St. Lucia (June 17- June 25)

We realize that, to many, our life looks like a non-stop vacation. We know we are incredibly lucky to be able to live our dream, and we appreciate every day of it. But, the truth is, it is also everyday living. I cook and clean and shop and take care of the dogs just like I did in Florida; some of those chores (think shopping) are a lot harder than they were back then. John is constantly planning for the next leg, maintaining the boat, driving, and checking weather. So, every now and then, just as in a house, a vacation is a welcome thing. I found my vacation spot here in St. Lucia.

We arrived in St. Lucia on Friday, June 17th. We chose to stay in Marigot Bay as we knew there would be several days of heavy seas and the marina here is a true hurricane hole, meaning there is excellent protection from wind and waves. It is also the most beautiful bay on St. Lucia, and, according to James Michener, the most beautiful bay in the Caribbean. Dr. Doolittle, starring Rex Harrison, was filmed here, and Eddie Murphy, who remade the movie, was anxious to visit on his yacht to see the original setting. Countless stars have boated to the marina and its adjoining resort, and I understand why they come here.

Everything about the marina and the Capella Resort here is flawless. The people who work here ask you your name when you meet them and then they remember it. They are friendly and will go to any extreme to make sure your every wish is granted. Not a day goes by without the staff stopping by to ask if everything is ok and if we need anything. Kirby has made great friends here, too, especially with one gentleman named Darien. They meet every day for a friendly talk and pet session.

IMG_4205Capella Resort, Marigot Bay, St. LuciaIMG_4215IMG_4211IMG_4220IMG_4221IMG_4225IMG_4227IMG_4230IMG_4228

After arriving, I made a stop to the little gourmet supermarket that is just steps from our boat and did a quick re-provisioning before leaving in search of the pool. Thankfully, all of the amenities available to the hotel guests are also open to the marina guests, and I was thrilled to be able to use the pool. What I didn’t expect was that there are two pools, both absolutely gorgeous. For the whole week we spent here I made good use of them both! One is for adults only and is a little cooler than the main pool, which is much larger and features a swim up bar as well as a shallow pool that has floats in it. Such decisions! Either choice was a great one. As soon as I arrive at a pool each day a friendly staff member brings me an ice bucket with a water bottle. About every hour someone comes by with a complimentary small drink or an appetizer or fruit skewer. One day was a little cooler and I found an incredible hot tub, complete with a hot water waterfall. I made it my goal to not miss a day at the pool and, in fact, I will be spending my last afternoon there again as soon as this post is complete!

Father’s Day, on the 19th, came and I offered to treat John to a dinner at the restaurant at the resort. Truly, it was one of the most memorable meals we have ever had anywhere. We ate outside, under the stars, surrounded by scenery that was so beautiful it was difficult to imagine it was real. Palm trees swayed, the breeze blew, the water sparkled, and the boats in the bay were calmly at rest. But, if that wasn’t enough, the meal was spectacular. A special Father’s Day menu included homemade bread, seafood soup, salad, floats (a kind of bread that tasted similar to a less sweet raised donut), boneless beef ribs, pork tenderloin, grilled chicken breast, an assortment of Creole sauces to put on the meat, ground provisions (you might remember that they can include any root vegetable or other vegetables), and pumpkin pie with cinnamon whipped cream. When trying the floats, our waitress told us how she likes to make them on Sunday mornings and serve them with cocoa tea. Of course, we had never heard of cocoa tea, so, after our meal, she asked the kitchen to brew us a pot full to bring back to the boat and to drink the next morning. It was a perfect night, and the tea the next day was amazing too!

Because we knew we would be here a few days, we wanted to see more of St. Lucia. I checked Trip Advisor and looked for a private tour. The taxi tours in the islands seem to be the best way to get to see a lot and to do what you want, especially because of the roads here and the driving on the left. We found Real St. Lucia Tours to be highly recommended, so I contacted them and arranged a tour for John, me, and Craig from La Sirena.

IMG_3778Casteries, St. Lucia

We met Jamal at 8:30 on Tuesday morning right at the marina, and off we went for a day that was absolutely perfect. The company had sent us a list of places tourists often like to visit, so I had taken some time to research the sights. The three of us agreed to a list and we were ready to start out. First we went north and stopped at an overlook to see Castries, which is where the cruise ships arrive. Jamal told us that in low season, which is now, only a few ships come each week, but in high season, three or four ships arrive each day. It is hard to imagine what this peaceful island is like during the high season!

