Martinique is the one island that I was most looking forward to visiting. I had even planned a sailing itinerary that would have us in Martinique for my birthday at the end of February. Well we discovered what Neptune thinks of sailors with schedules - with a little broken windless he let us know the folly of planning!
As we set a course from Rodney Bay to Martinique early that morning I was so excited I could hardly sit still. Preoccupied with visions of exploring Martinique one restaurant at a time I was getting ready to raise the main sail when I discovered I had forgotten to unzip the sail cover. This was not a good start to the day. Climbing the mast to get to the zipper ten feet above the deck is never fun in a calm anchorage. It is even less fun a couple of miles offshore in rolly seas. Working the zipper down the length of our 16 foot boom with the boat hook in these conditions looked like some sort of demonic ballet - it is times like this that I really earn my Deck Monkey stripes! Finally, with all of our sails set we were on our way to Martinique at a brisk 6.5 knots/hour (or 7.3 miles/hour).
For the most part Martinique lived up to my expectations. The dream of touring the island one restaurant at a time, not so much. I had envisioned this French island to be much like Paris or Marigot Bay on St. Martin - lots of restaurants with a variety of French and international cuisine. What we found here were lots of good creole restaurants. The problem is, I am getting really tired of creole/island fare, I was looking forward to a change.
OK, time for Plan B. If we can't eat our way around the island maybe we could grocery shop our way around the island. Sounds like an odd choice for Plan B, huh? It will all become clear!
Our first week in Martinique was spent at the south end of the island in a picture postcard perfect, beautiful bay off of the small village of Sainte Anne.
We were still traveling with Gary and Marie from s/v Mai Tai and we convinced them to join us for a tour of the southern end of the island by car.
Gary and Marie live very economically, the only time they ever go out is if Gary has found a really cheap Happy Hour deal and then it is only for drinks never food. On the flip side, Gary really likes to cook and is a really good cook too. Gary likes grocery shopping even more. But wait, the thing he loves best of all is going from store to store to compare prices! Can you see how our Plan B road trip is starting to shape up? You can see a lot of grocery stores in a day with a rental car!
I guess the best way describe our reaction to the first grocery store we visited was AWESTRUCK
! We haven't seen anything like this since the States. It was totally unexpected, it had 36 check out stations - the biggest so far had been the IGA in Grenada that had six I think.
They were very high tech as well, check out the little computer price tags on the shelves. And, my oh my, they even had white girl hair color - bonus!
We visited big grocery stores, we visited little grocery stores and everything in between. We even visited a mall that would be the envy of every American consumer!
Along the way we saw some spectacular scenery. We ate French pastries in a small shop in Robert (pronounced the French way) on the windward side of the island overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
We had lunch a la Mai Tai: baguettes, ham and warm soda bought at the grocery store and eaten (and prepared) in the car - it was a lot of fun in a campy sort of way and really tasty too!
We ran across what I guess could be considered and RV park, but they were Airstream trailers. They were arranged in a pinwheel fashion around a shared toilet/bath house. Each had their own little concrete patio with patio furniture. It was across the street from one of the best beaches in the southern part of Martinique.
Our last stop for the day was at Baie des Anglais, a very spectacular bay with a beautiful white sand beach. Even though you can't see it in the picture there were tons of people here, probably the most crowded beach we have seen down here. This is one of Martinique's many topless beaches so the guys had a good time!
When we got back to the dingy dock with all of our combined groceries, we discovered our dinghy more than half full of water! There had not been a drop of rain all day!! What the heck!!! Just when we thought we had everything fixed too - do you think Neptune is still mad about the schedule?!? I wish I had remembered to take a picture, but in the midst of this it never occurred to me to do so - sorry.
One of the things I have loved about our dinghy is how dry it stays. One of the reasons it stays so dry is because of this Thingy.
This is a Flow-Max Ball Scupper (affectionately called the Thingy) it's purpose is to drain water out of the dinghy while you are moving or when the dinghy is sitting in the davits. Well, this Thingy's ball got all slimy and couldn't seal properly apparently. The scary thing is that when it failed, it was in a more or less catastrophic way. Now we have a plug on the inside of the dinghy so this doesn't happen again - the downside we now have to remember to pull the plug and put it back in, so we are back to square one!
Note to self: clean the Thingy, oh and while you are at it clean the bottom of the dinghy too!
This was the longest we have left the cats on the boat by themselves since we moved aboard. We wondered if they were getting anxious and missing us - apparently not!
The view from our living room (cockpit) - life doesn't get much better!