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Missing the Twin Cayes, Drowned Cayes and Especially Caye Caulker

After Susan and Kevin left us in early April, it was time to leave Placencia and move north through Belize and begin watching for a weather window to make the leap to Galveston, TX.  Originally we planned on stopping at Isla Mujeres, Mexico, but we had heard all kinds of things about the complications of checking into and out of Mexico.  We were only going to have a day or two to visit there, so we decided to skip Isla Mujeres this trip.  Our thought is that we will have a lot of time in Mexico on the western side when we move south from California on the new boat, so our visit would wait.

Anyway, instead of spending two days in Mexico, we decide to stay a bit longer in Belize and see a couple of islands on our way north.  We set out from Placencia and sailed about 29nm to Twin Cayes. We were the last boat to arrive in this beautiful anchorage because we had waited until late in the morning to leave Placencia to make sure a weather system had passed.  Also, we think overnight passages inside the barrier reef of Belize are a bad idea because the charts are poor and there is a lot of shallow water.

belize-9 Three other boats were anchored in Twin Cayes

Twin Cayes is very well protected and an excellent place to hide from weather as evidenced by one of the boats which had been anchored there for three days before we arrived. There was a pretty decent wind storm predicted along with unruly seas and Twin Cayes was a prefect hiding place.

The next morning we left Twin Cayes and sailed 41nm to Dronwed Cayes. Drowned Cayes is another island of mangrove trees with inlets running through it and no development that we saw.  We meandered through the twisting inlet, closely watching our depth sounder since our charts were unreliable or unmarked, and found a perfect spot to drop anchor.

Once anchored, we grabbed our masks and fins and jumped in the water to see if we could get close to the dolphins that were playing near the boat as we settled the anchor.  Frank was the first in and I quickly followed.  But just as I was beginning to swim toward the dolphins, Captain jumped in the water to give chase as well.

Cappy was not going to help us get close to the dolphins, so I grabbed her and we swam back to LIB.  Frank continued toward the dolphins, but they quickly swam away.

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Although this panoramic picture is a little distorted, it offers a good view of Drowned Caye.

Drowned Caye was perfectly quiet and we felt like we were all alone in an undiscovered land. We pulled out the SUPs and explored some of the narrow fingers of water until they dead ended or exited to the ocean.  What a delightful end to a fairly long day of sailing.

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The red route to Caye Caulker and the yellow was a very challenging route out of the reef.

The next morning we picked up early and headed toward Caye Caulker. The route we took from Drowned Cayes to Caye Caulker had a several shallow spots and we had to pick and choose our way through the water including a skinny cut at Hicks Caye where we passed two barges coming the opposite direction. I am very thankful that we have a good amount of experience reading the water. It certainly augments chart information and the depth sounder!

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Caye Caulker has charming streets and few automobiles.

Caye Caulker was absolutely delightful! This was by far our favorite stop in Belize. Although we were watching for a weather window, we enjoyed a week on this pretty and laid back island. Cay Caulker is small, but has a ton of things to offer. Along the dirt streets are plenty of shops and small groceries, restaurants and tour companies. The people were happy and very welcoming!

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Stressless Tours was excellent!

We chose to take a snorkeling tour from Stressless Tours and we had a perfectly amazing day. Everyone we interacted with from Stressless was positive, welcoming and accommodating.  Our day began with a stop to see a seahorse hanging out by a peer, which was great since that brought my seahorse in the wild count up to three.

Our day with Stressless included a stop to swim with manatees, with specific instructions that we were not pester or approach the manatees.

All together we stopped in five places during our tour and got in the water in three of them. Our guides were superb! They jumped in the water with us and pointed out all kinds of coral and fish, teaching about their surroundings and sharing their efforts to protect the reefs and marine life.

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Mr. Manatee is very chill!

We were extremely impressed with Stressless Tours.  They even asked us to refrain from using sunscreen and they provided a special lotion which is designed with protection of the reefs in mind. It is great to see a forward thinking company like Stressless.

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The fish are cool, but I loved that turtle!

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Plenty of fish and sharks where another boat was chumming.

