Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Short stop in St Martin

Imagine this lovely little beach without the giant house being constructed above and you'll know what it looked like until now. This is our favorite tiny Antigua beach, previously accessible only by dinghy, just outside the anchorage in Jolly Harbor. Kind of sad to see it with this mega house hovering over it now.

It was still nice to have a view of it the night before we left Antigua though. We made one more run to the local market and said our goodbyes to friends who are heading south and friends who are hauling out early, then left at dawn for St Martin. Farhaven was making the passage from Antigua to St Martin too and it was nice to have company for the trip.

Sweet old dog keeps an eye on things at a second hand book sale outside the market in Jolly Harbor
Tim and Nancy zip by to say "See you in the BVI"
Alistair says goodbye, though we may be able to spot him and the dinghy a few islands away in their matching RED.
Early morning departure from Jolly Harbor
We opt to skip the mob scene in the anchorage in Gustavia St Barth's and do our usual overnight one bay north in Columbier before continuing on to St Martin the next day. Not surprisingly, we had tuna for dinner.

Crowded anchorage in Gustavia, St Barth's
Rainbow over St Martin after a squall passed by
Cero on the hook
We caught two small tuna that we tossed back as well as a barracuda but this Cero was the catch of the day and Farhaven came to help us eat it that night.

Farhaven goes ahead of us through the swing bring into the French side of the lagoon.
A good water tank filling rain
I haven't been carrying the camera with me as much as I used to but it seems whenever I bring it along I end up with photos of animals. Here are a few from the dog (and pony) show I saw around me.

Looks like a rough home for these two dogs but we see them swimming near the boat and they seem well cared for.
Clockwise from top left: iguana scooting under the fence; horse waiting for his owner to make a call; Floppy (snoozing) and friend at Shrimpy's laundry; dog helping his owner clean the anchor chain from the dinghy.
We always like to see Mina - the goat who lives at the gas dock near the French bridge. She's getting big!
Mean looking face in the architecture on the lagoon side of a school in Sandy Ground on the French side.
We spent a lot of our time stocking up on things we can't get easily when we're in the BVI and USVI, which is where we're headed next, but we also fit in some socializing and one stop at Little Jerusalem for a tasty and super filling shwarma.

       Leslie and Tom from Farhaven with Skip at Little Jerusalem. We decided this shwarma almost breaks the "don't eat anything bigger than your head" rule.
I made a quick trip back to the states to be there to celebrate my baby sister Ruth's 50th birthday (happy birthday Ruth!!) and Skip took advantage of my absence to do lots of boat projects. Saralane looked great when I got back with newly varnished galley counter tops, freshly painted companionway, de-squeaked salon sole, painted and super cleaned head with a few new parts, newly installed USB outlets, new greasing system for the steering rudder post, refastened vang bracket on the mast, shiny clean stainless on the stove and more. Maybe I should go away more often!

The tradewinds have settled back down to normal and are even expected to be light the next few days so we're heading for the BVI. We've cleared out of St Martin and will be underway by dawn tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow we'll catch a mahi!?

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Where to begin?

Barbuda! Where else is there to begin?

It's seriously beautiful here and of course, it was the first place we sailed after launching Saralane a few weeks ago. I'll back up a bit though...

After we launched, Skip came down with a nasty bug and spent about 3 days sleeping off a fever and exhaustion. Not to be left out, I wrenched something in my right shoulder and wobbled around the boat doing whatever small things I could do without using my right arm or moving too much at all. So it was a bit of a rough start after being away from the boat so long. Saralane was in better shape than either of us with just a few creaks and groans (or was that us making those noises) as she got going again.

Once we were feeling better, we got ourselves away from the dock in Jolly Harbor, spent a night in Five Islands and a night in Deep Bay, then right up to Barbuda where we were in the good company of Gordon and Louise on Coho, Paul and Janie on Shian and after a few days, Alistair and Esther on Cranstackie who had just sailed in from Nevis. 

Viewed from the fort in Deep Bay, we watched this cruise ship depart dwarfing a tanker in the distance
Also viewed from the fort - tiny people at the surf's edge in Deep Bay
There was a significant north swell running which would have made Coco Point a very uncomfortable anchorage so we opted to head straight to Gravenor Bay where we've spent some pretty perfect days and nights over the years. Coho looks content here even with stormy skies and a strange southerly wind blowing.

Coho in Gravenor Bay
Instead of hiking the windward beach off Spanish Point, we walked along the road toward Coco Point (referred to as "a road of sorts" on an old chart we have) and I was mildly inspired to resurrect my flora and fauna work.

Sharp flora, courtesy of Mother Nature
Imitation sharp stuff, inspired by Mother Nature
All I got for fauna is the requisite donkey photo
The "road of sorts"
We've been curious about any changes that might be happening at the defunct K Club, where we love to wander around and collect coconuts and take photos. On our walk we passed the old entrance to the resort which didn't look any different at all, so it would seem progress is slower than anticipated in the takeover and revamping of the property.

Back to the beach where John H waited to ferry us home after our walk.
This is where I leave you with more photos of Barbuda, because that's all you really want right? Me too....

View from Coco Point - Antigua is waaaaay in the distance

View from Gravenor Bay - Antigua again just visible in the distance (to the right of the rain)
New signs popped up here and there at the K Club - STAY OUT! No more coconuts for us.

