We took a 15nm sail up the western coast of Martinique past the
distinctive "diamond rock" that had been on our horizon these last
few days. Later we read about the rock in the local pilot guide. *Apparantly*
(although it says you won't read about this in any English history book) during
the Anglo-French wars at the beginning of the 19th century, the English wanted
to command the sea approaches to Martinique and in 1804 installed 20 sailors
and 4 cannons on Diamond Rock "transforming it into an impregnable fortress".
For 17 months it resisted all assaults and battered all French Vessels heading
to the capital Fort de France and as a result the British raised its status to
that of Naval ship; 'HMS Diamond Rock'. "According to legend the French
only managed to get the better of the English by causing several boats filled
with casks of rum to be wrecked on the islet. Dead drunk, the enemy gave up
without a fight"!!!!!!
We dropped anchor
off Petite Anse D'arlets, a much quieter anchorage than either of our previous
spots in Martinique.
Over the next few
days we rowed our dinghy ashore to land on the pier located in front of the
beautiful and distinctive church. During the paddle ashore we would get a
spectacular view of the huge pelicans that inhabit this shoreline as they dove
into the waters with an impressive splash and soared over our heads with their
gullets full of fish.
We found a little
bar on the beach to enjoy a few cold cans and watch the sun set and at the
little store where we bought fresh bread for dinner we had our first taste of
the local speciality "Accras" which are a type of fried dumpling and
On the Saturday
night as we walked back to our dinghy the doors to the church were wide open
and it seemed the whole town had turned out for mass with the sounds of worship
drifting all the way along the seafront. It was really quite magical.
Sunday we spent
most of the day on-board and ventured ashore at about 4 o'clock for our sunset
beers. The anchorage had been bustling all day with boats out of Fort de France
just along the coast and when we got ashore the atmosphere was jumping with the
beach bars playing music and everyone dancing and enjoying the beach and the
sunshine. When we rowed back to Hamble Warrior later that evening we passed a
very expensive yacht that had blue underwater lights turned on and the crew
were all swimming in the illuminated area off their bathing platform. I
commented on this to Jamie and when we got back to our boat I went to stow our
bags below but Jamie called me up on deck and to my surprise he had rigged our
powerful torch over the side of the boat and we had our very own underwater
illumination! We jumped in and enjoyed a late night swim in the warm water
surrounded by tiny fish drawn to the underwater lights. Of course Meep wanted
to get involved and ended up balancing himself right on the wind pilot to get
the best possible view of his humans and the fish!!! He takes his lifeguard
duties very seriously!!!
On Monday morning
we got up early and went ashore leaving the dinghy at the pier once again. We
walked for about half an hour to the village in the next bay along "Grand
Anse" where we snorkelled on the reef near the pier there. It was a
beautiful spot; thousands of tiny brightly-coloured fish, some shoals of larger
fish and a couple of small tuna. There was also a lobster hiding amongst the
sea grass and absolutely dozens of brightly coloured starfish which were my
favourite; and because (unlike the fish) they stayed still long enough to take
a decent photo of I now have an album-full of starfish pictures!!
As we set off
back towards Petit Anse the heavens opened and the rain absolutely belted down
for about 10 minutes. As we were fresh out of the sea we didn't bother to take
cover (although Jamie did put his t-shirt in the wet bag) we enjoyed a
fresh-water shower-off while everyone else cowered under trees and awnings
looking at us like we were mad! As we walked back we could see why the gulleys
at the sides of the road here are so deep to drain away the huge amount of
water that falls; we splashed our way along surprised at how warm the puddles
were on our feet. This really is rain but not as us Brits know it!!!!
The rain eased
before we got back to Petit Anse and we stopped to pick up some fresh bread
before un-tying our dinghy from the pier. We had just set off back to Hamble
Warrior when we got another downpour. Jamie battled on against the rain and
accompanying wind and I held a beach towel protectively over our baguette to
try and stop it getting too soggy!
Back onboard we
dried off and had a hot drink and some lunch. At half 4 we lifted the anchor
and set sail again; the skies were still grey and overcast but there was no
more rain for today.