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Anthem Adrift
Friends, an Insidious Influence
06/04/2009, Portsmouth, Dominica

Portsmouth Anchorage

June 4

Slightly choppy close reach using wind vane steering from Les Saintes to Portsmouth, Dominica (Doe-min-E-ka) this morning had anchor buried by 1130. Computer based pre-clearance actually worked, making process at customs a dollar eighty piece of cake.

However and dang! Caught up with numerous cruising friends. Planned to mellow out today for possible excursions beginning tomorrow, but became entrapped in the sticky web of social interaction, lubricated with something called a yellow bird produced, apparently in the gallons, by Melanie on Spectra (big trawler that towed Annie II from Luperon to Boqueron as you may recall). Future plans include movie night of "Captain Ron" (a classic) on same party barge for nine, soon to be ten, boats currently in residence.

Option tomorrow of local bus trip to Roseau (the capitol south end of island) at 0800 or snorkling at 0930. Choice made easier by stinko drunk Kiwis on S/V Cant (really) screaming Maori war chants during intended rejuvenating nap this afternoon and also to previously mentioned refreshment extending to cruiser's midnight.


Au Revoir Iles des Saintes
06/03/2009, Le Bourg, Les Saintes

June 3

Crew earned his keep today, completing all tasks with efficiency and aplomb (not a pre-desiccation prune).

After listening to weather and Coconut Telegraph, dinked into town to find local gendarme who handles customs duties. My end of the entire conversation with him was, "Bon jour, parlez vous Anglais?, oui, pardon, oui, oui, merci". So far, the French have been the easiest check-ins and Americans have been the biggest pricks.

Next, carried aromatic fabric items to laundry lady at Yacht Club des Saintes to be washed, but not dried, by 1600. She wanted to charge 30 Euro for admittedly large sack-o-clothes, but eventually settled for still outrageous 20. Boat currently resembles a low-end thrift shop.

Returned to gendarmerie for clearance papers (in and out) faxed back from Guadeloupe. No charge. Celebrated with cafe au lait, jus d'orange and pastry chocolat (no oeufs) for petite dejeuner after finally finding ATM. They speak only le Francais and take only euro. Le Bourg is very, pardon me for saying so, Sue, quaint.

After breakfast, climbed 300 some feet to Fort Napoleon (named after that short guy who had the little dust-up around the turn of the 18th century with British Admiral Nelson, who died kicking his derriere at Trafalgar) to discover three things: a beautifully maintained fort, an incredible view of the harbor and, after four and a half months on a boat, appalling endurance. Also got a hint why French fare so poorly in armed conflict. Their rifle positions for firing through thick fort walls are constructed backward. A small slit is on the outside with open angled field of fire facing inward. Somebody should have told them.

Second attempt at fixing fresh fish was significant leap forward with help from distaff member of Inspiration Lady crew. This possibly due to improved cleaning technique and species more amenable to fine dining.


Bloody Good Show
06/02/2009, Le Bourg, Les Saintes


June 2

Dive at Pigeon Island much better than initial impression. Shallow areas just rocks, but hard coral, fish and turtles were revealed deeper. Abandoned Jacksters, enjoying additional dives there, to motorsail four hours to Le Bourg, Les Saintes, still flying quarantine flag. Immediate activity after setting hook was repairing to Inspiration Lady for appropriate celebration of... ummm, Whittuesday with five other boats. Most will leave AM. Could clear in and out tomorrow, have laundry done and climb mountain to Ft. Napoleon or could just sleep in until next happy hour. Slight lean toward that first thing due bouquet emanating from laundry bag, current repository of virtually all attire.

Laundry lady at Yacht Club des Saintes washes, but doesn't dry. No problem as everything gets wet immediately anyway. Despite angst concerning both, oil change and fuel can wait until Martinique. Being familiar, from a previous visit, with boudin creole, a favorite of Pat Barth, there is little reason to dawdle in these island, lovely as they are. The unexplored wilds of Dominica call, "Jacque, Jacque (int'l border), Jack, Jack".

