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30 April 2014

Catching up from Batalie II

Return to Le Marin - 16 April

Bébert et ses fruits
After family visits and business we returned to Raconteur mid-April. 
We rented a car and provisioned the boat at the big Carrefour near the airport, then took a tour of the Diamant peninsula, stopping at a great fruit juice stand (Bébert) on the way to Anse Dufour.
We  enjoyed a walk to Anse Noire and lunch Chez Marie Jo in Anse Dufour.

Anse Dufour
We also completed some minor repairs on the water circuit, minor interior joinery for a new hatch to the new, bigger windlass and sewing repairs.

Les Anses d'Arlet - 21-24 April

We left Le Marin on the 21st in the morning and had a nice downwind trip to Grande Anse d'Arlet where a large mooring field has been installed. The little village is very nice and quiet and has a number of beach restaurants that come to life in the evening. 
We had lunch there the following day and looked for the cafe where customs clearances used to be, but it was closed. We apparently needed to go to the other Anse d'Arlet, where a bigger village sits.

We moved to Anse d'Arlet on the 23rd, 2 miles south, and picked up another mooring. We visited the town and had a very pleasant lunch at Le Littoral waiting for the customs office to open. We cleared for the next day and returned in the evening for a pizza on the beachfront (Caraibe Pizza), a real local with a row of guys sipping their rum in the back of the terrace.  Delicious pizza too.

Dominica - 24-30 April

We started early for a 55 mile trip to Roseau on the 24th and had a nice crossing of the Martinique channel at 8 knots. We picked up one of Seacat's moorings, and his assistant Desmond took JP to customs to clear in. In the evening, we arranged an excursion to Victoria Falls and Moses' "Rastaurant" for the next day.

The Victoria Falls excursion was a real fun trip. We meandered in the small villages of the south of the island, 

Zandoli Inn garden view

Grand Bay with its delightful Zandoli Inn, 

Petite Savane, a village mostly known for
distilling bay rum, but which boasts several
less publicized but delicious local products, 
Tasting local products
Bagatelle, Les Delices, tasting fruits along the road and bread from Manny.

We arrived at Moses' property on the junction of two rivers around 11 and visited the gardens, meeting members of the family. 
We shared stories and  some Rastafarian hospitality and were therefore in a great mood when we launched on the climb to Victoria Falls around 1230.
Moses at his open, riverside house

The Victoria Falls climb is a bit different from other Dominica hikes, which typically involve many hours of up and down steep hills. This is a very short clambering over rocks and boulders and crossing the river five times, sometimes up to mid-thigh even in this relatively dry weather, with only a few hundred feet to climb, most of it in the final rocks before arriving at the cascade basin.

The cascade experience is exhilarating and is like swimming in a hurricane. The volume of water is such that a violent wind and spray are perpetually blasting the basin. We swam across the basin against a very swift current and caught our breath in a small cave. 

Seacat then helped JP swim behind the cascade, which is only 15 meters away but directly into the current. 

The impression is fairly indescribable, but you definitely learn how to breathe water. After a victory yell, we drifted back to the cave and the back across the basin.

After clambering down the rocks, we had a very simple and delicious Rastaurant lunch, a wonderful medley of vegetables and starches from the farm, cooked in coconut milk and eaten from a calabash bowl with a coconut shell spoon.

We closed the day by visiting a very beautiful black sand beach before returning to Roseau.

28 April 2014

Catching up from Batalie Beach

28 april 2014

Martinique - Petite Terre - Feb 18-28

It has been a while - Leigh left the boat on the 16th of February in St. Lucia, and on the 18th we sailed to Martinique and anchored in Le Marin. After clearing customs, we moved to Sainte Anne on the 20th. We had a nice time swimming and visiting the small restaurants.

On the 24th, we started for an overnight passage to Marie Galante, a great beam reach all night at 7 knots, passing to the East of Martinique and Dominica, arriving at 5 in the morning and anchoring off the west side of the island, all quiet and deserted for miles. The next day, we tried to find a spot in the tiny harbour of Grand Bourg, but there was no space so we went back to a nice beach section of the coast. On the 26th, we dinghied to Grand Bourg for breakfast and wifi at Ornata and clearing out.

