07 – 14 November 2014: St Anne to Grand Anse, Martinique – 14 30N 61 05W
We had another run of 25 miles across the large Atlantic ocean swells to get us from Rodney Bay, St Lucia to Sainte Anne, on the southern coast of Martinique. Martinique lies at the top of the Windward Island chain and it was skippers goal to get here before the seasonal northeast trade winds fully developed. Martinique is considered to be the most northerly Windward Island and from here we would sail a more favourable course through the Leeward Islands before turning west in a few weeks.
We hadn’t stopped at Sainte Anne on the way south so it was great to have somewhere new to explore, French supermarkets to investigate, the best baguettes to discover, new rum punches to sample and excellent French food to savour. I should mention that 36 hours of non stop rain initially put a slight dampener on things, but only just.
Filling Up The Lockers
The French do take their food seriously and they make it very easy for us cruisers to access all their goodies here . Leader Price Supermarket in nearby Le Marin even has its own dinghy dock, how could we not take advantage of that? So despite torrential rain we did the long dinghy ride to indulge in the flavours of France, our lockers are now overflowing with canned duck breast, tins of ratatouille, stuffed olives, salamis and pates and the fridge has never seen so many different cheeses. Now let’s not forget the French wines and Martinique rums, the dinghy was chocka full – all the shopping was wrapped in black bin liners so it wouldn’t get too wet and the provisioning excursion was complete.
Downwind At Last
After 5 enjoyable nights at Ste Anne we finally managed a downwind sail along the bottom of Martinique, around the western tip and up to Grand Anse D’Arlet in company with Feijáo. But us sailors are never happy, it was dead downwind and we didn’t put the pole out so we gybed backwards and forwards, rolling from one side to the other – but at least we weren’t beating to windward and it was only 15 miles.
About 200 mooring buoys have been laid in the large bay so we hooked on to one and settled in to watch the sun dip over the horizon. We had planned to stay just the one night but it was such a pretty bay it deserved further exploration. With Gina and Lenny we did a walk around to neighbouring Petit Anse D’Arlet the following day, it was a cute small seaside hamlet with colourful buildings, a restored church, lovely beach and we found fresh avocados and still warm baguettes – yummy.
Back in Grande Anse D’Arlet we found a shacky beach bar where the wavelets almost lapped at our toes as we ended another great day, Gina and I discovered a rather potent brew of Planteurs Punch while the skippers relaxed over a few local beers, a wonderful spot for sundowners.
Our weather window to head north was closing, so unfortunately we couldn’t linger any longer. We had a dawn departure the following morning again in company with Gina and Lenny on Feijáo and headed north to Dominica.
The French Islands – They Are Hard To Beat