Thursday, April 24, 2008

Where to?

Chart of Guadeloupe

Les Saintes is that little splotch just south of the west wing of Guadeloupe

One of the skills one needs to acquire when cruising is flexibility (and arm strength but I'll get to that). On Tuesday we left the little town of Deshaies in Guateloupe and planned to sail about 20 miles due south (nearly) to the capital city, Basseterre (yes there's one of these in St. Kitts too. Bassetere means low land.) The wind was weird and nearly non-existant for a change. All we had was a little onshore breeze which is weird because that put the wind out of the north north-west and the real wind is NEVER from there down here (except maybe briefly during a hurricane). But with full sail up we were making 4+ knots and only going 20 miles so fine for us. Then it quit. I detest long motor boat rides and why shouldn't I? We don't HAVE to be anywhere on any particular day and diesel isn't exactly free. So we motorsailed a SHORT distance to an anchorage across from Pigeon Island. This anchorage wasn't so hot. It was filled with floating milk jugs either marking moorings for other boats or fish traps. We got anchored though and had lunch. Then it got windy again. And rolly. Really rolly -- the kind of rolly that when you wake up you've become the other person!

A quick look at the chart and cruising guide and we decide to motor or sail 5 more miles to a little bay called Anse du le Barque which should be much calmer. It was. A pretty little bay with lots of local fishing boats up near shore with plenty of room outside of them. There's two working light houses as well which is kind of quaint. It's deep though and a bit of a hard bottom and here's where you need arm (and back) strength and why. . .?

The anchor windlass is totally gone! The last time I tried to use it it wouldl just come on by itself without me pressing any buttons. Maybe it's possesed. Maybe some ghost is trying to sever my fingers by having the wheel turn when I'm not expecting it! So now it is JUST me with no mechanical assist to lay out and HAUL up the anchor. What makes this even harder is that the chain has to be fed down a tiny hole just a little bigger than the chain itself into the chain locker below. So I haul a couple of feet of chain and then hold it with one hand and feed it down with the other. The problem here is that there is nothing to hold the chain except the gypsy itself. So I HAVE to feed the chain down the hole to get what ever chain of gained captured. Laying chain out is fun as well. I have to hurry hand over hand pulling chain out of the hole as the boat backs down in the wind hoping I can keep up. I checked the low current up-down switch for faults but it is fine. So the problem (not counting that the motor needs replacing, remember?) now lies with the reversing solenoid. This must be fried to complete the high current circuit all by itself. So, dear Santa: A new windlass please!

This is how I look now after hauling chain for a few weeks.

Yesterday we thought we'd do the rest of the trip to Basseterre. I am on a quest for some perscription sun glasses as both pair of clip-ons went into the briney deep. The wind was light at first but was building as we got nearer the southern end of the island. We were under full sail for a change but the wind whipping around the tip soon forced us to reef the main. No problem. However we are now sailing a course of about 220 when we need about 170 to make Basseterre. We run a few miles out and then tack. What the. . . OK now we are heading 50 degrees. That's got to be a new record. A 170 degree tack! There is quite a currrent here during flood tide and I guess this is flood tide. Once again, where ever it is you want to go, you can't get there! It's still real early so we decide to motor sail (yes!) and put in a long day to go around the southern tip of the island and then turn north to Ponte de Pitre. Somewhere along there we should get good wind. Well to make a short story a little longer, there was no good courses to make that long haul. Wind and seas off this souther tip were pretty heavy but The Saintes are much closer. This is a small group of islands still part of Guadeloupe and just off the southern end. So 2 or 3 tacks later we pulled into the really pretty anchorage off the town of Bourg De Saintes. (pronounced 'Cleveland')

There's a busy ferry service operating between here and the 'mainland'. I put mainland in quotes because it's actually between two islands - this little one and the big one of Guadeloupe proper. One of the boat's is named 'Antoinette' so I figure there's no head on that boat.


We have wifi on the boat here too! That alone is enough to keep us here for a couple of days. There is a fort here to hike up to as well and a pretty little french town to explore. Stay tuned!

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