Exciting weeks in Martinique

January 31 – February 24, 2022; 7438 nm and 1071 days after departure from La Rochelle.

As quiet and relaxing January was as exciting and busy was February. It started with an unbelievable and crazy flight in a very small plane-like helicopter. A so called autogyro. The official explanation of this aircraft is as follows: ” A gyrocopter (also called autogyro) is a rotary-wing aircraft that flies by means of autorotation. Unlike a helicopter, the rotor of a gyrocopter is not powered directly by a motor, but turns by the action of the relative airflow on the blades.”  Now you know! I, to be honest, was not so interested in the technical part, I just wanted to fly! And that definitely was more than outstanding. An absolutely fun cracking experience.
Though it was pretty windy the Autogyro was very steady at airborne and could fly super slow. (These are actually the main advantages, I figured out later.) That made it a very comfortable flight and was great for taking pics. As we could even choose where to fly, I picked the the flight around ” Presqu’île de la Caravelle” and El Capitano the small islands further south. What shall I write? The experience was just extraordinary – something to put on a bucket list for sure! Or even better to start flying this thing on your own. Thanks to my parents and our kids for this exceptional Christmas present! You’re the best!!!

Autogyro with the pilot lady Sophie and me in the back seat

For easy reach to the international airport of Martinique to do our cool flights we had to leave Schoelcher and sailed back to the anchorage Fort de France (FDF). It was supposed to be an easy approach to get to the airport with the bus. Well, it wasn’t. We’re in France, so we shouldn’t forget that the people like to strike😉! Which is fair enough, but it would also be a nice touch if they’d be so kind and announce it to the public IN ADVANCE. So, not knowing about the strike we bought two tickets and waited patiently, like lots of other local passengers for the busses to come. Of course for nothing and in the end we jumped in a taxi to be in time at the airport for our flights. Only then we got enlightened by the taxi driver about the strike which just started that morning. Thankfully we could afford to take a taxi, but most of the locals couldn’t… Well, we made it in time to our flights and had a blast as described despite the strike related stress early in the morning.

Back in St. Pierre our attempts to hire a car were all in vain. In FDF we gave it another go, because we were still keen on exploring the northern part of Martinique. Knowing that it would be very difficult to hire a car for only a few days, we asked our friends Andrea and Andreas (who just recently arrived at Martinique after a long Atlantic crossing) wether they’d be interested in sharing a car for a whole week. They liked the idea and we found a car. The two joined us at FDF with their boat “Lady Jean” so we could start our excursions from there. Our first day was dedicated to just going shopping 😁. It did make sense as we had to pick up the car at the airport and the airport again was veeery close to “Le Lamentin”, where all the interesting shops (like Decathlon, DIYs ,electronic, Leclerc and more) were located. Fortunately the pick up time for the car was at 2pm. Earlier, we probably would have completely emptied our bank accounts…

Andrea and Andreas at our last shop at the “Galleria” mall in Le Lamentin

The next three days we did some proper exploring. The first day we headed up north to the centre of Martinique to a junction ( D1, N3?) which leaded us through a scenic route down to St.Pierre, where we had a simple lunch. Reaching St. Pierre we passed by “Sacre Coeur”, (which to me has nothing to do with the real basilica in Paris, but sounded interesting), visited the beautiful “Jardin de Balata”, which is a botanical garden in a rainforest setting and definitely worth visiting and we had a quick stop at a waterfall, named “Cascade de Saut Gendarme”. Strengthened by our food stop in St. Pierre we drove all the way up to “Le Prêcheur” along the coastline until the road became just a dirt track. We ended up at “Anse Couleuvre”, a pretty little, but difficult to reach beach. Exciting for us was the fact that Couleuvre seemed to be a nice anchorage before leaving Martinique to go further north.

an impression of the botanical garden

Our goal for the second day was maybe walking a short trail around mount Pelée and seeing the rainforest. Well, we were not that lucky with the weather. It actually behaved as it name promised, we had a lot of rain and with it only poor visibility. At least we managed to go up to the highest point we could reach with the car and enjoyed the cold temperature. We also tried to do the trail at “Gorges de la Falaise”, but due to the bad weather it was closed. A great excuse to instead visit a rum distillery 😋. As we were already far in the north and some french fellows told us it was one of the best distilleries we went to “Rhum J.M.” at Le Macouba at the base of Mount Pelee. I liked it a lot. Though not, as you might likely think, especially the rum. I liked where it was located. The grounds are beautifully nestled into the valley and the surrounding nature. Such a pretty place! The other three though might have preferred the free rum tasting, just my guess…

here the three (El Capitano, Andreas and Andrea) were only pretending to drink… it changed only a little later

