The other day I posted about nudity while cruising, and being aware of and respecting the cultural differences of certain islands. The post gained a number of comments and in addition to that, I saw from our stats page that the link to the post was also shared on a couple of different forums. For the record, please feel free to post the link to our website on any related forums if you feel that the topic of a post fits a discussion there. Anyway, speaking of nudity/clothing and cultural differences, how’s this for an opposite approach, the Facekini, a fashion item now popular in China. I wonder what one of these would look like when worn along with a Conch Republic Bikini?
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I’ll admit it… Rebecca and I have been slacking off on our French lessons for the past couple of weeks. We were very consistent for 2 months or so, completing our lessons every day. The sessions got pretty tough though so perhaps that helped us to fall into this slump. We have still been thinking about it though and when faced with the opportunity here in Martinique, we have been doing our best to communicate in the local tongue.
One thing we have not fully been able to do it decipher the Coast Guard announcements that are routinely broadcast here only in French. It strikes us as very odd that the CG will go to the trouble to broadcast a security announcement but then do so only in French. It’s not like they don’t have someone at their office who can speak English because they do, as evidenced by the fact that they will repeat Mayday calls in both English and French. A security (Securité) broadcast is pretty important too though and it’s perplexing why they don’t consider them worthy of translation. Is that log floating out on the water only going to be a hazard to a French boat, or that navigation light that is out only going to affect local vessels? I guess we had better get back to practicing. That or get out of French waters.
We do intend to continue our travels south but unfortunately the weather isn’t really cooperating. With our next planned passage an overnighter to St. Vincent, we’d really like to have some settled weather. A forecast of twenty plus knots of wind with frequent squalls to 30-35 is not the kind of weather that makes us eager to leave our nice protected anchorage.
Not long ago I made a post on our Facebook page about the crew of the catamaran anchored in front of us who were lounging around naked on their boat. My point of the post was that it really wasn’t appropriate given that they were anchored just off the beach in Dominica, an island where public nudity is not only frowned upon but illegal. The post garnered a lot of responses and I was surprised at just how uptight some people were, with certain comments bordering on homophobic. We have no problem shedding our clothes on ZTC but are a bit more selective about when and where we do it. Not so with our neighbors here in Martinique though. No, our friends have been joking that it appears as if we’ve anchored in the middle of the nudist colony.
Amusingly to us, the 3 men on the large catamaran in front of us have no problem running around in the buff. In fact, they’ve been hard at work on their boat, polishing and scrubbing, all sans clothing, save for some rubber gloves or the occasional T-shirt. Yesterday, in fact, one of them was operating some sort of power tool while naked, an act I fail to see the wisdom in!
As if that wasn’t enough, another boat came in and anchored almost on top of us and the skipper was completely naked as he did so. While many cruisers do shed their clothing while sailing, most everyone does put them back on before making their way into an anchorage. Not this guy though. The boat anchored unnecessarily close to us but I decided to let it go, not wishing to have a French to English confrontation with the naked dude. Unfortunately, that would prove to be a mistake as some hours later, the wind shifted and that boat ended up swinging into us. We heard the noise as the hulls bumped but apparently no one on the other boat did. Reaching over and knocking on his hull, I was forced to draw the skipper up on deck anyway, sending him off to go re-anchor elsewhere in the dark. Oh yeah, he was still naked then too.
Rebecca and I are currently anchored in the well protected anchorage of Le Marin, Martinique. Not far from us are our friends John and Kathy on Oceana and Doug and Wendy on Nahanni River. I think each of them have plans to move from here to St. Lucia when the weather allows it while we intend to sail directly to St. Vincent, bypassing St. Lucia altogether. Of course, we’d like to have some settled weather for that overnight passage and from what we’ve read, that may not occur for a few days.
