Sometimes You Gotta Stop and Smell the Cheese

posted from Falmouth Harbour, Antigua

LE MARIN/ST. ANNE

On Thursday, March 7, we left Rodney Bay and headed north to Le Marin, Martinique. The sail was nice and easy with calm seas and wind on the beam. Our log shows it took five hours to cover the twenty six miles. In reality we probably spent half an hour motoring around the crowded anchorage looking for a spot. We finally found a spot behind The Dove – the same boat we were anchored behind in Rodney Bay.

We have stopped in Martinique several times, but this is our first visit to the St. Ann/Le Marin area. The towns are on a long inlet on the south side of Martinique. At the mouth of the inlet you pass the village of St. Anne. The anchorage looked a bit crowded, but nice. We continued on into Le Marin. The first impression of Le Marin is that there must be a thousand sailboats there. There are a few reefs and shallows to beware of, but they are easy to miss – just don’t go where there are no boats.

Chart of St. Ann/Le Marin (depth in meters)

Chart of St. Ann/Le Marin (depth in meters)

We settled in, commissioned the dinghy, and went to shore to check in. Clearing in was simple as it always is in the French islands.

SHOPPING

Le Marin is known for two things – the vast array of boat related stores and services, and the good provisioning at the three large grocery stores and many smaller shops. We discovered lots of $5 US bottles of wine and a bin of 50% off cheese that was all great.

CRUISER CENTRAL

We came to Le Marin because we heard it was nice. We stayed because there are no well protected anchorages on our next few jumps north and we needed somewhere to hide from the north swell that was coming in. It turned out a lot of people had the same idea. Everywhere we went in Le Marin we bumped into someone we knew.

The first day in we started walking by the shops around the bay and bumped into Don and Olga Casey (Richard Corey). They are quite familiar with the area and gave us a quick intro to what is where.

Every couple of days we bumped into John and Julia (Mary Ann II).

As mentioned earlier, we anchored behind The Dove (Larry) which led to being invited to a party with about six other boats on Never Bored (Chris and Sheila).

Again walking around town we bumped into – and had lunch with – Peter and Anne (Spice of Life) who introduced us to fellow cruisers Wade and Diane (Joana)

BIG NIGHT OUT

We are usually back on the boat by dark, but one night we went out to eat. The plan started a sundowners with Don and Olga, but turned into dinner at Ti Toques with two other couples. Also joining us were Ann and Steve (Receta) and Marilyn and Martin (Rocking Horse). Just to make things interesting we split up the couples and alternated boy/girl. It was a lot of fun and the food was quite good.

(left to right) Ann, Don,  Marilyn, Steve, Eric, Olga, Martin, Jackie

(left to right) Ann, Don, Marilyn, Steve, Eric, Olga, Martin, Jackie

Jackie demonstrates here knowledge of French chopsticks

Jackie demonstrates here knowledge of French chopsticks

French food

French food

Don tries to keep his desert out of Ann's reach

Don tries to keep his desert out of Ann’s reach – she of course claims she only wants the recipe

HIKING

We went for a few hikes in and around Le Marin and St. Anne. The first was a hike up a mountain on the far side of the bay. We didn’t really know it was going to be a mountain until we found the little fishing harbor and saw what was ahead. We made it most of the way up before we turned back. There were beautiful views of Le Marin and St. Anne.

Fishing village dock where we left the dink while we climbed the mountain

Fishing village dock where we left the dink while we climbed the mountain

Saint Anne

Saint Anne

Le Marin

Le Marin

Another day we rendezvoused with The Dove and Never Bored in St. Ann and walked around to Saline Bay on the south side of Martinique.

The big excursion was renting a car and driving up to the Caravelle Peninsula. We hiked around the park and spoted quite a few birds, but the coup de gras was a white-breasted thrasher – a bird that only can be found in Martinique and St. Lucia. There are believed to be only 150 pairs. We also visited the ruins of Chateau Dubuc, an old sugar plantation. On the way back to Le Marin we stopped at Habitacion Clement, and old rhum distillary.

No, in France it is rhum agricole – a somewhat nasty type of rum. It is best used for making ti punch. Three parts rum, one part cane syrup, and half a lime makes a really nice little cocktail.

CONFUSED

There are always maintenance issues on the boat. We had a scare when we found that the refrigerator wasn’t very cold. It turns out it wouldn’t run. The investigation begins.  I had a long explanation, but it will put most of you to sleep.  Suffice it to say that the the reefer wouldn’t run because the batteries were too low despite the charge controller showing them as charged.

After checking all kinds of things I noticed the fuse holder for the input from the charge controller to the house batteries was – how else can I say it – fused! This fuse is to protect the wiring from too much current but only the fuse is supposed to melt. All I can figure is that there was corrosion in the fuse holder and a short occured between the fuse connections, thus bypassing the fuse.  No fuse, no charge going into the batteries.

Fused holder

Fused holder

I replaced the fuse holder and fuse and the charging system was back up. Running the engine for a couple hours brought the batteries back up to a reasonable level. But why did the charge controller think the batteries were charged? I can only guess that in the absence of a connection to the house bank, the controller was picking up the voltage from the starting battery which was topped up and assumed it represented the whole system.

RIVER TRIP

We read in a guide book that there was a canal that ran through the mangroves and ended up at a shopping area.  We spotted such a canal and checked it out.  At the beginning of the canal was an egret roost with a couple of different species and lots of juveniles.

Egret roost

Egret roost

We worked out way up the canal, which was quite scenic, but was blocked at the far end by overgrown mangroves.  Just as we started bach we encountered a group of kids kayaking.  We let them pass and started back watching for birds.  They overtook us again on the way out.

Mangrove canal

Mangrove canal

Kayakers cool off after leaving the canal

Kayakers cool off after leaving the canal

TALL COLD ONE LESSON

So what’s the best beer value in the islands?  That is a survey I’m still conducting, but there are little tricks you need to look for.  Size can be deceiving.  For example, in the picture the Corona is 12 oz., the Carib is 330 ml., and the Piton is 255 ml.  Taller does not equal more.

Tallest cold one is not always the best deal

Tallest cold one is not always the best deal

START ‘EM YOUNG

French juicebox

French juicebox

Birds

Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds

Mangrove Cuckoo

Mangrove Cuckoo

Sing it out!

Sing it out!

Next: Fins

Advertisements

One Response to “Sometimes You Gotta Stop and Smell the Cheese”

  1. Mark Says:

    Great read as always.
    For the next crossing, I’m always available. The last one was awesome.

    Mark

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: