SailBlogs
Bookmark and Share
El Shaddai
Tayana Vancouver 42 Sailboat
St. Pierre Harbour
09/11/2007, St. Pierre, Martinique

This was such a beautiful, peaceful harbour it was difficult to leave. Cruising these islands is an amazing way to see them as we have the freedom to stay as long as we like. The major dictating factor is weather and harbours like this have no protection. However, when conditions are good they are terrific.

Taking the time to visit the interiors gives a whole different perspective. We get to meet the locals and see where and how they live. The hiking is terrific and safety has never been an issue.

Martinique
Hurricane Damage
09/11/2007, St. Pierre, Martinique

The house on the hillside is looking very vulnerable after the hurricane ripped out the trees and created a small landslide. Of the people who died as a result of Hurricane Dean, many were the result of mudslides.

Hurricanes and volcanoes... Canadians are so blessed they don't have these natural disasters to worry about (except for Mt. St. Helens that is).

The French islands are very French so we are at a disadvantage as we've been studying Spanish, not French. To some sailors visiting these islands is frustrating but we find that most islanders try to communicate with us though they have limited English abilities and they are very polite and kind.

Martinique
More Ruins
09/07/2007, St. Pierre, Martinique

This fascinating city is full of treasures from the past. It's amazing to see what survived the devasting eruption of 1902. The residents are confident Mt. Pelee is sleeping and there is no risk of Mt. Pelee erupting anytime soon. It is closely monitored by a volcano observatory so there would time for the residents to make haste away and get out of harms way.

We found St. Pierre to be a lovely, quiet, picturesque city with warm, friendly people. Even though we do not speak French there were enough people with just a little English that we were able to communicate. It's often the communities outside the capitals and major centers that are most inviting.


Martinique
Statue Survived
09/06/2007, St. Pierre, Martinique

Amazingly this statue of a nude woman from the theatre survived the 1902 volcanic eruption well intact. The St. Pierre Museum is dedicated to the Mt. Pelee eruption and has an amazing display of photos and remnants found in the rubble. There were a number of people on their way from Fort de France to an Ascension Day Mass that witnessed the eruption from a distance and were able to capture much of it in photos.

In the museum were two small similar statues of a young boy, probably sitting on opposite sides of a mantle, one that was untouched while the other severely scorched by the heat.

Martinique
Life-Saving Prison Cell
09/06/2007, St. Pierre, Martinique

This is the cell that Cyparis was imprisoned in and survived the 1902 Mt. Pelee volcanic eruption, although he did sustain burns. This is a powerful reminder of life's fragility and how we all need to be ready to enter the Promised Land without warning.

Martinique
Miracles - Mt. Pelee Eruption
09/06/2007, St. Pierre, Martinique

The sailing guide says that back in 1902 the giant fireball of superheated gas that flowed over the city released more energy than an atomic bomb, leaving only smoking ruins. A man named Cyparis, imprisoned for murder in a stone cell, is shown here. He ended up being one of the exhibitions in the Barnum & Bailey Circus. The other survivor was Leon Leandre, a cobbler who was in his cellar.

Martinique
Golden Years
09/05/2007, St. Pierre, Martinique

During the golden years in St. Pierre, Martinique was borne a theater, seating 800 people who enjoyed the gleam and glory of orchestras, vaudeville and plays in this distant community, by performers who traveled for 3 months across the ocean to reach St. Pierre. Somehow the echoes of its glory still ring from the ruins of this once magnificent building.

Martinique
Mt. Pelee Ruins
09/05/2007, St. Pierre, Martinique

Ruins from the 1902 Mt. Pelee eruption are evident and widely spread throughout the town and have been dug out of the volcanic ash and recovered, leaving the remnants of buildings that were built onto, renewing the life of the city. Some buildings remain as burned out shells reminding us all of the power of God's nature followed by God's blessings, as the volcanic ash turned burned hillsides into highly productive food crops through the fertilization of the ash. The intensity of the heat from the pyroclastic flow instantaneously melted and devoured everything in its path. A dozen ships in the harbour were consumed at the same time and have never been recovered. At least one ship successfully limped away.

Martinique
El Shaddai
09/05/2007, St. Pierre, Martinique

We are sitting in this beautiful harbour with picturesque views from every angle. What an added blessing getting a second chance to visit Martinique. The water is deep so we are anchored close to shore. At night the two towers on the Catholic church are lit up as well as a statue at the south end of town atop a hill. Mt. Pelee is to the north with fields of sugarcane in the foreground. The Catholic church rings out chimes frequently during the day, calling people to Mass. There are only two main, one-way streets in town so it is easy to get around.

Martinique
Mt. Pelee
09/05/2007, St. Pierre, Martinique

Martinique is a French island immediately south of Dominica. When we say French we mean French as very few people speak English, including many customs officers.

St. Pierre, Martinique, is a picturesque town on the north end of Martinique. It has a sad history as on May 8, 1902 Mt. Pelee erupted with the pyroclastic flow killing 30,000 people in the town shortly after 8 a.m. About 1,000 people had left before the eruption as there had been warnings and even a few deaths back in February. Of those that stayed there were only two survivors, one being a man accused of murder that was contained in a thick cell. The town is full of ruins from the eruption and there is a bit of an eerie feeling as you walk the streets and imagine the horrendous destruction that occurred just over 100 years ago.

