As we left Martinique we sailed right through a very large group of dolphins.
Unfortunately, we were so mesmerized by the sight, neither I nor Steve thought of getting the camera. There were at least 5 that jumped over the waves in a perfect pattern as if they had been trained to do so. I thought, today must be a good day... And it was. We had a long but pleasant reach to St. Lucia and as we approached Rodney Bay (at the northern tip of St. Lucia) it was going so well, that we decided again to sail right on down to the southern tip to another anchorage called Laborie. We sailed right by Soufriere and the famous towering twin Pitons. It was a spectacular island, but St. Lucia will have to wait for our return planned for next winter.
It was getting really late but we made it to Laborie. We ventured into the bay at a slow pace since it was too late to eyeball our way past the coral reefs into the anchorage near the town. Just as I was about to ready the anchor I could see that the water was getting really skinny and we stopped just in time to not go onto a reef. We had a track on the GPS and we backed up, turned around and decide that we would try another spot further out. No sooner had we turned around and a fishing boat with a 75 hp, pull start engine, crowded with 4 boys came rushing towards us. Follow us, follow us. You can use the mooring balls for free. (We had passed the mooring balls on the way in and didn't need to follow anyone, but we decided to let them feel like they were doing us a favor). "For free?" Steve asked. "Yes for free", they replied.
I picked up a well overgrown rope and continued to drop it back into the water and re-lift it until I could see the end. I grabbed the end and split apart the vegetation to discover that indeed there was a loop for me to insert our mooring line through and we cleated it off without a glitch.
The boat boys, just hung around until they saw Vanilla and off they rushed. Later they came back to ask for gas money. We gave them $4 US, not enough they said. Steve returned with $1US more and I had already given them 4 beers and 2 cans of coke. They were still disappointed but we insisted that for 2 minutes of their time, it was enough and that we didn't have any more to give. "Maybe next time", one of the boys said...and thats free in St. Lucia.
We staged from Grande Anse D'Arlet, just around the corner from Fort de France. This is a is a nice anchorage with a long beach and we spent the day out front of an internet bar on the beach. This time we turned our Euros into French wine, because that's what you do with all your left over change, when you leave a country and no longer need their currency. Most times it's rum, but in the French Islands an excellent bottle of French wine is $3.50 US. Sometimes it's vodka, it's always some kind of booze.
Dominica to Martinique
After rolling all night in Dominica, we decided to sail past St. Pierre, Martinique. Our thought was that it looked to be another anchorage with the tendency to roll. We were having such a great sail, more like cruising and decided to push onward and get to Fort de France. We sailed all the way and reached Fort de France just before sunset. The Q flag was hoisted and check in would be tomorrow.
The check in was at the marine store in town, a short walk to the left of the dinghy dock, so it was a breeze. Being a French Island, we both could venture into town, get on the computer and check in and out, all on the same day. You gotta love the French Islands for their easy, efficient check-in and out procedures.
While at the marine store, we discussed bottom paint with the owner and he gave us a good deal on Micron 66. We have to re-apply bottom paint soon because the Interlux CSC that was sold to us in Canada is not holding up.
We spent the day walking the city in the heat. They said it was hotter than normal. It's an old, very french creole style that I imagine New Orleans to be like. The buildings were all attached, two or three stories high and all with balconies. The streets were very narrow, only one way traffic and the sidewalks were only one and a half feet wide.
The central Rue de la Republique is blocked off to cars and has been turned into a pedestrian street, where there is a lot of hustle and bustle. We toured the sites listed on the walking tour and the first day just took it all in. I have to mention that there is a 350-foot dinghy dock . . Obviously a yacht friendly anchorage.
Early Friday morning, we ventured back to the main market. We were told that it is best on Friday and Saturday. Most people there were locals buying their weeks vegetables and like usual, some items were priced but many were not. Marg watched for the reactions from local women as they asked for prices. You can tell a lot from their reaction whether or not to make the same purchase. At first it was overwhelming with all the chaos, but once we started making purchases, we got into the rhythm of things and came home with a large bag full of fruits and vegetables. Marg bleached washes everything just incase of infestation of cock roaches and the like and before anything is brought aboard, the cardboard packaging is removed. I usually have a beer and a swim because I'm soaked right through from the days adventure.
From Les Saintes to Dominica
The sail from the Saintes to Salisbury, Dominica was a rough and tumble ride, sailing on the edge. None of that cruiser sailing for us. We were looking for a place to anchor off Salisbury, where the cruiser guide had instructed us to and the women from the dive shop contacted us and told us to take a mooring ball free of charge so that we wouldn't anchor on the reef. We took a dive mooring ball and dove down to check it to make sure it would hold us. It wasn't perfect but would be okay for one night. We yellow flagged it for the night, there was no reason to leave the boat. The beach was black sand.
Here's one of the boys taking a drink on the Catamaran that we took to Nevis in 1994.
We dropped anchor in a lovely little bay (called Petite Anse) just outside the entrance to the main town Bourg des Saintes, Terre de Haut. As we approached we found that there were only 4 boats, a small beach and a small cottage/hotel alongside.
As we sat down to eat breakfast we noticed not one, but two catamarans "party tour boats" entering the little bay. Yup, two cats, loaded to the brim with partying tourists ready to snorkel and drop anchor right alongside us.
