Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Martinique Again 2012

Martinique Again 2012

Thursday 17 May – Thursday 14 June

WOW we spent 4 weeks in the beautiful country of Martinique this time. Exploring more of some previous visited anchorages and seeing some new ones and even renting a car a couple of times to see part of the inner island. We still did not get to see all we wanted, just so much to see and do!! Here is a summery of our time in Martinique.

We had a fast 4 hour trip down from Roseau, Dominica. Not as smooth as we would have liked with the 20 knot winds and 6 Fort waves but we made 8-9 knots with 1 reef in the main and 2 in the genoa and anchored off St. Pierre, Martinique. Friends on Ultra anchor near by a little while later. Friday morning we go to check in at customs (tourist office) but their computer is broken so after lunch along with JoAnne & Bill from Ultra we take the bus down to Fort de France and check in there. Stopping at a few stores before catching the bus back to St Pierre. The town is having a celebration that weekend because Mt. Pelee, the volcano that DESTROYED the town in 1902, has been quiet now for 110 years. Booths with local artists set up along with food vendors and a stage for music (all in French). Saturday afternoon JoAnne & Bill want to dive a couple of the wrecks here in the bay, of which there are many, some from the volcano others from hurricanes and tidal waves. They are all deep dives and since I am suffering from a head cold, no way I can equalize and get down that deep. So I swim in the beautiful deep blue water while Steve, JoAnne & Bill dive. Dinner on Ultra, delicious home made pizza by JoAnne. Sunday more diving and snorkeling then back into town for more of the festival celebration. Monday we take the walk up to the Depaz distillery, passing through the town looking at the historical ruins from the volcano eruption now a landmark. JoAnne & Bill had made the same mistake we did on our first walk to see the distillery, taking the long hilly road. They had left late in the day so never even made it to the distillery before turning around. So Bill was a little doubtful when we say there is an easy way. He is also surprised at how easy it is and the fact that they did not come this way the 1st time. The distillery is up and running and the grounds are beautiful and the rum tasting is always good, we load up on free mangoes before walking back. Tuesday is another festival celebrating the abolishment of slavery so we go in BUT can't use the dock for the dinghies as they are loading tons of fireworks to be set off later that night. We find another spot to land the dinghies and enjoy some of the afternoon festivities before going back to the boats for dinner and a great view of the firework show. Wednesday Ultra heads south but we stay to do laundry, & defrost the freezer. We leave Thursday, during a break in the rain, to catch up with them at the anchorage by Schoelcher, just north of Fort de France. We make the 1 ½ hour trip staying dry but once anchored the rain starts up again. Friday still on & off rain throughout the morning. During one break we decide to make a run to shore. Glad we were all wearing our ponchos, as it started to rain on the way in and most of the walk up to the bus stop. JoAnne & Bill are returning for their second trip and our 1st to the mega supermarket and hardware store located between Schoelcher & Fort de France. We are traveling by bus so limited to what we can buy by what we can carry in backpacks and canvas bags. At least the sun comes out for our return trip. Saturday noon departure for Anse L' Anne. Short trip over and get re-anchored, then take the dinghies over to Anse Mitan to check out town and surroundings. Sunday Into Anse L' Anne to see what is there then out to snorkel around a little island then over to Anse Noire & Anse Dufour for more snorkeling before returning to the boat. Monday I go back to Anse Mitan with JoAnne & Bill to shop :), Steve glad to stay back on the boat. Over to Grande Anse D' Arlet in the afternoon get anchored & settled in, before snorkeling off the boat since we are close to shore line. After snorkeling HH with Joanne & Bill on Ocean Star.
Another sad day as we will be parting ways the following day, as they head south and we stay in Martinique awaiting arrival of guests.
Tuesday & Wednesday boat chores and swimming. Thursday over to Fort de France, stopping to get fuel first !! What a mistake that was !! We THOUGHT we had gotten fuel there before but as we are approaching the fuel dock we realize that NO we did not because Dave from Promise had come over by dinghy and told us what a horrible set up it is. We were there so decided to go ahead and give it a try. We had to back the boat in to a small space next to a FLOATING dinghy dock with small lines in the water for small boats to use to tie off to. I get off with the stern line trying to find something to tie it to other then the little rubber cleat on the floating dock. No help from anyone at the fuel dock but luckily some men from the near by boat yard were there having lunch and came over to help with the lines tying them to the floating dock. Finding one real cleat onshore to secure the boat so it did not pull the floating dock away. Fueled up and a note made in our log to never get fuel there again. Glad to be away from that mess and over to the anchorage off Fort de France. Into town after lunch to start provisioning. Friday getting more provisions and getting ready for visit from friends Gina & Barry. We had it all worked out (so we thought) Gina's cell phone was set to be able to receive and make international calls, I had a local cell phone and our sat phone. Sitting up on deck around 10:25 pm we see a plane landing saying that's probably them landing now. Plan was to call at 11, by that time they should be en-route if not almost to where we would pick them up with the dinghy. I start calling, but Gina's phone is NOT working. A few more calls and finally at 11:30 I tell Steve we have to go in that there must be something wrong with her phone. We get to the dinghy dock and there is Gina but no Barry !!! Gina is so relieved, her taxi driver did not want to leave her there in the park by the dinghy dock in downtown Fort de France. Unable to speak the language in a foreign place in the middle of the night. He told her of a safe hotel near by just in case