Caribbean 1999

Bill’s Update

April 14, 1999

Greetings from Out of Bounds in Antigua! Yes, we’ve finally arrived after stopping in St. Vincent, St. Lucia and Martinique! Highlights are as follows:

St. Vincent
This island is quite possibly the most beautiful geographically in the entire chain. Long deep crevices, gorges, and mountains covered heavily with vines and vegetation!  Absolutely stunning, I actually felt like we were back in the Marquesas again.

St. Vincent is the home of Mount Soufrere which blew it’s top in 1979. We hiked two and half-hours up a very steep path to the crater edge.  It was hands down the most awesome hike I have ever been on. This thing made Table Mountain in South Africa seem like an anthill. We were literally walking up two-foot wide paths with 1000-foot drops to the left and right of us!  At the top was the actual crater that was as awe-inspiring as the Grand Canyon.  The crater itself is at an altitude of 3800 feet and is almost one mile across the mouth! Inside is what is known as the “core” which was still smoking! SoufrereThe core is basically just a HUGE pile of rocks that remained after the eruption.  To give you an idea how big this thing is, I was unable to fit the whole thing inside my 13mm wide-angle lens!  You could probably throw a couple dozen football stadiums into it and still get lost!  Absolutely amazing!

St. Lucia
Sailing by the Pitons on the southern tip was cool, but we didn’t spend enough time to really explore the island. No real loss, as we spent 10 days here in 1997 on the first go round.

Martinique - Ooh La La!!!!
Once again, OOB pulled into Marin on the south coast of Martinique.  After cleaning up the boat a bit, we decided to move north to Anse Mitan and Fort de France, the capital. Fort de France is like a little cross section of the mainland with wonderful cafes and winding roads everywhere.

On our sail around the island, we passed by Diamond Rock.  Diamond Rock is located on the Southeast coast about ˝ mile offshore.  Diamond RockThis snake infested 800-foot pinnacle has an interesting history. During the early 1800’s when the Caribbean was controlled by the British, a navy officer decided that if they were to have an extra ship in the area, they would station it right where diamond rock was. So they decided to commission the island the HMS Diamond Rock and for 18months it became a very unpleasant surprise for enemy ships in the area!

Until we rented a car and started touring the island, I had no idea how incredible this place really was. On the northwest coast is the famous town of St. Pierre where the Volcano Mount Pelee erupted in 1902. When this thing blew, instead of spewing lava everywhere, it shot out a superheated cloud that engulfed the entire town and killed 28,000 people in less than three minutes. The town of St. Pierre reached a temperature of 1000 degrees Celsius.  The bell from the cathedral, which stood about five feet tall and was almost two inches thick at the base actually melted and cracked into a crumpled heap, which they display.  Twelve ships that were anchored in the harbor sank in a matter of seconds.  Pictures of St. Pierre after the blow looked like a sugar cane field after the burning.  Black, charred and leveled. The town has since been rebuilt, but they have left the remains of the larger structures lest they forget. Statue on Martinique As a matter of fact, here’s a picture of a statue, which the French government presented to Martinique after the eruption. It depicts a lady attempting to get up after the disaster and looking to the future.   Some of the ruins are seen in the background. 

It so happened that there were 28,001 people in the town when the eruption took place. The sole survivor of this tragedy was a young gentleman being held in a prison for drinking too much rum the night before. The two-foot thick walls of his cell and its placement under the hill allowed him to live after suffering major burns. He ended up being a sideshow for the Ringling Brothers Circus a few years later.

We drove up into the mountains and couldn’t believe the beautiful views! Steep mountains with paved roads and flowers covering the hills. Waterfalls and terrific hikes all through the island abound. On our way back we visited Carbet beach where Christopher Columbus hopped off the boat almost 500 years ago. We can’t wait to return to this truly amazing place. 

Lucy on lookout duty
Well, here we are, anchored in good ol’ Falmouth Harbor.  We are indeed the little fish once again! The whole of Antigua is packed with mega-yachts and classics.  Tied side by side in the marina are Valsheda, Endeavor, and Shamrock who will be racing today!  Eighty-foot and larger Swans abound!  It feels like we’re one of those little go-carts you give your kids to ride around the driveway.

Anyway, we’ll be here for the next couple of weeks drooling and look forward to Race Week beginning on the April 25th. We’re still looking for a spinnaker and expect to be measured next week. We’ll keep you posted.

All the best from all of us on Out of Bounds!
Bill, Suz, Jack and Lucy
Lat. N. 17.00.80 Lon. W 61.46.41


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