More fun in Martinique
We left Grande Anse d’Arlet early on Friday morning headed for St. Anne on the SE edge of Martinique. It is only a 16 nm sail, but for most of the trip you have to head directly into the wind. The winds were strong, but luckily, the seas were not terribly rough, and we had a eautiful “motor” into St. Anne’s anchorage. This is apparently a very popular spot in Martinique, and we can see why. The anchorage is huge, and reasonably protected from any swell. It has mountains around it, but they are not terribly high, so they allow for a nice breeze to blow through the anchorage. The town is an adorable little tourist town with a good patisserie, several restaurants, well stocked grocery stores, a couple of fruit stores, plus a daily market where they vend all sorts of fruits and vegetables, plus a huge variety of spices and flavored rums. Very friendly and clean and French ( garbage cans everywhere and public toilets – both important things in the scheme of things). We had to check in to Martinique as we had already been in the country for a couple of days without checking in at either St. Pierre or Grand Anse, so as soon as we anchored we jumped in the dinghy and headed across the bay to the town of Le Marin where the customs office is. It was a 3 mile dinghy ride, and much to our chagrin, the wind was so strong and the seas so choppy that it was a pretty uncomfortable ride. Marin is a huge yachting center as well as the major yacht chartering marina around here and there were literally hundreds of boats in the harbor and at the docks. We managed to find the customs office at 12:20, just 10 minutes before they closed for the day. They checked us in incredibly quickly and efficiently – and we were done before 12:30. Starving, hot and thirsty, we stopped at the big local seaside restaurant there – and had a bad, slow, but otherwise enjoyable lunch. Sometimes the French style of serving can be frustrating – talk about taking it easy – they are so leisurely – I don’t think you can have a lunch in less than 2 hours anywhere. Interesting. We spent 90 minutes in an internet cafe trying to catch up on communications, and then headed back to the boat in calmer winds and seas than when we arrived.
Mark’s sister Naomi arrived at the square in front of the church in St. Anne at the appointed time yesterday, along with some incredibly heavy bags filled mostly with gifts for Bernita’s family in St. Lucia. Bernita has provided loving care to Mark’s mother in New York City for the past four years. We had to use a halyard and winch to bring the bags onto the boat. That evening we returned to St. Anne to walk around, tried to make some phone calls, and had a lengthy dinner. This morning we checked out the open air market in St. Anne before hiking along a trail that paralleled the coast with the goal of visiting the beach at Anse Salines. It was a bit more of a walk then we bargained for so we headed back after crossing Pointe Dunkerque with a view to St. Lucia. It started to rain hard just as we approached the Restaurant Ouai Ouai adjacent to the Hotel Caritan. Rain squalls this time of year usually last all of ten minutes (except in the mountains), but this one lasted all afternoon. We had a 2 1/2 lunch overlooking the beach as the rain beat down on the roof. When we left it was still raining although not as hard. We picked up two of these great rotisserie chickens and a couple cases of Didier, our favorite sparkling water, and returned to the dinghy which had a 6 inches of water in the bottom. We left the dinghy pump on “Sabbatical III” and could not bail it out. It did not matter since we were wet from the rain and it was raining still. Upon arrival at the boat, Laura and Naomi skinny-dipped while Mark kept his nose strategically in a book. Tomorrow morning we have to go to Marin to perform the required check-out before sailing off to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, weather permitting.
L. & M.