We headed up to Martinique where my mom was supposed to join us for 10 days. Unfortunately, by that time, we knew she wouldn't come having broken a rib. A real bummer and a great deception on both sides of the Atlantic!

Therefore, we were bound for the North, Guadeloupe, where our friends from Berkeley were going to join us right after when my mom was supposed to leave, in mid-March.

Le Marin

We planned an express trip to Le Marin to run errands in a place we knew it'd be convenient. Our friends in Saint Lucia had given us a few homework: returning two halyards to a rigging shop and returning books to a sailing couple anchored in Sainte-Anne whom we had met before. We reached the anchorage of Sainte-Anne at around 4 in the afternoon and dropped the hook in one of our familiar spots after sailing almost all the way into the anchorage. In the channel and in between reefs, that's what happens when you know a place! (Well, that was Yalçın's call, I don't have this kind of confidence yet but it was quite fun!)

After dropping the hook, we went to the Canadian flagged catamaran to return the books on behalf of Başak and Ömer to Nülifer and Alpel, a Turkish couple of retired people who have lived in Canada most of their lives and are escaping the Canadian winter on their cat every year. After exploring the whole island chain, they decided Sainte-Anne was the best for them and stayed between Sainte-Anne and Saint Lucia year after year. We enjoyed a beer in their company. It's nice to arrive back in a known place and feel welcomed by known people for once... A real luxury for a sailor!

The next day was in go-go-go mode! We moved to the anchorage of Le Marin early in the morning and then: viennoiseries (that's the croissant business), post office and rigger in the morning, one-month worth of laundry (+ the cabin cushion cases) at lunchtime while we were having a kebab at Levent and Ghislaine's. Ghislaine and Levent are a Turkish-Martinique couple of lovely people who met in England and opened a kebab restaurant a few years ago in Le Marin - Levent had nothing to do with the kebab business beforehand! Their restaurant is the meet-up place for the Turkish people in Le Marin and I feel that the few times we have been, we always found a known face. So naturally, that's where we met our boat neighbors, a Turkish-German couple with an adorable kid who was at the end of their sailing adventure. Lunch was cut by transfers from the washing machines to the dryer, and after saying our goodbyes, we kept going with checking in while folding part of the laundry and then an express return to the boat for a little break while the cabin cushions dry, before taking off again for a round of provisioning spread between two nearby supermarkets. A full day that ended up late... Luckily, Levent's kebab held us for a while and we could go to bed after a light late dinner.

Why such a rush you may ask? Because we wanted to leave the next day. Yet we didn't. Instead, we tackled a bunch of administrative things while taking advantage of the flat anchorage... After a last trip to shore in the evening, we lifted the dinghy for going the next day. Our first step North would be the direction Grande Anse d'Arlet, an anchorage we hadn't had a chance to explore yet but had heard good things about. A few things were still in the air: Would we be able to anchor there or was it mooring only? Would it be free or paid? We would see... Cruising is full of surprises...

Grande Anse

We didn't leave as early as we originally intended but the sail was only three hours of mostly pure downwind pleasure. We got the little sailing joy to pass a boat that was making slow progress jib only (that's us a few months ago ^^). When we arrived in sight of Grande Anse, we discovered the Royal Clipper, one of these tall cruise ships which cruise around the Caribbean during the winter. A photo homework for me!

Late departure from Le Marin
Oui oui baguette *wink wink*
This is Diamond Rock in the background, special thoughts!! (This is becoming a Mom appreciation post 😘)

The quality of the snorkeling in Grande Anse amazed us. Two protected zones had been preserved on either side of the bay, and we liked the first one so much that we decided to stay an extra day. The scenery was exceptional too, with lush green mountains circling the bay, a beautiful beach, palm trees and a lovely village where we went for breakfast the next morning. We made up our plan for the rest of the trip guided by the weather forecast, snorkeled some more on the other side of the bay and went out in the town for a sundowner on a beach bar. Life is sometimes beautiful, if only we could share it with our loved ones...


From Grande Anse, it's hard to imagine that the industrial bay of Fort-de-France is right on the other side of the mountain, but as we sailed out we can confirm: it was. We passed without stopping though, making good speeds on a beam reach towards the Northern city of Saint-Pierre. The sail was fun, Yalçın again steered all the way (he is becoming a machine!), except at the very very end when we got becalmed almost in sight of Saint-Pierre. That gave us plenty of time to admire the neighboring beach and bay with pagodas on the beach and colorful boats. Our perseverance paid off, and we finally managed to make good speed again to reach Saint-Pierre.

Here comes the tragic star of Saint-Pierre in the distance
Saint-Pierre, here we come...

If you haven't been to Martinique, you may or may not be familiar with the peculiar history of Saint-Pierre. Either way, it's striking as soon as you enter the bay: the Volcano!

The town of Saint-Pierre is located on the slope of Mount Pelée. The volcano dramatically erupted in 1902 destroying the entire city, which, at the time, was the main urban center in Martinique. The story says that only one prisoner survived, saved by the thick walls of his jail cell (he did exist, what's unsure is whether he truly was the only survivor). Boats at anchor in the bay burned from spontaneous combustion as the temperature following the eruption was unbelievably high. Nowadays, the town is rebuilt but isn't as vibrant as it used to be. A triangle of yellow buoys marks the large zone where anchoring is prohibited because of all the wrecks. The imposing shape of the tall volcano remains, its crater smoking with clouds moving fast with the tradewinds.

We were lucky the wind had lightened up recently as the anchorage is known to get rolly. In our case, the water was borderline glassy. We had anchored in the least crowed part by the North buoy and the sunset was amazingly beautiful on an entirely open horizon. Warm city lights turned on and we felt good, surrounded by a beautiful mystic.

We only had one full day to spend in Saint-Pierre because a week of extremely calm winds was coming and would make it impossible for us to sail to Guadeloupe. Our priority was the 1902 Memorial Museum. A mix between life before the disaster, a display of objects which had been denatured by the catastrophe and how the town resuscitated, we followed the (short) visit with attention, but... that was only the beginning!

Ruins are scattered through town: a church, the theater, and the prison. We walked the town, asleep on a Sunday, in search of ruins and history. The weather was beautiful, with a sky and water so blue that I imagined myself in Greece, in the heart of the Mediterranean. Yalçın, who is a connoisseur (can't believe the a became a o in English in this clearly French word!!), confirmed. The open bay with 40 or so boats spread out close to the town made us think of Bonaire (our dear Bonaire**!!) as well, as we even went for a delicious ice cream before getting back to the boat.

That's why the next day, after checking out and running some errands in the now awoken city, Yalçın tried to see if the diving would compare. Of course, it wouldn't... but all these wrecks had potential (and we had seen some folks diving them the day before). After that, the plan was to have lunch and take off mid-afternoon for an overnight sail towards Guadeloupe.

We were pumped! The wind had been calmer recently (and was forecast to totally die out for the next week) so it wouldn't be an upwind wrestle, the Moon was full and most of all, we hadn't sailed at night for a month after the scary episode of leaving Martinique southbound...

The snorkeling didn't turn out great and no wreck was seen, but Yalçın practiced his free diving skill nonetheless with a record of 18 meters (!!) which made his day.

After a few delays, we lifted our anchor at around 5 in the evening, towards new horizons...

This blog post took place in February and March 2o23

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