Martinique
Pier Overhaul
09/05/2007, Roseau, Dominica

We arrived in Roseau, Dominica around 8 a.m., after traveling through the night from St. Lucia. We intended to pull up to the dock, pick up the generator, take on fuel and water (the water in Dominica is excellent as are the fuel prices), and sail away. The dock was torn apart so we had to launch the dinghy and paddle in. The generator was not at the store but still in customs. We sat on the boat under our quarantine flag and at 2:30 p.m. went back to the store to see if the generator had arrived. Customs advised they were almost finished with the paperwork. We rode with Alex from the Dominica Marine Store to the customs dock. It was now just before 4 p.m.. When we got to the dock we were advised the dock was closing and to come back tomorrow. We were not happy and began pleading our case. To their credit they agreed to release the generator as well as open the office to get us a clearance for Martinique, without charging us overtime. We returned to the boat, Bill manhandled the 100 lb. generator from the vehicle to the dinghy while I settled up with the marine store. Once onboard, we unpacked the generator and it worked perfectly. We prepared a quick dinner and went to bed, setting the alarm for 3 a.m. By 3:30 we were heading off to Martinique. It had been quite an adventure.

Dominica
Cruise Ship Day
09/05/2007, Roseau, Dominica

We had ordered a new generator while in Dominica but left suddenly when Dean was headed our way. We ended up hunkering down in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia and the storm passed right between St. Lucia and Martinique. We tried in vain to find ways of getting the generator delivered to St. Lucia and decided to head back and get it ourselves. We did an overnight passage, arriving around 8 a.m. in Dominica, expecting to pick up the generator from the dock and sail away. It didn't quite materialize the way we'd hoped.

We arrived on Cruise Ship day, which is only once a week during the summer.

Dominica
Rodney Bay View
08/27/2007, St. Lucia

Smile for the day... Today we were heading to the dock to check out and to see the sailmaker. Bill was waiting for me in the dinghy so I hopped in, untied us, and off we went. We got a short distance away when the dinghy motor quit. Bill had forgotten to put the fuel line and paddles in the dinghy (a first). So using ingenuity, we tore apart an empty cardboard box (prevously containing Famous Amos cookies) headed for the garbage. Using pieces of cardboard and our hands and arms for propulsion we paddled back to the boat. What a way to start the day.

St. Lucia
Burned out Square Rigger
08/26/2007, Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

This hull burst into flame and was towed from the dock so it could burn without endangering other boats. This is what remains, waiting for the sea to claim the rest.

We are waiting to find out more on our generator, that we had delivered to Dominica before the storm. We may have to make a trip back to pick it up. We are also waiting to get our sails resewn to give them a little more life. I've spent hours hand sewing them because our machine won't handle the thickness. Now we're having the seams professionally reinforced.

St. Lucia
Marigot Bay Airport
08/25/2007, Dominica

This is what constant wind off the Atlantic does to trees as they are all slanted in the direction of the trades, which blow 24/7 off the Atlantic.

We finally arrived at Marigot Bay. On Saturdays many businesses close at noon and bus service diminished significantly. We decided we'd better catch a bus back to Roseau right away. So there we stood, beside the airport, waiting and waiting and waiting. None of the buses that went by were going to Roseau. Finally one bus stopped and said we'd have more success if we went to Portsmouth and caught a bus back to Roseau from there. That meant traveling through the northern end of the island to the west coast. After some deliberation, we caught a bus heading to Portsmouth.

We were so pleased we'd made that decision as the views were spectacular and the interior lush and beautiful. We would never had taken that route if we hadn't been stuck at the airport in Marigot, it seemed like forever.

Once we got to Portsmouth we hopped on a bus immediately that was heading to Roseau.

Along the way we came upon an accident where an SUV with two women and two children had gone off the road, lodging their vehicle under a parked transport trailer. One woman appeared to have a broken shoulder, one with a gash on her arm, two children had undetermined injuries, but they looked serious as they were semi-conscious. The vehicle was a total loss. Our bus driver stopped and offered immediate help and stayed controlling traffic around the accident scene until the children and women had been evacuated to a nearby hospital. Apparently a car had side-swiped them, careening them off the narrow road.

We finally arrived in Roseau after a long, long day of adventure.

Dominica
Emerald Pond
08/25/2007, Dominica

It was a cloudy day when we visited the Emerald Pond and the photos did not turn out. The hike through the jungle was lush and spectacular. After we left Emerald Pond we planned to catch a bus to Castle Bruce. We waited and waited for a bus, but only one full bus went by. Eventually we started a long hike, believing Castle Bruce was about 8 miles away. We had showers along the way and took refuge under large trees. We seemed to walk forever and at about the halfway point a car with two men and two children stopped and offered us a ride. We thankfully accepted. The driver said if we wanted to help cover the fuel cost that would be appreciated. We were more than willing to help for the comfort of riding the rest of the way.

At Castle Bruce we waited for another bus that would take us through Carib Territory and eventually to Marigot Bay. We thought we might stop in Carib Territory but there wasn't much to see. A number of homes were built on stilts and had full exposure to the Atlantic Ocean. The views were very dramatic along the eastern coastline.

Dominica
Turnoff to Castle Bruce
08/24/2007, Dominica

This sign was on the highway where there is a fork in the road with four branches, one of them leading to Emerald Pond. It is evidence of where Dominica's priorities are. I think this is why we enjoy our time in these islands so much. The people are, for the most part, living examples of their faith.

Dominica
Saturday Morning Market
08/24/2007, Roseau, Dominica

This market was very inviting with its fresh fruit and vegetables. We were going exploring today and didn't have time to stop.

We caught a bus near the market. Their destinations were not posted so we initially said we wanted a bus to Castle Bruce (Lonely Planet's recommendation). Then we said we were going to Emerald Pond. The driver assured us he went to the turnoff for Emerald Pond, so on we got.

