Our Last Hurrah

We had a great crossing over from Puerto Rico to Long Island, Bahamas.  The wind vane worked perfectly, and we relaxed while Sol Purpose sailed herself!

We had thought about stopping at Mayanagua, but the winds weren’t favourable, so we continued on to Clarence Town.  We dropped anchor in a beautiful, crystal clear bay and remembered why we loved the Bahamas so much.

We had completed the online entry requirements but had to wait a couple of days for the immigration officers to make the trip down to Clarence Town.  In the meantime, we decided to go ashore anyway and enjoy a meal and a drink onshore.  One of the local restaurants was having its grand re-opening (following hurricane damage), so we headed there and enjoyed a great meal and a few drinks – including the largest pour of amaretto we had ever seen!

Clarence Town is a hotspot for offshore fishing and when we were there a boat came in and had caught a nice wahoo which they filleted on the dock. There was a feeding frenzy between the nurse sharks at the dock.

The next day, Moray went pole-spear fishing and came back with a lovely mangrove snapper.  The fish made a lovely meal, served with rice and plantains, but I’m not sure I approve of Moray literally fighting with a shark to get it!

After completing the immigration process, we moved round the island to Calabash Bay in Cape Santa Maria, where we again dropped anchor in a beautiful bay.  We spent a couple of nights here, enjoying the beautiful water.  Moray went fishing again, and came back with a lobster and a grouper.  Did I mention that we love the Bahamas!

Next, we headed for Georgetown, where the annual cruisers’ regatta was about to start.  We arrived just in time to take part in the poker run.  This was hilarious, as our little dinghy was so slow, but we managed to make it to each bar to get our cards and headed back to Chat n Chill, just in time to hear the winner announced!

We had a great time in Georgetown.  We caught up with old friends from Georgetown itself, but also from TMCA, our sailing club back in Kemah, TX.  We made new friends, taking part in the round-the harbour and the round-the-island race on Kanaloa.  We didn’t win, but it was a close race and we came in second and we had great fun!

Another wonderful evening was spent enjoying a concert on the water on our dinghy.  Thanks to The Sailing Piano for great entertainment, especially for arranging for the ray to make a guest appearance!

After several days in Georgetown, we decided to start making our way back north, making our first stop at Lee Stocking Island.  There were already several boats there, so we picked our way through the shallows until we found a good anchoring spot, with plenty of room.  We stayed a couple of nights, waiting out some adverse sailing weather, and enjoying some peace and quiet after the hustle and bustle of Georgetown.  Moray caught three more lobster – what a great provider he is 😉

Our next stop was a return visit to Musha Cay, which we had loved on our first two visits.  We were the only boat there the first night, though several passed us heading down to Rudder Cut.  The second day we were joined by one other boat.  Moray had had a lot of success fishing here before, and happily, managed to get yet another lobster.  He brought it back to the boat, cleaned it and we prepared it for dinner.  The other boat had also been fishing, and had cleaned their fish.  Luckily everyone, was safely on board, as the fish parts attracted a beautiful, but scary visitor – a hammerhead shark.

Our next stop on our trip down memory lane was Little Farmers Cay.  The weather dictated that we anchor on the opposite side of the island this time, but it was not a problem, with plenty of room.  We took the dinghy ashore, only to find that Ty’s was closed and didn’t look like it had been open for a while.  So instead, we had dinner at the sailing club, which was delicious.

The following day we made a short run up to Blackpoint and dropped anchor well tucked into the corner of the anchorage, as another round of strong winds was forecast.  We went to shore to do laundry and buy a few groceries.  We wanted a swim, so Moray took the opportunity to clean the bottom of the boat and check on the dinghy, which seemed to have sprung a leak.  He found a small hole, which, from its position, we believe was caused by a lobster spine – I can’t really blame the lobster under the circumstances…

sunset at Blackpoint

Next was a short run up to Staniel Cay.  We couldn’t set the anchor on our first attempt, so we moved a little and had no problems there.  We took the dinghy ashore to have a drink or two at the Yacht Club before heading back to the boat.

The next day saw another short hop to Little Hall’s Pond.  This involved a bit of breathholding as we picked our way through a very shallow channel, heading for an anchorage that would give us shelter from yet another windstorm.  When we headed for the first anchorage, we ran aground briefly, but soon we were safely anchored and hunkered down.

With the storm over, we were able to pull up anchor and retrace our steps through the shallow channel until we were safely into deeper water and on our way to Shroud Cay.  From there we motorsailed for a day up to Nassau.  We had never been here before and had not heard a lot of good things, but we thought we would give it a try as we needed to buy a dinghy patch kit.  It was a good decision.  We dropped anchor in the East Channel, along with several other boats.  The Nassau Yacht Haven charges $1 per foot to land a dinghy, but it is then safe behind a locked gate so that was fine.  We walked across the bridge to Paradise Island to take a look at Atlantis.  I had been there about 12 years before, but it didn’t seem as glamorous as it did back then – expensive machines and even more expensive tables – so we left to head back towards the boat.  We took a detour to the fish fry under the bridge and had a great meal of conch fritters before walking back to the boat.

The next morning, after a quick grocery run, we motored over to Rose Island.  We had planned to stay but the constant stream of powerboats racing past made it uncomfortable, so we decided to change plans.  At 5pm, we pulled up anchor and made an overnight run to the Abacos.  We arrived right at high tide, which gave us enough depth to get through the entrance channel, where we took a mooring ball.  We spent 5 nights here in Little Harbour, riding out a storm.  We got a chance to walk the island, looking at the great views, as well as hunkering down against the bad weather and patching the dinghy.

On March 23rd, the weather was better, so at high tide, we left through the channel, and took a two hour sail up to Tyloo Cay.  We went swimming in the bay, which was great.

Continuing our dayhops up through the Abacos, we went to Aunt Pat’s Bay/Elbow Cay, but couldn’t find a good dinghy dock, trash drop off or nice, affordable restaurant, so we moved on up to an anchorage just outside Hopetown.  We went ashore and found that we could drop off trash for free the next morning.  We took a nice walk around the island and then went to the hotel for a nice dinner.  The next morning, Moray took a quick trip back in to town to drop off the trash, before we set off to Treasure Cay.  We dropped anchor in the bay there, in pretty much the same place as 5 years earlier.  It was very sad to see that the whole island had been pretty much destroyed by a hurricane, and the lovely hotel and bar had not been rebuilt.  Fortunately, the fuel dock is still in place and fully functional, so we were able to refuel for the long trip back to the USA.

