On Tour 9 – The Delivery

On Tour 9 – The Delivery

David 2/5/05

Its been a while and plenty has happened. We left St Lucia for Tortola on the 9th of April about 340 miles. Melanie managed to get us an MPS spinaker for the trip. The first day was a great sail getting speeds up to 15 knots on Meltemia. Not being particularly skilled at these cruising sails that come in those stupid socks we could not get the sock down over the thing and managed to get a massive wrap when we tried to drop it. It took us about an hour to untangle it and get it down.

The second day there was no wind and we motored the rest of the way to Tortola.

Mel; I managed to convince them at the sail loft in St Lucia that our boat had a spinnaker that was in there loft. So with our new spinnaker we had our floating hotel room up to a amazing 15 knots. It was pretty funny though because it was actually what is called an MPS or a sort of asymmetrical kite, and came in a sock. Both having spend our time on racing yachts neither of us have ever used a sock, so we were pulling it out of the bag going what do you do with this!?

We are thinking that the sock might accidently get lost. There is also no attachment for the tack on the deck so that we originally hooked it up to a forward leeward cleat on the bow – it looked pretty funny. We them hooked the aline from the tack through the forward windward cleat and back to a primary so we could adjust it like a spinnaker pole and then the hotel room really got cranking. You will be pleased to know that we are not completely foolhardy and for safety reasons (despite our great speed) took it down at dusk.

Which turned out to be a wise choice as we managed to completely knot the thing around the furling headsail. But again don’t stress we managed to unknot it without to much problem. We had a good first nights sailing, but the wind dropped out in the early hours of the morning and we had to motor the entire next day and night arriving in Tortola at about 9.30 am.

I have also decided that my new best friend is Auto, the autohelm, he makes life much easier on the long journeys, I couldn’t think of anything worse than hand steering all the way! You will also be pleased to here that at night we religiously safety harness ourselves to the boat no matter how clam the conditions. On the first night we saw little other boating traffic, maybe 1 or 2 ships off in the distance.

The closer we got to Tortola and the Virgin Islands the greater the traffic esp. cruise ships at first they appear to be a glow of in the distance, eventually turning into floating cities, they closest one past by only a couple hundred meters away – very eerie, resulting in the need for careful watches. The cruise ship thing is huge here with some islands having up to 8 in a day.

One of they funny things they do during the night is just go around in big circles so that the punters think they have travelled long distances in the night, when in reality they may have only travelled a max of 80 – 100 miles, if that!! Alby; Tortola was as expected – kind of strange going back there with the boat. It took 2 days to get on dock and it was a waste of time anyway as none of the work we needed got done on the boat.

We did manage to do a big provision and buy a lot of food and grog as we have been told it is much cheaper in Tortola than in the Bahamas. We managed to catch up with Jim Palmer at Cooper Island while we were there which was really great.

Rocket: Jim came over to the’ Melty’ for dinner and we managed to consume at least three good bottles of Australian red. David had me up at 4.30 am for the trip to San Juan, I’v never felt so seasick or was it hangover?

Alby: we left Tortola on the 15th of April and sailed to San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is a bigger island with a population of 4 million. As we sailed up along the coast it was quite exciting to see a proper city appear with hi rise buildings. lots of offices and shopping centres.

We arrived in San Juan about 5.00 PM contacted customs and immigration and waited on the boat for them to arrive. We were still waiting at midday the next day. San Juan is a large commercial port and not that popular amongst cruisers so they are not really geared up for the likes of us. After much toing and froing we eventually cleared customs and were free to explore Old San Juan.

Old San Juan is a truly fascinating city. Part of it is still walled with 2 really well preserved forts that date back almost 500 years. The city itself is made up of very narrow streets with very old 2 and 3 storey buildings either side. The streets are paved out of blue coble stones that came out in ships as balast.

There are interesting shops and amazing little bars everywhere. The Puerto Ricans are very friendly and really know how to party. We also spent some time in newer parts of San Juan and went to a large shopping mall similar to Chadstone and the like. It was not until we got there that we realized how much we actually missed a real civilised city.

Melt was amazed she wasn’t that keen on going at first, but for someone who does not like shopping it was hard to drag her away. We met a guy named Dan on a crusing boat in the harbour. He turned out to be a realy good guy and we spent some time touring around San Juan with him.

