Martinique 18-25 January

Chris & Sally Longstaff
Tue 20 Feb 2007 12:54

Next stop on our own indulgent cruise…..Martinique, and a return to French affluence. An unbelievable difference between Dominica, and an extremely developed Martinique. I can only assume a difference in investment levels (from mainland France?) (still no chicken breasts in evidence!). In St Pierre to the north we take in the atmosphere of the post 1902 earthquake in which some 30,000 died; only two survived, one in a prison cell, the other in his wine cellar. Now what’s the moral of that story !!!? The volcano is fairly impressive still, but the outline of the remaining terrain suggests an original volcano of truly impressive proportions, and dominance, over a town that simply refused to recognise the signs of imminent doom (so history tells us). Do ozone layers etc come to mind?………..We depart with the moral high-ground of a fresh wind in our non fuel consuming sails……to head south (forever south!) for a brief stop-over in a little back-water called “Trois Ilet”. Also a little “shallow water”, because we run aground. However despite the abuse of the crew the captain’s calm head (and a good blast of diesel engine) gets us free….and into a safe anchorage for the night.


Maddie has the company of another cruiser, 8 yr old, Kelsie           Diamond Rock commissioned as a ship by Nelson much to

                                                                                                 Napoleon's annoyance.


The water pump on the generator is leaking again (after somewhat makeshift repairs, as far back as Tenerife), plus a few other areas are showing some need of attention, so we head for the Marina at Le Marin.  The Marina is HQ to all the big charter companies; Sunsail, Moorings etc. Favoured vessel of the Caribbean charterer is the large Catamaran, and our arrival coincided with their departure day. The approaching channel is a long slalom between reefs, and heading up channel is like driving down the wrong side of a motorway against a fleet of oncoming carnival floats steered by merry students (all waving joyfully at our fearful attempts to both keep out of their way and off  the reefs.) Shallow draught Cats verses swing-keel Southerly in the dare-you stakes.


Once berthed we run into some serious ARC sailors (and serious drinkers!!) who we first met back in Portugal and Spain. Greetings and Atlantic tales are gleefully exchanged over large quantities of beer (older generation) and vodka (the rest). This lasts for three nights, before taking its toll on one of the older, but less experienced social imbibers (who will remain anonymousal). We retreat to Moondance while others depart north the next day to engage in racing around Antigua. Good luck to “Intemperance”!


We are berthed on what is definitely the French “live-aboard” jetty, and there is a very lively atmosphere of repair work, evening jollity, and “life on the ocean wave” (whenever they can get “nous bateau” back on the ocean) about it. Deeply regret our poor standard of social French. Still, nice atmosphere to be in, and one that gives a different perspective to being on a boat in the Caribbean (these people are in a part of France as far as they are concerned, which of course they are.)


Anyhow, what repairs can be done, are, and we are now eager to move on to St. Lucia….which we haven’t visited for almost 20 years but which has great memories for us both.