One Day at a Time
People frequently ask me "How do you sail around the world on a small boat?".  My answer is always the same: "We do it one day at a time."  I'm the first mate, cook, and navigator on Exit Only.
Welcome to my journal...

Journal 1 - Gibraltar to Canary Islands
Journal 2 - Across the Atlantic
Journal 3 - Barbados to Canouan
Journal 4 - Tobago Cays to Trinidad

Journal 5 - Trinidad to Martinique
Journal 6 - Top Ten Cruising Disasters I Was Afraid of That Never Happened
Jounal 7 -
 “The Anytime, Anywhere Provisioning List ala EXIT ONLY”.

30 April 2006/Sunday/Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI

The waterfront area of Charlotte Amalie seemed very quiet this morning. The music last night at The Village wasn't quite as loud as the music we heard the previous nights, and it stopped about midnight last night instead of going loud and strong until 0200 like the other nights. Last night was the last planned activity for Carnival and was named "The Last Lap". I did not open the hatches and turned on the fan for cool air when I went up in the bunk to read before going to sleep. The sound wasn't too loud with the fan running.

There were three huge cruise ships in first thing this morning. Dave and I wondered if Havensight Mall, the shopping area directly next to the cruise ship docks would be open today. They were closed for Carnival. We walked around the edge of the bay about two miles to go see if the Docksides Bookshop at Havensight was open. We still need to buy a cruising guide for the Bahamas and someone told us to look there. Fortunately, there is a Wendy's right outside the Havensight property, so we had a rest stop for a cold drink and a frosty to keep our energy up.

Havensight Mall is made up of 4-6 large buildings. They have numbered the buildings and I found it very confusing to find my way around. The cruise ship passengers were totally disoriented and I saw several of them holding their maps of the area upside-down. I wonder if the buildings were color-coded instead of designated by numbers if the layout would be easier for people to quickly figure out. The bookshop was quite difficult to find, because it was closed. I thought I wasn't interested in anything else except the guidebook, but I did happen to walk by a music shop and decided to buy the CD of Jam Band singing "Super Hero", the popular song from the Carnival Parade..."you're like Batman...Superman...Spiderman...". This was the song honoring Nick Friday, who died of kidney failure last October. He was in Jam Band.

While walking around Havensight, we met a couple from Detroit off one of the Princess cruise ships. They said the ship carries 2,600 passengers and it was full for this trip. The itinerary for this trip included leaving from San Juan, Puerto Rico, going to St. Thomas, Antigua, and St. Martin/Sint Maarten, then going off-shore to New York City. The passengers will disembark in NYC and the ship will spend hurricane season doing cruises to Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, etc.

We took Elvin with us so we could stop at Pueblo Supermarket on the way back to the boat. I bought quite a bit of fresh fruit and vegetables and they are heavy to carry. I saw several American products on the shelves that were new to me and looked like something we would want to try. I bought a box of cooked bacon slices, ready to use. BLT's for lunch without splattering grease in the galley and having to clean the stove!

We plan to check out of St. Thomas tomorrow morning and go to Culebra.

29 April 2006/Saturday/Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI

Everyone told us there would be many more people at the Adult Carnival Parade today than attended the Children's Parade yesterday. We went to shore at 0930. The newspaper said the parade would start at 1000. The spot where we wanted to stand was already full of chairs when we arrived in front of the post office. There was one open space among the chairs people brought. There were a lot more people out today! Dave stood at the low wall near where we stood yesterday. I stood with him until 1100. At that time I crossed the street and found a marginally comfortable "seat" on a concrete wall that came to a point rather than being flat on top. It was more like "perching" than sitting. At least I was in the shade of a palm tree.

At 1100 a local dance group did a Quadrille demonstration. The Quadrille is the official dance of The U.S Virgin Islands. Basically, it s a slow square dance. The group was dressed colorfully in Madras plaids. The ladies wore white tops with pretty lace trim. The dancing was alright, but they kept dancing and dancing and dancing...filling in time while everyone was waiting for the beginning of the parade to arrive at the judges' booth. The first group in the parade arrived at the post office at 1130, so the parade officially began.

There were more dancing baton twirlers today. The most popular song was "Superhero" dedicated to Nicky Friday, the lead singer of Jam Band, who died a year ago. He was very popular on St. Thomas. "Superhero" was written in his memory...a catchy tune with words like "Just like Batman, Superman, Spiderman".

At 1330 a group of Moko Jumbies came along. We didn't see many of these in Trinidad. These are the guys and gals who are stilt walkers. This group did several tricks on their stilts. One Moko Jumbie got overheated and the caretakers who walk along with the group actually formed a horseshoe around him so he could fall backwards on the stilts and the group caught him. They untied the long scarves that were used to bind the stilt to the calf of his leg. They took the man's feet out of the tennis shoes that were attached to the foot rest on the stilt.

Two large troupes (they call them "marching bands" in Trinidad) were dressed to represent "The King and I" and Thailand. The main theme for Carnival this year was "Glitz and Glamour". The costumes representing Thailand were beautiful. We saw them about 1430.

At 1500 the "Trini Revelers" from Trinidad came through. They wore all red, black, and white of their country's flag. They came down the street slowly to a song a"bout "Trinidad and Tobago, my sweet T & T". When they got in front of the judges, the pace picked up and they "jumped up" to "Soca Warrior".

"The Calypso Band From Vieques" was very good. We also enjoyed seeing one group of women all dressed in beautiful white lace dresses. One lady sitting in a car was a crowd favorite. Someone told David this lady is 93-years-old and was chosen "Miss Virgin Islands" at the first Carnival held in St. Thomas. The lady beside her was her daughter (around 70-years-old) who had also been "Miss Virgin Islands". There were five other ladies who had been "Miss Virgin Islands" and they were "jumpin up" and having a great time.

We stayed at the parade until 1600. There was still another two hours to go, so we walked down the main street where the groups were waiting. We got to see everyone's costumes and Dave took pictures of the most colorful groups. We walked to the end of the parade. It was difficult, because there were so many people lining the sidewalks. We had no idea so many people turned out to watch the parade. Both Dave and David were given a tie to wear around their neck. We are not sure what that means, but almost everyone on the sidewalk was wearing a tie.

The salad, cold drink, and frosty at Wendy's revived us again today. Back at the boat, a cool, refreshing rinse off completed the renewal. We had a fun time at Carnival, but it certainly was hot out there in that sun!

28 April 2006/Friday/Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI

The Children's Carnival Parade was scheduled to begin at 1000. We went in to shore to find a good spot for watching and photographing the different groups in the parade. We chose to stand by the low wall in front of the post office. The family next to us turned out to be a cruising family of four from Toronto, Canada. We enjoyed meeting them and talking about where we had been and are headed. They gave us some good information about the Bahamas. The rest of the crowd we were in was made up of locals.

The parade had 43 entries and we saw the first one about 1030. We were at the east end of the main street of Charlotte Amalie. The parade started at the west end of town. The judges' booth was located to our right. This meant each group stopped and did "their thing" in front of the judges, so we got to see the performances after seeing each group move by us at a very short distance.

We saw several sets of prince and princess of one-thing-or-another. Carnival here seems to include several contests. The winners are featured in the parade, then some go on to compete at another level. One of the sweetest photos Dave took was of a prince and princess about five-years-old riding on the back of a convertible. The prince was crying and the princess had a kleenex and was wiping his tears.

There were an amazing number of groups of dancing majorettes. We had no idea baton twirling was so popular these days. It really wasn't so much twirling the baton as it was a group doing a dancing/marching routine using the baton as a prop. Most of the "twirls" they did were pretty basic, but looked good when everyone did them together. I think one great incentive to be a majorette must be getting to wear those fancy white boots.

Music was provided by several steel pan/drum groups from different schools. We liked the name of one group..."Panatics". We saw and heard a lot of steel pan music in Trinidad. The bands there play drums that are mounted on trailers. Those trailers were one level. The trailers here are double deckers! When the band starts playing, the music starts rocking, and so do the trailers...literally! The trailers were shaking!

We decided we had enough fun at 1445. There were just five more entries to come past the judges. We stood in the sun from 0930 to 1445. We were tired, thirsty, and hungry, so decided to go to Wendy's for a salad, cold drink, and frosty. We ate slowly enjoying the air conditioning and soft seats.

Back at the boat, Dave was pleased with the photos he took today. David thinks he got some good video footage.

The live music started at 2100. I went to the forward bunk about 2130. I did not open the hatches. I turned on the fan. That put the music in the background and I managed to go to sleep. The music finally ended at 0200.

27 April 2006/Thursday/Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Dave and I went into shore at Great Harbour, Jost van Dyke at 0900 this morning. Dave went to Customs to check out of the BVI. While he did that, I took the camera and walked along the road following the shore. After we finished taking photos, we walked to a small shop to buy bread. Next, we went to the ice house to buy ice. Back at the beach, we stopped by Foxy's to look around. The song that was playing when we came to Foxy's was "Band Of The Year", the winning road march song we heard at Trinidad's Carnival. There was a constant stream of power boats zooming in from the USVI (St. John or St. Thomas) to check in to the BVI. Many of the people stopped at Foxy's before heading out, so it was one busy place at 0930.

We took up the anchor and headed out of Great Harbour at 1100. We were still discussing our plan. Should we stop in St. Thomas and sign in or should we "yellow flag" the island (stop, fly the yellow flag, stay aboard the boat). We weren't particularly interested in stopping at Charlotte Amalie, as we remembered it to be a very busy harbor and mostly a stop for shopping. The more we thought about it, we decided we didn't want to show up in Culebra with a check out from the BVI and nothing from the USVI.

Our anchor went down in Charlotte Amalie Harbor at 1315. Amazingly, there were not many cruising boats anchored in the harbor. We could see Yacht Haven Marina is not open yet. The marina was damaged in Hurricane Marilyn. The marina and a hotel were torn down and a fancy resort-marina complex is being built. There were three huge cruise ships tied to the special cruise ship dock. Dave went to Customs at the ferry dock to sign in to the USVI. They told him it is a $5,000 fine for not checking in. Immigration wanted to see David and I, so we had to go over with our passports. No problem.

