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The Sailing Stories on Island Time by Eric & Carleen
We spent our 3rd night at Tidewater Marina in Portsmouth, VA. We briefly explored the area of historic homes neighborhoods, passing all the trick-or-treaters out for Halloween. Dinner was at a very eclectic restaurant the Cheshire Grill in the historic district. The restaurant consists of three dining areas which are filled with memorabilia from probably the 40s, 50s & 60s with maybe some things from the late 30s. The room where we ate had mannequins dressed in elegant wedding dresses in the center of the room, an area with swimwear, an old kitchen with cabinets and appliances, etc. You get the gist of the decor. They played a Johnny Mathis album from the 60s while we were there. There was a large varied menu at reasonable prices & we enjoyed our meal.
Thursday morning found us socked in with very heavy fog, so we decided to delay our departure from our scheduled 6:30 departure. Finally at 9:00 the fog thinned out enough to see and everyone left together. There we were on the waterway in a fleet of about 15 boats moving slowly in light but clearing fog. Suddenly a very dense fog bank rolled in and the whole world disappeared from view!! Everyone stopped just short of the first drawbridge on the ICW with slightly higher than normal pulse rates. Luckily this heavy fog didn't last long and we were on our way again. The rest of the day was uneventful, motoring down the ICW through several bridges and the Great Bridge lock. We finally arrived at Coinjock just at dark, tired up to the bulkhead at Midway Marina (no anchorages close by in this part of the waterway).
There was no fog Friday morning and we left leisurely around 7:00. Our destination for the day was an anchorage at the southern end of the Alligator River. This day's travels included the crossing of the Albermale Sound, which is one the few places on the waterway where sailing is truly possible. However our crossing started with no wind, building to around 10 knots ... (you guessed it) right on the nose. Another motorboat day.
Listening to weather forecasts of cold weather and strong winds for Monday and Tuesday, we decided to push on for Beaufort. So we got underway Saturday morning at first light; 6:00. We had the 19 mile Alligator & Pungo canal to transit then into the Pungo River where the wind finally came up on our beam and we had about a five mile stretch of great motorsailing with genoa ....then back into the next canal. Finally we put into Broad Creek near Oriental, NC, for the night, picking our way in through seven and eight feet water. A very nice anchorage.
The next day (Sunday) required only a five hour trip to Beaufort. We decided to try to time our arrival for slack tide at the docks which set our departure time for a sleep-in time of 10:00. After we cleared Broad Creek and entered the Neuse River we found 10 to 20 knot wind on our stern and actually truly sailed for the first time on this trip!! It was so nice and so quiet and lasted about an hour-and-a-half. Then we were back in the waterway on the last leg to Beaufort. We tied up at Beaufort Town Docks, which will be our home until the weather allows us to head off to St. Maarten.
Beaufort is a neat little town and very boater friendly. We'll enjoy our time here while we wait and make final preparations.
Carleen and Eric
The Bad: JUST the 2 of us; a knocking sound coming from the stern of the boat the 1st day at sea; 35 knot wind & 12 ft. seas on the beam making a very wet cockpit; very light wind from the SW & W resulting in too much motoring; what ever happened to the easterly trade winds anyway?; not enough sleep.
The UGLY: saltwater encrusted hair; heavy layer of salt everywhere on the boat; salt in your clothes, shoes, etc; fewer showers than one would like.
Eric was able to diagnose the knocking sound, eliminating the rudder & the prop as the culprit. Best guess was that the bar between the keel & the rudder was loose. Since this is not a structural item we were not overly concerned. A dive upon our arrival confirmed his conclusion. We are now in the process of finding a yard & good craftsmen to do the repair work.
So there you have it!
Happy Thanksgiving to all. We will be joining other sailors for an "American Thanksgiving dinner" at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club (dinghy dock & steel building with picnic tables) as announced on the cruiser's net this morning.
Carleen & Eric Island Time
Alas, all has not been perfect! We thought our dinghy had been stolen one day from the dinghy dock since it was supposedly locked & it was not where we left it. We did find it at another dock in the area with the open lock in the floor. We can only surmise that the lock had not really locked & that somehow the dinghy had floated away from where it was attached. Our 2nd problem was a boat in front of us drug anchor while we & they were away for the day. It ended up on our anchor chain. A good Samaritan from another boat pulled the boat off & threw out the second anchor which held it off. No damage to either boat.
We gathered with about 35 other cruisers for Thanksgiving dinner at the St. Maarten/St. Martin Yacht Club for a roasted turkey dinner which was very good. The cook turned out to be Australian & was quite nervous about getting everything right for us Americans, especially the pumpkin pie (his first time to bake one!). There was plenty of good food for the great price of $12. Plus there was live entertainment We met some interesting people--some were heading back to the US having spent the winter in Grenada & another couple was heading to St. Thomas to find work. It was an enjoyable evening.