IMG_3785The banana plantation

We soon stopped at a banana plantation. Bananas are an important crop for St. Lucia. Only tourism adds more to their economy. We learned that the blue plastic bags you see on the stalks keep birds and other animals from eating the produce before it is picked.

IMG_3788Small towns and villages line the coast.   Beaches are black sand – a product of previous volcano eruptions.IMG_4233IMG_4235

Next we went through other small villages where the streets were busy with people going about their lives. Women walked with baskets or packages on their heads, there were little shops that were a flurry of activity, and women were gathered at the stream doing their laundry in the running, muddy water, just as they have for hundreds of years.

IMG_3801First sights of the Pitons with Soufriere in the foreground.IMG_4238

We began to get views of the famous Pitons, St. Lucia’s pride and joy. The two, Petit Piton and Gros Piton appear to be close together, both in pictures and in real life, but our guide, Jamal, insists that they are actually three miles apart. They rise out of the sea and they are incredibly beautiful.

IMG_3794Soufriere, St. LuciaIMG_3815A view of Petit Piton with Sugar Beach below.  IMG_3829John and Craig at the top of the hike.IMG_4252The incredibly beautiful island of St. Lucia.IMG_4255Our guide for the hike.IMG_4257Sugar Beach – the sand is brought in from Trinidad as all of St. Lucia’s sand is black.IMG_4268Everywhere you turn there are beautiful views.

As we traveled to Soufriere, a town in the south of St. Lucia, we first passed through a rainforest, where Jamal told us houses were not built because of the boa constrictors that lived there. John was anxious to keep moving through that area. Our next stop was the Tet Paul Nature Hike. We were guided on short hike of about 45 minutes to “Paradise”, up the “Stairway to Heaven”, and then even higher. The highlight of the nature preserve, where all kinds of plants, fruits, and vegetables were grown, was the 360-degree view of the Pitons and the surrounding lands. To say it was breathtaking would be an understatement.

IMG_4260The bubbling, steaming volcano.IMG_4264IMG_3835

The Caribbean’s only drive in volcano was next on the list. Here smoke still spews and mud still boils from the mouth of a dormant volcano, much like the hot springs in Yellowstone. We enjoyed watching the action, but all chose to skip the mud and mineral baths that are part of the park.

IMG_3839In the botanical gardensIMG_3844IMG_3851IMG_3854Diamond Falls.  Note the colors of the rocks behind the falls.IMG_3859

After leaving the volcano we moved on to the Botanical Gardens and the Diamond Waterfall. Here we walked a path through tropical gardens with every kind of plant or flower you can imagine. I always find it so interesting to see the plants that I grew in Florida growing wildly here, and I also love seeing the ones I did not grow. Cocoa trees, with their pods, nutmeg trees, breadfruit, cashew nut trees, and of course, mango and papaya trees are everywhere. As we walked along we came upon the beautiful Diamond Falls in a setting that almost shouldn’t be real. Here the water changes color depending on what volcano mineral is most prevalent that day, and during our visit, the water was white. The back of the falls takes on colors too, making them look more like a rainbow than a diamond.

Once again back in the van, Jamal took us to a Creole restaurant in Soufriere. This was a restaurant we would have never even seen, truly a local establishment. We wished we could find more like this on our own. John and Craig both had huge dinners with fresh caught tuna, salad, and vegetables, while I chose a chicken roti, a Creole specialty, and for the three of us our bill came to a total of $19 US.

IMG_3876Marigot Bay

On our way back to Marigot Bay, we had one more stop to make. A very nice lady runs a shop where she sells the sauces she makes as well as other homemade goods. Her shop also just happens to have a perfect view of Marigot Bay, perfect for photographing. John and I bought some spicy mango salsa and the most delicious hot sauce you have ever tasted and we were rewarded with free rum punch for our purchase. Rum is a big deal in the islands!!

Finally we went back to the marina and I had fallen in love with St. Lucia for good. Every day this week we have tried to get a project or two done, and I have finished my work in time for an afternoon at the pool. Tomorrow morning, however, very early, we will start again on our way south. We have a very nice weather window for the next few days and we expect to be in Grenada, our final goal and our most southerly stop on this trip, by Tuesday.

