Saint Kitts & Nevis

2 islands, 1 country, with about 50 000 inhabitants all together. Despite warnings about poor anchorage and rolly conditions, both islands gave us good holding and great conditions. At St Kitts we dropped anchor outside the ongoing development of the new marina in the southern part, Christophe Harbour, in Ballast Bay. Here we were pretty much alone, although there were quite a few boats in the neighboring bay, White House Bay. Staying here meant that we could use the dinghy dock at the marina, and they were really eager to help with any needs; from clearing customs and renting a car. A short walk took us to White House Bay and a nice bar called Salt Plage.

We hired a car for a day and drove around Saint Kitts. The island is full of tiny villages, and charmingly enough; at least 1 barbecue along the road in each village. There were many pretty houses, and the island seemed neat and clean. St Kitts is famous for their wild monkeys, and we were lucky enough to spot a few. They are so cute 😊

We also spent a few hours in the capital, Basse Terre, and realized that the conditions on this little island can be quite rough. Quite a contrast to the villages around the island. Basse Terre is also a popular spot for the cruise ships, but we do not think the visitors from the cruise ships necessarily see the “real” side of town, as there are separate areas with shops, cafés etc. for the cruise ship passengers (This is not the only place we noticed this happens).

Before we continued our road trip, we were tempted by one of the many street barbecues in town. The one we chose looked like a favorite among the locals too, as the queue grew longer and longer. Before we ordered our meal, we were given samples of the different meat in order for us to decide upon our favorite. That is what we call service! And this barbecue is according to Øystein a perfect “man’s meal”, as all you get is the meat of your choice with a selection of sauce. No vegetables, fries or rice on the side. Since we were tourists (and probably looked a bit lost) they took extra care of us, offering us “the best table in town”. They therefore insisted we took a seat on a bench behind the grill, even though we would sort of be in their way. And the food, of course, tasted amazing! We love these street barbecues!

At Nevis we were on a mooring right outside Charlestown, a nice spot with a beach and a couple of beach bars ashore. Also in Charlestown could you sense that life on the islands can be quite rough. Never the less, the islands are nice to visit. We also had a walk outside the town, and to our surprise we also discovered they have wild monkeys here as well 😊 

Sailing off the beaten path – St. Eustatius (Statia)

Statia is a little bit off the beaten path when it comes to the Caribbean islands. During our visit in April, there were only a few other sail boats here – a big change from the previous ports we visited. The islands in this area is known for swells and potentially uncomfortable anchorages, which we assume is one of the reasons for less visitors. We ourselves gave up on a planned visit to the neighboring island of Saba due to the weather conditions, as we have heard too many stories about drifting boats in tough conditions… We are glad we didn’t give up on Statia though! We found a nice spot for Tango, and the dreaded uncomfortable nights did not occur.

The little island has a fascinating history, as it in the 1700s was the trading capital of the West-Indies. The harbor was one of the busiest in the world, since the Dutch who owned the island used it as a free port. The rumor has it that the inhabitants got really rich, and tried to hide their treasures by having fake funerals, actually burying their treasures. Today you can see ruins from the 1700s, both down by the waterfront and in town.

The island is quite different than the other we have visited. Down by the waterfront there are only a few establishments, whereas everything else is located higher up on the island. We walked around a great part of the island – easily enough as it is only 5 miles long 😊 We were met by friendly and welcoming people everywhere, and we were greeted by everyone we passed. The around 3000 inhabitants, and not many visitors, allow for a peaceful atmosphere. The town overlooking the anchorage is charming with cobblestone streets and cute buildings in pastel colors. Definitely worth a stop if you are in the area!

Preparing for the Hurricane Season – Part 2

As some of you may already have noticed, we have made our way south in the Caribbean, and are currently in Curacao. Why did we end up here? Many reasons, and we will try to tell you some of them.

After we arrived in the BVIs (British Virgin Islands) we made a final conclusion not to go through with our original plan to go to Florida for the hurricane season. So we started contacting various marinas, all the way from the BVIs in the north, to Trinidad in the south. Hauling out in the BVIs would mean that we could have started the next season on the path we were already on. But, that would also most likely mean leaving Tango on dry dock storage for the whole hurricane season, from June to November. This because the northern part of the Caribbean is subject for hurricanes. And of course, price also plays a major role. If you are to store your boat in the BVIs during the season, the best option definitely is out of the water, while in the southern part many leave their boats at anchor or at a marina slip. Seeing the demand of taking boats out of the water is higher in the northern parts, this also affects the price. We therefore started leaning more and more towards heading back south.

There are however many option in the south as well. Many choose to stay/store their boat in Grenada or Trinidad, as it is easy to start sailing the windward and leeward islands again after the hurricane season. Many go there year after year, and hence they have created communities for the sailors staying on board.

When we were back in St Marteen after we left the BVIs, we talked to many others heading south for the season. At the Shrimpys Cruisers Net on VHF 10 in the mornings there were announcements for meetings for south-bounders, which we obviously went to in order to meet up with and discuss with others. We met many heading for Grenada and Trinidad, but also a few that were heading the same place we had by then decided; Curacao.

A major reason for us ending up where we are is the fact that we are here out of the hurricane belt. This means we can return to Tango earlier than the almost 6 months the hurricane season is going on. Another good reason; flight connections to Aalesund. So easy from Curacao, with daily flights via Amsterdam. Being out of the hurricane belt also means that we will be able to sail to nearby islands and harbours, such as Aruba, Bonaire, Colombia and even San Blas/Panama. We haven’t done any proper research for where it is safe to sail during hurricane season yet, but as far as we know by now, these should all be fine. 

So, this is our «plan» now (written in the sand on a nearby island): We are hauling Tango out of the water here in Curacao, and he/she/it (depending on who you ask) will be securely stored ashore here. So, we have spent the last few days taking down sails, cleaning, securing, packing etc. Now Tango is all set, and we will fly back to Norway for a while, before we return and see where the winds will take us next season. We have to admit, we do have a bit of mixed feelings at the moment though. We are of course looking forward to to seeing friends and familiy in Norway again, but it is also a strange feeling to leave our home (as Tango has become to us) for such a long time. See you soon Tango!

 

 

 

Sint Marteen

So, we actually visited Sint Marteen twice already, and that within 3-4 weeks. Our first visit did not leave us with a great impression, and we had no desire or plan to return. But coincidence led us back, and in retrospect we are glad it did, because we now appreciate the place a lot more then after our first visit. And as Eros says: “Behind all coincidences there is a plan, and behind all plans there is a coincidence”!

Our first visit was in the end of March, arriving from Antigua. The weather forecasted a period of swells and winds, so we wanted to anchor as protected as possible. We therefore decided to go in under the lifting bridge called Simpson Bay Bridge and in to the famous lagoon of Sint Marteen.

The lagoon is HUGE, and divided between the Dutch and the French. The island itself is pretty small, so it’s quite amazing that it actually is two different countries. Sint Marteen is the Dutch part and south side of the island and St. Martin is the French and northern part (funny enough). Entering through the Simpson Bay Bridge like we did, leaves you on the Dutch side of the lagoon. If you go through the next bridge, Causeway Bridge, which is a swing-bridge, you will have the opportunity to stay on the Dutch or French side.

The end of March means high season with a crowded lagoon. No wind inside the lagoon means it is steaming hot. Steaming hot means you will want to take a swim to cool off. And one of the best things about living on a boat is that you can jump straight in from your anchorage to cool off, but inside the lagoon with that many boats, it is not tempting to take a swim. Rusty and abandoned boats here and there in the lagoon (a terrible and hearbreaking sight!), and to be met by an industrial area when we first went ashore did not help on our first impression. A lot of people we met before we went here spent a lot of time here, and at this point we could not understand why, unless they were having trouble with their boats and needed to get them fixed. For that the place is great, as there are many shops and marinas to cater for a sailor needs. Please do not misunderstand, we did not think the place was THAT bad, it is just that the other places we had been appealed a lot more to us.