We left San Juan at 4.30 pm on the 18/4. As we were passing out of the harbor we were boarded by the US Coast guard and the did a full safety check of the boat. One thing we didn’t have that they wanted to see was a Trash Management policy. They wanted to see a document that outlined the way we manage garbage disposal. I had to write one out and get him to sign it.

We were planning to stop at Provodenciales which is part of the Turks and Caicos Group and about 340 miles on from San Juan. We were making really good time and we were going to arrive at Provo in the middle of the night which was not a good look for getting in through the reefs so we diverted to South Caicos and spent a night on anchor in there.

We went a shore to make a phone call and the only phone there didn’t work. It was like stepping into a time warp with stray dogs everywhere. Our plan at this point was to sail 60 miles across the Caicos Bank to Provo. It has an average depth of approx 4 metres with lots of shifting sand banks and coral heads so we needed a good sunny day for this to work. After watching banks of cloud drift across and build up and the spaces of sun shine shorten we had to abandon crossing the bank.

So we left South Caicos and headed in the general direction of Abaco in the Bahamas. Shortly after leaving South Caicos we got hammered by one of the most violent thunderstorms I have ever experienced. We copped over 60 knots with blinding rain and lightning all around. We had a lee shore with fringing reef and at one point we were motoring flat out and making no headway at all, fortunately it only lasted about an hour.

We had planned to go to Rum Cay, but again it didn’t look like we would get there in daylight and neither of us felt like standing off for daylight so we pushed on. Late that afternoon another thunderstorm was brewing. We tried to dodge around it but had no luck and got hammered again.

Not as bad as the morning but still pretty scary. We were better prepared and had all sails down before it hit. We copped a lightning strike so close that it tripped the resets on all our instruments. After this we didn’t care if we had to travel in the opposite direction to our course we managed to dodge another 3 thunder cells over the rest of our journey. We arrived in Marsh Harbor at Abaco on the 24/4 to find out that we needed Police checks and medicals to get work permits.

This was a major frustration as the Police checks are taking for ever to come through from Australia. If we had been told before we got here we could have arranged them earlier. After hanging around on dock for a couple of days starting the process of getting medicals and Fed Exing requests for Police Checks back to Australia it was just about time for Freddy Haes and his mate Adrian France to arrive.

We had been speaking to them about the possability of spending some time with us on the boat before we went on charter. So with Fasty and Diz on board we set out to explore the Abaco Sea which seems to have an average depth of about 3 metres. Fowl cay was the first stop for a snorkel on some realy good coral bommies in about 5 metres of water on the Atlantic side or the Cay.

Lots of marine life and some really good swim throughs. From there on to Fishers Bay on Great Guana Island. This place is famous for its local beach bar on the surf side of the island called Nippers, we had a quiet drink there finding out that Sunday afternoon was the day that really went of.

The following morning we sailed north to Manjack Cay and found a beautiful little bay to anchor up in on the Northern end. Great for swimming and a lovely beach to walk along. The next day was Sunday so you guessed it back to Great Guana (already nicknamed Great Goanna Island) for a Sunday drink at Nippers.

There was a crowd there and all into the Rum Slushies that attack by stealth, just ask Mel. The next stop was south to Hopetown on Elbow Cay famous for its light house. They reckon the most photographed in the world.

Further south to Little Harbour back on Abaco for a drink at the famous Petes Pub which is a bar right on the beach and no more than a veranderh, no floor, no walls and at dusk absolutely mosquito ridden. Beer here is US$4.00 for a stubby or can where ever you go, so we don’t spend much time in the bars, much nicer having a beer on the boat.

Packaged beer from the shop is about US$40.00 a case. That was as far south as we got. On our way back to Marsh Harbour we snorkeled at Sandy Cay which was nothing short of spectacular, and anchored up for a night at Tahiti Beach which was another great swimming beach.

Back at Marsh Harbour we thought we would be on charter prep. but my Police check is still not through. We loose our next charter because I cant get a work permit without a police check.

So back out exploring with Fasty and Diz. Diz had to leave the next day but Fasty managed to extend his trip and help us find anchorages such as North end of Man O War Cay, Treasure Cay and of coarse we had to get back to nippers for another Rum Slushy session.

