Sam & Francois sail South for the hurricane season via Les Saintes, Dominica, Martinique, St Lucia, and Union Island after an aborted Transatlantic crossing plan…..Transat 2012 now scheduled!
Sam & Francois Sail South on their Holidays
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fter preparing for a Transatlantic crossing that never happened, it was a reluctant crew that headed South out of St Martin for Grenada once more. Not that there’s anything wrong with Grenada, you understand, it’s just not quite the Costa del Sol or the Cote d’Azur! Ah well, there’s always next year….or maybe I hear the Pacific beckoning….Easter Island, Galapagos, the Cook Islands, Australia, Papua New Guinea…..?
We left St Martin and set off for St Barth’s for an overnight stop, but with a favourable wind and not much swell we carried on overnight for Guadeloupe. By morning the wind was dying away and we motored into Anse a la Barque in blazing sunshine, dodging the fishing boats circling the fish attraction devices and trying a once round ourselves! It’s common practice to construct a mesh of sticks etc and submerge it to encourage weed growth and attract small fish which then attract the big fish!
After a night’s rest, we headed down the coast for Isles des Saintes, one of my favourite Leeward Island stops. Unfortunately the genoa needed yet another repair so we had to take it off and lug it ashore to the sail repairer…this meant an unscheduled trip to the top of the mast when the top shackle caught on the furling swivel, but it was soon sorted. We wandered round the town and took a taxi up to the fort before putting (bending is the correct nautical term) the sail back on and settling in the quiet anchorage at Pain de Sucre for the night. The next morning we set off for Dominica and dropped anchor around lunchtime. We strolled around the town and bought a few bits of veg in the market and it’s the only time I’ve not been cornered to do a tour by the boat boys!
Bog of Eternal Stench
We continued down to the capital of Roseau the next day and I persuaded Francois to get on a local bus up to the Sulphur Springs and nearby waterfalls. We had a great day exploring the colourful town, visiting the “bog of eternal stench” that is the sulphur springs…..quite disappointing….and going mountaineering to the waterfalls. We clambered over boulders to swim in the fresh water pool and stopped for a great lunch overlooking the valley below.
It was a tough sail out of Dominica the next morning in winds gusting to 42 knots and 3 to 4m swells. We had 2 reefs in the sails and made a good 6 to 7 knots all the way, sailing fairly close to the wind. Another smaller boat, around 38ft, that had come over from Martinique for the weekend left around the same time (06.00) but with no sails up. He struggled to get through the surf and we soon lost sight of him…I think he must have turned back due to the conditions….with 6 people in the cockpit it was going to be a wet ride back!
Francois and I made Fort de France by lunchtime and sailed in accompanied by dolphins circling in a fish hunting exercise; we had a well deserved rest and movie night on board.
The Autopilot had given up sometime during our journey which meant steering….not one of Francois’ favourite occupations, so we headed round to Marin and had our second enforced stop for a couple of days whilst the software in the Raymarine computer was upgraded, and with time running out for Francois to be back to pick up his lobster pots in St Maarten, pushed off again early the next morning for St Lucia.
Rodney Bay Dinghy Thieves
We arrived well after dark into Rodney Bay with some big swells and a strengthening wind around the top of St Lucia. We were glad to make the anchor spot and dinghied in for a much looked forward to Indian meal at Razmataz. Disappointingly it was closed for some reason and we had to go to another, very nice Indian restaurant, but we were tired and looking forward to our bed. We arrived back at the dinghy dock after less than an hour and a half to find that thieves had broken the lock on our outboard and stolen the engine and fuel tank.
I learned the next day that this wasn’t the first dinghy/outboard theft in the area and I lost another day at the Police station so I could get a case reference for the insurance.
Final Leg to Grenada
So that was us, then. No dinghy (well unless we wanted to row it back and forth) for the rest of the trip and although we had a lovely stop at the Pitons on St Lucia for some lunch and snorkelling, we made fast time overnight past St Vincent and on to Chatham Bay on Union Island for a night stop and then to St George’s on Grenada. This was disappointing as we’d hoped to spend a few days sailing in the Tobago Cays; instead I put Ibis alongside in the marina until the insurance money came through….very quickly thankyou Navigators & General! And I put Francois back on a plane for St Maarten.
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