After our Atlantic crossing we made landfall on Martinique, on the southern side in Le Marin. While this location was more or less a lucky guess, it turned out to be a very good stop.
First of all it counts as EU, making both checking in and Covid matters extremely easy. Secondly, we could get our booster shots which was a big relief for our future cruising plans.
Then we also had a lot of boat work to attend to and with this being such a hub for charter boats, finding spare parts for a 40 foot french built boat proved way easier than in Sweden. The first days we entered the boat stores we just walked around in amazement pointing out all the parts and spares we had spent weeks of research to find at home.
During the Atlantic crossing, one of our realizations was unfortunately that our house batteries weren’t able to keep us charged overnight (the hours while we couldn’t get solar power). We had known that they probably wouldn’t last us during the entire circumnavigation, since ours were a few years old already. We had kind of hoped that they would last us to Australia.
To our amazement though, we saw the batteries we needed on our second day on Martinique. One of the chandleries had several of them visible through the window and we went to the cashier to ask straight away. He said that it was not an issue, we needed three and they had eight in stock. He did however ask us to come back the next day when the “battery guy” was working, because this was not his area and they were just about to close the store for the day. After yet another confirmation that they had eight in stock we went back to the boat to just double check the measurements one last time and make sure we were ready for the next day.
The very next day, we entered the store 30 minutes after they opened, asked for the battery guy and to our disbelief were told that the entire stock of eight batteries our size had been sold already. Another boat owner had been there just before us and bought all of them. What do we do, laugh or cry?
After a long conversation we were told that a small batch of these same batteries would be delivered ten days later. If we could pay a deposit, we could reserve three of these batteries. Very well, we would take those ten days to get the other boat projects done and explore a bit of the island and then come back in ten days to pick up our batteries. This would extend our stop on Martinique a bit but we didn’t know when we would find these batteries again.
We took the chance to cruise the island while waiting, day cruises and boat work afternoons was a great set up to see a bit more of the island. We cruised out to the beautification Sainte Anne, with clear waters and lots of turtles we scrubbed the bottom and all the growth that surprisingly had gathered during our crossing. We sailed passed the famous Diamond Rock while sailing to Fort de France, the capital, and while the anchorage was extremely rocky and we did the mistake of forgetting that it was Sunday (meaning that everything was closed) we happened to anchor next to a Norwegian boat. From which Amber and Lucas swam over and gave us tips about how to best snorkel the Caribbean waters and other recommendations from the island. We met up later further north for even more tips and a “fika”.
On our way south again we even timed up an anchorage spot with our buddy boat from Limhamn, Malmö. We had tons of stories and experiences to share and gladly concluded that we were several miles from home but both boats and crews were holding up very well.
Once the ten days had passed, we had explored the west coast of the island and the boat was getting back to pre-crossing shape. We came back to Le Marin and asked for the battery guy and once again we were met with unexpected news. The battery guy would be out for two months because he just had a baby and not a single colleague had heard of our batch of batteries or our reservation. Thankfully we had our receipt and with help from the colleagues of the “battery guy” they could two days later find a small shipment with these batteries arriving soon, but not for another few days and then they needed to pass customs before we could get ahold of them.
With all this time invested in waiting for the batteries, we had a short deliberation on whether we wanted to wait for another few days or find an alternative solution. The guys at the store were great though. To help us get a new spinnaker pole installed with a new track fastened on the mast one of their guys even stayed a Friday evening to get the work done. But we were also a bit stressed to keep moving. Charlotte’s uncle would be arriving in Guadeloupe in just two days, and we had a 24 hour sail to get to him. But as we had waited this long for the batteries, our gut feeling told us that we wanted to have this exact model and we didn’t know when or where we would find them next. Charlotte’s uncle kindly offered to take the ferry from Guadeloupe to Martinique upon arrival and the matter was settled. We would take another few days of exploring together while waiting for the batteries.
We cruised out to Sainte Anne, once again, to offer the Caribbean palm tree vibe from start when Charlotte’s uncle arrived and followed the coastal trail for a hike along the small beaches offering lizard spotting and even encountered the occasional goat picking on some grass strands.
Once the weekend and a few extra days had passed, our to do list for boat projects was more or less completed (well as completed as it ever gets on a boat) and we were aware that the entire staff knew what we wanted once we entered the boat store. They had probably labeled us “the annoying battery couple”. But after 16 days we finally had our new batteries!
With the extremely precious cargo we dinghied back with Puffling and we had a full afternoon of installation work. For once (knock on wood) the installation ran smoothly and we didn’t have a single hiccup. This is truly amazing for being on a boat and we could happily conclude that we were ready to leave Le Marin. Le Marin had been a great stop for us, having everything we needed, but we were ready to move on.
We cruised further north, explored the island a bit more with a great stop at Saint Pierre offering rich history with volcanic eruptions and several wrecks that now provide popular diving spots. There was even a local rum distillery that had an open house where we could roam the fields, production site and buy bottles of rum for the boat. What a great end to our stop on Martinique before leaving at sunset at the end of February for a night sail to Guadeloupe. Better charged than ever before 😉