We have visited tiny islands like Petit Tabac, where Captain Sparrow is stranded with Elisabeth and sees his secret underground rum stash being blown up. Prominent and big islands like Guadeloupe and St. Vincent we do not visit for lack of time. Overall there is not enough time per island and we would have liked to stay longer in many places. But Panama and the Pacific are calling and it is still a long ways. The cyclone-free season starts in April.
Highlights were the two strenuous but spectacular hikes up to volcano Mont Pelée on Martinique and to the Boiling Lake on Dominica. 600 to 800m altitude change (2000 to 2500ft) are not much for an Alpine hiker. But on a tropical island where the sun burns down and the thermometer climbs above 30 C (90 F) I have to with to slo-mo and transpiration mode…
In the Caribbean you get a frequent chance to test your patience. Clearing in and out of every islands which is usually also its own country can be tedious. Many forms with always the same information must be filled in, given to customs, immigration, and port police and fees are due in a total of three different currencies throughout the Caribbean. On some islands data can be entered electronically now. But user friendly is not the first adjective that comes to mind. Praised be the old paper forms!
My crew for this leg consists of two Dutch couples who are friends. In addition to the normal luggage they bring a total of six surf boards, kite surf gear, and did I mention, a tent as well?! Surprisingly it all fits somewhere and all enjoy sailing - as long as we stop for surfing often…
On Dominica and St. Martin the traces of destruction brought by hurricanes Maria and Irma a couple of years ago are still very visible. Still, it is astonishing how much has been rebuilt after this total destruction within four (!) hours. On Dominica the forest has a strange look. The surviving tree trunks look much like asparagus, green with leaves but without any branches!
On Martinique all damage has been repaired and debris cleared completely. It seems it pays to be part of a larger country. Which supports its remote regions, aka former colonies and tourist destinations generously. And where aid money arrives where it is supposed to, one might add.
On St. Martin I am able to take care of a few boat projects. The new doppler radar has finally arrived and works great! It shows approaching objects in red, objects distancing themselves in green. Lagoon Marina consists of a single dock with a friendly bistro, great food and live music. All rather expensive but a welcome European, hence familiar, diversion. My Dutch crew is disembarking and my cousin Andrea and daughter Tara are joining me for the trip to Los Roques, Venezuela and the ABC islands.