January 2015 ~ Blasting North

Chronological Order

Day 1599 ~ Beach TimeJanuary 31st, 2015

One of the kid boat cruisers organized a dive intro course for all the kids.  Unfortunately, the dive instructor had dinghy issues and couldn't come, but Erik is a retired instructor so did a short course covering equipment and basic signals.  Another dad also pitched in and imparted his knowledge then each took their own kids in the water.  For the rest, it was a good opportunity to hang out with other kids so all told it was a successful venture.

 

Day 1598 ~ Ladies' LunchJanuary 30th, 2015

One of the cruisers organized a Ladies' Lunch a couple weeks ago.  Twenty five ladies showed up so she did it again this week.  Michelle and I went and it was nice to meet some more cruisers.

 

Day 1597 ~ More BracesJanuary 29th, 2015

Having braces while sailing the Caribbean means several different doctors from several different islands.  However, island prices are considerably less than in the US, especially Alaska, so it's worth the extra search time.  Nana got her bottom teeth banded in Grenada, but the dentist didn't have the time to finish the top.  After my scouting expedition on Tuesday, I found out only one orthodontist serves St. Martin, Sint Maarten, Saba and Statia (St. Eustatia).  I emailed the office on Tuesday and the doctor himself responded that we could come today.  Expecting the cost to be higher than Grenada, but still less than the states, I was pleasantly suprised that I would end up paying $60USD less, but that price would include full x-rays and a check-up for the bottom, another $180 savings.

 

Day 1596 ~ Snow in JuneauJanuary 28th, 2015

Meanwhile in Juneau, Alaska, where Peter is hard at work in the political center, a little snow falls.

 

Day 1595 ~ ErrandsJanuary 27th, 2015

Discovery returns this afternoon from Anguilla so wanted to take the kidless opportunity to do laundry, find an orthodontist for Nana and take Pippin for a long walk.  Pippin hasn't been on a proper leash-less walk in several days so we planned a little excursion up to Fort Louis.

Turns out the orthodontist on the French side is the same one I called on the Dutch side, so comparing prices was in vain.  He serves the French two days a week, as well as going to Saba and Eustacia once a month so with the mundane out of the way, we headed for the fort, a short walk up from Marigot.

 

Day 1593 ~ CarouselJanuary 25th, 2015

Four Coconuts sails for the Virgin Islands tonight so what better way to say our good-byes is to go to Carousel for the send-off .   Another kid boat arrived in the anchorage so we invited them along too.

 

Day 1592 ~ HikeJanuary 24th, 2015

Went to Loterie Farm for a hike.

 

Day 1591 ~ Birthday PartyJanuary 23rd, 2015

After a late night, lessons were a little more difficult to finish in good time, but they plodded along.  Discovery came over after lunch and the girls set out to make my birthday peanut butter pie.  Everyone was either gone or had prior engagements, so the girls and I had a little party just the four of us.  Gifts, singing and delicious pie.

Thanks, girls.

 

Day 1590 ~ Being SocialJanuary 22nd, 2015

Earlier in the week, I signed up for a cruiser-organized ladies' lunchen for today only realizing later that it was also my birthday.  Good timing.  Finished lessons with the girls, then went off to 'do lunch'.  About 25 women were there and I tried mousaka for the first time.  It was quite tasty.  Visited a while, then headed to the store to get the traditional peanut butter pie ingredients.

When I got back to the boat, however, the girls were waiting impatiently.  Rafiki and La Jeannoise were leaving for the BVIs tonight and they really wanted to see them one more time.  They hopped in, we took Pippin for a quick run ashore, then zoomed off to Marigot Bay.  Ended up visiting until well past 10pm.

 

Day 1588 ~ Kid Marathon EndsJanuary 20th, 2015

The kid entourage moved to Ile Tintamarre, then around to Grand Case on the NW side.  It's only 4.5 miles up, and no waves since the winds are very light, so Pippin and I took a little drive in the dinghy to get the girls.  When I got there, the kids were still going strong swimming, playing games and running around.  Calypso, their cat, managed to find a quiet spot guarding the horn in case the kids got too roudy.

