UA-31290512-1

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bridge Lifts Before Daybreak

Yeah, my camera’s not too swift on night shots.
Bleary is a lot like blurry; we felt it did look this way, this early.

There’s shortcut from Guadaloupe’s midpoint, across to the island country of Antigua.  The tricky part?  Daybreak is at 6 am.  The bridge is too low for sailboats, and lifts to let them through only once daily, at 5 am from Pointe A Pitre.  The expectation is to queue up 15 minutes prior.

The bridge is also narrow; we talked another sailor with a larger boat out of taking his boat through as there was not enough clearance.  Plus, the river is very shallow, as little 7 feet deep, though in our boat’s case, our 4 1/2 foot draft left plenty of room to spare.

After passing through the bridge, we sat a bit
until it got a bit lighter.
We were up at 4:30 am (thanks to a new little alarm clock we bought the day before and set to be sure), anchor lifted and queued up by 4:45.  The bridge, actually two bridges right next to each other, lifted on one side.  We weren’t sure if it was done lifting.  We were the only boat.

“Allez!” shouted the bridge tender.  Allez?  Oh yeah, I remembered, that’s French for “Go!”  “Go!” I told Wayne.  We went.  Wayne’s eyeballs were blinded by the light from the first bridge, but he was still able to blindly feel his way past the adjacent bridge safely.

Later, our friends Lili and Tomaz asked, “Didn’t you see the light switch from red to green?”  “There was a red and a green light?” we asked, in unison.

Tired as we were, we still believe this was
the most glorious sunrise we've seen.
There was another bridge lift required to pass, 15 minute further down river. Though we’d figured it out by then, This time, the bridge tender urged us on in English, wishing us a good journey.

We pulled off, past the need for bridge lifts for the remainder of our passage, and waited for sunrise for better light to navigate.

The sunrise? The photos tell the story far better than I ever could!



Sunrise mellowed into periwinkle and pink pastels, as we
left the River Salee, entering the ocean separating us
from Antigua, about 40 miles away from that point.
Chris Doyle’s “Cruising Guide to the Leeward Islands” advises, “It’s best to think of the River Salee not as a shortcut, but as an adventure.”  We agree!