Captain’s Log – Passage to Saint Martin

All hands were happy with our visit to Dominica. A very interesting and friendly country. But sail we must.

From Dominica the plan was to sail Picton Castle for Marigot Bay, Saint Martin, about 200 miles away. It would be a good thing to get some actual sailing in after these short hops and delightful West Indian islands. This shoppers’ island is both French and Dutch.

Tammy and Maggie got all our clearing out/in documents sent to Saint Martin for quick processing through the magic of the internet. It was a bright sunny hot day off Roseau with clear skies and light winds. A sea breeze blowing onshore as the heat of the green mountains pulls rising air in from the west. Forecasts were for light winds most of the way. The gang braced up the yards and loosed sail. Julien fired up the throaty Burmeister & Wain Alpha main engine and the anchor got hauled back and catted. We steamed under power the length of the west coast of Dominica to Portsmouth, the town at the north end of the island. Once past the land and with clear ocean east all the way to Africa, we picked up a nice wind and set all sail. Lovely easy sailing between the islands. Long trails of sargasso seaweed everywhere on the sea surface. Saw some dolphins and small whales.

We steered northerly for Les Saintes at 4 and 5 knots. The Saintes is a small cluster of French islands just south of Guadeloupe and something of a favorite spot. But we had to sail by. It would be great to put into every island we see, but times a-wasting and we’ve got to keep on moving – but we are getting in as many islands as we can before heading north for Bermuda and Nova Scotia. We kept our sailing breeze well in to the lee of Guadeloupe, but then around midnight the winds in the lee of this high island gave out, so we sailed slowly until sunrise. We could see high clouds over Monserrat and Antigua. Passed a tanker or two and a couple yachts transiting the area headed up and down the islands.

After passing close under Nevis and St Kitts, getting a good look at Brimstone Hill, once known as the “Gibraltar of the Caribbean” we closed with little Monserrat, and could see and smell smoke from the volcano as well as the massive lava flows.  A population of 11,000 went down to 4,000 with evacuations. We sailed over a small bank, maybe catch a fish – nope. No such luck. Leaving Statia to leeward with light winds enough to sail so we set all sail and steered for Saint Martin.

Getting close to Saint Martin early on Sunday June 16 – light winds under sail, lights of Saint Martin, St Barts and Saba in sight. At 0738 sailing around Point Plum on the west end of French Saint Martin, the Picton Castle crossed our westward outward-bound track from a year ago when we set sail for Panama. The very definition of a global circumnavigation in these words.

The Picton Castle came to anchor 0818 June 16, 2024 at broad Marigot Bay. We had planned on getting into the dock early but we needed to wait for some shipping to sail from the wharf before going alongside. The plan was to host an open ship for the Caribbean Sail Training Association and residents of Saint Martin. The Caribbean Sail Training Association has been so helpful and generous to us and works hard to get island kids on ships like Picton Castle for the good it does them. Light winds.

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