Arrival at Iles Des Saintes
23:02.11, 15:52.48N 61:35.82W
On our last day in St Pierre we walked up to the Depaz Rum distillery which is a mile or so out of the town, as usual it was up hill - then again - everything from our boat is generally uphill. The distillery is allegedly the only one on Martinique that is still steam powered, it is set in beautiful grounds on the side of Mt Pelee with the sugar cane fields stretching out to the coast below, I think I would like to be a distillery owner. It cost nothing to go and wander round - you had to follow a marked path round all the various bits and there were signs in English too, then after a hard hour's walking about you got some free rum tastings - but after tastings you do end up buying some Rum so they get some money off you after all! Distillery was great - the sugar cane mashing mashines were driven by a steam engine which was in turn powered by the burning of the waste cane - all eco minded really but the plant put out about 20000 litres of rum a day.
2am on 23rd we left Martinique for the sail up to Les Saintes which are about 75 miles away. We sailed past Dominica - which looked like a beautiful rugged island covered in rain forest - think we'll do it on our way back south as it did have a bit of a reputation for not being good for yachts in the past but they seem to have got it sorted by the accounts of everyone we have spoken to and we have heard some great reviews of peoples trips there
Sailing in the caribbean between the islands is not a genteel affair - for some reason you would think of people sat in the sunshine while the boat glides over beautiful flat-ish blue water with a nice breeze to help them on their way, maybe sipping the odd cocktail. No - Between the islands you bash through waves in the full force of the trades, there will be no wind at all behind the islands - then as soon as you sneak out beyond the island the wind appears. Our trip was upwind all the way - We got a couple of good drenchings on the journey but at least we remembered to close all the hatches this time so it was only us that got wet not our bed, floors etc, we arrived at Les Saintes at lunchtime.
The winds are pretty strong right now so we're anchored off a little uninhabited island in the Saintes called Ilet Cabrit - this one has the best protection and it's very calm where we are, although too many boats have been trying to squeeze in which has made it sometimes less calm but now all is quiet.
The saintes are part of Guadeloupe and so again part of France, they are a little group of islands just about 10 miles south of Guadelupe. There is only one island really with anyone living on it and it has a very pretty quaint town with lots of sandwich shops and creperies (not sure if that is a word), craft shops and a couple of food shops.
We went for a walk around Ilet Cabrit today - you can climb to the top where there's an old ruined french fort, the islands main inhabitants now are goats (guess the clue is in the name) and land hermit crabs which seem to like sitting on the path - I kept moving them off so they didn't get crunched. The other creatures we are sharing the anchorage with are a gang of pelicans which fly around for a bit then bomb into the water from a great height - they're pretty unafraid and dive to catch fish right next to the boats - wouldn't want to be hit by one when snorkelling through as they are pretty big and hefty. The pelicans are here as the bay gets deep pretty quick - going snorkelling off the boat there is a huge shoal of small fish that hangs around here - I went for a snorkel to have a look at the anchor - I couldn't see it for fish so dived down into them and they all move as one to form a straight wall next to you, it's amazing - usually you only see such huge shoals out in deeper water. We're planning on going diving tomorrow just around the corner in this bay - there are lots of dive sites around here and hopefully some good ones but anywere too far out of this bay is a bit choppy just now. >From the top of the island we looked out to see to the north and we're glad we did the sail yesterday as today the sea looks pretty rough - we'd better stay tucked up on our island for a few days I think.