Day 171, Year 6 St. Barts to Saba (pronounced Say-bah)

Day 171, Year 6 St. Barts to Saba (pronounced Say-bah)
Date: Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Weather: Partly Sunny, Winds E to ESE 10-15
Latitude: 17 38.048 N
Longitude: 063 15.412 W
Location: Wells Bay, Saba

The adventure continues. We dropped the mooring ball in Anse du Colombier in St. Barts just after 6 am and headed westward to the island of Saba. The winds were 10 to 15 knots but were coming a little behind us. It was a delightful, calm sail, but too slow for our schedule, so we motored a good deal of the time. We came around the north side of Saba and picked up a mooring ball off the west coast just after noon. We had lunch and then got into the dinghy to make the two-mile run to Fort Bay on the south side of the island. We needed to go there to check-in and then make our way up the mountain to the little town called The Bottom. It is called that because it is at the bottom of the highest mountain on the island, but that happens to be straight up from sea level. Fort Bay reminded us of St. Helena. It is strictly a port built to allow small boats and ferries to offload supplies and people on Saba. Before Fort Bay was built, all goods and people had to come in to The Ladder, the 800-step stairway leading straight up the mountain from the sea (close to where we are anchored) to The Bottom. This island, like St. Helena, is a volcanic island rising straight up out of the sea. There are no beaches and no natural landing spots, to The Ladder and the little port at Fort Bay are the only ways to get ashore. The dinghy ride from here to there was a bit bouncy at first and then even more so the closer we got to Fort Bay. It was by far the roughest dinghy ride Jeanie has had since arriving, but once again, she survived. The climb out of the dinghy and onto the concrete pier was not an easy one, so Jeanie was holding on to Steve for support.

Once in Fort Bay, Mark did the check-in with Customs and Immigration, with the Marine Park, and with the Harbor Master. I walked down the dock to check out a cage of lobsters that had just been hoisted up. The lobsters were being plopped into burlap bags and the fishermen said they were headed to Sint Maarten. I was hoping to be able to buy a couple, but they had a quota to fill. We then started hiking on the road that goes straight up the mountain. A young man in a local dive shop, Sea Saba, told me that if we started walking someone would pick us up, so we hoped that would be the case. We walked straight up the mountain, and up the mountain, and up the mountain. This was another trial for Jeanie. The heights were staggering and we had barely begun. We saw lots of little goats, a scampering iguana, and some interesting plant life, and struggled to continue. We got to what seemed like a bit of a plateau and stopped for a rest. Once we continued walking, a car came up the mountain and stopped to see if we would like a ride. Whew! We were so happy to get the ride. The man who gave us a ride was from the Netherlands and just recently transferred to Saba from Bonaire. He dropped us in The Bottom and we started our explore of the little town by foot. The architecture has a very Dutch influence and was really delightful. We went to a little shop selling the local pulled-thread pieces but we were a little shocked at the price compared to the same product in Madagascar. In both places, the craft was brought to the islands by Catholic nuns from Venezuela in the case of Saba and from somewhere in Europe in the case of Madagascar. The product looks just the same in both places, but was much more affordable in Madagascar.

After roaming through the little town of The Bottom, we decided it was time to head back down the mountain. We did have to walk all the way back down and we were amazed at the steep incline and the amazing switchbacks in the road. Again, this was a challenge for Jeanie. The steepness was a bit overwhelming for all of us, but she was almost frozen by fear a couple of times. But again, she survived and had a great time.

By the time we got back to Windbird it was late afternoon-too late for a good snorkel. So we settled in to have dinner and will be up early tomorrow to explore Saba underwater. We have heard so many good things about the snorkeling here and we are anxious to check it out. I’ll report on that tomorrow night.

110413 Day 171 Saba–Well's Bay, Fort Bay Harbor, The Bottom

Day 170, Year 6 Guest Log

Day 170, Year 6 Guest Log
Date: Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Weather: Totally Overcast, Winds E 15
Latitude: 17 55.554 N
Longitude: 062 52.248 W
Location: Anse du Colombier, St. Barts via Ile Fourchue

Today Steve & Jeanie are doing the log-it needed a little spicing up!

