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Banyan
The Adventures of David & Alexandra
Dancing Boats, Wind Gusts and Patisseries
Alex, hot and gusty windy, with a chance of boat dancing
May 6, 2015 , Deshaies, Guadeloupe

Doesn't this just look like total Mouth Watering Perfection??

****

Sitting in the calm comfort of my cockpit right now, I am enjoying the fresh breeze wafting through the hatches, a glass of ice-cold water by my side, and (believe it or not) pretty decent WiFi to blog.

The view on Banyan's port side is pretty where you can see the cemetery halfway up the hill,



and to my starboard side the mountains rising,



and this is what the Capt'N enjoyed for breakfast,



since we are, after all, in a quiet and sleepy little fishing village on a French island.

Deshaies is surrounded by hills quite deep in a well protected bay. We've been here many times in the last three years and enjoy our stop every time. Mooring balls are still free to use at the moment, with lots of room to anchor BEHIND the mooring ball field There's a great river bed hike. A botanical garden to visit. A few boutiques to shop at. And fresh baguettes and heavenly pastries. Nice.

However. HOWEVER.

If you do your research before coming here you would know that the bay suffers from Swirly Winds (and perhaps even currents?) which usually means give extra room needed between boats !! (Hence the addition of mooring balls perhaps?). And sometimes, when the winds are east, or south of east, they funnel through here like crazy. Like Beyond Crazy. Like Crazy on Steroids.

Which is exactly what happened sometime during the night the other day. The winds started to blow, and then gust, and then scream for a very long time. Cruiser friends reporting in from nearby islands all said that the winds were alarming everywhere. Somehow the weather was having a temper tantrum or something.

So this boat arrives and decides it wants to anchor between us and this cat on our starboard. Which potentially maybe might have been possible if the guy had anchored further up, thus falling not so far back and is now directly on top of both us.

The cat guy comes out, waving his arms and pantomiming that this is not good, that the boat will swing in circles, and that, Voyons Donc, vous-etes fou! You're way too close.



So what does the incoming boat do? Looks at him for a good five minutes. Walks up to the bow and looks at his anchor. Walks Back. And then... and then he goes back to the bow, gets a few fenders out, and proceeds to install them on the Starboard side.

UnBelievable.

When the wind/current swirlies everyone around the boat is now getting dangerously close to us. Dave stares him down, shaking his head. I take his photo. He waves. Better photo-op I guess? Seems he's now satisfied and he turns off his engine. Seriously?

In my best French voice, I go on deck and tell him "Vous ĂȘtes beaucoup trop proche" (You are way too close!!).

He stares at me. For a very long time. I stare back at him. Then I pantomime swirls and say, "Ca bouge trop ici..." at which point he acquiesces and says "Vous avez raison Madame", starts his engine, weighs anchor and goes to the back of the pack to re-anchor.

And then we sit in the calm and peaceful and beautiful bay, watching the sun go down. Watching more boats arrive. Watching them drive through the mooring ball field at full speed, wave at us as we hold our drinks so the wake doesn't spill things over, and then try and anchor between mooring ball boats.

Sometime during the night, as predicted, the wind came up. It started to gust. So much so, it bounced the mooring ball right off our bow. And blew everyone back at 30 knots or more. And it continued to howl, and rage and blow like crazy for the next 24 hours.

And you know it still continues to surprise us, and amaze us, how many boats don't bother with anchor lights.

In the morning, one boat left.



One anchored boat was paying attention and jumped at the empty mooring ball. A second boat figuring they would do the same, weighed anchor and came in. Except there were no empty mooring balls left. So they circled around the bay a few times. Kind of sideways in the 30 plus knot winds.



Then tried to anchor between boats. And dragged. And dragged so far back they snagged the chain of an anchored boat and now they're both dragging. Thankfully they spotted the Oops, somehow unsnagged themselves, with no harm done. Two hours, the boat finally re-anchors. Exactly where he started from.

Conversation heard on the VHF.
"Incoming Boat into Deshaies this is XX"
No response.
"Incoming Boat into Deshaies, trying to anchor behind me, this is XX"
No response.
"Incoming Boat into Deshaies trying to anchor, switch and go to ten".
No response.
No response on one zero either.
"Incoming Boat, I've been dragging for half the night, and all day now, you might not want to anchor behind me".



There are just too many things wrongs with this entire conversation, wouldn't you agree?

And sometime during the night, the winds died. Which meant, of course, that now we swirled around and the mooring ball started to bang Banyan's hull.

Knock-bang, knock-bang, knock-bang.

Wake up!!

Which Dave did, and got up, and tightly rigged the lines back on the bow. No more knocking. He was pleased to note that the one boat that was anchored behind us, that he was worried about should the winds stop, is Way.Over.There. Not a worry at all.

