Hurricane update, knitting projects and fun in BC

First off, Isaac came ashore in Martinique as a Tropical Depression, so it broke up as it crossed the island, thank goodness. No damage and hoping the remainder of the hurricane season is without incident.

AND…WELCOME TO CANADA!

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While here in BC, we took the ferry and spent a week on Vancouver Island in the town of Sidney. While there, we drove up island a ways to Ladysmith, BC and we met with another sailor that I met on Facebook, with another steel sailboat. It was fun to meet him, share dinner and stories with him and compare notes. A new friend was made! If you have an interest, his FaceBook page is “S/V Ocean Angel” (the name of his boat) and he posts some amazing photos of his sailing here in the BC area.

Also while on the island, we took walks, and biked and explored the town of Sidney, a beautiful little harbor town with a marina:

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Sidney, BC, Canada

and drove down to Victoria to view sunsets.

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Sunset at Victoria, BC, Canada

We also visited Burchart Garden while we were there on the island. A beautiful garden and very interesting story that I’ll share via these photo’s from their website:

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The gardens were amazing, and they had a beautiful rose garden that I just couldn’t get enough of!

Besides “work” (yes, we do work while on the road-helps to pay the bills), we’ve explored the White Rock BC area. OH! And here in BC, blackberries are wild! When I say wild, I mean WILD! They are ALL OVER! So we just had to spend a few hours one day, and pick 2 bowls full! So much that by the end of the week, we had almost finished them, but not quite, and gave them to the owner of the AirB&B, a real sweet woman.

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Wild Blackberries, BC, Canada

White Rock is on the mainland, and has been good as well. It has REALLY expensive homes here, like the cheapest is $1Million CAD! It’s unbelievable. They are beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but I keep thinking, what do you DO with all that space (5000-6000 sqft!). I’m so glad I live the life that we do.

White Rock has a beautiful Promenade and Pier that we take walks on (when it’s not cloudy, foggy and raining).

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White Rock, BC, Canada Pier

White Rock faces south, so we don’t get sunsets here. A short 15 minute drive away is a town called Crescent Beach which faces west. Spent one afternoon there:

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Crescent Beach, BC, Canada

AND I FOUND A YARN SHOP! Only 5 minutes from us, and I bought some amazing yarn from South Africa called Louet. There was a finished knitted cowl at the yarn shop, and I had to get enough yarn to make 2!

Finished cowl at the yarn shop:

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Finished knitted cowl on display at Local Yarn Shop (LYS)

And this is how far I’ve come in just under a week, my cowl:

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Knitted cowl in progress

And I must update the afghan that I’m making (since put on hold until I finish these 2 cowls), it has a beautiful celtic cable in the middle of it.

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My afghan with celtic cables

The last few days we had amazing weather, so we took a road trip to Squamish and Whistler. We stopped and hiked Shannon Falls in Squamish. They were amazing cascading waterfalls!

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Shannon Falls
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Shannon Falls
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Shannon Falls

Our drive to Whistler was on a clear beautiful sunny day. These are some of the mountain peaks covered in snow that we saw as we were driving there:

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Taken while Greg was driving-yea, the windshield was a bit dirty. So ignore those spots!

Upon arriving at Whistler Village, we missed the ride to the top of the ski hill on the Gondola. They had closed during weekdays for the season, only last Friday! Shoot, they are now only running the Gondola on weekends. So, we walked around the Village, then took a short walk to Lost Lake. There are bear sightings here, and Greg was anxious to see one! But I sure wasn’t. And we didn’t, there were quite a few people around so they were probably staying away. But there is an area very near Whistler Village where Grizzly bears have been seen. Needless to say, those trails have been closed to hikers!

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Whistler Village

On our way home from Whistler we stopped at the Tantalus Lookout:

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And this is a photo of what the local “parks” are like, from our hike this afternoon. So very lush and thick foliage! Just beautiful!
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And finally I leave you with an amazing sunset view from our “home” where we are staying. Even facing south, the sunset colors are beautiful.

