Archive for June, 2007

Entry for June 27, 2007

June 27, 2007

After visiting Fort de France yesterday for groceries and updating our blog at the Internet café, we sailed across the bay to where we were 3 days ago at the nice anchorage on the south shore of the bay.  For some reason, it wasn’t so nice this time and we didn’t sleep well with all the rolling of the boat.

We worked on a few boat projects on Wednesday morning that we’d been saving up because they all involved glue or epoxy.  We mixed up the epoxy an d went on a glue rampage around the boat before it dried.  We fixed the straps on the generator, the handle on the dinghy, some freezer insulation and our ice-cube trays.

Then we rigged the boat for sailing (put everything away that could move) and sailed about 5 miles south to another anchorage on Martinique.  It’s a very protected bay but does allow some ocean swell to get in and rock us a little.  Geez.

The good news is we have wireless Internet in the anchorage so are updating our email and the blog.  Tomorrow we will sail to St. Lucia – probably Marigot bay but we haven’t decided yet.  It looks like we only have a 2 day weather window for sailing as the winds will increase again on Saturday and the seas won’t calm down again until Monday.  We could get to St. Vincent but the anchorages are better in St. Lucia so we’ll probably be spending 3-4 days in the protected anchorages there.

The picture is the lave flows from the volcano on Montsurrat.  Enjoy!



Entry for June 26, 2007

June 26, 2007

We dinghy’d into the town of Le Trois Ilets yesterday afternoon (Monday) and walked around a bit.  The place seemed like it was closed down.  We think most of the restaurants are closed on Mondays. 

On the way back to the boat we hit something hard in the water with our dinghy engine and it locked up.  Thankfully we were up-wind from the boat and we had an easy row the ¼ mile back to the big boat.  I hauled the motor up on the back deck and checked it out briefly.  It was getting dark by then so I left it for a morning job.  We had dinner, read awhile and went to bed early.

This morning I took the dinghy motor apart and found that the lower-end was jammed.  I couldn’t get it apart as it’s probably been several years in saltwater since it’s been apart.  We think it’s the end of the road for our little motor that we’ve been nursing along for the past 8 months.  I hate to give up on it but it’s had a long and fruitful life.  It’s 12 years old and that’s a long time for an outboard used in saltwater all the time.

We sailed the boat back over to Fort de France to checkout and visit the Internet café.  We had to row the dinghy into the dock from the boat so I anchored as close as I dared.  It was fine rowing the short distance and we splurged with lunch at McDonalds.  $14 Euros (about $20 U.S.) for big mac and bacon cheeseburger meals.  Even Micky D’s is expensive here!

We’ll be heading south either tomorrow or Thursday for St. Lucia depending on the winds and seas.  It looks like these high winds may last for another day or two so we’ll lay low until it clears.

All is well here (except for our poor dinghy motor – may it rest in peace).

The picture is Laura’s birthday dinner that I made for her on the boat.

Entry for June 25, 2007

June 26, 2007

After our chores (refrigeration and battery charging) we took the dinghy into town with two big bags of laundry.  We hauled everything to the Laundromat and it was a “wash, dry and fold” place.  After separating everything out, the lady told us it would be 54 Euros.  Holy Cow!  That’s about $70 US for 3 loads of laundry.  Laura and I talked about just doing the critical stuff but we decided to have it all done anyway.  Later we decided we just need to “say no” when we find things that are this expensive.  Laundry isn’t a life-threatening thing and we could have waited.  Even after 9 months of living off our savings, I’m surprised we are still in the mode of buying things that are above our budget.  We will get better at this!

The laundry would be ready in about 2 hours so Laura decided to try and get a haircut at a salon we had seen just down the street.  I planned on hauling water to the boat in my (2) 6 ½ gallon jugs to fill up our water tank while we could get good, clean, cheap water at the dock.  I walked back to the dinghy and filled up the jugs at the fuel dock.  Then I motored back to the boat while I swung the 54# jugs up to the deck from the dinghy (it was about shoulder level) and emptied them into our tank.  I put the empties back in the dinghy and motored back to the fuel dock for a refill.  I repeated this 4 times for about 60 gallons to fill out tank.

