"Light Blue"

Light Blue

Light Blue
taking time out

Living the Dream

2007 style

It may be hard to understand the absolute pleasure we felt at weighing anchor in Prickly Bay and heading out to sea after what seemed like eons of time. I had been waiting for Siobhán to return from the UK and Ireland for four weeks, and then we hauled “Light Blue” and launched her 5 days later after antifouling and polishing her hull. With that simple action we had cast off from the land life again and were free. We headed north to Carriacou again, but this time only to clear out through customs and immigration.

As all the islands or groups of islands are separate countries, we have to clear into each group of islands by flying our yellow “Q” flag (virtually quarantine) and courtesy flag of that individual country, when we enter our first anchorage. Then as soon as practicable, we inflate the dinghy, attach the outboard and I go ashore and visit the customs and immigration, with our boat papers and passports.

Before we set out on our odyssey, I had believed that this would be an onerous task, with bureaucratic hold-ups and patient waits for jobs-worth officials in very hot offices, but what I have found has been quick, efficient service, the completion of a self carbonating form detailing our particulars being the only bureaucracy and a pleasant welcome from all officials in air-conditioned offices. Sometimes the customs and immigration are not in the same location, so one has to walk or get a bus/taxi to complete clearance at the local airport or office nearby. We look upon it as good exercise and a rapid method of exploring part of the country.

Once completed, we can remove our “Q” flag and go ashore whenever we like within the time we have been allowed to stay. When we intend to leave the island and move to our next destination we have to clear out of that island through the same channels. Within a group of islands, such as St Vincent and the Grenadines, not every island has the necessary clearance offices, so one has to go to the nearest one having customs and immigration, clear in and then one has freedom to travel to any of the islands within that group.

Having cleared from Grenada via Carriacou, we headed north towards the St Vincent group and cleared in at Union Island, after finding an anchorage right between two reefs, surrounded by a large number of boats. We were not happy with the anchorage because of the proximity of the reefs and yachts and so, as it was still morning, we headed out again towards Mayreau, the next in the chain of the Grenadines. By 1300 hours, we found ourselves in the very quiet Saline Bay on the leeward side of the Mayreau, with a small number of yachts anchored a decent measure away from us, to allow us to swing at anchor in comfort.

It is probably relevant to point out that some of the islands are only a handful of miles apart, so one can virtually coast hop between islands in a couple of hours. However, it is also worthy of note that the waters in between the islands are a virtual continuation of the Atlantic so there is generally quite a swell and the winds reach 20-25 knots, so one tends to put one or two reefs in the mainsail before clearing the last headland of the island one is leaving. In this way 8 knots of speed is regular, while the boat remains upright and an exhilarating ride is guaranteed. Not all inter-island channels are narrow and distances between some islands can be as much as 40-45 miles.

Saline Bay in Mayreau is visited by many cruise ships, which anchor about a mile from the shore and shuttle-boats disembark their passengers at a well-organised pontoon, allowing them time to swim, sail and canoe from the beach. It was good to see that they also supplied refuse bins on the quay for the cruise passengers to deposit their rubbish, thus leaving the island and beach clear of their rubbish. The clearance of refuse is a massive problem for many of the islands as they are so small and have little or no landfill or other means of re-cycling or disposal of their household rubbish. When we went for a walk behind the beach to visit the Salt pond which is situated there, to view the wildlife, we were saddened to see piles of bottles, both glass and plastic and bonfires of cardboard and other garbage burning, all of course screened from the view of the precious cruise passengers. Having lived in Somerset, where we were acutely aware of the need to recycle, we sympathised with the inhabitants and their plight.

We walked to the top of the island, from where we had a magnificent view of the Tobago Cays, a horseshoe of reefs and small islands frequently visited by cruisers and visibly congested. We chose not to venture there, due to the congestion and preferred quieter anchorages.

