Monday, January 11, 2010

Off to see the lizard; Destination: Martinique

So, underway we were, and it was late afternoon. We felt the bumpy seas in between Bequia and St Vincent, but by sunset the winds had reduced to about ten knots from the East, and the seas were quite smooth. The headsail was the only sail up for safety in the night and we were moving at five knots, which is our planning speed for passages.

There was a pasta dinner and I stayed on watch until about 2330, when I could not keep my eyes open. I gave the helm to the Spousal Unit and I relaxed on the port side cockpit trying to catch some sleep.

Sometime around 0245, I heard a worried call from herself;
"There's a bright light, it's a ship, and it's bearing down on us!!!"

I shot upright, still asleep and mumbled something like, "Huh?"

She rapidly replied, "There's a ship and it's coming down on us!"

I fumbled with my salt smeared glasses and wiped the sea gunk from my eyes and tried to focus. "Where?"

"Over THERE!"

I looked twice, since I trust that she does indeed see a ship.

"That's the moon". I tried to sound as cool as possible. Like Chester the Cheesy Cheetah.

"Oh... it popped up suddenly, I thought it was a search light."

I laid back down and promptly fell asleep. It seemed like two minutes later, she woke me up to take the watch. Thirty minutes feels like two minutes when you are tired to the bone.

The Autohelm 4000 was on the wheel, calling to me like a siren, begging me to engage her to steer the boat. Wildebeest was halfway down the coast of St Lucia, we had a beautiful full moon on our starboard, lighting the smooth ocean with a light glow. I could see no lights in the water, so I did engage that self steering, and I liked it!

I leaned back against the main sheet winch so I could prop my self up in what appeared to be an upright ready position, and snuck in some two minute cat naps which I punctuated with looking around the horizon for five minutes. No boats? Good. Close eyes.

There never was a time where I felt so comfortable and confident at night in an ocean. This was sailing. Too cool!

30 minutes prior to sunrise, I awoke the relief and went below for a proper couple hour sleep.

Our first overnight passage in the Caribbean, it was indeed all that everyone had ever described.

The approach to Martinique took longer than expected, Fort de France is tucked way up in a safe bay. We directed ourselves to Anse Mitan, and looked for room in the anchorage. There was none. Packed like sardines, they were. A quick motor to Anse A' L'ane was taken and we tucked into the Western part of the anchoring area, just clear of the ferry lane. It took two tries and we got our CQR into the rocky bottom. We dropped our lunch hook using the dinghy, on a 90 degree angle off of the main anchor.

We then dinghied ashore to catch the ferry for Fort De France, intending to check in with Customs and Immigration.

Wasted trip. Customs was closed for Mardi Gras. And the next day and the next. Good thing we are honest citizens!

Anse A L'ane is on the lower center and has a pier stuck in the middle of a half moon shaped harbor;

View Larger Map

Zoom in. It is a sweet little harbor.

If you look on the harbor to the upper right, Anse Mitan, you can see the many little boats anchored in that bay. Way too crowded for me. Anse A L'ane is more exposed to winds, but I like the ease of dinghying to shore. Did I mention the beach with French Tourists? It seems that Anse A L'ane is a popular vacation stop for French families to get away. Le Nid Tropicale being a low cost cottage resort with two restaurants. Half Lobster with Steak cost about $30.00 at the posh restaurant. Burgers and fries served at the beach side cafe. Fun!

Here is a view of Anse a L'ane, looking to the West; Wildebeest is the second boat from the right and you get a view of that little island.

We watched many sunsets in that direction and actually got to see the illusive "Green Flash" many times.

Too bad while walking the beach, I never noticed any of the ladies baking daily in the sun. I was always walking with the Spousal Unit, so there were no other ladies to be noticed by moi while we performed our daily store run.

The food; Gosh. Outstanding!!! After chicken grilled chicken, we were ready for some good food. Even the canned food was superior to the plain fare of Bequia.


Buck said...

The food; Gosh. Outstanding!

That's the ONE thing about the French you cannot possibly diss: their cuisine. And they've taken it with them throughout the world, too... to everyone's benefit.

So I guess my foreboding feeling was misplaced, eh?

Barco Sin Vela II said...

"So I guess my foreboding feeling was misplaced, eh?"

Yep. We had ridden the 'beest hard on that previous ocean passage and acquired considerable boating skills and an acute sense of risk management. Plus the Morgan 43 was running 4.0, doing everything it was designed to do.

But the food and wine was the real value, there in Martinique. I will return to anything French run for those reasons.

Imagine canned Duck Wings. Oh yes...

There is some excitement ahead, but not in the sense of real danger. Just amusement.