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Sailing At Last
This is the tale of our journey to fulfill a passion of learning to sail and a dream to circumnavigate. Welcome Aboard At Last!

Profile of At Last and the Gorrell's
Who: Mark & Janet Gorrell
Port: Wickford, RI USA
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02 March 2012
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02 March 2012
45 Photos
Eileen Can Sure Pick a Spa
December 27, 2011, 12:43 pm, Body Holiday Spa at LeSport

Eileen, Mark and I headed to the Body Holiday Resort & Spa in the morning for a few treatments. We arrived after a 20 minutes taxi ride and were astounded by the beauty of the resort. We had about a half an hour before our treatments so we walked around and looked into which restaurant we would choose for lunch. The grounds were beautiful. There was a huge chalk board detailing all of the activities for the day - tubing, sailing, golf lessons, water aerobics, etc. They had everything.

We went up for our treatments which were fabulous and then met for lunch. The lunch was a Mediterranean buffet with alcoholic drinks included. I found it very difficult to determine how many glasses of chardonnay I had when they kept filling my glass every time it became half empty. When the waitress tried to take our utensils thinking we were ready for dessert we objected as we headed back to the buffet for second helpings. Yes, it was that good. Then, it was time for a bit of dessert - I had two.

Eileen and I were lying on the beach while Mark went up to have another treatment. While on the beach, they brought us complementary Pimm Punch (a delightful rum drink with lemon and limes). We also were given a face cloth which was dipped in ice water to cool ourselves off. Eileen and I went swimming in the ocean and met a delightful woman from Scarsdale, New York. She indicated that this was only a four star resort and for the life of me I cannot imagine what a five star resort would be like. Due to the all inclusive nature of the resort, we each got two treatments at the spa and were allowed to use all of the facilities while we had our treatments. The treatments were very reasonable and well worth it. We would highly recommend a little pampering at the Body Holiday whenever you are in St. Lucia!

We felt we had hit the lottery with the spa and quickly felt that we owed a bit to the karma gods. We began to pay our dues when Eileen fell into the water while getting into the dinghy to pick up Tony. She commented while laughing hysterically that she was now soaking wet for the second day in a row due to the dinghy. I had to lie down on the swim platform because I was laughing so hard I thought I might fall in the water (only after I knew she hadn't hurt herself, of course). Mark paid his dues, when after we dropped off Eileen we proceeded to run out of gas in the dinghy and he had to row us back to the marina which took about half an hour. We did get an offer of dinghy fuel or a tow from a lovely couple in the mooring field, Jack and Rachel (I hope we got that right). We talked with them for a bit since they were from Mystic, CT. Rachel had actually read our blog and knew about the details of our trip thus far. Small world.

We went to an incredible dinner at Antoine's at the Baywalk Mall which is a quick dinghy ride from the boat and from the hotel room. We went to the casino in the mall after dinner. The craps table was empty so Tony suggested we play. Mark and I knew nothing about how to play. For example, I was quickly admonished for yelling out "come on seven" on the first roll. The number seven quickly became known as "the number we don't talk about." Apparently, this was not much of an improvement. We also each had a die go over the lip of the table and fly across the casino floor. The pit boss was quite patient with us and tried to teach us as much as possible before our money ran out (which was not very long).

The Windward Islands
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On Time and Ready To Go
December 26, 2011, 12:27 pm, Rodney Bay Marina

Our day was spent getting ready for Eileen and Tony to arrive. They told us through email that they would be at our boat at 6:00 pm. We spent the day cleaning and cooking in anticipation of their arrival. As we sat in the cockpit at 6:00 pm, we thought it was silly to think that they would be on time considering their travel from the United States, having to drive much the length of the island to the marina, and then find our boat in a marina with about three hundred other boats. At 6:30 pm, there were Eileen and Tony strolling down the dock like they were knew exactly where they were going.

Tuesday morning we took the dinghy over to their motel room. They got a room right in the lagoon where the marina is located. They even had a dinghy dock right outside of their room! We had a delicious breakfast at Rituals (the local coffee shop) where the plans for the week began to take shape. It being the holiday much of the island was closed so we took a dinghy ride around the entire lagoon and out into the bay. We ate lunch at a delightful restaurant at the Pigeon Island Park called Jambe De Bois. It took a rather lengthy amount of time to be served but the food was delicious. The dinghy ride back became quite eventful as the winds and waves began to increase. Eileen, Tony and Janet took much of the abuse while Mark seemed to be tucked behind us avoiding all of the water. By the time we arrived back at the boat we were soaked but laughing about it.

The Windward Islands
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Merry Christmas from St Lucia
Janet beautiful weather
December 25, 2011, 10:11 am, Rodney Bay, St Lucia

We finally made it to St Lucia on Christmas eve. We were able to leave Martinique on Saturday morning. The winds and waves had settled down and the four hour sail was quite nice compared to our experiences the past week. We arrived at the Rodney Bay Marina around noon. By the time we were able to check in with customs, it was late afternoon.

