Posts Tagged ‘Dashaies’

The French Connection

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

We’ve moved to France!  Wasn’t that fast. Either my middle school geography teacher didn’t inform me or (and this is the most likely answer) I wasn’t listening in class!  Guadeloupe isn’t a country, it’s actually a department of France.

We sailed from Antigua last Sunday. W/ said she wanted to leave even if we couldn’t sail. We made a slight mistake of leaving the awnings up and figuring we would stow them in the am. In the am they were all dewy. But we said we were going to go so roll them up wet (they’ll be back up to dry soon) and haul the dinghy on board and get out of Antigua before the races start, they start right out front of the harbor.

We left with the threat of a drizzle and cloudy skies. We ended up  motoring for about 30 minutes and I felt we might be able to sail. We rolled out the Jib and shut the engine down. Yeah! We’re actually sailing, it’s quite and the motion is pleasant.  About 5 minutes later we’re still sailing so I figure “Why not”, and we put up the mainsail.

A Tayana V-42

A Tayana V-42

We see Lola (A Tayana V-42) in the distance and call them on the VHF. They’ve been motor sailing (they left about an hour before us) and they’re thinking of putting up more sails and shutting down the engine. Squalls seem to built to the E of us but never make it here. Although the wind does and by midday we’re sailing in 15k of wind on a beam to broad reach. We catch Lola and do a photo shoot.

I was told that near Guadeloupe the Winds increase significantly so as we approach and find the wind speed increasing we decide to play it safe and drop the mainsail. We sail the rest of the way to Deshais, Guadeloupe

Mouth of the River Deshaies

Mouth of the River Deshaies

under Jib alone. At Deshais we motor into the harbor and look for a spot to drop the hook. Crowded. Rumor has it that this season there are fewer boats plying the Caribbean waters and that’s fine by us; however, here there are about 30 boats anchored. And when I say harbor it’s actually a dent in the side of the mountain, the French call it and Anse – or in English – a cove.

There we anchor only be taunted by the winds slicing down from the mountains, throwing everyone catawampus and bringing boats closer to  each other then their owners would like. I go ashore and try to clear in with customs and immigration but the office is closed. An internet cafe’ has arranged to handle the procedures for this port making the paper work easy. So back to the boat and we’ll do the paper work tomorrow.

That evening a dinghy arrives ready to take our breakfast order, we choose a couple of chocolate crossiants  and look forward to a good rest.

Restaurant at Jordin

Restaurant at Jordin

The following day we plan our attack on visiting Guadeloupe the country and discover that instead it is a department of the French Government. So we effectively in France!  Then we shop a bit, walk a bit, find an ATM – at the Post Office – and withdraw some Euros (there is no bank here).  We’re told to go to the Jardin Botanical Gardens; it’s a must -everyone has said so, and we plan on visiting tomorrow.

The following morning before we leave the boat we first have to move it. The winds have been blasting all the boats in the anchorage and ours while continually resetting the anchor has repositioned us much closer to the a boat that was behind us and here first. We re-anchor,  twice. The spot I wanted wasn’t available so we dropped the hook farther out then I wanted. Just as we were anchoring, the place I was hoping for opened up. So we picked up the anchor again and moved to the “ideal” place. I spoke to Lala again, asked them to keep an eye on the boat as we were going to visit Jardin and Henry said he would.

Good Luck

Good Luck

Up the hill we went. A 1,500 meter hike up the mountain. It took

Beautiful

Beautiful

us about 30 minutes to walk there (remember W/ has me in tow) and once there we were entirely awed. My mother would have loved the place and would have wanted to live there!  (She’s a bit of a plant / garden freak LOL). We spent about 3 hours going from one end to the next (the woman at the gate said the tour was approx 1 1/2 hours – Ha! ). We also had our first all French experience eating alone. Our menu was in French, our waitress was French and spoke very little English, and our guess’ were close to what we thought we were ordering.  The meal was excellent. Cruising through our French for Cruisers handbook we discover enough to ask the waitress for the check and in my

Full Color

Full Color

butchered up French I asked a fellow diner if they can speak English.

Gimme that Camera

Gimme that Camera

Fortunately one went to a school astute enough to require a second language and I was able to ask them about tipping. What a pleasant surprise when we discover that tipping is frowned upon, that the wait staff are paid a living wage. We walked out of Jardin about 75 euros poorer but much richer for the experience.

Down the hill we go, back to the boat and a day of R n R.

However the following day we again find our boat appears to be moving ( I did dive the anchor the first two days but today it was too stirred up and I couldn’t see more then 5′ in front of me on a 40′ bottom). So we re-anchor and await our Croissant breakfast. Then we plan on leaving. The winds are fluky, weak, nothing, blowing 40, blowing from the W on one side of the harbor and the E on the other, so we figure, lets get out of here.

Southern Tip of Guadeloupe

Southern Tip of Guadeloupe

There are 4 possible stops between here and the Isle de Saints off the S tip of Guadeloupe.  We’ll eventually end up there if we don’t stop at one of the earlier anchorages. We’re motoring into light S winds. Then the winds turn E; I should say breeze, now it looks like it’s turning SW. Ok, an on shore breeze, maybe we can sail. We’re about an hour or so out and I pull out the Jib. Ok, so far so good. W/ and I talk about it and I put up the Mainsail. Great! We turn off the engine and bam, no wind. I mimic Beattle Baily of the comic strip with some rather colorful vocabulary and then I begin to take down the Mainsail. W/ starts the engine and I roll up the Jib. We’re motoring S with no wind. But, there is wind up ahead, we can see it on the water and 5 minutes later it is blowing 25kts; you guessed it, out of the exact direction we want to go. Our speed demon sailing companions on Lison Life had to motor this coast …. in calm weather; we get to motor straight into the winds for about 4 more hours. YUCK! To put it mildly.

The too means that none of the stops along this coast will be any good. They’ll all be exposed and either open to the wind or the swell. The best one that is rather enclosed has a hard bottom and room for very few boats. As we go by there are 4 boats in there. So we keep going, keep motoring, collecting spray, cursing Mariah, and eventually we arrive at Les Saints, anchor in relatively calm water and breath a sigh of relief.

Fair Winds