We started early the next morning and, after a quick stop at the fuel dock, we crossed over to Manjack Cay.  There was plenty of room, despite a large number of boats, so we had a pleasant stop.  Then it was a short trip to Allen Cay.  We were the only boat there, and the island is uninhabited, so it was a lovely relaxing spot for sunbathing and swimming 😉

Surprise, surprise, another windstorm was forecast, so we had to move from our lovely spot and move to Great Sale Cay.  From there we motored for several hours, wind on the nose, to Grand Cay where we dropped anchor and got ready for the journey back to the USA.

On Thursday March 30th, at 9:50am, we set off.  By noon, we had good winds, so we set the sails and the windvane and let Sol Purpose take over.  On Friday 31st, we were in the Gulf Stream, and were making up to 10 knots of speed.  On Saturday April 1st, the weather forecast did not look good for keeping going to Morehead City, so we turned towards Fernandina Beach in northern Florida, turned on the motor and made our way along the St. Mary’s channel.  The tide was slack as we entered the bay and dropped anchor at sunrise.

We spent a couple of days in Fernandina Beach, waiting for a weather window to carry on to Morehead City.  We had a chance to explore this pretty little town, as well as get a new cellphone so that we had a working US phone.  We had a fantastic evening ashore, meeting some great people and eating good food in the Salty Pelican Bar & Grill.

The weather improved so on Monday, April 3rd, after a quick visit to the fuel dock, we set off again.  The winds were changeable so we had a mix of sailing and motoring, and got to Morehead City at midnight.  We don’t like to arrive somewhere at night but we certainly don’t like being in the ICW at night, so we had to anchor in the dark.  We were very tired and misread the charts, ending up aground.  However, it was soft mud and we were soon off the bottom and safely anchored just outside the channel.  We got some sleep and at 6:45am set off again.  After a few hours gentle motoring, we arrived in The Galley Stores Marina in New Bern, and our travels were done 🙂 😦

passing under the Neuse River bridge on our return to New Bern

We are very lucky to have very good friends!  Bob & Clare, who have been so supportive over the past 12 years or so, have a home here in New Bern and they graciously invited us to stay, and even more, to use their truck.  We accepted, and this made the next few weeks so much easier.  First, we got a storage unit and moved everything we could off the boat.  Then we took Sol Purpose over to Duck Creek, where she was hauled out and put on stands.  Once she was out of the water and power washed, we could see there was some damage to the rudder.  So we arranged for Turtle, a local contractor, to take care of the repair, while we started on thoroughly cleaning inside and making some repairs – re-caulking the heads and kitchen, re-varnishing some patches, re-painting the bottom, gelcoat patches, wax and polishing the hull etc. etc.  The rudder repair was complete, and we were preparing to paint the bottom when we got a call from our broker that we had a potential buyer, who wanted to look at the boat in two days.  This came as a shock as the boat hadn’t been listed yet and we thought it wouldn’t be for another two weeks.  We couldn’t let the opportunity go by, so we worked like crazy to get the boat into a reasonable condition for a walkthrough.  We managed to get the bottom job finished the day before our potential buyer arrived to inspect her.

He spent a couple of hours looking over the boat before he headed off with the broker and we got ready to put Sol Purpose back in the water.

a tired but happy crew ready to relaunch Sol Purpose

The water in Duck Creek can be very shallow, so it was another 3 days before we could get her back to The Galley Stores Marina, followed by 10 days of intense cleaning and maintenance.  Then, came the day of the survey.  Bright and early, everyone arrived at Sol Purpose and the surveyor and buyer went over her with a fine tooth comb.  Next, we took her over to Bridgeton Boatyard, to be hauled out again, for an out of the water survey.  Here we had a bit of a hiccup – through no fault of the skipper, as we were approaching the haulout well, we hit something.  The boat came to a stop and Moray backed off as fast as he could.  Once hauled out, we could see a small but obvious spot where we had hit, and all that freshly applied bottom paint was gone 😦

The inspection was done, Sol Purpose was put back in the water and it was time for the sea trial.  Again, this should have been the easiest part, but there was literally no wind.  We had trouble putting two of the sails out, partly because of the lack of wind. 

Soon the sea trial was over, and we headed back to shore.  We had a somewhat stressful weekend, but on Monday we got the great news that the buyer wanted to go ahead with the purchase, with a couple of requirements.  We accepted and then had to take Sol Purpose back to Duck Creek, where she was hauled out for the third time in three weeks!  We painted the patch where we had run aground, and had the cutlass bearing replaced.  Now Sol Purpose is back in the Galley Stores Marina, looking spick and span, waiting for her new owner to come and claim her this weekend.

We have had an amazing 13 years with Sol Purpose.  She has provided us with a home, taken us to 3 continents, 31 countries, given us heartache and fun, but above all kept us safe.  We will miss her, but it is time for her and us to move on to new adventures.



Pressure Cooker Ribs


  • 1-2 racks pork ribs (*see note below)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup apple juice , or ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke , optional
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce , homemade or store-bought


  1. Remove membranes from the back of ribs, if needed.
  2. Rubs seasonings over both sides of ribs.
  3. Place wire trivet rack in the bottom of the instant pot.
  4. Add water, apple juice (or apple cider vinegar) and liquid smoke (optional, but recommended for that great smoky flavor).
  5. Place the ribs upright, with the meat side facing out. If you’re using one large rack of ribs, then circle them around the pot.
  6. Secure lid and cook on high pressure for 25 minutes.
  7. After 25 minutes, allow the pressure to naturally release.
  8. Carefully remove ribs and slather them in BBQ sauce.
  9. Grill them for 2-3 minutes to caramelize the BBQ sauce.


*For spare ribs, add 5-10 minutes to the cooking time (high number for “fall-off-the-bone” ribs, lower number for tender ribs).

Antigua to Puerto Rico

The next island that we wanted to visit was Antigua.  We had hoped to meet up with Alexa here. But they had just left for Sint Maarten :P.  We had a great sail from Guadeloupe and pulled into Jolly Harbour mid-afternoon.

