There is a phrase in spanish – ‘tienes una flor en el culo’. Directly translating to English language, is- ‘you have a flower in your ass’. It means- to be very lucky in something.
This is what some of our friends use to say about us. Maybe they are right or maybe not. Usually, we answer ,there is lots of effort, uncertainness, worries and work behind that all, what they call pure luck.
But this time, at Guanaja , we had to give them the reason. We had flower in the ass😊 We were lucky to be in the right place at the right time.
After meeting our new friends- Txomin and Doll- we got to know much better the island, Mangrove Bight town and it,s people! Furthermore, during all this pandemic time, we felt safe and sure we are in the best place to ‘survive’ the craziness of the world. We had wild nature around, amazing coral reefs at sea, lot of wind for energy, water from waterfall ashore and supportive people in town. Not sure if managed to describe it good enough, but this time we were not shamed to accept , how lucky we were!
We had some worries, of course. For example, what will happen if the island gets infected. There is no hospital, the nearest one in Roatan island or at mainland. Would be a lie to say that we didn’t care about it. But living on a boat and having a “cruisers chip” turned on, we learned to avoid having the too bad thoughts and preferred keep believing in –
don’t worry (taking care) be happy.
Guanaja government was keeping restricting the unnecessary movement between sectors and there was no hope that it will end soon. Island was still with zero Covid cases, but in the mainland the number of infected people was growing. So, after waiting for about two weeks in El Bight we decided to go to the capital and ask the port captain permission for sailing to other side of the island to stay close to our new friends. In this kind of situation having a small baby on board and talking Spanish helped us a lot to convince the authorities. We got a green light to sail. Even if it was just a permission given by words, without any paper or document signed in. We were told that if we get stopped by police, we have to tell that Bonacca port captain Walter let us go.
For us, that was enough. We prepared the boat and next day early morning set sails to Mangrove Bight. Had a nice trip with a few stressful moments sailing between coral reefs, where you have to trust more on your eyes than on any electronic chart. And on the boat engine, of course. With a current and wind against these passes can be quite dangerous. But Grain did well and her old engine the same.
The bay was big and well protected from all direction winds, except the northwest. Depths were perfect (3-5 meters) and holding as well (sand). But it was quite windy place. As we experienced later, after the mid-day, winds used to increase a lot. Some days could blow constantly 30-40 knots. Luckily, we had plenty of space for the chain, good Rocna anchor and plenty of area behind, in case we would drag. Besides, later on we dropped our second anchor and felt safe enough to survive any strength of wind and leave our Grain for the first time some nights alone!
Txomin and Doll invited us to stay at their house and enjoy nights sleeping in comfortable big bed! From their terrace we could see our Grain in the bay and that helped us to be more calm about its safety (cruisers who lives onboard can understand us very well.)
The new place became our second home where we felt comfortable and relaxed. Doll was preparing tasty meals, Txomin introduced us to his friends and told millions of stories about the island, the town and people.
Jura was the happiest boy in the world. Because of his blonde hair locals were calling him “El Canchito” and he was all day long playing in the backyard of the house, meeting other kids and eating coconut and mangoes in amazing quantities.
Covid restrictions in Guanaja were not so hard as in other parts of the world. People could not be on the streets after the sunset and some weekends were obliged to stay at home. But island continued zero infected, so people were quite relaxed and we hardly noticed the difference from the other normality. After the dark all the bars had to be closed and gathering of big groups was prohibited, so the town was more relaxed and the traffic much smaller.
I forgot to mention before, but Guanaja has just 4 kilometres of asphalted road! Just 4 km! The road goes between Mangrove Bight and Savanah. And still, there were big number of cars and mottos around, which they said use to be bigger before Covid times!
People we met were so friendly, opening us the doors of their houses, presenting us fruits, cakes, fish, lobsters, clothes and even the diapers for Jura! There were moments, when we were asking what we’ve done so good to deserve such hospitality? Honestly, didn’t know how to thank all this attention we received.
So at least now, writing this post we would like to say huge thanks to Txomin and Doll for their incredible hospitality, to Karen and her amazing family for great time spent together and super nice good-by party they made for us, to George and Ginger from Clear Water Paradise Resort for chill out at their pool and nice talks, to Daniel for letting us using his peer and inviting us to cook with him, to South African couple living just on the coast and being our great neighbours, for cousin of Doll for fresh milk and for many more amazing people we met, but , sorry, could not remember all names now.
See you soon , Mangrove Bight!
¨You are not allowed to touch the land for 14 days. Must go direct to your boat at anchor and stay there mentioned period of time. Since today these are the new rules, we apply for our islands to avoid the Covid-19 ¨
This was our reaction to what we were told by the officials on early morning of Monday, 16 of March, 2020, after our arrival to the harbour of Bonacca, the little cay and the capital of Guanaja, Bay islands, Honduras. It took us 3 days of beautiful broad reach sail to get here from our last port in Caymans. In reality we arrived to the bay day earlier, on Sunday, but as on weekends all official institutions are closed we decided stay on boat and instead relax and celebrate Egoi 40th birthday.
That Monday morning, we could not believe what we heard. Before leaving the Caymans we already heard something about Covid in Italy. But we were so concern about checking the weather and planning the trip that did not pay big attention to news. To be honest, we were thinking its another type of Flue and it will end soon.
