diesel. Our issue was that we didn’t have any local currency and the size of our USD notes are not something easily changed on an island without an bank, ATM or conventional type shops.



We arranged a tour with Bernard, he was the first to greet us. He had paddled nearly half a mile in his dugout canoe. I remembered that we still had a few small Euro notes from our time in Guadeloupe and Martinique and we purchased a Haitian courtesy flag from another guy. I gave him €10 and he returned with 100 local (that’s about two dollars). I was pleased he returned and we now had a few local dollars. The harbour master visited, he arrived on a broken fiberglass boat with a strip of steel protruding from the bow. His boat has an outboard but his two assistants were paddling instead. We paid our harbour fee for Aura and Tourterelle and also his fee to facilitate any customs immigration arrangements. He told us about the island and of the new solar pump project for the well, our friends Ken and Jenny had recently assisted on the installation. With the financial formalities complete we enjoyed our new surroundings.

A few local fishermen provided Tourterelle with lobster and thus dinner was organised. We chatted to a few other cruisers, they were heading to Jamaica so we exchanged experiences and phone SIM cards. We hadn’t had the best of sails from Jamaica. On our departure the seas were short and steep with the wind on our nose. Before long, we had 2 to 3 meter swell flinging poor Aura from side to side. This was broken up with the occasional “BANG”, as we smash down to the trough of a wave. It is not often that Simon mentions that he is feeling unwell. For me it is quiet common to have the bucket handy on our first day out. This was definitely bucket sailing. We found it more comfortable to sail even if our path was taking us north instead of east. Once we found 18 degrees north we had protection from the point on the Haitian coast and we motored the following day to Ile-A-Vache. The uncomfortable passage was soon forgotten with the help of a rum or two.



The following day Bernard showed us around. We passed the school, a few churches and found our way to a beautiful gold sand beach on the west coast. A small American hotel occupied the corner fortunately it wasn’t overbearing in size and it fitted well with the local surroundings. The walk took us past mango trees, small banana plantations, tethered goats and sheep. We noticed that the newer houses were made from stone and brick, while the older homes had thatched walls, progress and a change of craft. We past many small children dressed immaculately in school uniforms. On several occasions Bernard would stop and give a child a hug or kiss. Another cousin he would say. He really is a kind hearted nice young guy.


Island Walk


Local Living (note everything is extra neat & tidy)

The previous day Tourterelle (Ian & Ann) had also purchased a flag and they hadn’t received their change. During our walking tour we found the seller and they received €10 change. Not the local or USD that they had expected but the same note that I’d provided. Ann then paid Bernard with the same note. I’m sure if we had stayed longer, it would only be a matter of time before that note went full circle and was returned to me.

We enjoyed a fish dinner at Jon Jon’s restaurant (Calico) on the beach. He opens for bookings made by visiting yachts. It’s BYO and light however we didn’t get that memo. Fortunately we were joined by a few regulars who lit the table with solar desk lamps. These regulars once made the annual cruise from Martinique to the island but with age they have a small house on the hill and visit the island annually. We were also joined by long time cruisers Murry and Clare. As it was Kim’s pre-birthday celebration Tourterelle found a few treasures in the bilge and we enjoyed a few special bottles of wine.

We found many treasures in our bilge for the locals. We had been asked for dive masks, sails, clothes and food. We decided to help out and trade. It was just a matter of principle for the adults as we realised they didn’t want charity but would rather  work or barter. An old dive mask and fins for a few guava, papaya and coconuts. A fisherman was pleased with my swimming googles as he tested them out he found star fish under Aura. In exchange he gave us a few lobsters. I made one guys day by giving him an old mobile phone, other kids we just gave little gifts of shampoo and clothes. A young boy asked if I had any school shoes but the best I could give him was my worn leather Merel shoes. I found fishing hooks that I’d purchased in Panama back in 2008 to gift. The best I could do for the guy asking if we had any old sails was the canvas cover for the dingy.  It had never been used and he looked pleased.

The window to Puerto Rico was still favourable so we continued our way east into the prevailing wind and seas.

Next Kim’s birthday in PR.


Farewell Haiti - On our way to PR

Respect - Cruising the South Coast

The following morning was glorious. We picked up our hook and navigated our way out of the reef and headed to Black River Bay. The Black River is one of the longest rivers in Jamaica. What makes it unique is the large population of crocodiles that live there. We arrived in Black River Bay around lunch time. As it was Saturday, we needed to go to shore to do some provisioning as most places are closed on Sunday. We had struggled to get a good holding in the mud and silt. The wind had picked up and during lunch we had started to drag. We anchored for the third time. We watched our GPS for an hour to ensure we hadn’t moved before heading to town. Black River was bustling with people everywhere going about their business. After visiting the supermarket, we wandered through the fruit and veg market, purchasing fresh, local produce. As we headed back to Aura, it was obvious that she had dragged again. We also noticed that the Marine Police where wanting to visit Tourterelle. We went past and dropped off Ian and Ann while we took care of Aura. We just got the anchor down for the fourth time when they came over to Aura. As always, they are extremely friendly. Once they had left I checked our GPS reading and was pleased that we had not moved…yay…finally!!


Black River

The next day it was time to visit the crocodiles. We had originally considered taking our dingy up the river but as we know the reputation of the Australian crocodiles, thought it prudent to go on a tour. As we made our way up the river, we saw about five crocodiles. A couple of them came close to the boat. They all have names and they come when they are called. They seemed relatively friendly (and well fed by the tour operators) but no one was keen to go for swim. Especially when there are meant to be approximately 400 crocs that live in the river that can grow up to 5-6 meters.




Black River



The low continued to sit off the coast of Columbia resulting in strong winds and big seas across the Caribbean Sea. As we are heading east, we will have the wind and current against us so we want the seas to be calm. Hence we decided to stay at Black River Bay for an extra couple of days hoping that the sea state will decrease. With nothing much else planned, Ann suggested that we take Tourterelle with their retractable keel, to visit the Pelican Bar. We motored the 3nm down to the other end of the bay and where greeted by a small pod of dolphins. We had not seen dolphins since leaving George Town so it was a treat.

We anchored about 200m from the bar. As we cracked open a cold Red Stripe to wait for the anchor to set, the wind started to pick up. This was not on the agenda. We decided to have some snacks and wait for the wind to decrease. In the end we just decided to make a run for it. The bar is located on a sand bank next to a reef with the only way to there is by boat. I don’t think they see many dingys with electric engines. The bar is very rustic and small but interesting enough. We ordered a beer and proceeded to be windblown. We had planned on staying for lunch but had a vision of a nice fish getting blown off our plate and back into the sea. As more punters arrived, we decided to head back to Tourterelle for lunch. Ian made some bread and we had a very nice ploughman’s lunch followed by fresh pineapple.


Floyd's Pelican Island Bar


Our last day at Black River included some last minute provisioning and take-away jerk chicken for lunch. That evening Ian made an exquisite lobster bisque followed by beef stifado. It was an early night as the next day we were finally moving 13nm down the island to Grand Pedro Bay. This will be an overnight stop before doing a big 45nm to Pigeon Island.


Passage to Pedro Bay


Tourterelle arrived first at Pedro Bay and radioed to inform us that there was a lot of swell and was very rolley.  As a result, we decided to continue another 13nm to Alligator Reef. We were not sure what the conditions would be like at Alligator Reef. It is approximately 3 miles off shore and 1 mile wide. In theory it should provide sea protection but you never know. A few strong gusts meant that our anchor was firmly down.  The rain quickly past, leaving our decks nice and clean. I was keen to go for a swim but Si decided that we needed to go exploring. We jumped in the dingy and headed out to the small beach. The reef is a very special place with lots of birds, turtles and sting rays. We were even visited by dolphins.  During the night the wind changed direction so I sat up on anchor watch just to ensure we did not drag onto the reef...not the best night sleep.


Alligator Reef


Early the next morning we set sail for Pigeon Cay. We lifted the anchor as a fishermen past wanting to sell their catch of lobster. Two for $10 dollars, how could we refuse. As we had already left the anchorage, Tourterelle negotiated the transaction. We put the main up in 14 knots of wind. In minutes the wind increased to 25 knots of wind. Aura found her sweet spot and took off. Meanwhile our GPS decided not to work so the wind was howling, the chart plotter was beeping and things were being thrown across the saloon. Not a good start to the morning. We eventually got things under control, reefed the main and genoa and enjoyed the rest of our day.

We eventually arrived at Pelican Cay. Ian and Ann delivered our lobster that we made into a delicious risotto. The following day after catching up on much needed sleep, we caught up on some boat jobs and went to shore to explore the island.


Pigeon Island


Later that evening three motor yachts arrived and anchored close to the shore. The next day after an afternoon of Mexican Train with Ian and Ann, we went to shore to say hello to the motor yacht peeps and the locals enjoying some time out on the beach. It was not long before we were invited back to the yachts and offered some refreshments. There were about twenty people in all, local Jamaicans who frequently visit Pigeon Island on the weekend. We had a great night in which we ended up staying for dinner. An amazing piece of beef that was cooked to perfection accompanied with jacket potatoes, plantain, chicken curry and salad. We were totally spoilt and got to meet some very interesting people who welcomed us with open arms. It was great to meet David (past Commodore) and Kathy (Fair Prospect) and their visiting friends from Latvia (Cameron and partner). They also gave us some good information regarding anchoring off the Royal Jamaican Yacht Club. More strong wind is forecast so need to ensure we had some level of protection.




Kingston is not the prettiest or cleanest of ports but we spent a great week enjoying the yacht clubs facilities including the swimming pool and reasonably priced food and drinks. We caught up on a few boat jobs in the morning and then chilled by the pool in afternoon. We caught up with Gary and Louise on Takamoana who were on their way to Montego Bay. It was a great to catch up and have a few drinks to celebrate Gary’s birthday.



We went on an excursion to Port Royal to visit Fort Charles…the oldest remaining fort in Jamaica. It has an interesting history but much of it has been destroyed by numerous earthquakes and hurricanes. Port Royal was once known as a very wicked place as it was a haven for privateers and all the fun stuff associated with plundering and pillaging.  Now it is just a sleepy and broken looking fishing village. We enjoyed a seafood lunch at Gloria’s, whole fried snapper with pickled vegetables. Not something that I’d normally order and I was not disappointed.





Port Royal (Kingston)


Our time in Jamaica is slowly coming to an end. We have now departed the Kingston port and we shall spend the day in the cays (Lime Cay). Lime Cay is only a few hundred meters long, a beautiful sandy beach. There are a few tourist day trippers enjoying the beach. As we entered the cays we passed a yacht (Bavaria 44 “Wavedancer”) on the reef at Racham Cay. Somebody has had a really bad day :-(


Wavedancer on Racham Cay


We will then check out before sailing to Port Bowden. From there it is a four day windward sail to Puerto Rico. An upwind sail plus into the prevailing swell is something that I am not looking forward to but here is hoping for calm winds and seas. We have loved Jamaica, the food, the landscape and its people. Glad that we visited as very few boats come here. That is the beauty of cruising…you can wander off the beaten track and find something really special. It is time for a swim to the beach.





Respect - Cruising Jamaica's West

We had a perfect sail to the west coast of Jamaica, flat seas with 15-20 knots of breeze from behind.  As we rounded the corner of Bloody Bay, we partly furled our genoa and powered into the bay. The first thing we noticed was clear water…the second was that there was very little surge. This is a perfect place to relax and spend the next few days. Bloody Bay has a long history. It is fabled to be where they captured the pirate Jack Rackham (Calico Jack) in 1720. The bay was later named Bloody Bay as whalers used to anchor here to clean their catch and so much whale blood was spilled that the water turned red. In more recent times it was frequented by “flower children”, looking for that perfect Zen.  Before long it got the reputation as a holiday destination and now the shore is lined with all-inclusive resorts. Not that we minded, we were just happy to find a calm anchorage.


Bloody Bay


Bloody Bay


We spend five relatively peaceful nights at Bloody Bay. We were coming to terms with the music that was a constant until 2am in the morning…regardless of the bay…there is always music (seems very much part of their culture). The locals that worked on day tripper boats and water sports where great. Always going out of their way to say hello and providing a spot for us to tie up our dingy. We would walk the beach each morning saying hello to the local craft shop owners and watch the tourists basking in the sun. One morning during our walk we got invited to visit the newest resort for lunch. The only drawback was that we had to listen to their spiel about buying hotel points. Seemed like a small price to pay for an all you can eat resort buffet lunch. We took Ian and Ann along and enjoyed a very nice lunch with wine. The talk was painless as our hostess was keen to get home to her family. We were even given a small gift of Jamaica products including a bottle of rum, a rum cake, jerk spices and sauces. They also offered a free night accommodation that we kindly declined as did not want to leave Aura on her own.


Long Beach (Negrill)


We said goodbye to Travis, Mary and Mary Helen on Seahorse who headed to the Caymans. We met up with a Kiwi family on a motor yacht called Aqua Lobo who we enjoyed a fun evening with on their boat. We were starting to get low on provisions so decided to head around the corner to Long Bay and anchor closer to Negril Town. Long Bay was pretty cool with small pensions (accommodation) and bars lining the beach. This beach is a lot more laid back and not as upmarket as Bloody Bay.

We wanted to keep moving so we motored 27nm to Bluefields Bay. We are now in a wind shadow which means light breeze right on our nose. It is nice to finally be away from the touristy areas and back to the real Jamaica. Bluefield’s Bay is another protected anchorage with high mountains on one side of the bay. It was once known to be a pirate haven but today it is a small fishing village. We went for a walk and had to be careful to stay off the road as big lorries would come past taking up most of the road.  Simon found a place to fill our gas bottle. He asked around to buy some fresh fish but it must not have been a good day as there was not much on offer. We visited the Bluefields beach and enjoyed a swim. On the way back, the Torquedo died (Ian and Ann’s electric motor) so we had to get back to the boats using one paddle. It was hard going with the wind and current against us but we made it using Ian’s thongs (flip flop) as extra paddles. After that effort, we all agreed that we deserved a drink…maybe more than one. It might have had something to do with me falling in to the water as I was casting off the dingy. I am now the latest winner of the Ken Robertson swimming award :-) 


Bluefields Bay & Beach


We had planned to leave Bluefields Bay the following day but as we really liked the bay we decided to stay longer. Today’s new plan was a dingy trip a mile or so along the coast to another beach for lunch in search of some fresh seafood. As is often the case, the sea gods provided and the seafood literally came to us. I was standing out the back watching a couple of local guys swimming about 200m away. I kept a good eye on then in case they were in trouble as they were out in the middle of nowhere. Before long they started heading towards our boat. I yelled out to Si who was below that we had a couple of swimmers on there was over. He asked me if he needed to put his pants on which I responded, “yes!”. Two guys crawled onto the back of our boat with a line full of small fish, squid and lobster. They had been collecting their catch for 5 hours…not a bad effort. Simon went and collected Ian and Ann and negotiated a price for four lobster (we’d call them crays). The guys kindly killed and cleaned them for us…ready to throw on the BBQ. I quickly whipped up a potato salad, Ian made coleslaw, Simon and Ann went to shore to buy a few cold Red Stripe beers. A perfect lunch! The skies darkened and the heavens opened. As we were not keen to head back to Aura in the rain, we decided to play a few rounds of Mexican Train. It’s still warm, the anchorage is protected, what a perfect Friday afternoon.

Yeah Man - Cruising the North Coast

We made coffee, started the engine and slipped our mooring line. We motored out the channel and re-entered the sea with a little green water over the clean decks. The main was unfurled, we turned to port and we set course, west with a trade wind and following seas.

It wasn’t long until we arrived at our planned destination, Oracabessa. We passed the entrance of an exclusive resort and then entered the harbor. The outer reef was dotted with fishing buoys that we assumed to be lobster pots. Oracabessa is a very small and well protected harbour lined with golden sandy beach and low rise resort style facilities and accommodation. Unfortunately another cruising yacht had taken a central anchoring position and there would be possible complexities to accommodate our three yacht flotilla. The next anchorage Ocho Rios was only a few hours away, this was on my avoid list however we had no alternatives as in a few days we expected an unfavourable weather front.

Ocho Rios was everything that we expected, a cruise ship almost completed blocked the harbour entrance and the anchorage was lined with hotels. We negotiated around the jet-ski hydro lift toy and dropped anchor. It is a well-protected anchorage with a sandy beach. It wasn’t long until the Chukka day tripper catamaran arrived. The music was blearing “Jump, Jump, I said Jump”. What appeared to be an overcrowded party yacht was full of sunburnt, alcohol infused party people who were being led by an energised crew and DJ. They entered the harbour, hovered at the dolphin cage, and blasted the bay with noise then moved on. It was not the prettiest of spots, a tourist haven and not the natural and real Jamaica that we’d experienced to date.


Ocho Rios


All things aside, it was ideal for our Australia Day Celebration, this year we were joined by Tourterelle and Seahorse for the barbie, a few beers and rum cocktails (when in Rome). We even found another Aussie red in the cellar. Just as a side note, its official we are out of wine and I cannot bring myself to pay $20 for a bottle of Yellow Tail (or similar) that could only make a questionable Sangria. Kim has mastered the pav using the boats oven, another success. It was topped with the super tasty bananas (not like the flavourless product from home) and passionfruit that also grabbed your taste buds with turbo flavours. A fun day with friends and this year we didn’t have any new winners of the Ken Robertson Swimming Award.


Australia Day


The next day we started to roll so it was time to move on in search of a more comfortable anchorage. The swell was building and we had 2m – 3m from the east, we didn’t have quite enough breeze to sail so we motored sailed with just our genoa. We had the fishing lines out again however no success, just weed and few pieces of plastic that collected from the sea. We entered Discovery Bay with surfing waves breaking on each side of the reef. This is a large bay that is open to the north and the easterly swell was also entering over the reef. It was going to be one of those nights, only if we had a catamaran….We rocked and rolled until first light; we lifted our anchor and headed back to the comfort of the ocean. At least both ourselves and the sea swell would travel in the same direction. We watched a plume of bauxite dust in the air as we past the ship being loaded at the terminal on the opposite side of the bay. Next stop Montego Bay.



