Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Visit To Martinique (again) and back to Rodney Bay

March 28, 2007
We had a lovely time in Martinique visiting two close cruiser friend couples; Roger and Francoise aboard "Starship Annie" and Jaime and Dan aboard "Nereia". Our sail across from St. Lucia was a fast one. We had a steady 20 knot wind and the boat made over 7 knots consistently. The waves were so big that sitting in my captain's chair 10 feet from the water's surface, the horizon disappeared frequently and I ended up laying on my back in the chair - amazing. The boat just surges through and this doesn't bother me anymore - it's exhilarating.
We cruised through the St. Anne anchorage and found "Starship Annie". After anchoring we had them over for drinks and caught up on our travels. We've known them for over two years and spent time with them in Annapolis, the Bahamas, Newport and Trinidad. The next day we walked around the charming town of St. Anne. As it was Sunday the church was full for services and hymns wafted out the open door.
We had coffee and arranged for a rental car for Monday. That night we enjoyed a terrific meal of coq au vin on board their boat. The drive up the east side of the island was very pretty the next morning. It's an open agricultural area with colorful houses and lots of flowers. We drove down a long peninsula called Tartane and ate lunch in a small village on the beach.
Colorful fishing boats lined up on one end. Fisherman were busy mending nets and working on their equipment in nearby sheds.
At the end of the peninsula is a abandoned plantation that has been partially restored and open to the public. It's an evocative place and the sights and sounds of the slave village were presented in an audio program. The beautiful stones and floors tiles fascinated Heather. But next we had a more practical task - provisioning. Our destination was a Super Marche, Hyper U. This enormous store had most everything you could get in any other part of France. We stocked up on cheeses, pates, wine, and lots of delicacies. Amazingly enough we ran into Jaime and Dan in the parking lot. We had already been in touch and made plans to have lunch with them in Marin the next day. With a full trunk and back seat we came back to our dingies in the dark and loaded them to the gills.
We took a taxi into Marin and had a wonderful time lunching and talking with Jaime and Dan. We've traveled down with them off and on since leaving Georgetown in the Bahamas a year ago and saw them a lot in Trinidad. They are terrific fun and we were sad to say goodbye for awhile. We may see them in Ecuador this summer! We also made plans there to have some new batteries installed the next morning at the boatyard - all in our fractured French.
The next morning as planned we motored into Marin, tied up at the dock and started the process only to discover the batteries were the wrong kind. Woops! A few calls to Rodney Bay settled that we could get them there, so off we went, sailing across back to St. Lucia in more settled seas but good wind. We anchored off Pigeon Island again and next morning were back in the Marina.Luckily Matthew's men were available to help Scott with the batteries. Each weighs 150 lbs so it's a two man job. It took most of the day to install and connect them up. Still we were ready by early afternoon and cast off the lines (this SHOULD be the last time we're in Rodney Bay). It was a lovely sail down to the Pitons and this time the same spot so gusty during our visit last time, was tranquil. Tommorrow we're off to Bequia.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Back in St. Lucia and on "Scott Free"

March 9, 2007 It's great to be back in St. Lucia but I'm not fond of "living on the hard". This means we reach our boat up a long ladder and are living in the middle of a construction zone. We can't use our refrigerator or the bathroom - long walks at night through the spooky boat yard. Luckily we are scheduled to splash today at 3: 30PM and will go over to the Rodney Bay Marina for a few days to clean the boat up and stock up the frig. Our friends are flying in tonight.

We would like to be in Bonaire by the third week in April and are not sure how we'll get there - probably along the Venezuelan islands. We have to leave the boat somewhere for two months while we go home for our youngest son's college graduation and to hopefully to close on our new home and move in. Cartagena looks like the best spot as we will incur extra insurance costs to leave it in the ABCs.

During our winter months in Vermont we try to catch up with all of our family and friends. That's the first priority - the second is skiing. Heather has taught at Okemo in Ludlow for twenty one years. Her main focus is the Women's Alpine Adventures, a intensive ski and snowboard program that features two, three and five day sessions during January and February. Groups of five of less women are led by experienced female instructors in all day classes. Breakfast, lunch, cocktail parties and sometimes evening dinners help to bond the students. It's a sleep away camp for adult women! Heather loves doing this and we have worked around this commitment in our cruising life.

