Marvellous Martinique

Our fun-filled three weeks in Martinique!

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On Friday, March 30, 2018, we left Dominica at 7:45 a.m. and sailed south towards Martinique. Our plan was to stop in the first port of clearance, St. Pierre, a neat little town that went down in history in 1902 when the nearby Soufrière volcano erupted, killing every single inhabitant save for one man who was in a stone-walled drunk tank that day.

Our Dominica–Martinique track

On the map above you can see that we started heading into the Rade de Saint-Pierre, but as soon as we got close enough to see how badly the boats were rocking and rolling in the anchorage, we decided to carry on to Fort de France, which was much better protected from the unseasonable northerly swell. We had made excellent time on our crossing, averaging 5.8 knots, and it was not even 2 p.m., so we still had lots of time to make it the extra 15 nautical miles to Fort de France in time for sundowners.

David at the helm

Double head sails up on a downwind run in Martinique

Anchorage at Fort de France

Full moon rising over the fort

After sundowners and dinner, we dinghied ashore to explore the town. Fort de France is an interesting capital city, with a neat mix of Creole and French, and traditional and modern architecture. However, it is clearly a port town where business is dictated entirely by the cruise ship schedule. If there are no cruise ships at the dock, absolutely nothing is open. That first night walking around, it felt like we had the whole town to ourselves. But it was a bit odd on other days when you couldn’t find a single bar or restaurant open at 5 p.m., giving the impression of being in a ghost town. The next morning we went into town again and were happy to find it a bit livelier.

The main market in Fort de France

Fort remnants

FDF street view

The Canadian baguette – with maple and sesame chicken. Didn’t try it, but it sure sounds good!

Why don’t they make government buildings like this in Ottawa??

The municipal library, designed by Eiffel

Nerding out with a library panorama (note the names of famous French authors)

Since it was Saturday night, we felt we should make an effort to be social, so we invited the crew of S/V Calicoba over for sundowners. We had seen this Australian boat several times over the past few months, first in Antigua, then in Guadeloupe and again in Dominica. We still hadn’t met the crew, so we figured it was time to introduce ourselves. Michael, Maya, Keith and Riley from Melbourne came over for sundowners, which turned into a whole night of eating, drinking, exchanging sailing stories and laughing. We finally turned in around 1:30 a.m., feeling like total rockstars, though admittedly not a lot got done the next day (we’ll blame it on the rain).

Monday morning, Patrick and Nathalie, Mel’s newly arrived dad and stepmom, were at the dock bright and early for Day 1 of touring the island by car. We visited the most beautiful beaches on the south side of the island, including Anse Figuier and Grande Anse des Salines, and had lunch on the beach in Ste. Anne. On the way back, we saw Diamond Rock, an island that the British outfitted with cannons and troops to protect Martinique from French invasion in the early 1800s.

Rear view at Anse Figuier

Family selfie across the bay from Ste. Anne

Awkward family photos

Silliness at Diamond Rock

On Day 2 of touring the island, we visited the Depaz Distillery where we got a tour of the estate, did a rum tasting and had lunch. We then spent the afternoon lazing on a beach on the northwest side of the island.

Lovely Depaz estate

View from the house

The gardens

Dad view

In a hurry to go rum tasting

Rum barrel aging

Post rum tasting artsy shot

Not a bad spot for lunch

Delicious tuna lunch at the distillery

Anse Céron

On our last day of intense tourism, we hiked along the Caravelle peninsula on the Atlantic coast of the island.

Panorama from the Caravelle lighthouse

Dorky lighthouse portrait

Dorky Atlantic shot

Cute bird gets up close and personal

Family portrait on the easternmost point of the island in the blazing hot sun

We finished our day by getting everyone out to the boat for sundowners. This was a huge deal because Patrick is not a fan of being on or in the water, so we were very proud of him for facing his fears, getting in the dinghy and coming aboard for a drink.

Ar Sgrail sundowners crew

Another beautiful Fort de France sunset

After a week in Fort de France, we were looking for a change of scenery so headed across the bay to Anse Mitan. This part of the island is a bit touristy, but it meant there were lots of restaurants and shops. We spent a week on a quest to find our favourite bakery and ice cream shop. We also did some bar hopping with the Calicoba crew. One Sunday we took Patrick and Nathalie for a day of sailing and snorkelling in Anse Dufour before they got on a cruise ship that would cross the Atlantic back to France.

Dinghy shuttle to the boat

Patrick and Mel at the helm

The Calicoba boys share a 2L sex on the beach

Anse Mitan

Another week went by and we weren’t quite ready to leave Martinique, so we headed around the corner to Grande Anse d’Arlet, a sheltered anchorage with many French boats. On Sunday evenings the whole town gathers at the local creperie for open mic night, and with 5-euro crepes and 2-euro glasses of wine or beer, it was the perfect end to the week. A few days later we finally got the perfect weather window for our crossing, so we cleared out, put the dinghy on deck and weighed anchor.

Grande Anse d’Arlet

Sunset rum punch on the beach

Cheers!

Where the wind takes us next: Lush St. Lucia!

11 thoughts on “Marvellous Martinique

  1. I like your “mermaid” t-shirt!

    (Stating the obvious) but I think half og the fun is this region of the world is to sail from one island to another. It seems that you get the best experience!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The shirt actually says Mermaid Off Duty 😉 It’s my cheeky sailing shirt.
      Sailing is definitely one of the best ways to explore the Caribbean. You get to explore all these different islands and still sleep in the same bed every night!

      Like

    1. Despite the story our pictures tell, it’s not all beaches, rum punch and sunsets. It’s a lot of hard work but the payoffs are wonderful and make it all worth it. Thanks for reading, Bob!

      Like

  2. Mel! Just read this. You both look healthy and happy. Yay! Also, look at you sounding all “sea-like”… unseasonable swell, nautical miles, sundowners, sailing windows…. who ARE you?! 😀 xx

    Liked by 1 person

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