Holiday Happiness Möbius Update Feb 6-19, 2023

Holiday Happiness Möbius Update Feb 6-19, 2023

We don’t set out to do so on purpose, but it seems to just regularly happen that our passages coincide with holidays.  This has been the case for many years now and has continued to be the case this year with some of our most recent passages which have included:

  • Halloween Kalymnos Greece to Sicily
  • Remembrance Day Bezerte Tunisia to Saida Morocco
  • Our “First Kiss” anniversary (Dec 21)  Tangier Morocco to Las Palmas Canary Islands
  • Xmas Eve  Tangier Morocco to Las Palmas Canary Islands
  • New Years Day  First day of Atlantic Crossing from Canary Islands to Martinique Caribbean
  • Groundhog Day  Martinique to Dominica
  • Valentine’s Day  Dominica to St. Martin

No particular significance to this, just a bit of synchronicity we find interesting.

However we have been on several non holiday passages the past two weeks and wanted to provide you with an update on those so here goes.


Dominica mapWhen I left off in the last blog Update we had just anchored in a small bay off Portsmouth on the NW cost of Dominica.  Dominica was a particular highlight for Christine as she had sailed into Dominica back in 1994 with her husband Jim and son Tim (9 years old at the time) aboard their 54′ sailboat “Sunrise” so it was great fun to travel around this small formerly British island and revisit some of the same sights she had seen back then. 
PXL_20230206_153858371Dominica is quite different from most other Caribbean islands as it is one of the youngest to be volcanically formed and so it is much more mountainous and covered in verdant jungle.  It is also one of the least populated with a population of about 74k and mostly underdeveloped island but this is a plus for us as we prefer these kinds of locations, cultures and people.  We drove down parts of both coasts and through the capital city of Roseau.

PXL_20230207_173548547 If you look closely (click to enlarge any photo) I think you won’t have any problem spotting Möbius anchored amongst the other sailboats in Portsmouth Bay.

IMG_2439We soon befriended the local “character” who goes by the name of Cobra and we hired him to take care of our whole check In/Out paperwork and then spent two other days having him show us around the home he was so proud of.  One of the trips we took was on a relatively small rowboat that took us up the small river estuary that empties into Portsmouth Bay.  This was something that Christine & Tim had done when they were here.

PXL_20230206_162050772We also spent a very full day with Cobra driving through much of the island of Dominica and one of the stops was for a swim to some water falls inside a very narrow fissure in the cliffs.  Can you spot Christine swimming back through the narrow inlet?  Hint, her lifevest is red.
PXL_20230206_162029508Here is a bit more zoomed in as she was just entering the shot.
IMG_2480What makes this area particularly interesting is that there are geo thermal hot springs everywhere.  Some small little boiling mud pots like this and others creating whole heated streams and pools.

Morne Trois Pitons National Park is home to the volcanically heated, steam-covered Boiling Lake. The park also encompasses sulphur vents, the 65m-tall Trafalgar Falls and narrow Titou Gorge so we made stops in all of these.
PXL_20230206_175005641.MPApparently we aren’t the only ones how like these mineral rich waters.
PXL_20230206_175810643.MPThe younger topology and abundant rainfall also creates some spectacular waterfalls.  This beauty was particularly fetching to me and the the double waterfalls were pretty great to see as well.
PXL_20230206_180910685Dominica benefits from the abundant sources of hydro electric power generation. 
PXL_20230206_180926201No dams required when you have a vertical drop of water from the top like this example.  Most of the pipes they use for this are created of wood strips held in a cylinder like a wooden barrel with large steel clamps to hold them all together.  Amazing to see up close.


