Christmas morning Mermaid was anchored in Bequia and while sipping coffee and checking the weather for our departure on the 26th, the forecast had changed slightly and the weather for the 25th was perfect for a northerly sail. We had already checked out so we jumped into gear and got Mermaid prepped and ready for sea in record time. We were raising the anchor at 8:30 and headed out to sea. Mother Nature had a Christmas present for us it seemed. We had the most amazing sail! It’s a short hop up to St Vincent and Mermaid cruised along at 9 to 10+ knots on a beam reach. We were able to sail most of the way up the lee side of St Vincent before popping out into the channel between St Vincent and St Lucia. Our angle wasn’t quite as good but with the apparent wind just forward of the beam Mermaid blasted along at 8.5 knots. We anchored for the night in Rodney Bay near the north end of St Lucia just before dark. St Anne, Martinique was just over 20 miles to the north. Mermaid dropped the anchor in the large, protected bay off St Anne before noon the following day. St Anne is a favorite with many cruisers. The anchorage is large and very well protected. You could anchor the navy in the bay and there were hundreds of boats already there when we arrived but there was still plenty of room.
We had several of our Ocean Cruising Club friends sail in the following day in Martinique (their sail was not as epic as ours was) and the cruiser fun began again. While visiting exotic locals is great, having friends to share your experiences makes them even better. We’ve met so many sailors in the islands and many have become great friends. We enjoyed sundowners with friends on their boats and ours, took a long hike with a fun lunch in the middle and Mike made Ti Punch for all which we enjoyed on the beach. Ti Punch is a favorite French cocktail made from strong rum, a sprinkle of sugar and a squeeze of lime but Mike makes it much better. His tastes similar to a margarita and everyone seems to love it. We also had days with lots of wind and rain which meant we took a break from the fun and got lots of boat chores done. Besides the anchorage, one of the reasons that St Anne is so popular is that the town has retained it’s local character. There’s shops and restaurants that cater to visitors but there’s also many places that are favored by the locals. The Culture is Distinctly French. Even in the restaurants it’s unusual to find a waiter who speaks even basic English. It’s a place to go to kick back and immerse yourself in another culture. One of our first stops was at the boulangerie, the french bakery where we loaded up on pain chocolat and bought two baguettes. We always get two because they’re so good the first one doesn’t make it back to Mermaid. On New Year’s Eve we met a group of friends at one of our favorite spots. It’s a small bar on an ally connecting the two main streets in the town and in the evening they set up tables in the alley. If the place has a name we haven’t been able to discover it. There’s no sign except for the one advertising Lorraine, a local beer. We ordered Lorraines and acras, a French West Indies appetizer that’s somewhat like a hush puppy. It’s made from dough and a bit of fish that’s deep fried and is a perfect with a cold beer. Not wanting to stay out until midnight we decided that since we were in France we’d celebrate the new year at midnight in Paris… 7:00 local time. It was such fun and since there so many were Brits in our group we did it again at midnight London time which was 8:00 in Martinique.