Monday, April 1, 2019

Sweet Bequia Once Again


Ladies lunch on Bequia

Bequia whale distribution.  The islanders harpooned a humpback whale and are using all the parts to distribute much needed food to the residents.  This is an amazing picture taken by our friend Nicolle.

Steering the Friendship Rose schooner toward the Tobago Cays.  Laurie Corbett (Cat Tales) is photo bombing as usual!

Rum tour on Bequia

 Another shot of the rum tour, in case you couldn't guess!

Sailors lunch in the Bequia hills!

Maria helping Steve steer the Friendship Rose between squalls

Dawn Corbett (Cat Tales) showing Steve where the flat flounder is hiding in the reef

Laurie Corbett (Cat Tales) warning the big ship to stay away from the reef?

S/Y Aspen – April 2, 2019 – Log #164
Aspen Position: 13 degrees 00’ N  061 degrees 14’ W
Bequia, St. Vincent/Grenadines, Caribbean

It is hard to believe nearly a month has gone by since we arrived in Sweet Bequia.  Bequia is part of the Grenadines and belong to St. Vincent, another x-British country.  While the mainland of St. Vincent is pretty “rough”, Bequia is a jewel in the Caribbean and very sailor friendly.

We took a ferry to the mainland of St. Vincent when our friend Brent Weigner of Wyoming arrived on a cruise ship to run a marathon with a group of other passengers and local runners.  Watching him run up and down the old airport runway was intriguing, to say the least.  At least Maria had a massage in a beautiful villa overlooking Indian Bay while we were there too, followed by KFC for lunch.  Now those two things were a real treat!

Back on Bequia, we took a day trip on the locally built, 100 foot schooner, Friendship Rose with 18 of our sailor friends to the Tobago Cays.  What a difference it made not to worry about squalls, running aground or hitting another vessel since we were all passengers.  And we could drink as much rum as we wanted!

Then there are the rum tours, hikes to remote lookouts and beaches, ladies only lunches and just playing in the sea with sailor friends that help pass the tropical days in these little latitudes.

Three days ago the islanders on Bequia got their first whale in over two years.  Bequia is one of the few places on the planet that is allowed to take a whale for food, since their heritage is whaling.  The International Whaling Commission grants them four whales per year, but that number of whales is never taken.

When a whale is harpooned, just like in days of old, it is drug to shore where the local population strips the whale of everything and distributes all the meat to every family on the island.  The whale provides much needed food for the island residents.  The sight was very amazing as you can see by the picture on our blog.

Now that spring is here we will eventually sail further south toward Grenada, when the winds, seas and time is right and continue our exploration of the Windward Islands in the sun.

Sail on, sail on Aspen…

PS - You can track our voyages using this: https://us0-share.inreach.garmin.com/SYAspen
Also, our book, Voyage Into Hell, is available at Amazon.com

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Rodney Bay Marina

 Aspen at the dock in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia.  Aspen is the sailboat with the solar panels on the stern.

A drone picture of Rodney Bay Marina, looking northeast.

Another drone picture of Rodney Bay and Pigeon Island where Fort Rodney is located.

Happy hour with our Danish and Norwegian friends on Touché (Judith, Haakon, Odd and Anne-Lise) along with our Idaho friends on Dream Catcher (Dean & Kim) in the marina.

The view from Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

Maria standing next to our long-time sailing friend's new boat (Ger and Michael).  We sailed with them half way around the world.  Then their previous boat, a Malo, sunk while they were crossing the Indian Ocean and had to be rescued.  Amazing!

Cas en Bas Beach, St. Lucia and the spent booster stage of a rocket that was launched from French Guiana.  

Cas en Bas Beach group hike with Joann (La Vie), Valeria (Iriana), Maria (Aspen) and Kim (Dream Catcher).

Cas en Bas beach and horse back riders enjoying the bay.  The kayak is for safety, as is the guy in the water leading the horses!


S/Y Aspen – March 6, 2019 – Log #163
Aspen Position: 14 degrees 04’ N  060 degrees 57’ W
Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, Caribbean

Yes, Aspen is still in the same place as last time and still enjoying St. Lucia. 

