Martinique is not only a French island, but actually a part of France. For us cruising sailors this means that we get to take advantage of all things French, as we hop from French island to French island. France ships food, cheese, meats, wine, etc to Martinique and do not add additional taxes. So what it really means is that Pam can buy her fav bottle of Sancerre for $12 instead of $28 (at the Whole Foods)!!! We love France!
With 20+ knots of breeze and 9-10 foot swells off our beam predicted, we set off cautiously from St. Lucia for Martinique. Sailing along the leeward coasts of all of the Caribbean islands is usually fairly benign with the topography of the islands as protection. But, things can get a little crazy in between the islands. It is pure Atlantic Ocean with waves and winds to match. This day was no exception. We had about 2 hours of rocking and rolling with strong winds and waves. But, arrived in Anse Mitan – a bay in the central part of Martinique – in about 5 hours.
Anse Mitan is fun beach town across the bay from the largest city and capital of Martinique, Fort de France. Fort de France is the home of Martinique’s famed Carnival. This is one of the reasons we headed to Martinique. We were going to catch up with other cruising friends for our first Carnival experience in the Caribbean.
Six of us grabbed the ferry from Pointe du Bout over to Fort de France on Fat Tuesday in time for the parade celebrating the Day of the Devil. Red was the color of the day with lots of wild costumes and colorful original interpretations. Our heads were spinning – there was music, singing, drums pounding all around us!
Friends from SV Alegria and MV Iriana.
Exhausted from Carnival celebration, we all headed down the coast of Martinique for St. Anne’s a few days later. St. Anne’s is a huge sheltered anchoring bay where hundreds of sailboats put down their anchors – sometimes for weeks at a time. The quaint town of St. Anne’s has restaurants, bars, laundry, markets, a beach – everything you might want or need. There is also the added bonus of Marin, just around the corner. Marin is a small town, but one of the largest yachting centers in all of the Caribbean. There are haul-out facilities, all kinds of marine stores and marine technicians for everything imaginable. We had our rigging adjusted and electronics updated and were thrilled with the quality of workmanship.
The next days in Ste. Anne’s were spent working on the boat, socializing, provisioning, eating, sight-seeing and a bit of hiking.
Experienced riggers in Marin repaired a sub-par rigging tune done in Antigua.
One day a group of us rented a van and did a bit of sightseeing, but mostly shopping. We hit every home goods, sporting goods and home improvement store we could find. Their stores were better than Home Depot and Dick’s Sporting Goods!!
We hiked down the coast from Ste. Anne’s 6 miles – through several interesting smaller beaches – Anse Trabaud, Pointe Catherine, and others culminating in a magnificent white sand beach, Grande Anse Des Salines. And, we had lunch and drinks at the end. Well worth it!
8 sailboats got together for a two stop night of fun. First, cocktails and appetizers on Mira and then, Mexican pot luck dinner on Freebird.
Grande Anse D’Arlet was our last anchorage in Martinique. We spent two nights there alone just winding down from all the merriment of the previous weeks. There is a little village with a white sand beach and magnificent mountains surrounding. We spent a lovely weekend there – hiking up Morne Champagne, snorkeling for turtles, relaxing on the boat.