Mad Fish

Mad Fish
On delivery from Scotland

Monday, 18 February 2013

Johnny Depps Yacht

The boys keep seeing superyachts and wondered if any belonged to Johnny Depp after being told by a boat boy in St Vincent that he stayed on his yacht and was helicoptered into filming each day.

This one does not have a helicopter pad but definetly has the feel of the Pirates of the Caribbean about it.

It will set you back $130,000 per week, but for that you might beable to bragg to your girlfriends you have slept in Johnny Depps bed.



On the 9th of November my family and I were invited on Leopard.

As we took our shoes off and stepped up on the fastest monohull in the world I thought how cool this was! Then Charlie, one of Leopard crew brought me to the helm as he showed me how the many buttons worked I looked at the vast panel whilst he told me about the hydraulic keel. Then we looked at the winches and clutches. Then we made our way down in the cabins. The saloon had a semi circled sofa and a heap of sails on the other side. Then we saw the master of all computers when we had moved to the back of the boat. It was under a bed like box it was huge bigger than a high bed. When we had finished looking at this super computer we saw the extra fridge because the owner of skype had hired it so his wife could sail across. The navigation and control room had two computers where they would make all the decisions.  Then we went up to the bow of this magnificent yacht we found two identical cabins the doors were carbon but had a layer of wood round the outside so it looked nice. Then we saw the owner’s cabin it was a big double bed right up forward. Then we went to the foredeck were you could see the halyard which had a lock at the top of the mast. As this was happening I peered along at the 16 ft bow sprit and thought to myself this is super cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!        


Martinique - 24th to 31st January

Martinique – 24th January to 31st January 2013


We spent a week in Martinique visiting Marin, St Anne, the capital Fort de France and Saint Pierre. Martinique is French so we were back to another language and had to dig out our euros.


We had a pleasant sail from St Lucia to Martinique which is about 20 miles. It was Russell’s birthday and he had never been sailing on his birthday before. We met up with friends from Intrepid Bear and enjoyed a few beers whilst the kids jumped in off the boat and swung into the water off the spinnaker pole swing Russell had made for them. We went out for dinner and somebody thought it would be a good idea to have a champagne mojito to kick start the evening. It seems rum and champagne do not agree with me as I was instantly feeling the effects of the alcohol. The next day I was very hung over and the boys took full advantage by persuading us to go to McDonalds for lunch. I tried to shop at the large Leaderprice which had a dinghy dock, but my brain was too muddled. After an early night and no alcohol I was much better and we were able to stock up on water at much cheaper prices. They also had a good selection of frozen meat and we treated ourselves to a leg of lamb.


We spent the afternoon doing a little trip to a nearby bay so that the kids (including the little bears and the Dads) could play on the new inflatable toy called the outrage. This is an inflated disc that you tow behind the dinghy as fast as possible. The aim of the rider is to stay on and the person driving the dinghy to get you off. The photo’s below demonstrate (they were actually taken a few weeks later in Iles de Saintes near Guadeloupe. We managed to anchor back in the same spot just before it got dark having enjoyed a lovely sunset on the way back in.


The next day was Saturday and Intrepid Bear had been here for a few days and checked out an inflatable water park that was like total Wipeout. It was situated in the bay of St Anne’s. We have no pictures as we were all having too much fun and it was just not practical to try and capture the moment. There was the big bouncy cushion that kids sat on and Dads jumped on. Harry being 5 and weighing nothing did a spectacular dive into the water much to the gasps of onlookers, mainly me and his Mum Sara. This was maybe a bit too extreme for Harry and he decided his cushion bouncing days were over. A competion ensued to run across an inflatable tube from one side to the other. It obviously twists as you step on it. James (Intrepid Bear) was first across and that put the pressure on Russell, who amazingly did it on his next go. Then Ethan made it across next and managed another 4 on top of that. Oli also managed it 3 times. No girls managed although we did try. Harry so nearly made it. There was also an iceberg that was a big inflatable climbing wall. We all did this apart from Sara who still suffers from breaking her coccyx in Tenerife, she also saw me freeze at the top and scream all the way down. It didn’t look that high, but once up there it was a sheer drop rather than a nice slide down. I also got to experience some of the pain Anna goes through in “that book!” and had no intention of doing it again. If I ever have to jump from a height like that again I will be keeping my ankles firmly locked together!


