The Covid-19 lockdown in Martinique, announced by the prefect of this French prefecture in the Caribbean, came into effect at 12:00 on the 17th March 2020 whilst we were in Petite Anse on the West coast of Martinique. We were able to stock up with provisions at Le Marin, 15 nm to the South east, the following day. St Anne, a bay to the south of Le Marin offered good shelter, so we anchored here the following day, with about 350 other boats. This would be our anchorage for the next 14 days – or so we thought.
We managed to go ashore for a walk down the beach on the 20th of March and realised that these measures were more serious than we thought, when a police boat ordered everybody off the beach and back to their boats. The maritime police were out early the next day, recording all the boat names and their positions by cameras and drones. It was announced that we would incur a EU135 fine if we visited other boats, so quarantine was a reality.
Week 1: I started the water maker and made 350l of water to fill the water tanks and 100l to do our washing. Annie disinfected all the surfaces we touch, inside the boat and on deck and also cleaned all the stainless steel work. I checked all the fixings and made a hull scraper for the copious growth of barnacles and green stuff on the hull. Three days of scraping barnacles and marine growth from the hull, rudder and waterline followed. We quietly swapped books with Matt and Kristina on “Yotty”, another Aussie boat.
VHF channel 68 is the communication link for our anchorage. Daily, we hear accents from around the world, Australia, New Zealand, UK, South Africa and other languages like French, Italian, German, Russian etc., exchanging advice on maintenance, routes, etc.
The UN informed Michelle our daughter that her 10 month posting to PNG has been put on hold, in fact, all UN personnel in PNG are being repatriated to Australia. Having sold her car the week before, she moves into Karen’s house in Newcastle, taking on the posts of cook, housemaid, gardener and setting up a bar on Karen’s back porch.
Week 2: The authorities announced that the quarantine/self isolation period in Martinique is extended by two weeks until the 15th April. We follow the reports of the cases worldwide with shock and note that Martinique has 80 reported cases of Covid-19 and one death to date. This is small compared to China, Italy and the USA, but worth the quarantine effort. Fortunately, we have good mobile phone and data reception to stay abreast of the news.
In our beautiful anchorage, we read many books, swim a lot, Annie paddle boards and do her exercises every day. I make an effort to brush my teeth before midday. A big event occurs when a huge stingray jumps out of the water. Also, some really big turtles are swimming around the boat and looking at us inquisitively. We receive very funny emails from around the world, trying to put a humorous spin on the quarantine lifestyle.
I listen to Jim Petrie’s extensive collection of music which he kindly downloaded for me in Cape Town, 14 months ago. I enjoy the Aussie legends, the artist previously known as Johnny – John Farnham, Jimmy Barnes, Ian Moss, Joe Camilleri and the Black Sorrows – and the many artists we have listened to at the Manly Boat Shed, the Basement and other venues in Sydney. At sunset each evening, a talented saxophonist on a nearby boat plays his instrument to big applause from the surrounding boats – we have become a village.
My own lame effort at humour occurs when I look at our milk carton one morning, thinking about the Bovine community. Picture these bulls looking at their “Playbull” magazine, lusting after this “Playcow” of the month.
Each morning a lovely young couple, Juliette and Guerric (Licensed Artisans Gourmands) comes around on their rubber duck with their masks, gloves and disinfectant, offering delicious warm baguettes and croissants, fresh fruit and veg, beer and wine for sale. We support them, saving us the risk and effort to motor out to the supermarket. Alcohol consumption increases and each evening at 8pm, the fleet at anchor blows their foghorns and this cacophony grows over time as pots and pans for drums, join the foghorns.
At the end of March, the start of week 3 of quarantine, I do my daily check of the daily Covid-19 data and note with shock that worldwide cases have doubled to over 800,000 in two weeks, with nearly 40,000 deaths. Martinique’s cases increased from 80 and one death to 119 and two deaths over the same period. We may have to stay here longer than the 15th April! We will keep you posted. Stay safe everyone!