14:27.779N 60:52.209W Martinique
4 February 2007, Sunday
Chelsea Flower Pete went off to Jolly Harbour and I went with Pete and Fliss to Dream or Two for a sociable afternoon with Chris and Barbara. Went to the Tot, but did not feel like joining in – that is the second night I have missed.
5 February 2007, Monday
Went through to Falmouth Harbour on foot, I was going to move the boat there, but don’t know if it is worth the trouble. Apart from lots of superyachts there is not much difference. Went to the Tot and had a good evening.
Was woken up by the man from the boat behind. Felt like no wind, but the two boats were meeting in a T shape. It had never happened before, just a freaky bit of wind and tide and the different way the two boats react. Within seconds the boats are a long way apart again.
I was going to take some chain in, but he said there was a foot gap and so it was ok. At that angle my dinghy was a good fender anyway, so I went back to bed. At 3am I checked and his stern was right by my side and so I took in some chain.
6 February 2007, Tuesday
Meridian in front was going away for a few days and Bill said I could have his mooring, but I would then have to re-anchor when he got back. I am sure someone else will take it if I do not.
Got ready early to go and get the bus to St Johns, all clean clothes, 9.00 ready for the off. I could not get the engine to work, an American next to me enquired, but did not come over to help. I could not get the starter cord to come out, it did once and then got stuck. I was concentrating on this and suddenly the engine sprang into life and the dinghy went upside down and I went under. I managed to get out and get the dinghy uprighted in two attempts, but thought all my money and keys were now at the bottom. Amazingly my bag floated and I think I recovered everything important, although my sunglasses bought it. I had to rinse my clothes, they hadn t been on long enough to get dirty, and had a shower. I am leaving the outboard for when I am feeling like another go – could be some time.
I am not normally able to sit still and do nothing, but I managed all the rest of this morning.
I was told all the water was good on the island, but the only tap I can find without a padlock on it is by the beach to wash the sand off your feet. I filled up some bottles but it looked really yellowy. I checked it and even the bottles that looked clear are reading 600ppm, so I am using it for washing and not adding any more to the tank.
Went to the Tot, but then had dinner with Dream or Two.
7 February 2007, Wednesday
Took the outboard to the fuel dock, thought the outboard man worked out of there. Later found out he did not. Went to the Tot, but sat out, heard bad things about the outboard guy, do not want him to take it away, will have to go early and and get it back tomorrow.
8 February 2007, Thursday
Was at the fuel dock by 7.30, but Greg had taken the motor. Phoned him and he said he would bring it back at 12. I filled up some bottles from the tap on the fuel dock, this was 700ppm. Is the hose water that boats fill up with better quality. The outboard seems to work ok, cost US$87, it really needed flushing through.
The French boat that recently arrived and is sitting on my nose evidently bumped me while I was out. Barbarossa kept an eye on him, he put fenders on his stern so there should not be any damage. He dived down to his anchor and then to mine. Barbarossa think he wanted to be where I was and was going to move my anchor, so they made a lot of noise and took photos to let him know he was being watched and he stopped. A piece of sandy mud here that holds your anchor is quite a prized possession.
Got my parcel from Stevie, a bar of chocolate Fed Ex from US, but my credit card was in there as well. Said goodbye to the Antigua mob, they will probably all still be there when I go back.
The two dolphins that had met my arrival came into the bay one afternoon and I did see a turtle just before I left. There were a few fish by the Galleon Beach jetty other than that it was just the black pelicans. These were amazing to watch as they soared and then dropped straight down and usually came up with a fish. They were not afraid of humans and would stand on the boardwalks outside the waterside restaurant, the fuel dock or the dinghy pontoon. I would not say that they were tame or friendly, because if they were by a cleat then I found somewhere else to tie up to. They have very long sharp bills and can strike very fast.
9 February 2007
Took off the outboard, put the dinghy away and upped anchor 7.30. That was Antigua.
Had a good sail, close hauled, full rig, 13 knots of wind until 3.30 then motorsailed the last two hours. 18.00, sun about to disappear, 45 miles, anchored Deshais, Guadeloupe. Tam Tam catamarran from Canaries is here.
10 February 2007, Saturday
6.20 I was off again. Full sail, close hauled. Motor sailed until 11.30 when the wind went up to 18-20 knots until 3.15pm when I had to put the motor back on. I was going to Les Saintes, the islands below Guadeloupe, where I should have been able to get wifi with my card, but it seemed only a little bit further to Portsmouth, Dominica and that would make the next leg easier. What looks like only a short distance actually takes hours at 4 knots. I got to Portsmouth at 8pm. The quarter moon was hidden behind clouds, so I put all the lights on; navigation, steaming, mooring and deck light, but it still didn t exactly light up the place. I really only wanted to anchor on the edge, but a boat boy came out to help me anchor, he had a very dim torch and I hoped he could see the anchored boats that were showing no lights. It took a few attempts, but we were in. 52 miles.