We decided to BBQ ashore and as the BBQ’s were not keen on lighting we made a fire and used our big grill bought in Porto Santo and used again in Bequia. The kids loved collecting firewood and swam in the sea until the sun set. It was dark by the time we left but we had sensibly brought mosquito repelling candles to aid packing up. We hadn’t brought torches for the way back but we made it. To get the sand off we all jumped in the sea and then continued to have a few more drinks. Russell and I decided to have one more after the Bears had left and somehow it turned into 4am! Not unsurprisingly we had a hangover from hell a few hours later. We did manage to up anchor and travel up the coast to Fort de France the capital only to find that it was carnival day. This resulted in many, many hours of people walking round the streets with big drums, painted cars that revved the engines and back fired to make everyone jump. I had by now begun to feel more human but Russell was still feeling every beat of the drum. A chocolate crepe was enjoyed by all and then we opted for an early dinner and bed.


The next day we took it easy and explored Fort de France a little. The next morning we used Intrepid Bears hire car to drive to the Yamaha dealer to purchase a new killcord switch for the dinghy. This had been bashed in Bequia on the dinghy dock on Christmas Eve and died in Marigot on my Birthday. The only way to get the engine to start was disconnect it. We had tried in St Lucia to get a new one but no luck. We knew the dealer was near the airport but the Chris Dolye book was not much more helpful so we asked for directions at a petrol station. A very kind person said he was going near there and to follow. We did for quite some time and he got us there and then just waved and drove off. In any other Caribbean island it would have cost us a tip. We would never have found it without him as it was in a small back street. 50 euro later and we had a new kill switch. We stopped at a huge supermarket which turned out to be very expensive and then it was time to get the hire car back. It was certainly cheaper than a taxi.


We left to go further north to St Pierre. This bay lies at the base of Mount Pelee where nearly 30,000 people died when it erupted in 1902. I have copied below an article from Chris Doyles website which those interested in history may like to read. The place felt quite eerie knowing that so many people had died – only 2 survived one being a prisoner. Even 12 ships in the bay failed to escape and lie as wrecks in the bay. We looked around the remains of the theatre and the prison and the museum before bidding farewell to Martinique and heading to Dominica.


A task for the boy’s school was to imagine they were there when the eruption happened and to tell the story. Oli got a little carried away setting the scene and ran out of time to finish. Both were really good pieces of work and can be found below.





Marigot Bay St Lucia

St Pierre Martinique

Link to more info Mt Pelee's 1902 volcanic eruption, by Chris Doyle
The thief who lived
There I was running from an army of men holding shot guns. I loved this bit it really got the heart going. As I ran bullets zoomed past me. I was holding thousands of francs. I could see my ship now the crew had made ready the sails and left the dingy on a long line back to the boat as planned. I would be towed to safety. I hoped in the dinghy. Hauled myself to the boat then I climbed aboard to see all guns ready and a navy fighter getting closer I stumbled to the helm and gave the signal “fire!”
There was a rupture of cans and borders then he was told that there was hole and they were sinking I said “put 10 men at the balers bring them up in 5 minutes.”
Then there was a crash as the mast fell down and the yacht sunk and my crew were all dead. There was no way he couldn’t get out of this one. I would be in prison for the rest of my life… 
When I was dragged to my cell I sat and waited for my food which was barely enough to keep me alive. I thought I would starve. As the month past there were rumours of the volcano erupting then in 2 Weeks and 3 days it did. Hot ashes fell from the roof and all the other cells were destroyed as I heard the screams of the other prisoner’s end I thought my fate would be the same. It was torcher and there was so little food. Then my cell was broken by a banana and coco tree. It broke the roof but there was food and a fire I roasted the banana in the coco pod with the beans to sweeten. It was better than the prisons foods. The water from the tree made good a sweet drink when mixed with coco beans. In 3 Weeks the supplies were gone and I started to starve. But by the end of the month I was found by a lady called Beatrice Walt they married and lived happy with their baby girl and boy.   
By Oliver Hawkins
Mount Pelee Project
November 1902 Mount Pelee erupted. I was in prison at the time, A big ash cloud swooped all over the sky as boiling hot lava came thundering out the top! 30,000 people were in this place at the time, the Mayor and rich people did not want to evacuate. So there I was in my prison cell with boiling lava coming down the hill with people evacuating! in the meantime Mount Pelee was getting higher bit by bit, starting at 1343meters and now 1571meters. By then the lava had reached my cell it was getting really hot then it was in the middle of November and ashes were starting to get through the bricks and I was starting to get really badly burnt! All of the buildings were on fire then and already half the people were dead, the lava started to gush into the water and rock started to rise from the seabed! Then Mount Pelee was 1608meters high before crashing down to 1513meters that very same day. By then almost ¾ of the people were dead then I was getting more and more burnt. Mount Pelee crashed down again on the 24th it was 1380meaters then everyone except me and one other was dead then when it stopped at the end of November it was only 863meters high and three people came to see what was still intact then they found me sent me to get looked after.
By Ethan John Hawkins