But that moment, on that tiny Honduras island we were shocked! 2 weeks at anchor with a year and a half old active baby, limited number of provisions and water aboard, was going to be not very funny. Caymans were sooooooo expensive that for 3 days trip to Bay islands we bought just essential food supplies, planning fill the boat with provisions in much cheaper Honduras islands.
And than our brains started working.
¨Wait wait wait? You said the law begins todays, 16? Right? ¨
¨But we arrived yesterday! 15 of March. It was Sunday, so we stayed on board till Immigration and Custom office will open on Monday. ¨
¨Ok. Can you prove it somehow? ¨
¨Yes! We have Garmin in Reach sms with time and coordinates sent to the family from the anchorage yesterday. ¨
¨OK. Well, then you are lucky. You will have to be checked by our doctor (temperature) and then you can continue with ordinary check in and follow general rules applied to all Guanaja habitants to avoid Covid. That means all pleasure craft movements between sectors are prohibited (island was divided in sectors). You can sail with your boat inside the sector 1. Just. No one was allowed to sail to other Bay islands- neither Roatan nor Utila. And of course, no way to enter the mainland. ¨
That didn’t bother us too much. We were happy to be in Guanaja and as we got to know later there were safer and better than in other two islands- Roatan and Utila. Only the fact that our friends from Basque country and the family will not be able to visit us in Roatan upset us. At the same time, unknowing when Guatemala, our place for hurricane season , will open its border , was worrying us too. Guanaja was still on Hurricanes path, although they rarely hit the Bay Islands. Last devastimg one was Mitch, which hit and destroyed the island on 1998 .
After initial shock and all the news, we made check in to the country and rushed to change some money, buy local Sim card with Data and connect to the world for Covid news.
Later when all calmed down and we were sitting on a bench drinking local beer I understood what the message, we got on 16th early morning from my parents on Garmin InReach – ¨Rasa, are you Ok? Lithuania is closed¨-meant.
The whole world changed. Countries were closing the borders, but life continued.
And we started enjoying Guanaja
Soon after our main home became safe and very well protected anchorage at El Bight in the South East coast. We were there together with 4 other sailboats – all in the same situation as we- Dutch, French and 2 American.
It was beautiful small bay. Very good holding (sand), lots of mango and coconut trees around, nice waterfall in the forest, small shop with main provisions nearly and friendly german guy Hans living ashore and awning Manati restaurant. Because of a Covid it was closed, but Hans let us using his peer for dinghy and invited us to use fresh water pipe on dock anytime we want.
In other words – better impossible. In pandemic situation which all world was living we were feeling we are in the right place to be. Knowing that we have fruits and water ashore, fish in the sea and internet on mobile phones made us feel safe and ready to survive if the island get totally closed and no supplies comes from the mainland. Usually, one time a week there were boats coming to Bonacca from La Ceiba with fresh food and main provisions. But since the pandemic commenced, they arrived only once in two weeks. And nobody knew if the things could get worse.
But then again in the most unexpected moment surprises comes. The first day, while walking through tiny Bonacca streets and looking for a place for toilet I was politely interrupted by nice lady asking if I was Basque( funny, how could blondie, blue eyes girl with strange accent look like Basque?:). The women name was Dol. And to our surprise she was married to Basque man Txomin and living just on the other side of the island. We shared our mobiles and soon after few days Egoi was talking in basque with Txomin on the phone. He was inviting us to come as stay with them to Mangrove Bight, which is on the northeast side. Of course we said YES- just needed to wait till boats will be allowed to sail between the sectors.
But about that and our amazing time in Mangrove Bight on the next post.
In early November of 2019 we flew back to our Grain de Sable in Aruba. Jura was 13 month old, already walking and with lots of curiosity for discovering the World. He loved the water and sun so we could not wait to start sailing and coming back on life a float. This time in Aruba Grain de Sable crew joined my parents and the plan was to prepare the boat, leave Aruba, sail to Jamaica and enjoy Jamaican southern coast as long as possible.
WOULD BE A CRIME TO COMPLAIN:)
We were very exited and having my father and mother aboard was amazing help for both of us. Jura loved traveling, but life on boat with a toddler can be quite hard sometimes. At least in the very beginning. All of us had to get use to new way of cruising😊 Slowing down, being clear about each one responsibilities, keeping eye on our boy in every moment and forgeting about usual tidiness were some of the new things which become casual when you have baby on board.
Thankfully with five of us on board my mother could dedicate time to Jura, me do some small tasks on boat and Egoi with my father fully prepare the boa
Grain de Sable To-Do list was endless. Nevertheless somehow we manage to finish the big part of it. Apart from painting the bottom of GRAIN, installing electronic devices, sails, ropes and adjusting the boat for Jura,s safety and comfort, my father and Egoi had most important job to do - instal the new old ARIES wind wane. We got it from our friend Marius from Saint Bart to whom we give a big big thanks again. After testing it during 5 days trip to Jamaica we are very glad about having it!
Another important boat update- finally we got rid of our old inflatable dinghy! In Aruba at Budget Marine shop bought a new rigid 8-foot Walker Bay. We were tired of spending lots of time and money on patching the old rubber , inflating and inflating , worrying about not making a hole when coming to rocky shore and lifting its heavy weight on board before sailing.
Walker Bay can carry around 190kg of weight max, but sometimes we were giving to it little bit more job:) For the stability concern installed old fenders around. At the moment of climbing to dinghy and going on wavy sea it made a big difference.
So in the end of November when the hurricane season was at its very end we left sailing towards south of Jamaica. 500 miles, 4 days and a half trip and we arrived to Jamaica- Beautiful Morant bay.
