|Updates from our travels in 2011
On January 7th we headed up the windward side of Martinique yet again but this time to shoot up to
Guadeloupe on an overnighter. It was tough getting around the south end of the island but
eventually we made it and had a great sail. The night was starry, the winds steady and the seas
weren't too sloppy. At first light, as we were passing Marie Gallant, we could see just how large the
swell was getting (10' to 12'). This would make entry into St. Francios extremely hazardous. In
Steve Pavlidis' guide to the Leewards he says "Never, I repeat NEVER attempt this passage with
strong following seas and winds". Well, knowing the entry channel has a 6' controlling depth and
with 12' swells, we sure weren't going to try it, so we headed around to Port Louis on Marie Gallant
to wait for a change in conditions. We had a lovely and restful night there then sailed up to Ilet
Gosier, the small island near the center of things at Pointe a Pitre. The area around Pointe a Pitre
isn't the greatest for hanging out as there is a great deal of ferry traffic and the cargo port loading
docks are right there too. It does, however, offer easy access to a Champion's Grocery store and a
bit further away, but still walkable, a Geant Grocery store which is in a small mall and is more like a
WalMart with housewares, clothes and liquor in addition to the food stuffs.
With the winds predicted to howl for several days we decided to take the passage through the
bridges of the Riviere Salee and out into the Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin, a large bay on the northern
side of Guadeloupe with everything from coral reefs to mangrove swamps. We made the rounds
checking out all the anchorages before settling on Ilet a Christophene, a small group of mangrove
islands. With great protection and very remote, this was perfect. Late in the day the trees on the
islands began filling up with egrets, frigate birds and pelicans, all roosting together. We'll spend the
next few days getting a few boat projects done and relaxing in the peace and quiet.
We spent a somewhat rainy Christmas at Ilet du Eau on the windward side of Martinique with our
friends Shawn and Joe on s/v Libertas. We joined forces to produce a fantastic feast of seared
duck breast, with roasted potatoes, squash-stuffing casserole, ambrosia and fruitcake cookies, not
to mention all the delicious appetizers, good wine and fine champagne. A great time was had by all.
Next thing you know it's time for New Year's Day celebrations. We had since sailed back around to
the leeward side of Martinique and into Le Marin to do some reprovisioning after nearly 2 weeks in
the hinterlands. Also we plan on heading north fairly soon and want to do our last stock-up on fruits
& veggies, beer, wine, chocolate, cheeses and other goodies that are either not available or more
expensive up island. While shopping I spied a leg of lamb which became the basis for our New
Year's Day dinner. Again, Libertas was nice enough to host the festivities aboard their beautiful 47'
Leopard catamaran, and they contributed mightily to the feast providing appetizers, veggie sides
and dessert, Shawn's special area of expertise!
During this time we saw the brightest rainbow ever, a shot of which I've included in the collage. Also
seen below, the town of Le Robert and Ilet du Petit Piton, Ed giving kayaking a try, the lamb trussed
and ready for the oven, and s/v Libertas.
Early January, 2011
Sights around Ilet a Christophene, Riviere Salee
Our friends on Libertas arrived in Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe on thursday the 27th and after a shop
around town the next day we all headed down to Marie Galante for a much anticipated visit to this
small round island, best known for it's rum distilleries and sugar production. The weather was good
and the trip down (16 miles) was enjoyable. We anchored north of the town docks close in towards
shore and marvelled at the white cliffs to the east.
On Monday we hopped in the rental car and with Joe at the wheel sat back for the grand tour. Joe
and Shawn have visited here several times and proved to be excellent guides. We visited 3 rum
distilleries, which varied in their approach from old-style open air fermentation tanks to stainless
steel towers and modern machinery. The Distillerie Bielle was the last and most impressive stop,
and indeed we did make a few purchases. These sites usually seem to have a windmill that was
used to grind the sugar cane. Most are simply relics of bygone days.
Late January, 2011
After all that hard work, we headed to the south eastern end of the island and the small, yet
picturesque, town of Capesterre which overlooks a beautiful reef strewn shore.