 

Day 1587 ~ The MazeJanuary 19th, 2015

We've had zero to very light breezes lately so dinghy trips are dry.  To take advantage of the calm seas, a cruising couple on Sailing Diver offered on the Net a dive out to The Maze in front Phillipsburg today, about 3.5 nautical miles from the Dutch bridge.  Since the girls wouldn't be back until the afternoon, I could go.  There were others who wanted to go, but in the end we were only three.  It's about a 20 minute dinghy ride, but since they'd been there several times, it was simple to find the mooring buoy.

The water wasn't as clear as I thought it might be after several no wind days, but we could see 30 feet or so at the base.  The terrain is sandy bottom with ribbons of coral ridges running through.  Thus, the name of The Maze.  Both Richard and Nancy are dive masters.  Nancy has over 4,000 dives alone!  Richard carried a small writing board and pointed out several things along the way.

Soon after we started, a shark came rather close to Nancy as if he was getting her scent and then turned off.  A second joined in and both made several passes as we swam through the reefs.  After about 40 minutes, we headed up, out and back to the Lagoon.

I returned and took Pippin ashore for his daily romp and then checked in with Discovery.  Michelle said that all was well and the kids were still having a great time.  She offered one more night so I agreed.  It'll be just Pippin and I once again.

 

Day 1586 ~ Pinel Kid ManiaJanuary 18th, 2015

The kids were having so much fun with their friends that they were invited to stay another night in Pinel.

 

Day 1585 ~ More Kid PlayJanuary 17th, 2015

The kids came over to play after breakfast.  The little ones built a fort on the front.

Discovery was going to head out to Ile Pinel on the NE side and invited the girls to come for the afternoon.  Rafiki and La Jeannoise showed up and Michelle asked if they could stay overnight and return the next day.  Hard to pass up a night alone on the boat.

 

Day 1584 ~ Tubing ManiaJanuary 16th, 2015

The kids have worked themselves into a frenzied pre-departure pace again.  La Jeannoise and Rafiki are soon leaving so they all want to get as much time together as possible.  Tubing was the order for today and they spent several hours going around and around the bay, switching groups and going around again.

Needless to say, they were all exhausted by sunset.

 

Day 1583 ~ Christmas AgainJanuary 15th, 2015

We had hoped to join our kid boat friends in Antigua by Christmas. However, our engines didn't arrive in time and we didn't even leave Grenada. We thought, perhaps, that we could try catching up by the new year, but we rang in 2015 while sailing in between Dominica and Guadeloupe. As we finally closed in on St. Maarten, our destination, the kids were all abuzz with the news that more of their friends than expected were already there and began making plans to have a belated Christmas exchange party today.

I dashed off first thing to do a bunch of errands on the French side. I still needed to clear us into the country, do a huge load of laundry, take out the trash and buy some food. I've been meaning to go now for a few days, but the winds have been so strong that returning with wet salty laundry would defeat the purpose. I returned around 1pm so I had 2 hours to get most of the clothes and sheets dry and put away before the kids descended. With the humidity at 56%, by the time I got the last of the laundry hung, the first was already dry.

The kids arrived mid-afternoon, opened all their gifts and then got a little tubing in before the sun set and they headed back to their own boats.

 

Day 1582 ~ Birthday PartyJanuary 14th, 2015

Jaci and Michelle have been in Florida for a week and return today.  It's also Jaci's birthday so the kids wanted to decorate and make cake to surprise her.  John went off in the dinghy to retrieve them and the kids spent most of the time waiting figuring out how exactly to carry out the surprise part.  In the end, they were quiet and she was surprised so all went well.  Once the cake and gifts were done, then it was off to play games and swim.

