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