March 18. Next day after arriving in Roseau, Dominica from Martinique, we set off to explore the island. I'd say it turned out to be the most beautiful island we've visited so far.
Brigette, Gerald, our guide Gordon, and Linda
After a month In a slip at Le Marin Marina in Martinique, we left yesterday for our next sailing adventure. We anchored out near Ste Anne in 20 feet and 20-30 knot winds. We set the anchor (or thought we did!), let out a lot of scope (7:1), and set the anchor alarm. We had dinner and went to bed.
I was awakened at 2am when the anchor alarm went off. Our anchor was dragging along the bottom. But we were in a huge anchorage with no deep water and no boats in our path so I didn't wake Linda. At daybreak, we pulled up the anchor and what a surprise to find the anchor tangled up in an old lobster cage. We had either anchored on top of it--or grabbed it as we dragged across the bottom.
Below is what you want to see when you check the anchor alarm after say, a few hours. It shows the place where the anchor is located and it shows a track of where the boat is and has been. In this case, the boat is drifting along a line restricted by the anchor from moving any further back (to the left) and away from where we originally dropped the anchor. This screenshot was taken several hours after we re-anchored this morning. The anchor is holding.
Below is what you DON'T want to see. This screenshot shows that the anchor is dragging. The boat has moved from right to left in this case over about 200 meters over several hours. The alarm went off about 2am when the boat got outside the circle. We later learned the anchor couldn't hold because we had picked up the old lobster cage--and the wind was howling at 20-30 all night pushing our 17 ton boat out to sea. The anchor alarm is an app we downloaded from the Apple App Store. This is called Anchor. Another popular app is called Drag Queen. 😎
Tomorrow we head north. We'll stay overnight in St Pierre, Martinique, and then cross the channel to Dominica. We'll stay there a few days. It is supposed to be one of the most beautiful islands with mountains, waterfalls, and lush tropical forests. Stay tuned.
"Good fences make good neighbors..."
Robert Frost, 1914
"Good fenders make good neighbors...
Rick Grimes, 2017
"Fenders" are used to protect your boat from banging into another boat, dock or piling. We are sitting in a marina right now (Le Marin, Martinique) with our puny (but adequate) fenders out on both sides of Rascal. Our neighbors on both sides also have their fenders out. The neighbor on our port (left) side came in yesterday from an 8-day ocean voyage from Cape Verde) with these giant fenders reminding me of the Robert Frost proverb. He's a good neighbor. I have no worries about any damage to our boat if he is blown into Rascal whether sitting, coming or going! Mostly you'll see fenders this big on the mega-yachts and ocean-liners.
In the French tradition, Carnival is Saturday through Wednesday with Fat Tuesday in between. And modified here on Martinique with a Caribbean flavor. Every town and village has a parade--a little Easter, Halloween, and Fourth of July. Imagine ear-splitting Island music in every photo taken below. Martinique is pretty much closed down over these four days--except for restaurants. Lots of fun!
Why doesn't anyone seem to know about this?
Did you know that "only" about 2,000 people died in Pompeii when Mt Vesuvius erupted? I say "only" because when Mount Pelee erupted in 1902, it killed 30,000 people---every man, woman and child and every other living thing---wiping out St. Pierre, the "Paris of Martinique"; the economic center of the Caribbean Islands. Actually, though horribly burned, there was one survivor; a condemned prisoner sentenced to die the next day and residing in the isolation cell. (He was pardoned and later toured with the Barnum & Bailey Circus.)
All news to me...
When we left Fort du France, Martinique, on the south end of Martinique on January 22, we sailed up the west coast to the top of Martinique and visited St. Pierre, the town re-built over the rubble left from the eruption. We snorkeled over one of the 7-8 sunken ships that went down in 25-50 feet of water and we walked the streets so vividly described in a book about the disaster, "The End of the World." Fascinating read. Fascinating experience.
The volcano had been waking up for weeks but government officials (for political reasons) kept reassuring everyone that there was nothing to fear. In late April and early May in the surrounding areas on farms and hamlets, mudslides were killing hundreds, the earth was opening up and swallowing people, and flash floods were drowning many more. The shame of it was that the government encouraged people to seek refuge in St. Pierre. It was safe they assured them. As the volcano got angrier and angrier, the Governor of Martinique and his wife even came up from Fort du France to calm people. They stayed at a fancy hotel and the next morning on May 8 at 8:02 am....they were all burned to death--30,000-- by a pyroclastic cloud of superheated gases and hot ash that enveloped the city. Read about it on Wikipedia....
Last week, we toured Martinique by car with the crew of Aloha (Steve and Liz) all the way to the top of the island and back down. Had a great lunch on the northern tip of the island and left a couple days later for St. Pierre--known for a volcano that wiped out the town in 1902. But more about that later...
Here is Rascal anchored but about to join the search for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow...
Ahh... The French cuisine...and this was just lunch at a little place called Tante Arlette
Rascal is spending the month of December at a marina in Martinique--a part of France (much like Hawaii is part of the US.)
Thus, fresh baguettes and croissants every day from the local boulangerie and wonderful French restaurants everywhere. It is the most civilized of all the islands it seems and, of course, French-speaking. Bon jour, bon soir, merci, baguette and toilette are the limits of my vocabulary.
We befriended a French couple (Patrick and Frederica) who have lived on their boat for the past five years (going back to France for two or three months a year). Frederica promised us a traditional French Christmas Day and dinner for the American crews of Aloha (Steve, Liz and Sara), Rascal (Rick and Linda), La Bella Vita (Ben and Gayle) and Django (their boat)--and it was a feast! Aloha hosted and it lasted from noon Christmas Day until 7pm.
Sara is a Peace Corps volunteer currently working in Zambia but visiting her Aunt Liz on Aloha. Sara's mother is also visiting but missed Christmas because she broke her wrist the day before and is in a Martinique hospital...!
We will be sailing north from Martinique about January 7 to continue island-hopping. By the end of January, we expect to be in Guadeloupe--another island that belongs to France...
We've made some great friends in Steve and Liz Davis who own an identical sailboat to ours. Last week, we had a brisk sail from Bequia, St. Vincent to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia and took videos of each other's boats--then celebrated my birthday ashore. In the video, "Aloha" is in front of "Rascal." In the background of "Rascal" is the west coast of St Lucia and twin peaks called the "Pitons."
I will kiss my anchor when we bring it up and sail in a couple of days from St. Lucia to Martinique.
We were anchored in calm and peaceful Rodney Bay last night--facing east with about 10 knots of wind when we were suddenly hit with a squall that turned us west towards the ocean. The winds, within seconds, accelerated to 40-50 knots followed by swells and breaking waves of 5-6 feet.
There were boats anchored all around us but we kept our eyes on Aloha--anchored adjacent to us. If Rascal stayed the same distance from Aloha, it meant our anchor was holding. If not, we were in trouble and could end up on the beach.
Over the next hour we heard people yelling and saw boats all around us lose their anchor holds and drag towards the beach. But Rascal (and Aloha) held! The wind, waves and rain stayed up for 45 minutes before they subsided.
A mayday went out when one boat crashed into the rocks--but nothing we could do. When we got up this morning we saw one sailboat had been dis-masted and another was on the beach.
I love my anchor...
November 16. Aloha (our friends Steve and Liz) and Rascal (Linda and I) checked out of Grenada and had a nice 6-hour sail to Carriacou where we spent the night at Sandy Island. Next day we sailed to Clifton, Union Island and checked into the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Rick and Linda Grimes bought a sailboat and left the U S of A for the Caribbean in 2015.