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Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou.
Ashore at 9:45 to check out with Customs and Immigration. Had to pay EC$20 departure fee, and bring my cruising permit up to date (4 months, total of EC$300).
Ran into the fuel-dock guy, told him last chance to buy my boat, and he said "If I had the money, we'd both be smiling and you'd be looking for an airline ticket". Oh, well.
Back to boat, hoist and stow dinghy, get everything ready to go. Engine start around 10:30, anchor up at 10:30. Motored a little to near ferry dock, rounded up and unfurled mainsail, motor-sailed out.
Around W tip of island, and smack into teeth of wind and current. I'm heading NE today, and wind is from the ENE or so, and stronger than I expected. A slog.
Making decent progress, heading up toward N tip of Carriacou, when at 11:50 suddenly the engine races slightly and the boat stops making forward progress. I idle the engine and run below. Nothing wrong with oil leak or water pump. Put the engine in gear, prop shaft is turning, but no forward motion. I assume the worst: prop has fallen off or the key has sheared off.
I start sailing toward Hillsboro, only a couple of miles away, and I can get there. Soon I wonder if I just snared a fish-trap on the prop, and try some reverse and forward, back and forth. But no go. I'm fearing the worst, thinking I might be stuck here for weeks, maybe I can get a tow around the island and back into Tyrrel Bay. Bummer. I'd have to check back into the country. Hillsboro is a lousy anchorage; I've never liked it.
I'm worried that I'll be in a wind-shadow from the hills as I get to the anchorage, and start calling on the radio to see if I can get some help. Would be great if a cruiser anchored there could get in their dinghy and push me the last 300 yards. But the only response is from boats in Clifton, my original destination.
One of those boats calls the Marine Park rangers, and they come over in a skiff. I explain that I want to get into shelter at the NE corner of the anchorage (I'm assuming I might be there for a while, and strong NE weather is coming). They aren't too interested. I put out fenders and docklines in case they need to raft to me, and keep sailing while they hover nearby.
Suddenly I'm heading for a shoal. The chart shows it just deep enough for me to pass over, but they insist on towing me away from it. So we scramble to tie together, and soon all is confusion as my sail still is up, they want to tow but don't put their motors in gear, etc. Eventually they start towing me in.
But then we start arguing about where to anchor. Now that I'm in 15-20 feet of water, they want me to go to the bow and put the anchor down. But I'm half a mile from land, in open water, in the general channel used by all the traffic. I keep coaxing them to take me closer and closer to land. I want to get about 100 yards from shore, but eventually I put the anchor down about 300 yards out at 12:50 and they take off, washing their hands of me.
I lower the dinghy, get out the snorkeling gear, and go under the boat. I'm delighted to find that the problem is just a big net wrapped around my prop, making it into a useless ball; I can fix this. I do some chopping and cutting, not so easy with thick poly netting, boat rolling and slewing a fair amount, careful not to get myself tangling in the netting. But eventually I figure out how to unwind it, and get it all off fairly easily. Pic. Back aboard, hoist dinghy, rinse and stow everything, ready to go again by 1:25. But I pause for a bite to eat.
Engine start at 1:40. A hassle to get the anchor up, with the boat rolling and gusty wind making the bow slew back and forth. Anchor up by 1:50 and head NE again.
Rough at the N tip of Carriacou, as usual, and a rough slog across the gap. I think the wind is a little stronger than forecast, at least some of the time.
But the engine keeps going, mainsail gives me some drive and lots of stability, and eventually I get across to Union Island. Into the Clifton anchorage.
Anchor down by 3:35, but I'm too close ahead of "Tinuviel". Raise anchor, while a catamaran that came in behind me is hovering around behind me and making me nervous. Hard work, since I have no anchor windlass, and it's windy and gusty. Finally anchor down again by 3:45 at Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
And now the wind is a bit ESE, and I seem to be close to another boat directly behind me, and the big catamaran "Aral" alongside me is swinging a little differently than I am. Where was this wind direction when I needed it today ? But my anchor is holding solidly, and I get ready to go ashore. Soon the wind is more E, things look better. And once in the dinghy, I see we have plenty of room between us; everything looks closer from on deck on the big boat.
Ashore to the Yacht Club. As soon as I put the netting on the dock, intending to throw it away, a local guy wants it and I give it to him.
Walk to airport, and check-in is more expensive than I expected, because after 4 PM is "overtime". I pay EC$81.25 to Customs and EC$35 to Immigration, total of about US$43. When I was here last year, it cost me only EC$35 total. "Tinuviel" says they paid EC$75 to check in a week ago.
Back to the Yacht Club, use the book-exchange, back into the dinghy. Out into the anchorage, and I stop at "Tinuviel" to chat for a while. Back to my boat around 5. As I'm unloading the dinghy, a cruiser stops by and says I left some clearance papers at the airport, here they are ! A lifesaver ! My brain must not be working very well.
Leftover chicken-onion-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
Wind blew fairly hard all night, probably E 18 knots or so. As much wind-generator power as I wanted. Anchor held fine. Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Wind blowing harder, probably 18-20 knots, with a slight bit of N in it. Now I'm lying better, as expected when I put the anchor down, no longer a boat directly behind me.
Did some work on a "Magnolia is for sale" section.
Got a teeny burst of Wi-Fi, just enough to upload my log file. Couldn't get any web pages to load.
Wind a little lighter than expected in the afternoon, but picked up in the evening.
Salad and spaghetti and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner. Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
A little headachey; took a paracetamol.
Still getting VHF radio net from Grenada, and also one from Erica's here in Clifton. Seas are running 7-10 feet in open water, winds around 20 knots, and on Saturday there will be some 25-knot wind.
Went ashore in early afternoon. Disposed of two bags of garbage. At some point, wind blew hard enough to break off a table-roof: pic.
Walked down waterfront, through town, up hill to hospital to take usual picture of the anchorage: pic. Nice to get some exercise and be off the boat.
Back into town, stopped at half a dozen stores and a fruit/veg stand, bought groceries. Went for my usual rum, 70% alcohol by volume, but they had some that was 84.5% by volume. Rough, wet ride back out to the boat.
Got a little Wi-Fi. Was able to get a few web pages. Strangely, WindGuru weather for this area says seas are in 6-foot range with wind gusting to 20 knots, and seas won't go over 6-7 feet even when wind is 20-25 knots. Not sure I believe that. Probably can get out of here on Tuesday.
Salad and leftover spaghetti and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner. Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Strong wind as a front/squall came through at 9:15. But the rest of the day wasn't any stronger than yesterday. 17-18 in the morning, maybe 19-20 in later afternoon.
Salad and leftover chili and a rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Around 7:15, suddenly wind blasting 25 knots or so, and then suddenly one of my sails is flogging. I run onto deck to find that the top of the jib has come unfurled. I rush to loose the wire halyard on the winch, and start bringing the sail down. The open part is catching a lot of wind; have to be careful it doesn't lift me off my feet and throw me. I get it mostly under control, 2/3 down. lashing it with free end of the main furling line.
Then Neil from the neighboring big charter catamaran arrives in a big dinghy, and I accept his offer to come aboard and help. He holds the sail, I grab some more line out of the cockpit, then I loosen more halyard while he pulls the head of the sail down the forestay to the bow. I lash up the whole length of the sail, I thank him and we chat for a moment, then he heads back to his boat. I get another line and lash the sail down some more. By 7:30, the wind is easing back down to 18-19 or so.
Another blow after 8, and another around 9. Kept going that way all night, every hour or less. I was very anxious through the first couple, standing in the companionway, watching the three boats near me, ready to start the engine. But the anchor seemed to be holding fine, and you can't stay anxious all night. Went to bed, and only got up occasionally.
In the middle of the night, my eyeglass frames came apart. Moved the lenses to a new set of frames. Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Grey, windy morning, blowing steady 20+ knots. Anchor held fine all night.
Strong front/squall came through just before 8. Lots of rain and wind. Another one at 9:50.
Went ashore at 2 to play dominoes with Flemming and Hella from "Tinuviel". Barracuda's bar said we couldn't play there ! We ended up in the Clifton Beach Hotel, had a nice game. Saw an enormous sloop come down from the north, turn in front of the harbor, then anchor off Palm Island: pic. Did some Wi-Fi during and after the game.
Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.
Wind starting to ease a bit; probably 18-20 knots. Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Still a little too windy and rough to leave today. And cruiser's net says no easing tomorrow; WindGuru says conditions will be lighter tomorrow.
Reasonably strong squall at 7:35.
Wind getting lighter starting at 10 or so, but picked up again in late afternoon.
Went ashore in midafternoon. Exchanged several books at Erica's. Walked up to the top of Fort Hill, looking down over the airport and the anchorage; great views in all directions. Pics.
Back down to town. Stopped in half a dozen places and bought groceries. Noticed the clock in one grocery store: pic. Big excitement at the ferry dock as a ferry came in and picked up a couple dozen schoolkids, as well as other traffic.
Wind getting stronger in the early evening, and mostly NE, not much ENE. Not good.
Chicken-onion-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Big sloop came in well after dark and anchored. Fortunately they weren't near me.
I'm hoping to leave here tomorrow morning, but the wind blew a bit strongly all night, probably 18-19 knots. Doesn't bode well for leaving. Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Grey, windy morning with lots of waves on the horizon. I'm not going anywhere today. Might be stuck here for a couple more weeks.
Got a bit of Wi-Fi. WindGuru is just flat-out wrong about today's weather here: says it's 11-12 knots of wind, while we're getting more like 17-18 right now.
Weather calming down around 10:30, but I think I'm going to stay anyway.
In late afternoon, gave myself a haircut and a shave, then went snorkeling under the boat. Scraped hull and prop. Was wondering why the prop looked different than usual, when I realized that the prop-shaft zinc is gone ! It was old, and I guess the net tore it off. I'll have to put on a new one; I have a spare aboard. Last time I did that myself, it worked loose and fell off in a month or two, and I had to get someone else to put on another. Maybe I'll do better this time.
Wind picking up, getting stronger.
Sailboat came in: pic.
Salad and hotdog-onion-cornbread-cheese and a rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Big front came through around 7, and wind blew quite hard for several hours afterward, probably 23-25 knots. Blew fairly hard all night too. Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Ashore at 2 to play dominoes, through fairly strong wind. On the way in, I had to dodge two boats leaving, a swimmer snorkeling his anchor, a local skiff, and then I circled back when someone's dinghy drifted loose (but a skiff corralled it).
Nice game with Flemming and Hella, but my luck was strong, and I won again. At one point, we watched as a big ferry/freighter did some strange docking gyrations at the ferry dock, and a charter boat came in for a downwind landing at another dock. At first both situations looked like problems, but eventually they both got settled okay.
Did Wi-Fi. Skyped with Dora in Spain; nice.
Very rough and wet dinghy-ride back out to the boat; wind really strong.
Salad and leftover chicken-onion-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Very strong wind all night. Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Wind still very strong.
Around 11:30, a shiny big sloop (with a bow-thruster) came in and anchored just off my port aft quarter, a little too close. Not really a problem unless my anchor drags, in which case there would be no time to handle the situation before a collision. But my anchor is very solid, it's been solid for a week. But the sloop sails around at anchor quite a bit, often ending up practically in a "T" close off my stern; very disconcerting. Looks like an expensive charter boat.
Salad and hotdog-onion-cheese-omelet-sandwiches and a rum-and-Coke for dinner. Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Wind still very strong. It eased a little around 5 AM, but then a strong front came through at 5:45, and the wind started blasting again.
Big sloop close off my port aft quarter left around 10:15. Less than 5 minutes later, a captained charter boat came in and anchored off my port forward quarter, not too close.
Just after noon, mounting on one of my boat-hooks failed, and it fell in the water. I managed to run around and grab the other hook and fetch the first one out before it could float away.
In midafternoon, went ashore. Disposed of a bag of garbage. Walked through town and then up a hill to the "Donalson" neighborhood, just for exercise. Back down into town, bought a fair amount of groceries, back out to the boat.
Before 4, wind easing quite nicely, down to 10-15 range. But at 4:15 it came blasting back again, and blew hard all evening and night.
Salad and chili and a rum-and-Coke for dinner. Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Wind still very strong.
Got a small bit of Wi-Fi, first in a couple of days.
Gave myself a bit more of a haircut.
Salad and leftover sausage-cornbread and a rum-and-Coke for dinner. Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Wind not so strong; seas still look fairly big. Weather forecast on VHF says wind picking up again tomorrow.
Around 11, "Tinuviel" called to say they're leaving for Mayreau, so no dominoes today.
Mild wind today; maybe should have gone to Canouan today. Changing my mind back and forth.
Saw a big sailing ship passing off Carriacou, heading N or NW: pic.
Went ashore around 1, to do Wi-Fi. Town pretty quiet, anchorage fairly empty, dinghy docks fairly empty.
Wind picking up a bit around 6, blowing pretty hard again by 8 or so.
Salad and hotdog-onion-cheese sandwiches and a rum-and-Coke for dinner. Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Forecast on local VHF radio said it's going to blow 20-25 knots all week. Sure enough, by 8 it was blowing 25 or so. Yesterday, WindGuru was saying there will be a lower-wind day on Thursday or Friday.
