Ska

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Born 19.9.2001 Johannesburg, South Africa

Died 9.2.2017 Le Marin, Martinique

Middle of January this year, my beloved cat Ska lost his appetite and he was getting weaker so I took him to a vet in Le Marin.  She was a kind lady, could luckily speak a little English and told me to be hopeful but I should take every day with him as a gift. She gave him an injection and 2 days later he was his usual self again, playful as ever despite his 15 years of age. My last visitor and friend, Timo, gave Ska some scented cushions to play with and he behaved like a teenager that’s just been naughty. Then my friend Astrid arrived in Martinique and for the first week, Ska was healthy and happy and then suddendly lost appetite and grew quickly weak, so i went back to the vet and now she cautioned me even more as the kidneys were both very swollen, but i could try and inject him saline solution twice daily and feed him via a bigger syringe.  It worked a little and i was hopeful but then he just grew weaker and weaker. When Astrid was gone, I sailed back to Grande Anse and on Thursday morning, the 9th of February, Ska was hardly responding anymore and seemed to be in pain although not meowing or other sounds. I dreaded this trip to the vet but had to do it as i didn’t want him to suffer. This is not a quick trip and i luckily found this french couple which offer a private taxi service that fetched me again all the way from Le Marin, took me to the same vet there, stayed there while the vet saw us. She confirmed my biggest fears to let him go and gave me time to say goodbye to Ska and he was put to sleep. She wrapped him in a towel and put him back in the box as I asked if he could come with me.  I was very distraught and back in Grande Anse, Les, a friend on a near boat, fetched me and later waited for me on land while i was walking hours with Ska to find a suitable burying place – none seemed right and I was getting desperate.  Back on the beach, Les suggested a sea burial and we went back to my boat to place him in a pillow case with some offerings to the sea and a big rock. We dinghied out into the bay as the big tall ship ‘Royal Clipper’ came in and I tried to drop Ska overboard – the pillowcase was so tight it floated!  I let more air out and finally he sank down and Les gave me time to say good-bye.  A little later, the ‘Royal Clipper’ gave a stunning display of lights after sunset, a fitting farewell to Ska, my best friend and companion for over 15 years, a real sailor with over 15,000 Miles on my ‘Ocean Maiden’ under his belly.

I miss him terribly, the boat still feels empty without him.  When I come back home, there is no one to greet me, complain about me disappearing, frowning and then showing his affection again. I still hear and see him everywhere as little shadows look like him. I miss him waking me up, lately by jumping through the little inside hatch straight onto me with a big plumps and a fat grin, staring me down, demanding food or just a hug, snuggling up to me and purring loudly into my ear. He would now try to disrupt my typing by trying to lie on the keyboard. I miss his cat hair everywhere, even the bits of cat litter which he so liked to spread all over the boat, the bits of the coco mat that my dad gave him so he could scratch his paws. He was the reason I bought this boat as we left on another one and I couldn’t fly back to South Africa with him out of the countries we visited until then. I wouldn’t have left him and hence bought this boat – little did I know we would continue sailing for so many miles.  When people think i was single-handing, that is not true – he was great company, a wonderful character and supported me through all the different experiences and moods.

It’s been a month today that he is no longer with me – every sunset and more I think of him, just out here in the bay – RIP Ska.

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The Route more travelled

Ocean Maiden 09 2012 - 03 2016

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…..

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2013 08 27 – 10 10 Trinidad: Chaguaramas & Scotland Bay, Tobago: Pigeon Point – Mt. Irvine – Charlotteville – Bloody Bay – Store Bay

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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...

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2013 10 11 – 2014 01 10 Carriacou: Tyrell Bay – Saline Island, Grenada: Clarkes Court Bay, Ronde Island

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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.