The anchorage was massive, and quite shallow, so we were able to drop anchor in turquoise water – beautiful.  Moray went ashore and completed the clearing in formalities, and we started to plan our short stay. 

The next morning, we were having breakfast in the cockpit, when we felt as though something had hit the boat.  We couldn’t see anything, but a few minutes later it happened again.  We realised that there had been an earthquake, which we were later able to confirm.  It had been two earthquakes of 5.8 and 6.2 centred near Guadeloupe

Once the excitement was all over, we headed into shore and took a bus over to English Harbour.

The bus ride was very inexpensive, and as every new passenger boarded the bus, they wished us all “good morning”!  We had to take one bus to St. John’s and then change for English Harbour.  We arrived at Nelson’s Dockyard, which is a very well preserved dockyard dating back to colonial days.  We spent a couple of hours wandering through the preserved/restored buildings, and looking at the superyachts berthed there.

We also took a look at a couple of boats that had just completed a rowing race across the Atlantic!  There were several still to arrive, but none actually finished while we were visiting.

Next we decided to walk from English Harbour, through town, over to Galleon Beach.  There is a water taxi service, but we thought the walk would be fun.  We set off and within about 15 minutes, Moray lost his footing on the uneven road surface and went flying.  He insisted he was OK (he put it down to learning to fall in his skateboarding days!), so he brushed himself off and we continued onwards.

On reaching Galleon Beach, we stopped at a beach bar where we had a nice lunch.  We stayed for quite a while, watching boats trying to anchor in this very unpredictable bay.  Boats were facing in all directions, making choosing a safe spot very difficult. 

We had thought about taking the water taxi back to English Harbour to get the bus back, but he had just left, so we decided to walk.  As we were heading back down the hill, it was my turn to lose my footing.  Now I have never skateboarded, so I did the natural thing of putting my hands out to catch myself.  I went down fairly heavily on my right side, scraping my shoulder, knee and wrist, but worst of all, my hand was cut and very painful.  Once I had regathered some composure we carried on walking to the nearest bus stop, where we eventually managed to get a bus back to Jolly Harbour.  By the time we got back, I was in a lot of pain, but the doctor’s office wasn’t open, so I decided to grin and bear it.  We got back to Sol Purpose, Moray cleaned up all my cuts and scrapes, and we called it a night. 

The next morning my hand was very painful, bruised and very swollen, so we got back on the bus and went to the emergency room.  Seven hours and $900 later, we headed back to Sol Purpose with a diagnosis of two fractured fingers, my hand in a cast, and an order not to get it wet before getting it re-x-rayed in the Bahamas 😦 So much for snorkelling and diving that I said I was looking forward to in my last post.

Debs for the foreseeable future

Ah well, there was still plenty to see and do, so the next day it was back to St. John’s to look around the harbour area where the cruise ships come in.  We visited the Museum, and St Johns Cathedral, before heading to Hemingways for lunch.

Then we took yet another bus out to the Caribbean Cinema complex.  Now when we were back in Grenada, the new Avatar movie was released and the local cinema was showing it in 3D!  Moray’s birthday had been while we were crossing the Atlantic, so it had seemed to be the perfect belated birthday treat.  There was no bus, so we made the 45 minute hike to the cinema.  We were very excited when the movie started, but about 20 minutes in, the film stopped.  When it restarted, it was no longer in 3D, and to add insult to injury, it kept stopping.  Eventually we, and everyone else walked out and got refunds.  I knew Moray was very disappointed, so when I found that it was still showing in Antigua, in 3D, we had to go!  It was a great movie and well worth the effort to get there!

The next day, we were back on the bus to English Harbour again.  This time, we headed up to Shirley’s Heights.  Every Thursday and Sunday there is a steel band playing, with great barbecue and drinks.  We couldn’t resist!  It’s a crazy event, with so many people that poor Moray probably spent a quarter of our time there stood in queues for food or drinks. However the food was good, the music was great, and the views were spectacular.  We were also lucky enough to be sharing a table with some other boaters from Jolly Harbour, so we shared their taxi back to the marina.

It was time to move on.  We left Jolly Harbour around 10am, and immediately were able to get the sails out and head towards Sint Maarten.  We had a great overnight sail and arrived at daybreak, dropping anchor in Simpson Bay.

The island of Saint Martin is split down the middle, the North side being French and the South, Dutch.  There is a big lagoon in the middle of the island, which can be entered by way of swinging (French) or lifting (Dutch) bridges.  We decided not to go into the lagoon, but to anchor outside in the bay, on the Dutch side.  We finally caught up with Alexa, and arranged to meet up with them at a Happy Hour later that day.  We went to the customs dock, and completed the formalities and then relaxed on board until it was time to meet with Jackie and Steve.  We had a great time catching up with them and hearing their adventures.  We discovered that they were the couple who had notified the Coastguard that they hadn’t heard from us, for which we were very grateful.  They look like they plan to stay in the Caribbean for quite a while and the life seems to suit them!

There is a charge to take boats through the bridge into the lagoon, but boats under 9m are free, so we dinghied into the lagoon.  Our first stop was the yacht club, which is right next to the lifting bridge giving access in and out of the lagoon.  At 5pm, the yacht club is packed with people watching the superyachts maneuvering through the narrow bridge.  It has only recently re-opened after things didn’t go to plan for one superyacht resulting in severe damage to the bridge operator station.

Next stop was the Soggy Dollar, a cruisers hangout which sells dollar beers!  Final stop of the night was for a shwarma – delicious!

drinks at the Soggy Dollar Bar

While we were there, an OCC get together was organised at the Naked Pirate Bar.  We reconnected with some of the people we had met at Agustin’s OCC party in Pasito Blanco, and swapped crossing stories!  It was a great party, with lots of attendees.  It came time to take a group photo, so people started to move out on to the dingy dock, where it was brighter.  Suddenly, there was a loud crack and the dock started to give way.  Luckily, everyone got off the dock quickly and safely, with minimal damage to the dock itself!

The next day we went to Lagoonies bar and grill to see a seven piece band with brass called Boogaloo Mutineers. It was an excellent night.

One morning, Moray headed out with a local dive operation to do two wreck dives. The first was the Carib Cargo, so named as it was carrying a load of Carib beer when it sank

Another daytrip was over to Marigot on the French side.  Although there are two countries, once on the island there is complete freedom of movement.  We went up to see the views from Fort Louis, looked at the harbour and anchorage, and walked along the front.

