January 2007, Thursday
early, set off at 6.45. It was so
nice to have the motor running better, I just took all the ropes off and purred
quietly out of there. I have to say
that I was not impressed with Rodney Bay.
I am sure it was a great idea when it evolved, but it needs
updating. They have the custom of
the ARC going there and some improvements are needed. With it being a lagoon the mosquitos
could be quite a problem. The boat
got really dirty with the concrete pontoons and did not get cleaned as they made
a minimum charge for up to 100 gallons, I only wanted a few buckets. Anyway, I am glad I went into Barbados
and sat there for a few weeks.
There was a huge motor cruiser coming into the bay. Once out of the bay I put the genoa out
full and the main to the spreaders, later I let it out to above the blue line
which was a treat for it. I had to go as close to the wind as possible to get to
Martinique. I tacked a couple of
times, but each time the wind moved, sometimes this means there is a nasty bit
of weather coming, but nothing materialised. The wind was a reasonable 10 – 15 knots
all day, but the swell was against me and close hauled I only averaged 3
knots. The wind gradually moved
more east and I was on track for Fort de France. 4pm I had just put the main away and
then put the engine on, this was a bit early but I wanted to head directly for
the port and it was head to wind. I
put the genoa away and moved the dinghy which was over the anchor locker. 5pm and I had to make a decision, it was
still a few miles to the port or the alternative anchorages in the bay, which is
3 miles wide, very busy and by the look of the chart scary with lots of
rocks. I headed for the bay just
before the last point and anchored there.
I had no intention of arriving and clearing today, but I hoped to be
anchored in the right area.
Tomorrow I would continue on, find somewhere to anchor and do the
was 32 miles to this bay, a few more to the main bay, it does not seem very far
but it is too much for a day sail and arrive in daylight. It was probably only the current that
prevented me making faster time, but it would have been better to go overnight.
20:20 hindsight just can t be beaten.
January 2007, Friday
7.15 I put the engine on to run the watermaker for a few minutes, the
water at Rodney Bay was bad as it is a lagoon and I did not know what quality
Fort de France would be like. 7.30
I left the bay and started round to Fort de France. Lots of lobster pots here, mostly marked
with empty water bottles, if the sunlight doesn t catch them you could easily
run over a few, certainly in the dark.
I decided to ignore the pilot comments about the seriously overcrowded
anchorage and give it a go, if it was too much then I would have to go over the
other side and catch the ferry. By
9.30 I was at the main anchorage and it was fine, perhaps everybody else read
the pilot books and did not try it.
The mud and my anchor did not seem to like each other and after 3
attempts in a really nice space I tried over a bit to the right, it was
shallower and it held on the 2nd attempt.
dropped the dinghy over and got ready to go and do the necessary. I was very organised, even remembered
the small can of petrol to top up the outboard. I was being overkeen as I did not need
the petrol for rowing. If I do not
use the engine then it is easy to launch and stow the dinghy, but more work to
get ashore, but it did not look that far.
rowed against the wind to shore, tied up to a ring on the concrete jetty and set
off for customs. I went where it
said in the book and passed a chandlers which I was going to look in on the way
back. I nearly went in and asked
them where to go for clearance, but kept going. Eventually I asked someone at a jetty
and they sent me to the main port.
Back past the chandlers, the dinghy, behind the castle, up to the
football stadium, in the port, out of the port, douane – customs. My French was good enough to know I was
in the wrong place. He gave me a
piece of paper with the name and address of where I needed to go – the chandlers
I had passed an hour earlier. I
wouldn t mind if I had just winged it, but I had two sources of information,
both as current as I could get and they were both wrong.
could have dealt with any illegal persons, substances or goods long before
customs had any knowledge of me, so I stopped at an internet café, checked my
mail and had a quick MSN chat to Carl. I checked the website and noticed
that you can see the actual berth I was on in Rodney Bay, although I have to say
the boat you see is probably not actually mine. In Rodney Bay I had checked and I was
still in Barbados, not Soufriere, St. Lucia, that was because I did not type the
W in the position and it is set to default to E, so I had spent a couple of days
in the Arabian Sea, just off Oman.
Then I set about trying to find something nice to eat, 2 branches of
Delifrance and nothing enticing. I
settled for some flaked coconut from a street vendor and it turned out to be
iced, that would give me a sugar rush.
I went to the chandler, filled in a form and that was that. I did not get my passport stamped, but
this is France. I said I was
leaving Sunday so do not have to go back to clear out. I assume I can move to any anchorage,
but it was 2pm by the time I got back and I will stay put now that the anchor
seems to have stuck and I think I have passed all the beaches. The dinghy had gone under the jetty and
the oars got a bit scraped. It was
a reasonable row back to the boat.
