St Anne’s – Fort de France in Martinique and home for Mal & Sue

Bruce & Gina at the helm

On Friday 3rd February we arrived at St Anne’s which is on the south-eastern point of Martinique. We had a great sail with Gina and Bruce sailing Wyuna by themselves in preparation for when they will be on their own. They did an amazing job and Wyuna responded to all the tacks beautifully. We passed between the mainland and Diamond Rock which is an imposing rock jutting out of the sea – very Gibralta-like.

Main square at St Anne’s

We went ashore to find another quaint little village with the church as the centrepiece of the town. That night was market night and Gina & I made some great purchases from a local jeweller, Anne Richards. More later. We ate dinner at La Dunette who had a Cuban band performing, Men in Black. They were good but were drowned out by the drumming of the “Carnivale” rehearsals. We were treated to an amazing display of what is yet to come at Carnivale time. Each country has a different date and Martinique’s is from 19-22 February in Fort-de-France so each village is practising. It was amazing – we watched three “teams” who were all colour-coded; white, red and yellow. Each group had band players and dancers and boy, could they dance! It went on for hours and the excitement it generated was to be seen to be believed. I feel really privileged to have witnessed the practice sessions given Mal & I won’t be here for the main gig!

The next day we decided to take a look at Port Marin; a marina very close to St Anne’s that can cater for over a 1,000 boats. It’s also home to a large number of charter boat companies so it’s very busy. We went into St Anne to catch the bus and waited, and waited, and waited at what we think was the “bus stop”. One came but told us we needed a different bus. In the end we grabbed a taxi and were there in no time. It was a fascinating marina and Bruce was able to purchase some items for the boat. Alas, we waited where we were told the bus would come but, again, a bus came and it was the wrong one. Not happy Jan! It was bloody hot and we were all getting a tad irritable. We finally found a taxi rank and travelled back to Wyuna in St Anne’s.

Grande Anse des Salines
Sue & Anne Richards

And now, a little more about our jeweller friend. She had agreed to make me a particular piece and so she came and collected Gina & I and took us back to her home. Wow, it was high on a ridge with the coolest of breezes and views; the Atlantic on one side, St Lucia to the south and Diamond Rock looking west. After making a few selections from her collection she drove us down to Grande Anse des Salines, the most highly regarded beach on Martinique. It didn’t disappoint; long sandy stretches with palm trees and beautifully clear water. She then took us through a raised walk in a mangrove swamp that was very interesting. She lived in South Africa for 18 years and has been on Martinique for the past 12. She loves meeting international visitors and showing them with pride her country. She was a charming lady.

Sunday morning we headed off for Grande Anse d’Arlets. Another wonderful sail; with the wind and not into it and we arrived at another beautiful little inlet. This one is more like a holiday venue and because it’s Sunday, the place is crowded with weekenders. Similar to Anse d’Arlets just one cove away, the water is about 7 metres deep and crystal clear. Again, there are lots of turtles and each of us had an opportunity over the 2 days we stayed to actually swim very close to a particularly large turtle that had sucker fish companions.

Tea Garden Cafe in Fort de France

Tuesday morning we head off for Fort-de-France where Mal & I are preparing to leave Gina, Bruce and life aboard Wyuna. We anchor a little closer to Fort Saint Louis this time and are thrilled to witness a colony of iguanas feeding. We head into town for lunch at Lina’s and some shopping and return in the evening for a great last meal together at La Baie Restaurant. A band of four calypso drummers out on the street really set the mood for a terrific finale to our Caribbean adventure.

Our LIAT plane

After farewells and amidst pouring rain, Bruce took us ashore and Mal & I boarded a small plane to Grenada via St Lucia and Barbados. It is much hotter back here in Grenada with high humidity. We’re boarding our flight tomorrow to Miami, LA & finally home on Saturday. We’ve had an extraordinary holiday and both Bruce & Gina know how much we appreciate the opportunity provided to us. Best wishes to you both in the continuing adventure, we look forward to following your escapades! Gina & Bruce will be using their blog address from now on which is http://www.bruceandginas.blogspot.com. Their first blog may take a little time so be patient and hang in there.

Also a quick note to Joe and Shawn, previous owners of Wyuna (nee Libertas) who we understand have been reading our blog. Hi to you both. We feel we know you quite well having sailed on your beautiful yacht over the past few weeks. You really created a home away from home and we acknowledge how much of yourselves you put into the boat. It has everything one could need and some fabulous little touches that really set it apart. Our hats go off to you!

Finally, thanks everyone for taking the time to follow our blog and hopefully we’ve provided some interesting insights into life aboard a 47′ leopard cat sailing The Caribbean. A bientot, Sue & Mal, xox.

