Bequia, Martinique, Les Saintes (Guadeloupe)

12 February – 7 April 2011

Schoelcher Library,  Fort-de-France, MartiniqueWhen we arrived in Bequia we met up with some friends who we had met in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria but not seen since. They had recently crossed the Atlantic and were on their way south towards Grenada. It was lovely to get together again and catch up on each other's news.

After a couple of weeks the winds moderated a little and we made our departure at dawn on the 15th February heading for Soufriere or, possibly, Marigot Bay in St Lucia. We had an absolutely cracking sail and amazingly covered 74 miles in 10 hours – an average of 7.5 knots, an excellent speed for Impressionist – to anchor in the late afternoon further north than anticipated, in Rodney Bay. Our friends, Lynn & Ken very kindly invited us to dinner as we were quite tired.

The following day we had a much shorter journey to Martinique, departing around 9.00am, and again had a great sail to Le Marin on the south coast.

Dave & Trudy on Persephone made the passage the same day, followed by Denise & Jean-Pierre on Absaroque, and Lynn & Ken on Silverheels II over the next couple of days. We all met up at various times for coffees and drinks, and one day those of us who were anchored in Le Marin dinghied down to the beach at St Anne's to go swimming.

Denise & Jean-Pierre and ourselves hired a car for a day for a tour of the island. We visited the oldest family-run rum distillery on the island, La Favorite, where all the machinery is run by a 150-years-old steam engine still in immaculate condition. It was a fascinating visit – one of the workers there guided us round (in French – Denise & Jean-Pierre translated for us). We then headed further north into the interior where we stopped in a picnic area for our lunch (bread, pate, cheese and wine purchased earlier). We continued north-west through the interior to the Atlantic coast where we stopped at the St James rum distillery to see their museum and purchase some rum, then meandered south down the east coast to Le Marin.

On 24 February we sailed round to Anse Mitan on the west coast where we anchored in a sheltered spot as there were strong winds forecast for the next few days. An attractive small holiday village with a ferry service to the capital Fort-de-France. We took the ferry over to meet our friends as we were all anchored in different places. Managed to get on the wrong ferry back – but it was only a 20-minute walk away!

When the wind moderated we sailed across the bay to the anchorage at Fort-de-France and found it was much better than written up in the pilot book. We also discovered that a few days later it was Carnival – 4 days of parades and celebrations – so we decided to stay as it sounded like lots of fun.

Fort-de-France, Martinique - Carnival - Dimanche GrasAbsaroque were also anchored here, and the first day of carnival  Dimanche Gras - we joined them and another American couple to watch the parade and stay for food and drink in the evening.



On the second morning Anne woke early in severe pain and feeling very sick. Denise came over to help as she is bilingual; she contacted the French coastguard who arranged for an ambulance to be at the dock, and with the help of Jean-Pierre (her husband) we managed to get Anne into their dinghy to take ashore. At the hospital she was given an intravenous dose of morphine and cocktail of other drugs and was diagnosed as having a kidney stone. She was discharged at about 1.00pm with various prescriptions and wearing Denises’ dress (spare in her bag) as she had only thrown on knickers and t-shirt to go ashore. Being Carnival, of course it was a public holiday so everything was closed and the streets were cordoned off for the parades. Luckily we had a very helpful taxi driver who phoned up someone! and found which pharmacy was on duty and took us there. He also negotiated a passage through the cordon as Anne had no shoes and couldn’t walk far. On her return to the boat she went to bed for the rest of the day.

Jim went ashore on his own that day – Lundi Gras with the "Marriage Burlesque" where men dress as the brides and women as the groom.

On the 3rd day of Carnival Jim felt unwell (shock?) so Anne went ashore, dressed in red for "Vide en Rouge", and watched with Absaroque and some other friends of theirs. Almost the entire town was dressed in red that day – quite an incredible sight.

We both again went for the last day of Carnival when almost the whole town (and ourselves of course) was dressed in black and white for "Vide en Noir et Blanc". As dusk fell a huge crowd congregated near the dock where the Carnival King "Vaval" was ritually burnt and, as the flames died down the crowds chanted “Vaval, pa kité nou” (Carnival, don’t leave us).

The whole Carnival was terrific fun – a cross between Caribbean and European with a lot of cross dressing. For a selection of our photos please click here. We also took lots of video which we will post later when we have edited a short film of highlights.

