I can’t leave without saying goodbye to Martinique. To be honest, it’s taken us a few times to properly appreciate. The Gaelic joie de vivre that mixes so closely with the Eastern Caribbean sun. We have experienced efficient and skilful boating infrastructure here. Helpfulness which in this time in particular is disarming. And the food is crazy. Really, really crazy.
The first time we went in 2016, we anchored by all the sunken boats in the corner of Le Marin. Even now the masts still stick out of the murky mangrove water. On the surface, boats still float here which will never sail again. They are more like tented hulls. They function as houseboats.
When we anchored here, we watched the inhabitants of some of these boats lean over and defecate straight into the water. This was a sight. Perhaps unfairly, we attributed it to being in France and left pretty quickly. Well – not before a quick run around the supermarket.
The second time we came, a year or so later, we had a serious problem with our rigging. Our headsail furler exploded coming down from Dominica. We weren’t even supposed to stop in Martinique. Were on our way to Grenada.
We stayed for longer – a couple of weeks. Caraibe Marine looked after us, sorted out all our rigging issues and told us never again to furl our head sail with the electric winch again. Ok. Fair point.
This experience swung us in Martinique’s favour. We decided it may not be as clean or pristine, nature-wise as other islands might be, but it was a useful place to be.
This season, as we’ve sailed the Eastern Caribbean chain until everywhere went into lockdown, Martinique has really come into its own for us. It is now officially one of our favourite islands. We have not had a bad experience here. All the work carried out, and the integrity of the Martiniquois. Did I say that right? Probably not. Still, these are really lovely, and often very beautiful people.
Along with these encounters, the way the country keeps stocked up with French produce is amazing. You’ve got fresh mushrooms from Paris. Beautifully packed with soil still clinging to their feet. You have mountains of fresh cheese – no more expensive then if you were in France. Laws prevent things being much more expensive then if you bought them in France – because this Antillean island is also France. Does that make sense? It didn’t for me – but I’ve stopped wondering.
Alas, we are sailing away this morning – the trade winds pushing us west from Martinique. We are over 50nm away – no longer able to see the island – and yet we still have a radio signal.
This is the longest continuous radio signal we have had while sailing. The station is Chèrie FM: A mix of French and English-speaking pop. This is the same station we listen to in Martinique. It’s 4:50pm and the French news is coming in ten minutes. None of us will understand it. We’re not missing it either.