Our 2002 Hylas 46

Saturday, March 30, 2019

March Blog

March in Martinique – I couldn’t think of a better place to be. The food is awesome, the wine selection is terrific and the weather is perfect!! 

Captain Eliane

This was really a month where we just stayed put and didn’t venture very far. We had a special visit of Maryse’s grand children on board and we discovered just how small a 46 foot long sailboat can be when you add a 3 year old and a 9 month old to the mix! The little ones were great even though they had their playroom reduced to the size of a very small bedroom!  

Our days were filled with walks ashore and time on the beach. 
Beach - Nap - Eat - Nap Beach - REPEAT! 

Nothing like nap time .... little angels! 

I have to admit, I am OVERLY concerned about having sand on board. It seems once it is on board it is impossible to get rid of. The two little ones had a blast on the beach and Charles-Edouard and Eliane delighted in being sand importers from the beach. We would get them back on board and rinse them down on the swim platform. Then we would strip them of their bathing suits (this is a French island after all) and there would be another pound of sand each in their bathing suits!  

Rented a car and visited a Bananarie – and we all realized at the end of the tour just how much work goes into producing a few bunch’s of bananas. A banana plant (it is actually not a tree) will only ever bear one crop of bananas. It will however spawn a number of new plats at its base. The Banana “Master” will cut all but one of these new plants to ensure that all the food goes to just one plant. The flower spike contains all the new bananas. After a few weeks the flower is removed and a bag is placed over the young bananas to protect them from birds and insects. They tie ropes between each plant to help it remain upright. Another few weeks and the entire bunch is harvested by hand on a little banana stretcher (that is the technical name I think). The final stages are sorting, cleaning and packaging.  On this farm 100% of their production is sent to France.  One major plus was discovering banana wine …. mmmm.

mmmmm fresh!!!

In the same day we also visited two Rum distilleries – only because children really need to understand how rum is made – but being responsible, we kept them away from the tasting bar! We visited JM Rhum in Macouba on the north east coast. A great little museum and old buildings. Next stop was DePaz in St-Pierre which is still our favourite of all that we have visited. 

St Pierre

St Pierre

Chateau at DePaz

Unfortunately the chateau was closed as they were shooting a movie – no, they didn’t ask us to be extras on the set! 

Nice view from the chateau

The drive back to Anse Mitan turned out to be a horrible traffic jam – even worse than Montreal. We were in stop and go traffic for almost 2 hours – driving a standard in those conditions was WAY TOO MUCH exercise for my left leg! To say the little ones had had their fill of being in the car was an understatement as they “sang” a good way of the drive back to the boat!  As grandparents – there is an age for everything. Kat and JS did their very best to calm them down but apparently it was not quite good enough! All is good however! 
It was a delight to have Kathleen and Jean-Sebastien with us on board and the boat seemed so empty once they had returned to Petawawa. 

We spent a few days in Anse Mitan and then sailed to Ste Anne for a change of view. Maryse with the guidance of our friends on Unity discovered two new grocery stores in Le Marin – this was just like Christmas as we found a few treats that we have not found anywhere else – life is good with treats!

Le Diamant - kind of looks like inspiration for Darth Vader!

Time to head back to Fort de France and as we arrived at le Diamant, we heard a PAN PAN call – meaning another boat is in difficulty. 

We turned out to be the closest boat. The sailboat had broken the cables that control the rudder. They were literally sailing around in circles. Maryse and I got ready and put together a bridle and a long line to tow them to a safe anchorage. Maryse did a good job steering us close enough that I could toss them the line.

The disabled Bavaria 44 in tow

They attached the line to their bow and slowly I  added power to take up the slack in the 150’ long line.  Well this was going to be interesting – their rudder was turned so that the boat wanted ONLY to turn to starboard (right) – so as I pulled them, their boat kept turning hard and I had to keep tugging the bow back in line. We had 5 miles to get to the closest bay and it was not pretty as we drifted sideways in the wind and current as fast as we made forward progress. After 3 hours, we were finally approaching the bay and it was clear that I would not be able to control their boat safely into shallow enough water for them to anchor. I called the French equivalent of the Coast Guard - CROSS AG (Centre Régional Opérationnel de Surveillance et de Sauvetageaux Antilles et en Guyane – now that is a mouthful to pronounce on the radio - good thing they just use CROSS AG!) and asked them for assistance but the response was that I should do my best! There was a Star Clipper ship in the bay, so I called Royal Clipper by radio and requested their assistance – I was so grateful that they accepted to help out – they dropped a tender in the water and “muscled” the sailboat into a safe anchorage spot. 

The sailboat confirmed they were firmly attached to the bottom so we wished them well and despite their offers for a dinner ashore, we asked that they pay it back some day to someone else, that needs assistance. With a shout out of "Halte-là!  Les Canadiens sont là!" Ambition headed back out and off to Anse Mitan.

Well now that that is all behind me I am sure that I do not want to pursue a career as a tow boat captain!  Ambition did well however and all ended well.

This morning we watched some of the locals practice their skills on a traditional sailboat. Notice the planks that they move from side to side so the crew can sit out on the end to balance the boat! I think their only rule in these racing boats is they MUST return with the same number of crew they started with .... no jettisoning crew to reduce weight! 

Crew section process - notice the guys in the water!

Getting organized!

I think they are all ready!

Notice the guys on the planks

Good balance crew!!!

OPPPS - Not looking so good!!!

Time to bale some of the water out!!!

And I close with just a few sunset pictures .... spectacular indeed!!!

Thanks for reading and following along with us! 

1 comment:

  1. Once again, thanks for sharing your adventures aboard Ambition. I'm pretty sure that January and February are also nice in Martinique as well