What has happened in the past 2,5 years? Where have we sailed those 14.000 NM (roughly 26.000 km)? Not having sailed half way round the globe but instead just ventured through the Eastern Caribbean, the North Atlantic, the North Sea, a bit of Baltic and back again, closing the circuit at Grenada.
We, that is captain Ska and myself and various crew along the way, at times up to a total of 4 humans and one cat, at other times just Ska and myself. We encountered Mother Nature in a multitude of different ways, islands, sealife, bird life, influenced by Neptune with flat seas to high, steep waves and Rasmus blowing a steady calm breeze or coughing up some violent gusts. On a few occasions, some crew members could not keep their food down – alas, it was not always the cooks’ fault!
There was no real planning behind the route at first. I had to find my feet and the Caribbean was great with islands a day’s sail apart. I ventured a little up and down and decided I would give it a try and visit Germany, leaving Antigua with a whole flotilla of boats crossing at the same time. The weather was not always favourable and we arrived late July in North Germany, at a time one would have to leave again to make it through the North Sea and Biscaye in comfortable weather. So it was decided that we stay a northern winter on Sylt, the ‘Ocean Maiden’ laid up in the Kiel-Canal. It was the first time for me since 1994 to spend more than 3 weeks a year there. The following spring we ventured into the Western Baltic, into the North Sea and eventually down the channel, the Biscaye and along the Western European mainland. Leaving the coast, we stopped at Porto Santo, the Canaries and when it was good to go to the Cape Verdes and finally crossing over back to the Caribbean again….like so many others we met along the way. The past 4 months was spent on familiar grounds again, sailing up and down the islands between Grenada and Barbuda, meeting friends and lots of acquaintances here and there, revisiting favorite places and discovering a few new ones.
Below, you find an excerpt of my logbook – I might write a little more about the one or other episode. Let me know if something interests you more. But be warned – it’s a boring list of items…..just writing it makes me long to stay in one place for much loooooonger…..it feels like collecting stamps in my passport… or courtesy flags…or just sand and shells…..
2013 08 27 – 10 10 Trinidad: Chaguaramas & Scotland Bay, Tobago: Pigeon Point – Mt. Irvine – Charlotteville – Bloody Bay – Store Bay
Getting to know the Ocean Maiden with great friends nearby - nasty event in Bloody Bay and very uncooperative officials, loud music and reefs in not too good shape...
2013 10 11 – 2014 01 10 Carriacou: Tyrell Bay – Saline Island, Grenada: Clarkes Court Bay, Ronde Island
Meeting lots of South Africans and sailors from all nations surviving the hurricane season in Grenada, wonderful hashes with lovely locals and cruisers, lots of boat work and playing tic-tuc-toe and volleyball. Christmas Eve on Hog Island, Christmas Day on a big tug with lots of people, New Year's eve at Lucky's in Carriacou.