The salon was closed on Monday so Laura was back at the fuel dock around my 2nd trip.  She helped fill the jugs and when I came back I also brought 2 large bag of trash.  She hauled the trash up the hill to the dumpster while I cycled water to the boat.  After my 4th trip, the laundry was ready and Laura brought it down to the dock.  We motored back to the boat for lunch after a pretty busy morning.

After lunch we decided to move the boat about 4 miles inland to an anchorage we had seen in our cruising guide.  There were squalls in the area and the wind was blowing pretty hard (which is why we are spending 5 days in Martinique).  We found the new anchorage and motored around awhile checking the place out.  We only went aground once but it was sandy so we just backed off and continued on our way.  Such is life when you are checking out new anchorages.  Slow and easy is the method.

We anchored next to a golf course and watching the people play brought back memories of my 4-5 golf outing weeks over the past few summers.  It really was the first time I thought about playing golf and missed it.  Even so, I don’t feel bad about not playing.  We have many other things to keep me occupied.

The picture is a beautiful sunset from a harbor on north Nevis in the Leeward Islands.

Entry for June 24, 2007

June 26, 2007

Yesterday we went into town at Fort de France and checked in with Customs at the local boating store.  It was the easiest check-in yet as there was only 1 form for both Customs and Immigration with no fees.  We do have to check-out within a couple days of when we leave Martinique but there is no charge for that either.

After Customs we walked about ½ a block to an Internet café and posted the blogs we had written over the past week.  We then toured only a little of the town and walked back to the dinghy dock.  We had a pretty heavy pack with all of our boat papers and the computer but we did stop in a nice size grocery store to pick up a few essentials (gotta have that tonic for my vodka – hehe).

We hauled everything back to the boat and sailed about 3 miles across the bay to Le Trois Ilets (the three islands).  Our cruising guide said this was not a very busy place and we could find a nice anchorage here.  When we arrived the little bay was very busy and we had to anchor outside of the main anchorage because there was no room.  We dinghy’d around the area checking things out and stopped at the dinghy dock of a small marina.  We chatted with the people at the gas dock for awhile and found that there was a 50 boat sailing race today in the harbor and many of the boats would be coming back to the marina after the races.  That is why it was so busy.

We walked around town for a couple hours checking out the restaurants which all had their menus posted on the sidewalk.  They all seemed pretty expensive and we were getting hungry.  We eventually decided to go back to a Creole seafood place we had seen earlier but when we got there it was just past 2 pm and they were closed until 7 pm dinner.  It just wasn’t in the cards for us to eat out today.  We dinghy’d back to the boat and had a late lunch on the water.

Later in the afternoon Laura mentioned we very much needed to do laundry.  She was out of a lot of things and had been hand-washing underwear for a couple days now.  We hadn’t done any laundry since St. Thomas about 3 weeks ago.  I wasn’t out of clean clothes yet.  Most days I just live in gym-shorts and I’ve still got a few left.

We decided to pack up all the dirty clothes and dinghy back to the marina.  The cruising guide said there was a laundry down the street from the marina that was open on Saturday afternoons.  It was a haul but we got everything to the Laundromat only to find they were only open in the mornings and not on Sunday at all.  Bummer.  We brought all the dirty clothes back to the boat and made Gill-a-ritas to dull the pain (like margaritas only with Keith’s touch).

The evening was pretty clear and the lights from around the harbor were beautiful.  We enjoyed dinner in the cockpit then watched a DVD from our stash (The Rat Race). 

Today (Sunday) I decided it was time for maintenance on the boat.  After running the engine to charge our refrigeration I drained the oil from our diesel motor and changed the oil filter.  I changed the oil in the generator and also the sparkplug.  I refilled the engine with 10 quarts of Rotella 40w oil then changed the fuel filter.  Everything was cleaned up and trash was ready by about 11 am.

I took 3 gasoline cans, 2 water jugs, the used oil and rags into the gas dock at the marina.  The place was a zoo.  There were two 50 foot catamarans tied up filling up fuel and water.  There were about 20-25 people on the two boats which I found out was a scuba charter with guides.  The people looked to be around 20-25 years old and the young ladies were all walking around in skimpy bikinis.  Those of you that know me realize why I took a very long time to fill up the gasoline and water jugs – maybe an hour or more??   