 

Day 1581 ~ DeparturesJanuary 13th, 2015

The morning was spent getting Peter and Daniel off to the airport.  Daniel needs to go home and Peter needs to show up in person for his job.  We managed to remember the passports and dashed off across the lagoon.  There's a small dock a short walk from the terminal so quite handy.  By road, it would take us at least 20 minutes to get from where we are.  Managed to arrive without getting too wet; nothing like hopping on a plane wet and salty.

I was going to go to town to take care of clearing in and laundry, but pounding the waves with a chance of getting sprayed is not worth the effort.  Helped the girls with their lessons instead and then, after lunch, they were off with their friends anchored by us.

Found out later that Peter's plane had troubles getting off the ground.  After waiting a while, rebooting in vain, deplaning and reboarding, they finally got off the ground 3.5 hours late.  This also means missing the Miami, Phoenix and Seattle connections.  Not a great way to start a 36 hour trip.  They put him up in a hotel and gave him a $12 dinner voucher.  Not sure which decade those were printed, but I'm not sure Peter's $11.79 pineapple and yoghurt 'meal' would exactly qualify as 'dinner'.  Daniel's plane, on the other hand, took off on time and arrived in New York 40 minutes early.

 

Day 1580 ~ Kid ReunionJanuary 12th, 2015

It's been a long, kidless spell.  With the exception of the extra day in Bequia spent swimming with Iza, our days have been spent under way between islands so as to be able to spend the night at anchor since we left Grenada on the 27th.  With several boats from Grenada now in St. Martin, it was time to reconnect and make up for lost time.  Rafiki (2), Discovery (4) and La Jeannoise (2) came over to hang out on our boat.  They played spoons, the younger ones concocted potions and then, just before it got dark, they all went tubing for a short time.

 

Day 1579 ~ Last LegJanuary 11th, 2015

Peter finished up the water tank fix project so we again have two working tanks.  All we now need is rain.  Ate a leisurely and traditional Swedish pancake breakfast and then readied the boat for our last passage to St. Martin.  We made the two and a half hour downwind run with just our headsail.  La Jeannoise departed at the same time and quickly blew by us with their head and main sails furled.  We arrived a half hour before the bridge opening so anchored briefly before heading through both bridges and over to the west end of the lagoon where we camped out for six months last year.  Discovery has been in St. Martin for a few weeks and will move over by us tomorrow.

Once the hook was set, the VHF radio came to life.  Turns out a couple of other kid boats from Grenada are also here.  The girls organized all their friends, and a new kid boat, and we all headed to our favorite gelato shop, a must-visit place while in St. Martin (after all, Daniel's never been there so we had to indoctrinate him early).  The energy that 12 kids who haven't seen each other for several weeks can produce is amazing, and ear-deafening.  This added to an already busy shop that had the TV blaring in the background.  All in all, it was fun to catch up with friends and meet some new ones too.

 

Day 1578 ~ Below and Above Sea LevelJanuary 10th, 2015

We're only here for a day so may as well pack everything in.  After lunch Daniel and I went diving around the northern point.  We saw plenty of coral, tons of fish, several barracuda, a few turtles and a couple of lobsters that were the length of our arms (antenna not included).

After returning to the boat and while cleaning up, La Jeannoise motored past.  They had departed Antigua around 3am and just got in.  The kids were ecstatic as we haven't seen them since they left Grenada mid-November.  We brought their kids to our boat for some games and catching-up time and Nina dropped us adults and Pippin at the beach since there's a fair amount of surge and a rocky coast line.  Pippin was so excited that he launched himself off into the water before we reached the shore.

Overall, finding internet hasn't been a problem while we've been cruising, just sometimes it involved some interesting adventures.  We have a second SIM card for our phone that accesses the French Digicel network.  However, Ile Fourchue is horseshoe-shaped and blocks all cell signals from both St. Maarten and St. Barth's, at least at the mooring ball line.  At our last stop, I signed up for a 3-day plan so we could stop here and Peter wouldn't be completely out of touch from clients.  Accessing the plan just requires us to hike up the north side of the island until we have a clear view of Barth's 3G signal.

