New Heights in Martinique

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.

Al walking around town.
The old buildings are gorgeous
Checking email on the seawall
My favourite building in St Pierre
A statue in front of the old art theatre
Filly likes his new tent
The beautiful and deadly Mount Pelée

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.

Trailhead Marker  – Pic credit: Baxter, S/V Terrapin
The Climb  – Pic credit: Baxter, S/V Terrapin
Catching up with the guys  – Pic credit: Baxter, S/V Terrapin
Ladders, no snakes! – Pic credit: Baxter, S/V Terrapin
Al proudly sports his Pennecon shirt in remembrance to Ches Penney.
The Green Mount Pelée – Pic credit: Baxter S/V Terrapin
Group Selfie – Pic credit: Baxter, S/V Terrapin

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!

Moody Martinique
Le Diamond
Brush after a sail
St Anne Dock
The Church
Kala, the coolest dog in cruiser land
Getting Fuel in Marin
Looking for Baxters glasses

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.

Walking around St Anne
St Anne’s anchorage with Diamond Rock in the background
Bird Preservation in Martinique – so good to see

Author: tess

A full-time adventurer, I am sailing our 37-foot Tartan with my husband and kitty, to the Caribbean from Newfoundland while documenting it on our blog, greatbigsail.com

9 thoughts on “New Heights in Martinique”

  1. You remind me so much of Mom Burke in that last photo of you – the way you have your arms resting on the railing behind you. You look beautiful, as always. Hi to Al! 💕

  2. The last photo of you reminds me of Mom Burke so much – the way you have your arms rested on the railing behind you. You look beautiful, as always. I love reading about your adventures 💕 Hi to Al!

    1. Hey Linds! So nice to hear from you. Al says his back to you and your lovely family. Thanks for the comparison to my Mom, any resemblance is a huge compliment. Kisses to everyone. XO

    2. Hey Linds! So nice to hear from you. Thanks for that, any comparison to my Mom is pure gold 🙂 hi to your sweet little family form all of us! XO

  3. AFT,

    Up with the birds, I dare say. I’m surprised that you even sleep!
    Each day presents a new adventure, new bakery and an unforgettable discovery, a French Costco. Sacre Bleu!
    Hope you’re bringing souvenirs for your favorite sister and dedicated follower of greatbigsail
    The Mount Pelee hike, specatular, according to the photos. Loved the selfie group photo.

    As in any fairy tale, there’s always a happy ending.
    In this fairy tale, everyone celebrates with a big feast, on the return of their long lost sunglasses.

    Stay safe. Much love to all.

    Dedicated follower and favourite sister,
    Ger,

    1. Oh we sleep, like babies! Hey Ger, nice to hear from you! Its a bit of a fairy tale but with a modern twist. The women aren’t as defenceless or needy but otherwise its right on line. And I’ll get on the souvenir thing asap, chocolate would probably work eh? We went to a chocolate factory in Dominica but you’ll have to read that blog when its up to know more. Miss you and love you!

  4. “Tall and tan and young and lovely
    The girl from Ipanema goes walking and
    When she passes, I smile but she doesn’t see, doesn’t see”

    You are looking wonderful, love the last photo of you in this blog! Hence the above song quote.
    Food, hiking and dogs…you just spent a day experiencing all of my favourite things.

    Martinique really, really intrigues me, so much so that I,m am considering
    A visit and maybe extending my BVI jaunt. Must consider finance…any idea how expensive accommodations are?

    Once again thanks for sharing your new lifestyle with us stationary, winter dwellers. You really are doing life with abandon these days, an example for all, truly!

    Xxoo from me and the familiar ❤️
    Kisses to the boys as well.

    1. Hey Sista! Well thanks but the only thing Ipanemish about me is the tan! 🙂 I have no idea how expensive it is but i can do some enquiries. We didn’t make it to Fort du Frane, the capital but it seemed quite lovely as well. I like the smaller towns, less busy and still great food etc.

      It is the best thing being able to go wherever, whenever we like. In fact, we may have started something ’cause now were thinking we have to sail more and more. I would love to go to the equator, quite seriously but I don’t think it will happen. The winds are very high for the next 2 weeks so we may be stuck in Grenada, but not a problem. Carriacou, next door is part of Grenada and an easy sail! Supposed to be beautiful.

      Kisses back at you and Murph! XO from moi and the boys.

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