S/V Delilah

A Blog to track the wanderings of the S/V Delilah, a 37-foot Tayana sailboat.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Mt. Pelee and Sunset

Happy Birthday Bonnie Foulis!

Friday, January 26
St. Louis, Marie Galante, Guadeloupe
N 15 degrees, 57.398
W 061 degrees, 19.298

The wind this week has been quite light and has actually clocked a little SE. Of course that meant we were compelled to sail SE, and we are now anchored off a small island below Guadeloupe. I had been lured here by a guidebook that claimed the water was so clear that one could see starfish on the seabed by moonlight...that is, if there WERE starfish on the seabed, instead of a load of weeds. It's not quite the same.

There is a lovely, mile-long, largely deserted beach here, and I have added significantly to my sea glass and shell collection. This afternoon we will move over to another, longer beach for more exploring.

There is also a little town nearby, inspiring the phrase, "nothing to write home about."

Bat Wing and Cat on Reef


Monday, January 22
Illet de Gosier, Guadaloupe
N 16 degrees 12.123 minutes
W 061 degrees 29.622 minutes

Does anyone out there have any recipes that include bat wing? I ask because I am in possession of a bat wing. No, really. I found it on the side deck of the boat. It's disgusting and cool all at once. There's certainly fur on the wing, and a little bit of bat meat, as well, so maybe it would be good in a soup. There are two working theories as to how a bat wing came to be on the deck: that a bird dropped it (plausible; after all, seagulls are merely rats with wings) or that our wind generator separated the bat from its wing (strike one for all you Cape Wind proponents). Votes from readers?

Also filed under horrific: we spent the afternoon watching a pilot boat drag a catamaran up onto a massive reef. Let me clarify: the pilot boat was trying to get the cat off of the reef, but instead of pulling it backwards, for 20 feet or so, he elected to pull it forwards, about 100 feet.

The cat was first driven or sailed by its charter "captain" onto the reef on Saturday afternoon. It being the weekend, nothing was done to rescue the cat until today. When we arrived, we looked for the boat we had been hearing about every hour on the VHF (S/V Love Me Do, for those interested), and saw it sitting far up onto the reef.

That afternoon, some guys came along with several big pieces of foam and shoved them between the hulls of the boat. Then a pilot boat affixed a long line and, full steam ahead, dragged the cat forward, further onto this fairly large and extremely shallow reef. After a while, the pilot boat was not able to make any further progress, so they added a second boat IN SERIES WITH THE PILOT BOAT. The cat was pulled free after several hours and was towed, bows low in the water, to a marina around the corner.

The whole process was very entertaining. We did not, however, get in our dinghy to get closer to the action, although some half-dozen of our neighbors did. It's better than American Idol, I'll warrant.

All that aside, we are enjoying this little island on the south coast of Guadeloupe. The aforementioned reef system makes for good snorkeling, great sand for anchoring behind the reef, and protection from waves. The little island boasts an abandoned lighthouse and a not-so-abandoned beach bar, as well as a couple of lovely beaches.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Quiet Weekend

Saturday, January 13
Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe
N 15 degrees, 52.029 minutes
W 061 degrees, 35.091 minutes

We arrived in the Saints on Tuesday after a quick stop in Dominica and another great day of sailing (okay, half-day. We motor-sailed the length of Dominica because the island's mountains are so tall they not only block the wind, they cause it to back around to the west). Pancho, the "boat helper" in Rouseau, was quick to turn around our propane refill, saving us a bus trip with the tank, and allowing us to forgo checking into the country.

And now we are back in French territory, in a small archipelago south of Guadeloupe proper, where we have done nothing much for several days, and we expect to do more of the same until Tuesday, when the wind abates and (we hope) clocks further south, giving us another shot at a great sail to the main island of Guadeloupe.

We did rouse ourselves to climb up to Fort Napolean, an extremely well-preserved fort with excellent exhibits on the Battle of the Saints in 1782, the original fishing community on the islands, early island furniture, and even art. From there we could see Delilah bobbing at anchor, the only boat in the one of the remote northerly harbors on the main island. That suited us fine until the wind came around to the north, making Baie du Marigot an EXPOSED anchorage, and we found ourselves moving to the deeper, more crowded anchorage off the main village.

