Nosing Northwards continued.......
andromeda of plymouth
Susan and Andrew Wilson
Fri 28 Mar 2014 00:51
Our passage to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia was a lot better than last year’s but still could have been nicer and once in the lee of St. Lucia on went the iron sail and we made directly for Rodney Bay, arriving about 7am, just time to put the anchor down, get ourselves sorted out, have some breakfast and be ready to go to a berth in the marina. We were going into the dock as we wanted to do a bit of provisioning and were going to keep our water and new fuel tank topped up but we also wondered whether we had an engine charging (alternator) problem.
It is so nice to go back to places where people remember you and walking into the Marina Office we were greeted and welcomed back by Natalie, we wonder if it is the orange? Formalities done, it was time to catch a few ZZZZZZZ’s before deciding what to do first. Later that afternoon we were just boat watching when we noticed a familiar vessel arriving just a few berths away from us. It was our friends on Piano coming into drop off one guest and pick up some more. A quick greeting later and we were invited for sundowners at 5.30….and there was enough time to hit the showers. We met Rhienhart, Sue and Malcolm’s guest from Germany, and swopped stories of our various adventures. Rheinhart had just spent 3 weeks with Sue and Malcolm going up and down the islands covering quite a few hundred miles.
It was Wednesday the following day and traditionally the day for lady cruisers to meet up at a local hotel for a leisurely lunch, followed by a dip in the pool and Jacuzzi, with the opportunity for a swim in the sea too. Susan hadn’t managed to get to one of these events yet but Sue from Piano was a regular whenever she was in St. Lucia. Malcolm very kindly agreed to ferry them both to the appropriate dinghy dock and so at 11.30 off they went.
The Bay Gardens Resort comprises several hotels in various localities and we were going to the ‘prime’ one. It was certainly a lovely place with a very pretty pool and restaurant area. There were around 14 of us this time and a table had been beautifully laid and even the seats had been covered (it felt like we were at going a wedding). After an aperitif we all sat and chose our lunch. The dishes all looked wonderful and every one enjoyed their choices. There was a lot of chat and introductions as we got to know each other and exchanged tales. Once lunch was over we congregated round the pool, enjoying the cool water and the contrasting very hot Jacuzzi. All Susan needed was some bubbles, a cup of tea and a book and she would have been in heaven. Susan managed to check out the beach on the other side too, where the water was about the same temperature as the pool. All in all a great lunch time treat.
Meanwhile back at the marina Andrew had all the good jobs, you know, checking the bilges, checking the oil and engine, getting the mizzen ready to use and redoing the fishing lines……
We were intending to head off to Martinique and St. Ann’s and Marin, another place we had been trying to visit each time we came up and down island. This was also the weekend before the Mardi Gras carnivals would be on and we had heard that Martinique had quite a few parades to watch too.
So having been to the chandlers to get a few more bits, and several visits to the hardware store trying to get a regulator to fit one of our gas tanks, we managed to go and do some provisioning. The interesting thing about provisioning in the Caribbean Islands is the way the supermarkets change as you go north. Everything becomes more American/European/English as you go further north and it’s really noticeable in St. Lucia. A lot of folk from Europe holiday here and the goods on offer reflect that, so it is very enjoyable to go and get some different things to eat for a change. St Lucia also offers some duty free shopping,so again it’s a change to be a bit of a tourist.
Our flat is being rented out once again and now we had to be able to electronically sign various documents so of course this is where things went a bit pear-shaped. Thursday evening Susan did some research on her computer and then left it to finish updating over night, closing the lid when it had shut down. Friday morning she went to check something and found a bit of moisture but didn’t really take it in and then her computer wouldn’t start, wouldn’t charge, didn’t react at all. It had rained over night and her computer had been on the chart table and there hadn’t previously been a problem with the windows leaking before. In the meantime Andrew’s computer had been playing up with the internet not working and none of the USB ports responding. Panic……..a trip to the office to ask about computer repairs resulted in us being put in touch with the guy who looked after the marina machines and Susan’s netbook was picked up to be investigated. Andrew had eventually found out that his machine had turned off the wireless card and so at least we could (if we went to a bar) get on line, so eventually the documents were signed and sent back.
