Sunday, May 31, 2009

Oh NO! A Leak in the Dinghy!

Mary sprung a leak. Our inflatable dinghy (aka the family car and also know as “Air Mary”) had to be patched this morning. On our way to shore last night (for a cook’s night off) we stopped to chat with another boat and as we were talking, Michael heard a strange hissing noise. We headed back to the boat, got Mary on board and sure enough, a small leak in the port side tube in a very awkward location. Michael patched it this morning – thanks to some glue from a nearby boat “Evergreen IV Rest.” We owe them a tube of glue. (Frank: more stuff you’ll have to bring!!). Its “curing on deck now and we’ll see I it holds. Barbara still has to get her laundry from shore. (and she never got her cook's night off!)

Yesterday, she sent laundry to two different places – Martin the “boat boy” (or we prefer to call them yacht services) took two loads (picked up at 9 and back by 3) and she brought two to a woman on shore. It’s always funny to see your t-shirts and underwear hanging on someone’s clothesline. This is a pretty inexpensive place to get laundry done – though there are no do-it-yourself Laundromats.

So we are trapped on board with no dinghy – so its boat projects day. Michael’s already repaired the cockpit table; installed an expansion tank for the water maker; cleaned the water maker filters; repaired (?!?) the dinghy; cleaned his sextant that had a battery explode in it; and, reloaded the V-berth. Barbara’s been captioning pictures on the web site (we have internet here); cooking and doing some cleaning. Maybe we’ll both cool off with a nice swim after this.

Last night we went on the tour with Martin up the Indian River. Another couple from aboard Sweet Caroline joined us. It was a great trip. Martin has to row up the river (against a three-knot current) because it’s pretty shallow and no motors are allowed as it’s part of the National Park. It was quite beautiful – especially in the late afternoon light. We saw these magnificent roots of the Blood Wood tree – they are flat and look like sculptures. There were lots of birds singing, crabs scurrying and fish in the river. The trees and ferns were all large and lush. Martin shared a lot of knowledge about Dominica’s history and was well versed in the flora and fauna. This island depends on a lot of holistic remedies – different plants for different ailments.

After a way up the river we got out and hiked along a trail – where we saw beautiful and exotic flowers, lots of varieties of bananas and plantains, pineapples and other spices like bay leaves. He collected a coconut and “macheteed” it open – and still has all ten fingers! He also made Barbara and Carol (from Sweet Caroline) a palm frond bird. Barbara got a parrot and Carol got a hummingbird. We swam in the fresh water river (always a treat after so much salt water) and ate coconut and headed back in a typical afternoon downpour. Martin ended the trip with an exotic bouquet for each of the women. (Gee all this stuff and no vase on board!!)

It was a great trip that we both enjoyed tremendously. At night (Saturday night after all), there was late music on shore. Only this music wasn’t very melodic – Michael actually thinks it was karaoke (which should be outlawed).

Tomorrow (Monday) is another island holiday – they sure do celebrate on the island a lot. It’s Whit Monday (Pentecost Monday). Everything will be closed. We haven’t decided if we’re staying or moving on. A lot depends on getting the dinghy in the water and seeing if she floats. It also depends on collecting the laundry from shore. And of course the weather!

We’re flexible.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Dominica - The Last Leeward Island

We are sitting at anchor in the Prince Rupert Bay on the island of Dominica (pronounced (Dom-ah-knee'-ka). It is a lush, topographically diverse island. It has rainforests, beaches, swamps, 365 rivers (one for every day!) and seven volcanoes. It's truly a beautiful island to look at. It also has one of the prettiest country flags - with a native green parrot in the middle of the flag.

We arrived here on Friday around noon. We left Pointe a' Pitre on Thursday after a very busy morning. Wednesday was a holiday so everything was closed making our Thursday a bit hectic. We did grocery shopping (you know the drill, dinghy, walk, shop, walk, dinghy); Michael did the check-out of Guadeloupe and got 15 gallons of diesel. After everything got back to the boat, fueled, groceries put away and dinghy on deck - we left for "The Saints" to take off some time on the trip to Dominica. We sailed all the way from Pointe a Pitre to Islet Cabrit - no joy fishing. Anchored for the night and enjoyed being the only boat in that beautiful anchorage. The next morning (Friday) we got up bright and early and took off for Dominica. We again sailed most of the way - motoring the last few miles to make some water and charge the batteries. We anchored near the Purple Turtle Restaurant.

This is the first place where there are "boat boys". These are small business owners - who provide yacht help. On some islands they can be problems, but the ones on Dominica are professional, courteous and very helpful. They provide various services from helping you tie up to a mooring to getting you fresh fruit and vegetables. We had a guy named "Martin" on the boat "Providence" recommended to us by another sailboat - so we called for him. There is loyalty amongst boat boys - if you say "Martin's my guy" - the others back off. Martin this morning (Saturday) came by the boat as pre-arranged and picked up some laundry to take in for us and we'll be doing a river tour with him this afternoon - which includes a bit of bird watching - looking for the indigenous parrot.

Last night (Friday) the music at "Big Papa's" restaurant went on until 5 am Saturday morning. It was quite loud with a beat the reverberated through the boat. We also had a lot of rain yesterday - and unfortunately - had windows that weren't dogged down - so after visiting some folks on a boat (Clyde and Gertrude form Holland) - we came back to a flooded galley, a damp clothes locker and a wet basket in the walk-through. Oh well - we'll be better about checking windows in the future. After major clean-up, putting the dinghy and motor on deck (now we have to start doing the dinghy as well as the motor as we get further south) - we went to bed only to be kept up by the big party on shore. It started around 11 pm and went to 5 am! It was a Heineken promotion with two bands. Admission was $20 or $30 VIP. We got the music for free!

Saturday morning, we woke up quite early to get the dinghy back in the water and head to the vegetable market. It was a great vegetable market. There were people selling fruits, vegetables, fish, breads, jams - you name it. The selection was terrific - loads of bananas, pineapples, onions, peppers, watermelons, mammy apples, mangoes - you name it. We stocked up on some fresh items and can't wait to break into that watermelon.

We also stopped at the bank to get the local currency - EC's (Eastern Caribbean dollars) it's about $2.62 EC to $1 US dollar.