DOMINICA – 1st February to 8th February 2013

DOMINICA – 1st February to 8th February 2013


Dominica is an amazing island. It is very lush and boasts 7 volcanoes. You have to wonder when one will erupt as there are many natural hot springs the second largest boiling lake in the world and many sulphur bubbling pools. This all suggests to me that things are pretty hot beneath the ground. The volcanic nature of the island means that the beaches are few and far between. The ones it does have are black sand or rocky. This has meant that the island is not so popular with tourists. The cruise ships dock regularly in the capital Rosseau and the tourists flood to see the beautiful waterfalls and the hot water springs.


We really enjoyed a few days in Rosseau tied stern to SeaCats dock at a cost of EC$25 per night (a little over £6). He also took us and Intrepid Bear on a day trip for US$ 100 per family which turned out to represent excellent value. He seemed to know everybody and stopped off at people’s houses and gardens to pick passion fruit, cocoa, bananas and grapefruit. We were able to try sugar cane which we chewed and sucked the sweet juice out of. Then he crushed the sugar cane in a press made in tree. The kids were allowed to climb a tree and pick the grapefruit and we returned with many to take home with us. We enjoyed a 45 minute hike to a magnificent waterfall which Russ, James and I swam in but was deemed to be a little cold and tricky for the kids to get down to. It was the tallest waterfall on the island and the sound and force when close to it was amazing.


We had lunch and enjoyed the walk back. The kids were way ahead of us, as they seemed to run making short work of the uneven and undulating terrain. SeaCat led them back and with all his experience of hiking he was surprised at the pace they wanted to go at. I don’t think we were walking slowly either!


It was back in the minibus and then we were taken for a swim in a cavern which led to a waterfall. It was freezing cold so the kids were not too thrilled but it was quite amazing swimming inside the cave. Thea and I stayed at the foot of a small waterfall that the others clambered up and found themselves in another cavern where the source of the waterfall came through a small hole in the ceiling. The others then had to jump back down the small waterfall. This was Sara’s turn to swear (as I had done at the top of the inflatable iceberg) as she jumped down. Outside there was a small warm pool that helped warm us up a little. Another new experience.


The next stop was at Trafalgar Falls and the hot pools. The Falls were difficult to get to and only Russell and James scrambled over huge rocks to experience them close up. The rest of us lazed in the series of warm pools. It was the bath we had all been missing. The water was a muddy brown colour and there were no candles and Sara and I both felt a nice glass of chilled white wine would have topped it off. Sitting in the pool surrounded by rainforest was truly a treat and one that many of the top spas try and recreate and charge an extortionate amount of money for. Many of Dominica’s tourist spots are now national parks and a single site tickets costs US$ 5 per person or US$ 12 for a week.


We then went and saw a bubbling sulphur pool which smelt of rotten eggs before returning to our boats. A very good day. Unfortunately that night the toga party at a nearby bar was rather loud until the early hours of the morning.