I loaded up the dinghy with all the full jugs and motored back to the boat.  The 15 gallons of gasoline were 82 Euros – almost $7 US / gallon.  Yikes!  Oh well, that was about 2 weeks of running the generator and dinghy.  Close to the same price as 1 night in a marina.  The good news is the water was very cheap – about $.05 US a gallon.

Back to the boat I stowed the gasoline and we filled up our water bottles for the fridge. 

While I was working on the engine and generator maintenance, Laura decided to clean up the cockpit from the salt and dirt that had accumulated.  Our wild ride to Martinique on Friday had covered the boat in salt from the ocean spray.  Since we were running on a beam reach (waves and wind from the side), any spray the boat kicked up was blown back on us by the wind.  On Saturday morning when I was getting the dinghy ready for town, I noticed for the first time that it and the davits were covered with salt from the ocean spray.  The dinghy is about 45 feet back from the front of the boat and 7 feet off the water so that is a good indication of how rough the seas were and how much spray was flying around..

Tomorrow we will bring the laundry back into town and finally get it done.  I might run water jugs back and forth to fill up our water tank while Laura does the laundry.  $.05 a gallon is much cheaper than I can make it with my generator and watermaker so 3 trips with 15 gallons will save me about 6 hours of generator / watermaker time.  Good deal!

Later this afternoon we decided to go into town as we had heard some live Spanish / Caribbean music coming from the beach area and wanted to check it out. Most of the restaurants were closed being that it was Sunday, but we followed the music and came to a lovely place on the beach. We really weren’t ready for dinner, it was only about 4 pm, but as we approached, we realized there was a big grown-up party going on in a large section of the open-air restaurant. We found a small table away from the party and decided to listen to the music anyway, an awesome band (8 piece) and just about everyone, from young couples to old were on the dance floor. It was really neat to listen to the music and watch the people – I think old people are so cute dancing, cheek to cheek. It seems the island folks are very uninhibited to just enjoying life and being happy. Since everything was in French, we really weren’t sure if it was a birthday or not, but I did notice a few guys carrying a huge sheetcake, so we’re assuming it was a birthday party. After about two hours, we went back to the boat and I got dinner started. It was pizza tonight!! MMMMMMM it turned out really good if I should say so myself! I’m getting better at this crust thing! I haven’t baked a lot as it’s been very warm and cranking up the oven certainly adds to the mix. Oh well, it cuts down on the goodies I bake so we’re both keeping our weight down.

The picture is of Deshaies, Guadalupe.  It shows how these little harbor towns look so beautiful from the water.

Entry for June 23, 2007

June 23, 2007

We are in Martinique!  We’ve cleared in with Customs (the easiest yet – you fill out a paper at the local ships store) and are sitting in a small shop with free Internet.

I’ve posted (4) blog entries back to June 16th when we were about 200 miles north of here.  Sorry for the lack of pictures.  We forgot to download our camera to the computer.  We’ll do that maybe this afternoon and post some of our beautiful pictures over the next couple days.

It feels weird to be on-land after almost a week without leaving the boat…..

Entry for June 22, 2007

June 23, 2007

While the anchorage was beautiful and seemed to be very protected tucked in between several islands, it proved to be unsettled and we were glad to leave in the early morning.  We’ve been setting our phone alarm for 5:15 am each morning then running our engine at low RPM for an hour to charge our refrigeration and batteries for the day.  Then we lift the anchor and head out onto the ocean usually around 6:45 am.  The islands in this part of the world are mostly between 20 and 30 miles apart so we can usually make it to the next island by early afternoon.  We leave that early in the morning so we have a choice of where to stay on the next island as we have several hours available for cruising before dark.  We’ve been making the most of the daylight and have been averaging over 40 miles a day for the past week. 

