LETTER FROM Heidi & eIVIND_______WINDWARD ISLANDS (20.03.2006)
Santa Claus at Bequia, Caribbean...
Guess what is "This way" ?.
Christmas Eve at Mariann's
Christmas Eve at the beach together with friends.
Friendship Bay. F.left Annichen, Heidi & Rannveig
Scandinavian Volley tournament.
Anne is like a fish in the warm Caribbean water.
Camilla & Eivind with todays catch.
Almost on top one of the islands in Tobago Cays.
Haldor & Erna
Heidi & Krisitin enjoying the view over the Atlantic and Tobago Cays.
Tobago Cays
George Town, Grenada after Ivan.
Firefighter at Grenada - Independance Day
Touring Grenada with Ken. The Captain was more interested in the car than the spice...
One of the churches in St. Georges after Ivan. The clock in the tower was still functioning.

Letter from Windward Islands - 18. of Mars 2006

Time has past since last letter from Empire. We do hope you have found some interesting info and pictures at the frontpage…

We have been sailing in the southern part of Carebbean, among the Windward Islands , since Christmas. The Windwards Island is a chain of island from Martinique in the north to Grenada in the south. A common thing for these islands is the relaxed atmosphere, the nice beaches, beautiful coconut palms and the constant breeze. The colour of the water is varying from dark lilac to blue, turquoise and green. The water temperature is around 28 degrees Celsius. We have had several visitors onboard lately, and more to come. We think it is very nice that so many of friends and family, take the opportunity to visit us and to see “our world”.

After getting used to be onshore, and after all the ARC happenings in St. Lucia , we sailed to Bequia for Christmas Celebration together with Mariann. Most long voyaging sailors are like us, and don't like to make to many unchangeable plans. One plan has tough been in common for most of the Scandinavian sailors we have met. Christmas is to be celebrated at Mariann's at Bequia.
Mariann has invited Scandinavian sailors to her GLØGG-Christmas Party for the last 16 years. More than 200 sailors found their way to Mariann's nice little house up in the hillside, above Port Elisabet, this Christmas. Normally Mariann, three cats and two or more dogs live in the nice little house. The view from the veranda is marvellous, specially in the sun set. Christmas Eve it was rather crowded at the veranda and in and outside the house. And the atmosphere was really good.
It was a happy bunch of sailors that later walked downhill to Port Elisabeth, full of GLØGG and Christmas cakes, with a bit of something that could remind of Christmas feeling…Later Christmas Eve about 100 Scandinavian sailors gathered at the beach for a barbeque party. Local grilled pork and local grilled chicken were on the menu. It was a nice and different Christmas under the palm threes…

Annichen and Rannveig debarked after Christmas. Camilla and Bjørnar embarked. Øyvind, that also participated with us in the ARC, got his family onboard. It was “full ship” the days between Christmas and New Years Eve. We sailed further south among the Windward Islands to Tobago Cays for New Years. Tobago Cays is five deserted islands inside a horseshoe shaped reef. When you sail inside the reef, and come around the last island, you can see all the way east over the Atlantic . Only a little sandy island with a single palm three is in the way…
Tobago Cays
was a beautiful frame for New Year celebration. Among us there were turtles in the water, and fish and corals in all shapes and colours.
”Felicia”, one of many Norwegian boats at Tobago Cays, invited the Scandinavian sailors to New Years (Rum) Punch on deck. Later on the evening we had a barbeque at the beach. We almost lit up a palm three, when we tried to make up the barbeque-fire. But it all went out well, with grilled lamb legs and other good stuff.
Bjørnar, and Anders from ”Don't Worry” drove the “taxi dingy” some of the night. After a stop at “Snorre”, they found out that “Felicia's” dingy was missing. Bjørnar and Anders started a dingy-rescue-mission. They found the dingy at the beach inside a little reef. Bjørnar threw himself into the water, in the struggle for the dingy this windy night. After a short “fight” he caught the dingy, but he also stepped on a sea urchin. Bjørnar ended his New Years Eve celebration at the back, lying on a bench onboard Snorre. With his foot high and with Maggen as a nurse. Some of the pins came out, but some pins have to come out later. The foot was wrapped in a bandage with fresh warm lime juice, that is supposed to dissolve the pins.
It was a memorable New Years Eve for the rest of us, too. We had fireworks at 1900 and at 2400. 1900 at Tobago Cays is 2400 back home in Norway , so we had to put up the fireworks twice…

