Saturday, December 29, 2012
Happy New year from Antigua and hopefully many more. We are in Antigua with Miclo and are going to stay put. The weather goes down on Tuesday with a 3plus meter North swell covering the whole area. This is as good a place as any to sit.
We saw Joan on Panchita's song in Compass well done. Good Job
So we anchored in St Pierre a couple of days ago. Mainly so we could have a wonderful lunch up at Depaz Rummery. We talked to the tourist lady who spoke no English. I guess they don't expect English speaking tourists. Anyway she said we should be able to get a cab up to Depaz for 2eros each. Went down to the cab stand and the guy wanted 10 eurs. You know me so we hiked all the way up there in the heat of the day dreaming of beer, rum, and a great lunch. We were smart enough to bring water. Took us only 45min to walk up hill to what was going to be this great lunch. When we got there we checked into the little gift shop and asked about lunch she said oh ya they are open. The girl behind her no today they are closed only this day!!!! We couldn't believe our luck so we walked around the facility and went back to taste a few rums and a Ti punch, no beer. We bought a bottle of their second from the best, best costing $60 US, a bottle of the next one down, a couple of bottles of a orange flavor rum, 6 Ti Punch glasses and two stirring sticks. Even the best Martinique rum is an acquired taste. I still prefer the sweetness of Zacapa, or Flora de Cana. Now looking for a lunch and a beer we hiked down the 4 kilometers back to the center of town for a good local lunch, using a whole new set of muscles
Hope all is well and have a wonderful 1st
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Friday, December 21, 2012
This cove is where we will spend Christmas this year. So far four other boats have joined us here. The church in town has a bell that chimes the hour, the pier is well built and the boardwalk is quite new. A small grocery store carries fresh fruit, veggies and a few other items, and there is a small movie theater. On the beach there are about 5 eateries in the sand, and a spot for snorkeling. Out where we are anchored you can just jump off the boat and you are in a snorkeler's paradise. Dave dove into the water and came up with a 7 inch by 9 inch oblong sand dollar, a first for us.
Our plans are to stay in Martinique till December 27th and then make a long run up to Antigua to join our friend on Miclo III for a New Year's celebration. During January we will be sailing around that area and in February moving up to the US and British Virgin Islands--great beaches and Dave will get to use his Senior Golden Pass for anchorages. He is very proud to be 62!
That's about it for now, except it appears the world is still here, the Mayan calendar worries are gone, and we hope all your Christmases are joyful and you find time to appreciate the love ones you have nearby. Steak has just arrived off the BBQ so more later...
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Thursday, December 13, 2012
Sink or Float
We are being lifted off the hard and putting the boat in the water in one hour. We hope to float and then motor to around the corner and get some much needed sleep. So officially we are starting on a Thursday for a long run up islands as a Friday start is bad luck.
Six months the boat has sat dry and she is itching to feel the pull of tides and the massaging waves around her belly as much as we are. So we will write more around Christmas when we get a good internet connections.
P.S. Viva la France! Last night was a birthday party for a local man who has a boat next to ours and we partied with 7 French couples, one Brit, one Alaskan couple, and a woman from Senagal and Hong Kong. Food was great, rum punch strong, and we emptied five 3 litre boxes of wine or more. Stories were swapped, songs were sang, instruments brought out of storage, and after true midnight we made our way to bed. Our social life is full out here with never a dull moment!
Friday, December 7, 2012
We clearly spent too long on land because Dave and I are having a very difficult time transitioning back into the cruising time mental state.
Our upholstery man called across the fence on Tuesday (Dec. 4th) that he was done and would be over before dark to give us the back cushions that were to be done by Nov. 18th--to his credit we did get on Friday (Nov. 30th) the bottom cushions! Success! So we cancelled dinner plan and waited, woke up on Wednesday and waited all day doing small boat jobs, waited on Thursday and called him but no one answered, called on Friday morning but no answer as well...then he called back at 2 PM and said there is a small problem with his pattern and the cutting of the fabric and perhaps we could enlighten him on the different height of the cushions--our answer was, " We will walk over and be there in 5 minutes with the old cushions to show you the height of both cushions." GEEZ! We are way too uptight about things being done when they are promised and way too gullible to believe that when they said it is done they mean DONE to be true cruisers. In island language "done" means just started on your project, "on my way means" I might be there in 2-4 days, and tomorrow morning means he will be working on it tomorrow morning if you are lucky--and if he is working on it you should run to the lottery ticket booth and buy a ticket because you are one lucky SOB!
We have been peeing in a plastic jug for 12 days now waiting on our cushions that we paid for in May to be done by November...and it is December 7th!!!!!
So land time is a watch, the calendar, one's ability to read and calculate time, and access to the internet.
Island time, it happens when it happens & t'ings get in the way that can't be helped, so go with the flow, man.
Cruisers time is, "It's Friday, man are you sure about that? We've been thinking it was Tuesday. The date? Why would we know that? We're waiting for a weather window to leave and t'ing look good for next Monday but if today is Friday we better get going to be ready to go by Monday, hey, you want to go have a beer?...
