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June 2011

Caught in the Net and Country Music in St. Lucia

We’re from Maine and know a lot of folks who fish for a living. We also know the rules of the road for boaters – whether we’re sailing or under power, it’s up to us to get out of the way for working fishermen. Nothing in the rules discuss what to do when you’re at anchor. Who would need a rule for that?

Over the past week or so we’d sometimes seen one or two of their small open fishing boats sitting in the bay while a few men in snorkel gear checked the waters for fish. We wondered what kind of fish they were seeking and how they would catch them. Now we know how it’s supposed to work. Yesterday morning EW and I were minding our own business aboard La Luna, at anchor in Rodney Bay, when we heard small boat engines, whistles and shouting.

P6290249On deck we discovered one of those fishing boats, behind our stern, towing one end of a net with floats. “They’ve gone around FoxSea!” said EW. “No. I said. “They must just have gone in front of her,” not believing him. “You look,”  he said. So I did, and he was right – again. Off our stern sat FoxSea at anchor with the large net being pulled by two boats heading towards shore. The one that had been behind us came just along our port side. I was elated to have a show to watch and grabbed the camera. EW grabbed a boat hook and a fender as he was concerned about the fishing boats on our newly polished hull and the fish net and our rudder and propeller. EW is a smart man.

There were two men in each boat and four or five in the water along the nets, and a lot of shouting and hand waving. Here's Vicky's account from FoxSea:   

Vicky's shot of the fishermen

At breakfast, we noticed a local snorkeling around the boat. MMMMMM, wonder  what he's looking for?  Later a boat arrived with much chatter and the fishing net.  We inquired. Answer, we're going to catch the fish under your boat.  Do you want us to move?  No, we'll just moved your anchor, don't worry.  Then they leave. 1 hour later, more chatter, more fishermen, more boats. We look out, nobody says anything, so we go back to work.

The men in the water told them that there was a school of jack under FoxSea. Well, OK, but how did they intend to net them around FoxSea’s anchor and chain? This did not seem to be a well thought out operation. As Bob said later, “If they asked us before setting the net to raise anchor for a bit so they could fish, we would have – but I bet the fish would have moved when we did.”

The local fishermen apparently don’t have radios – and the swimmers wouldn’t be able to use them anyway, so communication consisted of whistling, yelling and much hand waving. To each other, they talk in Creole or St. Lucian Kweyol, so while we could certainly hear everything we could understand only a little of what was said.

It took them a long time to circle the net as they had to deal with the two sailboats, FoxSea and La Luna, and it was determined that FoxSea had to raise her anchor and move. Bob and Vicky had to maneuver their boat, engine running, raise the anchor and avoid a net being moved by the current and three swimmers off their stern. I didn’t envy them.  And, where does a sailboat go when it’s encircled by a floatingP6290261_thumb_thumb fishing net? The Fisherman-in-Charge yelled and gestured for them to head towards shore and go straight to the opening between the two fishing boats. The guys swimming on their stern told them to let the boat drift back and they’d take the net under. Since not running your engine while surrounded by a fishing net is better than running your engine, FoxSea elected to drift back and allow swimmers to take their net under the boat.  That worked just fine for FoxSea, and looked like a smooth operation from our view. Here's how Vicky described it:

Louder chatter, we look out.  A net is wrapped in a large circle around the
boat and would we please, raise the anchor and let the boat drift back.
What?!  How can we do that surrounded by a floating net?  About 4 start
talking at once in their English.  Our response "You want what?"  So we
finally understand, we are to pull up the anchor, shut off the engine, let
the boat drift away from the net with a snorkeler on each side of the boat
watch, then just drop our anchor.  Now we have out 125' of chain on the
bottom and there is a 60' sailboat anchored about 175' behind us plus the
net is on one side of another sailboat.  Net in the prop is carefully
discussed.  NO worry, the snorkelers are going to keep the net out of our
18 ton boat's prop.  Oh ya, this is one crazy day. So we start pulling ... just as the
wind pipes up to 20 knots.  So we start forward with Bob operating the
remote which activates the windlass and I'm driving with a snorkeler in my
phery on each side and the floating net too close and at least 30 people
watching.  When the anchor comes up, the wind catches the bow and swings
very close to the net, now everyone is yelling, "you're getting in the net".
Pedal to the metal in reverse and away from the net.  Now the snorkelers
want to swim under the boat to clear the net, so we shut down the motor.
Crossways to a 20 knot wind  in an outgoing fast current, we are quickly
drifting into the boat behind us. The owner is one of the watchers.  Quickly
the net is cleared and I drive around to a new spot to anchor.

They then motored to a new spot, out of the action.

Apparently the fishermen believed they still had a fine catch in a net that had been lowered under a 6.5 foot keel and open on the other end for a half hour while they figured out what to do with the sailboat.

In the meantime, EW was patrolling on La Luna’s port side and IP6290253 was taking photos. (We all have our priorities.) EW was still not pleased about the net near/under our boat and the fishing boss was less than pleased about our boat near his net. “Raise the anchor!” he said. EW said, “Absolutely not! I am not putting my boat in jeopardy by starting the engine with your net right there.” That seemed to make sense to at least some of the fishermen and one in particular stayed near our boat to keep the net free from La Luna’s rudder, prop and anchor chain.

He looked up and asked, “Do you have flippers I can borrow? I broke mine.” Frankly, I wasn’t sure how EW would respond, but he said, “Certainly. What size are your feet?”

He then told me to lower the swim ladder for the swimmer who changed out flippers. “I’ll bring them back,” he said. “Thanks!”

P6290264Throughout all of this, there was much yelling, hand waving, and whistling from the fishing boats and the swimmers. At one point, one of the more experienced ones near us looked at the Fisher-in-Charge and said, “What the shit he’s doing ?!”  (Pardon the two punctuation marks as I could not tell whether that was a question or an exclamation. It is certainly a colorful phrase and one that will probably be repeated on La Luna. I love that  - “What the shit he’s doing.”)

