South West Martinique

Woke up to a dreary, rainy day this morning and thought that it would be a good day to get something posted on here. The last week has been pretty busy for us. We’ve visited five different anchorages and explored some of the most beautiful places in south west Martinique. For now our home is near a town called Le Marin.

Our newest adventures started at Anse a L` Anne a small beachside town that is across the Fort de France Bay from where we were last. It was a short hop across the bay to a whole different experience. Gone were the noises of the city and now we had familys laughing and playing on the beach in front of us while gentle waves pushed on the shoreline. This is a vacation resort town. There is a ferry that runs here throughout the day and it did get the boat rocking some but nothing like in Fort de France harbor where there were several running all day long. Talk about bouncing around, we did a lot of that there! We could happily tolerate one ferry here. The beach was beautiful and there was an abandoned Fort that we thought that we could explore on a nearby island.

We hopped in the dinghy and set out to explore the fort. It’s called Ilet a Ramiers. Sadly, when we got there and climbed up to the entrance we discovered the fort had a gate and barbed wire closing it off, disappointing.

Access denied!

Town in the distance that we have to motor the dinghy back to after trying to access Ilet a Ramiers. It was against the wind and waves the whole way back and was a very wet trip! We were lucky though because there were showers on the beach…unlimited water to rinse off in…now that was a treat!

While we were at the island the fort was on, the wind and waves really picked up. We had to beat right into the waves for about a mile back to the boat and got absolutely drenched! We were happy to discover that the beach that the boat was anchored in front of had fresh water showers and we were able to get all of the salt out of our crevices. Unlimited water! We don’t persay ration our water on the boat but we are conservative so that was a real treat! It’s amazing just how much salt can get into your ears! We spent two blissful nights here and thought it was time to move on.

The water was soooo clear!

Next anchorage was just about a hour away. When we had our boat on the hard in Saint Kitts we met a couple that had been down this way before, Janaki and Graham on S/V Leela. Brian and Graham got to talking and Graham marked a couple of his favorite spots in Martinique on our chart. Next stop was one of those anchorages he suggested, Anse Noire. Wow…words can almost not describe the beauty of this spot. It’s a small anchorage. When you enter it feels like you are entering another realm. A jungle like beach, covered in palms with tall peaked mountains behind and the most incredibly clear water. Heaven!

Yup, we are going into that crack in the rock!

Skinny, skinny!

We found a spot near the beach and dropped our anchor. We deployed our kayacks to explore. The water was so clear that you did not even need a mask to see all that was below. We paddled around into a nearby cove called Anse Dufour and found a small cave like crevice and went into it. I would say that we paddled in but most of it was so skinny that we had to use our hands pushing along the rocks to explore deeper until we could go no further. It was amazing!

That night the sky was so dark, the stars so bright, it was like we were in a fairytale land. The next morning we snorkeled along the rockwalls of the harbor. So much to see and so many different fish. We were taking it all in and did not get pictures to thoroughly show you what it was like but we got a few good shots.

Cute little cuttlefish…what big eyes you have!

Off again the next day we next sailed on to Grande Anse d Arlet, again about an hour away. We dropped anchor in this boat filled harbor but decided that we did not want to stay. We launched the dinghy just to take a harbor tour and get some pictures.

Aye, there be Pirates out here I say!

It is not just people in houses that collect too much stuff!

Anchored haulled again we were off to a new home. Not sure if we have mentioned this before but everytime “we” haul the anchor, meaning Brian is hauling the anchor (pulling it up) that he is doing this by hand. We do not have a winless like so many boats do and our anchor is a 45lb rocna. This is no easy task. My hero, my Hercules!

Off we were again to Les Anses d Arlet. Don’t most of these places sound pretty much the same? This town is known for it’s picture perfect church that sits right along the waterfront. It’s actually featured in lot of postcards. We cruised the anchorage here where it was pretty crowded and there was some swell. Not an ideal place to anchor on this day so we opted to go just a bit further and anchor just out of town. There was much less swell where we dropped anchor and only three other boats there. Much better for a good nights sleep. Thanks again Graham for a great pick!

Local fishermen pulling in their nets.

On the move again we were off to the big city of Le Marin. This is the main boating hub as it has just about everything and anything that you could need or want for your boat. There are chandeliers, mechanic shops and stores of all kinds galore!


Military History of Diamond Rock near Le Diamant, Martinique
In 1803, the British built a garrison on this small island and then armed it with cannons as a way to defend the St. Lucia Straits. They called the stronghold Fort Diamond. During the Napoleonic Wars, French naval ships repeatedly attacked it without success. Then, according to folklore, they floated barrels of rum towards the island and waited until the 107 British soldiers were inebriated before overpowering them. It still is French territory called Le Rocher du Diamant.

