Thursday, July 21, 2011

Irie’s Thought, Experience, Quote or Anecdote of the Week

Sometimes funny, unbelievable or interesting things happen in our life on the water. Most often these experiences are had ashore in the different countries, with their different cultures and different education. During cocktail time, sea stories are exchanged and thoughts are shared. After one too many drinks, somebody might even have a cure for all the evil in the world. In a moment of inspiration, when all the right components are present (not too hot, not too humid, not too tired, not too busy), words and quotes are invented. I thought it would be a good idea to share some of these words and anecdotes of grandeur in a separate section of our blog. So, from now on, enjoy Irie’s Thought, Quote or Anecdote of the Week in the right column of It’s Irie.

Week 1: “How much do you want to pay?” "EC$5 (US$2)" "OK!" Conversation that took place in a local bar in Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou, when we asked for a "good" price for our rum and cokes.

Week 2: "1 for 2 and 2 for 5!" (EC$) was the answer when we asked for the price of avocados in Tyrrel Bay last year. :-) They caught on: now it's 1 for 3 and 2 for 5!

Week 3: The Interview with a Cruiser (IWAC) Project:
It was an honor and fun to be interviewed for this great initiative and project! To read our interview, click here!

Week 4: "Maybe we should go to the Pacific..." stated Mark recently, growing a bit tired of the (Eastern) Caribbean. Food for thought, especially when I thought I would need two years to convince him!

Week 5: The perfect weekend - Friday night: martinis with cruising friends, Saturday night: local party with cheap drinks, free local food, great hospitality and making Grenadian friends, Sunday: delicious brunch (potatoes, bread fruit, bacon, eggs, toast, cheese and mimosas) on Irie with cruising friends, afternoon at local/mixed party on the beach and dinner (fajitas) on Irie with cruising friends!

Week 6: Not again!!!
(Tip: It involves a lot of money, sweat, mosquitoes, work and tiredness -- We hoped not to do this for at least another year!)

Week 7: "Silicone is like medicines... it is out of date by the time you need/use it and doesn't work properly!"

Week 8: I am ready for a vacation (= relaxation and exploration)!

Week 9: “Don’t worry about me. I am in personal communication with God!”
(Answer from one American -female- cruiser to another cruiser who inquired how she and her husband were doing after having dragged on shore during "the big Grenadian squall".)

Week 10: "In Grenada, you don't take "contraceptive pills" for birth control, you take "Family Planning Pills"".

Week 11: "An indication of whether you start a day good or a bad is the realization of whether you WANT to get up or NEED to get up."

Week 12: "The more you want something, the less likely it will happen! (Especially if it is weather dependent...)"

Week 13: "Planticipation: On a boat, you planticipate. A plan never works out and anticipation always fails and leads to disappointment, so, while sailing around and living on the water, it’s all about plantification: you plan and anticipate, fully knowing that whatever you hope for will not happen and whatever happens is how it will be!"

Week 14: "Leaving the familiar, heading for the unknown..."

Week 17: "Back from vacation to civilization. "

Week 18: "The view through my porthole keeps changing!"

Week 19: " It's been one year since Darwin departed our lives. We still think about him every day and miss him loads..."

Week 20: " December, a month of sorrow, every year! My thoughts are with my family... "

Week 21: "New places, new faces, new cultures, new adventures..."

Week 22: "To all the readers of It's Irie: Have a wonderful and merry Christmas with special gifts and lots of love!!!"

Week 23: "Back in Panama; by boat this time! Who would have guessed?"

Week 24: "Mark and I wish you all a fantastic 2012 with lots of friendship, good health, love and adventure!"

Week 25: “Local tomatoes in St. Lucia are more expensive per pound than imported ones, because they are bigger.” – St. Lucian tour guide in a supermarket (overheard while in Rodney Bay last year)
Week 26: "Feeling quite good about our boat life now: perfect weather, great sailing, a beautiful region -as tropical as it gets- and "enough" internet to get that part of life going as well! :-) Who wants to come visit?"

Week 27: "On a sailboat boredom equals laziness, since there is always something to do, fix, research, buy, explore, clean, wash, cook, organize, prepare, ... How can any cruiser ever get bored?"

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Full House on Irie: Griet, Wim, Sam and Eva’s Visit

Grand Anse d’Arlet became our favorite anchorage in Martinique this year. After returning from our brief visit to St. Lucia to meet up with friends, we “waited” here until my cousin Griet and her family showed up a few days later. We worked for the business and made the necessary preparations that are required for a guest family of four. Since we are not a big fan of Fort-de-France (busy and rolly), we delayed our short sail around the corner until the last moment, which was the morning of June 30th. For some reason, that was also the day a lot of bad weather passed through and we were obliged to take down all the sails and motor dead into heavy wind and built up waves, while we endured squall after squall coming down the bay, barely making progress towards Martinique’s capital.

