St Vincent, Bequia, St Lucia, Martinique, Dominica

 Beer of the moment: Hairoun (St Vincent), Piton (St Lucia), Carib (Trinidad), Kubuli (Dominica)

 Cocktails: Pina Colada, Banana Daiquiri 

Thursday 1st January

Happy Hogmany !

The wind and waves still make it too dangerous to try to get ashore in Canouan. So we are “forced” to take it easy, eat, drink and enjoy the view.

Friday 2nd

The Northerley swell has subsided somewhat so we decide to take a trip ashore in the dinghy. The beach in Canouan is lovely and we have the chance to fly Callum’s helicopter, go snorkelling and build sandcastles on the beach.

The Tamarind Beach Hotel is famous for its Pizza, cooked in a wood fired oven so we sit down for a great lunch there. Pizza is the one dish James Dornan never seems to have a problem finishing off !

Our happiness at being ashore was somewhat marred when we returned to the dinghy. The swell had pushed it up under the dock and smashed the engine cowling and left big scratches along both sides. It could have been worse but it was still a lesson for us about the power of the swell, no wonder they keep having their docks smashed by hurricanes in this part of the world.

Saturday 3rd – 7th

Its time to do some sailing again. The plan was to call in at Salt Whistle Bay in Mayreu, or perhaps Tobago Cays or Mustique. The weather just didn’t want to let us though, so we decided on the slightly longer slog up to Admiralty Bay, Bequia. The Bay was packed and instead of our preferred anchorage close to the restaurants, we ended up at the entrance to the bay near Princess Margaret beach.

We do like Bequia though, so its no disappointment being back again and we decide to stay for a few days. Some good friends are in the bays too – Matt Harrop & Mel Hogg on Meander, David & Sue on Suerte and Ray & Ed on Seren Wen.

The boys are happy too, because on the beach we meet some more good friends Pascal and Pascale and their two boys Romain and Bastion from Imagine. As usual Bill can be found helping the boys to dig deep and build a big sandcastle.

Back on the boat many hours of fun are had jumping off the front and swimming to the back.

Allan put the idea into Callums head that he could save his Christmas money and buy a sailing dinghy. He has quite taken to this and has spent hours trying to persuade James to join in this venture.

It’s also time to decide what to do about our guests flights back to the UK from St Lucia. The pilot book paints a picture of a pretty nasty sail back between St Vincent and St Lucia, all the worse because we are running out of time. In the end Allan discovered we could get them a relatively cheap flight from St Vincent to Castries in St Lucia then a taxi to the International airport. Pressure off we could enjoy the rest of our time together and take the relatively short 10 mile sail to St Vincent at our leisure, or even get a ferry for them if the weather didn’t suit.

The other nice thing about being back in Bequia is that it gives us another chance to eat in the Gingerbread and listen to a local band – this time one of their fabulous curries. We also go to a great Pizza restaurant – Macs – right on the waterfront. Another excellent night.

Everything in Bequia is geared to yachts. They will come out to you boat to deliver diesel, water, ice or to take your laundry. Of course you can also get the usual selection of bread, fruit and lobster all delivered too.

Daffodil laundry, water and fuel

Wednesday 7th

Time is getting short so we make the dash across to the Blue Lagoon marina on St Vincent. The passage was a little rough with a full 35 knots of wind, but the boat coped well with the conditions. Back in the UK most sailors would stay at home with a forecast like that. Given Joyce doesn’t like water she has coped amazingly well with some pretty rough journeys.

Blue Lagoon is the same place we chartered the Venezia catamaran Inordinate, two years ago. This time we picked up a TMM owned buoy inside the lagoon as the marina was full of Sunsail charter boats.

Blue Lagoon

The marina has a small swimming pool with a slide which brought Callum and James an hour or more of entertainment.

Thursday 8th

We needed to go into Georgetown, the capital, to try to get James a birthday Present. In most of the places we’ve been since leaving Europe the shops have mostly been full of tourist tat and nothing that would impress a 10 year old.

Georgetown turns out to be a nice little place, with a few of the older buildings still in tact. We are also in luck to find a shop selling one of the new Gameboy units. He has had every Gameboy model made so this will go down well with him; we also got him the latest Harry Potter game for it.

On the way back from Georgestown we asked the taxi to drop us off at Young Island cut. It’s a popular strip of restaurants on the beach just along from the marina. It seemed deserted but we had lunch in the Lime ‘n Pub. The setting was gorgeous but the food fairly average.

