Point a Pitre - Low points
So whilst we've enjoyed some of our stay here, the overall feeling has been pretty negative, I'd better explain why.
The weather. OK, not really related to the town, but we've had a week of windy wet weather and not much sun. I think that's unusual for here, and since we are on the low, windward side of the island, it's been better here than the other side of the mountains where we were in Deshaies. And it's better than January in the UK too, at least it's grey, wet and 27'C. Yet still it's strange how your expectations change and how quickly a week of rain dampens one's spirits.
The rolling. This port should be perfect, very sheltered from the wind and swell and close to the city. However, the city means people and boats - that means fishing boats, ferries, pleasure boats, cruise ships, freighters, pilot boats, other yachts a plenty - and all hours of the day and night. No one slows down much, so there's always wake and wash around. So we sit calmly at our anchor for five to ten minutes with next to no movement then bump bump bump, we get the wash from something or other. It slowly settles down, back to dead calm until the next one. I think this is worse than an anchorage with swell, at least that is rhythmic and predictable.
Costs. This place is expensive. The basic groceries aren't too bad but meat is very pricey, we try to avoid it in preference for fish, but sometimes the kids really want a simple meal of sausages and mash. More costs come from the availability of nice stuff. Good bread and pain chocolat means we are tempted by extra breakfast. French cheese is a bit too good to pass up, as is the wine, not expensive per se but you can buy a litre of good Antiguan rum for the price of two bottles of wine. Somehow each trip to the Supermarché seems to bust the budget. We need more self control really, so that's another thing that's not really the fault of Point a Pitre.
Not getting stuff fixed. I have a simple job needing done. The cooker swings on something called gimbals, basically pivots that allow it to move and stay level as the boat moves. Well, ours are aluminium and not strong enough. I want the same made up in stainless steel. Means cutting a small sheet, bending twice and drilling three holes. Not tough but that's the problem. Small jobs are not of interest when there's big boats a plenty needing big work. I spent a fruitless morning trailing around workshops and the best I got was someone who's mate in the place down the road could probably do it if I could get the raw material - which needs a five mile trip by road in a car I haven't got.
Laundry. Got directed to the nearest laundry by some helpful folks. Struggled with v.large bag of dirty stuff to a laundry about half a mile from the dinghy dock at the marina. Paid for laundry to be washed, dried and folded. Expensive c.f. Antigua, about 50% more. It would be ready at noon next day. 1pm next day, I go to collect, sorry, not ready, come back after three. Three thirty, with tired kids in tow, return to be told, nope, still not ready, tomorrow morning? Grrrrr. On my grumpy walk back to the dinghy, I notice a small sign for a laundry in the marina complex. It's a few yards from where we've tied up, and it's cheaper. Double grrrrr.
Internet. Bar with free internet a good excuse for a drink and get emails and banking done. In Antigua, this is the fabulous Mad Mongoose with drinks for a pound and good connections. Here, drinks are three quid and it, inexplicably, didn't work. Others around us seemed to be online OK but not us. And the kids were tired and grumpy so we quit without success. Very few internet enabled bars etc, but plenty of pay to surf, so we'll have to try that in the end.
The marina. It's huge, geared up to those with plenty of cash to spend, of course, as they have a business to run. We anchored near to some buoys outside, as our guide said we could, but they came out to tell us that we couldn't stay there. OK, the rules have changed so we moved. But we could take a buoy for 10 a night, which would give us showers and water too. A bargain we think, given that filling our water tanks costs about £10 in Antigua. So we agree to do that and pay our money, then go to the fuel dock and ask for the water. Oh no, that's not here, that's over there, the marina and fuel dock might be in the same place but are separate businesses. To get the water, we have to moor at the marina. That involves lots of fenders and a tricky manouvre involving reversing between other boats. Ah. With just Gesa, me and a reluctant thirteen tonnes of Ty Dewi, it's a recipe for bending our boat or other peoples - the very reason we avoid marinas in the first place. No free water for us then. But at least we get a hot shower. Nope. The ladies is OK, hot water if you keep your elbow on the 'switch off in two seconds' push button for the shower. Gents are made of stronger stuff, so only cold water in there. Max was not amused.
No swimming. There's no real beach near here, and the harbour is probably perfectly clean but looks a bit more green than we are used to so no one has had a swim in five days. That's a big deal in our family now.
Tomorrow we go to Les Saintes, a supposedly beautiful group of islands just off the tip of Guadeloupe. We hope they are more restful. We loved Deshaies, and have had a great drive around the island, so Guadelopue will retain fond memories for us, but we'll not be back at Point a Pitre anytime soon if we can help it. Oh the ups and downs of life in paradise.
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