Baguettes, croissants, pain-au-chocolat, café au lait – we are in France again! Approaching Martinique didn’t feel much different than the previous islands. There are mangroves, white sand beaches with palm trees and treacherous reefs under water. But take a step on land and whooo, there is a different groove here! Just a half day sail from St Lucia we were back in Europe. People talked twice as fast, walked twice as fast, were twice as organized and smiled twice less. Well, they still smiled a lot, but were definitely astonished how everything can change so drastically within such a short distance.
Le Marin in Martinique is famous among sailors for shopping as it is cheap (for Caribbean standards) and the supermarket has a dinghy dock. So we went shopping big times! Naïma’s belly is once again stuffed. We even got apples (…from Europe)! We also enjoyed the good marina infrastructure to eat out in a restaurant once in a while and to take (hot!) showers. Le Marin is one of the best places in the Caribbean to fix your boat as you get almost everything (although at high prices), so we also got a couple of boat projects done. The biggest one was our windlass (an electric winch to lift our anchor), which had started to smell under heavy load. Suspecting the motor we took the winch apart, but only to find it in perfect condition. Finally, we found the culprit – a corroded cable. We had checked the cables before, but we must have overlooked that one. An easy and relatively cheap fix. Relieved we used the opportunity to service the windlass (greasing parts and refilling oil) and then put it together again (a day’s work as putting it together and mounting it is all but easy). Had we known that we’d have to unmount it again a couple of days later… And one more thing that was great about a rich marina such as Le Marin… it was incredible what people put into the trash here. A dinghy anchor sticking out of the trash attracted our attention, but a closer look revealed another anchor, chain, ropes, blocks and shock absorbers in perfect condition! After that we passed by our new “shopping center” every day. We even found a propeller, unfortunately too big for Naïma, so we gave it to Reinhard from SY PLANET, whom we knew already from Grenada. He had helped us a couple of days before to fix the propeller of our dinghy.
After “settling in” we rented a car and explored some of the island’s many sights. Martinique is quite touristic with many French taking their holidays here. It is easy to get around, but the distances are not to be underestimated. In the South we visited the beautiful beaches of Grande Anse des Salines, where Ela searched every single coconut tree for their delicious fruit. On the Atlantic coast the peninsula Presqu’île de la Caravelle has a beautiful mangrove trail and great beaches. We also hiked Mt Pelée in the North, a volcano that killed 30000 people in a violent eruption in 1902, wiping out the village of St Pierre. And during one of our jungle hikes we found a wonderful natural river pool to bathe in.
Then it was time to head on to Dominica. We lifted the anchor, with our nicely serviced windlass humming nicely… until… bang!!… it ripped out of its support… the screws that were supposed to fix the windlass were not holding in their threads anymore. Fortunately the anchor was already up. So we headed to the gas station and filled up water and diesel real slowly, to decide where to fix it. You can often get the best help from other sailors. Not only that they are on your side, but often they have more experience and better solutions than the so-called professionals that you can pay a lot of money for. Reinhard offered his help and after a night at a mooring we went alongside his SY PLANET and made new threads for bigger screws to hold the windlass with his support. Reinhard had built his beautiful boat himself some 30 years ago, and I guess this was one of his easier jobs… Having learned something new, we tried to repay our debt with Ti-punches (the Martinique way of drinking rum with lemon and cane sugar) and of course then it got pretty late… Finally, two days later we left towards Dominica without further obstacles… but more about this in our next post!