On the way down the hill, we called into a local bar, called Robert Righteous and the boys, for a quick beer and lemonade (for Siobhán) and we were entertained with lively conversation by the crowd in the bar. The locals seem to rely heavily upon tourist trade, but we were informed by Rastafarian Robert that for some reason the local bars, restaurants or aquatic entertainment are not utilised by the cruise liner passengers, whose food, drink and diverse entertainment is laid on by the cruise liner, having been paid a handsome premium by their clients. Such rich pickings could supplement the meagre income of the inhabitants of each of the smaller islands but unfortunately the money goes to the shareholders of the cruise companies.

Princess Margaret Beach, Bequia

Princess Margaret Beach,

We moved on in the most relaxed way, at about 6 knots, to the next island in the group, called Bequia, (pronounced Bequee by the initiated) and anchored in Admiralty Bay just off Princess Margaret beach in crystal clear waters. The beach was probably given the name because Princess Margaret used to frequent a sister island of Bequia called Mustique and probably visited Bequia for gin and tonics with her society friends for a change. Mustique is a private island frequented by the rich and famous and by-passed by the Nunns. They didn’t fret about that and nor did we.

19 March

We had a lovely stay in Bequia and even spent a few hours in a bar surrounded by happy Irish and French and disappointed English rugby supporters watching the three final games of the Six Nations rugby, during which Ireland played spectacularly and England should have gone for an early bath. Still there’s always next year. We used Bequia as a post for clearing out of the St Vincent and the Grenadines and sailed further north to St Lucia on 19 March 2007.

We anchored in Vieux Fort, St Lucia, just outside the fishing village but too late for clearing in with the authorities, so the next day we motored ashore and after clearing with the very friendly customs in the commercial port, we then walked for about an hour to the airport to clear in with the immigration. We then walked back via the beach and town for some necessary shopping to the fishing port and then back to the boat. We were sizing up whether it would be better to tour St Lucia from there or wait until we were further north up the coast, but in the meantime relaxed for another day at anchor, in a small bay near the fishing port and went snorkelling together, but unfortunately the reef had all but given up due to being so close to the commercial dock. We nevertheless saw some fish and large spiny sea urchins.

Harmony Bay

We sailed off the next day towards the Pitons, which are two large volcanic mountains situated about half way up on the west coast and we anchored in the ideally named Harmony Bay, just beside Petit Piton. We called Benny on the ship’s radio and asked him if there were any buoys free and he confirmed there was and he and his son met us in their launch named Harmony II and assisted us to pick up the buoy and then tie our 200 feet of rope to one of the palm trees at the back of the beach. It was the first time we had anchored thus and we found it to be a very satisfactory. We all know the saying that there is no such thing as a free lunch, well in this case it was a free launch and we were easily persuaded to eat at Benny’s restaurant that night, efficiently collected and delivered back to the boat by Benny’s son, Benny Junior.

Harmony Bay

Harmony Bay

We met our next door neighbours, Sam and Marjie from Fort Lauderdale as they were being ferried to Benny’s and we spent an enjoyable evening with them, plus the meal was delicious. The next night we spent another enjoyable soiree with them on their boat “Encantada” and met another lovely couple, Ian and Alex from the UK on “Sasha”. We had a great laugh and were once again surprised at the number of charming couples we have met, who will remain in our thoughts for a long time.

During the day we had gone ashore and had walked through the forest to Soufrière, a nearby town and had experience of several types of beggars, some drunk, some persuasive but none threatening. There were signs in the wooden shacks on the waterline of abject poverty, but the people were on the whole friendly and when we made enquiry to find a certain shop or place to top up our Caribbean mobile, they went out of their way to take us to where they knew we would be served. Although we did not take our dinghy to the town dock, we were pleased we hadn’t as we witnessed youths arguing and almost fighting over who would mind the dinghies of the yotties for 10 or 20 $EC.

