Well, I’ve never let this happened before. We’re here in Trinidad on Nancy Lu for our 2020 season, and I haven’t finished blogging for our 2019 season! For the sake of continuity, I’ll just pick up where I left off last year…
PART ONE: HEADED NORTH, STILL…
We continued heading north in the spring of 2019 with our next stop being Prince Rupert Bay in Portsmouth, Dominica. We were pleased to reconnect with our friend, Martin, there. This was our first time to be anchored in Prince Rupert Bay since spring of 2017 and the September, 2017 Hurricane, Maria. The progress we saw in rebuilding infrastructure was heartening, but the restoration of the landscape takes more time. Much of the green that we saw from out in the anchorage was vines climbing up the remains of trees rather than actual foliage of trees.
We went on a boat tour up the Indian River, which is something we had done back in the spring of 2016, during our first visit to Dominica. It was a different experience in 2019 compared to 2016, but still interesting and beautiful.
It was heartwarming to listen to Martin’s commentary, by which we could tell his pride and love for his country hasn’t diminished since our first tour with him,
neither have his handicraft skills or his lady-charming skills…
I was able to add another Martin-crafted palm frond bird to my little vase! After our Indian River tour, Martin joined us on our mutual friends’ boat, Allegro, to catch up.
The next morning, he joined us for coffee and a jam/worship session on Nancy Lu. It was a special time! Right after he left, Mark and I went for an epic snorkeling session, which I wrote about in an earlier 2019 blog devoted to snorkeling titled, “Come Snorkel With Me”.
We hiked to a few places that we’ve enjoyed before. The difference that Hurricane Maria made was evident…
The sign that marks one of our favorite sections of the Waitukubuli Trail was quite weathered.
The section of the Waitukubuli Trail near the weathered sign features a suspension bridge that spans the Picard River. Back in Spring 2017, the suspension bridge was in good repair. 2019, not so much! I would not cross it! Another big difference was the sparse canopy overhead compared to 2017.
We will never come to Portsmouth and neglect to visit our favorite swimming hole just down river from the suspension bridge. The first time we discovered it was after a long and arduous mountain hike that included section 11 of the Waitukubuli Trail and ended with crossing the swiftly running river via the suspension bridge. That swim in the pool down river was one of the most refreshing experiences of my life. We returned several times back in 2017, bringing different cruising friends for a cool dip, but we’ve never again taken the mountain trail route that we took the first time. All other visits, we’ve just dingied down to the government docks, walked on the road that runs virtually parallel to the sea and crosses the Picard River, turned left, bypassed the swimming hole, visited the suspension bridge, and walked back down to the swimming spot. That’s enough of a trek to appreciate a cool dip, but it really doesn’t compare to the luxurious reward that it was after a 4 hour hike through mountain rainforest that first time!
The evening before we left Portsmouth, Martin stopped by to give me a huge, beautiful bouquet of tropical flowers and 2 papayas from his garden! Talk about making a girl feel special!!! I’ll never forget that!
As we continued north, we moored off of Ilet a’ Cabrit in The Saintes (a charming little group of French islands) for a few nights. In 2019, all of the Caribbean islands we visited seemed to be unusually brown. The Saintes were no exception.
Me, in one of my 3 new, early, birthday present outfits, imitating one of my favorite GIFs, inspired by gelato!! (I discovered GIFs last sailing season.)
The highlights in The Saintes 2019 were getting laundry done, eating gelato, birthday shopping for me, and getting a haircut which pretty much got me to my new/not-so-new natural hair color after years of coloring it to try and match my old natural hair color (FREEDOM!!).
HIGHLIGHTS FROM OUR NORTHERN MOST ANCHORAGE OF 2019, POINTE A PITRE, GUADELOUPE: We had never been here before…
A visit to the impressive and informative Slave Museum, MACTe. I have no idea what that stands for even after research.
The view of the surrounding area from the museum was also impressive.
We enjoyed the aquarium in Pointe a Pitre. I wrote about it in my “Come Snorkel With Me” post.
PART TWO: HEADED SOUTH…
We were sailing into the wind all day on my actual 57th birthday (May 10), so that wasn’t very pleasant! But the next morning, we woke up anchored in Anse Chaudiere, Martinique. We consider this to be one of our favorite anchorages, so I commemorated my birthday there! What these photos don’t show, is the WICKED current that would have swept me out to sea if I hadn’t caught hold of the new rubber ladder that we can hang over the side of the boat. We had just bought it in Guadeloupe. Our dinghy was still hoisted on its davits so we couldn’t put the permanent, back ladder down. Also, I would have never been able to climb up the back of the boat with no ladder as I have done a few times when there is no current. My new year as a 57 year old woman started off with a SPLASH!
