Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sunsail – a cowboy at sea!

Rodney bay St Lucia

We left Rodney Bay very early, and sailed passed the island.  As soon as we hit the open sea on our way to St Vincent, the wind and the swells picked up. I think since we sailed the Caribbean Sea, it was our best sail.
Garmin Trip Reader at some point

 I sat on my favorite chair as usual, watching out for fish traps when I saw a Sunsail catamaran approaching slightly off our port side. While keeping an eye on the catamaran,  I was amazed that it wasn`t flying any sails, while we were flying the main and the genoa for an exhilarating sail with the wind blowing 20 -25 knots on the beam.  My skipper came outside and together we watched the catamaran getting closer but still safely on our port side, a good safe distance from Catlyn.  But all of a sudden, the yacht turned straight into our course, right in front of us.  What were they doing?  Are they in trouble?  We rushed to bring down some sails to break our speed in the big swells, still not understanding the motives of the `Skipper` right in front of us. He passed our bow, just to turn straight for our starboard side again, and riding the swells like a man on a big horse, he turned the yacht to pass us at the stern!  We were stunned at the new rules of the road for this Sunsail Skipper, chartering this catamaran,  with three bikini girls sunbathing in the overcast day in the cockpit! We watched him behind us,  the dinghy riding up against the yacht, dangling in the big swells on a very strong line!  If Sunsail Charters only knew what happens to their pride and joy, or maybe they know…  Maybe that is why you can pick up an old charter catamaran for below market prices!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Grande Anse D'Arlet, Martinique

Walkway with shops and restaurants along the white beach
Just before sunset we reached Grande Anse, for a lovely walk on the beach. I can understand why the French love this white sandy beach.

We lifted anchor the next morning and set sails for St Lucia.
It wasn`t a comfortable sail. We were beating and rolling, and it felt like we were in a washing machine. It felt like ages before we could see St. Lucia in the distance.  We battled into Rodney bay, and dropped anchor for a peaceful afternoon, and some internet again. The internet at St. Martinique was 6Euros an hour, so we left it at that.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Maverick 400 - Yacht Catlyn sailing on a Broad Reach in Caribbean

St. Pierre, St. Martinique.

Yacht Ercolausa
We met up with Yacht Ercolausa again,(the French) and they invited the boys to diving with them close by. Joe made a beautiful video to share their experience in the water world with you. A buoy is attached to a mysterious  face sculpture.

This afternoon they are continuing the fun, and they dove down to find a star with its orangey colors. 

 Some more wrecks were waiting for them to explore of ships sunk by the eruption of Mont Pele on 1902.

I couldn`t wait any longer, and after Joe made us some flap jacks we headed for town, leaving Catlyn safely next to a Lagoon 40 and other yachts.

It was the month of May, and to the people of St. Pierre a very important month, because of the angry Mt. Pelee erupting in 1902 on the 8th of May. It was Ascension Day soon and we were in time for the three day festival, with stalls, food and local music!  Johan found some veggies among the second hand stuff and curious everyone was trying to sell.

Baguettes of course! We were in French territory again, and that means the best baguettes for breakfast, lunch and supper! Johan and I enjoyed the walk on the black volcanic sand, stretching our legs.

 In a ditch, with a lot of rubble in it, and fresh water seeping through the pebbles into the sea, my eye caught a bottle! I had to go closer, I had to touch it, and when I picked it up, I fell in love! Where did this come from? Does it have a story?

I looked around to see the owner, only to see a women on a balcony in the house next door, and she smiled at me. I asked her, who it belongs to, and she just shrugged and waved me away with it with a smile, as if it was her gift to me…
Johan didn`t complain, just gently putting it into the bag  and he carried it home for me… 

Nursery school on the beach
We enjoyed the rest of the morning, roaming the streets, touching the black burnt walls still standing, gazing up at the melted trellis on the balconies.

 After death comes life, after life comes death….the two, hand in hand… and in this little town, a dove made her nest in the black death of a wall,

a women built her house only filling the black holes with a blue door, or adding another wall, newly plastered!

On our way to the huge cathedral, Johan found some tomatoes, gold in the Caribbean, on another women`s window sill. 

And the Notre Dame Bon Port Cathedral towered over us.

 It is not in use, and not renovated  to the way it used to be,

 but the bell is still ringing, every quarter and sounding out over town at every hour.  I tried to peek inside, and I could still see the altar, and the colorful lead glass windows…
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The gate to the Bishop`s Palace was left open and I sneaked in, loving the beautiful garden.

Too soon we had to go back to Catlyn, but tomorrow I`ll be back before we lift the anchor again. We spend the evening sipping an Argentinian wine, Santa Anna.

Saying good bye again!
Always saying good bye! It was time to say good bye to Yacht Ercolausa again, sailing our separate seas!

