The Pointe-Á-Pitre is to Guade”loupe” You In

The Pointe-Á-Pitre is to Guade”loupe” You In

 

If I’m in the photo or the photo is really really professional, then the photography credit goes to Paul Woo.

 

After 7 days on the water, we settled back in readjusting our sea legs onto our first bed on land. After checking out and saying our goodbyes to our skipper-chef husband and wife team Brian and Marta, we drove an hour back to Fort-de-France.

 

 

Fun fact: our taxi driver Cedric was the exact same one who had rescued Koichi a week ago after a severely delayed flight that left Koichi with no means to call a taxi at midnight until a sympathetic local couple on the same flight assisted in finding and calling up Cedric.

Then the serendipities kept coming: just as Kimmy remembered she had left her North Face jacket back at Simon hotel where we stayed at a week prior, Paul also recalled he had accidentally left his cell phone in the taxi that Cedric’s mother was driving and thus compelling her to come back to the airport anyway. Then taking advantage of the drop-off for Paul’s phone, Kimmy and I also made a roundtrip retrieval mission for her jacket, which still somehow left us plenty of time for our afternoon 45 minute Air France flight to Guadeloupe.

 

 

Also known as “Butterfly Island” due to its geographic shape, Guadeloupe made for a quick entry with a cursory glance at our vaccine cards when we landed at 3:30pm at Pointe-à-Pitre. We then hailed a 30 euro taxi ride into the city and settled in at our charming Airbnb Appart Coeur de Rhum before exploring the town at sunset.

 

 

The town center begins at Place de la Victoire:

 

 

Mémorial ACTe, the largest memorial to enslaved people in the world is here, is located about a 10 minute walk south from the town center:

 

 

We then walked around town, the most other central spot being St. Peter and St. Paul Cathedral:

 

 

Nearby enjoy the brutalist distinct architecture of Hotel De Ville:

 

 

Across the street is a fascinating art complex Awtis An Resistans.

 

 

 

We then tried to find whatever street looked interesting.

 

 

…before finally finishing our tour by the Spice Market.

 

 

It was here where I had a hunch to finish our week with a Lebanese dinner at Damas Gate, taking it all in and resting up after a long week on water. We even invited The Yacht Week resident DJ Alex EBS to join us for drinks, who had noticed I was wearing TYW attire at FDF airport before we flew back together to PTP. He also happens to be on our same flight out tomorrow morning to Miami!

 

 

We all just tested negative on BinaxNOW + Telehealth again so we’re heading home now. Another week of successful in the books during these crazy times.

 

 

- At time of posting in Guadeloupe, it was 24 °C - Humidity: 80% | Wind Speed: 10km/hr | Cloud Cover: sunny

 

Sainte-Anne-versary

Sainte-Anne-versary

 

If I’m in the photo or the photo is really really professional, then the photography credit goes to Paul Woo.

 

It’s our last day but that doesn’t mean we can’t make the most of it!

 

 

After a night off and following morning at Pigeon Island, this afternoon we would bid adieu to Saint Lucia and sail back to Martinique, reaching the town of Saint Anne.

 

 

Here we moored for an hour of diving and swimming.

 

 

Our skipper and chef’s teenage kids Bianca and Shamus then soon joined us (from their own yacht) for an early sunset dinner and ensuring their parents were safe and sound with us.

 

 

We also partook in an impromptu musical jam session with Tammy’s guitar before saying goodbye and taking our dinghy for a quick visit to the town of Saint-Anne.

 

 

After docking, we spent the evening wandering the streets with their faded colonial charm.

 

 

Tonight we toast to everlasting friendships only these kind of trip experiences can make possible.

 

 

- At time of posting in Saint Anne, it was 24 °C - Humidity: 76% | Wind Speed: 26km/hr | Cloud Cover: occasional sunshowers

 

Landed Like a Pigeon Island

Landed Like a Pigeon Island

 

 

 If I’m in the photo or the photo is really really professional, then the photography credit goes to Paul Woo.

 

 

Today we rested up at Pigeon Island, an islet located in Gros Islet in the northern region of Saint Lucia.

 

 

Once isolated from the country in the Caribbean Sea, the island was artificially joined to the western coast of mainland in 1972 by a man-made causeway built from dirt excavated to the form the Rodney Bay Marina.

 

 

After setting our floating raft in the reserve, we laid out for another night underneath the stars swapping stories in the tranquil waters. The next morning we said our first goodbye to Jeanette, who had briefly joined us for 2 days this week on the water.

