Back on land after 26 days at sea

So, after we had finally arrived to Horta on Faial, one of the islands in the Azores. But before we were allowed ashore we had to take a PCR test for covid-19 and get the result. We arrived in the evening and when we were satisfied with the anchoring we went to sleep. Being just the two of us across the Atlantic means quite limited sleep, so it was nice to have a full night sleep.

During the Atlantic crossing towards the Azores we did 6-hour shifts. We have tried some different night shifts throughout and we have concluded that 6 hour shift during the night works for us. By getting 6 hour of sleep you can get a proper sleep and the one on watch take 20-30 minutes naps and checks the horizon, sail and so on. During the day we are both awake and both keep a lookout.

Anyhow, after a really good nights sleep we went to take our PCR-tests and then went back to the boat. We spent the rest of the day cleaning the boat and making a plan for how we will fix the things that broke during the crossing. In the evening we ordered take-away food and a bottle of wine from Peters Sport Cafe (a must visit if you arrive to Horta by sailboat, the bar is full of flags sailors has left). We ate our food and drank the wine and watched a movie.

The following day we got our test results (negative) and we were able to check-in to the Azores. We went to Customs and Immigration and got all the paperwork done. Luckily we got a spot in the marina. Horta is full of boats this time of the year with a lot of boats returning to Europe and the marina is very full. But we managed to get a spot and started hoisted the anchor, but quickly noticed that is was way heavier than it should be… And when we finally managed to get it up this is what was stuck on it:

It was very heavy and we couldn’t get it off from the boat, so we decided to drive with it into our slot in the marina. Think we got some weird looks on the way in 😉 When we had gotten to our slot we could get a better look at it from the dock and saw that it was a huge, old chain.

If you look closely you can see the links of the chain.

We got the old chain off, and it weighed a lot! Maybe around 80-100 kg.

The first day ashore we started to get some work done, we cleaned a lot of our clothes and sheets, started the process of getting the part of the autopilot drive unit that broke and bought all the stuff we needed to fix some other things; new wire for genoa halyard and steering. And we ate nice food, had some beers and gin&tonic and took some walks around Horta.

Horta, Faial.
Horta, Faial.
Horta, Faial.
Horta, Faial.
Horta, Faial.

Diving in Statia and off to Sint Maarten

When we finally managed to leave Antigua after the trouble getting checked out of the country (see pervious post) we set off towards Statia (St Eustatius) where we were gonna do a couple of dives. Due to Covid-19 we were not allowed to go ashore in Statia but we could do a quarantine dive. With this we were not allowed to leave the boat and we took our own dinghies to the diving sites instead of going with the diving boat. We had hand sanitizer with us to clean the equipment we used and so on. It actually worked really well and nice to support the diving centre at Statia and a good way for us to see a bit of Statia.

In total we did three dives, and saw huge lobsters, a sleeping turtle, big stingrays, barracuda, moray eel and a lot more! No photos from below though as we don’t have a waterhouse on our GoPro (it can only go down to 10 meters). We only have pictures of when we entered Statia, the water was so incredibly clear. You could sit at the bow, watching stingrays and fish swim 10 meters below the boat. Incredible!

After the dives we stayed in Statia over the night before we started to make our way towards Sint Maarten. We had originally planned to sail to Guadelope after Antigua, but France closed their borders so instead we sailed to Sint Maarten where we planned to do the final preparations for the Atlantic crossing back to Europe.

Sunset in Statia.
Arrived to Sint Maarten and we quickly started with some of the preparations. We prioritized checking stuff on the boat that might take some time to order and fix, like the rig for example.
The chandlery in Sint Maarten is very well sorted, good place to fix stuff before a crossing.
Sint Maarten was quite different from the places in the Caribbean we visited before. Way more tourists, big hotels and so on. Not only in a negative way though, after being quite isolated for a while it was kind of nice with some people.
Our small dinghy acting as a fender…
One day we took a visit to the “airplane beach” in Sint Maarten. The planes fly in really low over the beach, and when departing the jet blasts throw sand all over. The beach was also a very nice beach and it was really fun to watch the planes!

Airplane selfie!

Another day we went to a rum tasting, Toppers Rhum. They had all kinds of flavoured rum in beautiful bottles, so naturally we left with a few…

Cheers!
Lot of different flavoured rums.

We stayed at anchor the first days in Sint Maarten, outside the bridge. But after a couple of days we moved into Simpson Bay and into the marina. The marina was not super expensive (Northern Europe prices) and with the marina we got access to a really nice pool area!

With the marina we could use the pool here, some tennis courts and a gym. Really nice!