The biggest news we heard from one of the Immigration officials was that we were just in time for the two biggest days of St. Thomas' Carnival. Tomorrow, Friday, is the Children's Carnival Parade at 1000. Saturday, the big adult parade will start at 1000. We immediately changed our plan for hurrying on to Culebra and decided to stay for Carnival. We walked around downtown Charlotte Amalie from 1600 to 1700 before we stopped at Pizza Hut for supper. The town looks very much like we remembered it, but some of our old favorite shops were gone and another shop was in that space. I went into several shops "just looking". Dave and David went into several camera shops "just looking" and came out with a new camera. Dave has been researching getting a new camera and knew exactly which one he was interested in. He found the camera for a very good price at one of the duty free shops. He is looking forward to using the new camera tomorrow to take photos at the parade.

Several people we talked with told us very enthusiastically about Carnival in St. Thomas. They are very proud of their Carnival Week and said St. Thomas has the best Carnival after Trinidad in the Caribbean. We loved Carnival in Trinidad, so we are really looking forward to seeing the parades here.

About 2100 we discovered why there are so few boats anchored in the harbor. There is a special Carnival Village set up on the road beside the water. There are food and souvenir booths set up around a large stage. Every night there is loud (really loud) live music from 2100 to 0200.

26 April 2006/Wednesday/Great Harbour, Jost van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

We let go of the mooring at Marina Cay this morning at 0735 and picked up a mooring temporarily in Trellis Bay. At 0845 David and Sarah headed into shore to take Sarah to the airport. The airport is a three minute walk from the dinghy dock. I rode into shore with them and had a look around the shops lining the shore. I didn't bring a camera in with me and once I was there, I wished I had the camera. I took the dinghy back out to the boat to get the camera and to see if Dave wanted to come in and look around. I returned to shore with both Dave and the camera.

David joined us after Sarah had to go through security to the boarding area. We went to the shop to pick up bread and ice. We were in the dinghy headed out to the boat when Sarah's plane took off.

Back at the boat we let go of the mooring at 1230 and headed for Jost van Dyke, the British Virgin Island that is farthest west. We arrived at Great Harbour, Jost van Dyke at 1515. First David, then Dave took the kayak out and had a look around the anchorage. Great Harbour is strip of several businesses arranged along the shore. The small village is the largest settlement on the island. This bay is known literally around the world because it is the home of Foxy's. Foxy's Tamarind Bar and Grill is famous for great beach parties, especially the one held on New Year's Eve. The Foxhole, an extensive gift shop is next to Foxy's. We will definitely check this place ot when we go in tomorrow morning to check out of the BVI.

25 April 2006/Tuesday/Marina Cay, British Virgin Islands

We all had a discussion first thing this morning about the pros and cons of staying at Marina Cay today...or going to another anchorage. It was quickly decided that we would stay here today. Sarah leaves tomorrow morning from the airport on Beef Island. Marina Cay is within sight of Trellis Bay, Beef Island.

Dave worked on the mail. He went through the mail Sarah brought to us from Kentucky again, because he wanted to take care of some of the business that needed a reply. He wanted to send the replies with Sarah. I was also finishing organizing some things for Sarah to take to Kentucky and put in the mail. It is hard to stop and take care of business when we are in such a lovely place. I would much rather be out and about seeing and doing things.

David and Sarah went snorkeling. They saw a lobster. Later, they took the kayak over to Trellis Bay and had a look around on shore. They said there is a nice arts and craft shop there and a small market selling fresh bread. I will take a look at them when we go over there tomorrow morning.

We have really enjoyed showing Sarah around and getting re-acquainted with the British Virgin Islands this past week. We went to: 1) Trellis Bay, Beef Island, 2) Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda, 3) Setting Point, Anegada, 4) St. Thomas Bay, Virgin Gorda, and 5) Marina Cay. We will be going to Jost van Dyck, BVI, to check out on our way to St. Thomas.

24 April 2006/Monday/Marina Cay, British Virgin Islands

We took the dinghy into the marina dinghy dock this morning and took a taxi to The Baths. Today, we took the video camera and the digital camera. When you approach The Baths from the sea like they did yesterday, you do not have to pay an entrance fee. We were dropped at the "top" of The Baths property by the taxi. We were asked to pay $3.00/per person and we surely didn't mind paying the money, because it goes for up-keep of the national park. We walked down a well-maintained trail through a wooded area for 15-20 minutes to reach the granite boulders at the edge of the ocean. Once at the beach, we followed another trail leading through the "caves" and "hidden pools" formed by boulders tumbled on top of each other. The national park has done a good job of putting in wooden steps to make the trail easy to follow when you have to climb up and over boulders. We went all the way to the end of the trail at Devil's Beach. From there, you can return back to the upper level near the park entrance by following a track that runs through an arid area covered with multiple kinds of cacti. We got some good photos of individual cactus plants.

After catching a taxi to return to Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour, we stopped by the store for fresh bread and ice. We went out to the boat at anchor in the bay and got ready to leave for Marina Cay. The trip from St. Thomas Bay at Virgin Gorda to Marina Cay near Trellis Bay on Beef Island took 50 minutes. We left at 1400 and picked up a Marina Cay mooring at 1450. Marina Cay is a small islet with a reef on three sides, so there is good snorkeling. There is a small hotel with six rooms and two restaurants on the Cay. David and Sarah enjoyed kayaking around the cay in the clear blue water.

Dave and I went into the dinghy dock and had a look round on the cay. Dave got some more good flower photos in the gardens. We had a look at the small white sand beach and could see the reef through the clear water. In the late 1930's, Marina Cay was home to newlyweds Robb and Rodie White. Robb White wrote a book, OUR VIRGIN ISLAND, about living on the cay. A movie was made based on the book starring Sidney Poitier. Robb departed for WW II and the island was uninhabited until a small hotel opened there in 1960. Today, Marina Cay is a favorite stop for all the cruisers.

23 April 2006/Sunday/St. Thomas Bay, Virgin Gorda

We dropped the mooring at Anegada and headed back to Virgin Gorda at 0800. Our goal today was The Baths at the southwest tip of Virgin Gorda. We had a lovely sunny day and an east wind, so we sailed there and arrived at 1140. Today, The Baths is a national park complete with mooring buoys and the rule "no anchoring at The Baths". The Baths are an unusual collection of huge granite boulders lying at the edge of the sea. The problem is The Baths are so popular, there are not enough buoys for all the boats coming there everyday, so some boats have to anchor after the buoys are full. We anchored out in 45 feet of water. There was a big swell coming in, so the boat was rocking and rolling.

Dave, David, and Sarah went in the dinghy along the shore to take photos and video. I stayed with the boat. When they came back to the boat to drop off the cameras, they said they were going to go in and snorkel, but they would have to leave the dinghy on a floating dinghy platform out from the shore. No dinghies are allowed at the shore, plus Dave said the swell was so bad, he wouldn't try to take a dinghy in there. I decided to stay on the boat. When they came back after snorkeling, they said they didn't see many fish and the undertow was quite strong. They did go on shore and walk through the rocks all the way to Devil's Beach.

We moved the boat from The Baths to St. Thomas Bay, which is located outside Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour. This is the marina we stayed in three nights ago. Today we anchored outside the entrance to the marina in a very protected anchorage. Tomorrow, we are going to take our dinghy into the dinghy dock at the Yacht Harbour and take a taxi or walk from Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor to The Baths. We will take the cameras and get photos while walking inside the rocks. Dave and David said they were surprised to see that although the boulders are huge, they are not quite as big as they remembered them to be.

After cleaning up, David, Sarah, and I went into the Yacht Harbor in the dinghy. I threw one load of clothes in the washer at the laundry while David and Sarah took a walk around Spanishtown. There was a TV near the laundry with CNN news turned on, so I got to see the latest news while I waited for the washer to finish. The dryers didn't work well the other day, so we took the clean clothes and hung them on the lifelines to dry. David and Sarah said a lady driving by them stopped and asked them if they wanted a ride to The Baths, because it is quite a walk. Nice. They thanked her for offering a ride. We went to the grocery store to buy ice cream and strawberries because today is Sarah's birthday. We ordered pizza at the The Bath and Turtle restaurant. Good pizza and ice cream...we enjoyed celebrating Sarah's birthday!

22 April 2006/Saturday/Setting Point, Anegada, British Virgin Islands

We left the Bitter End at 0830 this morning and headed north for Anegada. Anegada is a coral and limestone island, unlike the volcanic islands usually found in the Caribbean. Anegada is 11 miles long, half as wide, and its highest point is 28 feet above sea level. You cannot see the island until you are close enough to see the palm trees lining the beaches. It is a long time between seeing the palm trees and actually seeing the flat island. Anegada is famous for mile after mile of white sand beaches. Horseshoe Reef extends 10 miles to the southeast and there are over 300 known wrecks on that reef. Anegada is also famous for wreck diving.

The weather was a tad sunnier today with big cloud banks passing over occasionally. We had no trouble getting to the island and following the buoys inside the reef. There were at least 20 boats, mostly catamarans, on buoys or anchored off Setting Point. We picked up a buoy because being on a buoy spaces the boats around you better than when everyone anchors and picks their own place. Some people anchor better than others. Also, we only had 2.5 feet of water under our keel. It is hard to know how much scope to let out and to have enough room to let enough scope out.

On shore, we found it was a quiet, possibly rainy day. One of the locals told us they have a lot of day-trippers who come from near--by islands, but today no one comes. We have read that 180 people live on Anegada. David and Sarah took off along the beach to walk to the north end of the island. Dave and I headed inland to find the salt pond with flamingos. We walked for about five minutes and came to The Purple Turtle shop. I stopped because I wanted a t-shirt from Anegada now that I was finally there. I bought a shirt that says "If found, return to Anegada" on the back. We walked 10-15 further heading for the salt pond when the sky over the far side of the island turned very dark with white roll clouds in front of the black clouds. We decided this wasn't a good time to walk to the center of the island, so we headed back to the beach where there were restaurants and a small store to protection from the rain if it came to that.

Dave found lots of subjects for photos. There was a pelican in the water just off the beach almost continuously diving for food. One brave seagull would wait until the pelican had food in its pouch, then the seagull would fly over and land on the pelican's back. He would hassle the pelican and try to make it drop some food. The pelican would start paddling through the water trying to "shake" the seagull off. It was very funny to see the seagull riding on the pelican's back all over the bay. Dave got good pictures of these two.