Well, we are looking forward to leaving life on the hard in Trinidad, and getting on the water, sailing to Antigua--a 3 day/night sail that will take 7 days with all the stops for food, cheese, wine, rest and other goodies. BUT, we have to wait for the prepaid top cushions being held by our Trinidad upholstery man!%#@.
P.S. They are also being made not with the blue fabric we chose, but the green fabric that he ordered thinking we were a different boat--we are yet to settle that issue, the price difference, and still get out of Trinidad before Christmas! Spiritual Serenity, a concept we are working towards and is definitely a work in progress for both of us.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
"Back in the saddle again"...the boat is in its cradle, waiting for us to saddle her up and put her on the water.
We had perfect timing for our return to Trinidad, there has been plenty of sunshine and dry weather for Dave to polish and sand the boat before applying the bottom paint. Essential groceries are lining our salon, and we are waiting on our new cushions being finished (this is typical--ordered in May and not started till your arrival). Then there is the water maker membrane that is coming next Wednesday...the good news is all projects should be done by Wednesday and then we are heading north to properly provision the boat. We are planning on stopping in Bequia (rum), St Lucia (beef, and jazz at the park/bar on Sunday), Martinique (salami, cheese, bread, wine, snorkeling), St. Bart's(more wine), St Martin (ribs,cheese, and boat parts for what we didn't fix but will no doubt discover while underway), and settle in at Antigua to visit with friends for the holidays. It will be a quick pace but then we will have 5 months to leisurely make it up stream to Georgia by June.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
The water calls and we both feel the tidal pull of life at sea. Life on land has been so full and exciting for us this summer. Our son's (Mike) wedding and receptions, our time with his wife, her family, and our friends was so special and touched our hearts in many different ways. Then there was Disneyland with TWO granddaughters and endless joyful moments of watching our kids, with their kiddo, seeing the magic kingdom through young eyes. PRICELESS!!!!
By noon today we will be on the black river of roadway that winds it way to the south and east. Vegas, here we come to visit friends on Sunday and Monday, and then on to College Station for trick or treating with Mike, Julia and Layla. It is our plan to be flying to Trinidad in mid November and splash in the water before December 1st. We have a date to be in Antigua for Christmas and other than that we are fluid till June when we plan to be in Georgia---this loose leaf plan and blank pages of time waiting to be filled at the last moment with whatever life brings our way is why we love cruising.
So the next time we write we will be in Trinidad, working on getting the boat ready for another season of high times, low seas, warm nights, and fun filled days of meeting new people and seeing new places...
"Yo ho, yo ho, it's the pirates life for me"
Monday, September 10, 2012
I will start substituting soon, Dave will start packing and ordering parts for the boat, and we will figure out when we plan to return to the boat in Trinidad--best guess mid-late November. Dave will go ahead of me as he needs to put on the rebuilt prop, rebuild the windless, and other boat projects. Our plans are to stay in the Caribbean through May and then head to the US for the first time in 6 years. Next summer we will sail up the East coast and visit ports that are deep enough for our 7 1/2 foot draft and 68 foot height.
Friday, April 27, 2012
From: Dave Peoples
Sent: Friday, April 27, 2012 7:48 AM
Subject: Antigua Revisited April 15-April 27th
Our active granddaughter, Kiwi, had spent the afternoon working up a sweat swimmin in the surf, swaying and foot tapping to the jazz at Johnno’s and then faded into her grandpa’s lap. She felt warm and took a nap. We decided to walk down to Roy’s for a late afternoon appetizer, and found only the bar was open. So ordering a beer we laid her down on a cushion and watched the local boats enjoying the breeze to practice for the Easter Monday Regatta.
When we picked Kiwi up she was hotter than the ribs fresh off the grill, it burnt just touching her skin. Grandpa walked up to the lady behind the bar and asked where was the closest hospital and what was our best option to get there because our little one had a high fever. With not much hesitation she went over to one of customers. Keith immediately embraced the situation and had us in his car in less than 3 minutes. With his cell phone in one hand and the steering wheel in the other, he called the doctor he felt would best meet our needs as he drove us all to the hospital in the Valley. Once at the hospital he smoothly helped us get checked in and continued to call his doctor of choice. Keith felt two plans were better than one as a wait in the hospital may be long. Twenty minutes later the doctor called Keith back, he was across island with his son at another event. With Keith’s words, and a short conversation with our daughter, he was in his car headed our way. Dr Nicholas Carbon pulled up, pulled out his pediatric size equipment and gave our granddaughter a thorough exam. She was running a temperature of 103.2 F and had a throat infection. He prescribed antibiotics and since all the pharmacies were closed gave us the medication. Keith drove us back to Roy‘s, called his relatives to tell them where they would find the dishes he had prepared for Easter dinner, and told them he would be there shortly. On the drive back we learned his own son had died as a toddler due to a brain tumor, and how being able to help us was important to him. Once back at Roy’s he even offered us a room in his house for the night so we would be nearby if help was needed. We thanked him and took his phone number and arranged to meet the next morning at Roy’s.
As the morning sunlight rose, Kiwi’s fever finally broke. We prepared “Care Packages” for Keith and the doctor and headed the dinghy to Sandy Ground. We walked the beach towards Roy’s Grill with hearts full of thanks for the kind people of Anguilla who stepped away from their holiday plans to offer aid and assistance to strangers. Keith greeted us with hugs, told us we now belonged to the island, and always had a place to stay as well as offering to take us fishing.
