Wednesday, February 4, 2015


A quick look back at my last post tells me I left you several islands back, so I'll skip all the humdrum sunset and fish photos and start with the good stuff.

My cousin Amy's daughter Lizzy was here with some friends on their own Caribbean adventure. They're an energetic group of college grads and soon-to-be grads with a keen interest in conservation. During their travels they'll be gathering samples and data for various marine conservation groups which will help with efforts to measure the impact of all the plastic that ends up in the sea. They're measuring and tagging sharks for another marine research group and cleaning up beaches where they can. Mostly.... they just wanted to go sailing! More power to them that they found a way to do it and to do some good along the way. We first caught up with the young salty crew in Virgin Gorda on their Tartan 37 s/v Jormungandr.

The "kids" from L to R: Henry, Kerry, Grant and Lizzy
The guys stayed on board to work out some things on the boat in preparation for the passage to St Martin, and Skip and I went hiking with the girls in North Sound. I thought I was in pretty good hiking condition until we hiked with these two athletes. Apparently.... I'm not. 

Lizzy and Kerry on the trail at Alvin's Heights
Kerry, Lizzy and me at the top
Skip and I hiked a few other days and came across the Frangipani caterpillar again, as well as another fuzzy spotted one we hadn't seen before. I've attempted to include a video of the Frangipani caterpillar chowing down, but our wifi is sketchy here so I'm not sure how successful it will be.

Frangipani caterpillar
Unknown fuzzy/spiky/spotted caterpillar. Anyone have an ID?

Another day we were hiking up Guy's Trail from the Bitter End and came across a foursome on their way down. "Skip?" they said. We drew a blank for a moment and then made the connection.... John & Terri from s/v Child's Play. We'd met them a few years ago when they were here on their C & C 41; we were anchored near them in North Sound. They'd taken their boat back north but were back chartering with family and we just happened upon each other.

Though we haven't seen them for a few years, they've been keeping up with our blog and recognized us right away. It was really fun to see them and it's good to know we're bringing some Caribbean warmth to them in the frozen north. Hi guys!!

With the wind turning in our favor we pulled up the anchor and headed for St Martin in the company of Kurt and Tina on Pneumatic. We must have pulled the last two mahi out of the sea on our previous passage. No fish this time for either boat.

In St Martin we joined the few other boats circling slowly out in Marigot Bay awaiting the early bridge opening into the French side and recognized one....

We're not really following you and reporting back to your parents that you're OK....
... well, maybe we are just a little bit.
After a few days of chores and errands, we went to check out the big boats coming through the Dutch bridge opening one evening. It was quite the event when Steve Jobs' boat Venus made an appearance. We've seen the boat in the BVI and in St Martin before, but not quite this close up. I call it the iBoat; Skip prefers iYacht. It just looks like an iSomething. We imagine the captain controlling all the boat's systems by swiping across and down touchscreens.

Just starting to peek through the opening

About halfway through

Squeaking through

Rear view. Venus enters the lagoon as a squall begins
The Sint Maarten Yacht Club is the bar/restaurant by the Dutch bridge and in addition to the up close mega-yacht viewing, they also have great wifi, which in wifi challenged Saint Martin/Sint Maarten, is precious. So, we stayed a little longer and watched the outgoing traffic.... and used the wifi.

We've spent enough time here to have had several conversations with the irascible bridge tender Sam. He likes to yell. At everyone. Moving too slowly through the bridge? Sam will yell at you. Speeding under the bridge on a jetski and spraying the underside of 'his' bridge with saltwater? Sam will yell at you. Disagree with him? Sam will yell at you. But... he's also kind of a nice guy. Very opinionated, but nice. We chatted him up one evening and he told us there was a special bridge opening coming up (at a rumored $1000) for one of his favorite boats - Limitless. "Want to watch it from the control room?" he asked us. You bet! 

Sam lit a cigarette, popped open a fresh beer and took us below the bridge where we walked around the grinding gears as the bridge opened to let Limitless enter. Yep.... safety first.

Sam yuks it up by the (impeccably clean) gears that raise and lower the bridge, while Kurt and Skip look on.

Limitless, as seen from the control room. Note her home port, Newport RI. Funny... we haven't seen her there.
The wind wasn't good for the passage to Antigua but we were getting antsy in the lagoon and went out for a few days, back into the blue water of Grand Case and Anse Marcel on the North Coast.