During the trip all went smoothly and nice , despite one frightening accident one night. One of our boat shrouds (starboard) became loose and we urgently needed to fix it. The shroud support stainless steel plate broke , so while sailing we had to replace it.
And our boy Jura was happy and very active during all trip! Of course without my parents help it would have been much more harder. At this age we were not able to leave him any second alone.
Down the deck Jura,s safe place became port side saloon bed. We installed soft fence made from old sail so that Jura could move freely inside. Yet he is so strong boy, so we still had to be always near watching him not to climb and jump on floor. It was not easy to be sailing with a year old baby, no, but his laugh and his joy when bathing in a laundry bucket or when discovering flying fishes around rewarded all our tiredness .
We checked in a country at Port Morant which at that time was a military base. Every time we stepped ashore surprisingly we were welcomed by polite and friendly militars. It was our first time in Jamaica and after the dry ABC islands before we were so happy to be back to the jungles! Little town ashore was small and authentic, no tourist, no hotels, no bars . We thought that probably in a long time we were the only white people there. Till we came till the local library for catching a WIFI. There we met one Basque guy living in Port Morant for a few years already!
Blondie Jura soon became centre of attention of all town and it reminded us our times in Indonesia where kids and women were asking if they can touch my hair😊
After Port Morant we sailed all the way west along southern coast of Jamaica stopping in different places to explore the island. In the beginning we were planning to spend at least two months here, but after checking in with authorities we were told that if we stay longer than one month each of us need to make visa. And it would cost 350 US dollar each! Of course that sounded crazy for us so we changed our plans and decided to spend 30 days cruising in Jamaica and then sail to the Cayman Islands where my parents would take a flight back to Lithuania.
So later we sailed to Kingston. Spend few days visiting the town and of course did not loose the possibility to see the legendary Bob Marley Museum. Than bought more provisions and continued sailing west.
ONE OF MY PERSONAL DREAMS BECAME REAL!
Sailing along the coast anchored at Portland Bight and Great Pedro Bluff bays. Later sailed to Black River and dropped a hook there. Soon we were welcomed by few crocodiles swimming around the boat and later saw more of them going by dinghy in the river. Not nice feeling, believe me! Next, sailed to beautiful Bluefield’s bay. And for the Christmas Eve anchored in front of crazy chaotic Savana la Mar town. It was raining all day, but being at anchor somewhere in Jamaica with Christmas lights on and 12 dishes on table surrounded by your family was in all ways something very special….
And at the end we reached Jamaica western part -Negril and set sails to Caymans.
To be honest we were happy of visiting this island and choosing less touristic southern coast. In a whole month we met just 7 sailboats! Few of them in Kingston and Black River and elswhere we were sailing totally alone…It was a special country, sometimes chaotic, sometimes too loud or too wild, with crocodiles or manatees around, with muddy and transparent waters. But most important with very friendly people around. And despite all the rumours which you find on internet about how dangerous it can be in this country we never felt unsafe or worried at all.
....and than it came -Caymans!
We did know nothing about these islands, except that they are fiscal paradise and one of the leading international financial centres in the world. Also heard about the big quantity of high level hotel complexes. And that’s true. All the coast is full of them! But if you are able to put back to these buildings and concentrate your vision on sea, you will definetily enjoy its amazing beaches! You can walk along miles and miles and enjoy incredibly blue water and white sand.
Cayman Islands consist of of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, which are located to the south of Cuba and northeast of Honduras, between Jamaica and Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula.
We visited the most western island- the Grand Cayman. It has an international airport from where my parents took a flight back to Europe. In the capital Georgetown we did check in and to our surprise it appeared to be totally free. For the first month.
Later for the second month each person should pay 50$ fee which grows to 100 $ for the third one. Each sailboat must take a mooring boy as anchoring in front Georgetown is totally forbidden. We had no expectation about this place, but after all were surprised about its clear water, impresive reefs and sea life! Ant that’s just in front of the city centre with huge cruising boats staying behind us!
Town its self is quite small with lots of influence from US and streets full of tourist from the cruising boats.
In a Georgetown we spend New Year and entered 2020. New years eve were lucky to meet one Lithuanian girl Laima and together with her great family became good friends. Thanks to them we could enjoy our time in Caymans and learn more about it! Linkejimai tau, Laima, ir visai tavo seimai nuo musu visu!
Cayman islands consist of big coral ring with the shallow lagoon named North Sound, inside. Get inside is quite tricky because the path through the corals is very narrow. But once inside you find all weather protected lagoon and some nice anchorages. One must be careful sailing around- depths in many places are less than a meter, but once you get use to constantly looking deep meter all becomes more easy.
North Sound has 2 small creeks, Governors and Mitchells Creeks, connected with many small channels with luxuries villas around. Most of the time we were anchoring inside them, because of their proximity to the main road, supermarkets and nice beaches. Spend most time going to swim to the sea, making trips to the capital, shopping, meeting with Laima,s family and other friends- Donata ,Don ,Barbie and enjoying our friend Remis and his family visit on board.
Except from being most expensive island we ever been it is cruising friendly and very safe place. Prices of everything are very high, so if you plan to come by your boat, load it full of provisions and you will appreciate it! Don’t expect wild nature or unspoiled areas, at least on land. But for those loving diving , rich life under the water and white sand beach, it’s an ideal place to stop.
Yes!!! We are back! In our floating house Grain de Sable… And for me there were moments in the last years that to think of beeing back here togather and with the best present the life can offer you it was possible just in my best dreams.
