Bookmark and Share
Michael & Edi have headed out on a slow, thorough exploration of the globe.
In the Lesser Antilles
11 May 2012 | Terre Le Haut, Les Saintes, Guadeloupe
We had come to anchor off the beach in Carlisle Bay, Barbados mid-afternoon on Monday, the 30th of April after a sixteen-day passage from Natal, Brazil. The bay is a small indentation in the southwestern corner of the island, a few miles south of the capitol, Bridgetown. The anchorage provides little protection from the surge of the open Atlantic, and Sequitur rolled in beam swells as she weathercocked in the easterly wind.

Among our neighbours in the anchorage was a mega yacht complete with helicopter and assorted other toys. An odd assortment of day-trip boats paraded past us, including the Jolly Roger, a top-heavy double-decked pretend-to-be pirate ship with cut-down masts and a huge bar. It did daily runs for the tourists.

On Tuesday a huge cruise ship came in, and we sat in Sequitur's cockpit entertained by the capsizing rental SeaDoos and plastic kayaks. We also watched large charter catamarans heading in and out with their decks seemingly standing room only with partying passengers. We remained onboard under our quarantine flag, relaxing and catching-up on sleep.

On Thursday we watched the mega yacht launch its workboat, a motor-yacht 15 metres or so in length. Then as we watched its helicopter take off and head ashore, we were reminded that we needed to head ashore ourselves. Resigning ourselves to having no helicopter, we would have to use our dinghy. Unfortunately, Non Sequitur had sprung a leak in her starboard after tube, and this needed to be patched first. We lowered the dinghy on the davits, hauled it along the side and hoisted it to the foredeck with the spinnaker halyard, where I began the repair.

As I worked at repairing the tube, we watched as a young fisherman located a series of rather large shellfish traps using a handheld GPS and a swim mask. He then grappled and raised each trap in turn, balanced it on the gunwales of the boat, checked it for catch, refreshed the bait and threw the trap back in. We could see no catch, and couldn't determine whether it was crab or crayfish, or both, or neither.

On Friday afternoon we launched the repaired dinghy and headed ashore. There is a narrow river mouth walled on both sides with wharves, along which are very tightly packed Med-moored tour boats and local yachts. Shortly before the low bridge, we found a place to secure the dinghy with chain and padlock, and then walked the short distance to Jordan's Supermarket. We bought a wonderful selection of fresh produce, including broccoli, green peppers, bok choy, tomatoes, celery, onions, potatoes and carrots. Also we picked out 2 kilos of pork for the wok, a kilo each of chicken breasts and chicken thighs plus 2.5 kilos of peeled, cleaned and flash-frozen large raw prawns. We were nearly ready to head out again.

On our way back out the river mouth, we continued on into the fishermen's wharves to take a look at the fueling facilities. We saw a solid third-world class fuel dock with easy access to modern Texaco pumps. On Saturday morning we weighed using the cockpit winch and motored the half mile or so to the fuel dock.

We took on 487 litres of diesel for B$1189, which is $596, about $1.22 per litre, the second least expensive we have seen in the past couple of years. When I tried to pay with a credit card, the pump lady said cash only, so I headed ashore to an ATM.

To get out of the fishermen's wharves, I had to go through the fish processing area, and then through the public fish market. On the way back with the 1200 Barbadian dollars, I paused to buy some fresh mahi-mahi. I asked for B$11 worth, the change from the diesel. The monger cut four thick steaks, trimmed and skinned them and took only one of the two tens I offered him, saying he didn't have time to make change. I gave the remaining $1190 to the lady at the pump, telling her to keep the change.

At 1101 we slipped and headed out, shaping our course toward Martinique, about 130 miles away to the northwest. We hauled down our quarantine flag, not having been bothered to check-in while in Carlisle Bay. Shortly before sunset we sighted Saint Lucia, and watched the lights along its shores through the night. As we sailed, I ran the watermaker to bring our tanks back up to full. The south coast of Martinique was in sight at sunrise.

At 0859 we came to 25 metres on the Delta in Anse Mitan across harbour from the capitol, Fort de France. We hoisted the quarantine flag and scurried below just as the skies opened-up in a deluge. It rained heavily much of the remainder of the day, so we remained onboard, relaxing and fully content to be snug and dry.

In the evening I seared the mahi-mahi steaks and served them with steamed broccoli, sautéed potato coins and wedged tomatoes. With dinner we enjoyed another superb bottle of the Montes Leyda Vineyard 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, delighted we had stocked so much of it in Sequitur's cellars.

On Monday morning we launched Non Sequitur and motored ashore to the village of Les 3 Ilets, where we secured the dinghy to a ladder on the side of the public pier. We knew we were in France immediately we stepped ashore; there was a modern public toilette, exactly as the ones common in France.

