15 April 2016
12 Dec – 26 Dec
A miserable British winter had well and truly set in but Dave and I were lucky enough to be jetting off to join Liz and Liam on Odyssey in the Caribbean sun, we were feeling pretty smug. A short internal transfer from Antigua to St Lucia and we hopped in a taxi headed for Rodney Bay to be greeted by rum punch in coconuts – classic.
The next morning we got to see the marina in all its glory, it was pretty busy with all the ARC crews and boat boys nipping around selling everything from fruit to laundry services. Liz then decided to check the rigging. This did not go so well and she managed to find some stray wires which turn out to be quite important. Darn it. The next plan was to try and get into another marina (one less busy) with a rigging specialist who could sort us out.
We soon found out how hot it was in marinas (uncomfortably hot is typically how it goes) so we popped out to anchor in the bay before heading off to Martinique (in search of a rigger). As soon as physically possible, Dave got his travel rod out extremely excited to get in action and caught a tiddler within minutes. Fantastic! I thought, dining on fish for the rest of the trip. Once Liz had butchered the tiddler for bait he tried again to see what else he could get. Whatever got the end of the line was big and strong and Dave’s rod snapped within the first hour of use.
We then motored across the channel toward Le Marin in Martinique navigating through what felt like an extremely narrow channel which marooned boats seemingly floating on the water. We arrived in and tried to track down the illusive rigger, Gitan. Gitan was busy, very busy but would call tomorrow to let us know when he could schedule us in so to escape the marina we popped over to anchor in St Anne’s, a lovely little bay with a nice village, beach and numerous turtles. Liam persistently rang Gitan and repeatedly got the ‘I’ll call back tomorrow’ response so we made ourselves at home chilling in the bay.
(Unrelated sun set photo)
Dave did some more fishing, we saw a fair few turtles and drank quite a lot of Caribbean beer. One great thing about Martinique is the French cuisine; pain au chocolats, croissants, baguettes, we ate like French kings. We also experienced some other fantastic food cooked by someone who clearly enjoyed his produce on a grill on the street; Liz got her fix of possibly the best chicken and chips on plastic table and chairs.
After some advice from some other people we were told that we could sail with the rigging as it was (after all Odyssey had crossed the Atlantic and it hadn’t broken yet) so we went for a jolly and I had a glimpse of how hard living on the boat would have been crossing the Atlantic. I decided to make some lunch for the crew and, with a swell of at least 2m, was having some fun in the galley. There were eggs everywhere, they kept jumping out of the pan. Needless to say it left me feeling a little squiffy after being below desk. Hats off to Liz and her nautical spam cooking skills.
Gitan eventually managed to squeeze us in and look at the rigging which meant a couple of nights in the marina. Turns out the boat was a floating electrode which was why the rigging had corroded. Not ideal. He could have a look to try and fix it and it could take a day or a week. Either way it sounded expensive. Liz and Liam decided to take it to the BVI for his cousin to have a look at instead.
Anyway, with that news we headed round the southern tip of Martinique to explore and made our way initially to Petit Anse, a very quaint little village. Not far offshore there was some fantastic snorkelling but not too much in terms of potential Christmas dinner venues. Oh, I forgot to mention, Liz and Liam had taken on the task of finding a venue for Christmas for us and some of the Arc+ friends. Intiial estimates were approx. 25 people. We stayed in Petit Anse overnight but the swell was quite large so we only stayed one night before moving round to Grande Anse.
Grande Anse was literally round the corner and a larger bay with little swell (well, not if you were far enough in). A dingy ride ashore and we soon found a potential candidate for Christmas dinner; it was in the guide book, it was open and they appeared to have space for us. Our trail dinner with Magic was a little disappointing though as dinner for 8 of us took approximately 3 hours. How would they cope with 25 people?
Day by day the bay got busier with more Arc boats arriving, increasing the number of people for Christmas dinner to high 40s. The restaurant, although frustrated by my awful French, seemed non-plussed by the growing number and just requested menu choices on Xmas eve (luckily for us Rugile from Moonshine could speak fluent French and nailed the order).
To explore the local bays we had a Snorkelling trip round to Anse Noir. Vincent showed off some impressive diving skills and Liz and I were dumbfounded by the largest shoal of fish known to man.
Dave spent a lot of time fishing off the back of the boat for the locals before the locals showed pitty on us and donated us some tuna. He did however manage to bag a porcupine fish which looked a lot like a sea faring ET (and, to be fair, did catch us dinner on a couple of occasions).
Christmas eve arrived and we had spread the word to get to the beach for 5ish with food and drink. We omitted to think about any form of lighting and the local insects which come out on the beach but by that stage we were too drunk to notice, Liam in particular…..Christmas eve after party moved to Odyssey and there was much merriment, extremely strong rum cocktails, fog horns and a spot of skinny dipping.
Christmas day was inevitably a bad one for Liam (who partook in the skinny dipping). Being sick as a dog until 5pm he missed out on the Christmas brunch put on by Moonshine and mostly just rolled around in the cabin trying to feel better. Panos from Cookelu Meu broadcast a fantastic suggestion for a hang over cure: ‘chop up onions really finely, as if you are preparing them for an omelette then, once chopped, put them on your testicals’; a tried and tested formula according to Panos. Maybe it was the thought of doing that that made Liam feel better! The dinner actually ran surprising smoothly, despite it being for a whopping 55 people. The staff set out some booze for DIY cocktails which kept us entertained and then served dinner rather efficiently. It was topped off by our own greek Santa (Panos) doling out presents to anyone brave enough to sit on his lap.
And then, with that, after the boxing day hang over, our stint on Odyssey was nearly over, all that remained was a trip up to Fort De France to put us on a bigger boat on the beginning of our trip back to London (via Dominica). Vincent and Maarje were grabbing a lift too but they were heading to Hawaii so we had little sympathy for them.
Post Odyssey we had a day on Dominica where we explored the Northern tip surrounding Plymouth with a trip up the Indian river and a walk round the Cabrits national park.
Thanks Liz and Liam!!!!