JURA, this is the name of the most important crew member- our almost 17 month old baby boy . He is… (I'm the father so for sure not objective…) THE BEST..
Now everything on board is different: We sail in total different way, the boat doesn't look the same (now is prepared for a non stop moving baby), our routine is no routine at all… It is not possible to program anything now for us!!! Jura is onboard:)...
Everything is different with plenty plenty plusses and very little minuses. OF COURSE we are more tired but continue smiling and enjoying life afloat.
So this season we started in Aruba. And at the moment we are still in Cayman Islands preparing to leave very soon to Honduras bay islands . On the way to Caymans we stopped and spend whole month sailing in the wild and wonderful Jamaica. The sailing was great- easterly winds and happy Genoa-Jib-Pole sail with Lithuanian grandparents on board giving us a very very BIG help!
But we promise will try to write more about that soon ( baby on board means BABY on board...means BABY ON BOARD:). No time in other words:)
Have been in silent sooooo long! But as you see, here we are again. Back on our boat , back to sailing life, back back back....
Soon we will write about our past adventures and try to give an update of latest news ( very BIG news!:)))
But for the moment we leave you here with our boat areal view which our friends from neighbour boat made few days ago. After sailing from Aruba to Jamaica now we are here at anchor in Governors Creek in Grand Cayman island.
His name is BERT and it was supposed to be a tropical storm and pass over BONAIRE!!!! Murphy,s law!....Who could imagine that in the island which supposed to be hurricane free in the middle of JUNE tropical storm could come?
We sailed south to hide from the storms....but it appears its safer there up than here.. Well at least for these days...because in reality, this what happened few days ago is really very rare.
After 4 tiring days of sailing south from BVI we arrived to Bonaire. .It was fast, but windy, squally and very wet trip. WInds from the beam with the seas crashing directly to the side of the boat and inside the cockpit....But the worst was not that. Because of the waves we had to close all the hatches inside, so during the day it was authentic sauna down in.... Tropics are tropicks, and what can we do:)
Poor Epo and Zika! They suffered that heat and waves too and were very brave going to toilet with such a movement! Luckily some flying fishes were coming to visit us at nights, so at least our cats could have fresh fish for dinner each night.
Anyway all went well and our Grain with the 4 reefed sails on sailed faster than ever and brought us safely to Bonaire where before mentioned surpise of BERT was waiting us...
We knew it was forming already before leaving BVI.. .But ,sincerely, thought and hoped it will pass much more north than ABC islands . So decided to sail south and hope for the best. But once arriwed here and checked weather forecast again saw that famous BERT didnt want turn north!!!! It was passing directly over Trininad and Tobago bringing 50 knots of winds with torrential rain and continuing west towards Venezuela.
Here in Bonaire weather forecast was announcing tropical storm risk. So of course every body started preparing for the worst. So do we. In Bonaire is not allowded to anchor, so all the boats must stay on mooring buoys (10 usd per day) or go to marina. Quite a few boats day before strong winds arrived chose to leave to the harbour. But we decided to stay. Checked better mooring buoys and huge concrete blocks suporting the ropes down below and thought its safer to stay here than being in the marina. All what we did was we dived to attach extra lines directly to the blocks(we were attach with 6 ropes finally!), tied everything on the deck, had lights, extra lines, and rain jackets prepared and waited for the worst watching movies and reading books... But luckily. strong winds didnt touch Bonaire at night all we got was maximum 40 knots of gust and some rain....Nothing scary or to be worried about. But it was nice experience and yes...nice reminding that hurricane season is already here. No jokes!
...so now for at least a few weeks we are staying here in BONAIRE enjoying amazing clear waters and snorkeling and diving almost everyday. We were lucky to find our friends from sy FAIR PLAY we met in Tobago here. They have diving equipment and compresor on boat, so what can be better! Egoi is making dives every two days!!!! In a one of the best diving places in all Caribbean!...
Good by BVI!.....time to sail south and continue our Caribbean journey...
Time is flying so fast and 2 and a half monthes spend in British Virgin Islands are gone...Even though it was not enough. We enjoyed this sailing paradise so much that in some islands and bays if we could, we would spend minimum 2 weeks more.!..
But season of storms and hurricanes is already here and we do not feel prepared enough to spend it sailing here in the North ..Grain de Sable is a home for us and our cats- too important to put her on any risk.. Thats why we leave. To Bonaire and later CUracao. These islands are out of official hurricane belt where the possibilities of great storms are significaly smaller than in any norhern caribbean . Also these islands are dry, so for our Grain it will help a lot. After the last summer season spent in fresh water river in Suriname, lets say, this time we prefer to be in a drier place
( but thats doesnt mean we didnt enjoy Suriname- we loved it!)
This is also the reason why we are not sailing to Trinidad or Grenada, where most cruisers sail to hide from the hurricanes. They are very wet places as well..... And our Grain need to be hauled out and get dry..
We have 440 nm around to go , weather forecast looks good ( east , soutseast winds 10-20 kn)...adn if all Ok in 4 days we are in Bonaire. Enjoying another great island, beaituful waters, snorkeling and waiting for a visit of our friends-Mikel, Cristina and Amelie!
...It was a real pleasure to sail here in BVI,....and honestly, we feel quite sad leavig them,,,
But boats are made to sail, and we - to travel:)
So ..write you soon from BONAIRE!
Time is flying!...
