Overnight to Martinique

Apologies for the blogging gap, we'll come back with some more posts about the time in Carriacou, in the next few days. We'll probably add more photos to this post, too.

After lots of searching flights, we decided the best way to get our friends back to Martinique would be to sail up there. We'd planned for them to fly back, but there were very few flights, mostly fully booked, and very indirect. The best option route would be Grenada to Barbados to Saint Lucia to Martinique. Barbados has stopped visa-free access from South Africa, over COVID-19 fears, so Galina wouldn't be allowed to go land-side at Barbados, without a visa, which could take 3 weeks to get. Which all means, they'd have to connect successfully, between little Caribbean airlines, in Barbados, and then transit some other islands too, to get to Martinique. At some point, it's simpler to just sail up the island chain.

So, we prepared for a quick sail north to Martinique, drop everyone off, and head back down to Martinique, before the storms we can see looming hit.


We did some last minute shopping and checked out of the country on Thursday morning. Made the mistake of mentioning to the immigration officer that we hadn't got our pre-departure COVID tests, yet, and he stopped working on our check-out until we'd got them done. So, off to get antigen tests in a cute little village health centre in L'Esterre, and then back to complete the check-out, after he'd got back from lunch.

The forecast was for relatively light winds, from NE, so we departed under full sails, and did a fair bit of motor-sailing.

The anchorage we'd picked on the way down hadn't been great, and we were in a hurry to get back to Grenada for haul-out, so we decided to sail through the night on the way back up to Martinique. If you're not going to sleep, you can at least make progress while you're doing it. Planned alternating 3hr watches, through the night, and we settled into the watch system after supper.

The progress up to Saint Vincent had been relatively slow, with a few hours on the motor. It got dark, and we shifted into night mode, turning on lights, and the radar, in timed transmit mode, to get some visibility into the black night.

I had the first night shift, with Galina, 9pm-midnight, from the approach to the bottom of Saint Vincent until a hand-over as we were coming out of the wind-shadow towards the top of it. We had to motor-sail for quite a bit of this, as the winds were not very steady. If things were going to get exiting this would be the time of the hand-over, as we got to the end of the wind-shadow. But it seemed calm enough, so I went down for my nap.

As I settled into the pilot-berth for my 3 hours sleep, all hell seemed to be breaking loose above me. Things flying around in the kitchen, the sound of water sloshing everywhere, and heeling a little much for comfort. John called me up to help, in a bit, it turned out that the salt-water tap on the sink was siphoning due to the heel, and he needed some help to reduce some sail. Once we'd reduced the heel a bit, the kitchen could be mopped up and we found the valve to shut-off the siphoning water.

John enjoyed a moonless sail, with steady wind. They didn't need to run the engine once. The stars and bioluminescence around the boat were spectacular, Jakob and John say they hardly said anything to each other, just enjoying the stunning night's sail. They did get some good practice doing watch by radar, estimating the position and course of a tanker they passed. Generally the sea was pretty empty, we didn't see much traffic, and we stayed far enough off-shore to avoid fish pots.

I hadn't got much sleep, in my first night under way, so I got up at 3am, a little yawny, ready for the sunrise shift. Rooibos tea and chocolate biscuits kept us going, until the virtually new moon rose and the sky began to lighten.


We could see a freighter in the distance, slowly approaching port in St Lucia waiting for it to open and send them a pilot. The wind was steady enough that we also kept the motor off. And again, we handed over as we were ending the (mild) wind-shadow behind St. Lucia, to the John and Jakob crossing crew.

While Galina and I were trying to get our last bit of sleep, John and Jakob broke into song, they must have been loving their morning sail. I was exhausted enough to mostly sleep through it without too much difficulty, but Galina had a hard time.


We had some breakfast, as we were approaching the South end of Martinique, sailing towards Rocher du Diamant, because the wind was coming out of the Marin bay, as usual.


We were tired enough to not want to spend a couple of hours tacking our way into the bay, and motored in along the coast, arriving around midday in Le Marin. We had made great time, arriving earlier than I'd expected. Probably because we'd been liberal with the engine when the winds were calm.

Anchoring was painful here, as usual, when we could find a spot where we weren't too close to other boats, we couldn't get a good grip on the anchor, and vice-versa. But after an hour of attempts, we ended up behind the floating dry dock, at the back end of the anchorage, with a reef behind us sporting a rotting wreck, to remind you not to drag.

By this time, the Capitainerie had closed for the day (August in France), so we would have to wait to check-in until the next morning. We found a spectacular lunch, at a restaurant that was trying to close, and then spent the day passed out, recovering.

Time on the water: 21:40
Distance covered: 135.6nm
Avg speed: 6.3kts
Max speed: 9.9kts

Navionics Track


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