The last couple of days on board ship before arriving in Martinique saw most of the crew getting irritable. Getting bothered by the most minor things. Just getting ship grumps I think.
The first sight of land made all the grumps go away.
We just wanted to get ashore. So, after we had anchored, had a swim call whilst the captain checked us in with customs we were finally released.
First stop, the cash point machine, Euros here. The nearest bar for a cold beer and Wifi. 12 of us all sitting around a table chinking beer bottles saying cheers in many languages and all feeling pretty good about crossing the Atlantic. Then the serious job of catching up on emails, and contacting home.
First day on the Island and I spent most of the morning popping in and out of the local launderette. After nearly three weeks I have run out of clean clothes.
Sent my clean laundry back to the ship and met up with a crowd of crew for adventuring.
Emil, Tim, Sebastian, Danielle and I all jumped on the nearest bus to see where it went.
We ended up in what we thought was going to be a small fishing village. Instead it was a seaside village with about 4 houses and a shop. The shop keeper however sold us some cold beers, opened them and put his chairs outside for us to sit on. It was lovely.
Next we jumped on another bus and went to the main town on the Island, Port France. This turned out to be very busy, touristy and full of seaside resort shops. It was OK, however we were sitting on Paradise Island and didn’t want, KFC or MacDonalds. Sort of made the place feel tacky. We had a fun day out just not what we expected.
Day 2, Work day. Rain had made the sails damp, so we were up in the rigging unfurling the sails so that they could hang and dry out. We then for the same reason set the three sails on the Gib Boom. Big mistake. The wind caught the sails and we started to drag the anchor. Shouts to take in the sails, then the last one got stuck. The flag got stuck in a running block and jammed the rope. The inner gib was stuck up.
The captain was suddenly back on board the ship, shouting and cussing all, Finally the flag was cleared and the sail came down. The arduous job of bringing up the anchor began. Now usually this job happens when the whole crew is on board and we can step in and out as out as required, different people taking it turns to pump the windlass. Only our watch and a few extras on board today. 2 hours later in the mid day sun, we were exhausted, water was being given to us on the breaks that we were having to take. We were all so hot, it was incredible that we managed to get the job done. Lunch which is always at 12 didn’t happen until 1:30.
We then had a swim call to cool ourselves down before the afternoons work.
The rest of the crew had to go back up the rigging to furl the sails, I went to the Galley and cooked dinner for the crew.
The hardest days work by far for us all. Very physical and very hot.
Day 3. Vicky and I came ashore early and hunted out Wifi. We both wanted time to call and chat and hopefully see our families on FaceTime and Skype.
At 11pm we were both finished catching up with home and decided to visit a rum distillery. It was a 2 1/2 kms walk. Beautiful landscape, rivers, paddling in streams. Got all the way there to find out that it is closed on Sunday’s. The restaurant was open, but fully booked. They did allow us though to buy beers and sit out on the grass over looking the sea. It really was quite gorgeous, sitting under a borganvila bush drinking cold beers and rum punches.
We walked back and found a fabulous seaside restaurant for a very late lunch. Well deserved after 4 hours walking.
Martinique. It is stunningly beautiful, laid back, calm and friendly.
Monday 29th Feb.
Woken up at 6:15. All hands muster and ready for work at 6:30. Were are off again to lands anew. We have three film researchers from France on broad. They are doing a documentary / reality historical program about French settlers in the 1600’s. They have joined us to see what goes on on board a sailing ship. Every job or task we were doing was being filmed, pulling up the anchor, setting sails, climbing the rigging even cleaning the skiff. Very strange when you get the feeling that someone is watching you and you look up to see a camera lens.
The pictures should be brilliant, so hopefully we can see them soon.
This was a very long day, hot and physical. We arrived at Dominica and were all cleared in and ashore by 5pm. Anchor has been dropped and the ship verse towards the land and two long ropes have been tied to Palm trees to keep us in place. So cool to see.
Went into town for food and a drink. Very tired, Ate a Chinese meal as it was the only place open on a Monday night. Good food.
Work day. Everyone on watch, feeling really tired today. I thought it was me being older than everyone else and less able to recover from the physical activity as quickly, so was pleased that we were all feeling the same.
got various chores done during the morning, then we all slowed down during the afternoon. Working in the tropical heat makes everything harder. I cooked dinner again. Made a good English Cottage pie. Went down very well with all.
Woken up to stand watch at 5:45am. Took over the last of the night watched from Sam and the heavens opened. It is after all a rain forest here. I spent the next hour and a half in my pyjamas in the rain, checking lines on deck. The rain is warm, it’s all such fun.
Vicky organised an all day trip round the Island. 7 of us , Vicky, John, Sebastian, Tim, Danielle, Tammy and I went all over the island.
Visited an indigenous village, are only about 2000 original Caribes left. The guide showed us how they processed and collected food in the rainforest, all the herbs that are growing naturally in the area. He even cracked open a coconut and put a piece in a stream. Within seconds cray fish came out to feed. Makes catching them easy. Whilst looking around the village we spotted whales out to sea. The local people then performed a welcome song and dance for us. It was so quaint.
We saw a lot of the destruction on the island that hurricane Erica caused 5 months ago. Lumps of roads and bridges just washed away.
We went to a nature reserve and swam in waterfalls. Visited the largest waterfalls on the island.Trafalgar falls. Everything is so lush and and green.
Finished the day off eating grilled tuna with plantain, vegetables, chips and great company.
Dominica day 3. No plans today. Thought I would laze around, get some laundry done and then head out somewhere for lunch. Instead Sam and I were asked if we could don our ships t-shirts and deliver some of the donated books to a couple of local primary schools.
We first went to St Martins school for girls. We were introduced to some of the girls from various classes and thanked for the books by the head and deputy head girls and the school principal. Then taken to the classroom where the class sang us a welcome and thank you song. It was all so beautiful.
Next to the local convent school. We were mobbed as we went into the school gate. All the children crowding round us asking if the books were for them. The principal called the children to assembly outside in the playground and told the children that we had bought them some books. I was then asked to speak and explain who we were and where the books had come from. Sam and I then went down and into the mass of children, they all wanted to touch us and hold our hands and talk to us. They also sang us a thank you song. It is amazing how wonderful giving so little can mean so much to so many. I felt so privileged to carry out this ships duty.
The rest of my day, I am sitting writing my blog, going into town for something the eat. Wandering round the shops, just chilling out feeling the beauty that is Dominica.
I got chatted up by a huge Dominican man. He bought me a drink, then after chatting he left. Later in the day I bumped into him again, he asked me if I wanted to spend the afternoon smoking pot with him. I politely declined.
Came back to the Anchor hotel in front of our morning place. Met up with various crew, ordered food for dinner. A couple of rum punches, then back to the ship at 8. Early night.
Tomorrow we sail for Bequia.