Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas in the Caribbean

 My friend Brent Weigner at the finish of a 38 mile trail race on Martinique.  I paced him the last 5 miles so I had an easy run, as opposed to his great feat.  The race was Brent's 149th country in which he has run a marathon or longer distance.  Oh yes, Brent holds the world record for number of countries!
The view of Ste. Anne, Martinique from high up on Aspen's mast.

The muscle to winch me up the mast was provided by Laurie (of catamaran Cat Tales fame).  Maria just supervised the heavy lift!

Another aerial picture of the anchorage at Ste. Anne, Martinique from Aspen's mast.

Sailing past the infamous HMS Diamond Rock on Martinique

The rainbows on the flower island of Martinique are so vivid!

Maria admiring the Mini-Transat boats in Le Marin, Martinique.  These 20 foot boats raced across the Atlantic Ocean from France to Le Marin, Martinique - all single handed!

Captain Steve deep into fixing the head (toilet) on Aspen.  What a mess!

A Friend of Denis (FOD) meeting on Aspen with our friends (L-R Steve, Dawn-Cat Tales, Brian-Peace&Plenty, Laurie-Cat Tales, Lorna-Peace&Plenty, and Admiral Maria).  Denis was our weatherman for many sailing seasons in the Caribbean before he sold his boat this year, of all things. 

Admiral Maria with our new batteries and the old batteries still needing to be lifted out from that little space on the left (at 70 pounds EACH)!

Our friends Katrin and Steve on Dorado in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia.  We sailed around the world with them and haven't seen them since 2011.

S/Y Aspen – December 21, 2017 – Log #154
Aspen Position: 14 degrees 25’ N  060 degrees 53’ W
Ste. Anne, Martinique, Caribbean

Yes, it is that festive time of year in the Caribbean where rainbow colors paint the morning sky above our anchored sailboat Aspen in French Martinique.

Holiday hams are plentiful in the supermarkets, along with pate, cheese, baguettes, French wines and of course rum.

And then there is the music!  Christmas songs from days past are played everywhere in villages and towns on this flower island while children wait for the beginning of their school holidays to celebrate the coming of Santa Claus.

Santa might have a very deep tan and be dressed a little different by wearing flip flops and a Rasta hat but the message is still the same.  It is definitely Christmas time in da islands!

These sailors on Aspen spend their Christmas
in the harbor on the hook
Ste Anne is hot and sunny so no work today,
Let’s shelve the old logbook

The mast and shrouds are filled with lights
‘Neath the waning of the moon
There is an air of celebration within the realm of King Neptune

Christmas is a time that’s filled with music, rum and cheer
The waterfront is reveling - the season has begun
These sailors spend their Christmas in a harbor having fun!

The continents keep drifting but the children sing and play
‘Cause nothing really matters, after all it’s almost Christmas Day
(with apologies to Jimmy…)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all our friends, wherever they may be!!

Sail on, sail on Aspen…

Also, our book, Voyage Into Hell, is available at

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

French Wine and Cheeses

Mount Pelee on Martinique with a rare cloudless summit.

Maria enjoying a Coka light in Martinique by the beach

Grand Anse d'Arlet, Martinique with Aspen in the field of anchored boats

Some beach scenes from Martinique.  The sailboat in the last picture was beached during a storm.  So sad...

S/Y Aspen – December 6, 2017 – Log #153
Aspen Position: 14 degrees 25’ N  060 degrees 53’ W
St. Anne, Martinique, Caribbean

The flower island of Martinique, oh la la!  In the Caribbean it doesn’t get much better than this for French wine, cheeses, beaches and French culture.  Oh yes, there are also lots of boat part stores here (chandleries) to fix what happens to be wrong with anyone’s boat.

What?  It isn’t all about swimming in the warm Caribbean Sea, sitting on white sand beaches sipping rum punches, peacefully sailing amongst the little islands in the sun or having BBQ’s amongst the anchored boats in a peaceful secluded bay?

Well sure, that happens but there is also the OTHER part of sailing we don’t talk about very often:  Fixing one’s boat in exotic places.

The Admiral and I arrived in Le Marin, Martinique and decided to kick back and relax, as usual.  Well, Aspen had other plans for us.  One thing after another needed attention on our sailboat.  Here is the list of things we did the first week in Martinique:

1.  Installed a new Rocna anchor while floating around – that was a challenge to say the least since Maria had to skillfully steer Aspen amongst the anchored fleet of boats as Captain Steve hung his body over the front of Aspen while hanging onto 55 pounds of anchor, with one hand, and trying to attach the chain to it without dumping the new anchor into the bay and losing it forever.
2.  Got the water maker running again – Captain Steve had to dive underneath Aspen and find what was causing a shortage of water problem.  The water intake opening was entirely plugged, for some odd reason, with a white substance.  Many ‘hold your breath for a long time’ dives later, we had water flowing into the water maker and it began working.
3.  Changed the third head hose (bathroom plumbing) that we have been dreading for 5 years.  The Captain had already changed the other two hoses but this one is the worst you could imagine.  The hose was completely blocked with calcium carbonate.  The problem was to figure out how to get to the hidden hose deep inside the belly of Aspen and it was a royal pain.  I had to cut the head sink cabinet floor with a reciprocating saw I happened to bring down with me this season.  Without that I would have been hosed (don’t you like the pun???).  I also had to avoid cutting into the hull and sinking us – it was that bad.  5 hours later we had a functioning head again!  Maria is really happy about that.
4.  Our onboard batteries that supply electricity on Aspen for things such as lights, fans, and everything you can think of, decided they had worked long enough (2 seasons) so it was time to get four new ones.  Hauling 300 pounds of batteries from the town in our trusty dinghy and heaving the batteries onto Aspen worked up quite a sweat, as you might imagine in the tropical sun.  After installing the new batteries, the old batteries (another 300 pounds) had to be hauled to the garbage area for a proper burial. 
5.  Captain Steve found his cherry beer at the great French supermarket so now he can drink a complete beer while Admiral Maria sips her very reasonably priced rose French wine from the south of France.  Now that is what Caribbean sailing is all about!

Sail on, sail on Aspen…

Also, our book, Voyage Into Hell, is available at