Travels with S/Y Thetis


Thetis only

2005: Barbados to Martinique

This web page contains the logs of the fifth and final leg of a transatlantic sailing trip that I took with S/Y Thetis together with my friend Manos Castrinakis. The logs cover a period of 10 days of sailing in the Caribbean from Bridgetown on the island of Barbados to Cul-de-Sac du Marin on the island of Martinique via the island of St. Lucia (Soufriere, Marigot, Rodney Bay). After the first 6 days my friend Manos departed and I singlehanded to Martinique. The logs are illustrated with maps and photographs, and also include some historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited as well as several links to other related web sites.

Map of E Atlantic with route
Route in the Caribbean

Monday February 21, 2005 Day 45

Map of Barbados Barbados is a low lying island with its highest peak only 336 m (1102 ft.) high. It has an area of 431 km² and 279,254 inhabitants. It is the easternmost Caribbean island. It is an independent state and member of the British Commonwealth.

The name “Barbados” comes from a Portuguese explorer named Pedro Campos in 1536, who originally called the island Los Barbados (“The Bearded Ones”), upon seeing the appearance of the island’s fig trees, whose long hanging aerial roots he thought resembled beards. Between Campos’ sighting in 1536 and 1550, Spanish conquistadors seized many Caribs on Barbados and used them as slave labor on plantations. Other Caribs fled the island, moving elsewhere. The British colonized the island in the 1600s where they established plantations of sugar cane. To work the plantations they imported many slaves from Africa. This went on until 1834 when slavery was abolished in the British Empire. The island gained its independence in 1966.

We both slept deeply and continuously. What a luxury! In the morning we took the dinghy and went ashore. The beach here in Carlisle Bay, Barbados is lovely, with very fine sand but there is a constant surf that makes landing with the dinghy difficult. We tied to a pier that, according to our dated Atlantic Crossing Guide, belonged to the Knowles Boatyard. Well, Knowles does not exist anymore and the pier belongs to the Boatyard, a bar/restaurant. They want $20 BBD ($1 USD = $2 BBD) per day for the use of their pier and their other facilities i.e. cold shower but they give you a number of chips which you can use for drinks or food.

We walked to the town looking for a laundry and a chandlery. We found the only chandlery but it specialized in fishing supplies and had neither a St. Lucia courtesy flag nor an Imray Guide for the Caribbean. After asking around we eventually located a laundry in which, after a $15 BBD taxi ride, we left our dirty clothes.

Road Map of Bridgetown Click to see a larger window of this map
Road Map of Bridgetown

Careenage In the Careenage, a river inlet and the inner harbor of Bridgetown where all the large recreational fishing boats are berthed, we met the S/Y Sequoyah and the S/Y Scaramouch, both US sailboats that we had met in Cape Verde. They had arrived a few days before Thetis. Sequoyah, after overtaking us, had an easy trip save for the last two days when she had to motor. They also suffered from scarcity of water; they had to ration it. Her crew was amazed that we in little Thetis regularly took hot showers. Scaramouch had left two days before we did. They encountered some bad weather and arrived in Barbados with their engine inoperable and a torn sail.

After returning to Thetis I had a nice swim. The water was very warm 28°C (82°F). I snorkeled and checked the anchor. It was nicely embedded in the sand. I saw a small but lovely sea turtle feeding near the chain.

In the evening we met Mr. Ruall Harris, whom Manos knew when Mr. Haris was the Caribbean ambassador to the European Union in Brussels and Manos worked for the EU. Mr. Haris is now retired from the foreign service and is the head of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce. He picked us up with his car and drove us to his house in St. George. It is a nice house with a panoramic view of the island. His wife Faith, a judge, had prepared a nice spread of local delicacies which of course we sampled while sipping the famous Barbados Rum & Coca Cola. Later we all went to the Waterfront Café restaurant in the Careenage where we had a very tasty dinner of tuna and grilled shrimps, Caribbean style.

