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Date: 01 Mar 2011 01:49:00
Title: Anchor up, anchor down

15:51.814N 061:35.986W Pain de Sucre, Iles Des Saintes, Monday night

We've anchored in five different spots today which must be some kind of a record, even for us. We got up early as we wanted to get over to the main town and anchor up so we could go ashore and get up to Fort Napoleon before it closed at 12:30. Kali went ashore in the tender to release us from our tree while Andrea got our anchor up. We passed Mirador and said cheerio to Todd and Robin and then headed over to the main anchorage, carefully avoiding the shoal patch in the middle of the channel. We had a poke around looking for a space to anchor in good shelter but it was early and nobody had left yet so there wasn't much room.

In the end, we dropped our anchor near some other boats in the shelter of a small bay but the wind was both strong and flukey so we were getting blown around all over the place and at times we were far too close to the others. We pulled the anchor up and had another go a fair way out from the town but at least we had room to yaw around. Andrea got all her filming gear together and Kali delivered us over to a dinghy dock without us getting wet so that was a good start. It turned out that the dock belonged to a restaurant which Andrea and Kali wanted to eat at and the only way off the dock was through the dining terrace.

Having made it to the street, we were directing some French people to the Fort when the owner of the restaurant came up to us and started having a go at us for using his dock when he was closed. Andrea pointed out that we were intending to come back at lunchtime but he announced that they were closed all day. I just said "sorry" and left it at that. He didn't look very happy but, short of throwing us back into the sea, there wasn't a lot he could do. Good way to get people to not come back and eat with you, though.

The walk up to the Fort was hot and it became increasingly clear that our plan of going on a Monday when it would be quiet was way wide of the mark. Everyone and his mate was on their way up the hill. When we arrived at the entrance, we tried to work out a good shot of the walls but it was impossible. For a while, it looked as though carrying all the gear had been a waste of time but we went into the Fort itself and got a shot of Andrea as Janeway with some cacti so, hopefully, it was all worthwhile. We did have a good look at another iguana while we were there so that was a bonus.

When we got back down to town, it was empty - everyone was up at Fort Napoleon. We found a nice cafe right by the water and ordered our lunch. It was just OK which is disappointing for French food and, in fact, we haven't found the food that great on Iles Des Saintes. We then went off to get a smoothie from another cafe and found Kali who had fallen foul of that old French trick of closing all the shops just as you want to go in and buy something. We had our drink and then got back in the tender and back out to Saxon Blue. Andrea transferred her camera onto the sprayhood poles and got ready to do a shot with the basalt columns of the Pain de Sucre in the background.

As we came around the Pain itself, Kali and I could see three yachts already anchored in the little bay. They were occupying most of the safe anchoring area between them and there was another boat heading our way so we didn't hang around but anchored in the only remaining safe spot. I wasn't very happy with where we were, though, as it was rolly and we were a long way from the beach. The other boat did a couple of desultory circuits and then headed off. Just as he got around the headland, a catamaran which had been anchored right at the head of the bay near the Pain raised his anchor and cleared off. We sprang into action.

Andrea raised the anchor (again) and Kali got the tender ready. We still had our floating line on deck so I did a quick survey of the rocks at the bottom of the basalt cliff and we dropped our anchor (again) and motored backwards towards the headland. Kali went ashore with the line and we were secure between our anchor out ahead and our line tied around a massive boulder behind us with our stern about 50 meters from the shore. We were all too hot by that time so we just got our swimmers on and jumped off the stern. It was one of those vertigo moments for me when I open my eyes under the water and look down at the seabed with no visible means of support. The water is just invisible as it's so clear.

We all swam over to the rocks and found a perfect underwater garden with every kind of fish, coral, sponge and sea urchin. Probably the best snorkelling we've done yet. Kali told me that the Angel Fish are so territorial that they'll square up to a diver so I went down to test the theory and one little fish swam right up to my goggles, giving me the evil eye. He can't have been more than 3 inches long so he was very brave or very foolish, I'm not sure which.

On our way back to Saxon Blue, I spotted a Moray Eel swimming on the bottom so I told Andrea and went down to poke him so she could see him move. He just looked at me and made to bite me if I so much as dared. Frankly, he was braver than I was so I let him alone. They certainly breed brave fish down here. Thank goodness they're mostly small or it would be too dangerous to get into the water. Kali swam over to the hotel at the other end of the bay to see if they were open for dinner and then I dropped her ashore in the tender so she could read her book on the small sandy beach. By the time I fetched her again, it was almost dark and time to get ashore for dinner.

We've just eaten a good meal in a slightly strange place. The hotel is trying to be posh but, in reality, it's just Caribbean scruffy with a few random knobs on. I had to order all the food in my best schoolboy French but we all got what we ordered so it can't have been too bad. We came back in the tender in the dark and it's now really late - about 9:30pm so we won't be up for much longer.

Harvey

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