Sunday, February 26, 2017

Friends and Fun in Martinique

We said “au revoir” to Molly’s mom and sister in The Saintes and then headed south towards Martinique.  

Mt Pelee volcano in St Pierre, Martinique is the most deadly mountain in the world – not K2 or Everest as most suspect.  The reason is because of the eruption in 1902 which killed 30,000 people in St Pierre (the only survivor was a prisoner who was in jail for drunk & disorderly conduct).  When we were here in 2014, we didn’t have time for the hike, but now, it was top of the list.  Before we left the Saintes, we mentioned our plans to our friends Tess and Al on Ingomar and they were interested in hiking the volcano as well.

The sail from The Saintes to Martinique, with an overnight (just dropped the anchor, but didn’t go ashore) stop in Dominica, was brisk to say the least.  At one point, as we passed the end of Dominica and expected the winds and waves to increase, we saw a gust up to 47 kts.  Thankfully our sails were already reefed as we have learned to be wary in the Caribbean.  The waves were higher than forecasted and since we were close hauled, the sail was definitely salty.   Once we were in the lee of Martinique (about 6 hours later), we enjoyed beautiful rainbows and calm anchorages.  The next day we set out to do research on the hike and made plans to meet Ingomar and head to the trailhead.
Logistics of traveling by anything other than foot in St Pierre wasn’t simple, but we made it work.  We made arrangements with our cab driver to pick us up at the trailhead in three hours and we set out to see as much as we could in that timeframe.   It was a great workout and though we were surrounded by clouds most of the day, there were times that they would break and we could see the bay where Terrapin and Ingomar were anchored and the amazing views of Martinique.  The habitat that has been created since the eruption is so lush and unique – it is truly amazing.  The birds, flora and fauna are gorgeous and we feel privileged to be here as not everyone is able to see these things - sometimes the effort can be prohibitive.

After the hike, we headed back to St Pierre and had a great lunch with Tess and Al.  Baxter and I made plans to leave the next day for St Anne at the southern end of Martinique.  The first day we stopped in Grand Anse D’arlet and then planned to head to St Anne the next day.  Once again, our sail was “brisk” with the wind and waves more than forecasted.  At one point, as we rounded Diamond Rock, the waves were approximately 15 feet, curling into the cockpit and the winds were 40+ kts, right on the nose.  Alas, by noon, we were enjoying a tasty cold beverage at a French cafĂ© and laughing about the weather.

St Anne was the furthest south in the Caribbean we would be going this winter as we have plans in March and April and needed to start heading north.  We also had friends flying into Dominica in a week or so.  Before we left, we had a great day with Sabrina and Tom on Honey Ryder – who we have been friends with since we had Stella Blue.  It was great to see them and catch up on past adventures and future plans. 

The next day, we pulled up the anchor and headed north.  Admittedly, I love French islands and was a bit sad taking down our country flag but knowing that we’ll be back or can return anytime makes me feel better.  Au Revoir Martinique – A bien tot!

Mt Pelee in a momentary clearing
Just above the hike down into the caldera and back up to the "1902 Cone"
Homage to the victims of the eruption
Just the beginning...
As the clouds cleared and the lush mountainsides came into view
The hike up from the caldera is so steep there is one section with an actual ladder

Friday, February 24, 2017

Tour de Guadeloupe

Having spent a great time in Antigua, we looked forward to our next adventure with Molly’s Mom and sister, Lauri. 

We had an amazing sail to Deshaies (pronounced Day-Ay), Guadeloupe with 15 knots on the beam and flat seas.  Terrapin cruised along at 6.5 knots.  Surprisingly enough, when we arrived, we found a relatively good place to anchor in 38 feet.  We put the dinghy in the water and headed to check-in.  The clothing store where you check-in to Guadeloupe (gotta love the French islands) was closed for the afternoon siesta and at 3pm, I was second in line ready to go.  Unfortunately, the guy in front of me was 1) Not used to a French keyboard, and not a typist at all 2) on a chartered boat with 7 other people 3) Not used to checking in to a foreign country.  He took 54 minutes to check in and the five germans behind me were very frustrated.  Thankfully, I was able to finish my paperwork in four minutes.

The next day Baxter noticed that a shackle on the boom that holds the main sheet had broken completely off it’s weld.  Deshaies is NOT the place to get your boat fixed.  So, we took a two-hour bus ride (30 miles) to Pointe-a-Pitre to find a chandlerie that might know of a welder (we learned welder in French, “Une soudure”).  It was a crazy adventure but we finally accomplished our mission and took another two-hour bus ride back to Deshaies.  Baxter reinstalled the shackle in less than 5 minutes and we were off to ask Kala’s forgiveness for leaving her by herself all day by taking her for a beach surf/swim session.

Molly’s Mom and Lauri arrived in Deshaies the next morning.  Neither had been to Terrapin before so we spent the next couple hours on orientation and safety.  Then the heat of the afternoon gave us a good reason to show Lauri the nice reef and her first snorkel from the dinghy.
We continued to give them a tour-de-Guadeloupe including more snorkeling at Malendure Beach and the Jacques Cousteau Marine Park.  The snorkeling there has to be in the top five sites in the world.  You can see clearly to the bottom in 70 feet  of water– similar to what I imagine it would be like in a fish bowl. 

