Category Archives: Martinique

Season 4: Post Irma – Cruising Martinique, Dominica & Guadeloupe – by Theresa

February, 2018, we readied the Pilots’ Discretion for sea, which included, among other things, the boys assisting Gaza (a dear friend and our ‘go to guy’ in St. Lucia  for a wide array of boat projects) polishing the Eisenglass. They did such an amazing  job, when they were done, the Eisenglass looked brand new! Additionally, we finished upgrading our inverter/battery chargers, serviced our main engines and genset and made one final run to Mega Massey to provision the boat.Ronan, Gaza & Ryan - Eisenglass done!Ronan, Gaza & Ryan – Eisenglass done!

Randy & Gaza finishing up the Eisenglass, St. Lucia (2018)

Randy & Gaza finishing up the Eisenglass, St. Lucia (2018)

A few days prior to departing St. Lucia, Ronan and I encountered a famous St. Lucian Soca/Gospel singer, Denver Pierre,  filming a music video at Rodney Bay Marina, where our boat was. He asked Ronan to be in the video. In the final video Ronan is shown 19 seconds in & again at 1:58.

It is a positive message themed song and video and it also shows a lot of nice video footage out and about in St. Lucia.

February 25, 2018

The day we departed St. Lucia was bitter sweet for us. In addition to the melancholy feelings associated with leaving an island where we had spent a significant amount of time and made many friends, it also marked the day that Patton would have turned 16. After setting out to sea, we had a moment of silent memorial and paid tribute to the greatest boat dog there ever was.

MARTINIQUE

Our first stop on our northern course was in Fort de France, Martinique. We had been there several times in prior cruising seasons, and had written about our experiences after those visits. See Dominica, Martinique & St. Lucia (2015/06/04). Martinique was fortunate to have escaped the brundt of the wrath of Irma and Maria. While we did see some minor damage (missing roofs on some structures in the fort), overall, the small metropolitan city seemed as beautiful as ever.

Fort de France, Martinique

Fort de France, Martinique

We were pleased to see that the renovations on the central cathedral, which was covered in scaffolding during our last visit, were completed. The results were magnificent.

Fort de France, waterfront cathedral, Martinique

Fort de France, waterfront cathedral, Martinique

With cruise ship season in full swing, it was no surprise that, the day we pulled in to port, there was a cruise ship picking up passengers and getting underway herself.

Cruise ship in Fort de France, Martininque

Cruise ship in Fort de France, Martininque

DOMINICA

Our next port of call on our northward bound journey was Dominica.

Ronan, Ryan & Randy at the helm

Ronan, Ryan & Randy at the helm

Unlike Martinique, Dominica was hit hard this past hurricane season.  When we arrived, six month’s after the hurricanes, the damage to the landscape and structures was still readily apparent.

Damaged roofs in Dominica, (Feb. 2018)

Damaged roofs in Dominica, (Feb. 2018)

Equally apparent was the strength and resolve of the people to carry on and move forward. Tourism and agriculture are the two main resources in Dominica. While the island continues to work towards recovering the agricultural resources, tourism was abundant. In Portsmouth harbor, the Portsmouth Association of Yacht Services (PAYS) was up and running, guiding boats to mooring balls and offering other yacht services.

PAYS member guiding sailboat to mooring, Portsmouth, Dominica (2018)

PAYS member guiding sailboat to mooring, Portsmouth, Dominica (2018)

PAYS member offering services (tours, food, beverages, trash removal) to cruiser, Portsmouth, Dominica

PAYS member offering services (tours, food, beverages, trash removal) to cruiser, Portsmouth, Dominica

The mooring balls and lines all looked new and the harbor was as full as we have ever seen it. The VHF was full of chatter from yachtsmen arranging river and rainforest tours. Once again, with cruise ship season in full swing, we saw a sailing cruise ship in the harbor ferrying passengers to and from the island. She was a beautiful sight to see, sails up, departing at sunset, just off our stern.

