Marigot Bay Resort and Marina, St. Lucia with Family

Vacationing in Marigot Bay

Allison, Michael, Riley and Tristan joined us in St. Lucia on February 12th and turned our lives upside down in the most pleasurable ways possible.  They arrived with a list of experiences and adventures they planned to have and no time to waste.

Marigot Bay Resort and Marina
 
Sadly, their flight was delayed and the pool was closed by the time we got to our temporary home at Marigot Bay Resort and Marina.

The pools figured heavily in everyone’s plans for keeping the children and adults happy.  They would have to wait for the morning.

Upper story pool, Marigot Bay Resort and Marina, St. Lucia
Yes indeed, the pool features a swim up bar / restaurant.  Many a refreshing
rum punch and chocolate milkshake was enjoyed here.
We rushed off to dinner at “Doolittles”, a casual, waterfront restaurant just a short ferry ride across the bay from the marina.  The flight delays resulted in our being late for our reservation, which, in turn, delayed our being seated and fed.  The very kind restaurant manager noted how fast Tristan was fading and did his utmost to to speed dinner up, but travel weary and past caring about eating, Allison took the ride back and put the kids to bed.  The rest of us joined her shortly afterward with her dinner and we enjoyed the balance of the evening in our cockpit.
Doolittle’s offers an informal setting with a varied menu that should satisfy most, a Happy Hour (for beer, wine, and select cocktails) that starts at 5:00pm and lasts until closing.

The Itinerary

Our white board quickly became filled with plans for each day.

Allison, Mike, Riley and Tristan had plans!!  We sketched out this itinerary to make sure we got to all of them.
Day 2 was slated for R&R out of respect for the preceding, arduous, day of travel.  We spent much of the day swimming, planning, and strolling through the resort.  The winding paths are bordered by well-maintained flowering shrubs, water features, and trees including mango, starfruit, coconuts.  

George gave Riley and Tristan a homework assignment to choose a bird and a plant and then find out their names.

Tristan took little time in choosing the ever present bananaquit as his bird.  We hear the bananaquit’s characteristic high pitched chirp constantly.  However, I find it difficult to pick them out despite the bright yellow plumage on their breasts.  I was surprised Tristan had spotted one so quickly.

Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola) – feeds on fruit and nectar
Tristan captured the Bananaquit’s distinguishing features very well in the drawing he made below.
Tristan’s drawing of a bananaquit – St. Lucia
Riley took a bit more time to settle on her choice of bird.  The two of us enjoyed a long walk during which we explored every inch of the resort.  We followed our friend Beverly’s advice and were rewarded with many glimpses of hummingbirds sipping nectar and sometimes even taking a rest.
Riley chose the Antillean Crested Hummingbird.
Antilean Crested Hummingbird (Orthorhyncus crostatas)
Mike captured this amazing photo of the beautiful Green Throated Carib Hummingbird (Eulampis holoseiceus)

For lunch we enjoyed grilled pastrami sandwiches courtesy of Mike and Allison who gifted us with a giant homemade pastrami they had cooked on their Egg.  The whole process of curing, smoking and cooking takes about 2 weeks.  It is so worth it!!  We plan to apprentice with them when we get back to the US – both are excellent cooks and the Egg figures heavily into their cooking repertoire.

We took the ferry over to the small beach near Doolittle’s and spent the afternoon swimming, shelling, and playing with Duhkxy.  This beach is shared by several resorts and has lounge chairs designated for guests of the Marigot Bay Resort / Marina.  You can peruse tabletop displays of shells and other memorabilia and there are a number of informal shops that sell souvenirs, beverages, and snacks.  For something more substantial, Doolitle’s is just a 2 minute walk away.

We had dinner back on the resort side of the ferry at Chateau Mygo.  Adults may have overindulged in rum punch, that in this establishment, certainly comes with a punch (they have a really nice passion fruit daiquiri, too).

Chateau Mygo with its fanciful decorations and great food
Chateau Mygo rum punch – be especially careful of Happy Hour when they are two for one.
BTW – Happy Hour is from 5:00 until closing!

It was time for early to bed as we would head out first thing in the morning for the market in Castries.

Market Day in Castries

The following day we were off to the market in Castries.  Fridays are reputed to be the best day for the market and early is always better as items in scarce quantities sell out quickly.

Castries is the Capital and largest city in the island nation of St. Lucia.  The market we have frequented in Castries is currently located in a temporary, makeshift, space.  A major undertaking to redesign and complete remodeling of the previous space is underway.  The following two views are renditions of what the new market will look like.  It will certainly be a magnet for the tourists disembarking from the cruise ships in the Castries harbor.

As described by Castries mayor Peterson D. Francis, the new market “will provide comfort and cater to all provisions market vendors in a uniformed and structured manner. No longer will the vendors require umbrellas or tents, as the entire provisions market facility will be covered.”

