10th March - 26th April 2003


After spending a day in Sainte Anne with our friends aboard Sea Eagle, it was time to move into the anchorage at Le Marin, about three miles away, to start work on our engine problems.    Le Marin is a very sheltered bay, home to around 600 yachts.  We've never seen so many masts in one place!   It also provides all the essential services for yachtsmen and plenty of opportunities to part you from your cash!


Our friends Graham and Ann on Rasi were already in the anchorage and we decided to anchor close to them in a spot convenient for both the boatyard and supermarket.    As ever we approached the anchorage cautiously, we're probably the most cautious anchorers in the world but still somehow we found ourselves unexpectedly stopped as we ran aground.    A swift bit of reversing by the helmswoman and the skipper never even knew about our sudden stop!   Luckily the bottom was only soft mud and even after consulting the chart, we can't understand how we hit the bottom in an area with a charted depth of 5 metres.  



Phil hard at work "down the hole".

Once safely anchored we spent a couple of days trying to work out why the engine has been sporadically spluttering and cutting out.   The most obvious reason would be a fuel problem, so all the fuel filters were changed and the condition of the diesel in our tanks was checked by sending Phil "down the hole" to drain diesel off the bottom of each tank.    On discovering that the port tank was particularly contaminated with what seemed to be bits of metal, we decided to filter all the diesel we had aboard, about 150 litres, with an elaborate and cheap but very time consuming improvised filtering system - Phil drained out a bottle full of diesel at a time and Christine poured it through a funnel with a filter into the jerry cans.    Only two days later we were finished.    We're hoping that this may have been the cause of our problems but as a precaution also dosed our tanks of fuel with biocide, to prevent bugs growing in the fuel, although we haven't had problems with this so far.   Of course we won't know for sure that this has solved our problem until we use our motor to move to somewhere else.

Anju anchored in Sainte Anne with lots of her friends.



Needless to say, after all this smelly work, we were glad to return to the more picturesque anchorage at Sainte Anne, where we treated ourselves to a "holiday", taking part in all the organised activities on the beach.    Between the water aerobics classes, the dominoes and the boules matches, we only just managed to find time to nip to the bakery for those energizing chocolate croissants!   


With the number of cruising boats anchored in Sainte Anne, it is a wonderful place to meet up with other cruisers.   The majority are Americans and Canadians, although we found ourselves surrounded for a while by partying Swedes.     We have made lots of new friends.   



Not so friendly locals! - Barracuda.


One day we decided to go with friends Janine and Woody from Boat (excellent name) and Don and Nancy from Texas Reb, in our dinghies, to the next bay for a snorkeling adventure.    We were not disappointed, the area was a national park, with buoys provided to tie up to and the snorkeling was fantastic.  Due to the lack of wind and swell the previous week, the water was crystal clear.    

We were having so much fun, we decided to snorkel again after our picnic lunch and moved to a different spot, closer to shore, where the reefs were shallower.    We merrily swam over the reef, where the range of fish species was even better than before.   Suddenly, not far ahead, Phil spotted a school of around 15 - 20 large barracuda.   Barracuda, in large numbers, have a bad reputation and look particularly scary.   At this point we decided to return rather quickly to our dinghies and cut short our snorkeling trip, which was a shame but on hearing Nancy's barracuda-attack tales from Florida, it was probably for the best! 


France is famed for their culinary delights and we have certainly been enjoying the selection of fresh cheeses and salads in Martinique.   One day we also treated ourselves to a delicious wholegrain and ant baguette, which was a rather surprising combination and kept us entertained for a while tracking down the pesky little blighters which had escaped!   We decided that we won't be buying our bread from that bakery again!

We have also been able to buy fresh meat, rather that the frozen meat, which is all that is available in most of the other islands, and were able to return the hospitality of friends from Rasi (Graham and Ann), Boat (Janine and Woody) and Texas Reb (Nancy and Don) on a couple of occasions, with a traditional British roast dinner, followed of course by a game of dominoes.

Nancy, Woody, Phil "The Chef", Janine and Don eagerly awaiting the roast chicken dinner.


After all the practice at Boules, the Canadians decided it was time to challenge the British to a match.    As they'd already defeated both the Swedes and the Americans, we didn't rate our chances very highly.  However we entered wholeheartedly into the spirit of the competition, with a selection of silly costumes and dirty tricks designed to distract the opposition, including water pistols, horns and whistles, much to the amusement of passing locals.    

