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 Accidental Cruiser in the West Indies

Rum, Bananas and Repairs
This journal is a log of all the messages from Susie & Lance. For pictures, please see the Gallery.
January 26, 2005: Grande Anse d'Arlet, Martinique
    Well, there have been many adventures, many stories to tell, so I have to decide which ones to tell. It would be easy to make this one of those stories-of-fixing-your-boat-in-exotic-locations, but I don't want people to think we don't have any fun. We are currently at anchor in a scenic bay on the eastern coast of Martinique, with our friends Quincy and Sarah on board. The water is crystal clear, the sun is shining, there is a slight breeze. Last night's barbecue provided roast vegetables for this morning's egg fritata and the ship's company is lolling about the deck reading. Turtles are being sighted.

On Monday we were in Ste. Anne where Quincy rented a car and we had an all day land tour. The putative goal of the tour was a pilgrimage to the St. James distillery, because Quincy and Sarah had picked up a bottle of St. James rum somewhere during previous travels, and found it to be superior. The distillery had a rum museum, and nearby was the banana museum. In case you didn't know, there are hundreds of varieties of bananas, they were imported to the islands from Asia in the 1600's, and they come in fruit (dessert) and vegetable (cook to eat, a.k.a plantain) varieties. They are green, yellow, red and purple, small finger bananas, short fat bananas, and the big bunch you cut off the plant is called a regime in French. 93% of the bananas consumed in the world are the ones you find at the Safeway.

Q & S came away from the rum distillery with just over their US Customs alcohol quota, so some rum will have to be brought home by others. The east coast of Martinique looks out across the Atlantic, the roads are well maintained, the fields are lush with sugar cane and bananas, and there must be pineapples there someplace. We all agreed that the rest of the islands should invite France to take them over. This being France, we enjoyed marvelous food in a lovely waterfront restaurant. Later we made Quincy pull over to a roadside stand to buy pineapples, which are in season. You could smell them from across the road, and none of us has ever eaten a tastier pineapple. Unfortunately, in addition to its many scenic and gastronomic wonders, Martinique also held a plague of no-see-ums. These little ankle biters covered our lower legs with itchy bites causing most members of the entourage to swear off land. The ships stores of benadryl are being rapidly depleted.

In early January, we went south to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We went to Bequia, where we hung out in the rain and had a new Bimini made by Withfield. Then we watched all the Moorings Catamarans come into the harbor, figuring that our friends from the sailing club would be bound to come into Bequia sometime during their vacation. Lance claimed to recognize the anchoring style of Tradewinds and dinghied over to a catamaran and sure enough, there was Butch and his crew. We sailed down to Canouan where the Tradewinds crews had to turn in their boats and leave for home. We joined some of the crews on shore for a lovely dinner, and were loaded down with leftovers from all three boats. It was rainy and the winds in Canouan were strong and gusty, and appeared to be trying to remove our new bimini, so we headed back up to Bequia, a more protected anchorage. As we sailed into Admiralty Bay, a photographer in a dinghy took great pictures of us, while we established that we only had electrical power while on a starboard tack. Lance found the problem, the inadequate straps and small pieces of wood meant to hold the batteries in place had broken loose, and one battery cable had come apart. We were able to buy a new connector and pay $2 to get it crimped on and then found small bits of wood and new screws and rebuilt the frames around the battery.
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The weather finally decided to stop raining, so we had aClick for a journal entry list  lovely walk to the other side of Bequia, to an old fort that had become a restaurant and hotel. Then we decided to head north, in order to be in St. Lucia when Quincy and Sarah arrived. On the way, all the gauges stopped working (or rather started registering random and wildly varying numbers). We passed by the Wallilabou anchorage, where the Pirates of the Caribbean sets are being restored for the sequel to start filming, and anchored in extremely scenic Chateaubelair. There Lance wiggled wires while I was forced to stare at gauges and call out every time something wiggled or changed. I got yelled at a lot for being distracted by the beauty of the place and not keeping my eyes at all times on the gauges. We failed to find a simple answer to our difficulties, but got some gauges sort of working.

The anchorage in Vieux Fort, St. Lucia was peaceful, so after walking to the airport to meet Q & S, and bringing them back to the boat, I suggested we try to fix the steaming light. We had brought a new one with us, and it looked like we could put in new bulbs and use the cover from the new one on the old one. Lance and Quincy hauled me up the mast to the steaming light, where I established that the simple answer would not work. So I worked on removing the old fixture. One of the two screws would not move. Lance sent up penetrating oil, and I was struggling with the screw when thwooop, there went the wires, right down the hole in the mast. Oh well, I said, I'm coming down. I screwed the old fixture back in place, the sun was setting anyway by now, so we all enjoyed wine and sunset.

A couple of days later, we took a slip for the night in Rodney Bay, and sent Q & S off to sightsee while we worked on the steaming light again. Of course nothing is ever straight forward, I probably spent an hour and a half up there. First, the line with weights to drop down the hole didn't fit down the hole, so Lance is on deck shaving the fishing weights. Then after successfully pulling the wire back up through the mast and out the hole, I felt it slipping through my sweaty, penetrating oil soaked hands, and not wanting to start over, I leaned in and grabbed it with my teeth, while digging through my tool bag for pliers to grab it with.

Steaming light works. May not be completely correctly wired, but that will be another story. Gauges still flaky. Forward head pump fell apart, and just imagine the worst time for it to do that, and you are there. But we were in Martinique, close to the yachting center, so we were able to purchase and install a new one, when our spare displayed similar problems.

So as I said in the beginning, we are sitting here in an anchorage with crystal clear water, enjoying yet another day in paradise.

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