Aft water tank just ran dry; I think the forward tank has only about 10 gallons. I'm a little surprised; thought the aft tank had more in it. So I'll have to go ashore and buy water. And I'll have to buy an additional water-jug; I'm down to one 5-gallon jug, because the other started leaking and I threw it away.
Switched water tanks and confirmed that I do have some water. Dumped the 2-3 gallons in the jug on deck into the tank. The water in the rainbuckets is cloudy, not fit for use.
Went ashore around 3, through rough conditions. Used the book-exchange. Disposed of a bag of garbage.
Walked through town, looking to buy a 5-gallon water jug, but none is to be had for love or money. Found two places that had 5-gallon gasoline jugs, and bought one for EC$98 (US$36). Not too bad for such a small town. Is there some reason, other than volume production, that gasoline jugs are slightly cheaper than diesel jugs ? Are the diesel jugs stronger ? Would proper water jugs be even stronger ?
Bought EC$20 of gasoline at EC$16-something per gallon, double what it was Tyrrel Bay. Should have bought gasoline, water and water jug when I was there; was stupid.
Bought groceries and produce and back to the dinghy dock. Had to wait a big rainsquall; lots of lovely water coming through sideways at 20-25 knots; hard to catch. Bought 10 gallons of water at the Yacht Club for EC$10 (US$3.70); not too bad. Rough, wet ride back out to the boat. Dumped the water from jugs into the water tank. My remaining old water jug may have a slow leak in it; not sure.
Salad and leftover chili and a rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Wind blew very hard all night long. Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Wind still very strong. Headache; took a Neobrufen.
Went ashore in midafternoon. Went for a walk down towards Ashton. Got to the "Jerome" neighborhood, sat and talked with some locals for a while, then walked back to Clifton. Bought a couple of grocery items, then another 10 gallons of water (cost EC$11 today, instead of EC$10, for same amount of water into same jugs as yesterday). Wet and rough ride back out to boat. Dumped water from jugs into water tank.
Salad and leftover hotdog-cornbread-etc and a rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Wind really blowing hard this evening, probably in 23-25 knot range. Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Slight headache; took a paracetamol.
Ashore after noon. Did Wi-Fi. Decent weather-window forecast for next Monday and Tuesday. Bought a few groceries. Bought more water; accidentally stopped one jug half a gallon before full, but bill still came to EC$11. Wet and rough ride back out to boat. Dumped water from jugs into water tank.
Salad and tuna sandwiches and a rum-and-Coke for dinner. Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Wind slightly less this morning; supposed to sag quite a bit for a few hours in the middle of the day, according to WindGuru.
In midafternoon, lowered the dinghy and went snorkeling under boat. Lots of grassy stuff growing there; I didn't expect that in such a barren anchorage. Scraped the prop and hull a little, then put on the new propellor shaft zinc. A little tricky: it comes in two halves, with a bolt loose in each half, have to be careful not to drop anything. But got it right on the first shot: dove down and got the first bolt started without letting the second one get free. Dove down again and got the second bolt started. After that, the rest was simple, just tightening. Definitely need a new cutless bearing: the shaft is coming through below-center in the bearing, but it doesn't wiggle much.
Salad and hotdog-onion-cornbread-cheese and a rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Strong wind suddenly started up again at 7:45 or so. Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Grey and very windy morning.
Got a little Wi-Fi.
The day stayed very grey and windy, with frequent light horizontal rain, until midafternoon. Then I went ashore. Disposed of a bag of garbage. To the ATM, since I'm just about out of EC dollar cash, but as expected it won't take my card. I could use my credit card (incurring big fees), and I have plenty of US dollar cash.
Went walking, past the power station and out to the salt pond and beach, up over the hill, back to town. Got a couple of groceries. Wanted water at the dinghy dock, but it's charter-boat change-over time, and they're very busy. Waited more than 20 minutes and gave up.
More N in the wind now, and that has a big catamaran directly behind me, barely a boat-length away. I was here first, and we have no problem unless my anchor drags, but it's an uncomfortable situation. If we get a huge NE squall in the middle of the night, it could be bad.
Salad and chicken-onion-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner. Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Wind easing slightly, and back to ENE or so. But later in the morning it was blowing harder again.
In late afternoon or early evening, wind eased down nicely to 12 knots or so. I started thinking maybe the forecast is a bit wrong, maybe I can leave tomorrow. But of course around 7 the wind blasted in again, and pointed me right at that big catamaran close behind for a while. Then it swung less N, so not so close to that catamaran. Wind blew fairly hard all night, not as hard as earlier in the week.
Salad and chili and a rum-and-Sprite for dinner. Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Big catamaran that was too close behind me left before 9:30; didn't even notice them leave.
Ashore after noon, to do Wi-Fi. Skype-called Dora in Spain, and my Mom in Pennsylvania.
Salad and leftover hotdog-cornbread and a rum-and-Sprite for dinner.
Wind supposed to ease after midnight, but I think it kept going 15-17 knots all night. More than I expected. Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Wind not down quite as much as I hoped, maybe 15-16 knots, but it's not going to get any better than this. Time to go.
Engine start at 6:40. Anchor up by 6:50. Guy on catamaran "Genesis" ahead of me motored out of my way a little because he was swinging almost over my anchor; very nice of him.
Motored out, unfurled mainsail, started motoring up the channel. Ferry went out. Across in front of the reef, over towards Mayreau. Seas not too bad. Engine running fine; I check the water-pump and oil filter mount often.
Passed west of Mayreau around 7:45. Seas rougher off north end of the island, but not too bad. Easy jump up to Canouan. Wind just barely off the nose.
Passed west of Canouan around 9:15 to 9:30. Lots of boats coming out from there, and other anchorages.
Seas quite big off the north end of Canouan, but after 20 minutes or so I got out into lower seas. Long, slow slog up to NNE, with wind just barely off the nose, as usual. Halfway across, seas from several directions, very ugly, but not too big.
Got up to the SW tip of Bequia around 2:15, and the usual current and waves coming off there, and wind just about dead on the nose. Slowly, slowly got around the corner and up toward the harbor. Finally far enough in to get out of the waves, and furled the mainsail at 3:40. Motored in. Anchor down at 4:10, but swinging too close to another boat. Raised it and put it down better at 4:20, at Bequia, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Relieved to be here, calm anchorage, all quiet now that the engine is off. Little wind in here.
Scoping out the next hop north: 50 NM or so to St Lucia. I averaged about 3 knots today, so that's 17+ hours overnight on next hop. Leave at 4 PM, arrive at 9 AM. I could leave tomorrow, but it would be nice to get an extra day of rest here, weather allowing. Don't want to waste too much time; we have a nice weather-window this week.
Leftover cold chili and a rum-and-Sprite for dinner.
Got a solid 6-hour chunk of sleep from 9 to 3 or so; first really solid sleep in a while. With all the wind blowing, and anxiety about getting north, I haven't been sleeping too well. Bequia, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Medium-sized cruise ship in harbor this morning.
Did a small bucket of laundry.
VHF cruiser's net at 8. Weather forecast sounds good for going north for next several days, so I'll leave tomorrow afternoon.
Got a bit of free Wi-Fi. Weather looks good for heading north for next week or more. Wind E to ENE, waves down in 4-5 range.
Went ashore around 10. Did yoga near the dock, to the amusement of many local people. Used book-exchange at marine store, getting a couple of books by authors I like. Disposed of two bags of garbage. Did a walk up into the valley above town, getting a lot of exercise. Pic. Stopped in the stadium to rest and cool off. Down into town. Bought groceries at a fruit/veg stand, and at the main grocery store. Back to dinghy and back to boat around noon.
A bit headachey, and a sore muscle in my neck; took a Neobrufen.
In late afternoon, went snorkeling under the boat. Prop is clean, shaft zinc still on solidly. Cutless bearing really looks bad; should haul out and replace it. I guess I'll have to do that in St Lucia. Which means missing the remainder of this nice weather-window. I guess I'll check it again after arriving in St Lucia, and decide then. Kicking myself for not seeing this and hauling out in Tyrrel Bay while working on the water pump; wasted a lot of time. Or I could have gone back from Clifton to Tyrrel and done it while the wind was blowing hard for 2 weeks.
Salad and hotdog-onion-mushroom-cornbread-cheese and a rum-and-Sprite for dinner. Bequia, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Didn't hear any cruiser's net this morning.
Did some soldering to get a jury-rig working for the bow navigation lights. And there seems to be something intermittent right in the light fixture.
Tried and tried to get some Wi-Fi. Eventually got the WindGuru page; weather good for going tonight, and for the next 7 days or so.
Hmmm, my whole web site seems to be inaccessible. Files still there, I think, but not being supplied to visitors.
Checked engine fluids. Oil down slightly; added some. Fresh/antifreeze coolant down a lot; added a lot of water. I've been checking the level occasionally, but I think maybe the reflection from the metal was fooling me, and it's been low for a while. Another thing to worry about.
Went ashore around 2. Disposed of garbage. Got a couple of books at one small book-exchange. Was heading for another one when some cruisers hailed me. Bill Kale (I think), who has read my site, we met in St Thomas, and now he's cruising on a catamaran. His wife and another couple. We chatted for a while; nice.
To the govt building, and checked out to go to St Lucia.
Back to the boat by 3:05. A little tense and achey; took a paracetamol. Got the boat ready, then engine start at 3:20. Anchor up by 3:30. Motored out, unfurled the mainsail, started heading NE along the coast of Bequia.
Out into the big passage between Bequia and St Vincent, and things are bad. The wind and waves are fairly low but right on the nose, as usual. And after a while I realize there's a stiff west-setting current down this channel, and I'm bucking it. For a long time, I seem to make no progress at all, maybe 1 knot over ground. I slowly edge up to the St Vincent side, and now I can see I am making progress, but it's very slow.
Eventually I realize the mainsail is hurting more than helping, and furl it.
I eat leftover curry-chicken for dinner, and it's not too appetizing. Too much cold slimy onion in it. Not a good idea for this situation.
I slog it out, and it takes me a good four hours to get up that passage and start to turn the corner. Dark by then, and I'm close to St Vincent, trying to get out of the current.
Past Milligan Cay around 9:30. Now I'm going NE, wind still right on the nose, but the swells are more from the E, and the boat is rolling badly. I unfurl the mainsail, and try to keep wind in it so it doesn't luff. It stops the worst of the rolling.
But then at 10:15 there's a big bang and lot of noise, and the mainsail is loose and high in the air and flogging. Somehow both feet of it have come loose from boom and gooseneck, and only the halyard and the furling line and outhaul line are holding it to the boat. The furling line is at the aft end of the boom, not much use. I ease the halyard and try to pull in the outhaul line, while trying to find a helpful heading for the boat. Have to be careful I don't get injured or go overboard. I struggle for 15 minutes or more, the boat gyrating, the sail trying to fly away, before finally getting it mostly down and lashed up.
Managed to avoid having it tear anything off the boat (such as the wind-generator), kept it from dropping into the water and creating enormous forces that way, kept it from smacking hardware into the pilothouse windows and breaking them. Looks like the track for the outhaul block failed again; I fixed that once. The bolt must be undersized. Not sure how the furling drum came loose from the gooseneck. Good news is that I think the sail is undamaged. At first I had assumed the tack had torn off the sail.
But I'm stressed and anxious and coming down from adrenaline, and the boat is rolling badly again. I want to keep going, so I lie down in the cockpit and steer with little nudges, and try to keep the rolling from making me seasick. I have to get up several times to lash down things that are sliding around; the rolling is very violent at times. Wind still right on the nose, so no point in trying to put up the jib.
I have a couple of really depressed hours, bummed at the problem and slow progress and the horrible boat motion. I think about getting to St Lucia and offering the boat for some low amount of cash, take it and run. Or just dumping the boat somewhere for a while, or even hoping a hurricane takes it while I'm gone.
I wonder if I should have gone up the lee side of St Vincent instead of the windward side. The wind was supposed to be E, not NE. And I didn't plan on the mainsail failing. Slogging NE against current in that channel was horrible, but the same is supposed to be true when coming off the lee side at the N end of St Vincent.
But I keep going, and the engine keeps going. Hard to gauge progress; none of the islands and passages down here are square, everything curves, I'm heading mostly NE.
Seas may be low and wind fairly light, as forecast, but nothing is helping me tonight. I have to hand-steer constantly, and the boat motion is terrible at times. Any time I leave the helm for 20 seconds, the boat is off course and slewing around and rolling.
I find that two glass jugs in the refrigerator have bashed together, and one broke.
Rain at 3:30 AM, as I'm nearing north end of St Vincent. Well behind my expected progress.
Shut engine off at 4 AM. A pint of oil has leaked out so far; not bad. I reclaim it and top off the engine with fresh oil. Restart the engine and keep going. All grey ahead of me, nothing to guide my steering, so I sit backwards and steer relative to a bright light on St Vincent.
First light around 5 AM, usable light by 5:30. I fix some problems on deck, re-lashing dinghy and mainsail and jugs and buckets and dock-boxes.
Quick glimpse of two dolphins around 8 AM.
I have a couple of big bruises and other aches; take a Neobrufen.
Partway across passage between St Vincent and St Lucia. My eyes are playing tricks and suggesting land everywhere on the horizon ahead. Finally I get out the Mini-GPS and it says St Lucia is 15+ NM ahead, a little more north and less east than I've been steering.