The other aspects of the Castries Market Redevelopment Project will include a state of the art food court, high-end air conditioned restaurants, a craft market, a box park, a viewing tower, an entertainment area, meat and fish depots, and duty-free shopping boutiques (per http://www.stluciabusinessonline.com/news/media-release-castries-market-redevelopment-underway/

Progress marches on and it does look lovely.  I just hope the provisions market vendors won’t be priced out of the space.

The current market that we visited had separate sections for fruit / vegetables and souvenirs / clothing / et al.  The produce vendors displayed virtually every edible plant in season.  As we observed in other Caribbean islands, as well as in Europe, produce was exclusively local.  People eat primarily in season here, although we do find imported produce like raspberries, apples, and pears in the larger supermarkets.

The season was right for a large assortment of produce.  We purchased, soursop, passion fruit, breadfruit, green onions, pumpkin, mangoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, ginger, lettuce, cashew apple, and eggplant, string beans, sweet bell peppers, and a bag of greens they call spinach (it is not spinach, but when cooked it tastes amazingly like spinach).  There are many types of root vegetables high in carbohydrates that I have never prepared myself.  They are generally referred to as “provision”, a staple in the Caribbean diet, but as long as breadfruit is available, I will be sticking with it as my “potato-like” vegetable.  Citrus is in season now and the grapefruit are delicious – they do have about 5 or 6 seeds per section.  I do sometimes feel we have sacrificed some qualities for the convenience of no seeds, or longer shelf-life…..

The previous week the market had a great deal of sorrel and basil.  There was none to be found this week.  Such is the way it goes.

Front to back – ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, limes.  The next table is full of mangoes.
Both the green and yellow banana-like fruit are different types of plantains.  There are bags of oranges and in the back there is root-provision, a bagged section of a Caribbean pumpkin, and finally cabbages.
Hands of plantains still attached to the stem


 

Tristan had a wish list of things he wanted to do in St. Lucia.  One was to drink from a coconut. He got his chance at the Castries market.  His Dad (below) shows him how!

Tristan did some shopping at the market and got both the snazzy outfit he is wearing below AND a sword.  Don’t know what his Mom and Dad were thinking.

That’s all for now – Lots more on our family visit in Blogs to come

The Thin Blue Line

An Unlikely Event

The heroines of this story
While docked in St George’s Marina, Grenada, two smart and clear-sighted young Swedish girls approached Ice Floe.  My first thought was they wanted to pet Duhkxy as this is a request we field many times each day.  As you know, he is the cutest dog on earth.  Settle down all you people with wonderful dogs you believe hold that title – we have objective evidence for this claim.
At last count, the number of adoring Grenadians who have testified that Duhkxy is the cutest dog in the world exceeds the tally of lies told by our incumbent president
But I digress, as Duhkxy plays no part in this story.
 
The younger of the two heroines in this story said “Do you know….” and pointed up to the sky.  I thought perhaps some interesting water birds were perching somewhere on the mast.  After taking a look, I was at a loss as to what they were trying to bring to our attention.  The older heroine chimed in that there was string – just as George spotted the thin blue line(s) of string that were attached to the top our mast.  It appeared that two lines of this string originated from the top of the mast of a catamaran on the opposite side of the dock from Ice Floe and then became tangled around the top of our mast.  
From our mast, these strings continued on all the way to the next dock.  Luckily they had not ensnared anything else. With the help of a gentleman on this dock, and another sailor with a dinghy in the water, this string was quickly retrieved and secured on Ice Floe.  We thanked the girls and others who had assisted us and retired for the evening, happy to know the instruments on the top of the mast were safe for the time being.
The string was thin, but made of nylon and extremely strong.  Any two boats attached to it would be in for a nasty surprise if one attempted to move away.
George on his way up the mast to untangle this thin blue line
An enlargement of the previous photo in case your eyesight is not quite as good as our two Swedish angels
George found the string to be extensively tangled around the wind instrument and it
took quite some time to  extricate it from this spiderweb. 

George was assisted in untangling the line by intermittent squalls of heavy rain and gusts of 20+ knots of wind.  This, in the protected marina.  The squalls and swell had kept us docked there for several more days than we had intended – turns out, that was fortunate indeed.  Unfortunately, one end of the thin blue line got loose and tied itself around still another mast, port side to the catamaran.  We alerted them to the problem, fortunately in time as they were leaving the following day.  The captain of this sailboat thanked us several times, remarking what a costly and inconvenient outcome would have resulted if he had not known.

The string was still tangled throughout the catamaran’s rigging.  This boat’s occupants had left a few days prior and would not be back for several months.  We left a note on their boat and alerted the marina staff.

A Happy Ending

We could not thank our heroines enough, but did our best over enormous portions of ice cream.  They turned a most certain disaster into a fun memory.