This time we met some Yanks that invited us to a BBQ at a fairly nice holiday shack at Treasure Cay. You stept of the deck on to the beach that has apparently been voted into National Geographics top ten. It was a beautiful beach but I think I’ve seen 10 better in Oz.

Anyway it was another good night. All this time I’ve had Fasty and Diz helping me with jobs on the boat, from polishing topsides to back flushing cooling systems. It was great to have some help.

We also subscribed to a wireless internet conection which is great for keeping up with the footy scores, GO CATS, it is also good for internet telephone. Download Skype and talk over the internet computer to computer for free or dial a land line Bahamas to Oz for about 4 cents a minute (does need a strong wireless signal).

Mothers day we took the lap top in the dinghy to place of better reception and we all managed to call our Mums. Amazing technology!

12/4 We are back in Marsh Harbour, Fasty left yesterday, it has been fantastic to spend some time on the boat with friends from home. The real problem we still have is no Police Report for me. It seems there are another couple of David Jeffreys around the country with serious police records, apparently one has the same birthday as me.

I have had Dad chasing it up for me back home and when he got this news he actually asked me if I had been in any trouble with the Police that he didn’t know about. Any way it is getting beyond a joke, we have missed one charter and look like missing more. Each charter we miss costs us about US$1000.00 and the cops home in Oz are just saying it takes time. Melanies came back in just over 24 hours. I’ve obviously latched on to the only Melanie Anne Steeden in the world!

14/4

Still no Police Check but we did get to the presentation party of a major game fishing comp. at one of the near by marinas. It was amazing, about 250 boats valued at between 1.5 and 6 mil with a few that could have been worth anything. Alot of the around the 60 ft mark with massive towers on them, 6 to 8 fishing rods each worth about 5 grand each and you should have seen there tenders.

About 25ft center console with twin 300 horse Yamaha 4 strokes. One had 2 of those new 275 HP super charged Mercurys. Now I’ve never been a Merc man but they looked hot! Anyway back to the presentation. Melanie started up conversation with this guy named Jack Thulius who had a Bertram 60 (nice boat). It turned out he owned a company named Black Bart Lures.

His company made most of the heavy fishing tackle all these boats were using. as it turned out his rod builder was a guy from New Castle in Oz. He said this guy was the best rod builder he had found in the world, only he was more interested in going fishing than building rods.

Anyway this guy started buying us slushy rum drinks and telling us about the fishing game. It is amazing it costs around 25 or 30 grand just to enter these compsand you have to turn up with the folding stuff, no cheques or credit cards. Then those that win prizes win cash so you see blokes walking around with little black brief cases with 2 or 3 hundred grand in them.

Funny game coz they spend a fortune on there boats but the marlin dont know that, so the bloke with the smallest cheapest boat can still win. It took quite a few Rum Slushies for Jack to convey all this to us so Rocket and I were pretty trashed by the time we left, in fact so trashed we both fell of our push bikes on the trip back to our Marina.

15/4

Massive Hangover! Here is an adjunct from Fasty, just some of his thoughts on his time with us. Hi everyone, it’s Fred Haes (Fasty) writing a short article for Alby and Rocket’s website.

I’m currently seated in “their” luxury catamaran on the last day of a fabulous 2 week holiday. Don’t know if they told you, but apparently the Moorings prohibit them referring to the yacht as “theirs”, or having any personal memorabilia on display. So while off charter, this place looks just like how you’d imagine their lounge and backyard will look like when they finish building in Metung! I took up their kind offer to visit them while they’re off charter.

My old Air Force mate Adrian France (aka Diz) has come over too. He had to return a few days ago, and I’m flying out later today.   The yacht is currently based in Marsh Harbour which is on the Abaco Sea, off Abaco Island, in The Bahamas. The whole sea has an average depth of 3m and the bottom is sand with some patches of seagrass.

The result is that all the cruising is done in a bright, flat, shallow turquoise pool of water. When it’s calm we can clearly see the shadow of the rig on the bottom while cruising. There are a string of coral cays around the sea upon which the Yanks have splashed their spare cash into holiday homes which vary from nice homes to absolute palaces.

