SeaBelow is loaded!

Now SeaBelow is loaded onto the freight ship to go to Southampton and I am bound to London with a three day stop over in New York!

The loading time and date had been moving all the time. On Friday they said she would be loaded on Saturday at 3:15 pm but to be confirmed at the end of the day. At the end of the day I got the information that it would be Sunday afternoon and I would get the exact time later. On Saturday they said Monday 10:00 am and that is pretty sure. Call on Sunday evening for confirmation.
On Sunday morning, I thought I would have a full day to do the rest of the prepartion, I was urged to get up by first a horn and then a voice, that sounded familiar, shouting „SeaBelow“. So I rushed onto deck and saw the Hans Kortmann, who I had been telephoning all the time about the loading time and day in an aluminium motor boat with some other men on board. He said „We need you now to load your boat“. I replied „But you said Monday morning“. „Yes“ he said, „but we had to swap times because another boat did not make it in time“. I answered „Ok, I can be there in half an hour“. He was happy with that.The funny thing is that just before he arrived, I had been contemplating whether I had understood it correctly that it was Monday and not Sunday? I thought I should better call him to be sure. But then he showed up in person. After he had left I checked my phone and saw 10 missed calls and 3 text messages from him asking me to be at the ship at 11 am and to call him back as soon as possible. I had not heared the phone because I turned of the sound for not to be disturbed during the night and I had not yet turned the sound back on again because I was not expecting any calls at night.

So without breakfeast I got SeaBelow ready for the 1,5 mile sail to the freight ship. I had to get the sun cover down, the dinghy up on deck and the wind steering off the stern.

Arriving at the ship I was quite right on time as the crane was still occupied with loading another boat.


Sampogracht Midship


Sampogracht stern


Sampogracht Bow























But then it was on me and I came alongside the big ship, higher than my mast. Straps to moore the boat with were thrown onto my deck and I attached them to my cleats. Then three men of the loading crew came onto deck and started placing the lifting belts while I detached the back stay (Achterstag) so that the spreader of the crane could get close enough to the middle of the boat.


The loading crew on deck


Placing the lifting belts



Fastening the webbings























A diver made sure that the lifting belts are in the right position and from now it was almost the same routine as when we take the boats out by crane in my home port.


A diver making sure the lifting belts are in the right place









Placing the lifting belts


Holding the lifting belts in place as the crane starts to hoist SeaBelow


When the boat was on deck level I could get off onto the ship


SeaBelow just before being moved onto deck


Almost there


Placing her in the right spot


First she stands only on her keel


Then the webbings are tightened

















































And then the supports are put in place and later welded to the deck











On deck of the ship they first lowered the SeaBelow so far down that she stood on her keel, then the webbings (Zurrgurt) were attached and tightened and only then they placed the supports under the hull. The supports were later welded to the deck and also the keel was secured by logs of wood that were held in place by welded-on pieces of steel.

After the loading crew was finished I could go onto the boat and finalise the work to make her ready for the journey. I deflated and packed the dinghy, took the sprayhood off, secured the boom, put the backstay back on, cleaned the bilge, packed the rest of my things, did the dishes, collected the trash. After 3 hours I was ready and left the boat, handed the key over to the loadmaster and went ashore to the Crown Bay Marina from where I called Manfred the sail maker to pick me up because he had offered that I could stay at his place until my flight.

Antigua to St. Thomas

Antigua to Sint Maarten

On 14. April we lifted our anchor in English Harbour on Antigua and sailed over night to Sint Maarten. It was a pleasent sail with a nice wind, meaning from the right direction and strong enough to give us a decent speed but not to strong to make any trouble. A little after sunrise we arrived and dropped our anchor in the Simpson Bay. Because we had learned that the authorities can be very strict regarding crew going on shore without being cleared in, I took the dinghy to clear us in while Marco stayed on board. Luckily it was not difficult and not a too far walk to the customs and port authority so after 1,5 hours I was back on board and we both could go on land.

Simpson Bay

Simpson Bay on Sint Maarten (Dutch part)

On our departure when I cleared out we learned that the fees were 27 US-Dollars, independent from the length of stay on the island. We spent some time in an air conditioned French bakery. It being French in a Dutch/English environment shows the vicinity of France on the other half of the island which belongs to France and therefore to the EU and the currency there is the Euro.
But we did not go to the French side, we only heared about it. On the Dutch side they in theory have their own currency, called Dutch Antilles Guilder, but all prices and all money was in US-Dollars. And people were mostly at least bi-lingual with Dutch and English and some spoke also Spanish. And it all looked rather US-american and the electricity is also US-american meaning it is 110V and the sockets are the two vertical slots and not the round wholes as we have them in Europe.
The next day we met with Maria, who had sailed with me from Lisbon to Gran Canaria in October / November 2014. She showed us around the hills as she knew the island already very well because she had spent already three months here.

Sint Maarten to Virgin Gorda

That evening, we lifted our anchor at about 20:00 to sail to Virgin Gorda, one of the British Virgin Islands and almost the end of the trip to the north of the Caribbean.
Most of the journey was fine, we had started so late in the evening because it was only 90 nm and we wanted to make sure we arrive at day time to find our way through the rocks and reefs into the Francis Drake Channel which forms the water between the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
But in the morning some rain clouds came over us with an increased wind speed while I was on watch. Due to the increased wind speed I wanted to reef the furling genoa but I made mistake. I thought I could just let the sheet go and furl it in but the wind was too strong and the flapping sail was wound around the forestay so it would not furl in nor out. With me being alone on watch I could not really handle the sail and after a while of trying the sail ripped along one of the stitching lines. So I wound it around the forestay as good as I could and we continued under main sail only which was enough in this wind speed.
The lesson learnt was that I should have pointed the boat with the bow into the wind as good seamanship foresees it in such a situation. You see, even experienced sailors make mistakes.
The sail probably would have ripped along this line sooner or later anyway so the cost of repair would have occurred anyway.
However, we happily reached the marina in Spanish town before noon and again I had to go to clear us in. This again was no problem and cost 4 US-Dollars. We treated ourselves to the luxury of a marina, including water it was 43. US-Dollars for one night. Quite expensive but sometimes you need the luxury of a sweet water shower and easy and independent access to the boat without depending on the dinghy. We shopped a little bit in the surprisingly well stocked little supermarket in the marina, spent some time on the internet, got the ripped genoa down and put the smaller but brand new Genoa 3 on and had a very nice meal with rib eye steak, green beans and potatoes.

