Cleared out of customs. It was pretty informal. I like an island where the customs official wears shorts.......only shorts, no shirt or shoes. Headed out about 1pm. It's about 110 miles to Fort de France, Martinique.
The weather is strange today. The wind is light and out of the southwest. The sky is clear of clouds except for over the island.
We motored south along the west coast of Basse Terre. There are a lot of fish nets, traps and lines out all along the coast. We are trolling but no luck so far. We have seen a lot of dolphin though.
Later in the day we go some wind, mostly out of the east, but not very consistent. We alternated between sailing and motoring into the night. -DWH
We had some good wind for a while in the early morning hours, but after sunrise it got very light. There was a lot of chop and Fort de France is 35 miles straight into the wind. Laurie tried to make progress for about an hour, but the combination of the light head wind and the chop made it very difficult. Eventually we decided to motor in hopes to reaching land today. A few hours later Jo calculated that at our current speed we would not make the customs office before it closed for the weekend and Monday is a holiday. We went to full speed, using all 18 ponies.
As we approached Fort de France we started seeing dolphins, and they were in the mood to play as described by Laurie in Dolphins!.
The Nautical Almanac says that customs is open until 5pm. We made it by 4:13. The sign on the door said that it is open until 4:15, but it looks like everyone left early. I guess that I can't complain about them taking off early after saying how cool it was that they were so informal on Guadeloupe. Anyhow, the sign also says that they are open every day, so maybe we can clear in tomorrow rather than having to wait until Tuesday. -DWH
Checked into customs. The customs guy was exceptionally friendly. Tomorrow is a holiday celebrating the abolition of slavery. He got pretty excited when Stacy expressed interest in the local festivities.
We took a quick walking tour of Fort de France. Along the way we picked green mangos in a park and found a small market, but almost everything else was closed. We bought some bread and two grilled chickens from a guy with a huge grill on a street corner. Then we headed back to Ladybug.
We had lunch and then planned to sail to Grande Anse, 8 miles south. First the port engine would not start. After about an hour of looking, thinking, checking voltages and tracing wires I found a relay socket without a relay. About 30 seconds later I found a relay in the bilge. Problem solved. Next we tried to raise the main sail, but one of the batten slides kept getting stuck half way up the mast. Further inspection revealed a screw that had backed out on the slide and was digging into the mast. We fixed that slider and checked out the rest. Finally we were off sailing.
We anchored at Grande Anse and headed to the beach to check out the scene before sunset. We found a great party with lots of dancing and good rum punch. It was all locals except for us. The old women were smiling at us (the classic test), so we knew we were welcome. There were about 60 boats anchored off the beach, but it seems that everyone else "missed the boat".
After we had enough dancing we headed back to Ladybug for pasta and Stacy's mango crisp (from the mangos we picked). - DWH
We all took a stroll on the beach. Stacy likes to find polished glass. With the five of us looking we found a ton.
After our walk we did some swimming around the boat. We saw 3 or 4 different kinds of what I believe are jelly fish. There are ones that are shaped like the little bad guy fighter space ships in Starwars. They are about 2 inches wide and have four dark spots. There are also ones that have a similar shape and no spots. There was one that was a little bigger than a bottle cap and was covered with purple spots. And finally there were things that may not have been jelly fish but were transparent like jelly fish. They were like ribbons from 2 to 6 inches long and about 1/2 inch wide.
Around noon we hauled up the beast and sailed to Anse Mitan. We had dinner and then went to shore. We settled at the Barracuda bar where they had live music. The bar has open sides and extends out on to the beach. We sat outside and enjoyed the sunset along with our cocktails. After a while the music stopped in the bar and the musicians moved to the beach. A bond fire was started, more people showed up, and soon there was a drum circle with singing, a guy playing a conch shell, another guy playing a beer bottle, etc. It was a great party. People kept moving around, first playing one drum, then dancing, then blowing on the conch shell, then playing another drum. We all danced and really enjoyed the scene, and later in the evening I even took a turn on one of the drums.
Eventually a rain storm moved in. We rushed out to Ladybug to close the hatches. It was raining really hard and a couple of us (no names) stripped down and took rain showers on the deck. We were having way to much fun to go to bed at that point so we opened a bottle of wine and continued to party. -DWH
It was a rough morning.
About 12:30 we left Anse Matin and sailed to Fort de France. Went into town to look for airline tickets for Matti. He needs to get back to St Martin to catch his flight home. Found a flight for about $100.
JO went to a Internet cafe (actually a bar) and started to update the web site. -DWH
JO, Laurie, and Matti did stuff in Fort de France. Stacy and I took a bus to Le Marin to try to find a replacement for our broken "NKE" instrument display. The company had been out of business, but apparently one of their suppliers has purchased it. We have been trying to find a replacement since we bought the boat. I guess today was our lucky day. We found one. Unfortunately it was almost $400, ouch! -DWH
We rented a car and toured the northern part of the island. It was not as cool as the day of hiking and waterfalls in Guadeloupe but was still very pleasant. We had a fantastic lunch at a roadside pizza place. Then we took Matti to the airport for his flight to St. Martin.
It was great having Matti as a guest. He was very helpful, fun to be around, and enjoyed all the same things we do.....sailing, swimming, etc. He even gave Laurie some good competition at Scrabble. -DWH
Cleared out of customs (we are leaving tomorrow, but they let us clear out today). We got water and diesel (hours = 1025). Sailed to Grande Anse. Prepared Ladybug to sail tomorrow including stowing the inflatable and outboard. Then we had a big salad for dinner. - DWH