The weight of history Tue Mar 6 pm

Chiscos - Atlantic Cruise
John Simpson
Wed 7 Mar 2012 00:10

Deshaies, Guadeloupe

I feel it's about time after more than a week at sea now to confess my full family maritime heritage. I didn't reveal this before pitching for a spot on the arduous St Lucia-Antigua leg but the time is ripe to come clean. My wife's family came over with the Spanish Armada and then stuck to river sailing on the Norfolk broads. However the Chapman experiences amount to my father's national service with the Royal Navy when he was chuffed to bits to be informed that he was being promoted straight to the rank of "Captain of the Heads", something he thought sounded incredibly grand for someone who's never been to sea. That is until he got to sea….. Anyway my aim on this epic voyage around the Caribbean is to try to raise up the Chapman name in marine circles. There are many places around here named after famous admirals and explorers. It may be left to another generation to achieve that but let's hope I've at least stopped the rot and reversed the tide of history. I managed my first successful bowline in anger today which feels like I'm heading in the right direction.

We've been to the home of one of the world's most famous marine explorers today, Jacques Cousteau. Pigeon Island is one of the world's most renowned protected natural dive sites and I was lucky enough to dive there in a small group led by a French dude called Eric. It was an incredible experience. We went down to a hot spring pumping up from under the rocks around 25m down and held our hands to the stream. There were amazing corals and sponges swarming with fish. We saw a barracuda (sharp teeth) and a lion fish (incredibly poisonous) and a whole host of other colourful characters. No turtles under water but this fella popped his head up near our boat.

We then learned a new law of sailing that the critical speed at which you can go towing a dingy is 8 knots. We discovered at that point that the rings holding the lines to the boat pull off the dingy. Thankfully, the two which popped did so one at a time so we didn't lose the dingy. However Skip and First Mate/Ship's Boy are currently engaged in cutting bits off old life jackets to effect repairs. 

While this was all happening there were some beautiful rainbows between us an Guadeloupe!

We're now in the northern hamlet of Deshaies…..though we've yet to discover what Des Haies did to deserve having a place named after him. There's a bar here named after Ernest Hemmingway. Now he was an old man of the sea!