NOVEMBER---Grenada to Guadeloupe
Anchored in Clarks Court Bay on November 1. Took the dingy over to Hog Island for a walk around the island and then a have couple beers at Roger's with Bill and Leona (VOYAGEUR C). Hog Island has been divided into lots and a few rough roads are in place but no further development. Besides the Cruisers sitting around drinking at Roger's there were lots of locals grilling fish, drinking beer and smoking dope--a busy day at the beach. Didn't have my camera with me to take pictures. The next evening, Bill and Leona invited us over for dinner along with Phil from BIOTHIC--a very pleasant evening. The next day, Carl and I motored over to St. George where we ran some errands (groceries, fuel and DVD movies) and spent the night.
Next destination---Tyrell Bay, Carriacou. Had to motorsail the first 18 nautical miles (nm) before we could get a better angle to sail the next 14 nm--close haul all the way. By the way, I used to hate having to sail close haul but had to get used to it. Now I don't mind it if I am at the wheel. Our route took us just outside the exclusion zone of the underwater volcano called " Kick 'em Jenny". This volcano is "active" but hasn't erupted since 1989. Two fishing lines out for 30 nm without one bite. One hour out of Carriacou, we encountered a 30 knot squall with lots of rain to rinse the salt off the boat. Stayed two nights at Tyrell Bay where I took in 5 loads of laundry--drop the laundry off in the morning and pick it up all clean, dry and folded by 2:00 P.M.. Now that makes cruising easier.
Enjoyed a great sail from Tyrell Bay to Clifton Harbor, Union Island. This sail required me to point as high as possible to make it to Clifton Harbor on one tack. Dragged one fishing line 10 nm without one bite. Walked with Bill and Leona to the north side of Union Island and then stopped at a hilltop bar to enjoy a beer, the view and the cool sea breeze.
Sailed 5 nm over to the Tobago Cays using the "South Exit". By the way, according to the guidebook, "This route is not recommended as a way to enter the Cays, as it is hard to find, and many yachts have gone aground in the attempt." Oh well, we used it as the "South Entrance". We did not go aground on a reef but had to use the water colors to identify the route. Must admit that as long as the sun was shining the route was easy to see. DISCOVERY's Captain and First Mate have different ideas regarding routes. The First Mate likes the safest route while the Captain likes the shortest route. No fishing lines out for this short trip because the Tobago Cays are a national park where fishing is prohibited. The Tobago Cays are beautiful---saw a couple manta rays jump out of the water and many, many turtles. The highlight of our stay in the Cays was a beach barbecue with cruisers from VOYAGER C (Bill and Leona) and RUM RUNNER (Jay, Jennifer and Jennifer's parents). The main event--grilled lobster which was delicious plus some great sides. It was expensive but what the heck---dinner served on the beach at sunset with a beautiful view is priceless!
The following four pictures were taken in the Grenadines. The first picture was taken in the hilltop bar on Union Island. The next picture is Jay and Jennifer (Rum Runner) at the beach barbeque. Jay and Jennifer brought champagne for everyone to make a toast to celebrate our dinner. The third picture is Romeo serving the grilled lobster. The last picture is our group enjoying our dinner on the beach overlooking the sea. (03, 04, 05, 06)
When we left the Tobago Cays, our plan was to sail to Salt Whistle which is a beautiful anchorage on Mayreau---many people think it is the most beautiful anchorage in the Caribbean. When we were close to Salt Whistle, I could see 11 masts and 3 large sports fishing yachts which meant this small anchorage was already crowded and more boats would arrive later in the day. Not only was the anchorage crowded, the sailing conditions were great--12 knots with relatively flat seas so we changed our destination to Bequia. Once we were out of the "no fishing boundary", Carl had two fishing lines out for 20 nm without a bite! Once again our point of sail was close hauled. Planned to stay in Bequia for a couple days, however, Bill and Leona (VOYAGER C) stopped by the boat to ask if we were interested in going to Young Island (a small island off of St. Vincent) with them the next morning to do some land touring. Sounded good. Sailing requires flexibility---Plans for the next destination is written in jello.