At last, St Lucia in site.

We ran around trying to get our rather hefty bag of laundry to some kind person who would be willing to do our dirty laundry over the Christmas holidays. I will have to do a blog about laundry once we get the laundry back because it is a fascinating and somewhat frustrating process. We also needed to get to a grocery store. Of course it is now Christmas Eve and the store will be crowed so it is not good timing. The store was packed but it was the largest store I have visited since grocery shopping in Tortola.

The marina is nice but again, we have limited internet access from the boat. Looks like we will have to spend more time in the internet cafes (bars) sipping coffee (martinis) to keep our blog current.

Our good friends, Eileen and Tony arrive here Monday and we will be celebrating the Holidays together. They come bringing gifts, our important mail picked up from Janet's brother Darryl (serving as our forwarding address and chief mail handler), cookies, and a shower head (replacing the one Mark broke). We can't wait to see them.

We spent the day cleaning the boat, inside and out. We will be skyping this evening with any family we can reach on the internet. Tomorrow we put lights on the boat and celebrate Christmas a day late. But as cruisers, "you have to learn to roll with it". (name the movie with the quote - think Cruise)

We wish everyone a safe and joyous holiday. A special Merry Christmas to the Trajkovics aboard Sea Smile from Canada! Thank you so much for the early Christmas present that you left for us in Tortola! We wish you an enjoyable vacation in the BVI and please stay in touch.

The Windward Islands
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Martinique, one more time
Janet, howling wind
December 24, 2011, 10:06 am, Grande Anse D’Arlet

We tried to leave Martinique on Thursday morning for St. Lucia. As soon as we passed the protected leeward side of Martinique, we ran into waves and wind that were much more fierce than predicted. The wind was over 30 knots and waves so high and steep that, as we fell down one wave, our bow was completely submerge into the next. This is the first time we ever heard the propeller come out of the water. The engine makes quite an interesting noise when the prop is out of the water. This happened several times.

At Last was being thrown around and this was the first time we felt out of control. We quickly decided to turn around and head back to Martinique. We were not up for another tough sail. All the other boats that left that day returned as well so we felt we were in good company.

We had already looked into nearby anchorages to divert into in case the weather was not agreeable so we went to the anchorage called Grande Anse D'Arlet. Despite being in a somewhat protected anchorage, we had over 30 knot gusts while anchoring. Luckily our anchor set quickly. We let out a whole boatload of chain and settled in for a somewhat uncomfortable 2 day stay. The forecast now predicts the 30 knot winds for the next 36 hours. We set up an anchor sail on the stern of the boat to try to keep the boat pointed into the wind which we found helpful. We listened to the wind howl through the rigging hoping the anchor would hold.

The most disappointing aspect of all of this was that we once again had no internet access to post to the blog and our arrival in St Lucia will be postponed at least till Christmas eve if we are lucky. We have spent the last four days on the boat at anchor in poor conditions, losing sleep and worrying about the 30+ knot winds and anchor holding. We are anxious to get to St Lucia.

The Windward Islands
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Watch Your Step!!
Janet, very windy conditions in the bay
December 22, 2011, 10:04 am, Fort De France Martinique

The beauty of Dominica was not far from our minds while we sailed to Martinique. Unfortunately the beauty was replaced by the rage of the ocean. We were sailing in 30 knot gusts (only 20 were predicted) and 15 foot waves off the stern quarter. When we left Dominica, we had all the sails out. By the time we were half way to Martinique, we had out only the main sail with two reefs. Mark DID NOT get sea sick. We had read about the highs and lows of living on a boat. This trip was definitely a low. The trip took us longer than expected but we were able to start anchoring in Martinique just as the sun was setting. Unfortunately our anchor dragged twice before it took hold so again we were finishing the anchoring in the dark. By time the boat got settled all we could do was eat a quick dinner and fall into bed. We were exhausted.

The next morning we discovered that some of the teak wood on our swim platform had broken off. We weren't sure if it was from the tough sail or that we were anchored near a channel where ferry boats passed. When they passed, the waves they produced pounded against the stern of the boat and slapped the underside of the swim platform. We are beginning to notice more wear and tear on the boat now that we are living on it. We now understand why cruisers say they spend forty hours a week maintaining their boats. Our time is coming.

"One of these things is not like the other. One of these things does not belong". Damage done to the swim platform on the crossing from Dominica to Martinique.

Mark spent the entire day checking into customs and walking all over town trying to find an internet hot spot. No luck. So the blog updates will have to wait till we arrive in St Lucia tomorrow.