On Thursday, 11/29, we were lifted out of the water for the repair to our heel strap which we noticed was loose while we were sailing here. A solution was finalized on Friday afternoon & the work was begun Saturday. We are now, 12/4, back in the water with a much stronger heel strap. By the way, the yard here uses a crane to haul boats, which is quite an operation to watch. Much more complex than a travel-lift but more versatile for lifting boats like catamarans, etc.
We never expected to have to live "on the hard" as those of you who are full time cruisers have experienced or soon will. So immediately the lyrics to a song by Eileen Quinn (a cruiser from Canada who sings amusing lyrics about the cruising lifestyle) came to our minds. The title of the song is "Life on the Hard." She sings about the "joy" of living on the boat while it is up on stands in the yard. You might be thinking that a non-boat shower would feel great as did we until we took one in the one & only bathroom they provide for all their marina guests. Read carefully...NO HOT WATER. So we opted to shower on the boat where warm showers were available.
And as true Packeteers, we took this opportunity to start to clean & wax the boat. But it hasn't been all work; we rented a car & drove to the beach a couple of days.
We're glad to be back at anchor!
Carleen & Eric
Gustavia is a very attractive town with white stucco homes & stores with red roofs. It is filled with wonderful stores for all your shopping needs & great restaurants. We had an excellent dinner at "Eddie's Place" offering French cuisine in a beautiful courtyard setting. Magnifique!!
Are you familiar with the Jimmy Buffet song Cheeseburger in Paradise? Well, we had cheeseburgers at Le Select, the restaurant/bar which is the setting for that song. Jimmy Buffet is rumored to show up here from time to time for an impromptu performance (no such luck that night, but good cheeseburgers!).
Our plan was to stay in Gustavia for 2 nights & then sail around to the north side of the island to Anse de Columbier (a nice bay with a beautiful sand beach) & spend a couple of nights there. However, the weather did not cooperate. A weather system with strong winds (25-35 knots), high seas (9-12 ft.) & rain was forecast. We decided to head back to St. Maarten & not stop at Columbier.
What a different sail from our trip over. We had easterly winds (almost dead on our stern) from 25-28 & seas in the 7-9 ft. range. No problem sailing the 15 miles back ... quickly. Very enjoyable though.
We anchored back in the nice calm waters of the lagoon and prepared for the higher winds and rain that were forecasted, and WOW! was the forecast right. We had winds up to 45 and lots of rain ... for a week! Our weather service man (David Jones) said that while this was officially a low pressure trough, it looked to him like tropical weather typical of the hurricane season (which officially ended December 1!
Went to the yacht club again for dinner just to get off the boat and somehow fell in with the Hylas crowd...three couples who all owned Hylas 54's. Carleen was invited over for a Christmas cookie swap and party. She had a good time and came back with lots of cookies.
With all the rain, the yacht club even deferred their Christmas party/dinner. In lieu of that, we went out to dinner with an Island Packet couple we met to a local (read, not touristy) restaurant with really great food! Nice night!
The weather forecast is for numerous rain showers through Saturday. Looking forward to the end of this weather pattern & return to the tradewinds. The best Christmas gift we could wish for would be great weather for our son Jeff's visit.
Carleen & Eric
The next morning we left for St. Barths in a wonderful 15 knot wind from the ENE! So different from our last trip to St. Barths. Not even one tack this time. We made our way into the harbor at Gustavia and picked up a mooring.
The next day we wandered around town with Jeff. He really enjoyed the French atmosphere, especially contrasting it to his previous Caribbean experiences in the Virgins. We also enjoyed looking at all the mega-yachts that were in the harbor. They were moored stern-to and there must have been 15 or 20 of them. One looked particularly tiny, wedged in between two others, but we estimated that this "tiny" one was probably 70 feet or more. Amazing!
We celebrated Christmas Eve with a wonderful dinner prepared by Carleen and then opened gifts. It was a nice holiday.
The next morning we left for Anse de Columbier, a bay on the north end of St. Barths that is very pretty. We spent the day swimming and sunning. The following morning we left for St. Martin (the French side). After another really nice sail we anchored off the town of Grand Case. We went ashore for barbecue ribs. Finally from Grand Case we sailed back around to the Dutch side and re-entered the lagoon.
