Three Mermaids / Трите русалки

Maya, Julia and Celeste. In the water again. Table Rock, Bequia

 

Мая, Джулия и Селест. Отново във водата. Table Rock, Bequia

 

Maya Julia and Celeste, snorkeling

Maya Julia and Celeste, snorkeling

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Champagne Reef

Ivo at Champagne Reef, Dominica

Ivo at Champagne Reef, Dominica

Not far from the biggest city and capital of Dominica, Roseau, there is a place called Champagne Reef. It became our very favorite snorkeling spot.

Mira at Champagne Reef, Dominica

Mira at Champagne Reef, Dominica

We sail from the Portsmouth anchorage to Roseau and drop anchor in Roseau harbor which is so deep we are just a few feet from the houses, almost on shore. We are the only boat at anchor in the bay; everyone else is on mooring balls, paying per night. Ivo and Maya dive to makes sure the anchor is holding well and we are ready to explore.
The city is nice with a big farmers’ market and lots of old buildings, shops and restaurants. We have lunch at a local fast-food joint together with our Aussi friends Mel and Caryn: fried and spicy chicken and beef patties, and we are ready for some champagne for desert.

En route to Champagne Reef

En route to Champagne Reef

With Mel and Caryn s/v Passages and Tina and Mark s/v Rainbow, we pile up on a local bus and for a couple of EC$ we get to a small dive shop near the beach. The spot everyone is talking about.

Maya and Mira, Champagne Reef, Dominica

Maya and Mira, Champagne Reef, Dominica

Champagne Reef is a famous diving and snorkeling destination unique in the entire Caribbean region.

Maya at Champagne Reef, Dominica

Maya at Champagne Reef, Dominica

A submarine volcanic activity near the shores creates beautiful hissing hot bubbles between the corals and the rocks of the reefs in deliciously clear water.

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Small fishes of all colors, seahorses, spotted sea snakes, and schools of squid swim around the bubbles. It must be DisneyWorld for them! It’s beautiful.

Champagne Reef, Dminic

Champagne Reef, Dminica

The water here is shallow and warmer due to the geothermal gases escaping the earth’s crust. We enjoy it as much as the fishes, maybe even more.

Champagne Reef, Dominica

Champagne Reef, Dominica

The bubbles tickle us as we snorkel above them and bump into our goggles. We can also hear them underwater. The reef sounds and looks exactly like champagne and we are as happy and excited as drunk people underwater.

Mel and Caryn at Champagne Reef, Dominica

Mel and Caryn at Champagne Reef, Dominica

At some point Ivo gives instructions to the rest of us to get out and wait for him on the beach. Why, we want to know, is he kicking us out of the champagne? Well, because he is taking off his swim shorts to use them as gloves and protect his hands from a giant spiky lobster while chasing it around the reef butt naked. I am tempted to go back in the water and surprise Ivo with the GoPro…

Ivo ???!!!

Ivo ???!!!

The lobster escapes.

 

Champagne Reef, Dominica

Champagne Reef, Dominica

Maya at Champagne Reef, Dominica

Maya at Champagne Reef, Dominica

 

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British Virgin Islands. Empire of The Cats

 

British Virgin Islands

The BVI, a British Overseas Territory east of Puerto Rico, consists of over 50 volcanic islands and cays, some big and some small, of which 15 are inhabited. The inhabitants, full British and European Union citizens, are descendants of African slaves brought to work on the sugarcane plantations in the 18th century. Today, the main economy in the BVI is tourism accounting for about half of the national income. The other half is generated by offshore banking.

Sunset Cats in the BVI

Sunset Cats in the BVI

One of the world’s greatest sailing destinations, the anchorages around the islands are crowded with sailboats even off-season, mostly chartered catamarans. We have never seen so many cats in one place. It’s truly phenomenal. Our boat, Fata Morgana, a 38 foot Leopard, was once chartered in these waters too. But now newer and bigger cats rented for a few days’ vacation zoom motoring back and forth between the islands, rarely sailing at all. People chartering boats in the BVI don’t always know how to sail, navigate or even be civilized. (They think a boat is like a car and love to go ‘full-power’.)One boat hit us in one of the anchorages but didn’t cause any damage, and another, ironically named Serenity, with 6 or 7 older folks aboard, drunk and ignorant, kept us and the rest of the anchored boats awake all night with their loud stupid conversations and music.

