We made it into the French West Indies this week, and spent 6 days in Martinique, which is a department of France. The natives spoke fluent French, but almost no English, and were in general very friendly. The exception to this was a few of the younger males with NBA gear sulking around the streets and one crazy German guy in our anchorage that told everyone to get the “F” out of his bay every time someone pulled in. He got so mad at one boat, he pulled up his anchor, moved over to anchor within a few feet of the boat, screamed at him for a while, pulled up anchor and then went back to his spot. I’m not sure what his issue was, but did notice that no one invited him over for cocktails while we were there.
French Customs and Immigration is hilarious. We checked in and out at the same time, which it turns out you’re not supposed to do, and the women behind the desk didn’t look at passports, drivers license, boat documentation, my face; nothing at all. I don’t think they really care whether you even show up.
We spent our first night in St. Pierre where, in 1902, Mt Pelee erupted and burned almost 30,000 people to death in a pyroclastic flow of hot volcanic gases over 1800 degrees F travelling at 450 miles per hour. There were only two survivors: a cobbler and a murderer in his cell. The town is still a mess 111 years later and has never really recovered.
The anchorage there is very difficult since water shallow enough to anchor is only 200 feet from shore and if the winds shift, you can end up on the beach. You must also stay out of the way of the local fisherman. As there is no way to know in advance where they will cast their nets each day, you are often asked to move and must do so immediately. We moved immediately.
Next stop was Fort de France, the capital of Martinique. It is a bustling city with great shopping, restaurants and, best of all, French bakeries! I lived on chocolate croissants for five full days, and never saw Ann without a baguette in her hand. The anchorage there is great, other than the Nazi war criminal, and is located right in town. We were anchored under the old Fort St Louis built in 1638 which houses the French naval forces, even today.
After six days in France, we bid adieu and headed of to British St. Lucia. We had about a 7 hour sail in mostly good weather. After being anchored near rain forests on our last few islands, we arrived to a welcome site, one of our first sunny days in almost four weeks.
Next up, St. Vincent, Bequia, Grenada and our final destination this summer, Trinidad. Only 210 nautical miles and three weeks left before we fly home to the US for a two month visit. We are really looking forward to visiting family and friends.
Please comment if you visit, so we know you were here!