Thursday, December 31, 2015

Boats We See

We see some very interesting boats here in the Caribbean. Not only are there lots of private yachts from Europe and lots of charter boats, but there are lots of passenger ships.

We saw this Dutch beauty, Stad Amsterdam, the other day in Rodney Bay. Launched in 2000, she won the Cutty Sark Tall Ships Race the next year. Today she carries passengers on sailing cruises around the Atlantic and Caribbean. 

Just this morning we saw the Royal Clipper, the largest and only five masted sailing ship in the world. She carries 227 passengers in gracious luxury. Wouldn't it be fabulous to see it under sail?

Also in port is the Wind Star. We actually met two of the passengers at a restaurant and had a nice visit with them this afternoon.

And then a few days ago we saw the Queen Mary II. At 1132' long and carrying 2600 passengers, she is the largest true ocean liner, regularly making cruises from England to New York. She too is quite new, being launched and christened by Queen Elizabeth herself in January 2004.

We never saw anything like these ships in the Pacific Ocean or in and around Mexico and Central America. That's just one of the things that makes the Caribbean so interesting.

Pigeon Island

There is an old fort on Pigeon Island here in Rodney Bay. You can see its remains in the photo above. The other day we went for a walk there. If you park your dinghy at the "Jambe de Bois" restaurant which is inside the park, you simply walk over to the entrance gate, pay the fee, and you're free to walk all over the park.

It's quite a steep walk to the top, but once there you are rewarded with a 360 degree view. Most days you can see Martinique off to the North. One can see why this fort proved so important in the historic sea battles of this area. Above, you see the man-made causeway that now connects Pigeon Island with the rest of St. Lucia. 
There are some old cannons and the old magazine is still there too.
Our boat is out there somewhere.

Back down on the grounds of the national park, there are ruins of the old barracks, the officers' barracks, kitchens, and other support buildings.

St. Lucia has been a very enjoyable place to visit.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Day Aboard the Prinsendam

While the Prinsendam, at 675' and carrying around 1300 people, might seem like an odd buddy boat, we have been following it on for weeks and anticipating its arrival here in St. Lucia with high excitement because our good friends Wayne and Sheila are aboard.

We met Wayne and Sheila way back in El Salvador and buddy boated down the Central American coast and through the Panama Canal together. Then at Lintón we parted ways but kept in touch as they made arrangements to board the Prinsendam.

They have been aboard for a couple of months now, but not as passengers. Sheila is head nurse for the medical team and Wayne rides for free, but helps with the shore tours on a volunteer basis. They invited us aboard as their guests for the day and what a day it was!

We were allowed onto the bridge and even met the Captain. (That's one of the third officers explaining the security camera system to Malcolm.) We could even see our little boat anchored below the bridge. It sure looked small from up there. We toured the whole ship and everyone was very welcoming and generous with their time.

My favorite part was my pedicure, but Lele kept telling me my feet were so dry. If she only knew how badly I abuse and neglect them she'd be horrified. 

Undoubtedly Malcolm's favorite part was the Boddingtons and burger. In fact, lunch wasn't the only meal we ate while aboard. They insisted we have a second breakfast when we first arrived.

What with the breakfast, ship tour, presents, champagne, lunch, and non-stop catching up, the day passed much too quickly and before we knew it, it was time to go.
Shortly after we arrived back at our little boat, the Prinsendam reeled in its dock lines, gave three mighty hoots, and sailed out of the harbor with all of us waving madly. Safe seas my friends. Hope to see you again soon.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Breakfast Tradition

We have a tradition in our family of serving Eggs Benedict for breakfast on Christmas morning. I don't remember our parents doing this, so I guess it's something Malcolm and I started. No matter where we are or what the situation, we make a point to do this. Not only are Eggs Benedict delicious, but they stick to your ribs and see you through until dinner.

Although I had to make my own English Muffins and we couldn't find Canadian Bacon, we managed to have Eggs Benedict here on the boat in St. Lucia.

It didn't quite compare to these that I made back in 2007...
or these that we had in 2008 at the cabin in the snow, but they were pretty good nonetheless.

Another Christmas tradition is gifts, of course. Malcolm must have been a very good boy this year because Santa gave him an expensive gift. It's a $200 bumper that came floating by about 8:00am. (No name, no logo, looks like flotsam to me.) Malcolm says, "Thank you Santa!"

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Night Before Christmas Caribbean Style

'Twas the night before Christmas when all through the bay, the charter boats' music was thumping away.
The tradewinds were howling at twenty five knots, and wind generators were pumping out watts.
The barnacles were blooming all over our hull, the top sides were spotted and chalky and dull.
The captain lay sweating on the starboard settee cursing the outrageous mooring ball fee.
The first mate was equally preoccupied, wondering why the bilge pump had just died.

Then up on the deck there came a loud rap, disturbing the liveaboards' well deserved nap.
When a voice said, "Hey Cap'n, Hey Cap'n, Whaz Happnin?"
The desperate crew froze, and hoped he'd leave, I suppose.
But this one was a very persistent sort, he sidled along 'til he came to a port.
They pretended to snore and thought they could hide, but the obnoxious boat boy was peeking inside!

More rapid than needle fish his offers they  flew, Coconuts, starfruit, bananas for you?
A tour, some jewelry, how 'bout some limes?
Don't worry, be happy. We're having good times.
Do you need diesel, sodas, or beer? My friend, I'm the best, I'll bring it right here.

