Thursday, 23 May 2013

Antigua and South

Antigua and South.

Having spent a few days at anchor in Five Islands harbour it is time to move on. We are now heading back south, so we moved to the anchorage at Jolly harbour for some provisioning and Customs checkout.
Ashore at 5 islands. A blowhole in a solidified lava flow.
After filling up with water we said goodbye to ‘Frogslexe’ who is heading back to Europe single handed. We wished him ‘Bon Voyage’ while we embarked on our 50M trip to Deshaies on Guadeloupe. 

Deshaies as before did not disappoint, as we had some excellent snorkelling at the edge of the harbour and close to the entrance. One morning before breakfast we spotted dolphins swimming in the anchorage, but by the time we were in the water they had disappeared. One day we will get to swim with dolphins. On a run ashore with the crew of ‘Vivace’, we took a walk up the river, quite a scramble over boulders to find that the water was rather low so the expected waterfalls and pools did not materialise. The walk was still impressive all the same.
River walk
The ladies water aerobics classes started in Falmouth harbour are still going strong with the group numbers varying depending who is around.

After a couple of days in Deshaies we are on the move again, this time only as far as the Jacques Cousteau marine reserve at Pigeon Island.  The anchorage is a bit rolly but the turtles and the   snorkelling more than compensate. We go ashore with the crew of ‘Vivace’ again and discover a pretty beach resort with the usual bars, beach shops and several dive operators. After a bit of discussion and negotiation, we have all booked 2 dives each, so we will stay another day.
The beach at Cousteau reserve
Honeycomb Cowfish
The evil, invasive Lionfish & Magnificent Feather duster worm
The diving is every bit as good as promised, beautiful corals and sponges, lots of sea life and interesting underwater topography. With a statue of the man himself what more could a diver wish for? Once again we saw several new fish including hogfish, sand tilefish, white spotted filefish, a school of Atlantic spadefish, Caribbean spiny lobster and reef squid.
French Angelfish - what else do you expect in Guadeloupe!

Parrot fish - we still have not identified this one in spite of having three fish books.
Porkfish - I kid you not!
Queen Trigger fish

With Jacques. If youn rub his head all your future diving will be good. It has so far!

Sharptail eel. It was crawling in and out of the yellow sponges, presumably eating something that lives at the bottom, closely accompanied all the time by a small grouper waiting for titbits. 

Almost forgot - A Hawksbill turtle
Our next port of call is the Saintes; we will not stay long, just long enough to checkout before heading to Roseau on Dominica. Our new electric autopilot is being despatched from the USA to St Lucia so we need to keep moving in order to arrive and collect it from the marina office.  A solitary dolphin appeared to say good bye as we left the archipelago.
To The Saintes in the rain!
We arrive in Roseau in the afternoon and are too late to check in; we will do this in the morning along with the washing which has not been done for a while. After visiting the laundry and checking in and out at customs, we decide to explore the bay to the south of our mooring and maybe have lunch at the Anchorage Hotel. Next door to the hotel is the Dominica Dive centre and lodge; we enjoyed lunch on the terrace overlooking the water. The fish burger was Lionfish (yum yum!!). After such an environmentally friendly lunch we succumbed to temptation and booked a couple of dives for the following day. (Our Autopilot will have to wait).

What can you say about another beautiful marine reserve?  The diving at Scott’s Head was excellent with huge underwater pinnacles, a really good swim through with squirrel fish, crabs and lobsters. The whole area seems pristine with a huge variety of life. We saw four different varieties of sea anemone   and corals and sponges in more colours and shapes than you can imagine. The highlight being the second dive where we saw Seahorses and swam among the volcanic gasses escaping in the water creating an effect like swimming in a champagne glass.
Arrow Crab with its host Anenome, the whole crab is only about 1" legs 'n all!
Banded Butterflyfish
Lined seahorse - about 5cm
Peacock Flounder

Smooth Trunkfish
Yellowtail Hamlet, rare in this part of the Caribbean! It is a predator which mimics a non-carnivorous damselfish to catch its prey unawares. We saw a Butter Hamlet and a Lined Hamlet on this dive as well.

We have vowed not to dive now until we get to the Grenadines!

Monday being a holiday (Whit Monday), we are off to St Pierre on Martinique; we will just overnight and then make our way to Fort de France for some wine and cheese shopping.

As we are arriving at St Pierre we heard a “mayday” call on the VHF. It was swiftly answered by MRCC Fort de France, the transmission was very weak and there was some difficulty in establishing the position of the casualty and the nature of the distress. Eventually with the help of a US coastguard cutter that was to the west of Martinique the position was discovered and a helicopter and rescue boat sent from Martinique. With the helicopter, US coastguard and French lifeboat we established that the boat was from Venezuela with 4 on board, we presume a fishing boat with no lifejackets and engine failure. They requested water as there was none on board and subsequently the US coastguard engineer that they had sent on board to assist with the engine discovered that the boat was sinking!

The US supplied a pump and started pumping until the French arrived with a tow to Martinique, the helicopter being stood down. We heard no more so we presume the rescue was successful, we don’t know if these poor guys are in Martinique with a boat or not!

 The following day we arrived in Fort de France in the rain. We have plenty of water and are not sinking! It is a holiday Monday so we cannot check in or shop, lunch in the cockpit and a beer ashore in the evening.

We check in on the Tuesday and get the first load of shopping, we will shop some more on the Wednesday, checkout and then sail to St Lucia on Thursday. Our parcel containing the autopilot has arrived on the island.

We should have seen the clues: no ferries and little traffic when we got up. In our defence it was raining heavily so we were hiding behind our boom tent and rain covers.  Guess what? It is another holiday! No shopping today and no checkout either so we will spend a wet bank holiday here in Martinique. (At least the boat has had a good wash again!).We will shop and checkout tomorrow (Thursday) and sail to St Lucia on Friday and hopefully collect our parcel on Saturday.

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