Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bequia, Grenadines

We've been in Bequia for the past 9 days, enjoying the beauty of one of our favorite places in the Caribbean.
We had planned to stay a few days but Bequia has a way of taking hold of you and not letting go.
Perhaps it's the crystal-clear water, like floating in a swimming pool.

Perhaps it's the picturesque town of Port Elizabeth, the green hillside dotted with pretty tropical homes or the great snorkeling right from the boat.  It's all of those things.  It's especially nice in the off-season when it's quiet.  There are fewer boats then in the winter months.  Most cruising boats have already moved on to Trinidad or Grenada, planning their cruising year by the insurance company calendars.  We understand, we did that too our first year down here.  Now we know that we can play around in the Grenadines in the summer while we keep one eye on the weather.  We are only a day away from Grenada. 

We'll move on tomorrow to spend a few more days visiting some favorite places.
Until next time Beautiful Bequia!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

More Martinique, Rum!

Martinique was just begging to be explored!
We have never ventured into the interior of the island, always sticking to the anchorages along the west coast or Fort Du France Bay so we were looking forward to renting a car for a drive north along the east-coast of the island.  Our friends John and Linda (S/V Kool Kat) joined us for our adventure.  Driving on Martinique is wonderful!  The roads are beautifully maintained, they drive on the right and there are frequent informational and directional signs to guide you.

 Our destination was Habitation Clement, a 16 acre historical site on the grounds of the original Clement Rum Distillery.  Clement rum is currently made a few kilometers from here at a new facility.

 The drive through the palms at the entrance to Habitation Clement.

 Fields of sugar cane backed by a banana grove.

 The old distillery houses the Rhums Clement interpretation center.  Here you can see how rum was made throughout the centuries. 

 Barrel scale.

Barrel room.

 Workers checking the barrels.

In this small building called the Bursar's House, you can view a video commemorating the meeting of U.S. President George Bush and French President Francois Mitterrand on March 14, 1991.  They met at Habitation Clement after the first Gulf War.  There are pictures of the presidential helicopters landing in the cane field we showed you previously, all the cane cleared away to create a landing pad.

 The 18th century home of the Clement family, Creole House.
Linda and Wendy fell in love with the house and would have moved in right away.  There are large windows to let in the breeze, beautiful antique furnishings and an airy, tropical feel that was captivating.  It made you want to make a Ti Punch and retire to the veranda!

 Within the grounds are several buildings that the Clement Foundation uses to showcase art.  The exhibitions change and charitable fundraising events are held on the grounds.

Linda, Wendy and John taking a cool break in the gazebo.

 Tour over.  It's time to taste!

 Now that's a happy man!

The final selection for purchase was a bottle of Clement Rhum Vieux X.O.
It is a blend of some of the more prestigious aged rums from
1952 (the year Jim was born),
1970 (the year Jim graduated from high school) and
1976 (the year Jim and Wendy met).
How could we not take a bottle with us!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The South Coast of Martinique

It's amazing, but after all these years in the Caribbean we are still finding new places to explore.
This time it was Le Marin and St. Anne on the south coast of Martinique.

Neither of us was prepared for Le Marin.  We knew it was the boating center of Martinique with every kind of marine service available.  But that didn't prepare us for the size of the bay, HUGE, with more then a 1000 boats at anchor, on moorings or in the marinas.  It's not exactly a swimming bay but it is close to lots of shopping and restaurants.
Customs office in Le Marin.
Looking downhill toward the crowded bay.
The small town is colorful and picturesque.

Poor weather kept us on board for the first 4 days.  The wind blew 20-25 knots with frequent rain squalls.

This wasn't the only flag unraveling in the wind.  We are on our 3rd French courtesy flag in 4 years.

Less then 3 miles from Le Marin is a beautiful beach and the small town of St. Anne.

These beautiful racing boats were out practicing for the upcoming Bastille Day regattas.

Hauling in the sail.

Half-full of water after a rigorous practice, this one is sitting a little low in the water!
Street scenes from St. Anne.

Our lunch spot on the beach.  We had acras morue (fishcakes) and poulet coco (chicken in a coconut sauce).  Tres bon!

On Sunday afternoon, a large catamaran with about 16 people on board anchored next to us for the afternoon.  Girls in bikinis, bare-chested guys and photographers who seemed to be shooting a video. 
Nice eye-candy!
The only downside was that we had to listen to the same song blaring for 4 hours.  We couldn't make out the words but Jim thought they were singing "Who's got the hockey puck, who's got the hockey puck?"
Yeah right, on a French island in the Caribbean!

Photographer getting the close-up butt-shot.

Photo shoot is over and we are left alone to enjoy another beautiful sunset.

A quick position update for those readers who are wondering where we are currently.  We are on a mooring between the Pitons in St. Lucia.  Tomorrow at dawn we'll sail to Bequia in the Grenadines, approximately 57 nautical miles south.