Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sailing the Caribbean

On Tuesday, we awoke to the sounds of us anchoring in Basseterre. The sway of the ship now stopped, breakfast was our first stop. Looking out over the quiet and slowly awakening island of St. Kitts we decided to head in to the shops to get our kids some souvenirs.
There was a small shopping area right at the port where we found jewelry shops, tshirts, souvenirs galore. We quickly found what we were looking for and decided to head back to the comfort of the ship. We really didn't have plans to spend time in Basseterre and my book was really good. I had heard so much talk about the Twilight series, I'd decided to give it read to see what all the fuss was about. Fuss away! It was such a good read, I didn't want to put it down!

After spending the morning in Basseterre, we set sail by lunchtime for Charlestown, Nevis. Now that I was deep into my book, my husband and I decided to stay put on board and enjoy some of the quiet while everyone else was taking the tender into town.The water sports marina was now open and Glen thought he'd take a swim. Unfortunately we were anchored quite far out of the port of Charlestown therefore exposing us to a bit rougher seas than if we were closer into port. Glen and the other adventurous guests didn't swim far from the dock as the tide was very strong and made for a lot of hard work to get back to the ship. The staff had set up the trampoline, kayaks and sailboats which a few guests tried out but grew tired very quickly fighting the strong tide.

We tried out the Restaurant for dinner and again we enjoyed a spectacular meal. Everything was delectable.

We later set sail for Marigot Bay, St. Martin where we were planning to take a shore excursion so we were off to bed early.
We had to get up early (7:00 am!!) in order to get breakfast and then meet in the Lounge for our shore excursion. We were going on the America's Cup Regatta! After Greg handed out our box lunches (which was more than we could possibly eat!) and did the head count we were off to the tenders and across the bay.

We were informed that we were tendering off the port of Marigot Bay which is the french side of the island and much quieter than Philipsburg which is where all the large cruise ships dock. Unfortunately, we wouldn't get to experience the 'quiet' Marigot as there were 4 or 5 ships docked in Philipsburg, including the Royal Caribbean's much talked about Oasis of the Seas. Which meant that the population on the island almost tripled for the day. Traffic jams and chaos abounded.

We had to take a bus around the island to Philipsburg which I guess normally takes about 15 minutes but today took over 30 minutes. On the way, it was apparent that a lot of construction is underway across the island. They are dredging Great Bay at Philipsburg so more of the larger ships can dock and using the sand to create more land around what I think is Great Salt Pond. It was fascinating to watch the parade of dump trucks dumping their loads into the pond and creating land where there wasn't any a few minutes earlier!

We were met at the bus by the America's Cup Regatta rep who, believe it or not, was from Oakville, Ontario! After the compulsory bathroom visit - we were all made to visit the loo before getting on the race boat which made us all laugh, we were split into three groups and then ferried out into the bay for our brief (and I mean BRIEF) lesson and practice before starting the race. Glen and I ended up on the Stars & Stripes, competing against the Canada II and True North. We'd hoped we were going to be on a Canadian vessel to be patriotic but we didn't want to sabotage our US Team so we gave it all we had. The wind picked up and away we sailed.

It was quite exhilarating and almost a little scary as the boat leaned from one side to the other, waves splashing over the hull, but that was nothing compared to the rain storm that blew over us as we finished the second leg of the race. Poor Glen and I were working the grinders as fast as we could without being able to see a thing through the downpour of freezing rain. After about 5 minutes it was all over, and so was our lead. Seems the Stars & Stripes needs a lot of wind to win a race, whereas the Canada II and True North prefer a lot less wind, so after keeping the lead all the way to the last leg we not only lost but came in LAST! Humiliation.

Next, St. Barths - our favorite island of them all!

True North

a tad windswept

The Port at Philipsburg

Stars & Stripes

The Oasis of the Seas

Looking back at Philipsburg

The Mall at Marigot Bay

Heading back to the Wind Surf

Waiting for the tender

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