Log - 2/21 - 4/13/03 Seattle to Martinique
to St Lucia
In this section Alan describes teleporting to Martinique (an island
in the Eastern Caribbean) and sailing south to Saint Lucia. This
page includes the following sections:
- My Abused Boat Arrives in Le Marin
- Cruising Again - Saint Anne
- Grande Anse
- Sailing to St Lucia
- Rodney Bay
- Marigot Bay
- Soufriere and the Pitons
Seattle (Feb 22, 2003 - 48°N,
In the late 1800's, Joseph Thomson a renowned Scottish geologist
and explorer, was asked what was the most hazardous part of his
expedition to Africa. Thomson replied, "Crossing Piccadilly
Circus in London". Landing in Seattle, I could relate to Mr.
Thomsom. An American metropolis is a bizarre and wondrous and frightening
place. For two weeks I enjoyed being reunited with Katherine, getting
tidbits for the boat, watching movies, and hiding from the scary,
traffic-infested city streets. On March 9th I hopped aboard the
11 PM redeye to Dallas; on March 11th, at 9 AM, I finally emerged
from the Martinique airport. My tired tongue attempted to speak
Spanish to the French taxi driver. Luckily, his patience and English
prevailed and I was driven to Le Marin, where Dockwise Yacht Transport
(DYT) was waiting for me to unload my sailboat from their freighter.
My Abused Boat Arrives in
Le Marin (Mar 11, 2003 - 14° 28´N, 60° 52´W)
When DYT transferred my sailboat to another freighter in Florida,
they crushed my solar panels and bent the stern pulpit. Also, I
think my boat was transported near the ships smokestack, it is disgusting.
Everything above the deck is covered with a layer of sooty, greasy
grime; and my hull has an area splattered with black adhesive gunk.
What I consider rape of my home, DYT considers the normal wear &
tear of shipping.
Cruising Again - St Anne
(Mar 21, 2003 - 14° 28´N, 60° 53´W)
Ten days after my arrival in Le Marin, Katherine had arrived from
the Washington and my sailboat was back in reasonable shape; so,
we headed out to explore more of Martinique. Our first anchorage
was off the nearby village of St Anne. There are an incredible number
of cruisers in Martinique and maybe two hundred boats are anchored
off St Anne. I smile when I think back to the time in Mexico when
I whined about crowds when ten boats anchored at Agua Verde. At
least half the cruisers seem to be European. The diversity is nice,
and the European lack of prudishness helps to reduce the accumulation
Fort-de-France (Mar 24, 2003
- 14° 36´N, 60° 04´W)
Our first trade wind sailing was a glorious reach northwest to
Fort-de-France (the largest city in this area). A guidebook describes
Fort-de-France as a bit of Paris dropped into the Caribbean; that
is definitely hyperbole. Nonetheless, it is an interesting mixture
of people, shanties, boutiques, grubby farmers' markets, malls,
rastafarian dudes, and chic women. Provisioning was interesting
thanks to the large variety of items brought in from France (including
good cheese and cheap good wine). But, as we will probably find
everywhere in the Caribbean, most food and boat parts are much more
expensive than USA prices.
Grande Anse (Mar 27, 2003
- 14° 30´N, 61° 05´W)
After leaving Fort-de-France we sailed to the village of Grande
Anse (translation: Big Bay) and mellowed out for a few days. Then
we returned to Le Marin and repeatedly pestered Dockwise Yacht Transport
(DYT) about reimbursement for the transport damage. After much pestering,
DYT paid for the shattered solar panels and the repairing the stern
pulpit (but they were not willing to compensate me for my week of
grime recovery work).
Snorkeling in Martinique was mediocre.
Sailing to St. Lucia (Apr
4, 2003 - 14° 23´N, 60° 54´W)
Sailing the 26 miles south to Saint Lucia, s/v Squiz
(TGN) set a new speed record. As we left Martinique we were hit
by a rain squall with 30 knot winds. With heavily reefed sails,
we briefly reached a speed of 8.0 knots. On a good day of sailing,
I expect an average sailing speed of 5 kts. During the passage to
St. Lucia we averaged 6.4 knots (7.36 mph); this was with a second
reef in the main & a reefed jib! (For you land lubbers: a reefed
sail is a sail that has been made smaller. On TGN, with the second
reef the mainsail has about 40% off its possible maximum size.)
The seas were much better than the short, steep waves in the sea
of Cortez; and, the boats motion was fine. I was down below and
Katherine was steering as we approached St. Lucia, sailing at about
7 knots. Suddenly a loud, abrupt, BOOM. Katherine thought something
on the rig broke; from down below I thought the sound was from the
forward part of the boat - as if we hit something. No damage could
be seen from within the boat and we were not taking on water. The
best we could do was inspect the hull after arriving in St. Lucia.
