About a week before Christmas, we learned that Levent was thinking of closing the restaurant for about ten days during the holidays, since his major clientele (high school students) would be staying home. We immediately suggested a sailing trip to Les Saints, the group of small islands between Dominica and Guadaloupe. Everybody raves about them, but we had passed them by during our initial travel down. They agreed. Guylaine was pleased that she would be able to explore a new place in the Caribbean. She was born in Le Marin, Martinique, but was raised in Paris, France. During the last eight years of their stay in Le Marin, after their return to Martinique, she had several sailing trips with friends, to St Vincent and Grenadines in the south, and to Dominica with us, last year, but not to Guadeloupe.
All of us were excited, and planned on starting our trip early in the morning of December 24th. The only concern was the notorious Christmas winds, although the weather had been unseasonably calm for more than ten days. The forecast for the holidays was brisk winds (mostly dark blue in the color Passage Weather charts) and low seas. No problem, we needed some wind to sail.
We did our provisioning together, and almost demolished Levent's old car in the process. On our way back from the discount stores, the engine started to billow smoke. Levent immediately stopped in the middle of the highway, and sprinkled some water on the burning exhaust insulator. We waited for Guylaine's sister-in-law to give us a ride home, leaving Levent with the car. I felt awful, and wondered if it was a bad omen for the up coming trip. We learned afterwards that Levent was able to start the car and reached home.
We planned to motor to Le Marin on the 23rd and anchor, so that Levent and Guylaine could come aboard that night, for an early take off in the morning. Poor guys, they were to work all day, close shop in the evening and come aboard in the dark.
Befor every trip, we fill our water tanks, period. Around noon on the 23rd, I was sitting at the front of Ruyam II, filling the starboard tank from the fuel dock, which is literally in the middle of the Le Marin marinas, and about the end of the channel leading there. The sea around is quite lively at all times, with the boats and dinghys whizzing by. While I was looking around, I saw one big mono-hull almost stationary beside Ruyam II, idling. I first thought that they wished to come to the fuel docķ, but realized later that they were waiting for the dockmaster Gustav for assistance. Then the name of the boat attracted my attention; Balikcil. Sounds like Turkish, but without the cedille. Lo and behold, they had the Turkish flag, as well as the insignia of ARC (ATLANTIC RALLY FOR CRUISERS between Grand Canary and St. Lucia). Wow, they obviously had crossed the Atlantic. So I hollered "hosgeldiniz - welcome" and they looked, but were too busy with their lines to pay attention. A little later Gustav came and led them to a berth around the corner from the fuel dock. So that Al was able to walk over and greet them.
That night, after Guylaine and Levent came aboard, we went to visit the trio; the owners Elif and Mustafa, and Meric, who did not make the crossing, but joined them in St Lucia before they made the passage to Le Marin. We learned that they were also thinking of travelling north, and decided to keep in touch. We gave them the name of Pancho in Rousseau, Dominica, to get help; and made our farewells, hoping to see them again.