The “Côtiers”

  • Types of boats

    The types of boats used for transport between Bel Ombre and Port-Louis as well as other parts of the island can be qualified as Ketches, as these have two masts including a mizzen mast holding a small sail at the back, a central sail and three jibs. The smaller ones measured around 15 meters while the large ones 23 meters. The Côtiers as they were called were built using indigenous woods such as bois de natte, tambalacoque or colophane which were known for their resistance to pests and their robustness. The larger boats were built in Port-Louis while the smaller ones were built on site in Bel Ombre. The larger boats had room for a small cabin at the back for the captain and a small kitchen on the deck used to prepare the meals of the crew.

Noteworthy boats

When the S. Taleb and A.J. Mamoojee bought the Bel Ombre estate, there were already four boats owned by the company. The latter renamed the boats Swainie, Maine, Alaindeerand Mariam. The same boats were later renamed when the estate transferred ownership again in 1910 and the Compagnie Sucrière de Bel Ombre was created.

The anecdotes surrounding the boats are numerous. Being at the mercy of the currents and winds, it is reported that some have drifted up to the point of seeing Reunion Island. In another instance, the last site manager, Mr Lucien Manal, was reported to have found himself next to Chemin Grenier, in the opposite direction of his planned route, after falling asleep on deck aboard the Gascienne. On another occasion, the same boat shipwrecked on the reefs in front of Bel Ombre but the crew was able to salvage the boat by refloating it with wooden barrels.  The last boat to carry out the voyage between Bel Ombre and Port-Louis was the Jean-Chantal, in 1955. [1]


[1]Jean-Pierre Lenoir, Bel Ombre, entre mer et montagne, Editions du Corsaire

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