|The Black Pearl?|
I guess you figured out we escaped from Wallilaboo, SVG with no ill effects. We were glad to hear that the perpetrators of that horrendous attack are in custody. There’s a wonderful site for cruisers called SSCN (Safety and Security Cruisers Net) which keeps us up to date on Safety issues affecting the cruising community throughout the Caribbean. We’re glad to note that the Net has been quiet since the attack in Walilaboo.
|Pitons in St Lucia|
Rodney Bay is huge with good holding, a wonderful white sand beach and a fort overlooking the Caribbean. From the bay a canal leads to an inner harbor and the world class Rodney Bay Marina. As you can imagine, for a marina that is home to the ARC, it includes a boatyard, shops, watering holes and restaurants, all the amenities a waterlogged sailor and crew could want. But we are not only on a schedule but also on a budget so we didn’t stop in the marina but went on to the small landlocked lagoon to pick up a mooring. Here we were snug and secure as the wind howled and the surf roared from the swells rushing in. Our 1 night stay turned to 5 as the wind just wouldn’t let up. A little boring, yes, but we got on with the boat chores we’d hurried through in order to leave Granada.Things like super thorough cleaning of the bilge, and the entire galley, even the nooks and crannies. Then I went on to give Wahoo’s beautiful teak cabinets a waxing while Roy changed hose clamps and did general manly stuff to the engine. We both attacked the stainless steal on the outside of Wahoo which was looking so grungy after the lay up in Grenada. Taking advantage of the wonderful array of shops in Rodney Village we filled both the clothes lockers and the food lockers. Sailing duds get to looking pretty worn out and you can’t just hop on down to the mall. I know we need stuff when our good clothes are the ones that "only have holes in the back".
|Anchored at Anse Matin, rain covers the sunset - still beautiful!|
|Quaint, Tragic St Pierre|
Our last stop in Martinique was St Pierre. This is the site of Mt Pelee and a visit here is a reminder of the 28,000 who lost there lives to its eruption on the Easter Sunday in1902. We remembered to clear out (so easy in the French islands) and we were on our way to Dominica.
More than just a 40 mile crossing - this journey across the Dominica Channel means we're leaving the Windward Islands behind. Probably never to return. This season is a journey of endings as we move up through the islands, leaving behind the sights and smells and laughter carrying with us wonderful memories. I try to keep focused on the fact that getting back to Belize lies in our future, but bittersweet thoughts hover.
|Beautiful, Magical Dominica|
|Titus welcomed us back!|
We did a 2 night stop in Rouseu and said hello to SeaCat, Beans and Marcus. This time no Titou Gorge, no Waterfalls and Rasta lunches but we did walk into town and had a curried goat lunch at the Fort Young hotel. We even found some Absinthe in the market (aiming to treat our friends to Sazaracs). While the winds had abated somewhat the swell was still so bad that we ended up tying Wahoo’s stern to SeaCat’s dock to keep her bow pointed into the waves. Of course, this was not without its own problem when it was time to go. We had lifted and stowed the dinghy before we remembered to untie the stern line (think there’s pattern in this forgetting thing?). Thankfully Marcus, who provides security in the Roseau anchorage, came to our rescue. A leisurely sail that we extended in the vain hope of seeing a whale, brought us to, our top of the list favorite place, Portsmouth!.
|Titus checking on "his cruisers"|
Portsmouth is what I think of when I imagine island life. A beautiful bay with a sandy beach, dinghy docks, beach bars and restaurants. Its small, neat though kinda shabby village has a great market and a place where the local fisherman offer their catch. In addition to these perks you’re in Dominica which is lush with palms, ferns and flowering plants everywhere. To top it off you have what no other harbor offers - the service of PAYS (Portsmouth Association of Yacht Security). Organized by the boat boys to bring service and security in an orderly manner to all visiting cruisers. Fun to watch them buzz around the harbor checking on us, offering assistance or just visiting. It's also one of the best sunset watching spots we've visited.
We've seen more green flash sunsets here than anywhere else. No, it's not just the rum! A perfectly clear horizon, a brilliant sun and you're gonna see it. Though "flash" might make you misinterpret. Green dot or green glow is more like it. Just that split second as the sun sinks below the horizon!
You can't see it but the flash was there
All too soon we needed to move on. Trades were going back into the high 20s, seas building to 6ft and more. Soon it would get worse so we wanted to make Iles des Saintes, the islands that are south yet part of Guadeloupe, before that happened. It was a calm crossing of those 20+miles. A beam reach all the way. Most waves below the 4ft mark.
|Sunset so amazing it knocked me flat!|
One of the important lessons we've learned is that the forecasts gives the gradient wind and seas. But the islands create a different climate. As you watch one island disappear and another rise to greet you the tips of the islands create strong currents you must adjust for, plus they make waves more vicious as they cut down on the seconds or period between each wave. Between the two islands you experience both the full force of the trades and often an added increase of wind speed ( as much as by 1/3, which makes 20 knots go to 30, yikes!). This is due to compression as the wind squeezes between the islands. Then just as you think the worst is over and you've reached the leeward side of the next island expecting to experience calm you find that the wind can quickly go from very calm to extremely high as it gets caught up in the mountains then hurtles down to the sea.
(NOTE: Leeward side is the Caribbean side as opposed to the Windward or Atlantic side) This Ventura effect is seen in several harbors that are otherwise wonderful places to stay. Most notably Bequia, Portsmouth and Deshais. Surrounded by hills and mountains these harbors can be even windier than being out at sea. Meaning your ground tackle (anchor and rode) had better be up to holding the boat in place as the wind can easily reach above 40 knots.
|Our anchorage at Terre Den Haut in Iles des Saintes|
A breadfruit tree, a piece of rebar...
Roy & Harvey are determined.
Now here we are a week later in Deshais, Guadeloupe. Our last little French village. We're having baguettes and pain de chocolate delivered each morning. Stocking up on French island specialties like pate, cheeses, wine and rum agricole. Watching episodes of the BBCs "Death in Paradise" as it was filmed right here!.
The winds will supposedly "collapse" on Saturday and we'll take that opportunity to sail the 45 NM to Antigua. Perhaps we'll stop spending days and nights rolling about.
We'll be excited to have our Grenada gang of 8 together again and even more so as our wonderful friends Jane and Dave Mitchel, last year on LaDivina, will also be meeting us as they have chartered out of St Martin for a month. We look forward to Classic Week, time with friends and calm quite nights.