Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Overnighted at the Pitons, then on to Bequia

April 23, 2007  Monday
Between the Pitons, St. Lucia
13.49.181N; 061.04.000W           Sailed 54 NM    8 hours, average speed 6.75 knots

We did not rent a car to explore Martinique; neither of us was really in the mood for that.  We visited several chandleries to buy the never-ending needed boat items.  Also found an Ecomax!  We had stumbled into an Ecomax for the first time on Basse Terre, Guadeloupe.  It is sort of like a mini version of Big Lots; never know what you will find there and you will likely never find the same item twice, except for the standard refrigerated food items.  So this time we bought a 220v blender.  Probably never use the darn thing because we never used a blender when we lived in our house on land, but now we have one just in case we ever find the need.  It does get hot in the tropics and frozen drinks are beginning to sound more appealing – actually just eating crushed ice sounds the most appealing to me.

Bill also bought one can of Fritz Brau (beer) and one bottle of Bordeaux wine and one bottle of champagne, all VERY inexpensively priced.  We tried each of these and then went back to Ecomax today and stocked up.  Bill said the Fritz Brau tastes just like Budweiser.  This will be the last chance to buy beer for only $11 per case until we reach VZ (where it is only $7 per case).  The Bordeaux was just okay, not great; so we only bought 6 bottles.  The cheap champagne was pretty good (for only $2.50 USD), so we bought 10 bottles.  We had wanted to find a few bottles of really good champagne for some celebrating soon but we didn’t search out the right store.

Yesterday we met Bob and Linda Masterson on VILLOMEE, a 47-ft Beneteau.  Bob had emailed us a couple of times and it was nice to put a face with the name.  They came to our boat for sundowners and then the four of us went to a marina restaurant for dinner.  We thoroughly enjoyed their company and hope to run into them again as we move south.  VILLOMEE is headed to Trinidad.  So we might see them again along our way to Grenada.

The sailing today from Martinique to St. Lucia was a calm beam reach.  Just lovely.  Only exciting thing that happened was that a small airplane buzzed us.  Bill got a kick out of that.  The plane approached from our starboard quarter, crossed our stern, buzzed really close and then banked off our port side and turned north toward Martinique.  We couldn’t figure out what that was all about.  But later we heard a VHF radio pan-pan-pan call about a missing sailboat on our same route, so maybe the French coast guard was looking for the missing boat and checked us out for that reason.

I saw a large creature that we assume was a porpoise.  It was very dark colored and about 16 feet long.  It swam perpendicular to our boat and dove right beneath us.  About 5 minutes later I saw what looked like the same creature (same size and same color) well off our starboard beam.  Porpoises normally travel in pods so maybe it wasn’t a porpoise.  Bill thought it might be some sort of small whale.  Neither of us saw the head clearly enough to identify it (or them).

We were disappointed to miss another of our friends!  Russell on LADE PAULINE was in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia last week and we had emailed each other several times.  We tried hailing him half a dozen times when we got near Rodney Bay but had no response.  Since we weren’t sure if he was even still there we decided not to stop.  We wanted to get to the other end of the island about 30 miles away to spend the night.  So, sorry Russell that we missed one another.  It would have been fun to catch up on what we each have been doing since last June.  We wish you calm seas on your passages north.

Tonight we are moored in between the Pitons on the southwestern tip of St. Lucia.  Last year we moored in Soufriere Bay (just on the other side of Petite Piton) near the bat cave, and it was horribly rolly.  So we wanted to try a different spot this time.  It is positively gorgeous at this mooring field between the Pitons.  The park ranger said that this mooring can also become very rolly if a swell comes from the south, but it is very comfortable and calm tonight.  Would recommend this mooring area to anyone planning a stop in St. Lucia

April 24, 2007  Tuesday
Admiralty Bay, Bequia
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
13.00.091N; 61.14.675W            Sailed 55NM     8.75 hours; average speed 6.29 knots

Well, today was lively!

We decided to sail down the eastern (windward) side of St. Vincent on our passage from St. Lucia to Bequia.  The waves were 10 feet and pleasant enough for most of the trip, but we got too close to land near the southeastern tip of St. Vincent and it was shallow.  The waves rolling in off the Atlantic were large but comfortable in the deep water, but the waves were building one upon another in the shallower water and it became unpleasant.  That lasted about 2 hours and then we were back to pleasant sailing.  So we learned a lesson:  keep at least one mile to two miles offshore if sailing on the eastern side of St. Vincent.  At only one-half mile offshore you will experience nasty sailing conditions.

I trailed two fishing lines all day yesterday (54 miles) and never had a bite.  Today I trailed two fishing lines most of the day (about 50 miles) without a bite.  And then we had two bites within a minute!  I went below to the head and when I came back into the cockpit there was Bill with my fishing line all over the place.  Seems there had been a strike by something large on the fishing line being trailed from the port side.  The entire lure was gone and the hand reel had actually exploded into tiny pieces from the pressure of the fishing line wrapped around it.  All that remained of that gear was the bungee cord and the fishing line and the metal wire that used to hold the lure!  And that was my brand new favorite lure!  Hope I can find another one like it.

Less than a minute later there was a strike on the fishing line being trailed on the starboard side.  This time the line snapped right at the hand reel.  The line was 100 pound test strength, so something quite large must have hit that lure.  So, two fishing lures and 150 meters of fishing line, leaders, etc.--- all gone within a minute.  And no fish to show for it!  Bad enough to lose the fishing gear but I really wish we could have been able to at least see the fish that took my gear.

When we arrived in Bequia we found Dennis and Allayne on AUDREY PAIGE, and Al and Joan on BREAK AND RUN.  We are anchored between their two boats.  Dennis and Allayne are friends from the marina in Trinidad last summer.  We knew that Dennis and Allayne were in Bequia several weeks ago and hoped that they would still be here.  We really enjoy their company.  Great folks.   We met Al and Joan in Guadeloupe when we shared dinner.  Another guy, Richard (and Beth) on SLOW DANCING came by and introduced himself because he recognized our SSCA burgee and he is also a SSCA member.   All these people plan to stay here in Bequia for a week or two or more, so hopefully we will be seeing them all several times.

BTW, while talking with our friends we learned that the exact same fishing experience had happened to two of them at the exact same location recently.  Except each of them lost only one lure and line instead of two like I did.

FYI, we are now in the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  That is a rather long country name, so it is usually abbreviated to SVG.  We opted not to stop at St. Vincent because there is too much thievery there.  So our first stop in SVG is Bequia, which we truly love.  Luckily, it is also a clearance port so we were not forced to stop in St. Vincent.  Bequia has a special charm.  All the islands that we will be visiting in the next few weeks belong to SVG – there are quite a few of them and we will be visiting only those that we prefer.  We will skip a few of the islands that hold no special interest to us for whatever reason.

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