Between discovering up and down the water worlds in BVI our days just flew away....We are in beginning of June ! Still, in BVi, but sad to say not for a long anymore...
Hurricane season has already started...and our amazing time in this incredible archipelago is finishing. But what a time!!!....
We have sailed all over around, anchored in stunning anchorages and broke the record of times we dropped the anchor per day...If we would count all the times we changed the places and anchored here it would probably be more times than in entire trip around the world with RagaineII:)..
till now It would definitely be the islands number one for cruising on our list!... Yes, of course, there are pluses and minuses here, like in any other place in Caribbean....but generilising all- this is the place!..... Maybe the local culture and people are less curious and communicative than in countries like Dominica ,
Grenada and Tobago, but the nature, landscape, bay, caves, rocks, white beaches, incredibly transparent water and AMAZING under water world is wining all that!
Lots of boats and especially unbelievable number of charter catamarans make most of the places crowdy, but the great thing is that in afternoon most of the anchorages stays empty because charters boats leaves to some few famous places with beach bars and restaurants...And then we can have this privilege to enjoy peace and shining starts above alone .....
Sincerely....we love BVI,,,,,
Who knows , maybe next season we are back here again, because cruising 2 months a half it was still not enough..
Our Grain served us good and sailed us safely all around here...During the time on BVI She had more people on board than ever ( 18+ 2 coming tomorrow!!!) and made that all of them could enjoy their hollydays :)....And of course let us earn some money for being able to bring her to Curacao, do all necessary repairs...and by tickets to Europe to visit our families and friends.
Our cats the same, got to be familiar with place, start sailing sleeping on main sail and discover that apart from mosquitoes and flies there are many birds flying around whom they can be ready to attack (unfortunately birds supposed to be more clever than they think and ever got too close to the cats).
And we the same, got in love to the magic life below and spend more time snorkeling that walking around:)... Nowhere did we see so many Turtles, Sting Rays and Eagel rays as here! ... Morning swim before the breakfast it became our morning greeting to all water creatures swimming around the boat...
Our favorite spots here became Peter Island and Deadmans Bay, Virgin Gorda and the Baths, Guana islands and Monkey point and of course Trelly bay, place next to Airport which converted to our base where we picked up our guests and leave them. We discovered a perfect place to anchor and all the time were coming there used it. Close to the shore and most important with a free WiFi which we were able to use from one bar. This bay used to be incredible full, but to our surprise our spot was always free waiting us to use it:)...
Now that the high season is over bays are less crowded and the only boats we meet are charter ones- mostly catamarans. Our Grain sometime looks like the last existing cruiser and monohul, shining blue and making big contrast to all white boats floating around. Like a black sheep in a white sheeps crowd. We are starting to miss cruisers families and couples anchoring around . But this will be back next season:).. For sure. Even though, we are still so lucky to get known a few but very nice sailors whom we hope we will meet again soon.
First- how lucky we are to be here!... This is what we keep saying every time we arrive to new BVI island and jump to the crystal water !-. How lucky we are to be able to sail here with our own boat, to have plenty of time to enjoy any anchorage we like, to snorkel is amazingly clear waters and see stunning sunsets almost every day!...
This is the main thing we love about BVI- it makes us feel soooooooooooooooo good !!!
It reminds us natural park of Kimono in Indonesia...not people not culture and not the wildlife(I wish here were Komodo dragons too)...but all these dry and almost wild islands close to each other brings us back when we were sailing with my father and sy RagaineII in Indonesia. Super nice memories!
But now we are here in BVI, almost a month cruising and enjoying as much as we can. Each day there are new things we see and new things we learn.
So some of them let, s write here. Maybe for some one planning to sail here it can be helpful :
First- entry documents and rules.
BVI islands consist of more than 50 islands archipelago, where you can find nice anchorages almost in each islands you stop. Knowing that we decided to stay here more time than anywhere before - almost 3 months! But for that there are some important things necessary to know when deciding in order to avoid any surprises.
BVI immigration rules in respect of all non-British Virgin Islanders entering the Territory are- 30 days permit of staying in the Country. Visitors who wish to stay longer than that need to apply for an extension.. So did we.. When we got close to 30 day limit came to Road town and went for extensionn. It was easier than we thought. Some nice explanation about the reason why we want stay longer, 10 dollars each and another stamp in the passport allowing our visit to be legal till 26 of June.
So this is the part of immigration. After comes customs and our boat. Grain the Sable same as we needed extension. And here again all simple. Just ”liitle” bit more expensive. After 30 days of staying in BVI we had to get temporary import for our Grain, which is valid for all year....and cost 200 dollars. That,s it. And that's what we have:)
But there is another way to extend your visit in BVI. Like in most of other countries when your legal time is finishing. Go out of the country and come back with new entry. So most of the cruisers do like this- clear out from BVI and sail to USVI (United States Virgin Islands)which are just 5 miles away. Make there an entry and exit and come back to BVI with another 30 days permit. Difficult part is that USVI belong to US and its need visa to get there. Cruisers than apply for ESTA- 90 days visa which you can apply online. And here comes the interesting part of that. To make the Visa valid is necessary first go to USVI by ferry(government require first entry make by official transport), stay few hours or more.than back on ferry, check out and enter to BVI. Then take a boat and sail to USVI to make boat entry. Again check in, check out and back to BVI with another 30 days permit both for boat and the crew. You avoid to pay 200 dollars, visit USVI and continue sailing in BVI.
