22nd March
At the beginning of the passage from Dominica to Guadeloupe, we had to pass behind some high ground before emerging from the 'wind shadow' of the island, but were soon out in the fresh breeze. As usual, the headland created some gusty conditions, the first gust of which put such pressure on the jib, that the jib sheet lead broke up under the strain. The next gust had us heeled over further than before until the sea was just spilling over the cockpit coaming, but with Holly Mae's weight, particularly low down in her ballast keel, we felt great confidence. Then the gusts were over and everything settled down for the rest of the passage. Noley was still in the acute stage of Chikungunya and after the first half hour or so, when all the excitement was over, she went down below to rest. I rooted around in the cockpit locker until I found a wooden bullseye on a short strop and set it up on the pin rail to replace the broken sheet lead. There were no nearby boats to keep us company on this passage, so we had a relatively relaxed time. It was about 40M to Pointe a Pitre, and at midday we passed between the islands of Les Saintes and Marie Galante, both small island dependencies of Guadeloupe.

We arrived at the entrance channel around 5pm, from where it was 20 mins into Bas de Fort Marina. This is a very large marina set amongst houses and apartments for the boat owners. It seemed that most of the 1000 or so boats were 'locally' owned, and although there were a few berths for visitors, these were of the 'stern to' variety popular in the Med. For us it's not so easy to get ashore if we moor stern to. At one end there's the bowsprit and at the other the self steering gear which extends about four feet beyond the transom. Both keep us a long way out from the pontoon. We had tried it for a couple of days in Grenada, where we got ashore by balancing on the self steering before leaping ashore when the boats movement brought us close enough. It seemed to me, to be risky then, and with Noley's fatigue now, it was out of the question. After lots of shrugging, pointing at the self steering, shaking my head, pointing at the bowsprit, sticking my chin out and curving my mouth downwards as far as I could, in a show of Gallic disgruntlement, we were eventually rewarded with a berth on a vacant finger pontoon, albeit embarrassed by the company of the power boats whose corner this was. It was but a short row over to the facilities from there, and we were content.

25th March
After stocking up with food, which is always good from a french supermarket, we set off with our new crew, James and Kimara, bound for Les Saintes which we had passed on passage from Dominica. It was a 20M trip with the wind on the beam and the sun shining The first 12 or 13 miles were along the windward coast of Basse Terre, part of Guadeloupe, before a passage across the channel to reach Terre de Haut, one of Les Saintes. The first night there we dropped anchor off a quiet beach and just after we'd had a swim, Kimara spotted a dolphin slowly swimming about 50 yds away. We jumped back in a joined a few others, hoping to see the dolphin under water.................. but it was all in vain. In fact dolphins have been a bit thin on the ground, or should it be thin in the water, over this side of the Atlantic. Biscay was the place for dolphins. We were visited 5 or 6 times a day by pods of many dolphins there.

26th March
In the morning we sailed down to Terre de Basse, the quieter and less developed of the two inhabited islands, but with the wind south of east found the anchorage untenable, so we turned straight around and had a great sail, tacking up through the channels between the islands, to a large and deserted anchorage called Marigot Bay.
(Don't worry if you're getting confused by the names........................ it seems every island has it's own Marigot Bay, most have a Basse Terre and many have a Soufriere.)
It was a great anchorage, sheltered from wind and swell and we couldn't work out why we had it to ourselves. We took Cub for a sail there and tried to get near the only turtle , which was obviously not so keen as us to make friends,.
Looking out to sea, Noley spotted something strange........................ was it smoke ? No. It was spray, but there was no boat. Through the binoculars we could see the spray whirling around in circles.................. it was a water spout !!! A sailing boat going towards it quickly tacked and beat a hasty retreat. Then a couple of minutes later after it had disappeared behind the headland, the top of it could be clearly seen going up into a cloud. (see photo in 'Atlantic' gallery)

