Snapshot – week 29 onboard

November 18, 2021

Reading time: 22 minutes

As promised, these will hopefully come more often… I almost feel like I should be doing one every week given how busy we are, but that would just be… a diary.

If you want to keep up with us in something more like real-time, keep an eye on our Instagram and Facebook stories. We try to share a bit of every day on there, and because we’re not famous or organised we share it as it happens.

Since the last blog…

We’re now in Guadeloupe, having covered another 150 nautical miles.

We rounded out October in Sainte Anne, with a Halloween party on the beach with friends. I managed to pull together the cheapest, simplest costumes from what we had and a few items from a variety shop. We continued to enjoy the social life with our friends aboard Turtle. We were also reunited with old friends from our early days in Bequia (Lou, Jarett, Fiona and Celeste aboard Lupin).

I finished working at last, but I’ve been so busy since I honestly wondered how I fit in 35 hours of work a week.

Very excitingly, we brought a washing machine, albeit a 3kg load semi-manual dorm-style one.

And we finally found time to repair and coachwhip (wrap) the steering wheel which was badly rusted.

Exploring by car

For two exciting days, we hired a car. Of course, sod’s law meant that fell on the All Saints’ Day celebration holidays, so many things were closed. We still got in a much-anticipated visit to Decathlon and a homewares store, the La Galleria shopping mall and the Hyper U supermarket. We also had a chance to do some touristing, with a walk around Martinique’s largest rainforest, and a visit to the Cap 110 memorial. Memorably, on our second day of having the car we arrived at the car park to find ourselves totally blocked in by a rather inconsiderate member of the church congregation. The 45-minute delay while we waited for the service to end meant we saw less than we’d hoped to.

A change in transport

We brought a stand-up paddleboard and loved it so much that we decided to sell Kevin the Kayak and buy another. By sheer coincidence, his new owners are Astrid and Laurent, aboard Isolablue. They run gourmet charters out of Bequia, and although we’ve not met before we have friends in common. We’ve been drooling over Astrid’s culinary creations on Instagram for months. We now have Pepe and Popo (fans of 90s show Eurotrash might understand why), a 10ft and 11ft paddleboard, which we can use to kayak on when we’re not brave enough to stand up.

Leaving Sainte Anne

We had one day frantically preparing the boat for sailing, then made our way up the Martinique coast, with stops in Anse d’Arlet, Cote du Lemintin (really just so we could go back to Decathlon), and Saint Pierre. It was hard to say goodbye to the Turtle gang, without knowing when we’d see them again, but we’re sure we will.

This diary starts in Saint Pierre, the northernmost anchorage in Martinique, a day after we arrived,

Sunday 7 November

After a few very busy days, it’s lovely not having an alarm or any reason to get up and move. The plan for the day, it being Sunday, is to relax. I start the day working on rebuilding my Macbook after a fresh macOS install. Colin works on preparing to route a Sea Talk 1 into his Raspberry Pi. This will collect data from our sails like wind speed and depth. I spend the rest of the morning reading and catching up on UK Drag Race.

Without really planning it, I end up waging war on a moth infestation. We’ve been noticing them for a while but only recently realised they were flour moths. Every package is wiped down, every crack bug sprayed… We’re hoping it’s the end of it.

Because of a wind change, we’re practically in the lap of a nearby boat, so we re-anchor nearby to our original spot. We weren’t in any danger of collision, it was just a little impolite to be so close. Given that most solo Frenchmen sailors tend to be mostly nude, we never want to be that close. We then cook and fill a half-baked baguette for lunch, and I finally crack open the Branston Pickle I found in Saint Lucia.

A rather big job

Because we have gusts soon and a lot of sailing planned, we decide it’s time to put up the new, unused mainsail hidden in a locker. The sail we’ve been using is the original and is fine, but it’s a little saggy which means it doesn’t always furl back into the mast well. We get the old sail down easily. It secures with a bracket at the top, feeds into a channel as it’s raised, and then is secured at the bottom. It is, however, quite a puzzle to fold, especially with only the deck as a workspace. We still manage it once we work out the best approach.

We were partway into putting up the new sail before we realise it’s the spare foresail, not the main. The lack of a roller at the foot gave it away. Being the largest sail, this is even harder to fold. We cheer ourselves up by saying that at least we’ve inspected it. When we take out the new main it’s so crisp and almost gleaming. We managed to hoist it, without too much trouble. The whole process, including folding the old sails, has taken 1.5 hours.

