We left Port Elizabeth on Bequia with the grief, but ultimately very excited (about the voyage from Bequia you can read a story “Cruise to Dominicahere). Since that moment our life had to be concentrated on two groups of events.
The first group was a series of failures of electronic equipment, which was surprising us regularly every few days and started with a long agony of our camera. Then it went to the momentum. Pat’s computer screen backlight went off (funny thing that in such a situation you still can see a bit but only in good sunlight or a flashlight). Then Mik’s computer got a Trojan so we had to set the new system and first of course, backup all the data to an external hard drive. Continuing:

  • hand helm - broken charger,
  • Radio VHF  - damaged cable (so we  have no radio communication with other yachts nor land based support),
  • external drive case - broken (which means we don’t have access to our data).
  • What’s more, power supply for computer, rechargeable battery charger and MP3 player simply refused the cooperation...
Little by little we eventually managed to overcome most of these problems. 

The second group of events was about our intensive work on the yacht. Some of the jobs were caused by normal failures and the rest was earlier planned.
YouYou more and more was nicely surprising us with her possibilities but there were also a few unpleasant surprises - especially our "newly renovated" (in Trinidad) engine made us a lot of troubles (Have you seen the movie from it’s first start still on hard in TT? If not, it’s here) 

At each island we stopped - the local engine “guru” had his own explanation to the problem (no oil pressure) and his own solutions. To save precious time and money, dismantling and assembling the engine & its components - and then merging everything in one piece – I did by myself. I even practiced to do it on time ;) 
Every new leg of our journey started with the engine running properly, and ended with "no engine". 
As a result, after an exchange / repair / service / check (in arbitrary order) of almost all elements of the system and after many discussions (including telephone ones with Dad of Patricia) and many times dismantling and assembling of engine - our microscopic Yanmar finally “spoke with a human voice” and we agreed eventually: we decided not to make any more problems to each other ;)
Independently of that, we managed to get a second similar engine for spare parts ;) - a real treat, considering the age and uniqueness of our Yanmar. 

List of works on the boat also included:
  • sewing all the sails (their reinforcing & few repairs - a total of several hours working in 2 shifts),

  • touch-ups on the hull and deck (small scratches made while living on YouYou for a year, including already 6 months in water),
  • varnishing of almost all wooden elements on deck,superstructure and in the cocpit,
  • the refurbishment of our "new" dinghy (you are welcome to see that progress in our PHOTOSTORIES very soon),
  • making new washboards – “the doors” to the mess and workshop ;)
  • making the cradle on deck for our dinghy,
  • service of genua roller and rigging adjustment,
  • a modification of the steering system,
and in our spare time also:
  • sewing pillow covers (we have a hand driven sewing machine!),
  • making a wooden shelve for our VHF radio,
  • a modification of the automatic bilge pump system,
  • repair/restoration of our aft cabin sliding hatch,
  • V-berth cabin hatch repairs
and others (see the first group). :))
These were beautiful "vacations" in the Caribbean! :))) 
Indeed, beautiful! Very busy though :) 

Dominica 04-20.05.2009 
We were astonished by splendid richness of fruits & vegetables 

and the lush wild vegetation in Dominica

People live there mostly very humble, are very friendly and open. Most part of the island is covered by crops and plantations. Fishing plays an almost negligible role. The island is also known of hundreds of species of birds including two kinds of parrots, unparalleled anywhere else (that bird is also the symbol of Dominica – placed even on it’s national flag), and the multitude of boat trips up the rivers in a company of local guides. 

The richness of the scenery is breathtaking. Dominica is known for its magnificent mountains, 365 rivers, spectacular waterfalls and nature reserves 

(including one underwater!) and the second largest after New Zealand's "boiling lake"! 

YouYou dropped it’s anchor in Prince Rupert Bay on the northern part of the island, not far from the volcano ... 

