The day before yesterday we made Sissi sea-ready. The day before yesterday I paid the marina bill. The day before yesterday we packed the sun protection tarpaulin and cleared it out at customs. We have officially left Martinique.
Shortly before departure I still have them bilge controlled. There were about 25 liters of water in it, which do not belong there. Who doesn't know that bilge you can read about it on Wikipedia. We wanted to go to Cuba. However, we did not want to go to Cuba on a ship in which water remains unexplained.
We spent the weekend looking for the place where the boat is leaking. There are many holes in the ship through which water can theoretically and practically penetrate. These breakthroughs for the engine cooling water, the echo sounder, the drain of the sink or the toilet all had to be examined. No water comes in there.
The bilge was dry all weekend. So no water penetrates from below. Then the level should have risen.
It didn't rain all weekend. We totally hosed Sissi with the water hose in the hope that we could find water penetrating somewhere. Nothing. No water penetrates here.
Today I cleared out, paid the marina bill and we made Sissi sea-ready. We are driving today, even if we have not yet found the cause of the water in the bilge. It rained again today. Today there was water in the bilge again. But nowhere do we find a trace of how it got there. A big mystery. We are watching this.
Unfortunately, the wind is no longer enough for a direct blow to Cuba. So we chose an interesting alternative. We'll be on the road for four to five days. And maybe on the way we will find the cause of the water in the bilge.
Nobody really explains the tropical climate beforehand. Sure, it is warm there in winter, so people go there on vacation and afterwards tell everyone how great it was. “We were in Martinique. The Atlantic had the right bathing temperature. We saw turtles. It was at least 28 ° C every day. The air conditioning in the hotel was a bit cold, and we caught a cold. ” Or something like that.
I don't want to complain too much, but Jens and I look at the weather forecast for Germany every day in the daily topics so that we can make our weather more enjoyable again. I just want to complain.
When the sun is a little higher in the morning from 9 a.m., Sissi immediately turns into a sauna. The roof hatches must remain closed at night, because it rains in the Caribbean all the time and with great intensity. The humidity is around 80% - depending on the temperature. In the photo it is only at 74%, but that doesn't make life much more pleasant. From 11 a.m. you can actually no longer move. Only a few people are still on the road, most of them are somewhere in the shade.
In the afternoon, life returns to the streets around 3:30 p.m. Slow, because it's still over 30 ° C. Just the thought of going for the water bottle leads to sweating and exhaustion. The thought of whatever kind of movement exhausts immediately. And then a heavy rain event can occur again within a few minutes.
The sky darkens and within seconds the water falls from the sky. It never takes long, but it leads to frustration and lack of energy.
So we rest. We enjoy our rest. As nice as it is to have visitors, it is also nice when the normal state is restored and life runs in the normal way.
In addition, we calmly prepare for the next two stages. Here in Martinique, the supply options are excellent and after every visit to the supermarket, we still have ideas about what we could also store. We have carried out an inventory of our canned goods, which has sometimes led to surprising results. In addition, we only have a shockingly small amount of some ingredients on board - we still have to change that.
An important result of the inventory is that we have far too few tomatoes that are passed through for the expected pasta requirement. Another result is that we can eat nice haggis again here in Martinique. There are still four cans in our stocks!
We also have energy problems with the drive. To reach our next destination Cuba, we need a good weather forecast for a few days. The earliest we will be able to leave here on Friday, before that there is quite a lull.
For this we were woken up at 5:30 this morning. A truck full of loudspeakers drove up to the carnival pajama party and filled the entire bank with sound. The bass boomed, our mast tip wobbled in time. Another loud parade in a never-ending sequence of noisy music that has been driving through the town for days. Today we expect another party, then the carnival will be buried. What luck!
Addendum: Since I complained about the weather an hour ago, it hasn't stopped raining.
We have been alone on board for the first time since December 15 last year. Jörg got on the plane yesterday and arrived safely in Frankfurt today. We had a good time together, visited three countries, were drenched in the rain and roasted by the sun. Hopefully he doesn't have to freeze too much in Germany.
In any case, he ended up in Frankfurt in the middle of the carnival season. Mardi Gras. It seems so unreal to me here.
