Crossing the St. Lucia Channel
15 April 2010
The alarm clock wakes us up early - NOT - and we are soon having our coffee with a light sprinkles of rain as we make our preparations to sail to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia.
Raise the main, hoist the hook and motor through the narrow channel, rocks, reefs, islands and entrance to the Caribbean Sea. Once outside and into the open water it is a challenge to navigate around all of the fishing buoys until we are in deep water. They really are every where and you have to have a good watch or you will be cutting lines out of your props.
The winds are gusting gail force up to 6.5 knots from the WEST (what is that all about - no Trade winds from the East today) and the seas are a treacherous 3' rolling swells as we scream across the water at 4 knots on a close haul reach for our 20 NM crossing (and I do mean scream as I am so bored at this point) About 3 NM out we see a pod ( a whack - South African term) of dolphins that appear to sleeping on top of the water, about 15 or so and they didn't even move (again I had to make a course change to avoid hitting them - pesky sea life!)
Then all of the sudden, PANIC - we lost our GPS fix and the Raymarine is screaming the alarm and we are now officially lost at sea with no fix. Brenda has words with the GPS and sure enough it finds us once again and we are saved - that was a close call - and we were really sweating it (because it is hot, humid and little to no wind!)
With the GPS straitened out, Brenda goes back to work cleaning the inside of the boat, vinegar water bottle in one hand and Lysol in the other. She quickly gets everything wiped down, vacuumed, laundry together, bedding changed and coffee pot cleaned out while I sit around thinking about what to write in the blog. She is working so hard it is making me exhausted - no really!
3 more hours to go and the winds gust up to 8.5 knots (for a split second) and we are cruising at 4.5 knots (for half a split second). With that quickly over I go back to thinking about what to write in the blog, this is reminding me of the week of no wind in the middle of ocean during the crossing of the South Atlantic from Cape Town to Recife. But, I continue to keep a vigilant watch as I may have to avoid hitting another whale or whack of sleeping dolphins!
Finally, we enter Rodney Bay, drop the main sail (I don't even bother turning into the wind as there isn't much wind). we head to the fuel dock to top off the tanks. With that done we tie up to the dock, Brenda's first comment was "Give Me the Hose" and she is off to washing the salt off of the boat so I go check in with Customs, Immigrations, Port Authority (pay the $30.00 EC welcome to St. Lucia fee) and then check in with IGY and pay for our slip for the next 16 days.
The boat is clean, the water tanks are full, the fuel tanks topped with diesel fuel and the A/C is finally cooling me down. The only saving grace right now from the exhausting crossing is the huge plate of ribs I am going to have for dinner at H2O and sleeping with the A/C on tonight.
Whale wave & Marin, Martinique
14 April 2010
Up with the sun... coffee and a quick plan for the day... let's hit it!! Off to Marin, we need to check in with customs & immigration before they close at 12:30, and some wifi will be nice. We stopped by Marin for an overnight on our way up the chain so we know this is a good place to do it - and it carries a memory of a great little restaurant that we shared 2 incredible meals.
Kyle has us motoring down the coast (not to much wind to speak of) and we are enjoying a partly sunny/cloudy view.
As I'm writing, Kyle pops in to grab the binoculars and says 'whale'....What an awesome break in the day - it was, right ahead of us you could see the spouting and his back fins. As we got closer he raised his back and we got a great site (he was right off the front port side of the boat and we had to change course to keep from hitting him!). We passed him and looking back we could see a few more spouts. It's hard not to hope for even more to see, it's awesome, then he gave it to us... he raised his tail up and gave us a good 6 to 8 good slaps or hello waves as I saw it :)
We round Diamond Rock across the Baie Du Marigot and motor sail into Cul-De-Sac Du Marin. Marin is extremely busy with boats everywhere and very crowded, we drop the hook and dinghy over to Customs. I have to say I love checking into French countries as it is by far the easiest. I also now have their forms on my memory stick so we connect to the computer, print the form, stamp stamp (they don't even look at the previous clearance or passports - It's the Don't Ask - Don't Really Care Policy!) and within 5 minutes we are walking to lunch - YES - if only all check ins where so easy and quick!
