As of January 31st we setup noforeignland, if you have been following our journey & haven’t looked us up on there, be sure to have look. The map of our journey is quite cool to watch develop.
noforeignland is actually pretty cool. We use it to track not only our journey, but it’s a great way to follow other boats too & keep in touch with the people that you meet along the way. We have already managed to catch up with a few people met in various anchorages because of it.
The other great thing about noforeignland is that it allows you check out reviews for different anchorages & see what facilities are available (ie market stands, bakeries, food shops, fuel, chandleries, recycling and rubbish bins ++).
Here is our map (as of the 19th of Feb 2024), if you click on the image, it will take you to our profile page on noforeignland, where you can see our boat profile, with a whole host of other information.
With Kim, Cath & Dom already anchored at Pointe-a-Pitre, they informed us that there really wasn’t much more space for us to anchor there with them & the mooring balls across the channel weren’t much better, with us unable to find a way to book ahead, we made the decision to anchor at Ilet Gosier.
It was the first time we anchored, where I was not dropping the anchor, as I had a meeting that I needed to be in. Emily however, was super chuffed to be able to look after doing it, so it looks like there is someone to backup my job now, maybe even steal it. 😂
The winds were not ideal, so our first night there was like trying to ride a bull and sleep at the same time (video). Then a storm blew in the next day & the anchorage was dead calm by the afternoon, amazing what a change in wind direction can do. I unfortunately didn’t get any video of the dramatic & very welcome change.
We ran to shore the morning after we arrived (before the storm rolled in) to quickly grab a few things we needed from some chandlery shops in Pointe-a-Pitre before it was due to pour. It was a decent walk, but pretty flat, so not too bad, something we appreciated a little more on the way back, when we were loaded up.
Between a few chandlery shops we managed to get most of what we needed, including a lifeline clasp, new lines for the headsail (genoa) & some covers for the lifelines. We have had an issue with lines being shredded by the rubbing on the bare lifelines, so hopefully the covers help. We also got a couple of flags & some other misc spares we needed to replenish. After getting everything from the shops, we made our way back, stopping at Leader Price and a lovely produce market to replenish our food stocks. Boat parts & food, such a successful day!
Friday evenings there is a lovely night market just onshore in the big green space at Le Gossier, so instead of shooting through quickly, we decided to stay on. It was well worth it. We did some laundry earlier in the day as well & managed to get it all on board, before the rain that came. Unfortunately the laundromat we found was much further than another one that Kim found the day before. She added the closer laundry to the map on noforeignland, for others though, which is awesome.
The night market at Gosier was well worth it. You need to get there around 5ish though, because by 7pm some of the vendors have already sold out of a lot of things. We picked up more produce and some food to eat for dinner, before the rain that we expected much earlier in the day, hit. We missed seeing Kim unfortunately, but we did catch up with Cath & Dom at the markets.
Cath & Dom parted ways with Kim on Breizh Fenua the day before & contacted us about perhaps joining us on our next leg to Riviere Sens/ Basse-Terre, so they came aboard Friday night in preparation for our departure. We had originally planned to leave on Saturday, but decided to delay until Sunday, so that we could explore Îlet du Gosier and check out the lighthouse there. It was an interesting outing. However, as it was raining & the island turned out to have a large number of Manchineel trees on it, we had to quickly make our way through certain areas.
Every part of the manchineel trees is poisonous, that includes the bark, leaves, fruit & especially the sap. The fruit that grows on them look a little like tiny apples. If you stand under the tree in the rain, the sap that runs off the tree will cause blisters & you definitely don’t want to get it into in your eyes. They often mark the trees with a big an X, & there are often signs, but on the island we didn’t see any signs, just big X marks to make you aware of questionable trees. Wikipedia has a nice little write up about the manchineel tree if you want to read more.
We had a pretty early departure on Sunday, as planned, in a bit of rain, but it wasn’t too bad. The trip was pretty good, although as we came around the headland towards Basse-Terre, the shackle that was holding the mainsail (to the traveller snapped), which meant that the boom was not secured. We all worked together though to secure it & the boat & no-one was hurt. After anchoring, Dom & Cath took the kids for a bit, whilst we sorted out repairs, putting in some putty to patch a couple of areas & we found a shackle in our spares to replace the one that had snapped (drilling out the threaded side to fit). Video showing the damage is here & the picture that follows is the new shackle in place.
Sailing life is wonderful, 90% of the time it is bliss & then there are moments that get your blood flowing & the repairs that often follow. Those moments make you appreciate the blissful ones. 🙃
PS A picture I uploaded onto noforeignland, was featured on their social media, which we thought was pretty cool 🙂
The passage from Dominica to Guadeloupe was one of the smoothest that we might ever have.
