We are now in Martinique and immersed in the French way of life; c’est bon! We left St Lucia on Monday 30th after breakfast and arrived at Fort de France around lunchtime. The crossing between the islands was similar to previous crossings; rough! We estimate the waves were between 2-3 metres and we averaged, yes averaged, between 9 and 10 knots – we were hooting along! I managed my last “big” sail without being sick so feel quite chuffed! On all our crossings we’ve noticed lots of flying fish and we’re constantly amazed at how far they travel out of the water! We’ve been disappointed at the lack of marine animals; we spotted dolphins on our first morning leaving Grenada a month or so ago but have not seen any since. We do see lots of turtles both from the boat and when snorkelling.
Martinique is the largest island we have visited in the Caribbean at 1080 sq kms and with a population of 400,000. All the islands have been volcanic in origin and Martinique still has a smoldering Mont Pelee in the north. It last erupted in 1902 and destroyed the then capital, St Pierre, in ten minutes killing all but one resident.
Sailing up the west coast of Martinique we spied many cute little villages that we hope to return to during Mal’s and my last week. Only specific ports permit customs/immigration check ins so Fort de France is our first destination. We anchor below Fort St-Louis built in 1640 but still an active military base today. As we go to shore we notice Chris Doyle’s yacht, Ti Kanut. Chris Doyle is the doyen of sailing in The Caribbean; he has written a series of fantastic guide books for yachties and everyone we’ve met uses them. We’re just finishing his Windward Islands series as it covers the islands from Martinique down to Grenada. The next series that Gina and Bruce will be using is called The Leeward Islands.
We arrived in town shortly after 5pm when everything was closing. This was new to us as shops on previous islands were often open until 6.30pm. We took a walk around the town which was becoming more deserted by the minute and then had our first French meal at a Lonely Planet recommended restaurant, The Crew, on the waterfront. The waitress spoke a little English but this was our first experience of not being readily understood! Fortunately we all got the food we hoped we would get and each of us was pleasantly reminded of how great French cuisine is; we had individual sauces accompanying our meals that were delicious! Bruce & Gina shared a traditional terrine to start and Mal & I shared an entree of scampi. Bruce had a steak, Gina and I both had fish and Mal had boeuf brochette – good ol kebabs! We enjoyed our French wine and felt very satisfied with our first French meal!
The next day we arrived in town early and explored the traditional tourist sights together with the Grand Marche, which was a buzz. Great fresh produce, spices, vanilla pods and a very handy patisserie. It also sold tourist t-shirts and Bruce & Gina organised four “Wyuna Caribbean” tops which will be a great reminder of this extraordinary holiday.
|Grande Marche in Fort de France
One of my pleasures has been swimming off the back of the boat and we have only had a couple of places where it hasn’t been possible. On our return from shopping we all took a swim and performed our boat exercise, “pull ups”. We have noticed the water is getting cooler the further north we have gone but it is still a damn sight warmer than what I’m used to at Lonny, where I rarely put my toe in the water! Kerry & Rob, you’d love it!
Wednesday morning Gina, Bruce & I head into town for a final shop before heading south down the coast to some of those cute little towns. Mal had his much needed quiet time on the boat! I found some nice petite boutiques and made some very wise purchases. Tres bien!
Following lunch of baguettes avec jambon et fromage, we crossed the bay to Anse Mitan and sailed past the tiny coves of Anse Dufour, Anse Noire, Grande Anse d’Arlets before calling in to Anse d’Arlets. This is a cute little fishing village with the clearest water we’ve seen in The Caribbean. We no sooner anchor than Mal & Bruce are in the water. Gina & I join them as fast as we can and spend the afternoon snorkelling and kayaking. Dinner is on board with Mal cooking viande on the bbq and me preparing pommes, haricots and carrots (forgot the French word!!!) or meat and 3-veg for those non-Francophiles!
We awake to another beautiful day in paradise. We took the dinghy ashore and had a walk around town. Really quaint little buildings and tiny streets make for a very charming town. After some beers, fresh fruit juice and half a pineapple, we head back to the boat to gather our gear for some snorkelling on the south eastern corner of the bay. We anchor the dinghy there and proceed to snorkel in the beautiful clear water. This is the best by far we’ve seen in the Caribbean. All soft corals and some pretty fish make for a fabulous afternoon. Back on the boat for pull up exercises, showers and some well earned sundowners!
We moved today, Friday, around to St. Anne, another pretty little village.