Wednesday 4 January 2017

New Years Eve to 4th January

New Year's Eve tour of Martinique

Chris picked us up at about 0645 (that was difficult) and we headed up the west coast to Pierre the old capital of the island before it was engulfed in a volcano eruption in 1902. Rumour has it that one of the very few survivors was a prisoner in the local prison!

First stop was the market next to the rebuilt stock exchange. 

Lots of local fruit and veg on sale at prices significantly cheaper than in Le Marin but still not cheap. We bought some stuff to take back. At the time of writing we had tried the avocados, tomatoes and the pineapple. The last was small and much more expensive than at home and to be honest a little disappointing. The Avocado and tomatoes though were superb.

Next stop was the semi renovated Cathedral where the history of the volcano's devastation was displayed and I have tried to summarise that in the photographs below.

Then we drove up the mountain/volcano but unfortunately the weather turned sour and all we could see when we got to the top was this..

After the volcano it was a visit the Rum Distillery/Plantation “Rhum Depaz”. There were of course all sorts of rum related goodies to tempt one. I bought a smallish bottle of mid range rum and hope to get it home or at least keep for a special occasion! The grounds of the Distillery were very attractive.

Then we headed over to the East coast to see the peninsula “Presqu'ile De La Caravelle which is a nature reserve. It was very striking but the weather was once again not conducive to exploration by foot and we therefore resolved to return the next day.

New Years Day

So we returned the next day. The town of La Trinite lies at the beginning of the peninsula and we arrived there around midday in need of refreshment. On the way we had stopped off at Le Robert. We timed it just as Mass was getting under-way in their impressive looking modern church in the centre of town. Not a shop or cafe were open and so we pinned our hopes on La Trinite.

Mass was still underway on our arrival there and the portents were not good. Nearly, all the shops we could see were closed. We hailed a chap standing outside one that was open and asked if there was a cafe open anywhere. He pointed down a very steep the hill so we parked up the car and toddled off. Down the hill we were on the water front and there was cafe after cafe – all closed! We walked on to the end of the street where we found a boulangerie that was open and they had coffee too. So we stoked up on coffee and pastries before heading to the peninsula for our walk.

After another hour's drive some of it along some very rough tracks we arrived in the middle of the peninsula and the nature reserve. We hiked for some three and a half hours through woods up to Phare De Le Caravelle lighthouse and some fantastic views. It wasn't the sunniest of days so the photos aren't great but you get the idea..

The next leg of the hike was along the coastal 'path'. In some places there was not much of a path but we passed a young couple with baby in a sling so if they could handle it so could we. At the top of a cliff a couple of squalls blew in from the sea and so we took shelter behind some trees before carrying on. The path descended into muddy mangroves for a while before heading up through more woods to an old Chateaux which was of course closed.

Monday 2nd January

A day tackling jobs on the boat. I fixed the Genoa roller furling and patched up the tiller that had started to delaminate with screws and glue. Mick tackled the outboard engine which I had totally neglected since Madeira in June 2015. It had had liberal amounts of the Atlantic Ocean splashed all over it that year and of course during this crossing. Anyway surprise, surprise it was totally seized. We squirted liberal amounts of WD40 in the head and left for a day but whilst it could then be moved there was no way it was going to run. It needs dismantling totally and we don't really have the facilities on board to do that. Perhaps we can find a local mechanic but round here most of the boats are huge with equally big tenders and outboards so something like our little 2.5 hp two-stroke Yamaha has probably not been seen for 10 years! Anyway on Wed we reassembled it and put off a decision on what to do to another day.

Tuesday 3rd January

Sharon's Birthday and the first one I have not been around for in 24 years of marriage. I rang her from a sunny Caribbean beach at the south of the Island.

Fortunately my resourceful daughter, Ursula had everything under control and had taken Sharon out shopping earlier in the day and by the time I rang they were back with their haul and Uncle Winston was cooking the Birthday dinner. Most of the family were at home and a good day was had by all thank goodness.

Wednesday 4th January

Another day on boat jobs. Got as far as possible with the outboard as mentioned above and tackled the VHF (Mick did most of the work on both jobs). Towards the end of the passage we had experienced a couple of vessels not replying to our transmissions and given the rubber grommet around the microphone cable into the set had been split I was beginning to wonder whether the set was transmitting. We tested the transmit function with one of our two hand-held sets – nothing! It was beginning to look as if there was a fault. However when we tried the other hand-held everything worked fine – thank goodness (except the hand-held). Mick re-positioned the set so that the grommet was shielded from further damage and I reinforced it with some hosepipe held in place with cable ties.

We spent the afternoon on the Internet trying to plan rendezvous with family and friends. A thankless task!

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