The past 2 weeks have been REALLY busy! On March 12, Gregs sister and her friend arrived in Martinique. We stayed in Le Marin the next day and showed them around Le Marin. The next day we did a day sail around the bay and ended up anchored in St. Anne. We wanted to see how Janets friend tolerated the seas and seasickness.
Well… it wasn’t good. She was sick the entire 2 hour sail, despite taking meds for it! Felt so bad for her! We let her decide if she wanted to make the 4-5 hour sail down to St. Lucia. She had a different med with her, and decided to use that and try it.
So we had a beautiful sail do St. Lucia! But 2 hours in, she started getting nauseated again, with 2-3 hours yet to go! Poor thing. She toughed it out holding onto a bucket .
We had a glorious time in St. Lucia. We took them to Jambe de Bois for 2 nights of good jazz, and they had an all-day island tour before leaving the island. And we introduced them to a local fruit called Soursop. Then we needed to return to Martinique. We found a pharmacy while in St. Lucia and she got yet a different medication that makes her sleepy. So she got that, and she took the maximum dose before we headed sailing north. She slept the entire way! She was a very happy camper! Better than holding a bucket!
So we headed back to St. Anne in Martinique for a few days, to explore the St. Anne beaches, both Basilic and Les Saline.
On our way to Les Saline (a 2-3 mile hike, one way) we encountered these “red crabs” in the forest. There must have been thousands! You could hear the leaves rustling as they were scurrying out of our way. It was just crazy. We had never seen this before on our previous hikes to Les Saline, so I’m not sure if it was a migration or mating behavior!
Then one more sail was needed to get to the bay in Anse Mitan where we would rent a car and get them to the airport. She took her meds and slept most of the way there. So it was a good sail.
We explored the town of Anse Mitan and the island via rental car. We went to the Pottery Village as well as our favorite rum distillary LaMauny.
I think they had a good time. Now to put our “home” back together: stripping sheets and getting laundry done, cleaning, sweeping, dusting, getting water, getting groceries, etc.
When living on a boat, there is no way to just “run to the store” if you are missing something! So I try to stay well stocked on the basics, olive oil, spices, canned goods and staples. But when you can get fresh fruits, vegetables and meats, those are priority to use first as they don’t last as long as the others. And our refrigerator isn’t all that big, maybe 2 feet deep by 2 feet long and wide. There is a cold plate on one side which freezes food nicely when placed against it, but you want to be careful to NOT place something near/against it that you don’t want to freeze! Like lettuce!
So while I am master of the galley, Greg is master of everything else technical. So I try to keep him out of my galley! It’s frustrating when he puts something somewhere else where it doesn’t belong or rearranges the refrigerator where something that doesn’t belong on the cold plate gets put there! I also have baskets at the very bottom of the refrigerator for items for long term storage like cheeses, butter and lunch meats. I know where these are, so it’s best that I make the meals.
That brings me to my next point, I love creating new dishes! And I would like to start sharing my creations. I know these blogs aren’t for everyone, so if you are interested in some of my creations, read on! I’ll share only 1 creation in each blog.
So here is my most recent creation.
In a skillet, sauté olive oil and diced onion. Add pressed garlic, stirring constantly.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to instructions. Any kind will do, I used linguini as that is what I had on hand.
To the skillet add any vegetables that you have. Add salt and pepper. The first time I made it I added a whole bag of spinach and cooked it down. The last time I had fresh green beans that needed to be used. Once the vegetables and sautéed to your liking, add a few spoonfuls of pesto sauce (I can get a small jar at the stores here), and a small jar of marinara sauce. The marinara sauce here comes in 4-6 ounces but any size would do. Add a handful of shredded mozzarella or any soft meltable cheese, stir well until it’s well mixed and cheese melted.
Put a small amount of olive oil in a casserole dish, spread all over, add the pasta, top with the marinara mixture, the add slices of mozzarella over the top. Place under the broiler until the cheese is golden brown. Remove and cut into squares.
Now it may come out a bit messy (hard to cut that linguini, or anything not a lasagna noodle!), but it tastes amazing!!
Carnival in Martinique is an annual holiday that begins 4 days before Ash Wednesday. Its origins are from the Christian faith brought over by the Europeans when they settled here in the 17th century. It is one of the most unique festivals of its kind anywhere in the world and is inspired by French, African and Latin American cultures.
