March 12 - March 16, 2008: St. Pierre to Le Marin and back to St. Pierre, Martinique
We had a wonderful night, rather calm with just a little bit of rolling. The weather was glorious, as mostly. Even Mount Pele, the one that actually killed over 30,000 people in the early 1900s when it erupted (only one person survived, badly burnt. He was the sole prisoner and, therefore protected by the thick prison walls, made it out alive, while the rest of the town of St. Pierre, perished. They show the ruins of a theater and some other sites from those days, and though we had taken a formal tour and Dietmar went there about two years ago, we all took our stroll there the night before. It was great and brought back lots of memories.) showed himself without any cloud cover. We both took pictures, Juergen even video.
Shortly past 7 a.m., we had breakfast in the cockpit and left the anchorage at exactly 7:35 a.m. Of course, the wind.... you know the story. The engine kept staying on until we passed the island to turn East. Before we managed to get to "Le Diamant", we even had both sails up, engine off. What a pleasure, unfortunately short-lived. After about an hour, we had to take the genoa back in and motor the rest of the way. Before we knew it, we were anchored in Le Marin, close to where we had been for about a month in 2007/2008. What a pleasure to be there.
After lunch, we took the dinghy to shore to check in. Customs was closed (they nowadays are open only from 7 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.), so we had a drink, went to the chandlery as Dietmar was looking for an LED light. However, the price of Euro 51 for one light was just too much. So, Dietmar just bought a regular light for the stern light. We went to the car rental agency. It was closed not to open before 4 p.m. So we went for a walk through town - in the rain. By the time we got back at 4 p.m. and ordered the car for tomorrow, the rain finally stopped. We took the dinghy to the supermarket and bought a bunch of things before heading back to Romany Life for a nice drink and a small jar of pate, served with baguette and cornichons.
Dietmar had suggested to prepare his famous "Spaetzle", home-made. So we made goulash, red cabbage and the Spaetzle. The pressure cooker did not work very well, but the goulash was tender after all, we had enough gravy, lots of red cabbage and the wonderful Spaetzle. Now we are sitting together, talking, listening to AIDA - one of our favorite operas, and I am happily glued to my computer...
Tomorrow, we will drive around the island to show Dietmar Martinique. He had not been here ever (except that short stay in St. Pierre), and on Monday, we will be leaving going back North since I need to be back in Sint Maarten by March 24 for my flight back home. What a shame. This trip is so much fun.
We were suppposed to be at the car rental place at 9:30 a.m. because the lady had an appointment with another customer at 9 a.m. I suggested to be there at 9 after all, just in case the customer did not show up on time. Dietmar and I went to customs. It was very easy as he had most of the information necessary for check in on a memory stick. The lady was very helpful and within minutes we were "legal" and that without any charge. Amazing.
While the gentlemen went to the car rental place, I sat down in my old hang out from two years ago, the Mango Bay bar to finally get WIFI connectivity and the ability to upload my pictures and my blog. Unfortunately, timing was not on my side. There were too many people, and the connection was so slow that nothing worked. So, here I am, sitting in St. Pierre again (more about that later), still not having been able to upload except once.
I had barely gotten my usual club soda as "WIFI payment" when Dietmar came to pick me up. Juergen had already signed the rental contract and was handed the car. Before 9:30, we were on our way to explore the island. It ws particularly great fun because Dietmar had really not seen anything but St. Pierre before, and Le Marin was the most Southern point his boat had ever been, at least with him (who knows where the former owner took her). Our first stop was "Lau Mauny", the rum distillery where we had taken a tour and purchased rum two years ago. We loaded up again - at much better prices and higher quality than in the super markets - and off we went, cutting through the middle of the island to get to the East Coast of Martinique. The roads are very narrow and very winding. Still, Juergen drove very nicely and we all had a good time and were in great spirits - like all the time on this trip - so far. We went through little towns like Vauclin, Le Francois, St. Robert and Trinite, even took a slight detour onto the peninsula "La Caravelle" where we had a nice little lunch (Dietmar treated us) at a restaurant right by the beach with a gorgeous view over the Atlantic, part of the peninsula. Life is good...
