Ghost on to Guadeloupe

We sailed south past Nevis as late afternoon faded into early evening. Lights began to appear on Nevis as we reached the southern tip of the island where we took a more easterly heading to pass between Redonda and the northeast corner of Montserrat. I’d plotted a course to take us within a mile of Redonda’s western shore, but as we drew closer, I noticed our heading taking us right towards the middle of the island. Something seemed amiss! 
I sat down at the navigation station and pulled out all my charts for this section of the islands – two paper charts, my C-Map Vector charts, 2 different Raster Charts, and my Navionics charts. Four ENC’s, two paper charts, and no two agreed on the location of Redonda! Wow, just a bit unnerving. Fortunately the sky was lit with stars, and I could see the island clearly, an imposing hunk of pointy rock. All six charts agreed that shoal water extended about a half mile to the west, so I gave myself plenty of room, watched my distance off the island with radar, kept my depth over 100 feet, and we slid safely past. As it turned out, my Doyle Raster ENC’s and the corresponding paper chart were the most accurate.

Not to be used for Navigation
Not to be used for Navigation

I’d hoped to catch a glimpse of Soufriere Volcano, but the skies were dark with clouds when we reached the southern end of Montserrat. I could barely see the island though we were only a few miles off. As night wore on I passed close to several boats heading north, but each one was clearly visible on radar long before I saw them visually, so – no worries. I let Joy sleep blissfully through the night, once past Redonda, that is!
In the early morning, just as the sun was rising, we ghosted into Grand Cul de Sac Marin, the large horseshoe shaped bay on the north coast of Guadeloupe. We dropped anchor for a while to give both light and tide time to improve. Even though our new friends John and Jolanda assured us we could transit the Riviere Salee, I wanted to be on a rising tide approaching high as we crossed the shallowest point, right at the northern entry to the river. Sadly, we did not take photos as we navigated the northern section of the river. I was busy watching the depth sounder and the charts as we followed the river’s twists and turns down towards the first bridge. Our charts and guides both indicated moorings located near the first bridge, but there were none to be found. 
Not to be used for Navigation
Not to be used for Navigation

Three bridges span the river, one just north of the airport, and the other two just as the river enters into the southern bay. The bridges open once a day, the north one at 04:30, and the south at 05:00. That’s right, O Dark Thirty! I wondered why.
As we whiled away the day anchored in a small cove about a half mile from the bridge, we watched giant airliners float just above the river as they approached the western end of the runway. We saw an amazing volume of traffic on the 6 lane highway bridge. Now we understood the reason for the early opening. 
We set our alarm clock for 03:45, just time enough to wake up, raise the anchor, and motor cautiously to the bridge. Four boats were ahead of us, all French flagged, and I thought it wise to let the locals lead the way. The course that takes you through the first bridge is a tightly winding curve rounding a green lighted marker, then turning sharply to the right pass through the bridge, a very narrow opening, just wide enough for the cat boat ahead of us.
The Harbor at Point a Pitre
The Harbor at Point a Pitre

Around 6 AM we anchored outside Bas du Fort Marina, just in time to watch the sun rise.

Look Around the Harbor