As the morning progressed, we’d noticed amplified music from shore. Loud amplified music. At first we heard tunes with a Caribbean flavor, then some odd songs, such as “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and then a whole CD of really awful Country Music. EW and I like pretty much all music, including Country, but this performer murdered every song we knew and performed/wrote some awful songs we didn’t care to know. Eventually we realized that the music was coming from the fishing port of the Gros Islet community.

After FoxSea safely re-anchored, they lowered their dinghy and Vicky hopped aboard. I assumed she was going to check the anchor or confirm that nothing bad happened to the propeller. My bad. There was a cruising ladies’ lunch scheduled and Vicky immediately left to pick up a friend and head ashore. (We all have our priorities.) Bob stayed with the boat. He and EW communicated by radio and about an hour later he wanted to move again as it was too rolly in his new spot. I took EW over to FoxSea to help Bob and I kept the dinghy as the fishermen had finally circled the net and I wanted to get photos of hundreds of fish flopping into their boat.

P6290279When I got back to La Luna, it was apparent that I wouldn’t need the dinghy because the action as again off of our stern, where the Fisherman-in-Charge and others were hauling the net into his boat. I was ready. Waiting for the fish. They were hauling the net. And hauling the net. And since the net still ran alongside our boat, they got closer as well. I quickly put the camera down and grabbed a fender holding it between their outboard motor and La Luna’s hull as they drifted past us, hauling in the net.

The man who had borrowed EW’s flippers came over and said that he could return them, now. I lowered the ladder again and we made the exchange – and then he told me. “No fish. All escape.”

“Really? I’m so sorry.”

When I told EW and Bob, EW said to me, “See, Bubs, it happens to professional fishermen, too.” (No, he’s not defensive, is he"?)

We felt bad for the fishermen; that was a lot of work, 9 men, 2 boats,and at least three hours of labor, for no return. As the music played on into the night, EW and I came to believe that they had intended to catch some fish for their barbeque, a birthday party for a local fisherman. The party and music lasted until well after 1:00 AM. I hope they had chicken as a back up because it sounded like a lot of folks had attended. As the night wore on, more bad country music made it into the DJ’s mix, including an appalling birthday song in which the singer/birthday boy is sad because "you aren't here." Oh yeah, happy birthday. Bob hates country music of any kind and EW felt sorry for Bob last night. I felt bad for the fishermen, but still wondered how laying your net around an anchored sailboat could work. What the shit’s he thinking?

 

 

 

 

 

 


Hair Cut in St. Lucia

haircut front 6-17-2011 9-16-01 AMI got another haircut!  Yippee! 

Really, this is big – who knew getting a good haircut would cause such angst?

Before we left, EW was going to grow his hair out to have a pony tail and I envisioned being married to a “Silver Fox” and running my fingers through his glorious wavy mane. (How’s that for a visual mixed metaphor?) By the Bahamas, we both realized that EW’s waves straightened out as they lengthened and that the long locks were driving him crazy – particularly when he snorkeled. So, I’m now cutting his hair and thankfully EW has no “hair ego” and doesn’t look in a mirror often. I know what I want to achieve but have no idea how to make it happen.  I have kept the back longer than his stylist did, and that does give me silky waves to caress.

As for me, EW refuses to cut my hair, even after I absolved him from all blame, pre-cut. I have very straight, fine hair and have had a lot of bad cuts in my time – one provided by my mother when I was six or so. She evened up the bangs so much that they stuck up straight when she was done – but they were even there was no denying that. To catch you up, after years of getting my hair cut by Darlene every four weeks in Portland, ’ve had my hair cut three times since September 2010: 1) Jacksonville in November, 2) Luperon in February, and 3) here in St. Lucia last week.

I made the appointment with Debra, the owner of Soothing Touch Massage Spa at Rodney Bay, and she called Vanessa, the hair stylist to confirm the day and time. Vanessa also works at a salon in Castries, 11 kilometers from Rodney Bay and has to take a bus to cut hair at the Soothing Touch. As we got acquainted,  I showed them the photo of my Luperon hair cut and they both said, “You want a Rihanna.”

My first thought was, “Really, I want a Rihanna? I don’t think so!”  Not wanting to insult someone’s potential heroine, I quickly thought back to any Rihanna hair style I could remember from glancing through People Magazine in various waiting rooms.While I vaguely recalled a style somewhat like the cut I got from Anna in Luperon, I also know that Rihanna has had a lot of different hairstyles. She’s young, beautiful and probably has a stylist at her fingertips. I am fifty-something, and live on a boat. Style isn’t one of my priorities, but I don’t want to look ridiculous. (EW knows that and hence, refuses to cut my hair.)  But I had shown Debra and Vanessa the photo and they seemed like nice women, so I sucked it up and said, “Yes, I want a Rihanna,” fingers crossed and knowing that the cut would probably be shorter than other previous cuts. Vanessa wet my hair, got out some clips and began to carefully lop off 2 inches and more of hair.  I hoped to get the Rihanna below right,

 Rihanna - Bob Haircuts 

 

not any of these Rihannas:

 

(If you want to know more about Rihanna’s styles, you can vote on your favorites at Elle.com. Who knew? That is where I found these photos.)

We had been joined by a woman who was in the area for a job interview. I don’t think either of them knew her,S she just wanted a cool place to wait for her appointment and she also enjoyed participating in my haircut. “She wants a Rihanna," said Vanessa. “Oh, yes,” said the other lady. “Not the new Rihanna,” Vanessa clarified with disdain for the star’s newer style. The three of them agreed that the fake red color was not attractive and they didn’t like the shorter spiky styles they’d recently seen sported by the singer. Internally, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was getting the “good Rihanna” cut. Whew.

We had a great time conversing about babies (Vanessa has a 2 year old daughter) weight loss, and renovations (Debra is going to remodel her two room salon/office) and food (I love learning about the local foods). By the time Vanessa had finished the cut, there was a lot of hair on the floor.  and we three were better acquainted.

