After another 5:20am wake up we leave Dominica and head for the north end of Guadeloupe. The winds are really blowing today - 20 - 25, with gusts to 29, and we soon find ourselves sailing along at 9.5 knts...We are so excited we try to take a picture of the GPS, which is trickier than you might think. Soon after we are pushing 9.9 knts and then into the 10s. Surfing down one wave we hit sustained boat speed of 11.5 knts. Holy cow - our hair was on fire. We made 30 miles in 3.5 hours, and 50 miles in 6. What a sail! The cut was especially bumpy, and we were VERY glad to hit the island shadow today, then do nothing more strenuous than watch for floats in flat calm water.
We arrive in Deshaies about 12:30...and were glad to be anchored in this pretty little bay, one of our favorites. After topping off the fuel tanks, we go to shore to check in and discover that the Internet café opens at 4pm, so we get our diesel, and then stop for lunch at our favorite place with a beautiful harbor view. After clearing customs, we get our ice, and bread for the morning and then head back to the boat.
Another benefit to Deshaies, is that you can get WiFi out in the bay, so we check the weather and quickly decide that the conditions are deteriorating and while tomorrow may be OK, Monday thru Thursday are lousy, and we would rather sit here, than unprotected in Nevis. So here we sit, listening to the church bells chime each hour until Friday at the earliest.
Safe and sound in Dominica! A beautiful sail!!
After heading out, this time just ahead of the squall, we make it quickly up the coast of Martinique. As we pass Fort of France, in the early dawn, the lights from the town twinkle almost magically along the hillside. Just as we hit the cut I notice that the Outhaul, the back line securing the mainsail is frayed 3 strings away from failure...Bad News! We quickly reefed the mainsail, and just in time as the winds picked up. With the main secured, we put out the jib wit ha double reef and were soon sailing along at 8 knts. Very bumpy in the cut today, with the winds 18 to 23 knts.
We cleared the south end of Dominica, and found sweet, flat seas in the shadow of the island...ahh, my favorite. We past Roseau near 11:30 am, and decided to push on to Portsmouth, another 3 or so hours. When we arrived, near 3:30pm , there was a boat boy there to guide us in, and we were on a mooring shortly thereafter.
Now to the boat repairs. The outhaul was no problem to fix, and we discovered the rough spot that caused the problem. We used tape to smooth it out as best we could to avoid the problem in the future. And we discovered the reason Dominica is so lush and Green, as it rained nearly all night, and into the morning.
Thursday, Dec 6th, 2012
We wake to rain, and sneak regretfully, out of Marigot Bay between showers. The conditions are a little bouncier today, and the winds in the cut getting higher. We were followed by seabirds nearly the whole way across and they made a feast on the various fish we stirred up while passing. We made a deal with them...they could eat everything they could catch, so long as they did not poop on our boat....everyone agreed and it was a lovely day.
After dodging multiple floats on our way into Grand Anse D'arlet, Martinique we arrived into a HUGE bay liberally spotted with brand new mooring bouys, which are free to use. Of course, there is a catch....you have to manage to pick one up by yourself. This is a French Island, and prosperous, so no boat boy industry. And did I mention, there is no Mooring pennant, so you are trying to catch a ring at the top of a bouncing, moving ball, and of course the winds are gusting to 27knts. Ah, Ha....but we are from Chicago...where Monroe Harbor is the ideal training ground for this exact situation. I grab the Grab.N.Go hook and line, fit it to the boat hook and after one quick pass where we rolled a little too far over the ball, was able to snag it on the second try, then with my left hand holding the line attached to the ball steady (yeah - right!) I hang my entire torso over the forward crossbeam and with my right hand try to feed the two mooring lines (which I forgot I was laying on!) thru the ring and back up to the deck, where I then shimmy back and tie them off. All this while Jim is holding the boat completely steady (Thrusters at station-keeping Captain!), into 27 Knots, oh, and he can neither see what I am doing, nor hear me since I am basically UNDER the boat! When we talk about teamwork...this is what we mean.
We shared the anchorage with a 5 masted Star Clipper tonight, which is especially lovely with all the masts and spars lit with white lights after dark. Also, we were able to see our first sunset into the sea for the season, a lovely sight.
Wednesday, Dec 5th, 2012
On the way to Soufriere...or maybe Marigot!