Here is where we are today, and where I will sadly say goodbye to St. Lucia tomorrow.

st. lucia mapst. lucia map2

Martinique (June 14 – June 17, 2016)

Martinique (June 14 – June 17, 2016)

Martinique was the next stop after Dominica. It went well except for one rogue wave that slid everything from one side of the cabin to the other. By the time we arrived in St. Pierre after that wave, I was ready for a break while John and Craig went and checked in with customs.

IMG_3763On our way to Martinique.  I love how tiny villages are built into the valleys of the mountains.IMG_4171Diamond Rock

The next morning, we moved to St. Anne, a lovely anchorage.   Just before we arrived in the harbor we saw a huge rock just off shore. It was such a curious looking formation that I couldn’t wait to find out more about it. As it turns out, the British dropped sailors on the rock in 1804 and registered it as a ship, the HMS Diamond Rock. After 17 months, the French were able to overpower the sailors and retake the volcanic peak. It is hard to imagine that people might have lived on Diamond Rock, but men lived in tents in the small caves that are on the faces there.

IMG_3768Sunset from our anchorageIMG_4173A daytime view from our anchorage in St. Anne.  That’s Diamond Rock on the leftIMG_4177The church in St. Anne’s village square.IMG_4181From the dinghy dock.IMG_4188This is a breadfruit.  It’s not big enough to pick yet, but breadfruit is boiled and eaten like a potato.  IMG_4191Some of the homes in St. Anne.  I love the roof and windows.IMG_4192IMG_4195Our view from the lunch time cafe.IMG_4200Entering the river by dinghy.

While in St. Anne, we were able to walk around the small town, have lunch at a café on the water, and take the dinghy for a ride up a river. I also got some time in the water on my pool float, which I tie to the swim platform of AfterMath. I will never stop loving my time when I can lean back and enjoy the crystal clear water of the Caribbean. It was a short visit to Martinique, but we enjoyed our time on this French island. Next up, St. Lucia!


Dominica (June 10 – 12, 2016)

Dominica (June 10 – 12, 2016)

Do you remember the song “Put Your Hand in the Hand”? Trust me, after having so many hard days at sea early in the Caribbean, I was singing it and offering my hand to the Man from Galilee often! But once we left St. Kitts, He must have heard me, or maybe been tired of me singing to Him, because the seas began to calm down and I began to love traveling on the water again. Maybe it was King Neptune forgiving us for changing the boat’s name, but whoever was in charge, I sure was happy. By the time we entered Dominica, I had a whole new attitude. Things were good and had been for several days.


La Sirena under full sail on our way to Dominica.

Entering Dominica is a different experience. Because there had been crime in the past, an organization called PAYS (Portsmouth Area Yacht Services) was formed. People in Dominica realized that their best industry is tourism and, without tourists, they are in trouble. Therefore, a group of businesses got together and formed PAYS. These “boat boys” help you find a mooring, take you on tours, provide security, and help with anything else you may want or need in Dominica. The trick is to only use those associated with PAYS.

We were approached, as we entered, by a boat that said Edison Tours on the side. “Welcome to Dominica” yelled the man driving, who introduced himself as Daniel. He was one of the PAYS group and he took care of us the whole time we were there. As we arrived, I quickly asked Daniel if he would take us on an Indian River Tour in Dominica. We had seen in our cruising guide that it was a wonderful experience, so we set up an appointment for 8:00 the following morning.

IMG_4001Entering the Indian River in Portsmouth, DominicaIMG_4021IMG_4042IMG_4061

IMG_3715I could have happily spent a whole day just photographing the roots of the trees on the river.IMG_3719IMG_4049IMG_4103IMG_4090James Bond, on the left, and Daniel, on the right.IMG_4101This gentleman lives in the rainforest and takes care of the flowers at the bar he runs here.

