When Ya Gotta Go, Ya Gotta Go!
19 January 2017 | Le Gosier, Guadeloupe
We had happily planted ourselves at our favourite place to anchor by St. Pierre, and were looking at some very benign conditions to travel up to Roseau with the trawler "Pegasus". As usual, we had consulted our emails from Chris Parker, and double checked with other resources, to ascertain what for us would be the best time to head north after a prolonged time of crappy winds. We are NOT salty sailors. Well, I hadn't really looked at the swell forecast, because that is at the very bottom of the email, and it usually isn't much of a concern...except this time I DID look, and found some very important information.
Dominica, in our experience, is not the place to be when there is a large NE swell. The swells tend to wrap around and make things, um, interesting, anywhere one might anchor or moor. The forecast was calling for large NW swells, even worse! Crap. We had some decisions to make. We knew we wanted to get to the Saints, minimum, to avoid being hit by those swells. A faster boat could do it in a day, in the light, but not us, and one does not approach the Saints at night, as there are fish pots everywhere, lying in wait to foul a rudder or prop. What to do?
We could get up at oh-dark-thirty and leave in the dark and make a straight shot of it. To be honest, we don't particularly enjoy doing the interisland channels in the dark... We've had one or two unpleasant experiences with some of those crossings to make us wary and suspicious.
We could get up at a more reasonable time to get to the channel as the sun rose, and stay the night in Portsmouth, but the swells were due in the night we would be there. Not our favourite option.
We could haul anchor immediately (we had already checked out as we were going to leave the next morning, anyway) and have enough light to do most of the channel in the daylight. We would then have the almost full moon to light our way. The option was then to just slow down in the lee of Dominica to arrive in the Saints in good daylight, or possibly anchor in Portsmouth in the middle of the night, both of us get some solid sleep, and then continue on.
Within 40 minutes of me re-reading the email, we had the boat thrown together and were underway. The dinghy had already been stripped, and it was simply a matter of getting the last things tucked away or tied down.
The crossing was uneventful, with a nice sunset, and we made it to Portsmouth and had the anchor down by 2:00am. We slept a solid 4 hours, had coffee and cereal, and continued on.
The mooring at the Saints was a little rolly, and we took another good look at the latest weather intel. NW swells AND NW winds in the forecast. We had a cold front that was making a rare appearance this far south. I asked Ken to figure out vectors for where we were situated while I went ashore to check us into Guadeloupe, and get a quick run in (and maybe a baguette). When I returned, Ken had ascertained that the wind and swells could funnel right into the Saints mooring field, so we made the decision to head up to Gosier, an anchorage that would be well protected from the weather coming up. I put some more diesel into the tank to make sure we would have enough.
The next morning we were up and at 'em again, heading up to Gosier, which is "under" Grand Terre, or the right wing of the butterfly, just around the corner from Pointe-a-Pitre. It is an anchorage that we like, anyway, and would have zero fetch for anything out of the north.
So here we are. It has been comfortable, and we are somewhere that we like. Dominica will have to wait.