We received our ocean shipment of replacement parts and have been installing them, slowly.  We needed a new toilet and hot water heater.  Those were the big items.  Then there were the sails.  Two new sails were made by Mack Sails in Florida.  After many long ocean passages, it was time for new nice white billowing things that fly from the mast.  We will see if Aspen enjoys her new suit of sails!

Of course we also had lots of little projects to keep us busy, as is always the case on Aspen.

Maria enjoyed going to the women’s weekly luncheons.  No guys are allowed at the luncheons and no boat talk is accepted either!  How much fun could that be, said Steve?  That’s why guys are not invited.

Steve even got some geophysical consulting work done, using Google Fi.  Google Fi allows us to have internet, voice and text messaging without breaking the bank with phone fees.  It is like being at home and no one even knows the difference.  Nice!

It looks like Aspen’s bow will be turned south tomorrow as we head to Bequia, home to lots of cheap lobster, great beach bars and more friends and happy hours.  We’ll see if we can untie our bow lines that seem to have been in one place a long time.

Sail on, sail on Aspen…

You can track our voyages using this: https://us0-share.inreach.garmin.com/SYAspen
Also, our book, Voyage Into Hell, is available at Amazon.com

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Lots of Sailing

Maria sailing toward Dominica

We just had to post another picture of the sail to Dominica, in the winter time with no huge seas or high winds! Now that is unusual!!!

Maria and Michele on Tarentela during a hike in Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe

Panoramic view of Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe

The friendly customs house at Portsmouth, Dominica

Sunset in Portsmouth, Dominica with a couple tall ships too! Yes, there was a green flash that evening.

Aspen on a mooring in Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe

Le Marin, Martinique.  Where the French fleet hangs out for the winter months!

Hiking on Martinique, near Ste. Anne.

Compare Martinique hiking with Dominica.  Dominica, the nature island!

I rarely post flower or plant pictures but this one from Dominica was just too stunning.

Daniel, our boat boy, rowing up the Indian River in Portsmouth, Dominica.

The voodoo ladies house in Pirates of the Caribbean, up the Indian River.  Or at least what is left of the house after the hurricanes of 2017.

Mural in Portsmouth, Dominica.  We love the colors!

The Cabrits in Portsmouth, Dominica.  It is a peaceful fort these days, unlike during times gone by.

Captain Steve in his normal position on the boat - fixing things!

Pigeon Island and Fort Rodney; Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Happy Hour on Tarentela, our friends from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada (boats represented were Murdina, Peace Keeper, Dakota Dream and Aspen)

The brighter side of happy hour; Michele (Tarentela), Maria (Aspen), Kitty (Peace Keeper) and Tina (Murdina)

Hiking near St. Anne, Martinique on one of Anina's (Prism) death marches.

Holiday dinner hosted by Tarentela with a lot of happy sailors!

Just one happy hour after another, or so it seems!

Flashback to a party on Dakota Dream, although the owners of Dakota Dream were back in North Dakota so we kind of commandeered their vessel.

Tarentela and Al's shirt from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia (not to be confused with that other village, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

 The admiral Maria cleaning, as usual, on Aspen


S/Y Aspen – February 7, 2019 – Log #162
Aspen Position: 14 degrees 04’ N  060 degrees 57’ W
Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, Caribbean

Once holidays down in these little latitudes are finished, sailors take to the wind and head north or south depending on their dreams.

Aspen sailed her crew north to Dominica and then Iles des Saintes, part of Guadeloupe.  We can’t seem to stay away from the fantastic French islands for some reason.  It isn’t because of the rum since French rum doesn’t use molasses and tastes like jet fuel, except for the lethal and tasty ti-punch.

It must be the wine, cheeses and great hiking trails to secluded beaches that attracts us.

Dominica is always our favorite anchorage and this time was no different.  The Sunday night BBQ in Portsmouth is an all-you-can-eat affair complete with rum punch (made with 151 proof rum of course).

We took the Indian River tour once again but this time used Daniel, a very knowledgeable boat boy, proud of his Dominica heritage and island’s nature.  Yes, Pirates of the Caribbean movie was filmed in the Indian River but Johnny Depp is long departed.  Only traces of the voodoo lady remain.  There were no sightings of Sexy Bones this year.  He is still somewhere in the bush after last years’ devastating hurricanes.

