April 13th 2010, 4 nights out from Rodney Bay

Slipstream Web Diary
Bill Cuthbert
Wed 14 Apr 2010 01:09
We are having a good time of it.
Four Flights for the Price of Two
Virgin VS035 was barely half full when we took off from Gatwick on Friday 9th Apri;. Things were looking good as Nic stretched out over 4 seats and tried for a quiet snooze. We landed in Barbados - yes Barbados - which was a scheduled stop which they forget tp tll you about when you bok the flight! Alas, in Barbaods the cargo doors would not open and we sat on the tarmac for 2 hours whilst time ticked away for our transfer from Anitgua to St Lucia - a route necessary to pick up Slipstream and start the route north to St Thomas USVI.
US$20 later, via a special handshake, and we were miraculously booked for St Lucia that evening but...via Barbados. So we flew Gatwick-Barbados, Barbados-Antigua, Antigua-Barbados, Barbados-St Lucia all on one day. Much plane changing and a few beers between flights enabled us to see much of Lee Westwoods' progress on day 2 of the Masters. We all had very full passports after three trips through customs.
Rodney Bay was were we had left it in January. So was Slipstream. Her bottom was scrubbed and topsides groomed by "Shervon" - our boat boy. After a g
reat nights sleep after 23 hours on the road, we got the dails on, filled the fridge up, cleared Customs & Immigration and left the Bay at around 1300 bound for Marigot Bay. The short 2 hour run south was rendered very exciting by a two hour squall. Stair rods does'nt cover it. The rain was really quite wet. Billy barfed brutally in the ensuing swells.
Once in Marigot Bay Marina we sterned-to next to an Oyster 62 (better than Penthouse) and made a run for the swimming pool and bar. We enjoyed the highlights of Day 3 of the Masters whilst George (henceforth to be known as Archegynical) had her first real Caribbean Pina Colada.
Next morning, at 06.00, Nic and Bill made a quick getaway and we had a lovely sail north....to Rodney Bay to try to get a spare gizmo for our starboard main winch which was behaving badly. No luck, Sunday trading laws are not flouted in St Lucia.
We headed north again around 10.00 a.m. and had a great roaring beam reach at 8 knts average towards Martinique. We made a landfall around 3.00 p.m. and had our first well earned dip in the Caribbean. After a cocktail ashore priced as if served in the Ritz in Mayfair but in fact was in a scruffy French bistro in a derilict marina, we repared back to Slipstream for a supper aboard. We saved the mooring fee on the buoy because the owner's cafe had been destroyed by a cyclone a year ago - the mooring buoys were the only relics of his passing. EUR10 saved!
We, the over-fifties, again made a quick getaway and sailed off the mooring at 6.00 a.m. and had a magical crossing of the Fort de France bay in Martinique. Genny only, with George at the helm, we glided over at 2-3 knots without waking the young ones. French patisserie ashore was as good as Paris. The ladies were prettier.
We left the anchorage under the walls of Fort Louis in Fort de France and had a flat calm run up-island to our overnight anchorage at St Pierre. This pretty see-side town at the north end of the island was graced by Slipstream's presence from noon onwards and we made a great afternoon's sport wreck hunting with snorkels. Bill and George made use of the warm water by swimming about 1km with a shadowing dinghy beside. Billy and Henry made use of the warm water by performing and act which, to my dying day, I will consider impossible. A syncronised underwater movement whilst treading water. Two such fellows to be precise. I did'nt think the heads were that bad? Anyway, Richard Baines has been well and truly gazumped.
We had a great local meal in the restaurant overlooking our anchored yacht. No English spoken here, payment in Euros - this really is France.
Nic and I, once again in the rain, started things off at 5.45 next morning and we covered the first 10 miles to tha head of Martinique very smartly. Alas, as we hit the swells of the Dominica Passage between the islands the wind died and we had an uncomfortable crossing. One puke from Billster and Henry retired hurt down below. After 3/4 hours the wind picked up and we roared on with full rig and a more steady motion. Scopoderms patches were applied to Billy and seemed to work. Hen remained below. George read about 100 pages of her book and di some Neurology. We all got the spare spinnaker to fly.
Our chosen night spot was Portsmouth on Prince Rupert's Bay right on the northern tip of the island. Unbelievably idyllic and a great sunset after 9 hours of hard graft sailing. 500cl of "fat" coke revived Henry who then splashed around with Billy for an hour before Salade du Canard follwed by Thai Green Curry - it was getting dark so the colour is that suggested by the tin. All tasted good. We declined to clear in stayed onboard. It all looked wonderful from the cockpit.
Breakages: so many! A wonky starboard main winch, challenges with the primary oil filter, broken swimming ladder, minor issues with unwanted guests in the flour (AGAIN but more so) but....the blog maker works!
Off to Isles des Saintes tomorrow early for another low mileage day.