Because of the storm system just prior to our arrival at Caye Caulker, there were no other boats in the anchorage when we arrived. But there was plenty (in a positive way) of activity with fishing, snorkeling and diving boats coming in and out of the area.

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This boat carrying cinder blocks to a building site motored past us one morning.

We heard that San Pedro, an island right next to Caye Caulker, was a lot like Caye Caulker before it became so populated so we took a 20 minute ferry ride to that neighboring island to see it for ourselves.

It didn’t take long to decide we much preferred the less crowded and slower pace of Caye Caulker to the hectic crowds of San Pedro.  We rented a golf cart and found San Pedro teeming with cars, bikes and golf carts.

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Sorry it’s blurry….no stopping for pics without getting honked at!

We did find a very pretty Catholic Church in San Pedro and we took a minute to look inside and be thankful for the opportunity to explore so many places.

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San Pedro Roman Catholic Church

We drove the golf cart from one end of the island to the other and stopped at a poorly attended market where we didn’t find anything we wanted to buy.  But we did chuckle when we found a Boomer Sooner graduate had set up a cafe! Of course we sent a picture to our youngest son who graduated from the University of Oklahoma.

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A taste of Oklahoma in Belize!!

Pretty quickly we decided to head back to the ferry dock and return to Caye Caulker where the vibe was slower and more laid back. Since we had to wait an hour or so for the ferry we took refuge at Palapa Bar.  I can definitely see the appeal of this bar where you can order a drink from your inner tube and have it delivered from a bucket on a pulley system!

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Definitely bring your swim suit if you stop at the Palapa Bar!

Back in Caye Caulker, we decided we should sign up for a dive tour since this would be our last opportunity to dive for quite a while.  We found a very good tour company and signed up for a two tank day.

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We saw a fish ball/circle. Pretty cool.

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This grouper came right up to me while filming.

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Oh hello! Mr. Shark came swimming right toward me from over this reef.

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The reef walls created a canyon like feeling underwater.

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I’m turning to keep this shark in view….no sneaking up behind me, please!

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The bar by The Split.

After a day under water, we decided to relax in the sun and hang out at a bar near “the split.” The split is where, in 1961, Hurricane Hattie caused a break in Caye Caulker Island.  The locals use the split to boat to the opposite side of the island and a smart business man opened a bar where folks can hang out.  The split is a perfect place to grab a drink, watch people enjoy the water and check out shallow draft boats going through the channel.

Our time in Caye Caulker was a fabulous way to end our time in Belize. We couldn’t have asked for a more relaxed and comfortable place to prepare for our passage to Texas.  If you have a chance to visit Belize, make sure Caye Caulker is on your list of places to spend a few nights!

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Sunset from the anchorage at Caye Caulker.

Next time I’ll talk about our passage from Caye Caulker to Galveston.  We had a great sail, but we definitely had some interesting times.  And the beginning of our journey getting out of the Belize Barrier Reef was a bit of a challenge!

Thank you for reading our blog.  We appreciate your taking time to share our travels.  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

 

 

Family Time – The Happiest Time of the Year!

What an awesome Christmas we had on LIB! Our sons arrived on December 23rd and as is par for the course, we were busy, busy,  busy!  But the great part is that we were not busy shopping and buying presents and worrying about who needed gifts.  Instead we were trying to pack in as much fun as possible while Hunter and Clayton were here.

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So glad to have our kids with us!

The one item I had on my to do list was to get a decent family picture.  The last family picture we took was a very last minute acquiescence and this year I wanted to make sure we took a decent photo. That doesn’t mean we dressed up and coordinated colors (much less shaved facial hair!) but at least we had a festive backdrop and Clayton took a good pic.

Christmas-6Hunter practicing his smile while Clayton sets up the camera.

After the “photo shoot” it was play time and we packed a lot into a few days. The majority of our focus was on kiting and we got some pretty good pics:

Christmas-5Clayton skimming along.

DSC01060Frank looking mighty relaxed.

Christmas-2Hunter spends a lot of kite time upside down. Christmas-8You went how high? A perspective on how high Hunter jumps.

Captain is not always happy that her herd is off of the boat and she spends a lot of time running from side to side barking for us to come back to the boat.

DSC02357 Should I put a Fitbit on Captain and see how many steps she gets?

