21 November 2008

Back in the BVIs

November 21, 2008.

We left St. Martin yesterday after a very (too) brief stop and are now in the BVIs. Kristen will be helping out our friends Chris and Julie with a charter starting on Tuesday. We'll post a more entertaining update in a few days once we've recovered from all the traveling we've been doing in the past few weeks. It's a hard life, we know, but it does feel like we need a few days to relax!

Sorry, no pics today.

18 November 2008

Saintly Sailors: The Saints to St. Martin

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

We arrived in St. Martin this morning after a week of island-hopping from the Saints. Stops included: Guadeloupe, Antigua, Barbuda and Ile de Fouruche just north of St. Barts. The weather has been pretty squally punctuated with high winds at times and then no wind at others, but it's mostly all from the right direction so we've been enjoying comfortable downwind sailing. We're happy to be in St. Martin though since our food supplies were dwindling and we were eating a lot of rice, beans, bread and butter!

We motored through the river dividing the island of Guadeloupe. The bridge openings were at 5am and 5:20 so we caught a spectacular sunrise.

Motoring up the river in the early morning light.

Squalls followed us all day on the sail from Guadeloupe to Antigua. This one packed a lot of punch; winds were probably around 30 knots gusting to more. We went fast!

Kristen hangs on to the forestay to keep from being blown off the boat as a squall approaches the anchorage at Green Island in Antigua.

A main street in Codrington in Barbuda. The town was really relaxed with people hanging out eating barbeque and playing marbles, young and old alike.

The 11 mile long beach in Barbuda was spectacular. The sand really was pink at the water's edge and the whole beach was completely undeveloped save for a luxury boutique hotel. Rooms start at $550 a night and go up to $3000. But they were very nice indeed.

Strike again! We hooked another mahi mahi on our way to St. Barths. This is a picture of it in the water so you can see how vivid the colors are before death. Ha!

Sunset approaching Ile de Fouruche north of St. Barths.

10 November 2008

From Bequia to les Saintes

Monday, November 10, 2008

We're steadily making our way north to the BVIs. Kristen is due on s/v Felicia on November 24 so we've pointed the compass north and have been sailing and motoring for the past few days.

Thursday: Bequia to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia; approx. 65 nm or so.
This long day started out with a great two hours sail between Bequia and the southern end of St. Vincent. Once we got behind the big island (pay attention, you'll start to notice a pattern here), all the wind died and we fired up the engine and motorsailed. At the northern tip of St. Vincent, the wind piped up again, we sailed for a while until the wind died again. We motored for a few hours behind St. Lucia until we dropped the anchor in the northern bay, Rodney Bay. We arrived after dark but the bay is wide open so we had no problem anchoring. It's always tricky though trying to gauge your distance from shore at night. Depth perception is not at its best.

We hiked over to Hope Bay in Bequia; a long, steep hike but worth it: the beach was deserted and wild.

Sunset in Bequia.

We're nearing the end of the rainy season in the islands so all the forests and land is unbelieveably green and lush. This is the leeward (western) side of St. Vincent.

Squalls abound: this produced a gorgeous rainbow in between the Pitons on St. Lucia.

A cruise ship leaving St. Lucia at sunset.

Friday: Rodney Bay to St. Pierre, Martinique; approx. 45 nm or so.
Again, we started the day with a gorgeous sail between St. Lucia and the southern tip of Martinique. Once behind the island the winds were gusty so we tried and tried to keep sailing but ended up motoring. There were quite a few squalls though which gave us wind so we ended up sailing for most of the day. Once we arrived in St. Pierre, Hans motored up to the large town dock, Kristen jumped off the boat and ran to the grocery store to get a fresh baguette, chocolate, cookies, cold beers and some camembert. Welcome back to the French islands! The town dock itself took quite a beating from Hurricane Omar and most of the wooden planking had been ripped right out of the concrete.

A squall in the mountains of Martinique. Hopefully in the next few years we'll be able to spend more time in Martinique; it seems like a really nice island. First we need to learn some French!

St. Pierre, Martinique with Mt. Pelee in the background. This is the volcano that erupted and destroyed the town about 100 years ago. The town is coming back to life and seems like a great place to live. The supermarket has everything you need and we awoke to a busy produce market on Saturday morning.

Saturday: St. Pierre to Portsmouth, Dominica; approx. 50nm or so.
No wind. Well, maybe a little. Shall we try to sail. Okay. ummm...the wind is dying. Maybe not. Okay, turn the engine on. Look, here comes some wind. Unfurl the jib. Well, maybe not so much wind after all. And so it went all the way from St. Pierre to Portsmouth. However Saturday was the start of our fishing success. Just south of Dominica, we hooked our first mahi-mahi. Well, we hooked probably our fourth mahi-mahi, but we actually got our first mahi-mahi onboard! We were really excited, but it was sad at the same time. Mahi-mahi (also called dorado and dolphin), are beautiful fish: flourescent yellow and green with a bright blue strip across the top of their backs; but the minute they start dying, they lose all their color.