Sailing Cruise Ship, Star Clipper getting uderway, Portsmouth, Dominica (2018)

Sailing Cruise Ship, Star Clipper getting underway, Portsmouth, Dominica (2018)

Sailing Cruise Ship, Star Clipper getting uderway, Portsmouth, Dominica (2018)

Sailing Cruise Ship, Star Clipper getting uderway, Portsmouth, Dominica (2018)

GUADELOUPE

We refueled in Rivière Sens, at the southern end of Guadeloupe, before continuing north to Deshaies.

Ryan supervising fueling up in Riviera Sans, Guadeloupe (2018)

Ryan supervising fueling up in Riviere Sens, Guadeloupe (2018)

Theresa & Ryan running the boat to Deshaeis, Guadeloupe (2018)

Theresa & Ryan running the boat to Deshaies, Guadeloupe (2018)

We pulled into Deshaies to the sight of yet another sailing cruise ship.

Club Med 2 Sailing Cruise Ship, Deshaies, Guadeloupe (2018)

Club Med 2 Sailing Cruise Ship, Deshaies, Guadeloupe (2018)

Ronan & Ryan playing chess on the bridge, Sailing Cruise Ship Club Med 2 off our stern, Deshaies, Guadeloupe (2018)

Ronan & Ryan playing chess on the bridge, Sailing Cruise Ship Club Med 2 off our stern, Deshaies, Guadeloupe (2018)

Deshaies seemed to have fewer mooring balls available than we had seen on previous visits, so we dropped our anchor and settled in for yet another fabulous Caribbean sunset.

View from the galley, Deshaies, Guadeloupe (2018)

View from the galley, Deshaies, Guadeloupe (2018)

Sunset, Deshaies, Guadeloupe (2018)

Sunset, Deshaies, Guadeloupe (2018)

In Deshaies, boats come by to “take your morning order,” and the next morning, we had fresh baguettes delivered right to our boat.

Ryan picking up baguettes delivery to the boat, Deshaies, Guadeloupe (2018)

Ryan picking up baguettes delivery to the boat, Deshaies, Guadeloupe (2018)

In sum, it seems this past year’s hurricanes have not dampened the cruise ship / cruisers / tourism enthusiasm in the Easterrn Caribbean. In fact, we spoke to many who said they were purposesfully visiting hurricane hit island nations because tourism dollars are needed to assist in the speedier recovery of the islands. We will not sugar coat it, there have been significant physical and economic consequences for the Eastern Caribbean islands but for the most part these islands and their people have proven resilient and will thrive again.

In our next series of posts we will be reporting on what we found on some of the islands that had a more direct encounter with Irma or Maria or both.

2017 Hurricane Affected Areas in the Caribbean

Season 4: Cruising the Caribbean Post Irma & Maria – December 1, 2017 (Latitude 14° 4.505″ N, Longitude 60° 56.959″ W) – by Randy

2017 Hurricane Summary

2017 Hurricane Summary

Yesterday was the last day of the 2017 hurricane season, and so it is that we now contemplate our fourth (4th) season cruising plans! We have previously communicated with you about the devastation that this past hurricane season has left behind throughout the northeastern Caribbean. The damage has been vast, but the strong will of the people on the affected islands has proven impossible to suppress. Things are not yet back to normal but the strides that have been taken by the international community and the locals has been incredible.

PROGRESS OF RECOVERY

We have been monitoring the progress of the recovery efforts on a daily basis. In addition to our general concern for the well being of our Caribbean friends and their economies, we also have been paying close attention to the recovery of the yachting infrastructure. Obviously, we need circumstances that will allow us to adequately provision with food and fuel in a safe environment for the Pilots’ Discretion and her crew if we are to turn her north towards the United States this cruising season. Additional concerns include the ability to leave the Pilots’ Discretion in a safe and suitable environment should we need to fly back home for any reason, which necessarily requires  access to operational airports with flights. Access to competent medical care, and dockside electricity and water are also logistical concerns as we plot our course north. We have found the following sites helpful in monitoring Caribbean wide recovery efforts:

