Martinique guest post
24 January 2017 | Martinique
Cruising - A whole different ballgame
When Greg invited me to sail with him in the fall, I jumped at the opportunity. I love sailing. I started out sailing with my parents and aunt and uncle sailing 20’ Lightnings. Played around on a Sunfish a few times. Then around 20 years old, I found my true sailing passion on a 16’ Prindle catamaran my buddy let me borrow for a few weeks to take up to my cottage in Canada. I had never experienced such excitement on a sailboat prior to that. I came home and bought a 16’ HobieCat and have bounced around between 16 and 18 foot catamarans ever since.
I told Greg I was an experienced sailor. Well, to my surprise, I had a lot to learn. Greg has a 40’ Catalina. It’s a beautiful boat. Greg gave Jim and I our orientation and told us no part of the boat is off-limits. Study it and ask questions. So we did. Wow! There’s so much more to sailing a large boat than my little catamaran. To give a comparison, it’s like comparing a motorhome (with sails) to a sports car. There’s an engine, a kitchen (with a stove, refrigerator, and freezer) a dining area, 2 sleeping areas, and 2 bathrooms. There is a dingy that gets towed behind that gives you the flexibility to get off the boat and explore the exotic islands of the Caribbean. It’s a smooth sail and can handle far more more wind than my HobieCat. However, as with any toy, things require maintenance and replacement occasionally. Think of it as a small house that has all sorts of mechanical equipment onboard. And on this trip, Greg showed some of his mechanical expertise pulling apart the non-working 25 hp motor for the dingy and getting it running again.
I really had no idea what I was in for. I thought I’d being sailing around all the islands for a couple weeks, enduring all sorts of weather. I learned the definition of Cruising early on. It’s a mindset. Avoid the bad weather whenever possible, get together with other sailing friends when sharing the same port, and explore and learn about the islands you visit. Exploring the islands is truly an education. If it’s not an english speaking island, you need to learn a few choice phrases to get around. Each island has history, and there’s lots of historical places to visit. There are great beaches, restaurants and shops to be discovered.
I think the best part of Cruising is how relaxing it can be. Any stress that you’ve got inside just seems to melt away. By the time you’re ready to head home, you’re totally mellowed out. Sailing, exploration, discovery, meals, friendship, and great conversation. Preparation, teamwork, coordination, and adaptation. All parts of what Cruising is all about. Jim did a great job describing Cruising, so I need not say any more.
I figured I’d share my experience and the places we visited and discovered together.
1/10/17 Arrived in St. Lucia. Took an hour and a half taxi ride to the Blu Hotel in Rodney Bay (very nice)
1/11/17 Joined up with Greg, Gwen and Jim for dinner. They sailed from Martinique (about a 4 hour trip) to drop Gwen off and pick me up.
1/13/17 Set sail for Martinique. Jim caught a MahiMahi along the way which he filleted, prepared and grilled for us upon arrival in St. Anne, Martinique. Delicious!
1/14/17 Went to shore and hiked about three miles to Salinas Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches along the south shore of Martinique.
1/16/17 Visited Club Med Martinique. I had heard some wild stories about it 30 years ago. It was a nice resort (with a lot of French speaking guests). Unfortunately, nothing out of the ordinary to report.
1/17/17 Sailed northwest from St. Anne to the quaint little town of Les Anse D’Arlet. We took the dingy out and had a great time snorkeling.
1/18/17 We hiked to Grand Anse D’Arlet and back. Then we sailed northwest again (in over 30 knot winds) to Anse Mitan which is across the bay from Fort-de France, Martinique. I got to sail on Lew’s 42’ catamaran. That was Fun! And Lew, what a cool guy! He’s one of Greg’s sailing buddies. He Cruises all winter too!
1/19/17 Jim took off in the morning for his flight to Antigua. Great guy! Great stories. He and his wife travel the world to all kinds of exotic place (and relatively inexpensively).
1/20/17 We sailed across the bay and anchored near Fort de-France. Now here I have a couple of stories that I’m happy to share. As most of you probably know, the French women are not shy about removing their tops when sunbathing. However, there were some young topless ladies fishing from there sailboat anchored near us. This was somewhat of a novelty for me since I had never seen that before. There was another boat nearby captained and crewed by a couple young ladies. The captain scaled the mast (pulling herself up in a diaper/bosman’s chair) to untangle some of the lines prior to departure. I have to admit, I was quite impressed with both boats.
1/21/17 Wonderful sail to St. Pierre. Great wind and plenty of sunshine along the way. Lots of history here. It was known as the Paris of the Caribbean until a volcano erupted on May 8, 1902 killing over 30,000 people in just minutes. There are all sorts of ruins to see.
1/22/17 We hiked to a statue of the Virgin Mary, set high on a bluff and visible from the harbor below. However, the highlight of St. Pierre was our hike to the Rum distillery, DePaz where we sampled the rum and had the most delicious dinner. Fortunately the hike back was all downhill. The sunset from the boat was absolutely spectacular.
1/23/17 We set sail for Three Islands which is across the bay from Fort de-France (and close to Anse Mitan). Prior to our departure, we watched local fishermen lay out a net in a circle right behind our boat. We watched them pull in a fair amount of small fish. There was sunshine and we had decent wind for most of sail back. Once we neared the bay leading to Fort de-France we encountered showers and all kinds of small catamarans (like mine) buzzing around us like mosquitos. It was quite a sight.
Greg has been a great host and captain. I have so much enjoyed this trip and the friendships I’ve made. I’ve learned so much and feel so rested and relaxed. All three of these men have inspired me. Life is short and they are living it to the fullest. Thanks for the memory guys. It’s been a pleasure.