Sailing Les Antilles cont...

Published: June 18th 2017
Edit Blog Post

It was dark in the night and I was happily feeding away when George came into our room to wake up daddy. I fell asleep again, but apparently our boat was not where we had anchored it. It had drifted nearly 700m!! Luckily, we hadn't drifted all the way out to sea as our anchor had caught in a crab pot! Armed with head torches and a boat hook, mummy, daddy and George spent over an hour unraveling the lines of the crab pot from the anchor. The unravelling finished just before daybreak ... and we commenced motoring to a nearby bay. Everyone was relieved and resolved to better test the anchor in future. I just let everyone do the work and stayed in bed 😊

Day 6 (Friday) Martinique

The new bay, Anse Dufour, was a small, quaint fishing village. French tourists were snorkelling so everyone on board except me put on funny underwater glasses and long blue things. I heard everyone talk excitedly about turtles, squid, moray eels, sea snakes and coral. Mummy was very excited to watch a turtle go down to the bottom of the ocean and pop back up to take a breath. She was also exited to see all the pretty fish and was gone a very long time. I was starving by the time she got back.

In the afternoon we crossed the bay to do some "customs" stuff and left Mamie behind in the boat. We all got into the dinghy and I was put into a big puffy jacket which I didn't like much - a life jacket I was told. We anchored at the base of a big fort - Fort Lois in Fort de France and left George to look after the dinghy. Everyone was happy to walk around the town. I didn't have to walk because mummy and daddy carried me! It was a vibrant place. Mummy spoke to a street vendor for what felt like ages. The lady sold mummy some peanuts and told her that the town was actually built on water. She said the shop owners were subsidised by the government to do up their houses so the town looked pretty with all its vibrant colours.

Later, George rowed back to the boat to get Mamie and everyone went to café. At a windy corner I had fun scrunching up (& eating) the paper place mat whilst the others ate pizza.

That night, we were anchored amongst many boats and winds rolled us around, so poor George woke every couple of hours to check the anchor - I heard him each time I woke mummy up for a feed. Nonetheless, the anchor held well!!

Day 7 (Saturday) - FDF to Roseau, Dominica

We departed early to commence one of our longest days of sailing. The coastline was very pretty, especially Saint Pierre where we passed between wrecks whilst eating pancakes for breakfast, courtesy of George.

It was a long rolling trip between Martinique and Dominica, with 35 knot winds around Scotts Head (so daddy said). I was happy I finally got to see dolphins and flying fish which everyone had been talking about sighting in St Lucia whilst I was asleep! They followed our boat. The boobie birds swooped down to eat the fish that flew away from us. I've been practicing how to stand and lean. That way I can copy daddy.

This island was named after the day it was discovered by Columbus on a Sunday in 1493, but mummy read he passed it by due to its impenetrable mountains. It was coveted by the French in the 17th century due to its location, but the local Caribs defended it for the next century from the English and French before it finally became English in 1783. It looked much poorer than the French islands we visited.

We finally arrived in Roseau, the capital, at about 4.30pm and a man in one of those speedy small boats with the noisy black thing on the end came and took away daddy and George with all our passports. While they were away there was a really loud beep that mummy and Mamie were trying to turn off for ages. Eventually Mamie worked out how to turn it off - thank goodness! When daddy returned with my passport there was no new stamp in it. I was disappointed!

We did however meet with David, who I recognised from Brisbane. We had dinner together on the boat before I collapsed in sleep.

Day 8 (Sunday) - A day at Roseau

No sailing today. So there was lots of relaxing, reading and sleeping, except for me. I am nearly getting this standing thing so must practice in earnest.

David took us for a tour of Dominica's capital city. Everything and everyone looks different to what I am used to. There are channels (to fall into?) beside every road. Daddy seemed too impressed with a doctor sign by the road, whilst Mamie loved the Fort Young "very old colonial" feel and ocean outlooks. We all went to David's house which had very pretty colours and a nice view of our boat. We also went up a windy road to high up the mountain in all the lush green forest. I could sit on mummy's lap instead of being strapped into a horrible seat so it was fun!

When we went to the supermarket on the way home, I tried standing up against the back seat of the car and I think I'm getting it! Mamie couldn't find any sunscreen because no one on this island needs it - they are all burnt black from the sun!

When we got back, there was lots of water ferrying from a tap at the SeaCat house on the land. Daddy is a good rower - he did many trips with our plastic bottles. Then, a neighbouring boat offered to lend us their big plastic containers.