Since then we have enjoyed watching the Goldilocks-like comings and goings in this large but not quite perfect harbor, as boats test one and then another potential spot, looking for a place that's not too deep, nor too crowded, nor too rolly, but just right. Eventually they compromise, as we did after several failed attempts at tucking in somewhere shallow.

In spite of being rather deep, the main anchorage does not shelve drastically, so it is quite large. Almost every day we've watched several smallish cruise ships anchoring in the bay, with lots of passengers on shore speaking very loud English and commenting on our Red Sox caps. We've noticed, with disgust, that residents of the Caribbean wear a lot of Yankees hats and shirts, but more because of the cache of affiliating oneself with such a famous city than because of the team, baseball taking a distant back seat to soccer and cricket around these parts. Nobody ever said a word to us about the Red Sox until the cruise ships rolled in.

This morning there were no cruise ships, so I entertained myself by heading to the best bakery in town, realizing shortly thereafter that I was just in time for their final batch of baguettes to come out of the oven. There was no line, just a mob of eager and impatient customers. The French don't seem to care for lines, so I elbowed my way in there and got one of the coveted loaves, along with a poulet roti--a small roasted chicken that Dean and I picked clean for lunch, and which I am now cooking down to stock for dinner.

This evening's excitement included watching three enormous, private yachts arriving in the bay and taking up just about as much room as the cruise ships do. What's most notable about these boats, aside from the fact that they are 150 feet or more in length, is that they are all motorsailers, the duck-billed platypuses of the yachting world. Two of the boats at least try to look like sailboats, in spite of the fact that they have multiple floors above decks, but one boat just looks like a regular multistory powerboat that somebody jammed a few masts into and then called it a day. I can't imagine how it could possibly sail. I also can't imagine how we will gain admittance to one of these boats, but we will work on that tomorrow.

Yahoo! Or Should I Say Wahoo?

Monday, January 8
Roseau, Dominica
N 15 degrees, 17.081 minutes
W 061 degrees, 22.567 minutes

What a day! And it's only half over. We woke up in St. Pierre this morning for a dawn departure, heading for Dominica.

Yes, keen reader, you are correct in recalling that Dean swore he would never go back to Dominica (see our Dominica blog from last May for an explanation). But since we neglected to fill our spare propane tank in Bequia, and the French islands don't fill propane tanks, and we would like to continue to eat hot meals, we must stop in Dominica.

Not only did we sail all the way here on a BEAM REACH, the bloody beam reach we were promised we'd have all the way up and down the Caribbean, we made fabulous time. Delilah ate up the waves, and we even PASSED another sailboat. I'll repeat that for everyone who has ever sailed in, beside, or circles around our boat. WE PASSED A BIGGER SAILBOAT, WHICH HAD LEFT ST. PIERRE AHEAD OF US! We made six to seven knots. And we came in more than an hour ahead of our already-optimistic schedule.

And while we were at it, we spotted a whale and we caught ourselves a fish--our first wahoo.

Not bad for a Monday morning in January, eh?


These guys were with us for only a few minutes, but it was really nice to see.

Beautiful Pics

Birds and Anchorage

Here's some pics of a cute little hummingbird. Also, Delilah alone in her anchorage.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

More Pics!

A grab-bag! First, a dead puffer fish. Nice eyes.

Then, Greg reading the Improper. Note the signal flag. The entire hoist read "W5GSB on board". That's his ham sign.

Then, Greg and Jill disagree on which way to go.

Finally, Jill enjoys lunch with an Amigo orange drink.

Dean In Hammock

Greg brought us a hammock! I try it out. Thanks, Greg!


Here we see Mt. Pele, the volcano we climbed the other day. Note the clouds which wreath the top. Then, our boat in the distance. No dogs allowed!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Volcano? What Volcano?

Saturday, January 6
Anse Mitan, Martinique

Thursday and Friday we dug deep into our pockets to bankroll a two-day car rental and "see" Martinique. Normally when we go ashore, we spend most of our time within walking distance of the anchorage. That works just fine on small islands, which are frequently only a mile long anyway. Some of the bigger islands, like Grenada and Trinidad had fantastic, if death defying, public transportation systems.