When we woke up this morning we were in Sint Maarten with 4 large cruise liners beside us. It was an overcast day, but cruising with world class yachties made it a perfect day.
We left bright and early with our usual breakfast of homemade granola & yogurt.
We headed for St. Barts for a morning snorkel at Ile Fourchue and saw sergeant majors, parrotfish and beautiful turquoise waters that could only be experienced on the sailing yacht Windbird.

Learning to use the head was an experience for Jeanie and Steve had to come to the rescue (he had to do the flushing and it had something to do with floaters)! We had a leisurely lunch of bagels with cream cheese and chicken noodle soup prepared by Judy.
After lunch we went around the corner to Anse du Colombier for another great snorkel where we were able to see a 2 ½ foot turtle and a 3-foot barracuda. We also saw trumpetfish, French Angelfish as juveniles and adults. There were also Foureye Butterflyfish and lots of coral. This is Jeanie’s first try at snorkeling and went down hill for some time until she found she could swim while frantically holding onto the dinghy ladder. From there on she had a great snorkel and enjoyed all the fish mentioned above.

We are now back relaxing while Judy is making chocolate chip, sunflower seed, and nut cookies. After this freezing weather of 75 degrees Jeanie is on the back deck with jeans, shirt, hat and fur hooded jacket (no joke). After an almost major disaster, Steve recovered two pads out of Jeanie’s bathing suit that he was hanging on the line. But he was able to rescue them, so all is good! We did have two other calamities today with Steve stubbing his toe and breaking part of the nail off. Then Mark got cramps during snorkeling and had to get back in the dinghy.

Jeanie gave everyone a good laugh when she rolled into the dinghy like a “walrus” after snorkeling. Judy said there is nothing bad we can say about her (we will not comment until after dinner and after we have finished the cookies she’s baking). She is slaving away while Steve is sitting in the cockpit drinking gin and tonics and Jeanie (that’s me) is sitting here writing this log. We are all thinking about Mary Ellen and Lee and family and wish they could be here with us for lots of laughs and a great time.

110412 Day 170 St. Barts–Ile Fourchue and Anse du Colombier

Day 169, Year 6 Survivor

Day 169, Year 6 Survivor
Date: Monday, April 11, 2011
Weather: Yet Another Beautiful Day, Winds E 15
Latitude: 18 01.034 N
Longitude: 063 02.756 W
Location: Philipsburg, Sint Maarten

Jeanie is a “survivor.” Every time she climbs down into the dinghy or climbs out successfully when we reach shore, she exclaims, “I survived.” For a first time sailor, she is doing great so we are calling her the “survivor.” We started our day in Simpson Bay by taking the dinghy into the lagoon and doing a tour of the lagoon chandleries. We went to Boater’s World and Island Water World and picked up a few boat items and then went back to Windbird, pulled up anchor, and motored back to Philipsburg. Mark spent his first hour ashore filing on-line for our tax extension while Jeanie, Steve, and I walked from shop to shop to shop. When we met back up with Mark, it was time for him to head to Immigration to check us out. Steve and Jeanie waited patiently at a picnic bench while Mark went to Immigration and I searched the streets for a top-up for our cell phone. After MUCH walking and inquiring, I found out that Digicel does not exist on this island, so I guess we will do without a cell phone until we reach Puerto Rico. Once Mark returned from Immigration, he sat with Jeanie and Steve at the Buddha Beach Bar while I went to Sang’s Supermarket to do a little food shopping. We then returned to Windbird and as I am writing this log, Mark, Steve, and Jeanie are in the cockpit looking at photos from our African safari days. Jeanie has been to Tanzania to the Ngoro Ngoro Crater and the Serengetti. She is an African animal lover and is really enjoying the photos.

Tomorrow morning we head to St. Barts. So the Caribbean adventure continues.

