Thursday, April 5, 2007

Iles des Les Saintes -- our favorite Caribbean island

April 5, 2007 Wednesday
Iles des Les Saintes

We cleared back into the Guadeloupe today here in the Saintes.  We had cleared out of Guadeloupe with next destination of Dominica, but then our actual departure from Marina Bas du Fort was delayed for two days; which were the two days that we originally planned to spend here in the Saintes before sailing onward to Dominica.  So just to be on the legal up and up, we cleared back into Guadeloupe and will probably stay here in the Saintes until next Tuesday.  The winds are predicted to be very low until then, so why sail in such low winds when we can stay in this lovely quiet anchorage.

Last evening another couple invited us over to their boat for sundowners – wine, beer, pate and cheeses for you landlubbers.  Bill had met the man back in Trinidad but neither of us had met the wife until last evening.  We had seen their boat in a marina in St. Martin, in another marina in Antigua, in Pointe ‘a Pitre, and now they are anchored right next to us.  They are nice and it was good to talk with new people.

This morning we walked up the hill to Fort Napolean.  This is the walk that the sailing guide says is easy enough even for the “gravitationally challenged.”  Love that terminology!  Fits me perfectly because even the slightest incline gives me trouble.  Can walk forever on a flat surface but this flatland Texas gal doesn’t do well with hills or mountains.  But for this hike I used the collapsible walking sticks that Donna and Bruce delivered to us when they visited in February.  I used both of the sticks for the hike up the mountain and only one for the walk back down.  Amazing difference!  I wasn’t the slightest bit out of breath going up the steep incline; and back, hip and knees didn’t give me a hint of pain.  I would recommend walking sticks for almost anyone planning on hiking these steep islands.

When we reached the top, the fort was definitely worth the uphill walk.  It is the most impressive fort we have seen in the Caribbean.  Unfortunately, the ferries had arrived from Point ‘a Pitre and Basse Terre; and it was very crowded.  And hot!  Bill decided that he didn’t want to stand in that crowd just to walk around inside the hot fort.  So we took a few photos of the outside and walked back down to the village.  Later we talked to some people who said that the interior of the fort is very interesting.  So maybe we will walk back up there again in a day or two.

Oh, yeah!  Early this morning I was enjoying another cup of cocoa in the cockpit and looking at the scenery.  There is an open view of Basse Terre and Grand Terre (main islands of Guadeloupe) from this anchorage.  I noticed that clouds looked like smoke rising from La Soufriere volcano on Basse Terre.  Twenty minutes later, those clouds had not moved.  So we pulled out our binoculars and clear as day we could see that there is substantial steam rising from that volcano.  This is not an active volcano, so to see so much steam was a surprise.  This is the first time that we have noticed any steam up there.  We assume that this is normal and that we just had not previously ooked at the top of the volcano from this angle.

We returned to the boat in the afternoon and began making water and doing laundry---you know; the regular, mundane weekly chores.  We had purchased a real vacuum cleaner recently and I wanted to vacuum the entire interior of the boat, walls included.  The second load of laundry was almost finished when the generator shut everything down.  The sea water impeller had failed; so Bill replaced it.  He pulled out our Amel maintenance manuals and learned that the impeller should be replaced every 500 hours.  Sure enough, it had been 475 hours since the last time he replaced the impeller in July 2005.  Guess we will now add that data to our list of regular maintenance chores.  It would be a lot better to replace the impeller before it crumbles apart, so we will try to be more attentive next time.

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