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Prayers for Aquataurus and all in the Caribbean

As we enjoy our time here in BC, Canada, we have been watching this hurricane season, which has been relatively quiet…until now. We are now closely watching “Invest 92L”, which is currently off the African coast, moving westward. This is how they name tropical depressions before they become storms or hurricanes.

Chris Parker is an accurate and widely known meteorologist who monitors weather in the Caribbean. This was posted on FaceBook today by him:

“Chris Parker’s SSB net this morning warns E Caribbean about Invest 92 ( currently 35°W-14°N)
His prediction? 70% Tropical storm or Hurricane makes a landfall St Lucia or Dominica or somewhat Northward around Wed Sept 12 or Thurs 13
However, that’s 5 days from now and predictions can change. It could strike anywhere!”

Martinique is between St. Lucia and Dominica. Some we know in Martinique are sailing south to Grenada this weekend.

This is a future prediction image, of what it could look like by next Thursday, Sept 13. We hope it takes a more northerly route. You can see “Castries” in the yellow/green area, that’s in St. Lucia, 23 miles south or Martinique.

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So say a few prayers for Aquataurus, and for our friends and all in that area. Thank you!

A busy 3 weeks but finally back in the good ole U.S. of A.

After a long day yesterday, we finally arrived at Gregs brothers home in Florida late last night, to the first tropical storm of the season, Alberto! It’s been windy (mostly) with occasional showers since we arrived.

But since the last entry, we have been busy cleaning, putting away and securing AT on the hard. The last thing we did on Friday morning, was haul the dinghy up from the docks to AT (we had a cover template made for the tubes-will be ready when we return January 2019), cleaned the bottom, used a halyard to pull it up to the foredeck, deflate it and secure it with lines for a potential hurricane. I was exhausted. It’s been an emotional and physically draining 3 weeks. We felt everything was done, what could be done, by about 12:30pm, so headed back to the AirB&B to visit a beach one last time.

Over the past week, we ate out a lot, found some great restaurants and exceptional food in St. Anne, and enjoyed the last of our Caribbean sea sunsets.

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Caribbean sunset, St. Anne, May 2018

Right after our return to our AirB&B, our neighbor, Julie (from France), came over and brought us each a type of “Mango Ti Punch” with mango’s and rhum. What a nice treat with lunch! We returned the glasses and they invited us to stay for a bit and visit. Jean-Claude speaks some English, where the others (Julie and another couple from France-just arrived) spoke French. Greg did really well with his french conversation! But for my sake, Jean-Claude spoke some English. It was a nice visit, with nice French folks. Guess I may just have to brush up, seriously, on some French!

Then we headed to the last beach visit. We went to one of our favorite beaches called “Basilica Beach”, just a short 10 minutes drive from our unit. It felt fabulous to be in the sea again (and yes, that is a sailboat ashore, from the hurricanes last year-might just be a permanent fixture on the beach?).

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Yesterday morning, we met a good friend, Kenn (just met early this year-has a boat on the docks) for coffee. And another Frenchman we met last year-2017 (Gwendel-who plans to sail this year yet, to Guatemala) also coincidentally came to the restaurant we were at with Kenn. It was good to visit, and say one last good bye to both of them. With this lifestyle, I’m not sure when or if, we will ever see either of them again. But we do have contact information and will keep in touch via email.

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Kenn (left), Gwendel (middle) and Greg at L’Anexxe for one last visit and good-bye

It has been a great year with AT, we met numerous friends over the past 4 months, that we hope to keep in touch with and perhaps meet again next sailing season.

Our 4 hour flight got us in to Miami about 7:30pm. It is really strange being able to read all the signage, and hear “English” being spoken. AND to have good internet access again! I think that was probably the toughest part of the last 4 months!

So, what does the next chapter look like? Who knows! Our plans are to return to Minnesota until the end of July 2018. Visiting family and friends. So, stay tuned for the next chapter in this crazy gypsy life!