Jens and I are now alone on board again. Yesterday we used it and did almost nothing. We let the time pass, hardly talked and enjoyed the moment. We have traveled many thousands of miles since Tenerife, and the bow cabin was always occupied. Now it is empty.
Loud music from the Uferstrasse draws my attention to a carnival parade. I grab a camera and go check it out.
All participants in the move come from different school classes. Every school or class has chosen a motto. I was touched by those who decorated themselves with flags from all over the world, even if I didn't see a German flag. Great Britain is still there.
A music cart drives in front of each group. The number of speakers is impressive, but that ensures a balanced sound throughout the place. I call Jens, who has holed up behind heavy metal and carries out the vacuum cleaner. In this case, the vacuum cleaner can wait. We go into town and look for the move.
If it stops and the move stalls, you can simply dance on site. On the loudspeaker carriage is the DJ who provides the background music.
Of course I made a little video so that you can also listen to the great carnival music at home. This continues for a group that just had to pause.
And then there's the whole pack dancing on the quayside because the move simply doesn't go forward. Traffic jam is common in the carnival, while waiting there is jumping to music.
When the last car drove past us and we walked back down to the marina, we agreed without a word that the work for that day was over. We go for another kebab and warm up the leftovers from the lasagna in the evening.
Today we cleaned, defrosted the fridge (yes, we have an unwanted ice cube machine !!!), tightened the shrouds, tightened loose screws, cleaned up the sail load, rearranged the bunk to two-person operation, mounted the spare part on the wind vane control and then us again rested. Tomorrow we will continue with the work.
On a trip with the rental car, we stop at a lookout point. We want to stretch our legs a bit and take pictures of the beautiful view. After a few moments, Jens discovers that the viewpoint is not uninhabited. A little cat with a collar looks curious.
The little guy is easy to hug. He starts his engine and grumbles unabashedly. He enjoys the fingers scratching his ears.
Our fingers are slowly becoming lame. And we have not yet taken any photos of the beautiful landscape. For this, the cat wants his attention again and again. But he also hums so sweetly.
The little guy probably lives nearby and always comes to the viewpoint when he wants to be petted. His can openers never caress him. He must have a can opener because he wears a collar and is not half starved.
And then I manage to detach myself from the cat for a few hundredths of a second and take a photo of the view.
The palm trees are also worth a photo. We didn't stop because of the hangover, but the little hangover definitely stole the view from the beautiful view. A nice stop, I could have stayed two more hours. No, we didn't accidentally pack the cuddly creature.
What does the sailor do when he wants to be left alone? He leaves the marina and looks for an anchor bay. We also plan to do this because the marina is annoying in the long run.
The anchorage in front of St. Anne is out of the question for us. There are so many boats lying around that you no longer have to drop an anchor, but can simply tie up to the neighbors with bow and stern lines.
We drive past various bays, where the masts of the anchoring sailing boats can be seen by the dozen. We then find Anse Dufour, a bay in which we are the only sailboat.
Another sailboat comes in after us, but after that it's over. During the day the bathing boats go there and bring the paying customers to snorkel. At night we have our rest, only a few fishermen have their boats here on the buoys.
It is nice and quiet at night. We sleep well, there is practically no swell in the bay. The evening view of Fort de France feels like we're in the south of France or on the Adriatic.
Fortunately, the bathing boats leave in the early afternoon. The few people who are on the shore seem to live in the surrounding holiday homes. The beach bar closes at 6 p.m. Then it's nice here.
I paddle the dinghy ashore, always looking for open WiFi. I won't find anything here, there is no WiFi in both restaurants. Too bad, then we can't do anything with our amplifier. For this I can take the photo with the grill tourists who are lying in the non-existent sun, but which are mostly burned pretty red.
On the left side of the photo is another German boat, the Lady Charlyette. We arrived here almost simultaneously. Our anchor holds better though, Lady Charlyette has had to adjust her anchor several times.
The coordinates are about 14 ° 31'N, 61 ° 05'W. If you are looking for a nice anchorage, you will find it here.
In front of the marina in Le Marin is a popular beach, where people like to anchor. To get there, no one has to anchor in front of St. Anne, you can also take bus line A from Le Marin, the stop is right at the rear exit of the marina. I recommend the use of the regular bus, because the anchorage is - mmmh - a little bit too busy.