Friday 9th

It’s going away day for the Bill, Joyce, Callum and James. For the latter three its been a three week trip but Bill has been with us for 8 weeks in total. We took a taxi the short distance to the airport and waited to see them off, they were just about the only passengers on the flight. The boat will certainly be quieter when they have gone and it is very sad to see them all go. 

We decided to walk to the local supermarket then get one of the “local buses” back to the boat. These buses are usually Toyota/Mitsubishi/Mazda minibuses with well worn interiors and suspension and twice as many passengers as they were designed to carry. We had avoided them to date but decided to give one a go now that we were trying to reduce our expenses.

The first buses pulled over, but we waved them on as the were clearly full. The bus didn’t move on though. The “conductor” slid open the side door, pushed a couple of passengers further inside and invited us to squeeze in. After he had gone to this trouble we felt obliged to get in. It was packed. The women sitting next to us was holding a baby in her arms, not much more that a few weeks old. The drivers of these buses all think they are on the Grand Prix circuit, but somehow the buses just take it. Still we got there intact and the fee, for whatever journey length, seems to be $1EC (20p). The taxi in the opposite direction had cost us $25EC.

Saturday 10th

In the afternoon we took the dinghy over to the Barefoot charter dock, and had a few drinks in their bar overlooking the lagoon. We got chatting to the charter skippers and base manager. They had some great stories to tell. We asked for a recommendation of where to eat and they were quick to discount the Lime n Pub, where we had been the previous day…. They also told us some of their amusing charter stories. The one that got us was that the going rate for getting pulled off a reef is $5000 US in daytime and $7000 US at night, and these are negotiated rates that they have secured. We had been unlucky to have grounded on a reef at Union Island two years before thanks to the unscrupulous actions of a local water taxi driver, but mercifully we had gotten off under our own steam as we had been motoring slowly at the time.

Sunday 11th

Time to move on again, so we sail up the coast to Wallilabou.  A great days sailing, what a shame the family had gone home. 

A couple of “boat boys” approached us two miles out of the harbour wanting to assist us with our mooring. We declined their help several times but they rowed in furiously ahead of us anyway. The guide book had warned that the boat boys in Wallilabou made it the closest thing to Calcutta in the Caribbean. As we went into the bay, We couldn’t see the hotel in the pilot book, but there seemed to be a fabulously well preserved collection of early Georgian buildings and an interesting looking fort and dock facility. We couldn’t believe our eyes.

The set of Pirates of the Caribbean

We spotted a free anchoring buoy and enlisted the help of a boat boy to take our stern line ashore and tie it to a palm tree. What followed was a huge row and lots of swearing from the earlier boat boys that we had declined. Eventually after about 30 mins of this, Allan had enough of them and had to tell them, in no uncertain terms, to get lost. 

There seemed to be hundreds of boat boys in such a tiny bay, and unlike other places we had been they all seemed to have rowing boats, or surfboards, rather than water taxis with an outboard motor.

Eventually it dawned on us that this perfect little town was in fact a movie set, the one where they filmed Pirates of the Caribbean.   When we got ashore you could see that practically everything was made of plywood and plaster. Looked good from a distance though. We will have to get the film out on DVD to see how it all looked. While waiting for customs we bumped into Steve and Karen from Trade Secret. They had a friend from London with them on the boat. We had a bit of a chat then arranged to have dinner and a few beers in the now disguised Anchorage hotel.

We had been ferried ashore by a boat boy and despite their assurances that they would be there to take us back – they weren’t. It was lucky Steve and Karen had their dingy with them and could take us back to the boat at the end of the night otherwise we would have had to have swam!

Monday 12th

One day in Wallilabou is about enough. So we set sail for the famous Pitons at the bottom of St Lucia in the company of Trade Secret. It was quite a long sail so we were very pleased to finally get there and find a free mooring buoy right between the two pitons in about 20 ft of crystal clear water. The whole area of the pitons is a national park so you are obliged to take a buoy and not anchor in case you damage the coral. On the shore is the famous and quite exclusive Jalousie hotel and high up on the hillside the Dasheene restaurant with breathtaking views of the Pitons.

Allan took a water taxi to Soufriere to clear customs, immigration and pay for the park permit. It was a wild and exciting trip flat out in the taxi with a wild and crazy Rasta at the helm. Soufriere was not the most picturesque of towns, they have some nice buildings but it has a run down feel to it. We were pleased to be in the Pitons instead.

We took a trip over to the Jalousie to see what they had to offer for a dinner. An exquisite waterfront dining room with an extensive buffet (and extensive price!) was the answer. The trouble is that buffets remind us too much of dinner at work. Now if we go out for dinner, which is a treat, we like the food to be brought to us. 