The people here are the friendliest we've seen so far on the trip. Everyone says hello and chats with you. Yesterday (Friday) after clearing into customs ($4 US), we stopped by for a cold drink. We ended up sitting at Big Papa's chatting with an interesting group of locals (including Big Daddy who owns the joint) Helen who runs a local dive shop, Marcellus (or Tony) who is the poet bartender / manager of Big Papa's, and Jeffrey one of the boat boys (and in charge of boat security in the area). The stories were funny and we learned a lot. It was a blast.

In 2001 on our cruise this was one of our favorite islands. I think it won't disappoint us this time either. So far it's great. We're looking forward to Martin's river tour this afternoon. Hope we see some parrots.

One story we forgot to share from "The Saints." Anchored there on the Ascension holiday, we were boarded by four Guadeloupe customs agents. Three came on board, one stayed in the dinghy - holding on to our boat with his hand on his weapon. Sounds scarier than it was. They were very polite and sat in the cockpit asking questions and filling out paperwork. They asked us if we had more than $10,000 Euro (we said we wished we did!). They asked about weapons, pets, tobacco, and alcohol. We skirted the alcohol question!! All was good - and it was an interesting experience.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

From the Industrial Zone to the Mountains

Anchored in Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe, we spent Monday in search of repair facilities and parts for the hydraulic hose repair for the centerboard. This is a French island - and we don't speak much French and the people here don't speak much English. So we knew it would be an adventure.

We started in the marine district near the marina across the channel. We started in the marine office and got a lead to a few places. We walked to "Fred's Marine" and found someone there who spoke borderline English and with our French words written out and the broken part in hand, we were able to find out they couldn't help us but gave us the name and address of a hydraulic shop. It was across the harbor in the "Industrial Zone." We did some more exploring on the marina side - found a good grocery store, a small chandlery (the large one that was supposed to be terrific burned down last month - bummer) and a bank machine for more euros. We picked up a few things and went back to the boat - having walked a few miles in the process.

We then headed over by dinghy to the Industrial Zone and hunted out a place to tie up the dinghy. We found a small dock and luckily there was a worker around (it was lunch hour and everything closes for two hours at lunch time here). He gave us permission to tie to the dock for a few hours and also directions to the street we were looking for. Off we go on foot. Michael loved this part of town!! All sorts of manufacturing, parts and various stuff. We found the street and panicked a bit when the address we had was number 23 Rue de la Chapelle and the first number we see on Rue de la Chapelle is 977! The sounded like one long walk - but the numbers went down quickly so it was a tad long - but not too bad. Of course, they didn't have exactly what we needed - it seems there are THREE standards for sizes, threading etc. One is the American (what our system is - though we thought it was British), one is the British and one is the French. Of course, being a French island, all they carried was the French standard. So Boris, the nice man who spoke a little English, sent us to another place about 2 kilometers away. So we walked more of the zone and found the place and of course they didn't have it either - so we went back to Boris and had a hose built - hoping we could make it work. We walked back to our dinghy - another hike - Barbara grateful none of it was hilly!

On Tuesday, we got up early to hit the hydraulic shop at 7 am before heading out on an island tour. We needed to pick up the hose they were making. Another couple - Byron and Lynn Nelson from the motor yacht Voyager arranged a driver Allain and an all day tour of the island. We left at 9:30 in a van and went through some beautiful countryside seeing lots of interesting trees and plants - including mahogany, breadfruit, almonds, flambeau, cashews, cocoa, mango, camphor, and cinnamon. We hit a waterfall and a few rivers - one with a cool suspension walkway. We got into the rain forest mountains which had some great vistas. We took a tour of a chocolate making shop in Point Noir with some good sampling. We also went through a rum museum (with more sampling). Had a nice lunch on a beautiful beach in a very good restaurant. It was a good tour and nice to get off the boat and off foot and see some more of the countryside. Lynn and Byron were nice people and interesting. We got back to the boat and all was well - it's always a tad nerve-wracking leaving the boat at anchor all day unattended.

It's Wednesday and another holiday in the islands. It's end of slavery day. Michael is attempting to fix the hydraulic hose today (language aboard not so pleasant) and we're hoping he has great success.

Success! At least temporarily. The board is up, no leaks (so far) and the pressure seems to be holding. So we are back to being a shallow draft vessel, which means we can anchor closer to shore and not put out nearly as much chain, which saves us both, especially Barbara on the fore deck with the windlass.

Happy Emancipation Day!

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Monday, May 25, 2009

The Guadeloupe Tour

There is a sailboat race around the island called "Tour de la Guadeloupe" where you stop at a different port each night Over the last few days, we almost felt like participants as we've been in two of the anchorages that the boats came by. Saturday they made their way to The Saints, Bourg des Saintes and yesterday (Sunday) they came through the channel at Pointe a Pitre. Yesterday we were right at the finish line and it was exciting to watch these boats with spinnakers flying across the line. These boats move! The boats are from small, fast 16ft. Hobie cats, racing cats, racing monohulls and some 70ft. maxi yachts with high tech sails and uniformed crew. One Hobie cat was towed in by a committee boat - de-masted. We listened to the awards ceremony and party last night from our anchorage. Didn't understand much, it was all in French!

Our "Tour de la Guadeloupe" also continues. On Saturday, we left Bourg des Saintes and went to a small island Ilet Cabrit and anchored off a pretty little beach. The island has one small house near the beach, a partially finished and abandoned hotel and the remains of Fort Josephine. Michael (whom Barbara is now convinced wants to kill her with climbing hills) decided they should climb to Fort Josephine. It certainly wasn't as high as "Le Chemeau" the day before. We were again rewarded with magnificent views - each one a postcard. The climb wasn't nearly as bad. We also explored the old hotel - where it seems the goats take rooms each night as it was filled with their "smart pills." The island also has these beautiful purple flowered trees - much like giant lilacs and they almost have a lilac smell. We saw a giant iguana - but he was faster than us and we missed the photo op (sorry Nina). We ran into mountain goats and some crazy French people who had done the climb in bikinis and bare feet. There are lots of cactus and sharp rocks on this hike so that was plain crazy!

Upon our return to the boat we watched the participants in the sailboat race sail by towards the town - and got to see some great tacking duels.

On Sunday morning, bright and early, we left "The Saints" and headed north again - towards Pointe a Pitre. We sailed most of the way and it was a very pleasant day. We had to avoid lots of fish traps - and had two lines in the water. No joy on the fishing front - but a really nice sail.

Pointe a Pitre is Guadeloupe's largest city. Remember we mentioned that Guadeloupe is the shape of a lopsided butterfly? This city is on the bottom and in the middle of the "butterfly wings." It has a huge port and is geared to the marine industry. They work on everything from small outboards to the maxi racers in a major race that passes through here "Rhoute de Rhum." So we're hoping they will be equipped to fix a hydraulic hose for our centerboard.

