Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Grenada to Trinidad

We had a wonderful sail from Carriacou down the east coast of Grenada on June 16th. We anchored in Prickly Bay off a lovely beach. Our friends and ourselves rented cars and spent a day touring the island. Grenada is a lush and hilly island and grows most of the world's nutmeg along with many other spices. We visited an organic chocolate factory powered by solar panels and a traditional rum
distillery. Our guide book had recommended a beautiful restaurant at the north end of the island but when we finally found it, it wasn't in service. I guess we should have realized there was something wrong when we couldn't find any signs. Still we toured the grounds and took pictures. We pulled into a very small local eatery starved to death and happily surprised the cook/owner by ordering eight full meals. The whole family got into rustling us up some food.

The capital St. George is built on steep hills around a small protected harbour lined with stone quays and fishing boats. Grenada was hit by two Hurricanes in a row after fifty years without one and suffered greatly. We saw lots of signs of recovery but there is still much destruction. The three large churches on top of the hills in town still lack roofs. I've included a series of photos showing some of the damage. At the bottom a forlorn couple sit in a charming little house with no roof or windows..We were so impressed with this lovely island and its' people that six of us decided to fly back from Trinidad in August for the Carnival. We made reservations at a small motel right on the parade route.

At 6PM we sailed off south for an overnight trip to Trinidad. It was a squally night and there were a lot of big ships moving around the channel from the off shore oil rigs so it was quite stressful. Scott and I didn't get much rest. That next morning, 4.5 miles from the Boca Channel and the Trinidad coast, we collided with a small fishing boat. This was the worst experience of our trip so far (hope nothing comes that tops it).
The visibility was poor with 6 ft rollers, there was a 2.5 knot current sweeping us sideways (so we were going a different way than it looked) and the fisherman's outboard was not working. Luckily no one was hurt and we were able to tow the boat into Trinidad with us. That's he and his 22' boat below with Scott in the dinghy when we brought him back.
Chaguaramas Bay where we checked into customs and our marina, Crew's Inn, was a major base for us during the last world war and over 30, 000 Americans used to live here. There were major shipyards among other facilities. It is now a national park, which aims at combining park areas with eco-friendly economic activities. We were pleasantly surprised at how pretty the bay is - densely vegetated hills on three sides and a group of small islands on the other. It had been a long night and day since we'd left Grenada and we were relieved to be tied up at the dock at the marina about 7 PM
We only had a few days before flying back to the States for five weeks visiting family and friends. We met with a number of contractors and took our sails down to be cleaned and repaired. Roland and Kathleen on "M'Lady Kathleen" had volunteered to keep an eye on our boat
while we were gone and security is excellent at the marina so we left feeling comfortable. Our visit home was wonderful but rushed by so quickly. Still we got to see almost everyone, our three sons, Scott's dad and brother, and my sister - plus of course all our closest friends. Highlights included a big Fourth of July weekend in Vermont and a trip down to Washington DC. We flew out to California for the last week to see our daughter Zoe and family and then flew back directly from there. When we return home in December we will have two more grandchildren - Josh and Michal are having their third, another daughter, and Zoe and George are having their second, another son.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Just a reminder that these photos can be better seen by clicking on the image and enlarging it!
We left the next morning at 6 AM and again had a lovely sail - not as rough but plenty of wind down to Tyrell Bay in Carriacou. We're really moving now and skipping some incredible cruising territory - the Grenadines, including the Tobago Cays, which we will enjoy next November. We had decided to spend some time here and get some boat chores done and just relax. Another wave was on it's way bringing more squalls and this is a very protected spot. Old and new friends were there in the harbor too so we had lots of socializing over the next week. Scott bought oysters from a fellow and enjoyed them so much that he made it a daily ritual! Above you can see them and the oysters ready to consume.

The main reason for the longer stay though was really to get Scuba PADI certifications. We went in and spoke to Connie and Georg at Arawak Divers the next morning. It would take four days but unfortunately my high blood pressure prevented me from taking the course until I could speak to my doctor and get a letter. Scott however had a wonderful and hard-working four days and finished off the last day with two dives in a row. He saw turtles, manta rays and most unusual - a yellow sea horse. It curled it's tail around his finger! And of course he saw lots of fish, coral, underwater canyons etc. I went along and snorkeled - and saw my first shark (and if it were up to me, my last).

We did a lot of walking on the island. One day we went to Paradise Beach, which we had to ourselves, brought a picnic and swam. Ten of us also hired a very nice
guide, Philip, and he drove us all over the island. The views from the hill overlooking the east side of the island was spectacular.
We also visited the boat building town Windward. There I had an interesting chat with a local man and his huge machete (I'm sorry it's not visable in the picture of him below!) One day and night we hunkered down in the boat (Scott did go out for his scuba lessons) while it poured and blew. Luckily we have lots of good books on board.
We arrived on Carriacou on June 9 and left June 15 at 7 AM with "Nereia", "Casa del Mar", and "M'Lady Kathleen". The seas had calmed down and so had the wind: it was a motor sail down through a group of little islands to the south end of Grenada at Prickley Bay. Here we anchored off yet one more lovely beach and had the small bluefish Scott had caught on the trip for lunch.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Martinique to Bequia

