Posted by: bearcruzer | November 30, 2010

Back to Portsmouth, Dominique

Nov 10th

We spent the day sailing up to Portsmouth Dominique and were met as usual by a boat boy looking to drum up some business.  The cruising season is just getting started again and so many are hungry for work.   He was disappointed when we told him we only deal with ALEXIS when anchored in Portsmouth.   His look of disappointment was obvious on his face as he pulled slowly away from our boat.   We anchored off of the Purple Turtle where we had access to WiFi last time only to find that they now have their site secured and we will have to pay for internet if we want it.   Alexis came by the boat with his nephew and protégé Donell who gave us a big smile when we addressed him by name.    We explained to him that we would only be staying overnight and would not be needing any supplies or tours this time around.  We had enjoyed his tour of the Indian River when we were here last June.  To anyone spending time in Portsmouth ,  we highly recommend his services if you are in need information or a knowledgeable guide to show you around Dominique.  He is licensed and certified and very professional.    We enjoyed a quiet evening and awoke to find our friends Ken and Katy from s/v Diana anchored near us.  They had caught up with us and had arrived around midnight.   They too are headed back north to their home port of St. John USVI.

Posted by: bearcruzer | November 30, 2010

Time to move!

Nov 9th – 10th

As happens more and more frequently,  Mike decided, today was the day and now was the time, to get on the move north.   We said a quick farewell to our friends on s/v DaniellStorey and s/v Diana who do not find our impromptu decisions unusual in the least.   We checked out and left La Marin within a couple hours and traveled up the leeward coast of Martinique to the little town of St. Pierre.   It used to be called the Little Paris of the Caribbean but was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1902.  The only survivors out of 29,935 people were a man who happened to be in his cellar and a prisoner who was in a windowless jail cell.   Much of the town is built upon the ruins of the old city.    We arrived just before sunset and anchored just south of the main dock.   The swell was rather large but was supposed to be subsiding over the next few hours.   We had just enough time to drop Mighty Mouse and take a quick jaunt into town for some great sunset photos from the boardwalk.    With the swells it took a bit of maneuvering and some timing to climb from the dingy onto the dock but we managed alright.   We walked a bit enjoying the ambiance of this quaint little laid back town.   We had a somewhat rolly night sleeping but by morning the swells had begun to subside and we were awakened early by the ringing of the church bells and the bustle of the residents of St. Pierre who are up and busy early in the morning.

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Posted by: bearcruzer | November 30, 2010

Happy Birthday Ken

Nov  8th

Happy Birthday Ken of s/v Diana.  We enjoyed celebrating his B-day aboard DD.   It was a fun evening and I think he liked the gift of the lure that we tied on top as much as the rum itself.

Posted by: bearcruzer | November 30, 2010

A Change in Plans

While staying in Martinique, we received an e-mail from Mike’s friend and ex-boss  Chris Angel on St. John.  He offered us a housesitting job and asked Mike if he was interested in working for a bit as an electrician again.    Chris was diagnosed with Cancer last summer shortly after he and Mike had raced in Foxy’s wooden boat regatta.   We had made the offer to them at that time to help them if they needed anything.     They had the situation covered but with the decision to remain in the United States to complete his chemotherapy he and Elsa thought they may be able to use our help after all.   It will help us out as well.   Not working for the last year and ½ along with numerous boat repairs, etc. has depleted the cruising kitty to an alarmingly low number.    Working through the winter on St. John should help us replenish the account a little and allow us to continue with this lifestyle for a bit longer.    Chris and Elsa plan on returning to St. John at the end of March or Early April at which time we plan on resuming our adventures.    So it’s back to the working world.    Yuck! The W word.   Not sure what I will do for work but it will be interesting living on land again.   Ken and Katy on s/v Diana who are from St. John and who have become good friends, offered us an extra mooring in Great Cruz Bay to keep DD on, so she will have a place to stay as well.      So north we go.    Home to St. John, at least for a little while.

Posted by: bearcruzer | November 30, 2010

Martinique Magnifique!

  Click above for Music.

