I am utterly behind on chronicling the last two months of our sailing season on Nancy Lu—so behind that it’s OVER! I’m sitting at my in-law’s kitchen table trying to get started with this task, in Texas, just 4 days after flying home from Trinidad on May 30! There really hasn’t been a dull moment since we walked in the front door of our land-home! As usual, our friend, Kenny, picked us up from the airport. What was unusual was that he picked us up in the morning; we flew all night! I liked that, and having almost a full day after arriving on our doorstep was helpful in dealing with the situation that awaited us there…We found the aftermath of a fire in our garage! Long story short, we think that we had a lightening strike, which incinerated the sprinkler system unit on the wall, burned the baseboard under the unit and part of the framing boards of the garage!
The garage and all of it’s contents were covered with black, oily, soot! We are acutely aware of how blessed we are to only have a sprinkler system to replace and a pretty hefty clean up job to be done, but nothing more! My thought is that our God had no good-to-work-together for us in having our house burn down that day (Romans 8:28), and I am so grateful! There’s nothing like a close call to make you appreciate your blessings, and I have a renewed appreciation for our comfortable home where we look forward to living and hosting family and friends for years to come! I’ve already put my OCD tendencies to good use by cleaning the minimal residue that made it into the main floor of the house (mostly the floors), but was a lot more time consuming than you might think. I’ve also detailed our two vehicles, begun the de-sooting of the garage, and scrubbed the basement clean for good measure (just the normal coming home cleaning)! We will finish the more daunting job of finishing the cleaning of the garage when we get back home in a few days.
After just 1 and 1/2 days of beginning the process of getting our house back into “shipshape”, we traveled to south Texas to attend the lovely wedding of one of my former children’s church “kiddos” who just happens to be one of our pastor’s sons!
We had the added bonus of meeting our daughter, Claire, there, and getting our dance on along with the rest of the wedding party! I just love a good dance party!
From there, we traveled further south to visit Mark’s parents where I was humbled and inspired to see, lived out, the words of wisdom that pastor/dad Bob shared at the wedding—Love is a verb!
It takes a tremendous amount of effort on Grandpa’s part to allow Grandma Lu the gift of being able to live in her own home despite the advanced Alzheimer’s disease with which she has suffered for years.
From here, we will head up to Austin to visit my brother and his family and spend more time with Claire!
So that’s where we are now, but this is supposed to be an update chronicling our continued travels north during our 2019 sailing season on Nancy Lu…
So here we go!
To pick up where we left off in the update about our time in Bequia: We left there and began the first leg of our sail to the French island, Martinique. Since we had a current in our favor and were making great time,
we decided to change our plans and sail past the iconic Pitons of St. Lucia instead of stopping there overnight. We sailed all the way to Rodney Bay much further to the north. As a result of this change in plans and the fact that it was a pretty rough passage, at times, I was dog tired and went to bed in my clothes right after dinner. The advantage was that the next morning, we had a short sail to St. Anne, Martinique where we planned to stay for a while.
Having been to St. Anne before, we anticipated a few things like
yummy sweets and baguettes,
a super nice laundry experience complete with a healthy, unsweetened watermelon juice (gotta make up for all that bakery sugar) purchased from a beachside bar close by!
But we were surprised and happy to run into some cruiser friends whom we met last year,
Sylvain and Val on s/v ZENl’attitude! We enjoyed time on each other’s boats,
a hike together,
and they introduced us to yummy “Bok Its” (a local sandwich on homemade fried bread) with Sauce Chien (that’s dog sauce in English, but I promise it’s not made from dog parts)!
We were flattered when we came to visit our friends for the first time and saw their new dinghy tied behind their boat all decked out in new custom dinghy chaps! They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?
Mark got his hair cut in St. Anne. Having Valerie (who is French Canadian) there to translate was a real help!
After two weeks in St. Anne,
We sailed between Diamond Rock and the main island, headed north to St. Pierre, stopping in different bays along the way for a few days at a time where snorkeling was our main activity. I posted pictures from those snorkeling adventures in my previous blog update.
Mount Pelee looms large, majestic, and somewhat ominous over the town of St. Pierre where we spent just a couple of days. Pelee left many ruins from its last eruption in 1902. St. Pierre, formerly known as the Paris of the Caribbean, was rebuilt over time around the ruins, but never reached its former glory. Still, it is an interesting and picturesque place to visit!
