Martinique: Take 4.

On Friday the 8th May the Cruisers Net informed us that the French government decided to relax the quarantine conditions as follows: All shops and businesses except restaurants and bars can now open from Monday the 11th. People can also meet in groups of up to 10 (with social distancing), walk more and travel up to 100 km on Martinique. There was no news from other islands and no other borders have been opened.

Annie making our masks.

Also, on the 8th May, Michelle our younger daughter, turned 30 and we had a WhatsApp video call to wish her well. We were sorry that we could not be in Sydney. How the time marches on – it feels like yesterday when this noisy baby, looking like Charles Bronson with a head of black hair, arrived in our lives. She has been a challenge and a pleasure since. See Shell’s 30th Birthday Video compiled by her friends from around the world – mostly from the UK, where she has lived for 5 years:

https://vimeo.com/418094180

Michelle’s birthday cake.

The 15th May 2020 marked four years since we sailed out of Sydney on this adventure. It gave us the chance to reflect on how much we have seen and learned in the four years. We have heard statements like “You are so lucky to do this”. We don’t agree – it takes a lot of planning and hard work to do this. Had it been easy, a lot more people would be doing it. Doing this, also has the advantage of keeping our brains and bodies active.

That could be me!

It was almost five years since we saw the photo above of a Sun Odyssey 439 in the Jeanneau catalogue and I thought, but didn’t tell Annie: “Yesss! That could be me! (Before I started growing sideways instead of lengthwise). And here we are, still enjoying the experience and looking forward to our next year in the Pacific Ocean. The Covid-19 pandemic has tied us down in Martinique for two months, but hey, it could be worse.

Walking south to Caritan.

Arriving at the beach in Caritan.

Walking back to St Anne.

Annie having a rest.

Remy and Annie.

Illogical as it may seem, the relaxed Covid-19 rules allows us unlimited walking with no attestation approval required, but, not on the beaches! We have crisscrossed the roads and tracks on land for exercise and decided we would take a chance and walk on the deserted beaches, which are really pretty. We came across one other person, Remy from Bordeaux, who with his dad sailed a sister ship, a Jeanneau 419, from France to the Caribbean. They plan to transit Panama into the Pacific next year. Our list of buddy boats is growing!

St Anne’s statue celebrating the abolition of slavery.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning the yachties around Martinique listen in and contribute, on VHF radio to the “Martinique Cruisers Net”, to keep themselves up to date with the latest news and developments. This is expertly run by Steve in English and Patrice in French. This has been expanded to musical quiz evenings on Friday nights, covering Jazz, Classical and Rock, run by John and Les from Cape Town – I wish my friend Jim was here to help me with the quiz. Sunday nights we have a general quiz evening hosted by our American friends.

Helmut on guitar.

…and on saxophone.

Last Saturday night we had the talented Helmut from Kiel on “Kepasa” host a live show, playing the saxophone and guitar with vocals. We were tied up with a whole bunch of dinghies behind his Bavaria 44, drinking and singing along. He had been quiet for a month since his last show, due to a severe cold, but is now back in form. We look forward to another show this coming Saturday. See these links for the video’s:

https://vimeo.com/419945513

 https://vimeo.com/419945912 

https://vimeo.com/419946139

We slightly overdid our walking, with a hike to Pointe Dunkerque on Saturday and on Sunday, with a long hike to Anse Meunier, Petite and Grand Anse des Salines. We got back footsore at lunchtime on Sunday after an early morning start, had a swim and a Nanna nap before we had guests over for sundowners.

Setting out under the trees.

The mangroves behind Anse Meunier.

Petite Anse des Salines.

Fever tree.

The route is well signposted.

Grande Anse des Salines.

An hour and a half after starting: a selfie.

Annie had to carry on walking to the end of the bay!

So, I took a rest.

Heading back to St Anne.

Mountain bikes by the dozen passed us.

There is no news yet about the borders between the islands opening, so we sign off with the hope that next time we will report on us leaving Martinique after 10 weeks to the islands further south. Until then, we leave you with a photo received from our girls in Australia – they seem to be having fun. Cheerio!

Karen and Michelle.

Martinique: Take 3.

As previously reported, on the 17th March 2020, the island of Martinique in the Caribbean, introduced a compulsory quarantine for all persons on land and at anchor, to contain the Covid-19 virus. Not much news is available for our blog, so bear with us as we cobble together some photos of the lovely village of Sainte Anne, it’s surrounds and it’s anchorage, to keep you informed about our quiet existence.

Sunset from our anchorage at Sainte Anne, Martinique.

