44' Luxury Catamaran Mustang Sally

Doug, Wendy and Mustang Sally cruise the Virgin Islands. Follow along on their adventures meeting funky local characters and visiting hot spots and hidden treasures with links to our favorites websites and additional interesting information.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

ST. LUCIA TO MUSTIQUE




























St. Lucia, May 26, 2008 – Mustique, June 3, 2008
After Martinique we had a great sail to St. Lucia and we were very close hulled and saw 10.2 knots. Woo Hoo!! Mustang Sally had salt water all over her when we arrived in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia. St. Lucia is known for being mountainous and lush, with many beautiful white sand beaches. The large island has rainforests at the highest peaks and then gives way to agricultural land. St. Lucia is a famous for the Pitons which are sheer rock faces which seemed to have shot straight out of the ocean depths in a violent volcanic reaction. Petit Piton is 2600’ high while the Gros Piton tops her smaller sister at 2600’. We would be anchoring amongst the Pitons in a few days after we had provisioned (again!) in Rodney Bay.
We purchased lots of beer and wine and some food too!! Enuf to see us thru for awhile as St. Lucia is the last place to provision until St. Vincent, which we would be skipping due to the crime there. So we would not be provisioning again until we arrived in Grenada, a few weeks away. Lucky for me I did not have to buy much in the way fo fruits and veggies as Gregory “The Fruit Man” motored over to us in his boat of many colours, covered in colouful flags of many different nations but other than that the boat was pretty rickety and we could not believe he travels around the island in it. We both realized that Gregory was more expensive than buying at the store but this was an “experience” and part of the thrill of our adventures.
We got MS loaded up and then off we went the next morning to beautiful Marigot Bay, a short 9 nautical mile motor sail. Doug had been to Marigot Bay many years ago (something like 20 yrs) and he had told me how beautiful it had been back then and he was curious to see if it still looked the same. Marigot Bay is truly gorgeous, however, it is a Moorings charter base now and therefore this once fairly undeveloped spot is now a busy hub with “Discovery Harbour” developments which consists of high end restaurants, shops and villas which are quite nice (hey! I like to shop and eat out as much as the next gal) but ruin the natural beauty of this place. Locals certainly can’t afford to eat at the restaurants or shop at the boutiques. At least it provides employment. One after another day charter boats sail in and out of the anchorage as well, so we found it a little too busy for us to stay any more than one day. We prefer secluded anchorages but this was getting increasingly harder and harder to find the further south we went. I must say, however, that we were more than happy that evening to enjoy Happy Hour 2 for 1 drinks (wish they would bring Happy Hour back at home in Canada!). We went to a couple of different establishments and the last one we sampled “J.J.’s Love”, a very strong rum concoction. Let’s just say at the end of that drink I didn’t know who J.J. was but I sure did love him!
Next morning we were on our way to the famous Piton’s located at the southern end of the island, to anchor over nite before sailing to Bequia in The Grenadines where our friends, Meggie and Gypsy Blues, were anxiously awaiting our arrival. We could see the Pitons well before we arrived at them. They are ginormous, monolithic, awe inspiring spectacles. We took a mooring between the Pitons as there is no anchoring as the depth is too great. You can imagine if these rocks shoot straight up from the ocean floor at these heights that the water depth would not be too shallow. We soon learned, however, that there is another very important reason to take a mooring and not to anchor (that is, if you trust the mooring that you are on). The Chris Doyle guidebook said something about wind gusts and current here but they do not go into much detail. Well, a gentle breeze would be caressing MS and then out of nowhere wind gusts on the range of 40-50 knots would hit the cat tugging on her mooring and making the rig shriek. Everything that was not tied down had to be put inside before it blew off the cat. I was sure that we would break free from the mooring and be thrown on to the rocks at the base of the Pitons. In addition to these powerful blasts of wind, an opposing current would push MS on to her mooring ball. It was very worrisome but we soon realized we were safe and so began to enjoy the spectacular scenery and to some extent the wind gusts. It made for a tough nite of sleep tho as every wind gust felt as tho we were coming free of the mooring and we would get up to double check our lines occasionally thru the nite.
