Drama in the Tobago Cays!


The clouds have moved out of  the anchorage, but there are brief moments of clouds. The wind has also picked up. It’s too windy to head out for a swim so we decide to go ashore for a hike.


“Wait!” I say, totally surprised watching a nearby sailboat as they try to anchor. “Why is the genoa sail going out as they’re trying to anchor?” (Not a likely scenario, as sails are usually dropped or furled before making anchor.) But, sure enough we watch as the sail is releasing on its own and flapping downwind. As we watch from our dinghy we see there is only one person on deck (he was letting out the anchor) and from our vantage point in the dinghy, less than 100 yds away, we can see the confused look on his face (like “what the heck is happening?”) as he quickly brings the anchor back up. He then points to the furler line that has snapped, showing the captain at the wheel. They switch positions as the captain goes forward to try and figure out why it broke. The genoa is a big headsail, especially on this 47 ft boat and it is now snapping wildly in the wind. The sheets tied at the clew end, are snapping wildly and bound to crack someone violently that gets close, so the captain stays as low as he can going forward.

(Ok, here is where there are no pictures, camera crew was too busy…..use your imagination 🙂

The second mate is yelling something to the captain about where to go…It is then Mike and I realize that there is only one experienced sailor aboard and they need whatever assistance they can get. Trying to get this thing under control in an anchorage full of boats isn’t going to be easy. I turn to Mike and ask if he wants to try to board them. The boat is motoring slowly out of the anchorage, the only place to go, but there are scattered reefs at the entrance that must be avoided. I take over the control of the dinghy and we inch closer and closer to the sailboat, heading for the transom, the only footing that is plausible. I ease the dinghy in the shallow wake trying to match the speed of the sailboat, without going too fast to bump us off. We have to duck our heads to avoid injury as their dinghy is still hanging secure from the davits. I get Mike closer and for a split second just close enough for him to get a foot on their boat and a hand on a secure railing. I let off on the dinghy motor and float away from them. He takes over the wheel and I instantly see a look of relief on the second mate’s face. I also see a woman and 2 children aboard and they still have very concerned expressions. I hang back and watch as they motor slowly out of the anchorage, avoiding Horseshoe Reef to the north and Petite Rameau to the west.




Aboard the sailboat, the captain is forward and trying fervently to rewind the line around the furler drum. This will allow him to then pull it out thus rolling in the sail. Given a bit of time, which always seems so desperate with mechanical malfunctions, the issue is resolved. The sailboat returns to the beautiful island reef fringed by the turquoise reef to finally anchor for the afternoon.




Mike and I on Lost Loon had been at anchor for a day before this scenario took place. We did make it that afternoon to the top of Petit Batteau for a striking view of Horseshoe Reef anchorage. We walked back to the dinghy landing and sat for a while taking in the white sand, soft breeze and waving palms. Realizing as we had so many times on this trip how fortunate we are to see this part of the world from this vantage point.


Tobago Cays is a small group of islands and reefs located just 5 nautical miles south of Canoun, our last anchorage. We had made the trip in a short hour the previous day. We found an abundance of turtles just under the boat and snorkeled on a small part of the reef. The best snorkeling was at a break in the reef, called dinghy pass.

Incredible view looking south of Tobago Cays

We awoke early on another warm bright morning the day we were to leave for more of the Grenadine islands. We could see the snorkeling grounds past the boats in the anchorage. We made sure there were no early morning divers already occupying the area, leaving us a place to secure the dinghy. We postponed our coffee ritual, grabbed our gear and after negotiating some shallow water tied the dinghy to the dedicated dive buoy in 15 ft of water at the pass. The water coming in the pass had a bit of a swell to it, but once we were in the water we floated most effortlessly. We were snorkeling in beautiful gin-clear (love that term…why not vodka-clear, really?) water with an abundance of fish species by 0800! Aside from a scuba mask that now wanted to fog up on the right, causing me to have to stop and remove to clear it we enjoyed a great early morning swim. We came across a huge barracuda and a few small rays as well as numerous reef fishes. Parrots, angelfish, huge schools of the tiniest purple fish we have ever seen, puffers, and even some squirrel fish with their big red eyes peering out for dangers of the deep were on the move that morning. There were staghorn coral, huge vase-like coral and purple fans everywhere waving to us in the surge. It was a great way to start the day.