Young Island is less than 9 nm from Bequia. The wind was on our nose so we motored all the way---no fishing lines were out. At Young's Island we picked up a mooring so we could leave our boats while we went on our land touring adventures. Took a maxi taxi into Kingston where we walked around--stopped at the Fresh Market and at the Botanical Garden. St. Vincent claims their Botanical Garden is the oldest such gardens in the Western Hemisphere. Also, these gardens were Captain Bligh's original destination when the mutiny on HMS Bounty delayed his first scheduled arrival. The HMS Bounty was commissioned by the British Admiralty to bring breadfruit saplings from Tahiti to the New World as food for the slaves. Bligh completed a second voyage with the breadfruit sapling after resolving the mutiny issues in court. A descendant of one of the original breadfruit trees he brought still thrives in the garden! The next day we hired a taxi driver as our guide for a hike up the Soufrière Volcano. The Soufrière's crater rim is at 3800 feet. and last erupted in 1979. The hike up to the volcano is about 3.25 miles. The first half of the hike is through bamboo and tropical tress up a cut trail with hundreds of steps (risers for steps holding the dirt back were made of bamboo). The forest provided shade from the sun but it also blocked the breeze coming off the windward side of the island. In the forested area, the humidity was so high that my shorts and shirt were totally soaked from perspiration. The second half of the hike is wide open across lava ridges with loose small stone. We needed a guide for the last part of the hike (about 2/3 of the way up) because the trails are washed out by heavy rain so the route to the top changes and isn't apparent. Had to get across a couple deep ravines by scrambling down into the gully and then back up on the opposite side. The top of the volcano is often blanketed in clouds with periodic breaks. We were lucky--when we were at the top of the volcano, the clouds broke up several times so we had a several chances to enjoy the breathtaking view. The crater has a huge smoking volcanic dome in the middle. It is also very windy at the top so we cautiously crawled on our hands and knees to the very edge of the crater for a view--1000 feet straight down. It took us 1 hour and 40 minutes to hike up and a little less to get down. This hike was so much fun, great exercise and such beautiful scenery.
These three pictures were taken in Kingston. The fruit market, a Calabash Tree and the Canonball Flower in the Botanical Gardens. The gourds from the Calabash tree make great bowls. The Canonball Flower lives only one day--new flowers appear every day. (07, 08, 09)
The next 10 pictures were taken on our hike to the volcano. The first picture is Carl riding in a comfortable air conditioned van. Doesn't he look relaxed? The next picture was taken early in our hike before we starting our ascent--Bill, Leona, Carl and James. The next six pictures were taken at the top--you can tell from my hair that it was windy. Picture 9 shows the trail where the rain water eroded the trail. You have to slide down into the ravine and find a way back up on the opposite side. We had to climb through a couple of these things. The last picture is Carl on the bamboo steps working our way down. What a wonderful experience. (010, 011, 012, 013, 014, 015, 016, 017, 018, 019),
Enjoyed a fast 57 nm sail from Young Island to Marigot Bay, St. Lucia on a beam reach. Two fishing lines out for 55 nm without a bite! VOYAGEUR C decided to continue on to Rodney Bay but we had not been into Marigot Bay so we stopped. Marigot Bay is beautiful--nice beach with tall palm trees. However, it is very "resorty"--first class resorts with spas that I could not afford. A historical tidbit about Marigot Bay---the entrance is so well hidden that the British Navy once hid their fleet from the pursuing French, disguising the masts by tying coconut fronds in the rigging. The French Navy just sailed on by wondering where the Brits went! The anchorage is lovely but it isn't our cup of tea so we walked around to looks it over and then headed to Rodney Bay for 1-2 nights.
