With all the boat systems working beautifully, we left Trinidad on March 10, departing Scotland Bay at 2:40 a.m., heading north back up the island chain. We had a wonderful night sail going the fastest the boat has ever sailed, 7-8 knots. We made great time and arrived outside St. Georges, Grenada about 2:00 p.m. We spent the night and left the next morning for Chatham Bay on Union Island. During the two-day trip, the boat was heeled way over to port, unlike our trip south when we heeled to starboard for a solid year! Heeling in the other direction and heeling so far over with water rushing over the bow and down the side of the boat, we were shocked to discover that salt water had found its way to the tray over the chart table and was dripping onto the electronics. Another problem was that the stitching of the green UV strip along the edge of the headsail had came loose. We stopped two nights in Chatham Bay to change headsails and reseal a window over the electronics area.
On April 14, we got up bright and early and headed to Bequia, only a few hours away. However, the day was so glorious with sun, wind, and bright blue skies that we kept going, arriving at St. Anne, Martinique about 3:30 a.m. The anchorage is user friendly, a huge area of 20-foot water, so we approached the last anchored boat, dropped our anchor and fell back. The next morning when we awoke, we saw that our neighbor was a friend from Trinidad, the boat Agape de Mer! Small world.
The first order of business in Martinique was to get the sail repaired. Since we were going to the sailmakers to have the genoa restitched, we took the mainsail down to have it checked as well. We found a competent sail loft in Le Marin and were pleased with their reasonably priced work. Sails of this size are not easily managed and it was a real hassle to take the sails down. Once repaired, we had to drop the replacement jib and return the two repaired sails to service.
On our way south last year, we had quickly passed through Martinique, rushed by the insurance requirement that we get south of the hurricane box. We had not seen much of the island so we stayed five weeks, quickly adapting to inexpensive wines, French bread, pate, and life with a French flavor. Customs in the French islands requires up-to-date US documentation, but other than that, it is one of the easier check-ins with no charge and no hassle. A very pleasant place to visit. One day, Bob was tooling around the anchorage in the dinghy when the couple in the French boat near us waved to him. He waved back and went on his way, but upon his return, he went over to say hi. They spoke very good English and invited us over for drinks that evening. We went and stayed for dinner, them practicing English, and Joan practicing French. We spent frequent evenings with them until we left to visit other ports of the island. They later told us that they waved to Bob because they had never seen anyone stand up in the dnghy driving with a tiller extension as is common among those who have spent time in George Town, Bahamas.
On April 27, we headed north up the coast and visited Fort de France, the largest town on the island, located at the mouth of a huge bay. The best way to visit the little resort towns on the opposite side of the bay from Fort de France is by ferry rather than car so the ferry service is a very busy place. Located adjacent to the anchorage in front of town, the ferries' wake constantly rocks or rolls the anchored boats. We endured this in order to get our projects done. We took public transportation to an "industrial zone" to get a bearing for the deck washdown pump. They had to order it from Guadaloupe but it arrived when promised at the stipulated price. All this was transacted with Joan's French about which she felt quite successful! The open-air produce, flower, and fish market was one of the larger we've seen and people were very friendly. One lady insisted that Joan put her Ziplock bag with French francs inside a black plastic bag so thieves couldn't see the money. Most locals are helpful and watch out for you.