Along the way we passed between the mainland and Diamond Rock. See picture for some cool info on it, it has some crazy history!

LOTS of boats as we enter Le Marin harbor!

Lots of boats are already tucked into the mangroves in Le Marin harbor…or maybe some of them never even left the mangroves from last hurricane season.

When we approached the harbor the sight of the bay was littered with sailboat masts, there were so many! I wondered if there‚Äôd be any space! As we approached the bay, the masts spread out and I realized the bay was massive. There was plenty of room. There are lots of shallows and very deep spots all in this bay. The closer you want to be by the town the more crowded it gets. Since we are a shallow draft boat we were able to find a nice cosy spot all on our own with no boats close by. Makes sleeping easier at night when you don’t have to worry about someone dragging down on you or vice versa. This was a good choice because we have had some pretty good wind gusts and lots of rain since we have been here. Being away from the crowd is a longer, sometimes wetter dinghy ride to town but it’s worth it for peace of mind. We can also watch our TV at night in the cockpit outside and not worry about disturbing anyone else’s quiet evening.

Walking along the streets in Le Marin on a very quiet day.

 

Historic monument of the 18th century. Built of cut stone, it is distinguished from other churches by its bell tower located just beside the building. Nestled in the middle of the second order, above the front door, Etienne, our patron saint watches over.
We did not go inside but read that the interior is equally astonishing with the framework that recalls the hull of an overturned boat.

Looks like Brian is trying to jump ship!

So, here we are for now. Not sure what the future has in store for us for hurricane season. Lots of ideas of what we are going to do we just have to settle on what and soon. It will be here before we know it! For now first and foremost we will be celebrating Brian’s birthday tomorrow and then back to reality ūüôā

A local Martinique race boat called a “Yole”. We are anchored somewhere in the masses in the bay behind.

View of sunset Le Marin harbor.

That’s all for now, take care. Miss you all!

Funday Sunday!

Brian and Jennifer S/V Moon

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Fort de France, Martinique

Fort-de-France is the capital of Martinique and the main port for Martinique. The center is laid out alongside Place de la Savane, (the city park) where most of the town’s main events take place.

It is also the home of a statue of Napoleon’s¬†Empress Josephine, an island native. The statue is decapitated. Yup, you read that right…it has no head! She was not well liked and the statue has been vandalized so often in protest of her influence in preserving the slave trade on Martinique that the city has stopped attempting repairs, and she remains headless.

Beheaded and splashed with “blood” the Josephine statue.

Schoelcher Library. The building was originally designed and built for an 1889 exposition in Paris before it was shipped to Martinique and reassembled.

Saint-Louis Cathedral right in the center of town.

Calvaire Chapel

We arrived just in time for the “Madin ‘GOSPEL FESTIVAL 2018”. Every year Martinique, more precisely Fort-de-France, vibrates to the rhythm of gospel¬†music. The festival has become one of the unmissable events for gospel lovers: artists from all over the world perform during three days of festivity. This had to be one of the loudest events that we have ever heard while at anchor in a harbor and we`ve even anchored in Montego Bay, front and center during Sumfest. (Talk about a loud jam…that party did not even start until after midnight!) The headliners for the gospel concert were actually pretty good and a big crowd showed up however the filler singers and bands were just plain loud! Needlessly to say we were thankful when Monday came around and they were breaking the stage down announcing that they were done!

One of the many pastry shops.

The town itself is pretty cool. It is a typical cruise ship town with lots of shops filled with the same souvenirs that you find in most, only with “Martinique” printed on them this time. Lots of clothing, jewelry and perfume stores too. It sort of reminds us of Saint Thomas, USVI. Many of the houses here are similar to the French Quarter in New Orleans, with narrow streets, ironwork and high porches with plantings of all kinds.

There are a couple of good grocery stores for stocking up on things that might be hard to find or expensive on nearby islands. Cheeses, olives, oilve oils and vinegars, wines and various snacks. There is also a open air market in the center of town that is a treat to all of your senses.


The minute you enter the market the smell of the spices can be almost overwhelming. The vendors have vegetables, herbs and plant branches for sale, for who knows what and of course every souvenir that one could possibly think of. The vendors that we tried to talk to did not speak English and our French is not good enough but we would of loved to know more about some of the odd things that they were selling.

We were anchored near the public beach and found out that this city likes to exercise on and in the water! Every morning starting before the crack of dawn yes, in the dark the locals start swimming and exercising. In the dark they swim, in dark, black water! There was even an exercise class that brought out stationary bikes and put them in about four feet of water, set up a speaker and had their class riding the bikes in the water. That was a first for us. But no worries we were wide awake to see all of these morning rituals because the town’s church rang its bells like crazy at 6 AM give or take 15 minutes every morning and if you were able to sleep through that it had a follow up which we fondly called the “snooze alarm” that would make sure that you were wide awake. This was charming…if you did not drink too much rum the night before ūüôā

Bell tower in the distance that kept us on our toes in the mornings.

