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Adventures of North Star
Follow the Adventures of Kim and Steve aboard their yacht North Star!
Martinique
05/06/2010

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We arrived in St Pierre, Martinique a French island and the largest of the windward islands.
St Pierre lies at the foot of the Mt Pelee volcano that claimed the lives of almost 30,000 people. On May 8th, 1902, St Pierre was the Paris of the Caribbean. Some feel the volcano erupted due to the curses the last of the Carib Indians spoke as they were being killed. The volcano gave signs it was going to erupt. Rumblings, spewing ash that killed birds, boiling volcanic mud, boiling gases and a path of rocks and lava over 100 feet wide that buried and estate just to name a few. The new governor, with an election in the near future, was convinced by businesses that evacuation was not necessary and money would be unnecessarily be lost. People on their way from Fort de France to church on Ascension Day in St Pierre witnessed the heavy, red smoke in the air. A giant fireball of gas with the power of an atomic bomb flowed over the city killing all but two survivors. One was a cobbler that was in his cellar and the other a murderer named Cyparis that was jailed in a stone cell. The photo of the remains of the cell can be seen in our photo gallery. Many of the blackened remains of the stone buildings can still be seen in town and the some of the newer buildings used the remaining charred walls to build their new restaurants and homes.
We spent several nights anchored at the foot of Fort de France. The photos in the gallery show the concentration of homes and businesses in this area. The streets were filled with the old and the new. We had the first fast food experience we have had since we left Hampton six months ago and quickly regretted the decision. In the middle of town there is a mall with a large grocery store and several nice shops. The busy public bus system runs right a bus stop right in front of the anchorage and we took it to La Galleria, the largest mall we have seen in the Caribbean. The mall had two floors, many shops and places to eat and a large Super Walmart type store.
We spent one night in Anse Mitan. This was a crowed anchorage across the bay from Fort de France. Several upscale hotels were in the area and the pretty town was filled with shops and ice cream stands. The clothes were very nice and many were straight from Paris. We did find crepes here. Breakfast crepes, dessert crepes and crepes with chocolate ice cream. We have not been eating crepes out as much but have been making them aboard North Star. The sea water cooling pump for the generator broke in Fort de France and a shop for Westerbeke used to be located here. The key phrase here is "used to be" located here. The generator is used for a variety of things that can be duplicated with the engine but we must have it for the refrigeration system. We moved on to Anse Marin to find parts.
Anse Marin is a huge bay, full of shallow shoals and French boats. We quickly found the parts and successfully got the pump replaced. We plan to head to St Lucia in a few days and back to our native english language.


