Let the new sailing season begin in Grenada Dec 5, 2019. We fly in, spend 5 days preparing the boat (uncover, wash, paint and wax) and then we launch Dec 10th! Move aboard that day, and then move the yacht around to the town of St. Georges, Grenada where we will dock Dec 11th to 16th setting up the yacht. Sails, halyards, dinghy, outboard, watermaker, and provisions. If all goes well, we plan to sail out Dec 16th for maybe Bequia where we think there is a Christmas celebration. This season will be one of simple cruising and Eastern Caribbean Explorations. Hopefully filled with many new discoveries. Final task today…PACK and get to PHL!
After our run-in with Hurricanes IRMA and MARIA in Puerto Rico and our ultimate repairs by Mack Sails and Mack Yacht Services in Stuart, FL, we were determined to push south to Grenada and store our boat safely at 12 degrees north. Since departing Annapolis Oct 2018, Clark’s Court was our destination via a delivery down the “Thorny Path” to store on the hard from June 1 to Dec 10.
Clark’s Court is an amazing boatyard and the newest one in Grenada. The entire staff is friendly and professional. Their very cool haulout system is a tractor with a massive hydraulic trailer that can handle 80,000 lbs and 70-foot boats. So our little Island Spirit at 20,000 lbs and 40 feet was like a dinghy to this rig. WOW!!
Hauled out to Land via a tractor
We have never seen this a haulout procedure quite like this. While it was going on, we went to Facebook LIVE and published a video of the entire process. It really was amazing. The skilled yard workers positioned the boat over the trailer and divers went under the boat to make sure the lifting points were in the best place. Next, the tractor driver operated the hydraulic rams, pushing the boat up and out of the water. The trailer wheels also were hydraulic and they pushed down, lifting the entire trailer up, as the boat was then pulled up the ramp. What an interesting process to watch!
Before haulout, we prepped the cover
For storing in Florida and in Puerto Rico, we covered the yacht with a 90% UV sunshade block called “Coolaroo” made by Gale Pacific. This will be the third year we have used Coolaroo to protect Island Spirit. We think it is a great product and at a cost of about $300 we feel it is worth it to keep the hot tropical sun off the boat for 6 months during storage.
This year, we made a sketch of the cover pieces and rolled the fabric out at the dock to pre-cut the 4 required pieces. Then we rolled the top pieces into long 12 foot rolls and placed them onto the deck, ready to roll out in the yard once we were blocked and stored. This was the best year ever for putting on our Coolaroo cover, because we had done it in Florida and in Puerto Rico, so we knew exactly what to do.
On the hard, Installing the cover
To install our Coolaroo 90% UV shade cover, we use black zip ties. The fabric will not tear, yet it is easy to cut with scissors. The zip ties simply push thru the weave of the fabric which allows you to connect it to the lifelines and stitch it together. We start by hanging the 6-foot x 40-foot pieces off the top lifeline. These will hang down to the waterline. This takes about an hour or less to hang the sides.
Next, we roll out the top bow piece and zip tie it to the front of the pulpit. We precut around the staysail and jib and bring it back together in front of the forestay. Now we simply pull the top back to the mast and zip it tight to the mast. Next, we work from the bow coming aft to secure the top over the lifelines. We reach over the sides and zip the top to the sides and continue to the midship shrouds.
Coolaroo DOES lower the temperature
The cooling effect of placing the yacht into the shade of this amazing fabric is very noticeable. We choose the heavier grade of Coolaroo rated at a 90% UV sunblock, yet it allows wind and rain thru the open weave of the fabric. To check how well it really works, we used a temperature gun and took readings of the deck temperature under the Coolaroo vs the deck temperature in the direct sun. We also checked the inside temperature of the boat, and it was matching the ambient air temperatures. Look at these readings; Coolaroo works!
