Sailing with the Frenchies

In Les Anses d’Arlet we met up with Gigi, Bobs old crew member from before who had travelled to Martinique to get a broken finger fixed. He was there  working in a bar which became a favourite haunt of ours, and where we met some of his friends from France who had sailed here on a lovely three masted boat, Rara Avis (rare bird), owned by the “association” a sort of vocational sail training organisation who own another boat, Le Belle Espoire and a ship yard in Laborack.

Gigi was keen to show of the boat he had been sailing on and it was decided that we would head out for a day sail and try to get the topsail up, which requires light winds due to the heeling momentum it provides because of how high up it is. So the frenchies sorted a picnic and piled aboard then we set off from the mooring, under sail, which was not too hard as the way had been nicely cleared that morning by other boats leaving, and headed out in the direction of Fort de France with two reefs in the main sail and the staysail and jib up.



We sailed for a few hours, past Le Baie de Fort de France and heaved to, spending a little time trying to work out the best position for the sails and deciding eventually that it was better to twke the jib down and just use the main and staysail. Although at this time we were still making around a knot, Edward decided that the water looked nice enough and took a dive in, holding onto the boat and being dragged along for a little to cool down.


During his dip lunch was brought out into the cockpit, and in true french style it was lovely, there was some pasta and dips prepared onboard Rara by their cook who till this point I hadn’t realised  was sailing with us, french cheese, sausage, pate, tomatoes, and obviously French bread… Altogether one very yummy spread.


After lunch we headed north again shaking out the reefs in the shadow of the hills and hoping to find a sheltered enough section to pop up the top sail, but alas it was not to be and whe we turned around to head back to the bay we had to put the two reefs back in as we entered the wind funnel out side Le Baie de Fort de France.


On the way back into the moorings we decided we would sail the whole way, or at least attempt to. Spreading ourselves around the boat to cover the various tasks that would be needed to ensure that sailing the whole way was possible. I stayed back in the cockpit after the tacks to adjust the sails to aid with steering when we needed to avoid other boats.


We managed to weave our way through the boats all the time looking for a mooring buoy but being unable to find one we settled for anchoring near thefront and just next to Rara Avis. We almost managed to sail the whole way, under much scrutiny from the rest of the boats In the anchorage many of whom had cameras out. We found out later that even the divers had been told to stop what they were doing and watch us! Many thanks to Iain for taking photos and more importantly sending them to us 🙂 When we were nearly where we wanted to go, only one tack left, the jib decided that it didnt really want to stay on the boat and took a dive for freedom resulting in us using the motor, which had been in neutral the whole time just in case, whilst the others fished the jib out of the water and we dropped the anchor quickly followed by the remaining sails.


All in all a very successful day with smiles all round.


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