From here we took Jeff to Marigot (main town on the French side) to clear customs and to explore the town. And of course, we couldn't let him leave without experiencing happy hour at the yacht club and meeting some of the cruisers we have met during our stay here. Friday morning, we took the bus to Phillipsburg (main town on the Dutch side). On Saturday, the 29th, Jeff flew back to NJ, ending a very nice visit.
We spent the next two days doing chores again (shopping and laundry). Had a quiet and nice New Year's Eve celebration on the boat and left the lagoon on the first to anchor out on the French side and wait for favorable winds for the passage to Guadeloupe.
Right now the forecast looks good for this weekend so hopefully our next communique will be from Guadeloupe.
Eric & Carleen
At the Sint Maarten Yacht Club (remember, two containers with a roof) one evening we were standing on the picnic tables waving at the boats coming through the drawbridge into the lagoon (a ritual at every happy hour). We had a perfect view of the setting sun & someone suggested that we should look for the green flash. Guess what? We actually saw it! Our first time to see this phenomenon!
Saturday, 1/5, the conditions were favorable for sailing to Guadeloupe. Our calculations had the passage taking 24 hours based on a boat speed average of 5.5 knots. The wind speed was originally forecast (0830 forecast on 1/4) to be E to ENE at 10 to 15 knots. We were already underway by 0830 that morning when the forecasted wind speed was increased by 5 knots. The wind was actually around 20 from the NE most of the morning before finally settling in to ENE. We were flying along at 7.5 to 8 knots with an ETA of 0400. We put a reef in the main & in the genoa which slowed us down to 7 to 7.5! Before nightfall, we added a second reef to both sails, then finally furled the genoa and set the staysail, working to get a daylight arrival. The seas were pretty choppy and it was a vigorous sail.
We dropped our anchor at Deshaies at 0700, the first anchorage on the northwest side of Guadeloupe. We stayed through Monday night, clearing customs that morning. This is a really small town and very interesting.
While in Deshaies, we met a couple (Don & Donna) aboard a 42-foot Beneteau (a 1982 Freer design) from San Francisco, who left California in 1996 to sail around the world. They are on their last leg headed north to the US east coast with final destination of the Chesapeake Bay (of course all plans are open to change). Don called us on the radio Sunday night since they were anchored close to us. They decided as did we to spend another night here so we invited them over at 1700 hours. They stayed 2 hours, but we could have talked all night! We're hoping that this summer when they come up the Chesapeake that they will stop by to see us.
We left Tuesday morning & motored down the lee shore to the end of the island & then sailed to Les Saintes. The town was not as crowded as it was last year...not as many tourists coming on the ferries. However, the harbor was just as crowded as last time; except for cruise ships. Not one single one was there the 2 nights we were anchored there. A boat anchored right next to us had been in Beaufort, NC, last November and we had met them there briefly before they left for Bermuda. We made arrangements to get together & ended up on their friends' boat. These two boats have been traveling together since they left the States. We also were introduced to a young guy who is single-handing an engineless boat.
After two sleepless nights (very rolly anchorage) we sailed up toward Pointe a Pitre. It was a to-weather sail & we thought at first that the sail would be rough, but after an hour or so of sailing, the wind & sea conditions died down, resulting in a wonderful sail.
While at Pointe a Pitre we did all the necessary stuff, shopping, laundry, fuel, etc. But we also met a couple from CT on a J-46. They were very nice and were friends of one of the couples on a boat that sailed down from Bermuda to the BVI with us last year. And guess what, while we were here they showed up as well! We went out to dinner and had a great time.
We are heading out tomorrow for Dominica, the next island south of here. From there it is on to Martinique, where we'll send out next report.
Eric & Carleen
We split the passage to Dominica into 2 days of approximately 4 hour sails. Winds both days were around 25 knots true with higher gusts & the seas were in the 8-10 ft. range. The first day we were on a close reach to Marie Gallante (which is part of Guadeloupe) where we anchored along the shore of a long sandy beach. Very nice setting & not crowded--only 2 other boats at least a 1/2 mile away. The next morning we sailed on a beam reach to Prince Ruperts Bay, Dominica. Both days of sailing were invigorating & fun.
We were a bit apprehensive about Dominica as the cruising guide warns you about aggressive vendors and tour guides in boats. The guide also suggests how to deal with them and suggests several reputable ones. Well, 2 miles out we were met by the first tour guide in his boat. He welcomed us to Dominica. We told him that we were going to be working with one of the other guides & he waved politely & took off. We were approached by a couple of other boats; all of the guides were friendly & were no problem when we told them we already had a guide.
Our guide (Martin) came by later in the PM & we discussed the different tours we were interested in. We chose 2 tours based upon his finding additional cruisers to split the cost of the van ($120 US).
