Tag Archives: St. Bart

Hurricane Irma (photo from Marine Weather Center's post)

HURRICANE IRMA – 2017 – by Theresa

First, thank you, to everyone, for reaching out to see how Pilots’ Discretion, and her crew, fared as Hurricane Irma tracked through the Caribbean. In preparation for the storm and in accordance with our hurricane plan, we spider tied Pilots’ Discretion, with doubled lines, in a double slip, on a floating dock, alone with no other boats, in St. Lucia. Irma was set to track north of St. Lucia, however, to be on the safe side, we left the boat in St. Lucia and flew to Florida to stay out of harms way!

As predicted, Hurricane Irma passed north of St. Lucia. We were incredibly grateful to learn that our pre-hurricane preparations were sufficient, and that St. Lucia was spared from the ferocity of the storm. The island received some rain and wind from the outer bands of the storm, but on the whole, the island and our boat, weathered the storm and are fine.

Having flown to Florida, we then holed up with family in Spring Hill, just north of Tampa, on the west coast of Florida. Having just gone through the hurricane preparations drill in St. Lucia our crew was ready and able to  assist with preparations for the “high impact” potential hit headed for our relatives in Spring Hill.

We listened to reports, and observed, painfully, the pictures of the devastation from the direct hits on Barbuda, St. Barthélemy (St. Bart), St. Maarten/St. Martin, Anguilla, Antigua, the British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. We have travelled to all of these islands in previous cruising seasons, and our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by the storm.

Paraquita Bay, British Virgin Islands (Before and After)

Nanny Cay Marina, British Virgin Islands, post hurricane Irma, 2017

Isleta Marina, Fajardo, Puerto Rico, post hurricane Irma, Sept. 2017

Foxy’s before (2016) and after (2017)

Forecasted Track for Hurricane Irma, Sept. 7, 2017

Forecasted Track for Hurricane Irma originally had her skirting up the east coast of Florida, Sept. 7, 2017

In Florida, the original forecasts had the storm tracking up the east coast. Slowly, the storm edged west with the later predictions indicating she would run up the middle of the Florida peninsula. Finally, within the last day prior to Florida landfall, the forecast consensus had Irma tracking up the west coast of Florida. We weathered the storm just north of Tampa. The eye passed just to our east during the middle of the night. We were extremely fortunate that a slight variation in the actual track of the storm placed us on the weak side of the circulation at the same time the storm was beginning to fall apart. We had a few hours of heavy rains accompanied by gusty winds mostly in the 40 knot range. Like most, we lost power and had a few downed trees to deal with but for the most part we came through the storm wiser for the experience but without taking any direct hits. We are all very aware of the potential devastation that just barely sidestepped us.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to all those affected by the storm. Florida, the islands, and those living and cruising in Florida and the Caribbean islands, are a resilient bunch. Communities have already banded together to address immediate needs and start the lengthy rebuilding process. Click here for additional photos, and to see several prominent business owners (including the infamous Soggy Dollar, Foxy’s, Corsairs, Willie T’s) who have already vowed to rebuild!

Patton, Loblolly Beach, Anegada, BVI

Happy 15th Birthday Patton! – by Randy

imageYesterday was a pretty important day aboard the Pilots’ Discretion. Patton, our intrepid, world traveling Cocker Spaniel turned fifteen (15) years old. Way back when we initially left the comfort zone of our home marina in Tarpon Springs, Florida (2 and 1/2 years ago) we had some concerns with how well our then 12 year old buddy would adapt to a life at sea. Our concerns were completely unfounded. Patton is the first one up every morning and the last one to turn in each night after surveying the boat to assure himself that the entire crew is accounted for.Patton Kindle

Patton crew

Patton crew

He loves excursions in the dinghy and he has his favorite spot picked out under the Captain’s helm chair for long passages.

Patton driving the dinghy in the BVIs

Patton driving the dinghy in the BVIs

Randy & Patton in front of Tthe Indians, B.V.I.

Randy & Patton in front of the Indians, B.V.I.

The story would not be complete without acknowledging there have been some concessions made due to the decision to cruise with Patton. We do not patronize places along the way that are not dog friendly. We have on rare occasions had more difficulty clearing immigration as a result of declaring Patton as part of our crew but all in all, he has been a very positive addition to our crew and we would not consider having it any other way.

Cable Car, Loma Isabel de Torres, Dominican Reupblic

Cable Car, Loma Isabel de Torres, Dominican Republic

 

For those of you following our blog who are not dog people, I am sure you just scratch your head when you see me acting like a very proud papa when talking about Patton. To the dog people following us, I know that I need to say no more.

