Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Dominica Nica Nica

Purple Turtle Beach near Portsmouth
Dominica is the first place where we encountered "boat boys." In the Caribbean, the term refers to the local men that come out to your boat and offer various services or items for sale. It's not considered a derogatory term, I'm told. In some places they can be somewhat tenacious, as in they won't go away if you don't give them something.

Still carrying the baggage of my American sensibilities, I was not really looking forward to dealing with this unaccustomed invasion of my personal space (so to speak). On a side note, Mark has a habit of getting inches away from people when he's talking to them. Usually, strangers seem to think it's funny, but he's only six. We're working on this with him because it won't be too cute anymore when he's nine.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Guadeloupe

An impressive mural on the side of a truck in Deshais.
Guadeloupe is another French island, which means more great bread and chocolate croissants. Deshaies was our first stop and most people do not speak English. We got to practice our French and the locals got to try to figure out what we were talking about.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

When a volcano destroys your Capital, keep calm and carry on

Soufrière Hills volcano.
Carry on...and perhaps do a bit of evacuating. Actually, since the volcano went from dormant to active in 1995, the population of Montserrat went from over 10,000 to around 4,000. The initial eruption and subsequent pyroclastic flows destroyed the capital city, many other settlements, and the main airport. Two-thirds of the island is now uninhabitable and off limits to the general public. But that being the case, the island keeps on going and the volcano doesn't seem to intrude on the locals daily thoughts too much.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Nevis (St. Kitts and Nevis)


Pinneys Beach in Nevis is one of those seemingly endless, sandy beaches that you see in movies. We were there on a Sunday and there were lots of locals having a rollicking time in the water. With all the time we spend on and near the water, it's surprising how infrequently we have seen adults in the ocean. Everyone we have met here is very friendly and justifiably proud of the island. And they seem to know how to have a good time.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

We live in a PBS nature show

Swallows coming home to roost--in our boom.
Granted, it's not one of the thrilling ones like jumping great white sharks. It's more the kind of nature documentary you'd watch when you're looking for something to help you nod off. But when you live on the water, you can't help but notice the animals all around you. On the overnight passage from BVI to St. Martin, one flying fish jumped on top of our cabin and another one flew up about 18 feet, hit our mainsail, and landed on Matt's head.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

St. Barts to St. Kitts

Cero mackerel that Conrad finally agreed to hold.
We had a nice fast sail from St. Barts to St. Kitts. The 60 degree apparent wind angle made things much more comfortable than the 30 degree wind angle the day before, even though the seas were just as big.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

St. Barts is kind of good but can we go now?

Why did the chicken cross the road? It was stuck to this car...
We decided to leave for St. Barts on the morning of Ascension Day, which is a holiday in these parts. Supposedly all the shops are closed, but everything we needed was open. Matt bought some coffee at McDonalds to use their Wi-Fi to check the wind and weather. Then he headed over to Customs to check out. Most importantly, he got some chocolate croissants and a baguette.

Friday, June 6, 2014

St. Martin/Sint Maarten


St. Martin/Sint Maarten is a relatively small island containing two countries. St. Martin is the French side and Sint Maarten is the Dutch side. We had exhaustively researched our options and decided to go through the Dutch bridge to get into the main lagoon where all the action is. Once there, we would anchor on the French side of the lagoon. The Dutch bridge is friendlier to boats of our girth (it's a lot wider and deeper) but we had heard that their fees are much higher. It was all very complicated, even before trying to time the infrequent bridge opening schedule.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

BVI to St. Martin/Sint Maarten

Relaxing at The Bitter End Yacht Club before our journey to St. Martin.
The BVI was our first boat experience with checking out of a country when leaving. Basically you need to get permission to leave the country--and if you show up in the new country without permission  to have left the old country...well, it's probably not like being thrown in a Turkish prison for smuggling hashish, but it's not good either. The U.S. (including Puerto Rico and USVI) and the Bahamas don't require clearing out, but most other places do, so we'll have to get used to it.

We tried to check out Saturday to leave Sunday afternoon but couldn't because once you check out, you have to leave within 12 hours. So we dutifully returned the next morning. In addition to paying an extra $5 for overtime, we discovered that the Customs officer had called in sick. The Immigration officer did his thing but wasn't supposed to use the Customs stamp. Not having the stamp on our document would have left us less than legal. Fortunately, he took pity on us and accidently 'dropped' the Customs stamp on our document, probably a serious infraction.