The Windward Islands
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From the set of Pirates of the Caribbean II
December 19, 2011, 5:42 am, Portsmouth, Dominica

We arrived in Dominica (dom en E kah), the last of the Leeward Islands, late in the day in very blustery conditions. As we were looking for a mooring ball, a member of PAYS (Portsmouth Association of Yacht Security) greeted us from his skiff and told us he would direct us to a good mooring ball. His name (and his boat's name) is Alexis. Once you connect with one of the "boat boys" as they are called, they become your concierge for your stay. Alexis is a native of Dominica along with many generations of his family. To say that he is in love with his island would be an understatement. He spent most of the next day with us and his love of the island was infectious. Not only was he able to tell us what it was like growing up in a rainforest, he educated us about how protective his country is of the island which has preserved so much of its beauty.

In the morning, Alexis rowed us up the Indian River (he was not allowed to use his engine as the river is a national park). That is where we passed the location for one of the sets for the Pirates of the Caribbean II. The Indian River is where they shot the scene when the group goes to visit the gypsy, Calypso. We stopped at a little bar up the river and walked around the grounds. We had fresh squeezed orange and grapefruit juice which was delicious. Alexis took a machete and chopped up a coconut for us. Then he made me an origami bird using a palm leaf.

In the afternoon, we went with Alexis on a hike through the rain forest. We got him talking about what it was like growing up in the rain forest. He talked about the food that he and his friends ate from the rain forest and how his family used many of the trees and plants for medicine. He was very proud that Dominica was the residence of the oldest living woman on earth. She lived to be 128. He even took us by the house she lived in. There must be something to living in Dominica and youth because we thought Alexis was about thirty but he told us quite proudly that he was 45. Mark compares this rain forest to his experience visiting the Muir Woods Redwood forest in California.

Alexis and Janet on the Indian River. Wish we had better pictures of Alexis. Stay tuned for a You Tube video of Alexis talking about his life growing up in the rain forest.

On the way back from the rain forest, we stopped along several plantations where we were able to pick grapefruit and oranges off the trees. Alexis picked me a bouquet of beautiful wild orchids. He also picked a cocoa fruit (the seeds produce cocoa). He opened it for us and we sucked on the seeds which were surrounded by a sweet pulp. Quite tasty.

We would highly recommend that any boater visiting Dominica ask to work with Alexis. His knowledge of Dominica is incredible. He provided us with a wonderful tour of the island and even sold me some snake oil which he was certain would help with my back pain. See photos of the rain forest and the rest of our experience in the gallery.

Sadly, we leave Dominica tomorrow on a 70 mile sail to Martinique.

The Leeward Islands
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Les Saints, where Janet liked fish and ketchup is brown
December 18, 2011, 6:32 am, Terre-De-Haut, Les Saintes

We left Dehaies Gaudeloupe Friday morning after a very rocky ride in the anchorage the night before. A front had blown through in the night and the wind and waves shifted sending everything mother nature had right into the calm bay. Several boats came into the bay in the middle of the night to seek shelter from the storm and a few turned around and left after experiencing the rocky conditions. Luckily, our anchor held but we lost a lot of sleep.

We arrived at our next stop, the islands just southeast of Guadeloupe called Les Saintes, late in the afternoon. This is a beautiful set of seven islands that are part of Guadeloupe. The main island, where we are staying, is Terre-De-Haut. It was not very long before we knew that Les Saints were going to be at the top of our favorites list. The place is gorgeous. Most people were riding bikes or scooters. We saw one car in the whole town. The streets of the main town are lined with restaurants, boutiques, bakeries and people just watching people, in French style, sitting at a street side café sipping a cup of espresso and smoking a cigarette.

Yes, they speak French here but some are a little more able to communicate with us than those in Deshaies, Gaudeloupe. I learned that speaking broken English using an Inspector Clouseau accent does not help with communications. Honestly, that is what you start to do. We want to thank all of you who commented on the Blog and sent emails in French. We are doing well on the translations but on the accent, not so good.

It took us 30 minutes to check out of the grocery store. First, we knew we needed some euros to make to process of buying groceries and anything else easier. But the bank was closed and all 3 ATMs on the island were out of service. So we had to use the master card. Do you know that French islands are unfamiliar with our American credit cards? Apparently, the European cards have embedded chips, not magnetic strips. They are inserted into card readers, not swiped like our cards. In the grocery store and almost everywhere else, we had to show the cashiers how to swipe the card. The cashier and the head cashier at the grocery store could not figure this out and had to call the boss at home to confirm the process. The other customers were very patiently waiting in line. Of course the language barrier had a huge impact. It all was pretty comical.

Those of you who know Janet, know she dislikes seafood. Well, at the restaurant we were having a hard time communicating with the waiter to order our meal. After a lot of effort, Janet gave up and said, "I'll have what he is having" pointing at me. The waiter understood and brought Janet what I ordered, grilled fish and French fries. The news is that she loved the fish. She may be open to changing her opinion about fish which is good because I appear to be quite the fisherman.

We both agree that Les Saintes are beautiful and a must see place. There are some more photos of Les Saintes in the gallery. Peter, you will be interested in seeing the wind surfers flying kites. We are leaving today for Dominica where we intend to boat up the Indian River and hike to some spectacular waterfalls and spring fed pools.

The Leeward Islands
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