Finishing lunch at a shoreside restaurant we headed to the expansive grounds of Le Chateau
Murat, a defunct plantation which is being restored and will be turned into a museum. Beautiful old
ruins and a large, newer structure sit on a beautiful piece of property that affords views offshore
including a view of Dominica. A great leg-stretching opportunity, not to mention the fact that I took a
ton of pictures.
Our final stop was to see the huge stone arch which was formed by a hurricane. The views to sea
and the surrounding landscape, with all the lush sugar cane, really makes Marie Galante a
wonderful island for touring. It really satisfied my need to see greenery. Oh, and yes, they still use
ox carts to haul the cut sugar cane.
With north swell due to make it's appearance we decided not to linger in Marie Gallante and instead
head to the shelter of the reef system at St. Francois, on the southeastern corner of Guadeloupe. It
had been a few years since our last (enjoyable) visit and we were really looking forward to being
there again. We made it in and got situated behind the reef with 25 or so other boats, some just
anchored there but uninhabited, some obvious day charter boats and other cruisers. Moved
forward the next day to a spot that opened up and Ed took the boat pole and dinghy-scouted out
possible spots for Libertas, expected that afternoon. They joined us for a sundowner session and
we plotted our strategy for visiting the marina complex and doing a little shopping for fresh fruits &
veggies, plus wifi. The marina complex area and the environs in general have really been improved
and developed. It is a big tourist spot and the prices reflect that, unfortunately. Still and all, very
nice amenities with a SuperU grocery, a fresh market and after a further hike 15 minutes up the
road, another grocery store and a small Leader Price. After about 10 days there Ed decided to take
the hike out to the Pointe des Chateaux which is an area at the very eastern tip of Grand Terre, the
easternmost island that makes up Guadeloupe. This was pretty ambitious as it was 6 1/2 miles
each way! With foot problems I bowed out, but made his lunch to speed his way. While he was
gone I had a arts & crafts day with Shawn aboard Libertas which was great fun.
Ed made it back by 5:30 and boy, he was a whipped puppy, but he had the goods picture wise.
After some advil and a good night's sleep he was almost as good as new. Congratulations Ed, quite
an accomplishment. Below are a few shots from the area - spectacular! The pics fail to address the
scale of the scenery, for example, the wave hitting the rocks below was about 20' tall.
Early February, 2011
After spending 2 weeks at St. Francois we decided it was time to head up to Antigua and stock up
on American food and beverage items such as Diet Lime Coke, Diet 7-Up, Splenda and of course,
cheddar cheese. A good weather window presented itself and we prepared by going back to Point
a Pitre and through the Riviere Salee bridges again in order to gain a little easting without having to
fight our way eastwards around to the windward side past Pointe des Chateaux, not easy to do with
our boat. Anyway, we had a good sail up to Antigua and made our way into Falmouth Harbor by
It's always a delight to be back in a familiar anchorage where there's no mystery about where to buy
food, beverages and fuel. After a good shop up at the Epicurean by Woods Center we enjoyed
spending time with John on s/v 'Metalia'. Unfortunately we were unable to visit with Marie as she
had just headed off to Canada for a short visit. John and Marie spend quite a bit of time in Antigua
and treat it like home base. They are well informed about the island both in terms of shopping for
the acquisition of speciality items and with the geography itself. John took us on quite a tour of the
island one day and was a big help on our reprovisioning efforts.
Mid February, 2011
We were looking forward to a visit to Barbuda on our way north but Ed had been noticing a loss of
power when underway and was concerned that there might be a problem with the transmission. We
opted to head straight up to St. Martin where we could go into the lagoon and sort things out. We
headed out and had a pretty good overnight sail although by morning the winds were very light.
Before we left Antigua, in anticipation of light winds up by St. Martin, we rigged the spinnaker and
got it ready to go. While waiting for morning squalls to pass by before raising the spinnaker we
motor-sailed along in our usual fashion using very low RPMs. Ed noticed the engine running
roughly and deduced that we might have fouled fuel injectors. We decided to try to clear the
injectors and stress test the transmission all at the same time by running at higher RPMs. That
appeared to do the trick, although with 2500 hours on the engine and a set of spare fuel injectors
handy Ed decided to go ahead and replace them anyway. The transmission is just fine too.