The water was so glassy & there was very little wind so we just motored across from Mero Beach (Dominica) to Terre-de-Haut, Les Saintes (Guadeloupe). With the water so calm & enough solar, we were able to run the watermaker whilst underway 🎉. It made getting a call to do some work at the last minute, a much more pleasant experience than it could have been too. I find a life jacket really sets the tone of a conversation. 😅
Approaching Les Saintes from Dominica made for quite a lovely scene. What with all the rocky outcrops about & the larger islands of Terre-de-Haut & Terre-de-Bas nearby. Les Saintes is actually made up of 9 small islands, 2 of which are inhabited (Terre-de-Haut & Terre-de-Bas). Terre-de-Haut was where we spent most of our time. It’s a busy place with ferries that come & go often & there always seemed to be a cruise ship about as well, but with a seperate dock for the cruisers, there didn’t seem to be any issues with securing your dinghy somewhere, although the dinghy dock did get a little crowded sometimes.
Geoff announced almost immediately that Guadeloupe rates as one of his favourite places so far & I have to agree. If we were able to speak a little more French, beyond the absolute basics, it would make it even easier, but alas we are French impaired.
Checking in at Terre-de-Haut was super simple & cost 4 euros to use the computer & printer, we got there at the end of the day, before it closed at 6pm, which we were quite happy with. I would have sucked if we had missed getting to shore in time & had to do it all again the next day.
After checking in, we checked out the local Discount Market to get some food. The fresh produce was such a lovely sight to see again. Guadeloupe & Martinique are French territories, so are known to have a good selection of food & that’s certainly what we have noticed. Check out the veggies in the IG post I shared
We had one night on anchor, but didn’t like how close everyone was to us & our proximity to some rocks (underwater) & the changing winds, so after the first night we pulled up anchor & decided to get a mooring ball (at Les Saintes you just grab a free one, you don’t book), we decided to stay on a mooring ball for the rest of our stay in Les Saintes, traipsing back to LSM where you have to go to pay for a mooring ball. The balls are reasonably spaced out, & we get one on the edge, which we found spacious enough for us. The mooring ball was slightly closer to shore & the dock, so it made for a slightly shorter run in, as a bonus.
We had a few days there, as we waited for a decent weather window, which allowed us to hike up to the fort, which was a nice enough walk. The fact that it was closed by the time we got there (get there before noon), was just an added bonus, after hauling butt to get there. Our picnic lunch that we brought with us was nice to eat in the entrance tunnel (mostly as it provided some relief from the sun’s heat) though. There were dozens of others who came up after us, which was somewhat comforting, at least we weren’t the only ones to have treked up, only to discover it closed. Then again, most of them seemed to have hired golf buggies to get up to the parking area at least, so really the joke was on us, who still had to haul ourselves down the hill again.
We also did a walk up to Les Chameau Ile Des Saintes which had some tremendous views (we got some great pictures of the boats in the bay, you could even see ours) & there was the hilarious incident with the chickens which I am glad I captured on film. As the only gimp in the family, I have to say that I did find it a little hard on my knees, especially when we scrambled down the hill, instead of scrambling up it at the start.😅 The beach was lovely when you came down though, more so for a quick dip & to chill. The snorkelling there was nice enough, but we have definitely seen better, especially around where we were first anchored, we were a little sad to see so many sun bleached conch shells all over the beach.
The island in general is incredibly beautiful. We loved the chicken & chips shop that was on the way to Carrefour & picked up a cooked chicken there a couple of times. There was also a butcher that had cold cooked chickens that we went to a couple of times with a lovely beetroot salad that we all enjoyed.
We crossed paths with Kim, Cath & Dom again too. They had anchored nearby, so we all caught up for more games a couple of nights too whilst we were there, which was lovely.
This time around it was their turn to leave before us, but a day later we followed them to the mainland, headed to Pointe-a-Pitre.
We had a days recovery, after all the excitement & then decided to make the move up the coast to Mero Beach to meet up with Kim, Cath & Dom on SV Breizh Fenua, who were anchored there.
It took us close to an hour to untangle from our mooring ball at Roseau, which was somewhat hilarious. We ended up staying in Roseau for 6 nights which meant we had one wicked tangle in both the lines we had running to the mooring ball with all the swinging we did. 😅
Mero Beach was nice. For the first night or two it was pretty calm & then it progressively got more rocky. We were glad to have managed to put our Rocna anchor on at Roseau before we left, which held well. As the rockiness increased though, we reused the former main anchor, as a stern anchor, which seemed to improve the rockiness, a little.
