St. Christopher (St. Kitts)
May/21/2010, Ballast Bay
We are a sailboat today! I forgot, I love sailing.
Steve: As far as I can see there are no nice anchorage on St Kitts. On the MAP there seem to be some promising ones on the south end but when we arrived at ballast bay we found surrounding hills that were ugly bare burnt land and a ruble stone beach. To top it off there was a sulfur smell in the air.
St. Barthelemy (St. Barts)
May/20/2010, Anse De Colombier
Found our next car!
We stayed in Anse (bay) de (The) Colombier on the north end of St. Barthelemy (Barts). It is national park and we picked up free mooring ball. I don't mind mooring balls as long as they are free. The anchorage is a deep bay with a beautiful crescent beach backed by steep hills of greenery. Every time you look up you see a sea turtle poking its head up for air and to look around. The water is nearly as clear as the Bahamas (no water is as clear as the Bahamas, not even bottled water).
There is the most breathtaking hike from the park to the Hamlet of Colombier. The path takes you along the cliffs on the north side of St. Barts winding among the cactus and century plants, through rock troughs hewn out by wind and water and up steeps with steps carved in the lava rock by the locals. All with the surf pounding at the bottom of the cliff and blue waters with a ample sparkling of steep volcanic islands. The trail/goat path leads to a small concert paved road which makes a pleasant walk top a beach even nicer than the park . It is lined with villas with a small european hotel at the end. We took the road behind the villas back to the path and were passed by cars and trucks half the size you would find in north america.
St. Barthelemy (St. Barts)
May/19/2010, Anse De Colombier
Photo of Marg trekking into Anse Des Flamandes.
We are anchored at Anse De Colombier. There is no road access to this anchorage and the only way to get to Anse De Colombier from town is by boat or a mile long trek over the hills.
Anse De Colombier was originally owned by the Rockerfellers. It is now part of the St Barts Marine Reserve.
We spent the day trekking into the town "Anse Des Flamandes" from our anchorage. You needed to be as sure footed as a goat to walk this path. The views were spectacular.
May/11/2010, St. Martin, Simpson Bay Lagoon
photo: of Cheryl and Rene "Gypsy Blues"
Our time in St. Martin has been a working visit. It is the location of the head offices of the two biggest budget marine stores in the Caribbean. Both stores have smaller outlets in Grenada (where we are planning to stay during the hurricane season), so if there is something wrong with any of our purchases, we can return it back there. This never happens in the boating business ...ha..ha!
I managed to fry the ignition switch on our Force 10 stove they had a new one in stock. I disassembled the back of the stove and installed it. Now, we don't have to light the stove with a be lighter, which Lori described as "Just like camping".
I purchased and installed fins on the bottom of the outboard and now it planes like a dream. I got into it up to my elbows replacing a plumbing hose from the rear toilet to the thru hull, always a great way to spend the day. We replaced some electrical boxes and I have yet to install a second fan in the "master" bedroom.
The big purchase were two 135 watt solar panels that we installed on the rear railing. A day to install and wire and the next day to clean up the installation and find room for the equipment that was misplaced by the panels. That was yesterday. It's been cloudy and rainy ever since. Our Honda generator is running as I write this.
Notes: from Marg
We purchased another Caframo - Sirocco fan. We find these to be the best for quietness and air flow.
The two solar panels were Kyocera 135 watt and we purchased these and various other items from Island Water World. Their prices and expertise seemed to be better than Budget Marine. Budget Marine is not always the best regarding price, but they do have a lot of electrical and a great deal of "odds and ends" inventory.
It turns out that the knowledgeable salesman that we spoke with at Island Water World was none other that Rene from "Gypsy Blues" whom we heard so much about from our friends Janice and Harley on "Blue Blazes". An evening was enjoyed with them on "Lion's Paw". I hope they didn't mind being pried for more information throughout the night. We hope to meet up with them again in Grenada to enjoy many more sundowners together.
Sunday May 9th, 2010 The Renaissance Islands, St. Martin
May/9/2010, St. Martin
Photo: The Baths, Virgin Gorda
The French and Dutch sharing an island is really quite bizarre. They have different laws, currency, language (many people on the French side don't speak English) and the electrical outlets are the European standard on the French side - 220 volts, 60hz (50hz is standard in France) and the usual North American 110 volts, 60hz on the Dutch side.
