We stayed in St Anne for a nearly a fortnight and, when in need of supplies or chandleries, motored the dinghy into the wind and waves, around the corner to Le Marin.

St Anne's church square.

St Anne’s church square.

Ashore we continued to explore and found Calvary Hill, with its stages of the cross leading up to a small chapel.

One of the  stages of the cross on the way up the hill.

One of the stages of the cross on the way up the hill.

The top of Calvary Hill behind the church, looking down over the anchorage.

The top of Calvary Hill behind the church, looking down over the anchorage.

At Easter the entire hill was covered with people and in September there is a huge pilgrimage when 5,000 plus throng to this tiny village and the hill.
We also found a pétanque piste and managed to play boules one evening……..the boules were a little rusty and so were we!!
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On one of our forages to Le Marin, the out board moteor decided to sprt oil out of its broken dip stick hole! Explaining such technical problems in French is beyond my third form vocabulary, but somehow we got our problem across and ordered the necessary part, which was due to arrive the following Wednesday. With a wooden bung and a bit of cloth, the offending hole was stuffed and we headed back to St Anne’s, still leaking a little.

The sunset over Diamond Rock on our last night in St Anne's.

The sunset over Diamond Rock on our last night in St Anne’s.

We decided to move round to Le Marin and anchor, until the arrival of the new dip stick assembly………a good move because we met up with Serge and Charlotte on ‘Kuaka’, Rolf and Danilella on ‘Yelo’ and Margot and Edwin on ‘Abejmir’……..all old friends from Jacaré, Brazil. We had some good evenings catching up with news and plans for the future.
We also went in search of Stamen and Durita, who had said they were out of the water having had a problem with ‘Gaia’ and we guessed they may be in the Marin boatyard.
As we walked towards what we thought was their boat, Stamen appeared and the strain of the last three weeks on the hard overflowed as he hugged us. They were living in complete upheaval. They had cut their leaking water tank out of the keel and were having a new one fitted into the space by Pascal, who was building it with ply, fibreglass and epoxy. The air was thick with fumes and fiberglass fibers, that make your skin itch just thinking about it.
There was no question………the sails were moved up on deck and the front cabin became their home for the next five nights. It was lovely to see them and be able to help them……….we know how depressing living on the boat when everything is upside down is. They are now relaunched and we hope to see them again before too long. We tried to persuade them to take a trip north to Antiqua, before they head south for the hurricane season, so who knows?
With outboard fixed, we said goodbye to all our friends and headed along the coast to Grande Anse for the night

Our anchorage at Grande Anse.

Our anchorage at Grande Anse.

and then on to St Pierre the following morning.

Looking down on IK from the city wall near the museum.

Looking down on IK from the city wall near the museum.

St Pierre was the original capital of Martinique and was known as the Paris of the Caribbean. It’s a strange feeling walking around what is a mere shadow of the former town. The population today is 4,000 compared to the 30,000 in its hay day.
Many of the buildings are either built with the stones from the ruins or incorporating remaining walls.

A ramshackle building on the beach.

A ramshackle building on the beach.

The town has recycled itself and clearly the idea of recycling runs through the art of the town!

Artist house on the beach.

Artist house on the beach.

One for Dan!

One for Dan!

We spent the night just off the town quay anchored next to Ron on ‘Restless’, the single handed Yotty that we first met in Tobago. After a supper and the best part of a bottle of rum he rowed back to his boat and we pulled up the dinghy for an early start up to Dominica.

Island Kea just off the beach wit Restless behind

Island Kea just off the beach wit Restless behind

We got off to a very good start with the wind over the starboard beam and sailing along at 8.5 knots, but as we approached Dominica, the wind got caught up behind the mountains and we were turning in circles trying to sail……..eventually we had to resort to the motor to clear the wind shadow…..then back to the sails when the wind steadied and on Roseau.

The anchorage at Roseau, Dominica.

The anchorage at Roseau, Dominica.

We spent two very rolly nights in Roseau, because I needed to get to a ophthalmologist and have my long awaited pressure test done.
We forget how lucky we are to have the NHS. In Dominica I had to go to the surgery at 6am to collect a ticket so that I could then return at 8am to wait my turn in the crowded corridor.
At 9.30 we were told that the Doctor had arrived and my number 9 was eventually called at 12.30! Once again I was impressed with the care I received, if perhaps a little late arriving, and the doctor gave me four months worth of prescriptions to cover the fact I’m traveling.
Having been treating my left eye with drops the good news is that the pressure is now well within the limits, but the less good news is that the right eye pressure is high and I am now using drops in both eyes………I’m so lucky the Glaucoma was picked up early, as there is absolutely no symptom that I could detect that the pressures are up.

Having got up so early, we took a stroll around the market.

The stall where we bought our passion fruits for our morning smoothies!

The stall where we bought our passion fruits for our morning smoothies!

Dominica is quite different to Martinique. It is far less affluent, but the people are very friendly and open and the modern and old sit right next to each other.

The old and the new next door.

The old and the new next door.

Small producers trade under the multi national KFC sign.

Small producers trade under the multi national KFC sign.

Our next stop is Portsmouth and a much more sheltered harbour. Two nights clinging to the bed is enough for even the hardiest sailors!

During our last few days in Bequia we did a fair bit of walking and saw some more of the island.

Tucked back behind a fence we found this house that clearly belongs to a local seer, but we couldn’t make much sense of the slogans!

The 'Seers' house. Unfathomable Truths!

The ‘Seers’ house. Unfathomable Truths!

After a fairly strenuous climb, there was a great view from the old battery on the top of the hill overlooking Admiralty Bay.