Once we had taken our dinghy over to the French side (20 minutes) and been ashore there, we understood that there were nicer parts than the industrial feel that first met us. But still it did not become a favorite. We needed some things for Tango, plus we wanted to do some provisioning here as we knew we would not see big supermarkets for a while. So our days were mostly spent getting our to-do list out of the way.

Apart from the shopping, there were a few things we really appreciated here, one of them was the cruisers net on VHF 10, Monday to Saturday at 07:30 AM. Do not miss it if you are here on a sail boat! It is run by Mike at Shrimpys, and you will get weather reports and learn about what’s going on in the community. The cruisers actively participate, and you can for instance ask questions, ask for help on your boat, there are sections regarding buy, sell, swop, arrivals and departures of cruisers, and announcements etc. 

A“must do” is to visit the beach next to the airport. The airplanes, from small twin otter’s to big transatlantic flights, fly in straight over your head. And when they take off you are sure to feel the blast from the planes. Good fun, and a nice thing to do in the afternoon.  

As mentioned, we had no intention of returning to Sint Marteen, even though we upon departure knew there was a chance we would go back south after our next destination, the British Virgin Islands (BVIs) further north. We wanted to take a different route going south again, and when we left the BVI’s we cleared customs stating our next port would be St. Kitts. As we were motor sailing along from the BVIs against wind and current, an alarm went off. We were taking in water! Luckily it was not as dramatic as it sounds, just a broken seal at one of the salt water cooling pumps. It did mean that we had to turn that engine off to avoid further damage, and we were now moving along in about 2 knots with sail and 1 engine….

We immediately understood that the chance of getting a hold of a new seal would be better in Sint Marteen, which was also the closest port from where we were at this point. So that was the coincidence that led us back. This time we dropped anchor in Simpson Bay, outside the lagoon. A much nicer anchorage as you have beaches, clear water and turtles swimming around your boat. Seeing it was now mid/end of April it was a lot less crowded, as the high season were coming to an end. We do not know if it was us or the other people there that were in a different mood, or a combination of the two, but it felt to us that the atmosphere was different, more relaxed. We met quite a few nice people that have similar plans as we do in the near future, so we are looking forward to seeing them again soon! Fixing the broken seal was done within a couple of hours, and once the weather was right we were off to a new island.

 

 

 

British Virgin Islands (BVIs)

We arrived at the BVIs on Øysteins birthday, 3rd of April, just as the sun came up over the horizon. Our sail from Sint Marteen took about 14-15 hours, with winds, waves and currents from behind – one of the most comfortable passages for a long time! We slowed down towards the end to make sure we arrived around dawn. At arrival, we were met by a great view. We have never seen this number of boats out sailing at the same time. We quickly learned the reason for this, as the BVIs truly is a sailor’s paradise in terms of being able to move from island to island, anchorage to anchorage, within as little as minutes if you want.

We cleared customs in Spanish Town at the island called Virgin Gorda, and then moved on to the northern part of the island, North Sound. At North Sound you have many options on where to anchor, and our choice landed outside the beach of Prickley Pear. A wonderful spot! Perfect after spending time in the lagoon at Sint Marteen. We had a look around in the area with our dinghy (“Vetle Tango”) in the afternoon, before we celebrated Øystein’s birthday with Spanish wine, cheese and ham we got a hold of in a wonderful shop in Sint Marteen.  At North Sound it is also worth having a closer look at places like Saba Rock and (the perfectly named) Bitter End. Here you will find picture perfect Caribbean spots.

2,5 weeks in the BVIs gave us time to explore and enjoy many of the nice spots here. You can find everything from quiet bays with no one else around, to busy anchorages with lively beach bars and “spring break” atmosphere. Apart from North Sound we really enjoyed a few spots at Norman Island; one is called the Bight, with a couple of beach bars and a famous schooner called Willy T. 15 minutes sailing from there took us to Benures Bay, a lovely and peaceful anchorage with nothing but pelicans, turtles, corals and sharks (!) around you.