Haircut iron 2 6-17-2011 9-03-42 AMAfter the cut, Vanessa had Debra heat up the irons.  I have very straight hair.  I have never ironed my hair and I suspected that I would pay more for a cut and style than I would just for a cut. Still, Vanessa had taken a 20 minute bus ride just to cut my hair. I sat still. She applied product to my short “Old Rihanna” cut and used an iron to curl the back under. I heard sizzling and only barely managed not to twitch with the hot iron millimeters from my exposed neck.

“What makes it sizzle?” I asked.

“That’s the wax I put on your hair to protect it,” said Vanessa. “You didn’t think I was burning your hair did you?” S

“No, I’ve burned my hair before and know what it smells like. I don’t smell burning hair.”

All three women laughed. One related that a certain local woman had burned her hair in church. “So did I,” I said. “With a candle at a rehearsal for a Christmas pageant.” They all laughed at that visual, and Vanessa kept heating up and applying the irons. My hair looked great. I asked Debra to take some photos for the blog and Vanessa asked whether she could take photos for her Facebook page. I readily agreed.

It’s a good haircut. I don’t have to use hot irons to style it as the back curls under just as it should. Whew. I do have to remember to apply sun screen to my exposed neck.

Oh, and EW likes it.


Life On-the-Hard in St. Lucia

 

View of Pigeon Island off our first anchorage.

Pigeon Island 6-13-2011 9-28-25 AMI’ve had three cups of coffee this morning. For over a year, I’ve had tea in the mornings, with an occasional coup of coffee when dining out. We have been On-the-Hard for 6 days and haven’t been sleeping well on a motionless boat. As is evidenced by the typo above, coffee was required.

We had an excellent sail from Isles des Saintes to St. Lucia, but couldn’t get the wireless to work for a few days. EW had work to do on-line so my computer time was relegated to un-installing and re-installing the wireless program --- 6 times. Imagine my delight when I finally checked the hardware and found that I had re-assembled it incorrectly and the antenna had become unplugged inside the waterproof housing. Wasted days and wasted nights.

This has to be quick as I need to put the second coat of paint on the boot-stripe. The haul out at Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia is largely going very well and we are extremely happy with the crew. It’s all good. There have been frustrating moments and funny moments. Just so you know what’s going on, here’s a quick synopsis:

Sunday, June 12 we arrived in Rodney Bay after a 30 hour sail. EW checked us in on Monday, which is a holiday here, Whit Monday. None of the locals we spoke to knew why there was a holiday, they just knew that most of them had the day off. EW and I had a wonderful dinner ashore at the local restaurant in the national park on Pigeon Island.Dinner on Pigeon Island 6-13-2011 3-21-51 PM

Tuesday, June 14, we got in contact with Edwin from Rodney Bay and arranged to have La Luna hauled on Wednesday at 2:00 PM. In the meantime, I went back to the restaurant on Pigeon to try to fix the Wi-Fi, while EW stayed on the boat and babysat Jenny the Honda Generator. When I failed to find the problem, EW went to the restaurant and used their Wi-Fi to get some work done while Jenny and I topped the batteries. EW had a much more exciting shift on La Luna than I did. From my comfortable nook overlooking the deck of the restaurant, I watched first as a squall moved through and then as a police/coast guard boat came alongside and boarded La Luna. They asked EW all sorts of questions, including asking him the color of my eyes as they held my passport. Tricky. He passed.

Wednesday, the 15th was blustery and we had problems backing La Luna into the slipway for the travel lift. We had to go in backwards or would have had to remove the forestay. The marina’s able crew, led by the extremely knowledgeable Ricky, hauled La Luna and left her in the sling for the night. They also put up jack stands so we wouldn’t sway in the wind. We had been invited aboard Molly Bloom for dinner and were happy to visit a floating boat. While on the hard, I can’t use any sink (or the head, of course). The boatyard has good, clean restrooms and showers and I’ve learned to do dishes by putting all wash and rinse water in a slop bucket for removal. Needless to say, there will be no multi-course meals prepared while on board.

Thursday, I toured all of the hardware and marine stores on this side of the harbor, looking for some items I need to do my haul-out projects, with no success. EW got on line in a café, I had little time to do so, and worked on the Wi-Fi when I was on-line. Thursday was a wasted, frustrating day.

This is getting whiny. I’m not often whiney. So make this more positive, here’s what I’ve accomplished so far:

  • Defrosted the fridge (again) and created a new insulation system for the freezer. I also had EW remove the freezer shelf and I blocked all access through the front freezer door. We have much less frost build up so far as a result.
  • Raised the water line 2 inches, taped off the new boot stripe and applied one coat of paint. Yes, there is a story here. Tune in later. Today I’ll sand that coat of paint and apply another.
  • Cleaned out the anchor locker and re-marked the anchor chain.
  • Cleaned the companion way non-skid. This is embarrassing. I have cleaned it for the past 9 years, but thought it was oatmeal in color. I used a new product and found out it is white non-skid. Mom would not be impressed.
  • Got my haircut…finally!
  • Attended an excellent yoga session.

Here’s what I have to do:

  • Apply a second coat of the red boot stripe
  • Remove the tape.
  • Tape the white reveal line and paint it.
  • Laundry
  • Attend the Yacht Club’s domino’s night on Wednesday. (I like my priorities.)

On the Hard in the Rain 6-20-2011 8-44-25 AMEW and the yard have their own projects, all of which have been hampered by showers every day. With luck we’ll be back in the water later this week. Since there have been a few low fronts going through and a couple more to come later in the week, I expect that we’ll stay at anchor in Rodney Bay for another week – and I”m hopeful that we’ll be able to play the tourist some.

