April 22, 2002 Martinique
Wow! We're back in the land of Chris's birth, happy to see all the lush high volcanoes. With Amanda's friend Gina and her dad, Terry, we played tourist for 12 days, sailing with them from Guadeloupe, through Les Saintes (small islands of fishing villages), Dominica (dirt poor, but the most green of the volcanic islands), and down to Martinique. We rented cars and drove the winding roads through sugar plantations, rain forest, and little French villages. Of course we had to try out the local cuisine and check out the snorkeling sites. There seems to be more effort to preserve the reefs, though it may be an after-thought after hurricane and human damage.
Now it's time to get back in the swing of school and boat work. Last big project is the water maker, which I'll welcome, as we just went through many gallons doing wash (yes, it's still done in buckets on the aft deck.... Yuck.)
Off to Fort de France to see the Eastern Caribbean's biggest city, and Chris's birthplace. I wonder if we can find the clinic he was born in....?
May 23, 2002 Martinique
It's been a month since I wrote here, and there have been some interesting changes in our lives. We never did find the clinic Chris was born in, but I think we can walk there (just a few miles). We did find the house where we lived, and it's still occupied by the same family that rented it to us in 1986!
There's a hum coming from Chris's cabin -- the Spectra watermaker is turning salt water into drinking water at about 8 to 9 gallons/hour. This allows us to be a bit less anal about conserving showering water and laundry. Unfortunately, we don't yet have the small washing machine that I was determined to get, so wash days are still a reality, with 3 buckets lined up to wash, rinse and rinse. (The worst part is the hand wringing in between each step!) We need to turn the watermaker on at least every other day, or we have to prep it for storage which is a pain. We can't use it in dirty sea water, so that has the advantage of making sure we anchor in bays with the cleanest (clearest) water possible. I love it. Clear water makes me sooooo happy.
I'm taking a more active role in teaching the kids their French and Spanish. And Amanda surprised us all by confidently ordering her dinner in French when we went out last night for Jon's and my 23rd anniversary. The kids are learning some interesting food words like requin, titiris, oursin, lambi, cheval, cabri, courgette, crudites, accras, pamplemouse, goyave, ecrevisses. (Shark, baby bird wings, sea urchin, conch, horse, goat, zucchini, raw vegetables, fritters, grapefruit, guava, and shrimp!)
For recreation we now have the little Walker Bay sailing dinghy going, and it's a blast to sail around the anchorages in the late afternoon saying "Hi" to folks on other boats, or just checking out the shoreline. Unfortunately with the high winds this spring (20 plus knots) we don't take it out as often as we would like. It's not made to handle much over 15 or 18 knots, and we'd hate to bend the mast or rip the sail.
Arthur the cat seems resigned to his life aboard. We gave him his first swimming lesson a couple weeks ago. Dropped him off the aft deck (from about 2 feet) and watched him go under, bob up, and spin around and swim the few feet to the stern of the boat. He scrambled up the swimming ladder, ran past me, and scouted down below straight for Amanda's bed. One wet, salty, disgusted and vocal cat. But at least now we (and he) know he can swim! Next time will be less fun, as we need to have him climb aboard without the ladder to help! Luckily, he doesn't seem to associate me with the dropping, and we're still friends!
Star Wars II is out, and playing in Martinique. But it's all in French! The kids refuse to see it for the first time in a language they can't understand. They want the story, and all the nuances, not just the visual action. Maybe it'll be playing in St. Lucia in a couple weeks. Otherwise, we may have to try and catch it in Venezuela with Spanish subtitles!
We've been to St. Lucia with our friend Emilie Cobb and dealt with all the boat boys again just like up in Dominica. We tried out some new (to us) anchorages (tiny bays, actually) with good snorkeling. We're headed north for a few weeks to try and meet up with the boat Sea Eagle, with 3 kids (15, 13, 9) who we know from St. Martin.
More later. It's Chris's turn on the computer. I think I'll start a new batch of granola and chop up the pumpkin for soup.
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