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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

January 1 – January 27, 2019 – Martinique – Part 1, (the Southern Part)

How wonderful to wake up in a new year with a new slate in Martinique, our gateway to the Caribbean. Several things happened in that first week of the year, including reuniting with Sabbatical III and meeting fellow Island Packet owners Mette and Ottar of s/v Tiril from Norway. Wasting no time getting the gennaker dropped off for repair, and arranging other general maintenance matters, we put business first. The biggest challenge was to pin down the rigger to repair our main furling mechanism. He and his team are the best and are therefore in very high demand. Tradesmen were giving us appointments 2 – 3 weeks out. We were pleased just to get their attention because this is THE PLACE to get anything and everything done for your yacht, which makes it worth the wait, and we will make the time.  We had to move into Le Marin, however, to be accessible to them.

Raising the generator to reinstall bolts
Fortunately after motoring around and around the crowded bay we found the ideal spot to anchor with excellent holding, close to shops, laundry, groceries, restaurants and services. This is important because the bay is prone to sustained high winds and although there are hundreds of mooring balls around, they are not maintained. Many moorings held derelict boats; rusted out hulks that in my imagination were teeming with rats and roaches. The entire bay is littered with these things, some half sunken while others hugged the mangroves. We never found out whether they were remnants of previous hurricanes or just abandoned by those whose pockets ran empty. Perhaps the reason we found a great spot to anchor is that it was surrounded by several of these ghostly floating hulks of ruin.  

 We didn’t care much for the cafes and restaurants in the marina complex, preferring the smaller local cafes lining the sidewalk across the street.  

After about two weeks of waiting, the rigger contacted us letting us know he could not work on our boat until we were more readily accessible so he was rearranging boats to make space for us at his dock. Talk about a scrunch – we got squeezed in on a side tie but with three other boats tied up alongside and to the aft of Destiny. We became a gangplank for the other yachts. Not ideal and yet we were so happy to finally get their attention we didn’t dare complain.

We rented a car that weekend while Destiny was tied up at the rigger’s dock to get a good look around. This island is not like any Caribbean island we have ever visited. It’s more like a south Pacific paradise – a French Hawaii as it were. It rains a lot; often only in bursts but we saw a tremendous amount of rainfall during the month of January. Certainly this is why the island is so beautiful. It is French and with that comes French bakeries that are abundant and have been threatening to lure us into sinful Carb-hell.  Happy shoppers parade around daily with baguette in hand, including my husband (while I go more for the flaky buttery croissants and pain au chocolat). Restaurants are hit and miss but we found a few worthy of a return visit.
part of the 5-course lunch at Zanzibar

Zanzibar in the marina area of Le Marin gets our top vote for exquisite food in both taste and in presentation. It’s pricey to dine out, even in the smaller cafes but then it is the Caribbean after all. We quickly claimed favorite hangouts – Cayali beach bar is a spot that has dingy access and red umbrella covered tables right on the little beach and for whatever reason, we gravitated there several times. Apparently there are 14 rum distilleries on Martinique. I wont testify to that but there is certainly no shortage.
Hanging out at a beach cafe in St. Anne

Frank and George aboard Kundalini

While still on that dock awaiting our repaired furler, Kundalini arrived bearing George and Thomas from their trans Atlantic passage. Like us and our other friends they have “post passage” work to do so we all fit one another in for meals and social time as often as possible and as schedules allowed. Of course we took the guys to our favorite beach café, but the best meals were served to us on board Kundalini, thanks to Chef Thomas.

Thomas and George

One of Thomas' creations
photo taken just before the Green Flash at sunset
We split our time between Le Marin and St. Anne Bay preferring the latter whenever possible during those weeks. This lovely bay is massive and can accommodate literally hundreds of yachts of all sizes. The entire area is like nothing we have ever seen in our 11 years of cruisingBONUS: we witnessed the Green Flash during countless sunsets from here whilst sitting right on the back porch of Destiny. We should charge for this, eh? We understand why folks sail here and get sucked into staying for the entire season. When you want a swim, you bop over to St. Anne where large turtles feed on the sea grass in the bay and swim beside your boat. Hiking trails take you to gorgeous beaches, a Water Boat comes around to fill your tanks for pennies and the charming waterfront boasts a couple of great dinghy docks. When you need services or large supermarkets, you bop back over to Marin, a mere three NM away. Life is too easy here.

Beach walk in St. Anne
Also during this time we received word from our beloved friends Ute and Hans (Taimada) who decided to sail up from Grenada just to visit with us for a while. What a thrill! Except for a brief time when we traveled to Germany a couple of years ago to celebrate Oktoberfest with them we haven’t been with Taimada since Thailand in 2013. Ute is presently wrapping up her 4thsuspense novel and is working furiously to get it to her editor, so for them to make this herculean effort to spend time with us has filled our hearts beyond measure.

Reunion with Hans and Ute

Farewell lunch with Mette (s/v Tiril)
With George and Thomas celebrating their arrival
Sunset from Cayali beach cafe
Eventually we got the Gennaker sail back from the loft and the furler reinstalled. Ute and Hans returned to the Grenadines, George was preparing for the arrival of his wife, Laura and Mark had flown home to visit family leaving us nothing more to do in the southern tip of the island but bid a very fond farewell to Mette and Ottar, promising to most certainly meet again. Time to get rolling!!! But it was pouring rain. What to do? Most places aren’t ideal for anchoring in the rain if you can’t see the bottom and haven’t been there before. We eventually made a move when the rain eased and on the late morning of January 27th, we sailed up to Grand Anse D’Arlet, just a few miles away but it was forward progress nonetheless.

Shopping at a local market

lunch on the beach
Lunch with Mark and Laura on the beach
Clement Rum Factory tour
Beach lunch

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