IMG_3747This cute little bird and one other loved the sugar we didn’t use in our bush tea.IMG_4068Just a few of the many flowers that grow here.IMG_4071IMG_4078IMG_4088

IMG_4130This shack was built on the Indian River for the movie “Dead Man’s Chest”, which was part II of the Pirates of the Caribbean series.IMG_3761One of the many PAYS boats.IMG_3760

Exactly at 8 the next day Daniel showed up in his boat to pick us up. Craig, from La Sirena, joined us and we started on our way to the Indian River. Along the way we picked up another gentleman, James (“As in Bond”, he told us, “007”). James is a long time certified guide in Dominica and Daniel is in training. James has a true love of the island, known as the Nature Island. He showed us birds, crabs, lizards, fish, and plants along the way. We stopped at a small bar on the river where we tasted bush tea. The gentleman who lives there in a small shack tends the flowers, grows herbs and tends bar when tour groups come through. It was only 10 in the morning so no one was able to sell us their Dynamite Punch, but we certainly enjoyed the herbal tea instead.

During our short stay in Dominica, others approached us on boats or kayaks or paddle boards as well. Everyone had something to sell. Of course there were mangoes to buy! Always mangoes! Also, I was talked into passion fruit, bananas, and a pineapple. During our stay we also took a walk into town when a market was taking place. There at a few stands I bought tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, and a small watermelon. Fruits and vegetables abound in the Caribbean! Interestingly, however, all “Irish” potatoes are imported. That is one crop that is not grown here.

We had been having a little trouble with our freezer over the past few days so John asked Daniel if he knew of a refrigeration man. Daniel said he had a relative who worked on refrigeration and he would contact him for us. Of course we were a little suspect as everyone here has a relative that does something, but later in the afternoon of the day we took the tour Daniel showed up with Alvin. Alvin was absolutely amazing. He worked very hard for about three hours on our boat, solved our problem and, when asked for his fee, told us $50 (US). Daniel also spent time with us while Alvin worked, showing me how to use a passion fruit and generally talking non-stop about anything else he could think of. We tipped them both well and I believe all parties involved were happy. I know I was happy to see the freezer in good shape again!

There was much more to see in Dominica, but we left for Martinique on the 12th. We are always mindful of trying to reach our goal of arriving in Grenada on July 1st.

More to come tomorrow on our stay in Martinique!

Guadeloupe and Isle des Saintes (June 6 – June 9, 2016)

Guadeloupe and Isle des Saintes (June 6 – June 9, 2016)

How our lives have changed! Of course there are obvious ways; that fact that we don’t have a car or a house, but live on a boat makes that pretty easy to see. And we have talked over and over again about how our days are defined by weather: where we go, if we go or stay, how long we want to travel. But there are less obvious ways too.

First of all, we can’t buy English muffins, my favorite breakfast, so I make them. They are not Thomas’, but they do the job. I make my own pizza dough too, now that Publix isn’t around the corner anymore. John’s grilled pizza is a favorite dinner for us so we need pizza crust! I have walked to the beach where the fishermen come in and bought a very large freshly caught mahi-mahi for $3.75 a pound. It was cleaned and fileted right there by the man who reeled it in. He used a piece of wood with two nails sticking through one side and a beer bottle cap tacked to the other to scale it. On my way back to the boat, I stopped at a lady selling mangoes on a street corner and picked up enough to make some mango salsa to put on the fish after it was grilled. We will get five meals out of that one fish. I love having it in my freezer for another day. I have bought some very strange looking vegetables and boiled them to make what is known here as “provisions”, and we regularly cook our rice in a foil pan on the grill now, topped with some chicken or fish. It works beautifully every time.

We wake to roosters every day. They are everywhere on these islands and they really crow nonstop all day long. Goats and chickens walk the beach in some places and no one even seems surprised. Grocery stores are tiny and I have to hope to find what I want. If not, I buy something else. It is no surprise anymore to find that stores and businesses are not open a good part of every afternoon. It’s almost a surprise to find them open! Produce stands can be large with all kinds of fruits and vegetables or as tiny as a native resident next to a stalk of bananas or a bag of mangoes; there are tons of mangoes!

Language changes from French to English depending on which island we are on, and sometimes we can’t even quite understand the English.  People on the islands commonly speak French, English, Creole, and other dialects common only to the island itself.  Each island also has its own attitude about visitors.  Some make every effort to welcome us and to try to make us understand them, and some make little effort to communicate clearly.  Currency that was pesos in the Dominican Republic ($1 US = 47 DR) now is Euros ($1 US = .90 Euro) or East Caribbean ($1 US = 2.70 EC) depending on where we are. Some businesses are happy to take US dollars, but some are not. And, to top it all off, did you know that the French use a different keyboard on their computers than we do? There are several differences, but the most noticeable one is that the a and the q are reversed! I discovered that when using an Internet café to check in at customs while in Guadeloupe. Our last name kept coming out to say Dqigle. I really thought they were playing tricks on me, but in checking the other computers, all of the keyboards were strange.