2014 01 10 – 01 22 Union Island: Clifton, Bequia: Port Elizabeth
Panic at Union Island (windlass broke in 30knts of wind, dragging but rescued by lovely Cornish Smugglers) - burst eardrum - great support in Bequia, fixing the most urgent boat things again - skipping all those lovely snorkeling destinations for now
2014 01 22 – 01 31 Martinique: Le Marin – St. Pierre (France)
Welcome by friends from Cornwall and St. Helena - what a lovely surprise - great food and shopping (baguette, wine, paté, all those essential food supplies ;-) and boat stuff (mostly cheaper here than in the 'English' islands), meeting old friends from parents
2014 02 01 – 02 25 Guadaloupe: Les Saintes – Point-à-Pitre – Ilet du Gosier – Sainte-Anne – Pointe Malendure (Pigeon Island) – Rivière Sense (France)
Rushing up to meet best friend from Germany - meeting old friends on the way, having a great time exploring Guadaloupe and hiking up the volcano - freezing up there and no vizzzzz
2014 02 26 – 03 07 St. Lucia: Rodney Bay
Having fun sailing between islands, now fetching lovely Claire in St. Lucia who is going to spend 5 weeks on the Ocean Maiden - lots of fun sailing with a teenager, oops, young adult of course
2014 03 07 – 03 12 Martinique: Le Marin – Grande Anse – St. Pierre (France)
Repeating shopping and then exploring Grande Anse, lovely snorkeling with lots of turtles and collecting seafood on the way
2014 03 12 – 03 19 Dominica: Prince Rupert Bay
Wonderful Dominica, hiking up to Boiling Lake through lush green tropical forests, swimming in hot springs at bottom of magnificent waterfalls, drinking green coconuts, chasing Pirates of the Caribbeans, friendly locals, easiest check-in/out in any country so far
2014 03 19 – 04 03 Guadaloupe : Les Saintes – Pigeon Island – Deshaies (France)
Pretty 'Saintes', walking around a lots, snorkeling, greetings from Jacques Cousteau - the French haven't eaten all the beautiful fish around, reefs in pretty good shape
2014 04 03 – 05 15 Antigua: Jolly Harbour – Falmouth Harbour – Five Island Bay, Barbuda: Cocoa Point – Low Bay
Old British Charme (and not just the sailors), sad farewell to Claire, meeting old and new friends again - having an awesome time at the Antigua Classics onboard 'Stormvogel', preparing for the great crossing, collecting crew and waiting for weather at stunning Barbuda - goodbye Caribbean
2014 05 15 – 05 24 Barbuda to Bermuda
Weather so so...not a lot of wind, British crew couple already scared, not adapting to moving onboard at sea, changing course to Bermuda instead straight to Azores
2014 05 24 – 06 01 Bermuda: St. George (UK)
What an entrance in thunder and lightning in the middle of the night - but radio contact and permission from St. George, straight to customs dock, scared for a second when i answered 'yes' to pet onboard, lady looks around, insisting i would only anchor and not come alongside (of course!) and cleared the tick for pet....phew...forgot this is Britain...
Now i know where Bermuda shorts come from and those horrible long socks in closed shoes to match! But it has its charme and landscape and architecture is amazing, meeting lots of yachts from Caribbean who also took refuge here - weather still not great for crossing
2014 06 01 – 06 17 Bermuda to Azores
American girl crew, Ska and i head off into the wide green yonder....every time i see those not so fluffy clouds it's sure to blow the next day - once felt like falling down a wave with my (not soooo little) boat but all went well - whales, dolphins and flying fish keeping us magnificent company
2014 06 17 – 07 03 Azores: Fajal / Horta, Praia do Vitoria / Terceira (Portugal)
Where sailors from long ago until today meet and talk about their stories - a lot of boats suffered some damage on the way, 2 single-handers crashing into each other on sight of Fajal, boat hit whale etc - no woman sailor engraved at Peter's Bar...- painting on the wall to appease Neptune for the next part of the journey - lovely locals showing the island - Stormvogel arriving only on day of our departure
2014 07 03 – 07 17 Azores to Netherlands
Waited at Terceira for Northwind to get a slight westerly nudge -then left with 2 other boats, aiming for Falmouth/Brest of La Coruna in worse case scenario (although some sailors already returned not being able to get any north in their course...) - some say you should just motor North, we went as close to wind as possible, had not a lot of wind for 3 hours on the first night, then lovely sail across to Ouessant - strong currents in tides, going forward over 10 knots, then standing still or even backwards....great anticipation of the channel, but no wind, no fog, no storm, motored all the way to Vlissingen, dodging the sandbanks after Dover. Decided on French side approach, as British warned me of possible inspections and pets not allowed - they would put Ska down....
