Happy St. Patrick's Day, Everyone!
Before I talk about Mustique, I'd like to tell you about the city buses on these Caribbean islands. My example is of St. Vincent, but we've experienced the same in St. Martin, so I'm assuming most islands have the same system.
The city buses are minivans. They are crowded; I've been in a bus with 15 other people. On shopping day, Saturday, add overflowing shopping bags among us. The music is loud - thump! thump! thump!. The riders and drivers are accommodating and patient. The fares, the schedules, the routes are all fluent, not necessarily set. For example, to go to physio sometimes I paid 3 EC (Caribbean dollars) or 2 EC. It depended on what change I was getting back for the 5 EC. Canadian dollar is two ECs. When the traffic is heavy, the driver may decide to change the route to get to the next major stop. It happened to me twice. There are bus stops but if you ask, the driver will stop where you need. There's no schedule, I just stood by the side of the road and lifted my hand when a minivan was coming. I would then ask the driver if he's going where I wanted to go. If not, I waited for the next bus. The most interesting was coming back from the botanical garden by myself. From the garden, I walked down 2 kms to the bus terminal in Kingstown. The bus terminal is a big parking lot full of minivans and people milling, shouting, laughing around them. The buses don't have a signs indicating their final destination (in St. Martin they did). Either you know the driver or you ask around which I did. After three trials, I found my bus. Oh, I almost forgot, the roads have no traffic lights, no stop signs, no name signs. Every driver honks at each other to communicate. Not having a car, it is a good way to travel on the islands. We love it.
Mustique is one of the small islands in the Grenadines. It is considered a private island: only residents of St. Vincents and the Grenadines and residents' visitors are allowed to roam the island freely. Tourists must be escorted by taxi. The reason for this is the famous houses built on it: Mick Jagger, Felix Dennis, Princess Margaret, David Bowie, Paul McCartney. Some villas can be rented for 80,000 USD per week.
Our anchorage in Britania Bay was perfect for us. Our friends, David and Regina, with another couple, Collin and Tina, took one of Barefoot Yacht Charters' catamaran to join us for a couple of days. Swimming and snorkeling were the prime activities as we couldn't hike the trails on the island. On the beach, we bought fresh fruits, vegetables and fish; a baguette and focaccia at the local bakery. Last night we all dressed up for Tacos Tequila Thursday at Basil's, the beach bar.
During the many days we spent with David and Regina, we had long conversations about our sailing journey to this point. David and Regina plan to do a similar trip from Gananoque, Ontario this summer, fall and winter. We discussed our experiences some good some not, equipment they may need, places they shouldn't miss and other information. They were avid listeners. We'll see them again at their place when we drive to Quebec City in May.
We said goodbyes this morning. They sailed back to Bequia (pronounced Bek-way) and we moved on to Canouan for diesel, then to Saline Bay, Mayreau Island. I can finally make my fish dip/spread. A local on a small boat stopped by to sell us fresh red snapper. We promised him a small bowl of fish dip tomorrow. I'm sure he'll show up. If not, it's more for us. LOL! You can find my recipe scrolling down my blogs; the picture is a dip in a bowl with blue background; it's dated July 19, 2021.
We're starting to have some problems with the engine again. The batterie that is used for the windlass (it drains a lot of energy) and engine start is getting old. It's very unsettling when you want to leave but the engine doesn't start. Thanks to Frank's knowledge, he switches the engine starter to other batteries and that works ... most of the time. When this solution doesn't work, the other problem that Frank thinks we're starting to have is with the solenoid. The solenoid is coil of wire that converts electrical energy into mechanical work. As I press the start button, Frank uses a rubber mallet to bang on the solenoid ... and that works! Phew!. Our strategy for now is to finish our trip with these temporary solutions. Worst-case scenario, we bought a spare solenoid in St. Vincent. Once in Grenada, Frank will change the batterie and solenoid for next season.
Tomorrow will be an exciting snorkeling day at Tobago Cays just beside Mayreau. Tobago Cays is an archipelago of five small islands surrounded by reefs. So, we should see beautiful marine life and even swim with turtles. Then, we'll spend a few days on nearby Union Island (banking, laundry, provisioning, etc.).
I just noticed that I haven't written a blog in more than a week. I know that some of you enjoy reading them, so I'm sorry to make you wait.