Our first tour was to the rain forest for a 1 mile hike (not very strenuous at all). We shared this tour with 2 boatloads of English cruisers. This trail is part of the National Park System & the trail was very good. During the drive, Martin was a fount of information about the flora & fauna of the island, stopping often to look closely at the plants. He also explained how to prepare the different root vegetables & make teas from the herbs, etc. Bananas are the main cash crop (sold to European countries) & there are many small farms growing bananas, as well as oranges & grapefruits. The island is rich in the variety of vegetables & fruits that grow here. There are also several varieties of nuts, spices, coffee, cocoa, flowers, etc. growing wild. Lemon grass (used for tea & flavoring in vegetables & fish dishes) grows all over the hillsides. So the island population can sustain itself with its agricultural bounty. Along the way, Martin stopped at several farms & bought ripe bananas & oranges, which we ate after our hike. He had us try another fruit called sour sop (not sure about the spelling) which is very popular to eat. Our next stop was to a waterfall which was more of a challenging hike, but well worth the trip. We went swimming here & stood under the waterfall. A very cold, but refreshing dip! Dropping us off at our boats, he gave each of us a portion of the fruit that was left from the day's trip.
The next day, we did an all day trip which took us to the east coast & some very different scenery. The only Carib Indian population left in the Caribbean is here. It is a small village not unlike any of the other villages on the island. They have vegetable & fruit stands & hand-woven basket stands along the road. Today we were treated to star fruit & roasted bread fruit, as well as bananas. Our last stop was Emerald Pond, which also has a waterfall & is part the park system.
Dominica is a very poor island, but rich in natural beauty. We very much enjoyed our time here & the friendly people we encountered.
On Tuesday 1/22 we sailed to Martinique, making landfall at St. Pierre after a vigorous 52 mile sail. We'll be in Martinique for 2 or 3 weeks.
Eric & Carleen
(apparently the original transmission of this email got lost somewhere in the telephone)
Monday morning & the boats have been circulating in front of the fuel dock for as much as 1 hr. prior to its 0830 opening. Eric was at the mechanic's shop trying to enlist his help, because we know we will be asked to vacate our spot. Meanwhile Carleen was being yelled at to move because they needed to fuel the waiting boats. There was a French flagged boat in front of us, however, no one tried to get them to move. Carleen went to get Eric. When we returned, we were told to move the boat to a mooring & when the work was ready to begin, then they would work something out for us. So Eric "slowly" went to the dinghy dock to retrieve our dinghy. When he got back, the boat in front of us was pulling away. We requested to move to that spot since it was not directly in front of the pumps. Answer was no. Fortunately, Patrice arrived with his tools. Patrice had been to the office & talked with the management. Brief discussion in French between the dockmaster & Patrice... we were allowed to move forward and stay on the fuel dock! For the rest of the day, the staff was very friendly.
That morning (2/4) the old engine was removed & the new engine was placed on the boat. The dockmaster was going to tow us into a spot (Med. mooring) late in the day, but around 1700 he came by & told us he was leaving us there for the night. Tuesday morning a new dockhand came by & yelled at us to move. A large catamaran tied up to the fuel dock after hours on Monday blocking the pumps, but no one was aboard when 0830 opening time arrived on Tuesday. Once the dockmaster arrived, everything was once again ok. So we remained & work continued with the engine being lifted into place in the engine room. Around 1100, the dockmaster said he was going to tow us to a slip. Patrice discussed this with him, but lost. It is so much more difficult to get on & off our boat when it is Med. moored to a dock. Just before lunch we were carefully towed to the dock with plenty of help from the dock hands. Patrice continued his work on the installation, finishing the next afternoon after less than three days work.
The installation was done carefully and professionally, with a minimum of waiting time (except for the obligatory French 2 hour lunch). When completed we were given the final bill, which was actually about $300 LESS than the quoted firm price. Patrice said that it took him less time and that he needed less hardware! This in spite of a labor rate almost half of back in Annapolis. Also when was the last time that you had something done, agreed on a price, and had the vendor tell you at the end that it was less than agreed upon! Needless to say we are very happy with the work.
Now we need to hang around Martinique until we get close to 50 hours on the engine. Then Patrice will do the initial service free of charge! Let's see, we are required to hang around this first class island for the next three weeks or so. We started our assignment by having dinner out with friends that we met back in Guadeloupe (Dave & Deanna on "Avalon" from Ohio) with a first class Creole dinner for under $25 a couple. We think we will be able to handle this job.
The language differences have naturally complicated making arrangements to get everything done. But most everyone has spoken enough English (and some very good English) that our needs have been met. It helps that we try what little French that we know.
