Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Martinique to St. Lucia

We bounced down the coast of Martinique, skipping the big city port of Fort de France, stopping at Anse d'Arlet, Marin and St. Anne.  Anse d'Arlet was a rest stop so we didn't do much.  Then we had to beat east into the Marin area.  

Diamond Rock

Cul de Sac de Marin is an enormous yachting centre.  There are 5 or 6 charter companies based out of here so there are all kinds of services for boats.  The chandleries are well stocked and the grocery stores are a delight.  We spent the day exploring and shopping.  Bought several types of french box-wine so we are well stocked for our last month on the boat.  Our anchorage wasn't appealing for swimming so we moved over to St. Anne for our last evening in Martinique.

Quite a few masts
Marina docks
Way better to have one of these in your lunch than a juice box.

St. Anne is a beautiful beach-side village with lots of quaint restaurants.  We committed to going to a restaurant - mainly because we often balk when we see the prices.  The place we chose had a wonderful live band of old guys, singing wonderful songs, including a tango.  We wanted to dance to it but we chickened out, worried that we had forgotten the steps.  Dang!

The restaurant was everything we expected.  The band packed up after half an hour and the wait staff disappeared.  But there was great people watching and we had a lot of fun, laughing about the poor service and lousy food.  

We will need to come back to Martinique next year and spend more time exploring the island.  Maybe rent a car and do a tour.

The beautiful Blue Pearl
Yummm - octopus stew, a lump of white rice and an indescribable vegetable compote

Our sail to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia was spectacular.  As usual, the wind we experienced was twice what was predicted and the seas were HUGE.  But we had a reef in the main and so we stayed mostly upright and did the 22 miles in less than 3 hours.  Not bad!

We ran into Serenity, our cruising buddies from last year and enjoyed a great reunion drinking rum and playing the guitar!  Glen is spectacular on the guitar when he has been drinking.

The camera we bought last year packed it in so we jumped on the local bus and went into the cruise ship dock in Castries to buy a new one.  Had a great adventure walking through the town from the bus stop to the docks and stopped for obligatory beers and a terrific lunch.  Today we decided to varnish and do laundry so, of course the skies clouded over and we were hit with a deluge.  So, wet laundry and no varnish.

Murphy the Dinghy is in for minor surgery so we will hang out here in the bay for a couple of days before heading to Marigot and then to Bequia.  According to our cruising guide, author James Michener claimed that Marigot Bay is the nicest bay in all of the Caribbean.  The 60s movie Doctor Doolittle was filmed there.  

The Marigot to Bequia leg is 50 miles so we will try to get an early start.  We will be arriving in Bequia in the middle of Regatta - not sure if that is a good idea.  We'll see.

Dead camera - by New camera
Rinsing off the soap from a deck lather
Fruit and veggie vendor

Friday, March 22, 2013

St. Pierre and Mount Pelée

We arrived in St. Pierre, Martinique on Wednesday and had a lazy afternoon.  Thursday, we went into town, checked-in at customs and then had a look around.  Fortunately, Glen speaks French fluently and so we have no problems communicating with the locals.  We checked out the museum and the remains of a really classy theatre, built around 1775.  We had a hot walk with Susan, Lee and Bennett from Alberta Clipper a couple of miles up to the Depaz Rhum Distillery.  Great tour and a little tasting.  Really sweltering.

Market near the town dock
Not as hot, though, as May 8, 1902 when Mount Pelée erupted and blew hot gases and ash down on the town.  Incinerated the 30,000 people who lived here.  Three survivors; a girl who was found adrift in a boat, a guy deep in a prison cell and another guy on the outskirts of town.  Burned and sank 12 ships in the harbour.  That was a good day NOT to be in St. Pierre.

View from the top of the Fort
Remains of the Fort

Remains of the church
Mount Pelée in the clouds
Rum barrels at Depaz
Depaz water wheel generated 6 HP
This 325 HP steam engine used to pump water to the fountains at Versailles
Roadside lunch
Off to Grande Anse d'Arlet and points south.  We will skip Fort de France this trip and save it to explore some other time.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Woooo hoooo Dominca!!!  (Dom-in-eeka)

Adventure cruise ship in Portsmouth
We cruised into Portsmouth and looped around looking for a good spot to anchor.  On our first loop we noticed a boat from Vancouver, made a mental note and then went on to anchor nearby.  On our way to Customs, we stopped by the boat.  "Vancouver? Actually Saltspring Island.  Oh, we're from Abbotsford.  Oh?  We lived there for 25 years before we moved to Saltspring."