It was a slow sail from Marigot Bay to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia only 8 nm on a close haul. Encountered one squall which rinsed the boat off---the one positive aspect of a squall. No fishing lines out pn this short run. After clearing Customs & Immigration, Carl and I ran a few errands and then stopped for ice cream. In Rodney Bay we met up with Lee and Sharon on ALLEGRO. First met Lee and Sharon in St. Martin in 2008 and then again in Trinidad. In fact, in Trinidad, Lee bought new anchor chain for his boat so we took Lee's old chain for our primary anchor (our chain was much more worn out then Lee's old chain).. ALLEGRO invited DISCOVERY and VOYAGEUR C over for Happy Hour. Lee and Sharon have extra crew--two friends, Kirby and Barry, because Lee had surgery on his rotator cup the middle of October so he isn't able to handle the sails or basically do any physical work. Barry is from Iron, Michigan. Sharon and Tony on HOOF BEATS were also invited over so we met them for the first time. The four boats decided to leave the next morning for Le Marin, Martinique.
Another fast sail from Rodney Bay, St. Lucia to Le Marin Martinique--24 nm
on a close reach. Two fishing lines out for 18 nm--once again not one bite.
Went to the grocery store to buy some wine, baguettes, yogurt and cheese. The
French Islands (Martinique and Guadeloupe) are a great source of wine and cheese
but there are no bargains to be found as the Euro is
pretty strong compared to the US dollar (One Euro equals $1.50 US). While in Le Marin, we had the three other boats we were traveling with over to DISCOVERY for cocktails.
From Le Marin we sailed to Grande Anse D'Arlet--16 nm on a beam reach. Two fishing lines out--no bites. This is a beautiful anchorage. While here we hiked up Mont Champagne and down the other side to the smaller bay of Anse D'Arlet. In Anse D' Arlet we found a small fruit and vegetable stand and a great bakery. Walked the road back to Grande Anse D'Arlet. One day we had lunch at Ti Sable which is a nice resort with WiFi and a fantastic chef.
The next six pictures were taken during our stay at Grande Anse D'Arlet. The first picture was taken during the hike up Mont Champagne--Leona and Barry is in front of her. The second picture is the bay on the other side of the mountain. Picture three is Carl playing tourist! Picture four, five and six were taken during lunch at Ti Sable--Bill and Leona at the table, next is my lunch and last is Carl's lunch. The food was as good as it looks in these photos. (021, 022, 023, 024, 025, 026)
Sailed 17 nm--close hauled to St. Pierre, Martinique. The fishing lines were out for 16 nm--no bites. Just north of St. Pierre is the Mt. Pelee volcano which erupted in 1902. Prior to the eruption, St. Pierre (population 30,000) was the "Paris of the Caribbean"---the commerical, cultural and social center of Martinique. St. Pierre was surrounded by plantations which were sources of rum, sugar, coffee and cocoa. The volcano gave several warnings before the eruption on May 8th which destroyed St. Pierre. Rumblings began in late April and on May 2, a vast avalanche of boiling volcanic mud roared down the mountain on the Guerin Plantation just north of St. Pierre. This eruption also caused a tidal wave that swept into St. Pierre---50 feet high and hissing like a million snakes. One ship in the harbor was sunk and cargo in warehouses on shore destroyed. News of the lava flow plus the tidal wave resulted in widespread panic. On May 6, the Mayor of St. Pierre puts posters up all over the city telling the people they were not in danger and they should remain in the city! Why wasn't there an evacuation? Probably three reasons: 1) The island's Governor met with "experts" to evaluate the situation. The experts thought St. Pierre was safe---the eruption on May 2 relieved a lot of pressure making it less dangerous; 2) Evacuation would be difficult with a huge dislocation of 30,000 people, financial losses and the challenge of housing and feeding the refugees; and 3) Evacuation would affect the coming elections in which blacks were bucking the status quo for the first time. On the morning of May 7, the volcano erupted again and the underwater telegraph cable broke so the communication link St. Pierre needed was dead. Sunday morning, May 8 was Ascension Day one of the biggest and most important Catholic Church services of the year. People from nearby