Wednesday, May 28, 2014

THREE MISERABLE DAYS

I have not had too many miserable days since I retired but the last three have sucked donkey breath. I was up in St Pierre when it started to roll. Now I use Windguru to forecast both wind and swell and they were both OK. However it is still rolling and it is not a place I am happy using a stern anchor so I head for Grand Anse d'Arlet, which is one of my favorite anchorages.

On the way my ear which has been niggling starts to pound a bit and I use my usual ear drops.

I settle down in Grand Anse d'Arlet, giving Dizzy some attention when it starts to roll. Now it almost never rolls here, but I am soon going whack whack whack. I think about Trois Islet but it is a slightly fraught entrance and relies on several lit markers so I decide to stay put, set up the lea cloth and retire but my ear really gets going.

Next morning I am shaky, running a temp, 102 f according to my forehead thermometer, I can't face coffee and there is gunk pouring out of my ear which really hurts.

So I need a doc. No doc or pharmacy in Grand Anse d'Arlet. The guide says there are both in the next bay so I motor round and visit the clinic.

The doc. confirms what I know, I have a bad ear infection and she prescribes some serious antibiotics both aural and by mouth. Glory be! in an hour things are settling down and I feel like my morning coffee. Which was a bit of an epic because it is now rolling in this anchorage. I have to get out the non slip and field things that are sledging around.

So I decide to motorsail to Marin where it is sheltered and definitely flat water. The wind is not favourable and I know from experience it will be bang on the nose all the way to Marin even when we turn at Diamond rock. I use the main sheeted slightly to windward to keep things steady and bash upwind with spray flying and Dizzy complaining LOUDLY.

Entering Marin I check out the topless volley ball court [ this shows I was feeling much better ] but alas the strapping Club Med lasses of the 90s have disappeared and there was only one couple using the beach.

But it is quiet and flat here and Dizzy seems to have finally forgiven me next morning for going sailing three days in a row.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

PAN PAN

There was a fair bit of VHF PAN PAN traffic from the French coasties as I came into St Pierre as a Canadian sailboat was seen drifting around in the bay with no one aboard. I passed it but single handed was not prepared to try to take it in tow and there are lots of fairly powerful fishing boats around. But as I anchored I could hear that the coastie was not having any success raising someone to tow it in which I thought was strange as it should be a nice little earner for a commercial fisherman.



Finally a French minnow went out and towed the bigger boat back in and reanchored it.

The town of St Pierre was en fete as they say and I really enjoyed the big brass band jazz session on the town square.

Dizzy, also known as Mr Elegance, took a more relaxed approach to life while I enjoyed Basin Street Blues and Tiger rag.

Finally there was a bit of sad news. The tall ship Unicorn which made appearances in some episodes of Pirates of the Caribbean and had operated out of St Lucia giving sunset cruises sank as she made passage down to St Vincent where she was to be hauled out and refitted.


She was in a poor state with holes in her hull when I last saw her.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

ARRIVED IN St PERRE

A quiet passage down. I was surprised more boats did not come down with me. There must have been 30 or 40 cruisers in Portsmouth and most will be heading South. Today was the best day in the next 10.

Did not catch anything but Dizzy seems to be happier with his canned food, maybe just glad that we stopped sailing.

Friday, May 23, 2014

60 MILES TO MARTINIQUE

The wind is forecast to back a little tomorrow so I will make the long day sail from Portsmouth to St Pierre.

It may shut up Dizzy as he has been complaining vociferously over his food dish all day. Yup he had the last bit of that big Mahi Mahi yesterday and is back on the regular cat food.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

COLOURS

Everything seemed brighter sharper and more vivid this morning as I sat in my usual cockpit corner and watched the bay come to life.

The beach front service provider's boats are colourful and the sun is shining on the water allowing me to see the bottom clearly where I am anchored despite it being 30 ft.

But a rain squall was blowing in over the mountains and I thought about shutting hatches.



However I got this shot before heading below. Very colourful.






Hatches closed and I had a chance to look out the other side to see that we had a complete bow with a hint of a second.


There were more colourful clothes in this French landing craft on it's way to give the sailors some liberty in the Saintes. One of the stories that circulates about the Saintes is that in the early part of the last century the French authorities were concerned about inbreeding in the Saintes and sent out a couple of French warships full of randy French sailors to solve this problem. I wonder if history is being repeated?