2013 10 12 IMG_2968Sunrise at Saline Island

 

2014 01 10 – 01 22 Union Island: Clifton, Bequia: Port Elizabeth

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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

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2014 01 22 – 01 31 Martinique: Le Marin – St. Pierre (France)

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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

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2014 02 01 – 02 25 Guadaloupe: Les Saintes – Point-à-Pitre – Ilet du Gosier – Sainte-Anne – Pointe Malendure (Pigeon Island) – Rivière Sense (France)

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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

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2014 02 26 – 03 07 St. Lucia: Rodney Bay

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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

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2014 03 07 – 03 12 Martinique: Le Marin – Grande Anse – St. Pierre (France)

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Repeating shopping and then exploring Grande Anse, lovely snorkeling with lots of turtles and collecting seafood on the way

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2014 03 12 – 03 19 Dominica: Prince Rupert Bay

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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

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2014 03 19 – 04 03 Guadaloupe : Les Saintes – Pigeon Island – Deshaies (France)

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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

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2014 04 03 – 05 15 Antigua: Jolly Harbour – Falmouth Harbour – Five Island Bay, Barbuda: Cocoa Point – Low Bay

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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

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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

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2014 05 24 – 06 01 Bermuda: St. George (UK)

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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

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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
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2014 06 17 – 07 03 Azores: Fajal / Horta, Praia do Vitoria / Terceira (Portugal)

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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

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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....

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2014 07 17 – 07 18  Netherlands: Vlissingen

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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
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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

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2014 07 20 – 09 27 Germany: Hörnum / Sylt

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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.
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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

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2014 09 29 – 2015 04 18 ‘Ocean Maiden’ on land in Rendsburg

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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

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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

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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...

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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....

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2015 07 26 – 07 31 Helgoland (Germany)

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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

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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

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2015 08 07 – 08 08 France: Ile Ouessant

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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

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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

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2015 08 11 – 08 20 Spain: A Coruña – Ilhas Sisargas – Ria de Camarińas – Finisterra – Puerto Corrubedo – Islas Cíes (del Faro)

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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...

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2015 08 21 – 09 11 Portugal: Leixoes – Peniche – Cascais – Oeiras

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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....

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2015 09 11 – 09 16 Cascais to Porto Santo (Portugal)

Never leave on a Friday - ripped main sail and tiring crew....

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2015 09 16 – 09 20 Porto Santo

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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

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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

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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

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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
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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

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2015 11 07 – 11 14 Mindelo / Sao Vincente (Cape Verdes)

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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

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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 ;-)

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2015 12 01 – 12 11 Prickly Bay & Hog Island & Mount Hartman Bay / Grenada – Ronde Island – Tyrrel Bay / Carriacou (Grenada)

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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.

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2015 12 11 – 12 18 Clifton / Union Island – Tobago Cays – Saltwhistle Bay / Mayreau  (St. Vincent & the Grenadines)

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Wonderful times snorkeling, exploring, walking, eating - what a nice holiday with Marita and Andreas!

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2015 12 18 – 2016 01 09 Tyrrel Bay / Carriacou – Mount Hartman Bay / Grenada – Ronde Island (Grenada)

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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

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2016 01 11 – 01 20 (Ilet Gosier – Pointe à Pitre – Riviere Sens – Pte Malendure – Les Saintes (Guadaloupe)

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More birthday parties, great snorkeling, enjoying French Islands again

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2016 01 21 – 02 01 Admiral’s Bay / Bequia – Young Island Cut / St. Vincent (St. Vincent & the Grenadines)

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Visiting parents friends from Germany, working on boat, farewell to other cruisers heading for Panama, more Swedish connections

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2016 02 02 – 02 21 Le Marin – Anse Noire – Grande Anse – Case Pilot – St. Pierre (Martinique)

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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

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2016 02 21 – 02 26 Prince Rupert Bay (Dominica)

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Hiking on my farourite island - it didn't disappoint me again

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2016 02 26 – 03 02 Les Saintes – Deshaies (Guadaloupe)

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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....

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2016 03 02 – 04 ? Jolly Harbor & Falmouth & Five Island Bay & Deep Bay / Antigua – Cocoa Point / Barbuda (Antigua)

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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.....