Au Revoir Ercolausa & Crew
I convinced the men to spend another hour or two in my favorite little town. It wasn`t difficult because they knew there was fresh pastries on land again!

 We walked  the ruins of the theatre, built in 1786, then destroyed by a hurricane in 1813, but renovated and restored to its splendor, ready for the Golden Age of theatre!  Another hurricane swept over it in 1891, and the people rebuilt it in 1900!

Two years later it bent it`s knees when Mt. Pelee spilled its anger over it, and today we walked over the burnt marble tiles, touched electrical boxes, melted in the heat, and left behind the women with pain all over her face…

Beside the theatre, where the prison formerly stood, you can see the cell which held the only survivor of the 1902 catastrophe, Cyparis, saved by the thickness of his cell’s walls.

Marco and Johan went shopping, and Joe and I took the opportunity to walk to the cemetery up the hill. Even here the volcano left its mark. And now there is a crisp white angel watching over all…

We were ready to go, picking up a bread fruit for the sea.

It was a reasonable sail down south to Grand Anse D'Arlet Bay (still in Martinique).

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sailing to St. Martinique!

Still not wide awake, at 05h00 with just the light of the day over the water, we left the bay, looking at the yacht we saw last night, fast asleep as if nothing happened.  Everything started off peacefully, with the wind fluky but steady. As soon as we left the shadow of the land, a steel grey squall was awaiting us. We reefed the main and genoa in wait,  then the wind at 46 knots hit us. While further reefing the genoa the rain slammed down on me and Joe, and I couldn`t open my eyes with the raindrops slamming painfully into my eyes and over my body! The waves crashed over Catlyn, but this girl of ours steadily stood by her women hood, stood her ground or rather her seas. Thank you for our solid yacht!

The wind subsided to an average of 20 -25 knots as we sailed towards the island in the white mist of some more rain. It is still the dry season, believe it or not! The swells were big on our beam, but we reached the bay of St Pierre in good time.

Remember I told you about the little town who was hit by the Volcano, Mt. Pelee in 1902? We are back and I can`t wait to walk through this little French town, picking up the energy of a lot of people who died in the anger of the volcano…
St Pierre

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Moorings-can`t be trusted!

Sunset in Rosseau, Dominica
It was almost eleven o` clock, and I was ready to go to bed. The wind was gusty, and strong and we were pulling and riding over our pick-up buoy infront of the Anchorage Hotel. We knew it was going to be a restless night. I checked outside and  was still looking into the dark of the night, when through my eyes I saw something that didn`t make sense. A boat almost ashore! A boat right in front of the houses! It took a couple of seconds before my eyes told my brain the truth! There is a yacht too close to shore, almost aground on the rocks in front of the houses! Immediately adrenaline rushed through the whole of me, registering the mono-hull just behind and now only the empty spot where it has been this afternoon. I still could see the four men aboard, and the fifth snorkeling around their buoy, checking. And then he saw a drifting oar, and he swam out to sea to win an oar for their motorless dinghy!  Now they have two!

My feet rushed down stairs to interrupt Johan`s toothbrush, and the sound of my emotion filled voice woke the boys. “Come help, there is a yacht on the rocks!”  Before Johan could rinse his mouth, I heard the crashing sound as the yacht’s belly crashed onto the rocks! The sound crashed through me! Johan and Joe dropped the dinghy, and radioed for help! They were rushing to the boat, two men in a little dinghy, and I found no one on the radio! Luckily a local boat close by, and then another came to help, as I saw the lights in the houses coming alive.
Marco and I stood on the deck, listening to the crashing sounds every time a swell pushed the yacht further onto the rocks. We were praying, for the boat, for the people trying to help, and twice we saw the yacht slowly going sideways as if she was giving up hope. And then we prayed even harder. I remembered reading somewhere about old spirits of sea men, are in the birds visiting you on your yacht, and I even asked them to help this boat!
Joe jumped onto the boat while it was heaving, trying to get to start the engines on a strangers boat! He battled, and couldn`t get a sound out of her.  They freed the prop of the tangling lines in the dark water, and Johan and the local boat tried to pull her from the rocks, but she was stuck, and kept there by the swells and the rocks and her heaviness.
Five men on a motorless dinghy with two oars passed Catlyn, still not knowing. I shouted and they saw the empty spot where their boat was supposed to be, and the dinghy and the men went as fast as the two oars could row towards their boat on the rocks! One of them managed to start the engines after a while, and with the last sputter of strength and our dinghy and the local on his long boat, and our prayers, the yacht slowly started moving. I could hear her scraping on the rocks, but she waited for a swell and with her last bit of strength she helped to get her free from the rocks. They pulled her to another buoy and she was saved!

Back on Catlyn, we were so thankful  that the yacht was out in the water again, but it was too dark to see if she was ok. The men on the yacht could hardly speak English, and we couldn`t really communicate with them. We just saw them with their torches circling their boat touching her belly. The Coast Guard came, with their boat to ask if everything is fine, and we send them to the boat, and we were surprised to see their boat with no lights to tell us that they are a Coast Guard, or any other navigational lights!

