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Quick, To Dominica!

Quick, To Dominica!

In the last post, we ended up in Fort du France celebrating some smaller carnival festivities once again. Andrew has left us for a hotel and his flight, and we have another big night of Carnival coming up.

We have created quite a little schedule for ourselves over the coming days as we are on a list to get hauled out of the water on the 23rd of February and the last big day/night of Carnival we want to attend in some way is on the 19th in Fort du France.

Between the 19th and 23rd we need to:

  • 19th Attend Carnival
  • Sail to Dominica
  • Explore Dominica
  • Sail to Terre-de-Haut to meet Teulu Tribe (another British ketch)
  • Sail to Guadeloupe Marina ready to get hauled out

First job, Carnival!

The parade walked a circuit around the whole of Fort du France, and we mainly watched from a large patch of grass near the dinghy dock, where ours, Extress’s and lots of our other boat friends’ dinghies were tied to.

We had decided to sail to Dominica on the same day as the carnival, well in reality this was just after midnight. So we headed back to the boat after lots of celebration at around 9pm eating some dinner and heading to bed.

Lying asleep in bed we heard some sound outside and went to investigate. Extress had rowed all of the way from the dinghy dock to Hannah to try and steal our boat flag (ensign). They rowed not only to make less noise but also had a broken outboard engine. Unfortunately for them, they made a bit too much noise in the process of stealing it and we heard and were able to keep it! We actually did a lot of flag “swapping” in Sal, Cape Verde but we forgot to write about it… Maybe next time Extress 😉

Midnight rolled around, our alarm went off, we had a little nibble and pulled up anchor.

To our surprise, we pulled up quite a large rock stuck under the rollbar of our Mantus anchor. We actually saw another boat have this problem a few days ago, but with a much larger rock, they basically pulled up half the sea bed!

We managed to get rid of the rock, pull up anchor, and be on our way.

Extress radioed us a few hours later to see how the sail was going and played us a little tune. The night started off calm, and with the main and Genoa out, we were making good progress in the flat seas with Adam on watch and Kathryn sleeping.

When the time came to switch roles, the sun was just rising, the wind picked up and we started coming out of the shelter of the island, so Kathryn had a bit more of an exciting sail, and Adam a bit more of an exciting sleep. Time to reef.

We arrived early afternoon into the same mooring area as Danae who were just one mooring buoy over.

We arrived over a festival weekend so most things had closed for the festivities but we managed to get a local guide to take us on an intense day of hiking with a refreshing dip in a gorge after.

The boiling lake trail is a volcanic hike to a thick grey lake at the top with an intensely boiling centre, supposedly well over 100 degrees in the centre and still over 80 at the edges. The trail leads to a flooded fumarole, a type of volcanic vent that emits steam and gas. The Boiling Lake is the world’s second-largest hot lake and is filled with bubbling greyish-blue water that’s heated by the magma beneath the surface.

The hike was about 15km in total and my phone thinks it was the equivalent of climbing up and down 239 flights of stairs!!

The first part of the hike was through dense rainforest, all the plants were vibrant greens and even some pink-leaved ferns.

After a little while the environment changed to more open mountainous views overlooking both sides of the island before dropping back down to a milky-coloured stream that ran over smooth rocks.

After yet another steep climb up we came out looking at sheer rocky cliffs stained with a rusty brown colour from all the minerals in the volcanic rock

As we descended another stream formed from a spring in the mountainside, as we got closer the smell of rotten eggs was intense from the sulphur bubbling out of the rock. The volcanic activity here causes the water to boil in many places along the little stream and you can even boil eggs in it!

Some areas were safe to touch so we got to experience the warm water.

As the stream continued it collected in natural pools in which you could bathe if you want, we didn’t really want to smell that bad for the rest of the day though so just admired them from the shore!

We finally reached the boiling lake summit and we were greeted with thick steam rising out of the lake. Every so often enough breeze would come through a blow the steam away for long enough to have a good look into the crater. The power coming from the centre was amazing, no wonder so much of the energy generated in this area comes from thermal power!

After the hike back again It’s safe to say my legs were dying for quite a few days, totally worth it though.