After leaving Montserrat on June 6, we traveled to Guadeloupe. This is another island I had never given any thought to in the past. As a matter of fact, I don’t remember anyone ever telling me they would be vacationing in Guadeloupe, so it wasn’t a place I had particularly tuned in on to be a favorite. I was really surprised when I found out how much I loved this country!

IMG_3784Basse-Terre, GuadeloupeIMG_3789IMG_3791Boats here tie up to whatever is available.IMG_3795IMG_3801IMG_3802IMG_3829Who could believe these colors even exist at sunset?

Guadeloupe, a region of France, is made up of five islands. There are two main islands that are separated by a river through the middle. Together they basically form a butterfly shape. Three other islands are smaller but they all lie near each other making for comfortable winds and travels. We first arrived on the western most main island, Basse-Terre. There we toured the town, also named Basse-Terre, and tried to check in with Customs. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, but the dress shop, where the Internet computer for the Customs office was located, was closed for the day in the early afternoon. Most countries have people in their Customs and Immigration office, but the French countries seem to use computers these days. Although we could have spent more time in Basse-Terre, snorkeling and visiting the sights, we decided to move on the next day to the Isle des Saintes.

IMG_3839Terre-Haut, Isle des Saintes, GuadeloupeIMG_3842

This guy attached himself to John and followed him around town.

IMG_3855You have to wonder what stories this doorway could tell.IMG_3857This street in Terre-Haut is closed off to vehicles during the day.IMG_3860IMG_3862This type of shutter is typical throughout the whole village.  They are of all different colors, but countless homes have this design on their shutters.IMG_3871Everywhere you go in the Caribbean there is color.  Wonderful color!  The view around the anchorage is gorgeous.IMG_3872IMG_3876IMG_3890IMG_3894IMG_3992More creative color and designs on a garden gate.IMG_3990

IMG_3901IMG_3999IMG_3922The view from the top of Fort Brimstone.IMG_3928AfterMath is about 1/4 of the way from the right in the foreground.IMG_3931IMG_3934On the beach.  Do you see the little goat in the shade of the palm tree?IMG_3938And always, chickens and roosters!IMG_3946IMG_3947So many beautiful beaches!IMG_3960IMG_3971IMG_3972Our cute little golf cart for the day.IMG_3974John and Craig.  I asked to sit in the back seat that day so I could get pictures from both sides.IMG_3977

IMG_3988Such an interesting graveyard.  Each raised grave has a door in the back to slide a casket in or out.  Some were open and, although there were flowers in the front, you could see from the back that they were empty.

We arrived and headed straight to the Customs office, which was, of course, closed. This office was located in an Internet café. We discovered it would be open the next morning, so we decided to arrive at 9 AM, check in, and then rent a golf cart for the day to explore the island. Craig, from La Sirena, joined us on the Wednesday, June 8th, for a wonderful day touring Fort Brimstone where the views were postcard perfect, enjoying lunch at a beautiful spot on the water, and checking out all of the beaches. By the time we finished our day we had driven on every street on the little island and we had fallen in love with Guadeloupe.

There is so much more to see in this country. We feel like we barely scratched the surface. We will see more of it on our way back north. We have heard rumors that we may have company there! More to come on that when plans are complete.

Here is a view of where Montserrat and Guadeloupe are located.


Montserrat (June 4 – June 6, 2016)

Montserrat (June 4 – June 6, 2016)

Montserrat. Every time I say the name of that island I can’t help but think of the Beach Boys song, Kokomo. “Martinique, that Montserrat mystique”; the lyrics run through my head. I really didn’t know much about Montserrat when we started our trip to the Caribbean, but I will say now that this mostly beautiful island has scars that show the effects of the fury of nature.