11 February, Sunday
4 am I was off to Martinique, last time this took 22 hours, but I am hoping to get to St Pierre just before dark, rather than try for where I am actually aiming for. I motored until 7 and then motor sailed until 9. It was calm and so I decided to re-do the netting on the port side of the boat. There were two joins and I wanted to position those at the stanchions, just to hide them really, but it should make the joins stronger. The squall hit just before the end of the island and some serious reefing had to take place. Because I had the sails out I could not hug the island and go round the bottom and even so I would have been motoring into wind and current. I had 18-20 knots all day, sometime more, very rarely less. The boat was as close as it could go to the wind, but the current was taking me westwards. I tried motoring into it, but that was a wasted half hour. It would not have been important if it were not for the anchoring. The wind did come round and my course proved to be fine, but I had not stopped at St Pierre on the way down and did not know it. It looked a big enough bay from the chart, but there were lots of wrecks marked on the chart, dotted around the anchorage, which was worrying. 5pm I was in the shelter of the island and could motor straight for the bay. If there were no boats anchored, or it looked too dodgy I would continue to the anchorage after Fort de France, that I knew from the previous visit and would be ok in the dark, but it was 3 to 4 hours further. It was a race and I lost, the sun went down before I got to the anchorage, but I had seen the boats anchored and there were lots of them. It was a town anchorage and so there were streetlights to show up the boats. The closest space I could find was 17 metres deep, so I picked my spot carefully and put out 50 metres of chain and thankfully it held.
12 February 2007, Monday
6am start, not quite light. I used the radar to get out of the bay. I had enough visibility, but wanted to check what the radar showed me. It was raining and I could see that on the radar. I could identify the land and all the boats around me. When I changed to maximum detail I could see the lobster pot markers, which was very good as they were only plastic bottles. There was another bigger blob on the display that was not obvious until the dolphin surfaced again, now that is impressive.
It was 8am before I checked what the wind was, 13 knots at a gentle 90 degrees, I should put the sails out and then I can tidy up the rest of this netting before I arrive. By the time I had the sails out it was 18 to 20 knots, again; the netting will have to wait, again. Great until 10 am when I turned the corner, 10 miles dead into 20+, gusting up to 32knots. I should have tacked, but I did not want to have to deal with the sails, so I motored. I did put the genoa out a with 3 reefs in, but it just took me fast off course. It took 4 hours to arrive at the anchorage. Jim and I were texting and then on the radio. The handheld radio was flat and so I decided to use it plugged into the charger, the problem was that the cable was cable tied in two places and I accidentally cut the wire when taking them off in a hurry. It may be ok, it was only a couple of strands, I will try taping it when I have a moment. This meant that I had to keep running down to talk to Jim on the main radio. I tried to tell him that I was anchoring, but could hear him trying to raise me. Very frustrating. He had seen me coming in and thought I should have had time to anchor. The channel is very scary first time, with serious shallows. I needed a big space as the wind was blowing me backwards at 20+ knots while I was running up the front and putting the anchor down. Luckily the anchor held first attempt and I am ok, if at the back of the pack. I can move later, I just wanted to get held and stop. I have had a tiring 4 days, good job I did not try to do this without a sleep last night.
2.45 and I was able to tell Jim I would be in within the hour. I had to put the dinghy down and get the outboard on and have a shower and put on clean clothes. I am not sure the shower and clean clothes lasted that long by the time I had been splashed and sat in water all the way to the marina, but I tried and it must have been better than the pyjamas with T shirt I had been wearing all day.
The outboard worked and, although I am still very wary of it, got me to the marina, which I could not have rowed into against this wind. I had a cup of tea and a biscuit with Jim and then we went ashore to the internet – you can take your laptop if you are on a pontoon, I still will not risk it in the dinghy.
I came nearly 200 miles against wind and rain and swell because I thought he was stuck here. It is the same as in Pointe a Pitre, with nose to pontoon and a buoy way back on a long rope. He could ask the marina to pull him out backwards, but has had a bad experience with them. I will go in and help him get out, probably early Wednesday. I will have to go in for Customs tomorrow, but not at 7 in the morning, after that the wind picks up and doesn t seem to drop. I changed the head on the generator from water to wind and the plus side is that the batteries are fully charged, which never happened in Antigua.
I will stay here for a bit, Eric and family are supposed to be coming back soon, it is amazingly good to meet up with people again.