Looking down on IK in Admiralty Bay.

Looking down on IK (bottom right) in Admiralty Bay.

The day before we left we walked over to the much more rugged east coast of the island and stopped for lunch at this small hotel, in a sheltered bay and right on the beach.

Lunch stop at  Sugar Reef Café.

Lunch stop at Sugar Reef Café.

Driftwood Chic!

Driftwood Chic!

Relaxing before our trek back over the hill.

Relaxing before our trek back over the hill.

The view across the bay from our calm and shady spot.

The view across the bay from our calm and shady spot.

We could have stayed longer in Bequia and it is definitely somewhere we can strongly recommend for anyone wanting a stress free relaxed time in the sun. Who knows when we will be round again, but ‘We’ll be back!’

We set off from Admiralty Bay at lunch time on Tuesday, having worked out that the trip to Martinique should take 16 hours…….26 hours later we dropped anchor in St Anne on the SW of the island!!….. Needless to say the winds and currents were very fickle and at one point, as we cleared the north of St Lucia, the wind went from 25knots to 8knots in the blink of an eye and shifted through 90*.

We didn’t stop in St Lucia on principle, as this is the island where our dear friend, Roger Pratt, was killed. As we passed we were able to listen to the morning Cruiser’s Net on the VHF radio and during the ‘comments’ slot, broadcast the reasons for our boycott. The perpetrators have still to be brought to trial, over 14months after being arrested……delayed justice is no justice for Roger’s wife, Margaret!
It was good to hear the discussion that followed. Roger and Margaret are not forgotten, but I wish more cruisers would vote with their hulls until the authorities do more about the level of poverty, drugs and crime on the island and make their judicial system much swifter.

Approaching Martinique, we saw the sailing cruise clipper that anchored near us in Union Island.

Clipper Royale. All sails reefed by furling gear......no hands up aloft in this era of health and safety!

Clipper Royale. All sails reefed by furling gear……no hands up aloft in this era of health and safety!

The history of the Caribbean is so closely linked by the sea to its European colonial masters, so ships like this must have been a common sight as they transported people, raw materials and, shamefully, slaves around the trade wind triangle.
A romantic fortnight of fun today, but a hard and brutal life 150 years ago!

Martinique is the largest island in The Windwards and it is a department of France and it looks and feels like it.

My French is being exercised daily, but luckily we find that in the ‘technical shops’ there is usually someone who speaks good english.

This is a very popular anchorage amongst cruisers and we have met up with three boats that we’ve met before. Getting the local ‘knowledge’ about services and places to eat, visit and avoid makes for an easier time.
We took directions for the car hire office…….’along the beach ’til the end and turn up the path to your right. You can’t miss it!’…….needless to say, with directions like this, we got totally lost and we ended up wandering through what used to be a palm plantation and now is a very chic ‘Club Med’ resort.

Club Med grounds. Did they use palm plantations for oil back during the industrial revolution? If not....what were they for?

Club Med grounds. Did they use palm plantations for oil back during the industrial revolution? If not….what were they for?

Car rental office finally located, but by the time we found it, it was closed for the two hour French lunch break. We decided to return the following day and try again.

Having said Martinique is the largest island, we were still able to drive around the island in a day, avoiding the rush hours. Apparently there are more cars than people….500,000 cars v 400,000 people.
These are some of the sights……

Our Trusty Stead for the day.

Our Trusty Stead for the day.

Looking across to Mount Pelé that erupted on May 8th 1902, killing 30,000 and wiping out the entire capital city of St Pierre. Only 3 survivors!

Looking across to Mount Pelé that erupted on May 8th 1902, killing 30,000 and wiping out the entire capital city of St Pierre. Only 3 survivors!

St Pierre. Some of the scorched buildings still stand under the shadow of Mount Pelé.

St Pierre. Some of the scorched buildings still stand under the shadow of Mount Pelé.

Our Lunch stop spot in St Pierre.

Our Lunch stop spot in St Pierre.

A total surprise. Down a cart track we came across a huge water sports centre. No sign posts....purely for those in the know!

A total surprise. Down a cart track we came across a huge water sports centre. No sign posts….purely for those in the know!

On Good Friday, we were back on foot and walked out along the beach and woodland trail to the south of us ……

On the beach and woodland trail to Les Salines on the south of the island.

On the beach and woodland trail to Les Salines on the south of the island.

……..and discovered en mass ‘wild camping’. All along the beach, families had set up their camps including generators, domestic freezers, sound systems aswell as tents, shelters and gazebos for the four day Easter break.

Le camping sauvage sur la plage. Wild camping on the beach!

Le camping sauvage sur la plage.
Wild camping on the beach!

There must have been over a thousand people, but there were no cars in sight and no children whining or screaming and no raised voices. So unlike British campsites………maybe it’s the sun that chills everyone?

On Friday evening we were invited aboard ‘Madéo’ for a barbecue, we first met Patrick and Florence in Jacaré and then again in Trinidad.

Chez Patrick et Florence sur 'Madéo'.

Chez Patrick et Florence sur ‘Madéo’.

Patrick helped sort out our refrigeration. He speaks very little English, but he and Marcus can talk for ages…….you just have to sit well clear of the gesticulating arms!

So ……… Martinique is a refreshing shot of Europian civilization, but we are planning to move on to the next island, Dominica, on Wednesday. Another English speaking island, sandwiched between the two French islands of Martinique and Guadaloupe, but probably one of the poorest in the chain. We have been told it is beautiful and ‘unspoilt’, so with our newly exercised legs we’ll be ready to explore.