Mero is lovely, but is heavily focussed on tourists (mostly cruise ship passengers) who come there to lounge on the beach for the day, so there isn’t much there in terms of provisions. After a few days anchored there, Geoff & I took a walk to St Josephs, a nearby village, to get some fresh veg. It isn’t uncommon to have to wander to a nearby village in different places & they are so close together it isn’t too bad to do.
Our walk to St Josephs was nice, (albeit a little warm). We felt quite welcome, with everyone we happened across, greeting us as we went by. On our way into town we saw a lady selling fresh avocados from her front door & happily grabbed a couple (which made their way into some sushi – yum!). With some guidance from locals, we then found a little shop that had some more fresh produce & picked up some potatoes, onions, tomatoes, bananas, oranges & some cucumbers (no carrots though), a pretty good haul to be honest. We even got some roadside chicken seasoned with green sauce (OMG I love green sauce) on the way back, a successful trip.
Buying provisions on the islands isn’t often as straight forward as it is in Canada, and you never know exactly what you might find, but makes it such a wonderful experience. I quite enjoy the hunt to be honest.
Our time with Kim, Cath & Dom, was enjoyable, it was great to have some regular social interactions with others for a bit. We shared meals sometimes in the evenings & played boardgames. There was some time playing in the water of course & we all hopped aboard our boat one day (very last minute) to chase down whales. Unfortunately, we didn’t actually see any whales, but it was fun to go in search of them & get to know everyone a little more, plus we found this HUGE net way off shore, poorly marked (black flag on a small floating buoy) which humoured all of us (would suck if you came across that at night though).
We also enjoyed going conch hunting together, where we managed to get more than enough to make some conch sushi one night. Our method of removing the conch needs some work though, as it was an incredibly time consuming activity, with not a lot of reward, but an experience none the less which although a little messy & stinky, the conch still tasted pretty good. There really is a lot of satisfaction in foraging for some of your own food & then getting to eat it. I can’t wait to catch some fish…
We left Mero a day before Kim, Cath & Dom did, forgoing our original plan to stop in Portsmouth, to grab a nice weather window & go straight to Terre-de-Haut, Guadeloupe.
When we return to Dominica it will most likely be via Portsmouth, as we will be entering from the north. We will try to check out The Indian River, which featured in Pirates of the Caribbean. Something to get excited about seeing on the journey back.
Our adventures in the Roseau area were not to finish with simply a tour of the area & meeting & making new friends from Montreal, (whilst we all waited for a small marine shop in Roseau to open).
Just as we thought that we were ready to move on, other plans were a foot, that we were unaware of.
On the 25th of January, Geoff woke up early in extreme pain. There was a hope that whatever was going on might pass, but things didn’t improve, so sometime after 5am I enlisted some help from SeaCat (I called his whatapp number) to help get Geoff off our boat. SeaCat not only came to our boat & helped me to get Geoff to shore, but also drove us to the hospital (Dominica – China Friendship Hospital).
What would follow for us, would be hours of frustration in trying to get anyone to listen & take Geoff’s pain seriously. I am grateful that English is one of the official languages there, so that we could somewhat communicate with the staff, but any belief in having a shared language & thus being heard & listened to, diminished rapidly.
At first Geoff was thought to be a drug seeker, then he was just someone with a bad gastro experience. I tried to explain that that was impossible, but they were convinced that, that was the answer & we had to keep pushing to be heard. Their minds seemed made up though, because apparently drinking bad water is a common issue with the locals all the time, & we were clearly no different. Trying to explain that the puking was literally from the pain & he certainly didn’t have any diarrhoea, was met with looks of disbelief & comments that clearly there was evidence to the contrary. To them he was clearly a horse, not a zebra, no matter what we said.
Hours after admittance to the ER, we discovered that his bloodwork was never sent to pathology & the ultrasound we fought so hard for, was going to take longer to happen, as the paperwork was never sent across either. This all came to light after I managed to grab the attention of a doctor, not milling around & chatting with everyone else at the nurses station.
The doctor that assisted in the quest for answers and in getting his doctor on the case, mentioned that she was actually there to fix some issues in the department in terms of keeping staff to task, motivating some of the staff to do their jobs and be more efficient. I definitely appreciated her presence & stepping in to motivate as she did.
