Martinique the sequel 14:33.251N 61:03.391W

Hamble Warrior
Jamie Hickman
Thu 27 Oct 2022 21:04

23rd May 2022

We set out from Dominica just before 3pm and once the sails were up and set we ate a late lunch of "cook-up rice". Winds were very light for much of the afternoon and progress was slow. We did keep moving though and eventually we were abeam of our friends on "Ocean Strider" who had left earlier that day and were taking an inshore route along Dominica's west coast. As day turned to night the wind died completely and we decided that to keep going we would furl the sails and put the engine on for a while until we reached the channel between the islands where we hoped to find some wind. I went below decks to make us a simple dinner of pesto pasta and while that cooked the wind filled back in and we were able to raise the sails again and turn the engine back off.

We hadn't long finished our dinner when Jamie commented that we were moving rather sluggishly - he was initially concerned there was something wrong with our instruments. As it transpired we were sailing through a huge raft of Sargassum weed of which there is now a lot in this part of the world and there was so much wrapped around the rudder of our windpilot that it was seriously impeding us. Jamie used the boat hook to clear the rudder and we were soon moving again but this was a process we needed to repeat several more times during the course of the night.

Around 10pm the wind started to increase and we reefed down the sails; both getting a good dowsing for our efforts! Looking over the stern of the boat to check for any more weed we were treated to the light-show of phosphorescence bouncing and firing in our wake.

By 2am we were in the lee of Martinique and again the winds decreased and our speed dropped accordingly.

Shortly after 4am I made us coffee and we sat enjoying it in the calm conditions of the moonlit cockpit. As we sat in silence sipping our coffee we suddenly heard a series of loud splashes. I got up and looked out over the gunwhales to see that we were surrounded on both sides by dolphins; swimming along and playing off our beam and our bow. It was a really magical moment seeing them in the moonlight escorting us along. This pod stayed with us for about half an hour but as day started break around 5 o'clock they had left us to go and attend whatever business it was that they were heading towards.

Shortly after 6am we entered the "Rade de Fort de France" and hoisted our Q-flag and French tricolor once more. I cooked us egg rolls for breakfast that we washed down with more coffee as we approached Anse Mitan once again on the southern side of the bay of Fort de France. After a 17 hour passage we finally dropped our anchor off Martinique - closely supervised by Meep - and went below to get some rest while he patrolled the decks.

At this point we are approx. 130nm from Grenada and have truly broken the back of our voyage down to the island where we planned to spend hurricane season which officially starts around June. It felt good to be within easy striking distance of the southern islands by this stage; not that we were expecting any serious weather so early in the season but it would be more relaxing not to have a lot of long passages left between us and what was deemed a relatively safe hurricane haven (by the insurance companies at least!)

The next morning we went ashore and leaving our dinghy on the little wooden pier we gazed down into the startling clear waters off the beach at Anse Mitan and saw dozens of beautiful starfish lying in the soft white sands of the seabed. We walked the short distance into the little town and the marina complex at Pointe du Bout. It was here we could check ourselves in using the little computer terminal inside the marina office and had our papers stamped by the marina official which was completely free of charge. He managed to complete his own very brief task of signing and stamping the papers without so much as an upward glance at us. It is amusing how much the checking-in process varies between islands... the contrast between this few moments spent filling out a form online and getting it stamped compared with the lengthy procedure of checking in to Antigua where you must present yourself for health clearance then on to customs; immigration and finally the port authority at a not insignificant cost; not to mention the added paperwork and costs involved in importing Meep.. Well to be honest I'll take a sulky disinterested desk clerk at no charge any day thanks!

Having cleared in we decided to treat ourselves to some lunch and celebrate our arrival back in French waters. We chose a small restaurant called Havana in the marina and had a delicious lunch and a couple of celebratory beers. On our way back home we stopped at the beach and swam in the clear beautiful waters with the starfish nestled in the sand below us - rounding off a perfect day.