Early the next morning (6 a.m. eeek!) we said good bye to the beautiful Pitons and freed MS from her mooring. We kept looking back amazed at the Pitons size and I got a great shot of Lady Katherine, a fellow cat, leaving the Pitons shortly after we did. The pic shows how enormous they are and how teeny lady Katherine looks by comparison.
We pointed MS into the wind, Doug raised our huge mainsail (he is getting big muscles!), we returned MS to our course setting and let the jib out and off we went. We sailed the windward side of St. Vincent with no plans to stop there for the crime is too great. Far too many boat boarding’s, dinghy thefts and troubles on land as well. The island looked great, however, from 2 miles off shore. We had a good romp down the coast line and sailed into the islands again near the south shore of St. Vincent rounding the northern tip of Bequia. Once in the lee of the island the wind dropped to nothing. No worries, a short motor and we would be there, and we were! We arrived at 2 p.m. in the afternoon. Enough time to check in with customs, have a swim and then sundowners with our buds. As soon as we got our anchor set, Gypsy Blues called on the VHF and invited us for a Cheryl’s birthday dinner… how did beef tenderloin sound? We have great friends!
Next morning I went for an exploratory power walk….whew! It was tough. Lots of steep hills but many beautiful cottages with flowers everywhere, lots of big smiles and hellos from the locals and I detected a real laid back vibe. The British love Bequia, with good reason, and they owned many charming cottages dotted all over the island. I was happy to be here.
We headed into the famous Bequia Rasta Market that we had heard so much about. Some cruisers had told us they would not shop there as the Rasta’s were far too pushy and they felt intimidated but my good friend Kylie on Meggie said they were awesome and had the best produce going. Doug and I thot we would check it out for ourselves. Wow! What a riot of colour! I hadn’t seen this much fruit and veggies in ages. Each Rasta had his own table full of colour. And the quality was great. Huge avocados, green oranges (yes, green but they taste just like oranges at home! kewl), lots of fresh herbs, (yippee, it had been a while since I had had fresh basil), big, beautiful, red tomatoes without any blemishes, christophene (looks like a green pepper on the outside but tastes & looks like a cucumber on the inside), bananas, the sweetest pineapple we’ve ever had, etc. All of this produce is grown in St. Vincent and shipped by ferry every day. The Rasta’s were fun to deal with. Yes, a wee bit intimidating, but we bought a little from each vendor (one was named Mr. President cuz he looked like a black Abe Lincoln!) and when we caught flak for not buying from a particular vendor I promised him we would be back again and we would buy from him. I told them we were “spreading our love” around. The Rasta’s all seemed happy with that. I am sure we overpaid for our purchases but they seemed very reasonable in comparison with prices at home and it was a wonderful, fun experience.
That nite we had a little reunion party on MS that went on well into the nite and I must say I wasn’t feeling my best the next day. We went for a lovely hike with Mike and Kylie over to Industry Bay on the windward side of the island. I don’t know why they call it Industry Bay as there isn’t anything like industry there at all. Just palm trees, wind, waves and one very kewl, relaxing place to get a cold beer. We watched some local guys climb up the palm trees and cut the coconuts off and crack them open offering us all some of the tasty coconut water inside. You have to be careful with coconut water as it is a natural diuretic and we still had a long walk back! That would not be fun.
After a few more days of the idyllic lifestyle in Bequia we said good bye to Meggie who was on their way to Carriacou, which is part of Grenada but an island just north of it. We sailed along with Gypsy Blues to Mustique, home of the very rich and very private. It was a beautiful 12 mile sail where we took a mooring ball and headed in straight away to the world famous Basil’s Bar for cocktails. Mustique is truly beautiful but unfortunately for us paupers it is also very expensive so one drink at Basil’s for us and back to Gypsy Blues for dinner and drinks.
