Carib Canoe Crossing Project

Photo by J. Grimner

Carib Canoe Project
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Grand Arrival!

The Sea Warriors arrived in Scotts Head in grand style on Friday afternoon, May 2nd. They were greeted by Caribs in traditional dress and a corps of drummers, along with a shaman who performed a blessing ceremony.

Grand Arrival

 

26th-April-2008
Update

 

Final Trial Online Photo Gallery

Final Trial-Run!

On Saturday, the Carib Canoe Sea Warriors made their final Training Run from Roseau-to Scotts Head.

Final Training Run
Photo by J. Grimner

This was the last training run before their participation in the Grand Arrival of the combined Dominican/French team from across the Martinique Channel this coming May Day Weekend in Scotts Head, Friday 2 May 2008 at 4:00 followed by a full Scotts Head Kone Konla Feast on Friday night.

23rd-24th
March-2008
Update

 

Easter Weekend Trial Online Photo Gallery

Carib Canoe Trial-Run Triumph

by J. Grimner

50 intrepid Sea Warriors set out at dawn on Easter Saturday morning in two huge Carib War Canoes, paddling south from Madiana Beach in Martinique. Their faces were set, their resolve firm, their destination, St. Luce, a quiet coastal village some 25 hard nautical miles to the south.

But this was no war party bent on conquering a neighboring tribe. These were modern day Sea Warriors, no weapons in hand, just long Carib paddles and a determination to recreate history, the history of the Kalingo people, Carib Indians who gave their name to the Caribbean when they conquered these islands over one thousand years ago.

The KARISKO Association of Martinique is in its second year of a seven year project to recreate the sea travel of the Kalingo People from their ancestral lands in the South American Amazon Basin up through each of the Caribbean islands to what is today Puerto Rico.

On 2 May 2008 they will initiate the first major phase of this ambitious project by setting out from Grande Riviere in the north of Martinique to brave the heavy seas of the Dominican Channel, paddling their two authentic 25-man Carib War Canoes for over 10 hours of grueling muscle power through the high waves and sea spray to arrive finally at sunset on the lush shores of Scotts Head in Dominica to a lively traditional Koné Konla Welcome Ceremony Fete.

All are invited to the all night village Welcome Party by the sea which will begin as soon as our Sea Warriors arrive.

Sea Warriors

But first our 50 Sea Warriors had to test themselves earlier this week in the seas off the coast of Martinique, their tough journey a mere half the distance they would have to paddle to reach Dominica on 2 May 2008, one month after this Easter Weekend first trial run.

And so they set out on Easter Saturday morning with Rémi, the French military officer from Tahiti, sounding out the rhythm in his deep voice. The 50 carved paddles dug deep into the calm waters of the Schoelcher Bay and the two heavy wooden canoes began to glide miraculously across the mirror-like surface of the protected bay. Twenty minutes later however they entered the deeper waters of the grand Fort-de-France harbor, cutting across international shipping lines and heading south towards the huge foreboding outcrop of “Le Diamant” rock island. They knew that three full hours into the punishing trip, just when their shoulder muscles would start to feel the first real pain and some soft hands would begin to blister, the real trial would only then begin; the fight against the double whammy of the powerful Diamant North Current and the strong head winds from the South.

The larger canoe, 60 feet from stem to stern, began to pull ahead of its 50 foot sister and the two security support boats had to separate as the first canoe pulled faster ahead. In each canoe was an international team of adventure lovers; men and women who had been inspired by this project to begin training together six months ago. The 50 man team included French, German, Austrian, English, American and Tahitian members as well as a special 15 member contingent from the final destination island of Dominica; Amerindian Kalingo Carib tribesmen; men and women, young and old, students, fishermen and sailors all, who had been training together as a team in the rough Atlantic seas off the East Coast of the Carib Territory in Dominica since January, 2008.

Now the two war canoes had lost sight of each other as they passed point after rocky point heading south to Ste. Luce. The seas were choppy, the breeze stiff as the first, larger war canoe rounded a new point some two and a half hours after the dawn departure. The sea spray came horizontal now as the wind picked up, and then suddenly, there it was! - an enormous tower of stone rising precipitously from the sea, a full half mile off the coastal cliffs; Le Diamant.

The war canoe seemed to stall, unable to advance as the current abruptly swirled around the last point between the shore and the distant stone pillar. The wind whipped past and the Sea Warriors hearts for the first time sank a notch as they paddled into the rough Diamant Channel. Brusquely one paddle snapped in two, and then another, but both were quickly replaced with spares. Rémi, the Tahitian shouted out the rhythm again and the canoe inched forward, again and the canoe inched forward, again and the canoe inched forward… Foot by foot, yard by yard the Sea Warriors conquered the current, fought the wind and finally two long hours later came up under the towering stone of Le Diamant for just a few calm smooth lengths there at its very feet before emerging again from it’s majestic protection back into the wind and the current for another hour’s rough crossing back towards the rocky coast. Ste Luce was now in sight and the final seventh hour of the grueling ordeal was easier to bear knowing that the town was now at least in view.

