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CHRISTMAS LIKE YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE December 29, 2015

Posted by sailingnightwatch in Uncategorized.
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One of the main events for us cruisers was a Christmas Day dinner. This whole idea was devised by two cruising ladies while waiting out hurricane season in Grenada. When thing can go wrong, they will. The lady who was putting together the dinner had to go back to England because of major health problems with both her parents. That threw the planning and execution on a poor fellow to make it happen. He did a fantastic job right to getting the bill paid.

Cruisers are a funny lot. First they are cheap. Second you never know if they will show up when and where something is happening. We arrived 9 days early. The weather was to turn nasty, so we went early. The man in charge was trying to find a good number that would go to the dinner and then finding a place to take us for a sit down dinner. First the place that was used last year closed. Like forever. So to get a restaurant committed, they want a solid number of people. He got 30 cruisers. Remember I said cheap. That means driving down the price for a dinner that the establishment sees as one of their big money making days. There were about 10 others that decided to do there own dinner. It sounded as good as ours but not as elegant.

The man did well. Expensive, yes, but not out of line. We had turkey, ham different type vegies, great desert, good wines at a reasonable price. It was great.

Other happenings started with a group of us going to a Mexican restaurant for dinner on Tuesday before Christmas. Wednesday there was a Cocktail party at a restaurant that is part of the yacht clubs. After cocktails, the mate and two of our cruising buddies went to a restaurant that was doing a sing along Christmas carol dinner. Good food and it was fun. We had Mince Meat Pie. We never had it before and it was really good. We also had Mullied Wine. Never heard of that either. It is served hot. Interesting. Not bad, but hot wine? The Brits do strange things. They think the same of us. The carols were like ours, but the melody could be totally different. Lots of fun.

On Christmas Eve there was a potluck on the local beach. You brought a meat dish for yourselves and another dish for sharing. The mate did her rolls.

Christmas the dock yard puts on a champagne charity event. You can buy a bottle of champagne from $30EC a bottle to how ever much you want to spend on a bottle. Then you wander around and look at the big boats that are moored around the yard. You can not go on them, but they are nice to look at. About 5pm we wandered over to the Pillars Restaurant for dinner. This is the same place we had Christmas dinner last year.

The facility is Nelson’s Dockyard. It was a ship repair facility for the British Navy, built in 1671. The building have been restored and filled with modern shops and restaurants. My Facebook site will have pictures of the place. We were here last year and you can look back to see more pictures.

Now we are waiting for a weather window to head to St Martins, Today was the mildest day since we came here. Many of our cruising buddies made a break for places further north and west. We are not in a hurry since we probably will skip St Barts. Last year one session of the Christmas Wind lasted 6 weeks. That would put us behind our schedule for the Bahamas by the last week in March. I am most unhappy about missing New Years in St Barts, but the mate would not have liked this milder day of 7-8 foot seas. Me neither.

HAPPY NEW YEAR.

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December 23, 2015

Posted by sailingnightwatch in Uncategorized.
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CHRISTMAS WEEK

 

We moved over to Falmouth Harbor on Wednesday. We are entering a period of Christmas Winds, and they are starting. The Trades get going good because of weather patterns across the Atlantic. By the time they get to the eastern Caribbean, the winds are approaching 30 kts and the seas get to the 9’-10’ range. That is not were the captain and the Mate are going to be. Last year we were stuck in St Martin for 6 weeks. This year they say they will last till the first of the year then calm down to the normal for this time if year. That is wind in the high teens and seas around 5’-6’. Those are not good, but about as good as it gets.

All year I had hoped to be in St Barts for New Years. Well, it looks like I will be about 70 miles short. We will still get there eventually, but not for the length of time I wanted or the joyous occasion I had hoped for.

Then we will push on to St Martin. I need several items for the boat and that is one of the cheaper places in the Caribbean. Hopefully get things purchased and installed in a timely manner and then move west.

