01.11.22 - 14.11.22
We arrived into Martinique for the third time after an overnight sail from Carriacou. As the St Vincent authorities never saw fit to attend to our application to import Meep we sailed past this collection of islands once more and after a passage of approximately 32 hours we finally dropped anchor once more off Anse Mitan opposite the impressive skyline of Fort de France with Mount St Michael shrouded in clouds behind it just across the waters and near the convenience of Pointe Du Bout Marina where we could check in. We raised our tricolor and Q flag and settled in for a relaxing evening. The next day we visited the marina at Pointe du Bout and finding the office closed we asked around and discovered it was a bank holiday. With nothing else to do we treated ourselves to lunch at the Havana Restaurant that we had enjoyed on previous visits and soaked up the holiday atmosphere.
We walked back along the lovely sandy beach to the dinghy dock where once again we could stare down into the clear waters and admire the many beautiful starfish (Etoile de Mer) that are a feature of this little spot.
We stayed in Martinique for 2 weeks this time and stayed anchored off Mitan for the whole time. We noticed that a lot more businesses were open than last time we visited and that the area had the feel of a very lively and bustling holiday town with bars, Restaurants and Creperies open that had been closed down on our previous trips here. We can only really credit this to covid and assume that on previous occasions what we had seen was very much a "post-covid" town. It was lovely to experience it in all its glory this time and see it in full swing as a holiday town and weekend resort for the folk of Fort de France to visit much like Brighton is to London back home.
We spent a lot of time over these two weeks loading up the boat with provisions for our onward travels - particularly sourcing long term provisions to load the boat with for our time in the South Pacific where we expect that finding a variety of stores will be quite challenging (or impossible). We also wanted to check out some hardware stores and chandleries and in the end we decided that the most efficient way to cover the most ground in a day was to hire a car for 24 hours and go on a road trip. This proved a highly efficient use of a day and we managed to visit hardware stores, chandleries, supermarkets and even get Meep to the vet for his Rabies Titration test all within a 24 hour period... the little hire car was on its axle by the time we pulled up to the little pier where we docked our dinghy and began the hard work of loading everything into Fleur to get it all back to Warrior. In the end we managed to get everything on-board in just 2 runs but it took a lot of running back and forth to get everything from the car to the dinghy and the first dinghy ride I had to wait on the pier as there wasn't room for me with all the other stuff! Of course once everything was on-board the real fun began as we had to try and find places to stow it all!!
Our day with the car broke the back of the provisioning but we still took a few bus rides to the neighbouring Trois Islets where we did several weeks worth of laundry at the self service launderette (a real treat) and brought back several more loads of groceries. We also took the ferry across to FdF to explore the town a little on the Friday before we left. This didn't work out so well however as it was Armistice day and we didn't realise that in Martinique Armistice day is another bank holiday!! Despite the lack of businesses open we had a little wander around the town; admired the architecture and visited the beautiful war memorial before hitting the only supermarkets that were open and getting the ferry back with a meagre 12 litres of wine and 4 litres of rum!!!! Just to keep the stocks up! One of the last days before we left we took the boat round to the marina at Pointe du Bout and filled up our water tanks; we took on 500 litres which pretty much replaced what we had left Prickly Bay with 6 weeks previous. It's nice to be able to see how much water we use and how well we are now able to conserve water with our little water-saving tricks and with catching rain water to top up our tanks regularly. This is all useful knowledge for when we head into the South Pacific and will need to be truly self-sufficient on this front.
Whilst getting Hamble Warrior prepared for her onward travels one task that needed to be done was to organise the bunks (what we refer to as the 'sea berths') in the rear cabin so that we could use them for our next passage which we expected to take several days. Over the past months this cabin had been used for stowing various bits of gear and we needed to clear all of this out and make up the bunks ready to use on our night passages. We decommissioned the v-berth in the forepeak and started to use it for stowage. As I relocated items I was also tidying and cleaning along the way. One of the items that came out of the rear cabin was Meep's carry crate that was stored in 2 parts - one inside the other - with his blankets in the top. Meep often uses this to nest down in and the blankets were full of hair. I took the whole lot up into the cockpit to shake out the blankets over the side of the boat and once emptied I then set about brushing the loose hairs from inside the stacked pieces of crate... over the side of the boat... which is when the metal gate that fits to the front of the crate slid out from between the two parts of the crate... OVER THE SIDE OF THE BOAT. I was so annoyed with myself I literally screamed. Jamie had a little look under the boat with his snorkel mask but had no luck in locating the gate in over 8 metres of water. Resigned to our loss we carried on clearing out the cabin. We had picked up a couple of large conch shells whilst sailing in the Antilles and after a bit of discussion we agreed that carrying them on-board was not a particularly good idea; some authorities don't like you importing or exporting these kind of things and really they belonged in the sea anyway. With a small ceremony we launched them over the side of the boat and I made a little joke to Jamie about "offering something back to the seas" for good luck. Well it seemed to work because the next morning I woke up to find the missing gate on my pillow next to me!! Jamie had woken early and seeing the water looking so calm and clear he had gone for a snorkel to look for the gate again. Apparently it was lying right next to one of the conch shells! He fashioned himself a little tool out of a bent shackle and a bit of wire and had it up out of the water and on my pillow before he'd even made the morning tea! What a result!
Our last weekend in Martinique we visited the restaurant on the water front in the marina where we had been enjoying buying wine by the "pichet" and had a drink; we said goodbye to the cats we had befriended and bought a final baguette for our trip. Then on the morning of Monday the 14th November Jamie went to check out and we set off across the Caribbean sea towards the ABC islands with fridge; lockers and bilges all bursting with French cheese, meats, wine, rum and all manner of parts, spares and thingamebobs ready for the next stage of our adventure. Au revoir Martinique!!