Saturday, June 18, 2011

Guadeloupe and The Saints

Tuesday 14 June – Thursday 16 June

Steve goes into customs at 8 to clear us out of Antigua, as I go to the Post Office that opens at 8:15 to mail my postcards. Steve has to fill out the exact same form ONLY difference one says arrival one says departure, you would think they could just add an extra line on one of the forms. As I enter the PO two workers are there so I ask for stamps for my postcards and the lady tells me no I have to wait, that the cashier is not there yet. By 8:45 Steve is done checking out and has come to find me still waiting for the PO cashier, seems she had to bring her baby to day care so is not at work yet. Yes life is different in the islands. A mail carrier comes by but still no cashier, finally the other lady working in the PO feels sorry that it is taking so long and says it will be okay for me to leave my money and cards with her and she will buy the stamps when the cashier gets in. HOPE she does !! Back to the boat, take the motor off the dinghy for the passage, stop by the fuel dock on the way out and we are leaving English Harbour by 10. Partly cloudy skies, chance of scattered thunderstorms, 10-15 knot winds with 1-2 foot swells both on the beam. By 11 the winds have picked up a little so we are able to just sail, no motor, feels and sounds great as we are doing 7+ knots. As we get further from land the swells increase to 4-5' with an occasional 6' swell, still on the beam so able to sail comfortably. Around 1 we can see a thunderstorm getting close, and the winds are increasing and shifting direction. We roll up the genoa, and reef the main as the winds clock all around kicking up confused seas. Only get a few drops of rain but the wind and waves toss the boat around a little, next thing we know we have lost GPS and auto pilot. Hand steering get the boat back on course and Steve goes down below to see if he can figure out what happened. Turns out a book came flying off a shelf and somehow hit the autopilot breaker turning it off so all he had to do was flip it back on. 30 minutes later wind has died down, seas still a little confused but able to put sails back out and just sail again. Once we come along the coastline of Guadeloupe we lose all wind so roll up the sails and motor the last 3 miles to Deshaies ( pronounced Day – hay). We are anchored in Deshaies Bay off the town of Deshaies by 4. There had been some threatening rain clouds as we approached the coast of Guadeloupe and just as we are getting ready to go check in the guy from the boat anchored next to us comes up and explains that with the wind clocking around the bay boats will do a 360 spin and he is afraid we are too close. We think we have enough room but never want to upset someone already anchored we agree to move with no problem. Of course that is when the skies open up as I am on deck getting the anchor up and resetting it in a new location, but it is warm enough that it actually feels refreshing. The rain lets up for a few minutes but we can see more is on the way so checking in will wait until Wednesday morning. Hot and muggy, so glad we can run the generator and have A/C. The village has a customs office, but the word is that finding someone there is rare. So the place to check in at is Le Pelican, a combo internet cafe, photo/copy shop, & souvenir shop. We were able to check in and get postcards & STAMPS all in the same place, what a country ! Quick stroll around the quaint little town, stop for a bottle of water and to address the postcards, & drop them off at the Post Office. The tourism office is closed, we wanted to pick up some info for when we return as there is a lot to see and do inland on Guadeloupe. The internet service we signed up for in Antigua has an outlet here but the signal was not connecting, so we stopped by the shop and she told us they were aware of the problem and a technician was supposed to be out in the afternoon to fix it. Being that she said they had the problem for a week and that we are deep into “island time” territory we will be surprised if we get internet in the afternoon. Stop at the local fruit stand to pick up a few items and the grocery store then back to the boat for lunch. After lunch we go for a walk along the ridge by Hemingway’s restaurant to see the ruins of an old fort, a few cannons (the Caribbean is literally littered with these things!) and then back into town to pick up a few more things. The internet is still not working so Steve goes by another place and gets a days worth of service. Back at the boat we get cleaned up and go into town for a lovely dinner at L'Amer on a balcony with the waves lapping the shore just beneath us and a view of our boat at anchor. I have “Colombo Chicken”, which the waiter says is chicken cooked with “local spices” Turns out it's chicken in a delicious curry sauce which Steve figures is named after Colombo, Sri Lanka (ne Ceylon), but way toned down on the chili. The adventures of eating when you don't understand the language or local terminology, food was very good just different from what we expected ! Steve of course does not care as he will eat anything, the more unusual the better but I am not as adventurous when it comes to food. Thursday we are underway around 9 heading for Pigeon Island, part of the Cousteau National park. Stopping by to pick up a mooring and snorkel for a little before continuing south. No problem picking up one of the day moorings available to boaters, BUT no painter line just the loop to thread our line through, so I miss the 1st one and get the next one with Steve's help. It is a great place to snorkel and next time back would be worth doing a dive further out into the park. As we are circling the island and heading back to the boat the tide starts to come in and I can NOT make any forward progress. With my knee still on the mend I can not kick as hard as I need to to fight the current. Steve swims ahead and goes back to the boat to get the dinghy to come back and get me, surprised at how far I have drifted down the island as I wave my bright yellow fin to direct him to me. Back to the boat for lunch and back underway, once Steve finally gets our mooring line off as it had become JAMMED into the plastic tubing around the loop from the ball. Originally we had planed to stop at an anchorage just a short distance away, but now we decide we have time to make it all the way to the Saints by 5, so we are underway heading further south down the west coast of Guadeloupe. What a crazy shoreline this is to travel along, the wind comes down off the mountains and valleys and is constantly shifting. One minute it is 8 knots of breeze next it is 25, one minute it is an off shore breeze next it is an on shore breeze. Even the swells change ! It is still a breathtaking view making our way south along the coast, one of the most beautiful coastlines we have seen. Once past the southwestern tip of Basse Terre, Guadeloupe there is no more land effect and just good old wind on the beam as we cross over to the Saints. The Saints are a group of islands between Guadeloupe & Dominica, a great cruising destination that we will come back and explore after Hurricane season. For now we will just anchor overnight before heading on to Dominica. Again breathtaking is the word that comes to mind, we are still so amazed at how each place is just more and more beautiful. They have set up moorings in all of the designated anchorages, and we choose to stay out by Ilet Cabrit, since we will not even be checking in just passing through as hard as that is. Again I have trouble with the mooring, again no painter line just a metal ring and I can not lift the whole mooring ball up high enough to get our line thru, and with my knee can not get down to it, Steve runs up as I am walking the mooring and line back and he is able to get the line through and we are secured. I am thinking about starting a universal mooring design LOL, I can only wish. Expecting someone to come out and collect for the mooring, but no one does they are free for now. Dinner on board and finally have a nice breeze during the night to keep the boat cool and comfortable, that is until the 1 am shower that wakes us to do our hatch closing dance. Friday morning we enjoy the beautiful scenery from the boat as we read up again on Dominica our next stop on our journey south.

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