29 June 2007 | Martinique
I have a formula that goes something like this, for every day you are in an anchorage it takes you 20 minutes to get ready to make way. If you are just overnight you can be underway after 20 minutes of prep in the morning. If you are hooked in one place for two weeks it will take you almost 5 hours to get out of the anchorage. This seems to be fairly accurate for us. The longer you are in one spot the more stuff gets un-stowed.
We were on a mooring last night which speeds things up even more. Unzip the sail bag, remove any silencing bungee cords, go through the boat start up check list, drop two lines off the bow and sail away. That is just what we did at 7AM. We were at the south end of Dominica and before long we were reaching south into the channel with a reef in the main at 9 knots into a 28 knot Strong Breeze. We averaged well over 8 knots across the channel until we hit a squall off the coast of Martinique. We double reefed the main and jib which slowed Swingin' on a Star down to a more comfortable 8 knots.
Just as the squall passed a couple dozen white sided dolphins came to play on our bow. It was enchanting to watch them jump and swim in the clear water. They love to get between the hulls and play back and forth between the bow waves. I have recently learned that most dolphins prefer a speed of about 7 knots. Slower and they get bored, Faster and they get tired. We were still doing over eight knots, and after about fifteen minutes the pod swam off to the west. We took lots of pictures of the water where a dolphin had been two seconds earlier.
We arrived at Saint Pierre, the northern most anchorage on the west coast of Martinique, at around noon. The town is a little ragged but quaint at the same time. There's an old fort on the coast and a large pier right in the center of town. Saint Pierre has a fantastic fresh fruit and vegetable market near the main pier and lots of small shops in the downtown area. Hideko and I went ashore looking for customs. After hiking to the north end of town we discovered the customs building. It had a sign out front that said, "Clear in at the Internet Café on the South end of town". Just as well because we wanted to go there anyway.
When we arrived at the internet café, Fred and Cindy were there. Kelp Fiction was a ways behind us on the trip over. When we asked how they got there so fast, Fred revealed that the large sign on the pier that we ignored (because it was in French) read, "Go to the Internet Café to clear in". Oh.
We cleared in with the customs lady, who then took our order, set us up with internet access, served our food and I assume washed the dishes. I love the French islands. No pretense. We had a nice lunch overlooking the harbor.