Sailing Around The World

Archive for February, 2013

The Eve Of A Voyage!

I spent the day finishing up last minute tasks and even enjoyed a paddle boarding for the  work out at the beach. We fueled up our tanks, topped off our water, and checked the oil in the diesel one last time. Our equipment appears to be ready for our 4 day voyage from St. Lucia to Boronia Island  ABC’s. the weather window is looking good calling for 20 to 27 knot winds and the waves are beginning to get smaller from 10 foot to 5 to 7 feet  as we journey out into the blue ocean of motion. I will continue to post on my blog via SSB Radio transmission with GPS coordinates if you would like to see where we are. Once again thank you all for following my journey!

With love,

Jacques


Just Another Nut!

First I have always found it odd when I heard people speaking in a foreign language such as German, French, Italian, and so on in public places through out the United State. I always wondered why they where here and what they where up to. Now that I have been out of the United States for almost 4 months now I am continually surrounded by French, German, Italian, British, South African, and many others. At first I felt like the odd duck on the pond and would wonder what was going through their mined when they looked at me. I always assumed that I looked like a good old boy from the USA and they were smugly looking at me, like I was just another stupid American. But the reality is that they have no more of a clue of who I am or where I am from. My self awareness of my surroundings are becoming more relaxed and almost to the point that being in a bar with 20 different languages filling the air and culture clicks is somewhat normal. Everybody has a respect of each other regardless of country and moves about there business in a very slow and common manner. I personally enjoy the blend of conversation that I can’t understand but listen none the less and can pick up the just of the story by there body language and key words or phases. I am totally emerged into a melting pot of culture and now feel like one of the potatoes in the pot just softening up with all the other nuts out here!

 

Thanks,

 

Jacques


Hows the Weather?

The weather is perfect tonight; with just the right amount of heat and cool breeze that puts one soul into a coma of thought, with a tall beer. I am sitting back on the shore side enjoying a pizza from a fired brick oven and drinking a local Piton Beer which is brewed here on St. Lucia. I spent the day quibbling over sums of money with local merchants for phone service, ship supplies, and bus rides. My mother went home this afternoon as she does not like to make the long voyages that we are about to do. In two days after we have repaired and fitted Dragonbane out we will spend 4 days at sea to make our way to the ABC’s. That is Aruba, Curacao, and BonaireIslands which is about 60 miles north of South America. Our passage has been postpone do to a large weather system south and north of our position that is producing wind speeds in the 35 to 40 mpr range and large swells 7 to 10 feet coming down from the north Atlantic. I am hoping that the weather window will open up on Friday. Our plan is to set sail on Friday and sail into Bonaire and arrive on Monday after noon if we have good weather.

So far my experience here on St Lucia has been good. It is a English speaking island, and has many of the normal USA products but is limited on its diversity in supplies and has a mix of European products as well. The transportation is cheap, only $0.50 for a bus ride to wherever. But the buses are vans which zip around every 2 to 3 minutes. I am comfortable here but would not be sad if I never returned.

 

Thanks,

 

Jacques


A Typical Day In the Life Of a Cruiser!

I woke at 4:30am to a squall rushing past our anchorage and hopped out of bed to latch all the hatches so the interior of Dragonsbane would not be soaked with water. After battening down the hatches your personal emotion is heightened because like any storm they are just exciting to experience and you get that feeling down deep in your stomach. I feel the boat stretch back on her anchor and the wind whistle through the shrouds. I crawl into my berth and listen to the wind and feel the movement of the storm as it causes the boat to sway back and forth rocking me back to sleep.