Some beef carpaccio, pizza and cold beers and we are checking emails (free Wi Fi) at the Mango Bay. We make the decision to leave the crowds behind us so dinghy back to ITW, hoist the hook and we motor sail out of the harbour to a remote place we read about, Baie Des Anglais. So we motor sail around the south west tip and up the east side, First Mate Brenda has the helm and getting some sea time. We arrive outside of Baie Des Anglais around 3:30 and it is a tricky little entrance to navigate between the islands into a narrow channel down wind and down seas, the entrance is a turmoil of confused seas that we motor through. Once inside we have to weave around a bit to stay in the deepest part of the channel which gets down to around 7' in some sections in between the rocks and reefs. We pick a spot in about 10' of water directly across from the entrance where we hope to enjoy a good solid breeze and drop the hook.
OK, so the book says there is a cool little beach area and the area is a nature preserve for birds. We set off to explore in the dinghy and let's just say that the"beach" is just a little over grown and not so recognizable like the picture shows and we have seen more birds out at sea then we saw in the Baie! But, we had a nice dinghy ride around, saw a trimaran that had wrecked up in one little cove and what appeared to be a new Caribbean condo development, but needless to say we didn't stop for the sales tour and complimentary Painkiller.
Back to ITW we have the Baie all to ourselves which is very nice and peaceful (except we do not hear the birds singing!) Raise the motor to the rail and the dinghy to the trampoline (I can't wait to get the new davits installed this summer as the factory davits SUCK). Hot showers, grill up some beef on the BBQ, we find a can of whole beets from South Africa and all washed down with a bottle of Saki.
An episode of JAG and then several episodes of How I Met Your Mother and we are off to dream land. A great day as we saw a whale outside the Baie of Fort De France, easy check in, great lunch, free Wi-Fi, a secluded peaceful anchorage and an awesome diner.
Sailing to Sunshine
13 April 2010
An early wake up and we are prepping the boat for a day of sailing.Kyle gets the dinghy and motor secured, hatches closed, anchor raised, coffee in hand and main sail raised - we are now heading out trying to beat the rain that is sure to be full in the clouds above.
Out to sea, the Captain has plenty to keep him busy with 3 to 5 feet waves, winds 12 to 20 and a gray sky.The plan is to sail south, past Dominica and into the bay at St. Pierre Martinique, a 69 mile day.
Thinking back, just to yesterday, it was a long day of sailing, I seriously didn't do much at all, Kyle (Captain) did it all.... Between The Saintes and Dominica(a 26 mile stretch) the conditions I mentioned above along with scattered showers, and a few wind gusts.
Arriving to the leeward side of Dominica gave Kyle a new set of conditions, lighter winds, a few more showers, waves continuing(20 miles or so along the coast).
Hitting the southern tip of Dominica into the channel between Martinique(another 20 mile stretch)... more of the same, a mixed bag for the Captain.
I'm still, I guess you would call it, gun shy after being sea sick, so I made us breakfast and read most of the day, and of course, looked cute :)
We hit the tip of Martinique at about 3pm, back to light winds and waves 2 to 3 feet. Kyle is first to jump in the shower and I watch the helm (not to much action), and soon the Captain is back at his station.My turn to shower off and it's my first shower in a while with the boat still on course, I'm quickly reminded how slippery it could be with the boat hip hop'n along. It's a good core workout just keeping your footing all day with all the movement.
Kyle picks us a good anchoring spot close to the main dinghy dock, we are hooked, and toasting to a shot of sake.
This is where the title comes in... we didn't have more than a few minutes of sunshine all day, and wouldn't you know it, the sky has completely cleared and it's beautiful, yip, Kyle's my 'Magic Man'.
A quick walk through town to check in at customs only to find that the location is closed, so a quick stop at the grocery store for coffee and paper towels (essentials!) and back to the boat. My awesome Captain is understandably tired so we opt for a easy dinner on the boat and few episodes of 'How I met your mother' (we needed a little comedy) and we turn in early, and are found by a great night of rest.
Cheers from the Windward Islands (the chain from Martinique south through Grenada) & good bye to the Leeward Islands (Anguilla through Dominica), Brenda & the Capt'n
12 April 2010
Waking up in The Saintes, wish I could say I had a better night of sleep... We were visited my numerous rain showers throughout the night, so that means the hatches were mostly closed and that makes for a stuffy stateroom.
Coffee, cleaning and no emails... wifi has yet to make it's mark on these small islands.
The morning passes quickly and we decide to head around the bay to town and to find some lunch. We walked through Bourg De Saintes noticing that there are more scooters in town to rent then people :), then happen upon a great lunch spot that actually has wifi. A nice French lunch accompanied with a split of Rose', and we check in with our peeps & post a few blogs.
