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Sailing Centime
Heidi Love & Dennis Jud
Whitman's Sampler
Heidi / Pleasant weather
04/04/2012, Martinique

Once a year, when I was young, we were given a very large box of assorted chocolates called the "Whitman's Sampler." The box was filled with a multitude of chocolate surprises: a peanut cluster, chocolate covered toffee, mints, almonds, caramels and other delicacies. You often didn't know what you were getting until you took a risk, chose your piece and tasted it. I still remember my first discovery of the large piece with the rounded top which when I bit into it revealed a delicious syrupy cherry. I never met Whitman yet I thought he must be very special to have so many delightful confections made for him.

In a very small way, discovering the Caribbean Islands by sailboat is a bit like the travel-seeker's Whitman's Sampler - the best assortment for adventure. There are so many different countries, people, histories, stories, landscapes, coves and harbors to discover. Each is different and perhaps better than the last in many ways. And, the only way to really get to know them is to take a risk and taste what each island and its people have to offer you.

The other day, for example, we took a risk and left the peaceful anchorage of St. Pierre on the Northwestern side of Martinique to venture south of her capital, Fort du France. There we found a pretty little cove named Anse Noire, meaning small black bay. The head of the cove revealed a large cluster of palm tress creating a strikingly beautiful background to the colorful red brown rocks. The cliff edges that formed the cove rose sharply from the sea and were covered with lush green vegetation. Small brown birds, kingfishers, flew along the cliffs and disappeared into black holes along the sides. And if that wasn't idyllic enough, bright yellow butterflies flitted lazily across the topsides of our boat making the whole experience seem like a wonderful dream.

Shortly after we arrived a small wooden fishing skiff came into the cove and made its way to the northwestern edge, about 100 feet in front of us. In Martinique the most common fishing vessel is a type of pirogue, a handmade wooden craft about 12 feet long, some are dug out of one large tree. In many of the islands in the southeastern Caribbean the boats are painted in bright colors. This pirogue had varying shades of blue on the outside and bright orange and white inside. The fishermen had carefully painted her name on the side, "Balard Creteil."

The two fishermen maneuvered their craft expertly back and forth along the cliff edge, as if searching for a spot where they might find the largest catch. Stopping not far from our boat they began preparing their net and rolling the large unruly object into a neat, small package. Then "splash" they threw the small package into the air off of the boat and it instantly unrolled to form a circular net spread out in front of them. We then heard a second splash as one of the fisherman dove into the water and began to swim around the outside of the net. The second man who had remained in the boat began to hit the water with a five-foot-long stick as if he were calling to the fish, enticing them to swim into his net.

The swimmer made his way around the net while his partner continued to hit the water for perhaps 15 minutes longer. Then the swimmer clambered back into the boat and the two men began to pull in the net. As they pulled, fish jumped into the center of the net. Soon they had gathered what appeared to be about a 100 small fish. They were clearly pleased with their efforts. What a treat to watch! It was just a few moments in time but it captured the spirit of the day.

Over the last seven months we've had the opportunity to sail down the coast of America from Maine to North Carolina, and through the Eastern Caribbean, to sample a multitude of communities and islands and meet people of many different nationalities and walks of life. It has been a most amazing adventure for which I am grateful. Being on the sea, being somewhat self-sufficient and very much out in the elements, makes me feel fully alive. Capturing thousands of moments like these, around every bend, makes me truly joyful.

Perhaps one of the hardest parts of this journey, other than dropping my son off for his first year of college which was intensely sad, was leaving our jobs, our homes and our friends, and taking the first step. In the United States we seem quite programmed to have jobs and raise families in conventional ways. And while we might appear quite content financially and materially on a world scale, we never seem to have quite enough compared ot our neighbors and peers, so we work harder just to keep up. While a more conventional life may work quite well for some, I wonder how many of us get caught up in what we "should" do, who we "should" be, or importantly how much we "should" make and "should" save for the future, as I did. I also wonder how many of us truly grab the opportunity to realize our true passions.

That evening as we sat in the cockpit, sipping inexpensive but wonderful French wine and savoring the local cheese on a baguette, we watched the glorious colors of the setting sun over the clear blue waters. I feel very grateful both for the experiences of our journey and also for simply taking the risk to begin. Looking out at the endless sky on that starry night, I make a wish that those I love, and anyone who might stumble upon this writing and read it, are listening to their hearts and taking risks to sample life at it's fullest. Relaxing on deck I smile knowing of a few who recently have.

04/04/2012 | Tim N Tina
A wonderful post. Thank you.

We are a couple of years away from leaving right now but we do live a boat already and are loving life.

Tim and Tina
S/V Alethiea
04/04/2012 | timley
love your story, and thank you, I so despiratley want this lifestyle, to just sail around to different ports, enjoying all the people and culture have to offer. Sill waiting on a sophmore to finish high school and head off to college before we can begin this dream. There are times I think I am being crazy and should stay here with the grown kids and grandchildren, then I read a post like yours and I say "HELL NO" I am going. lol gotta try it atleast for a year, then we will see what happens!
05/04/2012 | Mry Meuse
Eloquent, and worth every word. I have enjoyed following your journey. For those of unable to experience just beauty, I thank you for allowing us to share yours'!
Martinique
Heidi/ Hot & Sunny
03/26/2012, St. Pierre

Nous sommes arrivee Martinique!