The buses are actually minivans and are designed so there is a drop down seat along the isle, ensuring every square inch is occupied. When someone in the back needs to get off, everyone in the isle seats have to get off and let them off.

On this trip, a man in the back row needed a 1-gallon jug filled with gasoline for work so he asked the driver to stop at a service station, which he did. The station was out of gasoline so the man asked if the driver could backtrack to a station we had passed. The driver turned around and headed back. This station had gasoline. The driver then got out, took the jug through the back window, got it filled and returned with the jug and the man's change. Bill announced to a couple of people sitting nearby, "that would never happen in Canada". This is just the way it is in these islands, full service (with a smile).

We left the city and went some distance along the windy, mountainous roads. We eventually came to a fork in the road and the driver said it was our stop. Yes, he did go to the turnoff to Emerald Pond but the Castle Bruce bus would have gone right by the entrance. We set off for a long hike but after about 20 minutes a minivan stopped and gave us a ride. It was an employee from Emerald Pond who figured that was our destination. He accepted an average local bus fare and took us right to the entrance. It would have taken us at least another 25 minutes to hike in.

Dominica
Boat Ramp
08/23/2007, Scots Head, Dominica

This is an ingenious way to keep your boat on shore and not worry about the waves taking it away.

We've had some challenges with our dinghy getting trapped under docks. On one occasioin we returned to find our dinghy tied up on the opposite side of the dock. We have it chained and locked when we leave it, but the lock had been cut with bolt cutters. Apparently it had gotten trapped under the dock and whoever noticed it had to cut the lock to free it. We parked at a different dock the next time we went exploring and came back to find our Yamaha motor gear shifter broken off and evidence that, once again, it had been trapped under the dock. It was tied up differently than we left it, so once again someone had rescued it for us.

We appreciate all the efforts taken on our behalf and only wish we knew who to thank. These were acts of kindness that we greatly appreciated.

What we discovered is traditionally you leave the dinghy with extra chain so other dinghies can share the space. However, if there isn't a lot of dinghy traffic, it helps to tie two lines (front and back) to prevent the dinghy from traveling.

Dominica
Scotts Head Housing
08/23/2007, Dominica

We'd be pretty claustraphobic living in this community. The houses are so crowded that it is difficult to see where one ends and another begins. Fishing seems to be the only industry.

While we were wandering through the town a man called us over to give us a "gift" (an avacado). The ploy was for us to give him a gift in return. Bill only had large bills so he offered him all the change in his wallet. When Bill showed him his dilemma the man took one of the bills and said he'd be right back. Sure enough, he went and got change from somewhere so Bill could give him a decent gift.

Dominica
Picture Poses
08/23/2007, Scots Head, Dominica

These boys begged me to take their photo and then acted up for it. Then they called out for their money. Despite the fact that this is not a tourist destination, the children are learning the tricks to grab the tourists' money. This was the only time this happened on Dominica so it isn't a problem. Maybe they are related to the avacado man who offer an avacado as a gift and then asked for a gift in return.

Dominica
Volcanic Cone
08/23/2007, Scotts Head, Dominica

The town of Scotts Head is located on the edge of a volcanic cone. The roundness of it is the interior of the volcanic cone while the hills are the upper lip of the cone.

This is the view of the Caribbean and Atlantic together. There is a spit of land that juts out where a fort was strategically located.


Dominica
Fishing Village
08/23/2007, Scots Head, Dominica

The Caribbean and the Atlantic are both visible from this town at the south end of Dominica. It is interesting to view them together. Most developments are on the calmer, leeward side of the islands, where they are protected from the wind and waves.

Fishing is the main industry here as it is not a tourist destination.

Dominica
Blessed Bus Stop
08/23/2007, Dominica

We were told to wait for a bus back to Roseau here so we bought a cold drink and visited with the locals. The shop owner asked where we were from and very sincerely said it was a real pleasure to have us visiting their country. She was a little surprised when I photographed her sign but we told her we were amazed at how open the islanders were in expressing their faith. She said you have to be bold and she was making her statement loud and clear.

Dominica
Hot Air
08/23/2007, Sulfur Spring, Dominica

From Trafalgar Falls we hiked about 2 kms. to the sulphur hotsprings. We were escorted into the main pool by a local gentleman with many interesting stories to tell about life in Dominica. He told us a story about a hurricane that hit the island 20 years previous. He said 95% of the homes in his area were destroyed. He rescued his wife and child from under walls that had fallen on them. There were serious injuries, and some loss of life, but his family survived. He told us that every tree was stipped bare exposing a barren mountainside. Apparently the hurricane gets trapped in the mountains and stips everything in its path.

Dominica
Crab Legs Anyone?
08/23/2007, Trafalgar Falls, Dominica

There are many interesting creatures living in the jungle where you least expect to see them. This crab thought he was well hidden but stopped long enough to have his photo taken. We haven't been too successful in snagging any fish but just bought the perfect lure for tuna (according to the experts). We'll be sure to report on our first catch.

Dominica
Hiking for the Fit
08/23/2007, Trafalgar Falls, Dominica

We keep recognizing why we have this lifestyle at this stage in life. We are not spring chickens any longer. It is a very physical lifestyle. Some of the treks we undertake and mountains we hike are for the fit and limber. Some days we feel like neither but we get out and do it anyway.


Dominica
Very Warm Water
08/23/2007, Trafalgar Falls, Dominica

Bev checked the temperature of the stream near the falls and it is hot. There are volcanic vents with surfuric pools in the area, heating the water. Not a place for a refreshing dip.