A stroll back through town and then a dinghy ride back to ITW. The weather is pretty decent and hot, so the water is looking pretty inviting. Kyle puts on his snorkeling gear and I decide to just paddle around with him. Kyle's report on the underwater world is just 'ok', we had a bit higher hopes since we anchored with a turtle greeting.
A relaxing rest of the afternoon & evening with a movie and an episode of Jag. Kyle grilled us up some nice beef filets and we enjoyed another sunset....
Cheers & back to sailing tomorrow, Brenda & Kyle
Have I mentioned the Captain is a stud!
11 April 2010 | Antigua to The Saints
No rooster needed, we are up with the sun, coffee going, hatches closed, main sail raised and we are heading out to sea.
Within minutes of exiting the harbor Kyle has us sailing with the main (2 reefs in) and the genoa. Winds are as predicted, 15 to 20 knots and straight out of the east. The seas are more than manageable at 4 to 6 feet. We have a steady roll as we are sailing south to Guadeloupe, all the elements favorable and Captain has us sailing between 7 & 8 knots..... nice.
I made us some breakfast, egg sandwiches, all the while thankful for my handles on the stove top to hold the skillet in place & I start a new book (lov'n my new Kindle) .... I know, the life of a First Mate :)
We reach Guadeloupe in 51/2 hours, we've made great time, and now with calmer seas 2 to 4 feet the winds very from 15 to 20 and throwing in a few burst of up to 30+ knots, my handsome Captain sure isn't getting bored today!!
So, things can sure change on the leeward side of the island, our winds by mid-way down the island are down to a low at one time of 2.2 knots, the mountainous peaks of Guadeloupe have given us gusts and they have blocked he wind all together.. yip, the Captain's on it... motors back on and we continue our track.
2/3rd's the way down the island just before Basse -Terre we see what remains of 'Spice', a beautifully built Catamaran that Kyle and I have liked since we first saw it in Trinidad last year. On our way up the chain and our pass by Guadeloupe in February we passed by Spice only an hour or so after one of her dagger boards hit ground and she wrecked close to shore. We can see they salvaged what they could, but we are both bummed for the short life of such a beautiful 'Cat".
Rounding the SW tip Guadeloupe and now The Saints (a burst of a few smaller islands, that have high peaks, beautiful beaches & welcoming bays. (These islands also fall under the French flag along with Guadeloupe.)) are now in sight, resting about 6 miles southwest of Guadeloupe.
The Captain is back to both hands on wheel as the winds have again picked up to 20 plus knots and we are screaming at just under 9 knot... woo hoo!! At one point the winds and bash of the waves flip the dinghy over that is tied down on the trampoline. Kyle grabs another rope and secures the dinghy and we blast across the channel to anchorage at Terre D'en Haut. We drop the sails and motor in to the small bay and have a turtle sighting, always a good sign for us so we set the hook in 20' of water just off of the Le Boise Joli Hotel and a 100 yards from the beautiful cliffs.
Hot showers, gin & tonics wonderful grilled fillets and tonights movie is Easy Rider which we only make it about half way through before it is lights out.
Sometime during the middle of the night we had a big rain shower, so up we go, close the hatches and back to sleep to dream of a clean boat when we wake up in the morning!
Just missed the buggy
10 April 2010 | Fallmouth Harbour, Antigua
We started our morning out with our usual coffee, emails, light cleaning & a little reading all while we were comfortably moored in Falmouth Harbor, Antiqua.
Our last visit here we rented a buggy and drove around the island, and had a blast! We wanted a reminder so we jumped in the dingy with our sunscreen and camera, and shoot - 15 minutes to late.... it was being rented as we walked in.
Plan B, we walked over to English Harbor and made our customs/immigration stop and Kyle got us all checked out for an early departure in the morning. We walked back to Falmouth and decided on a light lunch at the Yacht Club. We made a stop off at the grocery store and picked up a nice port loin for dinner and back to ITW.
Are plans are to sail out early in the am with a destination of southern Guadaloupe which we anticipate being at least a 10 to 12 hour day, so, a relaxing day on the boat sounds just great.
The afternoon was filled with quick naps for both of us, some reading and painfully slow wifi connection.
We break into some of the new movies Kyle purchased and we decide upon & watch 'The Bounty' & 'The Rainmaker' breaking only for a quick dinner of grilled pork loin & applesauce.
What can I say... another great day for 'the honeymooners' :) We love ya.... Brenda & Kyle