We decided it was time to go and set off for an anchorage called Salisbury. This turned out to be a real treat. There was one bar and dive centre run by a French lady. It was very basic and we ate there on the Sunday night and it is the only restaurant I have ever been to where there was no menu, you ate what you were given. We enjoyed tuna with a tomato sauce, rice and christophene which I had seen in many shops but never eaten. We were the only ones eating. It was nice but we did feel a little like we were intruding so decided to head back to the boats for some pudding and another glass of wine. We had 5 children on board that night to repay Sara and James for having our 2 for a sleepover on my birthday.


We decided to stay another day and go for a walk to the Rum factory and along the river where we would try and find a spot to swim. The rum factory would not give us a tour as the man was too busy. We did buy a bottle of the rum and could see the huge waterwheel turning to crush the sugar cane. The fields surrounding it were full of sugarcane at varying heights. We believe that it takes about a year to mature and the crushed cane is used as mulch for the new plants. We enjoyed a partly shaded walk and a swim in a freezing cold river. On the return we stopped at the top of the hill at the hotel overlooking the bay. It was mainly visited by German holiday makers so for the first time in a long time Russell and James were able to order a large beer. The kids played in the pool and we then walked back down the hill and enjoyed roast Lamb on Intrepid Bear.


The next day we set off for Portsmouth!


Seems very strange that we are visiting places with names so close to where we actually come from. Portsmouth is a large bay and we picked up a mooring boy at a cost of EC26 per night. You could have one for USD$50 for the week, although we found it to be quite breezy, good for electric but bad for swimming off the boat and it does get wearing after a while. We stayed for 2 nights. We visited the Cabrits national park where there was a high military presence. There is still 17 of the 35 cannons on show. Ethan spotted a snake which was exciting, we knew it was harmless and it played hide and seek with us in the rocks.


We also took a trip with Albert up the Indian River which was used for the filming of Calipso’s house in Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3. Nothing remains of the houses which were taken away after filming. We were told that Dominica was the first choice for all the filming but the government in power for number 1 were not keen and hence they went to St Vincent. They also filmed the Zulu scenes in Dominica using the only remaining Carib tribe. The tour cost EC$50 for adults and a tip for the kids. The river is not very long but full of interesting birds, crabs and iguanas. The iguanas were very shy or the 7am start was a bit too early for them. The trees were magnificent. It is a national park so you have to go with a guide and there is no use of outboard motors on the river so it is very peaceful, more so if you don’t take 5 children with you!


We found a good supermarket at the customs dinghy dock. The fisheries dock were quite unfriendly and the town was sparse and uninviting. We were approached by a beggar and badgered by fruit sellers. It was quite intimidating and we didn’t venture back.


The next day we stocked up with food, handily James had hired a car and we bumped into him in the supermarket so he offered a lift back to the dinghy so we could stock up more. There was a good selection of tinned meals so we bought a number in order to start our supplies for the 2 week crossing from Bermuda to the Azores in mid may. We have learnt that no 2 shops are the same and if you see something you like you have to seize the moment! I am also conscious that there are reports the BVI’s are expensive for food and that we will only have a couple of days in Bermuda and I would rather spend this exploring and recuperating from the 850 mile passage than running around like a headless chicken provisioning. It seems odd planning for the trip home when it is still 3 months away, but experience has shown it is good to do a bit at a time.


We waved goodbye to Dominica and sailed the 20 miles to Sugar Loaf Bay in Iles des Saintes. We were back in France….


Day out with Seacat tour of the island. Waterfall,swimming in a gorge and  hot pools and some stops along the way to drink sugar cane juice and climb trees for grapefruit.

Seacat juicing sugarcane

Oli drinking the sugarcane syrup.

climbing tree for grapefruit.

Trafalgar Falls. The tallest waterfall on the island.

This tree root looks like something out of Harry Potter

Swimming through the gorge. It was freezing.

More waterfalls...

The hot pools,

 SeaCats Dock
Underwater Photos from Snorkelling in Salisbury

Cabrit National Park - Portsmouth Harbour

Indian River - Portsmouth Harbour. This was used for the filming of Calipso's house in Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3