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At this writing, we are sailing to Montserrat; the only island in the Caribbean with an Irish heritage when settlers first arrived in 1630 and a second wave in 1649 which, like Ireland, is known as the “Emerald Isle”; an island that has eluded us on two previous occasions and nearly a third time this morning. Just at the point where we were making our decision to return to Antigua for the third time and head to Carlisle Bay on the south coast in order to set sail early tomorrow morning for Guadeloupe for the second time, the winds changed much to Elaine’s delight, as this is the island on top of her list of islands to see before we start the World ARC in just over 9 months. Of course, the conditions are not what were previously forecasted, especially the sea state, so all we can do now is enjoy the somewhat downwind sail in turquoise waters with blue skies above while the “Emerald Isle of the Caribbean” awaits - For that Elaine is grateful and we only hope that our anchorage in Little Bay is not too rolly.

But, at the risk of digressing, it's been a few months since we decided to set sail from North Sound, BVI and so much has happened since then. With the "ship in shape", the last leg of our eastward passage commenced on the afternoon of January 8th, 2015. We were looking forward to sailing south along the island chain and pastures new after a short stopover in St Martin to pick up our new anchor chain and the last of the safety equipment needed for the World ARC and where Elaine hoped to get the dinghy chaps finished, not to mention enjoying morning coffee and pain au chocolat!

 

Well, we arrived in St Martin as planned - back to where we started in April 2014 - but after a long, exhausting trip, with neither of us getting any sleep due to the unpredicted weather conditions in the Anegada Passage. It wasn't the best way for Roy to start his birthday, but we certainly didn't complain about the "welcome home" we received, when loads of brightly coloured butterflies flew all around Paw Paw and then landed on her just after we anchored. After a shower, some lunch and a nap we headed to the Sint Maarten Yacht Club for a few drinks to celebrate Roy's birthday. The evening took an unexpected turn when we bumped into Ondular (Isabella and Mick) whom we'd met briefly in the BVI while clearing out. Needless to say, a good time was had by all and the next morning we enjoyed a much needed long walk along the beach, followed by a hearty breakfast. Shortly thereafter, we experienced another first on Paw Paw – we were boarded by the Dutch Coast Guard who were very polite and efficient - No problems detected thank goodness!

 

After postponing Roy's birthday dinner outing until we felt human again, we ended up at the Beirut Restaurant the following evening, where we enjoyed one of the most delicious and unusual meals we've had in a long time - Birthday celebrations were definitely worth the wait.

 

However, the bad weather we had been experiencing since leaving Puerto Rico and the Spanish Virgin Islands in November 2014 continued unabated in St Martin and certainly had us wondering why this was called the " high season" in the Caribbean - The weather was terrible, to say the least - High winds, rough seas, rainy, extremely uncomfortable, rolly anchorages no matter which part of the Northern Caribbean we sailed to and it got worse before it got better.  Regardless, we still managed to have very productive days - We reconnected with some of the " Dutch Navy" and others we had first met in Curacao / Bonaire, enjoyed our cappuccino and pain au chocolat breakfasts as often as we could and Elaine cracked out her saxophone for the first time with a promise to play "Happy Birthday " on it to Roy next year as we set sail from Rodney Bay, St Lucia, on the first leg of the World ARC. It wasn't much fun though rolling around in strong winds and high seas in Simpson Bay and at one point we thought we'd high tail it to Ill Fourche for better protection. Eventually the weather broke and allowed us to safely move Paw Paw into the lagoon instead - calm at last! Unfortunately the slip we had reserved in order to get the last of the offshore outfitting done and one we had waited on for a whole week, while enduring the awful weather in the bay, was, alas, not made available to us. I guess the right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing and the dock we reserved wasn't available after all as work had been scheduled to fix something on it, which, of course, we only found out about on our final approach to the slip - You can imagine Elaine’s flowery language at that point. As a result, we ended up having to anchor in Simpson Bay Lagoon, where, with some creativity, we managed to get our new chain installed while at anchor!  We also got our new SSB Whip antenna installed. You have no idea how happy we were that evening, since we have chased these two pieces of equipment around the entire Caribbean and waited in Curacao for 3 months for them, but to no avail. Turned out to be a great day so we went out to dinner to celebrate our success and had the best night sleep in weeks.

From the Captain and First (and only) Mate of Paw Paw, we'd like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year. We've had an amazing year and have enjoyed sharing all our adventures with you via our website and Facebook.

After leaving Christmas Cove, St Thomas, we made our way to Paw Paw’s home i.e. where she is registered – St John, USVI. Our first anchorage was Caneel Bay and Resort - Built on the site of an 18th century sugar plantation and where we had intended to stay for a few nights, visit Cruz Bay via dinghy and take a local safari bus to tour the island. However, after enjoying a day out in Cruz Bay and stocking up on some provisioning, we changed that plan after enduring another rolly night. We decided, instead, to head for St Francis Bay and do the more healthy option of hiking the island vs. the safari bus ride. Once we were safely moored, with hiking boots adorned – an arduous task, given that our feet were covered in sand from beaching the dinghy - we set off, only to get lost within the first few hundred metres. We realised we had beached our dinghy in the wrong spot and actually couldn’t get to our intended hiking trail - Just a minor problem that didn’t deter us. We still managed to find our way to the Danish Road and the Annaberg ruins. It was only on our return leg that we realised we had taken the long way – Oh well, we needed the exercise. It was also a laugh seeing Roy trying to walk in shoes after being barefoot or in flip-flops for 9 months.

 

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