Trinidad to St. Maartin
Trinidad to St. Maartin
I thought I had already posted this but I guess not. We left Trinidad on February 4 and arrived in St. Maartin on March 16.
We covered 541 nm over 46 days with 14 stops in 4 countries. The 1st leg was only 82 miles (Trinidad to Grenada), but it felt like a lot more. Between the Christmas winds and cross current, it was a 15+ hour wet ride. But it was worth it and a welcome change from the boat yards of Trinidad. Customs and Immigrations were in one building in Prickly Bay where there’s a free dinghy dock. Customs wasn’t there but no problem. We paid our fees ($35 USD) and came back the next day to pick up our receipts and we were good for a month. If we wanted to stay longer it would have been ~$19 USD/month.
Grenada is known as the spice island. It’s the number 2 world producer of nutmeg plus they grow many other spices. They’re still recovering from Hurricane Ivan in 2004 which took out 90% of the nutmeg trees. A lot of boats were lost and few were creatively restored with local flair.
After a month checking out the various anchorages in SE Grenada, we headed to Tyrell Bay, Carriacco. We were still heading NE, the prevailing wind direction. Our weather criteria were <20 knots and <2 meter seas and out of the ENE or E. We waited a few days then got lucky with 10-15, E-ENE for the 52 mile leg to Cumberland Bay at the north end of St. Vincent. The forecast looked good for the 75 miles to St. Anne at the southern end of Martinique so we continued on the next morning.
Martinique has been part of France since it was colonized and it feels like it. Good food and wine, a wonderful infrastructure – it’s easy to forget that you just came from a pretty much a 3rd world country.
The French have made checking in so easy. We took a bus to Marin where the charter fleet is based. At the marina office you sit down on a computer, fill in a form with all the relevant data, print it out, and go to the front desk. There you present the form with 5 Euros, they stamp it - and that’s it. It was like this all through Martinique and Guadalupe. We did our check in/out at internet cafés, tourist offices or a marina and never even saw anyone wearing epaulets! Plus every port has a free dinghy dock with SS rings to tie your dinghy to and plenty of room for everyone.
Our last stop in Martinique was St. Pierre. Google Mt. Pelé, 1902. The local volcano erupted and 29,933 people perished. A good and scenic anchorage.
Iles des Saints (The Saints) was our 1st stop in Guadalupe. Sunday afternoon the winds came up out of the north and we headed for a mooring in front of the main town (11 Euros). The best news was we were able to order croissants and baguettes, to be delivered to the boat, the next morning by 7:30. You have to love the French!
Finally, our travel direction changed from the N-NE to NNW-NW. The Christmas winds also started to moderate and clock a little more E and S. Weather windows were now more frequent –almost real trawler weather. After a few more stops in Guadalupe, we took our only overnighter to get to St Maarten (130 miles).
Note: You may have noticed that we missed most of the old Commonwealth Countries. They make it very difficult if not impossible for us to legally land Morgan our dog. Grenada, the French and Dutch don’t care. Cumberland Bay is not an official port and rarely visited by federal officials so we felt safe stopping for one night; we did ask permission from a local official who said “Ok, mon” through the pot smoke haze... We’d sailed through the Eastern Caribbean in 2005 so we didn’t feel like we missed much. Taking a dog through the Windward and Leeward Islands of Caribbean can be done, but not easily.
The first picture is of a boat damaged in Hurricane Ivan (2004) & repaired (?), then a bit of nutmeg drying, the charter fleet in Marin, the next 4 St. Pierre (the sign is from a butcher shop selling cheval (horse) – what’s the big scandal all about?), The Saints, local fisherman working a seine net in the anchorage, and, of course, a rum distillery