 

 

 

 

 

This has actually been the easiest time I’ve had living on the hard for a number of reasons:

  1. Ricky’s crew provided a ladder that they tied to our stern ladder, providing much more comfortable access to the deck of La Luna. EW always had a ladder at one of the side gates, with little to hold on to at the top. That’s not going to happen again.
  2. The bathrooms are really clean.
  3. The security guards are friendly and very, very watchful.
  4. (Saving the best for last) Our cruising friends have all been on the hard in foreign ports. So far we’ve been invited to dine aboard other boats 4 times in 6 days. Heaven!

I’ve got to apply sunscreen, put a load of laundry in the bucket, and get down below to sand and paint. This is all part of the cruising life in Paradise. It’s a good life.


Au Revoir Isles Des Saintes

On Saturday morning, June 11th, We have left Guadeloupe for St. Lucia, a trip that will take 24 – 36 hours depending on the wind. It was difficult for us to leave Guadeloupe and this island. They have a remarkably easy check –in and check-out process, but the beauty of the islands and the nature of the people make it hard to leave. Here are photos from Terre-De-Haut, the largest of the lady saints:

 

Isles des Saintes Old and New 6-6-2011 7-52-26 AM

 

 

I love the blend of old and new here. This country – and this island in particular – are conscious of our environment. They have few cars here, most walk or use scooters or bikes. They recycle. They use solar power to heat their water. S

 

 

 

 

The fishermen use newer styled boats but paint them in bright colors. They wear swimsuits to work.  Well, some of them do, sometimes. These gentlemen had just delivered a catch to the local fish market. I purchased outstanding fresh tuna and enjoyed the view. Note, they had to leap over the side and carry the tubs of fish up to shore, that’s why they wore the suits. Most fishermen looked like the gentleman below.

IDS fisherman at Gas Station 2 6-7-2011 2-20-57 PM

He was getting his hooks ready for the next day.

 

 

 

Isles des Saintes Foy 1 6-6-2011 8-19-27 AM

 

Traditionally, they sailed and fished in boats similar to this one. Now these are built for racing. This one is in Alain Foy’s shop. The man is an artist.

 

isles des saintes foy 5 6-6-2011 8-20-51 AM

 

 

 

This boat is a blend of old and new. Note the hiking straps. This is a serious racing boat.

 

 

 

Isles des Saintes Breakfast 6-6-2011 7-32-36 AM

 

 

EW and I went to breakfast one morning. We should have gotten one sandwich and split it. They were delicious.

While we ate I “talked” with an older woman at another table. Neither of us spoke the other’s language but we did communicate. She pointed out that this pretty cat had eyes of a different color. IDS Cat in Bakery 6-6-2011 7-23-51 AM 6-6-2011 7-23-51 AM

 

 

 

 

After breakfast, we walked it off and enjoyed the sights northwest of town.

Isles des Saintes Pasture 6-6-2011 7-58-46 AM

 

 

 

 

Chickens, and goats and cattle – all in the same field. We heard that someone from a local bakery stops by this field on their way home with stale bread.

We missed the hand-off but I did see the goats and chickens munching on a few half loaves when I went past one afternoon.

 

 

Isles des Saintes Roofs 6-6-2011 7-50-31 AM

Isles des Saintes View over foilage 6-6-2011 7-51-42 AM

 

 

I loved the view from the hills as we were leaving the town.

 

 

 

 

Isles des Saintes Fan Palm 6-6-2011 7-57-52 AM

Isles des Saintes Colorful Homes 6-6-2011 8-06-34 AM

And I love their colorful homes.

On the right we have a blue home with violet shutters next to a lime green home with a red roof. Both beautiful.

 

 

 

IDS Pelicans 6-8-2011 10-06-10 AMEW and I – particularly EW – love to watch the pelicans. I was able to get up close and personal with these two. The beauty of their feathers surprised me. The back of their necks is a deep chocolate brown

 

. IDS Boatyard goat 6-7-2011 1-58-30 PMThis is a boatyard goat. There was a group of them at the yard that sells the gas. This little guy is nosing around the railway.

 

 

 

 

Isles des Saintes boatyard Chicken 6-6-2011 8-21-03 AM

 

 

 

This is a boatyard chicken located in Alain Foy’s wood shop.

 

We didn’t see any boatyard dogs, but saw a lot of much loved town dogs. This one belongs to an artist. We rubbed his belly – the dog’s not the artist’s.

IDS  white dog 6-4-2011 9-42-33 AM 6-4-2011 9-42-33 AM 6-4-2011 9-42-33 AM

 

 

 

 

 

Guadeloupe and Isles des Saintes. Je l’aime ici.

P6060078


Finding Gasoline in Les Saintes

Isles des Saintes Fishing Port 6-2-2011 7-04-16 AM - Copy (2)

Les Saintes is a sticky harbor and it’s easy to stay here longer than planned.  We need more time to explore all of the beaches and trails; we love the people; and fresh produce and fresh fish are plentiful and reasonably priced.  We can get water here (though it is the strangest set-up we’ve ever seen), and since this is a French island we can also find excellent wine and cheese ashore. What we couldn’t find was gasoline for the outboard and Honda 2000.

This was inconceivable to me as there must be a thousand motor scooters on this island and all of them run on gasoline. I had walked all over the town, and crossed the island on every road without seeing a gas station of any kind and we were running low, so we went to the tourist office and asked the nice lady there where to find fuel. “Ah!” she said, “Morel Marine at Baie de Marigot!” and she pointed on the tourist map indicating the bay north of town. This agreed with the information in Chris Doyle’s, The 2008-2009 Cruising Guide to the Leeward Islands:

It can be choppy when you enter Marigot, but the seas diminish farther in….there is a good little fuel station selling gas and diesel.

Earlier in a description of the bay, Doyle said about Morel Marine,

You can take your boat there or walk over. It is a long but lovely walk, the last half-mile being along a tiny path through the trees.

