Well, we've been busy. Still, we could have written! Does it justify a long blog?
We finished up our adventures at Marie Galante, revisited Les Saintes, and have been in Dominica for over a week.
After we caught and enjoyed the monster mahi mahi with the crew of Charlotte D, we rented a car with Jim and Cristine of the boat Ullr. Ullr is an Island Packet 38, but a version with a weighted centreboard housing and centreboard. The crew is one more set of friends we have met through the "Friends of Denis" group of people who get their weather each morning from Denis Webster of Tiger Lily II. The trip around the island was a fun thing to do, with interesting, quiet country roads and an interesting French-Caribbean cuisine lunch. We also did a hike with them and the crew of Discovery, Bob and Anita, and a rather poor attempt to find a good snorkeling area.
After the snorkeling, Bob and I made up for it by hunting an invasive species that is depleting the reefs of young fish - the toxic spined lionfish - behind our boats. Bob had a long hawaiian sling, while I had a much shorter sling with a barbed trident that I had purchased back in Marin. I had much more luck, but between us, we killed at least nine of the suckers. None of the fish had enough meat on them to be worth snipping the spines and cleaning, so we just let them float away, dead or mortally wounded. One fish just escaped my barbs by swimming under a rock. As I awaited to see if I would be awarded another chance, it scurried back out of the hideout with a big bite out of its belly. Back at the rock, a small moray eel stuck its head out with what looked like a self-satisfied grin on its face. Dawn also circled around and found one of our wounded victims was partially covered by an octopus that was gently working around the evil barbs on it. I really felt I was having fun like a little kid.
|Both Laurie and Bob sticking it to the evil Lionfish!|
|Trying again to get the one that "got away" and slipped under a rock!|
The trip downwind back to Les Saintes was a dream, with us only using our jib. We also refused to fish, as our freezer was still crowded with Mahi Mahi. We were joined in Les Saintes by Al and Michelle of Tarantella, Chris and Fran of Changes, and again Peter and Catherine of Charlotte D. We did some hiking as well as visiting each other's boats for sundowners. Great reunions with lots of stories.
We had one bit of trouble while there, however. While waiting at anchor for a mooring ball to become available, two novice sailors who were taking lessons on a Hobie 16 slammed into our starboard stern. The wind was howling, they were out of control, and screaming towards us on a beam reach, the main loaded, the jib loose, and both heads down straightening up the ropes. Had they stayed on their trajectory, they would have put two bows right through the boat. Dawn's scream got their attention, they looked up, and the helmsman tried to miss us by steering downwind. With an unbalanced sail plan, he could not clear us. His starboard bow hit the very stern edge of us - likely the only place strong enough to withstand it. We had the sailing school come out and do the fibreglassing, but the gelcoat work will have to be done by me in Grenada.
|Damage done by an inattentive captain of a fast traveling Hobie Cat while at anchor in the Saintes (Guadeloupe)|
Our sail to Dominica on Sunday, February 5th, was reasonable: a beam reach in large waves but only 15 knots of wind. I attempted it with all reefs in, thinking I could get it done with a minimum of sail. However, after going 5 knots at the bottom of waves and 3 knots at the top, I shook a reef out and put a little more jib out to enjoy a constant 6.5 knots, with some blowing spray. So, it was salty but enjoyable, and Dominica's very common rains cleaned it all up by morning. The number of boats in the Portsmouth anchorage leading up to Cruiser Appreciation Week has been outrageous. Last year, the inaugural event may have had 60 or 70 boats, still an amazing number for the area. By Thursday night, before the event even started, I counted 120 yachts; and this week there has to be 140 at least. The yacht service fellows are having a great, but busy time with it all.
Lorna and Brian arrived on Sunday; and even though they had a rough crossing and a heart-breaking amount of leakage of salt water into the boat and bedding, they came to Cat Tales for a supper of mahi mahi.
Not much else to tell you. We've been involved in barbecues, hikes, sundowners, and of course fantastic hikes. Hopefully, the pictures can help tell some of this.
|Gorgeous scenery around Marie Galante while driving in our rental car!|
|If anyone ever wonders why we anchor on the west side of the islands, well, here's why! This is the east side, and of course the wind blows out of the east almost all the time!!|
|Anina (s/v Prism), Cindy (s/v Sititunga), Lorna (s/v Peace and Plenty) and Dawn (s/v Cat Tales) attending the BBQ in Portsmouth put on by the boat boys who look after us here while in Dominica|
|The other halves of the girlie picture. Charlie, Dan, Brian and Laurie all in the same order as the gals photo!|
One bit of hard work I've attempted since last report involves alternator work. Cat Tales has two alternators: a 55 ampere, and a 80 ampere; each of which has a specially matched shunt and amp meter. However, as alternators have been replaced or serviced, they got mixed up with the incorrect shunts; and one seemed to be putting out way too little "juice". I finally re-arranged the installations, cleaning all contacts; and have the assemblies properly working and reporting. One full work day, two rags, one emery board, and a few dabs of dielectric grease (and one small cut on my hand).
All other systems are working well also.