St Pierre on Martinique
Sat 31 Jan 2015 00:28
From St Anne to St Pierre we chose to motorsail, the winds were not strong enough leaving us the opportunity to do some schooling.
The landscape and scenery along Martinique’s West coast is quite impressive. Here we are passing Diamond Rock which had a special importance between the French and the English in the 18th century when they were fighting for the islands in the Caribbean. The French commissioned the rock as a ship, calling it H.M.S. Diamond Rock. It was quite a feat to climb this steep, barren, snake-infested pinnacle and to equip it with cannons and enough supplies and water for a full crew of men. They succeeded and for 18 months H.M.S Diamond Rock was a highly unpleasant surprise for unsuspecting ships sailing into Martinique.
Coming into St Pierre was also quite a sight. The landscape is dominated by the Volcano Mt Pelée and St Pierre lies just at the foot of the volcano.
We anchored in the bay of St Pierre and went for a walk in St Pierre. Until the beginning of the 19th century St Pierre with its 30,000 inhabitants was know as being the Paris of the Caribbean and the commercial, cultural and social center of Martinique. The wealth of the island lay in the plantations and the richest of these surrounded St Pierre. Ships would take on rum, sugar, coffee and cocoa and enough was sold to make several of the plantation owners multimillionaires. Then the volcano started to be active and some warned the city to evacuate. However the governor at the time saw his reputation in danger if he was to evacuate the whole town and the volcano did not erupt. So he calmed his people ensuring there was no danger. On 8 May 1902 the volcano erupted so badly that it hit St Pierre and the whole town with its 30,000 inhabitants died, except from one guy that was in jail! It took more than 20 years for the town to start growing back again. It is a beautiful little town with lots of colours and some houses are still in ruin reminding of the tragedy of 1902.
We stopped at a café overlooking the bay. The kids happy after having had their ice cream ;-)