We left the islands south of Guadalupe and sailed to Dominica in the early morning.  The seas were a little rougher than the day before but nothing scary so we had a good sail.  Once again, after we sailed past the northern end of the island and into the lee winds, they seemed to change every 10 minutes in strength and direction.  We were more prepared for it this time and sailed about 4 miles off-shore down the west coast so the mountains would have less affect on our winds.  We ended up at a little town called Roseau near the southwest corner of the island.  As we neared the town, we slowly motored past the houses and shops on the shore while looking at the sights.  Laura and I both exclaimed “KFC!” at the same time as a Kentucky Fried Chicken came into view. 

When we neared the docks, a young man in a small outboard fishing boat came out and “invited” us to one of his moorings.  The winds in this harbor swirl around all the time and sitting on a mooring that is permanently attached to the bottom is much better than taking the chance we will turn over our anchor and pull it up in the middle of the night when the winds change.  We accepted his invitation and had a nice mooring near town for $10.  The interesting part is we never left the boat.  If we had gone into town, we would have had to check-in with customs which were about a mile away.  So, we decided to bypass KFC and grilled a nice steak on the boat instead.  Mmmmm.

The next morning (today) we left Roseau in Dominica and motored south to Martinique.  We had about 30 miles to the northern end of the island with maybe 25 miles of open ocean.  From getting blown around pretty good the previous day with high winds, we decided to only roll out ½ the mainsail before rounding the south end of Dominique.  Holy Cow!  Good thing!  As soon as we were open to the full tradewinds, it blew 30 knots with gusts to 35.  The highest winds we had sailed in before this were about 25 knots.  We were scrambling to pull in sail as we were greatly overpowered for that much wind and out starboard rail was just about in the water.  We’re so thankful we had a chance to practice this in lower winds because pulling in sail when you are heeled over 30-35 degrees is not too easy.  After about 10 minutes we had the boat back under control except for the shuddering of the rigging and shaking of the masts / sails from the high winds.  With only about ¼ of the main and ½ of the jib out, we were zooming along at 7-8 knots and it wasn’t too bad.  I’m so impressed with this boat because it always seems to be a fairly smooth ride.  That’s not to say that it doesn’t get thrown around by the waves.  Just that when a wave throws us up, we don’t crash hard into the trough when we come down.  The boat settles as it comes down but usually throws a lot of water to the sides and we get very wet in a cross-wind.  We decided to keep going for awhile instead of turning back since the anchorage at Dominica wasn’t that good and we wanted to get to the protected places in Martinique for the weekend heavy winds.  The swells were about 8 feet but pretty far apart with maybe 3 foot wind-chop.  Once in awhile we’d get a really big wave (maybe 10-12 feet?) that would pick the boat up pretty quick.  At one point I was looking forward when the boat started to get picked up by a wave coming from the side.  I looked over to my left and the top of the wave was above my head.  Where I sit in the cockpit my head is about 8-9 feet over the water.  Yikes!  We were thinking that maybe the end of the island was increasing the winds (the winds compress around the end of an island which increases the winds) because the seas did not reflect 35 knot winds over a long period of time.  These winds and seas were not predicted either by or Chris Parker.  We were supposed to be seeing 15-17 knot winds according to my research from the previous night.  Right!

Anyway, the wind calmed to 25-30 knots after an hour or so and we were making awesome speed.  At this point 25 knots felt like calm.  I’m sure we set some knew records for our sailing Second Wind as at one point I saw we were making 9 knots on the GPS while we had 37 knot winds on the anemometer.  If you remember, we usually start feeling uncomfortable at anything over 6 knots of boat speed and start pulling in sail.  There wasn’t much left to pull in.

This would have been a perfect place to have our little staysail up instead of the reefed jib. It would have given us a much lower center of effort as the sail in the wind on the reefed jib is pretty high up.  Wind blasts really knock us over. Unfortunately, neither Laura nor I wanted to crawl out on the deck to raise the staysail.  It stayed under its cover and we kept sailing south.  Maybe next time we’ll get this sail ready ahead of time??

