Brian and Lynn Tonkin's seven week vacation tour commencing 13th March 2010

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Now on to Saint Barts
A restful night, then a sumptuous breakfast served by the Cerulean crew, Alan and Liz Weeks. This is sheer luxury. The Tonkin party discuss their options and decide to get ferried ashore, rent a car and explore St Barts. In due course we pay a high price for a small and rather shabby car (all the French islands we visited on this cruise proved to be quite expensive), and then we are on our way. I nominated myself as driver given that I've been driving on the "wrong side of the road" for the last four days now and have party acclimatised.

The traffic proves to be confusing, chaotic and very threatening on the skinny and winding roads where every oncoming driver has a kamikaze technique. Matt was sitting in a "safe" seat meaning that he couldn't really comprehend that oncoming cars were only giving me two centimetres of clearance space because I was staying as far away as possible from cliff faces and sheer drops on the passenger side. In spite of my heroic and generous concern for Matt's safety he crushed me by saying, "I don't want you to take this badly but I'm never going driving with you ever again in a left hand drive vehicle!". That really hurt.

In order to reduce the stress level I parked in a ridiculously dangerous but typically Gallic niche in a cliff and we all climbed out, dodged some traffic and made our way onto Plage de St Jean, a rather pretty sandy beach, tripped over some nude sunbathers, then jumped jumped into the gorgeous azure blue water.

Who's this good sort on Plage de St Jean?

St Jean's beach on island of St Barts

We continued our drive around the island and happened upon a cafe with tables literally on a sandy beach. After a simple meal, a glass of wine and a wriggling of toes in the cool sand under the table we continued on with our island exploration until it was time to refill the tank at some incredible number of euros per litre and hand back the rental car. We then used a hand held radio to summon Cerulean's inflatable tender which duly arrived at the quay within minutes. One could easily get used to this level of convenience!

A tranquil coastal scene on St Barts

O'Corrail Cafe on beach in St Barts

St Kitts, Nevis and Les Saintes
Back on board, we dove over the side for a refreshing dip before heading off on a two hour sail to the English speaking island St Kitts where we dropped anchor for some snorkelling and an overnight stay. Cerulean is a very fast sailing vessel indeed and usually gets along at 8 to 13 knots. And as our route through the islands has been optimised to suit prevailing winds we rarely need to do any tacking. A few glasses of wine and some tasty snacks whilst we watch the setting sun in the serenity of a deserted bay completes our rather exciting day. It's very hard going but someone's gotta do it.

Rich man's toy tied to quay in St Barts

Skipper Alan and Liz our chef de cuisine

Next day we continue island hopping passing Nevis and then Monserrat, the island which was two thirds destroyed by volcanic activity over the last 15 or so years. As we glide by the volcanic smoke and paths of lava are clearly visible. Our destination today is a small group of French islands called Les Saintes which are off the tourist beaten track but are quite charming. Once again Alan hands us a radio and then drops us on shore to explore the main island and find a nice place for dinner. I managed to get a wet bum on the way to shore and my third best pair of dinner shorts look a little scuffy given that we're carrying the responsibility of representing all anglo peoples in this tiny piece of the French Empire. Not to worry.... by walking backwards and bidding all and sundry "Bon Soir" nobody notices my shorts and we seem to blend nicely into this small dot of rock... or so it seems after we get a few strong rum cocktails under belts. On the subject of rum, it's incredibly cheap here in the Caribbean and even a near teetotaller (!!) like myself could easily run off the rails

Matt catches a quarter barracouta. Shark gets the rest!

Our well bred neighbour at anchor in Les Saintes

Rum is everywhere and cheap. Want a 6 litre drum?

Harbourside beach in Les Saintes

Brian makes a friend in Les Saintes boutique

Dive bombed by flocks of frigate birds in Les Saintes

Attractive but timid young belles in Les Saintes

And now for some shopping on tiny Les Saintes

Let's have some evening cocktails here

One of our neighbours sets sail for who knows where

We ended our day with a very ordinary restaurant meal at a rather high price after figuring euro price in Aussie dollars. Well that's enough eating, drinking and shopping for one afternoon. We hail the ever reliable Alan on the hand held VHF radio. Then we stand on a jetty gazing up at a pitch black sky scattered with the brightest stars we've ever seen whilst we await Alan's pick-up. It's been a very romantic afternoon and evening on one of the tiny islands in the the Iles des Saintes group.