Bunte Haeuser Spanish Town

Colourful houses in Spanish Town on Virgin Gorda on the British Virgin Islands (BVI)

Eingang Spansih Town Marina

Entrance of the Virgin Gorda Marina

Strasse in Spanish Town

On the main road in Spanish Town on Virgin Gorda

Stromzaehler Spanish Town

The normal way to place the electric meters in the Virgin Islands (US and British)

Sunset from Spanish Town Marina Virgin Gorda

Sunset from the Virgin Gorda Marina





































Virgin Gorda to Tortola

Via facebook I knew already that my sailing friends Kjell and Kristine of the SY “Emma” were on the BVI and planning to go to the Cane Garden Bay on Tortola. The nice thing about the Virgin Islands, British as well as the US Virgin Islands, is that the distances are really short. So from Spanish Town to Cane Garden Bay it was only 15nm and because we had to leave the marina by 11 am anyway we arrived after a very pleasant down wind sail in the Cane Garden Bay at 3:30 and dropped the anchor there. Soon later Kjell and Kristine arrived as well and we had some drinks on board of SeaBelow.

Cane Garden Bay Beach

Cane Garden Bay Beach

Cane Garden Bay

Cane Garden Bay

Although it being a nice bay, the warning of the guide book became true during that night that there can be a strong swell. It became so strong even though there was no wind that Emma changed from their anchor spot to one of the many moorings were a little bit less swell was.
But as soon as possible everybody left the bay the next morning, so did we and Emma and we went to Sopers Hole on the south-eastern end of Tortola.
It was a very quiet bay but a lot of boats and no space to anchor except in 18 metres deep water. But for that I do not have enough anchor chain and rope. So we picked up one of the moorings which is of course a good thing but the price was high, 30 US-Dollars for the mooring per night.



Getting a visa for the USA

But we had to stay here anyway because we needed to get our US-visa. Now, that is and interesting thing when you want to enter the US with your own boat. Before you can enter the US with your boat you need to have a visa. One way is to get a so called B1 visa which is valid for 10 years once you got it. But that requires an interview at an US –embassy, the would have been on Barbados or Trinidad. Too far away for us.
The other way is that you apply for a visa waiver on the ESTA-web page of the US Border Control and Protection. This takes some time and concentration to understand the questions correctly. After you filled in everything and payed the 14 US-Dollars fee your application is processed. In my case I got the approval instantly which means there is appearently only a computer check made but no human checks it. The permission of the visa waiver then gives you the right to travel with a commercial carrier by plane or ship to a US-Customs and Border inspection office. And you need the print out of the approval. So the next day we took the ferry from West End / Sopers Hole to Cruz Bay on St. John, the US-Virgin Island we could already see from our mooring. The ferry costs 55 US-Dollars return ticket and the authorities want a “departure tax” of 20 US-Dollars. The trip to Cruz Bay only takes 30 minutes and the ferry stops directly at the customs office. So all passengers got off the little ferry and queued to get their access to the US.
When it was our turn we were quiet excited wether everything would go well. And everything went well. After approx. 10 minutes it was all over and we were free to stroll around the island. We spent the time with walking around Cruz Bay and paying a visit to the St. John National Park Visitors Centre. These US-national park visitor centres are always worth a visit because they are usually well made in the sense that you quickly get a good overview of what the specialties very friendly and happy to answer your questions.
Three hours after our arrival we took the ferrry back to Tortola via Jost van Dyke, another BVI island where we had to leave the ferry shortly to clear in again into the BVI. So in West End / Sopers Hole we could just walk through the customs.
Back in Sopers Hole we met with Kjell and Kristine that evening for first some drinks in the marina bar and then continued on board of Emma.

From Tortola to St. John

The next morning Marco and I left to sail to Cruz Bay once again to clear in the boat. This was as exciting as our first visit. I had already obtained a form that has to be filled for the boat. It was good to know the place so we could prepare the boat for mooring in front of the customs building.
And again everything went well, we just had to complete some fields in the form which I had left blank because I did not have a shipping agent for example.
After that we left immediatly the customs pier because you are not allowed to stay there longer than your customs clearence takes.
The visit in the national park visitors centre had already created the idea to go to the park for two days which we still had before Marco had to be on St. Thomas to catch his flight to Florida. So we went to the Cinnamon Bay where you have to use a mooring buoy. It was a nice calm bay with a beautiful beach and a camp site nicely hidden behind the trees and bushes on the beach so the view was not spoilt by man made infrastructure. Only a historical warehouse which was now serving as an exhibition room about the history of the island was visible.
The moorings are not free but 15 US-Dollars per night was ok for being it in a national park.

Cinnamon Bay Beach 3

Cinnamon Bay Beach

Cinnamon Bay Beach

Exhibition house on Cinnamon Beach

We went snorkelling and saw sea turtles and sting rays (Rochen) and several other fish of which we do not know what they are called.
For a day trip we changed to the Trunk Bay which is the next bay just a mile away and where there is a so called under water trail along the reef. It turned out to be about 6 signs put under water in about 2,5 m depth where some facts about the plants and animals of the reef were written and these signs were stretched over about 100 m. Many people from the near by beach were snorkeling around like us and enjoyed the clean clear shallow and warm water.
Because it was too rolly here we went back to the Cinnamon Bay for the night.


Reef Cinnamon Bay

Reef in Cinnamon Bay






SeaBelow before Sunset in Cinnamon Bay

SeaBelow before Sunset in Cinnamon Bay












From St. John to St. Thomas

The next morning we started sailing to Charlotte Amalie, the main city on St. Thomas. It was a nice pleasant sailing, quite slow actually because there was not much wind, we even got out the spinaker. Once in the St. Thomas harbour we could see the city and headed for the anchorage right in front of the historic town centre, which was Danish until Denmark sold what is now the US Virgin Islands 1917 to the USA. So the street names are often still Danish and one of the oldest historic buildings in the USA is the Fort Christian in Charlotte Amalie.

