Up with the sun, our anchorage in St Pierre, Martinique, is quiet and calm and we are fully refreshed after our rigorous sail to Martinique with a solid sleep. However, Ingomar is covered in salt, so we tidy her up first before we head into town.
St Pierre has a phenomenal history, having been completely wiped out of existence in one day by the eruption of the volcano on Mount Pelée. Called the ‘Paris of the Caribbean’, the city was a social, commercial and cultural hub for Martinique. There had been warnings the volcano was awakening, yet all signs were ignored. The eruption on May 8th, 1902 created a cloud of super heated gas, travelling at over 400 kms per hour, which killed everyone in or near the town. A man housed in the town jai, a young girl and a man on the outskirts were the only survivors. Even the harbour was decimated and wrecks lie at the bottom of the bay to this day. The city has many ruins still standing from the eruption and has done an exemplary job preserving and presenting its history.
The town centre, located directly behind the dinghy dock, is a bustle of activity with an open food market. After clearing customs we walk to find a welder that Al had read about in our guide. We walk through an incredibly green street, with vines and flowers climbing the hillside 2 stories high. We have a stanchion that needs repair. We find our welder, have a brief chat, using some sign language, as he is french and we are not, and words like stanchion elude my french vocabulary, as does welding. Still, we manage an exchange and he tells us to return in 2 hours and for $50 euros. A good deal!
Back to the town centre we enjoy a lovely creole lunch outside on a small dais, overlooking the bay, dotted with yachts and fishing boats. Freshly squeezed guava juice, seared tuna in a scrumptious marinade, served with kava and salad. We return to find the welder has completed the job as promised.
Hiking a Volcano in Martinique
Mount Pelée towers over the town and is often cloaked in cloud. It looks daunting at first but I know we are up for the challenge. Fortunately, Molly and Baxter have researched the hike and know where to go to begin. We meet them at the dock and head off in search of a taxi to get us to Mont Rouge, a small town at the base of the mountain, about 15 minutes drive from St. Pierre.
Finally we are able to secure a driver, Emmanuel, who drives us to the trailhead where we can begin our trek up the mountain. The trailhead marker informs us that many outlying areas were also devastated. As we climb the views are spectacular. Eventually, the mist encloses itself around the mountain and as we close in on the summit, the clouds and mist are dense and we can only see one another; the peak eludes us. We hike to the 1902 summit as the volcano has changed over time with the eruptions. My GoPro is useless and the pics, once downloaded are foggy renditions. Thankfully Baxter managed to snap a few good pics! We head back down, make it back to St Pierre in time for lunch. A great day with super people makes for another solid sleep.
Headed South towards St Anne
After resting for a couple of days, we set out for St Anne, near the south end of Martinique. Winds and seas are active and we take a detour into Petite Anse D’Arlet, rather than beat into the wind and waves. The snorkelling is fantastic. The next morning we are up with the birds but the wind is 20-25 knots with 6 foot seas. We tack twice and get nowhere so we turn on the engine and arrive in St Anne around 10 am. It is a huge bay and there are easily 300 boats here. Happily we spy Terrapin amongst them. After diving to check the anchor I notice the hull of our boat is covered in barnacles so we spend a couple of hours trying to scrape the little buggers off.
Hungry after our saltwater house cleaning we dinghy to St Annes, to find a quaint, lovely town. An old church stands directly across from the dinghy dock, in the town centre. It’s charming, with crystal chandeliers and expert craftmanship. We walk about town, locate the bakery (there is always one!) which has excellent wifi and even better bread.
Back on board Molly, Baxter and Kala drop over to say hi; Kala, Molly and Baxter’s dog, is amazing and so well adjusted for boat life. She’s a sweet and incredibly smart dog but Filbert wasn’t impressed by her at all. We were!
Ingomar is low on fuel and water and so we decide to take her into Le Marin, about a nautical mile in from our anchorage that has everything boatish. There are thousands of boats inside the tricky channel and Baxter and Molly jump on board with us to help us get inside and ti up to the dock.
After fuel and water is loaded we find the Lieder Price, which is the French version of Costco. But dare I say, better. Theres an abundance of cheese, olives, pestos, anchovies, marinated veggies and a wide assortment of fresh produce.Theres also a lot of duck and foie gras. We fill a cart and wheel it out to the dinghy dock, just outside the Lieder Price store. Pretty convenient!
While in St Anne three of us lose glasses overboard; I lose my glasses at the dock in St Anne, Al loses his at the laundry dock and Baxter, loses his off our boat. Yet, I am pleased to report that all three pairs were retrieved. A spear diver found Al’s, we easily located mine and we all dove to find Baxters under Ingomar.
S/V Terrapin sails north the next day. Its been great hanging out with them and we hope to see them in the future on our cruising adventures. As I’ve mentioned before one of the sweetest aspects of this life is the people and when you say goodbye you have no idea when you’ll see them again. Yet, there’s nothing sweeter than pulling into an anchorage and finding a friendly boat.
The rest of the day we hang out on Ingomar swimming . We have to work off our trips to the bakery somehow. We don’t have a plan, so we decide to hang out and enjoy the swimming and the little pleasures of life aboard. We’re figuring out that the highs in this life are really the simple things – good company, a comfy, safe anchorage, a nearby bakery and each other.