Most of the Caribbean islands are made up of mountains that arose from volcanic activity. The beautiful peaked mountains that are so lush and green are a result of the very fertile soil that is derived from the volcanic ash. Many volcanoes here have not erupted for a very long time, although some are considered potentially active. Dominica, itself, has nine potentially active ones. The most recent eruption, however, took place on Montserrat. In 1995, after being dormant for over 300 years, the Soufriere Hills volcano erupted and destroyed Montserrat’s capitol area. Two-thirds of the island’s population had to flee; most of the people moved to Great Britain. Today, the northern part of Montserrat is beautiful and green. Its coastline in the area is often compared to Ireland because of the beautiful cliffs. The southwest side, however, is devastated, buried under many feet of ash.

IMG_3571That is our friend Craig’s boat, La Sirena, anchored near us in Montserrat.IMG_3578

We left St. Kitts on June 5 and traveled to Montserrat. The anchorage at the town there was small and, although there were mooring balls, they were all taken by what seemed to be local boats. There was no place to anchor anywhere in town so we moved to a nearby anchorage that was actually inside a very beautiful park. A beach was at the bottom of a huge wall of cliffs, and it was a gorgeous place to spend the night.

IMG_3600The devastation caused by the volcano in 1995.  It still smokes and sends ash into the air. IMG_3620IMG_3623IMG_3616IMG_3641Here you can see the ash and smoke in the air.  AfterMath had ash on the bow and cockpit after passing by.

We were not going to be able to have time ashore in Montserrat, so we left the following morning and started making our way south to Guadeloupe. I was anxious to try to see the volcano as we passed by. I had read that it still smokes and sends ash out, including over the water. There are exclusion zones where boats are not allowed, but we were able to be fairly near the coastline as we traveled south. At first we tried guessing which mountain was the volcano, as there are countless peaks and hills and we weren’t sure what our view would be. All of the sudden, though, we saw it. What had to have been rivers of lava, now gray ash, covered the valleys between the hills. Then we saw the devastation. Homes were buried right up to their roofs. Whole towns were empty. A church sat smothered in ash. Truly, there was nothing left. The volcano had destroyed everything.

IMG_3680A ray of sunshine broke through the clouds and smoke as if to say that there is always hope.

Someday, that ash will fertilize the land. Green trees will grow and the island will come back to life. But for now, part of Montserrat remains uninhabitable. It’s a sad sight to see.

Just a quick note: I will be posting a few shorter entries over the next few days in an effort to catch up! We have been moving along, but had very little Wi-Fi, so I have fallen behind.

St. Maarten, St. Bart’s, Nevis and St. Kitts and a One-Year Anniversary (May 26 – June 2, 2016)

We are definitely working on a latitude adjustment! Finally we are really traveling south. If you look at a map you will see that most of our trip since leaving Florida has had an easterly component, or at least southeasterly, but now we are pretty much just heading south. Currently we are in St. Kitts, at latitude 17 degrees, 35 minutes. For comparison, back in Canada last summer Bay Fine, our most northerly destination, was at 48 degrees 60 minutes. Our insurance policy dictates that, by July 1st, we need to be out of the hurricane zone, which is below 12 degrees, 30 minutes; for us that will be Grenada. We are on our way.

Leaving the British Virgin Islands was as hard for me as I expected. The seas on our overnight trip to St. Maarten didn’t make it any easier. The waves were five or six feet and the swells were under eight seconds. Both Kirby and Jake were a bit traumatized by the big seas, and I was not a happy camper either. Our anchorage in Simpson’s Bay on the Dutch side of the island was a bit rolly, something that is never welcome after an overnight trip. The 16-hour trip ended around 8:30 AM, and we all needed a rest before venturing out on the dinghy for lunch.

Probably an explanation is needed as to why we would travel overnight to do a 16-hour trip. Anchoring at night is difficult and dangerous; some anchorages are surrounded by reefs or other obstructions that cannot be seen when it is dark. It is, however, safe to travel on the open seas at night. There is far less boat traffic at night, and, with the use of radar, it is fairly easy to see ships that are nearby. If trips are planned carefully, they begin in daylight and are completed after sunrise, allowing good sight lines for anchoring. I understand the rationale for overnight trips, but I hate them, and so does John. Hopefully there will be no more for a very long time for AfterMath and her crew.

IMG_3504St. Martin’s French sideIMG_3513Rosemary’s daughter was quite the sales lady when we were choosing a restaurant.  This type of restaurant is called a lolo.  It is open air, has a wooden roof and lovely little tables.  Also it has delicious food!

