10 November 2008

From Bequia to les Saintes

Monday, November 10, 2008

We're steadily making our way north to the BVIs. Kristen is due on s/v Felicia on November 24 so we've pointed the compass north and have been sailing and motoring for the past few days.

Thursday: Bequia to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia; approx. 65 nm or so.
This long day started out with a great two hours sail between Bequia and the southern end of St. Vincent. Once we got behind the big island (pay attention, you'll start to notice a pattern here), all the wind died and we fired up the engine and motorsailed. At the northern tip of St. Vincent, the wind piped up again, we sailed for a while until the wind died again. We motored for a few hours behind St. Lucia until we dropped the anchor in the northern bay, Rodney Bay. We arrived after dark but the bay is wide open so we had no problem anchoring. It's always tricky though trying to gauge your distance from shore at night. Depth perception is not at its best.

We hiked over to Hope Bay in Bequia; a long, steep hike but worth it: the beach was deserted and wild.

Sunset in Bequia.

We're nearing the end of the rainy season in the islands so all the forests and land is unbelieveably green and lush. This is the leeward (western) side of St. Vincent.

Squalls abound: this produced a gorgeous rainbow in between the Pitons on St. Lucia.

A cruise ship leaving St. Lucia at sunset.

Friday: Rodney Bay to St. Pierre, Martinique; approx. 45 nm or so.
Again, we started the day with a gorgeous sail between St. Lucia and the southern tip of Martinique. Once behind the island the winds were gusty so we tried and tried to keep sailing but ended up motoring. There were quite a few squalls though which gave us wind so we ended up sailing for most of the day. Once we arrived in St. Pierre, Hans motored up to the large town dock, Kristen jumped off the boat and ran to the grocery store to get a fresh baguette, chocolate, cookies, cold beers and some camembert. Welcome back to the French islands! The town dock itself took quite a beating from Hurricane Omar and most of the wooden planking had been ripped right out of the concrete.

A squall in the mountains of Martinique. Hopefully in the next few years we'll be able to spend more time in Martinique; it seems like a really nice island. First we need to learn some French!

St. Pierre, Martinique with Mt. Pelee in the background. This is the volcano that erupted and destroyed the town about 100 years ago. The town is coming back to life and seems like a great place to live. The supermarket has everything you need and we awoke to a busy produce market on Saturday morning.

Saturday: St. Pierre to Portsmouth, Dominica; approx. 50nm or so.
No wind. Well, maybe a little. Shall we try to sail. Okay. ummm...the wind is dying. Maybe not. Okay, turn the engine on. Look, here comes some wind. Unfurl the jib. Well, maybe not so much wind after all. And so it went all the way from St. Pierre to Portsmouth. However Saturday was the start of our fishing success. Just south of Dominica, we hooked our first mahi-mahi. Well, we hooked probably our fourth mahi-mahi, but we actually got our first mahi-mahi onboard! We were really excited, but it was sad at the same time. Mahi-mahi (also called dorado and dolphin), are beautiful fish: flourescent yellow and green with a bright blue strip across the top of their backs; but the minute they start dying, they lose all their color.

Sunday: Portsmouth to Les Saintes; approx. 18 nm.
Needing both water and fuel, we decided to take a break from traveling and stay in Portsmouth for a day. We contacted the boat vendor "Providence" on the VHF and he came over at 8AM to help us get water and fuel. It seems you never can learn the lesson: "set a price first" too many times. With one trip to get water and another trip to take us ashore so we could go hiking, Martin was a great water taxi. (We had our dinghy deflated on deck and didn't want to inflate it just for one day.) He also was happy to point us in the direction of a hike we could do without a guide, something we couldn't find when we were in Dominica last June. Unfortunately, all our good feelings toward Martin quickly dissipated when he asked for $80 EC for the two water taxi trips. That converts to $30 US! I was thinking we would pay around $10 US total, around 5 bucks per trip. After lots of grumbling, we paid him $48 EC, weighed anchor and sailed to Les Saintes. The sail cleared our heads and cheered us up: we averaged 6 knots on a beam reach and hooked a black fin tuna just south of Les Saintes!

we hiked through a rainforest section of the woods in Dominica. This picture was taken close to noon, but the vegetation is so dense that it was really dark in the woods.

A cool river to jump in and refresh after a steep hike.

This nasty looking guy was sitting next to us while we looked at the vista.

Hans admiring the view over Portsmouth Harbour in Dominica.

Kristen happily smiling as she holds up the tuna (and steering at the same time...the talent is awe-inspiring!).

Hans acting as rail meat as we sail into the Saintes.

The scenery of the Saintes is stunning: red rocks and green hillsides that go steep down to the water.

Monday: day off! Les Saintes; approx. 4 statue miles by foot
Today we stayed in the Saintes, had croissants and cappucino for breakfast; went on a tour of the impressive fort; and lounged on the boat reading and swimming. It's been really nice to take a day off after all the traveling.