Martinique: Take 5.

A walk with Matt and Kristina was planned for Wednesday the 20th May, but Annie woke up with a sore knee, so we had to cancel it – just as well, because it rained just about the whole day. Thursday and Friday were the Abolition of Slavery public holidays in Martinique, so we managed to do some walks. The Saturday evening we had another music evening with Helmut on SV Kepasa.

Dirk, Kristina and Matt.

Young bikers on the trail.

Annie and mangrove roots.

On the Sunday, after 10 weeks at anchor, Esprit’s hull looked like a veritable vegetable garden. I worked away in the swell to clean the starboard side of the hull, in the process getting covered by dislodged water lice, resulting in bites similar to blue bottle stings. Copious applications of “Stingose” and anti histamine tablets got the burning under control after 3 hours.

Boredom was getting the better of us, so on Monday the 25th May we rented a car for three days to travel the island and get some retail therapy. The first day we visited Decathlon, the amazing sports goods store near Fort de France, followed by Mr Bricolage (like an Australian Bunnings, Plus) hardware store opposite, and finished with the Hyper U store nearby, for provisions.

Enroute – here comes the rain. (beehives in the foreground)

The next day was the sight see and exercise day. We did an eight km hike in the Caravelle nature reserve halfway up the East coast and got thoroughly drenched in a heavy 30 minute downpour. We then drove up to Mt Pelee in the North (see our first post on St Pierre in Martinique). This is the volcano that destroyed the town of St Pierre in 1902.

Mt Pelee before it clouded over.

The view to the south.

When we  reached the start of the 2 km track up to the caldera of the volcano, the sky was clear, but 5 minutes later, the clouds came in, making the hike a non starter. Matt quickly launched his drone to give us a view of the caldera, but the clouds were too fast as the drone disappeared out of view, before returning to base. We got back to St  Anne well after dark.

A: Come on – let’s walk up to the top! D: Are you talking to me?

Cut it-out! –  and smile for the camera.

On day 3 we did more shopping in Le Marin, at the Leader Price supermarket for food and wine, as we were told that wine is expensive further south. After returning the car to the hire company, I cleaned the port side of Esprit’s hull, with Matt helping me clean the sail drive leg, keel and rudder. (Being 30 years younger, he can free dive for up to 4 minutes)

On Thursday we moved Esprit about a km south to Caritan beach, where the water was calmer, so we managed to do some maintenance and scrubbing the green waterline clean on the Friday. Saturday was laundry day and in the evening, Helmut had 35 dinghies tied up to Kepasa for his concert. We were pleasantly surprised when first, Michelle and later Karen, called us on WhatsApp, for the first time in weeks! (all good on their side).

Chris and Sue Jones from London, on their catamaran Nimrod, joined us for drinks on Esprit on the Sunday evening. Interestingly, there are not many English speaking boats anchored here, with the majority of the boats from France and Europe. Also, it is encouraging to see how many of these boats are sailed by young couples or families in their 30’s and 40’s, making us old farts almost unique in this part of the world.

Kasia, Marcin and their son Vincent from White Dog.

Monday the 1st of June has arrived and so far only Grenada to the north of Trinidad has opened it’s harbours to yachts that have reservations at their marinas, subject to a 14 day on board quarantine period and testing afterwards. A lot of yachts have left Martinique to take up that option.

June 1st – the sunset has moved north from the small island on the left, in the time we have been here.

We are still waiting for news from the other islands to the south of us, as we only have to be in Trinidad by the end of July – weather permitting. No sign of potential hurricanes forming in the eastern Atlantic at this stage, but we are ready to move south at short notice. In the meantime we carry on walking.

Walking group having a rest.

Chris and Sue – serious hikers.

The easing of restrictions now allows us unlimited walking (also on the beaches) and socialising in groups of up to 10 people. Sailing between Martinique and Guadeloupe to the north (both French islands) is also permitted. We already have spent some time on Guadeloupe on the way here, so won’t do that.

Picnic with French, UK, Canadian and US sailors.

Sunset view from our picnic.

By the 9th of June we have been anchored her in St Anne for 12 weeks, but with the exception of Grenada to the south (see the map) none of the of the islands have opened up. We have heard that the anchorage in Grenada is overflowing with boats allowed to enter, as a result of bookings in marinas.

Windward islands.

Expats from Cape Town – John, Annie and Dirk.

Beautiful flowering tree.

Passing the stations up to the church on the hill.

View from the church.

Drinks with French Annie, Dirk, Chris and Charlie.

We will carry on walking, travelling and socialising on this beautiful island, as we have made many new friends here. An approaching hurricane, or islands opening up will see us moving south, but until then we leave you with photos of our lives here on the island. Until then, cheers and stay safe!

That’s us.

Another beautiful sunset.