28 May 2008

Whisper's Galley

If you have been following our blog for a while, you have probably noticed that we spend an inordinate amount of time writing about food, eating and drinking.... In fact, good food and leisurely cooking is one of our favorite things about the cruising life. Therefore we thought that we'd add a new page on our blog featuring some of our favorite recipes. You can find the link on the sidebar on this page, or you can just go to: www.whispersgalley.blogspot.com

27 May 2008

Salvaging and leatherback turtles – Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

May 27, 2008

We arrived in Rodney Bay two days ago and were able to anchor under sail. It’s always a great feeling to end a beautiful day of sailing without having to turn the engine on. Since we didn’t use the engine to back down on the anchor, we both dove on the anchor to determine that it was set properly. Kristen notice a long line of chain stretched out across the bottom, and on further investigation we realized it was in very good condition and had a 28kg anchor attached. We started the salvage process, and after an hour of work and 30 minutes of walking the docks, Hans had sold the anchor and chain for $400EC (approx. $150)! With this new treasure, we promptly made plans to rent a car to explore the island and to look for leatherback turtles nesting on Grand Anse, an east coast beach.

A valley covered with banana fields on the west coast of St. Lucia.

Hans and Steve liven up the evening with some guitar playing.

We toured around the island for a couple hours and returned to Rodney Bay around 5:30 to pick up the crew from Uliad and Caroline from Someday Came. After an hour drive up to the top of the mountains and then down a pot-holed dirt road to the beach, we started our turtle watch. Luckily, an organized group of tourists were there with guides so we were able to tag along with the guides. Somewhat over-confidently, we thought we could walk the beach and watch the turtles unaided by a more knowledgeable guide. After this experience, I would feel comfortable doing that, but not the first time! We walked to one end of the beach where Isaiah explained the reproductive cycle of the leatherbacks to us, then we gathered strength and walked toward the other end of the beach. Halfway there, the two guides stopped and started sneaking around. A turtle was digging a hole to lay her eggs! We all took turns creeping up behind here watching her dig her hole. She used her two back flippers to move dig the dirt and throw it out of the hole. After about 20 minutes, she started to lay her eggs. Steve (from Uliad) and I were designated counters and we counted the fertile eggs. She lays both fertile and infertile eggs. The infertile eggs are smalls and act as cushioning to protect the fertile eggs. After about 30 minutes of laying eggs, she started covering the nest with dirt and spent a good 30 minutes more disguising the area before she pushed off back to the ocean. It was an amazing, one in a lifetime experience. A few quick facts: each turtle lays 80-100 eggs at a time and she comes back at least once a week to lay eggs between May and July. The eggs hatch about 60 days after they have been laid, but only 1 in 1000 hatchlings survive to lay eggs. About 25 years after hatching, the hatchlings return to the exact beach they were born on to lay eggs.

The leatherback turtle laying the eggs.

Notice her eyes are covered in sand...she fills them with mucus before coming out of the sea to protect them from the sand. Thus, her eyesight is very limited, but she still detects bright lights which can confuse her. We had to rely on our own night vision to watch the process.

After successfully laying over 80 fertile eggs, she pushes back to the ocean.

21 May 2008


May 21, 2008

Our first stop in Martinique was the northern anchorage of St. Pierre, a town ruined by a volcanic eruption in 1902 that killed tens of thousands. Dubbed the "Paris of the Caribbean," the town used to be home to over 30,000 and now has a population of 5,000. Walking around the town you can see some ruins that have not been developed and also houses that use former ruins as walls.

Currently dormant, Mt. Pelee.

St. Pierre.


Ruins of the theater with Mt. Pelee in the background.

19 May 2008

Välkommen Max och Ida!

May 19, 2008

Welcome to the world Max & Ida! Hans' sister Åsa and her fiancee Hendrik are new parents of two healthy babies. Congratulations! We can't wait to meet the new family members in June.

In other news, we're currently in Martinique and will update with photos when we get a good internet connection.

17 May 2008

Swampy rivers, mountains and waterfalls in Dominica

May 17, 2008

We'd been looking forward to visiting Dominica ever since we planned our cruise on Whisper. Unfortunately, it wasn't as successful as we had hoped. The anchorages were all really rolly and no matter where we placed a stern anchor we still rolled all night long, resulting in a lack of energy for hiking and sore backs and general grumpiness. Also, generally the locals were not very friendly and it always seemed like someone was trying to hustle us for money. Of course we met nice, friendly people, but in general there were few smiles and little conversation. The phenomena of boat boys is steadily working its way to Dominica so we also felt a little insecure leaving Whisper so we locked her up tight every time we left the boat. Not a very pleasant feeling. It also seems like the boat boy business is well-fueled by the sailing guide written by Chris Doyle who heartily recommends everyone to use boat boys for everything: laundry, groceries, transportation, guides, etc. After reading Chris Doyle, one wonders how cruisers function on other islands without boat boys. One final problem we had with Dominica was the absolute lack of good dinghy docks. It was hard to go ashore without having a place to leave the dinghy without it getting washed under the dock, even with a stern anchor laid out. sigh. Having said all that, the next time we come to Dominica, we'll be prepared to rent a car to explore inland...and arrive well-rested!

Our first stop was Portsmouth and, together with Uliad and Someday Came, we went on a highly touted tour of the Indian River. Suffice it to say, it was a bit of a tourist trap and while the river scenery was interesting, we could have rowed our dinghy for free instead of paying US$15/pp.