Prep Below deck
When we put the boat away, we pull all the halyards and store them below to protect them from UV damage for 6 months. We flush the engine with Salt-Away to push out all the seawater. All clothing and linens are packed in vacuum bags to prevent mold. We wipe down all the walls with vinegar and water solution to cut away any salt that may be on the walls. We empty all the lockers and all the food we give way to others. Then we close up the boat and deploy 4 SunPac mildewcide packs that will take out all the O2 and prevent mold and mildew. This is our first time using them instead of large DampRid containers. We hope they work as well as reported; we won’t find out til we return in Dec.
Finish Up the Coolaroo Cover
To finish the cover on Day 2, we add tie-down lines to the side drops and pulled these down under the yacht to the other side drop, pulling them as tight as we could. When the sun cover is finished, it is bar tight and will not flap or tear from the wind. We will leave this up in a hurricane, but here we will NOT have any more hurricanes, we hope!
We are HAPPY
After 5 days in the marina room and preparing and storing the boat, we are happy to be taking a break and heading home to “Saltbox 13” or “Club FRED” as we call our house. I found this cool shirt for Radeen becuase she is always a positive, happy, motivated Girl, and I love her for that!
Our latitude and longitude: 12 degrees 25 minutes by 61 degrees 31 minutes…..LAND HO, Grenada, there she is as we sail around Kick Em Jenny and into the lee of the island. Kick Em Jenny is an underwater volcano which last erupted in July 2015. It rises 4300 ft. above the sea floor and is 600 ft. below the surface. There is a maritime exclusion zone and a website that shares the current level of seismic activity. The bubbles of gas from an eruption can cause a sinking hazard. We gave it plenty of room!
Radeen and I left Annapolis Maryland after the 2018 boat show and now, May 18, 2019, we have Grenada over our bow. What a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. No, we did not cross an ocean, (not yet). No, we did not sail offshore directly to get here via the Caribbean 1500. We did the “Thorny Path” for a second time, and here we are. Proud and Happy! Check out this picture of the GPS data and note we are sailing at 7.4 knots of speed around Kick Em Jenny.
Caribbean Sailing is the Best
Ahhh, St. George’s, Grenada
Radeen and I both agree we love anchoring off towns and taking the dinghy into explore, walk, and discover great towns. Dropping the anchor off St. George’s was a real joy after being in so many smaller towns on smaller islands. This is like Manhattan for the Caribbean Islands. WOW. What a wonderful town this is and we look forward to fully discovering it next year.
Living off Grenada
Many cruisers move south to Grenada for protection from hurricanes which can develop during the summer and fall months. June to November are the months to be safely anchored in Grenada. St. George’s is one of many places to be anchored. With an easy dinghy ride to town and many dinghy docks, this was an easy place to live. Add in Grand Anse Beach just a mile down the coast and we loved it. This is our kind of place to live on a boat. Full town services and a calm safe anchorage off a beautiful beach. Perfection.
We left Happy Island off Union Island and sailed over to Petit St. Vincent which has one of the most amazing beaches in the lower Caribbean Sea. Anchored there for the night with a morning beach walk, we pulled up anchor and moved on south to Carriacou Island. This was a great place to stage up for the last leg to Grenada. Carriacou has a very large harbor and it is also the place to check into Grenada. So, it was here on this island that we officially reached our goal of sailing to Grenada. GOAL ACCOMPLISHED selfie photo required!
Sail Around a Volcano!
WHAT? That is right, we had not read about this but our great buddy boat FEZYWIG alerted us to this navigational risk. On the leg from Carriacou to Grenada, you need to sail west of KICKEM JENNY, the semi-active underwater volcano. The reason this is a boating risk is that if it erupts it will send gas bubbles up to the surface. These gas bubbles will cause a boat to sink (along with the crew) immediately due to the lost displacement as the boat can not float in bubbles. Yikes. So we happily sailed west of this area and stayed well away from our first underwater volcano. Here is the route we ran and where Kickem Jenny is located.
