Whales 0 : 1 France

Friday morning we are up with the lark and by 7.50 am we are ready to go, along with a packed lunch as we are going to be on the water for up to seven hours today. Really excited…and have snorkel gear with us just in case we get really really lucky. OK – by 9.00 I’m pretty fed up……where are they? Radioed but no answer….. Eventually they turned up just gone 9 with apologies… Oh well – at least we are still on. We climb into the boat – a 20 foot open skiff called “Terror” with two monster 200hp outboards on the back. Oh yes, did I say it was raining and the sea state was rough????

We try to get comfy but not easy when you are sitting on a metal strut that runs across the middle of the boat with no handholds or anything – so all the pressure is on your backside and legs to absorb the shocks as we travel at 30+ knots…. Exciting and scary all at the same time – I was convinced I was going to fall out a couple of times when I lost contact with the boat as we hit a wave and the whole boat took off! Anyway…. heading out to sea and Andrew gets out his hydrophone pole to listen for whale activity. We hear some clicks – but really difficult for us to decipher what it all means – and Andrew says that whales are moving away from Dominica into the Atlantic channel to Martinique.

But not really an option to follow them as the sea state is poor and the channel can be really rough at the best of times…. So we continue to move up the west coast of Dominica and stop every 30 minutes or so to listen again. Andrew spots humpback whales on the coast – although we didn’t see them – but we are actually after a particular pod of sperm whales that Andrew has studied over many years. Well….no activity this time….nor the next…. although we did see a nice pod of dolphins.

By the time we get to the top of Dominica near the Cabrits marine park we are pretty exhausted – with very very very sore bums, legs and arms from the sheer hell of the ride. Well – we turned around to return back down the coast and Andrew declares ‘no whales on the West coast today’…. so what did we want to do? By now we’d settle for a sighting – let alone snorkelling with them!!! So we headed off – at huge speed – back down to the bottom of the island and into the Atlantic channel between Dominica and Martinique. Again out comes the hydrophone…and nothing… nada…..zilch. Damn… Really really disappointed – but enough is enough – so we go back to Morphie to lick our wounds and recover from the physical demands of the day.

In the evening we popped into Westport Tavern again for our final sundowners and back on board for a quiet night – although it took us a while to track down a lift back to Morphie as both Desmond and Pancho went on the missing list…. Eventually Pancho turned up but we think he was definitely out partying somewhere – or just drinking rum! – as his boat-handling skills were definitely somewhat impaired!

Up early Saturday morning and we slipped away from Dominica before 6.30 am for the trip to Martinique. Had a fantastic fast and exciting sail – although the wind again was stronger than forecast at 23-25 knots and the sea state remained rough with 10 foot waves – but at least it was sunny again. Flying fish were everywhere – although at least none of them committed suicide by landing on us today – and we also had a dolphin visit very briefly as he jumped out alongside us. First impression of Martinique is that it is a bit spooky with the clouds hovering over the tops of the mountains – are you sure no dinosaurs still live here?

We arrived pretty tired but happy after 40 miles into St Pierre in just over six hours – but struggled to get a good set with the anchor first time in just over 30 feet of water in sea grass but we got a good one next time. When we are in deeper water I like to snorkel the anchor just to make sure – especially as there is a big drop off just beyond us. But I quickly retreated to the back of Morphie when I came across a large number of moon jelly fish. I really dislike them of all things in the ocean…and I’m sure some of our neighbours in the anchorage heard me screaming through my snorkel!!!

Too late to do customs Saturday – so yellow quarantine flag is hoisted and we are staying on board. First impression of St Pierre from the anchorage is that it is quiet and sleepy and you can see the area where the lava flow ran into the town and killed 30,000 thousand people in 1902 and sank 12 boats in the harbour when Mount Pele erupted…..

Sunday customs are shut!!! So no clearance today either…. but all the boats flying yellow flags have gone ashore so we did too… We wondered around this sleepy place – up to the fort – and into the supermarket for some fresh provisions. Interesting how the new premises have used the original ruins to build upon – and some ruins just stand there derelict. Very little English spoken here so time to break out the school girl French again! Yummmmm…back in the land of French bread and cheese! As it is Le Weekend, most places are shut. But we have found a bar with internet for sundowners – will be back on board for a quiet night soon.

Bye for now