17 days until haul-out

Only 17 days until we haul Aquataurus out for hurricane season (May 21). Where has the time gone? It has been an amazing sailing season here in Martinique and St. Lucia. Aquatuarus has treated us well, we’ve had some amazing sailing this season. And this “home” has been the longest we’ve stayed in one place since we sold our home in September 2017! So Aquataurus is truly our only home now. We’ve booked an Air B&B in Minnesota for June and July and will travel the US visiting family and friends until we return in January 2019. I think both Greg and I are ready to visit with family and friends, do some hiking (in Minnesota), and mountain hikes (in Colorado and Washington).

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Aquataurus anchored in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

You might wonder what is involved in getting a sailboat ready for hurricane season, and being put “on the hard” (on metal stands in the boatyard) for 7 months.

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Aquataurus “on the hard” in the boatyard last Nov/Dec 2017

In preparation for hauling out, one of the things I need to think about the groceries that we have, and try to use everything up that I can (since Greg is the technician- I’m the galley cook). Some things do stay, like the spices, minimal canned goods and dried foods (ie rice and pasta). But I try to use up as much as I can before we leave. So, because our time on AT is now limited, I’m thinking about those things each day.

This year, some other things I need to do to get ready for hurricane season (since Greg does the technical stuff) include taping newspaper on all the windows and hatches (to protect the inside from the sun), wash all surfaces inside the boat with a vinegar/water 50/50 solution (to prevent mold and mildew). After we haul out and are on the hard, I need to remove all the netting and label it all for next year (this prevented Toto from accidently falling off the boat!), drop the anchor and all the chain (240 feet) onto the ground to wash it all (removes the salt from the sea on the anchor chain) then haul it back onto the boat (with the motorized windlass-we don’t do this by hand!) and into the anchor locker. We remove the sailing canopy on the wheelhouse with the hurricane canopy. All of the cushions inside need to be put vertical (from horizontal) on the beds and settees (provides aeration). The dinghy needs to be deflated and secured to the foredeck (tied very well for those high winds). All the fenders need to be cleaned (from the salt) and placed inside the boat.

This year I also plan to replace all of the curtains, so I need to remove them all, tape newspaper on all the windows (to protect the inside from the UV from the sun), and take them all home. I plan to make new curtains while traveling in the states (I need to remember to get my sewing machine out of storage, to take on the road!).

Next week while we are still at anchor (we are NOT going to think about hauling out preparation for the next few days :-)), we can start doing some of these things. We will take down the 2 forward sails and fold them up and store them below, I will start washing down the inside surfaces with vinegar/water.
This is only a short list of what needs to be done to secure Aquataurus for hurricane season. You should see the list that Greg has! It’s pages…I’m sure you can believe that! Actually, he has a daily list started, so we get things done each day and check them off. I haven’t seen the daily list yet, but I’m sure I will next week when we start.

The next few days we will just be enjoying the sun, wind and sea. Taking the time each day to savor this place.

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In a few weeks, we will be getting ready for the next chapter of our adventures stateside! And visiting with missed family and friends. Looking forward to that next chapter. But a lot of work to do before then.

Will miss these views over the next 7 months, but we will be back soon enough.

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St. Lucia sunset

 

More adventures from St. Lucia

Right after my last blog, we pulled anchor in Les Anses D’Arlet in Martinique, and sailed to Rodney Bay in St. Lucia, about 5-6 hour sail. Unfortunately, we saw no dolphins or whales during our sail.

While in Rodney Bay, we met up with friends Sue and Peter on Lorensu, and Carin and Guy on Makin Smiles. Spent a few days there, said our good-byes to Sue and Peter, as they were heading north back to Martinique to prepare Lorensu for haul out and to fly back to Bermuda for the hurricane season. Until next season…

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Lorensu heading in to Rodney Bay Marina to clear out of customs, to head north to Martinique for the end of the season.

We decided to head south, but weren’t sure where yet (Souffriere or Marigot Bay). Guy and Carin had sailed to Marigot Bay a few days before we were leaving, and they emailed us to say how beautiful it was, it’s a hurricane hole full of moorings. And for the cost of the mooring ($30USD/night), you get full access to Capella Resort Capella Resort, Marigot Bay, St. Lucia. This includes excellent wifi, their workout room, spa, and 2 resort pools. One has a swim up bar and 2 for 1 happy hour from 4-5pm! Like a little vacation! So we sailed to Marigot Bay, and had the BEST sail yet this season! Great winds, easy calm sailing, no big waves or gusty winds. It took only 2 hours to get there, with that sailing we could have gone on for hours!