In the afternoon, we set off for Les Iles de la Petite Terre, a small lagoon and park, greeted by dolphins at the entrance. The island has many excursion boats during the day but barely anyone at night, and we shared the lagoon with the ranger and another sailboat. The next day we went snorkeling, fantastic coral forest teeming with fishes, swimming up-current and letting us be carried back through the coral valleys, surrounded by all the colors of marine life.

aahh, the serenity of Petite Terre after the day-trippers depart

Antigua - Feb 28-Mar 13

With regret, we left on the 28th and set off for Antigua, a fast passage with some squalls. We entered English Harbor in the afternoon but it was completely packed and we left, anchoring next door in Falmouth Harbor. We were promptly boarded by the Coast Guard who was worried by this suspicious behavior (!) - of note, the Customs office is in English Harbor but they do not have a dock and their opening hours can differ significantly from the official ones...their inspection was interrupted towards the end by the Mayday call of a big sailboat that had hit the reef south of Antigua (the crew made it to safety).

After a rolly night, we repositioned ourselves in Falmouth Harbor, cleared in and had a lovely dinner at Trappas. On the docks in Falmouth, we thought we were back in Monaco, with row after row of super-yachts, the only difference being that there are more super-sailboats in Antigua. 

 a tiny section of the super-sail super-yacht scene in Falmouth and English Harbors

Nelson's Dockyard in English Harbor preserves a Georgian naval dockyard in its original form

We had meanwhile corresponded with a friend and colleague from over 30 years ago, René and his spouse Ginette and decided to join them in Jolly Harbour Marina, a development and yachting center on the west coast of Antigua. On March 2nd, we moved there and had an interesting time doing modified med mooring in double occupancy catamaran spaces. The third try was the charm and we found ourselves docked directly across from Opus, the customized Beneteau 39 of Ginette and René.

This was a very pleasant reunion, and we spent a few days walking the gorgeous beach, trying the restaurants of the complex, having many coffees, alternating dinners on board the two boats, and catching up with the events of the past 30 years.

a merry meeting!!
On March 5, we took a trip with Opus to the market in St John to replenish our supplies (town nearly deserted due to a major cricket test) and left in the afternoon for Deep Bay, a large, beautiful white sand anchorage with a wreck.  We swam and took a walk on the huge beach, but the hotel at the head of the bay, the once famous Royal Antiguan, appeared to be in the process of closing prior to a major refit.

On March 6, we started for the northern anchorages, fairly late in the day, but soon realized that we had underestimated the currents and the number of tacks across the reefs, and decided to abort and return to Deep Bay,

On the 7th, we had our second try and sailed to Jumby Bay, on a lovely island with a fairly exclusive resort and community. However, as we anchored, we realized that Raconteur's windlass had given up again. We conferred with Opus and decided to return the next day to Jolly Harbor, to try and order a new one. 

Raconteur's new pal Opus, underway to the northern anchorages of Antigua

On the 8th, we raised anchor by hand with the team of Opus heavily helping - thanks guys - and sailed downwind to Jolly Harbor, alas, arriving just after the closing of the marine shop. So what was there to do but have another expresso?

The new windlass arrived airfreighted on the 12th, we bought 240 feet of metric chain, and with heavy help of René and final touches from a local contractor, installed it on the 13th.

new and old anchor chain

Marie Galante - March 14-15

After finishing windlass install, we left with Opus for an overnight passage to Marie Galante, a long upwind slog on the East side of Guadeloupe. Raconteur's engine started overheating so we did pure sailing down to the anchoring maneuvers, dropping the hook about noon on the 14th. Opus had caught one of the many, many netlines around, and, after changing the impeller on Raconteur, René and JP took turns diving with the hookah to cut it off the propeller. 

 Susan learned much useful boat French, including the captain's 12 commands; for example, "YAVEKA": "il n'y avait qu'a" or "all you had to do was . . . "

The next day we rented scooters and went for a tour of the southern part of the island, stopping for a delightful lunch on the beach in Capesterre. A distillery visit was of course included in the tour....

one of many delightful coffees together - this one at Grand Bourg in Marie Galante

We left the same evening for Martinique, leaving our friends behind and heading into a beautiful sunset and a lovely passage with the full moon rising as we sped down the East coast of Dominica and Martinique.

Back to Martinique - March 16-20

On the 16th, we dropped the hook in Sainte Anne, learning in the process that new chain can twist itself like rope - and of course then will not pass through the windlass. A couple of hours unraveling chain on deck took care of that, then it was back to swimming and relaxing. On the 18th we moved into the Le Marin marina, and prepared Raconteur for a one month lonely stay whilst we took care of some business. We flew out on the 20th.