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Date: 10 Mar 2011 00:13:00
Title: Back in the Saintes

15:52.497N 61:35.863W Bay Sous Le Vent, Iles des Saintes, Wednesday night

We had a great day today - just like in the brochure.

I got up at 6am to get ready for SeaBird to arrive at 7am for our tour up the Indian River. Trouble was, what with the carnival and everything kicking off, we hadn't actually been able to talk directly to Jeffrey to confirm that he was coming. Various people had promised to ring him but we weren't sure if they'd succeeded. Anyway, 7am came and went with no Jeffrey. We tried hailing him on the VHF and got hold of some of the other boat guys but they couldn't sort it out. Eventually, as it got to 8am, we gave up and got hold of Martin (Providence) who agreed to give us a tour so we set off with him. We were an hour later than we hoped but at least I'd had time for some breakfast so not a total loss.

Once we got into the river and past the wrecked ship, Andrea got into her Janeway costume while Kali sat at the stern next to me. I had the video camera on its tripod looking forward at Andrea and the river ahead of her. Martin sat behind us rowing. He was really good and did exactly what we asked which was basically to not say anything. He didn't look even slightly surprised at the camera and the fact that Andrea was sitting in the sun in thermal underwear slowly melting. The lighting was very difficult as the sun would be either behind the foliage so it was dark and then it would burst through and bleach everything out so I was having a pretty stressful time but it looks as though the pictures are OK. We saw some lovely birds again and one heron in particular just stood on a branch looking down at us as we passed beneath.

Martin even went off into the forest and returned with a coconut which he opened for us. We all really like his professional attitude although I think all the boat guys at Portsmouth are sensible and reliable. When we got back onboard Saxon Blue, Andrew, the other SeaBird came over and we told him we wanted to settle up for the earlier trips. He tried to contact Jeffrey and got some random person who had found Jeffrey's phone on the beach and gone off to Roseau with it so no wonder that nobody had managed to get hold of him. We sorted out how much we owed and gave him a good tip and a T-shirt for both of them. He was really pleased with the shirt and gave Andrea the "heartfelt thanks" sign which pleased her no end. It's often hard to know if you've done the right thing in another culture and the guys in the Caribbean are very hard to read so it's great to be really sure that you've pitched it correctly.

It was now a bit later than we'd hoped but we dropped the mooring and headed off out of Portsmouth. We were all sad to leave Dominica and it's certainly the place that all three of us are most keen to come back to. We ate our sandwiches as we motored around the headland in the knowledge that it would all start kicking up soon and it would be hard to eat. Initially, the wind was getting funneled around the northern end of Dominica so we were hard on a starboard tack with the full main and jib out. As we cleared the land, the wind veered a bit and dropped down to around 15 knots so we were able to get the full genoa out and free the sheets a bit. We stayed like that for pretty well the whole crossing, doing between 7.5 and 8 knots in gentle swell and brilliant sunshine so it was exactly what everyone says Caribbean sailing is like.

We chatted away about boats and what we're all going to do next while Andrea did some more filming. It was unusually clear all day so we had been able to see the Saintes and Guadeloupe behind them clearly ever since we'd rounded the headland outside Portsmouth. It only took us a couple of hours until we shot through the narrow Pass de Dames between two outlying islands and then we were in the shelter of the Saintes. We could have carried on sailing but Andrea wanted to have another got at getting a video of the Pain de Sucre so we pottered slowly along while she got ready and then did a pass with the camera rolling. I wasn't totally happy with the shot so we went back and did it again with a better result.

While we'd been doing all this driving up and down, we'd been able to see that the anchorage behind the Pain de Sucre was rammed with yachts. Our favourite one over on the island looked clearer so we headed over there to find that there were two rafts of motor boats occupying most of the beach and a couple of other boats parked up. It wasn't completely safe to go stern-to so we dropped the anchor off the shore a bit further and had a second lunch. Andrea and I then set off in the tender for a snorkel along the rocks which were as spectacular as ever. On the way back to Saxon Blue, we went to look more closely at the situation along the beach and found that one of the motorboat rafts had gone.

That was good enough for us so we got back onboard, rounded up Kali, got the anchor up, reversed in through the anchored yachts, Andrea dropped the anchor again and fed it out expertly while Kali shot off in the tender with our shoreline and we were all settled in double-quick time. Then we got a shower, did some washing and just time to have a drink watching the sun set before Kali delivered another culinary triumph - a veggie curry using some of the coconut which Martin had found for us in the morning.

We're now just digesting while I write this and the generator is running to charge the batteries. The tree frogs are singing away outside and we're close enough to the beach for them to be pretty loud. I don't think it'll be a late night and we only have a short journey tomorrow so we can even have a lie-in. Kali has threatened to do a Pain-au-chocolat run in the tender over to Terre de Haut first thing in the morning so we could have a fine breakfast. Lovely.

Harvey

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