Posted by: catamarantwooceans | July 13, 2008

May 2007- Dominica to Grenada

May 1st – After having visited Indian River I looked forward for the rain forest and Milton Fall trip. Alex was supposed to come at 0900. Before that I had the experience of the boat vendors, guys coming to you standing on an old surf board that they paddle along and trying to sell something or offer some sort of service. A polite “No, thanks” was enough and they went on to other boats, some of which did employ them.

Boat boy

Boat boy

Alex took us, that’s Steve and John who were on the river trip yesterday and me, ashore where the boss, Alexis was waiting. We drove to the forest and it was everything I could wish for. A marked trail leads you through the forest. You are surrounded by ferns, bushes and trees that rise high and make a canopy through which just a little sunlight penetrates.

Forest

Forest

Alexis is telling us about the trees and the animals and birds that live among them.
Some of the trees are simply huge and have interesting shaped roots.

Tree trunk

Tree trunk

After walking for about 90 minutes in the forest we drive to the Fall. The way to it passes in a farm and it is very interesting to observe the way they grow the different crops. There are bananas, grapefruit, yams and others that I’ve never heard of before. The 100 foot fall is a sight to behold!

The Fall

The Fall

All in all a very satisfying trip!
Back at the boat I am preparing to go to the Cruise Ship dock where I can fuel (tax free) and fill the water tanks.All went well until I wanted to leave. The wind pushes the boat onto the dock and while I wanted to wait for a lull the security man, trying to be helpful released my bow line. I should have stopped him but didn’t and worked with the engines to get away. The aft part of the yacht squeezed against the dock’s huge fender and the result were two bent stanchions and a broken Dan Buoy. So far for saving money on duty free fuel! Alex, who came with the laundry said here was somebody in town who did fiberglass work and will be able to repair the Dan Buoy. He took it and brought it back fixed later that evening. A few word about Dominica: this is something else! Unspoilt nature is evident all around you, breadfruit and mango trees grow in peoples yards in the city. You just leave the road and find yourself in wild, thick wood. The people are friendly and generally helpful. A funny thing happened as I was walking in the “main” street one evening, two elderly matrons came head on and as they passed I suddenly felt I am being pinched on my behind! Actually saw the culprit pull her hand back! Decided to take it as a compliment rather than sexual harassment… Interesting place, sure to give it more time when i sail north in November.

May 2nd – Today target is St. Pierre in Martinique, 52 miles away. So I get up early and initially it seems that this will be a motoring day. Three yacht left ahead of me and I get a preview of what the wind is doing. In short – we had everything between 5 and 30 knots. My muscles are aching from winching halyards and sheets. It was especially bad at the southern point of Dominica. But reaching the lee of Martinique the sea calmed and so did I, dropped anchor at 1700, did this update and rushed to customs! Oh! Forgot we are in a part of France. Custom services are relegated to an Internet Cafe called “L’Escapade”. And this is what they did on Friday afternoon – Escaped. Closed shop at 1400. Actually, it seems all town closed at 1400. I walk around a little bit, looking for  Gallic/caribbean charm but did not find it. The supermarket did not have Mozzarella cheese and ruined my plans for first course. Never mind, chicken and spaghetti will be good enough.

May 3rd – The church bells woke me up at 0500. At 0555 I was out motoring with flat sea and very light wind. The bay of Fort De France funnelled the air to make some wind  that was nice and moderate. This started to look as the miracle, perfect day I was so hoping for. Well, of course it didn’t stay like that too long but when the conditions got boisterous all I had to do was put in the first reef and that settled the matter. Sailing fast, waves not too big, in short -fun! At 1330 I reached Rodney Bay With the intention of entering the marina and having a local company take a look at my fridge which is not cooling as it should. Rodney Bay is  big and protected, the marina is situated in a lagoon that opens before you as you enter through a narrow canal. I call the dock master on VHF explaining that I am alone on board and need assistance. He directs me to a place that I have to go into and will need to tie ropes from the bows to two poles. Just imagine having to helm the boat, throw ropes to the man on the dock, run forward 11 meters, tie one bow hurry to the other side 6 meters away hoping that the boat will not move when a 15 knots wind is blowing. I can’t do that! I try to have him understand my position but the man only shrugs, doesn’t seem to care one bit. “If you can’t help me I will not stay at the marina, is that what you want?” Another shrug. O.K! Out I go and anchor “for free”.
                  

