Home, Sweet Home…

 watching-planes-take-off-at-beach1

 

February 1, 2009

Simpson Bay Marina

 

Home Sweet Home….

 

 

We made it back home after an incredibly busy and successful week of work.  It was wonderful to see so many of our friends and also catch a Celtics game, but after countless meetings and many miles on the road, we were happy to come back to the islands where the pace of life is slower and things are more laid back.  Also, it is nice to leave the ice and snow for warm sunny skies and tropical breezes.

 

We cut it close, but made it back in time to hang out at the yacht club and watch the ships come through the lagoon bridge.  We cheered our friends Stuart and Jenny on and they sailed through.  The yacht club was hopping with an equal amount of human and canine clientele.  We were exhausted that night and were ecstatic to hit the hay.

 

On Saturday, we unpacked, cleaned and provisioned.  We had a great dinner with Stuart, Jenny and their family aboard their catamaran.  We drank a few pitchers of the “world’s best margarita’s” and were feeling no pain (yes, they did live up to their name).  We even learned the secret to making them “world’s best”-  a very simple 3-2-1-1/2 combination.

 

By Sunday we were back to our normal routine: morning workouts and walks on the beach.  Cajun had a run-in with a nasty cement post and either sprained or broke a toe… but mojitos and daiquiris at Karakter Beach Bus numbed the pain.  We finally felt the stress and travel fatigue wearing away as we sipped our libations and watched the planes come and go from our beach bus perch.  Tonight we will enjoy the Superbowl at the marina, grill some grub and enjoy a peaceful and quiet evening aboard our boat.  It is good to be back home.

 

Margaritas on the Horizon

Back at Simpson Bay
Back at Simpson Bay

January 24, 2009

St. Martin

 

 

We made it back to our “home” at Simpson Bay Marina.  It was a great sail from Statia to St. Martin.  The winds propelled us on a reach and we averaged 9 knots the entire way.  We arrived in St. Martin ahead of schedule at 10:00 a.m. and had to idle around the bay waiting for the bridge to open for boat traffic at 11:30 to let us into Simpson Bay Lagoon.  Stephan was there to meet us in his dinghy and let us know where our new dock slip would be.  The Pirate again did a fabulous job of getting us safely and securely into our slip- not an easy task with a strong current, heavy winds and several mega-yachts to maneuver around (you don’t want to hit one of those J). 

 

We quickly fell back into our St. Martin routine- morning walks on the beach, chatting with marina regulars, drinks at Jimbo’s, visits from Francois and shopping at Budget Marine.  It is good to be back home. 

 

In moving to a new dock slip, we acquired new neighbors- Stuart and Jenny who live aboard their Festiva Catamaran.  We enjoyed getting to know them over “bicyclettes” and champagne and Jenny’s awesome coconut shrimp.  They were nice enough to pass on their knowledge about great anchorages and excursions in the Grenadines.  They are awesome people and we are glad to count them as new friends.

 

But, it is not always fun and play…  We are leaving the warm and sunny islands for a couple of days stateside to get some work done.  No worries, it will be a very short trip and when we return we have been promised “the world’s best margarita” from Stuart!

 

It is hard to believe that it has been over a month since we arrived in the Caribbean- the time has flown by.  We have seen so many wonderful places and met so many great people!  It is sad to be leaving- even if for such a short time.  But, we have our return tickets and we intend to be back home in time to cheer Stuart and Jenny as they sail through the 5:30 bridge finishing up their charter cruise-  and also remind them about that margarita…

Exploring Statia

250+ year old pirate grave
250+ year old pirate grave

January 17, 2009

Oranjestad, St. Eustatius

 

We arrived in Statia at 11:00 am on Saturday morning after a 5 hour sail from St. Kitts.  The winds were very light so we motored the whole way.  When we arrived, we were happy to see that they had mooring balls for us to pick up.  There are only a handful of other boats here, so it is nice and quiet.  The Anchorage is beautiful, but a continuous swell makes it very rolly and uncomfortable for monohulls.  We have seen several pull up and drop anchor only to leave after a short time.  Our Catamaran handles these waves beautifully though, only producing gentle rocking that actually helps lull us to sleep.