Once Carnival was over we were able to arrange for Anne to have a scan and see a consultant as instructed by the doctor at the hospital. Fortunately she was given a clean bill of health – there were no more stones or any kidney disease. We have to say the health care Anne received was excellent.

By this time we had been in Martinique much longer than originally intended. We finally set sail on 27 March, anchored at St Pierre for an afternoon only so that we would make our landfall in the daylight.

Anne sailing our dinghy around the anchorage in Les SaintesThe next morning we anchored in Les Saintes, Guadeloupe to meet Manu & Michelle on Teepee (friends from Las Palmas) and Yves & Dominique on Rusee (briefly met last year). We had a lovely few days with a meal out together, BBQs on the boats, walked up to and visited Fort Napoleon and had great fun taking turns sailing our dinghy around the bay until it sprung a bad leak (another repair job).

The day before leaving Jim was doing some engine checks and discovered that our gear cable had broken. There was nowhere to get a replacement in Les Saintes so we sailed to Point-a-Pitre, the capital of Guadeloupe, where we anchored. We were able to buy a replacement cable very easily and Jim was able to install it without problem. We had a brief walk around Point-a-Pitre; it's very attractive with a variety of building styles – 19th century, Creole and Art Deco buildings, the more modern buildings being mainly on the outskirts. Next year we would like to stay longer but we wanted to get to Antigua for Classic Week.

Our shortest route now to Antigua was through the Riviere Salee, the seawater canal through the centre of Guadeloupe. We motored up to the south end before the first bridge and anchored, then went through the canal in the dinghy with a marked and weighted line to check the depths at the shallowest part as our depth is the maximum recommended. The depth seemed to be OK so we were up at 04.30 for the bridge opening at 05.00 with about six other boats, motored north through the canal which was very well buoyed to the second bridge which opened at 05.20, continued on through the canal and were pleased to find at the shallowest part we had 0.6m under us. Once we had found our way through the shallows of the bay and were into clear water we were able to set sail and head for Antigua.

After another great sail we anchored in Falmouth Harbour, Antigua on 7 April in good time for Classic Week.


Photographs – Martinique & Les Saintes, Guadeloupe


Grenada to Bequia

Clarkes Court Bay dinghy concert (2)
3 January – 11 February 2011

Madison Violet, a visiting Canadian folk group, wanted to hold a free dinghy concert which was announced on the cruiser net, so on 3 January we dinghied round to Clarkes Court Bay where right in the middle was anchored the tub boat Calico with the group on board, a yacht tied alongside and a raft of dinghies attached to lines from the tug. Incoming dinghies tied on anywhere to the raft. The concert was great fun and there was a fantastic atmosphere.

Click here for our video from Grenada including some of our excerpts from the dinghy concert filmed whilst bouncing around in the dinghy.

Link to official video of the concert

On the 8 January we motored back round to Prickly Bay ready to be hauled out of the water for our rudder repair. The part had not arrived, but the boatyard had a piece of the material and would be able to have it machined once the old bearings were removed as a pattern.

We were hauled out at Spice Island Marine on the 13th, the rudder was removed and we started work – rubbed down the bottom of the boat, removing barnacles and paint from the prop, SSB plate and fridge plate, painted with barrier coat and 2 coats of antifoul (hull below the waterline); touched up paint to the topsides (hull above the waterline); serviced the seacocks; replaced the anode – it was a very hard 10 days work in the heat. The yard had the bearings machined and fitted them. A couple of days before launching we found some cracks on the topsides where something must have hit us, so we had the yard grind it out and repair. The yard did excellent work and were very quick; we also found all the staff helpful and friendly, the boatyard is relatively clean and the security is good. We would certainly return if we need work done in the future.
We launched after 11 days on the hard, and on 29 January we departed to head north for the remainder of the winter. Our aim is to go north reasonably quickly and return to the Grenadines around May/June when it will hopefully be less windy and less busy.

We had to motor sail most of the way up the west coast of Grenada to Carriacou as the wind was on the nose. We anchored overnight in Tyrrel Bay then sailed to Union Island, anchored overnight behind Frigate Island then motored round to Clifton Bay in the morning to clear into St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Clifton Bay is exposed to the wind but protected from the seas by a reef, with a 'roundabout' reef in the centre of the bay. It was really full of boats (many charterers come here) but we found a spot near the entrance – just a long choppy dinghy ride to the dock.