Sunset from Carlisle Bay

Tuesday February 22, 2005 Day 46

The day started in a not very auspicious way. Our goals for the day were:

  1. to refill the two jerry cans with Diesel fuel
  2. retrieve our laundry
  3. mail a registered letter to my lawyer in Athens
  4. find a St. Lucia courtesy flag
  5. get some provisions, especially some bottled water.

Yesterday, on the way to the laundry place, I had seen two gas stations near the Yachting Club on the S of Carlisle Bay. The club appeared to have a landing dock. So, we loaded the cans in the dinghy and set out to explore this dock and see if we could reach a gas station from there. On the way we saw a local fisherman pulling his net onto his boat. We stopped the outboard and asked him where was the nearest place that we could get Diesel fuel. He told us to forget the gas stations but to go to the small fishing harbor just N of the Careenage. We started the outboard and turned back. We had not gone more than 3 boat-lengths when the outboard quit. No matter how furiously we pulled its cord it refused to start up again. The large swell was driving us off the shore. We frantically rowed to a buoy. The nice fisherman, seeing our trouble, came to our rescue. He towed us back to Thetis.

Barbados Fish Harbor It took us more then half an hour to start the flooded outboard again. We then drove the dinghy to the fishing harbor without any further trouble. Here were two filling station signs: a Texaco and an Esso. We landed the dinghy on the wooden pier and I got off. I carried the cans to the Esso station. The very fat attendant explained that yes he normally does have Diesel fuel but now he was out of it and is waiting for a new delivery, which should come in a few hours. He suggested I go to the Texaco station, 2 docks away. I went there carrying the cans. It was shut. I was told that the lady who operates the pumps should be coming back, real soon now. She did come an hour later carrying a bucket full of snow peas and we got our fuel. While waiting for her I explored the large fish market next to the harbor. The variety of fish was amazing from flying-fish to huge tunas and swordfish.

Barbados Fish Market
Barbados Fish Market

After filling the cans we rode the dinghy to the Careenage and tied it on the Scaramouch. We were planning to take a bus to the laundry place and then to shop for provisions in a supermarket but first Manos had to have his breakfast. This was a very time-consuming affair. During breakfast he casually mentioned that we, unlike every other time we had left the boat and contrary to the strong recommendations of the Atlantic Crossing Guide, had left Thetis’ cabin unlocked. With visions of all our possessions and electronic instruments being stripped, I left Manos in the restaurant and drove the dinghy back to Thetis. To my great relief nothing was missing. I locked the cabin and then drove back to the Careenage.

Downtown Bridgetown In the meantime, Manos, after finishing his leisurely breakfast, took a bus to the laundry place. It was the wrong bus. After realizing his mistake he got off and then took a taxi, at a great expense, but eventually he did retrieve our laundry. Everything here is expensive.

After returning to the Careenage I went looking for the Post Office. It was far away and the day was getting rather hot. I found it at last and mailed my letter. Then I looked for the store on Tudor Street where I was told that I might be able to find a St. Lucia flag. It took some time and asking many people but eventually I located it. It was not a store, as I was expecting, but a flag making shop on the second floor of an unmarked old building. Yes, they could make us a flag but it will take 2 days. We were planning to depart tomorrow! Back at the Careenage I found Manos with the laundry. We sat at a waterfront restaurant and had lunch. A tasty chicken salad and a cold beer. Then on to a supermarket for provisions. We loaded all these in the dinghy and headed back to Thetis.

I had a nice long swim while Manos had a nap. In the evening we took the dinghy back to the Careenage and had a nice dinner at the Waterfront Café to the sound of Calypso and Reggae live music. We noticed three extremely handsome local young men dancing with elderly white ladies, a different lady each time.

