It has been so difficult to leave Marigot Bay. We had been planning to depart for some time as my Dad is arriving shortly and we need to get to Antigua before the 06th February. Anyway we were invited to a fantastic Bar-B-Q hosted by one of the Super Yachts. I have never tasted steak and Chicken as good as that evening. We were also joined by many friends we had come to know, which only made it harder to depart but there is plenty more to see and our paths will cross again in the not too distant future.
We departed Marigot Bay early on the 31st. We hit a 20 knot wind on the nose as soon as we left and had an absolutely awful 3 hours just to cover 9 miles. We had to pull into Rodney Bay to sort out an issue we had with our newly purchased camera. The idea was to head on to Martinique but after the disaster coming up to Rodney we decided to pick up a mooring in the Lagoon.
We were only meant to stay in Rodney Bay for one night but three nights later we were still there with 25-30 knot winds blowing outside the harbor. There was not a chance in the world to leave, which has not put pressure on us to make the leg to Antigua.
It is a shame we cannot give you more information on Martinique, Dominica and Guadeloupe. We had to race up north but did manage to stay in each island but did not clear customs, as we had to leave the following morning. We had a good passage to Martinique. I don’t know who said that the Caribbean is all plain sailing; as soon as you leave the Lee of the Island you are battered by swell, current and strong winds and then when you are in the Lee of the next island you are constantly changing sail as the wind scoops around the bottom and then surprises you by going from 5 knots to 30 knots the other side of a mountain.
We headed to the north of Martinique to San Pierre. What a surprise, we decided to take a quick trip ashore and found it to be a lot more European than we had expected. As this is a French Island there were more expensive cars (Renaults, BMW’s etc.) We took a walk to an old theatre that was destroyed in the 19th century by a hurricane and a prison. It is a shame we could not stay longer but the contrast from St Lucia was refreshing. The buildings were not well cared for but the people were very friendly and it did have an atmosphere that was very European compared to what we had been used too.
Martinique to Dominica – Monday 04th February
Dominica is a stunning island when seen from land. Apparently when Columbus was trying to describe this island to the Queen of Spain he scrunched up a piece of paper and showed her the likeness. Dominica is so green especially when seen from a very blue sea, the mountains and valleys are very distinctive. We had the same issues with forever changing winds and gusts that knocked Troskala about a bit but all in all it was a pretty uneventful sail but the scenery was stunning.
We decided to anchor in Rupert Bay, which was a fantastic spot. We sailed past the Star clipper (pictured below) and settled ourselves in 2 meters of water by the beach. Again we had not the time to clear customs so decided to go for a swim and have an early dinner before heading to bed. We will certainly re-visit Rupert Bay, the scenery surrounding us was quite spectacular and the stillness and quietness of the place is also to be noted as most popular anchorages have beach bars playing music all night.
Dominica to Guadeloupe – Tuesday 05th February
We departed Rupert Bay at 07:00 and started our journey that would take us to the north of Guadeloupe to Deshaies. We had a great crossing from Dominica to Guadeloupe with calm seas and a good breeze, the fun started when we rounded Guadeloupe with erratic winds and stupid calms, there was just no point in doing anything with the sails. We lost our new caps that were given to us by a good friend, my cap actually flew before landing what seemed to be half a mile away – it could not be rescued. Carlotta lost hers shortly afterwards; we tried to rescue this one but to no avail. We were now in a force 7, we took the main down and used genoa, which seemed to work very well with little weather helm as we had previously experienced. It has to be noted that it was not since the north of Spain that we were sailing close-hauled and you tend to forget what works and what does not. Anyway we finally arrived in Deshaies feeling tired and battered.
Deshaies has to be the windiest anchorage I have ever been in. The books say that Guadeloupe is a wind scoop and that Deshaies is a vent; yes, it is. It was blowing a lovely force 7 through the night but we had held well and were close enough to the shore not to have anyone in front of us dragging into us. We decided total e a visit into town and we are both glad we took this opportunity to experience and fantastic little place.
We thought that San Pierre was European; Deshaies is a mini French town. It has a lovely main street with bars, bakery, and general store; it even had a Spar convenience store so we took the opportunity to stock up on Pate, wine and other nibbles that we have been so long without. We had beer whilst the wind howled and then rowed back to Troskala for yet another early night.
Guadeloupe to Antigua – Wednesday 06th February
We now have our last leg on the journey to Antigua. As mentioned previously it is a shame we have not really spent enough time in the islands between St Lucia and Antigua but we will re-visit these wither this year or next.
We departed Deshaies at 06:30; we would have wanted to depart earlier but due to the wind and the amount of other boats in the anchorage we thought it would be wise to wait for daylight. My Dad and Nita would arrive at 16:00 local time and we still had 48 miles to complete to reach Jolly Harbor.
We left Deshaies with an amazing sunrise that appeared to set the sky on fire; it was an unbelievable sight and I doubt any photo can capture the scene. We had very little wind and had to motor sail for most of the journey just to keep 5 knots over ground. Nothing really prepared us for the color of the water we saw on approaching Antigua. Just as we were 3 miles south of Jolly Harbor entrance the water turned from a dark blue to a vivid turquoise, it was unbelievable. We can see coral only 3 meters under the keel with amazing contrasts; Carlotta was very excited and had finally seen her true paradise with golden beaches to our starboard, lush green hills ahead and this amazing water.
We checked into Jolly Harbor and were escorted to the main marina. Now, unless you are filthy rich do not stay in Jolly Harbor Marina. For Troskala we were charged £60 a night, yes, £60 GBP per night. The facilities were not great and I still cannot get over the fact that this marina is more expensive than any we have come across since London, even Cowes Yacht Haven charged less.
Anyway, we were there for a purpose and the purpose is to collect my Dad and Nita for the next voyage north to the British Virgin Islands and beyond. Nita and my Dad will be crewing for us for one month before we then head back to Antigua.
Jolly Harbour to English Harbor – Antigua – 08th February 2012
We moved on to the anchorage the second night of being in Antigua just to save on costs. It dod not matter as Carlotta was in her element with the paradise she found herself in. When you wake up in the morning and cannot believe your eyes when looking out of the hatch it takes some beating. We all went for a trip to the supermarket in the morning to victual the boat before the next passage. We found time for a swim in the milky waters on Jolly Harbor and then set sail to English Harbor.
Unfortunately our sailing was cut short when we had to turn East into 25 knots of wind and having to motor 7 miles at an average of 3.8 knots. We eventually arrived into the historic English Harbor and anchored in Freemans Bay, which is busy. We had a few attempts at anchoring and finally managed to find a space near the main channel.