Redwings Round the World

Martinique

3-8 February 2001

 
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Redwings at anchor in St. Pierre, Martinique

3 February, St. Lucia to Marin, Martinique

Aaron - After yesterday's fuel disaster, today was a piece of cake, even though we worked reasonably hard for it!  Up at 0700 to listen to the weather and hopefully cop a chat with Tango II.  We sent out the word yesterday on the net that we were looking for them and Willy on Arbella (Maine boat!) chimed in and said that T2 was in St. Martin and that he would tell Jim to come up on 8104 this morn.  Dedicated readers will remember that Jim and Anna on T2 are old friends from Red Sea days and have a cat named The Beast. We last saw them in Las Palmas before our crossing.

Sure enough at 0730 I heard Jim's thick Boston accent calling Redwings Redwings and we caught up.  Our first guest for the Caribbean season She Dog Steph Sheean will be meeting us in St. Martin on 6 March so we have to be up there by then and from what Jim told me, T2 will be there too so we'll get a chance to hang out with them.

We hoisted the already 2X reefed main, hauled the anchor, and headed out just as a 30 knot squall hit.  We were cool and in control though cruising through the anchorage at 8 knots on our way out to sea as we were again expecting the worst for the crossing to Martinique and everything was well lashed down.  Its been blowing 20-25 (30-35 in squalls) for days now and today looks like no exception.  The weather dude is not calling for a break till next Tuesday or so, so its not worth waiting, even though we'll have it close to the nose.

Soon after we rounded Pigeon Island and were just getting into the Atlantic swell, I looked to port and saw a boat about one mile off that looked very strange - it looked like either a weird fishing boat hauling a huge catch up in a net or a dismasted yacht.  Colleen looked through the binos and confirmed it was a dismasted yacht.  We raced over there and came in fairly close.  The boat was Jazz Time, a blue 45 footer we had seen several times in the Rodney Bay anchorage and also heard on the net.  The mast had broken just below the bottom spreader and most of the genoa was still under the boat.  However, the crew of five or six were all in the cockpit with life jackets and foul weather gear on and the skipper seemed to be slowly motoring successfully back towards Rodney Bay.

"Are you OK?" Colleen screamed out from the bow.  The skipper gave us a thumbs up and yelled that they will get it sorted eventually but it will take a long time and waved us on.  So that was that.  Wow.  Glad to have the two reefs in and the running backstay rigged.

We then headed up to course and rolled out about 1/3 of the genoa and started sailing just a few degrees below close hauled just fetching St. Anne.  We romped along at 7 knots for the whole 21 miles often dipping the bow and burying the rail.  Good to get the water over the boat to help get the diesel smell off.  Mid crossing, a pod of 50 or so dolphins descended upon us, flipping out of the sea and cruising off our bow.  Beautiful.

We pulled into the relative calm of protected bay off St. Anne on the southwestern tip of Martinique at 1300.  We made it!  The conditions of the crossing would have "not been fun" for an extended passage, but on a short crossing when well rested and assured a good sleep and meal at the other end, just a great romping sail.

After lunch and a quick clean up, we decided to up anchor and head further up the bay to Marin, the main yachting center of Martinique, so we can do our shopping and check in.  Marin is located at the end of a well protected twisty turney bay with mangroves and reefs on both sides.  We dropped the hook, dropped the dingy, and went in to try to clear customs.  Of course, as this is France (literally - Martinique is a department of Le Republique) and it was 1500 on a Saturday by the time we arrived, the customs office was closed.  Oh well.  Off to do the shopping.  Colleen danced in the aisles as she threw brie, lamb chops, & tetra-packed long-life cream into the shopping cart I was relegated to pushing.

4 February, Saint Anne, Martinique

Aaron - After another windy night ("Aaron can you check to see if we are dragging?"), we got up and dingied (is that a word?) into customs.  Of course, we met Farr Ahead on the way in, our karmic paths crossing once again - we seem to see them everywhere.  Mike and Kitty are heading back to the UK tomorrow, however, and unless they get held up or we have to go to the UK, we won't see them for at least a month.  They hope to cruise Maine this summer as well though, so hopefully we will see them on the way up or in Camden.

