Wednesday’s 26-mile journey from Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia to Sainte Anne, Martinique is easily accomplished in under four hours. The wind today is from the northeast at 20 knots, which makes for a somewhat bouncy but invigorating close reach in 20 to 25 knots of wind. Good fortune is with us today inasmuch as we are able to lay the harbor in Sainte Anne in a single tack.
The weather forecast calls ominously for windy, squally weather over the next several days. Rather than compete with the charter boats for limited space near the dinghy dock, we elect to plant the hook in the outer reaches of this protected harbor. Here there will be sufficient breathing room to pay out 150 feet of chain for ultimate holding power in a blow. This location will also insure an adequate supply of wind to keep the house batteries fully charged.
Several of the waterfront bars and restaurants loudly proclaim the arrival of the New Year with live entertainment. Aboard Cutter Loose, however, the celebration consists of a simple chorus of Auld Lang Syne prior to turning in at 10 PM.
New Year’s Day dawns clear and sunny. To start the year off on the right foot, a hike from Sainte Anne to the beach at Grande Anse des Salines has been arranged with Canadian friends Chris and Fran of s/v Changes. Predictably, the beach is packed with families enjoying the holiday weekend. Strolling bikini vendors walk the beach to meet the needs of consumers who require a new look for the New Year. The vendor will cheerfully model any suit in her inventory for prospective buyers.
Upon arriving at the beach, our first stop is at the juicer for a freshly-squeezed smoothie made from passion fruit, watermelon and banana. After a refreshing swim, the luncheon plat du jour consists of barbequed chicken with rice, salad and banana flambe for dessert.
Returning to Sainte Anne, we pause at a waterfront café to enjoy the late afternoon lighting and to witness the sun setting over Diamond Rock.
As predicted, wind speeds begin to increase on Saturday, January 3rd. By 11 AM, we are already beginning to feel the effects of an approaching low pressure weather system. The sky is sunny and clear, but the wind is already piping through the harbor at 25 knots sustained with gusts to 30 knots. These conditions create a favorable scenario for powering the water maker. By day’s end, our tank is filled with drinkable water using the D400 wind generator and solar energy.
As the TROF inches closer on Sunday, January 4th, dark, threatening clouds bring recurring squalls to Sainte Anne. As a squall approaches, wind gusts increase to 35 knots, kicking up a nasty chop in the harbor. Elevated wind gusts send us scampering to close the hatches as wind-driven showers are imminent. When the showers pass, the hatches are re-opened for ventilation. This pattern is repeated every 30 minutes throughout the day.
Sunny skies reappear on Monday, January 5th with wind speeds in the harbor settling back down into the low 20 knot range. A moderating trend in the weather is expected by mid-week. Our goal is to take advantage of the anticipated favorable weather window to make rapid progress northward.
On Tuesday morning, January 6th, the anchor is up in Sainte Anne. Cutter Loose is underway for the 40 mile run to Sainte Pierre, Martinique where we will clear Customs and stage for our pending departure to the island of Dominica on Wednesday morning, weather permitting.