Fort-de-France were coming to St. Pierre for the church service. As they approached the mountain road they stopped--a mini hurricane wind bent trees and broke branches and a glowing rock stratum grew around the summit of the volcano. A dark cloud covered the mountain hiding the sun. Suddenly a terrifying roar and a cloud of superheated gas and steam swept down to St. Pierre. The red glowing ball set fire to everything in its path. The city was reduced to rubble with its population cremated. Twelve ships in the harbor were destroyed at anchor--one managed to limp away with a few survivors. Two people in St. Pierre survived--Leon Leandre, a cobbler who was in the far southeastern part of town must have been "lucky". He suffered from severe burns but survived while others in the same house and in surrounding houses did not. The second survivor on land was Cyparis who was in a heavy stone dungeon two floors below the police station where he was protected from the heat and gases. A ship's boy, Jean Baptiste Innocent, was on the dock---he saw the firestorm approaching so he dived underwater staying down as long as he could. When he surfaced the town was on fire. Jean Baptiste clung on to a plank and was eventually rescued--he doesn't count as one who survived on land since his refuge was the sea! People started to move back to St. Pierre by 1929 when there was another eruption--this time everyone evacuated. The 1929 eruption was not as devastating was the one is 1902 so once again people returned and the city continued to thrive. We visited the museum with pictures before and after the eruption plus hundreds of artifacts from 1902---glassware, musical instruments, church bells, china plates, metal furniture all melted together. Also went to the Theatre and Prison ruins. It was so interesting.
The following four pictures were taken at St. Pierre. Picture one is Mt. Pelee quickly snapped when there was a break in the clouds so you can see the top. The next picture is Carl and I standing in the archway into the St. Pierre Theatre that was demolished during the eruption of 1902. Picture three and four are ruins--the prison where Cyparis survived and the Theatre. (027, 028, 029, 030)
Sailed on a close reach 56 nm to Portsmouth, Dominica. This was a very fast sail, very fast!. Two fishing lines out---about 15 nm from the north end of Martinique something was on the line. Carl just happened to look back and saw a large fish come out of the water twice chasing the lure and wham--he had it. My job was to slow the boat down so I let some sail out and headed directly into the wind. It was a good size Mahi Mahi (one of our favorite fish). Carl brought it to the side of the boat--grabbed the gaff hook but was too squeamish to use it. The fish flopped around and came off the hook. Disappointed but still excited that we could catch something other than barracuda. As we pulled into Portsmouth we were greeted by the River Guide "PROVIDENCE"---Martin Carrierre who functioned as our guide and helped us complete various chores such as laundry and filling the jerry jugs with diesel.
Loved it in Dominica---beautiful, friendly and laid-back. One afternoon we took the River Tour with Martin as our guide. The Indian River was used by explorers such as Christopher Columbus who journeyed up the river to visit the Caribe Indians to obtain food. The river is a national park--can't use the outboard engine so Martin rowed our boat up the river and back again---you would not believe how quiet it was. Saw a variety of tropical trees, flowers, birds and land crabs. Rowed past the site where the Caribbean Witch, Tia Dalma, had her shack in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. I asked Martin if he met any of the stars like Orlando Bloom or Johnny Depp when the movie was filmed in Dominica. Martin said the stars stayed on large yachts in the harbor making them inaccessible to the public. Saturday morning before our full day tour with Martin, I went to the Portsmouth Fresh Market. Lots of vendors selling vegetables and tropical fruits. Tried to buy some fresh fish but by the time I made it to the stand the fish was all gone. Around 9:00 AM, Martin picked up a group of cruisers (Bill & Leona on VOYAGEUR C, and Barry and Kirby the crew on ALLEGRO) for a day tour. Stopped at Stalin's farm (a friend of Martin) where we sampled some fresh fruit and picked up spices such as ginger root, bay