Home ° 2017


Caribbean Ports: ° Anguilla ° Antigua and Barbuda ° Antilles ° Aruba ° Bahamas ° Barbados ° Cuba ° Dominica ° Dominican Republic (Santo Domingo) ° Grenadines ° Guadeloupe ° Haiti ° Jamaica ° Martinique ° Netherlands/Antilles ° Puerto Rico ° Saint Kitts ° St. Lucia ° St. Martin ° St. Thomas ° St. Vincent and the Grenadines ° Tortola ° Trinidad and Tobago ° Turks and Caicos


Caribbean Map.

After 1783 and the end of eight long years of war with Britain, America's Eastern Seaboard towns rapidly rebuilt its fishing and merchant fleets, increased its trade along the coast to the Caribbean and to Liverpool, England, and added ports in the Mediterranean. In the early years of the new century, while Europe spent its forces fighting Napoleon, the United States’ neutral position allowed American trade to prosper everywhere.

Louis Garneray. Floating Prisons.
Louis Garneray (1783-1857) is famous as one of France’s greatest marine painters. He was also a remarkable story-teller. He went to sea at the age of 13, spent time painting in the Caribbean, served in privateers in the Indian Ocean and was captured in 1806. Transported to England, he was confined amongst thousands of prisoners in the hulks until 1814 when Napoleon abdicated and the war ended.

Attempting to bully neutral traders, Britain and France outlawed trading with the colonies of their enemies. For example, Americans who traded with Britain were prohibited from trading with France’s West Indian colonies. If Americans traded with France, they were not allowed to trade in the ports of British colonies, such as that of St. Thomas. The Americans side-stepped the prohibitions by inserting a short coastal voyage between the two ends of a vessel’s planned trade route. Samuel Eliot Morrison described this “indirect trade” undertaken to maintain peace and profits:

Fort Royal, the Capital of Martinico. 1760.

Plymouth custom-house records indicate the strange routes in 1806 and 1807: The brig Elisa Hardy of Plymouth enters her home port from Bordeaux with a cargo of claret wine. Part is sent to Martinique in the schooner Pilgrim, which also carries a consignment of brandy from Alicante in the brigCommerce, and gin from Rotterdam in the barque Hannal of Plymouth. The rest of the Elisa Hardy’s claret is taken to Philadelphia and thence to seven different vessels to Havana, Santiago de Cuba, St. Thomas, and Batavia.

The year of 1848 in the history of Martinique saw slavery abolished and thousands of immigrants reached the island from India and the surrounding area for work on the island's plantations substituting the once thriving slave labor.


Martinique became the most precious of all French colonies during the eighteenth century when the sugar exports reached a major peak. Due to the boom in sugar, the island became one fought over by the British and the island saw a change of hands in official ownership several times over the passing years. Several small wars, violent events, and other strife saw a number of periodic takeovers yet in the end Martinique was retrieved and kept by the French. Some economic and political autonomy was granted to Martinique, French Guinea, and Guadeloupe in 1974 following strife and a political revolution. Guadeloupe and Martinique officially became part of the French Antilles in 1946.

Captains and crew faced danger at every turn. If they could avoid raiders, privateers and pirates, British dictates and being caught in doldrums (thereby losing necessary speed from port to port to sell goods at the higest prices and purchase the finest quality merchandise and food products), they also ran into hurricanes and volcanic eruptions.

Souvenirs des Antilles: Voyage en 1815 et 1816, aux États-Unis, et dans l'archipel Caraïbe. Aperçu de Philadelphie et New-Yorck. Descriptions de la Trinidad, la Grenade, Saint-Vincent, Sainte-Lucie, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Marie-Galante, Saint-Christophe,Souvenirs des Antilles.

Souvenirs des Antilles. 1815-1816.

The culture of Martinique exhibits a definitive French flavor, with St. Pierre known as the Paris of the French Antilles until the eruption of Mt Pelee, but several other important influences create the fascinating medley of culture on the island. Creole is the second most dominant influence in the culture of Martinique. A melange of languages, including Portuguese, English, French, Spanish, African, and Caribbean, Creole was born from numerous dialects and is spoken all around the West Indies. Finding plenty of times and ways to celebrate, there are many annual festivities and events hosted by islanders, most including heady Caribbean tunes, an abundance of tantalizing dishes celebrations of races, arts, culture, and much more.

Mt. Pele in Martinique erupted in 1851, then fumaroles appeared in the summit crater in 1889, and by April of 1902, explosions were coming from the crater. On May 5, the crater burst and lava flowed into the valley of the Riviere Blanche reaching a rum distillery near the coast, burying all but its smokestack, and killing 24 workers. The mudflow entered the Caribbean Sea, generating a tsunami with 3 to 4 meter waves that flooded the low lying parts of St. Pierre. One of the commissioners reported to the local newspaper that "Mt. Pele presents no more danger to St. Pierre than Vesuvius does to Naples!"