Park Rangers getting mooring fees on our leaving day

We had plans to leave here for the island of Mayreau. We headed out the northern channel of the Tobago Cays staying north of Mayreau clearing the shallow reefs we made our approach past the idyllic beach anchorage of Salt Whistle Bay and down the western or leeward side of the island and Saline Bay.


14 Degrees N Latitude…Just a Bit Further South

We return to Guadeloupe from the US on April 8 after attending a wonderful wedding and seeing our kids again. (OK, by now y’all know were back, but now I have WIFI!!!!! So I will continue the journey…..)

We fly from Ft Lauderdale to Pointe-A-Pitre airport and arrive at 7pm. We had made arrangements at the time of our departure one week previous for a pick up. Our new friend Jordy, who runs a “location de voiture” (car rental) in Riveria Sens has agreed to provide us transport back to Lost Loon. He is on time and we are greeted with smiles, handshakes, and the traditional “faire le bise” or French cheek-kiss greeting! Oh how great it is to be back!! Our return trip takes about 1 hour and we arrive at the marina in the dark. We find the boat in great condition (aside from evidence that a pelican has perched on the mast L). We are tired and now since it is nearly 9pm the stores are closed, and we are too tired to head to a restaurant. We dine on cheese and crackers and retire in our comfortable bunk.


We are awakened the following morning to that familiar sea breeze and the sounds of little voices in the boat that is docked next to ours. We arise and make our way to the cockpit to find 2 little boys, nearly the same age dressed in what appears to be pirate pajamas. Well, actually they are sharing one set, as one is wearing the black and white stripe shirt and the other wearing the matching pants. They are speaking French, but it is very obvious they are pretending to be pirates of their parents boat! They have a sword each and move about the deck of the boat onto the bow and up on the mainsail. They brandish their weapons as they jump off and swing down the halyards in Johnny Depp style. We watch and laugh with the parents also in their cockpit. Quite the greeting back to the Caribbean!


The early part of the day is spent re-organizing in anticipation of the next leg of our journey to Martinique. By the afternoon, the heat is on and we decide to take a walk to cool off on the black sand beach. In the late afternoon, we walk to the market for fresh provisions and of course baguettes!



The following day we are up early and make sure to check out of customs and pay our marina fees. As we motor out of the marina, the wind picks up and we are able to hoist the sails for a great afternoon sail. It will take us another overnight to get to Martinique, which is nearly 100 miles to the southeast. We have listened to the weather report for the morning and downloaded the GRIB files for the next 5 days to see a great weather window for the trip. We anticipate meeting up with some cruising friends on their sailboat Northbound upon our arrival.


We have a spirited sail between the islands of Guadeloupe and finally pass the southeast part of Dominica, the next island south, by sunset. Again we plan out a tentative watch schedule for the night and settle into the sounds of water passing by the stern as the stars begin to appear.


The seas are calm through most of the night and we are not troubled by many boats or freighters. We are lucky that we do not have to change our sail plan (the way the sails are arranged) as the wind stays at the 90 degrees to the beam of the boat all night. By morning light, we have passed nearly the entire island of Martinique as we plan on anchoring in the very south in St. Anne.

By noon we are securely anchored at 14 degrees N latitude and 60 degrees W longitude and see again the lovely red roof homes on the hillside of the bay. Despite the heat, we want to get checked into customs, so we deploy the dinghy and head for the little village. We quickly find the coffee shop to and the Customs Computer to get our Martinique papers. Once completed, we return to Lost Loon for a rest. We are back in the boat taking a cool drink and soon greeted by a visit from our friends on Northbound who want to take us to le Marin, another village, just a short ride by dinghy where there are marine shops and restaurants.


