Thursday, December 24, 2015

British Virgin Islands and the USVIs - Christmas in the Caribbean

We arrived as Virgin Gorda after an uneventful overnight downwind sail from St. Barts.  The check in was easy since we were here earlier this year.  This time we did the full tourist package.
The Baths and the Caves

Foxy's and the Soggy Dollar
Soggy Dollar during the day

Sunset by the Soggy Dollar

Our favorite anchorage and place to be was White Bay near the Soggy Dollar.  We stayed there for a few days and watched all the tourist boats and cruise ships come and go.  We enjoyed people watching at the beach during the day then enjoyed the sunset in peace and quiet after everyone had gone.  The Soggy Dollar boasts to be the home of the "Pain Killer" which is an amazing rum drink with coconut, pineapple, and orange juice with a few other added extras.

Now we are back in the US Virgin Islands anchored off of St. John awaiting Christmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Antigua and Barbuda and Captain Windy Pants Saves the Day, Twice - Then St. Barthélemy

The next part of our trip was visiting these two islands that we missed on our way south.  It took us about a day to sail from Guadeloupe to Antigua.  The climate seemed more dry here with no rain forest or water falls and more cacti and desert landscape.

Antigua has just about everything you might need as a tourist or as a cruiser.  There are a lot of charter boats about and fun places to anchor.  We met another boat of young people chartering from Colorado.  They had wrapped a fishing line around one of the props so Paul helped them out by offering our hookah rig.  They were just starting their 10 day vacation so with the help of the rig they were able to save the engine and continue with their vacation as planned.
We got a nice bottle of red wine as a treat.

We visited a lot of places while in Antigua including Jolly Harbor where we checked in, Falmouth Harbor where we visited both there and English harbor by land, and Green Island.  My favorite place was Green Island where we stayed on a mooring in a few different spots.  We had a wonderful Thanksgiving chicken with all the fixings and enjoyed the beach and snorkeling.  The water temperature is slowly getting colder.  Still is about 82 degrees F so I really can't complain much.
Nicholas gets buried in sand

Samantha's turn

Our next stop was Barbuda.  The island is considered part of Antigua but couldn't be more different.  There is one town called Codrington and the rest of the island is a frigate bird sanctuary, beach, reef, and 2 expensive resorts.
While coming into the harbor we noticed a small skiff off shore.  It seemed to be staying in one place but what I didn't notice was the bow was facing away from the wind...not anchored where the bow would be into the wind.  Oops!!  As soon as we anchored two young fishermen came over yelling help us!!  We quickly helped them aboard and set off in search of their small skiff.  Imagine trying to find a needle in a haystack, that is what it felt like.  Their small boat was white and the waves were also big enough to have white caps.
Long story short we finally found it after traveling about 3 miles off shore.  Their anchor line chaffed through on some coral.  We towed them back to shore and they shared some of their catch with us.
Along the way to save the boat we found out some interesting history about the island.  Nobody owns the land, they all pick a property and just build on it and the house is theirs but the property is not.  The lifestyle is peaceful and everyone seems to get along.
We took a day and went into Codrington where we had some awesome jerk chicken and street food.  This place reminds me of the Bahamas in many ways.  The beaches were so sandy white, I didn't think it was possible to be so soft and clean.  The only real sense of civilization was Condrington and a few other people in cars driving about.  We were sad to leave this piece of paradise but the wind looked good so we took off for our next destination St. Barts.
The beach was almost deserted except for us

We left as the sun was rising and had a wet sail downwind to St. Barts.  We arrived in time to find a mooring ball just north of Gustavia at Anse du Colombier where there is a beach that you can only reach by boat or by hiking trail.
St. Barts is definitely the place of the rich and famous.  We walked by a Hermes Boutique that had $6,000 crocodile skin sneakers.  We didn't stay long but did enjoy the beach there and the hiking trail.  Being that it was a french island some people went au natural on the beach.  Oooh La La!

Îles des Saints, Guadeloupe

A rainbow in the Saints
We visited these small islands on our way south and couldn't resist a return trip on our way north.
The Saints are small islands considered to be part of the French island Guadeloupe.

