We spent 4 nights on the mooring just outside the main town and only after snorkelling realised that the aerial of the wreck near us, marked by 2 yellow buoys, was actually quite shallow, so we were careful not to motor over it when we left.
If we had stayed much longer it would have been cheaper to pay for a week. A day is 11 Euros whilst a week is 60. A month is 140! The only snag with the moorings is the large metal hoop. In calm weather, such as we have had lately, the hoop bangs into the hull all night, keeping us awake. We have experience here though and drag the hoop up quite high at dusk, so the buoy is right out of the water. You can also wrap some cloth around the hoop but it would still make a noise and we sleep in the bow, just where it hits the boat.
One morning, before it got too hot, we walked across the island to the eastern side, passing a modern games stadium along the way, lots of cows, goats, ducks and chickens and got to what should be a lovely beach. It looked pretty enough but the smell was awful! Lots of weed has drifted into the bay and fair play to the authorities, they are removing it as fast as they can. For now, there are mounds of stinking weed on the beach and we hope it soon gets moved (not sure where to though) before the main tourist season really starts. It is already busy every day with numerous ferries bringing day-trippers in and they flood the boutiques and restaurants from about 0930 to 1700. Good to see how popular these little islands are, definitely deserved.
One evening we had a meal at ‘Le Mambo’, a small establishment which doesn’t overlook the bay but which is open all day and serves brilliant pizzas from 1830. I had the lobster one, piled with toppings and we needed a box to bring the leftovers back to the boat, as it was too much to eat at the time. The service was excellent and we will definitely be back there as it wasn’t expensive.
Another walk took us to the interesting cemetery and we made sure to visit all the shops in town before we anchored around the corner by Pain De Sucre, a favourite anchorage. We had heard that moorings were being put in but there aren’t any yet, so it is still free to anchor. Our issue was that both ATMs in town were ‘ne marche pas’ and we didn’t have any cash left to pay for the mooring when the man came to collect it. A lady in the supermarket told us that there is another ATM inside the Post Office. Perfect, full of cash and in an air-conditioned area. It was nice not to have to pay for moorings for a few days though anyway.
The Pain De Sucre anchorage is lovely, with clear water and great snorkelling. There are a couple of big rocks off the beach, so we anchor a little further back, in 10 metres. One catamaran dragged during a brief gust but you can easily see your anchor in any depth, so it should be possible to ensure it is dug in.
On Friday, in light southerly winds, we headed off towards Marie Galante, a larger, round, flat island reputedly with 100 windmills. It was and still is, a sugar cane producer, has far fewer tourists than the Saintes and is quite rustic. On the west coast we visited 3 anchorages, 1 off a beautiful beach, 1 off St Louis and 1 inside the harbour at Grand Bourg with all its shops and restaurants. This is only partially finished but has port and starboard buoys to mark the channel in between the reefs. One dock for yachts takes boats up to 13 metres long, so as there wasn’t any room for us to anchor we just looked around and left.
It was very peaceful and calm off the small town of St Louis and the water was crystal clear, enabling us to see the anchor and chain just hanging in the still water. There are 2 yellow buoys in the bay and you can’t anchor between them and the tanks ashore as there is an underwater pipe. Apart from fishing pots there isn’t anything else to worry a yacht. The floating dinghy dock is perfect, with big cleats to lock the ‘car’ to and it is just inside the main dock.
For a few hours, one morning, the Club Med Clipper came into the bay and anchored, then landed the passengers straight onto the beach in a small landing craft. They wandered around the town looking for something to do but St Louis is a quiet backwater and despite the efforts of the tourist office, which put on a little band to welcome their guests, there wasn’t time for them to really explore and the car and scooter rental places seemed to be unaware the ship was expected.
We walked along the beachfront, found a nice goat for Rob to talk to and went into the imposing church. A local man ran out waving a football flag and told us he had visited the UK. He asked us if we lived in Liverpool or Manchester, so assume they were the clubs he knew but he then ran into his house to find a photo album to proudly show us pictures of himself at Waterloo Station, years ago and another posing with two policemen! In another photo he was at a football ground holding a big cup but he had left us by then, chasing some other tourists down the road with his flag so we never found out what that was all about unfortunately.
Some of the old buildings are pretty but the general feel is one of a bygone age. The memorial to those lost at sea is simple but effective and the café just up from the dock served good coffee and croissants but we were the only customers despite the new arrivals. One of the main restaurants didn’t open until midday by which time the cruise ship was getting ready to leave, so they missed an opportunity. Perhaps the inhabitants of Marie Galante don’t want to be another Saintes or perhaps they haven’t cottoned on to what is expected yet. To be fair, we didn’t explore the interior of the island so can’t comment on what is available there.
We spent a couple of nights anchored in a pretty bay north of St Louis, called Anse Canot. It was very calm, the sandy beaches were picture perfect and the water was beautiful. 4 boats were anchored below the cliffs in the north-eastern part of the bay but as the wind was coming from the south, we went to the southern part for more protection but we did wonder if they knew something we didn’t! Most of the seabed is sand but there are a few rocks to be wary of if you want a quiet night.
Just as dusk fell, 1 of the other boats decided it would be better to be where we were and after dark a sailing boat approached the bay, with the wrong navigation lights on (mooring light, steaming light and nav lights), always a worry and they decided the very best spot in the huge, shallow and almost empty bay had to be just a few feet from us. Typical. Not only could their anchor be unreliable as they couldn’t check it in the dark, they were also anchored just in front of us so would have dragged straight into us in no time. Our friends Richard and Elaine had a great phrase – ‘the Velcro boat’ and that is often what we seem to be. Fortunately by daylight the boats had all swung round and they were behind us, slightly.
This week we lit our Advent Candle and I started the Christmas cake, a bit late but better late than never. I simmered the fruit and nuts in spices with molasses sugar, rum, brandy, cassis, angostura bitters and port for 15 minutes. The mixture is now in the fridge and next week I can bake the cake for Christmas. It is the local Caribbean cake, known as ‘Black Cake’ and is very heavy on fruit. Some recipes use minced fruit, so the cake is very dense but this one should be a little lighter. With only a couple of weeks until Christmas, it seems strange not to have a house full of food, work parties booked and plenty of presents hidden away. Here we can leave everything to the last minute and see what our friends would prefer to do.
We haven’t had access to WiFi since Wednesday and had far too many emails waiting for us, 90% of which were junk. Does unsubscribing from these mailing lists ever work?