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Dominica
04/29/2010

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It was only about a 20 mile sail from the Saintes to Dominica. We headed out a few hours behind our friends aboard s/v Lady. The wind and the waves were coming from two different directions and the sail was, well, let me say, most of us were ready to see the protected harbor of Prince Rupert Bay and the town of Portsmouth by the time we arrived. We have heard from several of our Caribbean 1500 friends that were headed back north that Dominica was their favorite island. We hoped we were not getting ourselves in a position to expect to much but Dominica really was all we had heard. We were greeted before we reached the harbor by boat boys anxiously waiting to help us out with whatever we needed. We quickly got set up with Martin, call name Providence. S/V Lady was on a mooring ball not to far away and within a few days Safaritu and Bojangles IV were all withing a few boats of where we were anchored.
Charlie and Jenny from Lady had scheduled a tour of the north end of the island with Martin and asked if we would like to join them. We said yes and were picked up early the next morning. As we headed north, Martin stopped along the roadside to show us fruits and vegetables growing everywhere. The things we saw included: tree branches heavy and weighted down, dripping with almost ripe mangos, pineapple, fields of yams planted on the mountain side, corossol, papaya, cashews (which none of our group could identify in its natural state), bananas, calibash, sugar apples, vanilla orchids, custard apples, bread fruit trees, citrus trees, coconut trees, coffee, nutmeg trees, a cinnamon tree, avocado, watermelon, different types of bay leave, lemon grass, tamarind trees, guava, cocoa trees and an indian mulberry tree. Just to name a few. Passion fruits and carambole or star fruit were just going out of season. We did have some amazing passion fruit we found in town. We did find out some interesting fact about some of these fruits. The photo a cashew in the photo gallery will show you what a cashew looks like when it is harvested. No one in our group could identify it with the plant attached to the top. Cashews have an acid that will burn the digestive tract so the nut must be cooked first. We see now why they are more expensive than some nuts. An interesting fact about bananas we learned was the small banana starts out growing down then as it matures move to a horizontal position and ends up pointing up. Many of the bananas were enclosed in a blue bag to protect them from the sun and they would be shipped to Europe. Michael harvested a slice of cinnamon from a tree and we took this back to the boat. We stopped to enjoy some beautiful views and at Red Rocks. This area of red dirt was bare of most plant life and the views were beautiful. We continued on to a quit spot on the ocean for a local lunch. After lunch we headed to Hampstead Beach. On the way, we saw a place in the open jungle that a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean II was filmed in. The scene takes place in the wheel that came off of a mill and Jack Sparrow and Will are fighting to get control of the chest that contains the heart of Davey Jones. A second scene was filmed at Hampstead Beach where Jack Sparrow is running from the tribesmen toward the beached Black Pearl. This black sand beach meets one of the rivers running down from the mountains. The river water was usually very clear and cold. It has been raining since we arrived so the water was not as clear as usual but the temperature was definitely cold. The sand was very hot and shoes were a necessity because of the dark color. We stopped a few more places including a sulpher spring and a few more beaches. We enjoyed some fresh citrus fruit on the way and a ripe coconut. This was a full day tour and well worth the time and money. Martin was a very knowledgeable tour guide and made the trip fun for everybody.
The second tour we did was to the south end of the island. We scheduled this trip with Dylan, one of Martin's employees. The crews from Bojangles IV and Safaritu, kids included, made a group of 13. This tour was very different from the trip to the north. The drive was over an hour along the coast and then up into the mountains to reach the south end of the island. We decided to stay in Portsmouth on the north end of the island instead of take North Star to the southern anchorage of Roseau at the advise of our friends that said it was very rolly and the holding was not good. We saw several large waterfalls, Middleham Falls and Trafalgar Falls, that words or photos can not capture. Titu Gorge was an area where two large boulders come together at the top but have a river running through them at the bottom and you can swim between them in freezing cold water. It had been pouring for the last few hours and Steve and I decided we were cold enough, everyone else went straight in. I must tell you our friends are from the northern US and Canada so cold is relative. Michael and Tim had a headache when they came out but it quickly went away. The next waterfall we went to had hot springs in it. Everyone enjoyed this very much and had a chance to warm up from the freezing rain. It was an interesting ride home listening to Scott tell the Bojangles IV kids stories of his adventures of hiking in the mountains of Tibet.
We had several nights of eating dinner ashore with the families on Safaritu,
Bojangles IV, Lady. On one rainy afternoon we were introduced to Mexican train dominos with Jenny and Charlie. Everybody had some small wins and losses but Michael was victorious by a landslide on total points.
We decided to head on to Martinique. We would love to have spent more time here but the wind was in our favor and we did not have one more inch of space to keep soaking wet clothes.

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Isles des Saintes
04/28/2010