One of the locals catching some rays at the beach.

Fort de France is a great town to visit but was definitely busier than most we’ve been to recently. Our boats documentation was recently renewed and it was a perfect place to have it shipped to. It went on it’s own journey to get here. It started out in Green Cove Springs, Fl then off to Jacksonville, FL, Alanta, GA, Cincinnati, OH, Miami, FL, Panama City, Pamama, Maiquetia, Venezuela, Port of Spain, Trinidad then finally arriving at Fort de France, Martinique. Thankfully to DHL we received it as planned. So now with that out of the way we are free to leave this bustling city and head out to new adventures.

We came across this military ship in dry dock when we were walking around a yard trying to find a hardware store. I was taking some pictures and we heard “security, security” over a loud speaker….we tucked tail and got out of there fast! Look at that gun on the front!

First stop for us was only about 3 miles away but a nice calm anchorage off of a pretty beach at the small beachside town of Anse-√†-l’Ane. That is where we are anchored now and being a Friday night, while sitting on the boat we are listening to a local band from shore that is actually quite good. They have almost a Cuban flair. Exploring the area tomorrow and always we’ll take lots of pics. Take care for now. Miss you all!

Saw this sign in a store front…never thought that we would see Alabama along side London and New York!

Jennifer and Brian SV/Moon

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Martinique

Martinique is a small island and an overseas region of France. Its nearest neighbours are Dominica and Guadeloupe to the north, Barbados to the southeast and Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the south. The terrain here is mostly mountainous and volcanic in origin, with the coastline featuring many beautiful sandy beaches.

Columbus sighted it on his initial expedition in 1493 but he did not stop. Martinique played host to its first European ‚Äútourists‚ÄĚ in 1502 when Columbus landed here during his fourth voyage. Dubbed Martinique by Columbus, the island was inhabited by Carib Indians who had driven away the Arawaks (both tribes had come to the island from South America). The island was called Madinina (Island of Flowers) by the Caribs. Martinique was claimed by France in 1635. France and Britain fought over the island until 1815, when France prevailed. In 1946, Martinique became a Department of France and in 1974 a Region of France, its current status. It is true when they say, that modern day Martinique is ‚Äúa little bit of France in the Caribbean”.

A town that we sailed by on our way to Saint Pierre.

So far we really like it here. Our experience has been much different than when we visited Guadeloupe. (The only other French island that we have sailed to) It seems like there are more people here that can speak English or maybe we are just getting used to everyone speaking French. Heck, we can even understand some of what they are saying!

View of the beach while we are anchored in Saint Pierre’s harbor.

View of the beach while we are anchored in Saint Pierre’s harbor.

View of the beach while we are anchored in Saint Pierre’s harbor.

We have never been to Paris but this place is a lot like we imagine it would be, other than being on a tropical island. And the food….yum! Finally we have been able to get good cheese, bread and a great assortment of grocery items. To quote a cruiser that we met here, “It’s like we finally found civilization!”

Rare glimpse of Mount Pelee peaking from behind the clouds. Taken from the boat.

Mount Pelee in the distance, hovering just above the town.

We sailed into the town of Saint Pierre where we cleared in. The town is drop dead gorgeous and full of history. A volcano called Mount Pelee, sits high above the town.

 

Looking towards the harbor in Saint Pierre.

Mount Pelee has been quite active over its life. Thankfully they say that it is not active right now. In the Caribbean there are lots of other active volvanos and most of them seem to be connected in some sort of way or another so you never really know. This volcano is a huge part of the island and it is a major tourist destination. Mount Pelee erupted in 1902 and at the time Saint-Pierre was the capitol of Martinique. The damage from the volcano was so bad that they moved the capitol to Fort de France.

Saint Pierre, Martinique was first settled in 1635….now that’s a looong time ago! By the time the twentieth century came around, the city had grown to a population of more than 30,000 residents and the town was thriving. Sometimes called it the¬†“Paris¬†of the West Indies”. Up to twenty-five ships were anchored in the bay at any given time, proving the area’s popularity. By the very early nineteenth century, St Pierre was considered one of the most progressive of all Caribbean towns and featured modern city amenities such as telephones, trams for area¬†transportation, and even electricity.

On May 8, 1902, Mt. Pelee erupted, and in a matter of three minutes transformed the village of St. Pierre into the scene of wreckage and devastation. Only two people in the entire village are said to have survived ‚Äď one of which did so because he had been jailed for the night for public drunkenness, Louis-Auguste Cyparis, who later toured with the Barnum and Bailey Circus. His jail cell is a popular attraction.