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To be continued…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life in The Caribbean

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Kaya in Barbuda

 

Finally, not too many distractions, enough wind and sun for electricity, and a little internet – sounds like a normal every day for those choosing life in a land based, fairly civilized environment.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog and got ‘blocked’ trying to catch up with now over 2,5 years and almost 14,000 Miles cruising with my beloved cat Ska on my trusted sailing yacht, the ‘Ocean Maiden’ (had a little 9 months interlude in North Germany). I might catch up another day, but I decided to start again with the status quo.

We are lying at anchor in beautiful Barbuda, close to Cocoa Point on the south-west side of the island. This is where I started my crossing to Europe little under 2 years ago. It is fairly protected from the prevailing Easterlies but every once and then a ground swell comes through, lifting and lowering the yachts around and the once closer to shore get sometimes a little scary boost forward. I prefer anchoring a little further out, you tend to get more of a breeze, which is welcome to cool the boat down, play with Ska’s whiskers and give me a little more power through my wind generator – and mostly no creepy-crawlies, biting, sucking monsters…no-see-ums or bigger or scarier ones.

Every day, I see yachts come and go but I decided to ‘take a break’. Friends of mine still tick off some Western Islands before heading back to Antigua to prepare for their crossings back to Europe. It has been different for me this time in the Caribbean, having met some yachties in Europe and doing the crossing together and meeting again in various places in the western Caribbean – most of them are short-term cruisers, actually on a year’s vacation which is quite different from us more long-term, real liveaboards one. The aim is not to ‘tick off’ as much as possible but rather get to know fewer places in a different way. A lot of the yachties I met this time were Skandinavian, so many Swedes and now Norwegians – you wouldn’t think anyone is left in their countries with relative small populations! My Swedish is still atrocious though….and my mouth can’t seem to get around some of those vowels…oh well, should concentrate on my French and Spanish again for the months to come and probable places to visit.

There is always so much to learn on a boat. I first thought it would be about fishing, recipes (conchs etc), playing the Ukulele and Cajon Kirsten and Jörk gave me, learning shanties and reciting dirty sailor’s sayings, making jewellery, photography, writing this blog regularly, reading and so much more of the fun stuff. Then you learn what so many other boat owners seem to know already – there is always something to fix, to maintain and to clean. Most often I had to first learn how to do the simplest maintenance tasks and there is lots of advice out there – you just have to figure out yourself what and how you like it done. My to-do list is growing constantly and important things get done right away whereas others are for the hurricane season which I intend to spend down in Grenada / Carriacou. But it’s not all that serious….in between, I go for a swim or snorkel, a walk on a beach or a climb up the mountain (ok, not here, it’s quite flat for a change). Oh, and collect seafood – I’m experimenting with all kinds of molluscs, conchs being the best so far….made a curry this morning and it’s slow-cooking in my wonder bag now.

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Curried conch stew

There could hardly be a better, more beautiful setting than here in Barbuda, even better soon when the lodges / guest houses close for the hurricane season and it looks like a deserted paradise.  Long beaches enclose the anchorages with fine white sand, lined with the occasional palms and low-growing scrubs, occasionally visited by some humans, donkeys and horses. The reefs are in fairly good shape, fish teaming, one shark so far (might be a black-tip reef shark), rays, turtles, the odd lobster, sea urchins and some leftover living conchs….so many dead and holed ones, it looks quite sad underwater. It feels cold, when the water temperature goes below 28 degrees, but I can play in it for hours. I go for a paddle and when I see something interesting in the water, I tie a rope from the kayak around my waist, don fins, makes and snorkel and explore underwater for awhile. If I find some little treasures, I paddle home and cook / clean them and continue with work on the boat and hopefully continue more blogging.

yours aye

Silke & Ska

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Sunrise over Cocoa Point
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Beach life a la Munch
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Sunset without the green flash…
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Cocoa Point
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Conch Fritters
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Colours of Barbuda
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Ska munching seafood
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Shark encounter

 