Passage 2 Discovery Bay



Discovery Bay (other side is pretty)


We had sum reservation about stopping at the famous Montego Bay. A State of Emergency was in force for the parish. Gang violence had escalated and we were told that the police did not command the respect from the local community. The military was on the streets and some foreign governments had told their citizens to stay in their hotels. The marina manager had explained to us not to be concerned as the recent shootings were not directed at tourists and with so many police and military visible, it was a good time to visit.

Many artists have sung about Montego Bay and now as we approach I ponder if they ever visited this place. From the water there isn’t any obvious adoring qualities, it’s just a mangrove lined bay if you ignore the airport, two cruise ships and port industrial buildings. The beach fronts on each side of the bay are lined with sand and hotels. Maybe the town itself has the treasure?

The wind was now blowing 22 knots and we looked at the small anchorage near the yacht club. There was one and half mile of open water with the wind racing across and a sheltered 15 knots. The wind is forecast to increase and the Active Capitan reports say the holding is only average. Plus it would be tight squeeze between yachts that had already anchored. We had read about Bogue Bay, it was just on the other side however the charts showed the entrance as 2.1m. Our draft is 2.1 and we have 20cm of favourable tide. We moved around to the entrance and gave it ago. We followed Tourterelle at a snail’s pace. As they say you haven’t been adventurous enough if you haven’t touched (or just being stupid?). We did and scratched our new paint on the bottom of the keel. No damage…it just hurt our pride. With our tail between our legs we aborted and returned to Montego Bay.



 Montego Bay (Mangroves and Fisherman's Shacks)

Montego Bay (Mangroves and Fisherman's Shacks)


We moved across to the other size of the bay, closer to the town and found a sheltered spot near Pier One in 3 meters of water not far from Aqua Lobo (a family of Kiwis on a Cayman registered motor yacht). With no rolling we relaxed and slept well. The next morning we were visited by the local marine police, friendly guys who then directed us to the cruise ship terminal to visit customs. We did so and those customs officials then directed us to the yacht club where they would sent an officer to duplicate and reissue our clearance documents. Once the bureaucracy was complete we returned to Aura then set about exploring the town. The streets were busy with tourists and locals alike. We found the usual tourist curio shops and fresh fruit and vegetable carts on the side of the street. We walked to a larger MegaMart that was a mile out of town where we restocked with a few items. We enjoyed lunch at Pier One. It was quite until 50 Germans from a cruise ship joined us. After lunch the bar’s MC had a few activities and we ended up on the stage. Each couple was introduced; first the Austrian’s then us only to be confused with our accent as also being Austrian. A blind folded couples game with a stick and cup, with the stick needing to find the hole. With only Kim’s voice as guidance we blitzed it with a record 6 second win. Free drinks for us!


Lunch @ Pier One


As the sun set the swell started to roll in with the waves almost breaking. Oh no, not another night of rolling. It was getting so bad that even making dinner was a daunting feat. We lifted our anchor and returned to the yacht club. There was little wind with only a slight swell rolling in…much nicer than across the bay. In the dark on the third attempt our anchor held in 8 meters of water with  over 60 meters of chain out so to avoid another yacht on warp (rope not chain) , as they are likely to swing differently to us). Another sleepless night while we kept on eye on the other yacht. The wind dropped out completely so we spent the night turning in circles on the weight of our anchor chain. This isn’t fun so with daylight we put the dingy away and started lifting our anchor. This process took Kim nearly an hour as the chain was caked with mud and each link needed to be hosed clean. We left Montego Bay as another cruise ship was entering…glad we visited but not one of our favourite spots. We were desperate to find a calm anchorage and clear waters…next stop…Bloody Bay.




Ocho Rios 18 24.657 77 06.4330 – 3m sand

Discovery Bay 18 27.89 77 24.1 – 5m sand

Montego Bay 18 28.126 77 55.641 – 3m sand

Montego Bay 18 27.728 77 56.481 – 8m mud (poor/average holding)


Lets Explore Jamaica

As we approached in pitch black darkness we could see dotted lights on shore, the sound of booming music and the smell of small domestic fires. As we got closer to land the wind changed direction so it was on our nose. The temperature had dropped so we had to pull out the long sleeve t-shirts. . We assume this was the katabatic wind coming down from the mountains. In the ambient light we could make just make out the shadows of the mountain range, such a contrast to the flat Bahamian beaches that we had recently departed.

We had arrived at Port Antonio… it was 4am. We anchored at the East Bay in 6 meters of water close to shore in between friends yachts Seahorse and Tourterelle. The next morning we woke to a quite murmur of traffic and tropical rain. We soon moved to the marina in the nearby West Bay. It’s a Med-Moor setup and we were instructed to dock next to the super yacht. Gee, we look small next to a 43 meter motor yacht. I think this was our first time on a super yacht dock. We dropped the anchor and moved astern to affix our stern warp lines to the dock. Thankfully without a 25 knot cross wind that I so dreaded in Mandraki Harbour, Greece. Fortunately West Bay was like a millpond without a breath of wind.



We hadn’t been in a marina since September at South River Edgewater. We did have a few boat jobs on the list and yet we did plan on enjoying the pool side bar and restaurant plus unlimited Wi-Fi. The local Wi-Fi wasn’t the best but we were happy with the ice cold beer and the reasonable Caribbean prices.




The town of Port Antonio was made famous as a tourist destination by the actor Errol Flynn who took up residency. There are stories that his yacht Zacao had ran aground near the town, he later established a hotel resort and made Bamboo River Rafting a tourist adventure. We really like this town and its friendly vibe. I still can’t shake the reggae and Bob Marley tunes from my head “I don’t like cricket man, oh no, I love it….” Ah that's 10CC but what does it matter. Jamaica is famous for rum, bananas, coffee and grass. Bob Marley must be the most recognised icon along with the winter Olympic bobsled team. We’re still in the land of English colonies and thus the usual famous pirates visited these shores. Let’s explore!

Once we ventured past the security gates, I was surprised. This isn’t the Jamaica that I had envisaged.  It’s a lovely Caribbean town, a little broken yet still clean. The people are friendly but I was expecting a lot more Rastafarian. The vast majority of people go about their day in neatly ironed clothes with the men sporting short sharp haircuts. I thought that I’d blend in with my long hair and just for the record while in town I did have a haircut, a reasonable trim. We explored the fresh produce market that includes an open air section of butcher stalls. There was an abundant array of fresh fruits and vegetables, Jamaica appears to be self-sufficient, such a contrast to the Bahamas where near scuffles would break out at the Georgetown store when fresh produce arrived. The bakery was around the corner along with a small grocery store. We found a locals restaurant upstairs near the market entrance and we enjoyed a jerk chicken and rice plus a local Red Stripe beer. All for only 1,650 Jamaican… that’s about A$18 a very reasonable sum for two. It’s great to be back in the Caribbean.


The Market


Once we’d finished work, that’s our boat job list such as an oil change on the generator and outboard. We considered a few tour options. The original Errol Flynn hotel on the nearby island had closed many years ago. We planned to take the paddle boards and have a look around. Further afield options included a bamboo river raft trip, the Blue Lagoon and to visit the local water falls. Reach Falls caught our attention and we could stop at the Blue Lagoon. The lagoon was made famous with the movie featuring ship wrecked Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins. There was also an option to stop at the beach resort where the movie Cocktail was filmed (Tom Cruise & Brian Brown). Around this globe we have visited a few waterfalls and I must admit that these are brilliant as we could just float down the rapids or chill under the power of the falling water. We especially loved the rabbit hole.  A torrent of water falling into a hole. Trusting our guide we just jumped and popped up in an underground cave. It was very special. We also passed a beef farm with a conservative size home that was once owned Errol Flynn’s. Today his grandson lives and manages the farm.











On the way home we did stop at the Blue Lagoon. It was a little touristy for us with a number of villa apartments surrounding the lagoon plus the raft trip to the island wasn’t so appealing. It is still a natural beauty that we all appreciated.



The Blue Lagoon


Travis and Mary (Seahorse) (also with Mary-Hellen) organised a local Rastafarian by the name of Scario to take us on a tour of the local hills where he picks bush food to sell to tourists. He puffed on his joint as we walked up step hills where he showed us Jamaican apples, bread fruit, plantain, lemon grass, soursop and aloe vera. We explored an abandoned hotel resort that has commanding views of the town and out to sea. He picked a little lemon grass from the roads edge. It was obviously the fence line of a local market farmer. Ah so that’s his secret garden …… “borrowed” produce…… he did show us his own garden that was further up on the hill.



Bush Garden Walk


While in town we also took the opportunity to visit a small coffee plantation. We learnt that most of the coffee beans produced are sold to a Chinese owned factory near Kingston. The farm we visited proudly showed us the traditional mortar and pestle used to separate the husk and the beans. We toured the farm and they pointed out other plants such as pineapples, guava and Jamaican orchids. 


Blue Mountains



The Production Process & Facility



Heading Home & Lunch


We popped over to Navy Island, the location of Errol Flynn’s hotel resort. The buildings are now just ruins and nature is taking over. The main dining area was named the “Errol Flynn Room” may have once featured an indoor rock water fall and we could make out a few fresco paintings. The buildings are way past any restoration, the location and history would make a great beach bar.