I wake up again at light, the sun has popped up like a peace of toast showing its perfect symmetrically shape just above the horizon. I then grab a baguette, jam, sliced deli meat and sit back watching the day begin while eating a really hard baguette that I soften up with hot green tea. After a light meal I turn on the computer, pull out the navigation charts and plot our course to the next island. I take note of all the obstacles that are in my path from point “A” to “B”.  Then stow the computer, and anything that could become a hazardous object when being tossed around like a bobber. Then I move to the topside deck to retrieve our dinghy tender. I lash the dinghy to the back stern while in the water and lift up the 9.9hp Mercury outboard motor and clamp it down on the stern pulpit.  Then stow the fuel tanks, oars, and drag the dinghy to the forward deck. I hoist the dinghy to the deck from the sea and lash it and ratchet it down with straps. After dinghy duty I remove the mainsail, staysail covers and stow them away. I then connect the halyards to both sails and prep them for flying while reviewing the condition of each sheet, rope, halyard, and lashing for any signs of chafing or breaks. The engine is started up, warmed for 5 minutes and then I signal to my dad what direction to move so I can retrieve the 64lb anchor that I trust with my life and Dragonsbane’s. I use the windless to grind in the anchor chain and then the anchor where I lash that to the front deck for safe keeping.

Now we are on our way out to the ocean and note the time, bearing, and speed in the log book. As we make our way under engine we turn into the wind and I raise the mainsail grinding the winch and checking the tension of the halyards. Then we fall off the wind as Dragonsbane catches the wind, feeling the hull speed up through the water. Then I grind away at the staysail and tune her sheets so that both sails are balanced for speed. Then I roll out the Jib and grind in her sheet and feel Dragonsbane lean down and shoot off into the ocean. The engine is shut down and the only thing heard is Dragonsbane slicing its way through the waves and water rushing by. Now we do this until we reach our destination.

While underway we consult one of the many books we have in our library on where to anchor and in what bay. After a location is agreed and we arrive I take in the sails, lash them down, and untie the anchor. I drop the anchor noting the depth and make sure I have enough chain out. Then the dinghy is deployed and I lift the outboard back to the dinghy. My dad goes to shore and clears customs and immigration. I clean up the piles of ropes, put the sail covers on, and stash all the lose items that fell below. Now its time for dinner and time to brainstorm what we would like to do on this island. Also a list of all broken equipment that occurred during the voyage so replacement parts can be purchased and installed for the next round. Because for every voyage a new creak, grown, or crack is something that needs to be investigated and usually turns up broken equipment which I always reply “SON OF A BICTH, I just fixed that!”. I am thinking comminuting on east coast 95 bumper to bumper for 2 hours is not so bad anymore!

Thanks,

Jacques

 

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

The local fruit guy that comes to our boat to sell fruit

The local fruit guy that comes to our boat to sell fruit

My Moms fruit she purchased

My Moms fruit she purchased

A Clipper Ship Leaving our  Anchorage

A Clipper Ship Leaving our Anchorage

 

Current Location St. Lucia, French India’s

 


The St. Lucia Squall!

We left Martinique Island at 9:30am today and found the wind right after we turned out of Fort de France bay were the wind was blowing 22 to 25 knots. We put two reefs into the mainsail, flew the staysail and reefed jib sails for about 15 nautical miles. As we sailed across the Martinique-St Lucia channel I noticed a very big gray cloud that covered the entire 22 nautical mile channel. I kept one eye on the clouds and one on the wind instrument. From my experience crossing the North Atlantic Gulf Stream I could see the signs of a strong squall racing at us. I hesitated in my judgment and thought that this squall would not produce much wind and sailed on with our current sail configuration. Then after a few minutes I could see a wall of whiteout rain racing across the ocean along with very big swells that where breaking when they reached full height. I turned to my dad and said we need to take in the jib now. Moments before the squall hit us my dad worked frantically to winch in the jib roller furling that was now whipping wildly off to the starboard and the sound was deafening by the snapping of the sail and her sheets. I could not leave the helm and left my dad and mom to the task of winching in the jib as the squall engulfed us with stinging rain and 35 knots of wind. Finally my parents had the jib under control, I worked the helm quickly to adjust our angle to the wind as the squall had shifting wind directions and caused the boat to heel and put the rail in the water. After a few minutes of playing with the squall I had her tempo down and laughed with excitement at the power of the wind and the waves crashing over the bow. I was having a great rush but my parents were not to thrilled with the situation, but I kept saying “its letting up don’t worry” and my mom would respond with “your full of it” I laughed with a salty soaked grin! Finally after a half hour of 30 to 35 knot plus winds the squall was gone and we cruised into St. Lucia, dropped the anchor and had a few cold ones.