Floating for sunset

I feel like my “relaxed” day hasn’t quite gone as planned. My phone keeps pinging with messages, so I turn on Do Not Disturb and read for half an hour. As the sun drops, we throw Pepe and Popo into the water and set out for a little trip using the kayak paddles. At one point, we bring the paddles side-by-side, link our paddles and just lie down head to toe, floating. It’s soothing after a frantic afternoon. Then we paddle out further to sit and watch the sunset. It’s why I love kayaking – those moments, together, watching the sun go down, gently bobbed by the waves, are why we’re here. Having Mount Pele as a backdrop only makes it more special.

Back onboard, we sit down after showering and drink a Banks Beer, found in the giant Hyper U supermarket. The galley is baking hot, so we tag-team cook a fry up for dinner (rejecting some eggs which have gone mouldy on the outside). Then we watch three episodes of Big Mouth, and our customary bedtime Bobs Burgers.

Monday 8 November

We’re awake at 8, and I’m loving Mondays with no alarm. I spend some time on a little travel research, then we prepare for a day out. We’ve decided to leave Martinique tomorrow. We’re going to buddy boat with our friends Bear and Ray aboard Bluewater, and we all agree the time is nigh based on the weather. With this in mind, I pack our boat papers into my day bag so we can clear out.

We had hoped to see the Gaugin museum but my research tells me it’s closed. Instead, we walk to the zoo, only to find it also closed. We do at least meet a lovely kitty there, who appreciated the box of cat treats in my bag. The walk back gives us some great view, and we amble through town, picking up an unusual wholewheat pain au chocolate on the way.

Finding some history

We end up at the Musée Frank A. Perret which is a memorial to the victims of the 1902 eruption. Outside information boards tell us about all the wrecks in the bay, which combusted and sank during the catastrophic event. Inside, we enjoy the audio tour, learn more about the history of Saint Pierre, and see amazing relics of life before the volcano. These artefacts include items from a Glaswegian ship and a ceramic bottle fired in Portobello. This will have been made in the kilns we know well as local landmarks of the Edinburgh seaside.

After the museum, we explore the ruins of the theatre and prison. The fascinating thing about Saint Pierre is how the remaining walls of original buildings have been used in the rebuilding of the town. It’s got a very unique feel to it, and we enjoy exploring the fort quarter. At one point we look inside a disused church, which is home only to a colony of bats who have artfully pebble-dashed the walls.

Food and friends

Back in the centre of town, we find lunch upstairs in the beautiful old market building at Le Guerin. I have chicken, and Colin has pork, both creole style with rice and starchy veg. It’s good, but at €13.50 and €15, it’s on the pricy side for what we get.

We had planned to visit the pottery, but it’s closed on Mondays. Instead, we check out the art gallery and cafe. I’m delighted to get a takeaway coffee that’s actually small, how I like it. We walk around to the cafe L’Alsace a Kay to clear out of Martinique on the computer there and meet Bear and Ray as we arrive. The four of us head back to the art cafe together for a few beers and to catch up on our couple of weeks apart. I can’t resist a sundae. We all go to the supermarket together, knowing it’s our last chance for 2 days. I find it amusing that Ray’s sailing provisions include three bottles of vin rouge.

Back onboard, we prepare for a long sail tomorrow. A catamaran has come in a little too close to us, and we worry a little that he may hinder our 6am start. Dinner is fresh pasta, then we catch more Big Mouth and have an early night.

Tuesday 9 November

Our alarm goes off at 6, and we’re pulling up our anchor by 6:20. This is one of the ways we know we’ve settled into this life. We see that Bear and Ray get on their way at the same time. It’s cloudy with a little rain, and Pele is in cloud, but a bright rainbow appears to send us on our way.

We eat a PB&J on a baguette for breakfast. There’s very low wind, we have the foresail up for a while but it soon stops doing anything. Around 8am as we reach the northern tip of the coast we see dolphins between us and Bluewater. The show is closer to them than us, so we radio on VHF to make sure they saw them.

