Grand Anse d'Arlet, Martinique
Position: 14:29.26N 61:04.95W
Date: Saturday 30th March 2013
The knee seemed to be improving and we were both more than ready to move on, so we decided to sail over to Martinique, and join Peter & Petra who were also planning to sail over there as well. We sailed about 25 miles, and had reasonably good winds. It was a little squally and there was some rain but it was just so good to be sailing again.
We had arranged to meet in a place called Anse d’Arlet and Peter & Petra had left a short while before us. We could see their AIS signal on our chart plotter so we knew exactly where to head for. We tied up to a mooring buoy in the bay (there was a delightful absence of boat boys or any of the hassle we had had to put up with on islands further south) and went ashore in the dinghy to check in. But there was nowhere to do this. After talking to a couple of locals it became clear where we had gone wrong. There are not one but two Anses d’Arlet. They are right next door to each other but we had gone to the wrong one. So we went back to our boats, untied from the buoys and motored around the headland to the next bay, which was larger and had lots of boats in it. By the time we had found a spare buoy and tied up it was too late to go ashore to check in, so we stayed on board and went ashore in the morning.
As I have mentioned in earlier diary entries checking in to a new island is normally a real pain of a process with countless form filling and visits to customs and immigration. Well Martinique puts the others to shame. The place where check in takes place is the local café on the beach, and it is a self-service process on a computer in the corner of the café. No customs or immigration officials are anywhere to be seen. After typing in all of the requested information a page is printed and the café manager signs and stamps the form. And that is it, no writing, no fees, no overtime charges (on Easter Sunday!), no grumpy or bumptious officials, and you can have a decent cup of coffee and a croissant whilst you type away at the computer. The only problem is having to negotiate a French keyboard with some of the keys in the ‘wrong’ place. Furthermore the mooring buoys in the bay are free, so you can imagine that after the ‘delights’ of places further south we were in seventh heaven.
We spent the rest of the morning ashore. The small town is very relaxed but little more than a few houses, bars and restaurants along the strip of sand at the head of the bay. We had lunch, then went back to the boat for a swim and siesta before returning ashore in the evening for a lobster dinner.