We have not sailed off the edge of the earth…

...even though the computer navigation program often looks as if we are about to! We did however leave Rodney Bay, St Lucia on the 13th of June and have been pretty much out of touch since. First stop was Admiralty Bay, Bequia to check in for St Vincent and the Grenadines. A couple days there waiting for a "tropical wave" to pass and we were on to Saline Bay Meyreau. A night there and we moved out to the Tobago Cays Marine Park. We snorkeled in a turtle protection area (yes, lots of turtles) but the weather was unsettled, anchorage rough, and forecast calling for more wind so we headed for Union Island after a much too short visit.

   We loved Chatham Bay, Union Isle and the $2 Rum Punch happy hours at the open air Sun Beach & Eat restaurant/bar while another "tropical wave" blew through. Three days ago we headed south to Hillsborough Bay, Carricou to check in as this is (unknown to me prior) part of Grenada, then around the corner to Tyrrel Bay where yesterday we rode out yet ANOTHER "tropical wave" seeing wind over 35kts in the protected anchorage. Tomorrow we are hauling anchor to head south for Grenada proper, probably Prickly Bay, where I’ll spend a month doing boat work while Lynn heads back to the states to visit her family. Hopefully we will find a good Wi-Fi connection to upload photos.

  12 deg 27.404 min North

061 deg 29.317 min West


Fort du France

We spent almost a week in Martinique, reprovisioning and sightseeing.  The city of Fort du France is the capital and the largest city. It''s a great place to wander, which we did a lot.  The Martiniquois are a mix of indian, caribee and European and are a good looking lot and very tall! The skin colors range from kind-of-white-with-freckels (like me when I have a tan) to cafe au lait to the very darkest of dark chocolate.  There were quite a few inter racial couples, something that, while not uncommon on the other islands, was definately more noticeable here. 
The grocery stores are modern and fairly well stocked and we took advantage of the short walk to the dinghy dock to pick up some of the more bulky items: toilet paper, coffee and cat litter.  It's a challenge to shop in a French 'super marche', I have to take a dictionary to see what it is we're really buying.  And then there's the money.  We've gone back and forth and back and forth between the Euro and Eastern Caribbean Currency as we've gone from island to island.  I'm sure I look pretty funny standing in the isle trying to remember which currency we're using today and which way to divide the dollar and is that a good price for a kilo of rice? And, yes, things are in kilos and grams which also adds to the equation. Anyway, it's great fun and we've had more fun trying the new foods that we're finding here.

 We took a look around the Schoelcher Library in Fort du France.  It was designed by Gustav Eifel, built in France and shipped to Martinique in pieces in 1889.  It's a very elaborate building, made of metal and is still used as a library today. It's named after Victor Schoelcher who was a very active slavery abolitionist, there is also a town named for him on the island.

Local rum punches for sale in the market, I like the hats on the upper bottles.
We went through the main Market where there was everything for sale from soup to nuts, literally.  We bought curry and fresh vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks, tomatoes and lettuce. Steve and I were standing having our usual conversation*,  when the vendor overheard us and said "Oh you speak English, so do I! You're English."   Steve said "No, I'm American, my English isn't that good."  The woman was very funny and nice and hardly made fun of my attempts to speak French at all.

* (What's the exchange rate again? No, that's EC, we're using E here. Are you sure? What is this anyway? I don't know, I think it's a christophene. Are they good? I think it's like a potato, only different. Are you sure?)

Produce stall in the market, notice that she takes VISA and MASTERCARD.

We left Martinique yesterday and are currently in Rodney Bay, St Lucia, anchored off a giant Sandals Resort.  There's a lot to see and do here, but we'll keep moving south and try to be in Grenada in a week or so.  The phrase 'tropical wave' keeps coming up in the weather forecasts and we'd like to avoid them if at all possible.

And FYI, according to the guide a christophene "has shallow ridges, is pear shaped, comes in green or white, and grows on a vine.  Somewhat delicate in flavor, it makes an excellent vegetable dish or may be added to curries or stews.  Peel it underwater or with wet hands, as otherwise it leaves a mess on your hands that gives the impression your skin is peeling off.  It is excellent just boiled with salt, pepper and butter and is even better put in a white cheese sauce.  It may also be used raw as a salad ingredient. The seed tastes good raw".


Martinique, Ready or Not

    It was tough to leave Dominica as beautiful as it is. We wanted and planned to stay a few more days, but the wind was forecast to come from the south for about a week if we didn’t leave Friday…so we left in the evening and sailed overnight to Martinique. Well we mostly sailed. By the time we were in the lee of Martinique the wind had died to nothing, so we motored the last several hours. Not all bad since with Nanni sipping .56 gal/hour, we arrived with the water heater hot, the water tank full with all 175 gallons (engine drive water-maker), the fridge plate frozen solid, and the batteries all topped up. The passage was again smooth and uneventful. Lynn was joined on her watch by a large pod of dolphins ripping though the phosphorescent water and leaping alongside Celebration. I on the other hand, had some great sailing, a starlit night, but was greeted by no dolphins, just several large ships to starboard and several small ones to port. It was kind of like sailing right down the median of the highway.