So we stepped next door to the independent Bang restaurant. Owned by the eccentric Lord Glenconner, who used to own the private island of Mustique and was big mates with all the stars and, of course, Princess Margaret. The restaurant was pretty quiet, their big jump up night is apparently Wednesdays. We had a lovely meal and Allan had, what he thinks is the best “Old Fashioned” Chocolate cake desert he has every tasted. We also had the pleasure of meeting Glenconner. He stopped by each table to meet all his guests and have a chat. He lived up to his eccentric billing as he was wearing what looked like a dressing gown, pyjamas, shades and a hat – it was 9 o’clock at night. He seemed like a nice chap and was obviously enjoying himself !

Tuesday 13th

The pitons were just so fantastic we had to stay for another day.

Bev at the Pitons

Wednesday 14th

Time to move on. This time it’s a short hop up to Marigot bay. A picture perfect “hurricane hole” where yachts shelter from bad weather and where they filmed Dr Doolittle. We managed to squeeze right up inside the inner lagoon but there was hardly room to swing a cat(amaran) and so little breeze the weather was stifling.

We took a trip ashore to find some provisions, but found none. On the way back to the boat we stopped in the Chateau Mygo cocktail bar by the shore and sampled some of their 2 for 1 rum cocktails. Allan was persuaded by the bar owner to ferry some tourists back to shore from the bars rented sailboat in return for some more free drinks and before we knew it we very quite plastered.

It was in the bar that we met Daniell, Ted and Jamie. Three charter skippers working for Moorings. They had just delivered a boat to Marigot. We ended up have dinner and a good laugh with them at the “Chateau”.

Thursday 15th  - Sunday 25th

Sailing again. Well motoring as there was very little wind.  We had volunteered to give Ted and Jamie a lift up to Rodney Bay. This meant a little extra pressure on Allan to make sure we didn’t make any horrible mistakes on the boat handling front. Everything went smoothly though and we were soon secured in the heavenly Rodney Bay marina.

Our main priority for the return to Rodney Bay was to catch up on some boat maintenance and we did a reasonable job in the end. Allan washed down the exterior of the boat and polished much of the stainless, Bev cleaned the interior up and sorted out a pile of washing. A myriad of little jobs were also completed, including an oil change and new fuel filters on the engines.

We did manage to enjoy ourselves too. On Friday we went to the famous Gros Islet street party. A main road in the town is blocked off and people dance to a DJ in the middle of the street. Vendors sell food and drinks at very cheap prices all along the road. We had been warned to watch our money and sure enough several people seemed to try and pick our pockets while we stood in the crowd. Another disturbing feature was that three different people approached us and offered us drugs  L Jamie, who was a bit of a music fan was in his element boogying around to the local sounds, if only it wasn’t other men who wanted to dance with him all the time…..

We also introduced Ted and Jamie to Razzmataz, the great Indian restaurant in Rodney Bay and we had another fantastic meal there. Ted and Jamie later made their way down to Soufriere by bus. Jamie had to get back to the UK because of a death in his family; Ted was going back to the BVIs via Antigua and was looking for some more delivery jobs. We will look out for him when we get to Tortola.

We finally also had the chance to try the Chinese restaurant. The meal was fabulous. Great crispy duck and we managed to clear everything – quite a feat given the amount we had ordered.

Warren and Judy from La Contenta came back to their boat after a skiing holiday in the rockies. We had dinner with them, and another ARC skipper Richard, in Bosuns and they told us their plan was to head for Ecuador via Grenada. It may be some time before we bump into them again.

Allan also spotted a TV celebrity on the pontoons – Les Dennis, one time host of “Family Fortunes”. They always look shorter in real life.

We had a couple of evenings with Steve & Karen of Trade Secret. They invited us along to a drink with the crew of Drake who were celebrating a birthday at the very nice Charterhouse steak house. We retired to a local karaoke bar where the beer was exceptionally cheap, the singing terrible, and we all had a good laugh at a 60 something guy trying to get off with a 25 year old 6ft tall “woman” that we were all convinced was a transvestite.

Our time in Rodney Bay was also ‘enhanced’ by several parties on board a large motor cruiser called Emerald Seas next door but one from us. They had hired a local guy to sing to their guests and play guitar. It was like having our own private band. Started off great but by about the 6th night we knew his repertoire better than he did!  