A very long sail

We get a little rain and end up wearing our raincoats which is a rare occurrence, but otherwise, it’s quite chilly. We finally get some wind at 8:45, and we go for full sails out. The rain has stopped but it’s still cold. Colin puts out the fishing line (despite my misgivings based on past trips) and bakes a loaf of bread. As we approach Dominica we lose the wind and have to put the engines back on. I make Comte, ham and pesto sandwiches for lunch.

Once we’re in the in Lee of Dominica, I start on laundry and washing up. The washing machine breaks on the second load and starts leaking. I’m tired, and frustrated. I decide to lie down at around 2pm. Colin fixes the machine, which is a huge relief given how new it is. I get the first wash hung out by the time we were entering Prince Rupert Bay in Dominica.

We’d kept close to Bear and Ray, who had been behind us for a while then caught up fast. We realise part of that is the poor set of our sails. We hang back to let them settle first before we anchor. Soon after we settle a beautiful rainbow appears – it feels fortuitous to start and end the day with a rainbow. I somehow manage a workout as the sun sets, which takes away some anger. I’m using a new personal training programme a friend has written for me. We both shower and enjoy a beer, then we have corned beef stovies for dinner (A Scottish staple). After yet more Big mouth and Bob’s Burgers, we turn in.

Wednesday 10 November 

We’re awake at 7, then laze in bed until 8. I surprise myself by doing a workout. We set off at 9am, feeling like there won’t be much wind. It actually kicks in before we leave the lee of Dominica. Bear and Ray are an hour behind us but soon catch up. This is probably because our sails aren’t in the best position. We start to make better time after some adjustments, but not before we’ve had chance to take photos of each others’ boats.

It’s a good journey, and I mostly read. I find that reading stops me from getting frustrated at the length of time some sails can take. We moor in Iles less Saintes at around 1pm. The ball is too heavy to be lifted with the boat hook, but it has a high-set hook and I realise I can just reach this lying on my front. I bruise my hips and badly bruise my upper arm on the bow roller in the process, but I get us secure.

Les Saintes

We were planning to meet Bear and Ray but the data connection is so poor that we can’t get a message to each other. We dress and go ashore to clear in at the internet cafe. We’ve just finished when Bear and Ray arrive. A queue has formed so we have a beer while we wait for their turn.

Most cafes and restaurants have closed for lunch, which is usually 13:00-15:00. A restauranteur assures us that everything will be closed, but we manage to get a light lunch at Point Cho. We have a couple of beers, and Colin and I take ice creams to go as we leave. We all visit the discount supermarket and get cheese, pate and crisps.

It’s after 5 when we get back onboard, so I read for a bit. It gets surprisingly chilly, so I appreciate the hot shower. We only have hot water on sailing days unless we chat and run the engine. Getting chilly. Dinner is a simple plate of bread, cheese and pate. It’s surprisingly early, and we have time to watch Fear the Walking Dead, The Rookie, Bobs Burgers, and the last episode of Big Mouth from the new season.

Thursday 11 November

Smallest Croissant ever

We’re awake before 7, after what felt like a poor sleep for me. I spend time reading about upcoming destinations in our cruising guide, and Colin goes to get breakfast. He returns with a baguette and the smallest croissants ever.

Our stay in Les Saintes has been brief as we’ll be back next week. We set off just after 9.

A wild ride

The wind is being difficult, coming in the wrong direction, so we try to make progress by tacking. It’s soon clear that it’s not going well. In all the stress, we go over a fishing pot but there’s no sign of damage.

A soaking

The wind and rain ramp up to the extent that we have to reef then take in foresail. It’s stressful as it’s loud and rough. The furling line seems to stop working despite the sail being mostly in. It’s cold, and I’m wrapped up in a hoodie and cagoule. Because the rest of the journey would be head to wind we take in all of the sails. The newly hoisted mainsail has a small tear neat where it’s attached at the foot of the mast despite being new. This makes it hard to put away, especially with the wind.


Tired and mentally drained, I retreat to the cabin to watch an episode of Sex and the City. Our friend Laurie, who we met when we chartered here with Dream Yacht (where she works) in 2019, is free to meet up. At half 3 we go ashore to meet her. That lack of communication has come to the fore again, and it turns out she’s not ready. It means we have a little walk, and some sitting on walls.