We found a beautiful island for our New Years Celebration, but it was not a part of the plan that the wind should be at gale force. We had to sit anchor guard onboard. Not because we were worrying about that our boat would drift away, but because of several French rental catamarans.
Most of the French rental catamarans had in common that they did not know to anchor. Some of them had to anchor just in front of us, put out their five meters with chain, and a way to small anchor. And ofcourse five minutes after the catamaran crew left for the beach, the catamarans came drifting our way. And this did not only happen with one French catamaran, but with several… Captain Empire now sees red, when he sees a French rental catamaran…

In the end of December Anne from «Vanvara» had birthday. A dingy full of cakes and coffee, balloons and presents and the crew from Don't Worry and Empire came over to Vanvara early this morning. Anne woke up to the “beautiful” singing of the two crews together with the tunes from the gale force wind…

An anchorage with not too much wind was what we were looking for when we left Tobago Cays. We dropped by Caracou, before we again sailed into Admiralty Bay , Bequia. I guess we started to like the Caribbean lifestyle – if it doesn't happen today, it might happen tomorrow. Or maybe the week after… Nobody is in a hurry at Bequia. The taxidrivers are sitting under a three, just besides the ferry quay. They might ask you if you look for a ride, but are happy with a “No thank you”. Then they can lean back and stay on with their own smalltalk. Even though it looks like everybody are having plenty of time at Bequia, and don't bother about time, there is something that is accurate at this island – The ferries. They are actually so precise, that people adjust their watches when the ferries leave the quay. The ferries go between Bequia and St. Vincent , and always leaves the quay at the minute. A lot of people are gathering at the cuay when the ferry arrive. Goods and people, cars and animals are taken on and of. The feriies have a long history before coming to Bequia. Under the newer paint you can see names as “Austråt”, “Fedje” and “Rennesøy”. All Norwegian names. These ferries used to sail in the fjords at the west coast of Norway . It must have been a bit of a tour sailing the ferries across the Atlantic Ocean …
In Admiralty Bay you can get in contact with everyone at VHF channel 68. The shops and restaurants, the taxiboats, the water and dieselboat all listen to this channel. But be careful booking your table at the restaurant with your boatname, telling everyone that nobody is at home…

The Mellesdal family took the ferry from Bequia to St. Vincent , and a local plane from there to St. Lucia after New Years. Camilla and Bjørnar also left us some days later with the same ferry. It was a pleasant trip, and Bjørnar made it to the “Christmas Table” he was planning to reach when getting back to Norway .
The Mate and The Captain were suddenly left almost alone onboard It was just us and a bunch of cockroaches left on the boat… It was a long time since it had been just the two of us onboard and it was a good feeling. But of course we had enjoyed the company, too. It was sad to wave “Good Bye” when they left.

We now enjoyed some more quiet days in Admiralty Bay , Bequia. Then we headed north for St. Lucia again. The plan was to do some work on board, while in Rodney Bay Marina. After a month only at anchor, it was like luxury to have enough 220 volt electricity and running water onboard. We also met the Danish boat “Njord” again in Rodney Bay . Last time we saw them were at Porto Santo, at the other side of the Atlantic . They had been sailing from the Canaries to Cape Verde , and from there to Barbados . It is always good to see friends we have met earlier on the tour.

It was now one week until Haldor and his family would arrive at Vieux Fort , St. Lucia . We took the opportunity to sail north to Martinique . We arrived Le Marin at Martinique after a short headwind tour from St. Lucia . It was a good breeze that day, too. It has actually seldom been less wind than 10 m/s the time we have been around here in Caribbean . Sometimes we have been wishing for a day without wind…

Lately we had seen, and killed several cockroaches onboard. It was time to do something about it. In “ France ”, Mariann said, you can find cockroachbombs in the shops, as we mentioned the problem to her earlier. With “ France ” she ment Martinique . We bought some “bombs” in Le Marin. The “bombs” are spray-cans, that you can leave spraying. We closed the boat thoroughly, and left the ship for a day, with the bombs running. We used the day to see more of the island. With a rental car we drove around Martinique . The roads at the island is superb, thanks to money from EU. No beton roads like on the other Caribbean islands we have been. Here it was high standard with asphalt. The cars are also driving at the “right” side of the road, the cars have French plates and in the shops you use €uro.
When we got back onboard in the evening, we ventilated the ship thoroughly. Then a quick round under deck gave results. We found a least twenty cockroaches dead, and several are probably hidden dead onboard…We have not seen one single live cockroach since the bombs…