The Sailing is the Best
One of the reasons every boater dreams of sailing south to the Caribbean Sea is because of the tradewinds. These are always blowing 20 to 25 knots from a direction of 080 or 090 or 100 and then the only other variable is 15-20-25 knots. Usually, it is more 20-25 than 15-20. That means we have mostly sailed with a double reefed main, a full 110% jib and a full staysail. The Island Packet 35 loves 20-25 knots and when reaching or close reaching we simply reef the main and let her run. Island Spirit is a fantastic sailing boat and we really enjoy the ride. Here are some sailing photos from this last leg.
Anchored off Grenada
St. George’s is the main town on the southwest side of Grenada. Cruisers anchor off the town near Grand Anse Beach. With the sun setting behind you to the west and the high island hills to the East, it makes for a wonderful place to drop the hook. From here we discovered St. George’s and the wonderful people of Grenada.
Goal Accomplished! 3,000 nm and 13 countries!
We cannot express how happy and proud we are that we actually made it to Grenada. People were placing bets that we would not make it all the way south after our hurricane rebuild and having to start over. Add to that, we sailed back to Annapolis MD and started there when we could have left the boat in Florida after Colin Mack’s team rebuilt our boat. But, we wanted to sail, so we sailed from Stuart Florida north to Annapolis, MD in the spring of 2018. Then we sailed back south to Florida, Bahamas, Turks, DR, PR, USVI, BVI, St. Barths, Antigua, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Illes de Saints, Martinique, St. Lucia, Bequia, Tobago Cays, Union, Carriacou and Grenada! Dreams do come true, we are so lucky.
Departing Tobago Cays, we sailed downwind a very short distance west to Union Island where a man named Janti built “Happy Island.” This is similar to the island off the Bitter End Yacht Club in the BVI’s called Saba Rock. Saba actually was a rock that was expanded dramatically, but HAPPY ISLAND did not exist before. Janti created the island by piling up conch shells on the reef. WHAT? Yes, he gathered up conch shells tossed away from the harvest of the conch. Next, he hauled and piled these shells up until he had enough area to build a small shade building. Eventually, this grew and grew and grew into what is now Happy Island with a complete house and bar with a dinghy dock, palm trees, picnic tables, and large speakers for party music. Happy Island is the place to stop on Union Island, it is right in the middle of the reef! Look at these photos over the years!
A walk around Union Island
In order to leave for Grenada, one must check out of the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. That requires a stop on Union Island at the Customs and Immigration offices at the airport or at the local town’s office building. The local office will charge an overtime fee if you request services over lunch or on a weekend. We stopped in at 1205 and decided to walk the town until early afternoon and spend the overtime fee on ice cream instead. Union Island is a busy little town with street vendors, gift shops, bakery, grocery store, banks, and a coffee and ice cream shop. Of course, we hit Gypsy Soul, the coffee and ice cream shop above the Captain Gourmet.
Union Island, the town of Clifton, is the home of all the hard-working people who run boats over to Tobago Cays. They sell bread, fish, jewelry, collect trash and they created a Beach BBQ for cruisers and charterers. The trip from Union is about 7 nm in small homemade wooden boats with outboards. Supporting these industrious people at their BBQ is well worth the $40 US, including transportation from your boat in their boats. The menu is a choice of chicken, fish, or ribs with vegetables, rice and bread served family style. They all work so hard to make it a special event for the cruising boaters. Then after running the Beach BBQ, they make the crossing across open ocean waters to Union Island late at night. Thank you CLIFTON, we will be back.
Where is Happy Island?
Zoom Into our Travel Map Here
Thank you for sailing along with us, we really enjoy sharing this adventure with our friends and family.
Tobago Cays, south of Bequia, is a National Marine Park managed and protected by the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Several islands surrounded by a large fringing reef make this a top sailing destination. Cruisers anchor behind the reef with nothing to the east except Africa. Behind the reef is a sandy bank only 10-20 feet deep. One of the islands has become a Green Turtle nesting area. The area is now fully protected. It is one place where you can easily swim with large sea turtles and watch and listen as they feed on the seagrass floor. We spent two nights and three days here and swam with turtles every day. It was the highlight of our trip south so far!
