(Joel M Snyder, June/2004)
We board a Delta flight at 6AM, taking a couple of first class seats. Atlanta is our home for 5 hours, during which we go to a TGI Fridays for lunch. We have the unique experience (for me) of having to put our names on a waiting list and come back 20 minutes later to eat at an Airport restaurant. This is a testament to how bad the choices are at Atlanta. 6 concourses and this is possibly the best restaurant there! Arriving late in Puerto Rico, we head for the vile Radisson Ambassador and crash.
We are scheduled to get up early, fly the 100 miles to St. Martin, and join the crew. A short 8AM, 40 minute flight from Puerto Rico to St. Martin turns, via the amazing errors of American Airlines, into a 12-hour ordeal. Many phone calls are made; many people are highly frustrated. In the airport, we watch the Belmont Stakes where Smarty Jones fails to earn the Triple Crown. No one is happy. The less said about the food, the better. We arrive in St. Martin at 11:30 PM instead of 9:05 AM.
When we arrive in St. Martin, we board Sailing Ship Zelkova, a 52-foot long, 5-bedroom monster. This boat has been automated beyond all reason: in addition to separate heads for each bedroom and air conditioners, it has a microwave oven. Boats should not have microwaves. Some of the automation, however, is a success: the boat has a GPS and autopilot, both linked to each other, eliminating one of the major bits of tedium in any sailing trip: trying to keep the boat headed in the same direction for hours at a time.
To introduce our crew, from left to right: Joel, Dale, Jan, Don (also known as Captain Daddy) and Barbara. All Trumbos but me: this is a family cruise.
We decide to go to Saba (new info: pronounced S-ay-ba, not S-ah-ba) for diving and touring and this consumes the whole day. Rather than sail there, the logistics are such that we have to take a ferry. So up at 6:30 AM, to the ferry dock at 8, only to learn that we’ve been faked out and the ferry doesn’t leave until 9:15 AM. So we mill around, get some coffee, and meet Marty from Montreal, who will be diving with us. The ferry (“Edge II”) is $54 each (a negotiated 10% discount) round trip (no extra charge for sea sickness; it’s included in the price), and the dives are $90 for a two-tank boat dive. With the $3/dive/person marine park fee, $8 lunch, $8/tank nitrox fee, and tip, we’re paying about $90 a dive. Ouch!
Jan, Dale, and I don’t get to see Saba (Don and Barbara take a tour), but it is clearly a hard place to get around. The harbor is being renovated and is not very attractive. Diving sites, however, are close because the island is tiny. Our longest boat ride is about 10 minutes, and all the island moorings are within 15 minutes of the harbor.
We dive with Sea Saba, a jovial crew of two from the UK on the boat who joke their way through the whole thing. Although expensive, they’re serious about safety, as one stays with the boat while the other goes down with us. Our first dive, to Lou’s Ladder, is very nice. Second, to Man’o’War, is much better. Because of a splitting headache and seasickness, I don’t really enjoy either that much. However, if given the chance to go back to Man’o’War, I definitely would do it.
Dinner is our first on the boat. We were supposed to provision the boat the first morning, but because of the Day 1 Fracas, we have limited supplies. Barbara proposes a stir-fry of onion, mushrooms, green pepper, and sausage. I add anchovies, tomato paste, chervil, garlic, and pepper. Sauté with virgin olive oil each ingredient in turn over the highest heat possible; serve immediately. For a salad, we put together some fresh tomatoes, sliced, with dried basil, salt, and olive oil. The tomatoes, unfortunately, are disappointing: no better than what we get in Tucson. For dessert, Barbara has thoughtfully grabbed some chocolate chip cookies. Gin flows. We are just beginning to relax.
6-June-2004, dive #188: “Lou’s Ladder (Saba, Netherlands Antilles).” 111 feet for 56 minutes on EAN32. Jan writes: “Divemaster Guy (Scotsman) and Steve (Brit) from Sea Saba. Long fingers of lava form parallel gullies to 100 ft. Guy led a medium-fast cruise to bottom at about 90 ft. and up. The sponges here are populous, occasional giant vases, huge variety. Steep slope but not a wall. Plenty, plenty of fish, durgons, vibrant small society. Lots of coneys, yellow wrasses, 2 morays, 1 large lobster. Some caves showed a giant yellowtail snapper. Beautiful orange yellow & green sponges, some perfectly round and grapefruit-sized. Puffers, filefish, angels; major sergeant-major scene.”
6-June-2004, dive #189: “Man’O’War (Saba, Netherlands Antilles).” 73 feet for 56 minutes on EAN32. Jan writes: “Wow. Just wow! Fish swarming everywhere. 2 steep pinnacles to 70’ jam-packed with sponges of every size and color and corals in between. Black wire coral at 50’. Saw a baby turtle, durgons, and jacks hovering, grunts and HUGE French angelfish. Guy found a spotted snake eel buried in sand to its gills. Blue runners strafe you. Bigeyes eyeball you from their chosen spots. This was a vertical wall in many places. Lots of ups and downs, cuts, gullies, caves, overhangs, every square meter occupied. Coneys. Basselets. Pyramid butterflyfish. Etc. etc. etc.”
In the morning, Barb, Jan and I make a mad dash into town to provision this boat so that we can actually do something with it besides sit at dock. We run to Food World in St. Martin, where the selection is pretty good (a bit pedestrian, but pedestrian is OK for things like flour and milk) and eschew a fairly good looking produce section in favor of Le Grand Marche’, which is recommended as an excellent place to provision. Well, yes, sort of, it has LOTS of things, but the produce is weak (at best) and the fresh meat and fish section is virtually nonexistent. I cannot, for example, buy 5 steaks because they don’t have that many. When it comes to frozen food, though, there is more than adequate supply of whatever you want, ranging from three brands of chicken (including Sanderson Farms, our current favorite) to goat, with everything in between. I get chicken and hamburger, plus some very very very thin pork chops and frozen shrimp. The wine section is more interesting, but if I had to do it over again, I’d get my produce at Food World. The open-air market in Marigot is interesting, but the traffic is so overwhelming that we do not even attempt it.
On the way back, I spot a rib joint (between the KFC and the Shell station across from Le Grand Marche’) and we pick up lunch supplies, grand total of $16 for the five of us, including dessert and (turns out) sufficient BBQ pork and chicken to also act as salad meat the next day.