And Guy and Carin were right! Marigot Bay is amazing!

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Marigot Bay sunset

We had met with our friend Louis, a Canadian on Katarina, who helped secure a driver for a St. Lucia tour one day, with Guy and Carin. Smally, the driver, was amazing, he took us to the Sulphur springs, the mud baths, where we painted ourselves with sulphur mud, and he took black sulphur mud and “decorated” us! What a bunch!

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and the botanical gardens.

It was a great day.

While in Marigot, we met other Canadians, Americans and Australians (usually at the 4-5pm Happy Hour at the pool)ABCC3A3C-D6A0-44F3-8962-FD19F0FD0AE6 2

and at the end of that week, there were 12 of us! The night before pretty much every one was heading north or south for hurricane season, we all gathered at the Indian restaurant in the Bay, Masala Bay.Masala Bay restaurant, Marigot Bay, St. Lucia It was amazing Indian food! The best we’ve had in a long time…and in the Caribbean! Who’d a thought!

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Gregs name for our group: “The Marigot dozen”

Greg and I went back a second time before we left Marigot Bay.

I could re-write everything that Greg has in his blog, about all the wonderful people that we met there. But instead, I’ll head you over to Gregs blog, where he finally writes a “non-technical” blog post! Head over there to read about the people that we met.

We spent another week at Marigot Bay, and it was pretty lonely after everybody left! Sailboats are required to fly a flag from the country where the sailboat is registered. This is how we meet other sailors! I usually look for an American flagged boat, then head over on our dinghy to say hi! That is how we met now good friends Guy and Carin on Makin Smiles. So, after everybody left, I look around to see if there are any other American flagged boats in the mooring field (by this time, it’s pretty empty there, maybe only 2-4 other boats, everybody is moving to get their boats ready for hurricane season). Yep, there is a catamaran so over we head. We introduce ourselves to Charlie and Karen, and had a nice chat. They invited us over for happy hour for more visiting. Come to find out, they are from Wisconsin, near Hudson, and Charlie raced in the St. Croix regatta on Fast Lane for years! And we raced on Winsome for years! It’s a small, small world! So we spent time with them while in Marigot Bay and are keeping in touch via email.

Also while in Marigot Bay, one afternoon, we see a sailboat called “Lionheart II”! OH MY! Jesse Martin was the youngest person to sail around the world (circumnavigate), solo, non-stop and unassisted, and wrote a book “Lionheart” about it. Jesse Martin/Lionheart story . We saw (Lionheart II), his 2nd sailboat. He sailed back out of our harbor (didn’t pick up a mooring), so later on Greg and I took our dinghy out to the anchorage right outside the mooring harbor, and he was anchored there. I had to meet him! So we dinghy’d out there and said hi and chatted a bit. I wanted to take a photo, but that would be just weird.

And as we were returning to our boat, what do I see moored? “Sophisticated Lady” with Rick Moore Rick Moore/Sophisticated Lady YouTube Channel We have been following a few YouTube sailors and their adventures since about 2015, and Sophisticated Lady is one of them. So I FaceBook texted Rick, and he replied back, and we visited for a bit the next morning.

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Aerial view of Marigot Bay and Capella Resort. We hiked up to the top. Aquataurus is circled

The adventures in Marigot Bay! The last 3 days or so of our stay there, it was raining, a lot. So it wasn’t all sunny and warm out. But that’s ok. It’s a beautiful place none the less. Great places to eat Doolittles Doolittles restaurant Pirates Bay Pirates Bay restaurant

Oh, and interesting, there is a water ferry that goes back and forth across the little bay, taking people back and forth. Just runs all day long and we used it a couple times, they picked us up at the boat and took us to the restaurants.

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Marigot Bay water taxi

We really enjoyed our time in St. Lucia, and will make it a destination for sure, in future years.

