New Crew & Billfish
15th to19th June 2010

14° 26.0' N; 60° 53.1' W

Le Marin, Martinique, French West Indies

    Watermaker Faker        

Martinique – St Pierre

From what had appeared to be quite a modern, sophisticated town in darkness – good navigation lights and a well lit coastal road – turned out in daylight to be a little down at heel. I’d read that the whole village was decimated and everyone killed in the eruption of Mt Pelee in 1902 but surely they’d got over it by now?!

St Pierre turned out to be a pleasant & pretty town built around the waterfront and with a quaint, quiet colonial atmosphere, although we were a little alarmed to discover a coffin shop in the middle of the high street!

Bought some baguettes in haste and pulled up the anchor!


St Pierre; pretty waterfront

I would have really enjoyed this sunset if I hadn't just run out of diesel!

St Pierre to Marin

I’d hoped to get some work done on the watermaker in Marin, in the south of Martinique, so we headed down the coast to get this underway. What started out as a pleasant coastal sail south with the wind on the beam and my first sighting of a dolphin turned into a nightmare of a beat eastward to reach Marin later the same afternoon.

Getting jaded with going to windward and making little progress, I fired up the motor, only to have it cut out a few minutes later in what clearly sounded like a running out of fuel incident! Fortunately my “crew who loves engines “was right in there and I had 40 litres of spare diesel in cannisters in the back locker which went into the tanks. I heaved a huge sigh of relief when the engine bled itself and started up again in no time, but motoring into the harbour was now out of the question and we settled into another long and tedious beat into shore. We finally dropped anchor just outside the Marin channel as it was getting dark.

St Pierre Coffin Shop

Anse D'Arlet

Feeling like we’d earned a nice meal ashore, we went in search of a decent restaurant and a good bottle of wine. We were let down in St Anne’s with a desolate town and very little choice for eating. Yet another unmemorable meal in an unmemorable restaurant in the Caribbean.

The next morning we headed up the channel to Marin and found an anchoring spot amongst the many reefs and many other anchored boats…certainly a busy place and seemingly the hub of yachting in Martinique. Moorings and Sunsail both have a base there, as do a few other smaller charter outfits. It was also interesting to see one of the transatlantic yacht transport vessels loading up for its next trip. They submerge the deck to allow boats to sail on board and then refloat and secure the vessels.

Diamond Rock from the shore

Marin; ships loading for a transatlantic crossing

I’d specifically wanted to go to Marin to see if my watermaker could be brought back into commission for a reasonable cost as the Caribbean agent for the brand is based here. So I called into the shop and explained that what I needed was for an engineer to come out to the boat and spend a couple of hours connecting/checking the connections on the pipes and supervising its running for the first time in who knows how long. Francois, the previous owner, had assured me that the membranes were both new and the unit had been checked and repaired in St Martin but just not re-commissioned. The guy agreed to come out on the Friday (18 th) at 10am. We spent a couple of days killing time in Marin, doing a little provisioning and some laundry, topping up the engine oil and repairing a sheared alternator bolt.

We had one nice meal and a few drinks one night there, but Marin is also pretty unremarkable and we were looking forward to heading off again.

Friday’s appointed time came and went for the watermaker and I had to go and chase the engineer. He eventually came out at 2pm, only to do a lot of sighing and ooh lala-ing and tell me that he would want to take the unit out and check it in his workshop…a minimum of 2 days’ labour at E400 (which would have been ok if that was all it needed) plus who knows how many other parts he would decide to replace and charge me for! I said thanks but no thanks. I have the manuals on board and at some point I’ll have a go at servicing it myself…..how hard can it be?!

  New Crew & Billfish

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