Last Days in the Eastern Caribbean, Part Seven
The Pitons are on the south end of St Lucia, so we motor sailed in the island shadow for the first part of the trip to Martinique. Castries, St Lucia, is a busy cruise ship port and it seems like I am always at the helm when there is a cruise ship to worry about. Steve called on the radio to check in with us and mentioned a moving island ahead. Good thing he said something, because it was hidden behind our jib.
Cruise ships usually go anywhere from 16-26 knots in my experience, so I kept waiting for this one to get out of our way. We motor along at 6 knots, so it doesn’t seem like that should be a hard task for them to accomplish. But I waited and waited and it just seemed to hang there in the way. On AIS I checked their speed again and they were going 5.4 knots and slowing. Ugh! Fortunately, there was plenty of time for it to poke away into port, but not before I started getting nervous. Once we got past the north end of St Lucia, there was plenty of wind to sail. The sailing was good until we were more than half way across, then the current started to pick up against us. We could clearly see Martinique, but it felt like we couldn’t get there. It looked and sounded like we were making good headway, but our speed over ground reported 2.3 knots! That is approximately 2.6 mph. Can you imagine driving a car that slow? It would drive you crazy. How do we stand it?
The bay at Ste Anne is huge and wide open. The current worked against us until we were well into the bay. Le Marin is tucked back in the far corner behind Ste Anne and it felt like it took forever to get to the channel. Once there, everything was calm and we furled and dropped our sails to motor through. We had never taken the boat into Le Marin and it was quite a different experience. It looked resort-ish at first.
Then there wasn’t much around but a sad reminder of what reefs do to boats. But everything changed as we neared the city.
Being hurricane season, we didn’t expect there to be many boats, but upon arrival it looked like a major boat metropolis! Apparently the French leave their boats moored in Le Marin and return home for the hurricane season. Some boats had people on them, but the majority were vacant.
After our fourth attempt at anchoring in the loose silty mangrove mud, we finally stuck. We ended up right next to a channel that led into a mangrove. Of course I had to go check it out and see if there were any good birds or other animals in there.
There weren’t, but it looked cool. As we dinghied back out, I shot a short video. Dave drove kind of fast, but I think it turned out okay. Livin’ Life makes a brief appearance as we exit the channel.
We toured the island by foot and car during our brief stay. First, we had to walk up this super steep road reminiscent of the streets of San Francisco. In just a short distance, we already had views over the harbor.
Martinique is a mix of old and new, freshly painted and crumbling to pieces. There are a lot of buildings being reclaimed by nature.
For some reason, these buildings interest me more than the shiny new ones. If we had places like these in California when I was a kid, they would have been my hang out (play house) for sure.
These buildings reminded me of Rome, Italy. That city is the most eclectic mix of old and new I’ve ever seen. Is that an ancient pillar still standing on its own? Lets just build onto it and reuse it as part of the house. Cool stuff.
Speaking of shiny new. This pristine looking building is a public restroom. There seemed to be no reason for it being at this location, but it’s nice they are so available.
As we continued to walk, we soaked up the sights. Again, I was taken aback by the number of boats in Le Marin.
What do you do with an old microwave? Hollow it out and turn it into a mailbox, of course! They need to come up with something better than a cardboard flap, though.
Many of the walls are covered in graffiti or street art. This one looked more art-like, but some look like gang-style graffiti. I doubt it is from gangs, but I am not sure if it is condoned.
What goes up must come down. Instead of returning to the steep street we went up on, we found this stairway that led all the way down. Very pedestrian friendly. There is a lot to like about Martinique. It is clean and colorful, pedestrian friendly, and has great provisioning. Oh yes, that’s why we came…
But we would worry about that the next day when we had the car. For now happiness came in the form of beer and Internet. Not sure what the strange ghost-looking things are above Steve and Marie. I think they were lights. Weird.
Returning to the boats for the night, we noticed that the moon was nearly full. It was almost time to go. One day of shopping, then we’d be off to Bonaire!
First and foremost, we stocked up on beer and wine. Priorities! Then we went to Decathlon, the best sporting goods store in the Caribbean. The Grenada hashes were hard on my hiking boots and I am losing the soles, so I picked up new hiking boots. We all scored something great there. Seriously, if you’re cruising those islands, go to Decathlon. The prices are VERY reasonable.
Here it is. The whole reason we HAD to go to Martinique. We were out of French wine, cheese, and sausage. Not to mention, the new hiking boots and walking sticks for Colombia. There is also an incredible fishing store, where we picked up another trolling rod, line, and lures. And the grocery stores are amazing. Hyper U is in a mall and is bigger than Walmart back home. We still can’t find all the American brands, but friends taught me some of the French things to buy.
We had one last dinner out before having to eat onboard for 4 or 5 days. Mango Bay Restaurant was convenient, so we ate there. There food was tasty, but the after dinner mints were strange. I popped one in my mouth and tasted eucalyptus. What? I told Marie that I thought it was a cough drop. She agreed it tasted like one. We looked at the wrappers and they said Dr. Tom’s. Those silly French! Oh well, at least our sinuses were clear.