Turns out, the Bishop/McIntyres are retired Abbotsford doctors (now winery owners) and weirder, their son, David, was a student at our school while Glen and Pam worked there.  She used to attend our Parent Advisory Council Meetings.  Thankfully, he was a good student so we all had good memories of our connection!!!  There are other parents that we would prefer not to meet.

We were invited for sundowners on their boat - but we had an important mission that couldn't be compromised.

Our dear friend Brianna has a friend Jeevan who is attending Ross Medical School in Dominica and we had made arrangements to meet with him and tour his locale.

So at 2PM, we met with Jeevan and he took us to Ross.  Now, as you can guess by his name, Jeevan is normally more brown that we are... but at all the security stations we were asked if we were his parents and it just got easier to say yes.  BUT NO, we are not sending him an allowance!!!

We had a lovely time with Jeevan... cool guy.   The university is VERY impressive.  It was a Saturday - no classes - but the classrooms, labs and library were jammed with folks pouring over lecture materials and notes.  Jeevan tells us that the average age of students is about 27 so they are a mature group.  There are about 90% from the US and 10% from Canada - probably some others areas as well.  The facilities are first rate with High Def TVs everywhere, wifi, etc.  The cadaver lab was amazing... and spooky.  Someone could film a great sci-fi movie here.

We spent some time in some of the student bars but it was obvious that Jeevan had given up some valuable study time to be our tour guide so we gave up on buying him dinner and instead had a few beers and appies and headed back to the boat for an early night.

Go Canucks!!!

Ross Football field
View from Champs of Portsmouth

Killer wings at Tomatos

Sunday is the local "Boat Boy" BBQ and so we did boat chores until happy hour.  We enjoyed learning about vistas south from "Spray" - our doctor/vintner friends until it was time to boogey.

The BBQ is a highlight!  There is a great rum punch - this rum punch is a lot more than juice - lots of PUNCH.  We met with "Jalan Jalan" - Jean and Wayne from Ontario on an IP 485.  Very fun couple and they have connections in BC and Alberta - maybe we will see them there in the summers.  The DJ was having a difficult time getting cruisers to dance... so, having spent years honing our ballroom dancing techniques, we tried doing the foxtrot to "Get up, Stand up. Stand up for your rights."  We thought we were outstanding.

Portsmouth Area Yacht Services BBQ

Captains exchanging techniques

Hey Buddy... down here...  Can you spare a wing?

Michael Jackson puts a move on Billy-Jean
So with fuzzy heads (at least one of us) and a late start, we moved down to Roseau to stage for Martinique.  We got ourselves organized at Sea Cats on his mooring balls close in to shore.  This island is steep-to...  that is, it is 200 feet deep until right before the shore.  So we will sleep more comfortably knowing we are  well hooked.

Not a bad rainbow!

Desmond guides us to Sea Cat's moorings
We hiked in to Roseau to have a look.  We could have taken the dinghy in closer to town but we needed the exercise and it was fun to check out the businesses and houses on the road leading into the town.  We got rained on a couple of times and just as we got into town it was like a vacuum had sucked all of the air.  It was stiflingly hot and no breeze.  So obviously time to check out a bar in one of the restored brick buildings.  The buildings in the town are quite impressive.  Great huge thick stone and brick walls designed to withstand hurricanes.

This has survived hurricanes???
This one didn't
Had a farewell dinner with Jan and Richard at the Westport Tavern near Sea Cat's.  WOW.  Great food and terrific prices.  We had lionfish - which is a non-native species invading the Caribbean waters.  Agressive fishing is needed to discourage it's prolific growth - so we pitched in and did our part.  It was delicious.

There is a West Indies vs Zimbabwe cricket match on Wednesday that would be a unique experience.   We would be with Limeys (Jan and Richard from Morpheus) who could explain what is going on.  (Stickey wicket - what, right?) I think these matches take several weeks, don't they?

However, we are starting to feel the pinch for time so we will head off for Martinique in the morning.
We are trying again for a rendezvous with cousin Duane... we'll see if that works.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Des Saintes

We left Deshais, Guadeloupe Wednesday morning for a 32 mile run to Des Saintes, still part of Guadaloupe.  It was kind of a weird trip.  We had no wind for an hour, light wind for an hour, great wind for an hour, no wind for an hour and then when we rounded the lower left wing of butterfly-shaped Guadeloupe we got hit in the face by 30 knot winds.  It took us an hour and a half to do the 8.5 miles and when we got here the boat was covered in salt.