Carlisle Bay in the Moonlight
Carlisle Bay in the Moonlight

Wednesday February 23, 2005 Day 47

Commercial Harbor The plan for today was to clear customs and depart from Barbados for St. Lucia in the afternoon so that we would arrive tomorrow morning at Soufriere Bay. In the morning, we got into the dinghy, Manos sleepy and grumpy, and drove to the fish harbor. We left the dinghy there and walked for 10 minutes to the commercial harbor with our ship’s papers. It was a madhouse because several large cruise ships had arrived. We were told to first go to Customs, but at the Customs they told us to go to another building. There I was given 3 new forms to fill in. While they had a different layout all three of them asked for exactly the same information. These I filled out and gave, along with a printed crew list, to the polite but officious official. While he was scrutinizing them I realized that I was missing my camera. I asked Manos, who had fallen asleep, if he had seen it. He had not but he volunteered to go back to the Customs office and see if I had left it there. Before the official had finished with whatever he was doing Manos returned and to my great relief he had the camera with him. Paperwork done and an extra $8.3 BBD paid we took the papers back to Customs. Presiding there was the same friendly official who had checked us in on Sunday. He looked at the papers we were given at the other office and frowned. He then slowly unstapled them, re-arranged them, and then stapled them again. There were more forms to fill out. After Customs we had to go to Immigration but the office was locked. The crew from Sequoyah was already there ahead of us. They showed me, on their video camera, the pictures they took of Thetis when they overtook us in mid-ocean. They were very dramatic. I hope they send them to me electronically as they have promised. Eventually our turn came. More forms, more stamps, but at last we were done. During all this no official bothered to even look at the ship’s papers or to verify that indeed I was her owner and had not stolen her.

We walked back to the fishing harbor where we had left the dinghy. On the way we passed a small restaurant that advertised ice cream. Knowing Manos’ weakness for ice cream and need for breakfast I suggested that we stop, but he was not interested. We went back to Thetis where I made lunch. After lunch I had a nice long swim.

By 1400 we were ready to leave. We raised the anchor and departed towing the dinghy. After motoring for 1 nM we got a nice SE breeze and we hoisted the mainsail, removing all the reefs, and turned off the engine. Soon the wind backed to NNE and we opened the headsail as well. It was a lovely sail.

The sunset was also beautiful. For dinner I made pasta alla puttanesca. Manos went to bed while I stayed in the cockpit. The moon was almost full and during this, our last overnight passage, I was not going to miss any of the delightful vistas of the sea. Around midnight, however, the wind died and the sails started to flap. I had to wake up Manos to help me lower the mainsail. It was hard to do because by that time there were considerable seas.

Thursday February 24, 2005 Day 48

Map of St. Lucia We continued motoring during the night. We encountered several ferryboats on a reciprocal course. We tried to open the headsail and motor-sail but, although there was adequate wind, about 10 knots, the large waves would throw us off our course and make the sail flap.

We were rewarded by a spectacular sunrise over the clouds in the E and the almost full moon still in the sky, while to the N the Pitons of St. Lucia were painted pink and St. Vincent to our S was orange. To complete the show, 4-5 large dolphins came and played with our bow wave.

Approaching St. Lucia
Approaching St. Lucia

The Pitons As we were approaching St. Lucia, especially after rounding Cape Moule a Chique, the scenery became very dramatic with the view of the two peaks: Gros Piton and Petit Piton, 771 m (2529 ft) and 743 m (2437 ft) tall. We hailed the authorities of Soufriere on the VHF channel 16, or at least we thought these were the authorities. We were instructed to moor right off the dock and bring our papers to Customs.

Saint Lucia is part of the Lesser Antilles and is an independent country and a member of the British Commonwealth. The island population is 160,145 and an area of 620 km². The island was originally populated by Carib Indians.

