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  • Writer's pictureSailing Koinonia

S/V Koinonia Weekly Sailing Log - Exploring Martinique (Wed Aug 23 - Tue Aug 29, 2023)

Sailing Koinonia anchored off Saint-Pierre with Mont Pelée in the background
Koinonia anchored off Saint-Pierre with active Mont Pelée in the background

Highlights this week, leaving Dominica and for Martinique; exploring the town of Saint-Pierre and the museum of the catastrophe of 1902 when mount Pelée decimated the town in the biggest volcanic disaster of the 20th and 21st centuries (so far). Continued to endure rolly conditions in the anchorages; fending off a small sailboat that dragged on top of us. Moving to Le Marin, Martinique.

Wed Aug 23 - rolly conditions in the harbor continued to the point of being unbearable. Amber and I got up at first light and got the boat ready to get underway. We even have to sleep sideways in our beds to help with the side to side motion. Left Portsmouth and sailed south to Roseau. Picked up a ball in another super rolly harbor, so we handed the boat boy our propane tank and $100 EC to take a taxi to have the tank filled, as well as dispose of our trash. Ben went ashore to clear out and pick up a few grocery items. As soon as Ben got back, we got underway and left for Saint-Pierre, Martinique.  It's not really fishing season here, but Ben caught a Cero Mackerel trolling. Fishing was difficult due to endless lines and mats of sargassum. Passed by Mt Pelée (famous volcano, still considered active). Arrived in St Pierre, Martinique just after dark but entry was straightforward; dropped the hook about 100 yards from shore. The city was first founded in 1635. A little rolly but very tolerable.  Ate dinner, got showers, and went to bed.

Thu Aug 24 - Extremely hot with very little wind today; decided to put up the deck awnings which made a noticeable difference in the temperature in the boat. Amber and the girls do school.  Ben went ashore to clear in and also go to the ATM and the grocery store. Ben cleaned the waterline of the boat, the rudder, and the running gear; the fouling in the tropics is very aggressive. Ben made Mahi coconut curry for dinner; ate dinner in the cockpit because it was much cooler.

Fri Aug 25 - Another hot day. Amber and the kids do school; Ben worked on a consulting project.  Made fresh squeezed juice from sour sop, a large green prickly fruit with white flesh that has a unique but delicious sweet and sour flavor. A few more boats arrived and anchored in the harbor today; one cat anchored pretty close to us but seems to be ok. The parts for the custom anchor roller extension we commissioned are ready; no idea where we can have them shipped yet. Amber made a baked pasta for dinner. Kids watched the newer Spiderman 2 and 3 movies for stay-up night.

Sat Aug 26 - got off the boat early and went ashore for the day. We dropped off the trash at the town dock and then walked to a small boulangerie for breakfast, then to the pharmacy, then to the Museum of the 1902 Catastrophe (eruption of the volcano Mount Pelée). Despite being a small museum, they had an excellent handheld audio guide for everyone and a lot of really amazing artifacts and footage of Saint-Pierre after the blast, which basically leveled the town and killed an estimated 30K people in less than 2-minutes. Found the DIY laundry facility, which is nice but pricy. We then walked to the restaurant Le Tamaya, named after one of the ships that went down when the volcano erupted.  It was run by a former cruising couple who served a fusion of French and Creole. The woman spoke very good English and was very friendly and attentive.  Next we went to the local grocery store which is a small two story building but very well stocked and the AC is nice and cold. Went back to the boat where we put away our provisions and then spread out on deck, under the shade, to enjoy the evening breeze before starting dinner.

Sun Aug 27 - started our day with worship; we sing hymns and praise songs, then tune in for a livestream sermon on YouTube.  We had croissants from the grocery for breakfast. Ben and Amber gathered the laundry and went ashore. DIY laundry here is 5-8€ per load just to wash then another 3-4€ to dry. We walked around town for a bit while the clothes washed. Heat index was 105F.  Went back to the boat and discovered a small sailboat dragged anchor with the south swells and wind and is now really close to our boat; we had to monitor the situation. Leftovers for dinner.  We want to hike up to the rim of Pelée, but have decided to leave for Le Marin tomorrow morning; we will try to stop on our way back north.

Mon Aug 28 - Around 2am, Ben woke up to look outside to check on that small boat and saw it was getting dangerously close to us.  We’ve seen no signs of life on the boat for several days, but a cabin light is on and the companionway and a deck hatch are open. Very odd. Ben tried hailing the boat by name (loudly) several times, but there was no reply. After struggling to keep clear, and adjusting our anchor scope to try to create distance, we realized the boat was still dragging into our radius.  At 4:30am, we weighed anchor and made an early start for Le Marin, keeping a close eye on our radar to avoid fish traps, which are numerous and poorly marked (sometimes with clear bottles!). Ben made a baked French toast for breakfast using a leftover baguette.  Tons of sargassum en route to Le Marin, making trolling nearly impossible. Had a fun sail in excellent conditions around the SW corner of the island, passing close to Rocher Du Diamant. Had a fun undeclared race with a catamaran that was now going upwind with us. Upon entering the harbor (and beating the cat by a literal mile), we discovered the area had more sailboats moored or anchored than anyplace we’ve ever seen; even more than Annapolis or Newport. It took us an hour to find a spot we were happy with, anchoring twice.  The good news is there is a nice breeze and gloriously calm water; this is the first anchorage since Simpson Lagoon, Sint Maartin that hasn’t been rolly.  We put up the awnings and made water. Busted a plastic fitting but was able to bypass. Charcuterie board with nice cheeses and fresh avocado slices for dinner.

Tue Aug 29 - pleasant day of mostly school and boat work; with a few heavy rain showers that helped to desalt the boat and keep the deck cool. Amber and the kids do school after quiet times and Ben finished up a consulting project; also did some work for his yacht brokerage clients. Amber made a new-to-us dish for dinner, Piccadillo con Papas, which she served in tortillas.  Girls begin preparing for Aliza’s birthday party; in two days, she turns 9!

God Bless,

S/V Koinonia


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