Next day we had arranged for a waiter named Ozzie from Basil’s Bar to give us a “real” island tour not one of the canned tours everyone else was getting. Ozzie drove us around the island in a “mechanical mule” which is a cross between a tractor and a golf cart and this was the de riguer way to travel on the island. We learned from Ozzie as he drove that Mustique is privately owned by “Mustique Group”, which we assumed the wealthy land owners on the island own large shares of and have all of the say in how the island looks and is managed. Any locals who live on the island have homes provided for them by the company and all of the houses are very nice. They have many staff that keep the island beautiful, free of garbage, with flowers and palm trees all well manicured. The beaches are even raked! The locals all have jobs working for the company with the exception of the fishermen but all of their catch is bought by the fancy restaurants every morning. The island locals have the very best health care provided for by the company. There is a school for the local island children who receive a wonderful education. This is a real gift to these island’s locals as many of the other islands can only afford to send their children to school until grade 6 or sometimes less. The founder of Maxim magazine, who lives on the island, donated the public library. The Mustique Company has hired the best of the best to run and operate the island, for instance they have telecommunications experts, engineering experts, security experts, etc. to keep the island running ship shape. Mustique is definitely in its own beautiful little world.
Ozzie drove us past mansions and told us how Mustique gained notoriety in the ‘50’s when the late Princess Margaret vacationed here. As he drove us past mansions Ozzie would stop the “mule” and tell us who lived there or some local gossip about the people. It was fascinating to be a voyeur but we never went on any private property. We drove past Mick Jagger’s residence, Tommy Hilfiger’s beautiful home; the founder of AOL’s huge mansion, Magic Johnson has a multi level house overlooking the ocean under construction, Lance Armstrong rides his bike on the pretty island roads, Bryan Adams has property here and so does fellow Canadian Shania Twain who rides horses at the equestrian centre. There are far too many rich and wealthy people to list. Just know this…. when Ozzie was driving us back from beautiful Macaroni Beach Tommy Hilfiger and his daughter drove past us not more than 3 feet away! How kewl is that! Apparently, according to Ozzie, Tommy’s daughter has just finished a rehab program….again. Who knew? LOL! This place is too much….wish we had some.
Next day we had plans to sail to Canaoun….tell you all about that next log. Till next time fair winds…..

Thursday, July 10, 2008

DOMINICA TO MARTINIQUE






















































May 19, 2008, Dominica – May 25, 2008, Martinique










We left Iles Des Saintes after checking out with customs and had another great sail to Portsmouth, Dominica (Dom-a NEEK-ah). We both kept a sharp eye on the surface of the water scanning for water spouts as this stretch was a favourite playground for whales and although we had seen many dolphins we hadn’t seen any whales… yet.
We were excited to be heading to Dominica as we had heard many wonderful things about the island. Our guide book says that if Christopher Columbus were to come back to the Caribbean islands today, Dominica would be the only one he recognized as it still looks very much like it did when he landed. Dominica has not been developed and remains incredibly lush and tropical. The island consists of jagged mountain peaks and deep valleys, rainforests, and waterfalls, along with a boiling lake (kewl!) and numerous crater lakes. There are birds, butterflies, and lots of brightly coloured flowers in abundance. The high mountains attract clouds which mean many quick rain showers but there is also a lot of sunshine which results in many rainbows, as we soon learned. Although we were still far out from the island, we could see huge clouds that covered the mountain peaks. It was an impressive sight as the dark, ominous clouds rolled down the mountain seemingly to engulf Mustang Sally as we approached the most northern city, Portsmouth, and this island that we had heard so much about.
One of the “boat boys”, which we had heard so much about from other yachties, raced out to Mustang Sally in his colourful pirogue with big outboard engines, while we were still about 2 miles from the anchorage. We were a little nervous as we had heard that boat boys can be very aggressive in that they want you to take a mooring ball from them, use them as an agent to check in with customs, buy produce from them, use them as a water taxi, etc. all for a fee. We do these things ourselves and it doesn’t cost us anything that way. However, our travel guide had given us names of reputable boat boys and explained how these guys arrange tours, take your laundry to get washed and return it, and deliver groceries to your boat and numerous other necessities for “yachties”. Eddison was our boat boy and I checked the guide and he was listed as one of the reputable ones to deal with. We yelled at Eddison from our boat to his while still sailing that we would be dealing with him for anything we needed done and once we got anchored we could talk more to him. A little later another boat boy listed in the guide approached us but we felt that we should deal with Eddison as he was the first to approach us and he had motored all the way out to meet us.
