Sunday, June 19, 2016

Martinique. Civilization...Here We Come!

We departed Dominica the next morning on a 5 hour cruise which got a little bumpy. 
Gael was feeling the ill effects of it... poor thing. 
The scenery was absolutely gorgeous as we pulled into Marigot Bay, Martinique!!
A big tanker offshore.
This gives you an idea of our location...
Martinique has some great history. As we approached, we spotted Diamond Rock.
Diamond Rock is a 175-metre-high (574 ft) basalt island located south of Fort-de-France, the main port of the Caribbean island of Martinique. The uninhabited island is about 3 kilometers (1.9 mi) from Pointe Diamant.
The island gets its name from the reflections that its sides cast at certain hours of the day, which evoke images of a precious stone. Its claim to fame is the role that it played in the Napoleonic Wars.
For you history buffs, here's a little 411; Diamond Rock occupies a strategic position at the north end of the St. Lucia Straits. Possession of the rock permits interdiction of navigation between Martinique and its southern neighbour, St Lucia.
In September 1803 Commodore Sir Samuel Hood sailed to the rock aboard Centaur (Captain Murray Maxwell). Hood had received the assignment to blockade the bays at Fort Royal and Saint Pierre, Martinique.
Centaur was lying at anchor in Fort Royal Bay, Martinique, on the morning of 1 December when lookouts sighted a schooner with a sloop in tow about six miles off making for Saint Pierre. Hood sent his advice boat, the Sarah, after the sloop, and had Maxwell sail Centaur in pursuit of the schooner. After a pursuit of some 24 leagues (120 km; 63 nmi), Centaur captured the schooner, which turned out to be the privateer Ma Sophie, out of Guadeloupe. She had a crew of 45 men, and was armed with eight guns, which she had jettisoned during the chase.[2][Note 1]
Hood took Ma Sophie into service as a tender, charging her captain, Lieutenant William Donnett, with watching the channel between Diamond Rock and Martinique for enemy vessels. Donnett made frequent visits to the rock to gather the thick, broad-leaved grass to be woven into sailors' hats, and a spinach-like plant called callaloo, that when boiled and served daily, kept the crews of Centaur and Ma Sophie from scurvy and was a nice addition to a menu too long dominated by salt beef.[3]
Aided by calm weather, the British were able to run lines ashore and hoist two 18-pounder cannons to the summit of the rock.[1][4] The British hastily built fortifications and supplied the position with food and water for a garrison of two lieutenants and 120 men under the command of Lieutenant James Wilkes Maurice, Hood's first lieutenant.[Note 2] Hood officially commissioned the island as a "sloop" HMS Diamond Rock (a "stone frigate"). A six-gun sloop, designated Fort Diamond, supported the fort.[5] In honour of his admiral, Maurice designated as "Hood Battery" the one 24-pounder that he placed to fire from a cave halfway up the side of the rock. The British also placed two 24-pounder guns in batteries ("Centaur" and "Queen's") at the base of the rock, and a 24-pounder carronade to cover the only landing-place.[Note 3] One account puts two 24-pounders on the summit, but all other accounts put 18-pounders there.[Note 4] Unfortunately, at some point while this was going on, Ma Sophie blew up for unknown reasons, killing all but one of her crew.[9]
With work complete by 7 February, Hood decided to formalise the administration of the island, and wrote to the Admiralty, announcing that he had commissioned the rock as a sloop-of-war, under the name Diamond Rock.[10] Lieutenant Maurice, who had impressed Hood with his efforts while establishing the position, was rewarded by being made commander.[11]
Caves on the rock served as sleeping quarters for the men; the officers used tents. A court martial would reprimand Lieutenant Roger Woolcombe at Plymouth on 7 December 1805 for "conduct unbecoming a gentleman" for having messed (eaten) at the top of the rock with part of the ship's company.[12]
The troops used pulleys and ropes to raise supplies to the summit. To augment their uncertain food supply, the garrison had a small herd of goats and a flock of guinea hens and chickens that survived on the meager foliage. The British also established a hospital in a cave at the base of the rock that became a popular place to put sailors and marines recovering from fevers or injuries.[13]
Just before Centaur left the rock, a party of slaves made a clandestine visit at night to trade fruits and bananas. They brought the news that a French lieutenant colonel of engineers had arrived at their plantation to survey the heights opposite for a mortar battery with which to shell the rock. One of the slaves had been sold by his English owner to the French when the owner left the islands. He did not like his new master and claimed the protection of the British flag. Hood granted him that protection, and promised that the man could serve in the Royal Navy as a free man in return for guiding a landing party to his now-former master's house. A 23-man landing party, including the guide, and under Lieutenant Reynolds, landed at midnight, walked the four kilometers to the plantation house, and took the engineer and 17 soldiers prisoner, before returning safely to Centaur. Apparently the lieutenant colonel was the only engineer on Martinique, and so no mortar battery materialized.[14]
On June 23, 1804, whilst the Fort Diamond was on a provisioning expedition at Roseau Bay, St. Lucia, a French boarding party from a schooner came up to her in two rowboats, boarding her at night while most of the crew were asleep below decks. A subsequent court-martial aboard HMS Galatea at English HarbourAntigua, convicted Acting Lieutenant Benjamin Westcott of allowing his vessel to be captured.[15] The board dismissed him from the Royal Navy, never to be permitted to serve in the navy again.[4][16] He became an American citizen three years later.
For 17 months, the fort was able to harass French shipping trying to enter Fort-de-France.[4][17] The guns on the rock completely dominated the channel between it and the main island, and because of their elevation, were able to fire far out to sea and forced vessels to give it a wide berth, with the result that the currents and strong winds would make it impossible for them to fetch in Port Royal.[18] During this time the French troops on Martinique made several unsuccessful attempts to retake the rock.
CaptureThe French fleet under Captain Cosmao attacking Diamond Rock. Painting by Auguste Mayer.
When Admiral Villeneuve embarked on his 1805 voyage to Martinique, he was under orders from Napoleon to recapture Diamond Rock. The French-Spanish combined naval force of 16 ships[19] under French Captain Cosmao-Kerjulien attacked Diamond Rock. Between 16 May and 29 May, the French fleet completely blockaded the rock. On the 25th, the French were able to cut out from under Maurice's guns a British sloop that arrived from St. Lucia with some supplies.[20]
The actual assault came on 31 May, and the French were able to land some troops on the rock. Maurice had anticipated the landing and had moved his men from the indefensible lower works to positions further up, and on the summit. Once the French landed, the British fire trapped the landing party in two caves near sea level.[21]
Unfortunately for the garrison, their stone cistern had cracked, due to an earth tremor, so they were short of water, and after exchanging fire with the French, they were also almost out of ammunition.[22] After enduring a fierce bombardment, Maurice surrendered to the superior force on 3 June 1805,[19] having resisted two French seventy-fours, a frigate, a corvette, a schooner, and eleven gunboats.[1] The British lost two men killed and one wounded, and the French 20 dead and 40 wounded (English account), or 50 dead and wounded (French account), and three gunboats.[Note 5]
The French took the garrison of 107 men as prisoners, splitting them between their two 74-gun ships of the line, Pluton and the ex-British Berwick.[25] The French repatriated the prisoners to Barbados by 6 June.[26] The subsequent court-martial of Commander Maurice for the loss of his "ship" (i.e. the fort) exonerated him, his officers, and men and commended him for his defence.[23] Maurice took dispatches to England, where he arrived on 3 August, and was given command of the brig-sloop Savage.