From Marigot Bay we headed north to Rodney Bay to clear out of customs and get a few groceries, for only 1 night, before we headed north to Martinique. Our sail to Les Anses D’Arlet was as amazing as our sail down to Marigot Bay! Another perfect sail, and we could have kept going!

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It felt like sailing on Lake Pepin for 4 hours.

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Aquataurus (circled) in Les Anses D’Arlet

 

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A Les Anses D’Arlet sunset

 

Hello from Aquataurus in St. Lucia…again!!

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Aquataurus anchored in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Since our return sail to Martinique from St. Lucia in February, Gregs sister Janet arrived for her 2nd annual vacation on Martinique! We had some lovely days in St. Anne, doing beach time and water time off the back of Aquataurus-I even bought 2 noodles for us to use in the water. We found that the beaches of St. Anne are ideal for her vacation, and spent many afternoons in the water there and drinking Planteur Punches (rhum punches).

From St. Anne (south) in Martinique, we sailed to Anse Mitan (north) with Jan, also located on Martinique-on the south western shore. It was a beautiful sail, about 6 hours. We got a good anchor set (on the first try!) and we have been set here since.

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We’ve taken the ferry from Anse Mitan to the large city of Fort de France, across the bay. Janet was able to do some souvenir shopping, AND I found knitting needles! I’ve been without since getting here, and haven’t been able to find any. But in a very tiny, obscure little fabric shop in Fort de France, I found the ONLY set of double pointed knitting needles! BUT…they are about 12 inches LONG!!! Really long! But I’m working with it, and am making yoga socks with them. It can be a bit clumsy, but they are working. I’ll be leaving these here so I have them when I need them.

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Another thing I found while in St. Anne, is a guitar! YES!! Three times a week on the VHF is an English “Martinique Cruisers Net” for about 30-45 minutes, where English speaking cruisers can provide useful information, help, or sell things. Well, that day, a delightful couple from Canada announced that she wanted to sell her guitar (apparently she converted to a ukelele instead!). So that afternoon after the net, we went over to their sailboat, and I checked it out, and it was fantastic! Not too big, not too small. Now I just have to take the time to get back in to playing it! And bring more music with me from the US next year. I feel good!

Another thing that happened while Janet was here, was a general announcement on the VHF from a cruiser, one evening, for a medical person/nurse to look at theirs sons foot which was cut on the beach while playing in the water there. Being the nurse I am, I responded, and they came over to our boat where I looked at it, cleaned it, and bandaged it up. I suggested they see the doctor in Le Marin, and he needed a tetanus shot. Guess this experience reinforces that I really should take a first aid course when back in the states.  But it looked very clean! He was a young man with his wife, on vacation with his mom and dad in the islands. Bummer, he probably wasn’t going swimming the rest of this vacation.

We also visited our favorite rum distillery in Martinique: La Mauny! We stocked up on some our favorite rums!

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Janet and Greg outside the rhum distillery tasting room

We arrived back in St. Lucia two days ago, on Tuesday, April 3.

And last night, had some stunning sunset views! Some suggest its from the Sahara dust that crosses the Atlantic. It was amazing:

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St. Lucia sunset
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Just before the amazing red sky sunset

And of course, Toto has adjusted well to the life of a boat dog:

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Toto hanging on the aft deck
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WHAT???
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Let’s see what I can find out here!

Every country is different on its laws about bringing a dog to shore. St. Lucia is really strict, so during our time here, he stays on the boat, no shore time for him here. But I don’t think he really minds his time on the boat. The only time he minds it, is when we are NOT with him (when we go to shore). But other than that, he eats, pees and poops and pretty much sleeps ALOT! Getting old, I guess. But still in his prime!

Have met some amazing people from San Diego, Guy and Carin (aboard “Makin Smiles”), who we’ve had some good times with this afternoon, exploring our small area of St. Lucia, hiking, lunch, visiting and just having a good time. We hope to stay in contact and perhaps be able to visit them in San Diego when we are in the US at some point. It’s amazing the people/sailors one meets, from all over. Making for good friendships!

Plans are to probably stay in St. Lucia exploring, for the next few weeks, before we head north to Martinique to prepare for hurricane season and coming home to the US.