The next day a Danish boat came in to anchor next to us – going too fast while dropping the anchor, they promptly dropped back towards us. They tried to pull up their anchor and found themselves stuck fast on our anchor chain!! We got our engine going to prevent us dragging onto the reef if they pulled our anchor up. Fortunately Paul from Namaste saw the problem, he swam over and dived down in about 10m depth to try an free their anchor. It was impossible. We pulled out a trip hook (bought some years ago and never used until now); Paul managed to hook it under our chain so they could pull it up and allow him to free their anchor. Big sigh of relief – emergency over. He tied a fender on the end of the line and when they had gone, again with his help, we were able to recover the hook and line (Jim motored in reverse to raise the chain and free the hook).
Later on, the Danish couple dinghied out to us and Namaste with a very nice apology and thank you.

The following day (2 February) we had a marvellous sail to Bequia – with a nice clean bottom Impressionist absolutely flies along (7 knots hard on the wind!). We anchored off the north end of Princess Margaret beach. Since then there has been nothing but strong north-easterlies so we are waiting for the weather to improve before continuing our journey north.

For more photos please click here

We recently found a new site called Photosynth which allows you to stitch together a collection of overlapping photos to give a wonderful panoramic effect. We have uploaded one from Grenada together with 3 older ones. If you would like to see them please click here

Grenada for Christmas and New Year

9 December 2010 – 5 January 2011

Christmas lights at Sugar Mill roundabout (20)By the 12th we were finally ready, we paid the marina and untied most of the lines holding us to the dock. Jim was on the helm and suddenly said "There's something wrong with the steering." We quickly tied up again! He'd noticed a lot of play and a clunk if the wheel was moved quickly. This was worrying and we decided it would be better to get any problems sorted out in Grenada where we know there are good services. A friend, Richard (Phalarope) who is a mechanical engineer, came round to have a look and he and Jim came to the conclusion that the rudder bearings were worn  and should be replaced, and that a spacer was needed to take up slack in the steering pedestal.

We ordered the new bearings from England and a couple of days later we motored back round to Prickly Bay and had a chat with the boatyard about lifting out and having the work done. Being so close to Christmas nothing was going to happen now until after the New Year, so after a couple of days we motored back round to Mount Hartman Bay to join our friends there for Christmas.

The weeks around Christmas became very social with parties held by Dave on Persephone (American) and Ken and Lynn on Silverheels III (Canadian), we hosted a traditional English mulled wine and mince pie party on Impressionist, and Eric and Jackie on Compass Rose hosted a party after Christmas.

On Christmas Day itself we all dinghied round to Clarkes Court Bay Marina for a pot luck turkey and ham Christmas dinner for 50 cruisers, with everyone bringing a dish to share – the meat was delicious and plentiful, and there was a huge selection of vegetables, stuffings, a large pot of gravy, and a variety of desserts - we took home-made mince pies and some crackers (the first time we had seen any since leaving England) and had to explain to the non-English how to pull them.

For the New Year we and our friends booked in to "De Big Fish" in Prickly Bay with a bus to take us there and back. An excellent 3-course meal including a pig roast, tables were decorated and had noisemakers and streamers, and live entertainment with the Doc Adams group so the place was really rocking and everyone dancing. New Year was celebrated at 12.00 GMT (8.00pm local time) with Big Ben on the large screen TV as cruisers tend to early birds. It was a marvellous evening, and although we got to bed early we were woken up again at midnight with the fireworks, so we sat and watched them for our second New Year.

We wanted to go and see the Christmas lights at the Sugar Mill roundabout but each day we planned it had turned to rain, so finally on 5 January (the last day) Anne organised a group of us (10) to take the half-hour walk there. It was well worth it - the display was quite spectacular, extending all the way up the hill in a small park. On the way back we stopped at a Chinese restaurant for a lovely meal.

For more photos please click here


18 August – 8 December 2010
Overlooking Clarkes Court Bay to Hog Island (we were anchored near the bridge)With Impressionist ready for sailing again, we departed the marina and had a short, but delightful, downwind sail along the south coast and anchored back in Prickly Bay.  We had purchased a new, more efficient wind generator – the Air Breeze – and needed the local workshop to design and fit a stainless steel support.  It's also very convenient here with easy access, either walking or on the local buses, to the chandlers, hardware stores, supermarkets and the capital St Georges, so we spent some time just doing minor jobs, especially making mosquito nets for the hatches and portlights (small opening windows) as we have been unable to purchase these off the shelf (design and photos on our web site (Boat Details – Modifications).