The conditions keep varying; sometimes rolly, sometimes waves right on the nose slamming the boat to a near-stop, other times flatter or easy to find a quartering line through.
Land ho at 9:10; GPS says it's 13+ NM to the anchorage. But conditions still are opposing me; it's going to take a long time to get there and in.
As usual, the last couple of hours of the trip are interminable: I can see the anchorage, it's right there, why is it taking hours to get there ? But I'm only making 3 knots or less through waves from various directions and wind right on the nose. And there's probably current here, too.
Finally, finally, I pull up to town and anchor down at 2:40 at Vieux Fort, St Lucia. A relief to have the engine off and the boat stable.
Surprised to find almost no other cruising boats here; one cruiser-sailboat far on the other side, and one liveaboard trawler I've seen here before. There was a cruiser murdered here 6-9 months ago, I think, so maybe that explains it. A tug and gravel barge anchored here, too.
Start untying things. Launch the dinghy, lock up the boat, head ashore to the commercial port. To Customs and Immigration, and no hassle, no charges at either one. Nice ! Done and back to the boat.
So, the trip. I'm glad I took the pills before and during; that was a good idea. Maybe going north while there's still north in the wind and waves was a bad idea, but I don't want to wait another 4-6 weeks for the south in the wind to start appearing. Probably should have gone on the leeward side of St Vincent. I kept myself fed and watered pretty well; didn't let myself get dehydrated. Should have put on sunscreen; I got a lot of sun somehow. A trip I hoped would take 17 hours ended up taking 23 hours.
Tied the mainsail down more and turned on the wind-generator. A few funny noises, but seems to work. Later, decided the noises probably came from something else.
Got a tiny bit of Wi-Fi, just enough to upload the log file, and see that my site (at least the home page) is working again.
Salad and leftover hotdog-cornbread and a rum-and-Sprite for dinner.
Slept and slept and slept.
Vieux Fort, St Lucia.
Fairly rolly at times; not the most comfortable anchorage. Maybe that's why it's so empty.
Untangled the mainsail a bit, and it looks like there's a shackle missing that should have been holding the furling drum to the gooseneck. The bottom end of the furling drum doesn't look too solid; probably should get it welded. And at the other end of the boom, the track pulled up and let the car there loose. Pics. Not sure which end failed first; probably the track at the aft end of the boom. Found the set-screw from the furling drum on deck, but I don't see how that could have caused a problem; probably came out as the sail flogged, before the failure.
No Wi-Fi this morning. And now the laptop is playing up, the charge connection not working. A long-standing intermittent problem with no easy solution. Eventually got it going again.
Cruising ketch "Emily Morgan" came in some time in early afternoon, I'm not sure from what direction.
Patched a small worn spot/tear in the mainsail, unrelated to the overall failure.
Got out a new shackle for the drum-to-gooseneck connection, did a temporary tie of the outhaul block to the aft end of the boom, hoisted the mainsail. Took three tries to get the furling line onto the drum correctly. But I think I see a cause of the failure: the hole through the furling drum axis is fairly small, so I had to use a shackle two sizes smaller than I'd like to, to get the shackle pin to fit through the hole. So the shackle is undersized for the job, I think.
Cruising catamaran came in around 4, probably from the SW. But they took their time anchoring, didn't rush ashore to the officials, so maybe they came from the N, already checked in.
Tied a jury-rig lashing of the main outhaul block to the aft end of the boom.
Another catamaran came in sometime in late afternoon.
Checked engine fluids. Coolant is down slightly, not too bad. Added some water.
My left knee is really hurting; must have compressed the tendon just under the kneecap when climbing up onto the pilothouse roof to sort out the main halyard.
Found a sharp, rusty shard of metal on deck; I wonder if it's a remnant of the failed shackle ?
"Emily Morgan" re-anchored twice, then left toward the W and N around 6 PM.
Got ready to hoist the jib and furl it; it's been lying on the deck since Union Island. But the wind picked up a little, and then dark set in, so I didn't do it.
Saw a freighter heading E, and the tug and gravel barge left here and headed S.
Salad and chili and a rum-and-DietCoke for dinner. Hard to cook with the boat rolling heavily every few minutes.
Knee still hurting, and various other aches, so took a Neobrufen.
Four other cruising boats, plus the trawler, here for the night, far down at the S end of the harbor.
Quite rolly all evening, until after midnight, then it calmed down. Vieux Fort, St Lucia.
Engine start at 5:55, anchor up by 6, unfurled mainsail, motor-sailed W.
Lovely mild conditions, not much wind, very overcast for first couple of hours. Wind started out on the beam, eventually came onto the nose as I went clockwise around the island. Just past the Pitons, as I turned NNE, the wind became stronger. Furling the mainsail was a bit tough, with lines sticking at various points, and the outhaul managing to get wrapped around the aft end of the boom. But got it done, and motored on. Wind eased down half an hour later, but still right on the nose.
Lots of boats out today. And I can see Martinique to the NNE.
Past Marigot, past oil depot, past Castries. Just chugging along.
Wind picked up again as I neared the harbor. But finally up and in and anchor down at 12:45 at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
A bit lumpy and rolly here. One network supposedly offers free Wi-Fi, but I think I'm too far away to use it.
Went ashore around 2. Everything still where it was when I was here 4 years ago. To the boatyard, where the office is closed on the weekend, but I did confirm that I can live aboard while the boat is hauled out.
To the shopping area. Found Scotiabank and my ATM card worked. To the supermarket, and it's so nice to be in a proper big supermarket, the first since the south end of Grenada. Lots of nice-looking women, too. Got as many groceries as I can carry. Back to the dinghy-dock, where I found my dinghy had blown around the corner of a fence, and I had to stand in someone else's dinghy to wrestle mine back around. Back out to the boat.
Chicken-onion-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-DietCoke for dinner. Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Totally grey and still morning. Low grey clouds, boats pointing all directions at times, heavy rain at 8:15. Very light wind from W or SW.
A little sun starting around 10:15, and wind starting to get back to E. Sailboats racing in the harbor, at first in almost zero wind, maybe 1-2 knots: pic.
Went ashore around 2 to do Wi-Fi. Found an ice-cream shop with Wi-Fi and an AC outlet, but after I got the computer booted they changed from "yes we have Wi-Fi" to "Wi-Fi isn't working anywhere in the marina today, they've been trying to fix it". Went upstairs looking for a book-exchange, found some people who told me the password for another network. But the password wasn't quite right, or has been changed. Eventually gave up and went back to the boat.
Got out the spare cutless bearing. It has a red dot painted at one end, obviously meaning something. Should the dot go at the forward end or aft end ?
Went snorkeling under the boat. Cutless bearing looks no worse than before, but definitely needs replacement. Shaft can be moved up more than 1/8" or so, and probably there is some metal contact with the prop shaft.
Salad and hotdog-onion-cornbread-cheese and a rum-and-DietCoke for dinner. Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Put a new can of refrigerant on the refrigerator.
Checking my records, seems my last haul-out was 5/2006. Thought it was more recent than that.
Fuel level 12 inches at engine hour 4880. But the engine-hour meter is lying; the alternator output drops to zero if I'm motoring along and the solar panels drive the system voltage high, so the meter doesn't run. That fuel level means about 120 gallons in the tank. Which is enough to get me to St Martin at least, probably St Thomas. But if I go to the fuel dock here to get water, I probably should get some fuel too. Will have to find out prices.
Got some Wi-Fi from the boat; a relief.
Cruiser's net on VHF 68 at 8:30; nice to hear.
Went ashore around 10. To boatyard, where there's bad news: they require me to have insurance before being hauled, and I don't have insurance. Talking to them and looking at the paperwork, they've arranged it so most liabilities are pushed off onto other people. Even placement of the lift straps on the boat is my liability. The office manager is going to consult the top manager and decide if they'll haul me. The yard boss later said maybe I can sign some kind of waiver. They have a slot at 1 PM today, and 8 AM tomorrow.
Over to the marine store to see if they have the right kind of bottom-paint in stock; the yard wasn't sure. The store has 3 gallons of Petit Trinidad 75 Black, and another 3 or 4 of the same in blue, and my boat should take 4 gallons for 2 coats. Back to the boat.
If they won't haul me, how can I jury-rig the worn cutless bearing ? Stuff some hard rubber or Teflon into the bottom of it, from outside ? Maybe.
Refrigerator still isn't running properly; another thing to worry about.
Fruit/veg boat visited nearby cruising boats: pic.
Did Wi-Fi, had lunch, while waiting for any radio call from the boatyard office.
At 1:30, the lift guys at the boatyard called on the VHF and said "you were supposed to be here at 1, where are you ?". I told them the office was deciding if they'd let me in. They went away for 15 minutes, came back, said "come on in". I said it will take me a while to hoist the dinghy, start engine, raise anchor, be there at 2:30.
So I run around and do everything, and get the anchor up and start heading. At the entrance to the channel, another boat is ahead of me, and going very slowly, so I circle around and put some distance between us before heading in. Then get in and up to the lagoon, and call the lift guys on the radio. No response for a minute, and then they tell me to stand by, and I do a loop while eyeing the situation nervously. I have to back in, because the forestay would prevent the lift from getting far enough over the center of my boat. And there's a bit of a crosswind, and it's blowing in the same direction as my prop-walk when in reverse. I have a few fenders out in case of a crash landing.
Soon three competent-looking guys come out, and I get the boat in fairly easily, no bumps, no crashes. The wind is blocked by the high sides of the haul-out slip, and with a bit of futzing with getting lines out and reversing in and such, we get the boat in.
I get off the boat at 2:30 and head for the office. Do the paperwork, no mention of insurance, and back to the lift. They have my boat up out of the water, and even though they put the aftmost sling back a little further than I specified, all is well. They start moving my boat over land, then start pressure-washing it. The lift is controlled by a guy standing nearby with a wireless remote control, not a driver sitting on the lift.
The pressure-washing goes on and on, as I wander around the yard and talk to workers and wait. Of course I forgot and left my camera aboard, so I can't take pictures of my boat in the slings, or anything else in the yard. One of the contractors tries to talk me into using him to polish the hull-sides and such, but I'm not doing any of that. I find the bathroom and showers, which turn out to be fairly nice.
The pressure-washing goes on and on. Finally around 4:30 they're done, and start moving the boat. They set it on blocks, put jacks on the sides, and they're done. I'm up the ladder and aboard by 4:45.
Soon back down the ladder with camera and tools. Took a few pictures of my boat (pics) and the yard (pics).
Yard boss and I went in his car, over to the marine store in the marina. He said they usually use paint called "Hempel" or something, but I want to stay with Petit Trinidad modified epoxy. Updated my registration with the store. Bought four gallons of Petit Trinidad 75 bottom paint, on the yard's account. Got one gallon of blue and three of black because they didn't have four of black; the blue will go on as part of the first coat. Back to the yard.
Soon got the prop off (pics). Yard boss stopped by and noticed something wrong with the rudder shoe, and I found a broken weld on it (pics). So took it off the rudder skeg.
Sounds like the bottom sanding and painting will take about 2 days; that's fast.
Salad and leftover chili and a rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
Down the ladder and to the showers. Not the best shower, but a treat after my usual showering on the stern of the boat.
Down the ladder a couple of times during the night to go pee at the restrooms. Have to be careful to avoid falling off the ladder. If you fall overboard at anchor, you get wet. If you fall overboard in the yard, you break your neck. boatyard at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Very grey morning. Steady hard rain from 8:30 to 9:30 or so. A bit more at 10.
Took the safety collar off the prop shaft. Tried to loosen the stuffing-box nuts on the propellor shaft, but they won't budge, and I don't have good wrenches. Loosened the shaft setscrews up at the forward end.
Some of sanding crew showed up at 10:45. I talked to the yard boss, and he said only light sanding is included in the standard sand-and-paint deal, and I need power-sanding. I agreed to pay extra, maybe US$150, for that.
Told him about the stuffing-box nuts, and he says I want a chain-wrench, which should be cheap to buy. Went to the welding shop, but the guy is busy. More rain at 11.
Went across the street to Johnson's Hardware. But they only have the large model of chain-wrench, EC$192 (about US$71), not the cheaper model. To the marine store in the marina, and they have no wrenches of any kind that would work on stuffing-boxes; surprising. Back to the boatyard.
To the welding/machine shop. Gave the rudder shoe to the guy; he says EC$90 (about US$33) to weld it. He'll come to my boat later to see what needs to be done for the shaft, and quote me a price for that.
More light rain, off and on, and weather staying mostly grey. Depressing. But at least I can throw money at the boat to get problems fixed.
Got a little bit of free Wi-Fi; that made me feel better.
Realized I haven't tried any penetrating oil on the stuffing-box nuts, so applied that.
At 1:30, someone started power-sanding my hull.
Took another shot at the stuffing-box nuts, and got them free ! It took a little judicious pounding with a small sledgehammer. And I'm sure the penetrating oil helped.
About 2 minutes later, there's the guy from the shop at the top of my ladder, asking what we need to do. I tell him we should be able to take the shaft out now to do the cutless bearing, and he says we should be able to do it without pulling out the shaft. By the time I get dressed and down to ground, he has the set-screws out and the old cutless bearing slid out a bit; he put a big pipe-wrench on it. (Last time we put one in, we left half an inch hanging out for exactly this reason: you can put a wrench on it to get it out.) He took off the zinc, got the bearing out the rest of the way, and cleaned up the set-screw holes a bit. I put a bit of grease on the outside of the new bearing, to make it easy to get out next time, and he was able to slowly pound it home (last time, we refrigerated the new bearing overnight to help get it in). Put the set-screws back in, put the zinc back on, he's done.