IDS Map with Notes 6-10-2011 3-45-28 PM

EW and I had already hiked to Marigot Bay and discovered that the easily accessible boat shop is not the one that sells the fuel. (The boat shop we visited is to the left of Beach 4 on the map. La Luna is moored at the far left of the map. Morel Marine is labeled “Fuel Depot in yellow lettering.)  We could see Morel Marine across the water at the mouth of the bay, but we had no idea how to get there, and could not believe that the entire community used this out-of-the-way location to purchase gasoline for the many scooters and few four-wheeled vehicles. The lady in the Tourist Office assured us that this was the only fuel depot on the island and pointed out the route. Since we were nearly out of gas and the seas were choppy, and since she didn’t indicate that this was not a normal walk, we set out one morning with another couple, towing two 5 gallon gas containers strapped to our shore cart.

We followed the road out of town where it met the road that turned toward the head of the bay. Earlier EW and I had found only a rough track from the head of the bay towards Fort Josephine. Do we continue along the main road, which goes around the steep hills away from the bay, or turn towards the bay and the mountain trail? “I’ll ask these gentlemen,” I said, pointing to a town work crew. Since I speak no French these conversations are always interesting but the islanders are helpful, friendly people and try to answer my questions. Looking at the four of us with our cart and gas jugs, the gentleman driving the truck was incredulous. “No, No” he said. Followed by the French version of "Maine’s “You can’t get there from here.”: He absolutely conveyed that we should not take those jugs over the hill to get fuel, but did finally concede to provide directions: right at the end of this street, then left. I confirmed that “this” street was indeed the one we were standing on as EW and I had been down this road before and knew it was a dead end.

IDS start of fuel trek 6-8-2011 8-07-45 AMWell, not exactly a dead end; one must simply leave the street and set out up hill to the trail. The photo at left is looking back from the easy, grassy trail to the dead end, and two of the ubiquitous scooters. At the top of the first hill, there are trail signs indicating that the path to the left goes to Morel Marine and the path to the right goes up hill to Fort Josephine. Neither of these paths are easy walks on grass and be began to understand what the town worker had been trying to say. IDS Trek Route 6-8-2011 8-10-32 AMWe took the lower path on the left, up hill, over volcanic rock, and through brush. It was not a comfortable path and all we could think about was traversing it with two full 5 gallon containers of gasoline. We knew that we’d never be able to negotiate this trail with the cart and were in fact carrying everything at this point, I had the cart and each captain was carrying his boat’s gas jug. Still, we persevered for a short while until reason took over. We were not wearing the proper footwear for this hike, and carrying thirty pounds of fuel back along this trail would not be fun. We returned to our boats. At right is a view from the beginning of the Morel Bay Trail. You can see the buildings we were trying to reach and the mountains we had to skirt or trek in order to get gas.

ids trail to morel bay 6-8-2011 8-14-35 AMThe next morning, I went to my source in Les Saintes, Ali, the produce man in the park. He speaks some English and delights in teaching me French. “Fu-el?” said Ali. “Ah! For ze scooters!” We take bateau to Marigot Bay. You know Marigot Bay? You have bateau?” I assured him that I did, indeed, have a bateau and asked him again about walking. “No,” he said. “You take bateau.”  By this time, the seas weren’t quite as choppy, so EW and I set off at 1:30 for Morel Marine Services in Marigot bay. It was a lovely dinghy ride, and we arrived to find a well maintained ramp and break wall, fuel pumps, and buildings in various states of dis-repair. In one, EW found a work crew building a fiberglass boat, while I checked the property. There is no road to Morel Marine, but there is a path that enters the yard from the direction we had taken the day before. While I explored and took photos of boatyard goats, EW found out that the fuel depot was closed until 3:00, so we waited. IDS Gas Station 6-7-2011 2-02-06 PM

Shortly before three, a fisherman arrived to queue up for fuel, followed by another fisherman, and finally by a man in a small boat who opened up shop for the afternoon. He chatted with the fishermen, and they untied their boats and prepared to leave, one saying to me, “Fuel for you, no fuel for me.” Evidently the fisherman must purchase fuel that is charged a different tax and they were out of that gasoline and diesel, but they had gasoline for tourists and scooters. As we finished filling our three containers, a young man arrived with a small fuel jug. He filled it, paid and left on foot, back along that trail, and five other people emerged from the woods and walked along the utility lines, picking their way down to shore. All were locals, and all carried small containers for gasoline.

Scooters get about 80 miles to the gallon of gas, and there aren’t a lot of roads on this island, so perhaps they can go a long time between fill-ups. When they do need gas, they can take the ferry to the mainland, take a private bateau to Marigot Bay, or trek over hill and dale and rocks to the pumps. Chris Doyle was right, it is a long and lovely walk and the last portion is through the trees, but he did not mention the rough terrain. The town worker was right. We did not want to carry 30 pounds of fuel over that trail and our cart would never have made it. Ali was right. “You have a bateau? You take the bateau.”


Dinghy Security, Fake Keys, and Real Keys

It was an “accident” waiting to happen. An opportunity for farce. An inevitable event. Of course it happened to me – or, more accurately – I was the instigator/victim/person in distress.

As do most cruisers, we lock our dinghy to the dock when we go ashore. Theft happens anywhere, and EW andChain in rusty dinghy II 6-2-2011 11-39-09 AM 6-2-2011 11-39-09 AM I (particularly EW) prefer to be safe rather than sorry. We have a length of chain that we loop through the towing eye on the dinghy and attach to the dock (or to La Luna in the night) with a padlock. I hate this chain because EW didn’t purchase stainless links and  it’s rusting. (If you know how I can remove rust from his T-shirts and shorts, please let me know. It must be a product I can find in the EC. Thank you.)  Other people have plastic coated cable for this purpose but someone told EW it was easy to cut so he got chain. Did I mention that the chain is not galvanized or stainless? It rusts, you know.

Boat Cable keys 5-31-2011 6-12-35 AMWe also remove the dinghy motor “key” from the motor. “Key” is in quotes because it isn’t really a key, it’s a safety cord, designed to clip it to your person when you’re driving the dinghy. That way if you fall out, the dinghy will stop rather than run over you. We fasten it to our person when we have a long dinghy run or when we’re in rough water, such as Georgetown in the Bahamas.

