Sunday, July 2, 2017

Pardon My French

Ahhh what a beautiful morning! We were up with the sun and under way early.  We've got a long day ahead of us and if we can, we would like to continue on past the northern anchorages on Martinique and sail all the way down to St. Anne.

We've got another perfect forecast, 15-17 knot winds, fair seas... Let's do it!

Calm waters in the lee of Dominica

So far so good...

We had no chance of simply sailing and escaping Dominica...  The crazy clocking winds came from every direction and from four knots to somewhere in the 20s... We had to motorsail to keep the speed up against an adverse current...

We knew that it would be different once we passed the southern point and got out into the open water between Dominica and Martinique...

But dang!  It hit us hard!  We had more sail up than we needed and when the true wind hit us the boat took off like a shot!  I thought it was kind of fun, but Jezabelle wasn't happy.

She began tossing her breakfast and other things... and for a while there it looked like a massacre!  Bruce was working on reefing the main and came back to help me get Jezabelle settled...

Goodbye Dominica!  We'll be back!
We considered briefly leaving the sails as they were, but we really were going too fast...  My though was that once we got away from the island things would ease up a bit... and they did.  A bit.

The seas were about as big as I want them for an easy sail.  Once we got a second reef  in the main and rolled the jib and raised the hanked on blade, we were very comfortable.

Occasional big roller
I took about 30 pictures trying to get one of this Boobie that was circling our boat...
Saw a couple of boats heading north.  I wouldn't want to be sailing north in these winds. 
Same boat on the upside of the swell!

Of course things settled considerably with Martinique to protect us.  The waves got a bit worse... and then everything was wonderful.

We had made super-good time and there was no question of stopping in St. Pierre... we would continue on, if not to St. Anne, then to one of the other small anchorages between here and there.

St Pierre?
Petite Ans d'Arlette
By early afternoon I was looking at the chart for possible anchorages.  Petite Ans d'Arlette looked like a good one.  We dropped sails and motored in... It was a little tricky, there were some mooring balls and I wasn't sure about a fish farm that was supposed to be in the area... I couldn't see it.

We chose a ball, put up our Q-flag and cleaned up the carnage from our boisterous ride.  With the dinghy on the davits, there wasn't enough time to get it into the water and make it to shore in time to clear into the country.  Morning would be soon enough.  We were tired but elated!  What an exciting day sailing!

Fishermen pulling in their nets amongst the mooring balls!  Where IS that fish farm???

Lots of Saharan Dust made a mysterious sunset...

The night was gorgeous... The lights from the houses blanketed the hillside and all was quiet.  There was no roll in the anchorage... I though there might be.  The best part of all is that this mooring ball is FREE!!!


The next morning I awoke with that familiar "where am I" feeling... Yesterday we turned another page and today we rise to embrace a new country!  The sweet sound of church bells sets the tone of welcome... to France!

We hurried through our morning routine and splashed the dinghy... without breakfast.  This is a French island... I KNOW there will be a bakery!

To our right...
To our left...
Turn right here and it's just ahead on the right...
No luck finding anyone who spoke English.  We found the tiny little hole-in-the wall internet cafe that housed the French Clearance computer.

Thankfully I carry the clearance paperwork from St. Martin as a cheat sheet.... so soon we were done, paid our one Euro and somehow I was able to ask if there was a bakery here... AND somehow I was able to kind of understand the directions to get there!
Really???  Sandwicherie???

If you see this place on Google maps, you can thank me.  I added it!
We took the one tiny table in the bakery and turned to the menu on the wall behind the counter.

We ended up ordering in French by sight and sign language... I didn't know what anything on the menu was anyway... and it ALL looked so good!

The woman there was very nice and indulged my attempts to speak her language with a warm smile.  We sat and began eating by the open window... and it started to rain!  I closed the window and went back up to the counter to buy all of the quiches she had!  They were heavenly!

We ate until we could eat no more and then watched the falling rain. Waving goodbye to Madame, we made a dash for it during a lull...

There is supposed to be a small grocery at the other end of this block, but we found the place and it looks as if it is permanently closed.

The rain began with renewed effort to drive us back to our dry and toasty boat...

Nice seawall park

Leaving Petit Anse d’Arlet in the morning, we cautiously made our way past the fish farm. Interesting… Wonder what kind of fish they are farming in there???
Floating fish farm

The weather was fine until we got further south along the coast. We could see huge rainclouds up ahead and hoped we could miss them…

We didn’t even try raising sails in anticipation of the last miles being straight upwind to St. Anne…

We passed between Diamond rock and the mainland. This singular uprising is said to be a prime SCUBA spot but I wouldn’t want to try to get near it unless conditions were dead calm… which they were not.
Diamond Rock.  Yup.  It's a rock!