Petite Martinique

Grenada’s tiny island

Petite Martinique is the smallest of the three islands that constitute Grenada (Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique).  It has no affiliation with Martinique other than having been first inhabited by an individual originally from Martinique, who gave it its name.  This small island is a total of 486 acres and has one main road. It is unique, in more than its diminutive size.
As we approached our anchorage for Petite Martinique, beautifully maintained, brightly colored, professional fishing vessels filled the harbor.  There were no sailboats.  A few joined us over the days we spent there, but the island is decidedly not a cruiser’s destination.  The Grenadine islands affiliated with St. Vincent are very close by and highly preferred by cruisers.  Sadly, St. Vincent requires a several month quarantine for any visiting dogs.  We and Duhkxy will not be visiting anytime soon.

Fishing and boat building constitute the most significant industries in Petite Martinique and by our observations, the island appears to be thriving.

Petite Martinique is home to approximately 1000 human inhabitants, and notably, a large population of goats.

Homes are beautifully maintained and often landscaped, as well.

This inviting building, affiliated with the home shown above, is a bar, unfortunately not open when we passed by.

Educational facilities include pre-primary and one Roman Catholic secondary school.  Otherwise, children take a boat to school in the neighboring island, Carriacou.

A small strip of beach was home to a number of water birds, but unlike many of the islands we have visited, did not appear to be used by locals for socializing or bathing.  It was poorly maintained with respect to rubbish and litter affording a poor introduction to this otherwise charming island.

We walked the length of the island along its main road were rewarded with welcoming smiles and lovely views.

We were surprised to see the dogs in Petite Martinique to be both small, and diverse in breed.  On other islands we have visited, the dogs are often mid-size and uniformly handsome mutts.

Graveyards in Petite Martinique, as well as other nearby islands we have visited, are small, informal, and interspersed with other private properties.

Petite Martinique was lovely to visit and interesting in its many unexpected differences relative to its sister islands.

From Petite Martinique we have headed back to the main island of Grenada to see what we can see, see, see.

Caribbean Cooking Class at Patrick’s, St. George’s, Grenada

How do you cook these strange Caribbean vegetables?

A great way to begin introducing yourself to edible Caribbean plants is to sample each wonderful fruit in season.  You still may need to make inquiries about what constitutes “ripe” and what part of the fruit is edible, but for this you need only inquire of the vendor.  You taste it in all its glory and you either like it or not.  We have been living on bananas, guavas, mangoes, jackfruit, sour sop, passion fruit, papaya, paw paw, starfruit, citrus, et al.  We have fresh fruit with nearly every meal and we enjoy rum smoothies with fruit we freeze in season.

But what of the many “strange” vegetables?  Cook them wrong and you may conclude that they are terrible and you will never try them again.  A case in point – at my dining table as a child, there was a rule that we would eat what was put in front of us until our plates were empty.  My siblings and I remember a single big exception.  At one dinner, for the first time, my mother prepared okra.  We had all had okra in Campbell’s gumbo soup and liked those little wagon wheels.  As dinner began, our father tried his first mouthful of okra and immediately conceded that no one needed to eat it.  From that day forward, okra was only ingested by members of my family in a gumbo.

Patrick’s Restaurant

We have had some success preparing several new vegetables after we have enjoyed them in a restaurant, but this has hardly made a dent in those we have seen.  Most recently, we enjoyed a sampling of 20 to 30 (we lost count) small portions of a wide variety of vegetable and meat preparations at Patrick’s Restaurant in St. George’s, Grenada.  After finishing our last course, we commented to our server, Milton, that we needed to take some cooking lessons.  Much to our surprise, he said, “We can arrange that.”

Photo from Patrick’s website http://patrickslocalgrenada.wix.com/eat#!
Photo from Patrick’s website http://patrickslocalgrenada.wix.com/eat#!
  
The following day, we set up a 2 hour lesson.
Karen, a longstanding friend of Patrick’s, who now owns the restaurant, greeted us when we arrived.  I had a great cup of coffee while we waited for our lessons to begin.  Our teachers were Sandra and Lisa. 
Sandra
Lisa
Karen speaking with patrons on a local cuisine tasting tour
We would prepare a green banana salad, pumpkin, christophine (aka chayote) in a cheese sauce, and okra and tomatoes.  I thought “okra?” remembering my childhood experience, but with little concern as we had eaten it in the restaurant and it was delicious.  I asked Lisa and Sandra why the okra my mother prepared was so horribly slimy.  We learned that it must be cooked in the barest minimum of water (or battered and fried) to prevent this.  In addition, Sandra and Lisa answered questions about other vegetables and offered additional seasonings we should consider.

The preparation space was limited and we could only imagine what a challenge this would be when the restaurant was full.  Sandra and Lisa laughed and admitted it could get pretty chaotic.  They have two huge, many burner, stoves, but each dish we prepared was cooked in one pot.  This type of cooking is ideally suited to cooking on an average-sized sailing vessel.

All four dishes were cooked from scratch in not much more than an hour – just in time for lunch.  Included in the modest cost of our lesson ($25 US) were all the ingredients AND the four dishes we prepared.  We were also sent on our way with a bunch of green bananas to practice what we learned.