We anchored near town in Pain De Sucre where there was decent snorkeling and a nice beach.

In the town of Terre de Haut we walked up the hill to the Fort Napoleon and enjoyed the scenery from the top of the hill.  Fort Napoleon was well maintained, had an informative museum, and incredible views.

In town we also found plenty of goodies to eat like croissants and pain au chocolat.

Pain Au Chocolat

In front of the Cafe De Le Marine Bar

View from the fort

Friday, December 11, 2015

Montagne Pelée, Martinique

Since our last post we've covered some distance heading north.

We continued our journey up the coast of Martinique each day started with croissants and pain au chocolat.  We walked up the hill in Fort De France to stop at a sporting good store for a new mask for Paul.  After that we sailed up the coast to St. Pierre.  We stayed there for a couple of days to make water and catch up on beach time.
One of our days in St. Pierre was finding a rental car to drive up to Mt. Pelée.  That morning we woke up early and all headed to town in the hopes of finding a rental car.  We walked through the town of St. Peirre and found a "voiture de location" open and that had a car available.  Driving a nice rental car with air conditioning is such a treat!

We drove through a town built on top of a mountain on our way to Mt. Pelée called Le Morne Rouge. The town was long and narrow.  It had huge drop offs on each side with beautiful views.

We climbed most of the way up Mt. Pelée which is the volcano that destroyed the town of St. Pierre in 1902 killing nearly 30,000 people.  The day was sunny and clear which is a rare occasion for the mountain.  After sweating so much on the way up I put on my jacket at the top because of the cool breeze.  Everyone laughed because it was still pretty warm.

It was a rare clear day on the mountain and the views were awesome.

Since we still had time and the rental car we decided just to drive along the northern part of the island for a bit.  We found a sign for JM Rum distillery in Macouba where we stopped for the tour and a drink.  The tasting area looked like a bar where the staff made rum tasters for the adults and limeades for the kids.  
Our last day in Martinique was spent doing laundry.  While it was drying the kids jumped off the boat and played in the kayak.  We left early the next morning for a long journey to the Saints in Guadeloupe. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Back to St. Anne, Martinique

After having a wonderful time with our friends on Lagom we headed out for Marinique.  The wind was light but we were able to sail some of the journey.  The rest was motor sailing.  24 hours later we arrived in St. Anne.
Yippee!  We celebrated in style with a French Bokit and baked goods.  
Trois Rivières Distillery
The weather was between hot and sunny to cold and rainy.  We took advantage of the hot and sunny days to rent a car for 2 days and tour the island.  The roads were steep and winding through hills and valleys.  We all noticed the amount of color of the tropical flowers.  Paul loved driving the cute little rental car around.  The first day we got stuck in some traffic.  It was like being back in the real city as we found our way toward Fort De Fance.  We stopped at La Galleria Mall where we found a Super U (grocery store).  They had some great deals on baguettes,chocolate and UHT milk.  Next we found an awesome store called Decathalon.  It reminds me of the REI from back home with some things being half the price of the U.S.  We made it out of there with a few swim shirts,swim suits and a boogie board.

A cool welded sculpture at St James Distillery

The next day we toured the south end of the island and up the East coast which was quite beautiful
The language barrier doesn't seem to be much of a problem as we can decipher much of what signs say with some common sense.

After more then a week in St. Anne we decided to move up the coast a little to Grande Anse d'Arlet. We spent the day on the beach and and anchored for the night. We actually dragged anchor for the first time since we've been cruising and had to deal with it at 5 A.M in a crowded anchorage. We decided to just raise sail and move instead of trying to re-anchor in the dark as the anchorage is very deep and its was impossible to see. We moved up to Anse Mitan and spent the afternoon walking around the touristy town and playing on the beach in front of the abandoned hotel. We have now moved over to Fort-de-France to do a little shopping and get some decent internet at the library so we could post these last few blog entries finally. We are going to travel a little further north to St. Pierre and perhaps rent a car to tour the north end of the island and do a little hiking. We really love Martinique.