Nov 4 – 8th

We reached La Marin, Martinique along with our friends on s/v DaniellStorey,  s/v Songbird, and s/v Diana.   We found that our wind indicator had been damaged by Hurricane Tomas and so we spent the next few days hauling Mike up and down the mast while he and Ken attempted to repair and reinstall it.    We have direction now but still no windspeed reading.   We also took this opportunity to reprovision our wine celler with French wines and stock up on the many of the wonderful cheeses and other delicacies we can only find in the French Islands.  On Sunday morning Michelle and I headed out for a walk.   We found ourselves meandering down a couple of side streets and through a quaint neighborhood.  We continued on over a hill into a beautiful little green valley with a small stream running through it.    We could see from a distance a road lined with royal palms and decided to head in that direction.   Michellle then spotted what she thought might be a Sandbox tree up on a hill across a pasture.   The Sandbox Tree has a seed that is naturally shaped like a dolphin and Michelle uses these in her jewelry making.    She asked me if I was adventurous and if I wanted to cross the pasture to check it out.   Me Adventurous!?      We hopped the fence hoping that there was not a large bull lurking somewhere out of site and proceeded to make our way across the field.  We had to ford part of the stream that ran through the valley but finally climbed the hill to the Tree.   It was indeed a Sandbox Tree but it did not have any seed pods on or around it.  Perhaps it only fruits at certain times of the year.   Michelle and I made our way back across field and stream and over the fence with only wet feet  and smiles to show for our efforts.    We walked back to town and along the beach where the local yacht club was having a get together.  They had food, and music playing.  Kids and Adults were taking turns sailing in the local boats around the harbor.    Everyone seemed to be having a great time.    We stopped off at the local crafts market and admired some of the work of a local Calabash artist and jewelry maker.  He and Michelle conversed in French.  Michelle is becoming more fluent every day.    I am very envious and have asked Mike for a French Phrase book so I can learn some before we return to these Islands.    It can be frustrating at times not knowing the words for common things and trying to figure out what we are buying in the grocery store is, much of the time, by trial and error.  Thanks to those of you who responded to my facebook request for useful French phrases.   Some of which might even come in handy.   Mike keeps asking me what things are when we are shopping, and I can only reply, “Your guess is as good as mine”.

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Posted by: bearcruzer | November 15, 2010

Fishing Fiasco

Nov 4

A Sportfishing tournament hosted by the Rodney Bay Marina that had to be postponed during the hurricane did take place within a couple of days after the storm.   Mike got a few shots of the start of the tournament when the mass of boats took off from the bay in a cloud of diesel smoke and large wakes.  We would dred the mornings and afternoons when the teams of boats would leave or return to the marina as the large wakes would cause DD to rock violently at anchor.   We did enjoy listening to the radio transmissions from the Sports fishermen when they hooked up or landed a big fish.   When we left St. Lucia headed for Martinique we rigged our fishing lines and dropped them into the water.   The weather was a bit unpredictable and just as a big squall hit so did a fish on our line.   I yelled” fish on” and took the helm while Mike began reeling in the fish.       I can’t say we are as accomplished as those sports fisherman.    We proceeded through a comedy of errors to bring in our catch.   As the rain and wind pelted Mike he yelled “It feels big,  better get the gaff.”   I locked the wheel in place and went below to get the Gaff and when I returned to the cockpit DD was heading in a different direction.   I brought her back on course when the fish broke the surface and Mike yelled again “It’s got a Spike!”   Marlin, Swordfish, Sailfish?   In our excitement, we had completely forgotten the other line in the water and the fish proceeded to swim over it.   Now we had two lines to contend with.   Again I locked in the wheel and went to hold the fishing rod while Mike precariously climbed up the Davits and brought the other pole and line to the same side of the boat to untangle it from the first.    Again DD wandered off course in yet another direction.   This was repeated twice more when Michael said,  “I’m going to need my pliers”  and then “get me some gloves”.    I, of course, had to grab the camera to document this auspicious event.     Meanwhile back at the helm, DD continued behaving like a beagle off leash and at one point was even heading back in the opposite direction.  Our friends watching from their boats thought we must really be fighting something big to be making all these obscure maneuvers.    Mike finally brought the little Sailfish to the back of the boat and with gloves on and pliers in hand, released it.   It was tired but swam gratefully away.   This was the perfect example of a learning experience at its best.   Lesson 1) After locking in the wheel in place,  PRESS THE BUTTON to activate the Autohelm,  Duh!…..the boat will remain on course.    Lesson 2)  When one line has a fish on,  reel in the other so it doesn’t interfere with the first thus avoiding the need to perform death defying acrobatics in less than stellar conditions while your partner is frantically praying.      Lesson 3) Have everything needed to bring in a big fish or to release it, in the cockpit and at the ready so as not to have to rummage below, causing sudden bouts of stress induced Turrets’ Syndrome.     Or maybe just Don’t Fish when it is stormy out………Naaaaaaw!  Not an option!

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Posted by: bearcruzer | November 15, 2010

A story worth retelling!