They fly out from Miami which is only 1hr away. The houses have all the toys, and since Yanks can’t live without cable TV and high-speed internet, there are wireless internet “hotspots” all over the place. We are currently hacking into someone’s home network to get this connection and post this article on Alby and Rocket’s website!   Some of the cays have fringing coral reefs and we have had a great time exploring them. The scale and variety of marine life is more stunning than the coral. Huge rays, Barracuta and Tuna combined with the usual wide variety of coral fish.

We haven’t done much sailing since there’s either been not enough wind, or it’s been on the nose and we’ve felt lazy to work into it! The yacht weighs 33 tonnes but has a good sized rig on her, so she does sail quite well. I’ve never lived aboard a cat before, and will certainly find it difficult going back to living on my “little” mono back in Australia.

This cat’s got air-conditioning which has made living aboard very comfortable during days of thunderstormy weather when we have had to stay inside. There is a large bimini (a canvass sunshade) over the cockpit area, so most meals and entertaining have been in the cockpit. Mel has spoilt us rotten with her range of first-class meals, cocktails etc. She’s an excellent hostess. It’s been great to help pitch in on the boat and allow her to have a break.

She’s been enjoying her sleep-ins and doesn’t come out of bed until Diz and I have done the previous night’s dishes and made the first round of coffees! David has had us on the tools and with polishing rags in hand…….neither of which were in the brochure that accompanied their invitation!

David is bloody good around the boat and has built on his mechanical expertise displayed during our J24 and Etchells sailing days a few years ago. He runs a great operation.

We’ve had some fun giving Mel a refresher in basic navigation, using charts, D/R nav, position lines etc. she’s picked it up pretty quickly. The yacht has a comprehensive suite of nav gear aboard, so D/R nav is not really required, but Alby and I both believe in the practice of running a D/R plot to back-up the electronics in case of failure or shorting of the electronics.

Not looking forward to the 24hrs of travelling to get home, or the 10hr time zone change once I get home, but the experience here makes the effort very worthwhile. It’s not often one gets an opportunity or invitation like this!

See you later, Fasty

Well its been a while since our last On Tour and a lot has happened. We have had distractions with the boys over here but all is good except still no police check. Any news or contact from home is always welcome.

All for now.

David & Mel

On Tour 6 – Is This A Real Job?

On Tour 6 – Is This A Real Job?

Well a lot has happened since our last update. Last saturday we had to leave Tortola as our 28 day Visa had expired. We went to St Thomas for the day because that was the easiest, so we could get a new visa on re entry. On Sunday we caught the Ferry to Virgin Gorda (meaning fat virgin) and spent a day there.

Our first impression was of a Caribbean island that was as we imagined. Not caught up in the chase of the tourist dollar. It is beautiful and the people are very friendly. Not overly developed at all. We were there on a Sunday not a soul to be seen, all the locals were at church.

We went for a wander around town and then hitch hiked to The Baths. The guy who picked us up was not even going that way but still gave us a tour of the southern end of the island. even showed us where a cricket match was to be played later in the day -The Baths (check the photos on the web site when we get them up) is the most popular attraction on Virgin Gorda and absolutely beautiful, with great snorkeling and fantastic caves to explore.

We decided to hire some snorkeling gear and have swim, we ended up perched on a rock enjoying paradise. A couple of rastas pulled up and decided to share the rock with us. They were from St Lucia and lovely guys. They insisted that because we shared our rock that we had to share there beer and rum, how could we refuse. After an hour or so they moved on just after we caught up with a couple of Aussies. You would not believe it the lady, Del was on the exact same flight as us from Brisbane and her friend David had done quite a bit sailing with Mike Job from RQYC. Mike was my RYA examiner.

After chatting for a while they invited us to sail up to the Bitter End Yacht Club in North Sound with them (approx 12 mile to the other end of the island) and then stay the night on there Sunsail hire boat. They took us to dinner at the BEYC filled us full of Rum and Beer and then insisted on paying, again how could we refuse! After dinner we were invited for drinks on another charter boa called Banana Twist with 2 Americans, also very friendly insisting we drink more with them (just what we needed). We did have some trouble finding the Banana Twist in the dark so we drove around the bay at midnight yelling out BAA-NAA- NAAAH at the top of our lungs and funnily enough got an invite from another boat to come aboard and party.

