Category Archives: Dominica

USCG Cutter James Sept 26 San Juan

United States Coast Guard, Semper Paratus – “Always Ready!” (By Randy)

Unless you have been in a cave somewhere for the last few months, it would be almost impossible not to be aware of the catastrophic damage that Mother Nature has liberally peppered upon the idyllic Caribbean islands, St. Martin/St. Marteen, Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Hati and the Turks and Caicos Islands. As if that wasn’t enough, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas and Louisiana have all had their turn in the barrel. The devastation, and loss of life, in all of the affected areas is hard to comprehend. Obviously there are many people, from many different countries, in dire need of assistance.

We respect that the decision to help, and exactly where to make donations to facilitate aid, is a personal one. Make no mistake, the people in the path of this season’s massive hurricanes definitely need our help. Many in the cruising community have been collecting donations and attempting to travel, by boat, to some of the devastated areas. At present, the U.S. Coast Guard is discouraging private boaters departing the continental U.S. from transiting to ports affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, advising in its 9/27/17 News Release:     

     While volunteers and aid are needed and welcomed, it is recommended that these              efforts be coordinated through FEMA, who has requested volunteers to go through              www.nvoad.org.  Uncoordinated volunteer efforts can hinder the response and                    impede a challenging logistics situation on the ground in Puerto Rico and the U.S.                Virgin Islands

In the 9/27/17  News Release, Capt. Ladonn Allen, Chief of Prevention for the Coast Guard Seventh District asserted that many affected ports “are still littered with wreckage and debris, particularly outside the federally maintained channels. Individuals entering unfamiliar ports or attempting to bring supplies without coordinating through volunteer organizations that are working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and its partners are putting themselves in danger.”

Additional safety concerns have arisen in the Eastern Carribean, where there have been reports of piracy attacks, and vessels being swamped by uncoordinated relief efforts. The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Caribbean Emergency Disaster Management Agency (CDEMA) are spearheading the hurricane relief efforts in the Caribbean, and all relief efforts should be coordinated through them.

USCG Southeast working with local agencies

USCG Southeast working with local agencies

One of the common denominators that we all are repeatedly seeing throughout all of the news reports from these devastated areas is the ubiquitous presence of the United States Coast Guard. The smallest branch of the US military is perennially underfunded, and over tasked, but this year is breaking new ground in terms of extended deployments of USCG ships, planes and personnel in what is one of the largest humanitarian efforts in the Coast Guard’s storied 227 year history.  The Coast Guard is often taken for granted, but those of us who live our lives at sea have a special respect for the jobs the men and women of the USCG accomplish every single day. When most mariners were headed to port to seek safe haven from the approaching hurricanes, Coast Guard ships and aircraft were leaving home to preposition in the disaster zones in order to render aid to those most desperately in need. In the interest of full disclosure, long ago, I served in the United States Coast Guard.

USCG Venturous taking on fuel prior to getting under way for hurricane relief effort

USCGC Venturous taking on fuel prior to getting underway for hurricane relief effort

In fact, I was stationed aboard, what was then the new, USCGC Venturous, over 40 years ago (one of the first cutters to arrive in the Caribbean after the destruction of hurricane Maria). With that background, in addition to our other hurricane relief effort contributions, we have decided to make a  donation to the US Coast Guard Foundation. The Coast Guard Foundation is a non profit charity that provides, among other things, financial support to the families of the men and women of the Coast Guard that have been injured or killed in the line of duty. This is our small way to say thank you to the members of America’s smallest service for all that they do each and every day. Semper Paratus.

Click here for link to Coast Guard Sector Key West Incident Command Post (ICP) sharing some of their work and personal  experiences after Hurricane Irma.  (U.S. Coast Guard video by Petty Officer 2nd Class Tara Molle/Released)

It has been confirmed that many of the Coast Guard crews that were stationed at Coast Guard Sector Key West suffered damage to their homes and personal possessions while  deployed to render assistance to others during Hurricane Irma, they too are on the list of folks that now could use a hand up.

 

 

HURRICANE MARIA (SEPTEMBER 2017)

Hurricane season has arrived in full force. As cruisers, we spend an inordinate amount of time monitoring weather systems. The latest shows Hurricane Maria intensified into a catastrophic Category 5 storm Monday, with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph (260 kph), as it surged toward islands in the eastern Caribbean.

Projected track for Hurricane Maria, September 18, 2017

Projected track for Hurricane Maria, September 18, 2017

Hurricane warnings have been posted for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat.

A tropical storm warning was issued for Antigua and Barbuda, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Lucia (where Pilots’ Discretion is currently located), Martinique and Anguilla. Many of these islands are still recovering from direct hits from hurricane Irma. (See http://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topstories/cat-5-hurricane-maria-threatens-storm-battered-caribbean/ar-AAs6sKy?ocid=spartandhp.) We are continuing to keep all those affected in our thoughts and prayers. We will post additional updates after this storm passes.