Dominica
Trafalgar Falls
08/23/2007, Dominica

We caught a bus to Trafalgar Falls and for a few extra $ the driver took us right to the entrance. The drivers allow themselves to be flexible to accommodate their passengers' needs. The ride through the country was beautiful and very steep.

The local bus drivers are very skilled as the roads are narrow, windy and steep and they often have to honk their horn to alert drivers coming the other way. They get to know the passengers on their route and it is not uncommon for the driver to ask "are you going home?" when a passenger gets close to their usual stop. Usually the passengers just call out "Bus driver, stop" and he stops at the most appropriate place. The drivers are very perceptive and conscientious.

We hiked to the falls (a short 15-minute hike) through the lush jungle to see the falls cascading from the mountain into rushing streams below. It was beautiful and a popular destination for cruise ship passengers. Fortunately there were none there that day.

Dominica
Cruise Ship Day
08/23/2007, Roseau, Dominica

The streets come alive when the cruise ship comes to town with street vendors popping out of the woodwork. We walked these same streets the day before and it was like a ghost town.

We do everything by public bus so we were getting information on where to go and how to get there. We love traveling with the locals and it is very economical.

The buses are privately-owned minivans and they line up and take turns collecting passengers. When the locals get on the bus they greet everyone already seated with a "Good morning". Even children and teenagers greet people as they get on. We are constantly greeted on the street as well so have to be sensitive that we aren't daydreaming as we don't want to offend anyone. This happened one day in Scotts Head and I responded to a local's greeting but Bill wasn't paying attention and didn't respond. The man actually came over and said to Bill, "Your wife said hello but you didn't. Why is that?" Bill was a little embarrassed because it certainly wasn't deliberate. He doesn't always hear things and missed this gentleman's greeting. When Bill told the man of his hearing deficiency, the man accepted his explanation, shook hands and left. We appreciated the gentleman for making a point because we appreciate these islander so much and certainly do not want to offend anyone.

Dominica
Hurricane Safe
08/19/2007, St. Lucia

Hurricane Dean passed between St. Lucia and Martinique. Our prayers were answered. We spent the night in a hotel but by noon the next day we returned to the boat to find everything as we left it. There were a couple of boats that had minor damage, one of which was caused by a piling that pulled over by the weight. That damage occurred on a $3 million 1930's classic racing boat but repairs have been minimal.

We are now praying for Jamaica which is in the direct path, with winds projected at highs of 200 mph. That will devastate the beautiful country we have come to love.

The boat in the photo was one used primarily during the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean. Apparently most of the filming occurred on St. Lucia and there are still various props around the island.

St. Lucia
Tropical Storm Dean
08/15/2007, St. Lucia

We are preparing for the onset of Tropical Storm Dean. We left Dominica two days ago when we saw the track of the storm heading that way. We passed Martinique and decided to stop in St. Lucia to get an updated weather report. We arrived at 2 a.m., anchored in the outside harbour overnight and came into Rodney Bay Marina the following morning. We have now moved into the dock, have removed our sails and are tying everything down in preparation for the worst but praying for the best. Meridian Chaser (Canadians we met in St. Maarten), are next to us and we are both busy with hurricane preparations. Our boat has survived many hurricanes in the past and we're confident it will survive this one too. It's the humans on board who haven't experienced a hurricane before.

St. Lucia
Another Sunset
08/08/2007, Roseau, Dominica

I guess by now you've figured out I love sunsets. There are no obstructions from our position in Roseau, Dominica, so every night we're treated to an amazing sunset. The camera goes crazy trying to capture the beauty.

We're spending at least another week in Dominica as our generator failed and we had to order a new one. It is coming from Puerto Rico and deliveries by freighter are once a week. We can't think of a more beautiful island to wait on.

Dominica
Jonah & the Whale
08/08/2007, Roseau, Dominica

When the sky turned black from 3 directions, it felt like we were being swallowed by a whale (or big fish). We couldn't help but think how Jonah from the Bible must have felt. We battoned down the hatches and readied ourselves for a big dump of rain, but the clouds dumped their load elsewhere. Within half an hour the sky lightened up and we were once again in awe of our unique surroundings.

Dominica
Revelstoke Connection
08/08/2007, Roseau, Dominica

One of our favorite places to hike in B.C. was in Illecilliwaet, near Revelstoke. It is incredibly beautiful there and we have very fond memories of our experiences. Somehow Dominica is bringing back some of those feelings with its lofty mountain peaks, clouds drifting across the peaks and brilliant blue sky in the background. The interior of Dominica is a hiker's paradise with cascading waterfalls and emerald pools.

Dominica
Caribbean Blue
08/07/2007, Roseau, Dominica

Enya sings of the Caribbean blue and we are enjoying it almost daily. It is a magnificent color of blue and contrasts with the sky and surrounding tropical vistas. I tried to capture it in this photo. The song has a mystical tone to it and suits the Caribbean blue perfectly.

She also sings a song called Orinoco Flow and we use it as a theme song. When we remember we turn it on just as we're sailing away as the lyrics include "sail away, sail away, sail away". We're intending to travel on the Orinoco River when we leave Trinidad.

It is easy to see why songwriters are inspired in these amazing settings. We are still in awe each day of our magnificent surroundings.

Dominica
Magnificent Sunsets
08/07/2007, Roseau, Dominica

The sunsets from our moorage in Roseau are magnificent. We keep waiting for the Green Flash but so far we haven't seen it. Apparently there is a fluorescent green flash in the sky just as the sun passes over the horizon. The skies have to be perfectly clear.

