March 1 – loop closed 

We officially closed the loop. Finally cleared the Canal at 16:40 (6:40pm) today.  We rafted up with two other boats and were closely followed by a barge and cargo ship. Found a place to anchor in La Playita about 7pm.  Tomorrow we head to Golfito, Costa Rica to prepare Chesapeake for the transport ship arriving March 10. 

March 1 – half way through 

We were the last boat to go through the canal last night.  Just after sunset we went through rafted up against a Japanese boat and safely away from the tugboat and cargo ship.  Now we’re in Gatun Lake waiting for the next advisor to come out and guide us through Mira Flores lock. 

Photos are in reverse order ending with this morning. 

Feb. 11 – Montserrat land tour

Had a pleasant tour of the island with a chance to walk around the abandoned town of Plymouth. 

We leave Sunday for Panama. Farewell Caribbean. 

What’s left after the 2010 volcanic eruption 


The Angelos building shows how much mud and ash came down in Plymouth. the first floor is where the arches are – filled with volcanic residue. 

An abandoned apartment full of volcanic ash


The old museum


We’re anchored out there at Little Bay.  Beautiful spot with extremely clear water but too rolly. 

Feb. 2 – almost leaving Martinique

Here we sit anchored off St. Pierre, Martinique.  Water is refreshingly warm with interesting wreckage nearby for snorkeling.  We were here 3 weeks ago heading back to Dominica with Karen and Jason on Yolo when our engine overheated and we had to turn back to St. Anne and ultimately Le Marin marina.  3 weeks, several boat bucks, 36 scrabble games, and too many baguettes later we got to leave with a repaired engine.  We’d blown a head gasket which we were told was unusual in a Yanmar engine with less than 10,000 hours.

So, we’re finally heading back to Dominica tomorrow as we day hop to Guadeloupe then Montserrat where we plan to sail over to Panama (about 9 days) to transit the Canal.  It feels like we’re being shot though a cannon with such a tight schedule to arrive in Golfito, Costa Rica for the transporter ship to take Chesapeake up to Ensenada.  It’s not the first time we’ve had to change plans, wait then rush then wait.

The red square on the map is where we are now.  You’ll see the Caribbean map showing where we’re headed.

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After 21 days, several boat bucks, and 36 scrabble games we’re checked out of le Marin, Martinique. It feels great to be anchored again. Today we day hop up to Dominica, Guadeloupe, Montserrat then take about 7 days to sail to Panama. We’re looking forward to coming home.

Feb. 1 – we might get to escape

It’s not all suntanning with little umbrella drinks on Chesapeake stuck (literally) in Martinique (part of France NOT a territory). Just yesterday after a day of cleaning up from  repairs we’re still not underway. Again. Sigh.

21 days and 3 boat bucks later we’re ready to leave Le Marin Marina.  It’s a Med tie meaning we’re backed into the dock with 2 lines and 2 lines on the bow out to 2 mooring balls.   Jim will navigate between the 2 buoys (1 barely above waterline) and release the 2 stern lines while I gather the bow lines. If the repaired engine runs smooth under pressure we’ll joyously leave little France behind tomorrow.

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leaving the marina

Dec. 29 – reading in exotic places

I’ve been meaning to do this for the last couple years.  One of the benefits of cruising is having lots of time to read.  This year I started getting ebooks from my home library which has saved me lots of money.  Sadly the popularity of ebooks has diminished the book swaps but I’ve still been given some gems.  In St. John, USVI, I met 3 wonderful women volunteering at the Nat’l. Park Service office who gave me some good suggestions.  I truly enjoyed the hours spent chatting with them about our favorite reads.  I’ve also met new cruisers on the Salty Dawg Rally this fall and fell into lengthy discussions about books and authors. So although I’m not picking up physical books nearly as much as before, I’m meeting new people who are avid readers as well.

Here’s my favorites from 2016 which is only my 5* reads out of the 57 books for 2016:

The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge and the World’s Greatest Cheese by Michael Paterniti

Yes Chef by Marcus Samuelsson

In The Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides

Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Elephant Moon by John Sweeney

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

11/22/63 by Stephen King

Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan

My goal was to read 60 books this year.  I still have 3 days so who knows, I might just add another book or two.

Please drop me a line if you have recommendations.

 

 

 

 

 

Dec. 28 – Indian River

Portsmouth has a great system for welcoming cruisers.  A member of PAYS (Portsmouth Association of Yacht Security)  came out to meet us and guide us to a mooring ball ($10/day) and tie us on, take us to Customs and will arrange car rentals and tours for us.  They also put on an all you can eat BBQ every Saturday night ($20/pp).

We took a tour up Indian River with Providence yesterday. The river is named for the Caribe Indians who first settled here. We saw kingfisher, yellow-crowned night heron, bananaquit and several hummingbirds.