We use to be them. ..
Long time friends Kim and Marius, Steve and I, and new friends that we met while on an all-inclusive vacation at St. Kitts .. Tom, Marie, Terry and John, booked a snorkeling tour that traveled from St. Kitts to Nevis and back. I think I'll dig up those pic's and put them on the blog in the photo gallery... As I remember, Kim stood on the counter where they were serving drinks and hit her head... Remember that Kim? (Sorry, I just had to put that in.. Kim hardly drinks anything these days).
Here...Les Saintes meets our expectations, small village with scooters only, no cars (commercial vehicles only), narrow roads, small cafes filled with people just enjoying the day with their morning coffee and croissant, and the sweet smells of various flowers mixed with fresh baking...
My cousin Anne and Clive have bought a farm and property in France and I can understand why. Both Steve and I have really enjoyed the French Islands .. Hum, better start re-learning the language... Where's my "French for Cruisers"
We are here with CATTIVA, they live in Grimsby ON...
It was a bit of a rough sail to Guadeloupe from Antigua but we made it and it was well worth it. This a a beautiful small, colourful town and the mountainous hillsides are lush with different shades of green. We plan on clearing in tomorrow. It should be easy. In Deshaies you can check-in at a small boutique (souvenir-computer store) in town called ''PELICAN''. He has the computer to type it in and it cost 3 Euros.
I forgot to mention that Tom Pearson's has a birthday this month as does Ryan McHenry... it's on my calendar but slipped by the first writing of the month. Wishing you both a good day.
May/24/2010, Antigua, Jolly Harbour
Antigua - Customs
You Can't Get To Guadeloupe From Here
Update from St. Martin to St. Barts to St. Kitts to Barbuda to Antigua . . All the while heading for Guadeloupe.
We left St. Martin for St. Barts through the 9:30 am Dutch bridge (not paying because we checked in on the French Side??). It was a wild windy day on the Atlantic Ocean with 25 - 32 kt winds coming you know where. Straight out of St Barts. It is only 14 miles to St. Barts, so we decided to tack. We made great speed (never in the right direction) but managed to pick up a free mooring in one of the most beautiful anchorages we have ever been in. It was 4 pm...6-1/2 hours for 14 miles.
We enjoyed the Saint Barts anchorage for a day under our Q flag, then took off for St. Kitts on our way to Guadeloupe. It was a great sail to the top of Saint Kitts, no engine just sailing in the right direction. High point caught a nice mackerel, low point lost the lure on the hand line and I had to cut the line on the rod when they both got caught on a fishing net. The 80 test line just wouldn't break. Still have the hand line left. We had to motor sail down the leeward side of St. Kitts into 20 kt winds to the ugliest anchorage we have ever been in.
We left St. Kitts around 5:30 am in the morning and wound our way through the rocks and reefs between St. Kitts and Nevis; then headed for Guadeloupe making sure we kept on the lee of Montserrat Island, on which a volcano is erupting ash and sulfur into the air that can ruin your sails and is hard ion the eyes. We tacked north east toward Barbuda then tried to sail south.Tacked north east toward Barbuda tried to go south, couldn't get around Montserrat. To heck with it. We sailed to Barbuda, 37 miles to the east north east and anchored off 11 mile long beach. I caught a mackerel and a snapper, you can't keep a good man down.
We left for Guadalupe from Barbuda with Antigua 30 miles away on the rum line. It was a nice day with light winds on " the nose" so we motor sailed into it until the wind shifted to the south west and we sailed into Deep harbor Antigua. It was a beautiful place to spend the afternoon and evening. The next morning we procrastinated but eventually we decided to make the run for Guadeloupe. We roared out of the bay at 7 kt to find the off island wind 20 gusting to near 25 knots, you guessed it . . straight out of Guadeloupe. We tacked back into Jolly Harbor, Antigua and I checked in and out of the country. We will be legal for 24 hours. Guadeloupe will have to wait.
You put up a "Q" flag - a quarantine flag (a Yellow Flag) when you enter a country and have not registered with customs. If Marg has dropped yours over board, you hang a yellow dish rag. Until you've cleared into a country, you cannot go to shore. It is said that you must present yourself (as captain) asap, thus the phrase " I just got here". We didn't clear into St. Barts, which was pushing it, since we were there for two days and went hiking. But the French are very easy going about customs. Don't do this on a British Island. We yellow flagged at St. Kitts and Barbuda both over nights, so that was acceptable. You can check in and out of an island if you are leaving within 24 hours. If you can't leave within the 24 hours, then I guess you should check back in with customs, immigration and the port Authority again. Not likely!!!
Antigua, Deep Bay
Q flagging it again tonight. Maybe we'll make Guadeloupe tomorrow.
Steve: We stayed one night off the 11 mile beach off west Barbuda. It is beautiful beach which a pink ting to the sand. There are miles that are untouched. There were some other boats but they were 6 or 7 miles away. It would be a great place to get away from it all. The only downside is was there was some south swell.
Note: The farther we sail into the eastern Caribbean you see less and less Canadian and American flagged boats. It is a very international sailing community here, when you see a red and white flag it is just as likely to have a cross on it as the maple leaf.
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.
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.
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.
|Boat Reno's and Upgrades||
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.
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.
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.
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.