We motored slowly upwind, grateful for the flat seas as we watched ominous balls of rain obscure all as they moved past us on our left and right…

We almost made it to St. Anne unscathed… We got hit with one deluge but it moved off by the time we reached the anchorage… We anchored at the back of the pack in about 17 ft because of our need to run the noisy generator.

Rain continued on through the evening so we stayed onboard and watched the dramatic view. Curtains of rain moved by to our north, most missing us, a few hitting… This was the day we became fed up with our generator situation.

Rain is coming!

Bruce had pushed off the decision to replace our recently deceased in-house generator back in Puerto Rico. He said he would do fine using the portable generator. Since then we have bought new (crappy) batteries and a second, stronger portable generator… just trying to keep up with our energy needs.

Since Puerto Rico, Bruce’s life has been a misery of moving the two generators in and out of the protection of the bimini every time it rains. When it’s raining we have to run it beneath the bimini… We have to chain them to the rail with rain-covers… Gassing them up in rolling seas is a PITA. We always park at the back of the pack and STILL have people hurling insults at us because we have to run the noisy things at night if we want to have enough battery power to last until morning… then we have to run it in the morning as well. We are persona-non-grata…It’s making Bruce’s life miserable, almost to the point of deciding to stop cruising!!!

So here, with intermittent rain causing us havoc again… we made the decision. As soon as we reached St. Lucia we would order a new generator and install it before we left there.

This new resolution made us look forward to leaving Martinique and so our time here was sadly cut off at the knees! A weather window opened up for us just three days away… We would have to enjoy le Marin and St. Anne quickly!

More rain fell throughout the afternoon keeping us on the boat. We watched as the curtains of rain moved by only a short distance away. Amazing. It looked like le Marin was getting clobbered so we were happy we stopped here! 

The next morning we decided to escape the rolling swell and a forecast of a squally day and find refuge with the other hundreds of boats in the cul-de-sac that is le Marin. We had a hard time getting the anchor set the first time, but moved out to a small hole in deeper water and got settled.

Eager to do some shopping at the chandlery and pick up some inexpensive French groceries, we dinghied ashore where we met up with friends on Adventure US 2. The marina complex is huge with hundreds of boats berthed there… Probably that many again were moored or anchored in this huge, well protected basin. As protected and calm as it is, I was nervous about being surrounded by so many boats in any kind of a blow.

We had a nice happy hour that spilled over into a hunt for a dinner place… We moved to a small beach-side restaurant and took our seats on rickety furniture on the sand just a few feet from the water’s edge. The more fancy place we tried first required a reservation and many of the other little places were closed. I was secretly happy with this choice. It’s totally more our style!

Ordering was an adventure with everything in French. But somehow my ear and mind were becoming more accepting of the language and I was able to order for us… and we actually received what we thought we ordered! Yay! We relaxed and told our friends about our plans to buy and install a generator. Michael was quick to offer his generous assistance and we were happy to accept. I think if Bruce and I have to install this thing ourselves, there might be a divorce! We did the water maker alone… but I’m not sure a second project of this magnitude is in our future…. 

The following day was a rainout so we remained in the anchorage. Had we not been lured here at the promise of provisioning at great prices, we would have returned to St. Anne. The water out there is so much more pretty and I really want to visit the town!

When the rain finally stopped, we did a quick grocery run and filled our diesel tanks, then escaped back to the anchorage just off the beach of the resort in St. Anne.

Unfortunately… it was a Sunday and very little was going on in this tiny tourist town! So… we walked the streets and decided to get popsicles instead of stopping for Happy hour at the one restaurant/bar that was open.  

After that, we were pretty much done. There wasn’t much else to do with everything closed and our imminent departure in the morning.  

The weather window was open and we wanted to fly through it! Since we cleared in and listed tomorrow as our intended departure date, we didn’t clear out officially. I don’t know if that was OK, but figured since our paperwork listed the correct departure date, we would plead ignorance on the other end if it turned out to be a problem. 

We didn’t give this island the time it deserves… but we hope to return after hurricane season to do it right! This time, Martinique was a pleasant but brief blip on our radar. 

The brief glimpse of life on Martinique turned out to be rather pleasant.  The French islands are wonderful, so liberal and inexpensive.  The one problem is that they all speak FRENCH!  I vow this summer to learn to speak it well enough to get by more handily...  for now all I can ask is that they pardon my French!

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