Map Martinique to BarbudaAfter a week in Dominica we took the next weather window to make the relatively short 40nm hop North to the Guadalupe.  These French Caribbean islands all use an automated DIY check In/Out system which consists of a PC setup in a marina office where you fill in the fields in a form and is then printed out.  You show your passports to the person at the store, give them 2 Euros and they stamp and sign the printed form and you’re done!  So we stopped first at the SW end of Guadalupe and anchored out in front of the marina to check in .  Unfortunately their computer system was down so I took a taxi into the main town a few kilometers north and went through the process at the Government office there.
source-geothermie-bouillanteThat only took less than two hours and we weighted anchor and went up to a lovely little anchorage off the small town of Bouillante. 
IMG_2496Not to be outdone by their neighboring island to the South, the Bay here at Bouillante has a large inflow of geo thermally heated water that creates a large section of the rocky beach that heats the seawater to hot tub temperatures up to 45C/115F and a big hit with the tourists as you can see.
KATABATIC-WIND_107076112_208753401As with many of the other Bays in this part of the Caribbean, there are frequent Karibatic winds that funnel strong gusts down the Western lee side of the mountains ashore and usually bring a lot gusty winds throughout the day and night and bringing a lot of the wet mist and rain with them.  So after enjoying the big little Festival parade in Bouillante, we decided to move on and took the next good looking weather window to make the larger jump up North.
This next passage would be a bit longer as we started to turn on the arc Westward to take us to the island of Saint Martin.  This would be about 150 nautical miles and weather wise it was best to do this as an overnight passage so on the Lucky 13th, we left blustery Bouillante in the morning and took a short 10nm jump to a much quieter anchorage on the NW end of Guadalupe and enjoyed a very peaceful day at anchor there.   Anchor up about 22:00 and we were off to St. Martin.

Caribbean_general_mapTo help put this all in perspective, here is a map of the overall Caribbean on the Right. 
Google maps Guadalupe to USVIWe wove our way through the islands of Montserrat, Antigua, St. Kitts & Nevis and Barbuda and completed the 150nm trip at an net average speed of just under 8 knots.

** NOTE: I’ve received a few questions letting me know I have caused some confusion about these boat speeds I’ve been posting.  To clarify, these speeds are calculated by taking the total distance travelled anchor to anchor and dividing it by the number of hours from departure to arrival.  Therefore this is what I refer to as our “net average speed”.  With stops along the way to clear sargasso weed or dodging other ships, our typical boat speed at any given time is usually a good bit faster in order to produce this net average speed over the whole distance.  For those wondering, our typical cruising speed is usually between 8.5 to 9 knots which we are think is the sweet  or Goldilocks just right combination of speed and fuel economy.  We continue to consume an overall average of 1.8 to 1.9 Liters/NM.  As we make more passages we will continue to try out different engine RPM, propeller pitch and boat speeds to see how these affect the fuel economy and I’ll continue to update you here as we gather those data points.

Saint/Sint Martin aka SXM

We have both been to SXM several times before on different boats so this was somewhat familiar territory for both of us for a change. 

Saint_Martin_travel_mapThis is another quite unique island as the southern half is Dutch and the Northern half is French. SXM is also unique for the large bay captured inside the island with two entrances, one on the SW corner at Simpson Bay for the Dutch end near the large airport and then another entrance over on the North side of the Lagoon by Marigot Bay for the French side.  There is a draw bridge over each of these narrow entrances and so there are set times each day for 2 to 3 openings for inbound and then another set for outbound ships.  We arrived on the South coast of St. Martin in Simpson Bay but were just a few minutes too late for the last inbound opening of the bridge at 15:00 so we anchored for the night outside. 
Airplane landing at SXMWorked out just great as we had a lovely view from our chairs on the front deck watching the planes take off and land literally right beside us as
champagne-glasses-valentines-day-clink-901572Best of all, we popped a bottle of Champagne, (well OK, Prosecco) to celebrate Valentine’s Day 2023 and remind ourselves just how fortunate we are to have found each other and be sharing this life of love, laughter and learning.  Our latest Holiday Happiness at sea!

IMG_2509First inbound bridge opening the next morning was at 09:30 so we picked up the anchor a few minutes before and joined the lineup of boats waiting to enter into the lagoon.
IMG_2510Here is a quick look back at the boat behind us just as we were approaching the bridge.
IMG_2515It can look a bit narrow at first but we have been through before and our narrow beam (5m / 16.5ft) gave us plenty of room to spare.
IMG_2520Just to put that in perspective, here is a shot as we entered into the lagoon and all these other “little” boats/ships had come through before us so there was LOTS of room for us!
PXL_20230220_164644927After entering we needed to go through one more bridge where the causeway from the Dutch side to the French side crosses the lagoon.  We preferred the quick and easy check in/out process the French have compared to the Dutch.  This is a newer bridge that is a causeway that goes across the lagoon and it was supposed to open at 11am but after holding position for over an hour they informed us that the bridge wasn’t working and would hopefully be fixed by later in the afternoon.  So we anchored just off to the side of the bridge and waited and fortunately they got it working and we were able to cross over to the French side just after 14:00.