We turned Aspen’s bow south and returned to St. Lucia where our ocean shipment of much needed parts will arrive sometime this week, or so we have been told.  A ship always needs a lot of TLC so this is the time we chose to do that kind of work.

Maria also gets her women’s’ only lunches where amps and volts cannot be mentioned!

Captain Steve gets to work on Aspen and run in the forest and beaches on the north end of the island, communing with nature or just trying to stay healthy, or something like that.

Aspen’s berth/slip in Rodney Bay Marina adjoins the charter boat fleets.  That gives us a lot of entertainment, most days, watching revelers find their charter boats and eventually sail away.  We’ve never seen so much food, rum and beer put onboard a boat as we have here.  It must be party time in the islands!

Toward the end of this month, Aspen and her crew should be repaired, rested and ready to head south to the Grenadines, among rainbows and clouds on the horizon.

Sail on, sail on Aspen…

PS - You can track our voyages using this: https://us0-share.inreach.garmin.com/SYAspen
Also, our book, Voyage Into Hell, is available at Amazon.com

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

New Year in Martinique

 Happy Hour in Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia with sailing friends (Michele-Tarentela, Cindy-Sitatunga, Captain Steve-Aspen, Skip-Peace Keeper, John-Stop Knott, Al-Tarentela, Dan-Sitatunga, Fred-Dakota Dream, Admiral Maria-Aspen and Kitty-Peace Keeper)

 Christmas Eve celebrations on Dakota Dream with sailor friends - Hmmm, there seem to be lots of parties in the tropics for some reason!

 Aspen at anchor in Ste. Anne, Martinique waiting for the New Year!  Yes, this is a drone shot.
Soufriere volcano on St. Lucia - also known as the drive in volcano since you can drive right into the caldera.  Yes, it is a dormant volcano that will erupt again in the future.  Wonder when that will be! 

Drone picture of Rodney Bay, St. Lucia and all the anchored sailboats

Bubbling sulfur springs at the Soufriere volcano on St. Lucia. Maria is with Skip and Kitty from Peace Keeper.  The boiling sulfur mud is supposed to be good for you?!?

Pigeon Island, St. Lucia with anchored boats in the background.  This was another drone picture where Captain Steve nearly lost the drone because of a slight mis-calculation of how far he could fly away and return safely when flying into the gusty trade winds!  Luckily everything turned out ok with 5% battery life remaining.

Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia.  A very nice place to spend time when not sailing!

New Year's Eve celebration with sailor friends on Dakota Dream in Ste. Anne, Martinique.  Shown are Mike (Jack Fish-Orange shirt), Sandy-Dakota Dream, Michele-Tarentela, Captain Steve-Aspen, Dan-Sitatunga, Charlie-Prism, Anina-Prism, Cindy-Sitatunga, Admiral Maria-Aspen and Fred-Dakota Dream.

Sunrise on New Year's Day, Ste. Anne Martinique with the ever-present rainbows Martinique is famous for.  Yes, it rains a lot in Martinique!


S/Y Aspen – January 1, 2019 – Log #161
Aspen Position: 14 degrees 25’ N  060 degrees 53’ W
Ste. Anne, Martinique, Caribbean

Holidays in the Caribbean are a whirlwind of activities.  Fireworks light the night sky as restaurants cater to the sailing crowd.  Then there are the beach pot lucks and land based buffets to keep everyone well fed and happy.

In the French islands the holiday store closings are brief and not nearly as extensive as the x-British islands.  That is a good thing because boats always need much needed parts to keep them working, especially around the holiday season when boats have a tendency to break at the most inopportune times.

Boat hopping for Christmas cheer, rum and meals is the order of the day, instead of sailing during this time of year.  Of course during the day there are hikes with cafe stops along the way for everyone to enjoy. 

Now it is time to rest and recuperate before sailing off to the next destination among the rainbows and clouds on the horizon.

Sail on, sail on Aspen…

Also, our book, Voyage Into Hell, is available at Amazon.com