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We clear in in Jost Van Dike anchoring for a couple of days in the bay near the beach. There are many mooring balls $30 per night, but we have the option to anchor for free instead, and that is what we do. Apart from the $37 entry fee and $2 for 2 slush drinks we don’t spend a dollar more during our two-week stay in the BVI, eating and drinking from our provisions, hiking and hitchhiking to places on land, and sneaking in national parks afterhours.

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In the next days we island-hop to Tortola, Lee Bay in Great Camano, Virgin Gorda and we finally stage our next big passage to St Martin at Saba Rock.

Even though too crowded for our taste, we loved all the places we visited in the BVI, each one for a different reason, but if we have to recommend one it will be The Baths on Virgin Gorda, of course.

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And I have to mention Lee Bay again, a small secluded unpopular bay on the west side of Great Camano island with incredible snorkeling which a young cruising couple we met first in the Dominican Republic and again near Tortola, Stephen and Natasha Smith (skydiving instructors and gravity coaches) told us about. Thank you guys! We loved Lee Bay and we loved meeting you again in the BVI. And (if you are reading this) thank you for the chicken and beef broth-base and seasoning! Hope our paths will cross again someday!

Lee Bay

Lee Bay

Jost Van Dike

The smallest of the four main islands of the BVI, 8 square kilometers or 3 square miles, Jost Van Dike offers a deep protected harbor for boaters on the south side, Great Harbour, with customs and immigration on shore, a nice little beach and various beach bars and restaurants; and a challenging steep hike to its highest point, Majohnny Hill at 321 meters.

View of the anchorage from Majohnny Hill, Jost Van Dike

View of the anchorage from Majohnny Hill, Jost Van Dike

Mira and Maya on Majohnny Hill, Jost Van Dike

Mira and Maya on Majohnny Hill, Jost Van Dike

 

Beach and anchorage, Jost Van Dike

Beach and anchorage, Jost Van Dike

Beach Bar, Jost Van Dike

Beach Bar, Jost Van Dike

 

Beach restaurant and grill, Jost Van Dike

Beach restaurant and grill, Jost Van Dike

Tortola

The largest and most populated of the BVI, Tortola is a volcanic mountainous island with an area of 55 square kilometers or 21 square miles. We anchor on the north side where the best beaches are and spend a day hiking up and down a winding mountain road all the way from Cane Garden Bay to Smuggler’s Cove, the beach where The Old Man and the Sea with Anthony Queen was filmed. On the way we also visit an old rum brewery still working, and the North Shore Shell Museum in Carrot Bay. We hitchhike on the way back.

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Evo and Maya watching the anchorage from the top of the hill.

Evo and Maya watching the anchorage from the top of the hill.

 

The old rum brewery

The old rum brewery

Smugglers Cove

Smugglers Cove

 

Beach at Smugglers Cove, Tortola

Beach at Smugglers Cove, Tortola

The North Shore Shell Museum

The shell museum is a funky old house full of local shells and wisdoms both carefully collected and preserved by the artist for over 25 years. A magical labyrinth, very much like the soul of a black Caribbean  man. Among the thousands, maybe millions of seashells stuck on the floor, hanging from the ceiling, there are signs painted on wood, for sale, quotes given to the artist by friends and family. A heartbreaking collection of authentic local voices. “I ask my friends what do you remember your father or mother said, and they tell me. I just write it down on the board.”