The city is a hodgepodge of old and new and has Creole traditions and style. We're hoping to also get some provisioning, laundry and touring done while here waiting for parts to be completed/ordered.

We're anchored off the Ilet a Cochons. We'll dinghy across to the big marina to start the repair search this morning with English/French dictionary in hand. Though, earlier this morning, we watched as French Special Ops forces went ashore Ilet a Cochons via kayaks in full gear for some type of exercise. (At least we're hoping it's an exercise!!) Fun to watch - they were pretty stealth except for their bright red kayak paddles.

Happy Monday! Less than a month until Frank's visit.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Iles des Saintes

"The Saints" are a small group of islands, part of Guadeloupe. The pace here is very easy and slow. The group of islands offer a bit of everything. We are anchored off the largest of the islands, Terre d'en Haut near the islands only town, Bourg des Saintes. The islands used to depend entirely on fishing - and there are still active small fishing boats that come and go each day. You can buy freshly caught fish from them when they return to their waterfront moorings. They certainly don't seem to care about the yachts anchored about in front of their mooring field - as they fly in-between the boats pushing good wakes.

The town is really idyllic - with tidy, colorful houses with shutters and beautiful "gingerbread" trim. A church chimes every hour and quarter hour. The streets are narrow and filled with tiny restaurants, t-shirt shops, a few small groceries and a few bakeries. Vendors (mostly older women) on the street sell homemade ice cream out of the old fashioned ice cream churn (Michael enjoyed a rich coconut one) and local "fruit tarts." Fishermen are also in parks cutting up fish with giant machetes and knives and selling it. The town shuts down between noon and 1500 each day - which is amazing as the business now is tourism. Ferries bring visitors in starting around 0900 - and they are pretty non-stop through about 1800. The ferries are fun to watch as they too negotiate between sailboats at anchor.

The islands also offer some good hikes, kayaking and snorkeling. We played mountain goat again - and yesterday (Friday) decided to tackle the highest peak in the island. It nearly killed us. At least we didn't do it in the heat of the day - we actually got an earlier than normal start. We should have been forewarned as the guide book describes this hike as "you have to be fit to make it to the island's most spectacular view up Le Chemeau, by the old Napoleonic lookout tower." I'm not certain we are quite up the guide's standard of "fit" quite yet. We did make it - but it was a very tough climb. It's along a road closed to traffic and is very steep with switchbacks. It is 1000 foot vertical climb (and that didn't sound like so much). Barbara is convinced, that on Friday, she was the oldest person who did the climb. We saw a few people along the way and they were all quite young and "fit". We were rewarded with remarkable views of the island group - like being in an airplane. The bummer was that the lookout tower top level was locked - so after all that -we were locked out of the most magnificent view.

On the way down, we ran into a group of mountain goats - real ones. A few of the billy goats got into a fight which was interesting to watch as they butted heads. We hit the first grocery as we made it down and bought the largest bottle of water, found some shade in a park, sat down and re-hydrated. We were exhausted with legs like jelly. Michael went to get some baguettes and croissants (we earned them!) and on his return he panicked as an ambulance was right near the park where he left Barbara sitting. He was sure something bad happened to Barbara - but was happy to see her still sitting on the bench. We made it back to the dinghy and the boat - and spent the rest of the day recovering.

The climb was made that much harder by the fact we entertained the night before and much adult beverage was consumed. Thanks to Joe and Kathy Mansir - we opened your gifted wine and enjoyed it immensely. Also, because one bottle wasn't enough, Tom and Hyla Griesdorn - we popped the cork on a lovely bottle from you. Thanks. The wine was shared - we had invited over the folks from "Serene" and "Rapscallion II." We had been on Mel and Joni's boat "Serene" the night before for sundowners. They are from Miami. On Thursday night on Astarte, we enjoyed sundowners and a potluck with the group. Dennis and Trudy from Rapscallion had some fishing luck and brought wahoo and we threw in some mahi we had thawed. It was a good feast with great conversation and a chance to meet new folks who are also heading south.

Thursday was a holiday on the island - Ascension - so almost everything was closed down even though the ferries were delivering lots of people. We did boat projects and cleaning.

Today (Saturday) we'll probably move to another anchorage near one of the other islands for a different view. We've enjoyed watching the ferries, the yachts coming and going, the anchor drills and the Hobie cat classes that go out every afternoon. The Hobies fly through the water and are colorful and fun to watch as they maneuver through boats and race each other.

Sunday (tomorrow) we'll sail back to the main island of Guadeloupe to Point a Pitre to get the hydraulic centerboard line fixed.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Flexibility - In More Ways Than One

The cruising lifestyle requires flexibility. Your body must be flexible to move with the boat; to climb on and off the boat and dinghy; to hike over narrow paths and as we found out on Monday to climb up river rocks. You also must be flexible with your plans because of weather, repairs, how fast or slow the boat is going or how rolly an anchorage could be or what the “holding” of an anchorage is. We found that out yesterday as well and we “went with the flow”

On Monday, we stayed in Deshaies and went ashore to explore this quaint town. We also needed to clear in. We tried to figure out where to leave a dinghy – and the options looked like tying to the bridge over the Deshaies River or tying against the rocks on the side of the river. Because it had really rained hard the night before (we filled up two huge rain collectors – the Michael-made gutters really work), the river was flowing pretty strongly. Barbara stayed with the dinghy holding it off the rocks and Michael would go to the customs office to clear us in and see if he could find a dinghy place on a beach or elsewhere. He came back with the answer to the dinghy question – but customs was closed. The guide books all say clearing in is a matter of finding someone in the office. We retied the dinghy and roamed through town. Lots of restaurants – everything seemed to be named “Chez (fill in a very French name here).” So French! We found a few nice little vegetable stands, fisherman were selling mahi from their trucks on the street (but we caught our own!) and there was a few patisseries (so Michael had to test their pain de chocolat.)

Michael had success with customs later and then we went on the hike along the river. Well actually it was more IN the river than along the river. It was a very exciting, slippery, athletic adventure. One that required physical flexibility climbing over big rocks, roots and through mini-currents.

The flora was lush and green and everything seemed huge.

The fauna was also interesting – leaf cutter ants,

fearless French frogs (actually toads),

bugs of the biting kind and beautiful bird sounds, It was quite a workout and the water was pretty brown because of the rain the night before.