Grenada has the friendliest and most helpful people we have ever met; many of them have lived in or visited England, or have relations there, and it's very easy to end up chatting to a complete stranger for a half-hour. In St Georges one day we asked about a cobbler and the lady insisted on taking us right to him.

The local bus service is great - 15-seat mini-buses that will have 18 squeezed in when full, owned by the driver who usually has a "conductor" on board, each bus licensed to a particular route. They all run from the bus station in St Georges, departing when full (squashed in). Driver/conductor touts for business as they go along and pick up/drop off along the road as well as bus stops; they will divert from the route for an extra fee. Buses are cheap, noisy, friendly, fun and very frequent in the south-east.

Every morning (except Sunday) at 07.30 we listen to the Grenada cruiser net on channel 68 on the VHF radio. There is a different net controller each day, one of whom is the manager of the local chandlery, the remainder being volunteer cruisers.  The weather is read out (obtained via the internet); other sections include safety & security information, arrival & departure notifications, parts & services, cruiser events, "Treasures of the Bilge (buy and sell), and advertising by local businesses – it's a great source of information. Most cruisers also have their radios tuned to 68 whilst on the boat as it is also our primary means of communication.

A couple of weeks later we motored round to Mount Hartman Bay (the next bay) and anchored. It's a particularly calm bay with a very short dinghy ride to shore – very suitable as Jim's sister Margaret was due to fly out from England on 9 September to join us for three weeks.

The day after Margaret arrived she had recovered enough from the journey to join us on the Friday shopping bus to the local mall and supermarket. She was amazed to see so many imported English goods including some of the Waitrose Essentials range; they also have Branston Pickle, Marmite and English sausages – three goodies which we hadn't seen anywhere since leaving England three years before!

The next few days were intended for relaxing on the boat and some gentle swimming off a beach a dinghy ride away – that is apart from the pot luck dinner (bring a dish to share), the BBQ evening at the marina, the Sunday Mexican Train dominoes, the Monday bus to town where Patrick, our driver, treated us to jelly coconuts, and of course the Wednesday and Friday shopping bus to the mall where we developed a taste for the lovely banana bread with our coffee.

The middle of September we all went on a cruiser-organised trip with a dozen others to the Seven Sisters Waterfalls in the Grand Etang National Park rainforest. The views were marvellous on the way there and the rainforest was lovely with beautiful trees and flowers, including both cocoa and nutmeg trees. At the car park we each picked out a stick and our local guide led us on an hour long hike along a muddy and, in places, very steep track to get to the lower falls. Well worth it – the falls are lovely with a high fall into a large pool then a lower fall into the smaller pool. We all swam in the large pool – it was lovely swimming in fresh, cool water for a change. Anne leapt the lower fall then, emboldened by this, decided to join the group who were going further up to leap the higher falls. After a 20-minute muddy uphill scramble we reached the top fall. After a photo session those not leaping returned down the path. Our guide (who was excellent) at each fall showed us how to take off, how to leap and how to land, and helped us all through the fast Seven Sisters Waterfalls - 35ft fall and poolflowing water in the chute between two of the falls. For the smaller falls we landed in a seated position because of the limited depth, one we could shallow dive into the pool, but the last fall was 35ft high – scary, and we were supposed to land feet first and upright. Anne got this one badly wrong, landed in a seated position and stayed in the pool for a while to cool her badly stung thighs. Not only did she end up with severe bruising on her thighs but also had a bad back for a couple of weeks. In spite of that, it was a fantastic experience and she would quite happily do it all again.

On 19 September we took Margaret for a short sail round to Clarkes Court Bay where we dropped the anchor near Hog Island, this being convenient for local buses to St Georges (for Margaret and Anne's  girls' shopping trips) as well as evenings out at local restaurants and being nearer the beach for swimming.

We all wanted to go to Fish Friday at Gouyave – two streets of stalls cooking and selling locally caught fish every Friday, a "do not miss" evening in Grenada - but couldn't get a reply from the taxi firm which was known to organise a bus. In the end Anne organised her own – ending up with 22 people on two buses. We left early enough to see the scenery on the way up the west coast of Grenada and had a stroll around before the stalls got going – as this was low season it wasn't as busy as normal, but the atmosphere and food were still great and we had a marvellous evening.