leaves, cinnamon, rosemary and thyme. Hiked down a volcano crater to the "cold volcano". Here sulphur gases escape into pools of water. You would expect the water to be boiling hot but it is cold.....the volcano is so deep the gases cool before reaching the surface. While the other volcanic islands of the Lesser Antilles have only one active volcano, Dominica has nine and yet there has been no major eruptions since Columbus visited the island. There is a general feeling among scientist who study volcanoes that because of all the seismic and geothermal activity an eruption is long overdue for Dominica. Lets hope not! Back to the tour--we stopped at a deserted rum distillery with a water wheel that was used in Pirates of the Caribbean by Jack Sparrow. Visited the red rocks and a beach used during the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean. The Pirates of the Caribbean series was filmed in Dominica, St. Vincent and some scenes were filmed in the Bahamas! I want to watch the movies again with a sharp eye looking for familar places. Sunday morning VOYAGEUR C, HOOF BEATS, ALLERGRO and DISCOVERY plus a stray local dog hiked to Cabrits National Park which contains the ruins of a military garrison used by British and French forces 1770-1854. The park's centerpiece is Fort Shirley which consists of more than 50 surrounding buildings. Walked on various trails that meander through trees. The stray dog followed us the entire time in spite of commands like "Go home. Get out of here." By the end of our walk we had all accepted the stray as our new friend. Monday, Kirby, Barry, Bill, Leona, Sharon, Tony and I hopped a bus to Roseau the island's capital. There was a cruise ship at the dock so the taxi drivers would stop us to offer a tour to which we explained we weren't on the cruise ship! Bill, Leona, Sharon and I walked to the Botanical Gardens which is too large to cover on foot---44 acres. This garden was heavily damaged by Hurricane David back in 1979--there is a city bus crushed by a massive baobab tree which is now a monument to the storm. Had lunch at Fort Hood and then returned to our boats. The taxi ride back was interesting--the engine would back fire and we could barely make it up and over the mountains--water in the fuel.
The next 12 pictures were taken during our Dominica tours. The first one is a label of Kubuli beer which is the local beer. Almost every island has their own local beer--St. Lucia has Piton beer, Martinique has Lorraine and Dominica's is Kubuli. Kubuli is part of the original name for Dominica. That is, the Caribe Indians called Dominica "Wai'tukubuli" which means "Tall in Her Body". The next three pictures were taken on the Indian River Tour. Picture five was taken at the Portsmouth Fresh Market. Picture seven and eight were taken on the hike into the "cold volcano". Picture nine is the water wheel used in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie--can't you see Johnny Depp hopping from wheel bucket to bucket? Picture ten and eleven were taken at the red rocks--teenagers use the little hideaway in number eleven! The last picture is one of the many beautiful beaches we saw on this tour. (032, 033, 034, 035, 036, 037, 038, 039, 040, 042, 043, 044)
The next four pictures were taken on our hike to Cabrits National Park. Included a picture of the stray dog that walked with us the entire time. Notice in the last picture how the forest takes over the buildings. (045, 046, 047, 048)
One afternoon Martin made fresh pina colada for everyone. We were invited over to Allegro to enjoy a drink made with fresh coconut and pineapple. (049, 050)
The sail 21 nm sail from Portsmouth, Dominica to The Saintes (islands belonging to Guadeloupe) was a very close hauled. Two fishing lines out for 18.5 nm without a bite. Carl reeled everything in as we entered the southwest passage. VOYAGEUR C had one line out in the area where Carl reeled his in---Leona caught a decent size black fin tuna. Trying to clear Customs and Immigration here was a new experience. The procedure that is supposed to be in place is to report to the Police Station to fill out forms. The police will fax the forms to Customs and Immigration in Pointe A Pitre. However, when you show up at the Police Station the policeman on duty tells you "You can stay here, relax, have a good time and clear when you get to Deshaies"!!! We did as instructed--relaxed and had a good time.