There on the beach were the Anguilla boats raising their sails to begin the Easter Monday Anguilla Regatta, and there was our granddaughter blowing kisses of luck to the sailors and saying, “Bye, bye boats.”
April 6-April 11 Easter and Jammin’ in Anguilla
We set anchor in Sandy Ground, Anguilla on Friday afternoon, met the friendly Custom ladies, and headed down the beach for cold beer. We walked to Sammy’s and found music, great t-shirts and shared a table with a couple from England. Wanting to get a sampler’s plate of the ambience we left after one beer and headed down to Elvis’s but we were too early for their Happy Hour . Having walked as far as the beach stretched, we turned around and walked the full length down the other way to Roy’s Grill. Kiwi rode on Dave’s shoulders. There was a great crowd of locals, a closed kitchen, but a few open bar seats.
Another beer or two later we packed up and headed slooooowly back to the boat. With a two year old a walk on the beach is a lesson in patience. Birds to chase, planes to wave bye bye to and watch disappear from sight, seashells to collect, chickens to chase and mimic, sand to squeeze into sand balls and throw at the advancing and retreating waves, a game of chase and hide toes from the same waves, watching other children playing in the surf and trying out what the 5 to 12 year olds are brave enough to do without thought or caution. We had forgotten what goes on in a 2 year old mind, and the three of us wished we could have planned ahead and packed a 6 pack for the walk back to the dinghy. Over an hour later we packed the stroller, bags, and granddaughter (who was now head to tow sand dune) into the dinghy. How well we all slept that night!
Saturday was a sleepy, lazy day with a walk, and many talks with the locals, as we wandered the beach front and the road front of Sandy Ground. Once again we ended up down at Roy’s and met a couple from Florida who had been coming here for over 20 years. Still trying the sampler’s plate of atmosphere we found ourselves at the Pumphouse for an early dinner and were treated to an intro of the music being featured that night. Backing up to the lagoon, we enjoyed the rustic décor, the pirate theme, and t-shirts with pirate mosquitoes downing their Rum blood punch, and sprayed the free bug spray all over our bodies.
Sunday started slower than Saturday with no one rolling out of bed early and the Easter Egg hunt was delayed until before noon. Music started at Johnno’s and the Jammin’ crew went in to listen to the jam session.
Of course Kiwi had to run in the waves, and do what the other kids were doing. She is fearless in the surf and sputters when she finds water has entered her mouth. With a swipe to get the damp hair off her face, she stands and runs back in over and over again. The music was great, and we all let the good vibes in and the sounds roll through our bodies till we were all swaying like palm fronds in the wind. Little did we realize all the calm of the afternoon could be blow out of us in less than two hours.
Thanks are in order to our daughter , Kelsey, who brought her daughter, Kiele(alias Kiwi), down to visit our boat for the past three weeks. Having an almost two year old on the boat has aided our “get in shape” plan. We also had a doctor- to -be on board for a week. Lacey was a joy, and such a easy guest, but best of all for Dave was he had a dive partner and was able to get two dives in while she was here. Dave has clearly been outnumbered with 4 females on board, but Captain status has kept a balance in many decisions.
After picking the girls up from the airport, we took them to Barnacles for Happy Hour and food. The next morning was the bakery with a dock for French pastries and a walk around town. With the girls we circled St Martin, took in the Grand Case Tuesday night carnival like street party celebration, went to St Bart’s for hamburgers and to walk on Shell Beach. Then we hopped over and visited the shops and bars of Philipburg. We ended Lacey’s vacation in Phillipsburg, Sint Maarten with farewell drinks and good bye hugs.
Kelsey and Kiwi stayed on and we went around the island again spending time in Tinntemarre and then Marigot on the French side of the island. While Kelsey worked we played with Kiwi who loved water. So we dumped water with a small cup from a tub back into the ocean. Then she learned to swish clothes in soap bubbles, squeeze water out, and helped grandma hang clothes to dry. She also enjoyed reading with grandpa, painting with water colors, and playing hide and seek. Her version is to cover her head with something and then call out, “Kiwi, Kiwi, Kiwi” each time a bit louder till she pops out and laughs when you say, “There she is”. One night when the stars were just up Kiele pointed to a bright orb and said, “Kiwi’s star”. Dave then asked her , “Where’s momma star?” Kiwi pointed to Pleiades, “Right there.” So Dave asked, “Where is Opa’s star?“ and she pointed to another group. When asked where Oma star was she replied, “Not yet”. We were amazed because she had never studied the night sky with any of us and we didn’t know she even knew what stars were. Every clear night after this she pointed to all the right places for each of our stars.