There was a group of 14 sand pipers. They were about the size of half-grown chickens. They move up and down the beach at the edge of the water. When one eats, they all eat. When one bathes, they all bathe. When one preens, they all preen. We watched them for a long time trying to see which bird ate, bathed, or preened first. Who was the leader of the group? We never figured it out.

We would have liked to take a taxi ride and see the island, then do some snorkeling on the other side of the island. The water on this side of the island is clear, but the sand is so fine and powdery, the wave action stirs up the sand and makes the water look milky. Everyone told us the water on the other side of the island is crystal clear. This wasn't a good day for touring or snorkeling. The rain was falling hard on the other side of the island and we kept getting sprinkles from the closer side of the storm clouds where we were.

21 April 2006/Friday/Bitter End Yacht Club and Resort

We dropped the line on the mooring at 0745 this morning and headed north and a little east. Our goal is to go to Anegada, the most northerly island in the British Virgin Islands. The weather today was cloudy and squally, so we decided we would go half-way to Anegada and stop somewhere in North Sound. North Sound, or Gorda Sound, is a large protected bay located at the north end of Virgin Gorda. At 1005 we picked up a mooring at the Bitter End Yacht Club. This resort is famous for the variety of water sports available to the people who stay in their 77 beachfront villas or stay on chartered boats at the dock.

The rain squalls kept coming and going all morning. Between rain showers, David, Sarah, and I went into the dinghy dock and on shore to pay for the mooring and check out the place. We immediately saw the fenced-in shark pen complete with a large puffer fish and small stingray. Four small black-tip sharks were swimming around. There was a lovely open-air restaurant and reception building on the beach. We walked past buildings that were the sailing school, water sports hut, the Emporium selling groceries and fresh bread, a Pub for drinks and snacks, windsurfing school, etc. It started to rain again, so we went back to the boat to fix lunch.

After lunch, we got a break in the weather. David and Sarah went snorkeling and paddling the kayak. Dave and I went into shore with the camera to take photos of the sharks, stingray, and puffer fish. When we finished doing that, we walked along the path that leads to the villas and swimming pool at the far end of the beach. Lovely gardens were planted with tropical plants all along the path and most of the plants were in bloom. Dave got really good photos of some flowers and cactus plants we hadn't seen before. The remaining raindrops on the flower petals and leaves added interest to the photos.

We had an amazing experience as we were looking at a large group of spider lilies. I told Dave I thought I saw something move. We looked closer expecting to see a hummingbird or insect, and the flower moved again! We watched the closed bud of the spider lily open. First it was two white petal parts, then both of those parts split into three petals each, so six slim white petals curved out. Inside, there was a clump of six orange stamens that separated from each other. A lady came along while Dave and I were standing there watching the flower open. She heard us say, "Look, it is moving" and wondered what we were watching. She was surprised when we said we were watching a flower open. She joined us and saw a second flower open.

A couple from a catamaran on a neighboring mooring stopped by the boat to ask about our wind generators. We asked them about getting into Anegada and they told us it was marked with buoys these days and charter boats were allowed to go there now. When we lived in Puerto Rico long ago, going to Anegada was something special. The island is surrounded by big reefs and lots of shipwrecks. You had to do very careful navigation to get through the passage in the reef. We didn't trust our anchor for those shallow waters, so we never went to Anegada. Thus, we have always wanted to go to Anegada. Tomorrow is the day.

20 April 2006/Thursday/Trellis Bay, Beef Island, British Virgin Islands

After the live music at the reataurant ended at midnight, we had a quiet night in the marina. Many of the boats at the dock to not have anyone on board. A lot of the charter boats are now that floating quiety at the dock now that high season is over. We went to the fuel dock and filled our tanks with diesel and filled the dinghy fuel jug with gasoline. We had washed the boat down with fresh water and filled the water tanks while we were in the slip. Water costs 10 cents per gallon.

We pulled away from the fuel dock at 1030 and tied on to a mooring in Trellis Bay at 1135. Now, that is easy cruising! Trellis Bay is located on the north shore of Beef Island. Beef Island is connected by a small bridge to the east end of Tortola Island. The airport is located on Beef Island, so we anchored in Trellis Bay where David could literally walk to the airport to meet Sarah when her airplane arrived at 1750 today. Dave and I didn't go exploring today because we knew we will be returning to this bay when Sarah departs for the States on 26 April. We took afternoon naps to catch up on the sleep we missed when we did the overnight sail from St. Martin/Sint Maarten to the BVI.

There is a small cay named Bellamy Cay in the middle of Trellis Bay. The Last Resort used to include a hotel, but today the Last Resort is a restaurant. On shore, there are a number of shops and cafes lining the water's edge. The guide book says many artists have studios here where they work as well as display their work for sale. Aragorn's Studio is the home of Gli Gli, the largest Carib Indian dugout sailing canoe in the Caribbean. We heard about this canoe on the island of Dominica where it was hand-made. The canoe made a voyage from Dominica to Venezuela and north again. We are curious to see the canoe and the documentary video that was made about the canoe, the voyage, and the men who built the boat. We read in the newspaper that the canoe is in Antigua for Classic Boat Week right now, so we are hoping to see it when we return to Trellis Bay.

Sarah arrived on time from San Juan, Puerto Rico. We watched her plane come in over the bay. David took the dinghy to the dock and walked to the airport to meet her.

19 April 2006/Wednesday/Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, Spanishtown, Virgin Gorda

We had a great trip coming here. I told described the beauty of the night yesterday. We all remarked this morning that last night was the best sleep we have had in days. The anchorages we have been in recently have been rather bouncy, so we sleep at night, but not always peacefully. Last night we motored all night, but the smoothness of the sea meant the boat was hardly moving up and down.

I woke up at 0740 this morning and there was Virgin Gorda...and Ginger Island, Cooper Island, Salt Island, Peter Island, and Norman Island on the south side of Sir Francis Drake Channel. Tortola is on the other side of the channel. It was like seeing old friends. Dave and I reckon we were last here in the summer of 1992 when we chartered a Privilege 39 to see if we would like it. We came to the BVI by boat several times from Puerto Rico, so we know these islands and anchorages well. We came around Round Island and headed north past The Baths. This is the collection of huge boulders lying at the edge of the sea. Now, there are mooring balls and a floating dinghy dock. The Baths have been declared a National Park, so everyone pays a fee to go there. We did not stop today, because we have to sign into the BVI before we can stop anywhere. We will be going to spend time at the Baths in a few days.

We called Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor and asked for a slip for one night. They said they had one, so we tied at the marina. Dave went immediately to Customs and was gone quite a long time. There was one charter boat with 43 passengers to be checked in and another charter boat with 28 passengers to check in, so he had to wait until Customs was done with those two groups. When Dave came back and told us we were no legal, he and I walked over to the marina office to sign in and pay for the slip. Next, we went to the shopping area located at the marina to see what is available here. Our first discovery was a launderette. We are looking forward to getting some laundry done. We went into the small, but well-stocked grocery store to find something interesting for lunch. Dave chose pork chops.

After lunch, we started using the marina facilities. Dave and David put the dinghy engine on the dinghy, cleared the water jugs out of the cockpit, and used fresh water from the dock to wash down the deck and cockpit area. They filled the water tank so it can settle overnight, then we will top up the water tomorrow morning. Fuel is available at the fuel dock, so we will stop there on our way out tomorrow morning. I did some hand-washing and hung it out to dry, then gathered the rest of the laundry to take it to the launderette. You can do the laundry yourself or pay a lady to do it. I chose to do the laundry myself. I had to buy tokens from the lady running the place, then she put the tokens into the machines. She was very efficient and helpful. Unfortunately, I couldn't get three dryers at the same time after I did three loads of washing. It took a very long time to finish drying all the clothes. As usual, some dryers were better than others. While I waited for dryers, Dave and David continued to clean-up the boat, so she is looking better than she has in a long time right now.

David paddled the kayak down to The Baths and came back really excited about going snorkeling and exploring among the rocks. He thought maybe he remembered the boulders as bigger than they really are because he was young when he played there. Today, he was pleased to discover The Baths were just as beautiful and magical as he remembered them to be. He is looking forward to sharing The Baths with Sarah after she arrives for a visit on the 20th. In fact, we will be moving from Virgin Gorda to Trellis Bay at Beef Island tomorrow. Trellis Bay is within walking distance of the airport where Sarah will arrive tomorrow evening.

18 April 2006/Tuesday/sailing overnight from St. Martin/Sint Maarten to Virgin Gorda, BVI

Dave and I got in the dinghy at 0845 this morning and started across the Marigot anchorage to the inlet that connects with the Simpson Bay Lagoon. This huge lagoon can be entered by going under a bridge on either the French side or the Dutch side. The inlets are both crossed by swinging bridges that open to allow sailboats to go in and out of the lagoon at schedules times each day. We heard good things about being inside the lagoon, but we decided since we are going to be here such a short time, we did not want to spend time going in and out of the lagoon on a schedule. There are several big yacht chandleries located at the edge of the lagoon. They have dinghy docks beside their stores, so our goal was to check out Budget Marine and Island Water World. Fortunately, we don't need anything, but we are looking for a couple of guide books.

To make a long story short, it took us 35 minutes in the dinghy to get to Budget Marine. I had no idea it was that far! The dinghy dock at Budget Marine was packed with dinghies and we were lucky to get a spot because someone was just leaving. We checked out the chandleries, then made the return trip across the lagoon. We stopped at a dinghy dock nearest to the U.S. Supermarket where we were yesterday. I stayed with the dinghy and Dave walked to the store to pick up some pop.

Back at the boat, we left the two small bags we had from the chandleries and the pop. We picked up Elvin and headed into the Marigot dinghy dock. I read in the guidebook there is a Match grocery store on the edge of town that is within walking distance from the waterfront. Dave and I walked for about 15 minutes and arrived at the collection of shops with Match in the middle. This was my last chance to shop in a French grocery store. I always enjoy seeing what is on the shelves and the Dijon mustard is always a good price! We mostly bought fresh fruit and vegetables. The tomatoes we have eaten in the islands have been really delicious. The cucumbers are very fat and full of rather large seeds. I prefer the Lebanese cucumbers that are long and thin with almost no seeds, but haven't seen that kind since we left the Med. We bought a roti chicken on the way back to the boat.

