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.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Union Island

Smooth sailing!

We have been doing a lot of sailing now and it has been wonderful!
Our next stop after the Tabago Cays was Chatham Bay on Union Island.  As soon as we arrived we were approached by a panga with two guys asking if we wanted to come to their restaurant for dinner that night.  We said no thanks and they said no problem.  Then we were approached by another panga with another offer for dinner, this one much less expensive so we took them up on the offer.  The name of the restaurant was Aqua and it was beautiful.  We enjoyed some nice fish and watched the sunset over the bay.  

Next day we went to Clifton to check out of St. Vincent and the Grenadines where we found slow internet and amazing rotis for $10 EC with brownies for $5 EC.  The name of the place was Yummys and it was yummy!

Next stop Grenada.  Whoop! Whoop!  We made it!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Tabago Cays or Bahamas?

This place so closely resembels the Bahamas that for a moment I forgot we were in the Caribbean.  A reef protects the anchorage but otherwise we faced right into the easterly trade winds looking out over the Atlantic Ocean.  I don't think the pictures do it justice.
So Beautiful!

The sailing we have been able to do since we left Martinique has been peaceful and beautiful.  Most of it is down wind or a broad reach.  So the sail to the Tabago Cays was peaceful as they come until a squall hit and caused the boom vang to come off.  We are glad it wasn't anything serious.  Earlier at St. Lucia we watched another boat blow out their headsail coming into the anchorage during a squall.  Glad it wasn't us, whew!

The Tabago Cays is a park that protects the sea life.  The snorkeling was awesome with clear blue water and a lot of sea life.  The kids are getting to be better swimmers and enjoy snorkeling as much as we do.  The kids get excited when they see new sea life and are able to identify what they see.  Nicholas especially enjoys spending time looking for new sea creatures.  He also likes to make a lot of bubbles and splashes in the water that scare them all away.  He is all boy.

The anchorage was surprisingly calmer than I thought it would be but still a bit of a swell coming at the bow of the boat.  Another surprise for us was the amount of other boats anchored in the small area.  This seems to be a popular destination for cruisers and charter boats.

The island in the background of had a small sandy beach with a small sand dune hill.  Paul got a chance to do some small repairs on the dinghy while the kids and I raced up and down the hill a few times (more like twice for me and 10 times for the kids).  I forget how out of shape I am until I actually try and exercise.  I like to blame it on the fact that it is too hot but what I secretly mean is I am too lazy and old.  Ha Ha!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


We all enjoyed Bequia (pronounced beck-way).  There were white sandy beaches where we played.  There is cool trail along the shore line that is fun to walk along to see all the restaurants and the water.

This was a popular anchorage with a lot of boat oriented trades.  We also found plenty of grocery stores.  We tried plantain chips and they were so yummy we bought a plantain and made our own on the boat.  We also tried breadfruit for the first time and found it is similar to a potato and made chips out of it too.  Can't go wrong with deep fried goodness.

Cool path built along the shore
We walked to the turtle hatchery and met the owner and founder.  He has an interesting place and a unique story as to how he started his turtle shelter.
Two day old Loggerhead Turtles

The wind changed again (lighter) so we took advantage and had a fast sail to the Tabago Cays. 

Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

We stopped to rest here and didn't visit much of the island.  From what we saw this place is where people come to relax.  There is a Sanadals resort and the place seemed like your typical touristy destination.
We took the dinghy over to Pigeon Island where we paid a small fee to walk up the the fort.  The kids love to hike up steep inclines.  The island was beautiful with all of the bright red flowering trees and other plant life.  We came back that afternoon to enjoy the beach.

Fruit/Vegetable Guy's Boat

In town we found one of the biggest hardware stores and pedestrian mall we have seen since we left the United States.  There was a very nice Marina where we got our propane tanks filled.  

We moved on quickly and decided to skip the rest of St. Lucia.  We chose to admire it from the water as we sailed by.  The Pitons were beautiful.  We also skipped St. Vincent as from what we have read it is not as cruiser friendly with deep water anchorages.  


The sail from Dominica to Martinique was fairly calm considering what we have done so far down the islands.  It turned into a motor sailing passage.

Our first anchorage was St. Pierre where the famous Mt. Pelee erupted.  We toured the town and museum as part of school to get the full effect and idea of what happened.  Some signs were in English but again, mostly French as Martinique is also part of France.  
The next day we walked to the rum distillery.  What a beautiful place!  Even the kids had a good time though they are too young to imbibe.  Paul called it the highlight of his cruise.  Ha! ha!
The kids in the prison cell where Cyparis survived the 1902 eruption of Mount Pelee

We have found plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables along with plenty of butter filled pastries, chocolate pastries and new found apple filled ones.  Wow!  Just when I thought my girlish figure was not in danger.  

Next stop was Fort De France, a big city where you can find just about anything you could possibly need.  We walked to a couple of museums and found all the writing in French.  The library had great pictures posted of surrounding Martinique and fast free wifi.  The trip through town was interesting and fun to walk around.  The anchorage was a bit rolly so we took off for St. Anne the next day.  We had to sail straight into the trade winds so we picked a day that the wind was predicted to be light.  

Once we arrived we found a bazillion other cruising boats.  This is the place to be if you live aboard or just love sailing.  While we were anchored near St. Anne we did a short dinghy ride into Le Marin and found even more boats.  I can't even begin to tell you how many charter catamarans we saw at the marina.  They seemed to be stacked on top of each other.  

We also checked out St. Anne enjoying more butter filled pastries and French bread, Yum!  They have a cool church up a steep winding hill that we hiked to and a nice trail that goes around the end of the island along the water. 

The Yoles Rondes race came through while we were anchored out making water.  The racers were bailing as fast as they were racing.  So many boats travel along side the racing boats that it made the water in the bay look like a big washing machine.  We all quickly chose our favorites for the race and watched as they all went by.  The racers left the next morning going around a few marks close to our boat.  We watched as three boats went down for various problems or issues but got themselves back up and running in no time.  Wow!
One of the race boats being followed by every type of craft

Our time here is coming to an end and next stop for us will be St Lucia. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015


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 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


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.