One change we noted first is that the anchorage at the main area is now moorings only and they collect a 12 Euro fee per night. Very unusual at French islands. We have always rented the scooters and zoomed around the island for fun. And we like the fantastic views from Fort Napoleon. Unfortunately, we had cloudy skies on our planned one day stop, and the photography opportunities weren’t very spectacular. But, check out our post from the visit in 2009 for some good pics.
The motor-scooters cost twice as much (5 years ago they were 15 Euros, this time 30 for a full day rental. That’s quite a bit higher than we paid in many other countries.
We found a nice cafe in town for lunch which was run by the wife of a Gendarme (police officer). They have only been on the island a few months and she opened the cafe in January. She turned on the AC so we ate inside instead of on the street. And she cooked up some galletes and salads that were great. Finished off with some glaces (ice cream) and we were happy. We zoomed around the island some more, and did some souvenir shopping. And we got a few groceries. Then in the evening we went to a restaurant on the shore. It was the same restaurant where we ran into an American couple who turned out to be Mark and Dana from s/v Northfork who we ended up meeting many times in our travels. So, we thought it appropriate to eat there again.
Yesterday morning, I updated the Tahina Expedition map to show our route to Les Saintes from Martinique. Next I went to the customs office, which is really just a computer terminal in a cybercafe. We just love the French islands for formalities, all they want is your basic information filled out on a computer form. You don’t even have to show paperwork or your passports to an official. We just printed out the form, and the store owner verifies you filled it out and signed it and they stamp it. You’re done!
After clearing out, we dropped off the mooring and sailed 25 miles north to Pigeon Island – home to the Jacques Cousteau national park, which is a marine park. It’s one of our favorite diving locations in the Caribbean because it is protected. But, when we arrived, we couldn’t find the two designated sailboat moorings. They had been removed. So, you can’t stay at the island anymore. My long-time plans of diving off our boat and using the ROV were dashed!
We moved Tahina to the anchorage on the main island just 1 mile away. Karen was feeling tired so I got my snorkel gear and cameras and took the dinghy over to the island and checked out the sights. Still in good condition, and I saw a nice variety of fish and coral life (see underwater photos from 2009). See an underwater video with our ROV from 2009 when we ast visited here.
It’s now Wednesday and we’re leaving to sail all the way to St. Martin. We had our new propeller shipped there and we need to get it on. If we had more time, we would stop at more islands. But, to be honest we have visited all these islands multiple times, and we’re getting tired of seeing how things have deteriorated and prices have inflated. Add to that the increased crime and its a little overwhelming. I will upload a few pictures of our stops later after we get to St. Martin, which we won’t reach until tomorrow. It’s about 150 miles away.