When we arrived in Roseau we followed the guide to a location where mooring balls are available. Pancho, one of the boat helpers, agreed to our hooking up to one of his mooring balls. One night after we had gone to bed we heard huge gusts of wind. Later we heard a thud on our hull and presumed it was the dinghy. However, this thud didn't have a familiar ring so at 1 a.m. Bill went to check it out. He was on the deck for several minutes and then called me to come check it out. He couldn't figure out where we were because the landmarks seemed to have changed. The night is black and the lights on the buildings at night take on a different appearance. We discovered we had drifted 1 nautical mile from shore dragging the mooring ball. We fired up the engine, pushed up the rpms and tried to power back to shore, dragging the mooring ball. No go. We didn't have enough power for the task. Eventually we freed ourselves from the mooring ball and it dropped into 1,000 ft. of water.

Now we have the challenge of getting back to shore and finding another mooring ball to hook onto. Bill stood on the bow and we headed toward the cruise ship dock where we had seen several unoccupied mooring balls. As we got closer Bill suddenly yelled at me to turn as we were heading toward a concrete mooring station used by the cruise ships when they are in dock. It was so dark and visibility was so poor, I didn't see it. We finally eased up to one of the balls and hooked on for the night. We didn't sleep too soundly after that. In the morning we realized we couldn't get internet from that location so headed back to Pancho's mooring area. We were concerned about Pancho's reaction when he discovered one of his mooring balls had disappeared. He was more concerned about our safety and our reaction to the incident than losing the ball. We were fine and everything turned out great. Pancho is a good guy.

Dominica
Fishermen
08/07/2007, Roseau, Dominica

We passed these fishermen sorting their catch as we were sailing from Portsmouth to Roseau. We have not seen many fishermen in these waters and fresh fish are hard to find. You need a license to fish in Dominica so you would think fish would be in abundance. We expected we'd be eating fresh fish several times a week but this hasn't been the case.

Dominica
Commander's House
08/07/2007, Fort Shirley, Portsmouth, Dominica

This unrestored former Commander's House was set quite some distance from the rest of the fort and looked like it had been a splendid residence in its day. According to the information on billboards at the fort, officers had separate quarters and their wives could live their with them. They were served high quality food on fine china. I can just imagine the treatment the Commander received. There was a separate residence nearby that we figured probably belonged to the people who served the Commander and his family. Seems like they lived a pampered life at the fort.

Dominica
Sand Box Tree
08/07/2007, Fort Shirley, Dominica

This tree, covered with razor-sharp spikes, is called Sand Box. There wouldn't be any children (or even cats) using this forbidding sand box. We have never seen a tree like this in our travels and there were a number on the site of the fort.

Dominica
Fort Shirley
08/07/2007, Portsmouth, Dominica

The interior has been renovated and could be used for conferences or weddings. At present there is a small museum inside.

Dominica
Fort Shirley
08/07/2007, Portsmouth, Dominica

This old British fort, dating from the 18th century, is located in the Cabrits National Park and has been partially restored.

Dominica
Blessings Coming and Going
08/07/2007, Portsmouth, Dominica

Faith in action... It is not uncommon for people to profess their faith on their vehicles or businesses. There are obviously no laws restricting them because, even in the Customs office, praise music was boldly playing in the background. People in the lineup were humming and getting into the music. It is so refreshing for us to experience and we wish Canadians had the same boldness as these islanders.

Dominica
Souvenir from Indian River
08/07/2007, Portsmouth, Dominica

As we explored and hiked around the rest spot our guide busied himself fashioning a bird from a palm front from the Royal Palm. When he finished he presented it to me as a gift. He chuckled when I told him we would keep the bird flying in the boat and he would see lots of action. It was a delightful souvenir from a delightful trip on the Indian River.

Dominica
Rest Spot on Indian River
08/07/2007, Portsmouth, Dominica

As usual these trips try to capitalize on tourist revenue from a captive clientele. This rest stop found a man working on handcarvings (from coconuts) while another man arrived shortly after us to set up a bar with refreshments and snacks. Unfortunately we weren't interested in either but there were more boats on their way with a school group from St. Vincent, so no doubt business picked up.

Dominica
Indian River Views
08/07/2007, Portsmouth, Dominica

This river trip is quite spectacular. We have been in the jungle a lot but not on a river trip. The knarled trees and vines winding their way up other trees, as if smothering them, was most interesting.

A portion of Pirates of the Caribbean, Part 2, was filmed here. We understand it was the part where a witch is visited. It surely felt like a witch's den as we passed through.

Dominica
Indian River Guide
08/07/2007, Portsmouth, Dominica

Probably the most popular tour in Portsmouth is the Indian River trip. Numerous guides are trained and licensed to take passengers in their boats (no motors allowed) on this 2-hour trip into the jungle. The cost is $15 US per person with a $2 EC site fee (paid to the government). Each boat holds about 9 passengers but we were the only passengers on this trip.

Chris Doyle names the guides and their boats in his Cruising Guide so we went with one he recommended called Seabird. Our guide was very knowledgeable and friendly. The winds were strong when we started out but subsided once we were in the thick of the jungle.

Dominica
Shipwreck
08/07/2007, Portsmouth, Dominica

Chris Doyle, in his "Cruising Guide for the Leeward Islands", says there are so many wrecks on the beach in Portsmouth it looks like they were trying to check into the country without leaving their boat. There are about 6 unsightly wrecks along the beach, signs of violent storms from the past.

Dominica
El Shaddai
08/07/2007, Portsmouth, Dominica

We named our boat El Shaddai, which is one of God's names meaning Almighty, all powerful, all sufficient.