 

 

We now endure these 5 hours of rough, choppy waters back to Martinique.

 

 

- At time of posting in Pigeon Island, it was 28 °C - Humidity: 75% | Wind Speed: 18km/hr | Cloud Cover: sunny

 

Find a Pot of “Marigot” At The End of the Rainbow

Find a Pot of “Marigot” At The End of the Rainbow

 

After a day by the Pitons, we set sails later in the evening for Marigot Bay, often described as ‘the most beautiful bay in the Caribbean’.

 

 

A historic landmark, Marigot Bay has been the site of a number of battles between the French and the British navies. Also known as the hurricane hole, this bay was where yachts would take shelter during a hurricane.

This is also where Jeanette, multi-monsooner of 2021 from Cyprus, The Balearic Islands, Sardinia/Corsica, etc. etc. would find a way to still fly in after a winter storm in NYC, hire a car, hop on a water taxi and find us last minute on our yacht given all our unforeseen vacancies!

We knew in the back of minds that she’d find a way when she had similarly crashed our pre-orientation 2 months ago and semi-joked she’d find a way to join our group somehow.

You shouldn’t joke about these things!

 

 

For a $72 mooring fee here, we then enjoyed all the facilities there was to offer at the Marigot Bay Beach Club:

 

 

Later the night after dinner, we returned to the resort for late night drinks with our husband-and-wife team skipper Brian and chef Marta …despite eventually being eaten alive by mosquitos.

 

 

The next morning we woke up and took it easy with some of the best massage therapy I’ve experienced abroad since the Solomon Islands. A free morning of relaxation and doing your own thing, we also ordered iced coffee by the infinity pool, sweated out our toxins at both their wet and dry saunas, and dipped into their cold plunges around the corner.

 

 

Then after a splendid Caribbean lunch by the docks, we set sail out back towards the Pitons with a double rainbow seeing us off.

 

 

Managed to reach the Pitons again just in time for sunset.

 

 

- At time of posting in Marigot Bay, it was 28 °C - Humidity: 76% | Wind Speed: 18km/hr | Cloud Cover: sunny

 

No “Soufriere”-ing By The Pitons

No “Soufriere”-ing By The Pitons

 

If I’m in the photo or the photo is really really professional, then the photography credit goes to Paul Woo.

 

 

Survivors of the reckoning.

 

 

This morning we cruised down the west coast of St Lucia towards Soufriere, home to the famous Pitons, beautiful botanical gardens, sulphur baths, and waterfalls.

 

 

It’s time to celebrate getting this far!

 

 

The crown jewel of Saint Lucia is when you watch its coastline grow dramatically to the world famous Pitons.

 

 

Photoshoot time as we moor in the waters for the night.

 

 

She may not know how to swim yet, but she does know how to SUP now!

 

 

Kimmy tried to be our instructor, but we were too busy distracted by the Pitons in the background.

 

 

Afterwards we bought lobster by local fisherman that came up to our yacht to sell live produce. We haggled them down from $40/lb to $15/lb.

 

 

Before:

 

 

After:

 

 

To what a sunset do we owe in enjoying this lobster dinner:

 

 

Then it was a night on the sea, underneath the stars, and away from civilization and COVID:

 

 

The next morning after breakfast we docked at Sugar Beach and stepped ashore for a hike. Whether with view from the top of the Pitons or at the modest falls ($3 per person), there are plenty of options to choose from to make up for the lack of exercise for the week.

 

 

Afterwards we walked onwards towards the town of Soufiere where our yacht and skipper would pick us up.

 

 

The town itself is small enough that you can walk all of it end to end in 10 minutes.

 

 

After a quick lunch at Bellview and then provisional shopping at the local Massy’s . . .

 

 

. . . we headed onwards towards Marigot Bay.

Just don’t forget to come back here for more photos by sunset the next day:

 

 

Nature just got served.

 

 

Or simply great to pose with:

 

 

- At time of posting in Pitons, it was 27 °C - Humidity: 11% | Wind Speed: 34km/hr | Cloud Cover: sunny

 

Saint Lu”cia-l Away” to Rodney Bay

Saint Lu”cia-l Away” to Rodney Bay

 

If I’m in the photo or the photo is really really professional, then the photography credit goes to Paul Woo.

Despite the shenanigans of our comedy of errors of traveling in the middle of Omicron, we still woke up to beautiful mornings. Even Umbi, who continues to test negative but cannot sail with us due to his prior exposure risk, came by to quickly say hi.