Once all the fires were out, we then continued on around the ridge line and down the main  path to the beach.  Nina picked us up and we carried on with our usual evening tasks.  A full, but good day.

 

Day 1577 ~ Dinner to OrderJanuary 9th, 2015

The night was absolutely still, a bit of a change from the 30 knot blasts barrelling down the mountainside over the past week.  At 7:45am, again, we raised the main at anchor and motored out into flat seas.  Debating the sanity of running the engines all the way to our destination or turning back to wait an extra day, we kept on plodding along, optimistically hoping the wind would fill in once we cleared the island.  We shut the engines off about 8:30 and dropped to 3 knots putting us in Ile Fourchue 21-23 hours later.  Not good, but we were still sort of in the lee of the outer north islands, at least we hoped.

By 9am, we crept up to 4 knots and by 9:30 we topped out at 6 knots.  We decided to keep going.  The seas were relatively flat, wind on the beam and we'd still make it by 8 or 9pm.  Couldn't ask for much better, especially considering how we began our trek north from Grenada.

Daniel put his fishing line out right away and took requests for dinner.  I told him that we probably couldn't do wahoo again, but a mahi-mahi might be nice.  Several hours passed over depths of 450+.  About mid-way to St. Barth's the ocean floor shelves up to a shallow 45 meters, back down to 450 meters, then up again to 40.  Daniel's line managed to come to life on the contour line of each transition.  With each, we turned downwind, reeled it in, dumped it in the bucket and assessed whether or not it was a keeper.  A funky needle-nosed fish of unknown name came in first so we tossed it back, a small barracuda followed an hour later but are not safe to eat this far north and 30 minutes after that, the third, believe it or not, was an iridescent green and yellow mahi-mahi.  Nice going, Daniel!  Got a nice meal out of it and gave the kids canned salmon as they're not crazy about any other fish.

DayDreaming Spot
Latitude:17.43506
Longitude:-62.27988
GPS location Date/Time:01/09/2015 08:11:04 AKST

DayDreaming Spot
Latitude:17.62949
Longitude:-62.51761
GPS location Date/Time:01/09/2015 11:23:45 AKST

DayDreaming Spot
Latitude:17.75669
Longitude:-62.68994
GPS location Date/Time:01/09/2015 12:58:26 AKST

Sailed by St. Barth's and the bay was packed with mega yachts and cruise ships all lit up like Christmas trees.  Got to the island just north at 8:30p.  Trying to find a mooring ball in a pitch dark setting was going to be tricky, but then a boat we know from Grenada called us on the radio and shone their flashlight on the one behind them.  Just enough light to hook it on the second try.  Nice to stop moving again.

Passage summary: 12.75 hours, 78.5 nautical miles - 6.16 knot average

 

Day 1576 ~ On the Sea AgainJanuary 8th, 2015

The plan is to sail to Antigua for a night, then continue the next day on our trek toward St. Martin.  We got going around 8:30am.  The bay was so calm that we raised the main at anchor and motored out.  It didn't take long before the wind kicked in and we could turn off the engines.  The seas had calmed some from the big blow, we didn't rock too much and winds were from the forward quarter so we weren't pounding.  Daniel caught a meal-sized rainbow runner six miles south of the island.  Having gotten seven and a half meals out of the last wahoo, everyone breathed a sigh of relief at its smaller size.

DayDreaming Spot
Latitude:16.62495
Longitude:-61.85916
GPS location Date/Time:01/08/2015 07:16:56 AKST

DayDreaming Spot
Latitude:16.99587
Longitude:-61.88687
GPS location Date/Time:01/08/2015 10:13:49 AKST

We managed to sail all the way up the west coast to Jolly Harbor, only having to run the engines to get through the anchorage.  We set the hook at 4:15p and still had a couple hours of daylight.