These islands are bold in proclaiming their faith so it is no surprise to find El Shaddai on fishing boats, taxis, (even a hotdog stand in the Bahamas), and, in this instance, written on the sidewalk in front of a business that is no longer operating.

Dominica
Green Turtle Beach
08/07/2007, Portsmouth, Dominica

Dominica is singled out as the most beautiful island and we can't help but agree. However, its beauty is not in its variety of beaches as we were told that this is the largest and most populated beach on the island. On Emancipation Day (August 4 this year) people from around the island flock here with their families. Most of the island is steep to so the beauty is in the cascading waterfalls and interior lakes which is a hiker's dream.

We were moored next to this beach, that was always alive with swimmers and beach games, during our stay in Portsmouth.

Dominica
Sea View?
08/07/2007, Portsmouth, Dominica

We stopped for a cold drink at this seaside restaurant called "Sea View". This wreck landed here about 10 years ago and certainly changed the sea view of "Sea View". How disappointing it must be for the owners as there has been no attempt to remove this, and several other wrecks from the beach.

Dominica
At Sea
08/07/2007, Heading for Dominica

It is difficult to capture wild weather at sea because we are too busy hanging on and protecting the camera from sea water. When it gets rough we wear our lifejackets and harness ourselves in the cockpit. We aren't too keen on a rescue at sea, especially with a canoe hull. We might be able to get back to the boat, but getting back on would be another challenge.

Our Tayana Vancouver is a very strong and solidly built boat and we have not regretted choosing an offshore boat for travel. It gives us confidence that she will take care of us in all types of weather. Regardless, we still choose our weather windows for travel carefully.

Dominica
Another Great View
08/05/2007, The Saintes

There are apparently several varieties of whales in these waters but they travel mostly in the winter months and on the windward side of the island. We cross passages between each island where we are exposed to the Atlantic so may have a chance to spot them there. The rest of our passage is on the leeward side, where the islands are mostly developed.

We know we are at greater risk traveling these islands in the summer during hurricane season and we are keenly aware of watching weather for any signs of needing to take shelter. There has been a continuous onslaught of tropical waves that create high winds and waves and we time our passages to avoid them. However, we still experience the weather in the anchorage and try to be attached to a mooring ball for greater security. The advantages to traveling these islands in the offseason so far has outweighed the concerns. As we get to the Windward islands there are more hurricane holes to hide out in. We're checking them out in Chris Doyle's "Cruising Guide to the Windward Islands". His guides are excellent and we use them constantly.

We listen to Chris Parker, the weatherman, every morning at 7 a.m. on our SSB. He gives the Caribbean weather daily and specific advice to sponsoring vessels. He is very accurate in his reporting and an excellent resource.

Guadeloupe
Waterspout
08/05/2007, The Saintes

As we hiked down from Fort Napolean we spotted a waterspout traveling over the ocean and churning it up as it drew water from it. We watched for several minutes hoping there were no boats in its path. Pretty amazing sights we see so we try to keep our camera ready to capture them.

I would love to capture a photo of flying fish. They really do have wings and skirt over the water like a skipping rock. Sometimes there are whole schools of them flying at once. Unfortunately we have no warning so a photo would be rather difficult. We have found a few flying fish that landed on our boat, unfortunately meeting their demise. They really got some air to land that high out of the water. Apparently flying fish are good eating.


Guadeloupe
Draw Bridge Over Moat
08/05/2007, Fort Napoleon

We explore a lot of forts and this was the first time we'd seen a draw bridge over a moat. It is unlikely the moat carried water but it would be another obstacle from reaching the fort. This fort actually had two draw bridges.

Many of these forts were built by slaves from plantations. The islands have very colorful and violent histories with Britain, France and Spain attempting to capture them. Often they changed hands a few times before succumbing to control.


Guadeloupe
Non-Stinging Bee
08/05/2007, Fort Napoleon

Wanted to try and capture this non-stinging giant bee on this lovely yellow flower. We had one of these in our boat recently and it's huge. Fortunately it found its way out. Another awesome thing about Guadeloupe and the Saintes is the absence of sand flies.

Guadeloupe
See the Sea
08/05/2007, The Saintes

We get the 360 degree view, the sounds and smells and sea breezes on our face. This really is an amazing life and we feel so blessed to be able to live it.

Guadeloupe
Fort Napoleon
08/05/2007, Bourg des Saintes

Fort Napoleon was built in 1867, is well restored and has commanding and picturesque views of the harbour. There is a garden of cactuses and succulents labeled so you can identify them. It is supposed to be a common place to see iguanas but they must have been sleeping when we were there. There was a tour going through the fort with a guide but it was all in French. Our friends from Preferred Stock picked the same time to visit the fort as we did.


Guadeloupe
View of the Harbour and Town
08/05/2007, Bourg des Saintes

This view is from the road leading to Fort Napoleon. It is about a 40-minute hike but on a paved road. The fort is only open mornings and is a popular tourist destination.

Guadeloupe
Toy Town
08/05/2007, Bourg des Saintes

Bill called this Toy Town because it felt like it was out of a fairytale with its gingerbread houses.

Ferries arrive throughout the day from the mainland of Guadeloupe, bringing daytrippers and tourists wanting to experience this unique island. The shops and restaurants cater to the tourists and everything is very expensive. Scooters are lined up waiting for the onslaught and they are a popular way to explore the island. Some of the streets are pedestrian only which makes for enjoyable strolls.

We met a wonderful family who own a high-end clothing store on the main street who invited us to experience Shabbat. It gave us incredible insight into the age-old Jewish ceremony and custom. A fabulous meal was served with delectable flavours. We returned the following night for the closing ceremony. In response we invited this family back to our boat for a Kosher dinner. Finding ingredients in this little town was a challenge, but we pulled it off. We grilled tuna steaks on the barbecue which turned out perfectly. We made some special new friends.

