Monday, May 22, 2017

1981 (1) - Iles des Saintes Encore

Acrylic Painting, 16" x 20",  Street Scene, in the Iles des Saintes.

To go to the beginning of this book, Tropic Moon: Memories, click HERE.

After the holidays, we continued living in Maya Cove.  Staying in one place for a while meant more boat work, and Ed decided to have a new stainless steel bow pulpit made for Tropic Moon.  Ed went to Mike Masters, at Nautool Machine, Ltd.  Mike had fashioned our new propeller shaft, as well as constructing the support structure for Ulysses, our wind vane.  Ed lent a hand with the bow pulpit; he’d long had an interest in learning machining and welding.  Ed offered to work full-time for Mike, like for a year.  Mike turned Ed down because he wanted to hire a master machinist.  Mike flew up to Canada to interview some people.  Ed was disappointed but, in any case, we needed to make another run south.

The photo that provided inspiration for the painting.
I substituted flowers for the laundry on the fence.

In March 1980, when we were cruising down island, we met William and Katherine Slater.  They were vacationing at the Hotel Bois Joli in the Iles des Saintes.  (Perhaps you remember my writing of "quiche, Vivaldi and stars"?)  We had kept in touch with the Slaters, and were aware that they were returning to the Hotel Bois Joli for spring break this March.  In their last two letters, they’d mentioned they’d like to see us again.  We decided to make the passage down to the Saintes to rendezvous with them. 

View of the town.  Note small airport runway in the right of the picture.

We planned to sail direct from Tortola to the Saintes, and anticipated a long trip of about four days, since a good part of the passage would be beating to windward.  It was about 225 seagull miles in distance.  I guess you could say we lucked out (at least, in my opinion!), because we left Tortola early morning in a calm.  We decided to motor due east toward St. Maarten, to get as much easting as possible out of the way before the wind returned. 

Fourteen hours later ... when we were only two hours shy of St. Maarten, where we had decided to put in for the night rather than continue motoring, the wind finally picked up.  We raised the sails, fell off to starboard to fill them, and headed S-SE along the island chain, directly toward the Saintes.  We were becalmed again in the lee of Guadeloupe (we always got becalmed in the lee of that island), and spent a good part of our second night motoring.  We arrived in the Saintes, which are just south of Guadeloupe, at 9:00 a.m., only 50 hours and 250 miles after leaving Tortola.  As a matter of fact, the only tacking we did on the passage was in our approach to the Saintes. 

A poster I made from a photo taken from
the veranda at the Hotel Bois Joli.

We had anticipated having a day to settle in, and clean up the boat before William and Katherine arrived.  As we were dropping our anchor, the small hotel ferry passed us on its way to town - with them aboard.  All four of us waved and called out greetings.  I had horrid misgivings that we'd arrived at the end of their vacation, instead of the beginning, and imagined we'd have to wait till afternoon for them to return to the hotel to find out. But in less than an hour I heard a pounding on our hull and looked down from the deck to see William afloat below.  He came aboard.  We learned they'd just arrived that morning - and would stay for ten days.  William was so excited to see us that once they had finished picking up food in town for a picnic lunch, he left Katherine trailing behind, and hurried on foot over the hills back to the hotel.  He quickly changed, and swam out to the boat.  Katherine showed up about a half hour later. 

Street Scene.  Detail.

Our ten days together passed quickly.  Someone (usually William) went into town each day to buy food for lunch.  Picnic lunches on the beach included French bread, pate, tomatoes and bananas.  We all went into town on Mardi Gras Day to watch the island’s small parade.  Twice they came to Tropic Moon for dinner.  The first time, I fixed chicken cacciatore on macaroni, a salad, French bread, and an apple pie.  The second time I cooked French onion soup and eggplant quiche, with a salad, and banana bread for dessert.  Other nights, we enjoyed dinners with them at the hotel.  It was fun to share their vacation with them - sailing one of the hotel's sunfish around the bay, swimming, and studiously working on our tans.  William called it a fantasy time.  Both he and Katherine hated heading back to their university teaching jobs, and the winter weather around Toronto.

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