Ellen joined me from the 19th of January. She ended staying with me for two whole months! We sailed and enjoyed the beautiful West coast of Martinique.
After leaving the West coast of Martinique with its reefs and white sandy beaches we headed for the capital Fort de France.
The city covers almost the whole shoreline of a large lagoon with lots of small bays for anchorage. The first bay we visited, Anse Dufour, is known for the presence of sea turtles. “Anse” in French means bay. A small bay with only space for a couple of boats. It was a nice stay and good snorkeling, but sadly enough no turtles. We left after two days and went further into the lagoon. We chose to stay in a spot right across the city, Pointe du Bout, a resort and small town. Here we rented a car. We crossed the whole island and visited villages and saw beautiful coastlines.
After 3 days we returned the car and wanted to go North, but the weather got too windy and we were forced to stay a couple more days and wait for better times to sail. Eventually the wind weakened and we where ready to take off, but it became quite clear that this would not be a pleasant trip for Ellen due to high waves. So we decided Ellen would take the ferry to Dominica, (not to be confused with The Dominican Republic), and I would sail singlehanded to Dominica. This would take two days so Ellen had to take a hotel in Dominica after her arrival there.
It felt strange to say goodbye to each other. For me the trip was quite nice. Beautiful crossing between the islands. And indeed, huge waves!
Dominica is an independent country and totally different from Martinique. It is poor and not well organized. A bit like you see in Africa. When I approached the capital, Roseau, a small boat came to me and the man in it offered me a paid mooring buoy. These are comprised of a big concrete block with a rope attached to it and on top a floating buoy. A very save system, but not always in a good condition! This is a poor small country, so I do not know if the ropes etc are in a good condition. First I declined, but the man became angry threatening me I could get into trouble. So I thought better to accept the mooring.
Ellen saw me coming from up a hill and found me near the small restaurant where I was moored. She was very happy not to have done this crossing with me. Even on the ferry she was not feeling at ease.
We met a fisherman in the restaurant. I was very curious about his way of fishing, since I came across lots of nets and cages, which where marked very poorly. I had had a hard time avoiding them and their invisible lines that can get caught up in the propeller of the engines.
Later we saw him again, very proud and showing off with his latest catch. A big marlin
We did not like the place we where staying and went further on the next day to Portsmouth. This was a very good move. Nice place and lots of other boats. It was quite windy and not much space for anchorage. Also here a man called Albert, approached us offering tours and mooring. But this guy was relaxed and very nice.
We got his name and could call him over the radio in case we needed anything. We never knew how valuable this would become.
In the night Ellen woke me, saying we bumped into another boat. It turned out that the wind had picked up enormously and that our anchor had started drifting. We had been carried away a 100m downwind. A good thing we bumped into this old vessel, otherwise we would have been in the middle of the Caribbean Sea the next morning. We managed to attach the Ellena onto this vessel and would solve the problem with the anchor that was stuck in something, the next morning, when we could call Albert.
So we called and his son came by and tried to loosen the anchor, but no luck.
He brought me in contact with a diver, Fabian, who freed the anchor and we took a mooring buoy, after all.
We where planning on hiring a car and stay away for a couple of days. After this experience with the drifting anchor a buoy gives a lot peace of mind. Fabian was very pleased with the diving tank I offered him. I don’t like diving and it was a leftover from the previous owner. So good riddance!
Dominica is a lush green island. We did some walking, discovered canyons, waterfalls and of course beautiful rugged coastlines. Tropical, so lots of jungle and mangos and bananas growing in the wild.
But driving a car here is something else. As is shopping by the way
On poor Dominica it seemed nothing goes smoothly, everything is quite a hassle. Make a reservation for a car is useless. It is rented out when you want to collect it. A dinner in a restaurant is as simple as can be and takes a lot of time.
We got tired of it and decided after a week to continue our journey to Guadeloupe. Also we were longing for a nice terrace at the beach, the stereotypical Caribbean scene for westerers like us.
We studied the map of Guadeloupe and the weather map and it should be feasible for Ellen to do the crossing on the Ellena. It is a much smaller step than the crossing between Martinique and Dominica and there are small islands in front of Guadeloupe.
We sailed to a couple of small islands, called Les Saintes and stayed in a small remote bay between pelicans and heaps of the invasive Sargasso sea weed. Later on we went to a more crowded bay, which was nice for a change and then our last stop, Guadeloupe.
We also wanted to discover this island by car, so we had to find a safe place to leave the Ellena. Studying the navigational map we found a nice place behind some reefs. It looked quiet, and it was shallow but then I saw further on a couple of boats near the village of Goyave. According to the map the waters where to shallow, but those boats did it, so then we can too!
Later I discovered these boats where from locals who knew these waters. So Ellen standing on front guided me through the shallow channel. No sailors around on an anchorage is a bit boring, but well, it is only for sleeping at night.
We took the bus to the capital Point a Pitre and in the marina I discovered some nice workshops and stores. I will come back for sure!
Guadeloupe is also French, like Martinique, but the island consists of two big areas divided by a channel and are connected by bridges. Quite big. We hired a car for 5 days and crossed both areas.
We returned the car and left our safe place behind the reefs through the channel with just 30 cm of water below the keel and sailed along the West coast on our way to Pigeon Islands for nice snorkeling and turtles. After all, we had not spotted any turtles yet. This turned out to be a very good snorkeling spot. It is not permitted to anchor here, but nearby are good anchor opportunities and from there you can easily reach the islands with our inflatable, dinghy.
Ellen will leave soon, but before that she would love to do some trail up West. It is amazing how fast time travels. Two months almost gone already.
Well I will keep you all updated!