31 May 2022: Sailing … SOUTH?
31 May 2021
Pidgeon Cove, Guadeloupe
Cumulative Mileage (NM)
Crew on Board
Skipper, first mate, chef, entertainment and more; I guess that is solo sailing for you!
GENERAL WEATHER OBSERVATIONS
Sometimes 5 knots, sometimes 20 knots.
Not a cloud in sight!
SUNNY AND HOT!
Dry, thank goodness!
Finally, now I was in the Eastern Caribbean I was done with going East! It was time to turn south and have the trade winds consistently off my beam.
I remember the easy sailing of the windward and leeward islands from last time even if I was not in these islands long enough to really enjoy it before selling the boat. There is a little bit of a lack of wind when you are in lee of each of the islands, but otherwise pretty predictable.
I was pretty pleased with myself for finding a spot to anchor here in Pidgeon Cove in less than 30 feet of water. Doubly impressed because pickings were slim with all of the mooring balls scattered around.
I had found a spot in 15 feet!
It does not totally affect me when I drop the anchor (though you do have to let out more scope and need more room if it is deeper) because gravity drops the anchor for me. It is when I raise anchor that I have to winch in however many feet I let out. And it can be a bit of an effort (especially without someone on the helm driving forward to give you slack in the chain; 90% of the time I am raising anchor with the engine in neutral especially now my autohelm was not reliable at driving my towards a fixed heading).
So it was a relatively easy anchor up with only 75-feet of chain out. I could not raise the mainsail at anchor – which was my preference – as I was not facing into the wind. The current and waves in the bay and the large mountainous shoreline meant that you did not consistently point into the trade winds. Instead it was quite a rocky anchorage with what seemed like daily gusts all morning and calm afternoons.
Therefore I raised and stowed the anchor with enough room to drift a little bit about the anchorage as I did all final stowing before heading back to the helm. In a tight anchorage, I would motor out of the anchorage before totally stowing everything away. Once out of the anchorage I turned into the wind and raised the mainsail.
Most of the day was spent manually steering – whether with my foot from somewhere else in the cockpit or actually standing at the helm – as my autohelm has fully given up on trying to help me at all. But it was a short sail so that meant that I would not need to cook or likely even use the washroom.
It was nearly impossible to balance the sails as every valley and feature on the mountainous land I sailed along resulted in random and unpredictable gusts. Murphy’s Law means that even if the sails had been balanced for an hour, the moment you step away is when the gust would come. And I can confirm, sailing in Guadeloupe is the perfect invitation for Murphy’s Law to prove itself true.
It was so nice to follow up my long three day sail the other day with a couple of shore sails. I needed it to remind me that I like sailing and that it does not always completely exhaust me.
It was a dual purpose stop at this southern part of Guadeloupe, though I could have gone to an easier anchorage a couple miles further south if not for a bit of a silly mistake that I made.
Tala carries two propane tanks. One 11-pound tank that lasts me somewhere between six weeks and two months (last filled in Georgetown, Bahamas) and one much smaller tank that is my backup I use while I try and find a place to fill the other (I reckon it would last maybe two weeks). I would have two full-sized tanks but one vented propane locker is smaller than the other.
Now without considering how much propane I had remaining – since I have the backup tank – I left St Thomas, US Virgin Islands roughly a week ago to come to Guadeloupe.
From Guadeloupe the plan was to go to Martinique and spend a month or so doing boat work while I wait to pick up some friends. Well as it turns out there is NO PROPANE in the French Islands. And without sailing out of my way (something I did not want to do because I was so tired from my first 3,500 nautical miles since I bought my boat), the only choice was to stop in Dominica.
That meant a check in fee, a port with only paid moorings overnight, and a day behind on schedule and missing a great sailing forecast while my tank got filled. Plus I had to stop at this port in Guadeloupe because checking into Dominica requires you to obtain a check out document from your previous country and this was the only convenient place I could get my check out document. It is lucky I would be sorted for a good two months on propane, because this sure was a hassle. The only benefit to this new plan forced on me was that it meant no overnight sail to Martinique. I was happy to not tire myself out and be done with the overnights for a while.
“Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they did not stop to enjoy it.”
– William Feather