Then as Easter approached a decision had to be made. Should we spend Easter in St. Bart’s or Anguilla? In Anguilla there are beaches and there is a Sunday jamming session that Colin, from 12 Meters, highly recommends and is world famous. So far there are three votes for Anguilla and one for St. Bart’s…
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
During the days we have walked ALL the beaches, hiked the mountainous path between two towns, eaten conch and mahi mahi at a beachtown bistro, eaten hamburgers at Le Select (alias Cheeseburgers in Paradise), eaten at a waterfront resort restaurant while surfers caught some amazing curls, collected small shells on Shell Beach, taken 4 wheelers and driven all the roads on this small island-- with stops at bars for liquid re-hydration, snorkeled with a turtle and soaked in the sea, read 7 more books, and watched for 10 days a life size pair of Ken and Barbie doll tourists turn their bodies from pale white to a full 360 degree tan. While we saw and experienced this great island they spent their day always standing on the end of the beach for 6-8 hours getting a full body tan. It was incredible how long they stood facing the water and posing so sun touched every part of their bodies. We have never seen such dedication and waste of time all in the same action. Really people, get a life and buy a tanning bed if it is that important to be all around tan! You paid to come here and missed the daytime life here on St Bart's.
Now, on to the night time social life...We arrived with a buddy boat, Windfall (owned by a Swedish couple that we had met in Antigua), and then hosted a reunion on our boat with Mystic Moon who had arrived a few hours after us. What fun to share new friends with old sailing buddies! The following night we were Mystic Moon's guest for wahoo, lobster bisque...Cathy outdid herself once again! I think Don Julio was involved with wine, tequila,and rum as well. Our next celebration was on Windfall. Lena treated us to a great dinner and after dinner Per performed on an acoustic cello, his first after a four month break--he has been playing since the age of 10. With the help of an amplifier, his music filled the anchorage and gave the stars a proper compliment. The pieces were moving but the look on Per's face was the best gift. The next boat event was an afternoon/evening of exchanging info. Mystic Moon told Windfall and us about ports and things north of here, and then we all shared with MM things to do south of here. After the exchange we had popcorn and a movie on Mystic Moon, followed by cake and red wine. The movie was August Rush, what a great film that was to watch! Having come full circle we had a parting ways dinner on our boat--Jammin' Pizza night. Goodbye are never easy, but we are sure we will catch up with Mystic Moon in late April, and Per and Lena we may meet in Sweden or on the East coast before that.
We were anchored in a spot that holds 20 or so boats, so we were surprise when we found ourselves being hailed by another boating couple we know. John and Gilly, from Destiny and the BajaHaHa 2007, were here visiting on Petite Profligate. They dropped anchor, checked out their neighbors and when they saw who their neighbor was, they hollered up a big "Hello." We have not seen them since 2008 when we all were still in Mexico. So, just last night we spent the evening with them and their friend Susan, catching up and swapping stories that helped to make us who we are. This afternoon when we said goodbye to John, Gilly, and Susan I decided we cruisers really need to coin the proper parting term, and it is not "Goodbye." Because, chances are very good that we will run into each other again, if not in this sea perhaps another...So the proper parting term may be "Until our rudders again brush the same waters, here is a hug to hold close to your hearts." That would pretty much sum it all up don't you think?
Well, we will be off to St Martin, maybe tomorrow or maybe we will stay out here on this little island beside St Bart's for a few more days and see who the wind may blow in that we know...it's certainly is a cruiser's life for now.
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Monday, March 12, 2012
We walked away from the Nelson Boatyard and out into the business area of Falmouth. At the taxi stand we talked with some locals who suggested we walk up the back street to the Caribbean Taste Native Restaurant where we had a very tasty Valentine's Day lunch--no beer available but you can buy it down on the main street and bring it up with you...such accommodating people. Our next stop was the shops along the main drag. We walked into a photography shop and drooled over some of the best photos we have seen that truly invoke the emotional response we get when looking out to the sea. Over the next few days we experienced the Mad Mongoose for Happy Hour and internet, Bailey's store for anything we needed, watched the awards for the Hare and Tortoise Swim Events, ate at Life--great pita sandwiches, saw a Tott Club round of rum event, and visited with other boaters like Anna and Hakan, from the Swedish boat Unicorn, who had helped us see and experience so much of Martinique. Weather was going to keep us bound to the island for at lest a week which prompted us to pull anchor and move on to the next anchorage.
Heading to the west we cruised past Carlisle Bay, between two reefs, around Johnson Point, pass Morris Bay, passed Jolly Harbour, and set the anchor down in the back of Five Islands Harbour in 10-12 feet of water. Here we had the bay all to ourselves, with Panchita, and our own private beach to comb. There is a small island near the back and the trees are full of at least three different kinds of nesting birds. During the daytrip we noticed a gentle blend of cacti with palm trees-dry and lush existing together. What a calm piece of water, and a great night of sleep we had there after our final farewell dinner with Panchita.
The next day we were off and headed north and east. We passed by Deep Bay, St John's (which we intended to do by land later), Dickenson's Bay, ducked in to Parham Bay and decided we wanted more rustic scenery and space, and landed out at Great Bird Island. Here we found a small beach, paths to walk, rock islands to explorer, and photographic opportunities along with rock and roll music coming from a partying catamaran. There were two families teaching their kids what a sailing vacation can be. One dad took five kids on an adventure and said, "Water is short, you get one gulp, and only one gulp so save it for when you are hallucinating and about to past out. Now pile into the dinghy and paddle to Hell's Gate where we will search for treasures beyond your imagination." They returned two hours later and the dads got a break. The moms put on music and led the mighty troops into dancing on the deck, bouncing on the trampoline, kids wrapping arms and legs around the mast, over the boom, playing hide and seek in the mainsail cover, and partying like moneys in a zoo--hopping, hollering, and having the time of their lives while making strong memories that will last past this decade. We couldn't help smiling to ourselves and thinking how lucky those kids are to have parents who got what a family vacation should be about. Abandonment of routine and plenty of quality time laughing and playing with parents who haven' forgotten they were kids once upon a time.