After a couple days of rest anchored at Anse Chaudiere, we continued sailing south and spent one night moored between the iconic pitons of southern St. Lucia.
It really is frustratingly impossible to photographically capture the peaks’ grandeur which you experience while anchored between them as they loom large over either end of your boat. Like all the other islands last year, the Pitons were brown, thus missing some of their regular glory.
We enjoyed yet another peaceful sunset at our anchorage between The Pitons. Sunsets always evoke a melancholy feeling in me because they remind me just how quickly each day and moment passes. Sunsets and Sunrises both remind me of my chosen “theme-word” for 2019—ENJOY. Even though I’ve chosen a new “theme-word” for 2020, I will continue to strive to enjoy (or find joy in) every day and moment that God gives me. After a good night’s sleep, we left the The Pitons early the next morning as did a few other sail boats.
We were in for a treat not long into our sail! DOLPHINS! If any creatures on earth can inspire joy, it is an exuberant pod of dolphins playing around your sail boat!!
After our joy-inspiring morning with our dolphin friends, we had smooth sailing until the wind predictably died away as we passed St. Vincent. We were about to begin the appreciation in the goodness of our own species-inspiring leg of our trip south to Bequia.
Here’s the story (super short version): Well, when the wind dies, you cannot sail. Our plan was to just switch on our trusty engine and motor our way past St. Vincent until we got the wind again once we’d made it past St. Vincent in, predictably, 3 hours, approximately. You can’t turn your engine on when you completely lose your transmission, which is what happened to us! Mark tried to repair the situation, but there’s nothing you can do when the shaft that turns the propeller is completely detached from the transmission and hanging above the engine room floor. What to do? You rely on the kindness of fellow cruisers and get on the VHF radio and call one of the vessels that you can see is very close. Shout out to s/v Fluensea who came to our rescue! First, we tied the quickest line we could find between our two vessels, carefully while underway.
Once we were tethered together,it was EXTREMELY slow-going because we could not risk colliding with one another or violently yanking one another.
I stayed at the helm while Mark worked on arrangements to get us to a mooring at Bequia and continued to try and solve the problem! Finally, he remembered a much longer line that we had so we re-tethered using that, which allowed us to go a LITTLE faster. We arrived at the entrance to Bequia right at dark, HOURS later than anticipated and managed an uneventful exchange between being towed by s/v Fluensea to being pushed by dinghy by African, the owner of the mooring we had arranged to pick up. African and his crew helped us get moored. Mark was pretty much beside himself, anticipating thousands of dollars in repairs or at worst, a new transmission, and no telling how much time to get us on our way, possibly causing us to have to rearrange all kinds of plans, the most important one being joining a convoy to Trinidad where Nancy Lu gets hauled out for hurricane season. Things could not have worked out ANY better! The next day, a local man, Winfield Sargeant, who has done a few maintenance jobs for us in the past got wind of our situation and took it upon himself to tell a crack mechanic, Kerry, about our need. Kerry showed up at our boat to offer his services before we even had a chance to call him! Almost miraculously, HE FIXED IT in short order—just hours, and it cost VERY little!! WOW!!!!!!
The transmission worked fine on our next leg south, which took us to Carriacou where we briefly connected with some cruisers we had met last year, Marsha and Hal on s/v Eagles’ Wings. We discussed with them the reason for wanting to sail with a convoy to Trinidad. There had been a very recent pirate attack on a sailboat in the waters we would be sailing between Grenada and Trinidad. Thankfully, No one was hurt, and this allowed for some very reliable information about the attack. The attackers were most likely Venezuelan. The sailboat made it into Grenada with 14 machine gun bullet holes in her hull. This was serious! Jesse James, a Trinidadian cruiser liaison with the Trinidad Coast Guard and government, helped arrange convoys of cruisers to be met and escorted by the Trinidad Coast Guard safely into the country. We left Carriacou headed straight to Trinidad with our convoy! I felt safer on this trip south to Trinidad than I did the previous year! Back to the transmission repair incident: We thought that the repair could possibly be a temporary fix, but according to several mechanics in Trinidad, WE ARE GOOD TO GO!!!!! WHAT A BLESSING!
There’s quite a bit of work to be done before Nancy Lu get’s put on the hard. We do a lot of that work at pleasant Crews Inn Marina where there are nice amenities such as a pool and Caffe’ Del Mare. We also enjoy fellowship with other cruisers who are doing much the same things we are.
Sometimes we work in some awesome adventures while we get Nancy Lu ready for hurricane season! Watching the huge Leatherback Sea Turtles lay her eggs was one of the best!
We leave Nancy Lu in the capable and reliable hands of Ricky Denoon up on jack stands at Power Boats Mutual Facilities Boat Yard.