We are looking forward to cruising to, swimming in & snorkeling in the bays around Martinique for the next few weeks.
Carleen & Eric
Our first stop after the engine was replaced was the bay at St. Anne where we spent a week. This anchorage is a favorite stop for many cruisers & some spend the entire winter months here. There is a great bakery for those loaves of baguettes, croissants & other pastries, a very good vegetable & fruit market (open every day), a fresh fish market (the blowing of the conch shell announces the arrival of fish), 2 small grocery stores for basics, restaurants, bank, & a diving center. There is also a nice white sand beach & clean water for swimming & running the watermaker, and activities organized by some of the cruisers. We took part in bocci ball & Friday night happy hour on the beach. Also since we were there on Valentine's Day, we joined with about 10 other couples & had lunch together at the Caritan Hotel restaurant & then had a swim in the hotel's pool. We also hiked over to a beautiful, very popular beach Anse des Salines (an all day adventure).
We met one cruiser who operates an off-shore radio program under the name of "Off-shore Dave." He normally comes up in the evening around sunset, but on Valentine's Day he did a morning show with dedications.
Finally we left St. Anne to explore different anchorages on the western shore of Martinique. We traveled with Deanna & David on a C & C 38 named "Avalon" who we met back in Guadeloupe. They are from Cleveland. We motored (to break in our engine...need to reach that magic number of 50 hours for the checkup with the mechanic) & they enjoyed the great sailing weather that we had.
First stop was a really pretty bay called Petit Anse D'Arlet. We anchored in the south end away from everything and it was wonderful. Finally we moved up to just off the most picturesque little town imaginable. From here we went around to the village of Trois Islets and anchored off a golf course! This is another cute town, not yet found by most tourists. While here we walked to Josephine's birthplace and took a ferry to Fort de France (the large and captiol city of Martinique). We had a very enjoyable day. Since Deanna & David had been here before they had lots of good pointers on sights to see.
Back at the anchorage we met a couple, Prisca & Rudy, on an IP45 named "Slow Motion" (not unusual you say) except they bought their new boat in Holland in late 1999! They are Swiss, but have lived for the last 30 years in Germany, so the registration is German. They fly a German flag & on a flag halyard is the Swiss flag. Rudy is a good story teller & has many sea stories & custom/immigration stories. They just arrived in the Caribbean in Jan 2002 from the Canaries.
Next stop was St. Pierre, where we had stopped briefly on our way south. Here we met up with friends of Deanna's & David's on "Duo." First day was a work day doing laundry and buying groceries (very important). We also continued the tasks of polishing the stainless, cleaning the bottom, and cleaning the cabin. One morning we hiked up to a rum distillery which was very interesting. Saw the whole process of rum making, starting with the cane grinding and ending in the tasting room.
We left St. Pierre and motored back to St. Anne. We're up to 36 hours so we think we'll need another trip to Petit Anse D'Arlet to make it to 50. The weather is a little unsettled for the moment so we'll stay here until the front passes. There are three other IPs here now...Good Hope, La Sirena (both 38's) & Island Spirit (Radeen & Hayden, it's an IP350).
There will be a local sailboat race here this weekend. Should be fun.
Carleen & Eric
Well we are finally leaving Martinique. We set off for St. Lucia in the morning (3/13). Since our last email from Martinique dated 3/2 we have:
- Finalized our reservations at Coral Cove marina and boat yard in Trinidad.
- Gotten our airplane tickets for our trip home on May 28.
- Had croissants and cafe au lait for breakfast about every other day.
- Played bocce ball on the beach with other cruisers 3 or 4 times. These were organized by a cruiser and were attended by 20 to 30 folks each time. A great way to meet people.
- Attended 2 happy hours on the beach with other cruisers.
- Put 14 more hours on the engine. Some by charging batteries; the rest by "going for a ride" around the anchorage".
- Watched the local sailboat races, which were a lot of fun. They are wooden boats that use a crew of about 12 to 15 for ballast by climbing out to the end of long wooden poles that are slid to one side or the other.
- Continued looking (unsuccessfully) for our lost mail. It was mailed "global express" via the US Postal Service and all they can say is that it left the country on January 28. No more US Post Office service!
- Made several phone calls and wrote two letters to get replacement IRS 1098 and 1099 forms (because of the lost mail.)
- Attended a "ladies day out" (Carleen) luncheon organized by one of the cruisers. It was held at a local hotel restaurant and followed by an afternoon swim in the pool.
- Cleaned the bottom of the boat. Took several days working an hour or two each time. Set up a feeding frenzy of 6 inch silver colored fish that really loved the stuff that grew on the bottom.
