2013 Caribbean- Guadelope Antigua and St Maartin

Malua is at 16:12.31N 61:29.65W at Ilet du Gosier Guadeloupe on 3/02/2013

While I was on a mooring in The Saints that did not stop the swell from coming into the bay. Malua rocked and rolled all night and I could not wait for the light to come in the hatch. I got up soon after dawn and prepared Malua for an easy trip to the next island of Guadeloupe. In fact it is two main island. The fellow who named then must have had a sense of humour because the larger one with the two high mountains is known as Basse Terre and the smaller flatter is called Grande Terre. I was heading for a small island off the coast of the Grande Terre.
The Southern Cross left the same time as Malua. The wind was just over 22 knots so I put one reef in the main and unfurled the full genoa. I was romping along at just below 7 knots. It was a short voyage of about 20 nm. The two boat were neck and neck all the way. It was a great sail in the sun shine.
We dropped anchor in the lee of the small island in 4 m of water. We will stay here a day or so before going into the main town Pointe a Pitre. I understand they hold the best carnival in the Caribbean. So it should e fun the few days before Ash Wednesday.
A magical moment on Malua

Malua is at 17:00.42N 61:45.66W in English Harbour Antigua on 12/02.2013

Pointe a Pitre is in the middle of the two wings of the butterfly which is the Quadeloupe Island. To continue north one has to decide if you take the western or lee side of the island or the eastern or windward side of the islands. Most people who take the lee shore do the passage to Antigue in two stages stopping for the night at one of the bays on the western side of Quaswloupe.
Over the past couple of days the wind has dropped of completely during the night so I decided that I would leave Pointe a Pitre and sail eastwards to the lovely anchorage of Ilet du Gosier which is behind an island with a lighthouse on it. I would go to bed and then set off at 1:00 am on the 83 nm journey round the south eastern cap of Point des Chateaux hopefully reaching the cape before dawn and when the wind usually comes up. Everything went according to plan except the wind got up before the sun so I found myself motoring into a 15 knot wind and a short wind chop. Malua does not go well in these conditions and we struggled towards the Cape at 3 to 4 knots. I could not sail or even motor sail because I would have been heading towards Petite Terre and its fringe reef.
I continued for three hour into the wind and swell. At about 8:00 I was well clear of the Cape and tacked to head north east and Antigue some 60 nm miles away. The wind was now up to slightly more than 20 knots its was aft of the beam, with the main up and one reef and the full genoa and staysail Malua surged ahead at more than 7 knots. I kept this up for more than 7 hours. It was a great sail although a series of rain showers passed over me as we moved close to Antigua. At some stages the swell was quite big but always over the aft quarter.
I approached English harbour but could not recognise it in the rain and against the cliff face. I had expected to see either a lot of masts or yachts coming and going into the harbour but due to the wind nobody was leaving or entering port that day. Thankfully my chartplotter led me to the entrance. The outer harbour is a reasonable size bay but it was full of anchored boats. Just as I arrived having put away the sail and rain shower completely obliterated the visibility of the bay so I just waited in the entrance for it to clear. I chose a spot to anchor after seeing the boats swing back and forth. I approached, dropped the anchor from the wheel and went astern. No sooner had I let out sufficient chain a Dutch woman came on deck from her barge like boat and shouting I was "too close" I pointed out that she had two anchors and did not swing in harmony with the other boats and she was the cause of the "too close situation"
Anyway I was too close so I took in the anchor and returned to my preferred spot close to the entrance and at the back of the fleet. I dropped the anchor, settled down and declared I had arrived. 83 nm in one hop in very robust wind and waves but a great passage.
A magical moment on Malua.

Malua is at 17:07.80N 61:53.28W in Deep Bay Antigua on 16/02/2013

I left English Harbour after a quiet drink at Shirley Heights the night before. I walked up a track just up the road from the beach. It states that it is a half mile but going up the steep hill it did seem longer. I arrived about an hour before sun set and grabbed a beer to watch the sun set over English Harbour and Falmouth Harbour in the distance. There was no green flash this evening. On a Thursday the local pub is trying to duplicate the very successful Sunday night jump up but frankly it is a poor imitation. The steel band was not anything to write home about and left after sunset to be replaced by an equally ordinary band with some singer. Not Caribbean music just music. The food is the usual unfrozen meat cooked on a charcoal fire turned by a sharp fork so all the juice runs out. The prices not good. Needless to say I returned to the Malua Restaurant.
The path down was much easier although I did need the touch to see the way because it was quite dark and only a new moon which did not pierce the tree canopy. An experience but wait for Sundays party is what I would do.
I did not want to wait so the next day I checked out (for departure in two days) using the eClear system. No money to pay but just a hassle. I must say the time spent in clearing in and out takes the fun away from ones arrival and departure.
I decided to take the safe route outside the fringe reef so sailed down wind to the SW corner of the island then reached up the west coast. I had selected Five Island Bay to stop which is just north of Jolly Harbour. The last mile is over quite shallow waters with shoals only 2 meters deep so one has to keep a look out on the chart. The water is creamy so you cant see the shallows while going in. I dropped the anchor in 4 meters of water and had lunch then looked around for something to do.... nothing.
Up the anchor and set off a few miles north to Deep Bay. The cruising guide warns one against hitting a submerged wreck right in the middle of the bay. Now this is a place I could stay. I passed the wreck of the Andes to port and went up into the bay and dropped the anchor in 3 meters of water. Out came the kyack and I was soon diving on this wrech of a three master sunk in 1905. It was full of pitch which started to smolder at the end of a passage from Trinidad to St Johns. They were refused entry to St Johns so came into Deep Bay. As they opened the hatches to deal with the problem the fresh air caused the pitch to burst into flame. That burnt the wood deck of the steel ship which sank upright in a few meters of water. One can see the whole vessel with one mast still above the high water mark. The water was not very clear so my photos are a little disappointing.
Towards sundown I took the dinghy ashore and climbed the hill on top of which is the stone fort Barrington overlooking Deep Bay and the entrance to St Johns. When I was there it appeared to be a hangout of passionate lovers unable to restrain themselves because of the view.
Tomorrow is a lay day and then I rise before dawn and set off for St Bart - a 75 nm passage to get me further north and away from the constant check-in check-out bureaucracy.
A magical moment on Malua