John H waits for us on the beach at Coco Point
Because nothing lasts forever, even Barbuda visits, we pulled up the anchor and made our way back to Antigua. It was a squally ride back but we sailed in and found more friends in the anchorage at Jolly Harbor which cheered us. We caught up with Simon & Hilda on Brisa as well as Tim & Nancy on Larus and Tom & Leslie on Farhaven. Brisa is hauling out soon, but Larus and Farhaven are both headed west and we'll see more of them as we move along. We're loaded up with food and water again and planning to head toward St Martin tomorrow. The winds and seas have been fierce and it seems it's the best opportunity we'll have to move for a while.

Squalls all around
So, no more Barbuda photos for a while, but I'll leave you with a few more flora shots I got on my daily walks around Jolly Harbor. The almond tree is definitely feeling the wind!

Pretty bougainvillea
Almond tree feeling the breeze
We're keeping our fingers crossed that our fishing luck has improved in our absence so perhaps there will be a fish photo or two in the next blog? Or is it bad luck to even mention it? I suppose we'll find out.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Oh baby!

This little guy arrived on New Year's Eve, just a few hours before the clock struck midnight. He's cute, cute and more cute and he and his mama are both doing great. So world..... meet one month old Easton. Shhhh... he's sleeping (as he often is).

Though it means leaving family and friends here again for a while, we're heading back to Saralane in Antigua next week. We don't have any specific travel plans once we launch, except to meet up with friends in the BVI sometime this spring.

Be back here soon with updates from the Caribbean.....

Friday, December 30, 2016

Out of Practice

Hi there. Remember us? It's been a while. I'm a little rusty on the blogging front but I'll give it my best and ask in advance for forgiveness for the super short post.

If this were a usual year we'd be afloat again and enjoying the company of the floating community in the Caribbean.... but it's not a usual year for a pretty cool reason. We're about to be grandparents!

Yikes. Yay! Crikey. Really? Cool. Whoa. Wow!

Yep - Skip's daughter Eliza, who was married last October, is about to have a baby. As in tomorrow. So no photos of blue Caribbean water in this post. Just this photo of what we see each evening up here in wintery Newport.

Stay tuned for incredibly sappy gushy post with baby photos coming soon.... and stayed tuned a few weeks more for photos of lovely blue Caribbean waters. We're planning to return to Saralane after we kiss baby fingers and toes for a few weeks.

Happy new year all!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Times flies (again)

I haven't done a "Time flies" post since January 2013, and since I've used "Blog-free month" twice already this seems as good a time as any for another "Time flies".  Either would work. So.....

Backing up a few days before we said goodbye to Free Spirit... John spotted a big Fortress anchor on the bottom near them (not attached to another boat!) and because boys will be boys, he and Skip decided to dive for it, haul it up into our dinghy and check it out. It had clearly been there for a while and was covered in barnacles. We took it to the beach and scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed it.

"Hey, let's haul up this big crusty anchor and load it into the dinghy!"
We took a few breaks to play with this little guy named Scrumpy who was SO happy to have someone tossing a tennis ball down the beach for him.

Pleeeeaaaasssee.... throw the ball!!"
Looks better.
Lovely day at Jolly Beach
After the anchor salvage operation, we spent a few lazy days around Jolly, then sailed for Barbuda for one more visit. Another boat sailing for the Azores, s/v Tern, crossed our bow as we headed to Barbuda and I got a few shots of them on their first day out. It looked pretty bouncy, but we chatted with them on the SSB days later and heard that they were doing well after their rough start.

So long Free Spirit!
Tern - headed for the Azores
We settled in at Coco Point, Barbuda alongside friends Maggie & Al on s/v Sweet Dreams and John & Angela on s/v Galadrial. 

Seems John & Angela have a pot of gold aboard Galadrial.
John H needed yet more patching as well as a good overall cleaning, so we took him ashore and tried using lemon juice to clean the dinghy... a trick John & Alex taught us. Wipe the dirty surface with lemon juice (no need to rub it in) and let it sit while you go for a long walk on the beach. When you get back - voila! A clean dinghy. Pretty cool.

Sorry it took us so long to clean you John H...
One more patch... for now
Saralane stays clear of the beautiful squall that spent a day stalled over the west side of Barbuda
I stay clear of it too

After almost a week in Barbuda, we can't put off our departure any longer. We head back to Antigua and get ready to haul out. 

Gulls fly by as we leave for Antigua

Last year we stayed in a rented villa while we hauled out and it made the whole turn-the-boat-inside-out thing much easier to manage, so we decided to do the same this year. I've gotten so bad about taking photos that I have zero pictures of the villa, which was fantastic. It had a private dock where we tied up Saralane for a few days before being lifted, so when we finished each day's dirty work of decommissioning the boat, we could simply walk away from the mess for the night. Nice.

Danny lifts Saralane
Mario asks if we want the bottom pressure washed. Yes please, though it looks pretty clean

Boat turned inside-out
A newly clean and patched John H, neatly tucked away and tied down on deck
Sails and canvas off, outboard covered...
Saralane is safely stored for a few months and we're back in the states, but still somehow feeling halfway between here and there. It's nice to be back and we're looking forward to being on land for a while but we're already missing our floating friends and the lifestyle we've come to love. Our one year plan to sail to the Bahamas and back has turned into six years of something so much more and we still don't know where it will take us. 

Meanwhile, I picked up the camera long enough to shoot this brief Barbuda video, which will have to tide us over until we return.