We woke early the next morning both feeling like crap knowing we needed to get back to Tortola to prepare for our trip to St Lucia. The thing we will really remember Del and David for is there gift, a tube of Vegemite! Any way back to Tortola. We had lots to do and many people to thank and say good buy to. I had to get a hair cut as a condition of employment which I put of to the last minute. We managed to get a flight booked to StLucia 7/3/05 Alby Well we have been in St Lucia living on the boat in Marigot Bay for nearly a week now. There is an overwhelming amount for both Melanie and I to learn.

There are so many systems, 3 air-conditioners, genset engines, fresh water, hot water, refrigeration, freezer (there is a 12 volt DC, 110 volt ac and an engine driven system for the freezer) and they all need regular maintenance. The help down here is very thin on the ground, you pretty much have to be able to manage every thing yourself. Getting people to work on things is really tuff and getting parts is even harder.

We have many little maintenance issues, nothing that will threaten the safety of the boat just things that make it difficult to give people the sort of service they expect when they are paying over US$3000.00 per day for the charter. We have a nasty clunk in the transmission on our port engine. The mechanic said there was a spare in the supply room and I could change it if I wished. Yeah Sure!!

He said it was his job to maintain the bare boats and as skipper of a crewed boat all the maintenance was my responsibility. On a brighter note we have met a couple who are running a Moorings 6200, what a mighty boat. Stewart from the UK and Chante from South Africa. They are right into Kite surfing and Stewart had a Banjo.

They have been really helpful, kind of taking us under there wing and showing us the ropes. We took the boat up to Rodney Bay just up the coast for the weekend and had a great time up there. Its a really beautiful harbour with lots of little beach front bars and a lovely beach. It is really strange, no one seems to care to much where we go with the boat between charters as long as we get the maintenance done and have the boat prepared for charter. It is really like living on your own boat.

We arrived back in Marigot Bay today and plan to head down to Canouan on Wednesday and explore the region we will be chartering which is The Windward Island Group. St Vincent, Bequea, Tobago Keys, Mustique etc. So More Soon Alby & Rocket To Bob and Charlsey – How things change, I have had a hair cut, have to shave every day and spend half my time up to the elbows in grease in a sweat box of an engine room. Is this a REAL JOB?

On Tour 5 – We Have A Job

On Tour 5 – We Have A Job

Well we have a job!

We start pretty much as soon as we can get to St Lucia, which will probably be next Tuesday or Wednesday. We will have approx. 2 weeks in St Lucia before our first charter to familiarize ourselves wit the boat and the area. We start being paid as soon as we get down there and we can move onto the boat straight away.

The boat is a 47ft Robertson and Caine that is custom built for the Moorings. Its known around here as a moorings 4700. It has 4 cabins, 4 heads, 2 50 hp diesels, 3 air-conditioners and a Gen set. The galley is really well equipped with a great oven and pretty much every appliance you would be likely to need including a microwave.

It seems like it should be a pretty nice boat to work on. Its less than 12 months old and apparently really well maintained. Melanie and I did some sensational diving over the last couple of days. We had 2 dives on the Rhone which were fantastic with approx. 30 metre vis. then he next day we had 2 dives on some fantastic coral reefs near Ginger Island. Vis was about 25 metres.

We got a really good deal on the boat we did the Photo course dives. They gave us local rates which saved about 1 third. On all 4 dives we encountered a huge variety of colourful tropical fish and stunning corals, just what you would expect in the turquoise gin clear water.

So all is looking up at present and we are looking forward to getting established on the boat. We have a fair bit to do over the next few days in  preparation.

More news soon

David & Melanie

On Tour 4

On Tour 4

David 21/2/05

Well we have had some fun over the last week or so. We managed to score about 4 nights free accommodation on a 35 ft Halberg Rassey, with a guy named Bill. It turns out Bill is a retired Nuclear Engineer. Still haven’t been able to figure out why he wanted to hang out with us.

Last Saturday we scored a days work with the eccentric cinematographer. Unfortunately we did not get paid but we did get to go diving for the day. There is a bloke out here named Mauricio Handler who is a world famous underwater photographer, he was conducting a 5 day intense course on underwater digital photography. He was charging about US$1700. The nature of the work was really interesting. Melanie was an underwater model for the day and I had to hold the underwater light for all of the dives. Now this was no ordinary light, it was a US$16000. HMI (halogen something Incandescent) that was connected to a generator on the back of the dive boat( Alby was a bit nervous given as a rule electricity and water don’t tend to mix).

