Les Saintes

Caribbean adventure
nick & annabella Atkinson
Wed 2 Feb 2011 22:08

Le Saints


Le Saints is made up of two main beautiful small little islands and is a beautiful place to stop for a visit.  We anchored off the third smaller island called Il Caret which is also known for having a ton of garden eels (eek!) at one side of the bay and snorkelled in the light waters amongst a large cluster of Conch shells while we checked that we had laid our anchor.  This little bay is very calm and holds the old ruins of a fort which we meandered up to the following day as wild goats bleated around us.  The view of the other islands is spectacular looking down!


As we headed to the main island to moor next to the main town, our first thoughts were internet connection at a local cafà â as this has been a real luxury for us!  We downed a chilled Heineken and made our calls to family while looking over the lagoon at the goings around us.  The streets of Le Bourg are full of home made ice creams of every flavour and Batique clothes which have been made by local Artisans.  The church which is the focal point of the village is gorgeous and has a wooden spire which gives a real flavour of Napoleonic times!  Le Saints is famous for the âBattle of Le Saintsâ which the British and French fought for on the high seas.  We went to the main Fort which is very well preserved â and one of the best forts in the Caribbean, to hear the French lay claim that the British only won the battle as the winds were in their favour â which made a gap for our battle ships to come through and attack â this story does have a hint of âsour grapesâ about it â but one of the things we have loved is drenching ourselves in the Caribbean history and geography, so the trip added to our knowledge!


On the second day, we had a surprise, as the Dutch 15 year old girl sailing around the world (who we were moored next to in St Marteen) came sailing in and dropped anchor next to us on her boat, Guppy.  We are starting to feel like we are on her journey â although she has been following us for once!! Guppy stayed moored alongside us for most of our time in Le Saints and it has added much merriment to our travels!  Laura herself is a little evasive (although we put that down to being shy) and does not pop up regularly from down below decks âwe put this down to her either writing a book, being on a sat phone orâ. learning about sailing!  You may laugh, but we saw her getting classes from an old South African salty sailor in St Maarten so we hope she has crammed enough in for her travels!  She is very fit and has no hesitation in showing proficiency and agility by jumping overboard to cut off a fishing net wrapped round her propeller (which we assume was maybe a reason for coming in to Le Saints) and we have calculated that she can hold her breath underwater for not that much less than a tortoise â which is infinity to us!!


The highlight of our stay in Le Saints was when we hired a motorbike for the day â Nick was a little nervous and I was a little apprehensive having never been on  one before (Iâm sure my mum will be glad to hear that!!).  We picked out the monster bike from all the ones on display, which had three wheels â Nicks reasoning was that this was the closest bike we could get to a car so would hopefully be more stable!  As Nick revved the accelerator, we were off, and discovered that we could get from one end of the main island to the other in about 20 minutes flat which should give some indication that the island really is quite small!  It is littered with about 5 beaches, and as fate would have it, the first one we stumbled on was the nudist beach!  Full, may we add, of 60 something couples re-living their youth!! We headed back to the bikes and found our favourite bay, Pan Du Sucre which is a sandy cove with reefs which is headlined by a green lush tropical hill.  The beach was pretty busy â despite the long and steep walk down the winding stoney and rural path.  For lunch, we took our pre-prepared Casino pizza out of the Tupperware box and gazed over the coast of another longer sandy bay â marvelling at the delights of such fine pizza!


The following day, we dingyed back over to the bay of Pan Du Sucre to soak up the stunning views again and also have our best snorkelling experience to date on the reefs. The bay is crammed with the most beautiful and amazing colours of fish of many sorts and is an absolute eye opener!  We also benefited from the beach being quieter and we lounged on our towels on the dingy, catching some rays before the regular January Caribbean rain showers diverted us back to Tom Tom.  Back at the boat, I decided it would be a good idea to push Nick in to the water when we prepared to go swimming in the later afternoon.  Unfortunately, Nick had our prized bucket (or so I was about to learn) in his hand which sank as he swam frantically to gain sanctuary on the side of the boat!  This is a lesson I will not be repeating, as I had the joy of having a long and painful exercise over 2 days and a number of hours trying to use our dingy anchor as a hook and drop it over the 15  metre stretch to the exact point where the bucket lay on the sea bed â this recue mission was solely because we were not able to get a decent bucket (or any bucket!) from the local hard wear store (those little basics in life are not readily available to us on a regular basis!).  Our little gem was also a special bucket with folding abilities (so I am told!).  At the point of almost giving up on salvaging it (and 2 days later), I finally managed to hook the anchor on to the bucket and trawl it up rapidlyâ without our anchor twisting it off and throwing it back down to the bottom again (the anchor is meant to twirl as it is dragged up, which made our conquest even harder to attain!).  The bucket now stands proud with a story to tell and is safely stored away!


Our main bit of action drama  happened towards the end of our time in Le Saints, when Nick  noticed that a fellow yachtâs dingy had detached itself from the stanchions and was fast moving our to sea.  We managed to jump in our dingy but by the time we managed to get towards it, it was being hauled out by the local âLe Saints Yacht Clubâ staff who were suspiciously rapidly heading it towards their garage.  They bartered that it was salvage, and wouldnât give it back unless the grand sum of 50Euros was paid. We thought this was bad taste â particularly from a loosely named yacht club â and headed back to our fellow yacht to tell them the news.    By the time Nick had dingyed the yachtsman back to the club to speak to the club, the price had risen to 100 Euros.  A call to the Gendarme (French police) resulted in them telling the owner to offer 20 Euros as a good will gesture, and seize the dingy back â this was apparently the successful outcome as he hot footed it, to get the outboard working, with an angry Jerome (the owner of Le Saints Yacht Club) pouring out explicativeâs behind him.  Thankfully, the final curtain on the story of the erratic dingy was to our benefit, as we were invited for evening aperitifs (a 7pm drink for an hour, with a few canapÃs â which is a very French tradition).  We made friends with this delightful couple and conversation flowed â including the debate about the benefits of the Euro and the European Union â which we have discovered is a hot topic that quite a few of the French sailors we have met, have asked us about!  The highlight though, was a tour of their custom made yacht called âCastafioreâ which was an artistic delight with deep orange towels and clear architect designer co-ordination throughout â not to mention the beautiful teak internal floors and light and space - a boat we can only dream of!!  Jean-Luc and Dany joined us the following night for âApperosâ on Tom Tom and we discovered that Dany was one of Franceâs top female entrepreneurs and owner of the childrenâs toy manufacturer called Moby (who made the childrenâs mini kitchens, and Lego type men that used to frequent our toy boxes!).    Nickâs mum had done us proud and we entertained with our own canapÃs of smoked ham stuffed with cream cheese and gherkins â which are an absolute hit every time, and very easy to make â thanks Mazzi!!!  We bade farewell as we prepared for our journey the following day to Dominica which we were a little apprehensive about  as it has a bit of a bad reputation for robberies, but also eagerly looking forward to, with its reputation for lush rainforests, abundance of fruit trees, and buzz of nature.  We headed out again, on more choppy water for the 8 hour journey.