Thursday, January 26, 2012

Day 200- Sandy Island, Carriacou

We've found what we hoped this part of the trip would bring.  A small remote island with beautiful beaches and great snorkeling that is not over run with boats.  Carriacou is low key and a little more off the beaten path compared to the Grenadines (Union Island, Tobago Cays and Bequia).  Though the scenery is just as spectacular, the boat activity isn't as frenzied which makes the experience much more pleasant.  Carriacou is an island off the country of Grenada. It is very clean and people seem to have much pride for their island.  They are known for the building of beautiful, fast, wooden sailing sloops that are raced throughout the Caribbean.  The boats are built using very basic and simple tools; tape measure, framers square, chain saw and power plane.  They construct these 40+ ft boats on the beach and launch them by sliding them into the water.
The pelicans here like to fish where we snorkel.  They seem to appreciate the abundance of fish as much as we do.  It is very cool, though a little unnerving, to have a pelican dive into the water within a few feet and see them actually catch the fish under water.  Sandy Island has been a great place to spend three days, it ranks high among our favorite places on the trip so far.

Union Island fruit stand

Jamming with the mural

Union Island

Carriacou boat building in progress

Sandy Island

Sandy Island

Sandy Island
Sandy Island

Friday, January 20, 2012

Day 194- Clifton, Union Island

The last week has been spent snorkeling, snorkeling and then snorkeling some more.  The Tobago Cays and Mayreau are amazing islands and would of been even more spectacular had there been about a hundred or so fewer boats.  Although a large number of boats in a small area provided entertaining 'harbor theater'.  We were exposed to a variety of new and intriguing anchoring techniques.  We're also sharing our experience with a few mega super yachts like Eclipse, currently the biggest private yacht at over 500ft, and Rising Sun, just below 500ft but in the top ten of largest.  Eclipse had a fancy helicopter on one of the landing pads and reported amenities are a submarine and missile defense system.
Even though the windy conditions caused less than ideal water visibility, snorkeling was a blast.  We saw many turtles.  Pablo even had one come right up to his face to check him out.  Pablo is always happy in windy conditions as the wind generator is keeping the batteries topped off and the water maker making plenty of water.
We met up with the crew of sv Dilly Dally, sv Gaiamar and sv Arwen for a lobster BBQ on the beach.  Much fun was had by all especially the pack of kids running around.
We arrived in Union Island this morning to the first fairly reliable (my expectations are very low at this point) internet access in about a week.  Union looks interesting, so looking forward to exploring the local scene here.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Day 188- Brittania Bay, Mustique

We've spent the last week exploring Bequia and Mustique.  Both are part of the country St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  We were drawn to the Grenadines by descriptions of small isolated islands with beautiful crystal clear water.  Bequia was busier than we expected with many yachts and tourist shops.  It still surprises us how different the islands can be from one to another.   The feel of Bequia was very different from St. Lucia and certainly not like the French islands.   Bequia has many small local businesses, no big stores or franchises like St. Lucia.  Mustique, on the other hand, is a private island, and reminds me a little of a tropical Carmel, CA, with a small number of large villas. It is owned by a company that seems to control most of the businesses and the employees that are brought in to work here.  The movie Truman Show came to mind as we walked around.   The anchorages tend not to be as protected from swell so we're trying to get used to rolly conditions at anchor.  We celebrated Remi's 8th birthday.  The cake was successful though it almost over flowed the shallow pan a few times before I got it into the gimballed oven.  Julia from, sv Arwen, introduced the girls to a great German party game, involving rolling dice, getting dressed in hat, scarf and mittens, while trying to unwrap a chocolate bar that has many layers of paper on it.  Pablo found a bar that was willing to turn on the Steelers-Broncos game last week and now has also found a spot to try to watch the Patriots play tonight.  American football is unheard of down here and kind of a curiosity when on.  Locals are friendly and want to know what it is all about.

The birthday girl
Trying to get a the chocolate!