Hidden deep in the verdant wilderness of Dominica at the end of the Boiling Lake trail lies the enchanting Titou Gorge, a picturesque gorge formed from molten lava that cooled and split apart, it was then smoothed by a pristine river and waterfall. It’s a serene oasis that feels like a secret paradise, sheltered by towering cliffs, lush vegetation, and a stunning waterfall that cascades down into the dark pool below. With a life jacket, we swam through the clear, cool waters and marvelled at the natural beauty that surrounds them, enjoying the cold waters after a strenuous hike.

We got back to the village in time to see a little bit of the festival and its incredible costumes before heading back to the boat for a well-earned rest.

These festival celebrations were a little different to what we had seen before, each event we have gone to has slowly added more and more speakers and bigger trucks. Some of the trucks here were so loud, we really could have done with ear defenders and to think that the first event we went to in Saint Anne was mainly just instruments like drums etc.

We had to leave for Guadeloupe the next day but in the evening SV Danae snapped a great pic of us on our mooring just before all the light disappeared.

Onto Guadeloupe next and the fun of hauling the boat out in a foreign country 😲 stay tuned for next time!

Martinique, take 2

Martinique, take 2

We sailed back to Martinique after dropping both Daisy and Anna in Saint Lucia, once again arriving straight into Le Marin and St Anne.

This time the sail was much easier and the motor was not needed at all, although the crossing was a little rough and took its toll on Andrew’s stomach!

We once again met up with Danae and Artemis who had now overtaken us in our adventure since we hopped back south for a few days.

They let us know that some Carnival celebrations would be happening in St Anne, so we went to investigate with them! Little did we know this would be the start of a month of carnival for us.

We couldn’t ignore the amazing supermarket that was Leader Price, so once again headed there for another trolly full of supplies for the coming week.

We probably bought more Brie than we would normally eat in a year during our short stay in Martinique.

Our next stop was Marigot du Diamant, a less visited anchorage in Martinique, according to reviews it can be a little tricky to navigate and anchor in, but we had no problems.

As we approached the anchorage, Kathryn managed to catch a Cero Mackeral which made for a perfect sunset dinner cooked Mediterranean style in the oven for three. This is the biggest size fish we can fit whole (minus head and tail) in the oven 👌

It’s always nice catching a fish, but it can be a lot of effort in the Caribbean due to the amount of sargassum seaweed floating around and the risks of ciguatera toxin poisoning which comes from fish that eat reef fish, particularly as we near and pass Guadeloupe.

In this anchorage, we got Andrew out on the water for his first-ever SUP experience, and we all (one by one) explored the bay ourselves, including to try and catch a few small waves that were breaking on the central reef.

Next, we aimed to try and find some mangroves and headed all the way into the Fort du France Bay to Petit Ilet.

We anchored just in the lee off the island in mud. Researching the island we knew there were some picnic benches and knew that people came on little tours here so there must be some things of interest over there.

After cooking up some pesto pasta, we headed with the pot in the dinghy to eat on the island and then have a little walk around. The first bit of wildlife to come to our attention were the 2 friendly chickens that wanted some of our pasta. But there was more to see too.

The following day we moved anchorage to the other side of Petit Ilet to be slightly closer to the entrance to the mangrove-sided river, just on the edge of a no-anchoring area.

We took both the dinghy and the SUP up the river to see the mangroves and wildlife that lived in and around them. To our surprise, the most common animal here were the mangrove tree crabs, which are normally bright yellow and seemed to cover every single mangrove we could find, even way up in the canopy, and always hiding on the other side of the branches.

We had to move back to our previous anchorage as a local came passed in his boat and told us that apparently, we couldn’t anchor overnight where we were even though the chart said it was fine. We moved mainly to avoid any further confrontations 😲.

Before we knew it, it was the 12th of February, and Andrew had less than a week left with us.

The next stop was one of the most northern anchorages in Martinique that we were destined to explore near Saint Pierre.

First on the tourism list for Saint Pierre was the zoo which was literally a stone’s throw from where the boat was anchored, the zoo’s landscape and environment were lovely, based within the ruins of the oldest habitation in Martinique, the main house and its outhouses, including a small hospital and waterwheel were put to ruin by the volcanic eruption which we found out more about in the museum we went to the following day.

Further into the town was a fairly nice and modern museum covering the history of the island, particularly the Saint Pierre area which was dramatically impacted by a volcano eruption.

