Monday, May 11, 2015

"Wet 'N Wild"

enjoying a celebratory beer after a passage

Our focus lately has been to get south. Serenada is being hauled out June 4th in Grenada, and we have booked flights home for June 8th. The weather this season has not been as friendly as last season. The tradewinds have been brisk. Whenever they blow relatively lighter - "relatively" being the operative word here - the winds are honestly still stronger than we'd wish them to be - we go.

All of our recent passages: St. Martin to St. Kitts, St. Kitts to Nevis, Nevis to Guadeloupe, Guadeloupe to Les Saintes, Les Saintes to Dominica, and Dominica to Martinique have been "Wet 'N Wild" relatively speaking. The winds have been in the mid-high teens and gusting into the 20's.  We prefer to travel with under 15knots, but that's not been anywhere in the forecast :( for us.

After each of these southbound passages, Serenada and her crew have been caked in salt. Our new routine, after the anchor is down again, is to wash down Serenada's deck, and clean her bright (that's stainless fittings for our landlubber friends) and windows; then bath ourselves, and only then have our celebratory beers!

From Nevis, we tried for a second time to sail to Montserrat. The southeasterly component in the wind direction, made sailing to Montserrat too much of a 'beat,' so we chose instead to head for Guadeloupe ... or more accurately, Guadeloupe's 'wind shadow.' Guadeloupe is a high island and it casts a shadow of lighter winds, and this would make our final tack less challenging. We arrived  at Pigeon Island, about half way down Guadeloupe's west coast, just before the sun went down. Lucky for us! Within a half hour of anchoring, the winds picked up. They blew like stink.... they 'roared' .... there were white caps even close in to shore.

There was so much drama in the Pigeon Island anchorage that night. A 59' Fountain Peugot Tradewinds catamaran lost its' anchor hold and drifted into a 57' steel sloop. The catamaran's anchor chain went underneath the sloop, from starboard to portside, catching its anchor chain. They both became entangled and drifted out to sea together. It took some time, but they managed to free themselves from each other, and come back to reanchor. Then there was a MayDay call! Another charter catamaran was dragging towards the rocks, but its' winlass (system which brings up the anchor) wasn't working. A Coast Guard Rescue boat arrived to help this distressed vessel. A couple of other boats also dragged anchor. On one, the skipper had a heart condition, and it took all he had to get the anchor up and reset again. The other boat had nobody on board, but it miraculously caught a second hold and held itself! Fortunately, we were able to get Serenada's anchor down in sand and she held well for us. We heard later that the winds blew up to 40 knots in the anchorage; but blew even harder at 50 knots in Deshaies at Guadeloupe's north end. It was hard to sleep that night (even with earplugs) because of the howling wind.

We didn't wish to remain at Pigeon Island, and so the following day we left for Les Saintes, a group of small volcanic islands to the south of Guadeloupe.

Les Saintes

At Les Saintes, we met several cruisers we first met while in Grenada ... Devin & Liz (Moosetracks), Stan & Lann (Barefoot Life), and Hauken & Anna (Unicorn). It's always fun to cross paths with cruising friends. Returning here brought back memories of our first visit almost a year ago....

'many fishermen at work 

 colourful shutters

scooters (vs. cars) galore

chickens abound

We did not stay long in Les Saintes. After listening to Chris Parker's weather forecast one morning, when he forecast conditions a week away to moderate to those we had that day, we decided it was time to go again.  

saying good-bye to Les Saintes

We sailed to Rosseau, Dominica where we overnighted; then went on to St. Pierre, Martinique the following day. 

St. Pierre, Martinique

 St. Pierre's church and waterfront

fishing in the bay

Martinique will be 'home' for about a week now as we wait for the winds and seas to resettle. 

We shall catch up on our rest! 

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