IMG_3517Along the streets of St. Martin
IMG_3524IMG_3527IMG_3528I could have spent a whole day just taking pictures of this building.

St. Maarten/St. Martin is an interesting island in that it is part Dutch and part French. There is a lagoon that is shared by both countries in the interior. Boats anchor in the lagoon, but we did not as the bridges that need to be opened to allow access in and out operate on a limited schedule that would have prohibited our planned early departure for the next day. We did go to shore with the dinghy, though, and had lunch on the French side before walking around the town. A stop at the boat store on the way back and a ride over to watch the low flying planes take off near the beach completed our shore time on the island.

The day we arrived in St. Maarten, May 26th, was a momentous occasion for us as it marked exactly one year since we left Mystic, CT and started our voyage. In that year we traveled 4920 nautical miles, which is 5662 statute (regular) miles. We visited 10 states, 33 islands, and 10 countries. It is so hard to believe that a whole year has passed by. We have seen so much and yet there is so much left to do.

IMG_3539St. Bart’sIMG_3535I have a few grandchildren who might think this slide would be fun!

After the long trip to St. Maarten, we decided a short day was called for on Friday. St. Bart’s was only about 20 miles south, so we took a leisurely, but still rough, ride to get there. Once there, we pulled into in the harbor in Gustavia, only to be curtly told that there was no room for us on any mooring and there would not be any room all day. I would have liked to walk around the town there, but it was not to be. Not too far away was a national park with a very nice beach, so we turned AfterMath around and found a mooring in a lovely setting there. The only problem was, because it was too far for the dinghy in heavy seas, we couldn’t get to town. Therefore, we could not clear customs and we had to stay on the boat instead of ever making it to land.

IMG_3545The sight at the dinghy dock in Nevis.IMG_3547IMG_3548IMG_3549While this Royal Poinciana tree was probably planted here, they grow wild throughout the islands.  We were told they are called Flamboyant Trees here.IMG_3551The extinct volcano on Nevis from our anchorage.  The top is almost always covered in clouds according to the locals.

We decided this boat’s owner was a Gator fan, but others think he might be a Met’s fan!

The following day, Saturday, we arrived in Nevis. Although that is an island that many are not familiar with, it is part of the country that is made up of St. Kitts and Nevis. It is two miles south of St. Kitts and is an island that is much the same now as it was many years ago. There is a ferry that runs back and forth from St. Kitts to Nevis, which is how tourists who arrive by cruise ship can visit. Again the anchorage was, unfortunately, rolly and, again, the weather dictated that we needed to stay more than one night.

A fun note on getting to Nevis was that John called me from the dinghy deck, about 12 feet above the water, to tell me that I had finally caught a fish! I wasn’t at all sure what he meant, but I went up there to see, and, sure enough, there was a fish on the deck. Apparently one of those crazy flying fish we see when in deep water misjudged his flight and landed right next to the dinghy. I had seen quite a few seagulls following us for a while and had no idea what they were doing. After finding the fish I realized they were trying to help themselves to a tasty, free meal.

IMG_3560One of the friendly St. Kitts Coasties during our boardingIMG_3563IMG_3557The seas were rough for them to climb off and on our boat, but they did just fine.  These two stayed on the boat while the others came aboard AfterMath.

By Sunday night it became obvious that the seas would not be in our favor for a few days, so we decided to move 10 miles north and get a dock at a marina in St. Kitts. On our way, because we finally had calm seas, I dropped a line in the water from my fishing pole and took a seat in the cockpit to watch over it and wait for that fish I was hoping to catch. All of the sudden, I noticed a boat that looked like a police boat quickly approaching us. Soon the lights came on and I knew they would be stopping us for something. I pulled in my line, and called John to tell him the situation. It turned out to be St. Kitts Coast Guard aboard a Customs boat, wanting to come aboard. I know most boaters dread this situation, but, because I knew we were safe and had nothing we shouldn’t have, I looked at it as a great photo opportunity. John handled all the documentation and showing them our safety equipment while I took a few pictures. All was well, and we were back on our way. I thought it was just a few minutes, but John tells me it took about ½ hour. Time flies when you are having fun!