Dave dropped me and the groceries off at the boat and took the boat papers to Customs to check out of St. Martin/Sint Maarten. He did not come back for almost two hours. Checking in here went so smoothly and took so little time, David and I couldn't imagine what happened. While we waited, David dived in the water with his mask and snorkel on and cleaned the bottom of the boat. I got in the water to cool down and just enjoy being in the beautiful aqua water.

Dave finally returned and we were checked out. It was a close one. Turns out people from seven boats showed up to sign out today and the Customs official wasn't there. Evidently, the Customs person gave himself the day off after the 3-4 day holiday over Easter. Someone at a near-by desk called the Customs official and eventually he did show up. He couldn't believe all these people wanted to check out...now? He told everyone he did not have enough forms for everyone, so they could come back tomorrow. Dave said the group wanted to sign out today and did not want to sign out tomorrow, so he and another man went to a shop that does xerox copies and made enough copies so each boat would have the four pieces of paper they needed to fill out. The Customs official was not helpful, but when they showed up with papers for everyone, he did go ahead and do his job, so people could legally leave. One Italian man had provisioned his boat in the morning and he was ready to head trans-Atlantic...today!

We ate a late lunch, cleaned up the boat for being at sea, then left about 1730. There was almost no wind and it was a good thing because the northwest wind direction was directly on the nose for us. We sailed off into the sunset (literally) and saw a green flash. The night sky was clear and full of stars. I was on watch from 2000 to 0030 and saw several ships and sailboats. Several cruise ships were moving at 6-7 knots toward tomorrow's destination. It is cheaper for them to be at sea at night rather than pay docking fees like they do all day. It wasn't hard to stay awake with so much traffic coming and going. The lights were easy to see in the darkness. I listened to the "Revival In Belfast" album and John Denver singing songs about the beauty of the earth on the I-Pod. I was already thankful for the beauty of the night sky reflected in the mirror of the calm ocean and the silvery ribbons of phosphorescence coming off the bow slicing through the water. The orange half moon rising about 2300 was so bright, the stars became muted in the night sky.

17 April 2006/Monday/Baie de Marigot, Saint Martin (French)

Today was a very quiet day in Marigot. Almost all of the shops, restaurants, etc., were closed for Easter Monday. There wasn't nearly as much traffic on the roads. All of this we observed from the boat in the anchorage.

Dave and I decided to go into shore and take a walk to get some exercise by walking along the road closest to the shore. There aren't always nice wide sidewalks to walk on, so sometimes we were actually walking on dirt beside the road. The fact that the shops and restaurants were closed seemed to mean there was less traffic on the roads. We walked along past huge hotels that were only partially full at this time of year. Even though it is a holiday, it is getting warm enough other places that people aren't as drawn to the Tropics at this time of year like they are in the winter when it is cold where they live. Someone here told us "the season" ends by the end of April in St. Martin/Sint Maarten and some hotels, shops, and restaurants will close from April to October.

Dave and I walked until we came to a store called "U.S. Supermarket". We couldn't pass that one up, so went in to take a look. This was a small store with lots of products in it from Europe and North America. We bought a few odds and ends, but not much, because we didn't want to carry much back with us. We left the store and walked into the hallway that connects a few small shops together. As we looked outside, it was raining hard. There was a kiosk selling magazines and booklets right there, so we passed the time looking at the books until the rain stopped.

We are still planning to leave tomorrow afternoon for Virgin Gorda, BVI. I have a list of things I would like to do before we leave here, so we are going to make an early start tomorrow to see how many of them we can do before we leave.

16 April 2006/Sunday/Baie de Marigot, St. Martin (French)

As we had hoped, the wind came around to the east/north east during the night. The "ride" here in the Baie was quite comfortable. Today, being Easter, most shops were closed by law...excepting shops selling bread and milk products and tourist goods were allowed to be open because the cruise ships are still coming today and some of the 6,000 sailors on the USS GEORGE WASHINGTON will be on shore today. We read this information in the newspaper that is printed in English on this French and Dutch island. Everyone in the shops and restaurants seems to speak English, besides French and Dutch, and maybe Spanish and German. There are a large number of European yachts at anchor here.

Dave and David climbed the hill over-looking the bay and stood by the ruins of Fort Louis to take photos and video. Fort Louis was constructed in 1767 by order of French King Louis XVI to protect Marigot from British and Dutch pirates. A French flag flies high above the ruins today. I didn't make the climb, but they said it only took about 15 minutes to climb up the hill. The view from up there was excellent. They could see the islands of Saba, St. Eustatia, Anguilla, and St. Barts in the distance. I asked them to see if they could spot the Match Supermarche (a large supermarket)at the edge of Marigot, because the guidebook says it is close enough to the waterfront to walk to the supermarket. They did see Match when they were looking over the town. These intrepid explorers managed to find fresh baguettes and a roti chicken for lunch. What a treat! I added a Greek salad and we had a delicious meal.

After lunch, David took the kayak and paddled his way around this bay. After he successfully maneuvered upwind for awhile, he went through the small canal and under the bridge to enter the inner Simpson Bay Lagoon. This large lagoon is completely enclosed by land with a French opening bridge and a Dutch swinging bridge that open on regular schedules. We are free to take our boat into the Lagoon where the water is very calm. This "outside" anchorage is suiting us just fine for the short time we will be here.

David and I got ready to go in to shore at 1730 to listen to the Easter Concert in the Open Air Theater near the waterfront. Just as we started to get in the dinghy, big black storm clouds started moving in from the north/north-east, a boat behind us was dragging, and it looked like it was going to rain hard. We decided we didn't want to be out in the dinghy or on shore in a rain storm. We stood out on deck and could hear the concert begin with a choir singing songs from the CD, "Revival In Belfast". Since we know all those songs well, we knew the music immediately. We have heard those songs sung literally all around the world.

Tuesday morning the marine shops will reopen and we have a few stops we want to make. We are going to check out the Budget Marine Chandlery, Inter Island Water World Chandlery, and I want to go to Match. Since we are leaving on an overnight passage to Virgin Gorda late Tuesday afternoon, we have a limited time to go to these shops Tuesday morning before we check out to leave. I am sorry we have to leave so soon, because we really do like St. Martin/Sint Maarten, what little we have seen of it. If we had more time, we would definitely try to see more of the island. Even though the island is small, there are quite a lot of places of natural beauty to see. A wide variety of species of birds gather around the salt ponds in large numbers. There are special areas for seeing monkeys and butterflies. Guess we will have to come back sometime...

15 April 2006/Saturday/Baie de Marigot, St. Martin (French)

There were at least 50 boats anchored in Anse de Colombier last night, sheltering from the south wind. This morning, the north-northwest wind was blowing right into the bay and we were all bow-to the opening of the bay and bouncing with each new swell. We left Anse de Colombier, St. Barts at 0840 and motored straight into the swell and wind. Fortunately, the winds were only 12-15 knots, so the swell had not built up yet. Dave kept trying to put sails up, but the sails couldn't catch the wind. We could clearly see St. Martin/Sint Maarten from St. Barts, because the rains yesterday cleaned the ash and dust out of the air.

St. Martin/Sint Maarten is one of the most interesting islands in the Caribbean because this small island (7 miles long and about half as wide) is roughly divided from west to east with the French owning the top half with the capital, Marigot, and the Dutch owning the bottom half with the capital, Philipsburg. The guide book says the Dutch wanted to own the salt ponds in the south and the French wanted land for growing tobacco and sugar, so they took the north. Today, the whole island is a duty-free cruise ship Mecca and is quickly becoming the mega-yacht capital of the Caribbean.

We came along the southern side and the western side of St. Martin/Sint Maarten. There are beautiful beaches backed by dramatic towering cliffs and rocks. These were some of the most picturesque beaches we have seen. There are pockets of tourist accommodation, but there were still beaches without hotels built on them, too. We passed the large open bay at Philipsburg and several ferries were busy going back and forth from the harbor to the USS George Washington, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier that is spending a four-day holiday here from yesterday to next Monday. As we entered Baie de Marigot, we easily found a place among all the boats to anchor, because the bay is quite large. The water is fairly shallow with a white sand bottom, so the aqua color of the water is amazing. The anchorage is right off the town of Marigot with a very nice dinghy dock provided right by the outdoor market.

After lunch, we put the dinghy in the water and went to sign in to St. Martin. We locked up the dinghy and walked about 30 steps to the ferry terminal. The Customs officials were there checking out passengers from St. Martin before they boarded the inter-island ferries. Dave told one of the officials we wanted to check in and he handed us two papers. We sat on concrete blocks outside the terminal and filled in the papers. Dave returned the papers and the man said, "Thank you". That was that. We walked around town and had a look. Over half of the shops were open because cruise ships and the aircraft carrier were in today. Although most of the people first arrive at the dock in Philipsburg, usually the tourists manage to see both sides of the island before they leave. We took a quick walk through the beautifully dsigned West Indies Mall building. If you don't have a few extra hundreds or thousands of dollars to spend, there isn't much you can afford in the shops. The open-air theater is right in the middle of the waterfront area. We read in the paper they are having an Easter concert there tomorrow night, so we plan to go.

The wind continued to blow into the bay from the north-northwest, but we are guessing it will come around to its normal direction, out of the east, by tomorrow morning. If and when the wind returns to the east, we are going to have a very protected anchorage here. We plan to stay here through Tuesday afternoon when we will be leaving on an overnight passage to Vigin Gorda, BVI.

14 April 2006/Friday/Anse de Colombier, St. Barts

After quite a bouncy night with the south wind and swell coming right into the Basseterre, St. Kitts, anchorage, we were glad to wake up this morning and head north. The boat moved constantly all night, so it felt like we were on passage. Fortunately, the wind was only blowing around 10 knots, so the swells were constant, but not large.