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The Saintes are a small group of French islands not to far off the southern coast of Guadeloupe. The main town of Bourg des Saintes is located on the island of Terre d'en Haut. This small town was filled during the day with hundreds of tourists from the ferry boats walking and exploring the island by scooter and quiet and almost deserted by night. There was not a crepe to be found on this French island, which was a disappointment to Michael and Tim, but fresh baked baguettes and a very busy ice cream shop were not far from the docks. As we explored the main town, we found more people here that could speak English than on Guadeloupe which made getting around much easier.
Not long after we found a spot to anchor, s/v Lady, with Charlie and Jenny aboard, arrived and anchored close by. We ran into each other in town and decided to have a drink and to catch up. The girls made plans to visit almost every shop on the main street later in the afternoon. We had a great time and even found some great buys.
We enjoyed the island by snorkeling the crystal clear waters around the Pain a Sucre, a 200-foot mini-piton with the boys and hiking to the top of the lookout tower, Le Chameau. This was a strenuous hike, that rose 1000 feet vertically on a paved road through the national park to the lookout tower for Fort Napoleon that was built in 1867. The hike up was very interesting. The garbage dump for the island is located on the backside of the park. All of the trash from the town was brought up by truck and dumped down the side of the island. They would burn some of the garbage and the remainder of the rubbish was pushed into the ocean. We found this quite interesting, "inside the park". The list of unburned items looked something like this: refrigerators, paper products, dead chickens, plastic bins, kayaks, stoves and you name it. The smell was something to be remembered. When we reached the top of the mountain, we climbed the rusty ladder to the lookout. There we enjoyed the amazing views and the blow drying of our sweat soaked clothes from the wind rushing up through the holes in the structure of the old building. All of the work to reach the top was worth the breathtaking views of the surrounding islands. You could see all of the Saintes and Guadeloupe. Another enjoyable walk we did was to the other side of the island. We had a peaceful walk through shaded streets while only being passed by a few cars to the Baie De Pompierre. This was a beautiful little cove and the locals youths were in full swing with weekend activities of music and sports .

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Guadeloupe
04/04/2010

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We arrived in the quaint fishing town of Deshaies and had an easy time clearing customs on a computer in an intenet shop called the Le Pelican located on the main street. The town is small and beautiful and looks like a picture on a postcard. The church in town tolls its bells on the hour during the day. We quickly discovered that being able to speak French would be very useful if not necessary here. This is our first time in the islands that English is not widely spoken. There were some locals that could speak some English and with our French for Cruisers Handbook and a lot of pointing we were able to get around pretty well. Our first night eating dinner was very time consuming looking up almost everything on the menu in the handbook until a waitress came on duty that had 5 years of English classes. Needless to say, things went much quicker and the next day she was nice enough to give some suggestions on what parts of the island to see by car. We did get a rental car for some inland touring. Guadeloupe is shaped like a lopsided butterfly and is very large. We headed south down the coast and stopped at some of the towns and beaches for a closer look. We drove through the capital of Basse Terre and headed back up the opposite coast toward Point A Pitre. As we headed back north, we drove on an interstate with speed limits up to 100km/hr. We haven't seen anything more than a two lane road in months. We drove through the rows and rows of crowded streets in the largest town in Guadaloupe, Point A Pitre. The streets are so narrow and packed with stores I don't know how you could find anything. The cars parked on the sides of the road all had scratches on them and mangled mirrors. The car in front of us even bumped a few making his way down the lanes. We headed back across the middle of this side of the island through the Basse Terre on the road called Route De La Traverse. We stopped to look at the waterfalls and would have taken a swim if it hadn't been so late in the day. We spent all day moving at a pretty good pace and only saw a little more than 1/4 of the island. We drove around the lower portion of one wing on the butterfly shape. In North Star, made our way down to Pigeon Island to dive the Cousteau Underwater Park. We anchored on the mainland and used the dinghies to get about 1 mile over to the small islands. We dove about 3/4 of the way around the island. The visibility was ok and the side of the island away from land was deeper and the coral more intact. This was a busy place filled with dive boats most of the day. We moved on toward Basse Terre, the capital to get provisions at a large grocery store called Cora. We did not realize they would be closed from Friday to Tuesday for Easter. We decided to head on to the Ilse de Saintes and worry with groceries in Dominica.