Guadeloupe
Lovely Views
08/05/2007, Iles des Saintes

The uniqueness of each island, its geography, people, affluence, even its currency, is interesting. Some drive on the right, others on the left. I didn't even know there was such a thing as Eastern Caribbean currency but many islands operate on it. The exchange is $2.67 for every $1 U.S.

Every stop is a new challenge to find Customs, grocery stores, laundry, local buses, so this is really a life of exploration. Agility is a necessity so it helps to be fit. The accessibility of water, fuel and propane is critical so when we find a harbour that has everything we top up. Our large propane tank lasts about 3 months but we have a small spare tank when we run out.

Guadeloupe
The Saintes Anchorage
08/05/2007, Terre d'en Haut, Guadeloupe

We found the water around 30 feet very deep, even close to shore, so we tucked in as close as possible. There were a few mooring balls around but we didn't think they were for outsiders, so we dropped an anchor. This was the most picturesque area to be anchored in and we could watch families on the beach. Day-trippers on power boats came and went, attaching themselves to the mooring balls.

On our second day a sailboat, Preferred Stock, that had been anchored next to us in Saint Maarten arrived. We had spoken to them in Saint Maarten on a few occasions but left shortly thereafter. We recognized each other and suddenly felt connected. They chose to anchor further away where it was a little shallower, but less scenic.

We made a point of visiting each other and even had dinner together one night. We sat for hours sharing traveling tales and developed a friendship. They had been traveling with a Canadian boat, Meridian Chaser, who didn't arrive for another few days just before we left for Dominica.

It does get lonely out here and cruisers tend to befriend each other readily. It makes for interesting travel because everyone's experiences are unique with many similarities. Cruisers are also very helpful when needed as we realize how vulnerable we all are and reliant on each other.

Guadeloupe
Approaching Les Saintes
08/05/2007, Les Saintes, Guadeloupe

We were anxious to visit the Saintes, a beautiful group of islands with idyllic Gallic charm. There is only one small town, Bourg des Saintes, on the largest island, Terre D'en Haut. It all belongs to Guadeloupe. The town is very clean and picturesque. There are other, more secluded anchorages, on the other anchorages but depending on what direction the wind is blowing, makes some more attractive than others.

We were finally able to check into the country here, after almost a week of being in Guadeloupe. The French don't get excited about that and boaters are free to explore the islands without being officially checked in. Other countries are very strict and only allow the captain ashore until they are checked in. We left our paperwork in the Customs office, they faxed it to the mainland, and within 40 minutes we returned and everything was complete. There was no charge for checking in.


Guadeloupe
Basse Terre
08/02/2007, Guadeloupe

Basse Terre is the capital of Guadeloupe and located near the south end of the west coast. We anchored just south of town beside a popular black sand beach at Riviere Sens. It was a good ride to town by dinghy but it appeared to be the only anchorage and the view was great. This parking lot to this beach was half full by 7 a.m. one day and the locals have a terrific time swimming and playing. We could hear their laughter from our boat. What great sounds to wake up to.

There were more clothing stores in this town than I have seen anywhere so I went shopping for a new dress. I've discovered dresses are far more practical and cool for cruising (and feminine) so I'm building an inventory.

Guadeloupe
Deshaies
08/02/2007, Guadeloupe

This picturesque fishing village had a quaint charm to it and many of the businesses seem to be there solely to cater to the cruisers. With it being offseason most of them were closed. However, we did manage to find baguettes (an acquired way to eat bread as they have hard crusts and go stale overnight) and a grocery store for some basic staples. Fresh fish for boaters to purchase is a rare commodity but a common item on restaurant menus. We haven't had much success catching our own but haven't tried that often either.

Guadeloupe
Sights in the Botanical Gardens
08/02/2007, Deshaies, Guadeloupe

There were things of interest for young and old at the Botanical Gardens. At the end of our tour we thought we'd have a snack at the snack bar. I noticed they served crepes so placed my order. What I didn't realize was it was noon and crepes were not available until 3 p.m. This took some explaining by the staff as at first I thought it took 30 minutes to prepare and I was being warned. Challenges with the French language...

Guadeloupe
Botanical Gardens
08/02/2007, Deshaies, Guadeloupe

The French islands are subsidized by France and it is very obvious. We were in Guadeloupe for a week before we checked into the country. The offices were always closed. In Deshaies the shops closed for a siesta around noon so if we didn't get to town for our supplies (groceries mainly) before noon we were out of luck.

Offseason no doubt had an impact as well because most of the restaurants were closed. We don't spend much time in restaurants so it wasn't an issue for us. The pros of traveling these islands in the offseason far outweigh the cons.

Guadeloupe
Beautiful Folage
08/02/2007, Deshaies, Guadeloupe

It's difficult to share the beauty we see because it's part of the whole experience. Anchorages and harbours capture little of what the islands have to offer. When we talk to cruisers who don't get off their boats much to explore, they are missing a lot.

Our guidebooks are invaluable. We use Chris Doyle's Cruising Guide to the Leeward Islands and Lonely Planet's book on the Eastern Caribbean. Many of the locals have met Chris Doyle and have developed a friendship with him. He doesn't flower the facts and when he sees something that is poor he'll put it in the guide.

Guadeloupe
Polly Want a Cracker
08/02/2007, Deshaies, Guadeloupe

No this parrot was not in the wild but free to fly in the Botanical garden, along with numerous others. They all have their own colorful homes. We tried to chat with them, expecting the odd French word, but heard nothing. Maybe "bonjour" isn't as easy as "hello" for parrots.