 

Two nights in Wotten Waven

Due to Corona we were only allowed to stay with the boat in Portsmouth on the northern part of Dominica. As there is a lot of attractions up in the mountains close to Roseau, in the southern part of Dominica, we decided that we would stay 2 nights in a village, Wotten Waven. We found a very cheap guesthouse were we could sleep in a simple hammock schack. The price was 28 XCD (East Caribbean dollars) per night.

We also managed to time this trip to Roseau with the exit PCR test we had to do. Leaving Dominica turned out to be quite hard, actually. When we entered Dominica we could do the entry tests in Portsmouth, close to the boat and we had agents organizing everything else. But when we were going to leave we had to go to Roseau to take the tests (and then also go back to Roseau to get the results). It takes about 1-1 1/2 hour with the minibus to Roseau. It was also really hard to get a testing time and first time we tried to get it arranged we got answer that there were no available times for 3 weeks. But when we tried another day we managed to get a time when we had already planned to do the trip to Wotten Waven, which was really lucky! We felt that we were quite finished with Dominica and didn’t want to stay another 3 weeks. So we took the minibus early in morning to Roseau to take our tests before we continued up to Wotten Waven.

Waiting to have our PCR tests

After we had taken the tests we took a minibus up to Wotten Waven to check out our accommodation for the following two nights.

We arrived to Le Petit Paradis, teh guesthouse where we stayed for two nights in Wotten Waven
Our hammock schack.

First thing we did was to find a local bar…
And we tasted this funny drink, please take a look at the list of ingredients xD
Cheer!

After we were fed up with Rude Boy and a couple of beers we went to see a waterfall, Middleham Falls.

By Middleham Falls, quite easy hike from the parking to the fall.

Wotten Waven is famous for all the natural hot spas they have and in the afternoon/evening we went to visit one of them, Ti Chen Hot Springs.

Cooling of in cold water before entering the hot water pools.
Making the skin healthy in one of the hot pools. The orange color comes from iron and sulphur.
The scenary around Ti Chen Spa was very magical. It was located in the jungle with a waterfall you could see from the pools.
How many guys can you fit in a hot tub?

We went back to the hammock schack warm and had a good night sleep in order to prepare for our big hike the following day, to the Boiling Lake. The Boiling lake in Dominica is the second largest lake of that kind in the world and is said to be one of the top hikes in Dominica. Everywhere it says that you should do the Boiling Lake with a guide, but we did it without. At some part it was quite hard to find the path but most of the way it was really easy, and if we would have spent a lot of money on a guide we probably would have been quite disappointed. But we also like to hike and look for the path, and we thought this website about hiking Boiling Lake without a guide was quite helpful, link HERE.

We started early in the morning for the hike. The first part was through the jungle and the path was really easy to follow. On the second part of the trip you walk on top of a ridge, with steep cliffs on both sides. Really cool!

But the coolest part of the hike was when you reached down to the Valley of Desolation. In this valley there is a lot of streams with both hot water and cold water, smoke rising from the ground and small water pools that are boiling. A very cool place!

In the Valley of Desolation.
Very cool colors in the river and smoke rising from the ground in several places.
A waterfall in the Valley of Desolation.
Crossing the river…
And crossing once more.
Another waterfall.
Very, very cool nature!

In the Valley of Desolation we followed a river for a while, and it is in this part it might be hard to find the path again. But if you look closely when you walk you find the path that leads to the Boiling Lake. We reached the Boiling Lake and it really is a huge boiling lake, like a massive pot! We ate lunch by the lake and headed back on the same path we came from.

Group photo by the Boiling Lake.
Heading back!

The hike to the Boiling Lake starts and ends by the Ti Tou Gorge so when we got back there we took a swim through the gorge, which was really cool! No photos from it though, will show the inside of the gorge in an upcoming YouTube video instead, for our Swedish speaking followers.

After the hike we visited another natural spa in Wotten Waven, this time Screws Spa. The structures and the pools of this spa was really cool and they played some music. But it was located next to the road and didn’t have the amazing views as Ti Chen had.

Screws sulphur Spa.

We went back to our hamocks and the day after we headed back to Roseau. We picked up our test results (negative) and took a drink at a bar, visited the supermarket to buy some food and bought some Dominica souvenirs before we headed back to Portsmouth and our boats.

Having a drink at a bar in Roseau.

SWEDISH: Vi har precis lagt upp Del Ett från vår Atlanten överfart, alla Youtube videos vi lägger upp försöker vi samla under länken HÄR.

