Au Revoir, Martinique!

A Week Aboard S/V Sabado: 11/26/2023 – 12/3/2023

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Last Sunday, we went to shore to explore the city of Saint-Pierre. We walked up and down the cobblestone streets, poking our heads into shops and stepping into a cafe for lunch before finding Rue de la Prison (Prison Street). After reading up on the story of Ludger Sylbaris, I had to see what was left of the cell that kept him alive! Ludger was a local drunk who was known for instigating fights. He had been detained and thrown into solitary confinement just two days before Mount Pelée erupted in 1902, wiping out the city of Saint-Pierre. He was found by a rescue team four days after the eruption. He described seeing the sky turn black through the small slit above the doorway. He removed his clothes and shoved them into the opening to block the ash from coming in. He was severely burned but was the only person on land to survive. Today, you can visit the ruins of the prison and see his cell!

After being rescued, Ludger was pardoned for his crimes and began touring with the circus, telling his story as “the man who survived doomsday.” We also visited the memorial museum, where they displayed the names of ~7,000 of the victims that they could identify, as well as some of the items they recovered after the eruption. It was interesting to see the little details of what this city once was…

The coastline of Saint- Pierre is littered with shipwrecks from the subsequent tsunamis. So, on Monday afternoon, I decided to see what I could find. I grabbed my snorkel gear and jumped in! Unfortunately, the remaining wreckage was pretty deep, and the visibility was not the greatest, but I enjoyed the swim and even saw a Spotted Eagle Ray!

We took the dinghy back to Sabado, showered, and were relaxing in our saloon when Ray noticed another boat practically on top of us- they were dragging anchor, and no one was aboard. We sprung into action: Ray started the engines while I quickly put some fenders on our port side. We pulled the anchor up and put some distance between them and us. Just then, we saw a dinghy heading our way. We waved them down. It was the owners of the dragging vessel. We let them know what was going on, and they were able to board their boat and gain control of the situation before anything else happened. We moved to the other end of the beach, re-anchored, and high-fived each other for quick and efficient teamwork! 🙏🏼 We poured ourselves a glass of champagne and watched the sunset from our bean bag chairs.

We decided we were ready for a change of scenery, so we went to shore Tuesday afternoon to check out of the country. We stopped by the market to grab one last French baguette, then went home for a good night’s rest. We hoisted the sails Wednesday morning and headed to Dominica. The wind was light and finicky until we got out of the island’s shadow, but we had a great sail from then on! With TWS 17-20kn and a SOG of 7.8kn, we bridged the gap between Martinique and Dominica.

I completed the ceremonious currency exchange, cleaning out the Euro from the bottom of my purse and swapping it out for the sandwich baggie of EC I had kept from Grenada. It feels so good to be back on the move!

We lost the wind just 30mins from our destination, so we started an engine and dropped the sails. We hopped onto a wimpy-looking mooring ball near Roseau for the night.

Our batteries were fully charged, so we pulled out the ice maker and threw in a load of laundry. Just before sunset, another boat came in. They got on the ball in front of us, and we were too close for comfort. We kept an eye on them as we spun around the rest of the evening; at times, we were just a couple of meters away from each other! It didn’t help that we didn’t trust our mooring and had no idea what theirs looked like. We set a tight range on our anchor alarm that night but struggled to sleep, frequently going upstairs to survey our surroundings. The next morning was dark and gloomy. It rained off and on, and the air smelled like sewage.

We decided to move along. The little wind we had was right on our nose, so we motored for a couple of hours to get to Portsmouth. I managed to finish some chores while we were underway and was pleasantly surprised with the extra large, foam-rimmed mooring we grabbed upon our arrival. 🙂

We were warmly welcomed by a slew of boat boys selling us fresh fruit, inviting us to BBQs, and offering to take us on tours. I’ve always gotten the impression that the people of Dominica genuinely enjoy having sailors visit, and anytime we mention that this is our favorite island, locals are eager to encourage us to stay and pursue citizenship. 😂 We bought our fill of fruit and organized some sightseeing, then ventured to shore for dinner. Ray had found a spot within walking distance with good reviews online, but when we arrived, we were the only people there, and it looked nothing like the photos. We sat down, confused, and ordered a beer. After some more research, we realized the reviews we read were for another restaurant and had been accidentally posted under this restaurant’s Google listing! With our hearts set on the photos we saw, we grabbed a taxi to the actual restaurant and had a fantastic evening chatting with locals and a couple of other travelers over rum and lobster.

We spent the day Friday working from the boat while squalls passed through, one after another. When we woke up to sunshine and clear skies Saturday morning, we decided to head to shore for a walk. We walked down to the market, gawking at the mounds of fresh produce. Dominica is nicknamed “the island where no one starves” because of its fertile soil and favorable climate. We were told it’s not uncommon for people here to live to over 100 because of the abundance of produce in their diet! We didn’t bring grocery bags, so we shopped with our eyes this time. We stopped by a cafe for breakfast and happily enjoyed our meal with a sleepy puppy at our feet and this view:

We returned to the dinghy dock and spent the afternoon swimming and eating fruit. That evening, we attended a BBQ hosted by the Portsmouth Association of Yacht Services (PAYS). For 60 EC per person (~22 USD), we were served all-you-can-eat/drink rum punch, grilled chicken, rice, and salad! We met a few other boaters and swapped cruising plans, then danced and watched karaoke before calling it a night. 

This morning is calm and quiet. We don’t have any plans, so we’ll see what the day brings! 

I hope you had a great week. ❤️

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