Rather than make the 110 nautical mile trip all at once, we decided to break it up into three relatively easy short hops. From our current anchorage in Saint Anne we would travel 33nm to Anse Turin located on the northwest side of Martinique. The next day was 56nm to Portsmouth, Dominica. Portsmouth is a large deep bay with a number of moorings that you can purchase for the night. We had been to Portsmouth on our way south and knew it would be an easy in/out stop for the last leg of our trip. In the morning we took off and did the last 21nm to Terre-de-Haut, Les Saints. Keep in mind we usually average 6 knots per hour so a 56nm trip takes 9 hours.
Iles Des Saintes (Islands of the Saints) is a volcanic archipelago fully encircled by shallow reefs. It is composed of two very mountainous inhabited islands, Terre-de-Haut and Terre-de-Bas and six other uninhabited islets. Iles Des Saintes is an overseas department of France. The posts featured image is of the anchorage taken from the mountain top at Fort Napoleon.
We arrived at the Terre-de-Haut anchorage of Le Bourg at around 9:30am as scheduled. We try and make any new anchorage between 9:30 and 12:00. This gives us a better change of finding a mooring or good spot to anchor because the yachts leaving would have already gone and new arrivals may still be traveling. As we entered the bay Renée spotted a vacant mooring and we radioed Tim on Belle Marie to take it and we would find another for 5KNOTS. We circled through the mooring field and could not find another mooring. As we were planning to go to another anchorage on the neighboring island Ilet A Cabrit, Tim radioed and said we just passed one. Don’t know how we missed it, perhaps we were busy dodging the ferry that was coming into the harbor. We quickly spun around and Renée was able to grab the mooring and secure 5KNOTS. The bay is large with around 80 moorings that are available for $15 US per night. If you are unable to get a mooring, you will have to anchor behind the mooring field in 30+ feet of water. Not good for us because we only have 150 feet of rode (chain) and the minimum you should put out is 5 feet for every foot of water depth. It would have taken every bit of chain we have to make it work. On these occasions, we just anchor as best we can and wait until the next morning and grab a mooring when we see somebody leave. If you look close at this picture you can see 5KNOTS on the last row out by the large anchored schooner.
While traveling we are always getting reacquainted with fellow cruisers that we have met during this seasons travels as well as past years. Liza & Kaz on Xanadau that we met back in Grenada on the grocery bus run had arrived a few days earlier. Our other friends Jen & Mike on Sanitas that we traveled with some last season arrived a few days later. It was great seeing them again and to get caught up on their adventures.
Last year on our way south we spent some time here at Terre-de-Haut and was excited to revisit our old favorite spots and also explore other areas of the island. Our first order of business was to clear customs which is very simple here. There is a kiosk located in the Les Saints Multiservices (LSM) building and only costs a couple of Euros to clear. In addition to checkin, LMS maintains the moorings, has laundry, WiFi, drinks and you can purchase potable water for your vessel from them. Basically, everything that cruisers need.
Once clear and legal, we took off and hiked to Ft. Napoleon. As all forts in the Caribbean, this one sits high on top of the mountain overlooking the entrance to the harbor. It is only 374 feet above sea level but is one of the highest points on the island and has fantastic views from three sides to keep them safe from unwanted guests. On the way up to the fort Tim decided to move one of the casualties of the road from getting totally smashed. The fort is well preserved and has a really nice museum. These are a couple of fort pictures and Renée modeling one of the hats used by fisherman of the day.
After the hike, we decided on a late lunch/early dinner at La Fringale. Small restaurant right in the middle of town and has awesome food. If looking for a great spot to eat I suggest giving La Fringale a try. There are Iguana’s all over the island and here is a pretty good size one looking to get away. At least he didn’t wind up like his buddy that Tim removed from the road.
A little further into town is the Notre-Dame de l’Assumption (Our Lady of Assumption) Roman Catholic Church. The structure was built in the 19th century but the inspiration for it’s name dates back further than that. The parish was dedicated to the Virgin of the Assumption in honour of the French victory of 15 August 1666, against the English troops.
Over the next several days we enjoyed hiking to other parts of the island and snorkeled the reef and over a sunken ferry boat that was in the middle of our mooring field closer to shore in about 25 foot of water. Each of the Caribbean islands have their own Carnival celebration. The dates differ from island to island and it happened to be Carnival during our stay in Terre-de-Haut. We decided to stay ashore one evening and watch the parade that went through town. The music and dancing was infectious and we enjoyed the festivities. We stayed in Terre-de-Haut for a total of five days before leaving for Antigua.