Tag Archives: Dominica

HURRICANE MARIA (SEPTEMBER 2017) – by Theresa

Hurricane season has arrived in full force. As cruisers, we spend an inordinate amount of time monitoring weather systems. The latest shows Hurricane Maria intensified into a catastrophic Category 5 storm Monday, with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph (260 kph), as it surged toward islands in the eastern Caribbean.

Projected track for Hurricane Maria, September 18, 2017

Projected track for Hurricane Maria, September 18, 2017

Hurricane warnings have been posted for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat.

A tropical storm warning was issued for Antigua and Barbuda, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Lucia (where Pilots’ Discretion is currently located), Martinique and Anguilla. Many of these islands are still recovering from direct hits from hurricane Irma. (See http://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topstories/cat-5-hurricane-maria-threatens-storm-battered-caribbean/ar-AAs6sKy?ocid=spartandhp.) We are continuing to keep all those affected in our thoughts and prayers. We will post additional updates after this storm passes.

Cane Garden Bay, British Virgin Islands

Mad Dash for the British Virgin Islands, 9 Countries in 6 Days. 

Underway

Underway

We had a great time in St. Lucia, we got a lot accomplished and look forward to returning in the future. Unfortunately, the various delays that we encountered in St. Lucia, waiting on parts and technicians left us with our scheduling backs against the wall. We had plans for meeting our good friends Mike Cleary, Bridget Finnegan, and Mike’s daughter Madison in the BVIs. They had a Sunsail sailboat chartered in Tortola beginning on February 19, so when we literally dropped the solar panel technician on the fuel dock in St. Lucia on the morning of February 13th, we knew we had some serious real estate to cover to be 350 miles north in just six days. During our dash north we cruised through the territorial waters of St. Lucia, Martinique, Dominica, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, St. Kitts, Nevis, Statia, St. Marteen and finally the British Virgin Islands. Wow, I am tired just writing about it.

Most of the trip was run in seas of 4-6 ft, with a few periods of 8-9 ft, and even a day with the Caribbean Sea as smooth as a small mountain lake. Our speed averaged 8-10 knots but when we had the opportunity, we ran as high as 25 knots to keep the scenery moving. We have visited all of the countries we just mentioned during our trip south last year so although we are disappointed that we had to hustle through these countries to meet our friends, it was worth it to get to be in the BVI with friends that are virtually like family to us.

Norman Island (The Bight) and North Gorda Soud

Bridget, Madison & Mike, Bubbly Pool, Jost Van Dyke, BVI

Bridget, Madison & Mike, Bubbly Pool, Jost Van Dyke, BVI

Once in the BVI we began our trip by heading off to the Bight on Norman island. A mandatory stop at the infamous Willie T floating bar and grill was followed by a trip to Gorda Sound, Virgin Gorda, and Jost Van Dyke.

We followed that up with a two day trip to Anegada, then over to Marina Cay and The Baths.

Anegada

Marina Cay

The Baths

After that whirlwind, we capped the Cleary clan’s trip to the BVI by meeting our cruising friends Jeff and Izzy Rogers for an evening of good food, conversation and music in one of our favorite spots in the BVI, Cane Garden Bay.

Cane Garden Bay, British Virgin Islands

Cane Garden Bay, British Virgin Islands

Our friends have gone home and it is time for our adventure to continue. It occurs to me that this nomad lifestyle works well for our family. I have an idea, I think we should keep this trip going. We will discuss it at dinner tonight and I will get back to you. For now, keep following our progress as our  life adventure continues …

Approaching St. Lucia Piton anchorage

Dominica, Martinique & St Lucia

DOMINICA

Ryan supervising refueling at Riveiera Sens, Guadeloupe

Ryan supervising refueling at Riveiera Sens, Guadeloupe

After departing Guadeloupe, we proceeded south to the island nation of Dominica. With under two weeks to go before our insurance induced requirement to be in Grenada, we are not getting to spend as much time as we would like in each of these enchanted islands. We will spend more time exploring on our return trip north after hurricane season. With that said, we did get to spend a wonderful evening anchored in Prince Rupert Bay on the northwest coast of Dominica. There is a professional organization in the town of Portsmouth known as PAYS (Portsmouth Association for Yacht Security) that provides everything from taxi and laundry services to divers, guides and nighttime anchorage security for visiting yachts. The night that we arrived we were greeted by several PAYS boat boys who invited us to a beachfront barbeque for visiting boats. There were probably fifty yachts at anchor in the harbor. Dominica is a large volcanic island with rivers, mountains and rainforests and we really look forward to exploring it more completely in the future but for now, one night was all we had and at daybreak we were underway to our next country of Martinique.

MARTINIQUE

Fort de France, Martinique

Fort de France, Martinique

Our stop in Martinique took place in the captial city of Ft. de France. Ft de France is probably the most cosmopolitan city in the Caribbean, with elements of both ancient and modern architecture. A beautiful waterfront city that is heavily geared towards the maritime industry. Martinique is a colony of France and as such it has a highly developed infrastucture complete with government built dinghy docks, excellent roads and parks and almost anything a visiting yacht could need within easy reach.

The afternoon that we arrived there were about 10 boats anchored in front of the town dock at the base of the 17th Century French Fort. We enjoyed dinner aboard and marvelled at the good fortune to have found such a picturesque and tranquil anchorage.

 

Fort de France, Martinique

Fort de France, Martinique

The next day our tranquility was abruptly interrupted when approximately 90 sailing catamarans arrived in our anchorage. It turns out that they were part of a trans Caribbean rally and they were all in a serious partying mode. Most of the sailors were well qualified and did a good job of securing their boats in the anchorage. That said, given the sheer number of boats, we still got to spend most of the afternoon fending off boats that were dragging their anchor or had just gotten too close to us and would swing into our anchoring arc creating a hazard for both themselves and the Pilot’s Discretion.

ST. LUCIA

Approaching St. Lucia Piton anchorage

Approaching St. Lucia Piton anchorage

Happily, it was time for us to move on and our next stop will surely go down as one of my favorites. We headed south for St Lucia with the intention of spending the night in the sheltered bay at Marigot. The weather was perfect for our passage to St. Lucia and when we were abeam Marigot Bay we elected to continue on to the Southern tip of St Lucia so that we could anchor in the shadow of the Pitons. The Pitons are two dramatic volcanic peaks that are some of the most photographed geographical features in the Caribbean. The bay in front of them has a half dozen mooring balls (anchoring is both prohibited by statute and operationally impractical). We picked up a mooring ball about 50 yards offshore in front of the 5 star resort known as the Jalousie Plantation. Given our close proximity to shore we could not believe the depth of the deep blue water. Our three independent depth sounders confirmed we were in 984′ of water.

The image of the Pilots’ Discretion moored in front of the Pitons was really one of those pinch me moments when we were all amazed by the amazing experience that is our journey.