Marina no

Marina no

Anchorage yes

Anchorage yes

A phone call to the refrigeration technician confirms that he will come tomorrow. No need for the marina!    A call from outside announces the arrival of the fruit vendor. I buy some bananas, mango and papaya and pay too much knowingly for the picturesque performance.

Veg man

Veg man

May 4th – Charles, the technician check my fridge and says he’ll come again at 1300 to fill refrigerant gas. This gives me time to walk to the Pigeon Island national park, serving the double function of physical exercise and playing tourist. The way there is through the village of Gros Islet, where a street party with drinks, barbecue and general merriment will take place in the evening. I’ll sure go!

Pigeon island

Pigeon island

Pigeon Island was a British fort in their war against the French in the 18th century and was an observation and signal point looking towards Martinique. Of course they had guns there too!

The Fort

The Fort

Fridge fixed and cooling some beers and coke and when evening comes I put on my “going out” clothes and march to Gros Islet. I get there at about 1900 and the place is empty… Just a few street food vendor preparing for the future. I enter a bar and ask the bartender about the party. “Oh, that starts around nine, ten o’clock”. I’m not going to wait that long, so – a beer and some street food – and back to the boat.

May 5th – Started out at 0630 and it took a lot of time to disassemble the anchors arrangement. The bottom in the anchorage is soft mud so in addition to the regular anchor I put down the CQR. Taking them out was messy, I had to take the bucket and rinse them so as not to fill the hold with mud. After that it was a really pleasant reach along the coast in flat water, passing some lovely places that I labeled as “to be visited in November” like Marigot bay and the area of the Pitons. Those are two very steep and high hills (2400 and 2500 feet) – very impressive.

The Pitons

The Pitons

After passing the Pitons the wind changed and was, of course, from the direction of today’s goal – Vieux Fort – at the southern tip of St. Lucia. I didn’t mind, had enough time, so why not tack out to sea and fish? As the island receded behind I saw that this tack will not be very good. The changing wind favoured short tacks near the shore. But we are fishing! I started the tack when we were 8.41 miles to Vieux Fort and when I came back from the other tack I was 6.41 miles from it… Two miles in two and a half hours… But we were FISHING! In reality I didn’t catch any fish and ended motoring these last 6 miles. On shore I saw something that looked like an inverted boat. Through the binoculars it looked like a yacht, stuck on rocks near the beach. I thought I saw some people there but it did not seem to be a recent event. The men there moved slowly and seemingly were trying to salvage things from it.

Wreck #1

Wreck #1

Another mile and another wreck! this coast must be dangerous…

Wreck #2

Wreck #2

I reached Vieux Fort, peeked into the fishing harbour and verified that there was no place for me there and anchored at the  recommended site, near the entrance. Dinghy down, let’s hit the town!I hit the town and for a moment I thought it was going to hit back. Frankly, I felt insecure walking there by myself.  Saturday afternoon and it seemed that everybody was out on the street. Loudspeakers blared music in volumes way above my capacity. Lots of teenagers approached me and spoke in a slang that I did not understand. The dinghy was not locked, I tried asking for directions to the Internet place the guide mentioned but did not get a clear answer. I looked around for a restaurant and did not see anything that I would want to go to, in short – not the place for me! Coming back to the boat I see two yachts approaching. They go to the other anchorage, the one that is to the south of the harbour, further away from the fishing harbour and the town. I feel that the grass is greener over there and dinghy to investigate. Not only is it remote from the noise of the fishing harbour, it is also calmer, no rolling. As I am writing this, we are at the new place, peace and quiet reign and I am satisfied.

