Thursday, May 08, 2008
On Tuesday we did prep work for taking the Salee River route north out of pointe a pitre. This takes you to the northern shore of Gauteloupe via about 8 miles while to sail around the island would be more like 30. Worth the effort. Actually our prep work started on Monday when we explored the route to the start of the river by dinghy. Yeah, it’s very shallow in places. About 6 feet. But we draw 5 so that’s a whole foot to spare. Gulp. We found that there was enough water to anchor right near the bridge which only opens at 5 in the morning. We thought we’d like to get to that anchorage in daylight rather than have the sphinchter puckering shallow water adventure at night. So, Tuesday we checked out of customs. The french guy there looked like he was sorry that the Germans lost world war II. Se la gare! After that it was back to Enee to haul dinghy and motor on board and back to the marina for fuel. Now that we have checked out we are officially a ‘foreign vessel’ and can buy diesel for 0.87 EU per liter instead of 1.22 EU. Fuel tanks topped off and even some ice and beer for the 50+mile sail to Antigua and we’re ready.
The motor to the anchorage was indeed shallow. Note to anyone following along, the buoys are not where they are shown in either Doyle’s guide or the Yachtman’s charts. It is shallow everywhere by the next to last red buoy as you approach the bridge from the south,. We got down to 0.3 meters (30 centimeters) under the keel before it came back up. Whew! We anchored with no problem and let out minimum scope to make for less of an adventure in the morning when we weigh anchor to make that 5 AM bridge opening.
Up at 4. Coffee and a few boat things while we wait for bridge time. 3 other boats have joined us and that’s good because then as long as we are not first we can use FBA navigation as we did on the intercoastal wateway. (Follow Boat Ahead). The river is pretty and it was a great ride as the sun was just coming up. Many sea birds getting ready to fight over food for the day and LOTS of no-see-ums but definetely feel-ums. The first bridge is actually two bridges and the second one is VERY narrow. The catamaran in front of us MIGHT have had a foot on either side. From there it was follow the buoys, wait for the second bridge and make our way to the official ocean which we did at 0700. Depth sounder rang up multiple meters of water. Full sail and we our on our way to Antigua!
Boats heading out to the open sea
Perfect sailing wind and seas for Enee. We are just aft of a beam reach in maybe 15 knot breeze. Seas are rolly keeping us busy at the helm but nothing serious. What was serious was our speed; 7.5 - 8 knots All the way to Antigua. We headed for Jolly Harbor on the West side as multiple people told us that that was the easiest and best place to check in. Once again, the buoyed channel in to Jolly Harbor is not where it is shown on the charts causing some tense moments (swearing) aboard but plenty of water even if you can’t find the actual channel right away.
It’s 1500 and we’re anchor down in Antigua waters. We’ll clear customs tomorrow. Right now it’s time for one of those cold Corsair beers!
Good sail! Nothing broke and nobody died.