110411 Day 169 St Maarten–Simpson Bay Lagoon and Philipsburg

Day 168, Year 6 The Eagle Has Landed

Day 168, Year 6 The Eagle Has Landed
Date: Sunday, April 10, 2011
Weather: Another Beautiful Day, Winds E 15
Latitude: 18 01.966 N
Longitude: 063 05.833 W
Location: Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten

Mark and Steve’s sister Jeanie (the eagle) arrived safely and on time this afternoon. It is great to have her here and even though she has only been on a couple of sailboats in her life, she is adapting quickly. We left Philipsburg this morning and motored the five miles to Simpson Bay to be closer to the airport. As soon as we arrived and got settled, Mark and Steve took off in the dinghy to go into Simpson Bay Lagoon and figure out how we could best get to the airport to pick up Jeanie at 2 pm. They took the portable VHF and called me to let me know that they made it to the airport and that there was a restaurant with a dinghy dock just right across from the terminal. It was noon but it had taken them half an hour to get there, so they decided to stay there and wait for Jeanie rather than spent another hour coming back to the boat and then back to the airport. They had a snack and then took the dinghy to the French side of the island for a little explore. By mid-afternoon Mark, Steve, and Jeanie arrived back at Windbird. Jeanie couldn’t believe that she was picked up in a dinghy. The long ride was a bit rough, but Jeanie made it just fine and immediately adapted to life on a sailboat.

We had a late lunch and then all got back in the dinghy and headed into the lagoon to look for a place with wi-fi. We wanted to try one more time to connect with Heather and Justin. We are anchored outside in the bay and have to go under a bridge to get into the lagoon. Once inside we saw a magnificent racing boat tied to a dock. The name was Hanuman and it was at least 120 feet long, sleek, and definitely a racing machine. What a beauty. We stopped at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club and asked about wi-fi and they directed us to Skip Jack, a close-by restaurant offering free internet. It was perfect. We were able to sit and have an appetizer while we talked to the kids. We had an okay connection with Heather and Jed and got to see Sam and Jonah in action. We then were able to connect with Justin and Jo and had a really good connection with them. Seeing those grandbabies makes us ever so anxious to see them in Puerto Rico in less than two weeks.

We will do a little more exploring here in the morning and then head back to Philipsburg. Mark needs to go to an internet café and spend a couple of hours filing a tax extension while Steve, Jeanie, and I do the shopping thing. We also need to go to a grocery store to stock up for the week. On Tuesday morning we will sail back south to St. Bart’s, and from there to Saba, and then back to Marigot Bay on the French side of St Martin. Steve has been trying to get Jeanie ready for Caribbean sailing by saying things to her like, “Jeanie, have you ever been in a clothes dryer when someone turned it on and you started going round and round? Well, that’s what it’s like on this boat when we’re sailing.” Jeanie is being a good sport and I think we are going to have a great week.

110410 Day 168 Sint Maarten–Jeanie Arrives

Day 167, Year 6 Dark and Stormy in Sint Maarten

Day 167, Year 6 Dark and Stormy in Sint Maarten
Date: Saturday, April 9, 2011
Weather: Beautiful Day, Winds E 15
Latitude: 18 01.023 N
Longitude: 063 02.791 W
Location: Philipsburg, Sint Maarten

Sint Maarten is the Dutch side of French St. Martin, one island that is divided between two countries. And yesterday it was “dark and stormy” in the anchorage here in Philipsburg, but I’m not talking about the weather. When we went ashore Steve bought rum and ginger beer to make the drink called a Dark and Stormy and he convinced me to have one. No log was sent last night because the drink did me in. The real problem was that we had already had four beers at the Buddha Beach Bar while trying to reach the kids via Skype and then came home and had the Dark and Stormy before dinner. Bad idea. I think that will be my first and last rum drink in the Caribbean!