There were mini-waterfalls dropping over the rocks along the river. We climbed along the muddy shore as well through the river on the rocks. It was pretty shallow so it was certainly passable. We made it quite a way up but we didn’t want to get stuck in the woods after dark so we got to a good pool, soaked awhile and then headed back.

A giant toad was located – one seen on the way up and one on the way down. A photo is below and we’d love someone to identify it for us. It really was fearless. Barbara almost grabbed it climbing along the rocks and it didn’t move. When “poked” it gets on its back legs and puffs up – but doesn’t move.

Barbara got a few bites from something(s)– also unidentified.

Exhausted and invigorated from the adventure, we got back to the boat.

On Tuesday, we decided to head south to Basse Terre. Basse Terre is the capital and our plan was to anchor there for the night then head around the corner to Point a Pitre to get the hydraulic hose/system fixed to get the center board up. Now we’d have to treat ourselves like a deep draft vessel. We headed out, sailed for awhile until the wind started coming from the south. Flexibility was the theme of the day. We stopped at an anchorage, Anse a la Barque” thinking we’d stay there for the night as it was more protected than Basse Terre and there was a big swell. After getting in there – it was very deep and not much protection from the swell and a bit crowded with fishing boats on moorings. So we decided to continue to Basse Terre. As we headed south, the wind really picked up as did the seas, so we decided Basse Terre would be a really bad place to stay (there is absolutely no protection there). So we went back to Anse a la Barque. We tried anchoring there - FOUR times. The holding was terrible – we couldn’t get the anchor to hold. So, being flexible, we determined it was going to be a rocking night wherever – so we might as well have better holding in Basse Terre. So back we went. We started to look at the guide book seeing if there was anyplace else on the other side of the island closer to Point a Pitre.,,and we saw Ile de Sants was only 12 more miles from Basse Terre. So we chose to continue south to “The Saints.” This was on our plan – so we thought we’d do it now and then head to Point a Pitre for repairs.

The Saints are always listed on top ten charts of islands to go to. We missed them in 2001 so it was a definite must stop this time. There are several anchorages in the area – near the town or around other little uninhabited islands. We went by one – but it was crowded so we headed towards town. We tried anchoring here FOUR times as well. The holding was not great – and again, we’re in deep water. We finally got “stuck” in 40 feet of water – and we’re settled – though will probably move on Wednesday as we’re quite a way out.

It was a comfortable night – but a day of changing our plans multiple times. Flexibility.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Islands That Kiss the Clouds

On Friday we cleared out of Gustavia, St, Bart's for a Saturday departure. The weather was predicted to have 20 mile an hour easterlies and the seas would be about 6 feet. Our plan was to make a straight run for Guadeloupe - about 125 miles. If it was too rough or we changed our mind - we could stop into Basseterre in St. Kitts.

We left Gustavia and headed back to the Colombier Park (free mooring) and another hike. This time it seemed to take us straight uphill. We saw and heard a blue macaw - not native to the area - so it must have either escaped or been set free. It has a loud squawk. Michael tried to get it to talk - starting first in English and then switching to French - figuring we're on a French island. The bird simply squawked.

On Saturday, we left about 0830 in nice weather, put the main and headsail up with reefs and started sailing soon after we were clear of the mooring ball. Astarte loves to sail. We headed between Statia (St. Eustatius) and St. Kitts (St. Christopher) on a nice beam reach. This group of islands, Saba, Statia, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat and Guadeloupe are quite different in their topography. They are volcanic mountains (some still active like Montserrat) and their high elevation is lost in the clouds (thus the title of this entry). We never saw the top of the islands as we cruised past. They are quite lush and green and have many rivers and waterfalls. Many are agricultural and we saw cows and rich vegetation.

As we headed towards the cut between St. Kitts and Statia - the yell "fish on" went out. Michael instinctively went for the gear shift to slow the boat down - but we were sailing. So we headed into the wind a bit, let out the main and brought in a nice mahi. Not a huge one - but a four meal (8 serving) mahi. We're getting better at landing these - gaffing and tail looping it on board, Michael cleaned it and the line went back in. No further joy - but we were grateful for some free protein in the fridge!

We sailed through the night - passing Montserrat at night - and it may have had a dust plume - as there was a strong sulfur smell as we went by and a "squall" like disturbance on the radar. We did hit several squalls through the night - washing the decks and "freshening" the wind to mid-twenties. But we sailed! This was the first passage that we didn't turn the motor on the entire time and we pretty much had two tacks.

As daybreak came, we were near Deshaies (pronounced Day-hay) on the tip of Guadeloupe. Guadeloupe is a French island - and on our 2001 cruise - we never stopped here - so it was on our list this year. One of the toughest things to do is pick where to stop and what to skip. You can't see it all so choices have to be made. We thought of making the stop at St. Kitts - but the anchorage isn't great and there were storms predicted. Antigua and Barbuda are supposed to be gorgeous - but would require more easting and frankly, we're tired of crashing into seas and motoring. So we picked Guadeloupe as our "new" island to explore.

Guadeloupe is actually two islands, shaped like a lopsided butterfly. A river separates the two "wings." Whoever named the islands either was terribly confused or had a great wit. "Basse Terre" (low land) is actually the larger and most mountainous of the two. "Grande Terre" (large land) is smaller, flatter island. Grande Terre is the older island so perhaps the mountains eroded through time and the younger, more recently active Basse Terre may someday look like Grande Terre.

Agriculture (sugar cane), rum and tourism are the island's industries. The native Carib Indians called this island "Karukera" - Island of Pretty Waters. And with all the rivers, waterfalls and coastline - it's easy to see why. The island boasts the tallest waterfalls in the eastern Caribbean - hopefully we'll get to see them.

Deshaies is a picture postcard town. Nestled in the hills, with mist covered lush mountains surrounding it - it's a working fishing village It has good holding and we're anchored near the side of a hill - covered with trees, some rocks and lots of croaking frogs and birds. It's been a rainy, misty day all day long and as I'm writing this - a good rain shower is outside. We're collecting rain and should have two full containers by morning. There are about 20 boats in the anchorage. The Deshaies River comes into the bay and tomorrow - weather permitting we'll hike along the river to some waterfalls and perhaps stop at the Botanical Gardens which are supposed to be quite spectacular. We first have to find the gendarmes to clear into the country.