I can only hope that the person who left the blood splattered all over the glass window, which was next to Geoff, had better luck in being seen in a more timely fashion. It looked like it had been there for a while though, so maybe it was an accumulation from a few people? Pondering how the blood got there & how long it would be there & when it might be noticed & cleaned, entertained me a little. So did creating a list of things that I would bring next time; a sheet to put on the bed, a blanket & some water and food to eat.
Geoff ended up having 2 ultrasounds, because we complained that the first one, not only lacked any investigation but was mostly focussed on taking random pics on the right, as opposed to the left. The second time, the doctor that had Geoff under their caseload, actually came in & the technician & doctor spoke in another language to each other for part of it. I am pretty sure the technician was not amused that she had to do another ultrasound, after our last interaction.
After a few hours & as Geoff was starting to feel a bit better, the doctor we had, concluded that it was likely a kidney stone that he passed, although when we asked for a copy of the records (which they hand wrote for us) we noticed that whomever wrote it out, went with the gastro diagnosis, which he didn’t have any symptoms of. It was such a surreal experience, but I am glad that it was a kidney stone, because there are no airports on the island & a ferry wasn’t due any time soon, so I had no idea how to get him off the island if it had been anything more serious & with him in such a poor state.
I think that if it happens again, the idea of going to hospital for assistance isn’t going to rate as highly, or at all, especially if it was to happen (the next time we are) in Dominica.
Huge thanks to SeaCat & Marcus (Marcus does regular security runs) who both went & checked on the kids on the boat a few times whilst we were at the hospital as well, as well as our new friends, Cath, Dom & Kim (from Montreal) who although they were further north of Roseau reached out & offered to assist if required when we were unsure what was going on.
We all slept well that night, exhausted from the days activities & happy that Geoff had been able to pass the stone without complications.
From the very start, our time in Dominica (NOT Dominican Republic just to be clear) was memorable.
Martinique to Dominica was our first passage on our boat & it would also be the first time we broke out the sails properly. We used the head sail (genoa) before, but never the main, because we didn’t have to.
We paid attention to the other boats around us & felt good about our decision to have a reef in the main & 3 turns on the genoa. When we caught the wind, as we moved out of the shadow of Martinique there was excitement in the air. The autohelm was coping well with the swell as we navigated through the moderate waves. Not only could the boat could move but it did so with ease. We got up to 9 knots of speed (in 22knots of wind speed), which was faster than we had ever gotten on Can Knot Agree before. Heaved to on the port side, giggling away, the boat dipped a little lower, so that the rails were underneath the water (this is why you always close hatches when you are underway) and then we suddenly found ourselves spun around, facing the direction we had come from & in irons. A quick adjustment of the sails & work at the helm meant that we were quickly underway again, but unlike Geoff, I was a little rattled, even though the boat did exactly as it should when overpowered, it was still a very new experience.
After that we ended up with 9 turns of the genoa. The extra turns did help a little, we had a couple of additional little spins, but nothing like the first time. Once we got into the shadow of Dominica things settled a little (still a decent amount of wind to keep us going) & the rest of the sail was pretty smooth.
Approaching Dominica the differences were obvious, it has a little bit more wildness to it, with steep cliffs that dropped into the sea. We knew that when we arrived in Roseau, we would need to secure a mooring ball, due to the depth of the water. Dominica has more of a steep drop in most places, so mooring balls are sometimes your only option & they also encourage people to use them to protect the seabed & coral that anchors can get tangled in or inadvertently destroy. There are some cruisers that get quite annoyed by that & would prefer to skip the island entirely, which is a little sad, but to each their own.
Some of the prices in Dominica we found rather jarring. Most memorable was the capsicums (peppers) at $17 CAD + each or a carton of juice at $20CAD. I don’t know how the locals could ever afford those prices & feel that most must not, but it is only the tourists who do. We are not those tourists though & did not buy any peppers or juice. The cucumbers were nice though & a little more reasonably priced, even with the weight being in lbs & not kilos. (Huge fans of the metric system as you can see) 🙃 We did do some provisioning in Roseau, but were certainly careful about what we bought.
Roseau which is the capital, was where we moored at first. We tried to organise a mooring ball in advance with SeaCat, but had to do as everyone else does & hail him on channel #16, which felt a little odd, especially when there isn’t even a switch to another channel made after the initial contact is made. I think it’s an island thing though.
We arrived on Sunday afternoon & there weren’t any ferries or cruise ships in port, so we couldn’t check in that day, but first thing Monday we checked in without any issues. Geoff brought our paperwork (passports & a copy of our boat registration) as well as our paperwork from Saint Pierre plus our Sail Clear reference number with him & had us all checked in without any issues & a lot cheaper than using an agent, which gets pushed a little in guidebooks as a service that SeaCat & others offer at a price, but we didn’t feel the need & preferred to do it ourselves. Of note, we didn’t even have to pay out of hours rates for an arrival outside of the hours that customs & immigration were available, which we really appreciated, as we knew that isn’t always the case.