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We all enjoy sailing and the west side of Bonaire is perfect because the low land prevents the waves but not the wind. Every day we sailed to and from our mooring site to either the kiting spot or a scuba diving ball.

Hunter and Clayton earned their open water scuba certification three Christmases ago but we have not had many chances to dive with them.  The four of us dove this week and the marine life was great, but diving was definitely not their favorite activity.  I think they enjoyed cooling off but the activity itself was too staid for their tastes….. surprise!

Other activities included bike riding, swimming, snorkeling, exploring, SUPing and generally just enjoying our time together on the boat.  We are very fortunate that we truly enjoy being together; so the time flew by.

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We have tried to get a few pictures of LIB actually sailing so those interested in buying her can see just how pretty she looks sporting her North 3di sails. Since Clayton messes around with photography, he acted as the photographer and Hunter and I took turns driving the dinghy a couple of times.  Of course, we refused to allow the pictures to take precedence over playtime, so we didn’t use the best lighting of the the day. Still, Clayton did a good job with the pics and managed to get some photos of our boat zipping along.

Christmas-4Very cool to see this yacht actually sailing!

While out and about, we spotted this giant sailboat, M5.  It is unusual to see very large sailboats actually sailing, so we especially enjoyed watching this 250 foot long beauty going though her paces.  If you look closely, you can see the wing of an airplane on the aft deck! This sailboat was built in 2003 and refit in 2014. It is the largest single-masted yacht ever built. To give you a little perspective…. her beam is broader than the whole length of LIB!

Of course we were too busy “doing” for me to spend much time taking pictures, but we did take a little walk along the salt fields to see if we could get any interesting photos.

ChristmasClayton walking near the salt pond.

Once again the lighting was not conducive to taking great pictures and we couldn’t get really close to the pools, but I did snap this photo of Clayton as he strolled along looking for a better angle.

Bonaire has an outdoor movie theater and we decided it would be a fun change of activity for us. We drove the dinghy to a nearby marina, then walked about 12 minutes to the Empire Theater where the latest Star Wars movie was showing.  Our kids are too young to remember drive in theaters so this was a fun way to give them an idea of what that bygone entertainment was like.  Empire Theater is a fun experience but I can’t say the sound system is indoor theater quality. For the price of a ticket, you are given a plastic chair and a pair of 3D glasses.  We arranged our chairs in the gravel flooring, put on our glasses and thoroughly enjoyed watching the Resistance Fighters battle evil! Until, the rain came and we all had to dash beneath the very scant roof.

Even with the rain, we had was fun and enjoyed watching the movie in such a unique place.

Christmas-3Clayton and Hunter snagging the mooring ball.

Having all of us together, sharing activities, meals, laughter and Christmas was the best gift I could receive. I love having the chance to cook favorite meals and desserts for the kids and watching them relax and lounge about on LIB. And it is kind of nice to sit back and let my three guys take care of the helming and mooring while I have the satisfaction of watching them work as a team.

Last year Hunter was working out of the country and we were unable to be together for the Holidays.  Remembering that Hunter was away last year made this Christmas just a little bit sweeter.  I am thankful for the many, many blessings God has bestowed on us; and I thank Him daily for my family.

I hope all of you had a blessed Holiday and we on LIB pray that God blesses your 2018 with health, happiness and adventure!

Thank you so much for visiting our blog! If you would like to hear from us more often, please visit our FB page.

 

 

 

 

 

Bonaire Underwater!

Bonaire was our escape plan when we sailed away from Puerto Rico to escape Hurricane Maria. We knew this island would offer us hurricane protection but we really had no idea that we would find such a lovely place to live for a while.

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French Angel Fish

Bonaire is a world class scuba diving destination as is evidenced by the dive shops that are more prolific here than 7-11’s are in China!

Bonaire’s National Park Foundation was created way back in 1962 which shows that this tiny island was forward thinking about land preservation! This body was specifically formed to protect the nature of the island. Then in 1979, the Bonaire National Marine Park was formed and it regulates the whole coastline of Bonaire! That means that for many years the coast and land of Bonaire have been intentionally protected and the result is an amazing array of healthy fish and coral underwater and on land the island strives to protect it’s natural resources. (See what we found on land in another post!)