There is a street of “lolos”, little cafes serving traditional foods.  We stopped at Rosemary’s, which we subsequently learned had been featured in one of Anthony Bourdain’s shows.  It was the busiest lolo in the street and the food was terrific.  Rosemary herself is there, cooking, serving and posing for pictures!

Our final daytrip was to experience the strangest tourist attraction I have ever seen.  We headed over to Maho Beach and settled ourselves in a beach bar.  The beach itself was covered with occupied sunloungers, with a clear area near the back of the beach.  Across the road from the beach is the airport.  The bar we were in had a TV screen showing the plane arrival times, and as the time approached, people headed towards the beach.  The sight of a big crowd of people stood, looking up, as a plane approaches the runway, just a few feet above their heads is amazing.  Even more so when it’s the big planes!  Even more extraordinary is to watch the crowds of people standing behind the jets that are about to take off – most lost their hats and a few were knocked over!

All too soon it was time to leave and head to the British Virgin Islands.  Our first port of call was Spanish Town in Virgin Gorda.  We dropped anchor in the harbour and headed to shore to clear in.  Once that was done we took a walk through the small town, picking up a new sim card and some fuel filters for the engine along the way.

Next morning we went shore really early and walked down the island to the main attraction on the island, The Baths and Devil’s Bay.

This is a series of natural boulders and caves, with pools and streams running through them leading to a lovely beach.  It gets very busy after 9am, when the cruise ship passengers arrive, so we wanted to get there early.  It was well worth it – beautiful and peaceful.  After exploring for a while, we went to the restaurant for breakfast, just as the first bus load of visitors arrived!

That evening we ate dinner at Chez Bamboo.  There was live music advertised, which would have been great, except for the fact it was a solo saxophonist, and his backing track wasn’t working 😛 never mind.  The food was very good and Moray tried his first Painkiller!

Next stop was Tortola.  We took a free mooring ball in Road Town harbour as the weather wasn’t going to be good, and spent two nights there.  As we approached we noticed a yacht delivery ship in the bay. Over the remainder of the day, all yachts were successfully craned off the deck and moved to a boatyard.

Moray went shore to do laundry, but otherwise, we just relaxed.

Our final stop in the BVIs was to be the highlight – Jost Van Dyke.  This is the home of the famous Soggy Dollar Bar, so called because the visitors arrive by boat, and swim to shore with their cash in their pockets!

We arrived at White Bay, and were lucky enough to find an available mooring ball at the other end of the beach from the Soggy Dollar.  We took the dinghy to the beach and walked round the bay, to the town.  There we had lunch in Foxy’s, followed by a visit to Customs & Immigration, to complete the clearing out formalities as we would be leaving very early the next morning.  Then it was back to White Bay.

There are several bars along the beach, so fist we tried the One Love Bar.  Next was Cocos, where Moray was delighted to find that you pour your own drinks!  Then, of course, the Soggy Dollar.  It was packed as you might expect, but fun nonetheless!  Finally, we headed over to Ivan’s Stress Free Bar for a final drink and some food.  That turned into a somewhat longer stop than we had anticipated, as we met some fun people there, one whose name is Joost van Dyke!

the famous Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke. Great drinks (but not as good as in Chez Bamboo)

Before daybreak the next day, we headed off to Culebra, Puerto Rico.  We dropped anchor in the harbour and went ashore to try to find a café with wifi, so that we could complete the formalities.  Absolutely nothing was available, so we walked to the airport where we were able to clear in.  We spent the rest of the day relaxing before a dawn start to Fajardo, PR the next day.  After a 5 hour sail, we arrived at Puerto Del Rey.  Getting hold of someone to tell us our assigned slip number took a while, but eventually, we were safely tied off in the marina.  For the first time in 4 years, we were able to turn on the air conditioning and use the microwave – luxury!  The plan was to stay in the marina for a week, get some maintenance taken care of and then rent a car to tour the island.

The marina is very nice and very large!  Trolleys run up and down the docks giving rides to and from boats!   The showers are good, and there is a deli and a restaurant.  It’s about a 30 minute walk to a large supermarket, so we headed there for a few supplies, before starting on the various tasks.  Moray changed the oil and filters, washed the boat down and serviced the watermaker.  Once these tasks were done we could explore, so we rented a car and headed to San Juan.  We visited the old town, with its colourful architecture and cobbled streets.

From there we went to the Castillo San Felipe del Morro, which was very interesting with all the changes that have gone on there throughout history.

Then we walked along the coast, through La Perla, which is bohemian area with lots of cafes right on the water.

We then headed back to Fajardo and ate delicious fish tacos in the restaurant at the marina.  The next morning we made an early start to drive to Ponce on the south coast.  There we visited the Parque de Bombas, which has the original fire station, which is now a museum.

We drove to the Guancha Boardwalk area but it was very badly damaged by a hurricane and has not yet been restored.

So we headed northward, to the Cruceta del Vigia.  This huge cross, which is covered in satellite dishes, gives great views. 

At the base of the cross are the Japanese Gardens which are beautiful, and so peaceful.

From there we visited the gardens of the Castillo Serrallés, the home of Don Q rum.

Next stop was the Tibes Indigenous Ceremonial Park.  Back in the 1970s, after a major storm, a farmer discovered strange stone formations in his fields.  He sold the land to the government, who have been excavating, and found a site which they believe was connected to ritual games of the original inhabitants.

Finally we came to the highlight of the day.  We drove up into the hills to the Arecibo Observatory.  For the non-geeks among you, this is the observatory that featured at the beginning of the movie, Contact, and has seen James Bond fighting off the villain!  It used to be an amazing sight – an observatory suspended over a huge dome, but disaster struck a couple of years ago, when the cables holding the massive structure in place gave way.  Although the Observatory can no longer collect data, it is still a centre for scientific study.  The public areas have hands on exhibits, and there is a video about the history of the centre.  Well worth a visit! Today they are sifting through the decades of data that has been collected over the observatories lifetime, finding out new information all the time.

We headed back, stopping off at Angelico’s Place for some superb roast pork, before calling it a day.

We planned to spend a full week in Puerto Rico, but were watching the weather closely.  We decided to leave a day earlier than planned to make the most of some good sailing weather, so after a visit to the fuel dock on Monday morning, we set off on our 5 day crossing to the Bahamas!

