200 Year Old Shipwreck discovered during a Catamaran Charter!5 Cannons and 3 anchors were my discoveries while sailing our catamaran sailboat around Martinique.
In 1990, my wife had just left our catamaran charter yacht as she needed to see a doctor, so she flew back home for 1 month.
This left me and my friend Ryan "unattended" on our 44-foot catamaran in Martinique. Looking for a morning adventure, I said to Ryan, “Let’s go to that section of Martinique where the map is demarcated danger for all ships.”
After all, we had a 3-foot draft on our catamaran sailboat and could go virtually anywhere. So off we set for the wild side of Martinique, a trip about 60 miles by sea to where very few yachtsmen ever traveled. It was super quiet, calm and with no signs of civilization - just a lovely, undisturbed bay all to ourselves. We traversed all the danger zones and had tucked into a great anchorage for the night.
A few beers, dinner, and off to bed we went, and we were in the heart of nowhere. This yacht charter started off perfectly for Ryan and myself. It was a lot of boat for 2 people!
Call me now to book a yacht charter on 800-478-2029.
The next day, we decided to snorkel and explore the underwater scenery. Visibility was not as good as elsewhere, but 30 feet out was about the maximum. I swam over the top of a cliff face and saw what appeared to be the shape of a cannon almost completely under what must have been 200 years of coral growth.
This cannon was the larger pirate war cannon type, not the smaller ones. I found a second one just 20 feet away and then another one 20 feet away eventually we found all 5 cannons lying like dead soldiers on the top of this cliff face.
I started to look around for more artifacts and found 3 anchors. Two of the anchors were about 5 feet long and had that real 18th century look to them, while the middle one was 20 feet wide. Wide! Each anchor still had links of their chain on this extremely large anchor was 6 to 8 inches long and was one-inch thick making it one super sturdy chain.
To find these 3 anchors, I had to snorkel 60 feet down to find the large one and, just for fun, I looked down into oblivion, literally 1000's of feet deep and as far as I could see this steep cliff face just kept going down and down.
Back at the surface, I called Ryan over to have a look. I also came to understand what I think happened to that ship all those years ago.
Here's what I think: The captain of this ship was caught in a storm and was being pushed towards the land. When this happens, experienced sailors drop all our anchor lines with anchors, so that the anchor snags the bottom to swing the ship towards the storm with the intent that we'd snag bottom and hope the anchor holds until the storm is over.
In this case, I fear that the anchors did eventually snag, but by then it was far too late. The large ship broke sideways onto the shallow 10-foot cliff top, broke up and sank during the storm. Fortunately, I think that most of the crew would have survived because this spot is very close to shore on 2 sides.
There was zero timber left to be seen, and absolutely nothing else can be seen on the top of this cliff face. However, between many of the cannons were old cracks on the surface, so items could easily have fallen down to the very deep waters, never to be recovered.
When island hopping, charter captains have to check in and out of each island so that some form of destination is known by authorities; it is a safety issue for captains and their crews.
On clearing out of Martinique a few days later, I mentioned to the port authority that I had found 5 cannons on the far side of the island. The customs gentleman asked me if I could wait a few minutes; I said sure and he quickly disappeared down the hallway into a private office.
In very short order, a well dressed gentleman, in a suit and tie and carrying an impressive brown briefcase walked into the office and introduced himself as Mr. Drake from the Office of Antiquities. I was totally impressed and yet not sure what to make of it all.
He asked me to show him where these cannons were on a map. I pointed the position out to him and he said they had no knowledge of this shipwreck and would I mind taking him there? I was happy to oblige and happily he said they would pick me up the next day at 7 am.
Ryan and I were up and ready at 7 am waiting for him at the customs office when all of a sudden from around the corner came 7 white customs cars, all with blue lights flashing on the roof, and all had their sirens blaring.
At the back of this row of white cars was a large lorry carrying a big boat. A Mr. Drake greeted us heartily and said “Mr. Andrew, come with me in the front car,” so off we went in this armada of cars and trucks and boats with me as the apparent guest of honor.
It took us about 45 minutes to go through small towns and large farm areas to get to the other side of the island. Once we arrived at the beach, we launched the power boat and 6 of us got into the boat with our fins and masks.
“Mr. Andrew, just tell us where to go.” “OK, we go that-away I pointed and off we went. It was just about 3.5 miles to where the cannons were and I indicated where to anchor.
Once we were secured I jumped into the water and in no time I was on top of the first cannon. He jumped in and immediately saw the cannon and said OK and then got out of the water pretty fast. "Don’t you want to see all 5 cannons?", I asked. "No, that is OK. I think he was scared of the depth of the water surrounding the cannons!
On the trip back to get onto my catamaran sailing charter, I asked him how much money would I get. With a big smile, he laughed, “No, Mr. Andrew, all we do is simply mark the next maps with an "X" and will designate as a shipwreck; that is all. While there is no cash reward you've had the adventure of discovering a previously unknown shipwreck!"
Dear happy reader: So you see, almost anyone lucky adventurer can find a 200 year old shipwreck. Maybe you will be next and your Caribbean catamaran yacht charter in the islands can be filled with many surprises and adventures.
If you're not sure where you want to go or you are not familiar with the best charter locations, kindly contact me, Andrew Buys on 800-478-2029 and I will gladly answer all your questions!
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