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Guadeloupe – the final chapter

Guadeloupe – the final chapter

We had just had a lovely light wind sail over to Marie-Galante, which is a round island just south of mainland Guadeloupe, on the lookout for some crystal turquoise waters we went to Anse de Mays, an anchorage on north west of the island.

It looked very picturesque so after anchoring I took the waterproof camera and jumped in. Immediately I was greeted with some of the most inquisitive fish I’ve come across. Later I found out they are juvenile Highfin Amberjacks and all they wanted to do was say hello and follow me around🐟 they were so friendly I could almost touch them.

There was also a huge shoal of Bigeye Scad, and swimming through them I was engulfed in little fishies! It was really quite cool.

A few other things were starfish, a gold spotted eel, and a perfect sand dollar.

The next day we went for a sail, probably in the least wind we’ve ever sailed in! Was about 3knots of wind, we were able to pull up anchor without the engine, hoist sails and get going though, probably thanks to our ultra clean new antifouling gliding through the water!

We pootled along at 1.5knots and really enjoyed the tranquility, we could see every starfish on the bottom and Hannah Penn’s shadow on the seabed was really cool too.

Even had a go standing on the bowsprit whilst sailing.

During the sail we kept hearing loud splashes but could never see what was making them, I had to go and investigate, Adam kept sailing I leapt in with snorkel and flippers, it didn’t take long to see huge sea turtles swimming around, I took hold of a line out the back of the boat and got towed along whilst looking at these magical creatures 🐢

We eventually arrived at the next anchorage, which was only about 3miles away and I think it took us about 2.5hrs and got ready to go to land, there wasn’t much to do there but there was a fun looking bar which had some very tasty fruit cocktails 🍹
We took a table in the sunshine and the bar dog came and laid down next to us in the sand, a few moments after getting our drinks a brave little Bananaquit bird came to try and steal the sugar off the rim of my glass!

We realized Björn and Linda off SV Sirena were in the bar sitting behind us, we didn’t really know them so thought we’d say hi, and had a lovely time chatting before heading back to Hannah for dinner.

The next day our plan was to go to an anchorage called Petite Terre.

It was on a reserve so we needed to book and pay in advance, we sailed over in very nice conditions, not much swell or waves and a little wind, which we thought was going to be perfect for the approach. This anchorage is notorious for dangerous approach conditions due to breaking waves across the entrance to a lagoon like area protected from reefs on the east side

So we arrived and got our sails down and engine on ready to go in about a mile out, we could see though that the little swell that was outside was growing in size due to the shallower waters around the little island and the effect of the wind coming from the other direction whipping up the waves into steep peaks.

We were counting the swells coming in and watching from afar to see if we could get in, in-between the waves which were really quite large, we inched closer to find most of these waves were breaking all the way across the entrance and quickly looked behind us to see what was coming

At that moment we both thought the wave bearing down on us was far too big to purposefully surf down so we quickly spun the boat around and throttled down to ride up the wave, it was quite an adrenaline-filled moment as we both held on as Hannah Penn’s nose rose up, we reached the peak and smashed down the other side dipping the whole bow under the water before popping back up again

And at that point, we agreed it was a terrible idea to continue going in so we put our sails back up and headed out.. this time not back to Guadeloupe but to Antigua!!

Guadeloupe, Haul in

Guadeloupe, Haul in

Today’s the day! Haul in day. (Or rather March 7th was the day)

We were a little nervous because only a few days earlier another boat had been dropped out of the slings onto the concrete floor as they were hauling in, but we placed the slings exactly where I wanted them and not long later Hannah Penn was being lifted and driven to the launch spot.

We had fenders at the ready but it all went smoothly, we weren’t quite ready to leave yet so after we were in the water we rafted up next to SV Danae who were due to be hauled out in a couple of days.

The main thing we wanted to do was tidy the boat which still had tools everywhere! And make sure the rudder stuffing was no longer leaking.. it wasn’t! Yay

After a night there we were set and headed off to the mooring buoys across the estuary from the marina, but on the way out I went to put the autopilot on and it didn’t work..

A quick skip back to right before getting hauled out.. we were sailing toward the marina and the autopilot made the wheel jolt quickly, sitting in the cockpit I didn’t think much of it immediately as it seemed like we were maintaining a straight course and the wheel was turning only very slightly from side to side as normal, but after a few minutes when I clicked a button to alter course, nothing happened.