The US currency gets a break on the French side because many shops take it as par and the Euro is worth 20% more. On our first day, we went into a grocery store on the Dutch side and got sticker shock. The only thing we thought we may be able to afford was Presidente beer from the D.R. It was $15.00 US for a 12 pack. We calculated that if we split a chicken breast and a piece of celery, we could survive, but for how long? Then we spotted, in small print, another price ... the much lower price, in US dollars. All the items were priced in Netherlands Antilles florin (large print), even though you never see the "Netherlands Antilles florin" currency and the check outs are full US dollars. The florin is worth just more than half US dollars, making the Presidente $8.00/12 pk...now we are talking.
However, I bought the home brew "Heineken" for $18.90/24 pk. Living high now. It takes a while to get over sticker shock... we left the store with almost nothing but the beer... To be enjoyed tonight and regroup for tomorrows shopping.
Marg: We are in Simpson Bay Lagoon. It is a large bay harbor and seems very well protected and the holding is wonderful. However the winds do whip all day and the water is not that appetizing; so, there will be no cleaning the bottom here.
Yesterday we arrived to St. Martin at the break of day and dropped anchor in Marigot Bay. "Vanilla" arrived a little later than us and decided to continue through the Sandy Ground Bridge at 8:15 am (the French bridge) and ended up checking into the Dutch side of St. Martin. After dropping anchor and sleeping a few hours, we decided to check in to St. Martin (on the French side at the maritime terminal on the waterfront in Marigot) on Monday.
Turns out that both sailing vessels could have done it differently and saved some money. And the funny part about the whole experience is that we (English speaking) have cleared in and will clear out of the French side of St. Martin and Sylvain and Lise (mostly French but also English speaking) have cleared into and will have to clear out from the Dutch side...
Both s/v did it wrong:
Vanilla: they checked in on the Dutch side, paid a weekly fee for anchoring in Simpson Bay Lagoon (on the Dutch side of Simpson Bay Lagoon), paid a clearance fee (both arrival and departure) and paid a fee for each use of the Dutch bridge (as required when you enter or leave the anchorage). The worst of deciding to check into the Dutch side, is that there are some great anchorages all around St. Martin (most on the French side of the island) and "Vanilla" being from Quebec, wanted to go but couldn't because they would have to first clear out of the Dutch side of St. Martin, then clear into the French side of St. Martin before entertaining the idea.
Lion's Paw: we paid to anchor in Marigot Bay, and for the use of clearing into the maritime customs (where the ferry's and large cruisers clear in and out off), we think we paid $31US = $20Euro for customs (the price was determined by the length of our boat and 2 days anchorage). It's not really clear what we actually paid for but that's what the customs officer told us. Keep in mind, not once did he confirm that the information I punched into the computer was correct and not once did he even look at our passports or the departure papers (that we paid for when we cleared out of BVI's)... So, like all the islands, Steve says, they just want their money.
FYI: when you go into the customs office (on the French side), the computer keyboard is totally screwed up. I'm a blind typist and when I looked up at what I had punched in.. Well it was pretty much comical.... It turns out that their keyboard is totally different.. Say no more!
What you should do:
Is enter St. Martin via Marigot Bay, drop anchor if you have to, but as soon as you can, go through the "French" bridge (Sandy Ground Bridge) and enter Simpson Bay Lagoon and drop your anchor on the French side of the lagoon. You will have no anchoring fees and you can go to customs on the French side just inside the Port la Royale (which is not mentioned in any guide book). It is on your right, along the first dock in a white building)... Ask other cruisers on the net for advise.
Steve; "I'm glad Canada is a big country and we seldom cross a boarder."
May/9/2010, St. Martin
Happy mothers day from sunny St Martin (named after your only son) we are on the French side for now so we will have to put up with people speaking French on the radio, we don't hear comments like "why don't you speak American" or " will you repeat that in the queen's English" like we did up island. Have fun hope the family showed up or called.