Unfortunately, since we left Trinidad our camera has been dying slowly and more frequently was refusing to cooperate. It got broken completely(?) during the cruise to Dominika... We don’t have so many pictures from that period... Later, however, we luckily managed to restore it to life on several occasions, and we made a few shots from this wonderful island :) 

Our stay in Dominica 

was mainly busy with work on a yacht (see the list in the beginning of that story...) and "fighting" with the engine. Although it was a very hectic period, we found a bit of time to explore... In fact, we were still in hurry to St. Martin, to jump from there to Jamaica. 
I know it's not the proportions we should apply while travelling on the yacht ;) Well, we were rising our spirits thinking this is a new boat for us and a "virgin voyage” for her, to see and overcome all  the faults. After that, nothing special should no longer appear :) and then we will be able to fully devote ourselves to exploring the land :) 

The second day we moved the boat away from the busy northern anchorage (vis a vis Portsmouth), to the remote and quiet southern part of the bay. 

In a distance of maybe 50 meters from the beach we set our main CQR anchor in the finely sculpted, sandy bottom on three meters of crystal clear water. 50 meters away from us there was another yacht on the anchor, with the Brazilian flag. 

In front of us there was a beautiful beach with dark fine sand and tall palm trees and several buildings of nearby resort. In the distance, mountain tops of Dominica covered in clouds... 

It seemed that we had found the right place :) 

We quickly found out who our neighbours were: three young Brazilians. 

Photo: Courtasy of Projeto Amices

Like us, they had decided to abandon the hectic life in a crowded city, to experience the adventure of life close to nature. 

While still in Brazil, they bought their yacht in the Caribbean through the Internet! Shortly after that they arrived at St. Martin, to prepare her for the conquest of Windward Islands :) 

The crew of Alma Livre is an excellent adventurous mixture of characters: Captain Danilo, Cook Daniel and Musician Gabriel. They travel from island to island and explore as much as possible. We spent together few very nice moments with live music (variations for flute and guitar) and many discussions about freedom, happiness, choices we have in life, Brazilian music, diving, sailing and adventure... 

How we found out, the guys have plans to spend the season in the Caribbean and then sail to the Northern Europe! You can follow their adventures on www.projetoamices.com 

Photo: Courtasy of Projeto Amices

Our new Brazilian friends soon have sailed to Martinique, and we did a summary of stay in Dominica: the engine on the boat repaired (…) with the help of local mechanics, sails repaired, our hardware problems partially resolved, the water tank full, as well as hammocks & cupboards filled with provisioning. “It seems that we are ready to go! Finally, we are able to explore the island a little bit” :)

We didn’t want to explore  Dominica in the company of guides. Although expensive, this is the best way to get to know Dominica – it’s nature 

and the richness of local culture. 

We chose to walk to the nearby volcano. (See PHOTOSTORY from the trip soon!). 
It was our only expedition to see the island. Time was short – we spent on Dominica a total of more than two weeks and we had planned before to stay there only for two days... 



Wednesday, May 20

We raised the anchor at 2050. We were sorry (again?) to leave Dominica – so beautiful and nearly undiscovered by us… so well, we promised to ourselves that we would come back here one day for sure!

During the voyage to the North we had mostly beautiful beam reach sailing on nicely calm sea.

The weather forecast we previously downloaded from the Internet was correct. There was nearly cloudless sky at night, with millions of stars. Single white clouds were lit by the moon and hurriedly were continuing their journey toward the west. Our YouYou was swallowing the miles with lovely grace. This was also the first trip in which the waves were not coming into our cockpit :)))

On this cruise we did not see any marine life besides birds – petrels. Although in the very first morning a small private plane flew just above the water, really close to us... – a very interesting experience :)

Thursday, 21 May

At night we passed Monserrat - the island-volcano, where we stopped at another time, sailing the 56’ catamaran in August 2007 - with my older brother Cuba - in the opposite direction: from St. Martin to Bequia :) [Be welcome to watch the pics from that story - “Cruise to Baquia” - text still in Polish only...].

After passing the island we sailed off the wind - 30 degrees to the West. Although slower than beam reach, it gives other kinds of joy :)

Meanwhile, the sea has changed and for the first time we experienced when YouYou was nicely pushed forward from the back by waves quicker then us. She was swinging from side to side, as in a dance to the rhythm of shanties played by the wind on her steel shrouds.

It reminded us sailing in the trade winds across the Ocean...

In the morning we saw well-known island of St. Barthelemy. YouYou literally flew the last ten miles with her sails set up in “wing-wing”. The sun was shining beautifully and the wind was blowing with the force of 3-4 in Bofourt scale.