The river bar, part of the Indian River tour.

going up the Indian River with the crew of Uliad and Someday Came.

The next expedition was successful. We caught a ride to the Machoucheri Rum Factory halfway down the coast where they still use the traditional methods to make rum: water-powered machinery, wood-fired steam engine and scythes to cut the cane.

The water-powered sugarcane press at the rum factory.

The rum factory.

We then moved Whisper south to the capital, Rousseau with hopes to hike up to the Boiling Lake. However, after too many sleepless nights, we decided to forgo the trip. Instead, we took a short bus ride to Trafalgar Falls and luxuriated in the cool, fresh water for hours. There are two falls, both at least 200+ feet (75 meters) high and surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery.

Kristen getting power-washed at the waterfalls.

Hans at the Trafalgar Falls... pretty huge!

The second Trafalgar Fall.

On Saturday morning we went to the market and stocked up on fresh fruit and veg produced by local small-scale farmers.

13 May 2008

Iles Saintes

May 13, 2008

After anchoring along the west coast of Guadeloupe, we spent a relaxing week in the Saints, a group of islands just south of Guadeloupe. The main town is very picturesque with fishing boasts in the harbour, narrow streets, small cottages and good boulangeries. Taima, Uliad and Someday Came were also there at the same time and we all went on numerous snorkeling and lobstering expeditions...with little luck.

Fort Napoleon protecting Bourg des Saintes.

The view from the Fort.

Bourg des Saintes.

Someday Came sailing south to Dominica from the Saints.

Whisper shows her stuff on the sail from the Saints to Dominica. Thanks to Someday Came for the photo.

10 May 2008


May 10, 2008

After a week of eating soft, white bread and yellow cheddar, we are back in the land of baguettes and camembert. If it there’s one thing these cheese-eating surrender monkeys know how to do right, it’s bread, cheese and wine. Vive le republic!

We left Antigua on Sunday and had a fast sail to Deshaies on the west coast of Guadeloupe. The wind was well out of the northeast so we were on a broad reach and at times a beam reach making for fast, easy sailing. Whisper, even with all her water, diesel and provisions, was averaging around 5.5 knots!

Deshaies is a pretty town with a fleet of local fishing boats, lots of bakeries and a great beach nearby. We spent Monday morning jumping through waves at the beach and by the afternoon decided to head south to charge our batteries and try to catch some fish for dinner. After 4 hours, the batteries were full but we had to come up with alternative plans for dinner. We’re still waiting to catch that first mahi. Around 4PM as we were both admiring the sun peeking out behind rain clouds on the western horizon, we both spotted a whale breaching! Wow! We saw it’s entire tail as it splashed through the water and then it continued to slap its tail repeatedly on the surface of the water. We think it was communicating with other whales, but what was it saying? The experience of seeing a whale was spectacular beyond words.

Continuing down the west coast of Guadeloupe, we spent two nights at a deep fishing harbour, Anse de la barque. When Kristen dove on the anchor to check that it was set properly, we found three old canons on the sea floor beneath Whisper. The next day when we were snorkeling, we saw another canon washed up on shore. We wanted to hike up the Caribbean’s highest peak, la soufriere, on the southern end of Guadeloupe, but after long, and somewhat hairy, bus rides we found out that we needed to rent a car to get to the trailhead. Next time.

DesHayes, a pretty little town in Guadeloupe.

A pretty old boat that anchored next to us.

Sunset in DesHayes.

Kristen steering down the coast of Guadeloupe.

Kristen checking out the goods at the fish market in Basse Terre in the south coast of Guadeloupe.

We’re currently anchored off the picturesque fishing village, Bourg des Saintes in Iles des Saintes, a collection of islands just south of Guadeloupe. There are lots of other cruising boats anchored here and many beaches, snorkeling spots and old forts to explore.

08 May 2008

Greetings from Guadeloupe!

May 8, 2008

Just a quick note since we can't use our laptop here and are unable to upload pictures. We're currently at anchor in Iles des Saintes, just south of Guadeloupe. The islands are pretty, rocky but with nice protected anchorages. The main town is very picturesque with lots of local fishing boats and small houses of all different colors. We're back in the land of baugettes and croissants. Yum!

More later.

02 May 2008

Back in Antigua

May 2, 2008

After a month in St. Martin we waved goodbye to new friends Margie, Lindsey Nikki and others as we went through the bridge at the St. Martin Yacht Club. Kristen must have been blinded by tears in her eyes, because she tried to put the main up without untying the sailties... why won't the main go up?!?

We're back in Antigua after island hopping from St. Martin to St. Barth's, St. Kitts, Nevis and then to Antigua. Today we caught the last of the races at Antigua Race Week. Yesterday on our way over we caught four (4!!) tuna! Yummy. Last nights dinenr was sashimi of tuna and tuna tartar. yummy!

Mr. Tuna Catcher!

Kit Kat gets her share of the booty.

Whisper at anchor in Dieppe Bay, St. Kitts. Absolutely gorgeous! In the background you can see Statia (St. Eustatius).

Sugar cane field in St. Kitts.

Palm trees in St. Kitts.

Kristen walks along the railroad tracks that circle St. Kitts. It is the oldest surviving railroad track in the Caribbean and was used to transport the harvested sugar cane. Now it is used to shuttle tourists around.

Some of the action from Antigua Race Week.