MOVIE TRAILER by Ronan(10) and Ryan (11)

Ronan (10) and Ryan (11) made a “movie trailer” for our Caribbean cruising adventures. We added it to our “VIDEOS” page at: https://pilotsdiscretion.com/videos/. We are also sharing it here, below. I think we found our new videographers! They had a lot of fun making it. We hope you enjoy watching it! Click on the below image to play.

We have also created a dedicated YouTube channel  where we have compiled the videos from our blog, and uploaded additional videos from our journey.  To view the videos click on the link below (or copy and paste into browser):

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC94z5hCIrRiEvY8MTJegTbA.

Pet Import Requirements in the Caribbean

Patton driving the dinghy

Patton driving the dinghy

We have been receiving a lot of inquiries through our site recently about the customs and immigration issues associated with bringing our Cocker Spaniel “Patton” along with us as we have cruised throughout the Caribbean. As such, we have updated Patton’s page to include a compilation of helpful contact details and information for various island nations that we have visited in the Caribbean over the last year and a half (2014 – 2016). For those interested in cruising the Caribbean with their four legged friends check out Patton’s page under the “About Us – Patton – Customs and Immigration” on the header above or visit:  https://pilotsdiscretion.com/about/patton/customs-and-immigration-issues-specific-to-bringing-patton-along/ or send us a reply message below.

Approaching St. Lucia Piton anchorage

Dominica, Martinique & St Lucia

DOMINICA

Ryan supervising refueling at Riveiera Sens, Guadeloupe

Ryan supervising refueling at Riveiera Sens, Guadeloupe

After departing Guadeloupe, we proceeded south to the island nation of Dominica. With under two weeks to go before our insurance induced requirement to be in Grenada, we are not getting to spend as much time as we would like in each of these enchanted islands. We will spend more time exploring on our return trip north after hurricane season. With that said, we did get to spend a wonderful evening anchored in Prince Rupert Bay on the northwest coast of Dominica. There is a professional organization in the town of Portsmouth known as PAYS (Portsmouth Association for Yacht Security) that provides everything from taxi and laundry services to divers, guides and nighttime anchorage security for visiting yachts. The night that we arrived we were greeted by several PAYS boat boys who invited us to a beachfront barbeque for visiting boats. There were probably fifty yachts at anchor in the harbor. Dominica is a large volcanic island with rivers, mountains and rainforests and we really look forward to exploring it more completely in the future but for now, one night was all we had and at daybreak we were underway to our next country of Martinique.

MARTINIQUE

Fort de France, Martinique

Fort de France, Martinique

Our stop in Martinique took place in the captial city of Ft. de France. Ft de France is probably the most cosmopolitan city in the Caribbean, with elements of both ancient and modern architecture. A beautiful waterfront city that is heavily geared towards the maritime industry. Martinique is a colony of France and as such it has a highly developed infrastucture complete with government built dinghy docks, excellent roads and parks and almost anything a visiting yacht could need within easy reach.

The afternoon that we arrived there were about 10 boats anchored in front of the town dock at the base of the 17th Century French Fort. We enjoyed dinner aboard and marvelled at the good fortune to have found such a picturesque and tranquil anchorage.

 

Fort de France, Martinique

Fort de France, Martinique

The next day our tranquility was abruptly interrupted when approximately 90 sailing catamarans arrived in our anchorage. It turns out that they were part of a trans Caribbean rally and they were all in a serious partying mode. Most of the sailors were well qualified and did a good job of securing their boats in the anchorage. That said, given the sheer number of boats, we still got to spend most of the afternoon fending off boats that were dragging their anchor or had just gotten too close to us and would swing into our anchoring arc creating a hazard for both themselves and the Pilot’s Discretion.

ST. LUCIA

Approaching St. Lucia Piton anchorage

Approaching St. Lucia Piton anchorage

Happily, it was time for us to move on and our next stop will surely go down as one of my favorites. We headed south for St Lucia with the intention of spending the night in the sheltered bay at Marigot. The weather was perfect for our passage to St. Lucia and when we were abeam Marigot Bay we elected to continue on to the Southern tip of St Lucia so that we could anchor in the shadow of the Pitons. The Pitons are two dramatic volcanic peaks that are some of the most photographed geographical features in the Caribbean. The bay in front of them has a half dozen mooring balls (anchoring is both prohibited by statute and operationally impractical). We picked up a mooring ball about 50 yards offshore in front of the 5 star resort known as the Jalousie Plantation. Given our close proximity to shore we could not believe the depth of the deep blue water. Our three independent depth sounders confirmed we were in 984′ of water.

The image of the Pilots’ Discretion moored in front of the Pitons was really one of those pinch me moments when we were all amazed by the amazing experience that is our journey.