Sunday 20th February 2011
Distance run: 24 nautical miles
Although it was only a short distance to Les Saintes, we were on our way soon after 0800. We had the best conditions we have had since arriving in the Caribbean - kind seas, wind of 10-15 knots on the beam - and we had a fantastic sail all the way to this little group of islands just a few miles south of Guadeloupe. We were sailing so well that we decided not to change course to go through the usual South West passage into the islands but to come through a much narrower and shallower gap which was dead ahead. It was no trouble at all picking out the rocks and the breaking water over the shoals, but what we hadn't thought about was the fishing marks which often accompany shallower water. So we ended up doing a slalom course through this narrow gap to avoid them, which certainly kept us on our toes, but in the benign conditions gave us no problems or worries. (For our non-sailing friends, the fishing marks are usually empty Coke bottles which float on the surface and are tied to a rope that is tied at the other end to a lobster pot on the sea floor or a fishing net which is drawn between two (and often more) of these marks. They pose a problem because if you go over them they wind themselves around the boat's propellor and stop it from turning! The only way to get them off is to dive down with a knife and cut them off.)
By midday we were anchored in a pretty little anchorage in Bourg des Saintes, a little town on Terre d'en Haut, one of the bigger islands of the group. From the boat we can see several of the other islands as well as Guadeloupe just a few miles off.
We spotted Nimue immediately we entered the anchorage - the Contest shape is easy for us to pick out now, and it was good to meet up with Anne & Michael and catch up on their news. We last saw them in Lanzarote. They kindly ran us ashore to check in, and whilst doing so bumped into some other friends, so arrangements were made to meet up for drinks that evening. A very enjoyable evening ensued during which we met Jonas and Heather from Sea Otter and Rick and Lucy from Flying Cloud.
Yesterday we were up at 0645 to move out of the way of another boat which was leaving but whose anchor chain was underneath us, but it was generally a lazy day when we went ashore to have a wander around the little town which has a laid back holiday village type feel to it and is full of scooters which seem to be the preferred mode of transport here. Several ferries a day arrive from Guadeloupe and disgorge their passengers for a few hours wandering through the streets and browsing in the souvenir shops before tooting their horns to call them back onboard and take them back from whence they came.
In the evening we were invited onboard Sea Otter for a barbecue, together with Anne & Michael from Nimue and it was the first time I have seen a dog dressed in pyjamas! Heather and Jonas have a hairless dog called Stormy, and because she is hairless she gets cold much as we do if we are naked. So in the evening when it gets cooler, she wears her pyjamas to keep warm. I wish I'd had my camera with me!
The weather has continued to be very calm with light airs and it has been a treat to be able to put up the boom tent to keep the sun off. Long may it last...