Marie-Galante Carnival

Radeen says today was her favorite of this season! With the weather calm for several days, we sailed 3 legs from Martinique to Dominica to Marie-Galante, on the southeast side of Guadeloupe. It can be very difficult to reach here in usual east winds of 20-25 knots. With a large weather front up north causing high winds in Florida and the Bahamas, our trade winds have been pulled to the south and suppressed. Luckily for us, we rented the last car available in St. Louis and went to a restored sugar plantation and then to the island’s annual Carnival celebration! 

My favorite Carnival photos

Woy Mi Mas Carnival parade on Marie-Galante Jan 25, 2020
Woy Mi Mas is the Carnival celebration on Marie-Galante, January 25, 2020

Enjoy our 27 best of 300 photos taken!

Habitation Murat and Woy Mi Mas

Marie-Galante was discovered on Columbus’ second voyage and he named it after one of his ships. The country side is small rolling hills of beautiful farmland raising sugar cane, bananas and cattle. As with larger French islands, roads are excellent and easy to navigate. Though there are vacant buildings in disrepair, we saw no poverty. The 12,000 residents obviously work hard. They can travel to the mainland of Guadeloupe via frequent daily ferries. We met several Guadeloupe residents who had traveled here for the weekend to watch the MG jet ski races.

Habitation Murat is a restored sugar plantation south east of Grand Bourg, a 20 minute drive from St. Louis. Though 90% of the information on the signs was in French, we learned a great deal about how sugar cane was produced using power from windmills. At one time there were more than 100. Now, there are 50 modern windmills on the east side,  producing electricity for the island.

Carnival is celebrated year round in the Caribbean. We were very fortunate to attend the annual Woy Mi Mas celebration in Grand Bourg. We stumbled on a traditional Ka drumming demonstration in the morning and enjoyed the market, where Radeen bought two new hats. Local street food vendors were making fish fritters and hand-cranked ice cream and selling home made baked goods. At 3:45, the parade scheduled for 2:00, finally began at the ferry terminal. 25 bands from Marie-Galante and Guadeloupe participated in the long parade. The band featured in our YouTube and Instagram video was celebrating their 40th anniversary. We estimate 95% of the crowd to be locals. It was all very festive and we felt welcome. It was exciting to be part of their enthusiasm!

Where is Marie-Galante?

Live Garmin Tracking Map…when we move, this updates

https://share.garmin.com/islandspirit

 

Sailing to Marie Galante

Making water while sailing to Marie Galante east of Guadeloupe on Island Spirit while under B&G autopilot sailing to a given wind angle. We thought there would be no wind, so we left the mainsail zipped in the stack pack. Well, there was a perfect 12-15 knot beam wind so we unfurled the jib and staysail.

We are never disappointed with the sailing capabilities of our Island packet 35. There tends to be this idea that these boats, Island Packet Yachts,  do not sail well, when they really sail very well.  No, it is not a J-Boat, but it sails well and it is comfortable.

Enjoy this short 3 minute video.

Our YouTube Channel

We have posted short videos for over ten years, if you want to see others, please check out our channel. Please like and subscribe as well.

https://www.youtube.com/user/IslandSpirit35/videos

Martinique Dreams

We sailed into Martinique from St. Lucia where we always enjoy Marigot Marina and Resort. We only stayed two days there as we wanted to run the weather window to reach Martinique. The reason we ran for this French island is because Chris Parker was forecasting high winds and large swells and that everyone would be stuck and not able to move for maybe two weeks. We said, “if we are going to be stuck for two weeks, then it will be on a French Island!” HA HA, so off to Martinique we sailed. Check out this fantastic sailing day, I created these two short video clips and posted to our YouTube channel here:

