It’s time to make our way north. Yesterday we had a fun sail the few miles up the coast from St. George’s to the dive site at Dragon Bay and back. Now we’re all ready, pumped, excited to become real sailors and do some sailing. It was a hard beat to weather, Makai zipped right along with the waves pounding on the hull. The normal method for sailing to a destination that is located in the direction the wind is blowing from is to tack back and forth gaining a few miles each time. As we tacked away from the island, the wind and waves increased and Eric decided he needed to tie the kayak down better. Unfortunately, a fender was left untied. It didn’t take but a few waves and gusts of wind for the fender to fly off the deck. Luckily one of the kids saw it go, so we proceeded with a man overboard drill. One person is the spotter, keeps his eye on the target, the skipper starts the engines up and whips the boat around. After a few passes, I managed to grab it with the boat hook.
The ride got worse and worse. I guess we had some confidence from the previous day so no one took their seasick medicine. That was a big mistake. Three of the crew barfed and the fourth really wanted to. The captain has the advantage of being in charge and having the best seat in the house. Those two factors greatly reduced his susceptibility to sea sickness, so he didn’t really notice conditions deteriorating. Finally, we tacked back toward the island and after 4 hours only gained 10 miles. With 20 more miles to go, we decided to crank up those engines and power straight Carriacou before the sun went down and the crew mutinied.
The waves NEVER look as big in pictures as they feel in real time.
Carriacou is a little island about 10 miles long and 5 miles wide. The anchorage off the little town of Hillsborough didn’t seem to afford much protection from the crazy wind we had out to sea. The next morning we moved to the moorings off of Sandy Island which is a marine park, it was windy there too.
Sandy Island is just a strip of sand. In recent times, all the trees on the island died and the beach started washing away. During Hurricane Ivan coral was ripped out of the water and piled along the beach which saved the beach and created tide pools. These coral piles protect the island from washing away. Locals have planted some trees and plants to help the island hold itself together as well.
We all had a great time on the beach. This is a destination for the charter boats, I met some ladies from Los Angeles who hired a catamaran and a skipper, it looked like fun for a vacation.
When we weren’t splashing around at the beach, Eric and I were discussing how we were going to make the next 120 mile passage to Martinique without repeating the issues we had on the trip up to Carriacou. We looked at wind and wave maps, read the sailing instructions on our charts, read from “Passages South” by Bruce Van Sant, and in the end decided that we weren’t any more prepared than before our research. First of all, our three weather reports had conflicting information on wind speed and direction, so that was no help. Then Passages South seemed to say we should hug the coast then follow the curve of the wind as it shoots between the islands. That might work, but the small islands of the Grenadines didn’t seem to offer much protection from the wind and waves, and in order to hug the coast we would have to motor into the wind.
Oh, well, let’s just go now, the conditions looked as good as anytime. We went into town, Eric checked us out of the country with Immigration and customs and the kids and I tried to use up the rest of our Eastern Caribbean currency. We got 5 loaves of delicious french bread, a big bag of apples, Top Ramen, at the bank changed the rest of our EC dollars to Euros and went back to the boat to prepare for our 120 mile journey.
Yuck, that’s all I can say is yuck. I guess the good news is that we made 120 miles in 18 hours on a starboard tack. The boat did 8-9 kts on a double reefed main and handkerchief of a jib all night long. The invisible waves in the dark would hit the side of the boat and ker-sploosh over the bow and sometimes into the cockpit. More good news is that we were pretty warm, the bad news is that we were very wet and tired. More bad news is that we ended up 25 miles out to sea and had to bash our way to the island or tack all day long, so we bashed. Everyone kept pumping themselves up on Dramamine, NO ONE COMPLAINED! WOW! We saw a lot of flying fish and even caught one in a cleat and I found another under the cockpit table. Now that the passage is over, everyone is happily getting settled in. A few nice rain storms came and cleaned the salt off the boat, Eric made some water and did some salty laundry in our little washing machine. The kids and I took Topaz to the beach so as not to bother Eric’s work, he said it was a good thing too. Roy saw a really cool iguana in a tree, we heard a drum marching band practicing, a great teriyaki chicken dinner, early to bed
Eric and Roy calculated the proportion to dilute muriatic acid using fractions and estimates to clean the heat exchanger for the refrigeration I got the sisters caught up on some homework, then we all went to town. We’re anchored off of Fort De France, the capitol. Martinique is a French Island and, yes, everyone speaks French. I’ve read that they are on a European economy and that the town is booming.
First stop is the playground in front of the dock. Next stop is McDonalds. Yes, when the crew heard there were Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets in town, they were ready. Everyone ordered up and hours later were still talking about how great their lunch was. It’s a good thing, because 40 Euros = $52 US dollars and that’s how much 4 extra value meals and a happy meal costs here. I did find that they have wifi, so I’m writing this post on my computer at the boat and will go to McDonalds in the morning and try to post it to the blog.
We wandered up and down all the streets lined with shops. Lucky for us, today is Sunday and everything was closed, whew saved a bunch of money there.
On our walk around town we saw a few more Iguanas, church services at St. Louis Cathedral, a really neat library building, the Naval Facility at the Fort, and shopping possibilities for tomorrow.
If this post isn’t long enough, here’s a bit more. While I was typing the above text, we heard the drums again. In a flash the sisters and I were in the dinghy to go over and check out the show. There was a troop of dancers rocking out followed by drummers. They moved from one location to the next doing this dance and drum routine. We could hear them for hours after we returned to the boat.