- Read a few books each and went to a book swap on the beach to replenish our library.
- Did laundry on the boat of swimsuits and nylon shorts, turning the boat into a floating (and colorful) clothesline.
- Finished polishing the stainless steel hardware.
- Made several dinghy trips to town for baguettes (French bread), to do pocketmail, to make phone calls, and to take walks.
- Wrote lots of emails.
- Motored up to Le Marin to the marina for the mechanic to do the 50 hour engine service. This is a med-moor marina; a real challenge. We are squished in like sardines with only our fenders between us & the boats on either side. Most people think marinas are a luxury, but we find that they are hot, noisy, and crowded. Give us an anchorage anytime.
- Filled the diesel tank, water tank, and the jerry jug for the dinghy gas.
- Supervised the 50 hour service on the engine and the installation of a new prop shaft coupling. The whole thing was supposed to be a few hours, no more. But it took all one day and half of the next. Nothing is ever simple on a boat and you do have to supervise.
- Repaired the inverter (well, sort of repaired). It suddenly decided to stop working and to display an error message that the manual said was "AC feedback" and that we "should disconnect shore power immediately. The only thing was... we weren't connected to shore power. After several attempts to clear the message and get it to working, the solution was to disconnect the battery completely and then to re-connect. It's working fine now!. Aren't electronics wonderful?
- Went to the laundromat and the grocery store to stock up on all the neat french goodies that we won't be able to get "down island". Important stuff like french coffee, Yoplait creme caramel (flan), cheese, and wine.
That's what we did for the last 10 days. Next report from farther south.
Eric & Carleen
We sailed to St. Lucia on Wednesday, 3/13. Nice to sail again. We had winds mostly from the east at 15 to 25 knots with some higher gusts and they were on our beam or stern quarter. The seas ranged from 6 to 9 ft. with a few 10 footers. We had good boat speed with 6.5 to 7 knots.
Whales! Two of them were exploding up out of the water about a mile to the east of us. What a sight!
We dropped anchor off a nice beach in Rodney Bay south of Pigeon Island. Lots of boats we know were anchored here or were in the marina, so we gathered for happy hour at a local bar. (Most of the French island bars don't have happy hours with reduced prices & snacks.)
On Thursday morning we hiked up to Lookout Point & to the fort on Pigeon Island (which is actually no longer an island since they built a causeway in 1970's to connect it to the mainland.) This area is a national park & there was a small fee to enter. The view from Lookout Point is incredible! We could see the Pitons (incredibly steep volcanic mountains in southern St. Lucia), but the sky was not clear enough to catch them on film.
Friday was a bus ride to the local mall (fairly new). There were some very nice stores & also Carleen was able to have her hair cut at a hair salon there.
On Sunday, we sailed down the leeward coast to the town of Soufriere where we picked up a marine park mooring off the Bat Cave. It was a beautiful spot... clear water with lots of coral & fish right off your boat. However, the seas were very rolly & after an hour & a half, we opted to move. We looked around & finally picked up another mooring on the south side of the bay off the town. We were not very happy with this location. This area has a reputation for boat burglaries, so we were glad to have "Avalon" on the next mooring. The next day we were able to move to the bay between the Pitons (St. Lucia's most noted land feature). The Jalousie Hilton is here & owns the whole beach area. It is a beautiful resort & is very expensive. The white, fine sand beach is not natural to this area. The natural beaches are black sand due to the volcanic nature of the island.
The marine park management charges boaters a fee to stay here. No fishing or anchoring is allowed within the park. Scuba diving with a guide & snorkeling are allowed.
Boat vendors are plentiful...selling jewelry, wood carvings, tee shirts, & fruit. They can also arrange tours, provide water taxi service, garbage pickup, etc. Most of the restaurants provide water taxi service to their restaurants & will keep a watch on your boat while you eat.
Took a land tour on the 20th arranged by one of the water taxi vendors. Visited a volcano crater with lots of steam and boiling water (awesome), a botanical garden (beautiful), and a waterfall (pretty). Also got to see a little of the local villages. St. Lucia is another very pretty but very poor island. We are happy to spend a little money to contribute to a struggling economy.
Our next stop is Bequia, an island in the Grenadine island chain. The passage will be around 52 miles. The Bequia Easter Regatta is coming up and Dave & Deanna plan to race their boat in the for fun cruiser class of the regatta, and they asked us to crew for them. This should prove interesting.