Off to St. Martin
May/8/2010, Marigot Bay
We left the US Virgin islands and sailed to the fabled British Virgin Islands arriving at Jost Van Dyke after a brisk sail through the channel with a brisk sail back across the channel and back again arriving in front of Foxy's in Great Harbor the main port after only two tacks. After checking in with customs and immigration we cruised the town or some would say street, Foxy's being the main bar in a short street of bars and one church. We didn't spend much time in the BVI's, it is beautiful and would be a great place for a sailing vacation, with easy moorings at easy to reach destinations with dinning and bars with the cruiser mentality as their theme. Unfortunately as live abounds we are to cheap to pay for a mooring and a $7 margarita blows the budget for a day. Would love to come back to party.
We visited the Baths on Virgin Gorda and it is truly a spectacular place. The huge pieces of granite that you walk through are breath taking.
We checked out of BVI's in Spanish town Virgin Gorda and went to the top end to stage for the trip to St Martin. In the BVI's norman and Van dyke have islands named after them but the Colquhouns only had a reef named after us. It is a very formidable reef at the entrance to ..... Bay the location of the notorious Bitter End yacht club. Colquhouns reef runs off the end of Mosquito island and has Mosquito rock in the center of it so I can only assume that it was named after the Northern Ontario Colquhouns.
We anchored off Prickly Island for the night and left for the over night across the Anegada passage for St Martin. What I said earlier about going east held true, wind strait on the nose, we motor sailed most of the way tacking to get some lift from the sails adding another 35 miles to the trip but it is better to have power in the sails to drive through the wave. The waves were weird, we would go along great for 30 seconds then it was like we fell into a hole, the bow would then come out of the hole and crash down on a series of wave with the pulpit making loud crashing sounds as it hit the water . After 10 hours in the dark pithing up and down it becomes a bit much and even my stomach was queasy some of the crew was truly sick. I didn't catch a fish, got one bite and saw the fish jump (a big one) I'm looking for better 3 prong hooks. Arrived in St Martin safe and sound It looks beautiful, whats 10 hours of agony.
Virgin Gorda - The Baths
Here's a photo of Steve at the baths in Isla de Culebrita, The Spanish Virgin Islands. They were not the "Baths" of Virgin Gorda, but very fun to float around in.
We have to get our departure papers from the BVI's but we HAVE to go to "The Famous Baths" of Virgin Gorda and then we'll go to Spanish Town to clear out.
Jost Van Dyke to Virgin Gorda
We sailed from John Van Dyke - "Foxy's" to Norman's Island - "Pirates" mostly because of wind direction and because we heard that the Caves were worth the stop. We shall motor tomorrow to Virgin Gorda.
Sometimes the tiniest of towns turn out to be the loudest.
May/6/2010, Jost Van Dyke, BVI's
I woke this morning to a rip roaring church service (every town we visit has at least one church). As I rolled over in bed I glanced at my watch. Yup it was 5:30 am and I'm sure there must be a flogging in town or they are warning us that a hurricane is coming or maybe an excursionist is taking place. The loud, frenzied preacher's voice echos loudly over the harbour. Crap! It's not Sunday already. Nope, it's Thursday.. Phew! I'm sure I took a picture of that church yesterday. It was a Methodist Church and looked as though it could only hold about 20 people (tops) and that would be crowded. I climbed out on deck and yup, I heard the words "Lord Jesus" and there was even a response from the crowd... They're singing "Kum bi yah".. I know that song.
I don't know how they do it? I mean, get up before 5:30 am after spending the night partying at Foxy's. The music from there last night went on 'till 3 am; reminded me of my days as an aerobics instructor... I think it was 135 bmp and some of the tapes (dating myself..I mean CD's) I used to work-out too ... back in the 70's... Oh and I've gotta mention the LLLLaaambbbb that is crying from the town...LOL
Again, I'm loving this place! I'm thinking of getting into the dinghy and going to church just to check out how many people are really attending. It's been a while.
Note: "Kumbayah" (Gullah, "Come By My GOD(Yah)") �" "Kum ba yah" �" is an African-American Hebrew (YAH) spiritual song from the 1930s. It enjoyed newfound popularity during the folk revival of the 1960s and became a standard campfire song in Scouting and other nature-oriented organizations.
May/5/2010, Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke Island, BVI’s
You will see by my photos that if you blinked, you'd miss this town. It is very "country granola" around here and the famous Foxy's Bar is still trying to be a happening place.
