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Martinique

Bill enjoying his cigar

Bill raises the French flag

We had a nice first evening in the anchorage just chilling out. Bill enjoyed his end of passage cigar. It was one of three that James had given him for Christmas; he had saved it. The next morning he raised the French courtesy flag before we headed into the marina. There’s a big Club Med complex on the beach that looked nice.

Club Med on the beach

A ship carrying the yachts.

On the way into the marina this ship was anchored outside.  I’m going to get in trouble for this but it’s a bit cheating, isn’t it? It’s probably taking them back to the UK or maybe Europe.

Getting into our berth was a bit of a struggle because they have Med mooring here which means you need 2 long lines tied to the bow and 2 on the stern.  As Bill backed into position I handed the bow lines to the guy in the marina work boat who tied them to 2 buoys.  Meanwhile he was pushing our bow into position as Bill was reversing.  Fortunately Ken and Eiloo were waiting on the pontoon ready to catch our aft lines.  The dinghy got in the way so Ken managed to lower it on the pontoon as Bill released the davits. Luckily there aren’t any photos of this because it was all a bit difficult but once tied up we could all have hugs and congratulate each other on our passages.

Camomile has goose barnacles on both sides from the long passage

Camomile has a very dirty waterline from sailing for so long.  We went up to the office to check-in, a very simple procedure. Why can’t all check-ins be like the French? It was nice to be on dry land again after a month at sea. Strangely I don’t experience the swaying that many people do when they get off their boat. We headed to a bar for a coffee, arrr civilisation again.  I had a look around the local supermarket and bought a few things but wanted to wait to do a proper shop at the bigger store. The afternoon  was spent scrubbing the decks to get all the salt off.  It was great to be able to use the water again, there had been water restrictions in South Africa. In the evening we joined Ken and Eiloo and their son Kenneth and his girlfriend Dasher for a meal.

Raining in paradise

Brilliant launderette

The next morning we awoke to rain – had I needed to wash the decks???? I hit the laundry.  Not having been able to do any washing since SA there was a lot of it. They have a great laundry here with big machines that take 14kgs! During the day I had 2 of those going plus a smaller 11kgs and a couple of driers so everything was washed including mattress and pillow covers, towels, t-shirts, the lot. I’m left with a pile of ironing now. Yes I do.

While I was busy doing that Bill had the dinghy upside down, scrubbed off and found 3 small holes in it (it has to be pumped up every day).  I arranged through the office for the local dinghy repair man to come and pick it up that afternoon and take it away for repair.

Tuesday Bill got the bikes out and we went to visit the dinghy in ‘ospital, all was progressing well. There were lots of other dinghies in the same ward so T bag was happy. The big Carrefour was our next mission but we couldn’t carry a lot in our back packs so we returned the next day for a second shop and also to visit the chandlers to see what they had to offer.  Tom and Susie arrived on Adina in the afternoon and it was arranged to share their hire car for a day trip around the island.

Pretty fishing harbour

Fish for sale

Thursday 23rd we joined Tom and Susie at 9.30 and Tom drove off over the hills. The first stop was a local fishing village called Le Vauclin.   The stalls on the beach were displaying some delicious looking fish but as it would have to spend the day in a hot car we decided against buying any. I think these were parrot fish although they weren’t colourful like parrot fish normally are.

Beautiful scenery

The ruins of the house

After a little walk around we got back in the car and drove to the presqu’île de la Caravelle which is a 12 kilometre peninsular on the Eastern coast of the island that protrudes into the Atlantic ocean. Fields of sugar cane with wonderful views of the ocean surrounded the access road. We made our way to the tip of the peninsular and walked the track that led to the remains of Château Dubuc built in 1740. I was so happy I love looking around places like that; Tom had chosen the prefect spot as far as I was concerned.

What a beautiful view the house would have had.

The inside. You can see where the floor was.

 

 

 

The ruins were very well kept and we were each given a laminated plan of the ruins with a sort of pen that gave an audio guide as you placed it on each of the points on the plan. The accent was a bit difficult to understand but it was really helpful in explaining the area.

The old kitchen

 

 

 

These photos are taken of the remains of the main house.  This was the old kitchen. The bread oven can be seen in the bottom right side of the picture.

 

 

 

 

 

Tom and Susie walking down to the next section.

 

 

 

Bill stood by the cahots

Inside the ‘cell’

These are said to be cahots, small solitary confinement cells for the slaves that would have worked there or maybe storage for the sugar cane; I prefer to think they were the later. As you can see Bill wouldn’t have been able to stand up inside them.   Just to the left of the entrance you can see a small slit in the brickwork that was for air and a small amount of light to get in. It doesn’t bare thinking about the stories those walls can tell.