Ansteuerung Charlotte Amalie

Approach to Charlotte Amalie






Ankerbucht Charlotte Amalie

Anchorage in front of Charlotte Amalie

Fort Christian

Fort Christian (the red building in the background)


Cruise Ships in Charlotte Amalie

Hassel Island Careenign Cove

Hassel Island Careening Cove

Norwegian Getaway

Cruise ship „Norwegian Getaway“


We anchored near the Coast Guard Pier and rowed ashore to find some internet and a cool place to sit for the rest of the afternoon. Marco also had to figure out how to get to the airport the next morning at 6 a.m.
We found a nice back yard open air pub where we had a sandwich with some drinks and could sit on the internet and charge our computers.
In the evening we went for dinner to the Greenhouse on the water front and at around 7 pm went back to the boat.
It was quite a rolly night and I decided that I would look for a better place the next day after Marco had gone to the airport and I done my land business.
So early next morning, Friday 24. April, we got up and I rowed Marco ashore. After saying good bye I went back to the boat to sleep a little bit more and have breakfeast.





















The whole reason we came to St. Thomas is that I want to put SeaBelow on a freight ship to get her back to Europe. Over the internet I found the German company Global Boat Shipping (GBS) in Leer who made me a good offer and the ship on which they were selling a space for me leaves from St. Thomas.
They have an agent here and for such an exciting operation I needed to see somebody in person to get a better feeling about it all. Up to know I only had contact with GBS in Leer by phone and e-mail. So I walked all the 3 km through the tropical heat to the office of the local agent and had a little chat with him, mainly to make sure that I had done all my duties regarding the customs clearance. But there was nothing actually to be done by me. All the agent has to do here is to tell the customs which boats are leaving.

Hassel Island
He also told me where I could find a sail maker to repair the ripped genoa and he recommended me to go to Manfred Dittrich on Hassel Island.
So I did after I had come back to my boat. But the agent had not been 100% sure in which bay on the island it was, so I had to cruise up and down the coast of the island, luckily it is only 1nm long and there were only two options where it could be.
Finally I decided to look into the Careening Bay and when I came into it an elderly couple in their dinghy were also looking for the sail maker, but they had not yet found him. There were two free mooring bouys in the small bay and I picked one up to look by myself. That moment a man in his dinghy came and I waved him over to ask him for the sailmaker. And “Yes” he said, Manfred the sailmaker is right here and he is going there himself. So he gave me tow with my dinghy over to the tiny little harbour. And there very nicely cast away in the bushes were some old warehouses, probably of the Hapag Lloyd coaling station which was here until 1917, where Manfred has his workshop. The surrounding of the old warehouses is full of old ship equipment like anchors, ropes, booms, safety rings, old bottles and there were legouans, peacocks (Pfauen), crabs in shells, it all looks like a pirates nest 250 years ago.


Manfred´s Workshop

Altes Lagerhaus

Old Warehouse




Life rafts


The dog




Small pirate ship



Manfred turned out to be a German in his 70ies or maybe even eighties, but still fit to repair sails and he has some younger men working for him. So I agreed with him to leave the sail in his workshop the next day because it was already the end of his working day. But I used the remaining hours to clean the bilge from diesel that had apparently gotten there. I suspected one of the jerry cans in the cockpit locker to be the source. It was one of them, but not the one I had suspected, it was a completely different one which had a little whole at its bottom feet. I do not now it got it, but it must have happened at one time when the jerry can was dropped too heavily on the ground or into the cockpit locker. It is strange that it did not leak earlier because between the last movement of it and the occurence of the diesel in the bilge there were several days. Anyway, I cleaned everything and luckily got rid of the diesel smell. I could fill some of the diesel into the main diesel tank and some into one of the other jerry cans which had some space left.
This bay is one of the nicest places I have stayed and it is the best in the Charlotte Amalie area when it comes to calmness from the swell in the southerly trade winds we are experiencing at the moment.
So it was a very nice quiet night and the next morning I talked with Manfred what I wanted him to do on the sail and he said it would be ready Wednesday the following week.


































Having done that I walked over the island and explored the historic sites of it, a lime kiln (Zementofen),

Lime Kiln

The old kiln








the old ware houses of a Danish ship provisioning company

Brondsted and Company Wharf

Brondsted and Company Wharf







Roof to collect rain water for the cisterns to provision the ships with fresh water

Verrosteter Prahm

An old barge that was used to transport coal and other provisions to the ships


















and the remains of a British officers quarters from the napoleonic wars.

British Officers Quarter

British Officers Quarters


Cemetry of the Hazzel Family















It was really hot and after about one hour I went back to the cool breeze on the boat.

SeaBelow durch Loch in Mauer

SeaBelow in the Careening Cove

SeaBelow in Careening Cove

SeaBelow in the Careening Cove. The quay on the other side used to be the coaling station of the Hamburg based Hapag shipping company until 1917 when the Danish sold the islands to the USA. Being it a German owner the USA confiscated the land because it was the First World War.




