We like it. It's obviously a tourist trap but it encompasses a beach front (one sandy street) with a very calm, kind of hippie feel to it. Checking in here was "no worries" and we walked the "street" in 5 minutes tops! The only thing we have to decide is if we want to buy a "Foxy" T-shirt. While looking about, we ran into George and he was so entertaining, I really wished I had recorded his whole conversation with us. He spoke in rhymes and riddles. I hope to download a video of him (only the last part of his act). Steve and I found that "George" has been at Foxy's for 40 years... we think he is Foxy... anyone recognize him?
It starts off by him ask'n if I know what kind of dog he has. I tell him it's a black lab.
He say's; "Most white folks make that mistake".
I say; "Well what kind of dog is he?" He says, "He's an Island Dog". You can tell by four characteristics.
I ask; "What are they?"
And he replies; "He's Black, he sits around on his ass all day, he begs for hand outs, and he don't know who his daddy is"...And the conversation goes on from there...
Life is good!
May/4/2010, St. John, USVI's
When I think of St John, I think of lush forested mountains rising up to the sky from white powdery beaches surrounded by crystal clear water and beautiful coral reefs.
This morning's sun beams across Francis Bay and we say good-bye to "Vanilla" as they are off to Tortola, in the BVI's and have a vet appointment for Vicky (in order to have her allowed into the country) this morning. The British are not as dog friendly as other islands we've been too. We will keep in touch and hope to re-connect at John Van Dyke Island (where Steve and I will clear into the BVI's later on today).
This morning we are going to Trunk Bay to visit the underwater snorkel trail (part of the Virgin Islands National Park). The 225' underwater trail is about 10' - 30' deep with plaques in place to help the snorkeler identify what they are looking at...should be fun.
Oh, the best part is that they are supposed to have showers ashore... This means we can have a good scrub before clearing into the BVI's.. the customs officers might appreciate the effort.
Answer to one good question: If we wanted too, we could travel straight to Grenada and it would take us the same time (a couple of overnights) as it took for us to travel from Rum Cay (the Bahamas) to Luperon (The Dominican Republic). It is about the same distance. So, no worries. We we are hav'n so much fun.. why rush. Oh ya, I forgot about the "hurricane season"; we have lots of time to get below 12deg N...
Some May Dates to Remember
Again sorry if I didn't mention your big day in May...
Special anniversary: Jack and Betty Colquhoun May 9th
Steve's B.Day: May 24 (and you thought it was the Queens Birthday)
May 15th: In memory of our good 'ol Aunt Lorraine
May 14th: Dee's Birthday
May 7th: Moss anniversary
We just want to mention that we lost a very large voice on this earth recently. Being an avid sailor, Jack Cooke was so interested in our adventure and sadly we shall miss his comments on this blog.
Cruz Bay, St. John USVI
May/3/2010, Salomon Bay, St. John
We went into Cruz Bay and dropped the anchor for the maximum 3 hours allowed. We tried to get a departure paper from the USVI's for the BVI's... but we don't have too! So much for reading all the "outdated" 2008 cruising books and guides... things change so rapidly here, it's best to pick up a local travel information booklet or go to the nearest travel information booth, or just ask another cruiser who looks like he's been in the place for a while.
Bottom line: We dropped 2 anchors, so that we wouldn't be in the main ferry channel; walked to the customs office and after filling out two forms and lining up, we found that we just wasted an hour of our visit (they all had a good laugh too); then walked up the road to check out the shopping area (I found a pair of Teva's (sandal/ hiking shoes).. my other ones (over 20 years old split apart). We bought some groceries and headed out. I thought it would be a wonderful town to explore further and we may go back tonight.
We are now on a mooring ball about a half mile away. This is St. John and 2/3rds of this island is under the auspices of the National Park Service. There will be no fishing here!
May/3/2010, Salomon Bay, St. Johns
We were anchored in a bay bordered by a steep hill with large rocks at the waters edge.I put on my snorkeling gear and armed with my spear I swam the 50 yards to the the shore line. There were the normal starfish and rays along the way, rays must stir up food as they drift along the bottom because you often see them with schools of fish swarming above them, they look like they are fighting but maybe the fish are just getting to close. The ocean is amazing, every were you look there is life, if you don't see anything you can just drift there for a minute and something will show up or more often you will see something you missed.