We found several familiar boats from Grenada anchored there, but we planned to leave first thing in the morning so no time to reconnect.  After checking the anchor, we took Pippin to shore to work off his sea legs and the three of us headed into town for groceries and to find wifi.

Before finally leaving Grenada, we managed to spend most of our EC dollars since St. Martin/Maarten uses only Euros and US dollars and we might not hit an EC island in between.  We were left with just a few EC dollars so thought we did pretty good, all delays considered.  However, when I rummaged through the nav table a couple days later, I found 495.79EC tucked in a sandwich bag.  This could be a problem had we gone straight to St. Martin, but now that we're island hopping, our last resort for the exchange is Antigua.  Jolly Harbor has a decent sized grocery store so we thought we'd see if we could spend most or all there.  Daniel had only 1.01EC left from his stash.

We cruised the aisles and each put in a few needed items, along with a couple special ones.  Peter was sort of keeping track, but we didn't think about it much.  Once in the check out line, Peter guessed we had $414 worth of goods, however the scanner kept adding.  The final tally? 497.24EC.  Our pool? 496.80EC.  I'd say that's pretty close for three people randomly filling a shopping cart!  Peter picked out an item to put back, but the cashier just said, "it's okay, it's only a few cents" and let it go.  Yes, 44 EC cents is only 16 US cents, but we've been in shops in some islands where if something costs 4.03 and we only have either 4 or 5 dollars, they'll opt to take the latter and give us back 97 cents in change.

Next stop was to break out the spoons and consume the Häagen Dazs purchased for the occasion, then go in search of wifi.  Peter found a little take-out restaurant and managed to get the password without a purchase, which was good because we had no EC money left and didn't think to bring any of our US dollars.  He then gave me the password and, being unsuccessful in reaching the signal from the bench, I found a phone booth just outside the kitchen from which to take care of buying a data plan on our French SIM card for tomorrow's pit stop just north of St. Barth's.

Passage summary: 8 hours, 54 nautical miles - 6.75 knot average

 

Day 1575 ~ Diver DownJanuary 7th, 2015

Yesterday was a bit blustery and rainy off and on and I think everyone was content just to chill out.  Daniel and I postponed diving and are glad we waited, but the plan is to leave Thursday so today is all we have for one more dive.  The day broke calm and mostly clear.  The girls did lessons in the morning and broke for lunch.  Daniel and I gathered our gear and headed to Malendure Point at the mouth of the bay.  There we found coral, fish and even a couple of turtles that didn't seem to mind our close proximity.

We got back just in time to take our tanks in before the pink dive shop closed.  When I asked about filling a few jerry cans, she not only said yes, but told me to have something to drink and use their shower (I was still in my wetsuit).  A full-service club.  Next we walked Pippin, took care of the trash, put the postcards in the letterbox and made a final grocery run.  I think we're ready to leave though it's sure been nice to stay in one place for a while to enjoy and explore.

 

Day 1573 ~ Birds & FlowersJanuary 5th, 2015

One more half day with the car and the marathon ends.  Day 3 we reserved for the botannical garden, something I've wanted to see since our first trip to Guadeloupe.  Nana, my only other flower lover in the family, and I took to the road around 9am in order to allow for the half hour drive and plenty of time for viewing flowers before having to return the car.  Our first stop, however, was Deshaies to finally check in, buy some postcards and stamps.  The gift shop with the Customs computer is closed from Noon until 4pm, so the best time to go is morning.

Amazingly, we found the gift shop and post office both open.  Since we've waited so long to clear in and are planning to sail out on Thursday, I was able to do a 48 hours check-in and -out at the same time.  Handy, considering it's taken us four days just to make our entrance official.

Next stop, the gardens.  Nana and I spent a leisurely two and a half hours wandering along the floral path.  We stopped a few times to munch on snacks, taking our time to enjoy everything.  A lovely park full of trees, bushes, flowers of many varieties, an aviary with lorrikets and parrots and a small stream added to the effect.