After clearing in with customs, we hiked to the main town which was a strenuous 20 minute walk uphill.  The views were breathtaking.  This is the ultimate of sleepy towns!  There was no one on the roads, except for a cow or two and some chickens.  The town here is immaculately kept and so well preserved, with colorful clapboard homes, manicured gardens, cobblestone streets and lots of historical sites.  We explored an old fort and cemetery that provided a great bird’s eye view of our boat at anchorage. 

Statia’s main industry is its big oil refinery.  There are always large tankers and tugs coming and going from the island.  For visitors, Statia is known for its diving and its national parks and hiking.  On Sunday, we hiked to the top of the Quill- a dormant volcano with a rainforest growing in its crater.  We began at 7:30 a.m. and made it to the base of the Quill by 8:30 (all uphill).  We then started the mountain trail and made it to the top at 9:30. The views were fabulous at the summit.  Along the trail we encountered hundreds of mountain crabs and also a few snakes and goats.  By the time we made it back down to town we were exhausted.  We cooled off at the Golden Rock Hotel enjoying some daiquiris and Caribs and a dip in their inviting pool.  Joyanne took great care of us and made us a great meal for lunch.  After all of our drinks and lunch, the bill was only $30—you can’t beat that!     We will probably be back here on Monday to relax poolside

We can’t say enough great things about Statia.  This is one of those out of the way places that not many people ever get to visit; however, it is well worth the extra effort to get here.  It is a tiny island (population of under 2000) that invites one to explore all of its nooks and crannies.  Tomorrow we have an appointment with the lobster man- his traps are near our boat- we will be grilling some and toasting to a great stay in Statia.

Downtime in St. Kitts

St. Kitts Welcoming Committee
St. Kitts Welcoming Committee

 

Friday, January 16, 2009

Whitehouse Bay, St. Kitts

 

Downtime in St. Kitts…

 

We finally pulled ourselves away from Nevis (kicking and screaming no less..).  We sailed the 6 or so miles from Nevis to its sister island of St. Kitts.  Only six miles apart, but world’s different for sure.  St. Kitts is much larger with a population of 45,000, and all of those people are sort of crammed into one area of the island.  Much of the island is undeveloped and wild.  Thankfully that is where we are anchored at the moment.  It is really just us and the goats wandering the hillside.  There are hundreds of goats here, and they are constantly crying.  We got used to the sound though.

 

We picked Whitehouse Bay as our anchorage, because it was somewhat protected from the wind and because there were only two other boats anchored here.  While it is very remote, with absolutely no amenities (just us and the goats), we have really enjoyed ourselves here.  We swim everyday in the calm waters to shore, snorkel over the sunken ship that has turned into a reef, spy the goats through our binoculars, and we even have watched the monkeys playing on the shore.  Yep! Monkeys!  Apparently St. Kitts and Nevis are full of the little creatures (they are Vervet monkeys- brought over by the French in the 17th century).  The Cajun prefers to keep her distance from the monkeys.

 

We haven’t been sleeping as well here though, as it is very windy and we are constantly up and checking to make sure our anchor isn’t dragging.  So far, so good!  Our first morning here, we woke up to find a large squid washed up on the boat.  It had inked all over the place- YUCK!  We decided to make the best of it and cut it up into strips and use it as bait to attract larger fish.  Despite our attempts, we still have not landed a fish for dinner L   But, no worries, we are eating well.

 

You probably have noticed that we have not talked much about the island itself and the cool places we have found- that is because we are not that enthralled with this place.  We love our peaceful anchorage, but our trips to shore have not equaled what we have seen on other islands. 

 

Tomorrow if the weather holds, we are heading to Statia- for there we have an appointment to climb a dormant volcano.

 

Should we Stay our Should We Go Now….

Pirate in Paradise
Pirate in Paradise

 

January 13, 2009

Pinney’s Beach, Nevis

 

Should We Stay or Should We Go Now….

We have completely fallen in love with this island!  We initially planned on only staying only one or two nights, and now we have been here for four and are contemplating staying for a while longer.  Regardless of our decision, we will definitely return here again. 

Columbus discovered this island in 1493 and named it Las Nieves which means “the snowy ones” because the peak of the mountain here looks liked it is covered in snow with the way the puffy white clouds linger over it day in and day out.  It is quite amazing that after all those years, the island still looks like a snow covered mountain- people come and go, but the island itself has remained unchanged.  Las Nieves became Nevis when the English took over.