We paused to smell the roses and the other wonderful flowers that lined the clean, well-maintained streets. We wandered the quaint village, poked into a bakery, examined the selection at the stalls in the village market, browsed the shelves in two small supermarkets, and then began working our way back, buying as we went.

Besides the mandatory baguettes, brie and chevre, we bought a large mille-feuille au fondant and enjoyed it immediately we arrived back onboard. As we were devouring it in the cockpit, we noticed we had dragged anchor. We had also dragged in Carlisle Bay and we were increasingly disenchanted with the holding power of the Delta. We were in 3.2 metres of water and very close to the shoals, so we needed to move. Rather than resetting the anchor, we decided to continue on north.

At 1318 we weighed and motored out of Petit Anse and past the downtown waterfront of Fort de France. It was raining lightly and there was just a slight southeasterly breeze, so we continued motoring through the afternoon until sufficiently clear of Martinique for the prevailing northeasterly wind to offer some assistance.

Off the west coast of Dominica and into Guadeloupe Passage we were hit by a succession of storm cells with torrential rains and 25 to 35 knot twisting winds as they passed over. As these were hitting us, we were fighting a strong countercurrent, which slowed us to less than 3 knots over the ground, even though we were moving above 6 knots through the water. I could find no reference to this southerly current, only indications of northeast setting ones. The winds filled overnight to above 20 knots and there were very confused seas from the multidirectional winds of the storm cells.

An hour after sunrise we finally found some respite from the heavy seas as we reached Passe du Sud-Ouest between the islands of Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe. The propellors of the wind generators on the south cliffs of Terre-de-Bas were spinning rapidly in the 25-knot winds as we passed, but the seas were dramatically calmer as we entered the lee of the rocks and islets.

This aerial photo looking slightly south of west, shows the lay of the land of Les Saintes. We entered through the pass beyond the domed peak in the upper left and continued through the large bay in the centre of the archipelago before turning southeastward to the anchorage off the village of Terre-de-Haut.

Since Edi was last here in 2007 and 2008, the community has installed a mooring field covering virtually all the anchorage off its waterfront. At 1001 we came to a mooring just off the public wharf. It was the closest to the dinghy dock and to possible wifi signals, and it had just been vacated.

On our passage I had made water to top-off the tanks, and the water in the anchorage looked clean enough to run the watermaker, so we took long showers and relaxed. My hair had become rather wild, my not having had it cut since February in the Falklands. There was a lovely breeze blowing, so Edi dug-out her scissors and set to work.

What emerged was a considerably more civilized-looking person, one much less likely to scare the people ashore.

After a brunch of baguettes, brie and chevre, we launched Non Sequitur and headed ashore. There were a dozen or more dinghies on the pier, all of them secured with chains or cables and padlocks. Whether this is for the general situation in the Caribbean, or for local reasons, we didn't question; we chained the motor to the dinghy and the dinghy to the pier.

We were directed to Les Saintes MultiServices in an office above the retail shops along from the public wharf. Besides running an internet cafe, they also administer the mooring field fees and deliver fresh breakfast croissants, baguettes and so on to the boats. When I inquired about moorage, I was shown to a computer where I completed our Customs and Immigration clearance online, printed a copy and took it to the counter. There were no fees, no government officials, no hassles; there was simply a polite young woman who took the form, stamped it and handed it back. We were legally ashore again for the first time since we left Piriapolis. Moorage for Sequitur came to €11 per night or €60 per week, so we decided to stay a week.

We walked along to the bakery where we bought four baguettes still warm from the oven. Further along at the public market, among the things we found were some very fresh ginger, some huge, juicy tomatoes and some small, almost mini courgettes.

In the supermarket we picked-up some more brie and chevre. In the freezer we spotted some huge coquilles St Jacques, complete with corail. I have always wondered why North Americans throw away the roe when they shuck scallops. We bought a kilo bag.

The package contained 36 scallops, so I selected 18 of them and set them out to thaw as we watched a spectacular red and purple sunset. We have been in one storm after another for nearly three weeks, with hardly a break between them. We hoped that the red sky portended better weather to follow.

I sautéed the scallops in butter with julienned garlic and shallots and served them with basmati rice, steamed cauliflower and sliced tomatoes. The Sancerre-like characteristics of the Montes Leyda Vineyard 2010 Sauvignon Blanc complemented perfectly.

We have come 6307 miles from Cape Horn. We are now just shy of 16º North, in the middle of Hurricane Alley with just six weeks to go before the start of the season. Our insurers require that we be north of 31º North by the end of June, so we still have some voyaging to do. Our current thoughts are to continue by way of Saint Croix, Puerto Rico, Turks & Caicos and the Bahamas to Florida and then north to at least Brunswick, Georgia.

Hopefully, along this 1500-mile route we can find some decent weather, some proper sailing conditions, some pleasant anchorages and some repairs for our windlass.
Photo Albums
03 March 2010
43 Photos
07 September 2009
15 Photos
Site Meter
Site Meter