We awoke the next morning and the cat had moved on and so did we. We cut around the corner and carefully weaved our way into Nonsuch Bay. We chose the southern entrance, which is narrow, but safer than taking the northern entrance. We found the bay to be somewhat crowded but again there was a great small beach and awesome scenery to enjoy. Kite surfers dominated the beach area and found great gusts to carry them into the surf and just watching them made us contemplate the possibility that 60+ might not be too old to try out this sport. The stars were bright that night and we enjoyed the calm and quiet anchorage to the fullest. In no hurry to move, we ate a lazy breakfast and looked out to where the wind surfers had set their courses the day before. Passing by us were a number of large sailing vessels with fully set sails and teams of crew working the sheets. The 2012 RORC 600 had started. What gorgeous rigs and vessels they have, and what great winds to start this race! Then we noticed a smaller vessel floundering on the reef. A boat had attempted to leave the bay using the northern entry and was in trouble. Three dinghies went to assist but were unable to pull the vessel free, a rescue boat appeared, and also failed to break it free of the coral. Finally a sport fishing vessel arrived and after much effort pulled it off and towed it to Jolly Harbour. Watching a vessel rocking and swaying on a reef is such a mood killer. We all know it can happen to any of us, we all try to deny that it could be us out there on another day, but in reality we all know it can happen to the best of sailors including ourselves. We decided to stay another day where we were and complete some work. In the afternoon we jumped into the water to sooth our souls and limbs after a hard day of working on boat projects.
The next day found us using the southern path to exit the anchorage, and off we went around Friars Head, Half Moon Bay, Willoughby Bay with its rocky entrance, Mamora Bay and its lovely resort, Indian Creek (took pictures of Eric Clapton's mansion), past English and Falmouth Harbours, and we set the anchor down outside Jolly Harbour. The weather report was still predicting high winds but we found this empty beach just inside the start of the channel and on the left where one could anchor. Everyone else had anchored on the right and we wanted some alone time. About 40 minutes later we had six other boats with us. You know that lemming effect--we were the first lemming. A short dinghy ride delivered us to Jolly Harbour, a great grocery store, a pharmacy to replenish our stock of sea sick pills called Sturgeron, and a Budget Marine for parts to complete other boat projects yet to be tackled. What a slice of waterfront paradise that port is for boaters who want to anchor their boat off their front porch. We had a roll and rock night (the kind where pill bottle roll off the counter and wine bottles rock over) and the next morning awoke to breakers breaking about 150 yards ahead of us, a flat calm sea it was not! Carefully we lifted the anchor, gunned the boat into reverse, and made our way back to Falmouth and calmer rolling waters.
Now back to where we started our circumnavigating in Falmouth Harbour, we started to say our "goodbyes" and set plans for our next passage. Our goodbyes are typically last meals and weather checks. A quick trip to Mad Mongoose for great hamburgers and internet, a trip to the ATM, and another internet stop down at Seabreeze on the Antigua Yacht Club end of town. While doing the weather check we started a conversation with a Canadian couple who was headed off the next day on the sailing vessel Tenacious. It is equipped for wheel chair passengers to take part in sailing tasks and learn to love the sea. There appears to be four crow's nests, with lifts, so that they can even take that duty to heart. The girlfriend was looking forward to swabbing the deck, and Russell was just plain psyched to be on the seas. He has traveled many wheel miles around the world but never been put to sea. Another sailor joined in by sharing his favorite weather sites and told us about a pod of whales he encountered off Dominica. Then he pulled up the video he took. It showed the whale about 5 feet from him and that's when he made the wise decision to leave the water to the massive beast. Sperm whales do not mind a bite of meat in their diet.
We were now prepared to sail to St Bart's and buddy boat with Lena and Per from Windfall (another Swedish couple who are heading to Florida). However, they needed to go to St John's and pick up mail. So we all hopped a local bus to St John's. We always try to take at least one local bus trip and get some road time seeing the island from land, speaking with the working class locals, and walking the back street to find the hole in the wall local food eateries (who prepare grandma's favorite recipes with grandma size portions). We asked in the vegetable market for a recommendation and we were told, "Walk up to the big tree, and behind that tree is BB's, you'll eat very good local food, and tell her Glenda sent you." So we walked and found the tree, and it was where two roads met. We didn't see BB's so we asked around and found it. Glenda was right, great goat curry served with salad, scalloped potatoes, rice and beans, and more food than we could eat for 15 EC= $5.00. Now that we were full of great food we went shopping for our fresh foods and then caught a bus. Buying some greens and fruit is always a thrill as we learn about new to us vegetables and fruits. Soursops are in season and a woman on the bus told me how to pick out the best one--make sure they are soft to the touch, very pointy and prickly, not rounded and flatten out. Riding the bus back to Falmouth, I sat with a young girl who was about to start her final school exams. She will need to work for about two years before she can go on to college. There she plans to study politics and become a politician. You find most people have goals and a work ethic who ride the buses, and know it takes hard work to get where they want to be in the future. I hope her plans come true, that she finds her way to the university, and works her way into the hearts of the voters to make things better for her island.
