Thursday, March 18, 2010

Roseau to Port-de-France

March 16-17 - Roseau to St. Pierre and an Abrupt Departure to Port-de-France

I’m certain that in our visit, we slighted Dominica. It would have been great to rent a car and see more of the interior, where the rain forest are and to see Dominica’s eastern coast, which we missed totally. Next time.

I do think that even with the short time we spent there, we changed our earlier view of a “dangerous” place. The people we met were all very friendly and pleasant folks. We never felt in any sort of danger and heard nothing to the contrary from other cruisers.

We left Roseau early in the morning for St. Pierre, Martinique. Wind and sea conditions were zilch We didn’t have a long way to go - about 38 miles. Slowly, the wind starting picking up from the south east. After a couple of hours it clocked around to come from the south, just where we were going. Within a half an hour of that it was blowing 20 knots with gust to 29 knots and seas to match it. Uncanny! The wind knows just where we want to go.

Along the bouncy way we had lunch. Styrofoam cup-of-soups continue to fulfill the needs of a hungry sailor with their savory bites of peas, carrots, corn and high salt content. They’re easy to warm up in rough seas and the noodles provide that warm, filling sensation in the stomach. We ate it to the last kernel of corn. Hhmmmm….

We finally got into St. Pierre and found a spot to anchor among the other yachts on the south side of town. We decided against going into town to check in. We’d do that in the morning.

At 6a.m. sharp we were awakened by male voices and knocking against the hull of the boat. Local fishermen were telling us in French that they wanted us to move because they were going to be casting fishing nets in our area. Crap!!!

Sleepy-eyed and all, we got the anchor up and moved to the opposite side of the anchorage and dropped the anchor. No sooner had we gotten everything in place when other fishermen approached us and said that we’d have to move - they were going to be putting out their nets here. #&$%@&!~@!!!!!

That was the last straw. We pulled up anchor and as much as we wanted to see St. Pierre, we headed south to the capital of Martinique, Fort-de-France.

St. Pierre has an interesting history in that it was a place that the Spanish, in the mid- 1600’s killed off the last of the Carib Indians. In the slaughter, the Indians cursed the French in revenge. Mt. Pelee would retaliate.

It took a few years, but indeed, in 1902 the volcano erupted with little warning and killed most of its 30,000 residents. And we still could see much of the lava flow that had gone down the hill. Incredible.

After so rudely having been awakened by the fishermen, we went southward another thirteen miles to Fort-de-France. We were anchored snugly in front of Fort St. Louis in a couple of hours.

Fort-de-France reminded me a bit of the New Orleans French Quarters. Among the sights we saw were the fresh produce market, the fish market, the St. Louis Cathedral, Fort St. Louis and the Schoelcher Library. The cathedral is not anything like the ones I've seen in Paris - much more utilitarian, making use of exposed iron in its architecture. The library, a very unique looking building, is dedicated to Victor Schoelcher. Apparently, Schoelcher fought hard against slavery (unlike Napoleon’s wife, Josephine, who was a supporter of slavery and influenced Napoleon himself on his views on slavery). Her statue in the city park was beheaded a few years ago. Coincidence? Maybe not.

Next, we plan on sailing across the bay to a place called Troi Islets. Perhaps today, perhaps tomorrow. Afterall, we ARE retired.

1 comment:

  1. I like the picture of Dave the best of course!
    I'll bet you are enjoying using your French, George. Sorry about the wrong way winds and swells- you'll be turning the corner soon, right?
    My favorite island around St.Vincent was Mayreau - least favorite was Union but you know about the "boat boys" now so it may go better. Fair winds-