Left to right:  green banana salad, okra and tomatoes, christophine in a creamy cheese sauce, and pumpkin
We greatly enjoyed our time at Patrick’s having a wonderful dinner, taking cooking lessons, and meeting Milton, Karen, Sandra, and Lisa.  There will be a much greater variety of traditional Caribbean vegetables, prepared efficiently in our tiny boat kitchen, going forward.

Sandy Island, Carriacou, Grenada

New Year’s

We celebrated the coming of the New Year anchored off Sandy Island, a small uninhabited island with extraordinary beauty.  This island is east of Carriacou, one of the several islands that are part of Grenada.  Some time ago, vegetation on Sandy Island was killed by seawater.  Were it not for a hurricane (uncommon in Grenada) that threw coral up on the sand strip, the island would likely have vanished.  Locals planted trees and undergrowth that, in combination with the more substantial coral base, stabilized this idyllic island surrounded by healthy coral reefs.
Sandy Island (center) off coast of Paradise Beach (right), one of the most beautiful beaches on Carriacou.

While we were snorkeling, a pelican feeding frenzy started up devouring some of the enormous schools of small fish on the reef. The pelicans are quieted down here, with full bellies.

We have seen more pelicans in Grenada than any of the other islands we have visited
West end of Sandy Island – where we snorkeled
This island is part of a marine preserve (Sandy Island / Oyster Bay Marine Protected Area – SIOBMPA).  The waters are clear and shallow – a perfect snorkeling spot.  We spent many hours on the reef and the photos below are just a small sample of the beauty and diversity of fish, invertebrates, and vegetation there.

Duhkxy sits in George’s lap on most dinghy rides, but does get adventuresome at times.  When close to shore he will sometimes launch himself into the water unless we remember to tell him to stay.  He likes parading around the sides of the dinghy, but is quick to get back in George’s lap if he slips.

Best of all, he has learned to sit patiently in the dinghy when we snorkel.  Sometimes he needs one or two reminders.

We had a delicious New Year’s Eve dinner at Paradise Beach Club on Carriacou.  This restaurant offers water rides from and to your boat (and you don’t need to jump off the dinghy in waist deep water).  I had ribs and George had tuna.  Both came with salad, potatoes, sweet plantains and caribbean rice;  all very delicious.
Paradise Beach Club, Carriacou
We are currently anchored off a pretty fishing village on Petite Martinique.  George just finished the laundry and I just finished the dishes from our decadent lunch of lobster and salad.
Ahhh  Fresh Sheets
Need a bigger pot

We are hopping in the dinghy to take Duhkxy to shore – boy does he love the beach.
Happy New Year to all!!

La Sagesse, St. David’s, Grenada

Back to Sailing the Caribbean

La Sagesse

Ice Floe spent the summer and fall months (hurricane season) at Grenada Marine (St. David’s, Grenada) “On the Hard” (a boating expression for on land).  When we arrived on December 5th, we taxied to La Sagesse, a beautiful waterfront hotel just a few miles from the marina.  We stayed there a few days last May after Ice Floe was put on the hard and have fallen in love with the setting, the food, and the staff.  The hotel offers a big discount through Grenada Marine and free rides to and from the marina.

It is not uncommon for boaters to live aboard their boats when they are on the hard, but it is miserable.  Your boat will be hot and you will need to contend with biting insects.  If you have just arrived, you will probably have the interior in complete disarray as you have stuffed your sails, cockpit cushions, and lots of other stuff in the cabin.  You will need to climb a ladder to get in and out.  You won’t have running water.  The outside of the boat will be filthy.

La Sagesse means the wisdom, and I think it is apropos for those who choose wisely not to stay in their boat on the hard unless necessary.  Those of you who know us are thinking “You guys lived in an 8′ by 12′ camper with two children and a dog…..”  For those who don’t know us (and perhaps do live on boats while on the hard) you may be thinking “What snobs…..”  I accept these contradictions and criticisms and sure am glad we can stay at La Sagesse.

Our room was in the one story part of the hotel where each room has an outside covered porch with a beautiful view of La Sagesse Bay.  The constant rhythm of waves rolling ashore and the chirping of tree frogs in the evening completes the perfect atmosphere for much-needed rest and sleep after a hard day’s work readying Ice Floe for the beginning or ending of our sailing season.

Ocean 2, our Oasis before Ice Floe was ready to “splash”
The view from our room of La Sagesse Bay

La Sagesse also has accommodations in a pretty multi-story building.

The grounds are nicely landscaped and orchids were blooming on many trees.  Perhaps best of all, Duhkxy, was welcomed everywhere, including the dining room where the resident dog. “Queeny” politely visited every table.