If all you saw of the island was based around what you see from the sea & perhaps some provisioning in Roseau, you would be missing a lot. Roseau is a big town really & certainly not the prettiest but the Roseau valley area is absolutely stunning with it’s wild wilderness feel & abundance of waterfalls and rivers that can be explored. Sidenote, there are actually 365 rivers on the island!
It was so refreshing to swim in some of the rivers & a great way to give all our bathers an extra rinse after months of swimming in salt water only 😅 (they were washed a few times, in that time to be fair).
We did a tour of the Roseau Valley via SeaCat with a tour guide/ driver named Stowe, which we really enjoyed, not the cheapest though ($250 USD + we had to pay extra costs, which we didn’t realise as we thought that it was all inclusive) for the 4 of us for the day, but he did go at our pace, which wasn’t especially fast, especially in the pouring rain that day.
I think that you can negotiate the price down a bit more than we did, but we were a little confused by the process. We all enjoyed the tour a lot & are really happy that we did it, but we certainly can’t afford to do that often. For a bit of a change of pace though, it was really nice.
This post is getting a little long, so be sure to read part 2 of our time in Dominica, where we got to test out the local hospital system…..
Martinique will always feel like a home base on this journey. We spent a lot of time there, a great deal of it albeit was at the dock in Le Marin & due heavily to medical issues, but during our time there, we got to know some amazing people. Many lived there, but there were fellow cruisers like Pam & Kim from Canada that we met on Kemana & the other Canadians on a Cat called eSKape, that we hope to cross paths with again on our travels.
As much as we were all chewing at the bit to leave the dock & were throughly frustrated that it took so long to do so, I do miss some of the familiarity that we had whilst we were there.
Le Marin ended up becoming quite comfortable to find things. We got to know all the marine stores (even knowing which ones to go to for what & which ones to avoid if you needed helpful advice, due to indifference from the staff 😜 – for the record it’s the one attached to the boatyard near Carrefour).
Most of our errands in Le Marin were to places accessible by foot or bike, until the week before we left, when we finally managed to get the dinghy sorted (we were jammed in next to boats on both sides, so we left getting the dinghy sorted until the last minute, as we didn’t technically have space in the water near us & were a little paranoid it might go missing). Pretty sure the dinghy saved us a few flat tires once we started to use it too. Geoff & I had issues with tires bursting, from what we assume was a little too much weight on them, after some supply shopping & our weight to boot. Who knew riding a bike could give you a complex? 😜
After the dinghy was sorted, Leader Price then became one of our favourite places to go to, as they have a dock for the cruisers to use to tie up to & load up from. For reference (mostly ours later) I generally found Thursdays were the best, around mid morning to get things, because they seemed pretty well stocked up, ready for the shelves to be depleted by Friday.😂 Early morning, every day, was best to go the markets to get fresh produce & fish, as I assume it is most places.
We left Le Marin on the 1st of January, a wonderful way to start 2024. We had paid for our space at the dock until the end of December & it was also the date that Geoff was able to take off his air-cast & switch to a smaller lace up brace – whoop whoop, we didn’t get everything sorted that we had hoped to, before we left, but it was enough.
Our first couple of nights were rather memorable, when we picked a rather rolly anchorage off Saline Beach. We could have anchored off Sainte Anne, but we decided to pick Saline Beach as it had a little less traffic & we wanted to test out the anchor without many people around. There was a good reason not many were there, it felt a little like how I would imagine it would be if someone tossed you in a washing machine. Poor Geoff was not feeling good at all for those 2 nights & was glad to have the dinghy to go to shore for a break. We lasted 2 nights, accepting that after the 2nd night it was really not going to improve & we would have to move to Sainte Anne with all the other boats. 😬
Sainte Anne was much calmer (we initially made our way as close to shore as we could) but you were very much aware of how close everyone was to each other. We had issues getting a good hold (which isn’t an uncommon issue & is documented in sailing books) & ended up anchoring in 3 different places off Sainte Anne beach. The first two times we had to move because the anchor dragged. The 2nd time it dragged though we had an added surprise. When we pulled up the anchor we found ourselves having to remove a decent size rock/ coral off the anchor, which it must have collected as it dragged (see the reel linked here from IG, when we were ditching the rock after removing it from the anchor).