Our evening was most interesting since we visited two neighbouring boats - a German with 2 passengers and a French family with lots of music. Both boats were 40 ft steel ketchs with 2 posts (masts). The German boat had been sailing for 3 years on and off and made a raw yummy ginger lemon drink for mummy. They told us of many great places to stop and snorkel. Hendrick (a good German name) keeps "boat fit" by doing yoga on the foredeck of his boat each morning. Meanwhile, George played piano accordion, drums and ukulele together with the French family. We joined them after but their children had gone to another boat to play so I slept while mummy looked at their boat. Their family made money via circus shows and have been sailing for 10 years!!

Day 9 (Monday) - Roseau to Portsmouth

Daddy said the leeward coast of Dominica is known for light and volatile winds (due to very high hinterland hills). So the journey was quite long, and, with less wind, much hotter. We took a break halfway up the island at Mero bay and Mamie, mummy and daddy swam to shore while I hung out with George. The now deserted Castaway hotel had lost her majesty and even the coconuts mummy found were no good. A man without a home cut them open for her. He said he had been deported from the US and was drying his clothes on the beach.

That afternoon we motored to Portsmouth at the top of Dominica, despite occasional 30 knot winds, because the wind was "on our nose" ... whatever that means. It was very windy in Prince Rupert harbour, and there was lots of boat movement before we settled down for the night on a buoy rather than an anchor.

Day 10 (Tuesday) - to Les Saintes, Guadeloupe
This was a short (3 hour) journey to the land of the Iguana. Mummy took the helm for much of the journey. This journey was not so different from others except that we went through a narrow channel between two islands. The winds were fast as usual.
We anchored in a pretty little bay, really close to the rocks. We could even see the coral from the boat!

Everyone had a swim and snorkelled around to see the coral. Then we were rowed to shore by daddy. Mamie stayed to look after our boat. When we left the rugged coastline and went up a hill we were well surprised to find a pretty, and very tidy village. The roads were made of concrete not bitumen and the houses were all colourful. I enjoyed the play ground most ... it had a car with springs, a big shell which we could sit inside and a boat full of flowers. Why is our boat not full of flowers?

I was then carried to a historic pottery making factory but we weren't allowed in because it had closed for the day. It just looked like a run down old building to me. Apparently they had just had a big festival there on the weekend but we had missed it! Some other children were making boats from leaves and seeds, they looked so perfect. Their family had sailed all the way from Brittany in France!

When the stars were coming out, we all clambered into the dinghy once more, this time with Mamie, and daddy rowed us to shore. Everyone hurried up the hill and down the street to where they had been told by the pottery lady they could find restaurants open at night. But when we got there at 7.30pm, it was all very quiet and apparently the only restaurant owner had just left for the night! The snack bar was also closed but sold everyone drinks and told mummy there was a place back up the road selling panini which closed at 8pm. So I stayed with Daddy and Mamie while George and mummy hurried up the road and eventually found a little shop. George was very surprised there was no name on the front but the lady had waited for them as she had been told they were coming. Mummy found it a little difficult to understand the local dialect but they bought some warm baguettes, cookies and a few other fresh foods and had them with pâté for dinner. The others enjoyed the funny shaped bread, whilst I enjoyed mummy's milk.

Day 11 (Wednesday) - A hop to Terre de Haut

On this rest day, we only sailed a few miles from where we had been (Anse Fideling or Grand Baie on Terre-de-Bas) to Anse du Bourg on Terre-de-Haut. Instead of visiting the butterfly - the main island of Guadeloupe, we explored the two main islands of the little archipelago of Les Saintes. Discovered by a man called Christopher Columbus on All Saints Day in 1493, this archipelago is of particular significance in history, so mummy read, because in 1782, whenever that was, the British won the biggest naval battle ever fought by the French and English in the Caribbean which marked the beginning of British maritime supremacy.

She also read that the islands, whose population of 3000 is split evenly between them, have a strong sense of identity, claiming direct descent from the first colonists. However, Terre de Bas had richer soil and more slave labour so they have a more mixed population and slightly darker skin colour than Terre de Haut.

Everyone discussed where they should anchor, and then everyone but Mamie went ashore to hike on the island and snorkel on the other side of the island. Mummy carried me all the way up the hill to Fort Napolean, and there was a magnificent view of the harbour. Unfortunately the museum shut at 12.30pm so no one could go inside. We just looked at the big moat around the castle.

Next we went for a big long walk past Baie de Marigot to Baie de Pompierre. There was a funny man on the way who was in a building marked "Discotheque Restaurant", but when mummy asked where it was he went into a big rant about how the Mayor shut him down and took away all their money. He spoke French but had that funny accent the people here speak so I don't think mummy understood everything he said. He commented about the people of the other island not being able to come to this one because they were black. But he seemed a funny man so I don't know all he said was true.

