Our 2002 Hylas 46

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Time to start heading south!

Well it was time for Maryse and I to get going on vacation time – all the big repairs are behind us, the anchor tested out perfectly, the wind generator is running on 2 of 3 phases – kind of like its owner on some days!

One of our last meals in Antigua was to enjoy a beef roti from the Roti King. We have eaten here before and a number of times and always enjoyed the experience … well this time it was an EXPERIENCE. Food poisoning!!!! We this effectively committed us to quarters for a number of days …. But as they say “this too shall pass” and so it did!

Back running on most cylinders we left Antigua for a quick overnight in Deshaies and then on to Les Saints with a plan to get to Martinique in time for Carnival February 10 to 12. Distance wise this is not an issue – that is until the weather gods get involved.

As I mentioned in our last blog, we had an event! We arrived in Les Saintes after a salty and bumpy sail from Deshaies on the northwest corned of Guadeloupe. There was not a mooring ball to be had upon arrival.
Last night was an anchoring night from hell or it is our “Salute to the start of the Winter Olympic Games” – we Canada versus the Swiss at the Anchoring Event ….

At le Cabrits, we dropped the anchor in 70’ of water along with all 250 feet of chain. For us this is very deep anchoring and not one that makes you feel really comfortable for the night. The overnight weather called for wind gusts to 35knots so just to be sure I spent the night in the cockpit - check anchor alarm on the chart plotter (this will tell us if we are dragging outside a defined circle), check behind, check in front, check wind … repeat. At 2AM a boat that was anchored a long way away was drifting very close to us, out came the high powered spot light – nothing - even on strobe the crew on board were dead to the world. Finally it took out the air horn to awaken the almost dead. By now they are within 10 feet of Ambition and I have had to start the engine so that we could motor out of their way.
A rather heated conversation as they tried to convince me that all is fine and not to worry! I am now backed almost to the stern of the boats in the mooring field! They are adamant that whey will not pick up their hook and leave …. when the Swiss are right the Swiss are right! So up comes Ambition’s anchor and we head out into the bay to collect ourselves in the middle of a torrential cloud burst raining horizontally - winds in the bay are a steady 33+knots gusts to almost 40 with zero visibility! After an hour I had at least calmed down enough that I wasn’t going to climb on board their boat and beat them to death with a winch handle!
Re-anchored Ambition in a less than desirable spot and then spent the rest of the night awake on anchor watch. 

This was clearly not a strong win for Ambition Canada versus the Swiss in the 2AM stare down. But not wanting our boat damaged, the best choice was to retreat. Well during the rest of the night the Swiss boat continued to drag as it started heading for Mexico! By sunrise all three crew were on the forward deck and were unable to lift their anchor. After about 4 or 5 hours they finally did succeed but by then I felt that Ambition beat the Swiss on a technical win.

Arch Rival Swiss @##$&^%

A mooring ball became available by 7AM and we hopped onto it and I headed to bed for a few hours – after a LONG night.

At 10AM the Club Med 2 cruise ship arrived and it was interesting that it even took them 3 attempts to get their anchor to hold in the blustery conditions. 
Club Med 2 trying to get their anchor to hold

Club Med 2

We ended up spending 3 nights waiting for the winds to calm down and then we headed to Portsmouth Dominica. Clearly our plan to be in Martinique for Carnival went up in smoke!

We had a super sail in 20 to 25 knots of wind and 8 to 10 foot seas. Ambition hustled along nicely and we arrived early afternoon.

Hurricane Maria – Dominica
This island sustained a direct hit of a category 5 hurricane in late September 2017. As were arrived on the western side of the island we were astounded to see the devastation on what would have been the “protected” side. There are thousands of trees that have had all branches and leaves stripped from the, they stand like sticks on the hillside. Mudslides have washed away wide swaths of forest also.

Mudslides from hurricane Maria

So many trees striped of branches
Staring to grow back
After a walk through town to clear into customs and immigration the commercial dock is a hub of activity as they distribute lumber and building supplies that just arrived by barge.

It will be years to fully recover

Palm trees sprouting new leaves

Dominica was one of the regions most important provider of vegetables and fruits. Most of that has completely disappeared – some vegetables were available in the market but not in the usual quantity we saw last winter, and no fruit at all – the trees will take years to recover I am sure.

The weather has again turned very nasty and we will remain in Portsmouth for at least 5 days. So it is time to start to knock off a few maintenance items off the to do list. We have a number of stainless steel hardware items on deck that are showing signs of saltwater getting under the fittings. Since these fitting carry a certain load they are bolted through the cabin top on the boat. To access the bolts requires that we remove all the ceiling panels in the forward head, the forward cabin and part of the salon! What a task! All the small wood trim is numbered as we remove it and pile all the pieces up so we can get them back together in a few days.

Once the parts were unbolted, cleaned and the old caulking removed, we started the process of applying masking tape (caulking compound has a tendency to cover EVERYTHING and get EVERYWHERE) and then apply new caulk and reattach the parts. You want to tighten them just enough and then wait 24 hours for it to cure before completing the bolt tightening. In the meantime the boat is upside down with parts scattered everywhere. The end result was excellent – Maryse and I are super happy with the outcome after many hours of boat maintenance fun!
Forward cabin before repairs

Salon ceiling disassembly

salon work zone!

Salon before the repairs

Caulking added

Looking good!

The after photo...perfect
Forward cabin all back together

Forward head ...all parts back in and looking good

The weather is really windy … the forecast from our weather guru stated something I have never seen before “north and southbound travel should be "due to emergency only” – steady winds of 30 knots and gusts of 40 and seas are 10 to 15 feet on a 9 second period  UGH!

Here in the bay for the 4th day winds continue to gust at 30+ knots.

Bumpy anchorage in Portsmouth

Portsmouth Dominica

As we await calmer conditions, we joined a group of folks for an island tour that took us from Portsmouth south along the coast to Canefield Airport near Roseau then up the hills inland. Past Emerald Pools that we visited last year. We stopped to hike a short distance through the forest and to see Spanny Falls and pools. WOW beautiful.

Next stop was lunch in Castle Bruce where we ate last year – what a difference – they have only partially recovered from the hurricane – half the building remains and that appears put back together from scavenged lumber and galvanized metal. The food was delicious as we recall but the surrounding hillsides here on the east coats are far more battered than what we saw on the west side of the island.

East side of the island is worse than the west side....

the trees look like Q Tips from a distance

Yesterday and today were Carnival in Dominica and every little community were drove through, we were in the middle of there little celebration – loud music, folks dancing, costumes worn by some and a few adult beverages! All is good.

Happy Valentines Day from Dominica!
We are off to Martinique ….. it will be so good to get sailing again – Happy St Valentines Day!

Another sunset!

another pirate ship Cedrick 

A pirate ship for Cedrick

Sunsets are always special

Yup ... life is all good

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