 

 

And lo and behold, our intended replacement skipper, Borna, who had sailed for 24 hours from Guadeloupe to come save us would ALSO TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID.

We therefore cried to ourselves, licked our wounds and headed out for a sunset dinner at Double V. This has become a war of attrition.

 

 

At least the food was fantastic.

 

 

And so was the view:

 

 

The next morning we received the good news that our replacement skipper and chef, Brian (from Ireland!) and his wife Marta (from Brazil and Australia!) tested negative for COVID-19 and were ready to take us. We thus set sail for St Lucia in the wild open ocean.

 

 

Once underway we enjoyed the exhilarating sailing down wind to St Lucia, taking us about 3 hours before arriving into Rodney Bay in the nick of time at 3:30pm (the customs offices close at 4pm)

 

 

Once we arrived, we grabbed a coffee in Rodney bay while a local named Marcel and I took care of passport formalities at customs and Port Health next door.

 

 

After an hour of showing them our vaccine cards, copy of negative PCR results, our online QR codes showing we were cleared by their travel portals, and our passports, we received our coveted white wristbands that allowed us quarantine-free entry to the rest of the country!

 

 

 

Once we were cleared to enter Saint Lucia by sea, we docked to finally enjoy dinner and drinks.

 

 

While we saw a variety of bars, restaurants, and stores lining the marina, we elected to drive our dinghy and perform a James Bond-esque mission to retrieve provisions from a larger shopping mall across the bay at Massy Store.

 

 

Now it’s music night as we get out all our guitars and jam to the music playing in our heads and on the stereo…

 

- At time of posting in Rodney bay, it was 28 °C - Humidity: 74% | Wind Speed: 18km/hr | Cloud Cover: sunny

 

Ad-“Marin” du View

Ad-“Marin” du View

 

If I’m in the photo or the photo is really really professional, then the photography credit goes to Paul Woo.

We had expected that similar to our last time with them in Sardinia it would involve a frenzy of check-ins, security deposits, last minute provisional shopping, except this time without the 2 flash thunderstorms. Instead, we woke up this morning to something even crazier: finding out that 90% of the yacht staff would test positive for COVID-19 this morning after a trip they had sailed on the week before.

Therefore, in the best interests of everyone’s safety, a decision was made to cancel the itinerary entirely. We sadly would miss out saying hi to our friend and intended our skipper Umbi (who we were so lucky to have in Sardinia). Although he continues to test negative for COVID-19, he also did not want to take a chance to eventually test positive while sailing with us. Such professionalism. I respect that. WE STILL MISS YOU UMBI.

Especially after having our fill of Fort-de-France, we decided to reframe this unfortunate series of events with the irony of a Yacht Week trip now truly turning into a monsoon proper, where we would have no idea what the next step would be but pressing on anyway. Therefore continuing onwards without expectations, we asked our concierge at Simon Hotel to arrange a driver to take us to the marina at Marina du Marin from Fort-de-France.

And as luck will reorient itself for us, they luckily got us a wonderful driver and guide named Daniel, who after taking us to Sacré-Coeur de Balata also pulled off to the side of the road for a spontaneous jump behind the bar to serve us their local aged and white rum, complete with syrup and muddled lime.

 

 

Every travel serendipity now tastes 10 times sweeter of a victory.

 

 

Once we arrived at the marina an hour later, we were informed by the yacht staff that they actually may have found us a replacement skipper from Croatia, who just so happens to be vacationing on a nearby island and therefore did not partake in last week’s trip that got 90% of the staff positive for COVID-19. If he tests negative upon his arrival tomorrow, we may be able to salvage whatever bit of our trip that remains viable.

Umbi even left me a gift at the marina office!

 

 

After our check-in and all the logistics, we waited for our yacht to be prepared.

 

By 6:30pm the yacht was ready and we got pick our cabins onboard our newly christened yacht, Free Willy.

 

 

After settling in, we had dinner at L’Annexe for first night celebrations for getting this far despite the circumstances.

 

 

- At time of posting in Marina du Marin, it was 27 °C - Humidity: 74% | Wind Speed: 23km/hr | Cloud Cover: partly cloudy

 

Getting Out of Omicron City to Fort-de-France, Martinique

Getting Out of Omicron City to Fort-de-France, Martinique

 

If I’m in the photo or the photo is really really professional, then the photography credit goes to Paul Woo.