Here is a good site if you want to see some photos and read more about the eruption:
https://www.earthmagazine.org/article/benchmarks-may-8-1902-deadly-eruption-mount-pelee

Our dinghy on the beach and moon anchored in Saint Pierre harbor behind her.

The new town of St. Pierre was built around the old St. Pierre ruins and the ruins can be seen everwhere when you walk throughout the town. There is so much history and it was amazing and humbling to be somewhere where such devastation had taken place. It is a great display that we humans can rebuild and continue on from such a tragedy.

Check out the fish tails on the left side of this shack.

As we know when a seaside town has such an event much is washed into the sea. For me this was an upside…lots of chaney on the beach! I had blast treasure hunting while we were here!

While we were really enjoying hanging out in Saint Pierre apparently Moon was not happy being anchored there. We woke up one morning about a mile offshore. During the early morning hours our anchor had drug! It had been a windy night and we were anchored in about 25ft just off of a deep shelf. Normally we would have set our anchor alarm but for some reason we did not when we arrived. As we lay in bed we thought that it was a bit rougher than usual in the anchorage, almost like we were at sea. We took a look out the window and discovered that we were at sea! Thankfully there were no boats or reefs behind us and we just drifted safely away…it could have been much worse. So we decided to take Moon’s hint and we hauled our dangling anchor and headed off to visit a new town.

Cool bird nests that we saw high up in the trees in the city park.

It really does take a village…look at these guys all working together to haul in a fishnet from the shoreline.

We ended up in Fort de France, Martinique’s capitol. Wow what a town! This is a big and bustling city! We are anchored at the foot of a big fort and right along the city’s town front. So much to see and do here but we’ve written enough for now.

Saint Louis Fort that we are anchored just below in Fort de France.

Hope that you are all doing good and in good health. We know that it is the start of tourist season back at home and we are soooo lucky to be playing tourist here! Miss you all!

Jennifer and Brian SV/Moon

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Touring Dominica

Hi there, hope that all of you had a great Easter. As we mentioned in our last post, we joined a BBQ that was hosted by the PAYS group in Portsmouth. It was a night full of fun! We got to meet fellow criusers, enjoy a french gyspy style band and entertainment and did we mention the unlimited rum punch??? With all of the rum dancing in our heads we had a great time and danced the night away in the sand under the full moon.

French band/circus entertainers that played for us at the BBQ.

We met French couple at the BBQ thfat asked if we would be willing to join them on a island tour. Sounded good to us so we made plans to take a tour with them on the following Wednesday. The tour started at 8:00 AM and a boat boy Titus came by our boat to pick us up. We were surprised that he stopped at two other boats before going to our friends boat. Unknown to us we had a group of six other cruisers taking the tour with us. The more the merrier, we thought to ourselves.

We thought that we really threw a wild party at the PAYS BBQ but this was the day after…Apparently the locals celebrate the day after Easter and the crowds really came out! The music was sooo loud and from more than one source so the harbor was alive with sound!

Our driver and guide Winston was waiting onshore and excited to show us all of Dominica. We piled in the van and we were on our way. Winston was great! He has lived on this beautiful island his whole life and he had so much to share with us. He was able to speak both French and English so we all could understand what he was saying, that is when we were not all talking to each other. With so many cruisers in the van the conversations were all over the place and it was easy to miss out on some of what Winston was sharing.

Winston explaining about some of the local crops to us.

He pointed out as many landmarks, flowers, trees, gardens and waterfalls that he could. I thought that his driving was excellent considering the conditions of the roads and the zig- zagging back and forth mountainous terrain. There were also lots of roads and bridges that were washed out from rivers that overflowed durring hurricane Maria that he had to navigate as well. All of this seemed like nothing to him as most of us were gripping the seats and biting our fingernails. Throughout the entire day he had a big smile and great attitude.

One of the many rivers that we crossed on our island tour.

We stopped at local gardens growing on the side of the road where Winston pointed out and explained the crops that were growing.

Off in the distance along the shore line here is where some of the Pirates Of the Caribbean, Dead Mans Chest was filmed. It was the scene where they had a big waterwheel that went astray on the beach.

We saw another Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Man’s Chest movie shooting spot, (beach scene with water wheel). He shared the church/school that he attended. Along the way it was so sad to see all of the hurricane damage to both the land and to people’s homes.

This shop boasts a painting of the oldest woman that lived in Dominica…she lived to be 128 years old. Winston told us that every person who lives to be 100+ in the country is well taken care of. They get $500.00 EC a month and all of their utilities are paid for by the government…even including cable TV!

Kitty joined us for our lunch break…everybody say cheese!

