Happy New Year 2018-01-03
The computer tells us it is the 3rd of January, and the internet tells us that we are in for even more rain, today and tomorrow, here in Ste Anne, Martinique. The rainy season has been particularly rainy this season. It is not so bad, as it rains in 20 minute squalls, then provides us with hot, humid sunshine for an hour or two. Certainly we should not complain, as Hugh and others from Atlantic Canada explain that they are under threat of a winter hurricane up there tomorrow. Likely, people will die!
News from home includes the trial of a neighbour of ours who attacked another neighbour. We should not comment, but when the victim is still under medical care months later, and the aggressor is a head taller with a reputation for violence and insists he was not the aggressor, one must roll their eyes.
We arrived in Ste. Anne on December 7th, after a lovely 3 hour passage from Rodney Bay, but found the anchorage so crowded that we anchored about a kilometre from the main dock. Good news is that there is a reasonable little dock just 3 minutes away that allows a sweet walk into town, a nice hike to a beach, and a Laundromat steps away. The large mangrove estuary in which the Marin boat haven is situated is just another kilometre further, however, and the water is often a bit murky, especially on the falling tide. Our chain looks like a long fuzzy, plush toy, with all the growth on it. I (Laurie) get in to cool off and to bathe most days.
It is a massive anchorage that spreads a mile or more out along a relatively sheltered coast. The holding is good in our area, and even with some blistering winds lately, no other boats have slid into or by us. A 40 knot gust in a squall caught s/v Aspen and laid her over at 40 degrees while it readjusted her at anchor. It was impressive. No boats dragged near us, nor were there cries for help.
The temperature here is hot, not cold; but quite manageable in the harbour. We sweat if we exert any effort onboard with chores, or when we go ashore for walks or shopping, but we are becoming used to it. We read a lot, and I try to fix one thing per day on the boat, or carry out one maintenance item per day - which leaves me sweaty enough to need to get into the water. Dawn is similarly busy with domestic chores. Otherwise it is a lazy time. We get together with our friends, but still watch our sunsets alone on our boats often enough.
We have made 5 trips into the larger town of Marin, with its marinas and chandleries - two trips by water – with our dinghies being hauled in behind s/v Tarentela, and three by local bus - to arrange internet services, pick up the consumable boat and engine products, to get big grocery store things, and to increase the variety of our lunches ashore. Always a crowd, and always fun but for the stress of buying internet data plans from phone companies in foreign tongues, which is apparently a very iterative process. We now seem to have 2 plans finally working from Digicel and from Orange - why and how is too complicated to answer.
We have made our favourite hike to a large beach on the south coast; favoured because after an hour or so, we have a fantastic little meal with cold beer before walking back, and because it is really a large mobile chat session with friends through picturesque shore-side forest. There is a nice paved walking route through town that we frequent, but other hikes are not being done because of the wetness of the trails.
On board, I got another article completed and sent to the Caribbean Compass; this one on our now-retired meteorologist, Denis (and Arleen), who provided our weather for 12 or so years, but just sold his boat and returned to Canada. It will be published in the February issue. John of s/v Stoppknot has started up a net at Denis’ former time and frequency, and we are having fun on it; keeping in touch with the friends we met through Denis’ efforts.
The biggest thing about this period has been our lunches and get-togethers. We had a giant buffet with 9 other couples on Xmas day at a restaurant called Touloulous, which included all you care to drink and eat; followed by a float in the ocean in front of the restaurant.
|Bobbing in the water after Christmas dinner at Touloulous!|
|Al and Michele in the foreground - frolicking!|
|Touloulous restaurant Table #1 for 10!|
|Touloulous Table #2; 10 more of us!|
There is also a place called Boubou’s, where Philippe serves bokit - a sandwich in a bread pocket. Our favourite is named after the restaurant and includes hamburger, fried egg, bacon, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, carrot slivers, (all known as les crudités) cheeses, and some very tasty condiments.
In the boatyard is a restaurant called Le Sextant, which has very French cuisine at low prices. The plat du jour always is accompanied by 250 ml of chilled wine. We have had crevettes and a chicken dish, always with healthy and tasty sides we do not see on other islands.
I will leave two or three other places out of this, but you get the idea.
I should also add that we had an outrageous cockpit party on New Year’s Eve on Cat Tales, with twelve in attendance. Initially, one would expect that would be too crowded, but before midnight, there was even considerable dancing. Check out the pictures. ...and yes, we made it to midnight and beyond!
|New Year's Eve aboard Cat Tales|
|Turn it up!!|
|The foolishness continues into 2018!!|
|Steve and Maria making the long trek over to our boat. All gussied up for New Year's Eve!|
Lorna and Brian are anchored behind us, with Aspen beside us, and Tarentela was just another boat away, until they headed north yesterday. L&B has just returned to their boat with some people Kristen met at the laundromat last week who are looking for a boat. (L&B want to sell). S/V Baidarka with Joanna and Bill, S/V Tanglewood with Jenny and Steve, and three other new friends are also all close by; with more heading our way daily from Rodney Bay. We may soon have to leave just to survive.
After 4 trips up the mast with numerous fittings, I have concluded that the jib furler will have to fend for itself; indeed I do not think the deterioration is continuing.
|Laurie working up the mast on a relatively calm afternoon in Saint Anne, Martinique (photo compliments of Aspen, anchored beside us.|
The alternator alarm that I was troubleshooting – not just this year but last, was eliminated by changing out the alternator for a spare – suggesting strongly that the problem is some kind of short among the windings or the internal diodes. So I now have an alternator to be investigated in Grenada. With a boat with two alternators and two starters, we send something to Al Bernadine of Goyave for repairs most years.
When Cat Tales came home to Canada in 2002, the engine control handles crumbled in our hands and I reconstructed them out of putty, epoxy, polyester, and a few other products; as I could not source replacements. Well, portions of the work again started to show trouble, primarily as the aluminum core of the original handles was growing as it oxidized. I have reconstructed them again, and epoxy-coated them.
|Laurie working on the repair of the handles for the engine control. Many steps to finish this job!|
With that, we just have small chores to keep us barely involved until the next thing breaks. No worries - it is a boat; something will give way. We all have a saying: “If it ain’t broke, don’t use it!”