On April 6th 2020, at the end of our week 3 in quarantine, Juliette and Guerric, while delivering our baguettes, eggs and croissants, informs us that the Prefect of Martinique is thinking of extending the quarantine to the end of April – we will know during the next week.

Juliette and Guerric.

I received the email meme below, from a South African friend: It was also Founders Day in SA, as Jan van Riebeeck landed in Table Bay on the 6th April 1652, to establish a re-victualling station for the Dutch East India Company at the Cape of Good Hope. I was born 295 years later at the foot of Devil’s Peak, behind JvR, in the painting.

Van Riebeeck meets the locals.

On Esprit, life carried on, albeit slowly and a bit boring, with mostly reading and swimming around the boat to keep us occupied – all the boat maintenance items were up to date. Three days earlier, Annie was politely asked by the Maritime Police not to paddle board amongst the boats in the anchorage.

Annie cleaning the deck.

Annie working out on the clean deck.

We celebrated our wedding anniversary on the 10th April – quietly. With our girls’ emails of good wishes, came the news that Michelle was now working for the UN Women remotely online, doing policy writing and advocacy on Gender Based Violence and Covid-19, while waiting for her deployment to PNG, whenever the Covid-19 pandemic will allow this. Karen was still working her butt off in orthopaedic surgery at the John Hunter hospital.

Our wedding anniversary – still alive.

On Monday the 13th April, Emmanuel Macron the president of France announced that the lockdown in France and its territories has been extended to the 11th May 2020. This includes Martinique, but the date may be reviewed during, or at the end of this period. Bonjour St Anne – once again! Tuesday the 14th marks one month in quarantine for us, with another month to go.

A quiet afternoon in St Anne – we drop off the rubbish and go to the supermarket.

Rubbish separation.

Walking back to the jetty with our groceries.

We are getting concerned with the time left to us, to get out of the Caribbean hurricane zone, by the beginning of June. We were planning to reach Trinidad, which is outside the hurricane zone, by the 1st June and we have a booking at Peakes Boatyard in Trinidad to have Esprit hauled out on the 15th June, for 3 months. With most of the windward islands to the south of us still in lockdown, it may be quite a rush to get there in time.

Cat 5 Hurricane tracks 1851 to 2018. Martinique is to the north of Trinidad, slap in the middle of the tracks!

We had completed our travel plans on land for the 3 months, to visit Cuba for a week. Then a road trip from Florida to North Carolina to visit friends, before travelling to New Orleans and then on to Guatemala and southern Mexico to visit the ancient Aztec sites. Fortunately, we haven’t booked airline tickets yet and will have to see what the Covid-19 situation allows us in terms of travel.

On the 16th April we got French attestation documents, allowing us to go for one hour walks in St Anne. We used the first opportunity to walk 4.5km to a fruit and veg stall to buy fresh stuff and on the way back stop at a small shop to get wine, beer and groceries.

We may now walk for exercise!

Mural on the way to the Fruit & Veg.

Another mural towards the church.

Mural detail.

Beautiful colours along the road.

At the Fruit and Veg stall.

So happy to be on land – my princess hugs a palm tree.

With this new document, we wanted to make the most of it, without putting anyone at risk with Covid-19. We ventured forth again the next day doing another 5km walk in solitude, enjoying the lovely scenery, before going back to the boat. We were knackered after a month of inactivity, so we hit the water to cool down and then relax for the rest of the afternoon.

The town beach.

Murals to brighten up the street.

Religious statue

Out of town, walking past Brahman cattle.

The road back to town.

Matt, our Aussie neighbour on “Yotty”, is a keen diver and from time to time brings us some crayfish from his catch. He also helped me strip the lower leg gearbox of our outboard, to try figure out why the engine revs go up, but the prop revs stay the same. We can’t work this out, but the owners manual mentions the “over-revolution limiting system” which must be checked by a Suzuki dealer. That will be done in Trinidad when we get there.

A crayfish pressie from Matt.

The next milestone was my 73 birthday on the 28th April. Our neighbours on both sides, Kristina, Matt, Kasia and Martin join us on Esprit to quietly celebrate with drinks (A hurricane action plan meeting, if the cops turn up). A news item around this time, quoted Brian May, astrophysicist and lead guitarist of Queen, saying that us baby boomers are now old and vulnerable. I do a Google search for old age homes in Sydney.

Happy birthday!

Annie and Matt.

Martin, Kasia and Kristina.

Next morning – this quarantine thing makes you thirsty!

To quote my friend Trena: “When this is over…what meeting do I attend first…Weight Watchers or AA?”

News on the Martinique cruisers net, on the same date, is that the quarantine period here and in Trinidad has been extended to the middle of May. So, we bid you adios – we will do an update in a fortnight.