 

 

Motor problems and a windy sail from SVG to Dominica

When we had taken our exit test in Bequia we did the last preparations to leave for Dominica. The sail would take more than 24hrs and the forecast promised quite strong winds. We left Bequia quite early in the morning. As it was a lot of wind we had quite little sail up but still manage to sail above 7 knots between the islands (in the lee of the islands we made less speed). We tried to sail as close hauled as was comfortable and thus followed the islands instead of sailing strait north (if you look at a map you can see that Dominica lays almost strait north of St Vincent. The reason for following the islands was that we heard that you can easily get pushed west by currents and by sailing as much east as you can you don’t have to tack, if the winds are coming a bit from the northeast.

Sailing along the coast of Dominica.

All in all, it was a good sail. Even though it was quite strong winds it felt very safe and controlled. It really gave us a good feeling for the Atlantic Crossing back to Europe. We arrived to Portsmouth at the northern tip of Dominica (we were not allowed to enter in Roseau due to Corona) just before lunchtime. When we were just outside Prince Ruperts Bay (were Portsmouths is ) we started the engine and heard some strange sounds and saw that there was white smoke coming out from the exhaust…

We had no idea what the issue was and didn’t dare to push the engine, so we took up the sails again and turned of the engine. We managed to anchor without turning on the engine (first time we ever done that) and prepared for some engine work during our quarantine days. The quarantine would be five days and then we would take another test, and we would be free to go ashore when we had received the result of the last test.

The following day we went ashore to take our first PCR-test and after that we started with the troubleshooting of the engine. We were really, really afraid that there would be something wrong inside the engine, and that we would have to order something to Dominica. The white smoke that came out from the exhaust gave us some clue that it could be water or diesel that hadn’t been burned.

After two days of troubleshooting we realized that the issue was the diesel injection pump. We removed and started taking it apart, and it didn’t take long until we found the issue. A screw to the injection timing advance system had gotten loose at some point and started getting worn down. Amazingly nothing else inside the injection pump had gotten damaged!

Trying to find the issue on the engine.
Taking the injection pump apart in hopes that we will find the issue.
The screw to the injection timing advance system that caused our problem.
Cleaning the injection pump.

Before we left Sweden we found another injection pump in the trash room back home, almost the same model as the one we have. We brought that injection pump with us, and could use the screw from that.

We took apart the pump completely, thoroughly cleaned the injection pump, reassemble it once more and put it back on the engine. And the main issue was solved! 🙂 It was not completely prefect though, we still had some follow-up issues with high rpm when running idle that started after mounting the pump back. After a couple of turns playing and trying different adjustments for the injection pump it finally behaved normal again. By this time we only had one more day in quarantine, so it was pretty good timing.

All in all, it was really good that the engine problem happened when it did. As we could solve it ourselves and didn’t have to order anything it was really good that we could work on this while we were in quarantine.

We took our final PCR test and got the results, which was negative and we were finally allowed to explore Dominica.

Our last days in Saint Vincent & the Grenadines

After a couple of weeks sailing in the Grenadines islands we returned to Bequia. We had some places we wanted to see before we left Saint Vincent & the Grenadines and we also had a lot of paperwork to prepare before we were gonna leave for Dominica. We did some smaller excursions around Bequia, but mostly we prepared for our sail to Dominica.

With Corona it is a lot more paperwork leaving and entering countries, but not impossible. We contacted an agent in Dominica, took an exit test in Bequia and got approval to do the entry quarantine in Dominica. We also bought some food and made sure we had entertainment downloaded for the days in quarantine.

Dominica research with Lady Ann and Sanuti.
Visiting the boat chandlery in Bequia.

We also had some time for fun stuff before we left, not only work. We played volleyball on the beach, had a bonfire evening and went to a wholeroasted pig party. At the bonfire evening we met Laura Dekker, she is the youngest person to solo-circumnavigate the world. Very cool to meet her! 🙂

Beach volleyball, followed up by a…
… bonfire!
Lunch with some nice company.
Also went on a whole-roasted-pig “party”, which was really delicious!

We stayed in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for about five weeks, which was really nice! One thing this pandemic has done is to make it harder to travel between countries but in our case that has mostly been a good thing. If we would be able to move between the islands as you usually can do then we probably would have stressed through the islands so that we would be able to explore as much as possible. By staying longer in one place you get to now it better and also start to know some of the locals and you start to get rid of the tourist stamp.

Our courtesy flag was quite worn out by the time we were ready to leave SVG.

Thought we would list our favorite places in the Grenadines, which you shouldn’t miss if you sail there. So here goes our favorites:

  • Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau
  • Tobago Cays
  • Chatham Bay, Union Island
  • Port Elizabeth Bay, Bequia

Not necessarily in that order, they all offer quite different things.

We really liked SVG and glad that we stayed there for so long, but we were also really excited about our next island, Dominica!