The 3rd time, we anchored at the back of the pack, at the south side (closest to Saline beach) & managed to get a good hold, it was a little rolly again, but still better than Saline had been & honestly we were just happy to have a good hold. The issues that we had with anchoring there in general though, made us use a trip into Le Marin by dinghy to get other supplies, to also buy a Rocna anchor (which was not cheap, but we were glad to have it). We knew when we bought the boat that we wanted to get a different anchor than what was on it, so it wasn’t entirely unexpected. Paying $1500 on an anchor though, still hurt a bit. Peace of mind definitely has a price.
Sainte Anne, despite it’s issues with anchoring, was quite lovely overall. Not an overly impressive anchorage, but comfortable. It was also where we found our first Conch (alive, not an empty shell) and some starfish. The GoPro finally got some use too, although some of our video was a bit dodgy as we tried to figure out how to use it in the water properly.
From Sainte Anne we went to Grande Anse d’ Arlet to see the turtles, where we spent about a week anchored off shore. The snorkelling there was lovely, you were guaranteed to see turtles every day, some more sociable than others & there were lots of other marine life, including some octopus and trumpet fish.
Whilst at Grande Anse, we took a day to walk over to Les Anses d’Arlet, hiking around the headlands in the rain. It was quite a nice walk, although a little muddy, but we definitely appreciate the moments when the temperature drops slightly and the sun is not scorching you as intensely. Produce is very hard to get in Grande Anse, so whilst we were in Les Anses d’Arlet, we stocked up on fruit & veg from a market vendor who although he was packing up by the time we found him, so graciously allowed me to shop.
By the time we left Grande Anse, the novelty of swimming with turtles every day had started to wane & we desperately needed to empty the holding tanks & offload a bit of compost (which you do out at sea at least 3 miles out). We had no real need to go to FDF (Fort de France) and had already spent a great deal of time at Martinique so we took a run to Saint Pierre, getting out the mainsail for the first time, although we ended up deciding to just stick with the headsail, as it was enough. It was nice to see large amount of flying fish that we did on the way. They are amazing little creatures, sometimes as small as hummingbirds, flying ever so low to the water as they go & often for 5-10 metres or more at a time.
Saint Pierre was a lovely place to explore for a couple of days. It was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1902, killing tens of thousands when it happened. They have tried to preserve parts of the town that give an idea of the destruction that occurred there and if you ask at the info bureau (which is also where you check in & out from), they can give you a map which shows the walking tour that you can do on your own. There is even a small museum that you can visit part way through the walk which we found interesting. The museum was lovely and air conditioned, but of note, you will not find a bathroom in it that you can use.
Saint Pierre was a major trading port at the time of the eruption, so there are a number of wrecks about the place, that were in port at the time & sank. The wrecks are something to be considered when you anchor out there, most wrecks are deep, but not all. Oh, we found out that if you see a large cruise ship off shore, then the dinghy dock is off limits to cruisers, so you need to pay attention to notices posted on the dock as to dates that a cruise ship is in port.
One of the highlights of our visit to St Pierre was a trip to the gardens & zoo that they have there, which we just happened to anchor just off shore of. It’s set in an old plantation & distillery that was destroyed when Mt Pelee erupted. Absolutely amazing place to visit, not so much for the zoo aspect, but the old buildings & the scenery. We spent hours there, we loved it so much. It was a great way finish off our stay in Martinique, before moving on to Dominica.
Of note: Checking out from Martinique was super easy, you can do it online for 5euros (uploading all your documents direct – passports & boat registration paperwork), or you can go into the office & log your paperwork on their computer there for 3euros. The website address to use is: https://clearance.marina-martinique.fr I have left the URL as is, as the site is a little glitchy & clicking on the link often results in errors, but if you type it in, it seems to work. You need to use a chrome browser to access it. We were able to check out in advance, giving a date & then all we had to do was leave on that day, which we found super easy.
Well, the trip has been interesting so far, it has taken me a while to recap, but I am slowly getting there.
Our journey to move onto the boat started at the start of November, with Geoff & Emily arriving to start the process, whilst Levi & I sorted out stuff in Canada. Staggering our arrival times by a couple of weeks, worked out quite well as Levi & I brought a lot of stuff that was inadvertently forgotten or that we had thought we didn’t need with us, when we came. It also enabled us to get a little more done around the house too.
Unfortunately, a few days before we arrived, Geoff & Emily were playing basketball with some other families & he ended up injuring his ankle. A week after the injury, and after a lot of discussion we decided to fly him home (seemed to be the cheaper option, as he flew back on points) & it was confirmed that he had a break. Which was honestly not a huge surprise.