Monday 26th

We left early to get a good start for Martinique. Unfortunately the wind conspired against us. As we left the pontoon the boat was blown onto a concrete post and we picked up some scratches on the starboard side. The air was blue too  J

The sail up to Martinique was uneventful but we had to tack and eventually motor so it took longer than we would have liked. We arrived just before sunset at Marin and anchored well out from the marina beside an old ferry and tugboat.

We had a few beers and indulged in some episodes of Men Behaving Badly and Cold Feet from our DVD collection to celebrate a safe arrival.

Tuesday 27th

We landed at Marin marina to clear customs and look around. Allan was finally able to buy Bev the Christmas present he had wanted for her – a very trendy Pink Divers watch !

We had a look round the Marina chandleries, easily the best we have seen since leaving France. It was also nice to be able to buy metric nuts and bolts again. The things that make you happy ….

It was a shock to the system to see decent roads and street lighting again.

After a tramp round the village we sat down to sample a couple of cocktails at a waterside bar. They were simply the most vile Pina Coladas we have ever tasted. Bev told the waiter this, who claimed the problem was the bar man had made Pina Colatas which have no rum in them. We wanted some beers but the waiter insisted on us having another Colada. They were not as bad as the first ones but still awful. It was also an unpleasant shock to be charged over 5 euros (£3.90) for them rather that the $12EC (£2.40) for the exceptional examples at Bosuns bar in St Lucia.

Wednesday 28th

Lovely sail up to Anse Mitan, a small tourist resort across the bay from Fort de France. On the way we passed close to Pigeon Island. It is essentiality a large rock. Famously the British commissioned the island as a ship and mounted cannons on it to attack French ships. Napoleon dispatched his fleet to liberate the rock, as Pigeon Island was part of Martinique, Josephines homeland. On the way the French managed to dodge Nelson but he eventually caught up with them at Trafalgar…

We felt immediately at home in Anse Mitan. It has a large protected bay and a good anchorage, although we got a bit of swell from passing ferries. The town itself has a lovely little marina with a "Disneyfied" street full of pretty boutiques and restaurants. We saw a hummingbird buzzing round some of the flowers by the marina.

Thursday 29th

We took the ferry across to Fort de France. As far as Caribbean towns go it was fairly civilised. There were lots of cars on the roads, mostly European models and shops selling all kinds of designer gear.

We tried to get into the Fort from which the town gets its name but it was closed.

That evening Trade Secret showed up next to us and we went over there for a few beers. It turned out to be a lot of beers and wine….(well for Allan anyway!)

Friday 30th

We got up, not as early as we would have liked, for the trip up the coast of Martinique to St Pierre. But first we had to clear out for customs and immigration. Trade Secret had already left. We decided it would be less hassle for Allan to take his bike over to Fort de France on the ferry to do the paperwork. It probably would have been less hassle if the the brakes on the bike hadn’t turned out to be seized on…

St Pierre is an interesting town. It was completely devastated in 1902 when the volcano Mt Pelee literally exploded, releasing more energy than an Atomic bomb. It is one of the worst such tragedies in recorded history with 30,000 people killed. The only survivors were a cobbler who was in his cellar and a murderer called Cyparis who was in a jail cell. They subsequently pardoned Cyparis. Twelve ships at anchor in the bay were also sunk – makes you think.

Around the town there are some burned out ruins from the disaster and a small museum contains some pictures and a crushed church bell from the time.  

They are doing up the sea front and the town has a nice dock. We both liked the place.

That evening we were to discover the downside of the bay. The wind kept changing directions and all the boats anchored on the narrow shelf along the bay spun all over the place. We were forced to stay up all night doing anchor watches, so by the time morning came we were very tired.

Saturday 31st

 A new day a new country – Dominica. Back to English and the $EC. We sailed up to the capital Roseau on the south of the Island. It was a little lumpy in the channel but we did see a huge pod of dolphins and also a turtle.

On the way in we met Roots in his water taxi. We arranged to take a buoy, at a cost of $20 US for two nights, to allow us to get some decent sleep. Another $15 US was asked to run us into Customs the next day but they were not there.

There was a cruise ship in town, “Ocean Village” and lots of pale British people mulling around. Roseau has some nice traditional style buildings with both French and English colonial influences. On cruise ships days we’ve found it best to avoid many Caribbean towns because you get hassled constantly by vendors. The vendors are just trying to make a living but they cannot tell the difference between flush tourists and budget conscious yotties like us.

Sunset in Dominica

Dominica is known for its rain forests (it seems to rain a lot), 8 volcanoes, beautiful mountains and stunning waterfalls. We decide to do our first real excursion of the cruise to check out some of the interior the next day.

 

© Copyright Allan & Bev Dornan 2016