Unfortunately, Nevis was hit hard by hurricane Omar this past fall.  It caused the Four Seasons Resort to be shut down indefinitely.  This is a major blow to the island, as it was its biggest hotel and employed over 700 workers (nearly one person in every family on this island had a job at the Four Seasons).  Also, being as small as it is, it is not a major cruise ship destination.  But the people here are proud, intelligent and resilient so they will be fine.

On Sunday we swam from the boat to shore (about a half mile swim).  We hung out at Sunshines’s Beach Bar and sipped their potent Killer Bee drinks and watched the NFL game.  We ran into the owners of Straw Hat restaurant (where we dined for New Year’s Eve) from Anguilla.  The bar was taking bets on whether we would swim back after all the Killer Bees we consumed-  we did fine and made it back to the boat  to get ready for dinner.  Our dinner at Montpellier Plantation was incredible.  Five courses of yummy goodness with a bottle of Snowqualmie Cabernet to wash it all down.  We ate under the stars and a full moon in the gardens of a 200+ year old sugar plantation.  On Monday, we hired Barry to take us around the island a bit.  We relaxed beachside at Oaulie Bay, which had a fantastic view of the mountains of St. Kitts and some really comfy hammocks for dozing and reading.  We then went back to Sunshine’s and feasted on some huge lobsters in butter with peas and rice and a fresh salad- and of course more Killer Bee’s.  It was a great day!

Today we are relaxing on the boat.  The pirate is cooking up a big brunch.   We went to the farmers market and stocked up on local grown produce.  The Cajun is still in search of her first catch and is switching baits to determine what those fickle fish like.  Our big decision of the day will be whether we stay a few more days or pick up and head to St. Kitts (4 miles away)… 

Beautiful Nevis
Beautiful Nevis

 

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pinney’s Beach, Nevis

 

A Mighty Wind!

 

We enjoyed our last day in St. Barts by swimming from the boat to the secluded Columbier Beach, walking the beach and swimming back to the boat for a quick lunch.  After lunch we headed to Gustavia to find a sidewalk café (Bar D’oubli) with WiFi to catch up on emails and our blog.  We then walked all the way up a very steep hill to the Hotel Carl Gustaf for a few rounds of drinks and a very impressive view of the harbor.  The Carl Gustaf is one of a handful of small luxury resorts that are rated top in the world.  It is an awesome place, with outrageous prices to match.  We had two rounds of drinks and the bill was $100.  You can check out the Carl Gustaf for yourself at www.hotelcarlgustaf.com.

 

We awoke before first light on Saturday (5:15 am) and left St. Barts for Nevis.  We sailed the whole way without our motors.  The winds were 30-35 from the North of East and we were able to sustain a speed of 9 knots, sometimes even reaching 10 ½ knots.  The seas were rough but you would never have known it because the boat handled it beautifully, gliding atop the waves.  This mighty wind let us fly to our destination in a much shorter time than we thought we would take (only 7 hours when we planned for 10).  We made it to The Narrows at high noon and the Pirate skillfully navigated our way through this small passage between the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis.  The Cajun tried her luck at fishing and again struck out.  The crew is beginning to doubt that she is a real Cajun- what self-respecting Cajun can’t catch a fish J

 

We made it to our destination of Pinney’s Beach, Nevis at 1:00 pm and were delighted to see that there were mooring balls peppered throughout the area!  We grabbed a prime one close to the beach, right near the Four Seasons Hotel.  We have a beautiful view of the dormant volcano that is the island of Nevis.  This is one of our most beautiful anchorages yet: peaceful and quiet with a beautiful mountain  view and palm tree lined beach with no one on it.    We hit the main town of Charlestown to clear in with immigration and walked around a bit.  This is a very small island (population of 10,000) with incredibly friendly people.  We grabbed lunch at a waterfront café called Unella’s and were happily surprised to see that the prices here were so reasonable compared to St. Barts and Anguilla.  The Pirate had a cheeseburger and fries for only $4! When we returned to the boat, DJ had done a fantastic job getting her cleaned up from a hard day at sea.  We enjoyed guava daiquiri’s on the bow of the boat and watched the sunset.  We then feasted on filet mignon under a beautiful full moon.  

 

Today is Sunday, a day of rest for all of us.  We will walk the beach and read today and have made reservations for a lovely dinner tonight at the island’s best restaurant- Montpelier Plantation.   Nevis is indeed a hidden gem in the Caribbean- and we may just stay a while longer to discover all of its beauties.