Bonjour Amis

We are now in Martinique and immersed in the French way of life; c’est bon! We left St Lucia on Monday 30th after breakfast and arrived at Fort de France around lunchtime. The crossing between the islands was similar to previous crossings; rough! We estimate the waves were between 2-3 metres and we averaged, yes averaged, between 9 and 10 knots – we were hooting along! I managed my last “big” sail without being sick so feel quite chuffed!  On all our crossings we’ve noticed lots of flying fish and we’re constantly amazed at how far they travel out of the water! We’ve been disappointed at the lack of marine animals; we spotted dolphins on our first morning leaving Grenada a month or so ago but have not seen any since.  We do see lots of turtles both from the boat and when snorkelling.
Martinique is the largest island we have visited in the Caribbean at 1080 sq kms and with a population of 400,000. All the islands have been volcanic in origin and Martinique still has a smoldering Mont Pelee in the north. It last erupted in 1902 and destroyed the then capital, St Pierre, in ten minutes killing all but one resident. 
Sailing up the west coast of Martinique we spied many cute little villages that we hope to return to during Mal’s and my last week. Only specific ports permit customs/immigration check ins so Fort de France is our first destination. We anchor below Fort St-Louis built in 1640 but still an active military base today.  As we go to shore we notice Chris Doyle’s yacht, Ti Kanut. Chris Doyle is the doyen of sailing in The Caribbean; he has written a series of fantastic guide books for yachties and everyone we’ve met uses them.  We’re just finishing his Windward Islands series as it covers the islands from Martinique down to Grenada. The next series that Gina and Bruce will be using is called The Leeward Islands.
We arrived in town shortly after 5pm when everything was closing. This was new to us as shops on previous islands were often open until 6.30pm. We took a walk around the town which was becoming more deserted by the minute and then had our first French meal at a Lonely Planet recommended restaurant, The Crew, on the waterfront. The waitress spoke a little English but this was our first experience of not being readily understood! Fortunately we all got the food we hoped we would get and each of us was pleasantly reminded of how great French cuisine is; we had individual sauces accompanying our meals that were delicious! Bruce & Gina shared a traditional terrine to start and Mal & I shared an entree of scampi. Bruce had a steak, Gina and I both had fish and Mal had boeuf brochette – good ol kebabs! We enjoyed our French wine and felt very satisfied with our first French meal!
Wyuna Caribbean


The next day we arrived in town early and explored the traditional tourist sights together with the Grand Marche, which was a buzz. Great fresh produce, spices, vanilla pods and a very handy patisserie.  It also sold tourist t-shirts and Bruce & Gina organised four “Wyuna Caribbean” tops which will be a great reminder of this extraordinary holiday.
Grande Marche in Fort de France

One of my pleasures has been swimming off the back of the boat and we have only had a couple of places where it hasn’t been possible. On our return from shopping we all took a swim and performed our boat exercise, “pull ups”. We have noticed the water is getting cooler the further north we have gone but it is still a damn sight warmer than what I’m used to at Lonny, where I rarely put my toe in the water! Kerry & Rob, you’d love it!
Wednesday morning Gina, Bruce & I head into town for a final shop before heading south down the coast to some of those cute little towns. Mal had his much needed quiet time on the boat! I found some nice petite boutiques and made some very wise purchases. Tres bien!
Following lunch of baguettes avec jambon et fromage, we crossed the bay to Anse Mitan and sailed past the tiny coves of Anse Dufour, Anse Noire, Grande Anse d’Arlets before calling in to Anse d’Arlets. This is a cute little fishing village with the clearest water we’ve seen in The Caribbean. We no sooner anchor than Mal & Bruce are in the water. Gina & I join them as fast as we can and spend the afternoon snorkelling and kayaking. Dinner is on board with Mal cooking viande on the bbq and me preparing pommes, haricots and carrots (forgot the French word!!!) or meat and 3-veg for those non-Francophiles!
We awake to another beautiful day in paradise. We took the dinghy ashore and had a walk around town. Really quaint little buildings and tiny streets make for a very charming town. After some beers, fresh fruit juice and half a pineapple, we head back to the boat to gather our gear for some snorkelling on the south eastern corner of the bay. We anchor the dinghy there and proceed to snorkel in the beautiful clear water. This is the best by far we’ve seen in the Caribbean. All soft corals and some pretty fish make for a fabulous afternoon. Back on the boat for pull up exercises, showers and some well earned sundowners! 
We moved today, Friday, around to St. Anne, another pretty little village. 

St Lucia 26-29th January

Oz Day celebrations

Celebrated Australia Day in good style at Ocean Club in Rodney Bay Marina, home of The Arc Rally. General Manager of Marina is an Aussie and put on a great bbq and free beers for Aussies. We invited our Texan and Canadian mates to join us for a night of Aussie music, burgers and local beers by the pool.

Prudent, refrigeration mechanic extraordinaire, sniffed our gas leak and Bruce is now nearly in 7th heaven. It is nearly two days since the repair and this is the amount of time required to be sure it is completely fixed. The fridge and freezer are working a treat and it’s the first time they’ve worked properly since Bruce & Mal arrived. Fingers crossed!

Anse La Raye street

With Bruce in the driving seat, Sue in navigation mode and Gina doing the tourist commentary, the three of us hired a car and took a tour down the west coast of the island. Mal had a day of rest back at the boat! We visited a bustling marketplace in the capital Castries; bought the required cheap DVDs, fresh turmeric and cassava pancake before heading south to quaint fishing village, Ansa La Raye. We were struck by the tiny wooden houses adjoining each other in narrow streets and dwarfed by the local Catholic Church facing the beach. The wood fired bakery was all of 10′ wide but unfortunately he had sold all his bread by the time we got there!

We travelled through some long windy roads with many hairpin bends amongst rainforest ferns, palms, and banana plantations. There were some excellent viewing spots along the coast and it was fabulous watching other “cats” crashing through the waves as we had a few days before.

View of Petit Piton from our table

On the recommendation of the local beautician at the marina, we decided to head for a restaurant overlooking the Pitons, Ladera, which didn’t disappoint. The restaurant was open air, three tiered and had the most  spectacular view framing the valley and bay between the two Pitons. The food was fantastic and Sly Stallone, aka Bruce, took every opportunity to “shoot” the visiting birds with the water pistol allocated to our table. On our return trip to Rodney Bay, we took a detour at Soufriere to the Botanic Gardens and waterfall – very restful.

Sunday saw us leave the marina and anchor off Pigeon Island. We had a relaxing day swimming and reading and preparing for our trip on Monday to Martinique. I’ve attached a photo of our greengrocer, Gregory. On Saturday we ordered pawpaw, tomatoes and avocado and Sunday he arrived with them all – now that’s what I call service!