We took the anchor up at 0615 just as the sun was rising over the hills on the south end of St. Kitts. Dave took some photos of QUEST at anchor, then we headed to the north end of St. Kitts thinking we would go 22 miles northwest to Oranje Baai, St. Eustatia (Statia). We have slowly been heading northwest from Guadeoupe to Monserrat to Nevis to St. Kitts. St. Eustatia is normally the next logical stop on this path or Saba, which is 17 miles further. We had already decided to skip St. Barthelemy (St. Barts) because we would have to beat to the northeast to get there. All of these plans were based on what is usually happening with the winds. Today, we had the unusual south wind with us again, which meant we could leave the north end of St. Kitts and easily go downwind to St. Barts. We ended up going much farther today than we planned and ended up at a totally different destination than we originally chose.

St. Barts was used by French pirates as a base in the 1600's. In the late 1700's, France traded St. Barts to Sweden in exchange for trading rights in Gothenburg. France bought St. Barts back in 1878 and it remains a duty free port of France today. Development of the island came slowly because there is not enough fresh to support a settlement. Today, a desalination plant, improved rain water catchment systems, and bottled water have solved that problem. St. Barts is famous as a favorite island of the rich and famous. We were told it is the "in" thing to spend Christmas at St. Barts, the Riviera of the Caribbean.

We arrived off Gustavia, St. Barts, in the middle of a huge rain squall at 1345. The anchorage at Gustavia was quite crowded already and with south winds and swell, the boats were bouncing around a lot. Besides the weather and sea conditions, today is Good Friday and everything in town is officially closed. We read about the Good Friday and Easter Monday holidays in the newspaper down island. We decided to keep going to the north end of St. Barts where there is a large bay with better protection from southerly winds. Anse de Colombier is a large bay that was already over half-full of boats ranging from pocket cruisers to mega yachts anchored inside. We found a spot and got settled in before the next squalls hit. By sundown, the bay was pretty tightly packed with boats. This bay was originally owned by the Rockefellers who built a house over-looking the palm-lined beach here. There are no roads accessing the bay, so the only way to get here is by boat or a long hike.

The squall lines kept coming about every hour. The rain washed the Monserrat volcanic ash off the hast and rigging, etc., and all the dark gray ash mixed with water was making a mess in our cockpit. Between squalls, Dave washed down the cockpit with saltwater, then let the rain do the rinsing. We will still give the boat a good wash down when we get to a marina in Virgin Gorda for an overnight stop, but we were glad to get the worst of the ash off today. We can see St. Martin/Sint Maarten from here! Our next stop is only 15 miles away.

13 April 2006/Thursday/Basseterre, St. Christopher (St. Kitts)

Dave and I went into Charlestown, Nevis, this morning to check out and pick up some ice. As we got to the dinghy dock, we heard live steel pan music coming from the dock. There were two smaller cruise ships (the ones that look like pirate ships and "shoot" at each other) and a larger cruise ship in today. The music was to welcome everyone to Nevis. Dave and I immediately recognized the drums the man was playing were double tenor pans like the ones David bought in Trinidad. I got out of the dinghy and Dave went back out to the boat to tell David about the live pan music and bring him in to hear it. David came in and got to talk to the man playing the pans. He was playing melody on the pans using CD's with background music to fill in the other parts.

While I waited for Dave and David to come to shore, I walked to the grocery store to return the bag of salted fish. When I walked in both of the clerks started talking to me. I asked them if they missed their fish and they said they did. I told them I didn't discover the fish until after dark last night and it was too late for us to return it then. They told me the store was open until 2000 last night. I told them we don't go around in the dinghy long distances after dark if we can help it. Anyway, they finally said, "Thank you" and seemed please I brought their fish back.

After listening to several steel pan songs, Dave and I went into the gardens at the Cotton Ginery Mall. Most of the shrubs and trees are flowering at this time of the year and the colorful display was amazing. Dave took photos for a long time. We must have found at least 15 different kinds of flowers to photograph. The hummingbirds and butterflies were fluttering around the blooms, but they are hard to catch in a photo.

We decided to go ahead and check out in Nevis and not try to go to Customs in St. Kitts. The wind has been blowing all day from the south, which is most unusual. This makes the swell go straight into the open roadstead at Basseterre. Fortunately, the winds are light, so the swell isn't too high. W

After lunch we decided to move over to Basseterre, because it is ten miles closer to our next destination, St. Eustatia (Statia). We took up the anchor just before 1400. It took 21/2 hours to sail over to Basseterre. We saw seven other boats anchored off the west side of St. Kitts far from town. We anchored with two other boats off the commercial port to the east of town. We couldn't believe our eyes! One of the boats was QUEST! This was the South African QUEST we traveled across the Pacific with in 1995. We saw her last in Marmaris, Turkey, at a marina. Dave and David went over to talk to the people on board. They bought the boat in Turkey. They are in the process of moving it from Turkey to Alaska, where they live. Small, small world.

To make it even funnier...before they went over to QUEST (located 50 yards away from us), Dave tried to call them on the VHF. Someone answered from far away and kept saying, "I can hardly hear you". When Dave went to a clearer channel with the "faraway QUEST", it turned out there was a second QUEST several miles away from us and those people were from Montpelier, Vermont. Dave explained there are at least two boats with the same name in the area.

We plan to move north and west early tomorrow morning, heading for St. Eustatia.

12 April 2006/Wednesday/Charlestown, Nevis

We decided to not move the boat today and stay anchored off this beautiful beach for the day. After breakfast, we took the dinghy into town to get some groceries. We went to a store called Best Buy and were amazed at the USA products we found for sale there. We mostly bought pop, cereal, and UHT milk. Our best discovery was frozen Freschetta pizzas. David recommended this brand. Dave and I have heard of them and had one or two so long ago we don't remember when that was. We checked out, Dave paid the clerk while I bagged the loose groceries and David loaded Elvin with the pop and UHT milk. We stopped at another shop to buy a bag of ice, then went straight to the dinghy and out to the boat.

Once at the boat, I started the oven to bake the pizza and I put groceries away while we waited for the pizza to cook. I thought all of the groceries were put away and didn't think any more about it. Around 1900 last night, I was making popcorn and suddenly wondered where the four bags of popcorn I bought this morning had gotten to. I started looking and noticed two grocery bags sitting under the navigation table. I looked in one and there was the popcorn. I moved the other bag and it was heavy. I opened the full bag and couldn't imagine what in the world I was looking at. There were white rectangles of something heavy and hard stuffed in the bag. A closer look...and smell...and we immediately realized we had picked up a bag of salted cod fish at the store when we were packing up our groceries. Salted fish is a very popular staple in the Caribbean and we have seen it (but, not bought any) at every island we have gone to. The fish in the bag was worth roughly $30 USD. We retied the top of the bag and set it in the cockpit for the night.

Dave and David jumped in the water after lunch and gave the bottom a quick rub down. They were so impressed with how much difference in speed having a clean bottom made, they want to keep the bottom really clean, so we can keep moving well. Besides helping us move through the water, the boat looks a lot better when the bottom is clean. It looks like we care.

Dave took his camera in the dinghy and chased down some pelicans when they were fishing. He got some really good pictures of the pelicans as they were diving straight into the water. We were amazed how graceful these birds seem in flight, because they have very boxy bodies and stubby tails. Their wings are exceptionally long and strong. There are a lot of sea turtles in the water around where we were anchored, but they pop up, then disappear too quickly to get good photos.

We watched a movie and had popcorn in the evening. We didn't have any more rain today. After the hard rain last night, I think the air itself was washed clean. This was one of the brightest, clearest days we have seen in a long time.

11 April 2006/Tuesday/Charlestown, Nevis

We had an uneventful night anchored at Little Bay, Monserrat. The anchorage offered some protection from the wind and swell, but the wind still came in blasts off the mountains and here were quite a few boats anchored in a small space by sundown. The wind whipped around one way, then another. A couple of the boats had to move, because they ended up too close to another boat. Once again, we were grateful to have a beugel anchor. We keep an eye on our position and that of other boats, but with the beugel down, we don't have to worry about dragging.

We did not get off the boat at Monserrat. We reckoned sailing by the live volcano gave us a much better view than a car ride to a distant observation point outside the exclusion zone, so we didn't go on an official tour. It was sobering to see the area where the town of Plymouth used to exist along with a lava-covered golf course, empty beach hotels, etc. The Caribbean islands all count on tourism for the largest part of their economy these days, so Monserrat must be suffering from the lack of tourist income as well as missing the ex-pat dollars and pounds that came in from people building up-market holiday homes on the island. I wonder if the people who did stay on the island wake up every morning and the first thing they do is look south to the sky above the volcano to see what it is doing today. I know that is the first thing I did.

The anchor was up at 0650 and we sailed mostly downwind or with the wind on the stern quarter toward Nevis, 36 miles away. To the east of Monserrat we could see Antigua. We headed west and a little north. About halfway between Monserrat and Nevis is literally the peak of a mountain sticking out of the water. This mini-island looks like a huge rock. It is one mile long and almost 1,000 feet high. Close to the rock island we could see that this was the top of a volcano and sometime in the distant past, one whole side came off. This rock island is named Redonda. This rock island was claimed by the British in 1872 and they annexed it as part of Antigua. There is no anchorage and getting on the island is difficult because all of the sides are steep-to. We read that phosphates were discovered here in 1865 and mining began. Equipment for the 100 personnel who worked the mine was raised on a two-bucket cable that went up and down balanced by seawater that was pumped into a reservoir at the top. Phosphate production stopped in 1914 and the lease ran out in 1930. In 1978, an independent Antigua set up a post office on the rock island and issued stamps to commemorate 100 years of phosphate mining. This enterprise was abandoned one year later.

This rock island also has a king. In 1865 Matthew Dowdy Shiell, an Irish-Monserrat merchant, had a son after eight daughters. He wanted to give his son a kingdom, so he claimed Redonda. In 1850 the father, son, and the Bishop of Antigua made a day trip to the rock island. The son, M.P., was declared King Filipe I of Redonda. M.P. Sheil (minus an "l") moved to England and became a Gothic romance and science fiction author of some renown. Using his connections as a writer to approach the British government, he constantly sought to get recognition as King Filipe I of Redonda. M.P. died in 1947 after passing his crown to a writer named John Galsworth, who became King Juan I. This man tried unsuccessfully to sell the kingdom. He died in 1970 after passing the crown to Jon Wynne-Tyson, who became King Juan II. This man actually went to the rock island with a group of friends to plant a flag on the top of the island in 1979. This man abdicated his role as king in 1998 and presently Robert Williamson, a writer and artist who lives in Antigua, is King Robert. An annual literary prize is awarded by King Robert and an inter-island committee.