We drove through Kalinago Territory (original island inhabitants). We stopped at the top of a mountain for lunch where we were able to sit and see the Atlantic ocean far below us. I was even able to enjoy a vegetarian lunch that was outstanding! Rare occasion for me to also get to really enjoy a nice meal at a local restaurant too.

Emerald Pool waterfall from a distance.

Emerald Pool waterfall.

Look it’s us! Oh, Hey there!

Our next main attraction was waterfalls! We first stopped at the “Emerald Pool”. A short walk lead us to a beautiful waterfall cascading into a pool beneath that we could swim in. Such a beautiful place! It was pouring rain on us as we hiked down and for most of the time that we were there but it was still fabulous.

Trafalgar Falls, known as the “Momma and Papa falls” to the locals.

Some of the gang walking back from Trafalgar Falls.

Next we drove to the “Momma and Pappa” falls, Trafalgar Falls. A short walk from the parking area lead us to these very tall falls, (125 ft and 75 ft). What a breathtaking sight! Unfortunately we were not able to swim here but we really enjoyed the the views.

The earth bubbling…bubble, bubble, toil and trouble. Looks like a witches brew!

Last stop for us was at a bubbling hot spring. I can’t remember what it was called. As we pulled in you could really smell the sulfur in the air and you could see smoke from the heat rising from the ground. The water bubbling up from the earth was a cloudy gray and the ground would just let out these large gassy bubbles. It was pretty cool to see.

Chocolate bar Brian bought after our tour of where they harvest and make it.

Then it was time for us to head back to Portsmouth. We all climbed back into the van for what turned out to be a hair-raising ride back. Seems that driving over washed out bridges and temporary roads are even more scary in the dark! What we planned to be a 8 hour tour turned into almost a 11 hours. Thankfully with Wiston’s driving skills we all arrived back safe and sound to our starting point. What an amazing day!

Little beach that we found about 2 miles from Portsmouth anchorage.

Awesome picture that Brian took while he was snorkeling. Our secret beach is in the background…shhh, don’t tell anyone where it is!

We decided the next morning that it was time for us to sail on to new adventures. We dropped our mooring line and headed to the southern end of Dominica where we stayed for our last night in this beautiful country. When we woke up we headed to our next island destination, Martinique.

It was a rainy sail over but once again a comfortable ride. With the occasional storm moving over with downpours and gusty winds but nothing unmanageable. We are currently sitting in a nice harbor right outside of a really cool town full of history, ruins on every street and corner. The name of the town is St. Pierre. Up above us is Mt. Pele, a volcano. It last erupted in 1902 and destroyed this town and killed 30,000 residents leaving only two alive. More on this later though, so much to explore here. The best yet is that this is a French country, so…we will be eating lots of good cheese, bread, olives and embracing the French culture and yes, and learning more French!

Jennifer and Brian SV/Moon

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Dominica “The Nature Island”

Christopher Columbus sailed passed the island‚Äôs east coast shores on a Sunday, November 3rd 1493. Unable to make landing, he never set foot on the island but he gave the name Dominica after Dominigo for Sunday. As was the case with the rest of the Caribbean, Dominica was already inhabited by the native Kalinago people, who used the name Wait‚Äôtukubuli meaning ‚ÄėTall is her body‚ÄĚ. The Kalinago (previously known as the Carib Indians) had settled on the island from around 1000AD. Some 3,000 Carib Indians still living on Dominica are the only pre-Columbian population remaining in the eastern Caribbean. Now that’s interesting!

Dominica is largely covered by rainforest and is home to the world’s second-largest boiling lake. Dominica has many waterfalls, springs, and rivers. Some plants and animals thought to be extinct on surrounding islands can still be found in Dominica’s forests. The volcanic nature of the island and the lack of sandy beaches have made Dominica a popular scuba diving spot. They say that Dominica has 365 rivers.

Story told is that when his royal sponsors asked Christopher Columbus to describe this island in the “New World”, he crumpled a piece of parchment roughly and threw it on the table. This, Columbus explained, is what Dominica looks like‚ÄĒcompletely covered with mountains with hardly any flat spots! Following the European‚Äôs arrival, the island remained a neutral territory for many years, serving as a refueling for ships. At this time there was much trading between the Europeans and Kaliango. During the 1700‚Äôs the British and the French fought several times over control of the island before the British gained control in the early 1800s. The island gained independence from Britain in 1978.

Check out this site for more about Dominica: http://justfunfacts.com/interesting-facts-about-dominica/

 

Came across this crazy looking house in Portsmouth.

Well, would you look at that….we found a Mee Kee Dee’s! Wonder if they serve burgers!

This young man was proud to show me his toy. His friends said that he might now be famous on Face Book. We thought it was great that something so simple could entertain a boy this age. You would not see this in the states!