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I don’t like snakes, but look at the iridescent blue on this sea snake’s “fin!”

According to Wikipedia, Bonaire is “essentially a coral reef that has been geologically pushed up and out of the sea. This also resulted in the natural fringing reef system seen today, in which the coral formations start at the shoreline.”

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LIB on a dive buoy and trucks in a dive parking lot.

Furthermore this means that the beautiful dives on Bonaire are accessible from shore as well as boat.  And the island has done a fabulous job of marking the dive sites with painted yellow rocks on the roadside and yellow buoys in the water.

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Hahaha…. first time I have seen this road sign!

Anchoring is strictly prohibited in Bonaire, so all boats must use park moorings and dive buoys.  But there are so many marked sites, that it is not hard to find great places to tie up LIB or the dinghy for a dive.

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The colors are incredibly vibrant. It looks like melted crayons all over the reef!

The clarity of the water is also fabulous.  I think the combination of the white sandy bottom and the vibrant reefs contribute to the ability to see very well even in deep water.

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This huge moray eel was in 81 feet of water!

Thankfully Frank was willing to take the GoPro and get close to this big guy.  I know moray eels are not supposed to attack humans and I know they are actually fish and not snakes, but that doesn’t mean I want to be close to them!

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Something out of Star Wars or is this a 1980’s McDonald’s French Fry Guy?

This little formation made me wonder if perhaps some writers get their inspiration while scuba diving!

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There is something about these Honeycomb Cowfish!

Cowfish and trunkfish are seen in a variety of colors here and each one I see makes me smile. I love the little, spiky hoods above the cowfish eyes.  The baby trunkfish are super cute and fairly friendly.

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Repeat of Mr. Octopus!

Although I have used this picture before, having the chance to see this octopus was so exceptional that I wanted to share it again! Look on our FB page to see the video.

I have had several people tell me they have spotted sea horses!! I am constantly looking for them but so far without success. Not to worry. I am sure we will find one before we depart Bonaire!

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Captain and Frank swim to shore for morning ‘business.’

Even Captain loves the water in Bonaire! While she has not yet learned to snorkel or scuba dive, she loves jumping into the water and swimming to shore.  Plus at the end of her walks, she is quite ready to wade back into the water to cool off and swim back to LIB.

Frank has kited in two places and I hope to have a go next week when the wind returns. Although the wind on the south side was offshore, the location is lovely and the wind wasn’t too gusty, so Frank had an excellent set. The second spot was right off of Klein Bonaire and it didn’t work out as well.

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Kiting off of Klein Bonaire was too gusty.

The water side of Bonaire has been delightful. But don’t think Bonaire is only for water sports.  We have pulled out our bikes and explored a bit that way and we have just rented a car.  Our first excursions have been fun and interesting. I’ll share those pictures soon.

Is Bonaire on your bucket list?  We would recommend it!

 

 

 

 

Goodbye Aruba, Hello Bonaire!

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Our view from Arashi Beach.

Our last few days in Aruba were spent in a northwest anchorage called Arashi Beach near the lighthouse and a pretty public beach. While the anchorage was still rolly, we really appreciated the beach setting where we could alternate between dips in the clear water, cool beverages at the small bar and strolls along the tourist strewn sand.

Captain was extremely happy here as she would swim then roll in the sand to her hearts content. Plus there were SO many people who gave her love and attention that she really did not want to return to LIB!

Captain is quite the ambassador and because of her we met people all along the beach.  Since there is no cruising community to speak of in Aruba, Captain’s introductions to new friends was even more welcome than usual.

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Captain amid her friends Pam, Tiff, Chris and Lisa.

We ended up meeting several groups of visitors but we really connected with two groups and since both expressed interest in our sailing life, we invited them to come visit us on LIB.

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John, Mark, Zachary, Gerry, Frank, Lisa and Chris…. the youngest at the helm? 

Once again, I forgot to pull out my camera, so I don’t have pictures from the day Becky, Tanya, Jeb and Shawn went sailing with us, but both days were really fun.  Our guests soon became friends and I can only hope our paths will cross again.  Thanks for trusting us to share part of your vacation time guys.  It was a pleasure meeting each and every one of you!