Sailing St. Lucia to Martinique video #1

Fantastic Caribbean Sailing, video#2

St. Anne, Martinique

The most popular harbor is the anchorage on the south east side. This harbor has over 200 yachts on anchor and there is room for another 200 at least. The water depth is 10-20 feet, the bottom is sand and the holding is really good. Add to this, the town is cute with a beautiful church, bakery, grocery stores, cafes, crepe shops, gift shops and bus stops. Fresh fish can be bought at the fish market and all the fresh produce you need at the open air market. Cappuccinos daily, and beautiful sunsets, and you can imagine how difficult this place would be to leave. We stayed 10 days and could have stayed another 10. Here are a few photos:

Our first walk around St. Anne, Island Spirit is out there
Our beach is an easy dinghy ride 1/4 mile off our bow
St. Anne dinghy dock and waterfront
St. Anne waterfront
Grocery shopping is a joy in the French Islands
Plenty of fresh items all the time

We rented a car, off to Fort de France

With the high winds blowing, we decided to rent a car and drive the 1 hour to Fort de France. There we wanted to check out the waterfront and the town as well as the information to tour the fort. After our first run over the city, we did this again with boat buddies Fran and Butch on MY SMARTINI. We all four loved the tour of the fort and our walk around town as well as our fine savory crepes at La Savane, a wonderful street cafe,. So French. 

St. Louis Cathedral, Fort de France
Great times with boat buddies Fran and Butch of SMARTINI
The Fort de France anchorage as seen from atop the fort
Fort Saint Louis, at Fort de France

Anchored off d’Arlet, so cute

Moving north, we stopped into Grand Anse D’Arlet and walked the town and over the hill to the next town. These are small beach front villages where locals as well as French residents fly in for a week of beach and snorkeling and diving. The towns are spotless, very cute and very laid back. Coffee shops, bakeries, cafes, pubs, and small grocery stores are so common in these harbors. They are wonderful places to drop the anchor and simply enjoy the high quality of French life.

Sunsets are a daily joy

Mt. Pelee, Saint Pierre

Our final stop heading north was the interesting harbor of St. Pierre where in 1902, the volcano Mount Pelee, erupted and killed 29,000 people.  St. Pierre was known as the “Paris of the Caribbean.” Ships were sailing here from France in 15 day crossings, rounding the north end of Martinique and sailing into this harbor. The ships would drop off passengers, basic and luxurious fabrics and household goods and then load up with sugar, rum and tobacco and sail back.

The amount of trading was massive and the plantation owners were millionaires, and so it was, they build a thriving town on the slopes of an active volcano. St. Pierre was wealthy enough to have 12 jewelers and watchmakers! The three story theatre seated 800 people and was in active use for more than 150 years. It had marble floors that can still be seen in the ruins. The beautiful new museum was completed in 2019. We were fascinated to see many artifacts discovered after the explosion, such as porcelain plates fused together, a collapsed (but not melted) church bell and a distorted (but not broken) light bulb!

St. Pierre is so different. There are prosperous businesses but also many buildings that seem closed.
Climbing up to the volcano museum among remains of charred stones
400c to 1000c temperatures burned the town and killed 29,000 people in seconds
A dove of peace overlooks the ruins atop a cannon
St. Pierre is so interesting with the old and the new

The Map of Martinique

With constant east tradewinds, all the good harbors are on the west side. Never a cold front and rarely a wind change

Onward to DOMINICA, then Marie Gallante, then Guadeloupe, then Antigua! The weather is calm and we are running north as fast as we can. In general, ts easy to sail south, but harder to run north in the winter.

Here is our tracking map, LIVE DATA. When we move, this updates.
https://share.garmin.com/islandspirit

 

Bequia Hikes

We have been enjoying Bequia while here thru Christmas and New Year’s.  IP 38 DreamCatcher, Kim and Dean, organized hikes around beautiful Bequia.  They have been here for several seasons and based here most of last season. So, they know the island very well and have hiked many of the peaks and trails. We are grateful to them for planning and including us on these adventures. Our last hike took us up to 700 feet in elevation above sea level and provided a beautiful view north to St. Vincent. Imagine, at 10 feet per flight of stairs, this would equal 70 flights up and 70 flights down!

Our hiking team atop Spring Hill looking north to St. Vincent.

