Monday, July 29, 2019

Fun in Martinique!


SandStar heading back to Martinique


By Kathy
Actual Dates: January 11th – 30th 2019

**Special note about the picture above: We rarely get a picture of SandStar under sail in the great blue sea but our trip back to Martinique was calm and beautiful. We sailed back with our wahoo catching friends on Soulstice who took this amazing shot from their boat. 

We have had a great time catching fish and hanging out with great friends in St. Lucia but it is time to head back north to Martinique. We were there in December for a whirlwind week before Christmas and then with the SAVA crew and Camp SandStar. Now we are going back to see the island at a much slower pace without the frenzy of the holidays.

Time to change the flag!!

As soon as we arrived back we were able to attend our friend Antoine’s 5th birthday party at the local pirate beach restaurant. We had a great lunch with friends and a really good French birthday cake. We also had some time to catch up with boat friends for some swim parties when we returned.

Happy Birthday Antoine!

Time for cake!


Swim Party Time! Who will win the King of the Paddle Board Game? 



More swim fun on the bridle lines

Speaking of food. You know the saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”? Well the same is true in the islands. When we visit any island we like to embrace the culture and food. Martinique is a little different from the other islands we have visited because it is VERY French. When you are in a French island you have the opportunity to shop like the French and eat like the French and we took that job very seriously.  

Jack working on his French bread pizzas

This is one of our favorite dinners to make in the French islands - fresh baguettes, pizza sauce, and toppings!

Emma's fancy pizzas!

Another regular French dinner - fresh baguettes and a meat and cheese plate

Window shopping!

Baguette Heaven!

Blue cheese, pear, and lardon salad. What is a lardon?? It is package of salty bacon nibbles. They became a staple on SandStar.

St. Pierre Veggie Market - My favorite veggie market on the island 


Soon after we arrived back in Martinique Dan’s parents came to visit us. They stayed in a very cute apartment near the St. Anne area and we were able to meet up with them every day for eating, beach time, relaxing, games, and some more great eating. The kids even had a chance to stay with Grandma and Grandpa while they were here so SandStar was very quiet for a few days.

Cliff enjoying the beach!

A fun dinner out with Cliff and Karen. We cooked all of our meat on hot stones.



After our Grandma and Grandpa visit it was time to start making plans to leave Martinique. We did one last stop in the big stores for provisioning.  Then Emma and I spent an afternoon in St. Anne walking through the little stores and ending our afternoon with a French chocolate sundae!

Our first time seeing a dollar bin in the islands

A little afternoon fun in St. Anne

And the treat at the end of our afternoon

Time to head back to see the boys


We are off to St. Pierre which is our last stop before leaving Martinique. On the way we were sailing up the coast and out of nowhere we were surrounded by racing Hobie cats. They were going fast!! We just kept our course and they zoomed around SandStar.

Good-bye St. Anne. It has been fun!

The speedy Hobie cats

Some of the racers even waved to the kids

Once we arrived in St. Pierre we were in for a big treat – no clouds on Mt. Pelée!! We could see the top! The weather was looking good for a hike up the next day so we decided to make the trek to the start of the trail. We tried to rent a car but we couldn’t find a place that had one available so we took a local bus to the closest town. We were dropped off at the bottom and were pretty sure we were in the right spot when we saw the sign for the hiking trail. Little did we know it was a good 2 miles uphill to the start of the trail. After lots of belly aching we made it to the refugio and found  a pick-me-up ice cream before we started hiking the real trail.

A clear afternoon sky to see the volcano

Mt. Pelée

The clouds are moving back in as Jack swings around the boat

Who's ready for a hike??

Chatting a local cow right before we reached the trail

The refugio. It doesn't look like much but they had cold drinks and ice cream inside!


This was an amazing hike. One of my favorites that we have ever done. It was a good mix of some pretty steep hills but they were just steep enough you could use your upper body to make your way up (and down). Sometimes the sky was completely clear and then in a few steps we were walking through the clouds. The views were absolutely stunning all of the way up the mountain. Our spirits were pretty high on this hike and everyone had a great time especially when we ended it with a celebratory ice cream sundae at the end!

Walking into the clouds



Oh the drama!

At the top!