The Europeans first arrived in 1550s led by the notorious buccaneer Francois le Clerc, a.k.a. Jambe de Bois, or Wooden Leg. Peg-Leg le Clerc set up a fine little base on Pigeon Island, from whence he issued forth to prey upon unwitting and treasure-laden Spanish galleons. The island is named for the Roman Catholic Saint Lucy of Syracuse. Around 1600, the Dutch arrived, establishing a fortified base at Vieux Fort. Then the English colonists arrived in the 1600s. The French also settled in Soufrière in 1746. The British and the French contested the island throughout the 17th and early 18th centuries (changing possession 14 times); it was finally ceded to the UK in 1814. Self-government was granted in 1967 and independence in 1979. Despite this long English rule, the island’s French cultural legacy is still evident in its Creole dialect.

We arrived in Soufriere, St. Lucia [13° 51.3' N 61° 03.6' W] on 1020 after 113.8 sea miles. As instructed, we caught a mooring and then went to the dock with the dinghy. As soon as we approached the dock a man came and grabbed our painter line. He held it while we stepped out of the dinghy and then practically snatched from our hands the bag of garbage that we had. He then demanded, not asked, $10 ECD ($1 USD = $1.6 ECD). We walked to the Customs. The clearing procedure was not bad but it took some time. We then walked around the small town. Even here we could not find a St. Lucia courtesy flag but ended up getting a scarf with the flag design. We also re-filled the jerry can for the outboard with gasoline. Manos made a reservation to fly out of St. Lucia on Sunday.

Soufriere
The Town of Soufriere

House in Soufriere The walk through the town was not pleasant. We were hassled all the time by people who wanted to sell us fruits, bread, take the garbage, sign us up for a tour, use their taxi, etc. These people were at the dock, the streets, and in the sea with various boats. This is very tiresome and it negates the enjoyment of a really stunningly beautiful place. The steep Pitons, covered with thick rain forest, come all the way down to the green ocean and to the small beaches of very fine sand.

Anchoring in the bay, which is a sea park, is prohibited to protect the fragile coral reefs but there are a number of laid moorings for the use of which you pay a fee. We moved Thetis and headed for one of these moorings just S of the town. While I slowly guided the boat towards the mooring Manos stood at the bow with the hook ready to catch it. We were about 2 boat lengths from the mooring when a local boat rushed to it. The man took the mooring line and with a smile handed it to Manos. This cost us $20 ECD. The sun was brutal. We put up the tent and had lunch and a refreshing swim. The water was clear but not as translucent as in the Aegean.

Soufriere Sea Park Later I took the dinghy and went snorkeling ($3 ECD fee) in a nearby coral reef. There were lots of small fish; some parrot fish, large schools (over 600) of tiger fish, sponges, coral formations, etc. But the visibility was less than 5 m (16 ft). It was beautiful. Too bad Manos did not come with me.

In the evening a park ranger made the rounds with a boat of all the moorings and collected the mooring fee, $40 ECD for a minimum of 2 nights. We decided to follow the recommendation of the Sailors Guide to the Windward Islands and eat at the Hummingbird restaurant. According to the guide, the restaurant provides free “dinghy watching” service at its own dock (it seems that dinghy theft is endemic in this part of the world and “dinghy watchers” are a must). At the dock, we were met by a man who took charge of the dinghy. Despite what the guide said, he wanted $10 ECD for watching the dinghy. We proceeded to the restaurant. It was attractive. We had a rum-based drink and then dinner. The food was indeed good but the service, considering the high prices, was spotty at best. The waitress came with a pitcher of water. She filled my glass and then noticed that Manos had no glass. She just said: “No glass.” and she left. No glass was produced until after 10 minutes since we asked for one. We had a tasty Coquilles St. Jacques followed by Cajun Fish. The total damage was $80 USD.

At the dinghy dock the same man came to help us. His help was so good that Manos ended up in the water, wallet and all. After Manos got out of the water and while he was still dripping our “dinghy watcher” had the audacity of asking for an additional $10 ECD tip. We were not amused! Failing to get his extra tip he offered to bring us, in the morning, a freshly baked loaf of bread for the trivial sum of $20 ECD, paid in advance. We told him off. Other than that, it was a gorgeous evening with the steep Pitons illuminated by the full moon.

Friday February 25, 2005 Day 49

Waterfalls near Soufriere We decided, considering that Manos will be departing on Sunday and that none of my family will be joining me here, that Thetis should proceed tomorrow to Martinique and make arrangements for her long stay there until her transport back to the Aegean in June. But today was dedicated to sightseeing. Yesterday we made arrangements to take a taxi, for $80 USD, and visit the waterfalls, the volcano, and the botanical gardens. Then, in the afternoon, we would sail to Rodney Bay at the NW end of the island.

Eddie, the water taxi operator with whom we had made the arrangements, arrived with his boat at 8 AM as we had agreed. We locked Thetis and stepped into the water taxi. He took us ashore and guided us to a blue van. We were surprised because we expected a regular taxi but Eddie assured us that despite the size of the car we were on an exclusive tour, just Manos and I, and that all expenses would be covered by our agreed price of $80 USD.

The van took us to the waterfalls’ parking area. We walked the path down to the falls. While we enjoyed the walk through the thick rainforest, the actual falls were not very impressive. When we climbed back to the parking lot the van was gone. The attendant asked us to pay him the entrance fee of $2 ECD per person. Having no choice, we paid him and waited for the taxi. The park attendant and another very handsome young man kept asking us to pay them $50 ECD to climb up a coconut tree and cut coconuts for us. We declined. Finally, about ¾ hour later, a red van, not the original blue van, came for us.

Do you want Coconuts Boss?
Do you want Coconuts Boss?
Courtesy of Manos Castrinakis

Volcano near Soufriere We were then driven to the volcano park. Here we had to pay another entrance fee, $7 ECD per person, and wait for the guide. Soon we were introduced to Angel, our guide. She is a lovely and pleasantly plump young lady of 22. The original blue van appeared, inhabited by a large French family. We and Angel were told to enter. It was a squeeze. We were driven through the park to the volcano crater. There were a lot of sulfur deposits, hydrogen sulfide fumes, and a phenomenon that I have never seen before: pools of boiling black water, a real witches’ brew. As Angel explained, sea water seeps into the volcano. Then the water, mixed with carbon and other minerals, boils and bubbles out from fissures in the crater. It is quite impressive. We all walked back to the park’s entrance where we had to wait for more than half an hour while the French family made their souvenir purchases. Angel not only gave us a knowledgeable tour but she was the only St. Lucian we had encountered so far who did not ask for a tip. I gave her a $3 USD tip which surprised her but pleased her.

Flower We were stuffed into the van and driven to the Diamond Botanical Garden. This was the best part of the tour. There was a fantastic collection of exotic flowers and a waterfall. We took lots of pictures. Then we had another wait for the French family to finish their swim in the falls and to do some more shopping. Back in Soufriere we had to wait some more, this time for Eddie and his water taxi. Eventually we got back in Thetis. Manos paid Eddie the agreed upon sum. But Eddie was not satisfied; he demanded an extra $10 “for good service.” All the years that I have known Manos I have never seen him lose his temper, but now he did. He explained to Eddie that the service was not “good,” nor was it exclusive. We did not have a taxi at our disposal, we had to spend half of the morning waiting. On top of that we were charged admission fees. Eddie left in huff.

Flower
Flower

We had lunch and then checked our e-mail with the GPRS. My brother Nikos had sent me the name and telephone number of the Kiriakoulis manager in Martinique. Kiriakoulis is a well known Greek company and it operates a charter fleet of 35 boats, one of the largest in the region, out of the Cul-de-Sac du Marin marina. While it is a rival company of Vernicos Yachts, which was founded more than 30 years ago by George Vernicos and my brother Nikos, the two companies have cordial relations. Nikos had spoken back in Greece to Mr. Fanis Kiriakoulis, who had already heard that there were two crazy Greeks with a small sailboat sailing from Greece to the Caribbean. What he did not know was that one crazy Greek was Nikos’ brother. Of course his company will do everything possible to help me and will look after Thetis while she is laid over in Martinique.

