March 2008

Ann on the ziplineAs Ann nears the edge of the platform in the trees, she clips two safety lines one at a time from the platform to the steel cable.  Next she attaches the pulley to the steel cable.  She places her leather-gloved right hand on top of the pulley ready to brake if she needs to slow down.  Her ungloved hand holds onto her harness strap.  When she is ready she steps off the platform and glides along the steel cable over the tree tops to the next platform.  She can reduce her speed by slipping her leather gloved hand off the top of the pulley onto the steel cable. However, if she brakes too soon, she will slow down too quickly and will have to pull across the cable by hand to the next platform.  We cross nine ziplines, some as long as 900 feet at Loterie Farm in St. Martin.


Ann concentrates on the ziplines

John zippingJohn had wanted to zipline in the St. Lucia rain forest last year.  Ann had said she didn’t want to go and John couldn’t find anyone to go with him.  When we arrived in St. Martin, we reconnected with our friends Linda and Steve on Seaman’s Elixir.  They had remembered John wanting to zipline and ask if we wanted to go Loterie Farms in St. Martin.  Ann agreed to go this year.  (Did she get braver or crazier?)   Loterie Farm is located on a 300 year old former sugar plantation near the highest point on St. Martin.  There are beautiful views of the island as we start our zipline adventure.   As we move through the course we have to cross rope bridges, walk a single-strand wire bridge, and climb up ladders to the next zipline platform.  Ann was surprisingly calm and not very nervous after the first few ziplines.  It was a great time and John was very happy to experience one of the many adventures he has on his adventure list. 



John on a long zipline

In St. Martin we enjoyed the beaches at Orient Bay for several days and made stops at French settlements of Grande Case and Marigot.  In Marigot we were lucky to attend one of the many parties supporting the 300 boat Heineken sailing regatta.  It was interesting to watch the races begin and end and to monitor their progress on the radio. 

Ann, John, Pete & Star


We sailed to St. Thomas to meet our friends Pete and Star from Atlanta in mid-March. Their trip was short, but we were blessed with the best weather we have had since the beginning of the year.  We had a great time sharing the beauty of St. John Island both above and below the water.  We enjoyed the snorkeling and Pete made some great underwater photos of the rays, tropical fish, and turtles.  Pete, always on the look-out for lobsters, caught one lobster by hand for us to enjoy, but spared many others. We also introduced Pete and Star to gathering, cleaning, beating, and cooking conch.



Ann, John, Pete & Star on St. John



On Good Friday, we made a quick trip to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands to attend the full moon party at Bomba’s Surf Shack.   We took naps in the afternoon so we could stay up late this year.  We arrived at the party around 10:00, just as the party was getting started, hung out with friends Jim and Amanda on Adventure Bound, and enjoyed the live music. 




Lobster on St. John reef

Colored tree bark


In late March, we met Bobby and Betty, Ann’s parents in Puerto Rico.  It was fun to share the beauty of Puerto Rico that we enjoyed last year with family on our return visit.  In the El Yunque National Rain Forest, Bobby and Betty were amazed at the huge variety of ferns and the tropical flowers growing wild in the rain forest.  We visited two waterfalls and saw hummingbirds feasting on the tropical flowers.  A car trip to Ponce on the southern coast of Puerto Rico provided a good example of the rain forest and the dry desert of the island.

After reading and hearing about our experience in the bioluminescent Mosquito bay last year, Bobby and Betty wanted to experience it themselves.  The microscopic dinoflagelette organisms collect and multiply in Mosquito Bay, but cannot escape to the ocean because the waves pile into the small opening.  The result is a very high concentration of these tiny underwater microscopic organisms that release energy in the form of light whenever they are disturbed, much the way fireflies do.



Tree bark in the rain forest

Tropical plants in rain forest

BromeliadsWe sailed from Puerto Rico to the island of Vieques in late March to visit the bay.   Last year we took kayaks to the bay with our friends Pete and Eric.  This year we traveled on an electric-powered pontoon boat.  As we motored into the bay, you could see streaks of bright white light like underwater fireworks as fish and other underwater life moved through the water.  The night sky was clear, the moon had not yet risen, and thousands of stars were visible.  Our bioluminescent bay tour guides pointed out numerous constellations and stars as we traveled in the bay.  We anchored in the middle of the bay and John, Ann and Bobby got into the water.  There is a bright white light as you move through the water.  As you pull your body out of the water, you can see the water bubbles like twinkling dots of light stream from our arms as they run down your skin.  Betty stayed on the boat, but she experienced the glowing water running down her arms when the guides brought a bucket of water on board.  It was a great lifetime experience for Bobby and Betty and we were happy to share it with them.  Unfortunately, there was no way for us to capture the experience in photographs.

Bobby & Betty in Puerto Rico



The wind was predicted to be strong for a week, so we sail 30 miles to the island of Culebra.  The last day of March is our last calm day for a while and we make a day trip to Luis Pena Island where we are the only ones enjoying the beautiful white sand beach.  John and Ann snorkel while Bobby and Betty collect sea glass and shells.  We have a great day before we return to the anchorage off the town of Dewey, Culebra for the next week of strong winds.



Bobby & Betty enjoying Puerto Rico