ST. PIERRE SIGHTS:
a pretty alleyway
The cathedral in town, still being used today, has undergone multiple renovations since 1902, and has been in the midst of yet another renovation every time we’ve visited St. Pierre. It was an especially poignant sight this year since the Notre Dame fire was just a couple of days before we got to St. Pierre. Notice the street name paying homage to the author largely responsible for the notoriety of Notre Dame and generating funding used to bring it back from the dilapidated state it was in prior to the popularity of his novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame!
Ruins of the commercial promenade circa 1902
The following 6 photos are of the ruins of the once opulent theatre:
More St. Pierre sights:
I’m always drawn to chickens walking down streets.
A successful attempt at beautifying some ruins. The words are those of a famous poet.
View of St. Pierre from the town pier
From St. Pierre, we sailed on to the “Nature Island”, Dominica! We had not been there since Hurricane Maria, which reached category 5 just before making landfall, devastating the island. I was apprehensive about seeing our favorite island for the first time since 2017.
Our first stop was the capital, Roseau, in the southern part of Dominica. There, we reconnected with Mr. Beanz whom we had met when we were there in 2017 before the hurricane. He had provided us with boat services and arranged awesome tours for us and our buddy boats that year as an employee and protégé of the well known SeaCat of “SeaCat Yacht Support and Island Tours”! It was great to see Mr. Beanz again, and he filled us in on how the hurricane has affected Dominica, his friends, and his family. He also gave us insight into why the damage was so great, how the recovery is going, and how people are coping. His house, where he lives with his mother, made it out with their roof intact and very little damage. Many families were not so fortunate, and sadly, there was much loss of life. No life in the country was untouched in some way. Mr. Beanz is still working hard for SeaCat and always thinking entrepreneurially about ways he can make a living while being a great ambassador for Dominica! He was responsible for setting up the most memorable adventure we had this year in Dominica, an EPIC hike, which we took a couple of days after we arrived…
Kenny, another SeaCat protégé, was our guide. It was a 20 mile round trip hike through steep mountain terrain in the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main attraction was a flooded fumarole (opening in the planet’s crust, in this case, over a lava flow, which emits steam and gases) named…
The Boiling Lake!
We had the pleasure of taking this hike with a young family of five. Although the trail held indescribable beauty, the effects of hurricane Maria were evident.
Two years after the hurricane, most of the trees are coming back, but some are beyond restoration.
The first third of the trail was not much different than any other hike we’ve been on in Dominica. Crossing streams,
following perilously narrow paths at the edge of ravines, and
marveling at all the beautiful vistas along the way are the norm on any Dominica hike. But the hike we were on wasn’t just any hike!
Just about the time it seemed we should be getting close to the Boiling Lake, Kenny informed us that we had almost made it only halfway there!
The steam rising from the Boiling Lake that we could see in the distance gave us the deceptive impression that we were getting close—NOT SO! We still had the descent from the mountain we were on and the ascent of one more to go!
We took a picture at the halfway point and stopped for a snack!
Then we got going again.
The going got much more steep on the last half of our trek to the Boiling Lake…
We couldn’t help but think about the fact that we would be climbing UP on the way back…we were aware that; although we were a little more than halfway to the main attraction, we were really only a little over one quarter of the way finished with the WHOLE hike! YIKES!
Eventually, we made it to The Valley of Desolation.
The Valley of Desolation is technically called a fumarole field where we saw and felt hot bubbling streams and spurts of escaping steam.
Our surroundings became less “desolate”- looking, once again, as we hiked on! There was so much more to see…
A spot where we could refill our water bottles with fresh, cold spring water poured over a big green leaf.
We’re almost there!!
SELFIE TIME! Be careful!
Kenny, who was a bit chilly, let us have as much time as we wanted to enjoy the surroundings *and recuperate* a tiny bit before we started the 10 mile hike back to the van.
As a distraction from the arduous trudge that still lay ahead for us on the way back, we stopped for a dip in one of many natural hot tubs. It was quite a feat to get to it, but felt nice to our tired muscles.
Ahhhhh, a warm shower with plenty of water pressure!
This expression says it all about how we felt anticipating the journey still to come. By the end, my legs were trembling and aching.