And the boat that came in way after sunset last night, and anchored way at the back of the bay, WAY BEHIND US and not a concern at all? Had suddenly become a Huge Concern. How much chain did the guy put out?? HOLY CRAP?

We swirlied away. We swirled right close. We drifted side by side. We drifted far away. They reached close, as we tangoed away. And then side-by-side only two steps back. Cha-cha-cha.

Over there, the boat that we had been worried about was now coming precariously close to someone else,



and then they started The Dance.



A few hours later, Dave is trying to get some sleep and I'm out watching.



Ok, taking photos. But it's a beautiful morning, isn't it?

Oh look, the boat is back to dance with us again. We're side by side as the guy comes out and raises his arms in a good morning world type of stretch. Only to find me waving at him, so he peers at me. Which is when I told him he was getting way too close. And he waved and disappeared below.



He must have sent his wife up. She looked at me, looked at her boat, and promptly sat down in the cockpit with her head down tap-tapping at her phone. Her little boy came out, steps down on the transom, and proceeds to pee over the side and quite probably on our bow, as they had by that time swung directly in front of us again.

The wife finally looked up from her phone as we must have cast a shadow on her screen or something. She jumped up, in a panic now. The kid rushed below waving his arms, and the father emerges to see what all the brou-ha-ha is about.

A few moments later they got themselves sorted and they moved. Nom de Dieu.

Perhaps it's time for that pastry?? These sleepless nights are getting to us, so perhaps an afternoon siesta is in order. After all, when in France...

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May 8, 2015 | Sheryl and Paul Shard
Great blog, Alex! We too love stopping at Deshaies but have experienced several evenings such as you describe so well :-)
Passaging and passaging.
Alex, hot with a chance of blogging
May 3, 2015 , Deshaies, Guadeloupe

From the last time I blogged, to today we've dropped our anchor in quite a few different places.

****

275.7 nautical miles.
Doesn't really sound like all that much, does it?

46.5 hours.
That doesn't really sound like all that much either, right??

And Almost (cough cough) 4 weeks since my last blog post. Which sounds like A. Very. Long. Time.

Time really does fly when you're having fun. Eating Chicken Wings at the SPN Sports Bar Watching the good ole Hockey Game PlayOffs. Or working at Boat Chores. Or shopping for Boat Stuff. Or enjoying Margaritas at JimBo's. Or passaging.

Four weeks of No Blogs amounted to a helluva lot of Stuff Getting Done, as well as sailing passages that all combined totaled 275.7 nautical miles in 46.5 hours. Phew. Here's how...

It was just around supper time when we weighed anchor and left Eustatia Sound (Virgin Gorda) for an overnight sail across the Anegada Passage to Sint Maarten.

97.4 nautical miles in 16 hours with most of it being a total OMGada passage, with yours truly laying down in total nauseous state and the quite spectacular Capt'N on watch for a very long time.

We made it with a few extra minutes to spare before the 09:30 inbound bridge opening and we spent the extra time circling the Mega Yacht, Le Grand Bleu, anchored just outside.



On deck they have not only a sailboat that is almost TWICE our size, but a motor-yacht that is also larger than Banyan...

"I mean, really" I imagined quite incredulously, "the boat itself is opulent luxury, and on top of that you get to choose whether you want to go for a sail or a powerboat ride..."

Dave didn't respond. I think he was already helming the helicopter that apparently sits on on the Heli-Pad, right behind the sailboat and the motor-yacht.

Once inside the Lagoon we anchored and then we slept, and when we woke up, we made sure we weren't telling Banyan that she was in a Shopping Zone.

Or maybe we just placated her by getting a total rig check,



which resulted in No News, which is, really, Very Good News.

And then we shopped. We got a few more spare parts, and a few more items for the galley cupboards, which always requires some cleaning and re-organizing as you put the new stuff away. And then siesta time was followed by some afternoon craft-work.



But best of all, we cherished the evening Happy Hour get-togethers.

We finally got to meet up with friends Paul and Sheryl (SV Distant Shores) whom we hadn't seen in a Very Long Time,



chatting the evening away.

We had two sets of friends arriving to Sint Maarten as part of their cruise ship stops, one on Friday, and one on Saturday.

So we opted to take Banyan out of Simpson Bay Lagoon, engage the watermarker in clean and clear waters while en route to Phillipsburg, where we spent a really rolly night.

The next morning Dave nudges me awake
"You'll never guess" he laughed.
"Hmm...??" I cranked, as since I hadn't really slept all night, he hadn't really woken me up, and well, I really was trying to sleep,

"Both our friends are here today!!??" he exclaimed. I needed proof positive and when I looked out my port side window, sure enough, I saw both cruise ships berthed alongside.