Once we were anchored, Eddison came over to the cat and we chatted a bit with him and found him to be smart, helpful and courteous. He was happy to take the beer offered by Doug as well. We made arrangements to do a river tour with him the next morning and a land tour with his friend Boudha in the afternoon, all for a very reasonable price.
We put our dinghy in the water and motored over to customs, which was on the big commercial jetty where bananas and all sorts of other local produce get shipped to other countries by boat. The customs office was located in a pretty tough wharf area and we weren’t sure we were going the right way but we managed to find it and the officials were just that, official. After some rubberstamping we were officially in Dominica. Kewl!
We figured we might as well go for a brief walk thru the town before heading back to the cat and we were also out of beer so we were on a mission to find “Kubuli” which is Dominica’s locally made beer. We asked Eddison why they called the beer Kubuli and he told us that the Carib Indian name for Dominica was “Waitakubuli” which means “tall is her body” and was named so because Dominca is quite long.
Our walk thru town was a little shocking. I had never seen such poverty… yet. Dominica is definitely a third world country. But as we were to learn the next morning when we went on our tour, the island may be financially poor but it is very rich in fruit, produce and spice. No one will ever go hungry in Dominica. You simply have to go for a walk and you can pick fruit from every tree. After we bought our beer we made tracks to the cat for a sundowner and early dinner as we were both tired from our sail and our tour was to start early the next morning.
Eddison arrived at our boat promptly at 8 a.m. with a group of young women who were all from Martinique and were on holidays in Dominica. The girls spoke limited English and so between their English and our limited French we had a good deal of fun trying to figure what each other was saying. Fortunately, Eddison was bilingual and was able to give us the tour in both languages.
Our first tour was the Indian River tour and at the very head of the river Eddison showed us large rusted out hulks of container ships and tug boats that had been swept ashore in previous hurricanes. We also saw the bridge that spanned the river had been destroyed in Hurricane Ivan in 2004. It was only now being replaced by a new bridge and cars had continued to drive on the old, seriously destroyed bridge as they did not have the money to fix the bridge sooner.
Eddison had taken government schooling to become an Indian River guide and as a result he was able to tell us all about the foliage and wild life as we he rowed us up river in his pirogue. The river and the river banks were where several scenes of Pirates of the Caribbean were shot as the river has a spooky, eerie quality with its crazy tree trunks and tree roots sprawling everywhere. As far up the river as we were allowed to travel by boat, there appeared a very kewl outdoor bar made all from bamboo and palm fronds. The flowers here were incredible and we were able to purchase pina coladas and Kubuli’s and tamarind juice.
Once we were back at the foot of the river, Eddison handed us over to his Rasta botanist friend, Boudha. We all piled into Boudha’s van and off we went on a tour of the island, including the Carib Indian village, parts of the rainforest and a hike to Chaudiere Pool. Boudha would pull the van over to the side of the road, run up to a bush or tree, pick something off of the tree and bring back to the van where we could all eat or smell it. This happened every few minutes. We never did stop for lunch as we were all full from all of the fruit we were eating. It was truly amazing. There is so much incredible foliage in Dominica….tons of banana trees, (there are banana plantations everywhere), nutmeg trees, lemon grass, cashew trees, apricot trees, pineapple trees, coconut trees, bay leaf, cinnamon trees, (the bark is the cinnamon, you just grate it, how kewl is that?), basil, everywhere, lemon/lime trees, grapefruit….it goes on and on…..mango, sapodilla, paypaya. We were shocked by the amount of fruits and spice that one island could grow.
The last part of our day was a very steep hike into the rainforest to the Chaudiere Pool where we could all enjoy a swim and if we wanted jump off the top of the falls. The falls were not really big but they were beautiful, plus, this was fresh water. Everyone enjoyed a swim while some jumped from the top and others chickened out (that’d be me) and then we hiked back to the van. It had been a long wonderful day and we all dozed off in the van on the way back.