He had to wait to have an appointment with an Ortho surgeon, which took a little bit, but finally we found someone he could be referred to who was NOT on holidays at the time. Otherwise he was going to have to wait until the week before Christmas to be seen & then potentially try to get a flight out, which was not ideal.
Even though there was a little bit of added stress with Geoff heading back & not having a definitive time for him to return, it really was the best choice, as it allowed him to be at home & rest his foot a lot more than he could at the boat. An added benefit of him being at home, was that he managed to collect our WISE cards and a few other things missed/ mostly things that would be NICE to have. Although, I really appreciated that he was able to bring our nesting rectangular Pyrex dishes with lids that I didn’t have space for when I came. Those have been amazing for food storage & even as serving dishes. There are not many rounded storage areas in the galley, so straight edged items help to reduce wasted space.
His appointment with the Ortho Surgeon went well, in terms of news in general (no surgery required) and getting a bit of guidance. Having clarification that he needed to wear the aircast for the rest of December & then switch to a lace up brace to provide stability whilst sailing, seems simple, but it helped give peace of mind. With that information in hand, he booked flights back the same day of his appointment.
Of course that didn’t ensure smooth travel back though. The day that his flights were to happen a HUGE snowstorm hit. He had 2 flights changes that resulted in cancellations & then after some calls to Air Canada, managed to get flights back. This time instead of flying Ottawa to Montreal to Fort de France (FDF), he would be flying Ottawa to Paris & then Paris to FDF. An ordeal at best, but with a broken ankle in an aircast & with a bit of luggage in hand, made all the more interesting.
Meantime in Martinique, things weren’t going smoothly for the kids & I. The same day Geoff flew out, Emily seemed to be exhibiting signs of having Dengue. We quickly ran out of kids Tylenol (paracetamol) & I realised that all the Advil, that we prefer to use in general, would have to be shelved, as it increases the risk of bleeding, whilst having Dengue. Emily took about a week to recover, which was incredibly fast, she was lethargic & had a high fever that came with a rash a couple of days before she felt better.
When I realised I had gotten it, just as she was getting over it, I made the mistake in believing that I too would be on a similar timeline, instead it took me about 3 weeks to recover. I was extremely lethargic for a long time & could smell everything, so had a disinterest in food, which didn’t help with my lethargy. I became throughly discouraged by my allergies and travel & honestly just wanted to go home & be sick there. I was actually too unwell to make the trip back, so that really wasn’t an option, but I admit it crossed my mind. There is something to be said about having the comforts of your own bathroom, to lie in the shower for an extended period of time with water falling over you & to rest/sleep on a bed that is motionless, when you are unwell. It was incredibly frustrating to have so many facilities close to the boat, yet unable to get to them, even the dock was insurmountable at one point.
Then just as I was starting to recover, both Geoff & Levi got Dengue too. So now Geoff had both a broken ankle & Dengue at the same time, so not cool. This further dragged out progress on projects that we needed to finish before we departed, which added to some frustrations & some projects were ditched to do later (like sorting out the heads).
Christmas Day was rather quiet, with both Geoff & Levi sleeping away most of the day, but by New Years Day spirits improved, not so much because everyone was feeling 100% better, but we finally left the dock at Le Marin, weeks later than originally planned, but we were finally on our way – wohoo!!!
Last week was fun, we went from watching a tropical depression build, hoping that it might magically disappear (we all need some delusion/ optimism in life). To reality hitting, as it was officially called a Tropical Storm & given a name, Tammy. Not long after that, it moved up the ranks to a Hurricane status in some areas. She was not playing it cool it seemed.
Tammy held our interest more than most (since we procured our boat), due to location. The storm started a lot lower than most & was on a trajectory that would place it very near to Martinque, where we have our boat currently. Early on, we were both a little concerned parts of the island might take a direct hit, but it was fine, it did in fact turn & our little hurricane hole, kept it’s reputation in tact.
The eye of the storm passed by Martinique on Saturday, but the only real impact to the area where we have our boat, was a decent amount of rain on Sunday. It appears that the area wasn’t hugely affected by higher tides & the other islands that have been hit so far, don’t seem to have fared too poorly overall, which is good.
Keeping tabs on Tammy for a week + has been a great exercise in studying weather reports and getting to know the area a little more extensively than we have until now
I didn’t realise how vague some of the tropical storm reporting was until Tammy happened & then I suddenly felt a need to decipher reports that made mention of areas (without naming specific islands). I now know the names of the Leeward1 & Windward2 islands (see footnotes) & that they make up The Lesser Antilles, which is the correct way of referencing the area of the Caribbean that we plan to spend most of our time in to start, rather than the broader “Caribbean” term that everyone knows.
