Our next trip was from Surinam to Grenada which was 472 nm (850 kms) but we changed our plans when we were halfway because the wind direction was not suitable for the route. So, after 3 1/2 days we ended up in Barbados instead.
We anchored in the bay of Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados. At the beachfront are two prominent hotel resorts the Radisson and the Hilton. The beachfront is powder white and wide and the water was warm (30 degrees) and clear turquoise. So, the first thing we did was take a dip in the water.
We were supposed to clear in right away but since we heard from a neighboring boat that the authorities were difficult, corrupt and asked for bottles of wine and 50 US$, we decided to take our chances and not clear in. Our experience so far was that the authorities never check a boat if they have cleared in or not. So, for two days we were illegally staying in Barbados.
The beachfront is clean and beautiful but the main street behind the beach was not what we expected at all. The houses were small and dilapidated and the cars on the street were also old. Not really the glamorous Barbados that we expected. As we approached the town center, the “poor” scenery changed and we saw renovated colonial buildings and a lot of expensive jewelry stores. Only the town center (where the cruise ships dock) was clean and maintained. Everything was expensive for example when we went to the supermarket a bag of potato chips was 6 US$!! We wondered how the locals could afford this. A glass of beer at the waterfront was 5 US$ which we refused to pay so we walked 100 meters out of the town center to a local dilapidated bar where we paid only 1,50 US$ for a bottle of beer 😊.
We noticed that our solar panels were not powerful enough to charge our batteries fully and since we haven’t connected to 220 v electricity in 5 days, the batteries were very low. We had to turn on the engine for several hours to charge the batteries. So, for our next stop we had to go to a marina where we could connect to 220 v. We also decided to buy a small generator to solve this problem in the future.
Le Marin has the largest marina in Martinique so we decided to go there. We found a store that sold generators so we bought a 1 kilowatt generator. The salesman even gave us a discount when we asked for it.
The surroundings of Martinique are mountainous and very green. We understand why it is so green because it rains a few times a day. The old town center of Le Marin is worn down and a lot of businesses are permanently closed. The economy of this quiet town thrives on the marina with hundreds of the charter boats. The busiest and newer restaurants and stores are all on the waterfront facing the marina.
We then sailed to the small town of St. Anne which was 2 n.m. from Le Marin. When we were anchored in St. Anne, Erwin tested the generator but it didn’t work! We found out that the 1 kilowatt was not enough and we needed to buy a bigger one. So, we went back to Le Marin to exchange it for a 2 kilowatt. The salesman we spoke to earlier was not there but instead there was a very unsympathetic sales lady. When we asked her for the same discount she refused so we told her we would return the small generator instead and would like a refund. She said that was not possible because there was nothing wrong with the generator. She was very inflexible and actually quite rude. Erwin told her that it is a European law that you can return goods within 8 days and since Martinique is a part of France they would have to abide by this law. Anyway, unwillingly she finally agreed to give us the discount. So now, our energy problem has been solved.
We went back to St. Anne where we anchored. When we were at the dinghy pontoon a Canadian couple Fay and Mike approached us and asked if we were interested in a Suzuki propeller because they had two spare ones they did not need anymore. Since a spare propeller can be handy and they were selling it for a bargain price we decided to go to their boat that evening to check it out. They were kind enough to invite us for a drink aboard their catamaran and when it got late they invited us to stay for dinner. We had a lovely evening and we also got a lot of useful cruising tips and information from them.
The next days we sailed to the picturesque town of Anses de Arlet and our last stop in Martinique was in St. Pierre.