2014 07 17 – 07 18 Netherlands: Vlissingen
Hello mainland Europe! Farewell to Randi and hello to Dad who is joining for last 3 days to Sylt, only one night 'rest', then early start
2014 07 18 – 07 20 Netherlands to Germany
North Sea?!?!? No wind, then Easterlies....sea crowded with ships (like highways), gas/oil platforms, windfarms, exclusion zones and then of course the tides....hard work arriving on my birthday on Sylt, wonderful welcome by family and friends - in tears! But have to celebrate, quite stormy first night in marina in pack before i could move into 'my' berth
2014 07 20 – 09 27 Germany: Hörnum / Sylt
Lovely yachtclub with interesting locals, nice being on Sylt in great weather, meeting friends (even from South Africa ;-) and family, decided to put my boat into winter storage and stay with folks for the winter and visit friends.
2014 09 27 – 09 29 Sylt to Rendsburg (in the Kiel Canal) (Germany)
Had to postpone this trip so many times because of weather or wrong tides (leaving Sylt and arriving at the first lock of the Eider - they just changed all the buoys' location in the channel and lockmaster advised to cross bar only 1 hour before or after high-tide)...lots of locks and bridges, lovely calm scenery, motoring next to cows and sheep grazing...into the mighty Kiel canal next to giants steaming from the North Sea to the Baltic or vice versa
2014 09 29 – 2015 04 18 ‘Ocean Maiden’ on land in Rendsburg
Ocean Maiden on an island in the middle of the Kiel canal, opposite the famous Lürssen shipyard, lovely time with folks on Sylt, sky mostly grey on the mainland but ok on Sylt, lots of storms, visiting friends, visiting other home South Africa and missing it lots, working on boat in freezing conditions, Christmas and New Year with folks, sister and favourite nieces, markets and lots of other interesting bits
2015 04 18 – 06 21 Sailing in the German and Danish Baltic Sea into the North Sea: Rendsburg – Kiel – Schleimünde – Langballigau – Vemmingbund – Faldsled – Avernakø – Skaroe – Lindelse Nor – Eckernförde – Aerøskøbing – Flensburg – Gelting Bucht – Gelting Mole – Marstall – Søby – Hørup – Dyvig – Kalvø Havn – Middelfart Gammel Havn – Samsø – Bonnerup – Limfjorden – Thyborøn – Hörnum / Sylt
What a wonderful time back on our floating home! Old schoolfriends sailing with me or joining fun times on the Ocean Maiden, beautiful days in April, early May with frost on deck and 'Tote Tante' below because no heater onboard, lovely anchorages all by ourselves, Danish hospitality, stormy passage to Limfjord getting engine problems, waiting at Thyborøn, meeting lovely helpful single-hander and sailing into the North Sea and to Sylt, water in gearoil, gearbox out and new one in (quite an adventure on Sylt), lovely time on Sylt, but this time much more windy in July, couldn't leave on my birthday as stormy conditions approaching...
2015 07 26 Sylt to Helgoland (Germany)
Finally, it looked not too bad to leave, crew Stefan onboard once more for the passage to Portugal, got 'knocked' by whinch (looked like an avatar for days....), had to motorsail half passage to arrive at light, lying in packs....
2015 07 26 – 07 31 Helgoland (Germany)
Too windy to leave for days....nice to be on Helgoland after all these years, best duty-free shopping (should have known then, it won't get better....), lying in packs in strong wind challenging, but getting cheap fuel and ready to face North Sea, Channel and Biscaye
2015 07 31 – 08 07 Helgoland (Germany) to Ile Ouessant (France) – North Sea & The Channel
Short waves in choppy sea, close-hauling most of the North Sea and then into the channel, interspersed with calm moments in flat seas, lots of traffic, at least one mayday a day (new antenna seems to pick up too much too far now...), always rain near British coast and channel islands...good weather for Ouessant - we'll give it a try
2015 08 07 – 08 08 France: Ile Ouessant
Scenes out of medievel times, rows of towers with bird heads and ruins of old homes in gloomy setting, but wonderful rough scenery, lovely strange locals, almost as rough as the scenery but then very charming, moules and beer outside in our foulies
2015 08 08 – 08 11 France to Spain – through the Biscaye
Boats too close on AIS keeping us awake - lovely sail across - windy, wavy approach to Coruna up on the shelf in half an hour, chased by fishing vessels
2015 08 11 – 08 20 Spain: A Coruña – Ilhas Sisargas – Ria de Camarińas – Finisterra – Puerto Corrubedo – Islas Cíes (del Faro)
Crew Rosa onboard with stunning cake, exploring A Coruña, beautiful old city, lovely tapas, still freezing cold - water & air around 14 degrees celsius...rough weather, wind on the nose most of the time, lovely anchorages, finisterre really finister, sorry sinister looking, fog, sunshine, lots of tourists on Islas Cíes...