Baie de Pompierre was so windy, even though well sheltered by its islets partially blocking the entrance. The beach was nearly empty but had lots of lovely tables and chairs to sit at amongst the coconut trees. Mummy looked after me until I awoke while daddy and George went snorkelling. Then the rain poured down and mummy went out for a snorkel. There are lots of goats and chickens wandering around these islands, and there was even a man feeding breadsticks to a cow on the way back.

We walked back through the town and looked for a restaurant to have dinner. When mummy and daddy found a nice place, George stayed there while we went back in the speedboat to get Mamie. Everyone ate prawns and fish and gnocchi. The lady beside us who lived on the island 6 months of the year said she had just had an Australian couple stay with her but it was very rare for Australians to visit so she had been very proud. She thought I was cute and gave me a big cuddle!

Day 12 (Thursday) Guadeloupe to Dominica

We set off from Anse du Bourg to return to Dominica and sailed to Douglas Bay Marine park on the northern tip. Everyone but me went snorkelling to see the drop-offs north of Douglas Point, called the Toucari Reserve. Mummy and Daddy were well impressed at the towering sea cliffs dropping right down into the ocean and the interesting pottery-like coral with big openings. But I was left behind! I don't get to join in any of the fun stuff!

Next we sailed around the point to meet my friend Titus in Portsmouth. This time we went straight for a buoy. Mummy and I hung out on the boat with Mamie while George and Daddy explored the town and got some supplies. They found the man who we had paid for fruit last time we stayed here who had not come back, but he said that we had left by the time he returned to our boat. So daddy bought more fruit! I like the bananas... mummy has been letting me chew her bananas and apples. They are yummy!

Day 13 (Friday) Portsmouth to Soufriere Bay

Today, the blackest darkest clouds I've ever seen came rolling over the top of the mountain, darkening the sky, and then saturated us for just over an hour. As the rain hit us, daddy said the winds went up to 40 something knots. George got covered up in his wet weather gear and daddy got drenched but he eventually put on his bright orange jacket too whilst we hid down in the cabin. During the big winds, a rope disappeared up the front, and George spent an hour doing things with other ropes and a toe clipper to try to retrieve it.

In Soufriere Bay (lots of places have the same name on different islands) we got stopped by the marine police in deep blue life vests (mummy said she liked the colour and the man said he'd chosen them himself with a big smile). The bay is a marine reserve at the south of the island with some of Dominica's best coral reefs so everyone wanted to snorkel there, but the marine police said we were not allowed to moor our boat. I was happy because I didn't get left behind again. The two villages in the bay, Soufriere and Scotts Head, were very pretty though according to Mamie.

When we got back to Roseau and our mooring for the night, Brian from SeaCat tried to sell us a snorkelling tour to the bay, but no one knew what to do with me so everyone stayed!

Day 14 (Saturday) Dominica to Martinique

We headed off early from Roseau Bay to make the sea crossing back to Martinique. I didn't sleep all the way this time and everyone kept talking about 'teething' when I was grumbling because I was bored. They gave me all my toys to chew. We arrived early in the afternoon but spent a long time motoring around to find a place to stop.

Everyone went off snorkelling in the afternoon and took turns at looking after me. Even though there is no reef, there were apparently quite a few fish and moray eels and mummy was very excited she had seen a little orange seahorse holding on to a piece of coral with its tail! I think it's funny that there is a horse in the sea, although I have only ever seen a picture of a horse.

That evening, I was really tired but everyone was bustling around. Mamie was yelling for daddy to close the hatches, but he was playing outside with the dinghy, mummy told daddy I needed my nappy changed. Then I realised we were going to shore! I stopped grumbling because there were lots of interesting things to see, even though I was tired.

We walked down the main street and saw people preparing for a concert and some snack bars. Everyone was looking for a restaurant but thought there would be nothing open as it was 8pm. Someone in a bar recommended a place to mummy but that was closed.

Then we went to a quaint Alsacian restaurant that mummy said looked very much like Alsace. The man who served us was lovely. I fell asleep but everyone had 'tarte flambée' - a kind of pizza with onion and bacon and a creamy egg and cheese base - with crudités. Then they had mango and rubarb tarts for dessert with a shot of rum offered by the owner. Everyone seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed the evening and there was even a game of chess played followed by George playing a few tunes on the piano. I slept through the whole lot.

Everyone slept in the next morning though because they also danced at the concert by the beach I discovered from the photos. Mamie really enjoyed dancing to the music!

Additional photos below
Photos: 116, Displayed: 34


Tot: 0.115s; Tpl: 0.015s; cc: 7; qc: 48; dbt: 0.0474s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.2mb