18 November 2012 | Anse Mitan, Martinique
Cumberland Bay, St. Vincent
Since leaving St. George's, the main port of Grenada, one word comes to mind.
The Caribbean has a reputation of being filled with charter boats, nice beaches, cheap rum, blue water, steady trades and zero culture. Could be true, but there are options.
We spent the first night out in a totally secluded bay on the North end of Granada, no other boats, sandy beach, 20 feet of blue water with little fish swimming about. Night two we anchored off the Island of Petit St. Vincent. This is the home of a hotel for the rich and famous - we took the dink in to check it out and got offered to partake in their Sunday Barbeque Chicken fiesta......price US $ 120 a head + drinks and tips. We ate hot dogs on the boat.
Next stop, Cumberland Bay, St. Vincent. Outside the Bay we were met by 'Josoph the Rastaman', who escorted us into the bay and had us drop our anchor 200 feet off the beach. His nephew, who was on a beat up surf board took our line and tied it to a tree so we faced into the swell - that cost $ 3 US for the service. These folks all looked like something out of a bad movie, but were pretty nice. Living in shacks on the beach, they appeared to make their living tying boats (3 of us) onto trees and selling wilted lettuce. Judy bought 6 bananas and some greens from some guy on another 'lost' windsurfer. He did throw in some nice shells for free. The next morning at 6 AM when we were trying to leave in a torrential down poor, they wanted another 2 bucks to untie us......... Judy would have none of it. She negotiated successfully with an old man who could hardly walk. We will pay him next time we go back.
Then Rodney Bay, complete with fancy hotels, wind surfers, jet ski's, parasailing and glass bottom boats............very different.
Next Martinique and the yachting center of La Marin, including a huge marina, 100 boats anchored out, 3 fabulous supermarkets, inexpensive duck pate, French cheese, boxed Bordeaux wine and perfect espresso with fresh croissant's.............
Our favorite was probably St. Pierre on the North end of Martinique, where we anchored close enough to the town pier to be able to row in. This town was the cultural and commercial center of the French islands at the turn of the last century. More than 30,000 people lived in what was described as " Little Paris", enjoying the wealth of the sugar and rum trade with Europe and the US. They were 4 miles from the Volcano of Mt. Pelee, that rumbled for weeks in the spring of 1902. Officials reassured the population that nothing bad would happen (because that would be bad for business). Reminds me of the 'fiscal cliff' rhetoric of present times! Anyway, one early morning the whole thing exploded with a tremendous energy burst greater than the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, destroying the entire city and killing more than 29,000 people in the worst volcanic disaster of the Century. Now there are 5,000 souls living there, and it is the most delightful little city, complete with communal seine fishing off the beach, a wonderful Saturday morning market with all the wife's selling stuff while their husbands (and us) were sitting shooting the breeze in a café over an 11 am beer. The husbands had to go pack up the tables after market was over; we just had to go take a swim off the transom!
We were going to leave this week-end for Guadalupe, but true to form, the French folks here close down all kinds of things so they can have a relaxed long week-end. Since we could not get a check out clearance in St. Pierre on a Saturday we backtracked to Fort de France only to find out that you really can't leave France on anything but a Monday - Friday 09:00 - 15:00............maybe tomorrow we will leave?
One more note - all the upwind sailing we did last year is paying off nicely. We have been doing day runs of 20 - 50 NM, have a blade jib and typically a full main up, and are reaching along at 6 - 8 knots most of the time..........nice!