We also have a small mechanical issue. The centerboard on the boat is hydraulic and it seems to have a hose that's sprung a leak. When Michael put the board down for sailing, he thought he noticed something not feeling quite right. We anchored in deep enough water to have an issue - and when he checked it - sure enough - hydraulic fluid had leaked. So the board is stuck down and we'll have to find a mechanic to come to bleed the system as Michael doesn't have the spares (can you believe that???)or the experience to the job. More boat units!! (Remember the definition of cruising is fixing your boat in exotic locations).

Turtles identified: the turtles we saw in St. Bart's are "Green Turtles." We stopped at the National Park office in Gustavia and got some great information.

Another country - more miles under the keel and best of all, we are sailing again.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hiking St. Bart's Hills

First - a few new pictures on the web page including the turtle. No captions yet - internet connection very, very slow. Will caption at a later date. Go to web site then photos.

Wednesday, anchored back in Anse de Columbier, we took another long hike along the trail to Flammands. Once in the town we continued walking in search of a pay phone. It's interesting; the era of cell phones has made finding pay phones more difficult. We had no luck - but found some helpful people. In the search for phones we walked quite a way and up one big hill past the homes of the rich and perhaps, famous. There were some beautiful, architectural homes and resorts.

On Thursday (today), we decided that the weather had settled a bit and we might be able to leave on Friday, so we sailed back to Gustavia. We had hoped the roll would have settled and we anchor here and actually explore the city a bit more, find a phone and check out. As we entered the harbor, we passed a mega yacht (complete with helicopter on the back deck). We anchored, dinghied into town and walked. And walked. Up hills to what we thought was the fort (it was the gendarmes (police station); along the waterfront, up another hill to the lighthouse. We had lunch in a little café to get out of the rain. Town is mostly shops and shoppers. We decided to listen to weather again in the morning - because when we were on one of the many hills today -we looked out at the big water and it was very, very rough. All white caps and big seas - so we thought we may want to wait one more day. We'll most likely check out in the morning and head back to Colombier.

St. Bart's is where the rich and famous supposedly hang out. Barbara thought she spotted Gwenyth Paltrow on the beach - but it is an unconfirmed sighting. But one thing we did notice is that the rich and famous have "people" who do everything for them. When we were moored in Colombier, we watched a very large "tender" (the boat's dinghy) drop the boat owners off at the beach. At lunch they (their "people") returned with a large picnic hamper and shopping bag; and then later in the afternoon, returned yet again to pick up the folks. We decided the day at the beach probably cost at least 20 gallons of gas for the multi-engined dinghy! (And gas here is .98 Euro a liter - so about $4 a gallon). That doesn't include the cost of the "crew" and lunch (which was probably not bologna sandwiches!) Today, on the yacht with the helicopter, the tender came back to the boat with about six people on board. They all off-loaded and left the "people" take care of their shopping bags etc. We decided we need "people." But we probably first have to be rich and famous to be able to afford them. But it's been fun to watch and joke about it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Gustavia - Mega-yachts and Mega-rolley

Yesterday (Tuesday) we awoke to pink skies (you know the saying - "pink skies in the morning - sailors take warning.") And it was a squally morning. The first major tropical wave was making its presence felt. It was a well-defined wave (this is a level well below tropical storm/hurricane). The winds were coming in waves and through the night we had several rain storms as well. We left our protected little cove of Anse de Colombier and headed around the rocks to Gustavia - the capital of St. Bart's and where we needed to make our presence "official." It was a short sail/motor. The town is quite pretty as you make the turn into its harbor. Lovely red roofed homes cover the hills with narrow streets curving up the hills. They must do a lot of brake and clutch business here! Some homes are quite large (the homes of the rich and famous perhaps?)

As you enter the well-marked harbor of Gustavia, there are boats anchored on both sides leaving the large channel clear in the middle towards the commercial docks and splitting off to the right towards downtown. A pretty beach is on the port side and as we entered a group of small sailboats were out for a class…with many tipping over in the heavy wind. Hearty souls going out in that kind of wind in little boats! The anchorages on each side were very packed -many boats at anchor - some with two anchors out and some on moorings (private and municipal). We tried to find a spot closer to town on the starboard side of the channel - and tried one spot dropping our anchor - but with the breeze and heavy seas, we didn't feel comfortable as we were quite close to another boat and couldn't put out enough rode. So we pulled up the anchor and went to the port side of the port to see if there was anything there. We found a spot but quite far from town and it was very roll-ey. Boats were rocking and pitching with waves coming from all directions. We dropped the anchor and learned another lesson - as we let out more chain, we got to the rope sooner than we expected. So we let out all our chain and a fair amount of string (rope). We were sitting in 30 feet of water, it was really windy and we had seas, so that was a good thing.

We loaded the dinghy and headed to shore (unfortunately forgot the camera). We went by the mooring field close to town (looked like a boat parking lot with the boats neatly lined up very close together), the docks (actual sea walls) with the huge vessels tied stern to the sea wall and bow on a mooring ball. There was one very large, sleek navy blue sailboat on the wall. Its British flag was larger than our entire boat! It's a very busy, packed harbor - but the conditions were not very smooth on this day.

We went to Capitainerie to check in. All the guide books say that this place has "casual" check-in and that's putting it mildly. We filled out the paperwork. They never even looked at the passports or boat papers or our clearing out papers from St. Martins. They asked how many nights we would stay in Gustavia and we said none - that we would head back to Colombier. The cost - zero! We loved that. If you stay in the harbor you have to pay a fee for each night. Of course, we got no paperwork back saying we checked in - so things are quite lax.

We roamed around the town a bit. Gustavia, originally called Carenage, was re-named after the King of Sweden Gustav III, The tiny streets are filled with clothing stores, boutiques, jewelry stores, perfumeries etc. All catering to well moneyed folk. A few bars and restaurants were around. We found a boulangerie and picked up some chocolate croissants and salads for lunch (we'd take them back to the boat.) We headed back and got on board Astarte, pulled up the miles of anchor rode and chain and sailed out of Gustavia. We have to come back to clear out, and may stay a night if the weather calms.

We got back to Colombier and re-tied to a mooring - this time closer to shore. This anchorage filled up last night - mostly catamarans - seven cats and four monohulls. It was quite entertaining watching the boats come in and pick up the moorings. One charter boat would toss the line down on the mooring, trying to lasso it - a new technique that had a large failure rate!

It was a very windy and rainy night - we had to keep getting up to close hatches and re-open them. This tropical wave has made it quite humid - so the boat is warm. Today (Wednesday), we'll take another hike on shore.

