Cloud appreciation in the Caribbean

So, here we are in one of our favorite places in the Caribbean, Les Saintes, a small archipelago of islands south of the big island of Guadeloupe.  It is a very charming and scenic spot with a lovely fleet of local fishing boats. A main street filled with places to eat.  Nearly all of the vehicles on the island are golf carts and scooters.  And some very colorful homes.  Love this one, pink with a lovely color coordinated Vespa scooter. In spite of the lovely scenery, I’ll admit that it’s a bit rolly here with the constant ferry traffic from mainland Guadeloupe bringing French tourists on holiday.  I understand that there are daily flights from Paris.

Because the water near town is so deep, more than 50′, they have put down moorings and established a designated a no-anchoring zone.   Unfortunately, if you arrive in the afternoon you aren’t likely to find an open mooring and will have to anchor in an area that is pretty exposed and wait for a mooring to open up.

This is almost always what happens to us when we arrive, so the first night is generally uncomfortable with constant rolling,  It was very windy when we arrived and the rolling was some of the worse we have ever had to endure.  Well, at least since the last time we had a “worse night” but I won’t think about that.

A friend of ours, Bill, on Kalunamoo, and a veteran, with his wife Maureen, of more than a dozen seasons in the Caribbean, put together this roll rating system, “Kalunamoo’s 7 stage guide to anchorage roll” to help describe what it can be like to be rocking and rolling at anchor.  Instead of “you had to be here to know”, this rating system, like ratings for  hurricanes and earthquakes, gives us something to compare our experiences to and make it understandable to those who weren’t there.

Sometimes we feel like we will never find a spot to anchor that is really calm and I will admit that we have both become more immune to a reasonable amount of rolling.  Fortunately, most places aren’t worse than stage 3 “good rocking sleep mode”.  However, unfortunately, it’s often stage 4 “noticeable uncomfortable roll, watch your drink.”

However, on our first night here, before we snagged a mooring closer to town, it was easily approaching stage 6 “Difficult to keep plates, drinks and footings stable! Ready to leave!” and a few times it ventured to stage 7, “WTF! We’re out of here!”

During sundowners that night, a daily ritual I’ll admit, we had to hold on to our wine glasses firmly lest they lurch off of the cockpit table. Overnight was very uncomfortable and things were flying off of shelves and pots and pans were banging against one another in the cabinets.   WTF!  It was ROLLY!

And move we did, as soon as it was light and I saw a boat heading out from the mooring field.  In fact, we weren’t the only ones that wanted to find a better spot and we ended up drag-racing with another boat, albeit at the snails pace of sailboats, as we made for the mooring field.   We won and got the better of the two moorings that opened up.  Mission accomplished!

Brenda has always been prone to motion sickness and many years ago when we were on the aircraft carrier Intrepid, in NYC on the Hudson River, the motion on the ship that day made her quite queasy.   What she didn’t appreciate is that the Intrepid doesn’t actually move at all as it is firmly stuck in the mud.  For her, it was “mind over matter” and it didn’t “matter” that the Intrepid was in the mud and she didn’t feel well.

More than thirty years later, and many less than calm nights, she’s a (little) bit more accustomed to movement and it takes a lot more to make her feel queasy.  So here we are, enjoying Les Saintes, rolling and all, where we expect to spend a week before heading to Dominica, the next island in the chain, to the south.

Ok, enough about rolling.  Let’s talk about clouds.

One of the things that I enjoy most about the Caribbean is watching clouds.  As a “card carrying member” of the Cloud Appreciation Society, out of the UK, I am always on the lookout for clouds that are “worthy” of submitting to the Society, with the hope that they will choose mine and publish it as one of their “Cloud a day” emails.

I learned about this group from the NY Times a few years ago and joined immediately.  Check out this post I did at that time.   I have always loved clouds.

The society has thousands of members and I am member #54,749.

I have gotten a number of my photos published, 4 or 5 I think.  It’s great fun to hear from them after a submission saying “we’ve chosen your cloud”.  My cloud?  Awesome!

Perhaps the most memorable photo chosen was of a “green flash”, something that we watch for every night here in the Caribbean.   I was fascinated by what they wrote to accompany my photo.  Check it out.  It was “blog worthy“.

It’s been a while since I have done any submissions but today I sent in a few.  It’s very hard to know if they are “cloud worthy” but we will see what happens next.   Fingers crossed.

I will say that being a member, and seeing 365 submissions every year, does inspire me to keep track of what is going on up in the sky and nowhere is the sky more interesting than the Caribbean.   Our son Christopher’s partner Melody is a poet and a fellow Cloud Appreciation Society member.  One of these days I’ll send her a photo and she can do a poem.  They will JUST HAVE to publish our joint submission as I doubt that they get many joint submissions.

With all this in mind, I do take a lot of cloud photos.  How about this squirrel?  Well, at least it looks like that to me. Not close enough to tell, you say?  Now do you agree?   Probably not. I am fully focused on clouds at sunrise.  No better way to start the day. Or a bit later as the sun is higher. Or in the middle of the day. Or the plume of the active volcano on Montserrat as we sailed south to Guadeloupe last week. Or the clouds rolling off of the mountaintops of Guadeloupe. And absolutely nothing beats sundowners while watching the rise of a full moon which we enjoyed yesterday evening.  Rolling or not, and it was really rolly that first night here, it’s hard to imagine a place more beautiful to appreciate clouds  than here in the Caribbean aboard Pandora.


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