 

Having a Ball while Hooked on a Ball….

Sunset Dinghy Ride
Sunset Dinghy Ride

 

January 9, 2009

Columbier, St. Barts

 

Having a Ball while hooked to a Ball…

 

While we had a few hiccups, we made it to St. Barts yesterday.  Our run of good luck was bound to run out and it did on Wednesday.  First, our rental car wouldn’t start.  Normally that would be a “no problem mon-have another daiquiri” kind of situation.  However, this time we had a trunk full of frozen meat and groceries that would surely spoil in the Anguillan sun if left too long.  Once we coaxed the car to start, we arrived to the boat to find our generator would not start!  Uh oh… no refrigeration, no lights, no blender- we were not happy.  However, our motors still were working, so we high-tailed it to St. Martin where we knew we could get an electrician out to the boat to help solve our generator problem.

 

On Thursday morning, Dave the Electrician arrived bright and early at 8:30 and replaced our battery and cleaned the corrosion off of our faulty switch. We were back up and running by 10:30 a.m.  and we were on our way to St. Barts by Noon!  It was a beautiful sailing day, with good wind but calm seas.  We tried to catch some fish for dinner, but didn’t get a bite.  We made it to Columbier at 4:00pm and secured a much coveted mooring ball right near the beach.  Everyone is much more relaxed when we are hooked to a mooring ball.  No worries about our anchor dragging or other people’s anchor dragging and boats colliding in the night.  Also, no worries about some boat coming and parking right on top of us- as the mooring balls are set a good distance apart.  So, we love to be hooked to a ball!

 

We made it to Gustavia to clear in with immigration/customs just before they were closing for the day.  There were tons of mega-yachts in the harbor and lots of ultra-rich people walking around and spending ridiculous amounts of money at the luxury boutiques.  This island is very different than any other- it is not the “flip flop culture” that we are used to.  Here, the women are decked out in designer duds and actually walk around in high heels.  Needless to say- great people watching!  So the Cajun and the Pirate took a stroll to Le Select, ordered a couple of rounds of Ti Punches and snagged a prime outside table to kick back and watch the endless fashion show stroll by.  As we took the dingy back to our lovely niche in Columbier, we witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets yet.  C’est la vie!  Laissez les bon temps roule!

A Swell Day!

The Swell Rolls In on Meads Bay
The Swell Rolls In on Meads Bay

 

January 5, 2009

Meads Bay, Anguilla

 

A Swell Day!

The weekend brought on a powerful swell onto the northern side of the island of Anguilla where we are staying.  The waves pounded and crashed for two days.  Not many people braved the waters as it looked quite dangerous, but it did make for some beautiful pictures and soothing sounds as we relaxed the day away in our villa.  The boat was safe and secure in Road Bay which is more protected that most other areas on the island.  However, we did have the unfortunate experience of having some &%$#@ guy come too close to our boat, drop his anchor and catch it on ours.  As he tried to untangle us from his anchor, he also dug our anchor out of its secure hold and soon we started to drag toward a cliff.  The Pirate acted quickly and repositioned the boat and re-anchored and all has been well since.  It never fails though- with all of the free space an ocean offers, some moron will inevitably want to anchor their boat right on top of ours… 

On Sunday we continued our “most beautiful beach” research and visited the Southern side of the island (to avoid the powerful swell) and camped out at Rendezvous  Beach.  Rendezvous Beach is a 2 mile long beach that overlooks the island of St. Martin.  We spent the day at Bankie Banx Dune Preserve listening to live jazz and island tunes, people watching and walking the beach.  While a gorgeous walking beach, the surf is very rocky so this beach falls somewhat in the ratings scale.  By Sunday evening the swell had subsided and we enjoyed a calm and non-swaying night on the boat. 

Monday was back to work- this time at beautiful Shoal Bay Beach.  This beach has held the distinction of  most beautiful in the world for a couple of years.  It was indeed that.  Miles of powdery white sand and crystal blue water.  Simply too beautiful to put into words, so hopefully the pictures will convey some of that beauty.  After all of the hard work of researching and exploring, we decided to stay in and enjoy some southern home cooking- deep-fried pork chops and mashed potatoes-  and of course more champagne J  Another perfect day in paradise.