My next destination was the anchorage on the west side of water island opposite the Crown Bay Marina. Arriving there after shortly motoring there within 30 minutes I tried to anchor close to the beach of the island but the anchor did not hold in the 4,5 m deep water so I tried it in the deeper water at 8 metres and there it held.
I rowed across to the marina and treated me to a sandwich from the delicatessen shop and an cappucino from the little harbour cafe.
When I started rowing back to my boat the security man told me that it is not allowed to row in the marina, only motor dinghies are allowed! I looked at him and he only shrugged his shoulders and said that he is not making the rules. I did not say anything and just continued rowing but I thought this is a very stupid rule and I did not understand it.
So the next day I just stayed on board and had a lazy day with some reading.
Next to the marina is the quay where ships moor which load the yachts. There seem to leave many freight ships with yachts from here and there was one lying right across from my anchorage, so the whole day I could observe how they loaded the yachts. Sometimes it took them quite long to do so.
After two nights on this anchorage I wanted to go somewhere where I could row ashore without being chased away so I went back to the St. Thomas harbour but this time close to the yacht have marina. Here it was no problem to land with a rowed dinghy, there were several people who did not have an engine on their dinghy.
It was now Monday and I decided to check out the Carnval. On the square next to the Fort Christian they had put up a little fun fair for the kids and next to it a stage and around the space booths where you could buy all sorts of Carribbean food. I was there by 6p.m. as I had been told the activities would start. Well, what started was the fun fair for the kids, the music started about 8p.m. and slowly the square filled with people. But nobody was dressed up for Carnival, everybody came in his normal leisure wear. And it was striking how much police officers where around. At times it looked as if 10% of the persons on the square were police officers. I wondered what they are so afraid of. Later I read in the newspaper that almost every year at carnival there is a shooting or stabbing happening. So I knew why they had so much police around.
By 10p.m. I got tired and did not have the feeling that this evening would get any more exciting, especially when I saw that many people had brought folding chairs, indicating that they were expecting a relaxed evening.
As my computer had stopped working the week before I had on that Monday found a little PC repair shop where I brought the laptop on Tuesday and he had promised to have it ready by Thursday. The evening I tried the Karaoke evening in the marina bar “Fat Turtle” which was quite nice because actually everybody who sang a song, and there was always somebody, was a good singer, so it was good fun to listen to it.
The next day, I had nothing to do than to wait for my computer to become ready and it being too hot to walk around on land, I once again just stayed on the boat.
When I came to pick up my computer on Thursday it turned out that the repair guy did not have to erase everything on the hard drive but that he could run a repair programme which fixed the software problem of the operating system. So I did have much less work as I did not have to reinstall everyhting and secondly it was only 60US-Dollars instead of 125 US-Dollars it would have cost if he had to erase and reinstall the operating system..
Having gotten my laptop back I changed back to the Careeing cove where the sail maker is and picked up a mooring. The next morning, Friday 1st May, I went to Manfred to pick up the sail.
On the evening I had been invited by Mel and Jane on their Swan 47 “Cygnus” which they are going to load on the same ship as mine. They live in New York so they will unload it Newport / Rhode Island where the freight ship will call before it crosses the Atlantic to Southampton.
We had a nice chat over some beers and shrimps and they told me that they want to sell the boat in Rhode Island because they are getting too old to sail it. So, if you are interested in a 1984 Swan 47 in very good shape, here is one for you. The special thing about this boat is that it has a center board which extends the draft to 10 feet, if you lift it up has only 6 feet draft which is the maximum for the Intercoastal Waterway along the US-East Coast.

So, now I am sitting here and wait for the freightship “Sampogracht” to arrive next week Thursday to load SeaBelow onto it.

Why I put SeaBelow on a freight ship back to Europe

You probably wonder why I do that rather than sailing her back to Europe as it was my original plan.
Well, there are several things that come together. First of all I have to admit that the Atlantic crossing was actually quite boring and I do not feel like doing it once again.
SeaBelow is a great sailing boat and could handle all the situations we were in absolutely perfect, so there is no reason not sail with her across an ocean. And yet, 31 feet is quite small and with three people it gets very packed. There are always things lying around, it takes a lot of discipline to keep the boat tidy so this adds to the physical effort.
The next thing is that when we arrived on Martinique in February I got a Makula oedem in my right eye as I found out when I went to an eye doctor in Fort de France. I went there because the vision on my right eye had gotten suddenly bad.
He prescripted me some pills to be taken over a period of three months visit consultations at the doctor every 4 weeks.
I thought thanks god it “only” a oedem and not a retina ablation. But an oedem was scary enough for me to decide that I did not want to leave the reach of medical support for several weeks as it would have been necessary to sail back to Europe.
Thirdly crewing is one of the biggest problems on such a trip. To be honest, I would only do another ocean crossing with good friends or relatives with whom I have sailed before and know how they behave on a boat and equally if not more important with whom I have a lot in common and we should not run out of topics to talk about. The most important thing on such an ocean crossing it to have something to entertain you and your crew and topics to talk about are among the most important.
And because none of my friends who I would take along on such a trip had the time to take several weeks of holiday, I skipped that idea and also to sail single handed was never an option for me because I think I would be bored to death.

But I am really looking forward to sail the European waters from the English Channel to the Dutch coast and through the Netherlands with another stop over in Amsterdam and in the cosy small cities on the shores of the Ijsselmeer.

Martinique to Antigua

On the anchorage at St. Anne / Martinique

From the 13. March until 6. April (Easter Monday) I was anchored off St. Anne. I met my sailing friends Asha and Helge from „Gegenwind“, met new friends Matthias and Katja from „Papillon“ and Susanne and Knut with their guest Eva on „Shogun“ who came back after they had been to Dominica for a week.

St. Anne vom Wasser

St. Anne seen from the anchorage

Ankerfeld St. Anne

The anchor field of St. Anne













The traditional Yole sailing boats of Martinique

Ankerlieger Bucht von Le Marin

The anchorage of Le Marin on Martinique seen from the hills

Stier an Kette

This was a very typical way how cows were kept on Martinique, just on a chain or rope on an open field. This was an ox on a field right next to the main road in Le Marin / Martinique



























We had a nice barbecue on the beach with „Pacific“, „Gegenwind“, „Shogun“, „Papillon“ and me from „SeaBelow“.
Eva and I rented a car one day and drove around the island.
During the whole time I was renovating the fridge. It mostly meant something of like 30 – 60 minutes every day because when you work with epoxy you always have to wait until the glue is dry which you should give time until the next day. To get the plywood for the inner panelling took me two days. On the first day I took the bus from St. Anne to Le Marin (5 km) but could only order the wood at the carpenter. I had to come back the next day which in fact was the Monday after a weekend to pick the wood up. Each trip by bus takes about  1 hour per direction so each trip was almost a whole day acitivty.