Someone's nightmare in the lagoon
Someone's dream for sale in Grand Case
We hadn't been to Anse Marcel before since it's open to the north and it hasn't been a tenable anchorage any time we've been in St Martin. It's dominated by an enormous Radisson with a fabulous pool (that we weren't supposed to enter) that I had to try out. You'll recall the GIANT pool in Cupecoy? This one was bigger, and overlooked the sea, but like I said... technically we shouldn't have been in it. I just got in and got out. I couldn't help myself. We left before we got chased out.

Oooooooo..... giant pool
Iguana on the rocks on the dinghy ride away from the giant pool
Not feeling especially welcome on the beach at Anse Marcel (or in the pool) we pulled up the anchor and headed back to the lagoon. Rather we tried to pull up the anchor. The bottom here is sandy and seemingly free of obstacles but somehow we managed to snag a heavy chain that lay across the bay. When this happened last we were in murky Le Marin in Martinique and we used the same technique to free the anchor. We secured one end of a line to a cleat on the port bow, ran the line under the chain and secured the other end to a cleat on the starboard bow. The line held the weight of the chain and I lowered the anchor until it was free of the chain. With Skip at the helm I released one end of the line and the chain dropped to the bottom to lie in wait for the next anchor to catch.

Setting free the anchor
St Martin is indeed the Venus fly trap of the Caribbean and we were determined to take the first opportunity to continue east. We'd come across friends here that we hadn't seen in years... John & Jacky on s/v Worry No More and Daryl & Adri on s/v Leila who we last saw when they were on the hard in a yard by the bridge. Our friends Bennet and Susan just arrived on their Outbound, s/v Pratique, and we only had one evening with them before we left. We said our goodbyes to all and headed out the bridge.

Pratique arrives in St Martin
Familiar view heading out the French bridge

Safety not first... guys hanging out on the open edge of the French bridge watching the boats go by.

Daryl and Adri on lovely Leila.... looking much happier here than in the yard
The winds were light and the surface of the sea was smooth. We motor-sailed over big comfortable swells all the way to Antigua, only snagging one big barracuda that we let go.

Heading east in the morning... fire in the sky.

Looking west as the sun starts to light up the clouds

Not much to do except enjoy the ride

Big barracuda = Big teeth
The real excitement came as we approached Antigua, not counting the huge squall that arrived just as we arrived. Dolphins! They played in our bow wave, jumping and swimming as we neared the island. Knowing that I'm photographically wildlife challenged I was happy to get the few shots I did - and I'm attempting to post a video as well. Apologies for the wild swing in the middle of the video; I couldn't decide which dolphins to follow!

We're in Jolly Harbor, enjoying the company of friends and awaiting the arrival of others. Mostly though we're waiting for good weather to head for Barbuda. Barbudaaaaaaaahhhhh......


Eliza said...

I'm so happy to see a new blog post! Looks like you guys are keeping busy catching up with old friends. I don't recall ever seeing Limitless in the harbor either. I'm sure I would have remembered one that size. Nothing new to report here... just snow, snow and more snow.

Maddie, I'll send you some pictures soon. We're dog sitting Celia's dog for the week and Charlie and Scarlet (or Charlet as we like to call them) have become the best of friends. Scarlet even shares 'her' couch and 'her' people.

xo Liza

Madeline said...

Hi Lize! Sorry about the snow... even for a snow lover like you it may be getting old. And yes, please, a Scarlet/Charlie photo fix is in order. I'm so proud of her for learning to share! We miss you...

Mad & Dad

Janice said...

Great blog as always with wonderful photos - I would not say you are wildlife photographically challenged at all - always hard to get dolphin & you did a great job. Seeing your photos makes us yearn for the beautiful blue waters of the Caribbean! Will have to enjoy it via your postings for now. Hope weather is good soon to get to your favorite island!

danbarnardjr said...

Great post, Maddie. Lots of good stuff including the two videos which I think came out really well. I especially liked the chomping grub or whatever, complete with sound! Watching dolphins play was always a thrill. I know you miss the New England winter so I am sending you a link to some pictures. The temperature on our deck Thursday morning was seventeen degrees below zero. I'll stay warm; you stay cool.

s/v Skylark said...

Great post, Maddie! We don't have enough data to check out your videos (sigh...) but the photos are great. We chuckled about the SXM bridge tender who should be called the SXM Troll. Nothing tender about that guy, although we enjoyed listening to his shenanigans and typically thought he was yelling at only those who were doing things badly. Therefore we were pleased he never yelled at us. :) Hope we can connect via SSB soon. Miss you two. Elizabeth, Ed and Luna