Friday, May 28, 2010

St Martin / Leeward Island Sailing!!

I know, this trip was not on Glory Days....but here is our report for the 10 day trip on our Moorings 4300 Catamaran Charter - "Retirement Fun"

This may seem alittle disjointed because I posted it as daily installments on my regular blog...


Finished packing for our St. Martin trip!!! As usual, I've packed the kitchen sink.

Believe it or not - this morning there were 4 bags!! I whittled it down to the "bare essentials"!

I don't know where we'll have internet coverage on the different islands, so I may have to catch up with you on May 26th when we return. We will leave at about 4:30AM in the morning for the airport with Dick and Lindy. Robert and Richard will hold down the fort around here as usual.

Pat and Diane are already on "Island Time", having left this morning. Sharon and Buddy will fly down Friday morning. We'll board the boat on Friday afternoon and be off sailing in the Leeward Islands!!!! Wish us Fair Winds and Following Seas!

Finally found internet that I could use to start uploading some photos.

We all had good flights from RDU to St. Martin. Rental cars and first night rooms were a breeze.

Island traffic is always interesting - the drivers all seem to zig and zag around each other but it seems to work for them.

Our room for the first night was at the Coralita Apts. Lindy found it on the internet - it was just a mile away from the marina and was actually part of the owner's house. Her name was Maryse - a very nice French lady. We'll be staying there the last night also.

This was our first view of our Moorings charter boat. Her name is Retirement Fun. And fun she is!!

The first night there, Buddy and Sharon had not arrived - dinner at the Dinghy Dock restaurant. Very good and lots of fun.

Here's a view of our little French room. The next morning we went to a little French restaurant that advertised breakfast. We sat down and asked what was on the menu? The reply in very nice French accented English - was bread and jam or bread and butter. So we had a very buttery crossant.

This is the view from our little apt. A bit stormy - beautiful grounds.

Checked out of our room and parked our rental car in the parking lot with the keys in it (that's how they told us to leave it!)

Now down to serious boat business! Capt Duane had to go thru all the boat inventory to make sure we had all the items necessary for our voyage. Here Lindy is helping him count our life jackets - definitely want to have one for each of us!!

Then it was a mad rush of grocery shopping (just $600 worth!! - hey it's 11 days of food for 8 people). Then Sharon and Buddy arrived at the airport - everything all settled for the next morning departure for St. Barts!

Once everything was "ship-shape" we started to relax a bit. A little double-solitare...

And some more relaxing.....

And more relaxing....

And more we're starting to get the idea!!

The time has come to leave St. Martin! Moorings requires that one of their Captains pilot the boat out of the very tight marina.

Once out of the marina, the Moorings Captain leaves the boat - while another pilot boat "leads the way" out a very tricky channel. This photo does not do it justice! It was a narrow, rock channel. I'm glad they do this service!! It would be bad to start your vacation with a damaged boat!!

After a lively little sail, be stopped at small island that is part of St. Barts - Ile Fourche. It has a lovely secluded bay that was calm compared to the rough seas we had on the short passage.

We anchored and had a nice lunch - then several of us went for a little snorkle onto shore.

Not much on shore except some cool vegitation - and alot of sea glass!! I could have spent hours looking, but I forgot to put sun screen on and felt that I couldn't stay out long.

On the way back, Duane saw something on the bottom (about 15 ft) that he wanted to see up close - so he dives down to look -- I can't do this - it hurts my ears - plus I can't hold my breath very long.

Back on the boat and a short sail on over to St. Barthelemy.

A beautiful little French town - Gustavia is the capital. Duane had to clear customs for all of us before we could go on shore. He had a little "commedy of errors" - first he took all the documents, passports, etc. and cash to pay for the entrance fees. Turns out they only take Euros or credit he got in the dinghy to come back to the boat - and the motor dies halfway thru the anchorage! He does everything he can to get it started, but it won't. Luckily, he drifted near someone else's boat and they started up their dinghy and towed him back to our boat. So, Pat and Duane worked on the motor a bit - and they both went back to shore to customs....that task accomplished - on their way back - the dinghy motor died again! Nothing they could find would re-start it. And we all know they're pretty good mechanics....Again - they got a tow back to our boat. We called Moorings and they sent someone who repaired it. So far, so good!

A really lovely little town.

There was a trans-atlantic race that had sailed in recently. Cool boats.

Crowded little streets, but neat and tidy.

Had drinks at a little French "cheeseburger in paradise" place (that sounds a little contradictory doesn't it??)

Off to the Federation of Nevis tomorrow!!
I won't talk about the sail over from St. Barts to Nevis other than to say that it was a little wild! Ten foot seas, 25 knot+ winds, up and down the rolling seas!