November 2 – 4

With the seas calming down, we opted to move DD off the docks at Rodney Bay Marina.  Although power was available to some yachts we were never able to get it working at our dock.   The entire Island is without running water except for what is caught or stored in individual cisterns.   The local radio station broadcasts a continuous series of how to gather and sanitize water to drink as well as requests for assistance and where to drop off food, clothes, bottled water, etc. for those less fortunate.  We took a walk with Ken and Katy of s/v Diana around the town.   Rodney Bay is better off than much of the Island, as power has been restored to many of the homes and business.   It is interesting seeing how many have had to adjust their business practices to continue to function without running water.    We did find one working restroom in the new mall but most public restrooms are closed.     We walked up around the point on what appeared to be a well maintained trail.  It turned out it is maintained for use by people who want to rent Segue’s for a low impact Island Adventure.   We got same experience for a lot less money and got some exercise to boot!   As we made our way along the path I was saddened to see a small dead hummingbird on the trail, the smallest victim of Tomas.    We continued on and came across a couple of men working to clear a small mudslide that had blocked part of the trail.   We talked to them for a few minutes, inquiring after their families and they were happy to tell us they were all well and making do without fresh water.    When we asked where the trail led?  They said up to the rock face fishpond.   When we asked what was beyond that.   We were told we shouldn’t go further as “there be Jumbies up their Mon and it not be Safe”.     After our hike, we stopped at a beach bar on our way back to our boats where we ran into a group of Americans who we learned had been constructing a series of zip lines for a tour company in the forest outside the town of Soufriere.     With massive mudslides and loss of life, Soufriere was the hardest hit town in St. Lucia.   This bunch were an interesting group of rugged mountain men,  many of which were heavily tattooed with menacing artwork.  They regaled us with their story of their time here on St. Lucia.    They told us of awakening one morning to find they had been robbed.  They reported the robbery to the local authorities and then decided that they would use their tracking skills to see if they might locate the thief themselves and retrieve some of their belongings.     The trail led from their bungalow into the forest, where the men discovered an intricate well hidden system of trails, water catchment systems and hideouts.   They knew they were on the right trail when they came across some of their own paperwork from a stolen briefcase.    When the thief saw this mud covered undaunted group of strangers coming toward him he took off running and the chase began.    They tracked and chased this elusive Island bushman through the forest for 5 days and nights, at times having to double back to pick up his trail.    This accomplished thief, who previously had always been able to slip into the forest to elude the authorities must have been astounded and outraged to find himself having to play cat and mouse in what had been his safe haven for so long.   Finally this crew of maverick foreigners succeeded in flushing the thief from the bush and into the hands of the local authorities.   However, the thief and his family’s subculture of witchcraft and jumbies, was well know within the dark undercurrent of this local town.    His gang, were none too happy when they heard of the details of his arrest and the part played by this group of outsiders.   The Americans comfort level with remaining in Soufriere deteriorated further with the subsequent suicide, by hanging, of this same thief while incarcerated.   They suddenly had the unwanted attention of this seedy group.   They even resorted to keeping 2 men on night watch during the remainder of their stay.   Then, to add insult to injury, Tomas hit.   Soufriere was completely cut off by road from the rest of the Island.   Because of the work they had been doing, they had at their disposal chainsaws and began clearing the roads of debris after the storm.  They were met with smiles and thumbs up from many of the residents of the town and scowls and death threats from the gang of hoodlums.   Needless to say, with everything they had been through, they were very relieved to finally catch a boat away from Soufriere and were celebrating with a few beers.   With the main airport closed, they did not know how soon they would be able to book tickets back to the States and spoke of stowing away aboard ship.   What a story!    As we stood together enjoying the sunset and with a gleam in their now glassy eyes, they asked “So which boat is yours?”

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Posted by: bearcruzer | November 3, 2010