To his shop to get the rudder shoe he welded, and paid EC$200 (US$74) for the two jobs combined; not too bad. He says the metal on the shoe isn't so good, he had a little trouble doing the weld. I've heard that every time I take something from this boat to a welding shop: the stern ladder, the steering wheel, now this shoe.
The old cutless bearing doesn't look as extremely worn as I expected. I'll keep it as a spare in case of emergency; it could go in upside-down next time. Sure, it well needed replacement. But I don't think there was any metal-to-metal contact as I feared. The guy showed me that the prop shaft was worn where it contacts the bearing, but I think that's just because it's (probably) a 42-year-old shaft with lots of mileage on it. And I think barnacles have built up in there from time to time as the boat sat unused for months and months.
Later, I showed the bearing to the yard boss. He said it was extremely worn, and also showed that the rear end of my engine should come down slightly: on the bottom, where all the wear is, the outer end of the bearing is more worn than the inner end.
Sunshine starting around 2:15 ! Nice.
I put the set-screws back into the forward end of the shaft, at the coupling to transmission. Fortunately I didn't get that end loose, so the screws went right back in without any alignment hassle.
Put the propellor back onto the shaft. It's a bit loose; I noticed that a month ago. As far as I can tell now, the key is fine, it fits tightly into the slot on the shaft. I think the slot in the propellor has become slightly enlarged. The propellor is pretty old and tired; a new one would be nice.
I started working on putting the rudder shoe back on, and had some problem getting the through-bolt aligned and through. Just as I got it right, the yard boss came by and pointed out that his guys had started power-sanding my bottom again, and I was breathing the dust from it. So I stopped and washed up and went aboard.
They've hauled two more boats today; watched one of them go past: pic.
Achey and headachey; took a paracetamol-plus.
Showered, and did a few pieces of laundry in the restroom sink.
Salad and hotdog-onion-cheese-egg-bread and a rum-and-DietCoke for dinner. Not sure I'm allowed to cook on board, but I need to use up some food before it spoils; the refrigerator seems to be not working at all. boatyard at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Somewhat grey morning, but no rain.
Did a little more work on the rudder shoe.
Looks like the hull-sanding is about half done. Talked to the yard boss. They've sanded down to the gelcoat in some places, so need to apply primer there before applying bottom-paint. But they should be able to apply first coat of paint this afternoon.
I looked at the hull. I don't see any resin weeping from pinhole-blisters, as I saw in previous haul-outs.
Grey and raining by 9:30. Fairly heavy rain, stopping the hull work, but by 10 or so it was clear and a bit sunny, and work resumed.
At noon, looks like the sanding is done but the priming hasn't been started.
Adjusted the rear engine mounts. Put the stuffing-box nuts back together.
Nothing happening under the boat from noon to 1:30. Went to ask, and I think the boss is over at the marine store buying the primer.
Checked at the fuel dock. Diesel EC$9.96/gallon (about US$3.70), but you have to be cleared out to get that price. Water EC$0.40/gallon (sounds too low, maybe that's US$0.40, but I specifically asked if it was EC$).
Before 2, the boss was back and primer was going on.
Finished adjusting and screwing down the rudder shoe. I added a wooden shim at the forward end to make the shoe mate more solidly with the rudder shaft at the aft end.
Grey clouds moving in around 2:30; hope rain doesn't prevent painting the first coat this afternoon.
Tried to diagnose the wind-generator, and I think the diode block may have been damaged by overheating. Expecting some strongish wind on Friday and Saturday; will see how it behaves then.
Heavy but brief rain around 2:45.
By 4, I'm getting worried that priming has been done, but painting the first coat hasn't started. I find the boss, and it turns out the guys are mixing the paint right now, blending blue with black. And soon the paint is going on, and first coat done by 5:15 or so.
Took some more pictures in the boatyard. A surprising number of boats with bow-thrusters, often very small bow-thrusters. Pics.
Salad and leftover hotdog-cornbread and a warm rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
Futzed with the wind-generator in the middle of the night, and found the problem was the simplest possible thing: somehow the disconnect switch got flipped. Must have snagged it while I was moving in and out of the engine compartment a few days ago. boatyard at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Guys getting ready to paint second coat, at 9 AM.
Walked over to marina to use Wi-Fi in ice-cream shop. Need to warn my credit-card company that a large charge will be coming today.
Back to boat by 11. A little surprised to find the painting still continuing, and by 11:30 it's still going. I hope that if I can splash by 2:30, they'll charge me for 3 days instead of 4. Fiberglass guy came by to beg me to pay him to polish the hull-sides.
Rain at 11:55.
Down the ladder at 1:30, to go pee, and find out the status. Yard boss says the paint is drying, he has me scheduled for splashing at 4 PM, I can go pay at the office. So I do that.
The bill is a little higher than I expected; turns out there's a big mark-up on the bottom-paint. I think it said US$193 per gallon in the marine store, but on the bill it's about US$276 per gallon. So the big chunks of the bill are paint (US$1105), haul out and splash (US$455), painting (US$455 again). Plus the primer paint, materials, pressure-wash, sanding, 3 days in yard.
Total bill is EC$7290 (US$2700). Goes through on my credit card, no problem. (Came through as $2711.61 on credit card statement.)
I go over to the fuel dock, and ask about getting water. They'll probably be closing about the time I get into the water, and they say their pump is slow, I'm better off buying water in the boatyard. So back to the office, and ask about that. Turns out the price is the same, US$0.40/gallon. And it's US$, not EC$.
Back to the boat, and soon a guy with a hose appears. I spend about 20 minutes filling the tanks, losing a gallon or two as the water is being shut off at the end.
A bit later, to the office to pay for the water, and the lady tells me the price iS EC$0.40; she mistakenly said US$0.40 before. So it's cheap, about US$0.15 per gallon. I loaded 169 gallons (thought it would take more), so pay EC$67.60 (US$25).
So, total charges for this experience: EC$7290 to the yard, EC$200 to the mechanic/welder, EC$68 for water. About US$2800 total.
At 4 PM, the yard boss hails me. I'm expecting him to say "let's splash it", but he says "the paint hasn't dried properly yet, we'll splash you tomorrow morning, no extra charge".
Walked over to the marina to go to the small grocery store, to get a few items.
Saw the yard boss, and gave him EC$200 as a tip for him and his guys. That, plus the new cutless bearing I'd already bought a long time ago, bring the total spent up to about US$3000. [Later, credit-card company added a $81.34 "foreign transaction fee".] boatyard at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
At 8:10, the word is that they will lift another boat, then splash me. So it will be a while yet.
Watched them haul a boat, then a guy came by to say they want paint to dry for 24 hours (which might mean noon for me). At 10:30, they're starting to haul another boat. I'm in no hurry, and I actually have some Wi-Fi.
At 2, the lift was coming toward me. But it went past me, to a big powerboat.
Going down to the restrooms, I noticed someone has sanded/polished my propellor ! Tip of one blade is pretty bad, notched and toothy from some collision, I guess. Pics.
Around 2:50, the yard boss stopped by and yelled up "are you staying until next week ?". I said no, he asked if the lift guys had said when they were going to splash me, and I said no. So he went over there; I think there's been some miscommunication.
A couple of minutes later, he came back and said "they're going to splash that catamaran, then you". A couple of minutes after that, here came the lift, and they said "we're splashing you now".
So I scrambled off the boat, and watched as they lifted it and the painter painted the spots that had been covered by the stands. Soon the lift was heading for the launch slip. Pics.
I got on a stern corner as the boat was hanging over the slip. They lowered the boat into the water, and I checked below for leaks. Stuffing box is leaking quite a bit; tightened it, but still leaking. It's supposed to have a slight drip while the shaft is turning, then be dry when stopped; a tricky balance to achieve. Go ahead, anyway. They took lines, I started the engine, checked below again, everything reasonable. They moved the lift away, then I put the engine in gear and they threw the lines aboard. Moving by 3:35.
I'd like to check the stuffing box again right away, now that the shaft is turning, but I'm in a congested lagoon with lots of small traffic. So I head out the channel without delay. As soon as I get out into fairly open water, I duck below, and the stuffing box is tolerable. Quickly find a decent anchoring spot a couple of hundred yards N of the channel entrance, and anchor down by 3:45 at Rodney Bay, St Lucia. Check the stuffing box, tighten it, stop the leak. Make sure the anchor is holding, try to relax.
Check the stufing box and bilge several more times, but all is well. Start straightening up the boat a bit, taking in lines, putting up the mizzen backstay, putting up the mizzen topping lift and boom.
Still can't figure out what's wrong with the refrigerator. It runs a little, one tube up the back gets warm, but then it quits. If I overfilled it with refrigerant, the leak should let pressure come back to proper range. If all of that refrigerant leaked so quickly, there's no hope of keeping enough of a charge in it to keep it running.
Salad and tuna sandwiches and a warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
Headachey around 3 AM; took a paracetamol. Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Wind blowing hard today, from the E.
Nice Wi-Fi from the boat.
Went ashore in midafternoon, into the lagoon against a stiff wind. Did my good deed for the day: a Sunsail guy in a dinghy had his outboard quit ahead of me, so I towed him 100 feet back to the marina, upwind.
To the ATM for cash, then to the supermarket. Back to the dinghy, easy downwind trip back to the boat.
Ashore again, to the big book-exchange in the restaurant at Pigeon Point.
Salad and chili and a warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner. Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Wind blowing fairly hard. Did a bucket of laundry. At 8:45, someone reported 2-4 whales, 3-4 miles N of St Lucia. Started doing my income taxes.
Hard rain at noon.
Ashore at 1, into stiff wind. To ice-cream place to do Wi-Fi and Skype. But their Wi-Fi isn't working. A totally wasted trip.
Back to the boat. And the Wi-Fi there is pretty good, but no answer from Dora on Skype.
Someone has a new toy: pics. What will they think of next ? Looks like a big hose is running back to the jet-ski behind him, providing the power. Probably pretty simple: just divert half of the jet-ski output to send it up the hose instead of backward to propel the jet-ski.
Salad and spaghetti and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner. Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Grey morning. Did a bucket of laundry.
Ashore in midafternoon. To the marine store, and bought new furling and out-haul lines for the mainsail, total of EC$296 (about US$110). Bought tomatoes at the little grocery store. Asked a question at Customs/Immigration about checking out in the afternoon and leaving the following dawn: no problem.
Back to the boat. Put the new lines up. Probably should have gotten the furling line a smidge longer, could have gotten the outhaul a bit shorter and thicker, but they're okay. Much better than the tired old lines that were on there.
Salad and leftover spaghetti and a warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner. Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Put the jib back up. Looks pretty raggedy. First strong squall probably will unwind it again and I'll have to bring it down in a hurry.
E-filed my income taxes. Cost $28 to tell the Feds and state that I owe no tax because I have essentially no income.
Salad and leftover chili and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
No wind at all until 2 AM or so, when it suddenly turned on again.
Headachey at 3 AM or so; took a paracetamol. Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Grey morning. Weather forecast good for going to Martinique tomorrow. Federal tax return accepted by IRS.
Went ashore after 11. Disposed of several bags of garbage. Over to the hardware store to buy some caulk. Back into the dinghy, and over to the supermarket. Someone had tied up a big inflatable, probably 16 feet long, with about a 2-foot painter to the dinghy-dock, taking up most of it.
Bought groceries and headed back to the boat. About 200 yards short, the outboard quit and wouldn't restart. I started paddling, but soon a cruier came by and towed me the rest of the way.
Headachey; took a sumatriptan.
Caulked the base of the mainmast. If I don't do that every few months, rainwater comes in and goes down the compression post.
Opened the fuel line to the carb on the outboard, and the gas looks bad again. Pumped it until it looked more like gasoline, motor runs for a second or two after pulling, then quits again. Took apart carb and fuel pump and cleaned them; there was a bit of goo, but not too much. Checked plug and oil. Everything back together, and eventually got motor running. But it's running badly, and won't run unless the choke is out.
Headed ashore around 3, to check out. Outboard sputtered horribly but made it all the way in. To the Customs/Immigration office, and there's a crowd ahead of me. It thinned out a bit when a bunch of them were sent off to some Health officer's office. Once I got the form and filled it out, the process went quickly. Paid EC$40 to the Port officer. Out of there in 25 minutes.
To the dinghy, motor started, sputtered as usual. Over toward the marina fuel dock, to get some fresh gasoline, but it's 15 minutes to closing time and three big boats are circling anxiously and a skiff is fueling and a guy from a dinghy is walking toward the office. Decided that's a bad bet, and headed to the fisherman's fuel dock halfway down the channel. Got there and found they have no gasoline at all, a truck will be coming sometime. Gave up; will have to buy fresh gasoline in Martinique, at twice the price.
Outboard sputtered and ran horribly on the way out to the boat, but only quit once and restarted immediately. Sputtered and crawled and got me back to the boat.
State tax return accepted by NJ. So that chore is done.