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Montserrat
04/04/2010

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We arrived in Little Bay, Montserrat with favorable winds and very little swell. We were lucky, the ash from the volcano was blowing off the island below us and more to the south east. When we left Montserrat the boat was just about as clean as when we arrived. We had planned to finally meet up with the s/v Shining Time. We had made several attempts to meet each other in the BVI's but were not able to be in the same harbour at the same time. We arrived in Montserrat within a few hours of each other, us from Antigua and them from Guadeloupe. We had a great dinner aboard Shining Time. The next day we planned a tour of volcano. In 1995, before the Soufriere Hills Volcano erupted, the population was 11,000. The capital was destroyed and afterward the air was constantly polluted. Many people left the island and the population is now closer to 5,000. In 2003 the dome collapsed and the threat seemed to be over. Many areas of the island reopened. In 2006, activity began again and some sort of event seems to be imminent. While we were in Antigua heavy rains fell and the dome collapsed again. We heard ash reached boats as far away as Guadeloupe. The land in the safe zones was very beautiful and green. We reached the observatory and watched a video of the volcanoes activities. We could see the volcano clearly but were still a good distance away from the peak. We drove down to an area near the beach where ash, water and rocks had buried homes up to the roofline. Our guide had photos of the area before and after the eruption and subsequent rainfalls.
We had lunch at a great little local spot, picked up some fresh fruit and vegetables and headed back to the boat. We had a great snorkel in the crystal clear waters. Steve found a beautiful yellow frogfish, several eels and on octopus. We cleaned up and headed over to Shining Time for another great meal. The remaining two boats in the anchorage joined us also. A young couple from England, basically on their honeymoon for one year had just caught a sailfish and had enough meat for a small army. The other boat was a working ship based out of the Caribbean but housed young men from Denmark that had been in some kind of trouble back home and they spent a year at sea. They had two students on board at the time. They had a few more students in the earlier months of their journey and were headed back home soon. We had a very nice evening enjoying the company of new friends. The next morning we said our goodbyes to Shining Time as they head back home in a few weeks. We hope we will see them on their journey next year. We sailed around the west side of Montserrat and then around the southern tip headed to Guadeloupe. This is where we could see the devastation to the town of Plymouth. The photos show the difference of the green mountains of the north and the dust-bowl look of the south.

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Falmouth Harbour, Antigua
03/22/2010

We left Jolly Harbour and made our way down the west coast of Antigua. On the southern end of the island we passed between the island and some very large reef structures to our south that actually stick up out of the water. The water here was an amazing color of blue and very clear. We motored into the large anchorage of Falmlouth Harbour. We spent several days checking out the sights on shore and eating at some of the restaurants. We did have a very enjoyable dinner on Pigeon Beach with several other boats in the anchorage: Lady, Elyssium, Estrella Del Mar and Fairhaven. One of the couples was from New Port Richey, Florida. Wow! To come all this way to meet someone from 30 minutes from Wesley Chapel. We also really enjoyed the Mad Mongoose. The prices were reasonable and everyone enjoyed their meal from a vegetable plate to fish. We were also able to use the internet. We spent one afternoon walking around Lord Nelson's Dockyard. This location on English Harbour was very picturesque and restoring of the old buildings seems to be an ongoing project. One of the old buildings housed some history of the area and military battles. We plan to move on to Montserrat in the next few days. We were looking over the islands we have left to cover between now and hurricane season and decided we need to keep moving.

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03/22/2010 | Peter Van Alstine
Hi Northstar. I was updating our blog and came upon yours! Glad to read that all is well. We are in Culebra now in a protected, calm anchorage. We highly recommend adding Dominica to your list of places to visit.
Christine and Crew
Jolly Harbour to Deep Bay, Antigua
03/16/2010