Back at the boat, Dale & Don have beaten up the Moorings about minor problems and also negotiated dive tanks: $56 each tank, full, for the two weeks. We get beaten up on lead: they charge “per diver” instead of “per pound,” and so we pay for 5 divers when we could have gotten away with 3 at $14 each. Pfah. Dale manages to put the tanks into the locker I had declared “full” with emergency life raft as well as the extra cabin: he shares his sister’s innate ability to pack things tightly. We get 8 tanks.
The Moorings gets us on our way and we head to Tintemarre, a small spot off of St. Martin known as a good lunch hook. The initial operation of the boat is a bit rough, but crew under command of the Tres Amigos captains does a fine job. At lunch, we plow through the BBQ pork and chicken, plus a green salad (lettuce, tomatoes, freshly sliced Italian Parmesan) and finish with plantains baked in a honey sauce, a tiny bit gooey, not overly sweet, and a good finish. With lunch, a light Champagne.
One of the goals of this trip is to have Jan learn more how to captain, so whenever possible, Dale & Don let her drive and assist in the planning. As Captain, Jan does a pretty good job.
Afternoon sail takes us to Grand Case, officially on the French side of the island. Grand Case, the first of many French ports, is a beautiful way to start our journey. A small town, it appears across the water to look utterly charming.
We should have gone in for dinner---the main drag, such as it is, has about 20 restaurants in it. But instead I cook pork chops. Marinade the pork chops in the juice of 3 limes, generous splash of olive oil, 2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp oregano, 2 garlic cloves, and a heady shake of ground chilies we brought from Tucson. Add pepper, salt, and let sit all afternoon. On the grill, about 5 minutes per side (these are thin). Complement with fresh baked bread and a radish & cucumber salad. Slice halved, seeded, peeled cucumbers into small pieces, and add a half-dozen radishes, sliced very thin, a clove of garlic, and a handful of mint (chopped). Dress with an 1/8 cup olive oil, 1 cup yogurt, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, and some vinegar and salt. Serve soon, as the salad will get watery from the cucumbers. A burgundy complements this nicely.
For dessert, huge delicious red grapes served chilled with Graham’s “Six Grapes” port.
First thing in the morning I insist on a shore party to Grand Case. It is even more charming in the light of morning than the evening before.
The town is waking up at 9 AM. Most restaurants shuttered, with breakfast joints doing a slow business.
Barbara cannot resist the pain chocolat and some other twisted dough baked with chocolate inside and buys a bag, passing out pain chocolat as we walk down the street. The main drag is not too heavily trafficked---a one-lane road, suitable for cars and the inevitable minibuses acting as ad-hoc cabs, bringing people from their homes “downtown” to start the day. The walk takes all of 20 minutes, then back on the beach. Jan and I duck into a supermarket and pick up some limes, lemons, a nice looking cheese (“… made from mountain milk …”) and a chocolate bar for dessert one night. Also 3 bags of ice, 2 for the cockpit and one for the fridge. I think that is about our “run rate,” 3 bags per day. We now know how often we have to meet civilization (or do without blender drinks).
The sail to Ile Fourchue is brisk. Main reefed and jib full out, Zelkova does a snappy 9 knots once we hit open water. There is a great deal of fiddling with GPSes to get us to an arbitrary point so that we don’t have to touch the course, but once we hit that point, the hour-and-a-half sail does us good. At Ile Fourchue, the anchorage is so nice that Dale & Don suggest spending the night here instead of going on to St. Barth. Jan agrees, perhaps under duress.
Lunch is green salad, with smoked mozzarella, Gouda, leftover BBQ pork and chicken, fresh lettuce, celery and carrot. For dessert, bananas and Barbara surprises us with the chocolate filled twists she bought that morning.
After lunch, I throw together a gazpacho for dinner that night to rest and relax. Two cups of beef stock mixed with a can of tomatoes (drained), three fresh tomatoes (all we have), lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, a dot of chili pepper, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, an onion, a generous handful of fresh cilantro, some garlic, and a green pepper.
Don & Barbara go snorkeling while Jan, Dale, and I go diving. The site is incredibly full of interesting fish. An octopus looks like a rock, but then obligingly displays his full 24” webbed body for Dale when the camera comes out. A shark hurries away, but barracuda circle in thin formation. The urchins are not out in force, but more so than at Saba. A huge spiny lobster was advertising for dinner somewhere, not willing to back into his cave, curious, as I’ve never seen a lobster be. Lots of sergeant majors were guarding their egg masses, while gangs of blue tangs came at them, 6 or 8 at a time, to get a snack, like little fishy juvenile delinquents. I did my part to defend, but in the end, the fish get the best of us and have their caviar treats.
For dinner, we have the gazpacho with fresh garlic bread, warm from the oven, and a cheese and fruit plate (an incredible English cheddar, which tells us what cheddar is supposed to be, plus a creamy French cheese and a more solid tasty one from Normandy) with fresh oranges, grapes, and some dried apricots. The St. Estephe 2001 is tasty, lightly chilled. I try a Monecristo #2, but the wind gets the best of me. We finish the Port.
8-June-2004, dive #190: “Ile Fourchue (St. Barth).” 62 feet for 72 minutes on air. Joel writes: “Let’s start with about a billion sergeant majors, all guarding eggs. Bands of blue tangs marauding the egg masses like fishy juvenile delinquents. Around the edges bushels of barracudas, all looking very official. And large. A few urchins and LOTS of hermit crabs, all inhabiting slightly used mid-sized conch shells. Jan found a huge lobster at 21ft, unwilling to back up. I found a 24” octopus in a stroke of good luck and it displayed nicely for us. Lots of cleaning stations occupied by groupers and mantis shrimp climbing in, around, and over them. The shark was either nurse or black-tip, but not interested in a lot of discussions. 2 turtles, about 24”. Good site---would be nice at night to see shells out.”
We wake up to a pleasant day and set sail for Pt. Columbier, a bay on the “other side” of St. Barth. Unusually, and unlike most of our stops on the trip, this one has no town attached---it’s just a nice anchorage. From Ile Fourchue, it’s a short ride to Pt. Columbier, but up-wind, so there is a great deal of jib jockeying going on. The main is reefed at its second reef point and swings back and forth happily every time the captain calls “hard a-lee,” but the jib has to be wound and unwound, ground and unground, each time. After four tacks, we are pointed correctly into the bay and sail in to a pleasant stop.
Here you can see Don and Barbara on one of the many tacks: grind the sail tight, as Captain Jan calls for more speed.
Pt. Columbier is a darling little bay, with a bit of company, but otherwise with that otherworldly feeling you have of being somewhere away from everyone else.