For anyone else who is visual like me, I have embedded an image from Google Maps to show the island chain & give a general idea of the area. You can click on the “view larger image,” (top left of the image below) which will take you to google maps, where you can further scroll around the area & zoom in, if you so desire.
Once you have a point of reference, it makes looking at the Tropical Storm Force Wind Probabilities archived graphics, a bit easier to decipher. You can totally ignore that link, but I suggest having a look. It’s actually pretty neat to watch the images of Tammy as a slideshow & see the storm move about.
As much as tropical storms & hurricanes are par for the course, whilst the oceans continue to warm there is an expectation that they may become more intense. Not great news if you like to be on the water like we do or live along the coastlines.
Here’s hoping that people actually start to listen to science, rather than their hip pockets at the continued expense of the planet. Yeah, I know, I know, that seems very optimistic, given reality, but don’t forget I am somewhat delusional, as already mentioned.
Leeward islands are; US Virgin Islands, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Martin, Saint Barthélemy. Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Guadalupe, Montserrat, Saba ↩︎
Windward Islands are; Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & The Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, Martinique, Barbados, Dominica & Granada ↩︎
Ahh October, the craziness has well & truly begun!!
With Geoff finishing work at the end of September, it has brought about some sanity in-house. Emphasis on some, lets not give any illusions that we are all suddenly 100% sane in our house.😂
October is typically crazy for us, with family birthday celebrations, Canadian Thanksgiving, a wedding anniversary & halloween. At the end of it, we (as in the old people, not the kids) usually fall in a heap, happy to have survived another October.
This year it’s all that + trying to get organised for what lays ahead, and homeschooling activities, including a thai cooking class for all of us & blacksmithing for the oldest . C-R-A-Z-Y, but in a good way.
Geoff has been especially busy, moving forward with renovations and other projects we have on the go, as well as doing a lot of the kids school work with them.
We have managed to paint a few rooms, do most of the mudding in the last room in the basement that required it (so that it’s almost ready to paint, we will need to pick a colour for that soon I guess) and the bathroom is steadily moving forward.
He’s doing an amazing job with homeschooling to be honest too. His use of ChatGPT/ AI Automation has definitely enhanced the homeschooling experience for the kids. There’s a noticeable difference in prep work too. Instead of spending hours creating or searching for a specific worksheet, like I used to do, he can now create tailored worksheets in minutes, great for math & english work so far.
I think I’ve convinced him to write about the process as well, so be sure to watch out for that post, or better yet subscribe to our updates… go on, you know you want to (just add your email off to the top right & hit subscribe).
In boat news, one of our big wins, was that we managed to get a watermaker organised. A watermaker was on our must have list, so that we can generate our own fresh water as we go. We can carry 800L of fresh water on our boat, so this will give us the ability to top up our tanks as we go, and not be so reliant on water supplies coming from docking often.
Anchoring out & then using our dinghy to come in for what should mostly be food supplies will be much easier to manage & keep costs down too.
For those curious, we purchased the Zen 50l watermaker by Schenker. It makes 10L less per hour than the one we were aiming for, but has a smaller footprint & was also thousands less, so it we’re good with it.
“The Pile” of stuff that we’ve been collecting since early September, is growing every day, as we continue to figure things out too. We have been piling everything we are looking to bring, in a section of the lounge for now. Very soon it will move into a big open space near the fireplace, so that we can actually start to sort things into groups of items & go through our lists a little easier.
Packing for what is essentially an expedition, means that we lots of different things to bring, there’s (folding) bikes & items related to our bikes, things for water activities, kitchen gear, electrical, tech & camera equipment, homeschooling, creative arts, boardgames & even some cleaning & hygiene items, not to mention some clothes as well.
We have no end date, which means constantly reminding ourselves not to get too carried away, because the reality is, all that stuff still needs to go somewhere on the boat & everything needs to have a tangible purpose.
Hopefully our plan for staggered arrival dates, will help to make sure as little as possible is left behind too.
Geoff & Emily will go down first & bring down as much as they possibly can in the first load (see countdown clock labelled phase one on the left below). Then, Levi & I will bring what’s left, a couple of weeks later (phase two below, on the right) plus anything else that we managed to forget/ need to procure ASAP.
Kinda crazy to think how little time is left, before all of our planning over the last few years, becomes reality, something that we are all very excited about.
Please feel free to leave any questions or comments you have about our trip, in the comment section below