February 25 – March 22, 2022; 7546 nm and 1097 days after departure from La Rochelle.
I was sooooo much looking forward to have our little daughter aboard and it was sooooo nice having her here finally. Why do happy days pass by so much faster than others? Three weeks waiting for her felt at least like six weeks, while three weeks together with Jana felt muuuuuuch too short! I guess that is just a normal parent feeling😍, isn’t it?
There’s no need to describe more that we had a great time, that is obvious! What saddened our reunion was the terrible war in Ukraine, which started only a day before Jana arrived. Like probably almost everybody else in this world we talked a lot about the horrible, unbelievable war in Europe. Did it really start? Yes, it unfortunately did! As you all know, of course.
That was why this time I was thinking a lot about what to write. Was it ok to write about our luxury spoilt life, while others suffer in a war trying to survive and protect their families? I don’t really know. It all feels unreal though knowing it is really happening right now! And, it all happens in Europe, so close, so scary and so wrong! Let’s hope the war will end soon.
So, back to our lucky life. As Jana had to work the first week of her stay we didn’t do much but enjoy a lot of quality time with her. Some after work walks here and there, swimming, eating, talking and just being together was all we needed. On her first day at St. Anne, we bumped into some sailor friends, while discovering the spice market and watching a few carnival competitions. (Unfortunately carnival was still almost dead due to Covid this year. It seemed only a few people bothered to celebrate it.) It was Nikki and Dave which we had met in Grenada at volleyball and who just arrived at Martinique. What a nice surprise!
Only a week later after Jana finished working, her boyfriend Benoît joined us as well. As nobody needed to work anymore we were able to move around. First we showed Benoît were Jana was working the last week, which was at Anse Saline. After a couple of days beaching, swimming and walking we headed further west to Anse d’Arlet. Here the kids learned how to scuba dive and enjoyed the amazing underwater world. Meanwhile we had the privilege of cleaning Altimate’s hull. Always a fun job to do! You scrape the beautiful sea fauna and flora off your boat, which seems to love the hull of your boat the most. Not other hulls, no, just yours! While scraping you better make sure that no little sea critter finds a way in your shorty or worse in any other openings of your body!!! 🙈 After two mornings of scraping, the hull looks usually reasonable again and you are happy. Unfortunately only for a week if you’re lucky two, then it starts growing again like hell! Oh, I do love boat life!
Just like this the nine days with the two of them were almost gone. After all our different wildlife experiences in the waters of Anse d ‘Arlet we headed up a little further north just around the corner to Anse à l’Àne. The ride up there was veeery windy – opposite of what was forecasted, of course! I got soaking wet because a couple of squalls liked to hit us and somebody had to stir as we had too much sail up and our autopilot was not yet fixed. Still it was a fun sail and we actually were pretty fast😁. Anse à l’Àne was also new to us so it was nice for a change to discover the area with the kids. Here we finally found out about the crab traps we saw suddenly everywhere close to the beach. A local was just harvesting(?) a trap when we passed by. He explained that the crabs were only allowed to catch in March and April (if I recall correctly). It seemed to be a tradition to eat those beauties at and around easter time. I wouldn’t mind trying them served with a delicious gravy or whatever but I wouldn’t be so keen on preparing them.
Unfortunately the last day was to come. Saturday morning we sailed the few miles over to FdF. Jana and I had the desire to go shopping at least for once together! Not that it is the best place on earth to shop, but I think the best place in Martinique, unless you want a fancy “prêt à porter”, to get honest local cloth. The boys like it always when we are shopping😁, following us sweetly and when we entered a shop they waited patiently checking news or whatever on their mobile. I’m not sure if the boys enjoyed the shopping as much as we did, but at least like this Benoît also got an impression of FdF. After a successful shopping morning we decided to have lunch at a little shack in the middle of the town. Just a minute after we were seated El Capitano got a phone call, which was rather unusual. It was Nikki (we didn’t even know that she had Norbert’s number) telling us carefully that Altimate was dragging, but we shouldn’t worry. WHAT? How does she know? When did they come to FdF? Why is Altimate dragging? Norbert checked the anchor! What is going on???Shock! While thinking about all that we already jumped up grabbed our legs and speeded back to the dinghy dock leaving the kids behind for their lunch. Our poor old dinghy had to perform at its highest speed to reach Altimate as fast as possible. We too reached a high level of heart beat, I can tell you! By the time we reached Altimate she actually was very well looked after. The cruiser community was and is just amazing! Two dinghy boats driver kept her from cuddling too close to a catamaran and Nikki and Dave were also ready to get in action if it would have been necessary. The catamaran’s owners were super relaxed and let us immediately know that nothing had happened, no damage whatsoever. We shouted our deepest thanks to all helpers and were very relieved. A little less high rate heart beaten we jumped onto Altimate and within seconds we were ready to lift her anchor. (Not that is in any way important but we were the best dressed skipper and co skipper in the bay! I just wanted to mention…) Boy, that was an excitement we could do without it. Lucky us that Boorie, Nikki and Dave, just arrived at FdF and called us. Thank you guys!!!! It took us five attempts to set the anchor. I had the feeling we tried every corner of the bay but of course this time we wanted to be 100 percent sure that the hook would hold.
While we were stressed out with the Altimate issue the kids enjoyed their lunch and had another stroll through FdF. They made a reservation for dinner somewhere and also brought us a nice and very welcomed lunch. That was not quite the afternoon we had planned but then again the whole dragging/anchoring disaster took only two hours. It felt like 20 of course! However it was our last day together as the kids would leave us the next morning to explore more of Martinique by car for a few days. The good thing was we finally could have dinner in a nice restaurant. Cause even though the curfew was at 10 pm since two weeks, all the restaurants in the last bays we’ve been to weren’t open for dinner. So we enjoyed our last evening being spoilt with dining in a nice restaurant. No cocking, no dishes, just eating. Suddenly it was already Sunday morning and we had to say goodbye. We had planned to see the kids again on their last day so it was not yet a goodbye for a very long time but still sad. The kids explored the island and we got Altimate back to normal two-people-living-aboard. Oh yes, and we finally tried to replace the old seals of our autopilot hydraulic with the eye watering expensive new rubber seals. That was quite a challenge and required a lot of boat yoga and time. But we, of course more El Capitano, figured it out and in the end all parts were put back together in the right place including the new seals. After a couple of trials and some adjustments, the autopilot self testing certified the correct working of it. First step was done. Now we needed a proper action test.
Friday was the final goodbye day. The kids visited us in Schoelcher (we moved here to do all the boat work in a nicer surrounding than in FdF) for a couple of hours. A last lunch and a last huge hug and then they were gone. Mom sad, Daddy sad everybody sad. It is always the hardest part!
Now it was time to move on. We spent more than four month in Martinique and were now keen on exploring other islands. Saint Pierre was our last stop at Martinique as we could easily check out here. The autopilot did a great job from Schoelcher to St. Pierre, but the last check would be the sail up to Guadeloupe with a night stop-over (yellow flag, no check in) in Dominica. After buying a few more groceries, a last laundry and finally checking out of Martinique we left St. Pierre early in the morning Tuesday the 22nd of March. Guadeloupe we’re on our way!