Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Saintes briefly and on to Deshaies

In the Saintes.

It was really rolly, wet and windy in the anchorage of Terre Haut and Judy was complaining about lack of sleep so after a brief excursion ashore and as she had decided she could not manage the climb up to Fort Napoleon, we left to look for flatter water.

Just before we left though got a nice shot of the Stad Amsterdam coming into the anchorage under sail.

Relying on my past experience of the area I moved around to a small but very protected anchorage on Terre Basse by the old pottery that produced the sugar moulds only to find that if anything the swells were worse! After waiting a little while we set off again and found that Pain de Sucre was pretty flat so settled down there.

Next day dawned fair and despite the forecast the wind was South of East and it looked like for once there was wind on the leeward side of the main island of Guadeloupe. Never wishing to miss an opportunity of a favourable wind we set off for Deshaies and managed to carry some wind almost all the way up the 30 odd miles, only having to motor for short spells through some dead spots.

As I was reading an Alexander Kent story [ Richard Bolitho ] at the time it was quite evocative to think back to the times when there were no motors and all sailors could do in dead spots was to get the long boats out and to tow the big boat with oars. If we had some light air sails like a big code zero and the energy and skills to set and strike them we could have sailed all the way but the iron genny is just so much easier.


After we had anchored at Deshaies and squared everything away my attention was drawn to a fairly big French flagged sailboat reversing around in a very crowded part of the anchorage and towing something from his bow. It turns out to have been his anchor and it was a miracle that he did not get caught up on some one elses anchor or hit another boat. He was on his own and eventually two people paddled out to his boat. By now half the anchorage was out, standing on deck and ready to take avoiding action. We were well back from the danger area but it was a “high anxiety” moment for those in the front line of boats. However he raised his anchor found a spot and dropped it again. Even then he was pretty close to another boat.

I like to watch the behaviour of the birds as well as the crazy French sailors and it was Judy that alerted me to some little herons that were winging their way around the anchorage and unusually for that species were settling on a boat instead of a tree. Now I have seen terns and pelicans settle on boats but usually only those that are long term residents of the anchorage but in this case the little herons settled on a catamaran that had pulled in that day. But minutes later the owners returned, disturbing their new residents who settled on another recent arrival. By now sunset was approaching and the herons flew off to settle in a tree and we settled down to a sundowner and checking for a green flash. The Lords of the unset were obliging for once and we had a fairly good flash of green as the sun disappeared, one of several this year.

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