Circumnavigating Martinique

Exploring Martinique with Michael

Michael’s dinner contribution – a batwing coral crab
Michael flew into Hewanorra airport in St. Lucia and would be with us for 8 days (excluding travel days).  Staying in St Lucia was not an option as Duhkxy’s application to visit the island was denied.  Martinique is less than a day’s sail away from St. Lucia so we planned to spend our time with Michael there.  Hewanorra airport is on the southern end of St. Lucia and Ice Floe was moored in Marigot Bay, near the north end of the island.  To conserve Michael’s vacation days I took a cab to meet him.
Most islands in the Caribbean have few, if any, protected anchorages on their eastern (Atlantic) side and the swell and winds on the Atlantic can make for very rough sailing.  Martinique’s Atlantic coastline, in contrast, is protected by an extensive, shallow, reef and we were armed with information contributed by sailingbreeze.com on “Active Captain” of several anchorages.  “Active Captain”, an invaluable, crowd-sourced descriptions from boaters of anchorages, marinas, and hazards.  We were eager to snorkel the reefs and the ability to circumnavigate Martinique was ideal.

We decided to sail the eastern shore from south to north (new territory for us) and the western shore back (second time for us) and across to St. Lucia in time for Michael to fly home.  We concluded this was the best plan for all.  An approximation of our sailing route is shown below.
Sailing path and anchorages
Michael arrived in St. Lucia on April 26th and we were off to Martinique early the next morning.  Michael typically gets up around 4:30 am for work.  Just as I was making headway getting George to sleep in, the two of them began starting the day around 6:00 am.  I slept in as a silent protest.

We arrived in Martinique around 1:30 pm and anchored in St. Anne.

St. Anne Anchorage (Martinique)

After checking in we headed straight to a small beach.  The moment Duhkxy’s feet hit the sand, Michael got his first look at what a maniac Duhkxy becomes on a beach.

Michael grabbed a picture of Duhkxy on the beach – faster than a speeding bullet
Wet and sandy – just the way he likes it
The next day we began our circumnavigation of Martinique.  The wind was down and we had a strong tide against us so we were motor sailing around the southern tip of Martinique when I caught a mahi mahi.  We fish with unattended hand lines so we don’t often see a fish hit the line.  Much to my delight, the fish struck the very instant my line was out and the mahi flew straight out of the water.  When I announced I caught a mahi, George thought I was joking.

Michael only looks tipsy – honest!!

Eastern Coast of Martinique

After landing the mahi we continued, now sailing, up the east coast en route to Port Vauclin, the first of the east coast anchorages described by sailingbreeze on Active Captain.

This anchorage is a wide open, increasingly shallow bay leading to a grassy sandbar.  These shallow waters were a playground for wind surfers and people bathing in the warm waters.  At a point where the water is only inches deep, we found sandy depressions with deeper water.  We followed the lead of others and immersed ourselves in these very warm pools while Duhkxy raced and jumped in the shallows.

In the photo below, you can see a barrier below the kite on the right.  This appeared to have been constructed to keep sargassum off the beach.  We understand that the sargassum on the Atlantic coasts had been especially problematic.  So much so that in some places, unhealthy hydrogen sulfide fumes were emanating from its decomposition.  The beach near this anchorage had enormous mounds of the seaweed that was being loaded into trucks and taken away.

Port Vauclin anchorage
Port Vauclin
From our anchorage in Port Vauclin
That evening, Michael did his best to reproduce his awesome blackening seasoning with spices we have on board (quite nice).  We had fish tacos and smoked the balance to savor it over the next couple of days.

Islands and rafts of sargassum are a recent problem in the Caribbean.
They make fishing very challenging and are fouling beaches
We spent the next couple of days sailing and snorkeling inside the reef and anchoring in Baie du Francois, and Baie du Tresor along the way.  The reef appeared to to be in a recovery phase with lots of new small coral heads getting started.  A fair amount of coral skeleton was covered with healthy plant and sponges which was a distinct improvement over the remnants of bleached coral.  There was certainly enough living coral, fish and invertebrates to encourage us and we hope to do more snorkeling there when we have enough time.  Michael spotted a batwing crab tucked in under a sandy shelf in ~ 6 feet of water and George was able to capture it with his lobster lasso and gloves.  The batwing crab in commonly found in this kind of shallow water

With our keel up we draw a little more than 3 feet but suggest a boat with a more typical draft would find enough water through this stretch, as well.

Michael demonstrating his romantic prowess
Baie du Francois
Small marina in Baie du Francois
Baie du Francois
Farmland bordering Baie du Francois
Baie du Francois
Baie du Francois
Loup-Garou, a beautiful, uninhabited, protected island just outside of Baie du Francois
Our sail beyond Baie du Tresor, now outside of the protective reef, was boisterous with winds up to 20 knots and swells of 10+ feet.  We can attest to the fact that Michael is a salty sailor.  He had no difficulty reading or going below despite the rollicking conditions.

Michael snaps a photo off the stern to capture the heeling of Ice Floe as we sailed around the northern tip of Martinique

As we sailed around the northern tip of Martinique, we paused to snorkel a reef in Anse Couleuvre, described as a top snorkeling spot in the “Snorkeling report” http://www.snorkeling-report.com/spot/snorkeling-anse-couleuvre-martinique/.