PXL_20230220_164633995There is lots of room to anchor all over the lagoon and we found a good spot in about 5m/14ft of water with good holding sand below for our trusty Rocna anchor.

PXL_20230220_164656204.MPThe gusty winds seem to have followed us throughout this trip and continues here in St. Martin along with short bouts of rain mostly at night. 
But we are very comfy onboard and have taken the Tender into both the French and Dutch sides to refamiliarize ourselves with this unique spot in the Caribbean.  Christine has several sailing friends she knows here and we’ll get in some visits with them as well as some larger shopping expeditions for groceries in the well stocked Carrefour store as well as boat parts in the large marine stores here in this popular spot for all the super yachts so there are lots of amenities for us to take advantage of.

We will probably stay here for another week or so before we make our next jump over to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands so stay tuned for that in the next update in a few weeks.


Gifts Galore!  Möbius Update Jan 16-Feb 5, 2023

Gifts Galore! Möbius Update Jan 16-Feb 5, 2023

As you may recall from reading THIS previous post, we had a very successful passage across the Atlantic from Las Palmas Gran Canarias and arrived in St. Anne on the South end of the French island of Martinique in the early morning hours of January 15th.  After 14 days at sea it was an abrupt but enjoyable transition to life on anchor and we spent the next two weeks in the huge anchorage beside the small village of St. Anne. 
PXL_20230119_215527890There were literally hundreds of other boats taking advantage of this unusually large shallow sandy bottom anchorage area which makes for ideal anchorage in about 6 meters/18 ft of water.  This sundown photo from shore only shows about a quarter of the anchorage so difficult to capture in one shot.
Map of Martinique

Martinique and Guadalupe to the North are what are referred to as “overseas departments”  of France meaning they are technically considered a part of France which provides them with many benefits compared to the other Caribbean islands.  Martinique has a land area of 1,128 km2 (436 sq mi) and a population of about 370k with a great variety of terrain from near desert to high mountains.  Philip had a rental car and so we spent several days driving around the island to get a better feel for its diversity.  First settled by the French, Dominica became a British colony in 1805, though a much neglected one that led to their independence in 1978.

port_de_plaisance_du_marin If you look at the bottom of the map above you can see that the bay we are in just off of St. Anne continues a long ways NE and you find several hundred more boats anchored in the neighboring bay off of the larger town of Le Marin where there are also several large marinas and charter boat facilities.  So we didn’t exactly have this all to ourselves but the island treasures more than made up for it.
IMG_2357We took the Tender all the way up this bay to check out the facilities in Le Marin and Philip kindly drove us there several times so we could stock up on what we needed from the large chandleries, grocery and hardware stores in this much larger town.
Philip CK   me rum tastingWe had changed course part way across the Atlantic to land in Martinique rather than our original destination further south on the island of Grenada when we found out that our long time sailing friend from Switzerland was going to be in Martinique enjoying his latest passion of kite foiling.  It had been over two years since we were last with Philip so one of the many gifts of the past two weeks has been time with him.  Here we are tasting some of the local artisan rum at a distillery we toured.
IMG_2402The history of many of the Caribbean islands is mixed with the creation of rum as sugar cane was such a major crop on most islands. 
PXL_20230126_145215372This particular distillery is trying to capture the variety of different sugar cane using the traditional manual processes and made for a very fun tour.
IMG_2381This is all located on the grounds of an old historical site that provided a dramatic setting for the distillery with all its now well restored old buildings.