WoW - waiting on weather!

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Stories from St. Barthelemy

It was a glorious, though breezy day, tied to a yellow mooring in the Marine Park in Anse de Colombier, St. Bart's. The anchorage emptied out this morning, leaving just a few boats. We enjoyed the last of the pastries bought in St. Martins and decided we needed to hike the hills surrounding us.

We loaded the dinghy, headed to shore and started to climb up the rocks and found a trail. It wove through carved out rock and was a well maintained trail with steps carved in the rocks. It overlooked beautiful windward water crashing on the rocks below. Ahead we could see charming red and green roofed cottages. Butterflies and some interesting cactus (including the Turk's Head - famous in Turks and Caicos) were along the path. Several people were walking in the opposite direction - heading to the beach in Anse de Colombier. At the end of the path was the little town of Flamandes. We strolled through a bit of it - to a small store where Michael bought a "ting" for one euro. (Ting is a popular drink around here - kind of a grapefruit flavored soda). We then turned around and walked back happy to find the boat and dinghy still in place.

The bay where we're anchored has many resident large turtles (still to be identified). Large and small they pop to the top to take some breathes before they dive back down. Michael was determined to get a good photo of one (for you Nina and Kathryn). But they tormented him all afternoon. If he saw one close to the boat, he didn't have the camera handy. When he saw them far away - he was ready - but they were too far. When he went to get a photo - they dove. It was like they knew they could drive him insane. You could almost hear the turtle laughs!! Finally, after many attempts, one came close enough and he was ready. (Photos to follow on web page when we get internet access.)

You can tell people who have been cruising long and those that are chartering for a few weeks. One way is the dinghy ride. You usually have to talk louder because of the outboard engine and the wind. Cruisers know how the voice carries. Charter boaters don't. It's always fun to listen in on the conversations in the dinghies as boaters go by. Michael was working on the deck re-tying some diesel jugs and a boat filled with "charter boaters" goes by and we can easily overhear them talking. "He must be getting ready to be Santa" they say and all chuckle. It seems Michael's beard is getting bushier and whiter as we continue the cruise. He proceeded to go below and put his whisker clippers on charge and later trimmed up the Santa beard. First he had to figure out how to do it on the boat where we don't have any mirrors that have sinks under them. He sat on a small stool in the aft cabin in front of a large mirror with a dishpan in his lap to catch the trimmings! It was quite a site (picture to follow).

Tomorrow we'll check in Gustavia. Looks like we'll be here for the rest of the week waiting for a weather window to head south. Not a bad place to be least in this lovely little bay.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day From St. Bart's

Today (Sunday) we left St. Martin's and headed about 25 miles to St. Barts (officially St. Barthelemy not Bart - "kowabunga dude" Simpson). It is a French island, a duty free port and as it's described in the guide book "the favored hot spot for the good looking, well-to-do, "in" crowd, sprinkled with a spattering of actors, singers and sports stars. It's the Riviera of the Caribbean." So what the heck are WE doing here???

We left the lagoon on St. Martin's at the 0815 bridge opening. It was a long line of boats ready to depart - so we all did the boat dance waiting for the bridge to open - going in circles and avoiding shoals and each other. We sailed for awhile around the island and then, as is the custom it seems, the wind came right on the nose, the seas built and we had another lumpy, slow crossing. Squalls kept popping up. But it was a short distance. We first checked out a little island off the main island - Isle Fourchue, but it was pretty crowded and we didn't see any mooring balls for our size boat. So we went another few miles and came into a nice bay "Anse de Colombier." Picked up a free yellow mooring ball (and got cheered by a French boat anchored nearby with about 16 people on board - as we got it on the first try!) We are officially in the marine park - much of the island is. Our greeting committee was a giant turtle. He keeps showing himself and we keep trying to get his picture. There are a few sea turtles in here of varying sizes.

A beautiful sunset ended our evening and the boats pretty much cleared out of the harbor. There are just seven left. The landscape is very hilly and rocky. We'll probably take a hike tomorrow. This country isn't too concerned about check-ins. They say you can make a few stops before you officially check in at Gustavia.

St. Barthelemy's is one of the "renaissance islands" (along with Anguilla and St. Martins.) Through time it's been traded and sold between the French and Swiss. It is now French. The Spanish also fought for it in the 1600's.

It prospered under the French in the 1600's and was a pirate's paradise with all the bays and coves. The most famous pirate was a Captain Montbars. (Even back them this was the place for the rich and famous!) He was a Frenchman who was horrified with what the Spanish had done to the native population and decided to avenge them - doing well while he did good. He took on an all indigenous crew (who were probably pretty ticked off at the Spanish - so they were fearless). He terrorized the Spanish and became known as "Montbars the Exterminator." He ended up taken in a hurricane (so the story goes) and perhaps his treasure sunk with him.

We never made it to St. Bart's on our last cruise - so this is all new to us and we'll probably spend a few days here in various places. It's supposed to be a charming island and who knows what rich and famous person we might see. We also will be waiting for a weather window to make the long day run down to St. Kitts and Nevis.

Warm wishes to all the mother's reading this and a special hug to ours - Genevieve and Trish!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

What DO You Do All Day????

That's the question we hear very often (after the pirates and guns question). Yesterday (Wednesday) was the perfect day to explain it. Everything you do on a boat takes five times longer than when you are at home. One friend the other day described it as "imagine going to the store on a lawnmower."

Our day started with a boat named "Best Friends" trying to be our new best friends. They had drug their anchor through the windy night and were just about hitting our boat. So there they were directly in front of us. This was a "charter with captain boat." If you ever plan to do that - be careful! The captain you get may be incompetent - like this guy. Without moving, he was simply going to drop another anchor. Barbara had a little chat explaining that they were too close, and nobody else had two anchors out, and they were right over our anchor and we would most likely be leaving sometimes that day. So he ignored her and motored the boat a little way away (with the first anchor still down) and dropped a second anchor. Over the course of the day, they managed to move one or another of their anchors and still managed to stay close enough that we could pass snacks (not that we wanted to!) At one point (after we had been gone off the boat for some time), the captain told Michael that he grabbed on a chain that's down there. That was most likely our anchor chain and we noticed that our snubber (the line with hook thing that gives the anchor chain some stretch) had been moved. So Michael had to get in the water and dive the anchor to make sure we were still hooked. As the day progressed, "Best Friends" kept dragging - closer and closer. Finally about 1500 they pulled both anchors and left. Thank goodness. After spending 45 minutes looking for a spot to re-anchor they went into the marina. And even then, didn't seem to have a good handle on how to do that!

