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The islands alternate among French, British, and independent.  We have a pint Ziploc bag for each island's money so when we arrive in a different county, we have the correct currency.  In most cases, they will take American dollars, but the exchange rate is at the whim of the person you're dealing with and certainly not as good as a bank or change place or ATM.

We left Roseau just after midnight and headed into the open ocean waters between Dominica and Martinique.  The winds were 22-27, gusting to a little over 30.  It was not a smooth ride, but unlike our first foray into these waters, our speed over ground was reasonable, varying from 5-7 knots.  A few waves still broke over the boat, but with the sails reefed, we arrived at the northern anchorage of
St. Pierre, Martinique about 6:30 a.m.  What was supposed to be a sleepy anchorage was covered with masts!  As we got into the anchorage, friends on Good Company called to explain that a race around the island had put in there last night and taken over anchorage and town.  We took a nap, and by the time we awoke, all the racers were gone and the anchorage had reverted to its quaint status.

Town of St. Pierre and its Chamber of Commerce on the right

After one night at St. Pierre, we headed to Sainte Anne at the southern tip of the island, skipping the capital of Fort de France.  The wind was 3-4 and the waters calm.  We thought it would be a "walk in the park" since we were in the lee of the island and would have protection from the wind.  Wrong!  The winds kicked up from the southeast and were just  off the nose.  The island was affording little protection from the wind although the water was not as rough as the open sea.  Bob was taking a nap and I was on watch.  I noticed the sky becoming darker and more overcast, a study in grays from dirty white to dark rain-filled gray.  I woke Bob up to tell him that we were headed into foggy soup with little visibility.  We reefed the sail further just as the squall hit, battering us with huge water drops and pounding us with a sustained wind of 41, gusting up to 47.  We could see about a boat length to either side but nothing in front because of the driving rain.  After about twenty minutes, the wind died down to 20, the rain drops lessened to a drizzle, and visibility increased.  Then, we saw the racing boats coming out from Fort de France headed in our direction.  We modified our course several times in an effort to stay out of their way and not obstruct competition.  As we approached Diamond Rock, our forward progress slowed.  We noticed a current of over a knot against us.  We could almost see our destination but couldn't get there!   

Several hours later, we arrived at the scenic anchorage of
Sainte Anne, a favorite of many cruisers.  A small French resort town in the foreground, there is a good wind to keep the boat cool yet protected from waves so the boat doesn't roll.  The quaint little town has a tiny square and enough stores to provide necessities.  On Sunday, the cruisers gathered on the beach and played bocce.  Tucked into the bay is Le Marin, about a 15 minute dinghy ride away.  Le Marin has more stores and services but is certainly not as picturesque as St. Anne.  It's like living in the suburbs with the town a short distance away.

Town square
at St. Anne

Martinique being the most eastern island in the arcing chain from Florida to Venezuela, we began to head south to slightly southwest upon our departure from Saint Anne.  For the first time since we left the United States, we had the wind on the beam.  What a different feeling as the waves hit the side of the boat, tossing it around like a cork atop the waves, a rather sloppy sail. It was also the first time in a long time that we had both sails fully out and not reefed.  We've been told by several of the old timers that this year's weather was very unusual , that  the wind doesn't generally blow this strong at this time of year.

Rodney Bay, St. Lucia is a wonderful anchorage outside with a lagoon and marina inside, accessed by a dredged channel about 100 feet wide.  The absolutely strangest thing I have ever seen is a jet ski ridden by two locals crossing the wide channel leading, with a halter, a horse swimming behind them.  I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if the horse got tired of swimming.  The jet ski and the horse are typical of these islands, the blending of the old culture with the new.  You never know what you will see.

We took the local bus into the next town of Castries and walked around the open air markets.  Bob bought a stick of ground and pressed cocoa which you grate and put in hot water for cocoa tea.   It smelled good, but I'm not sure how you cook with it.  We shopped for a headphone to make calls over the internet but no luck.  While meandering the streets of the little town, I again heard hardcore country music.  We walked toward "Mansion on the Hill" being played at full volume.  There was a sign on a fence listing Country Hits Vol 12, Willie Nelson, Don Williams, and Waylon Jennings.  Another sign was for "Gosple Country Hits Vol 6."    WETHANK THEE Jim Reeves, and Who's ay God is Dead Loretta Lynn.   I felt right at home.  How many of you are old enough to remember Jim Reeves anyway?

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