Despite the serious planning, particularly on the dirty tricks front, the Brits were defeated in the last game of the series of three but were happy to have at least won one of the games against such stiff competition.   To prove that we were not bad losers,  we all got together in the evening at a local pizzeria to celebrate the Canadians victory.   



                     The British team show their colours.                                               Phil preparing to do his bit for Queen and country.


It seems like Sainte Anne is not only a place for making new friends, we've also been reunited with friends we haven't seen since Tenerife.    The first surprise was had was to meet Martin and Karen of Tarquilla who had shared our pontoon in Santa Cruz.

Later in Sainte Anne we heard someone knocking on the hull and went outside to find Swedish friends Rolf and Agneta from Sahara and their daughter Emma, famous for getting us drunk before breakfast time on the day of the festival of Saint Lucia back in Tenerife.   It was great to catch up with them again as we weren't expecting to be able to see them again, thinking they were on their way back to Sweden.    

Agneta and Rolf from Sahara aboard Anju.

Yole racing.


The locals of Martinique regularly entertained us with the regular "yole" races.   The "yoles" are sailing boats, with large square sails and no keels, which only seem to stay upright as a result of the exertions of their crews hanging over the side on long poles to stop the boat from capsizing.    It was fascinating to watch and we were greatly relieved that we don't have to do the same on Anju!


One day Christine had a strange feeling that all was not well with the generator and persuaded Phil to take off the cover and take a look inside.   Sure enough we found the bearing on the end of the shaft in bits, which could have been disastrous if not spotted quickly.    Next job was to work out how to get the bearing out.   Phil came up with two options and asked Christine to choose.   Plan A - remove all connections and mounting bolts from the generator, then devise some way to lift the generator high enough above the soundproofing box to be able to remove the end plate and generator.   Plan B - take a hacksaw to the soundproofing box and cut a hole to allow the end plate and bearing to come off while the generator stayed put, with a later repair to the soundproofing box using the worlds greatest miracle of duct tape.    Christine quickly voted for plan B.  

Luckily we found that the bearing is a common one, which was available on the island for a cost of only 17 euros.   The generator was quickly repaired and a very neat job done with the duct tape!    


After repairing the generator so cheaply and without outside help, we decided to treat ourselves to a day out in a hire car, to give us a chance to visit the interior of the island.    Of course, we had to justify this to ourselves by getting our gas bottles filled on the way, an adventure which involved touring all the industrial estates on the island but was finally completed successfully.

During what remained of our day out, we visited the Caravelle peninsula on the east coast, which was a lovely, quiet and unspoiled region.   Drove up to the north of the island in the menacing shadow of Mount Pele, the volcano which killed 30,000 people in 1902.   We visited the "Les Ombrages" botanical gardens, which turned out to be more of an semi-tamed rainforest that a manicured garden but where we had a lovely walk in the shade from the trees.    We wound our way back to Fort-de-France through the rainforest covered mountains of the centre of the island and rounded our day off with a trip to a large shopping mall.   Our island visit ended with a pleasant hour sitting in a traffic jam south of Fort-de-France.   We were surprised how tiring we found travelling by car after so long without one and realised why we don't miss it much.



More friendly local we met in the Les Ombrages botanical gardens.

After only a couple of trips in Anju to Marin and back, only a couple of miles, we were concerned to note that the vibration and noise from our cutlass bearing (the one where the propshaft comes out of the hull before the propellor is attached) had become much worse and felt we couldn't put off hauling out to sort it out.    We approached the popular boatyard in Marin and asked for a quote to haul out there.    On hearing the price and checking again to make sure the lady wasn't joking, we decided quickly that it was high time to finally visit Trinidad and haul out there!    The cost was double that of Trinidad or Venezuela.

Before we left, however, we were roped into a boules competition, cruisers v. France.    The enthusiasm of the French was somewhat under-whelming.   We managed to round up five teams of two, despite the cruisers' expectation of being thrashed by the French players.    The French only managed to find one team and guess who got to play against them first, yes, Team Anju.   We were expecting an embarrassing defeat and our surprise was that it was an embarrassing defeat but not for us.   Although they struggled to win any points again us Jean-Pierre and Claude was really good fun, perhaps their long French lunch had taken its toll on their boules game!  

We took a lovely walk with Janine and Woody (Boat) over to the large golden beach at Les Salines, right on the south of the island.    After the long walk we were glad of a refreshing dip in the sea but the waves were really quite boisterous, Phil got knocked over and banged his head and Janine lost her sunglasses when she was bowled over.   At this point we decided ice cream was a safer cooling off option.

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