January 7 - February 7, 2008: Back in Martinique
January 11 - We returned to Martinique after a gorgeous sail. Wolfgang invited all of us (Axel, Brit, Juergen and I) for dinner on his last night before flying home. We alternated having dinner on Hello-World and Impromptu. Today, Brit and Axel will be receiving their new and improved refrigeration / freezer system - water-cooled. They are also preparing Hello-World for the continuation of their trip. We played Backgammon in the morning - I won!!! (a rare occasion, so I am mentioning it), then took all our garbage and both of our computers to go to the Mango Bar (the internet cafe with free WIFI, the issue is that the owner / manager seems to unplug the modem when it is lunchtime). "Rien ne va plus" at that point. Everybody is frustrated, I in particular, as I was in the midst of writing, sending emails. So, we will order some lunch - and hope for the best thereafter.
January 12 - Nico's birthday. We tried to call. Unfortunately, he was not home - most likely out with his Nicola to celebrate his birthday. I spoke with Lippi today. Juli was busy with some friends. We did not want to disrupt their painting of action figures. Tomorrow is another day. After breakfast and a few rather successful Backgammon games for me (!!! - I won close to 200 points today - a rare event), we took the dinghy to the dinghy dock, computer in my backpack, camera over my shoulder. We had heard loud music from somewhere "in town" and wanted to check it out. We stopped at Brit and Axel's. They were still working on their refrigeration system, that is, the mechanic was. We followed the sound of the music uphill. Juergen complained that I would complain about the pain in my leg afterwards. Still, we climbed up the hill - it was rather steep but not very long - and found people, stands with flowers, food, artifacts, a live band, a number of loudspeakers blaring (different) loud music. We walked from one end of the street fair to the other. Another bandstand, another live band - you will see them both in our gallery. Not that we liked the music, but we liked the atmosphere. It was so much more genuine than the jump up in St. Lucia and virtually no tourists in sight (except us and a couple of others). We also stopped by the Mango Bar for our (almost) daily internet fix. It was VERY slow, but in the end, we got in and could finally check various emails including those received on our "ocens.net" mail systemm which we have not been too successful loading up via Iridium. For some reason, the Iridium connection seems to stop after so many seconds. Today, when we tried it on the boat, it went as far as telling us that no emails were in our outbox for mailing. Well, we knew that. It also told us that there were thirteen emails to be downloaded. The download never happened. So, "myemail.com", recommended by Brit - who else??? - was a savior for us and our communication with a number of friends. At least, we finally could read their emails and respond. On Monday, I will have to get on the phone with Ocens again - hopefully, we can fix the problem once and for all...
Axel came by Impromptu by dinghy. He wanted to test our (larger) dinghy engine on his (smaller) dinghy. It worked quite well. He got it to planing even with he and Juergen in the dinghy (and two dinghy tanks). Not bad. He was happy. Now he is mulling over the idea to just purchase the larger engine or also a larger dinghy. They dive, have all the equipment which seems too much for their small dinghy. We will see. After the "hard work", he stopped to have a rum drink with us and then went back to "Hello-World" where he hoped the mechanic had resumed his task. We agreed to meet for a good-bye dinner shortly before 1900 even though they will most likely not depart before Tuesday. They want to go to LeLamantin (Carrefour) for food shopping, hope to finally receive some part that was supposed to have arrived days ago on Monday and then depart for Marigot Bay in St. Lucia on Tuesday. This will be the end (temporarily) of a great and intensive friendship. We have already promised each other visits - they in New York, we possibly in New Zealand for next New Year's. Who knows what 2008 brings, but we are determined to keep this friendship going even though they are both much younger than we are
January 15 - Caroline's birthday. Happy Birthday!!! Well, today was the day finally to say good-bye to Brit and Axel on "Hello-World". We had supper and some wine and a bottle of champagne last night - our last meal together for quite some time, and this morning, after they checked their emails, checked out at customs and got their boat ready, they came by to give us a last hug, a last good-bye. We spent a wonderful 2 1/2 weeks together, with lots of evenings, sometimes, day hours together, and it all was fun. Now, they went to Marigot Bay on St. Lucia to resume their trek South. Brit's mother will join them in Bonair - a long way given that they want to visit pretty much every island, except for St. Vincent (they want to avoid the latter because of recent reports of violent attacks on sailors involving a machete, injuries, etc.). They will scuba dive in as many places a possible - we have a link to their website (www.sy-hello-world.com or ....de). Check it out. It is interesting with lots of pictures, and Brit has a great way of writing about their experiences...
We spent a very lazy day after seeing them off, taking pictures, reading, having a "nibble lunch" - just some cheese and crackers, accompanying our almost mandatory rum drink. We played Backgammon, did some more laundry so that everything is done before I fly up to New York tomorrow. We sat in the cockpit with a glass of wine, watching the sun go down and then some. Thank God, it is staying light longer than it did a week or so ago when, before 1800, it was pitch dark. Now, once still sees some dailight around 1820 or so.
