Monday, October 22, 2012

Arriving at the Saintes

We left St Lucia on Friday morning. On Thursday it was raining most of the day, captain had a hard time getting to land dry to clear out, and by the time we were ready, it was too late to start. So we spent another nice evening with our neighbors, Dana and Wayne.

The weather on Friday was perfect, wind at around 18 knots, not a drop of rain the whole day. Even the waves were not big, maybe 1,5m, which is not often seen here. Passage to Martinique was really nice and fast. For about an hour there was a booby (strmoglavec po slovensko) accompanying us, he tried to catch the flying fish that were jumping out of the water around the boat. There were plenty of fish and he was doing a good job catching them, and also entertaining us.

Captain is having a good time...

 We were quite quick, we reached Martinique in good time. On second-reefed main and a small flock... and a clean bottom, it really makes a difference....

 Last hour before we reached St Pierre on the north of Martinique, the high mountains took away the wind and we had to motor. We reached St Pierre at around 4 in the afternoon and had enough time to swim, had dinner, played sudoku and read books and went to bed early.

Next morning we wanted to start early, we had more than 70 miles to go. But it was not so early as planned, we sailed from St Pierre at 7.30. The weather was even nicer than the day before, a bit less wind - around 14 knots, but even less waves. Heron was making good speed again. We only needed to run engine in lee of Dominica (v zavetrju), but it gave us good opportunity to have lunch. North-west off Dominica we caught a small tuna - so not only was the sailing season started, but also the fishing season.

Late at afternoon we reached Les Saintes.

 The sun was just going down.

 This was probably the longest passage that we made in Caribbean in one day.

 We dropped the anchor in the bay at Paine de Sucre and have a quick swim before it got dark. Next morning the bay looked pretty as ever, I almost forgot how much. We took advantage of lots of hot water and had a laundry day. Captain got us some fresh baguettes from the town and I went snorkeling in the afternoon. Yes, this is the way life should be in France...

 This morning captain again dinghied to town to clear us in (and to get fresh baguettes again - French might be bad at anchoring their boats, but they sure know how to make bread!). And this is a new method how to get dinghy to the boat if one turns off the engine too soon....

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Time to sail north

Since we're in the water again, we've done so many boat projects, that I can't even remember all of them. The sails are ready, almost everything in place, checked, cleaned and replaced if it was needed, so Heron is ready to sail again.

Last week we also had two laundry days, just before Rafael reached us. Actually, at the time it reachet St Lucia it was not named yet, it got the name and the status of tropical storm right after it went over us. Nothing bad happened, the wind gust barely reached 30 knots couple of times, which we had plenty of times in winter months last year - on Montserrat, in Deshaies in Guadeloupe, even in Jolly Harbour in Antigua. But Rafael also brought plenty of rain, we managed to fill out water tanks in half an hour. We were reading a lot and playing sudoku. And even in all that rain, Gregory was still delivering fruits and vegetables out to the boats, there was only one day he didn't come. Tough guy! 

It was very educational to observe the development of Rafael from so close, we were following weather reports couple of times per day and it was interesting to see, how accurate (or not) the reports were. We weren't frightened at any time, we felt we were able to flee - inner lagoon is so close, but we are still happy that Rafael developed to hurricane only after passing the Caribbean islands. But I wouldn't like to be on north-west Atlantic right now (if you like, check ).

Otherwise, nothing much happened, this boat came by one day and we thought it was funny - it's the boat for those forced to live at sea and sail a boat, but would much rather drive a car!

And here is the Unicorn aka Black Pearl again.

I was so glad the other day, when in all the rain that was coming down, I saw a turtle swimming near our boat. It was the first turtle in St Lucia! And with exception of Tobago Cays, which is a natural reserve, we've only seen one more in all the time we're south of Martinique. I'm so much looking forward to Leeward island (the islands north of Matrinique), with all the turtles!

And as it seems, we're sailing north tomorrow. We will sail directly to Guadeloupe with maybe one overnight stop at Martinique. Hope we'll have some good wind and nice weather.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Getting boat back in shape

Living in a boatyard is not my thing. Especially not in a weather like we had - almost no wind, 36 deg C during the day and 30 at night, 28 if we were lucky. And since there was no wind, there were mosquitoes. But luckily we were back in the water after four days. And in the meantime...

Captain was watching every move, every detail, every thing that was done to the boat. Here is Heron coming out of the water.

The bottom of the boat was like a coral reef - barnacles, anemones, crabs, you name it - it was all there.

The boat was first roughly scrubbed and pressure-washed, right there in slings. After that it was too late to move us, so we spent first night in slings.

Next morning the first thing was removing of rudder. It had play at the lower bearing, it wasn't "sitting tight" any more, so it was time to "retighten" it.

Then the boat was moved to more "permanent" location, away from haul-out pier. It was interesting to watch how precise the guys from boatyard moved such a big thing through other boats. There were moments where we thought - this doesn't fit, it will not go through...

... but then it did!

Then the boat got sanded. The captain personally cleaned and polished the propeller - he wouldn't let anybody else touch it.

After that the boat got two coats of anti-fouling paint and rudder got tightened. After some "diplomacy" (and some additional money) we were "splashed" = put back into the water on Sunday noon. The other option was to wait till Tuesday (Monday was a holiday). After seeing that the slings from travel lift took away quite a lot of our new anti-fouling paint, which obviously wasn't dry enough, we were sorry, we didn't go in a hotel for two days and wait till Tuesday. It wouldn't have cost us much more. Well, we'll be smarter next time...

Maybe you don't recognize this one - it is called Unicorn, and is better known as Black Pearl. Yes, the one from Pirates of Caribbean. It is "parked" in boatyard in Rodney Bay. It looks nice, even from up close.

Our friends Dana and Wayne, that we met in boatyard, and their boat Journey, went into water on Saturday, one day before us. When we came out on Sunday, we anchored in Bay right next to them and we had some nice evenings together.