Late afternoon we caught up with Danlay who said the problem was caused by water getting into the machine frying some of the components, but he was hopeful that he could get it working by…. the following morning(Sat), that afternoon, Sunday…….you get the picture. We finally met up with him on Monday to learn that although there had only been the one very slight ingress of water, it had caused quite a bit of damage and the real answer was to get a new motherboard. We were anxious to leave St. Lucia so didn’t want wait for a new motherboard to arrive, plus to get one sent out here wouldn’t be cost effective therefore we had the hard drive from the machine put it in a case so we can access all the data on it.
A trip to the Mall was called for and with no net books available we bought a lovely Vaio laptop from, of all places, the local furniture store. Susan now had to try and get used to a new Windows 8 operating system, trying to do all the necessary registration and on-line stuff before we left for Martinique……no pressure then.
Over the weekend we had caught up with Adrian (thanks for the offer of a loan of a laptop) and Clare from Flying Low and Christine and Adrian from Quadrille II for sundowners with a few other boaterswho were around as well.
Tuesday morning we left St. Lucia after filling up with water and topping up the fuel tank and we headed out of the bay to see what conditions were like, and if it was going to be possible to lay a course to St. Ann’s. Well the short answer was no, if we really wanted to get there it would be a hard beat to windward so discretion took over and we headed for Grand Anse and the lovely buoys they had put in place there.
The trip across was fairly bouncy and we headed into the bay ready to capture a mooring buoy. Susan had got everything ready to go but as we approached the buoy realized the lines were too thick to be pulled though with a knot in them, so was rushing up and down the deck retrieving a thinner line, tying the bowlines, putting it through the fairlead and was ready just as we got to the buoy. She leant over the side and snagged it first time resulting in a round of applause and cheers from the folk on a nearby boat that had watched the whole thing. Susan was really chuffed and reflected that the people had seen a few misses and indeed later in the day Andrew watched as a catamaran lost 2 boat hooks overboard and eventually got tied on when a crew member leapt into the water to do it…….just this once we were being watched (though not aware of it) and we got it right.
Grande Anse is a sleepy little French resort and we knew we didn’t have to race ashore and so we settled down for the night, and oh what a night, it was so rolly, we were being bounced all over the place and it was hard to stay in our bunks, so not a lot of sleep was had by either of us. In the morning we went ashore to clear in to find out that you now have to go to the previous bay to do so. Trying to pay for our mooring we were given the good news that there was no charge and after a walk round we went back to Andromeda. By now we were rolling even more so decided to leave Grande Anse and make our way round to Fort de France, Martinique’s capital, and do our clearing in there.
We had a beautiful sail that Wednesday to Fort de France, blue sky, sun shining, wind blowing, no waves to speak of, it was glorious and ended all too soon as we only had to sail 8 or 9 miles. We anchored first time and made sure it was secure then had lunch before we were to head for the dock. At this point we realized there seemed to be a lot of people ashore, and a lot of noise, and it turned out there was a parade going on. We had a bit of view from Andromeda and decided to stay on board as the chandlers where we were to clear in would obviously not be open. Talking to the guys off Just Imagine the next day we were glad we didn’t go ashore as it was all a bit shambolic with very long waits between the various floats and bands and to be honest it was quite loud enough out in the anchorage. The proceedings were closed by a really big bonfire around 8pm and everyone went home so a peaceful night was had.
Thursday morning we popped round to see Robin and Cheryl Wilson on their catamaran ‘Just Imagine’ having missed catching up with them in several other anchorages. After a cup of tea and a chat we eventually made it ashore to clear in. At the chandlers there was a big of a queue for the computer terminal and we waited patiently whilst 3 other boaters filled in their forms. It’s fairly straight forward and every form is identical on every French island but the folk before us had real trouble, even though they had the paperwork from clearing in/out before, with all the information that they needed to input, it took them 20 minutes to sort themselves out…..Andrew was next and was done in 5 including printing the form out.
We were now free to have a look round and headed for the nearest supermarket to stock up with a few essentials and stuff we couldn’t get elsewhere…..they even had some wine boxes, so much easier to stow on board. Lunch was had at KFC because wifi was available there, then it was back on board for a lazy afternoon. We had been hoping to be able to spend more time in Martinique but once again events took over and with the weather forecast we decided to head up to St. Pierre the following morning. We had sundowners and snacks aboard Just Imagine along with 10 other folk they had invited over, swapping all our different adventures to date.
