Our stops to new anchorages or islands has been rewarding and varied in many ways. Sometimes the daily routine of finding our way and how to anchor or moor, figuring out the whereabouts of each place can be challenging and a bit tiring but also rewarding and mysterious. Each spot has hidden treasures. Our boating and cruising abilities are definitely improving as is our confidence with the boat. This makes the passages and technical parts that much easier and smooth. Its not to say we don’t run into stressful moments and panic but at least those are a bit less than before, thankfully!
The time we have together as a family is abundant - and that can be good and somewhat frustrating too. For the most part, we find our groove and have been enjoying the journey.
After leaving le Marin for all the updates to the boat, we headed out again making a short stop to St. Anne to get some much needed kiteboarding near the Club Med. We even splurged and got a day pass to enjoy a relaxing and luxurious day at Club Med and used it as an excuse for some future vacationing research :-). Andreas and I felt like dinosaurs getting back on a windsurfing rig since we had left our kiteboarding gear on the boat.
Our next anchorage was St. Pierre which has in interesting, almost spooky, history about it. It used to be the capital of Martinique and in 1902 its volcano blew and killed all but 2 people in the city-one of them a prisoner. Many remnants from the time of the eruption are being conserved and rebuilt which makes visiting interesting. There are a few ship wrecks near the anchorage that have been protected. Those were too deep to snorkel in but we did snorkel to two underwater mermaid statues-very cool to see lion fish swimming out of the mermaid's mouth! We anchored for a few nights in crystal clear waters and waited for a good wind/swell window to cross up to Dominica.
The passage to Dominica Island was windy with squalls and 1.5-2m swells. The Atlantic is so much more alive and strong and we experience it mostly when crossing from one island to the next. Once we arrive to the west, caribbean side of the islands, its calm and collected. This smaller, lush island is distinctive. You sense a poorer population however, whatever it lacks in material wealth, it makes up for in natural beauty. And its people value and cherish their beautiful island which makes it a gorgeous place to visit and appreciate. The day we arrived, Andreas caught a flu so Enzo and I went with a guide to visit the rainforest, waterfalls, hot springs and canyon. Despite it raining almost the entire time, it was awesome and we loved what we saw. At every hairpin turn our guide would stop to have us try or smell something he’d stop on the side of the road for. We drank fresh coconuts, smelled nutmeg, lemongrass, cinnamon and tried fresh cacao. It was quite a treat. We hiked to a waterfall and were soaked to the bone from all the rain. On our excursion we met Tim and Jenny, a couple from Minnesota that were fun to explore with. They were sailing their boat for 3 weeks and it was enlightening to share stories.
Dominica is a very small island with only 2 main areas to anchor at. Portsmouth is the north western town with a large protected bay. We anchored alongside Tim and Jenny’s boat and hopped onto a local boat to visit the Indian River. It was impressive to see how well the locals respect their environment and the nature. There are no motors allowed on the river which makes it serene and you can soak in the jungle around.
The town itself is simple and rustic with a laid back atmosphere. However at night its a different scenario. We spent 4 nights and every one of them was flowing with music from the various bars on the beach. Saturday night was especially entertaining with a full blown wedding and a rather obnoxious DJ that Enzo imitated for days after.
It was good to be back on a french island! The food always tastes better. This cluster of islands South of the mainland is popular and we lucked out on getting a mooring the first day. Because of its popularity it gets a lot of ferry traffic as well as the bigger cruise ships. Its nonetheless very charming and you can visit the entirety of the main island either on a scooter or a golf cart in just a couple hours - which initially, was our plan. Andreas finally had gotten over his virus but lovingly passed it on to Anais… and not only did she seem to have the virus but also throwing up. Between the fever, throwing up and becoming extremely weak, we took her to see a doctor and got her on an antibiotic and meds to help. It was 3 days of suffering for her before she got better. At least we were in a nice spot and could get access to doctors or meds if needed.
We met a canadian cruising family on Jayana whom we had a lot of fun visiting with. They’re a very sweet and talented couple with 2 boys, Mael and Lohan who are 8 and 4. Although quite a bit younger than Enzo, they had lots of fun snorkeling and catching lizards together. Their 2+ years of cruising was amazing to hear and we continued sailing together up the east coast of Guadeloupe.
Notoriously famous for its Cousteau Reserve which many come to snorkel and dive to. We left Iles Saintes and headed downwind for a stop here. As soon as we anchored we spotted the welcoming turtles and geared up to snorkel around the tiny island of Pigeon. Jayana was anchored close by.
Charming little town with an anchorage free of ferries and not too crowded. We were welcomed to this bay by dolphins which is a first! The waters are so clear you can see the anchor and everything else around. We felt welcomed and were eager to explore more of Guadeloupe before heading to the next island. We rented a car with Sylvain and Sounda for a few days to head up into the rainforest where we picnicked and hiked in gorgeous local spots. It was a welcome change from the ocean and beach and a breath of fresh air. Stops at a local Cacao grower with really interesting and yummy tastings, a botanical garden and fish farm. Enzo successfully flew the drone over the river and higher up at a peak where the views of Guadeloupe were impressive. He’s getting a good handle of flying as well as taking footage and creating awesome clips. Sylvain also has drone which has inspired Enzo and given him good tips and confidence.
Having a car made it easier to provision and stock up at the french supermarket. You can never have too much good french cheese and bread!
Our last day of touring we packed as much as we could in; zip lining in the forest, a quick lunch at the market and then hopped aboard a boat to visit the mangrove and northern parts of the island. Our french guide had a dry sense of humour, calling the kids ‘des ordures’ [trash!-yeah, not cool] but taught us lots of fascinating things while speeding us through the shallow waters. Sylvain flew his drone above, magically catching scenes from the sky that looked like surreal paintings. We made a stop at the ‘office’ to have a rum punch which was a wooden structure built in the middle of a shallow reef barrier. The sun set, the frigates and egrets flew above, landing in the mangroves as we sped by in calm, clear waters - what an awesome day!