When the evening approached, safely at anchor, it was still raining big time and we sure hoped for a break, once our visitors would reach the area near the dinghy dock. After darkness had totally set in for an hour, I took the dinghy to shore with a handful of garbage bags (to keep the bags dry) and noticed “the sign” - a flashing flash light - indicating Belgian presence ashore. Our guests had arrived and were ready for a stay on Irie. It was dry for 15 minutes; thank you Weather God. We managed to haul all the luggage onboard and assigned the starboard cabins. Griet and Wim moved into the forward cabin and their kids Sam and Eva into the aft one. Previously, I succeeded in moving all the stuff normally taking up these spaces (computer, Wirie parts, and miscellaneous things) into other cavities in the boat.

The first few days were pretty rainy and many a meal was had inside. Or, we would move all the items onto the cockpit table, only to be welcomed by raindrops once we sat down. At night, everybody was responsible for closing and opening and closing and opening their own hatches. We became used to it and managed to still do things and get off the boat, whether it was a walk through Fort-de-France or a snorkel with turtles in Grand Anse d’Arlet. The second day was spent tacking along the southwest coast of Martinique to reach the cute town of Ste. Anne. Wim turned into a helpful crew member and confident helmsman, while the kids had a blast on the trampoline, every time a wave would crash under and over them. Griet enjoyed being on the water with a big smile, taking photographs.

When we are in Ste. Anne, we like to go for a long walk past many small bays and pretty beaches, to the southern tip of the island. The trail is mostly in the shade and the whole experience is a fun daytrip. Unfortunately, we lost half the day with trying to check out (first by bus, which was non-available on Sundays, then by dinghy), since the bar in Grand Anse d’Arlet, where we planned to do this, was closed. When we finally locked the dinghy in town and reached the trail head near Anse Caritan, all the paths had turned into a wet and muddy mess, thanks to the heavy rainfall of the previous days. We splashed and slid and hiked and skidded to the first bay, where we relaxed the rest of the afternoon, together with hordes of local families on a Sunday break. Dinner was had in a local restaurant with a typical Creole dish and ti punch.

The crossing between Martinique and St. Lucia was the big sailing adventure. Nobody was allowed on the trampoline and the ocean was respected by all. Irie made great timing, averaging 7 knots, turning this trip into a shorter, but bumpier one than the trip tacking to Ste. Anne. We reached Rodney Bay in time for lunch. The kids stayed aboard, while the adults checked in, explored the marina area and shopped for food. The following day, I dropped everybody off on shore for a visit to Pigeon Island and a walk on Reduit Beach. Mark and I caught up on our usual internet and boat stuff. We all had a very enjoyable dinner in Jambe de Bois, our favorite restaurant in St. Lucia.

The tour moved onto Marigot Bay, where the rain didn’t keep us from snorkeling along the rocks, landing on the palm fringed beach and walking along the mangroves and the lagoon. After lunch, Irie and crew moved on to Anse Cochon to snorkel some more in the rain (which didn’t keep one rum demanding boat boy away), gaze at the colorful fish and coral and spend a peaceful night. The next morning, the schedule was similar with a lunch stop in Anse Chastenet, where we swam from the mooring ball to the beautiful black beach and then on to a nice snorkel area around protruding rocks. We continued on to the Pitons for pictures of the spectacular view and another night. When the park ranger came by to collect the fees, he was accompanied by a customs officer, requesting to see our special permit to moor. We didn’t have one, since there is an extra US$10 fee on top of the park fees and since they never checked for this before. We moved around the corner and spent the night in Malgretout Beach instead.

Griet, Wim, Sam, Eva and I took the dinghy to Soufriรจre and walked through the local town and along very lush gardens and forests to the Botanical Gardens. We thought it opened at 9am, waited for an hour and entered at 10am, when the park appeared to open. For the next hour, we smelled colorful flowers, read explanatory signs, stuck our toes in the manmade and swimming pool-like hot springs and looked at the Diamond Falls. After more grocery shopping, lunch was had on Irie, in the cockpit this time! By now, everybody had his own job when the seats were wet or about to get wet. In the afternoon, we returned to Marigot Bay, the anchorage of choice, for another night on a mooring ball. The brisk wind, with gusts up to 26 knots made for a quick and invigorating sail!

The gang’s last day on Irie was spent in Marigot Bay, with a walk in the marina area and a drink looking out over the protected lagoon. A short sail to Rodney Bay with captain Wim finished the family’s sailing adventure. Because of its tasty and affordable food, yummy cocktails and great outdoor atmosphere, a return visit to Jambe de Bois took place. This time, we had anchored right in front of the door, so a short dinghy ride kept the passengers dry. The following morning, after a hearty breakfast with Bloody Mary’s (Griet and Wim are good sports trying everything!), we moved to the southern area of Rodney Bay and I dropped our guests off at the Rex Resort for a continuation of their holiday, in luxury this time!