About 4 hours later we passed the north end of Martinique and the seas finally started calming down.  We sailed south on the west side of the island and again, for the third day in a row, the winds blew from every direction.  It has to be the mountainous islands affecting the tradewinds that much.  At one point we were motoring with no winds then 2 minutes later we had 30 knot winds on the beam.  2 minutes after that we had 15 knot winds from behind. We’ve learned not to put up much sail when there is a chance of high gusts, even when the winds are very low.  I call it my “10 minute rule”.  If I think we should roll out more sail, I wait 10 minutes to see what the winds are doing then.  If all is well 10 minutes later, we’ll roll out more sail.  Usually, sometime during that 10 minutes, we get blown over with a gust and we’re very glad we didn’t have more sail out.

We sailed past the harbor at Ste. Pierre which looked very nice.  We wanted to make it to the big harbor of Fort de France, about another 15 miles south, where we could find some very protected anchorages for high winds predicted over the weekend into Monday.  I wonder if we got those today instead?

We motored the last 4 miles eastward into the 25 knot winds to a quiet anchorage in front of Fort St. Luis.  Tomorrow we will check in with Customs, replenish supplies, do some laundry and see the sights.  We’ll probably be in this area for the next 4-5 days before sailing south to St. Lucia, St. Vincent then the Grenadines and Grenada.  We hope to spend maybe a couple weeks or longer in Grenada as cruisers tell us it is a very nice place to visit.  So far, I think I like St. Martin the best of all the islands but only time will tell which one will come out on top.  Over the next few days I’ll give Martinique a chance to take over the top spot.  I’m sure it will be fun!

Entry for June 20, 2007

June 23, 2007

Hello all you land-lubbers!

It’s Wednesday and we’ve had 3 very interesting sailing days.  On Monday we left Nevis for the 3rd time (and it was a charm) and sailed to Montserrat.  The winds were not quite cooperating so we missed our anchorage by about 9 miles to the west after we sailed as close to the wind as possible for 7 hours.  We then tacked toward the anchorage on the Northwest side of the island.  3 hours later, we made it just as the sunset behind us.  This harbor was just a little cubbyhole cut into the cliffs and barely held the 3 boats (including us) that were anchored there.  We had a pretty uncomfortable night at that anchorage and we were up early to start our trip to Guadalupe the next day.

We decided to sail northeast around the north end of the island then turn south to Guadalupe.  That would give us a better sailing angle and we would be out of the ash from the volcano on the southern end of Montserrat.  Yes.  There is an active volcano on Montserrat that erupted in 1995 and buried about ½ the island is ash and lava.  It is not considered dangerous today as it has calmed down but it is still spewing ash into the tradewinds.  If you sail down the west side of the island, your boat will definitely collect some volcano ash for you and it stinks of sulfur.  So, we sailed in the “wrong” direction for only about ½ hour then turned the corner and sailed south along the east coast of Montserrat for the next couple hours.  The sailing was excellent as the trades had died down from their 20, gusts to 25, from yesterday to a more moderate 15-20 overall.  The seas had calmed down another foot or so and we weren’t taking any waves over the bow.  We were actually sailing a little off the wind (seems like the first time in months) as the wind was on our beam instead of a close angle ahead of us.  The boat and its big sails really started moving as we were doing 6.5 to 7 knots most of the day.  After so long being close to the wind at 4-5 knots, it felt like we were zooming.

We sailed to our destination anchorage on the northwest corner of Guadalupe without any problems.  Again, this anchorage was like a hole cut in the cliffs but it was bigger than last night – there was a whole town in here along with the anchorage.  We anchored and dinghy’d into town for a walk and sightseeing.  This island is very laid-back on customs which is good since we never found the office to check-in.  We did find a little grocery store in town where we picked up some eggs, cheese, fresh French bread and a couple cheapo bottles of French wine.  We had cashed a few dollars in for Euros but the grocery store took our debit card so there were no problems.  This island is French and they use either Franks or Euros.  As it was only about 5 pm, there were no restaurants open so we headed back to the boat and one of the wines with some cheese and bread for an evening snack.  The wine was excellent and I’ll be looking for it again down-island.  It was a very smooth Cabernet for only 3 ½ Euros a bottle (about $5 U.S.).  The next morning we hauled up our anchor around 7:30 for the 20 mile sail to the south end of the island.

