Friday, November 30, 2012

Welcome to Creature Feature

As a fan of anything scary and monsters of every kind, I used to love watching Creature Feature as a kid. So I thought I'd honor the old show by naming a new feature of my blog for it. If you’ve been reading the blog, you already know that I love animals. Before digital cameras, every role of film I shot had at least one photo (and usually many) of seemingly nothing in particular, unless you looked really really closely and were able to discern whatever critter I had focused my lens upon. I’ve gotten much better with digital, since you can take fifty pictures to get one good one, then zoom in and crop photos on the computer. And now that I’ve got an underwater digital camera, every snorkeling trip is an opportunity to practice both my breath-holding and photo-taking skills. So every Friday, I’ll run a picture of an animal that I’ve found beautiful, ugly, or in some way intriguing. My first creature will be one that’s not exotic or fancy, but is ubiquitous to all the islands we’ve visited…the chicken. OK, it's a rooster, but overall it's still a chicken. This particularly fine fellow was scratching in the sand with his family in Hope Town, Abacos, in the Bahamas. But don't worry, we'll get more interesting and informative.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Yacht Spotting: Helios

Well, we’re back to hanging with the big boys and girls. There are several mega-yachts here in St. Thomas, and I’m sure more will be arriving as the season progresses. You could probably fit half a dozen Mr Macs into the slips designed for these guys. Here’s a couple of pictures of Helios, a 148' yacht (with five spreaders on that 171' mast!), which briefly anchored near us before heading into the marina. You can’t tell from the picture, but the hull is a beautiful maroon color. Pretty boat. You can see more details about her here.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

New Neighbors

As the sun goes down...
...the cruise ships light up

Anchored here in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, we have front-row seats for the daily dance of the way-too-humungous-to-even-be-floating cruise ships. They arrive in the morning and depart in the evening. What’s truly amazing is watching them maneuver their way off the dock. The boaters anchored next to the channel must have nerves of steel, because I really wouldn’t feel comfortable being so close when one of those behemoths BACKS OUT into the main harbor before turning to head offshore.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Got Milk? I Do Now!

I nearly dropped as we walked down the aisle in the nearby Pueblo market here in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. Milk! Big, beautiful gallon jugs of it! I was so excited, because we haven’t seen gallons of fresh milk since we left the states. And I looove milk! Even though I’ve extolled the convenience of UHT milk, there’s nothing like fresh for drinking. Even at $6 per gallon, I had to have one. An indulgence, you might say, and a pretty harmless one at that. So when we got back to the boat, I opened up the jug, filled a big wine glass and, before I had a chance to take a picture of the dew-glazed vessel, took a sip. Actually, it was more than a sip – a gulp that nearly emptied the glass. I enjoyed what little was left with a couple of ginger cookies, my sister Linda’s recipe. I think I’m going to get another gallon next week.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What a Passage!

Sunrise over Martinique

What a day for a sail!
When traveling between distant islands, you hope that you’ll get at least some good conditions. Well, we couldn’t have asked for better during our recent passage from Martinique to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. We left Trois Islet about 1 am and arrived at Christmas Cove about 10 am two and a half days later. Winds ran 10-15 knots, give or take, from our aft starboard quarter, and we had the current behind us. We saw over seven knots sailing, and the seas were never uncomfortable. We kept expecting to pick up a large northerly swell, but it never materialized – the largest seas we had were when we crossed the Martinique and Dominica Passages, and they weren’t bad. While underway, we listened to the audiobook The Mauritius Command, by Patrick O’Brian. This series of books chronicles the adventures of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, captain and surgeon, respectively, on British naval ships during the Napoleonic war era. I can’t recommend them highly enough, but make sure you get the version narrated by Patrick Tull. The moon was full during our passage, and rose bright orange from the horizon after sunset. This was especially appropriate for the evening of October 31st, Halloween. Interestingly, every cloud formation that night was fantastic or grotesque, my mind (usually kind of weird anyway) undoubtedly influenced by the holiday.
Rainbow as we approach St. Thomas

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Anse Mitan, Martinique

View from Anse Mitan toward Fort de France and the north end of Martinique
Anse Mitan marina with shops and restaurants

 Anse Mitan is a village just around the peninsula from Trois-Îlets. It has an office for checking in and out of the country, which saves a trip to busy Fort de France across the bay. We did a little bit of grocery shopping, found wifi and a great lunch at the Restaurant La Marine, and enjoyed a walk along the sandy beach with a beautiful bay view. We even splurged and got ice creams to use up our euros. Nice!
Essential shopping in the French islands!