Monday, March 19, 2007

Friday 16th March

La Marin

14 27.737 N
60 52.127 W

A bit of an easier start to the day, we were going to be leaving at 08.00hrs but as we were ready to go we left about 15 minutes earlier. Dale and Lorie began heading out of the anchorage whilst we were hauling up the last of our anchor. I was motoring slowly forward whilst Gerry hauled it in when suddenly he yelled into the headphones to stop and back up very slowly. I did as asked and he told me that we had a cable coming up with the anchor, this could have been a major problem but it appeared to be an old cable which wasn’t attached at either end. Gerry managed to hook it back off the anchor and dropped it back into the water and we were able to then haul the rest of the anchor back in and motor out of the anchorage. As we reached the outside Gerry hoisted the main sail with its usual first reef in place. The weather forecast for the day said that we should expect squalls with winds in the range of 20 – 25 knots but relatively small seas. Our journey for the day was to be 35 miles to the anchorage at La Marin at the southern end of Martinique. As we left St. Pierre the squalls began and it began to rain almost straight away though it didn’t last long and we were soon complaining about the humidity in the cockpit. Once the first squall cleared we unfurled the jib in the hope of being able to sail at least some of the way. The wind was just off the nose and we fiddled around trying to sail but in the end we motor sailed for the first part of the trip. Eventually though the wind clocked around just enough to allow us to turn off the motor and sail for a while which was quite pleasant. We weren’t able to get the speed up to the dizzy heights of yesterday but managed a respectable 6 knots for most of the time. I decided to try out the fishing gear again and threw the line in the water at 09.00hrs and spent the next 5 hrs watching it drag in the water behind us teasing the fish but not luring them close enough. As we got closer to the southern end of the country we had to make a turn towards the East – guess where the wind was coming from? So we furled the jib away and began to make our turn in order to cut between Diamond rock and the mainland. With the wind now directly on our nose and the swell hitting us from every direction it was time to reel in the fishing line and stow it away for another day. The seas between the rock and the mainland were pretty fierce and we were bashing into them at an alarming rate. The waves were coming over the bow and spray coming into the cockpit it was very uncomfortable and forced our speed down to about 3 knots – it was almost like we were going backwards at times. Gerry changed course again and headed us further away from our destination and closer to Diamond rock in the hope of making it a smoother run in the end. At we got closer it was time to tack again and steering as close as we dared to the rock we transited through the gap and out the other side where we were glad to find that the sea was a little calmer but still hitting us head on. With only a couple of miles left to go we continued to motor towards St Anne and La Marin. We got to about a mile away and a stupid man in a sailboat suddenly tacked across in front of us for no obvious reason and then yelled at us that he had fishing lines in the water! Gerry was less than impressed as we had to alter course and slow down to avoid getting this idiot’s fishing lines wrapped around our propeller, I bet you can imagine what the language was like! If this man had tacked 2 minutes later he would have gone behind us and there would have been no problem. Dale who was traveling behind us at the time saw it happen and was as astonished as we were that the man had tacked when he did, it was so unnecessary, still you can’t anticipate what every idiot will do. Shortly after this we were at the entrance to St Anne and La Marin, as Dale and Lorie had been here before they overtook us near the entrance and led the way into the vast harbour. La Marin is the largest yachting center we have seen for a while, there were boats everywhere. We managed to find a decent space to stop and dropped the anchor. It was then time to have a very late lunch and tidy away the transit gear. We had just one small mishap this trip, one of the blocks on the main sheet traveler was going to need replacing as one of the inner wheels had broken – as its made of plastic we suspect that it has been made brittle by the sun and just cracked under pressure. It was no big deal as we could still use it but as there are a few chandlers here it’s the ideal place to get the spares and replace lost and broken gear. We hoisted our Q flag and discussed going into town to clear in, as it was getting on for 16.00hrs by this time the customs were closed for the day so that was the end of clearing in for the day, it would have to wait until the morning. We all cleaned up and changed our clothes and then took the dinks into town to have a quick look around and then have drinks and dinner. Whilst the guys inspected the chandlers Lorie and I went and ordered the first round of drinks at the bar, by the time the guys joined us it was time for the second round. We asked about some sort of snack to tide us over until we had dinner, well we needed to soak up the alcohol with something, but to our surprise there was nothing available. Anything would have done, chips, nuts, fries, sandwiches but guess what we had to have in the end – ice cream! It was the only thing for sale. I have to say it was pretty good ice cream but it really didn’t do the trick and we were soon looking for somewhere to eat dinner. It’s quite difficult in the French countries to find anywhere that serves dinner before 19.00hrs but we found a decent place not too far from the dock, admittedly we were the first customers for the night but we were starving after all! We had a terrific dinner and then made our way back to the dinghy dock, collected our dinks and roared out to our boats, all agreeing that an early night was the order of the moment. Plans were made for the guys to go in and clear customs early in the morning and to do their “boat” shopping at the chandlers whilst Lorie and I had a sleep in.



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