Martinique to Guadaloupe A Proper Sail

Wed 16 Apr 2008 16:41
15.59N 61.42W
Sat 5 April
So eventually we leave Martinique ... Well fed up of the rain and wet squalls .. so decided to miss the next island .. Dominica .. It's even higher and all the blurb talks about are 350 waterfalls and rain forest .. no we NEED some proper sun! so onto  Guadeloupe  .. (French again!) .. and its offshore islands which we have been told are exceptional ... we will see ..  But 90 some miles from Fort de France ... So ..
Set sail from F d F  for an afternoon sail up to St Pierre .. about 12 miles up the coast ... Guess what .. we run out of wind because of the mountains AND its raining when we get there!! Have dinner at anchor  and a couple of hours sleep before setting off at 2 in the morning. .. and it's still raining and only a light breeze ... oilskin trousers on and into a very dark night ..... then the wind dropped altogether ...  (forecast was for force 5 ie20 ish knots!!!) .. engine on and 30 minutes later it just dies .... So switch fuel tanks reprime and off we go .. NOT .. shit ... all a bit hot in there  .. maybe the water pump impellor (I've been meaning to  put a new one for a few weeks now ... So no time like the present ... hour and a half later .. job done .. engine cooled off so try again ... nothing ... scratch head ... (not too brainy at silly o'clock in the morning)  ... Then it slowly filtered though the old brain ... If we had drained the fuel tank ... there would now be air in the fuel line .. logical  yes.. Unscrew the highest connection . prime again (ie manually pump the fuel) and Bingo we are off ... Guess what ... just as the wind reappears!  .. So engine off again after all of 5 minutes running! ... Dawn came and we had only gone about 8 miles ugh..
But now the wind was beginning to get up properly ... 15knots ... 20 knots ... and we had not even cleared Martinique yet... and suddenly the lack of sleep got me ... but where .. the way the wind was increasing I wanted to be on deck quick if Annabel got worried ... Then I discovered THE place ... straight, narrow, flat, near the middle of the boat .... No fear of getting thrown about ... The galley floor, with lifejacket pulled up a bit to make a soft pillow ... fantastic .. Hour later up and off again.. As we clear Martinique wind increase again then steadies between 28 and 32 knots true, sun shining at full strength  (force 7, gale starts at 34 knots) .... us on a broad reach and flying with 2 reefs and half the Genny unrolled ... spray everywhere and the occasional dunking as we undertook a breaking wave! 3 hours later it drops a bit whist we are in lee of Dominica (well 6 miles to the lee so still bumpy but D is 4000 foot high!) ..Breakfast , full sail up and we keep going at 6 to 7 knots .. Then as we come to the northern end of Dominica the wind heads and starts increasing again.. reefs back in ,take some genny in and start bashing to windward (well 5 degrees off close hauled) whilst we still have a bit of shelter from the land.. Then back out to the ocean rollers.. but wind has dropped to 25 to 30 knots... good... but now we are sailing at 10 degrees off close hauled to get straight to Basse Terre ,Guadeloupe.. Speed goes up and we are flying again ... but this time we are screaming along the wave trains ... doing what surfers do , but off the back not the front of the wave.. and keeping the ride going alas long as possible .. then drop into the trough .. wait for the next breaker to come crashing down on top of us ... just about the wettest spot was standing at the helm!!! ... Then Gaviota would kick all 20 tons upwards and we are screaming along the back of the next one!!! Whoopee ... All  26 miles of the way  to Guadeloupe ... Anchored at 3.30 pm ... Given the lousy start about 2 hours earlier than expected ... Exhilarated, aching shoulders and arms from steering just about the whole way, tired legs just trying to stay upright  whilst the boated bucked and buried the lee rail (but not tired despite only 3 hours sleep in the last 24 hours!!!)... What a fantastic sail ... will definitely go into the memoirs!