A new floating home

Trinidad

Trinidad is an island where a lot of different sailing and other folks meet. It is one of the few areas in the Caribbean which is out of the hurricane belt (1933 one hit the island and Ivan brushed past in 2004, causing little damage in Trinidad but major in Grenada and other islands).  Hence, it is a place where people meet and mingle to wait for the season to start heading North or West again, to fix and maintain their boats, enjoy the odd braai (South African barbecue) and other festivities in the various dockyards in the town of Chaguaramas or leave their boats in relative safety to return later on. Hundreds of boats stand oTo Trinidadn their little stabilisers, enduring hammering, welding, painting, scraping, sanding and other activities that should keep them afloat.  Others stand there being neglected, left behind by owners who do not want or cannot provide for them anymore.  Boats get abandoned for various reasons, one being the different expectations of the crew sailing it – cruising is not for everyone, and life in confined spaces can be challenging for some.  Many an ocean crossing from either Europe or via South Africa ended here (the latter for me).

I was lucky to see so many South Africans again, friends and other sailors that I would get to know better over the next weeks and months.  Neptune watched over me and the Newman family (Ingrid, Alistair, Tanzi & Michael) soon introduced to a lovely South African sailing couple, Tjarda and Chris, that was trying to sell their boat or sail back to South Africa (the direct route is not very pleasant).  We came to an agreement and I became the proud owner of a perfect little cruising yacht – a 2003 Bavaria 36.

Ocean MaidensSome might call it a ‘Barbie’ boat, and originally, I myself wasn’t keen to buy such a production line boat. But seeing her with all her luxuries and cruising add-ons (most importantly a  ‘braai’ (=barbecue)) and well-layed out interior, I fell in love and still am! Friends helped me to move quickly from the other boat and for the first time in months, Ska and I were happy though anxious onboard. He strolled around everywhere inside, sniffing in every corner, trying to get into every little opening, exploring his makeshift litterbox in the ‘heads’ (=toilet onboard) and devouring a can of tuna – I would have to live with his bad breath later on….

Chaguaramas

Trini Receipt
A lot of forms have to be filled in to get the desired stamps…

Lots had to be learned and again my friends were near to take away my worst fears and taught me, helped me and just supported me in so many ways.  The formalities were challenging, signing off the previous boat I was on, signing onto my new boat as owner, signing previous owners off the boat, re-registering the boat, a new flag (she is German now with Home Port Cape Town ;-)), customs and immigration all had to be faced – well, if those would get me down, I wouldn’t travel far – so one learns to never be in a hurry, chit-chat with the officials and trying to smile whenever possible.  At least I get away with more relaxed clothing than the male skippers, not having worn ‘close’ shoes in so long nor having long pants here in the tropics….

Ska on OM

It was time to let the lines go, although I must admit I would probably still be there if it weren’t for the encouragement of friends around. SY ‘Deno’ helped me to get from my mooring and soon we sailed down the bay. When a dolphin came close and stayed with Ska and myself right to Scotland Bay, I knew we could have a chance.  Ian hopped on my boat and showed me how to anchor on my own, a gentle bystander making me do everything by myself, up and down until I had a little handle on it. My Spanish friends Cristina, Jordi and little Gina sailed into the bay on their SY ‘Mischief’ and it felt right to have our first little celebration on my ‘Ocean Maiden’.

How it all began (Ska’s pick)

SkaMeow, cats, humans and other beings….

According to Wikipedia, I’m now around 70 human years old (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_years), should sleep peacefully more than 70 % of the day, which both sound an awful lot but sitting here on my bed, I can tell you, this human of mine has moved me around so many miles I hardly know where I am!