Another day the three of us went on an island tour with CB Historical Tours. Clement, our driver, was full of fascinating information about the history and the island. He took us to St Georges, then to the last working nutmeg processing plant (most nutmeg trees were destroyed in Hurricane Ivan in 2004, it takes six years before replanted trees start producing), via the Leapers Leap where the native Caribs leapt to their deaths rather than submit to French rule, the Belmont Plantation for a fabulous lunch (unfortunately they are too busy making cocoa to run tours at present), to the River Antoine rum distillery with the last working watermill where they still make rum in the traditional fashion from locally grown sugar cane, returning through the Grand Etang rainforest – where it really rained heavily! Altogether a marvellous day out.

One evening we booked for dinner at The Little Dipper – to quote our pilot book "the best little restaurant in Grenada". We arrived at their own dinghy dock at dusk and climbed the lit path up the hill to the restaurant. We were the only people there (hence the need to book, otherwise they don't open). We sat on the veranda, the view across the bay was wonderful and our food was lovely. It started raining but we didn't want to leave the view, so we just pulled the table back a little way. As we left we were each handed a stick to help us down the now very slippery path. An enchanting evening!

We'd had a lot of fun and it felt very quiet after Margaret's return to England. We went back to doing odd jobs around the boat, the usual shopping trips every week and the various social activities organised by cruisers. These included pot luck dinners, dominoes, the monthly book swap for charity at a local chandler, a kayak tug-of-war off the beach at Hog Island (we watched), cruiser cricket matches (we watched!) and Halloween BBQ, and a cruiser organised visit to The Aquarium restaurant with swimming and marvellous snorkelling off its beach – and the food was excellent too.

Towards the end of October we began to think about moving north as the hurricane season is normally over by this time.  BUT right at the end of October a tropical depression formed off South America which turned very quickly into Hurricane Tomas and headed straight towards the Windward Islands (south-eastern Caribbean), it's forecast track being possibly Trinidad, Tobago, Grenada or the Grenadines - right where we were!  All the boats prepared, removing awnings etc, some put out an extra anchor, we let out a lot more chain and cleaned the propeller just in case we needed the engine. Everyone had an anxious few days, but Tomas turned further north, causing a great deal of damage and loss of life in Barbados, St Lucia and St Vincent, whilst the south of Grenada had a flat calm and no rain!

On 18 November, we moved round into Mount Hartman Bay to clean the bottom of the boat in the clearer waters there. This involves a lot of diving with breath held, and scraping as much as possible until you surface because of natural buoyancy in the extremely salty water. An extremely exhausting job carried out over several days and only in calm weather.

With a clean bottom, we left the bay on 6 December and had a lovely sail round to St Georges where we took a berth in the marina for a few days so that we could clean and check the anchor chain, refit the windvane, and do a last bit of shopping before leaving Grenada to head north for the winter.
We have thoroughly enjoyed our summer here and intend returning next summer after a winter spent cruising the eastern Caribbean islands.

For more photos please click here

Grenada & Carriacou

24 June – 17 August 2010

St Georges (4)After a day sail, again with variable light winds, we anchored in the late afternoon in Hillsborough Bay, Carriacou which is part of the Grenadines chain of islands but belonging to Grenada, another ex-British island.

In the morning we went ashore to check in with Immigration and Customs, and do some shopping for provisions.  After lunch we motored around to Tyrrel Bay, the main anchorage on the island for cruising yachts.  There is one road along the waterfront with a couple of very small mini markets, some services for yachts, and a few bars and restaurants.

To one side of the bay is a ‘hurricane hole’ – a very protected, shallow stretch of water surrounded by mangroves and with a small entrance.  Normally not used for anchoring, but if a hurricane heads towards the island, the yachts go in here, with the shallowest draft furthest in, anchor at the stern and are tied to the mangroves at the bow.  The crew should then go to a hurricane shelter ashore.  We went in with the dinghy to have a look round; it’s a very beautiful and peaceful place.

One of the restaurants had a steel band night whilst we were there, so we joined some of the other cruisers – old and new friends - for a meal and to enjoy the music.