On May 8th, a loud blast emanated from the summit of Mt. Pele, all clocks stopped, and part of the flow overtopped the valley walls and engulfed St. Pierre, killing all but two people out of about 29,000 in two to three minutes. Ships in the harbor catch fire and sink. Still, nearly all humans and animals die, even in parts of the city not knocked down by the blast.

September 18, 1891, Waterloo Daily Courier, Waterloo, Iowa, U.S.A.

A Private Letter from Martinique Tells of the Damage Done.

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 18. A. C. Grosholtz, of 226 Church street, has received a letter from Alfred B. Keevie, United States consul to Martinique, who is his persona! friend. The letter, which was mailed at St. Pierre, Aug. 30, gives some further details concerning the terrible work of the West Indian hurricane which almost devastated the islands on Aug. 18. Consul Keevie says: "We have just passed through a terrible storm, as you have doubtless heard. Your wildest imagination cannot picture the terrible affair and its results. Nearly every village on the island is wiped out of existence. Morne Rogue is entirely gone, Forte de France nearly all gone", and Fountain Shaude destroyed with the exception of the dining room and parlor. The hurricane demolished all the large mango and other trees, which were torn to splinters and hurled down the precipice. In fact, there is not a tree in all the visible part of the island that retains a leaf or small branch, and in most cases they are torn up by the roots."

The Sea Chart
The Illustrated History of Nautical Maps and Navigational Charts
The Sea Chart.
John Blake
The sea chart was one of the key tools by which ships of trade, transport and conquest navigated their course across the oceans. John Blake looks at the history and development of the chart and the related nautical map, in both scientific and aesthetic terms, as a means of safe and accurate seaborne navigation.

This work contains 150 color illustrations including the earliest charts of the Mediterranean made by thirteenth-century Italian merchant adventurers, as well as eighteenth-century charts that became strategic naval and commercial requirements and led to Cook's voyages in the Pacific, the search for the Northwest Passage, and races to the Arctic and Antarctic.

Shanghaiing Days
The Thrilling Account of 19th Century Hell-Ships, Bucko Mates and Masters, and Dangerous Ports-Of-Call from San Francisco
Shanghaiing Days in San Francisco.
Richard H. Dillon
An Amazon Editors' Favorite: In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the American Merchant Marine went into a tragic decline, and sailors were forced to serve under conditions that were little better than serfdom. Seamen were exploited in wholesale fashion, disfranchised of almost all their civil and human rights, and brutally punished for even minor offenses. Successful skippers had turned into slave drivers, cracking down on the sailors, sometimes even murdering their "hands." Though captains were legally prohibited from flogging their crews, they did not hesitate to wield belaying pins, marlin spikes, or their bare fists. The seamen's lot became so horrible in this period that entire crews frequently jumped ship when a vessel came into port. One result of this was that new crews had to be kidnaped, crimped, or shanghaied from the unsuspecting populace of the ports. These "impressed" or "hobo" crews were still further conspired against. They often had their wages stolen from them; they were poorly fed and clothed. Their lives became "hell afloat and purgatory ashore." In this way what had been our "first and finest employ" in colonial days was turned into a disreputable profession-one that was classed with criminals and prostitutes.

Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Storiessea captains and ships.Shanghaiiing Days.
Simon Winchester
"Variably genial, cautionary, lyrical, admonitory, terrifying, horrifying and inspiring. A lifetime of thought, travel, reading, imagination and memory inform this affecting account." —Kirkus Reviews
Blending history and anecdote, geography and reminiscence, science and exposition, the New York Times bestselling author tells the breathtaking saga of the Atlantic Ocean, setting it against the backdrop of mankind's intellectual evolution. Until a thousand years ago, no humans ventured into the Atlantic or imagined traversing its vast infinity. But once the first daring mariners successfully navigated to far shores — whether it was the Vikings, the Irish, the Chinese, Christopher Columbus in the north, or the Portuguese and the Spanish in the south — the Atlantic evolved in the world's growing consciousness as an enclosed body of water bounded by the Americas to the West, and by Europe and Africa to the East. Atlantic is a biography of this immense space, of a sea which has defined and determined so much about the lives of the millions who live beside or near its tens of thousands of miles of coast.

Annapolis Book of Seamanship.The Annapolis Book of Seamanship
Fourth Edition
Annapolis Book of Seamanship.
John Rousmaniere
Since the publication of the first edition in 1983, The Annapolis Book of Seamanship has set the standard by which other books on sailing are measured. Used throughout America as a textbook in sailing schools and Power Squadrons, this book covers the fundamental and advanced skills of modern sailing. This edition of Annapolis is a major overhaul. Over half the book has been revised; old topics and features have been updated, and many new ones have been introduced, with the design modernized, and additional color illustrations.