Happy birthday Patton, the crew of the Pilots’ Discretion loves you❤️

Patton enjoying the sunset from The Bight, Norman Island, B.V.I.

Patton enjoying the sunset from The Bight, Norman Island, B.V.I.

 

Patton enjoying touring the fort, Gustavia, St. Bart

St. MARTIN & ST. BART (by Theresa)

ST. MARTIN

Ronan, Theresa, and Ryan, Marigot Bay, St. Martin

Ronan, Theresa, and Ryan, Marigot Bay, St. Martin

After resolving the boys passport issues in PuertoRico, we flew back to St. Martin to rejoin Randy, Patton and the boat at Fort Louis Marina. Fort Louis Marina is a secure and sheltered Marina located in the shadows of the ruins of Fort Louis. A short hike to the fort is rewarded with breathtaking views of Marigot Bay and the surrounding area. There are dozens of shops and restaurants, as well as a modern mall, all within walking distance to the Marina. You can also dinghy into the lagoon and cross over to the Dutch side of the island to access a sizeable Budget Marine.

Spot the Pilots Discretion, Marigot Bay, St. Martin

Spot the Pilots Discretion, Marigot Bay, St. Martin

ST. BART

Randy with Patton in his jet pack, ready to go hiking in St. Bart

Randy with Patton in his jet pack, ready to go hiking in St. Bart

After departing St. Martin, we cruised to Columbier Bay, St. Barthelemy (St. Bart), where we enjoyed hiking to the various forts in Gustavia. At 14 years old, Patton is, not surprisingly, less enthusiastic about long hikes than he once was. With that said, in deference to his namesake, Patton would not want to miss touring the forts with his family. As such, we gave him a lift in his “Snoozer” dog backpack carrier. Patton seemed to enjoy the elevated view from what Ryan and Ronan refer to as his “jet pack,” and the views were indeed stunning.

 

Patton hiking the hill with Randy on his back ;-)

Patton hiking the hill with Randy on his back 😉

 

Gustavia, St. Bart

Gustavia, St. Bart

Patton enjoying touring the fort, Gustavia, St. Bart

Patton enjoying touring the fort, Gustavia, St. Bart

Gustavia hike, St. Bart

Gustavia hike, St. Bart

Randy, Ronan & Ryan, St. Bart

Randy, Ronan & Ryan, St. Bart

Our next intended stops are St. Kitts & Nevis, and Antigua. We will post additional updates from there as time and internet allows.

Statia courtesy flag

St. Bart, Statia and now the push for Grenada

Anse de Columbier Bay, St. Bart

Anse de Columbier Bay, St. Bart

After enjoying our visit to St. Martin, we have moved along to explore some of the other Leeward Islands. Our first stop was beautiful St. Barthelemy (a.k.a. St. Bart). Long known as an exotic island playground for the rich and famous, we found it to also have a unique and welcoming small island feel. Our first night, we anchored in the harbor in front of Gustavia, St. Bart’s main town. Clearing immigration was a snap, done entirely online. Once cleared in, we explored the town and found a charming, sparkling clean town with dozens of restaurants and a row of high end designer stores that rival those found in Manhatten.  Although the town is charming,  we found the harbor in front of it to be very rolly with large swells coming in off the Caribbean Sea.  As a result, we elected to move the Pilots’ Discretion a few miles to the north to Anse de Colombier. Anse de Columbier is a sheltered bay

Anse de Columbier, St. Bart

Anse de Columbier, St. Bart

that at one time was owned by the Rockefeller family. The Rockefeller’s former home still sits atop the hill overlooking the bay. Although the Rockefeller home has in recent years fallen into a state of disrepair, they were kind enough to leave behind a beautiful stone dock that Patton found more than adequate for his nightly dinghy trips ashore.

After several days in St. Bart, we pressed on to St. Eustatius (a.k.a. Statia), a small volcanic island with a significant historical past. Long an important shipping port for the Dutch Caribbean, Statia is also famous for being the first foreign government to officially recognize the legitimacy of the fledgling democracy of the United States in 1776.

Quill volcano, St Eustatius

Quill volcano, St Eustatius

In addition to it’s historical significance, Statia is a beautiful island made up of five, now dormant volcanoes, the largest of which is the Quill volcano. It is truly incredible that the boys  were literally reading about the origins of volcanoes in their homeschool curriculum one day and hiking up the Quill to take a photos of the volcano’s crater the next.

We have thoroughly enjoyed our stay in historic Statia but the weather window clock is ticking and necessarily we must begin our final push towards Greanada tomorrow morning. We will be transitting waters offshore of St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat enroute to Guadeloupe. From Guadeloupe we will proceed to the French island of Martinique and finally the Grenadines before arriving at our hurricane season home marina in Grenada.