Sunday, 13 August 2017

South to Guadeloupe 16th June 2017

South to Guadeloupe 16th June 2017

It is Friday, I know you shouldn’t start a voyage on a Friday but it looks like a good forecast and we need to get going.

We are woken at 0330 by 2 boats anchored close to us talking on the VHF. Now we always leave the VHF on Ch. 16/68 just in case someone has a problem and we may be able to help. But really guys if you are planning to leave early and need to talk to each other why not agree a ‘working channel’ before you go to bed, not wake everyone up by discussing your plans on a hailing channel at zero dark thirty! (No names no ‘pack drill’ as they say but you know who you were!)

With our sleep disturbed we are up before it is light and away by 0600. We motor sailed for a while then with all 3 sails set we were on our way. The log shows nothing exciting except that we handed the mizzen at noon as the wind had gone further forward of the beam and it was permanently being back winded by the main. Seas were slight to moderate for the whole trip and the wind was Force 4/5. Tamarisk passed us just north of Tete A L’anglaise and we sailed right to the entrance of Deshaies Bay before furling the genoa and dropping the main as we motored in to anchor.

A rare sight with our mizzen up

As usual there were no available moorings, most of them being taken by long term residents. We found a spot to anchor close to Tamarisk on the north side of the bay. It is now just after 2pm so we put the sails away, had a quick swim and a late sandwich lunch with a cold beer to celebrate our arrival. The log records 53 miles in just over 8 hours, 6.5kts moving average.

The very modern Library building in Deshaies

At this time of year we pay particular attention to the weather, it is now officially ‘hurricane season’. Our plans had been to rush south but with TS (Tropical Storm ) Brett looking to pass between St Vincent and St Lucia we might as well stay here. We seem to be getting plenty of wind and rain. Dave on Tamarisk recorded 39Kts the other night! Very choppy in the harbour and we seem to get a soaking either going ashore or coming back. At least it is warm rain! 

The storm has passed and all is calm. We plan to have a braai and invite Dave and Anna over from Tamarisk. There is a good meat selection in the supermarket so we have lamb chops and steak! What we don’t have is propane for the gas braai. The little Camping Gaz cylinder has run out and the supermarket that usually stocks the cylinders won’t have any until next week. Never mind we will have to cook on the stove. Still a great evening with plenty of French wine!

Blue headed wrasse

With calmer weather we can go snorkelling. It is usually nice here and from where we are anchored it is an easy swim to the reef on the edge of the bay. It seems to us that there is a lot more algae covering everything and that it was not as pretty as we remembered from two years ago. There were plenty of different sea urchins but no parrot fish at all. We only saw one turtle. Maybe its just the season.

Magnificent sea urchin

 The highlight of that night was a ‘Mayday’ call on the radio. This was handled very professionally by the French coastguard who eventually sent a helicopter to rescue the crew of a yacht that was sinking. We heard the helicopter pass over us on the way out to sea and then on the way back. A real life drama from the scene of ‘Death in Paradise’. We trust the people were OK.

Our very own 'RNLI' Richard rescues another dinghy that was floating off the dinghy dock. We returned it to the dock, I suspect the owner didn't even know it had gone for a jaunt on its own.

With the storm safely passed we are on the move south to the Saintes. As always we either have no wind or too much. This time we have very little wind as we motor down the coast of Guadeloupe. What was I saying about too much wind? Yes we have it in the gap between Guadeloupe and the Saintes, wind, rain, big seas, then more wind and rain. The visibility was down to 100metres at times in the rain. Fortunately it cleared as we arrived, in time to pick up a mooring just off the town jetty.

Galene from up the hill where we take the rubbish and recycling is. Note how empty the anchorage is. Plenty of mooring balls but not many yachts.

At least the boat has had a good wash! We have named the harbourmaster here ‘Hawkeye’, as we had only been on the mooring for about 10 minutes when he turned up for his money! The moorings here are actively managed. A bit different from Deshaies. The wind has moved a bit north so the moorings here are a bit rolly. The wind is forecast to go easterly later in the day and it does, so it all calms down.

The perfect end to another day in paradise! Time for a cold beer.

The town (Basse Terre) is very quiet in spite of the multiple ferries plying between the islands all day long. They have funny opening hours here. Not just the usual long lunch. Some establishments are open in the morning, others in the afternoon! Makes shopping a bit tedious but remember it is paradise! (Well that’s the name of the local ice cream anyway!). 

The highlight of our shopping is that we are able to exchange our Camping Gaz cylinder. This is the same cylinder we exchanged in the Cape Verde islands in January 2013! It was very rusty and had been repainted several times but was exchanged for a nice clean one without question. I feel a braai coming on!

Very pretty!

An interesting aside is that our UK O2 sim works here in the Saintes. As we still have time left on the plan we are on the same deal as we would have been back home. 

We have paid for 2 nights and as the weather looks good we will be off to Dominica on Saturday.

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