So while we are presently "lagoonies" it's just a matter of time before we get up and out of here.
|St. Martin, (arrow below left shows Porto Cupecoy location)
Well, all cruisers know that plans are written in the sand at low tide and with that in mind we are now
in the marina at Porto Cupecoy Yacht Club here in St. Martin. Here's what has been going on for
the past month.
After getting squared away in the lagoon and getting the injectors changed out, we made haul-out
arrangements with Island Water World for the annual bottom job and proceeded to get that done. In
the meantime, we were busy socializing with many of our cruising friends (and meeting new ones).
We enjoyed some great sundowner sessions on Libertas, Kool Kat, Contessa and Allegro, as well
as happy hours and birthday celebrations at Turtle Pier and Barnacles. We have also been
enjoying the Formula1 racing action at Bavaria, a German Beer Garden. The owners are good
enough to record qualifying and the race then present it on Sundays at 3:30. A lot of fans present
and a lot of fun.
Soon it became time to think about getting situated for the summer hurricane season and to facilitate
getting a head start on our travel plans back to the US. It seemed as though Puerto Rico was going
to be our choice, and indeed we exited the bridge to Marigot Bay in preparation for the afternoon
start of our overnight trip. Fortunately, during the morning cruiser's VHF radio net an announcement
was made about special rates at the Porto Cupecoy Yacht Club Marina. We decided to take a look
and *wow* it really got our attention. All the amenities we wanted (but thought we'd have to forego
in PR), beautiful pool, fully A/C gym, onsite grocery store and Atlantic beach access 3 minutes
away. So here we are all situated and loving life.
We were eating in the cockpit last evening and were taken with the nighttime ambiance of this small
marina surrounded by luxury condos. Live music was playing in one of the many restaurants within
the complex and the prevailing breezes were keeping the temperature very pleasant. We're looking
forward to a great summer! Shots below are from a 5th floor vantage point, below top left the view
into the lagoon, top right the marina looking towards the central piazza and beyond, the ocean.
Below bottom left the view across from our slip, and bottom right Dreamtime in her slip (she's in the
middle). See portocupecoy.com for more shots & info.
After bragging about having beach access while here in Porto Cupecoy Yacht Club I thought it
would be good to take a few shots of the various beaches. In general, the beach front has quite a
lot of cliffs and rocky prominences with cement stairs, located along the way, leading down to the
beach itself. This makes for several smallish and more private beaches in addition to a few fairly
long ones. These beaches are pretty much considered clothing-optional by the locals although
many folks do wear suits (us being some of them!)
Well, it's officially hurricane season in the Caribbean and as the disturbance called "Invest 91" by
the weather people approached our area here in St. Martin it was time to get busy. We removed
our headsail and staysail and various canvas items and jerry jugs to the dedicated storage room
here in the complex. I got to work doing 3-strand eye/thimble splices on our heavy-duty storm lines
as Ed cut chain segments which would be fastened around the concrete dock pilings plus made
other logistical preps with the marina staff here.
When the fetch associated with the high-20's winds began to build to the degree that our slip
became untenable, we moved around to our new position in the lee of the "tower", a 4-story building
at the end of the dock, and furthest from the main marina slips. It does a great job of blocking the
chop created by the winds and we feel quite protected here. If a storm above a cat 2 comes up we
will have to leave the marina and either haul-out or moor out in the lagoon. Fingers crossed and
prayers sent heavenward that we won't see a big storm here.
tucked-up in her
Things have been rolling along quite smoothly and we have been enjoying the amenities here,
particularly the nice grocery store and the pool. It's such a treat to be able to go buy items on a
whim by just walking out the door. A non-cruiser might not know about the various details that go
into doing grocery shopping as a cruiser. Typically, when anchored out, shopping involves first
unlocking and lowering the dinghy, gathering money, tote bags and thermal bags for the purchases,
taking the dinghy over to a dinghy dock (throw in sea spray or rain as being fairly typical) and then
taking the bus to the "good" grocery stores. Plus you can only carry so much. No buying 12-pks of
soda or beer etc., just the essentials. Of course the other option is to rent a car, which is fraught
with it's own set of perils. So having a store on-site is a real plus for keeping the nerves from getting
frayed and all.