We did some provisioning yesterday - the freezer was getting bare (no fresh fish caught) and we wanted to take advantage of the French cheeses. So back to "what do you do all day?" We got the outboard on the dinghy (this is a daily ritual - putting it on in the morning and taking it off at night); the dinghy unlocked from the boat (just like you'd lock your car at night) and got all our canvas bags and backpacks together to go to shore. Our grocery list was made; French-English dictionary in hand and off we went. Tied the boat to the dinghy dock and walked first to the fresh veggie market to check what was available and the prices. Then we hiked a few miles to the "Match" grocery store. Along the way we stopped at a few banks to get a cash advance as we didn't have enough Euros or dollars (they take both at the store - but the exchange rate isn't very good). We had no luck, so hoped the grocery would take a credit card.

We arrived at the store (after three stops at hardware stores looking for a new lock for the dinghy chain). This takes awhile as our French isn't that great. Luckily for many items - there is a picture on the label. So shopping takes awhile. Plus, we have to convert kilos to pounds so we can understand how much it costs (comparatively to the states). Then we convert Euros (everything is priced in Euros) to dollars. So every item takes a bit of time to decide if it will go in your basket. (Side bar: to use a grocery cart - with wheels/basket you have to pay .50 cents) Michael and I were each armed with a basket. Everything is an adventure and that's why we love this cruising life. So we had all our groceries and then waited in line. And waited. And waited. Two lines were open (one for 5 items or less). The checkout ladies chat with everyone going by and getting the line shortened is not a high priority. So that took awhile. You bag your own groceries, in your own bags (or it's a dollar for one of their heavy plastic bags). We were armed with cooler bags as well as the canvas and we loaded up. Each now armed with two bags and Michael had one heavy backpack - we headed back to the dinghy. Left Michael at the dinghy and Barbara went to the veggie market for some fresh stuff. Now fully loaded we pack the dinghy and head back to the boat. Once on the boat, we have to get rid of all the cardboard packaging and load the fridge. Might as well clean out the fridge before loading, so add a bit more time to the equation. So "what do you do all day?" is taken up by everyday activities.

We also sounded out Simpson Bay later to see how we get into it. We would be anchoring in the lagoon for the rest of our St. Martin visit. There is no "anchorage" fee in here and we'd save $4.50 a day. We decided to go in on the 1730 opening as the roll in Marigot was getting a bit larger. It's not quite as pretty and the water not quite as clear- but there is also no roll and we had several friends in the lagoon. To pass through the bridge, you simply que up on either side of the bridge and wait your turn. It opens at dedicated time (0815 1430 and 1730) and the outgoing vessels go first then the oncoming vessels. There were three vessels coming in and two going out on our opening. It's a tight squeeze through the bridge as its quite narrow so only one vessel at a time. People line up on the bridge and cheer you as you go through. We were newly anchored by 1815. It was a windy, squally night - but no roll.

The weather is keeping us here at least through Saturday or Sunday even though we are only planning to go to St. Bart's which is 15 miles away. But between here and there the seas are big (8-10 feet today) so we'll wait until they settle a bit.

Michael took off this morning on a run to Budget Marine with some fellow boaters and has been looking at some small outboards (used) from a few folks. We missed the big "cruisers" gathering last night as we were moving the boat into the lagoon. It's a buck beer, book trade and info sharing. We're sorry we missed it as we have lots of books to trade!

Oh and a final note on "what do you do all day?" - cruiser's midnight is 2100 (9pm).

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Exploring by Dinghy, Foot and Public Transportation

Imagine starting each day with a fresh chocolate croissant and café au lait! That's how our last two began. Yum! But not to worry about us get too fat - because that stop is followed by lots and lots of walking.

On Monday, we sent some new photos to the web page You can see them on the photo page. Unfortunately we lost our internet connection before they all got captioned - so you can see the stuff - (including a picture of the goat on the hill, Nina!) and we'll caption at the next opportunity.

We went in search of a new "back-up" outboard. Looking for a small 2 horse/2 stroke engine that's light and will get us to and from docks in an emergency. Because St.Martin is a duty free island - the deals can sometimes be pretty good. Unfortunately - after lots of dinghy stops and hikes to various places - there seems to be a small dinghy shortage on the island. There are two large marine stores and many smaller ones that we checked out. Plus dealers for Yamaha, Suzuki, Mercury and some off brands. We also were in search of a large lock to lock up the dinghy. This sent us in other directions - but we proudly found all the stores we were looking for. We went to the Dutch side as well as the French side of the island to search.

Stopped in the lagoon and saw our friends on Inspiration Lady and decided to join them for a trip to the other side of the island via public busses on Tuesday. Headed back to Astarte just in time before the heavy rain started. It was a squally night - Michael stayed up much of it checking the anchor and the other boats anchored nearby.

On Tuesday morning, we met Jackie and Gary from Inspiration Lady (at that chocolate croissant place) then caught a bus to the Dutch side. Its $2 per person each way - not a bad price as it's pretty far. We then roamed along the waterfront. There were no cruise ships in (it's not season according to our new friends Al and Troy who have a beer stand and Rastafarian souvenir shop on the beachfront.) Beers were a buck - so we had to stop - plus they had comfy chairs and they were filled with great information about the island. Michael and Gary also proceeded to hit every store (and there are lots of stores) that sold computers. Gary was looking for one of those small laptops and the prices seemed pretty great. So Michael and Gary would work over the sellers… (Michael's thinking having one on the boat is also a good idea - much lighter to take to shore for internet cafes.) Anyway - they got he price down (along with lots of extras thrown in) - now they just have to decide if one or both of them really want it! But it was fun to have a mission.

We ate lunch at a great small local establishment - food was good, service was fun. Then walked some more and then caught a bus back to Marigot. Saw a lot and enjoyed the day with Gary and Jackie.

We got back in time to get stuck in a pretty heavy rainstorm. But made it back to the boat a little wet and tired - but all is good.

Happy Cinco de Mayo (an excuse to have Mexican food and beer!)

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Exploring by Dinghy, Foot and Public Transportation

Imagine starting each day with a fresh chocolate croissant and café au lait! That's how our last two began. Yum! But not to worry about us get too fat - because that stop is followed by lots and lots of walking.