Trellis Bay at Beef Island is another great spot, especially if you time it so that you are here during a full moon. BVIs is famous for their full moon beach parties, and the one at Trellis Bay is supposed to be one of the more spectacular ones. We managed to time it to full moon, and we are really happy we did. And even more happy that we arrived a few days before the happening, as the bay got more and more crowded. We met a lovely Norwegian family here, on a boat called Duen II, and we enjoyed the full moon party together with them. There was live music, fire shows and happenings at all bars.  Trellis Bay is also a great spot to be if you get visitors, are picking up crew etc., as it literally is a minute walk from the dinghy dock to the airport.  And while you are here, make sure you take your dinghy to (or anchor outside) Marina Cay. This is where the newlywed White-couple found their paradise island in the 1930s, and their story later turned in to a book and a movie. The little island is now a resort, and their house is working as a bar, or a Happy Arrr Bar, as it says on the signs.

At Tortola we found a good spot at Cane Garden Bay, a well-protected bay with a nice long beach, great beach bars and a lovely atmosphere. And for the first time, we found a bar with happy hour on drinks AND, most importantly, food! Perfect for hungry sailors 😊

As we are both born in April, Anne Lise also had her birthday while we were in the BVIs. For her birthday, we set anchor between Sandy Spit, a tiiiiny island with nothing but a beach and trees, and Little Jost Van Dyke. Peaceful and beautiful, picture perfect settings!

After the birthday celebration number two we moved on to Jost Van Dyke and White Bay. Arriving in the early hours of the day, we thought for a moment we were in heaven, with a beautiful white beach protected by reefs outside the anchorage. Then in the afternoon it felt more like we were in hell – we were in the middle of something we imagine looks like the famous spring break. “Party boats” from the US Virgin Islands (USVIs) and Puerto Rico where taking over the place, competing with the beach bars to play the loudest music. Luckily, they left before sunset, and the bay was once again like heaven on earth.

A friendly piece of advice: If you want to go sailing here, the best anchorages and islands are also remote, so it is a good idea to stock up on supplies before heading here. There are smaller supermarkets some places, plus bigger ones in the capital, but almost everything in the shops is imported as there is little local production. This naturally means higher costs, but also that you can get what you need.

After a couple of weeks in the BVIs we were ready to move on, and when the weather was right, we set sail to go south again, towards Saint Kitts.

Antigua

Antigua is, together with Barbuda, an independent state, with a rich history from the British Colonial Days. English Harbour in the south of Antigua is dating back to 1745, and looks today much like it did when it was finished in 1789 thanks to restauration work. This was our first stop at the island. The harbor is well protected and a natural Hurricane Hole. We dropped anchor well inside the bay, and spent a few days exploring the local area. Ashore it is a short walk to the neighboring Falmouth Harbour. It is interesting to walk around between the old buildings and imagine how it looked like back in the old days with the British Admirals fleet moored at the docks. Today the harbor is full of super yachts, which is nice to admire occasionally for us other sailors.

In between the two harbors there are quite a few cool restaurants and bars with good atmosphere, where sailors and crew from the super yachts both hang out.

We also stopped a few days further north at Antigua, at Jolly Harbor. This was the first time we saw other Norwegian boats since we left Norway back in October, and here there were actually 3 other ones. We met up with some of them a few times, which was really nice, and we wish them fair winds until we meet again. We also met up with our friends from Cat’s Meow here, and we set sail together when we left Antigua, but in different directions. We hope to see you guys soon again!

Jolly Harbor is a BIG harbor, and we definitely learned to appreciate to have a dinghy with a motor, or “Lille Tango” or “Vetle Tango” (little Tango) as we have come to call it.  We found a good spot to drop anchor in less than 2 meters of water, by the beach on the outskirts of the bay. This is a good place to go if you need to get work done on your boat, since the marinas here are used to working on “normal” sailboats, not only super yachts, as they tend to do in English and Falmouth Harbor.

