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Date: 10 Feb 2011 04:04:00
Title: Andrea's birthday with a shark

Anse du Grande Colombier, St Barths, Wednesday night

A full-on day of celebrations today. We've only just got back to our bay and it's 10:30pm and we've been on the go all day.

After a cup of tea in bed, we got up for Andrea's choice of breakfast - soft-poached eggs on toast. Then we had the grand present opening. Kali got Andrea a bottle of posh Champagne and some Panettone, her favourite cake. I also got her some Champagne, a bottle of Cristal and a half-bottle of Bollinger so she can get a bit tipsy or totally drunk, whichever she likes. I also got her a Panettone and a new snorkel, some nail varnish, some honey, some cherry jam and a new shirt so she had a big old pile on the cockpit table by the time she'd finished.

Then it was time for a birthday snorkel so we took the tender over to the rocks at the North side of the bay, dropped the anchor and got ourselves ready. Andrea looked up and noticed that we were very close to the shoreline and that there didn't seem to be any weight on the anchor line. No wonder as there wasn't an anchor on it! Back to Saxon Blue to get Kali to drive the tender while I swam around and eventually spotted the anchor and chain on the seabed. When I dived down to it, there was the shackle still attached to the chain with the pin lying in the sand by the side. I retrieved that lot and we reassembled our anchor warp.

We sent Kali back to Saxon Blue with the tender and I carried on snorkelling along the coast with Andrea. The fish were amazing, swimming among the boulders. There were some big lumps of brain coral, too. Rather than get Kali to collect us, we swam back to the boat which was amazing as Andrea didn't like swimming out of her depth a fortnight ago and here she was heading out across the anchorage. The reward came as we were getting ready to climb aboard. I looked below and spotted a shark swimming below us. He must have been about 4 feet long so a nice fish. I just said "big fish, look down" to Andrea who got a good look at him as he swam along the sand beneath us. It was only later that she realised it was a shark.

Then it was birthday lunch time, more eggs - this time in a salad with loads of other lovely stuff. No time for a nap, though, as Andrea wanted to walk around the coastal path to the nearby village of Colombier. The walk was lovely but very hot and we were glad to find a tiny bar open so we could get a drink. The village is so French. Mostly small houses but a surprising number of English cars - Minis and Land Rovers. The walk back was even hotter and then it was time to decide which dinner option to go for. Andrea had made a reservation at Maya's, the island's best restaurant which is in the bay just North of Gustavia. To get there, we could move Saxon Blue around to Gustavia and anchor or go ashore in the bay, walk and take a taxi. We opted to go around in Saxon Blue so we set off as soon as Andrea had finished painting her nails.

We found a good place to anchor and tendered in to the dock in Gustavia, hoping to be able to clear out of Customs for tomorrow but they were closed. We did have time to pick up a bunch of birthday emails for Andrea and then back in the tender and around to the next bay where the restaurant is located. When we walked in, the waiter asked if we'd come down from the mountains as we were carrying so much stuff. Waterproofs, bags, hats etc. The restaurant was lovely. Right by the beach and, although that area of the island is industrial-looking during the day, at night it's much calmer than downtown Gustavia. The food was great - far and away the best we've had in the Caribbean. We even got to meet Maya herself who had lived on a boat for seven years with her partner who had lived on it for twenty-five. The restaurant was full by the time we left and the prices were high so that's a very good little business.

Then it was a walk along the sandy beach, into the tender and head out to try to find Saxon Blue in a forest of masthead anchor lights. In fact, it looked like a city had been planted in the sea. There must have been a hundred yachts with lights on and, outside them, all the massive private mega-yachts and a couple of small cruise ships. The big sailing yachts had their masts illuminated all the way up which is a bit bling but looks very pretty. We'd shared our bay with a lovely Perini Navi ketch called Klosters all day and she was sitting there lit up like a Christmas tree. We passed the 400 foot yacht Kataya which had her entire hull illuminated along with the sea for hundreds of meters all around, all in brilliant blue.

Once we found Saxon Blue (thanks to her high and low anchor lights, she's fairly easy to spot), we had to get the tender into the davits, get our anchor up and head back for our little bay. It's always a bit stressful meneuvering around other boats in the dark and made even more so by our starboard navigation light deciding to stop working AGAIN. Honestly, these Lopolights are the biggest load of rubbish I've ever come across. How they're still in business is a mystery to me as they've replaced virtually every light we have at least once and then given us spares to carry because they're so likely to break again. Anyway, we soon found our way back home, spotted a spare mooring buoy and, on the second attempt, managed to pick it up. I missed it first time around as I couldn't see it behind Andrea's legs.

So here we are again. It's blowing hard as usual but the waves are small and so we should be able to sleep soundly. We've got an early start tomorrow as we're going to continue our journey towards Angigua but we're going to break it up into bite-size chunks so we'll only go as far as St Kitts to start with. That's the plan anyway.

Harvey

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