Friday, December 31, 2010


Originally uploaded by brisegalets
Papy Jovial has not disappeared from the Cyberworld, but time now is for family and reunion. Anne's stay unfortunalely is about to end as she returns home tomorrow. I wish she could have stayed longer, long enough anyway to wash away the consequences of a very stressful life. Hopefully, this short stay in Martinique will have provided her with a little bit of energy, enough I hope to face returning to day to day life.
Patricia and Alice have arrived last night and are looking forward to two weeks island hopping in the Caribbean.
In terms of navigation, there will be a change from coastal sailing and shuttling between the marinas of Martinique to sailing to the other islands, starting with Dominique, about which Patricia is quite excited. She has become a professional of the protection of the environment, and Dominica should be quite a feast for her.
I wish all those who have been following this blog (there is still more to come) a very happy and prosperous New Year. I will still be on the water in the years to come.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Rain check

In Europe, they have snow storms, to the point of disrupting air traffic. Here in Martinique, we got an unusual tropical wave. It went over the Caribbean just in time for Christmas, starting on the 23rd and it will clear by the 27th.
At first, the plan was to go to Dominica, but the harbour master of the Pointe du Bout, convinced us that it was not a good idea. I then went to plan B which would have been to go south. But once out there in the bay of Fort de France, the whole southern horizon was deep black and we turned north and went to St Pierre. St Piere is a small town that was totally destroyed in 1902, costing some 30,000 lives. There was only one survivor who at the time was in city jail and that's what saved his life.
On Christmas eve, we went ashore for drinks, but the town was not very much alive. We did not spent too much time there and went back to the boat for fresh oysters and champagne.
Having seen what the weather had in store for us, I decided to go back south the next day and we went to Grande Anse d'Arlets which is a very good natural shelter. Unfortunaly there is almost no telephone coverage there and a very weak and erratic wifi, which is better than nothing since the 3G network is not available there.
Hopefully tomorrow we will continue south and anchor in Sainte Anne, which is a place that I know well. There, we are a dinguy ride away from Le Marin and multiple shops, not that we need much, but we can always do with some fresh stuff.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

family time

I feel almost guilty that there will be much less postings in the two coming weeks as I am welcoming aboard Papy Jovial, first daughter Anne, PHD in Marine Biology, scientific journalist, starting a career as a painter and art photographer, from December 22 till January 1st. She will be joined on December 30 by her sister Patricia, architect and "green" expert, who lives in Quebec and will be coming with daughter Alice, 16 years old, who will live through her first experience at sea.
I wish I had been a better father in the past, but here is an opportunity to catch up somewhat, and the blog will come second.
Last Monday, I sailed as planned from Le Marin back to Pointe du Bout. Again, luck was on our side and I got a spot alongside, which makes it a lot more convenient to do the provisioning and to come and go as we wish without having to synchronize everything with the dinghy.
Anne arrived on Wednesday afternoon, only one hour late despite all the delays that air traffic was experiencing in France. She was of course exhausted and had to adjust to the time difference, so the holidays start only today.
At first, I was planning to go to Dominica, but we have been told that there is a heavy swell making its way to the northern part of the Antilles, and I want to keep everybody as comfortable as can be. So, we might satisfy ourselves with a tour of Martinique, which is far from a bad idea.
Maybe if we spend time at anchor will I find the time to work on the computer and tell it all.
Meanwhile, happy Christmas everyone