North Shore Shell Museum, Tortola

North Shore Shell Museum, Tortola

A MAN IS LIKE A BIRD. LOOK INSIDE

 

MR JOE WIFE TELL HIM. YOU IS A SICK MAN.BUT O BOY. WHEN JOE SEE A YOUNG GIRL. HE JUMP FOR JOY

 

MR DICK SAID. JUST FOR PEACE SAKE. SOMETIME YOU WALK OUT THE HOUSE LEAVE WIFE AND ALL. O GOD HELP ME

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TWO LADY LIVE IN ONE HOUSE. JANE GO TO CHURCH ON SATURDAY. MARY GO TO CHURCH ON SUNDAY. AND FIGHTING OVER A MAN

 

TELL ALL THE BOYS AND GIRLS COME

 

THE OLD MAN SAY. I AM SO DOWN. HE SAY O GOD HELP THE FALLING BROTHER. HELP COME HIS WAY. MARTER SAY PUT SOME IN MY CUP

The Artist

The Artist

OLD LADY TELL HER SON. DAN WHEN YOU DO GOOD GOD BLESS YOU

 

THE LITTLE BOY SAY. SEA WATER LOOK GOOD BUT I CANT SWIM

 

THE OLD MAN TELL HIS WIFE. I HAD TWO FOOT.SHIT WILL FLY ALL DAY LONG

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COME HOME MARY. YOU DON’T KNOW HOW SWEET LIFE IS ON TILL YOU WALK IN MY HAND. I LOOK UP. I LOOK DOWN

 

SOME MEN SAY LOVE IS LIKE A TREE

 

THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN IN HIS HAND. HE JUMP WITH JOY. TO SEE HOW MUCH HE HAVE IN HIS HAND. BUT O GOD HE NEVER SHARE. I HAVE SO MUCH BUT MY SOUL IS LOST

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COMING SOON. CAPTAIN COOK. SEAFOOD MARKET

 

THE OLD MAN. WITH THE BUTTY FULL LADY. BUT HE CANOT SLEEP WITH HIS TWO EYES CLOSED. HELL

 

MISS JANE TELL HER HUSBAND. I GOT A ROOM IN HEAVEN FOR YOU. BUT YOU GOT TO PAY ME FIRST NO WAYET ME ON THE OTHER SIDE. WHEN HE COME-A-MAN

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MARRY SAY. JANE YOU IN THE SAME BOAT TOO. HELP ME

 

COLUMBUS LIE. HE TRY TO FOOL THE PEOPLE. THAT HE DID NOT SEE ANYONE. BUT HE HAD TO RUN LIKE HELL

 

HARRY GO TO THE TOP FLOOR. AND GET A DRINK

 

JOHN TELL HIS WIFE JANE LIFE IS SO HARD SHE TELL HIM GET UP YOUR OLD ASS AND LOOK WORK

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Lee Bay, Great Camano

Hidden between rocky shores is a small bay not everyone knows about. There are no mooring balls here and anchoring is tricky as the bay is deep and rocky getting shallow and sandy only too close to the beach. And not many venture this way. It is fun watching the charter boats arriving and trying to anchor unsuccessfully again and again sometimes for hours. But the best part of the bay are its volcanic rock formations covered with corals below water which are like a fish nursery with dense schools of tiny fishes swimming around. We spend two days here snorkeling for hours and kayaking along the rocks and many grottos.  

Rock in Lee Bay

Rock in Lee Bay

Grotto near Lee Bay

Grotto near Lee Bay

 

Snorkeling inside a fish cloud

Snorkeling inside a fish cloud

Viktor hovering above baby fishes

Viktor hovering above baby fishes

 

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The Baths, Virgin Gorda

On the west tip of Virgin Gorda there is a spectacular geological wonder. Huge granite boulders of beautiful shapes and impressive proportions once imbedded in volcanic lava stand near the shore and in the water forming grottos and saltwater ponds. It is a different world above and below water, a world of coral cities and fish citizens, of ancient labyrinths and giants. We have been cruising since almost one year now visiting many places, spending months in Florida, Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas, but we have never seen anything like The Baths: the best snorkeling site hands down.