2015 08 21 – 09 11 Portugal: Leixoes – Peniche – Cascais – Oeiras
Impressions of beautiful old cities, welcome and farewell to old friends, beginning of new friendships, 'dolphin' days with lovely sailing and good luck, 'jellyfish' days where everything goes wrong....
2015 09 11 – 09 16 Cascais to Porto Santo (Portugal)
Never leave on a Friday - ripped main sail and tiring crew....
2015 09 16 – 09 20 Porto Santo
Arid but dry, lovely locals, festivals, greetings to Don Quichote, another painting on the wall, recovering from crew, planning first solo 3 day sail to Canaries
2015 09 20 – 09 23 Porto Santo to Graciosa / Canaries (Spain)
AIS receiver working great, only dare to sleep up to 40 min though, but so relaxing, relieved not to look after challenging crew, singing, eating, reading when and what i want (sorry Ska, but he caught a bird at night when i was shaking out a reef....), approaching La Graciosa at night, cautiously, anchored far out all those swaying lights up in the air at the only anchorage there
2015 09 23 – 10 31 Canaries (Spain): Playa Franchesca / Graciosa – Rubicon / Lanzerote – Playa de la Concha / Isla de Lobos – Gran Tarajal & Morro de Jable / Fuerteventura – Las Palmas & Puerto de Sardina / Gran Canaria – Puerto las Vueltas / Gomera
Woke up to meet Swedish sailing buddies again, introduced to many single-handers on smaller boats, getting courage to do Atlantic solo, only nice anchorage in Graciosa, others ok, but can be rolly or quite dangerous in certain wind, wind very variable, Las Palmas scary with ARC boats crowding the marina and anchorage too full in fairly deep water, swinging around madly, reanchored the most times ever because of other boats...but nice hike with Swedes, great seafood in Puerto de Sardina, water still quite chilly, but first 'voluntary' swims this year, Gomera strange vibe (touristy or left-behind once maybe hippies....) and bad weather, decide to leave spontaneously for trip to Cape Verdes
2015 10 31 – 11 07 Gomera to Cape Verdes
Longest solo trip so far, sea quite high when i left, hand-steered all night, but glad to be out of La Gomera (was too rough for anchoring or being moored on wall inside harbor), wonderful sail across, very good wind, though shifting and keeping me on my boats, fewer ships and good sleeps, arriving nice and bright at windy Mindelo
2015 11 07 – 11 14 Mindelo / Sao Vincente (Cape Verdes)
Thought i don't know anybody as other known single-handers are days / weeks behind me...then knock onboard, French couple welcoming me, drinks in marina, English expecting me and hence great times in Mindelo - locals friendly, always up for a chat, not really harassing me, stunning Merrymaid and others. Had to leave before friends on ARC arrived (yes, there are some nice people in it....) because of friends arriving in Grenada and weather looking good already
2015 11 14 – 12 01 Cape Verde to Grenada
Passage out of Mindelo and first 2 days strong wind and wrong swell from the North, got a bit apprehensive, then swell from behind and goosewinging with 2 reefs each all across in 20-25knts wind - a bit rolly but great and feeling safe, just changing sheet positions a little every day to avoid chafe (the ropes as well as the bed as i was being tossed around a lot....), collecting flying fish quite often, sometimes nice and fresh for the pan but always a good nibble for Ska, squid stained hatch, not daring to catch fish as not sure how to slow down fast and get in but alas got lots of food and water so no problem and the flying fish are tasy, while quite bony...lots and lots of seaweed floating, slowing the boat at times, squalls getting more frequent nearing the Caribbean - first ship only after height of Barbuda, otherwiese quiet, very quiet - sleep more than 4 hours at a time, look around, go back to sleep, fit and energised during the day, devouring lots of books, Ska not sick once! So proud to have done my first solo ocean passage (well, with Ska ;-)