Salad and hotdog-onion-cornbread-cheese and a warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner. Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Up at 5:30. Got boat ready to go. Engine start at 6, anchor up by 6:15. Motored out, rounded up, unfurled the mainsail. Sure enough, the furling line is about 5 feet shorter than ideal, but it works. Motor-sailed out and around Pigeon Island. Had to loosen the stuffing-box nuts to get a drip of water started.
Lovely flat water until I got out of shelter of the island, then starting hitting NE and E swells. Soon it was rougher than I'd expected from the forecast, and the first hour or two north of the island were rough and rolly. But I'm making good time; I think the paint job and propellor-polishing have added about a knot, and today there's enough E in the wind to give me some drive from the mainsail.
Saw a couple of ocean-crossing freighters heading SE, maybe to Barbados, maybe beyond. Kept an eye on the oil leak and stuffing box.
Made good speed across, but it stayed fairly rolly. As I neared Martinique, saw a bunch of sailboats coming out in various directions. Those trying to head E against the prevailing current and swells were having a rough time of it.
Around the peninsula and there's the St Anne anchorage, and there are a LOT of boats here. Wasn't nearly this crowded when I was here 4 or 5 years ago.
Furled the mainsail and threaded my way through the anchorage to get close in to shore. An inflatable with some officials started hovering around me, getting in my way a little. As soon as the anchor was down, they were rafted up to my side. Anchor down by 10:40 at St Anne, Martinique. I backed down on the anchor, shut off the engine, tightening the stuffing nuts, etc, before going out to deal with them.
They checked my papers, then all three of them came aboard, and two of them started searching my boat. Checked that I had distress flares. They asked 4 or 5 times if I had any guns; they said Americans usually have guns. Asked a couple of times if I had a lot of cash, and where it was. Asked if I had a safe. All three of them are armed, but one seems to be the boat-handler, two are searching, and only one of them speaks much English (but his English is reasonable).
Boat's a mess from the trip, and age, and my general messiness. They opened the acces to the stuffing-box area (since the carpet was peeled back and the hatch was obvious). Opened spaces under the aft bunks, the space by the rudder post, looked in the drawers, looked in the closet. Leafed through a box of my financial records and a box of cruising bulletins, I guess to see if cash or drugs were hidden between the pages. Noticed the wobbly board in the hallway sole and had me open that. Heat of the engine compartment kept them from going in there. Glanced in the old AC freezer compartment. Glanced in the forward head and V-berth. Looked in the space holding the drinking water pump. Asked about access to the water tanks (there is none) and the fuel tank (about an hour's work to get at that, and the access is tiny). By that time, they were discouraged by the size of the boat, the clutter, the heat, and the dirt. Up into the cockpit and did paperwork, and they left at 11:25. The bad news is this was independent of clearing-in; still have to go do that. I found that they opened a couple of ports I rarely open; fortunately none of the plastic broke.
Had a quick lunch, then launched the dinghy. The motor started and ran (stumbling) all the way to the dock. Chatted briefly with a cruiser at the dock, asking him where to clear in, etc.
Found the cafe with the PC to do clearance. Got the password, got to the form, filled it in. Always fun to use a French keyboard, where A and M and some other keys are in non-USA positions. And the form makes you shift to do numbers in some fields, and not shift to do numbers in other fields. Got it done, had the guy put paper in the printer, printed it out. He signed and stamped it. Then he changed US$72 to €66 (rate of 1.09, not bad at all) for me, and I paid €2 for the clearance. Done !
Wandered around town. Took a few pictures: pics (first picture shows only about 1/5th of the anchorage). Found the market and bought a couple of tomatoes (cheaper than in the islands further south). Wasn't able to find a gas station.
Back to the dock, got in the dinghy, motor started and ran for about 10 seconds, then quit and wouldn't restart. Started paddling (very sheltered conditions, only about 200 yards to paddle), and soon someone came by and towed me to my boat. Three guys on a cruising boat, and one of them is a guy I chatted with briefly at the clearance PC. Back on my boat by 1.
Around 1:25, I'm below when I hear anchor chain rattling very nearby. I go on deck to find a French boat putting their anchor down right on top of my chain, and now they're sideways across my bow while letting out more chain. I go to the bow and point out my anchor chain and where my anchor is, and watch anxiously while they pull up their chain and anchor. Fortunately they don't snag my chain, and go elsewhere.
As I expected, no free Wi-Fi here.
Poured most of the gasoline out of the outboard's fuel tank and into a transparent 2-liter soda bottle. It looked okay, and after 15 minutes no layers had separated out. Poured it back into the tank.
Salad and leftover hotdog-cornbread and a warm Coke for dinner. St Anne, Martinique.
On deck at 5:20 AM to watch the International Space Station pass overhead.
Was using the laptop around 10:30 when I realized the battery was very low, the charger had stopped supplying outside power. I've had problems with the connector before. So I fiddled with the connector for quite a while, with no luck. Turned on the inverter and tried the AC adapter, with no luck. Messed with it for more than half an hour, and couldn't get it to work. This is bad; I use my laptop a LOT. Gave up and had some lunch.
An hour later, tried the laptop again, and the adapter started charging the battery ! A big relief. Left it charging while I did chores, then left it charging while I went ashore. My best guess is that using an external disk drew too much power, and something in the charging circuit got hot and decided to turn off for a while.
Took the connector off the end of the outboard fuel line, and pumped some gas out into the soda bottle. A good 1/4" layer of water settled out into the bottom. Poured most of the good gas back into the tank.
Launched the dinghy, took the fuel line off the carb, and pumped some more gas out of there into the soda bottle.
Outboard sputtered horribly and got me ashore at about 1/4 knot; at least today this is directly upwind, so if the motor won't get me back, it will be an easy paddle back to the boat.
Went for a walk along the shore and around the SW corner of the peninsula. Lots of people have come by car to enjoy the beaches, early on a Friday afternoon. Nice walking paths, except where a resort has been built in the way. Puzzled my way around that.
Through lots of woods and along the S coast. Got to a big beach area with lots of cars and tents. And now one of my sandals has worn a hole in the back of my left heel. Kept going anyway, foolishly, trying to loop through and back to town. Down a long dirt road and out to the main road. Where there are two lovely bus stops.
But no busses. I waited 45 minutes, and no bus in either direction. I had planned to walk to town along the road, but traffic is very fast, there are no shoulders, no shade, and I'm not sure how far it is. I decide to retrace my steps.
So, back up the dirt road, past all the parked cars and tents, through the woods, and eventually back to town. A long, thirsty slog, my heel not feeling too horrible. But I've definitely overdone it today. Saw one nice-looking topless woman on the beach, near town.
Into the dinghy, the motor starts, and I start sputtering back to the boat. Then I try putting the choke in, and suddenly the motor is running fine ! So it's flipped from "only runs with the choke out" mode to normal mode. Great !
Back to the boat by 4:15. Big glass of water, some cranberry juice, bathroom. Start to feel better. Relax and eat a big grapefruit. Another glass of water.
Then I go snorkeling under the boat. Swimming in the cool water feels great, after being sweaty and overheated all afternoon. And the bottom of the boat looks terrific, all clean, zinc and prop and cutless bearing and rudder shoe all fine.
Looked at the soda bottle with gasoline in it, and probably have 5 or 6 tablespoons of water at the bottom.
Salad and leftover hotdog-cornbread and a warm Coke for dinner. St Anne, Martinique.
Looking at charts, this is the eastern-most point of my trip from Grenada to Puerto Rico. All of the big hops from here on are N and NW and then W. Which means there shouldn't be any more serious upwind trips.
Poured the last half-cup of gasoline-plus-water into a tall plastic cup to try to salvage as much gasoline as I could, pouring off the gas from on top of the water. Did something else for 2 or 3 minutes, looked back, and the gasoline had dissolved the plastic cup and spilled in the cockpit. Wiped it up.
A bit headachey; took a sumatriptan.
Ashore around 2:30 (outboard ran fine), and town is pretty dead. Limped around a bit. Found the veggie market was closed, but both grocery stores open until late. Sat in the harbor plaza for a while and read my book. Some nice-looking women. Eventually got some groceries and went back to the boat. Outboard ran fine except for a couple of hiccups.
Salad and chili and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Headachey in the middle of the night; took a paracetamol. St Anne, Martinique.
Engine start at 6:45, anchor up and mainsail unfurled by 6:55. Motor-sailed W, with seas from SE, and wind and current from dead astern. Fiddly steering, and a couple of accidental jibes of the mainsail, but the wind is light, and the apparent wind even lighter. Making good speed. Breathing a lot of exhaust fumes; the wind is blowing them right up into the cockpit.
Past Diamond Rock around 8:30, turned the SW corner around 8:45. A nice romp NW for a half-hour or so, with wind from starboard stern quarter, following seas and current. Had to dodge some fish-floats. Then a bit of an upwind slog in the big harbor, but seas are small.
Into the anchorage by the fort; a lot of boats here. First anchoring had me too close to land; the winds are fluky and spinning here. Pulled it up and anchor down again by 11:15 at Fort de France, Martinique.
Took a couple of pictures: pics.
Headache; took a sumatriptan.
Got a tiny bit of free Wi-Fi from the Tourist Office, just enough to see a weather forecast and send an email to Dora.
On the beach, a religious group came down and sang some songs and then three of them went into the water and someone got baptized.
A bunch of teenaged boys swam out to an unoccupied anchored boat and used it as a dive platform for ten minutes or so. The boat looks like a cruising boat but no one was aboard overnight, so I guess it's been here a while. Pics. Later, they were swimming around another anchored boat even closer to the beach, but couldn't get aboard it. I'm glad I'm aboard my boat now, to keep them away. And I'm anchored in a slightly less accessible location.
Salad and leftover chili and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Rolly at times during the night. Fort de France, Martinique.
Went ashore at 10. Disposed of a bag of garbage. Then found out the whole town is closed on a Monday morning. I need some basics such as a loaf of bread; not a chance. One pharmacy has a tiny wall-hatch open with a line of people picking up medicines. One hotel lobby is open. A few workmen on a couple of construction or remodeling sites. Everything else closed tight. Eventually got some free Wi-Fi on the harbor plaza.
Started to walk to W end of town, decided it was stupid. Back to boat. The boat the kids were on yesterday now has a dinghy behind it, so it's not unoccupied.
Laptop not charging properly again. But an hour or two later, it's working again.
Ashore again at 2:15 or so. Was going to stop by the boat the kids were on, but the dinghy is gone again.
Everything still closed. Must be a holiday. Easter Monday or something ? I don't know when Easter is. Only thing open is Twix (McDonald's), and prices there are not cheap. Sat for a while in the harbor plaza, then back to the boat.
Tuna-salad, and later leftover chili and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Right at dark, about 6:45, former-sailboat "Atraxia", now with no masts, came in and anchored fairly close to my anchor. I'm backwinded to the E now, and they've backed down to the W, but that might not last. It took a couple of tries, and a bit of a wind shift that brought us closer together, but finally I communicated my unhappiness to them, and they moved a bit further away. Fort de France, Martinique.
Around 10, launched the dinghy. Went out around the fort and up past the long commercial docks, straight upwind, and to the fuel dock. Which I'm glad to find is open. Bought 7 liters of gasoline for €10.
Back to the boat, to drop off the gasoline jug (after putting some in the tank). Customs boat is boarding a cruising boat. Went ashore. Everything is open in town today.
To Leader Price supermarket, which is a bit of a zoo right after the days closed. Got groceries. Hauled everything back to the boat. Nice to have bread and fruit and vegs again.
Went ashore at 2 or so. Couldn't find the cybercafe I saw the other day. Walked all over the central area, asking people, eventually got directed to one. But it's not too cheap, €1 for 30 minutes, and has no AC outlets (and I don't have the right adapter anyway). Did 30 minutes. Weather forecast for going to Guadeloupe has gotten a bit less favorable. Was planning to go tomorrow; will have to check the forecast again tomorrow morning.
Went into Carrefour to buy some bananas, but the lines were too long.
To marine store. They still have the check-out computer, but no longer have a book-exchange. Did some Wi-Fi in waterfront plaza.
Back onto boat. Laptop not charging.
Salad and spaghetti and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner. Fort de France, Martinique.
Leaving for Guadeloupe today.
Laptop still not charging.
Winds are fluky in this anchorage; two boats almost touching: pic.
Ashore after 9. Brief Wi-Fi in waterfront plaza; weather forecast has moderated slightly; nice. To an ATM and got Euro's from my debit card, no fee, no problem. To Leader Price, but the lines were too long. To the marine store and checked out (no charge). Back to boat.
Engine start at 11:20. Anchor up by 11:35; the wind fought me every way possible, spinning the boat and driving it way forward over the anchor again and again.
Motor-sailed W down the N side of the harbor. A romp, with wind dead astern and seas from stern quarter. Debated unfurling the jib, but the wind is stronger than I expected, and the jib is not good.
At noon, the jib made the decision for me, about 1/3 of it near the top unwinding and starting to flog horribly. Took me more than half an hour to get it under control, down and lashed on deck.
Around the corner and heading N, and the wind is dying. Lovely flat water here in the lee of the island. But soon rainclouds were moving in, and it got mostly grey and rained repeatedly.
Passing St Pierre at 2 PM. Saw a couple of small black or black-and-white dolphin jumping out of the water a few times.
