February, 2018, we readied the Pilots’ Discretion for sea, which included, among other things, the boys assisting Gaza (a dear friend and our ‘go to guy’ in St. Lucia for a wide array of boat projects) polishing the Eisenglass. They did such an amazing job, when they were done, the Eisenglass looked brand new! Additionally, we finished upgrading our inverter/battery chargers, serviced our main engines and genset and made one final run to Mega Massey to provision the boat.Ronan, Gaza & Ryan – Eisenglass done!
A few days prior to departing St. Lucia, Ronan and I encountered a famous St. Lucian Soca/Gospel singer, Denver Pierre, filming a music video at Rodney Bay Marina, where our boat was. He asked Ronan to be in the video. In the final video Ronan is shown 19 seconds in & again at 1:58.
It is a positive message themed song and video and it also shows a lot of nice video footage out and about in St. Lucia.
February 25, 2018
The day we departed St. Lucia was bitter sweet for us. In addition to the melancholy feelings associated with leaving an island where we had spent a significant amount of time and made many friends, it also marked the day that Patton would have turned 16. After setting out to sea, we had a moment of silent memorial and paid tribute to the greatest boat dog there ever was.
Our first stop on our northern course was in Fort de France, Martinique. We had been there several times in prior cruising seasons, and had written about our experiences after those visits. See Dominica, Martinique & St. Lucia (2015/06/04). Martinique was fortunate to have escaped the brundt of the wrath of Irma and Maria. While we did see some minor damage (missing roofs on some structures in the fort), overall, the small metropolitan city seemed as beautiful as ever.
We were pleased to see that the renovations on the central cathedral, which was covered in scaffolding during our last visit, were completed. The results were magnificent.
With cruise ship season in full swing, it was no surprise that, the day we pulled in to port, there was a cruise ship picking up passengers and getting underway herself.
Our next port of call on our northward bound journey was Dominica.
Unlike Martinique, Dominica was hit hard this past hurricane season. When we arrived, six month’s after the hurricanes, the damage to the landscape and structures was still readily apparent.
Equally apparent was the strength and resolve of the people to carry on and move forward. Tourism and agriculture are the two main resources in Dominica. While the island continues to work towards recovering the agricultural resources, tourism was abundant. In Portsmouth harbor, the Portsmouth Association of Yacht Services (PAYS) was up and running, guiding boats to mooring balls and offering other yacht services.
The mooring balls and lines all looked new and the harbor was as full as we have ever seen it. The VHF was full of chatter from yachtsmen arranging river and rainforest tours. Once again, with cruise ship season in full swing, we saw a sailing cruise ship in the harbor ferrying passengers to and from the island. She was a beautiful sight to see, sails up, departing at sunset, just off our stern.
We refueled in Rivière Sens, at the southern end of Guadeloupe, before continuing north to Deshaies.
We pulled into Deshaies to the sight of yet another sailing cruise ship.
Deshaies seemed to have fewer mooring balls available than we had seen on previous visits, so we dropped our anchor and settled in for yet another fabulous Caribbean sunset.
In Deshaies, boats come by to “take your morning order,” and the next morning, we had fresh baguettes delivered right to our boat.
In sum, it seems this past year’s hurricanes have not dampened the cruise ship / cruisers / tourism enthusiasm in the Easterrn Caribbean. In fact, we spoke to many who said they were purposesfully visiting hurricane hit island nations because tourism dollars are needed to assist in the speedier recovery of the islands. We will not sugar coat it, there have been significant physical and economic consequences for the Eastern Caribbean islands but for the most part these islands and their people have proven resilient and will thrive again.
In our next series of posts we will be reporting on what we found on some of the islands that had a more direct encounter with Irma or Maria or both.