We arrived at the southern end of Nevis around 1100. There is a volcano at the end of the island that tapers down to flat land. As we were watching, we could suddenly see billowing smoke covering a large area of land at the edge of the sea. We thought the volcano was spitting out steam and ash. Later, we could smell burning grass and decided this was a huge grass fire. This theory turned out to be the correct one. The southern end of Nevis was a little dry with sparse settlements dotting the island. We passed the commercial port area and thought everything was tidy and neat, but not different from all the other islands. We came to Charlestown, and saw a very colorful, pleasant small town sitting at the edge of the blue water. Just past Charlestown is the anchorage and it turned out to be one of the most beautiful we have ever seen! What a surprise! Pinney's Beach is a sweeping light beige beach lined with rows of palm trees. It looks just like a poster or postcard for the perfect island beach. Truly beautiful. Mount Nevis rises above the palm trees behind the beach. The top of the mountain reaches up into the clouds and adds another "island touch" to the perfection of the picture. We had no idea Nevis was such a pretty island.

Dave and I went into the dinghy dock right in front of the town. We found the tourist information office and they told us where Customs was located. Up the stairs and back in a corner was a small office that we entered shortly before closing time. The officials were efficient and we were signed into Nevis and had a cruising permit to move on to St. Christopher (St. Kitts) and check out of St Kitts-Nevis in Basseterre, St. Kitts. We walked to the police station to get our passports stamped. On the way through town, we checked out a couple of small grocery stores and the ice cream shop. The chocolate ice cream tasted like a Frosty. We will go back tomorrow and bring Elvin so he can carry heavy things like UHT milk and pop. We stopped at a small bookshop and found a basic book on Caribbean flowering plants. Dave has taken some beautiful photos of flowering plants and bushes, so we wanted to match the names to the photos.

Back at the boat we enjoyed the anchorage as the water reflected the setting sun spreading pastel colors across the sky. Pinney's Beach is one of the prettiest anchorages we have stopped at.

10 April 2006/Monday/Little Bay, Monserrat

The sun rose and was shining on the anchorage when we woke up this morning. We went into the village at 0800 this morning to see if the Customs man was in his office. He was and we were able to check out of Guadeloupe in less than ten minutes. Everything went smoothly. We walked back to the village and stopped for baguettes, then straight in the dinghy and out to the boat. We were taking up the anchor at 0850. As we moved away from the bay, we could look back and see rain clouds coming up and over the mountain tops, blocking out the sun, and pouring rain on the village and boats at anchor. No wonder there was such lush greenery everywhere we looked.

We had a good sail for a few hours covering the 20+ miles from Guadeloupe to Monserrat. We were moving at 7.5+ knots under sail, thankful again for a clean bottom. What a difference that makes! We could see the active volcano at the south end of Monserrat from several miles away. There was a constantly changing white cloud and another beige cloud coming out of the top. This volcano, the Soufri`ere Hills Volcano (3,180 ft) erupted 18 July 1995 after lying dormant for over 400 years. The capital and only proper town on the island, Plymouth, was located at the foot of the volcano. Today, Plymouth has been abandoned after a river of lava and several feet of ash covered parts of the town. Farmers continued to farm the ash-enriched land until a superheated pyroclastic flow wiped out the remainder of Plymouth on 25 June 1997. The volcano erupted still again in July 2003.

On 18 July 1995, there were 11,000 people living on Monserrat. Today, only a third of the population is still here. The people here are living on the northern half of the island. An exclusion zone has been enforced that determines which areas of land and sea are at risk if there is another eruption. The exclusion zone goes out two miles from the island. All boats are supposed to be at least two miles off shore from the southern end of Monserrat. We stayed three miles off shore and watched another boat sail right into a big ash cloud. They turned around and came right back out. Not only would it be hard to breathe (and not healthy), we kept thinking about the mess the ash would make on the boat.

Tonight we are anchored in Little Bay with 10 other boats. The best anchorage on the island is in the exclusion zone, so we cannot use it. This anchorage is where the fishermen leave their fishing boats. We do have some protection in here, but the wind blasting down off the mountains reminds us again how glad we are to have a beugel anchor holding us. We just hope everyone else's anchor holds them as well as our anchor is holding us. I think all of these boats will spend the night here, then head out in the morning. We will be going to Nevis tomorrow.

9 April 2006/Sunday/Deshaies, Guadeloupe

We took up the anchor at Ile Cabrits at 0730 this morning. We had a rollicking sail between Ile Cabrits and the southern end of Guadeloupe, which is about 10 miles. The clean bottom really made a difference. We were sailing and moving 7.5+ knots easily through the water. The wind was from the east on our beam and both sails were pulling. Once we got in the lee of Guadeloupe, the steady wind dropped and Dave turned on one engine to motor-sail. We were not moving as fast as we did when we were sailing. The bullets of wind came blasting down the volcanic mountains every so often, but the boat moved nicely along.

Our plan was to move along the coast to Baie Deshaie, the most northern location with a Customs office. We anchored off the village of Deshaie at 1325. We ate lunch, then Dave and I took the dinghy into the two-street village to look around. There are very tall volcanic mountains behind the village and it had been raining up in the mountains since we had been able to see them. As we got to the town dock, it started raining hard in the anchorage, then it stopped. Not a pretty day. We headed out of the village and up a hill to locate the Customs office. No one was there today, but we want to check out first thing tomorrow morning. We have talked to two people who have assured us it will be very difficult to sign out of Guadeloupe here and told us we should have signed out somewhere else. So far, our experience has been just the opposite when we hear something like this. So far, so good.

On the edge of the village a lady was standing under a huge umbrella with two hand-crank ice cream freezers. I asked if she had ice cream in French. She said "Sorbet". I asked what kind and she did not seem to realize I was speaking French or that I understood her. She spoke to me with exaggerated slowness and said in French that she had two kinds..."co...co" (she said this like the word for "coconut" had ten syllables) pointing to one freezer. She pointed to the other freezer and said "co...co...et...go..ya...ve" (she said this like it had fifteen syllables). I asked how much it cost in French. She dug out a 2 Euro coin and showed it to me. I don't think this lady hears anything anyone says. She has her speech all ready and tells everyone what kind of sorbet and how much without prompting. I was laughing and so was she as she scooped out my coco-goyave sorbet into a cup. It was yummy! I told her "C'est delicieuse" and she smiled a bigger smile.

We walked the length of the town to see what is there and spotted two boulangeries for baguettes. We will come in early tomorrow morning to check out with customs, so we might as well buy bread while we are at it. Our guess is the Customs people will be in their office to "clean up" all the paperwork from the boats that anchored here over the weekend and are flying yellow quarantine flags. These are the boats that came in from another country (Nevis and St. Kitts? St. Martin? St. Barts? Antigua?) and are waiting to sign in to Guadeloupe.

It was raining again, so we hurried back to the boat to get out of the rain.

8 April 2006/Saturday/Ile Cabrits, Les Saintes

We had some very strong rain storms that lasted a long time come through last night. The rain was pounding on the deck and it was very noisy inside the boat. The wind had totally changed direction. There was a big swell coming into the anchorage and all of the boats were bouncing around like they were at sea on a rough trip. We decided we were going to leave this anchorage and move over about one mile away in the lee of Ile Cabrits. First, I wanted to get some tomatoes and cucumbers plus fruit at the market. Of course I wanted to get fresh baguettes, too. Dave still wanted to get the jerry jugs filled with water, so he took me in to the town dock and dropped me off. He went to get water while I did a little shopping. He returned to pick me up at 0930.

We took the anchor up at 1050 and put it down again at Ile Cabrits by 1115. We were the 7th boat to anchor in this area. By late afternoon, there were 21 boats anchored there. The wind continued to blow and the swell continued to come into the anchorage we left in the morning. Dave got caught up on several jobs that needed to be done. One of the supports for the port wind generator needed attention, so that was the main job for the afternoon. David cleaned the bottom of the boat. This warm water makes long sticky grass grow. The grass comes off easily when it is lightly scraped, so the bottom paint is working, but it is too bad it is illegal to use the kind of bottom paint that doesn't let the plants grow there in the first place. The boat sure looked better with a clean bottom. I did inside boat jobs, so we are looking tidy inside and out.

The swell continued to come out of the east all day, but that won't be a problem for us if it continues into tomorrow when we want to head north. We will be on a beam reach (wind hitting the side of the boat).

7 April 2006/Friday/Bourg de Saintes, Ile Terre de Haut

It rained really hard for a long time several different times in the night. We were grateful for the free boat wash. The morning dawned bright and sunny and we were also grateful for that. We wanted to go up to the fort this morning.

After going into shore, we started walking on the concrete road that follows the contour of the water along the shore before it starts going back and forth across the high hill where the fort is located. Several people were walking up the hill, but most of the day-trippers from Guadeloupe and the people off the cruise ship anchored outside the bay chose to go up the hill in taxis or on rented scooters. The taxis and scooters buzzed right by those of us who were walking and we had the road to ourselves. Along the way, we passed cactus trees twice as tall as we were. Under the cactus trees, we spotted a couple of iguanas and there were too many small lizards to count. We got some good photos of the iguanas. There are many signs warning that iguanas are protected on the island. We also got good photos of the village below us and the bay with all the boats anchored there.

It took about 45 minutes to walk up the steep road to the top of the hill. We paid a small fee to go inside Fort Napoleon. Passing through the tunnel, it was impressive to walk out into the sunlight inside the walls of the beautifully renovated fort. There was a huge two-story building inside the fortified walls that is now used as a museum. The landscaped grounds of the fort have been turned into a botanical garden. There were many tropical plants there, but the largest number belonged to the cactus family. There were several huge iguanas sunning themselves among the cacti. They must be able to read the signs saying they are protected, because they sure were not afraid of the people passing by. The museum was very interesting. There was a room with information and items pertaining to Colombus. There was a room about the history of Les Saintes. Once again we read the story of how British Admiral George Rodney left Pigeon Island outside what is now Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, in 1782 for his most decisive naval battle named the Battle of The Saintes (referring to the small islands off Guadeloupe). From the ramparts of this fort, we could look over to Ile Cabrits and see the ruins of Fort Josephine at the top of the highest hill on the island. Fort Josephine was used as a prison and in the museum we saw an old photo of prisoners breaking rocks with hammers.

