Episode 2: The unknown east side of Martinique

Suus turns off the engine. The overwhelming silence that results from shutting the engine down and having the sails up is amazing. We only hear the wind and the water that shoots down the hull of Yndeleau. Playful dolphins welcome us back at sea, it seems like they were waiting for us to finally go out. We are finally sailing towards the horizon that was staring at us for months. Just like many people around the world, Covid-19 and the lockdown kept us as prisoners. We were not allowed to move the boat, snorkel, kitesurf, or do other activities. Going to shore to do shopping was only allowed with an official form and we had to be back at the boat within an hour. Bit by bit, we are getting more freedom.

We are sailing again 397x530 - Episode 2: The unknown east side of Martinique

My knee feels better every day. Five weeks ago I had surgery to fix a torn meniscus. I know… How on earth did that happen in a lockdown?! I still don’t know, maybe the many fails when I practiced the unhooked railey weeks before caused the damage, and now the whole thing tore even more. Luckily, the surgery went well and I am on my way back. Ready to sail and almost ready to kitesurf.

We are on our way to the east side of Martinique. In the Caribbean, the wind always blows from the east, giving this windward side a wild coast with large ocean waves. But, unknown by many, there are many reefs that break up the waves, creating perfect sheltered anchorages, and yes, oh yes, numerous flat water spots!

Boink. Boink. “We need to get the hell out of here, Suus!”. With every wave, the 20 tons of Yndeleau hit the bottom. Suus puts the engine in reverse and slowly we are moving away from the shallow spot. Our maps show that there should be enough water but they seem to be a bit outdated. We are trying to get as close to the kitespot in Vauclin as possible but unfortunately, we cannot anchor closely to this flatwater dream. Palm trees, sand beach, and a nice surf vibe welcome you here. Unfortunately for us, we cannot “park” the boat close to the spot but need to drop our anchor on a spot where there are huge waves rolling in. Uncomfortable to say the least, and not without danger. Not the perfect beginning of our exploration of the east side…

After a sleepless night, almost falling out of bed thanks to the large waves, we continue our trip north via the coast. After three hours of navigating through reefs, we arrive safely at Le Francois. We anchor near an inhabited island. Two other boats are already anchored there. One of them, a Martinican man and his girlfriend invite us directly for a local Ti’ Punch. The local drink with, of course, rum. The day after we also meet the other boat’s crew. Sébastien and Anne-Sophie live on their catamaran and operate the Azur Kiteschool from there. They invite us to join them next day on a kite trip. Le Francois has a huge area of flat water, but only one really ‘petit’ beach. This beach is only reachable by driving a speedboat against the wind and waves. Our small dinghy (rubber boat) is not ready for such a battle, so we hop on the large speedboat. During this trip, Sébastien and his wife, Anne-Sophie, teach us to start from our dinghy and to start from our own boat. The water is so flat I try two small sessions with my knee. I am back in the water again! What a feeling. After a beautiful afternoon, Suus follows the speedboat with a crazy speedy downwinder back to Yndeleau again.

Carying all gear to the speedboad for the return copy - Episode 2: The unknown east side of Martinique

Carying all gear to the speedboad for the return

The only beach in Le Francois area copy - Episode 2: The unknown east side of Martinique

The only beach in Le Francois area copy

Anne Sophie from Azur Kite explains us how to launch from the boat copy - Episode 2: The unknown east side of Martinique

Anne-Sophie from Azur Kite explains us how to launch from the boat copy

A week later we continue our exploration of the East coast. Another inhabited island marks our anchorage close to Le Robert. Beautiful clear water, just next to the boat we catch spine lobsters, squids and snappers for an after-kite session BBQ on the island. A really small beach offers an ok-ish launch point. We choose to try our new learned skills and start from Yndeleau. Look at the drone pictures from this place! Heaven!

In a couple of days, we are leaving Martinique. We will be sailing 100 miles, around 18 hours, to St Vincent. This is the main island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. They just opened up their borders again. We will need to be tested on our arrival, but we have completed all the formalities and are almost ready to leave. This last week, we’ll be doing groceries, some small fix-ups on the boat, and we’ll pick up one part that we ordered. As you can read in the last episode, we already visited one very cool kitespot (Union Island) in this amazing country that consists of numerous small islands. Now, we will have time for many, many more. Prepare yourself for remote spots with the bluest water you have ever seen. Stay tuned!

We are almost ready to go to the Grenadines - Episode 2: The unknown east side of Martinique

We are almost ready to go to the Grenadines

Words: Jurre Witte

You can follow Jurre and Suus’ adventure on Facebook, Instagram and on Youtube.

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