Lunch is a simple salad of lettuce, arugula, fresh buffalo-milk mozzarella, Thai tuna (not as good as the Spanish and Italian kinds), green olives, and an olive oil and vinegar dressing. A bit of fruit for dessert and we are ready for our daily hike, to Flamands Beach.
The walk is described as a 30-minute challenging hike, and
It’s a footpath carved into the side of the island, about 150 feet above the water, and you get views of Columbier, from above as well as a second smaller bay and finally the Flamands Beach. Huge, at least 1/2 mile long. Deep, at least 300 feet deep … and there’s no one on it. Well, one young lady, smack-dab in the middle, working on her topless tan.
A couple enters the beach as we walk by, tripling the population. June is a good time to come to St. Barth. We continue on and learn that, indeed, the guidebooks have not lied: the island is closed on Wednesdays after noon. We pass a boulongerie/epicerie and walk a bit further, passing an enormous pile of lobster traps, until I spot a sign for Le Restaurant “La Langouste.” The theme is obvious. We step to the Hotel Baie des Anges, a charming and beautifully kept property, for a drink. No wonder it’s in good condition: the whole place was destroyed in 1995. At the courtyard overlooking the bay we order Carib beers (4 Euro each) and recover from our walk. For such a hot day, things have suddenly gotten very civilized-feeling. But that’s St. Barth.
Here I am, beginning to relax into the right state of vacation attitude.
After a respectful interval, we return via the same path to Zelkova.
Jan, Dale, and I then go for a dive off a Pt. Columbier site. We take the dinghy and drop into 60 feet of water, a bit murky because it is outside the bay, and do a wonderful dive. The lobster theme is clear: under one rock, I spot four huge specimens. After inspecting herself, Jan declares there to be five. Look in a hole, and there will be a lobster waiting for sunset to roam about.
For dinner, we have ginger marinated chicken. The frozen chicken assortment is wide in the Caribbean, and I marinate chicken leg/thighs in ginger, garlic, rum, olive oil, a bit of sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and the juice of three limes. Grilled for 30 minutes and frequently marinated, they are delicious. However, our BBQ grill is a bit deficient in the heat, and we are forced to microwave them for 5 minutes at the end. Next time, start them hot in the microwave and finish them on the grill. Two extras will serve for lunch. We also grill yellow summer squash, sprinkled with olive oil, herbes d’Provence, salt, and pepper. While at the kitchen, I make a mushroom sauté: take as much butter as you can stand and a pound and a half of mushrooms, coarsely chopped, and stir it all over high heat. As the mushrooms give off water, let them continue to cook down. When the sauce is becoming scarce, pour in some rum and milk and let it cook down. Repeat the rum and milk steps as long as you have patience for (perhaps 3 times is enough) and you’ll end up with a thick sauce that coats the mushrooms beautifully. There were no leftovers. For dessert, grilled pineapple: cut into 1” thick rounds, washed with butter and sugar (brown sugar would have been better), these grill up nicely in about 10 minutes. Make sure to clean the grill between the chicken and the pineapple or you’ll have chicken-flavored pineapple! A modest French Rose wine accompanies.
9-June-2004, dive #191: “Tombant de Columbier (Wall), Anse de Columbier, St. Barth, FWI).” 75 feet for 76 minutes on air. Joel writes: “Look under a rock and you’ll see a lobster---or 2, 3, 4, or in one case, 5! Big ones, too. The dive site was in 60 ft. of water. A nice wall/pinnacle with stuff to see at all depths. As we entered, I saw thousands of colonial cup corals, with some open. Flamingo tongues common on soft corals. I stared at a large spotted drum for a while---it defended its territory well. The trumpet fish were numerous in all colors. Many pairs of Creole wrasses---a larger, decorated, male and a more modest female---were on the reef at all depths. At 20ft, a pinnacle head was swarming with juvenile yellowtail damselfish; all neon blue spots an action. An easy dive with simple navigation.”
Plastic wine glasses
A decent vegetable peeler
A fry pan which is non-stick and doesn’t ruin omelettes
I was smart enough to bring my own knives.
The sail to St. Barth is very short, so short, in fact, that we don’t bother to put up the sails. Gustavia port is busy, even in off-season, and we have no idea of what to do. Don initially parks us at a dock next to some abandoned building---it looks like the bad part of town, and it is, for a town with no bad parts. Someone comes over and shoos us off and we head over to the normal place for such things. There is a hitch: boats must be stern-to, and Dale and Don are unwilling to try such a maneuver. We attach to the dock on our side, unload scuba tanks, and Jan & I, and the boat disappears while we are not looking.
I do some initial scouting to determine what is what and we decide to take the tanks over to the other side of the bay. A $12 taxi ride for 5 minutes of travel and we’re at Marine Service, where they happily fill our tanks for 9 EURO each. It’s expensive. We leave the tanks in their capable hands and head back over to the other side of Gustavia. We stop in a Lacoste store with huge “Sale” signs and determine that what they have on sale isn’t what I want. The colors, though, are amazing---about ten times what you get in a normal department store. I want one, but Jan looks at the 80 Euro price tag and waves me off. (Marine Service: 05 90 27 70 34, http://www.s-barths.com/marine.service, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Other dive shops on St. Barth: West Indies Dive (05 90 27 70 34, www.west-indies-dive.com, prices range from 50 Euro for a single dive and down), leaving at 8:45, 9:15, 11:30, and 2:30; Splash (06 90 54 75 98, www.splash.gp, email@example.com) which appears to care more about food than diving (“All day trip: departure 10:30 AM to Fourchue Island, scuba diving and snorkeling in the marine park, open bar, music, lunch in the bay with creole salad, marinated fish and sushi, Indian chicken and roast beef, coconut pie, brownies, coffee, back to Colombier Bay at Sunset); and Plongee Caraibes (06 90 54 66 14 [cell] and 05 90 27 55 94 [shop], www.plongee-caraibes.com, firstname.lastname@example.org) , departures 9AM, 11AM, 2:15PM, about the same price as West Indies Dive.
We miraculously run into the rest of our party (not… Gustavia is small and there is little place to get lost) and make a plan to meet back at the dock at noon with groceries in hand. Jan and I take off to see what is what and come up with a game plan over emergency sorbet rations (Jan: Coffee, Joel: Lemon): bakery for her (baguettes for dinner tomorrow, pain chocolat for breakfast later), groceries, deli, and wine shop for me. All goes well. Tom’s Food in Gustavia is not a gourmet market, but the produce has excellent variety and very good quality, the deli counter has an outstanding (by US standards) cheese selection, and even the fresh meats and fish are not bad---better, by far, than were in St. Martin. I am actually disappointed, because I loaded up on frozen foods in St. Martin and cannot take advantage of some of the nice stuff I see.