We just finished supper - rice with shrimp in a sauce of creme fraiche, ketchup, herbes de Provence, salt, pepper, some hot pepper bits and a little white wine. It was delicious. Juergen is reading Harry Potter # 6, I am reading "The Conjuror's Bird", a book we had received from Marcie and David of "Nine of Cups". They are on their way to the Panama Canal - might actually long have reached it as they will transfer a sick friend's boat from Ushuaia, Argentina, to Uruguay, before they will resume their voyage through the canal and then towards New Zealand.
I have been giving Juergen instructions on how to use the stove, where he can find what, what needs to be eaten, to ensure that he takes the keys to the boat along when he goes ashore... It feels strange leaving him behind, but I have things to do that are important and urgent, and in a way I cannot wait to get to New York, in a way a dread the trip. I will make the best of it, have a long shopping list of things from food to a new car radio (ours got soaked in salt water at some point and has been dead ever since - and life without music is just no life at all...), etc., etc. I ordered an induction cooking plate which I hope has arrived in New York by now. This way, we can cook whether or not we have propane. You might remember that Brit one night cooked for all nine of us - in a Wok - on her induction plate. Well, this inspired us, and I ordered one that looked very similar to hers. Unfortunately, the company that made hers, seems not to offer them any more.
Meanwhile, we have had contact with Dietmar of "Romany Life" (you might remember that we had met him in St. Thomas). Dietmar is the one that showed Juergen how to use our water maker - and boy has it been handy ever since! Just yesterday, Juergen made a lot of water while the washing machine was running - just wonderful. We will meet up with him either her or some place further North, depending on his plans. We know that he will pick up a friend (his wife does not really like to go sailing with him) in Antigua - and we don't quite know when this will be, but we are determined to meet up with him, as we are to meeting up with Wolfgang and his wife after they return from Germany on January 20th. You see that our life is not boring but relaxed, and it has a lot of wonderful aspects of socializing. More when I am back from New York.
January 25 - I cannot believe it is 10 days ago that I wrote the last time, but then, I was in New York until the 22nd... Juergen picked me up from the airport after an uneventful flight back to Martinique (via San Juan, Puerto Rico). Chucky, "our driver" had picked me up at 0430 that morning. I was pretty exhausted by the time I arrived, but Juergen was full of energy, and so we went to a rum distillery not far from Le Marin to purchase rum and take a tour of the facilities. Unfortunately, the tour was in French because all the tourists, except for us, were French and the distillery was not in operation. They only operate certain months in the year when the sugar cane is ready for harvest. Still, it was fun walking around all the heavy machinery and sort of understanding how this all works. In the end, we received a description in English. Now we truly know.
On the 23rd, we invited Wolfgang and his wife Annegrete to join us for dinner. It was a nice relaxed evening. Last night, they reciprocated with a dinner and an evening of movies, slideshows and DVD presentations of various travels. We had wanted to show our our own Transatlantic DVD but it did not work on Wolfgang's computer. Now we have to check out whether it does work on ours.
Philipp had sent me his new rap DVD. I could not open it on my computer nor on Juergen's old Sony Vaio, but it worked on his "new" one - thank God. It is really very good, professional. We are proud of him and his friend Jonny who collaborate. This time, they involved five other people as actors - it is great. I regret that I cannot show it to you...
Now we are waiting for something to come here by FedEx, and then we can finally leave Martinique to go to Dominica. We both cannot wait to get moving again, but it may still take a few days.
January 27 - Sunday. Friends of Wolfgang's arrived yesterday, Eva and Ruediger from "Sola Gracie". The had arrived from Barbados that day. Wolfgang invited us for a "welcome party" as he had been anticipating their arrival. He even purchased a magnum Moet champagne, and Annegrete served prosciutto with melon and various cheeses. They are from Remscheid, a town not that far from my home town. We had a good time talking and getting to know one another. Before departing, we invited them for drinks for today - they accepted... We went out for dinner - we had planned on doing so for two days already. Unfortunately, dinner was mediocre at best. So we were back on the boat around 2100.
Today, we slept late. I had not really slept all night - too many things to think about - where to leave the boat for the next flight to New York, what things I will need to discuss with Phil, my contact at the printing firm, what other cards I could design, how to catalogue all for easy identification, particularly, once the fulfillment commences. Fulfillment is practically a type of warehousing which the printing firm will do for me - at a cost, of course. In order to save some of the cost they initially quoted, I want to ensure that their work load is minimized. So, around 0430, I finally got up to write it all down. By 0600 I think I finally fell asleep - to heavy rain which had been pounding on our deck almost all night.
We had a leisurely breakfast in the cockpit - the sun had come out as it mostly does in the mornings, even after a rainy night. We noticed that some of the local sailboats with square sails were all rigged - many more than the three or four we have gotten accustomed to seeing. So, we both got our cameras ready as the way these things are sailed is spectacular. There are 12 people on each boat, some of them sitting on boards far out, like on an outrig(ger?), depending on their wind point and the heel. See for yourself. I published a bunch of them just because their movements look almost like a type of ballet - very beautiful, and they sail rather fast.
