Friday, March 30, 2012

St Martin Megablog

Seems it wasn't only my computer that made a fuss when we left the Virgin Islands.... the computer we use for our charting program went belly up as we were getting ready to up anchor and leave. So - we did it the old fashioned way.....

We left around midnight with the southern cross in the sky off to starboard and the dipper off to port... a nice night sky. Early morning brought this fraction of a rainbow with it.

Glassy sea and St. Martin in the distance.
Red sky at night... 
Raising my homemade French flag

We didn't catch any fish on the way to St. Martin so we made our way to the local fish and produce market and got all kinds of fresh food. 
Clockwise from top left: Little 'fig' bananas with their big sisters, fresh fish, me with baguette, lots of fresh produce.
Scenes around Marigot.... I love that the "Happy Shop" is self service. Why not?!
We helped this French boat detach it's unexpected catch from their anchor.
We were glad it wasn't us in this dinghy in this squall! We filled our tanks with fresh water from the rain.
We keep up our energy with plenty of coffee and croissants.

We spent several days in the anchorage in Marigot but when the wind picked up it got bumpy and uncomfortable so we headed into the lagoon through the Sandy Ground bridge (on the French side). It opens three times a day during the week and the local kids make a game of jumping off the open edge seconds before or after a boat is passing through. Their timing is pretty good though and we didn't see any of them get plowed over. 

Skinny bridge at Sandy Ground
Skip waves a thank you to the bridge tender - but she was too busy texting to notice.
Saralane in calmer waters inside the lagoon
There's a bridge on the Dutch side too - it's where all the BIG boats come in because the draft is much deeper than the Sandy Ground opening. The Dutch side is also where all the big marinas are. The sailboat doesn't quite fill up the opening the way the yacht does!

This view is from the other side of the bridge... this yacht is just coming through the opening. I love how the mega yachts come with their own teeny tiny crew members! See him standing on the bow?

We found a computer guru for my Mac and got that taken care of. The computer we use for charting is officially dead, so we jury rigged a fix to get the program on another computer and we're set for the time being. Enough time spent in the 'big city' of Marigot.... we headed north along the coast to check out the beaches and Grand Case on the French side for some good eating.

Grand Case

We met kindred spirits Wendy and Dave on the beach at Happy Bay one day and reconnected with them for drinks in the evening at Calmos Cafe. Dress code is... casual!

Tuesday nights are one big loud party in Grand Case.... but Wednesday mornings are a little quieter.

Hotel Hevea... we stayed here years ago. It hasn't changed a bit!

Saralane anchored in Grand Case
Wifi is everywhere in St. Martin... except out in the anchorages! 
Skip hard at work in the St. Martin office of Outbound Yachts.
As beautiful as the beaches are... the galleries have even more beautiful art work from local artists.

Gallery in Grand Case
These paintings are by Sir Roland Richardson whose family history goes back over 300 years in St. Martin. We met his wife at the gallery and will go back to watch him work hopefully this coming week.

Sir Roland was born in the house next door to what's now his gallery, and the garden in the back was an incredible oasis. A lovely place to relax surrounded by original stone buildings... and a good place to find some local flowers.

There's so much more to see here - I think we'll stick around a little longer....

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Virgin Islands finale

Not that we've had our fill of the US and British Virgin Islands, but there's a break in the weather during the next few days so we're going to head to St. Martin. It's been an especially windy winter here and it sounds like lots of people are going to take advantage of the lighter winds and smaller seas to move around. 

We've spent the past two weeks visiting with sailing friends and with Miles and Lex who came to stay at Maho Bay Camps for a week. It's been chilly (really!) and we haven't been swimming much so I have no slow fish photos for this post. Here are a few non-wildlife photos though. 

Pretty beach on Prickly Pear Island - overlooking Eustatia Island (recently purchase by the "Google Guy" as he's known here.)
I know I can make something with this defunct kite we found on Prickly Pear.
We both need haircuts. Miles took this photo of us on Saralane in Francis Bay.
Madeline, Skip, Miles and Lex at Maho Bay.
Everyone here travels by boat. I wonder if goats have to pay full fare?
Saw this little guy having a snack in Trellis Bay... I'm not quite sure how to caption this photo. 
The first Super Yacht regatta took place up in the BVI this year and the boats were based at the new megayacht dock in North Sound on Virgin Gorda. We dinghied over to check out the hardware. These boats were really big - anywhere from 100 to 200 feet. You can see the crew on some of the boats which gives a better sense of the size of these boats.

We counted at least twenty people on deck on "Bliss" and they could have fit another twenty. To give a little perspective, on Saralane we can comfortably lean over the boom - on Bliss, the underside of the boom is a few feet above the crews' heads. Wow.

This powerboat comes with it's own tiny crew to hose the salt water off the bow.
Super yacht Kokomo is 191' with a 26' draft. No cruising in the Bahamas for them! The hatch on the foredeck (just in front of the mast) is open so they can pull out their dinghy which we guessed to be about 30'. So... just to recap.... their dinghy isn't much smaller than our boat.

We sailed by this yacht after the races were over. Cool spinnaker!
I'll blog again from St. Martin where we'll hopefully arrive with a freezer full of mahi mahi. One thing we'll need to do fairly soon in St. Martin is find a computer guru - my Mac crashed spectacularly two days ago and, among other things, I have no access to email addresses for anyone I haven't exchanged emails with recently. So - email me. I need to recreate my email address list until I can get this *@#^*% computer fixed!