PXL_20230128_193047974.MPOn one of our many outings with Philip we went over to the area where he kite foils and timed it to be on a Sunday afternoon when there is a weekly jazz festival which made for a very chill afternoon.
PXL_20230129_182750280Being so close, we took several walks along the southern end of Martinique which had its own diversity of idyllic sandy beaches.
IMG_2408and ocean vistas like this looking South over to the island of St. Vincent.  As you can see, the Sargasso weed we encountered all the way across the Atlantic, is very prevalent here as well.
CK me B'day from PhilipOn January 23rd, I reached my own milestone during our time at St. Anne with my very own embarras de choix of gifts including time with Philip and a surprise virtual B’day party that my Beautiful Bride secretly orchestrated. Over 35 of my dearest friends and family called into the group video from a vast swath of the planet stretching from Auckland NZ to Switzerland to make this an eXtremely memorable birthday.  My thanks to all who gifted me with your time on this very special B’day call.

Caribbean_general_mapRIght now, our thought is to make our way North from here as we wander our way through many of the other Caribbean islands and then follow the arc of other islands East over to the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas. We will start our Northern journey by going up to the next island of Dominic which has a special place in Christine’s heart from her previous time there on her sailboat Sunrise in the 1990’s.
carte-martiniqueWe keep our eye on the weather forecasts every day and on Thursday (Feb. 2nd) the constant Easterly Trade Winds were down a bit so we hoisted the anchor and headed up to the NW corner of Martinique for a short overnight anchor before heading out into the straits between Martinique and Dominica. 
Le PrechurAfter relatively short sail of about 30nm and we arrived in the small roadsted at Le Prêcheur (see map above) late in the afternoon after leaving Saint Anne about 2pm. 
Map Martinique to BarbudaThis map will give you a better sense of this string of Caribbean islands that we will be cruising through in the coming weeks.  After a good nights rest anchored off of Le Prêcheure we weighed anchor on Friday morning and headed North to cross over to Dominica.  The forecasts for lighter winds didn’t prove to be very accurate as we had average winds of +25 knots with gusts to 35 and 2 meter/6.5ft swells on our Starboard beam aka right side.  The constant higher winds on our side helped to reduce the roll a bit and we put the paravanes out for the whole crossing which smoothed the ride out considerably.  We passed a number of charter catamarans heading south and they were having a very rough ride in these winds and seas as the swells were quite short periods.
dominica-portsmouth-view-portsmouth-prince-19366518As soon as we got in the lee of the southern point of Dominica the swell disappeared and we pulled in the paravanes for a lovely smooth ride up to the NW corner of Dominica to an anchorage off the small town of Portsmouth.  Overall trip from St. Anne to Portsmouth was 86nm and we continued to motor through lots of Sargasso weed so we had to slow down and clear the paravane lines two times but our overall speed averaged about 8 knots in spite of the more boisterous winds and seas so we were quite happy with this performance.
Dominica map

NOT to be confused with the Dominican Republic the egg shaped 300 square miles of Dominica is very undeveloped compared to the other Caribbean islands with very few sandy beaches and instead filled with spectacular geological wonders; canyons, hot springs, mountain trails, jungle, ocean cliffs, thriving reefs.  The weather has been unusual for this time of year with high 25+ knot winds constantly blowing out of the East and bringing misty overcast skies across the island to where we are, pretty much all the time. 
PXL_20230205_192659924Not at all uncomfortable as we are well protected by the mountainous island with almost no fetch between us so even though the winds come racing down the slopes the waters are flat and the boat is very comfy just swinging side to side in a wide arc on the anchor chain as the gusts come through.  Our 110kg/240lb Rocna and overall anchoring setup is another of our better decisions and really helps us SWAN, Sleep Well At Night.
PXL_20230205_192749147Since we arrived in Dominica two days ago, we have been getting short bursts of rain with a few bigger downpours from time to time so it is one of those “if you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes” kind of situation.  Ideal time for us to rest up and catch up with our various jobs and projects.  We were able to get a very good SIM card from Digicel when we arrived in Martinique and it is supposed to work all the way through the rest of the Caribbean all the way North just short of the Bahamas so we’ve got quite good internet connections which have become about as basic as electricity for us.
So that is the latest sit rep for you.  We will probably be here in Dominica for the next 3-5 days keeping an eye on the weather looking for the winds and seas to calm down a bit to cross over to what Christine refers to as “the butterfly island” of Guadeloupe, another French island.  Stay tuned for that and the update on what else happened here in Dominica.

Thanks for taking the time to join us on these latest adventures and please put your comments, questions and suggestions in the “Join the Discussion” box below.