Originally, it was celebrated in the former capital city of St. Pierre in the 17th century by the French Catholics, and was originally only for the rich members of the French colonies. They were highlighted by extravagant balls for the rich in St. Pierre, while there were separate celebrations by the slaves of the island. This separation of festivities continued even after the abolition of slavery in 1848, but a disaster 54 years later in 1902 changed all that.
In 1902, the capital city of St. Pierre was completely destroyed when the volcano Mount Pelee erupted. Two years later, Carnival resumed in the new capital of Fort-de-France, and the 2 cultures (the rich elite and the common people of the island) were brought together and their unique traditions were incorporated into the events of Carnival.
During Carnival, the daily life of Martinique comes to a stand still and the island comes alive with “Carnival Fever”. Preparations start months in advance. During the 5 days of official celebrations many of the younger generation don’t sleep, parading at day and partying at night.
Martiniques most famous musical groups spread out across the island between the parades ensuring the villages are filled with music 24 hours a day and drawing crowds in their wake.
Carnival is also an opportunity to show off the traditional masks of the island: The red clay men wear masks covered entirely in red clay, the negs gwo-sirop, men coated from head to toe in sugar syrup and charcoal, are caricatures of the rebel slaves from Africa in contrast to the native Creole islanders. Also are the mariann lapofig dressed entirely in banana leaves, the mokozombis are dancers on African inspired trampolines, and the guiablesses in glitzy costumes by both the beautiful girls of the island as well as the young men cross-dressing.
Saturday and Sunday of Carnival mark the true beginning of Carnival with bands, parties and parades filling the streets of villages across Martinique. Most of it is centered in the capital, Fort-de-France. Revelers partake in a number of activities including carrying around homemade puppets known as bwa bwa, and others playfully scare children with bodies covered in coal tar and sugar-cane syrup. Each village elects a Queen (usually over 60 yo) and a Junior Queen (usually 10-12 yo) to be carried at the grand parade, wearing their finest traditional costumes. A full day of celebration gives way to a night of music and the beguine dance, a dance which originated in Martinique.
There is even a street parade in pajamas that starts at 5am filling the streets with the shuffling of slippered feet!
On Monday, Carnival transforms into a burlesque day full of weddings, and men dressing in drag and women dressing as bridegrooms. This day of celebration is strongly linked to religious beliefs as the end of Carnival marks the start of Lent, when the inhabitants of Martinique practice fasting and abstinence. During this time, weddings are not to be held, making Monday an important day of celebration.
Tuesday is know as the day of the devil. All day long the inhabitants of Martinique celebrate by dressing all in red and wear devil masks in parades and celebrations across the island. This leads to the final day of Carnival, on Ash Wednesday.
On Ash Wednesday the she devils and devils mourn the death of the King of Carnival known as Vaval. Vaval is a satirical mannequin representing a politician, a public figure or an institution and is carried through the streets leading the festival parade. The Carnival Queen is seated beside the Vaval during the parades. The Carnival Kings death and ceremonial burning of the king (a large homemade puppet) in the square in Fort-de-France brings the celebration of Carnival to an end. Thousands of mourners dress in black and white and parade to mourn the passing of Vaval.
At the end of the celebrations, the island enters the period of Lent which leads up to Easter. Lent, the period of fasting and abstinence coincides with the dry season on Martinique. Tradition requires that one does not dance, listen to music and all wedding and other celebrations are postponed until after Lent.
We haven’t observed Carnival yet here in this anchorage in Le Marin (it has been pretty quiet here) but last year we were anchored in Fort-de-France and heard the parades, music, etc. Loud cars are also very popular during Carnival and we heard many driving the streets in Fort-de-France. I guess it’s a celebration of “loudness”, the louder the better!
Last week we motor sailed from Soufriere to Rodney Bay in St. Lucia. We didn’t expect 35+ knot wind gusts, but that’s what we got! We only had a reefed main up, so not a lot of sail. Aquataurus took the winds and 5-7 foot seas wonderfully! No anxiety at all, just put on the auto helm, sat back and relaxed, watching the island go by.
By the time we got to Rodney Bay, we went over to the far north side of the bay by Pigeon Island, where we know is good sand and good anchor holding.