Perhaps I am getting better otherwise the distance was short and with the
wind and tide; I am getting a little better.
formalities seem rather a waste of time and they should get a system that you
register once when you come to the Caribbean and clear before you leave, but are
then free to come and go between the islands. I shall just get relaxed over
these formalities when I arrive somewhere that takes it all very seriously.
that I can move on without having to come back and check out I have passed all
the beaches. I don t think I can be
bothered to go back down.
did go into a shop that seemed to sell everything and a supermarket, but there
is nothing I really need. I have
very few needs and am very well set up on the boat, I could just do with some
company now and then; just enough to get me fed up and realise how peaceful it
is on my own.
There is a huge motor yacht, and I mean huge, which came behind me and he
had to have a bit of playing with his anchors, the holding is a bit soft. He then flipped up a door on one side
and out comes his little dayboat and his jet ski. Very much a case of how the other 1%
Martinique guide book warns to be careful in daytime of mosquitos with dengue
fever and at night not to walk in town, I am sure that does wonders for the
restaurant trade. The history of
all these islands is quite fascinating, basically all the original inhabitants
got eliminated, the Europeans fought for control, brought in slave workers, set
up plantations and businesses, abolished slavery and here they are. Now they are British, French, Dutch or
independent, but still with the inheirited traits of their
looked at the charts for my onward plans, I did not realise that they gave all
sorts of useful information.
not enter strange harbours at night – that gives me total justification for
anchoring anywhere if I cannot get where I should be in daylight.
Check the bit on electronic navigation, mine is based on WGS 84, but some
charts you need to adjust the positions.
The one I used to here could not even be adjusted, it just said WGS84
positions could not be plotted on this chart. You are supposed to use sights to
the island ahead and if you cannot see it then sights from the island
information on currents and tides seems extremely complicated, but it does
explain why I ended up so far west.
I was as close to the wind as I could get all the way, but next time
perhaps it would be be better to have motored up to the top of St Lucia which
should have been easier than fighting wind and tide at the other end. They even give you detailed information
on going from the different islands, I never had this kind of info on Admiralty
charts, these are Imray. More
reading is required before setting off for Dominica. I don t think I have much option this
time other than to follow the coast up Martinique, then hop across the water and
follow coast up Dominica..
Evidently still as true today as it was in 1817 – when passing to leeward
of the high islands stay within two pistol shots distance or seven leagues
off. Seven leagues is 21 miles, but
how far is a pistol shot?
January 2007, Saturday
not get up early, I was awake at 6, but did not want to get up until 8. It had rained a little and the man on
the motor boat next to me was washing his boat using water and a pressure
hose. I don t have enough of the
first to spare and don t have the second, so I wiped my boat over with a
checked the oil, which was fine, the service can wait a bit longer.
put a new shackle on the genoa, a small one fitted, which means the genoa has
dropped. I did let it down a little
and there is a kink near the bottom, so I will have to pull it back up a
bit. I used a shackle with a hole
in the pin and moused it, so I will have to cut that off when I mend the
Everything non-essential can wait until I have stopped for a longer
time. It is really hot here, too
hot to do much, so I didn t, finished the book I started yesterday and had a
took my flag of St lucia down early because it was coming unstitched. Some of these flags are a bit
complicated. I did not bother at
all in Martiique. You would think
that as my boat was born in France it would have come with a French flag, but it
didn t and I didn t go there, so I have not bothered; although the French flag
would have been about the easiest of the lot.
January 2007, Sunday
was going to set off at dusk, but moved it forward to noon, now I will go as
soon as I am ready. I have to go 20
miles up Martinique, then it should be a good 26 mile reach across to the bottom
of Dominica. I hope to go 20 miles
to the top and check in there tomorrow in daylight, but it will depend on the
have some bread in the oven and am going to have it with bacon (it is months
since I had bacon) before I go, because I cannot spend long chunks of time
inside cooking when island hopping.
This is where crossing oceans is so much easier when alone, so much space
around you to get on with things. I
have to get the dinghy on board, I can do this quite easily now. Me swinging on one end of the rope and
the dinghy up in the air on the other end, not exactly an art form, but it
works. It rained a few times in the
night and it started again. I
abandoned the dinghy, on deck, but not tied down. The loaf is cooked so I will attend to
the bacon. Bacon has that knack of
being not cooked, nearly, very nearly and moves on to burnt just before you get
back to it, in estate agent terms that translates to well
I was taking breakfast on the terrace a boat was coming in to the
anchorage. He put out fenders and
was sorting ropes, not usual for anchoring. It was a French boat and he was either
loco or local as he kept going all the way to where we leave the dinghies. Catamarrans can do that, which is quite
clever, none of the others thought of trying it. Then it started to rain again and I
decided another cup of tea would be a good idea, I don t know the last time when
I had two in a morning. This rain
keeps starting and stopping, I will set off and if it is really horrid then I
will stop again, even if it means going back to a bay.