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Date: 31 Mar 2007 18:26:30
Title: This week, Martinique!

Position 14:27.8N 60:52.3W

 

Ah, La Belle France. Well, almost anyway, as Martinique (and Guadeloupe) are French “Departements d’outré-mer” and also part of the European Union, although not for VAT purposes as far as we know. So, lots of French people, French supermarkets (Champion & Carrefour etc), plenty of French grub and wine of course, and French prices to match. Bugger.

 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. We finally dragged ourselves away from Prickly Bay in Grenada last Sunday for the sail up to Tyrell Bay in Carriacou, where of course we’ve been before but wanted to make sure our newly modified mainsail worked properly before going too far. Aside from a few minor problems the sail’s fine and a vast improvement on previously, so that was worthwhile. We also caught a very nice small tuna on the way, which by the time I’d “filleted” it was even smaller, but no matter, it tasted very fine indeed after quickly searing it in a frying pan and served up with some green beans. Yum.

 

We motored round the short distance to Hillsborough (capital of Carriacou) in the morning to do the checking out formalities and then we were off again towards St Lucia, catching a bigger tuna on the way. We’ve started using a “bird” before the lure, a bird being a small aeroplane-shaped thing that skips across the surface of the water alerting the fish to the presence of a tasty looking pink feathery lure with a big hook in it. Well nobody said fish were terribly bright. It seems to work well, and while the tuna wasn’t big by tuna standards (2.5kg) it provided two dinners for each of us and was again very tasty – seared in a pan the first time, and the following day Tracy knocked up a marinade of soy sauce, worcester sauce, ketchup etc and then we pan fried it – absolutely delicious.

 

 

We seem to have cracked the execution of fish too, as instead of chasing it round the cockpit while bashing it repeatedly over the head, which as I’ve mentioned before gets a bit messy and usually ends in an argument, we now wrap them in a rag (which keeps them docile) and squirt alcohol into their gills. Much more controlled, and the fish dies happy, which is nice.

 

After a brief unofficial overnight stop in Bequia we were off again at 0600 for the longish trip to Soufriere on the west coast of St Lucia. We decided to go straight there rather than stop on the island of St Vincent as we can always do that on the way back south, and we had a good sailing wind – so good in fact that instead of stopping in Soufriere we kept going to Rodney Bay in the north of St Lucia.

 

CAUTION - SAILING LANGUAGE COMING UP: Since we’ve stopped carrying huge amounts of water & diesel (and vegetables - see below) our speed’s really improved, and while crossing the St Vincent / St Lucia channel (which is about 30 miles across open sea) with 20kts of wind forward of the beam and a lumpy sea our SOG rarely dropped below 8.5kts. Splendid. And to those who say catamarans don’t sail to windward, yah sucks boo to you – we were frequently sailing with the apparent wind at 40 degrees and going very nicely thank you (although faster at 60 degrees admittedly). OK, sailing-speak over, relax.

 

Incidentally, just to cheer most of you up a bit, the weather's not always great, in fact we've just had two days of rain & drizzle. Below is a piccy looking south to St Vincent, surrounded by nasty weather:

 

 

Where was I? Oh yes, St Lucia. Again we decided not to hang around here as we’ll see it properly on the way back so after another unofficial overnight stop at anchor in Rodney Bay we set off in the morning for Martinique, all of 30 miles away. Another fast trip, we arrived at Le Marin on the south coast at around 10am and after a bit of trouble finding a spot to anchor (so many boats) and then getting the anchor to dig in, it was feet-up time. The formalities here are the easiest so far, no charges and they didn’t even want to see our passports, although the customs man refused to speak English even though I’m sure he could have done so it was left to me to struggle along with my schoolboy French. Still, no big deal, we managed of course.

 

The plan was to stay here for just a few days before heading north to Guadeloupe via Dominica and thereby meet up with various friends there, but the forecast for the next little while is not great, with north-easterly winds of 20-25kts which would be bang on the nose so it looks like we’ll be here for longer than planned. Hey ho, it’s not so bad. It was our 8th wedding anniversary the other day so we’re planning to go out for lunch today to celebrate, albeit a bit late. The budget will probably stretch to a croissant or two.

 

And finally, here’s an onion:

 

 

Nice, isn’t it? Now you might be wondering why, what with all the lovely scenery etc, we’re showing you a picture of an onion. Well calm down and I’ll explain. This, my friends, is a Las Palmas onion, the very last one on board that we ate the other day, in excess of three months after leaving Las Palmas and still in perfect condition due to Tracy's careful storage techniques, which poses two questions: why the hell did we have three months stock of onions on board, and why did we run out of carrots three days after setting off across the Atlantic? I have questioned the quartermaster about this at some length, so far to no avail. Investigations are continuing….


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