Photo Essay of Tobago Cays
We are living a DREAM
We wrote down this sailing goal in 1996. Now, in 2019, it has become a reality and it is better than expected. That makes it all even more special. In 1996, we said we would retire in 2011, and set sail, and we did. We are very happy with the outcome and reflect every day how fortunate we are to be here. Our hearts are full of gratitude!
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Also, when looking at the tracking map, switch the layer to AERIAL and you will see the reefs and the sandy beaches and the islands.
After two wonderful days in Marigot Bay on St. Lucia, we set sail for Bequia, passing St. Vincent. Sadly, many cruisers skip St. Vincent because of the bad experiences we all have had on that island. The only place we might stop is Blue Lagoon Marina on the south side, as for the other harbors, we sailed past. Bequia, the next island south, has Admiralty Harbor, a dream harbor where the boat boys do NOT bother you and the locals welcome you and want you to stop in. Every cruiser you meet down here LOVES Bequia, and so do we. It was a joy to sail back here for the first time since 1991 and see this great harbor doing so well.
Walking the town
The waterfront is well managed and is alive with all the businesses centered around the very active ferry dock. These ferry docks are where all the products arrive and where all the tourists arrive as well. So there are taxis, fruit stands, gift stands, banks and customs and immigration. On our first walk we went into the St. Mary’s Anglican Church from 1828.
The entire waterfront has a concrete seawall with a walkway designed and built to move the people along the harbor. Along this path, there are many dinghy docks for boaters to tie up and to enjoy a coffee shop or pizza shop or fine restaurant. What a great idea to help the boaters with a place to tie up and explore. This walkway is well over 1 1/2 miles long.
Great Restaurants on the harbor
Boaters LOVE pizza and ice cream and Mac’s is the place to stop in and enjoy a great meal. Of course, this was our first stop on night #1 in Bequia.
Grenadine Sails and Canvas, Chaps in a Day
As much as we thought we would never add chaps to the dinghy, we have watched our 2007 AB dinghy take a beating in the tropical sun. The fabric was starting to deteriorate and we felt that if we added the chaps as so many boaters do, then it should last two to three more years. So, we called Grenadine Sails and Canvas on VHF. They said to come in now and we will take the pattern on the beach. That was Friday and by Monday afternoon we had them installed.
Chaps are made differently here. Usually, they are designed to go over the rub rail but that will simply chafe thru as we hit docks and pilings. So these chaps stop above the rub rail and then holes are drilled in the rub rail to tie down the chaps. Interesting idea. At first I did not like it, but it really is a good way to make and install chaps.
Fruits and Veggies abound
There are no shortages of fruits and veggies down here. The bananas are to die for, with so many different kinds. There are passion fruit, mangos, grapefruits, oranges, papayas, and much more. The street vendors sell everything, and we do mean EVERYTHING!
Dinghy Docks abound
Bequia caters to the to cruising boaters and they are very smart to make their waterfront so friendly to the boaters. There must be 6 dinghy docks like this along the waterfront. Here is Whale Boners and Frangipani.
For Jan and Al
Our good friends sent us a picture of the two of them on these chairs when they cruised into here years ago, so we needed to send them our photo. Thank you, Jan and Al, wish you were here aboard Coral Moon, too.
The South End of the Bay
We anchored right off this area on the south end of the harbor. What a view from on shore at the beach pub named Jack’s.
Fun on the LaaDeeDah, 65 foot Grand Banks
We met up with Gary and Betty owners of the 65 foot LaaDeeDah Yacht, a beautiful Grand Banks 65 footer. They invited us over several times to enjoy their company and their wonderful yacht. Having a happy hour up on the third floor of a 65 footer is like nothing we all have ever experienced. WOW, the view is amazing. But better yet, Gary and Betty make us feel so welcome, with lively conversations. Betty is such a fantastic chef. From delicious appetizers with great cocktails to fine dining on the aft deck with comfortable deck chairs, these were evenings to remember. Thank you, Gary and Betty, what a joy! We look forward to seeing you next season!