We motored out of the harbor because the wind was calm.  As we motored off-shore, we talked about how great this was going to be sailing on the west coast of an island with the eastern trades.  Well…..  It was not to be.  The wind was very finicky all day and I think it was because of the high mountains on the island.  We started out with no wind then it blew from the east for awhile before changing to the west.  We couldn’t believe it!  A west wind in the tropics?  It’s unheard of.

After about an hour this wind also died so we started up the engine.  We motored along until the wind came from astern (the North) and we put the sails way out to catch the wind.  Eventually the wind changed back to the east so we again adjusted everything for a different point of sail.  Geez!

We were aiming for a marina for the night and when we got there they wouldn’t answer the radio.  There were a few boats anchored outside the marina and we motored up slowly and asked one of them what channel the marina usually used.  He said 16, the same channel we had been calling, but told us the staff usually took a long lunch and came back around 3 pm.  We anchored in front of the marina and it was a little rough but we figured we’d only be there for a short time.  About an hour later, around 3:30 pm, I called the marina again and they didn’t answer.  Laura and I started looking for a better place on the charts and we found a great anchorage between some islands about 9 miles south.  We figured we’d have no problem making that by dark since the wind at this anchorage was blowing from the south west and we needed to sail south east.  No problem!  We motored southwest about 2 miles until we came to the south end of Guadalupe and turned southeast to the islands.  Wouldn’t you know it but the winds changed to the southeast.  We continued motoring at 4 knots into the wind and seas for the next couple hours and finally anchored in a calm bay off Terre de Haut island around 6:30. 

We love our sunsets but there hasn’t been a cloudless one in several months.  Tonight wasn’t any different as the clouds from the big island of Guadalupe blew west over our sunset and we never even saw the sun get close to the horizon.  Bummer. 

Our slight jog southeast to this anchorage will payoff tomorrow when we sail south to Dominica.  It’s only about 20 miles from here so the open ocean crossing should be pretty quick.  Then we plan on continuing to sail along the west coast of the island and anchor about another 20 miles south near the southern end.  That will set us up for Martinique on Friday.

If it seems like we are traveling fast, we are.  We’ve just about decided to head back up this way next fall after hurricane season so we can revisit all the places we missed coming south.  There is just too much to see right now and we want to get out of the hurricane alley so we, and our boat, can be safe for the summer.  We are very much enjoying the travels along the coasts but are not stopping to go inland and enjoy the islands.  That will be sometime in the future.  Bruce Van Sant would call us “Globetrotters” instead of “Cruisers”.  Oh well, for the next couple weeks we’ll be globetrotters until we are in Grenada and ready to head to South America on a moments notice.

Entry for June 17, 2007

June 23, 2007

It’s Sunday, and we did head out at 7:30 this morning. We knew the winds were going to be around 20 knots, but they were supposed to be from north of east so we were hoping for a beam reach, which is the wind coming directly at our side, and not a close haul, which is when the wind is coming almost head on, but not quite. With a close hauled wind, you get a lot of heeling (tilting) with the boat and not much speed. Anyway, it ended up being a close haul and once we got close to the end of Nevis island, the winds were a steady 22+ knots and the seas were about 7 or 8 feet and it was not a comfortable ride at a 20-25 degree angle. I was sitting there thinking if I should ask Bill if he really wanted to be like this for the next 7-8 hours, when all of a sudden he says “ I think I’ve had enough of this already”. We had been sailing for about 1 ½ hours only. So we turned around and headed back for Charlestown. We decided to stay here as this is where we’ll have to check in, if we check in. We did dinghy into town, but since customs was closed we’ll wait until tomorrow to check in. We walked around town to get a little exercise and then did a little exploring in the dinghy.