2015 12 01 – 12 11 Prickly Bay & Hog Island & Mount Hartman Bay / Grenada – Ronde Island – Tyrrel Bay / Carriacou (Grenada)
Slowed down arrival to be there in daytime, heard 'Miss Kitty' on the cruiser's net and calling in for the first time ever, feels like 'coming home', seeing old familiar faces and young ones, preparing for German friends visiting, great times getting them to become hash virgins and showing them the island and sailing up to the Grenadines.
2015 12 11 – 12 18 Clifton / Union Island – Tobago Cays – Saltwhistle Bay / Mayreau (St. Vincent & the Grenadines)
Wonderful times snorkeling, exploring, walking, eating - what a nice holiday with Marita and Andreas!
2015 12 18 – 2016 01 09 Tyrrel Bay / Carriacou – Mount Hartman Bay / Grenada – Ronde Island (Grenada)
Birthday party at Ms Lucky (great food and cheap rumpunches!), lumpy sail back to Grenada, sad farewell again to crew, lovely potluck Christmas and New Year's Eve at Secret Harbor with lots of cruisers, Swedes and South African single-handers and so many more..., more hash virgins, lovely stop at Ronde, not rolly this time and nice snorkeling
2016 01 11 – 01 20 (Ilet Gosier – Pointe à Pitre – Riviere Sens – Pte Malendure – Les Saintes (Guadaloupe)
More birthday parties, great snorkeling, enjoying French Islands again
2016 01 21 – 02 01 Admiral’s Bay / Bequia – Young Island Cut / St. Vincent (St. Vincent & the Grenadines)
Visiting parents friends from Germany, working on boat, farewell to other cruisers heading for Panama, more Swedish connections
2016 02 02 – 02 21 Le Marin – Anse Noire – Grande Anse – Case Pilot – St. Pierre (Martinique)
Shopping for boat and tummy again, little island tour with friends and lots of snorkeling while working on the boat, turtles, lovely shells and more Swedes
2016 02 21 – 02 26 Prince Rupert Bay (Dominica)
Hiking on my farourite island - it didn't disappoint me again
2016 02 26 – 03 02 Les Saintes – Deshaies (Guadaloupe)
My other favourite anchor place at 'Pain au Sucre' in the Saintes - sadly, they are placing mooring blocks here as well so the days of anchoring in this lovely bay are numbered....
2016 03 02 – 04 ? Jolly Harbor & Falmouth & Five Island Bay & Deep Bay / Antigua – Cocoa Point / Barbuda (Antigua)
Scare at checking in, customs guy tries calling vet for check and possible quarantine, gets distracted by missing info on check-in which i duly type in, then sends me to immigration, i come back, next people already checking in, then get send to port authority and come back, he must have 'forgotten' but hands me paper with his name and phone number in case i like crew....phew.....collecting shells and seafood, finding lots of lucky beans which bring me no luck, lonely days recovering from hectic life and some not so nice sailors around, sad farewells to short-term cruisers going back to Europe, enjoying life on Barbuda and back in Antigua again - stunning sunsets, lovely snorkeling and beaches and looking forward to meeting old salts at the Classics next week.....
To be continued…..