We filled Empire with lovely French food, and headed back towards St. Lucia . Haldor, Erna and Kristin should arrive some days later. The plan was to pick them up at Viux Fort, a little town by the airport. But the night before their arrival the wind was heavy outside Viux Fort. We therefore decided to sail to Soufriere , and let our guests find us there. The DuoGen died that night, but as we were aware of the problem, Haldor had new parts for the DuoGen in his luggage.
In the bay outside Viux Fort the rope to the “dead Man” on the anchor chain, broke. Heidi tried to get it back onboard, but almost lost her finger. But it ended well. The refrigerator made it better for the finger for a period…
Haldor, Erna and Kristin embarked in Soufriere , near the “Deux Pitons”, the St. Lucian national symbol. The sailing from St. Lucia to Bequia was a rough start for our guests. Gale force wind, heavy seas and rain most of the way. We had some sun in between, so they kept smiling, and they also got a touch of red/pink in the skin…

After some days acclimatising at Bequia, Haldor and co were ready for new challenges. We headed towards Mystique, Basil's Bar and the annually Blues Festival. We can not recommend the island for its good anchorage. There is a lot of small waves at the anchorage, which makes even the catamarans moving. The musicians participating at the Blues Festival were very good. Even Haldor found it best to keep his fingers of the piano that night.
From Mystique we sailed south to Tobago Cays and to Union Island , and finally to Grenada , were Haldor and co were supposed to debark. But before that we visited Union Island . Union is a “rasta” island, where everything goes slow. We also joined a “nach spiel” at the “Rasta Bar”, where the smell of “burned gras” was rather heavy… At “Anchorage Yachtclub Haldor found a white piano. Haldor entertained for lunch and dinner, and the other customers wanted Haldor to continue, when this evenings entertainer showed up… But then we headed for “Rasta Bar”.

The tour from Union to Grenada was smooth sailing. The bimini made a cooling shadow over the cockpit. For once the wind was only at about 7-8 m/s. This is probably what most people think, is sailing in the Caribbean .
At Greanda we moored to the jetty outside the Grenada Yacht Club. First for 3 days, then for three more days, which suddenly became more than a week. Grenada Yacht Club is situated in the Lagoon outside St. Georges, the Capital of Grenada. The Holm family left us, and flew home to long underwear and a meter of snow… We also met Vanvara again, with Anne and Jørgen onboard. Together we participated in the celebration of The Independence Day, which was celebrated for the 32. time. Independence Day was the 7. of February, and together with Anne and Jørgen we had a long “17. May” breakfast, onboard, before we went downtown to St. Georges' playground. At the playground there were speeches, brass bands and other music, just as if we should have been in Norway for the celebration of 17. May.
Another day we drove around several parts of Grenada , together with Ken and his van. Ken was a nice fellow, and could tell us a lot about Grenada 's history.

September 2004 Grenada was hit by the hurricane Ivan. 7. of September started as a usual day. The weather was nice, and the hit of a hurricane seemed distant. By noon the sky suddenly turned black, and within three hours the wind raised to 55 m/s from south. The hurricane hit the turist areas St. Georges and St. David, and made most damage south at Greanada. Roofs were flying in the air, trees were pulled over and all electricity and water were gone. 39 people were killed by the hurricane itself and several more died later as a result of the hurricane.
If you go around at the island today, there are still many marks after Ivan. Despite the rebuilding of the island, some places just look abandoned. Some places the curtains still is flying thro the broken windows. Most of the boats at anchor in Lagoon Bay , were thrown upon land. It looked like a pile of boats. The pictures from that day are terrible. Still you can find hulls far away from the sea.

Grenada is a peaceful island among the Caribbean island. It is also called “The Isle Of Spice”. Before the hit of hurricane Ivan , Grenada was on of the biggest exporters of Muscat . On our tour with Ken, we saw what they do to the Muscat to make it ready for export. We also took a closer look at the cacao plant. And we stopped at a local bar or shop, to taste the local spicy Rum.

We have been at the Windward Islands for two and a half month. We have learned a lot about weather and wind during this period. It is not true that the sun always shines in this part of the world, and it is quiet windy here some times. Most of the days are anyway what we may dreamt of before we left Norway . Except for cockroaches and French hiring catamarans…