Posts Tagged ‘Les Saintes’

Deep Blue

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010
Isle De Saintes, Guadeloupe

Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe

The water is deep here. Deep and Blue. We anchored in 50′ of water and let out 200′ of chain. The boat held. We have a good catenary with this much depth. We’re here, the red roofs are pretty, the anchorage is calmer than Deshaies. And we’re looking forward to exploring, hiking, and eating some good french cooking.

We met up with Sea Otter; Randy and Julie for a hike around the town. They’ve been

Shall we jump down the hole?

Shall we jump down the hole?

here before and we elected them to lead the way and show us the sites. Fortunately for us; they obliged.

hikingndesaintes

Hiking in des Saintes

We ended up walking up to three lookouts and ate at a couple of different restaurants. I can’t say the food was awesome, some was good, some was interesting, and one item; black blood pudding – no one ate nor would they try!

The first day’s hike was up a small overlook that we could see the entire harbor from. The gin clear water looked inviting and yet no one choose to become a cliff diver from here. We’re only about a 100′ up and we enjoyed the breezes, the view and found an iguana that had created a burrow for itself / and or family. Guess I’ll need to look up more on them.

We found a small pizza place and Julie, W/ and I had pizza while Randy looked on. Pizza’s not his favorite. Thank you Randy, and lucky us.

We retired to our boats for some R n R. Yep we’re all tired. The life of a cruiser is frought with hard hikes, long lunches, and new friends.  Oh well, someone has to do it.

Thankfully, No Guns

Thankfully, No Guns

The following day; or was it two, we chose to go up the big mountain but Julie’s back was giving her a lesson in neglected care and so we went up to the Napoleon Fort. This one only stood about 500′ above sea level and they’ve restored much of the Fort. We paid our 4 euros each and walked into a world I never would have wanted to live in. Some people think we have it rough living on the boat. Ha!  Try living in a Fort that is in the middle of a mountain and with mostly a desert climate. The vast majority of plants here are Cacti!  We asked the baker if it ever rains here and he laughed at us. (Yes, we’re often lucky that other countries thought it important enough to teach their children more than one language and we can find them scattered throughout the population).

There we walked around the fort, through the fort, tried to scale the wall of the fort, walked in the dry moat, looked out the gun ports, and imagined what it would be like to sleep here. At the fort is a museum of les Saintes with many artifacts on display, paintings, old maps, charts, old boat models, boat battle models, and a video (in French) of living in the past in les Saintes. We retired for the day back to our boats for some more rest and relaxation.  The big hill is tomorrow; or maybe the day after. 🙂

We arise early, well as cruisers it’s early. We have the refrigeration charged, the batteries charged, a bottle of water packed with our camera, wallet and some msc supplies. We met Julie and Randy at the dock at 8:15 am. I even have my tennis shoes on for this hike. The trail may be a little slippery, my feet may start to ache, my legs might feel it and so I / we went prepared; almost.

The mountain we were hiking up is called Le Chameau and a hair over 1,000 feet above sea level. There is an old fort there we’re hoping we can get to the top of. Then we expect to see, Dominica, Guadeloupe, and all of les Saintes.

Randy & Julie

Randy & Julie

We start relaxed and joking, we find the trail with some discussion and a couple of signs. Fortunately the trail is really a road and we walk in scarffed concrete all the way up. But with a small mountain, and narrow islands there aren’t really many switch backs. They may call them switch backs, we switched directions but mainly we went up. Of course we took every possible chance for any pictures. That was the

Da King and Queen

Da King and Queen

excuse however, the reality was we NEEDED the breaks because the grade was extreme. As a ski slope this mtn would have made a good one. About two hours later, after passing the city dump (yeah, they drive half way up the mtn to dump the garbage down the other side), hundreds of mountain Orchids, goats and feral chickens, we could see the fort  at the top. Here

Orchid No?

Orchid No?

the nice cement trail / road ended and we left for what looked like the Appalacian trail to finish the trek. And fortunately too the fort was open and “free” so we were able to climb the aged rusting ladders to the top for the spectacular view the islands in this area.

And what a view (View from LeChameau).  We spend at close to an hour looking at the squalls moving across the channel between here and Guadeloupe, watching the wind move across the water, the zones with wind and the zones without. Watching mother nature at work is mesmerizing; like watching something fully self aware. We talked with a couple other hikers that made the same trek we did. We eventually decided that hunger was beginning to win over exhaustion and figured the only way to satisfy the demands of the stomach was to descend. There were no restaurants here, no refreshment stands, there was nothing here except a great view, an old fort and 4 weary hikers.

Gourmet Goat Food

Gourmet Goat Food

Down we went to find a restaurant. A reasonable restaurant. On the way we discovered what happens to bagetes that aren’t sold. We passed a goat farm and there we discovered about 20 goats with a load of bagetes strewn about the grounds. They were happily chomping on what many consider a luxury and some a necessity of living in France.

So we eventually found one to our liking, on the water, reasonable, and with cold beer!  But the search wasn’t as easy as driving down the street and looking at those available. We sat in one that had a great reputation, was a little pricey, but had an odor coming from the beach area. Oops, up and out we went. We walked down the street and there was a menu but the place looked closed. On the ground there was an almost worn off blue arrow directing us down an alley/ sidewalk that W/ barely fit through. With her having to watch her step we (Randy and I) had to turn sideways to get to the restaurant. And we found a great hide away on the beach.

There we finished our meal but left the “blood pudding”, which didn’t look appetizing, didn’t smell appetizing, and didn’t sound appetizing.  Back to our boats to recover from the day of work. There we rested, read, and rested some more, figuring that it’s time to move South. Sea Otter went the following day. We looked over the GRIBS and chose to wait a day. It was beginning to blow, it wasn’t from a favorable direction. It wasn’t going to be fun. So we waited. But Mother Nature never learned to listen to the predictions and she gave Sea Otter a favorable passage to Dominica. We followed the next day.  We too had a relatively pleasant sail to Portsmouth, Dominica.

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