We talked to our “neighbors” a young couple from France, with two or three little kids on board. We noticed that they left this morning as we were pulling into the bay, and about an hour and half later they were back anchoring near us. They thought the seas were a bit rough also, but they still want to get to Guadeloupe and ultimately Martinique with in the next few days. We told them about the tropical wave that’s supposed to be here Tuesday night into Wednesday, which is why if we can’t get out of here tomorrow, we’ll be staying here or in a better harbor just a little farther north. They are still contemplating leaving here tomorrow and heading straight for Guadeloupe- about a 75 or 80 mile trip. Their boat is a bit lighter and can do 6-7 knots meaning they can get there much quicker than us, doing only 4-5 knots. I seems like they were really anxious to be on their way. They bought their boat in Martinique and did a one year “vacation” and will be selling their boat in Martinique when they get there. They left Martinique, sailed down the Windwards to Venezuela, then sailed straight across the Caribbean Sea to the south side of the Dominican Republic. Continuing the full circle of the Mona Passage to Puerto Rico, Spanish Virgins, the Virgins and Leeward Islands. They’ve done that in about eight or nine months. I think it would be pretty rough with three little kids! But they seem to be enjoying it.

When we got back to the boat, we needed to do some repair on the main sail, I had noticed a tear near one of the seams and the last time we had the sail up, it was quite a bit larger. So we rolled out the sail, then lowered it pulling the end of it where the tear was into the cockpit where I had my sewing machine all set up. After using sail tape to keep the tear together, I zig-zagged the tear on each side, sewing it directly to the sun-strip that was behind it. It adds a new stitch design onto the sun-strip, but looks like its going to hold. We’ll see the next time we’re in 25 knot winds.

Time to start thinking about supper. Ya’ll have a good night!!

Entry for June 16, 2007

June 23, 2007

In the past few days we’ve been to St. Barts, St. Kitts and are now in Nevis since we left for Montserrat this morning then turned around and came back here because the seas and winds were so bad. 

We’ve been trying to make it to Guadeloupe by Tuesday because there is a tropical wave (front) coming through then and Guadeloupe has some very protected anchorages.  Unfortunately, that is 2 days travel from here and it doesn’t look like we’ll make it unless tomorrow is much better than today (it’s supposed to be a little better).

After leaving St. Martin we sailed to St. Barts where we picked up a mooring in a beautiful bay on the western shore called Pte. Du Colombier (can you tell the island is French?).  After snorkeling off the boat for a day, we sailed to the main town of Gustavia to check in with Customs and go out for Laura’s birthday dinner.  Yep.  That was June 14th, Laura’s 50th birthday! 

We anchored in a VERY rolly anchorage just outside of town, dropped the dinghy and motored into the city dock.  Clearing customs was the easiest yet and took about 15 minutes and $5.  We then walked around the town looking for a nice place for dinner.  We had showered and dressed up a little (I was out of my bathing suit for a change) so we were ready to do the town.  Unfortunately, it was only 5 pm and none of the nice restaurants opened until 7.  We talked about sitting at one of the roadside cafes for awhile but we didn’t have any Euro dollars as my debit card wouldn’t work in their ATMs and the change place was closed.  Geez!   We decided to head back to the boat because we didn’t want to stay in that rolly anchorage for the night.  We picked up our anchor and sailed back to the same mooring we were on the night before only 3 miles away.  I cooked a nice seafood stir-fry for Laura’s birthday dinner.  We had chilled white wine and we ate in the cockpit under candlelight.  Nice!  I cleaned everything up and we splurged with a nice glass of port after dinner.

The next day (Friday) we left early for St. Kitts.  The seas were a little choppy and we bounced around a little but not too bad.  We didn’t arrive at the harbor until around 5:30 pm and found the anchorage was pretty bad – very open to wind and waves.  We decided to keep going for another 6 miles to a beach anchorage near the southwestern point of the island.  We anchored just as the sun was setting in a beautiful, protected bay with its own crescent shaped beach.  A quiet dinner was the best end to a 12 hour, “lively” sailing day.

Today we left our nice protected bay and sailed southeast along the west coasts of St. Kitts and Nevis.  Both of these islands are independent nations which is unusual for the Caribbean.  As such they have more expensive and more detailed customs procedures so we probably won’t go ashore or check in.  “Kitts” is short for Christopher which Chris Columbus named the island after his patron saint.

As we rounded the southern end of Nevis, the seas built to around 7 feet with a lot of wind chop on top of the swells.  They weren’t too bad at first but as the wind increased to 20 knots with 25 knot gusts the seas got even higher.  We had a very reduced sail plan up with just the staysail, mizzen and ½ the main pushing us along at 5 knots. 

