Position 15° 52.304’ N
61° 35.116’ W
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We cruised north from Grenada and travelled directly to St. Lucia our destination being Marigot Bay famous for where Admiral Rodney used palm fronds lashed to his fleets masts to disguise them and
|Approaching St. Lucia the |
Pitons are conspicuous
|Our first night in Marigot Bay|
Martinique is the first of the French West Indies Islands we have visited with ‘Partners’. We have visited St. Bart’s while on a Caribbean cruise some years ago. This year it is our plan to spend most of the winter cruising the French islands, Martinique, Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe, St. Bart’s and Saint Martin. Martinique is a department of France and therefore benefits from many of the things one would be familiar with in Europe, good roads, plentiful consumer goods, well stocked supermarkets and, oh, the wonderful food, wine and coffee! Thankfully a large part of the population speaks English! Lavinia does speak some French which helps; unfortunately I either didn’t pay enough attention in school or am suffering from a bad memory because I don’t. There are a lot of Frenchmen sailing the Caribbean and it seems that most of them are here! The French like the French and as unfamiliar as things generally appear foreign to us they are obviously familiar to the French. The very well stocked chandleries are full of French and German products, the grocery stores only have French items. We have not seen any familiar US or British products, none! In most of the other islands there is a mixture of British, American and European items...our conclusion is that the French do make a point of being French and do not show much tendency towards integration! Le Marin is the centre of yachting here in Martinique. If you need anything it can be found here. Any and all services are available and there is a wide choice of each. One thing which is very apparent is that the businesses here unlike Trinidad, for example, understand instant gratification; the shelves are full, no ordering here. If your heart desires it, the chances are you can get what you want in Le Marin. We had some trouble with our generator, which wouldn’t start! The local Westerbeke dealer came promptly to us in the Le Marin marina where we were able to get a berth at short notice. The diagnosis a 20 amp fuse! While we were marine bound we met three young sailors from ‘Tyke’ an ocean racer cruising sailing boat moored in front of us. They kindly invited us on board to see her and to enjoy sundowners with them. As I have said before this life is not just about freedom and travel but about all the interesting people one meets. The two men were Italian and were the crew, they had a guest crew member who had joined them for the sail north from St. Lucia to here. She was half Italian and half American, spoke perfect English, Italian and French and was pretty! Lucky guys! We left the marina and made the short trip to Sainte Anne.
Nearby, just along the coast to the South is the small town of Saint Anne’s, a beautiful little enclave mostly unspoiled by tourism and a ‘Mecca’ for us boaters. The azure blue waters and calm anchorage beckon; the narrow streets with their friendly vendors all encourage a visit and exploration. This could be one of those places which is hard to leave...
The priorities, a boulangerie, the vegetable market, a liquor store and beautiful beach are all here. Our first trip ashore was to the beach where we found clear water and fine white sand. It is protected from the wind which allows calm water with no waves, wonderful. Along the half mile long beach are restaurants and bars, not too many just enough for a choice and easy accessibility, we floated in the perfect temperature water for an hour it was pure heaven. The saline content of the water is high and one can float very easily. Now remember that we are in early February, mid-winter for the northern hemisphere, and here we are basking in 84°F sunshine and swimming in 80° water. Our anchorage is in 17’ of clear water where we can see the mostly sandy bottom. Reefs, plus the headland of Saline, gives protection from the prevailing seas and wind, so it is calm. We woke up the next morning to new arrivals ‘Receta’ with Steve and Ann aboard also Terry and Evelyn from ‘Aquarelle’, who we had met in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, both had anchored in the bay. Our great friends Bill & Ann on board ‘Ann Louise’ had arrived back in Trinidad on the 3rd February after a visit to their home in Georgia for Christmas and New Year and were going to make an attempt, weather permitting, to ‘jump’ the 200+ miles from Chaguaramas, Trinidad to Sainte Anne’s and join us. We were really pulling for them and for the weather to stay travelable so they could get to Martinique, they made it! After the welcoming Bloody Mary’s and breakfast on board ‘Partners’ plans were made for some serious nonstop socializing. With the eight of us here, there is only one word to describe the ensuing days…fun! For the next few days we had some great gatherings. On Monday the 10th it was time for us to leave, we were sad to say our goodbyes especially to ‘Ann Louise’ as they were going south again back to St. Lucia. Due to the sale of their home they would be leaving from St. Lucia in March to return to the US for the closing. All this meant was that sadly we would be losing our travelling buddies for several months. Our plans will take us to Puerto Rico by mid-April so we can return to Florida and meet our children and grandchildren for Easter. Our goodbye to Bill and Ann included a promise to meet up again ‘somewhere’ south for hurricane season. ‘Receta’ would travel the same route as us stopping at Portsmouth on the island of Dominica and then on to Iles des Saintes and Guadeloupe so we were looking forward to their company.
