Iles Des Saintes

10 December 2018 St Anne, Martinique
After breakfast, I whizzed over to Marin drop off the mainsail - Gavin says that it should be ready late tomorrow afternoon. While I was over there, I called in at Leader Price, where I did some essential provisioning - 3 cases of beer, 4 bottles of wine, a baguette and some goat’s cheese.

In the afternoon, I painted a coat of silver paint on the gear box and green paint on the engine.

11 December 2018 St Anne, Martinique
First thing in the morning, I finished off the engine room by applying a second coat of paint. Glenys popped into St Anne to do some proper provisioning, so that we can eat for the next two weeks.

Anchored near St Pierre

We spent the afternoon waiting for the sail to be finished - I finally picked it up at 16:30. We fitted the sail before it went dark. . I think that the adjustments to the luff curve have made the sail a lot better when it is fully out. However, it still appears to be too full when reefed.

12 December 2018 St Anne to St Pierre, Martinique
I woke up thinking about the mainsail, so before breakfast, we pulled it out and I took photos of the sail when fully out and when reefed. I rang Bill in the USA and discussed the sail. He says that the fullness when reefed is probably because the sail has stretched in the middle after we’ve sailed 12,000 miles in two years. I told him that we’ve already delayed in Martinique for a week and need to move on, so he said that he’s happy for me to stop in St Martin or Antigua and let them have a look at it.

We pulled up our anchor at 09:30 and, with only a 6 knot wind directly behind us, we motor-sailed the 10 miles around Diamond Rock. Once around the corner, we had some good wind on the beam, so we had a good sail up the west coast of Martinique. Anchored off Anse La Touche about ½ mile south of St Pierre at 14°43.95N 061°10.84W in 7 metres depth over good holding sand and weed. It’s a nice quiet anchorage compared to the anchorage off the town of St Pierre.

I nipped into town to clear out, which was very easy at customs computer in the L’Alsace de Kay restaurant. Back at Alba, I went for a snorkel around the boat. The water was very clear and on first impressions it was very boring - just sand and weed. Then I spotted a Golden-spotted Eel, which perked me up. Unfortunately, I’d left my camera on the boat and the batteries weren’t charged. I swam around for an hour and saw another eel, plus two octopuses and some large Lionfish - remind me never to go snorkelling without my camera…

13 December 2018 St Pierre to Castaways, Dominica
With a 55 mile passage ahead of us, we were up at 05:30 and left at 06:30. It was a good passage across to Dominica - one hour of motoring and then a bit windy at the north end of Martinique with 25 knots at times, but that was to be expected. Thankfully, it was a reach with the wind at about 70 degrees, so we weren’t pounding up wind.

Goldspotted Eel

As we approached Dominica, we hooked a fish, but were disappointed to find that it was a 4 foot long Barracuda - we don’t eat large Barracuda because of the danger of Ciguatera. I hauled it in next to the boat, carefully hooked the gaff into its gill slot and managed to get the hook out from those wicked teeth without having to kill the fish.

We were planning to go up to Prince Rupert Bay, but the anchorage isn’t that brilliant and the boat boys can be a pain in the neck, so we opted to stop off at the derelict Castaways hotel. I was a bit unsure about where to anchor because I couldn’t see if the sea bed was coral or weed, so while Glenys kept the boat stationary, I donned a mask and climbed down the swim ladder to confirm that it was weed. Our Rocna anchor slammed in, so we were happy. We anchored at 15°24.86N 061°25.81W in 8 metres of water over weed and sand.

It was only 14:00 when we anchored, so we jumped in the dinghy and went looking for an artificial reef, which is made up from a couple of dozen hollow, concrete balls. The reef is about 75-100 metres in a direct line from the old hotel’s dock. It was excellent snorkelling with clear water and lots of variety of sea life. The surrounding weed has Golden-spotted Eels and Bearded Fire Worms; the sandy areas have Peacock Flounders and Lesser Electric Rays; while the artificial reef has a plethora of fish including Lionfish and Scorpionfish.

As it went dark, we were in splendid isolation, which was lovely for a change, although we did put up the security bars in the aft cabin hatch and locked the washboards in place, just in case some enterprising local wants to board us in the middle of the night.