17 February, 2013

Martinique - A Windward Island

Martinique is the most northern of the Windward island in the Caribbean chain.  It is known as the Island of Flowers but I did not see many. The island with the exception of a few years has been French since colonization and still is very French.  What that means is that a cruiser traveling north can stock up on all things French which is of course wine and cheese.  When I arrived soon after New Year the wine shelves had been cleaned out and the new stock had not arrived from France however over the week I stayed the stocks were replenished and I was able to get some good Cotes du Rhone and some Bordeaux in bulk and in bottles.  The wine cellar is full and I now have to find an additional storage.
The main harbour is Marin which is just a mess of boats, at anchor, on mooring buoys and attached to many miles of finger wharf.  I chose to anchor near the entrance but quite close to the Leader Price dinghy dock.  Yes this supermarket has its own dinghy dock for cruisers - now that is service although the shelves are just bulk supply so one does not get the refinement of the Carrefour just up the road not that this supermarket is a patch on the ones actually in France but better than the "supermarket" I have seen further south.
After a few days of selective shopping at the above two and Dia I was ready to return to St Anne a large bay just to the east which is a very pleasant anchorage although some times crowded around the dinghy dock and restaurant which has free wifi.
I decided to start the trek north with a short sail along the southern coast.  I passed HMS Diamond Rock - that is right a rock that was declared a ship around 1800.  The crew would hassle the French navy as they came sailing by.  Napoleon was incensed by this rock of a ship and sent one of his admirals to deal with the situation.  Realizing that he could not take the rock by force of arms he used his good understanding of British sailors and sent a small vessel loaded with lots of rum.  The sailors captured the vessel and set about sampling the goods where upon the French attached and killed or escorted away some very drunk British sailors.  Villeneuve - the admiral was the same person to take on Nelson at Trafalgar but he underestimated the leadership of Nelson and on that occasion every man did their duty.
I turned into the great bay of Grande Anse D'Arlet for a second time and picked up a mooring buoy.  I found Harlequinn with James and Roni and Wyuna with Bruce and Gina on board.
The next day I set off north for the most northern anchorage of St Pierre.  The shore is very steep to so there is not much sand to drop the anchor and the wind seems to swing to the north which means that you lie parallel to the beach.  rather disturbing if you dropped the hook when the wind was off shore and the it swung to the north but any way I seemed to get it right.  A large super yacht got it wrong and had to leave just before dawn as they were swinging onto the beach.
I went ashore and took a walk to see how the volcano of Mt Pelee had engulfed the town and its 30,000 residents in 1902. One can now see the old lava flow down the side of the mountain.  Today it is fertile green strip from the top of the volcano right down to the sea.  the lava swept all before it killing all but two people - one a prisoner trapped in the goal.  When and how he was released is not said but he went on to be a major attraction with the Barnems Circus.
The modern town is a two street development running parallel to the high overhanging cliff.  If you walk down the road you can find some old ruins and the jail. Quite interesting.  I understand there is a road up the face of the cliff which one can walk on. It leads to a water channel similar to those in Mediera but I did not have time to find it.  Other say it is a pleasant walk as it follows the contours of the mountain slowly dropping towards the sea.  Another day.
I had an early night and took up the anchor as it was getting light to head towards Dominica and the most southern of the Windward Islands.

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