Navy Island


Another week of strong wind is forecast so it was time for a change and time to move on. When we first arrived we had quarantine, immigration and customs on-board followed by the coast guard. The local marine police wanted to also say hello but we dodged them with a trip to the showers. Before leaving Port Antonio, we cleared out with customs and immigration at the marina office. They were once again super friendly. On our departure we received a cruising permit, our route to Kingston was recorded and we would make our way via the north coast, the long way round. We are not planning on visiting Kingston, it’s just a formality and in due course we’ll decide our next port and country. While in Jamaica, I expect we’ll be visited by the police and/or coast guard, at each new port. We do need to check in with customs. They will keep watch over us as they want to ensure the safety of their tourists.

Next stop,...Oracabessa.


Note - East Bay anchored 18 10.85 76 26.55 – 6m mud

Bahamas - Waiting for the Weather

We had enjoyed several weeks of perfect weather, we now have the opposite, tropical storms, squalls and torrential rain. We patiently waited for a weather window for our passage to Jamaica. We kept busy reading, we practiced our Spanish, completed last year’s tax returns, played Mexican Train and researched anchorages in Jamaican and Cuba. Not to mention the regular sundowners with Tourterelle and Lady Rebel. The days and nights blended into each other, we watched numerous yachts drag their anchor during the nightly squalls and there was our nightly (sometimes twice) bailing of the water from the dingy. It wasn’t going to sink we just didn’t want the fuel tank to float away.

I also gave Ian moral supported with his foundry project. When they had their anchor and chain re-galvanised, they lost the lead in the anchor and it no longer sets (dig in). Ian collected lead from a car tyre place in Beaufort and he needed to melt it down and pour the molten metal into his anchor. At the abandoned hamburger beach bar we stoked the fire with charcoal and collected scraps of wood. It wasn’t long before the lead melted, the steel bits were scraped off the top and Ian poured it into his anchor. Fortunately without issue and noted to be without PPE.


Beach Foundry


It wasn’t long until the sky grew dark and we had another front come through.



Another Squall


We did manage a few beach walks, we climbed to the top of the Monument and across to the Atlantic side beach.



Stocking Island – Monument Beach



Of course we didn’t go hungry.


Pizza & a Penfolds Red


We’re heading to Jamaica maybe with a stop at Long Island. Looking forward to a change of scenery and explore someplace new.

Christmas in the Bahamas

The lead up to Christmas was filled with glorious sunny days surrounded by turquoise water. Now that the gang had all arrived in Staniel Cay, the days included paddle boarding, swimming, catching up with friends and preparing for the Christmas feast.

Christmas Eve was hosted by Lesley and Derek on Ocean Blue. Spirits were high as we all enjoyed some tradition Christmas fare such as roasted chestnuts, mince pies and egg nog. We headed home at a reasonable hour so that we could be fresh and rested for the main event…Christmas Day.

Christmas Day was perfection, lots of blue sky and not a breath of wind. Ann, Derek and I decided to get an early start and paddle board over to the pigs on the beach to give them some water. They get plenty to eat from visiting boats but no one seems to provide them with any water. They were very excited about the water with the piglets jumping into the water trough. Ann bought along the not so perfect chestnuts from the night before. They were in piggy heaven; they even tried to take the bag that Ann was carrying. It was fortunate that Derek was on hand to take the bag from a rather concerned Ann.


Christmas Day

I paddled back to Aura for a quick shower and to change into my new Christmas dress, courtesy of Mum and Dad Forth. Ian and Ann popped over shortly after to exchange gifts and to enjoy a bottle of Verve champagne. Simon and I opened the remainder of our presents…I got very spoilt as Si had done a bit of shopping whilst he was in Australia. It wasn’t long before we departed for our first stop of our Christmas Day feast. Each course was to be hosted by a different boat with starters being held on Takamoana (Gary and Louise). The starters menu included gravlax, chicken pate and conch salad…all washed down with more bubbles.

The next course was held on Juffa (Caroline and Bill).  As four of the six boats were English, we decided on a traditional Christmas feast; turkey, pork with crackling, chicken, stuffing, red cabbage, bread sauce (something new to me) and all variety of roasted vegetables and gravy. It was awesome as everyone contributed something to the meal.

The final and possibly the most important course; dessert, was held on Aura. I managed to make the perfect pavlova! This was no mean feat considering I am at the mercy of my boat oven that can be rather temperamental. We also had a stollen, mince pies and a Christmas cake. Ports and various liquors were brought out to finish what had been a great day. As the evening progressed, I played DJ and got everyone up and dancing. Si gave us a demonstration of his torch dancing accompanied by ABBA’s Dancing Queen.


Christmas Lunch

As it was Bill’s 60th birthday the day after Boxing Day, we decided that we needed a change of scenery and headed to Rudder Cay so we could be there for Bill’s big day. The sail down was hard going as we might have had a few too many the night before…but it was Christmas. Unfortunately our time sailing in the Exuma Bank had come to an end and we had to venture off shore via Galliot Cut then back in at Rudder Cut the Atlantic Ocean. Our keel means that we are too deep to continue taking the inshore route. Rudder Cay was one of our favourite spots with a cave next to the beach and some great snorkelling spots. Bill’s birthday was an Indian theme so we celebrated his birthday on Juffa with curry in hand. It was another great night of food and fun company.

The plan was to be in George Town for New Year. After Rudder Cay we stopped at another one of our favourite spots; Lee Stocking Island. It has a gorgeous beach and an abandoned research centre that feels like a ghost town as everything was left behind. We walked over to the Atlantic side and along the beach. We found a lot of rubbish had been was ashore. It was most like due to the hurricanes they had experienced earlier in the year.

So to break up the sail to George Town we decided on one last stop…a small anchorage behind Boise Island. It is known for its blow holes and surge. We had a great sundowner of the beach where we were joined by the local hermit crabs and a very friendly curly tail lizard. The hermit crabs were hilarious, trying to steal food and wrestling over a peanut. Unfortunately the wind picked up overnight and so did the swell, so we rocked and rolled all night. First light we picked up the anchor and headed to George Town.



We arrived in Georgetown to another glorious day. We had expected Georgetown to be heaving with yachts but to our surprise, there was plenty of space. We found a lovely anchorage at Monument Beach, right next to our other Aussie friends Vicki and Steve on La Peal Noire. Once we had the anchor down we went to shore to do some provisioning. There was not a lot available but enough to get by for the next few days. We even shouted ourselves a meal onshore, a real treat since the last meal out was three weeks prior. The burgers where good and the beer was cold and the view was incredible…I never get sick of looking at the water.

The weather remained perfect and we enjoyed water aerobics, paddle boarding and sundowners on the beach. New Year’s Eve was spent on Takamoana where we shared a meal and a few drinks with all seven boats. By about 11am we were all starting to fade. Fortunately Ann suggested charades to keep us up until the New Year…fortunately the strategy worked and we all enjoyed watching the fireworks on the deck and a bit of revelry before heading to bed. Another year gone…where has the time gone?



All good things must come to an end and so too has our perfect run of weather. We had to move to an anchorage that offered us some protection from the south west to the north west. It was the tail of the weather that had caused more snow storms on the east coast so something not to be ignored. We went to an anchorage behind Crab Cay. A day earlier than we need to because of our depth, we have very few options and we wanted to ensure we had sufficient swing space. We found a nice spot and made sure we were dug in tight. Fortunately the expected squalls didn’t eventuate and the wind was not too severe.


Morning @ Crab Cay – the calm before the storm


Another front was on its way, this time from the north east so we decided to head back to Monument Beach. We had used two of our three gas bottles so we had to get those refilled. All that done, we settled in and waited for the weather to hit. Must say this one did not disappoint with plenty of wind and rain. I was up most of the night watching a few of the smaller boats drag…not much fun when you have to re-anchor in strong winds in the middle of the night. The weather is to continue for the next couple of days and then fingers crossed, we can continue of journey south.

Next stop, Long Island.

Catching up @ the Exumas

We had a plan for Christmas to catch up with a number of our cruising friends in the Exuma island chain. Some were already there, some close by at Eleuthera while others were still waiting in the US for a weather window to cross the Gulf Stream. We are close, with an overnight passage we would cross before dawn at Fleeming pass into the Exuma chain and then arrive at the maze of coral heads with enough sun so to navigate. In a steady breeze we set sail before sunset, our course was direct to Fleeming pass without any need to tack. The breeze strengthened slightly so it wasn’t long before we reefed the genoa. Our speed was still too fast so it was furled away. In the early hours of the morning we updated our ETA and calculated that we needed to slow down further so we had sunlight to see the coral heads. We then reefed our main to reduce our speed further to a cracking 3.5 knots (almost drifting). Our timing was perfect however we couldn’t control the clouds. With Tourterelle leading the way we sailed our way through several miles of coral heads. The Explorer Charts were accurate, yet we did have a few hard and fast turns to starboard or port. A seabird attempted to perch on our spreader to enjoy his breakfast catch however our motion and trying to hold onto his catch did not make it possible.


We anchored on the outside of Allen Cay and that afternoon we took the dingy to visit an island inhabited by the endangered Exuma Iguanas. The beach was teeming with Iguanas. The following morning Simon went to shore to take some additional shots and only saw one lonely iguana.