I don't want to dig my anchor here in the sand. It's too cuddly for me. The bus line A lets us out at the bus station, there we get into a minibus that takes us to the popular beach “Les Salines”.
A brief thought about visiting a beach bar evaporates, we walk along a shady path on which the cars are parked on the left and right, as in the south of France. The Frenchman himself likes to go to the beach, the way to the car must not exceed 100 meters, after which the distance would be unreasonably long. After all, almost everyone has to carry a heavy cooler bag.
At some point we come to a barrier that prohibits motorists from passing through. We continue walking, the beach immediately becomes noticeably empty.
There is a distance of around 500 meters between the two pictures above. You don't have to believe that, but it is so. The French are really sick with their feet. We are not, continue walking the coastal path. The wide path that can be driven by vehicles becomes a real path. We meet fewer and fewer people.
On the one hand, it's pretty much impossible to get lost. We always have the sea on the left, and scrub on the right. Nevertheless, the path is well signposted, and there is no lack of distances and sights. For example, we expect to see a chapel at a headland. It is not a real chapel, but it is dedicated to Peter.
There is also another optical compensation for the ascent to the steep coast. A great view of the bay we walked along in the last hour.
The vegetation is of course very different from that in the south of France. The frequent rain makes it very green when I compare it to Corsica in autumn. And there are no cactuses of this size either.
Somehow Martinique feels like a small foreign body in the Caribbean. It's all so French. And yet it is Caribbean. I don't really know where to put that in my head now.
The French here also work differently than those in Europe. In Europe it is not a problem to speak French to the French as a foreigner. Here, in my opinion, they switch to English far too quickly when a tourist stands in front of them.
But if you leave out the locals and only speak the landscape, the Caribbean feeling is back.
So we hike on, there are still a few kilometers ahead of us and the last bus of the day leaves at 6:30 p.m. French standards.
The trail is lined with mangroves. They are the first mangroves that I see in the wild. The pond is also a breeding ground for all kinds of mosquitoes, which spare us in the marina or at the anchorage. You don't fly for a meal for miles, but take the people who live right outside your door.
There is also a larger heron colony in the shallow waters, which are not connected to the sea, but are only filled up using rainwater.
Before St. Anne we find a beach bar after the hike. We were only six or seven kilometers away, but at temperatures around 30 ° C that's enough. So we refresh ourselves with an orangina and then we take the last bus of the day back to Sissi in the dark. A beautiful day.
What does a Frankfurt boy need if he wants to feel really good again - food like at home. In Frankfurt I know a dozen good kebab shops, I had the last kebab on our trip in Santiago de Compostela.
There is a kebab shop just opposite the entrance to the marina in Le Marin. It was closed in the evening on our day of arrival. Jens and I decided that the next day when Jörg Burti brought us to Fort de France, we would have a kebab dinner. But in the evening the kebab shop was closed again. Only a conversation with Joint Venture II brought an enlightening result. The kebab shop opens every lunchtime, exactly one kebab skewer is grilled and sold, then the shop closes again.
So we come to the kebab shop around lunchtime. There is a lot of activity, the restaurant seems to be popular. Not much is left on the spit either, we shouldn't have come there an hour later. We order three kebabs and three orangina.
We are amazed when we get the glasses for our drinks brought to the table. Real ribs that advertise a cider completely unknown to me. And that thousands of kilometers away from Frau Rauscher.
And now the feeling of France comes back. Orangina is as French as baguette, camembert and red wine. It just tastes great! Drinking them from a Schoppeglass in Martinique has of course its special charms.
The extremely friendly host then brings us the doner kebab to the table. It is more of a cross between pom-kebab and Dürum-kebab, because the fries are rolled up into the flatbread with the kebab meat and the salad.
On the kebab is a delicious chilli sauce and not ketchup like it was in Santiago. The fries are flabby and tasty and the meat is very good. A doner kebab like you can't imagine in the Caribbean. I want to go there again.
I am an enthusiastic motorcyclist and have traveled tens of thousands of kilometers on French roads. I always noticed the buses that I overtook at high speed. They were always sparkling clean, the paint flawless. The air conditioner buzzed audibly on the roof. Traveling by bus in France has to be a great, comfortable affair. Martinique is France.
Traveling by bus in France also has disadvantages. In the country, the timetables are very thin, only a few connections a day reach the remote villages. It is often difficult to get route plans, timetables and fare information. That's how I experienced it in France.