The start of the le Chinois trail that goes down into the caldera

We had a late start to the day so we did not get to go all of the way down


Snack time on our way back down

A second later - When some things are caught on camera at just the right time

Fantastic weather for our hike!

A view of St. Pierre

Down, down, down!


Good-bye Martinique!! We had a great Christmas, great food, and great company!!!

Dan getting ready for some fishing on our way to Dominica



Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Something Smells Fishy Around Here!!




By Kathy
Actual Dates: January 3rd – January 11th

Happy 2019!! We decided to start this year off with a nautical U-turn. After lots of hugs and good-byes to the SAVA crew we headed south. On our way to Martinique we just had a small glimpse of St. Lucia for one night. Now it is time to head back and check it out and if we are lucky we might catch another fish.

We had a nice, comfortable, fast sail to St. Lucia on January 3rd as we headed toward Marigot Bay. There was a rumor this bay had mooring balls and if you were moored you could use the resort pool and hot showers. The kids were super excited! As we were approaching Marigot we started the engines so we could drop the sails. Right as I was walking into the saloon to turn the engines on we heard the fishing line go nuts -ZING! Whatever was on the line was running fast!!! We quickly started the engines and got everything set to reel the fish. Dan and Sam started the process of reeling in the fish and we were shocked to see another WAHOO!!! To bring in a fish of this size I had to take reel and Dan had to get the gaff ready. Since we were bringing in the fish on the starboard side of our boat the boys had the job of removing the cushions to slide the fish over the couch area. So who is driving the boat when all of this is happening??? Emma was driving. Yes, the 13 year old has the helm! This was a true all family effort.

Dan and Sam reeling in the fish. We didn't know what we had yet!

Boys + Wahoo

This pictures barely happened. It was a heavy fish!





Once we got the fish on the boat we were amazed at the size. This one was a lot bigger than the last wahoo! After lots of pictures and high fives we headed into Marigot.

Now what to do with this fish??? Well you have to rally the troops for some fish parties. Our friends on Soulstice were in the Pitons and they said they would be up the next day to share the feast. We also contacted new friends that we had made just a few days before in St. Pierre on a boat named Starship Friendship. They stopped by our boat in St. Pierre and introduced themselves because they saw that we were from St. Pete and they were too! It is such a small world sometimes. They happened to be heading into Marigot and were happy to come over for dinner.

I know I have said this before but I have to say it again – you never know who you will learn from out here. I think that everyone has something to teach you! The crew from Starship Friendship arrived and asked if they could take over prepping for dinner. Absolutely! We found out they are big into fishing and spearfishing and knew a lot of about fileting wahoo and making sushi. WHAT??? We did not even know you could eat wahoo as sushi. The first lesson they taught us was how to filet the fish. We had actually cut the fish into steaks but they explained how to filet it into four loins. Sean, Annie and Dave helped take our steak cuts and turn them into sushi. Kelly show me how to make those funny little rice balls that go under your sushi. I have eaten sushi lots of times but never knew how to make it. We had an amazing dinner of sushi and grilled wahoo. Wahoo sushi is some of the best! We were shocked!  In the back of my head I thought,  I hope we remember what they said about fileting the wahoo the next time we catch one…who knows when that will be.

Working on preparing the fish. Little did we know this was not the way to cut it. 

Annie and Sean preparing the wahoo for sushi

Kelly and I getting the rice balls ready nigiri


Sam is our taste tester

Awesome sushi night with the Starship Friendship Crew


The next day it was time to head to the pool and it was one of those resort pools that makes you go, WOW! There was a swim up bar and lots of comfy beds and lounge chairs. Our friends on Soulstice were due to arrive in the afternoon. After they arrived they decided to go out for a little fishing trip on SandStar for a couple of hours to see if we could find another wahoo. Catching a wahoo was one of Brooke’s New Year’s resolutions. The kids were not leaving the pool so I stayed with them while Dan, Brooke and Barrett went out for their quick fishing trip.

Funky pool seating

Poolside selfies


Ahh...the swim up bar!


Emma and Sam relaxing poolside

Jack is more relaxed than the others! 