In the flat shallow Exuma waters we casually sailed with just our genoa to Norman Cay. It was low tide and we had to watch our depth as we slowly inched our way over the shallow entrance and we finally found a nice deep patch to anchor. It was another glorious day, we took the paddle board to shore and went for a lovely walk on the beach.

We had intended to stay longer however the wind was light and it was just a few miles to Shroud Cay. We’d been there earlier in the year and I thought the mangroves would be perfect to explore on the paddle board. The following day we again took the lazy approach with just our genoa to glide the 5nm to Shroud Cay. On arrival we were caught up with Derek and Lesley (Ocean Blue). We were pleasantly surprised to discover Takamoana (Expats PNG / Queenslanders, Gary & Louise) who were anchored in the distance. They had arrived from the USA and after an overnight passage from Nassau had dropped the hook in the dark away from the main anchorage. Later that day we were joined by Juffa (Bill & Carolyn) who earlier in the year had saved us from a dragging yacht as Bill used his dingy as a big fender.

Later that afternoon we took the paddleboards to the mangroves but it was a struggle with shallow water and an opposing current. Kim had her first fall when her paddle board came to an abrupt holt running aground and she kept going and got her leg stuck in a crab hole. She was none too impressed when I asked her to do it again so I could video it.



That afternoon we all got together for sundowners on the beach. Derek and Leslie brought there BBQ where they cooked up a treat of smoked tuna, chicken and sausages.


< insert sundowner group beach photos>


The weather forecast indicated that Wednesday and Thursday would be “no wind” days so we took advantage to anchor at Hawksbill Cay. Earlier in the year sailing friends Jerome & Kelly (JiYu) had highly recommended this island. We were not disappointed. The sun made the crystal clear water sparkle as we swam off Aura’s stern.



We went in search of the ruins. This time I did enquire if a GPS position was known however this was not the case. Our good friends Ian and Ann did have a map but we didn’t have it with us…..similar to our search for the Blue Holes in the Abaco. Needless to say, we didn’t find them but not to worry as it is all about the walk and the exercise. We eventually found a track that took us over the hill to the calm waters on the Atlantic Ocean. A great view and good fun but we shall never make explorers.


Walk @ Hawksbill Cay



Hawksbill Cay


The rest of the day was more paddle boarding and sundowners with Louise and Gary.

We departed Hawksbill for Staniel Cay in very light wind. We started with just the genoa but it was either start the engine or un-furl the main. We choose the latter and with the wind at 60 degree we gently made our way to Big Majors via the shallow inside route.

We anchored just north of Big Major (aka Piggy beach).

OK, we are here and ready for Christmas :- )

We shall be sharing the day with cruising friends Tourterelle, Lady Rebel, Ocean Blue, Takamoana and Juffa. Christmas day has been organised with a progressing style meal that will see each of the three courses served on a different boat. It is going to be a lot of food and a lot of fun so stay tuned.

Back in the Bahamas (Abaco)

Green Turtle Cay was our closest port of entry and just a few miles away. We sailed in 3 meters of water using just the genoa and anchored behind Lady Rebel and next to Ocean Blue. We deployed the dingy, attached the outboard and I headed into town to clear Customs. It’s a cute, clean and colourfully painted town. It was a short walk to the Customs office however they were closed and re-opening at 1pm. Not to worry, I’ll shoot back in after lunch. On my return, they were closed again and now re-opening at 3pm. I passed the time wondering the deserted streets with full knowledge that I was back in the islands, everything is on island time.

We reacquainted our white bodies with the warm sunshine and took time to catch up with friends on neighbouring yachts. We had heard that Tourterelle had also enjoyed a safe passage, found some new sailing friends, entered via a different cut and they were clearing in on the mainland at Treasure Cay.


Before leaving the States, I thought we’d completed all our maintenance work however this was not the case. Our generator battery died so I was on a mission to find a reasonably priced replacement. Only if I had replaced it in the US, it would have been a $50 buy at Walmart (or similar) not the +$200….oh well next job. On route, our port navigation light stopped working. I knew it was the exposed connectors as Steve and I had made the fix back in the Balearics. Derek kindly gave me a few connectors. I cleaned and cut back the wires and re-crimped. Another job complete. Our autopilot and the depth and speed transducer is now playing up! Gee why now? After a day of fault finding and searching for the autopilot computer (one day I will find it), the culprit was a $25 t-piece connector that was unfortunately hidden out of site but close enough to be splashed with water when removing the deep/speed transducer. I was unable to find a Raymarine technician in the Abaco as this isn’t a common spare part. It was looking like another air freight and import job however Ken just so happened to have one for a future upgrade he is planning. Thanks Ken, it two clicks the job was done. .Oh what now! The water maker isn’t happy……the sensor indicates poor water quality. There is only one way to find out, taste it….yuk that’s not right. Ken (Lady Rebel) kindly tested the water sample that came back with a TDS of 826. In a desert or drought you may drink it but it’s not recommended. Time for new membranes (filters). With a little research I found the original manufacture of the membranes (USA) so we didn’t have to import from France. Let’s park this until they arrive.

To continue our move south we needed to exit back into the Atlantic and then through another cut into the Abaco Sea. In an informal procession our little flotilla set sail and we anchored at Grand Guana Cay. Guess what! We have a beach bar (Grabbers). We explored the small village, technically it could be called a town but other than a few restaurant beach bars and a lumber yard we didn’t see much. Clean and quite with a few retired Americans zipping around in golf carts… very relaxing. The Atlantic Beach bar (Nippers) was worth a look but we didn’t return for the regular Sunday roast pig dinner.

It was time to inflate the new toys, my birthday present paddle board and Kim’s early Christmas present paddle board. Tourterelle had also made similar purchases in the States. Lady Rebel broke out their inflatable kayak. Our inflatable flotilla made it ways to the beach bar for Sunday drinks (we were also joined by Elsie and Lynall (Ruby Tuesday).


New scenery was required so we soon moved a few miles to the northern anchorage of Man-O-War Cay. Kim and I wondered our way to town, a dirt road then a little tarmac for the golf carts. We returned on the Atlantic beach side that was adorned with holiday homes. The beach sand was equal to Noosa and Perth. We had a few rocks to navigate and the only people we passed were a small group of Americans.

After a few days, and another wind change, this time from the south, we moved across the sound to John Cash Point. How could we not anchor at a place with such a name? The point was another strip of uninhabited grand holiday homes. At low tide we found a sandy beach for the dingy and walked 2 miles to the town of Marsh Harbour for a few supplies. This is the largest of the mainland (Abaco) towns, most roads deserted. The town does have one set of traffic lights, maybe they are just needed for Saturday morning’s shopping traffic?

On a still and perfect no wind day, Tourterelle was scheduled to haul out for a sail drive service. I offered to help and that morning on the back of Kim’s paddle board I was taxied to their yacht. Kim is becoming quite competent with her new board. Everything went to plan and I took advantage of short walk to town and topped up the outboard fuel. Tick another job done.


 Uber Kim, shuttle service

Uber Kim, shuttle service

With a strong wind forecast we moved to the other side. It was all about timing the wind change (South to North West). On one of my many trips to town to the freight company that we used to ship the new water-maker membranes I ran into La Perle Noir (Steve & Vicky from Bisvages who I’d first met in USVIs but more recently we had a brief catch-up at the Annapolis Boat Show). They had recently arrived and also planned to move to the “other side” to shelter from the forecast cold front).  Anyway, our timing of the move was out by 30 minutes, the temperature dropped from 28 to 21 degrees as we got hit by the Arctic blast that had brought snow to the southern parts of the US. On a positive, it was easy to set the anchor in the rain and we retired for a quite night at home, swinging safely on the hook.


Artic Blast



The Return of the Su

So back to the water-maker, the manufactures instructions noted how to change the membrane. It sounded so simple, just put it in a bench top vice and pull. Aura doesn’t have a workshop or a bench top vice so my plan was to visit the local marine yard. Steve then told me that a few years ago he had completed the same job and he had a bench and vice on board, as you do when you have a large Lagoon 450 cat. We worked on this simple task for hours and I thought we’d break his bench or the vessel (tube). With great disappointment we gave up and I resolved to visit the boat yard the following day. Steve wasn’t going to give in and did a little more research. The next morning he suggested that I re-connect it to the pump and use the water pressure to blow off the end caps. Perfect and so simple! I had the two endcaps off in no time at all. A little more work was required to get the correct endcap off but with a little brute force we got there. All ready for the new membrane, except it hadn’t arrived…..its now being sent sea freight….. Kim is not happy. Her schedule has us in the Exuma’s for Christmas. After a “not impressed with the service” email to the freight company that included CCing the Ops Manger and a VP (thank you LinkedIn) our membrane promptly arrived in Marsh Harbour the following day.



Prior to our freight arriving we did enjoy a paddle board around the sandy mangroves at Snake Cay. With water production back in check, we sailed south towards Lynards Cay and found Tourterelle anchored close by. The next day we moved to Tom Curry Point and set out on a dingy expedition to find deep pools known as the Blue Holes. We didn’t find them but we still had fun rowing around the mangroves disturbing high speed turtles and the odd Nurse shark. I should have taken a GPS and noted the coordinates.