Marigot Bay We departed from Soufriere at 1400. The wind was variable, 5-12 knots NE, a headwind. We kept the tent over the cockpit and opened the headsail. But everytime we got going the wind either died or changed direction. So, we mostly motored. At 1530 we entered Marigot Bay [13° 58' N 61° 01.6' W]. This is a lovely landlocked anchorage; like Soufriere, it is a sea park. Anchoring is not allowed but laid moorings are provided. As soon as we entered the bay we were hit by a strong squall with violent rain. It was very hard to take pictures. We stopped and waited for the squall to go away before proceeding to Rodney Bay at the NW end of the island.

We arrived in Rodney Bay at 1745 after 18.2 nM. We anchored in 6 m in front of Pigeon Island [14° 05.4' N 60° 52.1' W] and let out 55 m of chain because it was quite gusty. Soon after, the sun set and darkness came rather fast as it does in tropics. We could hear lots of music from a distance. Here things were quiet.

After showers we went ashore with the dinghy to the Jambe de Bois (Wooden Leg), a small restaurant/art gallery which is operated within the Pigeon Island park by an expatriate British lady. It is a very pleasant place and we had a very good meal for about $60 ECD. This was Manos’ last night on this trip.

Pigeon Island
Pigeon Island

Saturday February 26, 2005 Day 50

Rodney Bay Today Manos departs from Thetis. After coffee we raised the anchor and motored slowly, towing the dinghy with the outboard still on it, closer to the channel entrance. Rodney Bay consists of a large bay. On the E side of the bay there is a narrow channel which leads to an inner lagoon. Within the lagoon is the Rodney Bay Marina [14°04’ N 60º 57’ W], the largest in St. Lucia. Since I did not want to enter the lagoon, we anchored close to the channel. We then went to the marina with the dinghy. First we went to the Customs office to clear Thetis out of St. Lucia. It was a good thing that both of us went there because it turned out that since Manos was going to spend a night in St. Lucia and not onboard Thetis he needed a stamp on his passport. After we finished with the formalities we went to the Concierge office within the marina. There an attractive young lady, for a nominal fee, made a few phone calls and booked Manos at a local hotel. Having taken care of these errands we went back to Thetis.

While Manos packed I put up the tent because the day was getting very hot. We loaded Manos’ belongings into the dinghy and took them to the marina’s dock. Our plan was to leave Manos’ bags at the Concierge and have lunch, but we had ran out of local money. To our frustration there was a very long line at the bank so the lunch plans had to be scrapped because I wanted to reach Martinique before dusk. We said our goodbyes at the dock and I returned to Thetis to prepare for departure.

I spoke on the GSM phone with Mr. Yiannis Mpalikos, the manager of Kiriakoulis Charters in Martinique. He will speak with the manager of the Marin Marina and he hopes to reserve a berth for Thetis near the Kiriakoulis berths, which would make it easier for his staff to look after Thetis. He asked me to call him again when approaching Marin Bay. I raised the outboard and mounted it on its bracket on Thetis but I had decided to tow the dinghy so I just secured it. I removed the tent and uncovered the mainsail. These tasks I did with frequent jumps into the water to cool off. Raising and securing the outboard all by myself was hard because Thetis was rocking violently from the wakes of the numerous jet-skis.

By 1335 the anchor was up and we were on our way. I raised the mainsail and set it at the first reef. The wind was 15-25 knots NE, a close beat. After I opened about 40% of the headsail we were doing 7.5-8 knots. This was a very exciting sail, in fact it was one of the best sails I have ever had. While under way I tried to make coffee but ran out of gas. The gas canister is under the sail locker. Changing it with the large waves and the fast sail was quite a challenge but with perseverance I eventually did make my coffee.

