Thursday, February 23
Tonight we will anchor in Saint Pierre, Martinique, as will Peter and Patti (Serendipitous). Tomorrow we’ll head farther south to Sainte Anne and meet up with Rick and Brenda (Amara). We plan to stay there for a few days and then turn back north and island-hop our way back to the BVI’s so that we arrive in plenty of time for Karen & Mark’s visit at the end of March.
Speaking of visiting — We do have extra beds, and love having people visit. If you’re interested, please let me know. Timing is a bit touchy, but there are lots of places to catch up with us and we’ll do what we have to do to meet you.
Friday, February 24 Our sail to Ste. Anne was typical – wind right on the nose – so we motor-sailed and tacked our way south. When we anchored in the outer harbor we looked around for Amara but didn’t see her. Then I got clever. I checked on our AIS* and found them in the list of boats, about a mile away. Mark and I checked the charts and found that Amara was in the inner harbor, so up came our anchor and away we went. We found a great place to drop the anchor near them and relaxed for a while before heading into town to immigration and for a brief walk around. After our initial tour we returned to Roxy and found that Brenda, Rick, and his sister Katherine had returned to Amara. We stopped for a chat and a rum punch before returning home for dinner and bed. Another sweet day.
*AIS is a communication program that runs on GPS and alerts you to approaching boats, including how close you are going to come to each other and if a collision is possible (and when!). Ours also serves as an anchor watch, alerting us if our anchor drags, and will identify other boats in the anchorage or immediate vicinity.
Saturday, February 25 Rick and Brenda have rented a car. Today we planned to do an extensive tour of rum distilleries, but it didn’t quite work out that way. We left bright and early (well, 9:00) and headed to the north east corner of Martinique (we are anchored in the south west corner) where there are 2 or 3 distilleries and the ruins of a sugar plantation. We spent about 2 hours exploring the remains of the plantation including the main house, the distillery, the sugar refinery, and the remains of the loading dock. As in other ruins, the slave quarters aren’t still there – they were made of such temporary material (mud & sticks) that nothing remains of them. We finally got to the first distillery and discovered that it was closed. Now was 12:30 and we are getting hungry. So we drive around toward the next distillery and find a place to eat lunch. We finally go to the distillery and, for some reason, tour it before we go to the tasting room (mixed up priorities). I was really unimpressed with the rums but we bought a 3 liter BOX of rum for 30 €. By the time we were done with this distillery, it was almost 4:00 and we had an hour drive back to town, so we didn’t get to the third distillery. 🙁 Oh well, I have rum on the boat.
Sunday, February 26 Today we went for a really nice walk with Rick, Brenda, and Katherine. After about 45 minutes I said that my knee was bothering me and I was done, and I’d be happy to wait at the car while the rest finished their trek. Katherine was really happy to join me, so the two of us walked back and had a lovely time waiting on the beach for the others. Finally we decided that they should be back soon and found a picnic table to claim. No sooner had we done that then they show us and tell us that they’d been sitting at a bar for the last hour. Here we thought they must be exhausted but no, they were drinking. Pooh.
Back at the boat it suddenly occurred to me that Peter & Patti on Serendipitous were coming down to Ste. Anne, so I hailed them on the radio. They were indeed here, but in the outer harbor. We invited them to join us in the safety and calm of the inner harbor but it was getting dark and they had had a few failures on their way south, so they opted to stay put, at least for the night.
Monday, February 27 Met up with Amara and Serendipitous for lunch at a fun restaurant, Zanzibar, which (you might guess) is Moroccan. Good food + fun people = a great time.
Tuesday, February 28 Marci Gras!! Amara is on her way south but Serendipitous is still here, so let the party continue. On our way into town to meet up with Peter and Patti our outboard quit (again). A very nice stranger (I wish we’d gotten his name & his boat’s name) towed us into the dingy dock and Mark “fiddled” with it for a while and got it to where he thought it would work. So meet up we did and after breakfast we checked the sail lofts for some materials and repair, only to discover they were closed for Carnival. So we decided to dingy across the bay to another shop and the grocery store, but we didn’t really trust our motor, so P&P followed us in case we got stuck. We discovered that it worked with the cover off, but not with the cover on.
After our shopping excursion we made it back to Roxy, again with Peter & Patti following us, and Mark ripped apart the outboard. He discovered the problem was with the secondary fuel pump (I’m so proud that I remember that – even if I don’t really understand what it does) and was in the middle of “rebuilding” it with totally foreign materials when he remembered that Dave Shumski had brought us a repair kit. Mark located it and “TA-DA” it has the broken part!
Now we should be safe to go into town for the celebrations, however, we are sticks-in-the-mud. Our anchorage is so well protected because, while we are in 20 feet of water, there are shoals and reefs all around us, so we don’t risk being in town after dark. So we listened to the pulsating music from Roxy and danced on our own.
Saturday, March 4 Well, we had planned to be gone from Martinique by now, heading back north to meet Karen and Mark in the BVI’s at the end of the month, but the wind has been so strong for so long that the waves and swell are so high that the trip would be miserable. How long can the wind blow in one miserable direction at 20 – 30 knots? And all Chris the wind guy will say is “indefinitely”. It’s not that Martinique isn’t wonderful, we are having a great time, but honestly, I’m worried about getting back north. I know we can do it in 2 days, 3 if we stop and rest, so I keep telling myself it will be okay, but STOP ALREADY!
Oh well, as long as we are stuck here, we might as well enjoy, right? So today I’m getting my hair done. This is a true act of faith. The woman doing my hair speaks even less English than I do French. I went through our book French for Cruisers. It has all sorts of help for you if your sails need repair, if your transmission blows, or you want to go out for dinner, but for important things like coiffure? Not a word. And then I realize that mine is the only white face in the whole salon, which is (I think) unusual in Martinique which is a pretty integrated society.
Getting my hair done anywhere on this trip takes trust on all sides. I have no history with any of the salon people and no idea of what they do. I can only trust them (and remind myself that hair grows back). They don’t know me or how I want my hair done, they can only do what they know how to do and hope that I’ll be happy.
We also have ordered fabric to make a replacement for our bimini sunshade. It was supposed to be here yesterday, but didn’t make it on the boat, so now it is due on Monday. Now we are wondering if we can have the guy make the shade for us, instead of me doing it. I bet he’d do a better job.
Saturday, March 11
Today we had a “bread tasting”. The bread here is amazing (after all, Martinique is French territory). How is it that an amazing baguette here costs 1€ but something not as good costs $3.00 in the U.S.? However, if you go into a boulongerie (bread bakery) there are four or five kinds of baguettes and another three or four kinds of “bread”. I have been trying to figure out the difference between the different varieties but, with the exception of the butter bread, have been unable to distinguish them. Today we bought four kinds of baguettes. “Normal”, “le Vain”, “Complet”, and “Campagne” We enlisted the assistance of Patti and Peter, as well as Bill and Lori from Toodle-oo, and had an extensive comparison test. Of course there were condiments; French butter, pate, and cheeses, as well as wine, but our unbiased taste test revealed that the Campagne and Complet were darker (as in whole grain) and the Normal and le Vain were whiter, but other than that, they were all wonderful. Our advice to you is; if you are in a true boulongerie and are faced with the decision as to which kind of bread to buy, follow your whimsy, you can’t go wrong.
Tomorrow we are off for less-southerly-islands. The fabric for the bimini came in and the new bimini is beautiful. The wind is down from 30 knots to 12, and by tomorrow the seas should have settled a bit also. We won’t have time to explore a lot of islands on our way north, but we might get a couple of days on Anguilla.