Passage to Martinique

Passage to Martinique (Jan 11)

Yesterday (January 10) at 7 am, we left Prince Rupert Bay, Dominica headed for Martinique. The wind was occasionally blocked by the high peaks of Dominica as we headed south but once we entered into the channel between Dominica and Martinique there was more than enough wind.
We sailed across at 8+ knots with reefs in all of the sails. We arrived at St.Pierre about 2:30 and anchored to the north of the town dock, and promptly went below to rest. We we came back on deck, we noticed that another boat had anchored uncomfortably close to us and had left in their dinghy. European sailors, particularly French ones and charterers, have a much more casual attitude about anchoring than Americans. They enter anchorages at higher speeds, often drop their anchors while still moving forward, and do not always back down on their anchor to set it — plus they are more comfortable with getting quite close to other anchored boats. It is something that still leaves us uncomfortable. In order to retreive our anchor this morning, I had to have the boat do this slow-motion dance in order to avoid hitting our close-in neighbor who was parked right over it.

It is the same tonight in Grande Anse d’Arlet. When we were ashore, a boat came in and anchored much closer to us than I would like. When on the boat earlier, I would stand on the deck and stare intently at however was cruising by looking to anchor as a way of staking out my “territory.” But once you leave the boat, anything goes–particularly in the French Carribean. The biggest charter base in the French
Carribean is just a few miles away at Le Marin, so I expect charterers who just picked up their boats head up here as their first destination.

We did not expect to visit Grande Anse d’Arlet. As we sailed south we saw this attractive little bay set among steep hills and pulled in on the spur of the moment. We thought we might like it enough to have my sister Naomi meet us here on Saturday instead of St. Anne/Le Marin. The water is beautiful and a large sea turtle kept swimming around the boat. Once ashore, we were not terribly impressed. It did not have much to offer except elderly French pensioners in bathing suits that were altogether too small. We bought a phone card to call the kids, but neither public phone worked. In addition, the dock is an awkward platform to get Naomi’s bag of goodies for St. Lucia onto the dinghy.

We were very hungry at 6pm and wanted to get some early supper but the restaurants did not open until 7:30 pm. As we had a drink on the beach contemplating our options, a small pirogue came ashore just in front of us and the two firsherman jumped out with their catch of fish. Laura greeted them and purchased a small, whole tuna that they filleted for us. We went to the small store nearby and bought the last
baguette and the problem of dinner seemed to be solved. In the end, nothing beats eating on the boat.

Tomorrow morning we will head for St. Anne or nearby Le Marin where we can catch up on email at an internet cafe, I can get some overdue research work done, and we can finally officially check-in.