According to the description, snorkeling this reef was not advisable on a rough day.  It was blustery but there were no significant waves near two large rocks projecting out of the water that we believed marked the edge of the reef.  Michael and I headed out right off the sailboat as George was uncertain where he could anchor.  The current was strong against us and made just getting to the rocks exhausting.  In addition, Michael had very small flippers, great for fitting in a carry-on bag;  not so great for propelling oneself forward.

All in all, it was an ill-fated snorkel.  When we re-examined the maps of the bay we realized we had snorkeled off a small beach just south of the one recommended.  The reef was much closer to shore and was not contiguous with the large rocks we snorkeled on.  None-the-less, I offer a couple of photos of our very brief snorkel by the big rocks.  I am quite proud of my turtle photo.

Beyond the challenging sailing conditions and our strenuous snorkel, the day continued to challenge us.  Our gennaker sheet got caught in our propeller when George started the engine to avoid some poorly-marked fishing traps.  As noted previously, most were identified by no more than a soda bottle.  All’s well that ends well – we avoided the traps and George shut the engine down before the sheet was impossibly tangled around the prop and/or damage was done.

The West Coast of Martinique

We continued on around the north end of Martinique and down the western shore and anchored in the harbor of St. Pierre.  St. Pierre is a village of approximately 15 square miles and a population of 4000.  Since the establishment of the town, it has suffered two catastrophic natural disasters:  a hurricane in 1780 with an 8 meter storm surge killing 9000, and the eruption of Mount Pelée in 1902 that killed everyone in the village (~28,000) save for two individuals.

Approaching St. Pierre
St. Pierre, Martinique, with Mount Pelée in background (reproduced from Wikipedia.org, ib:user:Zenneke)

It had been an exhausting, 12 hour day (so far) and Michael was of a mind to treat us to dinner.  We took the dinghy in to find a nice restaurant for dinner and chill.  The selection of open restaurants was quite slim.  We chose one we had eaten in previously, but Duhkxy was turned away.  We remembered afterward that previously we snuck him into the restaurant in his airplane carrier..

It was a pleasant, relaxing, dinner off a short menu.  Michael was decidedly unimpressed, but we have grown accustomed to the local offerings, and every dinner out is a wonderful treat.

Immediately, as you step off St. Pierre’s dingy dock, is a lovely public square lined with trees. When we visited, these trees were inhabited by a large flock of bright yellow and black orioles who were building nests.  Many dozens of nests were completed or under construction.

As this beautiful oriole begins constructing a new nest, note the proximity of nests to right and left.
These birds characteristically nest in communities like these with nests almost close enough to touch.
Farmland just beyond the town of St. Pierre
We set off the following morning heading for Anse D’Arlet, one of the loveliest towns we have encountered in our travels, thus far, in the Caribbean.  We snorkeled the north shore of the harbor;  one of the best snorkeling we did with Michael.

We visited the town and looked for a restaurant for dinner.  None, we encountered, looked particularly promising from their exterior.  Michael approached one, L’oasis, and took a peak inside and was pleasantly surprised.  He suggested we check out the menu board which offered a wide selection of entrees et al.  From the least inviting exterior, he had found an absolutely charming restaurant with outstanding food.

L’oasis, a 4.4 star restaurant in Anse D’Arlet (Trip Advisor) – don’t judge it by its exterior!!!
Magret du Canard (Duck Breast) – Michael and George both had duck
I had St. Jacques (scallop) risotto
 Ah… Desert
Happy and full, if a bit fuzzy
Approaching Anse D’Arlet

Michael’s last two days with us were spent sailing from Anse D’Arlet to Le Marin, and then back to Marigo Bay in St. Lucia.  We hope he enjoyed his visit with us as much as we enjoyed having him share our new “Way of Life” (Michael’s description).

