Pointe a Pitra, Guadeloupe and Sunken Treasure
Sunday and Monday 15th & 16th Jan
Sunday was spent on board doing the washing and getting a few jobs done. We had sort of been planning to move on, but we are so well dug in and everything is so relaxed here that we decided to stay on.
Apart from the frequent rain showers which caused flurries of feverish activity around the bay as we all scrambled to take in the washing, the day slipped by almost without incident. However, rather sadly I managed to lose a winch handle over the side into 10 metres of water which is too deep for my delicate ears to dive down to. It was just as it got dark so we could do nothing but see if we could find anyone willing to have a go first thing in the morning.
The Sunday big event (well the week’s really) is the beach party and BBQ organised by the Boat Boys partially as a great social event and partially as a fund raiser for their activities. David and Lyn kindly gave us a lift ashore as we had already stored our dinghy on deck ready for the passage north and we had a wonderful evening enjoying some great food (chicken or fish again) and probably too much rum punch. Dancing was also on the menu and we did our best to get things going but most folk seemed a bit reluctant to make fools of themselves in front of the small crowd of locals who were gathered around the area watching. They were all moving with the beat, but we assume that they are not supposed to get involved because despite encouragement from the ‘yachties’ to get them all dancing as well, they mainly remained as spectators.
The Boat Boys here in Dominica are very well organised and trained. They formed a cooperative some years ago after spending so much time as elsewhere, bickering and fighting amongst themselves whilst competing for the same business from the visiting yachts. Now they work as a team with duty rotas and for example, provide (free of charge) a boat patrol all night to protect the anchorage from nocturnal visitors….. They undergo Tourist Board training, even including basic first aid, as do all the taxi drivers on the island (two weeks per annum) and make it their business to ensure that the visiting yachts enjoy the full benefits of their stay in this poor but very fertile country. The BBQ & dance took place in a large new covered area on the beach and we gather that this time last year it was just a wooden structure, but it had no roof. A Canadian boater on being asked why it still had no roof was told that they simply could not afford it, so he gave them the money himself immediately and by the end of the week the roof was on!
Monday dawned fairly windless for a change, but still heavily overcast which is just something you have to accept about Dominica. I understand that Feb – April is their dry (less wet) season.
We headed off around 9.30am leaving our winch handle on the sea bed, so anyone following us could use the position we registered in the previous blog and dive thereabouts and see how they get on.
The sail across to Guadeloupe was very lively, partly because we probably had too much sail out! The wind was around 20 to 25 knots from the north east which at least allowed us to lay a course direct to Point à Pitre. In fact whilst it might seem a bit odd to sail here and then return to the Saintes later in the week, it actually makes good sense, as sailing from the Saintes to Point à Pitre is directly upwind which might explain why comparatively few yachts ever bother. So despite having to beat all the way, we made very good time covering the 41 miles mostly at 6 and 7 knots. The upside of staying in Dominica for a while is that the boat gets a wonderful fresh water clean every few hours, but sadly all that was soon undone as we pounded into the Atlantic waves again and Serafina arrived in Guadeloupe once more caked in salt.
Pointe à Pitre is a proper port, but is also a very large but very shallow inland area so there are quite a few sheltered anchorages available although their peace is occasionally disturbed by ferries, cargo ships and the odd cruise liner! We anchored on the town side of the estuary not far from the entrance to the marina and will see how this works out.
No wildlife seen on the way over, which reminds me that I failed to mention the other day the 50 odd Fraser’s dolphins that joined us briefly on our way across from Martinique to Dominique.
Greasing the pole…… We have struggled since buying Serafina with making the cockpit table easier to use. The shaft which the table assembly slides up and down, steadfastly refused to work despite us trying all manner of applications. The outstanding solution has been to sparingly apply ‘Tony & Guy’s Defining hair wax’ and many thanks to Sue on Halsway Grace for both the idea and loan of her pot!