Map of Martinique
Cul-de-Sac du Marin

When we were near Cul-de-Sac du Marin I called Mr. Yiannis. Yes, a berth had been assigned to Thetis but all the marina attendants leave at 6 PM. If I did not make it by that time I was to moor side-to at the fuel dock. After entering the large Marin Bay, I lowered the sails and started the motor. The bay is very tricky to navigate because one must follow a channel that snakes around reefs and shallow sand bars. This channel is well marked but to make it even more challenging it uses the buoys in the American IALA B system which is the opposite of the IALA A used by the rest of the world. That is you must keep a red marker to your starboard instead of to your port.

By 1800 Thetis was docked at the fuel dock [14° 28.1' N 60° 52.1' W]. We had come 27.6 nM from Rodney Bay. The trip is over! All together we have traveled 4014 nM and 38 days at sea from Sotogrande, Spain and 5760 nM and 62 days at sea from Samos, Greece.

I spoke with an attendant. They will help me move Thetis tomorrow between 8 and 8:30 AM to her assigned berth but I can spend tonight here. Also, I can clear customs tomorrow before noon.

I made myself a celebratory ouzo and called my wife and daughters. It was too late in Greece to call my brother so I sent him an SMS. There is no GPRS signal here so e-mails are out. For dinner I walked to a restaurant and had a very good fish.

Martinique is a province of France. It is part of the French Antilles and the most northerly of the Windwards Caribbean islands. Martinique has an area of 1,128 km² and a population of 432.900. It is very mountainous and green. There are two volcanoes, the tallest Mount-Pelée is still active and on May 8 1902 it erupted destroying the then capital of the island, of St. Pierre, killing over 30,000 people.

Martinique was colonized by France in 1635 and in 1946 became a prefecture (province) of France. It is the birthplace of Empress Josephine the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Sunday February 27, 2005 Day 51

Around 0800 I had to move Thetis away from the fuel dock because other boats were lining up to refuel and the pump operator had arrived. Since the attendants who were supposed to show me to our assigned berth had not come yet, I anchored temporarily just across from the dock and called the Capitanerie on VHF channel 9. I was told that an attendant would be with me shortly. Indeed within a few minutes an English speaking attendant came with a boat and guided me to the new berth. I decided to moor bow-to since the arrangement here is to tie a long line to a mooring buoy about 25 m away. I thought that being all by myself I could control things better from the stern if I did not have to move back and forth from the cockpit to the bow. This worked very smoothly and as Thetis came slowly to a stop I went forward and handed the bow lines to the waiting attendant. Everything was nicely secured. The only problem was that the bow was some distance from the pier and getting in and out of the boat was a challenge to my 63 year old body. The electricity and water post that was perfectly aligned with Thetis’ bow did not make this any easier.

I connected the charger to the shore power but it did not work. There was no power. I took the ship’s papers to Customs. Martinique is not a country; it is a province of France, so it is part of the EU. Because Thetis is registered in Greece and I travel with a Greek passport the formalities were minimal. I just had to fill out a short form. No transit logs, no passport stamps. The whole procedure took less than 5 minutes. I then walked to the Capitanerie, the marina office. The friendly lady already knew that I planned to keep the boat here until sometime in June. She entered Thetis’ particulars into her computer and printed a bill for €630. This covers the marina fees for a 3 month stay. After charging the bill I walked to the Kiriakoulis office where I finally met Mr. Yiannis Mpalikos in person. He is a very nice man and the owner of a large and very friendly dog. He was very reassuring about the boat. However he told me to expect some difficulty in flying from here to Washington D.C. Air connections with the US are hard. He will call for me some travel agents tomorrow, Monday, because today all are shut.

First I went for a walk. Then I had lunch on board, trying to finish off perishable provisions. After that I connected the hose and thoroughly washed down the deck and cockpit.