Grenada to Guadeloupe

Our first couple of days in Secret Harbour, Grenada, were spent fixing and preparing the boat for visitors.  We took a taxi to the chandlery and purchased new anchor chain, which we installed.  I had to overcome my fear of heights, to go up the mast to re-run the genoa halyard.  I was very happy to be back on the deck, when Moray realised that the line still had to go through the halyard restrainer, so I had to go back up 😛  At least it got done!  I also had a fun experience going to the grocery store.  A minibus runs from the various harbours into town twice a week to go shopping.  I packed into the minibus with other cruisers, and eventually wound up at the supermarket.  When we finished shopping, some of us got back on the minibus to be brought back to the marina, stopping along the way at two other stores.  Then the driver went back for everyone else!

Once all our laundry was done, and the boat was nice and clean, ready for our visitor, we treated ourselves to a couples’ massage at the resort.  It was fabulous!

Sue arrived on Wednesday, which is cruisers’ special night at Secret Harbour, so we ate there that night while we started to catch up on what she had been doing over the past few years.  She’d had a very long journey, so it was early to bed for everyone.

The weather wasn’t very co-operative while Sue was there, but we did manage to motorsail over to Glover’s Island and drop anchor for a while, so that we could snorkel, before heading back to the anchorage at Secret Harbour.

We also took a mooring ball near Port Louis, so that we could try some snorkelling there.  We saw a few of the statues which have been sunk in the nature reserve, but the visibility wasn’t very good.

We sailed back to the marina where we had stopped on arrival in Grenada, and had a meal at Laura’s restaurant.  We met several people there who were stuck because of COVID but were now waiting for a weather window to head out.  One couple was actually from Kemah, TX so we had a great time chatting with them.

In order for us and Sue to get the most out of our stay in Grenada, we hired a taxi and spent the whole day being driven round the island.  Our driver, Shademan, is very knowledgeable about his country and took us to lots of places we would never have seen if we had driven ourselves.  We visited Westerhall, which was basically a piece of land that was bought and settled by one man, who built about 90 houses there. 

We went to a little roadside rum and spice seller, called Mark.  He took us round his garden and showed us all the wonderful spices he was growing.  We then got to taste some of his spiced rum….

Next stop was a rum distillery.  This distillery has been operating the same way since the 1700s and it was a fascinating visit.  Unfortunately, the water wheel wasn’t working which was the main reason we had wanted to go, but it was still a great visit.

Next was the Annandale Waterfall where they have jumpers who make the 30 foot jumper into the falls from the surrounding cliff

From there we went to the Grand Etang National Park/Lake, the only lake on the island and the one which supplies all the water to the inhabitants.

Next, our whirlwind tour took us to the old airfield that used to support the country. It had skeletons of past planes that had landed there and the runway was currently being setup as a drag strip.

After covering about ¾ of the island, we stopped for a lovely meal, before heading back to Secret Harbour via a waterfall.

We had hoped to visit a chocolate factory, but it was closing just as we arrived.  They were still happy to sell us some chocolate though! The following pictures were taken at various locations during the tour.

The following day we motored over to St. Georges to look around the town.

All too soon it was time to say goodbye to Sue, and to continue on our way through the Caribbean.  After leaving Secret Harbour anchorage, we headed up to Tyrell Bay, Carriacou.  There were several boats in the bay, including Ora Wah, the Kemah boat we had met in St. David’s!  Tyrell Bay is very small, but much more what we had been expecting when imagining the Caribbean.  Lots of little beach shacks, selling food, drinks, souvenirs etc.  We found one beach bar that would be showing the world cup final, so we headed there at 11am, ready to cheer on France.  Four years earlier, we watched France win, from a bar in Thailand, so this seemed the right thing to do!  Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be for France, but we had a great day!

After a couple of relaxing days, we went to customs to clear out of Grenada.  While there, we met with Ora Wah, who were planning to do the same thing the next day, so we said we would keep an eye open for them.

Bright and early, we left Carriacou and headed to Union Island, one of the islands of Saint Vincent & The Grenadines.  We dropped anchor in Clifton Bay, and dinghied in to clear in with Customs & Immigration.  Then we went back to Sol Purpose, pulled up anchor and carried on round to Chatham Bay, where we planned to stay for a few days over Christmas.  This is a large but reasonably secluded bay as it isn’t really reachable by road.  There is an eco-resort and a couple of bar/restaurants on the beach and that is all.

We had a great time snorkelling, swimming, relaxing and sun-bathing.  We did make the very hot, steep walk into Clifton to get a few groceries, but otherwise, we did nothing! 

Christmas Eve was celebrated at a beach barbecue, followed by a quiet day watching Christmas movies!  We decided to give Santa the year off this year, which I found very strange, but I can’t complain about the day at all!

On Boxing Day, we headed over to the Tobago Cays Marine Park.  We wanted to visit here and had discovered that on January 1st, they would be introducing a fee to anchor, so we needed to go before then!  The park is lovely – we walked up to the high point to take in the views, snorkelled with turtles, moray eels and spotted eagle rays.

One of the must-do things in the park is to eat grilled lobster at the beach barbecue, so we, of course, did that 😛

We had planned to stay for several days, but the weather made conditions uncomfortable, so we stayed two nights and then moved on to Admiralty Bay in Bequia.

approaching Bequia, it reminded us of the Jurassic Park intro

This is a huge anchorage, and the local people cater brilliantly to the boater community.  Every morning boats come round the anchorage selling bread and croissants.  You can call any number of businesses to come to your boat – water taxi, laundry, trash pick-up, water, fuel, ice – all can be delivered to your boat.  Now we had heard that the “boat-boys” could be aggressive but we never found that at all.  Another thing that we had heard was that in Bequia (as in many places in the Caribbean) crime against boaters and their boats was common.  We took all the precautions we could – locking everything we could, leaving nothing in the cockpit, pulling the dinghy out of the water at night – and so far, we have not had a problem.  Saint Vincent is taking the matter very seriously and has opened a new coastguard station in Bequia.  The coastguard boats are patrolling several times a day, so we will see what happens.  I hope everything works out well, because maybe it will encourage Saint Lucia to follow suit.  Crime is getting so bad there that a large number of boaters decided to give it a miss this year.