As I will later discover, French ports are the places to provision. Even the tiniest French town, Deshaies, is better than the larger English, Dutch, and independent nations. Lesson learned: the French know how to eat.
Back on Zelkova, we have a light lunch of green salad with the leftover ginger chicken, some hard salami from St. Martin, and the last of the Greek black olives. Barbara whips out her surprise from St. Barth: a box of chocolate-filled, chocolate covered éclairs. We each have one, and thus a nap is required.
At 5PM, I roust Jan and get her to dinghy me into town so that I can do a little email. We find the Internet café where they not only let you use terminals but also jack in directly. I stress out our webmail server by trying to clean out my 500+ messages, and at 6:30 we leave, most things taken care of. Jan goes back to pick everyone up, and I stop at a local bar for a pression of Stella Artois and a view of the “main drag” in Gustavia. We debate restaurants for a bit and settle, with a lot of encouragement from the next table, on Wall House. The walk over is short. Although Wall House is further from where we arrived than the Marine Service was, the 15-minute walk is all you need to see most of the quayside area of Gustavia.
Along the way, we notice a small motorboat parked on the street, in the shape of a jeep. Too good not to take a picture of.
Service and food at the Wall House is outstanding. (Wall House Restaurant, Franck and Denis, La Pointe, Gustavia, 0590 27 71 83, www.wall-house-stbarth.com) Barbara and I select the Menu for dinner, while Jan, Dale, and Don order a la carte. We all start with an amuse bouche of watermelon gazpacho, a fine tomato gazpacho thinned a bit and with bits of watermelon added. Jan and Dale order the warm goat cheese salad, a nightly special, goat cheese wrapped in filo pastry then baked and served next to a salad of greens dressed with balsamic vinaigrette. Barbara and I each have the Millefeuilles de fromage de chevre frais aux noix, coulis de tomate et curry (fresh goat cheese Napoleon with herbs, walnuts, and served on a tomato curry coulis): a thin shell of some sort covered with fresh goat cheese, then a second shell (no more than 2” diameter), topped with a walnut and some herb compote, all plated on top of a tomato sauce.
For the next course, Barbara and I both have a Gnocchi Maison “Al Pesto” (home-made pesto gnocchi): a very garlicky white sauce spread over three tubular gnocchi dumplings.
As a main course, Jan orders the lobster with lemon butter sauce: Langouste du vivier grillee, beurre citron. A huge lobster is cooked and brought out split. The waiter removes most of the tail shell and leaves the head, along with a pile of accoutrements needed to disassemble any remaining creature. The feet are so fat that they are worth the effort. Dale has Sea Bream a la broche (spitted and grilled on a rotisserie) with a Rouille Antillaise (Antillean lime/ginger mayonnaise dressing made with citron vert & gingembre). He declares it fantastic. Don orders the Lasagne de mignon de veau aux deux celeries, mousseline truffe et noix (veal tenderloin and two celery lasagna, with truffle and hazel nut mousseline). The presentation astonishes him: he was expecting a traditional lasagna, but the only relationship this has to lasagna is that it is a sandwich between three sheets of pasta, cut into a round. The veal and accompanying mushroom and nut mousseline fill the rest of the space, and Don dove in with relish. Barbara and I both had Cornets de Daurade “Pays” with Demi-Glace of Vinaigre Balsamique et Colombo. The Cornets are long tubes, about 5 inches long, which resemble nothing so much as fish won-tons. It is good, but perhaps a bit more crunch and deep fry than I would have liked for dinner. Still, the contrast between Gnocchi and Cornet is very nice. Well thought-out. We drink two bottles of 2003 French Rose (Porquerroles L’Alycastre).
For dessert, I have a delicious slice of Tarte Tatin, while Dale & Barbara (and Don and Jan) get a Ganache of Chocolate with Coffee Powder.
On return, the harbor is rolling seas and I sleep an unsettled night. Could also be all that rich food.
The cockpit cooler isn’t a cooler; it’s a large fiberglass bucket with no insulation at all. None of this “keeps hot things hot, cold things cold” nonsense; it’s just an ice eating machine. It would have been cheaper to buy a cooler to put in the cockpit than keep feeding it 1 or 2 bags of ice every day.
We have proscuitto & parmesan omlettes and pain chocolat for breakfast, and I curse the lack of a non-stick pan. Still, everyone eats. We run into St. Barth to do a quick email sync (the Centre @lizes is open 9 to 18:30 M/T/W, and the same with a lunch break 12:30 to 14:30 Thu/Fri/Sat; at 05 90 29 89 89, email@example.com) with a place that lets you jack in directly with Ethernet, and then head to the market to grab some cheese for lunch.
Once back onboard Zelkova, I throw together baguette sandwiches: grilled ham, emmenthaler cheese, lettuce, mayo, mustard, and some cut up fruit, all into the cockpit cooler. The “Cooler” should really be just called an ice-eating machine. It has no insulation, and we throw two bags of precious ice into it each day, which it happily grinds up and turns into cold water. The ambient temperature is in the high 80s, not too bad, but it is a struggle to keep things cold.
The sail is an easy one, although a bit bumpy. At 9 knots hull speed, Zelkova covers the distance in about 3 hours. Because it’s a straight shot, Jan engages the autopilot, synchronized to the GPS waypoints Dale has thoughtfully entered, and the entire thing runs itself---you don’t have to hold to a course, because the autopilot compensates for slop and drift!
We eat lunch underway and hit St. Eustatius when the sky is gray and the heat oppressive.
Taking a dingy to shore, we make our way to the “new town” up a very steep Slave Walk. The island is overgrown with vines, trees, flowers, and all manner of plants. Gorgeous!
The culture of St. Eustatius has a sleepy feel to it (although this may be a symptom of the heat and time of day more than the island) for the few minutes we are ashore.
It’s such a dramatic contrast from St. Barth, which is really a French seaside town transplanted to the Caribbean that we’re all a little shocked---this is the first “island” style island we’ve been to, with friendly people, walkable towns, and every commercial building making do for two or three careers. No one bothers to label the streets or even the buildings, because everyone knows what they are already. On a Friday near 6PM, things are winding down, but we have time to watch a future softball team making do with a large stick and empty 1-liter plastic water bottles.
