Wednesday, March 29, 2017

1980 (11) - Trying to Leave Martinique


To go to the beginning of this book, Tropic Moon: Memories, click HERE.

When we were ready to leave Fort de France, Ed decided he wanted to sail out of the anchorage.  I wasn't keen on the idea because, although we were at the head of the pack and could sail forward, there were an awful lot of people around to see us if we made a goof.  My objection duly noted, Ed raised the mainsail and mizzen, and went forward to the anchor.  My job was to put Tropic Moon where Ed wanted her.  For example, I'd pull in on the main sheet, the sail would fill with wind, and the boat would move forward, allowing Ed to pull in on the anchor rope.  (Note:  Tropic Moon didn't have an anchor winch - not even a manual one.)  Once the bow was over the anchor, I worked the main sheet, pulling the boom from side to side, pointing the sail in line with the wind.  This kept the sail luffing - and not pulling us forward.

When Ed had the anchor up, he came back to adjust the sails.  I took the wheel, and we fell off to starboard, sailing past the anchored boats.  Once out of the anchorage, we turned to starboard again, raised the jib sail, and headed westward for five miles to the entrance of Fort de France bay.  Outside the mouth of the bay, we pointed south, towards St. Lucia, and into the teeth of a S-SE wind.  It was a beautiful day for a sail, the blues of the ocean and sky rivaling each other in intensity, puffy white clouds floating by above.  We spotted a pair of shiny black whales.  They were between us and the island, and were having what looked like a great time, shooting out from the water, and diving back in.

We just wondered where the ever-dependable (HA!) northeast trade winds were, and why the wind was coming from the south.  Despite Tropic Moon's best efforts, we gradually drifted westward, taking us away from the line to St. Lucia.  After a few hours of sailing, it became apparent that the head wind would keep us from reaching St. Lucia during daylight.  We decided to put in at Ste. Anne for the night.  Ed started the engine, and we motor-sailed eastward, along the southern coast of Martinique.  It was our day for wildlife.  About a dozen dolphins joined us, frolicking alongside the boat.

Nothing ever topped the joy of dolphins swimming near the boat!

On reaching Ste. Anne, we decided to anchor off the beach.  I was at the wheel, while Ed was on the cabin top, furling the mainsail.  He wasn't paying any attention to where I was going.  While I was well aware of shallow areas to be avoided, I had thought I was clear of them.  I wasn't, and we came to an abrupt halt - a really strange feeling on a sailboat.  Since I'd been going slowly, there wasn't even a jarring motion; we just stopped.  I pulled the gearshift into neutral.  Ed told me to put it in reverse, with full power.  Tropic Moon pulled off, but the stern bore to the right, and we backed onto another shoal.  I put the boat in forward, with the wheel over to port, and we drove away, leaving a murky underwater cloud.  It did occur to us that, had we taken a taxi from Ste. Anne to Fort de France in the first place to clear customs, we could have avoided all this extra time and effort!

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