Wednesday, January 17th, 2007
The sun rose over the crest of the hill ashore, slowly spilling down into the bay. These early morning rays illuminated the white, blue and green hulls, masts of bright colours, and stripes of the local wooden fishing boats anchored nearby. Dawn broke quietly as brisk trade-wind breezes buffeted and soothed the ship. The overcast of the past couple of days has burned away in the strong hot tropical sun. Now we have brilliant blue skies and sun-shining seas.
The Picton Castle is anchored at Petite Martinique, the northernmost of the islands that make the nation of Grenada. A very short skiff-run away is Petite St. Vincent, which is an entirely different country. My guess is that customs and immigration protocols are somewhat relaxed between these two islands. We have a great gang of keen crew aboard including a group of 14 from Mount Holyoke College. Today onboard the watch on duty under 2nd Mate Lynsey are painting the longboat, scraping the spanker boom to get it ready for a fresh coat of varnish, and tarring the mizzen and main shrouds (along with quite a bit of the decks below them as well). Andrea is fixing the port forward head, Maggie is cleaning out the stove with a couple of helpers, and an inner jib that had gotten a big hole in it is being switched out with good one. Our fine new Grenadian ship’s cook, Donald Church, has the day off, so Nadja is pitching in with cooking. She has a barbeque going off the taff-rail and some lovely cold salads are on the way. Ashore the free watch is exploring the island and, I trust, making new acquaintances. There were reports of a new 36-foot wooden fishing boat being launched this morning right after church, a big sports day for the school children, and talks of a barbeque at the “Standing Wave” Supermarket and Bar this evening. Everyone was invited to join these events.
The Picton Castle now sails along in the lee of the chain of islands in the Caribbean known as the Lesser Antilles; this is the string of islands on a curved line stretching north to south from Trinidad just off the coast of South America up to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Anguilla, St. Barts, St. Kitts, Nevis, Dominica, Martinique, St. Vincent, Bequia, and Grenada forge a barrier to the broad Atlantic Ocean, breaking the seas that have been rolling in from Africa for three thousand miles or so. Sometimes, in a “tropical wave,” we will still get a haze in the sky from windborn dust lifted from the distant Sahara. Makes for those brilliant sunsets hereabouts.
She sails in fresh easterly breezes and small seas, although she still has a motion to her. The sun shines off the seas. We are warm in the buffeting trade winds. The anchorages are excellent. The folks ashore are richly engaging and astonishingly generous with themselves, their islands, and their way of life. We are very fortunate to be here.