Headline News tomorrow: "Mighty hunter and slayer of fish triumphs over pelagic denizen while transiting channel from Basse Terre to Le Bourg. Hundreds spared from ignominy of hamburgers and goat." Slightly exaggerated heft of recently expired creature to be blamed on irresponsible media. Current thinking assumes the fearsome big-eyed tuna as he's a tuna looking fellow with really big eyes. Extraneous information: Cheap gin has expected salutary effect on annoyed incipient dinner.


Second Offense
06/01/2009, Anse Malendure, Guadeloupe

June 1

Two great days of sailing, coincidence or a trend? I'm going with that second thing. Initial light ENE wind raised specter of bobbing into Guadeloupe at midnight, but it veered and filled with a comfortable quartering two to five foot sea. Love the places visited, love the people met (cruisers and locals), but sailing is the essence of the deal and this is how it should be. Arrived at Pigeon Island just after 1500.

Plan dive at the Cousteau Underwater Park AM with David and Jackie, then sail to Les Saintes PM. They're big into diving and Jackster has a compressor to refill tanks. Cool!

Beers ashore without clearing in extends crime spree to two. Customs people are enjoying righteousness with everyone else on Whitmonday so official entry into France (all French Antilles are regions of the mother country) will occur tomorrow (assuming arrival Saints on time). After receiving our three beer order, discovered that bar only takes Euros and we had none (not quite true as I had a grossly insufficient 40 centimes). No one spoke English... at all. After watching libation go warm and flat (less a problem than might be expected because friends are British and I like their beer), bartender returned with change from $20 at unsympathetic exchange rate. Had a cracking good time regardless.


It's Grand
05/31/2009, Falmouth Harbour, Antigua

Pillars of Hercules

May 31

It's sometimes easy to get caught up in the logistics of moving a boat from place to place under varying conditions, getting fuel, washing laundry, finding the best bar in all the Caribbean, that the esthetic gets lost. All five senses are constantly being caressed or pummeled to produce an experience that is sometimes good, sometimes good in retrospect, but always an important part of making this the grand adventure that it is.

After winding through Little Bird Island Channel into open water at 1000, an ENE wind allowed sailing from close reach to broad, then jibe to broad all the way to English Harbour in 12 - 17 knots and easy 4 foot swell. A good experience. Anchored in Falmouth Harbour after motoring in and out of English Harbour between the Pillars of Hercules and Fort Berkeley, then past Nelson's Dockyard. (Nelson, who served here in his twenties from 1784 to 1787, hated the place.)

Can't get fuel or laundry done today or tomorrow (*Alert! The following may be offensive* Whitsunday is a religious event. Is Whitmonday a fabrication to allow people to feel pious screwing off?), so decided to pack it in and head to Guadeloupe as conditions are forecast to become more challenging as the week progresses. Rushed to arrive at customs and immigration with 53 seconds to spare. Departure tax and harbour fee $9.

Ate cheap dinner at Nelson's Dockyard fishing tournament party then came home, showered and went to bed (this remains an assumption) in anticipation of 0500 departure for someplace French.


Too Slack to Dress Up
05/30/2009, Jumby Bay, Antigua

Jumby Bay

May 30

Because of a desire to see the north side of Antigua and not short tack through narrow channels to get there, left mainsail covered and motored around to reef- formed North Sound with dinghy in tow. Surprised to find significant development all the way. Able to get wifi periodically while motoring by resorts. Occasionally checked for traffic, reefs, islands, etc. to avoid.

Long Island is a private resort with, as the cruising guide says, an "exquisite anchorage" off Jumby Bay - palm-lined, crescent beach with surrounding reefs. Visiting yachts may dine at the restaurant with several hour advance notice if there is enough room. Slacks and sport shirts are minimum dress with jackets, presumably, preferred. Maybe next time or the time after that.

Tomorrow's adventure is escaping the sound by way of a narrow winding channel through protective reef while facing into morning sunlight. Famous English Harbour and Nelson's Dockyard await end of 18 NM sail. Have waited 15 or so years to get here since aborted attempt (no wind) to sail charter boat from Guadeloupe. This is a major Caribbean sailing hub and home to Antigua Race Week every year in April.

"Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live." - Oscar Wilde


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