Seychelles’ ship building history revisited

PRASLIN BUILT SCHOONERS MADE IT TO HAWAII AND AUSTRALIA – 185 YEARS AGO

(Posted 29th July 2016)

(Reference of the notarial document regarding the sale of the Clémentine: Seychelles National Archives)

Interesting facts came to light recently when several articles dedicated to the ship building history of the Seychelles were published.

Julien Durup a student of history wrote in a recently published historical article titled “An Early Seychellois in Micronesia”, that the Clémentine was a bark which had left Sydney in mid-1836, with Louis Corgat a Seychellois as first mate en-route to Oahu Island, the third largest island in Hawaii. We did so without knowing where the Clémentine was built. However, it was recently when we came across a remarkable document written by Léonce Alphonse Jore (born in 1892 at Madagascar and died in Switzerland in 1975), the former French Governor of Tahiti, that we found out that Clémentine was in fact built at Praslin in the Seychelles.

In another article the “Three Sturdy Seychellois Built Ships That Ended in Australia”, we mentioned that the 95 ton Arpenteur, which was also built on Praslin in 1839, as the first Seychellois built ship that went to Australia. Her remains were discovered in 1972, at Cheyne’s Beach, Western Australia.

Now we know for sure that in fact it was the Clémentine that went first. We also found out that no such vessel was registered with that name in the Seychelles and we will later explain why.

The Clémentine was a brig-Schooner built by Jean Mathiot alias “Gentil” at Praslin. Mathiot was at that time a well-known French shipbuilder in the Seychelles. He was from Sainte Croix in Bordeaux, the son of Louis Mathiot and Anne Laurent of the same place. As he was married to Catherine Charlotte Duvey, the daughter of Jean Lot Duvey of Normandy and Marie Catherine Hoareau, the Clémentine could have been built on the Duvey’s property at Grand Anse Praslin, which is still known today by the old Praslinois as “Terrain Duvey”.

Some time back, we came across at the Seychelles National Archives an important notarial deed on the Clémentine.

That deed was drawn on 6 July 1832, by Amable Lefebure-Mercy, a resident Notary on Mahé. It comprised the sale of a brig-schooner named Clémentine by Jean Mathiot to Captain Jules Dudoit.

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This unfinished vessel was launched a month before and was going to be registered after its completion. She had only her masts and yards and no other rigging and she was described as of about eighty-feet and seventy-six eighty-fourth tons, measured sixty-eight feet from bow to stern by seventeen feet ten inches in the beam and had a hold eight feet eight deep.

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