The awful looking fridge before renovation








I met with Anna from Hamburg in Fort de France who I had contacted via couchsurfing. I was waiting for the Pactor Modem I had ordered in Germany. With a Pactor Modem you can send and receive e-mails via the SSB (Kurzwellenfunkgerät). According to the tracking number it should have been at the main post office of Fort de France since 17. March but when I went there they said it was not there and told me I should go and ask at the DHL branch at the airport. For that day it was too late to go there so I had to come back the next day. But at DHL they did not have the package either and told me to go to the main post office. I said that I had been there already so all they did was to try to call there but nobody picked up the phone and gave the phone number and that I should try it the next day in the morning. So I did but of course nobody picked up the phone either. So I left it until my next visit to Fort de France. Because I had a doctors appointment after Easter I went to the post office then and now they found the package. It probably had been there already at the first time but they just did not look properly.
Eva and I went often to the beautiful beaches of Martinique.

Le Salines Strand

The beautiful Les Salines beach on Martinique


Mangrove swamps behind the beach

Anse Le Meunier Strand

The equally beautiful beach on Anse Le Meunier on Martinique






















Some days I spent in the cafe on the internet.

Day trip over Martinique
The trip over the island with Eva was really nice, we saw a lot of interesting places. First the church Sacre Coeur, which really reminds of the original Sacre Coeur in Montmartre in Paris.

Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur in Le Marin / Martinique










Then we stopped at a botanical garden where we saw all the tropical plants of the island in one place and they had a tree top walk so we could see it all from above.

wassersammelnde Blueten tierartige Blumen Superbambus Seerosen rote Bluete Luftwurzler gecko Botanischer Garten Blume Blueten an Baum Blick ueber das Tal Baumwipfelpfadbruecke Baumwipfelpfad Bambus







































































Afterwards we went to St. Pierre, the former capital of Martinique until 1902. In 1902 the nearby volcano Mont Pelee broke out and only very few people survived. Mainly because the authorities had no one allowed to leave the town because an election was planned and they wanted people to participate. One of the survivors was a convicted murderer in the jail who was in an especially fortified prison cell which protected him from the ashes and the heat and smoke. The ground walls of the prison and the ruins of the theatre right next to it are the very few remains of the old St. Pierre that can still be seen today.


The prison cell in which the only prisoner of the prison survived the outbreak of the volcano, thanks to the thick walls.


Ruin of the rest o the prison

Erklaerung Gefaengnisueberlebender


















Ruin of the theatre which is next to the prison.












Then we tried to drive up to the top of the mountain from the west side. The road we took got narrower and narrower until it was only one lane but it was still paved. But we got only 3,5km close to the top. From that point it would have been a two hours walk to the top.

Wanderkarte Mont Pelee

The sign at the end of the paved road where the foot trail starts to the top of the Mount Pelee.









But because it was already 4 pm meaning only 2,5 hours of daylight left, we turned the car around and tried it from the south. We got up to the car park but here the view was blocked by thick fog. This is the case most of the time.

Mont Pelee im Nebel

Mount Pelee in fog








We enjoyed the “view” and because the evening was already approaching we made plans to look for a nice restaurant to have dinner. We found a nice one on the peninsula on the east coast of Martinique.
After the nice dinner we drove back and arrived late at night at our boats.

New crew on board

On Easter Saturday Marco, my swiss crew came on board and on Easter Sunday we spent 1,5 hours diving the hull to clean it from algies, barnacles and mussles. On Easter Monday we sailed the 22 nm from Le Marin to Fort de France and spent the Tuesday there during which I went to the doctor and in the evening we found a really nice bar called “Garage Popular” in the Rue Lamartine 121. It is really only the size of a garage for two cars but it was a nice atmosphere and a nice multi-cultural atmosphere. The place is run by two Germans and they have a second bar across the street in Rue Lamartine 116 where they also have often live music. Unfortunately we found this place only on the very last day.

On Wednesay 8. April we set sail to sail 120 nm to Deshaies on Gouadaloupe.

Marco und ich







We had a good wind from the beam (Halbwind) only on the lee side of Dominica and Guadaloupe we some times had absolutely now wind so we fired up the engine and usually after half an hour we nice wind again. So the whole trip took us 25 hours.
In Deshaies it was raining all the time because the clouds climb up the mountain on the east side of the little bay, condensate on the top of the mountain and start to rain.


The rainy anchorage of Deshaies on Guadaloupe









Deshaies/Gouadaloupe to Antigua
Because we were tired from the night sailing we went to sleep at 8 pm. This was good because due to that we woke up at 5 am the next morning on Friday 10. April  and shortly after sun set at 6 am we lifted the anchor and sailed 42 nm to English harbour on Antigua.
We wanted to make sure that we arrive early enough to clear in on the same day because you are not allowed to go on land if you are not cleared in. The customs and immigration closes at 15:45 and because we started so early and had a good wind we dropped the anchor already at 13:17 in the Ordinance Bay of English Harbour.
After a little half an hour and the payment of 94 EC Dollars we were cleared in. So no problem at all.

SeaBelow in Ordinance Bay

SeaBelow on the anchorage in Ordinance Bay in English Harbour on Antigua

Ordinance Bay

England in the Carribbean

Nelsons Dockyard von der Ordinance Bay

Nelsons Dockyard seen from the Ordinance Bay in English Harbour on Antigua

We strolled around Falmouth, how the place here is called.
Through Trip Advisor we found the bar Mad Mongoose in Falmouth which is a meeting place of sailors and so we first met the Danish couple Isabella and Adolf again who I had met the first time on the anchorage of Canouan in the Grenadines and later we played pool with some young lads of the professional crew of one of the superyachts in the Marina.












Portrait Nelson

Lord Nelson


Lord Nelson, in the museum in the old barracks of Nelson Dockyard

Tod und Gesundheit

Life was not easy in the tropics during Nelsons time

Fanny Nisbet

Fanny Nisbet, Lord Nelsons wife who died early.

Kanonen Feldbett Bett
































Palme am Strand Falmouth Bay

On the beach at Falmouth Bay

Fuesse am Strand Falmouth Bay

View from onto Falmouth Harbour from the beach















With Isabella and Adolf we went to the Shirley Heights Lookout on Sunday evening. Herethey have a BBQ, a steel band and later a reggea band and loads of people, most of them tourist, came there. You have a wonderulf view over the bays of English Harbour and Falmouth and can nicely view the sun set behind the mountains.