We knew that and had it as our preferred choice. But my passport is becoming totally full with no place for stamps(and for VISA!) ...so finally decided not to risk and choose little bit more expensive but less complicated way of extension.
Also, it could be an option sail back to Saint Martin and come back. Its cheaper, but...you have almost 24 hours sailing against wind...so not very attractive option:)
Anchorages and mooring buys.
It is a charter paradise, so you could imagine, how many boats sail around. But surprisingly (maybe because we arrived at the end of the season) we found many places quite empty and during the nights is some bays we stayed totally alone.
Most of the bays in the islands have mooring buoys installed to protect corral and sea grass...What is nice....but...each of these buoys cost 30USD per night...What is not very nice (imagine paying 30USD every day. In a month you are almost 1000 dollars more poor!), but....if you a good in anchoring and dedicate some time to look for a good spot you can always find a place to drop anchor giving enough space for boats on mooring buoys if swinging. We are here one month and till now we did not have to take a buoy. Charter boat likes to use them- it,s easy, no worries about anchor drag and so on...But for us taking a buoy is not just economically cruel choice..We prefer to use our old, but trusted rocna anchor and stay just on our own risk (too many sad stories about the boats lost ashore after the mooring buoy rope broke)...
Taking a buoy could have just one good reason- they give you a bag of ice, many litters of water and sometime showers on shore for free (after paying 30USD of course:)) It is not a critic. Actually it is really great how BVI protect their waters and corals. We just wanted to say that if you are the one who cares about $ don't worry because there are still plenty of place for dropping your anchor at sandy spot not damaging neither the corals nor your pocket:)
This is another important thing to write about. It is expensive place. No doubt. Except alcohol. What is not bad, no? We knew that so tried to load our boat full of stuff in Saint Martin from Super U supermarket...But still. Things do not last so long so here we still need to visit supermarkets and buy some food.
And here same as in any other place- longer you stay better you know the island and learn some tricks. There are few good supermarkets in capital- Road Town , Tortola where most of the cruisers stop just for a day for shopping. You can pick a mooring buoy just for few hours ( if you do not spend a night you do not need to pay mooring price) and make tour to the markets.
Forget good diary products, french cheeses and fresh meat because they are limited choice and crazy expensive!...And the bread! 4USD per bar! After a long time spent in french islands this is really hard part. Luckily we have oven on board so home maid bread is even better:) Most of the fruits and veggies are also too too much....so we had to limit ourselves with potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, cabbages and bananas. What is not so bad. All the rest canned or frozen. Typical “Caribbean”:)
If you come straight from Europe it can make difficult to get use, but after spending whole 7 months in tropics we are used to that. IF i had to choose- fresh tomato salad and stake of snorkeling with turtles almost every day?...We stay with turtles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Amazing!!!! ....In any island in any bay. And you know why? Because water here is the clearest water we saw in all Caribbeans!
Visibility is so great that you can see the bottom even at 12 meter depth!. Really is something incredible!...But the life under is quite poor... Especially speaking about small fishes. Comparing to southern Caribbean islands here is really epty. But what we see a lot and soooo beautiful are many rays, turtles, barracudas, big tarpons and some sharks!...Because of so great visibility we can snorkel in deeper waters where bigger creatures appears:)
Caves, wrecks and underwater huge rocks makes snorkeling really interesting here also. And the treasures you can find at bottom:) People loose so many things and even do not try to find them! Better for us, because our collection is constantly growing!... Anchor, snorkeling glasses and tube, sun glasses, hats, ... Right from the bottom. Good for Ocean, good for us:)
Things to do ashore.
OHHHH.........here all depends on your pocket:) Because main attraction lets say is going to restaurants or beach bars lets say. Thats what all the cruising guide reccomends and writes about. And that's what mostly cruisers (mainly charter boats) do, because there are really nice nice places to eat and interesting bars with good live music at night.
But also we found that many places has nice paths to walk, go up the hills , visit other remote bays, and of course great beaches . Most of the islands are so small that walking you can reach their other side easy. We like that.
SO these are the things we got to know about BVI till now. Enough for telling that these islands are one of our favorite places to cruise. And it's a place to visit by Boat
. That,s for sure!.....
So we are sooooo lucky!!!!
So, finally we arrived to BVI- our last destination before heading south to Curacao to hide ourselves and our Grain from hurricanes. And we are so happy that we reserved almost three monthes just for this place!!!!
In BVI here are more than 50 islands and all of them are so close , that in one day you can visit more than one. ...And the water.....WOW!!!!!!!!!!.AMAZING!!!SO transparent we didnt see yet in any place in Caribbeans!...We just have visited 4 places, but its enough to have more than great impresion about it...
We were told by many cruisers we met how turistic and crowded and busy and expensive they are,,,,but after hundreds boats on anchor in Marigot bay in Saint Martin any place looks crowdy anymore::))))
...Expensive? yes....it is...but grenadines were as much or even more expensive so we got used to that::)
Also the high season is going to the end,,,,so better for us :)
Hope to write you more next days and of course...photos photos and photos...!
It,s amazing , but we never get bored about this...same sea..same sun....but every corner has something unique...and hope for many years ahead we will continue enjoying that!.:)
Like now- this unique place-BVI:)
Rafa , Marta, gracias por aconsejar nos para venir aqui!!!!!!!!!!!:....Sois muy Grandes!!!
That's right. We are already one month here in Marigot Bay between hundreds and hundreds of sailing boats around. All types and all nationalities!