We arranged through Benny to have a tour of the various tropical gardens surrounding the Pitons, waterfalls and sulphur springs by car and met our driver and tour guide and we had a memorable personal tour, with lunch overlooking the Pitons. We took many beautiful pictures of the flowers and forest and the sights we saw, but although we saw many humming birds, we couldn’t quite get a clear picture of them as they move so fast. We tried to catch the names of most of the plants and trees we saw, but there were so many, but we hope you enjoy the photographs anyway. We even saw hot sulphur springs, of which I took a video picture, but one could not capture the pungent smell of the sulphur on film, suffice to say it was like rotten eggs.

We relaxed the next day and then sailed up to Rodney Bay at the north-west of St Lucia and anchored first in the bay and then moved into the lagoon, close to the marina for convenience. It was also very friendly and much calmer than outside in the bay. While there we explored a little more and walked along the waterfront, passing unsuspectingly through a private beach resort when we were heading towards Pigeon Island. Its fort, with its varied history of possession by French and British forces over the centuries of struggle for supremacy in the Caribbean, changed hands seven times. The present population favour the French and speak a form of patois. We also visited Castries, the capital of St Lucia and really enjoyed the atmosphere and variety of local fresh fruits and vegetables in the open air market. We travelled by local Hiace van and noticed the difference in stopping the van, by saying very quietly, so that one can hardly hear them, “Next stop driver”, rather than rapping on the frame of the bus, as in Grenada.

Ten days after arriving in St Lucia, we lifted the anchor covered in the thick gooey mud of the lagoon, with some difficulty and we set sail northwards, leaving Rodney Bay lagoon at 0830 and heading out across St Lucia Channel. We arrived in Cul de Sac du Marin, Martinique, having had a fast and windy crossing, at 1220 hours and then piloted our way between the reefs up to the head of the bay, by means of the excellent French buoyage system. We finally anchored at 1330 in 9.3 metres of water at N 14º 27’.92 W 060º 52’.46. We always note our exact position when we anchor so that we can check our position at regular intervals to see if the anchor is dragging. It varies slightly as we swing at anchor, but we take that into account.

Martinique yole

Martinique yole


Having motored ashore to the dinghy dock in among the 600 berth marinas in Marin (there are 14 charter companies operating from there), I found the customs without any problem and having completed the form, was delighted to find that I had also completed clearance and had no port, immigration or cruising fees to pay. Martinique is a department of France and so has all of the advantages of the French administration and infrastructure, flair, food, wines, driving skills and French language. In the week we stayed in Martinique, it was a pleasant change to feel one was in a European country.

When we first arrived we were visited by Steve and Diane on “Independent Freedom” and invited over for drinks that evening and spent a very pleasant few hours getting to know them. We reciprocated the next evening and it was then that we found that Steve and I had gone to the same folk club in Plymouth and we ended up singing some of our old favourites. We look forward to our next Plymouth Folk Club Absentees Meeting.

We had hired a car for a couple of days, but at the end of the first day, as we were about to get into the dinghy, I pulled my right hand out of my pocket and heard a small plop in the water. I put my hand into my pocket and felt a coin and assumed I had just dropped another coin into the water and thought no more about it. Not until the next morning when we were getting all of our paraphernalia ready to go ashore to tour the island, did it suddenly dawn on me that it had been the car key. Of course it was a Sunday. When we reached the shore, I went to the car-hire office and was informed that the office where they had the spare key was closed all day, Furthermore, it was going to cost us 133 euro for a new electronic key, even if we did manage to fish it out with our magnet. Mmmh!!

Anyway, not to be downhearted, we explored the local town and found the 17th-century church to be splendid, the internet café supplied French coffee and bread. Another small French café we found by accident served us a superb meal and we were in the sunshine, together and relaxed.

