Of islands and winds ....
We sailed up through the Windward Islands from Carriacou to Les Saintes in one hop, arriving yesterday morning to pick up a mooring ball in the bay off Le Bourg De Saintes.
On the way up we took the leeward side of the islands but gave ourselves plenty of distance from shore to avoid the wind shadowing effect of the mountains - or so we thought! But we were wrong. Even though we were over 15 miles offshore it still wasn't far enough and we ended up motoring until we cleared the tops of the islands and picked up the trade winds again to resume sailing. That said, the winds were blowing constantly at around 25 knots and with reefs in both sails we were maintaining an average of 8 knots speed over ground, 10 knots through the water (the current was running against us, slowing our progress a bit). Once we got past St Lucia, we were able to turn away from the waves and current a bit and the ride from there was much smoother and we let George the autohelm do some of the work as we sailed on through the night.
As we passed Dominica, we decided that we would 'run silent' as the people on the island are pretty desperate after the hurricane and we didn't want to advertise our presence to any opportunistic pirates by showing our navigation lights which can be seen from miles away, so we turned them off and ghosted by the island unnoticed at 8.5 knots until it was daylight and we lost the wind again and had to turn on the engine once more. The night sail was really easy with a full moon to illuminate the seas, it was like sailing in twilight, magic!
Back in Les Saintes, even though they were also hit by the hurricane, it is life as normal. Some of the trees have been blown down or stripped of their foliage, but it appears to be life as usual here. Three of the four ATM machines on the island are out of order but we found the fourth 'billetterie' dans La Poste, and that one was operating. A good thing really, as we had arrived with a €20 note and nothing else expecting to use at least one of the cash machines. I was surprised just how vexed I was not to have 'monnaie dans ma poche' much to Debra's amusement, but as it turned out, for some reason the supermarche rejected our cash passport card and we had to pay with cash after all!
We returned to Tumi armed with a cache of French cheese, salami, a Baguette and 🍷 for our lunch. It was so good and we ate so much, we both had to have a post prandial nap 💤 although that may be partly due to the lack of sleep the night before!
We saw some wildlife on the way up - a whale ~30 feet long surfaced right next to us and dived back down again, and Debra saw several other spouts nearby; and the dolphins came to visit a few times too. No turtles to report, but loads of Sargassum weed around. It really is a nuisance when you are trying to fish as it attaches itself to the lure which then needs reeling in to clear it off. We also had our first flying fish of the season land on the deck flapping and fluttering its wings and leaving a snail trail of scales on the boat. I picked it up and repatriated (or the ocean equivalent) it before it expired and it swam away without a word of thanks. It will probably have been eaten by a frigate bird now.