Saturday, 27 June 2009

Stop Press! Barry Tidd plays flexible keyboard.

Geoff (that's with a G and not a J) of Beach House kindly corrected me, on a number of counts.
The report of Barry playing the flexible $#@%^ keyboard was incorrectly attributed to an evening aboard Inspiration Lady when in fact it took place aboard Beach House (see our Mates are Great post).

We were obviously confused by the over the top number of Canadian flags in the harbour at the Saintes. It had nothing to do with rum consumption during this period of time!

Chic Fort de France, capital of Martinique

The beautiful green hills of Martinique in a blue haze of late afternoon sun with a touch of rain clouds. Our view as we travel south down the leeward side of the island to Le Marin.

Fort de France is a city of about 150,000 people, all crammed together on the sides of the surrounding hills. From the water, Fort de France reminded us of Sydney.

Window shopping in Fort de France is a lot of fun. If you want to see young and not-so-young fashionably to classically dressed women outside of Paris, head to Martinique, or even Basse Terre in Guadeloupe. We've never seen so many fashion accessory stores as in the 2 cities.

Gold has to be bold! Earrings in the shape of pineapples, conch shells, etc.

The stained glass and massive organ at the Cathedrale Saint Louis are worth seeing. The church is close to the ferry dock in the city of Fort de France.

Bibliotheque Schoelcher must be one of the most beautiful library buildings in the world.

Facade, above the entrance to the library.

Inside, the ceiling draws your eye to the glass dome at the top.

Daisie Rock.
Actually, it's Diamond Rock on the south west coast. As we approached from the north it did indeed look like a diamond. As we passed between the rock and the mainland, we saw a profile of Daisie including her big floppy ears, big brown eyes and button nose.

Light Waves.
I had some fun playing with all the different coloured lights of the small village of Sainte-Anne. At the southern end of Martinique it is a perfect staging point for an early morning departure. We left at 1:30am and arrived in Bequia (pron. Beck-way) about 18 hours later.

Mt. Pelee puts and end to Rum Punch

La Favorite Rum Distillery, Le Lamentin, still using steam.

The islands of the Caribbean certainly have a love affair with rum, dating back to the 17th century.  February to June is rum-making season and in Martinique there are many opportunities to tour distilleries.  Melanie, Robert and I took a "non-tour"of one of the oldest, La Favorite Distillery in Le Lamentin.  It remains steam driven and family owned.  According to the local guide book, the boilers of the hundred year old machinery are fed by water from a dyke built in 1842 and fueled by the canes from which the sugar juice is extracted.

Robert's first job out of school was in a sugar mill owned by Colonial Sugar Refinery (CSR) near his home town of Murwillumbah.  As an electrician his job was to keep the mill running.  The company also had distilleries and produced the legendary Inner Circle rum - not for the general public but for the company directors!  Check out the official website.  Not surprisingly, Robert has a real fondness for sugar mills.

There's something romantic and rhythmic about steam power.  Ask a train buff.

So back to La Favorite, in the absence of any kind of organized tour, Robert guided us as we wandered over the grounds and into the sugar mill, viewing the cane crushing process from the noisy observation floor above.  It was the best "non-tour" we've ever done.

Advertising in St. Pierre.  Today there are 11 distilleries producing 17 varieties of rum.

The La Mauny distillery, north of Le Marin, was established in 1749.  Saint-Pierre was the center of the rum trade until the eruption of Mt. Pelee on May 8, 1902 when the town was completely destroyed.  26,000 people were killed, almost the entire population of the town.  The ships in the harbor caught fire and sank and the 16 rum distilleries in the area were ruined.  I can highly recommend the St. Pierre museum for photographs, artifacts and information.

Cane fields on the slopes of Mt. Pelee.  Rum still rules!

At anchor St. Pierre, right - left, Anthem, Bristol Rose, Night Hawk, Inspiration Lady, Jackster

The Cathedral in St. Pierre.

The eruption of Mt. Pelee destroyed most of the cathedral.  

We can only imagine how grand the theatre must have been.

Melanie and Pat under the arches in the theatre.

This sculpture, a woman rising from the ashes, signifies the will of the city to rebuild after the eruption.  There are reminders of what was once an architecturally significant city with many modern buildings utilizing a wall or two of a pre-1902 structure in their re-building.

Carambola or star fruit for sale in St. Pierre, 1 euro for a large bag.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Mates are Great... Meet a few of our friends, cruising down island.

