Late last season, when Party of Five decided we would head back to Canada, we agreed our return plan would include an “all out run” to Grenada.
In other words, we planned to return, splash, throw the sails up and sail directly to Grenada to hook up with the cruising crowd (and kid boats). Sigh…… Cruising and solid planning seem to be a tumultuous marriage! So many things seem to get in the way of actually executing said plan.
1. Boat work. WAY MORE BOAT WORK THAN WE THOUGHT after her sleep.
2. Distractions. After 4 months back in “working life”, we were easily distracted… Nay, we wanted to be distracted. This slowed ALL our progress.
3. Family dynamics. Jam 3 kids and 2 work tired parents back on a floating sweat wagon and stuff will go askew!
4. Sailing. I have never made it a secret I’m a shitty sailor. 4 months away didn’t exactly polish my “skills”. The first few times we pulled the sails they looked liked MC. Hammer’s pants and no amount of “trimming” seemed to get them in shape.
5. Regrets. There were places we skipped last year that played heavy on our hearts. We felt that we needed to visit them “just in case we never came back”
With all those things stacked up against our original plan, we decided to “Roll With It” and alter it. We would hit the islands that we regretted missing. It would cost us diesel but give me a chance to polish my sail trimming skills. Our first stop would be Montserrat… but you already read about that… Here is the story after Montserrat.
First… YES.. We have a new Canada flag… and no I won’t cut those Zip-Ties, they are my trademark!
As the squalls pilled up over Montserrat we begin our beat south east. Believe it or not we full on sailed the first half of the trip. The second half was very “diesely”. I’m a straight line sailor and when the angle was no longer conducive to sailing I fired the motors and run a straight line. I had no interest in tacking back and forth with 3 hot, sweaty and seasick kids on our first passage of the season.
After 42 miles of squall dodging we arrived in Dehais, Guadeloupe. We were excited when we rounded the corner and the bay looked almost empty. There were even 4 free mooring balls. Last time we were here there was probably 4 times the boats and anchoring was a real challenge.
We were so happy to find a different less busy Deshais that we stayed for days. Of course we had to have beers in some of our old favorite places. It just wasn’t the same without Last Tango or Avanti. The astute will notice we have also switched currency again. Euro rains supreme since we are in French territory.
We regretfully left Dehais and set out for Îles des Saintes. After more squall dodging, we rounded the bottom of Guadeloupe and fired the motors for the 6 mile bash to the Saintes. The purpose of stopping in the Saintes was to put us closer to Dominica and set us up for an easy beam reach. However we felt quite sad that we only spent a night here. It’s a stunning location and we vowed to come back (remember we are in search of kid boats).
Although we only had a 14 mile run to Dominica it was quite spirited. We had over 20 knots of true wind with gusts to 27. It was a quick but choppy trip to the lee.
Unfortunately our trip down the backside of Dominica was a sad one. Hurricane Maria gave a direct strike to this island. The mountain in the picture below is %100 covered by trees and would ordinarily be green. All the brown you see are dead and uprooted trees. I’m flabbergasted that the radio tower is still standing. It was the only one we saw that was not broke in half.
Another picture of the devastation. This is the capital city of Roseau. If you zoom in you can see the utter chaos. Again all the brown is destroyed trees. All the houses at the waters edge are pretty much uninhabitable even if they still stand. The waves were 6-8 meters and pretty much destroyed everything inside. We had been forewarned of the devastation and brought what aid we could. We brought rice, canned goods and 50L of water in 5L bottles with handles (and a single beer). They were very thankful.
At night it was very eerie as 2 full months after the hurricane only %3 of the island has power restored. The only lights at night are from cook fires the locals light. After they are done cooking they throw debris and garbage on the flames in an effort to cleanup. I wished we could have done more!
We left Dominica sad, but hopeful for the locals. Our spirits were soon lifted as we had a fantastic sail across the channel to Martinique. With winds of 18-20 knots and seas of 1.5-2.0M (at 8 seconds) I was finding my groove. Actually once the sails were up and trimmed then Rhonda pretty much did %80 of the passage. I zoned out watching movies.
We had swapped one volcano view for another in just a few days. Although this volcano is currently sleeping that was not always the case. During its last eruption in the early 1900s, 30,000 people lost their lives (no not a typo, really 30,000). However, I felt elated as we dropped our anchor within feet of the last time we were here.