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Date: 17 Jan 2011 02:59:00
Title: Still off Saba

Sunday night

After a long day, we're about 100 meters North of where we started although we had some fun on the way.

We set off this morning to go around to Fort Bay on the South West tip of Saba to clear in with the Customs there. As soon as we got around the corner, though, it was clear that there was a lot of sea running in 25-30 knots of wind. The tiny breakwater wasn't going to provide us with any shelter and, in fact, was downwind of where we were supposed to anchor so it made the whole thing downright dangerous. I couldn't see any need to risk our safety for the sake of some formalities so we radioed the Harbour Master and told them that we were heading back to Stair Bay to pick up a mooring.

They didn't seem too bothered so we turned around with the usual effect that it suddenly seemed all calm and peaceful. By this time, it was raining hard so Andrea and I were kitted out in our new lightweight waterpoof jackets. All very spiffing but I got a really wet bum. As we turned tail, we could see a strange silhouette come around the headland behind us. At first, I took it to be the Coastguard ship but it looked more like a First World War battleship. Then I remembered reading an article about a crazy motor-yacht designed around military wave-piercing technology, I think she was designed by Phillipe Starck. A little later, we got a good look at her and it was that yacht, called A. She has a long, sleek hull with a mound of superstructure right aft but her most distinctive feature is a reverse bow so it's further forward at the waterline than it is higher up. Quite some piece of kit!

Anyway, we went back and picked up the buoy we'd spent the night on and had some lunch. It was too hot after lunch to do much so we chatted about our options for exploring Saba. Andrea really wants to go ashore and explore and it sounds great from the guidebook but there's no obvious safe way of getting there and nowhere we can really leave Saxon Blue while we look around. We decided in the end that we'd head over to St Eustatius, the next island down, where there's a better anchorage and we can come back by ferry and spend a few days in a hotel or something.

I went for a swim to cool down and then Kali suggested that we go out in the tender to snorkel on some of the rocks nearby. We had a good trip over to the rocky pinnacles on the North West tip of Saba where it started to pour down with rain. Andrea didn't fancy sitting in that while we swam so we dropped her back onboard Saxon Blue while Kali and I went exploring. It was the first time I'd snorkelled on rocks and it was incredible. The best bits were pretty shallow - sometimes only a couple of feet down - and they were teeming with brightly coloured fish. The blue ones were particularly stunning. Big ones chased little ones around gardens of waving fronds. I know it's all on The Blue Planet but it was amazing to actually be swimming in amongst them all.

In fact, it was so amazing that we stayed a bit too long and I was starting to lose my heat by the time we got back on the tender and then over to Saxon Blue. I had a hot shower but then had to wear a jacket until I'd warmed up properly and my heart rate had returned to normal. A lovely hot dinner helped and we were all sitting in the cockpit chatting afterwards when there was a quiet thud and we started to turn side-on to the swell. Kali and I had rigged our kedge anchor out the stern in the morning so we knew that we couldn't turn around. It was clear that one of our lines had parted and we soon found out that it was the pick-up line on the mooring buoy holding our bow.

We were now being held by our kedge out the stern so we started the engine, rigged the kedge rode onto the primary genoa winch and hauled it in until we had the anchor back onboard and could maneuver properly again. We decided that the easiest course was to pick up the next mooring in the row so we did that. It's never easy in the dark but the team worked well and we soon had ourselves lashed to that buoy with several of our own lines. We've got our anchor alarm on so we'll get a warning if this mooring breaks. It just goes to show that you can't trust the moorings that other people put down - it's OK here as there is plenty of room to recover the situation if one gives way but, in a tight place, you're often better off lying to your own ground tackle.

After all that excitement, it was time for some Battlestar action, then a quick chat to confirm that we're going to try to clear in and out of Saba first thing and then head to the next island for, hopefully, a more tenable anchorage with some prospect of getting ashore with dry clothes. We'll see. In the meantime, it's going to be another rolly night.

Harvey

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