Local fishing boats. They are all painted orange inside so that they can be spotted easily if the fishermsn is on them and they get stranded offshore. It’s a long way of open sea until the next island if they breakdown.

Our adventures start in Portsmouth, it is on the north coast and it’s the second largest city in Dominica. From where we are anchored in the bay we have a view of the town and have Fort Shirley up above us. Portsmouth is a laid back non-touristy town. Portsmouth Dominica was originally selected to be the capital of the mountainous island in 1760. Unfortunately, there are swamps nearby and an outbreak of malaria caused Roseau to be chosen instead, leaving Portsmouth with the sad distinction of having been the capital for only a year.

Our first adventure was to take a tour up the Indian River. The Indian River is the main attraction for Portsmouth. The river is a protected area of Dominica’s National Parks. Only certified guides can take a boat up the river and there are no engines allowed! When we got to the mouth of the river our guide Andrew pulled his boat to the side and told us that we would have to walk to a nearby gas station to purchase our park access ticket. After a short walk we returned for our adventure. Andrew moved into his rowing position and rowed us through the winding river.

Brian, our river guide and the Bush Bar keeper.

 

It was beautiful but we couldn’t help to think about what it must have been like before hurricane Maria ravaged the area. Once he rowed as far as we could go (the river was blocked with debris) Andrew pulled us up to a wooden dock at the rivers edge. We hopped out of his boat and onto the dock for a stop at the “Bush Bar”. Seems that someone was thoughtful enough to build a watering hole for us cruisers along the riverfront. Brian and I treated ourselves and our guide Andrew to a couple of local beers called “Kubuli”. The flowers were plentiful and amazing here!

On our way back down Andrew took us up a side branch of the river to show us where they filmed parts of Pirates of the Caribbean 2, Dead Man’s Chest.Tia Dalma aka Calypso from Pirates of the Caribbean had her shack here, (no longer in existence, the building is covered with brush and debris) It was still cool to see the shooting location, to think that Johnny Depp was once here too!

This was the filming location for the Pirates of the Caribbean movie, “Dead Man’s Chest”

We really enjoyed the trip. The bloodroot tree’s root system were what most stood out to us, they were amazing! Lots of birds, land crabs and of course fish. We enjoyed our tour and Andrew was a great guide.

We’ve walked around town a bit, not much to see. Seems to be like most Caribbean towns. The most noticeable difference was the damage caused by recent hurricane Maria.

Hurricane Maria made landfall on the southwest coast of Dominica on September 18th as a Category 5 hurricane, with 160 mph wind speed and higher gusts. The hurricane force resulted in intense storm surges, torrential downpour, overflowing raging rivers, and extremely high winds across the island left 31 people dead, 37 missing. 65,000 people, around 80% of the population, were directly affected and more than 90% of roofs were damaged or destroyed. Maria passed mostly over the southern part of the island, (we are on the north side now) so sadly, the damage that we are seeing might just get worse.

Check out this parking job!

This house was not so lucky in Hurricane Maria.

Tent for the World Food Program that was here to help after Hurricane Maria.

 

Our next adventure lead us up to an 18th century Brittish fort, Fort Shirley. It sits overlooking the bay and is part of Cabrits National Park. The fort has been restored beautifully. We spent the day exploring trails surrounding the fort and even found more ruins and cannons along the way. The views from the top were outstanding!

Brian trying to see if they could fire upon Moon from the fort.

 

 

 

Whew, I think that we’ve written a book this time! So much to share. As we are writing this it is Easter Sunday. The local PAYS group is having a barbecue fund raiser tonight so that will be Easter dinner for us…yum, my favorite :-). Well, I won’t have to cook anyway so that will be a treat. Meeting some other sailors and unlimited rum punch doesn’t sound bad either!
Hope that you all have/had a wonderful Easter too!

Until next time,
Jennifer and Brian SV/Moon

This is the PAYS pavilion where they host their Sunday night bbq.

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Guadeloupe To Dominica

Our sail to Dominica was perfect.The winds were light to start but we were able to sail conserving our fuel and the seas were calm so we had a comfortable ride. We hauled anchor at 7:15 and arrived at 12:30 in the afternoon in beautiful Dominica.

Here we are leaving the islands of The Saints and you can see mainland of Guadeloupe in the background.

Dominica in the distance off of our bow.

Arriving in Dominica, bit of ha hazy day for pics though.

Entering Prince Rupert Bay.