On Monday, we sent some new photos to the web page You can see them on the photo page. Unfortunately we lost our internet connection before they all got captioned - so you can see the stuff - (including a picture of the goat on the hill, Nina!) and we'll caption at the next opportunity.

We went in search of a new "back-up" outboard. Looking for a small 2 horse/2 stroke engine that's light and will get us to and from docks in an emergency. Because St.Martin is a duty free island - the deals can sometimes be pretty good. Unfortunately - after lots of dinghy stops and hikes to various places - there seems to be a small dinghy shortage on the island. There are two large marine stores and many smaller ones that we checked out. Plus dealers for Yamaha, Suzuki, Mercury and some off brands. We also were in search of a large lock to lock up the dinghy. This sent us in other directions - but we proudly found all the stores we were looking for. We went to the Dutch side as well as the French side of the island to search.

Stopped in the lagoon and saw our friends on Inspiration Lady and decided to join them for a trip to the other side of the island via public busses on Tuesday. Headed back to Astarte just in time before the heavy rain started. It was a squally night - Michael stayed up much of it checking the anchor and the other boats anchored nearby.

On Tuesday morning, we met Jackie and Gary from Inspiration Lady (at that chocolate croissant place) then caught a bus to the Dutch side. Its $2 per person each way - not a bad price as it's pretty far. We then roamed along the waterfront. There were no cruise ships in (it's not season according to our new friends Al and Troy who have a beer stand and Rastafarian souvenir shop on the beachfront.) Beers were a buck - so we had to stop - plus they had comfy chairs and they were filled with great information about the island. Michael and Gary also proceeded to hit every store (and there are lots of stores) that sold computers. Gary was looking for one of those small laptops and the prices seemed pretty great. So Michael and Gary would work over the sellers. (Michael's thinking having one on the boat is also a good idea - much lighter to take to shore for internet cafes.) Anyway - they got he price down (along with lots of extras thrown in) - now they just have to decide if one or both of them really want it! But it was fun to have a mission.

We ate lunch at a great small local establishment - food was good, service was fun. Then walked some more and then caught a bus back to Marigot. Saw a lot and enjoyed the day with Gary and Jackie.

We got back in time to get stuck in a pretty heavy rainstorm. But made it back to the boat a little wet and tired - but all is good.

Happy Cinco de Mayo (an excuse to have Mexican food and beer!)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Bonjour from St. Martin

Well it's been a busy few days for S/V Astarte and crew. We last left you in Coral Bay in St. John's US Virgin Islands. We are now anchored in Marigot Bay on the French side of St. Martins(French side)/Sint Maartens (Dutch side). What a great combo - wine, cheese and pastries on the French side; chocolates, beer and efficiency on the Dutch side.

This island is half French and half Dutch. There is a charming story about how it was divided - though not based on any known fact. The tale goes that the French and Dutch were so civilized, that instead of fighting for boundaries on the island they settled the land division in an interesting way. Each armed with their favorite beverage -the Frenchman with a bottle of red wine and the Dutchman with a flask of gin started on opposite ends of the island. They would walk towards each other and where they met would be the boundary line. As gin is a stronger beverage than the wine, the Frenchman made it further and therefore the French side is a bit larger. Good story - even if it's not true!

Anyway, back to the tale of Astarte. We left Coral Bay at noon as planned and actually thought (hoped) we were going to sail the whole way. It started out terrific - we were flying with sails up, motor off and pretty much on our planned course. But that didn't last too long. The wind shifted more and more on the nose and we had to tack further and further off the course line - making little headway. So we started the engine back up and motor sailed. The seas also started quite mild and we were feeling pretty lucky as the Anegada is known to be a rough passage. (Remember it's nicknamed the "oh-my-god-ah." ) But then.the calm seas changed. The swells picked up as did the wind chop and it ended up being a rocking and rolling night. Waves coming from varied directions and making headway got very slow. It was also a wet ride with waves splashing over the decks. Astarte is one salty boat again - and after all that nice rain that cleaned everything off. We also had no joy on the fishing front - skunked(except for the very small flying fish we found on deck after we anchored).

We got lots of boat bites from the trip! Barbara ached the entire next day from the movement (and she has one heck of a bruise on her arm from being tossed in the berth - (no not what you're all thinking!)). But we got in - slower than anticipated and we were anchored around 0915 in a crowded Marigot Bay. But it's large - with plenty of room. A large turtle makes his home nearby as we've seen him several times popping up around the boat, but too quick for pictures. This place is also home to some very large, luxury yachts - sail and motor. We're anchored near a 65 footer that has a crew on board with the owners. They are out cleaning the stainless hourly! (we're still waiting for our invite for sundowners!!)

Back to Saturday morning. We cleaned up quickly, got the dinghy and Yoshi off the boat and had to clear into the country. Our yellow flag was flying. Being Saturday, we knew the customs office wasn't going to be open long. We made it in around 1100 and the office closes at noon - so that was good. This ended up being more expensive than we anticipated - as they now charge to anchor in Marigot. Plus there is a clearing in fee - that wasn't there in 2001. Times change and each of these islands are struggling in a tough economy - with tourism down.

The set-up is interesting here with the two countries and various places to anchor. There is a lagoon in the middle - half French and half Dutch. The Dutch side charges, the French side doesn't. There are two bridges (one French, one Dutch) that open to let boats in and out. The Dutch bridge charges and the French doesn't. They open at specific times, so it's fun to watch the boat parades as they come and go at opening time.

This is a duty-free island. So you can get some deals here. The currency is the Euro - though US dollars are also accepted. The exchange rate varies from store to store, restaurant to restaurant. In some of the marine stores you get a discount for US dollars and if you pay in cash. They have two large marine stores here - not that we need much. We are thinking of a small 2 horse outboard as a back-up.

This morning (Sunday) we walked all over - went to the town of Phillipsburg and roamed around. Had lunch at a small local eatery - it was tasty - Michael having curry, Barbara enjoying a Cornish hen. We tried using some phone cards to make calls - hopefully we'll have more success later. We did go by some tasty looking patisseries.we'll have to go back to them later. We found the big supermarket- but it wasn't well stocked being Sunday. We picked up a few items and will do more provisioning later in the week.

We'll head back into town later to make calls or find a patisserie for a treat (one had wireless so maybe we'll bring the computer). We've also heard from "Inspiration Lady," some friends we met in Georgetown and again in Provo who are anchored in the lagoon (free French side). We'll get together with them later to perhaps do an island tour. It is nice to keep reconnecting with ships passing each other through the various islands.

May 3, 2009