Friday, March 27, 2015

Ils des Saintes

The main mooring field on Terre d'en Haut
Or The Saintes as most cruisers call them, are wonderful.  Three tiny islands just south of Guadeloupe with beaches, hiking, forts, a quint little town and French food and wine.  What's not to like about that combo!
View looking north from town - Guadeloupe in the background

This year we explored the town more, checking out the architecture.  Scooters, golf carts and rugged four wheeler are the preferred method of transportation for the few locals and scores of tourist.  Narrow pathways only wide enough for these modes of transportation run up to small houses and holiday bungalows from the main waterfront street.
One of the many narrow pathways that act as streets among the holiday bungalows

Another pathway lined with lush vegetation

Not the average run of the mill gingerbread trim work
Last year we hiked up to Fort Napoleon on Terre d'en Haut and enjoyed the museum.  This year we took our dinghy over to Ilet A Cabrit island and hiked up to Fort Josephine.  This fort is being watched over by a herd of goats so there was no museum to tour and the fort is not being kept up other than as the "go to" place for island goats.  But it was still interesting to wonder among the ruins and think about the role it played in the history of the Caribbean;  French, English, Spanish....back and forth they fought for hundreds of years.
Tom checking out the view back east where s/v Honey Ryder is moored
The goats were weary of us.  My guess is that members of the herd often go on holiday across the baie (French for bay...see, I'm learning and using my French) to Terre d'en Haut, never to return again.  Can't you just hear it.....a random goat to other goats -"Hey, has anyone seen George?  He went over to Terre d'en Haut on holiday but I have not seen him since?"  Another random goat -  "I haven't seen him but Gladys went on holiday over there as well and must still be there as she has not returned either.  Maybe they ran into each other.  I am sure they are having a grand time.  Oooh.  Do you smell that?  It's coming from some cafe on Terre d'en Haut.  It smells like curry something.  I just can't quite put my hoof on what exactly it is but it smells yummy."
Anyway, if you rattle some paper, packaging or a water bottle, they do take immediate notice and cautiously come in for a look.  So someone is watering them.  I just hope they don't get out of control and ruin this lovely little island like the goat herd on Ile Fourchue up near St Barths.
Keepers of Fort Josephine

Keepers of Fort Josephine
Part of the ruins of the fort

Small mooring field to the SW of the Ilet a Cabrit
We also explored an small abandoned property project on this island.  Several single and duplexes obviously for holiday rentals were near completion at some point when the money dried up.  Now they lay in ruin and the goats have take over in force.  Probably one of the most expensive goat barns in the world.....goat poop 2" thick inside.  Gross.
Free holiday house anyone?

Needs Work

LOTS of work

Tom also hiked way up to the Le Chameau lookout tower on Terre d'en Haut one morning.  I opted to window shop as my cardo. - oooh, shiny!  Yes, yes....I know.  Not really cardo.  I was joking.
Almost there

Le Chameau lookout tower

View SW towards Terre d'en Bas - the 3rd island of The Saintes

Selfie with Ilet a Cabrit in the background

The money shot.  Looks like a postcard doesn't it?
The winds were still high so it was rolly on our mooring but oh well.  The fresh baguettes, cheese, and wine helped.

Green Dominica

green, green, green.  And check out the huge breadfruit tree on the left - YUM

As we sailed north this season we stopped again in Portsmith Dominica and marveled once more at how incredibly green and lush this island is.
green, green, green

The winds were up when we arrived (25-30 knots) so we opted to take a PAYS mooring 1.) because the winds were way up and forecasted to stay that way, making anchoring extra exciting and 2.) because we wanted to support the PAYS Union.  3.)  we would sleep better on a secure mooring vs anchor.  What is PAYS you ask?  Good question.  PAYS = Portsmith Association of Yacht Security.  Instead of each boat guy fighting over incoming yachts, they work more together.  All the moorings belong to PAYS and not individual boat guys.  According to the Facebook page -PAYS provide night security, mooring, search and rescue, yachting services, tours, laundry services, taxi,garbage disposal, customs and immigration clearance. WiFi is provided around the pays office area. On Sundays we do the Sunday BBQ. We accept USD( United 
States Dollar) EURO and GBP (British Pound Sterling). Eastern Caribbean Dollar - $25.00 a night. For all mentioned services there is a fee.  We decided last year that we wanted to support and encourage this type of action.  We only wish other island boat guys would do the same.  
 Crews of sv Restless Heart, sv Wahoo, sv Bon Bini enjoying the PAYS BBQ
Speaking of PAYS, the boat guys are famous for their Sunday night beach BBQ party.  Last year we missed out so it was high on our list TO DO/ TO SEE this year.  The money from the BBQ helps fund PAYS island projects such as school programs and such.  It was fun.  A local group from a school performed some dances.  The food was yummy.  The rum punch was delightful and later, the tables were moved and many cruisers hit the sand to dance.

Sarah of sv Libertine and Julie of sv Rhon

Mary and Ralph of sv Restless Heart shake a leg
Back to the topic of our mooring in Portsmith.  Martin aka Providence (long time boat guy) stopped by the morning after we arrived to check on us and chat in general.  He asked Tom for an second line to secure our boat to the mooring.  This was something that Tom planned to do but hadn't yet gotten around to it as we arrived late the previous afternoon.  With the strong winds the anchorage had been experiencing the last few days, he reported a couple of boats had drug anchor and one chafed through it's mooring lines.   "Have you dove on the mooring yet?" Martin asked.  "Not yet." Tom answered.  Martin replied "This is a good strong one.  No worries.  We put boats up to 80 ft on this one."  Later after breakfast, we dove on the mooring.  Strong indeed.  Not one but TWO engine blocks with chains around and through them and then additionally the chain disappeared out in front of the first engine block into the seabed.  We felt secure after seeing that.

Sarah and Sabrina work their way along the rock shore
Dominica is known for it's hiking trails.  Even though our stay was way too short, we did mange to sneak in a hike.  Terry from s/v Libertine had picked up a fantastic hiking guide of Dominica while he was in Roseau.  We joined he and crewmate Sarah for a 5 hour hike that took us along the rugged shoreline of NW Dominica and then through a few tiny communities, the western shores and finally back to Portsmith.
Note the centenarian, Dominica has a high percentage of centenarians
FYI - The boat guys make the most money from their islands tours and hikes.  While you can do many of these by yourself, especially the hikes, it's worth it to go on a few of these hired tours and hikes.  All the boat guys along with all the taxi drivers on Dominica go through training and testing on the flora/fauna, history, traditions of Dominica.
New boat for someone

Western shore looking south
Final note - On our hike we saw over a hundred mango trees with the fruit just coming on. of our TO DO/TO SEE - stop in Dominica as we head south again for further hiking and MANGOES!!!  Dominica's oldest centenarian reportedly lived to 128 years of age and attributed her long live to all the mangoes she ate.
Unusual beach house

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Cruising Peeps

Sarah, Terry, Sabrina, Karsten, Julia

Cruising is made up of a lot of things:  adventure, exploration, learning, excitement, challenges, maintenance, good weather, bad weather, frustrations, fun, etc.... We believe cruising is whatever you make of it.  One big part for us is the people we meet - locals and other cruisers.  Actually the characters we meet....and there have been some!  This past month we have met new people, got to know others better and of course had some fun adventures.

Ian and Fiona
Farewell Team Ruffian.  Hugs and Fair Winds until we meet again!!!

Toby and Judith

Tom and Heiko
Carol and Bruce
And many more I dont' have pics of.