After just three nights here we departed for Grenada in good conditions for a sail down the east coast to the anchorages on the south, where we anchored in Prickly Bay.  We stayed for a week, finding our way about, checking out the supermarkets, yacht services and chandlers, and with a day out in the capital, St Georges where we were amazed to see old red British telephone boxes.  We also contacted Richard & Claire on Phalarope who had wintered in La Rochelle with us but we had last seen in the Spanish Rias.  We had a lovely reunion, meeting for coffee in the local shopping centre, but ended up staying for lunch and talked for 4 hours!

We then motored the short distance to Clarkes Court Bay where we had booked Impressionist into the marina for our trip to England to visit family and friends.  Here, again, we met with friends old and new.  There’s a lively social scene for the cruisers, particularly in the bar of the marina, with a weekly burger night, fish & chip supper, special lunches for events such as the football final, a film night, and events run by cruisers such as Sunday “Mexican Train Dominoes”, watercolour classes, language classes etc.

We prepared the boat for leaving it, removing everything possible from deck in case of bad weather, and flew to England for a three-week visit to family and friends.  It was lovely to see everyone, especially Anne’s new baby nephew and our grandchildren, but it was hectic and towards the end we were very tired.

On our return we had to start putting everything back in place on the boat.

A couple of days after our return to Grenada the main events of the Carnival (a month-long event) took place.  We went with our friends, Ken & Lynn, on a bus with other cruisers to St Georges to watch the main “Pretty Mas” parade, followed in the evening by the “Monday Night Mas”.

For a short video of the carnival please click here

We continued with sorting out the boat and getting some jobs done, but on Anne’s birthday we dinghied over to the Whisper Cove restaurant for a delicious T-bone steak and live music.  On our return the torch was laid down on the pontoon for a moment and rolled straight off into the water – horror, this was our best torch, the new LED Maglite.  The next morning Anne dived into the chocolate coloured water (run-off from the rum distillery) – and found it because it was still lit up.  It has been washed and dried, and works perfectly – a very impressive 10 out of 10 for Maglite!!

For more photos please click here

Martinique, St Lucia, Bequia

23 May – 23 June 2010

Rodney Bay, Gregory fruit seller (6)Another overnight passage with variable light winds meant we motorsailed for part of the way.  We went straight to the anchorage at Le Marin in the south of Martinique, another French island, as we only intended a short stay to pick up a new Ship’s Registration document (to be couriered to the Poste Restante address at the Post Office), and to buy some extra anchor chain as the length we had was too short.

The town of Le Marin is spread along the bay, the older part in the centre with the newer commercial areas at the ends, with dinghy docks in the various parts.  We visited all of them, checking out the good French supermarkets, small shops, bars and restaurants, and yacht services including three or four chandlers.

We very soon met a lovely American couple, Dave & Michelle on Daniell Storey, who are descended from some of the original pioneers to America.  They introduced us to friends of theirs on other boats and we had a very sociable few days.  As we are all travelling south for the summer we will keep bumping into each other.

We moved into the marina for a couple of nights so that we could attach the new chain and hammer in the length markers – very pleased to have this as we had been limited to anchoring in only 10 metres and some anchorages we couldn’t use as they are deeper than this.

Our registration document arrived – DHL, the courier company contacted us to say that the Post Office wouldn’t sign for it.  (They had signed for couriered packages in France!)  They asked for another address, and we suggested the marina office; this was no problem, they had delivered there before and would put it on the van again the next morning.  Late the next morning Anne went ashore to see it it had arrived – the marina office had gone; even the Portakabin it had been in was half demolished.  She asked around and found the new location in a new building at the opposite end of the marina, but it wasn’t there.  She went back to the boat, phoned DHL to give them the new location – who said it had been delivered.  Back to the new marina office, and one of the staff was just bringing it in from her car.  10/10 for the DHL service and marina staff.  We were very relieved as the old document was now out of date.

Whilst waiting for suitable weather for the next passage we got on the local bus for a day out in the capital, Fort de France.  A busy commercial town with lots of small shops and industrial parks on its outskirts.  Not particularly attractive, but we came across the old library which was a fantastic building – unfortunately we had forgotten the camera.

After a short passage to Rodney Bay at the north of St Lucia, an ex-British island, we went into the marina.  Whilst we were still tying up the boat, a couple on another boat were waving at us - to our great delight they were John and Ann of Moonlight who we had last seen in Madeira, nine months ago.  We had a long chat, catching up on news.  The evening was spent at a BBQ for the cruisers where we also saw other American and Canadian cruiser friends and made some new ones.