Over the next few days we cruised over to the leeward coast of Guadeloupe then back to Les Saintes, which we preferred. On our return we hit some windy weather and had to change down to the No.2 jib for the first time in a couple of months, for a hard beat. Plenty of spray over us again, and a few squally showers too. We often thought that the same wind at home, with the spray and wind being that much colder, and an overcast sky................ it would have been quite threatening, and probably sent us into the nearest port of refuge. It also helped to have the extra crew of James and Kimara on board, particularly as Noley was still below par. Arriving back in Les Saintes we tried to find a mooring buoy in the Anse du Bourg, but they were all full. It was still blowing a fresh breeze as we tried anchoring just outside the marine reserve, but dragged on the first couple of attempts. Just as I was about to drop the anchor for our third attempt, someone spotted a free mooring so we hurried over and picked it up before a couple of others who were prowling about looking for a space. Our sense of good fortune gradually disappeared through the evening and night as we rolled heavily and our lines jerked on the buoy, making sleep elusive. Our mooring was out in the fairway, exposed to all wind and swell. No2. it was, out of 60 or 70, and I believe it was the second most uncomfortable mooring. I pity those who spent the night on No.1 !

29th March
In the morning as boats were leaving, we motored in and picked up a buoy in a more sheltered position, and as it happened, next to 'Meriva', with Tristan and Sue aboard, who we hadn't seen since Grenada. (They had also just applied to Antigua Classics in their 42' Holman). We stayed put for a couple of days, recovering from our sleepless night and doing a bit of walking and snorkelling, and then with their week up, we had to take James and Kimara back to Pointe a Pitre for their flight on to Florida

The marina itself was hot and airless at night, and worse, there was a mysterious smell from the bilges which had developed last time we stayed here and was returning again now despite our best efforts at flushing through with bilgex. So blaming the dirty marina water we moved outside to an anchorage opposite to let the breeze blow some clean air through the bilges and our nostrils.

3rd April
The plan had been to return to Les Saintes on our way back around the leeward side of Guadeloupe, on the way to Antigua, but on getting up in the morning the wind was very light. There was nothing for it but to start under power and hope for the wind to fill in later, but as we left the anchorage we looked to the southwest and saw, the as yet unvisited island of, Marie Galante.............................. We had been avoiding going there as previously it had always seemed a long and arduous beat to windward (do we sound a bit faint hearted ?), but now 20M motoring was much the same either south to Les Saintes or southwest to Marie Galante. And as luck would have it, the wind gradually picked up from the ENE until, halfway there was enough that we could cut the motor and sail.
Around 2 o'clock we were sailing along the west coast of the island........................ the sea was that beautiful translucent turquoise that we hadn't seen much of since the Grenadines. And we could see the bottom at 45 feet !!! By 3 we were entering the little harbour of Grand Bourg, the main town (or village) on the island. Our pilot book told us to expect a small marina with pontoons, but none was to be seen. In the basin where it should have been were a few boats anchored, or on moorings, but they didn't look much like visitors boats. We chose instead the larger basin used by local fishing boats where there was one other visitor, a catamaran. We dropped anchor in 10ft, brewed up a cup of tea and waited. We thought we'd give the harbourmaster the opportunity to redirect us to the visitors corner. Because Marie Galante is upwind of most of the other islands, and sailors are a laggardly bunch, visiting boats are as rare as hen's teeth there, and so apparently are harbourmasters ! We stayed two nights anchored in the harbour, nobody bothered us, and we might as well have been in an open anchorage.
On the next day we hired a car and drove around this small beautiful island. Being flatter than many, the land is more cultivated, the main products being sugar and rum.
We saw sugar cane growing everywhere and being harvested by modern tractors and trailers, but still in quite a few places we saw harvesting by hand, and transport by bullock carts. We tried to go on a tour of the Bellevue Rhum distillery but when we got there discovered it was mornings only, so we walked around outside and when nobody challenged us ventured inside. People were there working, but nobody spoke to us so we did our own tour, looking at the machinery and reading the posters on the wall. It was fascinating....................... the cane was chopped and pulped by a steam powered mill, the juice extracted sent to fermentation tanks, and then distilled. The impressive thing was, that the steam mill was powered by the dried waste fibres from the mill, and all other waste from the process was put back on the land to grow more sugar cane. So it appeared to be self powering with minimal waste........................ an exemplary industry. But as it was not officially open we didn't get the free tasting that was advertised. For those interested in the figures; 1 ton of sugar cane produces 120 litres of 50% rhum.