The LaaDeeDah, 65 ft Grand Banks
Bequia is a JOY
With all the services and support and a wonderful harbor that is safe and secure along with a town that wants boaters to stay, this all makes Bequia a real joy. Many boaters will spend weeks and even months here and make it a home. We can really see why. We love Bequia….
See our Travel Map here
Zoom in and Zoom out to see our entire trip from Annapolis, MD (Sept 22 to here!)
During our taxi tour around St. Lucia, the driver stopped at beautiful Marigot Bay. In November 1991, we chartered a 50-foot Moorings bareboat there with our dear friends Freddie, Gail, Scott, Barley, Craig and Wendy and we have not been back since. When we arrived by cab and walked around the newly built resort, we knew we had to sail here and spend a day or two. So, we checked out of Rodney Bay Marina and headed south along the coast, an easy sail of just 10 miles. Traveling in the lee of these islands, we find winds from the North, South, and West and if we are lucky, maybe East. The winds in the lee are so unpredictable. To really sail, it is best to be miles off the island, out of the wind shadow, where the winds come back down to the sea, steady and easterly.
Look at this happy sailor girl Radeen inside the harbor at Marigot with the resort to our starboard bow and palm trees off our stern. Memories of being here in 1991 flood our minds and we reflect on how lucky we are to now have sailed into Marigot on our own little Island Packet 35. Thank you ISLAND SPIRIT, you got us here….
Let’s take a look around
Much has changed since 1991, and yet, some of the places were still easily recognizable. DOOLITTLE’S is the same and we remember a really good time here. with our dear friends. We felt so remote, so wild and so far from home. With a poorly equipped and poorly provisioned Moorings 51 footer, we sailed out and south to Tobago Cays and Union Island and up to St. Vincent. It felt as if we had sailed to the moon and back. Here is a photo of Doolittle’s and the place where the Moorings base was located. We stayed in the hillside villas.
What did they build?
The other side of the harbor, which was just a ferry dock to get across the cove to Doolittle’s now has a 5-star resort, called the Marigot Marina and Resort. WOW, 5 restaurants, bars, spas, rum caves, grocery stores, gift shops, and swimming pools that waterfall into each other with swim-up bars and sushi chefs. We were amazed at what they have built! This is also a destination wedding resort and the day before there was a wedding so we could see the fresh floral arches and other decorations. We love boating into these kinds of places where we can either anchor out or take a mooring ball for only $30/night. With a mooring ball here comes full access to the resort. NOW you are talking! So, we stayed for two days. 🙂
Radeen loves pools
Of course, Radeen hit the pool right away. She loves to swim and she loves to do laps. All Pisces love the water and Radeen is here to prove that. We nearly had the place to ourselves as May 7 is towards the end of the cruising season and the resort was moderately occupied.
Meanwhile, back on the boat
Sunsets from the boat were a dream through the palm trees off our stern. The winds are always EAST so the sunset is always off the stern in the Caribbean when at anchor. Our daily routine is to enjoy the sunset while sipping an icy cold drink when the sky presents the many colorful hues as night falls.
The next morning I swam around the boat and cleaned up the boot stripe and the thru hulls and then went for a walk on the beach. Living on a sailboat is so simple, so peaceful (when all systems are working) and so different than living in a home.
Reflect on Life
With this cruising lifestyle, one really takes time to reflect on life and to take in nature and the beauty of a sunset. It is such a joy to see a sunset drop over the horizon and then watch for another hour as the sky darkens and the colors change. We find the time after the sunset is actually better than the sunset itself. Take time to watch a sunset this way and you will enjoy a small piece of the sailing and cruising lifestyle. Thank you Marigo, St. Lucia, for this reflection.
After stocking up on French wine and delicious cheeses, we finally pulled up the anchor off lovely St. Anne, Martinique and sailed south to St. Lucia. We needed a slip where we could lower our wind turbine and troubleshoot the wire connections. On the north end of St. Lucia, there is the perfect place to dock and that is Rodney Bay Marina. This is the primary destination for the World ARC sailors as they arrive from Europe. We can now see why. Rodney Bay Marina is 5-star top notch IGY marina with 50 foot floating slips which worked perfectly for us.
