Monday, April 20, 2015

Fish fish fish...

Even with a decent wind angle to sail to Marie Galante, the sea and wind conditions in the Dominica channel (and between all the island passes) tend to be rough. It was windy and seas were steep in the pass, but things got smoother as we made our way to the island.

Unlike Guadeloupe to the north and Dominica to the south, Marie Galante is flat. Very flat. At least it looks flat until you start hiking around it.

Flat Marie Galante in the distance, as seen from Saralane on passage from Guadeloupe to Dominica 
We arrived on Easter and expected everything to be closed, but we dinghied ashore anyhow and just walked around town to stretch our Dominica-hiking sore muscles. Just like in Fort de France on New Year's Day a few years ago, walking around the deserted streets of Saint Louis gave us a unique look at all the quiet and colorful facades without the normal hustle and bustle of daily life.

Saint Louis is only a few blocks in either direction so after strolling around here we headed off along the shore and into the hilly farmland for a hike.

Spider lily
Clockwise from top L: wooded path with spider lilies, Anse de Mays, cart with cut sugar cane, bull and shed
Bulls and cows were in the fields and along the roads

Land shaped by hand, no machines at this farm
Almost looks like autumn 
Unsure about how closed town would be on Easter Monday, we traipsed back in, hoping to rent a car to explore the island. Things were still pretty sleepy, and though a few car and scooter rental shops were open, there wasn't a car or scooter to be had. And seemingly, none the next day. No buses were around either. Normally, we'd just stick around another day or two and see what turned up but for some reason we were both antsy and felt like moving on. It was one of those maybe-we'll-come-back-another-time-and-see-something-else feelings that just needed to be respected, so off we went.

We're day sailing our way north to catch up with friends and family in the USVI... sailing downwind each day is VERY NICE. We sail up the coast of Guadeloupe, then to Monserrat, St Kitts and St Martin on our way to the Virgins.

A ferry load of people arrives in the Saintes as we do.
Sunset in Petit Anse, Guadeloupe
John H is first in line at the dinghy dock in Deshaies
Our previous visit to Monserrat was on a gloomy day, but we had a perfect beautiful Caribbean day this time, and seeing the ruined town from the water was sobering. The smell of sulfur followed us as we sailed up the coast past the deserted town of Plymouth.

Ash flow reaching to the water's edge
Ruins of Plymouth
A haze of sulfur over the deserted town
Perspective on just how much ash covered the town...there's a multistory building on the left, but only a roof visible on the right. 
Our attention was suddenly diverted from the ruins of Plymouth when our fishing line whizzed off the reel.

Tuna #1
No question about dinner that night. Next day we left early for St Kitts and....

Tuna #2
I'm getting good at this. Practice, practice.
.... tuna for dinner again. Ho hum.... more fresh tuna. 

We had other visitors on the way to St Kitts too, both welcome and unwelcome. Birds were everywhere - always a good sign - and they were very interested in our lure. We debated bringing the line in so as not to tempt them, but they were smarter than the fish and opted not to take a bite.

Diving bird - Monserrat still visible through the haze 
Usually there are loads of flying fish around; they pop out of the water and zing across the waves until they plop back in. I was below packing away our tuna bonanza and when Skip heard a series of small thuds against the boat that he assumed were flying fish who hadn't expected to find a boat mid-flight. It wasn't flying fish. It was squid. Lots of little squid, who likewise did not expect to encounter a big solid object between the time they left the water and the time they returned to the water.

About 20 little squid met an untimely death on our deck and left an inky mess in the process. Recalling how difficult it was to remove the squid ink from the topsides when we had a 'squid event' before, we thought we'd better get the ink off the deck fast.

Harnessed in and scrubbing the inky deck. A couple of squid bodies are in the foreground
Aura around the sun at midday
After the tuna, the diving birds and the squirting squid, things quieted down for a bit. Then the fishing line whizzed like mad and we reeled in something other than a tuna.

This barracuda liked the green lure
In case you can't see his TEETH  in the first shot
Enough fishing for one day. We drop the hook in St Kitts and jump in for a snorkel around the sandy anchorage.

Skip brings up a treasure
Starfish were everywhere....
A quick trip to St Martin gives us time to provision and squeeze in visits with friends we see around the lagoon out in the anchorage and in the boat yard.

This wasn't our cart, but it could have been. Confit de Canard!!
John and Fran from Kia Ora. John checks out Skip's senior citizens card for the USVI 
I may as well bring us more or less up to date and include a photo of the mahi mahi we caught on the passage from St Martin to the Virgin Islands. No tuna for dinner tonight! Fish fish fish....


Kelley Albert said...

Boy, did you have some wildlife run-ins. That Barracuda shot is scary!!! Did the bull charge you? It didn't look happy. Looks like it was a week of adventures. I love that you're posting more. And the photos are bellisimo!

Eliza said...

Looks like you're moving very quickly to St. Croix! I would be too knowing unlimited hot water, wifi, and a big comfy bed is just around the corner :)

I also want to know about the bull. I would be afraid to get so close. Was he attached to that chain?

Miles said...

Hey Guys. I know I've been quiet in the comments section but we have still been reading every post. Maddie your pictures are always terrific but I think this post has some particularly outstanding photos. Really dramatic and beautiful stuff. I have a buddy who used to live on Monserrat and now lives on St. John. He owns and runs the JollyDogs shop at Skinny Legs. Anyway, safe passage to STX!

Leslie said...

So is a barracuda an eaten' fish? Or do you throw it back in after you haul it out of the sea?

Do you have any photos of the steep seas you talked about? I'd like to see those.


danbarnardjr said...

Somehow I think that your journey to STX is more interesting than ours will be...I'm pretty sure we won't be reeling in any big fish from 30,000 feet. Classic shot of the bull and the barn, Maddie.

Madeline said...

Hi all.... Good to see you all here in the comments! Glad you're enjoying the photos : ) I am very much looking forward to the comfy bed and lots of hot water in STX, not to mention to endless wifi! Mostly though, we're looking forward to spending time with family.

I think the bull on the road would have liked if we stopped and pet him... he seemed lonely more than anything and not likely to charge. Or maybe he'd tried that before and realized he was chained?

The barracuda was NOT interested in any TLC. And, no, we don't eat them, though some people do.

Leave it to my sister to ask for photos of big nasty seas... thanks Leslie!

We'll be doing our best to bring some tuna or mahi to STX this weekend... see you soon Dan.

s/v Skylark said...

Very important question, Maddie and Skip. Did we eat Tuna #1 or Tuna #2? Either way it was delicious, thanks for sharing your booty with us! As usual, the photos are stunning.

So great seeing you both! Have a good visit in STX.

Janice & Bob said...

Great catching up on your travels - you definitely seem to be very fortunate with the fishing on SaraLane. Great photos as usual - we are finally getting almost summer weather here now -fortunately without the humidity yet. Looking forward to seeing you this year!! Enjoy the rest of your travels