-E.B. White

Monday, February 26, 2007

Moved to St. Martin on the 25th for 3 reasons. Another blow is coming, we need to be in Tortola by March 5th to meet David & Joni and our friend Ken winters here. Although the island is barely 7 miles in each direction it is perhaps the best known holiday destination in the Leewards. The whole island is one duty free shopping plaza. St. Martin is divided across the middle. The northern part is French; the southern part Dutch. The story goes that the French and Dutch were so civilized that, rather than fight over the island, they had a Frenchman armed with a bottle of wine walk in one direction and a Dutchman equipped with a flask of gin take the other. Where they met became the boundary, and the French ended up with a bit more because the gin was stronger than the wine. Today the island thrives with almost a million visitors annually. Hotels are everywhere, cruise ships call daily (Ken told us one day he looked out his window to find 9 cruise ships in the harbour) and there are over 250 restaurants, 700 duty free shops and a dozen casinos. We decided to enter the protected Lagoon at Simpson Bay from the French side at Marigot. A narrow bridge opens a couple of times a day and got thru at their 5:30 PM opening. Unfortunately by then a northern swell had kicked up and with everyone jockeying for position the entry proved to be a nailbiter.

Market place at Marigot, St. Martin

Croissants and gooooood Espresso and Cappuccino - love the French for that! Oh, and also cheap wine.

Lots of boats in the Lagoon including at least 100 Mega (150ft plus) yachts. The world-famous International Heineken Regatta starts March 1st and everyone is here to party. We have a weather window on the 1st so we will be sailing to Virgin Gorda in the BVI's. We took a local bus over to Phillipsburg which is the capital of the Dutch side to visit with our friend Ken and to get the Captains prescription sun glasses fixed.

Phillipsburg (the Dutch Side) - Front street

Lots of shopping going on here.

Cute little eyeglass repair shop on Old Street, Phillipsburg, Sint Maarten

Sunday, February 25, 2007

We skipped the section of islands "that brush the clouds" (St. Kitts, Nevis, Statia, Saba & Montserrat) we spent time here last year going south - very beautiful islands - especially Saba. St. Barths we had not visited before and it, St. Martin (French side), Sint Maarten (Dutch side) and Anguilla are called "the Renaisance Islands". St Barths with it's sharply contoured rocky hills, a picturesque port and gorgeous beaches, has become a world famous chic destination; the favored hot spot for the good looking, well-to-do "in" crowd, seasoned wtih a sprinkling of acting, singing, and sport stars; The Riveria of the Caribbean. Gustavia is the main town (this island was once owned by the Swedes; but now owned by France) has the charm of a small port. Red-roofed buildings are tucked around the protected harbour.

Fresh Fish Anyone?

Designer shops galore!

The yacht club

The street scene

Le Select is a popular hangout for Jimmy Buffet. They claim (like so many other hamburger joints from Florida to Trinidad) this is the place that inspired Jimmy to write Cheeseburger in Paradise. While we were here a photo shoot was happening.

Carnival had just finished up on Tuesday so the anchorage was crowded wtih boats and the Marina was filled with Mega Yachts. We watched one load his small (smartcar) onboard. Instead of shoehorning in between all the sailboats we decided to anchor out in deep water with the big boys.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Finally left north Antigua, started to rain just as we were pulling up anchor; lasted a few minutes, then the sky started clearing to a spectacular double rainbow.

Last sunset in Antigua

Double rainbow - we could see this one from end to end.

Our original plan was to head to St. Kitts, but the seas were so pleasant we decided to head north to Barbuda. Enroute we had our first whale sightings - what majestic creatures they are. Unfortunately, they were camera shy so no pics. Barbuda is a low island whose highest point is only 125 feet above the sea with a mere 1600 inhabitants. There are endless pale pink beaches - the largest is unbroken for 11 miles. Land is held communally and there is so much that no one fights over it. It has also been the key to the Barbudians keeping control over their own island. Since there is no individual land ownership land cannot be sold to outsiders - hence no resorts or Kentucky Fried Chickens.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Decided to take a break from projects and tour the small town of Parham, Antigua. It was once the second most important port in Antigua and home of the Govenor. Now a days it is a plesant waterfront town decorated with trees and flowers. However, the Japanese are here "helping" fund projects. We are seeing alot of this going on down here. On a bus trip into St. John's, Antigua we saw a new Cricket Stadium being built for the 2007 World Cup funded by Republic of China. Alot of money coming in to all these islands from those two countries.

These houses were all being lived in - amazing.

Friday, February 16, 2007

On the 16th of February we headed to the north end of Antigua, Rabbit Island, a well protected anchorage. Plans were to stay here a day and move to Barbuda. Listened to weather net - not good. Front is moving thru looks like we will be stuck here for a week. Time for projects!

Pilot house - electrical project.

Sanding & Varnishing the teak

Striping varnish - you really don't want to have to do this, but a small section started to fail - and the more Rick tried to fix it - the worse it looked. So down to the bare wood and 15 more coats of varnish to go.

Then there is rescuing your hat when the wind catches it.

Cleaning of the study - so when company comes they will have a place for their things. Cooper this is your bed when you come to visit.

Study/Office/2nd Stateroom - Georgia your bed pulls down from the wall where the picture is hanging. Need to get cleaning!

Fred's project for the week is sleeping, sleeping and more sleeping.

Help! Deb needs a shell intervention. This was just todays catch! Not sure why and for what I keep picking them up and bringing them back to boat - I'm obsessed!

End of Project Days - Again, rum & sunset on the back deck of Broulee

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Arrived Falmouth, Antigua on the 13th of February. Falmouth and English Harbour sit side by side, almost touching at the closest point. We dinghyed into Marina at Falmouth then walked to English Harbour to clear in. The English Harbour Dockyard was completed as it stands today in around 1745 and was Britain's main naval station in the Lesser Antilles. LOTS of Mega Yachts here.

Customs & Immigration office.

An ALL teak sailboat - Doug, you think your sailboat is alot of work!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Ventured north to Pt. a' Pietre, Guadeloupe and the guys got a bright idea to travel thru the center of Guadeloupe on the Riviere Salee - it's not so much a river as a saltwater mangrove (lots of mosquitos and no see-ums) channel seperating Basse Terre from Grande Terre. If you look on a map, Guadeloupe looks like a butterfly and there is a "small" river running thru the middle. For the most part the depth is 9 to 16 feet, but there are patches of 6 feet or less and we draw 5. Also, you have to do this in the dark because the bridges at the entrance only open at 5:00 AM and the bridge on the other side opens at 5:20AM. We made it thru unscathed, but we did see a sailboat stranded in too little water - he had missed one of the channel markers - oops.

Scary - in the dark.

Waiting on the other side of bridges for daylight to come.

Heading to Antigua - leaving the River Salee.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

On 2/10/07 we traveled to Portsmouth, Dominica . We have now left the Windward Islands and have moved to the Leewards and the section of islands called "Mountains & Mangroves". We did not spend anytime here, but we did spend a couple days last year on the way south. On 2/11/07 we moved north to Grand Bourg in Marie Galant (part of the country of Guadeloupe). Sugar cane is the most important crop here. Ox-drawn carts are still in use and some 73 windmills remain in various states of repair. Le Moulin de Bezard has been completely restored to working order and grinds sugar cane from 10:30 to 2:30 for visitors. We decided to hop a bus and tour it, but, again - tour book did not mention that the mill does not operate from October thru June. Plus the tour people do not speak English - only French so we listened to the speal and just kept nodding our heads like we knew what they were saying.

Broulee Med-moored at Marie Galant fishing docks.

Sugar cane fields