Filled with adrenaline we realized again…Do not trust your pick-up buoy!
See below another sad story of a yachtie trusting a pick-up bouy in St Helena Island awhile ago....

Champagne Beach, Dominica

Marco read somewhere that this is one of the best snorkeling sites in the Caribbean, so this is where we`ll go today. After some more rain the whole morning, we left. This time prepared with our colorful ponchos! Into a local bus, and off we went! We were dropped on a little hill, and followed the signs to the beach! `No expectations!` Marco said, when he walked the wooden trail next to the water, with only black volcanic rocks, and no white beach! Here we are, so we put on our snorkels and got into the water, and a whole world opened up! No expectations! The boys saw a huge turtle swimming gently,

and I saw the huge parrot fish nibbling on the coral, and schools of colorful fish swimming all over. I reached a place of sanctity…just me hanging in the quiet of the water above the cup sponges and vented sponges standing around like ancient cathedrals! A little further I hanged among hundreds of bubbles seeping from the ocean floor, swimming upward, leaving a silver trail!

Champagne beach, I realized as I touched the bubbles trying to catch them in my hand! I was hanging in a champagne glass! Salute to life! Afterwards we read that it is indeed the reason for the name! Small gas bubbles continuously rising from the volcanic sea bed, and the spot is indeed one of the five best in the Caribbean! We left the ocean, with the memory of the elk horns , and the Venus Sea fans and the tiny fish. And we were grateful to be allowed into their world for a little while.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Trafalgar Falls - Dominica

Our time in Dominica was a memorable one!

Travalgar Falls, Dominica ! UNESCO world heritage site.

It was starting to rain very softly when we were halfway to land, and the pewter clouds didn`t predict any sun soon, but we have limited time, and today is booked for Trafalgar falls! The four of us flagged down a local bus, squeezed in and were hopefully heading for the falls. 

After speeding on a very wet road, with everyone still assuring us that this is dry season, we were dropped close to the falls. Johan sat in the corner of the taxi, considering his option of turning back, and not facing the drenching rain at that time. But he was out voted and he had to face the rain! 

We found shelter close by and a women was smiling at us,  standing at her little curious stall. `Ponchos!` she said, and it was as if life came flooding back to Johan. Immediately he bought four ponchos to keep the rain out! All smiles we shared our crisps with her, and covered in color we were heading for some more water!

The cute tink crabs, tried to scare us out of their way, and they were all over. We had to walk very carefully not to step onto them, or they would open up their little arms, making sure we behaved like guests in their forest. 

 It was beautiful, and the energy of the freshly washed forest seeped through us!

It is just a pity because of the heat of the steaming hot pools and waterfall, the moisture was thick in the air, and spoiled a lot of photos!  Two tributaries of Rosseau River cascade down into two separate waterfalls, the tall Father fall, 125ft on the one side, and the Mother fall (75ft) on the other, to meet somewhere at the bottom, and Marco and I stood with our feet close to each other, the one in warm water, and the other in cold! 

No wonder this is also a UNESCO world heritage site!

The rain lifted a bit, and we left our ponchos on a bench, for our return, and didn`t worry, because there was no people in sight.

 We climbed the rocks and enjoyed the waterfalls, but it was flooding with the browny water cascading over the edge.

We sat in the yellowy hot pools, and I was tempted to wash my hair! (I actually slipped my shampoo bottle in when I heard about a waterfall, that means fresh water, and lots of it!) Johan persuaded me that the rocks were covered in yellow sulphur, and the water was clean and good to go!  We enjoyed the warm water, washing each others`  hair,  and even our Skipper got a `shampooey` scrub!

We stayed in the pools until we were shriveled, and then we stayed some more, but a couple of tourists started venturing past.  We got out reluctantly and very lazy, and when I passed a women in a pool further up, I saw that she also had a poncho, the orange one just like Marco! But somewhere deep inside me, I knew, and told the boys that this is Marco`s! Joking and laughing all the way back, we reached the little bench with one orange poncho missing!  Charming Joe was too happy to charm the women out of our orange poncho. 

She only thought, that this is such an accommodating place, leaving raincoats for people on a bench,  while they swimming, only to return it on your way back!

We walked back to town, only to be tempted  to lovely sandwiches and fruit punch, at the River Rock Restaurant.

View of the river from the seating area

We were invited to watch a movie at the Anchorage Hotel, by two people on a dinghy, and off we went!  We spend the evening in the company of Thorsten and Laura,

They made a film about their sailing across the Atlantic from Germany, caring for and trying to protect marine life! Inspiring!  We sipped on our rum punch, and enjoyed the evening, sharing a dream with other people.
Wiki Trafalgar falls