Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Martinique hmm not bad!

17th –26th Feb 2012 

Departed St Lucia last Sunday after a couple of nights at anchor outside in the bay there were so many yachts at anchor, there is a Sandals resort on the beach which wasn't too far away. 

The crossing to Martinique was quite good apart from the swell, it took about 4 hours. Entering the mouth of the bay  could be a little tricky as there are reefs everywhere so thankfully the pilot books and the electronic charts kept us out of trouble mind you it is quite well marked. 

Well what a different place, in fact as you approach Martinique you can see its very lush with plants and trees, the colour of the water is lovely, so our first impression was good. So we wound our way through boats and markers we dropped the anchor in what we thought would be the best protected spot not too far away from the mangroves. The whole place seems to be full of boats, hundreds, some huge catamarans down to tiny monohulls with people living on them.  After being at anchor for a couple of days the wind increased and having made wet trips with the dinghy into Le Marin Marina we decided to take the boat into the marina for a couple of days. 
Looking for lunch 
Martinique is French and uses the Euro, both of us do try our best at times and so far we haven't come unstuck, most of the marina staff speak English and the customs and immigration checkin was easy, you just do it yourself on the computer, click print, hand over 5 Euros and the paper that’s it! Eaten out a few times nothing special yet and a surprising lack of fresh fish, we have seen snails on the menus and frozen prawns that had come from Indonesia. Prices are more expensive for everything I think, I won't even go into the internet rip off. 

So far from what we have seen the people seem much more affluent, the roads are better and we haven't been asked for money unlike St Lucia. I guess by the amount of puddles and mud in some places they always have enough rain.
The marina is huge, 750 berths I think, the office is at the other end from us so its a long walk from the boat but at least its quiet at night, although the kids on wobbly skateboards are beginning to drive us nuts on the wooden pontoon. 

One of our trips into the marina was lets say choppy, the waves and the wind touching 20 knots decided they would half drown us so it ended up  an expensive trip to buy dry clothes and a pair of flip flops. After lunch and few hours checking out the place we collected the dinghy so we could go to the dinghy dock close to Carrefour, well we didn't make it that far, someone had not checked the amount of fuel had he, and then the engine decided she wasn't going any further. Picture this, there we were, no where near the shore or the boat, traffic going in and out was heavy and the sea was lumpy. Don said he would have to row, oh heck it was a dreadful thought, as Don started to take out the oars thankfully another dinghy came by with 2 very kind french guys took our lines and started to tow us back to the boat, well now first boat with 2 hefty elderly guys one driving and steering, the other holding our lines by hand tied to us. Their dinghy stacked with cases of wine and bags of food from Carrefour, their engine was only a 4 HP going at full speed so he could plough through the increasing wind and sea. Then trying to explain by hand signals as neither of us speak French no its not that boat its way over there, I half expected their engine to run out of fuel too. There's me in a new dress, (Don said you will be fine we wont get wet on the way back) oh and never mind the torrential rain that decided at that moment to saturate all of us great!
My dress after the soaking in salt water, oh did the colour run.

Wednesday 20th Feb: Walked about a mile to a bus stop and waited for the bus to Saint Anne, its on the south side of the approach to Le Marin, in fact we passed it on the way. On the bus we passed fields which have huge cows some with calves all very pale skinned which are not at all like ones in the UK.

St Annes church inside a little plain compared to most

We were anchored just outside this pretty lagoon, I think the hotel nearby made this.
The dinghy dock in Point du Bout a little way from where we anchored.
The anchorage looks very wide  and very pretty, real picture postcard stuff. There is a small market everyday that sell spices, rum, fresh fruit and vegetables and gifts. 
Chocolate smells so good

So many to choose from the smells were fantastic

So we moved on to Saint Anne and had a couple of nights at anchor just went ashore twice to look around and bought some of that fresh vanilla peppercorns and choc but have to figure out how to use it now. 