Another short but great sail was had up the coast to St. Pierre the following morning and was highlighted by the huge pod of dolphins we saw as we approached the headland just before the anchorage. We had been watching boats ahead of us appearing to congregate for some reason and realized they were dolphin/whale watching vessels and were glad we got there before the dolphins headed off. We saw them leaping and splashing before anchoring in the bay well before the late afternoon rush and it was just as well as the wind kept dropping whereupon all the boats would react differently to the currents that then took over. Susan went ashore for a couple of hours to get some postcards and do some interneting and then after tea we started our anchor watch, mainly because by this time other boats were anchored close by and we wanted to avoid any bumps etc.
Departing early morning, this time to Dominica, and with reasonable winds we sailed north, arriving mid afternoon to pick up a buoy for the night. The buoy at 25EC (about 5pounds )is the cheapest in the Caribbean. We were stopping in Dominica to say Hi and Goodbye to any other OCC (Ocean Cruising Club) members as several days later there were going to be some celebrations to mark the club’s 60th Anniversary. Unfortunately we didn’t feel we could spare the time to attend, taking into account our desire to be north coupled with the weather conditions. So Hi and Bye it was and we left the following morning for one of our favourite places, the Saintes.
We have been so lucky this year to have some wonderful sails on the passages between the islands and this one was just as good, such a change from beating into the wind and waves though our arrival to pick up a buoy just as a squall was going through was fun. Two attempts needed this time as the gadget that Susan uses came apart at the first try and had to be put back together again for success. Ahh its so nice to be on a secure buoy, no sitting waiting to see if you are dragging, no worries about bumping into anyone or them bumping into you, unless of course the buoys are not maintained, then it is a different kettle of fish altogether.
A lazy Sunday ensured as the weather brightened up and the sun came out and when the guys came out to take payment for the mooring we were able to order croissants, pain au raisin and a baguette for delivery early next morning…….
As we have said before the Saints is a gorgeous little place, but such a lot goes on, and buoy number 35 gave us great views of it all. We stayed until Wednesday morning and saw several behemouths coming and going, lots of different styles of how to and how not to pick up a mooring and then there were the ferries bringing people on day trips and holidays from the main island of Guadaloupe. We enjoyed a real chance to unwind a bit and contemplate our onward journey also getting a few jobs done, Susan was busy repairing the mizzen staysail pak. By now we were convinced that the alternator needed looking at again and decided that St. Martin would be the best place for it to be done. In the meantime there were crepes to be enjoyed.
Deshaies was our next destination after having our delivery of croissants etc and we were treated to a great view of the Wind Surf arriving just as we were leaving. The Wind Surf is the boat that Tamsin served on and we have seen her a few times over the last couple of years, we waved as they went pass then carried on up the coast of Guadaloupe with of all things a westerly wind, we haven’t had one of those to sail in for years. Dropping the hook for an overnight stay in Deshaies we settled down for the night having first anchor watched, and checking transit points for over 3 hours (we don’t normally check for quite so long but Deshaies is renowned for its winds, so we were playing it safe). Everything looked fine until just before midnight when we noticed that instead of being in 12 metres of water we now had 18 metres under the keel, yep we were moving again……
It was a very easy decision to take the anchor up there and then and set sail for Antigua, re-anchoring would have meant staying awake to make sure we weren’t drifting again, at least if we were sailing we would still be awake but at least getting somewhere and we had intended to move in the morning anyway.
We were so pleased with the decision we made, we had a gorgeous night sail. The sky looked wonderful with myriad stars twinkling away and for a lot of the night we had a beautiful yellow moon giving us good vision over the sea. The wind was blowing just right and so Andromeda romped over the water………
Jolly Harbour was our next port of call and we were approaching Antigua as the sun came up heading into the marina about 8.30am to tie up on B dock with help from the friendly marina guy. After securing our lines Andrew went off to clear in whilst Susan got Andromeda ship shaped. Then it was off to the office and a very warm welcome from the staff, with the dock master telling the new ladies that we had been there many times and all the paperwork was done.
More in due course,
Andrew and Susan,
Andromeda of Plymouth
photos - -14 St Lucia, 12-14 Grande Anse, 15-17 Fort de France, 18- St Pierre,10-20 Dominica, 21-33 The Saintes,34-Caribbean Sea - next stop Belize