This island is a special place- wouldn, t say it's our favorite island, not at all(too much crowded, very dry and too many ugly building near the beach, especially in a dutch side), but it is very useful stop and I think many sailors would agree with me.
First of all it is still Europe, like Martinique, Guadeloupe and St. Bart, so you can stay as long as you want here. But half of this island is French and other half- Dutch, what makes it even more interesting. Going by boat from one side to other you need to check out and check in, but going by land or by dinghy -no:))Also it is really safe place, not just speaking about the crimes, but also for the good protection for sailing boats. It has a huge lagoon inside, where you can enter either through French side or Dutch side bridge. Inside lagoon many sailors leave their boats for hurricane season. For the moment do not plan this option is not for us-even if it is so protected still it looks dangerous. Not because of you, or your boat but because it is so full and there are so many boats that in a hurricane strength winds any other dragging boat could be a real danger. But now, during the good season this lagoon is very practice. No waves, good depthh and very good holding everywhere. It also connects both sides of the island which can be easy accessible just with the dinghy. There are many boat yards, many marinas, and even more chandlery shops and services around. Cruisers ¨Meka¨for fixing boats. And it is duty free islands too so everything, and not just alcohol and tobaccoo but also fuel and other stuff is tax free!
So if you need something for your boat when you are in Caribbean sea this is the island!:) For the hurricane season its safer in Trinidad or Grenada, but during the trade winds - this is the place!
As for anchoring place we chose a French side, Mari got bay, outside lagoon. It is more quiet here, less super yachts and crazy fast dinghies and nice friendly town ashore. Water is much nicer and bottom is full of Sea stars!
Also, it is a good place for doing day sailing trips to other well protected bays. Like grande Case or Anse Marcel or to Tintamarre (super nice snorkeling- lots of Turtles and Sting Rays just next to the boat) island.
We visited all of them- but this time not alone, with our airbnb guests. They came in a right moment in a right place because here in Saint Martin we also had to use the opportunity of all the offers and buy many things which later in the other places would cost much more money.
Our old Yamaha engine finally said good by, so now in his place stands brand new Tohatsu 3,5 hp 2 strokes engine!... Very good deal from Budget Marine !.
Other shopping on the list was the life raft. Tried to have it serviced, but unfortunately it was too old(from 1996!) and we had to by new one. And here appeared our good friend Andreas from SY ¨Luna¨ who was looking for bigger one for his boat and agreed for much lower price sell us his 1 year old off shoree 6 person raft. So another great deal.
And finally the anti fouling paints, primer and epoxy. We found a really good value boat paint shop in the entrance canal of french side where almost all the stuff was a half price comparing to the main shops.
And of course alcohol- again duty free, what's means that 1 box of beer coast 10 euros, bottle of Rum 3,5 and wine. 3. These prices will triple in BVI so again. Dinghy ride to the shop and full loaded back to boat!
Now our boats is more heavy than ever, but it was important to take all the advantages of this island because later all that would cost crazy moneys.
......and our cats! Finally, they have passports and now they are french:)... I don't know if they are happy to be french, but British Virgin Islands are quite strict with pets import- so better be legal and have all papers done.
In two days we sail there and plan to stay there till middle of June. There are so many islands around so hope we will have time to visit them:) And if not next year will be:) Caribbean sea will continue under Grain, s keel!!!
Winter is over, carnival is over, and our full time cruising&relaxing time too...We are in Saint Martin , anchored in Marigot Bay and receiving guests on board. Time to earn some money, because summer is comming and our boat need a work done (mostly on the hull). What means need to buy many things....many!!!! So we are going to dedicate all the three months for Airbnb service and make people comming on our Grain to enjoy as much as possible.
March we are staying here in Saint Martin( the French part of the island. The other half in Dutch) and April and May we will be in British Virgin Islands cruising around many islands of this archipelago.
Hope winds will help us too, because this weeks here was blowing worse than when Christmas winds were blowing in Grenadines and move around is not very possible. So two anchors , lots of chain and rope and wait for calmer days, which we see that are comming soon!!!!!:)........:)
Some pics from our last night shacking and rolling!.. Winds shifted to west and all "well protected bays" became a dance hall- huge swell was entering every bay and making live on boats impossible!!!! We are Ok, our old but very good anchor held perfectly and all is fine, but heard some boats in other islands around were not so lucky......
Looks that this nights is getting calmer and tomorrow to St. Barts!
Time to write some words again.. More than a month passed since the last time we published on our blog and no more updates since then..
But to be sincere everytime i plan to write i find it so dificult to decide how to start and which information to give- write more about islands we are visiting or tell more stories about our life on boat , our thoughts, our doubts, our joy?
That is not easy, but than again- the most dificult is to start, anyting. But once i start words fly alone and the only thing i need is to stop in a right moment for not to write an endless novel...
Last time we wrote on our blog we were leaving Bequia and Grenadines and sailing up to Martinique to meet Egoi parents....This time we had one night sailing, because we didn,t stop neither in St. Vincent nor in St. Lucia. The reason we didn,t stop in any of the bays on the way was the bad reputation of St. Vncent west coast.Last year there was one german sailor killed while on anchor in one of the bays... Not nice story and not nice name for all the island which definitely has so many amazing places to offer.
It is really sad how one incident can affect all island. But sailors community is really small and internet nowadays is very powerfull. It will take time for St.vincent to get back the welcoming soul...
Hope more good stories will appear and cruisers be back visiting this island and enjoying so friendly people and interesting culture. So many sailors write just complains about that and that, about small roberies or incidents which of course do happens when you travel abraod. But at the same time there are so many of good things happening, no?