Tom Curry Point


He following day we went in to Little Harbour with Ian and Ann on Hatch, A natural and extremely well sheltered harbour with a few holiday homes, the iconic Pete’s Pub and Gallery. The resident artist sculptures in bronze. After a walk through the town, we decided to head back to our boats and move to Lynanrds Cay for Friday after work drinks and a little dancing. Tomorrow night we will be sailing to the Exumas, For now, there are a few self-inflicted sore heads..



Little Harbour



Lynards Cay


Warm Weather Here We Come

On a brisk morning Aura quietly motored through the Beaufort channel, passing keen fishermen standing waste high in chilled water as the sun rose on the horizon. The air was still as we motored offshore. Tourterelle and Glyde were close by and we were soon joined by another yacht. Everybody’s intentions were clear. All four yachts were on the same course to warm weather and sunshine – Back to the Bahamas.

It wasn’t long until the forecast wind come in, we motor sailed and soon we gained speed and were able to turn the engine off. We had calm seas with an AWA (apparent wind angle) of 60 degrees, our sweet spot. It wasn’t long until we were well ahead of the other yachts. The sun was shining yet we had multiple layers of clothing to keep warm. I think the last time I wore gloves was March last year when boarding in Japan.


fishing boat beaufort nc.jpg


We had coordinates (WPT (way points)) to enter and exit the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream is a strong current that runs from the warm waters of the Caribbean/Mexico Gulf along the USA/Canadian coast, crossing the Atlantic towards the UK. This current may be a narrow few miles or more than 100 miles wide. If the wind is against the current the seas may stand tall and be mountainous. With Kim’s careful planning and a third party consultation we had a perfect weather window and a short crossing.  That evening before our night shift started, we spoke with the other yachts and settled in for the evening. I was keen to put out the fishing lines as fish are plentiful in these warm currents however it wasn’t conducive on this cold and black night.

That evening the wind shifted more to our nose, so to maintain speed I altered our course missing our entry WPT by 10nm. Our exit was away from the rum line (direct course to Bahamas) yet it was thought to be the fastest. We had a small wind shift and with our new heading we would also miss the exit by a few miles. Not that this would matter, we were soon on a direct course warm weather.

The following day after crossing the Gulf Stream, we were unable to contact the other yachts. Our speed and amended course were the likely factors. As the sun rose and throughout the day we started sheading layers of clothing. I think the warm currents had an influential factor. We continued to sail at a good speed.

On day three, the winds dissipated and we were back to motor sailing. By this time we had discarded our socks and returned to t-shirts. We even had showers on the stern, the first in several months. We could almost smell the Bahaman air. The typical passage routines of sleep, eat, read, watch a movie/tv series continued.  That night our perfect wind and sea window was a thing of the past. We had 3 meter seas on our beam (side) as we slammed and rolled our way towards the Bahamas. We continued to reach out to our friends on the radio however we had no reply. Our AIS showed a few passing ships in the distance, there was very little traffic. I remind Kim that we were back in the Bermuda Triangle but there was nothing odd happening with our navigation it was just an uncomfortable ride.

On day four, we closed in on land. We couldn’t see it but we knew it was there. These islands are only a few meters above sea level so it wasn’t until we were a few miles away the sky cleared and we could make out some golden sand and rocks in the distance. Over the radio we heard a familiar voice, it was Derek from Ocean Blue. A few weeks earlier we had both departed Norfolk together however they had set a direct course Abaco. We called them to say hello, told them our current position and arranged to catch up the following day. We could then hear Tourterelle speaking with Derek, they were not far away, just a little further east than our course.

We crossed the passage at Nunjack Chanel with reefed sails into the vivid turquoise protected waters. Coconut Tree Bay (off Rat Cay) looked like a well-protected place to drop the anchor, celebrate with a glass of wine, a swim and much needed sleep.


< we have a technical issue with our Cannon camera thus the limited images >


Who turned down the temperature?

The day after Simon left for the airport, the weather changed. It went to a balmy 25c to a maximum of 12c and did not vary from that temperature. It just went from being dry and windy to wet and windy and back again. So while Simon was sunning himself in beautiful Noosa, I was experiencing my first teeth chattering weather for close to two years. Fortunately we did have reverse cycle air conditioner and Tourterelle kindly lent me a little portable heater that warmed up the saloon in no time.

Apart from the cold, the OCC dock in Norfolk was a lively and social in which to spend the next 10 days on my own. There were a number of other OCC boats also tied at the dock so my time was consumed by sundowners, dinners and a couple of nights of Mexican Train. I even watched my first rugby game for the year at the local Irish Pub with Ken and Jen from Lady Rebel. Fortunately Australia won against Wales.



Elizabeth River is a wealth of activity with always something happening from war ships, to tall ships to barges making their way up the river.


My job while Si was away was to start provisioning for our trip to the Bahamas and Cuba. Provisioning in the Caribbean is often challenging as the offerings are minimal and expensive. Si enquired about a tub of ice cream, it was priced at $40. In the land of plenty, this is a huge different from the $1.80 a tub that you can buy at the local supermarket. Our local Norfolk OCC Port Officers, Greta (who assists Gary) kindly took Ann and I shopping. I don’t think she realised how low on provisions we were. After a visit to Costco and Walmart, the car was filled to the brim. Once back on-board, finding a home for everything is always a challenge but managed to find space in the end.


Apart from running around trying to get the bow thruster anode (zinc) replaced and a number of different “to do” items that Simon left me. He also set me a goal to take pictures of some of the local mermaids that reside in Norfolk at various locations around the city. 



Before I knew it, Si was back bearing plenty of gifts from Oz…picnics, corn relish, herbs and spices, rye flour. Yes I know that sounds strange but spices are crazy expensive and rye flour impossible to find. My sour dough starter would not be happy without it. Once he was home things all got a bit crazy. There looked to be a weather window for us to get around Cape Hatteras and into Beaufort (NC). As it was getting late in the season, the weather windows were getting less frequent and the winter weather pattern had started to set in. This meant that if an opportunity presented itself, we had to take it.

The trip to Beaufort is approx. 240nm or a bit under 2 days of sailing. Upon Simon’s return, we spent the morning preparing passage food, packing up the boat, organising lines for an easy get away and farewells to our wonderful host Gary and Greta and the other OCC boats. We left shortly after lunch to refuel before heading off. I had about 4 layers of cloths on (pretty much everything I own) in an attempt not to freeze to death.

The passage around Cape Hatteras was uneventful as we had nice wind and following seas. It only got a bit yuck when we came around Cape Lookout and had to head straight into the wind with the waves hitting our beam. After being nearly toppled out of bed, I convinced Simon that it might be a bit more comfortable to bring in the genoa and turn on the engine. After a bit of grumbling, Simon agreed and we waited for sunrise so to slowly make it through the inlet to Beaufort. As our anchorage is through a swing bridge that did not open until 8.30am, we dropped the hook and caught upon some much needed sleep.

That afternoon, we had a visit from the local OCC Port Officer, Dianne. She came bearing gifts as we had to divert a number of packages to her place due to leaving Norfolk in a hurry. We had a great evening with Dianne, Ian and Ann. We also soon discovered that Dianne was also our local social organiser.




The following night we were invited to a ribs night at her local yacht club. It was great to meet some of the locals. That night there was some wind forecast so after getting back to Aura, we let out some additional anchor chain and settled in for the night. I woke up around 1.30pm to the howling of the wind. Everything appeared well so I headed back to bed. About an hour later the wind seemed to be increasing so I was on constant watch.  I heard a noise and stuck my head out the window only to see Tourterelle very close to us as they drifted by. I jumped out of bed and managed to throw on some clothes. Si didn’t bother with clothes as we both headed to the deck where we started yelling at Tourterelle in an attempt to wake them up. They narrowly missed hitting Aura by centre meters, they just drifted past and fortunately they didn’t foul or cause our anchor to drag.

We were successful in waking them and before long Ian and Ann were both on deck. They were only about 10 meters behind us and had drifted aground in the mud. They tried several times to pull their anchor up and launch Tourterelle out of the mud but the anchor windlass kept tripping (overload). Si helped them lay a kedge anchor in deeper water (that’s a second anchor) and they were able to pull themselves out of the mud and re-anchor.  This was all taking place as 35 knot gusts blew through the anchorage. Not something that you want to repeat again any time soon. Fortunately, no damage was done as their yacht is designed with a retracting keel (dagger board) and to sit on the bottom at low tide. I was not able to sleep so continued to keep a look out until the sun came up and the wind slowly decreased.

That day we went to the local historical society thanksgiving lunch at the historical town centre. All the volunteers were dressed in period costume. We started with clam chowder soup following by a turkey and ham dinner accompanied by colour greens, green beans, broad beans, mashed potato and stuffing. The culinary highlight was the cranberry sauce. This was followed by pumpkin pie and washed down with sweet tea (pronounced as “sweeteee) (we might have bought some wine that also helped with the lubrication). After the previous night, we all felt that we had lots to be thankful for.


Historical Society Thanksgiving


I finished off the day with a little retail therapy before heading back to Aura for a very early night. Thankfully the wind had totally abated.