We ended at the gift shop and purchased a couple postcards to send home before making our way back.  We left the car at the restaurant and headed to the boat, glad we got to do all we wanted, but thankful to reach the finish line.  Spent the afternoon relaxing as no one wanted to do anything else.

 

Day 1572 ~ Forty Knots & Zero VisibilityJanuary 4th, 2015

Having rented our car for two days, there was no need to rush out in the morning. We began with our traditional Sunday pancake breakfast, then Peter worked on the water tank fix. Eventually, by around Noon, we were in the car and rolling south. The girls stayed behind as they had no interest in any hiking, but we took Pippin since he's been couped up on a rocking and rolling boat for the past week since leaving Grenada.

In March of 2013, our family hiked to the base of La Soufrière. Ever since, Peter's wanted to return to hike to the top of the crater. The recent high winds, the reason we're holed up in Guadeloupe, enshrouded the mountain in clouds as it created its own weather system. The trail we were to take is on the leeward side, so we figured it wouldn't be too windy until the top. Sundays are also a day when tourists and locals go hiking, but most start in the early morning, the other reason we didn't rush out the door. Last time, both shoulders of the last mile of road was completely filled with parked cars and we only got a spot at the top lot because we arrived around 11am when the first hikers were departing. This time, however, the road was clear the whole way up and parking area only mostly filled. It was either due to the misty day or our late arrival about half past 12.

We gathered our things and Pippin, who was only too excited at the prospect of getting a walk on terra firma. Little does he know that this hike will more than make up for his sedentary lifestyle of late. The first part of the hike is paved with stones and about 20 minutes long. From there, one reaches a plateau followed by a gradual incline to a unused parking lot at the base of the crater trail. We came out of the initial forest and the fog was so thick we couldn't see the mountain. Good thing Peter thought to bring jackets as the misty fog was cold and wet.

We met a few returning hikers and let Pippin loose. He was so excited to finally be free to run and probably sniffed every bush and investigated every ditch there was for the first few minutes. We got to the base and asked a hiker about the winds ahead. "Très, très fort." (very, very strong) was his only reply.

The trail was considered 'difficult', but that must have been due to the steepness, not the quality of the path. Even though we couldn't see what was ahead or behind us, the ground was lush and green. The trail wound around the mountainside, up water run-off channels and around mounds of dirt; some of the sides came up to our chest.  Pippin would run ahead to Daniel and then back to Peter and I to check on us and repeat the process the whole way; we figured that for our one ascent he'll have done it 2-3 times by the end.

The last section rose almost straight up and we scaled rocks and braced ourselves to oncoming gusts of wind. The higher we reached, the stronger the gusts. We brought our lunch, but our original thought of a leisurely trailside meal, was not going to happen in fog and 40 knots. Turning a corner, the trail passed alongside a large, rounded concrete structure.  On the leeward side we walked through a small opening and found benches inside. Built in 1935, it's still intact and a calm spot in the fiercest weather. Five Guadeloupians joined us and we chatted while the feeling returned in our limbs; for some it was their first hike, for others a second. What a day to pick for all of us.

About 50 yards ahead, the trail reached the summit (1467m). The locals headed back down and we crazy three continued up. I took about 15 steps and, afraid the wind would carry me off, returned on all fours to the shelter to wait for the guys. Yes, they made it, although there was nothing to see through the dense fog; we relied on the descriptive sign to get an idea of what it even looked like.

The winds were strong and Peter felt some gusts of 50 knots. Two vacationing doctors also just down from the summit, met up with us. We opted to all walk down together for safety. Originally from Lebanon, they had been living/working in France for the last two decades.  The surgeon didn't have a real good command of English, but the doctor more than made up for it. He regaled us with his experiences in French Guyana and told us what a great place it was to visit along with listing all the venomous snakes, sea creatures and bad people there.  Hmmm.

