Monday, March 27, 2017

St Marten to BVI

After spending a great week with Mary, Regina, Amado and Brent, we started watching the weather for a nice 80-mile passage to the BVIs.  Our tentative plan was to leave Friday when the wind would be less than 30 knots.  At that point, we received an email from more friends from Utah - they just happened to be stopping in St Marten on Thursday, just for the day.  We went into full tour guide mode and created a “fungenda” that would give them a variety of things to do and maximize their 5 hours on the island. 

We picked up Chase, Brandon and Kristen in a rental car and made stops at Maho Beach to watch planes land, Sint Maarten Yacht Club to watch the mega yachts, and hiked Fort Louis (over Marigot Bay where Terrapin was anchored).  It was a full day of fun exploring and catching up. 
The delay due to weather really worked out well – we had stayed just in time for the Heineken Regatta.  This is a fairly big event in the Caribbean and we had not been there for it in the past.  We were able to dinghy out and watch boats flying spinnakers, jibing so close to each other only the people on the boats knew if they actually touched and racing for the finish mark.  One day the races were 300 meters from Terrapin – so exciting, even Kala was watching. 

Our weather window opened on the last day of the regatta so we picked up our anchor at 3:45am for a fantastic sail on a  broad reach to Virgin Gorda.  We arrived at 4pm and picked up a mooring ball at Bitter End, just in time for a tasty sundowner!
Front row seats

Flying the spinny
Up close action

It scares me to think what is included at happy hour at Skanki's???
So lucky to have friends visit!  Chase, Kristen and Brandon only had a few hours so we made the most of it.
Did you think Kala didn't like passages?  She loves them - well, at least the belly rubs
Beautiful sunrise as we sail west towards the BVI
One of the most remarkable things about the Caribbean is the color of the water - a blue that can't be described with words.  Makes us feel so lucky to see it on a daily basis.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Oh Rocna - how we love you so!

Any live aboard cruiser will tell you that a good anchor = a good night's sleep.  When we first purchased our Rocna, the guys in the boat yard made fun of us - they even told us that the anchor was so big it wouldn't fit on the anchor roller.  Well, it did fit, and make fun of us all you want - with the weather in the Caribbean this winter, and winds at anchor over 40 kts on several occasions - it is the only thing I want to have holding Terrapin in place.

Now our only worry is what do the other cruisers around us have under their boat?

Big hook
Perfect set in White Bay, Peter Island, BVI

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The More, The Merrier

After arriving at Anse de Colombier in St Barth’s in the dark, we woke up the next day refreshed and ready to check-in to the country.  We were excited to show Edd and Becca around the island as it is definitely one of our favorites and taking them to most of the great spots would be fun!  We also had chores to catch up on like taking out the trash, cleaning the boat, checking emails, working on taxes, and provisioning.  We started at the captainerie to clear into the country and then we made  a plan to meet for lunch.  Baxter and I went to Tom’s Juice Bar to access the internet and Edd and Becca went exploring.  We met at L’isoletta – where they sell pizza by the meter and you don’t feel bad having a glass of wine at lunch just because everyone else is doing it.  From there, we provisioned, stopped at the chandlery, the pharmacy (they don’t sell ibuprofen at the grocery, only the pharmacy), and headed back to the dinghy.  There are often breaking waves in the small boat pass between Gustavia and Colombier since the area shallows from 100 feet to 5 feet in a small distance…and this was definitely one of those days.  We timed our entry by watching the wave sets, just like a surfer, or risk being flipped over with the outboard, the groceries, and the computers – it would not be good.  Thanks to Baxter’s excellent dinghy master skills, we ran the break perfectly and didn’t even have the bow come up, man, I’m so glad he’s my husband!  The rest of the day was spent playing with Kala on the beach, snorkeling and relishing that we would not be arriving in the dark anywhere tonight – we were already there. 

The following day we were excited to meet up with friends I used to work with in Utah.  Mary, Brent, Regina and Amado had flown into Sint Marteen and were taking the ferry to St Barth’s to sail back with us that afternoon.  Their ferry arrived on time and I was so excited when I saw Mary’s face come around the corner…then Brent, Regina and Amado.  Introductions were made with Edd and Becca and we were off to explore.  We hiked up to Fort Gustavia for a great view of St Marten, Saba, Eustasias, and Ile Forchue.  We also were able to catch a couple planes landing on the crazy runway that is St Barth’s airport.  We had lunch at Le Creperie – it was an insane experience – I don’t know if I’ve ever tasted anything so good – ever.  I have tried to replicate whenever I’ve had crepes on the menu and nothing can compare.  If you’re ever in St Barth’s – if you only have one meal – that is the place to go.  