At 2:50, shut off the engine and checked the oil leak from the oil hose. Wanted to do it here in calm conditions. Not too bad, maybe half a cup in 4 hours.
Around 4, passing off the N end of Martinique. Conditions here not as forecast: the wind is supposed to be E, but it's NE. And the NE seas are bigger than I expected. I'm heading NNW, so there's a lot of rolling (but the mainsail checks much of it).
At 4:15, a strong front/squall came through. Rain blasting through the pilothouse and getting me fairly wet, followed by a 10-degree temperature drop. And I have to drive carefully to keep the mainsail from getting overloaded and damaged somehow.
At 4:25, a glimpse of Dominica well in the distance. Then the grey closed in again.
Several sailboats heading S, over the next hour or two.
Saw that a damaged section of the rubrail facing, which I'd tried to repair yesterday, now is ripped off and dangling by one screw. Probably the jib sheet ripped it off. I'm not going out on the wet deck, on the low side, in these rough conditions, to try to secure it.
Saw a couple of dolphins jumping near the boat, but they were gone quickly.
At 5:15, another strong front/squall.
At 5:45, boat rolled by a couple of very sharp seas, and crashing noises from below. I went down to investigate, and got caught by the next such wave. I only had one hand on something solid, and the motion rotated me backwards. Everything I grabbed for was not solid, but fortunately I came away with just a scrape on my forearm and a torn-off scab on my heel. Could have been bad.
At 9:10, finally reached S end of Dominica, and started getting shelter from the rolly seas. Within a mile, the boat was fairly steady. Took a paracetamol. Had leftover spaghetti and a Coke for dinner.
At 10:10, shut off the engine and laid down and rested a little, enjoying the quiet as the mainsail kept the boat steady, maybe ghosted us along at 1/10th knot. Checked the oil, and it needs a fair amount, more than came out at the hose connection leak. Checked the situation on deck; mostly okay. Rubrail section is gone. 3/4 moon (waning gibbous, I think) is coming up over the island. Got a little common sense and put on warmer clothing.
At 10:45, started engine and got going again. Within half an hour, the calm was gone, wind strong, kicking up a chop. Later, it calmed again, then got strong again. Lights from a couple of fishing boats, I think, but they're farther out than me.
At 2:30 AM, stopped engine and checked oil again, wanting to do this in the lee of Dominica before getting to open water. Oil down about a quart in 4 hours or so; not good.
I'm starting to get very tired. I wish the wind would calm down a bit.
Before 4 AM, passing the N end of Dominica, and out into very rough conditions. Wind consistently very strong, and again I'm heading mostly NNW in NE seas and NE wind. And I'm very tired. At least the boat is sailing itself most of the time, despite the rolling. I only have to make small adjustments to mainsheet and steering every now and then, and it stays on course. I worry that something will go wrong with the mainsail; that would be a total pain in these conditions.
Sun up around 6; conditions still rough, but the end is in sight.
At 7, into Iles Des Saintes. Out of the rough conditions. Soon am able to furl the mainsail. Wind my way around and up to town. As I read, now they've put in a mooring field and prohibited anchoring at the town. I've never liked this place as an anchorage, and now it costs money, too. The anchorages here generally have deep water, not much sand, lots of rocks, often rolly. Town is cute but not that great.
I decide to avoid the mooring field, and anchor in a local-boat type of area, in front of a nasty rocky lee shore. I expect I'll get kicked out of here, but maybe I can get into town before that happens. Anchor down by 8 AM at Iles Des Saintes, Guadeloupe.
Five minutes later, some harbor guy in a skiff comes over to tell me I can't anchor here. But when I ask if I can check in first, then move, he nicely says yes. And tells me the check-in place opens at 9. Great, I can grab some breakfast, shave, wash a little, make sure the anchor is holding.
Ashore just before 9. A little trouble finding it, and the check-in place is a cybercafe; I remember it from when I was here 4 years ago. But it's not open on time this morning. Two big ferries arrive and the town fills with tourists.
I go to a grocery store and buy a few things, then the cybercafe is open. Check in, pay €2. And I find the moorings here would cost me €11 per day (rate depends on length of boat, cheaper for weekly, etc). Internet here costs €3 per half-hour, and they have no USA-type power outlets.
As I'm leaving the dock, a third ferry pulls in with more people. I notice that the mooring field is pretty rolly.
Back to the boat by 9:35. Anchor might be dragging slightly.
Strange: engine oil is completely full; didn't lose any while running from 2:30 to 8 this morning. So where was it going before ? I don't think it's leaking into the bilge, and if being burnt because of bad rings or something, why didn't it keep on getting burnt ?
Engine start at 9:45. Struggled to get anchor up; tight quarters and some wind. Got it up, looped around to a different area about 200 yards farther from town, anchor down by 9:55 at Iles Des Saintes, Guadeloupe. Should have anchored here in the first place. A bit exposed to NE, but the other anchorages I saw looked full, especially in the shallower water. Even so, I'm in about 20 feet of water here, deeper than I like (I don't have an anchor windlass).
Relax a little, straighten up the boat a little, read a book, write this log file. Soon down for a nap.
Got up, did some stuff, started straightening up after the trip, managed to bash my toe into something and make a big bloody gash on the top of it. Wonderful.
At 3:45, a Customs boat comes by and shouts some questions from 50 feet away, about where I've been and where I'm going. They go hover near the boat behind me, then spend the next hour or more just hovering around in the vicinity.
At 5:15, as I'm fixing some salad for dinner, the Customs boat is coming over again and saying they're going to board me. They have fenders, and nudge up to me briefly, just long enough for three officers to step/jump across to my boat.
We sit in the cockpit and I give them my documents and one asks some questions. Finally they say they will search the boat, but 15 seconds into that, they get a radio call saying that I was searched while in Martinique. They say no need to search me again, why didn't I tell them I'd been searched ? I figured it's a different country, but they say no, the same. I show the form from the previous search. The guy says "did they search the whole boat ?", I say "well, it's a big boat, that would take two full days". The guy smiles and jokes "well, we start today". Then they leave, again doing a dangerous jump between boats.
Salad and chili and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner. Anchorage getting pretty rolly; have to grab the cooking dinner a couple of times to prevent it from sliding off the stove.
A very uncomfortable night, lots of rolling. Iles Des Saintes, Guadeloupe.
Engine start at 6:45, anchor up by 6:55 in some rain, moved out, unfurled the mainsail, motor-sailed NW. Out of the Saintes and going across the channel to the SW corner of Guadeloupe. The usual rolling starts, but it's daytime and the wind is not as strong as the last couple of days, so not too bad.
At 8:15, 95% of the way across, while I'm below taking a quick look at the engine and stuffing-box, I hear a bang from on deck. I assume the main accidentally jibed; the steering has been fiddly with some following seas. But I go up to find that the main halyard has failed at the top, where the wire halyard goes over in a fairly tight bend. It's always been a weak point (and I specifically checked it a week or so ago). Now the mainsail is hanging over the starboard side and the head is underwater.
Fortunately, I guess it's too short to reach the prop. I have a relatively easy time gathering the sail up, lashing it in sections, getting it all aboard and under control. Except I bang my injured toe into a stanchion base, causing a lot of pain.
By 8:40, past the lighthouse on the SW corner of the island, and into fairly calm water.
I had been planning to go all the way up to the NW end of the island today, to Deshaies. But I'm pretty sure there is no marine store or other facilities up there. I think I have everything I need aboard already, to replace or at least jury-rig the halyard. But I'm about to pass a major town with a marina and other marine facilities, and it would be smart to stop here and deal with the halyard. If the anchorage is tolerable; I've never stopped here.
So I head in, and find some other cruising boats moored and anchored. Anchor down at 9:15 in 20-25 feet of water, at Marina Riviere Sens (just S of Basse-Terre), Guadeloupe. Quite calm here.
A bit tricky: this is one of those anchorages downwind from a big hill, with wind making boats point all different directions. And I'm between anchored boats in two directions, a moored boat, and a rocky shore.
Laptop is charging from the adapter !
I take the jib down and curl it up on deck. Probably won't be trying to use it again.
Sure enough, after 10, a big blast of NE wind puts me very close to an anchored catamaran, which seems totally unaffected by the wind, just riding loosely on its anchor.
At 10:15, engine start, raise anchor, move it maybe 50 feet NE. And suddenly I'm in totally different wind, lying 200+ feet from the catamaran, now I have to worry about getting too close to shore. Engine off at 10:30, and we'll see how it goes.
Rolled by a wake from a big ferry that passed half a mile to the south of here.
At 10:45, squall going down the channel and coming over the hill, strongish wind from the S. No free Wi-Fi here. Rain moving in at 11:15.
In early afternoon, opened up the cabinet with all of my spare and used rigging wire (pics). I have three old halyards, and that's without digging down to really old stuff. I think I need 80 feet for the main halyard; if I was buying new I'd buy 90 feet so I can cut it back as it breaks. The current broken halyard was cut back a couple of times over the last couple of years, to the point where it barely reached.
Took down the current halyard (pic) and coiled it.
By measuring the diameter and number of turns of each coil, and multiplying by pi, I'm estimating the length of each piece of wire. Two old ones and the current one estimate at 75 feet; the fourth coil estimates at 80 feet, looks better than the other two old ones, and already has an eye swaged to one end. So I'll try that one. If it comes out short, I can bulldog another piece of wire to it. And I have one new 3/16" swage-sleeve in my spares, so if I have to swage a new eye to some wire, I can do that. Looks like I don't have to find a marine store. But I'd still like to get the new wire up while in this anchorage, and then test it on the easy trip up to Deshaies, rather than first testing it on the big hop to Antigua.
After 2, heard "Jolly Friends" (I think) asking for info, having a "situation" about 8 miles W of Portsmouth Dominica. Very fragmentary, but it sounds like they tried to tack and then something went wrong. Later heard them asking about facilities where the prop could be taken off. Maybe a line got in the prop and broke something ? And now they're definitely saying the call is just to inform the Coast Guard, not a distress call.
By 2:15 or so, wind is very blustery, boat rocking and swinging a fair amount. And I'm not feeling 100% today. So I'm not going up the mast this afternoon.
Around 4, working on the wire-winch for the spare halyard, which is balky. Brake was stuck. Got winch apart, couldn't get it back on with the circlip fully engaged. Looks like corrosion has sprung the base of it a bit; may have to grind off a little metal with the Dremel. Huge blasts of wind coming from SE as I was out on deck, just blasting. And halfway up the mast, the halyard has decided to detour sideways around the steaming light; no way to fix that without climbing. But all of these issues can be dealt with.
Salad and leftover chili and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Nice, quiet night, very little rolling. But wind still blasting occasionally. And I'm still achey and tired; took a paracetamol after midnight, and a sumatriptan before dawn. Marina Riviere Sens (just S of Basse-Terre), Guadeloupe.
Still feeling a bit shaky this morning.
After lunch, worked on the winch for the spare halyard, the one I'm going to climb on. Got nowhere.
Around 1, guy from small sailboat behind me came by. His name is "Friday", his boat is "Akemi". They accidentally drained their battery, have no way to charge it but the engine, and it won't start the engine. So he brought over the battery and I attached it to my system, with solar and wind-generator. But there's little wind, and soon the skies turned grey. He's from Dominica, his girlfriend is French, he bought the boat 4 or 6 months ago, and is a bit discouraged about how much money it's sucking up, how much there is to repair. He went back to his boat, and soon I started the engine to get some charging going. Ran the engine for 25 minutes.
Launched the dinghy. Took the battery back to Friday, and headed ashore. Into the marina, which has far more boats inside than I expected from the outside; they're really packed-in here. And they even have a boatyard, with Travellift, although I think it's too small to haul my boat. Fuel dock, sailing-school, all kinds of stuff in here. Hard to find a spot to leave the dinghy, but I did.
Disposed of a bag of garbage. Walked 1.5 miles or more up to town, Basse-Terre, making only one brief wrong turn. Very nice waterfront walkway and some statues and pavilions: pics.
Found a fruit/veggie market with most vendors closed and leaving, but bought veggies at one that was open. Down a little further, and found a Leader Price / Ecomax supermarket. Got meat, cheese, bread, etc. Walked back to the marina, sandal rubbing my hurt foot a bit painfully. Into the dinghy just as a dive-boat was tying up to the same cleat; good timing.
Out into the anchorage, and got hailed by a newly-arrived boat, "Windborne". I recognize the boat name; this young couple just bought the boat in Grenada. Chatted with them a bit, but I couldn't answer most of their questions about this marina and Customs and such. The guy has a horrible burn completely around one ankle; in Dominica, they went to see the hot springs, and the ground gave way under his foot, and in 5-10 seconds of exposure he got badly injured. As we chatted, we saw a big bike-race heading by ashore, with vans following the racers, etc. Looked like a big deal.
The couple I charged the battery for are ashore right now, so I don't know if they got their engine started.
Back aboard a little after 4. Pleased that I got off the boat, got some exercise, got some food, didn't open up either of the scabs on my left foot.
A little before dark, saw a cruising sloop being helped into anchorage on the other side of the marina, accompanied by a skiff.
Grapefruit and salad and spaghetti and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner. The wind-blasting thing started again around 6, and blew out my stove flame 4 or 5 times. Marina Riviere Sens (just S of Basse-Terre), Guadeloupe.
Wind still blasting this morning.