she did not find us. The park / dinghy dock might not be the safest place but it was still pretty crowded with families so at that hour it was still not the worst place to have to wait (easy for me to say- Gina might disagree). But we did show up and get Gina only to find out that Barry had missed his connecting flight so he was still in Puerto Rico and would be arriving the following night. Saturday we go into Fort de France walking around town seeing the sights and some stores and the market place. Back to the boat and over to Anse Mitan to anchor where it is much calmer than rolly Fort de France. We had talked to Barry and he would take a taxi here to Anse Mitan when he arrived. Gina & I go into the town of Anse Mitan walking around and shopping. Saturday night Barry arrives, we meet him at the dock and get him back to the boat and settled in. Sunday we go to anchor in Grande Anse D'Arlet. Snorkeling off the boat and visiting town. Monday we do the hike over to Anse D'Arlet have a nice lunch before hiking back, followed by a nice cooling swim off the boat. Tuesday we head over to St Anne, not the best weather prediction to go east but not too bad and with guests on a short schedule we go. To Steve & I it wasn't that bad, just a little rough. Gina & Barry got to learn first hand what the term “beating to weather” means. Not all days are smooth sailing, that is why we anchor in a spot and don't move around so much. Timing our moving with the right weather window – not something you can do when you are visiting for just a week. We get anchored in the lovely bay of St Anne and go into town to walk around. We have another generator problem (leaking shaft seal on the sea water pump) and Steve wants to talk with a guy over in Le Marin about getting it fixed. So on Wednesday morning we decide to take the dinghy over ?!! Even with the new dinghy & outboard with 4 people it was a wet ride, another fun experience of the cruiser to introduce our guests to. Steve & Barry go find out about the part for the generator water pump while Gina & I walk around. Have lunch on the pier then Steve & Barry go back to bring the big boat up to Le Marin while Gina & I do a little more shopping. The guys finally meet back up with us and we get back to the boat to get cleaned up. Thursday we drop Steve off to drop the generator water pump off and we go to rent a car, then go back and pick Steve up by car (FYI – Euro Car cheapest car rental by far). We are heading to a place called MangoFil, in Trois Ilets to go zip lining. Stopping at the Trois Rivieres rum distillery on the way. The French know how to do adventure parks, they cost a fraction of what they do on some of the other islands, giving you a 10 minute orientation and practice then let you go and do the course on your own. This was the first zip line / obstacle course for Gina & Barry and I am glad it was a pretty good one with 40 different sections. They have several spots where getting on or off the zip line is at an awkward angle, they could use some serious adjustments. But for the most part it was a fun course and we had a great time. Found a spot to grab a bite to eat before continuing along the coastline seeing the magnificent views. Back to the boat for well needed showers before going back into town for dinner. Friday Steve picks up the generator pump and Barry returns the car while Gina & I sleep in. This is their last day (so they thought) so they wanted to spend it just relaxing and swimming off the boat so we go back over to St Anne a nicer anchorage for the day. Back to Le Marin as the sun sets and dinner on board as Gina & Barry pack to catch an early taxi to the airport. During dinner Gina gets a text message saying their flight is delayed from an 8:30 departure to 10:30, so she calls the taxi driver to change their scheduled pick up time. Steve drops them off and they are on their way to the airport. Steve back on the boat where he tackles the job of swapping the fixed spare water pump with the still leaking one on the generator – a job that takes major dis-assembly of both the generator compartment (to get access) and the generator. I get the dirty clothes ready to bring to the laundromat the following day. Saturday night just relaxing getting back into our normal routine. Sunday I go and spend a couple of hours doing laundry. That night on FB I see a note from Gina that she is still NOT home ?? We learn a few days later that the text message she received from Delta about her flight change was WRONG and their plane left at the earlier scheduled time without her and Barry. They wound up renting a car Saturday afternoon and driving around more of the country, staying at a hotel near the airport to catch the Sunday morning flight out to Puerto Rico. I hope the air travel problems don't ruin the memory of a fun vacation in between. Monday a few more boat projects, get the 2nd generator pump in to be fixed. Tuesday Steve & I rent a car and travel up the east coast stopping in the towns of Le Vauclin, visiting the beautiful Clement estate and rum distillery. Among the beautiful grounds and restored plantation they had 3 separate art galleries that had some of the most bizzare modern art that we have ever seen. Seeing the towns of Le Francois, & Le Robert, La Trinite before going out on the Caravelle Peninsula, a Nature Reserve and seeing the ruins of the old Chateau Dubuc. They have some good hiking trails out there but by the time we got there it was too late to do them. Great sights and views all along the drive up the coast making for another great day. Wednesday just took it easy in the morning then after lunch went by customs to clear out, we stayed a few days longer then what we had originally put down when we cleared in, and not that the French care but we knew going to St Lucia they would question the gap in days. But being a Wednesday the customs office was only open a ½ day, same with the post office when we went by there. One of these days we will get the hang of when things are open and closed. Thursday morning a quick trip in to complete Wednesday afternoons tasks, back to the boat dinghy secured and on our way to St Lucia by 11:30. A great sail down 1 reef in both sails wind aft of the beam, 6 ft seas parallel to the boat that we cut thru at 8 + knots. Anchored in Rodney Bay by 2:30 next to friends John & Linda on Kool Kat.

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