The following day, Diana kindly collected Simon, Ann and myself for a small provisioning excursion. We had all told her that we didn’t need much...yeah right. After a trip to Walmart and Lidle there was not room for another shopping bag. We are now well and truly provisioned and ready for the Bahamas.




Si completed the scheduled servicing, replacing the fuel filters, an oil change on the engine and he re-commissioned the water maker (As we are back in clean ocean water). We are now just waiting on the right weather window and we hope to be on our way. I can’t wait for that first swim!!


Thanksgiving @ Atlantic Beach


Down the Chesapeake

We farewelled Annapolis, as we recommenced our passage down the Chesapeake towards the Atlantic. We left on a cool morning and by mid-afternoon, arrived at the village of Solomon Island. Like  so many of the towns along the Chesapeake,  there are more boats than people. Every inlet, river and creek has a marina lining the shore. 

We anchored in yet another creek next to Tourterelle, they had arrived a short time earlier.  There was no need to launch our dingy as Tourterelle already had theirs in the water. They had issues with their electric outboard and were paddling. We decided to explore the town, so we used our outboard on their dingy to make our way to shore. The town centre was difficult to find. The place was a sprawl of marinas with a boardwalk noting historic events such as captured ships from WW2, with a plaque noting they had been anchored offshore or sunk. Claim to fame or maybe just something for the tourists to look at. There was an ice cream shop, a café and grill, sea side village with a boardwalk without a beach. Unexpectedly we found the Solomon Winery on a nearby dock. It was open for tastings, a friendly environment with a range of non-vintage and flavoured wines; let’s call it a tourist attraction rather than a serious winery. Kim and Ann enjoyed the tasting and the chat with the host. We returned to the dingy and made our way further up the creek and docked at the Holiday Inn. We learnt that a micro-brewery was nearby so we had a mission. At least the brewery was true to the craft. We  met the owner Carlos, an Argentinian with a passion for beer, who after many years of engineering in the states decided to start a brewery. If you are in the area, I can recommend the IPA and the duck pizza






The next day we moved on towards Deltaville where we planned to haul out. Tourterelle was on a mission to find a “close nit” community on a nearby island (I understand everybody is related). We motored our way down the Chesapeake. Late  that afternoon we found the Little Bay anchorage at the entrance of Antipoison Creek. That evening we were treated to a magnificent sunset and sunrise the following morning.


Little Bay (await comment from Nic)


Little Bay


The timing to enter the Deltaville yard was critical as we needed to enter at high tide. We crawled through the channel and found the thick mud. Fortunately a local yelled advice as to the direction for better depth and we made our way to the service dock. We had concerns with size of the travel lift, we had forwarded the lift plan with measurements and supporting notes. The following morning we met with the owner who explained that they lift yachts larger than us and talked us through the process. We felt comfortable enough to go ahead however my measurements told me the distance between the slings on their lift just wasn’t big enough for us. They carefully and professionally moved Aura by hand into the lift. A sling was caught on our keel and they dropped it so to drag it forward of the bow and then repositioned it. They then attempted to adjust the aft sling but it needed to move forward several meters, we’re just too big. We both felt relieved when the owner aborted the lift. We then had the same tidal window to make it out of the creek and back to deeper water. We did so at haste. Let’s go find Larus and Tourterelle, its time for a drink!


Deltaville Yacht Centre


We moved to the southern side of Deltaville, anchoring at Jackson Creek in front of the Fish Bay Yacht Club. We met a few friendly locals at the FBYC who were keen for a chat. They have a traditional and well maintained sailing club. Larus was at the nearby boat yard, they had been home to the UK and returned to finish maintenance work. We also met Bob and Anne on Baloo, another OCC yacht. We celebrated Ian’s birthday with a BBQ on Tourterelle and the bays OCC members (all of the above friends).

  Anchored at Fishing Bay Yacht Club (Deltaville)

Anchored at Fishing Bay Yacht Club (Deltaville)

We created a new plan, haul out in Portsmouth its only 35nm away. There is a yard that caters for super yachts, so there is no doubt they can handle Aura. With a cold northerly wind we set sail for Portsmouth and again, passed another interesting lighthouse.



We hadn’t realised that the Portsmouth / Norfolk area was the home of the US Navy’s Atlantic Fleet and maintenance ship yards. The river entrance was lined with aircraft carriers and other scary warships. We entered the river being watched by a small navy vessel with navy helicopters buzzing overhead every 20 minutes. We made our way upstream with Ocean Blue in pursuit; we hadn’t seen them since Steve’s birthday in Johannesburg. We chatted on the radio and just after dusk we anchored at Hospital Point. We rose early the next morning and made our way to the travel lift. In perfect conditions we hauled Aura out of the water, the hull was pressure cleaned and she was blocked and on stands by lunch time. The yard started rubbing back the hull in preparation for painting. The yard didn’t allow people to stay on-board. Tourterelle and Ocean Blue had kindly offered us a bunk. We all enjoyed a scrumptious dinner on Ocean Blue and we caught up on each other’s travels and time away. The next morning we were invited by an OCC Port Capitan (Gary) to berth on a dock in Norfolk just opposite our current anchorage. We first assisted Ocean Blue with docking then Tourterelle. It was time to explore a new city. The dock was at the front of Gary & Greta’s condo with at least 7 berths available for OCC members. The immediate neighbourhood has cobble stone streets with heritage homes that date back to settlement. 


Norfolk @ dawn





Aura safely returned to the water and we could return home after the extended and kind stay on Tourterelle. It was just in time as we'd organized the big five O celebration. Several of our cruising friends had battled in less than favorable conditions to join us in Norfolk for the 2nd November. With a little Google research we found a liquor store that offered a suitable range of Aussie reds and Kiwi Sav. Blancs. We gathered on Aura with warm sunshine for a fun afternoon, that merged into the evening. With amazement we avoided any new swimming awards.





A day later we were alerted to the escape of party balloons. These balloons had found the top of a neighboring yachts mast. The owner was less than impressed. I was booked to visit my parents and with an hour before heading to the airport I was in U.S Australian relations damage control. See photo below. A big thanks to Ian for his work on the winch.


Home & Another Road Trip

With a little apprehension we crossed back into the US as we had been in and out of the country several times in the last few weeks. No issues and the drive home to Aura was over and so was our holiday away. We had a few more days catching up with Rob & Cathy. The largest USA boat show was happening in Annapolis. A few of our Barbados 50 friends (Kerpa, Tourterelle, Lady Rebel, White Ibis) and a few others from our travels (Perigee, La Perle Noire) were all there for the event. We had a lovely surprise when we ran into Earl and Joan (Wanderer). Earl and Joan date back to Turkey and our first day out on Aura….not the best of days……anyway it was great to see them. We even had a catch up with Jimmy Cornell, the man who wrote the book that Kim frequently uses to consider our ocean passages and the man behind the Barbados 50 event.






The week of partying continued with a party at Peter & Patty’s (Serendipitous) Annapolis home with a cast of fellow OCC members. Kim attempted to make a pavlova but the humidity meant that the nice crusty bit didn’t form…it was still well received and very yummy.

We extended our break to explore Washington DC for a couple of days. We stayed with Brian and Danni (Chinook). OCC members who we had briefly met at Hadley Harbour. They gave us an extremely warm welcome and spoiled Kim with pink champagne. We explored the tourist sites during the day and enjoyed their company with great food and wine in the evenings.















Then it was back to work….as we had Aura in a marina it was time to utilise the endless supply of water and the convenience of the dock. Our batteries that we purchased in Turkey had failed…..they were only 1.5 year old …we concluded they were dual start/house not the ideal product for house batteries. The same physical size wasn’t available in the US so we ended up with golf cart size batteries, giving us a small increase in the capacity of the bank (now 600amp hour). We also had a road trip to collect our re-galvanised anchor and chain. Tourterelle had kindly taken our chain with theirs so it was our job to do the collection and road trip to Baltimore.



Somewhere in the week we also caught up with Keith and Emily. Keith is the US Beneteau broker and we had met Emily during the AC in Bermuda. An indulgent and memorable night, thank you!



We’re now back on anchor, the weather is cooling and we contemplating our return to the Caribbean. We had planned on heading to the BVIs with the Salty Dawgs but due to the hurricanes we had been thinking of returning to the Windward Island….maybe we should return to the Bahamas and make our way to Central America…..Aura hasn’t sold so we are still sailing……the time away has provided a little rejuvenation



Holiday Away

We’d planned a break from our nomadic ocean life to catch up with friends further afield. The plan was Johannesburg then Chicago then Toronto, a cottage at Halls Lake and then Niagara Falls before returning to Aura. We did post some pictures of our travels on FB, this is the blog account with a few more photos.

Aura was tied up at Pier 7 Marina and our Aussie yacht broker Keith kindly took me to the airport. The drive from Annapolis to the Washing DC airport (Dulles) is one and half hours on the freeway and if I was to take public transport that would have been 3 buses and a train…..in the States a car is a necessity.

It was an easy flight to Johannesburg; my first stop was to catch up with Rob and Nora. Since our last visit they had moved to a secure golf course estate. It was great to catch up, I don’t want to think how many years had passed but it was easy, fun and just like old times.