While we were ending our meal we met Graham and Gillian Mulcahy, who had been in similar anchorages to us, but only as nodding acquaintances. We agreed to hire the car for an extra day and all four of us travelled to Mont Pelee, the volcano in the north of the island, which in 1902 sent a pyroclastic flow at 600 kilometres an hour down upon what was then the commercial centre of Martinique. In the years prior to the disaster, the town was so prosperous that several millionaires were created as a result of the successful trade in sugar, molasses and rum. The eruption completed destroyed the town and killed all of the 30,000 inhabitants but two. One was a murder suspect, who was in his cell and the other a cobbler, working in his cellar. The mayor had not wanted to evacuate the town despite many natural warnings, because of economic reasons. Seventeen distilleries were destroyed and 12 large sail trading ships in the anchorage were destroyed by the tsunami that followed.

Since then life has returned to normal, but the town is no longer a commercial centre but a small fishing village. The inhabitants have incorporated the walls of the destroyed buildings into their new homes, so one can still see remnants of the old town. There is an excellent museum, which we visited and some of the photographs taken at the time, bearing in mind it was over 100 years ago, when photography was still in its infancy, remind one sadly of the devastation perpetrated at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The experts have stated that the blast from the volcano was equivalent to the power of a nuclear bomb.

St Pierre

When we arrived at Mt Pelee, Graham decided that he wanted to walk to the crater, so having estimated that he would take about 90 minutes, we drove off down to Morne Rouge and found a botanical gardens, in which they had, en route, plaques describing the lead up to the final cataclysm, a virtual dateline of disaster. These reminders of the indecision of man with such catastrophic results were surrounded by the most beautiful plants, labelled, wild and not overly tended and a constant reminder that plants will regain a hold on devastated land far quicker that man. Some of the notices showed the diverse nature of insects, animals and reptiles, which lived in the gardens. We three were the only persons in the garden and at one time found ourselves surrounded by giant bamboo canes, sawing, creaking, squeaking and groaning amongst themselves, oblivious of our presence. We soon found our escape and scrambled downhill, slipping on giant breadfruit leaves, grabbing hold of lianas lest we fall and carefully picking our way down to the entrance gate, where we found the park curator quietly soughing in his sleep.

St Pierre after the volcanic eruption

St Pierre after the volcanic eruption

We returned to the mountain and picked up Graham and then drove down to St Pierre, where after having a mediocre lunch in a waterside café, we visited the museum, the contents of which we all wondered at in our own personal way. A walk around the town with its rebuilt French atmosphere and back to the car for a drive south along the coast, stopping at the Fort de France Carrefour for bulk shopping and thus back to Marin, where we returned to our own boats and slept the sleep of the righteous (as always).

Altogether, a very satisfying and thought-provoking day, in which we had made new friends in Graham and Gillian and had seen parts of Martinique we would not otherwise have seen and learned so much about this overseas department of France.

All cruisers have different sailing plans, revolving around their cruising timetables or the arrivals and departures of friends and relatives. One gets accustomed to saying goodbyes, but they are not sad as they are always said with a hidden wish to meet up with friends again. Steve and Diane left during the next two days, then it was our turn to leave, followed a couple of days later by Graham and Gillian, but we were sure we would meet up with them again.

In fact, we sailed north from Cul de Sac du Marin along the coast and anchored anonymously, just off the quay in St Pierre, among a group of multinational yachts. The view from our cockpit of the volcano and the resurrected town lying peacefully at its feet, gave one another perspective of the threat and must have been virtually the same view from the 12 ships anchored there in 1902 just before they were swamped at the time of the disaster. We used our stay at St Pierre to gather fresh provisions and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the anchorage to recharge our batteries. It really is so relaxing to lie below in the saloon, with all the hatches open. When at anchor, the bow generally faces into the wind and so whatever wind there is blows straight down the forehatch and wafts over us, cooling and calming us, as we stretch out, reading or talking, snoozing or eating and drinking. It really is a luxurious form of travel, when one has no urgency to life.