For dinner, I make two favorites: skewered shrimp (marinate shrimp in olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and parsley, covered with a thin coating of bread crumbs for 2 hours; skewer, and cook for 5 minutes a side over a moderate fire) and grilled asparagus (roll asparagus in olive oil, salt, pepper; grill for 8 minutes, “shuffling” every 2 minutes; finish by tossing a lemon and orange over).
Dale has put out a stern anchor, so this harbor, which is quite rolly on our mooring, is fairly calm. I fall asleep during dinner and don’t get up until breakfast call at 7AM the next morning.
I rented a satellite phone because the web sites for all my GSM carriers said that there was not going to be any coverage. HAH! A pile of crap that is. I had fine GSM service on 12 days out of the 14 we were on the boat! Wasted $200 on that stupid satellite phone. In St. Barth, there were FOUR carriers to choose from. Satellite might be useful for blue-water sailing, but in the stretch from St. Martin to Guadeloupe, GSM works great. Even in Puerto Rico, which as recently as 9 months ago didn’t have any service when we were last through there, was great. Service everywhere, including the middle of the El Yunque Rain Forest. In fact, some times on the boat we got a call on the satellite phone and called back on the GSM cell phone because the coverage/quality was better.
We plan to dive today, so an 8AM visit to Golden Rock divers is in order. Melanie (?) is in the office and makes plans with us to dive today. They’ll pick us up from our boat, do a dive, then come back and drop us off for 30 minutes, and swing by to pick up the usual divers and Don and Barbara. We get back to the boat, set up our gear, and wait a short spell until the dive master, Glenn, shows up with the flat shaded panga he uses as a dive boat. Excellent in calm waters, it is a great dive boat if you don’t have to move very far---which you don’t in these waters.
Our first dive of the day is to Nursing Grounds, a spot where nurse sharks are known to rest. Unfortunately, all of the spots where the sharks would lay are filled with lobsters, lobsters, lobsters, so many that they’re fighting out in the open in front of us. A deep dive, starting at 60 and spending most of the time between 60 and 70, we run out of time before we run out of air, and Jan & I have to return with a minute of deco time to play on the line after a little over an hour. Rules in St. Eustatius are you must be within visual range of your guide at all times, and our guide is willing to let us be. He is probably bored, but that’s not really our problem and we offer him less of a challenge than most parties.
For the second dive, we make up for this laissez faire attitude. Don and Barbara get in the water first (our mistake!) and the problems begin. Don drops his weight belt immediately, so he comes around to the back of the boat and we make preparations for a replacement. Barbara is not so lucky. Her BC is overinflated and she is bobbing around in the swell like a cork, unable to make any headway and begins to float off into the open ocean. Jan drops in to help her. Fortunately, there is another mooring buoy about 200 feet away, and they both make for it and hang on. I come in tout to be needed, because Jan’s first stage has come off of her tank (the wrong knob got turned when she asked for her air to be turned on). We float for a while and the dive master decides a rescue is in order (it is). He drops off the first buoy and comes around to the next, swinging his drag line towards us. I grab it and he takes me for a bit of a ride until we can match Barbara and the drag line. He cuts engines and we get her aboard. Jan and I then go for a bit of a water ski as the boat re-docks so that we can start our dive. Don and Barbara sit this one out.
For lunch, salads with Morbier and Gouda, leftover BBQ shrimp, fresh cherry tomato, delicious tiny French olives in oil, and a balsamic vinegar dressing.
We spend the afternoon doing a lot of nothing. For dinner, I make stuffed bell peppers (stuff blanched bell peppers with a mixture of browned ham burger and onion, bread crumbs, an egg or two, tomato paste, parsley, salt, pepper, garlic; top with an au gratin of parmesan and bread crumbs, run in the oven for 15 minutes and under the broiler for 3) and a green bean and tomato salad: boil the cut green beans for 10 minutes, and dress with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper. Then sprinkle a few cut&seeded tomatoes and some sliced onion on the top. Because I had the pot hot from the bell peppers, I browned the onion first. Serve with a Beaujolais.
12-June-2004, dive #192: “Nursing Grounds (off St. Eustatius, Netherlands Antilles).” 72 feet for 64 minutes on air. Joel writes: “Lobsters, lobsters, lobsters! I saw a domestic disturbance---one smaller lobster went under a rock and a larger lobster chased him off. Not just out from under the rock, but 20 feet across the sea floor. The two sparred at each other for a bit, and the smaller one retreated by the special lobster-backwards motion common to the species. The site is a deep one---Jan & I went into deco before running out of air, but there’s a lot to see. An easy 5 minute ride from the dive shop.”
12-June-2004, dive #193: “The Blocks (off St. Eustatius, Netherlands Antilles).” 59 feet for 61 minutes on air. Joel writes: “A 1” juvenile spotted drum was totally adorable, and later, the 2” version was just as cute. Crowds of fairy basslets hung upside down under the numerous ledges, with graysby and more lobster competing for space. Heavy crowds of snapper swimming above us in the water column, while a school of horse-eye jacks enveloped us at 20 ft. during our safety stops. Lots of huge French angels with the occasional queen angelfish. I saw a pair of smooth trunkfish working the reef, “blowing” away sand and poking at what was left. Lots of trumpetfish of various colors---brown, yellow, blue.”
We decide to sail to Antigua, which is a two-day event. We divide it into unequal halves, with Nevis our destination on the first and Antigua on the second. I declare this morning “easy on the cook” morning and we dinghy into the old town for some breakfast. Dale sadistically insists on beaching it every time (there are some nice steps on a dock a few feet away), so we arrive at the Blue Bead restaurant a little soggy. The restaurant opens at 7AM, and they have a massive baking operation out back. The proprietor speaks French and a bit of English, so we break out chairs and a table and sit down for freshly baked pastries (most of us have almond rolls, but Jan has a “choco coco” the owner cheerfully calls derriere bread, and Don has a huge raisin bun. The juice is bottled, but the coffee is freshly made and Jan, Dale and I enjoy double espressos while Don and Barbara have filter coffee.
After that lovely repast, we look forward to a day sailing. I whip some sandwiches up for the cooler while it is discovered that we have somehow wedged our anchor line between the rudder and the prop. Dale goes down to unwedge it and then we take on the disagreeable task of pulling up the stern anchor. This takes a lot of manpower, but there’s no other way to do it and we cheerfully head out into what turns out to be … no wind. We try several times, bringing the sails up and down, but after a preliminary 30 minutes of nice sailing, it is decided that we’re going to have to motor until the wind picks up.