I arrived at the shore that dropped off at a steep angle and there were 10 ft under water cliffs covered with coral running off the shore with rock rubble between them . There were thousands of colorful reef fish and I spotted two snappers with their spot on their side but they were to small to shoot. The normal 3.5 ft barracuda was watching me for a while but drifted away out of sight ,they are always there some where.
Under a rock I saw a lobster but it's tentacles were to small so I poked him in the nose with the spear to assure myself I could have gotten him if I had wanted to and he scurried back into his hole. Further along I see some larger tentacles and a big head so I shot into the hole hitting the lobster in the back of the head . I pulled him out of the hole and as is often the as is the case the head is bigger than the tail but I have already shot him now so I take him off the spear and carry him in my left hand and continue on. Two lobster means there must be more, maybe a big one. As I come over a cliff there is a Grouper. It starts to move away and I release the spear , it's a direct hit right through the throat.
Oh no! Having a lobster in your hand is one thing but a bleeding fish thrashing on the end of the spear is another. As soon as you spear a fish the practice is to hold the fish out of the water at the end of the spear and get him into the dingy as fast as possible. I'm out without a dingy. I hold the fish out of the water, my brilliant neck shot has gone through mostly gills and the fish slips down the spear to my hand . I look up and the boat is about !/8th of a mile away. I start swimming fish in one hand lobster in the other. I keep close to shore with eye to the deep water, any sight of the barracuda or his bigger brother and I drop the spear and the fish and swim for the shallows. What if the dyeing fish who is still thrashing around on my spear attracts a shark. I swim faster. It never occurs to me that I could abandon the fish. I make the mad dash across open water for the boat still noticing the rays and their entourage of fish . Every once in a while I spin in the water to make sure nothing is following me . You really notice the tunnel vision through a mask in a situation like this. I make the dingy tied to the back of the boat and throw the fish and lobster over the transom. "dinner".
May/1/2010, St. Thomas to Christmas Cove
Vermilion Snapper "fish burgers for lunch"
The trip from Charlotte Amalie St Thomas to Christmas Cove was typical of going east . You don't need a GPS just go straight into the wind and you will arriver at your destination. Nevertheless we decided to sail. The distances in the Virgin Islands are so short that we would have lots of time. We enjoyed a great sail zig zagging up the coast of St Thomas We have our baby stay in place for our stay sail so we had to reel the genoa sail in with the self furling in order to tack. This is not normally a problem when ocean sailing because a tack is usually a once a week occurrence. Along the way Marg noticed that the fishing rod had more bend in it than normal so I reeled it in to remove sea weed caught on the hook, to my surprise there was a small Vermilion Snapper on the line "lunch".When Identifying the fish I found our that the small Vermilions normally school with Red snapper, it could have been "dinner".
April/30/2010, Druit Bay, St. Thomas, USVI
Today we anchored outside town while "Vanilla" parked right beside a large cruise ship. After lunch we took the dinghy to the dinghy dock and wondered through town. Turns out that we have arrived in time for Carnival and today we have "the children's parade". Tomorrow is "the adult parade". Everything is closed and will be for the month unless they "feel" like opening. We found a few shops open around the one cruise ship that had docked here and we also found a large grocery store with comparable prices to things imported. As always, liquor is so cheap, unlike the food. Ah we are back in the USA where everyone can afford to get pissed (drunk) but can't afford to eat!
Life is good!
We headed back to our dinghy with 2 bottles of Vodka, 2 bottles of Gin and 4 bottles of Rum... That should last us until tomorrow...lol (laugh out loud)
We are trying to reduce our freezer and still have 1 meal of spaghetti, 2 meals of our Ham & Wild Rice Chowder and 1 Butter Chicken, plus the fish we caught..
Groceries seem to be half 'n half for coffee and fresh veggies or salad. Yes Janice, we still have plenty of canned goods from Vero Beach..LOL (Laugh Out Loud)
Guess what, I couldn't sleep much last night and found that I could occasionally connect to the internet. I downloaded our emails and hope to be able to respond soon.
Still love my mail and seeing comments posted on the blog.
Notes: Mum, I understand completely why you rushed down the end of the driveway each day to check the mail box. You were so alone in Canada with your only sister and family back home.
