May 12th – May 15th
So what had been an amazing 11 week stay in Antigua was at an end, we had met friend who I believe and hope we will know for life. We have had endless generosity from people, done something that I vowed to never do again….work!, we have lived on a shoestring budget which was more like a piece of thread with a tear in it, had mum my and Barry and Holly’s parents visit, and most important of all we have seen our little jelly bean twice. We really had felt that this is what we had missed from the trip so far, the relaxed side of it where we had done about 50 Miles in the 11 weeks, and spent the rest of the time socializing. This all was about to end though, as we decided to cover a fair few miles and jump right back in the deep end.
We had a final dog walk down millionaires row along the waterfront down to Ruby Rose to say goodbye, it had been one of my favourite times since leaving the UK relaxing with them daily for the last month, and we cannot wait for next seasons adventures together. We arrived back at the boat about 7, had a quick tidy and set off. As we left the wind was good from the offset, we sat up together for a few hours then Holly retired below for a sleep. We sailed great and it was nice to finally be on the move again. I wasn’t tired so I did the full sail through the night and as the sun came up we were virtually entering the anchorage at Deshais, Guadeloupe. I quickly dropped anchor and went below to get some sleep. We had spent 10 days in the past here in Deshais so we were keen to continue south after some a nights rest. We spent the day ashore with Scrumpy giving him a nice walk to the local gym….by gym I mean about 8 work out stations in a field, and on our return to the dingy we were caught out by the filming of a British TV programme called Death in Paradise on the dinghy dock, meaning we had to wait an hour before being able to get on the dinghy. It was interesting to watch them film it, but it was not a glamourous as I had always pictured it in my head, it was lots of retakes and cursing as shots were mess up, one of which was due to Scrumpy running up and down the beach. After numerous attempts of trying to get Scrumpy a part in the show, we left hoping that the Tudor Rose might make an appearance in the background. The following morning we set our sight on sailing to Les Saints, a small island off the south of Guadeloupe, the perfect over night point prior to the big sail to Martinique to meet Holly’s friends. We took the puppy ashore and on the way back popped over to a neighbouring boat, who had an 11 month old son. They had left Europe when he was 3 months old, the exact age Jelly bean will be when we return. This was an amazing insight and lesson into how things were to be done from now on. They showed s how they set up the boat and gave us lots of tips, they even gave us our first baby/sailing related gift, a 0 – 12 month life jacket…….we were very grateful, for the gift and the time they had given us.
Back to our boat to set off, unfortunately as soon as we started heading south, the painful wind in our face scenario started. This meant motoring, at a soul destroying 2.5 kts for the next 9 hours. By the time we approached Les Saints, I had had enough, but the painful realization that we had a further 95 miles to do tomorrow was even worst. Then Holly suggested something unheard of…….carry on through the night……NO was my first thought as I was fed up, but she twisted my arm, and I knew if we did it, it would just be overwith and by tomorrow morning we would almost be there, instead of still being 100 miles away. So that’s exactly what we did. It’s a strange old sail, as Dominica is between Guadeloupe and Martinique, so for 30 miles of the trip, you were in the peaceful calm western side of the island with no swell, but no wind. By the time the rougher open sea section was complete, the motor being on was not a problem at all and we both could get a few hours sleep, then it was back to the open seas for the leg to Martinique. The sailing between islands was good and we went very well, until we noticed a rip in the mainsail that meant it would have to go away for the rest of the journey. Once we approached the western side of Martinique I mentally had built up that we were virtually there……amateur mistake, with 20 miles to go to the enterance to the Fort De France river this meant nothing other than another 7 hours. Again, I had believed the entrance to the River was close enough to deem almost being anchored and asleep, but guess again, the wind was howling out the river at 25 Kts, meaning yet another snails pace 3 further hours of tacking. So all in all what was supposed to be, wake up yesterday and do 30 miles in about 5 – 6 hours , had turned into 130 miles in 29 hours, but thank god we were here. Well almost, not before a mile out of the anchorage, my sleepless concentration was lost for a minute, and I was brought back to reality by someone shouting, I looked around and saw nothing, but heard more shouting, then shouting from Holly down below….by this point I was confused and slightly panicked, only for an other sail boat to appear 10 foot away from our bow from behind our foresail moving across us, I was terrified an had no time to do anything about it, and for that second I genuinely though that was our trip over, and thought we would both sink right there. I know me talking about it will not stress how close we were to hitting them, kind of like the ‘The fish I caught was this big’ scenario, but we were within centimeters of hitting the back of their boat, at 5 kts, we would have cut them in half….we crashed into their dinghy that was being towed 5 foot of the back of their boat, and the 4 French crew were screaming to high heaven at me. I dropped the sails and just sat there for a minute to bring my heart rate back down, then turned around to head toward the chasing boat, they screamed a bit more in broken English, but were OK and went on their way. A bit of everyone’s fault this one, I should have seen them, but if they saw me and didn’t overt course then maybe they deserve to be sunk…..a silently motored the last half a mile and dropped anchor, quite shaken up, and off ashore we went to meet Hollys former work colleague for a well deserved pint.