Mangroves in Cul-de-Sac du Marin Later in the afternoon I lowered the outboard to the dinghy and went exploring out in the bay. Together with the boats in the marina there must be over a thousand boats within the bay. I even saw two other Greek flagged boats: an aluminum one and a mega yacht, Armonia. There was nobody aboard either one of them. I later learned that Armonia sailed here many months ago. Her owner left her under the care of her professional crew. The crew engaged in drug trafficking and were arrested, while the boat was confiscated. After many legal maneuvers her owner secured her release and she is about to be shipped back to Greece.

After returning to Thetis I did some rearranging of the cabins. During the trip we used the front cabin as a storage area and Manos slept in the left rear cabin. I now moved the surface items from the front cabin back to the left one.

I went for a long walk after which I had a hot shower and dinner in a nearby restaurant. In the restaurant I met an Italian who sailed here from Italy 14 years ago. He is still here, mostly chartering his boat with himself as her skipper.

Monday February 28, 2005 Day 52

I spent most of the morning in a frustrating attempt to make flight reservations to fly back to Washington, D.C. The young lady at the office spent hours on the telephone, to no avail. It seems that the travel agents here either do not answer their phones or put you on indefinite hold until the line goes dead.

On a more positive note, I tried using another AC outlet on the dock for the battery charger and this time I got power. I also visited the Dockwise Yacht Transport office and confirmed that all is well. They have received my deposit and Thetis is booked for June 21 from here to Toulon and from Toulon to Marmaris.

Not having much success reaching a travel agent, I rented a car and drove, in the afternoon, to an agent near the airport and finally made a booking. It is rather indirect; I fly from here to Guadeloupe, then to Puerto Rico, and finally to Washington, D.C. This will take almost all day Wednesday. I did enjoy driving around on this lush island.

In the evening I had an ouzo while watching the sun go down. I am not sure that I want to leave this beautiful island with its warm weather to go back to frigid D.C.

Tuesday March 1, 2005 Day 53

The Dinghy Dock
The Dinghy Dock in Marin Marina

I met Fabriche, who works for the Kiriakoulis office here and who will be taking care of Thetis while I am gone. He came aboard and I showed him around. He was very reassuring.

After Fabriche left I did a thorough cleaning of the inside of the boat. I washed all wooden surfaces with soap, vacuumed the rugs, and hosed the bathroom. I also washed the storm gear and the fender covers. I tied a second stern line to the mooring buoy and pulled the boat further away from the pier. Now I can get in and out only by using the dinghy. I sprayed Vaseline on all exposed electrical contacts.

In the afternoon, with most of the boat tasks done, I took advantage of the rented car and drove around the island. I drove to Sainte Anne and then NE. The thickness of the vegetation and the steepness of the hills are amazing. Too bad I am leaving without a chance to explore further.

The Bay of Sainte Anne
The Bay of Sainte Anne
Sainte Anne Cemetery
The Colorful Cemetery of Sainte Anne

In the evening I invited Yiannis and his family for dinner. His wife is a charming French lady and they have two lovely and lively young daughters. We all had a good time.

Back on the boat I started packing.

Wednesday March 2, 2005

Thetis moored in Martinique
Thetis moored in Martinique

Today I depart from Martinique and Thetis. I woke up at 5 AM because there were a lot of things to do before leaving. I finished packing and picked up my cabin. I disconnected the AC and reeled in the extension cord. I then took my luggage ashore with the dinghy and put them in the trunk of the rented car.

After I returned to Thetis I removed the outboard, covered it, and stowed it inside the left cabin. Then I raised the dinghy, washed it, covered it, and lashed it on deck. I also removed the second anchor, the flags, and the horseshoe lifesavers. Inside I emptied the refrigerator and washed it. I locked the sail lockers.

By 9:15 I had taken a last shower and gotten dressed for travel. I called Fabriche who came with an inflatable and took me ashore. I said goodbye to Yiannis and thanked him for his hospitality. I then drove the car to the airport, returned it and checked in.