Friday, June 18, 2010

St. Kitts, Montserrat, Guadeloupe

I finished up my stay in St. Martin with a visit to the Sunset beach bar, where you can get the full jet blast of landing and departing jumbo jets as they fly over the beach and onto the short runway. It was pretty funny to watch the tourists who underestimated this power as they rolled down the beach, getting sandblasted, and then had to swim out 50 ft into the ocean to get their bags and sandals, etc. Repairs were finished up to the roller furling jib, which is back to normal operation.

Now with 3 people and a dog aboard, Alexandra set sail for St Kitts with a strong SE wind. We made it in no time and anchored for the night. I thought I’d get away without clearing in, since I planned to depart in the morning, but I got a lovely visit from their coast guard at 0100 and sat for a boat search. I flashed my old Navy ID and explained I was merely stopping for the night to take a rest and I would be off. The guys decided to let me go instead of escorting me into port.

We spent most of the next day sailing to Montserrat. This was a very interesting island because of its active volcano. Their capital city of Plymouth was destroyed and abandoned by falling ash that began in 2003 and eventually covered most of the town up to the roofs! In the photo you see the 3rd floor above the ash, another photo shows the ash coving the golf course. The southern end of the island with the volcano looks like a desert, while the north end is green and lush. We took a taxi tour as my guidebook recommended and it was well worth it. Much of the volcanic side of the island is off limits. Signs that read “You are now entering Zone B” made me think of the movie “District 9.” Our guide took us to his home and picked ripe mangos and breadfruit for us out of his own trees. I don’t like mangos, but the breadfruit is excellent. Chopped up it is the size of 4 potatoes and similar looking, but the taste once cooked is like a boiled bread dumpling. We added an onion and made a wonderful stew that night in the pressure cooker. Luckily, they hang off the trees on every corner, and there are more than anyone on the islands can eat. Cheap eating!

The next day, on the 12th, we had mostly no wind and when we did, it died and shifted 180 degrees. I hate it, but I had to (chose to) motor for a long way. We arrived in Guadeloupe. Feeling a bit cramped on the boat, we all decided to take a break from each other and just take a hike for the day. I went and found some internet, and then hitched up to the Volcano. The hike (first two photos) from the parking lot was pretty long and steep, but at the top was a rocky volcanic peak and a crater, masked in a rain cloud. There was also a vent which was venting sulfuric steam and gasses. Crazy. It was so nice and cool up there. Then after a hike back down you get hot, but there’s a wonderful bath at the bottom which is slightly warm from the volcano. Excellent hike. Funny enough, I ran into both my crewmembers on the trail and we all enjoyed the pool together at the bottom. Early morning of the 16th, we departed for Dominica. I’m putting together a little movie for my next post with clips of Dominica.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Outfitting and repairs in St Martin

On 31May we sailed out behind the mass of Antiguan sailing boats and made the short sail to French St Martin, Marigot Bay. We cleared in and then returned to the boat for a grilled pork dinner and I finished scraping the last of the Puerto Rican Barnacles from the bottom of the hull. On 01Jun, first day of the Hurricane season, we motored through the drawbridge into the large lagoon. In the winter months this lagoon is packed with sailboats and megayachts of every sort, but now the majority have headed north or south out of the tropical storm belt. I’ll be south of it soon enough. For now the priority is getting my boat running nicely again. I bounced between the Dutch and French side of the island, getting various work done. I had the roller furling jib repaired and I had a stainless steel pole fabricated to hold the wind generator, my two most expensive jobs done here. I also got a great deal on a small outboard engine for the dinghy, a luxury after 3 months of rowing everywhere. And there were various other minor projects and needed items that were bought. Because of the large boating market here, St Martin’s boating chandleries can provide about the same prices you find in the US.

We spent this weekend at Orient Bay on the NE side of the island, where we caught a nice tuna (again bit in half by a shark or barracuda) as we sailed in to the anchorage. We had a nice relaxing time there, and discovered that the nearby beach was a nude beach.

I motored Alexandra into the Marigot bay marina for last night to use the electrical power for my drill. I have to drill holes in the deck (a Captain never likes drilling holes in his boat) to install the pole for the wind generator. We’ll be heading for Nevis Island early tomorrow morning, 60nm south, then on to Guadeloupe. Guadeloupe is supposed to have some really interesting hikes featuring volcanic activity and a "boiling lake". I'll be sure to take good photos. At the marina, I was approached by a British bloke named Andrew. He requested to crew for me down to Guadaloupe, as he is trying to make his way south as well. I agreed after talking with him a little and informing him he would have to cover his own grocery costs. It should be nice to have some more company on the boat, and if it works out well, I can always help him out by taking him further on towards his destination, Brazil. Handy with electrical work, he's already helped fix a couple buttons and wire the new wind gen.

This photo is from the fort here, then a couple of the sailing race on Antigua, I forgot to take the rest off my camera, so I'll have to post later. Oh, I do have this proposal for a t-shirt also, it's a bit expensive to have them made, but I'm still thinking about it. I did the drawing on the back just with pen and paper. I'd really like to have them. The cost was around $9.10 per shirt for 50. Think I should do it?