The next morning we had a pleasant sail to Roseau, Dominica’s capital city. We needed to load up on groceries and after a brief walk into town managed to find a decent “Americanized” (so they think) grocery store. I can’t plan meals the way I used to anymore as you never know what you will find and it is usually pig snout, or chicken claws. I try to find something vaguely familiar and then I throw it in the pressure cooker with a bunch of other things, and cook it for a long time. Surprisingly, it usually tastes pretty good.
The next day had us leaving Dominica and sailing to Martinique. We would like to have spent more time in Dominica but a lot of our friends were in Bequia and we wanted to get together with them. We also felt we were little behind the other boats in getting far enough south before tropical waves and depressions started to form. We hope to see more of Dominica when we are on our way north.
We left Roseau at 0600 and sailed to Fort-de-France, Martinique. The sail started off quite lumpy but with good winds and the first few hours we averaged 8 knots then, once we got behind the lee of the island the winds naturally dissipated and we motored the remainder of the trip. As we got closer to Fort-de France we could see a sailboat which was curiously anchored close to the very rocky lee shore. We watched him for awhile wondering if he needed assistance and sure enuf as we got closer we could see the couple on board waving madly at us. They spoke little English and we weren’t much better with our French but we were able to discern thru hand motions and broken language that their windlass had broken and as a result the older looking French man with the very young looking attractive women could not pull their anchor up. We wondered why he didn’t just pull it up as many sailors have to hand-bob their anchor if the windlass breaks. Yes, it is back breaking but you do what you must. That’s when we learned that he has “mal de couer”, a bad heart and might have a heart attack if he tried to pull it up himself. We both wondered out loud to each other “If he has such a bad heart what was he doing with this very young and very attractive woman on board?” Through our amazing powers of deductions we were able to figure it out! Imagine! We brought Mustang Sally very close, within 6‘, to the stern of the sloop that was by now dragging very near the rocky coastline. Doug jumped overboard and swam to their swim ladder and pulled himself up, while I motored out of the way with Mustang Sally but stayed relatively close and kept an eye of events. Doug and the older French man both pulled up the anchor, but I suspect Doug did most of the pulling. The couple was very grateful and I could see lots of handshaking and relieved laughter on deck. Doug couldn’t help himself and asked the young women if this man was her Father, she giggled and started to blush. You get the drift…..apparently the man was very upset as he was late getting back to his wife. I pulled Mustang Sally along the stern and Doug swam a very short distance back to the cat and climbed on board and away we went. We chuckled about the incident over rum drinks once we got anchored.
The next day was relatively innocuous as we got ourselves checked into customs (you just fill out a form on a computer in a chandlery….quick and easy), we then went shopping for a spear gun so that Doug can spear fish (this is completely legal in the French islands but not other islands) and we loaded up on inexpensive French wine. We were anchored near a few boats that we continued to see as we traveled south and we always exchanged a friendly wave with the people on board. Once back on board we motored over to a lovely little resort beach where we spent an enjoyable day ending with dinner date at a French restaurant.
The next morning while I was power walking on the beach, Doug overheard one of the boats that we were anchored near the day before calling for assistance from the Harbour Captain regarding a missing person. Soon we heard a may day call over the vhf for an overdue swimmer giving a description of the female individual who had been missing since midnite the previous nite in the anchorage we had left just the previous day. After putting two and two together we were able to figure out which women on which boat had been swimming at nite and had not returned. We felt sick. There was little we could do at that point as we were a fair distance away and the French Coast Guard had their helicopter out searching the coastline and the Search and Rescue boats were out as well. Let’s face it, after that length of time in the water without floatation device, it is extremely unlikely that she would have survived. We had just exchanged pleasantries with her the morning before.
The next day we motored to the southern tip of Martinique and anchored at St. Anne which is a very popular resort area with the French. We explored a bit in town and walked thru an incredible cemetery and then enjoyed a beer at a fancy local beach bar. We were both hoping to enjoy a really memorable French dinner but we seemed to have failed to have found a nice restaurant that served anything beside crayfish. The Caribbean French are Creole French and everything is fish or crayfish, which is great (if you like crayfish….we didn’t) but we eat a lot of fish anyway and we were both hoping for some Parisienne cuisine….didn’t happen.
St. Lucia was next and hopefully there we would find some great West Indian food….. til next time….fair winds.