We were planning and looking forward to seeing more ashore at Antigua, like visiting Stingray City for snorkeling with stingrays, and sailing to the neighboring island of Barbuda. But as the weather plays a major role in our decision-making process, we unfortunately will have to take a rain check for those experiences. Sailing between the islands in the Caribbean can be rough in certain weather conditions, and the same goes for anchoring or taking a mooring at some of the islands/anchorages. We therefore chose to leave Antigua during a weather window, meaning a nice sail to our next destination in Sint Marteen and their very well protected lagoon.

For some reason we do not have any good pictures from Antigua, so we throw in some random ones 🙂

 

Preparing for the Hurricane Season – Part 1

We are enjoying some pretty amazing days here in the Caribbean. Tango is perfect for this environment! Just a few months ago we did not even know whether we would cross the Atlantic or not, so we did not spend too much time planning and doing research about the Caribbean islands. Off course we prepared well for the potential crossing, since this was something we were dreaming about going through with. The fact that we did not make any plans for sailing in the Caribbean have given us a lot of positive experiences. We have felt free to explore in our own pace, and we constantly can adjust our plans. There are however a few challenges when having such a laid-back attitude, which we now are discovering.

One issue that requires a bit of planning ahead, is the upcoming hurricane season. We have talked to many other sailors here, and gotten a lot of good tips. Since we were already sailing north, we had been thinking of going all the way up to Florida, where there are a lot of safe marinas during the season. This way we would also have the opportunity to see Bahamas – which we hear is amazing!

Seemed like a good plan to us, so we started having a closer look and plan. And as you look into things you can also learn that things are not always as easy as they first appear. Going up to Florida would mean needing to acquire a B2 Visa for the US, which we at the moment do not have. The Visa regulation also includes the American islands in the Caribbean, like US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Without a B2 Visa we would have to sail past these islands, and that would mean a pretty long journey from the British Virgin Islands. Another issue if we decided to go to Florida, would be the sail back to the Caribbean next season, with wind and current normally working against us. We have had enough of sailing in harsh conditions, so we seek to avoid it if we can.

Many sailors we met said that we would be able to sail into American waters if we first entered with the normal ESTA Visa with a commercial vessel. It would be easy for us to take the ferry from the British Virgin Islands to the US Virgin Islands and get a stamp in our passports. Others again said this is a loophole, and it is not the recommended way to enter. For us, this loophole felt like cheating the system, and we quickly decided not to take advantage of it. If we want to enter American waters at a later occasion, we will make sure to have the correct papers in advance. Soon after we made this conclusion we heard about someone sailing with the ESTA through US Virgin Islands with no problem, but then got kicked out from Puerto Rico. We do not want that in our passports.

Since we already were quite far north in the Caribbean when we started looking into this, we decided we wanted to see the British Virgin Islands never the less. Even though it most likely would mean turning around there, and beating against wind and currents on our way back south. More to follow in this matter 😊

Les Saintes & Guadeloupe

After Dominica we enjoyed a quiet week at Les Saintes, a small group of islands just south of the bigger island Guadeloupe, which they are also a part of. Tango was safely resting outside Terre-de-Haut, an island small enough to explore by foot if you have a few days. Another option is of course golf cars or scooters. Many choose to visit for 1 day with a ferry from Guadeloupe, which means that there a lot of people in the streets during the day. Perfect for people watching. The island has a cozy “shopping street” with shops, cafes and restaurants, which allowed us a few amazing meals ashore. There are several nice beaches around the island (with goats!), and some good snorkel spots.  

During our stay in Les Saintes our wind vane stopped working, and since this is an instrument we appreciate for our sailing, we wanted to get a hold of a new one as soon as possible. A couple of hours sailing took us to Basse Terre in Guadeloupe, where we found a rental car to drive across the island to Pointe Pitre, where there is a big marina. We were lucky to find what we needed. Off course we took advantage of having a car; ROAD TRIP 😊 We almost stopped at a Rum distillery, almost at a chocolate factory and almost at a banana plantation. Buuut we weren’t quite in the touristic mood, so we spent some time at a lovely waterfall instead. Acomat Waterfall is a bit off beaten path, as it is not as easy to reach as the most popular ones. We stopped at one of the more popular ones as well, but Acomat was definitely our favorite. Not too crowded, crystal clear water and tempting to jump in. You can also find a quiet spot to relax by the river beneath the waterfall.