One of the reason for this delay is a severe back pain. It was caused by constant strain on my legs and back during a night sail of about 10 hours between Antigua and Guadeloupe a week ago. After dropping anchor and sleeping a few hours, I had problems getting out of bed and standing straight on my feet. I started on muscle relaxants and got something stronger when we arrived at Les Saintes Islands. It took me a couple of days of pills and ice packs to feel good enough to walk on shore and enjoy Les Saintes. For whatever reason, today the sharp stab pains are back (excuse the pun). A good thing we're only doing 15 miles today. I'll continue with pills and ice packs.
The Caribbean seas are different than the ocean. We don't have much ocean experience of course but we definitely see a difference of wave action between our three-day trip from Caicos to Puerto Rico and the seas around the leeward islands. The Atlantic water were big swells with small waves on top. The swells were 8-10 seconds apart. In the Caribbean Sea, the waves are more predominent than the swells. The waves are easily one metre high or more. Some hit Komeekha like a wall. Unless we're following a shore, in a light wind day, we never have flat water. When we had flat water along Dominica 2 days ago, we remembered that our last time of flat water was in Miami! Even anchored in bays, there's always some water movement.
Les Saintes is a cluster of small islands, part of Guadeloupe. They were discovered by Christopher Columbus on All Saints Day in 1493. Later, both French and English fought over it. First the French won it, then the English. Many islands including Guadeloupe were given back to the French in exchange for Canada and other territories during the Treaty of Paris in 1763. <span;>We visited Napoleon's fort at the top of a hill. According to our tour guide, this fort took 5 years to build. By the time it was completed, it was no longer necessary. It was used therefore for housing military personnel. The views from it are breathtaking.
Due to the size of Les Saintes, there are no large docks to accommodate cruise ships. The few of them that venture in have to anchor out in the bay and shuttle their passengers to shore using their life boats. The islands have many beaches and reefs - heaven for diving and snorkeling.
In Guadeloupe and Les Saintes, one of their specialty is "Tourments d'Amour". Translated: Love's Torments. They are tartelettes made of pie crust, jam (variety of flavors) and topped with cake (like angel cake). Blog picture. In the old days, when men went fishing at sea in small boats, big waves, the risk of capsizing was high. Women who stayed home baked their Tourments d'Amour for their men's safe return.
We made new boat friends from Quebec, their sailboat Gobe Sous passed us on our way to Les Saintes. During happy hour, we learned that they are veteran Caribbean sailors - 20+ years! Such good people! We learned a lot from them. We're looking forward to see them again next sailing season.
It's interesting how we make new friends. Here's another story. As we were waiting for a bridge to exit a lagoon in Sint-Maartens two weeks ago, a guy in a dinghie who noticed our Quebec courtesy flag, came alongside to chat. Jocelyn and his wife Nathalie, from somewhere near Sherbrooke, own a sailboat called Mordicus. They were also anchored in the lagoon but we didn't meet. We found out they would finish their ten-week season in Martinique mid-March. We parted hoping to see each other again this year. In Les Saintes, as Frank was clearing out at Customs, he saw Jocelyn. Both guys planned a happy hour in Martinique two days later. <span;>We're now in Martinique for another day. We<span;> loved getting to know Jocelyn, Nathalie and Jocelyn's parents (Michelle and Rene) last night over wine and cheese.
We'll sail to St. Lucia tomorrow for an overnight then St. Vincent and the Grenadines for a week. In St. Vincent, we hope to spend some time with friends from Guananoque (sailboat called Vitae). They are in St. Vincent for the month of March but will be busy helping friends who own Barefoot Sailing Charter. So we'll play it by ear.
I am often pleasantly surprised how our reality turns out to be so much better than expected.
When we left Miami, we were alone and we planned on spending a couple of days on Bimini Island then move on to Nassau on Christmas Day. We ended up spending 8 days with 4 sailboats from Quebec: Sabado, Luana, Marie-Jeanne, Friend Ship. What a blast we had with them. It all started on the 24th (we were planning on leaving on the 25th) with Manon and Serge on Sabado - a catamaran but we won't hold it against them LOL! - on their dinghie visiting each boat in our anchorage with big container of mints and inviting us to a Christmas Eve Happy Hour that afternoon.
After that first encounter with everyone, and because of weather, we decided to stay a few more days. We had a few more happy hours together, spent a few meals with Annie and Serge from the sailboat Marie-Jeanne, played board games, went to the beach, etc.
Now, 8 days later, these 5 sailboats - Komeekha included - who didn't know each other when they arrived at Bimini (except for Sabado and Friend Ship) are all leaving tomorrow morning for Nassau. Only Komeekha will do this 24-hour jump non-stop; the other 4 boats will anchor halfway along the way for the night. We hope to see them again. In the meantime, we'll keep in touch.
