Friday 13 January 2017

Bon Voyage Chris

On Thursday 12th January we pulled the anchor up and said good-bye to Chris. We were starting our journey north to Dominica, albeit on a very short first leg up the coast to what turned out to be Les Anse D'Arlets although we had intended to get to the next bay, Grand Anse D'Arlets. Chris was waiting for Susan to arrive before deciding on his longer term itinerary which may be to cruise the Caribbean this year or head for Panama for the Pacific and eventually home to New Zealand. There was therefore a strong possibility I might not see him again for some considerable time. Chris has been an enormous help to me preparing the boat over the years and it is highly unlikely I would have been able to undertake the trip this year with the boat in a fit state without his help. I therefore have a lot to thank him for!

We had planned on leaving at midday to give us plenty of daylight time to make Grand Anse but a prolonged trip ashore for breakfast, a look round and some shopping meant we weren't ready to go until after 1300. Then just as we started getting the anchor up a heavy rain shower arrived and so we had lunch instead. We eventually got the anchor up at 1400 and headed over to Chris to say our good-byes. We had a very pleasant sail (the best yet) – a real joy - in variable winds sometimes making 7 knots – on a flat sea up the coast and past Diamond Rock - the scene of Nelson's sailors' annoying the French for a couple of months. Closing on the Anse D' Arlets the wind became more fickle and our speed fell to 2 knots. We would not make port before dark at that speed, so reluctantly the engine went on and we made for the nearer Les Anse D'Artlet and dropped anchor just before dusk.

A handsome Brigantine lay just behind us and the town looked pretty as the town lights began to show. We decided we would go ashore in the morning to explore and had dinner on board – beef-burgers and rice with 'Ratatouille le Martinique' cooked by Mick and very good it was too, helped down with Rum Punch under a full moon.

The next morning – Friday 13th (!) I went snorkelling around the nearby rocks (see below) before breakfast. There were some very impressive - what I took to be coral structures - that looked like the deep sea vents one sees on TV documentries – many the size of a milk churn (sorry only those of us of a certain age with a country background will make sense of that) or a road bollard and looked like they had been “thrown” by a very large Potter! I also saw large stuctures that looked like brains and a wide variety of tropical fish albeit not in huge numbers. I saw other corals too – both fans and finger types. Many of the structures, especially the milk churns appeared to be dead but there were patches of live coral too.

After breakfast in the cockpit (very pleasant) we took the dinghy into town and moored up on the dinghy dock. 

The Martinique authorities seem to have gone out of their way to provide one in every location one might want to land – very helpful. First on the agenda was a cool beer so we walked along the beach and settled in a beach bar with the sea lapping at our feet and ordered a couple of beers.

After a couple and despite our late breakfast we started to feel hungry and were delighted to find we had settled into a bar/restaurant offering the best value menu we had yet come across. A three course menu for 16 Euro. The main course was Pork Raggu and of very generous proportions. After lunch we were well and truly stuffed. The options seemed to be collapse on the beach or go for a walk round the point to Grand Anse D'Arlet – our original destination. We bravely decided on the latter and arrived within about half an hour after a pleasant walk. 

On the way we saw further evidence that "our" Egret (that had landed on the boat during our passage) was either from Martinique or was on his way there (max zoom the below and in the middle of the shot you will just be able to make out one of a number of Egrets)...

The bay was much more crowded with with boats than Les Anse D'Arlets and whilst the beach was lined with plenty of bars/restaurants there was no town to speak of and we were pleased we had diverted to Les Anse D'Arlets instead. Our impression of a somewhat second rate place was reinforced by the not cold drinks we were served with at the bar we chose! After that we walked back and looked around the town...

to find we had missed the last of the fresh bread – we bought some croissants instead and went in search of a beer to cool down. We found a very cold and very cheep beer at a locals' bar near the front which only served to underline our smugness at having chosen Les Anse D'Arlets as our port. The Mate was in particularly smug mood...

After that and a quick stop to capture the sunset (Arctic Smoke is the last mast on the right!)...

it was back to the boat – where, still too stuffed to eat further I wrote this post, Mick did some sewing and started investigating our failed searchlight. At the conclusion of writing he had tracked down that the plug and socket did not like eachother!

Tomorrow we'll spend here. By Sunday the north easterly winds should have returned and we should be heading for Dominica!

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