14 || Jobs, Wrecks & Asking the time...
Friday 6th March Ilse des Saintes - Guadeloupe
We cast off our mooring buoy at 09:30 under just the jib. It was a gentle 24 mile sail to windward from Terre-De-Haut to Pointe a Pitre. We anchored on the edge of the shipping channel just outside Bas-du-Fort Marina. The harbour looked very similar to Felixstowe. We felt at home with the cranes and the hustle and bustle of the container ships and passenger liners, although on a much grander scale than we are used to.
We stayed on board that afternoon putting the boat to bed and making a list of jobs and supplies. Iain was very excited as this marina was a great place for chandleries and all things boat related.
The finishing point for the French Transatlantic races, so anything, and everything can be sources here. We were definitely going to be ticking off more jobs from The List!
Iain was fascinated by the outer harbour. It seemed boats are brought here to die. There were a number of vessels abandoned at anchor or on the shoreline after hurricane damage. Very sad to see but also reminiscent of Pin Mill during the 1970s.
In amongst the decay, was an all female youth sailing club out racing in a selection of Lasers and we spent a couple of hours watching them dodge in and out of the boats. They were having fun and so were we watching and speculating who was going to win.
Our hectic life was catching up on us. Iain had a cold and felt quite unwell. We were going to have a quiet couple of days. On Sunday morning Iain dropped me at the town fishing harbour and I found my way to Church. There were two wonderful buildings, I was keen to see both. I visited Notre Dame Cathedral first but heard mass in the local church of St Peter and Paul. The church was packed with the local congregation dressed in their Sunday best. All the children scrubbed, and wearing what we would term bridesmaid’s dresses. It was lovely. As always, the choir were enthusiastic and the singing infectious. At the end of mass, we sang Happy Birthday to all who celebrated a birthday during the week and the visitors were invited to stand to receive a hearty round of applause! These two gestures have occurred all through the Caribbean, and on this occasion, on my own, I grinned thinking of the number of times the crew and our family had accompanied me and were forced to stand for the welcome, as none of them could blend in! So unlike any service we have attended at home.
Iain agreed to meet me at the marina dinghy dock after mass, which was about a two mile walk along the dockside road. I was enjoying some time away from the boat and being on land. As I began my walk, I past a bakery with a queue which stretched outside the shop. I joined the end, as clearly this was the place to buy a baguette and fresh pastries.
It seems the docks are always the most run down areas in any port we visit, which makes the walk interesting. The buildings were a mixed bunch of homes, shops and warehouses. There were a few little stalls outside people’s homes selling home grown produce of all shapes and sizes and at differing stages of decay. I walked slowly to breath in the atmosphere of this little town. I wanted to take photographs of the very different way of living but felt this could feel intrusive and rude to the inhabitants.
I turned a corner close to the railway, and there were several buildings which looked like small shops under the railway arches with people sitting outside. All were busy. Men, smoking, hanging out, talking and watching the world go by. Ladies were chatting and laughing all dressed in colourful outfits. Some had clearly just woken up as they were in their dressing gowns. Secretly, I wished I could be that comfortable with myself, to seize the moment, and enjoy the morning sun and a chat with friends without a second thought for appearance. I was enjoying the stroll. People said hello, lots asked where I was going and why I was there. I explained I’d been to mass and was making my way back to my husband with fresh cakes for breakfast. Some ladies giggled. How lovely I thought! Why are people not this relaxed at home? I walked on. Eventually, the penny dropped. It was a very friendly street, perhaps a different kind of friendly on a Saturday night, but on a Sunday morning, the street had a certain charm all of its own.
Iain was waiting patiently for me at the marina dingy dock and was not surprised at my local encounters on the other side of the railway track.