On our way back to Tango we drove past a guy doing a barbeque in the main road. We stopped to get a take away, but the guy did not agree with that. It turned out he actually had a restaurant below the road, and he convinced us to stop for lunch/dinner. The restaurant consisted of some tables and chairs at something that looked like the local playground, and a building where they had a small kitchen and a fridge with cold drinks. For a while we were the only ones there, except 2 big iguanas in the ttrenes above our head. We have to admit we were a bit on the curious side for how our meals would turn out.  But our chef/waiter was really eager to give us a good experience. He served our drinks together with plastic glasses, and assured us that our barbeque was going to taste great. And what a meal we were served! Although barbequed by the main road, the spare ribs tasted like out of another world. So tender and full of flavor. And lots of them on the plate. Plus salad and fries. And reasonably priced. We were happy! 

Once we had our wind vane working again we sailed Tango up to an anchorage by the mainland, close to Pigeon Island. Pigeon Island is a Nature Reserve, which means no anchoring by the island itself. The area is known for great snorkeling and diving, and you can dinghy out to the island. Unfortunately, the weather was too rough for dinghying out, but we got to enjoy some nice snorkeling in the bay of the anchorage.  Ashore there was really not that much for us, everything was within a small square; with dive shops, souvenir shops and some restaurants. A lovely spot to watch the sunset though!

As the weather was not going to get any better within the next few days, we decided to skip the snorkeling out at Pigeon Island and move on to Deshais, on the northern part of the western island.

It was still a lot of wind in the area, and we were told a terrible story about 2 boats that lost their holding during the night, got their anchor chains tangled together and drifted out and over the horizon in the matter of a short time. The women onboard were screaming and the men shouting, which woke up people in the other boats at the anchorage. The boats were not seen again back in the anchorage. Terrifying for everyone, and we hope everything went well. This happened the day before we arrived, and it goes to show how important good routines when it comes to setting your anchor is (Please fellow sailors; rev up your engine to check the holding of your anchor, and use enough chain!).

In Deshais we actually met up again with a few boats we met earlier, which was really nice. One of these boats was “Cat’s Meow” with our American friends Donald and LaVonne. They had a car for a few days, so we joined them 1 day for another road trip. This time we got to see more of the eastern island of Guadeloupe, and had a lovely day exploring with Cat’s Meow. Thank you for taking us along! 😊

Dominica

This is an island that not too many tourists choose to visit. In 2014 it was actually the 25th least visited country in the world according to writer/traveler Gunnar Garfors, in his book “198 – Mi reise til alle verdas land” (If you’re Norwegian – we can recommend reading the book. If you’re not – visit his website www.garfors.com. A funny guy!).

For sailors, the island has not always been a recommended place to go due to security, and if you did go there, you were recommended not to leave your boat unattended. Luckily this has changed, and they are now welcoming tourism. The marinas/anchorages are being looked after and patrolled, and since this started, there has been no known issues.  

Our first encounter with the island was the capital, Roseau. Here we stayed a nice walk south of the city center. And off course, the first thing we did after arriving were to walk this distance. And the town was buzzing! The last 2 days, but certainly not the least, of Carnival were still remaining. The Carnival in Dominica, locally called Mas Domnik, is said to be unique in many ways. This is not like the famous Rio or Trinidad Carnival, but a Carnival true to its 18th Century origins, filled with the spirit and the awakening of the ancestors.

We were in shock! We thought we had heard loud music at the Carnival in St Pierre, Martinique, but this was completely out of another world. Huge trucks drove through the streets with massive sound systems, with DJ’s, drummers and rappers. And behind each truck followed the parades, with different style of costumes behind each truck. A big party for the whole community, and an experience for us.