Which woke me up some fast as that meant that we had to seriously change some plans. The good news was we got off the very rolly boat in less than 30 minutes. After coffee, of course.

We had to intercept one set of friends, and meet up with the other set of friends and somehow The Universe was watching over us that day because what a great reunion. What a great day!!

Behind the scenes there were plans being made, the Calendar was showing signs of wanting to flip yet another month over, and we were starting to watch the weather in order to start passaging South.

"If you want a comfortable ride, with time to get things done, and some R&R in between, I-thinks it's time to go" said the Capt'N showing me WindGURU and PassageWeather. I agreed and one final listen to Chris Parker had us finalizing our last-minute chores.

We picked up our clean laundry, got some more provisions, topped up our Diesel jerry jugs, and said our good-bye's. Just as we were weighing anchor, who do we see? Friends had used the same weather window to passage their way South and were incoming !! That's another get-together we're going to miss. Le Sigh.

And that's sometimes the hardest part of this lifestyle. Tearing yourself away from the friends and the good times. Dave and I are both quite independent cruisers, some even say we have Itchy Feet, and truth be told, we do. Despite all that it's always hard to leave...

20 nautical miles in 4 hours later, after a nice leisurely sail, we're on a mooring ball in Anse Colombier, St-Bart's. Shortly after arriving,I couldn't help myself but to jump in the clear waters of the bay. Only to jump back out within minutes having gotten, once again, stung by some jelly-fish relative that left me with red itchy stinging welts on my face, feet and you guessed it... right on the still recovering Margarita Dermatitis Hands. Damn but that hurt!!

To make things better, Dave pointed out the beauty of the starry night as we feasted on a real Surf N Turf type of meal. Steaks on the BB, Shrimp and Ceasar Salad. And a glass of red, of course. Cheers and Happy ZZZ's.

The next morning we passaged another 57.6 nautical miles in 10 hours. With only 1 tack later we were anchored in the crystal clear waters of Oualie Bay, Nevis.



And then, the next morning 44.3 nautical miles in 7.5 hours and another tremendously beautiful sail,



and we're anchored in one of our favourite stops, Hermitage Bay, Antigua.



Where the following morning has us taking Banyan right on the Customs Dock in Jolly Harbour (fenders and lines port side, please and thanks!)



and then since we had all the fenders and lines out for dockage procedures we analyzed that we might as well go to the fuel dock now and fill 'er up so we wouldn't have to do it later.

"Fenders and Lines, starboard side" says the Capt'N.
"Sure" I says.

"Oh shit" says the Capt'N.
"What?"

"There's someone on the fuel dock! We'll have to go the other way. Which means the fenders have to go back on the port side, we'll come on the other side".

My turn to say Oh Shit as I clamber out of the cockpit. Again.

"But wait" says the Capt'N as I'm on my second fender change "The boat is leaving... we're good to go, but... "

"I know..." says I, "put the fenders back..."

And then fuelling procedures complete, we contacted the marina for instructions. this time it was fenders and lines on both sides, please and thank you.

The Capt'N quite expertly reversed Banyan into her berth, despite the gusty crosswinds, and on the third try we were tied up tight and breathing a huge sigh of relief, both of us ready by that time, for a good ole Margarita,



"Or maybe, make that two" as it was the Crow's Nest 2 for 1 Happy Hour Special. But not before hooking ourselves up to Power, Water. Registering with the Marina, and all that stuff...

What followed were two intensive Spa Days for Banyan. Dave tackled the outside, scrubbing at the layers of salt and Sahara Dust picked up during our passages (and the last Spa Day), and I tackled the inside, scrubbing like only a Domestic Goddess with Power and free-flowing water can.

Weather was cooperating for two days followed by not so much. We chose to go right away and so we planned for one lastPassage. We provisioned, picked up our clean laundry, and Cleared out of Customs all while still berthed at the Marina.

And then the last 56.4 nautical miles in 7.5 hours, and one long reach later had us dropping anchor in Deshaies, Guadeloupe



where we spent a very lazy Sunday afternoon. And now, now dear readers and friends, we're passaged out, you're caught up, and we rest.

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May 4, 2015 | David Coulson-Lowes
Great blog - very jealous! Love to hear stories about people who really live their lives.
May 13, 2015 | Gerry White
Great to see you are still living your dream...If you go into the channel between Bas Terre and Grand Terre (you'll need to use your goashore) there are tons and tons of escargot which you find with your feet and then bend over and bring up by hand...Or...you can just eat another of those fabulous looking cream pastries.... Keep the blog running, Jane and I love it.....and Great Photos

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