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Today was the home stretch for my latest trip, a short 24 mile hop from les Îles des Saintes into the main city of Point à Pitre and the Marina Bas du Fort. The winds had gone back to easterlies at 15-20 knots and although it was calm in my anchorage spot I knew it would be a quick trip across and from past experience I knew that the waves were always powerful between the Saintes and Guadeloupe.
I didn't want to get to the marina too early, so I took my time and didn't leave the anchorage until about 09:00 when I put two reefs in both sails and went on my way. The winds and waves were strong and I'm glad I postponed washing any salt off the boat since it all would have come back within minutes! I went from 8 knots to 10 knots in a rain shower to 0 knots for about 10 minutes after the shower had passed, which was really uncomfortable since the sails were flapping and the boat rocking in the big swell; but just as I was heading to the engine switch I saw the line on the water which meant that winds were coming back. There were a lot of fishing pots around to play dodge-em with and there was a new cardinal mark (a nautical "Danger!" sign) which wasn't on my chart and that made me nervous but by noon I was inside the channel and in calmer waters.
Now I really had my work cut out for me. Get out the fenders, tie the stern lines and remove the anchor chain from the windlass to replace with a long rode for the upcoming mediterranean moor The boat was soon prepared and I had to mentally settle myself since doing this alone wasn't going to be easy. I called on the VHF and soon got a response which I didn't understand but which I assumed meant that I should come in. The docks where I'd been before were full but the gent from the marina told me that I should drop my anchor by the fuel dock and reverse in. Great, this meant I'd need to put the chain back in the windlass and explain that the remote control system wasn't functional and I'd have to run forward to drop chain. It took a while to get this done and I finally gave the remote to the marina guy (he could stand in his dinghy and reach my deck) while I reversed. We got the boat attached to the dock but an argument ensued with the 2 marina guys and someone in very rapid French and I think I agreed with the guy, my tight anchor chain posed a potential danger to boats as it spanned the entrance channel.
So I got to weigh anchor and then the marina guy told me to follow him in his dinghy and I had to reverse into a very narrow channel and even narrower slot onto "B" dock, where I was the only sailboat! This was my most difficult parking job ever and I was glad of the bow thruster and the assistance I had from the marina guys. After a bit of juggling I managed to get in without damaging my boat, or either of the powerboats beside me, or entangling my keel or rudder in any of the numerous lines around! After that drama I changed into a shirt that wasn't sweat-soaked and went into the marina to pay for the berth and to do my entrance clearance into Guadeloupe.
I'd forgotten that while my boat is a European 220V version, the power cord has a US adapter on it and I had to get out the tools and multimeter and replace the shore side connector. The first attempt was bad; I hadn't thought about the marine colour coding where the black wire is not the ground (it is the green wire, for those who are interested) but after a while I had it figured out and fired up the A/C aboard. Then I used the adapter I'd purchased while clearing in to connect my hose and gave the decks a good wash down. Then the cockpit including bimini and dodger got the good news from me as well and once finished the cockpit actually looked clean for the first time in weeks. I cleaned up the wheels and winches before covering them and did a bit of stainless cleaning work but the sun was in the process of setting and my heart wasn't in it - I'll get rid of the rust tomorrow before my friends show up.
I opted for a 4-cheese pizza with a cold Caribe for dinner and then watched a further episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus before falling asleep.