Maya, Viktor, Evo and Mira. The Nomadik Family

Maya, Viktor, Evo and Mira. The Nomadik Family

The Baths is a park with mooring balls getting filled with boats, 40 to 50, by noon each day, and no overnight mooring permitted. But just a short distance to the east, there is a small bay, Spring Bay where we drop anchor in front of a fabulous beach and spend 3 days kayaking and snorkeling to The Baths every afternoon, when the many boats and tourists have already left.

The Baths, Virgin Gorda

The Baths, Virgin Gorda

 Spring Bay Beach

Spring Bay Beach

 

Fata Morgana anchored in Spring Bay

Fata Morgana anchored in Spring Bay

A short hike in the park, The Baths

A short hike in the park, The Baths

 

The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Mira, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Maya and Viktor, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Maya and Viktor, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

 

Maya, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Maya, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

The Baths, Virgin Gorda

The Baths, Virgin Gorda

 

Viktor, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Viktor, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Viktor, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Viktor, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

 

Viktor, Evo and Maya, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Viktor, Evo and Maya, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

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Mira, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Mira, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Evo, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Evo, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

 

The Baths, Virgin Gorda

The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Maya

Maya

 

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Evo

Evo

 

Mira

Mira

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Viktor

Viktor

 

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Mira

Mira

 

Maya

Maya

Saba Rock

On the east side of Virgin Gorda there is a vast bay among mangroves near Saba Rock where most cruisers heading across the Anegada Passage to St Martin stage their departure. On the east shore there is a marina, luxurious resorts and restaurants, and a few small sand beaches. The village is on the other side. We wait here one day before we start the 90 mile passage to St Martin taking advantage of the incredibly strong Wi-Fi coming from the bar on Saba Rock which everyone in the bay can catch from the boat, to check the weather and update the blog.

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Thunderball Grotto Images

Ivo

Ivo

Staniel Cay is a small island, about 1 square mile, in the center of the Exumas island chain with a settlement of about 80 permanent residents. It offers the basic needs locals, cruisers and tourists might need. There is a school, a church, library, post office, three small retail stores and two bars and restaurants, as well as various small and secluded beaches. It became one of our favorite places in the Bahamas.

We stop here for a while because a friend, Joey, told us to go check it out and jump in the Thunderball cave nearby. Turns out, the Thunderball Grotto, an underwater cave, is a big deal, it is on the cover of our Cruising Guide and if you Google it you will find out that it is the most exciting snorkeling destinations in the Bahamas and that one of the James Bond movies was filmed here in 1983, Never Say Never Again.

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We jump in as we would never say never to an adventure like this one! It is truly amazing, an unforgettable experience (one can feel Sean Connery’s presence everywhere in the underwater cave).

Maya

Maya

The cave is beneath a small hollow island just next to Staniel Cay, a dark chamber carved by the sea under the rock.

Inside the grotto

Inside the grotto

We go at high tide, even though everyone recommends to go at low tide, and so we have to dive to access the grotto through one of three small passages between the boulders (at low tide the passages are exposed and you don’t have to dive).

Viktor

Viktor

We are welcomed by hundreds of fishes who are not at all afraid of us, as they know very well that here they are protected by law.The Fish doesn’t think because the Fish knows, everything.

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 Inside the grotto, the high ceiling above the pool of crystal clear water is pierced by holes and sunlight sends illuminated beams, like spotlights, beautiful underwater. I suppose, one can climb the hill from outside all the way to the top and jump in the pool of the cave from the big hole in the center. Joey, is that what you meant when you said „jump in the cave“? We were considering it, but we didn’t do it…

Mira

Mira

We all loved the experience, especially Maya who has become a snorkeling addict and Viktor who had fun filming with the small underwater camera. The pictures, not the best quality, are stills from the film.

Maya

Maya

 

Viktor

Viktor (smoking seaweed)

 

Ivo

Ivo

 

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Arizona Dream- This Is A Film (lyrics)

This is a film about a man and a fish
This is a film about dramatic relationship between man and fish
The man stands between life and death
The man thinks
The horse thinks
The sheep thinks
The cow thinks
The dog thinks
The fish doesn’t think
The fish is mute, expressionless
The fish doesn’t think because the fish knows everything
The fish knows everything

 

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