This year is St. Lucia’s 40th Anniversary of Independence from England. And we all know what that means! People in the Caribbean LOVE to party! So last Friday was their Independence Day, and on Thursday night, LOUD party started about 8pm. Well, thought that was ok, then 10pm, so yea, that’s ok. Midnight, came…and went…!!! Ok, so now it’s time to stop so we can get some sleep (water carries sound very well, and they were right on Pigeon Island beach). So, 3am…came and went!!!! It didn’t stop until 5am! YIKES! But, we in the US know how crazy it can be there during the 4th of July! And it was their 40th year, and they were all very happy.
That weekend, we took our dinghy to Jambe de Bois restaurant located on Pigeon Island. It’s a 2 minute ride over there (we purposely anchored there so we could visit the restaurant often, and we are glad we did!). So that Friday night, they had live music starting at 7pm. They had a trumpet and sax player, and the jazz was amazing. I guess there is a huge jazz scene on the island, and in fact, there is a St. Lucia Jazz Festival in May that we hope to be able to come back for.
Then on Sunday night, again, live music at Jambe de Bois (we missed Saturday, we needed to catch up on some sleep!). That night, was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!! Bass, drums, keyboards played amazing jazz! We were with other sailing friends, and we all stayed until close, which was about 10pm. This group is trying to make it onto the Jazz Festival venue in May. The keyboard players daughter also sang a few jazz tunes. It was a night to remember! And we will be back!
While we were anchored near Pigeon Bay, Malachi, our new friend from St. Lucia always passed by us each morning and evening. He sells his wares on the beach to tourists as they go by on their way to hike the fort or to the restaurant. Every time he came by on his pierogue (long flat boat), he would stop to say hi and be sure everything is all right. We will miss him when we leave for the season, but hoping to make it back to St. Lucia one more time before we haul out in May.
During our time in Rodney Bay, it was VERY windy! We continued to listen to forecasts for lighter winds to sail to Martinique. The forecast finally turned with somewhat lighter winds ESE, so on Wednesday this past week, we left Rodney Bay (after clearing out at customs the day before) about 8:30am, had an amazing sail, with 8 foot seas on our beam, and Aquataurus taking it all so gently, 20 tons cutting into the waves, it was a very comfortable sail.
While sailing, we keep an eye out for dolphin or whales. No such luck again during this sail.
We anchored in Martinique by 1pm, in our usual spot near the mangroves.
We plan on getting errands done, provisioning, some things fixed, etc for a few days and hope to sail up island here in Martinique to some small anchorages that we have not yet seen.
Today (Sunday) Carnival begins here in Martinique. During Carnival, many of the shops and stores are closed. So it’s best to plan and get enough groceries, etc so that we don’t run out of anything!
I will write a separate blog about the HUGE celebration of Carnival here in Martinique. It is a VERY big celebration!
This year we have had normal trade winds, which means they weren’t blowing 30! Which means good sailing weather! So, the first week of February we had an amazing sail to St. Lucia, Rodney Bay. It was perfect weather and winds. Just lovely.
Upon arriving in Rodney Bay, we set our new anchor down, and Greg snorkeled it. No good. Apparently the Rocna just lays on top of rock, and cannot dig in very well. So he comes back and we lift it and move to another spot. Same thing! So back he comes to lift the anchor and low and behold, as he brings the chain up, he needs to make room in the anchor locker or it gets all tangled up and is a MESS to untangle (think heavy chain links). WELL, that happened! Luckily the anchor was off the bottom, so I made slow circles as he tried to untangle the anchor chain stuck in the anchor tube. As in all Murphy’s law situations, the rubber hammer that he uses to open the windlass wheel, broke off! So I’m still slowly circling as he goes to find another hammer to use (he has since purchased a new all rubber hammer). We figure the original hammer with a wooden handle was probably pretty old, but what a time for that to happen! More than a few choice words were spoken that day in the bow!
But Greg finally got the anchor chain freed, and we moved way over to the other side of the bay where we know there is no rock and mostly a sandy bottom, and set the anchor successfully. Was a beautiful 4 hour sail to Rodney Bay, and 2 hours messing with the anchor getting an anchor set! AND Greg still had to clear us in to St. Lucia customs office! We were exhausted. He left for customs about 3:30pm, came back at 4pm because he had to pay a fee for us to clear in and the ATM wasn’t working so had to come back for US cash! Like I said, Murphy’s Law was working with us that day! Luckily the customs office closed at 4:30pm, so he got back in time! We were certainly ready for Gin & Tonics when he got back, and a relaxing evening.