Antigua is a beautiful island with so many easy-to-anchor harbors, friendly people, convenient services and parts for boaters, affordable restaurants, warm water, a large number of snorkeling locales, and all this is doable in a week or less--but two weeks is better. Our only regret is that with the rolling seas and high winds the clarity of the water was less than 6-10 feet so we didn't get to experience the visual gifts of the underwater reefs and see the water life up close and personal.
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Monday, February 13, 2012
With daylight rising and clouds crossing the tip of Mt Pelee, we pulled up the anchor and left the exciting island of Martinique behind us. This has become one of our favorite spots. Clear warm water, sand beaches, good snorkeling, fun cruising friends, great food, unlimited amount of imported quality (yet cheap) French red wine, cheese, salami,rum, and baguettes are some of the reasons we were content to stay here. Other reasons were the shear beauty of nature, mountainous terrain mixed with lush tropical foliage, a green flash at sunset (not once but 6 times), the ambiance of the French culture, great bus system, and the warmth of the sun with cool night breezes kept us comfortable. It truly felt like we were on vacation the whole time.
We had stopped here last year but only to fix our radio. We arrived and left with no great insight into the gifts this island had to offer. This year when we arrived I realized it might be a great place to celebrate turning 61, and it was. We arrived on a stormy day and sat out the first two days of rain downpours before digging out our foulies. On day 3 with rain jackets and umbrellas under our arms, we went in search of red wine and cheese.
The selections were so numerous we were overwhelmed and unsure how to narrow down our choices. So we took a practical approach. Buy no bottle over 4 Euros, and have a wine tasting party on our boat. We invited 4 couples to bring a bottle and we sampled 7 different wines. What a great fun night that was for all of us! Celebration, Unicorn, Panchita, and Jammin swapped bottles, stories, recipes, and advice while testing the French waters of wines. The next day we went to the stores and bought numerous bottles of our favorites from the night before. Then we tested the cheeses. I found a camembert that was sweet, and Dave found one that had a hint of blue cheese notes it it. My favorite Boursin, a creamy garlic and herb cheese, was my first purchase with a baguette. Dave bought chocolate filled rolls and 6 bottles of red wine.
When the weather improved we went for hikes and shopped. Part of the fun was trying to recall my 40+ year old lessons in the French language--its amazing what the brain can retrieve out of those dusty archives. It also helped that we have 3 French handbooks and two dictionaries. When something looked good in the meat market we looked it up, one day we avoided buying 5 pounds of cow lung that was going for a great price! We hopped buses and went to a shopping center, a great way to see the road system and town out of walking distance...and to find another grocery store for more cheese, wine and pastries.
One day we were invited to walk around the Botanical Garden. The brochure for the garden showed flat walk ways and a Tom Sawyer style catwalk over the tree tops. So we hopped on a bus with our two friends, from Unicorn, and our water bottle filled. When we got to the garden entranced we walked pass it and followed a hiking path that took us up on a ridge and around the garden. Three hours later we completed the hiking loop, washed the mud off our feet, and ate our lunch. The pictures we took were beautiful(when we get internet we will post them). This hike was a great test of how in/out of shape our leg muscles are.
Amazingly we could still walk and shop the next day. The shoe shops here are amazingly plentiful, cheap, and so stylish. There were at least 2-3 shoe stores on every block. I found a pair of shoes and a dress, total cost 28 Euros.
We also found time for work. We finished off many sewing projects, repaired the water maker, and accomplished other boat projects in calm and sunny conditions. And of course we read 12 more books. We left 5 years ago with 300 books and it is our goal to finish all of them before next year.
This morning we are off for a sail by to Dominica, Guadeloupe, The Saintes, and Monserrat and sometime on Tuesday we will arrive at Antigua where English is spoken, and new bays await our discovery.
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Weather windows have kept us sitting in St. Lucia but we have not suffered from boredom. Since arriving we have fixed parts of the boat, read 7 books, worked on projects, organized a 16 boat dinghy raft up night, participated in happy hours, women luncheons, toured the island, and have entertained and been entertained on other boats.
One of our goals when visiting a new island is to find THE LOCAL HANGOUT! Here we accomplished that in the first week. Last week we found a great hole in the wall for lunch and local food. Right behind the coffee house named Rituals is a L shape lunch counter place. They serve your choice of 6-8 home cooked entrees, inspired by local cuisine, which come with 4 side dishes—for $5.00. Root vegetables and green bananas are quite versatile. Walking between tourists’ sites help us to work off the starches.
