I haven't written an update for a week now, such are the demands of sailing en famille. But now we are south of Guadeloupe, moored up in the Iles Saintes, and everyone is settled in.
Initially we had a couple of days in Antigua dealing with a generator fuel leak, a watermaker electrical problem and an outboard gearbox issue. The delay meant that I had to go back to Customs and Immigration in English Harbour and spend another hour re-registering our departure and paying more fees.
We set out on a brief sail one day, but everyone was seasick, and so I curtailed it to go snorkelling on Horseshoe Reef in Willoughby Bay. Emily had the amazing expérience of being circled by two large Spotted Eagle Rays !
So for our trip to Guadeloupe I chose to leave at midnight with all in their bunks, and we arrived as dawn broke in Deshaies, with 35 knots of wind and a big swell behind us. The little town was being hammered by the waves crashing onto the buildings overhanging the water, sending big spray into the air. However we watched dinghies head to a landing stage, and soon followed suit to complete entry formalities. These were done online in the colourful environment of Le Pelican souvenir shop, where I just had to type in all the passport details for 8 crew, and pay €4! Lottie then helped me select a pair of bright red swimming trunks, more suited to the vibrant colours of the Caribbean, and a dry bag capable of taking my laptop ashore more securely.
Kate took the children to a nearby beach, Mark climbed the Grande Morne, and I spent the day dealing with admin and stuff on board. In the big swell I was feeling thoroughly seasick by the time Emily reappeared in the dinghy at 5 pm and took me ashore to have supper in a little pizzeria overlooking the flaming sunset.
Everyone seemed to cope OK with our very rolly anchorage, and the following morning rose for breakfast of fresh baguettes, pain au chocolat, croissants etc. collected by Ruth and Shim n the morning bread run.
Then we headed south to Pigeon Island in the Jacques Cousteau Nature Reserve. Moorings were for smaller boats than we, so while some snorkelled, Mark kept station with Tin Tin. The water was wonderfully clear in the deep water, but as we swam closer to the rocks the waves were churning everything up. We saw lots of brightly coloured fish, however, and it was most enjoyable.
Then we carried on south, passing La Soufriere volcano, visibly steaming, with its leeward cone burnt and devoid of vegetation. The lighthouse at the southern tip of Guadeloupe is set picturesquely against a little village, and Lottie and I spent the afternoon on the foredeck sketching it and everything that passed.
Leaving the shelter of the mountains we roared across to the Iles Saintes (named Ilos Santos by Columbus) in a warm tropical gale and picked up a mooring off the little village of Bourg des Saintes. It was so picturesque at 3 in the afternoon, and Lottie and I sat sketching the brightly coloured cottages, palm trees and boats. She has a very good eye for detail.
So we have caught up a couple of lost days of my original schedule, and will now explore these lovely isles for a few days before heading north again to Antigua.