Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hopping North

A very enjoyable afternoon and evening with our land-based friends Sally and Tom, concluded our stay in Bequia in the beginning of the New Year. About an hour before we left the harbor, a big oil slick traveled through our area, staining Irie’s (and others) hull, all four sides of it, leaving a blackish mess behind. It wasn’t even four weeks after we worked so hard to make her bottom clean, pretty and presentable! Now, we have to do it again, in the water and it will take more than soap and a sponge… An experience not in favor of our already mixed feelings about Admiralty Bay.

A short, slow but nice sail brought Irie to new-to-us Keartons Bay in St. Vincent. It is a pretty, quiet and small bay where the boat boys are friendly enough and anchoring - without lines to shore - is possible for a couple of boats. It was pretty rolly, but we needed a better jump off point for our next, long sail to St. Lucia. After motoring our way up the Vincentian coast, we were ready for a great, brisk sail across the channel. As always, the sight of the Pitons was majestic, but no dolphins this time. Once we hit the shores of St. Lucia, we motored for a bit, but then managed to sail the rest of it, adding an hour and 5 miles to the trip because - being set off course - we had to tack back into Rodney Bay, well before dark.

The weather window to go north (less strong winds with an eastern-southeastern component instead of northeastern) lasted a few days, so after a day of shopping, catching up on internet work and a bit of rest, we left early in the morning for Fort-de-France in Martinique, a fast sail five hours away. The main reason for a stop here is a store called Leader Price. This is where cruisers stock their boats with French goodies like cheese, salami, pâté, smoked salmon, snacks and wine at affordable prices…

The following morning was, yet again, a very early one. From the moment we could “see”, which is around 6 am this time of the year, we motored our home out of the bay and raised the sails. Going north along Martinique’s coast was a patient and time consuming endeavor that we had to give up the last 6 miles. We couldn’t afford losing too much time and motored the last bit, before gaining speed again in the channel between Martinique and Dominica. We were trying to cover 65 miles in 12 hours of daylight. An impossible feat totally under sail, because the wind dies along the land. From the moment we approached Dominica’s capital Roseau, it was time to start the engines again. The rest of the way, we were busy adjusting the sails to motor sail or sail in the most efficient way. When the sun set behind the horizon we finished our long day in comfortable and familiar Prince Rupert Bay (Portsmouth). Loud music onshore made for a sleepless night.

By now, our natural clock made the use of an alarm unnecessary to get going early. Taking advantage of the eastern winds, we reached Marie-Galante in Guadeloupe before lunch, setting a new record high speed of 8.8 knots. Sure, we’ve done 10 knots, but that was either because of current or of riding on top of a breaking wave… Choppy, high seas made for a wet and salty ride, but we were happy to finely arrive at a new place. Time for some island exploring, once again!

No comments: