As I have said before we love these French islands.
Upon our arrival to St Anne anchorage in the southern shores of Martinique we notice the incredible number of boats here. More than any other anchorage we have seen on our travels. AND there are actually 2 anchorages in this area one near the large shipping and boating bay Le Marin and the one we are in near the village of St Anne. There are every size and shape of cruising vessel..catamarans from 30-60 feet, monohulls with cutter, sloop, and ketch rigs, cruising motor yachts, and mastless, portless, washed up and apparently abandoned boats in all parts of the anchorages.
It was a nearly 4-hour trip from Anse Chaudrie around the large Diamant rock (where the British actually set up a fort during the wars to fight off the French!) If the picture comes through you can see this was a feat next to building the pyramids in getting cannons and equipment up this rock!)
Sunset with Diamante Rock
We feel a bit at home here as we have stayed a few times. We know where to get our groceries, The Le Marin market we use has a huge dinghy dock! We can even take a grocery cart out to the dock and load right into the dinghy…this is a luxury that only a cruiser can appreciate. Well, imagine that you head off to the grocery and have to bring enough bags (they don’t give them to you here) to load up your groceries. You have to make sure that you don’t buy more than you can carry that day without a cart sometimes 2-3 blocks ….in the hot sun…if you are not smart enough to go shopping early in the morning or late afternoon…thus I digress), we know where the chandleries are for our boat parts and supplies, and where we can check in and out of the country the easiest. What we are looking forward to is seeing more of this part of the island from a hiking standpoint. We look forward to a walk to Grand Anse, the most beautiful and idyllic beach on the island.
Day 1 – We must tend to our windlass.
We think that we may need a new motor and possibly a new windlass. So, we go shopping. We make our rounds to several of the specialty marine stores in Le Marin and price them out. We also look for new and used motors that could work as well. The last place we stopped, we inquired about availability of a motor and the nice fellow (that is there to sell things ) actually said, “did you take the motor apart and clean the brushes?” Well that was all we needed to hear, maybe it can be done. A little elbow grease and she can be repaired. We made a few other stops in that sailor’s paradise of equipment, looking at new chain for our dinghy, Patch’s anchor, chaps (or cover) for her, and a few other odds and ends.
We also met one of our sister Caliber boats anchored just ahead of us, Honey Rider. We introduced ourselves to Tom and Sabrina and actually got more information about the “goings-on” in St Anne. There is such fun in meeting folks with the same boat, you just feel like family.
Day 2 – St Anne – Windlass Repair
This piece of equipment has given me fits for the last few months. I literally need to have a hammer at the bow to “tap gently” on the motor housing when it slows up a bit. According to the resident windlass and motor expert, Mike, this loosens up some of the debris that is causing the “brushes” to fail. (lesson #1 small motors….brushes do not have bristles..they are pieces of metal that brush against a rotating cylinder in succession to make the thing work!) So, when I am letting out chain or bringing it in and the windlass slows or comes to a halt, a few taps gets her running again.
Mike removes the motor and the moving parts of the windlass and literally takes it all apart to find the “brushes are coated with debris, barely making contact” and there is oil in the motor thicker than black strap molasses. He polishes the brushes and drains the oil and replaces it with fresh clean 90 weight stuff. Once the housing is back together (nearly 5 hours later) he decides we might need a gasket or 2 to finish the project….we need to go back to Le Marin for this. We had seen the repair/maintenance kit for $80. Which is quite a savings over the price of a new windlass at $1200!
Day 3- St Anne- Windlass Works!
After a nice morning with our new friends on Honey Rider, talking everything Caliber and more. They were a wealth of information on sailing the Caribbean, communications and gave us information on other Caliber boats in the Caribbean. We left to get a few things accomplished like cleaning the boat and getting the windlass back together, with great hopes it worked better. It was a glorious moment when, after just a few slang words, Mike had the motor and housing back in place and it pulled the anchor chain up and down like a child with a new yo-yo! It is times like this I am thankful for the small motor knowledge and ability to tackle and fix many things that my husband has acquired from his dad and his experience! For it is truly vital that we are able to put down and retrieve an anchor successfully. Whilst Mike was busy at the bow I spent a few hours of scrubbing the boat with Dawn detergent, I had the fiberglass hull cleaned of the salt accumulation and the green hair-like algae growth at the waterline. We were happy with the accomplishments that day.