Ok...so Today WAS that day. We had full sail up and making 9 knots regularly. Huge amount of flying fish skittering away from us as we slip thru the seas...wonderful! We cleared past St. Vincent and had only a slightly bumpy passage thru the open water cut to St. Lucia, but the winds were quite perfect and we are happily cruising along. We past Soufriere, and the Pitons early in the morning, so decided to push on to Marigot Bay. This turned out to be a wonderful decision as we made it in by 2:30pm, and were able to clear customs, fill the fuel tanks, purchase fuel for our jerry jugs, and then visit with Izzy and Jeff, from Grenada, who then introduced us to Kent and Marilyn, from Cardea, and their friends as well. We all laughed because again, we all think everyone knows the people that we know...as in all boaters know each other.
Marigot Bay is a WONDERFUL little Marina, Anchorage & Mooring, and we very much enjoyed it and the swimming pool! Where we were visiting together. This is a spot we will absolutely stay again!
Monday, Dec 3rd, 2012
A picture perfect Sailing day...Almost.
You know the type...15 knts of breeze on the beam, deep blue seas with swell under 3 ft, the current in your favor, crisp blue sky with just a hint of clouds, and all systems working perfectly.....Well, today was not quite that day. Oh, the weather and seas were perfect, except the wind was on the nose, so sailing was out, then just as we arrive in Bequia around 3:15pm, after motoring from St. Georges since 6am, the starboard engine alarm sounds. Eeep! So we quickly take a mooring and shut the engines down only to find that we have poured 3 quarts of oil into the bilge...NOT GOOD! Guess we are not leaving tomorrow and we contact a mechanic to visit us. Then, spend 1 hour getting the main rigged. One would think that this would be done prior to leaving on our trip, but the weather conditions were never quire right to raise the sail in Port Louis, so we decided to wait till we were at anchor, and facing directly into the wind. As it turns out it was a good thing we could NOT sail today, because we had to rerun the halyard ( the line that pulls the sail up), after thinking it was better in the new position we put it in...Yeah - NOT! Then mess with the 3 reefing points that required me to hang off the end of the boom pulling, while Jim yanks from the front...Finally....things started looking better, and we could consider ourselves a sailboat...although as much as we will try I'm sure that neither of us will get much sleep tonight worrying about the engine.
Tuesday, Dec 4th, 2012
After waiting most of the morning for one technician, we talked to our boat boy friend who recommended what turned out to be an excellent mechanic to fix our problem. After showing up in his boat just after lunch as he promised, and then hanging upside down in the engine compartment for several minutes assessing the situation, Kerry Olliviere was able to quickly diagnose our problem as a faulty seal, then, remove the impeller and fix the seal for us. As he finished, he looked me in the eye and said...'it's all fixed now, I guarantee it!' which made me laugh but, truly did alleviate my worries!
It turns out some friends are still in Bequia, and we were able to visit with Doug and Wendy, and Glen and Sylvie, in addition to meeting Glen and Daelynn, and Dave and his wife, who were visiting with Doug and Wendy. Doug and Wendy did not know Glen and Sylvie, and we were telling them how fun they were and they should look for them when they got the chance, not knowing that Glen and Sylvie were in Bequia at the time. Then Doug and Wendy recounted the story of how last night, on the way to visit Glen and Daelynn then actually ended up stopping at the wrong boat, since the two were so similar. Turns out, then HAD met Glen & Sylvie...inadvertently! Funny and small world!
Sunday, December 2, 2012
After a whirlwind visit home to Chicago, then Cleveland and then Arizona, which included multiple meals, visits with great friends and family and two very lovely weddings, we are back in Grenada. We flew out last Friday, Nov 23rd amidst snow flurries and after two very lovely flights (in First Class to allow our 6 bags to accompany us for free) we arrived in the warm scented Grenadian air. We have spent this week working on the final preparations for leaving and checking weather incessantly until, finally it looks like Monday is the day to go. Our helm seat back is complete, and we received the gallon of coolant from Mike @ Palm Tree. We topped up our stores, and, so...all things remaining constant, we plan to begin our trip to the north tomorrow, Monday, Dec 3rd. We will check in as we are able, but don't be surprised if you don't hear from us for a week or so as we are planning day hops rather than a straight shot.