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Published: February 21st 2013
Girls in costume
Black and white and read all over!
We sailed the 20-mile journey to meet up with Caroline and Paul on Juno. It was a tight fetch across from St Lucia and we aimed to for the large, secure bay of St Anne. The contrast from the other Caribbean islands was quite extraordinary; from the dinghy pontoons, the shops that actually had something in them, to the lit, paved streets – it was clear that we were in a department of France, albeit one that was filled with sunshine, the holidaying French and sat square in the Caribbean.
We had made plans to have a few days with the Junos prior to them disappearing to Antigua to fly home for work. Juno is a stunning Oyster 575 and Paul ensures that she is immaculately maintained. Their life involves 3 weeks a month on the boat and then Paul heads home to run a number of board meetings, check up on the kids and then back out to the sun. They alternate between the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. Not a bad lifestyle.
It was lovely to see the Junos in St Annes and then travel up the west coast of Martinique with them. Our
time with them coincided with the Mardi Gras carnival. In Rio or Trinidad you might steer clear of carnival time but surprisingly in Fort de France we felt safe and included everywhere. Each day has a different theme with parades starting at around 3.30 pm and then continuing for many hours. While the festivities continue into the early hours , the “quality” acts are done by about 1800 and they give way to a cacophony of back-firing “bagnolles” or part-wrecked cars with most of the exhaust system removed. We could not see the aim of this element of the festivities and there seemed little skill or effort. That said the drumming bands and the rhythm of the dancers was amazing. The booty-shaking was something that Lisa got quite into where the Afro-Caribbean culture seems to worship the “plumpy-est” rump!
Martinique is a weird mix of French and Caribbean. The women dress with Gallic style and the overt presence of transvestites is tolerated (at least during Mardi Gras). While the pungent aroma of marijuana is everywhere there is no on-street boozing or seemingly crime that would beset the Nottinghill Carnival. The police and security were seldom seen and the theme
of the carnival is to promote unity and address violent crime.
We managed a couple of afternoons of the carnival and there may have been the odd glimpse of the glamorous “Lola Van Duncan” in town (“all in the best possible taste” and finest traditions of the Royal Marines!). Aside from the festivities we also took the time to visit other parts of Martinique (as reported by Cameron below).
Paul and Caroline jumped into the spirit of things too and we followed the themes of Burlesque (red and black) and the Marriage theme (white and black) – unfortunately we never actually wore the right colours on the right day! Nonetheless the Junos and Fabiolas did more costume changes than a one-man travelling theatre! The Junos were very hospitable and wonderful with the boys and we enjoyed late nights with them whilst we had post-carnival dinners and drinks whilst the boys revelled in widescreen!
On one of our interior trips we shot across the Presqu’ile de Caravelle and onto the exposed eastern coast. We had a great afternoon on the beach and had a long chat with a Guadeloupe undercover cop on the Caribbean drug trade. I think
he blew his, and his Martinique colleague’s, cover after a few pichets of vin blanc and announced to the world what he was up to and quite how important he was. At this point Caroline remarked to Lisa that Gill (formerly “Lola”) still had his mascara on – who was more “under cover”- I ask you!
MARTINIQUE – Did you know? - Cameron
Martinique is a French island in the Caribbean. The people speak French and they have the same currency and the same government.
At 8am Sunday May 8th
1902, 30,000 people died in St Pierre which was the capital city at the time.
The volcano Mont Pelee erupted and only 3 people survived. One of them, called Cyparis, a prisoner who must have been bad because he was in solitary confinement in a small cell. When the people came to see if anyone had survived they found Cyparis, who then moved to America where he joined the circus, where he showed off his burns.
The capital is now Fort-de-France which is further from the volcano. Mont Pelee could still erupt.
Our day out? - Cameron
we went to the airport and rented a car. We took the Junos to St Pierre with us to where the volcano had erupted. When we got there we were trying to find somewhere to eat and we found a beachside restaurant and Dad and Caroline ate shark.
When we had finished lunch we went to the museum. Outside there were canons and some old ruins left from when from when the volcano had erupt, the blast was eight times the blast than Hiroshima. Inside was lots of pottery, food, nails, glass and two china dollies. There was also a huge bell that had been bent and squashed. There was also a skull and bones too.
We then headed to the theatre. We approached the entrance to the stairs and foundations, which were in fine conditions but the building had been destroyed. Inside we could see where the people sat and the pit where the orchestra had played. On the left of the theatre was the prison where Cyparis had lived. We could see where his hut was, it was down low and intact. Cyparis survived because his cell had protected him.
Cameron was outsourced
to sail on Juno one day and it has to be said that Samuel has been on deck far more than usual recently. This may be with the incentive of a new Nintendo game that will come out with Auntie Sally if he takes part more. Cameron has not done quite so well with his pledge to stop biting his nails – work in progess... Lisa has given up wine for lent (there are a range of other alcoholic poisons that she can resort to but it is a noble effort) and I have given up swearing (this is much more f*cking difficult!).
We also popped across the Fort de France bay to Anse Mitan for a couple of days in the hope of getting water in the tiniest of marinas – we conducted a recce of the entrance and after speaking with the Capitanerie we avoided embarrassment by getting Fabiola caught sideways across the entrance! Instead we had our laundry done and went back across to the second smallest place to find water and fuel in Martinique on the shortest pontoon imaginable – fine for a J24!
Having exhausted the delights of Martinique we set sail for
Dominica. We had heard wonderful things from both Chris Doyle (at one of the post-ARC seminars) and from those who were further north of us. As we left Fort de France we experienced gusty conditions with the wind peaking in the mid-30s (force 6 and above). As we cleared the coast of Martinique this built to 40 knots and entered the realm of force 8s – just the kind of sailing that Lala loves! Coming from the beam we set off northwards with 8 and 9 knots of boat speed. Amazingly all really enjoyed the passage and within short order we had covered the 45 miles to Roseau Bay on Dominica. If anywhere looks like the island from Jurassic Park it is Dominica.
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