Sunday, July 26, 2015

Dominica

The natural beauty of this island is something I can hardly describe with words.  We took our time here and spent a week hiking to waterfalls, touring up the Indian River, and driving up and down the craziest hills we have ever seen.
Paul did all the driving and it's a good thing, not only did he have to drive on the left side of the road but also on the right side of the car.  It took a lot of concentration which was tested by our two lovely children making all kinds of noise and playing in the back seat.  

Toward the end of the first day with the car we were climbing the steepest hill we had gone up all day the transmission on the car started to slip.  We made it over the top and the next five miles were all down hill. When we got to the bottom we turned to head back toward Roseau for dinner but when Paul stepped on the gas the car just sat there. The transmission had burned up and we were as far from the boat as we could be on the island without a cell phone.  Fortunately at the intersection where we broke down a guy was waiting for the bus and let us use his cell phone.  Paul spoke to the rental car agency and they said "leave the car in a safe place and you will just have to find a way back."    ???
Paul reminded him that we are a family of four and it was already 5 PM.  No telling when the next bus was coming and if there would be enough room on it for the four of us plus our backpacks and the propane tank we were carrying to get refilled.  The buses here are like the ones in Nevis and St. Kitts.  More like minivans.  
While we were waiting for the bus to come we tried the car again and it started to go. We jumped in and made it over the next small hill but as we came to the bottom and started up the next it stopped dead in it's tracks. We were able to push it off the road and got our stuff together to hitch a ride or catch the bus. Luckily the guy who we borrowed the phone from had caught a ride with a friend and stopped when he saw us on the side of the road. A third passenger in the car they were in said he would wait for the bus and got out of the car so we could squeeze in. They drove us to Roseau and dropped us off at the hotel owned by the sister of the rental car guy. Their brother came by about an hour later and gave us a ride back up to Portsmouth where the boat was. We finally got back to the boat at 9:30 PM.  Nicholas was in a bad mood but not too bad considering all. Quite an adventure.

Our longest hike was to Middleham Falls.  It rained on us the whole way there.  The hike up was challenging mostly by the complaints from those two same lovely children of ours.  After some food the tone changed dramatically and on the way back down the kids couldn't stop talking about how easy the trail was and how even Grandma could do it. Hmmmm.

We celebrated my birthday here with a day on the boat getting ready for the journey to Martinique.  We did the laundry, vacuumed, organized Legos, cleaned the bottom of the boat, etc.  
I love that Nicholas thinks I'm 37 but Samantha is always quick to remind him that he is wrong.  Ugh! 
I remember when we lived in the house that was over 2000 sq ft that I couldn't wait to live in a smaller space so I could clean the house in an hour or two instead of a day or two.  The thing is that it takes a lot longer to do the laundry by hand, dishes by hand and keep the children busy with either helping with chores or doing their own cleaning/organizing.  I don't complain but just embrace what we have and go with it.  I get to spend all this time with my family and I love it.  We have been visiting some of the coolest places I've been and on a budget so we can visit more.  Some days are easy and some are a challenge but what life isn't full of days like these?

Guadeloupe

Guadeloupe is a French island and has a very different feel than the other islands we have visited.  We picked up a free mooring in Deshaies which was a bit of a challenge.  Normally a mooring will have a line (pendant) floating from it  and one just picks it up with the boat hook and feeds a line through the eye on the pendant. Here the mooring just has a metal ring on top of it so we had to thread a line through the ring from five feet above. Thankfully the wind was light so the operation wasn't too difficult.  We stayed a couple of nights to rest up and enjoy the calm nights with no roll.
One of the two Mahi we caught on the way to Guadeloupe

Awesome Boulangerie

The French bread and croissants (especially the chocolate ones) were amazing.  I'm still trying to work off all the butter!  
We did a hike up the river there and the kids had a blast climbing all over the rocks up hill but then complained about the long walk back to the boat on the road down hill.  Go figure?
We kept them entertained by picking up stray mangos on the ground that we could eat later on the boat. This prompted a lot of "Mango! Mango! Mango!"

