4 Mar 2011

[Captains Blog] Point a Pitre, Guadeloupe

Dolphins are like number 11 buses - you don't see one for several weeks, and then several come by in quick succession. We have seen three pods now, each one larger than the last, coming within the space of 8 days. Yesterday we had the largest pod yet pass us by on our way through to Les Saintes where we went to anchor only to find the anchor circuit had failed and we couldn't drop the hook. After failing to get the circuit working again, we managed to get onto a water buoy (where you tie up to refill your tanks) where we stayed the night.  

Anyway, back to the pod, there were close to 100 or more dolphins together and we managed to capture some of them on video film which was a real bonus.  On one of our recent journeys up the leeward side of the island where the waters were calmer, we were blessed with a pod that swam by us leaping out of the water right alongside the cockpit. It was almost as though they wanted to get a good look at us as they passed, and having achieved that, they were on their way in search of food. For the few seconds that they graced us with their company, it was a magical sight.  Debra was also lucky enough to see another whale off the coast of Martinique - well the tail flukes at least - but I missed that being on helming duty at the time.

The same can be said for the elusive 'green flash' that comes as the sun disappears over the horizon. Most people don't know it is there, but we have seen it several times and we never tire of looking for it. It is one of those 'blink and you miss it' events but it really does exist, and the sun turns from orange/red to bright green just for an instant, then it is gone behind the horizon and you are back to the orange hue it leaves behind. The speed of the descent towards the water is also remarkable at this latitude - it takes about one minute from the time that the bottom of the sun touches the horizon, to disappearing behind it completely. 

For those out there that like geography, the topography of these volcanic islands is utterly stunning. Valleys that are so steeply sided that they look as though the island has been split by the forces welling up under the earth's crust are numerous; the lava flows that have been reclaimed by the lush green vegetation but that I can imagine making their molten way down the sides of the volcanoes can still be seen in striking detail. In addition to this amazing landscape, the superb waterfalls, hot springs, boiling lakes, and sulphur pools that smell of rotten eggs all add to the wonderful field trip we are on. Isn't nature amazing? I feel very privileged to have seen it like this.

Shame about the technology, the boat seems to be jinxed and we have had more than our fill of problems. This one involves the circuit that only operates when the engine is running (i.e. the anchor windlass and the bow thruster) which narrows it down a bit, but it is beyond my electrical capabilities. Incidentally, the more I think about it, the one thing you absolutely need to function if the engine fails for any reason is the anchor winch so that you can get yourself stable and out of trouble. It needs to be altered. Whoever thought of tying the anchor control into the alternator output circuit obviously wasn't a sailor. We've had to go to a marina in Point a Pitre to get the circuit repaired as we cannot anchor manually which is a real bind, and moorings appear to be non-existent on Guadeloupe so that's where we headed this morning. Afternoon relaxing, waiting for the man who might never arrive to fix the electrics ....