A cute little town at the foot of Mt Pelée Volcano. On Ascension day, the 8th May 1902 - the volcano wiped out the entire town of St Pierre and the then population of 30 000 people!(except for 2 people - a man that was busy in his cellar and a prisoner!) St Pierre was then called the Paris of the Caribbean...with a great cathedral, a fantastic elaborated theatre and obvious wealth around with all the rum, sugar, cocoa and coffee exports and many multimillion dollar estates! The ruins are everywhere in town - most forming a wall in a garden or just a feature wall of a shop or house. There are now only about 3 000 inhabitants in Mt Pierre. It is amazing to see the destruction caused by the volcano! It was mainly caused by rocks and hot ash (that set fire to all the wooden buildings and forests) and not lava. The museum has an excellent exhibition and the town is now a history and art centre - with a lot of artist around with studios that form part of their shops!
A very quiet (and sad) little town that once was the Paris of the Caribbean has a history that makes it enormous in many ways!! Well worth a visit!
01/23/2011, Le Marin
By far the most yachts I have seen in one spot in this huge marina! It is buzzing! It is beautiful and well laid out for boaties! The Marina is great! It is the main base of over 17 charter companies and all trades are in abundance here! That is exactly why we went there (as it is also a place much closer with an easier sail for our trip back to Rodney Bay to pick up the parts!) A very friendly electrician helped us out on a Saturday afternoon at 4.30pm!! He could fix the anchor winch only....that same day Johann and I got stuck into the manual of the deck winch and found the loose connection! And it fixed that problem! Hallelujah ! Finally!!Now we just need to get the wind indicator part tomorrow and Bob's my Uncle!
The next morning early we were back in Rodney Bay (with a very quick sail in great winds!) The parts were there ...customs were nice enough not to force us to go and get visas again! And things are looking up at this stage! We connected the wind indicator part up on top of the mast - and it all seems to work fine! But...always a but....the other part (zinks for the props) were the wrong part! Johann was less than thrilled...that will have to wait till the next big centre to sort out...and it cannot be good for the props to be without them - we will have to avoid Marina's in the mean time ....where electrolyses is more likely to affect a prop without a zink! We left very early (5.30am) the next morning to go back to Martinique - this time St Pierre...up the north western coast of Martinique. A long 5 hour boisterous sail in 25-30 knot winds and huge swells!
Just to find out that the anchor winch is still not working all the time!! So...back to square one!...at least it is sort of allowing the most important operations...just no chain counting on it...!!!Well...we will wait for an English speaking electrician this time!
01/20/2011, Martinique – Fort de France
Fort de France:
Johann had to go and clear in at customs - we soon discovered it was a breeze and a pleasure to be in a "almost first world place" - no fees - no questions - they plonk you down in front of a laptop - you just fill out the online form and get the girl to stamp your entry form and Voila! 5 minutes later - you can hoist your French flag! They certainly do not see it as a money making opportunity! (Tell you what...it can be a 30-45 min job at any other customs office!...if not longer ...depending on the friendliness of the staff and the que in front of you!). There are just a few things about the French that I really like!! This is certainly one of them!
Fort de France - the Capital city of Martinique...by far the largest and liveliest city so far in the Windward Islands! It is clean, organised, beautiful...and very French! If you have a bit of imagination - you could have been in Europe!...driving on the right side of the road..so remember to watch the "wrong" side for oncoming cars!(I got caught out many a times almost walking right in front of a bus or a car!) The architecture is very French (some great old buildings around)...so are the food, the people and the language....not much English is understood here! So...the dictionary has become my number one companion for the next few days!
It is expensive (using Euro's here) but the shops are different!... And so is the food! Some really huge first world shopping centres and amazing restaurants with a great pedestrian street called Rue Rèpublique that will have me occupied for hours! I would love to come back ....one day...and stay a little bit longer - I am dying to see the country side behind this busy buzz of a place!
We manage to find a very friendly American yachtie (Bruce) that was very eager to help us with the anchor winch - he did get the remote to work (it still needed to be fixed permanently by a professional but he managed to disconnect the deck button!! Ahhh no!) So we will have to shift tomorrow to St Marin and find an electrician! On a Saturday...good luck to us!