Thanks,

Jacques


A Day In Martinique Island

Today was a very busy day, it started with a 20 minute dinghy ride around Fort de France to the shipyard where the French Navy had there battle ship at dock and several freighters tied up. As we zipped along in our dinghy I looked up at these mammoth ships and felt like a mosquito among giants. After our failed trip to find a GPS mapping card for our Garmin chart plotter we zipped back to Dragonsbane under the shadows of the giant ships and the eyes of Fort de France watching us move across the bay. Shortly after arriving to Dragonsbane we noticed our British neighbor’s boat was gone and we assumed they had left as the anchorage we are in is so packed with yachts that you could walk from yacht to yacht to shore without getting your feet wet. But my dad noticed that their boat had slipped on its anchor and was drifting out of control through a gantlet of sailboats and was at risk of damaging herself and others. My dad and I jumped into the dinghy and boarded the boat to find Pauline freaking out and to make a long story short we helped her reset the anchor and made sure she was safe. After our excitement with the drifting boat we went to shore and walked the busy city streets and ended up at the spice market. As I entered the spice market there was an overwhelming amount of fresh spices, fruit, handmade goods, and RUM everywhere you could look. I spent time smelling all the fresh raw spices, vanilla, thyme, curry, coca, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and pineapple. I purchased fresh cloves, curry, and raw coca that now fills Dragonsbane’s cabin with a exotic mixture of spices that compliments the ocean breeze. After spending time in the market I enjoyed walking the endless streets packed with fine clothing, multiple linen, and shoe stores that it would take a month to see each one. I enjoyed walking through a very old library where the books where tanned brown and hundreds of years old, and the original Catholic church that had huge vaulted ceilings. I then made my way back to Dragonsbane and spent the rest of the day scrubbing her belly so Dragonsbane sailed at top speed. After a salty bath and rinsing off in fresh water our British neighbors joined us for cocktails as we exchanged our tails of the sea and all our boat issues. Once again another good day!

Good night and Thanks,

Jacques

Sailing into the Island of Martinique

Sailing into the Island of Martinique

Walking the City Streets of Martinique

Walking the City Streets of Martinique

Walking in the market streets

Walking in the market streets

Shopping for spices

Shopping for spices

Lots of spices to buy and smell

Lots of spices to buy and smell

Walking in the old Library with very old books!

Walking in the old Library with very old books!

The church, I didn't take pictures inside for respect of others.

The church, I didn’t take pictures inside for respect of others.

Our Anchorage

Our Anchorage! Took this from the dinghy as I rowed. 

 

Thanks again for reading my blog,

Jacques

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


First Time I Sailed Through a Washing Machine!

We left Dominica last night around 4:30pm to Martinique and began our voyage with no wind. This was due to being on the leeward side of Dominica Island which was 20 miles of motor sailing but we made good speed at 6 knots. As we approached the 22 nautical mile open water pass between Dominica Island and Martinique Island I felt the wind speed climb from 5 knots to 25 knots in a hard blow. I quickly decided to reef the main sail to the second reef and fly only the staysail so I could maintain control of Dragonsbane. As the shore lights of Dominica faded into the star light of the horizon behind me large swells from the north Atlantic began to roll across my bow and mixed in with the east trade wind waves. As I hacked my way through the waves on my shift alone I felt the boat being tossed up into the air by the northern swells and then push down into the troughs of waves by the eastern trade wind waves with a sudden stop. Even with a confused sea, and the movement of Dragonsbane unpleasant, I had fun as I sailed 7 knots and on course for the entire night. I did get a little cold because some of the waves would dump into the cockpit right as I would be drying out from the last wave. I always answered the wave with a “Son of A Bitch!” and laughed with a big salty bearded smile on my face and hoped to go faster!

We made landfall around 5:30am and I enjoyed using the Radar to navigate through the busy harbor. It’s pretty cool to see little specs on the radar, track them, and avoid a collision. I felt very safe in Dragonsbane as we made it to the anchorage and dropped anchor right in front of Fort de France, Martinique. I enjoyed the sun rise with a cigar and the old city church bells of France ringing in the new day! Nothing better on this salty Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day Everybody,

Jacques