We walked back down the steep hill and stopped at the 8 a' Huit mini-market to buy slices of ham and a package of Emmenthal cheese. We stopped by the boulangerie and bought fresh baguettes to make sandwiches at the boat. We all love baguette sandwiches with ham, cheese, tomato, lettuce, onion, cucumber, fresh basil, and Dijon mustard. Having fresh French bread is a real treat.

In the afternoon, a Privilege 39 like ours came into the anchorage. When Dave went on an errand into the village, he stopped by the Privilege, named AQUARIUS. Dave met Carl and Judy from California. They invited us to come over around 1700 for snacks. We did go over and talk with them and their friends, Bob and Marcy on GODIVA, also a catamaran. Before we could go over to AQUARIUS in the evening, Dave had to overhaul our dinghy outboard motor. He was going into the shore to talk to someone about getting some water when the engine quit running. Dave paddled back to the boat and started tearing the engine down. He was able to fix it after working on it for over an hour. He found the problem was a throttle cable that is stretched, so now is too long. He jury-rigged something and made it work again. There is a Yamaha dealer in Dutch St. Maartin, so we will look there for a new throttle cable. This one seems to be working for now.

When we made it to AQUARIUS, we talked about catamarans, of course. Turns out Carl and Judy kept their boat at the Dog River Marina in Mobile, Alabama, for two years, and yes, they know Tom and Bette Lee. We are going to start asking everyone we meet if they know Tom and Bette Lee! How strange is that? We meet people from South Africa and California in Les Saintes in two days and we end up talking about mutual friends. As I have said before...small world.

6 April 2006/Thursday/Bourg des Saintes, Ile Terre de Haut (Les Saintes/The Saintes Islands)

We left Portsmouth, Dominica, at 0735 this morning to head north to the group of small French islands located 8 miles south of Guadeloupe called Les Saintes. There are eight small islands in this group and we stopped at Terre de Haut, the largest island in the group. It is 3.1 miles long and 1.5 miles wide.

We anchored off the village called Bourg des Saintes at 1150. There were a lot of transient boats anchored there, and there was a constant stream of ferries coming from Pointe a Pitre in Guadeloupe bringing day-trippers over to spend several hours on Terre de Haut. The village has two streets paralleling the shore. These streets are lined with restaurants, cafes, and shops within easy walking distance of the ferry dock.

After we ate lunch on the boat, Dave and I went into shore to check into Guadeloupe (Les Saintes are under French jurisdiction through the local government on Guadeloupe). We enjoyed walking through the village and seeing the tidy white buildings with red roofs lining the cobblestone streets. The village is very picturesque. The Customs officials were located in an office at the marie (city hall). They took our boat papers and asked us to return in one half hour. They copied our boat papers and faxed them to headquarters in Guadeloupe. When we went back thirty minutes later, we were officially entered into Guadeloupe.

We walked through the rest of the village, keeping our eyes open for French breads, baguettes, and pastries. There are many shops that sell bread and pasteries, but all the fresh goods were sold out. If you want fresh bread, you have to get it early in the morning. There were several small grocery shops with all the basics available.

On the highest hill overlooking the anchorage and village, there is a restored fort. We want to hike up there and see the fort, plus the view from up there must be terrific. We decided to do that tomorrow morning if the weather is nice.

We stopped by the catamaran SPIRIT OF ECSTASY and met the people on board. They had swung by us and asked where Customs was located and if they were open when they arrived today. At the time, we had not been into shore, so after we did sign in, we stopped by to tell them where we found Customs and about the procedure. Ian and Louise invited us on board for a cup of tea. They are from St. Francis Bay, South Africa. We told them our friends, Tom and Bette Lee, have a St. Francis 48 catamaran that was built in St. Francis Bay. Turns out, these folks know Tom and Bette Lee! Small world.

5 April 2006/Wednesday/Prince Rupert Bay, Portsmouth, Dominica

We let go of the mooring ball in Roseau at 0850 this morning. There was very little wind in the shadow of the island. We put up the mainsail and tried to use the foresail, but it kept filling, then dumping wind as we moved along the coast. The high mountains make what wind there is, very unpredictable. We motorsailed and arrived in Portsmouth, Dominica, at 1235.

Portsmouth is the second-largest town on the island, but it only has two long streets paralleling the long sandy beach at the edge of Prince Rupert Bay. The town fits in the small flattish area between the sea and high volcanic mountains that cover most of the island. The guide book says that Portsmouth was originally chosen to be the capital of the island in the 1500's, because the bay is the best anchorage on the island. The near-by marsh became a problem when people got malaria. Roseau was chosen as the capital because the area was "healthier".

We came in the south end of the bay and did a run along the shore taking photos and video before we anchored on the northern end. It was a big surprise to see two small rusting freighters and one large rusting freighter laying on the beach. The large boat was just a few feet from several houses. We found out later these ships were washed ashore in Hurricane David in August 1979. If there were people in those house on the beach during the storm, seeing those ships washing toward them must have been terrifying.

After lunch we dinghied into shore and left our dinghy at Big Papa's dock. There was quite a big swell coming in, so we were glad we brought the stern anchor with us and could anchor at the side of the dock. The dinghies without stern anchors were being bashed against the end of the dock with each pounding swell. One man who works for Big Papa came out and asked us not to lock our dinghy in case they had to move them around, and he promised they would keep an eye on the dinghy. We had heard security is a problem here. We also paid this man to take our garbage to Big Papa's bin.

We left Big Papa's at the north end of town and made our way down the street nearest to the water. There were wooden houses on stilts and newer concrete houses mixed in with small shops selling interesting combinations of products. I was looking for bread since I had already decided I would rather make bread than eat what Dave bought in Roseau. It is interesting to me that Dominica sits between two French islands (Martinique to the south and Guadeloupe to the north) with an unlimited variety of light, delicious French breads, and they choose to eat hard, heavy breads. Dominica was ruled by the French as much as by the British over a two hundred year period of time. They speak English as a first language now, but their patois is based on French. Many of the islanders speak both English and French. Why didn't the French bread become popular?

After asking how we could get to Ross University, the American medical school located south of town, we headed for the "bus stop" at the other end of town where we were told to stand on the sidewalk. Right by the bus stop we smelled fresh baking bread. I popped into the shop and bought a fresh loaf of bread just before a maxi taxi stopped to load passengers. We rode in the maxi taxi for about 15-20 minutes and were dropped at the main gate of very modern white cement buildings trimmed in aqua. The campus is tidy and beautiful and overlooks the sea. The security at the gate is very tight. We told the guard our daughter had told us about the school and we wanted to see it while we were here. He called several people on the phone and we had to sign in and put on a badge before we were allowed on campus. One of the first people we met on the sidewalk stopped to answer a couple of questions we asked. We talked to the man for about 20 minutes and discovered he and his wife are new on the faculty of the school. They have been cruising the Caribbean for four years and and live aboard their catamaran while they are working in the clinical psychology department at Ross. They are from Alabama. We had a lot of fun talking to him and wished we were going to be around Portsmouth longer so we could learn more about their experiences in Dominica. It seems that Ross University is a big part of the economic story in the northern part of the island.

We walked around the campus, then crossed the street to Perky's Pizza. We reckoned a pizza place near any school would have to be pretty good to get repeat customers. While Dave and David waited for the pizza, I went into James' Store. This is a medium-size grocery store with all the kinds of things you would expect expat students to buy. This looked like a super-center compared to the smaller basic shops we had seen in Portsmouth. The store had a wide variety of goods, but the snack foods, cool drinks, and bread were right up front by the cash register. I bought cereal and popcorn.

A maxi-taxi stopped and picked us up immediately, so we were back in town before it got dark. The guide book suggests the area is safe during the day, but a little extra caution should be taken after dark. That seems to be true almost everywhere in the world these days. We walked from the bus station at the south end of town to Big Papa's at the north end of town where our dinghy was tied. The sweet smell of ganja was wafting on the night air. I had to laugh when one of the Rastas asked me if I wanted to buy some. That is the first time anyone tried to sell me ganja. I decided I must really look tired today.

About 1900, really loud music started moving through the air and across the water. We thought one of the hotel restaurants or bars must be having live entertainment tonight. The music went on for over an hour, so we heard a lot of it. Turns out, it was a church service. We could hear the music, then the preaching that went on until almost midnight. If the town and people don't come to them, they reach out to the town and people by turning up the microphone. Everyone for miles around could hear what was being sung and said.

4 April 2006/Tuesday/Roseau, Dominica

I stayed on the boat all day today and did some catching up on jobs that don't get done when we are moving the boat. The swell was coming into the bay a tad and I didn't really look forward to climbing the shaky dock steps up from the dinghy to walk on the dock that sticks so far out in the water and so high above the water from the dive shop. I decided I would rather stay on the boat than go through all that again two times...before and after spending a little time on land.

After lunch on the boat, Dave and David took the cameras and walked to the east side of town to find the botanical gardens. They said it was a small garden, but they got some very nice photos of a cannonball tree and a sausage tree. Only someone with a sense of humor could have designed those trees. This is the time of year the bushes and trees are blooming, so they got some nice shots of colorful blooms of all sizes and descriptions. One banyan tree was of particular interest. The tree was blown over in Hurricane David which hit Grenada hard in August 1979. The tree fell directly on a yellow mini-bus and squashed it. The bus is still in place under the old trunk of the tree and the tree has sent a new trunk reaching to the sky.

Of course, we remember Hurricane David well because both Hurricane David and Hurricane Frederick came near where we were living at Roosevelt Roads Naval Station, Puerto Rico, within days of each other. We owned a Triton 28 sailboat at the time and had it kitted out to go on our first cruising holiday with our very young children. The hurricane caused us to reschedule those plans. We have often told Wendy and David about those hurricanes. This was the first time Dave and I had experienced the eye of a hurricane passing over us. David was 6-7 weeks old and he slept through all of the hullabaloo in a woven Moses basket. Wendy was a couple of months less than 2-years-old at the time and was old enough to know something exciting was happening.