The next anchorage was Pigeon Island where we snorkeled to the beach and watched the kids play for a while.  The sand reminded Paul of the sand in NJ.  It was kind of dark brown and there was a lot of sea weed.
Just like Jersey

The next day we sailed to the group of small islands off the south end of Guadeloupe called the Saintes and anchored in Baie du Marigot.  The Saintes have a different feel compared to mainland Guadeloupe.  The islands seem to be more of a holiday destination and a little more touristy but we enjoyed the town of Le Bourg very much.   The people were friendly and the island beautiful. 
They must not like soccer

There was a bit of a language barrier since we don't speak French but we were able to get by with pointing and guessing.  I wish I would have spent more time learning French.  I've been so focused on Spanish...well enough said.

Next time I'll come more prepared. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Montserrat

We were able to sail with the wind just a slight bit north of east all the way to Montserrat.  It was a long day and we took a lot of water over the bow.  I'm very grateful for out dodger and side curtains that keep me dry during our passages.
We anchored near the small town off the beach and rolled all night.  I wish we had put out a stern anchor but it was already late and we were exhausted.  So instead we just had a horrible nights sleep.

The wind was still good the next day so instead of going ashore we opted for the sailing view of the active volcano on the island from out boat as we sailed south toward Guadaloupe.  

Montserrat has dramatic scenery and you can see the devastation caused by the volcano.  I hope our pictures do it justice.


Nevis

Nevis was a wonderful small island with an awesome fresh market on Saturday AMs.  We didn't haggle on the price of all the fresh produce because we felt it was already priced so low.  We took home three bags of fresh fruits and vegetables for under $40 U.S.

The bus system there is similar to that in St Kitts.  We didn't take the bus anywhere on the island but got some good photos of different buses with there colorful names. 

We went back to St. kitts and ended up staying a whole extra week due to the blasting winds.  We stayed near Ballast Bay where we painted the dinghy, snorkeled and went to the beach. The anchorage was so calm compared to others we didn't mind sticking around.

The wind was changing so we went back to Nevis.  This time we anchored on the north side, Oualie Beach.  From there we hoped to get a better point of sail to Monserrat. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

BVIs to Statia to St. Kitts



     We didn’t stay long enough in the British Virgin Islands to even create a blog post.  The wind turned favorable for a trip over to the other islands so we took it.  We skipped St. Martin and aimed toward St. Kitts in hopes to gain a better point of sail.  Unfortunately it was tough for our boat to sail so we motor-sailed through the night.  We took a lot of water over the bow and the wave action caused some sea sickness (even with my medication).  The sailing was uncomfortable for all so we decided to cut our trip by about 4 hours and picked up a mooring in St. Eustatia.  The harbor had quite a roll to it so we spent another hour putting out a stern anchor to bring the bow into waves.  This worked but we decided not to stay and headed to St. Kitts the next morning.  

     In St. Kitts we stayed in the marina in Basseterre to check in and recover from our crazy trip over.  The price was more than reasonable.  Father’s Day was quiet in town and not much open.  The next day a cruise ship came into port and it was like a different city with everything open and people everywhere.  We did a lot of walking through town and spent time buying produce from local vendors.  We noticed a lot of Bob Marley merchandise.  Pretty much the only image on any person living or dead on any article of clothing was Bob Marley.  

     We had to make another trip to the dentist and found a great one a short walk from the marina.  The filling cost us $100 E.C. here (approximately $37.00 U.S.).  Wow!

A cruise ship came into port each day while we were staying at the marina so the town of Basseterre stayed busy from sun up to sun down.  We decided to travel by bus to the other side of the island.  The buses are really minivans that are painted cool colors with artistic spray painted names above the bumpers.  There were some very unusual bus names like Hulk, The Equalizer, Sas, Scooby Doo, etc. It was like a roller coaster ride.  Lots of fast ups and downs with a few stops.  When we arrived in Dieppe Bay there wasn’t much going on.  A few houses had people and kids in front of them and the beach was brownish black sand with a lot of seaweed.  

     We found a small trailer, Linda’s Snack Shack where we had cheeseburgers all around.  We walked down the road to catch a bus to the other side of the island.  We stood on the side of the road and waved our hands and they picked us up.  What an adventure!


     Next stop Nevis.




