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March 23, 2006

As it is the 23rd of March this log will be updated as the month progresses.

We left the Simpson Bay Lagoon on the 9 th. Our original plan had us sailing from here to Antigua then on to Martinique and St. Lucia. Since the wind was coming somewhat from south of east we opted instead to go to St. Barth’s. We had an opportunity to meet Ditmar Weselin from Romany Life who had come into Simpson Bay for genset repairs. We had a great dinner with Ditmar and his wife Mary Lou at Skipjack which also sells fresh fish, some of the best grouper we have had so far in the islands.

Prior to leaving we topped off our fuel tanks at Island Water World which was the easiest fuel dock to get to in the lagoon.

We arrived in St. Barth’s the afternoon of the 18 th and anchored in Anse Corrosol near Gustavia. Checking in was a breeze. Later that day we saw Guy Jones from Gorgeous Girl who we had met in Annapolis last summer. While there we had dinner at the Strand which was very good but not quite the Dove. We also had lunch with Guy and his friend Sue Ann who manages a villa at Nikki Beach. Dick and Lynn Jachney, owners of Hylas USA, joined us later that afternoon and we had a great talk about Hylas yachts and the cruising lifestyle.

After a week in St. Barth’s we had considered Antigua but again the wind would have been against us so we went to St. Kitts (St. Christopher). We anchored in Basseterre and had to put out a stern anchor to keep our bow into the swell so the boat would not roll so violently. Not the best island in the world for checking in. We were told there was a new marina and you could check in there but that was not the case and we had to dinghy a couple of miles to the commercial dock. There was no place to tie a dinghy except for dilapidated wooden steps that were unsafe to walk on. After tying up we walked through the commercial area to customs which was easy enough but then had to go to the port authority, in the same complex but across the yard, then we had to go downtown to the police station for immigration. All in all pretty much a hassle in all ways. To get to the police station we had to go back to the marina, which is just slips with no amenities and were told to tie up on the back side of a pier that sat next to a stone breakwater. While pulling in there was barely room to maneuver and we ended up hitting submerged rocks with the propeller. While we were gone someone untied our dinghy and tied it to a rock on the breakwater. Apparently you have to pay the marina to tie up your dinghy.

The next day we opted to take a taxi tour of the island which was worth the $60 we paid. Percy the driver gave an excellent presentation of the history and culture of the island. We visited Brimstone Hill which is an old restored fort from the 1700’s and it alone was worth the price of the tour. We thoroughly enjoyed the island although they will not get great marks for being cruiser friendly and the anchorage is definitely rolly and you must use a stern anchor to get some sleep. We saw Charles Drakos, wife and friends at a restaurant at lunch. Charles had come down in the 1500 on his Hylas 46 “Elena”. The Caribbean is becoming a small world as it seems that each place we go we run into someone from the 1500 or that we had met in Annapolis.

Being in St. Kitts it was becoming obvious that Antigua is not going to be on the itinerary on the way down island so we set off after three days to Montserrat. Were you going to go when the volcano blows? By some error on my part we sailed most of the day towards a bay you cannot go to because it is in the volcano exclusion zone. Fortunately Sue caught my mistake before we got all the way there.

We pulled into Little Bay late in the afternoon and were looking forward to a St. Patrick’s celebration only to find that it is a holiday and you could not check in without paying overtime fees so we spent the first night on the boat. The anchorage is small and you have to leave room for the cargo ships that come in. We felt we had placed the boat correctly and in the morning we saw the harbor people having others move their boats. Alas, he called on us and we had to move the boat about 100’ further west.

At this point we had considered just spending the day on the boat and leave early the next morning but I felt we had come so far we should try to see the damage from the volcano. So, we checked in which was not difficult but again no dinghy docks perse and you had to tie up to the commercial dock. On the surface this sounds easy until you find the dock is eight feet above the water and the surge is raising and lowering your dinghy about three feet every few seconds. Anyway we tied up okay, paid $35 in overtime fees to check in and $25 for the port authority. Since we opted to check out at the same time we avoided going to immigration which I am certain would have been another fee.

We took a cab with George Christian, very nice man, and toured the devastation of the southern end of the island. While walking through an area that had be burnt by hot ash I realized that should the new dome decide to erupt at that point we would be toast, literally. The photos will show a little of the loss this island has suffered. It is a beautiful island that will not recover from this in our lifetime.

The last evening on Montserrat the swell had build considerably in Little Bay so we picked up our anchor around 1730 and looked for something farther from the beach and the wrecked barge. The swell was breaking just in front of the boat and our anchor was beyond the break. I had sat and watched this for about an hour and then began to imagine how we could retrieve our anchor without surfing onto the beach or the barge. We drove around for about an hour and a half and dropped the anchor in three different places before we moved next door to Rendezvous Bay. It was a nice quite, dark night and we arose at 0600 on the 19 th preparing to go to Anse La Barque on Guadeloupe. As we were leaving the island we had to circumvent the exclusion zone, basically three miles offshore. At around 0930 and about five miles from the island the volcano erupted. See the Montserrat page for pictures.

We sailed that day to Anse La Barque on Guadeloupe. This is a very small hole in the wall anchorage you do not easily see from outside. We had anchored here on a previous trip downisland on Lazy Bones in August 2004 so we felt it was a good spot to spend the night. Our thoughts had been to hop down the chain quickly and visit these islands on the return leg. The anchorage was very quiet and not much roll, we had a good nights rest.

The next morning we set sail for Dominica. Our first option was to spend the next night in Prince Rupert sound and to go further south if we made good time. The wind was good, almost too much, as we sailed under a reefed main, genoa and staysail, going about 7.5 knots most of the day. With the time we were making we picked Roseau as the next anchorage. Guy Jones had told us a story about problems with snotty yachtsmen and the boat boys so we felt if we were approached we would take advantage of the boat boys service. As we approached the anchorage a bright yellow boat came up with a smiling gentleman named Brian. In the Doyles cruising guide Brian is mentioned with the nickname of Roots. We had wondered about that until we got a look at Brians short dreads and it became obvious. Sea Cat had installed mooring balls in front of their house and we took up Brians offer to use one of those. The roll was expected to be bad but the winds and sea had calmed by evening and we had a very peaceful night.

The next day we set sail for Le Marin in Martinique. The weather forecast had called for 20 to 25 knots of wind which I expected to be more like 30, which it was. We had picked a course to take us pretty far offshore from Martinique in hopes to avoid the lack of wind in the lee of the island. This worked pretty good until we got to just off of St. Pierre and we were becalmed. Furling the sails, we fired up the engine expecting to have a 30 mile motor to Marin. About an hour later the wind began howling again however the direction was right on our nose. We motorsailed like this until we passed Diamond Rock south of Fort de France and finally pulled it in and headed into the bay at Le Marin. Long day, big wind, but we had made it before dark, wound our way through the opening and found a quiet spot to spend the night. As we had been traveling almost daily for a week we had decided to spend at least two nights in Le Marin.

The next morning we went to customs to check in, they are only open from 0700 to 1230, and found it quickly. If islands want the yacht people to visit they need to adopt the standards the French have for checking in. I filled out the paper, no questions were asked, not even when we would be leaving, the passports were stamped, no fees were required. Absolutely the easiest check in I have ever done.

Our plan is to leave for Rodney Bay tomorrow morning and spend at least a couple of weeks in St. Lucia before heading back to the Virgins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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