May 2008

Ann jumpsWhat do you do when your 50th birthday is approaching?  Ann decided to jump off a 16 foot waterfall cliff and slide down a natural waterslide in the rain forest of Dominica.  One of our friends photographed the cliff jump and made it into a birthday card for Ann with the caption:  “Desperate woman, approaching her 50th birthday jumps from cliff”.

Ann celebrated her 50th birthday on May 8 with 11 cruising friends in Dominica.  We had a traditional Creole dinner at an open air restaurant overlooking the beach.  Dinner included salt fish fritters, pumpkin soup, and choice of fish, conch, chicken, or steak and served with locally grown fresh salad, rice and pigeon peas, christophene, and plantains.  John baked a “Do Nothing” cake (which he decided is a lot of work and does not live up to its name) with local fresh coconut.  The cake was a big hit with several of the guests requesting second pieces on the following day.  It was a fun time and great to celebrate with some of our closest cruising friends.



Desperate woman approaching her 50th birthday!

birthday flowers


As boats sail to Dominica, they are met by local tour guides in their colorful wooden boats with the greeting of “Welcome to Paradise”.  We arrived in Dominica, one of our favorite islands, on the first of May.  It has beautiful lush vegetation, beautiful underwater sea life, abundant delicious fruits and vegetables, and friendly and helpful people.  Once again, our friend and local tour guide, Martin on Providence, did a wonderful job sharing the beauty and pleasures of his island.  He treated us to wonderful tours, hikes, diving, and beautiful tropical flowers and fresh fruits.  Our boat was filled with fresh tropical flowers on Ann’s birthday.

An island tour with several cruising friends gave us insight into the hardworking and simple lives of the Dominican farmer.  They farm on fertile, but steep land with no mechanical assistance.  Hand tools are used for planting, tending and harvesting.  They transport their harvests in large sacks or buckets carried on top of their head. 


Ann's tropical birthday flowers

Kids feeding goats


A highlight of the entire cruising season was seeing the building of a traditional Carib Indian dugout canoe.  During a tour through the Carib Indian Territory, we drove by two Carib Indians attending a fire built around a canoe.   The dugout builders patiently described the building process and answered our numerous questions.  The 25 foot canoe was formed from the log of a single gommier tree.  The builders searched in the high elevations of the rain forest to find a suitable tree.   Once the tree was cut, it had to be transferred many miles down to the site where the process continued.  



Dominican kids feeding goats

canoe buildingThe canoe was shaped by hand with chain saws, axes, and other hand carving tools. Two additional long boards about one inch thick were hand cut from the log by a chain saw.  We were all amazed that these boards were cut as smooth and as uniform as if they had been cut in a sawmill.  The portion of the building process that we observed during our tour was the further shaping of the canoe.  A fire is built around the canoe to heat the wood.   The fire must be constantly tended so the fire is hot enough to heat the wood, but not too hot to burn the wood.  Large rocks are placed inside the canoe for weight so the boat will flare out to the appropriate shape.   Water is poured onto the wood throughout the process to keep the wood moist.  The builders told us that the shaping process would take about four days.  Once the shape is satisfactory, the long one inch boards that were cut from the same log are attached to the sides so the canoe will be deeper.

Building a traditional Carib Indian dugout canoe

 boards cut by powersaw






Watching the building process and asking questions of the master canoe builder was fascinating.  In fact, this is the same canoe builder that supervised the building of Gli Gli, the traditional Carib Indian canoe that we saw in Nevis during May 2007 when it had sailed from Dominica to visit several Caribbean islands click  May 2007 to read about Gli Gli.







Boards hand-cut by power saw


John kite surfing





We left Dominica , made a quick stop in Martinique, and stopped in St. Lucia.  John had taken kite surfing lessons in St. Lucia in January.  He had checked out additional lessons on other islands, but had not tried it since.  This time the wind was a lot lighter and he used a larger kite that was much easier to control (slower to turn) than the last one.  He decided he needs to buy his own equipment so he can practice a lot more often.




John kite surfing in St. Lucia

Our new dinghy


As a cruiser, your dinghy (an inflatable boat with outboard motor) is your car.  Since we are rarely at a dock, our dinghy is used at least once most every day.   It takes us to snorkel, it takes us to shore where we can shop or eat at a restaurant, it takes us to another boat to visit, and it takes us to another beach or island that we want to visit without moving Livin the Dream.  The hot Caribbean sun is harsh on inflatable dinghies.  Our dinghy was almost 12 years old and we were getting more leaks as the fabric became weak and worn.  We had discussed buying a new dinghy for several months, but had been reluctant to make the big investment.   In St. Lucia , we traded in our old dinghy and bought a new one. 

A swimsuit model shows off one of AB Inflatables latest dinghies

Volleyball in St. Lucia


John is always searching for an opportunity to play volleyball.  He found a beach volleyball game at a beautiful resort wedged between the Pitons in St. Lucia.  Several young St. Lucians work at the resort and are paid to play with resort guests (this would be John’s dream job).  The young St. Lucian players are very good and John was thrilled to play with them.  He returned to play again the next day and was disappointed to find a cricket game rather than volleyball.  They asked him to play cricket. 



Volleyball game on St. Lucia

The rules for cricket are totally incomprehensible to someone who grew up playing baseball.  John’s team won the toss and elected to bat last.  When his team got six of the other teams seven batters out, they came up to bat.  John and another player went up to bat first.  He had never tried to hit a ball that bounced in the dirt first but he adjusted.  The one thing he had the hardest time with was keeping hold of the bat after he hit the ball.  During all of his years at baseball and softball, the first thing you did after hitting the ball was to drop the bat as you ran to first base.  In cricket you have to take the bat with you as you run back and forth.  So even though he had to go back for his dropped bat several times, the other team never did get him out before he and his batting partner had scored more than the 42 runs scored by the first team to bat and John’s team won.

We have about one month to enjoy The Grenadines and Grenada before we sail south to Venezuela where Livin the Dream will stay during hurricane season.

Rodney Bay sunsest

Rodney Bay, St. Lucia sunset