The view from Lisa's, our favorite hang out in Mustique

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Day 181- Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Initially we were going to by pass St. Lucia and go directly to the Grenadines but are once again unexpectedly glad we stopped.  In fact, we've decided to stay a few extra days.  There are a lot of cruisers here so we've had a chance to catch up with old and new friends.  This is the first place we've been to with such a high concentration of cruisers.  There even is a local cruisers radio net every morning where people make connections, sell items and plan events.  Very entertaining and interesting.
Rodney Bay is a bit of a zoo, which is fun in limited doses.  We are anchored in front of a Sandals resort and watch the people attempt a wide variety of water sports all around our boat.  There are water skiers, windsurfers, paddle boarders, para sailors, hobie cats, jet skis and paddle boats.  The entertainment value is high.  Many American franchises seem to be represented at the mall and the grocery store is just like Shaws at home except for $9 bags of corn chips.  We found the bustling local fruit market in Castries, the capital city, more to our liking.
Below are a few rainbow photos.  We've seen a lot of these as it rains often.  The rain is nice in some ways, it rinses salt off us and the boat but also requires us to close up the boat in a mad rush regularly.

Low rainbow in Martinique

St. Pierre rainbow

Rodney Bay rainbow
Remi got her horse back riding fix; the horses here like bananas instead of apples and carrots.

And Mia even got a turn to ride when the horses went for a swim

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Day 178- Le Marin, Martinique

The free wifi access has been very limited in Martinique. I kept assuming that good wifi was around the corner and I would post a blog with photos but have given up on that. We explored 5 different towns/anchorages in Martinique. St. Pierre had a wonderful fruit and vegetable market where we got avocados, pineapples, carrots, papaya, mangoes and what we thought were potatoes. When I cut into them they were rock hard, and basically just cracked. I boiled them like a potato and they remained rock hard. When I have internet access will have to research what they are and how to cook them. They look just like small new potatoes, if anyone knows what they are let me know, so that I can use them before they go bad. Grande Anse D'Arlet was my favorite anchorage. We spent two days swimming and snorkeling in crystal clear water and playing on a beautiful beach. Le Marin, a major yachting city, was a great place to provision for food and boat supplies. It may be the most modern place we see for the next month. Leader Price, a big supermarket, even had its own dingy dock! We're underway to St. Lucia and it is getting a little too rolly for writing. Really hoping we'll have better internet access in the next few days.
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Grande Anse D'Arlet

Flowering banana trees in a yard

Beach restaurants in Grande Anse D'Arlet

The anchorage in Grande Anse D'Arlet

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

We spent a lovely New Year's Eve with the crew of sy Arwen, a German cruising family. We had a nice view of fireworks from Anse Mitan, a small resort town in Martinique that is described as on the decline, but we have not seen so many people or activity since the states. This is probably more of an indication on the type of places we have visited so far than anything else. After exploring Martinique for the last three days we find a funny mixture of very modern French society and Caribbean funk. For example, lots of new expensive looking European cars on primitive pot holed, narrow roads. So far the prices are not as inexpensive as Guadeloupe but we're hoping to provision in a bigger city and find less expensive markets. We've run into two English speaking locals and are having to rely on our less than stellar French speaking abilities. The wifi access has been minimal so will have to post pictures when it is available again.
After reflecting on 2011, we realize how much we've enjoyed our adventure so far. We've traveled about 3800 nautical miles, through 10 states, 7 countries and have connected with incredible people along the way. But ironically we are only about a 4 hour flight from Boston. Experiencing regular life in different cultures rather than as a tourist in a resort has been rewarding. Though, no doubt, there have been moments when we envy people, with their soft dry towels, taking unlimited showers at a whim and using unlimited power for gadgets. Having to function using the local services, which to us are often set up in a very foreign and baffling manner, has been both intriguing and challenging. Though we're not exactly sure what 2012 will bring our way we're looking forward to more adventures, time with family and enjoyable experiences.
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A squall on the way to Martinique

Fresh fish at the market

St. Pierre market

St. Pierre

St. Pierre