Caribbean christmas

John & Jackie Richards
Fri 26 Dec 2008 16:25
A Very Happy Christmas to family and friends who may still be reading the blog. Since blogging last week we now have Laura and Andy on board with us and our ARC crew have all departed home at various times since last Friday. On Sunday we left St Lucia and sailed the 20 or so miles north to Martinique and had three nights at anchor off Marin on the south coast which we really enjoyed although for the last two nights the wind got up to over 20 knots which made the anchorage a bit uncomfortable at times. Martinique is part of France and is relatively affluent by Caribbean standards. It was a great place to provision up for several days with two very good French supermarkets within dinghy ride/short walk of the anchorage. Marin is obviously very popular and there must have been some 200 boats at anchor with the marina there completely full and many charter boats. It is an eight hour flight from Paris and there were many French tourists there in addition to the local population.
The weather was a bit mixed with a scorching 30degrees (by 10am) on the first two days and a squally, quite cloudy last day. On Monday we signed up to go diving with 'Marin Plongee' during Tuesday morning. They took us out in their boat to a coral reef and we had our first dive experience which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. Our guide stayed with us the whole time and although we probably only went down for about twenty-thirty feet max the fish and coral were spectacular. We will definitely do this again on other islands.
Our sail back to Rodney Bay on Christmas Eve was very windy and rolly in the swell. There are many ARC boats still in St Lucia and the marina looks very festive with many boats displaying fairy lights and miniature Christmas trees! The French catamaran next to us had all their Christmas stockings hung up in the cockpit and were celebrating in the usual European style on Christmas Eve with a big party. We joined many other ARC boats for a Christmas Day barbeque on Reduit beach yesterday. Everyone dinghied round with all the food and bbq's and it turned in to a bit of a 'lob in' as we all shared out our food supplies washed down with plenty of Caribbean beer and rum punch! The weather was fantastic and quite different to the normal Christmas day at home - the beach was packed with a lot of Brits and other nationalities who had obviously decided to escaped the UK/Europe for a Christmas in the sun. John. Andy and I had a blast in a large inflatable towed by a speedboat for EC$75 (about £20) which was quite exhilarating and interesting after the rum punch!
On the subject of rum punch, we got in to conversation with a few other crews who had attended the Cuthbert Didier (Rodney Bay harbour master) ARC welcome party last Tuesday week. I had to suffer considerable mickey taking by the rest of the Ula crew for getting completely obliterated at this party and having to be escorted back to Ula in a taxi by the skipper (most of which I cannot remember!!) The following morning was carnage - contact lenses still in, make up still on etc etc - an even worse sight than normal!?! Notwithstanding the fact that I am a bit of a lightweight on the alcohol front my protestations of only having three rum punches (my last one being poured in to a palm tree by JR!) were poo pooed by everyone else who had been on beer. It now appears that I was not alone in succumbing to a much stronger than normal brew on the night. Most people were a bit worse for wear and apparently one crew member from another boat was found asleep under a palm tree around 7am and thanked Cuthbert for a great party as he was woken up and scurried back to his boat! Our very hospitable harbour master has since been reported to have had a good laugh at the 'quietness' in the marina on the Wednesday morning! 
What now? It is very windy here at the moment so we are watching the weather and will probably revisit Marigot Bay and possibly Soufriere before we have to head home on Tuesday afternoon. If not there are many good things to do inland with the rain forest and the Pitons to visit. Not looking forward to getting back to the UK weather and economic gloom next week but we are looking forward to catching up with family and friends.