Portsmouth

5th to 16th April 2019

A few more boats here (around 45 on a typical day), but still only a fraction of the numbers we saw on Martinique and St. Lucia. It’s a shame as the island is beautiful and there is a lot to do around here. Provisioning is not easy – come well prepared. The IGA seems to be in the process of closing down following the University shutting its doors; and the shopping in the area of town in the North of the bay is basic. All essentials available, but if you are used to one-stop supermarkets you’ll be disappointed.

Sunday cruisers barbeque was good fun. We met some Swedish cruisers who had been anchored next to us in Fort de France, and somewhere near by in St Pierre, and then next to us again here – they found us, funnily enough the 3 kids seem to make us recognizable. Who knew? So, chats with them and some other cruisers/charterers in between finding the kids, helping Hector settle to sleep (made more difficult by the fact the locals LOVE kids so kept popping over to say hello), eating some delicious BBQ fish/chicken, rice and salad, etc. etc. Good fun, and such a good idea of the PAYS guys to organise it – they charge ECD$50 (about £14) per adult, kids half-price and baby free (he enjoyed his free chicken) for the food, keeping an eye on all the anchored boats, rum punch, fruit juice, music etc.

We didn’t stay that long after dinner as by 9:30 Arthur and Theo were both naked and wet, after playing with some French boys and an American boy/girl (we didn’t see Arthur for quite some time after eating). Arthur ended up swimming, of course, and Theo was just splashing as he didn’t have his noodle and I didn’t fancy stripping off to help him swim. They both said they needed winter jumpers on the way back to the boat – it was 23 degrees C – ha. Kids were not fond of the local dogs trying to eat their dinner; but enjoyed themselves muchly. As did we – nice to meet fellow crazy people, and hopefully we inspired a couple of couples to take similar choices in future.

We walked most of the way up a short trail into the forest behind the town – it starts by the hospital and quickly takes you up past 100m or so in altitude. Great views over the bay and across to the other side of the headland. Considering the devastation from Hurricane Maria a couple of years ago, the town is in amazingly good shape. People take care of their homes here, it seems – some of the gardens were beautiful, and building/repair work continued apace.

Take a tour up Indian river – Albert charged us EC100 (50pp, kids free) for a 3.5 hour tour. Albert knows the difference between a parasite and an epiphyte, showed us plenty of examples of both and explained it pretty well to Theo (3). He has a hell of an eye for iguanas, and found 4 or 5 hanging around in trees which we never would have seen ourselves, even rowing slowly past as he was. Great chat about the swamp/forest and its role in the ecosystem of the island, too. Even if the kids were racing around the boat and looking for fish/crabs more than listening, they are picking up loads and Charlotte and I both learnt a lot about the local fauna and flora, as well as uses of locally grown plants and trees. Call him on VHF16 if you are in the area – there are plenty of other tour operators around, but Albert is great. The bar at the ‘end’ of the river, where it becomes too shallow to row further, is just beautiful – the kids played draughts and looked at the chess set under a canopy with some soft music and wildlife all around.

Aside from that, we were doing our normal things. Swimming, playing on the beach, some boat-schooling (Arthur is keen on writing at the moment, and maths, so we are taking advantage of that and doing some unusually formal education).