Four days in Guadeluope...

Having decided, at Kyle and Niall's suggestion, to divert from an Antiguan landfall and head for a few days of exploring around Guadeloupe, we arrived in Pointe-a-Pitre and anchored mat midnight of the 2nd Jan. We celebrated with a shot of 'Paul's Punch' and the 1st mate presented medals all round to mark the completion of the Atlantic crossing, 1st time for 3 of us and the 2nd for Paul. The stats for the crossing were as follows, 2252 nm, in 13 days 11 hrs giving an average speed through the water of 6.97knts.

We woke on the 3rd to find a mangrove fringed island behind us, 3 wrecked yachts and about 10 other yachts at anchor around us. After our first steady breakfast for two weeks we set off in the tender to complete customs and immigration formalities at the marina office opposite our anchorage before motoring round the bay to the centre of town. We tied up the tender next to a vegetable market crammed with colourful produce, and then went for a wander in search of a good place to have a second breakfast. With good phone signal (and free wifi at Mc D's!) we all managed to catch up on emails and social media... We found a great little café, Renee's, which had a selection of delicious pastries and freshly prepared fruit juices. Then a little wander separately, some shopping to restock the supplies, lunch, and back to the boat for an exit from our anchorage in time to get us to the Illes de Saints before dark. A brisk wind got us there on time for a sunset anchoring in 15m. A quick change of clothes and we made it to a punch bar just before dark descended.

Early next day and with the sun shining we had breakfast 'a table' in the cockpit, had a swim around the boat before upping anchor and moving round the point to anchor off a rocky knoll in 20m with good snorkelling under the cliffs. After a few hours soaking up the scenery, snorkelling and having a leisurely lunch it was time to set of once again for the 12 mile crossing back to the main island and the marina at Rivière Sans. Another brisk sail got us there in good time to moor up stern to the pontoon (we need more practice at this manoeuvre!) in time to walk the 150m to the black sand beach for sunset and a cold beer.

The next day we hired a car and headed for the forested mountains in search of waterfalls described by Columbus! We found them and they certainly are impressive! 3 separate falls with the 3rd being the tallest at 700 ft ( feet sounds more impressive than metres when describing waterfalls!). There followed a swim in a large pool deep in the forest down a rather precipitous and slippery path, but well worth the effort. Kyle performed backflips for the small crowd of bemused French families. We also walked up a bit of the most accessible fumerol but ran out of time so only did a shortened circuit around one side of it past the decidedly Luke warm thermal baths and through lush and diverse rainforest. We came across a very tame partridge or quail, but it wouldn't keep still long enough for a photo in the darkness of the forest understory. Back in the marina we replenished some stores before heading north for Pigeon Island made famous by Jaques Cousteau of red berried diving fame. We arrived as the sun was setting, just in time for Paul to go snorkelling 'au naturuel' before making a hurried return after remembering it was precisely the right time of day for sharks to feel hungry! Attached to one of the mooring bouys in the Parc Couteau, had supper and had a snooze before setting off at midnight bound for Antigua.

The crossing took 6 hrs so we were anchoring in English Harbour off Galleon beach by breakfast. Paul went off to clear boat and crew through Customs and Immigration before the rest of the crew were allowed ashore. Eventually he returned and we made it to the Dockyard Inn just in time for breakfast, full English for kyle and Niall, American pancakes with bacon, for Mark and something with lots of avocado for Paul. Final destination for the 2 Atlantic crossing crew, and a change from 4 on board to 8 after the arrival of Kate, Mark, Ruth, Lottie, Beth and Emily 8hrs after Kyle and Niall staggered to their taxi... They were not alone in feeling the worse for wear after a night of celebrations hitch started with a visit to Shirley Heights for sunset rum punches followed by a seafood festival supper in Nelson's Dockyard after which we wobbled the half mile or so back to the Falmouth Bay Marina only being diverted along the way by an inviting bar with live a reggae band... Well, even after leaving the bar a few beers later we still didn't make it back on board as we ogled the super yachts, particularly Aquila with her underwater lights illuminating the sea all around her with a milky blue light. We then befriended the mate and engineer of the real sailing super yacht Marie of Bloody Bay and helped them to celebrate a late New Year as they had been working at the time. We got a little look around the deck and saw the 1801 1pounder which is one of two working cannon they have on board! I retired to bed leaving Paul and Niall (I think...) to make their own way back...

The taxi arrived as ordered for a 0730 pick up but the two passengers heading for the airport were decidedly the worse for wear but did make it.. The skipper on the other hand was clearly in need of more sleep to make some kind of recovery before the mass arrival in the afternoon!

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