Friday Moved on to Fort de France and although the bay is huge there are lots of reefs and ferries tearing about at silly speeds  finding a sheltered place with enough space to swing can be difficult but tucked ourselves in a corner away from the swell. We caught the fast ferry to Fort de France main anchorage close to the fort which is a naval base.
Don on the ferry wondering how to take the ferry out, this tiny marina is packed
While ashore we met an smashing American couple who were on the boat next to us, they very kindly asked us onboard for sundowners and nibbles. While we sat there watching the sun go down no sooner than I asked Ruth if they had seen the "green flash" (very famous google it) she said they had seen 3 and all recently the sun appeared to have a green tinge and looked surrounded by green, I thought it must be my glasses but I wasn't wearing them. I can hear you all saying it must have been the cocktails, NO it wasn't the drink I had hardly touched mine by then and Ruth saw it too! So I thought that ones for the blog! Pity I didn't have the camera with me

Fort De France anchorage in front of the fort where we are anchored

Don and Mr Grumpy, he stole Dons hat!

Not sure if Don is saying "look into my eyes" or the big guy
Didn't really suit me but it did cover my ears and matched my bra colour

Well what do you think did he buy them?

Went to a mexican place for fajitas and loved the sign.

Come on do you get your fruit and veg delivered like this, the bananas were the best I have ever tasted.

How this thing stays upright and in 20 knots of wind is amazing. However someone said he rolled over in the marina and fruit was floating everywhere
Tuesday:  Moved into the anchorage inside Fort de France and went shopping by dinghy twice to re provision and pop into McDonalds so we could use the internet and of course a mac flurry, nice sitting under the air conditioning but by the time I came out I was frozen and it was way up in the high 30's outside. 

Next an overnighter to Dominica so  I guess we won't be updating the blog or be in touch with anyone for a few days so don't worry.

Back soon
Agua Therapy

Just loving the life!
Don and Glenys

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Progress in St Lucia

We have been here just over a week now recuperating from the crossing and catching up with all those chores that can't be done at sea. Washing for a start, 4 loads in the laundry 200 EC dollars plus all the other stuff I washed myself like cushion covers for the cockpit, bedding for the forward cabin, tea towels, towels and normal everyday clothes mind you the constant warm winds  here do dry things very quickly.

Rodney Bay marina
Nice properties with their own moorings, very nice! 
The sides of the hull are shiny now and the stainless is almost clean, the fridge has been defrosted and cleaned. The cooker was removed, cleaned and behind and the sides of the cooker were scrubbed which took away the eggs that escaped on the passage. Thanks Don xx

Don loves a Sunday lunch, It was very good
Sunday 10th Feb: We had our lunch out, couldn't believe the sign which said traditional sunday lunch 39 EC dollars, roughly £8.50  it was quite good, roast potatoes, mixed veg, 2 huge yorkshire puds and gravy, I only ever manage 1 and part of that I gave to Don.