First the sailing. Once again the sailing south was a joy. Beam reaching in 20 knots just like the last several legs south has been a dream. Here are a few photos….
Docked at Rodney Bay
We sailed into Rodney Bay Marina to access a dock, as we needed to look into an apparent wiring short in the wind turbine. Little did we know that this marina had floating docks and full-length finger piers of 50 feet. PERFECT for the job we needed to do. Our request to dock to starboard was easily accommodated. The dock hands were fantastic in assisting and everyone we met was so helpful and kind.
Lowering the wind turbine pole to the dock went smoothly. I designed the mount to do exactly this in the case we would ever need to access the machine. We unbolted the two down struts and loosened the bottom bracket so it would hinge. We have not taken it down this way before, so it was a new process and we were pleased with how well it all worked out.
Re-wire the Wind Turbine
Since arriving in Antigua, we have been troubleshooting the turbine shorting out. This short would only happen on a port tack at about 20-30 degrees off dead ahead. When shorted, the electromagnetic brake would come on and the turbine would power down. When back to straight ahead, the turbine worked fine. So we wanted to find this shorted wire and document this for the company, Jeff Fields at MarineBeam.
We removed the turbine off the pole, inspected all the wires and even cut the wires off, removing perfect crimps and heat shrink. We checked all internal wires, taking the turbine totally apart. I sent photos Jeff which showed nothing chafed or disconnected. We could not find any issues. We reassembled the unit and made new crimps and added new heat shrink and reinstalled the turbine. Now it is working just fine once again. How odd, we never found a problem, but we are glad it is back to normal operation once again.
While docked, Let’s Wax
With the wind turbine fixed and back up, we decided to spend a few days servicing the boat. We have not been at a dock since early March at Samana, Dominican Republic, and our boat was looking neglected. The constant exposure to salt and sun really takes a toll. The cabin top needed to be compounded and waxed, the stainless steel needed to be polished (again!) and the teak needed a service coat of varnish.
Hello, SHERMAN! Yes, we met up with a very nice local man who works around the marina as a subcontractor, like so many others. We really liked him. He offered to help us with any and all jobs. Let’s get to work! We hired him to compound and wax the cabin top and the cockpit and then clean and polish the stainless steel. With the front sunshade up, Sherman worked on wax and I worked on teak. Two days later the boat was back to her beautiful self, clean and waxed and looking great. We highly recommend Sherman at Rodney Bay Marina if you need any help.
We took a small tour
One of the boats we are running with is a 65 foot Grand Banks called the LaaDeeDah. Betty and Gary were docked at Rodney Bay and we enjoyed time together, including a great cocktail party on their beautiful yacht up on the third floor roof deck. WOW, what a view and what a yacht! Together we hired a taxi to show us a few sights. We toured Castries, Marigot and the beach at the Sandals resort in Rodney Bay. St. Lucia is very large and we only saw a small part of the island. The driver also took us to the large Massey Supermarket, which was like a Costco.
On a Saturday, we rode a local bus (a privately owned mini-van) to and from the Mall. The shoppers were a mix of locals and cruisers from nearby anchorages. On days when there are 5 cruise ships in port, it must be very busy!
Eventually, we Need to Move on
After a full week, (we had intended to stay 2-3 days) we really needed to break free of this dock and marina. It was not the rate, as it was a reasonable $0.75/ft x 35 feet is only $26.25 a day to dock! YES, that is a deal, and it was why we stayed a week and worked on cleaning up the boat. But there is so much more to see. On our taxi tour, we saw MARIGOT and we knew we had to go there by boat. So, we celebrated our completed work with a happy hour drink at one of the many pubs and cafes and made a plan to move on.
Onward to MARIGOT, St. Lucia
The last time we were in Marigot was November 1991, when we chartered a 50 ft mono-hull from the Moorings with friends Craig and Wendy, Scott and Barley and Freddie and Gail. Wait until you see what has been built at Marigot, St. Lucia now…..next post!