A night out

After meeting Laurie at her home, we drive to the marina, where we have drinks at Pirate du Caribee, and dinner at Le 9, both past favourites. It’s so lively, and we’ve not been somewhere like this in months. Rows of bars and restaurants, people strolling along dressed up for a night out. If you ignored the masks as people were seated, and having your vaccination status checked, it could be pre-Covid. After a very enjoyable evening, Laurie gives us a lift back to the dinghy, and we’re back on Mirounga by 10pm. We watch a Brooklyn Nine-Nine but that’s all we can manage before nodding off.

Friday 12 November

We have a slow start, then launch into chores. The big push before having company has begun. I hem a pair of curtains (actually shower curtains) for the cross cabin. This will keep the main saloon cooler, and give some privacy for the forecabin. I started using my ‘home’ method of folding over fabric from the bottom. Unfortunately, this ended up with the visible curtain being half sheer, and half opaque. Colin suggests just straight doubling over the fabric, so I unpick my work and start again. The result is at least very pleasing.

As I sew, I take breaks to do laundry. It’s a fairly attentive process despite having a machine as you have to manually fill and drain the machine. Colin hoovers and fitted fans in both cabins. I’m still sewing when we get hungry for lunch, so Colin so goes ashore to find food while I finish. I get the first laundry load hung out then we eat sandwiches before getting back to work. It’s all hard work, but the new Taylor Swift release keeps us going.

The chores continue…

Over the afternoon I clean and organise our cabin, clean the master bathroom, tidy the cross cabin, and tidy up some drawers. Colin starts to tidy the saloon, then gets distracted by fitting a new mount for the instrument panel. At one point I help with the dilemma of the unpainted sides being visible by suggesting sharpie.

By 6pm, we’re exhausted. We had been expecting Laurie to come over for dinner, but she’s working and we haven’t heard from her. We shower, expecting a quiet night, then hear from her. She and her brother Remy will come over, and bring some pizza with them. We unconsciously keep tidying, listening to Britney who has just been freed from her conservatorship. I made up the beds in both spare cabins and finished tidying the saloon and galley.

Colin goes to collect Laurie and Remy at 8pm, and we enjoy a chilled out couple of hours eating and talking. It’s a subdued evening – we’re tired from housework, Laurie is tired from work, and Remy is recovering from a recent car accident and in some pain. Colin driver them back to shore at around 10pm and we collapse into bed.

Saturday 13 November

I’ll be honest, I was so busy this day I failed to keep a diary. I know we keep on cleaning and preparing the boat. I know that either on Friday or Saturday I got through a mammoth three laundry loads. And I know I barely sat down.

I somehow fitted in half an hour of reading on deck, and a workout. Dinner was definitely truffle mac and cheese accompanied by zombies…

My main memory of the day was falling asleep with a chill in the air curled up together under the duvet cover we use as a sheet. It’s something I’ve loved recently. I hated it being too hot to ever cuddle, and I feel a greater sense of contentment now. I think I’m secretly a cat, and just love cuddling up to a warm human.

And since?

We mostly haven’t stopped.

Sunday we moved the boat round to a spot closer to the marina and took down the main. We managed somehow to reward ourselves with some downtime, and Laurie came over for a couple of after-work beers.

Monday was a blur. We took the sail in for repair first thing and spent the day walking from chandlery to chandlery, back to the boat, and making repairs. We managed a successful fuel dock run but then took an hour to get the anchor set when we got back to the anchorage. The hour on the bow monitoring the anchor go up and down repeatedly was exhausting.

On Tuesday we collected and re-fit the mainsail. It was beautifully repaired. Then we collected a hire car and drove to Destreland Mall to do some shopping and provisioning. How we carried our shopping to the car is still a mystery, there was so much.

In the evening, the excitement began – we collected Colin’s brother Alastair and his wife Rose from the airport! After a drink with Laurie, we took them back to Mirounga with a couple of pizzas. This was our first time having family visit our new home. We’re now in fun mode, and after a brief visit to Point a Pitre yesterday afternoon was spent playing in the water at Le Gosier. Laurie came to stay the night and brought our newest crew member – Daphne the Duck.

We’re heading to Les Saintes today, then on up the west coast of Basse Terre. It’s going to be exciting, and tiring, and new, and hopefully full of joy. Expect more frequent diaries if I have time to write them!