We heard no other tourists speaking English at the gardens. Bill noticed there are two flights a day between Guadeloupe to Paris. This is obviously a popular destination for the French.

Guadeloupe
Koy
08/02/2007, Deshaies, Guadeloupe

We had a comfortable sail to Guadeloupe, were heeled over pretty good but managed to stay on one tack. Guadeloupe is shaped like a butterfly. The mountaineous, rugged half is called Basse-Terre (meaning lowland) and the low one is called Grande Terre (meaning large land). Strange.

Deshaies is a picturesque little fishing village and the first anchorage from Montserrat. We find that often our most pleasurable experiences have been in the more secluded areas rather than the main cities. Deshaies was no exception.

We went on a strenuous hike up a long, steep hill from town in search of the Botanical Gardens, claimed to be sensational. It did not disappoint us. Despite it being summer, there was so much variety in the gardens, it had much to offer. Based on the number of tourists who had come with their families, it was obviously a popular spot.

These koy have just been fed and there is a bit of a frenzy among them.

Guadeloupe
Plymouth Disappeared
07/31/2007, Montserrat

A church steeple rising out of the volcanic ash is the only evidence it ever existed. The town was completely buried and half the islands' population relocated elsewhere. Many, many homes that look intact had to be evacuated and the residents cannot return.

The remaining Montserattians are a very proud people and carrying on with life as usual on the remaining 1/3 of this beautiful gem of an island. They always have their antenna up for reports of volcanic activity developing and a contingency plan for safety.

Montserrat
Still Steaming
07/31/2007, Montserrat

We looked in awe as we sailed by and could smell burning sulphur and see steam coming from the volcano. It was quite spectacular and we saw it first hand.

Montserrat
Mom and Kids
07/31/2007, Montserrat

Yet another island where goats are very prevalent. Curried goat, with peas and rice, is common on all the islands and quite delicious.

Seeing these cute little kids with their mom makes me wonder if I'll still be interested in ordering the local dish.

Montserrat
Dome is Still Growing
07/31/2007, Montserrat

With new activity as recently as January 2007, and new areas evacuated, there is no doubt this volcano isn't finished displaying her power. The former viewing areas are now in restricted areas and high fines are issued to anyone entering the zone. We had the best view when we sailed by on our way to Guadeloupe.

Montserrat
View from the West
07/31/2007, Montserrat

This was the view of the Soufriere Hills Volcano as we approached the island from Nevis. We had seen documentaries on Montserrat and were very interested in visiting the island and seeing the volcano for ourselves. We were more than impressed with what we saw.

Montserrat
Soldiers' Hammocks
07/31/2007, Brimstone Hill Fortress, St. Kitts

The soldiers slept in hammocks, four to a room, while stationed in the Fortress. The living conditions were rather primitive.

St. Kitts
Brimstone Hill Fortress from Citadel
07/31/2007, St. Kitts

The name Brimstone is well suited as the fortress is built on an 800-foot volcanic dome which still emits a slight sulfurous odor. The fort tour cost $8 US each and an optional single cost of $5 US for an audio guide of the site which we highly recommend. Though recognized by the world as one of the best preserved 18th century military architectural accomplishments, we found the fort more interesting from the point of view that it was a military assignment designed to protect Britain's sugar interest on the island which was threatened by France. Around the fort in all directions lie the remains of sugar plantations including current sugarcane fields. The site is in excellent condition considering its age and rivals many European castles as a record of the past.

St. Kitts
Lime Kiln
07/31/2007, Brimstone Hill Fortress

On the way up we stopped at a fascinating Lime Kiln which was apparently built back in the 1700s to manufacture lime for the mortar mix in building the fortress. This kiln is a large, stone cauldron with fire pits around the base and steps leading to the top for the loading of the cauldron. It was amazing to see the quality of the construction and to imagine labourers carting containers of limestone to dump into the cauldron. These are things we have never seen before in our travels as in most locations time has destroyed the evidence of the engineering tools of the past. This gave us even more excitement about what we would find at the top of the hill.

St. Kitts
Brimstone Hill Fortress
07/31/2007, St. Kitts

From the romantic Nevis to the metropolitan area of St. Kitts we found ourselves hurrying along to the bus depot by the harbour. From there we caught a local bus marked Sandy Point heading north along the coast road to Brimstone Hill Fortress. The bus ride was a shock as the bus drivers maneuver their vehicles as though they were in a Grand Prix race completely ignoring road speed limits and any measure of safety. We found ourselves tense, white knuckled and totally uncomfortable while the locals appeared relaxed. This gave us some sense of confidence that the buses actually reach their destination.

The climb to the fort is 1 1/4 miles up a paved, steep and narrow winding road. Taking our time we reached the fort in about 40 minutes.

St. Kitts
Circus
07/31/2007, Basseterre, St. Kitts

On Day 4 we took one of the hourly ferries which run between Charlestown and Basseterre, the capital of St. Kitts. The one-way fare per person was $8 US for the ferry and $1 EC for the port tax. This took about one hour on the Sea Hustler, though the faster Carib Surf cat ferry takes only 35 minutes for the same price. We came back on it. We explored the downtown area which included a dressed up cruise ship dock facility and town square called Circus, fashioned after London's Piccadilly Circus.

St. Kitts

Newer ]  |  [ Older ]

 

 
El Shaddai
Who: Bill & Bev Bate
Port: Vancouver, Canada
View Complete Profile »
 
 
 
 

 
Powered by SailBlogs