Z E N I T U D E
                                                      
Blue Water Dreaming
Leeward Islands - St Martin to Les Saints and back
St. Martin  - 17 February to 6 April 2009
After leaving Pelican Island in the  BVIís we sailed to St Martin crossing the Anegada passage in pretty good conditions and arriving at Marigot Bay in the morning.

Back in the French side of the island we enjoyed this place that we know so well.
St Martin is a great place for boat maintenance and we spent a lot of time fixing broken things.

During this long stay, we visited Orient Bay, Tintamare and Anse Marcel. All of them in the French side (we never stayed on the Dutch side).

There was this feeling of being back home.

We also stayed at Grand Case sometimes as  nowadays they are charging a fee at Marigot Bay, which looks different from previous times, pretty empty. People not happy to pay to stay at anchor.
St Martin - Guadaloupe - Les Saints - Montserrat - Nevis - St Martin
Unfortunately this year there is a constant (semi-permanent) North swell and at some point the anchorage outside Simpson Bay Lagoon was very rolly, uncomfortable and sometimes untenable. We spent quite a lot of our time inside the lagoon, hating the weather. 

On one occasion we tried to stay out in Marigot Bay. The swell was not only uncomfortable but dangerous. We were at anchor in rather shallow waters close to the beach and trying to make up our minds if we should go back inside the lagoon, when a big wave came, lift us and broke just ahead of us on top of another catamaranís roof, needless to say that our mind was made up pretty quickly, and faster than we thought possible we raised anchor and went to deeper waters to wait a couple of hours for the bridge to open. As it can be expected with these conditions the lagoon was crowded. The holding there is not very good as it is mud and we dragged a couple of times but in general we were ok.

The weather pattern has been 2 or 3 days a week the wind blowing hard, 2 or 3 days with high seas logically plus the northerly swell, 1 or 2 nice days to enjoy, lots of squalls in between, typical week. We are thinking that if this had been our first sailing season we would have already given up on cruising. 
Nightfall - Marigot Bay
The Eastern Caribbean is divided roughly into two sets of islands: those that receive the Trade Winds first, that is, the Windward Islands, and those that are a bit to the west, the Leeward Islands.  This year we plan to go no farther than Les Saints, and hence we are staying just in the Leeward Islands.
One day we run into Sergio from Gizzy, while shopping in West Marine. He and Aileen are working in a mega yacht in Port the Plaisant Marina. They left Gizzy in PLC, Venezuela and are making some money working here. A business opportunity for me as they need some canvas work done. I did several canvas  items for Zenitude, and decided to take the job. At the end it was a lot of well rewarded work with many fun hours spent with Aileen in the process.

During our stay in the lagoon we met Joule, an Australian flagged sailboat, with Peter and Nani. They are also going to Guadaloupe and Dominica. We might meet them there. They will cross the Pacific as well but they haven't decided when.
Orient Beach
We spent our last night quietly in St Martin and at 9:00AM we left towards Guadalopue. There was almost no wind for a good part of the trip and then all of the sudden we got 20 to 25 knots. There seems to be some effects from the islands we passed along the way. Next day we arrived at Deshayes. 
Guadaloupe - 7 to 8 April 2009

Deshayes - (16.19.69N-61-47-59W)
We met again with Meggie and Ray from DRUM. We haven't seen them since PLC in Venezuela, after they went separate ways back to Grenada while we cruised off shore islands in Venezuela. They were waiting for us when we arrived and Meggie sounded the conk horn as a welcome sign on our approach. It is good to see them again and there is happy hour at DRUM where we meet some of their friends. Everybody is going to Les Saints tomorrow. We ended up not doing customs in here as Roy says the guy is a pain. We'll do that in Les Saints tomorrow.
Les Saints - 8 to 19 April 2009

Le Bourg - (15.51.97N-61.35.41W)
Half the boats in Deshayes left the anchorage, the majority heading for Les Saints. We would have waited for another day to rest after our prevoius trip but we wanted to go with Drum and company, so off we go. The wind was completely variable on the lee of Guadaloupe, sometimes nothing, sometimes 20 to 25, so we go on the second reef and motorsail all the way. Along the way Oscar spotted a whale!

We all arrive at Le Bourg in Les Saints more or less at the same time. What a difficult anchorage, it is deep and crowded. There is a tiny little beach that looks good but there are many local fishermen boats in moorings.

We wanted to anchor well as we are waiting for bad weather (what is new?) and finally found a good place far from the main anchorage, in Illet a Cabrit.
The bad weather arrives and it is horrible and rolly as hell. It is good to be in a shallow place and away from the crowded anchorage as many boats are dragging.

We are enjoying Le Bourg. A French little town, with a bakery of course and fresh baguettes every two to three hours. We go on several walking tours, visit a beach on the south coast that is so beaten by the seas all the time that bathing there is prohibited, not that anyone would feel like swimming there anyway. We visit Fort Napoleon on the top of the hill with outstanding views down the bay. There is a very well kept museum, interesting to visit.