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Hayden and Radeen in Bequia, trying to catch up on the blog.
After spending only one night in Dominica, which we will fully explore next season, we sailed south to St. Pierre on the northwest corner of Martinique. This was known as the Paris of the Caribbean for its culture, theater, and refinement. It was destroyed on May 8, 1902, when Mt. Pelee erupted, killing the entire population of 30,000 people instantly. The only survivor was in a stone prison cell. Next year, we will explore the ruins and the museum.
Like so many Caribbean Islands, Martinique was charted by Columbus and has a colorful history from the Arawak and Caribe Indians to the British to the French. Columbus first charted this island in 1493 and later sailed back in here in 1502. He named the island Martinica after the sister island Dominica. It was not until the end of the Napoleonic Wars that Britain handed Martinique over to France. Interesting to note when slavery was abolished in 1848, many former slaves chose to fish and farm rather than work for their former masters. The plantations imported East Indian laborers in order to continue. Martinique remains a department of France and, as French citizens, the people may move to and from France freely.
The Island is divided into 4 main government sections. St. Pierre, Fort De France, Le Marin, La Trinite. After leaving St. Pierre, we anchored off the southeast point in the town of St. Anne and fell in love with the location. This could be our favorite harbor of the entire trip so far. It is a calm, easy anchorage in sand 10 – 20 feet deep, with a great dinghy dock, and a wonderful little French town. Here is a map of Martinique.
Our Anchorage view
The Town of St. Anne
Anchoring off St. Anne is a dream. We can see our anchor, the harbor has no swell, and the wind blows from the town out to sea. There were over 100 yachts on anchor here and we can see why. The French live well! At the dinghy dock is trash and recycle drop off bins plus a public area with a playground, park benches and a plaza under shade trees. The beautiful church is straight in from the dock. The coffee shop and bakery and grocery stores are just a block away. This is a great location!
Touring the Banana Plantation
We rented a car for two days from Theviein at Madinina Loc’Auto in downtown St. Anne. Excellent service! Our first stop was Habitation Belfort. While we rode a train through the fields, our guide narrated in French and English. We learned so much! A banana plant will produce one bunch per year. The banana weevil is controlled by putting out one dish of soapy water per acre. If more than 15 weevils are caught in 2 weeks, then more dishes are distributed. The bananas grown in Martinique and Guadeloupe are exported solely to France. This was a very fun tour with rolling hills and miles of vistas. Afterwards, we tasted banana chips, dried bananas and banana wine.
Touring the Rum Plantations
Our first rum distillery was Habitation Clement. With an excellent 2 hour self-guided audio tour, we saw the process of growing and harvesting sugar cane and processing it into varieties of rum. We were amazed to learn about the “Angel’s Share” which is 8% per year that is lost to evaporation. You could smell this in the air and warning signs of explosions were posted in the aging buildings! We took very deep breaths in there 🙂 We toured the airy and comfortable 100 year old plantation home in the middle of 160 acres overlooking the rolling hills. The next day, we toured the Trois Rivieres Rhum Plantation first established in 1660 and enjoyed their “rhum” even more. Martinique is very interesting and we have so much more to discover!
What makes Martinique so wonderful?
Martinique is charming and very clean. The schools and other public buildings are better maintained than what we have seen on the English Islands. The roads are amazing, with freshly painted lines and excellent signs. The busy four-lane highway leading to the capital of Fort de France has many traffic circles with no tolls and no red lights. And then there is the food, the cheese, yogurt, and the wine is totally Irresistible, not to mention the bakeries.
We will return to Martinique
My sailing buddy and dear friend Reuben would love the little ice cream parlors which are everywhere. These alone are worth sailing back to Martinique for, but we also know there is so much history to learn and so many more tours tp take and more wonderful anchorages to enjoy. One thing is for sure, we really like the French Islands and their way of life.
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Hayden and Radeen in St. Lucia, trying to catch up on the blog.