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IMMERSE YOURSELF IN HISTORY AND RUM
Friday 30th July 2010



A rum toast

Prior to the first “public” Rum Cruise that started from Jolly Harbour, Antigua in May 2008, the idea of such a cruise was explored in 2007 by Paul Jackson, current Commodore of Jolly Harbour Yacht Club, with his wife Marguerite and a small number of others.  The idea of the cruise was to discover more about the history and culture of the Eastern Caribbean islands through exploration of local rum distilleries.  During the 2007 exploratory trip, distilleries were found to vary greatly – from modern, state-of-the-art facilities such as those found at the Chateau Depaz distillery in Martinique , to old-fashioned distilleries such as the Shillingford Estates “Macoucherie” rum distillery in Dominica, where sugar cane is still harvested by hand and crushers are powered by water wheels similar to those used in the 18th and 19th centuries.  After initial investigations, the Rum Cruise was deemed to be viable and, in fact, desirable and the May 2008 Cruise was opened for public participation.  Since that time the Cruise has evolved and in May 2010 it became the exclusive Fort and Distillery Cruise.  Rather than just visiting rum distilleries as had been done in the past, exploration of historic forts throughout the islands was added to the agenda.

Below, Paul Jackson aboard “Mackenzi” reports on the 2010 Fort and Distillery Cruise that commenced in Jolly Harbour, Antigua in May:

Following in the wake of the “Classic Rum Cruises” of the previous three years, the plan for the 2010 Fort and Distillery Cruise was to sail between Antigua and Grenada visiting a selection of the many forts and rum distilleries and having as much fun as possible on the way – and that is precisely what happened!

The fleet, which departed Antigua on May 2, comprised “Shantih” (Island Packet 38), “Full Monty” (Bavaria 42) and “Mackenzi” (Beneteau 440).  Forts and/or distilleries were visited in Guadeloupe, Marie Galante, Les Saintes, Dominica, Martinique, Bequia, Union Island and Grenada.  On virtually all the other islands where neither distilleries nor forts could be located we made do (enthusiastically) with rum shops and ships stores where rum shops could not be found.

The highlights of the cruise included nearly being incarcerated for waving a Red Duster from the roof of Fort Napoleon in Les Saintes, the visit to the Macoucherie distillery and hike up the mango-lined river in Dominica (although the presence of the ‘Mango Man’ was missing this year!), the visit to Chateau Depaz and distillery (spectacular) in Martinique and the River Antoine distillery in Grenada.  Among the best memories yet again was the hospitality of Christine at Chateau Depaz where we were wined and dined and shown a true Martinique welcome!

Antiguan, US and UK flags were flown over all the principal forts (which met with amused or angry responses, depending on the recipients’ nationality) and libations were offered in a toast to the host country.  Libation supplies were happily replenished at each distillery visited.

The trip back north from Grenada was a little more low-key with the crew of “Mackenzi” exploring Union Island and the north of Dominica by bicycle – definitely not for the faint-hearted!

The wind and weather were kind to us, as they often are in May/June, with good winds and slight swells. The anchorages were (relatively) deserted and few other vessels were seen in transit between the islands.

“Mackenzi” returned to Antigua on 5 June after five glorious weeks down island and 715 nm of sailing.  A wonderful time was had by all but, as always, it was great to return home to Jolly Harbour, Antigua!



Fort Les Saintes




Fort Napoleon Les Saintes




Flying the flags at Chateau Depaz in Martinique




Rum crew at Chateau Depaz




Chateau Depaz




Hand transferring at River Antoine Grenada




River Antoine Grenada



Sampling the goods

Written by Paul Jackson with intro by Kathy Lammers, Editor of Antigua’s Yachting Insider
Photos by Paul Jackson


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