and west coast of Guadeloupe
Persephone pulled into St Piere an hour or so after us and stated the weather was great for Montserrat if we hurry our trip to get there within the next 6 days. Flat seas and gentle winds are needed as there is not much of a harbor. After a planning meeting we decided to take off right away in the morning and head north. The plan is to overnight in Dominica, without going to shore, so we avoid clearing in. That way day two is a short trip (20 miles) to Le Saintes. We set the alarm for 3:30 am and motored for the first hour and once clearing the end of the island we had wind to sail all the way to Roseau, about half way up Dominica. Good speed got us there by 2 and our arrival was met by a swarm of boat boys looking for a chance to make a buck. We selected one to go purchase the fresh produce we could not get in the last port on Sunday.
We have had so much rain in the last 10 days we have collected all the water we need since filling up last at the dock in St Lucia. Normally we use about 10 gallons a day and the rain has our tanks full again. I love it.
Up early and off again! David has named the flotilla of two 'Country Club' as we are in a different country almost every day! Here in Le Saintes we will get some wonderful french bread and a few croissants. Clearing customs here is very easy as it is with all french islands. The new mooring balls here make it even better as it is too deep to anchor and usually very crowded. Only one night here and one overnight at a small island of Guadeloupe and if weather holds, Montserat!
We have decided to spend Christmas in St John with several other boats that we know. On Christmas Eve there will be a dingy raft up. Everyone brings an appetizer to pass and we have picked up Champagne in Martinique for the occasion!
A Wonderful French Island
On Nov 29th we arrived in Le Marin, on the southern tip of Martinique. This is one of the major Yacht Harbors in the Caribbean and you can buy anything you need for your boat hear and get any services as well. This very protected and large anchorage has hundreds of boats at any given time. Not my favorite anchorage but my favorite provisioning center. I love shopping in the french islands! Cheeses and wines and delicious breads, also everything is so affordable. There is one supermarket with it's own dingy dock with a cart return. We loaded up with goodies and moved a few days later after a night of heavy rains with enough lightning to look like the grand finale at any fireworks show. The entire harbor was now a mud bath. St Anne, just outside Le Marin, is a lovely anchorage and a charming town. Like many French towns there is a church at the end of the municipal pier. Behind this church is a path zig zagging up a steep hill with the stations of the cross and a chapel at the very top.
It is officially the Christmas season now that December is here and Persephone puts up some Christmas lights. I must remind them that mine were up first, of course! We are enjoying our time we are spending with Persephone and Impressionist, everyone has a good sense of humor and we needle each other incessantly.
After another few days it was time for Sailacious to move and we are now on the west side of the island in Grand Anse D'Arlet. Another picture perfect setting with clear water and long sandy beaches. One of the reasons we chose this spot is that the guide book states there are several small markets. Wrong, we found one market and not a tomato, yam, apple or any fresh produce. After two nights there we need to move on to find some! The others will catch up to us at St Pierre
Very little wind so we motor out of the harbor and head north. After an hour the wind picks up and we are currently sailing at 5.8 knots with 14 knots of apparent wind. We had planned to stop at a small town just north of the Bay of Fort de France, but this lovely wind changes our mind and we move further up the coast. Fort de France is one of the largest cities in the Caribbean and very European. We have decided not to stop there this time as there is nothing we really need and it will just entice us to spend money. The other major cities in the islands are San Juan, Pointe a Pitre and Port of Spain. Next year we will have all of Central America as our backyard and new cities to explore.
We arrived in St Pierre (Dec 4) having sailed as slow as 2.5 knots up to 6 knots depending on the winds. The winds fluctuate greatly on the leeward side of the islands because of the terrain. All the islands are very hilly and many have mountainous volcanoes and fabulous water falls. Shortly after anchoring we went for a nice walk through the town but all was closed up tight as it is Sunday.
St Pierre is a pleasant place to spend a few days. Back in 1902 it was a major hub with a population of 30,000 and considered the Paris of the Caribbean. Mt Pelee' erupted after weeks of warnings but the people did not flee to safety. The Governor at the time was encouraged to sit tight and not evacuate by the plantation owners and business men that would loss money if the people fled. It is estimated tat 29,933 lives were lost. The casualties are buried in what appears to be a mass grave in the beautiful cemetery up the hill. The two survivors were a cobbler working in his cellar and a murderer imprisoned in a stone cell. In addition, 12 ships were destroyed at anchor but one did get away with a few survivors. The ruins of the theater are wonderful to visit and there is a museum dedicated to the eruption.
With a great produce market right at the end of the pier and a few markets within blocks, it is a good place to pick up some perishables. Ideally, we would like to be in the USVI by Dec 20th. Ideally, we would like to stop at Mosserant on the way from Le Saintes to Saint Kitts. Ideally, the wind will work with us but we have tried to stop at Monserant several times and have yet to get the chance. Persephone claims that he always gets the wind he needs so we will see if traveling with them will change our luck. Impressionist, being from England, will split off and head to Antigua looking for a more traditional English holiday.
Usually I am writing while online and in a hurry, every once in a while I write in a document to be copied later and get a bit wordy. It is easy to be inspired while sailing past these magnificent islands with their rich history. I am currently reading James Michener's 'Caribbean' and being reminded of the early days, which unfortunately are very bloody and ruthless. An interesting read if you want some history.