People do the funniest things. Outboard motors go wrong from time to time and you need to be able to row or paddle. Well I dont fancy this sailor's chances.

Nobody is stealing the oars but I can't see anybody rowing with them either.


Finally a pair of pelicans kept Dizzy enthralled for the afternoon.

Friday, May 16, 2014

DOMINICA with a BIG MAHI MAHI

Elephants Child is tucked up in the NE corner of Portsmouth harbor the skipper is and ready for an early night. I caught two big Mahi Mahi on the way down and had to heave to, which is a bit of a poodle from cranking along under full sail, to try and boat them. Got one but the other escaped. All three lines are in a giant tangle so that will be tomorrows job.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

SURPRIZE



The remnants of the storm made for a spectacular sunset and I retired to bed after a convivial evening with Miss Molly and Mithril putting the world to rights and bemoaning the proliferation of unreliable mooring balls.

I woke up at dawn and as usual get up and have a look around to see if there is anything of note to deal with.

I also look to see if there are any new arrivals especially if they are unusual.



Last month it was a replica Cornish lugger and this morning it was a big grey French warship. At first I took it to be a mini aircraft carrier carrier, but Mr Google soon found out the true story. It is a helicopter carrier.

The Mistral class is a class of three amphibious assault ships, also known as a helicopter carrier, of the French Navy and Russian Navy. Referred to as "projection and command ships" (b√Ętiments de projection et de commandement or BPC), a Mistral-class ship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 NH90 or Tiger helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 vehicles including 13 AMX-56 Leclerc tanks, or a 40-strong Leclerc tank battalion,[3] and 450 soldiers. The ships are equipped with a 69-bed hospital, and are capable of serving as part of a NATO Response Force, or with United Nations or European Union peace-keeping forces.

Three ships of the class are in service in the French Navy: Mistral, Tonnerre and Dixmude.
Wiki.

Based on the number 9013 on the side this one is the Mistral.

If conditions are still favourable I will make the short hop down to Dominica tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Comfortably at anchor in the Saintes.

I have been living in interesting times. I have had three nights with little sleep, dragged twice both times when I was sure that I was firmly anchored and had been so for at least 12 hours. We have had a small and unforecast rotating storm move through. Very strong winds and big westerly swells. The wind being 40 knots gusting 60 at times.

At times the rolling was so severe that stuff was flying all over the cabin and it was quite dangerous to move around. Getting any rest meant I needed to use a lee cloth.

Still I managed and as soon as it died down a little on day 3 headed to the Saintes where there is protection from such a swell. Several boats were damaged and at least on person is missing. My bimini is in tatters but the dodger is holding together. At least two people are in hospital with serious hand injuries from working with anchor chain.

Dizzy disapproved of the weather an went into hiding for a day and a half. I was sure he had gone overboard in one of the squalls but I think he was hiding in the mainsail cover. Anyway I was really glad to see him when he reappeared.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

WHERE DID THIS COME FROM FORECAST SAYS 12 TO 15?

Well having been smug about the good sailing weather and minimal rain I got my comeuppance last night. I am anchored in Deshaies Guadeloupe and it started to rain late afternoon, at two in the morning we started to get serious squall lines blowing through with gusts to 40 knots or more.

There were boats dragging to the right of me and to the left of me, so I sat up in the cockpit till 4am to make sure I did not drag or have some one drag down on me. The distance prize goes to someone who dragged through the center of the anchorage and well out, he has moved 3 -400 metres and I never saw a light or anyone on deck.

As I write this the gusts are making me shear around sufficiently to have stuff slide off the table. Dizzy my cat thinks this is great as his current favourite toy, a length of virulent green foam swim noodle, is rolling around the cabin sole and he is in hot pursuit. Mad cat half hour.

1 pm update Windguru STILL says 11 gusting 13 and it was much the same forecast during the night and this morning. Well at 11am a big squall came through and it was my turn to drag along with several others. I motored for an hour to keep clear of a boat behind me that with 25 knots of wind gusting much higher from time to time. SInglehanded I knew I would be in trouble with the untended boat behind me if I tried to raise the anchor.

Many thanks to Capta and Nikki from Skipping Stone who helped me out.

Still blowing at least 20 knots with much higher gusts.