Once in the marina I was so happy to be able to be at a dock where we could have power to do some cooking and baking and to do laundry. Also, it’s nice to be somewhere every now and then where you don’t need to take a dinghy to get to shore. Soon after we arrived on Monday I was off and exploring the town.

IMG_3565St. Kitts cruise dock.IMG_3566The cruise ship shops while no ships are in port.

St. Kitts is a destination for cruise boats and, true to form, there are streets lined with shops near the cruise docks for when they arrive. We are here out of season, and up until today, there have been no ships at all, so the shops have been mostly closed and it has been quiet and empty. However, we were told that when in season, up to 12,000 people walk around the area on any given day. It is so hard to imagine what those streets must be like! I am anxious to take a walk today to see the difference one cruise ship can make on this sleepy little island with a total population of only 40,000 people.

IMG_3582The bakery in St. KittsIMG_3586Scenes around Basseterre on St. KittsIMG_3589IMG_3591


We always prefer the less touristy areas, and, instead of browsing through the upscale shops, we went for lunch and a walk on Tuesday in the historic district. Here there are stores, restaurants, tiny street side stands of fruits and vegetables, little stands with chaffing dishes full of local favorites, and taxis galore. Buildings are old, and sometimes in disrepair, but it is here that you get the flavor of what St. Kitts is really like. We walked into a tiny bakery to buy some rolls for breakfast and in the little space there, people sat on the windowsill, drinking beer and chatting with their friends.

IMG_3578The CircusIMG_3579IMG_3581

IMG_3607In the rainforestIMG_3707
IMG_3617An old sugar mill and rum distilleryIMG_3638IMG_3651


IMG_3673Mangoes, and more mangoes everywhere!IMG_3679Watching a demonstration about how batik fabric is made.IMG_3682IMG_3690IMG_3692Gorgeous colors – all done by hand.IMG_3704

IMG_3546At Fort BrimstoneIMG_3722John climbing the stairway to heaven??



IMG_3742Black sand.  The result of volcanic activity.IMG_3557The point at which the Atlantic and Caribbean Oceans meetIMG_3747Black rocks deposited by the volcano.IMG_3752You can be sure this is open today while the cruise ship is in port!IMG_3754These guys were just hanging out near the lava rock over view.

One of my wishes for St. Kitts, because we had a few days there, was to take a tour of the island. Looking on Trip Advisor, I found a service that was highly recommended: Rose and Jim’s Tour and Taxi. We found Jim in the center of town, called the Circus because it was modeled after London’s Piccadilly Circus, and we made arrangements for him to pick us up on Wednesday. We found Jim to be a wonderful guide. He was easy to understand (although people on St. Kitts speak English, sometimes the dialect is difficult to catch) and very knowledgeable. He was born on the island, lived in London for over 20 years, but came back to St. Kitts many years ago. Jim explained that St. Kitts official name is St. Christopher, but years ago “Christopher” was shortened and now the island is known by both names. He showed us a rainforest and sugar mill, a batik factory where beautiful fabrics are made, Fort Brimstone, the place where the Atlantic and Caribbean Oceans collide, a black sand beach, and a beach populated with black boulders formed from lava from the now extinct volcano on the island. John, Craig from La Sirena, and I were the only ones on the tour so we had lots of personal attention from Jim.

`Yesterday was a workday for John and for me. We both had jobs that we needed to do around the boat, but it was so nice to be able to have time to get things done without any rough or rolly seas. We expect to leave for Nevis again tomorrow, Saturday, June 4th. This will be our staging anchorage for our next stop, Montserrat. We had hoped to have time to stop and tour that island and learn more about the volcano that is still active there, but, again, the weather is king. We have only two good days for this next leg and we want to take advantage of them. After Montserrat we will move to Guadeloupe, where we will spend a couple of days. Every island now is a little farther south and a little closer to 12 degrees, 30 minutes. Truly, when we reach Grenada, we will have changed our attitudes and latitudes!

A few latitudes for perspective:

City or Country Latitude
Ottawa, Canada 45.42 degrees
New York, NY 40.47 degrees
Charleston, SC 32.47 degrees
Jacksonville, FL 30.22 degrees
Miami, FL 25.46 degrees
San Juan, PR 18.30 degrees
St. Lucia 13.90 degrees
Grenada 12.11 degrees
AND, not on this trip: Quito, Ecuador 0.18 degrees

Here is where we are today.