March 18-21 - Trois Ilets and On Southward
Across the bay (“anse” in French) from Fort-de-France are several good anchorages. Early afternoon, after having had lunch. we got inspired to make a move. There was no need for our normal preparation because Trois Ilets was only a hop-and-a-skip away. We were soon on our way.
We anchored in six meters depth behind one of the small three islands (hence the name Trois Ilets) that lie off the small village. As soon as we got settled, the wind started picking up to twenty plus knots. We considered taking the dinghy to shore but decided against it - it would be a wet ride in.
The wind pretty much blew hard all through the night. In the morning, in spite of the wind, we went to shore. Trois Ilets is a quaint and peaceful village. Many of the buildings have red, fish-scale tile roofs giving them a rustic and gingerbread cottage appearance. Very handsome. We walked passed an elementary school and as we did, I took a couple of photos of the kids playing. One of the women watching over the kids came out and started yelling at me in French for five minutes even when I was giving her my best puzzled look and spoke only English back at her. I was considering showing her that I would erase the two photos I had taken, but she was in such a tizzy that I just ended up walking away. But I learned my lesson - no more photos of kids on playgrounds.
The following day we motored a mile or two further and plunked our anchor down in Anse Mitan. Most of the area is on a peninsula, with a touristy village on one end and a marina with shops and restaurants on the other. At the tip of the peninsula, with spectacular beaches and views of Fort-de-France there is a large boarded-up hotel. Really strange that a place like that would have gone out of business.
We got back to the boat by 1 o’clock and again had the urge to move on - this place wasn’t doing it for us. We decided to try and make it to Marin, which is in the far south of the island, about fifteen miles away. With the strong easterly winds, it would be a snap.
At least that’s what we thought. We had a nice broad reach sail for a short while but it soon turned into a 25 knot southern wind. We dropped the sails and motored. The seas picked up and with the strong winds, it was slow going. We passed by some interesting bays and beaches and went in between Diamond Rock, a historic rock just of the coast.
Apparently, Admiral Nelson, back in the early 1800’s commissioned Diamond Rock as a British ship. Incredibly, he had his men climb to the top of this rock and haul up canons and supplies so they could shoot at French ships moving around the island. Needless to say, that didn’t please Napoleon too much. He sent ships to take care of the problem. But the British hung in there raising a raucous for eighteen months. When we sailed passed the rock, I couldn’t even imagine climbing it, much less hauling canons straight up.
We got into the Marin area a little too late to navigate into the harbor, so instead, we opted to pull in to the nearby village of Sainte Anne’s. In the morning we took the dinghy ashore to St. Annes. From the moment we stepped ashore, it had a comfortable feel to it - not so touristy, a working village, but still cute. It had a tree-lined central square (actually a rectangle) with a church on one end and stores and restaurants on each side. On the east side of town, overlooking the harbor, there was a beautiful, mostly white, cemetery. Back at the town square, we were quite surprised when we found out we could get free wi-fi sitting on one of the benches in the square.
While we walked around, a sudden rain surprised us. Luckily, it was after noon - we stopped at a nearby café and had a beer. It was only a one-beer shower. We returned to Lahaina Roads and had our lunch.