Before 8:30, a skiff full of local guys dragging one end of a big net around from shore, right across my bow, and back to shore, trapping whatever fish were in the big enclosed area. Fortunately the net didn't snag my anchor on the bottom (not very likely, anyway).
Started getting ready to climb the mast: hoisted the climbing rope on the spare halyard, then locked the winch and tied it to keep it from sliding off the shaft (since I still can't get the circlip back on). Got the "new" halyard ready, and the climbing gear ready. But the wind still is blasting.
Around 9, saw Friday on deck on his boat, and yelled across to him. He says his battery is okay; I guess the engine started. But then he says his dinghy is gone !
So I launched my dinghy and went over to his boat. He had the dinghy-painter tied with only one knot, a clove hitch; not a good idea. With the strong wind we had all night, that dinghy could be 20 miles away by now.
I go downwind past the marina, a bit nervous because my outboard has stumbled a few times in the last day or two. No sign of the dinghy. Into the marina, which is very quiet and everything closed. No sign of the dinghy there. Back to tell Friday the bad news. I offer to take him and his girlfriend ashore later. Back to my boat, and I make some radio calls to ask other boats to be on the lookout for the dinghy.
After 10, got my nerve up, and climbed the mainmast. Wind still blasting every few minutes, boat rocking a little, not absolutely 100% confident the halyard winch will hold. But everything went okay. Went up halfway, got the halyard I'm climbing on straightened from around the steaming light, went higher. Had to keep passing the new halyard around shrouds and spreaders to keep it aft of the mast. Got to the top. As usual, half of the stuff up here is galled, the other half is broken. Managed to pass the new halyard over and get it on the right sheaves without too much trouble, but there's a broken block that the halyard used to go over, I think. Didn't put it on that. Back down and done by 10:30. And the halyard is plenty long, probably have an extra 5-7 feet. All the usual climbing-bruises on feet and legs and forearms, but didn't tear the scabs on my toe or heel, so that's good.
At 11 or so, saw Friday standing on deck on his boat, so figured they wanted to go ashore. Closed up the boat and into the dinghy and over there. His girlfriend is Beatrice and they have a one-year-old son David. They've decided to go into a slip in the marina.
They all get into my dinghy, and we go into the marina. Tie up behind the fuel dock, walk around to the office, and slips are available, but the office closes at 12. So we have to do this right away.
I take Friday back out to his boat, he starts the engine and raises anchor, and eventually gets into the marina. I circle for a while, wanting to help nudge him into the slip if necessary. But he thinks the assigned slip is too tight or something, and circles while a lot of French is being spoken from boat to shore.
Eventually I give up and tie up my dinghy again, and go walking to see what stores are here. Only a few are open, including a nice fruit/veggie shop, and I don't find anywhere to do Wi-Fi. Back to my dinghy, and over to Friday's boat. I help move him from one mooring buoy to another. Then we sit on his boat and have a nice chat, and they give me a beer, which soon has me sleepy. Try to do Wi-Fi, for which we have a password, but the signal is too weak.
Back to my boat around 1:30.
Got the bitter end of the wire halyard through the channel in the winch; always tricky. By 3:15, got the mainsail hoisted and furled, suffering only one wind-gust while doing it.
Cleaned up after the mast-climbing: took down the climbing gear, put up the spare halyard wrapped around the mainsail, put lines back in cockpit, etc.
Salad and spaghetti and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner.
A bit shocked to see how sunburnt I got today, between climbing the mast, work on deck, being in the dinghy for so long, walking around outside the marina. Not good.
Very small sloop with mast down came in just before dark and anchored slightly close to me. Guy hauled out an inflatable kayak, inflated it, and went ashore.
Saw a 40-foot or more sloop come in after dark. I thought it was anchoring next to the small sloop, but later it was gone. Two othe rcruising boats here tonight, on moorings.
Plenty of wind-blasts during the night. Marina Riviere Sens (just S of Basse-Terre), Guadeloupe.
Engine start at 7 or so; anchor up by 7:10. Motored out, rounded up, unfurled the mainsail.
Motor-sailed NNW along the coast, enjoying views of Basse-Terre. Soon in very flat conditions, lovely flat water. Enough wind to keep the mainsail full, and wind mostly from astern.
Loafed along, heading up the island. Engine off at 9:05 to check oil level and fix the bag catching the slight oil leak. Start again at 9:10.
Passing Pigeon Island around 10, and shortly after that, conditions changed totally. Wind starting blasting from NE and E, gusts up to 25 knots, plenty of sustained 20+ knots. And soon it had whitecaps on the sea. More of a test of the main halyard than I wanted.
Wind kept blasting for the rest of the trip, up to Deshaies. Worried about how difficult it would be to furl the main, but I got lucky. Looked for a slight lull, got one, quickly loosened the sheet and ran out on deck and quickly got the main furled before the wind started blasting again. Nice.
Up into harbor, and it's crowded, as I expected. And they've put moorings and nets and such in all the shallowest places to anchor. But I found a decent place in the middle, maybe 20 feet deep. People on boat "Safari Njema" behind me watched closely as I anchored. Anchor down by 11:35 at Deshaies, Guadeloupe. Plenty of wind blasting down through here, so I'll watch the situation carefully for a while.
Got some free Wi-Fi ! Able to upload the log, email Dora, get a weather forecast. Nice.
Scumbag credit-card company tagged on a $81.34 "foreign transaction fee" to my boatyard bill.
Wind-blasts finally mostly stopped around 4 PM.
Sailing-ship came in: pic.
Salad and chili and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner.
A very quiet night; nice. But at 3 AM, wind very light and sometimes S or NE, and the boat rolled badly at one point due to slight W swell coming in. Deshaies, Guadeloupe.
Boat directly behind me has left. Fair number of boats moving in and out today. I'm trying to judge weather for going to Antigua, but it looks like wind and waves will be straight E for a while, and Antigua is straight N from here. E 5-foot seas will make for a rolly trip.
Calm morning, then wind started howling at 11:30, but not for long. Fairly grey for a while, some rain at 4.
Salad and leftover chili and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner.
From about 7 to 8:15, light wind going to directions I didn't expect, in a week of E 15-20 forecasts. Soon N and then NW. Bad for me, since I'm anchored at the edge of the mooring field: now I'm swinging close to a moored sailboat. So I sat out in the cockpit and kept watch. Finally wind got back to E and strengthened a little, moving me away and getting settled. Checked several times during the night; no problem. Deshaies, Guadeloupe.
From 5:30 to 7:30 or later, wind light and spinning again, putting me too close to a moored boat. Sat in cockpit and watched.
At 8:30, in calm conditions, raised anchor and moved about 100 feet W, away from the moorings.
Hmm, weather forecast has changed a fair bit. I'll probably go to Antigua tomorrow. E 4 seas, not great, but I might have to wait a while for better.
Went ashore after 3. No signs telling people where to clear in/out. Went up and down the whole (small) town; no answers. Most places closed, too; looks like they'll re-open at 4. Up the hill to the Douane building, and it says clear at "Le Pelican". Back down into town, and no one knows where that is. Got directed to a "multi-services" internet place, so started waiting for that to open. Wandered some more. Pic.
Into a fruit/veg shop, but all I have is a €50 bill, too big for them. Across to a pharmacy to get them to change it for me, which they are nice enough to do. Back to get fruit/veg.
Guy unlocked door at internet place, but he says "Pelican" is last shop at other end of town. Go there, don't see it, ask some more, eventually find it. It's a small women's-clothing shop with a hard-to-read sign out front; I happened to see the name painted clearly on the side of the building. Someone already using the clearance computer, so I went across and got groceries in the store. Looks like Barca football on television; I'd like to stay and watch.
Back to the clothes shop, but now someone else is ahead of me. I chat a little with the guys as we wait. Finally I get to do the clearance, and am charged €4.
To the dinghy dock, and the guy I was chatting with asks me a question about his engine. Yanmar 75 with a turbo, and the turbo has died, his engine has little power. Does running it with a bad turbo damage anything ? I guess no, but I don't really know. Out to the boat.
Salad and chicken-cabbage-rice and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner.
I hardly sleep at all. Warm night, slightly rolly at times, I ate too much for dinner, and I'm anxious about tomorrow's trip. Which should be an easy trip: daylight trip, no fancy navigation, to a place I've been before. Deshaies, Guadeloupe.
Engine start at 5:30 AM. Anchor up easily in very calm conditions; fortunately no boats swinging over my anchor. Motored out, unfurled the mainsail, headed N.
Started to get some chop from NE as I approached N end of Guadeloupe, but ocnditions were pleasantly mild even out in open water. Great !
A long slog across. Conditions calm for a while, rolly for half an hour, back to milder, rolly again, etc. Guadeloupe faded out of sight between 9:45 and 10, with a glimpse of Antigua up ahead, and a pretty good view of Montserrat to the W until cloud covered it. Beautiful sunny day with fair amount of cloud but no squalls. Listening to lots of radio programs on my MP3 players.
Stopped engine at 11:05 to check oil. Not much has leaked out of the oil hose connection, but the engine oil is down more than a quart, maybe almost two quarts. Engine must be burning it. Tricky to check the oil in rough water: the dipstick is close to the very hot exhaust manifold and exhaust riser. I could get a serious burn if I get thrown against them.
Conditions got rougher as I got closer to Antigua. Finally got close, and there are a zillion classic sailboats out sailing, right in front of the entrance to Falmouth Harbor. Found out later: it's "Classic Boat" week. Beautiful boats; the two or three biggest are 90 feet or so, with 5 sails up, and there are a couple of smaller classes. This looks like practicing; a large variety of boats, in all different places. But I don't have time to take pictures, and my boat is rolling heavily anyway. I'm anxious to get into harbor and get to the officials before they close. Lots of small sailboats, plus some committee boats and some people out in inflatable dinghies; a lot of traffic to watch out for. Fortunately I'm able to edge around the activity, claiming the area closest to shore, and get in without cutting anyone off.
In and furl the mainsail at 2, right next to anchored "Picton Castle", a tall ship I toured while in Grenada. Past it and found a lovely shoal in the middle, and anchor down on it by 2:10 (in a sharp rainsquall) at Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.
Relax, straighten up a little, shave. Ashore by 2:45 or so. Walk over to English Harbour, to the officials. Now they're making everyone register for eSeaClear on the computer, so I have to do that. Something which it seems is used only in this country, so probably I'll never use it again (except when clearing out in a few days).
Back and forth among the various officials, and I'm yawning and feeling drained. Three or four other skippers come in to clear, and they all look tired too. Pay EC$62 (US$24) and I'm done. (When I check out, I'll have to pay an additional US$0.07/foot per day spent anchored in English or Falmouth harbors.) Said hi to the guy I chatted with yesterday in Deshaies; we made the same crossing today. But he has another guy as crew. I'd guess they sailed, while I motor-sailed. He's heading for Jolly Harbour to have his turbo fixed/replaced, I think.
Nice to be back in an English-speaking country; I really struggled in the French islands. But I miss the French "officials"; here the officials are numerous and picky and the paperwork is large and expensive. Of course, I did get boarded twice in the French islands.
Wander around the dockyard for a little while, taking pictures of some boats: pics. Surprised to see that there actually is a little space to anchor in here; I assumed it would be jammed. But the center of the action seems to be Falmouth. Asked at a couple of places, and no one has a schedule of exactly when the races are run; I guess it's online somewhere.
Back to Falmouth, wander around to get the lay of the land, but my energy is ebbing. The big book-exchange that was here 4-5 years ago seems to be gone. Run into a couple of people I know: Margie and Gary on "Inspiration". Very pleasant. I think Margie said they went from Grenada to St Lucia in two weeks flat this season; that took me about 6 weeks, with breakdowns and waiting for weather.
Take a few pictures from the dock. Back to the dinghy, and take a few more pictures as I head out to the boat: pics. The day's races have finished (around 4, I guess) and the boats are docking. Which must be an anxious operation with such beautiful boats.
Onto my boat, stow stuff from the dinghy, open the boat, start updating the log file. Hoist the dinghy, lash the mainsail, etc.
One reason I feel so wrung out: forgot to have my usual drink of tea (with caffeine) with lunch. Also I didn't eat much, just a banana for breakfast and a half-PB-sandwich and a grapefruit for lunch.
Salad and leftover chicken-rice and a warm cranberryjuice for dinner.
Lovely calm night; slept fairly well. Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.
Did a bucket of laundry.
Boats heading out at 9; race at 10 or 10:30. VHF net at 9 announced winners of a couple of races yesterday, a singlehander's race and a big-boat race, so I guess what I saw wasn't (just) boats practicing. But later, the committee boat was calling today's 10 AM race the first race of the regatta, so I'm confused.
Nice boat sailing in the harbor: pic.
As I expected, no free Wi-Fi here.
Fuel level 9.3 inches.
Listening to the races on VHF 77; committee boat and other boats. There was a warning to press and spectator boats to stay clear; apparently last year a press boat trying to get really good pictures of a man overboard from a racer almost ran over him/her. They have about 3 races going on the course simultaneously, different classes, started about 10 minutes apart. One boat retired before a race because of gear failure. Wind is a couple of knots stronger today than yesterday.