May 6th – Out of the bay at 0615, not early for one whose eyes closed at 2000… In a way I do on the boat what I did in the past to combat Jet Lag. My policy was :”Hungry – Eat! Tired – Sleep” regardless of the local time. It resulted in waking up at funny hours but it worked for me.  I woke up at 0130 and read my book for an hour, so what? The guide book says that the trip from south St. Lucia to St. Vincent, our destination for today, should be a pleasant reach (that’s when the wind is on the beam, good situation for sailing) and it was! Right at the start a fish was caught but at some 20 meters from the boat did a somersault, released itself from the hook and disappeared. There is a strong current between the islands so you point the boat to the left while actually reaching the right side of the island. The moment we got there the wind changed from southeasterly to westerly! The effects of the island on wind is fantastic. St. Vincent is also a very mountainous and green island. An Israeli can turn green with envy observing the abundance of vegetation.

Green

Green

I first entered the bay of Wallilabou, where (yet again) they boast being a location for the filming of “Pirates of the Caribbean”. There is a restaurant there but the moorings did not look good to me so I decided to move another mile south to Barrouallie, where immigration is. This bay looks even worse, but a boat boy convinces me to tie to a mooring. Beeno wants 10 dollars EC (2.67 to the U.S one) but has no change from 20. “I’ll go ashore and bring you the change” Of course I never saw him again. At least I took a picture.

The Cheat

The Cheat

I took the dinghy ashore for immigrations. At the dock a 15 year old kid wants to “look after it” for me. Everybody is trying to make a buck and I don’t blame them. The place and population are far from rich. Many are fishermen, the beach is full of fishing boats and nets hung to dry.

Village

Village

After coming back to the boat I decide to move back to Wallilabou. As I get there I am once again in the domain of the boat boys who help me do what I can do with no help at all. But I am aware of my task in the local economy and acquiesce.

Boatboy

Boatboy

In the evening I go to the restaurant. They say they have Internet. I try to connect but no go. I think it’s 6 days since I had e- mail and the opportunity of updating the site. Maybe tomorrow, in Bequia. Next to me at the bar an English couple is sitting. They are Dick and Mary from the yacht Alacazam that is tied next to me. We start talking and when they understand that I am by myself they invite me to join them for dinner. We had passable food but good time together. Dick, who is in the oil industry and spent some interesting time in Libya, sails for about six month and works on the other six. They are thinking of converting to catamaran. They couldn’t sail the Bahamas because their draft is seven feet. I invited them to see “Two Oceans”, finding myself becoming a preacher for cats.

Dick and Mary

Dick and Mary

May 7th – In the morning the view from the boat is calm seas and very light wind. Bequia, pronounced “back we” is only 14 miles away. You would have thought that with my experience I will be able to anticipate what was coming. So many times a trip of only 15 miles turned into teeth grinding 30 miles bashing into wind and waves. But here I am, with full sail and very light wind, motoring on one engine completely relaxed. 15 minutes after leaving the bay I am with second reef and seeing 28 knots of apparent wind. It goes without saying that I can only sail about 45 degrees to the starboard of Bequia. I don’t mind, this will be the “Tack of the Day”, playing pure sailing. The thing is, there is a current that slows our progress by about 1.5- 2 knots and it is clear that when I will turn to the other tack, about a hundred degrees to port, will push us away from the island. And push it did! I was sailing 065 degrees true and the course over ground was 045 true. At a certain point reason prevailed, I took the sails down and motored the remaining 4 miles to Tony Gibbons beach (also call Princess Margaret bay) and anchored in 4.5 meters of clear water. Tony gibbon’s is your Caribbean standard issue, sandy beach with palm trees and turquoise water. As seen from the yacht – this place is NICE!
It is 1300 and time for lunch. Sometimes little things make the sailor happy. Like remembering that he has a frozen Pizza that he Doggy bagged back to the boat a few days ago. Pizza and a beer! And the beer is really cold since Charles fixed the fridge.
At  4 pm I go for a stroll in town. Nice restaurants and hotels and a picturesque fruit and veg market where prices were redicullously high. “We have to bring everything into Bequia, we grow nothing here” says a vendor. He looks like a Rastafary, the rumor being that the market is controlled by them.
Now I have bananas, passion fruit, grapefruit, papaya and vegetables to last the trip. Walking back to the dinghy I took some more pictures of the place.

Bequia Beach

Bequia Beach

The Market

The Market

The Whalebone restaurant

The Whalebone restaurantI

In transfering the site to another host I found out that my backup file for May 07 was incomplete. I’ll try to reconstruct it later!
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