Monthly Archives: May 2016

Martinique ~ the Eastern Side

Announcers Voice: “Previously on s/v Let It Be….”

Seriously, it has been a while since our last blog because we have not had sufficient internet to publish, so as a reminder, our last post was about Guadeloupe.

Due to wind directions we chose to sail from Guadeloupe along the eastern side of Dominica to Martinique. Although we didn’t have a guide book that covered the eastern side of Martinique, we wanted to take a look and see if there were some decent kite boarding spots. I know; color you shocked!

With all charts up and running, we decided to enter Le Robert, a huge bay near the middle of the eastern side of Martinique.

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A view of Le Robert from the top of the mast.

Watching our depth closely since there were no markers and the depth changes significantly, we scouted out an isolated spot and dropped anchor.  There were no other boats, but the area was pretty and we thought we would take a look around.

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Captain was in favor of stopping right here!

Well it turns our, we had anchored near a popular, protected island.

I have tried to do a bit of research about the area because reading the French signs didn’t go well this time.  From the bit I have been able to translate, it appears we anchored near a fairly famous French area called Ilet Chancel. 

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After we anchored, several day boats, inflatable boats and kayakers arrived.

Ilet Chancel is the largest and northern most ilet in Le Robert. It is a popular stop for folks touring on day boats because it has the remains of an old sugar processing area.  The site has not been restored, but there are many partial walls, former kilns and supposedly a dungeon. Since the site is not well marked or restored and all information is in French, we allowed our imaginations to fill in the blanks.

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Perhaps an old kiln or oven?

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Not sure what this was, but of course we walked up the steps.

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Nature reclaiming a wall

So many people mentioned the iguana!  Apparently the Delicatissima Iguana is endangered and this little island is a perfect environment for them.  The other visitors were very quick to point them out. So many pictures were being snapped of the iguana that I thought we were all paparazzi!

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Looks like the one from Petite Terre

I am not a herpetologist, so I couldn’t spot why this iguana was special, but we took the obligatory picture!

While anchored by Ilet Chancel, we were able to help some locals who had some trouble with their inflatable RIB. We enjoyed chatting with Olivier Melissa and their daughter Anna. More about them later!

After enjoying the quiet of Ilet Chancel for a few days, and completing a couple of items on our project list (new lazy Jacks for the sail bag, changing out our main halyard, etc.) we motored just across Le Robert to Ilet Madame. This small island is another French marine park where locals enjoy spending the day hanging in the shallow water and picnicking on the shore.

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Sunset behind Ilet Madame

We anchored behind a coral reef between Ilet Madame and the Pointe de la Rose. This shallow area provided nice wave protection but allowed plenty of breeze.  These were ideal kite boarding conditions and Frank and I took turns enjoying the beautiful wind and water.

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Nice air, Frankly!

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My turn: no air.

Although Frank was at the ready in the dinghy, I was able to kite without support both days.  I cannot say I am willing to kite without help available, but I see improvement and I am having more fun with the sport.  It isn’t tennis, but it is a lot of fun!

Remember Olivier, Melissa and Anna Egloff?   Well they agreed to go sailing with us and joined us on our sail from Le Robert down around the southern point of Martinique and into St. Anne.  It was great fun spending the day with this delightful family.

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Anna is a doll and can I just say, wow, girls are a little different than boys! Anna happily entertained herself with her stuffed animals and was happy to stay in one place instead of climbing all over any obstacle she could find.  At first I wondered if she didn’t feel well, but nope, this little doll was perfectly fine, but also happy just to play quietly in one spot.

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Olivier has plenty of sailing experience and helmed most of the trip.

The Egloffs, originally from France, now live in Martinique. We learned a lot from them including that the world surfing tour has now had a stop in Martinique for two years in a row.  Olivier shared some amazing photographs he took at the event.  He is an excellent photographer and you should check out his photos

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photo by Olivier Egloff.

We completely enjoyed our day with Olivier, Melissa and Anna and are so glad they were willing to share their time with us.

The next day, Frank and I moved the boat to La Marin.  As luck would have it, some friends we met in Union Island, Grenadines, had some business to conduct in La Marin so we were able to get together.  Turns our Greg and Lynda Jo are looking for a boat and Greg was in La Marin checking out a few boats on their “possible” list.

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Future home for Greg and Lynda Jo?

When Greg told us he was pretty serious about one boat called, “Aquatauris” we had to take a look too!  She is a beauty, at least from the outside, and Greg tells us the interior is even better.

Greg joined us for dinner on LIB and we spent the evening discussing pros and cons of various sailboats.  The evening could only have been better if Lynda Jo had been with us.  Hopefully by the time this is published, Greg and Lynda Jo will be owners of their future sailing home!

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Tunnel anyone?

Our last full day in La Marin, we rented a car and toured Martinique.  It was a national holiday so nothing was open, but we still enjoyed seeing this beautiful island.  The variety of the terrane is fabulous and makes a driving tour constantly interesting. Here are a few views from the car.

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My favorite little town was Morne Rouge. It is a pretty town with a fabulous view, lush vegetation and a beautiful old catholic church named  Notre-Dame of the Délivrance.

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Main street Morne Rouge

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Notre-Dame of the Délivrance

Notre-Dame was first completed in 1867. In 1891 a cyclone severely damaged the church but it was quickly restored. Mount Pelee erupted in 1902 and again in 1929. Both times the church suffered damage but remained standing.  Interestingly, a statue of the Virgin Mary which was sculpted in 1953 still stands in the church, unharmed.

Notre-Dame of the Délivrance is a popular  pilgrimage spot for inhabitants of Martinique.

And my final photo for today is just to make you smile.  BTW, I did stop in. I wanted to get a diet coke with extra ice, just to have the ice!

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On our way to the McDrive!

Adventures Moving South and East on Guadeloupe

Having enjoyed Deshaies several times, we thought we should visit a few other towns in Guadeloupe.

After leaving Deshaies, we sailed to Point a Pitre which is the largest city on Guadeloupe. We found it an excellent place to stock up on items necessary for “boat projects,” especially at UShip where we found all sorts of French items for our French catamaran. I even found the cute little blue “courtesy” lights that gently illuminate the cockpit at night. Finding these little lights was difficult, but getting into the spots I need to replace them will be even more challenging!

Point a Pitre was a little too big city for our tastes, though taking the bus, walking the city and seeing high rise buildings was an interesting change from everywhere we have been since leaving Puerto Rico in November 2015.  

I did enjoy seeing the kids learning to sail. This is a common activity in the larger Caribbean cities and it always makes me smile when I see them.

St. Fra-3Look how they weave through anchored boats!
St. Fra-4A line is attached to all the boats if the kids need to be “rounded up.”

We ended up staying in Point a Pitre for five nights because we spent so much time planning projects, buying the items for up-coming projects and getting two pressing projects finished. We replaced our lost antenna (vital for VHF and AIS communication) and installed Iridium Go! which will allow us to access weather information while off shore as well as text with family when in the middle of the Atlantic.

St. Fra-2The white dome is our Iridium Go! and the antenna is waaaay at the top.

St. Fra-1Eye-spliced the Dyneema lifelines ourselves. 🙂

We also replaced our top lifeline wire with Dyneema line.  It has excellent strength and it won’t make rust spots when drying our clothing!

The highlight of our time in PaP was meeting up with Sail Pending and Escape Claws again. We shared sundowners one evening and Kristie made delicious homemade cinnamon rolls the morning the guys worked on fixing Sail Pending’s davit. YUM! I hope Kristie will share her recipe…

St. FraFrank, Tyler and Rich working on Sail Pending’s davit.

Once we left PaP, we went to St. Anne which is a darling town. We felt like we were in a small part of France and enjoyed walking the streets and browsing the patisseries.  However, the anchorage was very rocky from the incoming swell, so we only stayed one night. The boat was moving too much to even take pictures!

St. Fra-5Entering the marina in St. Francois

Our next stop was St. Francois. This seldom mentioned anchorage was fabulous. It has a very nice marina with many shops, restaurants and a grocery, a fishing dock where you can buy fresh fish and a beautiful anchorage that is very popular with local people. 

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The folks at St. Francois know how to enjoy the water and this area was a mecca of activity without being overwhelming.  We saw kite boarders, windsurfers, skydivers, jet skiers and plenty of boaters.

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Six parachuters in this picture.

We loved St. Francios and stayed three nights soaking up the clear shallow water and excellent scenery.  We were entertained by the three boats near us where a bachelor party weekend occurred.  These guys had a great time with lots of laughter and silliness and we enjoyed watching their antics.

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Three boats full of Frenchmen for a long weekend. Sounds like Dr. Sues!

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The groom perhaps?

Among other activities, these guys rented water jet shoes and everyone took a turn.  Some were quick learners and others provided some pretty funny falls. I don’t know the significance of the shark costume, but it was hysterical to watch!

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We decided that St. Francis has the original “Reef Bar!” 

You can see in this picture that a boat comes out and sets up tables, umbrellas, music, food and drink. Initially we thought this was just a one time event for the bachelor party, but apparently this company is quite busy as they set up private parties three times while we were there.

Sail Pending arrived and anchored right behind us, so we “had” to go out to dinner with them. We had a great time at dinner in one of the restaurants in the marina.  Good food and excellent company!

Next we set sail for Iles de la Petite-Terre; two uninhabited islands a mere 9 nm southeast of St. Francois. These beautiful little islands are a marine park where the only building is a light house first built in 1840. Marine biologists live in a tent near the light house while studying the habitat.

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I think the French sign said this was the first lighthouse in Guadeloupe

About a mile prior to the entrance to Iles de la Petite-Terre, we saw a whale! We hadn’t even thought about seeing a whale and were delighted by the sight. Unfortunately, the only picture I got is so bad it reminds me of one of the grainy “Nessy” the Loch Ness Monster pictures so I’m not posting it.

Walking on Petite Terre we saw a variety of terrane in a short period including dramatic cliffs, flat beaches and lush vegetation.

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A pretty tidal pool.

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My studly hubby under a canopy of leaves.

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This iguana thinks he is all that!

Petite Terre had some of the best snorkeling we have seen. Frank pulled Captain in the floating chair and we snorkeled for about 90 minutes.  Then we were hailed by a park ranger…. apparently we had entered a protected, no swimming area. OOOPPPPS!  No wonder the snorkeling was SO good.

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“Orange” you glad I showed you this one? 

This is the brightest crab I have seen, though I admit I know next to nothing about crabs. I don’t even eat them.

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Dory might be in there, but I didn’t see Nemo.

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The lobster were huge and plentiful.

The lobster were so big I thought they might eat us! Seriously, some of them were so big that the foreleg before the first joint was about eight inches alone! I was afraid to get very close as I had no idea how far the their pinchers would reach.

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This lobster was waiting for me to come close and he was going to drag me into his rock cave.

Frank and I both would have like to stay in Petite Terre several nights, but weather dictated that we depart for Martinique before the winds turned south.  After just one night and two days we had to pull up anchor and leave these stunning islands. I sincerely hope we get to come back.

Captain was happy to leave though because dogs are not allowed on the island and she much prefers grass or sand to the boat deck for her business!

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

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Broderbund Software

So here on LIB, we don’t travel as quickly as Carmen, we are not as educational and hopefully we won’t run into any “bad guys.”  However, we are having our own enjoyable adventures sailing from one place to another, learning a bit about the places we see and generally enjoying the experiences and beauty we find.

Recently we added a new device to LIB which allows us to communicate when we are off shore and also allows others to track our progress. If you are interested in seeing where we go or how we are progressing in our passages, you can now choose the link on our blog and a map will show you our location.

Simply look on the right side of the home page and you will see a section that reads: “More About LIB.”  Under that title is a page called “Where is Let It Be?” Click on that title and a map will load showing our location.

Please note, we are just learning how to use this tracking program and we have noticed a few hiccups. One track shows us traveling right across the island of Guadeloupe. I assure you, LIB is not amphibious. We think this has to do with lost signal or turning off the Iridium Go.  We hope to have it figured out soon.

When we are sailing, our location should update every hour. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Deshaies ~ Our Favorite Little French Village.

Disclaimer: There are probably too many pictures in this post!

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Somehow this small village on the western coast of Guadeloupe has captured our hearts. We have been here four times in the last year, as a destination, a resting point, a respite from seas and just because we like it.

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Each time we stay in Deshaies, we find something new to like. This trip it was Au Jardin Botanique; the Botanical Gardens.  The gardens are a steep uphill walk on the road to the right of the dinghy dock for about 1.5 kilometers.  It is well worth the arduous walk as the presentation of the plants is fabulous.

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Looking back toward the entrance after the ticket gate.

I wish I could tell you about all the plants we saw in the pictures I will post below but, my knowledge is sorely lacking and ALL of the printed information was in French. I SO WISHED my sister-in-law, Emily Stich, was with us. Emily is an accomplished florist and she is fluent in French. Tell me this isn’t the perfect place for Em to visit with us?!

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So pretty it looks fake!

We readily admit, our high school French is insufficient, but we managed to read bits and pieces of the posted signs or perhaps we just made up what we thought the signs said. Regardless, we spent a solid 3.5 hours wandering the grounds and admiring the beauty and variety of plants represented.

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Frank closely examined the plants!

Each of the signs told the indigenous country of the fauna and the number of countries represented was huge. We didn’t see many from the good old U.S., although our friends on Escape Claws and Sail Pending said they saw several in the desert section. By the time we got to the desert, we had absorbed all we could and we were ready to walk back to LIB.

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This photo is for my MIL, Jackie, who loves Bougainvillea!

In addition to flowers, trees and water features, the gardens had a few birds.  These flamingos were the only thing in the whole place that I thought needed something…. perhaps a bit of shrimp or algae to add some pink?

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Most captive flamingos need a little pinking.

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Somehow these birds made me think of Mission Impossible.

I have posted all these photos to demonstrate the variety of colors, the vibrancy of the blooms and some unique leaves in the gardens.  I hope you enjoy the pictures even without documentation.

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One of my favorite scents – Plumeria

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BLUE flowers?!

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Isn’t this cool?!

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This plant is a little “twisted!”

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Pictures of the individual species are beautiful, but they were even more stunning in the gardens because the plants were arranged to accentuate the colors, textures, similarities and differences of one another so well. If you stop in Deshaies, a visit the botanical gardens is worth the effort.

I hope you enjoyed this post.  It is light on facts but long on beauty.

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