Wind aside, we made it down in good time, warming up as we descended.  We stopped at the 'warm' springs pool at the end and rinsed off the dirt from our legs and from Pippin.  After that, Peter took him to the car where he curled up into a little ball in the back seat until he stopped shivering.

Since we didn't have the kids, we thought of finding a nice restaurant to cap off our day.  Unfortunately, most businesses in France are closed on Sundays, including eating establishments as we soon found out.  We went into town to the marina to try to check off our clearing in task, but the restaurant that houses the Customs computer was closed for both holidays and will reopen tomorrow.  Ah well, one of these days.

Thwarted on the dining front, we headed back to the boat.  About 15-20 minutes from our destination, we came across a roadside restaurant with its sign lit up.  This has potential so we decided to try it.  The owner being a dog-owner herself, didn't even mind us bringing Pippin to an outdoor table.  After sitting down, however, we realized that finding something to eat would prove a bit difficult.  I can read a fair bit of French, but didn't have my glasses so couldn't read the menu.  Peter, who knows a few basic words, could read the words but his pronunciation is severely lacking to know what it says.  Daniel doesn't know French at all.  We were quite a triad.  I managed to squint hard enough and hold the menu up to the light to be able to pick out a few key words.  For the rest, the owner helped to translate.  Peter tried "Bambi's papa", Daniel ended up with a local red fish of unknown translation and I ordered the beef and noodles with asian vegetables.  A nice way to end a vigorous day.

 

Day 1571 ~ Packed PandaJanuary 3rd, 2015

Tackled a few odd jobs in the morning and then got ready to begin our rental car marathon.  We each chose things we wanted to do and, with many alterations to the itinerary, finally took to the road.  The girls wanted to see the large mall in the city.  Peter wanted to climb Mt. Soufrière and Lisa wanted to visit the botannical gardens.  We also still haven't been able to check into the country, so figured we could do that at somewhile we're at it.  Hoping the car had enough space to fit all six of us, we all trooped to shore.  If it didn't work, then Peter would remain behind and work.

I had arranged a 1pm car pick up, the restaurant was packed and the owner wasn't available to stop and fill out paperwork until 2pm.  Turned out, the car had been sitting behind me the whole time, a Fiat Panda.  I drove it over to the crew and we all piled in.  Lisa and Peter in the front, Daniel, Nina and Nana in the back and Nika in the hatch storage area seated on a cushion.  Pa di pwoblem, as they say in de islands, Mon.

We zipped over the windy mountain pass and were transported to big-city-ville in a half an hour.  Bright lights, leftover holiday decorations and lots of after-Christmas sales.  The grocery store alone has 38 check-out stands.  It's a bit of a surreal experience after living in Grenada for over 4 months.  We got a bite to eat, replenished the girls' swimwear stock, then headed down to Carrefour's super store to restock with basics, fresh produce and buy those few items only sold in the French islands.  We used the last of our Guadeloupian sugar a month ago; pure cane and straight from the fields only 10 minutes away.

With spoons from the boat in hand, we ended the day on bench and continued the tradition of eating ice cream out of a 500g tub.  We thought we could make it back to Deshaies in time to clear in the country before they close at 7pm, but arrived 10 minutes late. Maybe tomorrow.

 

Day 1570 ~ Wild Goose ChaseJanuary 2nd, 2015

After recouperating from the overnight passage, we got motivated to go ashore for a bit of reconnaissance.  We need water, a rental car and the bus schedule.

First priority, water.  Our one working tank is completely empty so we need to fill our 55 gallon bag and all jerries possible.  However, we've never found it so difficult to fill a jerry can as this area seems to sport some underlying water politics.  I started with a dive shop from whom we bought water last year (after asking several others).  They have a spigot on the dock that made it quite easy to fill our bag and other jerry cans.  However, this time the owner apologized and said he wouldn't mind, but he buys from another guy and that guy doesn't like it to be used for anything but their dive shop.  He sent me to the glass-bottom boat vendor and said they have their own proper counter.