Our last day together with the double A’s we all felt more like hiking. And, because the weather was so unstable in the north we headed up to parish St. Anne to walk another part of the enjoyable and sunny! coastal walk in the south east of the island. All our eight legs were so happy for the stretching opportunity. By the time we got exhausted and our legs were satisfied with their workout we still had some hours left before sunset. The double A’s had not yet been to the south west part of the island so we decided to have a stop at the pottery village of Trois Îlet. Yeah well, its a very touristic place but we knew there was a nice little cafe/restaurant where we enjoyed a late lunch. With our bellies filled up and tired of sightseeing we headed back to the boats.

the four of us at the coastal walk

Well, the exciting days were not yet finished. A former tennis mate announced that they would spent their honeymoon vacation in Martinique!!! How cool was that?! And even better it turned out that they stayed at St. Anne for their vacation. A perfect place for us to catch up with them. But before we met them we took advantage of the car and provisioned Altimate with heavy beverages and yammi goodies from Leclerc. Than we handed over the car keys to our dear double A’s (they could still use it for another three days) and had to say goodbye- hopefully not for too long. Thank you guys for some great fun days!
Saturday 19th of Feb we headed back to St. Anne to meet Walli and her husband Lutz. We made it just in time before sunset to meet them in their airbnb in St. Anne. What a reunion, Walli and me haven’t seen each other for years. Poor boys, they had to cope with two babbling girls trying to catch up. Fortunately we had a few days to follow up😁. I forgot to mention, the curfew was released the day before to two hours later, so now it was possible to be outside up to 10pm!!! Yeah! That was good as we were all hungry and were hoping to have a nice dinner somewhere. The trouble was we didn’t have a reservation and that meant in Martinique no dinner in a restaurant. We managed with a very nice pizza to go and had some beers on the street while waiting for it.

El Capitano, Lutz and Walli in their airbnb, in the background the view to the bay

The next morning we picked up the two lovebirds and invited them to a sailing trip to Anse de Saline. It was a beautiful day for sailing, swimming and beaching. We thought we were back in perfect time for a sundowner on Altimate after an amazing day at sea. Not quite, as we suddenly decided to show off with hundreds of anchor manoeuvre. It seemed we just wanted to let our friends know how proper anchoring works, but the anchor just didn’t dig in 🙄. After I don’t know how much trials we eventually found a holding ground far out in the bay. The sundowner was postponed but we still had a great day to remember. The following days we were busy with getting fuel and finding some more spare parts for Altimate. The hydraulic ram of the autopilot was leaking and we were hoping to find a solution. Which we actually did!!! In one of the chandlers we found a teardrops bringing expensive sealing package, which was suppose to fit for our system and there was only one left. Lucky us! Not regarding the costs😂. Imagine a little package of about 20 small different seizes of rubber rings from which you only need half of it and now guess. It’s a marine part so start high! No, more. More. Not yet close. Euro 180,- so much fun ain’t it? Anyhow we were still happy about our purchase and we stopped thinking about the marine prices. Close your eyes and pay- our new slogan.

Walli and Lutz enjoying sailing

I told you we had a lot of excitement that month but the very best was yet to come. At the end of the week we had another visiter coming and that was our dear little daughter!!! Yipppeeeeeeeee. That was so very exciting and mum was almost going crazy with joy. Our original plan was to go back to FDF and pick up Jana from there and then head back to Anse Saline. Jana still needed to work in her first week so we needed good internet reception and a pretty place to stay. But as the sail is almost a whole day each way and Walli offered us their car to pick up Jana from the airport we decided to stay. That again gave us more time and we invited the two for the postponed sundowner and a nice bbq dinner on Altimate. During the evening we figured out that they both enjoyed the sailing very much so we invited them for another sail the next day. We had a lot of fun just sailing around including a quick snorkelling stop at Pointe Borgnesse opposite of St Anne. So much fun to sail with people who do enjoy sailing so much. Thank you guys for taking us out just for a fun sail!

Happy sailing!

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