Caribbean Update 17:00N 61:46W

Southern Princess
John & Irene Hunt
Tue 1 Jan 2008 20:34
Been a hectic 10 days. The girls plane was three hours late which meant that we were at St Lucia airport at 02:00 hours to find that the immigration girl couldn't find the visa forms, had kept their passports and we had to go back next morning to collect them.
On December 23rd we departed Rodney Bay for Cul de sac de Marin the yachting centre of Martinique. It was great sail with a tight reach all the way and at 15:00 hours anchored adjacent to 'Storyteller' and that evening we all had dinner ashore at the Zanzibar Cafe with Andrea & Ian Treleaven. Great music provided by a Czech jazz combo sailing around the world. The drummer was their 12 year old nephew. The keyboard player looked like an ancient version of 'One flew out of the Cuckoos Nest' and got away! The saxophone player was his wife and she was an older version of Goldilocks or her Mum! Funny night and great music.
One of the nice aspects of Marin was the Leader Supermarket which has it's own dinghy dock which makes it nice and easy for shopping and being French, chesses, terrines, pates, foie gras and French wine at European prices as Martinique and Guadalupe are French departments and as such heavily subsidised. The anchorage also has very clean water and as such great swimming. On the afternoon of the 24th we headed up the coast about 10 miles to Grande Anse and a restaurant which was open for Christmas Eve. Storyteller, Finisterre and the four of us from Southern Princess had an enjoyable night and the French did a marvellous job for the kids. Santa arrived by boat and a snow machine delivered soapy foam over all of us.
Christmas Day was different. We departed Grande Anse early so that we could meet the rental agent and pick up car by 11:00 hours. We drove around 2/3rds of the island and lunch was chicken sandwiches on the beach at St Francois with diet coke.
The 26th saw us in Dominica and met by Pancho a boat boy who looked after us. We rented a mooring buoy from him for US$10 per night (it is a deep anchorage) and he provided a great service, ice, bread and a Dominica courtesy flag as the one I thought I had was for The Dominican Republic, about a 1000 miles away! Megan and Sam had caught a tuna on the way across and this we BBQ'd for dinner. The log notes: Sammy finally won at Rumikub! It was a rolly night in the anchorage and I slept on deck to keep and eye on things as we had heard bad stories about light fingered locals.
Next stop was the north of Dominica at Prince Rupert Bay and on the way in Megan caught a reasonable sized barracuda which we promptly donated to a boat boy who was alongside several miles off the coast touting for work. We had an introduction from Jerry & Nancy off Lame Libre, to 'Providence' and called him on VHF 16. He organised a mooring, a trip up The Indian River. Martin Carrierre is a delightful man and that night we all had dinner at the Blue Bay Restaurant. Martin, his wife Floriana and their two children, Nicole (7) and Nikki (14). Interesting talking with them. Unemployment in young men is as high as 50% and no social security. Most are forced to live at home with their parents and take odd jobs to keep the wolf from the door. Martin has been a 'boat boy' for the past 15 years and is the current president on "The Indian River Guides Association". They have banded together with the beach front restaurants, dive shops etc to provide night time security for the anchorage. The stipend for the mooring went to cover the cost of the security patrol and yachts at anchor are asked for a small contribution. Floriana has a permanent job with the water board so as a family they are reasonably well off even though Martin's season is only 6 months. Cost of living is high with petrol costing the same as in Australia however as their wages are so much lower, fuel is extremely expensive. Basic foods they grow them selves however apples which have to be imported cost around US$1 each. We had some still from Las Palmas so donated them to the girls.
28th December saw us in Les Saintes, the southern most islands of Guadalupe. Delightful islands, great shops and Megan shouted us lunch ashore in a bay side restaurant. French food again! yum!
Next stop was Deshaies on the north west of Basse-Terre of Guadalupe, a deep bay with a small village at the head. Lots of yachts at anchor either arriving or, as we were, going to depart for Antigua. Some quite stunning craft in the bay. Lunch ashore, paucity of shops; thank goodness and a BBQ on board that evening as we watched a magnificent sunset. The Rumikub championships continue.Irene winning so far.
Boy the trip to English Harbour was bloody awful; 44 nautical miles of chopped up seas. It was like being inside a washing machine.We had half a mainsail and sometimes the staysail. For 6 hours the seas, wind and rain pounded us. The wind never got below 25 knots, for over half the trip is was well into the 30's and one gust topped 40 knots! Only a half mile off the coast and we still couldn't see the island of Antigua!
Our reservation worked and we tied up stern to in Nelson's Dockyard. The wall we tied to has been here for 250 years. The dockyard is one of the best restorations of a Georgian working ship yard and The Admiral's House is now a small very well done museum. Nelson's Dockyard is apparently the 'in place' for New Years Eve and it was a great party. Fireworks and Pina Coladas at midnight with Reggae music thumping in the background. All this ground to a stop at 03:00 on the New Years Day! Lots of terribly hung over people this morning.
Yesterday we hired a car and toured the island with a visit to St Johns, the capital, a drive around the coast, lunch at a small restaurant right on the beach, a visit to Jolly Harbour, an American type marina and housing complex with 130 sq metre apartments going for US$500,000!
Megan & Samantha departed New Years Day at 16:00 hours. Sam for Miami to visit friends and then on to Vancouver for 10 days to stay with a Canadian girl who flatted with Sam for a year in Australia. She will have a great time there. Megan will have a horror flight home, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Los Angeles, Sydney without a break and with the Yanks being absolutely nuts with their 'Home Land Security' we hope she makes her connections on time. On the way down from London they held her in a locked room in Miami for 40 minutes while they took away her passport. They would answer no questions, were deaf to Megan's explanation that she had a connecting flight to catch and with out explanation of any kind handed her passport back and told her to run for the next connection! Talk about arrogance, the US immigration people don't welcome visitors to the US; they are effectively driving them away! Irene and I now avoid the States unless we are visiting friends, we probably won't go touring there again as last time we were pulled out of line and had to strip off shoes, belts and have body searches for every flight. Just not worth the hassle any more.Their loss.
Tomorrow we are off south again, particularly to Marin on Martinique as we have some concerns with the water maker and we need a new handle for the fridge door. There is a great Beneteau agent in Marin who apparently gets things done.
Will catch up again soon. A Happy New Year and a great 2008 to everyone.
John & Irene
Sunset in Deshaies Guadeloupe
Floriana & Nicole
Irene & Nikki
Martin making palm leaf birds for the ladies.