Goodbye Martinique

Published: June 22nd 2017
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Sunday was raining so we spent all afternoon on the boat in Saint Pierre after going back to the Alsacian restaurant to complete our customs forms, play chess and drink Perrier!

Yesterday we sailed back, first to Sainte Anne, then to Le Marin as they found us a spot on the jetty. It was a hairy trip across the harbour past Diamond Rock to Sainte Anne. The winds averaged 40+ knots and Daddy made the boat tip all the way to the side!! It was very scary so I clutched on to mummy to stay on board! We went to a restaurant called Mangue on the marina for dinner.

This morning it took all morning to pack and clean up the boat - luckily we came back to the marina last night!! We all shared our highlights of the trip - Terre de Bas in Guadeloupe was everyone's favourite harbour as well Les Pitons in St Lucia. It was also exciting to see whales and dolphins follow our boat. The Caribbean was a bit different to what everyone imagined it would be but nonetheless everyone enjoyed it thoroughly!

I've been learning lots of history since we have begun this voyage. Shortly we will be leaving the Caribbean and our port of arrival, Martinique. Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1502, its name is of Carib origin meaning Island of Flowers or île aux fleurs. It was made part of the kingdom of France in 1676, was conquered by the English in 1762, and returned to France in exchange for Canada by the terms of the Treaty of Paris a year later. Had Napoleon's future Empress Josephine been born a few months earlier, she would have been born English! The English returned again in 1794 but it was recovered by Napoleon in 1802 only to be lost again in 1809 and definitively returned in 1814 through a second Treaty of Paris. What a history!

In fact, most of the islands in the Antilles were passed between different rulers throughout their history. The original Arawaks were conquered by the Caribs from South America in the 12th Century before being 'discovered' by Christopher Columbus during his voyages in 1493, 1498 and 1502. In the 16th Century, the English, French and Dutch had established themselves in the smaller Caribbean islands in order to intercept the Spanish, who had occupied the larger islands in their search for gold, on their return journey to Spain. This was followed by a struggle between the French and English for supremacy of the sea from the end of the 17th Century until 1815. St Lucia changed hands 14 times before becoming English!! The Anglo-French-Dutch wars didn't end until The Treaty of Paris (1814-15). Nowadays, the French islands have become 'Overseas Departments', the Dutch territories were grouped together in an autonomous federation, the Danes gave up their islands to the Americans and the British got rid of most of their islands between the 1960s and 80s.

The Lesser Antilles (from Grenada to the Virgin Islands), an archipelago made up of 40 small inhabited islands and islets with a population of 1700 000, is divided into 14 states and territories with different legal systems, 3 national languages and several patois and local tongues. We have explored but 4 of the islands, each very different. Maybe I can come back and explore some more when I am bigger! Maybe I can even sail the boat!

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