THE ANTILLES: FROM GRENADA TO SAINT LUCIA
After their Atlantic crossing aboard their sailboat, Bérangère, Laurent and their two children enjoy the sun and head out to discover the islands of the Antilles.
We made the decision to arrive at Grenada and then take our time travelling up the arc of the Antilles. Grenada is a former British colony that has managed to conserve a bit of its British charm. We went for a hike in a tropical forest, leading us to some beautiful waterfalls under which we could swim. It rains there quite often, so the ground was soaked and we walked in the sludge, to the great joy of the children, who had a ball jumping in the puddles. The inhabitants were charming, but spoke English with such an accent that we had difficulty understanding them. The marina was very luxurious, and we enjoyed the pool, around which the owners of super yachts organised BBQ parties!
Next, we arrived at Carriacou, a smaller island than Grenada, but also more authentic. There was no mass tourism. We stopped at Sandy Island, a little stretch of sand decorated by lovely palm trees. In this protected natural reserve, a flock of pelicans feasted on fish. It was a non-stop spectacle, where these large birds soared and dived, rarely missing their target.
Next, on Union Island, we met a French couple and their little girl, Sky. Together, we spent an evening at Chatham Bay, eating fresh-caught barracuda and langoustes that we cooked on the BBQ, a real treat!
In Clifton, the principal city of the island, we anchored between the coral reefs that formed a protective barrier around us. To go ashore, we kept our tender at Dinghy Dock. In the main square, we bought 1kg of tomatoes, one pineapple and three zucchinis for the modest sum of $100 EC, or 30 euros! We knew that the fruits and vegetables would be expensive, but not to this degree…
The Tobago Cays
These are some of the most iconic spots in the Antilles: turquoise waters, fine sand beaches, coral reefs, sun and heat. We spent hours in the water with our children observing hundreds of fish, rays, and especially sea turtles, which swam two or three metres below us. We saw them come up to the surface for air. The “boat boys” roam all over the archipelago to sell fish, langoustes and banana bread to those on visiting boats. We thoroughly enjoyed the banana bread, and we bought a tuna, which was cleaned and cut into tuna steaks right beside the boat. We then shared it with Zéphir, a neighbouring boat that we had previously encountered in Cape Verde. We feasted on fresh tuna, marinated and then grilled on the BBQ!
We headed further North, toward Bequia, and as we have found ever since we have been in the Antilles, between islands, sailing is upwind. In the channels between the islands, we took on buckets of water on deck. We anchored in port Elizabeth and learned that several days before, in the same anchorage, some sailboats were found with their masts in the water and keels in the air due to a massive swell that came in from the North and into the bay. As we were, at that moment, in the Tobago Cays and protected by coral reefs, we had not felt the effects. It is impressive to see what the power of the water can do in so little time.
On the island, we discovered a sea turtle sanctuary. An association collects the turtle eggs that have been laid on the island’s beaches by the females in order to protect and raise the little sea turtles until they are 7 years old. After that time, they are set free in the ocean.
We changed territory once more… Laurent must go each time with the boat’s papers and the passports in search of the customs office and the police to clear the boat through customs, which costs between 5 and 50 euros, according to the country, the hours and the people!
We spent only two nights on Saint Lucia, one in Marigot Bay and one in Rodney Bay to go directly on to Martinique. Like pirates, we skipped the step of passing through customs and we navigated illegally through the territory. At least we saved on fees and on time, as the steps are sometimes long… Shhh! Don’t tell anyone!
We caught our first fish, finally, after a year of waiting and hoping! A nice Barracuda heroically sacrificed itself, biting the lure that we dragged over the length of the island. The stopover in Saint Lucia was very quick, as we were eager to arrive on Martinique to meet up with some friends and to prepare for the arrival of my little brother and his wife, who would come to stay with us for 10 days on board...
After nearly a year of travelling, we would finally return to French territory… We were eager to enjoy again some very French pleasures that we had begun to miss, such as the bread and other cheeses. No more cheddar!