Steelband Shirley Heights

Traditional steel band at the barbecue on Shirley Heights

Sunset from Shirley Heights

Sunset over English Harbour seen from Shirley Heights

English Harbour from Shirley Heights

English Harbour in the foreground and Falmouth in the back ground


Is this the paradise??

Living in a big bubble

We all know the Bacardi-Rum commercials with people having a drink on a perfect beach under palm trees. That is probbably the picture most people have of the Carribbean. It is not all wrong this picture but there is a lot it does not show.
It does not show the huge economic gap between the black local population and the almost to 100% white tourists. The Carribbean Islands are all (including the French Islands Gouadaloupe and Martinique) struggling hard to make a living. They do not have many natural ressources and the export of fruits and vegetables does not provide much income.
So one of the most important sources of income is the tourism. It is clearly directed to „rich“ people from the industrialised countries. On land every island has one or several hotel resorts with the complementary array of bars, restaurants and leisure service businesses like diving, boat tours with glass bottoms, kitesurfing and the like. The roads and paths are nicely paved and it really looks like paradise (if it was even for at least European standards not so expensive). Then next to it normally you have the local people living with simple restaurants, supermarkets not offering by far the choice of goods as we are used to in Europe (not even in the Carrefour on Martinique). They all try to make a living e.g. by selling fruits and vegetables along the street.
But what is somewhat not understandable are the prices. A loaf of bread in a bakery on St. Vincent cost 3,50 East Carribbean Dollars (EC$) which is about 1,28 Euros. For the locals this is very expensive if you take into account that the minimum wage on these islands is around one Euro per hour. So it is about an hours wage to buy this one loaf of bread. And it was the officially displayed price so I have to assume that everybody pays it not just we whites.
This all feels like living in an unreal bubble. For us sailors this bubble of surreality is even bigger. On the anchorages are often hundreds of yachts, even some mega yachts with helicopters on them with professional crews comprising of white people from Australia, England, Canada or Europe, but only very seldom local blacks.
So on the anchorage it is only „rich“ whites and if you go ashore with your dinghy you find sometimes one restaurant next to the other, with the waiters being black and the guests exclusively white.
It looks all like a huge holiday park that has got nothing to do with reality. Most people probably just do not care about the surreality of this holiday life because it is just a holiday of some weeks during which they make use of the offered opportunities and then fly back home.

I found an interesting scientific article about the economic, social and ecologic situation on Martinique:  Problèmes socio-économiques insolubles de la Martinique – Intractable social-economic problems of Martinique It gives a good overview into the problems these islands have.

What do all the sailors do here?
But what do all the sailors do and want here? I have to investigate more on that. The current feeling is that many of them do not really know what to do next. One issue is that currently there is the season here and one can stay in the Carribbean until mid of May before the hurricane season starts and one should be gone. But even that is not imperatively necessary, many people put their boat in a hurricane whole or just stay on the boat and in case a hurricane comes, they move the boat out of the way of the hurricane. Thanks to the US-American National Hurricane Center the forecasts are very good and you know many days in advance that a hurricane is coming and where it most probably will go along. Not every island here is hit every year by a severe hurricane, so in other words it is actually very likely that you will not experience a hurricane.
So those who want to sail back to Europe have roughly another two months during which they can explore the Carribbean Isalnds and they are just chilling at anchor and pass the time.
Others, who want to go to the Pacific also still have some time before they have to go to Panama to go through the Panama Canal.


Sunken boats
But looking around especially here in the Le Marin bight on Martinique there must be many sailors who ran out of money, motivation or both. There are dozens of sunken sailing yachts of which you often only see the mast sticking out of the water but also many where the deck is still visible because they sank in shallow water.
I have never seen that before. Apparently nobody tidys them up, no owner and no authority. I wander how the situation will be in another ten to twenty years. Because the boats are from plastic they do hardly rot away and if every year a few more sunken yachts and catamarans are added the bay will be full of sunken boats. At least not nice to look at.
But what it mostly tells is that apparantly many people change their plan or had to change their plan.


Heruntergekommene Yacht Le Marin

A quite rotten boat in the Le Marin Marina but there are also many sunken boats.









Exploring St. Vincent and the Grenadines

I made a little map which should open when you click on this link:
Karte Karibik

Clean up of boat in St. Lucia

But let me tell a bit more what I did here in the Carribbean up to now. After we had anchored the first night we went into the Rodney Bay Marina the next morning to clear in at the customs, to take a shower, to fill up the water tanks, to get rid of the garbage and to clean the boat and wash clothes. On arrival at our berth we met again the crew of the German catamaran Blue Note we had met in the boat yard in Lisbon. It was very nice to be welcome by some familiar people. They told us a lot about good places in the Carribean and offered us a cold beer, which was the first after 2,5 weeks. It tasted very good.
The next day we went shopping in a St. Lucia supermarket and were shocked by the prices for some products but also generally speaking things were not cheap.

Fort de France on Martinique
Because we wanted to visit the Carnival on Martinique anyway and we were told that there the supermarkets are cheaper we sailed to Fort de France on Martinique the next day. That was just a short day trip of 6 hours. The anchorage was unusually rolly as other yachts told us but after two nights the swell had calmed.

FdF Strand

The fort of Fort de France and the city beach as seen from the anchorage

FdF Turm

Modernisation also takes place in Fort de France
















And to my great joy some other familiar yachts came to Fort de France for Carnival, namely Mike and Asa on Seahawd, Eelko and his family on Pacific and Tinkerbell. On arrival we had already met the Kjell and Christin of the Norwegian yacht Emma we had met in La Coruna in Spain. So we were a nice community and we hang out for the parade of Carnival.

Carnival Leute auf Auto

Carnival in Fort de France

Carinval Taenzerinnen

Carnival in Fort de France
















But Carnival here on Martinique is different from how we know it in Germany in Cologne or Mainz. In the afternoon there was a nice colourful parade with different groups dressed up in phantastic dresses and loud music at times. But after the parade people did not party in the street and even the pubs were closed, people seemed to go home. As I later learned from another German who had lived in Fort de France for some months already, people usually organise private soirées. That is probably where everybody went. But of course we were not invited to any of them. So we went on board of one of the Norwegian yachts and also had our private soirée.