Friday, December 17, 2010


I can't believe it's been already 4 days since we arrived in Martinique and a lot has happened since. We first arrived not knowing where to go, but we got lucky and as we were approaching Pointe du Bout on the 13th (Monday) we were told that they had one spot available and we were able to tie up there for the night. There was no Wifi available alongside, but if you had dinner at the restaurant "La Marine", they would give you a code valid for 2 hours. This enabled me to receive my mail and to reply to whatever was very urgent.
Next morning, we left for the yard where we were supposed to haul out. Got there at 10:00 a.m. sharp and we were hauled out immediately. Everything went smoothly and it only took two days to clean the hull, remove the existing coat of antifouling and apply two new coats of a good paint available locally and not too expensive. In the meantime, we were able to replace the blower in the engine compartment that had burnt.
We spent Tuesday and Wednesday night at Philippe and Odile, two very pleasant evenings with old friends that we first met in 1987 in Haiti and that we had last seen in 2000 here in Martinique.
I was also able to rent a car and to put and end with the nightmare I was having with Digicel and my Internet connection. It took a great number of hours and several visits to several Digicel offices, but all is well now and I should be able tomorrow to post some more photos.
We went back in the water on Thursday morning and sailed straight to Le Marin where I wanted to take care of the rigging. Luckily, we arrived late enough to take a spot at Caribbe Greement, knowing that they would work on the boat on Friday. We also expected them to take the whole day to do the work and stretch our stay until Monday morning. This worked well and we will probably leave Le Marin on Monday.
Last time I came here was in 1996, and the place was still small enough to be pleasant. Today, I reckon that there are probably over 1,000 boats either on the docks or at anchor and I only have one wish, get out of here as soon as we can.
The base plate that holds the rigid boom vang to the mast has received 8 brand new stainless steel large rivets and should be secured to the mast for a few years to come. The pins that had gone missing on the elements of the roller furler have been replaced and the mechanism inspected and found in good shape. The halyard that were not of a very good quality, especially the ones that I had purchased in Australia, have been replaced. The only thing that we could not do was to have the goose neck on the mast replaced. The rigger told us that he would have to research what kind of spare is needed but he did not have it in his workshop. He also said that I should not worry too much, that even with the play on it, the existing one should hold easily until I get to the US and find a replacement.
We are going to spend the coming week-end doing some touring on the island while I wait for my daughters to arrive, Anne on the 22nd and Patricia on the 30th.
Monday we will probably sail back to Pointe du Bout that we like a lot more than Le Marin.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


This is it. This time, we can say that we are in the Caribbean, as we
are passing Barbados. But very slowly. For the last day and a half, we
are crawling with less than 10 knots of wind at somewhere around 4 knots.
I am no longer expecting to arrive in Fort de France tomorrow morning,
but rather in the afternoon if we are lucky. There is no rush however
since our appointment for the haulout is on Tuesday morning at 10. But
it would be nice to arrive early enough to find out if we can find
somewhere to tie up and go ashore. If we have to use the dinghy, I doubt
that we will do that, Maybe if we can anchor close enough to the marina
of Pointe du Bout.
For the last 24 hours, we have only covered 137 miles, a far cry from
the 204 between Cabedelo and Cayenne. It is 5:30 p.m. and we still have
124 miles to go for Fort de France. Hopefully, we won't have to use the
engine too much.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Re entry

It feels like we have left for good the territories which were new
discoveries for me, and we are back in the all too familiar ones.
We just spent a very bad night. Intense thunderstorms, lots of rain,
some wind too although never anything threatening, and heavier seas than
the wind would let you expect, and Papy Jovial is rolling heavily. We
are safe, but uncomfortable,
There is some traffic as well, mostly freighters but some fishing boats
as well. Last night, one of those fishing boats was underway, most
probably on auto pilot with nobody watching, or they could not see
anything having left all their powerful deck lights on. In any event,
they were on a collision course with us, but all the signals that I made
towards them with flashlights remained ignored and I had to change my
course and speed in conditions which were not very easy. They passed us
very close, and I could not see anybody either on deck or on the bridge.
Not surprising but frightening. What if ?
Today, the conditions are much better. Few clouds but we can see the
sun, the wind is steady at 20 knots and we are reaching. We are
averaging 7 knots over the ground, which would make us in Fort de France
early on Monday morning. Papy Jovial is still rolling, but not as bad as
last night and it becomes possible to sleep.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Cayenne will not stand as one of our best stops. I would even venture
to say that in many respects, it will stand as one of our worse. The
only exception would be the local customs officer. He is a yachtie
himself and understands the needs of a small sailboat. In one hour, I
did the clearance in and the clearance out, all on proper documentation
and all that with a very friendly atmosphere. A big change from Reunion
where we had so much trouble getting a clearance.
The marina at Degrad des Cannes could be voted as one of the worse in
the world. It is located in the wrong place (on the outside of a river
bend with strong current), next to a cement plant, next to the
commercial harbor and with no services at all. All it has are two
pontoons with water and electricity, which is almost a miracle, but
there is no office, no access to toilets or showers, and it is located 8
miles from the city with no public transport available. The swell comes
in all the way to the marina and the boats are tossed around quite a
bit, with a lot of stress on the moorings.
Also, since the marina is hardly managed, there are quite many boats, in
terrible shape, owned by squatters who come here to work and don't care
if their boat goes to hell and looks like a piece of sh......t.
We arrived at the beginning of the rainy season, which means that
everything is hot and almost dry, or hot and totally wet. The atmosphere
is very damp and you get esxhausted very easily.