In Maine, we left the “key” clip on the motor at all times, so of course I still forget to use it and have often grown frustrated  when the wonderful “one-pull” Tohatsu doesn’t start. Strange men on the dock stop to help and say, “Shouldn’t you have a key?” At which point I throw up my hands, swear (hopefully silently and without my lips moving – which does not make me feel better) pull out the “key” from my pocket/officiant bag/under the groceries and P6020003start the motor with one pull. This has happened more than once -- a lot more than once, all the way down the coast. My favorite dock helper was in Georgetown who said, “I don’t know why we all insist on removing these things. They are universal. If someone wants to take your dinghy all they have to do is bring a $5.00 key and start your dinghy.”

Exactly. I tried to tell EW that but we still remove the motor  “key”.  When the wise person hops into the dinghy he or she has the red safety “key” and the floating key ring with two padlock keys on it – one for the chain and one for the motor lock – a device that prevents theft of the motor only. We only need that key when we place or remove the motor from the dinghy.

Padlock Keys 5-31-2011 6-12-54 AMBack to the Deshaies experience.  EW was repairing the pump on the head – a project that is not known for putting him in a good mood. I wanted to go ashore to grab some produce and yogurt and dump the garbage before we hauled anchor. EW had been in the dinghy that morning, cleaning the waterline so the motor “key” was attached to the motor and the chain was detached from La Luna. The padlock was in the dinghy.  I loaded the garbage, recyclables, and my bag into the boat, started her up with one pull and headed to the dinghy dock. I tied the boat, unloaded the garbage and my bag, got out the rusty chain and locked the boat and at the moment I heard the lock click, I realized that the key ring was not in the dinghy and knew immediately that they were in EW’s pocket. Aboard La Luna. In the anchorage.

Great.

It’s eighty degrees here in the morning so I had to resolve this issue before purchasing milk and yogurt. First of all, there were two other dinghies on the dock. must be some sailors here some place.. I walked the length of town and asked a few likely people if they were off a boat. None were “au bateau”.  Remember,everyone here and most of the boaters are French and I don’t speak French. One salty gentleman only understood the word “Boat” and pointed in the direction of dinghy dock/fishing dock where the bateaus are. He said “bateau” and waved his hand in the right direction. He was very helpful but didn’t know what I really needed.

So I walked past the dinghy dock to the public dock where dive boats, fishing boats, and locally owned pleasure boats are moored and chose a fishing boat with relatively young captain and crew. “Pardon” (with my fake French accent) “Monsieur. Do you speak English?” “Oui, petite,” he said. (It’s never a good sign when they say “yes” to that question by answering in French.

“I am stupid,” I said. From his look of alarm he did understand that word and knew I wasn’t Madame Stupid. “I have dinghy?” and pointed in the direction of the dinghy dock. “Oui,” he said. “I know dinghy.” Good. Picture elaborate hand signs as I said, “I lock dinghy to dock and found I do not have the key. It is on my bateau.” As I waved my arms out toward the anchorage. “Ah!” he said. “You need get to your boat!” and gestured me aboard. “Oh merci!” I said.

He had been preparing for a day of fishing and was selling some bait fish to the fisherman in the next slip. So first he reached into his iced fish box and brought up eight or ten small fish, handing them over to his neighbor. When one dropped near my feet I nonchalantly picked it up as they had and passed it over to the other fisherman. “Merci,” they both said.

Then he fired up his motor, backed out of the slip, made a quick cell call and headed out to the anchorage. I pointed out our boat and he gestured and nodded and headed for her. As we got near, I cupped my hands and yelled, “Ahoy, La Luna!” We heard nothing, so I repeated the call and we both heard EW reply in a tone that indicated he was up to his elbows in something. My rescuer laughed and EW came up on deck to find me in a bright yellow wooden fishing boat.

P5300007“Do you have the key to the padlock?” Eye roll.  Of course he did, but this is not his fault, asI was responsible for taking it with me. The fishing captain maneuvered the boat close to La Luna for the hand-off and took me back to his dock. I “Mercied” him all over the place and went on my way. EW is still rolling his eyes. Life is interesting. And yes, that’s our only key to the padlock. I lost the other one overboard in the Bahamas. But we have an extra red cable “key”, because you can purchase them for $5 to $10 dollars in any marine store and they are universal. Yeah, that’s secure.

 

POSTSCRIPT:  I mentioned to EW that I was writing this post and said, when we get to a marine store, we’re getting stainless chain or cable for the dinghy. “I’m done with this rust!”  “Oh,” he said. “We still have that cable we were going to use. It’s in the aft locker.”

We’re using the stainless cable. I’m still trying to clean the dinghy. I think the clothes are hopeless.


Name that Fish!

Snorkeling at Isles Des Saintes Cliff 6-3-2011 1-04-05 PM

EW and I went snorkeling at Pane De Sucre off Isles des Saintes today. We anchored the dinghy in the cove around to the right of this cliff and snorkeled back under the cliff. Huge boulders littered the bottom and were decorated with many types of coral.

We saw Parrotfish and angel fish and needle fish and coral that looked like lace and vases and antlers. It was a wonderful afternoon. At the end, I wanted to get a bit of exercise so I swam with vigor across the bay to the dinghy, still wearing the mask and snorkel and gazing at the bottom.

A pair of fish stopped me cold. I popped up and called for EW. "Come here!" I said as I waved my fingers to emphasize the message. He swam over and pointed to the fish who were feeding on the bottom in grass.

We watched them for about 15 minutes. They would close their fins and narrow their bodies, then spread their pectorals and awe us. Back at the boat, it took me an hour to find out what they were, a type of Searobin Fish. Here's one from underneath. We didn't see this view of the searobin

Evidently one can eat them. If one can catch them. If one does, he'll have to clean it. 

 

 


Where Will You Spend Hurricane Season?

P8060048

At the SSCA Gam in August, we asked cruisers about where they spent hurricane season.