Sailing to the Tobago Cays
The Tuesday after Carinval we lifted the anchor and headed south to the Tobago Cays.

St. Lucia Haeuser an Westkueste

The west coast of St. Lucia








Palmenstrand St. Lucia

Palm Beach on St. Lucia








The famous pitons of St. Lucia

The famous pitons of St. Lucia









Because it was rather far we started early and just before sunset picked up a mooring bouy in Souffriere on St. Lucia. The next morning again we left early and sailed along the west coast of St. Vincent to Bequia, which is just five miles south of St. Vincent and is part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Again just before sunset we dropped the anchor in the Admiralty bay which was full of boats, it must have been hundred or more, with some mega yachts with helicopters on deck among them.

The anchorage in the Admiralty Bay on Bequia

The anchorage in the Admiralty Bay on Bequia









Admiralty Bay Beach Restaurant

The view onto the beach in the Admiralty Bay from SeaBelow










It was a very strange place. On the boats only whites, mostly American and British, the whole shore line of the bay was plastered with one restaurant, cafe, bar or pub next to each other, all not very busy but the few guests who were there where only whites and in almost all of them the waiters were black. There was one café which was run by a white couple.

Admiralty Bay restaurant

One of the many beach restaurants where only whites are as guests and the waiters are all local blacks

Admiralty Bay Beach Resort

One of the resorts along the shoreline of the Admiralty Bay
















Admiralty Bay street

The central square in the Admiralty Bay Village on Bequia

Customs house Admiralty Bay

The customs house where we had to clear into St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It is in the village at the Admiralty Bay on Bequia.















The oddest place was a bar where a trio was playing some life music, the all white guests dressed up like for a cocktail party and being all American. It felt so unreal you can not describe it.

Snorkeling with sea turtles
After clearing in the next day we left the Admiralty Bay and went to the Tobago Cays 20 miles south of Bequia. This is a natural reserve protected by a coral reef. It has nice turquoise water, you anchor on sand and there is good snorkeling in ca. 2m deep water. The main attraction here are the sea turtles you can dive with. It takes some time and patience to find one but than it is a very peaceful sight to observe the turtles how they graze the sea weed and come up to the surface every few minutes to grasp some air.

Ankerplatz Tobago Cays

One of the anchorages of the Tobago Cays









There are many boats, most of them charter catamarans so it is not a lonely bay but the good thing is there are people on the beach in the two make shift (provisorisch) restaurants who offer lobster ( Hummer). Sörens mother had invited us for the Atlantic crossing to a dinner, so we made us of it here. It was the first time that I had lobster but it tasted really good. There were many other crew having lobster, at the neighbouring table a french crew who had also brought some music. You could also bring your own drinks, but because we did not know that, we ordered the drinks from the restaurant. Strangely at 21:30 the restaurant people shut off the generator and gave us candles, they said that they would now go home but we could stay and party on if we wanted. So we did. While we were sitting and talking there a young swedish man showed up and said he was looking for a boat that is going north. I said neither yes nor no to his request at that moment.

We three from SeaBelow had to find somebody to tow us back to SeaBelow because there was a strong wind blowing from the boat towards the beach and it would have been impossible to row back with three people. Suddenly a young french woman showed up out of the dark at our table and speaking good English. She took a seat and we chatted with her the whole evening and it turned out that she was there on her fathers 50th birthday cruise on a catamaran with a skipper. And this skipper acted kind of like her chauffeur with the dinghy. That was our great luck because they gave us a lift and tow for the dinghy when we later all were tired and went back to our boats. The next morning the Swede came along in a dinghy and repeated his request. Now I said yes why not, so he got his stuff and came on board.

Beach Tobago Cays

The beach on one of the islands of the Tobago Cays

Legouan Tobago Cays

A legouan on that island. There were many of them.

Ich unter Palme Tobago Cays

On the beach under a palm tree

Catamaran before beach Tobago Cays

A catamaran anchored off one of the beaches of the Tobago Cays

SeaBelow Tobago Cays

SeaBelow on the anchorage of the Tobago Cays

In this bay again we met a boat I knew from Las Palmas on Gran Canaria, a Joshua and also called Joshua. Actually on Gran Canaria we had not talked to each other but here we did and we later met again in Le Marin on Martinique.



Muell am Strand

The plastic garbage even in this nature reserve shows that even the dream beaches do not come without the downsides of civilisation and tourism







































After two days in the Tobago Cays we went back north headed for St. Lucia because Marcos had his flight back home from there on 26th February. But we still had some days so we stopped on the only 5 miles north of Tobago Cays lying island Canouan. It is quite small with not may inhabitants but it was a quiet anchorage with finally not so many boats. The day we went ashore was Sunday 22nd February and while we were roaming through the little village we heard some music and singing which we followed. It turned out to be a church service held in a school. There was a gospel choir singing, drums and e-piano playing and the room was packed with people of all ages and all of them dressed up in their best Sunday dresses. Only we three came in our bleached out shorts and threadbare (abgenutzt, schlabbrig) t-shirts. We stayed a while and even listened to the sermon of the bishop who had come this day because it was the first anniversary of this church.
On the east side, which is always the side facing the Atlantic and from where the trade winds (Passatwinde) and the waves come, Canouan has a reef and between the reef and the actual island is a very nice shallow area where we went swimming and snorkeling and the first time we had the beach entirely just to ourselves.

Canouan Reef

The reef on the east coast of Canouan

Strand Canouan

The lonely beach of Canouan

Selfie Strand Canouan





















To St. Vincent
The next day we lifted the anchor and had a hard day of sailing because we had to beat up (hoch am Wind) to Calliaqua on the south end of St. Vincent. It was the last possibility to clear out we had been told on the way north to St. Lucia. We treated us to the luxury of a marina and went into the Blue Lagoon Marina where we had water and later even electricity. By bus we went to Kingstown, the capital of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and two of the marina clerks who were using the same bus as us, showed us a nice snack bar. Afterwards we went back to the boat.
We spent another day there during which we cleared out at the customs and immigration office and Sören looked for a place to stay because he had decided to stay a bit longer on St. Vincent. That was fine with me because I had already thought that when Marcos has left the boat I wanted to ask Sören as well to leave the boat because after two months I wanted my boat and thereby independency back.
When you are anchoring you always depend on the dinghy and nobody can just come and go to the boat as it one pleases. So it is not only full of people on the boat, you also can not get away so easily from it.