We kept a sharp eye out for whales which are supposed to be numerous in Dominica this time of year and I think that I saw one breach just once off in the distance but we were not rewarded with any real sightings. As we rounded the corner to the anchorage in Prince Rupert Bay, Portsmouth, we were greeted by a “boat boy”. (These guys are not actually boys but full grown men that operate small boats in the area that cater to the needs of cruisers.) They provide tours and services and this is their livelihood. They have worked out a system where they all take turns with the arriving yachts so they all get a chance to make something. We’ve noticed that not all boats that arrive actually take advantage of their services so it can be a hit or miss for these guys if they make anything for the day. We were greeted by Andrew from Seabird and the first words out of his mouth were: “Welcome to paradise!”

Passing by a fort as we enter the harbor. You can see all of the damage to the trees from hurricane Maria.

Brian talking to one of the “boat boys” that helped us tie up to the mooring ball.

We thought that was a awesome welcoming! As we came into the anchorage we were surprised and delighted to see lots of other cruising boats. There were boats anchored and on mooring balls but we chose to pick up a mooring ball to support the local PAYS (Portsmouth Association of Yacht Services). The local Indian River guides formed the group to help promote saftey for cruisers visiting the harbor. Crime was once a issue here for visiting yachts and cruisers would bypass the bay however since the PAYS group was formed saftey seems to not be an issue. They patrol the harbor at night during high season and host various functions for visitors. Of course we still take our precautions but, we are thankful for PAYS because they gave us the comfort of feeling more secure so we can visit their beautiful bay. We found our spot in the anchorage and settled in.

This guide looks fun. This is a tour coming back from the Indian River.

The views of the mountains from the harbor are amazing! We’re going to write more about Dominica in our next post. It is known as “The Nature Island”. So far we have explored the nearby town by foot and taken a tour up the Indian River (famous for it`s beauty and for being also being in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies). It was beautiful! I want to get this posted so we will save that story for our next post. Lots to do here and we still have our eyes peeled for whales. I just know that we will spot some!

Take care for now. Jennifer and Brian SV/Moon

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More On Guadeloupe

Hope that you enjoyed our last post. We’ve been taking lots of pictures and exploring so much here. It is impossible to share all that we’ve seen and experienced, we feel ilke we are leaving so much out! We hiked to Fort Josephine on a small nearby island yesterday. The views from the top were amazing…we could even see Moon anchored in the harbor below.

As I am writing this it is our last day in Guadeloupe, for now anyway. Today we prepare to sail to Dominica tomorrow. For me this means securing items around the boat and preparing some easy grab food for the journey. It’s kinda crazy. We only have to go about 18 miles and that might not sound like much, just jump in the car and you are there in 15 minutes…but on a sailboat it is a whole different story.

Amazing…look at the tree and roots growing on the old fort wall!

Depending on the conditions of the seas and the wind direction it could take 4 hours or 8 hours! Of course we plan and try to pick our weather but we have said it before and you all know that Mother Nature can change her plans in a heartbeat. We are hoping for the best but alway plan for the unexpected too.

We will visit customs today to clear out (here that means clearing out on a computer in the internet cafe), stop at the store one more time (being in a French country, this is the place to stock up on wine, cheese, olives and of course french bread) and if we have time visit one more fort that sits overlooking the harbor.

We hope that you are all doing well. Hopefully getting internet in Dominica won’t be such a challenge and we will be able to share all of it’s beauty with you.

I have a bunch of pictures to share with you but it has been a trial and error for me. My computer is on the fritz. I thought that I had everything perpared to post when we came in today to the internet cafe but most of our pictures did not come out. I will try, try again so we can share beautiful Dominica with you all ūüėä

 

Take care all,
Jennifer and Brian SV/Moon

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On the Move In Guadeloupe

Known by the Caribs as Karukera (Island of Pretty Waters), it is part of France. Yes, they speak French and we don’t! That has been a challenge for us but it is so worth it, the island or we should say islands are beautiful! It is called the butterfly island because the shape of the two main islands look like a butterfly with a narrow mangrove channel that separates them. Then there are also several small islands just off of the coastline.

Approaching The Saints.

We sailed into Deshaies where we cleared in and then it was off to the famous Jacque Cousteau’s National Park and Piegon Island. The snorkeling here was fablous! We anchored Moon close to the mainland and paddled over to the island where it was full of tourists. There are several companies that rent kayaks and there were lots of people there. It was still nice though and I think that most people were a bit scared to snorkel where we did (it was deep, around 30- 50ft¬† but the visibility was incredible, around 90ft) we mostly had divers below us. It was so clear and the corals and fish were awesome!

We spent a couple of nights there and then sailed on to Basse-Terre which is a big city where we were hoping to go into town and get a SIM card so we could have phone and internet service.

Seems that internet is a bit of a challenge here. We had been on the hunt for a SIM card since we arrived. When we would ask around for one we were sent from one location to another only to find out that no one seemed to have a SIM card. We spent $20.00 US traveling on a bus one day for over 3 hours to a location that was supposed to have one only to get there and find out that they did not…but lucky us, they told us where we might be able to get one…yea, right!

