Easter is a popular time for a long weekend away on board and nowhere more so than the Iles des Saintes. Luckily we had arrived early for the 'caravanning on water' weekend and had secured ourselves a lovely mooring buoy off the Islet de Cabrits - not everyone was quite so lucky...
As we enjoyed a little quiet contemplation on deck, we noticed that two yachts were honing in on the only spare buoy, located just in front of us. Team A was the two young men on their small mono hull. Team B was a catamaran with some “more mature” couples on board. As the two yachts battled up our port and starboard sides, their target in site, Team B made the buoy first, but at a rate that was never going to work. One of the crew made a valiant effort to pick up the buoy with the boat hook at 5 knots, but sensibly backed off fairly quickly. Their skipper made a quick 180, but was then confounded to find Team A trying to capture the buoy A very heated exchange then took place (I am sure I need to learn more French swear words!) with both teams forcing their yachts into very close quarters, waiting to see who would give way. Team B managed to make their superior girth felt and captured the buoy. Team A made a less than graceful exit, even returning later to hurl more abuse at Team B.
Things calmed down for a little while in the anchorage and we used the time to make popcorn ready for the next round of entertainment – enter the family catamaran. Dad positions his catamaran on the approach to the buoy, hands over the helm to his wife, grabs the boat hook and heads for the bow. Dad grabs for the buoy, misses, drops the boat hook overboard and then promptly falls off the back of the yacht himself ! He shouts from the water for his wife to stop the boat (quickly I would suggest!) while he swims around, climbs aboard and makes attempt number two. He manages to hook the buoy this time and then disappears below – probably to down a large rum whilst changing into dry clothes.
The following day, another buoy becomes available !! You can almost hear the yachts anchored outside of the buoyed area discussing how quickly they can get their anchors up and swoop in. This time, Team C nips in with the dingy and ties a fender to the buoy, hoping this will secure it for long enough for them to get back in their yacht. No chance ! Team D zooms in, pretends not to see the fender and is securely tied up to the buoy by the time Team C arrives on the scene. A rather calm exchange then takes place (surprising) and Team C makes a graceful exit with their reclaimed fender. This latest experience has not gone unnoticed by the other yachts anchored outside of the zone and when the next buoy becomes available a more fail safe approach is applied. This time the hopeful yacht sends the dinghy on ahead to claim the buoy and remain in place until the yacht arrives. A much less confrontational method, albeit a little stressful for the guy in the dinghy trying to secure his position from the water until the 'big boat' arrives.
These kind of situations provide a fantastic insight into the behaviour of sailors and provide our version of television. However, we ensured we didn't put on our smug faces as we watched events unfold – it could well be us in the situation next time ! Happy Easter everyone.