Saint Pierre was once the thriving cultural and economic capital of Martinique, known for its bustling port, vibrant arts scene, and luxurious lifestyle. However, in 1902, the town was completely destroyed by a massive volcanic eruption from nearby Mount Pelée, which killed almost all of its inhabitants. This tragedy left an indelible mark on the town and its people, and today, the ruins of Saint Pierre serve as a powerful reminder of the town’s rich history and the devastating impact of natural disasters.

Andrew loves a good meal out, so once again we headed to find some delicious food after the museum.

Keen to start heading back toward the airport (a short taxi ride from Fort du France) we started heading south once again, choosing to anchor at a place called Four a Chaux.

There wasn’t a whole lot to see snorkeling this time, but there was a wonderful Hawksbill turtle! (We do love them, especially when the visibility is great!)

Hawksbill turtles are sea turtles found throughout the world’s tropical oceans including the Caribbean and are known for their beautiful shells and important role in maintaining the health of coral reefs by feeding on sponges and other reef organisms. Unfortunately, they’re critically endangered due to threats such as habitat loss, pollution, and over-harvesting, so it was a blessing to see a young one.

Continuing south we entered the Fort du France bay but once again headed deep into it to anchor somewhere new at Les Trois-ilets.

We had already prepared to have a couple of BBQs toward the end of Andrews’s time with us. One just the three of us and another with Extress as once again as they would be catching up with us.

With plenty of BBQable food aboard, Andrew set about making burgers and we lit the BBQ which hangs off the back of Hannah.

Sausages and bacon went on first while the burgers were being prepared. The burgers came out and looked delicious and gigantic, and on they went. Unfortunately upon flipping the burgers, the weight of them had bent the inner BBQ (which is just a disposable BBQ), and the entire thing slipped into the sea.

It’s probably one of the saddest moments so far aboard Hannah, seeing 4 delicious and gigantic half-cooked burgers drifting away downwind to become fish food. 😭 At least the sausages and bacon were already cooked and off the bbq so we got to eat those.

Anyway, the next day we headed back to Fort du France to anchor once again. Extress arrived a few hours later and we brought a bag of BBQ supplies to BBQ aboard Extress so as to avoid any more BBQ disappointments.

Our sailing with Andrew was complete, with Martinique part 2 being the final set of hops.

Andrew decided to spend his final night in a Hotel to freshen up on stable dry land before his cross-Atlantic flight back to Europe. 👋👋

Carnival struck once again, and although the big day would happen once Andrew had left, there were some pre-carnival carnival events to go and see.

The first being the introduction of the carnival queen.

And the second that evening being a show of floats and cars.

Before the two of us could contemplate continuing on to Dominica and then to Guadeloupe where we had arranged to get hauled out in a boat yard for some repainting, there was a little more carnivaling to do. But that will have to wait until the next post, as its quite intertwined with the crossing to and being on Dominica itself.

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Until next time!

Martinique, take 1

Martinique, take 1

Last time we left you in Saint Lucia, now we are off to Martinique, for more fun shenanigans. Get ready for 5 onboard again!

Located in the heart of the Caribbean Sea, Martinique is a picturesque island paradise that’s a must-visit destination for sailors. With its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and year-round tropical climate, Martinique is the perfect place for an adventure. From the charming coastal towns to the lush rainforests and towering peaks, there’s no shortage of natural beauty to discover.

We sailed from the marina at Rodney Bay, leaving slightly later than planned as we couldn’t check out at immigration over lunchtime, so after a slow morning we set sail after lunch. We were beating hard into wind and waves, slowing progress significantly, and decided to motor sail most of the way so we didn’t get in at midnight. It was still after dark by the time we arrived but having read the reviews on Navily about the Saint Anne anchorage we knew it was going to be safe to do so, it is by far the biggest anchorage with the most boats we’ve ever been to, it still had loads of room and the whole bay was a perfect 5m deep with a sandy bottom. In the morning we looked out onto the sheer scale of boats we were anchored amongst, hundreds and hundreds on sailboats.

Our search for a cheap food shop finally came to an end when we found a ‘Leader Price’! So we went to town on stocking up the boat, It’s perfectly aimed at cruisers with a dinghy dock right next to the shop which you can take your trolley down to. Martinique is a French island so it’s well connected to mainland France with all its great cheese and wine, after this we had the fridge full to the brim, well for the next week at least as we ate through all the fresh produce pretty quickly with lots of people on board.

We knew one of our boat buddies Vela was going to be sailing into the same bay, Saint Anne after crossing from St Lucia that day so we decided to invite them over for a lasagne dinner, they loved the invite after a long day’s sail. Cooking for 8 on a small boat is always a laugh, I think we ate 5 lasagnas with no leftovers 😂

As a gift in the morning from Vela we got a delivery of croissants and fresh bread from a bakery on shore.

On XXX we went snorkeling on the reef at the channel entrance into Le Marin, this was one of the first times we got to try out our new dinghy anchor which we bought in a Chandlery in Rodney Bay. The anchor was well set and we all jumped in to explore the underwater world, not long later I looked up to check on the dinghy which turned out to be much further away than expected! I yelled to Adam “It’s floating away!!” Adam quickly jumped into action and swam after it, only later realizing he still had his snorkeling weights on which made it hard work, luckily he made it to the dinghy and the kill cord was still in the kill switch, so not long and he was back. Turns out the knot had come undone between the dinghy line and the anchor line, after that, we tied it together with bowlines, not reef knots, and haven’t had a drifting dinghy since!

Despite this, we all managed to have a great look around.

We wanted to explore something land-based so we climbed the hill in St Anne up to a religious shrine/ outdoor church and got some lush views on the way (including the picture of the St Anne anchorage earlier in this post)

In the evening we found a very popular beach bar and got some drinks, when the sun started to set we found out why it was so special, the view of the anchorage in front of the setting sun was spectacular.

Daisy makes a cracking carbonara so she whipped us up a quick dinner that evening with copious amounts of pasta 🤤

The mission the following morning was to pick up our 5th crew member, as Andrew flew into Martinique later that day! We sailed out of the lovely protection on Saint Anne and around the southwestern corner of the island to Anse Noir where we did a quick shuffle around of people and got his bed sorted and then picked him up from the pontoon in the little bay in the late afternoon.

Having 5 onboard, where not everyone knows each other/ only one couple was a new experience, it meant Kathryn and Daisy shared the double in the saloon and Adam and Andrew shared the double in the front! Anna got a good deal in keeping the aft cabin to herself 😋

We had organized to go canyoning near Fort Du France the following day so after a very early start we sailed across the bay which only took about an hour to the busy anchorage at Fort du France. Just to add to the time constraint we found the holding to be rubbish so we ended up setting an anchor 3 times which never happens, finally happy that Hannah Penn was not going to drift away after we left, we all hoped in the dinghy and went to land to get a taxi

Andrew had a relaxing day café-ing whilst the rest of us put helmets and wetsuits on and jumped off some waterfalls, abseiled down bigger ones, and climbed and swam through deep canyons, the rainforest all around was gorgeous, so green and vibrant and full of life. It was a welcome change to be in fresh cool water and we all had a blast.

In the afternoon our canyoning guide gave us a lift down the mountain to a shop where we could get some bbq supplies, we met up with Andrew again and went back to the boat for a good old-fashioned BBQ in the sunset.

We heard from some friends that the best snorkeling in Martinique was in a bay called Anse d’Arlets, so we headed there.

On a bouyed-off area (to stop boats from getting anywhere near) there is an amazing little reef, like an oasis of life in the middle of a deserted ocean floor.

We saw all kinds of fish including some super-friendly angel fish.

And we managed to snap this great video swimming behind a Turtle!

I’m the evening we went for cocktails, Adam and Andrew got to talk in-depth about work and the girls chit-chatted in the golden sunshine.

Snorkeling isn’t something Andrew had done much of before so we left him, Anna, and Daisy to go back one more time whilst I checked us all out of the island in preparation for our sail back to Saint Lucia.

It’s now the 1st of Feb and we had an easy downwind sail back from Martinique to St Lucia, so took this opportunity for some boat shenanigans.

We jumped off whilst sailing and you had to swim to a rope dragging behind the boat to get back on board, thankfully everyone got back to the rope in time so there were no MOB maneuvers necessary, getting dragged behind the boat whilst sailing is a fun experience and it lets you feel the power of sails, even when only going 4 knots (any more and you’d struggle to pull yourself back to the steps!)

We did some similar towing earlier in our trip.

We later arrived back in Rodney Bay.

There was no space in the Marina for us this time, so we anchored just outside.

We headed to a pizzeria we had been eyeing up the last time we were at the marina, it was so tasty we ordered a 6th pizza halfway through our meal!

Next, we hire a car and explore the island for a couple of days before Daisy and Anna head home, but that’s for the next port.

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