Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Fort de France, Martinique

We left Guadeloupe and made our way to Martinique but since we did not want to do a really long passage again we headed to Roseau Dominica for the night and decided to just yellow flag it as we would be leaving at first light. Yellow flagging or Q flagging means to fly your quarentine flag and not check into the country. You can do this for a nights rest if you dont plan on getting off of your boat and heading to shore. As we were pulling into the anchorage we decided on a mooring ball as it was getting to be dusk and light was fading. As we had heard about the "boat boys" we already knew what to expect. They meet you as you are coming in and introduce themselves and help you pick up your mooring ball. They are so organized here that they have kind of a union called Pays. Which is good because it helps to keep them in check. They do all sorts of things, get you supplies, get the customs officials to you, fuel. They also act as security for your boat. Guessing the rule is if you see a boat tended to by a Pays guy you leave it alone which is nice. So we were met by our boat boy who helped us tie up to the mooring. It was $15.00 US a night and we tipped him $5.00 for his assistance. Probably too much but we were tired. We told him we would be leaving at first light and off to bed we went. The following morning we made tracks to Martinique. We anchored in front of the town square and found a decent spot of sand in about 17 feet of water.

Somewhere along the way in Martinique
Fort de France

Its a colorful city and that day they were having an outdoor festival around the water front. This made for a very loud night until about 3am when the party finally died. Good thing I was so tired and had ear plugs. We checked in the next morning and decided to walk into town forgetting that they pretty much roll the street up in these countries on Sunday. As we walked we noted how much this area reminded us of New Orleans, not so much the look but the smell. Guessing they didnt have port a toilets at the event last night as the streets reeked of urine. So far not impressed. We did happen to find a Kentucky Fried Chicken open where we could have a coffee and get some free internet to check in with family and friends. Afterwards we headed back to the boat for a relaxing rest of the day.

Dinghy dock and waterfront

We stayed here for close to a week waiting on a good weather window to get us to St. Lucia. While we waited we were joined with some of the other Rat Pack which is always nice to have a few people you know close by. We needed to reprovision so we headed to town and did some shopping at the Leader price store. We found they actually had good prices on seafood so we bought a bag of shimp and 2 bags of mussels. And of course town did not disappoint. Sadly there was a homeless man laying in the middle of the sidewalk as people had to step over him. Both Dirk and I began to wonder if he was even alive and were relieved to see him move. So sad.....We did manage to walk further into the city and found many streets lined with shops selling the same thing from store to store, shoes and fabric. We found a music store where Dirk was able to pick up some new reeds for his sax. We also found an open air market where they sold many spices and vegatables.

Vanilla beans everywhere, and cheap

We purchased a few items and continued along our way.

Cemeteries remind me of New Orleans

Once we passed the graveyard we started noticing a change of scenery and knew it was time to turn around, which we did and headed to a great little baguette shop that made great sandwiches for lunch before heading back to the boat. It finally looked as if we might have a break in the weather on the 25th and used this small window to make it to St. Lucia.


