After leaving St. Lucia we sailed north to Martinique and anchored near the towns of St. Anne and Marin. St. Anne is a quaint little town with a market where we found locally grown fresh produce and fish. Of course, like in all the French towns we’ve visited, we found the local patisserie where we could get our daily fix of fresh baked baquettes and pain au chocolat – yummy!
While in St. Anne we also caught up with our friends Rick and Helen from s/v Symmetry III. Rick arranged to rent a car one day and the four of us explored the interior of Martinique. The first thing we noticed was the very modern highway system throughout the island (as compared to the narrow, often crumbling, roads on most of the other islands we’ve visited).
We found our way to Fort de France, the capital city, on the west coast. It was quite a mix of old and new in terms of architecture and infrastructure. We visited the Schoelcher Library, which is still in operation. The building was built in France, disassembled and shipped to Martinique where it was then reassembled. The structure of the building was very interesting and it was easy to see how it was put together. There were many books that were probably as old as the building. We also explored the St. Louis Cathedral which was undergoing renovations but still quite beautiful and in the tradition of European cathedrals. Later when walking around the city Helen and I found a small fabric store and purchased a few cuts of fabric each.
From Fort de France we wound our way through the interior of the island to reach the east coast. We passed acre after acre of sugar cane and banana fields. After lunch at a little seaside fishing town we found the Habitation Clément, an old sugar cane plantation which still produces rum. Much of the grounds have been converted to a botanical and sculpture garden. After touring the gardens and the old manufacturing facility we found ourselves in the tasting room with a couple of dozen different rums to try (and of course purchase). We tried a drink of white rum, cane syrup and crushed lime – very refreshing!
The next day Pete and Rick took a two-hour bicycle ride through the town of St. Anne. They came back soaked from a rain shower, but feeling good anyhow.
We sailed further north up the coast of Martinique to St. Pierre. St. Pierre was rich in history as it had been the capital of Martinique until it was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Pelée in 1902. Approximately 30,000 people were killed within moments due to the super heated gas cloud that settled over the town. The town has since been rebuilt but some of the ruins have been left intact, including the jail (where the lone survivor was found) and a theater. They’ve created a “volcanology” museum with displays of some items found in the ruins afterward. Picture a box of nails with the box burned away and the nails melted together. The beaches we saw here were all black sand due to the volcanic rocks.
Today it is a thriving community with a large open air market where one can find locally grown produce, fresh fish and arts & crafts. There are many shops and restaurants on the waterfront. We had a delightful meal at Le Tamaya, a small French restaurant owned and operated by a French couple who had cruised the Med and Caribbean for many years.
Moving south again we returned to Marin (Cul-de-sac du Marin) for a few days to wait out a weather system and have our refrigerator thermostat replaced. It was just working too hard and drawing too much power to keep it cool, so now our batteries are keeping their charges for longer. Since we would be leaving Martinique soon (and French territories) we stocked up on French wines, cheeses and sausages. For about 5 euros a bottle we found some great wines which would probably cost $20 to $30 back in the states.
Next we made a brief stop at Grand Anse D’Arlet, which is a beautiful little cove with sandy beaches all along the shore line. It seemed to be a popular spot for locals to spend the day on the beach and eat & drink at the small restaurants along the beach. At about 5:00 p.m. the beach and restaurants all began to empty, leaving just the sailboats at anchor in the harbour.
On April 1 we left Martinique and headed back to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia for a few days before we began our trek south. We picked up some boat parts, celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary with grilled salmon on Delphinus, and just relaxed. We also caught up with Gregory again and I finally remembered to take a picture. Gregory brings his small boat, loaded with produce, around to all the boats in the harbor. His prices are reasonable and the quality of produce is great. He’s told us most of it is from his mother’s garden. We look forward to his visits every day and have purchased limes, fresh herbs, mangoes, lettuce, tomatoes, papaya, and more from him.
Our next stop is Bequia (pronounced bekway) which is part of the country St. Vincent and Grenadines. We bypassed the main island of St. Vincent because of recent reports of crime against cruisers. We anchored in Admirality Bay, which has a very nice waterfront area, complete with newly reconstructed beach walkway. The town, like so many others we’ve visited, has a thriving open air market for produce and fresh fish, as well as local crafts. The people here were very friendly and helpful.
One day we hired a taxi to give us a tour of the island. We’ve found this is great way to see more than the anchorage and learn a bit more about the history and culture of the island. Our tour included stops at an old fort, a turtle sanctuary and a maritime museum. The turtle sanctuary rescues baby turtles and raises them until they are about five years old before releasing them back in the wild. They also had several adult turtles which were injured and may not survive in the wild. We enjoyed our time at the Maritime Museum where Lawson Sargeant gave us a tour through his collection of scale models of large ships, including photos of when he presented one of his models to Queen Elizabeth. He did not allow photos inside the building, but was happy to pose in the doorway!
Our next stop further south down the island chain was Tobago Cays. The cays are surrounded by a large reef called Horseshoe Reef that protects the boats moored there. The lagoon is a protected area and full of lots of sea life, including turtles. Upon arrival we were greeted by Kojak on his boat. He helped us tie up to a mooring ball and invited us to his beach barbecue for dinner that night. For a reasonable price we had a whole grilled lobster, grilled potatoes, salad, plantains and banana cake, plus rum punch and cold beer. Kojak, his wife and son cooked and served the delicious meal.
We finished out our visit to St. Vincent and the Grenadines with an overnight stop at Union Island. Our prime task here was to complete the customs check-out from St Vincent. After completing this task we walked throughout the town, bought some produce from the local market and had lunch at the Big City Grill. There is a small airport near the anchorage and when the planes come in for a landing they go right over the town – so close that it seems you can touch them! I never had the camera ready at the right time.
We’ve now arrived in Grenada where we will leave Delphinus for the hurricane season, but more on that in my next post.
Stay tuned and stay in touch!