After persistent research on the Internet, we find a bus schedule for the BKJ bus line, which is to take us to Vauclin. There are local bus routes in Martinique that are numbered. 31, 32, 33, 54 and so on. Then there are national bus lines that have letters. F, G, H or just BKJ. To make it even more complicated, there are lines BKJ1 and BKJ2. The bus runs about every four hours, it feels very French. Our bus arrives on time, the air conditioning works. In contrast to the buses on the previous islands, this bus also has seat belts for the passengers - EU standard. The fare is not excessive at € 2.10 for the single trip.
After half an hour we reach Vauclin. The bus station, which lies at the gates of the city. Since the connecting bus left 10 minutes ago, we run into town. It would have been just two stops anyway and connections or clocking are a matter of luck in France. In Martinique too.
While walking along the waterfront, a bus comes towards us on the line with which we wanted to go to a certain point. That's how we came up with this at the bus station while studying the route map. The bus driver stops in the middle of the street, picks us up and tells us that she only goes to the train station. It also doesn't let us out anymore, at least not in front of the bus station.
So we're back. We decide to do another round of surprises with any bus line. While we wait for three quarters of an hour, we admire the pit stop of the regular buses. A mobile workshop trolley has pulled up.
Our bus is refueled, while more buses pull up and gather around the workshop trolley.
The bus drivers sit under the tree in the shade, while the workshop staff even changes the tires on one bus - all four tires in a good quarter of an hour. The boys should knock on Formula One. If they are already so fast on regular buses ...
The bus we chose drives us into the mountains. It goes higher and higher on narrow and narrow streets. Okay, the destination is also called “La Haut”, which could be translated as “The height”. The view of the sea is beautiful. Unfortunately, it is quite hazy.
Again and again we drive past individual houses that either have a small garden or an entire banana plantation in front of the door.
We see a small shop, there we decide to get out. Otherwise we saw no shops or street life on our tour. This is a big difference to islands like St. Lucia or Barbados. There is always life on the street. Here is France.
But also in Martinique everyone seems to have their chickens. They walk and cackle in the streets on every island in every place.
A cat speaks to us and explains where the shop is. It strokes our legs and can even be picked up. Then we see that it is not a cat at all, but a young cat. The engine is running at full speed.
Finally it is enough for the cat. We can quench our thirst in the stifling heat in the shop. Funny that they call the local beer in Martinique "Lorraine". Lorraine. It also tastes a little like Kronenbourg.
When we have just finished the beer, the bus comes over again. We only had 70 minutes in this sleepy nest. The 70 minutes have upgraded the whole day.
For the return trip we take the BKJ bus line again. This time it is a BKJ1, we had the BKJ2 on the way there. I buy three tickets to Le Marin from the bus driver and pay the expected amount. Half an hour later the bus driver throws us out just before Fort de France, it has its final destination. I ask him about Le Marin, he claps his hands over his head. After another half an hour of waiting, this bus takes us all the way back to Le Marin. It is the last bus of the day (at 5:00 p.m.). Driving in Martinique is like driving in France. We leave the air-conditioned bus well-cooled and walk into the marina.
A few days ago we drove over to Martinique. Jens and I urgently needed a French supermarket. And for Burti this is the end of the line. She had only four weeks of vacation and has to fly home again. Jörg takes her to Fort de France by taxi to the airport.
The flight home gets a bit messy. The flight from Barbados to Frankfurt has been booked for a few months. Only the transport from Burti to Barbados had to be organized. Simply board in Martinique, change in Dominica and fly to Barbados. It's just stupid that the plane then flew to Guadeloupe. These lines emerge while Burti hopefully gets on the plane to Barbados.
We are in a rather unattractive marina in Le Marin. People are very nice, the showers are too warm and the walk to the shower is long. However, the ambience is not that great, but the local Carrefour supermarket offers a free shuttle service to the jetty. Class! We have Camembert and Orangina again!
In front of the marina is a gigantic buoy field. And the marina is huge, it has nine jetties. Sometimes the boats have been lying there for a very, very long time. I will write something about that in the future.
There is also one or the other coral reef in the middle of the buoy fields. They are marked with buoys, but at night you can get problems with the navigation. I am glad that we made the journey here in daylight.