Moving on to Roseau was a strange wind wise day, everything from flat calms to gentle sailing breezes and 25 knots and from all different directions, made it difficult to get the sails right and I lost count of reefs in reefs out, yankee furled away yankee unfurled. Made for a frustrating day. Picked up one of Sea Cat’s moorings once at Roseau. But the strange SW swell that we have been having for the past few days made it anything but a restful night. I had planned to stay a while and visit the interior but in view of the swell I left early next morning. The forecast was for Easterly 15 knot winds- which would have been lovely. Passing Scotts Head at the south of the island was gusty as might be expected but then it settled down to a steady SE 18 knots. Well I could live with that even though it meant being closehauled rather than on a more comfortable reach for the 26 miles across to Martinique. Later the wind dropped to average about 13 knots and a gentle sea state but after a hour or so of this the wind was up to 20 knots plus and the sea a bit more agitated and then 25 lots of wind and then later everything from 5 knots, virtual calms to 25 knots, difficult sailing. Eventually we were in the lee of Martinque and no wind but a slop of a sea. Never mind not so far to St Pierre to anchor.
St Pierre was the site of a big volcanic disaster in 1902 when the Mt Pele erupted, engulfing the town, at the time the biggest in Martinque, in a fireball of superheated gas. There were just 2 survivors, an estimated 29,933 people died and 12 ships at anchor in the bay were destroyed. Today many ruins remain, still blackened around the edges, the population is about 6,000. the town is quite interesting and Mt Pele is quiet.
After a couple of days here it was on to Fort De France. A strong wind onto nose so tacking. It was May day so everything was shut but the beach and park were humming with activity.
Another day I took a “taxi collective” (the equivalent of a bus) out through the busy outskirts and across the middle fertile agricultural part of the island past plantation of bananas and sugar cane fields to La Francoise, a quiet little town – not much there but it enabled me to see more of the island.
Time to leave Fort de France, supplies bought, sail covers off, all made ready to hoist the anchor but the weather thought otherwise, blowing 25 knots in the anchorage and the bay a mass of white horses. No I thought I don’t have to go, so I didn’t.
Forecast was better for next day so dawn saw me hauling in the anchor. Nice sailing breeze across the bay and down the coast but thereafter if was 22 knots plus, mostly more like 25 knots for the rest of the day. 2 reefs in the main and just the staysail up. The wind kicked up quite a sea at times and at one point a wave joined me in the cockpit, breaking over my head. Still one advantage of Caribbean sailing is even the water is not cold and you soon dry off, albeit a little salty. Made it to the shelter of Marigot Bay, St Lucia and anchored outside the lagoon. A scenic spot this, decided to stay over next day.
Next stop was off Soufriere, just 10 miles down the coast, a most beautiful coast I must say. Soufriere Bay is dominated by the Pitons, two wonderful volcanic peaks. I moored off the bat cave but it was a little rolly here so later moved across the bay hoping it would be quieter off the town.