Well, at the end of 2011, I had everything I hoped for, a lovely home with a view over the Simon’s Town harbour and mountains, a cat door which gave me freedom to go wherever I wanted, lovely neighbours that spoilt me and the occasional chase of mice and birds – life was a  bliss. Then my human changed it all…

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She met this little female chick who brought her human with her and that furball kept on bothering me from then on. No respect for elders, she jumped on me, tried to bite into my tail and to top it all, ate most of my food out of MY bowl! I could hardly escape outside because of a new human that moved into the house above – innocent me strolls over as usual, to discover a yelping human plus her two yelping doormats putting up spikes on the fence. The mood in the house got a bit tense, lots of packing, shopping, and then the furniture kept disappearing until there was hardly a cushion to find comfort on.  And you know how I hate change! My human would still surprise me even more!  The dreaded box came out, she lured me into it and off we went to that animal torturer – being poked by needles again. But instead of giving me proper rest in my home, she soon dragged me into the box again to this thing on the water – a floating home?!?!? Now who can be so stupid to build something like this! I was terrified and didn’t like the idea of sharing my home, toilet, food bowls, human with others in such a small space! But no, she wouldn’t be persuaded and the dreadful journey began – I got sooooo seasick, I thought I’m going to die….

SkaApparently, we rounded Cape Point – the other furball and myself were out cold on the cabin floor and another human was queasy up on top – my human cleaned up the mess and tried to cheer us up – in vane – all I wanted is to get off the boat with her back into our little home.  Almost three weeks in Hout Bay got us a bit more stable but then the real horror started – no more marinas, where I could at least try to jump off, no, just anchored or moored from now on (apologies, got used to the humans’ strange language on a boat – just ask if I need to clarify). Soon we were in the middle of nowhere, just water around us – I wouldn’t eat nor drink and anyway don’t remember much, just my human trying to comfort me and forcing down yucky water with salt – I wanted to spit it out but she wouldn’t let me …at least the other furball wasn’t in much better shape.  We made it to England, rather a small island in the middle of the South Atlantic, called St. Helena where they wouldn’t let me off, nor take the ship back to South Africa.  The English don’t like any animal to be landed, which I can understand for dogs and roaches but for me?!?!? So we kept on sailing to Ascension, Brazil (where I got off for 2 days with my human but then moved back on again), French Guyana and finally to Tobago and then Trinidad. Me and my human weren’t happy on that boat and desperately tried to find either a way back to South Africa or our own little new home, even if it’s another floating one! But that’s another story…

A landlubber’s life…

A breezy winter day on Sylt
A breezy winter day on Sylt

Welcome sailors and landlubbers,

it is the time to reflect on past adventures and plan new ones – my beloved cat Ska and I took refuge at my parents place on the island of Sylt in the most Northern part of Germany while our boat, the ‘Ocean Maiden’ is stored in a winter hall on an island in the middle of the Kiel canal. Although she is amongst hundreds of fellow yachts, I try to get to her as often as I can and give her well-deserved love and care to get her ready for the next episode of sailing into the blue. Unlike in the Caribbean, say Trinidad where i bought her, it is quite a lonely affair working on the boat and it’s sooooo cold!!! Not what we’re used to, that is Ska, the boat or myself – I even had to ‘winterize’ her so that hopefully no pipes or other containers burst in or after the frost.  Can’t paint or glue anything yet, you have to wait for warmer weather (March I hope…).  And if you’re fingers start sticking to the metal bits you know it’s time to make a steaming hot coffee – and drink it right away before it’s frozen….

In the meantime I keep myself busy visiting friends in South Africa and in Germany and with other bits and pieces that one can do while on a sabbatical in Germany – having fairly good internet, deliveries that take between 1 or 2 days (not weeks or months as we’re used to….) and enjoying a hot bath after a chilly winter walk when you’re whole body is red like a boiled crab because your blood is just pumping!

A beautiful plate given to me by my dear friend Liz Webb
A beautiful plate given to me by my dear friend Liz Webb
Chilled seafood
Chilled seafood

Sailing and boat care are still fairly new to me and the learning curve is steep, advice is readily available but need to learn how to apply it to our situations. And there is so much more to learn and discover. Stay tuned for more on the past year’s adventures and new ones to follow.

Silke & Ska

Merry Christmas from Silke & Ska
Merry Christmas from Silke & Ska