Le Marin, Martinique
Tuesday 8th February 2011
Having done the checking-out paperwork the previous day, we weighed anchor
straight after breakfast on Saturday and headed out of Rodney Bay with two
reefs in the main and the engine on. As soon as we left the relatively calm
waters of the bay we began to be tossed around by the unruly seas around the
northern end of St Lucia. We unfurled most of the yankee and set a course
for Le Marin, Martinique, but had to keep the engine on in order to maintain
the heading which was about 45 degrees off the wind and into both the
current and the swell. We decided to give it a while and if things didn't
improve we would bear away to make things more comfortable and then make up
the Easting in the lee of the land the other end. It stayed horrible for
about five miles, and then the sea began to ease and the wind freed us up
just enough to make a comfortable heading, although still close-hauled, so
we switched off the engine and sailed the rest of the 25 miles or so on one
tack straight into the mouth of Le Cul de Sac de Marin. Just around halfway
across there seemed to be a change in current and we sailed the last half at
around 7 knots, arriving just after lunch. There is an enormous anchorage
here, much of it surrounded by mangrove trees, and we dropped anchor in a
suitable spot. Although quite windy, the waters are sheltered from the
swell, so apart from some little wavelets that spring up in the gusts, it is
calm and quiet. No diveboats passing a few metres away, no jetskiers
kicking up huge wakes, no parascenders trying to join us on deck...
After such a long passage we needed a rest, so we had a late lunch and slept
the rest of the afternoon away, deciding that as we didn't intend going
ashore today, the formalities of checking in could wait till the morning.
Sunday morning we went ashore in the rib and found, to our surprise, that
the Customs office was open. Formalities consisted of completing an online
form which took about 5 minutes which was printed off, stamped, and given to
us as our official checking on papers. No boat papers needed. No passports
We had slightly less luck with the internet cafe as we had just settled down
with the laptop and were about to order drinks when we were informed that
they turn the wifi off for three hours over lunchtime! All the wifi signals
in the bay are password protected, so we'll have to rely on internet cafes
or the satphone. We had a wander round the marina area which has several
well-stocked chandleries, but as it was Sunday none were open. We enjoyed a
local beer overlooking the bay and then back to the boat for a quiet
The solar panels and wind generator are doing a good job of charging the
boat's batteries, on which all our systems depend, but they need regular
topping up either through shore power or by running the generator. We
attempted to start the generator only to discover that its own starting
battery didn't have enough power to start it up. This was a bit of a puzzle
as it should receive a trickle charge every time the generator is run, just
like a car battery when the engine is running, and so should not be flat.
We gave it a jump start from the engine battery and charged the boat
batteries for a couple of hours, but the generator starter battery was still
Monday morning we took the flat battery ashore and eventually found a chap
who took it away to charge it up/test it. We then visited the chandleries
and bought a new pair of binoculars, a replacement double clutch for the
headsail furling lines and a paper chart of the Eastern seaboard of the US.
Happy with our purchases, we then used the internet and had a few beers/rum
punches in the Mango Bay bar. Later we visited the supermarket and stocked
up on some essentials, then back on the boat we enjoyed ham, egg and "chips"
whilst watching Morse on DVD.
This morning Steve went ashore early to meet the battery guy, to be told it
is US, and to buy a new one. Back on the boat, with the new one fitted, the
generator started fine, but still seems not to be charging its own battery.
So Steve went ashore again to try to organise a generator mechanic to look
at it, and we hope one will come and take a look tomorrow. Pity this didn't
happen when we were in St Lucia, really, as they all speak English there...
Steve's had a poke around and found a couple of wires that had snapped/vibrated off their spade connectors. The joints were quickly remade and guess what - there was still no charge to the generator battery.... Watch this space!