Martinique:  March 2-5, 2010

Click on the above thumbnail for a map during this time period

On March 3 we made the 3.5+ hour passage from Rodney Bay up to the our favorite anchorage in Martinique:  just inside the Cul-de-Sac du Marin, just east of the point that houses Club Med, up against the small island Ilet Baude.  It is a bit distant from the customs/marina at Marin, and one must know how to pass between two shallow reefs to get there, but it is a lovely, protected, and quite spot.  In truth, if one knows the way, one never sees less than 15' on the way in.  Arctic Tern had excellent sailing conditions on the way up from Rodney Bay, and we were feeling exceptionally mellow (and therefore cruising at fewer RPM's than normal) and so they actually arrived at the approach to Ste. Anne before we did, a fact that seemed to tickle Devi immensely.  (But then, she has lately been a little sensitive about her lack of success in Progressive Rummy.)  Hunter pulled to the side and followed us on in through the reefs, our turn point on this occasion being marked by the presence of the huge Dockwise Transport that is used to ship boats over/back to/from the Med.  Among those that were loaded for transport was Ocean Emerald, which coincidentally David Daniels had recently remarked upon on Facebook as having been 100 yds off his port beam at Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI.  Not your usual boat.  Cf. here.  As we passed by the huge transport on our dinghy the next day on our way to Ste. Anne, where we would leave the dinghy while taking a long hike on the southern part of the island, we noticed that she (the transport) was sinking:  the method by which they take on additional vessels.  Cf. photo below.

We had been on the hike route before, with Receta, and Arctic Tern had been on a portion of the hike before w/ Asseance.  It is the best hike that we have found in the area.  The part going down the west coast from Ste. Anne is through woods and mangroves.  The bottom is through a thriving beach area with lots of local and tourist beachifiers and lots of stands set up providing meals and snacks.  The east coast is much wilder, with thundering waves hitting rocky cliffs, and a "petrified savannah" (from which one guide book said all of the petrified objects had been carried off) that is beautiful in its starkness.  We stuck with the trail  up the east side until we were approximately even with Ste. Anne, and then took a rocky road westward back in her direction, passing farm fields and pastures hosting cattle that were much fatter and healthier than most we have seen in the Caribbean.  Many of the fields were filled with melons.  One in particular had obviously been harvested, but there were a few melons still on the ground, and they were in good shape.  The walk along the road was out in the sun, and we were hot, thirsty, and hungry.  You cannot imagine how good those melons tasted!

Le Marin

Dockwise partially lowered to receive another ship

Ocean Emerald aboard Dockwise

Texture photo: rubble in the beach

Walkway out to an educational display on the south end of the island

Barb and Devi cross over from the south to the east side

Entering the savannah area

The barren and sunny savannah

This fellow suddenly appeared on the path and overtook the girls -- what's in his bag, we wondered

Colorful formations where the savannah met the sea

Impressive stoney cliffs on the east side

There has been erosion since our last visit

Another impressive formation

The melons were ...

... SO good!

Ste. Pierre

On March 5 we moved up to Ste. Pierre, where we found the anchorage to be VERY rolly.  We had checked out of Martinique at Le Marin, so we didn't need to go ashore.  Good thing.  Taking the dinghy down from the upper deck would not have been fun.  Did I mention that it was rolly?  We deployed one of our flopper stoppers, and discovered the next morning that it had been jerked so violently  that one of the four chains that run from a central ring to the corners had severed.  Oh, and we arrived at Ste. Pierre well before Arctic Tern.

If you wonder about the efficacy of flopper stoppers, consider this video made by Devi.

Arctic Tern underway toward Ste. Pierre

Ste. Pierre and Mt. Pelee seen as we approach

Panorama of the Ste. Pierre waterfront

House on the Ste. Pierre waterfront