Kim had to rush home to Australia after her dad got sick and later passed away. She was soon on her way to JNB albeit via Singapore on a longer flight so she could spend a little extra time in Australia. She did get a chance to catch up with Paulie and Becfor a quick celebratory birthday lunch for Bec in Canberra before her flight.

I was able to join in the start of Steve’s birthday, “somethings to try before you die”. Yep as is fitting, lets brush up on our firearm skills and shoot a few guns. The catch up commenced, Milly and Will (Steve’s kids, well they are now adults…..time does get away), Dave from Brisbane and Bernice, Sean and Connor from Perth Plus many of Steve’s friends from SA, UK and Australia. Bang bang bang with a pump action shot gun …..Let the weekend begin! And just to name a few Glock, AK47 and the R5 Carbines.


Kim arrived early Saturday morning and we toured the grounds of the golf course estate, of course this was in golf cart. It wasn’t long before we found the 19th and with the time zone differences it was declared “its 5óclock somewhere”. As we do, a special restaurant was selected for lunch. We shared some fantastic Italian fare and SA wines. After a short nap we headed to our next engagement,  a birthday braaie. We had such a great time and we soon realised how much we missed our “Perth” friends Khatiza and Steve.


Early the next morning, I wasn’t feeling the best. What I initially thought was over indulgence actually took me several weeks to recover. We were soon Ubering our way to Black Head, well Zwartkop sounds better. On route, there was a water stop and an emergency vomi stop on the way. On our arrival, there was a helicopter and Milly bailed out. We watched the take off with the open van door that  filled the van with dust and grass….. Will that effect my Uber rating? While Steve is taking the scienic view of the track, Kim and I took the photo opportunity with his Ferrari 488. Ok let’s hit this, I jump in Steve’s GT3 with Will at the helm. We are hunting! Now last time I had seen Will he wasn’t old enough to have L plates. He is fanging this car around the tight track with just enough grip n slide to realise that know one is truly alive. He knows the car, the track and fortunately he has had a few lessons and many race track hours. I think Porsche needs to consider upgrading the seat belts as I’m lurched forward when Will hit the breaks to make each hard corner. Ok enough, time for me to purge………yesterday was fun but nothing like a catch up with one of the Barbados 50 yachts……what did I eat? While I took time to drink more water and loose it again, Kim was flying around the track in another Porsche. What model was that? Kim was then shooting around the track with Steve and his Ferrari. Next , Kim was the aerial view in the chopper. At least one of us is having fun. Oh and our Uber driver also had a great day, he had a few laps in the fleet of cars plus he took my spot for the helicopter ride……he will be talking about this Uber day for many years to come.




That evening we celebrated Steve’s birthday with the same race car theme. We had a wonderful time with Steve, Khatiza and their friends. It was great to see Di & Dave. We hadn’t seen them since a random encounter at our local Rosalie cinema. We had a surprise visit from Derek and Leanne(Ocean Blue) who so happened to be in the neighbourhood. We’d only just said bye to them in Rhode Island…..small world, he was close by visiting this Johannesburg office. Khatiza and Steve kindly invited them to join the celebrations.


There was a final farewell lunch and we were back at the airport……(Now if you sail and if haven’t heard the story next time you see Kim ask her about the Maltese Falcon).

Next stop Chicago with a stopover in Heathrow. I really didn’t need to reset my body clock as I’d only been in SA for 4 days. Kim needed a hard reset but she slept and she was perky when Rohan collected us at the airport. Sal & Rohan are friends from Brisbane; we first met in 2008 at the end of our last sailing adventure. Subsequently Kim worked with Sal, we’d go 4WD beach camping and boarding/skiing in Japan. Now these guys with little Maggie and V are living in the States. We settled in for some home-style family time and then explored the local neighbourhood including the mandatory brewery and gym. It was great to do a work out, something I hadn’t done since the marina in Barcelona. We felt at home, with such comfortable hospitality plus a chance to catch up. As every trip needs a high light, we headed into the city for our first base ball game. Beer and really bad hotdogs and nachos with a chemical type cheese…..ah it was about the game and we soon realised it was actually a social event for people to catch up that just so happens to have a  game happening in the background plus  great crowd watching…..similar to a game of cricket. A post game bar was in order. A few locals gave Sal and I a few shots at the “pong” beer cup game. It was a perfect setting for the one man band in the back ground. That day we ticked a few other boxes with a tapas meal followed by live blues music…….now that was a big day.







We were soon on our way back to the airport, next stop Toronto. We were greeted by Rob & Cathy with a sign. It was going to be an all Canadian trip, starting with a steak dinner at Keggs that was accompanied with a Canadian red. The next day we took in the local sights, Rob gave us the hop on and not get off tour of Toronto. The place has a great feel. We soon headed north and we had a lovely dinner with their close friends. And after another hour or so driving we arrived at the cottage. Picture perfect, just like in the movies with the cottage on the lake. It was time to relax, chill and even a sleep in. Of course a game of Mexican Train was in order, there was a spot of gardening, a hill top hike and a trip to the local dump…..yeah well that’s where you find the bears. Kim was dying to see a bear and when she did, it was immediately time to return to the safety of the pickup truck :- )





Road trip! We’re off to the famous tourist town of Niagara Falls. The pictures say it all.


Next up, back to the USA


Chesapeake Intro

The Chesapeake waters are a lovely coffee colour and surprisingly warm, well that’s warmer than Long Island Sound. After making our way through the Chesapeake/Delaware canal. We headed for the Sassafras River where we were greeted with a plethora of crab pots. It was decided to dodge these under sail as any errors wouldn’t be exacerbated with a line around the propeller. We anchored with Tourterelle at Lilly Pad Beach and enjoyed our new tranquil surroundings. We were well protected from the forecast wind, that didn’t eventuate. We weathered the rain with aMexican Train day and enjoyed a farewell drink with Ian and Ann. They’re heading to Europe to see their family and they needed to get Tourterelle to a marina south of Annapolis.

After a sad farewell (we have been sailing together on and off once for 5 months) we went in search of water and provisions. This took Aura a little further upstream to Georgetown. We found a great restaurant "The Granary" and worked off lunch by walking a few miles to the next town that had a supermarket. Georgetown is a good size but is wall to wall or dock to dock marinas.  In the US it’s just expected everybody has car (or an oversized ute / pickup truck). After an easy walk passing several farms and corn fields, we found a small grocery store that sold a few basics including some fruit and veg. We were good for another week.


Sassafras River


Walk to the supermarket

It was time for a change so we motored our way back down the river to the Chesapeake and towards the Corsica River. More wind and rain was forecast so another protected anchorage was selected. The wind was fickle so it was a day of motoring…..another pleasant anchorage and even more remote. It’s surprising how sparse the population is spread around these water ways.  The rain poured down but no wind. We passed the time with cooking and baking fruit buns. Once the weather improved it was time check out Annapolis.



Corsica River

We made our way to Annapolis on the Monday of what had been a very wet long weekend. Fortunately the sun was finally out and so was every motor boat, yacht and dingy making the most of the labour day long weekend.  We dodged the traffic out of the river and crossed the Chesapeake. Our timing for anchoring in Back Creek was less than perfect. The creek is lined with marinas and the first anchoring area is about 90 meters wide in soft mud. Lady Rebel had passed us somewhere along the way and made it to Annapolis before us. They had anchored in a prime position and advised two other yachts had just arrived taking up the valuable space, let’s call it the channel. We dropped the hook with a steam of yachts making their way home dodging around us. We found it a little stressful but the locals must be accustom to the challenge of anchored yachts anchored in their path. “All Good” we eventual got a good hold and it was time for catch-up sundowners with Ken & Jen.




Annapolis Walk

Technically we anchored in Eastport, sometime way back this was separated as a town from Annapolis but in reality its all the same place. We took Helios to the Fourth Street dingy dock (choice also with Fifth Street dingy dock), crossed the bridge (Spa Creek) and wondered around Annapolis. It’s famous for the Maritime Naval Academy and the State House (parliament). Their State House was established in 1783 and it is the oldest that is still in legislative use. It’s also famous as its where George Washington resignation of his commission and also where the treaty of Paris took place for the revolutionary war (1784). Annapolis has lovely architecture with different coloured plaques to signify the buildings age.

Kim was taking an opportunity to pop down to Florida and catch up with Monique however hurricane Irma put a stop to that. Monique evacuated and took the kids to New England. We had concern that Irma may run up the east coast but that didn’t eventuate. We watched the news and Facebook reports of the destruction that took place in the beautiful Caribbean islands that we had only recently enjoyed. Very sad for the loss of life and damage to so many people’s homes in what are very poor countries.

As the Annapolis boat show nears, the anchorage filled up. La Mischief arrived, they are also have travel plans departing for California and Australia. Naturally a sundowner catch up was required.

We received bad news about Kim’s dad being very sick and she rushed home. Unfortunately he passed away before she got home. Kim is now there supporting her mum and making helping with the funeral arrangements. She’s written the eulogy that is a celebration of his life. Our lives are short. We should all make the most and live them to the fullest. We are trying our best.

Aura is now at a marina in South River, we’re soon heading to Johannesburg to celebrate Steve’s 60th and then back to the States to catch up with other friends.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the one you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sales. Explore. Dream. Discover” – Mark Twain