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Eight large boats and a couple of small ones.

Aruba tourism is huge as evidenced by the number of day boats taking people to various snorkeling spots.  Just count the number of boats in the pictures above and below this paragraph.  These were to the port and starboard side of LIB as we motored away from Arashi Beach.

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Just another six day boats!

I mentioned already on our boat FB page that the checking in and out process for Aruba leaves a LOT to be desired.  The docking is especially poor as it is set up for very large tug boats or cruise ships and small sailboats or motorboats do not fit well against the dock.  The people in and about Aruba are delightful, but the Customs and Immigration people were much less helpful, in our experience.  I get it though; we cruisers are small potatoes and little revenue compared to those who arrive by plane or cruise ship….

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Sailing against the trade winds is no fun, so this calm day was perfect!

We set out for Bonaire on a fabulously calm day with winds of less than 4 knots and seas that were calmer than our Aruban anchorages!

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Venezuela is right there!

If you look closely, in the distance of this picture, you can see Venezuela.  It is easy to forget that Venezuela is only about 25 miles from Aruba.  Many large, private fishing boats have come from Venezuela and are docked in Aruba.  I assume this is to find a safe refuge since Venezuela is in such a sad plight.

We anchored in a small bay on Curacao overnight, then motored on to Bonaire.  WHAT a welcome back to Bonaire we had.  Our friends Josee and Andre whom we met in the Dominican Republic were already in Bonaire and had scouted out a mooring ball in case we needed it. (You guys ROCK!)

Kathe and Gary of s/v Tribasa Cross, whom we met waaaay back in the BVIs in 2015, were on a mooring ball and Gary was in the dinghy to greet us when we arrived. How fun is it to bump into people you met years before?!

Plus we were able to reconnect with Kathi and Tim of s/v Two Oceans; fellow Puerto Rico refugees!

Needless to say it is awesome to be back in a cruising community where we can reconnect with familiar friends (notice I did not say “old”) and new friends are just a mooring ball away.

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The reefs include more color than you can imagine!

Now that we are back in Bonaire, once again we are diving daily.  We find the diving here fabulous!  By early afternoon, we are very hot and ready to drop our body temperatures.  Scuba diving and being underwater for an hour is an excellent way to cool off and explore at the same time.

Here are just a few pics from diving in Bonaire…

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Who knows what might pop out from a crevice?

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My favorite “find” so far was this octopus!

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This doesn’t do justice to the myriad of colors.

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Loads of fishies!

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This eel was fast…. or was I hesitant to get too close??

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Nature reclaiming man’s waste and making it pretty-ish.

It is really nice to be back in Bonaire where we are surrounded by other cruisers and we can enjoy the water that surrounds us. There are good grocery stores and we can find most things we want and everything we need.  The winds are returning this week, so we look forward to finding a good kiteboard spot soon.

Happy Thanksgiving to our U.S. readers. As usual, thank you for stopping by.

 

 

Exploring Eleuthera Takes Some Time

Eleuthera is a long, skinny island that is shaped a bit like a half circle with a sling shot on the bottom.  Or at least that’s what I think.  It is 110 miles long and in parts is only one mile wide.  Eleuthera is estimated to have an area of 176 square miles.  Now I realize that our former home state of Texas is significantly larger at approximately 268,000 square miles, but traveling by boat, the island of Eleuthera felt pretty large to us!

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Originally we thought we would spend a few days on Eleuthera while waiting out a weather system, but we ended up spending more than two weeks exploring various anchorages and I know we missed many interesting places. 

After exploring Spanish Wells, Harbour Island and Royal Island, we sailed southeast back through Current Cut so we could explore the southeastern section of Eleuthera.

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Current Cut was an interesting opening on Eleuthera that required some timing because of the strong current ~ yes, appropriate name.  As you can see from the picture of our instruments, our boat speed through the water was 6.4 knots but we had the current going with us and our actual speed over ground was 10.1 knots indicating that we had almost 4 knots of current during our trip through this fairly narrow passage.