Saturday we hired a taxi for the island tour. Having seen the twin volcanic columns, known as the Pitons, from the ocean we wanted a back side view of these magnificent towers like giants. We left at 9, hit the local market in Castries, walked through all the vegetable/fruit stands and a few of the touristy t-shirt stalls. We drove by the central square and catholic church and then it was up the hill to the Government mansion and the college. What a clear view of the bay, the cruise ships, and the ocean. Down the hills we bobbed and weaved following the curvy roads and returned to sea level. Along the way we saw small towns clustered near the water and the French plantation influence in the waterfront housing designs in Soufries —homes there were designed to be taken down and carried to a new location as the occupants were often sold off to a new owner, the middle class homes were higher up the hillside, and some of the homes for the upper status group we saw along the vista viewpoints or tucked into the valleys. Yards are well maintained, cultural influences (French, Indian, British) are reflected in architectural details, and most of the homes have beautiful views. We followed the western road through a few more towns and settled on a local restaurant for lunch. Creole cooking is big on this island and fish is readily available. It still seems “sinful” to have a beer for lunch—but then I remember I am retired, and the guilt goes away with the first cold gulp.
After lunch we went to the Diamond Botanical Garden at the base of a waterfall. A local man “offered” to be our personal guide. He was very knowledgeable and gave us the deluxe tour with humor included for no extra charge. There were many gorgeous blooming plants and a few fruits were growing as well. Our favorites were a q-tip plant and a waxed rose. Having walked a bit we were ready to rest our feet. So off we went to La Soufriere Sulphur Springs for the mineral pool and mud bath, built by the French a few hundred years ago, located at the foot of an ash mound still steaming. The pool was 4 feet deep and oh so warm and soothing. The mud was black if you took it from the bottom or white if you bought it from the attendant—Dave went with the black mud.
From there we drove to a third waterfall and soaked our bodies once again.This time we had to walk a hand hewn path up and down and up again. It was tucked away from the public road and we were alone with the birds, and flowing water for about 15 minutes. Here the water was just air temp and not filled with minerals, just a touch of liquid healthiness being temporarily contained in concrete square blocks. Noticing the fading light from the sun, we pulled ourselves back into responsible thinking and returned to our cab driver. The ride home was quiet as we all collected our thoughts and experiences together in an attempt to command them to memory for retelling. When one gets so relaxed, the brain follows suit, and some days become more of a blur than a clear Kodak picture. This trip was one of those hazy, blurry days where the brain felt thoroughly massaged and relaxed. We returned home with no worries, and no energy.
Sunday night we went over to Pigeon Island and the fort. If you wait till 5 there is no park fee and the bar serves 2-4-1 drinks that knock your socks off—if we were wearing any. The seafood lasagna comes in a dish big enough for 1 ½ and they have octopus as an appetizer that we are going back for another night. We lucked out and it was a Jam session night. Local artist come together and play. The Caribbean jazz and blues combo was perfect accompaniment.
Tonight was the dinghy raft up which we started at 4, it rained at 4, so most everyone showed up at 4:30…but being the hosts we sat in the rain from 4 to 4:20 alone. Yet, down here it is no problem. We were dry 5 minutes after the rained stopped and having 15 other boats come out was a great show of cruiser support. It also helps that the weather has been so bad for over a week that most of us have spent way too many hours on our boat and needed the comradely of “new” others and the wealth of stories that get shared at such an event. P.S. Also a great way to off load finished books and exchange movies.
Day after tomorrow is another ladies luncheon. Last week I sat by a Brit named Amanda who had sailed from the Canaries or Azores for 1,500 miles with a broken off rudder. Five hundred miles out to sea and on her watch is when it broke. Being in radio contact with other boats she and her husband soon learned how to make a drogue from buoys, line, chain and a spare anchor. I also met a woman who makes jewelry, lives here for part of each year, and is a joy to converse with. Marsha is the organizer of the event and Fiona was the first participant. Eighteen ladies attended last week and more are sure to come this week. We get lunch, pool time, and the companionship of others who are figuratively speaking in the same boat that we are each day.
We are learning that this is another place that can suck you right into staying, but the winds are due to change by the end of the week and we feel the pull of the north on our sterns…so Thursday we will provision, and head north to ??? well, north is a good enough start J.
Sunday, January 8, 2012
Sunday, January 8, 2012 St. Lucia
It is high noon, 85 degrees, and the World Arc race has just blown the starting horn. Boats from all over the world have gather here to start their around the world sailing adventure. Next stop is the San Blas Islands, then through the canal and out to sea heading west to the Marquises and Australia. High winds and seas are predicted for the next 4 days so they should have a rough but fast time to their destination.
We were not on the starting line, nor tempted to head out with them. Our water maker is out of commission, our auto pilot has a small problem, our macerator needs an impeller, and we have not seen enough of the Caribbean yet. Our boat is at anchor in front of The Sandals resort, there are 4 other resorts nearby, and wind surfer, parasaliors, and kayaks dart between us and the shore. Our friends on Panchita, Ted and Joan, are in the marina, and we are waiting for parts to be delivered. Dave is nursing a cold, and I am limin’ with free internet.
St Lucia is a mountainous island with many activities and a limited bus system. We are hoping to take a taxi tour with Ted and Joan on Wednesday to see the island and get a glimpse of what it offers. The anchor will stay down here for 3 weeks or so to allow us time to solve our problems, work on projects, and mingle with the locals and feel what life on St. Lucia is like. Life is neither dull nor boring these days.