As seafroth that before the wild hurricane flies, the captain's blood pressure started to rise.
So up to the porthole he went with a jump, just in time to hear a very loud thump.
And then in a twinkle we heard down our side, the screeching and scraping when two hulls collide.
On deck we both ran to see what to do, while the boat boy jumped into the fracas too.

Instructions were shouted, the bumpers they flew, and their anchor was lifted for all to view.
We all saw the problem, an old CQR, the draggingest anchor there is by far.
The boat boy's eyes gleamed at the profit he'd reap, and us, we just wanted to get back to sleep.

He spoke not a word; we all know the fee, and the other boat's captain paid twenty EC.
They all drifted off to moor to a ball, we were so happy to be rid of them all.
But I heard him exclaim as if on cue,  "Happy Christmas my friend, I'll be back to see you!"

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Marigot Bay, St. Lucia

We have been anchored here in Marigot Bay on the northwest side of St. Lucia for three days now and are really enjoying this beautiful bay.
We walked up to the main road yesterday and got a great view of the small steep-sided bay and our boat far below. We caught a bus to the Super J market and picked up some fresh meats and veg.
The buses here are typical for the Caribbean; Toyota 14 passenger vans driven by frustrated race car drivers at breakneck speeds along steep winding roads with no seatbelts. I'm sure our families worry about the dangers of sailing, but I'm telling you - riding in these buses is much more dangerous than sailing!

The marina at Marigot Bay is first class and has many gorgeous yachts. I heard it costs $1.00 per foot per night, so if we wanted to dock there it would cost us $44.00 per night. The mooring balls cost about half that, but you can anchor for free and still take advantage of the amenities. There is a nice hotel, a mini market, an ATM, restaurants, shops, fuel dock, and water taxi landing. The water taxi will take you over to another restaurant and beach. All kinds if water sports are available and there is a constant parade of yachts in and out every day. This is really a very nice spot to stay for a few days.
We had lunch yesterday at Chateau Mygo. Our drink orders summed up our sailing mentalities; Malcolm ordered the Hurricane and I ordered the Sea Breeze. (The Sea Breeze is rum and cranberry juice, the Hurricane is rum, rum, and rum with lime juice.) And Malcolm finally got his "Cheeseburger in Paradise", something he's been dreaming about for months.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas In The Caribbean

It's almost Christmas here in the Caribbean and some things are just like back home.

I found this Little Golden Book and just had to buy it. As a very small child I would read it to anyone who would listen. I wasn't really reading it, I had memorized it and was just reciting it and turning the pages at the proper time. The wonderful illustrations in this book still represent my idea of the perfect Christmas.

I also saw these mince pies at the market and would have loved to get some, but store bought is never as good as home made. I made some a few years back and they were positively addictive.
Here's a photo of my mince pies. 

Now, other Christmas things in the Caribbean are totally unique, like this Christmas tree in all kinds of bright tropical colors.

And our Christmas lights. They aren't exactly Christmas lights, more like party lights, but, Hey, I'm doing it Caribbean style this year.
Wherever you are, we want to say, "Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!"

Pirates of the Caribbean

The landscape of St. Vincent is stunning with its steep volcanic mountains and constantly changing clouds. We had a pleasant sail from Bequia with views like this. This scenery and remoteness made a perfect place to film "Pirates of the Caribbean - the Curse of the Black Pearl". We made a point to stop at the Port Royal location which is really Wallilabou Bay.
Coming in to the bay the first thing you see is the arch rock where CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow sees the pirates hanging when he is arriving at Port Royal in his sinking boat.
Then you see this building on the shore, except the second story is different now.
This building is the most recognizable from the movie, but inside you can see that it was only a façade built around scaffolding. The property owners have added a back and a roof  for protection, and inside they have mounted photos and memorabilia from the movie.
Inside the restaurant you can see (and climb on) the actual crows nest from CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow's sinking boat. There is also an assortment of pirate clothes and accessories. The management encourages folks to dress up and take photos around the site.
Although we didn't see this pirate...
there are still pirates in the Caribbean. Here's one.
And we definitely were approached by several other pirates, but they look like this now. In fact they were like a swarm of hungry mosquitos looking for blood. The minute we entered the bay, they started circling around trying to sell coconuts, moorings, jewelry, bananas, tours, and even asking for beers! The next morning I started to walk up the companionway stairs, and there was one of the pirates hanging onto the lifelines practically in our cockpit chatting up Malcolm. I wonder how they would like it if we went to their homes and walked right up to their windows and rested our elbows on the windowsill and stared at them. Their rude behavior certainly lessened our enjoyment of the place, but I'm glad we went there and got to see the set for Port Royal.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Union Island

After leaving Carriacou we sailed to Petite St. Vincent where we anchored for the night. The next morning we sailed to Clifton on Union Island where we checked in to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The harbor is beautiful but small, but we found a good spot and went into town to do a little shopping and the paperwork.

Anchorage at Clifton Bay, Union Island
At only 2467' STOL aircraft are common on Union Island
  Pilots always have to check out airports, so we walked the short distance to the airport and out to the end of the runway where we had a nice view to the North.
Looking North towards Mayreau and Canouan
  We also visited a tiny island built atop discarded conch shells. They play loud music and pour stiff drinks, and no one is a stranger for long. The next day we did a little snorkeling then topped up our groceries in preparation for sailing to Bequia.
Making New Friends at the Happy Island Bar & Grill