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February 17, 2012 / Nautical Mom

Martinique to St. Lucia feb 13-15

What a perfect passage today. We were traveling from st Anne right outside Marin in Martinique to Rodney Bay st. Lucia. It was 22 nautical miles as the crow flies with only one slit outcropping of rocks to circumvent. Today the breeze was 15 knots max with 5-8 foot rollers ever 6 seconds. The wind blew steady from about 90 degrees and we were headed 195, so it was slightly aft of our beam. Totally amazingly perfect! The kind of sail I’d been longing for after much motor sailing or beating into the wind.

Everyone seemed to enjoy it. From the moment we left our anchor until we entered the bay here. Gigi helped raise the main and shake out the reef and then we set a course and held it steady the whole way. This was much different from our passage last week from st Pierre to st Anne. Although that was a coastal run within Martinique the wind was pretty much on our nose. Then it was also unpredictably gusty because of the mountains, so one minute it was 5 knots and the next minute it was 30.

So today, when we were between the two islands in the st Lucia passage we were in water 1000 feet deep with no land for hundreds of miles on either side. Mexico to the west and Africa to the east. This helped smooth out the waves a lot. Then as we approached the shore, the bottom would shelf rapidly. We went from 200 feet to 20 feet within a quarter mile. It was visibly different in the color f the sea: changing from bright turquoise to deep blue and back again with visible delineation.

We are happily anchored in Rodney Bay, but are very preoccupied about customs. The British islands are very strict about animals. In some islands, they have mandatory 6 month quarantine. Here there are some very stringent requiremts that we can’t possibly meet. For example, Brooke must have 6 months since her rabies test, which can’t be done before 3 months of age. Well, since she’s not yet 7 months, none of this is really feasible. We are at th e mercy of the local officials.

I hope we’re allowed to stay because tonight we met a Danish family with a daughter exactly Gigi’s age and a son Jason’s. While their kids are still struggling with English, the parents are fluent and seem like interesting people. The mom is a teacher and the dad works with mentally Ill children. They are a nice compliment to Raftan, the other kid boat we’ve been traveling with for th e past month. Raftan are French Canadians with 2 boys aged 8 and 9 who speak French but are quite conversant in English. The dad is an engineer with plenty of machismo and the mom teaches psychotherapy at Canadian university.

After a month in French-speaking countries we all agree that we are still thinking in French. For example, passing someone n the street, I’m more likely to say Bon jour than hello at this point. The kids concur, and even though it’ll be English from now on, they want to continue with th sir French studies. We’ll see how that goes. Soon it’ll be time to introduce spanish.

Feb 14 valentine’s day – today I woke up to Gregory the boat peddler hawking his fruits and wares off the stern with EJ haggling for pricing. As my v-day gift, he bought me 6 papayas a coconut and a grapefruit. Although it sounds unromantic, it’s much more appreciated than chocolate.

In the afternoon (after some school) we went to the beach with the other families. The waves we’re thunderous. unlike waves at home that roll up onto the shore, these met with a counter current driving seaward that caused them to peak vertically into 12 foot translucent turquoise alps than slam with intense immediacy downward into the shore. At first we were too terrified to go in, but another oddity about these waves was that they appeared only on 1/4 of the beach.

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