To the back of the Roseau botanical gardens there was a marked trail that went up the mountain behind the town. Dave and David followed the trail and ended up on an overlook with a splendid view of the town at the edge of the ocean, the south and north ends of the island, and the seemingly endless ocean. The top Supreme Court Justice of Dominica lives up on the mountain with an armed guard at her property line. She must have to make some tough decisions that everyone doesn't agree with.

I asked Dave to bring some bread and ice from town when they returned to the boat. They brought both. The ice was a real treat. The bread was a long bread about 12 inches long, thicker in the middle, tapered at the ends, and heavy enough to be declared a concealed weapon. I can't imagine eating this bread dry. Maybe they use this bread to sop up the local stews and soups that seem to be so popular. Maybe they are using cassava or dasheen (roots of elephant ear plant) flour to make the bread and that is why it is so heavy.

We will be moving north to Portsmouth, Dominica, tomorrow morning.

3 April 2006/Monday/Roseau, Dominica

We left St. Pierre, Martinique, at 0620 this morning. The winds went down in the night and the southerly swell was completely gone. We had light easterly winds pushing us along once we came out from behind Martinique and were in the channel between it and Dominica.

We stopped at Roseau, Dominica at 1315. This island is volcanic and has many high mountains. The book says the wind can blast down the mountains and the shore is steep to. The anchorage at the Anchorage Hotel outside Roseau is quite a distance from town. We decided to pick up a mooring that is near town. The mooring is in 75 feet of water and is owned by a dive shop with a very long pier coming over the water where we can tie up the dinghy. The only other boat on a mooring was our friends, Walter, Joe, and Amanda, on MARNIE. We were surprised to see them and know they were surprised we are moving so fast we caught up with them. We left Trinidad a week after they did.

After we had something to eat and were satisfied we were tied well to the mooring, we put the dinghy in the water and went in to the pier, then into the dive shop to pay for the mooring. We walked toward town to Customs, located on the ferry dock. There was a huge cruise ship in town today, so Customs was busy and Dave had to wait about a half hour to get in the building to check in to Dominica. He did a three-day check in and out when he saw Customs.

We walked around town looking for a grocery store. We found one, but we were looking for soft drinks and they didn't have much variety. We bought some strange- named local pop because that is what was available and everyone told us this was the biggest store in town. We thought it was small-to-medium size. Dave went into a pharmacy and found some food and soft drinks in there. We were able to buy both Diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper. It doesn't get any better than that.

Dave and David were carrying bags full of pop and I was pulling a heavily-loaded Elvin. Fortunately, the dive shop was mostly downhill from town. When we arrived at the dive shop and pier, there was a local man with a green 110 Land Rover truck. We had never seen one like this, sort of a short 130. He does off-road 4x4 tours in his Land Rover. He and Dave had quite a talk about modifications as the man is looking to do some to his vehicle. We gave him our website name so he can go there and see what our vehicles looked like. He wants us to sign up for a tour, but he is busy until Thursday, so I don't know what we will decide to do.

Dominica is 29 miles long and 16 miles wide. It has 8 active volcanoes. Most people come here to do rainforest hikes and mountain hiking. The island was British for many years, so English is the first language. It is located between French Martinique to the south and French Guadeloupe to the north. The two main stops at this island are Roseau, the capital, and Portsmouth at the north end of the island. We haven't decided what activities we are going to do here.

2 April 2006/Sunday/St. Pierre, Martinique

This is quite a beautiful anchorage and waking up to see Mt. Pele'e, the volcano, standing tall above the surrounding land is impressive still today. We were able to take photos of the volcano without clouds covering the top. The sides of the volcano are covered with crops, so the volcano appears to be green. The volcano is 4.3 miles north of the town.

After taking our dinghy into the town dock, we walked around the first of two streets that parallel the shore. There was a crowd of people in the town square on the waterfront in front of the "8 a' Huit" (this means 8 to 8, but the shop is really open from 0800-1930. I guess that was too long for a store name.). Today the shop was open from 0800-1230. The town square had benches made in squares around palm trees for shade, interspersed with flowering bushes. Many local people were sitting around visiting with their friends. A few souvenir shops and cafes were open. There was no cruise ship in today.

We walked back to the second street running parallel to the shore. There were more shops and cafes, but very few were open. We did spot Marina Pizza with its stack of empty carry-out pizza boxes ready for business. We carefully noted the hours they would be open. The sidewalks were only wide enough for one person and if a car parked so one side of it was on the sidewalk, you had to walk in the street to get around the car. The one-way traffic on both streets was steady. We reckon this road must be the one that goes around this part of the island and everyone had to drive through St. Pierre. We had to be very careful crossing the street and walking around parked cars.

Last night we could see lighted stone walls standing on the shore to the north side of town. In the light of day, we stood at the top of these walls and realized these were walls that had survived the volcanic eruption. From a distance, the town looks dirty, but once we were standing on the streets, we saw a very tidy, neat town made up of colorful buildings that have incorporated the gray and black lava rock into the town's reconstruction. The modern building we found on top of the stone wall is the local volcano museum. Inside, we saw photos of how the town looked in its heyday. In 1902 before the volcano erupted on 8 May, St. Pierre was the capital of Martinique with a population of 30,000. Rich estate owners used this bay to export cocoa, coffee, sugar, and rum all over the world. St. Pierre was known as the "Paris of the Caribbean". It was the social, cultural, and economic center of Martinique. Ships stopped here from all over the world to sell and buy goods.

On 8 May 1902, at 0802 the side of the volcano above St. Pierre glowed red and burst open. A giant fireball of gas containing more energy than an atomic bomb was released onto the city. An estimated 29,933 people were instantly killed by the poisonous gas or later by the hot lava and fires. Twelve ships anchored in the bay were destroyed. Some stories say a few survived the eruption, but most stories only tell about Cyparis. He was imprisoned in the solitary confinement cell of the prison because he murdered someone. The thick walls of the cell saved his life. Cyparis was found injured, but alive, four days after the disaster occurred. After he was well again, he went to the U.S.A. and joined Barnum and Bailey's Circus, billed as the "only survivor of Mt. Pele'e's eruption".

These historical facts are well-documented in the museum. Everyone seems to come away with questions about volcanoes and earthquakes. Don't volcanoes give signs of activity before they "really blow"? One book we read about Martinique said there had been rumblings on the mountain in April 1902. On 2 May 1902 enough ash came out of the volcano to kill birds and animals. That same day, one planter went to check the damage the ash had done to his crops on the south side of St. Pierre. He and the workers with him were swept away in a sea of boiling volcanic mud. On 5 May 1902, an estate north of St. Pierre disappeared under a flow of mud, lava, boiling gases, and rocks that covered an area one quarter mile wide and 100 feet high.

The logical question is "Why didn't they evacuate St. Pierre?". The book says the local estate owners did not want to stop the commercial flow of products going in and out of the city. They would face financial ruin. They didn't want to admit there was a problem. The in-experienced Governor of the island had been in the Caribbean less than a year and did not want to evacuate the city because the process would be difficult and would allow the world to know there was a problem "on his watch". He encouraged people to stay in St. Pierre and took his own family there to prove how safe it was to be there. Elections were coming up and the politicians did not want anything to stop them. The politicians asked the local paper to print articles about how it was safe to be in St. Pierre.

Today, 6,000 people live in a small town of St. Pierre. In 2002 the town had a 100-year celebration remembering the destruction of St. Pierre in 1902 and probably being thankful that it had not happened again since then. We left the museum and walked farther down the street to the site of the destroyed theater and prison. The theater has stone structure left to tell it was a theater. The prison is all footings of stone buildings except for the solitary confinement cell that is still standing. Very impressive to stand in these ruins and look up at Mt. Pele'e "looking" down at us. We backtracked to the center of town, stopping on the way at the Marine Pizza. I went ahead to 8 a' Huit and bought ice cream and cold drinks. We met again at the town square and had our lunch sitting in the shade of a palm tree by the waterfront.

1 April 2006/Saturday/Fort de France, Martinique

We marveled at what a nice anchorage this is...right off the town, great dinghy dock, few boats in the harbor so there is plenty of room, etc. We were to remember these thoughts later in the day.

We took the dinghy into town and had a look around this morning. Since it was Saturday and there was no cruise ship in port, many of the shops did not open today. The ones that were open, stayed open until 1300 or 1400. The town has a population of 100,000. The downtown area is concentrated along the harbor. There were a lot of souvenir shops selling the usual carved and woven bits and pieces. There were a lot of fabric stores selling many fabrics. The most expensive fabric, which is almost like a souvenir itself, is the orange-based multi-color plaid worn by many of the older ladies. We have seen variations of this plaid in St. Lucia and Martinique. I believe we will also see it in Dominica and Guadeloupe. The skirts are made of bands of the plaid material separated by strips of white lace. The plaid skirts are usually worn with a lacy white blouse.

We looked at the fruit and vegetable market that the locals go to on Saturday mornings. We arrived late in the morning, so there weren't many people shopping. If you want the best choices, you have to get to these local markets by 0700. The market was located near the big park in town. We were hoping to find trees and plants in bloom so we could photograph them, but there weren't many flowering plants at this time of year.

We walked back to town to find something to eat. Dave opted for Kentucky Fried Chicken, while David and I chose Delifrance, where we bought ham and cheese baguette sandwiches. On the way back to the dinghy, we bought some French baguettes and croissants. Most of the shops were closing as we arrived at the dinghy. Within fifteen minutes of our arrival at the boat, six more yachts came into the anchorage to anchor and three of them were quite big. We were just discussing whether or not to leave and seeing all of these yachts crowd into the anchorage helped us make up our mind to leave.

The anchor came up at Fort de France at 1350 and we sailed down the protected west coast of the island to San Pierre, arriving at 1640. We were surprised to be pushed along by a wind from the east and a swell coming from the south. We have no idea what caused the swell, but it pushed us right along. Of course, the bay at San Pierre is protected from the east, so we had wind protection, but the southerly swells were rolling right in to the beach. This made being at anchor a tad rolly. We weren't doing too badly, but some of the monohulls were rolling through quite an arc. We anchored, hoping the southerly swell would die out soon without a southerly wind to reinforce it.

San Pierre is the town that was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1902. We are really looking forward to going into town and seeing the museum, etc.


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