It was a lovely visit home although the ski conditions were comparatively poor, especially early in the season. Okemo does the best of all possible jobs with what they get so we made out all right. The months seem to fly by as we try and see all of our family and friends. It wasn't in our plan to sell the house but we got an surprising offer on our lakefront cottage and found a larger, cheaper property not that far away. Our cruising kitty was scraping bottom so this will help keep us afloat. IF it all goes through!

Carol Sharoff, Bill Fonvielle and their son Jonathan are coming for a 10 day visit tonight. Carol's father had spent quite a lot of time in Vieux Fort, St. Lucia during WWII and she had been reading over his letters and mementos. Their son Jonathan had completed all but his deep dives for his PADI certification and we have arranged their visit around the dive schedule at Steve's Dive Shop. We rented a small nearby apartment and a car for three nights for them while we continue to work on the boat (and then clean it up).

March 20 2007 We've had a great visit with our friends! Our rental car was very roomy and rather expensive but we needed the space for five good sized people. One day we drove around the island. The small fishing villages of Anse Cochon and Soufriere are very charming with Victorian trimmed cottages and lovely miniature cathedrals on their flowery squares.
Sights included the "drive through volcano", a wonderful buffet at the Ladera Resort (Travel and Leisure's top ten restaurant views in the world! ) and a swim/snorkel visit to the Jalousie Resort. Another day we walked around the Pigeon Island Historic site and had a lovely lunch at the Jambe de Bois restaurant. They moved aboard for the next week and the weather finally calmed down a little, so we sailed over to Martinique for a few days. The trip over was a little bumpy and everyone was glad to get into the lee of the island and anchor at Anse Mitan. We swam off the boat and had a great meal. The next day we took the ferry over to Fort de France, walked all around, and visited the market. It is a lot of fun to taste some of the local rum concoctions! It was very hot though and we were all hungry and thirsty. Suddenly appeared a charming restaurant and we had an elegant lunch at the La Cave a Vin - pate fois gras, duck breast and fish.

Our trip back to St. Lucia was easier and it was a beautiful day. We anchored off Pigeon Island and swam/snorkeled before entering the lagoon to anchor for the night. Jonathan did his first two dives the next day and then we motored down to a mooring off the beach between the Petit and Gros Pitons. These rise almost vertically from the water to points 2460' and 2619' high. The view was spectacular but the experience was far different than we'd expected. The wind furiously channeled down through the peaks and blasted us all night. We had frequent gusts of over 40 knots. Despite being only 70 feet from the beach, there were white caps with the spume flying horizontally off the tops! Secure at least on our mooring we ate a lovely meal in the cockpit but slept a bit restlessly that night. We took off quickly the next morning and went back to our favorite anchorage off Pigeon Island. After two more dives the next day, Jonathan was a certified Open Water PADI diver. That night we celebrated at the Green Pigeon restaurant on the top of a steep windy road above Castries. We took a tax that barely made it. He had to stop on the hairpin curves, back up and then gun it. Very exciting! After they flew back yesterday we still have a few work projects here ahead of us, but hope to start slowly heading south soon.

March 24, 2007 We are still in the Rodney Bay Marina finishing up the last of many boat repairs (new bow thruster, inverter, transformer and repaired generator). Scott is cramed into the engine compartment replacing hoses on the generator. We are sailing to Martinique this afternoon for a few days to visit friends there and then gradually heading south to Grenada. Around the first of April we hop to go to Los Testigos, Marguarita, Los Roques and then on to Bonaire and Curacao. After long discussion and research we have decided to leave the boat in Curacao while we return to the States. Although our insurance doesn't cover us in July there for named storms, there hasn't been a hurricane ever there during June or July. The Boca Sera marina where we have reservations is in a mangrove lined lagoon and looks very secure. American Airlines came through again with frequent flyer flights for both of us. We wish we had more time to see everything here but that will be true everywhere.