So after very relaxed sailing we arrived to Martinique. Here we had to pick Egoi parents who came to spent with us all 3 weeks and sail togather till Guadeloupe.
Martinique belongs to France and ,yes, even if people are black, climate is tropical and pelicans are flying around, believe you still feel you are in France. For good and for bad. But after spending 4 months cruising around caribbean islands and not seeing any big supermarket beeing back to Europe it means just for good:) You can,t imagine how happy you can feel when again you can have yougurts, cheese and of course good and cheap wine on boat! Now we understand why so many criuisers sail to Martinique even just for provisioning:)
We arrived to the southern part of Martinique Cul-de-Sac du Marin bay. Probably it was the first time when we saw so many boats on anchor in one place! Hundreds of all kind of sailing boats anchored at the end of the bay in from of a huge Le marin marina. Spectacular!
And there is this forest of masts we met Adrian and his famyly-Ester and Julia, our friends from Graciosa:) We had super time beeing back all together again. And Adrian helped us to fix our outboard engine.
And of course we had super news for our cats- Epoxy and Sikaflex.. We found a good food and good material for their toilet:) Carefour you are the best!
In a few day Egoi parents were already on board with lots of kisses, smile and happiness to see them here with us on our Grain! Again boat is full of goat cheese, chorizo, good ham, "pipas"-sinflower seeds ( special request from Egoi:), rolling tabacco, pimiento rojo and anchovies!
But time to move, so after making an huge shopping and visiting the island by car we started sailing north spending every few days in different anchorages ..
We stopped St, Anne, Grande Anse Bay and St Pierre...All superb places an especially Grande Anse! The water there was so transparent and life down so intense that we could not go out of water ! This is what we call the ideal place, where in a moment you wake up the first thing you see is a turtle head! Than jump to the water and snorkel for a loooooong time....After coffee, breakfast and than again to water. This is the life we love!
Sailing along the lee coast of MaritiniqUe the same- was perfect. Lots of winds and no waves at all! Sun all the time and stunning views of Pitons mountains and Pelee Volcano....
Than fast day sailing to Dominique and 2 kilos Barracuda for dinner! In January trades winds shifted more to east and southeast so sailing between the islands became much more pleasent-nothing to compare to crazy Christams Winds in December! (Remi , you would have loved this passage!)
EVEN CATS ENJOYED THE TRIP!
In Dominica we stopped and two places- Roseau in the south and Porstmouth in the north..Actually these are the only places were you can anchor or take a boy because waters around this volcanic and mountainous island are very deep...
Here you are back to real Caribbean life where people are very friendly and beer is cheap:) Unfortunately we could spend there just few days and see just a little. We went to see Midelham waterfalls and did a tour to Indian river... Probably if we were staying there more weeks we would explore the inside much more. But we needed to keep going north and see Guadeloupe because Egoi parets had a flight from trere to Martinique and than back to Basque country. Well you can not see everything. Sometimes we do need to leave amazing places as well ...
But thats why sailing is Caribbean is so great, because after one island you have another waiting you ahead with their new culture, new language, new landscape and new bays. Now we like everything and each place enjoy fully without analyzing was is worth to stop or not...Could be that just a process of traveling and changing `places makes everywhere we go atractive.
Guadeloupe the same as Martinique is Department of France, and it includes the smaller islands of The Saintes and Marie Galante.
So first we went to The Saintes and later sailed to the southwestern part of the main island.
In The Saintes anchored in two places, but because of crazy swell could not explore them fully. There were very few places where we could drop the anchor. Almost everywhere there are mooring boys and you have nothing to do but to use them. We managed to anchor but the swell was so big that after two crazy nights riding like'rock and roll' left this amazing arhipelago for the next time and sailed to River Sens marina in Guodeloupe. Back to civiliaztion-hot showers, cars, supermarkets. There we spend the last days with parents visiting the island and were really surprised to discover how complete and beautiful is this place.
Little bit too french , but really so interesting island. If someone is looking where to spend hollydays in a cold winter of Europe this would be our recommendation..
Cheap flights from Europe, many bays, beaches, mountains, volcano, waterfalls, mangroves, snorkeling, diving, hicking, sailing to small islands around... Just the prices sadly are french too and the language the same:)...In English impooooosible!
And now we are waiting our good friends- Agne and Memo to come and one more week of cruising in Guadeloupe and Saints is waiting!
This is a story about our life journey or better said is a story about our life afloat a sailing boat. Our trips, our adventures, our challenges and problems found on the way. Our everyday life floating and our unforgettable moments of sailing and tasting the worldl!
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"Cruising has two pleasures. One is to go out in wider waters from a sheltered place. The other is to go into a sheltered place from wider waters."
"The lovely thing about cruising is that planning usually turns out to be of little use."
"There are more sharks on the land than in the sea"
If you are going to do something, do it now. Tomorrow is too late.
Don't worry about the world ending today. It's already tomorrow in Fiji.
" Land was created to provide a place for boats to visit."
"A sailor is an artist whose medium is the wind. Live passionately, even if it kills you, because something is going to kill you anyway."
"A bad day at SEA is still better than a good day at work"
"The perfection of a yacht's beauty is that nothing should be there for only beauty's sake."
"Remember 'It was a professional who built the Titanic, It was an amateur who built Noah's Ark"
"Sailing - The art of slowly going nowhere at great expense. "
When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.