Exploring the islands

Dave & Becky Werrett
Thu 12 Feb 2009 09:29
Position: 15:51N  61:35W
As I write we are sailing up the west coast of Dominica, headed for Portsomouth Harbour, it has been a long sail today - we set off at 7.30 this morning and expect to arrive just befdore 5 this afternoon. It's odd - after the atlantic crossing I thought I would find day sailing a piece of cake but doing 10 hours in one go still seems a little wearing!
We finally left St Lucia on sat 7th am, I actually found it quite hard to leave, despite doing 2900 miles not so long ago - all my fears about sailing seem to have returned and I wanted to stay in the security of the marina. We had ventured out last thursday to "test" our engine - but it had been a disatrous sail compared to what we expected. The engine which we had paid 4000EC (Over £1000) to be fixed whilst we were in the uk was still showing signs of an electronic fault, the rev counter wasn't working and the battery light wouldn't go out, which usually indicates that the alternator isn't charging the boats batterys.(This still isn't fixed!)  We tried to put the boat through a tack but the wind was so strong she wouldn't go round without the engine and so there was a lot of flapping sails and I got my hand caught in the lines giving me alot of rope burn and skin ripped off fingers, then to cap it all as the wind picked up we tried to bring the front sail in and the furling mechanism jammed so we had to drop the genoa on the front deck in 20knts of wind and return to the marina. Needless to say - none of this did anything to increase my confidenceabout setting off again! But Dave's Dad Ken was with us and he took it all in his stride plus his flight to Antigua on the 14th was looming so we set off for Marintique about 11am sat morning.
The wind was brisk and the waves quite big as we sailed between the islands, - we had c 20-23 knts and about an hour out of Pigeon island, we decided to reef in the front sail as we were fairly well heeled over and this was Ken's first sail! However we then realised that we had rewound the furling mechanisim the wrong way and we had no way of pulling the sailing back in. I have no idea why 2 intelligent people firstly made this mistake and then compounded it by not checking the fulring as we promised ourselves we would on friday!  Anyway we adjusted course and bought her up into the wind slightly, then Dave and I sat at the front of the bow as it dipped in and out of the water getting soaked and winding the furling on by hand! This did the job fine but given the size of the waves and the effort required we both felt rather sea sick and having worried about how Ken would cope on his first sail, he sat there serenely and watched as I had to lie down with my eyes shut and Dave threw up over the back - we have clearly been on land far too long!
Anyway we arrived in Martinique without further incident, we were sailing with Ange & Richard, our friends on Sophisitikate who had flown back out from the UK the night before with their two friends Charliie & Pete and we spent the night at anchor with them in St Anne's bay. It was a gorgeous well protected bay and we all dinghyed to shore that evening for a great evening in a local bar/restauraunt with live music. Even Ken got up to dance when propositioned by several of the females and Indy looked alot older than 12 when she was rather reluctantly whisked round the floor by one of the "older" locals under the watchful gaze of her father and grampy!
After a failed attempt and rather damp attempt to clear customs in Martinique on sunday morning (they were on strike!) we set off for St Pierre, a bay on the north tip of the island. This was nowhere as pretty as St Anne and not so good for anchoring. It took us over an hour to find a spot where we felt the anchor would hold and we had room to swing about. It was also fairly rolly with the swell and we worried about how close were we were to the other boats and the beach! So we had a restless night at anchor last night, with Dave or I getting up to check the anchor every hour or so... well at least it's free!
So we are now enroute to Dominica where we plan to spend a few days, tomorrow we are going to do the indian river excursion which takes you through some of the places they filmed pirates of the caribbean. It will be another night at anchor as marinas are few and far between on the more uninhabited islands. Fortunately the watermaker and generator are now working fine so I have plenty of ice for my V&T. From Dominica we will spend a night or two at the bottom of Guadaloupe before arriving in Antigua on friday in time for Ken's flight home on saturday. From there we wil head up to St Martin, an overnight sail to meet up with our Atlantic saviour - Windancer! Will keep you posted.
Loads of love to you all
Becky & Dave XXX