We left the lake like waters of Jolly Harbour and moved north a short distance to Five Islands Harbour. This area is a huge anchorage and has several beautiful and desolate beaches. We anchored just in front of the only hotel we saw, The Hermitage. This is a picturesque hotel with individual bungalows set in the side of the hill. Several larger boats came and went but there was so much room here we wern't close to any of them. We spent several days here and then moved another short distance north up the shore to Deep Bay. This bay is surrounded by cliff faces and a beautiful beach. The remains of Fort Barrington are on the north side of the anchorage and offered beautiful views of St. Johns, the salt pond just on the other side of the beach and the south shore. The Royal Antigual Hotel is located on the beach and is a sprawling resort complete with tennis courts, that appear to not have not been used in some time. We saw more than a dozen mongoose ( mongi, mongooses???) all over the resort. We hiked up to the top of Fort Barrington. At the top of the hill and past the fort ruins there was a patch of yellow flowers and there must have been 20 hummingbirds were fighting for or defending the perfect flower. We heard a crashing noise as they bounced off of each other. We are not sure what part of their bodies they were hitting but we sure heard the sound. We spent some time just wathcing and taking pictures. Right in the center of the entrance to the bay there is a wreck named the Andes that sticks up out of the water. It was a wooden boat that caught fire, burned and sank. We spent some time snorkeling here. Later that evening we hoisted the dinghy and realized we had a leak in the lower prop seals. We decided to head back to the calm waters of Jolly Harbour to tear apart the engine. We took the public bus back to St Johns, got the parts and got the engine back in working order all in one day! Wow, that doesn't happen very often. We will get a few projects done tomorrow and then probably head to the south end of the island.

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Nevis to Antigua
sunny and warm
03/07/2010, Jolly Harbour and St John's

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We left Charleston and headed around the southern end of Nevis and straight into some pretty big waves that we took over the bow. As we got further away from Nevis the waves settled down into a better rhythm and we made the crossing to Antigua. This was about 40 miles and took most of the day. We arrived in Jolly Harbour before sunset and picked up a mooring ball sheltered from the waves. This area is very protected and the water is as flat as a lake. We spent the first few days exploring Jolly Harbour, getting groceries and doing a few boat chores. Yesterday, Saturday, we used the public bus system to get to St. John's. The cost was only 13 EC's for four people each way, which is about $8 round trip, much less expensive than our last rental car experience. We explored the town with the local fish market, local produce and locals just selling whatever they had. We looked through the shops at Redcliffe Quay and Heritage Quay. There were roads and roads of endless shops. We went to St John's Cathedral at the end of town. It is over 150 years old and had a sign posted on the door stating that a church member was injured on a cracked floor and they have had to recently close the building. The congregation is trying to raise $10 million dollars for repairs to the Church.
We have been reading about Antigua and have found it has 365 beaches and many anchorages. I think this is a place you could spend quite some time exploring. We will probably move the boat to another anchorage in the next few days.

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Nevis February 2010
03/05/2010

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We have changed the way our blog is arranged. Photos will now be seen in the photo gallery and arranged by island or event. Please be sure to check this out. We wanted to be able to post more photos and this will allow more of a gallery instead of just a few snap shots. We are also trying to keep updated the position on the map. Click on the map to see the longitude and latitude of where we are.

We left St. Kitts and made the short sail to Nevis. We picked up a mooring ball outside of the main town of Charleston, cleared customs and picked up the rental car. It was late afternoon when we arrived and we decided to make a sunset trip around the island. Small and local run shops and businesses seem to be the norm. We did see a speedway on the windward side of the island and saw in a brochure they have horse racing.
We found a great place for lunch on Sunday. We headed up through Gingerland to a place called Golden Rock Estate. It is an old estate built in the 1950's. It has recently been renovated and the grounds with the landscaping, colors view were spectacular. It is one of my favorites so far. We had a great lunch surrounded by beautiful flowers and a great view. We could see Redonda but not the neighboring island today. We toured the grounds after lunch and went for a walk on one of the trails. There were monkeys in the trees all around the hotel and restaurant. The trail was full of aerial roots that hung down onto the path. The inn is spread out on 96 acres. We spent the rest of the afternoon driving around the island. We drove to the property of The Hermitage. They have several Belgian horses on the grounds and acres of homes high up in the hills.

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03/06/2010 | Elane Huprich
Sounds like a great place. Loved the photos. We miss you. ll is well here.
02/28/2010

Brimstone Hill

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