Pigeon Beach.

We thought that it was funny when we were clearing in and we saw a t-shirt that said “No Internet Here”,¬† we thought that they were only talking about the town that we were in but, not so! This seems to be true for most of the Island!

This is our friend David that we first met in Luperon, DR. As we were sailing down the coast our paths crossed…it was awsome to see him again! We chatted for a while but we were going opposite directions. It was a nice surprise running into him all the way down here!

Thought that this little town nestled in the hillside was so cute that we sailed by.

Storm coming up on us when we were sailing over to The Saints.

When we anchored off of the big town of Basse-Terre it was sort of an open anchorage, not very protected. The weather started picking up and squalls moved over us so we did not feel safe leaving the boat to go into town. So we decided that we would just sail on to the next town and if we were able to get internet that we would just consider ourselves lucky! I was anxious to talk to Rachel though just to let her know that we were OK and safe.

A goat and a chicken begging for food at the beach!

From Basse-Terre we left the main land (left side of the butterfly) and headed to a group of small islands off of the coast called “Les Saints”. We pulled into a very busy harbor and found a mooring ball near town. Turns out that we were lucky to get a ball because they get filled up fast! If you have to anchor here you have to anchor way off of town in a very rolly anchorage so we really lucked out! The name of the island we anchored at is called “Terre-de-Haut” and it is absolutely georgeous!

 

The Saints

One of the views form our boat towards town.

Seems that we really hit the jackpot with this stop. This is a very popular spot for tourists with ferrys coming and going from the mainland all through out the day and the harbors all around are filled with cruising boats. There had to be at least a couple of hundred boats.

One of Z houses along the main street.

 

Securely on our mooring we jumped in our dinghy and went to shore. What a cute town! Narrow streets with mopeds and golf carts as the main mode of transportation scooting all over the place. Shops everywhere and bagettes and pastries and women on the streets selling little cakes, homemade savory filled pies, homemade ice cream and who knows what else…

We were finally able to use the internet when we found a internet cafe! Woo Hoo…communication! It was great to get a message out that we were OK and so importantly check the weather!

Vieww as we hike to the top of Fort Caroline.

Brian on top of Fort Caroline.

Enjoying the view on to of Fort Caroline.

We’ve had a chance to snorkel some here, hike to a fort high up a mountain top and to some local beaches. There is so much to do here that we could easily spend a month and never get board. Heck, if we stayed here that long we might even be able to speak French by then! We’re learning some simple words to get by but it would be great to have a real conversation.

Shy puffer fish.

So much to share and I could ramble on forever! For now this will be it. Our plan as of writing this is to sail on to Dominica on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week. As always we will post something as soon as we can. Hopefully internet will not be as much as a challenge there but they were hit by a Cat 5 hurricane just some months ago so we will have to see on that one.

Take care for now all.

Jennifer and Brian SV/Moon

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Antigua To Guadeloupe

Our sail from Antigua to Guadeloupe was awesome! We hauled anchor at 6:30 AM in Falmouth Harbour and dropped anchor at 1:30 in the afternoon in Deshaies, (pronounced Day-ay) Guadeloupe. It was about a 40 mile sail.

Did we mention how great a sail it was? We started out with winds around 10 – 15 knts on our foward beam and about halfway there the wind moved aft beam and it was almost like a downwind sail, making it a very comfortable ride.

As we approached the harbor the view was just amazing! It is a horseshoe shaped harbor with sheer mountains and a quaint little town nestled inbetween.

For the same reason that we made our passage the just about perfect weather conditions, the harbor was packed! Seems that we were not the only ones on the move that day.  We toured the anchorage and finally found a spot that we were happy with. Anchors away! Once we were sure the anchor was set we hopped in the dinghy and set out to find the customs office in this new and foreign land.

¬†What a cute little town! There were a few tourist shops open but the street was mostly lined with restaurants that looked like they only opened in the evenings. It took us some time to find the place to clear in…turns out it was in one of the tourist shops called Pelican’s. Once the formalities were out of the way we were free to roam and explore the beautiful butterfly islands of Guadeloupe.

Although this anchorage was beautiful we found it to be a bit rolly and too crowded for our liking so we hauled anchor after breakfast the next day. Heading to Jack Cousteau’s underwater park at Pigeon Island just 8 miles away. Can’t wait to explore and yes, we want to see it all!

Take care for now…
Brian and Jennifer SV/Moon

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Guadeloupe

Hello all, we made it to Guadeloupe…it is beautiful but little to no internet…taking lots of pictures and will hopefully make a post soon.

 

Brian and Jennifer SV/Moon

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