In fact most of our meals out have been very good, the steakhouse did 2 lovely steaks which were big and juicy, in fact there was no room for anything else. That was Friday night the plan was to go to the "Friday night jump" after dinner was aborted due to the downpour of rain, maybe the rum punch was responsible  for me falling asleep at the table so we called a taxi and returned to the boat.
Rum punch, full of vitamins, its fruit juice really!
Well we took the dinghy out together for her maiden voyage. I was only wet when Don was at the helm, I stayed dry when I was in charge. Went for a spin to the mall which is through the area where people stay at anchor or on bouys. Then out of the marina into the anchorage which is huge then past one of the Sandals resorts which doesn't look that exclusive mind you we didn't try to go in.
A very enterprising guy, Fruit and veg delivered by boat, I think some of it falls overboard as the boat rocks and rolls.
Exploring St Lucia: The place is much more commercial than we thought, the supermarkets are very American and British you can buy just about anything, at a price! I wish I had taken the camera, yesterday I even saw a christmas pudding.
So far on the bus we travelled to Castries the capital, passing Sandals in the south then caught a bus our to Soufriere. Our friends had sent an e-mail saying they had sailed there and as we heard it was nice to see so on the bus we went. BIG MISTAKE!
This sign on the wall was taken at the bus stop
Oh we do wish someone had warned us NOT to travel by bus, when we asked a bus driver he said the journey would take just over 30 - 35 minutes. He was not the driver to Soufriere. Ok we board the 15 seater minibus, we had to sit at the back and they only leave when they are full so after roughly 45 minutes we were on our way. Heading out of town the road started to wind up very steep hills at breakneck speed then down the other side round hairpin bends, swerving from side to side trying to miss holes in the road, to be fair he did miss most but the springs at the back must have failed at some time because we felt every bump. Travelling by bus both there and back which was in the dark was one of the most scary journeys EVER, even Don thought our time had come when the driver while on his mobile overtook a truck on a bend. The roads are narrow and lots of hairpin bends through the mountains with huge ditches on one side and no barriers on the other at all there is is a drop.
The journey took 65 minutes each way, never again we asked someone is there a ferry to Castries, nope busses or taxis, a taxi costs 250 US $ one way.
Ok Soufriere is on the West coast, stunning views but I think it must be much better from the sea, there is a "cathedral" and there was a funeral going on at the time so we didn't go in.  No picture I didn't think it was fitting.
This was taken from the restaurante looking at part of the anchorage                   
Looks pretty from here, the town is very different

We saw a concrete slab in which on it was written Queen Elizabeth stood on this spot in 1966 I expect she didn't go by bus! it was the first time she had set foot in the Caribbean.
Local police station, the police have very colourful ties but didn't ask to take their picture I didn't fancy being arrested. 
The local post office
If you google Soufriere check out its history, way too much info for me to write.

The Pitons, Dramatic! to think we drove through mountains almost like that
We ate in a seafront place, Don ate "yard bird" with vegetables, the waitress said it was local chicken,  it took a little while to come and I did wonder if they had removed one of the legs from the chickens walking in the gutters in the street, so if you go there and find a chicken on crutches thats maybe the one Don had. I stuck to chicken roti, very nice.

Why did the chicken cross the road? easy to stay out of the pot
Its Wednesday now, here much later than we intended to stay but we are cruisers now and are not in a hurry yet. So today the boat will be prepared for sea again, trying to avoid things from rattling and then hopefully the next blog will be from Martinique, a short sail between the islands, we plan to be at anchor so there maybe no internet for a little while. I tried to buy a dongle but the guy in the pc shop had never heard of them.

Agua Therapy
Don and Glenys

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Additions about the crossing and St Lucia

During the crossing the blog was just updated with short notes which were done via the sat phone. Our friend John had talked us into hard wiring the phone and installing a fixed antenna so the previous attempts of me standing on the stairs with the phone attached to the pc and holding on at the same time while trying to obtain a signal were a much better way of sending notes to the blog were easier. The weather grib files were sent for the same way too but still sitting at the desk trying to type and still holing on tight was a challenge at times.

Ok the crossing, we ate well normally something which I had cooked previously then frozen  and vacuum packed or meals when I could stop things from flying across the cabin, either the food which could be very messy at times or the bowls which we used, flat plates don't work too well either. Oh I do wish I had bought those big dog bowls I spoke about before but couldn't find.

Anyway I did use the pressure cooked and cooked a ham hock one day and it was a short time after throwing away the bone we were joined by the Orca whales and babies, it was a little unnerving having such huge beasts so close to the boat, we weren't sure just how many there were and it wasn't until they rolled on the side and we saw the white underbelly while they studied us that we recognised what they were. I was so glad none of us were hanging our legs over the side or else the whales may have had a much larger snack. Karen did see a few minutes later a shark and we do hope the whales and babies were way out of reach then. Sorry no pics way too much excitement to go for the camera.
Not so much for dinner but it was nice

Ern fighting with one of the fish, not that they caught many

Just 2 pairs out of 4 sailing boots, they do take up a lot of room

Don with an instruction book! I will keep this forever , men don't read instruction books do they girls?

