Journey South from Martinique to St. Lucia, Windward Islands

4th June - 9th June 2002

Dominica to Martinique, 4th June:


Even the local fishermen in Dominica thought we were mad when we were up at 5 am to head for Martinique.   Some motorsailing and some sailing (yippee).   While we were scooting along at 7 knots, Phil caught and lost a fish, which took his lure with it!    

We headed for Saint Pierre in the north of Martinique, a town devastated by a major volcanic eruption in 1902, when 30,000 people were killed.   Apparently the authorities knew an eruption was threatened but with an election coming up, didn't want to evacuate the town and lose votes.   Well they lost plenty in the end!   The only survivors in the town were a prisoner, safely locked up in jail and a cobbler who was working in his cellar.    Everyone else was wiped out.  The town is an interesting mix of ruins which have never been demolished or rebuilt, mixed with new buildings.   

Christine spent a pleasant hour in the launderette, chatting in French to a local lady, who seemed to have the washing for her whole village with her (probably did).    Communications were tricky as her French and Christine's French didn't seem to be the same but it was fun trying!

As in all French islands we were kept awake by a political speech, in which no one seemed particularly interested.   This one was better, for some unknown reason, at least they played a lot of lively Cuban music.  Perhaps a party political broadcast for the communist party???



St. Pierre, Martinique

Di & Graham wondering why they volunteered for 300 miles of beating to windward.


St. Pierre to Fort de France, Martinique, 5th June:

We were up early again, which was lucky as we spotted the fantastic fruit, veg and fish market on the quayside and went ashore to check it out.   The ladies on the stalls were very friendly and the lady we bought some red snapper from, took us to another stall to show us what our mystery "thazard" was.  Turns out to be marlin, doesn't sound as exotic though, does it?  More time in St. Pierre would definitely be justified next time.

We set out for Fort de France, capital of Martinique and on our way were accompanied for a while by a school of dolphin using our boat as a plaything.    We decided to call in at Fort de France as Diane and Graham were considering flying to St. Lucia for their return flight to the States and spending the rest of their visit in Martinique.   Two things disuaded them, a visit to the grotty city of Fort de France and the price of flights to St. Lucia, so plan A was resumed, we were to sail to St. Lucia next day.   We raised our anchor just as a squall passed over, giving the crew a good soaking, and headed to a quieter anchorage, Anse Mitan, on the other side of the bay and away from the seedy life in the city.  


Martinique to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, 6th June:

The last leg of our trip with Diane and Graham. Mostly we were able to sail and pretty quickly too!   We arrived at Rodney Bay in the north of St. Lucia at about 2.30 pm and decided to anchor outside the marina because, as is normally the case, we suddenly had 30 knots of wind for our approach.   

The next morning we moved into the marina, only one tricky moment when we were almost in the berth and a sudden gust took us sideways, leading to a quick reversing maneouvre and a second approach.   Anyway we were finally safely tied up and Diane and Graham's contribution in helping us get this far south was greatly appreciated.   

Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia

Piton Mountains, Soufriere, St. Lucia

We decided to spoil ourselves and eat out that evening.   We should have taken the advice of our friends on Fruity Fruits who spent a month here and recommended a steak house.   For ease, we went to the restaurant in the marina, where the meal was very average.   After Phil sent back his second steak, he finally selected a different meal!    He then persuaded us to get on the bus and head for the local "Jump Up" or street party, a weekly event in town of Gros Islet.   Despite the scary warnings in the guide books, the party was fine and the atmosphere lively with many stalls in the street selling drinks and barbecue food.   On reflection, we should have eaten there as the food looked much better and was considerably cheaper that the meals we'd eaten!
Next day we hired a car so Diane and Graham could tour the island before they left.    The west coast was quite wild with very winding roads, lush and hilly.    Driving through the town of Soufriere we had a scary moment with some locals trying to intimidate us into giving money for directions (all the road signs had mysteriously disappeared).  This incident, combined with a couple of other similar events, left us with a bad feeling about St. Lucia.    The island is beautiful but the hassle factor seemed to be high, with many vendors literally pushing their wares into your face, a sales tactic which in our experience very rarely works.......

Anyway putting this incident behind us we continued our tour and headed to the Sulphur Springs, where we also had to fit the tour guide into our tiny hire car as well!  A few years ago, you were able to walk with a guide right down inside the crater to the springs, until one day a guide disappeared up to his waist into the hot spring when demonstrating how unstable the ground was.    Luckily he lived to tell the tale.......

Sulphur Springs, St. Lucia

After a brief stop for lunch in an out-of-the-way cafe, where they seemed surprised to find that they were recommended in the "Lonely Planet" travel guide, we continued around the south of the island and up the east coast, where we left the main road in search of the "Quilesse Forest Reserve", which was marked on our maps.    After about an hour travelling along rougher and rougher roads, out in the wilds we suddenly ended up back on the main road again.....Well, we decided we'd probably seen quite a lot of the rainforest on our mini tour anyway and gave up on the forest reserve.

Next day came the sad moment when we had to take Diane and Graham off at the airport for their flight home.    We arrived early and the airport seemed pretty dead, so we thought we'd try another "Lonely Planet" recommended restaurant.    On arrival it seemed things may have changed since the guide was written.    We continued on to the town of Vieux Fort nearby, a town which smelled of horses due to the large number grazing nearby.    Eventually we did find a place for a snack before returning to the airport and saying goodbye to our crew.    

To raise our spirits after the crew left, Phil and Christine decided once more to search for the Forest Reserve and although never actually locating anything labelled as a reserve, we had an interesting drive through forest, banana plantations and past mango, breadfruit and coconut trees, until the road suddenly became too rough, even for a hire car, forcing us to retrace our steps.   It's quite amazing to be in a place where exotic fruit is just hanging off trees at the edge of the road.    

We also visited Mamiku gardens, an old plantation, with lovely shady wooded walks.   After so long just sailing, it was enjoyable to be walking in the countryside again. 

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