Sunday, May 15, 2016

Beginning 11th year of cruising

 2 May 2016

Yesterday Bill and I celebrated the completion of 10 years and the first day of Year 11 living aboard and cruising S/V BeBe.  It feels odd to realize that a full decade of our lives has been enjoyed sailing around the seas and oceans of our world, meeting people of all sorts of cultures and societies and visiting so very many historical sites.  A decade well spent.  And now we look forward to a few more years cruising the Caribbean.

Bill with Rick and Linda of S/V Rascal, a sister-ship
to BeBe.  Tex-Mex dinner aboard BeBe in Le Marin.
There are not all that many places in the Caribbean where we have not yet visited, but there are enough to hold our interest for a few more years.  In particular, we look forward to visiting Barbados in December this year.  Also looking forward to seeing Barbuda; several people have mentioned how beautiful is that island, and we have never seemed to find the time to stop there because it requires first clearing in at Antigua and then sailing back into the wind to get back north to Barbuda.  Hopefully, that will be rectified next winter sailing season, sometime after visiting Barbados, as we will be sailing northward for a few months before once again sailing south for hurricane 2017 hurricane season.

And we very much look forward to sailing to Cuba at some time before it is time for us to swallow the anchor.  (For any landlubbers, ‘swallow the anchor’ is the expression used by cruisers for those of us who stop cruising, usually sell the boat, and move back to land.  Where we will become CLODs = Cruisers Living On Dirt.)  I am afraid that I will find the transition to land life very difficult.  Bill will volunteer once again to work on the tall ship Elissa.  And volunteer to work in the Lone Star Flight Museum because he loves all things related to flight.  I, on the other hand, have no idea what will occupy my time once we swallow that anchor.  So I hope to continue cruising for a few more years.  This is the better life.

Lift it; lock it; or lose it.  Motto of the Caribbean.
Upon departing Marina du Marin last week we anchored in front of St. Anne’s for only 1 night.  We had cleared out of Martinique for Friday departure, but on the spur of the moment around noon on Thursday we weighed anchor and sailed south to St. Lucia.  The winds were solid 25 knots the entire way, hardly any gusting at all, and from 100 to 110 degrees.  It was a pleasant sail on a course of around 200 magnetic.  Weather forecast called for 30-35 knot squalls throughout this section of the Windward islands beginning on Saturday and lasting possibly up to a week.  We took advantage of the good weather to get down to St. Lucia before the bad weather set in.  Glad we did.  It was sunny and fairly clear on Friday as we handled clearance and shopped.  And it has been rainy and sometimes windy ever since.  Kind of makes one get a little stir-crazy closed inside the boat in this yucky weather; one can enjoy reading and lazing about for only so long.  We will remain at anchor in Rodney Bay until this drizzly gray weather improves. 

Took us 8 years to realize that the dinghy could be
lifted using the electric winch in the cockpit.  No
reason it needed to be hung off the main mast;
that mizzen mast works too.  And no hand cranking.
A few unusual things have happened since we anchored here.  First was the night I looked out the side port and saw a boat creeping into the anchorage.  It appeared to be arriving from Martinique or someplace farther north.  It displayed a steaming light and a deck mounted green light, indicating I was seeing its starboard side as it entered ever-so-slowly into this very dark anchorage.  I know that captain was worried about all the unlit or very poorly lit boats in this anchorage; that is the reason he was barely creeping in so slowly.  And then he turned on his tricolor on top of the mast – and I saw a RED light.  While also still seeing the green deck-mounted navigation light.  How could that happen?  Is it possible to install a tricolor fixture upside down, thus placing the red and green on the incorrect sides of the boat?  I do not understand how this very odd and very incorrect navigational lighting could happen.  Weird.  I continued to watch this boat until he was anchored well behind all the other boats (as best I remembered where they were, as it was impossible to see them in the dark because few were correctly lit).  Once anchored, he turned off the deck nav lights and then the steaming light and then the tricolor, and turned on the proper anchor light; and I turned my attention to something else as he was now safe and was not going to collide with us or anyone else.

We do not just lift it.  We also lock it.
Using a Titanium Cable by
Kryptonite and a stainless steel
padlock.  Those SS padlocks are
expensive (about $100) but last
and work well.
Then yesterday a woman on a catamaran began hailing a series of boats, I assume people she knew.  No one answered.  Finally she hailed Rodney Bay Marina and they answered but the marina uses a handheld and the woman on the boat could not hear their weaker transmissions.  This went on for a while and finally she told the marina to just speak with her on Ch 16 since she could not hear them on any other channel.  She explained that she was en route to the marina because her husband apparently had suffered a stroke.  The dock master said he would arrange an ambulance to transport the husband to the hospital and would send out a skiff to assist her in arriving into the marina.  That conversation triggered 3 of her friends who were anchored here to join into the radio conversation and to send out several dinghies to help her into the marina.  They scurried out to the catamaran as soon as it came into view from this anchorage.  Bill started to go help too, but I discouraged this because she already had help from so many people she knows and we are strangers.   She now had plenty of assistance on board  and one man was gathering up the Code Zero sail from the deck as the cat motored quite rapidly through the anchorage and into the marina.  We have heard no further VHF radio traffic and hope the man is okay.  The wife said her husband knew her name but did not know anything else.  This kind of medical emergency can happen anytime, anywhere.  It is nice to know that cruisers are still helpful when something like this happens.  They also are fortunate that this happened while near or at St. Lucia where a hospital is available, and not down somewhere in SVG (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) where medical care is nearly non-existent.  This event exemplifies why it is crucial that both partners be capable of sailing or handling the boat ALONE.  As one never knows when the other person might become incapacitated and YOU must handle that boat alone.  Know how to rig the lines and fenders and how to handle the sails and engine and radios and how to navigate.  Even if you think you will never do those things.  Life has a habit of making us do things we never thought about doing.

Bill did a favor for someone who is looking to buy an
Amel.  In return, that guy bought us a couple of
bottles of wonderful wine.  This was the red.

Close-up of that red.  Highly
recommend this wine.  It was wonderful!

The third unusual thing that has happened is that as I type this posting we are listening to VHF traffic between Fort du France rescue and a sailboat which is on fire.  Several times during these conversations we have heard the name of a boat which we met in Martinique.  We cannot tell if this boat we met is the one on fire or if possibly this boat we met is one of the boats going to assist the boat on fire.  (I do not want to publicly post the name of this boat.) The French do not repeat radio transmissions in English as is done in every other country we have visited.  When the Fort du France rescue guy speaks in English we can understand him, but we are only hearing his side of the conversation; we cannot hear the side of the conversation from the boat which is on fire.  We assume that person on the boat afire is speaking in English because the only time the Fort du France rescue guy speaks in English is when speaking to them.  The rest of the time the conversations are only in French.  Guess if the boat on fire is the boat we know, then we will hear about it via email later.  As for now, we do not understand exactly what is happening.  The 2 things that are clear are that: 1) a boat is at sea and on fire; and, 2) that boat is not willing to abandon ship and is attempting to return to Martinique.  We assume the boats going to their assistance will rescue them if return is not possible, but the burning boat does not want official rescue yet because that means abandoning their vessel.  Something none of us want to do unless there is no other option.  God be with them.

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