Celebrated Thanksgiving in The Saintes with ALLEGRO, HOOF BEATS, VOYAGEUR C and BONANZA. Sharon ( ALLEGRO) prepared a turkey, Leona prepared a ham plus she made coconut macaroons and mince tarts, Sharon (HOOF BEATS) made two kinds of potatoes plus she and Tony hosted the dinner, I made fried plantains, carrot salad, green bean casserole and the dressing/stuffing. Barry (one of ALLERGRO's crew) made the gravy which was really good. Roy and Michelle on BONANZA arrived in the anchorage about two or three hours before dinner so we were happy to have them attend (they are cruising buddies of Bill and Leona). The dinner was a terrific blend of traditional and Caribbean food.
Below are pictures taken on Thanksgiving Day. The first picture was taken early in the day of me preparing vegetables for the dressing and carrot salad. The second picture is HOOF BEATS where the celebration was held and the remaining picture of guests preparing or enjoying dinner. (052, 053, 054, 055, 056, 57)
During the night (2:00 AM Friday) a fairly strong squall passed through. I heard the wind so the hatches and ports were closed before the rain hit. In the morning, VOYAGEUR C and BONANZA left for Pointe A Pitre while the rest of the group stayed. Lee & Sharon, Tony & Sharon, and Carl & I rented motor scooters to bop around the island of Terre Den Haut. Carl and I headed up the steep and winding hill with hairpin turns to Fort Napoleon---came around a corner to find two motor scooters off the road. Two people were injured---the ambulance was called (broken leg on a man and broken leg on a women). Have to admit this scene dampened my enthusiasm just a little. Covered every inch of the island which isn't very big. Carl was getting the a handle on driving that scooter by lunch time which helped me to relax and enjoy the ride and scenery. Our last stop was Plage de Crawen--on the road back from Plage de Crawen, Sharon and Lee tipped their scooter. Sharon's leg was burned by the hot muffler--the muffler also burned Lee's leg. This episode really put the damper on my enthusiasm for motor scooter. I had some prescription Silvadene Creme for the burns. That evening, Sharon, Lee, Barry, Kirby, Sharon, Tony, Carl and I had dinner at Les 3 Boats run by Georges Garcon , AKA Chicken George. He is an excellent chef. Had a set price dinner for 16 Euros---Planters Tea (strong rum drink), a fish bisque, fish pate, wahoo and a flan for dessert. Saturday, Carl helped Tony work on HOOF BEAT'S generator while I stayed on the boat cleaning and reading. Sunday, Sharon, Sharon and I went shopping--for me it was looking because everything was so expensive (very stylish but outrageously priced).
Below is a picture of of Carl and I on the scooter we rented. The second picture is Georges Garcon (AKA Chicken George) who prepared and served an excellent dinner at Les 3 Boats. Caught Tony in the foreground! (060, 058)
Five nights in The Saintes were more than enough for Carl so we left on Monday for Deshaies, Guadeloupe. The distance between The Saintes and Deshaies is 29 nm (a little over 5 hours). Ended up sailing most of the way close hauled. Carl put his fishing lines out when we were about 1 nm out. Just before we reached Basse Terre, something was on the line out over the port side of the boat. Reeled it in--we think it is a Little Tunny or False Albacore. A minute or two after getting that fish on board the line out from the starboard side of the boat had a fish on it. Another Little Tunny. Finally I can report that we caught a fish that we can eat!!!! Arrived in Deshaies where we finally clear Customs and Immigration by going to a gift shop and completing forms on-line. Five days in Guadeloupe before we could clear in. The on-line process let us clear in and out at the same time--these French islands are easy to get in and out of.
Below is a picture of the two Little Tunnies (AKA False Albacore) that Carl caught on November 30. (059)
The month of November was perfect for sailing----moderate winds and small seas. Daily temperatures---highs around 90 and lows around 80 although the past week the evenings have been down to the mid-70's. Sea temperatures for swimming has been around 83. This is living!
December 2, 2009