Scott and I left Anse Mitan, Martinique at 5 AM, before the sunrise but with good light. Our friends on "Que Rico" had overslept (seen here the night before!) so we circled them and beeped the horn until they appeared. With the music and fireworks going till 4 am ashore, no one got a good night, but it wasn't long before we saw their sails behind us. It was calm until we left the lee of the island and entered the channel. We had 15 - 20 knots of wind and 5 - 8 foot swells both from the east. This wasn't that bad as we were on a beam reach, a very comfortable point of sail, and the swells were far enough apart and regular so our boat mainly rose and fell with the waves - altogether a nice brisk sail - and a short one as we tied up to the marina at 10:15 AM.
The Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia is a very inexpensive but nice place to spend some time. A colorful flag draped boat cruises the harbor each morning with fresh vegetables and fruits - very convienent! A tropical wave was coming through the next few days bringing gusty winds and rain (we clocked 38 knots max during it) and it was nice to be tied up to a dock. It had a pool which we used everyday, several nice restaurants, a good book exchange, and a laundry service. Do it yourself laundries haven't existed since the U.S. Virgin Islands. We drop off our laundry and get it back all folded, for a mostly reasonable price - about $8 a load.
There were a lot of boats here that we knew, including "Lioness III", another boat we left Georgetown with and hadn't seen since April 4. We had a big pot luck at the pool one night and exchanged visits with another Nauticat 43 "Woodfield II" John and Dee King from England - a delightful couple that gave us lots of information and advice about the countries ahead of us. They've been in the Caribbean for 17 years and were headed back to the Med this summer.
After two nights at the Marina we left at 10:15 AM for an easy sail down to Soufriere Town in the south of St. Lucia.

We picked up moorings off the beach in the shadow of Petit Piton, one of two dramatic towering thin mountains that rise up directly from the sea here, both around 2500 feet. We had a lovely early dinner and wine sitting in our cockpit with the wonderful view and sunset. We went right to bed afterwards because at 3 AM all five boats dropped our moorings and headed out to sea, the still visibly looming pitons against the stars. It was windy and rough again in the channel but the boat handled so well, under reefed sails but averaging over 7 knots -
very exhilarating. We had to turn the motor on for a while in the lee of St. Vincent as the wind alternated between howling through the mountain passes and dead calm when directly behind them. By this time it was light out and we enjoyed the beautiful green coast of the island. Next fall we will stop there and see it but now we have to make tracks. Once into the next channel the waves were wild again but the wind steadier. We had been warned to take our sails down before entering Admiralty Bay in Bequia gusts of wind up to 38 knots hit us as we rounded Devil's Table.
Due to this, we spent a bit of time anchoring and made sure we were well dug in. This lovely big bay is surrounded by white beaches and a charming red roofed town, Port Elizabeth (view from the town). We were off Princess
Margaret Beach among many boats. This is a popular spot for cruisers. We found our friends Luis and Natalia from "Vagamundo" here and spent the next day with them. We had breakfast at a small cafe and then walked up to the fort for a beautiful view followed by an exploration of the town. Several craft artists have studios and shops here. One makes beautiful boat models, shown here. Our friends from "Dreamtime" arrived and came over for the evening. We won't see these two boats and "Diesel Duck" until we return in August to Trinidad because we need to make tracks south. We have plane reservations home in late June from Trinidad.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Touring Martinique

The next morning at 6 AM we were all off to sail down the coast to Roseau, the capital. Another boat boy, Rudy, showed us all to moorings, $10 a boat for the night. The town was very lovely and we walked all around and enjoyed some cold beers. It was a quiet night for all and an early start again in the morning for Martinique. It was a rough crossing with 15 - 20 knots of wind and 6 - 8 foot waves, but a good point of sail - beam reach - so it was fun. Once in the lee of the island it all calms down and we enjoyed the scenery down to Anse Mitan, our next anchorage. Above right that's Mt. Pelee off in the distance. Que Rico and ourselves managed to squeeze into the crowded bay but the others continued on down the coast a ways. They were anxious to get into the Rodney Bay marina in St. Lucia for much needed repair work and rest the following morning.

Que Rico and ourselves rented a car for a day and drove through the spine of the island, down into jungle forests and up along the crests of the mountains. Above left is a path through a state park we hiked there. Beautiful flowers were everywhere as you can see from a few of my pictures. That lovely green and white foliage hides a pink pineapple growing. Along the road we stopped at a charming restaurant in a garden and had the "plat de jour" - very reasonable for a delicious meal. Scott and I both had French in school but it was very rusty. Very few people admitted to speaking English, but they were very polite and didn't grimace at our accents.