When you go to the city, you never feel that you are in a city by the
sea side. In fact, it seems to have its back to the sea and is only
looking inshore to the rivers and the rain forest. I managed to rent a
car, but failed to get a mobile broadband connection with a USB modem.
We drove to Kuru in an attempt to visit the space facility. Although we
had been told to be there before 8 a.m. and have our passports ready. So
we did. On arrival, we were told that they were training the guides, so
there would be no visit, but we could visit the Space Museum. Which we
did. To find out that most of the exhibits did not work, either being
out of order, or just not connected. So we left, under the impression
that visitors were not all that welcome.

After a last evening at the home of a friend of Olivier, during which we
learned quite a bit about Guyana, we got back to the boat, happy to be
about to leave.
Having no access to Internet, I can't post any pictures, but I will do
so once in either Martinique or Guadeloupe.
We should arrive in Martinique by the 13th at the latest.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Also called ITCZ (inter-tropical convergence zone). We though we were
going to get away with it and not have to go through.
It started yesterday around 1:00 p.m. It looked like a lot of very heavy
thunderstorms. But once we got inside them, there was no wind, just
heavy rain and a little bit of air pulling the boat into all kinds of
directions. We had the gennaker up and I did not see the need to take it
down as the wind never went up more than 13 knots.
It seemed that it would never stop, and it did not. The rain stayed with
us until 9:00 this morning. After that, the wind became a little more
stable but still very weak. less than 10 knots. Just as well ! After
that run at more than 200 miles a day, there was a chance that we would
arrive, as usual, on Sunday morning at 2:00 a.m. in a moonless night.
Even now, if we were doing just 5 knots, we would get to the entrance of
the channel at 3:00 a.m.
I do not like to enter restricted areas at night when it is the first
time I get there. One can never trust the GPS, as I have seen this
voyage in Tonga, Rodrigues and Cabedelo where while we stayed in the
middle of the channel, the GPS would have run us aground. The radar
works well, but it is not always easy to distinguish a channel marker
from other objects. And there will be no moon to help. So, I might just
stay adrift outside and wait for daylight.

My upcoming itinerary, which was very much dependent on availability of
boat yard to haul out and marinas to stay, during the holidays season. I
now have a boat yard confirmed in Fort de France, Martinique where I
will haul out and do the bottom paint on December 14 to 16. Then I will
move to Point a Pitre, Guadeloupe and take a berth at the Marina de Bas
du Fort where I have found a space available. In Pointe a Pitre, I
should be able to work on the rigging (roller furler, goose neck for the
boom and the rigid boom vang, lines to replace, etc...) I will be in
Pointe a Pitre from December 18 to 28. Then, we will sail back to Fort
de France to pick up daughter and grand daughter. I still have to find
a place either at the Marina de Pointe du Bout, or in the village of "Le
Will follow a great 12 days cruise with daughter and grand daughter.

A friend to meet in Guadeloupe, my older brother arriving in Les
Saintes, and then we will start sailing back to Grand Lucaya where Papy
Jovial will stay for a few days to lick her wounds and clean up.

And then, Papy Jovial and myself still have to sail back to Norfolk, but
I intend to creep up and stop wherever I have friends to greet.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Reflecting on Jacare

Despite the fact that Manuel Pimentel in Luanda had done a miracle to
get me a visa for Brazil, leaving Lobito, I was not sure yet that I
wanted to stop in Cabedelo, as I felt pressed by time. But since we did
a fast crossing of the South Atlantic, there was no problem stopping in
Brazil. And I do not regret it at all.
First of all, meeting with Paulo Mourao was great. I did not expect at
all to see a brother of the Coast there in Jacare since most of the
Brazilian brothers are either in Belo Horizonte or in Porto Alegre.
Paulo was in Belo Horizonte but moved to Joao Pessoa, and since we were
connected on Facebook, he saw that I was coming in Jacare and paid me a

Paulo and his wife Joanna have severe physical limitation (Thalidomide,
Birth defects) but they both display great enthusiasm, great energy and
to meet them is a great lesson in life. Thank you Paulo for being who
you are.

Then, on the last evening, we went to watch the sunset while the Bolero
of Ravel was being played. All four restaurants on the river have their
sound system tuned in to the same source, Jurandy do Sax, who plays his
saxo standing on a canoe being paraded on the river just in front of the
sunset. Great show, great evening, and thanks to the advice of Philippe
from the Jacare-Village marina, great food in the restaurant where we were.

Today, it seems to me that Papy Jovial has broken another record. We
covered over the ground 204 miles, with 173 miles through the water and
31 miles, courtesy of the current. But Papy Jovial has had a previous
life as "Precept" and I would have to check with Tom and Sarah.

If all this continues, wind and current, we expect to get to Cayenne on
Sunday morning, December 5th.