|Not always great weather in the Caribbean|
|'Receta' in Portsmouth, Dominica|
|Approaching Iles des Saintes|
|Cruise ship 'Wind Surf'|
Les Saintes are a small cluster of islands that comprise two that are inhabited and several that are not, the whole land mass only covers 4.9 square miles so they are small. The population is about 3,000, 1,900 who live on Terre-de-Haut and the balance on Terre-de-Basse. Scooters and tiny electric cars are the transport of choice, one walks in the road and the vehicular traffic simply winds its way past and between the pedestrians. The pace of life is slow but oh how civilized. The shops all close for 2½ hours at lunch time reopen at 3 then close again around 6. The French locals like a leisurely lunch and really make the time for it. One immediately realizes that there is more to life than the daily rat race. We naturally, after only one day slipped into these ways. The first day I said to HT “let’s get a sandwich for lunch”, well sandwich shops which abound in the States don’t here, each small restaurant, and there are many, post their menu de jour on a blackboard, in beautiful hand writing, which lists the choices of the three courses available for lunch and we quickly realized a sandwich for lunch is not the 'done' thing! Dinner in the evening is another lengthy affair. An early dinner would be at 7 o’clock finishing 3 -4 hours later. The most popular time to sit down is 8.
The day after we had arrived ‘Receta’ and George and Jan on ‘Wild Cat’ sailed in. We had not met George and Jan, friends of Steve and Ann on ‘Receta’ so a cocktail evening onboard ‘Receta’ set that to rights. Great hors d'oeuvres were served courtesy of Ann, foodie extraordinaire. We meet such nice people as we cruise, we really do. On Valentine’s Day the 6 of us made a reservation at Les Petits Saintes restaurant, one of the finest in the French West Indies. We finish our outstanding, superb, wonderful etc., etc., meal at 11:30. It ended with Xavier Simon, the chef, coming to talk to
We were due to say our goodbyes to Les Saintes today but an undesirable weather report is going to keep us here for another week, oh yes! Sooo, what does this mean? Yep, more buttery croissants, delicious pastries, real bread and baguettes, tasty coffee and oh, that wonderful food. The scenery and water are pretty good too!
The anchorage at Terre-de-Haut can be a little uncomfortable at night as the wind drops and allows ones boat to sit in the small wave troughs, not bad enough to cause a loss of sleeps, however, but still a bit of a nuisance when moving around the boat, also the most uncomfortable rolling is when, with total disregard for the cruising boats in the bay, the high speed ferries speed by to the ferry dock. These boats travel at close to 30 knots and you can imagine the wake that they create, yes, glass breaking rolls ensue...thank heaven we can hear them coming and can prepare and thank goodness they don’t run at night! Iles des Saintes will definitely go down as a special place and one of our favourite destinations.
To close this entry I must pass a compliment to the French islands we have visited so far. They really have gone out of their way to accommodate the cruiser by building sturdy welcoming dinghy docks everywhere, they also provide accessible convenient garbage disposal and are the first islands we have visited that recycle, with containers for disposal on almost every street corner, bravo!
Life is good...
|Lavinia at the windward shore, Pigeon Island|
|We saw this Windjammer while at Marigot|
|When one sees the palm trees one |
can just imagine Admiral Rodney
inside with this fleet
|The fort at Pigeon Island, St. Lucia|
|Partners in Rodney Bay|
|Oh, the water!|
|Jet ski racing at St. Anne's Martinique|
|YT relaxing on the aft deck with a cohiba|