We finally got off our butts, and left St. Lucia, to see if the boat sails and to improve the quality of the ship's stores. British Islands just don't have good food. So we're missing Sunday dominoes at the Yacht Club! We hear that the American community which dominated St. Anne, Martinique, in previous years is in Venezuela this year. Or spread about or something. We have met a number of cruisers who parked here for months. Although it is very nice here, we do prefer to sail some of the time.
Anyway, on the topic of sailing, we had failed on our first attempt to put up the main, because we weren't careful enough to make sure that the stack pack zipper and sail were properly aligned. It was getting dark by then, and we realized this meant the whole sail had to come off the main and off the boom, and we'd have to start over. Damn. And then we accidentally pulled the outhaul into the boom. As we put things to bed, realizing we would have to try again tomorrow, we noticed the pile of battens on deck. Oops. Something else forgotten. In the morning, we once again blessed cousin Jim Huber, who 2 years ago advised us to get a plumber's snake on board. That thing has been so useful for running wires through hidden places, and now served to fish the outhaul out of the boom. So the mainsail was successfully installed, battens and all, the stack pack zipped up and we were theoretically ready to sail. We still haven't gotten around to tying the reefing lines on.
In St. Lucia, we enjoyed talks by Don Street and Chris Doyle, the authors of the Eastern Caribbean cruising guides. They both pointed out that there is far too much obsession with weather and weather windows when after all, the sailing is great most days. The 190 ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) boats were arriving frequently during our stay in Rodney Bay, so there were lots of special activities we could join in. We set the radio on scan and listened to the excited and relieved first contacts, as boats hailed "ARC berthing" to be assigned a slip, and then on a couple of busy days, we listened to ARC berthing calling ARC office, "We need more Rum down here on A dock!". The greeting after the 2-4 week Atlantic crossing includes a siren, people to take your lines, and rum punch. As we came in via dinghy, we watched an arriving boat change into their matching shirts, raise their ARC flag, and then turn into the dock, before realizing they had forgotten to put out their fenders or get out their dock lines. Well, it was a long trip.
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| We left St. Lucia and the first surprise was the autopilot and depth sounder failed to turn on. The seas were lively, at least 4-6 feet, and winds 15-20 knots, so we were bouncing around nicely. Lance had worked on the console to repair the ammeter which was not working, so we suspected he may have knocked something loose. It was quite a picture, me steering and holding onto screws and parts, while Lance lay across the cockpit table looking up into the back side of the instruments to find the connections, which were restored within a few minutes. The bouncy seas calmed down more and more as we approached Martinique. It is about 25 miles between the islands, and we made it anchor to anchor in 30, so there was just a little tacking. Along the way, we got to watch the delightful spectacle of the local Yole sailing. These are basically long wooden canoes with way, way to much sail and a large group of large men hiked out on poles stuck in the gunnels to balance the sails power and a few smaller ones bailing like madmen. Big crash and burn action. What a wild show. Capsizing and swamping is common so there are lots of colorful chase boats following along.
It is necessary to check in with Customs in Le Marin, so we went in and anchored there on Friday. We chose our spot to be a short dinghy ride to the supermarket, so we could stock up on French wine and other goodies. Customs is only open in the morning, so on Saturday, we got ourselves legally checked in, enjoyed a pain au chocolat, and then explored and provisioned. After some rest (Lance was at the exciting point in his book), we pulled up anchor and moved to St. Anne, a lovely small village, huge anchorage, nice swimming spot. There was a lovely sunset with French wine, baguettes and pate, and a peaceful evening on board. That's as it should be, right?