The best and worst of cruising. We've made many new friends in the past 7 months (the best) and said goodbye to most as we've gone our separate ways (the worst). Along the way, we've been able to share passages, some great; some challenging. We've enjoyed quiet and vibrant anchorages and locations with our mates, making our time so much more special. Here in one spot for a while are some of our cruising mates, friends old and new.

Left to right and back to front - sort of: We met Dave and Jacqui, Jackster in St. Pierre; we crossed from Turks & Caicos to Luperon, plus the Mona Passage and the Anegada with Jack, Anthem; it took many "you have to meet Beach House" moments with others before we finally met Pat and Geoff (Aussie) in Basse Terre, Guadeloupe; Mel and Joe are "old" mates aboard Spectra - whom we met in Conception Island, Bahamas in early March; (front) Ray and Genna, Night Hawk rescued Bristol Rose when our anchor dragged in Luperon in March and we crossed the Mona and Anegada with them; Barry joined us from Australia in St. Martin mid May; we met Jackie and Gary, Inspiration Lady, by radio, en route across the Mona Passage from Luperon, Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico, March 30 to April 2.

Everyone gathered for a meal at a nice little french restaurant in St. Pierre, Martinique to say farewell to Barry on one of his last nights aboard Bristol Rose.

Jack looks like he's about to let Barry in on a few cruising stories while Joe is wondering where this is going.

We introduced Barry to some of our land-locked mates.

He tried out some of his one-liners, but that didn't seem to go anywhere with this French model in The Saintes.

Ray also had some difficulty communicating with the locals and went away without any baguettes but he did manage to find the Tex Mex restaurant in Fort de France, Martinique.

As the sun set over the gorgeous islands of The Saintes, the rowdy group gathered in the cockpit is entertained by some of those famous Barry Tidd lines.

Roger and Danielle from Chocobo, Jack from Anthem, Gary Inspiration Lady

Robert, Jackie Inspiration Lady, Barry, Ray & Genna Night Hawk, Roger Chocobo

Pat and Geoff hosted a very enjoyable evening aboard their Endeavour, Beach House.

Barry agreed to play the keyboard but when Pat produced her flexible (as in rolled up like a chart) keyboard from the bowels of the ship, he just had to admit defeat. Over at the local bar though, we did get the opportunity to enjoy a tune when I wrestled the piano from the owner and twisted Barry's arm - and I didn't have the camera on hand. Hey Mel, where are those photos?

Melanie and Joe, Spectra, Trish, Robert and Barry on Mel's birthday in Roseau.

Sadly, we said farewell to Barry in Martinique. He is heading back to Australia via the bright lights, slots, wheels and card tables of Las Vegas. We can only hope that luck is on his side in Vegas and that his wallet does not end up as empty as his cabin. Best of luck Barry, it was great to share the Caribbean with you.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The Windwards

Rain clouds follow us into the anchorage of Admiralty Bay, Bequia.

June 8, 2009. We left the Leeward islands and made it to Martinique, our first stop in the Windwards. In Martinique we separated from our group of cruisers to go directly to Bequia, as they headed for a reunion in St. Lucia with Ken and Dianne of Annie II. Our goal is Grenada by the end of June.

Currently in the beautiful island of Bequia, we are enjoying great food, great wifi, the company of new friends and the gorgeous waters of the area. I'll post more pictures of Martinique and Bequia soon. Today we are leaving for Mustique, just a couple of hours sail from here.

Dominica, Last of the Leewards

Last in the chain of the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean but not least. If you are looking for raw, natural beauty, Dominica has to be top of the list.

Our island tour took us to a restaurant overlooking a lush plantation of cocoa and fruit trees with the most beautiful serene view of the Caribbean Sea.

We sampled cassava cakes cooked by the side of the road. They're good.

This Carib man is a member of a dance troupe performing at the Carib village tourist center.

Robert and Daisie on the trail to the waterfall. The rock wall is constantly dripping wet and covered with small ferns and mosses.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Fort Shirley, Dominica

The three-masted Dutch schooner rests at anchor off Fort Shirley, Portsmouth, Dominica. The fort is an 18th century British fort.

Pat and Jeff, Beach House, along with Robert and Daisie look over the anchorage.

The Battery is an easy hike through the forest. Finding the site was a "Harrison Ford" type of experience when revealed through the dim rainforest, seemingly untouched in the past 150 years.

The remains of the Commandant's residence left us with many questions about what it may have once been.

For more on Fort Shirley click here