In the midst of that - Pat hooked a fish!!

It was exactly the fish we had told him we wanted!!! A beautiful Mahi Mahi!! It was a truely beautiful fish! Interesting to see the colors change as he perished....

Duane and Pat made quick work of the fileting in some pretty rough seas. Wow, the filets were huge!!

Approaching Nevis the seas leveled out a bit and everyone was a little happier!
Yep, relaxed!!!

Approaching Nevis....near Charlestown - we had to raise the"Q" (quarantine) flag and stay on board until the following morning when customs opened.

More relaxing getting ready to cook our fish!

See what I mean about relaxing?

Fun in the galley.

I believe this is the biggest fillet I've ever handled. A bit of butter and seasoning - the grill is hot!

Pat the master griller!


Sharon made some yummy rice pilaf - we had the fixings for a nice salad and homemade dressing, grilled a fresh pineapple. Wow. Wonderful. Never tasted better!

Coffee set up for the morning!!

Approaching Nevis we went thru a little rain - and saw a beautiful full rainbow!

Duane and I went into the capitol city - Charlestown - to clear customs. A very frustrating 2.5 hours Customs - then Immigration (blocks away) - then back to the Port Authority - then back to Customs....but all is well and we'll move away from Charlestown to a beautiful bay - Oualie Beach.

Had a great meal at the Oualie Beach Resort. I had a great Chicken Roti - a Indian spiced tortilla wrapping a mixture of veggies and chicken. Served with chutney and hot sauce.

Pat chatted up the locals, as usual....
Neat, almost deserted beach bar.

We were going to go on a hike, but the local divemaster told us that there really weren't any places that we could actually go (even though the guide map said there was)....while we were debating, a taxi van pulled into the parking lot. Pat investigated and found that we could get an island tour for just $10 each! So, we all hopped in the van and away we went!!

Our driver was nicknamed "Teach" - I had actually read about him on the internet before we came down - lucky to find him out of all the taxis! He was a TERRIFIC tour guide! (A former teacher - and it showed in his knowledge of the island.)

He took us to several old sugar plantations that have now been turned into extremely expensive resorts.
I'll just let you page thru and take the tour with me!!

One of the last stops was a hot spring that the locals use to bathe. It apparently is warmed from the volcanic activity still in the island. It was actually TOO hot - just a short hop in left your feet tingley and red.

The best $10 each spent in a long time!!

Back to the boat for more relaxing of course. Time for hamburgers on the charcoal grill. (Turkey for me, of course). Very yummy!

Pat had lost his only lure after he caught the mahi-mahi (a really big one got away!!!) While he was at the Oualie Beach Resort, he was chatting with a fellow at the bar. The fellow volunteered to make him a new lure. Ture to his word, Pat went back later and picked it up. Neat - we hope to fish on our next big sail!

In for the night and a big game of Rummy - no Karen didn't win!

I have seen some beautiful sunrises! Pink sails didn't really mean "Sailors take warning" today. It was a lovely day!

We set sail for St. Kitts - the boys all pitch in to raise the sails. A good day - just right - winds/waves were perfect.

See? a relaxing sail - couldn't have done this on the sail from St. Barts to Nevis!!

Approaching St. Kitts - we don't have to clear in to customs here because St. Kitts and Nevis are in the same Federation. Thank goodness - a little sour on that process right now!!

We decided to spring for a couple of days in a marina to do some land-based exploring without having to use the dinghy. "Truckie" is the dockmaster - he and his assistants got us situated and plugged into air conditioning!!

Then we were off to explore Basseterre. It's English - and it shows in some of the buildings.

We had lunch at Ballyhoo's - I had fish cakes - yum!

Sharon had the Roti - we shared both and they were delish!!

We wandered around just to see the town. Lovely and the people are so nice!

Back to the boat....

For relaxing before dinner

The girls listening to the same thing on the Ipod

Out to dinner - the Hayes in there matching shirts

We are happy at the St. Kitts dock with air conditioning and easy access to the boat. So another day was spent touring St. Kitts.

We hired "Junie" with his minivan to drive us around the much larger St. Kitts island. So, 9AM sharp we set out for our adventure. We drove thru lots of little neighborhoods - true to the image I've always had of the Caribbean.

Beautiful plants all around. I'm sure it takes lots of effort - but it looks like it just grows this way unattended.

Junie drove us to the top of "Brimstone Hill" - a fort from long ago.

We toured the interesting ruins - Sharon caught me being a bit silly....

All the school children wear uniforms - a neat custom...

Gorgeous "black rocks" - the photo doesn't do it justice - the water was sooooo blue.