See our nets with veggies and oranges for Don, I thought we may have made the net into a hammock but thought better of it afterwards

Don having a much needed shave, that was as close as he was allowed to come until the bristles went 

I could have scrubbed the decks with his beard

Vera our vane taking care of the self steering, she was only thrown off twice when she was hit with big waves, she saves us using the electronic autopilot which uses a lot of power

As you know many yachts are crossing the Atlantic as its suposed to be the best time to cross and you expect to come in contact or even see other boats, well one night Don did see another yacht behind us and only because what he thought was a star which seemed so be moving or getting closer did he re check the radar. The radar showed nothing but I looked at with Don at the yacht with sails flapping not too far behind us, it was showing the anchor light which is not normal at all. We called on the radio and were answered after a while by some poor guy who said that the navigation lights had failed 2 days out and the anchor light was his only option. He added that he had just had 3 days of 50 knot winds which must have been nasty, he turned soon after the chat he was bound for Barbados.

I did mention sleeping on the position updates, how Don managed on our bed I will never understand but remember he was in the navy and when Dons head hits the pillow he's out like a light. Karen also managed to sleep on the bed in the forward cabin which is very noisy and bouncy or in the cockpit normally strapped on with a strap around something. Ern well all over the place and me, either the floor in between the engine and nav station which was fine until Don came on watch which meant him either stepping on me or the cushions I was wedged in with. The other disturbance of the hourly check on the plotter and radar together with the time difference plays havoc with your body clock so thats the reason its now 03:47 local and I'm now writing this blog.

Since being here there are a few folks on boats we know that we met in Cartagena or met along the way, when you chat to most they seem to know others we know too its a lovely friendly community. We are still doing some maintenance on the boat and trying to organise the chores like the washing and do intend to look around the island soon after all thats why we came here.

I bought a sim card which we have a reasonably priced plan to call europe land lines however it doesn't work for all the islands here. Rodney bay marina has free internet so I have managed to use skype a couple of times pretty good.

Since we have been here we have eaten out and had some pretty good meals not to mention the rum cocktails and found the happy hour which in one bar lasts for 2 hours can be pretty good. I'm sure the fruit juice in those didn't agree with me or it may have been something else that made me miss the step and put me on my backside in fits of giggles. Don had a few problems that night too but I wont go any further, he says he was just over tired and didn't seem to remember much the following day.

Ok its now Thursday 7th and Ern and Karen departed for a hotel then onto Trinidad on Monday so they should see the carnival which was in our plan but maybe next year now.

My treat the other day, there is a day spa so I had a lovely facial, massage and a pedicure, wonderful! so if you come to Rodney bay the place is run by Tracy an English lady who trains local people here to a very high standard.

Yesterday Don took the dinghy out of the bag and its now inflated ready to use to go to the local shopping mall, we need to replace the kettle which decided to leak during the crossing and buy some fresh goodies, I do hope the eggs will manage the trip back ok.

Plans next, well still bits to be fit and have the hull polished, check out more here,  maybe go to anchor and swim. The original plan was to go south to Bequia but after talking to others and hearing about security we have been put off, in future we will probably be at anchor and be using the dinghy to go ashore. Then onwards to Martinique which isn't too far away, as we don't speak any French we have no idea how we will cope, we hear its very nice.

Thanks for all the congratulation e-mails.
Next time more news from St Lucia

Agua Therapy
Don and Glenys

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Safe in St Lucia

We made it! safe and sound in Rodney bay marina St Lucia.
16 days exactly from Mindelo Cape Verde. The sea state wasn't really very nice to us it was quite confused at times and was slapping us to boot.

We hardly saw any other boats all the way it was only the last 20 miles or so we watched others coming from Martinique.

I will be posting some photo's later but for now we are going to catch up with some rest, have fun, catch up with some friends with our group and even sample the rum.

Agua Therapy