Posted by yachtcamomile
We had a nice first evening in the anchorage just chilling out. Bill enjoyed his end of passage cigar. It was one of three that James had given him for Christmas; he had saved it. The next morning he raised the French courtesy flag before we headed into the marina. There’s a big Club Med complex on the beach that looked nice.
On the way into the marina this ship was anchored outside. I’m going to get in trouble for this but it’s a bit cheating, isn’t it? It’s probably taking them back to the UK or maybe Europe.
Getting into our berth was a bit of a struggle because they have Med mooring here which means you need 2 long lines tied to the bow and 2 on the stern. As Bill backed into position I handed the bow lines to the guy in the marina work boat who tied them to 2 buoys. Meanwhile he was pushing our bow into position as Bill was reversing. Fortunately Ken and Eiloo were waiting on the pontoon ready to catch our aft lines. The dinghy got in the way so Ken managed to lower it on the pontoon as Bill released the davits. Luckily there aren’t any photos of this because it was all a bit difficult but once tied up we could all have hugs and congratulate each other on our passages.
Camomile has a very dirty waterline from sailing for so long. We went up to the office to check-in, a very simple procedure. Why can’t all check-ins be like the French? It was nice to be on dry land again after a month at sea. Strangely I don’t experience the swaying that many people do when they get off their boat. We headed to a bar for a coffee, arrr civilisation again. I had a look around the local supermarket and bought a few things but wanted to wait to do a proper shop at the bigger store. The afternoon was spent scrubbing the decks to get all the salt off. It was great to be able to use the water again, there had been water restrictions in South Africa. In the evening we joined Ken and Eiloo and their son Kenneth and his girlfriend Dasher for a meal.
The next morning we awoke to rain – had I needed to wash the decks???? I hit the laundry. Not having been able to do any washing since SA there was a lot of it. They have a great laundry here with big machines that take 14kgs! During the day I had 2 of those going plus a smaller 11kgs and a couple of driers so everything was washed including mattress and pillow covers, towels, t-shirts, the lot. I’m left with a pile of ironing now. Yes I do.
While I was busy doing that Bill had the dinghy upside down, scrubbed off and found 3 small holes in it (it has to be pumped up every day). I arranged through the office for the local dinghy repair man to come and pick it up that afternoon and take it away for repair.
Tuesday Bill got the bikes out and we went to visit the dinghy in ‘ospital, all was progressing well. There were lots of other dinghies in the same ward so T bag was happy. The big Carrefour was our next mission but we couldn’t carry a lot in our back packs so we returned the next day for a second shop and also to visit the chandlers to see what they had to offer. Tom and Susie arrived on Adina in the afternoon and it was arranged to share their hire car for a day trip around the island.
Thursday 23rd we joined Tom and Susie at 9.30 and Tom drove off over the hills. The first stop was a local fishing village called Le Vauclin. The stalls on the beach were displaying some delicious looking fish but as it would have to spend the day in a hot car we decided against buying any. I think these were parrot fish although they weren’t colourful like parrot fish normally are.
After a little walk around we got back in the car and drove to the presqu’île de la Caravelle which is a 12 kilometre peninsular on the Eastern coast of the island that protrudes into the Atlantic ocean. Fields of sugar cane with wonderful views of the ocean surrounded the access road. We made our way to the tip of the peninsular and walked the track that led to the remains of Château Dubuc built in 1740. I was so happy I love looking around places like that; Tom had chosen the prefect spot as far as I was concerned.
The ruins were very well kept and we were each given a laminated plan of the ruins with a sort of pen that gave an audio guide as you placed it on each of the points on the plan. The accent was a bit difficult to understand but it was really helpful in explaining the area.
These photos are taken of the remains of the main house. This was the old kitchen. The bread oven can be seen in the bottom right side of the picture.
Tom and Susie walking down to the next section.
These are said to be cahots, small solitary confinement cells for the slaves that would have worked there or maybe storage for the sugar cane; I prefer to think they were the later. As you can see Bill wouldn’t have been able to stand up inside them. Just to the left of the entrance you can see a small slit in the brickwork that was for air and a small amount of light to get in. It doesn’t bare thinking about the stories those walls can tell.
To the left of this photo is where it all started. They have created a model of how the process was performed. The sugar cane would have been pressed in between the rollers as either donkeys or slaves would have walked around in circles to turn the rollers. The sugar cane syrup would have dripped down through a hole in the ground, along a chute and into the cauldrons behind the furnaces to the right of the photo.
This was the furnace area. There would have been 4 furnaces pushing their smoke into the chimney. The remains of the chimney shown would have been much taller.
Behind the furnace were the cauldrons used to boil the sugar cane syrup to form the molasses, the start of the process for producing rum. It takes 10 to 12 tonnes of cane to produce half a bottle of pure alcohol.
This is the remains of the warehouse area that contained the barrels of molasses. The production continued up to 1793. Life for the slaves working on plantations like this was one of unimaginable barbarity. There were many uprisings and after the revolution of 1817 many slaves were given their freedom. By 1852 the descendants of Dubec sold the plantation to a nearby distillery and the chateau fell into ruin. It was restored in 2004.
We had a delicious lunch in the village of Tartane then continued onto the St James rum distillery in the village of Sainte Marie. The delightful old colonial house contains a very interesting museum on the history of Agricultural rum, of which St James’s rum is one, and is produced from pure sugar cane juice as opposed to industrial rum manufactured from Molasses, the residue from the sugar industry.
During February to June, during production, the distillery is open for tours but only at 10.00 and 11.45 so unfortunately we were too late, (for any one coming along behind us). It was still possible to have a tasting so various rums were tasted and bought.
As we were three quarters of the way up the island we all agreed to drive onto Grand’Rivière a jewel of a fishing village at the northern tip of the island. It was a thrilling drive of hair pin bends, overgrown hillsides and bridges suspended over gorges. The road ended at a black sand beach overlooking the gap between Martinique and Dominica where Susie and I enjoyed a freshly pressed pineapple juice before the long drive back to Le Marin.
It was wonderful to spend time with these two who recently got engaged in South Africa (so the conversation was mostly about weddings). We met them in Rebak last Christmas and have sailed with them on and off during this last year. Tom calls me his sailing Mum and I call him The Cheeky Monkey!
Thanks for a great day Tom and Susie.
Friday morning I cycled the road that encircles Marin for some exercise and spent the day on my computer writing. In the afternoon T bag the dinghy came back on a trailer and the guy helped Bill put it in the water. Unfortunately he put it in the wrong side of the pontoon walkway and to get back to the boat Bill had to row all around the outside of two pontoons full of boats. I had a cold drink ready for him when he got back. Bill spent the rest of the afternoon putting his coat back on and the outboard etc.
In the evening we met Tom and Susie along with Ken and his son. Nadire and Selim from the Turkish boat Keyif joined us and we all had a farewell drink together. After saying goodbye to Keyif the rest of us went to the Mango bay for a meal, their Friday night ribs special were delicious.
Sadly at the end of the evening it was goodbye to everyone because we are all going our separate ways from now on; goodbye to another group of cruising friends.