Sunday, 12 July 2015

A Sojourn in the Saintes

A Sojourn in the Saintes June 2015

At 0900 on Tuesday 2nd June we raised the mainsail at anchor as it was so calm and still and set off for the Saintes. Eventually we had 25kts on the nose so we motorsailed all day. Just at the bottom of the island the engine suddenly slowed. There had been a lot of Sargassum weed in the water and we thought maybe there was some tangled round the prop. We started a 360 degree turn and the engine cut out. The worst possible moment as we were now just south of the island and in the channel – nowhere to go.

The Saintes - beautiful as ever!

Luckily it started again and Richard went down below to investigate. The clamp holding the throttle cable had broken. He managed to jury rig a ‘clamp’ and we picked up a buoy off Bourg de Saintes at 15:30. Exit Strategy had anchored off Pan de Sucre but it is not an easy anchorage and we did not fancy trying it with a dodgy engine. As it was, we ended up picking up the mooring on the second attempt with the engine jammed in forward gear but at least we were secure.

France or the Caribbean? (Department 972 of course!)

Next day we went ashore for some shopping and laundry. Unfortunately the good wholesale drinks store just off the dinghy dock has changed so our plans on stocking up on diet soft drinks and beer were scuppered. After a baguette with Exit Strategy at Cafe de la Marine it was back to Galene and Richard spent the afternoon researching the throttle problem on the internet.

On Thursday Richard repaired the throttle – great relief! Then we got water at the ferry dock. We paid for 100l and were given a fob which you swipe at the tap and we kept filling jerry cans until it  stopped – we got about 130l, very generous. Bruce on Wild Matilda arrived from St Martin, so we had a really good dinner ashore with him at Au Bon Vivre.

Pan de Sucre from 'Galene'

On Saturday we finally joined Exit Strategy and Horizons at Pan de Sucre having two attempts at anchoring as we dragged the first time. Snorkelling to check the anchor we saw an amazing amount of life just under the boat. Several cushion sea stars and a few sand tile fish among many other creatures on the grassy bottom. Dinner on Exit Strategy was a lovely sociable end to the day.

'Spot' the shrimp next to the Anemone

Richard and Dan had a dive each of the next two days while Rose and I snorkelled. The sea life is really good here – baby trumpet fish or pipefish, not sure which they were, hamlets and many Balloon fish and Burr fish and all the usual reef fish . A cute tiny red crab and a slender file fish were two new creatures. The scorpion fish looks different to me but can’t decide which one it is and we saw a few of the spotted Scorpion fish as well. 

Scorpion fish - don't tread on it!

The dives off of Pan de Sucre were excellent with really good sponges, hard and soft corals. On both dives Richard and Dan saw Nassau groupers, this was a new fish to both of them. They also saw the ever invasive lionfish and a large one as well, remember what they say, “save the reef eat a lionfish”. We didn’t see lionfish on the menu in The Saintes but I am sure it will be on the menu when we get to Dominica. 

Sunday we were treated to supper again, this time on Horizons and they left the next day. This life is all hello's and good byes!

Monday the boys got their cylinders refilled, bought our last baguettes and checked out as Tuesday we were heading for Dominica.

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