Anyway, Bequia is a great place to spend a few days.  On New Year’s Eve, we had dinner at the Plantation House restaurant, followed by a band, a DJ and watching the fireworks.

New Year’s Day was another movie day, as it was wet and windy, but the next day, we went snorkelling and saw squid and octopus.

Tuesday morning, we got to the customs office at 8am.  It opened at 8:30 and we were lucky enough to get our clearance done just before a cruise ship arrived!  They always take precedence and who knows how long we would have had to wait!  Anyway, by 9am we were pulling up anchor and heading north.  For the reasons mentioned above, and because we have limited time and can’t stop everywhere, we decided to bypass Saint Lucia, and do an overnight run straight to St. Anne in Martinique.  We had to motorsail all the way, but it was fairly uneventful – apart from seeing whales in the bay between Bequia and Saint Vincent!

Saint Anne is another huge bay at the south end of Martinique.  We dropped anchor just after sunrise on Wednesday morning.  Clearing in and out of the French Caribbean islands is a very different affair to all the other islands.  In each “port of entry” there is an official place to clear in, using the country’s clearing system.  In Saint Anne it is the Snack Boubou bar!  Unfortunately, when we arrived, we discovered that the bar doesn’t open on Tuesday or Wednesday.  We were tired from the overnight run, so decided that wasn’t a problem.  The next morning, we went ashore, only to find that it wouldn’t be opening until 10:30am.  Also, we weren’t able to get a simcard anywhere in Saint Anne. So we took a bus to Le Marin (cost 2 euros each!) and got everything taken care of at the marina there.  You just enter all your details into their computer system, print out a form, sign it and get it stamped by the proprietor (marina worker, coffee shop owner etc.), pay a nominal fee (in Le Marin it was 5 euros) and you are done!

We decided to rent a car for a couple of days to see a bit more of the island.  Now we had heard that it’s best to use an American company because the local cars can be a little suspect.  However, there were no cars available to us, so we decided to take a chance.  The car had definitely seen better days [Moray edit: I should have known when the owner asked… “so you want a POS?” when I said a small car is fine :)], and there were a couple of occasions when we wondered if the car would make it, but all-in-all it was just fine!  We visited several of the bays that we had thought about sailing to, a slave museum, a rum distillery, and the capital, Fort-de-France.

The slave museum was very interesting as it has recreated the way of life on a plantation so you see reproductions of slave huts, information about the way of life, how they got there etc.  The rum distillery was a bit of a disappointment as although the website is in English, there was no English commentary available, so we didn’t really know what we were looking at.  There are several others that DO have English audio guides, so if you visit, choose wisely.

We decided to take a guided tour of Fort Louis, and as we arrived at the ticket office, spotted the crew of Ora-Wah!  The tour was very interesting, even though a lot of the fort is off-limits as it is still a working military base.  Our guide was incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic!

From the fort we explored Fort-de-France.

Our last car stop was a visit to the Pointe D’Enfer.  We thought it would be a nice gentle hike – not realising that we would have to wade through streams etc.!

We dropped off the car and caught a bus back to Saint-Anne, stopping off for some accras morue (cod fritters) before heading back to Sol Purpose.

Our next stop was Saint-Pierre at the north end of Martinique.  Finally, we had the right wind to be able to sail, which was fabulous.  Saint-Pierre was originally the capital of Martinique, but in 1902, the whole town was destroyed by the eruption of Mont Pelee.  Although there were two weeks of warning shots, nobody took any notice and when the eventual eruption happened, thousands were killed.  There is a very good museum dedicated to the Catastrophe, with audio guides in English!

We had an interesting meal in Le Reservoir – probably the slowest service ever (not really a problem, when you have nowhere else to be!), but more amusing/annoying (according to your mood that day) was that several of the items on the chalk menu board were not available.  Given that we arrived 5 minutes after the restaurant opened, we found this highly amusing, but other tables didn’t and left!

We wandered through town taking in the local architecture and sights.

Clearing out of Martinique proved to be just as easy as clearing in, and so we did this the night before we were due to leave, so that we could set off at daybreak.  On arrival in Saint Pierre, we decided to recalibrate the autopilot as it seemed to wander a little too much under sail.  It worked much better after that, which was great as we had wind to sail and didn’t want to hand steer all the way.  We also didn’t really want to do an overnight trip, so we decided to stop in Portsmouth, Dominica for the night.  We had another good sail, again spotting a couple of whales en route.  We weren’t going to clear in to the country, so we dropped anchor just before sunset and left at sunrise the next day for the short run to our destination – Iles des Saintes at the south end of Guadeloupe. 

On arrival we decided to drop anchor in a sheltered bay, a slight distance from the town itself in order to avoid the mooring balls. We dropped the dinghy in the water and took the 10 minute ride into town to clear in. After having a wander around town we returned to the boat. The next morning we went snorkelling at two locations, the best of which was definitely Anse du Pain de Sucre although it was busy with day trippers.

The following morning we set off for Bouillante, the town closest to Reserve Cousteau at Pigeon Island on the West coast.. We immediately dinghied over to the reserve and snorkelled the island to see if it would be a good place to dive the following day. The snorkelling was excellent and we were very excited about the prospect of a long enjoyable dive as it had been a little over a year since our last dive.

That evening we went ashore and ate at Cht’i Gwada, a small restaurant hosted by a Frenchman in an industrial estate. Not the normal setting for gourmet food but it was fantastic. We met some local diver operators there who were out for a night of frivolity! We found ourselves drawn into the circle and much merriment was had by all ;). After several bottles of wine, we decided to leave, knowing we had to get up early to dive so we said our farewells and left them to continue their party.

beautiful sunset that evening

By 7AM we were tied to a dinghy mooring ball, ready to dive. It was a wonderful, long (85 minutes) relatively shallow dive, with lots to see, both corals and fish life. Moray briefly dropped down the wall to 100 feet but the best life was seen at above 60 feet. We didn’t take the camera on the dive but we did salute the bust of Jacques before we left.

That afternoon we made the 9 miles trip to Deshaies, where Death in Paradise was filmed. We went into town, looking for a Bokit (a Guadaloupian street food sandwich) without success, but we did find some wonderful mangos and coconut sorbet from some street vendors. Normally its possible to clear out at the Pelikan Boutique but unfortunately it was closed so we had to walk to the customs office where we completed the formalities.