In this marina I let me hoist up in the mast for the regular rigg check which I had not yet done since we had arrived in the Carribbean from the Cape Verdes. And to my great shock I saw that at the top of the mast the forestay (Vorstag) started to break. One of the little wires was already broken.
So I knew it had to be replaced as soon as possible but the next reasonable place was Martinique.

Back to St. Lucia

The next day, we again started early, we sailed 40 miles beating against the wind up the east coast of St. Vincent to St. Lucia and took it easy on the rigg. We did not put up the full sails and all the time I sent a worrying look into the mast. We secured the mast with two halyards (Fallen) so that in case the wire breaks completely the mast would not fall immediately. But all went well and an hour after sunset we arrived in the bay of Vieux Fort on St. Lucia.

Hafen Vieux Fort

The commercial harbour of Fort Vieux seen from the mast top.

Ankerplatz Vieux Fort

Our Danish neighbours on the anchorage of Vieux Fort.

Ich im Masttop Vieux Fort

On the top of the mast checking the forestay.























The next morning we went to the commercial harbour where there was a concrete wall with a ladder where we could drop off Marcos and all of his luggage. The Swede, Albin, had also decided to leave here to explore St. Lucia. The problem with this place was that there was a steep bank (Böschung) so at the back where the sensor of the echo sounder is it was still three meters deep but at the front we slightly hit a rock when we moored. We had no speed so now damage was done but we had to tie the boat carefully in the right position to prevent it from moving forward in the light swell. Marcos even dived to look where the rocks are exactly and more important how much space was left under the keel and also forward.
The customs office was just a few steps away and it was no problem to clear in and declaring that two crew members would leave the boat.

After Marcos and Albin had left the boat I went to the nearby anchorage and went shopping into town. I mainly needed drinking water.
On the anchorage I met Reinhard of the Austrian Hanse 545 “Möve” and Ute and Gerd of “Foftein” who are also from Hamburg.

Marigot Bay on St. Lucia

The next day I went to Marigot bay, half the distance I sailed with a strong breeze from behind with two reefs in the main sail and no genoa. But when I came around the south west corner of St. Lucia at the Grand Piton (one of the two famous pointed rocks) the wind at first died away and I turned on the engine and afterwards it was coming back directly from the north onto the nose with Beaufort 6. I was worried about my rigg and did not dare to set up proper sails to sail out this wind so I tried to stay as close to the land as possible to have less waves and did the second half under engine.
I finally reached the cosy Marigot bay and anchored there. Together with the crew of the neighbouring yacht “Tun” I made use of the happy hour of one of the restaurants and we had some drinks together.

Marigot Bay

Marigot Bay on St. Lucia

Ankernde Boote Marigot Bay













The next day we went by bus to Castries, the capital of St. Lucia to the market and shopped for fruits and vegetables.
And here again I met Foftein but also the Dutch sailing yacht Cadans whose skipper told me which would be the best place on Martinique to get new a forestay.

Back to Martinique
So the next day sailed to Martinique. But I had picked the worst day apparently, the wind was still strong, Beaufort 6-7 and many rain showers. Luckily it was all in the Carribbean where sea water and rain are warm so the spray and rain did not matter very much.

Selfie Ueberfahrt nach Martinique

Rain and near gale winds during the crossing from St. Lucia to Martinique



But it was still exhausting and I was happy when I had finally dropped anchor in Le Marin on the south end of Martinique. On the way in I saw freight ships loaded with sailing yachts. That confirmed me to think about a this possibility which I had been thinking about earlier.

Yachten auf Frachter

Sailing yachts on a freight ship












I went straight to the super market and in the evening the French couple Maud and Jérémy of their boat Cirrus came over and we had a nice evening talking about the Atlantic crossing and how difficult it is to find a good crew for such a trip.
Then the next day I went to Fort de France to pick up a letter that was waiting there for me with most important my new credit card but also a new frame for my glasses and a book. Amazingly this packet had arrive very fast and much earlier than expected. My aunt had sent it from Hamburg by Deutsche Post (NOT DHL!!!!) with insurance and tracking number. It had taken it only two days from Hamburg to Martinique. Normally it should have take 10 days.
And the best is, it cost only 5,90 Euros.
I do not know if this was just luck or whether that happens regularly that the packet is delivered so quickly.
I got my glasses put into the new frame and then headed to the main bus station. I quickly found the bus back to Le Marin but I had to wait 1,5 hours in the bus until it started because the busses here do not have a schedule, they start when the driver thinks that the bus is full enough.

A new forestay

The next day I went to see the rigger to make an appointment for the repair. He told me to come to his work shop during the weekend where I could moore and take down the broken forestay. So I did and with the help of the neighbour I got the forestay down. I had to go back to the anchorage because he needed the mooring space for another customer.
On the following Tuesday the forestay was ready and with the help of Reinhard of the sailing yacht Möve II and one of his friends we put it back on. It looks all fine now but I still have to test it.

Gebrochene Litze Vorstag

One wire of the forestay was broken already










Meanwhile I started to renovate the fridge because the wood and insulation was rotten and stinking due to mould (Schimmel) which had developed because the plastic foil used for lining (Auskleidung) the inside had got wholes through which water and other liquids found its way.
When I rebuild it I will not use plastic foil but plywood (Sperrholz) glued together in the corners with epoxy so that no water can get out of the fridge and it will get a drain (Abfluß) so that in case some liquid occurs it can easily be drained.

St. Anne

After I had the new forestay I went with my boat to St. Anne, a small village near Le Marin but a little bit further out the bay with much clearer water and nice beaches. Here I met Asha and Helge of Gegenwind who had just arrived after their Atlantic crossing and Susanne and Knut who had been here for some time already.

St. Anne Ankerfeld

St. Anne Anchorage








With Eva, a friend on board the boat of Knut and Susanne, I explored the beaches of Salines and Anse Meunier last weekend.

Strand Salines

Salines Beach

Strand Anse Meunier

Anse Meunier beach