Next stop – St Lucia! When the Thomas family first mentioned a potential visit, I had to do a very rough estimate as to where we may well be during May half term week. At the time St Lucia seemed a pretty good bet. However as we talked to more and more cruisers, it seemed that St Lucia was not as popular amongst the cruising community as one would have imagined. This is due to various reasons, including aggressive boat boys, security concerns and, more worryingly, the murder of a yachstman on his boat at the beginning of 2014. We decided not to hang around long.
We arrived in Rodney Bay in the early hours of the morning so sailed in as far as we dared in the dark before dropping anchor and getting our heads down. The following morning we were up early and speaking to the marina – having not stayed in a marina since Nanny Cay, BVI in March, I was determined to make sure we had a full day to make the most of the facilities. First stop – the pool!
The Thomases arrived safely and after lots of hugging and ‘haven’t you grown’ (for the kids, not us!!), we loaded them onto the boat. It was like Christmas (again!) with presents and internet orders that I had asked them to bring out. Following our night in the marina, we anchored in Rodney Bay for a night and then we decided to head north to Martinique, which turned out to be a great decision.
We anchored in Sainte-Anne so that we could book in. It was a beautiful anchorage, with swimming and snorkelling opportunities for the kids. The town itself was lovely; there were several restaurants, a couple of little supermarkets and, most importantly, a boulangerie!
The following day we decided to try the day anchorages to the south of the island. We initially anchored at Anse Meunier and headed ashore. Having explored onland a little and with the promise of showers, we motored further round to Grande Anse des Salines – we were the only boat in the bay. Sadly the promised showers were shut as it was out of season but we did find an outdoor shower at the restaurant on the point, which we were not shy in making the most of! The anchorages were beautiful and deserted – we can highly recommend them as a day trip from St Anne.
Following a quick exploration of the (somewhat limited) delights of Le Marin the following morning we decided to head north. We sailed past Diamond Rock, which had interestingly been HMS Diamond Rock in 1803 due to its strategic location and a shortage of available Navy ships at the time.
We then anchored in Petite Anse d’Arlet for the night on the promise of some excellent snorkelling, which the kids made the most of while Janet and I lounged on the trampoline, slowly getting sunburnt.
Josephine, wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, had been born in Trois Ilets, on the south side of the bay from Fort de France, the island’s capital. Tempted by a little history, we sailed round and anchored for lunch. Sadly this is most definitely a department of France and our trip ashore to eat lunch out was a positive failure! Everywhere was closed, with the exception of the boulangerie, whose sandwich fillings were limited to ham. Unfortunately our luck did not improve in Fort de France, where we anchored that night – dinner was KFC! We were not entirely enamoured with Fort de France so after Simon managed to buy their ferry tickets to St Lucia, we hot-footed it to Anse Mitan, a holiday village across the bay, which proved to be a much more favourable location. I decided there and then that this was where we would be staying for Stewart’s trip to Dominica for the cricket.
It was an emotional farewell the following day as we said farewell to the Thomases and it was the first time that I had really felt homesick. Fortunately it was short-lived as the following day our friends from Almost There, closely followed by Taia, arrived in the anchorage. The girls also made friends with two little girls from S/V Lagom and happily decided that school was over early that day, swimming across at the earliest opportunity.
Stewart headed off for the cricket (more of that later!) and the girls and I enjoyed the time being stationary for a while, catching up on home-schooling, swimming and generally relaxing.
Martinique, being a French island, is well served by hypermarkets and European stores. Not to miss out on yet another great provisioning opportunity, we hired a car, offloaded the children onto the menfolk, headed onshore and became women on a mission. I was pretty excited to find a reasonably priced kayak at the Inter Sport (finally!) but with a small hire car, I needed to get rid of all the shopping plus my two friends before I could purchase it. Speeding back round the dual carriageway in an attempt to make it back before closing time, I had not really thought the whole thing through. Fortunately the store was still open ten minutes after closing time and I successfully made the purchase. The security guard was particularly unhelpful and dumped the kayak outside the front door and left me to it. Sadly the kayak was somewhat bigger than the hire car….. Mmm – great! With the help of a friendly local with a pick up truck and a bungee, I managed to load the kayak into the back of the car. The boot was carefully held down as I drove somewhat more sedately on the way home.
In 1902, the town of Sainte Pierre, the Paris of the West Indies, was devastated by the eruption of the volcano, Mont Pelee. Of the 30,000 inhabitants, only one survived – Auguste Ciparis, the sole occupant of the city’s dungeon. After surviving four days in his cell, which was buried beneath layers of ash, his sentence (for assault) was suspended and he spent the rest of his days touring with the Barnum and Bailey Circus – as an exhibit in a replica of his prison cell. Having seen Montserrat, we decided that climbing this infamous volcano was a must during our visit. It was a great hike followed by a tour of the island in search of somewhere for lunch. Again we were completely stymied by French opening times – what is it with not being able to eat outside their set meal times!
We waved a sad farewell to Martinique, which had some of the best cruising waters that we had seen in a while. Having sampled St Lucia briefly, we decided to completely bypass it on the way south again. Taia accompanied us and we set out for an overnight sail to Bequia (also missing an equally unsecure St Vincent!).