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There and back again

March 28th, 2009 · 1 Comment

A few days on our own, a quiet hogmanay in Marin, and we take off walking around the bottom end of Martinique, great walk around the coast, passing some of the best beaches from the sheltered west coast to the great Atlantic side with all the swell rolling in.

Landscape changing, from beaches with sand, to beaches with large pieces of coral. Dragonflies, butterflies, and lots of birds to watch, we had planned to stop in a village half way around for lunch, but the village was just a group of houses, good job I had put in a few snacks, and lots of water. I was very happy to find that the old legs didn’t hurt too much from our walk as we hadn’t done much walking for the last month or so. Mind you it was very good to sit in the hotel in St Annes for a drink.

So having gone south from Martinique for Christmas, we decide to see if we can sail north, Antigua being our destination. The first day was a short sailing day as we didn’t leave until lunch time. I think the delay may have been due to having an excellent evening with Catherine, Mike and friends. I can’t possible tell you what entertained us or made us laugh but a good night was had. Diamond Rock

is the volcanic islet three kilometres off shore, between Marin and Fort de France. It’s well known as a great diving area with violet coral, multicoloured sponges and grottoes. I should also add it was quite an important place in 1804, where the British claimed the rock as a battleship HMS Diamond Rock, unsinkable but not undrinkable, as it was used to fend off French vessels for seventeen months, then the French sent over a rum laden ship to the isolated mariners who drunk the stuff and the French captured the island.

So off we went up to Case Pilote, a small anchorage perfect for our one night stop. Next day up to Les Saintes

good wind NE 14- 15 knots, so great average speed, passing Dominica en route, the gap between the islands allows the Atlantic sea and wind to shoot though giving extra speed excitement and salt spray!

Les Saintes (French) small dry and steep with red and brown cliffs. By night, they are quiet, by day the ferry and cruise liners arrive and offload their passengers.

We decided to take a walk up to the fort and realised how dry and steep the island really was. At the fort we had an amazing view all around, we watched iguanas saunter around the gardens turning and facing us for a photo, which they knew we must want to take, they move on a few steps, look back giving us another chance at the photo. I’m sure they must be in an actors union.

Following night into Deshaies Guadelope, where among other things you find homemade coconut ice cream.

On again in the morning towards Antigua. Salt sea flying, and the warm sun evaporating the water, leaving a nice salt deposit, everywhere. Falmouth Harbour, Antigua, large anchorage with marina and some really enormous yachts, I dread to think how much it costs to run some of them, I guess if you have to think about it, then you can’t afford them! Good spot to be in though as David has a few jobs on his list to do and there are yacht services of every description all within a half mile radius. David is in his element, job list, time to get on with them, suppliers around every corner, lots of other interesting sailors to talk to and best of all he can make a mess without being told off as I’m away home for a couple of weeks. So over to David.

Falmouth Harbour, Antigua must be the one of the best places in the world to get maintenance done on your boat. Many of the superyachts are kept in Antigua and so all of the skills base needed to keep these boats running is close at hand. In fact everybody is a short dinghy ride away. Two jobs were high of the list – we had ordered a new hatch to replace the one that lets through the occasional drip when pounding to windward. OK at the occasional drip but the weak point looked like it could get worse. Peter from Seafresh UK was very complementary about the skills of the watermaker services ltd in Antigua. Julian, Sammy and Karen run an excellent shop here.

You can see Giselle through their open window. Karen told me to appear at 08:30 to discuss with Julian. Bring the pump in was the quick conclusion. I had it in by 11:30. Sammy had it all stripped and rebuilt by mid afternoon. I watched the strip down but he was so fast I think I will struggle to repeat what he did.

The engine is always capable of making noises that worry you. The Hurth gearbox is quite noisy so I wanted a Hurth expert to confirm Giselle’s was OK. Seagull Services were 100 yds up Crack Alley, I’m afraid that is Crack as in drugs but you are OK in daylight. Flemming is hard to pin down on the phone. Once I understood he was a face to face person I got immediate service by turning up at his workshop. Gearbox OK, but a list of things to check, which included the engine bearers they were the source of quite a bit of the noise. The going rate for the labour is on a par with Europe but the speed and knowledge is much better. To have all the experts so close was amazing. To finish the thanks, Antigua Rigging did a great job of splitting the genoa cars to insert the new sheaves.

I arrived back to a very tidy boat, just a shame David was half an hour late picking me up!! I did however bump into Catherine and Mike, while waiting so I was quite happy really. After unpacking and getting up to date with the news, we devised a plan, which was instantly changed when Catherine asked us over for supper. The joy of making plans is that you can also change them, you just have to work out the consequences, for us, our delayed departure time it meant that we needed to sail non stop down to St Lucia to be in time to pick up Rebecca from the airport, on Sunday. We left Thursday morning and arrived Rodney Bay Friday lunchtime, (180 miles) anchored, checked in, shopped, left next day to get down to Vieux Fort for teatime (34 miles). So we had plenty of time, but the journey could have taken a lot longer if there had been no wind, although we could motor its never quite so much fun. Sunday morning at Vieux Fort and we organise a taxi to take us the short distance to the airport and back again, everything it the town is closed except the petrol station. This is the less touristy part of St Lucia, not many boats come here either because the last 12 miles is always to windward!

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Tags: Atlantic Leg

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Andrew // Mar 28, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    a quiet hogmanay in Marin

    hmm… that’s quite true is it 😛

    I got a phone call at 1130pm in Edinburgh from you with you playing ‘auld lang syne’ on the concertina and Mum singing! Not a bad effort for an instrument you’d only had the seven days since Christmas -_^

    Hope the batteries come soon and so you can head off to Panama.

    Speak soon