I walked over to Nautilus, but they told me they don't have water and to try the dive shop next door.  The dive shop just pointed to the tourist bureau and said they have a faucet we could use connected in the showers.  The tourist shop took me to the faucet, which turns out is free and at our disposal, but the hose wouldn't be long enough to reach the water and, in addition, the beach was packed with swimmers and sunners.  This was not going well.

I skipped the yellow dive shop next door and went straight to the pink one even though we knew from past experience that they don't have a hose on the dock.  They've been great for everything else we've needed and very friendly in the past.  They've provided dive excursions, tank fills (they've got the best prices) and even hosed off our submerged dinghy engine enough so Peter could get it working again.  We knew they didn't have a spigot on the dock, but perhaps something would work out.  Much to our relief, it appears they're out of the political loops as the lady, without hesitation, said it was no problem to take whatever we wanted.  Their hose wasn't long enough to get over the rock wall in front of their shop, so Peter went back for ours.  We positioned the dinghy as close to the wall as we could, scaled down the boulders with the hose and managed to fill everything with their high-flow hose.  When I went to offer to pay for what we used, she just said that she wouldn't know what to charge me.

While the other crew started the bucket brigade to replenish our tank, I went to see about a car.  This time of year is the high season and it's difficult to even find one available, let alone get one with enough room to pack all six of us. The company we've used in the past, within a 10 minutes' walk from the dock, was no longer in the car business on our last visit, so we figured one of us would have to bus to Deshaies, a 40 minute trip north. I just happened to ask the tourist bureau if there were any new companies and, after a few phone calls and they arranged for one to be delivered from the next town up. Evidently, a local business owner has a friend with a car rental business. We had agreed on a 1pm pick up at her restaurant.

Water and car secured, we had no more use of the bus and we could start thinking about recreational ventures.

The Jacques Cousteau Reserve offers several great spots and tank refills are relatively cheap at the pink dive shop.  After a bit of lunch, Daniel and I set out to Pigeon Island.  We found a wall that went to an unknown depth so started there.  When we realized we were 90 feet down, we leveled off and then slowly started to rise.  We saw lots of coral, sponges and fish, a successful outing.

 

Day 1569 ~ Sailing in the New YearJanuary 1st, 2015

DayDreaming Spot
Latitude:15.58988
Longitude:-61.61215
GPS location Date/Time:12/31/2014 19:39:48 AKST

DayDreaming Spot
Latitude:15.72088
Longitude:-61.66602
GPS location Date/Time:12/31/2014 20:39:50 AKST

DayDreaming Spot
Latitude:15.92543
Longitude:-61.73343
GPS location Date/Time:12/31/2014 22:24:33 AKST

We cooked along between Dominica and Les Saintes.  Peter continued his watch so I went down for more sleep.  I came back up about 3:30a, just before we calmed down again in the lee of Guadeloupe.  Just beyond Basseterre, in the wind shadow of La Soufrière standing around 3,000 feet, our speed dropped to 2 knots.  We still had a couple hours to go and until daylight returned so opted to take it slow without engines.

Once we were down to 1.5 knots and light returned to the sky, we chose engine power to get us the last couple of miles.  Only five other boats in the anchorage and our spot we had in August was open so set the hook, Peter snorkeled over and called it good.  Only glitch was when he looked up at our storage hatch and saw one door gone...again.  Somewhere between Grenada and Guadeloupe last year, both doors were ripped off in the pounding surf and we had to have new ones made in St. Martin.  We have no idea when it happened this time, but likely during the last between-island transition since it was the roughest of the three.  Guess we'll have to see if David can make a third one when we get to St. Martin.

Can we say, déjà-vu?

Passage summary: 19 hours, 135 nautical miles - 7.1 knot average