A portion of artwork on building in Le Marin

Martinique to Marigo Bay Marina, St. Lucia

Michael joins us in St. Lucia

We sailed from St. Anne, Martinique to St. Lucia on April 23rd to meet Michael.  George left at the crazy early time of 6:30 am, always mindful of the need to arrive in time to check in.  We had a beautiful sail in 14 knot winds on a beam reach.
As we made the crossing to St Lucia, a pilot whale came right alongside the boat.  What a thrill to see such a massive creature feet from the cockpit on the starboard side of Ice Floe.  We learned that pilot whales, actually a type of dolphin, swim alongside boats just as we have had other dolphins play in the boat’s bow wave.  The pilot whale is distinguished from the more typical bottlenose dolphins both in its size and the shape of its head.
The best shot I could get of the pilot whale that visited us
750 pound short fin pilot whale – photo borrowed from awesomeoean.com
Common Caribbean bottlenose dolphins – photo borrowed from wallpaperweb.org
We arrived to Marigot Bay in St. Lucia early in the afternoon.  As you enter the bay, the hilltops are festooned with colorful villas/homes/rentals.
Looking down on the bay in this photo borrowed from the Marigot Bay Marina and Resort, it is easy to see why this bay is popular as a hurricane hole.  The beautiful sand beach peninsula leaves only a small opening to the outer harbor.  An interesting fact is that French ships are known to have hidden from English ships behind the sand beach having tied palm fronds to their masts as camouflage.
Aerial view of Marigot Bay Marina and Resort reproduced from the resort’s website
Further out, beyond the sand beach on the left the Marigot Beach Club is situated.  The beach club offers day passes and longer rental accommodations, sets up outings such as kayaking, snorkeling, diving, et al.  A beach-bar restaurant named DOOlittles offers local fare and a boat shuttles between the Marigot Beach Club and the Marigot Bay Marina and Resort, as well as many additional restaurants.  A wedding was held at the Marigot Beach Club while we were visiting.
Marigot Beach Club
Marigot Beach Club
As you begin to enter Marigot Bay Marina, this duo of pale blue and white buildings house the administrative offices, marina showers, the Hurricane Hole restaurant, a bank, and some living quarters.  The two buildings are separated by a large courtyard with seating for the restaurant.  On our first evening in the marina, George and I had dinner at the Hurricane Hole that was offering a buffet of traditional Caribbean dishes and a show featuring a very talented tenor saxophone player alternating with performances of a traditional dance troupe featuring fire, fire swallowing, and fire breathing.
Marigot Bay Marina and Resort administrative offices, the Hurricane Hole Restaurant, et al.
We spent most of the two days before Michael’s arrival on boat chores.  However, we did allow ourselves occasions to take in the beauty and features of the Marigot Bay Marina and Resort.
Unfortunately, our application for Duhkxy to visit St. Lucia had not yet been approved so he could not leave the boat.  We took this opportunity to further our efforts to make Duhkxy at ease when we had to leave him alone.  Duhkxy made great strides in adjusting to our absence, remaining mostly calm, and assuming a lookout for us on the cockpit combing until our return.
Duhkxy escaped no ones attention as he stood vigil waiting for our return.
I took a 45 minute cab ride to the Hewanorra Airport to meet Michael – another great opportunity to see more of the island during this ride from the northwest side of St. Lucia to the southeast.  We passed through banana plantations, across mountains and through the island’s rainforest.  Our driver Moses was kind enough to stop at an overlook of a beautiful fishing village and at one of the many fruit and vegetable stands so I could replenish our stores.  The homes and villages we saw were colorful and well maintained.  We will certainly visit again for a longer time once Duhkxy’s permit is approved (spoiler alert:  it was ultimately not approved this year as Duhkxy was not old enough to have some of the required tests done).
After an interminable wait at the airport, Michael finally showed up with a customs agent beside him.  He quickly said “OK, they won’t let me in because of the incident in Grenada”.  Before I could respond, he countered with “Nah, they just need to know where I am staying.”  This is an odd question when you are staying on a boat and that is not a sufficient answer.  They must have a non-moving place.  The answer of the Marigot Bay Resort and Marina was sufficient to get us on our way, understanding we would be moving on from there.
Michael and Duhkxy quickly became the best of friends.
Although neither Michael nor George and I were able to enjoy the Marigot Bay Resort fully, save a couple of dips in the pool and a fabulous Indian dinner at Masala, the following pictures will give you a sense of why we aim to return next year.
In my next post, I will tell you all about Michael’s visit and our circumnavigation of Martinique. 
The Marigot Bay Marina and Resort is renowned for its beauty and accoutrements.  Accommodations include 915 square foot Junior suites starting at $390 per night in the off season and go up from there. HOWEVER, a slip on the dock ran us ~$40 per night and came with full access to the resort facilities, pools, spa, gardens and restaurants.  What a deal!  It reminded us of our great fortune staying in a marina in the heart of Paris for only 40 euro a night.  We wish all marinas were so reasonable.
The resort has two large swimming pools, one with a swim up bar – by far the most popular.

Additional water features are integrated into the grounds of the resort.

Koi pond
I luxuriated in the sitting area above this gorgeous dinghy doc writing my last post.
The winding paths through the resort are bordered by beautifully designed and maintained gardens and buildings.
Check out this pineapple.  Marilla and Mitch – how is yours doing?
Mangos – George and I have consumed a hundred each.

Deshaies Botanical Garden, Guadeloupe

Jardin Botanique Deshaies

The Deshaies Botanical Garden sits high up on a hillside overlooking Deshaies.  We read that a free ride can be arranged to and from the garden, however when I phoned ahead to inquire about a ride and whether Duhkxy would be admitted, we were told no dogs were allowed and asked if we were looking for a taxi.  Our conversation was compromised due to our mutual shortcomings in speaking each other’s language, so we decided to walk and took along Duhkxy’s airplane carrier.
It was a steep climb to the garden, but afforded a welcome opportunity to see more of Deshaies beyond its waterfront.  In one yard, two fishing traps helped answer our questions of what was tethered below the many small floats we dodged in waters 50 to 100 feet in depth.  The floats marking underwater traps are often no more than a soda bottle – despite our best efforts we have lost two planers and several lures when trolling – always a heartbreak for their value and our unintentional contribution to the many man-made hazards to sea life in our oceans.  We hope they are retrieved by the fishermen and find their way to useful use or proper disposal.
  
Local type of fishing trap
Lovely homes on road to Deshaies Botanical Gardens
Deshaies from overlook on road leading to the Botanical Gardens (Forefront, village homes and businesses;  On hillside, beyond the town, a cemetery)
The Deshaies Botanical Garden was opened to the public in 2001.  The extraordinary beauty of the botanical garden designed by Michel Gaillard, is complemented by an infrastructure of mature indigenous and exotic trees established much earlier by previous owners of the land, Guy Blandin (until 1979), Michael Calucci (until 1986).
Upon arrival, we were told Duhkxy could not enter the botanical garden, but could remain on leash in the reception area.  We were uncertain that this would be possible as Duhkxy had routinely responded with ear-shattering and relentless yips, and hysteria whenever either George or I moved beyond 10 feet of him.  Much to our surprise, he remained calm as we handed him over to the woman at the reception area and remained so.  We found him fast asleep when we finished our tour.
The gardens include winding paths of beautiful flower beds, water gardens, tropical birds, trees, frogs, lizards and bees….  Ending this post with pictures worth many, many, thousands of words.
Manmade waterfall above pond full of pink flamingos

Loriquet a Tête Bleue
Hummingbird of unknown species

A Hike up the Deshaies River in Guadaloupe

A bit of fun on the Deshaies River in Guadeloupe

The Deshaies River hike is described in Doyle’s Cruising Guide as a “one to two hour”…, “cool and shady scramble”… ”  The trail was said to end about 20 minutes after a road intersects the trail on the left at “a giant cave-like gully, with a waterfall at the back of it”.  It is noteworthy that he acknowledges that “Several readers have complained that this hike is difficult” although at the same time he challenges this assessment with a comment “on the other hand, a five year old hiked here for two hours without any problem”.

Let me start by concluding that we enjoyed the hike very much.  It was indeed shady, and we scrambled up and down many, many, many boulders, but we were decidedly not “cool”.  I venture we sweat a half gallon each.  There is considerable overall elevation to the hike as the river flows from the top of a small mountain (large hill just doesn’t quite describe it).  We found it to be a very strenuous hike and Duhkxy agreed!!!

Bring lots of water, shoes that can get wet, strong legs, and some degree of balance (I am decidedly not strong in that regard and managed the trail without falling – YAY!).

The trees and plants were beautiful and often distinctly adapted to their environment. 

We were surprised to see palm trees growing in this dense forest – having associated them in our minds as the lovely trees lining beautiful salt water beaches.

Coconut palms getting their starts in unlikely places
Massive exposed root base of palm forging its way through the rocks to the water and nutrients it requires.  On left, a massive white lichen.
Reaching heights we have rarely seen

We were three hours into the hike and we saw no sign of any road connecting with the trail on the left or right side.  This was cause for dismay as our plan had been to take the road back.  It would be long past dark if we needed to follow the trail back.  We forged on for a considerable while.

We encountered some very large ants industriously carrying loads much larger than themselves.

But, we did not find an intersecting road.  The following two pics are of the most beautiful river scum I have ever seen.

We marveled at the unusual way some trees grow in the tropics.  We hypothesized their growth habits evolved in a world that never saw a freeze or snow.  When encountering an obstacle, a limb may snake around it.  It is sometimes hard to distinguish a limb from a root.  Trees thrive growing on top of rocks or with three quarters of their roots undermined.

This tree above, and the one below, are part of the same living tree.

We found a large ceiba tree a little way into the forest on the left side of the river.  These trees grow to enormous sizes and have the most amazing roots that extend 10 or more feet beyond the tree.

George holds up Duhkxy so you have a reference for how big this ceiba tree is
George takes a rare photo of me in which you can actually see my smile
Well beyond the sight of the ceiba tree, its root continues to scrawl

Moist forests in the Caribbean have many “air” plants that grow on other plants and rocks.  The one below was common on the trail.

Plants grow attached to trees and atop rocks
Seedlings of “air” plants just getting a start

Exhausted, going on four hours, with no sight of road or waterfall, we turn back.  We look for two concrete blocks that may be steps leading to something George remembered seeing that might have been a house in the woods.  Beside the steps was an old sign with “Interdict” barely discernible (equivalent to no trespassing).  Upon finding it, we clawed our way up a steep bank hearing what sounded to us like religious chanting.  The grounds and buildings appeared to belong to a religious group.  There were several areas with stations of the cross represented and there was evidence of vegetable gardens and animal pens.  A woman who had just driven up kindly showed us how to get to the road and we wearily headed for a beer in town.

This fun story cannot end without my sharing information we found on this trail (after we survived it).  Accounts from a number of sailing bloggers indicate that, indeed, there is a road and a lovely waterfall at the end of the trail.  I think Duhkxy was just slowing us down.

Our favorite was from http://www.gowitheflow.co.uk/2017-2/guadeloupe-nov-17/deshaies-river-walk/

Michael (Uncle and brother) is joining us in two days!