…Well, as fast as you can zoom on a sailboat going to windward.
I’m writing this down at the navigation station as we sail from Dominica to Martinique at 6 knots, heeled over to starboard at 10 to 15 degrees. My right foot is braced against the wall across the narrow hall that leads back to the aft cabin. Well, let me just get Captain Mark to take a picture…
There’s Captain Mark manning the helm,
and Timmy doing what he does best!
I’ve gotten behind on the recording of our journeys due to our fast pace, so I feel compelled to start blogging in these less than perfect conditions. Dominica was the last leeward island in the Lesser Antilles (all the smaller islands in the Eastern Caribbean/not Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico). Martinique is the first windward island when traveling from the north. So here’s how I’ve come to understand the names leeward and windward. The British gave them these designations back in the day. To get to the windward islands (southern islands in the Eastern Caribbean chain), you are sailing basically east (almost always to windward because of the easterly trade winds) so the northern islands of the Eastern Caribbean that you’re sailing through (on a windward tack) are called the leeward islands, which means the side sheltered or away from the wind. This is super confusing! Anyway, what it means for us is that when we get to Martinique, we’ll be in the windward islands, and when we leave we’ll be finished with the less than comfortable windward passages unless the wind shifts from the normal trade winds!!
We were cruising at a fairly leisurely pace while we were in the USVI,
visiting wild donkeys on the beach at Honeymoon Beach, enjoying the beautiful Caneel Bay Resort grounds, and spending lots of days moored at Christmas Cove, near St. Thomas.
While we were at Christmas Cove, I enjoyed doing my own snorkeling, but I also enjoyed watching all the snorkeling tours come every morning and afternoon looking like confetti sprinkled in the water.
They made for a good painting subject!
Christmas Cove is where we had an unpleasant surprise. Mark discovered that we had a hole in the exhaust manifold of our engine. We could still use it when Mark discovered the hole, but this could spell big trouble in the future! The decision had to be made whether we would go on to St. Martin, as planned, and get it fixed there or back track to Puerto Rico, where we knew of a good mechanic we had worked with before. We reluctantly chose to back track. A couple of days later, while we were still in Christmas Cove, we got a happy surprise from our son. He gave us word that our little granddaughter, Ava, is going to be baptized. For a few hours, we tried to reconcile ourselves to the fact that we would have to miss this milestone in our family’s life. It didn’t take long for us to decide that missing this event entirely was unacceptable to us, so Mark started putting together a plan to get Granny K. back for the April 17th ceremony so that only one of us would have to miss it. Both of these surprises altered our leisurely plan for cruising through the Caribbean, and put us on a fast track!
Of course, fast is more easily said than done! First, Mark temporarily patched up our hole and we headed back in the wrong direction after an overnight stay at Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.
We got to share lunch with Micki and Chuck at the Tap & Still and meet some of their sailing friends there. We had been enjoying the online intensive Bible Study for which they are missionaries. We got to talk to them about what a blessing it had been to us! We are in a group that includes couples from Alabama to Michigan!
Our decision to go back to Puerto Rico turned out to be the best decision as far as the boat repair went for several reasons. Long story made short, we got the boat fixed while we were docked at Sun Bay Marina for about 2 weeks!
Then it was a spirited sail back to
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas (yes, the double rainbow really looked like that!) for one night where we were able to share breakfast with Chuck and Micki! They have become treasured family-in-Christ encouraging us and truly sharing in some of our burdens. God is faithful! After a one night stay at St. John where we enjoyed lunch with S/V Sandra Louise,
we were off on our whirlwind trip in brand new territory through the Leeward Islands on our way to the Windward island, St. Lucia where I’m catching a flight to The States to see baby Ava baptized!
On a side note, Since leaving the USVI, we are unable to attend our online Bible study meetings due to super slow (when we can get it) internet. We still receive the study to do weekly, but to prepare for Ava’s baptism, I’ve been intensively studying a 1,000+ page Catholic Catechism book and the scriptures that go along with it that Mark downloaded to my ipad! I have thoroughly enjoyed it, reading about the common foundation and faith in Christ shared between my protestant branch of Christ’s Church and the older Catholic Church, into which Ava is being baptized. I am truly excited to partner with the Catholic branch of our family to help her to come fully into the faith that by God’s grace we all share!!
HIGHLIGHTS OF OUR WHIRLWIND TRIP THROUGH THE LEEWARDS:
Part One of Six—St. Martin/Sint Maarten—March 17-23:
To get to St. Martin, we did an overnight passage. The sunrise was beautiful a few hours before we made it to our destination.
The day we arrived, we had a wonderful lunch at Le Sous Marin (The Submarine), we chose this outdoor-seating restaurant because it was full of customers (always a good sign). All the food is prepared from scratch by
Jean-Baptiste and his wife. Their young daughter, Alison, helped serve us and practiced her English on us. When I asked Jean-Baptiste for a recommendation from the menu, he motioned for us to follow him into the kitchen where he showed us everything! What GREAT service and such a fun experience!
Jean-Baptiste showed us a collection of photographs published in a magazine from a trip he took across the USA. He wanted to show us one taken of a field in Texas!
Lunch at Le Sous Marin was one of our best experiences in St. Martin and a perfect introduction to the French half of the island!
We spent all but our first night at St. Martin/Sint Maarten anchored in Simpson Bay Lagoon on the Dutch side.
We waited our turn to come through the Simpson Bay Bridge
That’s where our good friends Bob and Anita were anchored; although, Anita was back in the states because of the sudden death of her father. We had Bob over for dinner, and enjoyed spending some time with him everyday!
One of our favorite hangouts was at the French bakery where they spoke English on the Dutch side of the island, The Taste Factory, where we could have a treat and get internet.
We tied our dinghy up at the dock at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club.
We stayed in St. Martin for 6 nights dividing our time between the Dutch and French side via dinghy. So our whirlwind trip hadn’t yet gained the momentum that it later would, but we were skipping islands that we will make up in the coming years. We made a noteworthy purchase here in St. Martin inspired by Bob—a NutriBullet!
Now we enjoy mango or strawberry smoothies almost everyday!!