We upped anchor in Marin on Thursday to meet our Danish friends on ‘Moana’ as they are moving north before returning to Denmark this summer. We have spent so much time together over the last 16 months and will miss them. They have a big trip back to the Azores, UK and home and we wish them well.
We coasted west past Diamond Rock on just our genoa but creeping up behind us was a lot of rain, completely hiding the land. Furling half of the genoa away we got soaked but the boat remained comfortable until the squall passed through. It was then a short distance north along the west coast to Grande Anse D’Arlet.
Revisiting Grande Anse showed us how quickly things change and why the guide books fail to keep up. Last time we had to anchor in what seemed quite a crowded bay and on the first attempt had to cut our anchor free from a fish pot. This time there are well over 100 new moorings, well spaced around the beautiful harbour and best of all, they are free of charge (at the moment). They have been funded by the EU and use sandscrews with a strong rope from the seabed up to an underwater buoy. From this runs a length of chain with plenty of scope for swells, ending in a large white buoy. All the shackles are wired, something we haven’t seen before here!
The fixing system is the same as in Les Saintes, i.e. just a small hoop on top of the buoy. You can either use a moorfast type boathook, which we swear by, or hang off the side of the boat and try to get your lines through the hoop as you pass by. Then you need to get another line through later, by swimming out or using your dinghy. The moorfast stick is great, as it enables us to fix both lines from the bow in seconds without the need of launching the dinghy or getting wet!! I remember seeing a young lad with his dad at the Southampton Boat Show years ago, spending 10 days pushing ropes through a cleat to show customers how it worked. I was ‘hooked’ too and it has proved an excellent piece of kit. I wonder how the lad is now!
There are buoys in most of the bays on Martinique now, all of the same type. The bay south of this, Petit Anse D’Arlet, is just as picturesque, so we hiked over the headland with our friends from ‘Moana’ and enjoyed the views. The path is quite rocky and high but the road back is much shorter and without the risk of a sprained ankle.
Both beachfronts are lovely, full of cafes and stalls, with white sandy beaches and crystal clear water. Snorkelling is good in both bays and we could see the bottom in 8 metres of water. Jet skis are rare but the 2 we saw yesterday came into the anchorage at a snail’s pace, perhaps regulations dictate their speed but it was a welcome change after Rodney Bay.
We first tied up to N44, a buoy in turquoise water but overnight it was very rolly. After the hike we moved to N5, first row off the beach and it was calm there. We are in 4 metres with turtles swimming by and lots of fish being chased by bigger ones! We are staying here a few days as new friends we met in St Lucia are arriving and we would like to have some time with them. The engineer in Marin told us our water maker pump needs a new part, so we have plenty of time to visit a few of the smaller bays before getting water in Fort de France. After a week, we still have a full water tank and haven’t emptied the second yet. Pity we started with the front one empty but that is how we found out the water maker was sick!
More of my French is coming back to me each day and I’ve dug out the 3 grammar and conversation books. If I stayed here 6 months and sat in a café all day practising, my language skills might improve! We are very impressed with Martinique as you can get so much done, buy nearly anything you need and it is clean, safe, friendly, quiet and very scenic. Strange to see the ‘F’ on the car registration plates and use the Euro though!
Whilst snorkelling we tried out the underwater camera again and got a reasonable photo of a starfish and the mooring. The bow of Beyzano is in the shot and despite her being afloat for 13 weeks, the hull is still completely clean. We hope not to have to antifoul her again this year but there is plenty of time and warmer weather to come yet. Rob’s mask leaks but he wouldn’t let me gaffer tape it to his face for some reason! Just trying to be helpful ☺
During a quick squall we noticed a dinghy making a bid for freedom and decided to get soaked and rescue it, quickly finding the catamaran with people aboard but no dinghy. They were very surprised initially and then grateful as they hadn’t noticed it had gone walkabout. Later on they brought us a bottle of special Martinique Rhum, a gold medal winner – very kind of them and well worth getting wet for.