Day 4 – St Anne – Sunday Funday
We celebrate the day by doing laundry in the morning. We had a few loads of bedding to get done from a few weeks ago and knew this was a good place to get that done…well so did many others. The little laundry just up from the beach at Anse Caritan was busy! We waited for a couple of machines and spent 2 hours getting this done. We also met a couple that we had made acquaintance with last year, and come to find out he was a telecommunications specialist. He knows HAM radios! In fact, he was THE person that installed the radio on our boat when it was with the previous owners as Sea Kite! We arranged through his wife to talk at some point about my concerns.
Our afternoon was spent with several other cruiser couples from Canada, US and Germany playing bocce ball and swimming at the calm Anse Caritan beach. We joined the German couple, Isla and Stefan, for the evening on their boat Sabir to discuss their world travels through the Pacific and East. Many thousands of miles later they encourage us to head to the Pacific, head west!
Day 5 – St Anne
We rarely stay 5 days in one location unless something needs fixing. Our fixing is done and we take a rest day. We look at the weather and find that there is a window in the next 4-5 days for making a trip further south on our journey to Grenada. It is a Monday and our plans are to make the move by Friday.
Day 6 – St Anne -Hiking Day
We join some of the same bocce ball clan for a hike up a mountain. We get on a bus for $2.50/person and ride for 15 minutes. We exit and have a good 20-minute walk up a country road before we arrive at the trailhead. We hike about and hour to a gorgeous overlook and then descend back to the hot country road and the bus stop for our return.
Honey Rider and Lost Loon
We reward ourselves with cool drinks, beers and roti. Mike and I share one of these unique wrapped delicacies. They are meat and vegetables in a thick sauce wrapped by a dough. They are usually made of beef chicken or fish. The thick sauce is spicy with turmeric, garlic and other herbs.
Upon our return to the boat, we are lucky to have Denis over to look at our HAM radio and give me a few tips and he helps us set up a connection so that I can send position reports to WINLINK.org. If you access this site, look for N9ANC (my call sign) and you can see our latest position in the Caribbean! (you will find out that we are just a few steps ahead of this blog!)
Denis the HAM master at work
Day 7 – St Anne – just another day
We find other things to reorganize, defrost the freezer (because the door won’t close properly), and work on the HAM radio. We continue to watch the weather for that “window” to head to St Lucia.
Day 8 – St Anne – Really, we are here 8 days??
We awake and feel the need to make a move, but not today as the weather is still a bit unsettled with showers and squalls. Winds are up in the 20’s and seas quite high with 7-9 ft waves. It is not impossible to make the trip we need to, but we are looking for more pleasant conditions. And, unless we were getting paid for the trip its not worth the grand hassle. So, we decide to get our hike to Grand Anse des Saline accomplished. It is nearly 4 km there and 4km back, so we start out after a sufficient lunch. We enjoy the hike around the southern tip of this big island and appreciate the wind and waves out on the open ocean. We swim off the white sand beach and rest under huge palm trees in the stiff breeze. We swim again after returning to the boat and our hot hike back. After which we head off in the early evening to stock up on the last of the French wine, Belgium beer, pate and cheese we will be able get in the islands.
Day 9 – St Anne – Friday the 13
We awake to squalls and heavy rain showers that frequent the morning. After listening to the weather report from Chris parker and perusing our other reliable weather sites we make a decision to leave in 24 hours. There is an old sailor’s wives’ tale that you never leave for a passage on a Friday, and this being Friday the 13th we postpone the trip. Nah, we needed to check a few things we had forgotten to and need the day to check out with Martinique customs.
We spend our last evening in the French West Indies at a local bar listening to local music with our new friends Isla and Stefan on Sabir.
Day 10 -Time to leave!
Retiring the French flag for the season
We are awake to get weather, make coffee and have the anchor stowed by 0815! We hastily motor by and say our goodbyes to Sabir and Honey Rider and we are off to St Lucia. We have a 20-mile run to Marigot Bay. We max our speed at 7.5 knots in 18 knot winds with 22 knot gusts with a second reef in the main and partial headsail. We see frequent waves 5-7 with a few to 8 or 9. It was a nice sail and it seemed to feel so good to be back out in the water after so long at anchor.
Upon arrival we make 2 crazy anchoring attempts (because it is mostly rock and rubble on the bottom unless you find a small spit of sand), but the most rewarding part was the excellent performance of the windlass!
We watch the relatively small anchorage fill up at dusk and I finally make a radio contact with my uncle in Kentucky!
Next up Bequia…a small island that is really a Caribbean secret!