Last from Iles des Saintes

In our travels we have gotten several steps ahead of our posts, so I hope you can forgive a couple quick posts to catch up.

Here are just a few more photos and historical commentary from the Iles des Saintes.

Local History

The local waters were the scene of a naval battle in 1782 between the French and British fleets that had a large impact on history in ways you probably haven’t heard of. The short version of the story is the French fleet that was heading to invade the economically vital British colony of Jamaica was routed. Its Admiral taken prisoner, and many ships of the French ships of the line sunk or captured. This was shortly after the humiliating British defeat at the hands of the Americans in Yorktown, Virginia in 1781–with French assistance—that marks the end of hostilities in the American Revolution.

In the usual American version of history, that’s the end of the story. But… The negotiations of the final arrangements were still ongoing. The Americans and their Allies—the French—started out in a superior position at the treaty negotiations. The Americans, for example, were demanding that ALL British possessions in North America were on the table, most significantly, Canada.

When word of the decisive defeat of the French fleet in the Caribbean arrived in Europe, it changed the dynamic. Suddenly the French were not the powerful ally the Americans were counting on, and the Americans decided to reach a separate peace. The colonies north of Massachusetts (i.e., British Canada) were no longer part of the deal. How would the world have been different if Newfoundland, Labrador, and Ontario had become part of the United States?

Our Photos

There are still existing fortifications in the Saintes, but they date from after the fall of the French monarchy, and were never actually involved in any hostilities. The largest of the forts is Fort Napoleon on Terre de Haut. Now a general history museum and botanical garden specializing in local cactus.

Fort Napleon

Speaking of botanical curiosities, on this island you occasionally see trees with a red stripe painted on the trunk.

A bit faded, but the red paint is there….

These trees produce copious quantities of fruit resembling small green apples.

The “Little Apple of Death”

Do NOT touch! These are manchineel trees, one of the most poisonous trees in the world. So much so that just standing under one in the rain can lead to a nasty blistering rash. If you are going to explore off road in the Caribbean at all, it’s a good idea to learn what they look like.

Houses here are frequently set up to have living space flowing from indoors to outdoors. Here is a beautiful example where the kitchen and sleeping rooms are “in” and the dining and living rooms are “out.” Located close to 1000 feet up the mountain, the constant trade winds keep the living areas comfortable all year.

And what scenic set of photos would be complete without an image of our very own Harmonie at anchor?

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1 Response to Last from Iles des Saintes

  1. James H Alton says:

    Bill,
    Very well written. I enjoyed the brief history lesson and the amazing photos. Enjoy your time there. James

    Like

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