Thursday, January 21, 2010

Off to Dominica

After having fun in Martinique, we felt the need to cross some more islands off the list.

Before we were able to leave, there had been some real big winds and choppy seas. Our anchors were dug in well, so I spent an entire day just getting the anchors pulled up.

Most boats have a device called a windlass, it uses mechanical strength to wind up the chain and rope on the anchor rode. We only had the Mk 1 Mod 0 Me to pull them up. The first anchor came up so easily, I found that it had not been holding anything. The second anchor, the one I almost carelessly tossed over the side was the one doing the actual holding. In fact, I could not pull it up. I tied the line to the forward cleat and tried to use the mass of the Wildebeest to break it free.


I didn't want to cut the anchor free. It was a "Fortress 37", and these things run about $300.00. No way would I just toss that away.

There was swimming to be done; I donned my fins and mask and dove. The anchor was too deep for me to freedive, so I had to use a boat hook and grab the line which was on the bottom. I couldn't even see the anchor.

The line was grabbed up, I passed the line to SWWBO, and we pulled the line along until I found the obstruction. A coral head. I dived back into the water and grabbed the other side and cut the line at the head. We pulled the anchor back aboard and got underway for a fuel stop at the Fort De France downtown. After fuel and water we went back and re anchored without incident.

Reveille was held at 0400, we pulled the anchor up and left Anse a L'ane for good. We set sail and headed North for Dominica.

There are no natural harbors, so we hoped to anchor in the last small indentation on the North end. It was a beautiful day to sail and we saw some puffer fish, a sleeping whale and the ever present dolphins. It was a great six hour sail!

We anchored off the Northwest end, by Portsmouth. We were one of the two or three boats there. The holding was so-so, due to all the sand having been scoured out of the harbor the year before by hurricane Lenny.

It took a couple of attempts, but we finally got the hook embedded and I went ashore to sign in. There was a plan to go ashore again at 0900 for a trip to the parrot park up in the mountains. Nice island, wouldn't mind returning, but the weather made us make an unscheduled departure.

Returning aboard from the check in process, we barbecued some chicken and had a couple bottles of wine with dinner. We watched the beautiful sun set behind us and we played cribbage until about 2100.

About 0300, we were awakened by the worst rolling we had ever done at anchor. It was like a hundred power boats were flying through the anchorage, tossing incredible wakes which seemed like they were going to capsize us!

The wind shifted from the normal East to an abnormal Southwest, which brought swells and rolly seas. We tried to just sleep through it but it was no use. We tried to pull up the anchor, but it was jammed in some rocks. Not again!

I muscled it and finally used the weight of the boat to yank that hook back up. Running forward, I managed to grab the line and anchor before we got dug in again. The anchor was bent, ruined on the blades. I actually wrecked a danforth anchor!

We secured our gear, and with no planning we headed South with a following sea. It looked like either Point A Pitre (center of the butterfly shape island) or Basse Terre, the Southwest side of the landmass.

It was pretty choppy as we tried to figure out the destination. As we passed Isle de Saints, the water settled down and the day cleared to the normal warm and sunny state.

The fun meter had slipped a little, but we were still enjoying the event.

We snuck into a little cove with a marina. There was no one to answer our radio hails on channel 16, so in we went. There was one berth open, I boldly pulled in and tied up. This meant we had to go bow first and secure to the dock and I had to swim (yuck!) another line to a mooring ball behind us. It was a modified Med Moor. We secured ourselves and I had to put some adapters on our power cable and finally we were secured and for the first time in months, we had electrical power.

Remarkably, we found ourselves on a Saturday in a marina and there was absolutely no one about!

About six hours later, a young man walked up and asked if we spoke Anglais. He introduced himself as the owner of the boat next to us on the left, his name is "Pierre-Louis D'amoiseau".

I gladly shook this friendly hand and we asked if we were ok being docked in that spot. He replied to the affirmative, "Should be no problem, shecky inn day after tomorrow..."

He went onboard his boat and made a scene of cleaning and scrubbing, but finally he succumbed to his curiosity and came over to ask where we had come from. We offered him cool beer and invited him aboard for wine and cheese. It got brutal, as we had a little boat party on the spot!

We made quite a mess and listened to Jimmy Buffett and Bob Marley to the wee hours.

Pierre kept trying to decline the offer of food and wine, but he failed.

He is an insurance office owner in Basse Terre, and he insisted on being our host in Guadeloupe for the duration of our visit.

Wonderful friend, and we are still in contact.


Buck said...

So... I'm having trouble with the chronology. IIRC you celebrated New Years just before you hit the first of the Caribbean islands, right? What time is it now?

And... my usual: What a LIFE!

Barco Sin Vela II said...

Our visit to Dominica and Guadeloupe was April. We had been in the Caribbean for about four months at this point. I need to look at the logbook for precise dates.

The visit to Guadeloupe was only about a week, the marina wanted the berth back.

Barco Sin Vela II said...

I think you are thinking of the Mardi Gras celebration in Martinique a couple weeks prior.