Saturday, November 19, 2016

Making tracks to Martinique

Just four days of almost perfect sailing saw us make a quick transit from Grenada to Martinique.

We said our goodbyes to friends in Grenada, but time was marching on and we had to leave.

Marie, Codey & Cathy - just missing Allen in this picture.  Wonderful young friends who are on the verge of making their marks on this world!  Can't wait to see what they get up to.

Day 1:  Mt. Hartman to Carriacou (43 nm).  Wind almost the whole way right on the nose, we took the western (leeward) coast and didn't even bother taking the sail out of the sailbag.  We hoped once we cleared the northern tip of the big island we might see some wind, but it just stayed right on the nose.  There was a big weather cell sitting just to the east of St. Vincent and thankfully it didn't move into the area but the effect was the northerly wind.  At least it was only blowing 10-15 knots and the seas were nice and calm too.  We arrived just in time to clear out of customs for an early morning departure the next day and to fill up all our diesel and gas jerry cans with duty-free fuel - the cheapest in the eastern Caribbean!

Day 2:  Carriacou to Bequia (41 nm).  Sailing through the Grenadines, the wind came round to the beam and we saw 8.2 knots SOG at one point!  The only excitement we encountered was when the reef in the sail decided to come undone.  Even though the winds were such that we could have deployed the full sail, we often find the boat more balanced and she sails better with the first reef, even in winds at 15 knots.  This day however, we didn't bother to try to reattach the reef and instead put the full sail up, and promptly lost a half knot of speed.  We had removed the sail for our time in the boatyard (required by the yard) and apparently when putting everything back, someone (ahem, me) obviously forgot how to tie the right knot - back to basics I guess.  All was fixed when we arrived in Bequia and is now performing quite nicely.

Sailing the Grenadines - pretty sweet.

Bequia treated us to a dramatic showing with the sunset.

Day 3:  Bequia to Rodney Bay (74 nm).  Up at 3am for an early morning departure under an almost full moon.  We had to motor to the top of St. Vincent and then again hit great conditions with almost flat seas across the channel to St. Lucia.

An almost full moon played hide & seek behind our sail.

In the early morning with the sun rising behind St. Vincent and the moon setting over the Caribbean Sea we had this intriguing lighting effect looking west.
Here's an interesting little study in perspective.  We were tracking up the leeward shore of St. Vincent with this monohull who left Bequia with us.  From our viewpoint, they were sticking awfully close to shore and we were hanging out a bit trying to pick up some wind.  However, when we checked their AIS signal on the chart plotter they had plenty of room.  Just goes to show how big those hills really are!

A bit blurry but Marinade appears to be almost on the shore.

Their signal on AIS (the little triangle) shows they are actually closer to us than to land.

Rounding the top of St. Vincent with barely a breath of wind, and then BAM!  20 knots on a perfect beam reach.

Early morning drama with the sunrise behind St. Vincent.
Approaching St. Lucia from the south provides beautiful views of the many moods of the Pitons.

I still maintain they look like cat ears in the early morning haze.

After a dry crossing, rain showers ahead.

There's an anchorage between the Pitons - bet they're getting wet today!  I love the twin 'smoking' volcano tops.

Almost obliterated in the intensity of the rain.

And then the sun came out and the whole fury was done.
Day 4:  Rodney Bay to Ste. Anne (25 nm)  With our early start on the previous day, we lazed around a little, let the sun rise, used up the last of the data on our Grenada SIM card (it doesn't work in Martinique) and then picked up the anchor to head north on a short little hop to the south end of Martinique.  Once again, another beautiful sail and amazingly few fish pots as we approached the anchorage at Ste. Anne.  When last here in July we had our pick of spots to anchor, now the anchorage is filling up and there are hundreds of boats here.  We found a nice sandy spot right between other fellow cruisers and here we will rest for a while.

Phew - what a trip and probably the best three days of sailing we have had in a very long time.  183 nm in 29 hours which is an average of 6.3 knots - very happy with this!

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