After a slightly rocky start, we are starting to enjoy our Caribbean adventure.  We are rediscovering clear water, nice anchorages, snorkeling and relaxing.  We hope to let you see more cool photos next time as we head to Antigua!

Crossing East to West

First thing Monday morning, we pulled up anchor and set off.  We anticipated the crossing would take us 18 days, and we felt well prepared.  We had signed up with a Chris Parker’s weather forecasting and crossing advice service, which we would get from him each evening, via our Single Side Band (SSB) radio.  We had also had Winlink, which would enable us to get weather forecast via email, using the SSB.  Finally, we had joined the “Rum Runners” SSB net, which would meet every night at 11pm, just to check in and hear another voice!

The first few days were uneventful, with mixed wind strengths, but we ran the water maker, so had a full tank of water.  We weren’t able to pick up Chris Parker on the SSB, but we were expecting that the reception would improve, the further west we headed.  We were, however, able to speak with John, on Ballyhoo on the Rum Runners Net.  I also discovered that it’s possible to bake banana bread in a pressure cooker! 

A few days in, we were sailing along nicely, with the genoa being held out with the whisker pole.  It had taken a little while to find out how the wind vane could handle the larger seas and winds, but we were finally zipping along nicely.

Next thing we knew, the whisker pole folded in half.  It was all systems go to get it detached without it slamming into the boat and causing damage, but we got it done.  I am sorry to say that we had to jettison it into the Atlantic, but it is mostly metal, so shouldn’t cause too much harm on its way to the bottom.

The winds were much lighter than forecast, and we weren’t putting as many miles behind us as we had hoped, especially without the whisker pole to help hold the sail shape.  However, we did manage to pick up Chris Parker, who told us that the winds would pick up soon.

A couple of days later, as predicted, the winds started to pick up, and we were cruising along, the windvane steering, and all was right with the world.  A couple of groups of herons decided to hitch a ride, and we had hours of fun watching them trying to figure out how to land on a moving sail boat!

But with the bigger winds come the bigger seas, and we were about to experience our first “pooping”!  One of the “pleasures” of downwind sailing is the chance of following waves breaking on your boat.  We experienced what was to be the first of many such events, hence the change from shorts to foul weather gear!  To give you an idea of how big these waves are, we found seaweed on top of the Bimini cover after one!  Apart from that, we seemed to have finally got the combination of the windvane and sail trim right, and Sol Purpose was very happy.

Never get too comfortable!  The Atlantic seems to have been invaded by propeller seeking seaweed.  And most of it was finding us.  As we were sailing, until we turned the engine on, this wasn’t too much of a problem for the propeller, but both the oar of the windvane and the prop on the hydro generator were getting covered.  In the latter case, this stopped the generation of much required power for the boat, while the weight of the weed on the oar caused it to break away, using the safety mechanism, several times.  Trying to fix both of these events was bad enough in daylight, but trying to get them sorted in the dark was a nightmare.  Eventually, we managed to rig up some systems to help clear the weeds, but not before both getting very bruised and battered.

By day 8, we were seeing sustained winds in the 30s with gusts as high as 47 knots.  By this time, with exhaustion well and truly setting in, any chance of a daytime nap was grabbed, and I was doing just that when Moray started yelling that he needed help.  I rushed out on deck to find him on the bowsprit, trying to pull the genoa back on board.  The halyard had snapped and dumped the genoa , the second biggest sail on board, over the bows.  I put on my life jacket and went out to help pull the sail back on board.  Then we had to drop the Code 0, our light weather sail, and switch the halyard over to the genoa, before winching it back up and continuing on.  It was a very scary event, with Moray, even though he was tethered to the boat, in grave danger of going over, wrapped in the sail and being dragged under the boat.  I was so glad when he was back in the cockpit, safe and sound.  We were just getting over that when Moray went to get the latest weather email and found that our SSB was no longer working.  Not only did this mean no weather details, it means no checking in with Chris Parker or the Rum Runners Net.  Our VHF radio only worked over line of sight distances, so if we couldn’t get the SSB working we would be on our own until the first of the ARC rally boats caught us, which we thought would be in another 4 or 5 days.  In the meantime, we kept trying to fix the SSB, while putting out radio calls from time to time on the off chance someone could hear us, so we could confirm we were safe.

Day 11 was Thanksgiving.  I know I should have been giving thanks that I was able to have such great adventures, but frankly, I think we both just wanted off Sol Purpose at that point.  The thought of another 10 days (yes, we were going so slowly we thought it might take an extra two days) was soul destroying.  That RV trip was looking like a really good option right now!  Just around sunset, we spotted a boat, Grand Crew, coming along behind us.  We managed to raise them on the radio and ask for a email to be relayed to Chris Parker that we were fine.  They were happy to do so, and got back to us to confirm that the message had been sent successfully, before they disappeared off into the darkness.  Such a relief!

The next night, another boat, Attitude, caught up with us at night.  I radioed to make sure they had seen us, and found out that a BOLO (be on the look out) alert had been put out to the ARC rally boats to look for Sol Purpose.  I confirmed that we were fine, but that our SSB had died, hence the lack of check-ins.  The captain of Attitude asked where we were heading and when we thought we would get there, and relayed that to the team searching for us.  It’s so nice to know that the boating community can pull together like that, even for a boat that is not part of their rally.  Thank you guys!  (We have since found out that it was quite a surreal night after the alert that we were missing was put out.  Apparently you could hear boats calling out to us through the darkness, in the hope that we would hear them.  It send shivers down my spine that the only words being heard mid Atlantic were “Sol Purpose?”

Its amazing that in an ocean as large as the Atlantic you can still have close calls. One night shift, we were being caught by a boat that was on the same line as us. We radioed them several times but got no response. As we were the boat that was being overtaken we are supposed to hold our course and speed. However we had to start the engine and change course to avoid a possible collision. We even sounded an air horn to try and get their attention!

By day 13, we had great winds and calm seas.  We had a wonderful day of sailing, and made some good progress.  We hoped that day 14 would be the same, but it wasn’t to be.  As we couldn’t get any weather forecasts, we couldn’t try to avoid areas of light winds, and we sailed right into one.  As we no longer had use of the Code 0, there was nothing for it but to start motoring.  On the upside, Moray came close to landing a huge Mahi-Mahi – honest… he really did!  We also took advantage of the hydro generator being out of the water to make a quick repair.

