We said “au revoir” to Molly’s mom and sister in The Saintes and then headed south towards Martinique.
Mt Pelee volcano in St Pierre, Martinique is the most deadly mountain in the world – not K2 or Everest as most suspect. The reason is because of the eruption in 1902 which killed 30,000 people in St Pierre (the only survivor was a prisoner who was in jail for drunk & disorderly conduct). When we were here in 2014, we didn’t have time for the hike, but now, it was top of the list. Before we left the Saintes, we mentioned our plans to our friends Tess and Al on Ingomar and they were interested in hiking the volcano as well.
The sail from The Saintes to Martinique, with an overnight (just dropped the anchor, but didn’t go ashore) stop in Dominica, was brisk to say the least. At one point, as we passed the end of Dominica and expected the winds and waves to increase, we saw a gust up to 47 kts. Thankfully our sails were already reefed as we have learned to be wary in the Caribbean. The waves were higher than forecasted and since we were close hauled, the sail was definitely salty. Once we were in the lee of Martinique (about 6 hours later), we enjoyed beautiful rainbows and calm anchorages. The next day we set out to do research on the hike and made plans to meet Ingomar and head to the trailhead.
Logistics of traveling by anything other than foot in St Pierre wasn’t simple, but we made it work. We made arrangements with our cab driver to pick us up at the trailhead in three hours and we set out to see as much as we could in that timeframe. It was a great workout and though we were surrounded by clouds most of the day, there were times that they would break and we could see the bay where Terrapin and Ingomar were anchored and the amazing views of Martinique. The habitat that has been created since the eruption is so lush and unique – it is truly amazing. The birds, flora and fauna are gorgeous and we feel privileged to be here as not everyone is able to see these things - sometimes the effort can be prohibitive.
After the hike, we headed back to St Pierre and had a great lunch with Tess and Al. Baxter and I made plans to leave the next day for St Anne at the southern end of Martinique. The first day we stopped in Grand Anse D’arlet and then planned to head to St Anne the next day. Once again, our sail was “brisk” with the wind and waves more than forecasted. At one point, as we rounded Diamond Rock, the waves were approximately 15 feet, curling into the cockpit and the winds were 40+ kts, right on the nose. Alas, by noon, we were enjoying a tasty cold beverage at a French café and laughing about the weather.
St Anne was the furthest south in the Caribbean we would be going this winter as we have plans in March and April and needed to start heading north. We also had friends flying into Dominica in a week or so. Before we left, we had a great day with Sabrina and Tom on Honey Ryder – who we have been friends with since we had Stella Blue. It was great to see them and catch up on past adventures and future plans.
The next day, we pulled up the anchor and headed north. Admittedly, I love French islands and was a bit sad taking down our country flag but knowing that we’ll be back or can return anytime makes me feel better. Au Revoir Martinique – A bien tot!
|Mt Pelee in a momentary clearing|
|Just above the hike down into the caldera and back up to the "1902 Cone"|
|Homage to the victims of the eruption|
|Just the beginning...|
|As the clouds cleared and the lush mountainsides came into view|
|The hike up from the caldera is so steep there is one section with an actual ladder|