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Monday, January 28, 2013

January 27, 2013-Back Pain in English Harbor

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English Harbor, Antigua.

After Fort De France we sailed up the coast of Martinique to St. Pierre, a delightful village but located in the risky position of being at the base of the Mt. Pele volcano. (Mt Pele has already destroyed St Pierre once, in 1902, with the loss of the lives of 30,000 inhabitants, but Mt Pele is quiet now.) It is a scenic setting and we enjoyed the town but my back had been bothering me; I wanted to go somewhere that I could rest up for a few days. We needed a bullet proof anchorage and St. Pierre was an open roadstead. The next morning we weighed and headed north. We sailed all day past Dominica and Guadeloupe and pushed through to Antigua and 24 hours later were anchored snuggly in English Harbor, long a goal of mine to visit, but not without some difficulty. Sailing with a bad back isn’t fun and I am sure I made it worse.

We went to the doctor and got some meds and settled down in English Harbor to rest up. Then I was careless handling some heavy lines and the back injury got worse, much worse. Operating a sailboat is tough on the body. Handling dock lines isn’t any better. As a consequence I was flat on my back with excruciating leg and hip pain for five days. This is undoubtedly a pinched nerve in my spine, probably from some sort of lumbar disk problem but it is hard to assess without diagnostics like MRI’s and the such, which we have not had done. You wouldn’t believe how many painkillers I was taking.

But there was a big race going on here, the Antigua Super Yacht Challenge. The smallest boats are over 100 feet and the really big ones, well, they are huge. For two days of this three day event I was in my bunk when they went out racing literally unable to move and I felt like I was missing out on something spectacular. But by the end of day two of the racing, my fifth day flat on my back, I started to feel a little better. I got up and moved around. It didn’t hurt, much. I made a call and got invited to sail on one of the boats as a photographer for day three. Now if my back would hold out…

Judy says I was stupid for even considering it and for sure she was right but I went for a short walk around the harbor looking at all the boats. It was a test and I passed; my back could hold up for a 30 minute walk.

So, on Sunday, I showed up at the yacht Marmara for the docking out at 10:00 with a bag of camera gear and a pocket full of oxycodone. Could I make it hoping around the decks of a super yacht for three hours with a marginal back?

I did, the sailing was great, and I got a lot of good shots. Hang on for a few days and I’ll have the photos posted.

My Back? Well, you know, the next day we made a trip to the supermarket and that was harder.

Click here For more images from St Pierre and Antigua.

Sorry! No photos of the patient.

Hang loose for a few days and we'll post photos of the Antigua super Yacht Challenge

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Antigua

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Monday, January 14, 2013

January 14, 2013-Magnificent Sailing to Magnificent Martinique

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Judy Chases Competition

Another magnificent day of sailing and, now, Martinique, another magnificent Caribbean island.

From St Lucia we sailed hard to Martinique, keeping a sharp eye on the other five boats which set out at the same we did. We were racing, unofficially. Maybe the others didn’t know it but I did. The sailing was great: sunshine, nice breeze, warm water, and competition. What more can you ask for? Of the five boats out there, one turned back, one beat us, and we put the other three away. The boat that beat us probably would not have if handicaps were applied but it was hard to tell for sure since he dropped his sails and turned on the motor for the last two miles. We sailed the whole distance. It was good.

Le Marin, Martinique: Nowhere have we seen so many parked sailboats. This place is huge. Judy said she loved the anchorage which means it was calm. Me too; bulletproof, just the way I like it.

Checking in was quick, about three minutes, then we found out we're in France! I thought this was the Caribbean, but no, Martinique is part of France, it is actually a department of France, which sort of explained all the French people and Peugeot cars.

Then we went to the bar and ran into Nacho and Ana. Well, they were happy to see us and tried to be polite, but since France is nearly Spain, and they are Spanish, their phones, Ipads, and pocket calculators were all lit up and they were deeply involved with things electronic. Ana was having a skype chat with her sister and Natcho was working his way through 39 emails, about 15 of which concerned his boat in Palma which was being sold and he dearly wanted to get to the bottom of that. But we came to Martinique to buy good French wine at a great price, so we said "caio" and went to the supermarche. Good Bordeaux wine is about $2.80 a bottle; we bought 41 bottles. Mission accomplished.

Yole Racing in Martinique

Saturday we had a great dinner with Jacques and Edith, who were planning to go roller-blading on Sunday but no way can we keep up with Edith’s high energy, so we photographed a local sailing boat race instead, and Monday we’ll do some more shopping before heading off to the capitol, Fort Du France.

And when I wake up from my nap on the settee trying to remember what country we are in… Oh yeah, France.

Click here for more shots of our sail to Martinique

Click here for more Yole regatta shots

Click here to see Fort De France

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Martinique

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Wednesday, January 09, 2013

January 4, 2013-Seventy Miles to St. Lucia

Update: New Photo Link at Bottom

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
St. Lucia.

We sailed out into the St Vincent Channel into a building breeze, the wind hitting the low twenties and the waves had authority. We dropped the traveler down and eased the main sheet and the speed climbed. With the #4 jib just cracked and a full mainsail well out and twisted off the boat charged upwind; the spray was flying. This was a combination which we hadn’t used before in conditions like this and it was working: we were making seven knots and hitting eight at times. Wings reveled in it and I sat on the afterdeck and just enjoyed the day. The other boats out there with us began to fall behind.

This was the sailing we needed to do if we were going to make the seventy miles to St. Lucia before dark.

But the day had started out slowly. We’d been anchored in Bequia and on Wednesday we heard the weather forecast for the weekend. It didn’t sound good: strong wind, big waves, and rain, and for several days.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold

Bequia was a good place to wait out weather like that, but we could be pinned down there for a week or more which wasn’t in our plan, so before sun-up the next day, in company with several other boats, we set sail for St. Lucia, seventy miles away.

We put up the small jib and a reefed main, expecting a breeze, but the winds were lighter than we expected. We were hardly moving. We shook out the reef and still we wallowed.

Some of other boats turned on their engines and motored away from us. Others caught some wind and started sailing. We sat still, watching them sail away. It was frustrating and I fumed.

Eventually the wind filled for us too and we started to move. From that point on it was a good sail and in a few hours, when we broke into the St Vincent Channel, leaving the island of St. Vincent and its rain squalls behind, we had the conditions Wings loved: blue skies, blue seas, lots of sun and lots of wind.

We crossed the channel and St Lucia hove into view, the Pitons looking majestic.

As we neared the lee of St. Lucia, if anything, it got windier and rougher. The wind shifted to the North. We would have to beat the rest of the way to Rodney Bay. By then it was getting late in the day and the light started to fade. We were alone; the other boats were behind us or had turned in to ports further down the coast.

We tacked inshore looking for flatter water and beat on into gathering dusk.

By the last few tacks it was dark, windier than ever, and we were tired and anxious to make port.

When we turned into Rodney Bay and set the hook we were thankful to be there.

But we’d done our 70 miles and it was a good sail.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Wings, safely tucked away in Rodney Bay.

Click here for more photos from Bequia.

Click here for photos from St Lucia.

Click here for more photos of Wings

Fred & Judy, SV Wings

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