Carleen & Eric
Bequia Part 1
Our 2nd night, we went out to dinner with a group of friends. Around 9:00 PM, we went back to "Island Time" which was supposed to be safe & secure on her mooring. Only she wasn't there! The mooring ball was still there, so you can imagine our shock. We started hunting for her with our dinghy & was approached by one of the water taxi guys who said that he had saved our boat when it drug with the mooring buoy & hit another boat. He led us to the back of the mooring field where he had tied us to another mooring. He took Eric over to the boat that "IT" was supposed to have hit. They said that "IT" floated sideways through the mooring field & caught the bow pulpit (stainless steel that runs around the bow of the boat) on their boat with the one on our boat. We could find no damage to either boat in the dark of night. We suspected a scam of some sort was being pulled on us. Anyway, we tried to find witnesses from the other boats around us, but no one saw "IT" dragging. ! The owner of the mooring came out the next morning at 7:30 AM & said he would take care of everything, including cost of any damage to the other boat & the taxi driver who had already let us know that he expected to be paid for "saving" our boat. The other boat left after speaking with African Pride (owner of the mooring we were on). African Pride removed the mooring & repaired it. We only had some very minor scratches to our bow pulpit. We are still not convinced that the taxi driver & the other boat were not trying to pull some type of scam.
Bequia has historically been a fishing & whaling community. Today they are still allowed to take 2 whales each year by international treaty, which they do by the traditional method using spears. The week before Easter the fishermen caught this year's whales (a mother & calf) & brought them back to the whaling station. They always catch a calf first, because it brings the mother over, making her easier to catch. Carleen & some friends from another boat went to the event (Eric being busy with racing). It was quite a scene. They drag the whale up onto the beach to skin it, cut it up, etc. We learned that the islanders are allowed to have a portion of the catch which we were told was about 5 lbs. of the fat & 3 lbs. of the meat. There were plenty of people with buckets & other containers to take home their portion. We were also told that the rest is sold to the Chinese. Carleen even tasted some of the whale meat.
One day we walked across the island (only a couple of miles) to a wonderful breakfast at a very nice resort. We really enjoyed both our walk and the meal. Another day we walked out to the "Turtle Sanctuary". This is a privately run facility set up to raise and release sea turtles. It was very interesting.
Bequia Part 2
After the regatta we enrolled at Dive Bequia for scuba training. After successfully completing our course (which included 4 dives) we are now Certified Open Water Divers. This means that we can dive to 60 feet and can dive without a qualified dive-master. However we have no plans to dive other than with a dive shop and dive-master, especially since we have no equipment. After completing the course they give graduates 2 "free" dives, which were really fun. In addition to lots of fish, corals, and sponges, we saw a sea horse, a large octopus, a baby moray eel & a tiny shrimp which danced across Eric's hands.
We will leave here sometime on Monday and head down to the Tobago Cays, which are supposed to be very beautiful. The plan is to meet up with "Avalon" who left a week ago to sail down to the Cays. From there we will sail to the island of Tobago (no relation to the Cays). After that the next stop is Trinidad and our flight back to Annapolis. Can't believe that time is getting that short.
Carleen & Eric
We left Bequia on Tuesday, April 16 and had a really nice sail down to the Tobago Cays. Winds were good and the 24 mile trip took only 4.5 hours from anchor up to anchor down.
The Tobago Cays are very pretty and quite unique. The Cays are a St. Vincent national park where you anchor behind a huge coral reef facing east towards the Atlantic Ocean and Africa with four tiny islands behind you. The water is crystal clear and the snorkeling is superb with the prettiest coral we've ever seen. Not surprisingly this area attracts a lot of boats and we counted between 40 to 50 in the anchorage. Also without any islands to hide behind, you get the full force of the winds. We enjoyed exploring the small islands & the coral gardens, but after a few days we took off in search of a more settled and secluded anchorage.
We found one off the island of Mayreau in Saline Bay. It has a very pretty beach and a very small town. Half of the crescent beach is owned by one of the large cruise ship lines. There were many beach lounges chained & locked together, plus restrooms, picnic tables, an open air bar (no supplies or refrigeration) & a very large charcoal grill. We were told that the last cruise ship of the season would not be there for another 5 days, so we had the beach basically to ourselves & just enjoyed the solitude. "Avalon" joined us for a night, then took off for Union Island. After a couple of days, we joined "Avalon" at Chatham Bay on Union which they had radioed us was very nice.
Chatham Bay was exactly as billed. It is a large bay with a long beach, no town, and few boats. Not surprisingly we liked it here also. We walked the beach, hiked over the hill into town, did some snorkeling and read cruising guides, trying to decide where to go next.
From Chatham we sailed down to the tiny, privately owned island of Petite St. Vincent. It has a very exclusive hotel and nothing else. Yacht people are invited to walk along the beach, eat in the restaurant (if space is available) & imbibe at the bar, but are not allowed anywhere else. We thought about going to the bar for cocktails to sample the atmosphere, but a look at the prices changed our minds.