And have I mentioned the FOOD?

    Check in at Fort de France, Martinique was as easy as could be, even on the weekend. We went to the lobby of the Chandlery to fill out the one form on-line (yes just one for check in and out too), printed it, took it inside for signature and stamp, no fees, no fuss, no "officialdom" and we were off. Well almost off as we of course met some other cruisers doing the same thing so note sharing and plans to meet later were obligatory. All in a day’s cruising. So far the French have it hands down on the check in process!

    Like everywhere, we study the local market early in the visit; pick our grocery shopping spots and today we made the large runs to top up before heading off. Tomorrow we’ll head for a more secluded anchorage as we are right down town now, then later in the week when the wind turns east again; we’re headed south to St Lucia. Meanwhile we can relax a little now just 160km from the airport in Grenada where we must be for Lynn’s 30 June flight home.

 14 deg 28.9 min North
061 deg 04.1 min West


Skipping right to Dominica

I know I haven't written anything about St Martin or Antigua or Guadeloupe, but I think you'll get tired of me continually saying how beautiful the beaches are and how great the snorkeling is and how FANTASTIC the fresh baked baguettes are for breakfast, etc. etc. etc. So I'm going to go right over those islands and straight to Dominica.  It's pronounced dome-a-knee-ka and has been, at times, ruled by the Spanish, the French and the British.  The names of the cities, mountains and rivers are a hodge-podge mix of all three languages and have a little Carib Indian thrown in for good measure.  You can go from Salisbury to Trafalgar then on to Morne Espagnol, Dublanc and Soufriere.  They mostly (is mostly even a word?) speak English but lapse into a Caribbean/French Creole when they don't want us foreigners to know what's up. 
Indian River from the Bush Bar.
 There is an interesting industry here, one referred to as "Boat Boys". I guess boaters entering the harbor used to be mobbed by very young men in boats and on surfboards offering all kinds of services and help for everything from laundry to trash disposal.  These days the Boat Boys are now Boat Men and they are organised into a group called PAYS (stands for Portsmouth Area Yacht Security, but actually it's what you do, you pays and you pays and you pays).  They now run most of the tours from this area, in addition to taking care of your laundry and trash.  It's difficult to describe but the way it works is that basically the first boat boy you are approached by becomes YOUR boat boy and you are expected to take your tours on the rivers and on land with him.  The complications arise when you want to take a tour with a few other fellow boaters to take advantage of the group discount.  Who's boat boy gets the business and who'll be upset?  It's too much stress for my stress-free lifestyle.  They also don't seem to understand how freakin'ly independent cruisers are (and how cheap) and that we as a whole don't want to PAY someone to hand us the mooring line that we're very able to pick up for ourselves, thankyouverymuch.
Steve and Chris drinking coconut water.
 Anyway, when in Rome... Our Boat Boy is Jeffrey and he's the president of PAYS.  He wasn't too upset when we did an Indian River tour with a competitor as long as we agreed to an island tour with him later in the week.  Both were wonderful.  The river tour, given by Monty, was quiet and fairly cool. We sampled coconuts, cocoa beans and mangoes, saw bananas ready for harvest.
The view from the restaurant almost made up for the supremely uncomfortable bamboo benches.
 For the island tour, eight of us piled into moreBLING with Winston.  (All the vans and most of the cars had names or sayings applied across the top of the windshield, and for some reason Winston's van said moreBLING, I didn't ask.)  Winston took us to see a bay leaf distillery, a rum distillery, a river where we swam across to a thermal pool, an Emerald Pool where we swam under a waterfall, mango trees, almond trees, cashew trees, passion fruit vines, taro root, on and on and on. 
Carib Indian basket vendors, looking out over the Atlantic.
 After lunch of fried chicken or fish, we were off in moreBLING to see: the Carib Indian reservation and purchase some beautiful handmade baskets, black sand beaches, red rock caves, cassava cooking, mahogany trees and more fruits than I can remember.  We were a quiet, tired group by the end of our 12 hours of touring, but we managed to stop by the grand opening of the new fishing pier here in Portsmouth and buy fresh tuna steaks for $3.20 a pound.  In all, a wonderful day with good friends, old and new.
The group sampling what I think was cassava. left to right: Darwen and Jan, Anne, Winston, Vicki, Chris, Steve and Bob.