We had a good overnight passage from Antigua. We arrived here at 9:30 am and Mark went ashore to check-in. I did a huge laundry, washing all the sheets plus our clothes, and then we went to shore. There was a cruise ship so there were lots of people. This is definitely the duty-free “shop ’til you drop” location with shop after shop after shop offering everything from clothes to electronics, and liquor, at incredibly good prices. We found Golhamar’s where you can taste before you buy and ended up with a bottle of Admiral Rodney Extra Old St. Lucia Rum as well as the bottle of Gosling that we used to make the Dark and Stormies. Needless to say, I don’t want to see that bottle again.

We found a couple of places to get on the internet but everything here seems to close by 6 pm, including the internet hot spots. We sat in a little open air beach bar and used the wifi from The Candy Store. When we asked people where to go to get on the internet, they told us to go this little store and talk to Candyman. I went in and found the little shop intriguing. Candyman seems to know every detail of every type of candy. I never knew there was so much to know about candy. The shop is barely big enough to turn around in, but it was packed with people with all sorts of questions about different types of candy. And Candyman is one of those characters who is fascinating to watch in action. In addition, he gladly shares his wifi with anyone close enough to use it, so we went to the closest place to sit down which happened to be the Buddha Beach Bar. Unfortunately, we didn’t reach either Justin or Heather, but we did check our land email account. We’ll try again today to reach the kids, but we will have to find another source of wifi as we are moving to Simpson Bay to be closer to the airport. Mark’s sister Jeanie flies in this afternoon so we are preparing for another week of fun in the sun.

110409 Day 167 Sint Maarten–Philipsburg

Day 166, Year 6 Nelson’s Dockyard, St. John’s, and Headed North

Day 166, Year 6 Nelson’s Dockyard, St. John’s, and Headed North
Date: Friday, April 8, 2011
Weather: Beautiful Day, Winds E 15
Location: Overnight Passage from Antiqua to Sint Maarten

First a correction to last night’s log. I thought the beautiful “J” boat, Ranger, that I saw yesterday was a restored original, but we heard from Alan Kanegsberg letting us know that it looks so great because it is a new boat, only two years old. According to Alan it was created from Olin Stephens and Starling Burgess’ original line but with modern construction. Old or new, it is beautiful, and the last thing we did before leaving Falmouth Harbor this afternoon was to take the dinghy and go up close to look at her again. We started our day with a walking tour of Nelson’s Dockyard in English Harbor, just next door to Falmouth Harbor. The great thing about Nelson’s Dockyard is that is has been totally refurbished and its buildings are being used. There is a sail loft, Sunsail charters, a lovely hotel and restaurant, another restaurant, a bakery, a museum, Customs and Immigration, and lots of shops and boutiques all tucked into the restored buildings. We walked the perimeter looking at the beautiful boats, not as many and not as big as in Falmouth Harbor, but Elena from London was there and she is another beauty. She is a classic Herreshoff schooner. We took a walk out to Fort Berkeley Point and enjoyed the views. When we returned to Nelson’s Dockyard, it was almost noon and we decided to hop on a local bus and go across the island to St. John’s on the north coast for lunch. It is always fun to take the local transportation and see the sights. We had a good lunch. albeit expensive as we ate on the waterfront close to the cruise ship dock, and then we walked through the very large public market area and back to the bus station to take #17 to Falmouth Harbor.

We pulled up anchor at 4:20 pm just after one of the big guys, Pan Thalassa from London, pulled out with a farewell of blaring boat horns. We thought maybe this was a special farewell just for us! It is now just past sundown and time for dinner and for me to go to sleep. We will be in Sint Maarten tomorrow, so this is not a big deal passage, but it is the first overnight we have done since arriving from South Africa, so I’d better stop writing and get to bed.

One last note. We heard from Justin and Jo letting us know Ziggy had a super birthday yesterday. We sure hope to be able to connect with them via Skype tomorrow sometime after arriving in Sint Maarten.

110408 Day 166a Antigua–Nelson's Dockyard, St. John's, and Headed North
110408 Day 166b Antigua–Great T-shirt Slogans