The Saintes to Antigua

Tue 21 Mar 2006 01:42
We are are tied up in Nelson's Dockyard in English Harbour, Antigua.   It was Britain's main naval station in the Caribbean in the 18th Century and restored fifty years ago.  We are moored stern to just under the old Officers' Quarters.  The children are enjoying having the run of their own museum.
We arrived two days ago after a forty mile sail from Guadeloupe with Keoma and Blase.  We saw a whale, we think it was a hump back, but it was a distance from us.  First we saw the spouts and the splashes as it played in the water then it's huge tail lifted right out a couple of times.    The weather has been getting better but it was still a bit gusty, we were hit by quite a nasty squall, 9 to 34 knots in less 30 seconds.  We still had full sail up so it was a bit exciting for a few minutes as we wrestled to pull a bit in, it's the first time we've put the gib in the water !
Yesterday was Alice on Keoma's birthday, so there was a big effort for lots of people to get here.  Koshlong and Regina arrived in the afternoon, and Coconut and Wild Alliance are anchored round the corner in Falmouth Bay.  Aromatic, a boat  with three girls on board we met in Grenada, were already here.  So 17 children had a wonderful time  chasing round the dockyard on a treasure hunt organised by Juliet on Keoma, followed by "stuck in the mud",  cake and dinghy wars. We all slept well.
We spent most of last week in Guadeloupe, anchored in Deshaies in the north of the islands.    It's a charming little town with all the luxuries of the French islands, boulangerie, restaurants and half an hour from the Carrefour supermarket for wine and cheese.  The bay was full of turtles feeding on the weedy bottom.  The water was noticeably colder,  we're hoping that's just because the weather's not been as hot as we're used to rather than evidence that we're moving north (we have just crossed into 17 degrees).  
We left Dominica on the 10th March for the Saintes.  These are a small group of islands south of Guadeloupe and very much a French holiday spot.  The day trippers arrive every morning on the big catamarans and run the gauntlet of traders on the dock, by evening the streets are quiet.  
Tamarisk and Blase outside the very French town hall.
We walked up to an old fort on one of the hills overlooking a couple of bays,  there was a musty collection of maritime artefacts and lots of huge iguanas.  
We didn't want to get too close !!
When we weren't watching out for iguanas...the views were fantastic..
We did have our worst weather here every so often, it tipped down with monsoon like rain again and again for three or four days.   It reminided us of how important the hot and dry weather is to keeping sane onboard.  We and the boat started to smell a bit like a damp dog, but at least we got our fresh water showers.   
Oli and Eddie taking full advantage of a downpour.   Anna still prefers to take her daily dip in the sea...
Fuel and water had been on a bit of ration since we left Martinique as we found no supplies of either.   We spent a couple of hours hiking over a headland to find petrol one afternoon when we realised we had a mile or so to go and there was a high chance it was closed we turned back empty handed.  I will remember this when people ask us what we do all day.      
Our plan now is to stay in Antigua for at least a week, we'll probably move round to Falmouth Harbour soon.  After Antigua it'll be St Kitts and Nevis, Tim is foolishly keen on the annual swim between the islands which happens in 10 days or so.