Saturday, June 03, 2006

Nevis to Guadaloupe June 2006
Picture: Ross at small waterfall on river hike

After a pleasant walk to the bakery in Basseterre, St. Kitts, we paid our marina bill ($57 US for the 3 nights) we were off to Nevis. The wind continues to be on the nose, but at least we are in the lee of St. Kitts, so we motored southeast. We had hardly anchored off the Four Seasons Resort, when we were radio invited by Rock and Roll to a potluck on their boat that evening. Tom and Christine hosted a spaghetti dinner for 13, and we all fit. It was a great opportunity to establish relationships with the new group of boats we would be travelling with as we all head south. Each boat has a slightly different timetable and destination, but along the line we will be seeing or hearing each other on the radio.
Dawn the next morning we left with Paanga, heading for Guadaloupe. We were doing okay, motor sailing close hauled toward the north end of Montserrat. Because of the ash venting, travel on the western side was not recommended. At 1230 we got an excited call from Paanga, they had experienced 30-35 kn. Winds as they rounded the northern point of the island. We reefed our sails and tacked further north to remain in the deeper water. It was a very rough sail around the north end. We experienced 30Kn winds, huge waves, and the inside of RAFT was just a mess from the pounding and sea spray.
Fortunately we knew that the entrance to Deschaies (pronounced De Hay) was straight in, and Paanga had left a night light on to guide us in. We arrived in around midnight and we happy to get the anchor down. No real damage, but everything was wet and salty and in disarray.
The next morning we checked in with the French officials, no problem and no charge and set off on the hike up the Deschaies River. It is not a well marked trail, in fact there didn’t appear to be trail at all, we just climbed the rocks as we made our way up the river. Near what we thought had to be the top, we stopped and skinny dipped in the fresh water…it was great. Doyle’s guide book promised a road at the top, which we never saw. Finally we took off up the river valley, into a field, over a gate into a monastery. We asked the monk, which way back to Deshaies, and he pointed to the left. We walked down the concrete road, picking mangoes as we went. Once we were in town, we met some other cruisers, talked a little before heading back to RAFT.
Picture: picking mangoes along road

As we approached RAFT we noticed that the snubber was off, and that we were anchored with our secondary anchor on rode. Very quickly we found out that our chain rode on the Bruce anchor had broken, and RAFT was adrift in the harbour. Other boaters came to her rescue, before she drifted out too far, found the key we always leave in the ignition and used the second anchor which is always ready to reanchor her. What wonderful people cruisers are. We were able to find out easily who we were indebted to, and gave our heartfelt thanks. Then we set about finding our anchor and what had happened. Fortunately we were only anchored in 18 feet of water, and with 100 feet of chain on the sand, it was easy to find and follow it to the anchor. With the help of Gary from Rainbow Rider (a diver) we were able to retrieve the chain (it ended up in the garbage) and our anchor which was attached to our spare rode.
As to why the chain broke, all we can say, is that the chain had rusted badly over the summer in Florida. We tried to clean it with acid, paint it with anti rust paint, but it continued to flake rust all winter, gumming up the windlass and making a mess of our decks. We thought it was a cosmetic problem and were planning on getting new chain in Grenada, part of our summer list of things to do. Obviously, it was more than a cosmetic issue, and one of the links gave way. Not going to chance it again, it all was disposed of, and until we have the opportunity to replace it, we will be anchoring with 50 ft of chain and the rest nylon rode. This will require putting out more scope and allowing more swinging room and maybe even using 2 anchors if necessary. We were very lucky the chain broke where and when it did and no damage was done to RAFT or any other boats.
We were getting anxious to start moving south, especially as Chris on his morning weather reports is starting to talk about tropical waves and the first tropical depression of the season. We head off for the Saints. We have a nice sail in the lee of Guadaloupe, and stayed close to the light house as we come to the southern most point. The winds were unusual, even westerly (onshore) for the middle of the island, and piped up to 35K in one gust at the south end. We were doing fine tacking across the open ocean to the Saints until we were about 5 miles out. Then we were hit by a 2 knot current against us, and that slowed us right down. But we did find a place to anchor near the fishing dock in only 22 ft of water, but there were lots of boats, and moorings around us. Especially after yesterday, we did not feel that comfortable. We didn’t even drop the dinghy, to do any exploring. Bright and early the next morning we were on our way to Dominica.
Picture: Windmill farm on the Saints