There were 8 photographers and approximately US$100,000. worth of cameras housings & strobes. we did 3 dives on a wreck called The Rhone. For its age even though it is broken in to 2 pieces it is quite well preserved. We did not get to see a lot though, as Melanie had to hold the model pose and I had to shine the US$16000 light on her.

We did however see enough to know it is worth going back to dive properly. The next day Sunday we were invited out on a 26ft centre console with a 140 hp 4 stroke Johnson. with Ed, the bloke that owns the Virgin Queen, a local bar & restaurant.

We left from a place called Sopers Hole, apparently a famous pirate lair, on the West end of Tortola and headed for a place called Coral Bay on the Island of St John, part of the US Virgin Islands. We went to the US on the sly as the other guy with us Jerry was kinda on the run from his recently divorced wife, I can only guess that he was avoiding some sort of payout and if we checked in USVI he might get flagged. Coral bay is a bit of a hippy hang out and we had lunch at a bar named skinny legs. After lunch at skinny legs we headed for Norman Island and a bay called the bight. Norman Island is believed to be the island that Treasure Island was written about. The locals still believe there is a lot of treasure buried there!

The Bight at Norman Island is also the home of the Famous (out here) Willie T’s floating bar and restaurant. It is kind of wild and has a reputation for encouraging young girls to strip naked and jump from the top deck in exchange for a Willie T’s T shirt. While this did not actually happen while we were there, we only stayed for 2 drinks, I kind of have the feeling it probably happens fairly regularly. We didn’t stay there long I think mainly because Ed our intrepid host fell off his boat and got soaked. It was not a particularly warm day and we retreated to another land based bar in the same bay named Pirates. This place was magic, right on a beach that matches exactly what I imagined a classic Caribbean Beach to look like, complete with palm trees leaning out over the water and only accessible by water.

After another couple of drinks there it was back to Sopers and home to the sleazy Sea View Hotel for an early night. We have a job interview tomorrow at Moorings (the biggest charter Co. in the region) for a job down at St Lucia. Sound promising Rocket says she has a good feeling.

22/2/05 PM

Well we had the first interview at 10.00 am and got invited back for the 2nd interview at 3.00pm. It turns out there are 2 jobs going down island as the locals say.

Mel – Laura who conducted the interviews told David that he would have to get a hair cut to fit in with the Moorings ‘image’, but given we are going to be down island I have a plan!! They are on boats based in a place called Canouan which is part of the Windward Island Group.

Apparently it is a bit of a Moorings outpost and fairly remote. One job is on a boat that stays in that region and the other is on a boat that spends 6 months down there and 4 months at he Abocos in the Bahamas. We have indicated interest in the job that is split between the Bahamas and the Windward Island mainly because it has an earlier start date.

The boat we would be working on is a 47 ft Cat (not sure what type yet) less than a year old apparently well maintained with air conditioning, Gen set and all the bells and whistles. We would have approx. 2 months in Canouan before taking the boat to the Bahamas, a trip of approx. 1500 miles that we would have 3 weeks to do, mainly reaching in 15 to 20 Knot NE trades, should be fun. Anyway we find out for sure if we have got it on Friday. Keep your fingers crossed!

Just an observation boats are generally cheap here. Good place to buy then sail home. Talking of buying it looks like we wont be following up on the Pearson 28 even though it has checked out is being pretty sound as if we get the job we wont need a boat of our own.

More soon

David & Mel

On Tour 3

On Tour 3

Hello to all,

Well the time is passing very slowly here. we have couple of leads on jobs. One is only a slim chance and probably wouldn’t eventuate for a couple of months at least. The other a little more promising on a 45 ft French cat.

We met the American owner last night and he seems to be a nice sort of a bloke. We meet him on the boat this afternoon with our resumes. We have been staying at Jim Palmer’s place for the last 9 days, he is a really nice bloke who has become a good friend. We had to move from his place yesterday as he has friends down from Baltimore.

