Sunday 20th and Monday 21st Feb
Nothing to do on Sunday really as we were just waiting until Monday morning which is when the Customs point next opened open so we could get our clearance papers to leave Martinique.
As ever there were several jobs that needed doing on board and late in the morning we went ashore and Sarah went on a short walk of exploration around St Pierre whilst I spent an hour in the internet cafe, or what passed as one.
Our nearest neighbours are a Swiss couple who appear to have unlimited energy as they are constantly on the move. Swimming (snorkelling and swimming round the anchorage just for the exercise), rowing (just round the anchorage for the exercise) and when on board they are frequently doing exercises! Quite wore me out just watching.
In the evening several boats arrived quite late including a Canadian couple who spent around one and a half hours trying to anchor. They seemed determined to speed around to different parts of the anchorage, drop the hook and then immediately change their minds and move. They finally settled on a spot, but probably only because it was now pitch dark.
Our attention was also caught by a beautiful little sailing boat that Sarah covets and which we have posted several photos on the site http://www.rhbell.com . In addition a lovely gaff rigged sail training ship came and moored behind us, followed by a larger and scruffier square rigger which had someone waterskiing on a very long line attached to the top of the aft most mast!
But the biggest surprise in a way was the almost total absence of wind all day. This never happens out here and was very eerie and I suppose we should have been grateful that we were delayed from leaving today as we would have ended up making the 55 mile trip to Dominica under engine!
Woke up on Monday morning to find a large yacht “Mirabella 111’ anchored behind us. Up early so as to be first at the Customs point when it opened, so we could clear out of Martinique and get on our way to Dominica. Arrived at the Tourist Office which houses the Customs computer at 8.00am to find that I was third in the queue and the place did not even open until 9.00am. By 9.00 there was quite a crowd of us chatting away in a mixture of languages which all got very confusing for a while. However the good news is that I did get to use the computer third (I was braced for some continental style shoving as the French are not exactly renowned for their queuing skills) and we were off on our way before 10.00am.
We were blessed today with a return to the usual wind pattern and so a healthy 20 knot wind hurried us out of the bay and out into the open Atlantic again for the 26 mile passage between Martinique and Dominica. Here the wind continued to blow at between 15 to 25 knots but we were able to sail on a fine reach and in truth were slightly over canvassed as we managed a constant 7 knots driving through the rising seas, peaking at just under 9 knots with a lot of water over the decks. However as we were passing the northern tip of Martinique, we came across a humpback whale which was pleasant surprise, but sadly the photos were not much good though.
Once we reached the lee of the quite mountainous island of Dominica, the wind pattern changed dramatically we were treated to massive squalls (from almost every point of the compass), dead calms and endless rainbows as we continued our 56 mile sail to Prince Rupert Bay in the north west of the island and the anchorage off the town of Portsmouth. We were joined briefly by some dolphins along the way but no more whales today!
Finally as we reached Prince Rupert Bay, the wind began to rise sharply and was blowing a healthy 30 knots out of the bay as we made our preparations to anchor. We were met by one of the local ‘boat boys’ who are basically licensed guides and individually take a visiting boat and crew under their wings and provide various chargeable services. Alexis suggested we anchored further over to the left hand side of the bay and so we picked a spot and dropped the hook. It failed to set and was dragging along the sea bed, when it suddenly took a hold and stopped us dead in our tracks. This is both good and possibly bad news as we do seem secure for the night, which is important because it is blowing very hard still, but we do sort of wonder what caught hold of the anchor so suddenly. We may have hooked the reef or a rock in which case getting the anchor back up tomorrow might be very interesting!