St Pierre, Martinique

Rob & Sarah Bell
Wed 11 Jan 2012 15:39

14:44.48N 61:10.67W


Mon & Tuesday 9th & 10th Jan


Ko Ko and SotO set off fairly early in the morning for the 35 mile downwind sail back to St Lucia whilst we had a more leisurely start before we set off on the simple 14 mile trip north to St Pierre. We were lucky enough to have a fresh easterly breeze and for the first 8 to 10 miles we stormed along at 7 and 8 knots, but we could see Halsway Grace up ahead on the AIS and her speed was registering as only 3 knots and so we knew that as usual the wind was about to die in the lee of the main part of the island. Sure enough we eventually came into a hole in the wind and with just 3 knots of wind showing on our wind gauge we gave up the fight and motored the final miles into the big open bay.


Those who read this blog last year may recall that this is the very tragic town that was once the capital of Martinique until the catastrophic eruption of the huge volcano that looms above the bay in 1902. It seems that it gave plenty of warnings of the impending eruption, but these were ignored by the authorities who were more concerned with the upcoming elections in which the black voters were for the first time challenging the status quo of the island. When the blast came eye witnesses reported that the side of the volcano glowed red and burst open releasing a giant fireball of superheated gas that flowed down over the city releasing more energy than an atomic bomb. All that remained were smoking ruins and an estimated 29,933 people burned to death whilst twelve ships were sunk in the bay, with just one managing to limp away with a handful of survivors in the crew.


We managed to anchor quite close to the main quay, but the holding here is dubious in places and we did drag a bit before finally digging in.


Halsway Grace anchored slightly to the south of us and later on kindly invited us to dinner.


On Tuesday morning we did sort of wonder what we had done to upset the neighbours because of the couple of dozen or so yachts moored here over night, just Halsway Grace, Serafina and two others remained!


Pretty lazy day really and in the morning I went ashore to use the local café’s internet connection to catch up on things. We got a few jobs done and enjoyed a nice swim in the afternoon.


In the evening and through the night, the wind dropped away completely and we were left rolling in the residue of the Atlantic rollers that creep around the northern corner of the island. Rather uncomfortable and a bit unusual and a little bit disconcerting as we have committed ourselves to staying another night here!