Which it doesn’t do, at all, for the entire day, even when we’re in harbor. Here is the unhappy looking crew of Zelkova, motoring into harbor.
And a lovely harbor it is. The classic island picture of palm trees and mangroves with a volcano in the background covered by greenery is right outside our back door at the beach north of Charlestown. A gorgeous anchorage. Just to our north, a party is going on at a palapa (it is, after all, Sunday night) and to our south is a short dinghy ride to Charlestown. The beauty of the place lifts our spirits immediately.
Here you see Captain Daddy setting the anchor. Another feature of Zelkova is that the anchor has a powerful winch attached to it, both for dropping and lifting. No more digging down deep into a smelly and dirty chain locker to drop the anchor: you simply grab the remote control and push “down” to drive the thing. All that’s really needed is a Martini.
According to the cruising guide, there is a supermarket open at 6PM on Sunday nights, so we pile into the dinghy to see the town and get some cheese for tomorrow’s sandwiches. The town is a quiet and very British kind of place, well-marked streets and buildings and people keeping mostly to themselves, a lot of stone buildings, not much color to it. We are met as we come ashore by an officious little man who, in his uniquely Caribbean way, tells us that we can’t take pictures (terrorists, you know), we have to go to the police station to check in, and even though we plan to leave at sunrise the next day, we must wait until 8AM so that we can complete the three-office customs, immigration, and port authority procedures.
I take off to look for the supermarket and it is closed, but a helpful soul nearby tells me that just beyond the police station is another one, which will be open. It is, but disappointing. It reminds me of a 7-11 market: all Oscar Mayer products in the refrigerated case. Earlier we had joked about never seeing American Cheese on this trip, but this time we are forced to have it, as this is the only kind available (two colors, sliced or not, but still the same tasteless crap as always). My spirits sink, but Dale is happy because we find that they DO have Diet Sprite and that’s his drink.
We also find the most amazing tree in full flower.
For happy hour, I boil up some shrimp and make a chili sauce. That and the usual nuts, radishes, and libations keeps people happy.
For dinner, I select a traditional Sunday night fare: sausages (two kinds, Italian and Portuguese) grilled, cole slaw, and baked beans. The slaw is nice: cabbage thinly sliced, some parsley, a touch of cilantro, some red peppers, and a dressing of half mayonnaise and half milk with some sugar and lemon juice thrown in.
The wind fails to pick up at night and so it is a warm evening. I start out in the cockpit until it does get cold and windy enough that I am driven into the cabin.
Anxious to avoid the port authority, we haul anchor and motor off at 6:30. Jan and I work on lunch and breakfast down below while the rest help us to sneak off and become international criminals, having entered and left Nevis without the necessary paperwork. Here, you can see Jan making her famous erogenous scones.
The sail, again, is a bust. No wind, so we motor the entire way. I finish off Tom Robbins’ Villa Incognito, which I highly recommend. If I couldn’t write like Hunter S. Thompson, I’d go for Tom Robbins in a flash.
Jan brings us into Jolly Harbor for what I must say is an astoundingly perfect docking maneuver. In Antigua, the Customs, Immigration, and Port Authority offices are adjoining cubicles in a small building. While Don, Barbara, and Jan travel from cubicle to cubicle, Dale and I take a 3-minute hike to the grocery store. It’s a moderately well provisioned place, tightly packed with products, although the prices are a bit high and the quality of the produce very low. Dale finds limes & bananas and through his tunnel vision declares it a fine market, but there are no lemons, the tomatoes are quite hard and green, and the oranges and peppers are suspect. We buy canned mushrooms because no fresh ones are available.
Back aboard Zelkova, we grill plump little eggplants (cut in half lengthwise, score, salt & wait 20 minutes, oil and grill 10 minutes a side) and lamb (cut lamb leg into 1/2” x 1” x 2” strips, thread onto skewers, marinate in yogurt, olive oil, cumin, coriander, chipotle (if you have it), parsley, molasses, chili powder for 8 to 24 hours; then grill on a 2-second fire for 6 to 8 minutes), with couscous. I make too much couscous, but no one seems to mind.
The swim in Jolly Harbor is not so nice. The visibility is about 2 feet and there is a mud bottom under the boat. Captain & crew are concerned that there is only about 24 inches of clearance (tidal flow is about 18” in these areas) under our 6’ draft, but we convince them that moving the boat now is not a good option. Worst case, we’ll dig a little channel in the mud with our rudder & bottom bulb.
The night is hot. The breeze during dinner falls off and both Jan and I spend time in the cockpit to cool off during the night.
In the morning, we jump out of bed and hurl towards Sandy Island. This is a spot we scouted on the way in the previous day for potential dive opportunities. It looks good and we motor over and drop an anchor in a sandy spot. Finding the dive site is a bit of a challenge, partially because of a multitude of equipment failures: my failure to bring my computer (go back to boat) and Dale’s failure to test some fins before bringing them on board (rethread fin straps 4 times). The dive, however, is a nice one. It takes us about 10 minutes to find the official site “The Ledge,” but once we come upon it, the diving is great. A gentle kind of slope, starting in 20 feet going down to about 60 feet, the ledge is home to a nice variety of marine life. I attempt to acquire some lobsters for tomorrow’s sail (lobster roll, yum!), but Jan waggles a finger at me.
The dive lasts 90 minutes and we get excellent pickup service in the dinghy from Captain Don. We have some salads for lunch, and then head off to English Harbor for the night.
Here are Dale and I trying (unsuccessfully) to look cool after the dive.
Dinner is a Trumbo favorite: hamburgers. I use up my supply of ground beef, throw in some egg, bread crumbs, and spices. On the grill, meanwhile, Don and Dale are cooking skewers of vegetables: zucchini, eggplant, onion, and red bell pepper. We slice tomatoes and put out fresh lettuce and red onion. The mushrooms, however, are a disaster. From a jar, I try and spice them up and add some cooked onion, but they still taste like plastic. Fortunately, the meal is enough for everyone and we have no problem with the shortage of food. For dessert, a key lime pie: mix a can of condensed sweetened milk with a half-cup of lime juice, zest of a lime, a 1/2 tsp of vanilla, and 2 egg yolks. Whip the whites up, add a few tablespoons of sugar, and fold with the filling. Load into a pre-made 9” shell, bake at 350 for 15 minutes until set, and voila, you have pie.