We spent some time tidying up and then enjoyed a quiet evening on the boat watching the goings on.
Mountainous Basse Terre
Captain Glenny
Lighthouse at lower left corner of butterfly-Guadeloupe
Snorkelers are going nuts getting up close and personal with the two dolphins that teasingly swim around. 
Because Glen can speak fluent Dolphin, he was able to call him over.
Next morning we set out to reconointer.  We remember the boutique nature of this lovely place from our charter trip here in 1999.  The ferries come in every morning and drop folks off for the day or perhaps a weekend.  There are beach bars and restaurants everywhere and little shops selling art, fashions and groceries.  Neat place.

Cool sign!

Boat shaped house

Cool streets

Colourful houses
We took the big hike up to Fort Napoleon, more than 350 feet up the hill.  Great views and a pretty interesting museum and surrounding gardens.

Fort Napoleon on top
Can you spot Blue Pearl?
Fort Museum
By noon we were hot and tired so what a good idea to have lunch at the Les Pied Dans L'eau restaurant.  Pam had cod fritters that approached Don's special recipe (but didn't meet) at BIMPYs.  Glen had some weird assortment of marinated fish and various fish salads.  Mmmmmmm!

What a view!
Visitors to our home will have seen the model shuttered door hanging in our living room.  It is a creation of Pascal Foy, a local artiste.  We had read about him back in the late 90s and visited him back then to purchase the door.  We visited again this time to see the new direction his art is taking him - using weird bits and pieces in his collages to make a statement.  He pointed out a large piece - a black piece of luggage chained to a backdrop showing bare foot prints.  He struggled with our limited French and his limited English to tell us that it was to depict the slavery that went on back in the 17th century.

Foy's workshop and gallery
Today we walked over to the other side of the island to look at the airport and the big beach... Grand Anse.  Looks beautiful but apparently vary dangerous with wild currents and undertoad.

Afternoon beers ashore, then Beef Dip with Greek salad on the boat.  An early night so we can get a good start in the morning.

We are headed for Dominca next.  When we were in Dominica in 1999, we were met by a "boat-boy" as soon as we sailed into the harbour.  Whoever gets to your boat first becomes your concierge for the time you are on the island and you are expected to make it worth his while.  It can be a nuisance elsewhere but these guys in Dominca have made it into an art form appreciated by most boaters.  They put on a massive all-you-can-eat BBQ on Sunday nights so we will leave here tomorrow so we can make the Sunday BBQ.

We are also looking forward to seeing Jeevan - a friend from back home who is going to med school at Ross University near Portsmouth.  Very cool.

Looking forward to enjoying some time in Dominica (Dom in eeka.)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bonjour Deshaies

We had a great run down to Deshaies (Day ay - or in Canadian - Day eh.)  We got up at 6:00 AM and were on our way out of the Falmouth Harbour, Antigua by 6:15.  We are sorry that cousin Duane and family were not able to make the connections to join us.

Before we left we met Glenn and Sylvie on Gemma's Inspiration - and guess what?  They live right in our back yard in British Columbia.  So they are a definite summer's visit when we head up to BIMPYs (if you don't know, you don't need to) in Pender Harbour.  We are hoping to connect with them again as we work our way south.

The 42 miles took just under 7 hours.  Gary Garmin tells us we averaged 6.5 knots on the trip.  The wind was just aft of the beam so it was a little bumpy but it was a great ride!  We put out two fishing lines but we were only able to tangle them together... we are not much of a threat to the fish population here.

Home Land Security and Canada Border Services could take a lesson from the French.  We rode into town in the dinghy, tied up and cleared in at a tourist shop.  Pam wanted to buy 5 Euro hula girl earrings that cost more than our clearance.  Glen sat at a computer and entered our info, the guy wasn't interested in looking at our passports... printed the clearance forms... Glen signed and Bob's your uncle (actually he is - Uncle Bob!)

So we walked around the town - Glen was tempted by the box rum, what an interesting deviation from  box wine.  Bought some Leffe beer at the grocery store and headed back to the boat for an early evening.

We are off to Des Saintes tomorrow.  When we chartered here in 1998 we spent time at these places.  Des Saintes was special so we will spend a few days there before heading off to Dominica.

Our closest approach to Montserrat - about 20 miles

This must be a good place!

You sell food on the street? - well then we'd better try some!
Customs - really, this is where you clear in!!!

Box Rum
More box rum