A Sea Captain's Adventures Battling Scoundrels and Pirates While Recovering Stolen Ships in the World's Most Troubled Waters
A Sea Captain's Adventures.A Sea Captain's Adventures.
Max Hardberger
Seized takes readers behind the scenes of the multibillion dollar maritime industry, as Hardberger recounts his efforts to retrieve freighters and other vessels from New Orleans to the Caribbean, from East Germany to Vladivostak, Russia, and from Greece to Guatemala. He resorts to everything from disco dancing to women of the night to distract the shipyard guards, from bribes to voodoo doctors to divert attention and buy the time he needs to sail a ship out of a foreign port without clearance. Seized is adventure nonfiction at its best.

The Rebel Raiders
The Astonishing History of the Confederacy's Secret NavyShips, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.
James T. deKay
During its construction in Liverpool, the ship was known as “Number 290.”
The Rebel Raiders.When it was finally unleashed as the CSS Alabama, the Confederate gunship triggered the last great military campaign of the Civil War; yet another infamous example of British political treachery; and the largest retribution settlement ever negotiated by an international tribunal: $15,500,000 in gold paid by Britain to the United States. This riveting true story of the Anglo-Confederate alliance that led to the creation of a Southern navy illuminates the dramatic and crucial global impact of the American Civil War. Like most things in the War between the States, it started over cotton: Lincoln’s naval blockade prevented the South from exporting their prize commodity to England. In response, the Confederacy came up with a plan to divert the North’s vessels and open the waterways–a plan that would mean covertly building a navy in Britain with a cast of clandestine characters.

Latin America, World Journeys, Discovery.The Age of Sail.Commodore Levy: A Novel of Early America in the Age of Sail
(Modern Jewish History)
By all accounts, Uriah Phillips Levy, the first Jewish commodore in the U.S. Navy, was both a principled and pugnacious man. On his way to becoming a flag officer, he was subjected to six courts-martial and engaged in a duel, all in response to antisemitic taunts and harassment from his fellow officers. Yet he never lost his love of country or desire to serve in its navy. When the navy tried to boot him out, he took his case to the highest court and won. This richly detailed historical novel closely follows the actual events of Levy’s life: running away from his Philadelphia home to serve as a cabin boy at age ten; his service during the War of 1812 aboard the Argus and internment at the notorious British prison at Dartmoor;  his campaign for the abolition of flogging in the Navy; and his purchase and restoration of Monticello as a tribute to his personal hero, Thomas Jefferson. Set against a broad panorama of U.S. history, Commodore Levy describes the American Jewish community from 1790 to 1860, the beginnings of the U.S. Navy, and the great nautical traditions of the Age of Sail before its surrender to the age of steam.

History of Seafaring. Donald Johnson and Juha Nurminen.History of Seafaring.The History of Seafaring:
Navigating the World's Oceans
Navigating the World's Oceans.
Donald Johnson and Juha Nurminen
Royal prestige, intellectual curiosity, and territorial expansion all propelled mankind to undertake perilous voyages across unpredictable oceans. This large and lavishly illustrated volume brings that history to life. From the early Phoenician navigation techniques to the technologies behind today's mega-ships, the greatest advances in shipbuilding are covered, accompanied by hundreds of images, with an in-depth look at navigational instruments (including those used by the Vikings).


Caribbean: Martinique

1899. World's Fleet. Boston Daily Globe

Lloyds Register of Shipping gives the entire fleet of the world as 28,180 steamers and sailing vessels, with a total tonnage of 27,673,628, of which 39 perent are British.

Great Britain10,990 vessels, total tonnage of 10,792,714
United States 3,010 vessels, total tonnage of 2,405,887
Norway 2,528 vessels, tonnage of 1,604,230
Germany 1,676 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,453,334, in which are included her particularly large ships.
Sweden 1,408 vessels with a tonnage of 643, 527
Italy1,150 vessels
France 1,182 vessels

For Historical Comparison
Top 10 Maritime Nations Ranked by Value (2017)

  Country # of Vessels







1 Greece 4,453 206.47 $88.0
2 Japan 4,317 150.26 $79.8
3 China 4,938 159.71 $71.7
4 USA 2,399 55.92 $46.5
5 Singapore 2,662 64.03 $41.7
6 Norway 1,668 39.68 $41.1
7 Germany 2,923 81.17 $30.3
8 UK 883 28.78 $24.3
9 Denmark 1,040 36.17 $23.4
10 South Korea 1,484 49.88 $20.1
Total 26,767 87.21 $466.9

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping.Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

Kindly Kindly Donate.


DALevy @


Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

Please inform us if you link from your site. Please do NOT link from your site unless your site specifically relates to immigration in the 1800s, family history, maritime history, international seaports, and/or California history.