The following afternoon, as we sailed away from the anchorage, Mont Pelee had thrown off its cloud duvet for us and we gained a sparkling clear view of the peak of the volcano in its benign state. We were heading for the Iles des Saintes, a group of idyllic small islands just south of Guadeloupe. We had chosen not to visit Dominica, so we set off intending to have a gentle sail up the west coast of Dominica and reach Les Isles des Saintes the following morning as day broke. For those who don’t know, the daylight hours in the Caribbean are between roughly 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. and because there are so many islands without the navigation lights that we know so well in the UK and Ireland and outlying shoals and reefs, it is better not to close the land during night time.

The sail took off rather faster than we had anticipated and with two reefs in the main and the working jib we raced across Dominica Channel at 7 to 8 knots. We then came into the shelter of the land and slowed considerably, but we were still ahead of schedule so, as we were off the town of Portsmouth towards the north of Dominica, we hove-to for three hours and took it in turns to sleep, while one of us was on watch.

Heaving-to is a very useful tactic and is accomplished by tacking the foresail but not allowing it to cross completely through. In this case we only moved one half a mile in the three hours. The night sail made a pleasant change to sailing under the blazing sun and was so romantic to sit under the starlit sky with one’s loved one, enclosed in the near darkness with no other boats around and marvelling at the magic of the phosphorescence, streaming away from the boat’s stern.

Anse de Bourg

At 4 a.m. we set the sails again, resumed our course and finally anchored in Anse de Bourg on the island of Terre d’en Haut in daylight at 0800 hours having covered a very satisfying 68 miles during our night passage. We were just tidying up the cockpit when we heard a signal fog horn from close by our anchorage. Looking around, anchored just beside us was “Independent Freedom” with Steve and Diane. In our concentration to anchor, we had not even seen their boat. Shortly afterwards, they dinghyed over to us and invited us over for drinks later and also asked Siobhán to bring the haircutting equipment, as they were so impressed with my haircut. That evening we also met Mike and Delphine and Simon and Sue. We all enjoyed a pleasant cruisers’ evening and Steve had his hair cut by Siobhán, in the semi-dark, under the supervision of Diane and Delphine.

The following night, Mike and Delphine came over to visit and we ended up having a right royal folk singsong.

In the meantime, during the days, we had attempted to clear in with the authorities, but they were closed as it was Easter weekend. We had walked and walked. Firstly we had walked up to Napoleon’s fort, which has been very beautifully restored and contained interesting displays including the defeat by Admirals, Hood, Rodney and Drake of the French fleet in the battle of Isles des Saintes. Within the grounds and also alongside the roads in Terre d’en Haut there were magnificent iguanas of all sizes and ages. We had walked through to the beach beside Pain de Sucre (Sugar Loaf), and listened to local music being sung on the beach, while I was swimming. We had then returned to town and walked through to the other side of the island and Siobhán had gone for a dip.

We found the island very pretty and many of the houses had gingerbread trimmings and beautifully set gardens. The main street was set up for tourists, with clothing and souvenir stores. We had a marvellous French-style lunch in a restaurant, which doubled as a store selling the sort of accoutrements you would want if you were setting up home. The items in the store/restaurant and the food presentation were so colourful that I took photographs of the plates.

The day before we left, Graham and Gillian arrived in Isles des Saintes anchored close to us and we had drinks on board their boat, whilst we came up to date with our separate travels and gave them advice as to where to go on the island.

10 April

On Tuesday 10 April 2007, at 9 a.m. we weighed the anchor and set off for Basse Terre in Guadeloupe, only 8 miles away, where we headed for a marina called Riviere Sens, but when we arrived we did not like the look of it and anchored just outside. When we launched the dinghy to go ashore and clear through customs, we examined it further. The concrete pontoons were disintegrating, there was a sunken yacht lying on its side in one berth, the normal offices of a marina were not apparent and the usual accompanying boutiques and bars were boarded up and graffiti spread all over. The marina was full with local boats and there did not seem to be a welcome for cruising boats. We had been informed that the customs was a short walk away, close to the post office, so we walked over there to find it closed. While walking in that direction, I had spotted a man wearing what looked like a uniform near the beach talking to someone in a car. I approached him and asked him in French if he was customs and he was indeed the officer, but he apologised that the office was not available and that he was working from a car. I completed the forms on the roof of his car and he cleared us in and out very amicably and with no red tape.