25th May 2022

The following day we lifted our anchor; raised two single-reefed sails and tacked our way 3nm round the bay to Trois Islets. Here we were able to anchor in a sheltered spot tucked in amongst the mangroves and within walking distance of the 2 large supermarkets we had provisioned at previously as well as the vets.

We spent 5 days in this little spot which was ideal in so many ways although it was quite a decent row to get to the small beach in the town where we could land the dinghy but perhaps a little too close to the mangroves as we had an unwanted visitor onboard - as we consider it bad luck to speak the name of said guest we have taken to referring to them as "the Scottish play" ....anyway this particular one suddenly appeared in the cockpit and Meep immediately caught it - we prised it from him and disposed of it overboard and rewarded Meep for his efforts.. we prayed it was on its own and had flown from the mangroves and not hatched on-board. It was several weeks later having not seen another that we finally accepted this theory and relaxed a little!! We are so careful when it comes to keeping these critters off the boat... all fresh fruit and veg is stored in the cockpit and not brought below until it's time to cook it; items such as bananas are washing in seawater when they are brought aboard. We regularly wash our shoes in the sea to ensure we don't walk eggs on-board and we never ever bring cardboard onto the boat which can contain eggs. At the time of writing this we have had 3 "Scottish plays" on-board; one below and two in the cockpit with a period of many weeks between each. We are therefore hopeful that there is no infestation onboard and each of these have arrived by flying into the cockpit on still nights. Fortunately Meep is an excellent hunter and nothing bigger than a housefly lasts longer than a few moments on-board without him spotting it!!

During our stay in trois Islets we made several trips to the two big supermarkets and loaded the boat to the gunwhales with provisions to last us through hurricane season and with some luck into the south Pacific. We used our big rucksacks and folding trolley to transport dozens of tins; canned and cured meats, cheese, bottles and boxes of wine, trays of beer, huge bags of cat litter and all manner of other provisions. Our dinghy was literally loaded to capacity as we rowed back with all our goodies.

Although the little town at trois Islets was quite quiet we enjoyed a couple of drinks at the Cactus Cafe on the quayside where we chatted to a few of the locals using my limited schoolgirl French and even witnessed a Friday film night where the locals braved the rain on a wet evening to watch "I am Legend" which had been dubbed in French. I can't remember the last time I watched a dubbed film but it was pretty weird watching as Will Smith spoke perfect French whilst staring down the barrel of a gun!

On the Sunday before we departed we took a last long walk back to Anse Mitan and enjoyed another lunch at the same restaurant (Havana) that we ate in when we checked in. It was really busy everywhere and the bars and restaurants were all packed - it turned out it was Mothering Sunday and the atmosphere was lovely for it.

Monday morning was a busy one as we made our final preparations to leave. Jamie walked to check out at Marina Pointe du Bout, which was an exhausting round trip for him to get ashore and get to the marina to complete formalities and back to Warrior in time to take Meep ashore for his veterinary appointment.

So Meep had a little excursion ashore to visit the vet and get his health documentation and have his parasite treatments administered for checking him in to Grenada. We made the appointment in advance and took him ashore in his little carry case. When we arrived at the vets we were shown through to the VIP cat waiting room and then he was seen in a special consulting room used only for cats. The vet was absolutely brilliant and the idea of separate areas for cats and dogs to reduce the stress of the visit for them was absolutely fantastic. If you ever need to visit a vet in Martinique I can thoroughly recommend Julie's practice; "Madin Vets" in Trois Islets!

We returned to Hamble Warrior and got the anchor up and waved goodbye to Trois Islets as we set sail for Saint Lucia; about 30nm.

We really enjoyed our relatively brief stay back in French waters and the many French treats that we find in the local supermarkets. I also enjoyed speaking a little French again although my schoolgirl French doesn't seem to improve much however long we spend in these islands. Maybe in Polynesia I will have more luck!

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