The weather finally improves and we leave anchor to visit around the island. We find many places nice for snorkeling but no anchorage until we get to Petit Anse where  we could anchor. We go snorkeling and diving and Oscar gets a small lobster and a sole for dinner. The sole was not a good idea, so many bones!
Back in Guadaloupe - 19 to 24 April 2009

Point a Pitre - Bas Du Fort Marina - (16.13.17N-61.31.72W)
We are back in this marina that we enjoyed so much last year. We have vouchers from last year to stay 4 days and we are enjoying marina life for a change. It was good to book the marina as it is full this time of the year. Zenitude is so still at this moment, it feels strange after so much rolling and a good long hot shower feels really fantastic. We did all the usual chores we do in a marina, a lot of washing, rented a car, spent 2 days shopping (Guadaloupe is great for provisioning), we went for errands looking for parts and finally the 4 days are gone and we get ready to leave.
Anse Malendure - Pigeon Island - Cousteau Marine Park (16.10.34N-61.46.80)

After leaving the marina we sailed the 44 miles to visit this bay, a stopover before leaving towards Monserrat. This is a hard anchorage, boats swing 360 degrees all the time and there is sudden changes on the wind, there are moments when it blows hard and all of the sudden it gets very calm, to blow again a little later. Boats keep swinging all around all of the time. Very weird. Next morning, around 7.30 AM we lifted anchor and left towards Monserrat. We found that Zenitude was sitting on top of all the chain!.
Monserrat - 24 to 26 April 2009

Little Bay - (16.47.85N-62.12.53W)
Leaving Monserrat towards Nevis we are sailing fast with 25 knots of wind and we pass nearby the kingdom of Redonda.

This uninhabited islet is a micro nation which may, arguably and briefly, actually have existed as an independent kingdom during the 19th century.

The title to this supposed kingdom is still contested to this day in a half-serious fashion.

The "Kingdom" is also often associated with a number of supposed aristocratic members, whose titles are given out freely by whoever is currently the "King". Currently there are a number of different individuals in several different countries who claim to be the sole legitimate "King" of Redonda.

It appears to be just a huge "rock" to me.

It was a great day sailing from Guadaloupe, the wind was perfect at 90 degrees, 18 to 22 knots.

Arriving at Monserrat we could see the volcano and the devastation it left in the South of the island.

We arrived at Little Bay early and were able to anchor well. This is not a big anchorage and at the end of the day it was crowded. It is not place to be with northerly swells but we were lucky and it was not rolly at all while we were there. The wind behaved in a strange way, calm at times, blowing hard at other times.
We went ashore to check in and found Christian's taxi. He had been recommended to us for a tour of the island.  The island is almost out of business after the last volcano eruption in 2007. It is very sad and very impressive to see. A whole town had to be abandoned and it is now covered by volcano's sand. It is not possible to visit the town, but we could get close to some of the isolated houses, with about 25 foot of  sand on top. Our tour guide explained how the island's life was affected by this terrible catastrophe.

Later on we went snorkelling. I could see a really big fish far away. I quickly called Oscar and to our surprise we saw a huge whale with her calf. Back to the dinghy, we approached to see better but did not want to get too close as she could get protective about her baby.

Next day we left Monserrat towards Nevis.
Between Monserrat and Nevis there is:

The Kindom of Redonda
View of Le Bourg
Fort Napoleon
Monserrat, the south, devastated by the volcano
Monserrat, the north, green and flourishing
The roof of a house buried in vulcano's sand
The Kindom of Redonda
Nevis - 26 to 30 April 2009

Charlestown - (17.09.02N-62.37.86W0
When we arrived we found lots of moorings so we thought it is probably not allowed to anchor, so we took one of the moorings. So far we like the place with long beaches and music on the beach (it is Sudnay)

On Monday we went to do the rather
bureaucratic check in process and met again with Shay and John from Carissima. We had met them in Boqueron. They decided going to Trinidad for hurricane season, they've been discouraged of going to Venezuela by many, including us!.
Oualie Beach - (17.12.30-62.38.40)
A very charming place. We spent a day here before leaving Nevis to go back to St Martin. We've heard bad things about St. Kits and decided to skip it.
Charleston - Nevis
Back in St Martin - 30 April to 14 May 2009
When we left Nevis there was little wind but it was a beautiful day so we enjoyed sailing slowly for a change. Dolphins came to play with us and stayed for a couple of hours. The only problem was that it took longer than planned and we approached St Martin quite late with scary very black clouds towards Anguila. But we arrived safely in Marigot Bay and easily dropped the anchor there.

Next day we woke up early and entered to lagoon at the first bridge opening, we went strait to the marina to fill our water tanks just to find out that all was closed, it was Labor Day! But Regine at the marina was wonderful as always and gave us water as well as processed the check in for us.
Dolphins lead the way
Another squall, a common site these days
A day after we went out of the Lagoon to Orient Bay, we spent there a nice couple of days but on the second night the wind started to blow really hard and the swell got into the anchorage and our anchor started dragging, I have to say that trying to re-anchor in 30 knots of wind, at night in a place squeezed between coral heads and the beach was not an experience we were willing to have, but we managed and then we stood watch, until the wind died down at about 2.00 AM. As more bad weather was expected we left Orient Bay and went to Grand Case, a great anchorage, big wide bay with a lots of room and better protection from the swell. The wind still gets there but there is a lot of room to re-anchor if needed.
We found the jib needed repairs and took it to Incidences in Marigot. They've done a great job for us before and this time they also did replacing the whole sun protection fabric. We missed a nice window while waiting for the sail but finally got it and got ready to leave. We found a bit of protection from the wind in Friars bay, where we re-installed the jib.

As we were getting ready to leave we could see menacing clouds again. Finally, as the sun was coming down we left, sadly thinking we did not have the nice time we were looking forward to, because the weather has been consistently miserable.