Tobago Cays

We had a good sail up to Union Island to clear in to SVG. We then headed straight over to the Tobago Cays and anchored for three nights to hang out with our friends aboard Lagom and enjoy the full moon. We did a little snorkeling and beach exploring along with schoolwork and some boat chores.
Shambala under sail

Full Moon over The Cays
After a few days we got a decent window to make a passage to Martinique and we said goodbye to our friends and headed North. It's good to be on the move again.

Grenada, Trinidad, and back to Grenada

We haven't posted in a while so I'll try to get us back up to date. After we left St. Vincent and the Grenadines we sailed to Carriacou which is one of the islands of Grenada. We stayed in Tyrell bay which is very popular with cruisers with many staying there for hurricane season. It has a slower pace than the anchorages on the south end of the island of Grenada. On our arrival there we noticed one of our genoa sheets had snagged the forward hatch over the kids cabin and broke the hinge. This was a big deal because the hatch couldn't be made watertight and when we are sailing the forward deck is quite often awash so the kids would have very wet bedding. Fortunately there was a guy anchored in the harbour who had converted an old plywood trimaran into a full welding shop. I removed the hatch and took the broken hinge to him which he fixed right up for us and had us watertight again.
The trimaran welding shop in Tyrell Bay

We then continued sailing south to Grenada and anchored off St. Georges to do a little provisioning and make a visit to a dentist. After a couple of days there we moved down to Prickly Bay which is full of cruisers waiting out hurricane season. We reconnected with our friends aboard Taia and met a few more boat families. We had been having problems with one of our rentals in Colorado so decided that I(Paul) would fly home to deal with it and get some new renters. The flights from Grenada were very expensive so we looked into Trinidad and found we could fly for half the price. We made reservations and sailed another 80 miles south to Chaguaramas, Trinidad.

Once in Trinidad we found a good place to anchor and leave the boat at the TTSA. We met a couple of other boat families and spent a week hanging out with them while we waited to fly out. I flew to Colorado and Staci and the kids went to see the Grandparents in Phoenix. I came back after three weeks and hauled the boat to redo bottom paint and clean her up a little. Staci and the Kids got back a week later and we put the boat back in the water. The harbour in Chaguaramas is very commercial and very dirty with regular oil spills and trash floating everywhere. We ventured out to Chacachacare Island (a former leper colony) for a night and climbed around the ruins.  Chacachacare is only 6 miles from Venezuela and we felt safe enough on Saturday night because other boats were anchored near us but everyone departed Sunday leaving us all alone so we decided to head back to Scotland Bay on mainland Trinidad while we waited for favorable winds to sail back to Grenada.
Shambala on the hard at Coral Cove Marina with fresh bottom paint

Samantha cutting my hair on the dock
We cleared out of Trinidad and moved back over to Scotland Bay to stage for our night crossing to Grenada. Around 10 p.m. we left and had a very calm sail through the night being pushed along by a a north setting current that made the passage go quickly. Once back in Grenada we anchored in Prickly Bay for a few days then moved over to Mt. Hartman Bay to get away from the constant roll of the swells. We stayed in Mt. Hartman for a week and a half getting caught up on school, provisioning, and doing some touring of the island. We all ran a hash one Saturday and then Nicholas and I did another the following Saturday.  We also did a great tour with a driver named Cutty who brought us around the whole island stopping often to identify and explain the uses of many of the plants that grow here. We visited a chocolate factory, nutmeg processing plant, and an ancient rum distillery where they still use much of the original equipment.
Ladies sorting nutmeg

The kids pointing out Cacao pods where chocolate comes from

Mace with a nutmeg inside

An eggplant(ha-ha)

Waterwheel at the distillery that turns the sugar cane crusher

One of the stills at the distillery

We reconnected with our friends aboard Lagom and decided to sail up to the Tobago Cays together for the full moon.  We stopped in Carriacou to clear out of Grenada and the following day sailed to Union Island to clear into St. Vincent and the Grenadines.