Carnival cacophony

It is feature of the Caribbean islands that many are derived from volcanoes, rising out of the sea and, as a result, the depths immediately offshore tend to plummet. In some places this makes anchoring something of a challenge as, in an offshore wind (where we tend to anchor) it is possible to drag quickly into deep water and away. In bays such as Cumberland and Wallilabou on St. Vincent, this problem is addressed by pulling the anchor ‘up-hill’ and running lines ashore from the stern. At St. Pierre to the north of Martinique, our setting off point for Dominica, there is only a narrow shelf of anchoring depth water and this was already heavily populated with anchored yachts by the time we arrived.

Reduced draft
Reduced draft
Anchor well dug in
Anchor well dug in

An advantage of our Southerly yacht is its ‘variable draft’ and we were able to lift the keel, tuck into shallow water just off the beach, inside the other fixed keel yachts and anchor with room to swing without fear of grounding.

Our evening in Le Marin was greatly enhanced by dinner in the excellent Indigo restaurant with Simon and Jenny from Fenicia who had crossed after Christmas with the Jimmy Cornell rally. I had previously enjoyed their company in Albufeira on the Algarve in July. We exchanged stories and experiences and had a splendid evening talking ‘bilge’ as my wife describes yachting conversations!

Rainbow in St. Pierre,
Rainbow in St. Pierre,


John bares his soul:-


It’s Carnival time in Martinique, which basically means that all the useful shops are shut for the duration and that it’s absolutely fine for a maniac in a boat to drift up and down the marina with a sound system Led Zeppelin would approve of, playing non-stop heavy bass carnival music until late at night.

And then at  five-thirty, yes five-bloody-thirty in the morning, the maniac is back revving it all up and playing it all again.

I blame the Ganja…

…and Nick slept through the whole thing in his palace in the stern!

Bleary-eyed but triumphantly armed with two French sticks, half a gallon of UHT milk and half a dozen bananas so green they won’t be edible for at least three days according to the lady I bought them from out of the back of her van, at least I think that’s what she said (but I know a bargain when I see one, one euro for a kilo sounds good to me), I managed to dodge the showers, get back on board and help get Hejira ready for departure.

The rugged Martinique coastline somehow matched the sulky weather with lowering clouds and begrudging gusts of wind, rather like a Parisienne waiter in fact. But as we passed around the south-western corner of the island the weather became much less French and the sun came out and with it a steady force four to five off the starboard quarter, so unfurl the genny, up with the staysail, set the main! We hit 8 knots for a while, and the wind held true for nearly all the way. It turned French again as we approached St Pierre bay, but by then the engine was on and the sails stowed ready for arrival.

Now a word about navigation. Obviously, I blame the French, I blame tectonic movement, and of course I blame the electrickery of the Navionics chart-plotter.

I, of course, was the innocent victim.

So no matter what Captain Nick may tell you in the future about my momentary lapse over our “apparent” position, I just want you to know, from the horse’s mouth, it wasn’t me Guv… I would possibly have gone sailing past the bay, rounded the distant headland in the mistaken belief that St Pierre was “over there somewhere”. Why? Because the magic box told me fibs… outright lies in fact!

Not that he’s mentioned it more than a few (dozen) times in the last few hours..!

St. Pierre, Martinique. Viewed from Hejira at anchor.
Viewed from Hejira at anchor.

Anyway, now we’re anchored off the beach, full of chilli and rice and wine, and all is at peace again.

Except that there’s this bloke on the beach with a sound system that Led Zep would give their eye-teeth for playing non-stop heavy bass carnival music…!

2 thoughts on “Carnival cacophony

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  1. Well sounds like it is very lively!!!! Glad I never went near the navigation system….we would not have been heading where intended!!!!
    On the subject of Ganja!!! Canada is about to legalise the sale and consumption!?!?!?!? So no idea what our next holiday will be like….Maybe loud Led Zeplin music!!!

  2. I’m surprised John that you have managed to sleep through the snoring from the Royal Apartments? Let alone the Carnival noise.
    Glad it’s going well.

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