The fishing crew returned a few hours later and Dan dinghied over to get us at the pool. On the way back to the boat we asked if they had any luck and he said “not really, just a couple of fish”. The joke was definitely on me and the kids because when we got to the boat we found TWO huge wahoo!! I couldn’t believe it!! There was lots of excitement and picture taking and we were happy we could put our new filet lessons to good use. We had lots of fish to eat! Brooke offered to teach us how to roll sushi rolls. Again, we have eaten many rolls but never knew how to make them. It was an event that night at dinner. We passed around the roller, rice, veggies, fish, and rum punch (for the adults) and everyone had a chance to make their own roll.

Wow!! Those are some big fish!

Brooke and her wahoo! 

The double hook up!




Time to clean some fish!



Sushi lesson time!

Sam likes the wahoo!


Aweome sushi night.  It is still a mystery why Barrett is wearing a headlamp at dinner. 




Cheers to a great dinner! 

Brooke and Barrett came to help us eat the first wahoo now we have two more. It is time to call in more friends. The Frenchie Crew was in Martinique and said they would head our way the next day! The Frenchie Crew arrived that afternoon with some excitement when they lost their engine on the approach to the bay. We dinghied out with Soulstice to see if we could help but have no fear Captain Katie had it all under control. Berry even offered us a drink while Katie was changing the impeller on the engine. With Frenchie rafted up to Soulstice in the bay it was time to have some fun!!

Before we met Brooke and Barrett on Soulstice we had heard about Brooke’s mad cooking skills from other friends. So when we had all of this fish Dan and I would kid around when we talked about different ways to cook it and say  - WWBD - What Would Brooke Do? Well, we were so excited to find out. The next day we had dinner planned on Soulstice. The Frenchie Crew made some amazing grilled okra. Yes, you read that right, okra. Those slimy green vegetables that you find in gumbo in the southern US. It turns out that they are delicious on the grill. The Frenchie kids then went to bed and the Sandstar kids were on our boat having a movie night.  So what did she cook? She made furikake crusted wahoo with a soy glaze, coconut rice, a salad with homemade ginger dressing, and wahoo sashimi. To say this was amazing is an understatement – It was unbelievable!! The Frenchie and Sandstar crew have been calling this “The Dinner” all year long. Don’t forget, she created this amazing dinner in a boat kitchen! It is a tiny kitchen compared to what most people are use too.  I did have to ask a few more questions about  furikake. It was so good and I had never had anything like it. Furikake is a rice seasoning made primarily of little flakes of seaweed and sesame seeds. It was delicious. This will be added to our list of items needed on SandStar along with a sushi mat.


The Dinner - seared wahoo with a soy glaze, wahoo sashimi, and coconut rice!  

In case you were wondering about the furikake 


Awesome friends and amazing food! This night is one for the history books!


We spent a few more days in Marigot enjoying the pool, getting a much needed haircut, and watching the national championship game without sound. We were just so happy to watch it we did not even mind. 

Even with all of the excitement school still continues. Sometimes you just don't ask questions about dress code. 

I really needed a haircut. This was the saloon we found.

Time for a trim!

A boy and his rope swing



While they are rope swinging I am enjoying a fresh coconut water and rum drink

More fun at the pool with the Frenchie Crew. All pools should have comfy beds. 



A view of Marigot Bay. Soulstice and Frenchie are behind us


After a few days in Marigot we decided to go to the Pitons anchorage before heading back to Martinique. Since we would be there for a few days and it was pretty windy we took a little land trip to the volcanic sulfur springs to play in the mud followed by a delicious roti lunch at a local restaurant in Soufriere.

Getting the lines ready to head to the Pitons

The crew is ready to go

Hello Pitons!

Heading to the mooring balls. This is the first time I am trying to drive to the ball while Dan guides me. 

Sundowners in the Pitons! 

We are heading in for our field trip to the mud baths





The first hot pool where you get wet before playing with the mud

They are still pretty clean

Not clean anymore! 

We were told sulfur mud is great for your skin!



Ahh...when you have an older brother and sister this is what happens




All cleaned up and ready for a roti lunch

roti + milkshake

This is one of Jack's favorite


The next day Dan took a hike up the Petit Piton with Barrett from Soulstice and Berry from Frenchie. This was the less popular hike between the two pitons due to vertical trail up the piton. They had a local guide and you can tell from the pictures it was very vertical with lots of ropes and some great views.

This is so vertical a rope is needed

Dan and Berry heading up the trail





What a great view from the top!


It is time now to head back north to Martinique to meet up with Dan’s parents and explore the island.