From St. Barths we had only 17 miles to the Simpson Bay in St. Martin. Anyway, we decided to check whether at anchor in Gustavia there was "Snow Goose", that large yacht on which we worked for several months in 2008.

How exciting it was! To arrive on our own yacht to the place where we have been working and collecting money for one and a half year to be able to buy our little boat and fix her, and where we spent many hours talking and dreaming about this moment :)))

The distance of 169 miles to St. Barths we sailed through in 35 hours. We had best so far average speed - 4.83 knots. It seems that each leg we make another new record :)

The explanation maybe that in the North of the Caribbean currents no longer play such importance as in the South - the strongest are in the area of Trinidad, Grenada and the Grenadines. Also restless "trade winds" which blow all year round to the westward, finally lost their power in comparison with the beginning of the year. The sea was calmer and finally we were lucky with more favourable winds :)

The anchorage in Gustavia Bay was nearly completely empty...

Well, probably the "Goose" flew out to the U.S. for hurricane season...

The harbour in town was deserted as well,

mega yachts have already completed the season and were waiting for the next one in Florida or crossed the Atlantic to the Mediterranean to let others “see them” now in Saint Tropez, Portofino and Cannes :)

We had dozens of memories with the well-known bay while sailing through the anchorage... We even recognized some of the boats rocking on buoys.

We decided to anchor just for a few hours, eat a late breakfast, jump into the wonderful turquoise water to swim

and search for the turtles living in the area (island is surrounded by several natural reserves). Then we had a little rest, and went off on a way to St. Martin!

We started late in the afternoon, as we know this area very well. The distance St. Barths-St. Martin we made a few dozen times before...

We left astern Ile Furche, yellow buoys of Reserve Naturelle de Saint Barthelemy, Table Rock and the rock formations called Gruppers – all in the flames of the sun setting down in the sea... Sailing along the shore of St. Martin, literally every few seconds we were remaining to ourselves more and more stories that we had had here while working in charters...

We anchored in Simpson Bay at 2210. The bay lies at the gates of the largest lagoon in the Caribbean - Simpson Lagoon - which has been divided between the Dutch and French parts of the island. “So we are in St. Martin!”


We knew that our stay on the island had to be the last stage of the "shake down cruise" - that is, learning our boat, fixing the faults which we encountered during the first five hundreds miles travelling, as well as general modernization and improvements on our YouYou.

Trinidad and St. Martin are two best places in the Caribbean to work on a yacht due to their excellent infrastructure, good supply of parts and fair prices. As in Trinidad (watch the pics in stories: “YouYou refurbishement Part. I” and “YouYou refurbishement Part.II"), this time we had also a list of tasks to be done in St. Martin.

The most important project was the refurbishment of our dinghy, which was full of holes…

This was really complex because it is our only means of communication with the land so the repair could not take place on board. Therefore we had to find a berth or marina, so I could be able to fix our little boat. Most of cheaper marinas were full with yachts having shelter from the hurricanes, the more expensive marinas were not for us…

Fortunately, our friends from St. Martin came with the solution. First we passed through the bridge inside the Simpson Lagoon and anchored in the Dutch side.

A few days later we moved YouYou in a tiny private dock. We got a seat at the pier of a very well known restaurant on the island - "Uncle Harry’s Floating Bar & Restaurant”.

Uncle Harry is a special figure in St. Martin. In addition to the restaurant he runs a machine shop in shipyard. The shipyard itself is owned by really nice, cheerful man – Carl – who was very helpful as well. Harry is smoking cigars non-stop, also while ride his Harley around and sometimes he also operates 105-tone crane

- mostly lifting boats from the water to the shore, but not boats only :)

Minor repairs in “Caribbean Way" :)

Thanks to the kindness of our friends from Trade Winds Cruise Club, we were able to use their facilities, got many advices and a lot of help from workers there specialising in yacht repairs (Ian, you are GREAT! Thank you so much!). The invaluable assistance we received from the guys from Bequia! Without Archie, Cletus and Knolly (the last one from Trinidad), our dinghy would probably be just repaired and this time it was completely renovated under the supervision of professionals :)

To commemorate their collaboration and to make "Bequia Boys” happy, we called our dinghy "Bequia Pride"!.

The time to cut off the steering (!!!) finally came.

