Crew Log - Journey South from St. Martin - Dominica

Leeward Islands

27th May - 4th June 2002

Time to head south to the area where we'll be insured during hurricane season.  We needed to get south of 12° 40' north before 1st July.   As Phil was still recuperating and not supposed to exert himself, we enlisted the help of his sister Diane and brother-in-law Graham, who volunteered to fly in from Philadelphia to help us sail south.   Of course, their arrival on 19th of May heralded the start of a week of south-easterly gales, delaying our departure by one week.

St. Martin to St. Eustatius (Statia), 27th May:

After a sleepless night, rolling in Simpson Bay and having won the world record for checking out of customs in St. Martin and then changing our minds and checking back in (about 4 times in all due to the continuing south easterly winds which didn't correspond to the weather forecasts), we decided when the wind and sea finally reduced a bit, to head for St. Eustatius (Statia).    Luckily, as Statia is almost due south from St. Martin, we were able to sail all the way and after weaving our way through the tankers at the oil terminal, we anchored safely at the capital, Oranjestad, at 13.30.  

After checking in at customs and out again, ready to leave the next morning, we took in the sights of the metropolis of the capital city.  We would have loved to stay longer, it is a tranquil, unspoilt town with friendly citizens, who all take time to speak to you in the street.   After resisting the urge to purchase wild carnival hats (red velvet trilbies) in the general store, which seemed to stock everything imaginable, we made our way back to the boat for dinner and an early night in preparation for the next mornings departure.


Main street in the capital, Oranjestad, St. Eustatius.   

Why did the chicken cross the road?????

Unfortunately the anchorage wasn't quite as tranquil as the town and the unruly rolling of the boat meant everyone had a restless night.   Bringing the dinghy back aboard was a death-defying feat! 

St. Eustatius - St. Kitts, 28th May

Glad to get out of the rolling anchorage, we motor-sailed, hard on the wind to St. Kitts.   Friends had recommended a quiet anchorage and as all aboard were in need to rest, we headed straight past the capital Basseterre, to White House Bay.   The Bay had absolutely nothing, no buildings (no white house!), no traffic, only a herd of cows and one other boat.  It was just perfect and flat for catching up on lost sleep.   Even the noisy partying French people on the two charter boats who arrived later couldn't disturb us........

St. Kitts - Nevis, 29th May

The next island, Nevis, was only 11 miles away, to windward of course!   Even despite our lazy start, motor-sailing, we arrived there well before lunchtime.  This was a stroke of luck as customs shut at 12, so we managed to check in and out in the nick of time.  

We were anchored off the capital, Charlestown, another wildly hectic city (not).   After taking on some fresh supplies, we took a tour of the island with a local taxi driver, St. Claire, to make the most of our limited time ashore.   The island was very green, lush and scenic.   We visited three old plantations, now converted to luxury hotels but still with the old sugar processing machinery on display.  No time for the botanical gardens but they'll certainly be visited on our next stop at Nevis.

Montpellier Plantation, Nevis

Nevis - Montserrat, 30th May:

Awoken at 6 am by a cacophony of cockerels and egg sandwich making (Diane really looked after us well during her stay, we were spoilt rotten!), we left the anchorage at Charlestown for Montserrat at 7.30 am.  A very uncomfortable journey, motoring straight into the wind.  We even considered changing course to Antigua at one point to make life more comfortable but we're so glad we didn't. Montserrat was well worth the discomfort.    We arrived at 14.30 after our delicious sandwiches for lunch for which we were very grateful, as conditions weren't conducive to food preparation!  We stayed two nights in Montserrat, and spent a day taking an island tour, details of which are on a separate page, to allow more photographs to be included.    This also justified the amount of time spent on the fun bureaucratic process of clearing in and out of customs!

Click here for details of Montserrat Tour    

Montserrat - Guadeloupe, 1st June:

Aargh, official start of hurricane season!   Luckily our insurers start theirs from 1st July as we're still a long way from 12°40' north!    Horrible, horrible passage from Montserrat to Guadeloupe, motor-sailing straight into the wind again.  Again, Diane's pre-prepared sandwiches saved the day!   We finally arrived in Deshaies at about 3 pm and went ashore in search of supplies and phones.    Graham and Christine had a very scary experience at the rubbish dumpster when engulfed in a cloud of flies, very pleasant!   To compensate we decided to treat ourselves to a meal out in the L'Amer restaurant that evening.  Seated on a veranda, overlooking the bay and Anju, we enjoyed a delicious meal of beautifully presented "thazard" fish.   Later, several days in fact we found out that thazard is marlin but its always an adventure ordering food from a foreign menu!  As we were on a budget, we decided to make our own dessert back aboard Anju.   Unfortunately the bananas, so ably flambéd in Grand Marnier by Diane turned out to be plantains and ended up over the side, perhaps we should have taken dessert in the restaurant instead!    As seems to be the case in all French islands at the moment, we were lulled to sleep by the sweet strains of a very loud political speech, being given late evening on the seafront, with nobody in attendance.  Hmmmm.