After three nights and some jobs done on the boat, we moved out to the anchorage.  On shore one day we had an unexpected trip into the capital, Castries, as John passed us and offered a lift since he was picking up Ann and her mother in town.  He dropped us by the large market where we had fresh coconut – drink the milk first through straws then ask the seller to chop it in half, he chops part of the shell off to make a spoon to dig out the soft flesh – it was absolutely delicious.  We had a meander around (no camera with us) then stopped by the market for a lovely lunch of local food; the people on the next table started talking to us and we found they were also cruisers, two Dutch couples, also anchored in Rodney Bay.

To avoid another overnight passage, on 12 June we did the short trip to Soufriere on St Lucia where we took a mooring buoy for the night, then left at dawn the next morning for a day sail to Bequia, again an ex-British island, in The Grenadines where we anchored in Princess Margaret Bay near the main town, Port Elizabeth.

The next morning we started to lift the dinghy to where we inflate it on deck; Anne promptly screamed in agony as her back went.  She crawled below onto the berth, and then wasn’t able to leave the boat for a week.  Jim had to inflate and launch the dinghy, and lower the outboard engine on his own; he did all the shopping, cooking, washing up etc.

Finally able to get ashore, we went to the Bequia Book Club to help the children with their reading.  A request for help had been broadcast a couple of days earlier on the Coconut Net, a Caribbean-wide net on the long distance radio (SSB) for cruisers to let others know where they are and keep in contact.  The club is run by a local woman, Cheryl Johnson, an amazing woman with an immense personality who runs this reading club every Saturday.  About 50 children turned up, who were divided into groups of similar ability.  Each group had a book, from which each child read a page or so in turn – our job was to help with difficult words and oversee the discussion about the book that followed.  Two or three children from each group in turn then gave a presentation on the book to the rest of the club.  The enthusiasm of the children to read and the details they had picked up from the book, in spite of some very quiet and fast reading, was amazing.  This was followed by drinks and cake and general chatter between the children and visiting cruisers, who included some children as well.  We will certainly go along to help next time we are in Bequia as it was great to give something back to the local population and a most marvellous experience for us.

After another few days Anne was fit to sail again and we set off for Carriacou.

For St Lucia photos please click here

Les Saintes, Guadeloupe

11 – 21 May 2010

Les Saintes (2)After an overnight passage with variable, but fairly light, winds with some motoring, we anchored in the bay off Bourg des Saintes, the main town in Les Saintes – a small group of islands which are part of Guadeloupe.

We intended staying here for just three or four days, but the weather turned against us and it was 10 days before we were able to depart.  But if you have to get stuck somewhere this is a beautiful place for it – the small town is charming, the large well-protected bay is beautiful and the scenery is lovely.

We didn’t do any sightseeing around the island, but we went ashore every day for some basic shopping in the small mini-markets, and often just sat at a cafe with a coffee or ice cream and watched the world go by.  It was mostly a very restful time.

We did need to get some petrol for our dinghy’s outboard motor and, after asking around, found that there is no petrol station in the town – the only available fuel is at a dock in another bay, accessible by a road over the hill and then a path.  So we thought it a lovely day for a walk, took the can in a knapsack and set off as directed.  We got to the next bay and found the beginning of the path.  There were occasional marks on the route, but for a number of different paths but for a while we followed the right one.  Then we arrived at a chainlink fence across our way; we couldn’t see the path at all so we guessed, found a path and followed it… almost to the top of the hill – great views, but the wrong path!!  Backtracked to the fence and hailed the young men inside for directions; they very kindly sent a boy out to show us the way.  The right path was mostly across rock and invisible if you didn’t know it, but we eventually arrived at the fuel dock – hot, tired and very thirsty.  We filled our can, bought some water to drink, and made the return journey much faster.

A few days later we decided we needed to get some diesel for the boat’s engine – this time we motored round and anchored in the bay, and transported the fuel by dinghy to the boat, returning to the main anchorage the same afternoon.

We also needed to fill our water tank whilst here – the only place was from the yacht club.  You pay in advance, tie up to their mooring buoy which has a hose attached and then radio the club to turn on and off the water.  As it was a set price for as much as you could take we filled up the tank, every container on board and all the buckets – so we did the laundry that day.

Once the weather became favourable for an overnight passage to Martinique we went on our way, but look forward to returning again next season.

For more photos please click here