  • Sailors Helping Sailors providing up-to-date information on port status and opportunities to volunteer in rebuilding efforts across the Caribbean;
  • Sailors Unite – Caribbean Comeback A guide to what is open and available in British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and St. Marteen/St. Martin, including airports, transportation, restaurants, hotels, provisioning, marketing and shops;
  • ExplorerChartbooks – includes Turks and Caicos Marinas Report;
  • Noonsite – provides information by anchorage or by island, so sailors can plan their cruising in the Caribbean with an eye to appropriate behavior and precautions wherever they decide to go; and
  • Caribbean Safety and Security Net: “Know before you go” safety and security updates throughout the Caribbean.

We will continue to update the above list and our blog as we obtain additional information when we proceed north. If anyone viewing this has additional resources that will keep mariners updated, please send them to us in the comments section below and we will add them to this list or include in future updates.

Our current evaluation is that the islands require a little more time to deal with the lingering devastation but they are getting closer everyday. We do believe that they will be in a strong position to welcome cruisers this coming cruising season. In fact, this may represent an opportunity to see what a jewel the Caribbean islands can be when not overrun with crowds. We are confident that our Caribbean friends will have the welcome mat out for all cruisers that choose to make this season the one that they cast off and set a course for the trip of their dreams.

PREPARATIONS

Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia - Aerial

Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia – Aerial

As for the preparations to get underway for the Pilots’ Discretion, we are reporting good progress. There are a significant number of details that have to be addressed prior to getting underway. The good news for us is that we are currently located at the IGY Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia where we have all of the services we require to ready our vessel. We would be remiss if we did not publicly thank Mr. Sean Devaux, General Manager of the Rodney Bay Marina for all of the assistance he has provided us as we prepare to head north. Our initial commitment to him was that we would be staying at his facility through September 2017. As the hurricane season devastation to our north became clear, it was initially impossible to determine when it would be prudent to depart. Sean has been great, he has told us that we can stay as long as necessary without a long term commitment. Additionally, he has worked hard to provide us will real time status updates of all of the marina facilities along our route north, even if those facilities are not a part of his organization (Rodney Bay Marina is part of the international marina group known as IGY). We are currently coordinating our annual engine and systems maintenance and that should be complete shortly.

EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) Maintenance

Solutions One Maritme, L.L.C., Tampa, FL

Solutions One Maritme, L.L.C., Tampa, FL

One component of our systems preparation is ensuring that our life vests, life raft and all of our emergency signaling systems are current and fully functional. This is normally a routine inspection but this year we got quite a surprise. We have an ACR EPIRB (emergency position indicating radio beacon – a device that includes a GPS to determine our exact location and a satellite communication system to notify rescue personnel in the event we need assistance). We bought the unit new just before we left on our trip. Each time we get underway, we run the unit through a self test program to ensure it is fully operational. It has always past each of those tests without fail. On our most recent trip back to Florida we elected to have the unit recertified due to calendar age.

EPIRB

EPIRB

Solutions One Maritme, L.L.C., Tampa, FL

Solutions One Maritme, L.L.C., Tampa, FL

After researching facilities that are certified to service maritime rescue equipment, we elected to have the folks at Solution One Maritime, LLC in Tampa look over our unit. Expecting nothing much more than an administrative paperwork exercise, we were left very surprised when we got a call from Yusri Jadallah, the Managing Director for Solution One. He  explained to me that he had found a very small leak in the case that protects the electronics and that he was certain that had the unit been deployed in an actual emergency at sea, the electronics would have likely failed due to exposure to salt water. He went further to explain that ACR would repair the unit under warranty but their estimated turn time would likely be 4-6 weeks. Yusri told me that he understood that the long turn time would create scheduling problems for our crew and as a result he offered us a brand new unit to utilize for as long as it takes to get our own unit back. As far as we are concerned, the folks at Solution One have gone way above and beyond to ensure that our family is safe and our trip uninterrupted. We have utilized other sources in the past for our emergency equipment needs but from now on, Solution One is our vendor of choice for our life raft, life vest and emergency electronics needs.

