Sunset Grand Anse D'Arlet, MartiniqueIt’s just before dawn down here in Grand Anse D’Arlet, Martinique. This is a beautiful anchorage that is very popular with boaters – and even small cruise ships. The Royal Clipper – a Star Clipper cruise ship with 5 sailing masts, which we also saw in Iles Des Saintes – was here when we arrived yesterday afternoon. After a nice afternoon swim, we spent the evening watching their ferry boat bring people back from shore.

As the sun was setting, Karen was giving me a haircut on the aft transom. This was the best view I’ve ever had during a haircut! Beautiful blue Caribbean water beneath my feet, fish jumping out of the water, tropical forest-covered hills to my right, a fantastic sunset developing in the background, and the silhouette of the 5-masted cruise-ship between us and the sunset. This was also the best sunset we’ve seen since we’ve come down. The clouds turned spectacular colors: orange, red, pink, magenta, neon pink, purple, … the list goes on. Amazing! I had to keep stopping Karen to take pictures. But, she still got my haircut done before dark (it’s much shorter now – yay!).

Here are more photos from Martinique including four shots of the sunset:

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We have been on our trip for over a month now, and I’ve been thinking about our experiences so far. Tahina performed very well and delivered us safely and quickly from North Carolina to St. Martin – 1300 nautical miles away in just over 7 days. The boat has been performing very well on our passages and is a joy to sail. We’ve had a few minor maintenance issues, but nothing more than is typical on a boat. Tahina has many nice features that enhance the cruising life, and we have been growing to appreciate our boat more each day. Our hat is off to St. Francis for making a great boat.

So far, we have been retracing steps we made in the east Caribbean during our previous sailing adventures on our boat PatiCat during 2002/2003. This was intentional as we felt it would be a good idea to visit some of our favorite places while we re-adjusted to the new lifestyle. This has the advantage of giving us less to worry about since we are familiar with the environment, but we are really looking forward to seeing new countries and new exciting places.

We are moving through the islands at a faster pace than normal (compared to other winter cruisers down here). This was also intentional because we plan to spend more time going to new islands along the southern Caribbean on our way to Panama in March. It is early in the winter season here, and the normal cruisers are not yet plentiful in the anchorages of the east Caribbean. As a result, we haven’t met as many other boaters as we anticipated. We have been amazed at some anchorages how few other boaters are around compared to our experiences 7 years ago. One of the joys of this lifestyle is meeting other cruisers and sharing experiences and knowledge with people who have a shared passion for traveling by boat. After the New Year, this problem will go away.

The climate takes a little getting used to. If you’re not used to it, the temperatures are pretty hot. During the day, you can jump in the water to cool off, or enjoy cool breezes in the shade. At night, it’s a little harder since the breezes often die out or are blocked by the islands. The temperature rarely drops more than a few degrees (F) at night. But, after nearly a month, we are finally getting more comfortable. The only drawback to this adjustment is that, when we get back to normal civilization, air conditioning will feel like an arctic blast to us.

As Karen said in her last post, it doesn’t feel much like Christmas down here. It’s so pleasantly warm, and we have been away from the shopping, marketing, and craziness that is typical during this time of year back home. Especially since we don’t watch TV down here. There have been some signs of Christmas decorations on shore, but not as much as we’re used to seeing in the US. We’re going to put up our little Christmas tree and some lights this weekend. Our kids are coming down to join us for the holiday, and having the family together again will definitely crank up the Christmas feeling. That will be wonderful!

Blog posts are likely to be less frequent during the holidays. So, don’t be surprised if only a few squeak out during the next couple of weeks. We will still maintain our position on the Tahina map, so you can see where we’re at.

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