One of our favorite places in Guadeloupe is Iles des Saintes so that was our next stop.  We hiked Fort Josephine, walked around town, and had a great time watching boats come and go.  Alas, it was time for Mom and Lauri to head back.  They decided to continue the adventure by taking a ferry to Trois Rivieres for a night in a hotel with hot showers and a room with freezing cold air conditioners before their flight home to Florida. 

Baxter and I will continue to head south and look forward to our next guests arriving the first week of February.

Beautiful day for a sail

15 kts of breeze and lots of sunshine

Bonjour la tortue!

Let the party begin with the first rum punch
Come with me
Snorkel selfie
Fun times!
No filter - seriously - colors are due to Montserrat sediment in the air


Focused and concentrating 

Time to dive the anchor

Uh-oh, the Pixley girls are here

Welcome to Terrapin boat showers Mom

So much more fun than getting mad about US politics

Mom & Me

Getting her float on

Having a talk with my girl

Trying to find good wee-fee

Terrapin birthdays are the best birthdays

The view from Ft Josephine

Nothin' but sass

Monday, January 30, 2017

Antigua Continued....

After dealing with flies in Jolly, Deep Bay and Five Islands, we decided to venture to a little south and anchored in Falmouth Harbour.  Falmouth is a short walk to English Harbour and Nelson's Dockyard (as in Horatio Nelson).  Lots of history and cool relics that are still in use today.

While we were on the boat one afternoon, our friends Malcolm and Elia on Orion went by looking for a spot to drop the hook.  It was great to see them since our last rendezvous was in the BVI in November.  We spent a couple days hanging out with Malcolm and Elia hiking, playing music and going to the Shirley Heights party on Sunday.  

The next day, Patty and Peter on Seredipitous was in the anchorage...that night Orion, Terrapin, and Nomad were all invited over to Toodle-O! with Bill and Laurie who needed us to help them "mop up" a bag of wine that had broken during a passage.  Oh, yeah, everyone was happy to participate.  Also, there was Tom and Susan on Nomad and it was great to make new friends and share a toast together!

As the weather was abating, it was time for us to say goodbye and sail to Guadeloupe to pick up Molly's Mom and Sister.  Patty and Peter even stopped by to lend us a fender step to help if needed with boat access...the people you meet cruising are truly kind and so thoughtful!

Looking north into Falmouth. Terrapin is left of center. 

The inlet into Falmouth on a beautiful calm day.

Many parts of the island is inhabited by goats...the new babies were so adorable...Elia considered taking one as a birthday present.
Hiking with our sailing friends from S/V Orion. English Harbour is in the background which lies to the east of Falmouth about 1nm.

A better view of the inlet to English Harbour which encompasses Nelson's Dockyard a very famous naval yard and UNESCO Historical Site.

Some of the yachts in English. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Cheri-O and Pinkies Up! Greetings from Antigua

Hello from Antigua, a very British island with a lot of fun bays, islands and anchorages to explore.

We checked into the country at Jolly Harbour and spent a week between Jolly, Deep Bay and Five Islands Bay.  The water in Antigua is an amazing color of teal and the sunsets at Jolly are enough to make you stop and stare while the sun says goodbye for the day.

We also love English Harbor so we cruised the Goathead Channel along the west coast of the island and anchored in Falmouth for a few days.  The latest cold front is moving in and the winds are backing to almost 350 (just west of due north)...crazy for the Caribbean and it's typical trade wind pattern.

Molly snorkeling on the Andes which sank in 1905 in Deep Bay, Antigua. Guess the bay wasn't deep enough :>)

The anti-siphon valve that keeps our aft-head (toilet) back flowing for a few weeks until we located the issue and replaced the $5 valve. Yay, boat projects.

New snubber and Wichard chain hook. The hook is french and very cool especially since we love all french sailing toys.
The much talked about and awesome Wichard chain hook. As an aside, Wichard donated a lot of hardware to Bernard Moitessier when he entered the Golden Globe race.

Fort Barrington overlooking Deep Bay.
View from Fort Barrington with Terrapin in the center and the Andes wreck barely visible on the far right
Obligatory dog & beach photo. This was secluded beach #4 on this day for Kala. #doglife
When you don't have kids you add more photos of your dog. :>)
The sail from Deep Bay to Five Islands, Antigua. We were doing 6kts with the genoa only. This was the kind of day that we look forward to.
Yes, the sunsets in the Caribbean are awesome too!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A picture is worth 1,000 words

Sailing by the Star Clipper Cruise Ship (from top of a wave)
Same picture from bottom of the wave - notice you can't see the 20 ft hull of the ship
Antigua sunset - waiting for the green flash
Anse de Colombier - Terrapin just to left of rock and Ile Forchue in background, St Marten in far background.
Leaving St Barth's...all those white dots are the dozens of mega yachts clambering for an anchor spot on NYE
One of ??(we lost count) squalls
After squalls, come rainbows....this one over St Kitts (we are on the leeward/ behind the island side) as we made our way to Nevis
Heading to anchor in Nevis for the night.  Christopher Colombus named Nevis "Nostros Senoras de los Nevis" or Our Lady of the Snows after the cloud that is usually over the top of the mountain.
Beautiful schooner as a neighbor in Nevis
Sailing to can see the volcano is still smoldering more than a decade after the first eruption and seven years since the last.
The view of Montserrat (you can see the bottom edge on the left side of the picture) as we sailed to Antigua