Martinique is one of the largest islands in the Windwards, with one of the worst public transportation systems. As I have been enjoying our hikes along the St. Anne shoreline so much, and since there is a great big volcano on the northern part of the island with, we were told, a fabulous hike up to the crater, we felt it was worth the money to drive up there.

There is something about the combination of the French road system, a compact European car, and narrow, winding roads that brings out the Jacques Villeneuve in Dean. We had been warned about the "traffic jams" in Martinique, and about the "terrible congestion" in its capital city, Fort de France. But after living beside the big dig for more than a decade, we laughed at these minor impediments. And once we got into the more steep and rural part of the country, Dean put on his driving gloves and zipped us up Mt. Pelee in no time.

The hike itself reminded me quite a bit of our honeymoon trip to a remote portion of the Great Wall: steep, muddy, and viewable only ten feet at a time, on account of the thick clouds converging at the peak. The plant life on either side of the trail was certainly beautiful, but anyone reading this blog has as good a sense as I do now of what the crater from the early twentieth century eruptions of Mt. Pelee might look like. We also forgot to charge our digital camera, so we can't even show you pictures of what we didn't see.

Shortly after we began our descent, I discovered that my light rain jacket is no longer waterproof in a downpour, and that my flip flops, though made by Merrell, really aren't up to steep hikes along rocky terrain.

Then, as we passed the halfway mark on the trail, the rain stopped and the thick clouds just disappeared. What had been a wall of white turned into a spectacular view of the southern half of Martinique, including both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Out With A Bang

3 Jan 2007
St. Anne, Martinique

When we got out of the hospital, we realized that we had very little money on us, and only Greg's AMEX. We were, of course, dressed in our bathing suits. It was dark out. Luckily, the nurse spoke a little English and called not only a taxi but also a hotel where we could spend the night.

Oh, you're wondering how we got to the hospital? By ambulance, of course! The nice gendarmes at the beach called it for us.

Oh, about that. Greg was body surfing and got slammed to the bottom, rendering, for a while, his entire right side numb. Later, the pain set in. He feared nerve damage as his hand was tingling, etc. and his back hurt. So, off to the hospital we went. Greg's x-rays looked good, bone-wise, but there might be muscle damage, etc. So Greg spent two hours talking to AMEX who helped him change his flight to today, etc. We taxied back this morning, got his stuff, and sent him off.

I only wish I had a camera with me to document the ordeal. Some fun.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

GSB On Board

Sunday, December 31

St. Anne, Martinique

Greg Burd arrived just before Christmas, and we enjoyed a few quiet days of sailing, swimming, and eating pain au chocolat while Greg battled the nasty cold he acquired on the Green Line a few days earlier.

On Christmas Day we had a short, mostly downwind sail to Grand Anse D'Arlet, a small fishing village and tourist beach on the southwest coast of Martinique. We had planned to stay for a few days, but the morning weather forecast threatened a big increase in the tradewinds. We halted breakfast preparations and immediately set sail for St. Anne, which, from any anchorage in Martinique, requires a ten-mile motorsail directly into wind and chop. Not fun, but we got it over with before the wind and waves picked up.

Now we are enjoying St. Anne again, and yesterday we took Greg to our favorite beach, Grande Anse des Salines. The beach is an hour away if you walk to it from the town of St. Anne, but we have found some terrific hiking trails that follow the coastline pretty closely. The beach itself is well worth the walk, with great waves for body surfing, beautiful powdery sand, and plenty of shade. According to our friend Gilda, Salines is the best beach in Martinique, and it is popular with residents. There are a few vendors behind the beach selling beer and barbecue, but my favorite vendor is the ice cream lady, who walks along ringing a bell and wheeling a wooden tub full of homemade ice cream.

After two hours of hiking and three hours of playing in the surf, we were too tired to cook on the boat, so we went into the town for a meal. St. Anne has been hosting a week of festivities between Christmas and New Year's Eve, and last night on the stage in the square there were drummers and dancers dressed in traditional costumes. We watched until the restaurants opened for dinner (never before 7 p.m.; Mom and Dad would die), and then had a delicious meal in the open-air restaurant overlooking the anchorage. Not bad for a winter day!