03/29/2012 | Judy
Cool ... êtes-vous là-bas pour chercher un nouveau hors-bord? Vous n'aimez technologie ... il s'est il me semble que je sait comment parler français !
03/30/2012 | Bonita
oui! oui!
04/04/2012 | Jon Perruzzi
I've long since forgotten most of the french I learned in school...... Merci beaucoup (that's all I got) for the latest update with pictures.
Boiling Lake
Heidi/Beautiful
03/23/2012, Dominica

We left Portsmouth at 6:00am for Loudat for the start of one of our most amazing hikes ever. This hike is touted as the most beautiful and hardest in Dominica and I can certainly believe it. We met up with our guide Alain (Ali) and started the first of many climbs with our friends Danielle and Michel from Quebec.

The first part of the hike took us up through rainforest into the Morne Trois Pitons National Park. The views were amazing with light streaming through the rainforest giving it a mystical appearance. There were gigantic trees, especially the Bloodwater trees with their huge buttress roots. This part of the hike ascended over a crest and then down to Breakfast River. Next we had a steep climb up into a cloud forest to over 3,000 feet. The views were becoming even more spectacular as we could see sharp mountain peaks and lush jungle ridges. The trail was mostly a series of fairly steep steps that we had to scramble over as we continued.

The next phase of the hike took us down into a place called "The Valley of Desolation." Here we saw steam rising as dramatic backdrop to the lush valley and the start of river tributaries formed by hot bubbling springs. We stopped where two tributaries met, one was intensely hot the other was cold from a waterfall; the cool water allowed us to actually put our hand into the mixture which would be too hot otherwise. After about three hours into the hike the tributaries were more frequent and forming gorgeous pools with more and more steam.

We then continued our final ascent to reach Boiling Lake. This is the second largest boiling lake in the world, a 180 foot crater belching clouds of steam in the air. The whole crater is filled with cloudy water boiling and bubbling at a furious pace. It was just surreal - something out of National Geographic.

On the way back we swam in one of the hot pools (see photo) and stood under a hot waterfall. In many places the water is extremely hot however this pool had a mix of cool and hot water making it about 105 degrees. The temperature was perfect and the falls massaged our sore muscles. We couldn't stay long however as we still had several hours of hiking to get back to our car.

Before we reached the very end of our hike our guide showed us the Titou Gorge where some of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie was filmed. The walls of the gorge are very dark and dramatic, and 70 - 80 feet below were powerful falls and a small wild river. When were reached the end of the gorge we had a special treat. We were able to dive into a cool water pool and swim up into the gorge to the head of the falls. We swam through areas of the gorge that were only a few yards wide and 80 feet high with low magical light streaming though. What an amazing day!!!!

03/23/2012 | Bonita
Well, that cinches it...I definitely have to come back to Dominica for that incredible hike!!! That sounds so spectacular. I'm just so impressed with what that island has to offer...you guys are living the dream and I am so grateful for my time with you in paradise. Last night I was hanging out on Taylor's deck sharing some of my experiences of our week on Centime. I was profoundly struck by the love, openness and honestly of our sharing moments...thank you Heidi and Dennis and thank you "strong & beautiful" women for the generosity of your hearts. Hail up everyone!!
03/23/2012 | Bonita
Well, that cinches it...I definitely have to come back to Dominica for that incredible hike!!! That sounds so spectacular. I'm just so impressed with what that island has to offer...you guys are living the dream and I am so grateful for my time with you in paradise. Last night I was hanging out on Taylor's deck sharing some of my experiences of our week on Centime. I was profoundly struck by the love, openness and honestly of our sharing moments...thank you Heidi and Dennis and thank you "strong & beautiful" women for the generosity of your hearts. Hail up everyone!!
03/23/2012 | Heidi
Hail Up and Irie Bren
03/23/2012 | Judy
WOW! How incredible...I agree with Bonita - we've got to visit Dominica again!
03/23/2012 | joan sisto
Wow. What a wonderful adventure!!! It sounds like a magical place. Next year, we are coming to visit. The pictures are beautiful.
03/25/2012 | Michelle McGarry
Heidi what a wonderful time you seem to be having! You all look great. I hope you are having a great 2012 so far. We are. Glen's last MRI was no change so we are still running along well here, getting ready for Danielle's high school graduation and Erin's college graduation. :) life really is good! Take good care and keep posting your adventures. Much love to you all. Michelle
03/26/2012 | Jon Perruzzi
Sounds like it was rewarding hike.
03/26/2012 | Heidi Love
YES Joan, you must visit. Let's plan it for sure this summer!!
Please tell Dan we put out one of his lures and a fish bit it right off below the hook. Too bad, I was hoping for a Mahdi mahi last night.
03/26/2012 | Heidi Love
Michelle, great to hear from you, and especially that Glen is well. We are great. Big year for you with Erin & Danielle BOTH graduating. Big hug
Boiling Lake 2
03/22/2012

more pics (walk into the Boiling Lake - see Boiling Lake blog entry)

Boiling Lake 3
Heidi
03/21/2012, Dominica

We've reached the Lake.

04/03/2012 | Andrew Majewski
You guys look great. Adam asked about you both last Friday... as the weather was warm and he wanted to watch us drink out on your porch!
04/07/2012 | Heidi
Ahh we miss little Adam and his generosity with hugs. Please tell him hello and that we've been swimming with turtles. e hope he is learning to swim too. Will you be sailing this summer?
Dennis joins the Sisterhood
Heidi
03/20/2012

Dennis is inducted into the sisterhood. Check out that ankle!

03/23/2012 | joan sisto
Nice legs.... both of you.
03/26/2012 | Heidi Love
Haha - Dennis was definitely a good sport.

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