Mimi in Martinique
21 February 2011 | St. Anne
February 20 and February 21, 2011
St. Anne, Martinique
We make this posting from the utterly charming village of St. Anne on the southwestern coast of Martinique. The weather is mellow, the winds fair, the seas turquoise and life is good.
We left Bequia on February 18th at 6:30 in the morning with the plan of sailing north, past St Vincent, the northerly most of the Grenadine islands, and across the 30 mile channel to St. Lucia. A total trip of 50 miles start to finish. The winds had backed down and were predicted to be in the 18 knot range. Seas were still pretty high, but we'd had Mimi out in worse. The north end of St. Vincent throws up some pretty stiff winds and we got our share of them for about a half and hour, seeing gusts of 26 and 27. We had a double reef in the main and had the jib reefed as well. We had read warnings about this particularly gusty spot in our sailing guide and adjusted the sails ahead of time. The next 4 hours were pretty rocky. Keith stayed at the helm and I often stood on the cockpit bench, holding on to the bimini framework. I can kind of let my body flow with the boat's jerky motion, plus I can see over the top of the cabin. At one point Keith, with a serene smile, but alert look on his face said "look at that", pointing to the right of the boat. Moving toward us was a "hill" of water, 12 feet or more tall with the most gorgeous icy turquoise top lip to it....it was obviously about to break and it looked like it was going to break BIG on us! Off the bench I jumped and braced myself in the lower reaches of the cockpit for the wet impact.............which never came. Mimi beautifully rode over the "hill" and down the other side. We took a lot of water on the hulls and cabin, but made it to St. Lucia where, 3 miles out we were greeted by a boat boy in his colorful craft. Southern St. Lucia is rife with boat boys so he had to meet us early to grab our business. He wanted to kindly escort us into the Pitons where, though we would need no help, he would assist us in obtaining a mooring ball, offer to take us on tours and sell us any number of things. After such a long day, we just didn't feel like dealing with him and the other hords which would follow him. In the end we decided to head further north. We pulled into St. Lucia's most northerly protected anchorage of Rodney Bay just as the sun set having made about a 70 mile passage.
Rodney Bay is a great place to stock up and we were excited about shopping. There is a big hardware store, a Chandlery, and a couple of great big grocery stores. Oddly, to access these fancy stores, a person has to tie up at a small dinghy dock that leads to a narrow, rubbley alley way. On the dinghy dock sits a man...a very thin man with bad teeth who wants to help grab your line when you pull up. For that, he asks for food. Something to eat and maybe some juice. Of course we couldn't refuse him, he looked so pitiful. He must really be hungry to ask for food and not money. We bought him a chicken roti and a bottle of orange juice. After a long shopping trip we pushed our 2 shopping carts down the rubbley alleyway and there he was, still sitting on the dock. Obviously some other kind sole had also responded to his plea for food because he was drinking a cold beer and had a large back of mixed snacks. Hmm. He got started helping us take the food out of the carts and load it on the dinghy. We gave him his roti and juice, but he spotted the Heineken and asked for one of those. The Heinekens had broken out of their packaging and were starting to fall all over the place. In the frenzy to capture our beer and get it all in the dinghy, somehow we managed to leave 2 bags in the rear shopping cart.....something we noticed midway into preparing our lunch back at the boat . Back we barreled in the dinghy. There he was, still sitting on the dock and he smiled (looking sleepy now) and pointed to the 2 bags, still in our abandoned shopping cart. By now he had a bag of hamburger buns and a box of macaroni and cheese snugged up next to him in the shade. He was obviously stuffed and had started asking for groceries to take home. We gave him $5EC, deciding next time to buy him a tooth brush and tooth paste, and marveled at his prosperous day, The kindness of strangers....it's a great thing.
That night in Rodney Bay we had a group of cruisers over that we had previously met in Grenada. One couple was picking up their son in Canouan the day after we picked up Cass and Doug. That weekend (and the following week unfortunately) was darn windy and in Canouan the winds stack up in the hills and come roaring down at increased speeds, often switching directions. After a gusty night we had left Sunday morning for Bequia and the Super Bowl, but this couple spent Sunday night in the anchorage and the winds howled. In the evening they had a visit from a single-hander that was nearby and while on board, his dinghy flipped over in the wind and submerged the outboard motor. It was too windy to take him back to his boat, so he spent the night in their cockpit. Hours later he noticed that his boat was missing. It had dragged across the harbor and was rafted up alongside a catamaran that was holding. We've heard of many boats dragging their anchors this season. We have reanchored and reanchored and at times taken a mooring ball over the past few weeks. None-the-less, someone else can always drag and run into your boat. This hasn't happened to Mimi yet and we seriously hope it doesn't. So does she.
NOTE ABOUT THE ABOVE PICTURE: This boat anchored next to us yesterday. They are French so we haven't spoken to them, but can you imagine what they must have gone through!? Keith thinks the forestay must have broken and the calamity began. Obviously the owner is very, very seaworthy as the whole rig was tided down securely. A product of our high seas and big winds??? Possibly. What a year.
Martinique has been largely controlled by the French since the Europeans arrived and colonized it. It basically is part of France and it feels like it. Nearly every seaside bay that we enter is anchored by a top rate government-built dock and not far beyond the quintessential Church steeple points toward the heavens. Supported by France, the infrastructure is well cared for, tidy, has good roads, ample garbage cans and a seemingly content population.
When we crossed to Martinique we were fortunate enough to be able to sail close enough to the wind to make our entry into this delightful and more southern area where we are presently anchored. St. Anne is a quintessential French Caribbean Village and the neighbor to Club Med Martinique which fronts on a long sandy beach next to a public beach park.
Our plan was to enjoy St. Anne for the number of days until we picked up good friends, Jim and Caryl Holloway in the more northerly town of Anse Mitan. Since we arrived, the wind has backed down and there has only been the occasional shower. It is beautiful. This is the same spot that Keith took me dancing for my birthday last year. There is something about their open air restaurant and the French entertainment that seems to stir his soul and........I can hardly believe this.......inspire him to dance! We've been out twice this past 4 days If you had told me in my 40s that Keith would become a dance enthusiast (my work, not his) in his 60s, I would never had believed it. While he does have his own unique style and a girl has to be quick on her feet to adjust to his musical interpretations, I've got no complaints and am having a ball with my ever evolving husband.
Sadly, circumstances have come up that have forced the Holloways to cancel their trip. We are blue and just staying put until our gusto returns. We've got 4+ weeks until the Moores arrive and think we may take the time to sail to more northerly reaches of the chain, or do a more in-depth study of Guadeloupe. As of now Keith is getting some boat chores done. We'll probably do the mega hike we were saving for the Holloways and there is a snorkel area we've spotted that needs our investigation. We'll have to force ourselves to start eating something that doesn't have to be lain open-faced on a fresh baguette.........but not now. It's lunch time! and it's just too, too good!
I may have gotten the picture part of this blog working. If so, you will also find a video. Last night the locals started practicing for Carnival and marchers, drummers and a trumpet player or two made the rounds of the town. Keith filmed it on our little camera and took in the Harbor and got a bit of a feel for where we are currently and temporarily calling home. I'll add it to the Gallery, provided I do the task successfully.
Write back when you have a chance. We love hearing from home....yada, yada...you've heard it all before, but we really love your letters. I save them for the evening and read them to Keith off of the Blackberry. Hope all is well with all of you, Love, Captain and Crew, S/V Mimi