01/23/2011, Le Marin
By far the most yachts I have seen in one spot in this huge marina! It is buzzing! It is beautiful and well laid out for boaties! The Marina is great! It is the main base of over 17 charter companies and all trades are in abundance here! That is exactly why we went there (as it is also a place much closer with an easier sail for our trip back to Rodney Bay to pick up the parts!) A very friendly electrician helped us out on a Saturday afternoon at 4.30pm!! He could fix the anchor winch only....that same day Johann and I got stuck into the manual of the deck winch and found the loose connection! And it fixed that problem! Hallelujah ! Finally!!Now we just need to get the wind indicator part tomorrow and Bob's my Uncle!
The next morning early we were back in Rodney Bay (with a very quick sail in great winds!) The parts were there ...customs were nice enough not to force us to go and get visas again! And things are looking up at this stage! We connected the wind indicator part up on top of the mast - and it all seems to work fine! But...always a but....the other part (zinks for the props) were the wrong part! Johann was less than thrilled...that will have to wait till the next big centre to sort out...and it cannot be good for the props to be without them - we will have to avoid Marina's in the mean time ....where electrolyses is more likely to affect a prop without a zink! We left very early (5.30am) the next morning to go back to Martinique - this time St Pierre...up the north western coast of Martinique. A long 5 hour boisterous sail in 25-30 knot winds and huge swells!
Just to find out that the anchor winch is still not working all the time!! So...back to square one!...at least it is sort of allowing the most important operations...just no chain counting on it...!!!Well...we will wait for an English speaking electrician this time!
01/20/2011, Martinique – Fort de France
Fort de France:
Johann had to go and clear in at customs - we soon discovered it was a breeze and a pleasure to be in a "almost first world place" - no fees - no questions - they plonk you down in front of a laptop - you just fill out the online form and get the girl to stamp your entry form and Voila! 5 minutes later - you can hoist your French flag! They certainly do not see it as a money making opportunity! (Tell you what...it can be a 30-45 min job at any other customs office!...if not longer ...depending on the friendliness of the staff and the que in front of you!). There are just a few things about the French that I really like!! This is certainly one of them!
Fort de France - the Capital city of Martinique...by far the largest and liveliest city so far in the Windward Islands! It is clean, organised, beautiful...and very French! If you have a bit of imagination - you could have been in Europe!...driving on the right side of the road..so remember to watch the "wrong" side for oncoming cars!(I got caught out many a times almost walking right in front of a bus or a car!) The architecture is very French (some great old buildings around)...so are the food, the people and the language....not much English is understood here! So...the dictionary has become my number one companion for the next few days!
It is expensive (using Euro's here) but the shops are different!... And so is the food! Some really huge first world shopping centres and amazing restaurants with a great pedestrian street called Rue Rèpublique that will have me occupied for hours! I would love to come back ....one day...and stay a little bit longer - I am dying to see the country side behind this busy buzz of a place!
We manage to find a very friendly American yachtie (Bruce) that was very eager to help us with the anchor winch - he did get the remote to work (it still needed to be fixed permanently by a professional but he managed to disconnect the deck button!! Ahhh no!) So we will have to shift tomorrow to St Marin and find an electrician! On a Saturday...good luck to us!
01/20/2011, Between Rodney Bay and Fort de France
When things go wrong - they invite more wrong things to join the party!
We left Rodney Bay with the worrying fact that we will have to come back in order to pick up parts for the wind indicator. Worrying because we will need to get new visas - and for that we need to travel with a taxi all the way to Castries (about $US160 travelling cost and $100 for the Visas!) and face the heavy seas on the crossing twice!
A few other things started playing up that had us concerned - the deck winch was working only on and off and became very unreliable - which means that the main sail needs to be hoisted manually - and Captain J already has a tennis elbow injury from pulling up the dinghy onto the davits...because I am just not the muscles he was hoping for (in spite my effort to get myself into shape prior to the start of the trip!)
We were at this stage also without a wind indicator and the job has become mine to measure the howling winds with a handheld meter - while hanging on for dear life to the side of the boat! I could imagine me flying/flapping like a flag off the sides at times...but it did not quite get to that!...thank goodness! I was so sick of instruments letting us down that I could scream!
Well - as expected - in the midst of howling winds and big swells the deck winch refused to make any noise!... the first effort getting the mainsail up manually was no joke! It was not rigged to do it from the mast (which is much easier) and the strain showed! We had really strong winds and heavy seas going from St Lucia to Martinique and the relief was enormous to see Fort de France!
A beautiful bay and very popular too! We decided to anchor right underneath Fort St Louis - just a magic sight ...a very tight fit it will be in very strong winds...but we can do it!...if the remote control of the anchor winch is working like it normally is...but suddenly there was NO reaction from that either!...so no anchor winch...I needed to quickly improvise as I never needed to familiarise myself with the manual way of operating the winch! Trying and testing caused the chain to suddenly free-drop in a spot way too dangerously close to two other boats and I had no idea how to stop the massive amount of chain running free to pile up on the bottom of the see! Well Johann shouted against the wind some advice and I managed to stop the free fall! We managed at that stage still to get it up with the deck winch (a push button on the floor of the deck). Boy was I popular!!
As soon as we moved forward to a safer position, I heard Johann shouting something about "steer the boat!!!"...The anchor has not been dropped as yet...we are going to drift into the yacht next to us....I ran back to the helm station just to see Johann swimming after little Scolli (the dinghy) who was tired of being towed and tried to get away from us! About a 30 meter swim and I had Captain J back onboard...wet and out of breath...and with very wet Euro bills and a drenched wallet!! (They should get the plastic type like the Aussie dollar - that loves being washed in the washing machine and still looks a million dollars!! HA :-) !!!)
He ordered me to tie the dingy to the boat and I left the end of the painter (rope) lying in the water ( just to make it quite clear ...not on porpoise...right?) - At that stage it was crazy panic stations on board - Johann reversed quickly to get away from the other boats - and of cause the engine caught the rope and point blank died right there and then on us! Well you can just imagine how my popularity has shot up past Angelina Joli's by now!!
Ok!!!!!! For Pete's sake!!! What NEXT???
Another dive and it was free - thank God (and I mean it ...a payer was shot up immediately!!) no damage done ....we ended up anchor safely...at which time we were totally exhausted! I felt like falling into a heap and not wake up for 20 hours! We did not see much of the night ...we were both knocked out by 7.30 pm!