As for the mooring field, it was filled up and busy as can be...

We arrived and were in the usual "quarantine" for a few hours and then were cleared by customs. It was HOT as anything outside and super humid. I think I may have melted. ha! 
This island was MUCH MUCH prettier and accommodating than Dominica.
Pulling into our slip at their marina.\
This was Mr. Mc Stink. Ha! He didn't like the look of our boat pulling in and blocking his view. 
He was a funny Frenchman.
While in quarantine, we decided it was a good time to fuel up.
Once cleared, we all walked along the marina and see a little bit of town. Lots of places around the marina, but being Sunday almost everything was closed. No rental cars either. We stopped at a cute cafe for a little something cool to drink & a bite to eat. Loved their sass!
Their charcuterie boards looked tasty!
We all had fun & enjoyed our libations...

The next day we went on a 6 hour tour via taxi as there were no guides and no cars avail. We finally talked a local taxi driver into being our guide. With his heavy French accent it was hard to ascertain what was what, but everyone had a great adventure. 
                                                                   My little poser....
                                                  Lunch at this quaint spot was delish..

Dinner out that night was at Zanzibar. A great meal and we surveyed the scene.

We checked out the local sights the next day...
A local farmstead...such French charm in the back of a van.
Walking through town was scenic and a sweet little French city.
This was a cool little bar where you would order your drinks and then could have them delivered... 
Across the street on the beach.!
Super Kev was delighted!
In fact, we all were...
Anyone have to go?
A beautiful church we found atop a little hill in town.
Services were in full swing & the singing was in 
French and as beautiful as you can imagine!
Such colorful post boxes.
And back to the marina...
Tuesday we decided to have another adventure and 
spent the day at Club Med in Saint Anne with a day pass. 
We were psyched to arrive and have a chillaxing day!
Here's the entrance...
This resort (as much as I was visualizing something touristy and gross) was fantastic! 
We spent almost that whole afternoon swimming and lounged around. 
We all scoped out our lounge chairs and then...
Brad was lamenting about his thirst...ha!
 Gael and I were off to explore...and try out the water. 
We hit the beach... What a VIEW!!!
A few rounds of bocce ball were in order.
Alas, the sea keeps calling me back for a swim!
So Gael and I got our swim on...
And practiced a Caribbean hair flip. 
It's famous here...(I might be making that up)

It was then time for a PHOTO BOMB!
Brad worked his handstand moves...

We had such a wonderful day and this was going to be a fave memory of this trip!

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