In Search of the Perfect Beach…

Solitude at Junk's Hole Beach
Solitude at Junk's Hole Beach

 

Road Bay, Anguilla

January 3, 2009

 

In Search of the Perfect Beach…

 

Anguilla, which means Eel, is a long, flat and narrow island shaped somewhat like an “S”.  This topography makes for some of the world’s most gorgeous beaches.  Long expanses of sand and deep aqua waters, with no mountains or rock to break the views.  There are 33 beaches on this very small island, one for everyday of the month and then two others to spare!  While we won’t hit all of them on this visit, we are making a valiant effort to hit as many as we can.

 

On New Year’s Eve, we had a two hour battle with immigration and customs to get cleared in (this is no surprise- the agent was simply two hours late from her lunch break).  We made the best of it by limin’ away the time at a beach shack with some beers chatting up the locals who were getting ready for a beach bash that night.  We spent our evening at Straw Hat restaurant overlooking beautiful Mead’s Bay.  The restaurant was quite subdued until we arrived.  The Pirate decided to make a fashion statement by donning one of the large straw hats used for decoration.  We all followed suit with our own straw hats, and pretty soon the entire restaurant was wearing hats and the restaurant was without its decorations J.  The food was fabulous.  Anguillan crawfish.  Very different from our Louisiana mudbugs.  These were more like mini lobsters but much more flavorful. 

 

New Year’s Day was spent at Cove Bay Beach.  This was a simply gorgeous beach that was over 3 miles long.  We walked the entire beach, sipped rum punches and daiquiri’s, napped and swam in the shallow and calm waters.   When we worked up our appetite, we went to Smokey’s for some ribs.  A perfect day!

 

Yesterday we sampled yet another beach, this time Junk’s Hole Beach at the northern tip of the island.  This was the Cajun’s favorite so far- the vista was incredible on an overcast day- so many different shades of color and lots of beautiful surf being kicked up by the wind.  The only place on Junk’s Hole is Nat’s Palm Grove Restaurant.  This place is a hidden gem- a tiny beach shack that spits out some of the best food you will ever eat.  We feasted on BBQ ribs, chicken, whole grilled snapper and spiny lobster with Johnny cakes and French fries.  Awesome!

 

Today is a new day with a new beach to explore.  So many beaches, so little time.  We may just have to extend our stay J

 

We are in Anguilla!

A view from our villa in Anguilla
A view from our villa in Anguilla

 

December 30, 2008

 

We’re in Anguilla!

 

We finally left our cozy dock in St. Martin and came to Anguilla (which is only 6 miles to the North).  We waited for the winds to die down and the swell to pass before heading over.  The weather has been absolutely gorgeous and the beaches here are incredible.  The sand is powdery and fine with a hint of pink and the water is an aqua blue that is postcard perfect. 

 

We took a little break from boat living to stay at the lovely Carimar Resort on Meads Bay Beach.  This is a gorgeous place, very small and quiet, only 24 villas all framed in bougainvillea and with a lovely view of the beach.  Meads Bay Beach is over one mile long so it has been a great for exercising in the morning and sunset strolls in the evening.  Last night we dined at Mango’s Restaurant overlooking Barnes Bay Beach- the setting and the food were awesome.  Fresh whole grilled snapper for the Cajun and Lobster cakes and a fresh scallop, shrimp and snapper pasta dish for the Pirate. 

 

Things definitely move slower on Anguilla (much slower than St. Martin).  No one is in a hurry here, even the goats on the side of the road seem to be moving in slow motion.  The locals are extremely nice and move to the beat of their own drum.  We went grocery shopping yesterday; all we really needed were milk, eggs, butter and bread- staples you would think.  It took quite a bit of effort to procure them.  The milk comes at 4, but the bread at 3 said the lady at the counter.  “Ok, we will just be back at 4 then” was our response.  Then she says that sometimes it don’t come at all.  We decided to try our luck at another store.  After finally locating the last milk carton in the cooler, we noticed it had been opened and asked the counter lady about it.  Her reply- “Oh yeah chile, I used some of dat one.. .it still good tho”.   You gotta love that!

 

Some other great news- DJ is back with us!  He arrived back on December 27th after a long trip from Ireland.  We are glad to have him back.  We will be staying in Anguilla for a few days and visiting with Cajun’s family who are here as well.  We will try to post some pictures of the incredible beaches here in the  next few days, although pictures truly can’t capture just how beautiful it is here.