Saturday, May 16, 2015

Surfing "to" USA

We are making our way back to USA, and the wind is just about perfect. Downwind all the way.

We left Dominica to a steady 20 knot breeze for a 240 mile journey to St. Croix (USVI) where I was hoping to make a phone call and take care of a few things back home.

The phone reception was very bad, so we stayed only about 4 hours in St. Croix and decided to make another jump (about 90 more miles) to Salinas, Puerto Rico.
We stayed in Puerto Rico a couple of days, rented a car to go to Costco and re provision some food as our storage was starting to look rather empty. We also took a trip to the top of their highest mountain. We like Puerto Rico.

 The next day we sailed around Puerto Rico to go to Mayaguez to use it as a launch pad for our big journey, we went to town to try and get some souvenirs. There were older men on the beach playing cards. They started talking to us, and were full of advice, not only that, a couple of them got a car and drove us to the "Plaza" were we were able to pick up some souvenirs. On the way back, one of them showed us what he just bought for himself in the neighboring town - a nice carved dish for mashing things. Phyllis loved the dish  - so he sold it to us for the same price ($20) and told us that he would go and get another one for himself. What a gesture. So we got our souvenirs and had delightful talk with the locals. Did I mention that we love Puerto Rico and its people?

Phyllis made a great guacamole in it

We left Puerto Rico that evening as the wind was supposed to be strengthening in the next 3 days around the Dominican Republic, and we wanted to be out of that area within 3 days. To get to the first island in the Bahamas (Mayaguana) is about 500 miles.

We had really nice downwind sail. Galaxy was a speed demon putting around 180 mile days. We could probably do a 200 mile days, but we decided to put 2 reefs in the main sail to slow her down a little bit - because Galaxy was doing 13, 14, and yes we saw even 15.7 knots of speed going down those waves. Those 2 reefs in the main sail were due to us being too scared seeing those high speeds.
From Mayaguana we sailed straight to Georgetown (200 miles?). From Georgetown we sailed straight across the Bahamas to West End in the Abacos where we are now. We will stay one night, check out of the country and hit the Gulf Stream in the morning.
See you in the US of A!

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Friday, May 8, 2015


Dominica is truly hikers paradise. I'm talking about the English speaking Dominica - don’t mistake it for the Spanish Dominican Republic - very different countries. The guide book calls it that Dominica is as close to the Garden of Eden as anyplace on earth. There are hiking trails, mountains, water falls, volcanoes, and rain forests everywhere you look. So we took advantage of it. We hiked and hiked and hiked. Every day. Until we were unable to walk - and then we did it all over again the next day. 
Dominica was beautiful. Definitely worth a visit especially if you love nature. View more pictures from our album.

This post is more of a summary of the trails and places we visited for our future recollection, but hopefully you can see a little bit of beauty in Dominica through these pictures as well.

Dominica really only has one anchorage (Portsmouth in the north) and it is out of the way of all the best waterfalls as many are in the south of Dominica, so we anchored the boat in southern part of Dominica in Roseau on a mooring ball for a week (as there is just no place to anchor) and rented a car for several days as this is probably the best and cheapest way to see all the sites. 
Armed with the “Adventure Guide to Dominica” as well as talking to some neighboring boats we took off.

Roseau - the capital City of Dominica - we walked through the city several times as we like to just get the feel of the vibe and the people and how people live.

Botanical Gardens - nice large well maintained garden with many different trees. There is this monument to Hurricane David – a crushed school bus trapped under a giant baobab tree that was uprooted by the 1979 storm.

Soufrière Bay
We visited an old Catholic church that has stood near the beach since King George III was ruler of England. It has beautiful murals of village life.

In  Soufrière  we also hiked to Sulfur Springs and hot water pools which is one of the most recently active volcanic area in Dominica. Jordan especially liked it since he is so interested in minerals and seeing the volcanic vents up close and personal and feeling the heat from them was a nice experience. So of course we had to divert from the trail and hike all the way up to see the source and feel the vents up close and personal. It was hot and was hard to breathe in there, but very nice.

We also hiked (by mistake) to Tête Morne, where we had a sensational view of Grand Bay on the Atlantic coast.

On the very south tip of Dominica lies Scotts Head - a village and a nice hill on which we climbed. Scotts Head is named after Captain Scott, an English soldier who helped snatch the island from the French in 1761.

Trafalgar Falls - consist of two waterfalls known affectionately by islanders as Father (Papa) and Mother (Mama). The taller "Papa" on the left drops into hot sulfur springs where you can soak - and soak we did! It was a bliss! ! ! We were the only ones in there so we stayed for hours. The Mama fall on the right is cool and refreshing water, so we alternated between the cold stuff and the heavenly warm stuff. 

I'll have to make this post somehow shorter. 
So in short, we visited the following places
- Freshwater Lake and Boeri Lake - Two pristine fresh water lakes situated 2800 feet above sea level. The trail to Boeri Lake is very picturesque.

- Middleham Falls - a rather strenuous hike

- Victoria Falls - definitely worth seeing it. You have to walk, jump rocks and wade through a river to get to those but they are great falls.