As we look forward to our fourth cruising season, we also reflect upon all that we have to be thankful for this past year, including time spent with family and friends, good health and ongoing adventures. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the spectacular time we had spending Thanksgiving Day last week in Marigot Bay with dear friends, both old and new.

Post-Thanksgiving Day Lunch Bunch

Post-Thanksgiving Day Lunch Bunch

 

MOVIE TRAILER – by Ronan(10) and Ryan (11)

Ronan (10) and Ryan (11) made a “movie trailer” for our Caribbean cruising adventures. We added it to our “VIDEOS” page at: https://pilotsdiscretion.com/videos/. We are also sharing it here, below. I think we found our new videographers! They had a lot of fun making it. We hope you enjoy watching it! Click on the below image to play.

We have also created a dedicated YouTube channel  where we have compiled the videos from our blog, and uploaded additional videos from our journey.  To view the videos click on the link below (or copy and paste into browser):

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC94z5hCIrRiEvY8MTJegTbA.

Pet Import Requirements in the Caribbean – by Theresa

Patton driving the dinghy

Patton driving the dinghy

We have been receiving a lot of inquiries through our site recently about the customs and immigration issues associated with bringing our Cocker Spaniel “Patton” along with us as we have cruised throughout the Caribbean. As such, we have updated Patton’s page to include a compilation of helpful contact details and information for various island nations that we have visited in the Caribbean over the last year and a half (2014 – 2016). For those interested in cruising the Caribbean with their four legged friends check out Patton’s page under the “About Us – Patton – Customs and Immigration” on the header above or visit:  https://pilotsdiscretion.com/about/patton/customs-and-immigration-issues-specific-to-bringing-patton-along/ or send us a reply message below.

Cane Garden Bay, British Virgin Islands

Mad Dash for the British Virgin Islands, 9 Countries in 6 Days – by Randy

Underway

Underway

We had a great time in St. Lucia, we got a lot accomplished and look forward to returning in the future. Unfortunately, the various delays that we encountered in St. Lucia, waiting on parts and technicians left us with our scheduling backs against the wall. We had plans for meeting our good friends Mike Cleary, Bridget Finnegan, and Mike’s daughter Madison in the BVIs. They had a Sunsail sailboat chartered in Tortola beginning on February 19, so when we literally dropped the solar panel technician on the fuel dock in St. Lucia on the morning of February 13th, we knew we had some serious real estate to cover to be 350 miles north in just six days. During our dash north we cruised through the territorial waters of St. Lucia, Martinique, Dominica, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, St. Kitts, Nevis, Statia, St. Marteen and finally the British Virgin Islands. Wow, I am tired just writing about it.

Most of the trip was run in seas of 4-6 ft, with a few periods of 8-9 ft, and even a day with the Caribbean Sea as smooth as a small mountain lake. Our speed averaged 8-10 knots but when we had the opportunity, we ran as high as 25 knots to keep the scenery moving. We have visited all of the countries we just mentioned during our trip south last year so although we are disappointed that we had to hustle through these countries to meet our friends, it was worth it to get to be in the BVI with friends that are virtually like family to us.

Norman Island (The Bight) and North Gorda Soud

Bridget, Madison & Mike, Bubbly Pool, Jost Van Dyke, BVI

Bridget, Madison & Mike, Bubbly Pool, Jost Van Dyke, BVI

Once in the BVI we began our trip by heading off to the Bight on Norman island. A mandatory stop at the infamous Willie T floating bar and grill was followed by a trip to Gorda Sound, Virgin Gorda, and Jost Van Dyke.

We followed that up with a two day trip to Anegada, then over to Marina Cay and The Baths.

