Saturday, 27 April 2013

Roseau, Dominica (29 March to 4 April)

The passage to Dominica wasn’t the most relaxing of sails.  We got away at 8.30 and waved goodbye to the guys on Spirit of Argo.  The wind was fluky in the lee of Martinique, in strength and direction, but it was calm and we sailed as much as we could.  We took some photos of a larger boat which passed close by as we came near the north end of the island.  We were becalmed for a while and started the engine, but we could see a line in the water ahead where there was definitely more wind.  Passing it, we heeled well over. Getting up on deck to put the third reef in was slightly dramatic, but with less sail we felt much more under control.  Even so, we were still beating straight into a gusty force 5 to 6, with a beam swell.  Not exactly the sailing you dream about. Fortunately, as is common, the wind came round to the east a bit more as we got further out, and the last few hours heading towards Scotts Head on the south end of Dominica were a fast beam reach – much better!  We had some strong gusts off the hills as we approached, then the wind died almost completely in the lee of the island.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Martinique (17 to 29 March)

French Caribbean!
We’d been hoping to make Saint Anne our first port of call in Martinique, following recommendations from a couple of people.  It’s just round the corner from the big yachting centre of Marin, in the south east of the island, and promised a pleasant beach anchorage with an attractive village ashore.  Sadly the weather had other ideas: as we came out of the lee of Pigeon Island at the beginning of the 25 mile passage, we quickly decided it would be too much of a slog against the wind and the waves. We could have done it, but it just didn’t seem worth the discomfort.  Contrary to the popular image of Caribbean sailing, it can be really quite rough and windy between the islands. Fortunately most of the passages are day sails, and it’s great to be able to see your destination when you set off (on a clear day, at least).  We were only a few miles out from Saint Lucia when the genoa suddenly unrolled, pulling open the snap shackle holding the tack.  The furling line is a bit stiff and came off the cleat somehow.  Rather than messing around on the foredeck, the best option seemed to be to furl it in and continue under main and engine towards our Plan B destination, Grande Anse, a little way up the west coast.  So much for what Don Street describes as one of the finest sails in the Caribbean!