Sunday, February 21, 2016

Safe and Sound, Back in Antigua

Our trip back from Dominica consisted of a 20 mile run to Les Saintes, a 30 mile run to Deshaies and then a 40 mile run to Jolly Harbour in Antigua.  At each of the stops we had a great time, saw nice folks and had great walks.  During each of the voyages, Pam gritted her teeth and stared at the mast, convinced that it was going to come crashing down.

We travelled on low wind days and only put up a little jib to stabilize.  Yan Diesel performed brilliantly and got us here without incident.

Sundowners in Deshaies with Quest (guests Mike and Diana), Windswept Dreams and Azaya

Security at the grocery store

To the beach

Great beach restaurants

Ed and Ann from Windswept Dreams



Banana Quits

Beautiful beach with huge rollers

Graveyard at the end of the hike - full of dead hikers

The hikers - Sunkissed, Blue Pearl, Windswept Dreams, Haven and Harmonium
Ed and Ann told us about this cool hike up and over a hill at the end of the beach.  Ed said it was a scramble but doable.  So we did it.  Just about killed us.  It was only 200 meters in altitude but straight up and rocky.  Of course it started to rain so it was slippery, too.

Icy drink and an icy knee

Martin and Caroline visiting for the day

Anchored very close - French of course

Murphy the dinghy fending off
Family photo
Our German kids from last year are settled into jobs at home in Germany and are taking their first vacation... so back down to the Caribbean to visit friends they made during their Atlantic crossing.  They went out of their way to come and visit us... great to see them!!

More mahi for dinner

Yay, Azaya is here
This is why Pam has to go home!

So Pam is getting ready to go home.  I'm starting to fuss about the boat.  I've got a plan - hoping to live on the boat while the work gets done.  If it gets too ugly I've got options.  Several boat friends have offered a bed and there is a guesthouse near North Sound Marina.  Jolly Harbour would be a better place for groceries and transportation but we really liked Leon the fiberglass guy at North Sound so we are going there.

I'll keep you up to date!

Will take lots of photos. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Time to Go

Time to leave Dominica.  There is a moderate-wind day tomorrow which will allow us to get up to Les Saintes.  We’ll hang around there and visit with Quest and then hug the shelter of the coast of Guadeloupe to get us up to Deshaise.  We'll stage from there to get back to Antigua.

We love this place.  Might be our favourite island.
Royally great lunch with Azaya at the Sawarma King


Seabird cooking at the PAYS BBQ

Yay!!!  Virtue and Vice

Cooling down at the Roti shack

Carnival parade.. such as it was

Shane and Mickie

Phil introduced himself.  His dad lives in Surrey near Guilford.  No, really!

Not really sure what to say about this...

Fixer-upper.  You could get it cheap!

Old gas pump.  Collectors back home would love this!

Copper rum cauldrons - just sitting beside the road.
The last few days have been really great!  Even though Azaya deserted us a couple of days ago, Mickie and Shane from “Virtue and Vice” came in.  Lovely couple… we always have fun with them.  We kind of bonded with them during our time in Luperon at the beginning of our Caribbean Adventure.

We had fun at “Carnaval” - which consisted of two trucks piled with massive speakers belching out some kind of sound.  BUT, we ate road-kill and drank lots of beer so it was fun.  Met Phil whose dad lives in Surrey, 30 miles from home.  He says he is coming to visit this summer.  Might even make it to the Pig Roast!

Breakfast this morning - mango, baby bananas and passion fruit

From the set of Pirates of the Caribbean - home of the witch.


Jelly Man - coconut entrepreneur

Rum punch

Where's the bus?

Jelly Man is up there somewhere

More rum punch - Jack, Gene, me and Dinosaur

Indian River Crew

Xanadu and Moody Blues

Indian River Bridge

Getting some "bush medicine" advice from Dinosaur
When we chartered down here years ago with our kids we took an “Indian River Tour” which turned out to be a bit of a bust.  A guy poles you a mile down a river in a river boat, you get to a shack and have some bad food and… that’s it!  So we’ve been resisting but today, along with Xanadu (Jack and Linda from Toronto) and Moody Blues (Gene and Suzie from Friday Harbor) we caved and did the tour.  AND, it was really good.  This time we had a great walk through the forest and then into a local farm.  Had some dynamite rum punch and learned all about the local bush medicine.  Our guide, Sammy (AKA Dinosaur) was awesome.  Started out quiet.  Maybe a little shy... but by the time we got to the grotto he'd found his voice and was great.  Then, we had a couple of rum punches and you couldn't get a word in edgewise.  Highly recommend Dinosaur.