We cut across the island of Martinique towards Fort-de-France (the capital) but continued to Schoelcher, a former politician who is well-known for fighting slavery. On the way "home" to Le Marin, we stopped at a Carrefour, remember the super market chain we went to when we wanted some nice delicacies around Christmas time two years ago?, and bought meat, hotdogs, vegetables, fruit, dairy, some croissants and other goodies for our return trip towards St. Maarten. We filled the tank in Saintes Luces and were ready to go back to the boat - car returned, all food, computer, cameras and rum in the dinghy just a few minutes before sunset. It was a perfect day. We loved to see the island again but also many new places we did not have a chance to visit last time, and Dietmar was very happy about getting to the know island. His highlight of the day was a brief visit to a rum distillery in operation - unfortunately, they did not permit visitors, but outside their factory, they had many old boilers and other heavy machinery displayed, dating back to 1909 and one even to 1900. He explained everything to us as he, as a young engineer, had to manufacture many of these types of machines. So, I had to take a number of pictures of Dietmar and some of the two gentlemen in front of various of these machines. It was funny to see Dietmar's face light up like that of a kid in a candy store.
Once everything was packed away, we sat down for our usual cocktail hour, talked, Dietmar enjoyed his new logbook which Juergen had found as his old one was very complicated to use and hard to read. Later on we just had a salad for dinner, given that we had had a fairly big lunch. While we all were fairly tired, we continued talking till about 11 p.m. This gave me time to prepare the potato salad for the next day. Dietmar had fixed his pressure cooker so that the potatoes and eggs were cooked in no time. We were both happy that it worked so well.
We got up early - Dietmar took his usual early swim - had breakfast in the cockpit (yoghurt, fresh fruit, coffee) and got underway towards St. Pierre again just about a few minutes before 8 a.m. It was a glorious day. The wind was breezy and from the right direction - YES!!! it was happening - finally. We all were quite excited because we all were tired of motoring though we had had little choice before. Today was a perfect day for sailing - first out of the Southern part of the island, past the "Rocher du Diamant", the Diamond Rock. We went out off shore a little further than necessary, just to ensure that we would not lose steam. We were flying at over 7 know with just the genoa sail - NO!!! engine. Even when we finally changed course for one tack towards St. Pierre, we continued sailling at around 6.5 knots and as we got closer to our destination, the wind picked up to about 23 knots true or about 29 knots apparant. We were all very happy, found a nice anchoring spot close to shore to be as protected as possible from the wind and the swell.
The GPS seemed to have an issue as it kept losing is satellite connections. The alarm went off every few minutes, and Dietmar got very concerned. We decided to have lunch first, then turn on the washing machine for our sheets, towels etc. and then to tackle the repair. Right now, the washing machine is happily doing its job, Dietmar and Juergen are working on the GPS connections while I am doing my favorite thing. I wished I had WIFI... you know my issue. I have not been able to check emails or anything else for this matter. I hope this will change very soon. Otherwise, I will be home before you all can catch up with what we have been up to during those three weeks. A propos, it is amazing, but today is my "half-point", meaning, we have been underway for ten days, and I will have to get off the boat in 10 days. I will do so with regret because, so far, it has been wonderful.
The men want to go swimming later on, I want to finish all my photography work relating to the website so that, when the moment of a good WIFI connection arrives, I am fully ready to upload.
We will have potato salad and German hamburgers tonight, and tomorrow, we are planning on sailing (hopefully) to Portsmouth, Dominica, again. Maybe, just maybe, we will go from there to Montserrat, but that will be a very long trip. We'll see. It depends on the weather, on how we all feel, and at what time we want to depart. It also depends on the exact mileage. We have not done our navigation yet.
It has been blowing quite hard all afternoon so that we actually hung our bedsheets (after washing) onto the shrouts rather than the lifelines. This way, they "fly" with the wind and the risk of losing them is significantly less. Within about one hour everything including thick towels, was dry. The sheets smell so freshh and wonderful from all the sun and wind.
Dietmar just invited a couple for drinks tonight. They took part in the Caribe 1500, the regatta with which he usually sails South from Virginia. They happen to anchor right near us and he came over to say hello. His boat name is "Pasha". I had to laugh since I call Juergen that at times...
They arrived at 5:30 (Larry and Pat Pringle from "Pasha"), very nice people. We had a great time. I loved their white wine - the others drank rum drinks, soft drinks. They left for dinner as they wanted to celebrate Larry's birthday (March 16). We had dinner (potato salad and German hamburgers). Dietmar washed the dishes and cleaned up. We went to bed early.