January 12, 2020

Magnificent Martinique, Part 2

Fort de France is the capital of Martinique and the largest city in the southern Caribbean islands. The anchorage is small, right off the downtown, and busy since it's also a cruise ship and ferry port, so we were rocked from boat wake from sun up to sun down...Fort de France makes up for it by having the best dinghy dock in all of the Caribbean along a new waterfront and boardwalk.









We were lucky enough to be in town during the annual Martinique Jazz Fest and had a great evening with cruiser friends listening to very talented Flamenco guitar players.



We also enjoyed exploring and shopping the area for a few days before heading across the bay to Anse Mitan.










Anse Mitan 

We arrived to Anse Mitan on December 12, which is a popular tourist area with beaches, boutiques and small hotels, and several good hiking trails to the tip, Pointe du Bout.











Anse Noir

After two days of exploring Anse Mitan, and finally having enough of the too-frequent ferry wake, we weighed anchor and headed 3 nm south around the corner to Anse Noire, a tiny hideaway of an anchorage with excellent snorkeling and a volcanic black sand beach. 

We anchored in the morning amongst five other boats, but early afternoon, we came up from snorkeling and we were the only boat left in the bay!





A short trail from the volcanic black sandy beach on Anse Noir follows the ridge line over to Anse DuFour, a small and sleepy fishing village.








Anse Noire and an unlucky Friday the 13th

Anse Noire is also around the corner from Anse a L'ane, another small and pleasant anchorage, where we headed on Friday, December 13. After a mostly uneventful Friday the 13th, as Nick was making red sauce for our dinner, we were waked by a ferry and the pan of red sauce slid right off the stove, making a terrible mess for us to clean! [Not a single picture was taken of the anchorage or the incident :)]

St Pierre 

The next day, December 14, we headed north to our final Martinique anchorage, St Pierre, at the foot of Mount Pelee. We had sunny skies and 10-15 knots of wind for our 15 nm sail north.



Eruption of Mount Pelee

In the late-1800s, St Pierre was the Paris of the Caribbean and the hub of activity on the island. That all changed on May 8, 1902 when Mt Pelee erupted, killing nearly all 30,000 residents and sinking a dozen ships in port, leaving only two survivors.

Ruins from the destruction remain around the island, including the theater and prison, where Louis-Auguste Cyparis was imprisoned for murder, and was one of the two who survived the volcano (in his case because of the thick stone walls of his cell).

Nick in the Cyparis’ cell; the prisoner was one of only two who survived the volcano 








Just outside of the city center is a lovely little waterfall, which we visited one day despite almost hourly tropical rain showers.





The black volcanic sand beaches of St Pierre rivaled our our favorite Princess Margaret Beach in Bequia, St Vincent and the Grenadines for beautiful sea glass and tile, which littered the shoreline and made for several fun afternoons of beach combing.


We also hiked to the statue of the Virgin Mary on the cliffs overlooking the bay for the best views of the town and bay below.




Hiking Mount Pelee

Our favorite activity in St Pierre was the four-hour hike around now inactive Mt Pelee; we hiked the popular Aileeon trail to the crater rim and back.

The volcano is nearly always engulfed in clouds, and the trail is steep but scenic, especially when the clouds part for a moment or two and you can see all the way to the ocean below.









Hiking through the clouds was wet and so windy, we were literally knocked over a few times along the rim, but the incredible views were worth it!








DePaz Distillery

On the way back to St Pierre we rewarded ourselves with a visit to Depaz Distillery, which offers a very nice self-guided tour of the distillery and grounds and a small tasting room, where we sampled one of their aged rums.







Au Revoir, Martinique 

Overall, we loved our time in beautiful Martinique and a month went by so quickly. 

The only negative for us may have been poor cell reception. Our cell provider, Google Fi, contracts with local cell providers to offer seamless service from island to island (so no SIM card hassles on each island) and has worked incredibly well throughout the islands...but in Martinique we were plagued with sloooooow Edge and 3G service (no 4G or LTE to be found!).

Sara dreaming of a world with high-speed Internet

With the promise of faster cell service and fewer French bakeries to pad our quickly expanding waistlines, on Saturday, December 21 we aimed Borealis' bow north towards Dominica!

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