Guadeloupe - Les Saintes, 2nd June

We were running low on water, so decided to visit the "Marina Riviere" on the way down the coast of Guadeloupe, to refill our tanks.    Looked perfect in the guidebook, easily located fuel berth, right in the entrance.   Not so easy however, when a kind local has parked their 12 ft power boat right in the middle leaving no space to tie up, there isn't enough room to swing a cat inside the marina, let alone a 40ft steel boat, each side of the narrow entrance is strewn with big rocks and the wind pipes up to 30 knots just as we enter.    All in all a very stressful experience.   We entered, turned on a sixpence and left very quickly without any water and with very frayed nerves.   

From there on, the sea became even lumpier, the wind kept howling and windsurfers kept flying past.   We were happy to arrive in "Les Saintes" a small group of islands south of and belonging to Guadeloupe and to find a nice convenient water buoy on which to tie up and refill our water tanks.    The water hose was attached to the buoy, you just had to pull it aboard, flush it out for a couple of minutes and hey presto, fill your tanks with nice fresh water.    It later transpired that we hadn't, in fact, flushed out the hose long enough and although the water was fresh, Christine, Phil and Graham spent a pleasant half hour in the bilges, dismantling and cleaning sand out of the filter on the freshwater pump.   This was particularly fun for Phil who was half way through a shower and covered in soap when the water decided to stop flowing!   This combined with the fact that the water vendor wouldn't come to us in his conveniently moored powerboat and insisted on us inflating and launching our dinghy to go and pay him, meant the Captain was not in the best of humours!    Typical wonderful customer service as seems to be common on all French islands.    

We anchored off the picturesque Bourg des Saintes and later went ashore to find that every available pontoon, on which to tie up your dinghy, had a large sign advising that it was not permitted to tie up your dinghy there!   Oh the welcome for those of us wishing to go ashore and spend our pennies on their island!   

We finally dragged our dinghy up a beach and went to explore the town, to find the Whitsun religious procession in full swing.   The calm atmostphere of the tiny scenic town, combined with the delicious home-made gourmet ice creams (best we've ever tasted), helped to put us back in a good humour.   Les Saintes are beautiful and we look forward to visiting again at a later date, although it may be dangerous for our waistlines!

Beautiful Bourg des Saintes, source of the world's best ice cream (so far anyway!)

Les Saintes - Dominica, 3rd June:

Off again at the crack of dawn.   Again challenging conditions with the wind veering from one side of the bow to the other.    Once we were in the lee of Dominica, things became calmer between big gusts.   We had decided to head for Roseau in the south of the island but Anju had different ideas and just as we were alongside the "Castaways" anchorage, about half way down the island, the engine spluttered.    It continued to run fine but being the strange people we are, Phil & I decided that she wanted to go to that anchorage instead!    Anchored with bow and stern anchors, to hold her nose into the swell, life aboard was more pleasant than it seemed to be on the other boats which had chosen to pick up the mooring buoys and were rolling violently backwards and forwards.   Not wonderful aboard but as good as it was going to get with a big south easterly swell on the coast of Dominica.   We were only rolling up and down and not side-to-side as well.   We'd never used our stern kedge anchor before and were glad that Graham was with us as he'd anchored like this several times in the past.

Di and Christine went ashore in search of fresh bread but conditions on the dinghy dock were somewhat dodgey in the big swell, so Di bravely went off alone in search of a shop while Christine stayed to fend off the dinghy and wonder if she'd ever see Di again.    No need to worry, a few minutes later she was back with the supplies.

When we got back to the boat we suddenly noticed that one of our neighbouring boats was sinking, fast.   Immediately we tried to raise the alarm on channel 16, calling the dive shop on the beach or anybody else who may be listening, which turned out to be nobody.   It was too late, there was nothing we could do to save the boat, so we had to watch it slowly disappear under the waves, a quite distressing sight.    We went ashore in the dinghy and finally tracked down the dive shop owner, who also owned the boat and he began to plan how to raise his boat again.   I suppose if anybody could surface a sunken boat, a dive company should be able to......

All that remained visible of our sunken neighbours!

Di, Phil & Graham enjoying the Kubuli.

To console ourselves we decided to take a walk through the village, to get a taste of Dominican life and hopefully Dominican beer too!   The standard of living was quite a contrast to the French islands we'd just left.    Water was collected by children from a standpipe in the middle of the main street.    There were communal public showers and bathrooms and the houses were mainly constructed of corrugated iron.    All seemed a bit strange when the local young men were driving around in brand new, flashy, 4 x 4 pickups.

We tracked down a beach bar and enjoyed a taste of the local Kubuli beer, seated on the shore at a cunningly disguised cable drum.

Next day we were up at 5 am, even the local fishermen, who were already taking in their nets, asked what was wrong with us, why we couldn't sleep!

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