The sugar cane factory ruins

 

 

To the left of this photo is where it all started. They have created a model of how the process was performed. The sugar cane would have been pressed in between the rollers as either donkeys or slaves would have walked around in circles to turn the rollers. The sugar cane syrup would have dripped down through a hole in the ground, along a chute and into the cauldrons behind the furnaces to the right of the photo.

Furnaces

 

 

This was the furnace area. There would have been 4 furnaces pushing their smoke into the chimney. The remains of the chimney shown would have been much taller.

 

The caldrons

 

 

 

 

Behind the furnace were the cauldrons used to boil the sugar cane syrup to form the molasses, the start of the process for producing rum. It takes 10 to 12 tonnes of cane to produce half a bottle of pure alcohol.

 

The warehouse ruins

 

 

 

 

This is the remains of the warehouse area that contained the barrels of molasses.   The production continued up to 1793. Life for the slaves working on plantations like this was one of unimaginable barbarity. There were many uprisings and after the revolution of 1817 many slaves were given their freedom. By 1852 the descendants of Dubec sold the plantation to a nearby distillery and the chateau fell into ruin. It was restored in 2004.

Driving across the top of the peninsular

The St James Distillery museum

We had a delicious lunch in the village of Tartane then continued onto the St James rum distillery in the village of Sainte Marie. The delightful old colonial house contains a very interesting museum on the history of Agricultural rum, of which St James’s rum is one, and is produced from pure sugar cane juice as opposed to industrial rum manufactured from Molasses, the residue from the sugar industry.

The building was beautiful inside

Sampling the rum

During February to June, during production, the distillery is open for tours but only at 10.00 and 11.45 so unfortunately we were too late, (for any one coming along behind us).   It was still possible to have a tasting so various rums were tasted and bought.

Susie and I enjoying a pineapple juice

 

 

As we were three quarters of the way up the island we all agreed to drive onto Grand’Rivière a jewel of a fishing village at the northern tip of the island. It was a thrilling drive of hair pin bends, overgrown hillsides and bridges suspended over gorges. The road ended at a black sand beach overlooking the gap between Martinique and Dominica where Susie and I enjoyed a freshly pressed pineapple juice before the long drive back to Le Marin.

Tom and Susie

 

 

It was wonderful to spend time with these two who recently got engaged in South Africa (so the conversation was mostly about weddings). We met them in Rebak last Christmas and have sailed with them on and off during this last year. Tom calls me his sailing Mum and I call him The Cheeky Monkey!

Thanks for a great day Tom and Susie.

Bill rowed T bag back to the boat

Friday morning I cycled the road that encircles Marin for some exercise and spent the day on my computer writing. In the afternoon T bag the dinghy came back on a trailer and the guy helped Bill put it in the water. Unfortunately he put it in the wrong side of the pontoon walkway and to get back to the boat Bill had to row all around the outside of two pontoons full of boats.   I had a cold drink ready for him when he got back. Bill spent the rest of the afternoon putting his coat back on and the outboard etc.

Putting his coat back on.

In the evening we met Tom and Susie along with Ken and his son.  Nadire and Selim from the Turkish boat Keyif joined us and we all had a farewell drink together.  After saying goodbye to Keyif the rest of us went to the Mango bay for a meal, their Friday night ribs special were delicious.

Sadly at the end of the evening it was goodbye to everyone because we are all going our separate ways from now on; goodbye to another group of cruising friends.

Sue, Susie, Bill, Tom, Ken and Kenneth

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Camomile continues North

Diamond Rock

Our position at 10.00 (16.00 UTC) Sunday 26th March
14 26N
061 02W
We have just passed the beautiful Rocher du Diamant (Diamond Rock)

We left Le Marin marina yesterday and anchored off of St Annes last night, as we did last Saturday. Having had a week in the marina we felt refreshed again. I was in the middle of posting a blog on Martinique when I ran out of internet so it will have to wait until we get back on line again. No facebook again for a while so if you’ve messaged me I’m not ignoring you. 🙂

The dinghy came back from ‘ospital and we had no reason to stay any longer. We had a great time catching up and saying goodbye to another set of cruising friends. Life long friendships have been made again. So on to pastures new, new friends and hopefully some old ones.

Crews of Antares, Keyif and Adina

Last thought for today. We’ve seen lots of flying fish on passage and around the island. Quiz question for you – is it a shoal of flying fish or a flock of flying fish??? I actually don’t know so you’ll have to google it and tell me.

Be good. XX

South Africa to the Caribbean – day 57 we made it.

This is the same blog but I’ve added some photos.

Our position at 16.30(19.30 GMT) Saturday 18th March was
14 26.39N
060 53.38W
The anchor is down, thank God, literally as we’ve arrived safely in Martinique after completing our circumnavigation.

Our last 30 hours was fairly uneventful except for the mini drama of nearly using the Hydrovane rudder. Bill had noticed the steering was behaving oddly on his night watch and put the autohelm on. In the daylight he looked over the stern to see the Hydrovane rudder looking bent. We hove to (stopped the boat) to look at it and discovered the pin clipping it into position had broken. Fortunately Bill always ties it on as well so we hadn’t lost the rudder. It was brought back on board and was a passenger for the rest of the journey. Incredibly Bill doesn’t have a spare, he had already used it, so we’ll have to get one along the way. That was our only breakage on the whole trip which is pretty incredible considering the miles we have covered.

Barbados in the distance

We continued to sail through the day although the wind started dropped in the afternoon and we motored for 2 hours because we (I) didn’t want to slow down, until it picked up again. Barbados came into view about 4pm as we sailed past the north coast with the lights from the resorts twinkling in the dusk. I watched a cruise liner leave Barbados on the AIS and was SOOOO tempted to call them up and ask for a lift! I ate my last 4 squares of chocolate during my last night watch.

I awoke to 100% cloud cover and a line of squalls matching across the skyline. Bill went back to bed for his second sleep while I sat in the cockpit with the umbrella up because it was also raining. The wind disappeared so the engine was on again. The cloud and mist continued through the morning and Martinique was hiding behind it. St Lucia appeared about 8am, which is the island south of us, and Martinique about 8.20, but disappeared again. When Bill got up I made pancakes for our last breakfast at sea because we seem to have missed pancake day while we’ve been out here.

Camomile right on the line

I started to come out of my chrysalis like a butterfly and began to sing again, I haven’t been singing for a while and although Bill says it’s nice to hear me singing again I think he’s just being kind because he prefers it to the silence! As we were about an hour away from our finishing line the sun appeared along with a pod of spinner dolphins jumping out of the Caribbean blue sea to welcome us. The wind started to blow and the engine went off. As Martinique emerged from the cloud we were quite close and able to see the lovely houses built into it’s verdant green hills. As we’ve already written we crossed ‘the line’ at 1.30pm Bill and I hugged each other with me in tears and Bill pretty close. It’s just amazes me we actually managed to do it.

Turning Camomile back to Le Marin, Martinique

We turned Camomile back towards the marina and had to motor quite hard against the wind to get there. Even though it was only 4pm when we got to the channel we decided not to go into the marina but anchor in the bay in front of St Annes for the first night to ‘wind down’ slowly from the journey. Once we go into the marina my feet won’t touch the ground with washing, cleaning, shopping, etc.

Heading into the anchorage

 

 

 

Once anchored I felt an enormous sense of relief that we were safe and could relax. We spent a short time sorting out the boat then the bottle of bubbles came out. We didn’t have posh Boli like someone we know (!) but a nice South African sparkling wine that was very nice along with some cool white wine too. I had intended cooking lemon chicken and apple crumble but I put some Pringles and cheese and biscuits out to have with our drink and dinner got forgotten.

The celebrations begin

I spoke to Sara on Norsa for the last time on the net (the SSB doesn’t work very well in the marina) and said an emotional farewell, they have another 7 or 8 days out there but they aren’t coming in our direction. Not sure when we’ll see them again – the down side of cruising. 😦
So to sum up the journey we left Simonstown 9 weeks ago and spent 3 days in Cape town before leaving on 19th January. The journey from Cape Town to here was 5634 miles altogether but we stopped in St Helena for 2 weeks and 2 days. The passage just from St Helena to here was 3857 miles that took 27 days 9 hours or 657 hours giving us an average speed of 5.8kts which isn’t bad considering we’ve had anything from 3kts to over 8kts along the way. It has become our longest passage and, as I’ve already said, it won’t be beaten. Of those 657 hours the engine was only on for 77 hours, half of those were for charging the batteries when the day was cloudy. The solar panels and wind generator kept the batteries going for the rest of the time.

So we go into the marina later today for 5 or 6 days then we will start to make our way north to complete the rest of the 1500 miles or so to get us to Florida. We’ve got 6 weeks or so to do it which, hopefully, will be enough time. The plan is Martinique this week
Antigua next week
St Martin first week in April
BVIs second week in April
Sail to Turks and Caicos third week in April
Sail the last 700 miles or so to Florida (on the inside route) during the last week in April If there’s anyone on that route that we know we would love to meet up.

All well on board.

The blog goes through to facebook but we can’t see facebook or your comments. I’ll catch up with them all in the Caribbean. If you wish to email us please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (take out the gaps) Stay safe everyone.

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