While Edd, Becca, and Baxter dinghied back to Terrapin (through the small boat channel with the breaking waves), Regina, Amado, Brent, Mary and I took a cab to Anse de Flamande and hiked back to Terrapin along the rugged east coast.  As soon as we arrived, Baxter was heading to the beach with Kala to pick us up.  We shuttled back to Terrapin and set sail west for St Marten.  As we left, we had 12 kts of wind, and we were moving along at about 5 kts.  Shortly after passing Ile Forchue, the wind started fading so we flew the spinnaker…we were lucky to fly it for about 30 minutes but then the wind completely died and we had to motor the rest of the way to Marigot Bay.  We found a great spot to anchor and dropped the hook as the sun was setting.  Mary, Brent, Regina and Amado headed back to their condo and we made plans to meet up the next day. 

After logistical issues, we met back up the next morning and all hiked Fort Louis, including Kala.  Then we thought a day at the beach sounded good – if only we knew someone who was close to one…or had a condo rented on the beach…aha!!  We do!  We headed back to the Utah peeps condo and we spent the day eating, baking birthday cakes, swimming in the pool, sitting in the hot tub, using wifi, and enjoying air-conditioned living rooms (it’s been about 6 months since we’ve done that).  It was such a fantastic day – one that you couldn’t plan any better.  We topped it off with dinner at Little Jerusalem where when you order a falafel off the menu, the owner says, you don’t want that – you want the special (meat)…um, no thank you, I would like the falafel – ok that will take a long time…so we waited a long time and thankfully had great company for lots of laughs and fun stories.  Our dessert was the tasty cake that we had made to celebrate lots of birthdays - Mary, Regina (February 16) and Edd and Baxter (February 12).  It was a great day from start to finish!

The next day Edd and Becca’s headed back to the states and Baxter and I met with Regina, Mary, Brent and Amado to plan another four days of nothing but fun!
Le Select, aka "Cheeseburger in Paradise" as Jimmy Buffet calls it.  Becca is talking about how she will take us to Redfish Lake - can't wait!
Yup - by the METER

Yumza - with a piece of parmiggano in hand!
Four birthdays/ two days - four days apart
Hiking from Anse de Flamande over to Colombier
What - wifi?? such a luxury
Birthday kisses
View from St Barths - So happy to see these girls!!
Even grocery shopping is fun in St Marten
St Barth's - love this place
Amado, Petra, Me, Becca, Regina & Mary...all smiles and ready for swimming
Ft Louis in front of Marigot Bay
Jus' Chillin' - isn't this how everyone spends a Friday afternoon
Little Jerusalem - where you want the special - not the falafel - but I want the falafel - oh, you have to wait.
Swimming pools, movie stars...or just us in a swimming pool

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Got Rum?

When Molly and I were in Antigua a few years ago we really enjoyed a few of the local rums, especially Skullduggery Rum . They make a nice mellow rum that is good to sip or mix into the fruity rum drinks that are so enjoyable while watching the sunset and looking for the green flash. Antigua rum is especially tasty when compared to the “Rhum Agricole” from Martinique that is made with sugar cane and tastes more like rum flavored whiskey. Not too good for sipping or mixing but sure does remove old varnish.

Well, a few weeks ago Terrapin was anchored in Falmouth Harbor, Antigua, right in front of the Maltese Falcon (again), and Molly and I were checking internet ashore at the Skullduggery bar (yes they make rum AND have a bar with fast-ish internet!) when we noticed that Skullduggery had a small custom made cask of their rum for sale. We saw these casks when we were in Antigua a few years ago but all the ones we saw were sold and it would have taken too long to get a new one made. The one we had our eyes on now looked like it was filled and ready to be “installed” on Terrapin; this had to be a sign that we needed our own cask onboard!

As if having your own rum cask is not great enough, while sitting at the bar and negotiating the cask of rum with the owner, he suggested that we have the cask engraved by Michael "Scrimmy" Strzalkowski, the local scrimshaw artist (scrimchanderer?)  who makes jewelry for Keith Richards (and made a couple necklaces for us in 2014) and who had designed the Skullduggery casks and bottles. By the end of the week, Terrapin had a 7-liter cask of Skullduggery rum with an antique Victorian ivory piano key with “Terrapin” engraved on it. Now, the only “issue” we have is managing to drink 7-litres of rum. 

Thanks Scrimmy - hand engraved on Victorian piano key

One of a kind cask full of rum

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Dominica to St Marteen - Caribbean Extravaganza

The sail from Martinique to Dominica was brisk and salty, as always, with Terrapin moving between 8-10kts in 30-ish kts of wind and 7-9 ft seas on the beam. The twenty miles between the two islands went by quickly and even in the lee of Dominica, we were still seeing wind in the mid-20s (typically the leeward side of an island has very little wind).

We anchored in Prince Rupert and checked into customs the next morning. We also made an appt with the vet to get Kala inspected (oh those British Isles). That evening our friends Edd and Becca arrived from Salt Lake City, just in time for the cruiser BBQ sponsored by PAYS (Portsmouth Area Yacht Services – a group who helps with cruiser safety and logistics). Since Edd and Becca had been traveling for about 16 hours, we headed back to Terrapin and Edd quickly celebrated their arrival with a naked cannonball off the bow into pitch black water. This was his first visit to the Caribbean and he was going to enjoy every minute possible.

