Dalton W. Williams
Sailing to Bequia with Stops in Martinique and St Lucia
Sailing south has been a learning experience. This is the first time I have sailed Quietly any distance single handed in rough conditions. True wind speed between 22 and 27 knots with apparent wind speed between 25 and 33 Knots.
The winds are what they call "reinforced trades" here and were kicking up seas from 6 to 8 feet with a few 10 footers and every 5 minutes or so a 12 foot wave would come along. The wind would occasionally break the tops of the 12 footers and three times I had a wave break on the bow and the water land directly in the cockpit. I looked like a drowned rat soaked from head to toe. The water was warm but with an average 25 Knot (that is about 30 mph) wind I was freezing. Just about the time I would begin to dry out in the sun, another would come along so I was dripping wet for most of the day.
Saint Pierre has a very interesting history as a city that was totally wiped out in 1907 by a volcanic eruption. By the time I anchored on the narrow shelf just off the shore of Saint Pierre it was dusk and I was tired so I took a warm shower to get the salt off and opened a can of soup and a can of Vienna Sausages for supper and went to bed.
In keeping with the tradition of catastrophes at Saint Pierre, arriving at Saint Pierre, Martinique, I forgot that I had closed the exhaust seacock for the generator and started it causing the exhaust muffler to burst. I should know better! It should be a simple fix but it may have to wait until I get to Granada. I decided that perhaps it would be best if I got the muffler fixed sooner so I formulated a plan to sail to the huge marina complex at Ste. Anne in the morning. It should be easy to get it repaired there.
I awoke at 6:30 the following morning and was underway by 7:30 after breakfast. There was little wind when I started out sailing along the west coast of Martinique, but as I approached Fort De France (about 2/3's the way down the west coast of Martinique) the wind picked up as I crossed the bay. At least by now I am becoming accustomed to the wind and trimmed the sails for it and made good speed across the bay and on to the bottom of the island where I was to turn east to get to the marina complex at Ste. Anne.
As I rounded the corner I was going directly into 25 knot winds and into short choppy 10 foot waves! The boat slowed down to 2.5 knots fighting against the wind and the seas. It was going to take me three hours to go the last eight miles to the Ste. Anne marina! I thought that if I just turned back to my previous heading it would take me to St. Lucia, only 21 miles away and at a speed of 7 knots. My choice was 8 miles in 3 hours or turn back south and sail 21 miles in the same length of time, in better conditions and be another day ahead. Easy decision, St. Lucia here I come!!!
Thus I never went ashore or checked into Martinique. My only time there was anchored outside Saint Pierre overnight. It will be several weeks before I get to Grenada and in the mean time I will have to run the main engine every day to charge the batteries and cool the refrigerator/freezer.
So, here I am, on my way to Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia., the winds are back up. Today like most of the days I have been sailing south, I have seen very few other sailboats out. It seams that most people are just staying put waiting for calmer winds. As I said, this is great experience and I am really learning how well Quietly likes to pick up here heals and go in these winds. At one point, I actually saw 8.07 on the knot meter!!!
I checked in to Saint Lucia at the Rodney Bay Marina. I did not realize it but today, being May 1st, is a holiday. However, the Customs offices were open and when not checking me in were watching a cricket match on TV. Everything else around the marina was closed so I went back to Quietly stopping along the way to visit with other boats. As sunset approached I was invited me to join them for sundowners and were joined by people from three other boats as well. A real Party!
The following morning I took laundry in, went to the bank, and then to the internet cafe to post an update to the this web site. Then shortly after 2:00 in the afternoon I picked up the anchor and sailed south to Marigot Harbor for the night.
Marigot Harbor Saint Lucia - Perhaps the most beautiful place I have been!
Marigot Harbor is perhaps the most beautiful place I have been with Quietly. It is a tiny harbor with a winding entrance such that when I anchored and looked out at the setting sun, I was looking through palm trees on a beach and across that the sun setting on the ocean. There is no other word to describe the Harbor but charming. It is surrounded by high hills lush with green trees down to the waters edge with charming restaurants and a lodge built out on stilts. This is definitely a place to visit again!!!
With Mike's 60th birthday coming in three days, it was time to start my journey south again. Next stop the Bequia!