After the mast and sails, the rudder and tiller are the next in the hierarchy of helpful sailing "gadgets";)

I must admit that although I knew that the repair was necessary (and this was the only way), I felt very strange cutting off the fitting for the tiller from the rudder post with a grinder...

All the necessary elements we made in Uncle Harry’s machine shop. It took a while before we finished the project. In the meantime we became friends with working there – Tico,

Danny from Aruba

and Marshall from Jamaica.

So YouYou was safe being tied to the key side

and at the end of each day we were deleting more and more items from “To Do” list :)

While staying on St. Martin we also met with old friends and have established new friendships.

Owen is a British sailor, a single handler, who helped us SO MUCH (Owen, thank you once more!) to solve several of our electronic problems (remember our “black list of failures”?). He fixed our stationary VHF as well! We got to know Owen when we had been working in charters, two years ago. Since then, a lot has changed in his life and Owen is not the only one sailor on his boat… ;) He is joined by best crew: Dona and Sparky :) – (all the best to you guys!!!)

Besides that, we met a artist painter from St. Kits – “Bee” – for years living and working in St. Martin.

Among other things, “Bee” told us how it was to seat hidden in the house while outside there was a hurricane raging (Lenny in 1999)...

I also had the opportunity to meet several times with Michael,

Photo: Courtasy of Mike
who until recently owned a famous for the whole St. Martin pub - "Shrimy's Bar". In addition to the best shrimps on the island and nice cold beers,

Photo: Courtasy of Mike

at Shrimpi’s you always were able to meet the mass of interesting people - sailors from around the world -

Photo: Courtasy of Mike

and exchange information or just use the wireless Internet.

Every week Mike used to organize a 'flea market' for the sailors

 Photo: Courtasy of Mike
and he also led the second hand boats equipment shop, gathered technical divers for special tasks or emergency assistance :) not to mention the laundry - how strategic point in the lives of most of the sailors :) Shortly saying everyone knows Mike and he was always very helpful to all sailors.
He lives on a yacht "BayWood" with his wife Sally. At the beginning of our work in Trade Winds Cruise Club, he was the first to ask for information about a cheap yacht for sale, we still remember that meeting, Mike :)

St. Martin is famous for the "good deals", as many yachts there were devastated by the hurricanes and are still waiting for their new owners. Many of them have been recovered from the bottom of the lagoon, wrongly recognized by some sailors as a "hurricane hole"... While watching different boats, no one was better then YouYou, in which we have felt in love in Trinidad. YouYou was also the reason we decided to discontinue our yacht hitch-hiking!

Two and a half years later we met Mike again! We found out that although the previous bar was closed due to the expansion of a nearby marina, soon there will be a new Shrimpy's Bar! As before, so this time we got many valuable tips and helpful "tricks" from an experienced sailor. Both of them – Mike & Sally (and their dog Shrimpy) are very well :) See you Mike, thanks for all your good words!

James is another interesting guy.

Free spirit, seeking his place in the world. James recently bought a beautiful old wooden boat, and now is renovating her on the French side of the island. You can follow his struggles on his YouTube channel HERE. (By the way you can also follow OUR CHANNEL on YouTube HERE ;)

James also repaired Patricia’s flip-flop with split pin :)

Very skilful & creative. He spent several years in Africa, also visiting the local tribes. Now it looks like he is preparing for a serious sailing...

Meanwhile the hurricanes season officially began. And although we enjoyed the daily progress of our works, at some point it became clear that this season it is already too late to sail to Jamaica... Well, there are always priorities in life... The only right decision to take was therefore to complete the remaining projects as soon as possible and then set the course to the South-West, to Panama and finally leave the hurricane area.

With hurricane season it is like with winter (i.e. in Poland) ;) It must start somewhere in a calendar but that does not mean the next day is always snowing :) Even at the beginning of July you can easily find a good weather window and safely, comfortably sail across the Caribbean Sea.

Ultimately, on the way we decided to visit the ABC Islands (or Netherlands Antilles) off the coast of Venezuela. We hoped to easier find work there than in Panama... We have been already on Bonaire (during the trip to Panama – you can see the pics from the story HERE).

On the other hand Aruba is later on our way to Panama. Thus we chose the third one - Curacao! As they say in Papimiento :) BON BINI!

Mikołaj Westrych