May 2007

We left Virgin Gorda, BVI in early May to head south to meet our daughter Ashley and family later in the month.  Leaving at 2:00 pm, we planned a 130 mile trip direct to St. Kitts which could take up to 24 hours.  We would pass by the islands of Saba and Statia that we visited in March.

We both find these long passages sort of boring.  You have to make sure the auto pilot keeps steering the boat on course and that nothing breaks.  Other than that, the only real necessary activity is to look around the horizon every ten minutes or so to make sure there is not a ship coming along to run us down.  At night, we spot a traveling vessel either with our radar or by seeing the navigation lights as we scan the ocean horizon.  If we identify a ship on radar, we begin to look for the lights so we can also watch them by sight.  If we identify a ship by sight, we quickly try to identify them on radar so we can track their speed and course.   On this passage, as we lost our light after sunset, we focused on monitoring the numerous cruise ships, freighters, and tankers heading north to the Virgin Islands .  John was down below tracking ships on radar, while Ann was on deck looking for ship lights.  Suddenly Ann spots a bright orange glow up ahead and believes that one of the ships we are tracking is on fire or flaming.  In a couple of minutes, she realizes that she has spotted the bright orange ball of the moonrise, distorted by the clouds! 

Statia at sunrise We have this great invention that is part of our radar system called MARPA.  The initials stand for Mini Automatic Radar Plotting Aid.  MARPA allows us to track the speed and course of a radar contact (usually a large freighter capable of plowing us under) relative to our own course and speed.  It tells us how close the other vessel will come and how many minutes it will take before it reaches that point.  It does it with these little abbreviations on a special MARPA box that overlays the radar display.  One of these abbreviations is CPA:  closest point of approach.  John realized how much our life has changed one night when tracking the closest point of approach (CPA) of a freighter.  For years he worked in financial management and was trained as a certified public accountant (CPA).  Now the initials CPA (closest point of approach) have a lot more importance in their new meaning since our safety is involved.

Statia at sunrise

We arrived in St. Kitts after 20 hours and met up with Chill, which we haven’t seen since the Dominican Republic .  In St. Kitts, John was hoping to find volleyball at a weekly beach party at Turtle Bay Beach Bar.  We started the two mile walk to the beach, and were lucky to have Roger stop to give us a ride to the beach.  Roger, an architect originally from Great Britain, has lived on St. Kitts for 16 years and is currently busy with new building and development throughout the island.  Roger invited us to join a birthday celebration with five golfing buddies, most relocated from other countries.  Everyone was very welcoming and nice.  John went looking for a volleyball game but found a birthday party instead.

The islands of Nevis and St. Kitts are one country.  In Nevis, we enjoyed beautiful Pinney’s Beach where all the locals were out picnicking and playing cricket on the Queen’s Birthday (a national holiday).  St. Kitts recently hosted the cricket world cup and cricket is a popular sport with all ages.  It is fun to watch the locals enjoying the beauty of their islands. 

green monkey

We celebrated Ann’s birthday with a visit to Golden Rock Estate on Nevis, currently managed by Pam Barry and originally built by her great-great-great-grandfather.   Pam has developed a beautiful nature trail through the rain forest and carefully labeled many of the plants and trees.  The trail takes you through lush tropical foliage with beautiful blossoms and through local farms where small pigs graze in the wild.  As we passed a giant mango tree heavy with fruit, we spotted seven African Green Vervet monkeys enjoying the mangoes.  They were curious about us and crawled on a tree limb just over our heads so they could peer down to see what we were doing.  The monkeys were brought to the island hundreds of years ago and are now flourishing in the wild.  After the hike, we lunched on lobster sandwiches with a beautiful view of the gardens and Caribbean sea below. 

Green Vervet monkey on Nevis


Carib Indian canoe


At Nevis we also saw an original Carib Indian dugout sailing canoe, which had sailed from Dominica where the Carib Indians have a reservation.  The canoe is made from a single gommier tree and the Carib Indians were sailing their canoe to the various Western Antilles islands to educate school children about their heritage.  That evening we watched the sunset as the canoe set sail for their next island destination.


Traditional Carib Indian sailing canoe

The ocean was rich with sea life as we sailed from Nevis to Montserrat .  A dozen dolphin played off the bow of our boat and we saw several species of sea birds along the route.  As we neared the small island of Redondo, sea birds started to dive on the fishing lure we were trailing behind the boat.  We were worried that we would catch a seabird, as they dived down and plucked the feathers from the lure.  We didn’t catch a seabird (thankfully) or a fish (disappointing) along the trip and our lure is not as appealing as before.

In 1995, the capital city and a large portion of the island of Montserrat were destroyed by a volcano.  Most of the population relocated to other countries and the single island nation has had to slowly relocate and rebuild its infrastructure.   A large part of the island is designated as an Exclusion Zone.  Those with homes and property in the Exclusion Zone had to find another place to live and were not given any compensation for their loss.  Many homes in the Exclusion Zone have not been damaged, but there is concern that they may be in danger during future volcanic activity.  We visited the Volcano Observatory and were able to see some of the volcano destruction from a distance.  We also watched a film which provided great detail about the volcanic activity and the destruction.  The volcanic activity is closely monitored.   It seems that it will be difficult for the small island country to rebuild its economy and recover from this tragedy.

The Newmans visit Antigua


We had originally planned to meet our daughter Ashley, her husband Mike, and our four month old grandson Lincoln in Grenada near the end of May.  This would require us to cover a lot of ocean miles in a couple of weeks and not give us any time to enjoy the islands as we traveled south.   We asked Ashley to meet us in Antigua and she graciously changed her plans.

It is always a real treat for us to share our Livin the Dream life with family and friends.  We had a great time introducing Ashley, Mike and Lincoln to the cruising life.  It was also our first opportunity to see Lincoln and he adjusted quickly to the cruising life



Mike, Ashley, and Lincoln visit in Antigua

StarfishHell's Gate




Hell's Gate Island off Antigua's north coast



Starfish near Maiden Island, Antigua

Lincoln mans the linesSleeping with toys


Lincoln mans the lines on Livin the Dream





 Lincoln rests with his toys after a hard day of sailing

In June we will visit the islands further south, since we need to be in Trinidad before the end of July.