Finally, after more than seven hours of uninterrupted synchronized team paddling, to the applause of waiting well-wishers, French media and a group of surprised tourists, the 60 foot war canoe, the “Youmoulicou” glided into the Ste. Luce Bay under pure muscle power and gently rammed its wooden nose into the soft white sand of the Ste. Luce Beach.

The sister canoe would arrive two hours later, towed part of the way by the support boat after losing its battle with the unforgiving Diamant winds and current.

The two exhausted teams soon recovered, set up camp on the beach and had a quiet feast under the light of the Easter Weekend full moon.

The next morning, Easter Sunday, a combined crew from the two canoes, the strongest men and women of the A- Team, manned the larger “Youmoulicou” war canoe and resolutely set out to paddle it back north to its Mediana Beach home, arriving in a record five hours this time rather than seven, thanks to the help of the winds and current on the return trip, favorable now when going in the opposite direction. The 50 foot sister canoe with a skeleton crew of four was unceremoniously towed back by one of the support boats.

Both Carib War Canoes however will be remanned and ready for the real challenge this coming month on May Day Weekend when on Friday 2 May 2008 they will set off together at dawn from Grande Riviere in North Martinique. 10 long, grueling hours later the intrepid Sea Warriors, honorary Kalinago all, will glide into the calm waters of the Scotts Head Marine Reserve in Dominica and the Koné Konla Welcome Celebration will at last begin.

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Carib Canoe Warriors Easter Training Trip to Martinique

By J. Grimner

The Carib Canoe Warriors this week enter the challenging second phase of their arduous training program when they join forces in Martinique with their Martinique KARISKO counterparts.

Together our Dominican group of 15 men and women Carib Kalinago rowers will travel to our French sister island to the south to meet and join the 100 KARISKO participants; doctors, trainers, security and rowers, to set out on the open seas for the first time in the two huge authentic Carib War Canoes as a complete team of Carib Canoe Rowers.

This two-day trial run will cover some 25 nautical miles off the coast of Martinique and will seriously test the grit and mettle of all those involved. These tough 25 miles are merely one-half the total distance of the real project, a historically accurate recreation of the original crossing of the Martinique Channel by the Kalinago People in their pre-Columbian colonization of the Caribbean Islands from their original tribal lands in the Amazon Basin.

This historical re-enactment will take place with both teams crossing the Martinique-Dominica Channel on Friday 2 May 2008. The combined team of Dominican and Martinique rowers will paddle the two 25-man Carib War Canoes for ten hours, setting out at morning's first light and continuing across the open seas non-stop for the entire day.

An elaborate Welcome Ceremony is planned in Scotts Head and Soufriere for sunset of the same day, followed by a traditional Village Koné Konla Fete on into the wee hours of the night. The following day, Saturday 3 May 2008, water sports activities will be highlighted, including 4-man canoe races and actual outings in the 25-man canoes for the general public from both Martinique and Dominica.

This week, Easter Weekend, our Dominican Carib Canoe Warriors will get their first chance to see if they really have what it takes to challenge the unforgiving sea. Judging from their tough training program which has been underway here in Dominica every week since January 2008 in the rough Atlantic Ocean off the East Coast, our Carib Canoe Warriors are more than ready for the challenge.

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O R G A N I S E R S     &     S P O N S O R S

KARISKO - Main Organiser
SHAPE - Liaison/Partner
in Dominica

The following organisations are pleased to be sponsors of the Carib Canoe Crossing Project

 

KARISKO - www.karisko.com or Ioumoulicou's Blog

SHAPE (767-440-3430) - www.shape.dm

Alliance Française de la Dominique (767-448-4557 ) « Apprenez le français ! »

Courts Dominica (767-448-7655) - www.courts.co.dm “Adding value EVERY day”

Dominica Marine Center (767-448-2705) - www.dominicamarinecenter.com  “All your Marine needs”

Wacky Rollers (767-449-8276) - www.wackyrollers.com   “Come feel the force of Nature”

Whitchurch Travel Agency (767-448-2181) - www.whitchurch.com “The Friendliest Travel Bureau”

DOMLEC (1-800-744-268)

Digicel (767-616-1500) - www.digiceldominica.com  “Expect more. Get more”

Discover Dominica Authority (767-448-2025) - www.discoverdominica.com

Fort Young Hotel (767-448-5000) - www.fortyounghotel.com  “Dominica’s Premier Hotel

Delphis Ltd. (767-449-9632) - www.avirtualDominica.com

 

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