Anegada

Marina Cay

The Baths

After that whirlwind, we capped the Cleary clan’s trip to the BVI by meeting our cruising friends Jeff and Izzy Rogers for an evening of good food, conversation and music in one of our favorite spots in the BVI, Cane Garden Bay.

Cane Garden Bay, British Virgin Islands

Cane Garden Bay, British Virgin Islands

Our friends have gone home and it is time for our adventure to continue. It occurs to me that this nomad lifestyle works well for our family. I have an idea, I think we should keep this trip going. We will discuss it at dinner tonight and I will get back to you. For now, keep following our progress as our  life adventure continues …

Approaching St. Lucia Piton anchorage

Dominica, Martinique & St Lucia – by Randy

DOMINICA

Ryan supervising refueling at Riveiera Sens, Guadeloupe

Ryan supervising refueling at Riveiera Sens, Guadeloupe

After departing Guadeloupe, we proceeded south to the island nation of Dominica. With under two weeks to go before our insurance induced requirement to be in Grenada, we are not getting to spend as much time as we would like in each of these enchanted islands. We will spend more time exploring on our return trip north after hurricane season. With that said, we did get to spend a wonderful evening anchored in Prince Rupert Bay on the northwest coast of Dominica. There is a professional organization in the town of Portsmouth known as PAYS (Portsmouth Association for Yacht Security) that provides everything from taxi and laundry services to divers, guides and nighttime anchorage security for visiting yachts. The night that we arrived we were greeted by several PAYS boat boys who invited us to a beachfront barbeque for visiting boats. There were probably fifty yachts at anchor in the harbor. Dominica is a large volcanic island with rivers, mountains and rainforests and we really look forward to exploring it more completely in the future but for now, one night was all we had and at daybreak we were underway to our next country of Martinique.

MARTINIQUE

Fort de France, Martinique

Fort de France, Martinique

Our stop in Martinique took place in the captial city of Ft. de France. Ft de France is probably the most cosmopolitan city in the Caribbean, with elements of both ancient and modern architecture. A beautiful waterfront city that is heavily geared towards the maritime industry. Martinique is a colony of France and as such it has a highly developed infrastucture complete with government built dinghy docks, excellent roads and parks and almost anything a visiting yacht could need within easy reach.

The afternoon that we arrived there were about 10 boats anchored in front of the town dock at the base of the 17th Century French Fort. We enjoyed dinner aboard and marvelled at the good fortune to have found such a picturesque and tranquil anchorage.

 

Fort de France, Martinique

Fort de France, Martinique

The next day our tranquility was abruptly interrupted when approximately 90 sailing catamarans arrived in our anchorage. It turns out that they were part of a trans Caribbean rally and they were all in a serious partying mode. Most of the sailors were well qualified and did a good job of securing their boats in the anchorage. That said, given the sheer number of boats, we still got to spend most of the afternoon fending off boats that were dragging their anchor or had just gotten too close to us and would swing into our anchoring arc creating a hazard for both themselves and the Pilot’s Discretion.

ST. LUCIA

Approaching St. Lucia Piton anchorage

Approaching St. Lucia Piton anchorage

Happily, it was time for us to move on and our next stop will surely go down as one of my favorites. We headed south for St Lucia with the intention of spending the night in the sheltered bay at Marigot. The weather was perfect for our passage to St. Lucia and when we were abeam Marigot Bay we elected to continue on to the Southern tip of St Lucia so that we could anchor in the shadow of the Pitons. The Pitons are two dramatic volcanic peaks that are some of the most photographed geographical features in the Caribbean. The bay in front of them has a half dozen mooring balls (anchoring is both prohibited by statute and operationally impractical). We picked up a mooring ball about 50 yards offshore in front of the 5 star resort known as the Jalousie Plantation. Given our close proximity to shore we could not believe the depth of the deep blue water. Our three independent depth sounders confirmed we were in 984′ of water.

The image of the Pilots’ Discretion moored in front of the Pitons was really one of those pinch me moments when we were all amazed by the amazing experience that is our journey.