Malua is at 18:02.00N 63:05.91W in Simpson Bay in St Martin on 18/02/2012

I left English Harbour and sailed up the west coast to Deep Bay. Here I walked to St John - the main town to get some fresh vegetables and to spend the last of my EC money. The walk is quite a long way so I took a bus out of town then was given a lift.
I had planned to sail to Nevis the next island in the chain and continue to St Christopher and St Eustatius but the weather window was only open for two days before a strong wind front set in for four or more days so I cooked three meals of mince meat from the freezer, set it in the fridge and set the alarm for 1:00 am.
There was little wind when I got up and set off out of the bay making sure I past by the sunken wreck. I hit the open sea and still only 15 knots and right behind Malua. It was a great sail down wind. I adopted my usual night watch position and watched the night sky pass over head. Dawn came and the sea was still flat and I was making such good progress that I would have arrived at St Barthelemy - St Barts just after 14:00. I looked at the chart and found St Martin was only 14 nm further north and I would reach that before 16:00. The wind was consistent and from astern so lets make progress and move further north while the going is good. This Caribbean is getting boring.
On entering the southern waters of the island I saw some water rise from about 400 m ahead. Just a glimpse out the corner of my eye. When I looked again a whale was just off Malua's port quarter, just slowly moving southwards. I did not expect to see whales in these water. A great thrill.
St Martin is divided Dutch side and a French side however the Dutch have a very large lake connected to the sea by a channel but a lifting bridge restricts the entrance. The bridge would open in two hour time for inbound traffic, so I just hung about waiting in line with about ten other vessels waiting to enter the lagoon of Simpson Bay.
Passing down the channel and under the lifting bridge reminded me of the locks of France however this time I had the mast up.
Just as I turned to port to select a spot to drop the anchor Pedro and Carol from Jack Tar came along side to invite me to share a beer at a waterside bar. What a great welcome after a 16 hour sail.
A magical moment on Malua.

One can stay for weeks in Simpson Bay in St Maartin. There are chandlers, services, restaurants and more importantly other cruisers who just seem to spend week after week in the same spot. One entered the bay via the lifting bridge - in my case at 17:30 and can choose between the empty bay in the Dutch side or the less convenient and crowded French side. Where you anchor is where you check in. I did the Dutch side for a week and the total experience cost US$40. Some people just go through the bridge and check in on the French side and the cost is EU10 or so. Do check in if you anchor in the Dutch side. My friend on Pinball Wizard was boarded by the Dutch authorities and asked for his papers which he had completed properly. A sailing cat had the authorities along side for more than an hour then both vessels left together to destinations unknown.
Well I checked out for a further US$5 and I was free to leave. I went through the bridge at 11:00 rather than the 16:30 outgoing and anchored in the roadsted then returned in the dinghy for some money, food and to access the slow wifi at the yacht club. Having done all that I returned to Malua with a kilo of Uruguay beef to prepare a stew for the passage westwards. It had great chunks of meat that turned out, with a bit of French wine to be three great meals, one of which I had that night and the next the following night. Still one remains in the freezer.
I had prepared Malua for the voyage across the Anegada Passage with the weather window open for a good passage on Thursday/Friday. The seas and wind were predicted to rise on Saturday. I set off at 1:00 am Friday from the bay outside Simpson Bay. The moon was up, the wind from the east and for most of the passage very little swell. It was the best passage I have had all season. In fact it was so good I read, fixed the dinghy and cleaned up in my cabin - sorted my 12 T-shirts.
I arrived at about 15:00 and was coming down the channel when the AIS picked up the yacht Distant Shores which I met at Navy Services in Port St Louis France in July/August. They had crossed with the ARC and have been sailing up and down the Island chain with paying guests.
The AIS system I have - Watchmate has four profiles that one can select, Ocean, Coastal, Harbour or at Anchor. The parameter for the alarm and list of vessels changes from wide and many to few and only those within a mile of so with the at Anchor. I was able to see who was in the bay as I entered. It is a great facility if one wants to find a friend assuming they leave their AIS on while at anchor or coastal cruising.
I had arrived in the British Virgin Islands - Virgin Gorda.

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