I could barely make it down the steps into the cold refreshing waters of Titou Gorge, which marked the beginning and ending of our EPIC hike! On the van ride back to the pier where Mr. Beanz picked us up in SeaCat’s boat to take us back to Nancy Lu. I was seriously worried about being able to make it on to our boat, but of course, we did! My calves were sore for a week after that adventure, but it was totally worth it! We had a few more adventures before the soreness even wore off…
A couple of mornings after our epic Boiling Lake hike, Mr. Beanz showed up at Nancy Lu with his mom and nieces for a visit . Mr. Beanz, aka Uncle Dwayne, shows the girls a good time every weekend when they come to stay with their grandmother . This weekend, we got to be part of the fun as part of a swimming excursion to the beach!
I was thrilled to have some little ones on board to play with! I remember being a little concerned about my level of strength, which was greatly depleted from our hike, as Dwayne handed his niece up and over our life lines to me from his boat! Sore muscles and all, I had a ball with my visitors!
We made smoothies,
Later that day, Mr. Beanz went with us on our dinghy to snorkel at Champaign Reef, pictures of which, I included in my last blog post. This was a good zero-gravity workout to help recuperate. They say the worst thing you can do when your muscles are sore is to sit still…
Photo Credit: Ken Goodings
On that same dinghy-outing, we went a little further south to visit the naturally hot “jacuzzi” at the edge of the beach in the village of Soufriere. This also sounded like a good idea for our post epic-hike bodies. Mr. Beanz took a big group of us there 2 years ago. This time, he visited with some friends at a jacuzzi-side bar as we soaked for a bit.
Then, Mark and I checked out the beachside church that’s just a few steps up from the “jacuzzi”. It was hosting a fundraiser at the time, so there were games and all the usual fundraising activities going on while we were there.
Although the church’s roof has been repaired from it’s hurricane damage, we saw some other damage still in need of repair. Most of the stained glass windows were broken.
It was slow-going with my sore calves up and down the stairs that I took to get a bird’s eye view of the sanctuary!
The next day, we went into town for a stroll and a bit of grocery shopping, with a visit to the Dominica museum thrown in for good measure.
We explored the grounds around the Charlotte Estate, a homestead built in the 1920s at the center of an 18th century plantation. It operates as a bed and breakfast, now. The grounds are beautiful nestled among plantation ruins.
Walking around town is always interesting. It’s a bustling place with various styles of architecture from various eras,
old ruins caused by hurricanes in the more distant past and
the more recent past. I visited the public library two years ago when we were here. It was a welcoming place with school kids gathering there after school on the shaded, breezy verandah.
I got a lump in my throat seeing it the way it is now after Maria.
Fort Young was another recent hurricane casualty and is in the midst of renovation; although, we ate lunch there this year early in our visit to Roseau, since they have already restored their quay-side restaurant.
Across the street from Fort Young, the Anglican church was also damaged.
I took a picture of this photograph that hangs in the Dominica Museum. You can see the damage done to the Anglican Church and Fort Young, across the street, back in 1979 by Hurricane David. It was a category 4 as compared to Maria, which was a Category 5! Life goes on, but these natural disasters are tragic for the people of this small island!
It was nice to see the shiny restoration of the monument, which stands in a prominent round-about, in honor of all the African slaves brought to Dominica, but more specifically to those who escaped and resisted their oppressors to the point of death.
Later that day, Mark and I took another long dinghy ride south to Scotts Head for some snorkeling. I put pictures of what we saw underwater on my last blog update, but the leisurely dinghy ride back to our anchorage turned out to be the real treat on this excursion! We left the next morning to sail further north to Portsmouth, Dominica, but I’ll end this blog update with the rugged and wondrous beauty of southern Dominica that we marveled at as we made our way back home to Nancy Lu! FYI: I was quietly singing to myself, the whole dinghy ride home, a verse of one my favorite songs, “Montana”, from James Taylor’s most recent album, Before This World…
“…Who can imagine the scale of the forces
That pushed this old mountain range up in the sky?
Tectonic creation, erosion, mutation
Somethin’ to pleasure God’s eye
The world is a wonder of lightnin’ and thunder
And green of the ground as we fall from the sky
The old and new faces, the tribes and the races
Thousands of places to try
Over the ocean from here
Over the mountains from there…”–JT
I’ll still be travelling north in my next blog update….SO BEHIND!!!