The next morning, we thought the winds were picking up at around 5:30am, but it turned out to be just a squall, and we were soon back to the very light winds.  Encouraged by the previous day’s near success, Moray threw the line back in the water and within an hour had caught a very nice barracuda.

Now he started working on getting a mahi-mahi again!  The winds picked up, and again, it was a nice sailing day.  Unfortunately, we were not seeing any other boats, so we weren’t able to get a weather forecast.  We wondered if they had detoured having all been told about bad weather where we were.  Right on cue, at midnight, the weather arrived!  Heavy winds followed by heavy rain, with no wind.  This went on for several hours, after which the wind disappeared altogether.  It now looked as though our hopes of arriving on Friday were gone, so we prepared ourselves for yet another night out here.

Friday arrived, and we realised that we could make it to St David’s Bay just at sunset, if we motored.  The weather was very squally, and we didn’t fancy another night at sea, but couldn’t make it round to Port Louis in daylight.  Technically, we’re supposed to not stop before Port Louis, but we thought we would ask for forgiveness rather than permission.  Just before sunset, we pulled into the bay and tied off to one of the mooring balls.  We couldn’t raise anyone on the radio, but by then we were just so relieved to be looking at a good night’s sleep that we settled in and were soon dead to the world.

We left at daybreak the next morning, and headed round to Port Louis, to clear in with Customs and Immigration.  That was a simple process, so we took a little time to speak with the ARC committee and the boats who had reported us safe.  Grand Crew was empty so we’re couldn’t say thank you in person, but it was great to speak to Attitude face-to-face!  We then went to see Sŵn y Mor, to let them know we were fine and to possibly arrange a future meet up after the ARC rally wraps up.

Then we made one last little trip from Port Louis to Secret Harbour Marina, where we are to spend a few days repairing/cleaning/preparing for a guest who will be arriving on Wednesday.  More of that in the next blog.

One of my fondest childhood memories is my family sitting at the dining table on Sundays, listening to Family Favourites. When a certain song by Allen Sherman came on, we loved to sing along. Here is our – very bad – version of this hilarious song, written over many hours at sea…

Sung to the tune of Camp Granada…


Hello Muddah, hello faddah

Sailing westward to port Grenada

Sun is shining, wind is blowing

So we think it’s time we really should be going


It was windy, halyard parted

From the furler, jib departed

Disappearing over the bow

We got it back but I don’t really know how


Cruisers net, on SSB

Twenty three hundred UTC

Icom’s busted, thought we were solo

Till we found ourselves the subject of a BOLO


Muddah, Faddah, don’t want to scare ya

But Moray’s chin is getting hairier

He’s stopped soaping, he’s stopped gelling

I can find him in the dark now just by smelling!


I’m so tired, I need some sleep and

I’m so tired, I just might weep

Don’t leave me out in the ocean dark

I might get eaten by a shark


Take me home, I promise I will give up rum

Or other things that make life fun

Oh please don’t make me stay

Out here for one more day


What’s that noise now? Moray’s snoring

Playing “I-Spy” is so boring

All the answers start with “s”

Once you’ve done the boat parts we’ve already guessed


Wait a minute, there’s Grenada

Anchors dropping, pina colada

People smiling, gee that’s better

Muddah, Faddah kindly disregard this letter

For now, two happy sailors are signing off from sunny Grenada and here are a few pictures of the crossing!

Cape Verde to Grenada – day 6

16 41.502N 035 23.501W
573 miles sailed 1568 miles to go

Winds have picked up and we are seeing mid 20s gusting to low 30s but we are making over 6 knots.
The weather is supposed to build a little more tomorrow and then on Monday it should back off a little for several days. That will be fine as the wind vane is managing fine if we keep the amount of sail quite low so if the winds build much more we will have to reduce a frustrating amount of sail!
Mood is generally good on-board but the thought that we still have about 2 weeks to go is a little demoralising 🙂

Cape Verde to Grenada – day 4

16 47.153N 031 25.203W
267 miles sailed 1798 miles to go

Weather is still quite god but the winds are light so we motored through the night last night. Sails are now back up and we are making around 5 knots westwards.
The forecast is for building winds over the next few days. Winds will be in the mid 20s and gusting to low 30s for several days and will back down a little next Wednesday.

Cape Verde to Grenada – day 2

16 52.6N 027 44.5W
160 miles sailed 1995 miles to go

Weather is quite clear and winds in the teens gusting to the low 20s
Making better progress today now that we have tweaked another bit or performance out of the wind vane that allows up to have a little more sail up. Still averaging only about 5.2 knots though.

five days in to Cape Verde

20 32.189N 21 58.942W
590 miles sailed and 288 miles to go

Another 2 days on and we still havent started the engine since we cleared Gran Canaria 🙂
We filled the water tank via our watermaker today and still had our batteries at 13.4V (full) when we were done. The reason for this is that the winds have picked up and we are seeing 20-30kts true wind so we are making around 6 knots downwind right now which is making a lot of electricity from our hydro generator!
We could probably go faster but the windvane seems happiest with the current sail plan of just the genoa and running a broad reach. The waves are 3-4 meters and coming from our stern quarter so the boat is rolling quite a bit which makes the windvane work harder but it seems to be managing fine without hunting too much.
Unfortunatley we are on course to reach Mindelo in the evening on Sunday so we have yet to make a decision about whether we go in and anchor in the dark or slow down and arrive on the Monday morning. It will be a full moon so we might just try to anchor. You will know by Monday 😉
Off for a cold shower as we are not willing to turn on the engine just to heat the water!

Moray & Debbie

Well on our way to Cape Verde

23 55.575N 20 07.239W
360 miles sailed and 498 miles to go

Had problems with the SSB which I managed to fix underway today so that we are able to send emails and receive GRIB files. Just as well since thats our only weather forecasting method 🙂
Weather has been good and we only ran the engine for 3.5 hours after leaving Gran Canaria. We had to motor to get out from behind the land and get some wind. Since then we have sailed non stop and the solar and hydro generator have provided all the power we have needed so far, including three hours making water today!
Hopefully we can make Mndelo, Cape Verde by Sunday late afternoon. If not, we can slow down amd get there on Monday morning.

Mray & Debbie