Guadelope 16:13.5N 61:32.0W
Sun 28 Feb 2010 14:53
We arrived shattered in the marina at Bas du Fort from Nevis having been sailing for 28 hours. The passage took us around the Rodonda which was covered in ash from the Monserat volcano and down the windward side of Monserat to avoid the same.
We were met by the guy Mathieu Bonvoisin who we had been recommended by a professional Catana (same sort of boat as PB) skipper that this was the guy for us. We had suspected that we needed to do bulkhead work on the boat, but had been told originally that Trinidad was the place. Having spent a wee while out here now we have been hugely put off going to Trini'. The cost of the labour is no longer cheap and the place is full of blood sucking mosquitos and thieves and beastly hot.
So we went in search of an alternative, sadly back into €-land, but perhaps worth the money. We had heard very unflattering stuff about the capital, Pointe a Pitre, the guides suggested it was more like a set out of Thriller once the light fades, and our marina was only a few miles up the coast, so not feeling too enthused. However Mathieu seemed like a decent person and we felt the marina seemed safe enough. We then set about trying to find somewhere to live whilst the boat was turned into a sawmill, this was near on impossible. The tight-Prices went into overdrive and decided that 50euro a night was more than enough, it being festival time and a major holiday I think in retrospect we where in lala land. A lovely Swiss girl found us a few alternative, but then we became even more unrealistic and wanted some place nice. So Arianne hunted high and low, given our breif was originally somewhere small near the water for the kids.
She found a place ticking all the boxes and bonus Creole Style, I am thinking fabulous at this stay imagining in my Bosham bubble way a little
chipped paint and lary caribean colours............ We discover a very really Creole style with more chip than paint, all very faded, fridge not
working, curtain holding on by one hook and the upgrade of a aircon system that made the earth move. Both our hearts sank as the thought of 2 weeks in this flee pit on a sofa bed was really very daunghting plus is was miles and miles from any food store or major bus route, it did however tick the all important by the beach. But by this stage we had been dropped off and we were kind of tied in to it all. Colin was demanded to go and pay up whilst I took the kids for an early evening swim before bed. With a few whispered words and suruptious faciall expressions we tried for 1 week, even that would have mean digging deep with coping strategies. Joy of Joys it turned out that the lady who ran the establishment was a little evil. The previously agreed cost went up by double and if we chose not to stay we would be charged 60euros for the inconvenience of her cleaning the room for us, some hotel.
Joyfully we found Arianne swimming off the beach and could relay the tail, she was able to call a taxi which, after some arjie barjie, was able to
whizz us back to a Pacific Bliss workshop, for another camping night aboard. At this stage we are feeling really rather silly about turning down the little charter boat we had been offered 50 yds from our boat. But decisions made the following day we would snap the original offer up............ How cross do we think we are......................?
Day 3 of looking for somewhere to stay alittle more desperate and now with our tails between our legs, plus we really are on our own now, as the lovely Arianne is by now thinking we are impossible. So after much trawling the marina begging for a room, we trudge up the hill and double our price and stay in a hotel room. This time with beds for all of us in one big room. and a balcony with table, chairs, working fridge and 2 ring electric hob, perfection. Especially added to the lure of a big under-used swimming pool bang in front of the apartment, and the boat, and boulangerie only a stone's throw. Great view from the balcony where we could see the huge cruise ships come into PaP.
We had the most blissfull time here, Colin's love affair with the boat ment he could wind his way down the hill each night and sleep aboard. which ment me and the kids had a snore free night, win win win. Ohhh and it was dust free with a cleaning service, very superficial, each day.
We eventually expanded our living space to the pool for school and whilst Colin did much needed jobs on the boat I schooled the kids in the morning he would bring the fresh bread up for lunch and then he took over kid fun and school pm whilst i set to work in our tiny dwelling on re-upholstering the cockpit seat. A new haircutting service by the name of 'Lush' started up whilst we where at Hotel Soliel (its Liz by the way, or othewise known as "Caribbean Cruising Cuts"), it opens each night at about 6 and is open anytime till midnight, even I got a crop at about a rather late hour.
(see other entry for what the bulkead problem was all about)
We had a really rather bliss full 10days here. On the dock next to us we met a Swiss family who had just got over the
atlantic and hobbled into guadalope having spent half of there crossing without alternaters but more importantly there excape hatch which is located in the inside saloon area of the catamaran bridge had decided to be swept away curtousy of a big wave. Thus leaving them with about a 600mm square hole between the inside of their boat and the water. It meant that for most of the crossing, during the night, the person who was not on watch had to sleep on top of a board with whatever other weight them could find, so if a wave came it remained on the outside. But the most amazing thing was they said it was a great family time, their kids are 9 and 7. These guy have turned out to be great fun, if not a little crazy. So after initially not being super friendly we have had lots and lots of laughter with them. One evening at the hotel/residence we had the kid and then parent joined us for drinks by the pool, we have rather taken posetion at this stay. So we stay here till dark then retreated into our room, having pickup afew more kids, all none english speaking. In true style the kids where fed fizzy drinks and crisp then ignored untill our downstairs neighbour bashed on the ceiling due to the noise. oops.
It has been said by more than on person during my life that my spelling is some what original, infact someone only yesterday blamed the errors on the blog on the high sea, but sadly not it is indemic. However i did not expect my husband, Edinburgh1st grad and mr phd to not notice the rather large mistake on our sail bag, it took us over one week to have Pacfic Bliss corrected to Pacific Bliss (see other entry)
With a little sadness the kids and I moved back to the boat/workshop, I managed to squeeze a couple more days out of colin but the time had come so back to the workshop we trudged. The heat seems to have reved up afew notches but not the wind so living back on board was not a dream. I decamped at night to the mosquito infested trampoline rather than our birth, which to me seemed more like the black hole of calcutta.
We are now in a bit of a race to get things finished and move down to the Saints, as Colin folks and parents friends John and Chris Little will be
hooking up with us, on monday. Saturday my new Yellow/Orange formica worktops go in, so the kid and I need to be out of the way. So having practised a bit on the dinghy, with beating heart I take the kids and me out of the marinna and down a commercial channel to Pointe a Pitre Market. We selected out veg from the ladies all dressed in **** fabric and then off to the fish stalls for Zinnia to choose dorado, and spotty ray for our supper, not sure she is at the vegetarian stage yet. With all our bags full we whizzed back to PB, unloaded and then returned for the rest of the market, Lots and lots of drumming sounds, colour, stalls selling lovely beaded stuff, conches being blown and artists painting tee-shirts on the street. I have become overly impressed by the muscles of the local men who play their drums and whether it is the rythmic sound of the drumms I am now alittle mezzmarized.
Back to the boat and the big clean begins, on what seems like the hottest most airless day of our trip a very very long day of arduous cleaning and unpacking in a hurry, this has not been my favourite day so far, it's rather like cleaning up a house after the builders have left having done a
major extention. With works done and funds ever deminishing I will now attempt all the external fabric covers from bimini, dingy cover and BBQ etc it should save us about 3000 euros, and for the time being make my husband please he bought me along for the ride.
To date in retrospect we have totally loved the French Carribean and we would jump at the chance to come back, somehow the fussion for cultures produces a really stronge identity in so many ways Fabric, Food, religion, Music and Language, people here are very proud of there identity from the surface it feels like a very integrated society.