Sunday, 23 March 2014

10/2014 Guadeloupe

Hi from Clare,                                                                Friday 21st March 2014

When last I wrote we were anchored in the lovely bay of Deshaies on the North West corner of Guadeloupe. Every day the numbers in the anchorage swell and contract as many boats travelling north and south along the island chain stop here. I think if we just stayed here we would catch up with lots of friends.


Views around the Botanical Gardens

We had an enjoyable evening with Salty Dawg American friends Mat, Tricia and daughters Cary and Ginny on "Music" plus three friends from other boats. As the evening progressed Cary and Ginny played the cornet and the clarinet and we had a sing along. They certainly lived up to the name Music as they had a comprehensive repertoire and even knew the words to Waltzing Matilda. Tricia is a fabulous cook and so we were well fed with homemade pizza and delicious carrot cake.

On Friday we walked a kilometre and a half up the mountain to visit the Guadeloupe Botanical Gardens. It was a therapeutic trip to escape from the blue and white of sea life and fest our eyes on greenery and vivid colours. The gardens were beautifully laid out with fish ponds, a bird enclosure, a pond with pink flamingo, waterfalls and lovely plants and trees from all over the world. Australia was represented by two Norfolk Pines from the Norfolk Islands. I was hoping to see a gum tree, but no. It cost $25 for Adults and $15 for children under 12 years which I thought was a bit expensive particularly for a family outing. However, the place was packed as there was a school excursion; goodbye to tranquillity.

The following day we went for a 2 kilometre walk to the surf beach. We spent a pleasant afternoon watching how the French do it. There was a lovely shady area at the back of the beach where many families enjoyed a BBQ and a few drinks. Some had guitars and played softly; others attached hammocks to trees and relaxed with a book. We watched a young family on the beach with three children. The girl was about three and twins that were just walking. The father took both the twins into the water one at a time. He held them high up and then he submerged himself under the water. All we could see was his arms out of the water with the baby suspended. He did this a few times with the baby watching and then he dunked the baby completely under the water. The baby came up spluttering a bit but squealed with delight and strained every little muscle to get back under the water again. It was a joy to watch as clearly both children loved the water.

Deshaies River walk and Main square in Pointe-a-Petrie

We commenced but did not complete the River Walk. This takes two to three hours and consists of scrambling over or jumping from rock to rock along a river bed. We expected to find a track next to the river but it was thick bush on both sides. We gave up after half an hour as I was wearing thongs and was concerned about slipping off a rock and spraining an ankle. So we had a swim in one of the fresh water rock pools instead which was lovely and refreshing and much more civilized.

Dinghy dock and Main street of Bourg, des Saintes
On Monday we caught the bus and had a hair rising trip along the north coast to the town of Pointe-a-Pitre. We sat in the front seat of a huge coach so we could have a good view. The road was hilly and wound around the coastline. The driver drove like a maniac, blowing the horn and waving to his many friends. At times it was quite terrifying as the wheels of the bus were behind us and so the front of the bus hung over a drop before the buss turned the corner; all I could do was close my eyes and try and relax. (It reminded me of a bus trip we had around the hills on the Greek Isle of Simi when a passenger made the sign of the cross at every corner). The ride home was better as we caught a smaller bus and sat further back. The good news is, the trip took one hour and forty five minutes and so we saw a bit of the country side. The town of Pointe-a-Pitre was fairly unremarkable.

We sailed south down the west coast of Guadeloupe and stopped at Pigeon Island. The main attraction is the Cousteau Underwater Park. We went for a snorkel, the fish were pretty but there was no coral. We decided to move on as the boats in the anchorage were rolling. We planned to call into the township of Basse-Terre on the southern tip of the island but by the time we got there is was blowing 30 knots. There was nowhere safe to leave the boat and getting ashore by dinghy would have been very difficult.
We put two reefs in the main and hoisted the storm jib to go around the southern corner and beat to windward across the five mile channel to Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe. We have been here before in 2012 and it is lovely to come back. We are in the very quiet anchorage of Pain de Sucre which is a short dinghy ride into town. The cruise ships come and go and the businesses in town open in time to cater for the huge influx of tourists.
We know a number of boats here from the Salty Dawg Rally, the OCC net or people we have met along the way. Some of them are travelling the same direction as us and so we won't be short of company.

We are not sure how long we will stay here but our next stop will be the island of Dominica. Our cruising friends speak highly of this island and so we are looking forward to the adventure.

Love Candy xx

At 2:17 PM20/03/2014 (utc) our position was 15°51.69'N 061°36.08'W

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: