Saturday, May 31, 2014


 Cruisers, liveaboards and sailors will totally get this posting.  Others may find an eeeew factor in this posting.   

We are on a marina mooring ball in the inner harbor of Marigot Bay St Lucia.  Because it's an official marina ball, it allows us access to the super fast marina wifi AND showers!  Real honest to goodness, land type showers!  Woo hoo.  We have not had a land based shower since our one night at the dock at The Bitter End Yacht Club in the BVI's.  That was early December 2013!  Before that?   Morehead City NC Nov 5th.  

First showers?   Eeeew.  No, silly readers!  This does not mean we haven't had showers since December 2013. We swim almost daily and take boat showers pretty frequently.  However, our boat showers are either quick showers on the transom of our boat.  Or solar shower bag showers off the transom. Or showers in our forward head shower.  All of these involve a very, very limited amount of water and NO leaving the water running while you stand under it.  Oh no.  We use the minimum amount of water all the way through - turning the water on and off quickly to save on water. can imagine how wonderful it's been for us to have REAL showers here at the marina. Although old habits die hard.  St Lucia is having a water shortage because of lack of rain.  The new marina manager told us they temporarily limited hours of operation on the showers to help save water.  Hearing this, I just couldn't bring myself to let the water run, even though we/I take really fast showers out of habit anyway.  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

St Lucia Jazz Fest Write Up

Don't miss Tom's recap found on Tom's Music Corner

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Soda Stream Refills

The real reason we came to Fort de France?  We heard rumors of getting Soda Stream refills aka Jesus Juice refills.

Background - We are not addicted to pop.  In fact, we had pretty much weaned ourselves off all pop. However.....we do like an occasional tonic drink.  And we have friends that like their morning pop and they were going to be visiting us....  So the day before we left the USA, I bought a Soda Stream machine from Wal-Mart.  I also bought some various syrups and two CO2 canisters.  We didn't even start using it until we got down to the BVI's.  It got a real workout when our friends Tim and Kim came to visit.  It also got it's new name the Jesus Juice Machine - turning water into pop!  Come on....that's funny.
Anyway, I knew finding refills for the CO2 would be a challenge but I didn't think it would be the impossible task it's turned out to be.  Inquiries were coming up empty - no place in the whole Eastern Caribbean!  Ugh!  We heard rumors of an industrial gas company in St Martin that would actually refill the canisters.  However we learned (after a 4 mile hike) that they can only refill the smaller topped European style canisters - NOT the bigger topped American.  Argh!  Since it's CO2 there is no hope for shipping some in.  Having friends bring CO2 on the plane?  BIG no no!

While in St Lucia, we caught up with s/v Adagio.  John happen to mention that he was standing on the street in Fort de France and saw a Soda Stream van drive by.  He started yelling and waving and the van pulled over.  The van driver spoke English and took John to his store where John was able to get the Soda Stream supplies he needed.  He emailed me the name and address and with that we set sail for Martinique.
Lovely Lucie
Flash forward to Friday, March 23rd.  We dropped anchor of Fort de France and rushed ashore.  I knew the Soda Stream store was far so we hailed a cab.  He drove us up into the hills of Fort de France and dropped us off in front of the address - we thought.  Traffic was backing up so he quickly drove off.  We dashed across the street to find the place closed.  Darn!  Oh well.  Open Saturday until noon.  We started walking back down the hill towards the waterfront.  After 8 mins or so of walking with heavy traffic passing by, we suddenly saw the Soda Stream van pass by.  We yelled and waved and.....he pulled over.  *John - does this sound familiar?  We ran across the street and got in.  "We were just at your store but since it's closed......"   The driver said "No, we are...em?....openz.  My wivf and child are zthere now."  Hum?  Then he turned down a narrow drive and drove a short distance to some shops that were down behind the main road.  D-oh!  We didn't double check the address when we got out of the cab.  We just assumed it was the one on the main road.
Their shop

We walked into Caraibes Decoration and it was wonderfully air conditioned and Lucie immediately began helping us.  Her English is very good.  She and Christopher own this kitchen/bath design shop.  Soda Stream is one of the brands they carry.  We visited a bit as she filled our order - 6 bottles of CO2 and 5 syrups - she threw one in for free, giving us six syrups total.  Yay!  Christopher told us they have been in Martinique 12 years.  They moved from Paris.  Nice couple.  They said they get some "people off boats" but we told them not many know about their shop.  Lucie said there is also a new place in Guadeloupe to get Soda Stream supplies.  Christopher told us to email them next time and they will have our order ready for us.  I would guess he might even deliver to the waterfront.  As it was, he offered to drive us back down to the waterfront.  We of course took him up on the offer. big thanks to John on s/v Adagio and Lucie and Christopher, our Jesus Juice Machine is up and running again.  Cold, fizzy cocktail anyone?

FYI - I posted this info on Women Who Sail group on Facebook.  Hopefully that will help get the word out.
Caraibes Decoration 63 rue du Prof. R. Garcin, Dedier Fort de France Martinique.
Soda Stream in Guadeloupe - Le Gout de la Cuisine

Saturday Afternoon in Fort de France

As we wondered around the city, shops started closing up around 13:00.  We could hear live music so we followed our ears.  We stumbled onto hotel L'Imperatrice.  A solo performer was playing at the street cafe attached to the hotel.

The Bamboo Man was playing his wide range of HANDMADE bamboo instruments.  And I am not just talking about a simple pan flute.  Oh no.  These were cleverly designed instruments that gave sophisticated sounds.  One sounded just like an awesome base.  Another sounded like a sax and yet another like a soprano sax, sitar, harp and on and on.  It was amazing, sort of reggae/contemporary jazz sound.

He had a playback loop that allowed him a multi-layered sound.  We ordered a round of drinks and spent the rest of afternoon leisurely enjoying Laurent Phenis's Bambou Muzik. During a break we visited with Laurent. He has played all over the world but has yet to play in America.  He hopes to tour there someday.

We also discovered that the hotel was host to a special art exposition this weekend.  A collective of 50 artist had taken over the various hotel rooms to show their art.  As we viewed the art, we also got to see the unique interior architecture of this art deco hotel.      

Saturday in Fort de France

loved the baskets on right hand of pic - sadly no room onboard

We had a wonderful day exploring the city.  The first stop was the main market.  The colors, sounds, smells and tastes were so vivid.
Ever seasoning and flavor imaginable 

We tasted 3 very different flavored bananas from this lady

Loved her hat - her dress is out of traditional fabric

Look at all those limes!!
Street performers

pedestrian boulevard
Interesting buildings

I don't know what this building is but it looked so....historic

Main post office

Fort de France Anchorage

View from our anchorage

This place has a big city vibe that we are totally digging.

The fort
 You can't call it Fort de France without a fort.  You gotta have a fort.
 Silly selfies.  Ugh - I do not like that word selfie.

St Anne Martinique

Our anchorage in St Anne Martinique
Thursday, May 22nd 2014
Today is a holiday on Martinique.  It is the celebration of the end of slavery on Martinique.  FYI - It is celebrated May 27th on Guadeloupe.  We went ashore to find traditional dancing and drumming on the waterfront near the dinghy dock.  It was interesting and fun to watch.

similar formation as square dancing

Some of the dances were complicated

Tom was even able to "sit in" when during one of the breaks several kids were learning to drum and Tom sat down to learn as well.
Next generation drummers

Singing traditional songs -more chants

So many colors in one hedge
Check out the spare tire

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Great Mango Hunters

Tom, Lee and Tony
May 14th
Lee and Sharon on s/v Allegro have been cruising the Caribbean for approximately 20 years.  For the past 10 years, Lee has been harvesting/hunting mangoes from one particular tree in St Lucia.  "The best mango tree in the Caribbean" according to Lee.  The location is a secret but he agreed to take Tony s/v Hoofbeats and Tom mango hunting.  With supplies in hand:  boat hook, net, plastic sacks and damp cloth - they zoomed off in Tony's dinghy.

15 mins later they returned with an absolute bounty.....approximately 65 mangoes!!  Big mangoes.  We ended up with 21.  We have them safely stored in the Yeti while they ripen.  YUM - love mangoes!  *Yes, I am still allergic to the oil in the mango skin but not the fruit.  Besides, what's life without a little danger.  It just makes them that much sweeter.      

Things We Have Learned -Illness

1.  If you aren't feeling well, a 40ft boat suddenly feels like a 20ft boat and shrinking.
2.  If you aren't feeling well on what feels like a 20 ft boat, and your trying to rest and get better, sharing that very small space can be.....challenging.  EVEN if it is with the love of your life/best friend/ life partner and all around terrific person!  They are a always there doing really irritating things like......breathing
3.  If you aren't feeling well on what feels like a 20 ft boat with someone who is breathing, you yourself can become a real to be around.  Even you don't want to be around you.
4.  People who fly into the Caribbean on holiday bring germs.  Bad, get sick type germs.  They may not know it.  In fact, they probably don't because they are immune.  They may not even be sick, just "worn out/jet lagged" for a few days.  But take warning......they have land cooties!  
5. Cruising the Caribbean the past 7 months, we have NO immunity to land cooties!  None!  
6.  New strategies develop for coping with the above.

Being sick on land, in a house, you develop patterns on how to deal with it.  Some people like to be alone.  Some like pampering by others.  Some people sleep non-stop, while others set  up camp on the couch or in a favorite chair in front of the tv.  All sorts of get well methods are employed from the reasonable like - rest, liquids, and meds, to middle of the road - chicken noodle soup, Vicks and steam, to borderline superstitious - cod liver oil taken while wearing your grandmothers quilt and hang in your head off the bed upside down!  Moving onto a boat full time means developing new patterns and habits including those used to deal with when you are not 100%.  Many of the old methods simply won't work......super long, hot, steamy shower - no.  Hot bath- no.  Very short shower in closed up, hot head -yes.  Camping out in front of the tv - no.  Movies on laptop - ok as long as the power holds out. Sending someone out for that special, feel better craving of pop/juice/food- no.  Having spare feel better juice/soup/pop stashed away- possible....if you don't use it.  Think about when you are sick.  What special habits have you developed to help you deal and get better?  While cruisers don't traditionally get sick (as in cold/flu) as often as land people, it still happens occasionally.   


If you will remember, we skipped Martinique on the way down so we could catch Jazz Fest.  Friday, May 16th we sailed into Le Marin and dropped anchor on the north side near an interesting floating dry dock.
The guidebooks call Le Marin the yachting Capitol of the Caribbean and I believe it.  There are easily 3000+ sailboats here - not counting St Anne.   The marina reminds us of Marina Del Ray only slightly smaller.  And cats.......OMG!  I have honestly never seen so many cats in one place in my life.  Apparently the French love cats and flock here to charter them for holidays.  Tons of charter companies I've never even heard of.  
The French also seem to be crazy over metal boats.  Ever 5th boat is either a hard chen boat or aluminum (- that AL-u-mini-um for you British readers).
Le Marin feels very....European vs Caribbean.  This is reflected in the tiny European cars, the traffic (there is so much more), the way the people dress and the buildings.  The two big grocery stores are very French, jam packed with yummy French treats for low prices - cheese, olives, baguettes, coffee, chocolate, wine, cheese (oh, I said that already)etc....  

Sail form St Lucia to Martinique

May 16th
We had an absolutely lovely sail with 10 knots of wind and fairly calm seas.  There were two small, brief squalls.  The first produced a water spout that appeared and then disappeared almost as fast. However, it was our first water spout spotting......try saying that five times fast.
Near the entrance to Le Marin, a silly/stupid mistake by me, resulted in our main sail pulling slightly out of its track at the bottom and becoming jammed.  The attempts to re-thread and raise it again didn't work while underway so we dropped it completely and motored in with it flaked - somewhat.  Later at anchor we were able to get it raised correctly, and furled.  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Jazz Fest - Sunday's Main Stage Event

We decided to spring for tickets and actually attend Sunday's final show.  They tickets were $80 each but that was for a full day of music and fun that included 7 different artist on the main stage, a second stage with various acts, along with cultural and vendor booths and food booths.  OH...the food booths.  SOoo much good food.  It was hard to choose and hard to stop.
Monty Alexander on the main stage

It started at 14:00 and ran until approximately 12:30am.  We arrived about 14:45.  You could take in chairs, blankets, coolers and food.  The only restriction was no glass bottles!  Read that again!!!  Yes, we were allowed to take in pretty much anything we wanted - like the old days of concerts festivals in the USA.  *I so miss those days.  And you know what.....there wasn't one single problem that we could see.  On the contrary, people brought blankets and chairs and some brought in drinks of their own.  But many, many, purchased food and beverages there throughout the day.  I would say over well over 50% of the people.  Why?  Food was were super yummy - made by someone's mom AND reasonably prices. What a concept!  Price food and bevs at a reasonable price and concert goers will buy!   *Ok - I am now stepping down off my soapbox.
Pan band on the second stage

