Monday, March 7, 2016


There is a small anchorage at the mouth of the little hole-in-the-wall bay, which is completely occupied by the Riviere Sens Marina. In order to clear the vessel into Guadaloupe on the west coast, everybody has to stop there and use the computer of one of the restaurants located in the marina.

There were two boats moored, and one big boat on anchor close to the entrance of the marina when we came. We turned around the small indentation of a beach, which was quite deep until very close to the shore, while the wind was blowing from West - Northwest. Al was reluctant to go too far into the beach in that kind of winds, so we anchored about 20 ft of water, not too far from one of the moored boats. Before we anchored, I tried to connect to the marina to see if we could get a berth for one night, to replenish our fuel and water. There was no response from the marina, so we had to venture anchoring in deeper and too-close-for-comfort conditions.

We left Ruyam II a little after the noon hour, in a hurry to clear in, and dingied to the marina  from the narrow channel. I spotted the fuel dock on the right side of the channel, right before the marina docks started, which were full to capacity. There was a seasoned French couple in a dingy in front of us so we thought we should follow them to the dingy dock. They went up to the launching pad at the far corner of the channel, and the lady got her oar in hand, getting close to the ramp. We shouted at them about a dock to tie, and she said "this is it". Whaat?

All the docks were connected to each other by bridges, so there seemed no way of getting into the marina. We went to the east wall (made of big boulders, sloping out) and came up to the bridge, which had a locked gate at the end. There were some guys loitering around the gate, so we asked if there was a dock for us. The young guy got hold of my painter, and pulled the dingy (hard) over the boulders, and tied it to the gate frame. He said "you're good to go". Again, whaat?  We used the boulders to step on to get to the dock.

Four years ago we had passed through this place, while the marina was being built (by a Canadian company no less). We had been helped the same way out of our dingy by an islander at that time over the same boulders, although the bridges and docks were not in place. Later on, we had gone by dingy to the north wall of the marina, where a nice dock had been installed in front of the strip of restaurants.

This time, since we had been tied already, we thought to get to the north side on foot, and deal with the clearing in, instead of bothering with the dingy into the unknown. On the way, we passed by the Capitainerie, and tried to speak with the dock master about water/fuel. The glass door was locked, and the inside deserted. It looked like a posh hotel entrance, very clean and airy.  No wonder, nobody seems to use it!

We found the restaurant which clearly advertised itself as the customs clearence site, however the lady attendant  said in her broken English "impossible". We must have shown despair, since she reluctantly smiled, and showed a small sign, denoting the customs clearing time; only between 15:00 and 18:00 hours. Al almost started an argument, but I interjected and assured her that we could come back. Apparently, she had only one computer, which she did not wish to be meddled with. She was the one entering the information, so needed the noon rush at the restaurant to be over.
She had "reason" in her mind, understandable.

We had about two hours to kill, so we thought of dropping in the fuel dock to see if we could get fuel early next morning, before starting north. We then realized that the ridiculous fuel dock could be used for tying the dingy, but the space behind it was too close to the boulders at various depths of its wall. Scary, but we had to tie the dingy there, and walk up ten steps and some distance to the actual fuel station at the top to find a body. There was an islander attendant at the office, who informed us that they would be open at 6:30 am and would allow us to get fuel, but it was self serve. So we had to tie the boat ourselves, get the attendant turn on the fuel pumps, and do the actual filling ourselves.

Can be done. In the meantime, we asked if they were also selling camper butane bottles, since we had finished one of ours, but had not been able to fill it in St Anne. Al is always nervous if we do not have at least two spare at the boat. Anyway, the attendant said he only had two left, so we should hurry to get it. We rushed back to Ruyam II, got the empty bottle, rushed back, and grabbed it. Al was happy, at least one thing accomplished, and we had killed almost an hour. Win-win.

After putting the bottle safely in the boat, we dingied back to the marina, this time using the western most channel leading up to the north wall, and found a spot to tie on the dock, which was almost covered by big boats tied stern-to. Tying the dingy was one thing, getting out of it onto the dock was another.  The new dock was built much higher this time, to accomodate big boats. Nobody cares about outsiders with dingies; maybe it is a safety issue.

We had half an hour to sit at the veranda overlooking our dingy, and have some refreshments. We had earned it running around like crazy. The lady got our clearance paper from Martinique, and some more information, and filled the thing herself. That was good. The best part of French islands is the ease with which clearing in and out can be accomplished. As a matter of fact it can be done at the same time, as long as you know which day you are leaving.

Al further asked her what was up with the marina office, and she said something in French (which we did not understand) and after deliberation she remarked that  they were "lazy". Okey, makes sense. VHF does not work, maybe the "capitain de port" has cell phones, and open up the shop when needed. All those boats must have come to the marina at some point in time, although most of them seemed to be long term residents.

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