The majesty of the deep.

4th April 2022

St Annes, Martinique – Grand Anse D’Artlets, Martinique

When Weightwatchers was conceived their idea of weight management through a carefully constructed scheme of calorie counting, portion control and support networks they didn’t reckon with all the qualities that are found in French islands. French islands ooze with supermarkets filled with cheese and bread while sweet aromas waft down every street giving away the secrets of hidden kitchens. While in Martinique Ruffian and ‘The Ruffians’ have been playing their own, very unsuccessful game, of Weightwatchers.

Nothing sets you up for a diet like going on a big supermarket shop and we’d not been to a supermarket since filling Ruffian all those months ago in the Canaries. After 5 months the cupboards were bare, Ruffian’s waterline was high and our dinner concoctions had been becoming increasingly bizarre. Martinique was perfectly setup to rectify this situation.

Parking Brock at the Leader Price dinghy dock we selected a trolly of gargantuan proportions and headed into aisles that stretched into the distance, disappeared overhead and were stocked with all sorts of colourful processed produce. Fiona had only eyes for 2 colours*, red and white, and set about selecting bottle after bottle while Iain got all excited about finding food of unnatural hues with use-by dates scarily far into the future.

With no more space in the trolley and worrying that we’d overload Brock we headed back to Ruffian to start the joyous task of labelling and packing everything away. Just when we thought a locker was full Ruffian seemed to happily absorb more and just as Fiona thought that Iain had reached his autistic tessellation limits, he rose to the challenge replacing air with yet more tins.

Martinique was not helping with weight loss as Ruffian became heavier with each grocery load and, we knew, eventually all those groceries end up inside us. Martinique however was about to redeem itself.

The coastline of Martinique gave Iain endless opportunities for mischief and after selling a ‘gentle hike’, with lots of ‘bail out’ options to Fiona we set out with SV Juliana.in tow. Sweating under the searing morning sun beach after beach shone offering picture perfect Caribbean views where palm trees swung in the cooling breeze and occasionally kissed the gentle surf.

Soon however, the beaches were behind us and we were now in the desert like surroundings of the salt flats. Here any moisture was wicked away from the ground and no shade inducing trees could survive. It also made navigation tricky as we simply strolled past non-existent ‘bail out’ options enabling Iain to execute his plan of a longer hike.

After burning a multitude of calories, we felt we deserved a slap-up French lunch and settled into the convivial surrounds of Café BouBou. With expectations set of steak haché bokits and pomme frites served next to refreshing Martinique beer our host appeared with an air of exhaustion and grief. The cook was done with cooking, wanted a break and our expectations and hope weren’t enough to drive her back to the grill. This was French Weightwatchers.

Ruffian was also in the process of losing weight. For days we’d been watching the power flow in from the solar panels and realised that while windy the wind vane spun and cast shadows, that was all he did. His shadows took more power than he made and he had to be put out to pasture.

Precariously balancing on a stool on top of step Iain held Windy’s bolts while Fiona undid them and little by little Windy came free. Delicately manoeuvring his razor-sharp blades over the top of the fragile panels we realised that not only was he costing us power, all that weight and windage had also been costing us speed. Windy had served us well but his place was now on the cruisers net and not Ruffian.

The exercise continued as we sailed into the idyllic Grand Anse d’Artlets and took to the underwater world. Plunging into what we though would be crystal clear water we were dismayed that we couldn’t see the bottom, but then it moved! Millions upon millions of fish swarmed around us, obscuring the seabed and when we dived down, blocking the sun. It was like swimming in a murmuration of starlings as they ebbed and flowed around us, darted around rocks and scatted at the sea wall.

When the fish cleared, they revealed a world of colourful corals that covered every surface and gently wafted in the swell. They also revealed a breath-taking sight. Where the coral gave way to grass, turtles quietly grazed and as they sought new pastures, a single pump of their fins drove them effortlessly though the water.

Now that Ruffian is full once again, we will take it upon ourselves to help her loose her new weight and with clear bays and high hills on the horizon in Martinique and Dominica should do the same for us. This is our version of Weightwatchers.

* Technically there were 3 colours but in Iain’s mind Rose is just a 50/50 mixture of red wine and white wine. Surely he’s not wrong?

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

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