Carnival girl contest on the second stage.  Oh la la.
Concert attendees were from all over the world.  There were many people from other Caribbean islands and tons of people from England and specifically London.  So many that I wonder if there wasn't some sort of special Jazz Fest package vacations from London.  And everyone was dressed to the nines.  I mean to tell you decked out!  75% of all the women had dresses or skirts on.  The men were dressed up too.  We looked pretty sorry in our standard, salt stained cruising gear.  
Full rainbow came out and a second started to form
It drizzled at times but no one left.  People just put up their umbrellas until it stopped.  We don't have umbrellas so we used our K-State stadium blanket to keep the sprinkles off us.

I am going to let Tom give you the details on the artist line up and music specifics in a separate posting but I will say we enjoyed it.  We stayed until the very end, including two encores by Maxwell.
Commodores and their band The Mean Machine
**Special thanks to Paul off s/v Sonic Boom for letting me use his folding cockpit chair.  It saved me and let me enjoy the whole show.  Thank you SOOOO much!!!
Commodores gett'in after it!

Age aside, they still had some moves!

St Lucia Jazz Fest

We have had such a terrific time these past two weeks enjoying the various St Lucia Jazz Fest shows and activities, Rodney Bay and hanging with all the fellow cruisers.
Barbara and Archie (without his dreadlocks -OMG)
We were able to connect with a fellow Salty Dawg Rally participant- Archie from s/v Janey came down on the rally with us and is now building a home here in St Lucia.  New acquaintance Barbara and her hubby Mike are from Ireland.  *Not to stereotype but holy cow, the Irish say wee no less than 100 times in a conversation. It's a hoot.  

The four of us caught the free Skip Monday show at a local mall.  We had seen local band Skip Monday twice before earlier in the week but this time they had a young jazz violinist with them and he was terrific!  Sadly, I didn't catch his name. 

Then we headed over to Fire Grill to catch Barbara Cadet.  Archie and Barbara knew all about her and had heard her before.  Tom and I had not and were blown away.  She is awesome!  We ended up basically standing on the stage - I was like 5ft from her.  At one point I started to rest my hand on something and it turned out to be her sax stand!  She is from St Lucia but of course travels the world playing her Jazz.  She is listed as a jazz sax player but we witnessed her playing the sax, soprano sax, keyboard, and a little bass.  

Her band was made up of a group of very talented musicians in their own right and she took several opportunities to showcase these talents and let them shine.  Additionally, two different times she brought up a St Lucian youngster to perform with her.  The first was a pre-teen/teen singer and the second was a young boy of approximately 8 that played jazz violin with her.  WOW!  We are now on a quest to get some of her music.  You should check her out on the web.  

We were originally anchored on the south side of the channel in Rodney Bay.  After the first week we moved over to Pigeon Island so we could be close to the Jazz Fest Main Stage.  We couldn't see it from our boat but we could hear it.  Oh man, could we hear it.  And all the parties and singing in various cockpits after the shows.  *Not to stereotype....again... but if you sing Frere Jacques in the round over and over VERY LOUDLY at 1am in the morning from your cockpit with your friends, while smoking and drinking wine....we are going to stereotype you FRENCHIE and make fun of you.  Ha!  **If you don't want to be stereotyped, then don't do what is stereotypical...says the know it all American!  Double Ha!
Tom, Clare, Paul and Gilly (hiding)
Paul on s/v Sonic Boom moved over next to us.  Soon 50 + charter cats with 5,000 people on each cat joined us, anchoring all around.  Okay, not 5,000 people, more like 100 on each cat.  Anchor proximity and lack of any scope on these cats was a worry but we all got along fine.  Heck, if we lived here or on a nearby island and didn't have a sailboat, we would do the same thing - charter a cat and bring 100 friends to the Jazz Fest!  New acquaintance's Clare from s/v Ocean Rainbow and her visiting friend Gilly dinghied across Saturday night to join us in the cockpit of s/v Honey Ryder.   Sadly, Clare's hubby James was back in England on business.  But that didn't stop the girls from having fun.  Oh no!  We enjoyed the music but we really enjoyed the funny British humor of Paul, Clare and Gilly even more.  *The Brits are just so bloody witty and funny in their own sort of British way!  Simply brilliant.
The Girls prepping for the ride back across the bay - a comedy routine in the making