Until next time (promise I’ll try not to make it so long between blog posts, but internet is spotty at best in the islands).

 

 

Sailing to St. Lucia

This past week, we made the trip to the neighboring island of St. Lucia, about 20 nautical miles. But the night before we spent with our friends Sue and Peter, on the boat Lorensu (a lovely couple we met last year, friends of the previous owners of Aquataurus-met them last year when they delivered our newly purchased outboard for our dinghy, from St. Lucia).

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We agreed to sail “together” to St. Lucia. But that term is relative because we really can’t sail together. It just means that we would leave in the morning and meet each other again at the anchorage in St. Lucia. Here is a photo of Aquataurus heading to St. Lucia under full sail:

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It was a beautiful sail and took us about 5 hours. It was good to get to learn sailing on AT. We didn’t do much of that last year because of the windy conditions. It was VERY windy here as well, most of January and February! But the wind finally died down enough to allow us our sail to St. Lucia.

While there, we needed to fill our propane tanks so I can cook! Martinique does not allow propane, they have butane gas tanks. We could convert to butane, but that is another whole process to convert and we think we have enough projects going on, we didn’t want one more. And we had to pick up our new custom ordered stack pack. This is put on the boom so that the main sail can just drop into it and there is no need then for a mainsail cover. It was delivered from Barbados to the customs office in St. Lucia, where we picked it up.

So the process from going to a different country (St. Lucia) is interesting. First, on Sunday (planning to sail on Monday), we needed to clear out with customs in Martinique (taking our passports and boat documentation to customs and immigration and printing the paperwork that we have left Martinique). Then we need to leave within 24-48 hours (conflicting information from different people!). We have a “flag” of the country that we have cleared in to (Martinique-a French country, thus the French flag), flying off our starboard (right side) of the boat. When we arrive to St. Lucia, we need to change that flag to a yellow “Q” flag, meaning we haven’t cleared into the new country of St. Lucia yet. So upon arriving, Greg needed to take all our boat documentation and passports to customs and immigration in St. Lucia. Once we have “cleared” into this new country (getting the paperwork at customs), we need to fly the St. Lucia flag. We repeat this process when we returned to Martinique.

Our anchor set in Rodney Bay, Gros Islet allowed a beautiful first sunset.

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Aquataurus in Rodney Bay in St. Lucia, she’s so beautiful, our “home”:

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And Toto has returned to being a “boat dog”, loving the anchoring life:

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We returned to Martinique (same customs process as before) on Thursday. And we are currently docked at the riggers docks for final (we hope) work to be done. On Friday, the necessary workers were all over trying to get things done: headstay and forestay taken down to shorten (they were too long when put on a few months ago), electrician pulled line so the new solar panel can be connected, and yesterday, the new solar panel was put on the back new davit system that we had made in November. Greg is happy with the energy being put out with the new solar system, when the Captain is happy, everyone is happy!

The only thing left (the reason we are still at the docks) is that the rigging needs to be tuned yet, and today is Sunday and nobody works on Sunday! So hopefully everything will be done by tomorrow afternoon and we can head out to anchor on Tuesday morning early.

We don’t want to head out to the anchorage in the afternoon because the sun is starting its descent to the west, and we can’t see the bottom of the sea clearly enough to set a good anchor. We usually anchor in about 4 meters (12 feet) of water, and plan to motor over to the area of St. Anne, which might take about an hour of motoring. So we like to have anchor set by 2-3pm at the latest. Then, after we set anchor, we let it sit for about an hour to see if we are dragging at all. If we are, we need to pull up the anchor, and “re-anchor”! So this whole process might take some time. We do have an app (iNavx) on our phone that alerts us if we move outside of a circular perimeter, extending about 1 boat length beyond the length of our anchor chain to the anchor. This is pretty handy and we, so far, have had great and solid anchor sets!

Today, we plan on putting on that new stack pack onto the boom. Might be an all day job, we shall see. Usually if we think a job will take 2 hours, it’ll usually actually be 4-5 hours! It’s just the way it is living on a boat.

Not sure what I did to deserve this look! Maybe “mom you interrupted my beauty sleep!”:

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