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LIB sitting pretty in Governor’s Harbour

Our first stop on the eastern side of Eleuthera was Governor’s Harbour.  We spent the afternoon walking the town and poking into the few shops we found that were open.  We arrived late on a Saturday so most places were closed and they don’t open on Sunday. 

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Fancy and clean food truck

We did find a food truck and decided we to indulge in some ‘take away’ dinner.  See the menu in the window…. what would you choose?

I’m not sure what it is, but there are some stops that call to us or click with us more than others.  Governor’s Harbor didn’t call much to either of us and a weather shift dictated a move further south after only one night.

Rock Sound was our next anchorage of choice and this one we enjoyed more than expected. It is located just above the slingshot shaped part of the island. The first night we anchored in the undeveloped northern part of the sound to protect us from some northern wind.  But the next day we moved to the eastern part of the sound when the wind changed from that direction.  The town of Rock Sound is deceiving and at first glance you might think it has little to offer but we found plenty to do.

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St. Anne Catholic Church,  just like home…. I wish we had been here on a Sunday!

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This sign made me smile.

We enjoyed a cool beverage at this restaurant overlooking Rock Sound.  As indicated, the entrance was around the back where an open patio offered a cool breeze from the sound.

One morning we toted our bikes to shore and explored as much of the town and surrounding area as we could.  Our bike ride allowed us to see the varied terrain near the anchorage.

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Unpaved roads and very little traffic were perfect for our mountain bikes.

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Not a bad dead end for one road.

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This time our road ended in a grassy, palm treed yard.

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Mining for sand???

This was our most unexpected dead end on our bike ride.  This hill of sand must be 40 feet high.  Our guess is that they were excavating the sand and moving it elsewhere? Anyone have a guess?

Several places on Eleuthera have ocean holes in shore. These are pools fed by the ocean from underground.  It was pretty amazing to ride our bike through town and come across this ocean hole.  

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Frank was happier than he looks in this pic.

You would expect this to be a fresh water pond, but in actuality it is ocean water with salt water marine life.  The town has built a park around the hole so locals have a nice place to gather and enjoy the water.

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The park around the hole is simply green space.

Rock Sound has a well stocked grocery store where we were able to buy some fresh produce and a few odds and ends to shore up our food reserves on LIB.  We stopped in a cute little shop called The Blue Seahorse where I bought some earrings made of sea glass.  I consider the owner of the Blue Seahorse (Holly?) a bit unusual here in the Bahamas because she is very marketing savvy and interested in increasing her business.  We saw signs for her business in several places and she hopes to advertise in some of the cruising guides.  You should stop in and see Holly at the Blue Seahorse if you ever visit Rock Sound! She has some great items and she makes them all herself.

After enjoying several days in Rock Sound, we raised the anchor and moved further south toward Davis Harbour Marina.  This small marina has about 25 slips and most are used by local fisherman, by scuba diving trip operators or by fishing guides.  Davis Harbour is a small, well protected marina with super nice people and much more than expected.

Our first night here we enjoyed dinner at Frigates Restaurant right in the marina.  It’s always a positive when I get a break from cooking, plus the dinner was tasty and the atmosphere pleasant.  It is interesting that these places are so small that one person is the bartender, waitress, cook and cashier! 

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Dusk at Davis Harbour Marina

Our plan was to stay at Davis only two nights as we wanted to fish along a submerged rock formation called The Bridge located between Eleuthera and Little San Salvador.  So we headed out early in the morning and fished for several hours with the intention of anchoring in a small area off of Lighthouse Point at the very tip of Eleuthera.

There is a Yiddish proverb “Man plans, God laughs.”  That happened!  We caught only one skipjack tuna and a barracuda.  Plus while we were trolling for fish, the wind direction became more southerly and made our planned anchorage untenable.  Yep, God had a good chuckle about our plans.

So back to Davis Harbour we went and we were very happy to have such a calm spot after a day of waves.

We spent the next day exploring nearby creeks in our dingy.  There were three creeks very close, so we took Day Tripper as far as we could then hopped out and explored on foot.  Captain loves jumping around in the shallow water but she isn’t much help when we try to bonefish!

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Captain is a front seat driver in the dinghy!