I wanted to visit English Harbor because it is a restored historic site and the view from our anchorage is intriguing, but the excess of diving time has cut our daylight hours short, so we get no chance to go ashore. Disappointed, but resigned, I note a visit for future trips.
15-June-2004, dive #194: “Sandy Island, ‘The Ledge’, Antigua, off Zelkova” 57 feet for 95 minutes on air. Joel writes: “Dive started out fairly sparse, but once we found the ledge turned even better. Found a flying gurnard at 50 ft. In a ‘teddy bear’ coral, the crabs were berserk----4 to 8 of them all at once, chattering around to each other. Lobsters numerous under rocks, found one being guarded by two 1” tall juvenile spotted drums. The cluster of corkscrew anemone, mantis chirp, chameleon shrimp, and one arrow crab was repeated over and over again. Saw a school of margates and many many schools of small silversides and blue fish, all around 40 to 80 feet. Tried to catch a lobster, but Jan shooed me away. Saw only one moray eel (spotted) and NO sergeant majors!!! Find dive even though we didn’t know where we were going---easy to figure it out.”
15-June-2004, dive #195: “Pillars of Hercules, English Harbor, Antigua, off Zelkova” 52 feet for 90 minutes on air. NIGHT DIVE. Joel writes: “Crab city.”
We get up early and I race to make breakfast (yogurt lassi with banana, passion fruit, and a touch of canned pineapple juice to finish the container) and proscuitto-and-turkey-with-alpenzeller cheese sandwiches for lunch. At 7:30, we strike out and the winds are lovely and favorable. Jan captains the boat wonderfully.
After a mandatory motor moment for the fridge charging, we put up sails and everything is great: the boat stops rolling and we make a hefty 8 knots south to Guadeloupe, turning up at our destination quite early, at 1:30 PM.
Deshaies is an incredibly cute place. It’s French, so the food supplies are astonishingly good. And it’s just a very nice little town.
Don races ashore to attempt to make customs contact (it is a new country, after all) while Jan, Dale, and I look for dive shops. The afternoon turns into a desultory series of running in, checking to see if things are open, and going back to the boat. We do get in a very nice snorkel which could qualify as a dive for the abundance of life: urchins-a-go-go, bristle worms, beautiful lettuce-leaf nudibranchs, a tiny little moray, a juvenile sergeant major, and even a turtle of significant size.
After our snorkel, a brief rain---one of the few on this trip---sets in, not enough to wash the boat, but enough to cool the air nicely. We are treated to a wall-to-wall rainbow from one side of the bay to the other, but no one has a wide-angle enough lens to capture it.
We are waiting for the dive shop that is open to fill our tanks, and it is a comedy of confusion. They were supposed to be back at the shop at 4:30, but didn’t get there until 6:30. We stand around, chatting with the divemistress, while the owner tries to fill our tanks. He does a good job on two, but has accidentally left the other two valves closed, so we have to wait until almost 8PM to put them in the dinghy. I have declared a “cooks night off,” so we select Chez Racine for dinner.
The wait staff speaks no English (or Spanish or Italian), but we manage to order four beautiful grilled fish (and Dale gets a stewed one), which are delicious. Coping with fish bones is a bit difficult for the family, but there is no fish left on the plates when we leave. I also have an appetizer of Boudin Creole, which is good but lacks a pleasing texture, and Don and I also have coconut ice cream, delicious.
Earlier in the day, the next boat over came over to warn us of 45-knot breezes, so we have set an especially strong anchor for the evening. Unfortunately, it turns into a NOT breeze, and I spend most of the night in the cockpit as the harbor is quite warm after the humidity of the rain.
After breakfast aboard Zelkova, we make one more trip into Deshaies in the hope that we can become legal visitors to this island paradise. While Don and Jan trudge up the hill to the Douane, Dale and I have the assignment of calling the Marina Bas Du Fort in Pointe-a-Pitre’ and reserving a spot for our boat on Saturday. Our task is successful: I buy a little phone card from the supermarket---complete with smart card chip, none of this scratch-and-sniff or magcard for the French. These are also “real” phone cards, would work just fine in France as well. Guadeloupe is fully integrated into the Republique Francais. The call is easy; the Marina is happy to reserve for us. We pick up some baguettes for dinner, and an éclair for Barbara.
Actually, I only want to buy one éclair, but Dale, Don, and Jan are there and Dale and Jan insist on three. Don refuses. Back on the boat, Barbara refuses to eat all of hers, cuts it in half, and presents the half to Don: “When you said you didn’t want it, you were lying. Éclairs are your favorite food.” He consumes it grudgingly.
We head to Pigeon Island, a short jaunt down the coast. This is the Cousteau Marine Park (he was, after all, French) and is a popular diving destination. To anchor is forbidden, so we make a circle around the island looking for the yellow buoys which are permitted for yachts. Unfortunately, they appear to have put them all within about 60 feet of the rocky island, and this has Captain Daddy fairly concerned. We grab the best looking of the bunch and shorten the line as much as is safe, but he wants to stay on board and not even go snorkeling.
Dale, Jan, and I prepare for the dive. Dale wants to dinghy over a bit to another dive site, but I am convinced that the concept of a dive “site” in a place like this is very fluid and it’s going to be great diving no matter where we go. We agree to jump off of Zelkova and simply paddle over a few hundred feet to where several boats are on day moorings. Dale is ahead of Jan and I and makes a beeline to some imaginary spot in the water, past the boat moored filled with French snorkelers towards the boat moored filled with French divers and drops down.
The diving is great.
While we are motoring into Basseterre, I make up some dinner: cold borscht based on beets, cabbage, onion, chicken stock, carrot and some spices, simmered for 10 minutes to cook things through, and then iced to cool it for dinner. Jan had requested this, along with deviled eggs, so I boil some eggs (9 minutes, never more), and mash the yolks with equal parts mayo and mustard, throw in some pickle relish we snatched from the snack bar in Puerto Rico two weeks earlier and a few drops of hot sauce.
The Basseterre anchorage is held short by a stop at the fuel dock in the marina. This is an awful place. In addition to smelling like fuel (it is, after all, a fuel dock), it’s hot, hot, hot, and I’m in the kitchen boiling soup. Jan and Don leap off the boat in search of customs offices; Dale, Barbara, and I are sitting and waiting. After a while, I get frustrated and make a quick walk into shore, dumping garbage and buying some ice to cool us down. I forgo the temptation to grab a snack---the boat is full of food and I’m really not in need of any snacks anyway. Eventually, Don and Jan get back and tell their own tale of woe involving moved customs offices, no signs, anonymous buildings, and an anticlimactic ending involving a “we are here 7 to noon” sign.