Rodney Bay (Apr 4, 2003 -
15° 05´N, 60° 57´W)
Our first day in Saint Lucia we splurged and spent a day in the
Rodney Bay Marina. We took care of a lot of fresh water chores,
like washing off the salt, doing laundry, and filling the tanks.
Then, we pulled out and anchored in the bay. Overall, Rodney Bay
was a deceptively pleasant introduction to St. Lucia.
I donned mask and flippers and inspected the hull for damage. We
definitely had hit something. A foot below the waterline there was
some yellow paint on the leading edge of the hull. At a depth of
two feet, three square inches of gel coat had been gouged; and the
outer layer of fiberglass in a one inch oval was slightly smashed.
To prevent gradual water absorption into the fiberglass, I performed
and temporary underwater repair by covering the damaged area with
MarineTex epoxy putty.
Marigot Bay (Apr 6, 2003
- 13° 58´N, 61° 01´W)
We set sail for the "big" town of Castries to top off
provisions hunt for food and boat stuff bargains. According to the
Chris Doyle cruising guide, Castries has two potential anchorages.
The first choice turned out to be too crowded with moored party
barges for anyone to anchor. We may have been able to anchor in
the second location, but it was chaotic and noisy with motorboat
and nearby street traffic. No other cruising boats were anchored
anywhere, which is not a good sign. We decided to be sail a little
further south to the "idyllic" Marigot Bay.
Marigot Bay looks delightful while approaching, it is practically
a hurricane hole. Unfortunately, setting the hook the unconsolidated
muck on the bottom was time consuming and frustrating. Although
we were not completely satisfied with our anchoring, we finally
settled down to eat lunch. Then the charter catamarans started trickling
into the bay. The majority of charter people do not possess the
necessary skills to safely cruise. Charter boats zoomed into the
bay, dropped the anchor and chain in a pile, and then backed up
slightly without really setting the anchor. Of course the charterers
don't take into account swinging room or the location of other yacht's
anchors, so after about an hour they normally have to pull up the
hook and move. We asked one charter boat to move because just after
they dropped their anchor and a bunch of chain beside our anchor.
After that we created a float to mark the anchor location (It is
labeled "Squiz"). Often something seems to go wrong in
the anchor locker while charterers pull up their anchor; a few people
are always staring into the anchor locker, looking confused. It
can be entertaining to watch if it is not happening to close to
your own yacht.
Then there are the boat boys. We read about them & tried to
be mentally ready. They want to sell you any number of goods &
services. Some of the boat boys have learned to wait until after
you finish anchoring, but others hang on to the side of your hull
like leaches while you're pulling into the bay and anchoring. Then
there was the local police boarding us. They were polite enough,
but they still haven't learned what fenders are for; and they didn't
give me a chance to get some fenders in place. So when one of the
boat boys violated the no wake zone speed our hull & teak rub
rail took some rubbing against the police boat.
The best part of Marigot Bay was meeting Chichi and John aboard
s/v Pachamama (translation: Mother Earth). They too are wandering
south, and we have really enjoyed making some Caribbean cruising
Soufriere and the Pitons
(Apr 8, 2003 - 13° 51´N, 61° 04´W)
||The dramatic Pitons dominate the scenery of
west central St Lucia.
Diving around Marigot Bay was poor, so we really looked forward
to heading south to the central coast of St Lucia, where the have
set up marine management areas to help preserve the remaining coral
reefs and marine life. Unfortunately, information about the regulations
and fees for boating in this area was limited and conflicting. Fortunately,
when we arrived in the Soufriere Marine Management Area things we
straight forward. To avoid damage to the reefs, mooring balls have
been set up in most bays; you just tie up your boat to any available
mooring. In the evening a park ranger boat makes the rounds and
collects reasonable user fees -- US$15 for two nights or US$20 per
week. If you went to areas deeper than 20' the snorkeling was good,
but not great. And, since the locals are permitted to fish in much
of the Marine Management Area, there are no large fish.
One of the mooring sites was between the Pitons -- two huge (2500'),
steep, formations. Beautiful but windy! Continual gusts, up to 40
knots, swept off the Pitons and buffeted our boat! After an unrestful
night of that nonsense, we were so desperate to get out of there,
we tried to sail southeast to Vieux Fort. This town was a mere 10-mile
journey to windward. We were beating at two kts into the headwind
and current and sizable waves! After basically going nowhere for
a couple hours, we gave up, turned around, and zipped back to a
the least rolly of the moorages near Soufriere After a couple days,
our Mo-Jo returned, and we sailed south to Saint Vincent.
||Katherine's hair properly expresses our frazzled
feeling after attempting the upwind and upcurrent passage to