This is a dinghy cocktail hour, by the way. Yep. It’s just what it sounds like.

But I digress…

 

Where will you spend hurricane season? This is the question of the moment. Our friends and family ask when we talk or email, other cruisers ask us when we meet and we ask them. If we find out they’ve done this cruising the Caribbean thing for a while, we ask where they’ve gone during past years and pick their brains as much as possible.

While we were waiting for weather in Hampton last November (that’s one of our most used phrases – waiting for weather in Hampton) I talked with a couple who were on their way from New Hampshire to the Bahamas for the fifth time.

“Really?” I said. “You go back and forth every year?” 

“Oh yes,” she said, as if that were normal.

Frankly, I thought they were insane. But, they are normal and I just didn’t know it. I didn’t know a lot of things then – still don’t but I’m learning. Shortly after that conversation in Hampton (I think it was probably after the storm at Cape Fear), I informed EW that I had no interest in taking the boat back and forth. “This is a delivery and I’m not having that much fun. Cruising is supposed to be fun. I have no desire to deliver La Luna two times a year.”

We are in the minority and now I understand that those folks who go back and forth every year aren’t insane, or at least not any more than we are. They just have different expectations than we do, and they may be on to something. If you go back and forth every year you get to see friends and family more, you have a chance to get boat work done at home, some people find a way to balance work with semi-retirement that way and others get to spend a lot of time with their grandkids. Other people – again, a surprising number to me – leave their boat down here and fly back home to Maine or Colorado, or England. That works for them, and they get to start next season in warm waters. The majority of cruisers come down for the winter and head back home’ aboard their boat or aboard a plane, for hurricane season.

Until recently, when asked,  “Where will you spend hurricane season?” we’d answer,  “We’re working on that, what do you suggest?” And we’d get advice, lots and lots of advice. As a result we’ve looked at many options such as: Buenos Aries, Venezuela, Cartagena, Grenada, Trinidad, and Luperon; and we heard about even more including the Med, San Blas Islands, and Puerto Rico.

One of the limiting factors is our boating insurance. Most US companies won’t let folks stay in Grenada anymore, since they had two hurricanes in two years. Canadian and European sailors have no problems going to Grenada, and EW and I recently found out that we could have been insured there as well if we’d understood the system. Our insurance company will allow a certain number of boats to stay “within” the hurricane zone for a relatively small rider. The catch is, you have to secure that rider before they hit their quota of boats. We did not realize that was an option in Grenada until they had filled the quota. We also now understand two things about hurricanes: 1. There is no hurricane free zone from Maine to Venezuela.  and 2. There is no such thing as a “hurricane hole”. We are responsible for watching the weather and for making sure out boat and persons are safe.

At various points during the past eight months here are the locations we considered for “Hurricane Season”:

Buenos Aries: This is on EW’s bucket list and in the excitement of leaving it looked doable. We even got shots and medical information based on heading that far south. As we began to meet other cruisers and as I began to understand the difficulties of going against the prevailing winds and currents, heading to Buenos Aries from here became more and more unappealing. We’ll get there, but not from the Caribbean.

Venezuela: We first began to discuss Venezuela in Nassau, when we met a couple who had been sailing for over 20 years.  They had spent the first five years enjoying the Caribbean by spending the summer in Venezuela and sailing the islands from November through June. We loved what they had to say and began to talk with others who had spent time there. We got a lot of information in Georgetown when we met a couple from the Netherlands who had swallowed the hook and started a business in a bay in Venezuela. They made it sound enticing and discussed the services they provide for cruisers. Then they mentioned that they were heading back to Europe for the summer and wouldn’t be there. Seems the political situation has greatly hurt their business so they go back to the Netherlands to earn money. Shortly after that we met other cruisers who were heading North after 10 years in the Caribbean. They spent time in Venezuela during the first few year but no longer find it safe. The phrase that stuck in my mind was: “There is no rule of law there. Chavez thinks that since cruisers have more money than his people, they are therefore fair targets.” OK. We’ll take a pass on Venezuela.

Luperon: This is a “sticky” harbor. Boaters either love it or hate it and if they love it many of them never leave. We met wonderful folks there, and the geography does provide a certain amount of protection from hurricanes, but if you stay there for the season, there is no place to sail. It’s a safe harbor and you can certainly leave the boat to tour the DR, and escape to the mountains during the heat, but this is not what we envisioned when we left Maine.

Cartagena: Another port on EW’s bucket list. We focused on Cartagena for many weeks, to the point that friends were planning to visit us there. It is actually out of the hurricane zone as much as any place can be at these latitudes. There are interesting islands nearby for our sailing pleasure, and an historic old city to explore. The rest of Columbia is off limits due to crime, but Cartagena is relatively safe and they are building a good reputation for cruisers. The problem is that it would take eight to ten days to sail there and we’d want to go directly to avoid the coast of Venezuela. We could sail directly to New England in almost the same amount of time. Getting to and from Cartagena is another delivery, particularly as we still have a lot to see in the Eastern Caribbean. Cartagena is high on the list, but not this year.

Trinidad: For US Insurance companies, Trinidad is the new Grenada. They haven’t had a hurricane in recent history, so we don’t need a rider to go there. We talked with a lot of people about Trinidad. As near as we can tell, we’d have to get a mooring (if one were still available) or dock space. The harbor is very deep and not good holding for anchoring. It is also a muddy harbor, not attractive at all. We could sail to other islands from there, and we’d be insured. One of our Maine friends put us in touch with other Mainers who “Love Trinidad”, and EW exchanged a couple of emails with them. It turned out that these folks haul the boat there and head back to Maine. They’ve sailed around Trinidad and love it for a visit but would not spend the season in the water there. Enough said.

And that brings us to, drum roll, please …. Grenada.