Customs clear-in was painless.  We took a brief walk around Marin to see if we could find an internet cafe (no joy) and to generally scope out the scene.  The main feature seems to be the huge charter fleets.  Hundreds of charter boats everywhere!  We saw many of the boats we had seen in the Grenadines getting washed down and prepared for the next week-long warriors.  We quickly concluded that there was not much to see and headed back to St. Anne where we anchored right off the town dingy dock in five meters of clear water.  Sand bottom.  Good holding.  Less wind close to the bluffed shoreline.  We'll sleep better tonight.

What a beautiful town.  White houses set along the hillside.  A complete French village with the tree-lined square (rectangle) where old men play boules and quaint, yet falling to pieces, Catholic church.  Cafes and boulangeries on every corner.  We had a great meal in a restaraunt overlooking the anchorage (right at the water's edge, they had a plexiglass floor under the outermost dining section and you could see the water washing in and out below over the pebbles and shells) and then took a walk up the hill to a Catholic shrine on the hilltop.  Nice view.

While watching the sunset from the cockpit, we heard the Boom Boom Boom ratta tat tat of drums and cheering coming along the road from the direction of Marin towards St. Anne.  "Looks like a parade" Colleen said so we dingied in and sure enough, a "Carnival" parade came into town comprised of demons, drummers, and dancers.  Great diversion.  So far, we are liking Martinique.  Looking forward to my pain chocolat tomorrow.

5 February, Saint Anne, Martinique

Name - Up and out at 0800 to rent a car.  None to be had - if in St. Lucia for sure would have scammed to find us one and take a cut wasting lots of time.  Walk mile or so to car rental near Club Med.  Off at 0900 for tour.  First stop Hipermarche - more food.  Through FF, on towards St. Pierre, stropped off Case Pilote - CD says pit.  On to Gaguin Museum - really streching it.  Into mountans - views of pastures like Europe - and down around East Side.  Lunch pizza.  Back around to Marin to try e-mail - no luck but met Bob and Anne on Scallywag (comment), attempted fresh F&V purchase, Aaron some chandlery purchases, back around St. Anne for quick drive tour or beach areas.  CD took stuff to boat, AH to gas, miscom, fight. end.

6 February, Saint Anne to Anse Matin, Martinique

Name - Up and out at 0830 and took four hour walk around St. Anne - beautiful beaches.  Bread and Brie.  Left St A at 1330 for Anse Mitan.  Broad reached with genny in 15 knots past Diamond Rock (comment) and around towards AM which is across from FF.  Anchored next to another P46 Grand Cru!  Dingied in to try e-mail - no luck.  Dinner at Fanny's.  Generally a "has been" resort town. 

7 February, Anse Matin, Martinique

Name - Visited Grand Cru first thing.  Dick and Dorothy used to have a P44 in the Caribb and kept GC in their home port of Block Island.  Had the boat for 14 years.  Exactly the same as Redwings - Formosa 46 built in 1979 (RW 1980).  But some differances.  GC recently had new water tanks and cabin sole put in as well as new fiberglass decks for reasonable money in Trinidad.  Then into FF - shopping, e-mail (no luck), chandlery, hardware, shoes - fairly sucesfull - FF good place to shop.  In pm back to GC and they gave us three big bags of charts and pilots for Bahamas to Canada inc ICW!  Score! 

8 February, Saint Pierre, Martinique

Name - Up at 0630 and left at 0700 for FF.  Anchored there at 0730 and made quick run to customs.  Saw Yang Wa again.  Quick turn around and on our way all legal by 0800. Sailed with jenny at 4-6 knots downwind in flat water to St. Pierre.

Few boats in there, lots of fishing bouys.  20 meters right up to the shore away from the other boats, so went into between two, but when dove on anchor, saw chain across an underwater net.  Moved to main back of boats other side of dock - hey there is Venla!  Tried anchoring there, but dragged.  Moved way down to end between last yacht (Moody Goose from ARC) and more fishing buoys and finally got stuck in in 7 meters.

Venla came over and gave us the scoop.  Into town - visited volcano museum, ruins, walk through prickly grass to beautiful falls, back on boat few jobs and then Venla came over for dinner.  As full moon rose, looked out of cockpit and sway 10-15 sailboats tacking up the coast their sails illuminated by the moon.  A race apparently.  Looked like ghost boats.  So pretty.  Silent.  They glided into the anchorage one by one through the night.   

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Copyright 2001 All Rights Reserved by Aaron Henderson and Colleen Duggan