So after a week of relative luxury we are back at the seedy Sea View Hotel We had a day out fishing for Tuna in Jims Hataras which apart from not catching any fish was great fun. We have been spending some time with Armando the eccentric Argentinean underwater cinematographer. He showed us a DVD that he shot of a bull shark attacking him, it literally bit down on his camera housing after charging him a couple if times fortunately it did not manage to take a chunk out of him.

We have been looking at a little Pearson 28 which looks very similar to a compass 28, it is in reasonable condition apart from needing a really good clean, it has a new 2 cylinder 18hp Vartus diesel in it (less than eight hours since professional installation) and we can probably pick it up for 5 or 6 thousand us dollars. it has a swing mooring in the village marina and we would be able to live on it, do a bit of work on it and then even if we sold it for less it would be cheap accommodation with the added bonus of allowing us to do some cruising.

If we get it we may even take it to Antigua for race week. We met 2 Aussie guys who run an 85 ft motor yacht. It had a marble Jacuzzi in the owners cabin and onto the aft deck it had automated curved sliding doors. It had two 750 hp diesels that gave it a top speed of 25 knots. Thats planing! Cruising speed was 14 knots and at that speed it only consumed 70 litres an hour. They were up from St Maarten for a couple of days. After the owners and guests flew out they invited us on board for a drink or three. I don’t think I have tasted as many different rums in the rest of my life as we sampled that evening, and I don’t even like rum!

Any way it was amazing to get a VIP tour of the entire vessel. One killer hang over the next day. This morning we found a decent bakery and a place we can buy a coffee for $1.00 which doesn’t sound that exciting, I guess you would have to be here to appreciate our quest for reasonably priced healthy food. Hardest thing to deal with is there is pretty much nothing to do here unless you have a boat or are prepared to spend a lot of cash on organised tours or car hire.

We have been snorkeling out at the Indians which is a rock where Tortolas best coral is supposed to exist, glad we didn’t pay to dive there because on our standards even at home in Melb. this was crap. Apparently it used to be good! Apart from having set moorings in many of the bays there seems to be little awareness of conservation over here.

Still have not really managed to find any friendly belongers (the term they use for Tortolians with birth rights). They all really seam to begrudge others being here. We have no problem hitch hiking and it is considered safe here, most of the time we get a lift really quickly. I think it helps having Rocket. Both of us at times have been really home sick, missing family and friends and especially the dogs.

It has really made me think about the little things in my daily routine at home that you take for granted. It is not until you not doing them that you realize how much pleasure they bring. Any way thats al for now, any news or goss. from home greatly appreciated.

Any football or sporting news.

David & Mel

On Tour 2

On Tour 2

I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been pretty tough here, this place is not particular geared towards the budget traveller. We are staying in Road town on the south side of the island, which is where all the charter companies are located unfortunately the beaches are the north side, consequently expensive to get to. So when we are not looking for work there is not a lot to do.

The best time to go out is between 5pm  to 7pm everyday to the Village Cay Marina Bar, because the drinks are at happy hour prices making them just affordable, and on Fridays they also have free food. The Village Cay has turned out to be a sensational place to meet people. We meet a fabulous bloke named Jim who is going to let us stay at his house next week while he is out on charter work.

Sleeping at the salubrious Sea View hotel is proving to be a nightmare We have both resorted to earplugs but even the effect of them is wearing off. The small window in our very small room is right next to a very busy and noisy road that doesn’t seem to slow down all night with the Island hoons doing burnouts up the hill!!! So staying at Jim’s Harbor side condo is going to be a blessing.

We hired a car yesterday morning and monday afternoon which is the best thing we have done yet. This island has without any question some of the most spectacular and picturesque scenery I have ever scene. Every photo is like a postcard. There have only been cars on Tortola for about 25 years and it shows in the driving skills of the locals. The roads  are not much more than bitumen goat tracks, with the little 4wd we hired only just making it up them in 1st gear.

Well if hiring are car was good we had a better day out on the water yesterday. Alby while wearing a switch productions shirt and wandering the marinas met a full time underwater cinema photographer a Argentinean named Armando. He was going out to do a day’s filming on a local wreck and we were invited along. As I happened to have the long blonde hair I was invited to be a part of the film and got a free dive in the process. Alby got to go snorkeling. We then went to a little beach resort on another island – Copper Island to do some still photography.

Until next time.

David & Mel