Friday, May 9, 2014

OK I MAY BE A BIT OF AN ANORAK



I started young when I was taken to the Edinburgh Museum which was full of early steam engines and working models that turned when you pressed buttons. I went to school behind steam locomotives at first crossing the the Forth rail bridge to Edinburgh then on much more mundane tracks to Dollar.

I have been to the York Railway Museum several times and I know my Gresley from my GWR.

I made a special trip to see the Mallard in steam and have tapped wheels, topped up oilers and even fired a boiler from cold at Great Central Railway when I was in Loughborough.
So when we were in the RV in Utah it was no surprise that you found me at a model railway show. I was wandering around the steam engines on display when I saw this totally ludicrous piece of over the top model engineering art. Now the Mallard is a 4 6 2 which means 4 non driven wheels 6 driving wheels and 2 more non driven, but this thing had 4 non driven then 8 driving wheels followed by ANOTHER 8 driving wheels then 4 non driven. I mean I know things are bigger in the USA but this seemed extreme. Talking to people I learned that this was a model of a real but rare engine which was developed to haul trains over the gradients in Utah. So the same hills I have been skiing over spawned this behemoth of an engine. I asked if any were still in use but was told that the last Big Boy went out of service in 1959 and now were on static display. So the closest I could get to a moving experience was to enjoy a ride around when it was the turn of the model Big Boy to pull the punters.

I duly added the term Big Boy to my internet watch list and over the last 5 years have grown tired of deleting references to outsize sex toys.

But I was excited when I saw that there was going to be a project to restore a Big Boy to working order.

Here she is on the move after 50+ years rolling down the tracks on her way to the engine sheds in Cheyenne.

This stuff excites and interests me so I guess I really am an anorak.

Thanks to Lander resident Paige Brewer for sharing this action photo of the historic Big Boy 4014 riding the rails in southeast Wyoming earlier today. Brewer reports that cars were lining up along the highway and parking at gas stations to watch the oldest locomotive in service come by. “Twenty-five Big Boys were built exclusively for Union Pacific Railroad, the first of which was delivered in 1941. The locomotives were 132 feet long and weighed 1.2 million pounds, [535 tons]” Union Pacific’s website states.
Union Pacific states that Big Boy 4014 began this journey in Colton, Calif. It is schedule to undergo restoration in Cheyenne.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

PANTS just PANTS

Well pants and pegs I suppose. I go for a swim most days and hang my swim pants on the life lines. I have learned the hard way over the years to use lots of pegs. However when I woke up and found my pants missing I was surprised, I knew it had been a pretty calm night and this is not one of the anchorages where swimmers stealing stuff off boats are a problem. Anyway these were old and faded pants with rust stains, I mean who other than a tight Scotsman would be seen dead in them.

It was during my second coffee when the brain cells were getting kick started that I noticed 4 clothes pegs on the seat next to where the pants had been. A close examination of said pegs showed that the ends were well chewed by something with sharp pointed teeth.

Ahh we have a suspect. The Dizzy monster has been chewing the pegs and in the process unclipping them from the line so my beautiful red pants are free to escape to pants heaven. Ah well I bought them 7 or 8 years ago in Primark so they have served me well.

BARNACLE BUSTING

I knew that my prop would be fouled from the time spent in Falmouth so swapped my chain cleaner for the scraper and donning snorkel gear set off to do battle. A few minuts saw the hull cleaned of barnacles and the prop scraped clean of a variety of vegetation. Dropping the scraper off in the dink I set off to search for my pants. This was more in hope than expectation. Much to my surprise I spotted them in about 40 ft. Now I know I can not free dive that deep any more so returned and got the dinghy anchor and wet fishing for my pants.

Success.




HIKING AROUND
I had set off on Sunday with the intention of walking over to the beach but as soon as I cleared the saddle I heard the BOOM BOOM BOOM of a serious sound system so turned up a posted trail into the hills.

The trail gave me some great views back over the anchorage.

But the hiking plus my exertions in the water meant that I was feeling pretty tired by the time my sundowner was due.

Friday, May 2, 2014

CANCEL THE VET

Dizzy gave me a scare by being sick after breakfast several days in a row.


But either a change in island or more likely a change in his food has sorted him out.

Lots of events on around Deshaies associated with the begiining of May.



I will wander over to the big beach tomorrow to see what is going on.