Hurricane Tomas

Oct 29-Nov 1, 2010

We compared notes again in the morning and found that we had all gotten up in the middle of the night for the 2:00am weather update from NOAA.  The disturbance was now upgraded and named, Tropical Storm Tomas.  It also had taken the more northerly of the tracks and was due to arrive with plenty of rain and winds gusts > 39mph within the next 24 hours.   We joined a small floatilla of boats all moving from outside of the bay into the protection of the Marina.  Misery loves company and we had plenty, company not misery.  We shared the G dock with s/v DaniellStorey, s/v Diana, s/v Good Medicine, s/v Beauty and the Beast, s/v LosLoper , s/v Songbird, among others.   We nestled DD into her slip and spent the rest of the day securing her to the dock with at least a dozen lines spiderwebbed in every direction and adjusted her ½ dozen fenders between her and the finger dock.   We put on her sail cover and then lashed ropes around it to keep it from billowing in the strong winds.  Wound her headsail tight with extra wraps of rope.   We stripped her of her bimini and dodger,  removed the blades from the Windgen,  lashed down the Solar Panels, brought in the chartplotter and the handheld cockpit VHF microphone, and stowed anything that wasn’t attached securely to the boat.  She looked naked but ready.   There was no shortage of advice on preparing the boats for impending weather and plenty of hands to help.   After securing our own boats the crews of G Dock then proceeded to secure unattended boats around us as a precautionary measure.  A family of 10 from Poland who had chartered a sailboat for a holiday, suddenly found themselves hiding from a Hurricane.  They decided to remain on the boat and were delighted to glean whatever information and assistance we could offer to help them prepare for the storm.     TS Thomas continued on a heading that would take it between the Islands of St. Lucia and St. Vincent.    It was predicted to become a hurricane after passing the Islands but changed its mind and decided to slow its forward progress and linger becoming a Category 1 hurricane just before it reached the Islands.  The eye was expected to pass just south of St. Lucia around 2:00pm on Oct 30th.      The winds began in earnest around 11:00am and we were without power and fresh water within the first hour.   Many of the cruisers, not being afraid of a little wind and weather, donned their foul weather coats and ventured out and around the docks during the light of day.  Mike and Dave were almost blown off of the dock by a couple of strong gusts.   I went out to snap a few pics around the Marina of the last minutes adjustments and preparations.    While leaning into the wind next to the dingy dock, I caught a small movement in the foliage next to me.  A wet but still industrious hummingbird was enjoying a last minute meal before the winds became too strong to maneuver.  He would release his hold on a twig, be blown back a few feet and battle his way back into the shrub, again grabbing hold and feeding on the red flowers that were within reach.   Boats continued to stream into the marina as the storm intensified.  We handled lines for a large Catamaran who took a couple of tries battling the wind before we were able to grab his lines and tie him off to the dock.   Around twilight we heard a loud tearing and pounding.  An unattended Catamaran a few slips away from us lost its headsail.  A couple of men climbed aboard and braved the winds to drop and stow what was left of it. There was very little fetch inside the marina but during a few of the bigger blows, waves could be seen breaking against the hulls of the boats on the outer docks.   As darkness fell the wind and rain became steadier.  The neighbors of G dock retreated into their boats to watch the storm from portholes, hatches and windows. The winds and rain continued to build during the night as the eye moved out into the Caribbean.  Being that St. Lucia was now situated on the Northwestern edge of the Hurricane she was hit with storm force winds and rain for a more extended period of time than St. Vincent to the south.   It is amazing how water with the help of wind can find its way into any small gap, crack, or crevice.   The rain and wind abated around 10:00am the next morning.  The Crews of G Dock emerged from their boats damp but intact.  We only saw a couple of unattended sailboats with damage to covers or sails however there were a few smaller powerboats that did not fare as well and had sunk during the storm, still tied to the dock.  During the entire storm we never lost internet service and so were able to keep in touch with family and friend back home.  We contacted our cruising friends that were further south to make sure they had weathered Tomas safely.   Domino, made a 1:30am dash back to Grenada from Bequia when they saw Tomas shift north, ah the advantages of a powercat.  Nauti – Nauti took a mooring on Canuoan and made it through.  Queen Emma reported Admiralty Bay in Bequia was a washing maching with a number of boats sunk and one demasted as well as others who had to motor around because of poor holding.   Hurricane Tomas generated winds in excess of 70mph on the Island of St. Lucia though I don’t think Rodney Bay saw much over 50mph.  It also dumped 8 inches of rain causing massive Mud and Landslides destroying homes, roads, and bridges.  There are 14 reported dead with another 7 missing. Soufriere near the Pitons is completely cut off from the rest of the island with all roads leading to it destroyed.     Power is being restored as quickly as possible.   Many areas are without clean drinking water and are cut off from getting supplies. Only 1 of 4 radio stations on the Island remained up and running during the ordeal and has provided a steady stream of information allowing persons to call in who are looking for contact with friends and family and answering questions about services and relief efforts.  Communications are slowly being reestablished, Digicel, the primary provider of Cell Phone communications has given all their prepaid customers $10.00 credit for them to be able to contact family and friends across the Island.   We spent the day after the storm putting DD back together and are now anchored back outside of Rodney Bay.   We are greatful that such a wonderful hurricane hole is here.  The graciousness of the people of St. Lucia will not be soon forgotten and we pray that those who have lost family find peace and that the lives that have been so disrupted by this storm may return to normal as quickly as possible.