Yep, we’ll spend hurricane season in Grenada. Our insurance will cover us for anything except damaged due to a named storm and we will watch the weather daily and sail south if a named storm looks like it may approach. I have declared that I’m OK with sailing south in times of question, no questions asked and will not complain if we take off for one or more storms that end up not touching Grenada. It would only take 12 hours to sail to Trinidad, or we may just head out to sea away from the storm. We’re playing the averages a bit here as until Hurricane Ivan and Tropical Storm Earl in 2004, followed by Emily in 2005, Grenada hadn’t suffered a major hurricane since Janet in 1955.  In doing so we understand that Global Warming and other factors have impacted hurricane season and we cannot be assured that no storms will touch Grenada.  In any of the above locations we would have to watch the weather and be prepared to move the boat. The only difference is that our insurance would cover us for a loss. We don’t want to have a loss of that nature as no amount of insurance (and this is a good policy) would replace our beloved La Luna.

On the plus side, Grenada is a great country for cruisers, in good weather we can sail to other parts of the island or to the Tobago Cays and Carriacou which sound beautiful. While this is considered the “off season” in terms of cruisers and tourists, the locals have many events, including regattas during July and August, so there will be much to do. We’re going to volunteer at a local reading program that is sponsored by Hands Across the Sea, work on the boat, write, and (hopefully) host at least a couple of dear friends. There are waterfalls, marine supply stores, and excellent wifi at anchor. Traditionally, this has been “the” cruisers’ harbor for hurricane season. It will be our harbor this year, and we are happy with the decision.


Our First Caribbean Waterfall–Sort of

EW Treking

Since visiting Luperon, we’ve heard of inland waterfalls throughout the Caribbean and have been anxious to have the time/weather/opportunity to visit one. Nearly all of the “Islands of Mountains and Mangroves” as Chris Doyle has labeled this group in his Cruising Guide to the Leeward Islands, and most of  the Windward Islands have glorious water falls in a luscious rain forest setting. We plan to visit quite a few during the next several months. Our first was encountered on an afternoon hike in Deshaies.

Chris Doyle: “ Anyone ready for a cool, shady scramble should follow the Deshaies River as it winds its way into the mountains. A concrete road leads back a short way and after that you follow the river from rock to rock passing many a pretty pool. Continue for one to two hours and you come to another road that joins the river on the left hand side and which will bring you back down to town in about 15 minutes. However, don’t return yet. Carry on up the river for another 20 minutes and you arrive as far as you can go without a detour. Your path is stopped as the river comes out of a giant cave-like gully, with a waterfall at the back of it.”

After a morning doing chores and getting on-line, we packed a lunch and our shampoo, donned our swimsuitsInviting Pool 1 5-27-2011 11-55-10 AM and headed up the river. It was a hot, sunny day and the cool river walk sounded wonderful. EW is a natural hiker and steps or leaps nimbly from rock to rock. I’ve always loved climbing around on rocks but am a bit more cautious about stepping or leaping from one small rock to a smaller one mid-stream. I mostly followed his lead, but would sometimes clamber over the larger boulders close to shore rather than make leaps across the chasms. Along the way we passed a number of beautiful and inviting pools, which are shown at the right, in order of their appearance.

Moving UpWe never did find where the road meets the river and believe now we didn’t go high enough though we scrambled up river for over ninety minutes. We’ve found that we walk pretty fast and most of the “walk x to y minutes” directions in the cruising guides are conservative in the length of time it takes. Evidently Chris Doyle walks faster than we do. It was nearing 1:30 when we decided that “this must be it”, though frankly we’d forgotten Chris’ description of the “giant cave-like gully” and now know we didn’t travel far enough. We did find a wonderfully inviting deep pool beneath a small waterfall, perfect for rinsing our hair. with a flat rock  above the falls that would be perfect for our picnic. Then it began to rain a bit. EW loathes eating soggy bread and did not want me to unpack lunch in the rain, soInviting Pool 2 5-27-2011 12-12-29 PM we decided to get in the pool. We washed our hair, floated, had a splashing fight, and the rain continued, and increased. EW looked at me and deadpanned, “This is torrential.” It actually was painful to float on our backs and have the rain smash into our faces.

Flora On the RiverAfter an hour of this, it was apparent that the rain would continue for a while and we had to get back down a now very slippery slope. We’d heard cars near the river at one point on the way up, and I had “marked” the location in my mind in case we wanted to head for the road at that point. EW began to blaze a trail through the trees in an attempt to keep us from slipping on wet river rocks. Unfortunately, loosened by the rain, a rock slipped out from under him and dislodged a boulder which bounced off of EW’s right foot on the way to splashing in the river. it didn’t break the skin, but it was painful. Now I was determined toInviting Pool 3 5-27-2011 12-23-31 PM find the road, so we crossed the river by wading through the stream (I led the way to note safe points for the limping EW) and I headed up away from the river to an open field we could see in the sunshine. Yes, the rain had stopped about fifteen minutes after we left the pool.

Up in the meadow, I saw a more open area to the west and determined it was a farm. A farm must be near a road, so I called to EW to make his way up the hill. We crossed the first field and came to a barbed wire fence, and walked along side it until EW found a loose strand. He held it for me, passed me the bags and I held it for him and we were clearly in a field for cattle. Clearly. You figure it out. Looking around for the obligatory bull, we scrambled up the hilly pasture to the road and discovered that if we had just continued along the fence we’d be on the road by now. Instead we had to find a way to exit theInviting Pool 4 5-27-2011 12-27-53 PM pasture without harming the fence -- before the bull found us. That done, we trekked (well I trekked, EW limped) back down to Deshaies, past a convent or monastery with outdoor stations of the cross. There aren’t any good photos post rain Mere Du Salut PPNstorm as my camera got wet and needed to dry out. It’s waterproof to 10 feet, but got a bit steamy as you can see by this photo of a roadside shrine.

There were cattle in the field, including one steer, but they were tethered on the western end.

EW rested with ice for a couple of days and is just fine. We both were delighted with our scramble up the river and intend to do more and see larger waterfalls. We want to get this right and practice makes perfect.