We then went for a walk into Basse Terre, the nearest town and wandered around what looked like a deserted city centre, found the tourist office, viewed the port area, which was devoid of ships, fishing boats and anchored yachts and having eaten a pleasant meal at a snack bar, we walked back to the anchorage along the beach road. This was an eye opener, because there was a spectacular paved promenade virtually all the way to the marina, lined with Victorian style street lamps and buried floor lamps, which when initially completed must have been a beautiful sight. However, some of the secreted floor lamps had been smashed, others had their complete lamps removed, we were the only persons walking along it and far from feeling that we were in the sunny Caribbean, we experienced the gloomy air of an English seaside town in the winter. We returned to the boat after shopping for that day’s dinner and doing the washing in the local launderette (we know how to live the high life). We decided that we would not use this anchorage as our centre for touring Guadeloupe and that we would leave the next day and travel north along the coast to Deshaies (pronounced Day Hay), a small bay in the north-west of Guadeloupe.

So the next day that was exactly what we did and three hours after we left there, after a pleasant motor up the coast, while we made 133 litres of fresh water with the very efficient water-maker, we anchored in the most charming of bays, headed by a pretty village and surrounded by steeply sloping hills. The contrast with our first anchorage in Guadeloupe was so striking and our stay there so pleasant that we didn’t leave for five days. Such is the freedom that one has when sailing that provided the weather permits one to do so, one can pick and choose where one stays for as long as one likes. We hired a car for three days and toured both sides of the island, which is shaped like the two wings of a butterfly, but the right wing, Grande Terre is flattish, whereas Bas Terre is dominated by a central mountain range rising to 4869 feet in the volcano Mont Soufriere.

Iguanas, Isles des Saintes

Iguanas, Iles des Saintes

Additionally, we visited Pointe à Pitre, the capital, a thriving, bustling, French provincial city. We also managed to purchase some winch spares and some Delrin bearings for our genoa sheet blocks, which needed urgent replacement, as the smaller of the circular ball bearings and not the cylindrical bearings had been delaminating under the pressure and salt water treatment. It is so satisfying to be able to find the right parts so that the equipment continues to support one during long-term sailing. We look after the boat and she looks after us.

On the last day we were joined in the bay by Graham and Gillian, and once again visited their boat as they were in the middle of cooking. We had a few drinks and played a great game called “Snatch” and marvellous hosts that they are, they allowed us to win. They were heading off to Antigua, but we had decided to forego a visit there as it would probably have been too busy due to the approaching Classic week and go to Monserrat instead.

This island had been on our timetable for visiting on or about St Patrick’s Day, as they have a sound connection with the Irish and in fact have a St Patrick’s week starting on 10 March each year. Due to unforeseen circumstances, we were one month late. On 16 April 2007, at 0900, we set out for Monserrat.

En route, at 0950, I spotted a large grey whale about 30 feet long about 200 to 300 yards off our port beam. I shouted “ Whale ahoy!!” to wake Siobhán up, as she was napping below, but when she surfaced the whale had dived and didn’t surface again. I noted in the log, “ Square head, body and flukes seen”.

At 1015, when we were still in about 500 metres of water, the depth alarm, set at 20 metres, sounded and soon afterwards we saw a large flock of birds in a killing frenzy just behind us and we thought we had probably passed over a massive school of fish that were now being targeted by the birds.

At 1600 hours, we arrived in Little Bay, and anchored in 6.6 metres just off the beach. We had finally arrived in the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean. Little Bay is in the north-west of the island. En route we had ensured we had kept at least 3 kilometres off the coast, since the island’s volcano is very active at present and since Christmas the island has been on a level 4 alert, level 5 being when the volcano is erupting.