Scoping out the next big passage I have to make, and it's the longest one. About 100 NM, from W side of Antigua around N end of St Martin and into the lagoon in St Martin. Took me 28+ hours in the other direction, 5 years ago. Makes me tired just thinking about it, right now.
A little headachey; took a paracetamol.
Saw this megayacht come in, and it backed all the way down the channel and into the marina: pics. I'm not sure why; there's a big turning basin in front of the marina. But I assume they know what they're doing.
Ashore at 3. (In passing, noticed that a mooring here for my boat would cost me US$25 per night !) Used huge book-exchange at Jane's yacht services.
Got a tiny bit of Wi-Fi, standing awkwardly in a high-traffic area and holding the laptop. Just enough to upload the pictures and log file.
Chatted with John from "Purrfect", and met Susan from "Spirited Lady". Susan was on a race boat today, and says the seas were pretty big.
Bought groceries, and out to the boat.
Lowered the mainsail and looked at the halyard; looks fine.
Salad and hotdog-onion-cheese-cornbread concoction and a rum-and-Coke for dinner. Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.
Diesel spill in the harbor.
Ashore before 9:30, to dock at Pigeon Beach. Joined about 6 other cruisers and we went up the Middle Ground trail to the top of the hill. Nice view down onto the harbor and the race area outside the harbor. Nice chat with a lady from "Windswept Dreams", and Margie from "Inspiration".
General pictures of the scene, and the boats going out and in: pics.
First race started at 10, last one (three big boats) around 10:45. Lots of nice-looking boats, a fun morning. Didn't worry too much about which boat was which or who was winning.
First race: pics.
Second race: pics.
Third race: pic.
Fourth race (three big boats): pics.
They did a long upwind leg away from us, and when there was little else to see close by, we started heading back down the hill. Back to my boat by 11:30 or so.
Wind blowing pretty hard after noon.
Ashore at 3. Tried another book-exchange place, but it was closed. Did a little Wi-Fi. Got several weather forecasts, and sent email to Dora, but while uploading pictures and log file, the connection died and wouldn't come back, leaving the log page broken. Bought a little fruit and veg, and back to the boat.
Salad and onion-cheese-egg-bread and a rum-and-Coke for dinner. Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.
Engine start at 7:25. Anchor up with little effort by 7:30; I love anchoring in very shallow water. Unfurled the mainsail and motored out.
Easy romp straight downwind, with seas on port stern quarter, but steering was fiddly because of the seas and the risk of accidental jibe. Down to the SW corner of the island, around, up the W side to Jolly Harbour. Lovely water color here, and 15+ boats anchored.
Anchor down by 9:35 in very shallow water at Jolly Harbour, Antigua. I knew I was pushing into very shallow water, but the anchor hit bottom a foot or two before I expected; I'm probably in 4 to 4.5 feet of water, with my 3.5 foot draft.
Got a free guest Wi-Fi connection that lets me do only Yahoo Mail, GMail, Google. Not too useful.
In midafternoon, dinghied across to a little beach. Walked up a hill and took pictures of the anchorage, and Jolly Harbour, and the long beach at Morris Bay: pics. Back down the hill, over to Morris Bay, and walked halfway down the beach and got my toes wet. Pleasant, but hot sun. Back to the dinghy, had trouble getting the outboard started, and it ran badly back to the boat.
Pumped some gasoline out of the motor, and it looked okay; no layer of water.
Cruising boat (45-foot or so gaff-rigged sailboat) came in and went ahead of me. I think they were aground briefly. Then they anchored off to port and a bit forward; they must be in very shallow water. Maybe they have a centerboard. Pic.
Went snorkeling under the boat. Water under the boat is a little deeper than I expected, maybe 5.5 feet, but probably shallower up at the anchor. Everything on the bottom of the boat is fine except the shaft zinc is gone ! The boatyard guy took it off to do the cutless bearing, and put the zinc back on. I should have tightened it more after he was done.
Salad and leftover hotdog-cornbread concoction and a rum-and-Coke for dinner. Jolly Harbour, Antigua.
Did a bucket of laundry.
Took carb and fuel pump off the outboard, and there was a fair amount of yellowish varnishy gunk in both of them.
Odd-looking motorboat came out of the harbor: pic.
Went ashore to the marina. Disposed of garbage. Found a book-exchange. Did Wi-Fi in a restaurant, free with paying EC$12 for a Sprite. Weather forecast is a bit contradictory, but looks okay. E 10-15 wind and E 4 seas diminishing to E 2 seas further north, and I'll be going NW.
Got email from friends telling me Martinique police seized 2 tons of cocaine on a (falsely) American-flagged sailboat last Wednesday. So maybe they had a tip and were searching more when I went through there.
Back to boat for lunch.
Ashore again after 2. To supermarket, where I can't spend too much because I want to have some EC$ for fees while clearing out. To the officials, where it's the usual: Customs, Port Authority, Customs to do eSeaClear and sign 5 times, Immigration, back to Customs. Fortunately no encounters with grumpy female officials; I had that last time I was here. No demand that I bring the boat to the Customs dock, and either no one noticed or no one cared that I dated my departure for tomorrow instead of today.
Back to the boat, and hoisted a "Q" flag just in case some official boat comes by. I usually don't bother with signal or courtesy flags.
Salad and chicken-cabbage-rice for dinner. Cooked early because the chicken is fresh and I have no refrigeration. Skipped the alcohol because I want to sleep solidly tonight. Jolly Harbour, Antigua.
Engine start at 5:50, anchor up easily in 5 minutes. Motored out, rounded, had a bit of fuss getting the main unfurled and flying properly. Motor-sailed W out of the harbor, then turned NNW and NW.
Lovely day, partly cloudy, no signs of squalls. Seas calm in shelter of Antigua, pick up a little later, and are more like ENE than the forecast E. Sometimes they're on the starboard stern quarter, which is nice, but sometimes they're on the beam and rolling me.
At 9:55, engine stop for an oil check. Dipstick reads very low; added a lot, and ended up with it reading very overfilled. Rolling is making it hard to get a consistent reading. Engine start at 10:15.
By noon, Antigua has disappeared over the horizon.
Seas are nice for a few hours in the middle of the day, pushing me from behind. But they tend to push the boat off course; I have to steer a fair amount.
At 2:20, engine stop for an oil check. Dipstick reads fine. Took a paracetamol. Engine start at 2:35. Can see St Barts on the horizon ahead. Never saw Barbuda.
I'm making better speed than expected. Which is good (shorter trip), and bad (arrive in dark). But I know the area, and the harbor is big, so it's feasible. Still not what I planned.
Seas getting rougher, and more on the beam. Weather forecast said conditions would be milder up here than in Antigua, but I didn't believe that forecast, it was too mild (2-foot seas). Seems to have been a mistaken forecast, maybe for a sheltered part of St Martin.
Around 7, dark, and I'm about 6 miles SE of St Barts. Rough and rolly, I've passed some fish-trap floats way out in deep water. Hope I don't catch a float in the prop, or hit a fisherman, in the dark. Heard some cruising boats heading overnight to Jolly Harbour.
Tricky to go along St Barts, not enough lights, everything heading NW so the compass and GPS directions are not square.
See St Martin ahead, and as usual I think I've arrived, but I won't arrive for another 5 hours. And in this case, I have to circle halfway around the island and go into a big bay on the other side. I briefly consider going clockwise around, but since I'm approaching from SE, distance is about equal, and I'm more familiar with the E side. So I go that way.
Tricky getting up around Tintemarre island; it's not lit, and my brain is tired. I swing wider than necessary, wasting some time.
At midnight, I turn W along the N end of Tintemarre and St Martin, and the rolling stops, I'm going straight downwind and down-seas. Nice, but fiddly to avoid accidental jibe of the mainsail.
Feeling my way into harbor around 1. Nervous to see some large commercial ships anchored. Even more nervous when I see another medium-sized commercial ship moving, fortunately not too close to me.
Slow way down, furl the mainsail, ease ahead, standing on deck to look out for anchored sailboats. I ease around a couple, and find a large empty space near the beach. Go in closer. Water here should be shallow, but the chart shows one big hole that is 35 feet or so; don't want to hit that.
Relieved when anchor hits bottom in about 10 feet of water, and I can see it down there. Anchor down by 1:35 at Marigot Bay, St Martin.
So, that was about 19.5 hours; I had expected 24+ hours. And nothing broke. A good trip.
Straighten up the boat a little, close up hatches to engine compartment, put out "Q" flag and anchor light, drink water and take a Neobrufen. In bed by 1:55. Marigot Bay, St Martin.
Awake at 5:45. Check anchoring situation; fine. Straighten up boat, get engine ready to go if needed. Engine oil level is exactly right.
As I expected, no free Wi-Fi here.
Heard cruiser's net at 7:30 on VHF 10. Bridge first opening time is now 0900, instead of the 0815 it used to be.
Engine start at 8:50. Bow veered around in the wind and current as I raised the anchor. Saw two other boats (a motorboat and a catamaran) lining up to go in when the bridge opens; that's good, I can follow them. I've done this here before, but it's easier if someone else worries about the traffic signal.
Only one sailboat came out, but as the other two boats started in, the one that came out got in my way, staying in the neck of the channel as they started to work on raising sails. Got around them, followed a catamaran in. And they got in my way, too ! They went through the bridge and then started to dock at a boatyard dock immediately past the bridge, hanging well out into the channel as I was coming through the bridge. Got past them.
Went straight across the main channel and into very shallow water of the anchorage. Nudged forward until the bow was sliding aground on grass. Anchor down by 9:25 at The Lagoon, St Martin. I can see right up the bridge channel from here. Nice and calm water here.
Soon launched the dinghy and headed ashore. Into the marina, and the Capitainerie has moved across to the other side. Found it, docked, in, did the computer screen, paid €6, done. Exchanged a book at their tiny book-exchange bookshelf. Chatted briefly with a cruiser I've met somewhere before, Bob. He remembered my name, I didn't remember his. I think I met him in the BVI's several years ago. He just arrived from the BVIs, after hopping back there from here. Said they've been aboard 11 years and are tired of it. I'm in the same situation.
Walked around the near part of town for a while. Too upscale for me: jewelry stores, nice cafes, Sotheby's, nicely-dressed women. Nowhere likely to sit and have a soda and do Wi-Fi. No internet cafe. Back to the boat.
Loafed, tried to nap, loafed more. Seem to be a lot of dinghy-tours and jetski-tours here, or maybe I was seeing the same ones multiple times. I think my anchor is sliding a little on the grass.
Scoped out the next passage I have to make, from here across Anegada Passage to BVI's, and it's far longer than I remembered. 120 NM west and 20 NM north, then another 5 NM north once I arrive.
Salad and leftover hotdog-cornbread and leftover chicken-rice and a warm rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
Slept well. The Lagoon, St Martin.
Listened to the cruiser's net. Weather forecast is strange: for next week, wind will be SE 7-14 and seas will be NE.
Got a bit of free Wi-Fi. Comes and goes, but I was able to upload files, do email, grab weather forecasts.
I think I've been noticing the engine vibrating a bit much. So checked the engine mount adjustment nuts, and found the two on the port-forward mount were quite loose; the lower nut had vibrated loose and down, I think.
Fuel level 8 inches.
Engine start at 11:50. Anchor up while sliding aground on grass; no problem. Out and down the ill-marked channel to the main body of the Lagoon. Threaded my way through the numerous anchored boats and up to the E end of the shiny new bridge. Odd to see it there; that was open water when I was here 5-6 years ago.
Anchor down by 12:15 at The Lagoon, St Martin. Nice, quiet area with some rough-looking boats (pics), but the holding is questionable.
By late afternoon, swinging a bit close to some nearby boats. Not sure if the anchor is holding.
New bridge opened from 5:15 to 5:225 to let a big crane-barge through.
Salad and spaghetti and a warm rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
Wind has put me with a boat directly behind, about 60-70 feet back; not good. But the good news is that the wind has picked up and blown about 15 knots steadily, and the anchor is holding. So I'll keep an eye on it during the night, but shouldn't have to move.
New bridge's center span is lit with neon, which changes colors in various patterns. Nice. The Lagoon, St Martin.
New/causeway bridge opened at 8:15 to let a smallish cruising sailboat through. Opened again at 10:15 for a couple of catamarans.
Launched dinghy and headed over to Dutch side. To Lagoonies. Office (containing book-exchange) was closed. Chatted with a cruiser I recognized from Grenada. He said yesterday, on the French side, a couple of boats were broken into in broad daylight. Chatted with a local guy. To Budget Marine, and disposed of garbage and used oil. To Daily Extra supermarket for groceries. Back to boat.
At 5 PM, a minor car accident on the bridge, near me.
Fruit and salad and leftover spaghetti and a warm rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
Almost no wind in the evening, and for most of the night. Wind will be light for next few days, too. The Lagoon, St Martin.
Ashore in midafternoon. Looks like office at Lagoon Marina still is closed, so didn't stop there. Docked at Budget Marine. Checked their price for engine oil, went to NAPA Auto, bought a gallon of oil there. To Daily Extra supermarket for groceries. Back to the boat.
Hot afternoon, and very little wind. Airport running its runway in reverse of the usual direction, at times.
Salad and chili and a warm rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
Very still evening and night. The Lagoon, St Martin.
Warm and still morning.
Got a tiny bit of free Wi-Fi just enough to get weather forecasts and do a little email.
Please send any comments to me.