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.