It’s time for another joint journey with The Yacht Week on our second collaboration together, this time for a much smaller excursion to visit Martinique and St. Lucia amidst all this craziness with Omicron.

With NYC at nearly a 1 in 3 positivity rate and CDC telling us we can go back to work after as few as 5 days from a positive COVID test, and after a week of drowning in understaffed healthcare facilities across the city due to COVID positive tests, I’ll take my 14 days of daily negative rapid antigen and PCRs as a sign to quit while I’m ahead and getting the fuck out of Omicron City.

I feel that instead of working as a glorified human testing site (since so few patients are getting sick or hospitalized due to most of NYC being vaccinated so I feel pretty useless as a doctor these days), I feel it’s safer for me and my own mental health to take a week isolating myself on a boat with other fully boosted healthcare workers who have gone through the same shit-show and rigorous negative testing requirements. The only exception in our group is one person who had tested positive at least more than 10-14 days ago before testing negative on both a rapid antigen and PCR at least 3 more times before starting this trip with us. We’re also fully boosted for an extra layer of security.

And sadly not all of us made it: I had 4 monsooners drop out at the last minute due to being unable to make these requirements. We started with 11, and we’re now down to 6. Luckily I bought G1G travel insurance for all of ourselves a week ago, so the 4 are getting 100% of their money back as COVID-19 is covered in the trip cancellation policy. I hope this is good enough…otherwise we’re all going to quit tomorrow and you’ll have no more safe or open hospitals left to keep society afloat.

Therefore, unlike our Sardinia trip which consisted of us filling 3 yachts out of 22 in the fleet, this time we kept it to filling a single yacht out of 5 total on this route.

Flying direct into Martinique from the USA is nearly impossible unless you’re lucky to get a cheap flight from Miami. Otherwise I had to finagle a hack flight path consisting of 2 separate bookings of JFK to PTP in Guadeloupe and then PTP to FDF to make the itinerary affordable (<$300).

Taking the 7:50am AF 621/Delta 8251 flight from JFK to PTP, I landed 4 hours later at 1:15pm, and then because of a last minute cancellation by Air Antilles, I instead joined Sabrina, Kimmy, and Paul in taking off again at 2:30pm for a 3:15pm arrival into FDF. Tammy and Koichi would join us later in the evening on Air Antilles and AirCaribes flights.

 

 

After arriving into Martinique, we hailed a cab for about 10 euros per person into the city center.

 

 

Settling into our lodgings within the hour at Simon Hotel by the bay, we then sauntered in an empty plaza outside. One of my favorite things in life are freedom you feel in the first few minutes of every new trip.

 

 

We then walked over 10 min into a city completely shuttered for Sunday.

 

 

We headed into town to Market Hall Fort-de-France.

 

 

Then turned back around for a visit to Schœlcher Park which faces the town’s cultural center and Court of Appeals

 

 

Nearby, don’t miss St. Louis Cathedral, built in 1895.

 

 

Nearby is the town’s prettiest structure: Bibliothèque Schœlcher, which houses the works of abolitionist Victor Schoelcher.

 

 

We then crossed into Parc La Savane for a glimpse of local living.

 

 

We then kept walking further down to enjoy music by the Malecon at sunset:

 

 

We then walked down peninsula past the park for Fort Saint-Louis: a fortress, former naval base, and now public museum originally built during the reign of Louis XIII.

 


 

Afterwards we finally had our first meal of the day at the hotel terrace restaurant where we devoured their entire menu despite missing items.

 

 

Then we took back a bottle of white wine and enjoyed a round of “We’re Not Really Strangers” before kicking off an impromptu jam session: Tammy somehow packed both a guitar and ukelele in her carry-on; she even almost brought a keyboard!

 

 

The next morning we tried to visit all of the above when everything would be open on a Monday, including the best fried fish sandwich I’ve enjoyed in recent memory. Thanks to Paul’s find, we went to find the obvious reason why: Asian.

 

 

The town is so small we didn’t mind another walk around the neighborhood:

 

 

 

After enjoying a rooftop drink, we then set off on our cab ride to the marina to be with the rest of the yacht weekers. If you have time on your drive, do a short detour for Sacré-Coeur de Balata, surrounded by cliffs north of Fort-de-France.

 

 

The views from here:

 

 

- At time of posting in Fort-de-France, it was 23 °C - Humidity: 73% | Wind Speed: 13km/hr | Cloud Cover: partly cloudy