We have a great lunch at PUNCH Bistrot with a to-die-for goat cheese salad and true paninis. After perusing the shops, we make a dash back to the boat for our swim suits and a trip to the beach. We are anchored behind several boats, but have a great view of the white sand beach of St Anne. This beach is also home to another all-inclusive Club Med resort. With the dinghy beached, we enjoy a late afternoon swim and stroll along the beach. No we are not envious of the resort-goers (however gorgeous this location is)…we have our floating resort which has taken us from one paradise to another this winter.


It’s Palm Sunday and the plans are to hike to one of the islands most beautiful beaches. We complete morning boat chores, have coffee and discuss with our friends on the Hylass when they want to leave. We deposit ourselves and the dinghy on one of the dinghy landings and head in the direction along the shore according to our little cartoon map. The trail leads us out of the village , past a deserted resort, a beautiful do-it yourself laundry (Sidenote: I have become quite the laundry snob. Never in my life have I had to utilize public laundry so much. I look for a place with big enough machines that I’m not doing several loads, large dryers so EVERYTHING goes in together, and the machines have to be clean. Oh, if there is a fan in the laundry…that’s a plus! I have grown to appreciate having a personal laundry in my home all these years. )


We continue our hike along the water and notice people along the water setting up tents. We stop one of the passersby and ask about camping. We are told that the weekend is just the start of the Easter week and people are getting their holiday spots set up.


The music is playing loud and many of the locals are enjoying cool drinks in the shade of the hot day. We find out that the traditional meal for Easter in Martinique is crab! We se hundreds on our walk. They are everywhere…under the leaves, on the trail. The scurry with their watchful eyes backward and sideways.  A bit of more info I found in my search of this unique tradition can be found at AZMartinique.


The ocean-side trail takes us nearly one hour and we arrive at Anse des Saline.


Another expansive white sand beach…this one, however, is busy. There are kids flying kites, playing Frisbee, and families just hanging out in the shade of the tall palms that line the beach. Being a holiday, there was nary a spot for us to settle in the sand. We were relieved of the heat by a cool swim. We decide to return by road to get a feel for the landscape. WE walk along the road about 2 miles of the anticipated 5 and are stopped by the Gendarmerie (Martinique police). We are told in very good English that it is dangerous for us to walk the beach road on this day as many folks are drinking and we should be as far off the pavement as we can get. We make it back to St Anne, and along the way find fields and hills similar to parts of Wisconsin. There are goat farms and some cattle farms as well. Evening sets as arrive back at the boat.

We spend the next few days working on a few projects, looking for equipment and parts, replenishing our fresh water, and of course doing laundry.

The day of departure arrives and we need to again check out of customs, but find that on Wednesdays our little coffee shop in St Anne is closed. We must now take the dinghy to le Marin (about a 10 minute ride) and get our leaving papers. It provides us with the opportunity to stop one last time for fresh vegetables at the Leader Price grocer. It is early morning and we are also anticipating a coffee at McDonalds!! The controller on our propane system went haywire the evening before and we couldn’t make coffee on the boat. We split up as Mike also needed gasoline for the dinghy. I arrive at McDonalds at 0730, but it is closed! They don’t open until 9AM. What a bummer. Disappointed, but not out of ideas, I look around for another coffee shop…even the boulangerie-bakery doesn’t sell coffee! As the sun makes itself known to the day and I even think I would settle for cold coffee….I head over to the grocer and the employees are waiting for the doors to open at 8:00. Despite our frustration, we wait. We get our fresh produce and by the time we are through the line we figure McD’s is open. Another 5 minute walk and we are rewarded by a demitasse of Nespresso…..not exactly the big hot cup we were anticipating, but it’s caffeine at its finest! With supplies in hand we are ready to return and get the boat ready for our next trip.



We are now less than a month away from taking the boat out of the water in Grenada and carefully calculate our possible stops along the way. We decide, due to time, we will skip St Lucia and St Vincent and make overnight tracks to the Grenadines.