Sunday, July 12, 2015


We left Simpson Bay in the company of Tempo at 5:30 am with our sights set on Deshaies Guadeloupe, pronounced (Day-ay). Of course the weather was not as predicted and there were times when we thought about stopping in Antiqua as the trip was very rolly. Large seas and not very comfortable at all. We plugged on as did Tempo who is a catamaran and rides differently then a monahull does. No one had a good trip. We landed in Deshaies at around 6:30 am the next morning and picked up one of the free mooring balls the town offers up. They seemed to be in good shape, just no pendant to pick up. Usually a mooring ball for those that do not know is a big bouy anchored to the sea floor usually in a large concrete block. Then on top of the mooring is a loop the has a rope attached to that. The rope or sometimes 2 ropes has loops on the ends that you pick up with your boat hook, run your own line through and then back to your boat. This one only had the mooring ball with about a 5 to 6 inch in diameter metal loop on top. No line to pick up so how does one put a rope through there. Very carefully.......it was decided I would maneuver the boat while Dirk laid on his belly on deck as to be as close as he could to the waterline, then we basically threaded the needle and did it on the first try. As usual, a few on lookers yet no one offered to help. Oh well, we were here in a peaceful little fishing village. Guadeloupe is a French country so we would still have those fresh baguettes, and we found a wonderful bakery right off the dinghy dock. Hows that for luck.....Dea Latis was here already as was Uno and Glass Slipper, all part of the Rat Pack. Dirk and David went to check in but found customs closed and locked up tight. Dave had been here for a couple days and could not check in. They really dont seem to mind here so we did not fret. At least we tried, so later that evening we headed to a little spot for a sundowner and free internet.
Dea Latis, Tempo, and of course Renegade toasting another landfall.
Sunset over the anchorage
A couple days later we along with Dave, Tanya, Jackie and David rented a van to go hike the volcano. It was about a 30 to 45 minute drive through twisty turns and up hills that seemed you might slip right off the side of. We elected Dave to drive as the only vehicle they had for us was a van that looked apparently like the busses there as people kept trying to flag us down to stop. Thats basically what you do when you want a ride on the bus, just wave em down. Sorry guys, were not a bus. We finally made it to the parking lot and everyone made sure we had a jacket, water, camera and snacks before we took off.
It says the hike is medium difficulty but I think they lied. Anyway you start off going through this lush rainforest where everything is so pretty.
Pretty pathways
Beautiful exotic flowers
Lots of blooming trees and exotic flowers. Soon the nice path gives way to dirt paths and rocks which are suppose to be paths. All the while you try to take in the sights around you but you must mind your footing. On the way up we were met by about 20 or more armed military men on the way down. This must be how they do their training but it was odd passing these men all armed to the tooth being from another country. We soon found ourselves in misty clouds where the air temp started to fall. My glasses had so much mist on them that I had to remove them. Yippie me, Im blind without them.
Not such a pretty little pathway
We made it
And finally we made it to the crater. Seems there was a bottleneck here as people had no clue where to go, left or right. You coulnt see anything so we guessed.
We went left and found a fence with this sign that said unauthorized access due to toxic gas. What do you think all the men did? Thats right climbed under the fence so they could see what what making that God awful smell like 30 dozen boiled eggs.
You can imagine how it smelled
They found it. It was a vent from the crater as you can see. They all held their breath they swear......we also climbed a bit more and found the crater itself although the clouds were so thick it was hard to see standing right next to it.
The crater
I tell you though, the smell that came from it smelled horrendous but the warmth felt nice. We poked around a bit more at the top before beginning our decent.
View from the top
Skinny little pathway
We all made it back down, no broken bones, no sprains but we would all be very sore the next day. We spent several days here looking around town, shopping the stores and eating baguettes.
Nice shot of town from the boat
One side of the bay
The other side
We loved it here and would love to come back one day. We did stay till the 19th when we finally had weather to make the trip down to Dominica. We left early morning and made our way to Roseau where upon entering the anchorage we were met by a boat boy who helped us tie up to his mooring. We did let him know we would only be staying till morning, gave him the $15.00 for the mooring and another $5.00 as a tip. We in turn got a good nights sleep aloth it was a bit rolly in the anchorage. Next morning at first light we slipped off the mooring and headed to Fort de France, Martinique.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