The Porto Cupecoy complex has been hosting a Wednesday evening live music event. The
restaurants and stores stay open and we are able to sit up in the piazza as a group and listen or
dance to reggae or great Latin jazz. Lots of fun. Below is a shot of the Latin band that played a
|A group of cruisers enjoying the ambience
We are still hanging out in Porto Cupecoy Yacht Club Marina, St. Martin and with the storm season
winding down we find ourselves breathing easier and speculating on when and where we will
wander off to next. Until that time, we have been spending our time doing chores, taking exercise
both at the gym and by taking lengthy walks around our neighborhood, chillin' n grillin', and just
enjoying the beauty of this island.
I took a series of pic's of the various flowers, stonework and villa gates I passed by the other day on
my walk. Hope you enjoy them. So, so lovely around here!
What a gorgeous gate, and yes, there be horses there too!
Any wonder why we spend so much time dwelling on the weather during the hurricane season!
Many cruisers head down to Trinidad or Grenada, some even take their chances in Venezuela or
the ABC's to escape the Atlantic storm season.
Here's a look at the 2011 Atlantic Storm season chart courtesy of Weather Underground. The arrow
is about where we spent our summer.
During the early to mid parts of the month I was soloing it here in PCYCM while Ed went back to the
states to attend to some business. I thought I would be on vacation from all the usual chores, and I
was, but then I decided that this would be the perfect time to put my head down and get working on
all the sewing projects that needed to be done, 6 in all.
The biggest and most important one was the dinghy cover - surprisingly a lot of work! Several
different sections, combining different types of fabrics, reinforcement panels for all the cut-outs, rub
rail reinforcement, mesh covers for the tail end of the tubes. And it's a 10' dinghy. Took me working
all day everyday, a good 3 weeks. Obviously I'm a Virgo and that pesky perfectionism (or the
inevitable striving for it) can drive you crazy! You can see by the pic of the old cover, ours leads a
very hard life. The Sewing Projects page has been updated with details and pic's of all 6 projects I
managed to get completed.
|Going, going, gone and now new. Before/After of the old cover made with Venezuelan materials,amazing
what UV, hard use and time will do...scary! I'm afraid to look in the mirror anymore after living aboard fulltime
in the Tropics for 6 years. And a shot of the new cover, blue this time.
|Merry Christmas from Porto Cupecoy Yacht Club Marina
Well, it's been a great year so far, this month in particular, has been really fantastic. Aside from the fun doings
and activities here at PCYCM, St. Martin, which includes a Monday movie night, Wednesday live music, this week
featuring Orange Grove, a well-known local/Dutch pop/reggae band, and other arts and entertainment over the
weekend, we've been busy doing the various boat chores and projects that are always lurking in the back of our
The definite highlight this month was a very enjoyable visit from our daughter Jacqui and her husband Matt, who
came down from the U.S. for a short but very sweet visit here in St. Martin. Although we didn't see and do a lot
while they were here, we spent many hours catching-up over breakfasts, lunches & dinners both aboard
Dreamtime and in some of the local eateries. What a great Christmas present for us!
We did made it down to Phillipsburg for some souvenir shopping, and to the St. Martin Yacht Club for one of their
famous blue cheese burgers (to die for), and also had some great face time at the beaches (had to ignore a few
"nudies" but live and let live right?) plus poolside at the Sapphire Beach Club, where they were staying.
|Ed, Jacqui and Matt hanging out on the 7th floor at Sapphire Beach Club
|After 40+ degree wet weather, these guys are enjoying burying their toes in the sand.
|The money shot, heading over the hill provides this great picture of the Lagoon, with Simpson Bay and Marigot
Bay visible if you know what you are looking at - Simpson Bay far,far left and Marigot over Jacqui's shoulder.
|Now that the "season" has kicked-off we are starting to see more megayacht traffic here in the Marina. It will be
interesting to see just how many of the behemoths they can squeeze into their docks.
|Bonding... so cool to chat face to face.
We had several days of 25+ winds right before Christmas and it really built up the swell. The shots don't do it
justice but the ferocity of the video clip gives you some idea.
Wednesday the 21st we had a great time with our friends from 'But Of Course', BJ and Laurent, up at the
Rendevous restaurant enjoying the live music in the plaza by Orange Grove, a great, funky, hip, reggae sound.
And I just had to include a shot of my cheerful local flower bouquet.