Juergen scrubbed the waterline of Impromptu. The growth is coming back faster than we would like, also on the dinghy. So he cleaned the dinghy bottom as well. I, in the meantime, downloaded the pictures of the "welcome party" from yesterday as well as the sailing pictures I took this morning. In between, I began navigating from Le Marin where we are still anchored to Ste. Pierre, a harbor in the Northwest of Martinique and a great jump-off point for Dominica, the next island North of Martinique. From there, we are planning to go to the anchorage of the town of Roseau and spend a few days getting to know the island. To shorten our way North to Guadeloupe, our next island, we will stop over in the town of Portsmouth. Juergen just read - and it had been confirmed by Judith of "Hippopotamus" that there are nightly security guards criss-crossing the anchorage which resulted in a drop of crime from 15 in 2005, to four in 2006 and only 1 in 2007. Hopefully, by now, even the last thief or burglar has given up on even thinking of attacking / burglarizing. We are confident - a lot more than we used to be based on our pilot books which, of course, have been written more than a year or two ago. We will report our experience.
Tomorrow, I hope to hear that the proofs of my cards have been FedEx'd or UPS-ed to our home so that we should receive it the next day or so. Once we have received the proofs we can finally get on our way. We are both getting a little antsy...
Annegrete and Wolfgang came alone last night. Their friends were still too exhausted from their overnighter from Barbados to Le Marin. It was a nice evening. Wolfgang is looking to get the photos I took - including those of the regatta yesterday.
January 28 - Monday. We are sitting in the Mango Bar, drinking "eau gazeuse" and checking emails, internet information for a number of subjects - including our potential party for the family and some friends. I also spoke with "my printer" today who confirmed that the proofs should be sent to New York today - this means I might be getting them here the day or two thereafter. I cannot wait...
February 2 - we now know that we want to depart from Le Marin on Monday morning and sail the about 35 nm to Ste. Pierre, a harbor on the Northwest coast of Martinique and perfect jump-off point for Dominica. Nothing is carved in stone, but we did receive the proofs of my cards, reviewed and returned them to the printing firm and are, therefore, finally free to move out of this harbor. The process has been slow and painful. Hopefully, all will be the way we expect it so that we can calmly sail to our next destination.
We did some last minute shopping, went to see the birthplace of Josephine, the emperess and spouse of Napoleon Bonaparte (though we really did not see the building, just the general property which, of course, also housed a "canerie" (a sugar plantation), had a nice evening on "Baros" last night and will have another evening on our boat, a last good-bye with the crew of Baros, Wolfgang and Annegrete, and that of "Sola Gracia", Eva and Ruediger, the day after tomorrow before heading "up North". We read up on the town of Ste. Pierre and decided that it might be worth a two-day stopover before moving about 60 nm up to Prince Rupert Bay, Portsmouth, Dominica. Today, the weather was rather strange. The early morning started out with heavy rainfall. Then, the sun came out, and the sky looked just gorgeous. Still, we did not trust the picture and closed all the hatches before taking the dinghy to the Mango Bar. Juergen returned our rental car from yesterday while I already tried to access the internet - as usual, a very slow process. The bar was mobbed, even around 1015 in the morning, and it was initially impossible to find a space for the two of us together. We finally could both plug in as well. I checked out the hotel site in Maine which we are seriously considering for our 130th birthday celebration from 2007 - to be held in July 2008, checked out the various cottages, responded to some emails, etc., etc.
I had finally received a login ID and password from the National Stationery Show. Unfortunately, one or both of them don't seem to be working. Another email requesting help. I also finally managed to fix our website. For some reason, two pages, this one and the corresponding "gallery page" had gotten lost. Well, they are both up and running, this time even with Axel's thumnail included. Why that did not work, I have no idea.
We had lunch in the cockpit, a rum drink, beef carpaccio with some chafed parmegiono reggiano and some olive oil dribs, some cheese as "dessert". The rest of the afternoon, we played Backgammon and read. I don't know why, but I have recently been winning against Juergen, cutting over 1,000 points off of his enormous (88,000 plus) winnings. We are now below 87,000, still way too high, but if I continue like that, there may be hope...
I read up about Guadeloupe, the island to be visited after Dominica - possibly with a stopover at Marie-Galante or Les Saintes before actually getting to Point a Pitre, the main harbor of the Terre Haute island of Guadeloupe. There seems to be a lot to see and do, meaning that we will be there for at least 10 days or so. Nothing is carved in stone. I said this earlier, as weather and whatever we feel like doing have a lot to do with what we are doing, where we are heading. Byron just emailed an invitation to his and Amy's combined 100th birthday on March 8 though Amy's birthday is on February 29 and Byron's late December. We will check flights to see whether we can combine it with a flight to New York. We would love to. Another chore to be completed tomorrow. Most likely that flight would be out of Antigua, the island focused on after Guadeloupe. - So many things to consider...