Sunday: Portsmouth to Les Saintes; approx. 18 nm.
Needing both water and fuel, we decided to take a break from traveling and stay in Portsmouth for a day. We contacted the boat vendor "Providence" on the VHF and he came over at 8AM to help us get water and fuel. It seems you never can learn the lesson: "set a price first" too many times. With one trip to get water and another trip to take us ashore so we could go hiking, Martin was a great water taxi. (We had our dinghy deflated on deck and didn't want to inflate it just for one day.) He also was happy to point us in the direction of a hike we could do without a guide, something we couldn't find when we were in Dominica last June. Unfortunately, all our good feelings toward Martin quickly dissipated when he asked for $80 EC for the two water taxi trips. That converts to $30 US! I was thinking we would pay around $10 US total, around 5 bucks per trip. After lots of grumbling, we paid him $48 EC, weighed anchor and sailed to Les Saintes. The sail cleared our heads and cheered us up: we averaged 6 knots on a beam reach and hooked a black fin tuna just south of Les Saintes!

we hiked through a rainforest section of the woods in Dominica. This picture was taken close to noon, but the vegetation is so dense that it was really dark in the woods.

A cool river to jump in and refresh after a steep hike.

This nasty looking guy was sitting next to us while we looked at the vista.

Hans admiring the view over Portsmouth Harbour in Dominica.

Kristen happily smiling as she holds up the tuna (and steering at the same time...the talent is awe-inspiring!).

Hans acting as rail meat as we sail into the Saintes.

The scenery of the Saintes is stunning: red rocks and green hillsides that go steep down to the water.

Monday: day off! Les Saintes; approx. 4 statue miles by foot
Today we stayed in the Saintes, had croissants and cappucino for breakfast; went on a tour of the impressive fort; and lounged on the boat reading and swimming. It's been really nice to take a day off after all the traveling.

05 November 2008

Yes We Can!

Congratulations President-elect Obama!

With great excitement, some tension, some tears, laughter, debate and cheers, we stayed up well past 2AM watching the election returns and then celebrating Obama's landslide victory! Even here on the small island of Bequia, the US Presidential election is huge news. The bar was packed last night with Obama supporters, all local residents and us (so far we haven't met any McCain supporters in the islands!) and the first people we saw this morning immediately congratulated us on America's new President. The sun is shining and optimism abounds.

03 November 2008

back to the blue

We're back in the Grenadines, one of our favorite spots. We spent a couple days at Salt Whistle Bay, the greatest anchorage in the Caribbean and one of Kristen's "favorite places in the whole world;" then it was over to the Tobago Cays for some fantastic snorkeling, swimming with turtles and relaxing on the beach. Today we sailed up to Bequia where we'll hang out for a couple days, stock up on fresh fruit and veggies and watch the election results come in tomorrow night. Despite rumors to the contrary (see Kit Kat's blog entry), Kit Kat is doing just fine. Her stitches are due to come out this afternoon, the cut looks healed, she's acting normal and happy. So, don't believe her feline complaints.

We're on the move to the British Virgin Islands. Kristen is helping friends with a charter over Thanksgiving so we're island-hopping our way north and plan on being in Tortola around November 20 or so.

We built this white sand snowman in honor of our friends on "Snowday" who are probably already shoveling their sidewalk and shivering in horror of the winter which is knocking at the door.

Meanwhile, back in paradise,... Hans takes it easy in the hammock at the Tobago Cays.

The view from the foredeck of Whisper at Salt Whistle Bay. Not a bad spot at all!

02 November 2008

Meow meow...ouch!

It's been two weeks and they still haven't taken off this stupid blue funnel that's around my neck. First it was so I wouldn't lick that painful lump on my stomach, and now it's so I don't lick those stitches that that know it all veterinarian put all up my stomach. I'm starting to get very smelly and my fur feels oily and sticky. My skin is dry and I'm sick of licking this blue cloth funnel instead of my fur. Well, what fur there is left. I'm feeling rather naked and embarrassed. This is all very demeaning. They've promised to take the stitches out today (HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE??? THEY AREN'T VETERINARIANS, THEY ARE AMATEURS AND WILL CLEARLY INJURE ME!!! SOMEONE PLEASE, PLLLLEEEEAAAASSSSEEEEE CALL P.E.T.A. IMMEDIATELY, I don't know where we are, but there is blue water, palm trees and white sand all around... that should narrow it down!). Stay posted for reports of my abuse.

Kit Kat.

01 November 2008

Fish Fry

Every Friday night, the town of Gouyave in the north of Grenada hosts a fish fry. They close down two of the streets to traffic and vendors set up stalls with fish cooked in different ways, mainly deep fried. We went with Jim and Wendy and sampled the tuna kebabs, coconut bread, fry bakes (yummy fried bread), fish in garlic sauce, and twice baked potatoes. The potatoes alone were worth the hour trip along the windy and bumpy west coast road.

A local drumming band. They'll put all hippy drum circles to shame. Has anyone ever heard Simon and Garfunkel's "Cecilia" to bongo drums? It was actually really good!

Grilled lobster. I'm not paying for that!

"Excuse me, what exactly is rum? There are different varieties? Well, I'll just have to try some of your FREE samples." Jim plays dumb for the Clark's Court rum booth.

Hans and Jim dig into the baked potatoes.

St. George's waterfront at sunset.