Leaving the fuel dock is a non-trivial enterprise for Zelkova and her crew of amateurs. We decide to try and make the U turn, but know that we cannot do it under power. So, we hold the stern tight and Jan, Dale, and I push the bow out. The boat pivots on its stern line, impossibly tighter than it could ever do under power. As we jump back on the boat, rapidly departing the dock, Don holds the wheel tight and manages to turn a 180 in less space than we think possible, taking us out the narrow channel and to a windy anchorage on the other side of a breakwater, about a 1/4 mile away, but with wind and fresh water around us.
The eggs, borscht (with chopped cucumber and yogurt as a garnish), baguette, and a bottle of 2000 St. Estephe all go over very well and we turn in for the night listening to Andrea Bocelli on the CD player.
17-June-2004, dive #196: “Pigeon Island, Guadeloupe, off Zelkova.” 145 feet for 77 minutes on air. Joel writes: “Best stuff at 40 to 60 ft. At 145, sand bottom, no garden eels. Peacock flounder. Every urchin had an arrow crab attached. A great deal of storm damage---dead, overturned brain corals, probably from several years ago. In the uncoral spots, lots of little yellowtail jawfish hover above their holes, grabbing stuff as it goes by. Found several pair of harlequin bass on the rocks. Lots of juvenile damselfish showing off their spots. Saw a juvenile trumpetfish, maybe 1” long, pretending to be one of the spines on an urchin. Lots of lettuce leaf nudibranchs. Many many many schools of creole wrasse, for a hundred foot flowing like a river.”
Dale has heard that Les Saints is a beautiful spot (it is), so we decide to sail down there for our final voyage. The winds are good and once we get going, Zelkova does a clean 7 to 8 knots without any difficulty. We cover the 20 or so miles before lunch and anchor off Pain Sucre (“sugar cube”) in an exceedingly pretty cove.
Everyone dumps into the dinghy and we motor a couple hundred yards, practicing dinghy anchoring for the very first time in about 12 feet of water. Jan, Dale, and I go diving, while Barbara and Don snorkel their way back to the boat.
It’s an interesting dive. There are few hard corals, but it’s a field of rocks and boulders with sponges and soft corals everywhere. The dive starts in about 25 feet and goes to around 70, although we spend most of our time at 35 to 45 feet. The area is very silty and I practice my own art of anal-retentive cleanup by de-silting some of the sponges as we glide through the water.
For dinner, we have Father’s Day a bit early. A bottle of Roederer opens the meal with some gifts from us to Captain Daddy over smokehouse almonds (his favorite). For the main course, I found some steaks in Antigua that looked good, and grilled them after marinating with a dry spice rub for the afternoon. For vegetables, we had grilled cabbages. The small cabbages about the size of a grapefruit were available occasionally up-and-down the islands, and we sliced them in half, brushed with olive oil, and grilled them for 10 minutes a side. I also put together a stir-fry of vegetables to help clean out the fridge: little red peppers, green onions, some tomatoes, all sautéed with some tequila to help build a sauce. That was more of an “emergency” vegetable in case something went wrong with the cabbages, but everyone ate it anyway. I had found a nice Bordeaux to go with it all, a 2000 second growth that matched the slightly spicy beef nicely.
As dessert, Don’s favorite is banana cream pie, so I had been hoarding parts since the beginning of the trip: a chocolate Oreo crust, custard mix, and cream. The pie, rich with bananas, came out great, but the cream was a total disaster. As a canned concoction, cream doesn’t seem to want to whip. What it tastes like is canned milk, thick, and what it does when attacked vigorously with a whip is sit there. Thus, we had pie sans cream, which was a bit of a letdown but seemed to work out fine anyway.
Afterwards, in the cockpit, we surveyed our liquor collection and tried to reduce the stash a bit, finishing off the Sherry, while Jan and Dale worked on the Hornitos Tequila and Bombay Sapphire Gin. We did drink an enormous amount of Gin on this trip: a bit over three liters. That, plus three liters of Rum, a liter of Tequila, cognac, sherry, and even a white Crème de Menthe (Don’s request) kept us going in the cockpit after dinner.
18-June-2004, dive #197. “Pain du Sucre, Isles des Saints, Guadeloupe, off Zelkova.” 55 feet for 101 minutes. Joel writes: “Tiny (5”) harlequin pipefish hung out next to a spotted moray that took a nip at Jan’s finger. Lots and lots of huge arrow crabs and bristle worms. As a dive site, little to no coral, but lots of sponges all over the boulders. Many sea biscuits and grape algae (unusual) plus huge variety of silted-out sponges. Lots of largish banded coral shrimp and the occasional large (12” to 18” across) anemone in colors from clear to yellow. Many sand divers and one miniature lobster, about 8” long, under a crevice with 10 other sea urchins. No octopus, but I know where one must have been hanging out! Very unusual to have lots of brittle stars NOT hiding in the daylight.”
We get up early, 5:30 AM, to start the sail to Pointe-a-Pitre to turn in the boat. I throw together a quick breakfast of “all the fruit left in the fridge” and we head north into somewhat rolling seas. It’s a nice sail, only occasionally augmented with engine to keep our average speed up above 5 knots, and we cruised along on autopilot quite well with only a single course correction to avoid a reef.
Near the end, the going was so sweet that Jan dove down into the galley and threw together a batch of her delicious erogenous scones as we headed into the harbor.
The Marina insisted on either a stern or bow docking and so we did it bow in. Made it fairly difficult to get off the boat, but Moorings’ warnings about stern docking made such an impression on the crew that we didn’t try any other way. Once we had loaded our tons of luggage on the dock, I headed off to call Moorings in St. Martin to let them know that we had arrived. They told us that the captain picking up the boat for them would be landing shortly, and so we returned to Zelkova to finish the last of our wine, a dry rose from the Beaujolais region.
The captains (two gentlemen) showed up within 30 minutes and we handed over control of Zelkova to them. Once they had checked it out, they were going to start a 20-hour long sail (and motor, if necessary) back to St. Martin to get Zelkova back for its next charter.
Our schedule had us stop in Puerto Rico for three days to relax and clear our heads a bit on the way back and get used to civilization. Adieu, and Bon Voyage!