Sardine Tin Tin... a delayed posting
It was with a little trepidation that we approached the transition from having four to eight people aboard, three of whom are under ten. After the initial settling in of the new crew and as one or two small teething troubles ('I want to go home' being one!) were overcome, every one has enjoyed the sun sand and swimming we have found on our sojourn around Antigua and then back to Guadeloupe and specifically the Ille-des -Saintes which you may have gathered,if you follow my Twitter account (@Ampthillmark), I regard as the closest thing to heaven on earth!
We made a few exploratory sails between Falmouth bay and English harbour, including visits to Pigeon beach and a sail round to a reef to snorkel during which some crew members found that they had yet to find their sea legs and others saw spotted eagle Rays!
Antigua, or at least the bits we have visited, seems to be expensive and less well stocked than Guadeloupe, catering much more for the super yachties and their need for caviar and pink champagne. Don't get me wrong, it's a fabulous place, just expensive! We anchored off Pigeon beach on our last night there before slipping out of Falmouth Harbour at just after midnight bound for Deshais on the North west coast of Guadeloupe. Emily and I took the first 3 hr watch and Paul and (the other) Mark the second. We had made made good time after a slow start in the lee of Antigua and anchored in the bay just after sun rise. There were about 20 other yachts anchored off the town front. There is a large hill on the left as you look at the town , which is low rise, French colonial style, and the hills behind and to the right of town look lush and tropical. A party went ashore to complete customs and immigration, (via a computer in a shop) and came back with croissant and pain chocolate :-) Plans were hatched and we set off for a beach '1.6km' to the north... Well, I decided to go via the large hill and meet up with Kate, Mark, Emily and my 3 great nieces at the beach.
The path I was to follow started next to the local cemetery which is filled with hundreds of family ossuaries, rather than individual graves. It then turned sharply up hill, a very steep hill, and turned into a scramble up more of a rocky ravine than a path. The forest which looked lush from a distance was actually quite dry below the canopy. I was quite glad to stop to inspect a shell which had bounced down the hill and stopped at my feet. It was a sea shell but clearly occupied... by a purple and orange clawed hermit land crab. Despite waiting for what seemed like a lifetime it never decided it was safe enough to pop out and take a look around, so I left after taking a few photos. A few feet further on and I spotted some small leaves crossing the path... of course these were leaf cutter ants bringing home their harvest. By the time I reached the top of the 220 m high 'hill' I was absolutely drenched in sweat and looking forward to a quick descent to the beach, which I could just glimpse through the occasional gap in the forest, for a refreshing swim. The beach was very long and very inviting as I made my way down the windy path and I could hear the rising cress end of waves breaking on the sand. When I emerged at one end I realised that I probably wouldn't be taking a dip as the waves were enormous,and the beach steep,so the large Atlantic swell was crashing violently all along the beach. I found the other party at a small snack bar and kindly got fed chips by Beth. When it was time to leave the rest of the party went to catch a bus back to town while I walked back.
Next day we scooted down the coast to Les Illes-Saintes stopping briefly at The Jaques Cousteau National Marine reserve around Pigeon Island. So... back to paradise! And it didn't disappoint on the second visit! We spent a happy few days exploring on land and sea before we had to head back up the coast of Guadeloupe, stopping for a day in Rivière-sens so the new crew could explore the rain forest and the town of Basse-Terre. We made it back to Antigua and ended up anchored off OJ's Bar near Jolly Harbour for three nights! Here we said goodbye to Kate, Mark and the three girls, leaving 3 of us aboard. Then we sailed round to Famouth Harbour to rendevous with Our next crew member, Justin.