The volcano had not erupted for 200 years until in 1995, it erupted and the pyroclastic flow, which poured out of it completely destroyed the capital city of Plymouth. Fortunately, all the city residents had been evacuated, so no-one from the city fell victim to the torrent that covered it. Sadly, some of the inhabitants of a small village were unable to escape and perished.

Ten thousand inhabitants (about two-thirds of the population) were evacuated to England. Since then, some have returned but the city will never be reopened and the southern part of the island is an exclusion zone for safety reasons.

Having cleared in through customs and immigration, we met George Christian, a local resident and taxi driver, who offered to drive us around the island, for a consideration of course, and we accepted. He could only give us a tour of half of the island, but he was able to show us the points of outstanding beauty on the island, such as the National Trust areas and the Centre Hills, which presently protect the north from the volcano.

He showed us the area closest to the exclusion zone, where life still goes on, though not as it used to as a thriving community, since the people who were employed in the area, which has recently become a forbidden zone, are now unemployed. We saw, across the valley, luxury homes in an area the locals call “Hollywood.” Their millionaire owners cannot visit them, except to check them for security. Police officers sit in cars guarding the entrance roads to the “forbidden zone”, their responsibilities sanctioned by their chief of police on blunt notices at the road blocks.

Apocalypse then ... Plymouth

Apocalypse then ... Plymouth

We visited the Monserrat Volcano Observatory and saw the extent of the damage caused to Plymouth from afar and also on video film and stills. We were totally in awe at the power of the volcano in 1995 and after, with the summit resembling something from hell and the spectacular thunder and lightning storms created locally by the eruption. The scenes of utter devastation of their capital, Plymouth, contrasted brutally with the video we had watched in the museum of the regular island celebrations held in the park of the capital prior to the tragedy: parades, sports, military and religious displays were organised between the normal weekly use of such public parkland.

It brought home to me just how powerless we humans are when confronted by natural disasters, such as we are becoming accustomed to see more regularly. We are incapable of controlling the results of annual heating of the sea (hurricanes), the perpetual stretching of the earth’s crust (earthquakes), the unplanned explosions from the earth’s crust (volcanic activity), the natural reaction of landslides (tsunamis) and the constant result of heavy rainfall (flooding). We are well aware that our carbon emissions will create more exaggerated versions of the above, yet we pay lip service to the creation of a carbon neutral environment.

Speaking and listening to George on his island, a microcosm of our larger world, I became conscious that as his world has been reduced by a half, thus will ours as the polar ice caps melt to flood our coastal plains, the hurricane-struck countries will have to evacuate or will fail to recover before the next onslaught, such as happened in New Orleans and likewise the earthquake-ridden land will make living there untenable. The balance of the world’s main resources of air, water and carbon has been upset by the interference of human activity. There is no doubt that the earth will re-balance itself and continue, but the human race may not be here to see the re-balancing act. What will be the next controller of the world?

What this update will bring home to our friends and relatives, as it has to us, is the volcanic nature of the Caribbean and not in isolated islands, but in most of them, there has been, is or could be the possibility of volcanic activity. In some cases it has been catastrophic and most of the inhabitants of the Caribbean islands must live under the threat of destruction from one form or another of natural disaster.

Anchored at present in the calm of the lagoon in Sint Maarten, the Dutch side of the island, we feel safe and sound, surrounded as we are by the luxury marinas, our fellow cruisers and wafted by gentle breezes and warmed and tanned by the hot sun. Soon we must move north, however, to avoid the hurricane season, which starts on or about 1st June 2007. I will finish this update now, so I can send it to Geoffrey in Belgium. Our next update will probably be sent from Florida. I hope you will enjoy the photographs and report. We obviously haven’t sent all of the photos as we are taking about 100 per island. Thank goodness for Fuji and digital cameras.

Keep on reading and please get in touch via e-mail at yachtlightblue@hotmail.com.

Lots of love from Siobhán and Lawry

Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten, 26 April 2007

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