I have been a bit too busy to make time to post (and a bit too lazy, to be honest!). We spent almost all the time since our last posting in Martinique. Which we loved. We’d probably love it even MORE if either of us spoke French. Martinique is officially categorized as an “Overseas Department of France” In France, a “Department” is roughly the equivalent of a US state. In my thinking, Martinique is MORE French that Puerto Rico is American, but a little LESS French that Hawaii is American.
But no matter the finer political divisions, the markets are loaded with delicious French food. Prices are very reasonable. The island is an agricultural powerhouse. Most of the vegetables in the local supermarket are grown on the island. Bananas and sugar cane (exclusively for rum) at the largest crops, at least of the acreage we saw. Supplies of all things European are available. For us, as visitors, the local cost of living is quite low. For the locals, saddled with the very high French taxes, the standard of living would not be very high.
The local rum is a bit different. “Normal” rum is made from molasses, a by product of making sugar. The local rum is called “Rhum Agricole” and is made from raw sugar cane juice. In multiple tastings we found it nasty, with a very off putting taste and aroma. But the locals seem to like it.
The big attraction for us was the service center that Amel Yachts maintains here. Having our boat attended to by people who are “factory trained” was a delight. They understand the systems and the way everything was designed to work. Every single part of the boat they touched they made BETTER than new because they incorporated the designed changes and ideas that have been worked out over the last 25 years. If you have an Amel, in the western hemisphere, you need to get here and turn your boat over to Alban LeRoy and his crew. It will come back to you better than you imagined it could be, and at very reasonable rates. The marina is cheap, and the skilled labor rates are the lowest we have found yet.
When we left Martinique, we sailed 18 hours south to the island of Bequia. It is a beautiful and funky place. With none of the sophistication of the French islands. We had planned to spend a week or so here exploring, but the weather has brought us up short.
We will definitely be back here, there is a lot of fun to be had.
You have to love a place that sells fuel priced in Eastern Caribbean Dollars per Imperial Gallon. Where else in the WORLD do they still use imperial gallons??? For those of you who have never run into them, an imperial gallon is 5 quarts, not 4 quarts like the US gallon. Proof that the British empire is not quite dead….yet. The Eastern Caribbean Dollar (also used in Grenada) has a fixed exchange rate with the US Dollar. One EC$ ==US$0.37 What were they thinking??? Could they POSSIBLY have chosen a less convenient exchange rate to use?
Right now there is a “tropical wave” in the middle of the Atlantic that is currently expected to become a tropical depression by the time it reaches the eastern Caribbean. Nothing particularly dangerous, but potentially very uncomfortable. Because of that, we have cut our sightseeing short, and after 24 hours we have checked back OUT of the country of “Saint Vincent and the Grenadines” and early tomorrow morning will be headed straight to the marina in Grenada that will be our home for the summer.