Trip down to Martinique
On Tuesday 24th March, after spending 4 days doing jobs in Deshaies bay we hired a car for 3 days to go exploring the island. The car hire was through Atlas Choice, an online company, who described the car pick up as Downtown Deshaies. We found however that we had to go 7 miles outside Deshaies to Europocar for the car – we won’t use this website again. The car was however a Volkswagen polo with air-conditioning, an upgrade on what we paid for and was ideal for the narrow and very windy roads on much of Guadeloupe. With the sheer drop off at the side of many roads Susan demonstrated that she is becoming a rather nervous passenger, it couldn’t of course be my driving!!
We really enjoyed the land based exploring for a change and toured round much of Guadeloupe, visiting beaches and rainforest as well as the main towns, Pointe-a-Pitre (the capital) and Basseterre. On some of the roads round the capital and in the towns, it was very like any other part of France, which is a bit disconcerting at times.
There were signs on Guadeloupe as elsewhere in the Caribbean of last year’s hurricane damage.
A local market in St Annes, with lots of dodgy Rum Punches.
One of the many beaches and bays with sheltered swimming areas.
A spectacular roundabout in Basseterre.
One of the impressive churches.
A pleasant resting spot in Basseterre.
The nice beach front in Basseterre.
A small example of Volcano heated water coming through the rainforest not too far from Basseterre.
We also looked at the anchoring areas round Pointe-a-Pitre and Basseterre and the marinas and decided that we were not keen on either as the anchoring protection was very limited and the marinas were both well out of town and a bit soulless. We decided to stay a bit longer in Deshaies and the go directly down to the Saints.
Just one of the pieces of entertainment that people put on for us at the anchorage in Deshaies.
We left Deshaies on Tuesday 31st March and had quite a nice sail down the side of Guadeloupe and to the main anchorage at Terre-de-Haut in the Illes des Saintes. We were very fortunate and picked up a free mooring in a bay well away from the main traffic, but easy enough to get to town.
The anchorage in the Saints.
The main Village.
The Saints were very busy, but we really enjoyed revisiting there as the town/village is very quaint and the anchorage we were in was very pleasant, with nice views. We did get caught in a rainstorm, which lasted for a couple of hours, but we sheltered in a café and enjoyed some hot chocolat.
A typical French scene!
A pleasant resting spot while waiting once again for the shopper.
One of the visiting yachts.
We left the Saints on Good Friday (3rd April) at 4.45am !!! to sail the 75 miles down to Martinique. We decide to bypass Dominica as we had previously done some really good trips from Portsmouth harbour. We had really good sailing for the first 4 hours, however we then started to get very strange winds, clearly affected by the high mountain. The wind would go from above 20 knots from the East, to no wind, to 10 knots from the SW in just a few minutes, so after a while we furled the headsail and motor-sailed down the rest of Dominica. As we got to the bottom of Dominica we got stronger winds from the East and started to sail again with significantly reefed in Main and headsail. We soon were getting fairly steady winds of high 20’s to 30 knots and had a fairly long period of doing over 7.5 knots to 8.0 knots. We made really good time across Dominica channel to Martinique and arrived at St Pierre at 4.30 in the afternoon, having averaged over 6 knots on the trip.
8.0 knots Speed Over the Ground.
I’m smiling, I think – just a little gust!
Susan always finds it funny when I get a soaking.
We were initially a bit dubious about anchoring at St Pierre as the shore slopes quite quickly so there is not a great amount of space suitable for anchoring and we were getting gusts of up to 30 knots as we approached. The wind did however reduce so we anchored and made sure we had lots of chain out and reversed in the anchor really hard. The wind really died in the evening and we had a quiet night.
The anchorage at St Pierre.
On Saturday we went ashore to Clear in to Martinique at the Tourist Office. Once we found the office, which is a bit out of the centre of town, we had the easiest of booking in experiences. I used the Customs PC to fill in the form, which was identical to that used in Guadeloupe, printed the form and the Tourist Office assistant stamped the form and that was it, no charge and no hassle.
The ancient Theatre in St Pierre.
One of the many French style buildings.
We then moved down the coast to a bay opposite the Capital Fort-de-France and plan to stay here or in one of the other bays for a few days, before heading round the coast to Le Marin, which is the main yachting centre on Martinique.