This is not a bad place to hang out though. As I said, the anchorage is protected, especially tucked in behind the reefs as we are now. The provisioning is also excellent. In fact, we have had friends who have sailed back and forth from St. Lucia solely to stock up their boats with food and drink. Yesterday we made trips to two full-blown grocery stores, each only steps from a dinghy dock. We will not be going hungry here, that’s for sure. Today our plan, among other chores, is to visit the local chandleries to pick up a few boat items. I’m sure we’ll have plenty to keep us busy here while we’re waiting for weather to head south, and we get to continue working on our French!
While many old school or small boat sailors are comfortable with the wind information they get from a piece of yarn tied to their rigging, ZTC came with a wind speed instrument and I like it. On our boat, and many others like it, a masthead wind transducer sends both speed and directional data to a display at our helm. Working together with an underwater speed transducer (which frequently does not work), it tells us both true and apparent wind speed and direction. The unit has served us quite well and has only stopped functioning on maybe 3 or so occasions, each for no more than a day. Why did it stop working? I never did find out. Such is the difficulty with troubleshooting an intermittent fault. I suspect the problems are caused by a loose or corroded connection at the mast step which I tend to clean up when faced with issues with the device but I never did prove that conclusively.
Anyway, before we went cruising, I read on one of the techie websites about a masthead wind unit that worked with no moving parts. That sounded like a great idea and much less fragile than the little spinning cups that most people have sitting on top of their mast. I had expected that in the 3 years that have passed that this technology would be more widely used but it doesn’t seem as if that’s the case, at least not that I have observed. Our friend Bob just posted about a similar product not too long ago so I know that the technology is still available for purchase. If I was outfitting a boat from scratch I think I’d seriously look at this. As both ZTC and the Leopard that we’ll soon be upgrading both have a normal masthead wind transducer, I think I’ll have to wait a while before I personally get to test one of these guys out.
Speaking of Leopard upgrades, we finally settled on an engine for our new tender: a Yamaha F40, 40 HP 4-stroke. Both tender and engine should be waiting for us at Budget Marine in St. Maarten when we swing through on our way to Grenada with the new boat.
Our recent trip to Fort de France, Martinique marks our third stop in that anchorage. I have never been to France but if my imagination is accurate, that Martinique city is very much like one in their faraway kinsman’s country. As Rebecca and I prepared to head to town to shop and explore, I commented to her that she seemed to be a bit dressed up for such an excursion. She replied by saying that she always feels underdressed when walking around Fort de France and to tell the truth, I can see why she would feel that way. Most everyone there looks tres chic!
One of the items that we were both shopping for in town was a new pair of sunglasses. Rebecca’s had recently broken and I left my old and cracked pair on a bus in Roseau (I swear that I did not do so on purpose just so that I would have an excuse to buy a new pair). A comfortable pair of sunglasses is a necessity here in the tropics, especially for someone like me who tends to squint even on the cloudiest day. When we first left Canada to go cruising we had onboard a box full of various pairs of sunglasses, all collected from our gym’s lost and found. That supply has all but vanished though, each pair having been lost to the rigors of our active lifestyle. Fortunately, there was no shortage of sunglasses to choose from in Fort de France. Every street corner sported a vendor with a rack of cheap ones to sell and in addition to those, several optical stores stocked all of the latest name brands. We each chose something that we felt comfortable with and our eyes are much happier because of it. They question now is who will be able to hang on to their glasses the longest, Rebecca or I. Considering that I spent a fair bit more on my pair than she did, I think we’re both really hoping that I’ll win out.
New sunglasses purchased in Fort de France. Guess what though…
this is an image taken from a previous trip to that city.
In contrast to Fort de France, we’ve spent the last couple of days in Grand Anse d’Arlets, a touristy little beach town. This morning we’ll be raising anchor to move around the corner to Le Marin, a trip of about 13 miles or so, 10 of it being dead east. Because of that last part, our plan is to depart at 6:00 AM before the trades pick up. That will hopefully make the trip a tad easier.