January 3, 2012 Bequia
We have been in Bequia for almost a week and keep finding reasons to stay. This is by far one of the friendliest places we have been. The people in town greet you, and you them, as you walk their streets. The shop keepers acknowledge you with big open smiles and ask how they can help you find what you need. No one rushes you, and no one hassles you to buy things. One does not feel new or like an intruder here. The streets are paved and the architecture is a blend of Europe, Scandinavia, and the Caribbean. Buildings are painted every color available and tall graceful palm trees shade each well kept property. There are many hotels and restaurants all along one strip of land, and two gorgeous beaches to walk upon and enjoy water sports. Many people come for a month at a time and rent houses on the slopes above Lower Beach and enjoy the 4-5 beaches the island offers. The favorite mode of transport is a thing called the Moke, made by Mini Cooper--Dave has to inspect each one. Restaurant food is reasonable to expensive, your choice, and we finally found some free internet sources. A tour of the whole island can be done in two+ hours. Every evening there is a breeze that carries the island smells out to the boat, and gently sways us through happy hours.
Night life does exist; there are bands on Friday and Saturday that play till 3 AM. American boats are outnumbered 10 to 1. We are surrounded by boats brought here from mostly Scandinavian countries, and some chartered by the French, we just melt together into a close fitting rotating mass of swirling objects as the wind moves us at her will. Tied to a mooring buoy, there is only 20 feet of individual space between boats. You could almost hop over dinghy by dinghy to each other. So friendly is a good way to be in harmony with the situation. Polite boat vendors vie for your business and daily there are loud arguments amongst them as to who is servicing which boat. But as fast as it starts, it stops and one wins the business with no involvement from others.
For Christmas the area next to the ferry landing was fully decorated, lit, and a stage was erected for the caroling contest. We missed that but heard it was loads of fun and entertaining watching the professional groups, followed by the impromptu groups, which were then followed by individuals who were either talented or just brave. We arrived a few days later but they were all still talking about that night.
New Year's Eve started with 6 large lobsters ($7.00 per pound) and dinner on our boat with Miclo III, (Ellen, Rob, and Lizzy). After dinner, champagne, and dessert we walked around town and found a local bar. There they were BBQing chicken, and selling cold beer. We sat with a local fisherman and learned much about local conditions, politics, government, wives, and life on the island. Time flew and before long it was 11:40. We headed back to our boat for a front row view of the firework display. It was spectacular! The rockets shot up, the explosive colors spread far and wide, rapid multitudes of irruptions ignited one after another or on top of each other. There was no pause, no empty unlit space in the midnight sky for fifteen minutes. Not being night owls we found ourselves waking up on New Year's Day around 11:30 A.M. and reading the day away. Dave and I both started and finished our own books that day. Since then it has been rough weather. A tropical wave from Africa is whipping over us; seas are 9-11 feet, winds 20-27, rain comes 7-8 times at night and 4-5 times during the day. Our plans to leave here have been delayed, more books have been pulled out, and projects are being considered.
Speaking of projects we learned a new one called CRAFT (Can't remember a f------ thing). CRAFT gets in the way of projects (like when you can't find the tools you need). WAWCOOOS is another new word. Coming up from Carriacou we coined it to fit the ‘waves and wind coming on over our sides’ that carried gallons of water into our salon and spare bedroom. Sneaker waves do exist. Well, our lives are simple and fairly boring for now as we sit with another set of books, our morning coffee, and contemplate what we will thaw for dinner tonight. Hope all is well, and, that you are all doing well as this year moves ahead.
December 27th Carriacou
We left Grenada, which people will tell you is a hard thing to do. Our first stop was an island named Carriacou. We dropped anchor in Tyrrel Bay, a workingman's port--it was rolly and so we didn't put the dinghy down--we could only appreciate what was in our view. So the next morning we moved to Hillsborough which proved to be a much rollier anchorage. While I guided the motor down, Dave did the death defying feat of lowering the dinghy in 25 knots of wind and then his encore was using one hand to drop the motor on the dinghy's stern (timing it to the right rise and fall of the waves) and holding the dinghy with his other hand to the boat which was being propelled forward by current and 3 foot seas. Why would he risk life and limb? We needed to go to shore and check out of the country.
Once on shore we were told to come back in 75 minutes as the officials were headed to lunch. So, off we went walking the length of the town and finding a booming lunch business called Jerked. For $12.00 US we had 3 drinks and two complete meals of jerked pork and curried beef. Next stop was Patty's Deli for bread and sandwich meats. She sold her last baguette as we stood there so we bought bagels and great Italian ham sliced paper thin. Now it was time to check out. The office area held 3 people comfortably and there were 7 of us and 6 backpacks already in there and more trying to squeeze in. Patience paid off and all were taken in the order of arrival. By the time our turn came, they were very appreciative that we knew what we were doing, that we had 3 copies of the paperwork ready, and that we were not rude or confused. They stamped the papers and waved us on to the next check out point. The people and town itself was a delight and we felt very comfortable there. But, our plan was to go to Bequia for New Year's and so off we went at 5 AM with the rising sun and the setting stars as our companions.