Frank decided to bike to Lighthouse Point, the anchorage we were unable to visit due to weather, but I bailed.  I know I could have ridden the 25 mile trip, but I wanted a day at “home.” When I saw the pictures he took I regretted skipping the trip.  

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Seeing the pictures made me sorry we were unable to anchor at that beach!

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The actual lighthouse might need some repair.

Remember our friends Kristen and James of s/v Tatiana who shared the adventures at Harbour Island? Well they decided to join us in Davis Harbour for a day of diving! Paul, a local man, climbed aboard LIB and spent most of a day with us.  Paul showed us two nearby dive spots where the coral was in excellent condition which again was encouraging to see.

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James captures some coral with scuba bubbles in the background.

Thankfully James had his GoPro with the red filter and his pictures were great.  

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Look at the colors!

Really, what was I thinking moving onto a boat in crystal blue waters and not bringing a red filter?!

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Hahaha, you have to be able to laugh at yourself, right? Conehead much?

After our second dive, Paul taught Frank and James a few fishing tricks using live bait.  We didn’t have any luck catching fish while Paul was on board, but we have some new techniques to try.

We returned to Davis Creek and said goodbye to Paul.  What a great guy he is and so generous with his knowledge.  We are lucky to have met him.

Of course Kristen and I decided that after a “long” day of water sports, we needed to be pampered with dinner at Frigate’s, so the four of us shared our evening meal and discussed our next move.

We have been in contact with Rally buddies, Kevin and Susan of s/v Radiance, and Frank and I decided it was time to head back toward the Exumas and see if we could rendezvous with them. 

Perhaps on our sail we can put to test some of the fishing pointers Paul shared…

St. Barts – a Little Piece of France?

We left St. Martin and had a quick and easy motor sail to St. Barts.

IMG_1201St. Barts is in sight.

Our first stop was Anse de Colombier which is exactly the kind of anchorage we love…

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Clear blue Colombier

The water is beautifully clear – I counted 5 starfish on the sand 12 feet below our boat while at anchor!

The French are trying to restore the bay after damage from anchoring and have installed several free mooring balls which we were happy to use. And their efforts are working as much of the sand is gaining sea grass and we saw a lot of turtles and other marine life.

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This turtle posed for the photo!

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Rays and fish just below our boat.

While moored in Colombier we went scuba diving two times on the south side of Ile Petit Jean. The coral and fish were more plentiful than any other Caribbean diving we have done so far.  Our camera wasn’t graded for the depth of our dive, so I don’t have photos, but we saw many schools of fish in a variety of types and sizes.  Also the sponges were HUGE! They looked like giant planters that could be used in a garden.

We also spent a lot of time hiking from Colombier. Here are some of the beautiful scenes from our hikes:

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LIB nestled up close to the shore in Colombier.

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Just another beautiful bay, but too shallow for us to anchor here.

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Gustavia in the distance.

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Gotta have a selfie.

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We managed to exhaust Captain!

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The public pier of Gustavia is clean and landscaped.

The public dock in Gustavia was our next stop on St. Bart’s.  I have to say, this is a gorgeous town where you can buy all kinds of beautiful baubles, clothes, food and wine.

We spent three nights in Gustavia and sampled food from several delicious restaurants. And we managed to find chocolate croissants again! YUM.

After sampling Gustavia, shopping and not buying the rather expensive clothing, we decided Colombier was more our style.

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Kathe and Gary ready for our walk.

So back we went to Colombier to meet up with our friends Kathe and Gary on Tribasa Cross who braved a slog into the wind so they could meet us on St. Bart!

It was great sharing sunset drinks with Kathe and Gary, then hiking with them the following day.

I much preferred St. Bart to St. Martin, at least on this trip. St. Barts was easy to navigate and everyone was very friendly. I was able to practice some very rusty French and my efforts were kindly received. Gustavia feels like a quaint, clean, upscale European city and everything we needed was easy to reach on foot.

An added bonus is that the French are very nice to dogs. The restaurants welcomed Captain when we stopped to eat. In fact in every restaurant the staff immediately brought Captain a bowl of water.  She usually received her drink before we did!

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Sunset in Gustavia, St. Barts.

We really enjoyed the remote and the city life on this island.  St. Barts is definitely on our repeat list.

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