So we spent about 10 days in Rodney Bay, with the winds gusting to almost 30. We did chores, met our friends Sue and Peter, had a nice Valentines dinner (Italian) on shore. We also met some locals who we now consider good friends: Malakai, Lawrence at the dinghy dock (he watches the dinghys), and Gregory who comes out in his covered boat selling produce.
We pretty much chatted with each of them every day. Malakai sells some beautiful handcraft items, and we bought a few. He’s very knowledgeable and full of information.
While in Rodney Bay we also stocked up on groceries at the local grocery stores, because they have a lot of American food! We should be set for a while!
At the north end of Rodney Bay is a Pigeon Island National Park and this year we got an annual membership. With that, we won’t have to pay $21 Eastern Caribbean dollars (that’s about $7 USD) each time we go ashore, whether going to Jamb de Bois restaurant for drinks or a bite to eat, or to the Pigeon Island beach. And it helps support the local conservancy.
The winds lightened up some so last Saturday we decided to sail a bit down island to see some anchorages that we haven’t yet seen. Our first stop was a small fishing village called Anse De Raye. VERY small bay, with only room for maybe 2-3 other sailboats. We were the only ones anchored there. It was very quiet, cliffs on our port side (they looked closer than they actually were when we were on the boat). There are some security lights on shore, but not as bright or loud as was in Rodney Bay.
The day before we left that anchorage, we met a local called “Doctor Feel Good”, a fisherman. He had some nice snapper and a parrot fish. We brought him to our boat where he cleaned and filleted them all for us. We had 2 good meals from them. Since this is a fishing village, the fisherman leave early in the morning (3-7am) in a boat called a pierogue, which is made of wood and is flat bottomed. They fish 10-12 miles off shore, all day long, and come back in about 3-5pm. When they get the fish ashore, they blow a conch shell and this is how a person knows that fish are available. While in this anchorage, we saw many of these pierogues go out early in the morning and come back in late in the afternoon. Dr. Feel Good said that some days aren’t as good for fishing because of over fishing by large fisheries, there aren’t enough for the locals. Kind of sad, really.
After getting our fish from Dr. Feel Good, the next morning we motored down island to Soufriere, the winds were pretty light and from the wrong direction and it was only a short ways so we choose to just motor down instead of pulling out the sails. It took us less than 2 hours.
Soufriere is located near the Pitons on St. Lucia, which are tall mountains and has more of a rainforest type weather. The bay is considered a marine park, so there are mooring balls that you have to tied your boat to, instead of anchoring. Beautiful snorkeling! This protects the bottom of the sea around the bay. So locals in pierogues come out to our boat to help us tie to a mooring, and we pay them a bit of money for their services. There are numerous boat vendors in this bay as well, trying to sell you their wares. We did buy some fruit from a boat vendor. A young boy sold us fresh tuna (3-4 lbs!) came aboard and cleaned and cut us some nice tuna steaks. Enough for 4 meals! Can’t get much fresher fish than here.
Tomorrow we will head back north to Rodney Bay where we will stay a few days. Then we head back to Martinique.
We arrived in Martinique on January 4 this year, and spent about 2 weeks in the boatyard preparing AT for launch.
Upon first arriving in Martinique, we typically stay at an AirB&B for a few days until we can get AT organized enough to stay aboard her. This year was no exception. Some long hot working days. This year, as previous, Greg attended to the mechanical and more physical tasks, while I attended to cleaning and putting the inside back together. Washing everything down with vinegar and water to remove and prevent mildew. I even took all of the carpets out and washed them with soap and water while in the boat yard. They dry quickly in the sun and heat.
This year we brought canvas sealer from the states, I sprayed the outside of our winter canopy for the wheelhouse with it before we put it on. I also put some seam sealer on. And with the rains we have been having, no leaking! Last year, there was some leakage but this sealer took care of that!
While we still had a car rental, I found a fabric store online. The curtains in the aft cabin were pretty old and fragile, and ripping. So I got sunbrella fabric and our friends, Sue and Peter, also in the boatyard, had a sewing machine I could borrow. I spent one whole day cutting and basting them, and the next day, I sewed them, and put the curtain hooks on them for sliding into the track. I’m so proud of myself! With the broken English the saleslady spoke, and my broken French, I got enough material for more if needed.
