We knew when we moved on board last January that our transition into a cruising lifestyle would be temporary. The cruising kitty we built up after selling our house in Denver would eventually run dry and we would need to find employment again. I think that knowing this adventure is finite has helped us overlook the negatives (there are a couple) and really appreciate every incredible moment of this journey. It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s always been an adventure and that is exactly what we set out to find when we left the dock last February.
Of all the Leeward Islands, I was most excited to visit Dominica. We love the outdoors and we couldn’t wait to explore its untouched beauty. Known as Nature Island, Dominica’s green countryside is brightly colored with beautiful exotic flowers. Its mountain peaks reach the clouds and the waterfalls are dramatic in both height and volume. More than once, we were told by locals that Dominica has 365 rivers, “one for every day of the year.” It was time to get our hiking shoes muddy.
While we were replacing our rigging in Martinique, it wasn’t all work and no play. We did pull ourselves away from the boat to explore this beautiful island we never planned on visiting.
An Unexpected Trip to Martinique
We had previously decided that Dominica (blog post to come soon) would be the farthest south we would venture this year. We’re planning to sail back to the States before hurricane season and we’re looking forward to spending some more time in the Bahamas with its plethora of white sandy beaches, mahi mahi, and lobster. However, we’ve already learned how quickly plans can change while cruising. It seems like mother nature and boat maintenance are constantly creating obstacles and we’re no longer surprised by delays. But we never would have predicted the events that occurred on the morning of Friday, January 13th that caused us to make an unexpected trip to Martinique.
After the Christmas winds died down, we decided to say goodbye to Deshaies and head south to explore more of Guadeloupe.
Our first stop was Pigeon Island. The reef and sea life inside the Cousteau Nation Park is protected, meaning that anchoring and fishing is strictly forbidden. We anchored in the nearby cove for a couple of nights. We broke out the dive hookah and went exploring underwater. The water was the clearest we’ve seen since the Bahamas and the coral formations were just breathtaking. We hardly even noticed that it was raining buckets the entire time we were out. We dove until our flippers gave us blisters, then returned to the boat for another rolly night. Even though the winds had calmed down, it would be a few days before the seas followed suit.
We had heard that strong northerly winds in December wreak havoc on otherwise calm anchorages, but we had never experienced this first hand. Last season we didn’t leave our safe harbor until February and saw normal trade-winds most our way south. We saw that these ‘Christmas winds’ were in the forecast, so the first chance we got, we booked it from Nevis to Deshaies, Guadeloupe. We planned to ride out the strong winds in a well-protected anchorage while munching on baguettes and sipping espresso.
At first glance, the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis look like the green section of a Crayola crayon set. All shades are visible: Fern, Granny Smith Apple, Medium Chrome Green, Sea Green, Forest Green, Shamrock, Mountain Meadow, etc. It’s no wonder the African Green Vervet Monkey thrives on these two islands. The monkeys are believed to have originally arrived on the island via slave ships. The island’s fertile soil and tropical climate created the perfect environment to grow sugar cane, so sugar and tobacco plantations were a key part of St. Kitts and Nevis’s history. To provide the large amounts of labor needed for the industry, African slaves were imported in large numbers in the 1600s.