Martinique – the last French island

The trade winds continued to blow from the east at 20 knots and our southerly route through the Windward Islands meant wind on the beam and a regular Boat speed of 7 knots. Great sailing!

Our first glimpse of Martinique included Mont Pelée with an altitude of 1400metres and its peak surrounded by clouds. History shows that this mountain last erupted in 1932. We hoped that it would behave itself during our visit!

Our destination on this leg of the voyage was Pointe du Bout, a marina tucked into Fort de France Bay, about two thirds of the way South on the leeward side of the island. Nightfall was upon us and so rather than enter the marina we dropped the anchor in sheltered water alongside several other yachts, one of which was sporting an unusual mural on the hull.

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The marina was not large but the Port Captain managed to find us a berth sandwiched between two dive boats.

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I was always quick to announce that we were from Nouvelle Zelande in case the Union Jack on the ensign was mistaken for the Royal Ensign – the age old enemy! A black flag with a silver fern and New Zealand on it also helped.

Martinique has almost 400,000 people and is a territory of France which means that they receive full government support from France. They obviously have a tax base large enough to support development and infrastructure, a luxury that many of the smaller islands cannot afford. We decided to rent a car and explore the island. The first stop was Anse d’Arlet a local beach for a compulsory swim. Then further South was the yachting centre of Le Marin with well stocked chandleries. I was seeking a hybrid controller for my wind generator and solar panels but unfortunately they did not have one.

There are a number of distilleries on the island but the one we sort out was ‘Clement’ which is renowned for its Rhum Agricole. Compared to Longeteau this was a very polished operation with much higher production.

It must have been profitable as the gardens included a lot of modern sculpture as seen below.

 

Sharon enjoyed looking around the old plantation buildings while Blair and I went for the rum tasting.

Before leaving Clement we invested in some of the sponsors product and learned how to make the perfect ‘T punch’!

Gavin and Hamimah Abbott had suggested that we should make contact with their friends Morgan and Cheryl who are professional sailors and were somewhere in the vicinity of Martinique on their 58 ft yacht ‘Nomadica’. We later learned that they were anchored off Sainte Anne but intended to visit St. Lucia, our next Port of call.

Martinique had all the trappings of Europe but with the climate of the Caribbean – not a bad mix! I knew that it would be my last chance to stock up with some good French red wine – Cotes du Rhone and Bordeaux.

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Dining Al Fresco under canvas at Pointe du Bout, Martinique

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