After the Carnival we moved on to the northern part of the island, to Prince Rupert Bay outside of the town Portsmouth. At Prince Rupert Bay we were impressed to see how the locals were working together to look after the visitors, instead of competing with one another for your attention. If they could not provide you with what you were looking for, they happily helped you get in touch with the ones that could. We quickly decided to go on a guided tour up the Indian River, where you can see a lot of wild life, and also a copy of a house used in the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean.

The island is perfect for nature lovers, and truly a hikers paradise. There is a trail going across the whole island, and if you do the whole trail it will take you about a week to walk it. As we hadn’t adjusted properly to the warm climate yet, we decided this would not be a good option for us this time. We did however go with 4 Americans to see some more of the natural wonders of the island, like rainforest, waterfalls, hot Sulphur pools – and our favorite – the Champagne reef, with snorkeling amongst bubbles from the reef and heaps of colorful fish.

We are really happy we decided to visit Dominica, and can highly recommend it. It truly is a hidden gem.

Martinique

Our first port after 3 weeks at sea, crossing the Atlantic, was Le Marin in Martinique. Not only did we finally see land again, but there were also THOUSANDS of masts from other sail boats. We have never seen so many sail boats at one place. We were really excited as we sailed in to the harbor and found a nice place to set anchor. Le Marin was a nice place to arrive for “newbies” like us, as everything is well organized for yachts. This is also a place many go to charter a boat for sailing in the Caribbean, which we guess explain the amount of boats in the area. If you are in this area; check out Saint Anne. It is in short distance from Le Marin, so we took our dinghy to go there. A charming little spot! You can also anchor outside Saint Anne, and dinghy to Le Marin.

It seems like a lot in the community in Le Marin revolves around the marina, but we wanted to see more of Martinique – the Isle of Flowers – as the local name (Madinina) means. The island is a French overseas department, and part of the EU, which means that the currency they use is Euro. It lives about 400 000 people here, and although French is the official language, Creole is also spoken by almost everyone. It’s an island with volcanic mountains, green hills and lots of beaches, both with white and black sand.

So after a few days of recovering in Le Marin, we once again set sail. We had a pleasant few hours of sailing to Fort de France, the capital of Martinique. We found an anchorage right outside the city center, which is compact and with walking distance to everything you need. The city is full of narrow and busy alleys with many colorful buildings, and the atmosphere is great. Since we also wanted to explore more ashore on the island, we tried to get a hold of a rental car/bike, but the company we found in here was closed, and we suspected this to have something to do with the upcoming Carnival Season.

After a few days in the capital, we set sail to St Pierre, on the north west coast. This used to be the capital on the island until it was destroyed by the eruption of the nearby volcano Mt Pele in 1902. This city was also known as the Paris of the West Indies, so we figured this would be a good place to experience the Carnival, and also to rent a car to explore more of this island.

Our non-exciting French, plus the Carnival Season, resulted in that we could not get a hold of a vehicle in St Pierre either. At that point we regretted not using the great facilities that were in Le Marin for these types of things. Nevertheless, we had a great time in Martinique. We enjoyed the first 2 days of Carnival in St Pierre, a very different experience from anything back home in Norway. Loud music could be heard from the morning until it was almost morning again. They also had some funny cars all over the island, decorated in various ways. Some of them with portraits of people, whereas others looked like a police car. They had straight exhaust pipes, and they were running on the rev limiter almost 24/7, which meant loads of sound. And this started a week before Carnival. We are not certain that the cars were only rigged for the Carnival, but we suspect that. We guess it is like the Norwegian “russebil”, and that people start using it before the festivities begin.

St Pierre is well worth a visit, Carnival or not. The town center is small, and there are establishments in places we wouldn’t have dreamed of at home. So look closely as you walk through town, because you might walk past a shop or a bar, or just a garage. Or all 3 of them in 1 establishment. You do not really know until you have a closer look 😊. The people in St Pierre are friendly, helpful and eager to talk to you. Unfortunately, once again, our French were inadequate.  There are also many cool beach bars in town, perfect for enjoying the sunset. Au revoir, Martinique!