On May 2nd, we began our journey back north; winds never swung to the East – Southeast as we’d come to expect this time of year. They stayed strongly East – Northeast with difficult seas to match. We slogged to weather all the way to Rodney Bay, St Lucia where we stopped for a short overnight before pushing on to Le Marin, Martinique.
The 25 mile run up to Le Marin is usually a moderate wind, close reaching trip. This year it was a very tough, hard on the wind, gut wrenching, basher. The wind angle was so tight I wasn’t sure we’d be able to hold the course heading to the harbor entrance. Thankfully, as we came under the south tip of the island, winds clocked east just enough to allow the necessary course correction. Once anchored, Marin provided the flat water and brisk wind we’ve come to enjoy there.
No matter the situation, we try to take time for good healthy meals. We had plenty of wind and sun to take care of all our energy needs, and while in Martinique we replenished both our larders and our spirits, taking a break from the bashings.
All too soon, we tightened our harnesses, clipped our tethers to the jacklines, and struggled northward. May 9th, on our passage from Martinique to Dominica, we encountered what Joy, at the time, described as our worst sailing weather ever. Hour after hour hammering away hard on the wind often screaming at 35 to 40 knots, and we encountered those conditions with a 15 to 20 knot wind forecast. Even as we ran up the leeward side of Dominica, we still were smashing along in 30 to 35 knot winds. We both finally got sick of it, tucked in close to shore, rolled up the Genoa and motor-sailed the last 2 hours.
Once settled in we found Moosetracks, with Devin and Liz, and Out of Africa with John and Jo, anchored in Portsmouth Harbor also, waiting for decent weather to head south. We had the chance to enjoy a happy hour with both crew on May 11, then on the 12th, we celebrated Devin’s 58th birthday in Ocean Angel’s cockpit, with Devin, Liz, John and Jo aboard for the festivity. The six of us were thrilled to spend good times together.
Little did we know this celebration was the last time we would see either Devin or Jo alive. Later in the year, both fell victim to fatal medical conditions, leaving Liz and John devastated by the loss of their lifelong soul mates. When Joy and I learned of their passing, we were heartbroken for the loss of irreplaceable friends, and for the unimaginable grief Liz and John felt at these losses. Life is short, unpredictable, and as Joy said that evening to the two couples, “You just never know what tomorrow may bring, so live life to the fullest, and love each other unconditionally.”
A couple days later, weather conditions looked manageable, so Joy and I bade farewell to our awesome friends. We rocketed off to the northwest, skirting the west coast of Isles de Saintes, then blasting up to Pigeon Islands on the West coast of Guadeloupe for an overnight. Winds were strong, but our heading placed us well off the wind, and we made fantastic time on the run. Once anchored I launched the dinghy for a quick trip to Leader Price and Carrefour groceries where I stocked up on chocolate, coffee, and fresh produce. We try to limit our provisioning in Antigua to just the essentials as prices are much higher in Jolly Harbor.