Thursday 21 February 2013

Les Saintes

Les Saintes is a small group of islands just south of Guadeloupe, too hilly and dry for sugar plantations and no need for slaves. As a result the islanders can trace their roots to the early seafaring Norman and Breton colonists and this gives the islands a distinctive European flavour. There are eight islands grouped around a lagoon, each within a mile of each other and Terre de Haut is the largest, although only 5km long and 2km wide, with the village of Bourg Des Saintes home to most of the residents. The roofs are red, the houses whitewashed and from the dinghy dock a narrow street lined with stylish boutiques works its way up the hill to the church where mass is being said on this Sunday morning in February.

Saturday 16 February 2013


We are flying down the West coast of Dominica at 9 knots in flat water in the lee of this big mountainous island. When Columbus was describing Dominica to the King of Spain he used a crumpled sheet of paper to illustrate the dramatic form of the island and as it sweeps by on our starboard beam it is easy to see why this land is so difficult to cultivate and commercialise. With only 70,000 inhabitants it is calm and peaceful, a paradise of thick rain forests, rivers and waterfalls, where trees hang heavy with fruit, and vegetables sprout by the roadside.

Friday 15 February 2013


A hundred dancers dressed provocatively in red and black burlesque, shuffle along the street, their bodies moving in perfect time to the hypnotic staccato beat of the drums. As they reach us, the procession halts but the drums beat on and the dancers continue to grind their hips on the spot, stepping from toe to toe in time as if in a trance. Then on some unseen signal and a crescendo of noise from the drums, they move off in unison down the street, bottoms twitching from side to side and the next troupe comes in to view, vying to be yet more exotic and outlandish.

Sunday 10 February 2013


There is something of a village atmosphere here. We are anchored off the little town of St Anne, on the south coast of Martinique, near the harbour of Marin. The boulangerie sells soft white baguettes, pains au chocolat and buttery croissants that melt in your mouth. Everyone speaks French, we buy camembert and we pay in Euros.