- Emerald Pool - this is the easy (10 min walk) where all the Cruise Ship visitors are taken to. Nice to see but make sure that the Cruise Ship is not in port that day.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Finally Not Beating To Windward

We got all of our welding repairs done in Grenada, so we have again functioning wind generator - let's see how long before we break it again. 
Welding new wind generator mast

Welding cracks in our bimini frame

We left Grenada early morning to a steady 20 - 22 knot wind, so we put a reef in the sail and started headed north. 
We had a fantastic sail!!! Not everything went according to the plan - as is always true in sailing but the 200 miles from Grenada to Dominica was fantastic!

Sailing past St. Vincent

We originally decided to make it a 3 day 2 night crossing with "flyby" by St. Lucia where we would arrive in the morning, slow down, take pictures of the Pitons and other very nice island features, and continue another night to Grenada. We heard some negative news both about St. Vincent and St. Lucia - mainly regarding burglaries, people being hassled by locals etc - so we decided to spend more time in Dominica instead. 
It became apparent within the first 2 hours that my plans were out the window. The boat was doing 9 knots constantly with frequent double digit speeds! I have never seen Galaxy be so fast over long period of time. Instead of early morning arrival in St. Lucia, now we were looking as arriving around 9:00pm which would be rather dark to take any pictures. 
Close reaching on Galaxy

I could not make myself to slow down Galaxy. She was screaming through the water! I’m sure we had some strong current that helped us achieve these speeds but our boat was on the rails - just booking it.
So instead we opted to head straight to Dominica which doing almost 10 knots of speed put us early in the morning in Dominica. 

The wind died during the night but we still managed to make it to Dominica by 9:00 am in the morning the following day. Just awesome sailing. I hope we do more of that! 
And to top it off, at day break, as we started approaching Dominica, we had an escort by a bunch of dolphins eager to find out what we are about and show us that they can still out-swim our boat.

We love to come out on the bow to watch the Dolphins - It never gets old!

So we are currently in Dominica and are enjoying the island a lot. We are becoming the hiking family going on every hiking trail imaginable. And Dominica really delivers in this regard - but I’ll make another post about that later. 

For now, just wanted to say that we are safe and sound in Dominica!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hashers - a.k.a. Drinkers with a Running problem

One of the things I was looking forward to doing in  Grenada was participating in a hash, I had seen pictures of another cruising couple Zero to Cruising and they had participated in one and I just couldn't stop thinking about it, so when we arrived in Grenada the first opportunity I had to sign us up I took and so last Saturday we hashed...

I guess I should explain what a hash is, see there are two kinds  of hash, first is this....Hash (hashish) is the resin collected from the flowers of the cannabis plant and the other is this,...every Saturday a group of people, runners, walkers, crawlers etc assemble at a designated place, where they are briefed by their leader called a Hash Master where they are let loose in the bush shouting ON ON. A trail of shredded papers marks a trail through some of the most beautiful land, rich with all manner of fruits, which by the way are off limits, then after a couple of hours(for the crawlers-which I was one)and a measly 30-40 minutes for the runners they all return back to a rum shop, consume large quantities of beer and food and undo all the good the running, walking and crawling has done them, oi vei!  We partook in the second hash,  just for the record!

So, how was it? Why, I am glad you asked...the first thing they did was ask all the hash virgins to come forward, I was a bit skeptical because I have heard they do naughty things to virgin hashers like making you drink beer from smelly shoes so I was not too quick to move forward but lucky for us they chose a scape goat who got to drink beer from her shoe( lucky for her that shoe looked pretty new) and she also got some on herself when the guy handing her the alcohol felt she was too slow drinking it...Then after some instructions they sent us forth, in the beginning there was some confusion, not knowing which direction to go but someone finally got it and off we went. 

I shall spare you the details and just say, good grief! The hash was grueling, OMG! Up the steep inclines I prayed, and groaned,  muttered unintelligent words, was mad at anyone that showed signs of vitality, and had the nerve to pass me, I wondered where Anthony was, he had the camel bag hence I had no water to drink,my mouth was dry, my legs were like jello, my heart was beating out of my chest, my eyes were fuzzy from the sweat I could go on and on.

 Jordan and Mirek galloped like young gazelles, Anthony no where to be seen, probably at the head of the hashers (why oh why couldn't I be frisky like they were) I kept saying things like  "there is no shame in taking the short route, you weren't born on these mountains...they'll understand" lol  but you know what? Am glad I persevered because I met Yums, a girl from England and something about her powered me to keep at it, I also met this skinny tall man, older man, he was shouting to the runners, "stop and smell the roses," my kind of guy ha ha, he helped propel me forward, I don't have to run, I could stop and smell the roses and still complete the hash. And yes, I finally made it to the rum shop where I was met by two cold carib beers...yes, and of course Mirek and the boys who from their relaxed bodies implied they had arrived eons

Wrapping up, this coming Saturday will be another opportunity to hash, I look forward to reporting that the side effects were a sense of wellbeing, relaxation, rapid flow of ideas,and to crown it all an increased appreciation of music and food,happiness and joy...Till then so long...