As the winds increased and the seas got higher, we decided to give it another ½ hour and if it didn’t improve we would turn back.  ½ hour later along with the high seas and winds, we had squalls all around us that were changing the wind every 5 minutes.  For the first time of our journey, we turned around and headed back to “give up” a hard-earned 10 miles of seaway.  The ride back was much quicker with the seas behind us and the only bad thing was one huge wave that was breaking as it went under us.  Or, it was supposed to go under us.  Instead it kind of slapped us sideways about 5 feet.  It was a good thing both Laura and I saw it coming and were holding on.  That was a wild ride!

We came back to a nice bay on the northeast shore of Nevis where we are now anchored in front of a calm beach.  We still have some winds and gusts but they aren’t doing much to us while we are anchored and buttoned down.

Tomorrow we may try again after we check the weather in the morning.  If we don’t make it to Montserrat tomorrow we may go back up to the protected bay off St. Kitts to ride out the storm coming Tuesday night.

This chain of islands – Saba, Statia, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat are known as “The Islands that Brush the Clouds”.  They are volcanic islands with very high peaks that rise dramatically from the sea and seem to catch and hold the clouds at their peaks.  St. Kitts is almost 4,000 feet high and only 17 miles long.  While the U.S. and British Virgin Islands are hilly, these islands are mountains.

Oh, by the way, when we were in St. Martin and St. Barts, we started watching reruns of “24” on the TV.  A local station was playing 4 episodes a night without commercials – it was great!.  We saw from midnight to noon or 1 pm so we’re hoping someone has the DVDs they could send us so we could see the ending.  It was the one where Keifer Sutherland’s wife and child were kidnapped to make him kill the Senator running for President.  Thanks!

Entry for June 12, 2007

June 12, 2007

Today it rained on and off all day. Its not a terrible rain, and certainly not a cold one, but it does get stuffy in the boat with everything closed up. So by 4 pm we were stir crazy and had to get out. Our original plans for the day were to get to the marine store and pick up some small parts for things we’ve discovered the last few days that we needed. We headed for the marine store around 4:30, not sure what time they closed, and we were in luck. They closed at five and when we walked in a salesman asked if we needed some help while he looked at his watch. We said we had a list and he said “well, can you get it done in 8 minutes?” Nice customer service, eh? Like a world wind, he ushered us through all the different departments and while Bill was waiting on some one to get the right sparkplugs for the generator, the salesman found me and had me get the cleaner and polish for the stainless rails, and a dinghy motor lock. So in a total of about 10 minutes,( sorry buddy, you had to work 2 extra minutes today) we were at the register and out the back door.

We then decided to do a little exploring around the Lagoon, which, by the way, is about 12 miles. We headed to the French side since we had learned that we were allowed to go by dinghy or car without having to check into customs. So explore the harbor we did. Most all of these islands were formed by volcanoes and the more mountainous ones are younger, less worn down as is St Martins, which makes for some beautiful scenery. We rounded a curve heading toward a few marinas and a town and according to our map, what we just passed was “witches tit”. No joke guys, a small mountain with a large rock perched in the middle, sorry no pictures. When we got closer to the town, we realized there were restaurants and little shops all along the waterfront, most of which had areas to tie up your dinghy. So we tied up and went for a stroll. How quaint and exactly how I would picture a French town. Open-air cafes and restaurants, tables all set up fancy, gift shops and clothing stores, lingerie and jewelry shops. As we rounded a few corners and headed down a few different side streets, we ended up right in town. So although the “river front” seemed to cater to the “yatchees” and tourists, it all fit right in with the norm of the town. All the prices were in Euros, so luckily we didn’t spend any money as we hadn’t exchanged any dollars yet. We may have to as we’ll be going to St. Barts and other places that are French territories. So today, Tuesday, we’ll be preparing to depart, getting water, and a few grocery supplies, as well as going back to customs to check out, we’ll actually leave in the morning and travel only about 12 miles before getting to St Barts. I’m looking forward to a quiet beach and some snorkeling. A few days in the bustle of the harbor is enough for me!

The picture is the sunset from St. Martin inner harbor.