Astra Log 17th Jan to 29th Jan

Jeremy & Sally Paul
Thu 31 Jan 2008 16:20



On the last day in Les Saintes we ventured up to Fort Napoleon, it was a very steep hill…it felt about 1:1 in the sweltering heat.  However, it was worth the climb, they had made a real effort with the fort, it was in great condition and there were plenty of original cannon, iguanas and some amazing cacti.  They had even described in great detail how the French did in fact win at Trafalgar!?  Then we walked back down the hill to Bai de Pompierre; unfortunately the visibility was not good for snorkelling and the beach had been invaded by an army of strange pasty people from some large cruise ship.  Other than that the Bay was beautiful!


After a tough morning we left Les Saintes and motored straight into a strong headwind all the way to Pointe a Pitre (because that was the only place we could get our washing and provisioning done!?) which was a bit uncomfortable but we got there just before it got dark.  Then after a quick G&T on board we hit the town, first on the list was the Route du Rhum Bar which was not as good as cracked up to be but then it was a Thursday.  Wandering a bit further into town we found a Moet Chandon Bar: great barmaid, nice cocktails etc.  Found a fantastic restaurant around the corner called Voile Blanche and had some lovely grub.  Jeremy had grenouille followed by a superb beef Rossini, Sally had ravioli and duck and Ash had escargots and some large prawns followed by eau de vie (not to be recommended).  Suitably revived we returned to the same bar with the pretty barmaid who Jeremy then tried to chat up.  Ash was in hysterics and Sally was ready to throttle the pair of them!  Nevertheless we all survived and after way too many cocktails staggered back to the boat.


In the morning we did some jobs and visited the aquarium which had a wonderful display of fish including some very large nurse sharks.




Slipped our moorings and headed for Pigeon Island which Jeremy wanted to visit because Jaques Cousteau said that it was one of the best dive sites in the World!  The whole place was full of scuba diving centres taking people out on courses or exploration dives.  So Jeremy signed us up for a 3 day intensive Open Water course.  Sally was not impressed to have do homework every night!!




The first dive was meant to be in a swimming pool so you can stand whilst practicing taking off your mask, regulator, BCD etc.  No chance!!  We plopped straight into 20 feet of salt water, put kit on and went straight down to the bottom!  Aaah, sinking, help….OK breathe!!  Once on the sea bed Sally was motioned to remove her mouthpiece – uh…what do you do to clear it when you put it back in again!?  After 30 gruelling minutes we surfaced and the instructor said “Oh, well done, you didn’t freak out…most people have a panic attack!”  Sally nearly proceeded to show him a whole new side to diving hand signals but managed to suppress herself!   Thankfully the following day we had a different instructor called Richard who was a lovely guy.  We saw barracuda, a beautiful spotted eagle ray (5 foot “wing span”) and a couple of large turtles, along with the most stunning fish and coral.



Completely hooked set off for Antigua to buy some dive kit for Sally and had a lovely sail.  Arrived in English Harbour which was fascinating, but more of that later as will be there for 10 days in Feb.


We parked up next to a little 35 footer which had 2 guys (Bill and Theo) on board who had literally just arrived from the Cape Verde Islands after 16 days at sea.  Luckily we were on hand to help them celebrate their arrival.  They made the fatal mistake of talking to Astra who promptly got them very drunk!  We gave them dinner and took them to a bar to finish them off totally!  Sally and Jeremy chickened out at 2am and left them propping up the bar in Ash’s “care”!  Bill found that after so long at sea his legs wouldn’t support him (yeah right!) and security chased the 3 of them and the crew of Northern Child (Swan 51) all over the dockyard until daybreak.  Bill and Theo did not awaken till well into the following afternoon.  Job well done!!




After a fantastic night sail we arrived in Simpson Bay, St Maarten.  Fantastic place, thoroughly recommended!  Finally managed to buy dive gear for Sally in lovely “shark bait” yellow!  So pleased with the purchase and Sally and Jeremy’s new hair styles that we started Happy Hour early at the Soggy Dollar Bar.  What happened next has had to be omitted for censorship reasons.  But we were in St Maarten for 4 days – what kept us there for so long? See the pictures!!


The following day we went to test Sally’s new dive equipment – all matching, very smart!  Testing was successful and one scattered wreck was discovered.


Fantastic place for almost everything as it is duty free.  The whole lagoon was bursting with super yachts stocking up on provisions (seriously impressive yachts many of them not far off 100 metres long).  Spent some great evenings in the crew bar (Soggy Dollar),  occasionally these very unattractive girls would turn up and do something strange with a pole…sent Jeremy and Ash a bit x-eyed, bless them!