Thursday, May 18, 2017

Blogger's Block

Perhaps it's not so much blogger's 'block' as blogger's 'inertia'. Or blogger's 'lack of focus'. Blogger's 'not enough attention span to sit down, edit photos and write a post'? Take your pick. Whatever you want to call it, it means I have way too many photos from the past two months. So, in the spirit of getting things up to date I'm just going to plaster them all over this post and call it done!

I left you in St Martin and can wrap up our time there in this collage...

Clockwise from top L: On the lawn of the St Martin visitors center - a creative way to use all those plastic soda bottles, bridge tenders at the Sandy Ground bridge, relaxing my way across the Anegada Passage, lovely red sky the morning we left St Martin.
We can always find things to do to keep us in St Martin, but we had friends arriving in the BVI and we took a weather opening to make our way there. First up were John and Lauren, friends from home who came down to bareboat out of Tortola. We caught up with them about halfway through their week and had a fun few days.

Lauren and John - laughing and happy in spite of the week of steady rain and tricky mooring ball pick ups they had!
We wanted to spend some time with our friends Cindy and Steve who rented a great house on Jost Van Dyke for a few months. You'll remember them from their round house on Farmers Cay in the Bahamas, as well as for our time buddy boating with them a few years ago in the BVI. Luckily there was a perfect anchorage just below their rental house and we were the only ones there most of the time.

Evening sky heading in to the JVD anchorage
They brought along m/v Sunny, a speedy boat, to zip around the islands during their time there and we tagged along. Snorkel trips, trips to the killer pool at the YCCS, trips to take their visiting friends to and from ferries, trips out for swims and meals. We got accustomed to getting places in a hurry and had to readjust to the slower pace of traveling on Saralane after they left.

Skip, Cindy and Steve in the fabulous YCCS pool.
Having not spent much time around this part of Jost, we did a little exploring by dinghy and by foot. The bubbly pool is well known and heavily visited, but on the other side of the anchorage past some mangroves we found small deep pools carved by the waves around a few small boulders.

Take a right past the mangroves, and follow the shoreline
Deep pools around/between rocks. Nice!
View back toward the anchorage
When we spent time with Steve and Cindy in the Bahamas, we met a bunch of their friends - including Malcolm, who came to Jost for a visit while we were there.

Hi Malcolm! Steve waves from Sunny's helm
Little mangrove gets a foothold
Flowering cactus seen hiking on Jost Van Dyke
Big crashing waves on the windward side of Jost - the bubbly pool was pretty frothy this week
Tree hanging in there despite an eroding hill
Cindy takes the lead on the hill toward home
Kitty guarding the water tank
Papaya tree watches over Saralane, alone in the anchorage
Back at the house, Skip and Steve.....

.... and Cindy and Sally.
Sally, Cindy and Steve come over in Sunny to pick us up and go on an adventure
Steve in burrito/hammock in Great Harbor
We were joined in the little anchorage by Tim and Nancy on Larus, though they spent most of their time sprucing up Larus, getting her ready to head to the US to explore, and by Geof and Talia on the Outbound Wynot. Talia was kind enough to whip out the tools of her trade and give haircuts all around. Thanks Talia! We're all a lot less shaggy thanks to you.

Steve gets a shape up
Cindy, Skip, Geof and Talia on the haircutting dock
Eventually we all went our separate ways and it was time for Saralane to skeddadle from the BVI lest we overstay our welcome (and our immigration limit). Before we left, we lucked into a quick visit with Claudia and Ted from s/v Demeter, who are living aboard in Nanny Cay. When did these kids get so grown up?!

Anya and Claudia in Nanny Cay
Max and Claudia in Trellis Bay
Off we to the USVI first, then back to the BVI to stash Saralane for a few weeks to give work/family/house a bit of attention. We left her looked after in Trellis Bay where we have a new favorite place. Not a restaurant or cafe or secret place to swim. A fabulous new (to us), clean, inexpensive, do-it-yourself laundry. For better or worse, we're often compelled by places with good wifi and good laundry. One out of two isn't bad. If good wifi magically appears here we may never leave Trellis Bay.

One reason we went home was to celebrate my dad's 80th birthday... almost the whole extended family was there; cousins, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, kids, cousins' kids, grandkids etc etc. It was a really, really nice gathering and it was worth all the traveling to be there. Happy birthday Pop!

Happy birthday tooooo youuuuuuuu.......
I know I'm on the verge of rambling, so I'll wrap it up with a few shots that will bring things up to date. We're in Francis Bay St John, which we always love. Saralane is getting a little TLC in advance of my friend Kim coming for a visit this weekend. We had a nice catch up visit here with our friends Greg and Barbara on Spitfire, who we haven't seen for a while.

Sailing along with friends Greg & Barbara on Spitfire
We're getting in daily walks and swims and we finally have strong enough wifi that I'm completely out of excuses not to get this post up.

These final few pix can go under the flora and fauna heading...

Crazy thick mangroves between Francis Bay and Annaberg Plantation
From top L: Walkway through mangroves, deer by the beach, water colors seen from Annaberg, lovely and fragrant Frangipani
Clearly not worried about me being too close
Climbing vines
SO fragrant!
That's it from me for now.... thanks for sticking with me through this long and winding mega blog. More soon?!

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.