Lunch was at a beach bar - I spied Pat getting a message from a local character. Some sort of con - to start with....but Pat turned it into a fun episode, of course!

Silly shot of Dick and Lindy - doesn't Dick look lovely with Lindy's purse?? Nice legs, Dick.

Getting ready for dinner out.

Couple photos - everybody groans when I pick up the camera now!

Except Buddy when he can get a girl on each side, of course!

We had a nice meal out - Sharon received a special gift from her beau....she'll have to post about that herself!! On to St. Eustatia next....

Also known as "Statia"'s the next island north of St. Kitts.

A nice sail....we deserved it after the rough sails earlier!

Strangely, Statia is a major "oil transshipment depot" for crude oil. It didn't bother us -

All the activity is at one end of the island, leaving the rest untouched.

After a super-easy customs/immigration experience with the Dutch officers we went for a nice snorkel.

We were all a little tired - went to the closest restaurant on shore - The Blue Bead Restaurant. Apparently, in the time of slavery, the locals used pretty blue beads as "money". When they were emancipated, the legend goes that they threw all the beads off the cliffs into the bay. So now, they do scuba dives to search for the beads in the sand - and actually find them quite often!

We enjoyed the meal - lots of pasta and some really good pizza! Mine had yummy cheese - sundried tomatos, red peppers, regular tomatoes, and black olives.

Back to the boat - up early the next morning, as usual.

The agenda today was to climb to the top of the volcano! We paid for our park passes and headed up, up up!!

Rooster on the way....

We walked thru the town, to the outskirts, then up the "Quill Path" (Quill is the name of the dormant volcano).

Strangely, we saw large hermit crabs all over the pathway - so many that we had to be careful where we stepped. We were a good couple of miles from the water at this point.

One of them got tired of waiting on us hidden in his shell - and scampered away...

Interesting to have "automatic lawnmowers!"

Hot and sweaty on the trail to the top!

Orchids hung all over the place in crooks and crannies. Too bad none were in bloom.

We were cautioned to look out for snakes. Dick spotted this one. We actually saw two more.

Almost to the top. Here you can actually see the ancient crater of the volcano.

It was extremely steep in places - they had provided some ropes to help in some of the steepest areas.

Ahh the view from the top. Overlooking the harbor where our boat is anchored.

An hour or so later, we were back to the quaint little town of Oranjestad. Very friendly people.

View of the harbor from the top of the cliffs.

Back on the boat - snack of French sausage, a French cheese and some Finish caviar.

Here's a nice view of Quill - the volcano we hiked to the top point on the left, I think!

Relaxing on the boat.....

Dinner was some spaghetti and salad - a nice change that we all enjoyed.

Relaxing after the meal on the deck....lots of star gazing and a little singing (and you know mine was quite off-key!!!)

Anguilla is beautiful!!! Almost no tourists to be seen. A couple of boys playing with wooden sailboats in the crystal clear water at Road Bay.

Diane and Pat wanted to go to Blanchard's - a fancy restaurant that we all had read a book about. (OK, mostly Diane wanted to go, but Pat was a sport...)

The rest of us went to Elvis's Beach bar. No, not the King - but Elvis from Anguilla!

Amazingly, we spied the same lady that we had seen days earlier in Nevis! She's just island hopping on her own.

Elvis posed with all of us behind his bar. Had wonderful fresh snapper sandwiches on the beach by moonlight.

The next morning, Dick made something that sounds a little weird - pickled herring, eggs and rum. Fabulous!!

Wandered around Anguilla - mostly looking for a grocery to restock some supplies. We were finally successful. Back to the boat to head back to St. Martin. The trip seemed to accelerate at this point! Running out of time!

Anchored in the bay at Marigot - the French side capital. A little more "touristy" than where we have been so far. Got ushered in to a couple of little restaurants on the main drag for lunch.

Great meals - again surprisingly inexpensive - about $10 per plate!

More fun in the dinghy....

Next we took a short motor up to Grand Case - another more touristy place....but fun. Went to Calmos Cafe - a little beach bar. Nice sign - a different take on the No Shirt No Shoes No Service....

Dinner that night was at a little street restaurant that they call LoLos. This plate was $8 US and one dollar beers. Amazing. I don't mean for it to sound like we're cheap'o's ....but the food was fantastic, the setting fabulous - I'm still amazed!

Here is the "kitchen"....these ladies worked hard!! And were so cheerful and helpful!

See how all this vacationing is hard work???

See, what did I tell you - hard work!!

Oh,,,,almost is the entrance channel back into Moorings. Uneventful flights home! Now to the next adventure!!!!