Oh happy day! With the part finally installed, we were free to go. We left St Lucia just as soon as Dave checked us out of the marina and the country. It was later than we hoped, but we passed through the anchorage just before 10:00 AM. We said good bye to Mowzer on the VHF and waved good bye to Blue Moon as we passed by, a bittersweet moment.
We raised the sail at the mouth of the bay and set sail for St Martin. The wind cooperated and we were on a direct course. How awesome is that? With 15-20 knots of wind, it didn’t take long for St Lucia to recede into the background. We put out the fishing line and settled in for the long haul. We figured on up to 3 days and two nights of sailing.
We had boobies following us for the first 6 hours of the sail. Our boat scared out the flying fish and the boobies swooped in to reap the harvest. They missed a lot. Those little fish are fast! Too fast for me to photograph. But the boobies caught a lot, too.
Eventually terns joined the boobies and there were 2-3 dozen birds fishing all around us. We know what that means: It’s only a matter of time before the bigger fish come, too. I tried not to stare at the line to will a fish to bite, but we were very hopeful. Not only that but we were really moving! Dave saw us hit a boat speed of 11.7 knots! That is just unheard of. We probably averaged 9 knots for a good 4 hours. Faster boat speed attracts faster fish to the lure like tuna and wahoo.
Sure enough, before long we had a fish on the line. As I reeled it in, I knew it wasn’t too big, but I hoped it was big enough to keep. Dave saw it jump and said it was a dorado. Awesome! I brought it up to the boat and Dave hauled into the dinghy. It wasn’t big, only about 36″, but definitely a keeper. The picture didn’t capture all its beautiful coloring. Shortly after leaving the water, the colors begin to fade and they turn more silver. It was bright blue on top, bright yellow in the middle, and white underneath.
We put the line back out and less than an hour later, we had another fish on the line. This one was a fighter. It felt completely different to reel in. If I could reel fast and keep it at the surface, the fish couldn’t fight. But as soon as I slowed, the fish would immediately take off in another direction. I got the fish to the side of the boat and again Dave was able to just pull it in by the line. Not big enough to gaff, but still big enough to eat. We are on a roll!
We hear you can fish at night, but we left our line out all night and didn’t get a single bite. Maybe we need to change the lure for nighttime? It was a new moon and, therefore, a very dark night with no horizon to focus on. Dave didn’t feel very well, so I tried to take long shifts. I put on earphones and grooved to my tunes. The wee hours were the hardest and I had to get some sleep. Dave took short watches, but I knew he was miserable. It was a blessing when the sun rose in the morning.
We tried fishing all day long, but it was a horrible fishing day. Sargasso weed was everywhere in great rafts. The hook would snag on it and I’d have to reel it in to clean it off. Sometimes it fell off half way to the boat and I could just let it back out. All day… in and out… So today we sang The Sargasso Weed Blues:
Yesterday we were rich
Rich ‘cuz we caught fish
Tuna and dorado
Mahi mahi and ahi
On our table
But now we are singing the Sargasso Weed Blues
Everytime I drop the hook
And take a look
The pole is bobbing again
No sooner is it in
Than I have to reel it in
And remove the Sargasso weed
Now who is that gonna feed?
We are singing the Sargasso Weed Blues
We were making good time. The wind kept up 13-27 knots, except in the island shadows when we would have to motor for a little bit. So as day 2 ended, we decided to stop at St Kitts for the night. We anchored in the dark and were settled by 10:00 PM. It was good to get some solid sleep before leaving again at first light.
It was a good stop, because the Sargasso weed seemed to have blown through. We put the fishing line back out and had a fish on in the first few hours. It was Dave’s turn to reel it in.
It was another nice dorado. He got it to the side of the boat and I pulled it into the dinghy by the line. It was also only about 36″, but that is good eating.
Dave covered its eyes with a damp towel – this calms it down and it stops flopping around. Then he sprayed the Strong Rum into its gills. This kills the fish really quickly so it doesn’t suffer. And it is ready to filet.
We didn’t cook the fish underway, though. I had premade some meals that we just needed to reheat like pulled chicken sandwiches. This time we had chicken and dumplings, one of our favorite meals while sailing. It is filling but not too heavy. Yum! Thanks for the recipe, mom. After eating, I took over the helm and heard a slight click. I looked back to see the pole bending. Fish on again, but it wasn’t running away with the line. I figured it would be something really small. Therefore, I was surprised by the fight it put up. It all made sense when I pulled in a small tuna, too small to keep. We set this little guy free for a second chance at life.
By 1:00 PM, I could see the outline of St Martin in the distance. By 3:30 PM, we reached the south end. I believe this was taken after we passed Phillipsburgh, which is where the cruiseships come into St Maarten (the Dutch side). I thought the countryside was beautiful and noticed that the clouds stayed around the peaks. It was a relief to be near the island. We weren’t having any mechanical problems (other than the watermaker AGAIN), but we were still taking on water in the starboard bilge. Something is leaking and the bilge pump is not working automatically, so Dave and I had to manually pump out the bilge every 1-2 hours the entire way.
We arrived at Marigot Bay anchorage before sundown and dropped anchor. The anchorage was calm and Marina Fort Louis was right in front of us, where we will stay for the next month.
We didn’t realize it, but we caught another fish, too. A flying fish found its way onboard. Poor little guy. If I had known, I would have tossed him back in. Well, I tossed him back in anyway, but now he’s only good for crab food.
The next day we moved into the marina. Our friends on Slow Dancing were just behind us. Another friend, Bill Geiger, was on the island after delivering a sailboat from Solomons Island, Maryland, to St Maarten. We actually met him through our blog. We arranged to meet him in person before he had to fly back home.
It was a nice evening of wine, appetizers, and story swapping with Bill, Dan, and Melissa (SlowDancing). It is too bad Bill’s wife, Barbara, was not here as well. They need to come visit us in Grenada, as they are considering going cruising and Grenada is the apex of the cruising season! Dave’s parents arrive soon, so the chore is to get the boat ready. We are really looking forward to their visit and spending Christmas with family!