So we are enjoying our sundowners, putting off getting the boat ready for our trip tomorrow… AND GUESS WHAT?  There’s a whale in the harbour.  Right close to the boats.  No, really!  And then this awesome sunset!

So we’re going to post this, stow the dinghy, put everything away and tomorrow morning we are back to France (Ilse des Saintes.)  YAY French wine, cheeses, baguettes, weird animal pate, mussels and speaking french. 

Good thing we are fluent and can enjoy scintillating conversations with the locals!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Dominica Days

Yesterday was incredibly windy - 20 to 25 knots with gusts to 35.  So for most of the day we just hunkered down on the boat.  During a lull Azaya came over for a visit in their kayak so we spent the afternoon yakking.

Anyway, we started to think about all the stuff we've been doing so... better write it down!

The day after we got here one of the PAYS guys, Alexis, had arranged to take a couple on a tour to show them some of the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Erica this summer.  The couple, Clair and Mago from Macario, is hoping to do some humanitarian work here on the island and Alexis thought they might have some ideas on how to help the local farmers.  So 10 of us crowded into Alexis' van and we took off for the day.

Washed out by the torrents of rain

Mixed farming - this is callilou/dasheen


Farmer's workshed

Waiting for the meeting of the farmers


Scoured out by the river

Washed away
Saw the mixed farming going on... but Alexis says that the farmers are discouraged since they don't have access to larger markets and infrastructure is falling apart. So the farms are being neglected and the farmers are depressed.

There is a farming area here called Syndicate.  Not sure why it is called that... something out of the past? We met with the farmers from there.  Makes sense that the Syndicate farmers should be the Syndicate Farmers Cooperative.  Or just maybe... wait for it...  the Syndicate Farmers Syndicate?

They talked about the need to work cooperatively to try to get things done.  The general mood was that they need to spearhead the group and then choose a few attainable projects that would give them momentum to tackle some of the larger problems.  It was a privilege to listen to them working to solve their problems.

Anyway... later in the day we saw all the washouts caused by the raging rivers from Erica's rain.  Quite a mess for a poor country to have to fix up.  Before Erica these rivers flowed lazily through tropical forests making for tourist paddle tours and lovely back yards.  It's a mess that will take years to recover from.
Got back just in time to get cleaned up and have a drink before heading into the PAYS BBQ.

Our man Seabird (Jeffrey)
Mary Clare and Axel from Azaya

Fish - and then back for chicken

Very professional group of guys
We spend lots of evenings with guests on our boat or as guests on other cruisers' boats watching the sunsets.  We've learned that the much-talked-about Green Flash is quite a disappointing green blip as the sun finally dips into the ocean.  We were expecting something quite a bit more explosive.

Azaya next to us in the neighbourhood

Tall ships at sunset

One day last week we watched a Norwegian flagged Bavaria 44 named Lea come in, captained and crewed by a group of young Norwegian women.  I think they might have come over on the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) from Europe to St. Lucia.  The captain showed great skill as she picked a spot, maneuvered into position and dropped the anchor... with no help from the crew.  Right beside us!!  After setting the anchor she leaped into the water and snorkeled to check that she was happy with it all.  For the next few days we (mostly me) watched them cavort about in their tiny bathing suits; laughing, swimming, and generally having too much fun,  Sadly, they left after only 2 days.  Pam thinks they would have stayed longer if I'd have stared a little less.

Lea - crewed by lady Vikings... Vikettes?
When Azaya arrived here in Portsmouth they were accompanied by  about 5 boats that they'd met down the island chain.  We have joined them for some of their adventures and on other days they take off as a group.  On one of those days when the Azaya group was gone, Maureen from "A Good Day" came around the harbour, knocking on hulls inviting boaters to a Cruisers Potluck.  We joined about 20 others for salads, lionfish, tuna, pork tenderloin, pizza and topped it all off with brownies.  Yumm!  Lots of great stories... lots of great food.

Landscaping the PAYS building

Cruisers Potluck

Antonio wearing a Yale Lions t-shirt.  Wonder where he got that?
So it's time to start thinking about getting back to Antigua so we can take care of the damaged chainplates on the lovely Blue Pearl.  We are looking to leave here on Thursday, apparently a low-wind day.  We'll head up to Les Saintes and then on the next low-wind day head to Deshaise at the north end of Guadeloupe.  We are hoping to cross paths with our German children from last year - crossing our fingers that we can make a familentreffen  ("family reunion" for you non-German speakers) work in Guadeloupe.  Also looking forward to connecting back up with Quest.

Pam will be flying home February 25th while I stay and watch the chainplate process.

It's time to go ashore and make arrangements to watch the Superbowl.  I wonder how that will work?

Go Panthers!