Christmas will include a champagne charity event for the community, followed by a dinner 30 of us cruisers are having. Then it is back to waiting for a weather window. I will get some boat projects done. Been hard this week. I need to chase electrical gremlins. It is hard to tighten wiring connections and crawl in tight places as the boat rolls. The big seas are raping around the southern end of the island and into the bay with occasional 3’ swells. They are hitting us in the stern and causing the boat to surge forward and back. The wind is from our port bow to our starboard bow. That along with the swells causes us to roll back and forth about 5 degrees. Not bad, but gets old.

Had to take a break. A 35 foot sailboat broke free from her mooring and drifted down between our boat and a neighbor boat. Several cruisers got in their dinghies and got control of it and took it back to another mooring for the night. The boat looks closed up for a long time. People do that. They get a mooring and close the boat up for long periods of time while they go home. They normally stay safe during those times. Normally. Well that was our excitement for the day.

Everybody have a very Merry Christmas.

Oh yea, the wifi. There is none. At least they refunded our money. Seems that was also the case last year. Back to hanging out in bars doing your wifi. Hey, it could be worse. Good beer, 80 degrees, good wind, bikini clad eye candy. What’s not to like.

DESHAIES; A SMALL TOWN WITH A GREAT BAKERY December 16, 2015

Posted by sailingnightwatch in Caribbean, Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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This is my kind of town. You get off the dinghy dock and walk through this alley between two restraints, cross the street and you are in the bakery. And it is a good one. Plus the owners daughter is getting good at English. Of course we are also learning the different fillings for Danishes in French. Danish, French and English. I do not remember using that many foreign nouns in one sentence before. It is one of these you sit outside on the sidewalk right beside the street, You could reach out and high five people driving by. Thank goodness there are almost always cars parked along the street.

Enough on getting fat. We left Les Saintes on the 8th and had a very nice sail the 8 miles to Guadalupe. The wind was on our quarter at about 13 knots and only about 1 foot chop. That does not happen very often. Been across that 8 mile strip of water and have had it as rough as any we have been in. We were then in the lee of the island the rest of the day and motored to Deshaies on the north end of Guadalope. We left at 0600 to beat the mid day wind and got to Deshaies at 1145.

It is an interesting anchorage. The bay is maybe a quarter mile across. They have put in mooring balls in half of it. Over half of those are taken by the locals for there boats. The rest of the bay gets filled up with anchored boats. The bottom is not the best holding and they have had several boat at a time drag out to sea. This happens due to the afternoon wind that funnels down from the mountains through 2 passes. It can be a nice pleasant breeze one minute and then gust to 30 knots for the next 12 hours. There are times when the wind gets to 40 and 50 knots. That is when boats drag out to sea. The first afternoon there we got wind in the low 30’s. The next day was calm. The next day there it was almost 30 knots again. We left the next morning.

We left Deshaies for Jolly Harbor, Antigue at 0800. Hoping that the strong wind of the previous day had dropped enough to allow the seas to get back down. Well they did, kind of. Our winds were 18-20 and gusting to 22 kts. Seas were 4-5 foot out of 2 directions. Makes it kind of like a wash machine. Quite a few rolls in the 20+ degrees and an occasional in the 30 degree range. Not bad. Had most of the sails up, but still motor sailed to get across the 45 miles of choppy water. Got in at 1530 averaging 7 kts. Not bad.

