Day 14 – Back to Marin, Martinique

Customs opens at 8am, so Kelley, Sheven and I dingy over to shore when they should be open. They aren’t open. We go pay The Moorings for our mooring rental, then wait around for Customs to open. A taxi driver that Sheven has recruited says that it’s Saturday and sometimes the Customs guys drink too much on Friday nights.

Waiting for customs
Waiting for customs

Finally at about 9, a guy shows up. He gives me the big form to fill out, which I do and then try to give him. He waves we off, pointing to the empty desk next to his. He is Immigration, and the empty desk is Customs, which needs to process my form first.

We wait around for another hour or so, wondering if we’ve missed our chance to make it all the way back to Martinique today.

Finally, Mr. Customs show up. He’s a bit of a bully (or hung over?) and is shouting things in Creole at everyone. He takes my form, looks at it, then tells me I need to fill another form out so that the one clearing into St. Lucia shows Sheven and the one clearing out does not have Sheven.

So, I fill out another form without Sheven and give him both forms. He starts processing them, gives them back to me. Turns out the second form I filled out was missing the carbon paper for the copies, so I need to fill it out again. Finally, after the third form and lots of stamping and signatures we were done.

Ginger waiting patiently to go home to Martinique
Ginger waiting patiently to go home to Martinique

We are a little flustered about being so late to depart so we say a rapid goodbye to Sheven. She hops in her taxi and takes off, Kelley and I dingy back to Ginger. Loren and Susan have been wondering what was taking us so long. They had tried to reach us via radio, but Mr. Customs had made me turn our radio off. We get everything ready for departure, drop lines and start motoring.

The Moorings base at Marigot Bay
The Moorings base at Marigot Bay

The boat boy/man comes rushing up in his skiff. I assume he wanted to help with our mooring lines, but we are already free. He shouts that we still have the passport of the lady who recently left via Taxi. Oops! In our rush to get moving, Sheven’s passport was still in my dry bag. She had been gone for about 20 minutes and fortunately her driver called back to send word.

It’s a good thing – we were about 1 minute from being out of Marigot bay and out of touch. We give the boat man her passport in a ziplock bag. He runs it to shore. I think we were on autopilot, and from our dealings with the boat man last night, he seemed like a good, honest person. In hindsight, we should have waited for Sheven to come back, even if it meant not getting boat back to Marin tonight. [Postscript: as it happens, the boat man *was* honest and Sheven got her passport. We worried for a couple of days, though, until we talked to her and she was safely home. We were lucky. It would have been a real mess if her passport had gone missing.]

We motor out of Marigot keeping as close as possible to the western shore of St. Lucia, trying to stay upwind as much as possible. We pass Castries, where we had picked Sheven up 10 days ago, then Rodney Bay where we spent our first night on St. Lucia. After we pass Pigeon Rock the winds seem more consistent and we hoist sail.

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We are pointed straight for Marin, but we’ve learned from experience that there is an approximate 2 knt current going west, and we seem to blow/slip about 1 knt when heading up in a heavy wind. Thus we know we’ll probably be 8-10 NM west of Marin when we reach Martinique. We decide to take this approach though, since we will be able to sail the passage (faster), then motor about 2 hrs to Marin rather than motoring the whole way.

The winds are quite lively and gusting to 32 knts, we are double reefed and bouncing along at 8-9 knots. Pretty good for upwind.

Sure enough, as we get closer to Martinique, we can see that we’ve been swept quite a ways west and almost down to Fort De France. As we blow by south and west of the landmark Diamond Rock, we drop the sails and start motoring for Marin. It takes a couple hours of motoring, but soon we are at the entrance to Marin. Watching the charts and markers carefully, we make our way around the reefs and to our docking area.

Susan driving us back to Martinique
Susan driving us back to Martinique

It is approaching 6pm and we assume Regis Guillemot is probably closed, so we plan to check out the docking area. If there is space, we will tie up for the night and hopefully get some water. We are out of water again because it turns out we only got approximately 40 gallons at Willilabou. If there isn’t space, we’ll head back out and anchor someplace nearby.

As we approach the dock area, Regis himself comes motoring by in a Zodiac. Since he speaks only French and our French is not at all good, he pantomines that he is going out to bring another boat back, then he’ll be back for us. At this point we also realize that we’re supposed to have filled up the tank with fuel before we return.

So, we spin around and head for the fuel dock. Turns out that’s where Regis is also getting on the other boat to bring it in. The fuel dock manager waves us off and says they are closed (twice) while we are idlying nearby. Apparently Regis had some words with him, because suddenly he is open again and waves us into a dock area.

After tanking up we head over to our dock area. Soon, Regis motors over in the Zodiac and jumps on board, takes the helm and backs us up into a tiny/awkward spot, where his men grab lines and tie us off very nicely. I don’t think I would have attempted to get Ginger into such a tiny spot and I’m thankful Regis works late.

We get a water hose and for the first time in 2 weeks, shore power. We start washing all of the salt off of Ginger (she is quite encrusted). There is a big DJ party of some kind on the shore near our dock with many hundreds of people and blaring caribbean rap music. After about an hour it ends, and peace settles into our dock area.

The carcass of an unfortunate boat in the Cul De Sac at Marin
The carcass of an unfortunate boat in the Cul De Sac at Marin

This has been quite the trip and I’m thankful that it’s ended without any significant mishaps. We’ve sailed hundreds of miles through some fairly heavy wind and seas, and we’ve visited some incredible places.

Tomorrow we’ll finish packing, clean the boat up and head for a day of hanging out in Fort De France before getting our flight early Monday morning.

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