Wednesday, January 2, 2013
ANSE MITAN MARTINIQUE
Elephant's Child brought in the New Year anchored off from Anse Mitan, a resort, that celebrated with a grand fireworks performance at midnight. Just so everyone knows, it woke us both up. John got up and glanced at it from his vantage near the cockpit and Jan watched the entire display through the front hatch. The solar panels were dutifully faced away from the display by the Captain prior to his retiring to his bunk!
We were greeted by a spectacular day with winds out of the NE at 15-20 and brilliant sunshine all day. It was a perfect day by Caribbean standards. The breeze kept the temperature down while letting us enjoy the sunshine. We spent the day on and around the boat, leaving for a snorkel that was so close to us we swam rather than taking the dingy.
For a fairly low visibility snorkel we found lots to snap pictures of including: cuttle fish in a fishpot, a jacknife fish, big eyes, squirrel fish, a moon jellyfish, a sandiver and tons of beautiful coral. Thanks be to Picasa for it's wonderful way with photos in lower visibility water.
As we sat in the cockpit sipping our sundowners,
we were treated to a GREEN FLASH on the horizon, and a lovely colorful display that held on for a long time before darkness closed in. It's been a relaxing Holiday day spent in the cockpit reading, snacking and enjoying the ambiance offered by this lovely country. The French make a BIG thing of New Years so going ashore would have meant nothing open, just sightseeing in a more modern, populated area. We opted for the boat! That's not to say there are no enticements ashore; yesterday the ice cream we had was yet another demonstration of the French talent for all things dairy. John was disappointed to see that there was a strike by the longshoremen that resulted in no Camembert or Brie on store shelves…... as he stood there with two baguettes in hand ready for the cheese and wine to go along with it. To be clear, Jan wasn't voting against it.....in fact she deferred to him given his height and general presence, thinking it would be more effective in getting results.
Martinique, as you can see from the picture across the bay from us,
has some tall, pointed peaks surrounded by what appears to be worn down mountains. This topography is in fact the result of a Andesite or ash type of volcano that produces pyroclastic flows (hot gases that roll down at speed from the volcano). Martinique had it's last big eruption in 1976.
Another volcano of the same type that is more familiar to most is Montserrat. So the appearance of low lying mountains is in fact the accumulation of ash flows. This ash produced very fertile ground easily depleted when used for mono culture (bananas). Most of the Caribbean islands were given a protected European market for their bananas at roughly twice the going rate. That went away with the GATT Agreement in 1994 leaving farmer's with two insults to their income: hurricanes and disappearing government price supports. Bearing this in mind, it's interesting to compare Martinique with Dominica, where an effort was made by Dame Eugenia Charles to resist over reliance on bananas and tourism preferring the smaller cruise ships primarily used for eco-tourism to the large cruise liners. She set out to make Dominica as self sufficient for food and financial solvency as possible. Eventually even Dominica gave in and built a large cruise ship port.
The cruise ship industry , as well as the Cruisers, are now a major source of income throughout the islands. It has been clear on every island we've visited that there is a real effort made to protect visitors from any difficulty. In the case of the cruise ships, they just stop coming with marked financial repercussions. In the case of the Cruiser's a few mentions on a blog such as the Grenada's Cruiser's Net and yachts just don't come inflicting a real financial penalty for the actual or perceived lack of safety. In the 90's when John was visiting Bequia, a local person stole his dingy during the night returning it the next morning clearly expecting a reward. After giving him $40 for his efforts, John snapped a picture of him and made his way to the local police. The Sargent didn't seem to need the picture after hearing John's brief description of the incident. Later the same day he was called to the police station where the man who ''rescued'' the dingy was in a chair waiting with a battered and bruised appearance. John was asked to confirm the identity of the man and stood by horrified as the police proceeded to further beat the man as he watched. This is not to say everywhere is safe, it's not. But there is no reason to find yourself in a place you shouldn't be if some common sense is used. The cruising guide written by Chris Doyle is very good at providing some guidance and information about the interesting things in most areas of the Windward Islands. We were delighted to have him anchor next to us for a few nights while we were in Rodney Bay on his catamaran, Ti Kanot. While in Grande Anse D'Arlet John wrote to Chris Doyle about the new mooring buoys throughout the bay to let him know they were there only to receive a note back saying he knew they were planned. As with most mooring in the Caribbean there's isn't a plan for regular maintenance. There is a reported fight over who will get the revenue that will eventually be generated from their rental. Currently they are free.
It is with deep sadness that we have to report the demise of yet another camera; John's faithful companion for four years of underwater exploration has finally given up the will to live.
He is heating up a soldering iron for an attempt at reviving things....admitting it doesn't look good. I suggested he try some intravenous fluids....but John suggests that an excess of saline might indeed be the problem.
Despite it costing only $40 it has produced some excellent pics but the limited capacity of only 35 pics and no zoom has me itching for better, but what? I can't make up my mind and wonder if a $400 camera will get better pics.
OK OK I am a tight Scots git !
Whitney, on the other hand, received her mother's request for a camera purchase on eBay. Pentax WG-1, if you please!!
Finally we saw this go past us. Wonder if he is a car dealer.
Posted by John Duncker at 4:03 PM