One phenomenum I find interesting is the movement of many sailing/motoring vessels on a specific day because of a favorable weather window. For example, we know there are sailboats still in Miami that have not been able to cross to the Bahamas yet due to strong winds from the North which would make a crossing of the Gulf Stream from the South very uncomfortable. Tomorrow, the weather is perfect to travel Eastbound. Therefore, these sailboats from Miami will arrive at Bimini or other Bahamian destinations nearby. And we at Bimini will travel Eastbound to the Berry Islands and Nassau. So when the winds are favorable for a day or two, all these sailing/motoring vessels are shifting to another destination. From a bird's eye view, it would be interesting to see.
For Komeekha, the plan is to stay in Nassau until Jan. 3rd to allow us time to reprovision, do laundry and celebrate the New Year. Reprovisioning on Bimini Island is not possible. Their grocery stores are in fact little convenient stores. All food items are very expensive and few are fresh. For example, we bought a load of bread, 2 O'Henry bars and a small fruit cake for US$ 17. From Nassau, if the wind forecast remains as we saw it today, we may be able to sail another 30 hours to Rum Cay. Relax for a day, then continue on to Crooked Islands. Relax for some time, then continue on to Great Inagua Island where we will check out from the Bahamas with Customs. Again, that's the plan and, as you well know, it may change. I'll keep you posted.
We had such a good time, I didn't have time or the energy to blog until we left, this morning.
At Fort Pierce, we had lunch with Howard and Marilyn, Frank's uncle and his wife. What a delightful couple! They're no nonsense persons who say it as it is. We got along so well. Howard entertained us with his boat delivery adventures (he's a boat broker). And, Marilyn and I hit it off as soon as we met, talking about family, men and life in general. They mentioned a farmers' market on Saturdays just beside the marina we were staying at.
Fort Pierce had everything we needed: groceries, West Marine and a tiki bar. When we arrived in the afternoon, we decided to go to the tiki bar instead of having a beer on the boat. Sitting on stools along a side bar, we met 3 lovely French Canadian couples. They all had a place near Okeechobee Lake, an hour away. We discussed sailing and spending winters in Florida, exchanged contact info while sipping margheritas.
The following day, our friends Dale and John from Jensen Beach (15 NM down the ICW) joined us for breakfast. Dale and John chartered sailboats in the Caribbeans and are members of a yacht club by their condo in Toronto. So besides being friends for many years, we have a lot in common and to catch up. Dale was pleased to sail down to Jensen Beach with us after breakfast. We chose Jensen Beach mooring field to be near their condo on Hutchinson Island.
Dale and John have been so generous and patient with us during the following week. They drove us to all the stores we needed to provision and buy some boat parts. We even spent a couple of nights at their place where we witnessed a rocket launch from Cape Canaveral. Very cool! We also met some of their friends during a dinner that they hosted. Frank never tires of talking about our sailing journey. The Fort Pierce farmers' market was worth it. It is divided in 2 sections: food and all imaginable stuff (clothes, decorations, cosmetics, etc.). Now that we're in the noseeum land (tiny mostiquos), my legs have many bites. It looks like I'm wearing polka dots socks. So I found a natural bug repellent - it works! Dale and I went for a pedicure yesterday. I loved every moment spent with both of them.
It was a bit of a challenge going to shore for showers and then lifting the dinghie on the davits this morning with 2 foot waves, wind and rain. You should've seen me hanging on the davit ropes trying to land my feet on the transom with the dinghie bouncing below me. I really looked like a wet monkey, with a smile no less.
Frank has done some google searches and called Bell about getting internet data in the Caribbeans. We're not successful so far. Bell's offerings are either voice focused/little data or ridiculously expensive data or $15/day for 2 gigs. Where do you go with 2 gigs these days! Honestly!!! So at this time, again for data, we're not sure what final decision we'll make. Of course, Iridium Go is providing us with emails/texts and 150 minutes/month of calling. So family and emergency communication is covered already.
Remember in one of my blog I mentioned we were going to cross 9 bridges on that day? Well ... tomorrow we'll cross 19 of them! And they're all too low to pass through so we need to call ahead each other them for openings.
We're now near Palm Beach, heading down to Miami (another 2 days). From that point we'll leave the USA for Bahamas Bimini Islands (a day sail). So we should be in the Bahamas for Christmas.