Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Barbados to Martinique - part 1 Grenada

Grenada to British Yacht Stella Mira
Martinique C/O H.B.M Consul
Society Islands
Pacific Ocean.

Dear Phyl,
The above address is the only one at which we are likely to be sure of getting mail from you.

We have had no mail since you wrote to Barbados. It seems unlikely that we shall have time to go up to Nicholson’s at Antigua, especially as there may not be anything for us, even if we did. Penny will write them and have anything sent to us at Balboa, which place we hope to be in about 14 days (God willing)

As you will have gathered from the postmark we are now at Martinique, where we have called to change our gas cylinders before leaving for Panama. This is the only place which does camping gas. For the last few weeks we have had to manage with paraffin for cooking and lighting. My last letter put you in the picture as far as Barbados, so I will go on from there.

We left Barbados a week before Christmas to go to Grenada. This is called the Nutmeg Island and is the principle source of this spice. It took us about 30 hours of downwind sailing and as we rounded the headland to approach the harbour we were hit by one of its famous white squalls. For a ¼ of an hour we were deluged, visibility through the really stinging rain (we had only our swim suits on) was only 25 yards and the wind heeling us to the cockpit combing, forced us to let fly our sheets every two or three minutes. It soon abated, and we were then able to pass through the entrance into the lagoon, where we dropped anchor alongside ‘She’ which had arrived there several days before. Sheila and Bob Fleming told us that they had arranged to go up on the slip on Christmas day to antifoul.

The harbour was full of charter boats, mostly 40 to 50 feet long, earning fabulous money, chartering to rich Americans, and in consequence, the fees for hauling out, etc were far beyond our humble pockets, so having heard that a yard called ‘Grants’ in Martinique was reasonable, we decided to wait till we got there. We met a lot of old friends and made a lot of new ones among the charter and other boats moored in Granada. The yacht club made us welcome, and although we could not afford meals there we were able to use the showers and read back numbers of yachting magazines we had missed whilst drinking iced cokes.

The charter boat crews had bought a live pig and proposed to kill and barbeque it for Christmas dinner at the Patio Club adjoining the mooring stages. We were invited to participate in this and to go to several parties. One party, on a boat called ‘Zelina’ was a continuous one, from Christmas Eve to New Year, guests knocking off to sleep at irregular intervals.

Whilst in Grenada, we went to the local cinema, which showed mostly Italian made westerns, and James Bond type films, real ham, but very funny. It was a bit scary walking at night there, there seems to be a fair bit of violence among the locals with a real risk of mugging so we only went in a large group.

‘Sugar Creek’, a boat I have previously mentioned had arrived, and although not much bigger than ‘Stella Mira’, had made an agreement with a local hotel, and was taking out four or five guests at a time on day charter, at 15 U.S dollars a head. They intended to do this for the entire season, and then with the proceeds buy a plot of land and build a bungalow, which they will furnish and let through an agent to American tourists. Then they will go on through into the Pacific, and continue cruising with an assured income.

As usual, we stayed longer that we had intended in Grenada. We make so many friends and then the longer we stay, the harder it is to part from them. Each day we say “We must go tomorrow” but something always seems to crop up to stop us. Then someone says “You must come and see this or that, you may never get a chance to see it again” and so time flies.

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