Our goal was the state park at Mt. Pelee where a well used trail goes up to the crater. Despite multiple very serious warning signs over days in advance, the people in that part of Martinique refused to abandon their homes and business and in 1906 the mountain exploded and killed all but two people in the town and neighborhood of Saint Pierre at it's base. One was in jail and the other in a work room basement. The former, Ludger Sylbaris, became quite famous for surviving and was later pardoned. Around 30,000 people perished! Mt. Pelee is 4,582 feet high and unfortunately we started hiking too late in the day to make it to the top. Mist closed in on us as we climbed higher, but the views across the island were great.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Dominica to Martinique

Scott was very impressed with Martin's prowess with the machete and decided to get one for himself. He looked at several in the small town and thinking the larger one looked rather immense, he indicated the smaller version. The woman looked at him like he was completely nuts and informed us that a real man would only have the big one. Well of course we have
a very large machete on board! The town is rather charming but simple as you can see here; the men gather to chat, drink or play dominos while the women shop, clean, cook and mind the children. Actually no one seems to work very hard here. The beaches belong to the people. Their homes have the best views not the resort and tourists. Martin described lots of parties, barbeques
and get togethers as a regular occurence. Ecologically sound developement is their hope for the island - very low rise. We're crossing our fingers for them.
One sign of the country's lack of funds is the wrecks from long past storms that remain on the beaches. This one here is right in the center of the town.
Late the next afternoon we heard familiar voices on the VHF radio.
"Casa del Mar", "Nereia" and "M'Lady Kathleen" were sailing south near us. We called and invited them for dinner. We hadn't seen the first two since Rum Cay in the Bahamas. They were a part of our small group that left Georgetown together but they got caught in the Turks and Caicos by bad weather and had remained behind us the whole way south. "M'Lady Kathleen" we got to know in Annapolis, MD and hadn't seen since! Email kept us all in touch.
By the time they arrived it was dark and we put all our lights on and talked them in on the radio. "M'Lady Kathleen" was having problems with her engine and had to ghost in on a very light breeze. In the Caribbean the winds die with the sun.
It was a terrific reunion and dinner aboard our boat and the next night we all went out for dinner at the Purple Turtle restaurant on the beach. When we stopped in the morning to tell them we were coming (10 people eating dinner in this location is an unusual occurance), we weren't sure what to expect, but they served a great meal.
Those are lobster tails, grilled, shown here and they tasted as good as they looked. Jaime took the group shot at the top of this page so that's Scott, Heather and Dan on top and Linda & Mike from "Casa" with Kathleen and Roland from "M'Lady" on the bottom. Jaime is then showed with Dan and Linda. Paul and Cheryl had dinner with us but were missing when we took this photo.
The next morning at 6 AM we were all off to sail down the coast to Roseau, the capital. Another boat boy, Rudy, showed us all to moorings, $10 a boat for the night. The town was very lovely and we walked all around and enjoyed some cold beers. It was a quiet night for all and an early start again in the morning for Martinique. It was a rough crossing with 15 - 20 knots of wind and 6 - 8 foot waves, but a good point of sail - beam reach - so it was fun. Once in the lee of the island it all calms down and we enjoyed the scenery down to Anse Mitan, our next anchorage. Que Rico and ourselves managed to squeeze into the crowded bay but the others continued on down the coast aways. They were anxious to get into the marina

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Portsmouth, Dominica

We left Les Saintes after filling up our water tanks at a buoy off the beach. It holds up the end of the hose! The winds were right on the nose as we motor sailed down to Portsmouth, Dominica. The waves diminished as we came into the lee of the island and the first of the "boat boys", Ravioli, greeted us quite a way out from the anchorage. These young men make their living guiding and assisting cruisers while they visit Dominica (this is also true of St. Vincent, which we hadn't visited on the way south).
Our guidebook had recommneded Martin on "Providence" so we called him on the VHF. He is one of the leaders of the Indian River Guides, an organization that has made this group more professional and easier for cruisers to deal with. They also patrol the harbor, taking turns, at night for security. We met Paul and Cheryl on "Que Rico" and arranged a day long tour of the island the next day with Martin (that's us eating just picked bananas). What a fantastic day it was! Martin was charming and very knowledgeable. We were introduced to all the spices, flora and fauna, considerable varieties, on the island (eating quite a few). That's cashews growing at the end of the fruits above! This is a beautiful, undeveloped island with lovely people. Martin picked us up in his long wooden row boat early in the morning for a trip up the Indian River.
Mangroves, many huge, lined the way with their long convoluted roots stretching towards us. We learned about the various birds both in the trees and the water. Next we drove around the north end of the island on narrow but mostly paved roads with hardly another car in sight the whole day. One hike was out to the red rocks caused by distant lava flow.
The views were spectacular and off the shore a large group of white racing sailboats from Les Saintes dotted the very blue ocean (you may have to click on this picture to see the boats well). After a quick but tasty lunch at a small store, we drove down the windward side of the island. This is a generally more rugged coastline but with some lovely beaches. We hiked down to a deserted one where we swam in a river
in fresh water and then walked a few feet to the surf breaking on the long white beach. It was hard to leave! We also saw a "cold sofriere" (bubbling gasses in a marsh land from underground volcanic activity). Martin picked some coconuts up from the side of the road and used his machete to cut off the husk and open them up for us to have for dessert. Delicious! This was one of the most memorable days of our voyage so far. Thank you Martin!