Our first hike

Our first hike was to Sugar Hill. Along the way, we could look back down into the harbor and see our anchored boats. This hike was on paved roads and with switchbacks and hills that were super steep. The views were incredible and the exercise well needed as living on a boat tends to be lazy. So, we appreciate these hikes and the work-outs they provide.

The hike to Sugar Hill from the harbor provides a great view down to the anchored yachts.
Looking northwest into Admiralty Bay, Bequia
Our lil Island Packet 35 on anchor. It is the boat in the bottom center.

Our second hike was to Fort Hamilton

The hike out to Fort Hamilton is a much easier hike as we walked along the water’s edge to the point, then climbed the paved roads up and out to the ruins of the fort, named for Alexander Hamilton who was born on Nevis. This also provided a different view, looking east back into Admiralty Bay, Bequia, where we are anchored to the far southeast of the harbor, north of Jack’s Beach Bar.

Easy hike along the water to Fort Hamilton
Fran and Radeen strike a pose at Fort Hamilton
Radeen points to our boat, way over there
There we are, the top center, the small boat that is NOT white!
Fort Hamilton protected the harbor from American privateers and the French
Yes, it is named after Alexander Hamilton!

The third hike to 700 Feet

This hike was the marathon and Dean kept telling us to take our time, it was not a sprint, but a marathon. It took us about an hour and half to climb from the harbor up to the overlook at Spring Hill. This overlook is at an elevation of 700 feet, proven by several altimeters we all had on our phones! Most of it was on paved roads but some of the hike was on a shaded trail along a ridge. We stopped at an interesting pottery studio along the way. At the top, there is a small picnic pavilion and an overlook north to St. Vincent. This was well worth the effort.

The Hike up to SPRING HILL overlook at 700 feet
Keep pushing UP HILL all the way, hot and humid
Looking north to St. Vincent
Required selfie atop the 700 foot overlook
Our team: PRISM, DREAMCATCHER and SMARTINI atop the 700 foot hill with St. Vincent in the back ground. Notice the windjammer, STAR CLIPPER, under full sail. She later anchored in the harbor near us.
Going down hill was tough on the knees. Some hills, like this one, were so steep that we walked diagonally back and forth to save our knees. If you fall, it would be a long, long roll straight to the bottom.

The Reward, FIREFLY

After reaching the peak, we turned downhill to the other side of the island and enjoyed lunch at THE FIREFLY RESORT.  This was a wonderful plan and a real treat especially with the swimming pool for cooling off after lunch. Radeen LOVES to swim in pools and she got her laps in after a few plantation punches and chicken and tuna curry lunch with callaloo soup, sauteed red cabbage, diced pumpkin, rice with pigeon peas and tiny yeast rolls with cornmeal  in them.

Arrival at Firefly, YES YES YES….food, rum, and a pool
Sunday lunch of curried chicken or tuna, plus plantation punches in those cool bottles. The crew of CLARITY met us there.
Radeen swimming laps after lunch, while I hydrate with a plantation punch and count her laps for her, 🙂

Thank you Dean and Kim

Thank you to our friends on Island Packet 38, Kim and Dean, for organizing these hikes. Bequia is a wonderful island for lingering, as the people are so kind and they really want cruisers to be here.  The harbor is well protected and there are dinghy docks at many locations. Cafes, pizza shops, pubs, beaches, grocery stores and laundry services. The snorkeling is great, too. What is not to like? That is why we skipped a great weather window on January 1  to stay here longer. Next, we will like to Bequia Head at the northernmost tip of the island.

Our team with the owners of La Plage on the right. We had a delicious lunch there after the hike to Fort Hamilton.

More photos around Bequia

Enjoy these last few photos. I have hundreds, so will share a few of the best. I have taken over 2,000 photos since Dec. 4th. It is so beautiful here!

Radeen with the cactus at Fort Hamilton
Yes, it is arid enough here for cactus
A small abandoned home above the harbor, Most homes are very well kept.
Returning home to Island Spirit after a great hiking day
Enjoying the sunset off Bequia from our cockpit