The next morning we hiked and snorkeled and made a plan of every place we would like to visit in the next 10 days – as well as coordinating the best route to sail to St Marten where Edd and Becca would fly back to Utah. It was going to be an awesome week and a half.

Picking up the anchor the next morning was quick and easy and the sail to the Saintes was beautiful with 15kts of wind and 2-3 foot swell. When we arrived in the Saintes, all the moorings were full and there were boats circling for the next free ball like sharks waiting for chum. We decided to anchor in 25 feet of water close (but not too close) to a beautiful reef. Before the engine was off, Baxter dove the anchor to make sure it was set and Edd & Becca were off for a great snorkel. Of course, we can’t leave Kala out – we took her to a nice sandy beach for a fun swim and surf and everyone was happy and worn out.

We spent the next day in the Saintes hiking and snorkeling and celebrating Baxter and Edd’s birthday at tasty French restaurants. We had lots of places to see and things to do so the next day we sailed up to Malendure Beach with Becca taking the helm like a pro. Malendure Beach is just across from Pigeon Island and the Jacques Cousteau Marine Park, where we had recently been with Molly’s mom and sister. The snorkeling was some of the best we have ever done, so not long after we anchored, we all jumped in to say “Bonjour” to the turtles that were having lunch near Terrapin. The next couple days were full of snorkels, sunsets, good food, fruity rum drinks, and lots of laughs but alas, it was time to move again. As we pulled up the anchor, we thought it would be good to have one more snorkel so Edd and Becca jumped straight off Terrapin and swam around Pigeon Island while Baxter and I sailed around.

Our plan was to sail up to Deshaies, anchor and leave for Montserrat at 3 am., but as usual, the anchorage was very crowded and the only spot was in 40 ft of water. Baxter and I called an audible and changed our minds – we were going to say “au revoir” to Guadeloupe and just start heading the 40 miles to Montserrat. This area of the Caribbean is known for whale migration. Baxter and I have seen whale spouts near here in the past and even seen whales breeching in the far off distance – so we were all on the alert. Since it was so calm, I decided to move forward and sit on the bow pulpit and enjoy the calm waters when there it was – a big spout, about 100meters from the boat. In complete excitement, I let the others know and within 2 minutes, we had a pilot whale with a huge dorsal fin, an amazing spout, and a huge bright black eye right next to Terrapin. We were careful to steer away from him but it seemed as if the more we moved away, the more he came in for a closer look at Terrapin – what was this strange object in his ocean?? This is one of the things we love about sailing – being this close to animals and nature with opportunities that you might never have the chance to witness anywhere else in the world. Such a very cool experience from your very own sailboat.

We continued to sail towards the anchorage with a beautiful sunset as we sailed by the steaming Soufriere volcano. Becca and Edd kept an eye out for fish traps as we sailed in the pitch dark and dropped the hook in Rendezvous Bay between two boats and just off the beach. Anchoring is an art in itself during the broad daylight but is nerve wracking and tense in the dark with boats nearby, the waves breaking onshore, fishtraps and a shallow reef to avoid. After the hook was set, we took a deep breath, had a great dinner on Terrapin and got ready to leave early the next morning for St Barth’s.

The 78 mile passage to St Barth’s started great – 15 kts of breeze on a broad reach with Terrapin sailing at 7 kts – excellent conditions. As the day progressed, the wind dissipated and it was slow moving, making it a very long day. But as a sailor, you have to make the best of the conditions – so, with the four of us in assigned positions, we pulled out our new Ullman Sails spinnaker with the beautiful Terrapin logo. We were able to fly it for over an hour until the sun set and the wind started to pick up. When we have flown the spinnaker in the past, it has only been for a few minutes before the wind shifted or the conditions changed so this really helped us dial in a few things, like helming with the Spinnaker, the wind angles the spinnaker likes and as always, we mentally created new standard operating procedures for Terrapin on “How to fly the coolest spinnaker in the Caribbean”.

St Barth’s is definitely one of my top three fave spots in the Caribbean. As we came into Anse de Colombier in the dark, carefully negotiating the mooring field and the unlit boats (seriously, who does that? Who owns a boat that doesn’t have a single light on in a crowded anchorage?), we found a mooring ball tucked away in the corner, picked it up on the first try, celebrated that we no longer had to watch for fish traps, and enjoyed a nice late dinner and long overdue sundowner.

Jacques Cousteau Marine Park - round deux

Elkhorn coral
Off for a little nork-nork
Best looking spinnaker in the whole Caribbean
Visit from the pilot whale
His huge dorsal fin gave him away as a pilot whale
Soufriere at sunset
Becca at the helm from the Saintes to Malendure Beach - she was a natural
Things can get a little crazy if you have to anchor/moor in the dark two nights in a row...making frozen daiquiris in the hand crank blender

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!
Great to catch up with Tom and Sabrina on SV Honey Ryder are 2+ years away!

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