PART THREE: BACK TO TEXAS
My last blog chronicles what we found waiting for us in Texas when we got home after our overnight flight and a few weeks into our 6 month stay stateside. I would like to use this platform to create a pictorial diary of the highlights of the rest of our time at home. It was a busy and rewarding time shared with family and friends (old and new)! Feel free to just scroll on through Part Three!
We visited our daughter, Claire, at her new home.
Our daughter, Amy, came to visit us along with her whole New York household.
We went to visit Mark’s brother, and his wife, Judy, to attend Hannah’s baby shower. She and our nephew, Wayne, were awaiting the arrival of their first baby.
While there, we got to see our soon-to-be-daddy nephew, Wayne, and his brother, Ryan, hard at work on his new home.
We were totally impressed with nephew, Ryan’s, work on his own house!
We got a nice visit in with Mark’s Uncle Wayne and Aunt Candy in Austin.
I had the opportunity to be the7th grade girls’ church camp counselor.
I spent about a month getting ready for my parents joint celebration of 8 decades of a well lived life!
We were so happy to have our friends, Hal and Marcia, from s/v Eagles’ wings come and visit us in Texas!
We were so excited to have our first visit to the grandkid’s house when we got home!
On our next visit to see the grandkids included a trip to the zoo! Someday maybe they’ll get to experience the salt life on Nancy Lu!
My parents’ 8 decades party was a blast!
We gave a mermaid party for Ava since we had to miss her unicorn party!
We got to go to Remi’s Incredibles birthday party!
We had a fun North Carolina glamping trip with the Alan Stanleys
Mark turned 58!
Once a month trips to see the grand kids are always highlights of our time in Texas!
Mark did improvements to our house and to a couple of new rent house acquisitions.
Ethan’s family came to our house (newly painted blue) for a very early Thanksgiving celebration. Mark’s sister, Gina, and her two girls joined us!
We had a good day for which I was very THANKFUL! We spent actual Thanksgiving in Arkansas.
There’s nothing better than a granddaughter jumping into your arms when she first sees you!
We ALWAYS bring the pink car when we visit!
We continued the tradition of celebrating Ethan’s and Kristin’s birthdays, which are 6 days apart, with a “6 days of birthday” party (6 presents for each to open)!
Christmas was special and fun! We hosted my parents, our two daughters, and my brother’s family + their German exchange student, Finja. We also took a trip out of town to Ethan’s house for Christmas with his sisters and his grandparents. Other Christmas activities not pictured were a visit to Mark’s parents earlier in December to visit and help decorate for Christmas. I coordinated the Holiday Hoopla skating outreach lessons at our church along with the culminating Christmas pageant. All of these things were captured photographically and in my memory, but frustrating glitches with equipment prohibits me from posting the pictures in this scrapbook blog! GRRRRR! This problem happened with so many other highlights of our time at home of which I have pictures that I would like to include in my little scrapbook… like the workshop that I was invited to give at the South Arkansas Arts Center after so many people were interested in learning how to make the big paper flowers that I made for my parents birthday celebration! Mama and Aunt Joanna were my practice students the day before the workshop—priceless! I have so many cute pictures of the Wednesday night preschool program at our church, which I had the opportunity to lead as a substitute for a month—so fun and CUTE! Just tons of stuff! Oh well, I still have the pictures stored on the computer and the memories stored in my heart…
Okay, back to the Nancy Lu part of this 2ufromnancylu blog post … Thanks for the indulgence! Well, I guess this whole blog thing is an indulgence, and I appreciate those of you who take a look at my pictures and read my commentary. Many of you have asked me to continue sharing our travels on Nancy Lu, so I will! It is a bit of a job, but it really helps me to feel connected with those of you whom I miss while I’m on Nancy Lu! It also helps me to appreciate all the experiences that we have out here!
PART FOUR: BACK TO THE CARIBBEAN IN 2020
I’m going to leave this for my next blog post. We’ve been on Nancy Lu for a week on the hard. Ricky looked after her well. We’ve been doing the work that’s always necessary when you start the sailing season, and we’re already enjoying our time back in the Caribbean living our cruiser’s lifestyle. One thing I’ve noticed since being back is how much more social we are on Nancy Lu. There are hardly any days that go by where we don’t get together with someone for something. That’s nice! I wonder why it’s not so much that way at home? We should work on that when we get back!
At 1:00 am
tonight this morning, I’m catching a flight to go visit my little sister, Jenny, and her family for a few days (my Christmas gift from Mark)! I’m going to watch her do her thing in a community theater play, but that’s really just an excuse to go visit. I’m also looking forward to spending a day at the forest preschool that she started a couple of years ago, Magnolia Forest Preschool! It’s going to be quite a change in weather for me!!