My Dock Lord in Pensacola use to talk about marching elephants on the horizon when at sea. He did not like those seas. They look like elephants marching tail to trunk along the horizon. We do occasionally see those on calm days. The mate calls our big seas galloping gorillas. They well up on the horizon or block the horizon and come thundering down on you. It is really amazing how fast they can get from the horizon to slamming into the boat. Remember when the weatherman says the seas will be 4-5 feet, he is only talking about the largest 2/3s of the waves. That still leaves 1/3rd to be of any height King Neptune wants to stir up. This day there were 4-5 footers from the east and also from the northeast. Now, thank goodness that does not mean you get waves of 5’ plus 5’ and have 10 footers. You may get a 6+ footer. They will often crest and those are like the old gray back gorillas. Elephants scatter. Sometimes the 2 waves can hit and grow right beside you. Those I just say WOW to and grab hold. We were sailing along, the mate sitting on the lee side and I was sitting on the windward side, with no shirt on while putting on suntan lotion. One of her gorillas welled up and came into the cockpit. Not the whole wave mind you, but maybe a few gallons, most of which hit me square in the back. It was cold.

We are in Jolly Harbor, Antigue for a few days. It has one of the best grocery stores in the islands. It also has a good size boat store. In a couple days we will go to Falmouth Harbor and spend Christmas there. We were a little worried about Christmas. Two ladies decided to put together a Christmas dinner at one of the restaurants on the bay. There may be 30-40 cruisers there for dinner. They did it for 20 last year and thought it was superb. Well as of yesterday there were only about 2 boats that we knew were going to be part of this. Well yesterday late afternoon and this morning a lot of cruisers showed up. We also understand as of this morning there were 10 others already in Falmouth Harbor. Looks like it could be a good time.

Oh yea, we bought a months worth of WIFI that is good in several of the places we will be for the next couple months. In Deshaies it was the fastest we have had in a long time. Lets hope it is that way in Falmouth. Oh Jolly Harbor…, no WIFI.

WE SAW A WHALE December 7, 2015

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We finally headed north. We moved up to St Pierre on Martinique to stage for our next trip north. St Pierre is the town that was blow away by Mt Pelee in 1909. We went to the bakery, checked out and left about 3:30 AM. Why do I do that. Well we had decided not to stop in Dominica and go straight to Les Saintes. 12 hours. They are a small group of nice island just south of Guadeloupe WFI. They are one of our favorite places. It also has a good grocery store and great laundry. Two very important things for a cruiser. The plan was to spend a Thanksgiving here and leave Monday.

We had a very blustery sail up here and did not want to repeat that sail. We were to sail to Deshaies to stage for going to Antigua. We have about a 5 mile run between Les Saintes and Guadeloupe, then up the lee side of the island. All about 25 miles. Well, we got ready, listen to our weatherman and had real second thoughts. We can stand on deck and look across to Guadeloupe and it looked rough. Real rough. We are not in a big rush, and we do remember the trip here. We decided to stay. Later that day one of our cruising buddies came in and said it was rough. We also heard on the radio there we gusts to 60 in the little crossing. We sailors do exaggerate on occasion, especially about heroine passages. Three other boat buddies came in later that day and posted pics on Facebook.   Those showed we made the right decision. So, here we are planning to leave Tuesday.

It is actually Sunday morning. Why am I doing this on Sunday. I have wifi.

Oh yea the whale. This was a highpoint of the whole cruise. Everybody we know has seen whales…, but us. Well after a rough crossing in which we rolled 20 degrees with each set of swells, and 30 degrees every 5 minutes and into the 40’s 3 times. Those are scary. We got to the lee side of Dominica. Nice flat water. About half way up the island I see what looks like a capsized fishing boat. I slow down and the back begins to rise up as if the boat was sinking. All of a sudden huge flukes rise out of the water and the whale sounds. Not like a noise, but diving towards the bottom. There was another that surfaced right ahead and exhaled, as in “thar she blows”. It stayed on the surface till it was hard to see. They were big. Bigger then our boat. We had seen a pilot whale last year, but they are small. These were the real thing. Of course we are both standing there dumb founded and never think of taking pictures. They were our whales to see anyway. And yes the trip from Dominica to Les Saintes was almost as rough. No 40 degree rolls, but enough 30’s to keep the heart rate going.

Well, we are moving to a different anchorage for a couple days. I need to get the boat ready to go.

We moved to iffy wifi. It is