Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Caribbean Beauty

With Moonshadow anchored back in Antigua where we spent Christmas, it seems a good time to reflect on the two and half months and 750 miles sailing down to Grenada and back exploring the beautiful Caribbean.

As we continue to learn about Moonshadow, our traveling home that permits journeys to such beautiful places in comfort and safety, we continue to learn that there's a lot of work in keeping such a machine going.  Ask any cruiser and they'll tell you the definition of cruising is "fixing boats in exotic places".  Just don't look for sympathy from cruisers for the work you find yourself doing maintaining your boat…they've all been there and done that!  While it's never fun to spend a day in a hot engine room getting greasy and sweaty doing things like replacing this rusted out exhaust elbow on the generator's diesel engine, we're reminded how fortunate we were to find Moonshadow so well equipped with spare parts. 

 In this case, as with so many others, we simply go shopping in the storage space under our berth and find exactly what we need to make the necessary repairs.  Thanks George!

But those memories will fade while the beauty of this place will remain forever.  All around us are spectacular sights.  

Take a walk on the beach...

... who knows what you will discover.

While on passage, the ocean never looks the same.   

Sometimes it is grey and threatening...

...and other times it is soft and serene

There are a million shades of blue in the ocean.  

With a calm spot on the surface you'll swear you can see shafts of light down a hundred feet.

On some passages, we leave before sunrise to insure an arrival before dark, which allows us to observe the sunrise.  In photographs, a sunrise and a sunset might look the same, but the experience is much different.  

While a sunset offers the chance to reflect on all the events of the day past…

...a sunrise brings forth the promise of the day to come with all of its new sights and experiences yet to be discovered.

And then there's the beauty of a full moon rising followed by all the stars.  Billions of stars.

Below the surface there are yet more wonders to be discovered in the coral reefs...

This little guy thinks he's invisible...
And on the surface there's always beauty to be found

On our way north, we stopped at islands we hadn't seen while sailing south.  Between Bequia and Martinique, we changed over to the French courtesy flag which brought back fond memories for John.  The last time he'd sailed under these colors was upon landfall at the Marquesas in 1971.

We checked in to Martinique at Fort de France, a big city, but after chasing some hooligan kids out of our dinghy at the public wharf, decided to leave immediately for St. Pierre, two hours to the north.  

St. Pierre was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1902 and is still recovering.

There are some interesting ruins to see and it was fun to walk around this quiet seaside town that was once a commercial shipping hub for Martinique and the surrounding islands.

This is the old theater, next to which was the jail that housed Louis-Auguste Cyparis. He is one of the few survivors of the 1902 eruption of Mt. Pelee because he was in the jail.  That and because the town was deserted.

Next on our way north to Antiqua was a stop at Les Saintes, a group of small islands just south of the main island in Guadeloupe   Les Saintes is a very picturesque small town that is busy in the day with cruise ship vistors but quiets down at night when the cruise ships all leave.  

They had WiFi ashore which is sometimes all a place needs to rank high on our list.  It helps when the WiFi is at a beachside restaurant with a good Chardonay.

Even better for our tropical critique was Au Bon Vivre, the restaurant where we celebrated 39 years of blissful marriage.

That's a lot of sunsets!