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Traditional and Classic Boats Gather on Martinique

On May 8, 2007, attention turned to the town of St Pierre situated in the North East of Martinique, the venue for a meeting of the old rigs, classic boats and traditional vessels from the Caribbean. Facing a bay, roofs of the small town rise higher than the bells of the cathedral. In the background is Mount Pelee, the formerly menacing volcano which on May 8, 1902 wiped out 30,000 inhabitants in three minutes. Today, Mount Pelee is quiet and surrounded by beautiful clouds.

The festival is a magnificent one, even without the beautiful sailboats in the bay, with a maritime village ‘Van dan Vwel’ set up next to the Mairie for dancing and other activities. The tent village is built around six themes including artists of the sea, professions of the sea, marine ecology, small boats, traditional Caribbean sailboats, and marine heritage.

Old rigs and traditional boats were anchored in the bay for the event. On Tuesday, May 8, in stifling heat, the amassed crowds pressed forward to join the queue which leads to the fishing Yoles. Also on show was the two-masted brigantine Unicorn, which all the children named Black Pearl because it was used as the pirate ship in the movie ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’—and the hull is indeed black.   

Other non-piratical vessels of all sorts gathered : Scaramouche from Union, Friendship Rose from Bequia and Jambalaya also from Bequia, the sloop Genesis from Antigua, Toumelin from Martinique with its distinctive three masts, the biggest French boat built by its owner Marie des Isles, and Aventura from Martinique.

We also feasted our eyes on the parade of traditional sailboats from Martinique: the Yoles and Gommiers, seen from the beach at St Pierre. This display was organized by a piloting committee from the Marie de St Pierre, assisted by the regional council, the CMT, the Port of Marin and many others.

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