The autopilot was still making a noise but wasn’t engaged with the wheel. After turning it all off an on again and it still not engaging there wasn’t much to do as we were being hauled out that day anyway. I decided to lock the wheel off and continue sailing, at that point Hannah Penn was lovely and balanced so we didn’t veer off course, we were about an hour out from dropping sails anyway.

Skip forwards and we were hauled out, and checked the autopilot which started working perfectly again, we thought ok, we’ll keep playing with it on land and if it stops working we will look into it further and if it keeps working we’ll leave it. Well, it kept working so didn’t give it another thought.

Back to the present and the autopilot failing. It was time to do some serious troubleshooting.
Hannah Penn has an Autohelm Type 1 chain drive motor which is a heavy-duty motor that connects to a large cog ⚙️ on one of the rods which runs back to the rudder. It has two pairs of cables running to it, two of which are for power, and the other two went to the brains of the autopilot and told the motor to engage/ disengage the clutch inside.

The port cockpit locker had to be emptied and the inside locker walls half dismantled along with the prop shaft lubricant applicator removed before being able to access the motor.

Finally, we were in and some greasy awkward positions later the chain was removed from the drive cog, motor, and wiring removed and the whole thing was out in the cockpit.

We soon found the problem, an easily fixable corroded connection which tells the motor to engage and disengage the clutch. Thankfully it was not too serious but we were very glad we fixed it on a nice stable mooring and not under sail halfway across an ocean!

So with it all back together, we could enjoy the rest of our time in Guadeloupe.

We had such lovely conditions sailing to our next anchorage on the island of Marie-Galante that Adam got in the dinghy and took some pics whilst I tacked back and forth in front of him.

Haul out time in Guadeloupe

Haul out time in Guadeloupe

Our short time in Dominica came to an end. We had scheduled to meet Teulu Tribe before reaching mainland Guadeloupe, and needed to get going ASAP!

The small islands to the south of Guadeloupe, known as Les Saintes would be where we meet Teulu. They are a breathtakingly beautiful and unspoiled archipelago. Comprising two main islands, Terre-de-Haut and Terre-de-Bas, and several smaller islets, these tiny islands are renowned for their stunning beaches, turquoise waters, and colorful Creole-style homes.

We managed to anchor right next to Teulu in the bay, although the anchoring situation was rather confusing. You are anchoring in around 17m of depth, and the winds and tides swirl around the islands so boats can often end up pointing in all different directions. We were right on the edge of the island and were often 90 degrees to Teulu. Getting the anchor back up from a depth of nearly 20m was very hard work!

Having chatted with them over the past few months via Instagram but only just managing to cross paths, and only for one evening, we crammed lots of boat and adventure chat in.

The next morning we set off before dawn to Point-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe, despite knowing we were on some sort of “waiting list” for getting hauled out, no one had told us what to expect, so we wanted to get there in plenty of time.

Arriving at the marina we first tried to contact them via VHF, but struggled to communicate with whoever was on the other end and ended up mooring at the fuel dock. At the fuel dock, we used the phone to call the marina office to ask what we needed to do and where we needed to go. There was lots of confusion about who we were and if we could get hauled out for some time.

Eventually, they told us to go and speak to the manager of the boatyard, so we hopped in the dinghy and headed over. He let us know that we needed to get some paperwork from the marina (including checking in) before he could haul us out, but that he might be able to haul us out in the afternoon! 👌

We chased the paperwork around for a little while, returning with the needed forms before lunch, and he let us moor up near the boat yard alongside some other boats to wait for our haul out.

Hannah Penn looking rather small next to a very big cat

After lunch they were ready and we managed to get hauled out around 3 pm.

It was slightly nerve-wracking doing this in a foreign country with French as the first language, as neither of us really speaks French, and you always worry about communication going wrong.

We really should have done all of the lines ourselves for getting into the bay to get hauled out as one of the guys on land really made a meal of our plan.

Once in the haul-out area, the straps went in the wrong places a few times despite trying to guide the crane operator to the right place, but eventually, we were lifted!

Next was the worryingly rocky journey to the other edge of the yard where we would be for the coming week or so.

And touchdown! After getting them to alter one of the keel wood supports (which to start with we were hanging off the side of) all was good.

We hired a petrol pressure washer from a tool shop in the boat yard and got to work blasting off all growth. As we knew we were hauling out we had let this build up a little more than in previous months.

Tada, clean boat!

And you can really see where we have been wearing through the anti-foul on the bow. In total this section probably had 6-8 coats of anti-foul in June 2022.

We checked into an Airbnb, and the rest of our land activities will be in a future post!