While in the boatyard, we found a phone store and we bought a 40G SIM card this year and put it into our iPad. This gives us access to the internet! SWEET! It has worked extremely well, but we need to monitor our usage because we basically got it for our “work” access to email and the internet. It’s tempting to watch some Netflix with it!
So, the day that we got the SIM card, I thought I’d be nice to Toto and take him with us, since by that time we had been on the boat (in the boatyard) for about a week, and he hadn’t gotten off the boat! So that evening, as I was petting him and looking at his head, thinking it was dirty and he needed a bath, I found a tick!!!! I pretty much freaked because I HATE ticks! He hasn’t been on tick preventative since August because what he was on caused tremors, so I stopped using it. So, I pulled it out with a tweezers, thinking all was well, and cleaned the spot with alcohol. Four days later, on Wednesday, he didn’t wake up! He slept, and slept and slept! This was to be launch day, January 16. He was rousable, I picked him up and hand fed him, gave him water, and took him out to pee. I tried calling the vet I usually take him to (Dr. Maximin), but the phone number wouldn’t go through for some reason. That evening, I sent Dr. Maximin an email, and within 30 minutes he responded to bring him in the next day.
So the boat was launched that day, (it always amazes me how talented these boatyard guys are with these lifts!)
and we set the anchor in LeMarin bay, and the next day, took the dinghy in to LeMarin where I walked to Dr. Maximin with Toto. He took blood work and examined him. Apparently there is an epidemic of Ehrlichiosis (not lymes disease) in the area, caused by the bite of a brown tick. He has seen 15 cases so far! Luckily, treatment consists of 15 day course of antiobiotics. He gave him an injection of an antiobiotic and a steroid as well. And currently Toto is back to normal! Thank goodness!
This year, we purchased a new anchor, a Rocna, and it’s suppose to be the cream of the crop as far as anchors go. And we have not been disappointed! It seems to be bullet proof! We swam the anchor and saw how well it digs down into the sand! Yep, good choice this year!
In February, the locals hold yole skiff (traditional Martinique sailboat) races. One weekend it was a rainy one (boy don’t I know about racing in the rain-LOL). But the weekend before was beautiful and below are some photos of some of the races. The sails are quite colorful! It was interesting to see the races, being a racing sailor myself.
It was a beautiful full moon on the anchor as well. We were blessed to have some clear skies so we could see it. It was like daylight!
This past week when we left the Le Marin bay to go to St. Anne harbor, we took the time to do a day sail. We were able to sail with all 3 sails (main, jenny and staysail). Greg took the time to tweak each to get the best sail set (as determined by our fastest speed). He took notes and feel pretty confident now, on sail set. I took the time as well, and played with the auto helm. I even used it to tack. It’s a pretty sweet instrument! I can just set it and sit back and relax. I also used it when we were taking down the mainsail, it kept us in the wind much better than if I were steering myself!
This year, we also refitted the back canopy to fit with the changes we’ve made with the solar panel on the back. In St. Anne, we finally put it up! So nice! It’s like having a living room with 4 open sides! We can also drop themiddle down when it rains to catch rainwater for the water tanks. NICE!
We put our dinghy up each night, reason is safety (see below: the heavy chains by the outboard motor) as well as keeping the bottom clean. Dinghy theft can be a problem on some islands, and an outboard motor is a tempting steal. So it’s best to keep it locked with heavy chain. And if we didn’t lift it every night, the algae growth on the bottom can get pretty gross.
So we are settled in St. Anne for a few days. And then, maybe our next adventure to other islands begins!
Tomorrow we head to Martinique! The low temperature in Minnesota tonight is expected to be 0 degrees F! Can you imagine how excited we are to arrive at 85 degree F daily temperatures!
We had an amazing time visiting with family and friends over Christmas! We were able to spend valuable time with my daughter Sheena and her family (and 2 granddaughters), my mom, sis and brother in law, Gregs mom and dad, special friends in Illinois, Gregs son Kenny and his new fiancé. We were also able to meet up with friends for lunch. It was an amazing Christmas time this year sharing special memories with special people. I wish we could have met up with so many more friends, but the time was short and busy for everybody.
I also appreciate being able to “experience” the cold and snow this time of year. For me, it just wouldn’t be Christmas in warmer tropical climates. So the next blog will be from a warm sunny tropical location! Until next time!