St. Martin/Sint Maarten

After finally figuring out what the problem was causing our compass to go catty whompass on us we set our sights on the next island south. As soon as we were deep enough, Dirk threw the lines out in hopes of catching us a fresh fish. We still have some in the freezer but nothing beats a fresh one and in these parts people are known to catch some yellow fin and black fin tuna. After spening a couple hours pulling sargasso grass off his lures every 2 minutes he finally gave up. There were huge islands of this stuff floating about, so much so that we would have to stop and put the boat in reverse every so often to remove it from around the prop as it would begin to slow you down. Soon daylight came to an end and we said goodbye to the sun. Knowing we would have just a bit of moon to take us through the night
Goodbye Mr. Sun
It was a fairly uneventful night as we kept in radio contact with the various boats that made the trip with us. 13 hours later at 5am we arrived outside of the Dutch side and put the hook down in Simpson Bay to catch a couple hours of sleep before catching the first bridge opening of the morning.
The dotted line indicates the border
We decided to anchor on the French side but come in trough the Dutch side bridge and then through the French bridge at the border to settle in on the French side of Simpson Bay Lagoon.
Anchored between Grand Islet and Witches Tit
We had a hard time trying to sort out who charges what for what. If you anchor in the Bay or the Dutch side of the lagoon you have to pay a port fee and a $21.00 bridge fee for opening, plus other charges blah blah. On the French side you could go through the Dutch bridge go through the causeway bridge on the border and anchor on the French side and not pay for the bridge opening. And if you go to one place to check in you dont even pay the "port tax or fee" which is what We did. He went in, filled out a form on their computer, paid $7.00 and was done. Now that was easy. We did find a place to anchor in amongst what looked like derelict boats all around. We tried to anchor close to a boat that had people on them,safety in numbers, found a place right in front of, get this, the Witches Tit. Yes, for all those times we said it was as cold as a witches tit, we were wrong, it was pretty warm here. We stayed here for 12 long days waiting on weather fronts to pass. We passed the time by checking out one day the Dutch Side and another day the French side. We also found some Rat Packers that had been ahead of us for awhile and we finally caught up with them. One was having a new sail ordered and one unfortunatly had to have a new engine put in. Ouch......we also met some of the Rat Pack we had never met before and several other boats headed our way. Shrimpy's is a little place Right past this bridge that is a laundry service which I used twice. Not bad 13 US dollars a load, wash, dry, and fold.
Dave & Tanya and us checking out the town
I have never had someone do my laundry before but I didnt see any other option. No coin laundrymats. This gentleman that owns Shrimpy's also does the local cruisers net in the morning and allows you to tie up to his place to do shopping down the street. We found a great little grocery that we found great prices on lots og baguettes and cheeses along with salamis. They also sold buckets of pig parts, allllllll parts. Here is a bucket of snouts. Ickkkkk
Oink, Oink. This little piggy went to market

Yummy lunch
Stinky cheeses, some verrrrrrry stinky.
We also got turned onto passion fruit. We had never had one let alone seen one in person and thanks to s/v Amaroo, they told us to try one. Now were hooked.
Our new favorites, passion fruit
They arent very pretty and Dirk likens them on the inside as tadpoles. Ummmmmmmm no. They are very sweet and tarty and yummy. We also went and found a phone store so we could get a sim card for the phone to get some data with. On the way we passed this little place.
Says it all
As Phil from Duck Dynasty would say. " everybody's Happy Happy "On the Dutch side we found great marine stores that Dirk drooled over and we found another great grocery with great produce and of course baguettes.
Yummy Bruschetta
Wow, they even have a Welfare Road here.
Our favorite place on the dutch side however is Lagoonies where everyday but Sunday they have happy hour with half price beer and rum punch. The punch had a kick to it also. So everyday at about 4:45 we would pile in the dinghies and all meet over to discuss the days events and weather and such.
Dea Latis, Lequesto, and our favorite new hangout
Killer rum punches
And the Rat Pack group gets bigger
They had great appitizers and a plate that had onion rings, calamari, tuna fish pate, quesadillas and baguette. All this was about $10.00 and it fed both Dirk and I and it was dinner many nights. We became the usuals and one evening there the bar tenders gave us all a drink on the house as a thank you. We hated to leave but we had too. On the 8th we staged outside in Simpson Bay to prep for an early am departure. S/V Tempo joined us and we went into one last happy hour to bid farewell to the ones staying behind for now. Once we got back to the boat we put the dinghy up, tied the deck down and tried to get some shut eye. It was very rolly and not much sleep was to be found. Dirk ended up going to sleep on the floor in the salon wedged up against the seating. I just kept rolling around and around. Makes for a sleepless night and a grumpy Nancy. At 5:30 am we pulled anchor and set our sights south. Hopefully this would be one of the last night crossings we would have to do for a while. This is getting old.