Mardi Gras, Heinekens, and El Raton

Having never gone to the USA/New Orleans traditional Mardi Gras, we made sure we saw one down here in the Caribbean!

Wikipedia says Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday, reflecting the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season. In Martinique this tradition is a biggy. It may be about food but that certainly wasn’t the focus! Everyone dresses up and if you can imagine Halloween being practiced for 4 days you are close. Except that the music is loud with a rhythmic pounding and it’s mostly adults and the costumes on certain days have a color theme.  Red, Black, White and Gold, and Rastafarian were popular.


Paula and Janet Heineken arrived in the midst so we all dressed up and took part one night. On our way back to the boat we noticed a circle of locals with music and chanting going on in the park. On further inspection we saw two not very young women doing a form of martial arts that was part of their heritage. Since none of us speak French we could not ask but clearly it was observed with quiet respect while the drummer and chanter made the noise. During every dance/fight, the fighters would pay homage to the drummer, almost as if they were getting power from the drum beat. We felt it too.


A solid week of fun with the Heinekens while coincidently the Heineken regatta was going on in St Martin. We visited Dominica and finished in Martinique before sending them back home to San Fran.

Eric and I waited out the blustery week and then sailed north to Jacques Cousteau’s nature conservancy where turtles were abundant. From there we headed up to Deshais  (pronounced Day Ay) for one last yummy French meal, and then a 200 mile sail to St Croix under full moon and mostly clear skies. We visited Seamus Huolihan who owns a  new Gun Boat 55 named Thirst, met his brother John who lives high on the hill, and then sailed back to St Thomas.

St Thomas feels like our home away from home. Friends and a yacht club that is warm and welcoming, plus a sweet cove to swim and hang out in while we do our normal and sometimes not so normal maintenance.

As for El Raton, after 2 years of enjoying him, we knew at his ripe old age of 17 we should look at replacing him. We think we found him a good home and are excited about not having to pump up the tubes everyday. Funny thing happened today tho. When Eric tried to sneak off the back of the boat without waking me so he could work on the new Raton at the beach, he let go of El Gato and drifted back. That’s one of my only rules. Never let go of the boat or dock without having the engine on first. The ONE time you do it won’t start. And that’s exactly what happened. We think the engine was afraid we were selling it too. But turns out it just needed some new spark plugs. And yes, Eric made it back to the boat no problem. The wind was not up yet.

Internet is ALWAYS a challenge!
I wanted to add my iPhone photos of Raton and Thirst but alas, no can do.

Stay tuned!


One thought on “Mardi Gras, Heinekens, and El Raton”

  1. Hi Annie, I loved reading of the loud rhythmic pounding music, bright colours and adults playing dress up. Your photos were perfect for my morning cup of coffee. My favourite story by far was Eric’s fail to keep connected to Raton when sneaking off in the morning. To err is to be human.
    Keep up keeping us connected – great blog
    Love Reet and Gaz xxx


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