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Posted by: bearcruzer | November 2, 2010

Running for Cover

Oct 27&28, 2010

We arrived in Bequia at sunset on a holiday.    There are so many holidays in the Caribbean it is next to impossible to even attempt to keep track of them.   On the way up Ken on s/v Diana caught a nice Wahoo and so we enjoyed dinner with them aboard their boat.  We had planned on spending a couple of days in Bequia and reuniting with Marie and JP aboard m/v Domino but they were in Friendship Bay and we ended up in Admiralty Bay.   We spoke with them briefly and made plans to meet up the next day.    Well as they say, the best laid plans……etc.  We checked the weather and saw a BLOB…..that’s how we refer to unstable systems that form in the Atlantic.   This one was building quickly and was forecasted to move into the southern windward Islands possibly as a Tropical Storm by the end of the week.   We decided we would put some miles between us and the impending southern storm.  We called Domino and told them that thanks to the weather, we would see them up Island somewhere and headed up to St. Lucia where we were told there was a good hurricane hole in Rodney Bay.  We had a great sail up.  Both Diana and DD had hits on our fishing lines.  Ken pulled in a small Mahi and let it go.    We had a very big hit in the same area. Unfortunately, it hit on on our lighter weight line and rod and after running out the line for a ways it snapped the line and took our lure.    Ken got on the radio just after it happened and told us about his Mahi.  He uses a hand line with 200lb test and rigs it onto his boat with bungi cords.   It is obviously quite effective.   We will need to rig our reels with heavier line, 40lb test just won’t do anymore.    We swapped fishing stories and continued onto St. Lucia where we were greeted by our friends on DaniellStorey.   We exchanged ideas briefly with Dave, Michelle, Ken, and Katy, comparing notes on the impending Storm.  We agreed that if it decided to veer more northward by the next day we would all move into the protection of the Marina in Rodney Bay.  In the meantime I had better make a batch of BBQ Brownies, we may need comfort food in the coming days.

 

Posted by: bearcruzer | November 2, 2010

Friends,Fins,Fish,Fun

October 21-27, 2010

After hearing the fishing stories from DaniellStorey about his great fishing day and then hearing  from Domino and Dancing Dolphin about our luck.  Ronnie just couldn’t stay tucked into Grenada another day.  Enough was enough.   He and Babbie, under the premise of meeting a friend who was supposed to be coming to Carriacou, showed up in Tyrell Bay.   Their friend never did arrive.  The Crew of Domino had moved north to Bequia and so missed the surprise reunion with Campechano.   We spent much of the weekend enjoying their company and even took their boat out to White Island for a day of fishing, snorkeling, and picnicing.   We only caught a barracuda but it was something.   Ronnie says he is due for a big fish day, just not that day.   We had a good time with them snorkeling around little White Island just south of Carriacou.   We were not too disappointed, not catching fish because we had spent the a couple of days with Ken and Katy of s/v Diana who are also here with us in Tyrell Bay, catching lobster.  We have enough seafood to last a while.  One day a small pirogue came by the boat.  We are traveling north again and so we expect to see an increase of boat vendors, etc.  The young man handed us a handwritten flyer advertising a fish fry on the beach.  It was being hosted by the families of the local ladies who run the vegetable stands on the beach.  The Crews of Diana, Campechano, and DD all got together and enjoyed some great local fair.  After the weekend Campechano returned to Grenada to meet their daughter who is flying in for a visit.   Ken, Katy, Mike and I paid for a couple of nights on the moorings next to Sand Island.  It is a picturesque narrow white sand Island with a few palm trees surrounded by a ring of coral.  We enjoyed a couple of days of great snorkeling.   It has been established as a marine reserve and so the health of the coral is improving and the fish life is becoming more abundant.  We saw larger snapper and Rock Hinds.  I watched a very cool dark brown Octopus swim by and upon seeing me, flattened himself against the rocks and changed his color to perfectly match the specked multicolored surface of his background becoming nearly invisible.  We swam through clouds of thousands of small silver fish we refer to as shiners.  There are pelicans and boobies swooping in and if you are snorkeling in the right place at the right time and find yourself in the middle of one of the large schools you might be privileged to get to see one of the birds diving into the water close by. We even found a large lobster in about 8 feet of water.   He taunted us by walking part way out of his hole to check us out.   We thought about grabbing him but there is a strict no fishing rule within the Marine Park, which must surely explain his bravado.  We had seen live lobster, his size, for sale from the fishermen in town who told us they were catching them with snares, by scuba diving in 70ft of water.   The Crews of Diana and DD, stopped for lunch and picked up some additional fishing lures before checking out of Carriacou/Grenada waters to continue our journey north.   Next stop, Bequia.

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