Monday, June 15, 2015

U.S. Virgin Islands

First place we went was St. Thomas where we anchored in the harbor of Charlotte Amalie.  There weren’t any cruise ships in port so the place was slow and not a lot going on.  We took a  safari bus up the big hill to the library ($1 each!) but the library was closed so we walked around the mall and Kmart.  



Back at the boat we decided we had seen enough of Charlotte Amalie and headed toward Christmas Cove on the East end of the island.  In the cove we found a boat called Pizza Pi π.  Of course we had to try the pizza and found it rivals the pizza in NY and NJ.  Yummy!




Christmas cove has free moorings so we stayed for a few days to snorkel.  The coral is mostly dead but we did see some interesting fish.  The kids got to snorkel with a turtle for a while and were amazed at how long the turtle held it’s breath.  There we a lot of spiny sea urchins that made it difficult to get to shore except for a small patch of sand big enough to land the dinghy.  

Next stop was the next island over, St. John, where we anchored in Cruz Bay just in time to pick up the mail.  The computer just needed a new wire to connect the hard drive to the computer, Yay!  It is working again.  The dinghy motor is up and working again plus a little high pitched whine when we are cruising at low speed.  Just a little reminder for me each time we cruise around in it to watch out for coral heads.  We didn’t stay long in Cruz Bay because the spot to anchor is not big and for short term use only.  We came back the next day by dinghy to spend a full day at their library. The library system in the USVI is surprisingly big with a lot of books for the kids to read.  

We spent the next few days visiting the anchorages of St. John and the National Park.  We hiked to the petroglyphs, old school house, and the Annaberg Sugar Mill.  We attempted to snorkel the underwater trail at Trunk Bay but were inundated by small jelly fish.  Ugh!!  The coral looked like it was starting to grow back and become colorful but very slowly.  We found less jelly fish around the island near Leister Bay and saw more colorful fish including  a school of Yellow Jacks.  Salt pond was our last stop where we attempted to snorkel around Booby Rock but the water was too rough so we stayed near shore.  Samantha decided she would start taking the kayak around by herself with a parent near by just in case.  She and Nicholas have a great time near the beach with the kayak pretending it is their own ship.  They tie a rock to a line and use it as an anchor.  They move from one anchorage to the next (all of 5 feet) and have a blast jumping off their boat into the water to explore their new anchorage.  
Petroglyphs with mirror image in the water.

Annaberg Sugar Mill






The wind direction changed the next day to E so we took advantage and had a great sail all the way to St. Croix.  We applied for a permit to visit Buck Island Reef which took two days to get.  Part of the process was filling out an application then we had to bring it back with the boat registration to the park office so they could copy it.  
The Park Office was located in the Fort.

Chickens are Everywhere!


Buck Island was a nice spot to anchor.  We didn’t snorkel the underwater trail there because the wind was blowing and it was rough water on the other side of the island.  Instead we enjoyed the beach and snorkeling off the shore.  The sand was soft and made cool drip sand castles.  

We spent a day driving around in a rental car to see all of St. Croix.  We loved it there!  The whole island has a good feel to it. 
Art along the beach.

The most eastern part of the U.S.

Mangos from a nice local guy.
Mango! Mango! Mango!



Next stop is the British Virgin Islands. 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Culebra and Culebrita

On our way to Culebra we stopped near Isla Palaminos and picked up a free mooring for the night. It was the beginning of Memorial Day Weekend so the locals were living it up and playing loud music.  It is hard not to dance when you hear the fun beat!
We left the next morning for a secluded anchorage just off the west coast of Culebra.  We snorkeled and found small fish, fairly good visability and decent soft corals.  Overall a good experience.
Next night we anchored near the small city in Culebra and enjoyed Zacos Tacos.  

On Culebrita we found a nice secluded anchorage with free day use moorings which we stayed on overnight without issue.  Paul and I were out in the dinghy checking out the coral to see where to snorkel whe I ran over some coral and bent the shaft on the dinghy motor.  Ugh!!!
Just when we thought our spending spree was over!

We hiked up to the ruins of the light house, hiked to the jacuzzi, and spent a lot of time at the white sandy beach.  By far this is our favorite place we have been to south of the Bahamas.

Not sure what we plan to do next but the wind looks like it is going to pick up so we will be spending a lot of time in the US and British Virgin Islands.