We spent one night there & then headed to Clifton on Union Island to visit the vegetable market & the grocery stores, as well as clear out of customs & immigration.
On Friday morning (4/26) we sailed to Carriacou, Grenada. We had discussed sailing to Tobago (an overnight sail); however, we were looking for northeast winds which never materialized. The southeasterly winds we've been experiencing would mean sailing to weather & hand steering. We decided to leave it for another time & enjoy the island of Grenada for the next couple of weeks.
Carleen & Eric
Carriacou is in the lower Grenadines & is a part of Grenada. We anchored in Hillsborough to clear customs & then went to Tyrrel Bay to anchor for our stay.
There is a small marina & haulout here & there were a number of yachts in the harbor that seemed to have been here for an extended time. The Carriacou Yacht Club is very nice. It consists of a restaurant, mini-market, laundry, showers, tennis court, internet cafe, etc. We had breakfast there one morning & ordered "bakes" which we have not seen on any menu before. They were quite good. We wondered where the name came from since these wonderful bread-like delicacies are fried! A British family sitting next to us said they were like the doughnuts they had at home except they were missing the fruit filling. Our last night in Carriacou we went to dinner there.
A music festival was being held the weekend we were there & so we took a taxi to the park on Sunday. There was supposed to be a steel band playing at 1:00 PM. When we arrived with several other couples around 1:15, they were still cleaning up from Saturday night which hadn't broken up until 5:30 AM Sunday morning. None of the food booths were open so there went lunch. The drinks were just being iced down so that also went on hold. We sat around until about 3:00 PM when a band started playing (unfortunately, not the steel band we came to hear). We hung around for another 45 minutes or so & then found a taxi to take us back to Tyrrel Bay. We heard the next day that the steel band did start playing around 6:00 PM.
The next day we went on a dive with the Arawak Dive Shop to a place called Sister Rocks. It was a very good dive only we were a little disappointed that we didn't see any nurse sharks or stingrays that the divemaster said he often sees on this dive. We did see lots of other fish including Angelfish and a Moray eel.
We enjoyed our visit to Carriacou... local inexpensive restaurants (US$12 - $25), laid back atmosphere, no resorts on the beach.
On Tuesday, May 1, we sailed down to Grenada where we are now anchored in Prickly Bay which is located on the south coast. Quite a different atmosphere here. This bay is mostly surrounded by large, beautiful houses. There are a couple of resorts on the beaches, a small marina with a haulout, expensive restaurants (prices from US$50 & above), a mini-mart & an internet store. We will be on the south coast here for a week before we sail to Trinidad.
Carleen & Eric
Our stay in Greneda was short...only 8 days. We spent all that time at the Prickly Bay anchorage. We walked the roads around the area to see the homes and the next bay. Basically, we just decided that it was too much work to pick up the anchor for a short stay in another bay since we had to be on our way to Trinidad soon. So we just chilled out.
On Saturday,the 4th, we rode a bus into St. Georges, the main city. St. Georges is a large city compared to everything we have seen lately (since Martinique). It is very hilly and gives you a good workout walking.
On the evening of the 7th Dave & Deanna had us over to their boat for a "bon voyage" dinner. We have been traveling together for about three months. Then on the evening of the 8th we left for the overnight run to Trinidad.
After a pleasant and uneventful sail we arrived in Trinidad the morning of the 9th, cleared customs and pulled into the marina. The next day the air conditioner that we are renting was installed...it is very hot and humid here. Now we are spending our time searching out vendors and pricing on various boat projects that we want to get done. The people in Trinidad are so very nice, friendly and helpful that this work is actually a pleasure.
We will fly back to the states next week (the 23rd). Our final report will be from Annapolis when we arrive!
Carleen & Eric
Well, as promised we are writing one last time after our arrival back in Annapolis. Our flights were uneventful (just what one wants) and even on-time! Island Time is now sitting on the hard in the boat yard, waiting for our return. We are happy to be back in the U.S. to see our friends, but we are already missing life on the boat.
We have a busy summer ahead of us. We have to find a rental agent for the condo, clean out the "stuff" that accumulates in one's closets, work out addresses and other details of life living on a boat, and visit doctors and dentists for check-ups. In the midst of all this activity, Eric has three sailing classes to teach. Our target is to be back in Trinidad by Sept 1, if we can get everything done.
We hope to see as many of our friends and family as possible during the summer. Hope you all have good summers.
Please let us know if you want to continue getting our cruising reports.
Carleen & Eric