Christine, do you remember when we got a talking too for picking up mum's mail? We thought we were doing her a favour. As mum said, it was the only thing she looked forward too all day... And I now understand! One of Steve's peeve's is that I always want to have a connection to the internet, to my world and my family. Oh and I always want to download the "Blog" which seems to occupy so much of my time. . But that's all I have is time (one can only hope). Actually, Steve's become just as addicted to the blog and even though he's not as much a communicator, when he finds something of interest he's the first to pick up a pen and start to write; which of course means that I have to type and enter it into the computer. Apparently, some of his bad grammar is for comic effect; so I never know what to leave in.
Fun for Everyone
April/28/2010, Isla Culebrita, The Spanish Virgin Islands
We have enjoyed a full day on this little island.
Walking along this spectacular beach and swimming in the water is almost enough to complete the day, but we've also hiked up to the lighthouse and on the way down, found another path to follow. It lead to the other side of the island and our private beach where we skinny dipped and cooled off.
When the water is so crystal clear and it is hard to ignore that "Lion's Paw" needed a good scrub (again). We both jumped into the water with mask & snorkel, fins, gloves and scrapers. Memories of "Barnacle Bill" from Lake Erie come to mind... I wonder if that name referred to the owner "Bill" or to the state of his boat? It is truly amazing to dive underneath the hull to scrape off barnacles and green algae growth from the hull, keel, intakes, bow thruster and prop. The best part about "working" in the islands, is that it's fun. Your in the water after all and it's warm and clear. You stop every now and then to watch the fish & rays swim by. You challenge yourself to stay underwater longer and longer, trying to improve your lung capacity, so that the next time you go snorkeling you can dive deeper or stay down longer; and the next challenge is to avoid scraping yourself along the side as you ascend from underneath the huge hull, which in your mind could be the 'belly of a whale' and you 'a pilot fish'.
At the end of the day, you're exhausted but satisfied that you've earned another day in this Caribbean paradise.
We have found Paradise
April/27/2010, Isla Culebrita, The Spanish Virgin Islands
It took us only 1-1/2 hours from Dewey, on a lazy sail.. we were actually more interested in fishing.... to arrive here this morning.
We caught nothing today but as we rounded the corner and approached our new anchorage, we gazed upon one of the nicest beaches we've ever seen. We happily noticed that there wasn't a spec of garbage anywhere! I wish Janice was here to collect her sand sample. It is so white and clean.
We also have crystal clear waters, very similar to the Bahamas, surrounding us; so the first event is to jump in. We followed a small sea turtle as he wandered through the bay and I got my first picture of a smaller version of the turtle I saw when we entered the anchorage in Allan's Cay (that one must have been at least 5 ft wide).
Around 4pm, we joined the crew from "Vanilla" and walked Vicky, the dog along the crystal white sand beach that lay before us.
We cut the guys hair, and took another swim. Then we walked the beach to discover that the path on one side led to the "baths" similar to the ones in the BVI's. We discovered that the "baths" are very, very salty and one could easily float with effort. We just had to be cautious of the numerous sea urchins that lined the walls. We shared the experience with another couple whom were on their way back to the USA to be closer to their family. They had spent the least 7 years exploring the Mediterranean and had their boat shipped back to the Virgin's.
After returning to the beach, we noticed that our dinghy was heading out to sea. Steve and I had a nice jog along the beach. We usually put out a dinghy anchor but on this beach, but we were not allowed to anchor because it is a sea turtles nesting ground. We didn't pull the dinghy up high enough on the beach to prevent it from slipping away. We (Sylvain, Lise and I) sat in the water and watched Steve swim out to retrieve the dinghy. It was a good work out for his shoulders. Soon joined by Steve, we spent another hour or so lying about with just our heads out of the water. As is was about 5 pm, we decided to head back to the boat for dinner.
And that's one day in paradise.
The Friendly Little Town of Dewey
April/25/2010, Culebra, The Spanish Virgin Islands
One of the many views from Lion's Paw
Today is Sunday and we are just chill'n.
The island of Culebra and her surrounding islets encompass over 7,000 acres of which over 2,800 are designated as a part of the U.S. National Refuge System. Hence there is little development and the land and water are a sanctuary for indigenous plants and animals. In 1936 the U.S. Navy began using some 2,000 acres for Culebra for bombing exercises until 1975.