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Amazing April

Where we were anchored for our family’s visit was not really a lovely anchorage. It is is pretty enough, but it's wide open to the ocean winds so we had really choppy water for going in and out to the beach and nothing but the kids to keep us there and happy. Sunday, as soon as they left for the airport, we went back to Falmouth to get our over-due sail.

Monday morning Mark brought the guys from the sail loft – and the long awaited jib – out to Roxy for our big delivery. They unrolled the sail and I was appalled. Like most cruising boats, our sails are white. This new sail is the color of elephant hide. It’s supposed to match the mainsail that we bought from the same company last year, but it certainly does not. Yes, it’s a “performance” sail, but why does it have to be ugly? Roxy is not a “performance” boat, she is a classic old lady who sometimes goes kind of fast. I am quite unhappy with the look of this expensive addition, but I have no idea what I can do about it, short of buying two new sails making sure they are WHITE.

Angry as a hornet, we clear out of customs and immigration in English Harbour and Mark and I set sail for Guadeloupe. Au revoir Antigua. (The ugly sail works really well.) Back to the land of baguettes, vin, and du fromage. On the way south the spinnaker pole, which is useless because it breaks every time we use it, fell off its pinning. We were lucky, it didn’t make a hole in the deck, but unlucky that it didn’t fall overboard. Then, as we were anchoring in Deshaies Mark was about to send the anchor overboard but it got stuck. Boy, were we lucky that it got stuck! The pin that holds the anchor to its chain had worked its way loose and was about to let the anchor go without any chain attached. I steered us out of the anchorage in a very slow circle while Mark went below and found a new pin. All in all, we had a beautiful sail, punctuated with near misses.

We spent two days in Deshaies stocking up on rhum and foie gras before moving south to Pigeon Island, a Jacque Cousteau National Park. Great snorkeling and the added bonus of a nice French grocery and a Chinese Bazar nearby. Chinese Bazars are shops in the French islands that remind me of old 5 & 10 cents stores. They have the oddest collections of things you have been looking all over for and things no one in the world needs. I found the hair bands I’ve been looking for the past 3 months and Mark found a replacement “Magic Orb of Isis”. It’s a solar two-inch powered L.E.D. light bulb that turns all sorts of colors. I have no idea why he named it that, but he bought one about 5 years ago and it failed about 4 years ago. He was so excited to find two new “orbs”. Now his life is complete. Again. The next day we moved south again to over-night at an anchorage near the southern tip of Guadeloupe to make the next jump south. And Mark realized that one of the orbs doesn’t work. No worries, he’ll fix it.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

We are sailing south along the coast of Dominica. We didn’t stop, although we are very tempted, and are going to St. Pierre, Martinique. Here’s a little lesson about winds for you. Wind travels along mostly in one direction. That direction is determined, at least in part, by where you are on the globe. In the U.S. wind and weather come from the west to the east. The Caribbean is dominated by Trade Winds, that tend to go east to west. But then there are catabatic winds. So, the wind is blowing along across the flat; the ocean, the Great Lakes, the prairie, any open spaces, until it hits the vertical; the mountains, a mesa, a tall city, etc. Then it goes up. That’s rather predictable. The unpredictable part is what happens when it comes down. We are sailing along the coast of Guadeloupe with about 15 knots of wind. Great sailing. All of a sudden, we are caught in a “gust” of 27 knots and the boat is healing over at more than 20o. NOT FUN. On the other hand, we are sailing along the coast of Dominica with an east wind of about 15 knots and suddenly we have wind from the WEST at about 10 knots. If we sail farther away from the shore we can avoid these unpredictable winds, but Mark refuses to sail away from the shore because “if we go out 10 miles, we have to come back in 10 miles”. Yes, but your wife won’t be terrified you if you do…..

WHALE! There have been a lot of whale sightings this year. And I just saw one. Happy now.

Tuesday, April 12

Having refilled my already full freezer with wonderful French goodies, we set sail for St. Lucia. Today’s sail is beautiful. We have never stayed in St. Lucia before. It has had a bad reputation for crime and even violence to cruisers. But we have so many friends who love the island, so we decided to be grown up about it and go for a couple of days. Besides, my new dinghy is there, so we have to go. The anchorage looks beautiful. Long sandy beaches, with big resorts all along. We hadn’t had the anchor down for 30 minutes before the first jet ski went circling around us. Then the water ski guy went zooming past. We spent two days in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, and I don’t even need to go back. (Yes, we got our new dinghy. Happy Birthday to me.)

Thursday, April 14

We have arrived in Bequia, one of “the Grenadines”, small islands south of and part of the big island of St. Vincent. We had been here 20 minutes when we had to hurry up to shore for dominos with Allegro, Hylander, Hero, and Kalunamoo. It’s good to be back with a bunch of friends.

HAPPY PASSOVER. It has become something of a tradition for us to host a Passover Seder. This year was no different. Typically matzoh present a problem. In the past I have scoured stores, had people bring from the US, and gone without matzah. This time I was prepared. When I arrived in Antigua in November, I found Passover matzah in the store and bought two boxes. They have been waiting patiently in my tiny clothes locker since then. We had a wonderful Seder with our friends on Allegro, Kalunamoo, and Hero.

While we are in Bequia we took a trip to the Bequia Heritage Museum. We learned that the “indigenous” people of most of the Caribbean islands came from South America in dug-out canoes, riding the current rather than the wind. Once the European nations came to the Caribbean, Bequia’s sheltered anchorage was used by all nations for careening their boats. The bay was shallow at one end and the crews could bring the ships to that end and tip them over so that they could clean, de-worm, and re-copper the bottoms. It was one of two islands (the other being Dominica) that was never conquered by a European country. Eventually the whaling industry was brought from North America. Bequia is still permitted to take 4 humpback whales each year. In a good year the sale of whale meat and oil will support the whaling families in grand style. In off years, like this one, they don’t know how they will feed their family. We also learned more about whaling then we had known, being taught by the great-granddaughter of one of the more storied whaling men of the past. When the whaling industry declined boat building became central to the island economy. Now there is very little boat building happening and the island is supported by tourism, cruisers, chartered boats, and land-based.

Sunday, April 24

UPDATE on “the Orbs of Isis”. Mark has managed to drop and break both of his magical orbs, one today and one last week. He then spent 20 minutes repairing each of them. I’m just glad it wasn’t me that dropped them.

When the month of April ended, we were sharing the bay with Allegro, Kalunamoo, Miclo III, and Hylander (as well as a lot of other boats we don’t know). Feeling like we are all together is a happy felling.

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